Tales from the Mall

Standing Still While The World Spins Around you

Author: IceWing <icewing[at]one.net>

Alright... Fine... I've had this thing finished since BEFORE Time and Again was done, so I guess I should finally post it...

Disclaimer: Anybody know what the salvage laws are regarding fictional constructs?

Summary: Another Trip to the Mall, that started off as a trip to someplace else...

Authors Notes: Mac and I will be switching off every part. This is the first time I've done a collaborated work, so forgive me if it's a bit choppy.

(set during the events of Time and Again)

Chapter 1

Dawn looked over at her mom and held up another shirt for her approval. "How's this look?" asked the youngest Summers.

Joyce looked over the shirt that her thirteen year old daughter was holding up. "It's nice," she said hesistantly. "But, are you sure you don't want something a little... younger?"

Dawn looked down at the very simple blouse she was holding. There was nothing about it which could even be described as sexy. Nothing outrageous or over the top. But, it wasn't what the other thirteen year olds were wearing. And, frankly, that was why Dawn liked it.

'I so cannot wait until I get into high school,' thought Dawn darkly. 'This whole acting like a kid thing is such a pain in the ass.' But, outwardly, she smiled. "I'm not a little kid anymore, mom. And, this is a nice piece. It's got good lines, but it doesn't show anything that I'm too young to be showing."

Joyce shook her head, marveling at how fast her little girl was growing up. "Alright honey, you can get it." The art gallery owner looked at her older daughter. "Buffy, I'm going to go look for something for your grandma for her birthday. You keep an eye on Dawn, and then after she gets one or two more things, you can get something for yourself, ok?"

Dawn, with her back to her mom, rolled her eyes. 'God, I wish she'd stop... I mean, I know she thinks I'm thirteen, but if this doesn't stop soon, I'm going to start acting out bad enough to make Buffy look normal.'

"Yeah, mom. I'll watch the pipsqueak," responded Buffy distractedly, her eyes already drifting to the outfits more her style. After a few minutes of people watching and getting bored, Buffy looked over at her younger sister. "Come on, Dawn. It's not like anybody is going to care what you're wearing... You're not in high school yet."

The Key looked at her sister and rolled her eyes again. "I care, that's all that matters. And it's not like I'd want to borrow anything out of your closet, so I need some nice things of my own."

"Whatever. Just hurry it up already." Buffy said impatiently. "Oh, and if I catch you taking anything out of my closet..."

"Yeah, yeah... No threats, big sis. Less you want me to happen to mention to mom I heard you sneaking out your window for a night at the Bronze."

"You wouldn't dare tell her when I go patrolling!" hissed Buffy.

"Patrolling? No... Sneaking out to the Bronze? Wanna bet?" retorted Dawn as she pulled a nice red shirt off the rack.

"You do that and I won't take you to Xander's ever again. How will that stop you and your weird little friend from doing what-ever..." Buffy turned around, just in time to see Dawn turn as white as a sheet, then silently collapse to the floor.

Dawn closed her eyes, breathing shallowly for a minute as she worked through one of the focusing mantras Master Cain had taught her.

The nausea and pain faded from her mind as she gathered herself. She could feel the floor she was sitting in, but the texture was wrong. In her hand, she felt some kind of material, but it wasn't the slick feeling of a Knighthood combat uniform. It was..

She opened her eyes and looked down at her hand... And the red shirt clutched within it.

"What the...." Her voice trailed off as she looked up, and saw she was surrounded by clothes all of a sudden.

"Dawn?!" said Buffy in a nearly hysterical tone of voice as she crouched down beside Dawn. "Are you ok? You better be ok, cause if you're not, Mom's gonna kill me and she won't let me get anything over at Abercrombie."

"Buffy?" said Dawn in disbelief. "What? Where?" The physically younger sibling tried to stand, but her balance was extremely out of whack. The nausea came back before she quelled it by strict force of will. She held out her hand, and without thinking, Buffy took it and pulled her to her feet.

Swallowing, Dawn looked around the store. "Where is everybody? Is mom ok?" Dawn voice was tinged with panic as she asked that.

"Mom's fine, you dweeb... What happened?"

"What happened? What do you mean, what happened? One second we're on an Orca, trying like hell to get to Avalon, the next thing I know I'm here..." she waved her hand, which was still clenched around the shirt. As the fabric moved through the air, Dawn looked down at it. "Hey, this is kinda nice... But... Where is everybody? Willow, Jesse... Hell, something big just happened or I'm loosing my mind."

"There's a shock," muttered Buffy. "Now, what are you talking about, runt?"

"Hang on," said Dawn, half cutting her sister off as she pulled out what to the average person would have looked like a high tech, wireless headset for a cellphone, and affixed it to her ear.

"What? Where'd you get that?" asked Buffy. "And, what is it, anyway?"

Dawn glared at her sister as she reached up and activated the fold com. "Dawn to Xander." The teen waited for a moment, then repeated herself. "Dawn to Xander. Come in Xander."

"What? He's not answering?" asked Buffy.

Dawn looked at her sister, then shoved the clothes into her hands. "Go pay for those. I've got to get through here... Something's weird."

Buffy rolled her eyes as she took the clothes. "With you and your friends, in Sunnydale? Of COURSE something weird is going on. Now come on, we're wasting shopping time."

"That's my point! I shouldn't BE in Sunnydale right now. Now, go pay for those, and let me try and make this call.

Buffy stalked off, not exactly pleased at being dismissed by her sister in such a way. Before she got more than ten feet away, she turned and glared. "You and I, we're going to be having a talk soon about who's in charge when Mom's not around."

Dawn nodded, rolling her eyes as she tried again to make connection to Xander.

On the sixth attempt, there was an answer.

"Xander's pants... He ain't in em."

"Faith?" said Dawn in shock. "What the hell are you doing answering Xander's com?"

"Playing secretary?" came the dark Slayer's response. "Which, I might add, I can think of better ways too do with the boss, but he's rather... Occupied at the moment."

"Fine, then you tell me what just happened?"

"What do you mean, what just happened?"

"Oh, hah, hah... I'm in an Orca, over the middle of the Pacific, twenty minutes out from Avalon, and now I'm at the mall... You know, the whole thing where you guys thought it was necessary to get all of the civvies to Avalon, including people like Mom, who have no idea what the big picture really looks like? And nobody remembers anything? You know, that whole thing..."

"I... Shit..." Faith's voice got quieter. "X. I think you really should at least take this for a second."

"I'm kinda busy here Faith..." came the response.

"It's D."

"She ok?"

"She remembers.... Buff doesn't, but D does."


"Xander Harris, don't you dare..." said an unknown female voice on the other end of the line. And, if Dawn wasn't mistaken, she didn't seem to be too happy.

"Just a sec..." said Xander as his voice became clearer. "Dawn, is this an emergency?"

"I don't know, is being in the middle of what everybody says is an Apocalypse and then next thing you're in the middle of the juniors department, and nobody knows what's going on except you, classify as an emergency?

Dawn pauses in the middle of her tirade and demands, "Are you DOING IT with Natalie what I'm talking to you!?"

"I can honestly say no, I'm not."

Dawn exhaled the breath she had been holding. "Ok, good... So, what the..." The chronologically displaced teen stopped. "Oh, so if it's not Natalie, then who is it, anyway?"

"Ummm... Paige..." answered Xander.

"PAIGE?" said Dawn a lot more loudly than she intended. "You're not even dating her anymore..."

"Yeah, well... It's complicated," came the response over the fold com.

"And? I mean I kind of figured that, considering that I'm in some shopping mall, as opposed to having just watched half the Cadre jump out of an Orca over downtown LA. So, I'm guessing you didn't manage to stop this one either?" Dawn edged a little further down the corridor leading to the bathrooms, giving a tad more privacy to her conversation.

"Oh..." said Xander, in an extremely distracted fashion. "Well, we kinda didn't stop it all the way. But, how the hell do you remember that. You're not trained and you weren't shielded either."

"So, you managed to reset the universe again?" said Dawn incredulously. "Well, at least I'm not eight this time... By the way, you make me eight in another of these temporal hiccups, or I end up eight, I'm going to kill you. You hear me Xander? I'm NOT going through elementary school AND middle school yet again."

"Yesss..." Xander said, stretching the consonants out as he spoke.

"Faith must be rubbing off on me, cause I'm not even squicked by the fact that you're having SEX while I'm on the phone with you..." muttered Dawn.

"Yeah, well... She rubbing off on me right now too, so we're even," said Xander, not realizing what he was saying.

"Paige AND Faith!?!" screeched Dawn. "You're having... BOTH of them?"

At the register, where she'd been listening to Dawn's side of the conversation since it had started, Buffy's eyes were about the size of sauce plates. Her mouth was open in shock, and the blood was rushing to her face.

"Miss?" said the clerk who was holding the receipt out to the blonde Slayer. "Are you ok?"

"That pervert!" said Buffy with a snarl and she took off running.

"I wasn't... I seem to be now..." replied Xander.

"You bastard," said Dawn, but there was a smile on her face.

"Faith..." said Xander, but his voice was dopplering as the fold-com was pulled from his hands.

"D?" said Faith. "He'll talk to you later... Everything's cool, but I've got better uses for his hands and tongue than you do right now..."

And with that, the sound of the connection being terminated chirped in Dawn's ear.

"Now, lover..." said Faith as she flipped the com to privacy mode and tossed it onto the growing piles of clothes. "I believe Paige and I have some business to attend with you..."

"Oh, the things I have to do..."

Dawn was just turning to walk out of the corridor, when she came face to face with a charging, red faced Slayer.

Before the younger sibling could say a word, Buffy had grabbed the fold-com from it's position on Dawn's ear, and was holding it in a death grip... "You PERVERT!" she screamed into the communications device. "You! I can't!" Her embarrassment and inability to quickly deal with everything she had overheard precluded her from being able to form coherent thoughts, or being able to vocalize them. "Bastard! Two? And on the PHONE!?! With my SISTER?"

"No," said Dawn with a smile. "With Faith and Paige, actually..."

Buffy screamed in frustration as she threw the fold-com on the floor, then as hard as she could, stomped on it until the resilient device had been shattered into tiny pieces.

Joyce managed to bypass the gauntlet of security guards and management types who had the blocked off the corridor which seemed to be the center of all of the attention.

"Buffy! Dawn! What's going on?"

"That's what I want to know," muttered Dawn so softly that only Buffy's enhanced hearing could pick it up.


"These are my daughters," responded Joyce. "Now what's going on here?"

"Well, from what we've been able to tell, your eldest daughter, Fluffy..."

"BUFFY!" snarled the Slayer, still irritated.

"Apparently, Buffy here, was being bothered by some pervert, hence her yelling 'PERVERT!' at a guy who was bothering her.

"Xander," came the blonde's response.

"That's right," continued Dawn without missing a beat. "Xander had seen us, saw the guy pull out some kind of camera..." She paused as she pointed at the ruined remains of her fold com on the ground. "The guy said wanted to take Buffy's picture," she emphasized her sister's name subtly. "She yelled that he was a pervert. Xander came running, chased him down there, through the employee only doors there..."

"Can you tell us what looked like?" asked the head of security.

"Can't you get a picture off of the cameras?" demanded Joyce.

Dawn tensed for a moment.

"Due to Sunnydale city ordinance, we're not allowed to have security cameras in place... Damnest law, but the last store to violate it was run out of town. Some kind of civil liberty issue passed back in the 80's."

"And you said Xander chased him off?" said Joyce.

"Yep, he's a regular white knight," said Dawn with a mischevious grin as she looked at Buffy.

The Slayer just seethed.

"Oh, can I have my shirts now, sis?"

The End


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