Buffy the Vampire Slayer does not belong to me, nor does Highlander. The only profit I gain from this story is writing experience.A/N:
This is the prologue to The Dido Chronicles.
The next few installments of the series will focus on the ‘past lives’ of Buffy as an Immortal. (The Slayer/Immortal thing is explained in the first chapter of Carthage.
The Sunnydale-Buffy portion of this series will be continued in a later installment.PS:
Do not expect me to follow any particular episode. The prologue takes place during the struggle against Glory, but before the final confrontation.
--Prologue: The Monks’ Spell
Buffy held her sister as Dawn sobbed, the bloody knife still clutched in her hand. The Slayer and the Key – what a pair they made, sitting there on the bed. One was a mystical warrior who had prophetic dreams and a secret identity. The other was a mystical ball of energy that could tear through the fabric of the universe. Oh yes, what a pretty pair indeed.
“You know,” Buffy said, “I don’t think it’s as bad as you think.”
Dawn snorted inelegantly, and Buffy was pretty sure there was now snot on her shirt. But she didn’t pull away. Little sister’s existential crises trumped wardrobe issues any day.
“No, really! It could be worse.”
“How,” Dawn mumbled through her tears.
“Well, for one thing, the monks could have made you my daughter instead of my sister. Then you would be five instead of just acting five.”
She felt a half-hearted pinch on her arm, and she smiled in triumph. Now, if only she could earn a smile…
“Ooh! Or, they could have made you a stinky boy. You could’ve been Donald instead of Dawn!”
This time she earned a weak smack. She was making progress.
“Ooor, they could have made you a mini-Giles. Oh wait, they did. But they could’ve given you glasses and a compulsive ‘oh dear,’ too.”
“Buuuffy,” Dawn moaned in her arms. She wasn’t crying anymore, and Buffy was able to slip the knife out of her sister’s hands. It had come a little too close to her eye for comfort there.
“Look, Dawnie: it doesn’t matter how – or when – you came into the world. You are my sister. My. Baby. Sister. You could have three eyes and play kitten poker, and I would still love you. Though I wouldn’t encourage the kitten poker part.”
“Learn to play kitten poker,” the teenager muttered. “Check.”
“Brat,” Buffy said fondly, stroking her sister’s hair.
“Do you mean it?” Dawn asked a second later.
“The brat part? Of course. The part where I said I love you no matter what? With all my heart. As much as I ever loved any…”
She trailed off. Ever loved any… who? She had the fleeting impression of a memory just outside her grasp – something that she should be able to remember, but that she just couldn’t reach. It was frustrating, especially because she had a creepy feeling that she had been about to say something about children
. It wasn’t the first time she’d gotten the feeling, either. Ever since she’d found out about Dawn…
“Any what, Buffy?”
“Jello,” she said quickly. “Cheese. Er, cheesy jello.”
“You love me as much as cheesy jello
. Buffy, I’m so touched,” Dawn mocked. But there was humor in her voice, so Buffy was okay with her mental blunder.
“You should be,” she said airily, deciding to roll with the fumble. “It is quite an honor to be loved like cheesy jello. Not even Xander and Willow are loved like cheesy jello. Nope. Xander is jello and Willow is cheese – loved together but not in one delicious package like my cheesy jello Dawn!”
“Now you’re just grossing me out.”
“With cheesy jello? This from the girl who likes ketchup on her bananas?”
“Well, you need to be not so easy to gross out if you ever want to come patrol with me.”
There was a breath of silence, and then Dawn shot up, eyes wide and red from crying. Buffy glanced down, and sure enough there was snot on her sweater. Oh well – it was one she was borrowing from Dawn anyways.
“Did you – do I – but you said –”
“That I would never take you on patrol and that if you ever followed me out I would string you up by your toes in the attic?” Dawn nodded mutely.
“I changed my mind.”
Dawn looked skeptical, but when Buffy didn’t immediately cry just kidding
, the younger girl grinned. Personally Buffy didn’t see the appeal in the whole demon guts on your shoes thing, but if it made her little sister smile, she was willing to roll with it. After all, no one who shared her blood had ever been anything less than the greatest warriors in history.
And where had that thought come from? Mom was certainly not a warrior by any stretch of the imagination – none of their relatives were even in the armed forces, let alone becoming the greatest warriors in history!
Buffy dismissed the thought as the product of her overactive imagination and smiled over at Dawn, who was blowing her nose and making an effort to repair her appearance using Kleenex.
“Come on, sweetie, let’s get you all cleaned up,” Buffy said, helping Dawn to her feet. “I want to get something over that cut before you die of scurvy.”
“Before I what
?” Dawn stared down at her, an incredulous look on her face. “Buffy,” she said slowly, “Scurvy is what sailors get from not eating fruit – you don’t get scurvy from scratches.”
Buffy shrugged. “So? You could still die of scurvy before we get something on that cut, if you don’t move your butt.”
Dawn rolled her eyes, but followed Buffy into the bathroom to submit to Summers-style first aid.
That night, Buffy’s dreams were stranger than normal. They didn’t feel prophetic, but they did feel true
. Like watching past lives, she decided, or a documentary. At first she thought she was viewing past Slayers. It wouldn’t be the first time that had happened, and it would make sense if one of the other Slayers knew something that could help them against Glory.
Slowly, however, she came to realize that although she was watching a huge stretch of time, the figure at the center never changed. It was one woman, a blonde, and Buffy realized with a start that it was her.
Dream-Buffy turned and smiled at Real-Buffy.
Buffy woke up.
“Giles, it was so weird
! She didn’t just look
like me, she was
me – but me in places and situations that are completely impossible. I look pretty nice in a toga, though, if you were curious.”
“I-I wasn’t,” Giles said, looking up from the store ledger. “You probably went to bed after watching television for too long. I would suggest that you spent too much time with your history homework, but…”
“Very funny, Giles. I’m serious, though! It felt just like my Slayer dreams, and just like my dreams when Kendra died.”
“But in those dreams it was always other girls, or the First Slayer. Now you’re talking of-of yourself in a toga.” He closed the ledger as he spoke, walking around the counter to stand in front of her.
“Yeah, that’s why it’s so weird, Giles. And! And the other day I was talking with Dawn, and I kept almost saying and thinking the strangest things.”
“Almost thinking?” Giles raised his eyebrows, but Buffy just nodded.
“It was bizzarro. First I almost said I loved Dawn as much as any of my children – which is ridiculous, because hello, never had kids – and then I knew she would make a fine warrior because everyone who shares my blood has been among the greatest warriors in history. But mom? So not a warrior. And don’t even get me started on Hank.”
Giles had begun cleaning his glasses when she started talking about her nonexistent children, and Buffy felt a surge of relief that her Watcher was finally starting to take her seriously.
“I d-don’t know what to tell you, Buffy. For now, ignore it. If it keeps happening, I’ll talk to a-a friend about it.”
“If what keeps happening?” asked Willow as she and Xander came up behind Buffy.
“Weird dreams about togas,” Buffy said, smiling as her two friends settled down at the circular study table.
“Oooh, I had a weird dream last night, too!” said Xander, resting his chin in his hand.
“Togas?” asked Willow, shoving her purse under her chair.
“No,” he shook his head, chin still in hand. “Something about penguins in tutus with cheese on their heads.”
Buffy and Willow exchanged a glance, then laughed. Still giggling, Buffy sank into the chair between Xander and Willow, pulling her feet up to sit cross-legged on the uncomfortable wooden chair.
“So where’s Dawn this morning?” asked Willow, leaning her elbows on the table in a mirror of Xander’s position. “I thought she was hanging out with us cause its finally the weekend.”
“We had a rough night,” Buffy grimaced. “She found out about… that. She’s still sleeping off her existential crisis – I think she’s coming patrolling with me tonight, though.”
“I-it’s not safe,” Giles protested from the book loft. Buffy wondered when he had gone up there.
“Of course not,” she agreed, craning her neck to meet Giles’s eyes. “But this is Sunnydale, the Hellmouth. She’s safer with me on patrol than she would be just about anywhere else. Glory’s minions don’t need an invitation, remember?”
“I remember,” he sighed. “Very well, I won’t protest.”
“Good,” she said. “Because I wouldn’t have listened.”
“Say it. SAY IT! You want me to kill her, Giles. You want me to murder
my baby sister.”
The room was silent. No one would meet her eyes. With a snarl, she spun on her heels and stormed out of the room. She needed time to cool off before facing anyone after that. Kill Dawn? She saw where they were coming from – if it came down to Dawn or the world, of course she should
choose the world.
After all, either way Dawn would be dead. Buffy’s breath hitched.
“I could really use someone to talk to,” she whispered, hugging herself as she stepped into the shadows of an alleyway.
She didn’t know why, but she knew someone would come. Someone she loved. Maybe it was all the weird dreams – the ones that hadn’t stopped, but that she couldn’t do anything about while the threat of Glory loomed over them all. In them, she had always gotten the impression that there was someone watching out for Dream-Buffy.
“Er, hey kid.”
“Whistler?” Whatever she had been subconsciously expecting, she was positive that it wasn’t the PTB’s fashion challenged errand boy.
“Yeah. Sorry. Look, I know I’m not your first choice to talk to, but Himself is on, uh, vacation and, er, I’m trying my best to fill in. So, um, would you like to talk?”
The demon had taken his hat off and was twisting it anxiously in his hands. It would be comical, Buffy thought, if she wasn’t so off-balance. Who was Himself? Why was he on vacation? And why did it sound like it was a regular occurrence for her to talk to him?
“Um, ok,” Buffy said, shrugging slightly. She had
asked for someone to talk to, after all. Preferably one who wasn’t encouraging her to kill her sister.
“Great,” Whistler smiled in evident relief. He put his hat back on and gestured toward the mouth of the alley. “Let’s go somewhere a little more comfortable. There’s a coffee shop across the street that serves great mochas.”
“It’s closed,” Buffy pointed out, though she followed the demon out onto the street.
“Yeah, but I’m a demon
Buffy suddenly found herself sitting at a table inside the coffee shop with an iced mocha in her hand. She looked up from the beverage to Whistler, who waved at her from across the small table. She looked back at the mocha, shrugged, and began sipping at it. Who was she to complain about free coffee?
“So what’s your trouble, kid?”
“So what isn’t
,” she muttered back.
Whistler adopted a listening pose, and Buffy felt the urge to spill everything to him. So she did, in whiny and exhaustive detail. To his credit, the demon paid close attention, displaying an evident interest in her problems.
“…and with the dreams on top of everything else, I feel like I’m at my wits end. That oh-so-subtle hint to KILL MY SISTER just pushed my over the edge,” Buffy finished, sucking the last of the mocha up through her straw.
“Do you mind if I play Devil’s Advocate?” Whistler inquired after a moment. Buffy shrugged. “Well, first of all she’s not really
your sister – no, wait! Listen – she isn’t really your sister. I’m not saying that your feelings
aren’t real. The fact that you love
her like a sister won’t ever change. She’s been part of your family since your move to Sunnydale four plus years ago.”
“Really?” Buffy looked surprised.
They had all thought that Dawn was barely a year old. If she joined the family on the trip up… That meant all their Sunnydale memories were true, and the Sunnydale memories were the ones most important to Buffy. In L.A. she had been a stereotypical cheerleader in every sense. In Sunnydale, at least, she’d developed some character and built a relationship with her sister.
“Really,” Whistler confirmed. “It was actually a bit of a mix up – caused quite a scandal. With Himself on vacation, The Others got a bit over eager to be meddling with the Slayer line. It’s been His pet project from the beginning, and suddenly They
had the opportunity to mess around with it for their own purposes. They didn’t actually mean to screw with you
“So I just got screwed over because I happened to be the Slayer? Nothing personal
?” Buffy asked bitterly.
“It’s more complicated than that,” Whistler said, shaking his head. He cocked his head to the side and appeared to be thinking hard about something. “It has to do with the dreams you’ve been having. As the monks’ spell weakens, you’re beginning to remember…stuff. I can’t explain it.”
“Try anyways,” she said.
“No, really. Even if I had the words, you wouldn’t believe me. But here, I tell you what. I’ll show
you.” Whistler looked quite pleased with himself as he suggested this, and it occurred to Buffy that she should probably be worried.
“Show me?” she asked suspiciously.
“Well, sort of. I’ll remove the monks’ spell that changes your memory, and-”
Buffy’s expression darkened dangerously as Whistler spoke.
“This is just the PTB’s attempt to get me to kill my sister, isn’t it,” she spat. She stood abruptly, sending her chair clattering to the ground. “You aren’t here to help me, you’re here to try and mess with me. Well you can tell those bastard bosses of yours that this is one mistake they can’t undo! If the world ends, so be it. I will not hurt my sister
She spun around to march out of the coffee shop, only to run straight into Whistler. Buffy growled and tried to shove the demon out of the way, but he only reappeared in her path again.
“Kid! Calm down! That’s not it at all!”
Buffy shoved him out of the way again, but he scrambled back to block the door.
“Look, you’ll still have all your false memories – you’ll just know that they’re false! I promise it won’t change how you feel
. Trust me, lady, I wouldn’t try and screw with you, no matter what the bosses said. When Himself comes back from vacation…” he shivered theatrically. “And! And! Not to mention Balance! Cause me – Balance Demon. I’m all about the Balance. I’m not going to jeopardize that for anyone. And you? You should never have been messed with.”
Buffy had calmed down during Whistler’s jumbled attempt at reassurance. While she was still distrustful and pissed at the Powers, she no longer felt the desire to forcibly remove the demon’s tongue from his mouth and shove it up his nose.
“Who is this ‘Himself’?” Buffy asked, stalling as she thought about Whistler’s offer. “God?”
“No more than any other Power,” Whistler shrugged, though he looked happy to be talking about something unlikely to result in the Slayer doing him bodily harm. “I just say Himself to distinguish him from the other Powers, because he’s got a special connection to you and the Slayer line.”
Buffy nodded, but didn’t say anything as she continued to think over the offer. It would be nice to make sense of the weird dreams… They’d gotten to the point that she couldn’t even get a full night’s sleep.
“Dawn is still my sister,” she said after a minute, arms crossed over her chest. Whistler nodded eagerly. “And I’ll be up and ready to fight Glory by tomorrow, no problem.”
“No problem,” he agreed, still nodding.
“And what do you get out of this?” she asked, still suspicious but warming to the idea of figuring out what her dreams meant.
“Nothing,” he said quickly. Her eyes narrowed, and he quickly did a verbal 180. “Ok, so maybe I’m banking on getting a little credit with Himself,” he shrugged. “But I also like you
, kid, and I’d rather this whole Glorificus incident didn’t turn into a world-ending disaster.”
Buffy thought about it. Whistler seemed to be telling the truth. At the very least she wasn’t going to be loosing anything in this transaction. At best, she would figure out the dreams and that would give her the boost she needed to defeat Glory without Dawn every coming close to death.
“Ok Whistler, I’ll trust you. Don’t make me regret it.”
The demon nodded quickly, reached out, and touched her temples before she realized what was happening. As she collapsed, she felt herself hitting the soft mattress of her own bed. Then there was nothing but darkness.
Buffy, as we know her, was ‘born’ with the monks’ spell prior to Sunnydale. Assume that everything that happened on the Hellmouth actually happened with Dawn tagging along.