Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, DC Comics characters, and Reamonn media are the property of their original owners.
Author’s Note: Slightly AU, since I needed to shift the timeline a bit so that Dawn would be in Sunnydale and know about herself being the Key at least a year earlier than in canon.
“Mom? Are you okay?”
Dawn didn’t care how scared she now sounded. After a grim Buffy had actually ordered her mother and younger sister out of Sunnydale before graduation day at the local high school, they’d reluctantly obeyed. The drama of the last few weeks had worn down any potential objections, what with Joyce Summers’ increasing headaches and the Scooby Gang also learning that Dawn had never actually existed for all of her so-called life as part of the Summers family. Instead, some monks over in Europe had, for their own reasons, used magic to change an immortal, glowing-green ball of energy into a young human girl and then sent this innocent child into the care of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, altering the memories of everybody in her new life who could have possibly encountered Dawn Summers. Including the woman who’d thought for the last thirteen years that she was the mother of two daughters.
There had been angst aplenty over all of this, but right now, the youngest Summers sister just didn’t care. After a few miles since they’d left behind the Sunnydale town limits sign, a grimacing Joyce had pulled their car over to the side of the country road, stopped the vehicle and turned off the engine, and then she started rubbing hard her forehead with her fingertips, moaning in agony all the while. An increasingly panicky Dawn in the right seat had then instinctively reached out with her left hand to caress the back of her mother’s neck.
After a few moments of Dawn doing this, Joyce had sighed, “Thank you, honey-- OH!” The last loudly gasped word was accompanied by Joyce stiffening in her car seat. Dawn snatched back her hand, terrified that she’d done something wrong. As the young girl watched her mother allow her hands to drop away from this older woman’s head and stared blankly ahead through the windshield, Dawn had asked her frightened question.
Joyce slowly turned her head to gaze at the girl in the other seat clearly about to burst into tears. This sorrowful event never came to pass, as her mother now grinned in absolute joy, bringing a glow of pure delight to the woman’s face that a gawking Dawn hadn’t seen for months. Abruptly leaning forward, Joyce hugged hard her bewildered daughter, caroling into Dawn’s ear, “Oh, honey, I’m more than okay! It’s finally over! I know who I am now, and I’ll show you!” Suddenly releasing her child, Joyce opened her car door, all while ordering in a happy tone, “Out, out of the car, lazybones! I need you outside for this!”
Baffled, Dawn unthinkingly followed her mother’s command, getting out of the car as she warily watched Joyce step around to her side. The older woman now reached out with both hands to place them on Dawn’s shoulders, as Joyce now craned her neck to look around themselves in the unpopulated rural area where they’d stopped. Firmly nodding, Joyce turned her gaze back to look Dawn in the face, as she decisively informed her daughter, “Okay, there’s no witnesses here, so it’s safe to do this. Now, Dawn, listen to me: I want you to stay absolutely right there, without moving a step. Got that?” At her daughter’s dazed nod, Joyce then chuckled, “I should be gone for, oh, a few seconds, no more.” With those words, Joyce stepped away a few paces, and still smiling at Dawn, her mother promptly vanished from sight.
Dawn immediately shrieked in pure fright, jumping back at least a full yard, to then stand there trembling as she stared at the bare space where her mother had been just a moment before. Jerkily moving her head around to gape around the deserted area, Dawn now tentatively said, “Mommy? Mommy? Are you there, Mommy?” Forgetting Joyce’s orders, Dawn now turned around in a half-circle, beginning to open her mouth to call again for her mother.BOOOMMM!
At the exact same moment as the thunderclap shattered the peaceful California day, Dawn felt a blast of air coming from behind herself strike and hurl the young woman forward, with the terrified girl just beginning to throw out her hands to cushion the coming hard landing against the ground. Surprisingly, there wasn’t any actual need for this, since Dawn was caught in mid-air and gently returned to her feet, accompanied by a very familiar voice anxiously apologizing, “I’m sorry, Dawnie, so sorry! I’m a little rusty at this, and I forgot to stop the sonic boom!” After those concerned words, a dazed Dawn finally looked around to see who was saying that, as she was finally let go from someone’s helping hands.
The junior-high student now actually felt her heart skip a beat, as she stared at the sheepish person standing there, instantly recognizable from all the time Dawn had spent around Xander in her schoolgirl crush (even though that hadn’t really happened) and he’d allowed her to read his comic-book collection, which was wide-raging on the DC comics side, including a character first introduced in 1959. Though, there were some differences, as promptly choked out by a stunned Summers sister, “You changed your costume….”
Her flowing blonde hair rippling in the faint breeze, the woman once known as Supergirl now looked down at her blue unitard with the red cape and boots plus the metallic belt, topped off with the renowned irregular pentagon with the stylized ‘S’, all in the familiar scarlet and gold colors. Wryly smiling as her head came back up, Joyce Summers chuckled to her amazed daughter, “I could get away with the skirt when I was younger, even during all the flying, but today, with the Internet and everyone having a camera phone now, not a chance! I’m just glad I kept on with the Pilates classes I started after having Buffy, since the cape doesn’t always cover my butt.”
Dawn felt her brain actually pop at those last words. Before the mother could start guffawing at her daughter’s expression, their location by the road leading to and away from Sunnydale was abruptly transformed from bright day into dim twilight. Startled, both Summers women looked around, as they then witnessed the cone of absolute darkness appearing in the middle of their hometown several miles away. Her face changing to stern resolve, Joyce said in a no-nonsense tone, “Dawn, get in the car, and stay
there. You should be safe inside, but if anything bad shows up, just call my name and I’ll be back--”
Numbly standing there in the mystically-created dusk, Dawn interrupted her mother in a very small voice, “--Faster than a speeding bullet?”
A sardonic grin appeared on the superheroine’s lips as she looked fondly at her youngest child. “Oh, much faster than that. Go on, honey, because I have to help Buffy now.” Giving Dawn a firm nod, Joyce again vanished from sight, though the girl thought she saw the very briefest streak of red and blue head upwards into the air before Dawn found herself once more alone by the car.
Still looking straight ahead, Dawn just stared blankly into the distance until a trio of thoughts crept into her brain and politely waited for her to finally pay attention to these reflections:
*Supergirl is my Mommy.*
*Mommy said to wait in the car.*
*Do what Mommy says.*
On slightly wobbly feet, Dawn Summers now meekly got inside their vehicle, and she waited for Mommy to come back.
Principal Snyder had just become snake chow, and the enormous serpent now lifted up its reptile head proudly, as if actually expecting a round of applause from the Sunnydale High graduating class. The odd part was that this might have in fact happened if the students weren’t already busy dragging out their makeshift weapons, until everyone abruptly froze, all due to the deafening woman’s voice that rattled windows throughout the entire city.
“YOU MONSTER, YOU WON’T HURT ANYBODY ELSE EVER AGAIN!”
Every head there, whether human, vampire, demon, or serpent, then snapped upwards at where the voice had come from, to then stare disbelievingly at the woman in the blue costume and red cape floating in mid-air several hundred feet above the ground. This incredible sight was then followed by an equally amazing event, as the area around the flying woman’s head abruptly flared in a scarlet light as bright as the sunset.
Along with the memories, all the skills had fully come back now, so that the once-Supergirl’s heat vision instantly and completely charred into ash the entire body of the Olvikan demon that Richard Wilkins had changed into just minutes before. Before the massive corpse of the dead snake could crumble into dust, the same fate occurred to every other threat to the innocents there, with all the homicidal demons and vampires also destroyed by beams of light hotter than any earthly fires (including a fleeing blond vampire who finally found something he couldn’t outrun). It was all done so adroitly that even the closest of the Scooby Gang felt nothing but a blast of warm air as their foes were burned before the eyes of this library-meeting group.
Looking down as she switched off her heat vision, the woman in the air noted with calm satisfaction that her job here was done. Which left the rest of the city. Blurring out of sight from the spectators on the ground, Joyce moved at superspeed throughout every building in Sunnydale, and also below these in the basements, cellars, and sewers in her search for the remaining vampires, instantly destroying any she found. Including one rather strange blood-drinking monster, who’d been found standing stock-still in her crypt, holding a very creepy doll in her arms and intently examining this toy just before a blast of heat vision turned her into ashes.
Well, once that had been done, one last check of Sunnydale had been made, and the superheroine then took care of any demons she found that seemed to be a real threat to people. Joyce left alone any unearthly creature that appeared harmless, knowing she could always deal with them later if this was found out to be incorrect, but if there was a clear indication of danger (such as an armchair carved from human bones), another demon bit the dust. Supergirl might have once had a no-killing policy, but Joyce Summers had two daughters, and no mother would ever allow her children to be put in danger from any kind of being.
During all this, the eclipse unforeseen by any astronomer now ended, revealing in the bright California sunlight a stunned crowd of students, their families, and the Scooby Gang, all who tried to make sense of what had just happened. Tugging along after herself a quiet young man with painted-black fingernails, Willow frantically searched for her friends, and the red-haired girl found this pair standing together and acting rather peculiarly.
Xander was dazedly reading over and over a scrap of paper covered with very familiar handwriting that had abruptly appeared in his hands just after Mayor McSnake had been barbecued. When Willow and her boyfriend Oz showed up and his yellow-crayon friend then demanded to know what he had, the teenage boy had silently handed over this message, with this girl and the other male also becoming absolutely stunned at what they now read (well, it was pretty difficult to tell with Oz):Xander, the detonators and explosives you put in the school have been removed and disposed of safely, and while they would’ve been very effective in getting rid of that creature, we’re going to have a serious talk about this, young man. Behave yourself. Love, ‘S’
Her face paling at seeing that last stylized initial letter inside its absolutely-identifiable geometric shape, Willow looked up, along with her boyfriend, and they both stared at Xander. Who was himself gaping at the small blonde next to them, still looking up in the air, and opening and closing her mouth. As they leaned forward in their sudden curiosity, the other members of the Scooby Gang now heard a very faint word coming from a stupefied Slayer whose heightened senses included extremely good eyesight, easily capable of seeing someone’s features despite them then flying at an altitude of several hundred feet.
Dawn’s attention was instantly grabbed by the superheroine in her blue costume gently landing in front of the car. As she stood there, Joyce peered into the front window to see the young girl staring back at her, and with inward nervousness hidden by her calm expression, the older woman held out her arms.
Without even thinking about it, Dawn immediately scrambled out of the car, ran toward the other, and collided with Joyce (who’d made the infinitesimal recoil that prevented an ordinary human from being injured by bumping against a steel-hard body) when Dawn threw her own arms around her mother, as equally familiar arms that could crush matter to Jovian-level pressures now gently embraced her child. Desperately holding onto the patient woman, the side of Dawn’s face was pressed against a legendary symbol.
Finally, a muffled voice located at chest level reached the ears of someone who could hear icebergs crushing together in the Arctic. “Uh, so the movie and the comics were really real?”
Despite herself, a sardonic snort escaped from Joyce’s lips, but she went on to kindly explain, “After the inspiration particles managed to pass through the dimensional barriers and sank into the minds of the book writers and also the screenwriters, they didn’t always manage to convey the correct stories. But, they did get one thing right: After my first visit there, I left Earth to head back to Argo City in my spaceship. On the way, we hit some kind of wormhole or space-time connection between dimensions, which also had in its event horizon a diffuse form of gold kryptonite molecules that managed to get through my ship’s shielding, stripping away my powers to a normal human’s level. I was also hit by serious radiation poisoning, which lead to my mistake, but since I wasn’t really coherent at that point, I suppose I could be forgiven for this. Anyway, I managed to tell my ship’s computer to get us back to Earth and then do whatever was necessary to keep me safe and well, before I passed out.”
Still pressed up close to her mother, a fascinated Dawn both felt and heard a deep sigh, as Joyce continued her story. “Well, my ship got back to Earth, but not the one I just left -- it was this
one, in an entirely different dimension, where I was considered to be nothing more than a fictional character. I have to say, Helen Slater was fine as me, even though I never met any scenery-chewing actors like those-- Um. Anyway, when the ship landed here, the computer went a bit too far in following my last orders. Since I was an ordinary human now, it decided to create an entire new identity for me, which was acceptable, except instead of waking me up right away from the therapy chamber once I was cured, the computer exceeded its programming by altering my memories, making me think I was Joyce Young instead of Kara Zor-El and causing me to forget who I really was.”
Dawn felt her mother’s body shift in the girl’s embrace, as Joyce ruefully shrugged. “The false life started when I found myself in college, and it kept going on when I met your dad.” Stiffening, Dawn began to open her mouth, only to have the other woman steadily continue. “I married him, graduated, had Buffy, then you, divorced Hank, and finally moved here, to Sunnydale.” Joyce’s tone began to become musing as she went on. “One of the few things the comics got right is that Kryptonians are just as susceptible to magic as are humans. There’s ordinarily no way for us to recover our abilities once we’ve been affected by gold k, but magic has its own rules. I’m not sure how long it took, since I never even felt different from anyone else on the Hellmouth, including being affected by Sunnydale Syndrome, but I finally got them back, though I never used them since I couldn’t remember being Supergirl.”
“So what happened, about that?” a distracted Dawn managed to ask despite her growing unhappiness.
The arms around the young girl gently squeezed her once, as Joyce said in a lighter voice, “It was you
, Dawn.” Peering down at the top of the head of the brunette girl frozen in her embrace, Joyce chuckled at the shocked silence coming from her daughter. “You see, when those monks affected our memories, I already had my own fake recollections, and these went up against the new existence for us all, which resulted in my headaches when all those invented memories fought it out. That kept going on up to today, when I finally left Sunnydale and its memory-blanking spells, with you right at hand, that my true identity won out. So….you and I and Buffy are going-- Dawn?!
That frantic exclamation of her daughter’s name by Joyce was due to the immense sobs that abruptly burst from Dawn, as the girl pressed up against the woman then switched from her hysterical weeping into loud wails that eventually changed into actual words: “I’m not real -- you’re not real -- nothing’s real--”
The unexpected subsonic rumble deep from Joyce Summers’ throat resounded throughout the pre-teen’s bones, lungs, and sinus cavities, shocking that named girl into gaping silence, as she was gently shifted away from the older woman’s body, allowing enough room between them for Dawn to reluctantly lift her head to stare with eyes brimming with tears into Joyce’s compassionate face. Tenderly reaching out with her right hand, Joyce then stroked the damp cheek of her child, as she quietly said, “What I’m feeling there, what you’re feeling there….that’s real. Your tears are physical things and your misery’s a mental thing, but both are genuine and they exist. Just like everything I feel about you.”
“I’m not--” gulped Dawn, just before she was interrupted again.
“Oh, yes, you are. I’ve cared for you all your life, and even if that was a lie, then so what? I’ll still care for you all your life, and what does anything else matter?” Looking deep into Dawn’s eyes, Joyce let her own tears fall, as she whispered to her child, “When I was in college, I roomed with another girl who became an orphan and then got adopted. She once told me a poem her new parents gave her on her first birthday with them, and it absolutely and completely shows how I feel about my oh so special little one:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute;
You didn't grow under my heart
but in it.”
After Joyce finished reciting the poem, Dawn blinked up at the woman looking with bated breath back at her, and then with a soft sigh, the girl then leaned forward into an embrace that would last all of the Key’s life, knowing also forever one simple thing.
Dawn’s Mommy loved her.
Author’s Note: All rights to ‘Supergirl’ by the band Reamonn are the property of that group.You can tell by the way, she walks that she's my girl
You can tell by the way, she talks that she rules the world.
You can see in her eyes that no one is her chain.
She's my girl, my supergirl.
And then she'd say, it's Ok, I got lost on the way
but I'm a supergirl, and supergirls don't cry.
And then she'd say, it's alright, I got home late last night,
but I'm a supergirl, and supergirls just fly.
And then she'd say that nothing can go wrong.
When you're in love, what can go wrong?
And then she'd laugh the nightime into day
pushing her fear further long.
And then she'd say, it's Ok, I got lost on the way
but I'm a supergirl, and supergirls don't cry.
And then she'd say, it's alright, I got home, late last night
but I'm a supergirl, and supergirls just fly.
And then she'd shout down the line tell me she's got no more time
'cause she's a supergirl, and supergirls don't hide.
And then she'd scream in my face, tell me to leave, leave this place
'cause she's a supergirl, and supergirls just fly
Yes, she's a supergirl, a supergirl,
she's sowing seeds, she's burning trees
She's sowing seeds, she's burning trees,
yes, she's a supergirl, a supergirl, a supergirl, my supergirl…
Final Author Note: This story and song are dedicated to Kristine Sutherland and my own mother, JP.