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I Know You II by slaymesoftly
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Chapter Three

“I want to try it.” Dawn’s voice and stubborn expression were eerily reminiscent of her older sister and Giles sighed in defeat.

“Very well, if the coven agrees that it is safe for you to do so, you may try opening a small portal to the dimension in which they located Buffy. But you may not go through the portal until we have discussed all the ramifications and all the possible ways that it could go wrong.”

As Dawn’s eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to argue, he added softly, “Please. I couldn’t bear to lose both of you.”

With an abashed flush, Dawn realized what she was asking of the man who had been like a father to them for years, and she nodded her head in resignation.

“All right, Giles. I’ll be careful. And I won’t do anything until you guys tell me it’s okay. But I can do it. I know I can do it.”

After working with the coven whenever she could spare the time from school, Dawn had begun to explore the latent abilities provided by her former existence as a key. There was general agreement that, with proper supervision and control, it should be possible for the rapidly maturing girl to move back and forth freely between dimensions and Dawn was anxious to try it out by popping in on Buffy and trying to talk her into coming back with her.

(If I can get her to stop boinking evil Spike long enough to listen, that is.)

Constant nagging had finally wormed a G-rated explanation from the Coven’s seers as to who else seemed to be present in the Sunnydale her sister was now inhabiting, and Dawn had no trouble understanding why Buffy might be reluctant to leave a dimension in which Spike was still alive.

As the Council’s strongest witches gathered to supervise, Dawn took a deep breath, stroking the soft fur of the pet rat she was holding to calm herself. She picked the rat up and rubbed her nose against it as she murmured, “I wouldn’t do this if I thought anything bad was going to happen to you, Sukie. You know that, right?” There was no reply from Sukie, but Dawn chose to believe that her bright little eyes indicated a willingness to participate. Opening the door of the cage and checking that the note she had put there was properly taped to the outside of the door where Sukie couldn’t munch on it, she carefully placed the little creature in the cage, gave her a final pat and shut the door.

“Okay. I’m ready.”

She placed the cage inside the space marked out on the floor and stepped back outside the carefully drawn circle. At a nod from one of the seers, she pricked her finger with a sharp bladed knife and squeezing a few drops of blood onto the cage, she began to read the words the coven had given her. For a heart-wrenching second, nothing happened; then the cage and Sukie winked out of existence and everyone gasped.

“How long?” Dawn’s voice shook with emotion as she stared at the empty space.

“It was a very small amount of blood,” Gwyneth replied kindly. “I should think no more than an hour, perhaps less.”

Giles tapped Dawn on the shoulder and suggested, “You could go wash out that cut and rest for a bit, Dawn. I’ll call you if – when – it comes back.”

She stared at him blankly. “You’re joking, right? I’m not going anywhere until Sukie comes back with my note.” She walked over to a nearby chair and sat down firmly, never taking her gaze off the empty space. “I don’t need to rest. I didn’t do anything.”

Just over an hour had passed and Dawn was now pacing rapidly back and forth across the room, shooting anxious glances at the still-empty circle every time she made a turn. The coven members had drifted back into the room, their faces just beginning to show a trace of anxiety when, with a small ‘pop’ the cage reappeared, rat and all. Dawn was there almost immediately, ripping the note off the front and scanning the page. Her wide smile and happy squeal made it unnecessary to ask if the note had been answered.

“Okay, ladies,” she said happily. “I’m going to Sunnydale!”


Buffy was eating her breakfast, happily crunching her cereal and laughing at the vampire as he theatrically stirred some corn flakes into his mug of blood. Joyce’s shudder and exaggerated sick face just made her laugh all the more.

“Sorry, Mom,” she giggled finally. “I promise the vampire and his disgusting eating habits will be out of your hair by the weekend. We found a nice underground apartment not too far from the school, and as soon as we get some furniture in there—“

“You don’t have to leave, you know.” Joyce’s voice was suddenly serious as she renewed an old argument. “I don’t mind having you here – either one of you.”

Buffy sighed and exchanged a look with her vampire. He moved around the island to stand behind her, his nearness offering silent support, even as he smiled gratefully at the woman watching them.

“We really do, Mom. I know this is still hard for you, but I’ve been on my own for a long time and I just feel…weird…living here like I was still a kid. It’s not like you aren’t going to see us all the time. We’ll come for dinner –“ She paused when she felt Spike’s eager nodding behind her back. “You can even teach me to cook – so that this jerk…” she sent her elbow back into the laughing vampire’s stomach. “…will stop complaining about my cooking. Dumb ass doesn’t need to eat real food anyway,” she grumbled, as the still-chuckling man put his arms around her and nuzzled her neck apologetically.

The easy familiarity of Spike’s physical attention to her daughter reminded Joyce of the primary reason the two blonds had decided to find their own place to live and she blushed as she agreed with them.

“You’re right. Of course, you are. You two are not children and you definitely need to have your privacy…” Her voice trailed off as she recalled being awakened once too often by the sounds coming from her daughter’s room. Even their move to the basement hadn’t completely muffled the occasional scream or shout from their bedroom and she sighed with the truth of her words.

Any reply Buffy may have been planning was interrupted by a popping noise and a flash of light. Three heads swiveled to find a small cage sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. Inside the cage was a very bewildered-looking rat.

“Okaaaay….I’m thinking, Willow again?” Buffy leaned towards the cage and said, “Amy? Is that you?” There was no reply except a wrinkling of the rat’s nose and Spike reached over Buffy’s shoulder to pull the note off the front of the cage.

He opened it and, after a quick glance, he silently handed it to Buffy, who read it through, then reread it, a broad smile spreading over her face. She turned to look at the equally happy vampire.

“They know where I am,” she said. “She can find us.”

Joyce’s anxious, “Who knows? Who can find you? What are you—oh, my god. Are you going to leave?”

Buffy and Spike exchanged a look and he gently touched her back as he said, “I think you need to tell her about Dawn, love. Before she pops up in the sink or something and scares your mum to death.”


“You’d better sit down for this one, Mom.” As Buffy suited actions to words and sat on her stool, she took the pen Spike handed her and began to hastily scribble on the back of the note from her sister. She handed the completed message to the vampire and while he refastened it to the cage and stuck his fingers in to stroke the nervous rat, Buffy began trying to explain Dawn to the woman who had no idea that she was about to have another daughter.

They all jumped when the cage and rat winked back out of existence. As Spike went to stand near Buffy, he gave that area of the kitchen a wide berth in anticipation of another, much larger, arrival.

Joyce rubbed her temples and squeezed her eyes shut for several seconds.

“Okay, let’s see if I’ve got this. You have a sister. A real, live, human sister who didn’t exist until a few years ago and yet, who is your biological sister.’ She fixed Buffy with a steely eye. “And this sister’s name is ‘Dawn’? Whose idea was that?”

“Um, I’m gonna guess…yours? Or Dad’s, maybe?”

At her mother’s incredulous look, Buffy muttered, “Well, you named me Buffy, you know. It’s not like that’s a classic.”

“She’s got a point, Joyce,” Spike chimed in. “Bloody silly name for a Slayer, if you ask me.” He quickly closed his mouth when Joyce’s glare left her daughter’s face and focused on the smirking vampire.

“I know this is going to be hard, Mom. The monks haven’t given you any memories – not yet, anyway. But, please, when she gets here…” Buffy stopped, remembering her own clingy behavior when she’d first arrived and found that her mother was still alive. “Just remember – she’s going to be seeing her mother for the first time in several years.”

“The mother that she thinks is dead,” Joyce said dryly.

Buffy nodded silently. They hadn’t really discussed Joyce’s possible future illness in detail, but the woman knew that in Buffy’s world she had succumbed to whatever problem her daughter was so determined to prevent this time around.

“Yeah,” Buffy said softly. “She’s going to be pretty surprised and…and…probably kinda…excited. I just don’t want you to hurt her feelings.”

“Of course I wouldn’t—but…another teen-age daughter?” Buffy and Spike laughed at the woman’s obvious dismay and reassured her somewhat.

“It’ll be all right, Mom. I’m not really a teenager anymore, and Dawn has grown up a lot in the last couple of years. I’m just remembering how I felt when I realized that in this dimension I still had…had you. I had some time to get used to the idea before I actually saw you, but Dawn’s just going to pop up in the kitchen here, and I don’t know if she will have even thought about all the things that might be different.”

Before there could be any more discussion, a much louder pop – one that made Spike’s more sensitive ears ring – signified the arrival of a larger visitor. For just a second, the people in the room remained frozen in place, their minds struggling to absorb the reality of what had just happened in the ordinary suburban kitchen. The ones with the most experience in adjusting to sudden disruption recovered first and with a happy squeal, Buffy threw herself at her much taller younger sister.

While the two girls hugged and jumped up and down emitting high-pitched squeals that had the vampire covering his ears, their mother stared at them with a bemused smile. Although the tall young woman currently clinging to her “real” daughter was a stranger to her, it was easy to pick out some family traits that were familiar to Joyce if not to Buffy. Dawn’s height, of course, was the easy one, as Joyce herself was several inches taller than her oldest daughter. Dawn’s slender build and dark chestnut hair were eerily reminiscent of Joyce’s own mother and she smiled at the resemblance.

As Buffy and Dawn calmed down, the taller girl’s eyes went to the blond woman staring at her with bemusement.


“Hello, Dawn. It’s nice to meet you.” Joyce watched the girl’s expression fade from joyful disbelief to pained resignation.

“You don’t know me.”

She didn’t know her – she hadn’t known until a short time ago that the girl even existed; but Joyce’s maternal instincts would not allow her to leave a child with such visibly crushed hopes standing in her kitchen. She held out her arms and said with a smile, “But I’d like to…”

With a tremulous smile, Dawn released Buffy and stepped into the waiting embrace. She clutched Buffy’s mother, her eyes squeezed tightly shut until she felt that she could let go without crying.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she stepped back. “I needed that.”

“Any time, honey.”

Dawn turned her tremulous smile back to her sister and then noticed the
grinning vampire still holding his mug of blood and shaking his head to clear his ears.

“Bloody hell, Bit, I think you hit notes that shouldn’t even be possible.”

His happy grin took the sting out of his words and he set his mug down just in time to prevent her hug from knocking it out of his hand. He hugged her back, smiling past her shoulder at Buffy as he waited for it. He could tell the instant it hit her – she stiffened in his arms and pulled away slowly.

“Spike? I thought…how? When?” She turned to Buffy, her confusion evident. “I thought this was evil, unsouled Spike. How does he know me?”

“He’s our Spike, Dawn. The Powers sent him back to me. Isn’t that wonderful? We’re supposed to fix stuff in this dimension so that all the awful things don’t happen.”

“Oh. Then you…you won’t want to come…well, of course you wouldn’t…“ Dawn’s voice trailed off as she noted the way her sister was clinging to Spike’s hand. There was silence as each person understood the expectations with which Dawn had come through the portal. Buffy reached a hesitant hand out, her apologetic “Dawn-“ cut off as Joyce stepped in.

“You are welcome to stay here, Dawn,” her mother said softly. “Or, to visit as often as you’d like. You can have your own room – Buffy and Spike are moving out soon, and there will be lots of space.”

The tall teenager bit her lip, then gave them a watery smile. “Thanks, Mom,” she said, giving the older woman a hug. “I think visits will be all I can handle. I’m starting college next year and I really can’t see myself going through all that again.”

“Bit –“ Spike’s voice was warm and understanding. “The Powers put us here for a reason. There are things we need to do. Your world doesn’t need us anymore; got all those bitty slayers to handle whatever comes up, yeah? Think about all the good we can do here…”

“It’s okay, Spike. I get it. I just wasn’t expecting to find youyou and I thought all I’d have to do was convince Buffy to stop boinking evil you long enough to come home with me.” She ignored her sister’s threatening glare and continued, “But she isn’t going to leave the real you. I know that. And, hey, this is what Willow wanted for her. For Buffy to be happy.”

At Joyce’s suggestion, they all moved to the living room and Dawn caught Buffy up on what had been going on while she was away. Spike let his attention wander, perking up only when Dawn mentioned that Xander appeared to have met someone in his journeying around the world collecting new slayers.

“The whelp’s found someone to help him move on, has he? Good on him, then.” He raised an eyebrow at Buffy and said gruffly, “Prob’ly what you should have done, love. Found yourself another man, yeah?”

“I didn’t want ‘another man’,” she responded quietly. “I wanted you – and you weren’t around.” Her deadly glare reminded him that she was still furious that he had been back and solid for several months without letting her know before he died again, and he immediately regretted bringing it up. When he had told her about the amulet and where he’d been while she was mourning him, and how the PTB had given him the choice of joining her or remaining dead, only the fact that he’d chosen her over the version of Heaven they were offering kept her from staking him on the spot. It was only recently that Buffy had forgiven him for not letting her know about his return, and he had no desire to go back to the strained relations that had followed his confession.

“Right then, Bit. What else do you have to tell us?” Dawn curled her lip at his obvious plea for help in distracting her sister.

“Not much. Now that we know that I can do this portal thing, I guess I’ll be practicing and learning more about how to control it. They’re going to make me an honorary coven member –it’s kinda cool, except that I think it’s just so they can keep an eye on me.”

“I can’t imagine why they think they’d have to do that,” he replied dryly, earning himself another glare. “Jus’ kidding, Bit. Know you’re all grown up and talented now, don’t I?”

Buffy broke into their bantering, her tone suddenly serious. “Do you – does the coven know anything about the Buffy and Spike that used to be here? If they didn’t pop up in your dimension, then where did they go when we came here?”

“If they sent the other me somewhere, I hope they gave him time to get his kit on,” Spike said with a grin. “Don’t fancy the idea of waking up in some other dimension all starkers and—“

A hard kick from a blushing Buffy stopped him before he could paint a more explicit picture of what non-souled Spike might have been doing when he was replaced.

“Ewwwww, Spike!” Dawn’s expression left little doubt that she understood what he had been about to say, but then she surprised him by bursting into laughter. “It’s a good thing I’ve grown up a lot in past couple of years, isn’t it?” she joked. “Otherwise, I might have been embarrassed by that.”

“Exactly how grown up are you, Bit?” he growled, eyes narrowing. “And who might I have to kill for it?”

“Back off, big brother,” she said affectionately. “I can take care of myself now. I don’t need a fangy chaperone to keep my dates in line.”

“Back to my question,” Buffy interrupted, both because she wanted an answer and because she could see her mother struggling to control herself.

Joyce had gone from the mother of a sixteen-year-old to the mother of an adult woman within a very short span of time; now she was presented with another daughter who obviously was also accustomed to living on her own and making her own decisions. While she was proud of the self-sufficient young women that her daughters – already she had accepted Dawn as another daughter – had grown into, the mother in her was mourning the fact that she had not been able to watch them develop into these two laughing young women. She gave Buffy a grateful smile as she settled back to hear more about Dawn’s abilities to see into other dimensions.

Dawn’s eyes grew big. “I never thought about it! I was so focused on getting back to you and bringing you home…We can do it, though. I’m sure we can. They should be able to find you guys – the other you guys – I’ll just need something to use…”

“I wonder if they’re together?” Buffy mused, almost to herself.

“If they are, I hope she doesn’t stake him-me before she has a chance to find out what a charming bloke I am.” He waggled his eyebrows at Buffy, pouting when she rolled her eyes with a “sheeeyah”.

“Can you give me something of Buffy’s – that Buffy – to take back with me? We can use it to focus the seers. And something of Spike’s if you still have anything.” She looked at Buffy expectantly.

“I’ll go get something from my closet,” Buffy said, standing up. “But I don’t think I have anything of Spike’s….Oh, wait!” She ran upstairs, coming down within a few minutes, an old black tee shirt in one hand and a green blouse in the other.

“Here you go,” she said, handing them both to Dawn. “The shirt’s been washed, but it was his. And I’ve never worn this blouse, so it should be all good.”

“Okay. I guess I’d better go stand in the portal space,” Dawn said reluctantly. “We’re still fine-tuning how long I can stay places and how often I can do this. I’m pretty sure I can do it as often as I want to. The next thing is to figure out what’s the smallest amount of blood it takes and to maybe save some so that all I need to do is sprinkle some stored blood and decide where I want to go.”

Buffy watched as her mother’s face blanched at hearing Dawn calmly discussing using her blood to open the portals. Spike was nodding in agreement, and Buffy knew that her own face showed no surprise at hearing what it took to open the portals. She reminded herself that Joyce had no knowledge of how Glory had used Dawn to open the gateway between dimensions, nor of how Buffy’s sacrifice had closed it.

“It’s okay,” she whispered, giving the frowning woman a light hug. “It’s not as big a deal as you think.”

Joyce gave her a patented “skeptical mom” look, but smiled gratefully anyway.

“I’m sure it isn’t,” she said bravely. “You can explain it to me later.”

They followed Dawn and Spike into the kitchen, arriving in time to see them exchange another hug and to hear the vampire ask, “So, we’re good, then? You and me?”

“Yeah,” she responded. “We’re good. Buffy explained things to me and…not that I think it was okay…” She gave him a serious glare. “But I understand what happened and I forgive you.”

“Thanks, Bit. ‘preciate it.”

Joyce reached cautiously into the portal area, staring suspiciously at the shimmering sides before giving Dawn a brief hug. “Come back any time, Dawn,” she said sincerely.

Dawn smiled her thanks, then reached out to hug Buffy tightly. “I’ll be back,” she promised. “And I’ll try to find out what’s up with the other you- the other yous,” she corrected herself when Spike raised an eyebrow at her.

She squeaked, “Oops! Here I go!” waved once, and with another loud pop, disappeared leaving no trace of herself or the portal.

Spike put his arms around Buffy, and squeezed her gently. “You alright, pet?” he asked when she didn’t respond right away. She shook her head abruptly, then leaned into his chest. “I’m okay. I just…I miss them all, you know? I mean, everyone’s here – well, except for Dawn – but they’re different. They aren’t my friends. Not yet.”

“They’ll grow into it, love. Just like the other ones did.”

When she didn’t answer, he asked with quiet concern, “Are you sorry you didn’t go back with her?”

“Wha--? Oh. No. God, no. I wouldn’t give you up for anything. I didn’t mean…” She searched his face until she was sure that he believed her, then relaxed again. “I’m fine. I’m just glad we got to see her again.”

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