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Years Later

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Years later and Andrew still finds her blood on the floor. Dark red or a dirty brown, dried up. He thinks it has eaten its way into the floor, into the wood and will never be gone.

He calls the others when he finds new splatters; he calls whoever’s around at the moment because one of the gang is always around and Andrew knows they’re there because they’re afraid he’ll lose it one day. Or because he already has, he’s not too sure about that anymore.

Most of the time it’s Xander who comes over, still the one who has to do the dirty work. A worker, not a hero, and he still does it without complaining (but he doesn’t want to see Andrew and Andrew knows that, feels that, but there is blood on the floor). Xander walks in, stoic and calm, and Andrew shows him the blood, and he cleans the floor, never saying a word about it.

Sometimes Andrew tries to talk about Dawn but Xander never lets him, always tells him to shut up, not to speak of Dawnie (she’s still Dawnie for him, even now, three years after her death, and he knows she would have hated it), to just be quiet and sometimes he gets angry before he leaves and sometimes he cries.

Other times it’s Buffy who walks into Andrew’s apartment, grim face and unyielding body, slayer all the way, and she mutters something under her breath and Andrew thinks it sounds like “it’s not even blood.” But he never says anything about it and she never says it aloud.

Both of them check his windows and the bars over them every time. And then they check his door, hands sliding over it, pushing and kicking. Neither the windows nor the door give and they smile, more bitter than happy.

Three years ago this door gave. Three years ago, the windows shattered (he still has a scar on his foot where he stepped on one of the shards).

Most of the time Andrew is alone in his apartment (it once belonged to Dawn, too). The others don’t want to come; they don’t want to be in these rooms unless he calls them and talks about Dawn and blood. He used to be afraid when he was alone. Now he is terrified.

Andrew isn’t a good fighter. He tries too hard, he thinks too much and his arm and his weapon follow his brain instead of his instincts. But his mind isn’t fast enough (it wasn’t fast enough and Dawn was …there) to follow the fight, to make the right decisions. He isn’t Buffy, who feels the fight in her veins, who feels it in her heartbeat. He isn’t Willow, his murder just filled him up with guilt and fear and feelings that are too messed up to be given a name, while she is…good and dark and has powers that scare him more than Buffy’s brute strength. He isn’t Xander either, who simply learned to fight, who works in battle while the others dance around him.

He surely isn’t Dawn (she learned so much after Sunnydale and she was still so old, shimmers of green and yellow in her eyes after a fight) and he never understood the way she fought or how she moved around him. He never knew where she would be and he was in her way all the time. But Dawn always smiled and moved around him, easy and smooth (she bled the same way).

Sometimes Andrew wonders how long he will survive without Dawn backing him up and with the others avoiding him. He is an outsider now, as he should have been all the years before and he can feel his life counting down. When he wakes from his nightmares (he sees Dawn’s smile again in them) he almost knows how many days he still has left but the number flees his mind and is replaced by the white ceiling above his head. He never asks himself where this number came from, he’s too scared that the dead will talk again.

Three years ago he and Dawn had been in the very same bed (he just couldn’t give it away, the same way he couldn’t move out and he knows that the others hate him a bit for that), and god, he still remembers the way she smiled at him just before the demons crashed through the windows and the door flew open to let even more of them in.

He doesn’t remember the fight (it was like all the others before), he only knows that he had a sword in his hand and he flailed around with it in the hope of hitting something, of killing something, of protecting Dawn. And then he turned because there was something behind him (Dawn was always so damn fast after Sunnydale, she almost moved like a demon then) and he turned and stabbed and then he had blood on his sword, on his hands and Dawn…Dawn was on the ground.

Dawn didn’t die that night, she died the next day at the hospital with the others around her and Andrew outside the room, sitting on the floor because the others didn’t want him around (she asked where he was before she died). And he didn’t move when they left the room, all of them crying (he had never seen Buffy crying before), all of them broken and a little dead inside, like Dawn. He didn’t move.

When he came back there was blood on the floor. Red and brown and dead, little rivers and lakes drying and creating a crazy pattern in front of him. The blood was seeping into the floor, as if the wood was the earth they had buried Dawn in four days later (Buffy called him a murderer at the funeral and he knows that she was right, is right, he still feels the blood slipping through his fingers) and he tried so hard to clean the floor that his hands started to bleed, too (it looked like Dawn’s blood to him).

There was blood on the floor. It’s still there now.