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Patricia de Lioncourt [userpic]

Fic: The Funny Thing About Keys (12/25)

Author Name: Patriciatepes (Patricia de Lioncourt )

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Batman: the Animated Series

Rating: PG-13

Characters: Dawn Summers, The Joker, Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Batman, Giles, Willow, Xander, Buffy Summers, OCs, several minor scenes with major characters

Pairing: Dawn/Nightwing (Dick Grayson)

Chapter Links: Prev | Next

Warnings: (for all chapters) Torture, swearing

Summary: When Buffy is poisoned and dying, Dawn is left no choice but to go to Gotham for the cure that she is told is too dangerous to retrieve. Time is on her side... too bad the universe isn't.

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, Batman, or any related characters. They belong to Whedon, DC Comics, and WB. No money made here.

Author's Notes: Art by the wonderful 20thcenturyvole. I started this story long, long ago, and decided to finish it for the wipbigbang.  I do author's notes every chapter on fanfiction (dot) net, but I'll only copy the relevant ones here.

Chapter 12- Glow

Dawn's stomach was tight, and she was more than fairly certain that her arms and legs were bruised in several places from playing the ball to the bouncing truck's pinball machine. And it did not help that she could feel the rough ropes that Joker had used to bind her to the world's most uncomfortable chair rubbing every sore spot on her—arms and legs. She blinked, feeling her eyelashes catch the blindfold that Joker had put on her several minutes ago. She had no idea why she needed to be blindfolded. It was not like she knew Gotham's layout by heart. But, then again, the demented clown did not know that. Tired already from being tied and bouncing in the back of a truck, it did nothing to ease her aching to be suddenly tied and bouncing in a chair as Joker had drug her from the truck to wherever the hell they were now.

"Now, then," Joker said suddenly, as if listening to her moaning thoughts.

She felt the blindfold move, and a second later it fell from her eyes. The shock of the bright—florescent?—lights on her eyes made her gasp and shut them as tight as possible. A couple of test flutters later had them adjusted, and Dawn shook her head.

"Surprise! Home sweet home!" Joker said, standing a foot or so from her, his arms thrown joyfully into the air.

Dawn lifted a brow. Joker was no longer in his Arkham clothing, instead in the purple suit and spats he was so well known for. She figured he must have grabbed them on the way out of the asylum, since he had had her keys. She groaned, that fact suddenly smacking her in the face. She had practically given him free reign of Arkham. Of course he had been able to grab a delivery truck and hightail it here with her.

She tore her eyes from his pasty grinning face and looked around. The building she was in was nothing special. It looked like an old factory of some sort, long since shut down and abandoned. Broken down machinery and dusty floors were all she could see from her place. Joker let out a long cackle.

"Like the place, kiddo? It's a place I was scouting the last time, before the Bat caught me. It's not much, but with a little touch of love here and there, we could make it work."

Dawn did not like the way he so causally used "we." The Clown Prince now danced—quite literally—around her chair, stopping after a cycle or two to kneel beside her.

"Yes, yes… a dash of red here and there… maybe some glowing green stuff… We could definitely come to love the place. Oh, but we'll need a bigger place when we have kiddies… That is, if you want kids. We haven't discussed that yet. But all in good time!"

He let out another long, maniacal laugh. Dawn shook her head. It was obvious what he was doing, even to her rather untrained eye. He was mocking her. Mocking everyone else, really. Mocking what most people wanted out of a life. It was weak, but there was only one thing she could manage to mutter in response.

"You're crazy."

His laughter died down to giggles before it finally died completely. He stood up, his hand still on the back of her chair, and his unnatural grin forcibly turned upside down.

"Oh, my dear Dawnie. Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, Dawnie," he said, shaking his head.

Without any preamble, he snaked a foot behind the front legs of the chair and knocked them upward. Dawn cried out in surprise as Joker caught the back of her chair just before her head could collide with the cement. Now he was grinning above her, and for some reason, it was rather hard for her to breathe.

"You and I are going to have some fun here. You see, I still don't know why you glow, honey. But even here, outside of Arkham, I can see it. A bright green halo of light all over you…"

He took his free hand and ran it, almost reverently, down her cheek. She jerked her head away. She was getting dizzy, and her breathing was not getting any easier. But Joker only chuckled.

"You see, that little, ahem, betrayal back at Arkham was such a bad, bad, bad thing, Miss Winters."

Was he still on that? Dawn could hardly believe it. She had heard it from a lot of her coworkers, some of Joker's "quirks." One of which had been that he never lets the little things so. She had even overheard one of the doctors on staff theorizing that that was why he was so fixated on Batman… that the Batman had done something—something that any normal person would have forgotten easily—to him. Dawn had not put any thought into that. Obviously… she should have.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Joker scoffed, setting her chair upright. "And you think that'll get you off the hook? Oh, sweet, you really aren't from Gotham, are you?"

"I told you why I glow. I told you. I swear, it's nothing more than that. I'm a mystical Key."

Joker waved a hand at her dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, I know. I heard you the first time. You didn't quite touch on why only the crazies could see it."

She shook her head. "I don't know why. It's just the way it's always been."

Joker arched a brow. "The way it's always been?"

Dawn did not like the way he repeated that. She swallowed, hard, and wiggled within her ropes—bruises be damned. Joker had put his back to her now, reaching for a long table Dawn had not put thought into before. It was covered by a long white cloth and clearly had something underneath it—like a doctor's surgical tray. Now Dawn really struggled. Joker grinned at her from over his shoulder as he pulled the table closer to himself. He moved to stand behind it and seemed to be truly relishing in the fear welling up in her. With a flourish, he removed the white cloth in one pull.

It was like something right out of a horror film. She was never going to scoff at the screaming leading-lady ever again. Because it was everything Dawn could do not to scream… and nothing had really happened yet.

The tabletop was covered from one end to the other with every surgical instrument imaginable—and some the Joker had just made up or added. A chainsaw and a plunger had found their way amongst the scalpels and handsaws, as well as rubber chickens, nasty looking liquids, and a car battery. Feet bound together or not, Dawn put them to the floor as best she could, trying with all her might to push the chair back—to put as much distance between herself and that table as possible. The Joker was laughing again, rounding the table to put a single hand on the back of the chair once again, stopping all of her efforts.

"No," Dawn whispered, and she hated the fear that seemed to be spewing from her.

Joker knelt beside her, his eyes going back and forth between the table and her.

"You know, we could have avoided this. All you had to do is tell me why you glow," he said.

"I've told you! I've told you everything I know, I swear!"

Well, that wasn't exactly true. But she figured that Joker would not care about monks or a dead hell-god, or a spell that could not be performed anymore. And she had volunteered enough information at the moment.

"Yes," Joker hissed, standing and moving back to the table. "Yes, you told me that you're a Key."

"That's right. Honestly," Dawn said, trying her to use her best "reasoning" voice.

She knew that it would not work.

Joker stopped just behind the table and lifted a scalpel up so that she could see it. He ran a thumb over the blade, and Dawn could not contain the gasp that followed as she watched a drop of blood—his blood, the whole damn reason she was in this predicament—well up and get absorbed through the cloth of his glove—which had also been sliced. He eyed her for a moment, an odd look coming over his face. It lasted for all of a single moment before he walked back to her, scalpel still in hand.

"I'm a Key," she said evenly. "That's all there is to it."

"There are a lot of funny things about keys, Dawnie," he said, leveling the blade at her left cheek.

He applied the tiniest bit of pressure to it. Enough so she could feel it, but not enough for it to cut. She glared up at the clown.

"Really?" she snapped.

"Yeah. Like, a Key, on its own, isn't really complete."

Dawn arched a brow. "How do you figure?"

"Well," he said, adding a bit more pressure—and now she could feel the bite of a sting as it cut, followed immediately by a warmth running down her face, "you see a Key isn't even necessary without a lock."

She didn't like where this was going. Not at all.

"And I don't know what lock you go two, my little green Key," he said, pulling down on the scalpel.

Dawn could not hold back the gasp that followed that bit of pain. His grin widened.

"So I'm not going to stop, Dawnie dearest, until I know what lock you go to," he finished, holding the blood-covered blade of the scalpel up for her to see.

She stared at him, face set in a resolute stone.

"This is useless. You won't learn anything."

He grinned, bringing the scalpel back down to her other cheek.

"Let's just see about that."

End Notes: Okay, sorry for another short chapter. I promise, longer chapters are ahead… I just have to do some setting up for what I consider to be the second half of this story. But how was that? I hope that little snippet of what is to come for poor Dawn was interesting.

Fun Note: Last chapter's title was inspired by the song "Your Guardian Angel," by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.