The sun shone down on a clearing in the middle of the woods, through the middle of it ran a babbling stream over which loomed an ancient willow tree.
At the foot of the tree was a red and white checked blanket laid out on which were the remains of a picnic. The champagne sat, opened and half empty, in a bucket of melting ice, the cold meats were arranged on plates, as were the salads and fruit.
Leaning with his back against the tree was Spike, his eyes were closed and he was basking in the warmth of the sun, sitting between his legs leaning back against him was Dawn, her eyes were open, but rather unfocused. Both were enjoying the unusual feeling of having nothing to do.
Spike opened his eyes, he moved his head to nuzzle at Dawn’s neck.
“How did we get here?”
“How’d you mean luv?” Spike asked still nuzzling.
“I don’t remember driving here, so how did we get here?”
“Dunno luv, just enjoy it.”
“A-and another thing, why aren’t you bursting into flames?”
Spike’s nuzzling was becoming a little disorienting to Dawn so she pushed away from him and stood up, only to find herself dancing with Spike on the dance floor of The Bronze.
“What? How did I get here?”
“You’ve always been ere luv,” Spike answered.
“Luv, forget the questions, enjoy the evening.”
“No,” Dawn stopped dancing and pushed away from Spike, “I want someone to tell me what the hell is going on here.”
Off to Dawn’s left there was a silent pop and a bright flash, and a man in golden armour collapsed face first to the floor.
Both Dawn and Spike rushed to his side and rolled him onto his back. The man looked like he was in his late 90s.
“K-K-Key,” the man sighed, “H-h-help us.”
“How? I don’t know how.”
“Y-y-you have the k-k-knowledge.”
“But…” Dawn broke off as the man slipped into unconsciousness, “…I don’t know what to do.”
“Eh, forget him luv, come dance,” Spike said taking her hand.
“Spike! Stop it! Something’s very wrong here, get a glass of water.”
“Whatever you say luv,” Spike said as he wandered off towards the bar which had suddenly become the bar in The Alibi Room.
Dawn shook her head, a second ago she had been thinking about how many times she had watched Spike walk the same way towards the bar in The Alibi Room, and suddenly they were in The Alibi Room.
Suddenly Dawn knew what she had to do. She began thinking that the man in the armour was younger and healthier and awake, she concentrated on that thought and before her eyes the man’s face smoothed his hair grew darker and his skin firmed up.
After nearly a minute of this the man’s eyes flew open and he looked up at Dawn.
“Thank you, Milady,” he said in a richly accented voice. His accent was similar to Spike’s but it was more refined and it sounded more eloquent.
“Who are you?” Dawn asked as she helped the man up.
“I am… an emissary.”
“An emissary from who?”
“The Powers That Be,” the way he said it you could hear the capital letters at the start of each word.
“Where are we?”
“This is a nexus, a connection point between all the different dimensions, it is somewhere that can bend itself to a person’s will, as you just realised.”
“Why am I here? Why are you here?”
“I’m here because you wanted someone to explain, this place called me here.”
“So, it was all because I wanted something that the places changed?”
“You still haven’t told me why I’m here,” as they’d been talking the world around them had faded into whiteness.
“There is a fault in the dimensions, in one dimension, you lived for thousands of years, until you were recruited into the Legion to fight in a war against demon kind, you turned the tide, as a reward you were rejuvenated and helped to rebuild the Legion, however when the Powers did that there was a problem.”
Dawn didn’t like the way he said the word problem, “What sort of problem?”
“There was a fluctuation in the time stream, it caused a part of you and Buffy to split off and merge with your younger selves, that has caused ripples, dimensions are collapsing onto, merging with, and overlaying others.”
“How can I help?”
“You are The Key, The Powers have been trying to hold the multiverse together but their powers have been spread thin, they can’t hold it together any more, they need help, that’s why when you tried to get into Limbo they knocked you off course and sent you here, then stabilised just this place, so you could find all this out.”
Dawn stood there shaking her head at the man.
“We need your help, reality needs your help, and the longer you take to decide the more dimensions are destroyed, and the further back in time the disruption goes.”
“But how can I help? I mean I don’t have the kind of power you’re thinking of.”
“But that’s the point, you do…” the man broke off as he looked Dawn up and down, “No, you don’t, your power has been diminished, why?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t know it had.”
The man stared off into the distance for a moment, “You have a husband and a child?”
“Yes,” Dawn looked confused, what did Spike and Dru have to do with this.
“Your husband is a vampire?” the man asked in a surprised tone.
“With a soul.”
“Ah, there’s why, your power has been shared with them, we need to get them here.”
“Take my hand, and think of them, think of the last time you saw them together.”
Dawn did as she was told, she took his hand and thought of Dru and Spike.
There was a silent pop and all around them slowly melted into the Summers house in the year 2300, Spike and Dru were in the living room spinning round sort of in time to the music that was playing. It was Dru’s 10th birthday, the celebration that was triply important, because first Dawn had been told that she could never have kids, then second because when she did astound the doctors by giving birth, Dru was given only a year to live, she was born with several birth defects that are one hundred percent lethal, yet she’d survived and the doctors were again astounded. Now she had just turned 10.
“Yes, this is the perfect moment, one perfect moment, the moment her powers came to their peek,” the man said looking at the happy father and daughter.
“Her powers? She doesn’t have any powers.”
“She did, you never saw them, you never encouraged them, so then never emerged.”
“Mom!” Dru cried as she ran full tilt towards Dawn.
“Sweetheart!” Dawn said as she crouched down and enveloped Dru in a hug.
“Dawn? Aren’t you going to introduce us?” Spike asked looking at the man with unveiled suspicion.
“Spike this is…” Dawn broke off realising that she didn’t know the man’s name.
“Emissary,” the man answered for her.
“Emissary? Not the Emissary? From the Powers?” Spike asked looking at the man even more suspiciously.
“Damn, I’d always heard that you were a myth.”
“No, just very rarely seen.”
“Which raises another question, why are you here?”
Emissary looked Spike squarely in the face, “Simple, The Powers That Be need you, Dawn and Dru to save the multiverse.”