Ten Years After

Chapter 2

“Giles, I really, really need to talk to you.” Dawn had cornered her boss and father-figure in his office at the Watchers’ Council Headquarters, whilst bearing coffee and a packet of shortbread.

“Certainly, Dawn – is it about your visit to Edinburgh? How is James McStay? Was he able to shed any light on that scroll fragment?” Giles asked. “Oh, and is that shortbread I see?”

“Yes, well sort of. Absolutely fine. Quite a bit, and yes – but I am only going to feed it to you at timed intervals so that I can hold your attention for a while!” Dawn answered.

Giles smiled at Dawn and said “Well if it is from that little shop near the University you can probably hold my attention for quite some time!”

In her researcher capacity, Dawn went over her conversation with Dr. McStay for Giles, but before he could start to discuss how her old tutor’s input might help them decide where else to look, Dawn broke into his train of thought, and said “No more shortbread unless we can stop talking about this for now, and get onto what I really want to talk about!”

“Ah yes”, said Giles, removing his glasses in the so familiar gesture, “This was meant to only be ‘sort of’ about your trip to Edinburgh – so what else happened?”

Dawn smiled. Giles was really much quicker on the uptake than many people around here realised even after ten years. “I want to talk about The Key. About me. About my Keyness. No-one ever mentions it; it’s as if you have all forgotten about it totally.”

“Hmm”, Giles murmured, still gazing blankly at the well polished glasses in his hand, then more briskly “You are quite right, I do tend to look at you and think ‘Dawn, bright, good company, reminds me in some ways of Joyce’, rather than ‘Dawn, mystical ancient power in human form’.” He replaced his glasses on his nose, and then turned to Dawn with a rather piercing look – “But then aren’t we all meant to do that? The fact that I see you as a person rather than a mystical essence shows what a very good job those monks did – both in making you, the real live, normal and human you, and in making sure that no-one ever thinks of you in any other terms. But I can see that the time has come for me to try hard to concentrate on that otherness, as something is obviously worrying you.”

“How much research has been done here about my Keyness, I mean I don’t know of any, but then I don’t suppose you’d tell me anyway, would you?”

“Well actually”, Giles answered slowly, “if there has been much research its existence has become obscured by the monks’ spell as well, because even if I concentrate hard on the fact that you came into existence as a fully-formed fourteen year old, and that you encapsulated an energy source to enable inter-dimensional travel, I still have difficulty concentrating enough to wonder why we haven’t got whole books written in the library about you.”

“We probably should have had you examined in a myriad interesting ways,” he added smilingly, “but I’m fairly sure that we haven’t even attempted to dissect you once – have we?”


The ensuing discussion with Giles had been followed by some time in the archives. Now Dawn was sitting on her own in her own living room, munching on chocolate and considering everything she had learnt today.

The monks who had created her had guarded The Key for many, many centuries; their existence was recorded at least three times in Watchers’ Council Records. Also recorded was the information that The Key could be used to open inter-dimensional portals, and so the monks safeguarded it to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. One Watcher, in the seventeenth century, if Dawn remembered correctly, had noted that whilst destroying The Key would seem to be a good idea, such a course of action ‘could unleash unknown power’, and also that The Key ‘might one day be needed to open a portal for the good of the world’. That was pretty scary.

Giles had pointed out that this seemed to only be the opinion of that particular Watcher; he had not given any reference for the statement, but at least his opinion might have saved any attempts by the Council to safeguard the world themselves by destroying The Key.

Giles pointed out that mentions of The Key were few and far between, and if it (“Um, sorry, you,” he had said at least five times during the afternoon) was of major importance there should have been more regular reports. Either the Watchers’ Council had investigated at some time and thought it of very little importance, or the monks had done a pretty good job of masking themselves from investigation.

However he admitted that there should be full records of the discovery that the monks had created Dawn to contain The Key, and yet he himself had reported very little of this discovery to the Council at the time. Giles said he remembered this being because he had worried ‘about the information getting into the wrong hands’, but was not sure whether this was because he had had real worries about security at the Council headquarters, or because the spells surrounding Dawn’s existence had ensured that he did not report her existence fully.

This left Dawn with two possible hypotheses – either The Key was pretty unimportant, and had been guarded all those years just in case Glory turned up at the beginning of the twenty-first century, or it was so important that they had used so many cloaking spells and things over the years that even the Council forgot about it (‘Uh, sorry, me,’ thought Dawn) for centuries at a time.

She quite liked to think that it was the first, and that she was no longer anything other than a young woman of twenty-seven. But she was tending towards the second hypothesis, and that was when she had begun to wonder whether the monks had thought of her reaching her ‘use by’ date. Would The Key be passed to someone or something else, and if so how? They couldn’t rely on her having a child and passing it on that way, but if they had been so thorough over all these centuries it seemed impossible that they would allow The Key to cease to exist. Dawn was becoming more certain that she knew the answer, and she wasn’t sure she really liked the idea.

Both she and Giles had concluded that the first thing to determine was whether she was still The Key, or whether she had become what she appeared to be once the problem of Glory using The Key was passed. If she was no longer The Key then her problem was solved – she could put everything down to inheriting good genes!

Dawn could still remember with horror the reaction to her of the ‘crazy’ people, but with so many modern treatments for mental illness, hospital wards of ‘crazy people’ no longer existed in Britain. Giles had thought it possible that those with cerebral cortex damage following head injuries might ‘see’ her as pure energy if she was still The Key, but wondered about the ethics of exposing such people to what could be a traumatic experience for them. ‘Not to mention me!’ Dawn thought.

There was the possibility of going into London some evening particularly to see what effect she had on those people who wandered the streets mumbling to themselves – but it would be hard to know whether they were reacting to her being a ‘pretty light’ or to something else completely.

However Giles’ original research in Sunnydale, which she and Spike had read that night they’d broken into The Magic Box, had suggested that people with ‘second sight’ might be able to detect The Key, or ‘Necromanced Animals’. It had begun to look like a job for Willow. So, tomorrow, Willow was going to put herself into a magical trance and link herself with her pet cat so that she could see through its eyes; both Willow and Giles thought that this should qualify as a ‘necromanced animal’. Dawn wasn’t sure whether she was happy about this test, or frightened of it. If Willow saw The Key then at least she had more idea of who and what she now was, but if Willow saw Dawn, nothing changed – because it might simply not be the right spell.

Dawn wished she had not insisted on coming home alone tonight. She wished she had accepted Giles offer to spend the night with his family. She didn’t think that she would get much sleep.


Arms flailing, gasping for breath, Dawn tried to escape from the swirling grey mist that clung to her – and found herself tightly wrapped in bedding, struggling to sit up. At first the dream was still so real that she couldn’t work out where she was. She had been running and running through the clinging grey mist; figures had loomed out of the mist but she had only just had time to see who they were when she had run past them and they had disappeared, swallowed by the mist behind her.

She remembered Giles, and Olivia, Buffy and Phil, Willow, Xander, Andrew, all calling to her, asking her to wait, but she couldn’t stop running. Then there had been two of the young Slayers, and just before she had woken Thea and her two nephews were calling, and stretching out their hands, but she had kept on running. And always there running beside her, or just in front of her, there had been another figure, seen almost out of focus by her dream eyes – just a glimpse of swirling black and bright white.

Spike, the person beside her had been Spike, she was sure of it now, as she sat bolt upright, and began to make sense of her surroundings.

There was a quiet knock on the bedroom door, and Willow appeared, in baggy pyjamas, asking her was she OK. The light from behind Willow illuminated the room gently and confirmed that this was not Dawn’s bedroom, but Willow’s spare room, and as Willow came and sat on the end of the bed Dawn was glad that tonight, after the spell, she had taken up the offer of company.

Willow had cast the spell here in her own little house, so that Scaramouch would not have to leave home. Dawn, and Giles, had sat quietly as Willow had cast the spell so that she could enter into her cat, see out of Scaramouch’s eyes, and hear and smell what he could hear and smell. As the last words of the spell were cast, the cat had suddenly sat up on his cushion, stared in Dawn’s direction, then stood up, arched his back and hissed.

At that moment Dawn knew – she did not need to wait until Willow withdrew from the cat’s mind. Scaramouch, who would normally sit happily on her knee, had not seen the Dawn he knew once he was a ‘necromanced animal’. He had seen The Key.

Back in the bedroom, in the middle of the night, Willow fussed and offered hot chocolate, to help Dawn get back to sleep after her ‘bad dream’. Even Scaramouch arrived, and deigned to jump onto the bed, obviously happy that this was the Dawn he knew and sometimes allowed to fuss him.

When she had broken the spell, Willow had described what Willow-Scaramouch had seen as “Still Dawn, but surrounded by a bright green light that seemed to flow in and out of her, and wrap itself around her, and she no longer smelt just of Dawn, but of metal, and electricity as well.” Giles had said that he was sure that those who had seen The Key in Sunnydale had only seen the light, and not Dawn in the middle of it, and he wondered if this meant that there was only a ‘residual keyness’ left, but Willow had said she thought that he was wrong – The Key was an extremely powerful force, she had been able to sense that. She thought that she could also see Dawn because Dawn was now a much more real and rooted person. Both Dawn and Key existed in equal measure.

Finally Willow left the bedroom, and went back to her own bed, leaving Scaramouch, who now seemed to have forgiven Dawn for startling him earlier, and was happy to deign to curl up on her feet. But Dawn did not sleep, not straight away. She lay there knowing what she must do, and planning on how to do it until the first grey light of her namesake appeared through the crack in the curtains.


  • Chapter 3

  • The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.