Summary: They craved the dawn but were granted dusk instead.
Pairings: Hmm, maybe! ;)
Timeline: "The Gift" BTVS, pre-Fellowship for LOTR
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. That's the great Professor Tolkien and Mr. Whedon.
Mist surrounded her, effectively dampening her sense of sight. Hesitantly, Dawn fully extended her arm; blinking when the fog swallowed her hand. Apprehension settled into her gut and she pulled her arm back, pressing it tightly against her breasts.
"Hello?" Dawn called out in a tentative whisper.
Her voice was reflected by the thick fog before it was swallowed whole.
The mist felt good, strangely enough. It fell against her skin sweetly and the moisture was cool to the touch. Slowly, as if she couldn't be sure of what was what anymore, Dawn pressed her fingers against her face and her body, smiling in relief that she was whole.
"Where am I?" she wondered out loud.
As if commanded, the fog began to roll back in waves. Revealed under a grey visage was a garden littered with trees, flowers, and strawberries. Everything here was natural except for an elegantly carved bench wrought from dark wood. It featured flowers and a word 'Minuialwen' – although Dawn did not understand what it meant, it was carved prettily enough.
A soft smile knit upon her face; for some reason the sight of this place made her happy. She was no longer afraid.
Her eyes took in a small cloud of fog collecting over the bench, swirling and warping, becoming denser, and finally becoming something much more than mere fog.
It was a man.
Although he was like no man she had ever witnessed before. Long black hair fell over his shoulders in waves, his jaw was angular but his features handsome, and the bench barely contained the length of his slim body. His clothes were peculiar and rather old-fashioned, a black tunic with rich gold threading and matching black leggings. But it was his eyes that captured her attention. They were so dark she believed them to be black, and the longer she looked into them the more she swore the darkness spread like the infinity of the galaxy and was peppered with bright stars.
"Soon you will be home," he whispered to her in a low, gravelly voice.
Blinking, Dawn refocused her attention. "Home?" she inquired in surprise.
His thin lips tugged into a partial smile. "Home in Valinor." The smile turned wistful. "We miss you, my Daughter."
Dawn recoiled. This man was not Hank Summers. And…even if he was, Hank was not her father. Not really. She was just a blob of energy. "You're not my father," she informed him matter-of-factly.
The man remained impassive but the light in his eyes dimmed. "When they time comes, do not be afraid. It is in the tapestry of your mother, and in the plans of Eru Ilúvatar. You will rejoin us soon."
Questions began to besiege her mind and Dawn opened her mouth to ask them, but the great mist rolled back, surrounding her, drowning her.
"Hey there kiddo. Wake up. We got a big day."
The cheerful voice washed over Dawn's eardrums like poison, and she glared up at Glory, the Hell Goddess.
Not wasting a moment, Glory yanked her upwards and began pulling her out of the room that Dawn had just fallen asleep in.
As Glory began transporting Dawn to the metallic tower that surely would be the place of her death and the end of the world, Dawn couldn't help but wonder what her strange dream had been about…
Dawn wept openly as she fell to her knees, kneeling on the hard ground underneath Glory's tower. They were all…no, not all, Dawn thought in anguish. But she, Spike, Giles, Xander, Willow, Tara, and Anya, were all there, staring at the ground in front of them.
Buffy's last words flashed through her mind, like a looped record.
"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I willalways love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."
Warm arms enveloped her, and although Dawn did not want to be touched by anyone at the moment, she was too exhausted to move. So she let Willow and Tara huddle against her, hugging her, as each of them stared without speaking.
They were unable to take their eyes off of it; this empty patch of ground where Buffy's body should have fallen…and each of them darkly wondered just which hellish place their sister, their friend, their lover, their slayer, had fallen into.
Bird calls streamed softly into her ears, dredging her mind from the darkness of unconsciousness. Something tickled her cheek and she brushed the softness away. Her eyes blinked open once, cringing at the bright sunlight that filtered through the canopy of elm trees and she quickly squeezed them closed. After a few moments she opened her eyes widely and discovered she was laying down in a grove of trees.
A loud yawn escaped her and Buffy shook her head slightly, forcing her sleepiness away.
She mused silently how beautiful this area was and wondered how she had gotten here. After all, Sunnydale didn't have any pretty woods like this…
Alarm gripped her heart and Buffy leapt to her feet.
Glory! Dawn! The portal!
Adrenaline rushing, Buffy turned in every direction as her eyes raked across the landscape for sign of her friends – or her enemies. However, her eyes spied nothing but an endless vision of trees and no heartbeats but small animals sounded in her ears.
Agitated, Buffy began weaving in and out of the trees. Her body was tenser than a taut bow as she prepared herself to battle any more nasties that Glory sent after her – or Glory herself.
Actually, last time she saw Glory, Glory was Ben. So…maybe no more Glory?
That thought stopped Buffy in her tracks, her boots pushing deeply into the soft ground. If Glory was no more…then why was she here?
An image of Dawn sobbing in a tattered dress flashed through her mind, and longing squeezed her heart. Oh Dawn. Dawnie.
Now Buffy remembered. She had leapt through the portal intending to fall to her death and spill the necessary blood to close it, and now…now she was here.
"Am I in Heaven?" Buffy wondered softly.