Disclaimer: Hellboy is the property of Dark Horse Comics and Mike Mignola. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are both the property of Mutant Enemy and their affiliates. I own neither, and am writing this neither for commercial distribution nor profit. If they so require I will take this down whenever they ask. Original Characters are my property and may be used only with permission. Seriously folks, all you have to do is ask. I'm writing Fanfiction for crying out loud.
This piece is something of a brain release for me; and something that actually struck me right after I had watched Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I had, the day previous, been reading the works of some of the great Buffy the Vampire Slayer continuations; particularly the Nyazian Prophecies, WaTchers, and Chosen, who I cannot recommend strongly enough for fans of the series. In these works I saw a treatment of characters such as Dawn and Connor that made me rethink much of what I had thought when I saw them on screen.
I realized something critical after deep thought; Dawn Summers was one of the greatest missed opportunities in storytelling in the last ten years. Though I love Buffy, the potential richness of the character both as a teenage girl and as a powerful supernatural entity were entirely missed by the writers.
This is my own thoughts on her development and also the development of the closing seasons of Angel and Buffy into a truly mind-bogglingly epic story. After all, when you do a cross with Hellboy, you really can't do anything less.
I will also add a note here however to help clear up potential confusion for the audience. This work, though it uses Guillermo Del Toro's imagery and characters of the Fairy Realms, is primarily based in the universe of the Hellboy and BPRD comics. As such there are some things people need to remember.
First; Hellboy and Liz. That was in the movies, which I enjoyed. However I like the comics better for this storyline. In the comics Hellboy seems to look at her more like a little sister. Remember that in the comics, Hellboy's character voice is mature and he has been basically a full adult since the late fifties. Not so much with the young adult antics in this one.
Second; temporal placement. When the two stories merge together, Hellboy has already left the BPRD (post Conqueror Worm) and to some degree gone to meet his destiny (The Island I and II) and the remaining BPRD Agents are just beginning their struggle with the Plague of Frogs in earnest (The Black Flame). For those who care, note that I've accelerated events in the BPRD continuum by about three years. Sadu-hem showed up again pretty much four months after Hellboy disappeared from the service. This will hopefully forestall the continuity fascists; but that may be a slim hope.
So hold on; the world's about to get crazier; the Senior Partners pulling LA into hell (not a huge change in my biased opinion...) was a cakewalk compared to what I've got planned. But there is still hope; there's always hope.
She was bleeding. God, she'd never been more scared in her entire life. There was pain and Glory's laughter. From where she was suspended it was as if time slowed. Spike and Doc fought. Spike fell. And with that she felt her heart twist in her chest. Then there was Buffy. She stood there, freed her. But it was too late. It had started and now there was only one way to stop it. She had to go. She had to stop it, even if she died. Quor-toth could not be allowed into this world. She wouldn't let it. Why wouldn't Buffy let go of her, let her do what she had to do? Why were her eyes so desperate? Her kiss was warm; a sister's kiss. For her; the fraud. She was an impostor, a fake. Why was Buffy doing this? What reason could she possibly have?
She watched as her sister flung herself off the tower, towards the energy that was building.
She didn't know what to think, what to do. As Buffy passed through the energies, she could feel her sister's soul. She could feel that soul being rent and torn by part of her own essence. And she couldn't do a damn thing to stop it. She felt weak and insignificant. Her mother was dead, and she felt Buffy die. But as the soul of the one who'd been a sister to her despite her falseness slipped through her Power;
In the beginning there was nothing.
Then there was Everything.
And it was Good.
So many passed; temporal things, stars and planets were. Things that came and went. However She would abide. Though all things were ordered by the First Will, even its infinite might required a cornerstone to separate one thing from another.
More correctly, it required a Keystone. The lynch pin upon which the fabric of space and time were hung, the thing through which the movement between spaces was possible.
Buffy hit the ground with a pathetic crunch. Tears and blood streamed from her body as she watched the body of that brave girl; her sister, look so broken. It wasn't her sister anymore it was... an empty shell. It was meaningless.
The blue light of the portal should have faded. It intensified to near blinding levels.
She was summoned, brought to this place by those who had no understanding of her true nature. Such arrogant creatures, they played at being gods and rulers. She had been created by the First Will; she had existed before the Fallen had created the Ogdru Jahad. She was eternal, outside of their time and their control.
Even the children of the Ogdru Hem and the Fallen Greater Spirits feared her, feared both what she could do and what would happen to her if they were to derail her purpose. So they left her alone. Free.
Time, as mortals measure such things, passed.
Others came as the Ogdru Hem slept beneath the world, waiting for the appointed time. Some came to claim Her, others to protect Her, and yet more sought to destroy Her.
Not one of them understood Her.
It puzzled Her that She would be hidden from the Ogdru Hem which was named Glorificus. Embodiment was... foreign. Yet it was still interesting; still something of worth in and of itself. Ever had she been curious for it was the First Will that had made her so, just as he had the Greater Spirit who's right hand had birthed and bound the Great Dragon beyond time and in the depths of space. So She became born of the Slayer's blood, and walked as woman for a time.
This was new – this pain. This... suffering. And for the first time She, the spindle upon which the Diamond Wheel turned, felt compassion. And rage. Such rage.
Dawn closed her blue eyes. When those same eyes opened again, it was not the terrified fourteen year old girl that stared out; it was The Key. Her eyes flashed with emerald light, pupil-less and alien. The portal snapped shut as the blood did as blood would do. Green lightning danced around her, crackling and snapping like a caged demon. She was more now... more than the construct the Monks of Dagon had created. She was the Key.
She spoke a single word, and her voice sounded like the chords of a disorganized symphony, but the name was clear to all who could see the great tower. It carried along the wind, and those creatures who heard it and were loyal to Quor-toth's mistress shuddered.
The light flashed green and bright and pure as the wounds upon her body stitched themselves together in a flash.
Then she was gone.
Ben flopped on the plank onto which he'd been tossed. Though his body wasn't in total pain all the time, he knew that Glory had been beaten. Soundly in fact. He'd wondered why Buffy had let him live. He certainly wasn't expecting to, not after all that had happened. He wrenched his head around when he heard footsteps behind him. His eyes fixed upon the jacketed form that had death in his eyes.
Ben knew that he was going to die, despite the surge of hope that burst from him.
"Please," he begged as the Watcher advanced upon him. Yet the aging man was not the one to reach him. There was a flash of green light and a kid was kneeling beside him. Buffy's little sister was standing in front of him with a blank face. Her emotionless gaze seemed to measure him as Giles ground to a stop just behind her. It was funny but other than her blank expression she looked just like the fourteen year old girl he remembered. Except this kid was just a fourteen year old girl the way that he was just a med student; which is to say that it was a woefully inaccurate description. He hadn't noticed it before, but he sure did now.
"Dawn?" Giles asked quietly. His eyes were wide and his tone was cautious.
"Sort of," Dawn replied. "But more."
"The Key," Giles whispered. Ben's eyes bugged out, as Dawn's eyes flashed green.
"Yes," she said simply. Green lightning crackled along her arms as she held one out behind her to ward off the approaching Watcher. "No closer Shadow Man, or I will hurt you. I don't want to, but... this one's mine."
Giles stopped inching forward and held his hands up in a gesture of surrender. His tone was artificially soft; the voice of a man talking down a lunatic or dangerous animal. "Now Dawn, you shouldn't do anything in haste."
"This isn't hasty," Dawn said quietly. "This isn't revenge, this isn't even justice. It is simple prevention. My family is dead. She isn't going to take anyone else's. Goodbye Glorificus."
Her other arm extended and there was an awful screech as gravity twisted around Ben's neck. The sickening snap was loud in the empty alleyway. Then there was a rumbling and Ben's body disintegrated into smoldering ashes. Dawn slowly got to her feet and Giles blanched as she turned around to face him. She blinked a little and shook her head as she looked at him.
"You were going to do it, weren't you?" she asked. Giles nodded slowly. Dawn looked sympathetic and distant, lost in memory.
"I don't think the others would like it," Dawn said quietly. "But I can understand."
"Can you really?" Giles shot at her, with a venom born more out of surprise and anxiety than anger.
"More than you know Shadow Man," Dawn said with a ghost of a smile. Giles' reaction to that title was telling.
"How do you know that name?" Giles asked after a moment. Dawn closed her eyes for a moment and exhaled.
"I'm... I'm starting to remember things Giles," she said faintly. She opened her eyes and Giles could see the shifting nimbus of emerald light that played behind her pupils now. They reflected the light, just like a cat's. "Somehow I can remember. Maybe it was what happened on the... the tower, maybe something else. But I do remember things. I know where your people come from Giles, and I know what they were in that day. Not real nice guys. Of course at the time I didn't give a damn."
Dawn gave a slightly unhinged laugh as she slid to her knees. "All this stuff in my head, all these memories, and none of it..."
She suddenly burst into a wail, tears falling down her face. Giles reached down and hugged her tight to his chest. Her fingers curled like claws into his leather jacket. Her voice broke through the sobs. "None of it hurts this much. Why does it hurt so much?"
She didn't really remember him bundling her up and carrying her away. Somehow someone took care of the funeral arrangements for Buffy. It must have been Xander or Giles. She did remember the funeral though. It was... there were so few people there. Just the Scoobies minus their core. She watched as Willow and Tara clutched each other, as Xander and Giles stood resolute. Even Anya looked like she was in some kind of pain, hanging onto Xander's side. Spike, good old William the Bloody, was nowhere to be seen. Probably off getting drunk like a looser again. Dawn didn't know why that thought stung her so much.
The others each went forward first, saying or doing whatever they felt like they needed to do. Some placed flowers, other items, and yet others words. She honestly didn't really pay attention until it was her turn. And her... she ran her hand across the stone in front of her and smiled just a little through her own tears.
"Right next to mom," she whispered. "Just like you would have wanted. Don't worry about them. I'll... I'll take care of them Buff. I promise you I will. Rest in peace. If anyone deserves it, you do."
She stood and took a step back from where the shell that was no longer her sister rested. Tara sidled up behind her and wrapped a strong arm around her. Muscles from a young life of farm work supported her and warmth flowed into her. She felt so cold, even though it was May in southern California. Her long fingered hands curled around Tara's strong arm. The part of her that was just Dawn wanted to stay here, to bask in this. She wanted to get something... anything back. But the part of her that was as old as time knew that wouldn't ever work. She could see the others around her falling apart and she was powerless to do anything to stop it.
Dawn gently prompted Tara, who released her reluctantly. She turned to smile at Tara and Willow. "Thanks isn't enough for what you guys have done. But there's something that I need to do. I need to go... I can feel something calling me. I have to leave for a while."
The assembled Scoobies looked at her with expressions ranging from outright disbelief to a sort of patronizing smile. She hated Xander's stare the most. "You think I'm kidding right? Just a kid playing around?"
Anger made the others regard her with a more cautious stare. She had been re-learning her own limits over the past three days between bouts of crying. Still, she had her control down enough for this. She stretched out her arm, and green light snaked out causing all of the Scoobies to gawk slightly as they were suddenly all in the entryway of the Magic Box. Dawn unleashed a fragment of her own power and levitated just a little. Her not inconsiderable height for a fifteen year old made it fairly easy to loom over them with streaks of green white lightning crackling over her body. Eyes glowed with green power and her voice had taken on it's symphonic character.
"I am not just a child," she said. "I'm more than that. I'm the Key."
Giles had seen this before; he was the least taken aback. The others looked at her with fear (Anya), worry (Willow), and some degree of awe (Xander). She released the power, allowing in to retreat into her self as she settled on the floor of the Magic Box.
"Sorry about that guys," she said with a sad smile. "But... I needed to get your attention."
"Dawn patrol," Xander said carefully. "You can do that without the teleporty freaky mojo. I promise."
"No, I don't think I could," Dawn said. "Not for this. I need to go. I don't need a car or anything; I can travel just about anywhere, but I need to go. There's something I have to do. For Buffy."
"So this is about misplaced guilt over the death of your sister?" Anya asked. Dawn threw her a very evil glare.
"No," she pouted. It wasn't the most convincing rebuttal they'd ever heard.
"Dawn," Giles began. "We know you're hurting..."
"And we are too," interjected Xander with a surprisingly firm and sincere tone.
"But... Buffy wouldn't want you making any rash decisions like this," Giles continued. "I must admit I'm worried as well. I'm sure you all know by now j – just how dangerous it is to be on your own. And for all that you have these... powers now, you still have the mind of a girl. It will be dangerous to you in the extreme."
"Not like Buffy ever ran away," Dawn muttered. She crossed her arms under her breasts and huffed. "And I'm not going to be running away."
"What are you doing then?" Xander asked with a raised eyebrow. "I don't think that you just got the urge to go on the end-all be-all sightseeing tour because they're going to close down the arm of the Statue of Liberty in a few months."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Dawn said, leaning against a nearby bookcase looking painfully young.
"We're just worried about you Dawn," Tara began. "We're not trying to push you away. Tell us what you're going to do. It's not like any of us could really stop you from going anyway."
Willow's hands twitched reflexively at that, and Giles gave her a very concerned look. Dawn gave a bitter laugh.
"Can't I worry about you guys too?" she asked in a rising voice. "Buffy... Buffy just died out there. We have, what, the Buffybot for patrolling? Faith is in jail, nobody knows if another Slayer will show up do they Giles?"
Giles frowned and polished his glasses, but declined to give any other answer. Dawn gave a bitter smirk.
"Figures," she muttered. She looked around. "Guys we need something... we need help. We can't do this by ourselves. Not without Buffy."
No one had any answer for her right then. No one could answer. Dawn pushed off of the bookshelf behind her. "We lost Buffy. We aren't getting her back. But... we did gain something else."
Greenish flames leaped over her arms as Dawn extended them to the side of her body. "We got something else, something to tip the balance a little bit. But I need to know how to use this, how to control it fully in a human body. In my body."
Giles' eyes widened as he placed his spectacles back on his nose. He was the first to truly understand what Dawn was implying. "Absolutely not! You will not be doing this Dawn. This is complete foolishness! You sister did not die so that you could... pursue this, this, completely idiotic idea."
"No she didn't," Dawn replied in a cold voice. "She died to protect her little sister who wasn't even real in the first place. Admit it, none of you would want me instead of her, would you? I know that you want her back. I can't... I can't be Buffy. Not in a thousand years. But... I can be something else."
"No," Tara interjected quietly. She looked over the faces of the other Scoobies, confused and without a response to Dawn's cutting remark. "You can't say it like that. T-That isn't true. We didn't want either of you to die. It isn't about who was better, or who was worth more. You're both precious to us."
"But sometimes you don't have a choice do you?" Dawn asked. Her mouth quirked into a teary smile. "I didn't want to die. Dawn the girl who hasn't even had a real date yet didn't want to die. Dawn the Key who's existed since the beginning of time didn't want to die. And... I just let her do it. I could have stopped her, really stopped her, but I didn't. I let her die for me. Can you forgive that, huh?"
Dawn glared at Giles, daring him to do anything, but he was too stricken, too shocked to do anything other than looked torn. She looked at them all. "You thought I was powerless, and I kind of was. Until I started to die, when Glory's spell was ripping me apart to open that gateway. It... I guess it broke the monks' spell on me. It shattered my illusions. I remembered so much. I was there you know? When everything started. I remember the Beginning."
She closed her eyes as Tara and Willow both gave her goggle eyed stares. Dawn smiled just a little bit. "It... It was like music. I could hear the spheres spin, feel it as the music sang the universe to life. It was... cool. Really cool."
Xander barked in laughter at her totally inadequate words. He couldn't help himself. "All that English homework that we helped you with and the best word you have is cool? What about all those Scrabble winners that Mrs. Vanholt made you memorize?"
"I guess I suck at English," Dawn shrugged, opening her eyes. Her smile became a frown. "I didn't understand. I didn't want to loose that, didn't know what would happen if I was destroyed. If I died. Do I have a soul? Do I go to heaven? Will I ever see them again? I don't know."
Dawn's frown smoothed out a little. "I'm pretty sure I won't see them. I'll never see heaven guys. Not like you will. I... I don't belong there. I knew it was a mistake telling you this. Look, I'll be back. I promise I will; but right now I just can't stay here. Good bye, and thank you for everything. I'll come back when it's time."
"Dawnie wait!" Willow exclaimed, but Dawn was already wreathed in green light. Then she was gone.
The Scoobies stared long and hard at the vacated Magic Box.
"Well, I believe that I speak for all and sundry when I say that was completely unexpected," Xander began. Anya looked up at him with a frown on her face.
"Dawn running away?"
"Well that too," Xander said thoughtfully. "Though I was more concerned with the teleporting mojo myself."
"What can we do?" Tara whispered.
"There is only one thing we truly can do," Giles said. "And that is to wait."
And so they did.