Title: Perceiving Dawn
Summary: He’s about to realise he’s had the key all along.
Spoilers: All of ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.
Disclaimer: ‘Supernatural’ and all related characters are copyright Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises & The CW Network. No infringement intended. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and all related characters are copyright Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement intended.
Buffy Summers shovelled out another heap of dirt and looked up at her sister, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand and unknowingly leaving a smudge of dirt.
“You wanna help me with this?”
Dawn shrugged and took a bite out of her apple. “Nah, besides, you’re almost done.”
Buffy glared before returning to the job. With the last shovelful of dirt came the shovel itself and Dawn grinned as she glanced down at Buffy in the six foot plus hole.
“Why’d this one have to be so far down?” Buffy complained. “Come and help me with this!”
Dawn placed her half eaten apple on the picnic rug and grabbed the bag from on top of the rug before slipping into the freshly dug-up grave.
“This is bringing back such bad memories.”
Dawn ignored her as they each grabbed an end of the warped lid and pulled. There was a splintering sound before a large ‘crack’ and Dawn fell backwards, piece of wood still in hand. She scowled at the now grinning Buffy and got to her feet digging around in her bag. She was just about to pull out a container when a voice sounded from above them and both women turned in surprise.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Dawn looked at the man and tried to think of an excuse that didn’t sound made up when her gaze landed on the man beside him and all subsequent thought flew out the window.
“Sam,” she breathed.
“Guess who?” Sam said as he placed his hands over her eyes. Jessica Moore let out a small giggle before a serious look crossed her face.
“Um, Johnny Depp?”
Sam withdrew his hands and looked down at his girlfriend offering her a small kiss. “And just what, pray tell, would Mr Depp be doing covering your eyes?”
Jessica winked mischievously. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Sam’s response was cut off as Jessica introduced her study partner. “Sam, this is my new friend Dawn. Dawn, this is the amazing boyfriend I was telling you about.”
Dawn and Sam shook hands.
“What are you studying Dawn?” he asked politely.
“Linguistics,” Jessica answered, “Dawn has an amazing talent for languages. She already knew a few before she came here and she’s taking on a couple of my classes for extra credit. I’m gonna help her out if I can, though I think that the student will surpass the teacher in this case.”
Dawn ducked modestly and handed Jessica back the folder she’d been reading. “Thanks Jessica but I really should get going. Class starts in ten minutes and I still need that coffee. Nice meeting you Sam.”
Jessica nodded and Sam gave Dawn a small smile. “You too.”
Sam watched as she collected her bag, walked up the stairs and disappeared behind the cream-coloured archway. He turned back to his girlfriend with a cheeky grin.
“Well, I guess we both have the afternoon off. What should we do with all that free time?”
Jessica grinned and wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck. “Anything you want.”
Sam saw the blonde woman glance inquisitively at Dawn before looking back up at them with a smile.
“Ah, would you believe that we accidentally fell into this already dug grave?”
Sam looked over at Dean who raised an eyebrow at the woman. Dean obviously didn’t believe her and, like Sam, thought that it was a very flimsy excuse. Sam looked back into the hole and noticed that Dawn had averted her gaze and was now looking at the bag in her hands.
“We’re trying to dig for treasure,” she said suddenly, “and if you guys have come to get it first then you can just back off.”
Sam glanced back at Dean and noticed him thoughtfully regarding the answer. Definitely more plausible but what were the chances that the very corpse they’d come to salt and burn had already been dug up that same night by treasure hunters? Sam though it was probably around the vicinity of slim to none.
“You know that chick?” Dean asked.
“We went to Stanford together.”
Sam caught the quick annoyed look the blonde gave Dawn and Dean pointed a thumb in Dawn’s direction.
“She seem like the treasure hunting type to you?”
Sam regarded Dawn thoughtfully. To be honest, he’d never known what to think about Dawn.
Sam heard a small thump followed by a soft ‘ow!’ He picked up speed when the sounds of fighting became obvious and when he rounded the corner he nearly bumped into a woman as she too rounded the same corner.
“Sam!” she said as she looked up from dusting her shirt.
Sam looked down at the neatly fashioned stake Dawn was holding in her other hand and looked up at her in surprise. She seemed caught off guard for a moment before she dramatically rolled her eyes and pointed behind her.
“Some guy just tried to mug me. I wouldn’t give him my watch and he threw a bit of wood at me. Can you believe that? What kind of a weapon is that anyway?” She raised a hand to her temple and rubbed at it. “Hit me pretty hard in the head too.”
Sam glanced over her shoulder but only saw an empty alleyway. It was plausible, if strange. When he looked back at her she was glancing at the stake in her hand. She tossed it aside before she looked up at him.
“I’m so glad you’re here. Do you think you could walk me home? I don’t want that guy to come back and throw more wood at me.”
She shivered a little and Sam gave one last glance at the alleyway before nodding. He was trying to convince his mind not to see demons where there were only bad people; not to see cases when there were none. He walked her back to the dorms and tried to convince her to go to the campus police. Even if it were just some random guy, he might actually hurt someone and he could even come after Dawn again.
“I’ll think about it,” she said finally. “Look, thanks for walking me back. I’m gonna head in but say hi to Jessie for me.”
She offered one last parting smile before turning around and heading into the building before them. Sam frowned again before shaking the thought from his mind and heading home.
Dawn looked at the thoughtful glance on Sam’s face and knew what he was thinking about. More than once he had caught her either dusting a vamp or tracking down a demon. She’d lied her way out of course but now she was about to find out how well she’d managed to pull the wool over his eyes. After all, Sam had probably come to the cemetery to pay his respects to someone he’d known and inadvertently caught her doing something weird again.
“Um, not really,” Sam said and the other man turned to look at them with a very childish I-told-you-so look on his face.
Dawn could feel Buffy bristle beside her and knew they would have to get rid of the men before they could finish their job. Sam didn’t seem convinced but after all the weird things he’d probably seen her do, she wasn’t surprised. She held out a hand to Sam and he confusedly stared at it for a moment before helping her out of the grave. When she looked back at Buffy, she noticed Buffy’s jaw had dropped and had it not been such a serious moment Dawn would have laughed.
Dawn extended her hand and after a short consideration Buffy took it. Dawn had turned to the two men before her and prepared to reiterate her cover story when she noticed Buffy tense beside her. A second later Dawn too noticed the vampire sneaking around the crypt trying to remain undetected and she had only seconds to figure out how to deal with it.
Dawn saw blonde hair run past her and within seconds Buffy was facing off with the vampire. Buffy struck out first and with that predatory act, recognition crossed the face of the vampire and the cockiness fell away. Buffy deflected two blows before the third connected and she stumbled backward. She let out a roundhouse kick and the vampire was pushed back into the crypt he’d been sneaking around. Before his back even hit the stone wall, the Slayer had descended upon him with a well aim hit to the throat. His hands automatically went to his throat and Buffy plunged the stake from her jacket straight into his heart.
Dawn turned to the men and saw that they both looked completely surprised. Sam’s eyes were popping slightly out of his head and the other guy looked like his jaw had been unhinged. Dawn knew the ‘it was just a trick of the light’ routine wouldn’t work now.
“I know that this is a little hard to understand-”
The other guy turned Sam. “Dude, did you see that? He dusted. Since when do vampires dust?”
Buffy walked back over and eyed the two men while Dawn tried to figure out what was going on. They appeared to know about the supernatural and weren’t freaked out at all. There’d been no running and screaming when the vampire attacked. In fact, Sam looked ready to join in at one stage. It actually made sense now.
Dawn walked into the open area of the warehouse and took a deep breath. Killing that demon had been difficult and she was never more aware of just how much stronger her sister was. Dawn rolled her shoulder and gave the room a sweep in case the girl she’d set free had, for some reason, stuck around. She knew she should get rid of the corpse but she was tired and couldn’t be bothered.
Dawn’s next step faltered as a dark figure entered the building. Her muscles tensed and she prepared herself to fight again. As the man stepped into the light, Dawn’s hands fell to her side.
“Sam? What are you doing here?”
She saw his eyes glance quickly around the room before landing back on her. “Ah, I was researching the building for an assignment and thought I’d check it out for myself.”
Dawn gave a mental shrug before she realised that he too was looking for an explanation for her presence.
Dawn tapped the shovel on the top of the dirt mound and made sure it was compacted as much as possible. The moonlight bounced off her shovel and the reflection danced along the trunks of the trees. A cool breeze fluttered past her and she was glad for a reprieve from the stale night air. The sweat on her back sent a chill up her spine and she nearly groaned out loud when she realised that she must have been covered from head to toe in dirt, sweat and who knows what else.
“Well, you just have to apply the right…”
Dawn looked up and saw Sam trail off as she became visible to not only him but the four men with him. She took a deep breath and was sure she turned at least three shades of red. People already thought she was weird enough and Jessie was her only real friend. Most potential boyfriends had already been scared off and it wasn’t helping that someone as popular as Sam kept seeing her do weird things. He didn’t seem like the kinda guy who would ruin someone’s reputation but she wasn’t sure and didn’t want to take the risk.
A frown crossed his features and he tilted his head slightly to the right, a move he made when Jessie talked about something he wasn’t familiar with or when he saw Dawn doing something like burying a body. Dawn closed her eyes momentarily and hoped that when she opened them it would have all been a dream. Her bright blue eyes opened and she sighed when seeing Sam still staring at her and the other four glancing repeatedly at him to see what he would do. It became a sort of staring competition as his eyes searched hers for a plausible excuse.
“What are you doing,” Josh finally asked her.
Dawn let her eyes flicker to him before returning to Sam. She looked down at the pile of dirt and when she looked back up there was a smile on her face.
“Burying a time capsule.”
Sam looked down at the pile of dirt and though she saw acceptance on the faces of the four men surrounding him, Sam’s held no such thing. He must have decided not to pursue the issue because he gave her a small nod of his head and continued walking past her. Dawn’s shovel frustratedly hit the pile of dirt.
“Why aren’t they coming?” Dawn heard Jessica ask Sam as she approached their table.
Dawn stopped in front of them and Jessica looked up at her with a pleading look on her face.
“Please tell him to invite his family to Thanksgiving with us.” Dawn sat down and looked across at the weary Sam. “He thinks they’ll be too busy.”
“What do they do?”
Dawn saw the hesitation in Sam’s eyes but it quickly disappeared and a veil slipped over them. “Ah, it’s just my Dad and brother and they travel a lot with work.” Sam turned back to Jessica and locked his eyes with hers. “As long as I can spend it with you, that’s all that matters.”
Jessica rolled her eyes but smiled. She gave him a quick kiss before standing up and holding out her hand to Dawn.
“Let’s go before we’re late for class.”
Dawn stood and followed Jessica but as she moved up the stairs toward the building she looked back. Sam had a look of frustration and sadness on his face and though Dawn didn’t know why, she knew he’d been lying about his family. Perhaps he didn’t get along with them or they were estranged but he was lying. Dawn let out a deep breath before turning back to Jessica who was waiting at the top of the stairs. She smiled down at Dawn and as Dawn reached the top, she wrapped her arm over Dawn’s shoulders and talked excitedly about her Thanksgiving plans.
Dawn’s eyes narrowed and she looked from one man to the other and back again. She felt Buffy draw up beside her and Dawn turned her head in her sister’s direction though her eyes remained on Sam.
“Hunters,” she said simply.
Surprise crossed the features of both men and she felt Buffy hit her in the arm. Dawn turned angrily toward her sister. “What?”
“Why did we have to think of a lie if they already know?”
“I didn’t know they knew. And they didn’t know that we know until now! Besides treasure hunting was a better excuse than we fell in a hole!”
Buffy gave her an exasperated look before pointing in Sam’s direction. “You talked about this guy non stop and you didn’t know he was a Hunter?”
If it was possible to kill with a single look, Dawn was sure Buffy would be well and truly six feet under. She knew that a deep blush had taken over her features and she struggled to make sure it wasn’t reflected in her voice.
“I had two friends Buffy. Two! I may have had more if I wasn’t out patrolling every night and yes, I thought it was weird that he kept turning up on patrol but so did a lot of people! They all thought I was nuts and more than a few thought I was deliberately getting ‘mugged’. So excuse me for not knowing there was a Hunter nearby while trying to save the world and my reputation.”
Buffy gave her a ‘now you know how I felt look’ and Dawn glared back.
“Dude, you hunted?”
Buffy and Dawn now turned to the men as Sam looked at his brother.
“No. Well, once or twice but only cause it was necessary.” Dean raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know she was a Hunter.”
“Woah,” Dawn said as she held up her hands, “I’m not a Hunter. You guys are in a totally different league.”
Sam noticed Dean’s chest puff out a little, a huge smile plastered on his face, and he inwardly groaned. His head was still reeling from the revelation that a woman from his old life was actually a part of this one too. He felt little pieces of information slip into place like a giant jigsaw puzzle in his mind as a clearer picture of Dawn developed.
He saw Dawn turn to the grave behind her and salt and burn the bones. It looked like such a natural action, like something she’d been doing all her life. The flames momentarily lit up her features and he found himself taking a good look at her. She was still beautiful but now he noticed a more wearied expression; one he usually saw on the face of hunters, those that fight back the darkness. As she turned, the thin singlet she was wearing slid up her hip a little and he noticed a protective tattoo on it. It was small and almost unnoticeable but there nevertheless. He wondered how he could have spent so much time with her but never noticed what she did.
Dawn stepped back to them and pointed behind her to the dying flames. “Here for the same reason?”
Sam felt himself nod and she stepped forward, holding out her hand to Dean.
“Dawn. And this is my sister Buffy. She’s the Slayer.”
Sam noticed Dean’s hand withdraw from hers quickly and he was sure Dean was looking at Buffy with the same expression he was. Sam didn’t think he’d ever meet a Slayer. In fact, he didn’t think they existed. Sam looked at her bright green eyes and noticed the way they lingered on Dean. He inwardly rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to Dawn. She was watching the exchange curiously and carefully. Sam offered Buffy his hand.
“I’m Sam and this is my brother Dean. As you’ve already gathered, we’re Hunters.”
Buffy smiled warmly at him and shook his hand. “Nice to finally meet you Sam and I’m very sorry about what happened to Jessie. I did head down there as soon as Dawn caught wind of it but the demon had already moved on and Dawn couldn’t find it.”
Sam could feel Dean’s concerned eyes on him and he knew that his brother was worried about the effect bringing up Jessica’s death would have on him. But with the death of Azazel and the years that had passed, a small sadness was all that was left of the all-consuming guilt he’d carried around. Sam frowned and tilted his head slightly. Before he could ask, Dawn answered.
“I scried. There was too much sulphur around for it to have been an accident and I did try but I lost its trail. I picked it up again a couple of years later but it seemed to be all over the board and then there was nothing.”
Dawn nodded in understanding and he felt a stronger bond with her. She’d cared about Jessica too and had tried to find the demon that had killed her. He saw compassion in her eyes and knew that she’d fought similar battles, that she’d lost someone she’d cared about.
“You didn’t go back, did you?” she asked softly.
Sam gave a short laugh. “No, I think this was where I was meant to be, despite the road. You stayed?”
Dawn nodded and dropped her head. She looked at the ground before looking back up into his and holding his gaze. “Yeah, I did. But I understand why you didn’t.”
Sam gave her a soft smile and Dawn looked at him. He’d changed a lot since she’d last seen him. He had built up a fair bit and Dawn knew it was the result of hunting things that were stronger than you. He looked older and a little more worn but he still had the same kind eyes and the same soft smile. She was glad that some things hadn’t changed.
Dawn turned toward Buffy only to note that she was no longer beside her. She noticed Buffy and Dean filling in the grave and as she glanced back at Sam, she saw surprise on his face as well. Neither of them had heard their siblings leave and Dawn had no idea when they had.
“It’s good to see you again Sam, especially given our line of work.”
Sam smiled. “You too, you look good.”
Dawn smiled and followed Sam as he led the way out of the graveyard. He stopped in front of a black car and opened the trunk, putting the backpack he was holding in the boot.
“You know, I –” Dawn faltered as Dean and Buffy came into view arguing about something. Sam smiled apologetically and Dawn sighed, the conversation lost in the wind as Buffy turned her attention to her sister.
“We’ll take them back to the school and show them around.”
Dawn nodded mutely and climbed in the back seat of the car after her sister. Sam offered her one last glance before climbing in as well, the door closing as the engine roared to life and the car leapt forward, ACDC playing loudly from the speakers. Dawn settled back in the seat and listened as her sister argued with his brother over the best directions to take. Sam glanced at her once in the rear view mirror before turning his attention back to the road. It was going to be a long night.
Jessica grabbed Dawn’s arm a little harshly and pulled her into the empty classroom. Dawn looked up in surprise and saw panic written all over her face.
“Sam’s brother came to get him last night. Apparently their Dad went missing when he went out shooting and he needed Sam to help him look for him.”
“Did he hurt him or force him to go?” Dawn asked trying to gage the reason for the panic in her friend.
“No, he went willingly. Even though they don’t get along, he still cares for his Dad.”
Dawn nodded and watched as Jessie looked down at her hands. She played with the edge of a fingernail before looking back up at Dawn. There was worry on her face and Dawn laid a comforting hand on her arm.
“I just wanted to ask you something. If something ever happened to me, I want you to look after Sam, alright?”
Dawn’s danger meter went sky high and her eyes searched Jessie’s for answers. “What’s wrong? Tell me.”
Jessie shook her head. “It’s nothing. I had a bad dream last night where some weird guy told me that he needed Sam and that I was in the way. I don’t even know what I watched recently that could have given me such a bad dream-”
“What did he look like?” Dawn asked worriedly.
“Just a normal guy with glowing yellow eyes. I don’t watch horror movies for this very reason; I hate having nightmares. But it got me thinking that if something ever did happen to me, I’d want to know that Sam was okay. You know what he’s like Dawn and he’ll need someone to be there for him. You’re my best friend and I can’t think of anyone better than you.”
“Please Dawn,” she pleaded, “I need to know that you’d be there. Please.”
“Nothing is going to happen to you.” Jessie pleaded with her eyes and Dawn sighed. “Alright, I promise. But you’re gonna be fine Jessie.”
Jessie pulled her in for a hug and looked back at her with the saddest eyes that Dawn had ever seen. “Thankyou.”
Dawn watched as she left the classroom and the door closed softly behind her. Dawn had a bad feeling in her gut and no matter how she tried to take her mind off of it, the feeling didn’t leave her.
Dawn saw flames leaping into the sky as she did her rounds. She ran as fast as her feet would take her and as she neared the sight she felt like she was going to be sick. It was Jessie’s building. She scanned the crowd looking for a familiar head of blonde hair but she knew she wouldn’t find it. Dawn automatically reached for her phone and pulled it out, her fingers blindly hitting speed dial.
As the phone rang she spotted Sam at the boot of an unfamiliar car. She hung up the phone and began moving toward him but a man approached. Sam said something she couldn’t hear as he closed the lid and before she could reach them, they’d hopped in the car.
“Sam!” she yelled.
She saw Sam stop as he was climbing in but he didn’t turn around.
“Sam!” she called again. He gave a quick look in her direction and she saw the pain in his eyes, even from where she was. Someone walked in front of her and by the time she’d moved around them, the car was driving off.
“Sam!” she yelled futilely, “Sam!”
The taillights faded into the crowd and as Dawn stopped moving she felt compounded by grief. A tear slid silently down her cheek.
- Perceiving Dawn (BtVS/SPN)