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'Pawn Promotes' by Quinara (PG-13)

So, this is Spuffy with a big slice of gen. It's Dawn gen if that's any consolation...?

Pawn Promotes
by Quinara.


Prompt: A Game of Chess (gang warfare).
Setting: AU after The Gift.
Word Count: 1000
Rating: PG-13 for swearing and a mild gory reference. Warning for death.

It takes seven years before Dawn stops being a sacrifice.

Pawn Promotes.

So, OK, here’s the thing. The world’s fucked up. That much you already know.

What you probably don’t know is that I’m the one who fucked it.


“What’re you writing, bit?” Spike asked, cutting through Dawn’s concentration.

She looked up, pen poised to describe their comfy stronghold, trying to remember what it was like not to live in a bricked up box.

Spike's eyebrow was raised; she sighed.

To be honest, they had it pretty good at the Hyperion, better than most, possibly better than everyone since they had four superpowered people on their side, but it was still fucked up. She hadn’t been outside in months. “Oh, you know,” Dawn said, shrugging that thought away. “Just my memoirs. I figure capitalism’s gonna come back any day now; gotta get the product ready.”

“Good idea,” he replied, slumping wearily beside her. The pause hung, waiting for him to add another crack about how much she cost them, the prize they had to defend at the same time as scouting for food, a touch of sarcasm reassuring her that she was still important.

The thing was, she knew it. The thing was, he had no energy for jokes. She went back to writing.

I didn’t mean to, you’ve gotta understand, but that’s the danger of being a kid – you end up becoming something you never meant to. You grow up square as your mom, or go off the rails like your cousin, all because of some choices you didn’t really make. That’s what happened to me. Only I was a sacrifice.


“What’s up, guys?” Buffy greeted them later, coming down the stairs. The moment she saw Spike she paused, glancing at Dawn with a nervous, displaced smile before finishing her descent and hovering, like she wanted another chaperone.

Oh yeah, Dawn decided, looking between the two most important people in her life. (Today their expressions could be classed as bang down the middle of the standard shielded or gooey.) That was another thing she’d fucked up with her not dying. The pair of them practically lived in each other’s pockets, by choice more than necessity these days, but they were both too scared to go any further, all because it was a risk not worth taking. The three of them were together until the end of the world; there was no time for break ups.

Shutting her pen off with a pop, Dawn shrugged this off. “Not much,” she said, gesturing vaguely with her notebook. Her memories didn’t feel worth it anymore.

Nodding, Buffy opened her mouth to reply – but then suddenly came the great, clattering sound of the stronghold door opening in the wind. Faith and Angel were back and they were running in, slamming the door to lean against it. Angel was dazed and staring; Faith was huffing like she’d run a marathon, palms leaning on her knees.

What the…?

“Buffy,” Faith said breathlessly, as if reminding herself, staring at the ground. “Buffy,” she repeated, looking up.

“What is it?” Buffy asked for all of them, her fear, never distant, etching a frown on her face.

“Giles is dead,” Faith replied blankly, changing everything. “We saw him.” She didn’t sound like she could believe it. “It’s over. That part’s over. He’s dead.”

Now the notepad slipped from Dawn’s suddenly rigid knees.

The world’s fucked. The world’s still fucked.

But…

Huh.

She wasn’t running anymore. No one thought the gang would keep it up without Giles, not Willow and Tara; they’d all known that for a long time. After seven long years they could try – they could try fixing things for real. She could get out of the box. She could get out into the wacky new world and see it properly, with her own eyes. She could…

I’m free.

For Dawn, time stood still. She watched as Angel continued to stare; as Faith hung her head, confused; as Buffy started to shake, eyes widening before she sobbed. It had been too long, too hard and too long, and now Buffy was crumbling – with relief, fear, guilt, grief, with everything Dawn found she couldn’t feel.

She turned to Spike at her side. He was sitting like a coiled spring, weary but not quite gone, eyes fixed on her sister’s pain. Through gritted teeth, Dawn told him, having had enough of standing back, “Move your ass.”

His eyes flashed to hers, uncertain in a face that suddenly looked her younger.

“Move it!” Dawn screeched, not caring, standing up so he would too. The only difference was that he dashed immediately to where Buffy was breaking on her feet, pulling her close. Dawn stayed where she was, picking up her notebook and assuming the authority she knew it was time to take. No more a sacrifice. No more a weight. No more a child. “What happened?” she asked Faith.

The Slayer stared at her, looked over to where Buffy was occupied, at least for the moment, and then looked back, turning her feet towards Dawn. “We found him a block north. Had some shit like he was coming at our wards, but something found him and he got unlucky, gored through and the sand’s all scattered.”

“OK,” Dawn replied, taking that in dispassionately. “OK. As of now we’re on the offensive. Get the gang in here.” She turned a page in the notebook, looking down at the blank paper, mentally making a list of books.

“What about…” Angel asked, finally speaking up, gesturing to the couple now sitting shattered in a corner. The fight had only been in LA six months, so it was understandable he was confused by where their strength had gone.

“They’re taking a break,” Dawn replied all the same, popping her pen again and looking down. There wasn’t time for explanations right now. “They’ve done enough.”

Silence. The sound exhausted sobs and shushing. Acceptance.

Dawn wrote purposefully, to the sound of Faith and Angel’s footsteps.

PLAN


This was a new world now, and she would take it back.

.

Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
shapinglight
May. 23rd, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
I like this very much, though now I want to read what went before. Flashbacks?
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There may be flashbacks if I can think of something neat enough for a thousand words; currently all I can think of is a bit wishy-washy and twee.
louise39
May. 23rd, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I like this after all the mess 'take-charge' Dawn!

[I feel dreadful about broken Buffy and dead Giles.]
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Yay; thanks for saying so.

(My heart breaks for Buffy and Giles - because I can definitely see things from his perspective too. It's all a big mess. :( )
hello_spikey
May. 23rd, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
oo... dark and gritty! I like!

Think it makes sense that the battle in LA would take months to sort out. Poor Giles! But like Dawn's coming-of-age moment.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
Cheers! :D

Poor Giles, indeed. I'm glad you like Dawn though!
thisficklemob
May. 23rd, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
I like this a lot.

Did the walls between dimensions keep opening, and that's why the world's fucked? In the show, I got the impression that it would be kind of instant destruction, but yay for lasting seven years. Of course Buffy and Spike would fight for Dawn, but it's good to see Faith and Angel helping.

I liked this line: "weary but not quite gone" summing up where Spike is. It sounds like the end came just in time. And the fact that even adult, leader Dawn still screeches makes me smile.

Very good work.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! :)

Heh, unfortunately I had to cut the world building exposition in favour of the character sketches, but my (Dawn's! It's all Dawn's!) theory is that everyone was mostly guessing about the key and didn't really know what would happen if dimensions bled into one another. What did happen was that everything went a bit hellish, but the multiverse found stability fairly quickly (a bit like when oil and water get shaken up - different dimensions are still different dimensions, after all, even if they share a space), so it's potentially solvable by other means. Dawn dying is probably the quickest way to expedite the process, but it might not be the only way...

And Dawn would never give up screeching; she knows too well the power it wields! :D
thisficklemob
May. 24th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
I like that analogy! And I wouldn't object to seeing more of this 'verse. *g*
brutti_ma_buoni
May. 23rd, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
Ooh, very interesting flash of plot and character. If you are interested in writing other bits, I'd very much like to see the first break, when Buffy and Spike went one way and Giles/Willow/Tara the other. How bad did it get before they got to that point, or were they already breaking apart before Glory started to bleed Dawn?

So interesting.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I have a feeling the break was fairly spontaneous (the sort of thing no one really decides, but no one can go back on once it's gone a certain way), but that could well be interesting...
waddiwasiwitch
May. 23rd, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
That packs a punch. Poor Buffy. Dawn taking charge amid the destruction. I really liked the opening line and the closing one.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Definitely poor Buffy. :( Dawn can be quite forbidding under the right circumstances...
norwie2010
May. 23rd, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
What happened to Xander? (This question is a "subtle" hint: MOAR PLOT PLZ! ;-))

The brittle nature of your characters (all of them, even those who are just hinted at, eg. Willow and Tara) really, really asks for huge worldbuilding, drama, blood, sweat and tears. Argh! You kindled the flames of curiosity!

Thank you for sharing. :)
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
I believe Xander is still with the others - he just doesn't have any magic!

And aargh, I wish I was one of those people who can pick up fic ideas and run with them comfortably for 50,000 words, because I would happily read all the drama, blood, sweat and tears! I just don't know how to go about getting it all down. Thank you for reading this little snapshot!
slaymesoftly
May. 23rd, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
This was great! A believable and dark possible AU. Loved it.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!! I'm so glad. :)
gryfndor_godess
May. 23rd, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
This is really, really cool. It took me a while to figure out the concept of the world (had to scroll through the comments), and it's a fascinating, creative AU. Kind of chilling, not the least bit because I can see how it could have gone that way with Giles. I really like Dawn's voice and how she feels guilty without also hating herself and giving up.

but they were both too scared to go any further, all because it was a risk not worth taking. The three of them were together until the end of the world; there was no time for break ups.

That seems like such a legitimate, sad reason to not get together, even though they clearly want each other. Really neat explanation for non-contrived angst.
quinara
May. 23rd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Though whoops - I'm sorry I confused you (word limits can be such a pain sometimes...) I'm really glad you like Dawn's voice, because it's always fun trying to push her into the future and seeing what happens.

I feel really sad for Spuffy in this - but maybe one day when everything's fixed...
smells_corrupt
May. 24th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
This is so cool! But poor guys...
quinara
May. 24th, 2011 08:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's definitely a sad one... :(
snickfic
May. 24th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
Oooh. This is excellent! I love how much backstory you manage to hint at in such a short space, and it's always great to see Dawn taking charge. And oh, your poor damaged Spuffy! But now that the fever of things is broken, maybe they'll take a chance with each other again.

Very nice indeed.
quinara
May. 24th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Thanks very much! I like Take Charge Dawn too - and she really needs to in this, because it's been so long. I'm not sure how bright the future is for Spuffy, but things may well change for the better. If they can get the world back to its old dimensional standing before Buffy's 30, I think the future after that could be very bright.
relurker
May. 24th, 2011 08:56 am (UTC)
Very promising!
(and as much as I love Giles, it's not that I have forgiven him for his underestimating Buffy in season seven, so this turn of events plus death...quite ok.)
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

(And poor Giles! He's really only trying to see the bigger picture, but it's all very murky...)
anviloverheaven
May. 24th, 2011 10:20 am (UTC)
Oh... I totally love it.

AU's where the world become a darker place are my absolute favourite.

This was a new world now, and she would take it back.

I really like this Dawn, and feel more than a little heart broken for all of them.

quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
Yay, thanks very much! I tend to grow tired of apocalyptic worlds quite quickly, so practicality in the face of the gloom is a must - hence Dawn (though it is generally very sad).
zanthinegirl
May. 24th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
This is really fascinating. I want to read more!
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Maybe at some point; who knows?
moscow_watcher
May. 24th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
Fascinating story that begs for more!
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Clearly I need to get some more ideas going...
readerjane
May. 25th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
This is like peeking through a tiny window at a wide, terrifying world. I want to pry the window open and SEE it all! (Even though it might eat me.)

Well done!
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you!! Hopefully the world wouldn't eat you, even if more were to come into being. I tend to get a little tired to super-apocalyptic worlds, so the broader reaches could well be better than they seem...
tennyo_elf
May. 25th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
A very interesting and refreshing read. I enjoyed it very much. I would definitely look forward to more of this if you're willing.

Thank you for sharing!
quinara
May. 25th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for reading! I'm really glad you enjoyed; there could be more of this, possibly, but I have a feeling it would end up a bit long for fag_ends...
tennyo_elf
May. 26th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
You could always upload it to your journal or other Spuffy places, only if you wanted.

Thanks again for sharing! <3
ladyofthelog
May. 26th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
This is AWESOME! Like everyone else, I'd love more of this universe.
quinara
May. 26th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And good to know - there may well be something else in this verse, but like everything I write I have actually no idea when it might materialise... :D
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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