Best Friends 4-ever
Summary: Dawn at age ten. Except it never happened, did it?
Author Notes: Thanks to Cerdd Gwen for the beta work.
Story Notes: Spoilers for Blood Ties and Normal Again
Disclaimer: Characters and Sunnydale belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, UPN,
Mutant Enemy and so on and so forth, not me.
When Dawn was ten, her teeth were too big for her face. She knew this
because every time she passed a mirror or a pane of glass, she would look
and study herself, and her teeth always seemed to just be there. Sometimes
when she was out with her mother she would stop in the middle of the
sidewalk and stare at her reflection in a store front window. Her mother
would smile indulgently, but her sister would roll her eyes and make deep
"Mom," Buffy would whine. "Mom, she's doing it again."
Buffy never had to worry about her teeth being too big for her face.
Buffy didn't have gangly, too-long legs and hair that was too fine and
straight to hold a curl. Buffy was perfect. She had dozens of friends and
even more admirers. Buffy was a cheerleader and a homecoming queen. She
got to pick out her own clothes and she could go out on dates. In fact,
the same day that her mom and dad had given her permission to start
dating, she'd filled up her weekends for three straight months. The phone
calls hadn't stopped since.
Dawn only had two friends, though, but they were her best friends. The
three of them -- Pamela, Jennifer, and Dawn -- in a burst of creative
originality, dubbed themselves the Three Musketeers. Buffy would scoff and
either sarcastically call them the Three Muskrats or ask them where their
muskets were (which didn't make any sense to Dawn, because she didn't know
what a musket was and wasn't Three Musketeers a candy bar?).
Pamela and Jennifer were twins, but not identical, and unless you were
told, you would have no idea that they were sisters. They were two years
older than Dawn, and at twelve years old seemed so cool and mature and
sophisticated, especially compared to her. When they first became friends
back when Dawn was eight, they told her that they could hang out with her
because she was tall for her age, and she looked like she was ten, just
like them. Dawn loved them from that moment on.
The girls were vastly different in appearance, a fact that continued to
awe Dawn even though she was used to them. They were twins after all, but
they didn't even look related. Pamela had a little, pert nose, actual
visible breasts, and straight brown hair like Dawn's, except hers wasn't
as fine, and right after her twelfth birthday she had it cut short into
layers like Rachel's on Friends, and it didn't look like Dawn's hair
anymore. Jennifer's hair was blonde and fine and hung in midlength limp
curls. She wore glasses and had a wide, flat nose and snorted like a pig
when she laughed. Jennifer was the best friend Dawn had ever had.
The Three Musketeers went to the mall together every Saturday. Their
parents would drop them off with warnings about strange men and staying
together and for God's sake, don't break anything unless you want your
allowance to suffer for a year.
The girls would walk, most times arm in arm, giggling at their fellow
mall goers with their heads close together. They would go into the novelty
shop and giggle some more at silly little items like hats that lit up,
proclaiming that the wearer prayed to the god of beer and pretzels, or
they would exclaim over the shelf that held such items as strawberry and
peach whipped cream and small canisters of chocolate-cherry flavored
edible panties, until the sales clerk shooed them away from the "adult
The three had a mall itinerary -- they always visited KB Toys first, then
the bookstore (where they would sit on the floor and ooh and ahh at the
boy heartthrobs in Bop and Teen Beat magazines), then the novelty shop.
When they left (or were chased out of) the novelty shop, they would have
finally gathered enough courage to enter Victoria's Secret, where the
salesgirls would smile their knowing smiles and let them browse
undisturbed. Sometimes they would get a stern throat clearing from a
manager if they messed up a shelf of carefully folded satin panties, and
they would run out, holding hands and laughing all the way to the music
A favorite thing to do on a Saturday was to listen to music at Sam Goody
through the headphone sets. The girls would stand together, three
adolescents on the verge of something big and wonderful and unknown,
sighing over the boyishly sexy voices of their favorite pop stars.
Sometimes they didn't do any of that, however, and instead spent their
day huddled together on the floor of the ladies restroom. Like the day
after the twins' grandmother had a funeral, and Dawn had sat with them
while they cried, not knowing what to say but hugging them and stroking
their hair and crying with them, because her friends were hurting and so
she hurt too.
Then there was the day that perfect, perfect Buffy started having
delusions and had to go away, and left her parents behind to yell at each
other and to slam doors and ignore the little sister that felt completely
lost and alone without Buffy.
That Saturday was spent sitting cross-legged in the bathroom, quietly
shredding rolls of toilet tissue, and then later sitting quietly in the
food court sucking down homemade lemonade through bright and cheery
The worst day, however, wasn't the day that Buffy came home covered in
blood and dirt and green, snotlike goo and swore that if Dawn told she
would strangle her until she was deader than Kurt Cobain. It wasn't the
day that Dawn's dad moved out after sitting down and explaining that even
though he and their mother were divorcing, he would always be their
father, and he would always love his girls, and he would always, always be
a part of their lives.
No, the worst was the day when Dawn told Pamela and Jennifer that her mom
and her sister and she were moving to some town called Sunnydale. The
three girls held each other on the floor of the ladies restroom in the
Wild Palm Commons Mall and cried from the time they were dropped off at
ten AM until their moms came to pick them up at two.
When Dawn found out, at the age of fifteen, that she was a Key with monk
manufactured memories, being pursued by a hellgod for some unknown,
devious reason, she called the number that was etched into her brain --
the same phone number that she used to call every Friday night to set up a
time and place to meet the next day at the mall.
The phone rang on the other end of the line, and an unfamiliar elderly
male voice answered.
"Is Pamela there?" she asked, "Or Jennifer?"
"Sorry, you have the wrong number," the man said.
"Is this 742-7620?"
"Yes it is."
A beat. Cold dread washed over her.
"How long have you had this number?" she asked, her voice flat.
"A good twenty five years, Miss," came the answer.
. . .