Disclaimer: The Buffyverse is owned by Whedon, he is God, I'm merely playing.

Warning: Very dark fic, mentions of severe violence, rape ahead.

Dawn is screaming as the slayers bring her in, her face black and blue with bruises, blood mixed in with tears and snot and things Buffy doesn't want to know about. The skin on her cheek is almost scraped off and Buffy knows from hard learned experience that it's from being dragged against the asphalt. A chunk of her hair is missing, yanked off her head when she tried to run, the viciousness leaving her scalp dotted with bloody points. As they clean her up, she keeps brokenly repeating the only word she can, 'Why?'

Why did they do this? Why did four grown men attack a nineteen year old coming home after class? Why did they beat her to the point of unconsciousness? To the point where Buffy had the wiccas scry for her because she missed check in by thirty minutes. Why the ruthlessness? Why the rage in ganging up against somebody so helpless?

Buffy knows why. She had Willow do an 'Ostendo Verum' spell behind closed doors, she needed to know why her little sister was attacked ten minutes after leaving her college. Why her life just got that much harder, and not because of the monsters that Buffy faced everyday. No, Dawnie's life just got screwed because of men.

As she watches the men beat her sister, their faces inhuman in their glee, their taunting of 'Freak bitches think you're too good for normal folks', their rage escalated by the presence of others- Buffy loses a little bit of herself in that moment. She will never have children, she will never have a normal life, she will never have the constancy of monotony because Buffy needs to protect men like these. Men, whose humanity is questioned in every kick they aim at a sobbing Dawn's ribs, in their every spit at her, their laughter at her helplessness. 'Not so big now, aren't ya?' Men whose viciousness is bright and ugly as they rape the girl curled into a screaming ball, their yells of completion a jarring discord with her screams of pain.

"Finish the spell, I don't want to see anymore," Buffy's voice is dead, hollow, her belief in the righteousness of destiny is shattered. Willow looks green, like she's about to throw up and yet as she looks into her best friend's eyes she becomes terrified. Because the life she's always seen behind them is gone, there is nothing. No laughing Buffy quipping about the end of day slayage; no predator Buffy prowling, waiting for the chance to unleash violence. No, Buffy's eyes are dead, iced emerald lakes that show nothing, reflect no light.

"What are you going to do?" she nervously asks as her best friend is almost out the door, Buffy stops with her hand on the knob her head gently tilted to the side like she can't even be bothered to look at Willow at that moment. She is silent as she walks up the stairs to her room.

Faith is there, Faith of the violence, the kill, the sex, the possibility of danger. Faith- the other side of Buffy's coin, everything that Buffy isn't on the surface, and everything that Buffy is deep inside. She's sitting on Buffy's bed, her head tilted forward, looking at the knife that she's cleaning with a slow thoroughness.

As Buffy stands in the doorway, Faith looks up and there is no question in her eyes, no desire to learn what the Slayers' leader will do now. She simply stands up and turns her knife handle first, handing it to her sister slayer, her soul's companion. The older woman is not surprised to see that it's the knife she stabbed Faith with, over the years it's become like a limb to her sister, a reminder of what the other side held. Faith looks Buffy in the eye for a full minute and satisfied by whatever she sees, she tells her "I'm here in whatever you do." The knife is slipped into Buffy's leather jacket, her knowledge secure in that this needs to be done.

Rage, worry, hurt, love, fear- everything is mixed into Xander's soul. He is twenty four years old and for the first time in his life, there is no surety in his thoughts, no firm beliefs in right or wrong. He isn't naïve or stupid despite what Spike has said many times over the years, he knows where Buffy is. He saw her slipping out of her room, Faith's dagger still in her hands, her eyes empty and her stride purposeful. He doesn't know whether he'll blame himself for not stopping her in years to come, all he knows is that he didn't. Because in a room downstairs, a girl that has become his adopted little sister is a bruised, bleeding nightmare who can't close her eyes in fear of seeing her attackers' faces.

The oldest slayers stand in the front hall, their 'mystical tracking system' as dubbed by Dawn firmly in place. It was the young girl who first noticed that all the slayers instinctively know when Buffy is near, their destiny activated through her lifeline, their loyalty firmly in her hands. Twenty girls stand still, unnaturally silent as the door opens and their general comes in. Her hair is still pulled into a tight ponytail, but there is a bruise forming on her right temple. Before Xander can make a move towards her though, she drops her trench coat and his breath stops. Because his best friend, the angelic superhero in white who he's worshipped since he was sixteen is covered in bright red blood. Her sweater is filthy, patches drying into brown, most of it screaming in an alarming poppy. Xander's gaze drops to her hands and he wants to throw up right there and then because her knuckles are bloodied, almost down to the bone. She is still clutching Faith's dagger and thick, viscous blood is dripping off it. 'It's congealing,' a biology lesson he didn't skip comes rushing back to him. He takes two steps as she walks to the stairs, his hand is almost out to grab her shoulder and a scream of 'WHAT DID YOU DO?' is on his tongue, but two dozen female predators choose that moment to close behind their leader.

There is no space for Xander and his accusations as bodies push at him from two sides, blocking any chance he might have had at trying to convince himself that his best friend was still there. The slayers stand unified as she climbs the stairs to her room which is already ajar with Faith standing in the doorway. The dark slayer catches Xander's panicked gaze and in that moment he knows everything is lost, because just like the twenty young women standing between them, Faith's eyes are blank, there is nothing human in them. Buffy stands before her with the dagger held out and Faith takes it, nodding slightly. As Buffy moves into the darkness of her room, Xander looks into Faith's eyes again and knows that the last barrier is gone, Buffy has looked into the abyss and jumped right in with open arms.

Alexander Lavelle Harris looks into his first lover's eyes and she closes the door in front of her, effectively barring him from trying to demand anything from the best friend he thought he knew. And all he's left with is a silent front hall, two dozen female backs turned to him and a trail of bloody footsteps leading from the front door.