Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy. All things Buffy belong to Joss and company. I'm just playing with them for a bit.
AN: This is one of my all time favorite episodes and I've just gone and butchered.
You people are going to hate me in this chapter but I wrote this to show a different side of Dawn. This is a Dawn who has not only lived through a world gone to Hell, warring against itself, she's also a Dawn without a Buffy to hide behind. This is a Dawn that had to learn to fight (with Spike as her teacher, who's only thought is Dawn's safety) or die and sometimes that meant killing humans. To keep from going completely batty she's developed a second personality ... a predator. It's a bit like a person with MPD but still unique in that Dawn is the one to bring it forward. She, willingly, gives up control and the only thought of this other personality is Dawn's safety - it can and will do anything to keep Dawn alive, including keeping 'Dawn' from re-emerging at the wrong time (it has no want to be in full control every second of every day, though). It's why it was created after all.
AN2: I rearranged the timeline a bit. Instead of going to the Master with their failure, Xander & Willow take a bit of initiative and head towards the library to try getting Cordy alone and kill her first. With Dawn there it will set the timeline back on track ... it may seem a bit different to you hard core fans though.
- This will almost certainly be rewritten at some point. I'm just not completely happy with it the way it is but it will work for now. If you find any huge holes let me know so I can fill them in with the rewrite. No beta - All mistakes are mine.
Dawn had seen Anya almost immediately, talking to Cordy. She'd taken off at full run hoping beyond hope to get there in time, to stop it.
*Why hadn't she remembered this?? Stupid, stupid, stupid.*
"No! Do...," she shouted, reaching out to grab Cordelia, curving her fingers around her arm. She heard Anya proclaim, "Done."
Dawn felt the world tilt. Blinking, she found herself standing alone in the middle of a dark street. Her hand grasping air. She looked around for Cordelia but found she truly was alone.
"Shit!" She'd just jumped a wish. She didn't even think something like that was possible. With no Cordy around, either the wish had taken longer to drag her along or remembering all that Anya had said about this world, *she'd been so proud of it. So proud that she'd created or latched onto it that she'd have told anyone willing to listen.*, Anyanka was trying to kill her. To set her down in the middle of downtown, just after the sun set if her guess was correct, was murder. She headed at a fast clip, though hopefully not fast enough to draw attention to herself, toward the library. If she could find Giles she just might be able to get the timeline reset sooner.
*Right, I don't know what will happen if I die. I know Anya said Cordy died but she's protected by the wish. If someone undoes it, like Giles originally did, the timeline will reset itself. Everything will go back the way it was. The problem with that is I don't know what will happen to me if I die. When the wish resets will I stay dead? Will I be brought back like Cordy or will the whole thing be reset? Will I be sent back to the future where the world is going to Hell?*
"So, just don't get dead," she muttered to herself, only to freeze when a voice answered behind her.
"Ya see, there may be a problem with that," the voice sounded mildly amused though Dawn could hear a hint of irritation.
*Shit. I'd know that voice anywhere.* Another thing she hadn't remembered about what happened in this timeline. *They were going to kill Cordy, headed toward the school. The same direction as you, Idiot! I have to play this carefully, they just lost their dinner to Giles and the other 'White Hats'. They probably haven't eaten yet. There's no way I can outrun them. I can't fight them either. They may be young but they're the Master's favorites for a reason. I have to take a chance. A mighty big chance, that Giles is researching Anya and has called in Buffy to the rescue. The only way ... into the lion's den. I have to either outsmart the Master or get locked up with the rest of the captured humans.*
Dawn gave an irritated sigh, she allowed her shoulders to slump as she turned. Standing behind her was Xander with a confident smirk on his face while Willow peaked around his shoulder, watching Dawn like a hawk watches a mouse before swooping down on it. *Be calm, confident, in control.* "It just had to be you two, didn't it?" Dawn asked with disgust. "Well, you're just going to have to control yourselves. I need to see the Master." *Eww. I really don't want to.*
Xander gave a laugh. "Did you hear that, Wills? A human wanting to see the Master."
Willow's bottom lip jutted out into a pout. "I'm hungry, Xander and she looks so tasty. We can share her, he'll never have to know."
Dawn gave a snide laugh, "Newborns! They never use their noses." Dawn spoke louder as she asked, "You think he won't know? He'll know and even your favored status won't save you." *I just hope I can play this right and don't forget anymore of the little details I know about this freaky world. Spike and Dru are dust in this world, or at least believed to be - according to Anya, the Master wouldn't say one way or another. I have Spike's jacket and Spike's bite. If they truly are dead, I may just be able to get the Master's protection. It's a gamble. If they aren't dead I'll be lucky if he tosses me in to a cell. It's the only chance I have though. Store your disgust away, Dawn. After the world resets itself everything will change back. Spike would tell you to do what you have to do to survive. He might have had a soul but when it came to your safety, he was ruthless. The future is more important. Anything that happens here will only be remembered by you and maybe Anya, if she's keeping an eye out.* With a mental deep breath, she pushed 'Dawn' to the back of her mind.
Dawn had lived with Spike for so long that her morals were a bit more flexible than most 'White Hats'. She brought forward all the cold, calculating ruthlessness. That emotionless place that she'd built for herself after Buffy was murdered, that place that grew into something else, the one that came forward when she and Spike had no other choice but to fight those soldiers, only following orders, that were sent after them. She couldn't be nice, innocent little Dawnie in those moments. She needed that alien, comforting presence now, to survive. They may have 'blended' as the war drew on but Dawn could never be as ... as soulless, as the presence she allowed to take over now.
Willow and Xander must have felt the change in the air or maybe just the change within her, as they looked a tad nervous. Willow looked to Xander for his final say.
"Fine, we'll take her to the Master ... and if we're lucky he'll let us kill her. Come on." Xander's hand shot out and grabbed her around the upper arm. Dawn's eyes narrowed, and though there would be bruises later, she didn't protest as he drug her along, Willow trailing behind.
The streets were dark and fairly empty, only a few vampires out hoping for the trill of catching their own meal. Xander led her in the direction of the Bronze. As they got closer she could hear the music blaring out and over that the screams of victims who had been caught out after dark and the slurping of the feeding vampires standing outside.
The moment Dawn was lead through the door the wave of despair, grown to almost a physical thing, that slammed into her almost had Dawn pushing to the surface of her mind, pushing the 'predator' back, only stopping at the last second. Allowing Dawn to come forward would be death. The 'predator' ruthlessly pushed her down further.
Terrified humans suspended in cages hung above their heads, a few humans were scattered around the room, those taken out to be 'played' with. One of the stupider vampires, *a minion* her mind supplied, tried to make a grab a her only to be pushed back by a growling Xander.
Dawn was pushed through a curtain with a forceful shove from Xander, only just stopping herself from stumbling. She raised her eyes from the floor to see the Master rising from his chair. It seemed she would be forgotten for the moment or maybe the better word would be tested as the Master greeted Xander and Willow, a girl held in his hand by the mass of curly hair. He looked disgusted as he explained why he had lost his appetite, offering the girl to Willow. One thing Dawn had gathered from her brief stay with the duo was that Willow was always hungry.
*I wonder how she keeps her figure, eating so much with hardly any humans to chase as a workout?* a disinterested voice in her mind asked as she watched Willow gorge herself at the Master and Xander's approval.
They continued to talk, keeping an interested eye on Willow. *Oh, the Master's temper showed a bit at that.* she thought as the Master realized that the Slayer was going to be summoned because Xander and Willow hadn't been able to kill Cordy before she had a chance to tell Giles, *Someone's in trouble.* sing-songed through her mind. *And he didn't even give them a chance to say they were headed to kill her when they found me.* Dawn could feel the Master's eyes on her throughout the talk. Always watching for some kind of reaction he might exploit but the Predator felt nothing but the vague feeling of the Dawn buried deep. She gave no reaction but a vague disinterest, as she felt nothing else.
Once he had delivered his threat to the duo and they left to carry out their mission; he turned his attention to her.
*This is it. It has to be done correctly.* Dawn stepped forward and dropped to her knees in front of the throne the Master was once again seated upon, bowing her head low. "My Master is dust and I ask for the protection of his line, the Head of the Clan Aurelius." Dawn's voice came out clear and sure.
The Dawn inside may have flinched but the Predator in charge now didn't as a clawed hand made it's way around her throat, the sharp thumbnail cutting into her the soft flesh of her chin, blood welling and trickling down both his hand and her neck to soak into the shirt she wore, as it pushed her head up and to side, baring her throat.
The Master lent in, drawing a breath, nose snuffling along Dawn's neck. His breath came out as a sigh, a name, "William."
While the Master had hated Darla's choice of Angelus, who was much too impetuous for his own good ... the Master had been proven correct on that as shown by the curse of a soul. The Master hadn't liked the choices Angelus made with his Childer either or the work he hadn't seemed to want to do with their training. He'd turned each one out when they'd come sniffing around for a place by his side, just as Angelus had done those long years ago and look where it had gotten him now, nothing more than a puppy for the newborns to play with.
Angelus' last choice though, William, with a bit of training and seclusion from the crazy Drusilla - another one of Angelus' fumbles, would have made the perfect addition to his court. Angelus had ruined that one, the Master thought with a sigh. You never try to break a vampire like that, those were the ones who lasted through millennia, much like himself.
He'd been fond of young William, Spike as he last heard him and he'd felt it when he'd dusted, as he'd felt Drusilla only moments before that. He'd later learned William had fought through a mob to get to her, only to watch as she'd dusted. A disappointment that one had turned out to be.
The one thing he hadn't heard, or even felt, was the addition, the girl in front of him. Her being human could have explained that though. He felt her now, now that he'd drawn the scent of her in; she was family. The scent also infused into the long jacket she wore.
The Master lent back in his throne to look at her. She was a pretty thing, young and innocent as first glance but the eyes, oh the eyes told a different story. They were big and blue; they seemed to fill her face but they held nothing. He almost felt a chill flitter down his spine. It was different even than vampires. They were soulless but they felt - malice, excitement, bloodlust, and those odd few who kept some of their humanity; they even felt the demon equivalent of love. She felt nothing. She was puzzle. And he liked puzzles. The Master smiled as he grabbed her from the floor, spun her back to his chest, fangs sliding through the vulnerable skin of her neck. A hitch of breath was all the girl gave as took a sip of the blood welling up and he withdrew them. *Must keep the human safe if I'm to unravel the puzzle. She'd be perfect ... for now.*
The Master turned toward the curtain and called on of the minions of the other side to take her to a room, *brainless idiots would put her in a cage even with my mark. It was so hard to get good minions these days*, and allow her to freshen up; to find her something pretty to wear as she was to be his guest at the factory opening.
The Master was left to his thoughts as Dawn followed the minion sedately to a room.
Getting the blood off of herself, with a quick shower, felt nice but overall Dawn still felt pretty dirty. This world gave her the wiggins. The dress she'd be forced to wear was also something wig-worthy. It looked like something Drusilla would have felt perfectly at home in, to be honest she thought she might have actually seen it on Dru once before.
*It might have even been pretty if my mind didn't conjure up the yuckiest pictures to go along with it; like the one where Dru skips merrily down the street ripping the hearts out of everyone she meets all while wearing the dress.*
Dawn shook the thoughts from her mind and examined the dress as she slipped it on; it had a corset style top with red and black strategically placed to give an almost flowered design. Attached to the top was a gauzy diaphanous skirt. While full length the material gave the dress an overall flowy look, which would make it easier to move while wearing. Not really her style but it would have been perfect for Dru. For now, she'd do as Spike had taught her and make do with what she had.
A quick spell on her drying hair added some light curls, which were summarily pinned up and left to tumble, creating the illusion of a crown at first glance. A search of the room found a vanity that held makeup. Also not her style, too dark and vamp-y but it'd go perfectly with the dress. The smoky shadow gave her what Buffy would have termed 'raccoon eyes', a swipe of blush, and the dab of red gloss added to her lips made them look wet with blood. A look in the vanity mirror and she decided she was ready. A deep breath brought the Predator fully to the surface again.
When Dawn opened the door she was met by a minion so young he couldn't seem to control his game-face around a human yet but as he didn't attack she was forced to accept that the Master's mark was good for something.
She followed him through the winding hall back to the curtained throne room.
Dawn watched from her place at the Master's side as he got himself a drink from the espresso machine and Willow and Xander returned. She watched dispassionately as they stopped in the doorway in shock at seeing her still living and breathing or maybe just at seeing her sit so regally beside the Master in a dress fit for a Princess, before continuing into the room.
She listened and felt a pang inside when they confirmed Cordy's death but pushed it down. Their survival was foremost and the girl would live again besides.
Dawn felt no need to sit through the day before they headed for the factory with the Master, so she readied herself to return to her room when she heard Willow ask if she could play with puppy and the Master's affirmative.
"Take our guest with you. I'm sure she's eager to see her Master's sire."
*This could be the chance I've been waiting for.* Dawn turned to him as she asked, "May I tell him?" When she saw him hesitate she added, "It is his right."
A snarl was as the Master turned to her, "Do no quote the laws to me!"
Bowing her head with just the right amount of subservience, "Forgive me."
He made a show of thinking it over, though they both knew he couldn't go back on the laws now that they had been acknowledged. "You may tell him." A wave of his hand dismissed them. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Xander and Willow looking in awe and a hint of jealously. She was sure the Master never forgave anyone questioning him - maybe even going so far as to not teach them the laws so they had no way in which to question him. If Dawn hadn't made herself such a sweet puzzle she would have been long dead. Just another body that had been tossed aside.
Dawn hurried after the duo. She'd need to be careful around them from now on, jealousy in a vampire was never good for the one they were jealous of; it usually ended in the death of one of them.
Dawn followed the vampire duo to a stone room with a small cell, the bars cutting the room in half. On the far wall she saw an assortment of 'toys'. Some she recognized and others she didn't. Another look at the cage revealed a figure huddled in the shadows, back to the room.
Angel, or at least this world's Angel, he looked pitiful ... like a puppy that had been beaten so many times it started to expect it. Puppy was a fitting name for this vampire. Dawn wondered if there was any fire left in him? There was also an idle thought to what she would do if there wasn't anything left within him - if he truly had been broken so thoroughly.
A glance a Willow showed the vampire was all set to start the 'fun' but Dawn figured she should put a stop to that quickly. She had no wish to try to talk to someone who was in horrible pain ... you could never be sure if they were listening or even if they understood.
Dawn stepped to the bars, the shape gave a small shudder but otherwise gave no indication that he knew anyone was in the room. "Leave us." Dawn gave a wave of her hand, her gaze never straying from the figure so she caught the slight stiffening of this shoulders. He'd finally realized there was someone new.
A growl of discontent was heard from behind her, "I want to play with Puppy." Dawn, so used to reading Willow could hear the pout in her voice.
"You may play with him when I have finished." Dawn spun around to face her, chin tilting stubbornly up and her eyes narrowing. "Would you like to go to the Master and tell him that you won't let me do what he gave me permission to?" Dawn switched her voice, lowering the volume, to carry a measuring tone, adding a hint of malice as she glanced back at the cage. "Besides, the news I bring will devastate him."
Xander finally managed to coax Willow from the room at that, handing over the key as they left. She knew they wouldn't go far. Just far enough to give her the illusion of privacy, especially to human senses. It would have been different had she been a vampire herself but Dawn, as she was now, would never be able to say for certain that they'd been eavesdropping.
A turn of the key in the cell's lock gave a click as the door swung open. Dawn kept her footsteps light as she walked the small distance to the curled up form, using her foot to turn him to his back. Dawn crouched beside him, giving him a good look over.
It was a pitiful sight, to see the mighty Angelus shake, terrified of her. Dawn was sure he could hear her heartbeat, as weak as he looked his senses were probably in overdrive. Yet still, there was fear of her. They'd really done a number on him but Anya had said he'd helped so there must be some fire in him ... somewhere. Some spark she could ignite.
"Hello, Angelus." Dawn kept her voice soft with all the right inflections to let those listening outside think she was enjoying this.
Once she was sure she had his attention, she raised her finger to her lips in the universal sign for him to be quiet. Dawn reached out for his mind with her own, encircling it as she pushed her thoughts down the connection. #She's coming.#
She watched as he gave a startled jerk but otherwise was silent as he sent her a questioning look, eyes wide. #She's coming, the Slayer is coming.# Just that and already a small spark of hope was building in his eyes.
Dawn picked up the vocal conversation seamlessly. "The Master thought I should deliver the news personally. I bring news of your youngest." #Help me.#, she whispered softly into his mind, allowing 'Dawn' to peak through her eyes for the barest of moments. "I, the pet of William the Bloody, bring news of his demise along with Drusilla the Mad." Dawn watched, cutting the connection between them, as horror crept into his eyes, pleading following soon after.
She gave a nod of confirmation as she stood, turning her back on him as she walked out of the room. A howl of grief following in her wake.
Outside the door Dawn caught a glimpse of Willow and Xander at the end of the corridor. She gave them a regal nod to show she was finished and turned toward her guard at the opposite end. It was time for her to rest until tonight and the big showdown. She'd need all her strength so she could avoid being caught in the crossfire. In the chaos to come she could easily be mistaken for an enemy of either side.
(AN: NOT SURE HOW TO START THIS BUT I'LL ADD SOMETHING MORE INTRO WORTHY BEFORE USING IT. For right now, everything is exactly the same - Master makes his speech, Cordette is sucked dry by machine, and Buffy and Angel arrive. Fight ensues - Voila!)
*Oh great*, Dawn thought as she looked around. She would have to deal with the wonder twins before she could find a defensible position and wait for Giles to break the wish. Xander had grabbed her from behind but an elbow to the face got a growl and enough slack in his grip for her to break free. She was in her element. A right hook, a jab to the gut, and a knee to the face. A shove sent him off the platform and in the direction of Angel. He wasn't her problem anymore.
A quick back-fist before Willow could regain her bearings after seeing what a 'weak' human had done to her mate, spun her and a kick to the rear sent her into the arms of the prisoner White Hats. They'd been almost too easy to beat. *I guess that's what you get when there's no Slayer and the prey doesn't fight back.*
She only has a moment to breath, a moment to look out over the fight below. Willow being dragged off by Oz and Larry, Angel's dust settling on the floor to be joined a moment later by Xander's.
Dawn has to twist to break the grasp suddenly on her arm. A fist to the throat crushes his larynx; he was young and it takes him a minute to realize he doesn't need to breathe anymore and that's all the time Dawn needs. A flying leap and a duck and tumble sees her safely from the platform.
Dawn turns at the sound of a crack, the world seeming to slow around her. "Buffy." She watches a very different Buffy's, yet still Buffy, knees hit the ground first before her body follows.
Dawn can almost feel the magic in the air being disrupted. She wonders vaguely what will happen to this world ... will it continue or will it forever loop from this point? She glances at the humans fighting but even if they kill most, or even all of the vampires, the Master would just make more. If this world continues on Dawn wants it to have a chance to be better.
Dawn knows she only has one chance at this before the world rights itself and with the chaos around her she may just pull it off. She moves forward with all the stealth Spike had taught her, grabbing for the sword she'd talked the Master into letting her have. Adrenalin rushes through her as she comes upon the Master's unprotected back; she swings with all her might at his neck and is suddenly scrabbling at the arm attached to the hand wrapped around her throat, the Master's furious face all she can see. Darkening spots are already appearing in her vision and the clang of the sword hitting the ground still echoing above the sounds of fighting.
He'd moved so fast, blocking her strike with one hand and grabbing her throat with the other. She was going to die. *Maybe I'll have something to talk about with Buffy if I make it back. We can have an 'I was killed by the Master' Club.* She knew she had to do something before lack of oxygen became too much. Moving one of her hands towards her leg, pulling her dress up bit by bit ... *not fast enough ... quicker*. She could barely see the Master's estatic face, vision so dark. Finally, finally she'd managed to reach the stake she'd strapped to her thigh. *Note to self: Never put a stake somewhere so hard to reach.* Finding the right angle she shoved forward; air rushing into her lungs as she was dropped. The world faded around her. She'd never know if she'd managed to hit the heart.
She collapsed, arm falling from where it was wrapped around Cordelia's cardigan.
"What is your deal?" Dawn heard the click of Cordy's shoe on pavement as she turned away, Anya trailing behind, wishes still issuing from Cordelia's mouth.
*Man is it good to be home* was Dawn's last thought as the darkness closed in on her.
When Dawn wakes she's laid out on the library table. She can't see any of the Scoobs but she can hear Giles moving around somewhere to her left. A groan escapes as she pushes herself into a sitting position.
"Dawn?" A glance over her shoulder shows Giles carrying an armful of books out of his office which he sets on the counter before he hurries to her side. "Dawn, are you alright? What happened? The girls and Xander said you collapsed after shouting at Cordelia."
*sigh ... How do you explain something like this?* "In a way. What do you know of Vengeance Demons?" Her voice was husky when she finally spoke. Dawn trailed her fingers around her throat. She wondered if it would bruise. Had her body truly been in that other world or had a body been constructed for her by the magics of the wish? After all, weren't Xander and Willow perfectly human in this world and vampires in the other? Yet, they were still human now that the wish had been broken. Had the world been altered or had Anya truly managed to latch onto some alternate world? Dawn gave a harsh shake of her head. Now was not the time for such thoughts.
"Not much, actually. T-They're wish granters. Taken from the name, wish granters for vengeance."
Dawn nods her head. *At least he knows something.* "Right. No one's sure how much power they have because they rely so much upon the wish and the person wishing ... most of the time, has no idea they're wish will ever be granted. They tend to say the first thing that comes to mind, which while gruesome sometimes, is mostly pretty simple." A glance up at him shows he's understanding.
"Cordelia made a wish, didn't she?" Dawn can almost catch a glimpse of Ripper peaking out before he's pushed down.
"Yes, but as I said ... most people wish for something simple. Cordelia has had a lot of time to stew and she's pretty vicious when she's not hurting. If she had wished about someone else, almost anyone else, it wouldn't have affect much at all."
"Who ... what did ... what was the wish?" *Oh look. I made Giles stutter and clean his glasses.* A smile curled her lips before she sobered.
"She wished Buffy had never come to Sunnydale." Dawn can almost see the thoughts fly by in his head, all the things Buffy had done since she'd arrived, all the things she'd stopped. Right back to the beginning.
"Practically ruled the town."
"How is that ... future knowledge again?"
"Partly but something weird happened Giles ... weirder than what we normally deal with. When I grabbed Cordy, she was just finishing making her wish. Somehow I ... hopped the wish. I was dragged along but not just dragged along. I don't know if Anya knew I was along for the ride but I got dropped in later than Cordelia and also in the middle of downtown ... the vampire district."
"You, you have no idea how you could have ... hopped; do we have to use hopped?"
It was the odd look and the way he said hopped that made her do it. She met his eyes and before she could stop herself she was laughing; a giggle at first before full blown laughter took it's place and he was laughing with her. Her laugh was cut off when a yawn broke through.
"Can we talk about this tomorrow Giles? I'm dead on my feet. I was there for about a day and it wasn't exactly restful."
"Are you hurt?" It was nice to see concern in someone's eyes. Since she'd arrived the Scoobs had looked at her like she wasn't wanted, something beneath their notice unless she had something useful and before this time there was only Spike; poor Willow, dead and buried with the others in the ruins of the Council. Even if her body still moved, she'd been dead inside and couldn't worry about anyone, although she'd played at it and gotten fairly good at the end.
"No. Not much more than a few bruises ... nothing sleep can't cure." Dawn slipped down from the table and headed towards the stacks. Just before she slipped out of sight she paused. "Thanks Giles." She was gone before he could reply.
The bite. What is there to say about the bite. I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to have Angel find out and keep it quite yet but he will to both. It's a mark ... not anything sexual like a mating mark or anything but more a mark of family. When the demons first started coming out to the public Spike marked her to keep her safe. Not many demons would try to harm a Master vampire's family. With Spike dead (hopefully for Dawn) in the Wish-verse she's allowed to ask the Head of the Family for protection. He doesn't have to give it, as she's not really a vampire - still perfectly human, only hear her out but it is common courtesy to protect her or let her leave unharmed if the Head decides not to offer her protect ... but this is the Master so even I didn't know what would happen until I had to write it. He's like the little devil on my shoulder as I wrote this. My muse trying to temper his evilness by being the angel.