Time Changes Everything | Ten MinutesAuthor:
Dawn Summers, Michael, Kyle, Bob, PercyTable:
PG-13 (mainly for language)Warnings:
Religious IntrospectionWord Count:Disclaimer:
This is for entertainment value only. All characters within this piece of fiction belong to their respective creators and production companies. No profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.Summary: Dawn Summers noticed that time always seemed to slow down during the most unusual circumstances.Notes:
I’d like to thank all of my lovely beta readers and my beta editors. You guys rock socks off puppets! LOL This is part of a prompt from the 10iloveyou community on Livejournal. I chose the table ‘Time’ and will be basing this series off those time increments.Author’s Notes:
I have taken dialogue and scene settings directly from the movie ‘Legion’ for this chapter. I may do the same for following chapters, but I will also disclaim it.Story Navigation:SECONDS
| MINUTES | HOURS | DAYS | WEEKS | MONTHS | YEARS | ALWAYS | NEVER
Dawn stood on the roof of the diner, staring out over the darkened Arizona desert. The stars stood out in stark contrast against the midnight black sky, brighter than she had ever seen before. The night was dry but cooler than it had been that afternoon and she shivered as a slight breeze caused goose bumps and she pulled her sweater tighter around her. Shifting her weight, she frowned as the shoulder strap of the MP5 slipped slightly and rested uncomfortably against her neck. Readjusting it, she allowed her gaze to drift over to the four men who were up on the roof with her.
The diner owner, Bob, looked tired. The fear made him alert, however. His hands were tight on his weapon, eyes wide and constantly scanning the area for any additional threats. What made her nervous, however, was the lack of dependability that she sensed from him. He could be a danger to their safety; she’d need to keep a close watch on him.
The cook, Percy, was up there as well. Dawn’s suspicions had been confirmed when it was made common knowledge that he was former military; Marines to be exact. He had lost his hand pushing a battle buddy out of the way of a grenade. Dawn had a lot of respect for that. She was fairly certain that Percy would do what was needed when the time came. He had a solid, dependable feel to him that reminded her of Giles.
The other black guy, Kyle, she had some reservations about. It was for entirely different reasons than the ones she had about Bob. She could tell by the way that he had handled his weapon earlier that he was not used to high stress situations where split second decisions were the deciding factors between the group surviving or dying. There was a chance he would be an asset in this nightmare of a situation they found themselves in; he didn’t know what to expect and so he’d be more alert and fear always made you respond quicker. On the other hand, he was completely untested in a combat setting and that made Dawn decidedly uncomfortable. She had learned that knowing your comrades’ strengths and weaknesses made the group as a whole a better fighting unit. She had no idea what any of these people could do.
Except for one. That one, she had a pretty good idea about.
Dawn let her gaze rest on the last member of their little squad and quickly looked away when she saw that he was watching her with an indiscernible look in his eyes. Michael. Now there was a surprise. The others hadn’t made the connection yet, but she had a pretty good idea that he was The Michael. Archangel, Leader of His Legions… He was impressive and imposing and Dawn knew that if she were honest with herself, she’d admit he was really hot. However, since this was an angel and she did believe in Heaven and all of that, she really didn’t want to admit to any of those thoughts.
The others were wary of him. Audrey had whispered when Michael had first walked through the door that he was probably there to kill them, too. Dawn had been thrown off of her game a little, since it’s not every day that one if confronted with an Archangel and she had almost passed out from the wave of ‘different-ness’ that rolled off of him. Once she was able to get herself gathered together, Dawn had reassured the girl that if he had wanted them dead, she was pretty sure they would have already been gone. It didn’t change the fact that she still didn’t know what to expect at all and still had no real idea as to what was going on.
Sighing, she moved closer to the group. Michael nodded to her and she gave a small twitch of the lips to acknowledge it. Waving her hand to encompass the group, she gave voice to the question what everyone was wondering.
“What in the hell is going on here exactly, Michael?” she demanded.
“They want Charlie dead.” He said flatly.
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that really clears it all up. Thanks.” Sighing, she looked down at her feet and then looked back up at Michael. “I get that part, ok? What I don’t get is why
“That’s not important right now.” He looked out over the expanse of land surrounding them, narrowing his eyes. “Right now, we need to keep her safe.”
Dawn heaved a deep sigh. She got it; she wasn’t going to get anywhere with him right now. However, she had to get in a parting shot anyways. She wouldn’t be Dawn if she didn’t. “For the record, the whole ‘lack of details’ thing you have going on? – it really annoys the living crap out of me.” Sticking her nose up in the air, she turned and started to stalk off just to let him know that she was upset with him when a thought occurred to her.
Whirling around, she asked, “If she’s so important… if Charlie is so vital and needs to be protected, doesn’t she need someone down there with her? To be kept safe?”
“She has Jeep down there with her.” Percy said, breaking his silence first the first time since they had come up on the roof.
Dawn couldn’t contain the snort, but she was able to keep it quieter than it would have been. “He can’t pull the trigger…” looking over at Bob, she flushed a little, “no offense, Bob.” Bob waved her off, nodding. “He couldn’t pull the trigger when he needed to, he froze. That’s something that you can’t just ignore.”
Bob frowned, a faintly disappointed look on his face. He nodded and cleared his throat. “She’s right.” He shrugged when Percy shot him a shocked look. “Jeep is Jeep; nothin’s gonna change that. He’s safe… he’s not a hero.”
“I think I should go down there.” Dawn said, turning towards the roof access. “I think that would be best.”
The one word order caused everyone to stop and immediately turn to the source. Michael stood there, fierce and in charge. Dawn glared at him; she was so not impressed.
Kyle finally broke the deafening silence and asked the question that all three of the men were wondering. “Why not?”
“We’re going to need her up here.” Michael said, clearly not intending to give any additional reasons.
“She’s just a kid!” Bob protested. Dawn opened her mouth to argue but snapped it shut at a look from Michael.
“She’s an asset.” Michael responded. “She’s more experienced than any of you. We’re going to need her.” Finished, he turned and walked over to the other side of the large ‘Paradise Falls’ neon light on top of the diner and began stashing weapons where they could be easily reached. He was obviously finished with his brief forthcomingness episode.
Dawn figured she’d better just give in gracefully. He wasn’t going to let her off the roof; that much had been made clear. It would be better to just accept it and start figuring out the weaknesses that could be exploited by the enemy; not that she was clear as to who the enemy was exactly. She did know, however, that there were many ways that the enemy could break through.
These people here, they weren’t Slayers and Watchers. They hadn’t been trained as warriors expected to fight to the death. They had no clue what they were dealing with or how to fight it. She knew she was good in combat. Buffy, Faith and Xander had made sure that if she went down; she would take as many of the enemy down with her as she could. This situation was different though. This time, she was expected to help lead these people in the battle she knew was coming. Michael had information she needed. Forewarned was forearmed as Giles was always saying.
Mind made up, Dawn marched over to where Michael was placing the last of his weapons and stationed herself directly in front of him, hands on her hips. He looked at her from where he had been kneeling down on the rooftop and sighed before standing up. His gaze flicked over her stance, her attitude and raised an eyebrow in question.
“So…” she started, “what aren’t you telling them, Michael?” She met his gaze head-on, not backing down an inch. “Is there something you’re not telling them?”
Michael glanced a way for a moment before looking back at her with a gaze that was so intense, Dawn had to fight not to take a step backwards. “No.”
She weighed his answer for a moment. “I don’t believe you.” She watched his lips twitch into a slight smirk and for some reason that irritated her to the point of wanting to hit him. Nevertheless, she made herself focus. “This isn’t my first time to the dance, you know? I can’t help them if I don’t have the whole story.”
Michael studied her for a long moment and then nodded. “You’re right, of course.” He looked out towards the mountains, frowning. “The child is what’s important.” He looked back at Dawn. “They will kill Charlie to prevent him from being born.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes, thinking over what he had said. “No. There’s more to this.” Things weren’t adding up. “What’s your part in all of this, Michael?”
He looked down at his feet and heaved a deep sigh. At that moment, she knew. She knew why he was there.
“Oh Goddess!” she breathed out, shock washing through her and leaving her breathless. She started mentally berating herself for not catching it sooner. “It’s you! You were the one He sent to kill her!” She backed away, hand tightening on the rifle still slung over her shoulder. “He sent you
to do the job, didn’t He?”
Michael nodded; hands held up and out to show no threat, a look of sadness clouding his eyes. “Yes, but I disobeyed.” He met her eyes with a pleading look. “I couldn’t do it. He
may have lost faith in them, but I haven’t.”
Dawn watched him closely, debating within herself about he had told her. Not entirely sure why she should, she believed him, that he was telling her the truth. She then did a double take when she realized what he had said. Them. He had said ‘them’; not you, but ‘them’.
She saw that Michael was watching the emotions play across her face and quickly looked away. She was uncomfortable, but she was at a loss as to what she should do. Before when she was in this position, she was in the process of being kidnapped or having rituals performed on her.
“Relax, Dawn.” Michael soothed. “For once, you’re not the important one.”
Unsure if she should be relieved or insulted, Dawn asked, “You know who I am?”
Michael nodded. “Yes.”
Dawn waited for more of an acknowledgement, but quickly realized she wasn’t going to get one. “You know what I am?”
“Yes, Dawn.” He sighed. “Through the many parallels, you are one of the few that have maintained your form.” He looked at her with a sudden intensity in his gaze. “I will always know you.”
Dawn frowned at the statement and was about to ask what he meant when she saw him suddenly tense and focus his gaze out onto the horizon. Turning, she searched the darkened vastness for what had him on such concentrated alert. Her frown deepened as she couldn’t detect anything out of the ordinary and opened her mouth to ask what was wrong when she heard something odd.
Breaking the still silence of the desert night was a distinct jingle Dawn had long since come to the conclusion was a constant in the universe. It was the music that caused children to laugh in glee and parents to go crazy. However, she was having some issues with understanding why there was an ice cream truck approaching.
Rushing over to the edge of the roof where the other men were standing and with Michael close on her heels, Dawn peered out and her jaw dropped. She hadn’t been mistaken; speeding towards them was an ice cream truck. Its lights were blinking and she could hear the music blaring its obscene icy happiness.
“You have got to be fuckin’ kidding me!” Kyle breathed in disbelief.
Dawn shook her head. “Don’t be fooled.” She cautioned.
Bob glanced at her and then shifted his focus back to the truck that was almost upon them. “C’mon! It’s the ice cream man… How scary can he be?”
Dawn snorted. “You’d be surprised.”
“Get ready.” Michael interrupted.
He picked up the MP5 and the others followed suit, Dawn unslinging hers and allowing her body to fall into a shooting stance. She listened as Michael began instructing the others in the use of their weapons.
“Alright. There's a safety switch on the side of your gun. Push it all the way down. Two clicks.” The men did as they were told and then stood still, awaiting further instructions. Michael nodded in approval and then continued, “Now when this starts, you hold on tight, you hear me? If you don't, you're going to blow your hand off. Understand?”
They all turned and looked at Percy for a moment.
“What the fuck you lookin’ at me for?” Percy demanded, indignant.
Dawn shrugged and then looked back at the truck that was now coming to a stop in front of the diner. “I’m just sayin’ is all…”
“Well, keep your sayin’ to yourself, goddammit.” He huffed as he shot her a look she caught from the corner of her eye and she let out a chuckle. Bracing the assault rifle against her shoulder, the comforting weight of it held firmly against her, she prepared for what was going to emerge from the vehicle. She knew it wasn’t going to be good and she was ready and in full combat mode.
The creature crawled out from the truck, its limbs unnaturally long and Dawn knew right away that it wasn’t human. Not hesitating for a second, she opened fire, a spray of spent shells falling at her feet. She could hear Bob and Percy screaming at her to stop, but the creature suddenly changed and showed its true form. Its limbs lengthened further, the face elongating just before it dropped to all fours and began racing towards the building.
Dawn, still firing in an attempt to kill the abomination that was speeding their direction, heard Michael open fire as well. This seemed to shake the others out of their immobility and they began firing their weapons, a hail of gunfire raining down upon the creature. She could see it taking shots to the main body, yet still it galloped towards them. Resting her cheek against the high-powered rifle, Dawn relaxed her body and slowed her breathing. Taking quick and careful aim, she pulled the trigger and allowed her body to rock back, absorbing the recoil from the round leaving the barrel of the weapon. She watched in satisfaction as the being fell back, dead, a bullet wound in the center of its forehead. Xander would have been beside himself with pride.
Sucking in a breath, her shoulder aching from the unfamiliar use of an explosive shell loaded firearm, Dawn lowered the MP5 and glanced around. Making sure that her comrades in arms were focused and alert, she allowed herself a moment of rest and relaxed her stance. She could see that Bob was shaking, probably due to stress and shock. Percy’s eyes had a distant look in them; glancing at his dog tags once again, she surmised that he was most likely lost in ghostly memories. She shifted her gaze to Kyle and was startled to see that while obviously shaken and confused, he was in the process of already reloading his weapon. Chambering a round into the barrel of the handgun, he looked up and caught Dawn’s nod of approval and reassuring him with a smile. She then turned her attention to the expanse of desert surrounding them and what she saw made her tense in dismay.
Looking down the span of road that crossed in front of Paradise Falls, all lanes crowded from being used, were the headlights of hundreds of cars bearing down on them.
“Dammit!” Dawn spat out. “It totally reconned us!”
Michael nodded in agreement, his face set in stony silence as he observed the scene unfolding before them. Bringing up his rifle he yelled out as he opened up on the cars and trucks, “Don’t let them get near the windows!”
Sprays of bullets began breaking the stillness of the night as they opened fire on the creatures rushing toward them. Shell casings pouring down around their feet, the group on the roof fought for their lives. Where Bob, Percy and Kyle were essentially panic firing into the crowd and getting lucky shots in here and there, Dawn and Michael were methodically and efficiently picking their targets. Michael was a soldier, born and bred for the fight; Dawn had the blood of generations of Slayers running through her veins and had spent the better part of a decade fighting the denizens of evil. They were weapons of death and they used this knowledge against the hordes of creatures racing toward them.
Firing off the last round of ammunition from her rifle, Dawn threw it to the ground and caught the pistol that Michael tossed to her. Aiming and firing, she lost herself in the haze of battle. Everything faded out of focus as she concentrated on the deadly rhythm of firing, dropping the clip, slamming a new one in and then repeating the process over and over. She was brought out of her trance when she saw that several of the creatures had broken through the barrage of gunfire and were closing in on the building. Yelling to be heard over the continuous volley of shots, Dawn managed to get Michael’s attention.
“They’re going for the windows!” She yelled. “I’ve gotta get down there!”
Michael signaled that he heard her while he was racing to where he had placed the grenade launcher. “Don’t let them in!” he ordered.
Dawn threw a thumbs up to indicate her acknowledgement of the instruction and practically threw herself down the roof access and onto the main floor of the diner. Racing through the storage area and dodging the shelving units in the kitchen, she ran to the eating area. Breathing hard, she slammed a fresh clip into the pistol and crashed through the swinging doors.
As she hurtled into the room, she realized she was already too late. The windows had been broken through and the angels were scrambling for Charlie. Thankfully, Dawn saw the pregnant girl was safely out of reach, the handgun that Michael had given her out and ready to fire. The creatures, seeing that they couldn’t reach Charlie, settled instead for Howard and started pulling him through the broken glass. Leaping over the upturned tables and chairs, Dawn opened fire on the angels as she raced towards them.
Fear and anger lanced through her when she saw Charlie suddenly jump forward and try to help drag Howard back in. Spying an opportunity, one of the angels released their hold on the man and grabbed Charlie’s arm. The girl screamed as she was pulled through the window.
“Jeep!” Dawn screamed. “Get Charlie! Don’t let them pull her out of the diner!”
Jeep immediately leapt forward and grabbed one of Charlie’s arms in a bruising grip. Bracing himself, he yanked her back, falling into a deadly game of tug of war. Charlie fought like a wildcat, screaming, scratching and punching in an attempt to get away from the angel that was still trying to haul her through the window. Dawn, reaching the table where the battle was taking place, jumped up onto the table and slid across, using her feet against the windowsill to stop herself. Aiming the pistol directly at the creature’s head, she pulled the trigger only to hear the empty click of a misfire.
Pale and sweating, she threw the weapon to the side and stood up on the table. Raising her foot and thanking the gods that she had decided to wear her combat boots; Dawn slammed her foot down onto the arm trying to pull Charlie out of the building. Raising her foot again and again, Dawn stomped on the arm with all of the force she could muster, but the hand would not release the girl. She could hear the bones breaking with sickening crunches, but the grip never loosened. She growled, baring her teeth as her foot changed directions and smashed the steel toe into the creature’s temple. The crunch of a fracturing skull sounded and it let go, half of its skull caved in, but another had gripped Charlie tight and continued to pull on her. This one had a longer reach and Dawn would have to extend her leg through the window frame, limiting the force of her blows and exposing her to the other creatures crowding the opening to get their hands on Charlie.
Beginning to run out of options, Dawn breathed a sigh of relief when Michael appeared beside her. She watched as he dispatched the angel with cold efficiency. Turning her attention back to the window, she observed Howard being dragged out from the limited protection of the diner with a sense of dispassionate regret. The grief would come, she knew, but it had been endlessly drilled into her that one always dealt with the bigger picture first; safety was the utmost concern. The casualties could be mourned later.
Turning from the scene of grief that was unfolding before them, Dawn walked over to her dicarded pistol and squatted down to pick it up. Realizing that she was in the state of aftershock as the adrenaline of battle wore off, she allowed herself to ride the wave of dizziness until the swirling state of emotions calmed. She had learned that focusing on something solid always helped her get through the after-battle nerves more quickly. Therefore, she pulled back the slide of the pistol and began inspecting the chamber to determine what caused the misfire. She couldn’t afford another incident like this; she had been lucky this time. Checking her watch, she was surprised that only ten minutes had passed. Everyone in the room had experienced something that had changed their lives forever and it had all happened in ten minutes...
Taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart and jangled nerves, Dawn glanced around the diner to take stock of the situation. Jeep was with Charlie, whispering to her urgently and gesturing towards the broken window she had almost been dragged through. Charlie was shaking and Dawn could see that fearful shock was setting into the girl. This was a good thing; the fear would keep her aware of the dangers.
Allowing her gaze to continue around the room, she focused on Audrey and watched her move around her mother. Almost as if she felt dawn’s gaze, the young woman tensed and then looked up into her eyes warily. Frowning, Dawn couldn’t shake a sudden wash of Déjà vu. There was something familiar about the girl, something that shouldn’t be. And if Audrey was what Dawn had begun to suspect, they’d just fallen into a whole new level of suck.
Standing up, Dawn caught Michael’s attention and motioned that she was going to the back, pointing to the pistol in her hand to indicate that she needed to reload and restock on the ammunition. Michael nodded in attention, his face closed and an indecipherable look in his eyes. Confused, Dawn turned towards the back of the building and walked away from the churning emotions within the area. She didn’t have time to deal with it; she knew more was coming.
“Where are you going?” Bob demanded.
Dawn looked at him for a long moment, debating the various answers running through her mind and settled on the least offensive. “I’m going to check on our supplies.”
Bob narrowed his eyes, confused. “Why? It’s done. She’s fine.”
Dawn snorted. Shaking her head, she responded, “No, Bob. This was just a test, a test of our strengths…” She sighed. “It’s only going to get worse from here.”
Bob frowned. “What are you talkin’ about?”
Dawn glanced back at the small group, grieving and in shock. She looked back at Bob after a moment and gave a sad smile. “Bob… the next step of any good general is simple; next you test your enemy’s weaknesses.”
And with that statement ringing in the air between them, Dawn pushed past the man and headed to the back.