“That could kill them both!” Spike said his voice was raised in anger. The Gatekeeper had just finished telling them how they could get the Key power out of Buffy. Buffy was out cold thanks to a combination of pain and sedatives.
“It could, but given what you have told me about your attempt to leave earth I do believe Dawn will survive.” the old man said.
“The earth won’t let me go?” Dawn asked.
“Yes, I believe that is part of the reason you have lived so long.” The Gatekeeper was staring at Buffy lying in her bed.
“Why is she feeling so much pain?” Fernandez asked.
“The power of the Key is not compatible with her physiology.” The Gatekeeper said as he struggled to get up in the end Spike and Dawn took an arm each and helped him.
“Dawn never had any trouble.” Spike said.
“Her body was created specifically to channel the power.” he said, “The Guardian’s did a good job of creating the body.”
“Thank you.” Dawn said with an embarrassed smile.
“Dawn if you could place your fingers on either side of your sister’s head like so.” The Gatekeeper said demonstrating.
“Okay.” Dawn said a little hesitantly, copying his placement.
“Now concentrate, think about being whole, focus on bringing all of yourself together.” The Gatekeeper said standing a few feet back.
Dawn’s face twisted in concentration, and it seemed from the onlookers perspective that Dawn’s fingers went into Buffy’s head, a bright green light emanated from those points, it reminded those that had been there of Glory and the way she absorbed brain energy.
Both Buffy and Dawn were screaming, Dawn’s eyes were screwed shut in pain but Buffy’s eyes had flown open and she was now fully awake, despite the drugs in her system. Dawn began to collapse but Spike was able to catch her in time.
“No!” The Gatekeeper cried trying to stop Spike but he was too slow.
Spike felt energy roll over under and through his skin, the feeling was incredible, it was like pain and pleasure and something else all at once, he too screamed as he began to loose control of himself, his face morphed and it then morphed again but into something green and spiky.
“Oh my god, what is that?” whispered Fernandez to Cole-Pierce.
“That is a vampire’s true form, no humanity at all.” he replied.
Spike had a look of pure fury on his face, Dawn stopped screaming and her face went slack and her eyes flew open they were pure black, not green, not even the black most people think is black, but something more pure, more evil.
“Oh no.” The Gatekeeper said in shock.
“YOU DARE INTERFERE IN MY AFFEARS?” the words came from Dawn’s mouth but the voice was defiantly not hers it was deeper and with an echo, “YOU WILL PAY.”
A pulse of energy radiated from her it swept everyone from their feet.
“Stop it Dawn.” Spike said his voice was distorted due to the fact that in this form his fangs were sharper and there were more of them, “STOP IT!”
Buffy’s mouth was open in a silent scream, her features were aging before their eyes, she now looked like she was in her early thirties.
Dawn pulled her fingers from her head and she and Spike collapsed into unconsciousness, Spike’s features returned to normal.
“Oh.” groaned Fernandez as she sat up, “What was that?”
“I don’t know.” Cole-Pierce said as he too sat up, he looked at The Gatekeeper, who seemed to be barely breathing.
Fernandez rushed to his side and checked his vitals, “He’s going to be okay.”
“D-Dawn?” Buffy croaked, she had stopped aging at her mid-forties.
Cole-Pierce got up and went to her side, he checked Dawn’s pulse, “I think she’s alright.” he told her.
“Bloody ‘ell.” came Spike’s voice, “Wot ‘appened.” it seemed that for the first time in 300 years his accent had returned.
“The power was too much for her to handle.” came The Gatekeeper’s weak voice, he was being helped into a wheel chair by Fernandez and a male nurse, “I should have realised.”
Cole-Pierce and Spike both helped to get Dawn up onto the other bed in the room. Fernandez took some blood from both of them and sent it to be tested.
Suddenly the phone in the corner rang, Fernandez went and answered it, after a heated conversation she came back to the beds, “That was the hospital manager, I’ve been called in to explain what’s been going on.”
“What will happen?” Cole-Pierce asked.
“I don’t know, I’ll have to give the Council a ring and get instructions.” she said heading out the door.
“I am sorry to interrupt.” came Nathaniel’s voice from the door, “But I really need to…” he broke off as he saw Buffy.
“Yes?” Cole-Pierce prompted.
“I…I must go.” he looked very worried, either that or very concerned, it was hard to tell. He spun on his heels and left in a hurry.
“How odd.” Cole-Pierce said shaking his head.
“Can say that again.” Spike said getting up from his seat beside Dawn and stretching.
“Oh.” groaned Dawn, she was coming round.
“Rafael, I have seen it.” Nathaniel said as he entered the back room at the Night Blooming Café.
Rafael, the owner, looked up from his accounts book, “Seen what Nathaniel?”
“The Nimir-ra.” he said the word like it was holy.
“That is impossible, we have had no Nimir-ra for the last four centuries.” Rafael said getting up, his eyes were not normal, they were bright gold with flecks of red radiating from the center, this was because Rafael was a wereleopard, he was formerly one of Gabriel’s lieutenants.
“It was her, I tell you.” Nathaniel said almost like a little child.
“Alright, my friend what did she look like?” Rafael said as he moved over to a liquor cabinet, “A drink?”
“Scotch neat.” Nathaniel answered as he sat in the seat opposite the desk.
Rafael fixed Nathaniel’s drink and made himself a martini with an onion, “Now what did you see?” he said handing the glass to Nathaniel.
“She was lying in a hospital bed, I had done as you asked and gone to find Jennifer Harris,” Nathaniel said taking a sip of his drink, “While there talking to her watcher, another slayer had some problems, some magic or other, she was identical to the description of the Nimir-ra.”
“Describe her for me.” Rafael asked.
“Blonde, about 5 foot 4, 40 to 45 years old, fine featured.” Nathaniel said.
“It could be her.” Rafael said looking pensive, “I will need to see her.”
“Can you come now?” Nathaniel asked.
“I can slip away, yes.” Rafael said.
They both stood up leaving their half drunk drinks on the table and headed for the door.
“The hospital review board is being convened to review my actions concerning Buffy and Dawn.” Fernandez said as she sat in the room with Cole-Pierce and Spike on either side of her. Dawn and Buffy were asleep on the other side of the room.
“Can the Council do anything?” Cole-Pierce asked.
“They could swing it so I get to keep my medical licence but in this economic climate they can’t guarantee I’ll keep my job or that they can get me a new one.” she looked very unhappy.
“It’ll be alright, luv, I mean you could always go into business for yourself.” Spike said in an attempt to cheer her up.
“It’s not the same, I have always wanted to work in the ER, it’s what I was born for.” Fernandez said she was sounding a lot less happy.
“Doc?” Dawn’s voice came from her bed.
“Yes Ms Summers?” Fernandez said as she got up and walked over to her bedside.
“What’s going on?” Dawn asked as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.
“I’m probably getting fired.” Fernandez said with a fake smile plastered on her face.
“Oh okay.” Dawn was still partly asleep.
“She is in here.” came Nathaniel’s voice from just outside the door.
The door to the hospital room was pushed open and in walked Nathaniel and another person they didn’t know.
“This is Rafael, he is my only equal in the pard.” Nathaniel said as Rafael walked over to look at Buffy.
“See is she not the Nimir-ra?” Nathaniel asked looking at Rafael.
“Nimir-ra?” asked Cole-Pierce, “What’s that?”
“Wereleopard Queen.” Nathaniel replied before looking back at Rafael, “Is she?”