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“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.”
– The Necronomicon The Key and the Gate
Everything was wrong. Everything. It had all fallen apart. Spike had tried to... Spike was missing. Tara was dead. Willow had gone nuts and was overloaded with dark magic. Willow had tortured and killed Warren. Everything had fallen apart.
Buffy kicked hard, the door smashing open, revealing a horrible scene. Dawn was cringing, terrified, and standing in front of her was a pale skinned, black veined and eyed version of her best friend. They had drifted apart after her resurrection, but despite all of the pain that she had been drowning in, Buffy still loved Willow. Seeing her like that hurt. It was like facing Angelus all over again, as once again Buffy had to fight someone she cared about.
“I think you need to get away from her,” Buffy said fiercely.
Willow smiled calmly. “Don't worry, I'm just about done.” Dawn screamed as Willow gestured, and Buffy's sister became outlined with a nimbus of green energy. The glow brightened, and soon Dawn became translucent, an outline of green energy in the shape of person.
“Buffy!” Dawn screamed, her voice full of terror and pain.
Buffy had killed for her sister, she had died for her, and even on her worst days since her resurrection she had climbed out of bed and lived for her. She hadn't been right since her death, a nearly constant numbness seeming to separate her from her own emotions. But in that moment, as Dawn screamed, Buffy felt all of her love for her sister, her flesh and blood. Dawn was a part of her, and she was dying.
“No, Dawnie!!!” Buffy screamed, diving forward. She touched Dawn, her hand going numb, her entire body jolted as though she had touched a live power line. Buffy screamed, her own voice joining with her sister's anguish as Willow completed her spell.
“Wait, why can't I... oh no....” Willow said, her voice shocked. Willow was a powerful magic user, but no one in the entire dimension truly understood the Key. She had thought that she could simply drain her as she did Rack, and in that she was very wrong. Willow had activated the Key, but had done nothing to properly control its powers, simply believing she could absorb them. As Buffy touched her sister, reality began to warp, and before the witch could do anything to stop it, time and space fractured, Dawn falling completely apart, the magic giving her human form collapsing.
The last thing Willow heard before she was knocked unconscious by the backlash of the Key exploding would haunt the witch for the rest of her days. Even Dawn's scream of pain as she decorporealized was nothing compared to the sheer anguish in her best friend's voice as Buffy watched Dawn fall apart under the onslaught of Willow's dark magic.
Before Buffy could do anything she found herself pulled into the crack in reality that had once been her sister. Fortunately, the stars were not properly aligned for the true use of the Key, and so moments later the rift in reality sealed itself. When Willow awoke, she found that the backlash of her failed attempt to absorb the power of the key had taken the dark magic from her, just as it had taken her best friend. Buffy and Dawn were gone, and it was all her fault. Too drained to absorb more power, she simply lay weeping until Xander and Giles found her.
* * *
Buffy had suffered much in her life, and her strong will had always seen her through any trial. She was grimmer, harder, and far sadder than before she was called, but she still remained mostly whole and sane after many years of standing between humanity and the darkness. But no matter how strong willed she was the only reason that she retained her sanity in those first moments was that she was so completely overwhelmed by the loss of her sister that she was unaware of anything that transpired. Her eyes stared unseeing into the empty chaos of the Dark Tapestry, but she remained unaware, and thus undamaged.
As she floated in the timeless void between nothing and everything, a glowing aura of green energy slowly spread from her hands up her arms and across her entire body. “Close your eyes,” a voice whispered in her mind. Slowly, mechanically, she did so, trusting her sister with her life.
“D... Dawnie?” Buffy choked out.
“Shh... it's okay, Buffy,” Dawn's voice seemed to surround her, coming from everywhere and no where all at once. “I'm here.”
“Where... Dawnie... I saw you die...”
“I know,” she said, her sourceless voice sad. “But I'm not just Dawn. I'm the Key as well. And I can feel it now. I'm more... and less. I'm returning to what I was before the Monks of Dagon summoned me to your world. Soon I'll rejoin the rest of my being, and I will be Dawn no more. But even when I no longer exist as myself, I will always love you Buffy. You may be human, but you are my sister, and this time I get to save you. You are within me, and I'll take you somewhere safe. I wish I could take you home, but its going to take time for me to reintegrate fully into myself, and until I do I won't have enough power to open a new way home for you, and if you stay here, even with your eyes closed you'll go insane. Mortal minds can't cope with this place.”
“No, Dawnie... please... I love you,” Buffy choked, tears pouring down her face.
“I know, and I love you too,” Dawn said, her voice gentle. “So much. As the Key and the Gate I never loved anything, never had a concept of love. But you and mom taught me that. And I'm okay. This
is the work that I
have to do. This time, I get to save you. I'll never die, but I won't live anymore either. So promise me, Buffy. Promise that you'll live for me.”
“Then I'm okay. Don't cry for me Buffy, because I'm okay. I can feel how much this hurts you, but everything is okay.”
Buffy felt ephemeral lips place a gentle kiss on her forehead. “I love you Dawnie,” Buffy said. “And I promise, I'll live. I'll live for you.”
Even through her closed eye lids Buffy saw a bright flash of green light, and suddenly she felt a sensation of falling. With a great splash she hit cold water. Swimming to the surface Buffy gasped in air and looked up.
Above her head was a tear in space. Around it reality was bulged and distorted as though the cloudy sky was painted on a cloth that had ripped a great tear. Inside the tear Buffy could see a great black void speckled with glimmering stars. Whenever her gaze focused on one point that star seemed still, but whatever she failed to focus upon slowly moved about, dancing dizzyingly before her. The thing that caught her gaze, however, was a vast set of enormous shimmering spheres, iridescent like great soap bubbles, which, despite being spread about above her, pulsing and shimmering, gave her the impression that whatever it was was in fact a single great entity. As she stared up at it a single green sphere slowly drifted away from the tear, moving back towards the remainder, and Buffy knew, looking at it, that it was her sister. Her gaze remained locked onto it, even as she knew on some deep, subconscious level that its gaze was locked upon her, until finally the tear in reality closed, leaving Buffy stranded alone in a strange dimension, treading water in a cold lake. Author's Notes
I decided to start with a different jump off point for a crossover. Basically, Buffy was a little slower finding Willow during the Season 6 episode Two to Go, and Willow had already started to use her magics on Dawn. I took Buffy's first line from that episode. As Lovecraft fans should hopefully recognize, I'm saying that Dawn is in fact a fragment of the entity called the Key and the Gate, also called Yog-Sothoth. The quote from the Necronomicon comes from H. P. Lovecraft's story “The Dunwich Horror”.
This story uses material from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As per their policy, I'm adding the following disclaimer, which applies to all of their material used within my story:
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