Xander saw Spike fall from the tower and hit the ground. He glanced over at Buffy, but she was still struggling with Glory.
*Go, Xander! Help Dawn!* Willow said telepathically. Xander ran. Up the tower, feet barely touching the ramp as he climbed. At one point his foot slipped and he nearly tumbled off the edge, but he hardly noticed. Time was of the essence, time after time, time keeps on ticking, ticking...
"You're too late," said Doc, grinning. His reptilian tail swished back and forth.
"No," said Xander. But he could see the blood dripping off Dawn's feet. He clung to the top railing of the tower, trying not to gasp for breath.
"Oh yes," said Doc. "See for yourself." He waved a hand at the portal opening below them, and bowed mockingly at Xander.
Xander pulled a small revolver out of the pocket of his jacket, and shot Doc in the head. The demon looked stunned, and tumbled off the tower.
"Dawn!" Xander ran to her, and untied the ropes.
"Xander!" She threw her arms around him, and hugged him tight. "What... where'd you get the gun?"
"Giles," Xander said. "He gave it to me, just in case-" He broke off, but Dawn understood.
"In case you guys were too late?" asked Dawn. Xander looked at his feet, trying to avoid her eyes, but he couldn't help noticing that the portal below them was growing. "I know, Xander. I know what you have to do to close the portal." A bolt of lightning shot from the portal and hit the street below them.
"I can't. There's no way, Dawn-" The tower shook.
"You have to, Xander. I wish-" She shook her head. Tears ran down her cheeks. "Just - please, tell Buffy I love her. And Willow, and Tara, and Giles, and Spike, and- and Anya, too. And tell Buffy, it's ok. I know she tried."
"You, too, Xander. I love you." She hugged him again. He held on longer this time, until the tower shook violently.
"I love you, Dawn," Xander said. He let go of her, and raised the revolver. Dawn squeezed her eyes shut. Xander held his breath, and pulled the trigger.
* * *