Title: The Shadow Within

Author: Jade

Rating: Strong R

Notes: This is based on a challenge by James, I have been writing it for a long time because I am a very slow writer. Basically the challenge was that Buffy takes Willow's place at the end of season six. She is led to this when Spike actually manages to rape her in Seeing Red and then something else happens. It begins after Spike has raped her. Some dialogue is lifted briefly from 'Seeing Red', a scene from Angel's 'The Price' and some dialogue from BtvS's 'Family'. The timelines of a few things aren't completely what happened in Seeing Red. DorkAngel, who is he? He is blatantly ignored in this fic as is really, the kidnapping of Connor, although mentioned.

Warning: Much character death and violence.

Thanks: Thank you ever so much Jo for all your help and input into this fic. It was very much appreciated. Thank you to Kyria for making this fic happen.

Feedback: I am kinda nervous about this fic, so I would love some. jadefdfickledame.com

Distribution: Walk Through the Fire. If you would like it, please just email me g

The high-heeled boots clicked with every step she took down the sidewalk. The sound wore on Dawn's nerves, but she was already fifteen minutes late home so she kept up her speedy pace.

She was just about to turn up into her driveway when the front door opened loudly. The teenager quickly ducked behind a bush. She watched with surprise as Spike hurried out, slamming the door behind him. Dawn's forehead crinkled in doubt- Buffy had reassured her that the "relationship" with Spike was over. Dawn's doubtful expression turned to disgust as she observed the huge satisfied smirk that spread across his face. He took off at a jog without noticing her.

Slowly, Dawn picked up the bag she had placed at her feet, trudging up to the front door.

"Buffy?" She called, as she slid off her coat and shuffled off her sneakers. She dropped her coat on the floor, knowing she would face Buffy's wrath later.

There was no sign of her older sister as she walked around the house. Taking the stairs two at a time, Dawn called for Buffy again. Silence.

Maybe Spike was just stealing something – again. Dawn shrugged and made her way back to the kitchen. She flicked the switch to the kettle and waited for it to boil. It was dark outside, but a shape caught her eye. Her eyes adjusted to the dark and she realised it was Buffy walking slowly around the garden. Puzzled, Dawn opened the backdoor and stepped outside. The coolness of the night air chilled her to the bone as she watched her sister's wavering form stumble in the dark.

"Are you okay?" she asked, stepping hesitantly towards her.

Gasping, Dawn eyes widened as she realised Buffy's robe was torn and hanging open. In the pale moonlight, the bruises stood out on her sister's skin, covering her body and face.

"What happened?" she demanded. "It was Spike, wasn't it?" Buffy's silence spoke volumes as her eyes widened fearfully, at the mention of his name.

The sisters stood in anticipation, staring at each other. Dawn turned wrathfully at the abrupt sound of pounding feet. To her surprise, it was Warren who tore around the corner of the house. Dawn's mouth fell open in horror as she gaped at the waving pistol in his hand.

"You think you could just do that to me?" Warren cried. His pupils were enlarged and wildly darting about. "You think I'd let you get away with that?"

His laughter seemed maniacal to Dawn's ears, a cacophony ringing through the night.

"Think again." He aimed the gun, pointing at Buffy, but she made no move to save herself. Instead she froze, eyes empty at the danger.

Dawn screamed, throwing herself at her sister as the gun went off with a loud bang. She became hazily aware of warm, wetness seeping down her chest as she caught a glimpse of Warren looking at her in panic, before turning and fleeing. Then her world went black.

Buffy began to rock as she stared down at her little sister, now lying in a growing puddle of blood. A scream pounded in her head, over and over, until it tore through her throat.

"Oh god, Dawnie." Buffy cried, dropping to her knees. She scooped her into her arms. "Please don't die."

The world sunk away, leaving a young girl rocking her baby sister, pleading with her to live. She chanted Dawn's name like a mantra, pleading to whoever was listening for help.

But no one did.

Dawn took a final shuddering breath, before her heart stopped. Buffy's desperate scream could be heard streets away, but this being Sunnydale, no one came to her aid.

"What time is it?" Willow asked, with a yawn. They had been researching into encrypting the codes Buffy had found at Warren's place for what seemed like hours at the Magic Box, and Willow was definitely ready to go home.

Tara looked up from 'Demons on Earth.' "It's…" She was cut off by Willow's cell phone ringing shrilly.

The red head fished it out of her pocket. "Hey Buffy," She answered, seeing her number on the screen.

"G…gone wrong," Buffy's voice stammered.

"What's gone wrong?" Willow questioned, a puzzled look on her face.

"Blood. Everywhere." Her voice was thick with emotion. The line clicked off and there was silence.

"Tara…something is going on. She didn't sound right. We need to go home – now." Willow rushed out, a look of panic crossing her face.

She hit a button quickly on her phone and waited for Xander to pick up. The two girls got up and hurried outside, heading home.

"Hello?" Xander said, sounding groggy.

"Buffy just called…" Willow explained.

"None of my business," Xander snapped, before she could continue.

"And I think something is wrong," she said over his voice, louder. "Please meet me at her house." They continued to jog down the street, Tara slightly in front of her.

"Fine, he sighed reluctantly after a pause.

"The blood!" Drusilla suddenly shrieked, making everyone in the room jump.

"Well that's annoying. Do you want the whole building to hear?" The demon, perching on the edge of his chair, snapped.

Lilah turned and glared at him, "Be quiet." she looked at the dark haired vampire eagerly. "Go on Dru…"

"The blood has started flowing, and it isn't going to stop." Drusilla whined, moving her hips slowly to a beat only she could hear.

"Start the ritual, Gullon." Lilah commanded, sitting back in her recliner with a satisfied smirk.

Gullon sighed and pulled out a green crystal from one of his many pockets. "As you wish," he said, waving his other hand over it. It lit up as he did so, making Lilah wince and look away. "It's done."

"That's it?" Lilah asked, raising a recently plucked eyebrow.

The large demon nodded and stood glowering at the much smaller brunette. He placed the crystal on the mahogany desk, "When it goes blue, she is within the crystal," he informed her in his voice that mainly consisted of growls. "To break the spell, smash it. It's as simple as that."

Lilah nodded. "You will be greatly rewarded for this," she promised. Gullon nodded and turned to leave, just as Drusilla stepped forward and before could blink one of his many eyes, put her small hands around his neck and twisted. His body fell to the floor with a thud.

"Thank you Dru," Lilah smiled, picking up the phone to call for somebody to get rid of him.

"The house is dark. Everywhere locked," Xander informed them, having beaten them there in his car. Willow pulled out her keys and unlocked the door. She flipped the lights on.

"I'll check upstairs, you check downstairs," she told Xander.

Buffy's bedroom was empty. Her bed was neatly made; the room smelt of vanilla. The bathroom door was open and Willow glanced in. Shelves had been pulled down and the shower rail lay on the floor. The feeling in her gut gripped her tighter. Something had happened here. She heard footsteps behind her.

"Nothing down there," Tara said, Xander right behind her.

Tara opened the door to Joyce's old bedroom, now her own. It was empty. All eyes went to Dawn's bedroom door. Slowly they walked over, unwilling to face whatever lay in that room. Xander's hand was first on the door handle and he released it quickly. He turned on a lamp.

Dawn lay in the centre of her bed. Her lilac bedspread, the one that had taken her three days of searching to find the perfect shade, had a deep red stain surrounding Dawn. Blood pooled down the front of her shirt and they could clearly see a bullet hole. Her eyes were closed and her face was white. Clutched in her hands was Mr Gordo.

Tara was the first to find her voice and she cried out. She ran over to the young girl she so deeply cared about and felt her pulse, knowing already that it was fruitless.

Willow let out a sob and fell to the floor, "No…" she moaned out loud, tears streaming down her face.

It couldn't be possible. How could she be dead?

Xander turned and ran of out the room; he went straight into Buffy's room and checked the trunk he had made her. Many weapons were missing. He shook his head grimly.

"Buffy probably saw who did it and has gone to find them. She is probably torturing them right now." Anya sighed, a little too wistfully.

Willow shot her a dirty look, before fresh tears slid down her rosy cheeks. How many others were they going to lose?

"Crying isn't going to help you, you know," Anya said knowledgeably. "It won't bring Dawn back. I mean it's sad and everything…"

"Shut up," Willow spat out, clenching her fist. "Who would do this? Who would shoot a sixteen year old girl in her backyard?"

"I don't think they were aiming at Dawn," Tara put in and the room fell silent as they contemplated her words.

Willow's mobile phone suddenly rang again, making them all jump.

"Is it Buffy?" Xander enquired hopefully.

"No, it's Angel's office," Willow answered. "Hello?" She was quiet for a long time. "Oh god," she murmured. "Okay, thank you." The Witch hung up.

"We need to find Buffy – now."

The car's engine hummed as Xander drove. They were all quiet, waiting for Willow to compose herself enough to speak.

After a long silence she sniffled and took a deep breath. "Cordelia had a vision…"

"She gets visions?" Xander interrupted.

Willow ignored him. "She saw Buffy fighting a vampire and he threw her against a grave. Buffy was hurt – her back or something. When she got home, she was running a bath and Spike came in. H…he…" She paused again. "He wouldn't stop when she said no. He raped her."

Xander sucked in his breath and hit the steering wheel. "Son of a bitch," he exclaimed.

"Oh god…" Tara whispered.

Willow continued to tell the group what Cordelia had seen.

"She could see into her state of mind," Willow said quietly.

"And?" Anya prompted.

"Every one is the same to her; demons, vampires, humans. They are all equal in her mind. And she's looking for Warren."

The car was silent the rest of the journey.

There was a flurry of activity in the Hyperion Hotel. Everyone was working hard, restoring it back to its former self.

"Ah, the old 'gives the place character' philosophy," Cordelia put in, trying to convince Angel to hire decorators. "Guess that served you pretty well living in rotted-out mansions and - " The newly blonde paused when she realised his attention was elsewhere.

Angel reached down and picked up a pretty snow globe. He sat down on his chair and turned it over, to wind it up. A song filled the air as he turned it back round to watch the snow.

"Don't know why I bought this for him," Angel said sadly. "A whim, I guess... Thought he'd like to look at it. The snow. Doesn't ever snow in Southern California."

"Did once," Cordelia reminded him. He looked up at her, trying not to let his memory slip to where it wanted to go so desperately. Suddenly Cordelia let out a loud shriek and fell to the floor, convulsing. Angel darted around and moved objects away from her.

"I thought the visions were painless now?" Fred cried, crouching next to her friend.

Groosalugg nodded, "They are! Or…were."

"No!" Cordelia yelled, seemingly struggling with an invisible person, "Please stop…Ow! No!"

They all looked her with worried expressions on their faces.

"What shall we do?" Fred asked, hoping someone else would have the answer.

Angel shrugged helplessly. "This has never happened before. It's like she's in the vision itself."

Tears poured out of Cordelia's closed eyes.

"Spike, please stop…don't do this," she continued, now sobbing.

"Spike?" Gunn queried.

She fell silent all of a sudden and stood up. Her eyes opened wide, but they were a bright white instead of the usual brown. As if someone was shining a light behind them. Everyone took a step backwards.

"Buffy?" Cordelia asked, breaking the silence. It was Dawn's voice.

Angel gasped.

"Are you okay?" Pause. "What happened?" Her voice was now more urgent. "It was Spike, wasn't it?"

"You think you could just do that to me?" Cordelia suddenly shouted, a male voice no one recognised. "You think I'd let you get away with that?" She laughed. It sounded horrible, an insane laugh coming from deep within her. "Think again."

A scream – Dawn's.

The half-demon dropped to her knees and held an imaginary body, rocking her.

"Oh god, Dawnie." Buffy's voice cried, "Please don't die."

Cordelia started chanting Dawn's name, over and over. Her voice was full of grief. Finally she screamed. It echoed around the large hallway, round and round. It made them all jump. They all looked at each other in shock.

"Cordy?" Fred whispered softly, giving her friend a shake. Still the Seer didn't break from her state.

"Buffy? She's…" Gunn asked, not wanting to finish the sentence.

Angel suddenly snapped out of his daze. "Cordelia?" he roared, "has this happened yet?"

She stood still for a second longer before her knees gave way and she dropped until Angel reached out and caught her a second before she hit the ground.

"Oh god," she moaned, her eyes opening. She looked up, her eyes wide and fearful. Tears continued to pour down her face. "I felt it…everything. Oh god… I have never had a vision like that. Like I was there…not just flashes."

"Tell us everything you saw," Angel demanded. Fred frowned at him for being rough with her.

"Give me the phone," Cordelia said forcefully, shaking her head.

Fred handed it to her quickly and Cordelia dialled a number from memory.

"Hey Willow, it's Cordelia. Don't say anything, just let me talk –" She continued to fill her in with everything she had seen. Watching Angel as he flicked through emotions, first rage as he heard about Spike, then grief at Dawn's death and finally the most amount of fear she had ever seen in someone's eyes.

"I saw more; she's traumatised and grieving. And the Slayer within her is reacting to this. She has surrendered to the darkness within - the primal source of her power. Her strength is amazing; but while she is in this state of mind, the damage she could cause is horrendous. The vision ended then, I don't know if this is permanent or temporary."

She stopped to take a deep breath. "Help her." She hung up the phone and burst into tears. Groo at once knelt next to her and pulled her into his arms.

"I've never felt that much pain from one person," Cordelia sobbed.

Chapter Two