By the pricking of my thumbs
AN: wow, I don't think I have seen the word evil so many times in reviews. I am flattered. The next couple chapters are tough, and it is not character bashing, more of a case study in Power Corrupts. I hope I have presented it in a realistic way, but warning, characters deaths are ahead. It wasn't easy to right, but I think the flow makes sense. I hope you enjoy
"Faith Lehane and Dawn Summers." His face was still drawn as he stepped back and allowed them to walk in.
He barely had time to take breath before Dawn slammed into him sobbing and babbling and holding him tight. His arms went around her as the love he had so carefully walled away broke, and he held her tight, "Oh I missed you Dawnie." He looked up and smiled a shaky smile at Faith, "I worried about you Faith, and missed you, but I couldn't take the risk of saying good bye."
He held open one arm and in a moment Faith was there too, holding him with bone crushing strength. People were slowly gathering watching, all the girls silent, but Pat could see a touch of fear on their faces, and curiosity on Barbara's.
Finally after a long moment the three ended the hug, and the three stepped back shaky, Xander turned to his girls, to Pat and Lamont and smiled, "I'd like to introduce you to Faith one of the longest living slayers, and Dawn Summers.... my sister."
A strange look passed over Dawn's face but both of them just smiled and nodded to the hello's, "I think we need to talk, Dawn Faith, this way if you would. Pat if Zatanna or Diana show up, would you send them to us, please?"
Pat nodded, watching a man she had come to respect greatly walk towards his room, his attitude slightly beaten, but at the same time resolute, like someone expecting a blow that they weren't going to shirk from.
The three Sunnyhellers walked into Xander's quarters and he left the door slightly ajar as they all sat down, Dawn and Faith on the couch, relatively close, and Xander in his chair. "So, not that I'm not glad to see you two, but.... how did you find me, why did you find me, and how the HELL did you get here?"
Dawn and Faith looked at each other with a very strange look, then Dawn started talking, "There's so much to tell you, but let me tell you first what I saw, when I got there. As far as I can figure when you left Willow couldn't use any of her magic to find you, it was like if she thought of you the spell went kaput, and she became more and more obsessed with trying to find you; to the point that she almost couldn't use any magic because she kept trying to use it to find you. Then she started doing things to make you not matter... to anyone. Buffy went the other way, she became absolutely paranoid about anyone being out of her sight because they might leave, she pulled me home from college and almost put me under house arrest. At first I was rather panicked, thinking you had been kidnapped but then I started talking to the slayers and they told me what it had been like and I was horrified. A few that were there told how you left with some woman, how you took time to pack, and that you almost seemed relieved. I knew then that you had left, because by that point I was ready to start slaughtering slayers, starting with my sister. Everyone was acting odd, tempers were super short, and Buffy just... wasn't Buffy. The really odd thing was Giles, Andrew, and Robin didn't know who you were or notice that you were gone. I asked the slayers and found out that apparently Willow cast a spell for them to forget you until she found you, this was one of the first things she did when you left. So the Slayers knew who you were and that you had left but not Robin, Giles, or Andrew. The original slayers from Sunnydale who had drifted in during this time were horrified, they hadn't realized it had gotten so bad as they were all out on their own assignments when Buffy and Willow really began to change. But Buffy was different she was not dressing well, barely spoke, and had to be reminded to take a shower. Most of the time if she looked at me, it was as if I was a prized weapon, not her sister. Something else was going on, and I knew I needed help to figure it out."
Dawn took a deep breath tears welling up in her eyes. "Faith had left back in the beginning, you knew that, but she and I kept in touch, and when I sent her a frantic email she came, and she saw what I was too close, too scared to see."
Faith by this point had her arms wrapped around her, and not looking at Xander as she started to talk, her voice rough, and strangely flat. "After we got out of Sunnydale, I was spending most my time with Robin, he could barely sit up without help, and we talked a lot, it was just the two of us. He got me to realize we ended up together more because we both felt like outsiders in the little group and the sex was good; more than us really having anything in common. But apparently to get your principal license or something you have to take some psych classes and he told me my head was screwed up. Boy did I get mad at that, but he explained between my fucked up childhood, Linda dying, then all the shit that went down in Sunnydale, and then prison, I never really dealt with anything. That kinda made sense to me; at the prison they kept trying to get me to talk to a shrink, but I refused, too scared I'd slip up and they'd declare me nutso and then I'd never be free. We agreed I'd go talk to an old friend of his, a shrink who knew about this stuff, and no one'd know, I would just 'disappear' until I was ready to handle stuff, but I decided to keep in contact with Dawnie here, just in case... " She sighed and shifted in her seat a bit.
"The therapy stuff helped, and I worked out a lot of stuff, taking responsibility for the crap I pulled to, speaking of which, Xander, I'm sorry I tried to kill you, you can't imagine how bad I feel about that, or where my head was then."
Xander looked a bit flustered and shrugged, "Forgave you that a long time ago, figured you were as screwed up as the rest of us. Don't worry about it, but go on."
A smile graced her face for a second as both of them ignored the curious look on Dawn's face and Faith went on with her story. "I'd been traveling in Canada, dealing with the vamps that like the longer nights, using a phone for email, when I got Dawn's frantic email. I headed back wondering what was going on. Xander, Robin knew who I was, but not what we had talked about, Giles was acting weird, almost as if I was a new slayer just called." Faith took a deep breath, "I think Red is insane, and she has been altering people's memories, trying to make her own perfect world. She doesn't touch the slayers much, but Buffy, Robin, and Giles, none of them act like they use to, and it is like some things never happened."
Xander sagged back in his chair, a lot of it making sense now, Willow had gone down the memory path before, but if she was doing it more and more, it starts to change behaviors, and warp the people they were. "So... how did you two get here."
Dawn spoke up this time, "We were desperate, hoping you could help, try to fix what had happened, and at college I'd been studying with a master magician that Giles had recommended. I don't have magic like Willow does, but my blood will always control portals, I guess when you are the Key, there is no such thing as time and distance, everything is everyplace, you just have to move to that place." She shrugged a little, "It's hard to explain, but basically I can go anywhere, anywhen, if I have someone to focus on. " She held up a small bottle with a lock of hair, "I stole this from Willow. She has a collection of pieces from everyone, and.. well Faith and I snuck away and I opened a portal to Xander. Honestly wasn't sure it was going to work, but frankly," she and Faith exchanged looks, "We didn't have any other ideas. Everyone is scared of Willow, she is so powerful no one but you has ever been able to reach her. And we figured the lady that stopped her might still be with you, maybe she could help."
Xander sat quietly thinking, not sure what to do, say, or really even what to think. They were interrupted by a knock on the door and Zatanna sticking her head in. "Hey Xan, Pat said you wanted me to stick my head in? You have guests?"
Xander waved to a seat, "Take a seat Zatanna, I think.. I need to beg a favor from you, but I am not sure even what to ask. This is Faith Lehane and Dawn Summers, they are from my old universe, and they came to me for help." The bald statement, and the old part of the comment caused worry in both Faith and Dawn but they smiled politely at Zatanna.
Zatanna arched an eyebrow, "Really? You must be a powerful magic user to be able to do that, and I thought I blocked Willow from finding him."
A sigh from Xander, "You did, but it just meant she went more off the deep end. Dawn is Hecate still her primary goddess?"
Dawn shrugged, "Honestly I don't know if she even uses favors any more, she seems to always have full power to do what she wants."
Zatanna sat thinking, then sat up, narrowing eyes. "Did you tell Willow you were leaving?"
Faith and Dawn glanced at each other. "No.... we just left, scared she would stop us or change us."
"You know she can follow you right, and find Xander now."
All three Sunnydalers paled, "Oh crap," muttered Xander, "How long have you been gone?"
"About two hours now," Faith answered standing up.
"Shite, Zatanna, she is coming, and she is insane." Xander was pale both with worry and fear about a fight that no matter what, people he loved would be hurt. He was out the door in a minute, "Barb would you call Bats and J'onn and Supes, tell them insane powerful magic user inbound, and she is coming for me. Za, can you get Diana here, and let's hope we can fix this somehow and with consequences we can all live with."
Zatanna had quirked an eyebrow at the Za, but sent up a distress message to Diana, and started scribbling on paper trying to get some spells ready, at least she had warning, normally trying to do this on the fly was very hard, which is why she tended to use the same ones over and over again, this time she doubted anything that wasn't specific to Willow would work.
Barbara and Pat really weren't sure what was going on, but Pat had never seen Xander scared before, worried, annoyed, even deadly, but never scared, and that worried her.
Xander was issuing orders to the girls, "Ladies, someone is coming who is not happy with me, I want you to stay out of it okay, this is something I have to deal with and if I am lucky Zatanna and Wonder Woman can help, I don't want you to get hurt, so just stay back, please."
"But we want to help, you've been teaching us to fight, we can help!" Issued forth from multiple throats as girls started grabbing weapons.
"I know girls, but this fight is about the heart, not swords and axes, you have to let me do this one alone."
Kassie spoke up her voice quiet, "The red one isn't going to take you from us, is she?"
Xander knelt in front of the young woman wondering what she had dreamed, "No Kassie, this is my home and I'm not going anywhere. You girls are mine now, and I'm not going to leave you."
Only Barbara saw the slight slump of shoulders in Faith, and the stiffening of Dawn, but the rest was a moot point as the front door suddenly reverberated with someone knocking on them, with a sledgehammer. Xander took a deep breath and straightened up, "I do believe that is for me."