“After you closed the portal, I never thought I would get over loosing you a second time.” Dawn was sitting next to Buffy’s hospital bed, almost 12 hours had passed since Buffy had come to and Dawn was filling her in on what she had missed.
“Willow?” Buffy asked taking a spoonful of Jell-O, “Somethings never change.” she thought.
“Willow became a powerful witch who lived to the ripe old age of a hundred and ten, she married Tara as soon as she could, they were together till the end, hey they even passed away at the same time, they stayed in Sunnydale, took over the Magic Box.” Dawn said with a small sad smile, “Xander and Anya, were similar, Anya managed to break the official World Record for the oldest person, a hundred and forty, she somehow got her hands on a major multinational magickal supplies company, her dearest fantasy came true, she had more money than she could ever use.”
“Xander, did they stay married?” Buffy said as she took a sip of her coke, “This doesn’t taste the same.”
“They changed the recipe when the FDA banned caffeine.” Dawn said, “Xander did indeed stay married to Anya they moved to Washington about ten years after you…you know, he started his own construction company, their motto was ‘if a monster trashes your place then we’ll fix it’ he said it was something you had once told him.”
“Yea, about ten years ago… I mean before I jumped, he was repairing our home after that Treesu’lak demon tore out most of the front of it.” Buffy said with a small smile.
Dawn matched her smile as she continued, “Giles, passed away about five years after you, he was taken by a pack of vampires, the body was recovered a day later.” as she had been saying this her expression had turned to one of sorrow.
“And what have you been up to?” Buffy asked looking deep into Dawn’s eyes.
“Where do I start?” Dawn said with a sad smile, “After you jumped I had no way of supporting myself without people finding out that I wasn’t aging so Willow and Tara supported me and Spike was always around to defend me against harm, he said he made you a promise.”
“Yea, and I never broke it either.” Spike said as he entered the room he held a coffee out to Dawn.
“Thanks, when the others passed on we helped each other, I fell in love with him.” Dawn said looking sheepish.
“It’s okay Dawn, I don’t mind.” Buffy said with a small smile.
“We lived we watched the world going by and changing, Sunnydale is now a major metropolis, the Hellmouth was sealed in a special titanium reinforced concrete then bound by the Wicca leadership.” Spike said.
“The world had two more world wars before coming to it’s senses and forming a global government, since then the world has known peace.” Dawn told her sipping her coffee, “Humanity has made it to Mars, we had tried to go there to escape the Earth Government, they found out about me and as a by-product Spike after they got the ability to track it’s citizens.”
“I assume that something happened?” Buffy made it a question.
“Yes, the Earth wouldn’t let her go, the entire liner was forced back to earth.” Spike said, “We went on the run after that, the Earth Government sent a platoon of marines after us.”
“I found I had the ability to move myself through dimensions, I actually found out by accidentally travelling back to before mom died.” Dawn told her sister, “But when I returned Spike told me that he had found out that we were in Switzerland in the 1920′s so we set out to travel back to ensure that history was fulfilled.”
“And that’s when the military caught up with us, they threw us into a prison, we escaped and eventually went back in time.” Spike said.
“Do you two know you’re finishing each other’s sentences?” Buffy asked looking amused.
Dawn and Spike just smiled, they had discussed it and decided not to tell Buffy about Glory and the circumstances surrounding her ‘resurrection’.
“That girl I saw earlier, who was she?” Buffy asked, “Or did I imagine her?”
“No you didn’t imagine her.” Spike said.
“She’s the current slayer, Jennifer Harris.” Dawn finished for him.
“Harris? Not … Xander and Anya?” Buffy asked in astonishment.
“Yup, their last surviving descendant.” Dawn answered.
Buffy let out a laugh at that.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Mr Cole-Pierce.” Fernandez said to the watcher, “She is a medical and magical miracle.”
“So, she’s still a slayer?” he asked.
“Yes but she is also something else, something like the Key.” Fernandez told him.
Cole-Pierce just turned and looked in through the window at trio reminiscing about the past.
“The Guardians created Dawn from Buffy.” The Gatekeeper said coming up behind them, “They took a part of her and made it into Dawn, this meant that she is bonded to Buffy in a way that goes far beyond any other bonding in history.”
“So, how does that explain what’s happening?” Fernandez asked looking at the old man.
“That bond allowed Buffy to pull energy from the Key, that energy has the power to regenerate cells, that is why Dawn hasn’t aged.” The Gatekeeper looked through the window, remembering the adventures they’d had in the time leading up to Buffy’s ultimate sacrifice, “Buffy is now part of the Key, just as Dawn is part of Buffy.”
The doctor and the watcher just stared at him.
“Is Jennifer here?” came a gruff voice from behind them.
Cole-Pierce turned to see a youngish man about 18 to 20 years old, wearing a tailor made business suit, “No, she isn’t.” he lied, “Can I pass on a message?”
“You are lying.” the man said his voice carried a sound that really wasn’t human.
Spike suddenly stopped laughing, they had been reminiscing about a time when they had all been happier.
“What is it Spike?” Buffy asked, her slayer senses were still as good as they had been 500 years ago.
“I smell something…” Spike said with a small sniff, “Something I haven’t smelt since…”
“Since when, Spike?” Dawn asked.
“Twenty years ago.” he said looking at Dawn.
“The Wereleopards?” Dawn asked, Spike merely nodded.
“Can someone please fill me in?” Buffy asked.
“About twenty years ago while we were hiding from the government we came across a pard of wereleopards, they were ravaging a small town to the west of here.” Dawn said.
“We managed to stop them, with the help of one of their members, a leopard by the name of Gabriel, he was an Alpha, but he wasn’t powerful enough to take control of the pard on his own.” Spike finished.
By this point Buffy was out of bed and starting to get dressed.
“Buffy! What are you doing?” Dawn asked a little shocked.
“You’re gonna need my help.” she said determinedly.
“No we won’t.” said Cole-Pierce as he walked in the door followed be the young man.
Spike snarled at him as his face morphed into his vampiric nature.
“Calm down vampire, I am not here to hurt you, as I said twenty years ago, I will not harm you if you do not ask it of me.” he said.
“You’re the one who helped us get away before the military got there.” Dawn said in amazement.
“Yes, I am.” the man said, “My name is Nathaniel, and I am Gabriel’s lieutenant.”
“He took over control then?” Dawn made it a question.
“Yes, after Raina was killed he was the most powerful leopard among us, so leadership fell to him by right of power.” Nathaniel said.
“So why are you here?” Spike said, he was obviously not comfortable with the leopard in the room.
“Gabriel was killed, murdered actually.” Nathaniel said, “By the police, ironic really.”
“Why’s that?” this from Buffy who was still trying to piece this all together.
“Before they found out what he was he was chief of police for the town he lived in.” Nathaniel said with a small laugh, “But we now need a leader, none among us is strong enough to lead and the alliances that could be formed would not be strong enough to hold off an attack from another pard.”
“So why come to the slayer?” Cole-Pierce asked.
“We want her to help us, we want to make her a léoparde lionne.” Nathaniel said, “One who protects.”
“Aaarrrgg.” Buffy cried as she doubled over in pain, and Dawn ran to her momentarily ignoring the leopard.
Buffy threw back her head as she screamed, her eyes flew open and they were pure green.
“The Key, it’s overwhelming her.” Fernandez said as she ran into the room.
“Can we remove it from her?” asked Spike.
“I don’t know.” Fernandez said, she looked very, very worried.
“Yes, but it will not be without danger.” The Gatekeeper said as he hobbled into the room.