I don’t own Supernatural or Buffy. I make no profit from writing this story.AN:
Hey, would you look at that; it hasn't even been a year yet and I'm updating again! Has the world ended? Do ya love me??
Dawn is going to seem very mature to some but there will definitely be outbursts, read: blowups, of childishness to come. Right now, it’s mostly shock and denial that’s keeping her from flipping. Being mature doesn’t mean you don’t freak out; it just means that you tend to know the appropriate time to do so.
Dawn pulled herself together, glancing at the ever spreading light from the sun. There wasn’t much time; she made her way over to a sobbing Spike and pulling the tattered edges of her dress up, Dawn knelt gently beside him. She watched, feeling slightly detached as her hand found a place on his leather-clad shoulder.
“Spike. Come on, Spike.” Dawn cajoled, watching the shadows surrounding Spike lighten. Very shortly there would be no darkness to protect Spike. “Get up. Get up, Spike!” The vagueness was fading fast and the world was coming back into stark, harsh color. She wouldn’t be able to do this, to go on and fight the good fight, if she had to see Spike die too. Wisps of smoke rose from the edges of Spike’s boots as Dawn tugged desperately at him. “Please, Spike, please,” Dawn begged.
Her pleas caused Spike to lift his head, tears leaving clean trails in the dirt and dust coving his face. His blue eyes were bright with emotion and slightly cloudy as they tried to focus on her. “Dawn?” Spike asked hesitantly, eyes coming sharply into focus. He reached forward hesitantly, reverently, touching her cheeks with bandaged hands.
“Yes, Spike. I’m Dawn and you’re going to be a big pile of dust if you don’t move,” Dawn growled, tugging hard on the reaching hands.
Spike’s face showed his confusion before he looked over Dawn’s shoulder to see the glowing ball of the rising sun. His eyes widened, grabbing Dawn around the waist to pull her further into the shadows. “Shit, pet.” His head turned frantically, searching for cover.
Dawn scanned the area, skipping over the tower and the tiny crowd gathered around the bottom, before she found an open doorway connected to one of the abandoned warehouses. The door hung from its hinges, lock busted and hanging from the silver latch beside the door but the warehouse was dark with very tiny windows on the first level and most of those were boarded up. It would be a perfect place for Spike to spend the day.
With this in mind, Dawn dragged Spike towards the entrance, being very conscious of the fingers of light reaching out for them. She stepped over the body of one of Glory’s demons; Dawn was sure this was the one that had broken the door down. It had probably happened during Xander’s wrecking ball move. Her mind drew away from any other answer, such as Buffy’s rush to the tower.
Dawn pushed Spike through the doorway, turning to head towards the Scoobies but found herself dragged into the warehouse with Spike.
“Don’t go,” Spike begged as he held tightly to her wrist.
Dawn moved forward hesitantly, wrapping her arms around Spike’s waist as he head fit perfectly under his chin. It was odd, Spike always seemed so tall, larger than life but at the rate Dawn was growing, she realized she’d pass him up soon. She wished silently that she could always be this height, this perfect height where she fit perfectly into Spike’s arms. It was a comforting position but since she’d grown it was now comfortable, no knobby knees or elbows to get in the way. The sharp curves of her body had softened just enough and she’d lost the coltish grace that had had her putting all those sharp edges in just the wrong place.
“I have to go, Spike. I … things need to be taken care of and they need me,” Dawn tried to explain.
“I need you. What if there are still some of them little demon things out there? I can‘t protect you with the sun up.”
Dawn’s heart swelled with his concern but she knew the sooner things were taken care of the better prepared they’d be. The demons of the Hellmouth had to have felt the power last night … early this morning, and she was sure some of them would get up the courage to investigate tonight. They needed to be ready and to do that the Scoobies needed most, if not all, of the information Dawn now held. “It’s not over, Spike. Just because she’s–she’s … dead,” Dawn managed to force out, “doesn’t mean the Hellmouth is gone or that there aren’t still demons out there waiting for dark. Things need to be done before then and sadly, I think I’m the only one thinking of them.” Dawn knew this wasn’t the way she had been. She knew that she was, maybe not better, but certainly more mature since Castiel’s visit.
Besides, Buffy had always told her survival was everything. The first rule of being a Scooby was ‘don’t die.’ Her sister seemed to have failed in that rule but maybe, as much as Dawn wished otherwise, it didn’t apply in situations like this. Her grief was put to the back of her mind because it had to be. Dawn refused to waste Buffy’s sacrifice.
“Stay here until it’s dark enough to travel safely and then find us. There are some things that I need to tell everyone and I want you there,” Dawn said. She watched as Spike pulled himself together and she knew it was only for her sake. She could see the barely banked tears shimmering in his eyes. He’d break down once she was gone.
“Alright, pet. You go do what you need to do but you let me know if anything happens to you, to one hair on your head, I’m takin’ it out of their hides,” Spike warned.
Dawn nodded, giving Spike a sad smile. “Don’t spend all day moping. We’re going to need you at full strength.”
Spike jerked his head in the direction of the door, “Git.”
Dawn left, realizing as she did that Spike hadn’t promised he wouldn’t mope all day. She just hoped he would sleep because they really would need him at full strength. She made a mental note to have one of the others pick up some blood for him, human if they could manage that.
She exited the building with a deep breath, blinking as the bright morning sun hit her square in the eyes. She raised a hand to block it out, squinting as she made her way towards the bottom of the tower. The sounds of arguing assaulted Dawn’s ears as she got closer.
“We should call the police. We can’t just get rid of her, bury her in some unmarked hole!” That was Xander’s voice, raised above all the others.
“No one can know. If the demons find out there is no Slayer stationed on the Hellmouth …” And that was Giles. The edge to his voice let her know he was close to going Ripper on them. That, they didn’t need. Thankfully, he managed to pull himself together. “Still, the Council must be informed. No Slayer has ever been resuscitated before; it’s unprecedented and no one is sure if another will be called in her place. If not, something needs to be done.”
“You can’t really be thinking of getting Faith released, can you? She’s in jail for a reason,” Willow yelled, hand clasped tightly around Tara’s fingers.
“Right, just what we need, psycho Slayer to the rescue,” Xander said sarcastically.
Dawn, it seemed, was the only one who noticed that Giles had said nothing about having Faith released. She didn’t think the Council would go for that plan and it looked like Giles didn’t support it either. The Council would probably just have Faith killed in a breakout attempt or a prison riot. A new Slayer would be called and everything would be peachy keen for them. Dawn wondered if they’d even send the new Slayer here. Probably not. They’d let the world go to Hell just to spite the Scoobies. They were likely to wait until they were all dead and then send the Slayer in to clean up the mess.
“And that leads us right back to no one can know. There is no Slayer to come to our rescue if things go to shit. You think you can deal with the hordes of Hell without her? I certainly don’t! If they know, they will come. The Hellmouth has no protection, no one to call when we’re in over our heads and you want to let the world know that it’s open for business?”
Uh-oh, Ripper was in full control.
“Enough,” Dawn’s voice cut through the argument, drawing the attention of the Scoobies. “Giles is right. No one can know that --that the Slayer is dead.” Mature she might be feeling but it was easier to use Slayer instead of Buffy. “We take her home and we’ll figure out the rest once we’re there,” Dawn paused as she watched Willow and Xander stare at her with wide eyes, Giles polishing his glasses. She saw the shiver that went through Anya and the glazed look Tara was giving her. They had some idea of what was happening but it didn’t matter at this point. All that mattered was that the others were listening, even if it was in a dazed and astonished kind of way. “Xander, get the tarp behind you. Giles, help him get her covered,” Dawn ordered and was slightly amazed when they obeyed immediately.
She turned to Willow and Tara. “I need you to clean up. I’m sure you know a spell of some kind. There can’t be blood of any kind, no trace that we were ever here. Anya, if you could gather the demon bodies, put them in a pile.”
“What about the crazy humans?” Anya asked in her usual blunt way.
“Any living humans you find,” Dawn sighed sadly, “get them moving in different directions away from here. We can just hope they’ll find someone kind enough to get them to the hospital. Any bodies … pile them with the demons.”
“Dawnie,” Willow reprimanded, a tiny frown forming between her brows.
“We can’t help them, Willow. The fate of the Hellmouth rests on our shoulders right now. Say a prayer over them if you feel you have to but burn the pile. It’s the most we can give them,” Dawn said. The Sunnydale police sucked but this many bodies and all the crazies running around was likely to attract unwanted attention. Their names would get thrown into the mix and they didn’t need that kind of attention. She’d make them understand later but they needed to leave now.
Tara whispered in Willow’s ear, gently guiding her away. That just left Anya staring intently at her.
“You’re different,” Anya said with narrowed eyes. “Something happened up there.”
“Not exactly but close enough. Call it a warning of things to come,” Dawn said ominously.
“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Anya asked.
Dawn wasn’t sure why she always overlooked Anya. She guessed it had to do with the almost child-like approach she took to life but times like this reminded Dawn that Anya was over a thousand years old. She’d seen bad things, done many of them, and she was more intelligent and knowledgeable than they gave her credit for.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be bad,” Dawn confirmed.
Anya stared at Dawn for a moment longer before she nodded her head. With only that, the woman turned to the nearest body and began dragging it to another, piling it on top.
Dawn stood in the bright sun of a new day and her sister’s friends, those years older than her who listened to her orders. They scurried around following what she had told them. Dawn felt like they were looking for someone to take Buffy’s place, to be their leader and help them through this. Dawn wondered briefly what it would have been like if she hadn’t been changed by Castiel’s presence inside her. What would have happened to her as those around her got lost in their own grief? It was a sad thought.
Dawn wondered closer to where Giles and Xander were gently tucking the edges of the tarp around Buffy.
“We can’t carry her like this,” Xander said as he noticed Dawn’s approach. He straightened up, wiping his hands compulsively on his dirty jeans. “I saw some old plywood over by the crane. It might not hold the weight though; given enough time I could find something else,” he added hesitantly, knowing they really didn’t have enough time, “but I was thinking maybe Wills and Tara could strengthen it somehow or we could use more than one piece. Between me and Giles, we should be able to carry it.”
Dawn hadn't thought about that. With Spike out of the running until nightfall they didn’t have anyone supernaturally strong. How were they going to carry her to the Summer’s home? Even with the plywood, it would be an almost impossible task.
“We can get her to the Magic Box that way. We’ll take the back streets and alleys to be safe. My car is parked at the store. It’s not big enough for all of us but Xander and I can get things set up at home for you. The girls can walk you home,” Giles said, hand falling onto her shoulder like a lead weight. It squeezed once before he let it fall limply to his side.
Dawn really wasn’t looking forward to walking home for two reasons. The first, of course, was the sympathetic looks Willow had taken to shooting her as she and Tara wandered around the construction site casting spells at seemingly nothing. The other was not just the dress she had been forced to wear but the cuts the tattered dress was barely covering. The fabric was wet with blood already shed and though the bleeding had nearly stopped, walking pulled at the aching skin and aggravated the wounds that had been sliced into her stomach.
Still, she said nothing about it, pushing back her own pain in the face of the other’s grief. She would patch herself up once they got home. Dawn nodded at Giles’s suggestion.
“Go get the boards,” Dawn said. “I’ll talk to Willow and Tara about strengthening them.”
Xander took off in the direction of the crane with his head down and his hands stuffed into his pockets.
Dawn watched him walk away blankly. This was all easier to deal with when she was doing something or even just making lists of all the things that needed doing. She shook off the memories and emotions that surged through her as she heard Giles shift. She needed to get away. This was no time to be talking about everything that had happened. Dawn wouldn’t be able to function if she had to talk about it.
“Why don’t you go help Anya?” Dawn suggested, turning her back to Giles.
“Yes, yes, of–of course.”
Dawn heard him move away and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t over though. If not him, if would be Willow and that was who she had to talk to next. Her only hope was that Tara would act as a buffer.
“How’s the clean up going?” Dawn asked as she came into range of the two women.
“We --we think we’ve g-gotten everything,” Tara stuttered softly. Though her voice was hesitant, almost shy, her eyes were sharp and clear as they took in the construction site around them.
Dawn nodded. “Good because Xander’s going to need your help. Is there any spell you know of to strengthen some plywood? They want to make a kind of stretcher out of it but Xander’s not sure if it will hold the weight,” Dawn babbled.
Willow nibbled her lip, nose wrinkling as she thought. “There might be something. Tara?” She asked, glancing at the woman to her left.
“I know one that my m-mother taught me for sacred objects. Many rituals are done with w-wands or crystals that have been passed down through generations of witches so they put spells on them to keep them from b-breaking,” Tara explained.
“Can it be used on something so big? I mean, I don‘t see why not but magic isn’t exactly known for being linear in its thoughts. Not that magic has thoughts, right? If magic had thoughts wouldn’t it say, hey, that person is using me for badness? Or is magic …” Willow said, words getting faster as she ran out of air.
“Willow. Willow!” Dawn called, cutting off the red-haired witch’s babble.
“Sorry,” Willow apologized, breathing deeply. She stepped forward, concern on her face. “Dawnie.”
A dark expression settled over Dawn’s face and the pale hand reaching towards her wavered. Dawn saw the hurt swim through Willow’s eyes but she couldn‘t bring herself to care. This was Dawn’s sister and these people were just her sister’s friends. They didn’t know what she was feeling. She knew it was harsh to think such things but she didn’t want their comfort. At least, not now.
Tara seemed to sense Dawn’s reluctance because she wrapped an arm around Willow’s waist. “Come on, baby, let’s go see if we can help Xander.” Tara looked at Dawn with sad eyes but there was understanding buried there as she nodded, leading Willow away.
Dawn bit her lip harshly, swallowing back the tears that tried to rise. She thought of her sister in Heaven. She thought of Buffy looking down on her and she wanted Buffy to be proud of how she was handling this. She couldn’t break down; just for a little while, Dawn had to be the leader. She just had to be strong for a little longer, until Castiel kept his promise.
The shadows in front of her moved and she saw a flash of bleached white hair. It made her feel a little better to know Spike was watching over her. It didn’t matter right that second that if something were to happen Spike wouldn’t be able to help. He was there for her and that was what mattered.
Dawn smiled in thanks towards that shadow. She watched the hair bob, revealing Spike’s pale face as he nodded to her. That thin strip of paleness revealed was made even paler, sapped of color and turned a dull gray by the darkness. There was a flare of light, a tiny flame glowing in the dark before it was smothered. The tip of a newly lit cigarette glowed orange as Spike breathed deeply.
Dawn turned away from the familiar and comforting sight. Anya and Giles were just putting the last visible body on top of the pile while Willow and Tara were chanting over a thin piece of plywood, Xander watching on. Things were moving along quickly.
She was happy to see the plywood glow. Even happier when Xander picked the wood up, taking it over his knee as he tried to force it to break. The wood bent slightly but held strong no matter how Xander strained.
Satisfied, Xander set the reinforced wood on the ground, calling Giles over to help him settle the tarp wrapped Slayer tenderly onto it.
Dawn motioned Willow over. She knew the redhead wasn’t going to like the job she had for them. “I need you and Tara to take care of the bodies,” Dawn explained. “Burn the pile, contain it so you don’t draw attention.”
“Dawn,” Willow said, voice trailing off as she shook her head, eyes wide as they found the very human bodies within the pile.
“I told you, it needs done. If you can’t do it then everything we’ve done here has been for nothing. As soon as the sun sets, demons are going to be all over this place. They’ll have felt the power used, some may have even seen the things that came through. Do you really want to lead them straight to us when we have no Slayer?” Dawn demanded. She knew people dealt with grief in different ways. She went into shock, Giles hemmed and hawed as he switched between the stuttering Giles they knew and an enraged Ripper, while Xander was burying his grief by putting himself to work.
Why did Willow have to revert to her younger self --the one who still thought the world was black and white? It wasn’t like the woman had killed the humans in the pile and while Dawn understood her hesitance towards ignoring any wishes the dead might have had and forcefully cremating them, but were their wishes really more important than the safety of the world and all the innocent lives on said world?
Willow’s shoulders slumped as she gave in with a gusty sigh. “All right, all right; I know a spell that should be able to take care of it, but I’ll need Tara to help control it. It’s a new spell I’ve been working on, kind of like a tiny miniature sun. Great for dusting vamps but it will burn anything that gets too close. If we tuck it into the bottom of the pile and amplify the heat it should turn anything it touches to dust,” Willow rambled, focusing on the complexities of the spell instead of what she would be using the spell on. She wandered off to find Tara, thoughts wrapped up in a new spell.
They were making good time. If Dawn had to guess, she’d say it was barely coming up on 8:00 in the morning. Yet, with each passing minute, Dawn felt it was a minute too long. It was a weekday, meaning children were out waiting for their bus to school, men and woman were heading off to work if they weren’t already there. Housewives would be out doing early morning shopping and stay at home mothers might very well have younger children at the park already after dropping older siblings off at school.
Still, this was Sunnydale and you could always count on Sunnydale syndrome if nothing else. No matter what Dawn felt, it was something they were going to have to risk.
There was a flair of bright light to Dawn’s right which caused her to throw her arm up to shield her eyes. The acrid scent of smoke reached her nose before a gust of wind blew the scent away. Dawn guessed Willow and Tara had succeeded in their spell. It had gone perfectly, she noticed. There was nothing left of the pile but a few trails of ashes that the witches were clearing away quite efficiently.
“Why don’t you two go ahead. We’ll do a last check, make sure we got everything, and then we’ll catch up,” Dawn called to Xander and Giles.
Dawn sighed deeply as she watched them leave, makeshift stretcher carried between them. Anya dithered for a moment, eyes flicking frantically between Dawn and the retreating Xander before she scurried after him. Dawn rubbed her hand over her eyes. She was so very tired but there was so much left to do. Why did she have to be the grown-up in this situation?
Dawn shook her head, clearing the thoughts as she walked a slow path around the construction site, searching for anything they might have missed. Even one drop of Slayer blood would attract the more scent oriented demons. It was with this thought in mind that Dawn turned to Willow and Tara eyes wide.
“What about the scent trail we’re leaving behind? Some of the books talk about demons who can smell death and follow it like bloodhounds,” Dawn said, horror creeping into her voice. What if they could smell the difference and know the Slayer was gone? What would happen if they followed it to the house?
“I don’t think the scent would stick around that long, Dawnie,” Willow said.
Dawn panicked silently. This was no time for them to stop listening to her!
“B-better not to take c-chances though, right?” Tara asked Willow, eyes focused on Dawn.
“Yes, right,” Dawn scrambled, “can’t be too careful. Can you use that wind thing from before to get rid of the scent if we trail behind them?”
“It should work. I’d feel better if Spike could follow behind us to make sure it’s working but it’s the best we can do,” Willow said.
“Alright, let’s go,” Dawn said, pulling herself out of her slump as she walked with renewed purpose, following the path the two men and Anya had just walked. “Start now,” she commanded.
They walked the path at a brisk pace, hoping to get those they were following in their sights in-case they deviated from the path. The witches worked diligently on their spell, wind gusting around them as they walked, clearing the alleys and deserted streets of a scent no human could yet smell.
As they walked, Dawn was beyond thankful that she was in front; each purposeful step she took pulled and stretched the blood crusted skin of her stomach. The cuts themselves weren’t exactly deep but they had been cut in such a way as to produce the most blood–far larger than paper cuts but just as annoyingly painful. Dawn bit her lip with each step, breathing carefully as she kept each step perfectly measured. No need to alert the witches. She was sure they’d make her stop and rest. If that happened, not only would they not catch up, meaning the scent trail would never be removed but worst of all, showing pain would bring up protective instincts that were buried under grief. It would make them realize that Dawn was younger, the ‘baby’ of the group, and then they’d never listen to her. The show and tell session later would be tainted because they’d look at her with condescending looks while they humored her. They certainly wouldn’t take the threats to come seriously and that was something that could mean disaster.
It was with this in mind that she picked up her pace, pushing any pain she was feeling to the dark depths of her mind and hurried the witches on the path to the Magic Box. The sooner she got them there, the sooner she could take care of her wounds and rest before the chaos started.
End Chapter Three
Sorry it's not longer but I lost the thread of this chapter part way through. I didn't want to push the ideas and risk sending them into hiding. Hopefully the rest of it will come soon.