punch_kicker15: (Dawn)
[personal profile] punch_kicker15
Title: Dawn of a New Day
Author: punch_kicker15
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Relationships: Dawn, other Potentials, Gen
Summary: AU Season 7: Dawn's a Potential, and a Slayer, and that may make all the difference for someone else.
Word count: 1365
Notes: Written for[livejournal.com profile] buffy_genfic for [livejournal.com profile] carlyinrome, who wanted AU in which Dawn is, in fact, a Potential (and then a Slayer post-"Chosen"), bonding with the other Potentials, field training, mythos, and didn't want Caleb, major character death outside canon.

The van makes a sharp right turn, and one of the other Potentials sprawls into Dawn’s lap. It’s hard to tell from just a high-pitched yelp, but it sounds like Vi. Dawn feels around for the other girl’s shoulders and with some awkwardness, helps her sit up again. The blindfold makes every movement more complicated.

Across the van, she hears a flat voice that can only be Rona’s. “I think they’re just messing with us for the hell of it. Or maybe this is one big psych experiment.”

“Or a reality TV show--like Joe Millionaire,” Probably-Vi suggests. “We tell a bunch of teenage girls that they’re on the run from demons. Later we tell them it’s all a lie, and the demons were just guys in costumes, and we film their reactions.”

Amanda’s slightly-nasal voice chimes in. “But there’s been weird stuff in Sunnydale for as long as I can remember. If it’s a hoax, it’s as convoluted as The Truman Show.”

Dawn’s grip on reality has been shaky sometimes, and she wants to indignantly defend the authenticity of her world. But if she hadn’t grown up with knowledge of vampires, would she believe it? And if she hadn’t been born into her Scooby Gang family, would she want to believe it? Or would she rather be duped by a reality TV show? So she keeps quiet while everyone else laughs.

The van stops, and Kennedy and Buffy take the Potentials out one by one.

When it’s Dawn’s turn, Kennedy spins her around a few times. “Which way to the Hellmouth?”

Dawn concentrates, and underneath the dizziness, the ground feels familiar under her feet. She can almost feel every blade of grass, every pebble in the dirt. Sunnydale is the only place she’s ever really existed as Dawn, and all of her anger and pain and loss soaked into the earth here.

She points to her left. “Over there.”

Another spin, then, “And where’s Kingman’s Bluff?” Dawn turns forty-five degrees to her right, and points.

One last spin, and Kennedy asks, “Which way to the coast?” Dawn points straight ahead.

Kennedy takes off the blindfold. “Great sense of direction.” It’s the first time Dawn’s aced a training exercise. Despite early experience with weapons, she’s only average among the potentials in target practice, and the kicking drills feel like cheer tryouts all over again.

Amanda’s up next. After answered two of the three questions correctly, she staggers towards the van and places her hand on it for support. She whispers to Dawn, “I didn’t look too klutzy out there, did I?”

“Nah, you stumbled in a completely finesse-y way.” She’s so grateful for Amanda. All of the Slayers Dawn has known have had preternatural confidence; Kennedy has it too. Dawn has wondered more than once if her some leftover Key energy had interfered with Willow’s Potential locator spell. It’s good to know that another Potential has moments of self-doubt.

Now it’s Rona’s turn. “What’s the point of this? Are the monsters gonna give us a Girl Scout badge if we pass a blindfolded geography quiz?”

“She’s just playing for the cameras,” Amanda says. “She’ll be the one the audiences wanna vote off the Hellmouth.”

And finally the reality show theory makes Dawn laugh.

There’s a knock on the door, and a taxi driver comes in with box after box of takeout food.

Maybe the whole apocalypse thing is making Dawn jumpy, because she’s immediately suspicious. “I thought all the restaurants in town had closed already.”

Kennedy starts setting the boxes on the table. “They have. This is from Santa Barbara.” She hands the taxi driver a big wad of cash; he leaves with a big grin on his face.

This means that the dangling some cash in front of someone is enough to overcome the bad juju sending everyone else away from Sunnydale. Better not say that out loud; the First might start luring civilians back to Sunnydale with the promise of money.

Dawn gets in line behind Chao Anh, who looks grossed out by everything, including the Chinese food, and finally settles on tandoori chicken and rice. Dawn grabs a turkey sub and sits on the floor next to Amanda.

Shannon says, “What the Shadow Men told Buffy about the First Slayer, that’s kind of messed up, huh?”

It’s something they’re not supposed to know about, but secrets are hard to keep around this house.

Kennedy says, “Who cares? The only reason the world’s still around is that Slayers keep saving it.”

“Excuse me?” Rona drops her plate. Her fists clench. “Nobody should care whether the First Slayer was enslaved?”

And Dawn feels like a freaking idiot for being so annoyed with Rona all the time. There’s a reason why Rona is so skeptical of the whole Watcher/Slayer/Potential thing in a way that Kennedy isn’t. And Dawn needed to have it spelled out to her before she understood.

Caridad murmurs, “My Watcher told a different story.”

Dawn jumps at the chance to head off a fight. “Really? What was it?”

Caridad gulps as everyone’s attention suddenly turns to her, but takes a breath and starts. “A long time ago, vicious demons roamed the earth. A girl and a, um, gentler demon realized that the vicious demons would destroy all humans and all gentler demons. So the girl and the gentle demon decided to unite to protect their people. The demon gave up strength and his eternal life, so the girl could fight fierce demons, and pass along her abilities to the next girl. The Shadow Men came later, and pretended it had been their idea all along.”

“I like that story better,” Shannon says.

“Huh,” is all that Rona says, but her hands have dropped back to her sides.

Dawn has read hundreds of ancient texts, half of which contradict the other half. She knows that it’s impossible to know now what happened thousands of years ago. But if Caridad’s story helps the other Potentials deal, then that’s the one she’ll choose to believe.

The Turok-Han army starts climbing the cliff, and surges towards them. Their snarls and screams reverberate through the cavern.

Dawn’s not sure why they didn’t have Willow cast the Slayer spell first and then open the Seal. But when Buffy presented her plan, no one wanted to criticize it, not after the mutiny had such a disastrous result.

And then just as she wonders if Buffy’s made a terrible mistake, something like a jolt of electricity runs through her, vibrations rattling her teeth with the intensity. It has to be the spell. Her sword suddenly feels lighter. She can control it with the slightest flick of her wrist.

The other girls feel it too, and suddenly they’re kicking and staking and stabbing with renewed energy. Dawn kicks a Turok-Han, and somewhat surprisingly, her kick actually knocks it down. She finally has the strength and agility to match her instincts and determination. As the fighting continues, Dawn senses a rhythm to it. Nothing like the rhythms she learned in ballet class, but a rhythm none the less.

Dawn gasps as one of the Turok-Han puts a sword through Buffy’s stomach, sending her to the ground. Faith sees it too, and reaches Buffy’s side first, and Buffy hands over the Scythe to Faith.

Dawn fights the panic bubbling up in her chest. Buffy’s always been the one to protect everyone. She can’t die again.

But there’s no time to freak, because one of the vamps is coming straight for Amanda, his hands reaching for her neck. Dawn picks up an ax. Her first strike gets stuck halfway into its neck. She pulls the ax back and swings again, beheading and dusting the demon this time.

“Thanks!” Amanda yells.

Buffy sees them, and the stricken look on her face disappears, replaced by a look of sheer determination. “I want you to get out of my face.” And then she’s back up and Rona throws her the Scythe and then she’s knocking Turok-Han off the cliff like the Buffy of old.

Dawn grins as she swings her sword and lops off another vampire head. Is she ready to be strong? Hell yes.
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