Chapter 5 Look around you, look beyond You could make an unbreakable bond The world around you is not what it seems So reveal beyond your wildest dreams - from the Shaman King theme 11:05 p.m.: BatCave under Wayne Manor in GothamCity.
Deep within the bowels of the large underground complex beneath Wayne Manor, Robin lay on an infirmary bed, deep asleep, his mind engaged in a dream. Standing over him, eyes closed, unaware of the reality around them, were Batman, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter. Their minds were only aware of the reality within Robin’s dream . . . . . . “Hi. I’ve been expecting you.” Buffy paused, and then shrugged. “Actually, I was expecting you to show up sooner. But it’s not like we had a set appointment.” Tim just stared while Clark, Bruce, and J’onn exchanged looks, then returned their gaze to the enigmatic woman before them. “Who are you? What do you want with us?” demanded Bruce. “I told Tim this already. I need your help. Dawn needs your help. And if you don’t stop HIM, your world will end.” “We would like to help but we need more information. For instance: Is Luthor the one you’re referring to? What are his plans? And how does your sister factor into all this?” questioned Clark. Buffy sighed. “I’d love to give you all the answers but there are rules I must follow. All I can do is give you some hints to point you in the right direction.” “Whose rules?” asked J’onn. “The rules of the Powers that govern your dimension.” “What?” blurted out Clark. Bruce’s eyes narrowed. “You say our world is in trouble. If there are some sort of higher beings watching over us, then why don’t they intervene?” Buffy frowned. “You know better. It’s all about free will, remember? It’s up to a world’s residents to look after themselves and others.” “Then how come you’re here, warning us?” Before Buffy could reply, Tim interjected with a thought that had seized his brain. “You stated ‘your dimension.’ You’re from another dimension, aren’t you? An alternate Earth.” “Now you’re catching on.” Buffy abruptly looked away, seemingly gazing into the distance, though there was nothing to see. “Dawn is having a nightmare.” Their surroundings suddenly began to shift and blur. The Martian frowned heavily. Clark quickly took note of it. “J’onn? What is it?” “We are not in Tim’s mind any longer. We are in another’s.” “We’re not in my mind? Then in whose mind are we?” exclaimed Tim anxiously. “We’re in Dawn’s mind,” stated Bruce with certainty. “Yes. I thought you might be interested in what her nightmares consist of,” explained Buffy. She smirked. “I can’t go against the rules. But I can let you into Dawn’s mind. And if you incidentally see something that answers some of your questions, it’s not my fault. That’s something beyond mine, and their control.” The surroundings around the group suddenly stabilized and they found themselves standing in the living room of a house. Before them, Dawn sat upon a couch, cuddled into the side of a young man whose hair was bleached blonde. She was blowing her noise and wiping her eyes. It was obvious that Dawn had just finished a bout of intense crying. “I was one who was supposed to die, Spike. Not Buffy.” “You shouldn’t think like that, niblet.” The man, apparently called Spike, spoke with a British accent. He reached up a pale hand to stroke the teenager’s cheek. “Your sister wanted you to live. She loved you. Threatened to kill us if any of us dared to try to harm you.” Dawn sniffled. “Really?” “Really.” Dawn began to fiddle with the edges of Spike’s duster. “I’ve got no one. Buffy’s dead, Mom is dead, Dad abandoned us, Giles returned to England, Riley left, Angel left. Everyone is always leaving. What’s to keep you or Willow or Xander or the others from leaving too?” Spike placed a finger under Dawn’s chin, lifting her face so he could look into her eyes. “Don’t know about the others but I’m not leaving, pet. I promised the slayer I’d protect you, ‘til the end of the world.” Dawn threw her arms around Spike’s waist. “Thanks.” Spike stayed silent, simply hugging her back. The moment was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening and then closing. There was the sound of several moving feet in the foyer and then two people entered the living room, a young woman and a young man, a red head and a brunette, respectively. Waiting beyond in the hallway was another brunette woman and two large men. Spike swiftly rose to his feet while Dawn remained seated. “What’s all this then?” It was the red head who spoke. “Xander and I have discussed it and we’ve decided that Dawn has to go.” Dawn sat up, her posture stiff. “What do you mean go? Go where?” The red head gestured behind her. “This is Lilah Morgan. She’s a lawyer at Wolfram & Hart. We’re giving you to them.” Dawn immediately stood, moving closer to Spike. “But Willow! That’s the evil law firm Angel told us about! Why would you give me to them?” The man, Xander, broke his silence. “It’s your fault Buffy’s dead! It should have been you that jumped, not her! You don’t deserve to live! You’re not even –” Willow calmly interrupted his rant. “Ms. Morgan came to us with an offer and we decided to take it.” She glared fiercely at the younger girl. “You deserve whatever they have planned for you.” Spike growled. “I don’t see Glinda or demon girl anywhere. They don’t know anything about this, do they, witch?” “There’s no need for Tara or Anya to know anything. We’ll just tell them that your Dad came and got you.” Dawn shook her head in denial. “You can’t do this! You won’t get away with it!” Spike strode forward, his body radiating rage as his face morphed into his demon visage. “You’re not taking her anywhere!” Just as Spike drew near Xander moved his hand from behind his back, revealing a wooden stake within his grasp. His grin was positively evil. “So long Fangless!” Before Spike could react, he was stabbed in the chest. He gave Dawn a last glance full of regret before his body burst into dust. Dawn screamed in grief and rage, and then charged. “You killed him! How could you!” The two men at Lilah’s side quickly moved forward. They grabbed a hold of Dawn’s arms just as she kicked Xander between the legs. He dropped to the ground, groaning. Willow rushed to his side, glancing up as she soothingly rubbed Xander’s back. “Get her out of here!” The two thugs hurriedly left the house, dragging Dawn kicking and screaming between them. Lilah quietly followed. As Dawn was being shoved into a car, the scene once again began to blur and shift. Tim, Clark, Bruce, and J’onn stood there while Buffy observed, trying to absorb what they had seen. Tim asked the first question. “Spike was a vampire, wasn’t he?” Buffy nodded. Bruce spoke next. “He referred to you as the slayer.” Buffy gave a little smile. “That’s who I was. The Slayer. I was a hero, like you. Even saved the world a few times. You wanted to know how I can be here, warning you? To reward my good deeds, the Powers granted me this boon, to give me a chance to save my sister’s life.” Before anymore could be said, the view stabilized and the group took in their surroundings. They were standing on what appeared to be a rooftop. Before them, three tall pale creatures in black robes and hoods stood chanting around a pentagram drawn in blood on the cement. In the center of the pentagram, banging her fists against the magical shield that kept her in place, was Dawn. Tim realized he had seen this scene before in a previous dream. “You can’t do this to me! I’m not a possession you can sell! I’m a person!” yelled Dawn in a panic. The girl was yelling at Lilah Morgan, who was standing nearby. The woman gave the teenager a condescending smile. “You don’t understand. We’ve already done it. All that’s left to do is to deliver the goods to the buyer. Which is not as simple as it may seem since he lives in another dimension.” The robed creatures’ chanting sped up, reaching a crescendo. Magic crackled like lightning all Dawn. A bright light, shimmering in a multitude of colors, began forming in the center with her. She began to scream. “No! You can’t do this! Please! NOOO!” There was a large flash of brightness, forcing the men to close their eyes. When they could see again, they realized the scenery had changed again. They were still on a rooftop, albeit on a different building. It was Clark who noticed him first. “Luthor.” It was Lex Luthor. He regally closed the cell phone in his hand and passed it to his statuesque blonde assistant, Mercy. Stepping forward, he studied Dawn, who was kneeling in bewilderment in the center of a pentagram identical to the one she left. She looked up, a slight daze in her eyes, after effects of the trans-dimensional spell. “So. You’re the innocent little girl with the power to destroy the universe,” remarked Luthor. “Appearances can truly be deceiving.” Abruptly the surroundings changed again and the group found themselves back at the house from the beginning of the dream. J’onn briefly closed his eyes in concentration. “We are back in Tim’s mind.” “Dawn’s nightmare didn’t appear to be over. Why did you bring us back?” asked Clark. “If we’d stayed any longer, she would have realized we were there. I’m only allowed to visit her face to face once. And I don’t want to use that visit yet, not until I know she’s going to survive what’s coming. I’d be seeing her again anyway if she dies.” Bruce turned his full Bat-glare onto the young woman. “Luthor said Dawn has the power to destroy the universe. What power does she exactly have? And how is Luthor going to use it? Why hasn’t Dawn used it to save herself?” The glare had no effect on Buffy. “All I can tell you is that the power was hidden in Dawn for safekeeping. It is an ancient energy with the ability to create and destroy. The power can only be accessed in certain ways at certain times. And very few have that knowledge. Even fewer would be foolish to mess with it.” “”Luthor is not the one we should be wary of, is he?” queried J’onn. “I knew you guys would figure it out,” Buffy praised. “Luthor only thinks that he has control of my sister. He has no idea who and what he’s dealing with.” “Is there anymore that you can tell us?” Clark inquired. Buffy paced for a moment, exuding nervous energy, then stepped closer. “There’s not much more I can say. But you happen to have several colleagues who are magic users. Shouldn’t you take advantage of their knowledge and experience?” J’onn raised an eye ridge. “Is there a particular question we should ask them?” “Just mention the Key. They either know or they don’t.” Buffy turned her head, looking at each man facing her in turn, before stopping at Tim. “You know, there is a person here who is from the far flung future and yet none of you have taken advantage of the knowledge he might have of the present.” Tim frowned. “Are you referring to Bart?” Clark’s brow furrowed. “By the time of the 30th century, the history of our present has been reduced to not much more then legends and myths.” Buffy raised a finger. “But all myths have some basis on actual truth. You just have to reason fact from fiction.” She paused, stepping back. “My time’s almost up.” Bruce stepped forward. “One last question: Why did you choose to visit Tim? Why not someone older or more powerful?” Buffy smirked, then stepped over to Tim, bringing her face close to his. “You were chosen Tim. I asked and you agreed to be my sister’s protector. Are you still willing to fulfill your role?” Tim gulped. The look in Buffy’s eyes was intense. “Yes.” A sad smile crossed Buffy’s face. “Dawn feels guilty but she shouldn’t. I willingly gave my life for hers. My blood for her blood. Like a friend said, it’s always all about the blood. Remember what I have told you. Time to awake.”
Robin’s eyes shot open and he gasped. Startled to discover himself so abruptly conscious, he raised up on his elbows. Gazing wildly around, he found Batman, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter standing over him, also in various states of surprise. A glance at the clock revealed that it was just after midnight. 12:00 a.m.: YJ Headquarters in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
The super-cycle was an unusual creation. It could always sense when its owner or someone connected to its owner needed its particular brand of help. And it was sensing that need now. Feeling a sense of urgency, it phased through the garage walls at YJ headquarters and took to the sky, high-tailing to Metropolis. 12:30 a.m.: Luthor Estate in Metropolis.
Dawn jumped awake, panting in fading terror. Her nightmares had been unusually intense that night. If she didn’t know better, she could have sworn someone else had been with her. The sound of a running engine interrupted her thoughts. Pushing back her covers, she went to the window. Gazing outside, she spotted what she had heard. A flying motorcycle? What kind of world is this?
Eyes widening, she realized it was heading straight for her. Fear returning, she quickly backed up to the opposite wall and raised her arms to cover her face. Several moments passed but there was no crash. Cautiously, Dawn peaked between her arms. The cycle was sitting calmly in her room, with no signs of any destruction, or a driver, in sight.
“How in the hell did you do that?”
The cycle revved its motor, wiggling its handle bars. Dawn blinked and then rubbed her eyes. But still, no driver appeared. “You . . . Are you alive?”
Again the machine revved its motor. Dawn hesitatingly stepped towards it. “What do you want from me?”
It inched forward, bumping her legs. Dawn walked around to its side. “Do you want me get on?”
The cycle tilted slightly on its wheels, again bumping Dawn. Giving a shrug, Dawn decided. What the hell. Anything that will get me out of here.
She clambered into the front seat below the handle bars. “Now what?”
Starting its engines, the cycle turned around and then before Dawn could even shriek it went right through the wall, taking her with it. She patted down her body, making sure everything was still in place. The super-cycle picked up speed, flying through the night sky. Shivering as a cold wind whipped threw her blue cotton pajamas, Dawn carefully peered over the side at the bright lights of the city far below. “Where are you taking me?!” 1:00 a.m.: Drake Residence in GothamCity.
Robin stealthily entered his home and quietly headed towards his room. After going over everything that Buffy had shown and told them, Batman, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter had agreed there was nothing more that they could do that night. It was also agreed upon that in the morning the three would meet again and contact their mystic allies in an attempt to confirm Buffy’s intel and therefore determine whether or not she was friend or foe and how best to help Dawn. While they were doing that, Robin planned on returning to the headquarters of Young Justice and questioning Bart on what he knew, if he knew anything.
Robin paused in mid-step on the stairs when he suddenly heard a noise from outside. Is it a burglar? Or is it Nightwing coming to check up on me?
He hurriedly left the house the way he came. Heading around to the front, he heard what sounded like an engine and a girl’s voice in the driveway. Peaking around the side of the garage, Robin received one of the biggest surprises of his life. The super-cycle was parked in the driveway, with Dawn occupying the front seat!
Dawn rose up on her knees in the seat, cautiously curious. “Why have you brought me here? Where is here, anyway?”
Robin stepped onto the driveway, guardedly approaching the super-cycle. “Here is my home. And that is my super-cycle.”
Dawn let out a startled squeak, falling back into her seat. There was a long moment of silence. It was broken by Dawn nervously clearing her throat as she sat up. “So. Did you order this thing to bring me to you?”
Robin stepped closer, keeping his stance non-threatening. “No. The super-cycle has a mind of its own and tends to do what it wants in its free time.”
Robin stopped moving when he was just a few inches away from the cycle. Dawn could see him clearly now and with that view, came the discernment of familiarity. “Do I know you?”
Without stopping to think about it, Robin removed his mask. “We met at the concert. My name is Tim.”
Dawn leaned forward and there was a slight tremble in her voice as she spoke. “You . . . You’re the one. You said Buffy was visiting you in your dreams.” She narrowed her eyes. “Why should I trust you? How do I know that you’re not just as evil as Luthor is?”
Tim raised his hands complacently. “You don’t. But what other choice do you have? You need help.”
Dawn seemed to deflate at that. Tim lowered his hands. “You should know that Buffy told me about you, how you’re from another dimension, and that there’s an ancient power hidden inside you. She asked me protect you. She said the world will end if you remain in Luthor’s clutches.”
Dawn’s eyes misted over. “You should just kill me. My existence brings nothing but trouble. People who try to protect me just wind up dead. I don’t deserve to live.”
“No!” Tim hurriedly reached out and grabbed Dawn’s hand, holding it tightly within his own gloved one. “None of this is your fault! Buffy said she willingly gave her life for yours! That’s how much she loves you. You have the right to live. Your sister wouldn’t be reaching out from beyond the grave to protect you if she didn’t believe that.”
Dawn stared down at their joined hands, struggling to accept Tim’s words. Tim patiently waited, staying silent. It seemed like forever had gone by before he felt her give his hand a brief squeeze. He glanced up, meeting her eyes. She gave him a brief smile. He smiled back.
“So,” said Dawn. “What do we do now? Where can I go? Luthor’s going to realize I’m gone, probably sooner rather than later. And I’ve got the feeling he’ll stop at nothing to find me.”
“Most likely. Add to the fact that in hiding you I’ll be breaking the law which will also get us into big trouble with some very important people.”
The look Dawn threw at him was full of worry and apprehension. “The odds are stacked against us, aren’t they?”
“Yeah. But I happen to know some friends that can help even out the odds.”
Tim was gratified to see the hope fill her eyes. 9:00 a.m.: YJ Headquarters in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Cassie stretched languidly as she meandered downstairs. She loved Sunday. Crimes occurred less on this day than on any other day. This meant more of an opportunity to relax. She glanced briefly into the rec room as she passed it by on the way to the kitchen. It took a moment before she registered what she saw. And what she saw caused her to stop dead in her tracks, then retreat back to the doorway of the rec room.
Tucked into a sleeping bag on the floor, dead to the world, was Robin. And sleeping soundly on the couch, curled up in a blanket, clutching Robin’s hand, was Dawn Summers.
“What on earth is going on here?!” So many things I never could see So many choices falling on me Could it be my destiny?
- from the Shaman King theme