All characters belong to Joss Whedon.
Everybody had moved from the cargo bay to the dining room. Mal, Zoe, Wash, Kaylee and Simon were sitting at the table. Simon looked apprehensive, Kaylee and Wash looked interested, and Mal and Zoe were watching Spike and Illyria carefully. Jayne was standing in the far right corner, his eyes lingering over Illyria's body. Inara and Book were standing in the far right corner. Each of them had unreadable expressions on their faces.
That left Dawn, Whistler, River, Spike and Illyria to go to the front of the room. Illyria was standing perfectly still, not showing much interest in anybody. River was next to her, seemingly fascinated with her body armor. Spike was sitting down on a chair with Dawn in his lap. He had his arms around her waist and his chin resting on her shoulder. Whistler was standing next to them, looking completely out of place.
"So are you going to get with the explaining?" Dawn asked. "Or am I going to have to rip your arms off and beat you with them?"
Whistler winced. "Geez, what is it with you Summers women and the violent threats? I'm just the messenger here."
"Maybe we need to shoot the messenger," Spike said darkly.
"Okay, okay, I'll explain," Whistler said. "But first I think we should have a quick recap for us and bring the newbies up to speed."
"You know, that wouldn't be such a bad idea," Mal said. "Especially since I'm starting to lose my patience."
Dawn sighed. "Okay." She looked the crew in the eye. "Earth didn't start out as a paradise. For thousands of years, demons lived there. They made it their hell. Eventually, humans came along and the demons were driven out that dimension. But before they left they mixed their blood with a human's and that created vampires."
Jayne snorted. "That's a bunch of fei hua. Vampires ain't real."
Spike got up and placed Dawn back on the chair. He faced the crew and vamped out. Kaylee let out a small scream and Inara gasped. "You better believe they're real," he said. "Because I am one." His face turned back to normal and Dawn got up so she could sit on his lap again.
"And as long as there have been vampires and demons, there has been a slayer," Whistler said. "One girl in the world with the strength and the skill to fight them."
"I thought you just said the demons were driven away," Simon said.
"The pure demons were," River corrected. "The demons that were on Earth with the humans were tainted and a bit more humanized."
"Pure demons are bigger," Dawn added. "And some have tentacles."
Wash wrinkled his nose. "Ugh, you got that personal with a demon?"
"Tentacles husband," Zoe said. "She said tentacles."
"Oh. I knew that."
"Anyway," Whistler said. "Slayers fought vampires and demons. They had super strength, they were able to heal faster than normal humans, and they had watchers to train them. But unfortunately the life span of the average slayer was about one to two years. So when one slayer died, another was called."
"So you sent a girl to go defend the world all by herself?" Mal asked. The anger was apparent in his voice.
"Look, the slayer was created at a time when most people died when they were thirty," Whistler said. "What you considered to be teenagers now were adults back then. Anyway, most of the slayers abided by the tradition. Then Buffy Summers came along."
"She was the toughest slayer I ever fought," Spike said. He looked really nostalgic. "I had killed two slayers, one during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the other in New York in 1977. But Buffy was different. She had friends and family that helped her. Even death didn't stop her."
"The Master bit her and left her to drown," Dawn explained. "There was this prophecy that said the Master shall rise and the slayer shall die. And Buffy wanted to quit, but she went down there after the Master's minions massacred a bunch of kids at the school. So she went down into the underground church he was trapped in. But then it turned out that her going down there is what allowed him to get free. So he bit her, got enough to have the strength to get out and left her there. Xander and Angel got down there after he left and Xander used CPR to bring her back. Then Buffy came and killed the Master which was good because the hellmouth was opening and the pure demons were trying to come back."
"If she died, does that mean there was another slayer?" Simon asked.
Dawn grinned. "Smart boy. Yes, there was another one called. Her name was Kendra. She was brought up the more traditional slayer way: no friends, no family, and basically no life."
"That's so sad," Kaylee said in a small voice.
"Yeah," Dawn agreed. "It was. She didn't last very long; Drusilla took her down pretty easily."
"Who's Drusilla?" Zoe asked.
Dawn looked at Spike. "You want to take this one?"
"Sure pet," Spike said. "Drusilla was my sire. The vampire that made me. You see, back in the 1600s, the Master sired a woman named Darla. Then, over a hundred years later she sired a guy named Liam. He became Angelus, the most vicious vampire in history."
Spike raised his eyebrows. "Do you think I'm joking?"
"No," she said. "Angelus is Latin for angel; it just seems kind of funny for it to be the name of a monster."
He grinned. "His sister thought he was. His family thought he was dead. He went to their house and the girl let him in. He killed them all and took the whole village when he was done. He was a nasty bugger back in those days. Most vampires kill to survive, but he did it for fun. He would make a game out of it. And Drusilla was the worst thing he ever did."
"What did he do to her?" asked Mal.
"He stalked her and used every sort of mental torture he could on her," Spike said. "He drove her insane. And on the day she would have became a nun, he turned her into a vampire. Then about twenty years later she made me a vampire. She was my everything. My dark princess. I didn't care she was out of her mind." He smiled softly. "That's one of the things I liked best about her."
"That's sweet," Kaylee said. "In a creepy kind of way."
"So what happened with Darla, Angelus and Drusilla?" Wash asked. "They're not still alive are they?"
"Well Darla and Angel are dead," Spike said. "Darla staked herself to save her and Angel's brat and Angel got his shanshu. And Angel and Buffy were finally able to be together without the fear of him turning back into Angelus. But I don't know what happened to Dru. I haven't seen her since the last time she left Sunnydale."
"You know, as interesting as this is, I don't see what Dawn has to do with this," Simon asked.
"There was once a hell god named Glory," said Dawn. She figured that she should explain this part. "And she ruled a hell dimension with two other hell gods. The other hell gods were afraid of her because she was so evil, so they fought to kick her out. They managed to do it, but just barely. She was banished to our dimension and into the body of a baby boy. But her power was so great that she was able to eventually change into herself for short periods of time."
"She wanted to get home," Whistler said. "And she needed the Key to do that."
"The Key has existed for hundreds of years," Dawn continued. "For a long time it was a big green ball of energy. But when the monks that protected it realized Glory wanted it, they gave to Buffy. But they had to make sure she protected it with her life. So they made the Key human and sent it to her in a form of a sister. I was the sister. I am the Key."
The crew looked at her in shock. "Wait a minute," Jayne said. "You're not real?"
"Of course she's real," River said. She gave him an evil glare. "She just wasn't always human."
"Thanks River," Dawn said. "The monks took some of Buffy's blood and made me into her sister. They gave everybody fourteen years worth of fake memories. Nobody knew I wasn't real until one of the monks told Buffy. Glory had tortured him to find out where the Key was but he didn't tell her. Buffy found him and got her ass kicked by Glory. But she got away with him and that's when he told her."
"Did she tell you?" Book asked. He had moved out of the corner and was now standing closer to the table. He seemed fascinated by the tale, but Dawn couldn't tell for sure. It was sometimes hard to tell with him.
Dawn shook her head. "The only person she told was Giles. She thought it was safer if the others didn't know. Plus she thought the others would act weird if they found out. It turned out she was right; the others did start acting all weird when they found out. I got suspicious and Spike and I broke into the Magic Box to read Giles's notes. That's how I found out I was the Key."
"How could you let her find out like that?" Simon asked Spike angrily.
"I didn't know, you bleeding idiot," Spike snapped. "It's not like anybody told be beforehand that she was the sodding Key. At the time I just thought she was a fourteen year old hormonal time bomb."
"Thanks Spike," Dawn said sarcastically. "Anyway, I cut myself after I found out to prove that I was real. And I totally freaked out at school the next day."
"You were in shock," River said. "You felt like your pieces didn't fit together right. Like a puzzle with the pieces in the wrong places."
Illyria cocked her head and looked at Dawn. "There is no need for you to feel wrong. Your limbs are in all the right places." She cocked her head to the other side. "Or are you broken on the inside?"
"Let's just get back to the story," Whistler said. "I don't have a long time here."
"Okay, let's just give the cliff notes version," Dawn said. "Glory found out I was the Key. Her followers tied me up on this tower that was made by a bunch of crazy people. Buffy and the others found me and Buffy started beating up on her. Unfortunately, there was this guy called Doc and he cut me. Buffy got up there but it was too late. When I started bleeding, the walls of all the dimensions started coming down. Reality was going to collapse and the world would have ended. And the only way for everything to go back to normal was for me to die."
Simon's eyes widened in horror. "You died?"
"No, not then," Dawn said. "I tried to jump but Buffy wouldn't let me. She jumped in my place. We shared enough of the same blood for her death to stop the end of the world. Then Willow brought her back to life which ended up causing a whole bunch of chaos. And I'll talk about that later if you want, but now--" she stopped and turned to face Whistler. "I want to know what the hell you're doing here."
"Well it's complicated," Whistler said slowly.
"Just make it simple," she snapped. "I don't like cryptic messages."
He nodded. "Okay, you want simple? Here it is: you were supposed to jump off that tower. If you would have jumped, the Key would have been destroyed and the others would have forgotten you existed. But Buffy's sacrifice screwed up that plan. Personally, I knew she wouldn't let you die but they didn't listen to me."
Dawn clenched her fists at her side. The stupid Powers never seemed to listen to anyone. 'Dumbasses', she thought to herself. "Okay, so does that have anything to do with why I'm here now?"
"Well it did in a way," he said. "Because a couple years later the Powers realized that you were needed somewhere else. Here, to be exact. So when you jumped in front of that spell to save Big Sis, you died and we pulled you ahead five hundred years. We gave you new memories and a new identity."
"But why?" she asked, feeling frustrated. "Why am I here? Why do I still have memories of my old life? And what the hell is wrong with your fashion sense?"
"Look, the Slayer line died out a couple hundred years ago," Whistler said. "And it should have stayed that way until the Powers decided to bring them back. But the Academy found out about them and started experimenting. And their experiments ended up with one girl being called."
"Who?" Spike asked.
Whistler pointed to River. "Her. The Powers saw this and they realized she needed a guide. So we sent you. Willow's spell to activate all the Slayers left us the opportunity to repackage you as a Slayer."
Her mouth dropped open. "But I'm not a Slayer. We did a spell--"
"Dawn Summers wasn't a slayer," Whistler said. "Dawn Tam is an entirely different story. The only reason the two of you haven't felt like Slayers is because Simon here has kept you way too sedated."
"Why in the hell would you do this to two girls?" Mal asked. He was giving Whistler a deadly look.
"The Academy is messing with forces they have no right to," Whistler said. "Two Slayers will be able to help you fight what's coming. There's a war coming kids. You can choose whether or not to fight, but if you do fight, then you guys will have a shot at bringing the Alliance down."
"And how do we do that?" Spike asked.
"Now that I can't really tell you. But I can tell you the secret to getting more people on your side is locked inside River's mind. Discover the secret, and you can start bringing them down."
"And what happens if we don't?" Jayne asked.
"Then Alliance's hold will spread," Whistler said. "And they'll wipe out every person who has ever opposed them. They will kill you all just to get back Dawn and River. Not to mention there's no telling what will happen if they keep messing with the supernatural powers."
"What about us?" Spike asked. "How the hell did me and Blue get in bleeding box?"
Whistler took a couple steps back. He looked at Illyria fearfully. "Well I had your drinks spiked so you would pass out. Then I had you stuffed in the box and gave it to the people Mal was dealing with today. I told them to convince him to take the box."
"But why?" Illyria asked. "Speak you disgusting vermin before I rip your eyes out."
"I knew once you were with Dawn that you would help her in what she decides to do," Whistler said quickly. "If she decides to fight, what better back-up that you two?" He saluted at Dawn. "Now I would love to stay and chat more but I've got to go. People to see, messages to deliver, yadda yadda yadda." He left the room as fast as possible.
There was a long silence after he left. Dawn tried to speak but she couldn't find the words. What was there to say? She had just found out she was a Slayer, the Alliance was even more evil than she thought and River was the key to restarting the war.
Kaylee raised her hand slowly. "Um...he never did explain what you are." She was looking at Illyria.
Illyria glared at her. "I am Illyria. God king of the Premordium. The--"
"God of gods, the king of kings and all that fun stuff," Spike interrupted. "There's no need to get all dramatic. Not when there's whiskey to be drunk." He looked at Dawn hopefully. "There is whiskey, right?"
Dawn nodded. "Whiskey and wine. And after all the shit I just heard, a drink sounds like a great idea right about now."
"Wait," Simon said. "If you're going to drink then please get out of his lap. I don't need you getting drunk and falling back on your smoochies plan. I really can't deal with that after what I just found out."
"There's a smoochies plan?" Mal asked. "Gorramit, now I really need a drink."