Disclaimer: I do not own either BTVS or Stargate. Also, a few words from the beginning of this chapter are taken from 'the Gift.'
AN: I should definitely be working on my other stories, but I simply could not get this idea out of my head, so a prologue suddenly appeared. This is a response to The Never Existed Challenge featuring Stargate. It takes place right after 'The Gift' in BTVS, while we are just after Chain Reaction in Season 4 of SG-1. Prologue
She had been the furthest from the body.
All the rest of her sister's closest friends – practically family – had already gathered near her supine form, blocking what little of Buffy could be seen from Dawn's perch on the steps of the tower. Her sister had died. It was just like mom, only worse, because this time she was dead because of Dawn. Buffy had sacrificed herself for Dawn.
The tears would not stop flowing, as Buffy's last words – etched into her mind indelibly in those final moments – echoed interminably through her head.
“Give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now – you have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.”
A part of her wanted to follow Buffy – follow the sister who had sacrificed herself for a girl who was not even real. She wanted to be with Buffy. She wanted to be with her mom. But Buffy wanted her to be strong: to live. It was so hard. Even with all of Buffy's friends nearby, she was so alone.
She was glad that all of the Scoobies had gathered around Buffy, blocking the body from view. She did not want to see Buffy dead. She knew that Buffy was dead, but, just now, she did not think that she could bear to see the evidence with her own eyes. They were all together, and she was alone now. Even with them all nearby, she was still alone.
Dawn sat on her stoop, about ten feet above the ground, for what seemed like hours, staring aimlessly towards Buffy's friends: her friends. Then, when they finally began their solemn march home, Buffy's body carried in Giles' arms, she had once again followed at a distance. None of them acknowledged her, and part of her preferred it that way. Tonight should be about Buffy. Buffy had died, and the world would never be whole again. Tonight should be one last night all about her.
Then Dawn reached her home, perhaps a half minute behind the Scooby gang, and found the door locked. Her front door was locked.
She rang the doorbell. No one answered.
She rang the doorbell again. Once more, no one answered.
Why had they locked her out? This was her house. Had they simply forgotten about her?
Dawn rang the doorbell again and again. She wanted to come inside. Maybe she was even ready to see Buffy. She suddenly realized that she did not want to be standing alone on her own doorstep. Buffy had said that they would have to take care of each other – to comfort each other. Maybe that was what she needed now.
She pressed the doorbell again and again until, finally, the door burst open, nearly striking her, as she jumped out of its way.
Xander stood in the doorway, and he was furious.
“Stop ringing the doorbell! Don't you- don't you realize someone's died in here! Go away!”
Dawn paled and found herself swallowing dryly, as she stared up at her implacable former baby sitter. She had never seen that expression on his face before: not directed at her. Why was he looking at her like that?
“B-But X-Xander, I w-want to see Buffy, a-and this is m-m-my house. I-”
“Your house?” Xander interrupted Dawn incredulously. “What are you talking about?”
“X-Xander, this isn't f-fun-”
Then Dawn was interrupted once again by a voice within the house. It was Willow.
“Xander, there's something wrong with the house. There's some strange girl in all of Buffy and Joyce's pictures.”
The young man's head turned towards the voice, ignoring Dawn for a moment.
“Strange girl? What do you mean?”
“Here. Take a look.”
Then Willow was walking out of the living room towards Xander, holding a picture of Dawn's mom lying on her stomach with Buffy and Dawn perched on either side of her. Then she caught sight of Dawn, and her quizzical expression morphed into anger.
“It's you,” the witch declared, pointing an accusing finger at Dawn. “Who are you? How did you do this?”
Xander was turning back towards her as well, and then the other Scoobies were walking into the front entryway, all looking either wary or furious. That was when Dawn realized that none of them recognized her.
Xander tried to grab her, but she was too fast for him, ducking backwards out of his reach. As the other Scoobies moved forward threateningly, Dawn looked at her sister's friends – the people who she had considered her closest friends – saw the expressions on their faces, and then she turned and ran.
They chased her, but she was faster and sneakier, ducking in and out of the many alleyways she had navigated with Janice in the past few years. If they had been unhurt, things might have ended differently, but, while she had bled out a fair bit, and was still bleeding a little bit, her friends had been brutalized by Glory and her minions. Her edge was small, but she kept ahead of them, and then eventually lost them, as they all either tired or lost sight of her. Then Dawn was alone in one of Sunnydale's alleys, and had no idea what to do.
Were they under a spell? Had someone made them forget her? Then an even more sinister and likely possibility occurred to her.
The monks had altered everyone's memories in order to protect the Key from Glory, but now Glory was dead. Physical things they had created, like Dawn and all the fake pictures of her which they had manufactured, still remained, but maybe, with Glory gone, or because the Key had been used, the memory alterations they had performed on everyone were unraveling. Of course, as Dawn had been created from scratch, her memories remained, but what about everyone else? Had everyone forgotten her?
Dawn was still sitting alone in an alleyway, trying to discern what had happened to her, when a vampire came upon her. She was so caught up in her own thoughts that she failed to notice the undead man until he was practically on top of her, his horrific true face revealed for all to see.
Incapable of anything more than the most feeble resistance against the supernatural strength of a vampire who already had her in his grasp, Dawn was hurled against a nearby dumpster, as the brown-haired creature of the night stalked her. She tried to scream, but an ice-cold hand closed around her throat like a vice grip.
Scenting her fresh blood, the vampire lifted the front of her dress to lick at the still slightly bleeding cuts which had been sliced into her atop Glory's tower. She struggled. She tried to resist. But she was helpless against the two supernaturally strong arms which pinned her against the alleyway's green dumpster. Her hands spasmodically opened and closed, as she fought futilely for her freedom.
A sudden thought struck her then. She was going to die here in this alleyway – alone and unremembered by anyone. Everything would be just as if Dawn Summers never existed, except for one thing: if Dawn Summers had never existed, Buffy Summers might still be alive. That could not be her only legacy. She could not die here. Buffy had asked her to live. She would live. And then her spasming hand closed on a sharp, thin piece of wood, which had fallen out of the dumpster.
The vampire's fangs, having tired of the meager offerings provided by the cuts on her stomach, pierced her jugular, drinking deeply, as she finally found herself able to scream, the vampire having removed its right hand from her throat in order to feed. She stabbed the vampire with the piece of wood she had found, and he merely grunted. She must have missed the heart. Everything was starting to blur. Everything was getting dark. She stabbed him weakly once more. Had she staked him? Then the world faded into blackness. * * *
“So, that's the situation, people,” General George Hammond declared to Stargate Command's premiere team and premiere doctor. “We have a girl in southern California who every piece of documentation and physical evidence in the world says is perfectly ordinary, but not one person in the world can remember her.”
“Begging your pardon, General,” Jack cut in, idly leaning back in his cushioned office chair. “But is this really any of our business? I mean, if this kid's guardians are the sort of jerks who won't claim her, isn't that more of a job for child services or the local police?”
“I think that you're misunderstanding me, Colonel. It's not just her guardians, and they're not just refusing to claim her. Her father claims that he has never even heard of anyone named Dawn Summers. All of her teachers claim that they never taught her. The priest who baptized both her and her sister remembers Buffy Summers' baptism clearly, but has sworn that she was an only child.”
“Okay, that is pretty weird,” Jack conceded. “Are we sure it's aliens, though? Maybe the kid is just really, really unmemorable.”
Sam Carter raised a bemused eyebrow at this suggestion.
“Sir, people don't just get forgotten by the entire world one day. I'm pretty sure that we can rule out any mundane causes here.”
“Sure, sure,” Jack O'Neill replied breezily. “I'm just saying that our specialty is making contact with alien races and fighting fake snake Gods, not treating mass hallucinations. Maybe the surgeon general should take this one.”
Daniel Jackson spoke up at this point.
“But are we sure it's the people who have seemingly forgotten Dawn Summers who are wrong? General, you said that her documentation holds up perfectly, even in government archives which should be nearly impossible to access, right?”
“That's right Dr. Jackson.”
“Right. But just because it's impossible for us doesn't mean it would be impossible for a highly advanced alien race like the Asgard or Tollans. As for Dawn Summers herself, maybe she's some kind of alien infiltrator, or she could even be from an alternate dimension like the Sam and Kawalsky we ran into last year.”
General Hammond, nodded, glad that someone had raised the other possibility he was considering.
“That's what our intelligence people were worried about when they brought this to my desk. For all we know, this could be a foothold situation, or she could even be another Goa'uld like Setesh who's been hiding out on Earth. Teal'c, have you ever heard of the Goa'uld doing this sort of thing?”
The Jaffa warrior's expression was impassive.
“I have never heard of a Goa'uld device which could alter so many memories in the manner you have described, but planting secret agents is not uncommon among the Goa'uld. As we have seen, the Goa'uld are certainly capable of brainwashing, and, even without doing so, the girl's family could easily be controlled using nishta. If this girl truly is an agent of one of the System Lords, then it may prove fortunate that she was injured and thus came to our attention.”
“Alright then. Doctor Fraiser, do you have anything to add?”
The doctor simply shook her head, a wry smile quirking her lips slightly upwards.
“Sorry, general, but I've never heard of a 'be forgotten by everyone around you' disease, so I doubt I'll be able to say much about this girl without an examination.”
“Well, you'll have the opportunity to perform that examination soon, Doctor. Dawn Summers is already on her way here. As soon as this situation came to my attention, I sent an air force chopper to pick her up from Sunnydale Memorial Hospital. She should be here in about two hours.”
“Yes, Dr. Jackson.”
“What exactly happened to the girl, anyway? I mean, if she was some kind of alien infiltrator, then it seems a bit too coincidental that she was attacked just after arriving on Earth. I guess it's possible, but, well...”
The archaeologist trailed off, as General Hammond nodded again in acknowledgment of his point.
“That's the other issue which I would like Doctor Fraiser to look into. The doctors and police in Sunnydale are claiming that Miss Summers suffered a cutlery accident.”
Jack snorted, as the General continued.
“Yes. That's about how I feel about that story too, colonel. Apparently, Miss Summers nearly died from extremely severe, class IV hemorrhaging, and the local police are claiming that she tripped and fell onto a couple of knives and a fork.”
Janet's eyebrows rose so high that, for a moment, it seemed as if they might rise right off her forehead and take flight.
“I have to say, general, that while that story is technically possible, it's about the most unlikely cause of a class IV hemorrhage I can imagine.”
“That was my feeling as well, Doctor Fraiser. That's why SG-7 will be going to investigate Sunnydale directly, in order to sniff out any possible conspiracies and question the various people who claim to have never heard of Dawn Summers. Meanwhile, I want you and SG-1 to try to discover anything you can about this girl. For SG-1, this assignment will be secondary to your usual missions through the gate, but, Doctor Fraiser, when you do not have patients in need of critical care, I would like you to give the examination of this Summers girl top priority.”
“Understood,” Janet, replied, while the members of SG-1 nodded their consent.
“Good,” General Hammond replied. “Then unless there are any other questions, you're all dismissed. Let's get to work, people.”