How Dawn held a fire ritualDisclaimer: Dawn and the others aren’t mine, but belong to Joss Whedon and co.
Note: This story contains some DnD elements.
Dawn was bored. Not enough to get kidnapped (this wasn’t a Tuesday, after all), but still. Buffy has been found, Giles and others were going to see her in England (Buffy had slayed something giant and robot-like, yay!), and Dawn was to remain behind, under Faith’s watchful eye.
Dawn sighed. Faith appeared to be sort-of contrite about kidnapping her and mom before the whole body-switching incident, but somehow Dawn just wasn’t buying it, and neither was any-one else. Of course, Faith wasn’t exactly doing a high-level sell either: she appeared to just not care that nobody in the Scooby gang fully trusted her, period, and that bothered Dawn even more.
“If we’re a team, why don’t we fully trust each other anymore?” she mused as she cleaned the shelves of “The Magic Box”. “And if we don’t fully trust each other anymore, are we a team, then?”
“Try holding a fire ritual,” Anya said suddenly from the opposite end of the shop. “It is supposed to melt all the stones of concern in your heart and to vaporize the waters of emotional pain and turmoil inside of you. It will ignite the passion in your heart, which will expand your spirit and lift you above your former limitations! You will be lightened and purified!”
“...Ahn?” Dawn spoke when it became obvious that Xander or Giles or anyone else wouldn’t ap-pear to help her out. “When you speak a salespitch into a customer-less shop? It’s just creepy.”
“Oh, I wasn’t practicing my sales pitches,” Anya replied cheerfully. “I was giving you helpful advice about how to deal with your depression, you see?”
“Oh,” Dawn hesitated, “well, thanks for the attempt. I don’t know if I should try any of the magic stuff without Willow, Tara or Giles around.”
“Hey, I’m around. I am an eleven centuries old ex-demoness, and I’m around,” Anya said huffily. “Besides, it is just meditation at a candle. How much trouble can you get into doing that?”
“I don’t know – let’s find out!” Dawn said excitedly.
“Hmm. Let’s.”* * *
Meditating with a candle sucked. Maybe Willow and Tara could un-suck it for each other with smooches (and yes, that involved sucking, but in a totally different way), but for Dawn alone it sucked in a totally non-sexual way.
“Let’s see,” Dawn ground her teeth as she distantly heard Anya chatting to Xander in the front of the store. “I should reach in and touch the candle or let it touch my innards? I forgot. Anyways, let’s try it one more time...” Dawn concentrated, and tried to imagine a candle burning inside her, warming her heart, her soul, her blood.
Her green and glowing blood.
Wait, that came out wrong-* * *
“Sorry to interrupt the two of you saying good-bye,” Faith spoke in a purposefully loud voice, startling Xander and Anya just in time for them not to be caught kissing across the counter, “but where’s Dawn? You two didn’t forget about her, did you?”
“What? No-no-no-no,” Anya shook her head. “She’s actually, in the backroom, meditating on a candle-“
The store’s backroom practically evaporated from the flames, and in stumbled Dawn, her body all aglow, her eyes utterly blank, and her skin writhing in an utterly unnatural way.
“You!” Faith screamed an Anya. “What’ve you done to her?”
“I just had her meditate on a candle!” Anya screeched back. “This isn’t my fault!”
“We’ll settle this later,” Faith muttered, as an odd, resigned expression formed on her face. “You and Xander – hang back for now, I’m going in!”
“Faith-“ Xander began, but the dark Vampire Slayer was already approaching the out-of-control transdimensional Key. It was really hard to tell because of that odd and disturbing lightshow that Dawn was producing, but Xander could swear that Faith was emitting a faint glow of her own – a different shade from Dawn’s.
And then Faith was next to Dawn, and she grabbed her, and-* * *
The Key was lost. No, Dawn was lost. No, the Key-
Either way, whether she was a she or an it, whether she was Dawn Summers or the Key, but this wasn’t Sunnydale anymore, or even a world without shrimp. Rather, it was a world of fire, ash, smoke, magma and similar substances, and she, or it, was floating through it... completely unarmed.
I am the Key. I was forged by Geraldine de Vaux, who had vanquished the challenge of time, and who made me invulnerable. I can travel through space and time. I am free.
I am Dawn Summers. I got a family and friends. I live in Sunnydale and I will not abandon them. I am free.
Suddenly, a new figure appeared out of the smoke and flames: humanoid, but coloured like a chequered board in black and white.
“Ah, there you are,” the figure said in a semi-familiar tone of voice, which Dawn – the Key – Dawn was partially remembering. “I see that you have half-way slipped the bonds that the monks have made for you when they made you flesh.”
I am flesh! Dawn – the Key – Dawn seethed. I am flesh, and I live in Sunnydale, and you get your hands off me-* * *
Dawn suddenly realized that she was fully herself once again, that she was standing – or rather kneeing in “The Magic Box”, and that she was vomiting... or either somebody else standing next to her was. The next moment everything went dark, and the last sensation Dawn had awareness of, was of falling.* * *
“What has happened to me?” was the first thing Dawn asked sometime later, as soon as she became aware of her surroundings. “Are Anya and Xander all right as well?”
“Yes, but Anya’s in trouble,” Giles said curtly. “Apparently, when you began to meditate upon a candle, you somehow got in touch with your inner Key, and it has opened a gate to the inner plane of fire within yourself.”
“To the what?” Dawn asked incredulously.
“You set the shop on fire, but since it is a magic fire, Anya’s having a field day with her insurance agent,” Faith explained helpfully. “That’s good, since after that, when Willow and Tara recover from checking you over, they’ll have their turn with Xander and her.”
Dawn thought about this. So far Giles’ and Faith’s story made sense, but...
“So why I am still myself and not a burned and charged corpse?” she finally figured out what bothered her the most.
Faith and Giles exchanged looks. “I think you just weren’t gone far enough or long enough,” Giles admitted. “When Faith grabbed you, she managed to break the meditation-forged process.”
“Good enough,” Dawn said firmly, deciding that this amount of knowledge was enough for her. “Now what?”
“Well, Anya and Xander showed that they cannot be trusted with you, or rather – Anya cannot. Tara is willing to look after you, but-“
“Tara’s great and all, but with Anya on the outs, and you gone, she might be just over her head,” Dawn admitted, slightly bashfully. “So who’s staying?”
“Well, I’m, since I’m the Vampire Slayer,” Faith said nonchalantly. “You’re going to England to see your sister!”
“After you get better,” Giles added sternly – but Dawn ignored him, as the double spectres of her big sister and a new city were slowly taking shape in the currently-dim future.