DAWN'S FIRST TIME
Dawn sat huddled in a blanket, shivering violently. “It was horrible. Horrible!”
From where she stood by the door to the Watcher headquarters medical room, Faith shook her head. “Ironic, is what it was. You run around all over Europe for months, partying like a maniac, then this happens to you after one day in Chicago?”
“Faith, please.” Giles knelt by Dawn, gently cupping her hands in his own. “Dawn wasn’t prepared for this -- no one is, I suppose. It was a traumatic experience.” The three slayers Dawn had allowed in sent Faith indignant glares, but they’d become used to her flippant attitude since she returned from parts unknown just before Christmas.
“Whatever.” To hide a smile, Faith pretended to rub her nose. Sure, Dawn has suffered, but they were making way too big of a deal over this. She’d been through it herself, of course. It hadn’t been pleasant, but it was one of those things just about everyone experienced. After fighting demons and vampires, why raise such a fuss now?
Ah, but Dawn would always be the little sister, even here in Chicago, surrounded by many girls younger than her. As soon as she remembered how much she hated being treated like a kid, Dawn would be mortified that anyone else even knew it had happened.
Shaking his head sadly, Giles drew the blanket closer around Dawn’s still shaking form. “This is why I wanted you to all stay inside the building, for now. Things have changed. You’re not prepared, not conditioned --”
“Giles, this isn’t slayer business,” Faith said. “You don’t need to be in here, not for this.”
Dawn looked up, and to Faith’s surprise hurt shown in her eyes. “Is this what it was like for you?”
“For me? Honey, I was way too young to remember my first experience. But it gets better.”
“Yes, it does, or at least you get used to it,” Kara added, patting Dawn on the shoulder. When she saw Giles’ incredulous gaze, Kara drew herself up. “What, you think this doesn’t happen in southern Indiana?”
“Ah. I ... I had just thought you would be protected from such ...” Giles whipped off his glasses and began polishing them furiously.
“Welcome to the twenty-first century,” Rona told him. “You can’t protect kids from the world anymore.”
Faith nodded. “It’s nature, Giles.” Pushing past Vi, she knelt by Dawn, who still looked as miserable as when Giles had picked her up six blocks from the airport hotel. “Look, you’ll be okay. Just take a warm shower, sip on some hot chocolate, and the next time make sure you have enough protection.”
“Next time? There won’t ever be a next time. I’m never leaving Watcher headquarters again.” Dawn got to her feet and stumbled off, led by the protective cordon of Rona, Kara, and Vi. They continued to murmur comfort to the girl, so Faith held off until the door closed before she burst out laughing.
Giles glared at her. “Even you should have a little more sympathy. After all, it was her first time.”
“Yeah, it was the poor California girl’s first time, I know. But she was only out for a little while, and you rescued her before there was any permanent damage.”
Reluctantly, Giles nodded. “Still, she should have known better than to try and walk here. If we’d been notified that she took an earlier flight, we could have avoided all this.”
“It’s a life lesson for her, G-man. Now everyone will understand what winter can be like in Chicago.” Faith shrugged, then giggled again despite herself. “She did turn a funny color of blue, but at least nothing froze and fell off. It was only mild hypothermia.”
Huffing indignantly, Giles went off to turn up the thermostat.