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Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss.
Setting: A few years post season seven.
Prompt: Written for misery_chick in the femslash_minis 2007 Dawn round; request was Dawn/Faith
I.

“Big sis around, Little D?”

Dawn doesn’t even look up from her research. She has books spread across the table, taking up all the available space. That’s saying something because it’s built to hold a whole Slayer squad.

“You just missed her.” Dawn stretches across the table to grab a book. Her shirt rides up, showing off the tattoos trailing down her back. Faith recognizes some of the designs, protection sigils, but the others mean nothing to her. She has a couple of the former herself; at Dawn’s insistence everyone has at least one, even though some of them – Giles in particular – threw a fit about magic inked into skin. “She took out some of the girls for patrol.”

“So we’re alone?” Faith leers at her, not that Dawn can see it with her nose in a book.

“Willow is here. She arrived this morning with news for Giles.”

“Another big bad?” She stops leering and shifts her weight into a fighting stance. She should know by now to expect the end of the world.

“I don’t think so.” Dawn tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Just a message from that coven he knows.”

“So everything’s five by five?” What a waste of good adrenaline. Now she’s all on edge, ready to get worked up; she wants to hit something, or fuck it.

“As far as I know.” Dawn writes something down in her notebook and snorts. “Not that Buffy tells me anything. I’d be the last to know if the world was ending.”

“That’s not true.”

She looks up at last, twists around until she faces Faith.

“You said it yourself, ‘Little D.’ I’m just the baby, I don’t get to know anything, I’m too young. Of course, Tina’s only twelve, and Buffy took her out to fight tonight. She’s not the youngest, either.”

“She’s a Slayer.”

“They all are, everyone but me.”

“That’s not true, either. Giles isn’t. Xander isn’t. Willow isn’t.”

“Three people. Three out my whole world. And in the long run, they really don’t matter, do they? Who saves the day? Buffy and her slew of Slayers. Not people like me.”

“Dawn –”

“Save it, Faith. You don’t know what it’s like.”

“What? To be the shadow to Buffy’s light? To be the one left out of her perfect life? To watch her trust everyone but you? No, I know nothing about that.”

II.

Faith wears a black tank top and underwear to answer the knock at her door. There’s no way she’s gonna make it easy for whatever wet behind the ears wanna be Watcher the new Council’s sent. Probably she only got this one because they want to get rid of him anyway.

It doesn’t matter why. She doesn’t do the Watcher thing, not anymore.

She jerks open the door and finds Dawn standing on her porch, backpack slung over one shoulder.

“What, Watchers need escorts now?”

Dawn laughs. It’s obviously forced, but at least she tries to see the humor. Faith appreciates that.

“No. Well, yes, but I sent her back to headquarters before we were halfway here. She couldn’t even handle one vampire on the train. I don’t know who thought she was ready for field work.”

“So, instead of going home with her and making sure she doesn’t have to handle any other vamps, you came here instead?”

Faith walks away from the door, leaving it open, but doesn’t invite Dawn inside. She’s not stupid, after all, and she’s not trusting either.

Dawn shuts the door and follows her into the kitchen. Not a vamp, then.

She drops her bag on the floor and hops up onto one of the bar stools at the table. “I needed a vacation.”

That’s it, that’s all the explanation she gives. Faith stares at her a second, and then makes coffee.

Dawn’s said enough.

III.

“Giles gives long vacations.”

They’re eating dinner, take-out Chinese, and, for the first time, Dawn has ordered more food than they need. She’s put herself in charge of meals, which is just fine with Faith, and each time she adds more, like she’s trying to test Faith’s limits.

It’s especially noticeable after Faith’s been out slaying vampires, and she wonders how much B told little sister about the energy after the hunt. Not much, probably. But she spends a lot of time around Slayers, and she’s a smart girl, she picks up on things.

Dawn’s been there three weeks. She’s brought in books and spread her notes all around the living room. She sleeps on the couch and bought her own coffee cup and she’s really good at getting bloodstains out of shirts.

She talks a lot, about random things, but she never tries to dumb it down for the crazy trailer trash Slayer – yeah, Faith’s maybe just a little bitter still – she just says what she wants to say and assumes Faith gets it. Sometimes she does, sometimes she don’t, but it’s nice anyway.

“Yeah, well.” Dawn clears her throat and won’t meet Faith’s eyes. “It’s not a vacation, exactly.”

“Then what is it,” Faith asks, “exactly?”

“More of a working holiday.”

“Okay….”

Dawn eats some food and then, once she’s swallowed, says the rest of it in a rush. “I didn’t exactly tell him where I was going, and then when I got here I said I needed a break, and you aren’t going to kick me out, are you, because I really like it here, and I just couldn’t stay there anymore and not be a Slayer. I know I’m worthwhile and smart and a unique fucking snowflake but I just can’t do it.”

Faith forks a bite of General Tso chicken into her mouth and sucks on it, savoring the spice, while she thinks about what to say.

“Do you cook?”

Dawn looks a little surprised. “Yeah. Some. I just thought – you had so many take-out menus and I guess I didn’t think you wanted someone in your kitchen.”

“Shit, just because I stay out of it doesn’t mean you have to buy food every night. I could use some home-cooked meals.”

“So does that mean you’re going to let me stay?”

Faith slurps up the last of her noodles. “You’re on dishes,” she says, and that’s that.

IV.

Faith stumbles in late, near sunrise, and trips over books piled in the living room. She curses, both at Dawn and just in general. Her shirt sticks to her body, plastered there by blood, and she’s so tired she can’t see straight – maybe that's due to the blow to the head she took about ten minutes ago.

Dawn’s in their bedroom, all cuddled up under the blankets, but she’s not asleep, she’s reading.

Of fucking course she’s reading.

But as soon as Faith half-falls through the doorway, she puts the book aside and helps her into the bathroom. She’s gotten good at helping Faith wash when she’s too injured – or too horny – to do it herself, and they’re both clean and tucked into bed in short order.

It’s been two years since Dawn showed up on her porch. There are plants there now, in little pots, and there’s a flowerbed in the front yard. Dawn’s filled the kitchen with cooking supplies and the living room is now her office. They’re going to have to move soon, or go to a hotel because the books are taking over the whole damn place.

Dawn’s sleepy warm in her arms and Faith nuzzles close, her face at the back of Dawn’s neck. This is the best part, not having someone do all the research for her, or help keep her weapons in order, or cook her dinner – this part, the afterglow of a fight, the handfuls of glorious woman all pliant, that’s the best part.

That’s why Faith’s changed her mind on the whole Watcher thing.

It can’t hurt to give the Council one more try.

As long as it’s Dawn, that is.

End


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