Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv), Angel (tv)
Characters: Dawn Summers / Fred Burkle
Summary/Teaser: A collection of stories (810.8), imperfectly categorized, chronicling the developments of one relationship between two young women.
Warnings: There may be sex herein. One of the participants may be under the legal age of consent in her state of residence, and the other one may be a little bit crazy (though both are very much consenting). Do what you feel is appropriate based on the laws in your jurisdiction.
Spoilers: a few for BtVS S5
Notes: Written for Ari in the second Dawn round of femslash_minis. [Request: Fred; A library, great literature, and glowing.]
Credits: I totally stole the structure idea from Ari's fic "Library Science" and abused Wikipedia like whoa. Dewey Decimal information from here, here, and MML. Sumerian; French. Rilke thanks to victoria p.
Word Count: 1981
Standard Disclaimer: No harm intended; no profit made. Joss Whedon and co., plus Aaron Sorkin and co., own the characters, I'm just playing with them. I do, however, own this story, so don't steal it. Archive it anywhere; just ask first.
Feedback is always appreciated. Make me blush with praise or rip apart the story with criticism, or both.
002 The book
Fred had known she would be coming, but she was still surprised when she met Dawn for the first time. She's not sure exactly what she was expecting.
Cordelia had referred to Dawn as Buffy's "kid sister," but the woman standing in front of her was no child. Almost as tall as her. With long dark hair -- "hanging like a curtain," the romance novels she used to sneak would have said.
She was holding her hand out, saying, "I'm Dawn. I think you were expecting me."
Fred nodded. "You're here about a book. The book is always the important thing. Physics is numbers and letters, but they don't add up to books. At least, not usually. You can write all over walls, telling stories to yourself, helping yourself sleep at night. The codices have to be self-contained. Have to be transportable."
She stopped herself, realizing Dawn was nodding patiently. "I'm sorry. I tend to talk a lot when I'm nervous."
Dawn smiled, and Fred couldn't remember the last time someone's smile had made her feel all melty inside like that.
"It's okay," Dawn said. "I like that you're so excited. My sister looks at research as a necessarily evil -- preferably for someone else to deal with."
"I like solving puzzles," Fred said.
"Buffy tends to take the Gordian Knot approach -- preferring other people to locate said knot . . . um, possibly this metaphor is derailing?"
Fred smiled. "No, that makes a lot of sense."
"So what's our knot this time?" Dawn asked cheerily.
Fred began talking excitedly, leading Dawn over to the table covered in books, and Dawn shivered as their hands brushed against each other.
"Technically, all we're doing is inductive reasoning. Based on recorded observations, we devise theories we believe will hold true, and we're usually basing this on a very small sample size, given the scarcity of people who (a) survived a demon attack, (b) were literate, and (c) recorded their experience -- not to mention all the risk to historical documents from fire, flood, etc."
"But it's the only way we can do this. And demons almost never deviate from recorded observation. Which, okay, if they suddenly ceased having a taste for human flesh would be cool, but mostly I'm glad they don't change. Otherwise, we'd never figure out how to stop them."
"I know. It just feels strange. Basing so much on so little."
"Well it's not a method I'd recommend for everyday life. I mean, just because one boy's a bad kisser doesn't mean you necessarily wanna swear off boys forever." Dawn paused. "Though you might want to expand your experiential survey to include women." She dropped her gaze to the table and then forced herself to look back up again.
Fred put her hand out tentatively.
Dawn took it.
Fred leaned in and kissed her softly.
Dawn rubbed her temples. "I think I've spent almost as much time reading supplementary texts, trying to understand the tradition, as I have translating the Persian. Okay, partly that's a multiplicity of alphabet issue. And I didn't know any of the alphabets before, so there I was stumbling through with my Sanskrit and looking at my Proto-Indo-European dictionary practically every other word. -- Not that you care," she added, looking up at Fred.
Fred smiled at her indulgently.
"Point is: They're the daevas of Zoroastrianism -- malevolent spirits. The texts are mostly about protection and countering them by doing good, but you can also curse them. I think you're supposed to have a high priest, but we can try it ourselves, since I don't think there are any practitioners on this continent.
The darkness is the time of the demons, so we'll have to do it then. We can ward them off with fire while we perform the ritual."
They went to an abandoned beach late afternoon the next day. Dawn lit four fires, forming a diamond around them in the sand, and then drew a circle connecting them, chanting a protection spell as she filled the indentation with a white powder. She placed a white candle in the center of the circle, and she and Fred sat opposite each other.
They recited the chant together, and then repeated it, and then again. Dawn wasn't sure exactly how this was supposed to work, but three was usually a good and powerful number.
"How will we know it worked?" Fred asked, after they had sat in silence for some time.
"When you stop getting reports of them? We should stay in the circle until daybreak just to be safe."
They resumed their silence, listening to the steady sound of the waves against the shore.
After some time, a tall blonde woman walked by them.
"Don't you think we should be getting home?" Fred asked. "The dark really isn't the safest time -- plus my leg's cramping."
"I told you we're completely safe in this circle. Don't you believe me? And the daevas are repelled by fire, anyway, so they won't come near us here."
"I'm cold," Fred said.
Dawn had an idea. "Akoman," she called out loudly, "I cast you out. By the power of Vohu Manah, I repel you. Indar, I cast you out. By the power of Asha Vahishta, I repel you. Naonhaithya, I cast you out. By the power of Kshathra Vairya, I repel you."
The blonde figure shimmered.
Dawn began to recite the Ahuna Vairya again. The shimmer turned into a smokey fog, swirling around them, though giving their circle a wide berth. After the third recitation, the figure vanished.
Fred breathed in deeply, as though suddenly returning from underwater, and and then hung her head apologetically. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Dawn reached out and held both of Fred's hands in hers. "Don't be," she said. "It's okay." And they sat like that in silence for the remainder of the night.
398.24 Aesop's Fables
"It's the wolf in sheep's clothing," Dawn said, as the sun broke over the horizon.
Fred looked confused.
"That's the piece we'd been missing. That's why they were so hard to find. They disguised themselves as entities they knew would be understood as positive.
Remember how some of the victims mentioned unusual people coming to their houses recently? I bet if we asked the others, they would have similar stories, they just didn't think to mention them because, well, they don't seem connected."
"Smart girl," Fred murmured, playing with Dawn's hair as she packed up their materials.
"Do I get a prize?" Dawn asked, twisting her neck to grin at Fred.
"How many languages do you know?" Fred asked, as Dawn murmured to herself, fighting with a translation.
"Fluently? Um, I can read Latin, Sanskrit, Sumerian, and Turkish. I'm working on Coptic and Aramaic. Oh, and French. But that's for school. I have yet to encounter an ancient prophecy or demonic narrative written in French."
"French is purdy."
"It does have that going for it, true. Though I have to say that Sumerian has some beautiful sounds in it, too."
"Tell me something pretty in Sumerian," Fred demanded, bouncing on her heels.
Dawn thought. The texts she usually dealt with didn't talk very much about anything good. Finally she said softly, "Ninsuna."
"What's that mean?" Fred asked.
Dawn shook her head. "I can't tell you."
Fred stuck her tongue out at Dawn.
Dawn turned back to her translations.
Fred stood behind her chair, whispered, "Je veux vous toucher pour toujours."
Dawn closed her book carefully, a red cloth bookmark marking her place. She stood up, facing Fred, and traced a curving line starting at one corner of Fred's mouth, and ending at her navel. "Peta babkama luruba anaku," she whispered.
Fred backed away, laughing. "I'm not impressed. Too many gutteral sounds."
Dawn moved toward her. "Bet I can make you do worse," she said, her fingers sliding on the waistband of Fred's pants.
598 Aves (Birds)
Dawn had insisted that Fred take her to some of the street vendors, and on their way they passed a cathedral. Fred paused for a moment, gazing up at the blue circle of stained glass.
"Isn't it strange that they sing 'Ave Maria'?" Fred asked. I mean, "Ave" is Latin for bird. Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves. Then Order, Family, Genus, Species."
"Well I don't know how it got connected to birds, but the Latin 'aveo' means to desire or as an imperative 'to be well,' which is what it is in the Ave Maria. 'Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.'"
"I didn't know you were Catholic."
Dawn blushed. "I'm not. There was a painting of the Annunciation in my mom's gallery one time, and that was in the explanatory text."
683.3 Locks and Locksmithing
"Did you know that locks and keys were in use only four thousand years ago? I wonder what they called you before that," Fred said.
"Were there even people before then?"
Fred looked at her. "Science suggests that homo sapiens developed almost 200,000 years ago. Though, okay, anatomically modern humans appear in the fossil record in Africa only about 130,000 years ago."
Dawn swallowed. "Oh. You know, researching all these demons, the dates aren't so much important. So anyway, what did they use for locks before then?"
"Knotted ropes," Fred said cheerfully, shrugging.
The next vendor they came to was selling thin but intricately woven bracelets which patterns seemed to be created through knotwork. Dawn knew that synchronicity was merely a result of the human tendency to look for patterns, but she still had to laugh sometimes.
"Do you think there's any importance to color?" Dawn asked.
"What do you mean?" Fred asked.
"When Tara was crazy, she said I glowed green. I guess that's what the essence of the Key looks like: green glowy light. Does that mean anything?"
"Green is considered one of the additive primary colors . The perception of green is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nanometers."
Dawn looked at her blankly. "Right. So that would be a no, then."
"Well you do look good in green."
"Thanks," said Dawn, rolling her eyes.
She looked back at the bracelets. There was one green one with black knotwork which suggested suns on the horizon. She felt she had to get it, and she wished Fred knew how brave this was.
831.912 Rainer Maria Rilke
"Have you read any Rilke?" Fred asked.
Dawn shook her head and looked over at the book in front of Fred at the vendor's station.
"Angel gave me a book of his poems. Back when. Loneliness and all. I read it, but I'm not good at poetry."
Dawn flipped the book open and read aloud.
"I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough . . ."
When she finished, "like a ship that carried me along through the deadliest storm," Fred's eyes were glistening.
"Come on," Dawn said softly. "Let's go home."
"You're glowing," Fred laughed.
Dawn had insisted that they venture out to the vendors at least once a week, and she was dragging Fred from one fruit stand to another.
Dawn grinned. "Come on . . . my name is Dawn, I spent half my life in a town called Sunnydale . . how could I not love this?"
Fred, in contrast, tending to hang back in shady corners.
"Come on. You have to try these blueberries." Putting her change in her pocket with one hand, she kept up a steady stream of snacking with the other.
She held one between two fingers and pressed at Fred's closed lips. Obediently, Fred opened her mouth. Dawn continued feeding her one by one until one slipped out.
"Do I have to do everything for you? Including closing your mouth?" Dawn asked, leaning in to kiss Fred.
"Sure you don't wanna go inside?" Fred murmured.