Giles arrived just as breakfast was ending, which hadn't taken long as teens tended to eat fast, and Joyce didn't have much of an appetite.
"Mom has a lot of questions," Buffy said as she escorted her Watcher into the kitchen, while everyone was getting up and putting their dishes in the sink.
"I've already called for a ride," Cordelia said. "I'll wait out front, so I don't get further dragged into your freaky little world."
"Our freaky little world," Xander told her. "Just because you avoid the freaky bits doesn't mean they aren't there."
"I'm a big fan of Egyptian vacations," Cordelia said, sticking her nose in the air, "not that you'd know anything about that."
"Did you have to bring up my ex…" Xander's voice trailed off and he got a thoughtful expression on his face.
"I didn't mean- Wait, wasn't she an Incan mummy?" the brunette asked, dropping the snooty attitude she'd been affecting.
"Yes, she was and the threads of her life laid heavy on this area," he replied, looking at something no one else could see.
"Oh," Cordelia replied, confused by his response, "well I was trying to call you poor white trash, not hurt your feelings."
Xander smiled. "And don't think I don't appreciate it… you conceited harpy."
Cordelia nodded. "As well you should," she said with a superior air and left, Willow having to dodge around her as she entered.
"I feel like I need a translator to understand what that was about and am thankful that I don't have one," Giles decided.
"You had an idea," Dawn said excitedly.
"Yes, but I'll need to check your Rosa Mystica to be sure," Xander told her.
Dawn pulled Xander towards the stairs. "We can use my room."
"Why not do it here?" Buffy asked.
"Would you like me to pop your soul out and let everyone look at it so they can see everything you are or will be?!" Dawn demanded, her trowel appearing in her free hand, the edges of the blade glowing forest green. "Hey, I can move souls!" she said excitedly, her anger vanishing. "If a soul isn't sitting right I can… repot them, so they are aligned again!"
"That is an amazing talent," Xander said, giving her hand a squeeze.
"Of course it is," Dawn said proudly, preening under the attention, "I'm awesome!"
Xander laughed. "Yes, you are. Now, let's go examine your soul so I can see what's needed."
"I'm confused," Willow admitted as the two vanished upstairs.
"I'm in the same state," Giles told her.
"I'll update you on current events," Buffy offered. "I would tell you what sets Dawn off, but I seem to be doing that a lot without meaning to."
"Perhaps you should ask if something would be offensive before asking the question," Joyce said, "because I don't think any of us is knowledgeable enough in what we need to know about Rozen Maidens or… souls."
"She turned into a Rozen Maiden?" Giles asked, looking stunned.
"You've heard of them?" Buffy asked, surprised.
"Every Watcher knows of The Maidens," Giles said. "Anne Marie Corbin, one of the few Slayers to die of natural causes back in the eighteen hundreds, was gifted with a living doll, Suigintou when she was a young girl. Her Watcher, can't recall his name we usually just refer to him as 'that idiot' tried to separate them repeatedly and failed every time."
"So, they're evil?" Willow asked concerned.
"Not at all," Giles assured her. "They can be childish, but that's because they are children. Suigintou was a fierce defender of Anne Marie and between the two of them there was little they could not handle. Sadly, Anne Marie took sick, probably tainted food as was common at the time and passed away. In the morning 'that idiot' looked for her case, probably to burn it, but it was gone."
"Oh," Buffy said. "Well, Xander dressed as a doll maker and Dawn as his doll… daughter… thing," she finished awkwardly.
"Don't refer to your sister as a thing," Joyce chided her gently.
"I was referring to the situation not the person," Buffy assured her mother. "We can talk about that later. Giles do the thing," she ordered.
"Do the thing?" he asked.
"The Watcher thing where you say the world is old," Buffy explained. "Mom needs to hear it."
"Oh yes, that thing," Giles said taking off his glasses and polishing them. He put his glasses back on and cleared his throat. "The world is older than you know…"
Dawn stared at what she was holding. "I could have sworn I had a rose for a soul."
Xander reached out and gently stroked the green chessboard, making Dawn bite her bottom lip unnoticed by the distracted teen. "It's perfect," he said leaning down to examine it closely, noting the perfect lines between the squares, differentiated in shades of light and dark green, "and will make things a lot easier. Ok, you can put it away now."
The chessboard vanished back into her chest, and she sighed. "Ok, make with the explaining," she ordered, hoping she wasn't blushing.
"The soul can take many forms. The Maidens' took the form of roses because Rozen created them that way. Actually, he crafted seeds and they blossomed, showing their development, but you get what I mean. Now, a chessboard signifies… everything really. It's a representation of reality, so you can basically develop however you like. Everything you need to become a real girl is there… we just need to bring it out and it fits perfectly for what I thought of downstairs."
"What did you think of downstairs?!" Dawn asked excitedly, bouncing up and down on the bed.
"I was thinking we could step into the Dreamlands at sites where significant events occurred and I could use something from there to carve Rosa Mystica, basically brute forcing a change, even if I had to do it a petal at a time," he explained.
"And my soul being a chessboard changes that?" she asked, before answering herself, "A chessboard only has a dozen pieces per side and roses have a lot more petals than just four, so I suppose that is an improvement."
"Sixteen per side," he corrected her, "but we only need to make six pieces to fill your chakras and thus the board."
"There are seven chakras, which can be symbolized by the chess set. The Crown chakra, violet in color, symbolizes Awareness and Intelligence, it's the Queen. The Third Eye chakra, indigo in color, symbolizes Intuition and Imagination, it's the King. The Throat chakra, blue in color, symbolizes Communication, it's the Knight. The Solar Plexus chakra, yellow in color, symbolizes Self-esteem and Confidence, it's the Bishop. The Sacral chakra, orange in color, is the Pawn. The Root chakra, red in color, symbolizes Stability and Grounding, it's the Rook. And finally… The Heart chakra, green in color, symbolizes Love and Compassion, it's the board," he listed off, simplifying things and skipping some details he didn't feel like explaining.
"So, I'm all Love and Compassion?" Dawn asked.
"At your core, yes," he agreed, "and since that's your core, as you are so… developed as a soul, it should be easy for me to create the six missing pieces to fill the board," he explained with a smile.
"Yes, yes, yes!" Dawn cheered, jumping up and down on the bed excitedly.
Buffy burst into the room and glared at everything only to stop and look at the pair in confusion. "Sorry," she apologized and vanished back out the door before they could say anything.
"What's up with her?" Xander asked.
Dawn shrugged. "She's like a cat, she just gets like that sometimes."
"Dawn was just jumping on the bed and cheering," Buffy said, embarrassed as she took a seat at the kitchen table.
"To be fair it did sound…" Willow blushed.
"Dawn doesn't have any of those parts right now," Joyce reminded her daughter.
"I forgot," she admitted.
"Yes, well… back to what we were discussing. The Council is by no means perfect, but it does keep the world spinning and uninvaded," Giles offered.
"We do anyway," Buffy said, "and they send you books, which may or may not contain demons."
"One book," Giles said with a sigh, "and they pay for all the… slaying gear, as you put it."
"I can't believe they put the weight of the world on one teenage girl," Joyce said, shaking her head. She felt slightly numb after everything she'd learned this morning.
"And her Watcher," Giles added. "Not to mention the various teams they have scattered across the world dealing with other problems. Trust me, if we had a choice The Slayer wouldn't be a teenage girl, that was the decision of someone above." He gestured towards the Heavens. "Prophecies and visions from seers let us know what we must do, at least in part, to prevent the death of humanity, but it doesn't tell us why."
"And it's all kept secret because of the chaos and death that would occur should the truth get out," Joyce said.
"Unfortunately," Giles agreed. "It would make our lives so much easier if we could tell people why wandering dark alleys at night is a bad idea, but then I suppose the ones who do tend to do that are stupid enough to do it even if they knew the truth."
"Hey!" Buffy complained.
Giles looked at her over the rim of his glasses. "Obviously I mean the uninitiated."
Xander and Dawn came back downstairs in good cheer.
"Good news everybody," Xander said, imitating someone that the adults didn't recognize. "Philistines," he said, mock offended when it was obvious they didn't get the joke.
"Hi, Professor Farnsworth," Buffy and Willow chorused, rolling their eyes.
"I thought it was funny," Dawn told Xander, getting a big smile from him.
"And that's why you're my favorite," he told her. "Anyway, good news, I know how to restore Dawn to human status." He waited for the various surprised and hopeful responses to stop before continuing, "I just have to travel into the Dreamlands at half a dozen or so spots of significance and collect the appropriate material to fill Dawn's six chakra points."
"There are seven chakra points," Giles pointed out.
"Yes, but her Rosa Mystica is already filling the Heart chakra," Xander told him. "Technically we could probably wait and they'd fill themselves in, but that would probably take a decade or two even with how close she is and I don't believe she wants to spend the next twenty years as a doll."
"You've got that right," Dawn told him, grabbing his hand.
"How… You dressed as Rozen," Giles reminded himself. He turned to Xander and stared at him trying to figure out what to ask first.
"I think you broke him," Willow said.
"What's surprising about Rozen?" Joyce asked.
"Rozen is the creator of the Maidens and I remember quite a bit from his life, probably more than he does," Xander explained.
"Up to the point he died?" Joyce asked.
"He's not dead," Xander told her, "he's just resting."
Joyce grinned. "Pining for the fjords?" she asked, recognizing a Monty Python reference when she heard one.
Xander turned to Dawn. "Your mom is also awesome." He turned back to Joyce. "That was the joke, but Rozen is actually alive, he's sleeping in his workshop which is set in the N-Field."
"N-Field… I haven't even looked at what my private world looks like!" Dawn exclaimed. "Be right back!" She zipped out of the room.
"What did we just miss?" Willow asked.
"What's the N-Field?" Giles asked, his brain having rebooted.
"A plane of existence closely connected to the human psyche," Xander replied.
The three fellow demon fighters stared at him like he'd just grown a second head, causing him to roll his eyes.
"I have no idea what those words mean in that context," Joyce said.
"Dreamers create their own realities," Xander said. "Plus, there is this whole collective unconscious thing…"
Xander was tackled by a ballistic Dawn.
"Disney World!" she exclaimed. "My private world is Disney World!"
"All we know of Rozen are myths and tales told third hand," Giles said. "The chance to get answers for how he created The Maidens… I need a pen and paper, I have some notepads in the car!"
"I have some in my bag," Willow said helpfully.
"I say we book it," Dawn told Xander.
"Then he'd just track me down later to grill me," Xander pointed out as Willow dug in her backpack.
"Yes, but then they'd at least have their lists of questions ready, so it wasn't all over the place," Dawn argued.
"That is a good point," Xander agreed. "Mirror in the bathroom?"
"Wait-" Giles began.
"Mirror in the bathroom," Dawn agreed, before tossing Xander over her shoulder and bounding off, much to everyone's surprise.
"How did she do that?" Buffy asked. "I can't do that and I'm the slayer!"
Giles and Willow chased the pair up the stairs and saw them vanish into the bathroom, but when they looked inside it was empty.
"He'll be back," Willow assured the Watcher.
"And we really should have those lists ready," Giles said mind already filled with ideas for what they should ask.
"You lost them?" Buffy asked from the bottom of the steps, confused.
"I think they pulled an Alice in Wonderland and dove through the mirror," Willow told her.
"What was she saying about Disney World?" Joyce asked.
"I think she was saying her inner world was Disney World," Willow said as she thought back to what the excitable younger sister of the slayer had been saying.
"And she didn't take me?" Buffy demanded, sounding offended.
"Ask her later," Joyce said. "So, the two ducked into Dawn's dreamworld through the mirror in the bathroom to give you time to figure out what questions to ask and before we could ask him how he was going to make my baby human again."
Giles winced. "I must apologize for that, I'm afraid I let my enthusiasm for learning overwhelm me for a moment."
Joyce nodded and lit another cigarette. "Make a list of questions dealing with that subject and ask them first when the two return and we'll consider it forgiven, alright?"
"That's perfectly reasonable," Giles said, accepting a pad and pen from Willow.
Beta by: Mist of Shadows and Abyssal Angel