DAWN OF THE JEDI
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS or Star Wars. Only the words are mine.
Please note: I am English and so is my spelling. Live with it.
Dawn burst into the house with her usual subtlety, the sudden noise startling her sister, who was kneeling on the floor alongside the sofa. On the sofa was a man, a stranger wearing brown robes, and whose hand Buffy was holding.
Coming closer, Dawn raised an eyebrow at her sister. Buffy shrugged. “I found him on patrol. He was being kicked around by this skanky blonde bitch. This guy dropped a glowy ball thing which made the skank back off, so I grabbed him and ran.”
Dawn blinked, processing the information: Her sister the flake. After a long moment, she said, “Where’s the ball?”
Buffy shrugged again. “Didn’t have time to look for it. I'll go back tomorrow.”
A moan from the sofa distracted both sisters. The man’s eyes fluttered open and focused blearily on the blonde. “The Key, you must protect the Key…” he said, his voice trailing off. The eyes flickered again, this time seeing Dawn standing a little way off. “The Key!” he said again, sounding agitated. The hand not being held by Buffy waved about a bit, reached out towards Dawn, who watched the limb warily.
The man managed to pull himself up a bit, all his attention now on Dawn as he pulled something from a pocket inside his robe. “You will need this,” he said, offering his fist to the girl. Dawn stepped closer, curiosity getting the better of her as always. The fist opened to reveal a luminous green stone.
Dawn reached out and lifted the stone between thumb and forefinger. “Thanks,” she started, fist closing over the warm crystal. She never heard Buffy’s cry she collapsed to the floor.
* * * *
Green light spilled through neural pathways, flaring bright in places, dimming in others, forming nodes of power and skill.
The girl woke suddenly, and for an instant her blue eyes flared green. She could hear Buffy pacing, her footsteps quick and nervous. She could hear the monk’s laboured breathing. Dawn pushed herself to her feet and reached out to touch the monk. Somewhere deep inside her mind a node flared to life, and power poured down her arm and into the monk. The man cried out, his spine arching as the power forced its way into his broken body. Then he went limp, fell into painless sleep as his body began to repair itself.
Buffy watched in shocked amazement as her little sister made with the mojo. “What the heck was that!” Buffy demanded, her voice shrill.
Dawn flinched at the tone. “I have absolutely no idea. I could hear his breathing and it… I just… I knew I could help. So I did.”
Buffy stared at her as though seeing her sister for the very first time. “Wow. OK. Um, so what else can you do?”
Dawn shrugged, looking embarrassed. “I don’t know. Until now I didn’t know I could do that. Was that what it was like for you? When you first woke up all slayer-y?”
Buffy remembered those first awful, confused hours when she broke door handles and gave bone-breaking hugs with absolutely no idea why. In two quick steps she was hugging her baby sister for all she was worth.
Dawn returned the hug, rather surprised. She had been so sure that Buffy would freak about this… whatever it was.
“We’ll figure it out together,” the blonde said tearfully. “You won’t have to go through it without any help the way I did. I promise.”
* * * *
The whole gang assembled at Revello Drive. Buffy had briefed the group and Giles was now frantically polishing his glasses and Tara was staring at Dawn in the way she did when examining someone’s aura.
The blonde witch smiled gently at the nervous teen. “Don’t worry Dawn, you’re still you. There’s just a bit more than usual, that’s all.” To the group at large she said, “Dawn’s aura bears the marks of power now, but its not magic exactly, not something I recognise.”
Willow looked up from where she was examining the green crystal. “Your monk didn’t say anything else about this crystal? Or about the glowy ball thing?”
Buffy shook her head. “Nope. The ball made the skank back off a bit, which gave me time to get us out of there. I didn’t even know about the crystal until he gave it to Dawn.”
“Did he, perhaps, intend to give it to you?” Giles asked.
Buffy glanced at Dawn. “No. He definitely perked up when he saw her, said something about protecting the Key, definitely handed it to her. He had plenty of chance to give it to me if that’s what he meant to do.”
A sound from the sofa drew their attention. The monk awoke to find himself pinned under the weight of their stares.
The Slayer spoke first. "What did you do to my sister?" she demanded, her tone suggesting that answers had better be forthcoming.
The monk sighed, struggled to sit up, mildly relieved at the lack of pain from broken ribs and bruised organs. "You are aware that there are Powers in the universe responsible for various spheres, yes?"
He saw the confusion on the faces of the Slayer and the young man, the beginnings of understanding in the Sorceress, and the knowledge in the wise eyes of the Watcher and the Witch, and nodded to himself. Looking at Giles and Tara, he continued.
"One of these Powers is called the Key. In its natural form it is pure energy which, if wholly unleashed, unlocks the boundaries between dimensions and realities. A very long time ago, beings existed with the natural ability to sense, use and shape parts of this energy. The results were akin to magic: Healing or destruction, physical prowess or mental, and so on. An individual would develop his use of the power in accordance with his nature and so it varied from one to another.
"Two groups formed, one serving Light, the other serving Dark. Over the years, the practitioners fought and died until there were just a few individuals left with the ability. Like any other racial trait, kill enough of the carriers and it dies out but for a few throw-backs.
"In a dimension beyond this one, a triumvirate of gods ruled until one of them sought dominion over the other two. The two combined their power and cast out their sister, exiling her beyond the reach of her home and power-base.
"The insane hell-goddess knew that the Key was the only way for her to return to her realm and so she began to seek a way to acquire it. What did it matter to her that to wholly unleash the power of the Key would be to destroy all the dimensions, all the realities – including the one she sought to reach.
"So the Powers took the Key and gave it into the safekeeping of a monastic Order. This Order knew the nature of the Key since they were, perhaps, the only surviving users of the Key's lesser energies. They became the guardians of the Key, and protected it for centuries while the hell-goddess searched.
"And, at last, the Beast found where the Key was hidden. As her minions assaulted our walls, the Brethren gathered and did what had to be done to protect the Key and all the dimensions and realities. We transformed it into flesh and sent it to the Slayer to protect.
"The Beast tore down the walls of our fortress and slaughtered my Brethren like cattle. She bathed in their blood. I am the last and, last night, I should have died and the secret of the Key's form would have died with me."
The Scoobies were silent, processing what the monk had told them. Tears were trickling down Tara's face, her compassion stirred by the grief in the man's face. How terrible, to be the last of your kind, to have seen the deaths of all those who were your family.
Xander and Giles came to the same realisation at almost the same moment. "Dear Lord," Giles said, as Xander exclaimed, "Dawn!"
From the stairs, where she had been sitting in silence, the monk's words rolling over her, Dawn said, "Me. I'm the Key. Not real. A thing."
The monk looked towards the young girl, sorrow etched into his features even as the Scoobies began to talk all at once, voices rising in a babble of confusion, assurance, distress.
Dawn sobbed, scrambled to her feet and ran to her room, the door slamming behind her. Buffy ran after her, as Willow said, "So, Dawnie's created by magic. But I – we – all remember her."
"So, how, if I may ask, did your Order manage so complex a piece of magic with the goddess hammering on the doors?" Giles asked, the polite enquiry barely masking the rage boiling beneath the surface.
The monk flinched away from the looming threat of the Watcher's rage. "Amongst our brethren there have sometimes been seers. We have known for centuries that our guardianship of the Key would bring doom upon us. One of my Brothers was the best seer we have had in generations. We knew that the Beast would be coming, what the cost would be. So we prepared the ritual in advance. When the Beast found us, all we needed to do was to complete it."
Giles nodded, appreciating the dedication to duty that it must have taken for the whole Order to work for generations to ensure that guardianship of the Key would pass into the hands of another even at the cost of all of their lives.
Willow's quick mind raised the next question. "Is she real? What about all these memories?"
"We took the Slayer's blood and used it to create life – a magical test tube baby, if you will. When we closed the ritual, the nascent life was aged to where she was not completely helpless or unaware of hazard but still young enough to ensure the Slayer's protection. We had devised a history for her that would fit her into Buffy's life and the memory spell is linked to her aura so that anyone who should have historical knowledge of her – does. Apart from the mystical and ritual aspects of her creation, she is as real as any other child"
Tara's gentle voice cut through the debate that greeted that explanation. "What about the crystal?"
"It was mine. Before that, it has passed from Brother to Brother since the founding of the Order. It is a focus for the lesser energies of the Key. I thought it might help her learn how to use some of her abilities, help her to survive the Beast and the Hellmouth. I didn't know that her nature would absorb the essence of the crystal. Dawn healed me from injuries that were killing me but such proficiency should not be possible without training and meditation."
"How is the Key's energy different from magic?"
The monk glanced over at the two women. "It is a form of what you call magic. The magic you use depends on your particular gift. The Witch draws upon the innate power of the Earth. The Sorceress has an internal well of power. A priest appeals to a specific Power. A demonologist is similar to a priest but a demon provides the power and it is always Dark. We are born with the innate ability to sense the Key's energies and can learn to manipulate that energy just as any other magician learns."
"What will you do now," Xander asked
"If the Slayer will permit it, I will stay and endeavour to teach Dawn how to focus her abilities, and how to avoid accessing the Key. There is nowhere else for me now."
* * * *
Later that day, Dawn sliced her arms with a kitchen knife in a futile attempt to prove herself human. As the dark blood flowed down her arms and onto the kitchen floor, she observed with detached interest the way in which the flow slowed, stopped and the deep lacerations began to heal and scar.
Only a few moments had passed since the knife had bitten into her flesh. She barely noticed Willow’s entrance into the kitchen, and the sudden cacophony of sound as water-soaked towels were wrapped around her arms, Buffy’s panicked demands for answers to questions that Dawn didn’t even hear.
Eventually, everything was quiet again. Buffy and Willow had moved Dawn into her bedroom, and, in the face of her obstinate silence, had left her alone. Neither could understand why there was so much blood for such small cuts and Dawn had no desire to explain and face still more questions.
A quiet knock at her door was ignored. The monk – Gregory – opened the door and peeked in. Dawn was curled in the middle of her bed, staring at the wall. Her misery was palpable, a sharp contrast to the bright, cheerful, typically teenaged room.
He sat on the edge of her bed and began to talk to her in calm, quiet tones, telling her of his childhood in Romania, the discovery of his natural abilities, and how he explored them without a teacher or even someone in whom he could confide.
It was the accent that eventually broke through Dawn’s shell. She had always been a sucker for a foreign accent – just look at her affection for Spike and Giles. Eventually, she found herself sitting against the headboard, knees tucked up under her chin, just listening to that lovely accent as the words washed over her, sank into her awareness, and slowly began to heal her pain.
Once, there had been thousands of sensitives, hundreds of practitioners spread across dozens of races and worlds, serving either Dark or Light, Sith or Jedi, and the wars fought between those two sides had destroyed entire solar systems.
Now there were only two: Gregory and Dawn – a monk and a teenager not known for self restraint. If the Powers were watching, they'd probably be laughing.