A/N Later in this story I use the rape and child abuse warnings.. I'm just being carefull, there's nothing graphic in the story, more hinted at than anything

Years had passed. How many? 10, no not nearly that long, maybe 4, no, if she was 27 now and she had been, how old then? Older it felt. Yes she was definitely older then. She'd had responsibilities then, people relied on her followed her even. Yes she must have been older then.

"Hi Sis!" Dawn’s cheerful voice sounded on the peripherals of Buffy's awareness, pulling her slowly from her musings.

"Hi Dawnie, good day?"

Dawn sighed inwardly as she saw her sister retreat behind her patented too bright smile. It had been this way since, well since they drove away from the remains of Sunnydale. Buffy had smiled that smile so often Dawn was sure her face must hurt by now.
So that was Buffy at 28, bright smiles, friendly banter, reasonable job, she had finally graduated from college and got a job as what she called a 'proper' guidance councilor, it seemed her time at Sunnydale High had given her a taste for it. Nice boyfriend too, no, Dawn corrected herself, nice fiancée. Putting her baby sister through college, keeping up with her friends, doing the shopping and cleaning the house. To sum it up, Buffy was living a normal life, and doing it all with a huge smile plastered over her face. Over her face not on it Dawn thought ruefully, just a facade like the expensive make up her sister used when she accompanied Richard to one of his law firms many social events.

"Buffy to Dawn, come in Dawn" Buffy's cheesy joke snapped Dawn out of her revere.

"Sorry Buff, yeah college was ok, got through a whole day without being given anymore assignments, can't be bad"

"No" her sister agreed with just a hint of something indefinable in her voice "can't be bad"


"Willow?" Dawn asked when she met the redhead later that evening for coffee


"How do you think Buffy is doing?" Dawns question seemed to surprise the witch

"Um, well okay I guess, you know she has everything she ever wanted, with not being the slayer anymore and all. And Richard is perfect and her job is great, so um, she must be doing great!" Dawn had to smile, so rarely now did this assured and successful woman babble. The smile fell from Dawns face as she considered this, Willow only babbled if she was either, nervous, lying or trying to convince herself of something she knew to be false

"I agree" she replied wryly "Buffy is far from great, I don't know why but something is really wrong with her"

"Dawn I said" Willow trailed off at and the younger girl 's knowing look "You're right, but I don't understand it, she has everything now, everything she always wanted"

"Maybe it turns out what she always wanted, wasn't what she wanted at all, or maybe just didn't match up to the dream"

The redhead bit her lip, and Dawn was again reminded of a younger less confident Willow, a Sunnydale willow

"Do you think we should talk to her?"

"Maybe, I don't know, she's got the whole 'so happy with my life' act down so well, she may even be fooling herself.


"Willow. Hi, what are you doing here?" Buffy looked up from the mindless reality show she had been attempting to watch

"Hey can your oldest friend not drop by unannounced for a coffee, without it being some big worried intervention deal" Willow cursed inwardly 'smooth Willow, well done!'

"Now your scaring me" Buffy looked suspiciously at her friend "what's up?"

"Sorry Buffy, its just Dawn and I we're worried about you" The confession came unbidden to her lips "and I just wanted to talk a bit you know, so we can stop. Worrying that is"

"What makes you think anything is wrong with me?" Buffy questioned, but she didn't seem too surprised "I'm fine, have you not seen my life lately, I have everything I ever wanted"

"Well you just seem a bit, I don't know, over happy, Like maybe your not as happy as you look, 'cos no one is ever that happy all the time?"

"Well I am" Buffy stated, bright smile in place like a shield "hey do you want a coffee, I want to hear all about your new girlfriend anyway, when do we get to meet her?" Willow sighed, conversation over.

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