Dawn had volunteered to work at the Magic Box. Giles and Anya were happy to help the girl occupy her time while she was grieving for the loss of her mother. Of course what Dawn actually was doing was locating the book needed to end that grief’s necessity by bringing her mom back.
It took a short time to weasel the information from the clueless Watcher and his ace employee. One conveniently empty book-bag and two turned heads later and Dawn had the recipe for her plan. A night making lists and a day applying all the stealthy slight of hand she had learned by observing Spike and she was good to go. For the first time since Joyce had gone into the hospital Dawn felt like smiling.
Later that night it was time to put action to her dream. Time to bring mom home!
Dawn used the traditional Summers method of sneaking out of the house and shimmied down the tree to land with a muffled thud next to the porch. She had carefully tucked one of Buffy’s stakes in her pants and knew enough to avoid the vamp hot spots on her way to Joyce’s gravesite. It had not been difficult to slip out without alerting Buffy. Buffy had withdrawn so far into herself that Dawn felt she had buried both women in her family that gray day.
The only item the ritual called for that the Magic Box hadn’t been able to provide was there at her feet. Dirt from the fresh grave of her mother; "Fresh graveyard soil" it had said to be exact.
Not enough time had passed since the burial to pack the dirt solidly so digging up a bit wasn’t too taxing physically. Dawn wasn’t sure how she felt digging there. Part of her felt like she was violating her mothers resting place and another, larger part knew that she would dig to China through the holy of holies itself to get to her mothers loving arms again.
When she completed her task she moved the sod to cover her digging and stood to make her way back home.
"Hope it’s just dirt you’re after," Spike’s deep voice rumbled into the dark night. Dawn nearly jumped out of her skin.
Spike looked at the spooked teen with a wealth of understanding in his eyes. "If the spell calls for anything more than that, you’re into zombie territory, and that’s bad news."
Dawn started to stutter an excuse to try to throw Spike off the scent. The vampire was far too observant and knowledgeable of things mystical for her muttered words to have any hope of working and she knew it. She was busted but good.
Spike looked from the nervous girl’s face to the book she was clutching to her side and smiled gently at her. "I know good and well what you’re up to. That book you’ve got is infamous."
Very little had the power to frighten Spike after all his time and experience, the use of magic was one of those things. Magic rarely worked out well for anyone involved. Still, it was obvious that Dawn was not going to be turned away from her mission. She needed, loved, and missed her mum and no one; not her sister and certainly not the local outcast vampire was going to dissuade her.
Spike knew how she felt. In her shoes he would have likely done the same. He had suffered the long months of a death watch with his own mother and when he finally went proactive and turned her it only led to his having to drive a stake in the breast that had nurtured him as a babe. No, these things never turned out well. Still, if his Niblet was going to do it regardless of any warning he would damn sure make certain it was done right. The Slayer would likely stake him but Joyce would come back right or not at all.
"Look, I’m not gonna tell, Little Bit. I’m gonna help."
The pair slipped through the night like two dark ghost’s bent on a mission. Spike tried to let Dawn know the importance of the upcoming meeting. "I’ve never used this bloke’s services myself. Don’t hold with magic." He held up a silencing hand as Dawn started to defend her plan. "Word is he knows everything there is to know about resurrection spells."
Dawn looked at Spike from the corner of her eye and set her most defiant expression on her face. "You don’t have to be all nice to me. I know why you’re doing this."
Spike quirked an eyebrow and stopped mid stride to turn to the girl, "Do tell, care to share?"
"Spike, I’m not stupid. You’re crazy about Buffy and you’d do anything to get in good with her."
Spike nearly laughed aloud. "Are you daft? Big sis’d have my dust blowin in the wind before you could blink ‘f she had any idea what we’re about!" Spike had never looked more serious as he grasped Dawn’s shoulders and looked directly into her eyes. "Buffy can never hear about any of this, not this bloke and not my part in this. I’m dead serious."
Dawn saw the truth in his eyes and felt the first shiver of fear in his company that she could ever remember. Most times it was easy to forget Spike was a Master Vampire but every once in a while the leashed power still made itself known. In those times Dawn could remember every cautionary tale Buffy had ever told her about the Big Bad and his evil century of mayhem and blood. "So why are you helping me?"
"You’re gonna do it anyway, want it done right ‘s all. Your mum was too special to come back anything but perfect." Spike turned and began to continue their walk to the mystery man. "Magic’s too touchy to have an amateur play with a spell like this one. Doesn’t get darker or deeper to mess with life and death. Even witches like Red and Glinda wouldn’t really be up to it. Can’t actually think of any that would even try it. Too much can go wrong. Don’t want either of you Summers women losing anything more, okay?"
"Okay," Dawn solemnly agreed as they drew to a halt outside a door. Spike knocked and they cautiously entered upon invitation.
The room looked like it would belong to a scholar or librarian like Giles instead of a warlock or Shaman.
A small grandfatherly looking man came from around a curtained archway. He was wearing a bathrobe and glasses and Dawn wondered if he had ever worked for the Council of Watchers.
The man looked at Spike as if trying to place him. Finally a light of pleasure lit in his eyes as he proclaimed, "I know you!"
Spike looked both confused and a bit alarmed as he denied the claim, "Don’t think so mate."
The old man refused to be denied. "No, no. You’re that guy who hangs around the corner mart. Big into dominoes, aren’t you?"
Dawn nearly laughed aloud at both the look of horror on Spike’s face and the mental picture of the punked out vamp playing dominoes anywhere!
"Look. I’m not the guy. We’re here because…" Spike tried to turn the conversation to their actual purpose.
Doc as he asked to be called nearly laughed. "Crazy isn’t it? I mean I’d swear you were that guy. I mean, your hair’s a different color and you’re a vampire, but other than that…"
Spike launched into an explanation for their visit. The death of Joyce, Dawn’s deep grief and need for her mother’s presence at this point in her life and the intention to bring Joyce back to her. "So we were wondering, what's to be done about it. Heard you were the one to ask."
Doc looked as horrified as Spike had suggested a spellcaster would at the idea. "Oh no! That’s …. You don’t wanna mess with that. Look, I know some tonics to make the grieving fly by." He started to pull vials and bottles down from shelves.
"No," Dawn nearly shouted. "Sorry, but no," she said more softly. "I’m doing this with or without your help but Spike says with is better."
Doc looked thoughtful and a little impressed with the determination he saw in the young girl. "Either one of you witches? Got any experience with spells of this magnitude?" At the nervous shuffling of Dawn’s feet and Spike’s grim countenance he read the answer without hearing the words. "Didn’t think so."
As Doc turned from them to poke through the many books in his library Dawn noticed the tail on the otherwise human looking demon. She let out a slight gasp and Spike glanced at the girl and shook his head slightly in warning.
Dawn stood straight and tried to look well organized. "I’ve gathered the ingredients for the spell I found but there’s things I don’t understand."
"Well one thing you’ll need to make this turn out well are Ghora eggs. You’ll need to get one from its mother’s nest to make sure she comes back right." Doc was writing some words that Dawn couldn’t translate as he spoke. "These words will do the trick. Add the Ghora egg to the mix, say this portion here," he indicated his script. At Dawn’s puzzled look he reassured her, "Don’t panic, I wrote it phonetically. Just say it as it looks. It’s a demon tongue, a language as dead as Ancient Sumarian is to the humans. This is the oldest magic, basic just like the life and death it deals with."
"Right then. Ghora you say," Spike interrupted. "They local?"
"Like to live on the hellmouth. I’m sure you’ll find at least one with a clutch of eggs waiting to hatch." Doc turned back to the book he had copied the spell from and read aloud, ‘Egg of the Ghora gives life.’ It’s the key to the spell."
"Once you get all the ingredients together, put them in the center of a sacred circle. Then... say this incantation... three times. She will appear, you know, poof. Got it?" Doc was looking only at Dawn.
Dawn was beaming with the joy of anticipation, "Got it."
Spike decided to just ask for the information instead of wasting more of the night in a drawn out search. "And the Ghora?"
Doc looked startled as if he’d forgotten the entire purpose of this late night visit with strangers. "Oh, right, sorry. Um, go in the sewer entrance near Tracy Street. The opening's, um, on the left. Can't miss it. Just follow that down."
Spike insisted on a side trip to his crypt to pick up a sturdy axe. He had no idea what this Ghora might look like but a solid axe blade across a neck nearly always did the trick. Mothers, even demon mothers rarely gave up their young without a fight.
He had tried to get Dawn to wait for him to return with an egg but she had insisted on coming along. She was harder to shake than an Elopien mud eel. "You need me Spike. Somebody’s gotta get the egg while you distract the Ghora!"
Spike had to chuckle at the Slayerlike attitude, "What do you know, bitty Buffy! Not the Slayer in her after all, it’s all Summers!"
The large reptilian creature reminded Dawn more of a dragon than anything. It was sleeping atop a pile of glowing eggs at peace with the world.
Dawn breathed a sigh of relief, "Doesn't look so bad."
Spike rolled his eyes and silently groaned at the obvious jinx that the girl had just put on the whole operation. "Wait till it wakes up. That's usually when the bad starts."
"Spike, I can’t get at the eggs unless the big lizard moves."
Spike sported a maniacal grin and headed towards the sleeping mother Ghora. "Then I'll make it move. You just be ready." He lifted the axe and yelled, "Hey! Ghora, heads up!"
The sleepy mom awoke and sat up looking for the disturbance to her slumbers. Spike and Dawn took a deep breath as they noticed that the demon had not one but three heads, each lethal.
"Right then. Heads it is," quipped a nervous but game Spike.
Dawn kept her eye on the battle waiting her chance to grab the needed egg quickly. Spike was wailing on the mother Ghora and had taken out one of her heads while dodging the others.
The demon lashed its tail nearly knocking Dawn off of her feet as a panicked Spike tried desperately to divert its attention. "Hey, get away from her!" He buried his axe in the neck of the Ghora leaving it stuck mid way through the scaled column.
Dawn grabbed an egg and they both made a mad dash out of the nest area. As they started up the stairs to the relative safety of the streets of Sunnydale Dawn tripped and watched in horror as the egg crashed to the ground spilling its precious contents.
Spike grabbed Dawn as she started to turn back to the tunnel and the angry demon, "Leave it, Dawn. It's too dangerous and I haven't got," his voice trailed off as Dawn broke free and ran back. "a weapon," he finished as he broke into a run to follow the impulsive girl.
He caught up to her just as she screamed. The demon was inches from Dawn and enraged.
Spike began to throw rocks at the demon to attract its attention and protect Dawn. His rouse worked too well as the Ghora lowered one of its remaining heads and took a deep bite out of Spike’s side. It’s tail swept Dawn away tossing her like a doll across the chamber close to the tunnel leading to the stairs.
Spike screamed in agony as the teeth tore into him but knew Dawn wasn’t leaving without her bloody egg. He grabbed the precious item and shoved the Ghora back as he scrambled to his feet. He had never run so fast as he headed toward the teen. "Run Bit! Don’t look back. I’ve got the soddin’ egg."
Dawn prepared the ingredients to perform the resurrection that next night. Spike had reluctantly agreed to stand guard making sure neither Buffy nor any of her cheering squad interrupted. The Slayer was on patrol and her posse would, no doubt, be at her heels.
Dawn sat in the circle she had drawn on the floor of the living room. The sheet with the demonic words in front of her with candles holding it down while they illuminated it for reading.
She began with the words she had already transcribed from the book she had located at the Magic Box. Doc’s addendum would come at the end. "Osiris... giver of darkness.." She poured consecrated oil from a vial onto her hands and then smeared it on the sheet. In the center of the circle was a small cauldron that Dawn was filling with the dry and wet ingredients necessary as she continued the words of supplication to Osiris. "Taker of life ... god of gods... accept my offering. Bone, flesh, breath. Yours ... eternally."
Spike tensed as he spotted the scoobies rapidly approaching the porch, Buffy in the rear. "Bit, company comin. Best hurry this along or there’ll be vamp dust floatin into that pot you’ve got there."
Dawn didn’t even seem to hear him as she read the gibberish Doc had given to her and finished up with, "Return to us."
"I can’t believe you let my little sister even touch a book like that!" Buffy was livid. Tara had discovered the missing history and rapidly figured out the use Dawn had likely made of it. It hadn’t taken too long to discover various missing items from the Magic Box, including a rather dangerous grimore with ancient spells guaranteed to lead to disaster.
Tara was still beside herself with worry for the teen. "This is bad, really bad."
Willow was obviously trying to get back into Buffy’s good graces and out from under fire. "We came to find you right away, Buffy. Dawnie can’t do anything until tonight at the earliest. We’ll stop her in time."
Spike leapt back against the wall, unnoticed, as the thoroughly brassed off Slayer marched to the center of her living room and took in the sight of her little sister surrounded by broken demon egg and other trappings that just yelled, ‘TOO LATE’.
Dawn wasn’t paying a bit of attention to anything but the ritual at hand. "Bone ... flesh ... breath ... yours eternally. Bone, flesh, breath, I beg of you, return to us."
Tara gasped in horror as the room crackled with energy.
Willow had a strange look on her face that Anya privately named jealousy as she stared at the untrained teen summoning the mother of all powers in a ritual far beyond anything Willow had yet to try.
Xander pulled Anya closer into the protection of his arms as the room began to take on a bright glow to match the palpable energy flow. Suddenly there was a loud,"POP" and all returned to normal. All normal, that is, except for the bewildered woman clutching her loose clothing to herself and looking about in astonishment and confusion.
"William?" The woman asked in a weak but cultured voice. "Is that you? Why do you wear such vulgar clothing? And what on earth has happened to your hair?"
"And so wonder we all," Xander looked from the strange older lady to the vampire standing in wide-eyed, gape mouthed horror from the hallway.
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