1. The Beginning

"Buffy, it's started."

The two sisters stared as a hole ripped right through reality, the night sky rippled and cracked and energy started pouring out, causing havoc below. Buffy was vaguely aware that her friends on the ground were in deep trouble, but right now she had to prioritize. She was here
I have to know that you'll take care of her, that you'll keep her safe.
I won't let anything happen to you. I promise.
The last thing she'll see is me protecting her.

to protect Dawn.

(Far below them...
Anya pushed Xander out of the way from falling debris, taking the hit herself.
Willow and Tara locked eyes, preparing to die together.
Spike desperately tried to get to his feet, wincing at the pain in his broken bones.
Giles looked up, sighed and slowly shook his head.)

"I'm sorry..." Dawn felt her words getting lost in the crackle from the opening portal. Just as well; how do you apologize for ending the world? You don't. You act. You stop it.

"It doesn't matter." Buffy reached out to hug Dawn and instead found herself stopping her sister from running past her. "What are you doing?"

"I have to jump. The energy –"

"It'll kill you!"

"I know." It's not like I ever existed anyway. "Buffy, I know about the ritual. I have to stop it."


The tower shook violently as another burst of energy hit it. Dawn almost lost her footing, feeling weaker and more desperate every second as blood drained from her. "I have to! Look at what's happening!" As if on cue, the rift widened enough to let a huge dragon-like creature through; it swept around the tower, and both of them felt the stench and the winds of hell from its wings. "Buffy, you have to let me go! Blood starts it, and until the blood stops flowing it'll never stop. You know you have to let me... It has to have the blood!"

The world was eerily silent for a while, as Buffy stared at her, her face contorted with emotion, trying to come to a decision. Then Dawn saw the pain melting away into calm acceptance, the rising sun seeming to illuminate the Slayer from within as she realized what she had to do. As did Dawn.

"Buffy... no!"

"Dawnie... I have to –"

"NO!" Dawn refused to even let her finish the sentence. This was her apocalypse, her fault, and she was not going to let Buffy kill herself to save someone who wasn't even real. Buffy may have had Slayer reflexes, but Dawn had the memories of growing up playing touch football with a sister who always fell for the same moves. She faked right, went left and threw herself over the edge.

To be continued, obviously.