Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv)
Characters: ensemble, mild April/Dawn
Summary/Teaser: What if instead of leaving April, Warren reprogrammed her?
Warnings: girl kissage involving a minor and a robot
Spoilers: "I Was Made to Love You" (BtVS 5.15)
Notes: An alternate version of "I Was Made to Love You" (BtVS 5.15) for Signe's Metamorphosis Challenge.
Word Count: 2894
Standard Disclaimer: Joss Whedon 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.
Thanks to buffyworld.com for a transcript of the original episode. Part of the Warren-Buffy exchange is lifted wholesale.
XANDER (to Buffy): You ever think maybe the reason you haven't found a great relationship on the Hellmouth is ... because it's a Hellmouth? Seems to me it's a pretty terrible place to try to build anything.
Buffy was looking around the room, scouting for a suitable guy to dance with. She noticed a pale girl with long black hair and a pink dress who seemed to be methodically making the rounds, stopping at each cluster of people and then moving on after a brief exchange. It was hard to make out the girlís expression from this angle, but the people she left in her wake all seemed to be variations on confused.
"Who's that girl over there?" Buffy asked.
Everyone except Anya turned their heads to follow her gaze. Anya just tightened her grip on Xander's arm.
Xander turned back to Anya. "Really don't need to hang out that hard, An. Not going anywhere."
"But what if you find this new girl strangely attractive? You invite her out for coffee in an attempt to be friendly. She falls for your wit, your charm, your penis. My Xander penis."
"Oh, come on, An. Like Iím just going to fall under the thrall of any random chick who makes moves on my penis. Did I just say that? Anyway, she's not even that attractive."
"Actually--" Willow began.
"Hey, placating the former vengeance demon here. No helping."
"There's something off about her, though," Tara said worriedly.
"Off? Like demon off?" Buffy asked.
Anya released Xander's arm to cross her arms and glare at Buffy. "Not all demons--"
"Yes, I know, Anya. I would just like to know if this girl falls under our brand of damage control. Tara?"
Before Tara had a chance to answer, the girl was standing in front of them. "I'm looking for true love. Can you help me?" she asked cheerfully.
"He certainly can't," Anya said firmly. "And neither can I for that matter. Willow and Tara are similarly unavailable, unless they know some sort of love spell--"
"Anya," Buffy cut her off.
"Oh are you interested? You said you had come here for the boys, but I don't blame you for switching teams. Eleven hundred years as a vengeance demon, doesn't exactly give you lots of warm fuzzies for the male of the species."
"Anya!" Now it was Xander who cut her off.
Before she had a chance to open her mouth, Buffy was speaking to the girl, who had been standing there patiently, her facial expression unchanged. "What's your name?"
"My name is April. I'm looking for true love. Can you help me?" Her inflection was exactly the same as it had been the first time she had asked.
"She's a robot," Tara said softly.
"Are you a robot?" Buffy asked April.
"I was Warren's girlfriend. I was made to love him. But he did not love me back. So he sent me out to find someone else to love. I am made to love."
"Warren? Warren who?"
"Willow, you find me Warren Mears, and you find him now."
ďUm.Ē Willow looked at Tara.
"It's okay, honey. We'll go home and you can do some research, and then we can have our own private party."
"Look, April. Why don't you come home with me?" Buffy said.
"Will I find true love there?"
"Okay." Obediently, April followed Buffy out the door.
"Dawnie, I'm home!" Buffy yelled, as she opened the door. She heard a flurry of noise. "Dawn?" she called out with some concern, closing the door behind her but not releasing her grip on Aprilís arm.
"You're home early."
"And you're hiding something. I can hear it in your voice."
"See, now you're mocking me with that fake innocence. You forget I can follow the sound of your voice."
Buffy was standing in the doorway of the kitchen now. She hadn't bothered modulating her voice to hide her approach, but Dawn had been so involved in her own thing that she hadn't even noticed. She looked up now, startled.
"Dawnie, I can smell the pizza. What do you think you're trying to hide?" As she scanned the kitchen, the trashbag caught her eye. "You didn't." Dawn blushed. "You did! You ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's." She looked closer. "Ooh, Karamel Sutra. Good choice." Her face hardened again. "But really now, an entire pint."
"Well you and mom were both out on dates -- and okay, you weren't technically on a date, but still, a party, where date action could occur. And anyway, I was home, and while I appreciate that you finally get that I'm old enough to take care of myself, I would much rather have been out at some sort of party or date type event."
"So, um, who's the stranger?"
"Oh. Yeah. Her name's April. She's a robot. We found her at the party, and I've got Willow looking up the guy we think made her."
"Is she an evil robot?"
"We don't know yet."
"So you left your party and brought her home with you just to be on the safe side?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"I'm looking for true love. Can you help me?"
April had been standing still next to Buffy, her face frozen in that cheerful expression, and Dawn stepped back in surprise at hearing the unnaturally even voice, the shock of the actual words registering moments later.
"See why I didn't exactly wanna leave her roaming around Sunnydale on her own?"
Dawn nodded. After a few moments she broke the silence. "I wonder if Mom's date brought her flowers."
"Flowers. I know about flowers. Warren's favorite--"
"Stop. Talking. About. Warren," Buffy said through gritted teeth.
Dawn looked taken aback. "Buffy, it's the first time she's mentioned him since you two came in the door."
Buffy sighed. "I know. It's just-- the idea of some creep making a girl.... And then sending her off to roam the streets -- that's the part that really weirds me out."
The phone rang. Buffy lunged for it. "Hello?"
"Hey, Buffy, it's Willow. I found Warren Mears. He attends the tech college over in Dutton, but his parents live here in Sunnydale. Tara says he's probably home for Spring Break."
Buffy jotted down the address. "I'm right on it."
"Oh come on, Buffy. Canít you wait until tomorrow? What are the poor kid's parents going to think when some strange girl comes banging on their door in the middle of the night?"
"Poor kid? He created a frighteningly realistic robot for god knows what reason. And who said I'd be banging on his door? I can be very polite."
Willow sighed as she hung up the phone.
Buffy turned back to Dawn. "So I'm going to track down this Warren kid. I don't think April will do anything to hurt you. She seems pretty docile. So just, like, play board games with her or something. And if anything does happen, call Giles, or Willow. And don't try to fight her off yourself or anything. The important thing is that you stay safe."
"Yes, Mother," Dawn said, smiling.
"Oh-- Mom! I'd totally forgotten. When she comes home, um, I don't know, tell her something to explain why April's here."
"Aw, you trust me that much? You don't need to leave me with a whole script or anything?"
Buffy stuck her tongue out. Then she kissed Dawn on the forehead and hurried out the door.
Buffy knocked on the door.
"Mrs. Mears? Hello. I'm looking for your son, Warren."
"It's rather late."
"Tell him it's important. Tell him it's about April."
A few minutes later a worried looking man in his early twenties appeared at the door. "What happened? Is she hurt?"
"I know she's a robot, Warren."
"Why don't you come inside?"
Buffy followed him into the living room and sat down in a chair across from him. "What I want to know is why, Warren. Why'd you make her? And why is she wandering around Sunnydale?"
Warren let out a low breath. "I made her.... Everyone deserves to have someone, right?"
"But she's not a someone, she's a something."
"No, you don't understand. I made her to love me. To care about what I care about, to want to be with me, to listen to me and support me. I didn't make a toy. I made a girlfriend."
"A girlfriend. Are you... are you in love with her?"
Warren shook his head. "I really thought I would be. I mean, she's perfect. I don't know, I ... I guess it was too easy. And predictable. You know, she got boring. She was exactly what I wanted, and I didn't want her. I thought I was going crazy."
Warren ignored her cold flippancy and kept talking. "Then something happened. Katrina was in my engineering seminar, and she was really funny and cool. You know, she was always giving me a hard time, real ... unpredictable. She builds these little model monorails that run with magnets, and.... Anyway. I fell in love with Katrina."
"Swell. Romance and magnetic trains. But what about April?"
"I reprogrammed her, sent her out to search for her own true love."
"She went to a UC Sunnydale party asking each and every person there -- " Buffy affected a falsetto -- " 'I'm looking for true love. Can you help me?' "
"Okay, so I didn't do a perfect job."
Buffy glared at him. "Got that right," she retorted in her own voice.
"What did you want me to do? Dismantle her? I'd created her. She was practically a person. I thought I was doing the right thing."
"So, what? She falls for the first guy who says 'I love you?' "
"Not exactly. I used a variety of randomizing algorithms when I reprogrammed her. She'll process the input she receives from other people -- what they like, what they don't like, stuff like that -- and run it against her own likes and dislikes -- which are determined by another randomizing algorithm. Even I don't know what kind of stuff she likes right now. Anyway, when the commonalities reach a critical mass, with different commonalities being given different weighted values -- again, all determined by randomizing algorithms -- then she's in love.
She was supposed to interact with people, learn about them, and eventually fall in love, like normal people. You said she's just going around asking people for help finding true love. I guess I got a little lazy near the end, when I was putting the finishing touches on the program. It's just-- I was so in love with Katrina. I didn't really wanna think about April anymore. And I sure didnt want Katrina to find out. So I finished the reprogramming, and then just left her in Dutton and brought Katrina back with me for Spring Break."
"Well won't Katrina be surprised to hear what followed you home."
"Please don't. Look, I'll go back with you, I'll fix her programming, I'll deactivate her, whatever you want. Just don't tell Katrina. It's not like April even wants me anymore. I specifically programmed her to not fall in love with me, to not even come looking for me. I guess she came to Sunnydale after she'd exhausted everyone in Dutton since it's the only other place she knows. But she's not here for me."
"But she's here because of you. Both in the existence sense and in the Sunnydale sense."
"I said I was sorry. I'm offering to help make it better. What do you want from me?"
Buffy eyed him warily. "Anything bad happens because of her, and I'm holding you personally responsible."
"Do you want me to go back with you?"
"No. I think you've done quite enough messing around with that girl."
"She is your-- sister?" April asked, after Buffy had left.
"Yup. The one and only."
"And you love her?"
Dawn shrugged. "Of course."
"What sorts of things do you have in common?"
"Um. There's that whole blood thing. And we're both girls. But it's not about having stuff in common. We're just family."
April tilted her head to one side. "Family?"
"Yeah. Mother and father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins. They're your blood, they -- they just are. And so you love them."
"Interesting. When people talk about 'true love'..."
"True love? Oh that's different. That's the shag-like-bunnies, mate-for-life kind."
"Nevermind. It's not like family, 'cause you choose it. Only, not really. I mean, it just kind of happens. But you're not born into it like you are with family.
"Well I haven't actually found it myself yet, so I'm not exactly an authority on the subject. You just... you spend time with someone, and you find you like the same things, have the same opinions on a lot of things, and then there's this click."
"Well not like a literal metallic sound. But at some point during the relationship, something happens, and you realize you love this person more than just as a best friend but as someone you wanna spend the rest of your life, a person you wanna share everything with, and a person whose body you desperately desperately want. It's that last bit that really makes it different from your best friend or your sister or something."
April sat, processing this information. After a while she said, "Interesting."
Dawn wondered if she should try to start another topic conversation when April spoke again. "So what do you like? Hobbies? Favorite color?"
"Um, well, I like languages. Iím taking French and hopefully Iíll be learning Latin soon, so I can help research. Um, help Buffy do research, I mean, um. Oh, my favorite color is red."
"Languages are good. Warren liked a woman who could say sexy things in multiple languages, so I am fluent in multiple languages. French, Italian, Spanish."
"Oh, goodie! You could help me with my French homework. That is, if Buffy lets you stay, I mean."
"You said bodies were important, too. Wanting bodies."
Oh, that again, Dawn thought. "Yeah. You have to like the other person's body, like really like it, wanna touch it a lot. But Mom tells me that a lot of times you love the person first and then because you love them you love their body."
April reached over and touched her cheek with one hand, and then she leaned over and kissed her.
Dawn was expecting her to feel cold and plastic, but her skin felt almost like real skin, a little rubbery and a little bit like some kind of cloth, but almost real. And her lips were soft and slick, and Dawn wasn't entirely sure what real lips were supposed to feel like, but these sure didn't feel bad. She kissed her back, softly, tentatively.
Dawn hadn't heard the door open, but at the sound of her sister's voice, she jerked back.
"What are you doing?"
"I-- Well, you saw, didn't you? Thatís why you're yelling, isnít it?"
"Dawn, come into the kitchen with me. We need to talk. April, you stay here."
Dawn followed Buffy into the kitchen. Neither of them sat down.
"She's a robot!"
"Come on, Buffy. You dated a crazy Army guy and a vampire."
"There was Scott."
"Yeah, the guy you never actually dated."
"The timing was wrong. I would have dated him, if it wasn't for -- stuff."
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Sure, yeah, whatever. And it's not like I'm actually dating her yet."
"And you won't be. She's too old for you."
"Have I mentioned the Angel thing? Plus she's a robot. She hasn't actually existed for very long. Which, come to think of it, neither have I. It could be like mutual cradle robbing."
Buffy glared at her.
"Come on, Buffy. It's not like I said I was her true love or anything. She kissed me, and I kissed her back."
"You kissed a robot."
"Look, Buffy, you had sex with a vampire. There's no way you get to take the all-human all-the-time normal-dating-life high ground."
"Think of it as my requisite rebellious bad-dating-choice teenage behavior."
"Girls, I'm home!"
"Not a word," the sisters hissed to each other in unison.
"We're in the kitchen, Mom!" Buffy called, walking out into the living room, with Dawn following her.
"Mom, this is April," Buffy said. "I met her at a party and she's, um, going through a transitional period. So she's going to be staying with us for a while, if that's okay with you."
"She can stay in my room," Dawn said. Buffy glared at her, but she ignored it.
"Well, I suppose if you don't mind, then it's fine. I mean, I wouldn't want to turn such a nice girl out on the street."
Dawn grinned at Buffy, who ignored her.
"So tell us, Mom, how was your date?"
"Well, we went to a film at the art house. It was in black-and-white, and all in French. I had no idea what was going on, and I was so scared that Brian would want to talk about the movie afterwards, but then we went out to dinner -- Italian, my choice -- and we got to talking about the menu, and it turns out he used to live in Italy, and..."
FADE TO BLACK