Dawn woke up groggily and momentarily forgot where she was. She smacked her lips and realized her mouth tasted absolutely disgusting. As soon as she realized that, she snapped her eyes open and sat bolt upright on the bed. She looked around the room and cursed with the kind of language Buffy would give her a fat ear for uttering. All of yesterday had not been a very weird dream, it had been real - she was stuck on an strange world with none of her friends around her to help.
A sharp rapping on her door made her jump and in her moment of panic, her sword literally materialized with a flash of light in her right hand. She squealed in shock and toppled off of the bed with an ungainly clatter.
“Hey - open up. Leon sent me, there aren’t Heartless in there are there?” the voice of the young girl from yesterday called out to her.
“No, I was just startled,” Dawn replied, picking herself up off of the floor. She went to the door and opened it a tiny bit, checking it was indeed the girl from before.
“Hey, I’m Yuffie Kisaragi. I brought goodies so open up already.” The girl was obviously not a patient person and Dawn opened the door enough to let the girl through and she closed it again hurriedly.
“I come bearing gifts!” The girl called over her shoulder, dumping an armful of things onto the bed. “New pants, a bra, toothpaste and brush, hair things - the usual package.”
Dawn was so thrilled she could have hugged the girl but she contained her glee at having things to wash with. Clean pants! Yes!
“I hope they fit. I had to guess at your size from what Leon told me,” Yuffie chattered on as she made herself comfortable in the big armchair. “And let me tell you, he isn’t very good at it. ‘She is taller than you.’ was not much to go on…well, what are you waiting for? Get in the shower, you stink.”
Dawn frowned at the rudeness but she had to concede the point - she did stink. Grabbing the proffered goodies, she quickly went into the bathroom and had a shower, washing all the grime of her interplanetary travel off of herself and when she stepped out into the steamy room she felt so much better.
“Oh hey - that’ll be Aerith,” Yuffie exclaimed from the other side of the door when there was faint knock. Dawn quickly put on the clean underwear that had been brought for her and dragged the brush through her hair and took the time needed to thoroughly clean out her mouth. If there was one thing that drove her insane more than anything else it was un-brushed teeth. Once clean and having inspected her mouth thoroughly, Dawn stepped out into the bedroom again, wrapped in her towel.
A pretty brunette was sitting on her no-longer-rumpled bed and the girl was wearing a pink dress. This then, must be Aerith. Yuffie was perched atop the dresser and ignoring the comfortable armchair next to her. Aerith smiled, introduced herself and then indicated a wrapped package beside her.
“I brought you one of my dresses. Leon said you were about my size and I thought you could borrow it until we get you some clothes of your own.” Dawn could not help but thank her and she discarded the towel and pulled on the pale pink dress. It came rather unbecomingly to half way down her calves and she slipped on the linen house-shoes she had been wearing when her world went the way of the dodo.
“We’ll need to buy you some proper boots too,” Yuffie added. “You can pay us back when you’ve got the munny.” Dawn thought this was very generous of the girl but when Aerith looked at her younger counterpart with a half-amused, half-scolding look Dawn wondered what she would have to do to get the munny in the first place.
"Oh-kay," Dawn said, feeling much better now she was in clean clothing. "I don't really have any munny though - I only got enough for a few days board here."
"That is where we come in," Aerith said, speaking before Yuffie could. "Leon said you had a sword with you - can you wield it?"
Dawn nodded and in the action of thinking of her sword, it reappeared in her hand again. She had no idea where it came from or went to when it appeared and disappeared in the flash of light but it was certainly handy.
"Woah," Yuffie exclaimed. "How did you do that? Hey Aerith, that was just like Sora's Keyblade!!"
"Who, what and huh?" Dawn asked. Who the hell was Sora and what was a Keyblade?
"Has Leon seen that sword?" Aerith asked and at Dawn's nod in the affirmative, continued. "I wonder if Ansem would have known the answer to this..." she let her words fade away.
"Who is Sora?" Dawn asked.
"He is this really sweet kid we found yesterday!" Yuffie started up again as Aerith seemed lost in thought. "Leon has been saying for years that the Keyblade would make itself known when the worlds were in trouble. He said the person to wield it would have a pure heart and be a great swordsman. Imagine his shock when this little guy shows up barely half Leon's height! So anyway, Leon decided to fight him and see if the Keyblade was truly his and Sora surprised him...but the effort knocked him out. He was staying in this hotel last night actually. I think he went out early though."
"You mean that unconscious boy I saw you bring in yesterday?" Dawn asked, incredulous. She was all too aware that size had no bearing on power - being Buffy's sister was daily proof of that - but it was still surprising to think that small and seemingly helpless young boy was a destined hero like her sister had been.
"Yep, the one and the same," Yuffie confirmed. "I liked him actually. Sweet kid."
"With the weight of the worlds on his shoulders..." Yes, this sounded all too familiar. She wondered if that poor boy would have the same kind of pain ahead of him that Buffy had faced. She desperately hoped the boy had some kind of network like Buffy had had, lest he turned out like poor Kendra or like Faith. There was a knock at the door and Dawn and Aerith were jerked out of their reflections, Yuffie was talking more about Sora but no one was listening.
"Aerith? It's Leon, is Dawn Summers with you?"
"Yes, one moment," Aerith stood and opened the door, allowing Leon in to the room. He looked Dawn over and he smiled.
"It is time, Cid has opened his store - we can get you some accessories that will help keep you safe," he told her and the girls nodded, following him out of the room. Dawn kept her sword in hand and found that had been a good idea when they were set upon by Heartless the moment they set foot into the square itself.
Yuffie launched herself into action, spinning through the air to give momentum and power to her weapon - Dawn recognised them as shuriken - and Leon simply sliced through the little helmet-wearing Heartless. These ones seemed quicker and more agile than the little shadowy ones she had fought the night before. Between the two of them, they dispatched all but one. That particular one got too near to Dawn for comfort so she leveled her weapon and swung it round in a neat arc that chopped it into halves and it melted away. Dawn picked up the little orbs it left behind and she suddenly realized why Yuffie was so confident on being paid back any outlay.
"Yuffie the Great Ninja saves the day again, oh yeah!" the girl was doing a kind of victory dance on top of the little railing that separated this walkway from the main square.
"..." Leon just stood as Aerith giggled. Dawn just smiled at the antics of the girl and mentally she was likening her a little to Xander at least in the jokester cheeriness stakes.
"Yuffie, come down from there," Aerith admonished after her giggles had abated and Yuffie hopped down, grinning madly from ear to ear.
"So, Dawn, you any good with that thing?" she asked.
"I don't know yet. I fought sometimes in my world - but my sister preferred it if I stayed out of fights," Dawn told her, not really wanting to think about home too much in case she lost control and turned into a blub-monster in front of everyone. "This was my favourite sword but it changed just before I came here."
"It does look like a Keyblade, doesn't it Leon?" The ninja continued. "She can summon it, too."
"Keyblade?" Dawn inspected her weapon. "Looks more like a Keycudgel."
"Doesn't have the same ring to it," Yuffie beamed. "It is magical so it works like a sword despite it's shape."
"I have heard rumour of there being more than one Keyblade but Sora's is the one I sought. I am certain of that," Leon said quietly but he managed to silence his young friend with his words. "Many years ago there was a Keyblade War where many of these blades were used. However, the Kingdom Key is the lynch-pin and the pinnacle of their power. Any more than that I do not know. I had hoped the Kingdom Key would choose me, but it has chosen Sora as it's wielder."
"So this might be a Keyblade then?" Dawn asked, her heart sinking a little. As it did, the blade disappeared from her hands. Why did everything seem to revolve around her being a key? Was there a Dawn-shaped lock in the universe she was destined to be shoved into and twizzled around until something opened? If that was the case, she was so not up for that - it sounded like it would hurt a lot. "I'd be some kind of key?"
"In a sense," Aerith said when it seemed Leon had no intentions of speaking further as he pushed open the door to the First District. "The power the Keyblade wields is, I think, part the power of Kingdom Hearts itself and part the heart of the wielder to help it. The purer the heart of the wielder, the more powerful the blade."
"Mine'll be lousy then," Dawn said. "I would doubt there is anyone on my world pure enough to wield something like that. Not even Buffy and I've never seen her not be able to wield anything."
"Who is Buffy?" Yuffie asked.
"My elder sister." Dawn said and the other girl seemed to catch the 'I-don't-want-to-discuss-it' vibe and went quiet.
"We're here. You can go in with Yuffie, Aerith and I have some newcomers to meet," Leon said and he and the older girl walked away towards a group of harried-looking people as Yuffie bundled her inside the shop.
Her first impressions of the store were that it was barely a hole-in-the-wall kind of place but Yuffie seemed at home there. A blond man with his trousers pulled up by his ribcage turned and gave her what she could only dub the squink eye.
"Another waif?" he asked and Yuffie nodded.
"Get us your finest piece of cheapness, old man," Yuffie said, before jumping out of the way of a half-hearted swipe at her legs.
“How cheap, brat?” the man shot back.
“I’ve only got…” Dawn counted her munny. “Thirteen munny.”
“Ain’t no way no how you’re getting anythin’ for that,” the man laughed. “Stop wasting my time, brat.”
“Aww, Old Man Cid, you know I’m good for it!” Yuffie pouted and slipped a pile of munny out of her pocket. “Get the girl something.”
“You can have a protect chain and that’s it,” the man whom Dawn presumed was Cid grunted, swiping the munny from Yuffie. The ninja took it and handed it to her new found friend and showed Dawn how to wear it and explained the charm on the item that made it slightly harder for Heartless to hurt you.
“It isn’t very strong though so don’t rely on it!” Cid warned loudly.
“Now let’s go and get you and that keyblade more acquainted!” Yuffie exclaimed, once again yanking Dawn through the doors. They made their way past the huge postbox and into the Third District. The doors had barely closed behind them when four little red flying Heartless appeared with a handful of soldiers.
“You take the ground, I’ll take the air,” Yuffie yelled as she leapfrogged a soldier and used the momentum to twist herself into the air, loosing her shuriken. Dawn shook herself back into the fight, it would be suicidal to watch the ninja and not hold up on her own part of the battle. She thought of her blade and summoned it into her hands with the now-familiar flash of light. With two quick passes the one Yuffie had dazed by using it’s head as a springboard was history and she whirled to face the next…only there were two there and she knew instinctively that she would not be able to bring her sword to bear to get both in time. Just as she destroyed the one on her left, the one on her right got too close and she slipped. As she fell, her hand thrust out to the side and she looked on in complete shock as fire erupted from her fingertips and engulfed the thing completely. With a puff of smoke and shadow, the creature simply ceased to exist.
“Hey - you can call forth fire,” Yuffie called joyfully from atop the banister leading to a little row of houses, her shuriken slicing the last remaining soldier and returning to her hand. “Only missed one, not too bad newbie.”
“How in the seven hells did I do that?!” Dawn asked, picking herself up off of the floor. She pointed her hand towards an empty area and tried it again, this time the fire was stronger and she felt her eyebrows. Luckily they had not been singed off.
“Dunno, Aerith can do spells but she usually has to name them to cast them - talk to her. Oh! Don’t cast it at those little red thingies, it heals them!”
Dawn wondered if this was how Willow felt when she cast her first fire spell, as if she had the potential of the power of the universe at her fingertips.
“Well done my child, you will be the Master of Wildfire before long…” It was the voice again! Dawn whirled around but there was no one there. Weird. Before she could ponder or look more carefully for the source of the voice that had saved her life and brought her here, Yuffie was yelling again.
“Oi slowpoke, got a bit of a sitch up here, hurry up!”
Dawn sighed, hefted her blade and raced up the stairs to go and help her rather vocal new friend in her fight.