It wasn't that we didn't know. It was that we couldn't care. When a vampire is trying to suck you dry, does it matter that he's protected by the same laws as everybody else? I don't think so.
(Will contain Canon parings (and morings) for BTVS, Anita Blake and Champions Universe 4th and 5th editions. Thus this may contain Het, Slash and Femslash. Because of how adult and dark Anita Blake can get it will be given a F18 rating, with possible change to F21)
Disclaimer: The following story is meant as entertainment. The Characters and Universes involved belong to Joss Whedon/ Mutant Enemy, Cryptic/DOJ (though I am using the Champions Universe it will be elements from the 4th and 5th Edition Universes and I'm not sure who owns those exactly) and Laurel K Hamilton. I do own the story idea and the intersecting Character Dawn Summers has become. No copy-write infringement is intended, please do not sue me.
Please Note: This story takes place in an amalgamation of BTVS, DOJ/ Cryptic's Champions Universe and the Anita Blake Books. Things taken for granted will not always hold sway in this Universe. I will try and make any changes to environment, law and pop culture as realistic as possible with the confines of the combined genres. For instance, because the Champions Universe has ways of holding super powerful individuals in jail, not all Murder done with magic or by supernatural creature will automatically be a death sentence. Each issue of a Death Warrant will be on an even more stringent case by case basis, taking into account the equipment and resources of the area's law enforcement. Other changes will come up in the course of the story as part of the narrative.
As well, some characters will notice that the world around them has changed, though the bulk of the populace will not, including some of the "main" characters.
I'm Canadian and therefore so is my spelling.
I could hear her words echoing in my ears as I turned to watch her jump. If that had been water beneath her, she might have gotten a perfect score for that swan dive. Instead she got a measure of peace. I staggered after her, in what was either the smartest or stupidest thing I've ever done. The world was going crazy, the vortex was ripping apart the dimensional barriers, my blood was flowing freely into my clothing and the tower was shuddering like it was about to come down. The sky and ground was filled with chaos as Witchcraft and the rest of the Champions battled with the things that had slipped through, The Ultimates pitching in when they realized they were helping a "Crazy Chick" End The World! I hit the end of the platform and I watched her move through the vortex, watching her diving body as she saved the world, again. My sister, the superhero. Then I slipped.
It wasn't something I could have prevented really, short of not going near the platform's edge. Though with that platform there was a lot of edge, as both Doc and Spike found out. As I pitched foreword, the weight of the robes helping in the easy movement between standing and OMG I'm going to Die!, I hit the edge of the closing vortex and woke up. I saw the Professor's hazy wavering form in the rebirth chamber, I could feel his anger at the loss of his grandchildren and the doom of his plan to live again. The old hideout shuddered around us, the rip in time and space leading to the limbo in which he found himself was closing and I was dying. If I could take away any chance of him coming back, I would gladly die right here and now. Fate has other plans.
The chamber shudders again and then there is a bright flash of light and I can hear some one screaming. Oh wait, that's me. My body feels like it's being dipped in acid one cell at a time, backwards, then everything is kind of hazy and white. My memory fades quickly, moving backwards towards my birth. The fight with the Professor's Grandchildren, the finding of the hideout, the realization that it wasn't the Professor, the gathering of old allies. It starts to move faster, the tracking down of Dekard's grandson, the meeting with old friends in the intelligence community, the word of Dekard's death, the years I spent just being the quiet woman next door, the near deaths in the Middle East and Asia.
The Korean war, retirement, The end of the War and the Death of the Professor, acting as one of the "mystery men" in California during the war, my training by what would become the OSS, the stint in Ottawa trying to get people to take me seriously, talking with my parents about my plans, Hitler coming to power, training with Sifu that one last time, the depression, meeting Sifu for the first time, realizing that I wasn't aging like everybody else, light, warmth, soothing thoughts.
It was done, I was new again. The old me was some where else.
I remember her voice saying my name for the first time. Mom and Hank agreeing that Dawn is a beautiful name. Opening my eyes more and trying to move around, like it was something I had just now remembered I had forgotten. Talking, walking, idolizing my older sister. Growing up in LA and then Sunnydale. Finding out my sister was the slayer and being sworn to secrecy. Getting in trouble when mom found out I knew before she did. Trying to freak mom and Buffy out with how cool I thought Spike was. Eventually becoming friends with Spike, for his own merits, such as they are. Being a total emo brat. Not real... how little I knew.
Tara getting brain sucked by Glory, being found and captured by Glory. Sliced open by Doc, broken free by Buffy, watching her dive off the tower and then...
I was hanging, my reflexes kicking in and grabbing a strut. My blood was stopping, the wounds on my body closing, my head a total mess of conflicting images and memories. I ripped the rest of the robe off me, not remembering if I was naked underneath, dropping it so I could not be dragged down by the weight of it. I got a better grip and started to climb down, but the vortex had other ideas, slamming me with electrical energy, tearing a scream from my throat as more crap hit me. I let go before I could be blown off and I dropped to the rapidly approaching ground, passing through more of the vortex that had gotten away from the main rift. More images hit me and then I was on the ground, blackness inviting me to tea.
I was sitting in the tree again. It always comes back to that tree. I looked at myself carefully. I was wearing jeans and my favorite sweater, sneakers. My hands looked like I was a teenager, my face felt smooth, everything in it's place. I was in my teens physically, which meant I was 30 ish. I looked across the snowy field to the house, I cold see smoke from the chimney rising and drifting and there was a figure walking towards me.
He moved at his normal pace, which meant unless you watched carefully he looked like he was teleporting at certain points in his step. My Sifu stopped at the base of the tree and looked up at me. His hair was greying, his eyes an obsidian colour. He wore clothes that people would find ordinary for the time. He was the most dangerous man I knew.
"Glad to see you are finally awake." He smiled at me and I smiled back. I couldn't help it, his was one of the most infectious engaging smiles ever. I hopped out of the tree and gave him a hug. Not exactly proper Master/Student behaviour, but I didn't care.
"Sort of awake." I corrected, gesturing around me after I let him go. "I haven't been here like this in years."
He nodded and gestured for me to walk with him. We set off towards the house. It would be empty, but well kept. If I was here long enough to enter, the house would feel like the family had just left for a short trip, perhaps to market, and would be back soon.
"Things are going to change when you return to the waking world."
"I know." I was ME again, with all that entailed.
"Try not to be too hard on them, they've just lost family too."
I nodded. He was right. I was sooo... I was angry. I was angry at the universe. Who did this to me and why? Why did I regress in age? Why and how was I some sort of mystical Key that could tear down dimensions?
"You're going to need to let that anger out you know. If you don't, bad things will happen."
"I know. I'll deal with it." We hit the steps of the house and I had my hand on the door nob. I stopped and looked back at him. He smiled at me, he wasn't coming inside. "I miss you."
I opened the door and there was a bright light.
I went from not awake to awake slowly, almost like I was waking up from a naturally deep sleep rather than unconsciousness due to impact with the ground. I could hear people talking around me, but in that twilight I couldn't make out what they were saying. I knew who was talking though: Giles, all together and English, Willow, weepy and babbley, Tara, upset but soothing, talking about vampires of all things. I could hear better as I awoke and their words invoked images and words in my head. Vampires were legal citizens. Addison vs Clarke and all the ramifications that came with that. Two types of vampires, which the council, and many other people, had never been able to explain. Taking an introductory course on preternatural biology in school because we wanted to see if the Slayer was ever mentioned. She wasn't, but the course did talk about the speculation about paranormals, human beings who had amazing abilities. We found it interesting that the world knew about vampires, were creatures, the Fae and other supernatural, sorry, preternatural, beings and animals but they had a block about demons and what they were.
Strange and yet not. Even when people believed in the things that go bump in the night, there was only so much they wanted to believe.
Giles, Willow and Tara weren't talking in the same room I was in. They were sounded like they were downstairs. The room I was in didn't smell like a hospital, it smelt like my room. I was home with family, not under the care of medical professionals. Thank the gods for that. I opened my eyes slowly, getting used to the light. My body felt great, better than it what a 15 year old should feel like probably, but I didn't move it. I wanted to do as much adjustment as possible before I got up, getting used to being me again would hopefully not take long.
As I stopped concentrating on the conversation downstairs I could hear some one breathing slowly and deeply in the room I was in. I finished opening my eyes and could see Xander sitting in a chair asleep. I smiled at him. My first real crush... no not my first real crush, Dawn Summer's first real crush. That thought snapped me awake. I was Dawn Summers, except for the fact I wasn't. Gods Damn it. My mother was dead again, my sister was dead saving the world. I was a hundred year old woman in the body of a 15 year old. OMG I was going to age slowly again! This was soooo unfair!
I even sounded like I was 15 in my head.
Where did all this info come from? All the crap about legal vampires and people knowing about the preternatural right out in the open. The world wasn't like this when I was my normal self. What the hell happened. Did the vortex some how cause this?
Laying in bed wouldn't get me any answers. I slowly and quietly got up, grabbing my robe from my desk chair I left the room, doing my best to leave Xander asleep. I wondered where Anya was. Probably at the Magic Box, if we were trying to make things look as normal as possible. She would be about the only one able to pull off being normal when Buffy had just died. It wasn't that Anya didn't care about Buffy, or the way the others were feeling, it was that she was over a thousand years old and could do what needed to be done.
I made my way to the bathroom and then downstairs. I wasn't sure how long I had been unconscious, but I was glad I didn't need cleaning up. That would have been embarrassing. I hadn't wet the bed since I was 3 and didn't want to start again now.
Downstairs the three were in the living room, Giles was sitting on the couch and Willow and Tara were sitting around... Buffy? I stopped and looked again. The Buffybot, Spike's little... toy, was laying on the ground, mostly assembled. Willow was tinkering with it's insides as Tara handed her tools and parts. They hadn't noticed me yet, still talking about the changes to the world. I sat and watched them work on the sexbot, my head wrapping around it.
"You're going to use Buffybot to convince people she's still alive." It came out of my mouth more evenly that I thought it would. I was so angry, but I wasn't angry at them. They were my family and I loved them. I hoped they remembered that when I was acting like a total bitch later. I hoped I remembered it.
"Omygoddessyourawake!" Willow was up off the floor in a shot, nearly leaving a sonic boom in her wake. She grabbed me and held me tight, tears soaking into my robe. I hugged her back, my own tears flowing.
"Sweetie?" Tara was there and I held out and arm and pulled her into the hug. I felt her tears as well, moving my head from one shoulder to the other as we reassured ourselves and each other that we were alive. I could feel Giles over Tara's shoulder, waiting for his turn. I gave Willow and Tara a kiss on the cheek and broke from their embrace, moving to Giles. I hugged him fiercely, still crying. The part of me that had just been Dawn Summers had just lost her sister. I hugged Giles and he hugged me back, stroking my hair.
I heard the movement on the stairs and the sound of Xander's voice.
"Willow, Giles, Tara, Dawn is gone..." He trailed off as he came into the living room. I let Giles go and moved quickly to him, hugging him tightly as well. He cried a bit as well, manly tears as he would say and then I let him go.
I looked at all of them. They were my family and I loved them. They were my keepers and I didn't hate them, but they wouldn't understand for a long time.
"I'm right though, aren't I. You are going to use the Buffybot to make sure people think that she didn't die."
"Sweetie it's not what you think..." Tara stopped as I held up my hand.
"It's exactly what I think. If Buffy is dead I go to the kind protection of the government and Sunnydale goes to Hell." I looked each of them in turn. "It's okay. No it's not okay. It's not okay that she's dead. It's not okay we're going to have to go on like it never happened and it's not okay that doing this is going to kill each of us a little."
I slumped down on the couch. Tara sat down beside me and pulled me into a cuddle. I wrapped my arms around her and just sat.
"How long have I been unconscious?"
"Three days. If you had been unconscious tomorrow we were going to take you to the hospital." I could feel Tara's love and comfort pour into me.
"This is gonna be a dumb question, but are you okay Dawn?" Xander's hand was on my shoulder.
I gave him that 'Are you kidding' look I got from Mom. Joyce. Mom. He gave that half sided smile that told me he knew what he had asked, but did I. I wasn't okay. He knew I wasn't okay. None of us were okay. The question wasn't expecting an answer that was PC. It was expecting an outpouring of emotion. I shook my head and broke down again, leaning into Tara.
She stroked my hair and murmured, then Willow was in our laps hugging us, Xander on my other side again crying his manly tears. Out of all of us Tara and Anya were furthest from Buffy. Tara knew Buffy, could count on Buffy and Buffy could count on her. They weren't close like Willow and Xander were though. So out of all of us she would be the one to make sure things got done. Over the next few days things would need to be done.
There was a cough and I looked over at Witchcraft, standing at the living room entrance. "I'm afraid it isn't going to be that easy."
We all looked around at each other and then back at her. My eyes went wide as I realized what she was saying.
"If it had just been me here, if Glory hadn't hired the Ultimates to run interference, if the rest of the Champions hadn't come swooping in to save the day, then convincing people Buffy was still alive would be relatively easy." She let that sink in before she continued. "I would have no problem declaring this a Mystic Event and going along with convincing everybody that the Slayer was still around. Unfortunately that isn't the case at all."
She was right, the entrance of the rest of the Champions into our lives made convincing people Buffy was alive that much harder. They all saw her die. When Ironclad had come crashing into the gas station, drawing Glory into hand to hand with him it tore up the scenery for miles around. The Ultimates snatching me from there and delivering me to Glory was the catalyst for Defender and Nighthawk hunting me down at the Tower site. It was only the fact there were too many Ultimates on site that prevented them from grabbing me from Ben, before he switched back to Glory that one last time. Sapphire's dropping off Buffy was the fact she got up there so quickly.
"Ironclad is talking about giving your sister a heroes funeral. Defender and Sapphire are already on the phone to various people about what happened here. I just received a... message from the Trismegistus Council on the fact they noticed the events today and were wondering when I would be making a full report. Nighthawk is out there right now making sure that the various things that go bump are being bumped back if need be." As she talked she walked into the room, gesturing. "Soon competent government officials are going to be receiving information and reports. When that happens there is going to Federal Investigators here. FBI, probably PRIMUS. UNTIL might try and get in on the act."
My bad mood got worse.
"I'm going to get grabbed by the State and fostered out." Tears started to slowly work their way down my face again. I would not be torn away from my family. Not unless I did the tearing myself.
"We'll do our best to make sure that doesn't happen." Witchcraft looked so sincere. She hugged me tight and I knew she'd do her best. I believed that, but I was going to hedge my bets just in case. There were a few favours I could call in. I'd see how well they'd pan out. Frankly I wasn't that sure that I'd be able to stay with my family. If I couldn't, then I'd not waste time sitting around some house full of people who had no clue. Especially in Sunnydale.
As always, the future is as the future is, my mother would say. Not Joyce, my birth mother. She knew far too much for other peoples comfort sometimes. I wonder what she would have said about this situation.