Dawn made a slit in stem of the daisy with her thumbnail, and carefully slid another daisy through.
She and Emma and Alice had been all over the village and Giles' farm today, playing tag with the younger kids, doing errands for Emma's mother, petting Giles' horses, floating twigs in the pond, and talking non-stop. But Emma had to go babysit, and Alice had a piano lesson. Dawn wandered on her own some, ending up in a field of wild flowers. She loved this place. Way different from the manicured lawns and cemeteries of Sunnydale.
The watchword for the summer was lazy. Even Giles was taking it easy. But Dawn was learning lots of really important stuff anyway.
Dawn picked another daisy and added it to the chain. She was learning how to get on with regular British kids. Kids who didn't know what a hellmouth was. Kids who liked to talk about clothes and boys and bands. Kids who taught her how to milk cows and make daisy chains.
Dawn slit the daisy's stem, and pushed another daisy through. She was learning what it was like not to live on a Hellmouth. There'd been no vamps near the village since, like, 1923. Xander and Giles let her go wherever, as long as she carried a cross, holy water, her cell phone and gingernuts for the grummitches. Of course, she had to be home before dark, but still, it was so cool! She hadn't been kidnapped even once since she'd moved here.
Dawn picked another daisy, and twirled it between her fingers, watching the petals move in the breeze. Possibly the coolest thing was learning to live with two parents who didn't argue all the time. Dawn knew if she said that to Xander, he'd want to know who was the mom and who was the dad. Not that he'd like her answer. He and Giles were both moms.
Dawn added the daisy to her chain. Giles was the mom who cooked great meals and fussed when she was sick, helped her figure out Ancient Sumarian and paid her an allowance for doing stuff around the farm. Xander was the mom who bought ice cream and made cocoa with little marshmallows, but also set rules and told her to show some respect for Giles' house by keeping her room clean. They were so not the dads who had stupid mid-life crises and pretended their kids didn't exist, and went to live in Spain with women Buffy and Dawn had never even met.
Dawn really, really hoped they were both not the dads who walked out when things got weird. Because things might get really, really weird.
Dawn picked another daisy and frowned at it. It had sounded all cool to be 'the one who sees' when Xander said it. So Dawn had decided to do it too, to pay attention to the people around her. She'd seen that Emma, when she had goodies to share, always gave away the biggest piece. She's seen that Mrs. Parkes always stopped on her way to village to ask if old Mr. Brown needed anything.
And she's seen that Giles was in love with Xander.
Dawn had wigged about that for, like, a minute and a half. Giles was Buffy's watcher. He was older than Dawn's Dad. But Buffy had dated vampires who were way older than that. Old enough to be her great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. Probably more greats than that, even. Plus Giles was like a thousand years younger than Anya. Dawn liked him a thousand times better, too. So Dawn was really, really cool with the whole thing. A kid's parents should be in love.
Now if Dawn could just straighten out Xander. Or Not. So the wrong word. What was it Giles said? Sorted. Now if they could just get Xander sorted.
Dawn knew Xander liked guys, even if he'd never said so. She'd seen him watch good-looking men the same way he watched good-looking women. She didn't know why he hadn't told his friends. But she hadn't said anything either. Her mission was to be the one who sees, not the one who blabs.
Maybe Xander knew Giles liked him, and was afraid it would be awkward if Giles knew Xander liked guys, but didn't like – well, like like – Giles.
Maybe Giles and Xander were both clueless, and all it would take was one little hint from Dawn for them to live happily ever after.
Maybe they were both clueless and all it would take was one little hint from Dawn for Xander to freak out, pack up and move out, leaving Dawn alone with a heart-broken Giles.
Maybe they both knew what was going on, and one little hint from Dawn wouldn't do a darn thing, because they'd already talked about it and decided to just be friends.
Dawn finished her chain, carefully pulling the head of the first daisy through an extra large slit in the last one, making it a circle. Assuming a serious expression, she set her crown ceremoniously on top of her head. As queen, it was her right and responsibility to sort both Giles and Xander.
But even queens need advisors.
Dawn picked one last daisy, and carefully removed a single petal. "I should tell them."
She picked another petal. "I should tell them not."
A third petal. "I should tell them."
A fourth. "I should tell them not."
A drop of rain fell on Dawn's hand. She looked up and noticed the darkening clouds for the first time. Crud. Dawn wasn't 100 percent sure the bag she had her cell phone in was waterproof.
She tucked her advisor into her hair behind her ear for future consultation. She stuffed the bag up her shirt to protect it from the rain, and ran for home. But she was soaked even before she got halfway there. So not a problem. It was kind of fun to run, walk and dance in the warm, English rain. And even queens who were old enough to be in high school liked to jump in puddles.
The rain stopped as Dawn turned into the lane that led to Giles' house. She checked on her cell phone – the bag was waterproof after all, yay! – and squeezed some of the water out of her hair and clothes. Then she straightened her crown. She felt through her hair for her royal advisor, but the daisy must have fallen out during the puddle jumping. Fortunately floral royal advisors are easy to come by. She pulled the handle of the bag onto her shoulder, and picked one of the daisies growing along the edge of the road.
Like all pompous advisors, it took some time for the daisy to get to its final conclusion: Dawn should "tell them not."
The queen was not pleased with this conclusion and summarily beheaded her advisor. Not that Dawn would have liked the other answer either. She needed something better but even the most loyal floral royal advisors weren't known for their original thinking. Dawn giggled. Loyal floral royal. She tried to say it quickly, but it came out all garbled. She'd have to tell Xander. He liked tongue twisters.
Dawn stopped at the front door, looking down at her very damp self. She should probably go in through the kitchen and not drip all over the front hall. Virtuously, Queen Dawn trudged around the side of the house, squishing through the wet grass in her soaked sneakers. She opened the door and stopped dead.
Xander and Giles were kissing. KISSING! In the middle of the kitchen. Oh. My. God.
Dawn closed the door as quietly as she could and squished back to the front door. Giles and Xander so wouldn't care if she dripped in the front hall. They probably wouldn't care if she flooded the front hall and swam in it. This was so great. No way would Xander leave now.
Quietly, oh so quietly, she opened the door and closed it behind her. Leaving her socks and sneakers on the mat to dry, she walked silently up to her room. A shower might make too much noise, so Dawn just toweled off – remembering to remove her crown first – put on dry clothes and shoes and combed her hair.
She thought about wearing the crown again, but decided against it. All was right in her domain. It was time to visit lands were she was not queen.
Dawn found a dry tote bag, and packed it. Then she pulled a piece of paper from a notebook on her desk and wrote a quick note. Taking the paper with her, she snuck back down the stairs and peeked quickly into the kitchen.
Both men faced the window, Xander leaning back against Giles, with Giles' arms loosely around him. They were talking quietly, and they looked like they could happily spend the rest of their lives like that.
Dawn could barely stop herself from squealing with delight.
Before slipping quietly out the front door, she left her note on the table in the hall.
You looked really, really busy. I didn't want to interrupt. If I'm at Emma's house at dinnertime, her mom will invite me to eat with them. She always does. I'll stay there until you call or come get me. No hurry. I've got a change of clothes with me. Emma will invite me to spend the night if I ask her to.
P.S. You have to tell Buffy.
P.P.S. I so want to be there when you tell her.
P.P.P.S. No matter what she says, I approve.