Chapter Five – Traipsing Through the Subconscious
"Is there anything you need to make yourself comfortable?" Adam asked.
"Me no," Dawn said. "But there is something I'm supposed to do to keep other people from freaking," she picked up the phone on her desk and typed in an extension. "Hey Kennedy I need you to come up to my office please."
"May I ask why you wish Ms Winston to be here?" Adam asked.
"Too keep an eye on you two," Dawn answered matter of factly. "It's not personal or anything. But we don't know you guys. More importantly Buffy doesn't know you guys. Big sister is seriously overprotective. It's going to be bad enough when she finds out I was alone in my office with two boys. But if she finds out I was hypnotized without a Slayer nearby to rip your heads off if you try anything, I'll never hear the end of it. Swear to god she still thinks I'm four."
Adam was forced to smile at that comment. "Again allow my to assure you that hypnosis is nothing like what you've seen in the movies. I cannot make you do something against your will. I cannot …" Adam trailed. Something clicked in the back of his mind. Unlike the majority of people he dealt with, Dawn's experience with the supernatural was hardly limited to fiction. "You've encountered beings who are capable of bending a person's will?"
"A few," Dawn acknowledged.
"Vampires?" Peregrine asked.
Dawn leaned back in her chair. "Most of the powers attributed to vampires in movies, like turning into bats or fog and being able to fly is total crap. They are extremely strong. Even a fledging can flip over a small car. Most have pretty good senses; the smell thing is seriously creepy. We've only encountered a couple of vamps that can do the hypnosis thing. In each case the vampire had already displayed some aspect of the power before they were turned."
"So a vampire does retain some qualities of the person they were before?" Adam inquired.
"Yes and no," Dawn said. "There really isn't a hard and fast rule. They retain the memories of the person they were and if they're good enough they can even fool people they use to know into thinking they're still the same person. The demon also tends to accentuate any negative tendencies. They act our all the dark impulses the human part of them had before it was killed. They've also got the hunger and one way or another it will come out. Older vampires can control it. Fledglings can't keep the bloodlust in check for very long. Most vampires, unless they are around a powerful Master, tend to lose all their human behaviors and become almost animal like. Certain bloodlines, those most directly descended from oldest lines tend to impart more control, more cunning. As far as powers beyond speed, strength and enhanced senses," Dawn continued, "like I said, in each case the person that was turned displayed those abilities before they were turned. The magic just sort of hung around."
"This is fascinating," Adam commented. Before he could continue Dawn's phone buzzed.
"Ms Summers," Thomas's voice came over the speaker. "Ms Winston is here."
Dawn clicked a button on her phone. "Send her in."
Adam turned in time to see Kennedy enter the office. She was dressed in workout clothes.
Dawn raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were teleconferencing."
"Got bored," Kennedy replied. "Decided to take the chance to work out with Abigail's girls before they head back to Passau. Once they're gone, you're going to be my main sparring partner. And no offense, but it's more fun sparring with other Slayers."
"None taken," Dawn said. "Although my ego is going to be taking some serious bruising."
"Don't blame me because the monks didn't give you the full on Slayer package," Kennedy said as she took the last seat in front of Dawn's desk.
Adam noted the comment. "That is an interesting observation Ms Winston."
"Just Kennedy, we don't stand much formality around here."
"Of course," Adam said. "But it is interesting. If the Order of Dagon used Buffy as a template for Dawn why didn't they include some of her Slayer abilities? It would have made you much more capable of defending yourself."
"Best guess is they couldn't take that from Buffy," Dawn answered. "We've never really been able to figure out just how the Slayer line was tied to the world. But we do know the two principle links were through the Potentials and the active Slayer."
"Potentials?" Peregrine asked.
"Girls born with the potential to become Slayers," Kennedy replied. "I was one before Sunnydale. The majority were never called. Never even knew they could become Slayers. Led perfectly normal lives."
"When the current Slayer died, one of Potentials became the Slayer, usually happened when they were between 15 and 18 years old," Dawn continued. "And yes, you're right, it was a screwed up system but we didn't create it."
Adam nodded. "So when the Order created you, you assume they were unable to, for lack of a better word, copy whatever power it is that makes your sister a Slayer."
"That's our best guess," Dawn said. "Like I said we don't really know what the criteria the universe uses to pick who becomes a Slayer. But there has never been any case of someone transferring their potential to someone else. Or someone becoming a Potential after their birth."
"Or it could be because you are the Key," Peregrine offered.
"Excuse me," Dawn said.
"It might be that some aspect of what makes you the Key prevented them giving you any of the Slayer's abilities," Peregrine explained.
Dawn shrugged. "That's possible. Never thought about it that way before. But we're still just guessing about all this. Which is why we should get started."
"You are quite right," Adam said mentally chiding himself for being so easily diverted unto other tangents. As fascinating as Dawn's world could be he and Peregrine were here for a reason. "As I explained, my goal today is work out the extent of the blocks the Order of Dagon placed in your mind. We will not be attempting to circumvent them. Do you understand?"
"I guess so," Dawn answered. "But just how are you planning on figuring out how the blocks work?"
"By exploring your memories," Adam answered. "You indicated that the Order's spell created an entire set of memories of your life before you came into being. If the Key was alive and aware, as you believe, then my suspicion is that you retain aspects of the Key's, personality so to speak. That those memories reflect the Key's life."
"To be honest I'm not sure I'm following," Dawn said.
"Take your affinity for languages for example," Adam explain. "That may be some aspect of the Key's abilities manifesting itself. You say you have always enjoyed studying. What were your favorite subjects?"
Dawn shrugged. "History, English anything that gave me a chance to learn about other people or the past. I was into that stuff even before I knew about the supernatural. You're saying that my desire to study is in some way related to the Key."
"Simply that may reflect the Key's and by extension your desire to learn," Adam said. "According to the theory Sir John developed, you and the Key are one. Meaning your life is the Key's life. You're still you. We're just going to be learning about another part of you."
Dawn nodded. "I've gotten so use to thinking of the Key as something separate from me that I've never really considered anything like what you're saying," she paused. "I don't like the idea that the things that make me me are fabrications."
"As I said," Adam replied. "I am only theorizing. If the theory is correct, it is all still you. You wished to learn when you were in the form of the Key and retain that desire after you took the form of Dawn Summers."
"So what do I need to do?" Dawn asked. "Is this a stare in eyes kind of thing or a swinging watch kind of thing?"
Adam chuckled. "Such theatrics are unnecessary. You will most likely be more comfortable on the couch," he said motioning to the couch by the window.
"Makes sense," Dawn said getting up from her chair.
It took a few minutes to reorient everybody. Dawn lay out on the couch, her head propped up on a pillow. Adam was seated in the chair next to her. Peregrine positioned himself at the foot of the couch his sketch pad out.
Kennedy was seated just off to the side. Adam noted her position was such that she could easily reach either himself or Peregrine in seconds. She wasn't making any threatening gestures but it was clear she was capable of intervening at any moment if she sensed a threat to Dawn. Adam was a little put off by the lack of trust but he shrugged it off. Sir John may have vouched for them but as Dawn had pointed out, they don't know them yet. And given the potential power that they were dealing with not to mention Dawn's obviously senior position within the Council an argument could be made that security was actually light.
Although Adam was still unclear as to the exact abilities a Slayer possessed. Sir John had indicated they were physically superior to the average person.
Adam brushed aside such thoughts aside and refocused himself on the task at hand.
"Now Dawn," Adam began. "As I said, this is not the hypnosis of the movies. This will actually be quite similar to the meditation techniques you already practice. The principle differences are that you be aware of what is happening and guided by an outside source. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Dawn answered.
"Very often when working with people images of incidents from their current or past lives will appear," Adam continued. "Peregrine may be able to capture some of those images for us. They often prove very informative. So shall we begin?"
"Sure thing," Dawn said. "Let's go traipsing through my subconscious."
"Now close your eyes," Adam said softly. "Take a deep breath and focus only on the sound of my voice. Picture yourself someplace where you feel comfortable, relaxed. That's right relax. Breath deep. Where are you?"
"The library," Dawn answered. "There is no one else there. It's quiet."
"Very good," Adam said in a soothing voice. "Now I want you focus just on my voice. Ok?"
"Ok?" Dawn said.
"Now slowly, leave the library behind," Adam said. "The library is fading away, you are floating free. There is nothing around you, nothing to distract you. All you hear is the sound of my voice."
Adam waited a few seconds as he watched Dawn relax.
"Can you still hear me Dawn?"
"Yes," she answered in barely a whisper.
"Now I want to focus on your childhood," Adam said. "Tell me about your favorite birthday."
Dawn gave a sort of half smile. "My seventh. Buffy made me this really cute paper crown. She gave it to me when I woke up and said I was going to be a Princess for the whole day …"
The stories went on like that with Adam inquiring about birthdays, holidays and school. Adam began to get a feel for Dawn's childhood memories.
Almost all the stories began with the same refrain:
"Mom and I …"
"I was reading when Buffy came …."
"We were at the beach, mom …"
Adam sensed a pattern and decided to move into Dawn's memories of her life after moving to Sunnydale. The stories became a little more varied:
"It was so cool. Willow as moving the pieces without …"
"Angel was holding my throat …"
"Xander was wearing stupidest …"
"Giles pinching his nose …"
After nearly an hour Adam decided to bring the session to a close.
"Now Dawn I want to picture yourself floating again," Adam said. "Completely free with nothing around you. You are totally relaxed."
Dawn was breathing calmly on the couch. It almost looked like she was sleeping.
"It's almost time to come back," Adam said. "When you awaken you will feel refreshed and rested. You will remember everything we discussed. Do you understand?"
"Now slowly awaken to world of the outer senses," Adam said.
Dawn's eyes opened she blinked and then sat up. "Ok, that was different. I don't think I ever thought that much about my childhood. So did you notice anything?"
"Actually I did," Adam said. "Whenever I directed you to remember an incident, happy or sad it almost always involved just you with either you with your sister, mother or the three of you together. At least until you moved to Sunnydale and then your sisters friends enter more of the stories."
Dawn nodded. "Not a lot of other people around. I don't really have any strong memories of dad from my childhood. Not that I want to."
"Did you sense any patterns in your early memories?" Adam asked.
"I liked school and reading and studying," Dawn said. "I spent a lot of time curled up with a book in my room. Or working on my journal," Dawn paused again. "The less I interacted with people, the less the Monks had to fool around with people's memories, the easier the spell."
"Again, don't read too much into the Monk's efforts," Adam said. "Given that the Key was in relative isolation with Order of Dagon for at least 2,000 years it is logical to suppose that your solitary nature is a reflection of the Key's solitary nature."
Kennedy entered the conversation. "I think I get it now. You're saying that Dawn's life might be a mirror to Key's life. It created the human equivalent to its own existence."
"Essentially yes," Adam said. "I feel we can learn a great deal about the Key and its nature by learning about Dawn."
"But how does that get us closer to finding out with the Key can do?" Dawn asked.
Adam took a moment to collect his thoughts. This was delicate ground. "You've said that you have a difficult time thinking of Key as part of, indeed as being you. In your mind you still think of 'The Key' as distinct, something separate from Dawn Summers. That may represent one of the biggest difficulties in learning about your true nature."
"I'm not following," Dawn said. "I know I'm the Key."
"But you don't accept it," Adam noted. "You still seek to divide yourself. Loving language is Dawn Summers. Being solitary is the Key. You need to accept that both are Dawn Summers. Both are the Key. Both are you. Until you do, it may be impossible to work around the blocks in your memory."
Dawn closed her eyes and thought on what Adam said. Intellectually, she understood what he was saying. But damn it, she was Dawn Summers. She knew that. She didn't know what the Key was. She didn't know how it fit with Dawn or if it was even possible to make the two fit.
"I understand what I am asking is not an easy thing to do," Adam said. "I have often had to reconcile my current life with a past life. And while the process may be painful, I can assure you in the end it was worth the effort. The insights and knowledge I gained have proven critical in my duties as Master of the Hunt."
"I'll try," Dawn said.
"That is all anyone can ask," Adam said. "Now, Peregrine, I notice you are still sketching. Is there anything of interest?"
"You'll have to tell me," Peregrine said as he finished filling in one the images. "As Dawn was speaking the 'shimmer' I've seen around her faded. Her body was more focused. As for what else I saw. Please take a look."
He handed his sketch pad to Adam who held it up so Dawn could see it as well. There were four pages. Each had two or three pencil drawings of either Buffy or Joyce Summers.
Dawn reached out with her hand. She gently brushed one of the pictures of her mom. She would always remember her mom. But actually have pictures of her. Seeing her again. In one picture she was smiling, in another a frown. Dawn shook her head. She missed her so much.
"I assume this shows how closely your memories were tied into your sisters and mothers," Peregrine said.
Dawn barely heard him. The Order used both Buffy and her mom to create her.
"Yo Dawnie," Kennedy said. "You back in the trance?"
Dawn blinked. "Sorry. Like I said, we don't have that many pictures left."
"You are welcome to keep these," Peregrine offered. "Unless you think we need them Adam."
"No," Adam said. "We've learned what we need from them. I believe we have accomplished all we can today."
"Yeah," Dawn said. Too Adam she seemed a touched distracted. She shook her head again as it forcing herself to focus. "Where do you think we need to go from here?"
"I'm not certain," Adam said. "Much of this relies on you. Take the evening to think about what I said."
"Sure," Dawn replied. "I think it might be good if I had some time alone. Kennedy, would you mind keeping these two company until their wives can come to pick them up?"
"Not a problem," Kennedy said.
"We'll call later this evening to work out a time for us to get together tomorrow," Adam said.
"Might be best to do it at Oakwood," Dawn noted. "I'm also invited to Sir John's New Year's party so it won't be a big deal if I come early."
"Very well," Adam said. "We'll speak later."
A/N – Apologies for yet another lengthy delay between updates. Real life is not being nice to me these days.