Title: Outside Looking In
Author: thomasina75
Spoilers: Buffy S4
Summary: How would Dawn’s presence have changed the events of This Year’s Girl and Who Are You?
Author’s Notes: This turned out a little longer than I expected (about 3600 words). Thanks to debxena for her excellent beta work. Any remaining mistakes are mine alone.
Written for Insert Dawn Here.


The house was bright, so well-lit that Faith could see inside well before she came close to the front porch.

“Not too careful for a Slayer’s family,” she said aloud, a smirk on her lips. “Some psycho chick might come up and try to take a peek.”

She crept up the walk and onto the porch with the stealth only another Slayer could match. Making sure to keep to the shadows to hide the brightness of her red jacket, she peered through the curtain into the living room.

A nice family evening was in progress, or would have been, if the whole family had been there. Joyce was on the couch, the back of her head resting on a cushion just inches from the window. The brat was seated on the floor pretending to do homework, but paying more attention to the television than the book in front of her.

After a few moments, Joyce raised her head and looked at Dawn. Faith didn’t have to see Joyce’s face to imagine the expression she wore. When Dawn’s head snapped back down to her notebook, Faith had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

They had all the pretense of a happy, normal family.

“Not for long,” she muttered to herself.

Faith remained on the porch for a few more minutes before giving up. It’s not like she expected Little Miss Perfect to be there. Bitch never realized just how good she had it.

With a snort, Faith slid off the porch and onto the sidewalk. Before going on her way, she turned once more to look at the house. Warm light radiated from most of the downstairs windows, but those upstairs were black. No point in hanging around further.

“Time to check out the Watcher,” she said, turning onto the street and disappearing into the night.

~*~*~*~

There was a sudden movement by the window. A flash of red. It was only there for a second, but Dawn was sure she saw something.

“What was that?” she asked. She pushed her notebook aside and jumped up from the floor.

Her mother raised an eyebrow in concern. “What was what?”

Dawn took a step closer to the window. “I saw something moving out there.”

“I’m not falling for that, Dawn. Now go back to your homework.”

Dawn shook her head and kneeled on the couch beside Joyce. She pulled the curtains back and put her hands up to the window to help her see, but found nothing but darkness. The porch and the yard were completely empty.

“I saw something. I just looked up for a second. There was something red outside the window.”

Joyce sighed. “It was probably just a reflection or something. Nothing at all to worry about.”

“Mom, this is Sunnydale. My sister kills demons for a living. Her best friend is a witch and her ex-boyfriend was a vampire. Everything is worth worrying about.” Dawn sank down into the couch cushion, staring at her mother.

With an exasperated shake of her head, Joyce stood up and walked to the front door. Dawn scrambled off the couch and followed her, hanging back at the edge of the entrance to the living room as her mother opened the door.

Remaining just inside the doorway, Joyce glanced around the front yard for a few seconds before closing the door. She turned to Dawn with her arms crossed.

“There’s nothing out there, Dawn. Now go finish your homework.”

“I know I saw something.”

“Whatever you saw, it’s gone. Now go.”

Dawn rolled her eyes and turned around. She stopped in her tracks as the phone rang.

“See? It’s probably Buffy calling to tell us to keep away from the big red monster!” She took off to answer the phone.

Alone in the kitchen, Dawn paused and took a deep breath. Her heartbeat was pounding in her ears, almost drowning out the sound of the telephone. She swallowed before glancing over at the window.

It was empty and dark.

With a sigh, she grabbed the telephone. “Summers residence.”

“I need to speak to Miss Buffy Summers, please,” the curt male voice spoke.

Always Buffy, Dawn thought. “She’s not here,” she answered with a groan. She’s never here anymore, she added silently.

“Do you know where I can reach her? It’s extremely urgent.”

Dawn glared at the phone before reciting Giles’ number and hanging up.

When she returned to the living room a few minutes later, she had forgotten her earlier fear.

~*~*~*~

Dawn knew something was wrong the minute she stepped out of the bathroom upstairs. A memory of the flash of red that she’d seen the previous night entered her mind, but, determined not to scare herself, she pushed it away.

She could hear movement below. The creak of a floorboard. The clunk of a heel on the floor. The sound of things being picked up and quickly discarded.

She made her way to the stairs and looked down. A cry escaped her lips and she raised her hand to her mouth a little to late to stop it.

“Mom!”

She rushed down, almost tripping over her feet to get to the prone body of her mother on the floor below.

“Mom, wake up,” she said, tracing the bruise that was already forming on her mother’s face.

“Was wondering when you were going to show up, kid.”

The voice was familiar, gratingly so, stirring up bad memories that she’d hoped to forget. Dawn glared up at Faith. “I’m not a kid,” she said through clenched teeth, as she continued to shake her mother’s shoulder in the vain hope that she would wake up and Dawn would no longer be alone with the psycho Slayer.

Faith smirked, winking at her. “Sure you’re not. Real grown up there, sitting on the floor crying for mommy.”

“What did you do to her?” Dawn stood up and backed away.

“She’ll be fine, a little worse for wear, but no real harm done…yet.”

As Faith was saying that final word, Dawn turned and ran up the steps, taking them two at a time. Faith followed, her iron grip landing on Dawn’s arm and jerking her backwards. Dawn screamed and Faith’s other hand smacked over her mouth, silencing her.

Still struggling uselessly against the Slayer’s hold, Dawn bit down as hard as she could on one of the fingers covering her mouth.

“You stupid little bitch!” Faith jerked her hand away, loosening her grip on Dawn just enough that Dawn could free herself and jump up the remaining two steps. She dashed down the hall and into her room. Once inside, she locked the door and shoved a chair under the doorknob to secure it as much as possible.

Dawn barely had time to lock herself in when Faith started banging on the door.

“Buffy’s gonna come and kick your ass!” Dawn shouted, backing away from the door.

The pounding stopped for a moment and Dawn heard Faith laugh. “Such language. You kiss your mother with that mouth, kid?”

“I’m not a kid!”

The door trembled on its hinges again under the weight of Faith’s blow. “You got a lot of faith in that sister of yours for someone who hasn’t seen her in what? Weeks? How long’s it been, short stuff? Hell, even when she is here, I bet she doesn’t pay any attention to you. You think she’s gonna come to help you now?”

Faith kicked the door again, this time at full strength. The wood snapped as it gave way and Dawn scrambled for the window. Her hands were shaking and her breaths were ragged as she pushed it up and slid over the windowsill.

Her foot slipped on the trellis, almost causing her to fall, but somehow, she managed to make it down without any broken bones. She scurried over the porch railing and down the steps into the yard.

She didn’t look up at her window. She just ran.

~*~*~*~

Faith broke the door and the chair and stepped into the room. Typical kid’s room, she thought with a snort. All pastels, boy band posters, and stuffed animals. Wood scraps were scattered everywhere from the broken chair, and she could see from across the room that the window was open.

Not that she’d expected the kid to hang around. If she’d wanted the brat to stay, she would’ve put more muscle into breaking the door.

As it stood, Buffy’s kid sister was either on her way to getting caught by a vamp, or she was gonna help Faith’s plan along by bringing the Grand Bitch herself into the mix.

Faith smiled to herself as she left the room.

~*~*~*~

Dawn was positive that every vampire in Sunnydale knew she was out alone. Not because she saw any, but because her heartbeat was just that loud. She stopped to catch her breath on a sidewalk several blocks from Giles’ apartment, glancing around quickly before she placed her hands on her knees and panted like a dog.

Leaving her mother alone in the house with Faith had been stupid. It would be her worst nightmare to come back home with or without Buffy to find that Faith had murdered her mom. But she didn’t have any other choice. Staying would’ve led to both of them being killed by the psycho, without Buffy even knowing a thing.

Dawn purposely ignored the part of her brain reminding her that Faith did have a point about Buffy.

The sound of footsteps pounding on the pavement caught Dawn’s attention, and she straightened, ready to run if necessary. But it was only Buffy that came into view.

She didn’t think she’d ever been so happy to see her sister.

“Dawn? What are you doing out here? Mom is so going to kill you when she finds out! “ Buffy snapped. Her sister stopped a few feet ahead of her on the sidewalk, hands on her hips and eyes blazing with anger. For a moment, Dawn almost thought she saw a touch of fear there as well.

“So typical,” Dawn said with a dramatic roll of her eyes. “Are you even gonna ask why I’m playing vampire bait tonight?”

Buffy grabbed Dawn by the arm and started dragging her along behind her. “You really shouldn’t be out here. Not with—“

Her sister’s voice cut off abruptly and she stopped walking, swinging Dawn around to face her. “Where’s mom?”

“Last I checked? She was lying unconscious on the floor in front of the door while Faith was chasing me around the house. I climbed out my window just as she was about to kill me.”

Buffy’s face froze with fear and at that moment. “Oh God.”

That was all it took for Dawn to break. Her body started shaking, while her heart pounded even harder. Several tears rolled down her cheeks. “I didn’t mean to leave, but…”

Buffy brushed a tear off her face. “It’s all right, Dawnie. You’ll have to come back to the house with me. There’s too much badness out here now for me to send you to Giles on your own. Can you stay out of sight long enough for me to stop Faith?”

Dawn nodded. “You can do it, right? Mom will be okay?”

“Mom will be fine. I promise. Now come on.”


~*~*~*~

When they arrived at the house, Dawn, for once, decided to do exactly what her sister told her. While Buffy climbed up and crashed through her mother’s bedroom window, Dawn snuck in the back door and dialed 911.

Her voice choked with tears as she gave out her address. The noise of the fight upstairs was growing louder. As the fight was making its way down to the first floor, Dawn, still holding the phone tightly in her hand, went down to the basement to wait.

It didn’t take too long, however, before Dawn got sick of hiding and listening to the fight. She wanted to know what was going on. More importantly, she wanted to see her sister kick Faith’s ass and the cops take her away in handcuffs and preferably a straightjacket. Swallowing her nerves, she left the safety and boredom of her hiding place and returned to the kitchen.

The house was empty, except for a lone police officer wandering about, camera in hand. Everywhere she walked she had to step over broken shards of glass, wood, and plastic. The house had been trashed, which didn’t come as a surprise when she thought about the noises she’d heard all the way in the basement. Through the living room windows, she could see flashing lights and the outline of several large vehicles.

Seeing her mother and sister outside, she joined them. Both looked somewhat shaken as they spoke to the police officer in front of them. A short distance away, Faith was lying on a stretcher, strapped down for extra protection. She was groggy and mumbling words Dawn couldn’t quite make out.

She felt her mother’s protective arm slip around her shoulders as she came to a halt beside her. Buffy, a brown coat draped over her, seemed dazed, staring at her in confusion for a moment before turning her attention back to the officer.

Letting her mother and sister talk, she looked back over at Faith. For a brief moment, their gazes locked. Faith tried to mouth something to Dawn, but not caring what the psycho had to say, she rolled her eyes and tossed her hair back, making sure to appear as smug as possible.

Then, when she was sure her mother wasn’t paying attention, she stuck her tongue out.

“Dawn!” Joyce warned.

Wide-eyed, Dawn looked back at her mother. “What?”

“Go inside and get ready for bed. You’ve had a hard night.”

“Mom!”

“Go.”

Before turning on her heels and leaving, she stuck her tongue out at Faith again for good measure.

~*~*~*~

A short while later, Dawn walked out of the bathroom and ran into Buffy in the hall. Her sister looked startled, almost surprised to see her.

“What are you doing here?” Buffy asked, her voice tense.

“I live here?” Dawn said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Buffy tried to edge past her. “So you’re staying?”

Buffy glanced around the hall nervously. “Uh…I’m not sure.”

“It’s just…it’s good to have you here. You’ve been gone a lot.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

Dawn turned toward her room. “Thanks. For tonight, I mean.”

Without saying a word, Buffy sped into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.

“What’s wrong with her?” Dawn shook her head and went into her room.

~*~*~*~

Her room, of course, was just as trashed as the rest of the house. She stepped over the broken door and walked over to her bed, sitting down on the edge. The room was cold from the open window, but Dawn made no move to close it. Instead, she just sat, staring out into the empty hallway.

It was nice to have her sister here. Her nerves were still jumping from her encounter with Faith and being alone in her bedroom was doing nothing to calm them.

The faint sound of a siren blaring somewhere in town drifted through her window and Dawn got up to close it. She shivered at the memory of being locked in here, alone in the house with Faith.

She returned to her bed, brushing a few wood shards off the comforter. Sleep wasn’t happening tonight. Not in here. Not alone.

With a sigh, she got up and wandered downstairs.

~*~*~*~

Dawn found her mother sitting at the kitchen island nursing a cup of hot chocolate. “I couldn’t sleep. My room’s kinda trashed and there’s just no way I’m gonna be able to sleep in it.”

Joyce smiled and nodded, putting her arms around Dawn. Dawn let her head rest on her mother’s shoulder. “I’m proud of you, sweetie. You did well.”

“I’m still scared.”

“I know, but Faith’s going away for a long time. She can’t hurt you any more.”

“I wish Buffy would stay here more often.”

Her mother released her and silently walked over to the counter. As Dawn settled on a stool, she prepared a second mug of hot chocolate. With the exception of Buffy moving around above them, the house was quiet again, and more comforting with her mother and sister’s presence.

“Mom?”

“Yes, sweetie?” Joyce put the mug down in front of her and returned to her stool.

“Remember the other night, when I saw something at the window? Do you think it was Faith? Could she have been watching us?”

Joyce sighed. “I suppose it’s possible. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me. After everything that’s happened.” She placed a kiss on Dawn’s forehead. “Are you going to be all right?”

“Yeah. But can I sleep in your bed tonight?”

The phone rang just as Joyce laughed and nodded. As she got up to answer it, Dawn smiled. Maybe things would be better now. Buffy was back with them. Faith was gone. Maybe everything could get back to normal.

“That was Mr. Giles,” Joyce said suddenly, hanging up the phone. “He wants to see Buffy tonight. Make sure to rinse out your mug when you’re finished. Then you can come upstairs and we’ll go to sleep. Okay?”

She kissed Dawn on the top of her head and left the kitchen.

~*~*~*~

After a few more minutes of sitting alone in the kitchen, Dawn washed her mug and headed down the hall. Buffy was just opening the front door to leave as Dawn reached the stairs.

“Were you going to say goodbye?” Dawn asked.

Buffy froze in place. “I just wanted to make sure everything is all right with Giles and…stuff.”

“Yeah, I know. You’ve got a lot going on now. It’s just nice to have you here.”

“I…uh…miss you too, Dawnie.”

Dawn noticed the awkwardness in Buffy’s voice. “Are you all right?”

Buffy nodded a little too quickly. “Yeah. Just in a hurry is all.”

“Maybe when you’re not busy we can hang out sometime?”

Buffy took a deep breath and a smile settled on her face. “I’ll look forward to it.”

When her sister finally closed the door behind her, Dawn went upstairs, a smile on her face as well.

~*~*~*~

Two days passed quickly, but the memory of Faith was never far from Dawn’s mind. She shivered as her mother took pictures of the holes in the walls, her broken door, and the rest of the damage for the insurance company. A lump formed in her throat every time she looked at the black and blue handprint on her arm or her mother’s black eye. It would be a long time before things were the same as they had been before the psycho Slayer got loose.

One thing had returned to normal, however. Buffy was nowhere to be found.

“Hey.”

Or not, Dawn amended, as she looked up from her diary to find Buffy standing in the freshly repaired doorway to her bedroom.

“Hey!” Dawn sat up on the bed, trying her best not to sound too eager to see her sister.

“I…uh…wanted to apologize for anything weird that happened the other night after they took…Faith…away,” Buffy said, her voice slow and shaky. She walked over and sat down beside Dawn on the bed.

Upon looking closer, Dawn noticed the dark circles under Buffy’s eyes and the slight frown that marred her face. “Nothing weird happened. You were just your normal strange self.”

“Actually, that wasn’t me. Faith somehow managed to steal my body.”

A chill ran down Dawn’s spine as she thought back to Buffy’s…or Faith’s…behavior that night. “It was Faith?”

“It’s a long story.” Buffy gave her a light smile and placed her hand on Dawn’s shoulder. “Are you all right?”

Dawn raised an eyebrow at the gesture. “Who are you and what have you done to my sister?”

Buffy appeared slightly shocked before her lips settled into a smile again. “I was just worried. The things Faith could’ve done to you.”

”I’m fine. Not interested in seeing Faith anymore any time soon.”

“You’re not the only one,” Buffy replied. “I talked to Mom. I’m gonna try to spend more time here from now on. I got so caught up in everything that I think I forgot what’s important.”

“So we can, like, hang out and stuff?”

Buffy nodded. “Whatever you want.”

“And you’ll tell me about the body-snatching and stuff? Especially all the good parts where you kicked her ass?”

“Dawn!”

“Please?”

“Fine…But don’t tell Mom.”

“Are you sure you’re you now?”

“Positive.”

Dawn put her arms around her sister’s waist and rested her head on her shoulder. “It’s good to have you back then, but you can’t tell Mom I said that either.”

Buffy laughed and returned the hug. “Not a word.”

~*~*~*~

Faith stared blankly at the wall of the train, not knowing or caring where she was going. Didn’t matter really, as long as it was away from Buffy Summers and away from Sunnydale. Thinking about it constantly was more than enough.

And think about it, she did. The memories of living Buffy’s life haunted her. The devotion in Riley’s eyes as he made love to her. The tenderness of the hug Joyce gave her. The unquestioning trust and loyalty of Buffy’s friends.

The way Dawn’s face lit up when she promised to spend hang out with her.

She wanted to kill them all for making her feel like this, like she’d lost whatever little bit of herself she had left. And yet, there was a small part of her that wanted to go back and feel that belonging again.

She hoped getting the hell out of town, as far away from them as possible, would get rid of that.

*finis*