I So Don't Think So!
Disclaimer: I don't own either the Buffy verse or the Marvel verse. See previous disclaimers.
I would like to thank my Beta MissE.
And a big thank you to all those who reviewed.
Stark Tower, Rooftop.
The one simply known as the Ancient One looked at the scene in front of him and smiled. On the surface it looked like his student Stephen Strange was in a staring contest with the Avatar of the Green Mother.
On the astral plane the picture was much different. Invisible 'Crimson Bands of Crytok' hog tied Stephen in a hilarious configuration. 'So the little red tree has a sense of humor. That's good to know.'
He dipped his head in respect. "Greetings young Avatar."
"Hi. You're the Ancient One. Aren't you?"
"That I am. May I ask, why is my young, but still apparently foolish apprentice hog tied?"
"Oh sure. He's a poopy head and wants to take away our Dawnie..." she pointed to Dawn, "...kept telling him that she's no longer who he thinks she is, but he won't even listen so, I kinda had to get rough."
"I see. May I ask why the bunny ears?" his amusement evident.
"A friend was deathly afraid of them for some reason, whenever the occasion warrants, I try to see if I can find others who are, and it's easily reversible. 'Sides he has that evil rabbit look. It just felt appropriate." she shrugged.
The Ancient One looked at Dawn and saw the rest of the gathered heroes around her. He noticed that she had the residual energies of the key in her aura, and that she was standing with Asguardians, a newly hatched cosmic cube, if he was not mistaken, and marvels of all sorts.
"Why does your young friend have the residual energies of the Key in her aura?"
"Well...she used to be the Key. The monks guarding her were under attack by Glorificus were trying to send it to someone to protect. They must have tried a few mystical champions, but for some reason no one answered their pleas. So they asked the Almighty to grant her a soul and send it to 'The Slayer' to protect. To make sure the slayer gave her all they made the key out of her and sent it in as her sister. This way she was sure to do everything in her power to protect the Key, including sacrificing herself to keep her safe. Their gamble worked. After Glorificus used the Key to blast open the gates of the multiverse the energies of the key were released and Dawn was left behind. Sure she has an affinity to portal magic, but she's no longer the Key."
The Ancient One nodded his head as he listened to Willow's tale and expanded his senses to their utmost. His examination bore fruit. "You are correct she is no longer the Key, but she can be when she wants to be. The energies of the Key are at her beck and call. She can access them anytime she wants, and the essence of the Key is woven into her very soul. She can ascend into the Universal Key any time she wants, but for now I think her human nature will take precedence until she outgrows human concerns." He turned away from his examination back to his student. He gestured for Willow to please remove the gag. Willow reluctantly did as he requested. She could always silence the arrogant ass. "Stephen, why are you so set on removing this young woman from her family?"
"Master, you did not see her in her giant form. When I saw her in that transformed state her very essence screamed the Key at my senses. She might not be the Key when she's back to normal, but the moment her human shell transforms to something else the Key will be revealed to anyone with eyes to see."
"Listen, you. Just 'cause you have a bit of power it doesn't mean you can decide to do whatever you want. The Creator was asked to grant her a soul to house the Key. Are you saying that you know better than the Creator? That you, the somewhat mighty Mage, are better at deciding who does or doesn't get a soul? Who died and made you the one responsible for the actions of the higher beings?" She looked at the Ancient One with her Willow face of absolute seriousness. "If you guys even try to take her, you'd better be ready for a war. She's family and we will challenge heaven and earth for her."
Dr. Stephen Strange, for the very first time today, got the feeling that someone just walked across his grave. He knew Rosenberg was powerful and she was skilled at her craft, but when she let her power flare like that it almost made him shit his pants. He was worried about the Key. Maybe he should be worried more about Willow Rosenberg.
"While my apprentice gathers his thoughts I don't endorse his actions, but I am worried about her ability to be used as a conduit to access the pathways of Eternity. Until she can defend herself against all she must stay hidden in the form made for her by the Heavenly Master. Even I am challenged to detect the essence of the Key in this form, but if my student was could detect the Key in her when she transforms her human shell, then so could the other powers. For her own protection she must stay confined to her birth form."
Willow frowned. She was in deep thought. She could see the Ancient One's point. Xander and his Team could keep Dawn safe against most things that can reach Earth, but if Dawn was ever kidnapped and taken to another dimension, when she transformed there her protections would be nullified. To keep her safe she would have to either restrict her movement or restrict her ability to transform out of her protected shell. 'Damn. Damn and double damn. I hate making these decisions. She looked at the old master and made up her mind. The Ancient One could see that the young Avatar had reached a decision. "I'll take care of it," she promised.
"That's not good enough. We must..." The gag came back and the rest of Dr. Strange's speech was muffled.
His master gave him a disapproving frown. *Stephen not now. The young Avatar has a difficult task ahead of her. Do not distract her with your foolishness.*
Strange stopped struggling against the restraints that bound him as he listened to his master's thoughts. Out of respect to the Ancient One he would stop trying to force the issue, but he promised himself that he would keep a close eye, from this moment forward, on these gathered heroes and one Dawn Summers to make sure that the Key was never detected or released, even if he had to join their company to keep that promise.
He saw a man with one green, and one brown eye approach. "Wills, are we done here?" he looked at Stephen and smirked. "Nice chains, Wills, all glowy, and shiny, but why the bunny ears?"
"Xander, you can see that? They're on the astral plane, you're not supposed to see them."
Xander shrugged, "Whatever. If you're done with your rabbit obsession we have a slight transportation issue to deal with." He pointed his thumb at Thor and Loki.
"In a sec. Almost done." she turned to the Ancient One, "I'll do what I must, but you will leave my family alone," she said, the threat of ‘or else’ was very clear.
The Ancient One bowed his consent. He knew that it was a difficult decision to make and appreciated her strength of character in choosing to do the binding herself. He would guard against any other-worldly intruders that might seek the Key. As he was sure Stephen would do the same.
"Resolve face Wills? It's that serious?" Xander asked.
"Yeah, it looks like there are some complications."
"What are we talking about here?"
Willow explained the situation in detail. As the One Who Sees she knew he would spot any crap she tried to come up with and as Xander he could read her like an open book. When she was done, she could see that he was not happy. She saw him look at both Strange and the Ancient One.
"I don't agree with this half-assed decision. I know there's a better way. You are acting out of panic. Willow, there's a better way than to bind her. Find it. You two had better keep away, or I will be visiting you when you least expect it, and if you think that binding her soul to her body is okay, then you won't mind my binding your souls to this," he threatened them by pulling out the Black Sword.
"Xander, No. They're good guys. They just don't have a choice. I'll be the one who does the binding, and when Dawn is strong enough to stand on her own I'll be the first to release her, but we're doing this to keep her safe."
"Wills, there's always someone out there who's more powerful or smarter and trickier than you are. Dawn has to have the freedom to grow into herself without such restraints. What would you do if someone tried to bind you?"
Willow thought about that, and about the time she lost control to the dark side. She wouldn't have minded too much if someone had bound her back then. She would have deserved it for trying to end the world. If it wasn't for Xander...she still didn't like thinking about that pain filled period of her life. But this was different. Wasn't it?
"That's a soul drinker." the Ancient One Observed.
"Yes it is. Wanna make something of it?" Xander's smile sent a chill down the Ancient One and his student's spines. The Ancient One looked closely at the man in front of him and examined him with his senses. 'Another being of power. An Asgardian Primal Master with a soul drinker for a weapon. Can you say Mage killer? I do not need to deal with this crap when I am so close to joining the universal harmony. Let Stephen deal with these headaches.
"What guarantees do you give, Black Knight? The Key must be protected."
Xander looked grim. He looked at Willow and after a quick mental meeting they came to a decision. "We will take responsibility for her until she comes into her own. Neither I nor my sister will leave her alone. From now on either I or Willow will guard her, until she can kick anyone's ass that comes for her. I swear this on my very soul. No one is getting through me to get to my Dawn. Do you understand?"
"We do! The responsibility is yours. Guard her well. Come, Stephen, we shall take our leave."
With a wave of his hand that was just for show, the Ancient One and his student disappeared with a pop of air.
"Willow, how could you? You shouldn't have let them back you into a corner like that..."
"Xander! It's not that simple..."
"...when it comes to our family, Willow...it is that simple. I would do the same for any of you." The ‘so should you’ was left unsaid.
Willow got the message. After all she had graduated from the school of life with a degree in Xander when she was just a teen. She knew him to his very hard steel core. He was her Xander and she was his Willow. He would always be there to guide her back from the abyss of send her there if it was ever needed. It was nice to have a safety net like that. She gave him her best ‘I'm proud of you’ smile, hooked elbows and went to see what she could do to help him with his new friends.
Xander smiled back at her. No matter what he would always be there for her and all his girls.