The Year 2021.
Willow looked into the eye of the short haired brunette lying beneath her; the redhead caressed the woman's scarred cheek, and then brushed her fingertips on her forehead, and then along the scar that was visible from under the eye-patch. It had been nearly ten years since the end of all things, and all Willow wanted to do now was make love to the woman she was looking down at that moment in time.
The woman looked back up at Willow with longing and a great sadness, all while running the redhead's bare back while her other hand held onto her hip. Willow looked into the woman's eye as their hands roamed all their naked bodies while they were lying in a tent within an underground cave system just outside of the city that used to be Sunnydale.
The event that came to be known as 'The End of All Things' needed to be prevented from taking place. Willow and the woman lying under her, the sister of her dead best friend, worked together and travelled far and wide under the cover of powerful magics to search for a spell. A very special spell that was supposed to be capable of transporting one person back through time.
And eventually they found it in the remains of a magic shop in what used to be the magic underground, an area of London that used to cater to witches and magical beings that once existed. Once they found it, the couple returned to Los Angeles where they met with Riley Finn in an underground base built decades ago by the Initiative. Willow and several witches warded the base so that the being responsible for the End couldn't find them.
At least not until the last moment since the spell was going to be too powerful to hide. The wards gave them more than enough time to plan for the final phase- a journey through underground tunnels to the outskirts of the Sunnydale crater.
"A series of events led to the coming of the End," said Dawn as she looked up at Willow and caressed her cheek, "and you're sending me to the beginning."
"Yeah," Willow said as she stared at the young woman below her, "once you change the past… once you step into the past, you will create another branch of time. At least that's one theory; this timeline will exist but…."
"I'll be in an alternate timeline," Dawn finished as tears welled in her eyes; tears that Willow wiped away. The redhead then looked the tears on her finger, and then brought her finger to her lips and kissed it. Willow closed her eyes and felt a lump rising in her throat as she thought about the woman underneath her; a woman she fell in love with thanks to their circumstances.
"Or you could go back in time, and this timeline would change once you make the first aberration. Either way, you have no way of coming back here." Willow whispered shaking her head while keeping her eyes closed, "and I'll lose three people that I've ever loved. Tara, Kennedy, and then you."
"I know that we're supposed to start the ritual in twelve hours, and I know we have all these Marines and army guys helping us with this mission," said Dawn as the hand that had been roaming around Willow's body was gently placed in the back of Willow's head, "I just want to forget all that for now. Can… can…. can we have right now? Can this be just about us tonight?"
"I love you," Willow whispered as Dawn tightened her hold on the back of her head, and pulled her down. Dawn kissed her, and Willow returned the kiss as a gold shimmer rose up and covered their tent in a sound-proof dome. The military personnel who accompanied them knew this was the last mission they would ever go on, but it was something they needed to do to change their future. All of them were coming to terms with their mortality in a new age following the End. But none of them heard the panting, moans, screams, and squeals of delight under the golden dome as Willow and Dawn lost themselves in each other.
Sunnydale Crater, year 2021.
Dawn, wearing a sleeveless shirt and torn jeans with a handgun holstered to the belt on her right hip, was surrounded by a blue light as a purple haze swirled in front of her. She heard Willow to her left chanting while being surrounded by over three hundred Marines and soldiers. They were firing their weapons at the demons coming towards them; demons that crawled, slithered, and walked high on two feet. They were much worse than the demons Dawn had encountered before. In fact, these new demons crushed the demons that were native to this dimension into dust. Dawn looked up at the red sky and watched new flying demons, nearly a thousand, coming at them while releasing roars that shook her bones.
She then heard screams from the soldiers and Marines. Dawn turned around and watched the men and women assigned to protect them get cut to ribbons. She then turned her head and stared at Willow whose eyes were now jet black… as was her hair
"Willow!" Dawn yelled as the redhead looked at her while the military personnel protecting them were being torn apart, "come with me. Please, we can have a life; you and me. We'll change the future and we can have the life we want!"
"Baby, I already told you; this spell sends one person back to the past! I need to hold the door open, and then seal it shut from this side after you go through to make sure no one could ever make it through again! Now, GO!" Willow screamed as she pulled more of Earths magic, at least the magic she could still access, into her while stabilizing the purple haze. Just as the last soldier fell, Willow used all her power to focus the swirling haze until it opened a breach. She then turned to Dawn, "I love you, Dawn. Now go! I can't hold it for long. GO!"
Willow saw the young woman hesitate for just a second. For the red head, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as she screamed at Dawn to run into the breach. In the meantime, Willow remembered the time she spent together with Dawn after Kennedy's death. Dawn had always been there for her, and the redhead was there for Dawn when the young blonde woman's sister was torn apart by the new demons. It was something she never thought would have happened if not for the tragedies they faced.
Willow wanted Dawn to be safe. She wanted her to have a new life. "Earth's magic is already corrupted. You know what needs to be done, baby. You know why you're going back; to save all of us. The breach will take you to kinda close to Buffy right before the portal forms. You'll have anywhere between twenty to thirty minutes to get to where it happened. Just enough time to get to where she died. I'll send you close to the Hellmouth, and then you…. ughh!"
Before Willow could continue, there was a sharp pain in her gut. The redhead looked at the wide eyed Dawn whose face twisted in anguish, and then, to see why she was so upset, Willow looked down her body. Her eyes were met with the sight of a blood covered, clawed hand that went through her chest. She looked back up at brunette who was screaming in anguish. Willow then whispered, 'go', before mumbling another spell… even while life was leaving her body, even while blood was trickling down the sides of her mouth as a demon roared from behind her… to close the doorway for all time.
Dawn saw demons rush past the one horned demon who raised Willow into the air. Despite her wanting to stay, Dawn knew that Willow was right.. going back in time was the only way to prevent their future from happening. IT was the only way to prevent the dimension known as Twilight from taking over. Staring at each other, Dawn then whispered a final goodbye before she jumped through the breach.
With the breach now closed shut, Willow stopped mumbling the spell, and let a smile develop on her face as she saw Buffy, Xander, and Giles looking up at her. She smiled at the original Scoobies as the last bit of her life-force was leaving her body.
"I'm coming, guys. And Buf… Buffy? Don't… Don't be mad at me. I lov… lov… her." Willow whispered as Buffy, Xander, and Giles reached out for her just as her body was ripped apart.
Sunnydale High, 11:00pm; year 2001.
Dawn fell from the portal to the front lawn of the destroyed Sunnydale high. She rolled forward as the breach closed behind her before getting to her feet. She checked her body for injuries and the, pushing her anguish down to the depths of her very soul, the woman ran as fast as she could to the junkyard where the hell god Glory had built a tower. The very tower that she was going to use to bleed Dawn. In fact, it was the demon known as Doc who bled her over the area that would open a special portal.
A portal that led to every single hell dimension. A portal that brought hell to Earth, at least until it was closed after Buffy sacrificed her life. Dawn and Willow, their future selves at least, knew that incident was one of two keys to changing the future.
Dawn ran as fast as she could towards the tower that was already visible in the distance. As she ran, Dawn remembered Buffy dying in front of her eyes after she was torn apart, the leader of the Slayer army was the six hundred and sixty seventh to die that day. Dawn tried not think about it, but that was the day that she went into shock. She didn't move or eat for days while Willow did everything to pull her out of it. Tears welled in Dawn's eye as she remembered Willow, her Willow, who lost Kennedy in an other-dimensional demonic attack several months after Twilight gained a foothold and corrupted the seed of Wonder.
'Six out of seven billion people wiped out in a matter of days,' thought Dawn to herself as she ran. After Kennedy's death, she pulled Willow out of her depression while Buffy was busy leading armies to keep them all safe…. To hold the line until a plan could be devised.
But the older Dawn's Buffy could never see the plan put into action. A plan that was crazy; a plan that was now on the verge of success. Already at the entrance to the junkyard, Dawn looked up and saw her younger self tied to two posts on either side. She then took out her weapon and chambered a round before holstering it again, all while she watched a crowd of people who had their mental energy sucked out by Glory, together with her minions, be pushed to either side by an unseen force. She knew Willow, the younger Willow, used her magic to create a path for Spike who was now running up the metallic stairs of the tower to the platform at the top. Taking a deep breath, Dawn then rushed out into the junkyard and ran past the fallen minions and the other mentally unsound humans.
Out of the corner of her eye, as she ran up the stairs, the older Dawn caught sight of Willow and Xander who were looking up at the platform from behind cover. Dawn's heart lifted at the sight of the younger Willow, but she forced her feelings down as she rushed up the stairs. And when she was almost at the top, Dawn saw Spike thrown off the platform by the demon, Doc.
"Doc!" yelled Dawn as she dashed up the last few steps and then rushed onto the platform. At hearing the older Dawn's voice, Doc turned around and titled his head in confusion. He then turned to the younger Dawn, who stared surprised past the demon as what appeared to be an older version of herself with an eyepatch over one eye.
"This is interesting," Doc said as he turned back around and stared at the older Dawn, "two of you?"
Dawn just stared at the demon as she took a few steps forward before stopping. She glanced at the shocked expression on her younger self's face before glaring at Doc once again. The man had a grin on his face that the older Dawn wanted to pummel. And then, with his head tilted and the grin ever-present, he started to clap.
"Ho ho," the demon chuckled while he clapped his hands together, "I take it you are from an alternate dimension where the great Glorificus…"
"My world is worse for everyone," said the older Dawn as she took another step forward, "including the demons. But I'm not here to explain things to you… I'm here to stop you."
"The great Glorificus will..."
"Buffy's already beaten her," said the older Dawn while the younger version looked down and strained to see Buffy through the grating of the metal platform, "she failed. And now, you'll fail too."
"No, I won't," the demon shook his head before leaning forward and opening his mouth. Thanks to training by Riley, and several other people following the coming of Twilight, Dawn rolled forward on the platform while Doc's tongue darted straight out of his mouth. While Dawn rolled forward, the tongue darted out to where she was standing a second ago. Once she finished her roll, she reached for and took out her gun while Doc's tongue went back into his mouth. Dawn looked up at the older man knowing that she was in range. She couldn't fire earlier since she was afraid a bullet would hit her younger self, but now she could get a point-blank chance. She aimed the gun upwards, her breathing steady, and fired multiple shots into his chest. As she fired, the older Dawn remembered what happening years ago... she remembered Doc cutting her soon after Spike was thrown off the platform; and then she remembered the feeling of blood flowing from her body as Doc looked on while making more cuts.
The younger Dawn screamed as the multiple shots rang out, forcing Willow and the others to look up at the platform in concern. Buffy, having already savagely beaten Glory with Olaf the Troll's hammer, heard the shots as she just stepped onto the stairs. "Dawn!" she screamed as she ran up the stairs. Giles too heard the shots, but he was already in the process of suffocating Ben, Glory's human 'prison'. Once Ben was killed, and thus Glory was killed as well, Giles got up to his feet and rushed out towards Willow and the others while watching Buffy run up the stairs.
As she emptied her entire magazine into the demon's chest, the older Dawn got up to her feet and glared at Doc's darkened eyes as he stared back at her in shock while holding onto his own chest. He tried to stem the flow of blood gushing out of the holes in his chest and the sides of his mouth. As he turned around and stumbled towards the screaming younger Dawn, the older woman recollected Buffy looking into her eyes... she remembered her older sister telling her to live on. Dawn remembered her Buffy jumping off the platform to save the life of everyone. The older Dawn holstered the gun and then rushed forward while she screamed in anger. She then grabbed the demon by the back of his collar before he reached the young Dawn, and then pushed him off the platform. The older Dawn watched the demon fall to the ground before turning to her younger self.
The older woman then rushed to her younger self and started to untie the stunned, and slightly frightened, girl's bonds as she stared at her older self with eyes wide open. "Did he cut you? Did he cut you!?"
"N… no," said the younger Dawn as she stared at the scars on the face of her older self, at least who she thought was her older self, "who.. who…."
"Are you sure, you're not cut?" asked the older Dawn after untying her younger self and then puling her off the edge of the platform and to the other end near the stairs. The older Dawn then turned and patted down her younger self to make sure she wasn't bleeding. "You're not cut…. You're not cut."
The older Dawn stepped back while she stared at her younger self, before looking down at her shaking arms and whispering, "She was right. I…. I'm somewhere else. I…. changed the timeline and… This is… I branched this out into a new timeline."
"Are… are you really me?" asked the younger Dawn as her older self looked back up, just as Buffy screamed her name. "Buffy! I'm okay… I'm okay…"
"What happened? I heard….." yelled Buffy before she stopped talking after laying her eyes on her younger sister, and then what seemed like a very wary, older version of Dawn standing on the other side, "Dawn?"
"She… she saved me, Buffy," said the younger Dawn as Buffy got closer to her while staring at the face of the older Dawn. The Slayer saw tears gathering in the one good eye while her bottom lip trembled.
"You… you're alive, Buffy," the older Dawn said as her voice broke before she placed a hand over her mouth, "you're alive."
"Dawnie?" asked Buffy as the Older Dawn took another step forward before crumbling to her knees and wrapped her arms around the Slayer's waist. The older Dawn then placed her head against Buffy's abdomen and started to sob uncontrollably.
And all Buffy could do was stare at the Dawn she knew, the younger version of the woman holding tight onto her, as they looked at each other with confusion etched on their faces.