Dawn woke up, and immediately wished she hadn't. She felt like every nerve in her body was screaming at her, as though she'd run a marathon, flipped over onto to her hands and run on them all the way back to where she started. Only worse.
At least she was in her own bed, though. Dawn could tell that much. Now, if only she could figure out what had happened, because unless she had been doing some crazy stuff while she was asleep, Dawn couldn't remember doing anything that might lead to her feeling the way she did.
In fact, Dawn couldn't remember anything past wheedling Buffy into letting her go to the Magic Box with her. So something must've happened on the way there. Or possibly at the shop itself - hadn't Buffy said Giles had been attacked?
Dawn could hear voices, speaking quietly. She couldn't understand what they were saying, but she recognized them nevertheless. Buffy and Joyce. Something bad must've happened if Buffy had gotten her mother involved - normally the Slayer tried to keep Joyce out of these things. If only Dawn knew what had happened!
Although, right now, Dawn was more concerned with her vision. She'd just opened her eyes, and she was sure that everything shouldn't look so washed out. It looked as though everything had had the colour leeched out of it, leaving faded replicas of what should be there.
Dawn had a scary moment when it suddenly occurred to her that maybe she was the one that was washed out. After all, something had happened to her to erase the memory of the last few hours (Dawn assumed it had been that long) and that might explain why Joyce and Buffy were talking to each other, rather than to her.
Maybe Dawn was a ghost!
The thought was scary enough for Dawn to override her aching limbs and force herself to sit upright, a groan forcing its way past her teeth as she did so. Instantly upon doing so, the voices stopped, and two faces poked around the doorway. It took Dawn several moments to realise who they were - they looked so colourless that she could hardly recognize them as her family. Dawn really hoped her eyesight would sort itself out soon, it was getting on her nerves.
"You're awake." Joyce said softly, coming up on one side to gently take her daughter's hand. Dawn struggled not to flinch from the pain the contact brought, but something must've shown on her face, because Joyce tried to take her hand away again.
But Dawn tightened her grip, focusing on the pain, the sensation of the hand in hers. The truth was, with her eyesight the way it was, everything had a somewhat ethereal quality to it, and it was reassuring to have something solid to focus on, even if it was only pain and her mother's hand.
"Are you alright?" Buffy asked gently. Her heart twisted to see her sister looking so pale, and with such dark shadows beneath her eyes. Dawn looked worse than she had when she had had the 'flu a few years ago - and then she'd been ill enough that Der Kindestod had nearly killed her.
Dawn hesitated a moment whilst she pondered about what she should say. It was doubtlessly obvious that she didn't look good - even if she only looked half as bad as she felt, she looked awful - but on the other hand she would rather not mention the eyesight thing, as she didn't want to worry her mother unduly.
So Dawn settled for saying, in as flippant a voice as she could manage "Oh, not too bad. Just like every nerve in my body is on fire, but other than that, just peachy." Then, after a moment, Dawn asked "What happened?"
Buffy looked at her, surprised. "Don't you remember?"
Dawn went to shake her head, reconsidered halfway through the action on account of the excruciating pain, and settled for looking at Buffy in a meaningful way.
Buffy got the message, and quickly explained about meeting with Giles, finding out about Toth, going to the junkyard, getting shot at by Toth, killing Toth, and Dawn pushing Buffy out of the way of one of Toth's blasts and taking it herself, and then carrying an unconscious Dawn home and staying by her bedside for the last few hours.
Dawn didn't remember it in the slightest. She had hoped that once she knew what had happened, she might begin to remember it, but even now her memory was as blank as before. And, even though her pain seemed to be fading away somewhat, her eyesight was still as bad as it had been when she had woken up.
On the other hand, Dawn had saved Buffy from - she wasn't entirely sure what. She doubted that all Toth had wanted was to incapacitate Buffy, but that was pretty much all that had happened to Dawn. Perhaps whatever it was that Dawn had been shot with worked differently on Slayers?
Which led to Dawn's next question. "Did Giles find out what I was shot with?" she asked.
Buffy shook her head. "No. He said it looked like a - umm, something with a funny name, a Fairy Gemini or something - but then muttered to himself that it didn't do what that was supposed to do. So basically, nada." Buffy finished with a smile when Dawn yawned enormously in the middle of her answer.
"I'm thinking that you need to get some sleep." said Joyce fondly. Dawn would've nodded, but she didn't quite manage it - she had already nodded off.
General Hammond was watching the video feeds from each of the individual cells he had ordered SG-1 - both
SG-1's - be put into. They were still unconscious, even hours after - whatever it was that had happened.
Hammond wondered what had happened. According to every diagnostic that the technicians had run on the Stargate, it was working absolutely fine, and there was no way that it could've malfunctioned.
It also didn't explain why the 'gate wasn't working now. Hammond had planned to send a MALP through to the Tok'ra meeting point, but the seventh chevron simply wouldn't lock. No matter which planet was dialed.
Furthermore, Hammond had no idea why, of all the members of SG-1, Daniel was the only one without a duplicate. He would've thought that, if this was due to something that SG-1 had been exposed to on one of their missions, Willow would the one unaffected, as she had been on less missions.
Despite Dr Fraiser's protests, Hammond had forbidden her to examine the team. He remembered when SG-1 had been replaced by robots, what Daniel had found on the other side of the quantum mirror, even the fake SGC the team had been trapped in by Hathor. There were simply too many explanations for what was going on, and until they found out, Hammond wasn't going to let anyone near SG-1 unless they were wearing hazmat suits, and even then only if necessary.
Hammond caution was only increased when he noticed that all nine of them were regaining consciousness at the same time, despite each of them being in different cells. Something odd was going on here - and given that people here went to other planets on a daily basis, that was saying something.
The General wanted to speak to Sam - one of the Sams, anyway. Hopefully there wasn't any difference between them. There certainly wasn't one that he could see - first, because Carter was the most brilliant physicist he had, and if see if she could get the 'gate working again.
Assuming, that is, that Sam wasn't a threat of some kind.
Meanwhile, back in Sunnydale, Buffy was going to drop by the Magic Box - she had no doubt that Giles was there - and tell him Dawn's symptoms in the hope that it would help him find out whatever it was that Toth had shot her with.
Buffy was also going to tell Giles that Dawn was hiding something. Buffy knew her sister well, and she could generally tell when Dawn was trying to hide something from her. It probably wasn't anything serious - Dawn had seemed pretty much as normal it is possible seem when looking rather more than half dead - but Buffy didn't like it anyway.
However, all thoughts of Dawn were driven from Buffy's head as she saw a brightly glowing green ball of... something floating slowly towards her.
Normally, Buffy wasn't afraid of this kind of thing. But something told her that it would be best to get as far away from this thing as possible. Buffy suspected that it was because, as the ball over them, the paving stones would bend and distort like looking at the world through a glass of water. Although they went back to normal after the ball passed, Buffy didn't want to find out what would do to something organic.
So Buffy crossed the street and sprinted to the Magic Box, noticing as she did so that the ball changed direction and made as if to follow her. Buffy ran as only a Slayer can run.
Buffy didn't notice that, after she'd left the ball behind, it pulsed once, emitting a blinding flare that lit up the whole street. She also didn't notice that this covered up the sudden appearance of some kind of insectoid creature that went scuttling into the sewers, or that the ball vanished. Buffy just wanted to tell Giles what she had seen.