Alphonse and Oscar

Friday, January 29, 1999. Sunnydale, CA.

Dawn was admiring her smile in the bathroom mirror when the kitchen door slammed and footsteps pounded on the stairs.

"Buffy, Buffy!" She ran out of the bathroom. "Look at my -- Hi, Faith. Look at my face!" Two figures whisked into Buffy's room and shut the door without ever looking at Dawn, but she barged through after them.

"Hi guys! Look at my face!" She grinned hugely.

Buffy snarled, but was prevented from launching at Dawn by Faith's arm wrapped around her waist. "Get out of my room, brat."

"Chill out, B," Faith said, her mouth almost touching Buffy's ear. Was that her tongue? Ew. "Whassup with your face, chica? New zit? Third eye?"

Buffy laughed, but Dawn was too wired to get mad. She pointed her teeth. "'Ee? 'Ee?" Buffy and Faith both looked blank. "No braces. I got them off today."

Buffy had already turned in Faith's arm to whisper something in her ear, but Faith smiled at Dawn. "That's great, kid. You'll be a mankiller, now." Her other hand slid around on Buffy's back, under the skimpy blue tank top. Dawn wasn't allowed to wear shirts like that.

"Now scram," Buffy said, looking at Faith's mouth. Faith wore such red lipstick.

Dawn tried not to whine, but probably sounded like a baby, anyway. "But you said when I was grown-up, I could go slaying with you, and now I have my braces off, and --"


Dawn slumped and backed toward the door. "Why are you so mean when you're hanging out with her? And why are you two so grabby, anyway? Is it a slayer thing?" Faith's fingers slipped up Buffy's belly to touch her bosoms. Boobs. Whatever. Buffy blushed and looked at the floor, but smiling, and reached out with one arm to shut the door in Dawn's face.

Saturday, January 30, 1999. Sunnydale, CA.

Dawn's mom was packing ugly little statues in paper when Dawn came into the kitchen to make a sandwich. "Dawn, honey, could you go down to the high school and get your sister? She's training with Mr. Giles, and I need you both here to help me clean your old clothes out of the basement."

Dawn sprinkled parmesan on the peanut buttery side of her sandwich. "I'm busy. I'll call for you." Grape jelly? No, strawberry.

"No, you'll go, because the library phone has been busy for half an hour," Dawn's mother explained, loading the paper packets into a crate.

"Willow is probably on the computer," Dawn said, and started making a second sandwich. Cream cheese and bacon, this time.

"Dawn, now."

"Mo-om. I'm eating. Don't you want me to grow up big and strong?"


"Fine." She stormed out, cramming one sandwich into her mouth, and carrying the other.

The smell of the high school library cheered Dawn up, as it always did. The middle school library didn't smell nice like this, musty and knowledgeable and mature. It smelled like shiny Scholastic covers and bubblegum. The middle school librarian was a perky woman with a ponytail and a Pikachu doll on her desk. Not like Giles, who knew everything. And wore tweed, and was kinda handsome. In an old way.

Giles was reading a book as always, and -- oh. Xander was here, playing tick-tac-toe with himself in the margins of chemistry textbook. Dawn straightened her sweater, patted her hair, and snuck up behind him.

"X in the top right, and you're sure to win," she said.

Xander jumped, but when he recognized her, flashed Dawn his blinding smile. "No scaring the Dickens out of the guy who didn't read the Dickens." He gave her a once-over. "Hey, no braces, Dawnie! Looks great."

"Hi, Xander," she said, holding her hands behind her back and trying not to fidget. "Fighting a new apocalypse?"

Xander shot a look at Oz and Willow who were whispering on the other side of the table. "Nah, just trying to do some homework while the Buffster and Faith do weapons training. Whatcha doing here? Not that your charming presence doesn't always brighten our high school tedium."

"Mom sent me for Buffy," Dawn answered, dimpling. She hoped.

Giles looked up from his book, some creepy mystical volume that Dawn desperately wanted to read, as she wanted to read all of Giles' books, The Mysteries of something. "Ah, yes." He raised his voice. "Buffy! Your sister is here."

The door to Giles' office opened, and Buffy poked her head out. Her hair was messy. "Yeah, Giles?"

"Mom wants us," Dawn answered for him.

"Oh. It's you." Buffy's head vanished and giggling sounds came from the office. A moment later, Buffy emerged -- slightly tidier -- from the office, followed by a smirking Faith. Both girls held quarterstaves. Xander blushed and looked away.

Giles looked appalled. "You were training with staffs in my office?"

"Mom wants us to go home to clean out the basement," Dawn said.

Buffy and Faith ignored both of them, and made a beeline for the library door. "Didn't break anything, Giles. And sorry, zit-face. Tell Mom some other time. Slayage awaits."

"Buffy, if your mother wants you, it is my responsibility to --" Giles began.

"Sorry, G," Faith breezed, pressing her hips against Buffy's. "Me, Buffy, and Mr. Pointy over here have an appointment in the graveyard. Ta ta." With a blown kiss from Faith, the girls vanished.

Dawn bristled. "Oh, sugar. And she'll get away with it, too, because she's the Chosen One, and I'm just the kid sister."

Xander laid a consoling hand on her arm. "Don't take it to personally, Dawnie. She just has a lot on her mind."

"Whatever," Dawn said. She leaned on the table, fiddling with Giles' book. "It's just that they never hang out with me, and now I'm the one who has to go home and clean the basement. I wish that I just had someone to hang out with me. And I wish I could control Buffy, just for once."

Giles pushed away Dawn's hands. "Be careful, please, Dawn. That is a very rare and dangerous book."

Xander squeezed her arm, but she shrugged him off. "Whatever. I'd better get home to report on my sister's delinquency."

"Bye, Dawn," Willow called, looking up for the first time from Oz's secrets.

Just outside the door, Dawn almost stepped on something. "Oh, how cute. Catepillars!" One was white with black stripes and a little red dot on the front where its face might be. The other was pale and yellow. She picked them up. "I'll take you home. I'll call you Alphonse," she said to the white and black catepillar, "and you Oscar. You can live in my room." As she walked down the hall with two frantically squirming catepillars, Dawn ignored the stake rolling on the floor behind her.