The End of All - Dawn
Disclaimer: So not mine. If they were mine, I wouldn’t have to write fanfic, would I?
Time line: Post chosen for Buffy, post Not Fade Away for Angel, anywhere for Highlander. Dawn is 18 at the beginning of this fic, which would make the rest of the Scoobies about 24/25.
Main Characters: Dawn, Methos
A/N: First off, this is completely unbetaed, so all mistakes are mine and mine alone. I am aware that Methos is a little OOC in this fic, but I haven’t seen a Highlander episode in forever, so I had to wing it. The last line is taken from a quote from the Highlander episode “Methos.”
Tth5000 claim: Dawn
Word Count: 5071
The End Of All
Chapter 1: The End
The day I met him was the day everything changed. My whole world was ripped apart, in a literal way. Not that it was his fault. Not completely. He just happened to show up right before everything went to hell. So, the beginning of the end was not his fault. But I can’t help thinking of him like that, as death riding in with destruction in his wake. He changed everything for me.
It was a day just like any other in Cleveland. Buffy and I had gone shopping, and were wandering down the street, looking for our next score. No threat of an apocalypse in days, so we took a day off to do the sisterly bonding thing. We had just crossed an intersection when I saw this gorgeous guy reflected in one of the store windows. I was about to point out the eye candy to Buffy, when he suddenly turned and looked at me. The look in his eyes kinda freaked me out. Buffy was trying to pull me into a Starbucks, and I told her to go ahead and I’d be right there. I didn’t tell her what I was doing, but I wanted to know why this guy looked like I was gonna kill his dog or something.
I walked up to him, intending to ask him what his deal was, but just as I was about to speak I heard this weird whining noise. The mild summer day suddenly turned dark and windy. There were people screaming and running and I had no idea why, but I decided to forget about the cute stranger and get back to Buffy. This was definitely stick together time. I turned around to head back to Starbucks just in time to watch in horror as the roof of the building was ripped off by a tornado that seemed to have come from nowhere. I was frozen to the spot for a few seconds that seemed to stretch out for an eternity. Then I was screaming Buffy’s name and running towards the ruined coffee shop.
Suddenly I was in the air and moving the other way. It took a moment to register the arm around my waist. I was kicking and punching without any thought beyond getting to my sister, but the arm was locked tight around me and wouldn’t let go. I was being carried further and further away as I watched helplessly while the tornado ripped a path of destruction through the city. We stopped moving for a minute, and I started looking around. I just caught sight of another tornado coming from the other direction when me and my would be rescuer dropped into a sewer.
We landed none too gently in a shallow stream of dirty water, which was currently soaking into my jeans. I made a quick mental inventory of the various pains that had erupted through my body. Coming to the conclusion that, thankfully, nothing was broken, I turned to face the asshole that drug me away from Buffy. It was window guy. He was getting shakily to his feet when I threw my entire body into a punch across his jaw. When he landed on his ass, I kicked him in the ribs. Then I started yelling.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing. My sister is up there you retard!” I turned my back on him and reached for the metal ladder leading back up to the manhole we dropped through. I could still hear the whine of the tornados, and I had to get to Buffy. I had just started climbing when Mr. butt monkey grabbed me again, dragging me off the ladder and dropping me on my ass on the wet ground. I tried to get up, and he shoved me back down.
“You stupid girl, do you want to die? In case you hadn’t noticed, there is some fucked up shit going on up there.”
“I know that, ass wipe. My sister is up there. I have to help her.”
“You sister is probably dead, princess, and so are you if you go back up there right now.”
“She is not dead. You don’t know her, I do. Without her I would have died a hundred times by now. So if I let her die up there, I may as well die with her.”
He stood between me and the ladder, my only way to reach Buffy. The wind above continued to howl viciously, and deep down I knew he was right. Even Buffy couldn’t have survived what happened to that building. But I had meant what I had said, without Buffy I had no right to live. She had saved me so many times, and when she needed me I couldn’t save her. I got to my knees, and screamed. An endless, wordless emptying of my soul. This was it, the end of everything that mattered. I screamed until I couldn’t scream anymore. Then I cried, while the winds gradually died down, I cried until there were no more tears. Then, finally, I looked up to the stranger who tried to save me. I had no idea who he was, or why he chose me to save, but there was one thing I knew without a doubt.
“You should have let me die.”
He looked at me for a long time, as if trying to decide if I meant it. I did. But he just stared at me like he couldn’t believe I would welcome death. I would. An hour ago I had been looking forward to finally being 18, finally being a full on watcher. Now I just wanted to die, as if it would give Buffy another chance at life.
“You can’t really mean that. Do you really want to die so young?”
“You think you know me, what I want? Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Adam. And no Princess, I don’t know you. But I do know things about you, things you don’t even realize yet. You sit there and say you want to die, like that would just be the end of pain. But sometimes, death is only the beginning.”
Chapter 2: The Aftermath
After what felt like an eternity, but could only have been a few minutes, Mr. Cryptic let me climb up out of the sewer. I almost wished I had stayed. The scene that greeted me was nothing compared to what it had been before. There was not a single building left standing, just so much rubble. Cars had been picked up by the wind and dropped upside down, on their sides, deposited on sidewalks and the remains of the ruined buildings. I looked to where the Starbucks used to stand. Now it was just a pile of rocks, with a Greyhound bus right in the middle. If Buffy was in there, there was no way she could have survived. Even a slayer has limits.
I felt Adam behind me as I made my way to the ruined coffee shop. We were the only living souls out here, unless there were survivors in the wreckage. Which I doubted. The devastation was utterly complete. Numbly, I made my way to the pile of rocks that marked Buffy’s last known location. I started digging through the wreckage, hoping to find some sign of life. After a few minutes of watching me search, Adam silently began helping me move aside rocks and debris. I have no idea how long we searched for her, finding bodies that weren’t hers. My hands were raw and bleeding, and still I searched. My stomach lurched with nausea at each body we uncovered, lives cut short without reason. The sun was setting when I found a sign of her. The silver cross she always wore glinted in the fading sunlight. I picked it up and I knew, without a doubt, that she was dead.
I kept searching the debris, but never found her. Finally, when it was too dark to see anything anymore, Adam pulled me to my feet, and I let him. I was too dead inside to resist. I let him lead me away from that place, where I failed to save her, where I couldn’t even save her corpse. As we walked, I was vaguely aware that there were no vamps wander about. Maybe they, too, were too devastated by the vast destruction of the city. Unconsciously, I made my way towards Watcher Central, the old apartment building that Giles had bought with the funds left by the old council.
That was the end of the destruction. The council’s building was destroyed, but beyond that everything was normal. It was as if something had sent the tornados to us, to seek out the slayers and destroy what we had built. I looked at what was left of the building and knew that searching was pointless. If anyone had survived, they would be here, digging through the rubble looking for more survivors. And I made a decision, right then and there. I was finished. This was no longer my fight. The stupid powers that be did nothing to protect those fighting their war. Champions were struck down, not by the evil they fight, but by freakish acts of nature. If this was how the powers took care of their champions, then they could go fuck themselves. I was done. I walked away, and didn’t look back.
Somehow, I don’t really remember, I woke up the next morning in a hotel room. I sat up and looked around the room, so bright, so clean, so wrong. I wanted to break everything. I wanted to make that room match the mess that was my life. I walked over to the dresser, looking at myself in the mirror that topped it. I was covered in dirt and blood, my hair a ragged mess. I barely recognized myself. Good. I didn’t want to look happy and bright, because the world was no longer a happy place. But behind me, I still saw that bright, clean room reflected in the glass. So I put my fist into it, shattering the mirror and letting the fresh blood flow over my hand. I watched the blood drip onto the polished wood of the dresser until I heard a knock at the door.
I opened the door to find Adam, holding a Tim Hortin’s bag and two cups of coffee. Part of me wanted to slam the door in his face. It was his fault I was alive. But I was still to numb inside to care, and left the door open as I wandered back to the bed. He took it as an invitation, and closed the door behind him with his foot.
“Thought you might like some breakfast.”
“Thought wrong.” I made no effort to move as he sat beside me, placing the still steaming coffee on the night stand. He glanced at the broken mirror, but said nothing about it. He pulled two bagels out of the bag and held one out to me. I gave him no indication that I noticed. What was the point in eating when everything that mattered was gone? He sat there silently for a few moments, watching me do nothing, only breathing because I couldn’t will my body to stop.
“You really should eat something.”
“Why do you care?”
“I don’t know, but I do. I know you’re hurting right now, Princess…”
“My name is Dawn.”
He smiled a bit, as if my correcting him meant something that I couldn’t fathom right now.
“Well, Dawn, you should eat.”
“What’s the point? The only reason to eat is so you don’t die, and that really isn’t a priority right now.”
“Like it or not, life does go on. And there are still things you don’t know, reasons for you to take care of yourself.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“I told you, sometimes death is only a beginning.”
“A beginning to the end of pain.”
“If that is what you think, you are dead wrong. Death doesn’t end pain, it only brings so much more.”
“And how would you know?”
He was suddenly on top of me, pinning me to the bed. I made no move to fight him off. I didn’t have it in me to fight.
“Do you really want to die, Princess? Do you really want to throw away what you have left?”
“Yes. More than anything.” I was crying again, and I couldn’t stop. I wanted death more than I had ever wanted anything before. I wanted the hurt to go away. Maybe days or weeks later I would have felt differently, but right now I just wanted it to end.
“Then let me help you.” Something close to anger flashed in his eyes, and then there was a terrible pain in my chest, and he was no longer holding me down. I looked down my body to see a sword extending from my chest, and a new flow of blood pooling over and around me. I looked up to him one last time, my saviour, and said my last words.
And then there was nothing.
Chapter 3 : The Beginning
I suddenly realized that I wasn’t breathing, and took a gasping breath. I opened my eyes, memories of a terrible dream still fresh in my mind. I looked around the familiar room, still too bright, too clean, too perfect, and realized that it wasn’t a dream. There were tornados, everyone was gone. And Adam, he saved me, and then he killed me. But, if he killed me, how was I here?
I looked down my body to my blood soaked shirt. Running my hands across the now dried blood I found the hole his sword had put in the fabric. So it was real. So how was I alive? I sat up and noticed a shopping bag sitting next to the bed. Opening the bag I found clothes, my size. I was getting seriously creped out. Still confused I stumbled my way to the bathroom for a shower. I scrubbed the dirt and blood out of my skin as I let the hot water ease some of the aches in my body. That’s when I made yet another startling discovery. The skin over my heart was smooth, no cut, no scar, nothing.
I stood in the shower until the water ran cold. Then I found a pair of jeans and a simple blue T-shirt in the bag and got dressed. Finally running out of things to do, I sat on the bed and thought about what happened. Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, and all the slayers, gone. Everyone I cared about wiped out. And here I was, alive when every rational thought told me that I’d died.
Just before I lost the battle to hold back yet another wave of tears, I got this weird feeling in the back of my head. A minute later there was a knock on the door. I opened it to once more find Adam, food in hand. With and eerie since of de ja vous, I left the door opened and returned to the ruined bed. Once again, he sat two steaming cups of coffee on the night stand and silently offered me a bagel. I looked at his offering and ignored it. Instead I decided to get some answers.
“You killed me.”
He had the nerve to look embarrassed.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Just all your wishing to die, and I kind of lost it for a minute.”
“But, I’m still alive. HOW THE FUCK AM I STILL ALIVE IF YOU FUCKING KILLED ME???”
“Well, that’s simple. You’re am immortal. You can’t die, not permanently anyway. Unless of course someone cuts off your head, then you’re done for.”
“Immortal? Okay. I think maybe we should get you back to the nice hospital so they can give you your medication.”
He laughed, as if there was anything to laugh about. I was starting to wonder at the intelligence of letting an obvious psycho sit in this room with me, then I remembered Buffy, and it didn’t seem to matter much anyway. His laughter died and he got this far away look in his eyes, like he was somewhere else all together.
“Since the beginning of mortal life, there have been immortals. No one knows why, or how one is chosen to be immortal. We only know that we are. And we know when another immortal is near. You felt something before I knocked?”
I nodded, and he went on to explain that he felt my potential for immortality when we saw each other on the street. That’s why he saved me from the tornados, so that I wouldn’t die and wake up alone, with no one to explain what had happened to me. He told me about the game, and about the headhunters, who search out new immortals who are unable to defend themselves. He told me that he uses the name Adam Pierson to hide himself, but his true name, as best he knows, is Methos.
“Like I said, Princess, death is only the beginning.”
After an hour or so of question and answer, after which I was still confused and half convinced I was dreaming, he got up and said he would be right back. He left the room, and came back a few minutes later with a sword, and held it out to me.
“Its not the best, and you’re sure to find one you like better later, but a bad sword is better than losing your head unarmed.”
We changed hotels, and spent the next days training. He was surprised to find I already knew how to handle a sword. All those years of training with the slayers did teach me something. I knew how to fight, with or without a weapon. I didn’t have slayer strength, but I could take care of myself, and I would have to. With Buffy and everyone else gone, there was no one I could depend on except myself. An for all that Methos was willing to ‘teach’ me, I have issues with completely trusting someone who put a sword through my heart.
Three days after I first woke from death, I fought my first immortal. Luckily, Methos was with me. He didn’t actually involve himself in the fight, but his presence created a distraction that allowed me to take the head of an obviously better fighter. The knowledge that I had taken a life sickened me, and the quickening that followed was an experience I had no desire to repeat. I suddenly had memories of a life that wasn’t mine, of people I never knew. The flood of images passed with the pain and lightning, but I would never forget. I wanted no part of the game, and I told Methos as much.
“I have avoided the game for a long time, so I know it is possible. But there will be times when others decide they want your head, Princess. And telling them you don’t want to play won’t make them stop. Sometimes, your only choices are to fight or die.”
“And what do I have to live for?”
He smiled at the question, and I had the urge to slap the smile off his face.
“I don’t know, Princess, but you just killed a man for it, so there must be something.”
He was right. I thought I wanted to die, but when push came to shove, I was willing to kill for the right to live. But why? What did I have? I wasn’t sure, but apparently I had forever to figure it out.
That day I decided to read a newspaper, to see if Buffy’s or any of my friends’ bodies had been found. A few of the newer slayers were listed in the obituaries, along with Kennedy and a few new watchers that I didn’t know well. And there was an obituary listing for Summers, but not Buffy. Me.
Dawn Summers, beloved sister and friend. There was a small article about how the police found my blood all over a hotel room, too much blood to hope that I’d survived. Since no body had been found, there was to be a memorial in place of a funeral. The end of the article was something that lifted the weight from my heart. It read: ‘Survived by her loving sister, Buffy Summers, and dearest friends, Willow Rosenberg, Alexander Harris, and Rupert Giles.’ Survived by, that meant that they were alive. Suddenly the world was a little bit brighter.
Chapter 4: The Ones Left Behind
The memorial was being held at Lakeview Cemetery. Adam said I shouldn’t go. He said that my friends and family would freak at seeing me suddenly alive. I told him he didn’t know my friends, and as long as there was sunlight it would be cool. He went into this whole speech about all the reasons I should just let them get on with their lives, I didn’t really listen. They were alive. I was alive. Really, that’s all that mattered to me. I went.
I arrived late, so that I would be the last one there. I figured my walking around not dead would require a lot of explaining, and I didn’t want to go through it more than once. I barely understood myself. But I wanted them to understand. I didn’t want them to be mourning my death when I wasn’t really dead. Of course, that got me thinking. I’d been missing, what, a week? Did they really give up on me so quickly? I would have thought they would keep searching until they found my body, my clothes, something other than blood. I mean, really, in our line of work you bleed a lot, so blood doesn’t always mean dead.
I stood in the shadows as they cried and shared memories. I watched in silence as every living person I loved mourned my death. And I got pissed. One week, that’s it. What if I had been nabbed by a demon or something? He’d be doing weird things with my organs by now because they gave up. I dug in rubble until my hands bled searching for Buffy when I thought she was dead, so that she could at least have a proper burial. But they just gave up on me.
Okay, Dawn, breathe. They must have looked for you, and technically you did die, so what are you bitching about? I was ready to step out of the shadows and tell them all the truth, when Adam stopped me with a hand on my arm. I knew what he was going to say, and I knew he was right, but I didn’t want to hear it.
“Do you really want to watch them all die. Because you will. Eventually they will all die, but you won’t. You can either watch them all die over the years, or you can walk away now and let them move on.”
Damn. Damndamndamn. This sucked. He was right. They had a war to fight, and I would lose them all eventually. Right now I wasn’t sure if I could deal with that. But I did know one person who would get it, who would understand why I couldn’t tell them. Angel. I was going to LA.
Of course, Adam argued with me. I told him he didn’t have to come. He said someone had to keep me alive. Whatever. I was getting sick of his centuries of wisdom bit. But, I couldn’t exactly use my credit cards if I was dead, could I. Damn, I was gonna have to do something about that too. I couldn’t be Dawn Summers anymore, she was dead. Life after death was starting to suck big ones.
So Adam got a car, I didn’t ask how, and we drove to LA. Angel was still running Wolfram and Hart, without the evil influence, since he kicked their evil asses. It wasn’t without losses. They lost Wesley and Gunn, but they won. They were free to run things as they saw fit, without interference from the ‘senior partners.’ Somewhere along the way Adam and I became friends, sort of. Its hard not to be friends with the only person who knows you’re alive.
When we arrived at Wolfram and Hart it was quite a scene. Apparently someone had called to tell Angel about my apparent death. So there were a few shocked people when I walked in all alive. Of course, I got a shock myself when I was greeted by Spike. Hello, why didn’t anyone tell me he was alive, undead, whatever. He’s not dead, which was so cool. I did the only thing possible, I ran to him and nearly smothered him with a hug. Well, it would have been nearly smothering if he needed to breathe. Whatever.
“Well there, Niblet, we were told you’d got yourself killed.”
“I kind of did. But I got better.”
“Right. Peaches is gonna flip when ‘e sees you.”
And he did. Angel picked me up in a huge hug that nearly cracked my ribs.
“Nice to see you too, but breathing is a bit of an issue.”
“Oh, sorry. Willow said you were dead.” Ok, explainy time.
“It’s a long story, and I only want to tell it once. Anyway we can get everyone who needs to hear it together?”
Angel got everyone gathered up in his office, and I started the story. I told them about the tornados, how Adam saved me, how I thought Buffy had died. I hesitated a bit over telling them that Adam had killed me, and had to stop Angel and Spike from trying to rip him apart when I did. I told them about my first real fight, that I had killed a man, another immortal.
“I didn’t ask for this, but I got it. I don’t want any part of the Game, the killing, but if any of them come looking for me I won’t have a choice. If it comes down to me or them, I’m gonna pick me.” I was a little surprised that no one seemed shocked about my willingness to kill to survive, but I guess they all could understand. These guys knew that life wasn’t black and white, there are all sorts of shades of grey. I guess I’ll be walking that grey area forever now.
Not long after that Adam left. He didn’t say where he was going, and I didn’t ask. He didn’t get to be as old as he is by broadcasting his whereabouts. I still don’t know why he chose to save me that day. I mean, even if I’d died in the tornado, I’d have come back. I don’t see myself asking him anytime soon, even if I see him again. If and when he wants me to know the his reasons, he’ll tell me. After all, I have an eternity to wait, don’t I?
Chapter 5: Life After Death
Once I explained the whole thing to Angel, Spike and the rest of the AI gang they were totally cool with it all. I have a whole new identity, care of Wolfram and Hart. I am now Aurora Snow, at least for now. Angel set me up with an apartment in LA, and I enrolled in college. I figure if I’m gonna live forever I might as well have some knowledge to go with it.
I’m on payroll at the law firm, and I’m helping out with the help the hopeless thing they do. It’s a lot different here than it was back home. I am a part of things now, not just someone to do research and get saved all the time. Angel doesn’t treat me like a kid, and I appreciate that. Spike is way over protective of me, and I kinda like that too. A little reminder of home. I have regular training sessions with Angel and Spike, and once in a while Illyria. She weirds me out though, so I keep those to a minimum. I’m getting a lot better now, because no one here goes easy on me, and I love that.
I still miss Buffy, and everyone else back in Cleveland. Some days it gets really hard not to run home. But I know I can’t. They will all move on, and I have a life here now. As much as I miss them, I can’t begin to imagine being there to watch them die. Maybe deep down I’m just a coward, but I don’t care. It’s better this way. It has to be.
I got a letter from Adam a few weeks later, post marked Paris. My first piece of mail as Aurora. I thought about writing back, but there was no return address. Even if there was, I don’t know how long he would be there. He’s not the type to stay in one place for long. I keep his letter on the first page of the scrapbook I’ve started, to keep memories of my life before I am old enough to start forgetting. Whenever I fell like giving up, when I think I’m ready to die for real, I read it again. On the top of the page, above his letter, is one word. Hope.
I hope this finds you still in good faith. I know things are hard for you right now. Adjusting to a new life is always difficult, but it will get easier with time. If I can survive this long, I know you can. You have a much more sensible head than I do. After all, if I could pass on the wisdom of my years in only a few weeks, I can’t be as wise as I thought. However, I do have some final wisdom to pass on. Firstly, be who you are. Make mistakes, so long as you learn from them. Someday, I will tell you about the mistakes I’ve made, and believe me they were big ones, and you will see how much I learned from them. Second, be happy. Forever is too long to be unhappy with who you are or what you do, so do what brings you joy, what ever that may be. And lastly, live. Don’t just be alive, but truly live life, or all your years will be a waste. Choose your fights well. Live. Grow strong. Fight another day.