I close my eyes when I get too sad,
I think thoughts that I know are bad,
Close my eyes and I count to ten,
Hope it’s over when I open them.
I want the things that I had before,
Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door;
I wish I could count to ten,
Make everything be wonderful again.
Promises mean everything when you’re little,
And the world’s so big.
I just don’t understand how
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes,
Tell me everything is wonderful now.
Dawn sat in the waiting room of the law office, thumbing through the four-month old People magazine for the sixteenth time. She kept gravitating to the movie review section, where their critic gave a positive review to the movie "Spy Kids". She threw the magazine away in disgust; when the commercials for "Spy Kids" first aired on television, Dawn had wanted more than anything to see it. Her mom had promised to take her to see it when it premiered. Two weeks before it opened, she and Buffy buried their mother.
Two weeks later, Buffy had promised to take her to see "Spy Kids", once the situation with Glory had been resolved. Now Buffy was dead as well.
And she was waiting outside a law office where her father was trying to claim custody of her, away from Rupert Giles, the man who had taken care of her for the last month, after Buffy died. Considering that her so-called ‘father’ had all but abandoned his family five years ago, she had no desire to go anywhere with him. Then there was the issue that Hank Summers had never actually met her, considering that the monks who ‘created’ her and everyone’s memories of her only a year ago, long after he abdicated his position as father.
Now, three months after he ignored her mom’s death, one month after Buffy’s funeral had passed without so much as a condolence card from him, Hank Summers was in town, planning to take her to Los Angeles, away from Giles. He offered to take her to see "Spy Kids", but she turned the offer down.
Dawn never wanted to see "Spy Kids" as long as she lived. And she sure as hell never wanted to see it with Hank.
"Thank you for meeting me here, Mr. Giles," Hank Summers greeted Giles with a warm handshake, which was returned stiffly. "Perhaps we can come to an arrangement without bringing the lawyers into it.
"I don’t want to make this difficult, Mr. Giles," Hank said as he sat down at the conference table. Giles sat opposite him, a baleful look coloring his normally stoic features. "May I call you Rupert? I mean, we can all be friends here."
"Mr. Summers," Giles regarded his opponent in this matter with a glower that would intimidate a Jachyra demon, "few people call me Rupert. My friends call me simply Giles. And if I may dispel your misunderstanding of this situation, you are not now, nor shall you ever be, anything that could ever be mistaken for my friend."
Hank sat back, hiding his startlement; when he first met Rupert Giles, he seemed to have the word ‘pushover’ written across his brow. He thought he had appraised his adversary in this matter; a studious, calm Brit with no steel in his spine. Now he was no longer certain. He decided to go for the throat.
"Very well, Mr. Giles," Hank answered, "then let’s not b.s. each other anymore. My reason for coming here is simple. Dawn is my daughter. She is the only family I have left. I feel that it would be beneficial for both of us if I were to take custody of her as soon as possible."
Giles leaned forward in his seat. "Funny, I believe it would be in Dawn’s best interest if you were to crawl back under the rock that spawned you and stayed the hell out of her life!"
"Mr. Giles," Hank struggled mightily to keep a veneer of control over his emotions, "I don’t understand this hostility you seem to have toward me."
"You don’t understand, Mr. Summers?" Giles asked. "Let me enlighten you. In the last three years, you have had minimal contact with either Dawn or Buffy." Not exactly the truth, Giles admitted to himself, considering that Dawn only existed for the last year. But considering that the monks that created her had seeded the minds of all those were necessary to maintain that fiction with memories of her, it made perfect sense that Hank would remember her as well. And the fact that no one’s memories of Dawn included any evidence that Hank was a part of her life since the Summers women first moved to Sunnydale, well, that sadly made perfect sense, and was true to Hank’s character.
"Look, buddy," Hank replied, his anger fueling his resolve to get Dawn for himself, "you can blame Joyce for that. She practically threatened to hand me my balls if I ever came near them again!"
"I was unaware you had any, Mr. Summers," Giles was still the master at calm expression, even though his insides were seething with a desire to see how high this fat fool would bounce off the table. "Joyce and I have maintained a close friendship over the last few years of her life, given my status as one of Buffy’s teachers, and an informal mentor to her. In that time, Joyce has often complained that you chose to sever all ties between yourself and your girls. She had given you every opportunity to have a relationship with Buffy and Dawn, but you chose to neglect them. It was you, Mr. Summers, not Joyce who was responsible for that gulf. And to blame her now, after her death, is reprehensible. Especially since you didn’t even choose to contact Buffy and Dawn after their mother’s death. And, now that I think of it, where were you when your eldest daughter was buried?"
"Buffy made it clear that she didn’t want me in her life, Mr. Giles," Hank glowered from across the table, "and I had no choice to respect her decision. She was a grown woman, wasn’t she?"
"Only for the last two years, Mr. Summers," Giles glowered back, fire flashing in his eyes, "and she wasn’t the one who severed the relationship. You abandoned her and Dawn, and I won’t give you the opportunity to abandon Dawn again."
"Look, buddy," Hank snarled at his adversary, "you don’t have any say in the matter. I’m taking Dawn away from here, and making sure that Buffy’s freak friends don’t come near her. Get it? I only wish that I could have gotten here sooner before Buffy had that two months with her. I may be able to undo the damage that Buffy’s already done, but I’ll be damned if I let that loser Xander or those two dykes near her again!"
Giles fought hard to restrain the Ripper within in him, to rein in his growing desire to bounce this fat fool off of every wall in the office. "I won’t even bother to defend Buffy’s friends against you, since you are patently beneath them. However, I will confess that one of her friends, Willow to be exact, had on occasion performed slightly illegal acts. Computer hacking, for a start." He produced a folder, displaying some forms and documents. "She’s the red-haired ‘dyke’, in case you were wondering. And she found some interesting facts about you, Mr. Summers. For example, it seems that you have some debts incurred from gambling, let’s see," he searched his papers for the proper figures, "Ah yes, a recent horse race. You took out a loan to place a sizable bet on a ‘sure thing’. Your ‘sure thing’ pulled up lame in the first lap." He regarded Hank’s face, enjoying the sheen of sweat that was forming on his brow. "What did you have in mind, Hank? Planned on getting your hands on Dawn’s trust fund?"
Hank sputtered at the accusation. "If you think that I would even consider touching that $15,000, you don’t know me at all!"
"And how did you know how much was in the trust fund?" Giles accused. "You hadn’t spoken once to Joyce, Buffy or Dawn in the last year, and Joyce only set up the trust fund two months prior to her death, after the initial tumor scare!"
Hank stared silently at Giles, who only looked back at him with cold contempt in his eyes. He sagged his shoulders as the gaunt Englishman glared at him. "Look, Mr. Giles, I’ve had some financial reversals, sure, but hey, who hasn’t? I’ll get back on my feet, no problem. Just give me a chance—"
Hank suddenly found his face flattened against wood paneling, as Giles threw him hard against the wall. He had heard more than enough from this idiot. "You disgust me, Hank Summers! I am amazed that such a loathsome individual as yourself could ever be the father of a fine woman like Buffy Summers!" He grabbed Hank’s arm, wrenching it painfully behind his back, twisting hard enough to nearly break bones. "What was the plan, Summers? Loot Dawn’s trust fund and then abandon her? I won’t give you the chance to do that, Summers! Do you hear me?" When Hank didn’t reply fast enough, Giles twisted his arm harder. "DO YOU HEAR ME?"
Two months ago, Rupert Giles had strangled an innocent man named Ben, a man who’s only crime was that he had been used as a host form for the goddess Glory. And this was someone he had grown to respect. Hank, he didn’t even have respect to back him up. And now, as Giles knee was grinding hard into his back, Hank Summers was forced to realize that he had sorely misjudged Rupert Giles.
"Here’s how we will resolve this matter, Mr. Summers," Giles hissed, spitting out the man’s name like it was the most vile of epitaphs. "You will leave this office, return to your hotel, pack your things and board the next available plane out of Sunnydale. You will not seek to contact Dawn Summers, ever, under any circumstances. You gave up any rights you ever had to call her your daughter. As far as she is concerned you are dead. And if I find out that you have gone against my orders in this matter, well, even if the authorities ever find your remains, they won’t be able to identify them. Do I make myself clear?"
Giles loosened his grip enough for Hank to look at his face. Hank looked into Giles’ eyes, for any sign that he was bluffing. He found none, and lowered his head in defeat. "As crystal, Mr. Giles," he murmured. "As crystal."
Giles threw Hank against the wall one last time, for good measure. "Get out of my sight," Giles muttered harshly, without any show of emotion. He straightened the lapels of his tweed jacket, and left the office, and the shattered man behind him.
He took Dawn silently by the hand and the two of them left for Giles’s car. Giles turned quietly toward Dawn, saying, "I am sorry that you had to bear any witness to what had happened. I am aware that he is your father, but..."
"Funny, I’m not," Dawn snorted angrily at Giles. "He made his choice. I don’t really matter to him. I’m just sorry that I didn’t get a lick in at him." It saddened Giles a little to hear Dawn speak of her father with such contempt, but he sagely recalled that the man had brought this upon himself.
"So, Dawn," Giles asked, "where to now?"
"How about England?" Dawn suggested softly. Giles was taken aback at her suggestion. Dawn looked up at the former librarian’s face, and asked, "Weren’t you offered a position on the Watcher’s Council? I heard you talking to Willow and Tara about it the other day."
Giles regarded the young woman cautiously. So much like her older sister, always listening when she wasn’t supposed to. "I was offered a position on the Watcher’s Council, yes," Giles admitted. "But I didn’t want to risk losing custody of you. And I certainly have no intention of uprooting you so abruptly from your life here in Sunnydale."
"My life?" Dawn harrumphed. "No one lives in Sunnydale, Giles. They just die here. Mom died here. Buffy died here. I don’t want to die here." She looked Giles straight in the eyes, and Giles could see the tears that marred her cheeks. "Xander’s talking about opening a construction company in Seattle and moving there with Anya. Willow and Tara’ll probably move away soon. There’s nothing here for us. I can’t live here, Giles." She cried openly now, pleading with the Watcher. "Wherever we live, whatever happens next, let’s do it as far from this hell as possible."
Giles wrapped his arms around her fiercely, driven by a paternal need to protect her from all horrors, from without as well as from within. "Yes, Dawn," he promised, "we will leave this town." He let her cry on his shoulder a while longer, before offering to take her out for some ice cream. Not that ice cream would cure all their ills, but there was something in a simple pleasure, what Buffy frequently referred to as ‘comfort food’, that helped to put things into perspective.
He knew that simply leaving the place where Dawn lost her family wouldn’t solve all her anxieties, wouldn’t calm all her fears. But perhaps, it would provide them both with a fresh start.
He scanned the surroundings, his eyes level and unreadable, as he sought the familiar cave opening. After locating it, he headed for the cave slowly, methodically. This was madness, he knew that, but he had reconciled himself to this course of action. It was the only way to make right what had gone wrong.
He knew now the flaw in the original experiments. Using body parts from Hostiles, trying to create a perfect soldier from spare parts, hot-wired together with computer components. Sheer folly. Only a single body, one of great strength would survive the rigors of the restoration process. But it had to be human, not demon. You can’t expect human reactions or human responses from something that was never human to begin with.
But the new test body was fully human. Broken, damaged, but still human. It would work with her.
He located the entrance, hidden to resemble the rock wall of the cave. Voice code and password were required. He gave his name, and then the password; "A Modern Prometheus."
The door opened slowly, and he entered the familiar passageway. He thought he would never enter this room again. And he certainly never thought that the facility would be active as it was now. Scientists scurried to and fro, under the baleful electronic eye of a security camera. The senior scientist for the organization turned and saw the young man who entered the lab. "Ah, you’ve arrived," he said, as he offered the young man a handshake.
"I wish that the reunion was under kinder circumstances," the young soldier replied. "But if I can aid in the success of your mission, consider me at your disposal."
"Be assured, my son, you’re hardly disposable in this venture," the scientist assured him. "Welcome back to the Initiative, Lieutenant Riley Finn."
He stood alone, a solitary figure in a desert. Level sands stretching far from horizon to horizon. He felt that he should be sweltering in his tweed jacket, but somehow felt a chill in his very soul. Not knowing where he was, uncertain of direction in the blinding sun, he decided to walk in one direction, hoping to find a clue to his whereabouts.
Preferably before dehydration became an issue.
Bathically, he recalled the song, "Horse with No Name" by the sixties band America, and the comment by a stand-up comic; "You’re in the desert, there’s nothing else to do, name the darn horse!"
He kept his head looking forward, neither looking to his right nor his left. He walked with purpose, somehow intuiting that this was the proper direction for him to travel. So he was surprised when, after a few minutes of walking, he no longer stood in the desert, but in a cemetery. Glancing to the left, he saw an all-too familiar stone, and fought back a wave of sorrow and anger as he read the inscription;
Buffy Anne Summers
Born 1981 Died 2001
She Saved the World.
"Too young," he whispered, as grief threatened to consume him. "Too damn young." Not for the first time, he cursed himself for his role in her life. If he had left her alone, perhaps she would have lived a normal life, free of the responsibilities, the heritage, the premature death, which came with being the slayer. He cursed himself promptly for entertaining these thoughts; in the end, she took the responsibility willingly, doing what she had to do for the greater good.
He paused long enough to pay his respects to the tomb, but then his ears perked at a sudden sound. He turned around, bracing himself for any manner of attack, be it mugger or vampire. "Show yourself," he intoned darkly.
Something jumped in front of him, as shadowed as the road in front of her. Something that seemed to be part of the darkness around her. Giles had seen this figure once before in a dream. The Primal Slayer.
She crouched before him, her posture challenging and threatening, yet at the same time reverent toward Giles. She straightened up and approached the Watcher, her every movement graceful and catlike, powerful and predatory. She stared hard at him, and for a second, Giles thought he could see Buffy’s charcoal-blue eyes peering at him out of the Slayers’ face. She sniffed him, and growled lowly. "You must keep this," she grunted. "When the time comes, you will know." She placed a gnarled hand on his head, and Giles felt a power, an energy, surge from her hand into him. The energy fused with him, consuming him from the inside out. Wracked with terrible pain, he screamed...
He woke suddenly, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. He glanced furtively at his surroundings, taking relief in the familiar trappings of his bedroom. He forced his breathing to slow, his heart to calm. He relaxed and forced himself to recall the dream. The Primal Slayer had appeared to him before, as well as Xander, Willow and Buffy. They took it as a sign of their future. A portent of events to come. Was the Primal Slayer trying to warn him about something again? What gift did she give him? And why did she meet him at Buffy’s grave?
He slowly rose from his bed and left for the kitchen. There was no way he could sleep now, so he decided to pour himself a cup of tea. Nothing stimulated Giles’ mind like a cup of Earl Grey. Even if Xander tended to crack Star Trek jokes over his choice of beverage.
It was a sign, he thought as he sipped his tea. He had no other explanation for his dreaming about the Primal Slayer, and Buffy’s gravestone. He wondered if the others were experiencing similar dreams. He would have to ask them about it later.
Somewhere outside of time, the shadowy figure of Morpheus smiled, and continued to craft his dreams. One down, two to go.