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Dawn quietly opened the front door to the house, not wanting to wake her sister. “I hope she’s still sleeping. This whole thing’s gotta be rough on her.” The slayer had only recently come back to Dawn and the rest of the gang. But, she just hadn’t seemed to be herself. “She just needs time,” Dawn sighed.

As gently as possible, Dawn closed the door, and silently set her backpack near the foot of the stairs. Just as she was about to climb the staircase, the younger Summers felt and heard her stomach rumble. “Ooh…hunger waits for no one. Snack time.” She stalked across the foyer to the kitchen door like a girl possessed. “Must have food. Must have…voices?” The teenager stopped her movement just as she reached the door, pausing to decipher who was talking. “I wonder who’s home. Usually no one’s here when I get here. Must be because I’m early.” So as not to startle the inhabitants of the kitchen, the girl stayed behind the door, pressing her ear against it.

“Willow. I need you!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

“No, wait. Not yet. I’m not ready for you yet.”

Dawn’s eyes grew wide. ‘What the hell?’ she thought.

“Willow, I’m going to try my whole hand. See if I can’t get farther in there.”

“Tara, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. It’s kind of tight in there, and my hand was already in as far as it can go. You could get stuck.”

Behind the door, the teenager was silently freaking. “Oh, my, God.” Inside her mind, a thousand different scenarios played themselves out. “Oh, my, God. No way. Gotta be something else.”

“Will, we have to get it out. It just can’t stay there forever. It’s stuck there.”

“Tar, I know that. It’s not like we planned for it to get stuck. We didn’t even know where it went until it was too late.”

“True. Hey! I’ve got an idea. Salad tongs.”

‘Salad tongs?!’ Dawn’s asked herself. ‘I so do not wanna know what they’re going to do with salad tongs. Why do I get the feeling it has nothing to do with salad?” The girl knew she should vacate her position behind the door, but a force beyond her control kept her firmly outside the kitchen.

“Are they the extra long ones? The hole’s kind of deep. Might not be able to reach the spot.”

“I’m sure they’ll reach the spot. Just have to be careful though, not to squeeze too hard.”

“Right.”

The younger Summers sister about lost her balance, but thrust her arm out, bracing herself against the kitchen door frame. ‘Unbelievable,’ she thought. ‘I’ve never, ever heard them talking about using salad tongs. Not that I’ve ever listened to them talking about things or whatever before,’ she quickly corrected herself.

“Stop squirming, dammit. Keep moving like that and I can’t pull it out.” Tara let out a frustrated sigh.

‘Oh God, Willow. What did you do? What can’t be pulled out?’ Dawn couldn’t get her overactive mind to stop. Images flooded her mind, everything and anything. ‘Please tell me she just fell on something and it’s not…oh God, I can’t even think about it.”

“Oh no. It’s totally wedged in there, Tara. I don’t know what we’re going to do! We can’t just leave it there.”

“I know, sweetie. I’m doing the best I can. It’s not everyday that I have to reach down so far into something so dark.”

“Try your hands again. Maybe the salad tongs are too slick.”

“Ok. One more time.”

Dawn heard the metallic clank of the salad tongs on what she thought was the kitchen floor. More images rushed in her mind, her knees growing weaker due to her inability to block them out. “Thank God Buffy’s not awake. She’d probably die. Not that I’m doing much better. But, why can’t I leave?”

“Just a little farther. A little farther. Ok, got my arm in.”

‘Her arm! Good God!’ Dawn became dizzy and again braced herself.

“Tara! I think you’ve got it! You’ve hit the spot. Do you feel it?”

“Oh Will…I feel it. I think I finally reached the spot. Now I just have to gently grab on.”

“Well, not too gently. Need to get a firm grip.”

“Ok,” Tara agreed. “OH! My hands around it now. I’ve got it.”

“Tara, be careful. It’s very sensitive to touch. In fact, it shakes really hard sometimes.”

“I know, baby. I’m being as careful as possible.”

‘It shakes?’ Dawn about hit her limit. Her head spun with more images and information than a teenager should handle.

“Just a little further, baby. Come on…you can do it. Just a little more.”

“Almost done Will. Almost done. Just another inch.”

‘Oh, my, God.’ With those last words…Dawn spun around and hit the floor. Neither witch heard the thump as the girl fainted.

“There. She’s out. All out.”

“Oh thank God. I was so worried.” Tara cradled the little bundle in her arms.

“You’re a bad, bad rat, Amy. Getting stuck behind the dishwasher. That’s the LAST time we let you play in the kitchen.” Willow looked at Tara and smiled. “Let’s get her back upstairs and into her cage.”

The two Wiccans opened the kitchen door, intending to head upstairs. Willow about tripped over the teenager lying on the wood floor. “Dawn? Dawnie?”

The End
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The authors own nothing. Joss, UPN, WB, etc. own Buffy, the show, the characters, the places, and the backstory. The authors own any original plots.