How to start? Well, how about with the beginning? That was always a good place.1 November, 1997Well, last night went rather different than I had expected. Yesterday I had already explained that Sara and Jane weren’t able to come with me, but as I later found out that was only the start of my troubles.When I wanted to leave mom stopped me from going alone and demanded! that I’d go with Buffy and her friends. Apparently she didn’t think it was safe here, and to be honest I’m not sure I like the fact that I now know she was right.
With a sigh Dawn put down the pen for a moment, and wondered if her mother actually knew what was going on in Sunnydale. Would her mother have lied to her as well? It was bad enough that Buffy had, but her mother? Well, that was just another thing she’d need to ask her sister. Once Buffy had actually woken up that is.
A look through the open window showed her that the sun had barely risen over the horizon. Knowing Buffy, that meant it would be a couple of hours before she’d actually wake up. After all, she was always late in the weekend. Okay, so apparently she had a good reason for that. But she had only found out about that reason last night. Not that sleep was bad. In fact, Dawn wouldn’t mind catching a couple of hours herself, but she couldn’t. Every time she closed her eyes, she once again saw-
Right. Let’s continue writing then.Anyway, since I’m now aware of the things that stalk the night, it might be best if I wrote that information down here. Last night proved it might be necessary to do things like that, just in case I’m the next one to get possessed, or lose my memory, or something. Now then, the incredible account of what happened during the Halloween of 1997.It was a dark and windy night... Okay scratch that, it wasn’t all that dark, it was rather warm, and there was hardly any wind. But really, should facts like that stand in the way of a good tale? I mean as far as ghost stories go this was probably one of the best. Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a twist, I’m writing.Oh my god, I just thought of the only thing that might be even worse then all the other things I was planning to write about. I think I might have a crush on Xander, Buffy’s friend, and even worse Buffy knows about it!!!!!!Okay Dawn, just relax there isn’t anything to worry about here. You haven’t really done anything bad yet and with everything that has happened you might not even feel like that anymore.
No, she wouldn’t have written down something like that yesterday. No matter how silly she had been, there were limits. Taking some correction fluid, she blotted out that last paragraph and waited for it to dry.
A waiting that soon turned into thinking about the crush. And as she didn’t want to do that, she looked for a distraction. Her writing was more than adequate for that. Looking over what she had written, Dawn was rather disappointed. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as the note she had written to Mireil-. No! She hadn’t written that note: that had been Kirika and she wasn’t real! Just because she had the memories of that girl didn’t mean she was anything other than a figment of her imagination. Right?Okay then, like I said I went with Buffy, Xander and Willow to go steal candies from little old ladies (Xander’s words! Not mine!). By the way, he thought I looked cute! *sigh* We had to pick up some children as well, since Buffy had gotten detention or something, I have to agree with her about the principal though, and I really hope he’ll be fired before I have to go there. Now then, when we were underway, oh I forgot about the stories I told Xander and Willow! That was before we went to pick up the children, and I told some very good ones about Buffy that were meant to embarrass her, although she didn’t play fair and told them some about me.But back to the story. We had collected the kids, and were doing the rounds, and I was hoping not to run into anyone I knew, despite the promise I had forced out of Buffy. She said that we ran into anyone I knew, I could go with them. And all I had to do for that was promise I’d be back on time, and not to tell the others about THAT incident. Wait a minute... would that promise still count after what happened? Does it matter anyway? I just said I wouldn’t tell them then. I’ll have to think about that. Anyway, while getting away from Buffy would have been nice I didn’t want to leave Xander alone with her as she’d probably try to steal him away from me.But then suddenly, after some seriously weird stuff, everyone changed into their costumes! I still can’t really believe it: magic is real and Buffy knew about it but didn’t tell me! Later I also talked to Cordelia, another of Buffy’s friends but one that I actually like. As long as she’ll stay away from Xander that is, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that. And she implied that Buffy was something called a Vampire Butcher, or something like it.That title is probably wrong, but I’ll just have to ask Buffy what it really is. The whole thing might explain why she burned down that gym though, as described in this diary a long time ago. Buffy did say it had something to do with a master vampire. I wonder what the difference is compared to a normal one?This would mean that Buffy is something of a hero, and I’m not sure I like that. Especially since she probably does the whole secret identity thing. I mean, she didn’t even tell me! Her own sister! It might be nice if I could use the truth at school to counter all those stories about her; that way I might receive the respect I deserve instead of being treated like the sister of a psycho. But aside from the secret identity thing, there’s also the fact that nobody would believe me. Buffy said that everyone will have forgotten about what happened by Monday! Can you believe that? This town must have the highest percentage of fools in any city, and that’s without counting Buffy. I have made a decision though: due to the danger the actual situation in Sunnydale presents, I’ll have to convince mom to let me learn some martial arts. That way I can protect myself; just in case I can’t run away.
Not that the actual teaching would do her any good, but it would help her with her getting into shape.
Reading everything over again for any inconsistencies with the story the world was allowed to know, Dawn was fairly certain this was how she would have written the events of last night if nothing had happened to her. After all, it was pretty stupid to try to deny that she really hadn’t changed. Just because she wasn’t entirely ready yet to deal with the other personalities.
Having approved of that entry, Dawn then picked up a still empty journal, and started a new entry in that. This time using Kanji characters. Symbols she would have barely even recognized two days ago.The events of the previous night have shown me that it would be best if I kept some basic information in a place that I can easily access.This first entry will state the basic facts about my life. This is to ensure I will have access to it in case something similar to last night happens, or I lose my memories in some other ways. The reason for this is that it will prevent anyone else from discovering that something has happened to me.My name is Dawn Summers, but unknown to others I share my mind with the Anime character Kirika Yumura, who possessed me during Halloween ’97. Kirika is, or was, a professional assassin, trained practically from birth. Much of her past is shrouded in mystery: unknown to even herself due to the removal of her memories. Her exact age was unknown to her as well, but when she first met her partner, Mireille, Kirika was between 14 and 16 years old.The possession took place about half a year after that initial meeting, and I have clear memories of the events that took place during those months. On my own part, I was twelve when this possession took place although, as already stated, nobody is aware that I was affected. My parents are divorced and I live with my mother, Joyce, and sister, Buffy.
She then wrote down a description of both her mother and sister, followed by some basic facts about the life she’d had up until the day before. This took quite some time, but checking the time she realized she still had time before her sister woke up. More than enough actually to allow her to continue with this important task.Other important facts are as follows: Because of the possession I have knowledge about a large number of subjects, but since I do not yet know if they’re all in accord with the real world I’ll only state that I’ve got a quite extensive knowledge of languages, martial arts, and weaponry.The most important fact of all is that magic is real.Magic is a word used to describe the ability to alter the physical world through unnatural means. This has several consequences. First of all, it means that potential targets exist who might possess the knowledge to use this power. Beware of that. I have had only one encounter with magic so far, but that has already shown me that the possibilities are endless. It is therefore important that I find a way to protect myself against this.Another important consequence is the fact that vampires exist. These are supposedly mythological, undead, creatures that can only be killed by impaling them in the heart with wood, cutting of their head, or burning them until nothing is left but ashes. Bullets and knives are moderately effective in crippling areas, but can not be counted on to finish the job. As far as I know the other effective means of defending against these creatures consist of sunlight (UV radiation?), holy water, holy icons, and garlic. This information needs verification as it mostly comes from sources that cannot be fully trusted.
Well, that was one way to describe movies and she really hoped it wouldn’t be necessary for her to ever have to rely on the information in here, but then, this was just in case.
Waking up had never been Xander’s favorite pastime, but he knew that he couldn’t put it off indefinitely. So, still half asleep he got up, made sure his bunk could pass inspection, and rooted around in his locker for his shaving kit. He couldn’t find it though, and figuring he’d probably left it in the bathroom—a stupid move if there ever was one—Xander moved on to the bathroom to complete his usual morning routine.
Despite his sleepiness, he did immediately notice that the kit wasn’t here either. Blurily looking around the small bathroom—small? When did that happen?—he couldn’t find it, and he swore that he’d find some decent payback for whichever of his fellow soldiers had been so funny.
Running his hands over his face, in an attempt to discover how bad the stubbles were, Xander only encountered smooth skin. Looking into the mirror, he confirmed that weird discovery. Well, that and the fact that he looked pretty young. That was really strange, but his fuzzy mind clearly wasn’t ready to deal with something like that yet. A conclusion that obviously told him he needed to clear his mind. Something that could be achieved fairly easily. As waiting any longer was unnecessary, he stepping into the shower and turned the cold water full on.
Clearing his mind did not give him the effect he’d expected, and caused him to express that in the same words he’d used the night before. “Oh shit.”
The shock as he was once again faced with the memories of what had happened the night before prevented Xander from even noticing the ice-cold water as it streamed down his back. Okay, something funky was going on now. He still had the memories—well what memories the guy actually had—and some of the traits of the soldier who had possessed him during Halloween.
That probably wasn’t what was supposed to happen, and- Cold! Cold! “Cold!” Jumping out from under the streaming water, he desperately tried to turn the shower off. When he finally succeeded, he stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his body in an attempt to get warm again.
Throughout the whole shivering deal—why had he used cold water? There was a reason heaters were invented—he tried to figure out what he should do. Okay, the short list was, well pretty short actually. First he needed to think about what had happened.
In the end everything had happened so fast and, with Buffy tearing of to find Dawnie, he didn’t even find out what exactly had happened. Well, he knew his own actions, and while it didn’t hurt anymore he could definitely remember Cordy’s answer to his behavior. But that still didn’t tell him much. What he wanted—needed—to know was who was behind it, and how much had he suffered when he was finally stopped.
Which meant that the second point on his list was talking to Giles. G-man would know what had happened, and maybe even how they could stop it from happening again. As well as explain why he was still suffering from a bad case of soldier-personality. Yes, that was a good plan, Xander thought while walking out of the bathroom.
Which meant he now knew exactly what he had to do. When he started pulling on his clothes however, he admitted to himself that there was something else that needed to be done as well. After all, he hadn’t exactly been very kind to either Buffy or Willow, and he probably should find a way to make up with them.
Undoubtedly this would include some serious groveling, but if that was what it took for either of his girls to actually look at him again, so be it. He could be lucky though, at least with Buffy as she might be so distracted with the whole ’Dawn now knows about the Sunnydale nightlife’ thing that there was a chance that she’d forgotten about it. A low groan came out of his throat as Xander realized just how unlikely that was, and even in the unlikely case that would happen he didn’t doubt that Cordelia would make a comment to remind his friend.
Sighing, he finished dressing and walked downstairs. He debated having breakfast, but with both of his best friends still angry at him he wasn’t all that hungry. Well, he was. He just didn’t feel like eating. And maybe if he didn’t wait too long before going to Willow he’d be able to eat with them. If she forgave him that is.
Which she was sure to do. If he managed to come up with a way to get back in her good graces.
His actions last night might not yet be at a Barbie-stealing level, but Willow had been pretty mad so it had better be something good. Getting his coat, he slipped out of the door into the far too early morning. Apparently the soldier wasn’t only a neat freak, he got up early as well. Wasn’t his life the best?
Buffy woke up with a scream trying to escape from her throat, but managed to keep it inside. There was no point in waking up the entire house just because she had a bad dream. Although she was slightly surprised that she hadn’t heard Dawn. Maybe her sister would be able to deal with reality.
But she could talk with Dawn later to find out for herself, right now there was her own lack of decent sleep. She hadn’t had this bad a night since she’d been newly called, and she had a good idea about the cause as well. Not that difficult when you considered that she’d been pestered by dreams of vampires and demons kidnapping her little sister the entire night. Dreams that she feared might someday become reality now that Dawn was aware of what was out there. For a moment she briefly indulged herself in wishing that Dawn didn’t know anymore about the real world than she had this time yesterday.
Wishing was useless though—and probably dangerous to do on the Hellmouth—and she had something else to think about. Not all of her dreams had concerned Dawn: one dream had been different. She was pretty sure actually that it was a Slayer dream, which meant that she needed to tell Giles about it. Especially as this dream was about as disturbing as the ones about Dawn.
With disturbing clarity she could still see the shocking images of how her her soul-mate was killed by... something. The details of the event itself had been a little unclear, but she would ask Giles to look into the green glowy thing that had killed him in her dream. She would not allow anyone to kill those she loved, be they her sister or boyfriend.
Having written down the dream, Buffy dressed and walked downstairs; where she became aware of a strange and unexpected smell. What? Was Giles here? Continuing to the living room she wondered what her Watcher would be doing here. Had he come to tell her what had happened last night?
Upon entering the room however she stopped dead in her tracks. No, it couldn’t be. That was just impossible. Her own sister had betrayed her.
“Dawn,” she almost begged only to see her sister’s surprised face look back at her.
“What’s wrong Buffy?”
Why was the girl suddenly whispering? “Why are you drinking tea?”
It was obvious the girl didn’t understand why it upset her so. “Because I felt like it? What’s wrong with drinking tea?”
“Only British people in tweed drink tea, like Giles. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. What if he finds out about it? He might decide it is important for me to drink it as well.” Why couldn’t Dawn understand how terrible this could turn out to be?
“I’m sure that he won’t be able to force you to do anything, and besides you wouldn’t listen if it was mom who told you to do something like that so why would you listen to this Giles? For that matter, who is Giles?”
Oh yeah. Now that her sister knew part of what was going on she shouldn’t assume the girl knew everything, although she feared that might not last long. Sometimes the annoying brat was far too clever, and usually used that against her. Which was even more unfair as Buffy never did anything to antagonize Dawn.
“That’s part of the explanation you wanted to wait with until today. Would that be now or later, I mean I can wait until tomorrow or next week as well if that would be better.” Or even next year. Never would be a rather good option as well.
“No need to wait. Once I’ve finished reading the paper we can talk.”
Read the paper? Okay, now she was starting to believe something was wrong with her sister. “Are you sure that you weren’t affected last night?”
“Let’s see, you drink tea, which I’ve never seen you do before. You read the paper, which I don’t even do most of the time, and you are whispering instead of talking normally.”
Dawn blinked at that, before offering an explanation that was so obvious that Buffy could almost hit herself for not realizing it herself. “I think I got something of a cold last night, my throat hurts which is why I don’t talk loudly and drink the tea. I don’t want mom to know. She’d probably stop me from going out. Please don’t tell her?” The pleading innocent looking eyes convinced Buffy. If her sister had indeed been possessed by a cold-blooded killer she could never look that innocent, could she? She wasn’t entirely certain about any lingering effects of the spell—as she didn’t really notice any—but from experience she knew magic always had nasty side-effects.
“Okay, I won’t tell mom. Sorry about that, but what about the paper?”
The look on Dawn’s face was one she knew far too well, and Buffy wished she hadn’t asked that. Every time her sister adopted a superior look like that it was to show her that she was being silly. Not something she liked. “Now that I know what’s going on in this town, I thought it would make sense to have a look at the papers, and find out what they have to say about everything that happens.”
“Oh, well Willow or Giles usually do that. I just focus on the beating up part.” When Dawn gave her a reproachful look a that comment, Buffy simply shrugged and went into the kitchen to get some breakfast. Being reprimanded about those things by Giles was bad enough, but having her brat of a sister do it? That had to be avoided at all cost.
Preparing a sandwich, Buffy realized that she hadn’t seen her mother yet, and decided to ask about it. “Has mom left already?”
No answer came, and she realized that Dawn was probably bothered by her throat. Still, she could at least give some sort of reply. “Dawn? Has mom left?”
When she didn’t receive any kind of answer at this second attempt either, Buffy grumbled a bit and walked back into the living room. “Hey, I asked you a question.”
Her sister wasn’t paying any attention however as she was staring at the paper, and Buffy believed she could actually see tears appearing in the girl’s eyes. “Dawn? What’s wrong?”
Dawn finally lifted her head, and her haunted eyes looked at Buffy. “People died last night.”
Yeah. The realities of Sunnydale’s nightlife. “I know. I do my best, and I save most people, but sometimes a vampire manages to avoid me. I hate it when that happens.”
“A little boy died,” Dawn answered, seemingly ignoring what Buffy had just said.
“What? No, I thought they had all survived. Can I see?” Taking the newspaper from Dawn’s hand, she started reading the article.Gangwar during Halloween.Last night what appeared to be a gangwar shook up the normally peaceful Halloween in Sunnydale. While children were out to gather their yearly treats, a group of yet-unidentified people shook up the proceedings by starting fights. Reports of gunfire came from all over town keeping the police occupied for hours, and unfortunately preventing them from reacting to some reports in time.During one of these incidents, eight year old Mike Johnson became the victim of a cruel attack as he was slashed by a knife before being shot in the throat. While details concerning this event are still uncertain, it has been confirmed that the young child wasn’t found until hours after his parents had started searching for him, by which time the wounds had proved fatal.Many of the partying children had come under attack, and received multiple injuries. As of this writing, two children are currently in the hospital for serious injuries, while many others received less severe wounds. The police refused to comment on the fact that several children have also been reported missing.Aside from the children, a number of senior citizens suffered heart failures due to the fright caused by the attacks. When asked for comments, mayor Wilkins stated that he would personally ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again during Halloween.
“Oh no. Only eight years old and I failed him.” Hanging her head, Buffy pressed her eyes shut in a futile attempt to stop the tears from coming. But it wasn’t just the little boy who had died either, that was only the one who had been found already. She had truly believed that the children who were with Spike had been all. Now she knew better.
When she felt her sister’s small arms encircling her, Buffy gave up on repressing the tears and shared her grief with her sister: burying her face in Dawn’s shoulder while crying her heart out. “I failed them, I’m supposed to protect these people, and I failed them. I let a little boy die that I should have protected.”
Sitting in the park had always been a good way for Xander to get some undisturbed time to think things over. The number of good memories he had of this place was greater than anywhere else in Sunnydale. In fact, he only had to look at a particular spot to have his mouth curve into a smile as he remembered what had happened there.
It was right there where a ten year old Willow had first shown Jesse and him how she had used her mother’s make-up. Neither of them had understood what was so special about putting stuff on your face—mud always appeared there by itself—but there was one thing they knew about the stuff. It didn’t react well to water, and they just happened to have their waterguns with them. The fallout hadn’t been as bad as with the Barbie thing, but she had remained angry at both of them for quite some time. That hadn’t really mattered to them however as the memory of Willow’s face when the make-up started running was one he and Jesse cherished for years after. And managed to bring up every once in a while as well. Just to see how Willow would react to it.
Turning away from those pleasant memories he noticed a pirate walking through the park. Well, limping was more like it. Whoever that was probably didn’t feel very good. It was only when the figure was closer that he recognized who it was.
“Larry? What are you doing here? Don’t you know that Halloween was yesterday?”
“Shut up Harris.” But despite his words the boy moved to where Xander was sitting.
“What happened to you?” He asked when Larry eventually sat down—who only did so once he was sure that nobody would see him hanging around Xander.
“Someone put something in my drink last night. The last thing I remember before waking up was talking to Cordelia and some little girl.”
“Talking?” Somehow he had a feeling that he hadn’t been the only one on the receiving end of the brunette’s wrath last night. And if Larry was any indication he might have actually gotten out of it relatively well.
“Hey, it wasn’t my fault. Like I said, someone must’ve put something in my drink.”
“You were trying something? And let me guess, she nailed you between the legs?”
“Yeah, and not exactly gently either. How’d you guess?”
Fess up time, Xander. “Let’s just say that you weren’t the only one who’s, ah, drink was drugged.”
“She got you too?”
He only nodded. There wasn’t anything else he needed to say, although... “But that doesn’t explain why you’ve only now returned or the headache.”
“I really was messed up, I also bothered the little girl, and whoever she was had one hell of a kick.”
“And this little girl was with Cordy? Can you tell me what she looked like?”
“She was Japanese and dressed in some kind of weird gold costume. Ah shit, it still hurts.” And the burly boy once again grabbed his head in pain; too busy being miserable to pay any more attention to Xander.
Dawn? The only girl he had seen Cordelia with during Halloween had been her but that just didn’t make sense. Dawn wasn’t capable of doing things like that, was she? Maybe she was stronger because she was Buffy’s sister? No, that was a ridiculous theory, but what else could it be?
That didn’t really matter right now however. He could wonder about Dawn’s strange behavior later. For now he had some other questions that needed to be answered. More or less ignoring the groaning boy next to him, Xander started thinking about whatever had happened last night, and how it would affect him. By now he could remember everything that had happened during the spell and, more disturbingly, he knew how he felt about some of his actions. Part of him was shocked at the way he had treated his friends, but another part thought they had deserved it. No, not exactly deserved it but they shouldn’t have left those openings.
He also realized that was just an excuse, and a poor one at that. However, while he still needed to apologize to Willow for what he said, it wasn’t the most important thing on his mind. Suddenly he remembered he had also continuously insulted both Deadboy and Cordelia. Shaking his head he decided that wasn’t important either, Angel’s sole reason of existence was to be insulted, and Cordelia had given as good as she got, and not only verbally.
Looking at Larry he realized that if there was one person who didn’t take any bullshit it was Cordelia. And now, for the first time in probably his entire life he felt something that came pretty close to compassion for the groaning boy next to him. There was nothing he could have done about his behavior and yet he had been punished even harder by Queen C than he himself had been.
But that still left the two most important things. His actions towards Buffy had been inexcusable since he had made a conscious decision to go for it. The decision he had made at the end of the night—where he had been prepared to kill as many of the little children as necessary—was even worse though.
He would deal with that later though. After he’d made up with his friends. In the case of Buffy it would most likely require a lot of groveling—he rather doubted his earlier hopes would come true. He had really been an ass last night, hadn’t he?
Once he he’d made up with his friends he could try to figure out why he still knew how to fieldstrip an M-16, and was suddenly a neat freak. For that he would probably need Giles; luckily that at least was someone he hadn’t insulted yesterday.
I can kill people. I kill, and it saddens me.
The words kept going through Dawn’s head long after Buffy had stopped crying about her own failure to protect a little boy. A little boy who Dawn had killed. Once again she could see how the tiny monster had lunged for her, and how she’d eventually been forced—or at least no longer bothered with trying anything else—to pull the trigger.
She didn’t like the fact that she had killed an innocent, but did wish that she’d had the chance to finish the job. That would have prevented him from suffering for so long. Suffering because of the same spell that had affected her. A monster was dangerous, even small ones, but came up short when compared to the skill and determination represented by Noir.
And now she truly was a murderer, having killed with her own hands, and the victim had been a little boy who had merely been at the wrong place in the wrong time. A little like Mireille’s brother, who had died just because he was related to the beautiful blonde. No! He hadn’t been real: only a character about whom she had some memories.
But wasn’t reality defined by the memories one had?
When she had been without any memories she had gone to school until she found Mireille, and even then all her actions were defined by her lack of memories. Once those had partially returned she had become her other self, her darker self. The True Noir as Chloe would see it; the assassin who didn’t care about anything but her partner and the mission. The one person who was probably more messed up than even Chloe or Altena.
That person too was now a part of her, although luckily still separate. Which meant that Dawn was torn three ways over the death of the little boy. Part of her couldn’t feel anything but guilt about her actions, that was the real her. The only part to have existed for more than a day. But the rest of her mind... Where the gentler personality at least slightly regretted the fact that the boy had needed to die the other didn’t feel anything at all except contempt for such an easy target.
“Okay, what do you want to know?” Shocked out of her thoughts by Buffy’s words, Dawn regarded her sister for a moment. For a moment wondering if she should share her feeling of guilt with the older girl. But no, she would never understand how last night’s events had affected her, and would probably try to exorcise her, or something like that. It wasn’t like she really knew what was possible in this screwed up world she now found herself in.
“What happened last night?”
“You probably know as much about that as I do, since I had to go look for you last night I didn’t really get a chance to talk with Giles. But I’ll go there later, you wanna come?”
“Yes.” This Giles might know who was behind the events of last night, and that was something she wanted to know as well. Kirika’s promise from the previous night still lingered in her mind.
“Good, I can answer other questions you have.” Buffy sounded so nervous that Dawn wondered just how bad it all was, and how exactly Buffy was dealing with the fact that her little sister now knew about demons.
“Cordelia called you something like the Vampire Butcher, what does that mean?”
“Butcher!” Oh, so that wasn’t the correct title. “Did that bitch really call me that?”
“I could be wrong don’t be angry at her. She just said something like that to Willow, and she also mentioned that you were the one who deals with things like what happened last night.”
“You like her don’t you?” Buffy asked, sounding a little surprised.
“She was nice to me, although she shouldn’t have done that to Xander.”
“She kneed him in the, you know.”
“No way.” Buffy’s eyes bugged out in surprise at hearing that. “Why?”
Strange, she had thought the answer had been rather obvious. “You know how he was last night don’t you?”
The blonde’s face turned red, although Dawn couldn’t really tell if it was because of anger, or shame. “I remember, but that was still a little overkill, or don’t you think so?”
Oh, oh. If the glint in Buffy’s eyes was anything to go by, it might be a good thing to change the subject. Quickly. “Well, it was a little harsh, but if you’re not called the Butcher then what are you?”
“Okay, I’ll let it go for now, but we will talk about it. Alone or in public,” Buffy promised. Yikes! She wouldn’t do that to her favorite sister would she? “But to answer your question, I’m the Slayer. I’ll have Giles give you the whole speech thing later, and just tell you what it means for me.”
“Xander.” Oh boy, the reception was indeed as cool as he had feared. Not that it mattered, if he didn’t try to fix the damage now it would only get worse.
“Hey Wills. Can we talk?”
“And why would you want to talk to a working girl? Or was it a working ghost?”
Ouch, this was going to be harder then he had hoped it would be. “Look Willow, I’m really sorry about that but I wasn’t entirely myself you know.”
“Willow, who is it?”
“It’s Xander, mom!” Willow shouted back into the house.
“Ask him to come in then, I’m sure he’s hungry.”
“You aren’t forgiven yet, buster, and you will pay for those comments but you heard mom. Do you want to come in?”
“Thank you.” Xander told her, while hugging her. If nothing else, he might at least alleviate the empty feeling in his stomach. “You really are a better friend then I deserve.”
“You’ve got that right.”
“Giles?” Buffy called out in the seemingly empty library.
“I am here Buffy,” Giles answered while walking out from between the bookcases, still paging through a book. “I was just researching if we should expect any aftereffects from the spell.”
“Okay,” Buffy said, pretending to care. It was over with, wasn’t it? She didn’t really feel as if it affected her, and the only one she still worried about a little was Dawn but all it took to find out the truth about that was some quality time with her sister’s diary. “But hey, meet my sister. Dawn this is Giles, Giles, Dawn.”
Giles finally lifted his head from the book in surprise, and stammered a little when he noticed Dawn. “D-do you think it’s wise to bring her here?”
“She was with us last night when the spell happened, but luckily wasn’t affected herself.”
“Hello Giles, nice to meet you,” her little sister then interrupted while extending her hand in a greeting.
“Yes, quite. Nice to meet you too, Dawn. I’m Rupert Giles,” her Watcher answered the greeting while—after placing the book on the table—shaking Dawn’s hand. Having overcome his surprise at Dawn’s presence, he then reverted back to business. “You should have reported to me last night, Buffy.”
“I couldn’t! First I had to look for Dawn, and then mom wouldn’t let me leave the house because she was angry that I let Dawn stay out so late. Besides, I called didn’t I?” He really shouldn’t be angry at her, Buffy thought. She might not have had any intention of doing the reporting thing last night, but she was here now, wasn’t she?
“Calling wasn’t exactly sufficient. Especially since you only left a message on the bloody answering machine.”
“Hey relax, everything worked out fine, didn’t it?”
“This time perhaps Buffy, but I really think it would be better if you observed the proper forms when it comes to these things.”
Deciding she didn’t need the lecture she switched subjects. “Yeah, yeah. I’m here now so you can go and tell me all about the evil wizard who had decided to turn me into a brainless idiot.”
“As if that needed much.”
Without Slayer hearing she might have missed the remark but as she didn’t she threw a nasty look at her sister who was now looking at the musty books displayed in the cases.
“And thank you for that great show of sisterly love.”
“You’re welcome.” That wasn’t fair! Dawn was supposed to feel guilty after a sarcastic remark like that.
“Anyway,” Buffy started, while turning to Giles—if Dawn was acting like a brat, she’d be ignored like one. “What was the deal yesterday?”
“Ah, yes.” Polishing his glasses—why did he always have to do that?—Giles answered. “A man named Ethan Rayne was behind it.”
“Ethan? As in the costume shop?” Dawn piped up from where she was looking at books written in languages she couldn’t possibly understand.
“Quite, it seems as if he had enspelled all the costumes he sold, and then later triggered them by calling on Janus.”
“So how did you stop it then?” Buffy wanted to know.
“In the end it came down to destroying the statue he had used to trigger the spell.”
“And Ethan Rayne?” Wow, Buffy turned to her sister in surprise. She hadn’t ever expected to hear such hatred in the girl’s voice.
“Unfortunately he fled before I was able to apprehend him, and turn him over to the Council.”
“He’s still out there?”
“As I said, unfortunately yes. Although it is likely that by now he has fled Sunnydale.”
“Okay, well if he shows up again I’ll kick his ass for messing with me and my friends.”
“Yes, I do not doubt you would try to do so.” The Brit told her.
“Hey, like the little green guy said to whatshisname, do or do not, there is no try. And I will do.”
“Yes, yes. But you should be aware that Ethan is quite dangerous.”
Huh, it almost sounded if he knew the guy. “Do you know him or something?”
But he had already turned to Dawn to ask her why, unlike practically everyone else, she hadn’t bought her stuff at Ethan’s.
“Sara’s mom took us to this big shop about an hour’s drive from here.”
“Thank god.” Buffy muttered.
“What do you mean Buffy?” Giles wondered.
“She and those two friends of her decided to dress up like assassins from some Anime show. I don’t think having the three of them running around killing people would have helped the situation yesterday.”
“Oh.” Well, that had shocked Giles enough to make him start polishing his glasses. Again. “No, I don’t believe that would have helped. I take it your friends weren’t affected either.”
“They couldn’t come, and had to cancel. Which is why I was forced to go with milady there.”
“Dawn!” Why did the girl keep going on about that? Was it so much to ask for her to stop being so annoying? “Oh Giles, could you perhaps explain everything to her? You know, give your speech and stuff?”
“Buffy, I didn’t like having your friends help you, but I allowed that. However, if you believe that I would allow a little girl to fight as well you are sorely mistaken.”
“No! Dawn won’t fight, she doesn’t even know how to do that. But she wants to know about what’s going on and all. And you are way better then me at explaining that stuff.” Maybe a little flattery would help convince him. After all, if Giles didn’t explain things she would have to do it.
“Quite, well as long as you won’t try to do any of the fighting, I don’t see any harm in explaining things to you.” Giles told Dawn. Excellent work, Buffy congratulated herself, he always was a sucker for explaining things. “Now, unlike most people believe, the world didn’t start as a paradise.”
“Oh good, you’re here already,” Xander greeted Buffy when he and Willow entered the library.
After having been able to eat at Willow’s house the two of them had a long talk, which for the greatest part consisted of groveling on his part and a steady, but slowly decreasing, stream of accusations on hers. Eventually though he had managed to convince her that she really shouldn’t blame him for the mistakes that he’d made during the night before. And yes, he knew he had behaved very badly and yes, he was very sorry he had done so.
After all that groveling they had each told the other what had happened the night before and she had at least been sort of sorry for him about Cordelia’s action. Although he suspected that was more because of how she felt about the brunette than anything to do with him. He, on the other hand, had found out how she and Giles had finally managed to save the day and canceled the spell.
In the end they had decided to go to Buffy, but when she hadn’t been home they had turned to the place where she was most likely to be. And Xander still needed to talk to the Watcher as well, so he didn’t mind it at all.
“Hi Xander, Willow.” Dawn greeted them, turning momentarily from Giles with whom she was having a conversation.
“Hi Wills, Xander.” Oh yes, he had been right. Buffy still remembered his actions and if her cool tone was any indication he wasn’t done groveling yet.
“Buffy! Can I talk to you for a moment? Alone?” Good going Willow, butter her up a bit.
“Sure, he can go bothering the others.”
“Hey, it wasn’t me!” At the glare Buffy bestowed him he understood that she was going to be more difficult to convince of his innocence. “It wasn’t me.”
Seeing the two girls walk away for their private conversation Xander walked over to the ongoing discussion between the Dawnmeister and G-man.
“No, you can’t just say things like that happen on the Hellmouth.”
“It is the only explanation that makes any sense. Why else wouldn’t anyone remember these things when they happen?”
“Maybe it’s a cover-up. Some magic-user who doesn’t want people to know the truth, and stops them from remembering it. And not only magic, I mean I’ve lived here for over a year, but until yesterday I didn’t know anything about it. Some of those things Buffy described should have been noticed by reporters.”
“Yeah, G-man. Maybe she’s right and we’re dealing with a conspiracy. You know, I’ve never trusted that mayor guy.” It wasn’t really nice to take advantage of Dawn’s lack of knowledge about these facts, but he couldn’t resist teasing her. “He could be some kind of powerful sorcerer, and control the media so that he could implement his diabolical plan to stop people from littering.”
“Xander!” Dawnie whined. “Don’t be like that, I’m serious here. Blaming everything on the Hellmouth is just an excuse to stop looking for a real reason.”
“Sorry Dawn, but in this case I’ve got to agree with G-man. I mean, unless you think there has been a conspiracy for as long as Sunnydale has existed it wouldn’t explain why people didn’t remember things when it had just been founded.”
“Why Xander, that was actually profound. Are you alright?”
“Hah hah G-man.” He then realized that it had indeed not been something he would have said yesterday. “Although, I think I’m still a bit affected by the spell.”
“Really? I was doing some research before Buffy and Dawn showed up. Let me take a look at what I’ve found.”
While Giles went of to find his books Xander turned to the little girl that was still glowering at him. “Look Dawn, I was serious about how Giles is probably right about it all being caused by the Hellmouth.”
“Maybe, but you didn’t have to make fun of me. I might be right you know.”
He had to sigh, the girl could be really cute when she wanted to, but was just as stubborn as her sister. “Okay, I’m sorry about making fun of you. But you understand what I’m saying don’t you?”
“Yes, but I don’t agree.”
“When did you start being so paranoid?”
Any reply she might make however was interrupted as Giles reappeared with a book. “This book details some of the possible effects being possessed can have. While nothing quite like this has been mentioned I can combine some of the ideas these people had and gain an understanding of what might have happened last night.”
“Whatever you say.” He noticed that finally the two girls had returned as well and were now coming towards them, although Willow was casting some strange looks at Dawn.
“Quite, now why do you believe you are still under the influence of the spell?”
“What? But you’re acting like you now aren’t you?”
“Yes Buffy, I’m me again. Not the sleazebag from last night.”
“But then why do you think that you’re still under the influence.” With an imperious look the blonde turned to Giles for an answer. “Giles, explain.”
“I was just attempting to find that out Buffy when you interfered. Now sit down and be quiet.”
Wow, G-man wasn’t in a very good mood was he? Most likely he was fed up with American teenagers asking bloody questions, or something even more British. “Okay, Giles. Like I’ve already told Willow, when I woke up ridiculously early this morning I made my bed.”
Looking at the Brit and waiting for an answer he noticed the man first blinking and then frowning in consternation. “And?”
“What do you mean, and?”
“And what else? That isn’t anything special is it?”
Thinking that should have been obvious Xander answered. “I never make my bed, but today I did it in such a way that it would have passed inspection in any army.”
The tweed-man muttered a comment that sounded suspiciously like “bloody uncivilized American teenagers” but Xander decided to ignore that. “Is there anything else, aside from being able to perform the simplest of tasks?”
Not very nice. Oh well. “Yeah, as I said, I woke up at about a quarter to very early. Oh, and I remember how to use all kinds of weapons and stuff. Tactics as well.”
“Interesting,” Giles mused, while paging through the book.
“So, how come I’m still soldierboy?”
“Like you have already said, you are yourself. However I believe the magical energies that influenced you did something to your brain causing those memories to remain even after the spell had stopped working.”
“Wait a minute, it messed with my brain?”
“Of course it did, how else could you be someone else, and have your own memories blocked? Now however, both sets of memories are present, and you might need to learn how to deal with them. From what I understand the effects should be temporary, the length depending on how specific the spirit that possessed you was, and how much alike the two of you were.”
“Really? So what would have happened if someone had been possessed by a very specific character, like a character with a name and background?” Dawn asked, seeming rather interested in the answer.
“True possession like that is rare, and mostly done by ghosts or spirits, and very different from what happened last night. But to answer your question, it is likely that person would keep both sets of memories, both souls so to speak.”
“But that would be temporary as well?”
“I can’t be certain as I’ve never read about anything like that happening, but I would think both souls would eventually merge in order to stop the person from going insane.”
“Oh, so that would be permanent?”
“Well, aren’t you lucky then Dawn.” Buffy said, smiling at her sister.
“Yeah, lucky me.”
The words had sounded a little off to Xander, but he didn’t have time to think about it as Buffy suddenly spoke up.
“Oh Giles, I almost forgot but I had a Slayer dream thingie last night.”
“And why didn’t you tell me about that before?” The man really looked like he was at the end of his wits and Xander almost started feeling sorry for him. But he didn’t have time for even male solidarity until he wasn’t in trouble himself anymore.
“I forgot for a moment, you know with everything going on. But I think it’s a really important one.”
“Very well, you did write it down didn’t you?”
“Yes I did,” a proud sounding Buffy said, before deflating. “But I kinda forgot the book at home.”
Xander was certain that if Giles hadn’t been holding the book he would have started polishing his glasses. For a moment he idly wondered how many pairs the man used up that way. “Yes, how could I have imagined otherwise. Can you tell me what you saw?”
“I saw Angel get killed by some kind of green glowy thingie.”
Angel? Killed? Xander sat up a little straighter, not entirely sure how to deal with this news. He didn’t like the guy but he was on their side. Giles just accepted the facts without any sign of emotion, and asked Buffy to describe the killer as good as she could.
“A green glowy thingie, it was smaller then Angel.”
“Any other details?”
“No. Do you know what it could be?”
“Out of my head I wouldn’t really know all that many green glowy thingies.” The distaste at the vague description was obvious to Xander, although Buffy herself seemed oblivious to it. “But it might be a representation for some kind of spell, although I wouldn’t know where to start looking there either.”
“We’ll help,” Buffy immediately offered, which was to be expected since it concerned Deadboy. She then looked at the clock however and changed her statement. “Monday, mom would kill me if I was late for dinner today. Or would you guys mind looking now? I might even come back tonight or tomorrow, if mom lets me.”
Xander really didn’t want to do this but he figured it might help in his attempts to stop her from being angry at him so, reluctantly, he accepted the duty. Willow had to be home early as well, but said she’d help him until she had to leave.
“Thanks, that’s great guys.” Buffy beamed at both of them before turning to her sister, obviously intending to tell her to come along. Dawnie however seemed to be thinking about something while staring out of the window, apparently oblivious to the things going on inside. “Dawn? What are you thinking about?”
The girl was quiet for a moment before answering in that soft voice she had been using ever since he had gotten here. “I was just thinking how sorry I am for you.”
“Huh? Sorry for me, why that?” Buffy suspiciously asked.
“If what mister Giles said about how the more alike the spirits are, the longer you retain the memories is true, you’ll probably keep them for the rest of your life.”
Ouch! Xander had to bite on his lip in order to stop himself from laughing, but he was in enough trouble with the Slayer as it was and didn’t want to add to it.
“Dawn!” The furious blonde shouted before she got a sly look on her face. “At least I’m not the one who has a crush on Xander.”
What? What was that? Did little Dawnie? Xander wasn’t sure how to react to that but he then noticed the girl’s cheeks flame before she exploded in anger.
Once again Dawn was sitting in her room to think things over. The day had proved quite fruitful as it had supplied her with answers to some of her questions: giving her a better idea of what the future might bring. What Giles had said about the souls or personalities merging was strange, but somehow both frightening and a relief. There was no doubt in her mind that this merging wouldn’t go as smoothly as she’d like. Before anything else though, she needed to allay Buffy’s suspicions about her being possessed. Apparently her sister wasn’t quite as ignorant as she’d always believed.
Checking what she now thought of as her public diary she noticed that the little hair she had placed on it had disappeared indicating that, as expected, Buffy had used the opportunity of her absence to read it. A tiny smile appeared on her face as she realized this at least had worked. Now all that she needed to do was continue writing in it, and within several days Buffy would believe there was nothing different about her.
Although even that probably wouldn’t entirely work. The older girl’s reaction to her behavior this morning had proved that she was more aware of things then Dawn had always assumed. Her hearing too had proved to be scary in its intensity, and it was likely the rest of her senses were just as developed making it a lot harder to get anything past the Slayer. She really should find a way to test exactly how good those senses were.
At least her mother hadn’t suspected there was anything wrong, but then she didn’t know anything about magic and probably attributed everything to her crush on Xander. Xander, it was strange how so much had changed over the course of the last day, but that little detail had remained the same. No, not entirely the same. There were some differences in the way she could deal with it. Most importantly the fact that she realized he was just as flawed as every other human being. That nonsense about the Hellmouth causing everyone to ignore or forget about the supernatural was obviously one of his flaws.
Shaking her head, Dawn wondered how any intelligent person could accept any excuse that was so flimsy. A conspiracy that lasted since Sunnydale had been founded wasn’t that strange; the town wasn’t much older then a century. Soldats had survived without being noticed for a thousand years—even if they were fiction—so surely some other group could do the same for a century. Especially if they had magical assistance. That thought made her frown, in less then a day she had gone from not knowing about magic to hating it with a passion. It seemed as if everything that was wrong could be blamed on magic, and that was a dangerous assumption.
Paying a bit more attention to her writing, Dawn noticed that she’d already come quite far. Huh, and that while she was thinking about other things. Still, a quick check showed her that a couple of words had snuck in that shouldn’t have been there, and she carefully scratched them out. It wasn’t the first time something like that happened, so Buffy wouldn’t really be concerned about it.
Now then, where was she? Ah! The martial arts thing. She had talked it over with Buffy on their way home, and while her sister didn’t like it she had understood that it might be useful. While talking it over with Buffy, Dawn had briefly considered if Buffy’s Watcher—Giles—might be able to train her. That training would undoubtedly have been better, but he had seemed far too smart to fall for any excuse she was likely to come up with concerning her sudden skills.
And the training wasn’t worth her cover. At least not yet. Which meant that after dinner it had been time to tackle the second problem concerning her training. The person who was supposed to be paying for it: her mother. Strangely enough though, her mother had actually been very easy to convince as her mother was happy that she was finally going to do something about sports again. Even if it was a fighting thing.
Which meant that her mother was actually closer to the truth than Buffy who thought that she was going to learn how to fight. Because she didn’t need to learn how to fight. No, that was something she was already more than capable of. The reason for the classes was to regain her old strength and reflexes. No! Gain! Not regain!
Having arranged that, it had been time for her to check up on Jane, who was still sick. The little detour she made on her way there wasn’t something anyone needed to know about. Besides, the store had been empty when she arrived, and Ethan Rayne was probably in another country by now.
After that small diversion, she had continued on to her friend, and they had spent the time talking about things that a day ago had still seemed interesting to her. It had been a strange conversation, and Jane had asked her several times if she was alright. Dawn really hoped that she’d managed to make the girl believe that it was only worries. She didn’t have that many friends to begin with, and would really hate it if the whole possession thing would destroy that last bit of social life as well.
Now it was time for more important things however. She couldn’t do anything about her friendships right now, and replacing one diary with the other she started writing in it. A number of the assumptions she had made that morning needed to be corrected, and other things needed to be added.
Luckily she had managed to convince Giles that she should be allowed to read the books in his library. That way she would no doubt find out more, but there was the problem that she couldn’t read a fair number of those books. Aside from Latin and Ancient Greek, she only knew modern languages, and those books were not written in anything modern. Some of them not even in a human language. Oh well, she’d just have to convince Giles to teach her those languages, they shouldn’t be too hard to learn.
Turning a number of pages she started a new chapter. Making a list of the items she really needed. From easily obtainable things like a stake—she should be able to convince Buffy to give her one—and a religious icon—probably a cross—to more difficult things. She needed to have real weapons, the couple of hunting blades she had left were in no way enough for a real fight.
Besides, they were barely functional as melee weapons. Throwing them was completely out of the question. But how would she be able to get guns and quality blades? Aside from the fact that most people wouldn’t sell that sort of stuff to a twelve year old girl. Well, maybe the blades, but even that couldn’t be done in Sunnydale where word might get back to her mother, which was always a possibility. And all of that was aside from the issue of how to pay for the weapons. Considering the only real way she knew how to make money was exactly why she needed those weapons Dawn could think of only one way to get the money. And there was a small, but existing, risk to that.
Not being able to come up with a good solution, she decided to put that question off until later. There was one other thing that needed to be written down before she went to bed. A very important thing actually: one that all of her personalities agreed had to happen. Turning to the last page in the book Dawn entered three words, words that would change her life forever.Target: Ethan Rayne