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'What's he doing here?'
It was the first thing I said when I got home. Clem had walked me back from the cinema and he was hovering at my shoulder.
Buffy was sitting at the kitchen table. She was wearing a robe and was nursing a steaming mug of something in her hands. She looked scarily pale. It was the sort of look where you might say they'd seen a ghost, but my sister had seen ghosts before and they had never freaked her out like this.
What freaked me out, though, was the person sitting opposite her. It was Jonathan.
'Drusilla was here,' Buffy said.
'What, as in here here?' I asked. 'But '
'I know,' Buffy replied.
'Drusilla. That's Spike's ex, right?' Clem put in.
Buffy, Jonathan and I all turned to look at him.
'He used to talk about her,' Clem explained. 'A lot. Would go on and on for hours about how great they were together and all the wonderful things they'd done and how devastated he was when she left him. Man, could he talk.'
Clem noticed our frowns.
'Course he didn't talk about her anything like as much as he went on about you,' Clem told Buffy hastily. 'I mean, he things he used to say '
'Now's not the time, Clem,' I interrupted.
'I'm thinking never might be the time,' Buffy remarked. 'Dawn, phone the others. We need to figure out what we're going to do.'
'What about him?' I asked, pointing at Jonathan.
'Hey, I'm sitting right here,' Jonathan complained.
'That's the problem,' I snapped at him.
'Knock it off, you two,' Buffy said. 'I don't need this. Not tonight. Jonathan, I think you should go now.'
'But I could be a big help,' Jonathan protested.
'Probably,' Buffy conceded, 'but I still can't trust you.'
'Even after I saved you life.'
Jonathan stood up.
'What about him?' he asked, pointing at Clem.
'Clem stays,' I said.
Buffy nodded. 'All right, Clem can stay.'
'And what makes him so special?' Jonathan demanded.
'He hasn't tried to kill me,' Buffy replied.
It's not easy to stalk out of a room when you're built like Jonathan, but he did his best.
Buffy picked up Jonathan's half-empty mug, walked over to the sink and poured away its contents.
'Could you give us a minute?' I asked Clem.
'Sure,' he replied.
He wandered off into the lounge and I could hear him turn the TV on, low so it wouldn't disturb us, but loud enough so that he couldn't hear what we were saying.
'Buffy, what happened?' I asked. My shoes made clack-clack noises as I crossed the tiled floor. 'It's not like you to need help beating up a vampire.'
'Drusilla's not just any vampire.' Buffy turned the water on and started to rinse out the mug.
'I know that,' I replied. 'I've met her, remember.'
'I remember,' Buffy said softly. She was still holding the mug beneath the stream of water.
'But still, you can beat her, right? So what do you need geek-boy's help for?'
'Jonathan fought her off,' Buffy said. 'I couldn't '
Water was spraying off the side of the mug.
I stepped closer and put a hand on Buffy's shoulder. She flinched and dropped the mug.
'Sorry,' I apologised, taking a step back.
'My fault,' Buffy said, retrieving the mug. There was a chip on the rim, but nothing we couldn't live with.
'Buffy, what's wrong?' I persisted.
Buffy paused. Then she turned off the water and put the mug on the side.
'I froze,' she admitted. 'Drusilla was in the room and I froze.'
'Was it a spell?' I asked. 'Did she do something to you?'
'No spell,' Buffy told me, 'just me. When I looked at Drusilla, I saw Kendra.'
So I was wrong after all. Buffy had seen a ghost.
* * *
I remember thinking that Kendra had skin the colour of milk chocolate. She had these short tops of the kind Mom would never let me wear (okay, so I was only eleven) and these huge hoop earrings.
And she talked funny.
If it had been up to Buffy then I would never have met Kendra. Buffy tried hard to keep me away from her double life. It rarely worked, but I have to give her credit for trying. But when Angel lost his soul, things changed. Angelus saw me as a way to get to Buffy and that made me a target. From then on there was always a Scooby Gang member nearby to act as bodyguard. Everyone took their turn. Well, except for Cordelia who, I think, had even less time for me than I had for her.
And then came that night, the one nobody really talks about. There was a crisis and Kendra's Watcher had sent her to Sunnydale to help out. Her and Mr Pointy. That's all we've got left of her now, a sharpened piece of wood.
I was in the library. Buffy had left me there with my homework, not that I was spending much time on that. I much preferred to look at all the cool books on the library shelves. Giles didn't mind so much. Guess he liked the idea of a kid that was into reading and I guess he made sure that any books he did not want me looking at were in the top shelf, out of my reach.
The idea was for me to keep out of the way. Buffy had gone out. She didn't tell me where, but it didn't take a genius to figure she was going to confront Angelus. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang was working the weird mojo down by the desk. Willow was sitting cross-legged on the table and I could hear her chanting. I could also smell the yucky incense Cordelia was wafting everywhere.
I was hidden amongst the stacks, lying on my stomach with a book open on the floor in front of me. Then I heard the commotion. I was a curious kid - still am - so I crawled forward and poked my head round the edge of the shelves to see what was going on.
The windows caved inwards and the sharp shards of glass were followed by even more dangerous vampires. I scuttled away, still on all fours. I could see Xander rushing forward to confront a vampire. Then I heard the snap of bone as the vampire grabbed hold of his arm. There was a smashing sound as somebody - Giles I think - cracked something over a vampire's head. Then the bookcase fell. I had enough warning to turn so that it didn't crush me, but it still pinned me to the floor. I don't think anyone realised I was still under there, luckily for me.
Unfortunately, I couldn't move, though I did have a great view of the floorshow.
Kendra was doing what she had trained all her life for and it showed. Three, no four vamps converged on her and she didn't even blink. Unlike Buffy who fought with a grace like a dancer, Kendra was more of a street fighter, but her punches and kicks were just as effective. Despite the odds, she was holding her own, maybe even forcing them back.
Then the tide turned. I could feel it even before she entered the room, like a spider crawling up my spine, a spider whose feet were icy cold.
Drusilla didn't walk into the room, she glided, her black and red dress flowing around her like blood. Kendra stood in her way, fist raised, poised and ready.
'Enough,' Drusilla said.
The Slayer sprang like a jungle cat and she and Drusilla went at it, exchanging blows too fast for me to follow. And then it was over.
She just looked at her. That's all. Drusilla's eyes met Kendra's own and all the strength seemed to leech out of the Vampire Slayer's body.
Kendra lowered her arms.
Drusilla started to sway like a cobra and Kendra swayed in time, her body no longer under her own control.
Quick as a flash, Drusilla's hand slashed forward. Her fingernails sliced across Kendra's throat and even from that distance I could see blood fall to the floor, hear the quiet splash each drop made as it hit the ground.
Time seemed to stop. I wasn't even breathing. Then slowly, ever so slowly, Kendra's legs gave way beneath her and her body tumbled to the floor.
'Night night,' Drusilla purred, blowing a kiss at her fallen opponent.
I wanted to scream, to cry, to do something, but I was frozen with terror and maybe that's the only reason I'm still alive today.
* * *
'So how come none of us realised Drusilla was going to come back?' Xander asked. 'Man, are we dumb.'
'So Spike's ex-girlfriend is in town to get revenge,' Trix said. He was sitting on the sofa next to Anya. 'They must have had a major thing going on. If it had been me, most of my ex's would give you a medal.'
'You have ex's?' Anya asked.
'Well, yeah,' Trix admitted, shifting uncomfortably. 'I've been around awhile, met a lot of people, formed a relationship or two.'
'Just two?' Anya said, frowning.
'Well, maybe more that two,' Trix said, 'but none of them meant anything.'
'So you make a habit of forming meaningless relationships,' Anya deduced. 'Then I bet you run off and leave the poor girls heartbroken and distraught. Did you ever leave someone at the altar?'
'No,' Trix insisted. 'They never went that far.'
'Well that's something, at least,' Anya said with a meaningful glance at Xander.
'Hell, I'm not saying this well,' Trix complained. 'It's not that they didn't mean anything. It's just that I didn't feel for them the way I feel for you.'
'And how do I know you're not just saying that?' Anya demanded.
Buffy cleared her throat.
'I think we're getting off topic here,' she said. She was standing by the window. The curtains were drawn, but Buffy kept twitching them so that she could keep an eye on the street outside.
'I know Spike still had feelings for Drusilla,' Clem offered, 'but I never knew she felt the same way. She left him, remember.'
'They were an item for a hundred years, give or take,' Xander commented. 'A relationship like that doesn't just end overnight. What do you think, Ann?'
'Oh, because I'm the expert on relationship break-up, aren't I?' she shot back. 'From first hand experience, no less.'
'I didn't mean it like that,' Xander protested, but Anya waved him away.
'I've seen a lot of couples split in my time,' Anya said, 'and most of it's ugly. But the thing I find is that one day they're asking you to call down the plague or inflict boils on his penis and the next day they're all 'woe is me, what have I done'. You can't just turn off feelings like you would a TV set, or just change channels and move on. In my experience, and I've got an awful lot in this area, just because a relationship's over doesn't mean the couple don't still have feelings for one another.'
'What I want to know is how Drusilla got into your room in the first place?' I said. 'You didn't invite her in, did you?'
'No, I didn't,' Buffy replied with forced patience.
'I was only asking,' I muttered. 'Vampires have to be invited in, but if you didn't do it - and I know I didn't do it - then how did she do it?'
'Well, there aren't a lot of demons that'll talk to us floppy-eared types,' Clem interjected, hand raised as if he needed permission to speak, 'we're something of a joke, see, but I still hear things. And when folks talk about Drusilla, not that they talk about her often, but when they do, well they say she's more than just a vampire.'
'So she's like an uber-vampire?' Xander said. 'Well that's okay then. The last one of those we faced was Dracula and we kicked his ass.'
'But Mom still had to invite Dracula in, remember?' I pointed out.
Anya's forehead creased in concentration. Trix put a hand under her chin and lifted her head to face him.
'What is it, honey?' he asked.
'Well, didn't Spike say the Dracula had extra powers because of his gypsy tricks?' she said.
'Yeah, so what?' Xander said waspishly. 'I can't believe we're invoking the ghost of Spike now.'
'Drusilla has gypsy magic, too,' Buffy said, following Anya's line of reasoning.
'So you're saying that Drusilla used her gypsy powers to bypass that must be invited in rule?' Trix asked.
'But that's something Dracula couldn't do?' I pointed out.
'Maybe he just didn't know how,' Clem suggested. 'I mean, if we're talking spells here, maybe that was one he didn't know. Or wasn't powerful enough to cast.'
'But Drusilla's never been this powerful before,' Xander said. 'Why now?'
There was a long silence as we all tried to figure out the answer. I yawned. My body was starting to remind me that I hadn't had any sleep yet. My tired eyes weren't focussing properly and for a moment the room was a blur. I blinked a couple of times and the world sharpened up.
Then it hit me.
'Drusilla's crazy, right?' I said, practically bouncing on the spot with enthusiasm.
'So what?' Xander asked. He was snapping at everybody tonight.
Buffy shushed him.
'Go on, Dawn,' she said.
'Well, magic requires a lot of focus, doesn't it,' I explained. 'You have to concentrate to do spells and stuff. But Drusilla's mind has always been all over the place, hasn't it? She has a real problem focussing on one thing for any length of time.'
'But you're saying that she's found a way to focus,' Buffy said.
'We killed her boyfriend,' Anya pointed out. 'If that doesn't focus a mind I don't know what will.'
'So let me get this straight,' Buffy began. 'By killing Spike we have not only brought down the wrath of his ex, but we've helped her access powers most vamps only dream of.'
Trix raised his hand.
'When's the next flight out of here?' he asked.
* * *
As I walked down the corridor to the cafeteria, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I spun round, my own hand reaching for the stake in my jacket pocket. If the normal vampire rules didn't apply to Drusilla then I couldn't be too careful.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that it was only Chrissie.
'Sorry already,' she said. 'It's not like I meant to scare you or nothing.'
An apology? From Chrissie? This was interesting.
'Dawn, could we like, y'know, talk?' she asked. 'Somewhere away from people who should know to mind their own damn business.'
'Sure,' I said, puzzled. 'How about the library? It's not like anyone ever goes in there.'
Chrissie nodded and practically dragged me over to the other side of the school building.
'Dawn, you don't I mean, you're not scared of me or anything, are you?' Chrissie asked almost before the library doors had swung closed.
A dozen sarcastic replies whirled through my head, but Chrissie was chewing on her lower lip and I could tell that she was serious. She deserved a little honesty.
'No,' I admitted. Compared to Drusilla or Glory, Chrissie was a fluffy bunny.
'Really? Not even a little bit?' I could feel the relief coming off Chrissie in waves.
'Really,' I said, frowning. 'I think you're a bitch - and I mean that in a good way, honestly - but you don't scare me. What's this about?'
Chrissie sighed. She started playing with her long black hair.
'It's a vibe I've been getting. I starting to thing that maybe people think I'm, like, scary, I guess,' she confessed.
I wandered deeper into the library, hiding my face from Chrissie. Of course people thought she was scary. Okay, in my circles she might not be up to much, but amongst normal people, yep, she was terrifying. She said what she thought and refused to be intimidated. She couldn't care less what the rest of the world thought about her. Or so I had thought.
'Why don't you just come out and say it, Dawn?' Chrissie demanded. 'You know you want to, so what's the point of prissing about? You think I'm being stupid.'
'No, thats not it,' I told her. 'I thought you didn't care.'
'I didn't,' Chrissie said. 'I don't. The rest of the world can either get over it or just go hang. It's just '
Chrissie sat down on the edge of a reading table, the words left hanging in the air. She swung her feet in the air and she looked a lot younger than I ever recalled seeing her.
'Chrissie, there's obviously something you want to tell me,' I said, 'so what is it?'
'This was a bad idea,' Chrissie said, jumping off of the table. 'I am so out of here.'
I don't want to talk about it, okay,' Chrissie snapped. She turned away from me, but she didn't move towards the door.
'You wouldn't be hear if there wasn't something you wanted to say,' I pointed out, 'so spill already.'
Chrissie wrapped her arms around herself.
'I must need my head examined, 'she muttered. 'It's Drew, all right.'
'I'm dating Drew,' Chrissie confirmed. 'God, I can't believe I just said that. Drew of all people. I mean, there must be something totally wrong with me, right?'
'Because you're dating Drew?'
'Because Drew's the only guy remotely interested in me,' Chrissie continued. 'It's not like there's a line of guys waiting to asking me out running round the block. It's a line of one. One! Can you believe that?'
'I'm sure that's not true,' I replied. 'It's just that they feel a little '
'I was going to say intimidated,' I responded with a smile, 'but whatever works.'
'So what do you think I should do about it?' Chrissie asked.
'You're asking me?'
'No, I'm asking the bust of whatshisface over there!' Chrissie snapped. 'What do you think, Dawn? It's not like there are a whole lot of other people I can talk to. They're all '
'Scared. I know.'
'And I thought you might understand,' Chrissie continued. 'You being a freak too.'
'Well, thanks very much, I don't think.'
The library door swung open and a black girl - Helena - crept in, hunched over the books cradled in her arms.
'What the hell do you want?' Chrissie shouted at her. 'Can't you see were talking here?'
'I'm sorry,' Helena said, scurrying away. 'I'll come back later.'
Chrissie turned back to me.
'You know what I mean, 'she said. 'You're different. You're as much an outsider as I am. More so. But you're okay with it.'
'I wouldn't say that,' I replied. 'I don't like being an outsider any more than you do. But I'm who I am through choice and I gotta live with that.'
'And do you, y'know, think you made the right choice?' Chrissie asked.
'I'm not about to change, if that's what you mean,' I replied. 'So what about you? Are you happy with your choice?'
'Dating Drew or being scary? Or both?'
'What's wrong with Drew?' I asked.
'Oh, I don't know,' Chrissie replied. 'I mean, he's smart and he makes me laugh sometimes. And I suppose he's kinda cute.'
'Don't try and pretend you haven't noticed,' Chrissie shot back.
'Hey, Drew and I are just good friends,' I insisted. 'He's all yours if you want him.'
'I do,' Chrissie told me. 'Oh God, it's true isn't it, I really do want him. You don't think I'm coming down with something, do you?'
I laughed and even Chrissie was smiling now.
'Chrissie's in love,' I taunted her in a singsong voice. 'Chrissie's in love.'
'Come here, you,' Chrissie said as I darted round the corner out of reach. 'When I get my hands on you '
'You started it.'
'Yeah, I guess I did,' Chrissie admitted, flopping down into a chair. 'I just wish Drew wasn't such a freak. He's as bad as the rest of us.'
'And we have a problem with that because?' I asked.
'Damned if I know,' Chrissie confessed. 'Come on, let's go and see what they serving in the cafeteria. You never know, it just might be edible.'
'And Drew might be there,' I offered innocently.
'One of these days, Summers, I really am going to kill you.'
Chrissie paused. He hand rested on the door, but she didn't open it.
'Dawn, thanks,' she said. 'You're a good friend'
'Yeah, well '
'But if you breathe a word of this to anyone I will break both your legs.'
'I thought we're established you didn't scare me,' I pointed out.
'Hey, a girl can live in hope, can't she,' Chrissie replied, shoving the doors wide open.
* * *
Buffy was pulling the front door closed as I turned into the drive. She was wearing a long coat and had a holdall slung over one shoulder.
'Hey Buffy, what's up?' I asked.
'Dawn, um, Hi,' Buffy offered. 'You're back early.'
'No I'm not,' I said.
'No? Guess I must have lost track of time,' Buffy said.
There was something off about Buffy's behaviour. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I had a sense about this and, being her sister and all, I thought there was a good chance I might be right.
'Buffy, what's wrong?'
'Wrong, nothing's wrong?' Buffy lied. Trying to be cheery might have worked at any other time, but with Drusilla on the loose it just reeked of cover-up.
'Look, Dawn, I really have to go,' Buffy said. 'I left you a note. It's in the kitchen.'
'You're not coming back, are you?' I said.
Buffy looked away.
The wind picked up and plucked a few leaves from the tree in the garden.
'No,' Buffy confessed. 'No, I'm not. At least for a while.' She turned around and put her hands on my shoulders. 'Dawn, you have to promise you'll be strong for me. You'll have to be strong for everyone now.'
'I've left some letters explaining everything,' she continued. 'There's one for Xander and one for Giles. And one for Angel. Could you make sure they get them.'
'Buffy, I don't understand,' I said. 'Why have you got to go?'
'Drusilla's after me,' she replied. 'If I leave then she'll follow and the rest of you will be safe.'
'But but why can't you stay here?' I begged. 'We can fight this together, like always.'
'I don't want to see anyone else get hurt,' Buffy told me. 'This isn't like before.'
'But why not?' I replied. Maybe I was starting to whine at this point, but by now I didn't really care.
'She killed Kendra,' Buffy said simply. 'I ran back to the library. I ran until it hurt and then I ran some more. But I was too late. She was just lying there, like a broken doll and I picked her up and I cradled her in my arms and I thought that could have been me. Kendra was just like me, the only girl like me I'd ever met, but she didn't stand a chance against Drusilla.
'Don't you see, Dawn. I don't think I can fight her and I don't want you to die because I wasn't good enough.'
'Oh Buffy ' I began. There were tears in my eyes.
Buffy put her fingertips on my lips.
'Shush,' she said.
Then she wrapped me up in an embrace.
'Promise me you'll be strong,' she whispered, 'and remember that wherever I am I still love you.'
We held on to each other for a long time, prolonging the moment, but eventually Buffy broke the embrace,
'Goodbye, Dawn,' she said.
Then she walked away.
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