'Was there fine print I didn't see, or what?'
Disclaimer: This story obviously isn't by Joss or approved by Joss, because whenever Joss writes of the gayness, it turns out to be a 'meaningless bit of experimentation', or something to that effect. Or he has one half of the pairing get shot, and the other half go crazy. O_o
Anyways, it's not for profit, so don't hunt me down and kill me.
Author's Note: Okay, sorry yet again for the long pause. I should also add that Reviews and (if you're feeling generous) Recommendations are HUGE. The main reason I drop my writing for months at a time is that I feel like nobody cares one way or the other. So, if you like this or any other story, and want more, then please throw the author a little validation. Thank you.
Hope you enjoy this.
Once upon a time, in a small bedroom, in a small house, in a small town, a girl who was not a girl did something impossible. Reading from the book of Faerie Magick that she had found (well, stolen
) should have come to nothing, or at least so near to nothing as to be the same thing. This because the Fae were gone from that world; they were gone from all
the worlds where they had once dwelled. By now, so much time had passed since their ending that not even memories of them remained, only echoes of those memories, and fragments of tales too vague to even be called myth. None of those ancient beings remained who could hear the girl's call as she read the spell, none remained who could answer. Given that, the book should have been nothing more than a useless curiosity. Only one of the Fae themselves, or one bearing some trace of their blood, could possibly have unlocked the secrets held within its pages... and that blood had faded long ago.
Unexpected, though; unforeseen and unforeseeable, was that this girl, this girl who was not just
a girl, would come to hold the book. That she would find it (well, steal
it), and try to use it. Because even though none now lived with the blood needed to unlock the powers of old, this particular girl had no need of ancient blood to do such things.
Because, as it so happened, the unlocking of things was something for which she was uniquely well-equipped.
* * * * *
Dawn didn't understand why she now found herself sinking through utter darkness and icy-cold water, but here she was. She tried to flail about with her arms and legs in an effort to reach the surface, only to discover that she no longer seemed to have either of those things. She tried to scream, and could not find her voice. For some reason drowning didn't seem to be a concern, though freezing to death was certainly on the agenda as she sank ever deeper in the icy darkness.
Only... it wasn't completely
dark any more. She saw, without benefit of actual eyes with which to do the seeing, tiny points of light all around her. They were cold, and pure, and unimaginably distant. Stars
, she realized, though she didn't understand how that could be, her being underwater and all.
And... that was to be the end of it, the end of her story, of her life. She sensed, somehow, that there wasn't a bottom to this water (though of course it wasn't water at all). She would simply sink, and sink, and then sink some more, and that would keep happening forever. The supernatural cold, which was far colder than actual water ever could be, would eventually freeze solid the very essence of what made her Dawn, and she would fall into a sleep from which there would be no awakening. There was no escaping it; her struggles gained her nothing, and she was not certain she even still had a body in which she could
escape. The worst part is, I'll be alone, forever. And Buffy will be alone too, with no one to love her, or help her through whatever's wrong with her. The others can't even see that she needs help. I was the only one, and now it's too late.
Realizing that she was tiring, that the cold was draining her strength more quickly with each moment, she searched her mind for memories of her sister. Recent memories, real
memories, from the last year, not the clever falsehoods that the monks had created and planted in her mind. Like this: the time I accidentally ran the bathtub over and there were about a zillion gallons of water in the floor, and under the cabinets, and heading out into the hall. Buffy had been on her way to the Bronze, and she stayed with me instead, and helped get it cleaned up before mom got home.
And this: that morning when mom was feeling sick, and we cooked her breakfast, and Buffy let me keep helping even after I burned the toast three times in a row, and spilled juice all over everything.
Here's where she was getting ready to go on a date with Riley, and had on that new dress, and I told her it made her look fat when really I was wishing I could look half as beautiful as her.
This is how she sat with me in the emergency room, and kept the towel pressed against the cuts on my arms, and told me over and over that I was real; that I was her sister.
Here she is making me do my homework, here she is letting me stay up late and snuggle up next to her on the couch, eating popcorn and watching old Jackie Chan movies. This is how she looked when she was mad at me for borrowing her makeup, that's how she felt in the morgue at the hospital, when she held me in her arms while we stood there beside mom's body and cried.
This is the time she was brushing my hair for me, and I almost told her how much I loved her--really loved her, not just in a sistery kind of way, but then chickened out at the last second.
Here she is, laughing at me pretending to be Snyder, and Xander pretending to be the MayorSnake, chomping on me.
This is how she looked when she fought a god, to protect me.
And this is how she looked when she died in my place, and saved us all.
Dawn held those images in her mind; held them close, and then stopped trying to resist the water dragging her down. She let go, and opened herself wide, and waited for everything to end. I love you, Buffy. I always have. Goodbye.
And then, instead of death, or frozen eternity, or anything else spooky and final, something really
odd happened instead.
* * * * *
It was old, this magic, very, very old. Before man, before demons, before the Powers and before the gods, this magic was
. It was, in fact, very nearly as ancient as the universe, and only one concentration of mystical forces was older--the Key itself.
Upon the reading of the spell, the Key that was also a girl reached though barriers that had stood, unbreached, for long, dusty eons. Following the pathway provided by the book, it established a tenuous connection with those ancient forces. Taken aback by the depth and stillness of that sleeping power, the recently-created construct that bound the Key into human form, the mind and soul which gave it thought and emotion, briefly impeded the process. Eventually, however, the controlling consciousness ceased its struggles, and full contact was made.
Then the Key turned within the lock, and an infinite well of power was released from its stasis. A tiny portion, the most insignificant trickle of that potential energy, began to flow back along the channel that had been opened.
And for the first time in half of forever, the power of the Fae reached out to touch the mortal world.
* * * * *
One moment, Dawn had been sinking through icy nothingness by the cold light of distant stars, the next thing she knew, everything reversed. The not-water wasn't icy and still anymore, it was wonderfully, deliciously warm. A moment of vertigo came and went, and she found that instead of sinking, she was actually floating in place, and it was the vibrant warmth that was rising past her. Past her, and somehow into
her, filling every part of her with energy that felt older than time itself, and at the same time eternally young, ever-renewed and reborn, just as the world itself was reborn each day with the coming of the dawn.
The stars changed too, their pale light shifting slowly to a rich, vibrant emerald. She watched them begin to move downwards, and belatedly realized that it was she who was now rising, buoyed up by the slow, powerful upwelling of warmth from the endless depths below.
Shifting her eyeless vision upwards, she saw the interface between universes, and knew the green-edged portal there was somehow her doing. Passing through the shimmering wall, she--
---Opened her eyes, and found herself still in her room, still sitting cross-legged on her bed.
* * * * *
"Eeep!" It wasn't the most profound of statements, true, but it did sum up her feelings at that moment pretty well.
Dawn took a few deep breaths, mostly to convince herself that she was breathing air now, and not water, or magic, or whatever that cold-then-warm stuff had been. When she was reasonably sure that everything there was as it should be, she took a look around.
Still her room, check.
Still illuminated by dozens and dozens of drifting, softly glowing lights of every possible hue, check.
And the book, the little tome of faerie magic that was responsible for all this, was still sitting on her lap... not. She raised her hands, and found that the book was gone, disintegrated into a handful of glittering powder that spilled through her fingers and disappeared before reaching the sheets. It saddened her that something so old was gone now, but it had served its purpose, though not in a way that had been intended, she was certain.
Still looking at her hands, she saw that they weren't coated in that odd dust anymore either, the stuff that had had such an... interesting effect on her body, earlier. They looked normal, if slightly different than she remembered; maybe a little slimmer, more graceful? She shook her head, wondering if she were imagining the change. Maybe I even imagined
all of it
, she thought to herself. Who's to say that I'm not completely loopy, and spending all this time lost in some hallucination or
No. She couldn't believe that, not when she could feel the change even now, in every particle of her body and every corner of her soul. It had happened, she was
"How different?" she asked aloud, then smiled nervously as she heard the soft music that was her voice. "Hello? Testing, testing... echo!" Even when she spoke louder, it still came out sounding quite beautiful and melodic. There was a momentary temptation to try her dreaded nails-on-a-chalkboard shriek, just to see what would happen, but she managed to stifle it. Instead she leaped up from her bed and into the center of her room in a single bound, remembered too late that she much too clumsy to manage such a thing without sprawling headlong or tripping face-first into a wall--
--And was quite surprised when the movement was performed with lithe grace and no effort whatsoever. Caught between the need to frown and the urge to giggle, she bounced into the air and fluttered her feet for a moment before landing. That was practically asking
for a sprained ankle or bruised knee or possibly both, and still she managed it. More than that, it was easy. Her body felt incredibly light, as if her bones had been made hollow, or perhaps it was just that something as mundane as gravity no longer had an unbreakable hold on her. Without thinking, she rose up on her toes, then on one toe.
No problem. She spun in place like a jewelry box ballerina, and the giggles broke free at last. Every movement was effortless, though also possessed of a faintly dreamy, slow-motion quality. She halted her spin, and her long hair kept twirling for a moment longer, ending up wrapped around her body from shoulders to knees. That brought her up short, and she used both hands to gather up the heavy silken weight of it. Oooh, pretty. I mean, I've always liked having it long, but I never thought about growing it out
When she dropped it, her hair cascaded down to swirl gently around her, the ends touching her legs just below mid-shin. It shimmered with thousands of tiny glints and sparkles, and was several hundred shades of something much too rich and beautiful to be called 'brown'. She played with it for a minute, fervently hoping that some equally wonderful magic would show up when it was time to wash all of it, or even brush it out. Then, belatedly, she turned and stepped up to her dresser mirror.
At first what she saw there left her feeling disappointed. She still looked like Dawn, more or less. Maybe the shape of her face was a little different; chin narrower, cheekbones nicer, nose smaller. Her eyes, which she'd always secretly considered the prettiest of any she'd ever seen, were still that wonderful mix of blue and green, though they seemed larger, and had a faintly exotic cast to them now. Small changes, though the end result was quite lovely, in a delicate, heart-shaped sort of way. Her body was likewise mostly unchanged, though she realized with a start that the dresser top was too high. Reaching experimentally for a hairbrush she'd left there, she didn't have to reach down as far as she usually did.
"Oh... my... God. I'm short!"
And she was. She'd been reasonably tall for a girl, around five foot, seven inches. Now.... Well she wasn't sure, but everything definitely looked to be a little higher up than it had been an hour ago.
"Six inches shorter, at least," she whispered unhappily, standing next to the dresser and noting how it now came up to her stomach, instead of her hip. She peered into the mirror fearfully, hoping desperately that she didn't now look like some stumpy refugee from Snow White. Fortunately, that wasn't the case at all. If anything, she was even slimmer and more willowy-looking than before, and when she gathered up the loose material of her oversized tee-shirt, it revealed a really tiny waist. Her breasts probably hadn't changed size at all, though the narrow waist served to emphasize what fullness she did have. Her hips and behind were subtle curves, her legs long (in proportion, at least) and graceful. All in all she looked gorgeous, although aside from the hair it was all a subtle sort of thing, the sort of beauty you had to look at twice before it really registered, though once you'd seen it you would never forget.
"Oh, and I'm not glowy any more," she noticed with a start. Just like on her hands, the magical, multi-hued dust from the book had vanished without a trace. She touched a fingertip to the spot on her upper arm where the ugliness of a large mole had been bothering her forever. Gone now, leaving only smooth, porcelain-perfect skin behind. Perfect... and also sparkling softly in the magical light that bathed her. Rubbing at it with her finger had no effect; it was coming from her skin itself, not from anything on the surface. Yikes. I look like I'm heading for a rave, and went nuts with the body glitter.
She glared at the offending sparkles, though she was not entirely displeased. It looked neat, it looked pretty, and she had a feeling that it was the least of the changes that had occurred.
One thing, however, had definitely not
changed, and once the distracting novelty of her new look had faded a bit, she had no choice but to face up to it--She was... excited. Sort of tingly, and twitchy, and uncomfortably flushed. Looking in the mirror she could actually see her pale face turn faintly pink with embarrassment.
"The dust might be gone, but I'm still feeling like I did when it was on me." Actually this was even worse, because it was all over, and inside her too, instead of being just where some magical sex-dust had coated her skin. She fidgeted, wondering what she should do about it. Laying down in her bed and tending to her own needs as usual seemed like the way to go. It wasn't like she could just walk down the hall, go into her sister's room and fulfill her wildest fantasy by making love... to... Buffy?
Staring at her reflection, Dawn actually saw her pupils grow huge as the realization struck.
do that," she whispered to the delicate beauty in the mirror. "I can, and...." Something in the back of her mind caught her attention, and she regarded it for an endless minute before nodding. "I can, and I need
to. Because this was all about her in the first place, and this is how I can heal her." The fact that it would also make her most cherished dream come true was purely a coincidence, really.
Dawn straightened up, pushed a wayward strand of glittering hair back over her shoulder, and then froze in an agony of indecision. Should she brush her hair? Put on makeup? She wasn't sure what was about to happen, exactly, but if she were going to seduce someone shouldn't she look her best? She reached for a tube of lip-gloss, froze again, and burst out laughing.
"Okay, am I kidding
? She's not going to care what I look like, she's going to freak. It's going to take magic, not Maybelline, to make this happen." Then, despte what she'd just said, she plucked unhappily at the fabric of her tee-shirt nightgown. It had been big on her before; now it hung on her like a tent. So....
A thought, a look, a spill of tingling warmth from beyond the mortal world... and her unspoken desire came to be. The shirt shifted, altered, and flowed over her body. The cotton turned to gossamer, thinner and softer than silk. Long, loose sleeves, a neckline that left her shoulders bare and showed just a hint of cleavage, with a flowing skirt short enough to show off her legs all the way to mid-thigh in front, but falling in graceful swirls to her ankles in back. The color of the material shifted to a semi-sheer ivory, trimmed in an abstract pattern of blue green.
Dawn released the power, felt it grow still within her, and looked down at what she'd done.
"That... is pretty darn nifty. Maybe I really am
a total magical badass now!" She smiled, did a pirouette in front of the mirror, then quirked an eyebrow at herself. "Or maybe not. Guess we'll find out."
She turned gracefully, half-walked half-danced across to the door, and--
--Gave a soft yelp of pain, yanking her hand back from the doorknob. A glance showed her palm to be red, though the burn was already fading. Bending forward slightly, she peered at the round metal knob. It looked harmless enough, and she could detect no hostile or dangerous magicks around it, and yet....
A quick, cautious touch with her fingertip made her wince again.
"It's hot? Like red-hot, hot, but without the glowing red part." The wood of the door itself wasn't charred or burned where the metal touched it, so she couldn't figure out what the deal was with the burning thing. With a faint scowl she narrowed her eyes at the offending object and willed it to transform, to become the same oak as the door.
Nothing happened. She felt the power moving through her, spilling out of her towards the thing, and... nothing. Biting her lip, Dawn considered this, decided it could wait, and refocused her attention on the door itself. Immediately the wood began to warp and flow, moving out to the sides to form a heavy, ornate archway. The metal of the knob and hinges was still visible, embedded in the wood to either side, and she stuck her tongue out at them as she slipped out into the hall.
The moment she set foot out there, the nightlight at her end of the hall started to flicker, and the smoke detector up by the ceiling began to make the chirping sound it made when the battery was low. Dawn stopped short, looked from one to the other, and shook her head at the faint buzzing in her ears. It wasn't actually a sound, exactly, because it seemed to be deeper inside her head than her eardrums could possibly be. It also wasn't painful, exactly, though it wasn't a fun experience, either. It's definitely annoying, that's for sure. How do I make it... ah, how about this?
She raised her hands, held them out to either side as she let the power well up inside her... then she pushed
. The nightlight blinked off without any fuss, and the smoke detector went silent, the little red light fading as well.
* * * * *
Downstairs, the refrigerator in the kitchen quietly died. The battery-operated clock on the living room wall froze in place, and the standby light on the coffeemaker faded to nothing. In the houses next door, every light and appliance suffered the same fate, leaving a few insomniacs cursing and looking for flashlights. When even those proved to be inoperative, they resorted to candles instead. Down the street, a passing car suddenly stalled and died, and the driver was hard-pressed to keep it under control until it coasted to a stop. When she tried to restart it, the vehicle failed to respond in any way.
Everything electrical within a five-block radius ceased to function in that same instant, and the sealed boxes of electronic equipment at the foot of the local cell-phone tower exploded in a shower of sparks and half-molten circuitry.
* * * * *
Upstairs in the Summers home, Dawn nodded smugly at the now thoroughly cowed nightlight and smoke alarm. See? Now I can do things like that and not even mess it up. Being able to do magic is great!
The hallway was pitch-dark for a long moment, then it brightened as the tiny faery lights drifted through the archway from her room and hovered all around. She looked at them, sighed, and looked at her palms. I hope that this isn't
all I end up being able to manage. A few pretty lights, a nice dress, and the power to zap a nightlight isn't much compared to what's running around loose in Sunnydale.
She was somewhat comforted by the knowledge that thus far she had exerted only a small fraction of her power. And of course it isn't actually my job to go out and fight demons or anything; that's what the Slayer is for. And speaking of Slayers, that's who all of this is for... so lets go do some magic!
She moved down the hall, her bare feet seeming to barely touch the carpet as she padded to Buffy's door. The lights followed along, seeming to catch something of Dawn's nervous excitement as they made tiny bouncing motions, and flared brighter then dimmer, then more brightly still. She stopped in front of the door, looking around at them and waving one hand frantically.
"Shh!" she whispered, though of course the lights were completely silent. They did calm down a bit, and she turned her attention back to the door. The handle was identical to the one that had burned her hand, so she couldn't take hold of it to open it. Shaping the whole door again would work, she would just have to be careful not to wake up--
The door was yanked open just as she was reaching out to touch it with her fingers, and she gave a little shriek of surprise as she jumped. Buffy, for her part, gave her an angry, sleep-sullen stare that slowly turned tense and wary instead.
"Buffy! Hi!" Dawn put her hands behind her back, as if to hide what she'd been up to, and clasped her fingers tightly together. "Umm.... Still having trouble sleeping?"
Her sister looked first at her, then at the drifting, glowing lights, then back again.
"Dawn," she said, in a flat voice whose weariness had nothing to do with lack of sleep. "What have you done now
* * * * *
Dawn grinned nervously at her sister.
"What? 'Done'? Nothing!" Buffy's stare went from Dawn's face, to the drifting lights, then back to her face. The younger girl looked too, and her grin sort of drained away, leaving only the nervousness behind. Obviously a lie wasn't going to work, so she decided to try something crazy and tell the truth.
"Okay, okay, there might have been a teeny
little spell, but I did it to heal--"
"Great," Buffy grumbled, cutting her off. "I don't know what part of 'never, never, ever
try to do magic, Dawn' you didn't understand the first thirty times. Must be some teen rebellion thing." She rubbed at her eyes, glanced back at the digital clock on her nightstand, and frowned when she saw that it was dark. With one final, faintly-disgusted glance at the girl, she turned and walked back into her room. "I'll call Giles, and see if he can come over to take care of this. If we wait until Willow gets back from her Wicca party deal you'll probably have turned into a big blob of yogurt or something."
Dawn stood there, working to push back the familiar feeling of hopeless despair that came crashing down whenever Buffy dismissed her like that. It wasn't even that her sister was angry or upset at what Dawn had done, because she wasn't
. The apathy in her voice, and the empty distance in her eyes made it clear that she barely cared at all. She was going through the motions of being a sister, and a Slayer, and all the rest, but she didn't seem to actually care
about any of it at all. She'd been like that ever since coming... back. The others thought she had gotten better, that she had at least made real progress in reconnecting with her old life.
They were wrong. Dawn saw it, even if they didn't. Buffy wasn't better at all, she was just better at hiding whatever was wrong with her.
"Stupid cell phone," Buffy said, pushing buttons on the dead device over and over. She looked up, the reflected faerie light making her green eyes look more beautiful ever... and more distant. "Did the label on that spell list any side-effects? Drowsiness, dizziness, interruption of phone service?"
The blonde smiled faintly at her own joke, and it was painful to watch her speak the words; a tape-recorder would have shown more genuine emotion.
"No, nothing like that," Dawn said, her beautiful new voice soft and earnest. "It said
that it could help someone with an empty heart; that it could heal them." She took a deep breath. "That's why I did it, Buffy. I cast it to heal you
A long moment's silent appraisal greeted her announcement, then Buffy grimaced.
"Yeah. Right. Great, thanks a lot for that." A quick look out the window had her shaking her head in irritation, even as she leaned over to pick up her shoes. "Well, it looks like you managed to 'heal' every house on the block, and the streetlights, too." Locating her second shoe, she waved the younger girl towards the downstairs. "Go and get the car keys, will you? I'll run you over to Giles' now, and we can talk about this other stuff in the morning."
Dawn took a deep breath, held it for several long seconds, and did the hardest thing she'd done in her entire life.
Buffy stopped looking for a pair of clean sweatpants to put on in place of her pajamas and slowly turned.
"What?" Dawn put her hands at her sides, clenched them into fists, and gathered every scrap of courage she had.
"I said 'no'. We're not going to see Giles." She took one step into the bedroom, then another, and the glowing lights started slipping in behind her to take up positions around the edges of things. Buffy looked at them, a trace of concern showing on her otherwise blank face.
"Dawn... are these things possessing you or something? Are these some kind of evil, girl-possessy things you found in a jar or a crypt, or--" She broke off when Dawn stopped, face to face with her, and then the older girl showed genuine emotion for the first time in far too long. "What the-- You turned into Mini-Me!"
Dawn looked at her, realized she was actually looking up
at her mega-short sister, and sighed. Now that she had a good basis of comparison, she could judge her new height more accurately.
Buffy was petite; five feet one inch, maybe five one and a half on a good day. Dawn was now one or two inches shorter than that
, and slightly built besides, which meant she was tiny.
"Guess you won't have to be jealous of me being able to reach the top shelves in the cabinets any more, huh?" She shook off the minor dismay she felt over the size issue; there were much more important things to think about. "It'll be worth it, if it helps you." Buffy started to speak, started to ask a question or deny needing help or, most likely, to dismiss the girl's words altogether again
. Before that could happen, Dawn leaned in....
...And kissed her.
It lasted less than a second, because Buffy recovered her wits and pushed the smaller Dawn back. Putting her fingers to her lips, she stared at her younger sister and scowled deeply.
possessed. We need to get this taken care of, stat. Come on, lets get going before this gets any--" Dawn stepped forward this time, reaching out to put her arms around the other girl so she could manage a longer kiss. It didn't happen, because Buffy caught both arms at the wrist and effortlessly held them away from her. Dawn hoped, briefly, that she might have gotten some kind of super-strength from the transformation that had hit her, only... nope. She struggled to get free anyway, not to get away, but to get closer. Instinctively she knew that touch was required for her to do any healing. Besides, being this close to Buffy would have had her pulse pounding and her body aching even under normal circumstances; right now every inch of her was tingling and hyperaware of the other girl's nearness.
"I'm not going to hurt you!" Dawn half-shouted in frustration, a lilting, melodic sound even then. "Buffy, let me go. Let me go!"
She didn't want to risk using her power to make
her sister release her; it was still too new, and she had visions of that pretty face morphing into something shapeless and horrible. Even so, she had to do something, or this all would have been for nothing.
"Dawn, calm down. Calm down right...." The voice trailed off as the magical light in the room took on a different quality... and grew brighter. Something was reflected in Buffy's eyes, and Dawn craned her head around, struggling in that iron grip so that she could look behind her. What she saw there was a bit of a shock. Hazy swirls of light had materialized back there, sending the little lights darting to either side to make room. The masses of blue and green light started out as diffuse, shapeless blurs, but became clearer and more defined as they shrank. Dawn's back began to tingle and twitch, and she squirmed, trying to get away from whatever was happening just behind her. When she moved, however, the light moved too, back and forth as she twisted in Buffy's grip. Her sister took a step back, trying to pull her away from whever it was, and the light followed right along. Then, abruptly, it came fully into focus, and both girls stopped, frozen in place as they stared.
Wings. They were wings.
Dawn swallowed painfully, even as the discomfort in her back faded, and a new awareness took its place. She turned her head from side to side, trying to see better, and the softly-glowing appendages flexed and fluttered lightly with the effort. They weren't huge, stiff panels, like a butterfly's wings, though the mottled pattern of blue and green reminded her of those. Instead, they were actually two sets of wings, larger ones above and smaller ones below, like those of a dragonfly, only with feathery, slightly scalloped trailing edges. And the colors, which she'd already noticed. Blue and green, like her eyes, the different patches of colors seperated by lines of silvery-grey. They glowed slightly, too, like stained-glass windows by the light of a full moon.
Dawn flexed a new set of muscles experimentally, and the wings moved in response. She could feel them, too; the slightest change in air movement or pressure was exquisitely clear when it brushed against those delicate surfaces.
They were beautiful, they were real, and they were a part of her. Looking back at Buffy she did her best 'innocent kid sister' look as she smiled sheepishly.
"I look like one of those cute little figurines Anya sells at the Magic Box, don't I? Only bigger." She looked down at herself, then up at her sister. "Okay, slightly bigger."
Buffy stared at her, eyes wide.
you?" She looked like she wanted to pull her hands away, but didn't dare let the smaller girl go. Dawn looked back at her, as earnestly as she knew how.
"I'm still me, Buffy. I'm Dawn." An angry shake of the head was Buffy's reply, accompanied by a minor shaking of Dawn by the arms she still gripped tight.
"No, you're not. Or at least, that's not all
you are. Whatever's in there, whatever this is that's talking to me, you're not going to stay in that body for long. I have friends who can--" She stopped, and with a startled expression looked down. Dawn looked too, and saw that her arms, where Buffy gripped them and where the loose sleeves of her dress had fallen back, were sparkling. Sparking more than they had been earlier, that is, this was more like.... Like the dust on the cover of the book
, she realized suddenly. This wasn't multicolored like that had been, but it was the same shimmery, ultra-fine dust or powder, and it was all over her hands and arms. In fact, where Buffy's hands gripped her wrists, it was coming off her in little cloudy swirls that were faintly visible in the light from her wings.
The Slayer finally did release her, and she looked at her hands in dismay. The fingers and palms were smeared with it, and were glowing ever-so-faintly as well. When she looked up at Dawn, the younger girl nodded in understanding.
"Tingles, huh?" She quirked a little smile. "Neat. That'll make both of our lives a little easier, I think." She reached out with one delicate hand and traced a line of dust across Buffy's cheek. "Now, like I was saying, I cast the spell to heal you. All the rest of this--" She waved at the little floating lights, the dead clock, herself, and of course the wings. "--This is all just a side-effect." Buffy pulled away as far as she could, which put her back against the closed window. Wiping her hands frantically on the legs of her pajama as she tried to process the bizarre turn events had taken.
"Why?" She managed, after a few seconds' struggle. "If that really is you in there, why
did you do this to yourself, Dawnie?" The faerie girl looked back at her sister, eyes tender, and spread her hands.
"Because I love you, Buffy. Because I'm in
love with you, and I'm not going to let you go on hurting. Not when I can help you."
She took a step forward, both hands reaching out, and it was like trying to touch a blur. Buffy was under her outstretched arm and across the entire room in one long leap. She hit the wall opposite her door in the hallway, bounced off, and was already on the stairs before Dawn even finished turning around. Lowering her hands, the girl eyed the doorway, and fluttered her wings in distress.
"Okay, this could be going better...." Even though the wings were only a foot or so wider than her outstretched arms, she still didn't look forward to negotiating the hallway or the stairs with them dragging along the walls. Then something occurred to her, and she looked over her shoulder, eyes narrowed in concentration. The wings, all glowy and delicate and beautiful, suddenly blurred again, going from solid to light to nothingness in a few seconds. When they were gone entirely, she reached over her shoulder and felt around with her hand. Definitely gone. Which is great, only I kind of liked them. Let me see....
Another few seconds of focused thought, and they were back. Dawn hopped up and down, a little squeal of glee escaping in spite of her attempt to contain it. Then she stopped, serious again. Buffy's upset, and no matter how many times I tell her, she's not going to believe that this isn't something evil that's happened to me. So I'm just going to have to
make her believe it. If I can get her to hold still long enough, that is.
She held up one hand, and shook it vigorously. Sparkly dust, finer than talcum powder, shimmered in the air. A mischievous little smile tugged at her lips. I think maybe I can think of something to distract her. It's for her own good, after all, so I'm going to have to distract her a
Donning her own version of Willow's famous 'resolve' face (though Willow's version usually didn't include a generous helping of gleeful lust), Dawn started for the doorway. Then she stopped short, fanned her wings meditatively, and looked down at the floor. If her wings could go all ghosty and insubstantial on command, then maybe--?
Her entire body shimmered, a faint green aura glimmered around her, and then she drifted downwards, passing through the floor like it was only a mirage. The last thing visible as her head sank through the carpeting were her sparking eyes, and her whispered 'Ready or not, here I come," floated softly through the now empty room.
* * * * *