Dawn watched the clock tick slowly past midnight. Her sister, asleep next to her, had rolled towards the window and nearly off of the bed. Willow was on the other bed in the room. Her sleep was restless, too, if her mutterings of purple sheep were any indication.
Dawn, however, had a mission. It didn't need her to get up or go chasing after who knew what. No, she just had to lie there and compare her memories. Something was... wrong.
The first Jack she'd met had claimed that they'd been waiting for her. He'd been otherworldly. The light shining in his eyes wasn't the sun or Heaven. It had been sooty – vile and evil – for all that he'd seemed calm, cool and pristine in his tuxedo.
The second Jack, though. He'd been unkempt: a bit of a stubble on his face, his flannel shirt mostly unbuttoned. His smile had been relaxed and easy, even though his eyes were so sad.... The light in them was almost fey. It was knowing but not malicious.
What the heck was going on here?
The snow didn't let up for days. By the time they could finally see outside, the first floor was almost completely buried. There would be no snowman building for this crew.... Unless they wanted to climb out of a window on the second floor.
The general consensus to that was 'no thanks.'
Willow silently handed her notes to Dawn, then headed for the coffee pot. Buffy was dissecting one of Andrew's home made cinnamon buns, while Giles took a few minutes to read something recreational – though none of the Scoobies could see how 'A Tale of Two Cities' was recreation. Xander was going over his own notes on the condition of the hotel. Andrew had pulled his pan flute out of its case and was playing 'a jaunty little tune,' as Spike would have put it.
Dawn would have been worried, but she was fairly sure no self-respecting demon would be summoned by 'Farmer in the Dell' and – if they did – she just had to see what kind! She was willing to bet that it would be an imp at best.
She went over Willow's notes. Then re-read them. Her eyes slowly rose to meet the witch's. If this was right....
Willow met her gaze steadily. There was no deceit there, not that Dawn could see. She swallowed. It was a terrifying prospect. She couldn't see her sister allowing the attempt. Best not to mention it to her, then.
It was almost one in the morning on a new moon, three days and a night since she first saw what Willow handed her. Dawn slipped carefully out of the bedroom. Willow was beside her. Buffy, still asleep thanks to a little mystical intervention on Willow's part, just let out a snore.
The two glided down the hallways, as quiet and nearly as invisible as the ghosts that haunted the hotel. They eased down the stairs. They managed not to make a single sound on the aged wood. Dawn was certain her heartbeat could be heard for miles.
They crossed the basement and stood on either side of the pentagram. They shared a glance, each trying and failing to reassure the other. Dawn drew the ceremonial knife out of her pocket and knelt by the Seal.
“Ego sum viam apertor.”
Her voice echoed weirdly in the space, but she ignored it and the faint sound of dust shifting.
“Ego sum custos claustra.”
Her hair stirred back from her face. Willow, across the seal from her, was keeping herself centered so that her own energies didn't interfere with the spell. Her presence hadn't been necessary, but Dawn felt better for it.
“Ego sum qui sinit ostium.”
The door at the top of the stairs briefly slammed open, only to close. She could hear Giles and Buffy yelling on the other side. She didn't know if the house had woken them or if Buffy had thrown off the sleep spell. Either way, she didn't care at the moment.
“Avertam istam viam.”
Xander, upstairs with the others, yelled about getting an axe and breaking down the door with it. Dawn fought to keep her attention on the ritual.
“Suscito castigabat obiectu.”
The seal was glowing. She closed her eyes as the fine dust in the room flew around her.
“Ego nega introitum.”
There was the sound of an axe rebounding off of the door after trying and failing to bite into the wood.
The green energies of the Key welled up in her hand, coalescing in her palm. She ignored the raging winds and dust scouring her face. She drew her blade across the light and dribbled it on the seal....
Silence. The dust hung there, frozen in mid-air.
Her energy rushed out of her, faster and faster. Green strands laced across the seal. They reached out into the hotel and wrapped around something unseen, before pulling whatever it was – screaming and writhing – into the glowing amalgam that was slowly formed. Green fire lanced through it, around it, melting it. The heat built and built and built. The metal bubbled and smoked. Then, at last, it vaporized and was no more.
Dawn collapsed to the side, giggling. Willow, almost as exhausted from tension, fell the opposite direction. “Too bad we can't destroy every Hellmouth that way.”
“Couldn't if I wanted to.”
Willow turned her head and raised her eyebrow.
Dawn laughed lightly. “Buffy is never going to let me near one ever again.”
Six months later, the Council had managed to move copies of most of their Archives into what was once a secondary ballroom. The basement ritual area had been cleansed repeatedly. The main ballroom had – much to Dawn's disgust – been turned into a gym for the Slayers. Comfortable and classy beds were replaced with bunks, and Slayers from age fifteen and up were calling the Hotel home for the summer.
She watched out the window, seeing Faith having a training session with some of the Sunnydale Slayers. Well, Faith called it a training session. Xander called it a cat-fight when he thought no one could hear him. Spike would have called it a murder in progress and then reached for the popcorn, blood and whiskey.
She felt the presence behind her and smiled. “How long are you going to hide from the others?”
“How long till you tell'em I'm here?”
She turned to face Jack. As usual, he'd found something to lean against. This time it was the bookcase by her bathroom door. “I haven't decided.”
“Well, there's your answer.”
She snorted. “Still no sign of the Other?”
He shook his head. “I think he wound up destroyed by whatever it was you did.”
“Good.” Dawn smiled and pondered how a key could open the lock attached to a doorknob – or throw a deadbolt home.
In the garden, a shadow swirled as the lion topiary it was attached to began to snarl.
Dawn's Spell of Closing
roughly designed by Google Translate
I am the opener of pathways.
I am the keeper of barriers.
I am the one who allows entrance.
I close this path.
I raise this barrier.
I deny entrance.
So mote it be.