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Patricia de Lioncourt [userpic]

Fic: The Funny Thing About Keys (23/25)

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 23- The Lightning Strike

"Damn," Cane swore as he kicked open the door to his pre-selected location.

As it turned out, said location was atop a skyscraper right in the heart of the city. They were on the bit of roof that jutted out over a steeple-like structure that came complete with a large lightning rod. Cane ushered Dawn and Nightwing over to the far side of the roof, almost directly across from the door, and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, their chains were rooted into the roof's concrete, and the length of their chain had grown a tad shorter as well. Joker stepped onto the roof, his gun still in hand, as he took a quick look around. Dawn did the same, taking in the small wooden table—almost like one a craftsman might have—set up right behind the door. The table was laden with various vials and beakers and books and potions that could very well be more poisons.

"Not good," Dawn muttered, and Nightwing stepped closer to her, allowing his hand to just barely brush up against hers.

"We'll be fine," he replied, just as low.

Joker, for his part, was looking skyward. With an arched brow, he put his attention on the large warlock.

"You know, Billy, this skyscraper may not have been the best choice for this. This tends to be just the kind of place that Batsy and his kids like to hang out," the Clown Prince noted.

But his warning went unheeded. Instead, Cane cursed again. Joker, again careful to keep his gun accessible—apparently, he didn't trust Cane's spell to keep either Dawn or Nightwing bound, crossed his arms over his chest.

"What's the matter?"

At this, Cane finally turned to acknowledge the Joker. He let out a tiny growl of aggravation and gestured over to Nightwing.

"I tried to jam his tracker, mystically, as we were leaving the warehouse. But somebody beat me to it. Odds are, Willow and her friends are on the way here with your mutual friend, The Batman. I have no doubt she's tracking the vigilante mystically, and try as I might, I can't shake the spell."

Joker uncrossed his arms, cocking his gun and taking aim for Nightwing. "No matter. We can start the fun now."

"No!" Dawn yelled.

Cane shook his head. "Don't waste your bullets. Nightwing will be tracked still, alive or dead. Instead, just keep your eyes peeled. I must begin the spell necessary to move the planet into place."

Cane put his back to all of them, facing out toward the city. He took a seat, cross-legged, down on the roof and began to chant. Dawn shook her head again.

"You have no idea how much ass is gonna be kicked once Willow gets here. She learned the hard way to respect the order of nature. Moving that planet is just going to piss her off more," she threatened.

Nightwing grinned. "And Batman's never really fond of seeing you, Joker."

Joker laughed. "Oh, really? And here I thought we were BFF. Oh dear."

Dawn joined in on Nightwing's grin. "I imagine those two, together, are gonna hand you your clown ass."

At this, Joker casually waved the gun in her direction. He inched a bit closer, seeming now to loom over her despite his still relative distance from the girl.

"You know, for someone about to bleed, you're getting awful cocky," Joker said, his voice dropping low.

Dawn's grin vanished, and she had to fight hard not to cartoonishly gulp. She really hoped that Batman and her friends were close by, because things had deteriorated fast. Meanwhile, Cane continued his chant, his words growing in volume. When Joker put his attention on the Warlock, Nightwing turned to Dawn.

"I speak Latin, but I can't catch what he's saying. Can you?"

Dawn shook her head. "No. But it's not good."

Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, a strange feeling took root in Dawn's core. She felt shaky and ill, like someone had slipped her a drug and dropped her blood sugar all in one go. And the more Cane chanted, the worse the feeling got until Dawn was almost bending double, a small series of grunts escaping her lips.

"Dawn? Dawn, what's wrong?" Nightwing asked.

She groaned, looking over at the hero. "Can't you feel that?"

Nightwing shook his head. "No. What are you talking about?"

The feeling was terrible. Dawn was doing everything in her power not to heave. The last thing she wanted this group to see was her vomiting. But the chanting wasn't slowing, and neither were these horrible feelings. She managed to gulp down some air, stifling the urge to hurl for just a moment to answer Nightwing.

"I guess I… studied with Willow more than I thought. Maybe I'm… connected… to the earth or something… or maybe… because I am the Key," Dawn struggled.

"Aww," Joker mocked, leaning over to look the girl in the eye. "Is widdle Dawnie not feeling too good?"

Dawn managed a sneer. "You know, Joker… last time I checked… I've been through this before. And if I remember right… the score… was Good Guys, one, Hell God, zero. So kiss it, clown."

She groaned, wanting desperately to hug her stomach to stop the pain, but her arms were still very much bound to her sides. Joker threw his head back, laughing quite obviously at her false bravado through her pain. Dawn was on her knees now, moaning almost in tune to the chant. Nightwing's eyes were wide in alarm.

"What is it?"

"This… isn't right," Dawn managed.

Almost as soon as the words had left Dawn's mouth, Cane's chanting ended with the sound of thunder. A bright flash followed, and despite all common sense, all eyes turned to the rod that stood atop the steeple structure. A bright bolt of lightning arced downward, striking the rod and destroying the single, flashing red light that was supposed to give warning to planes. Tiny shards of glass sprinkled down as Cane stood, chuckling.

"Now, it begins," he noted.

Another bolt of lightning struck the rod, and Dawn let out a tiny scream of surprise. She gasped at the end of her cry, turning to the warlock.

"You did it, didn't you? You moved a freakin' planet out of its natural place!"

Joker was laughing almost uncontrollably now, and Cane was grinning from ear to ear. The amount of hubris and fear on this rooftop was a force to be reckoned with. The warlock walked over to his table, lifting a large, ornate dagger from amongst the items found there.

"Let's see your Miss Rosenberg do that," he challenged, stepping toward her.

Nightwing was shaking his head now almost constantly, disbelief and shock coloring his features. "You're crazier than Joker."

Dawn thought that might be pushing it. Or maybe not. Maybe she was just desensitized to mystical manifestations of evil. Either way, her face was set with a grim determination.

"Willow's gonna be pissed. Not to mention the grand coven. You're so dead. And for good this time," Dawn noted.

Cane brandished the knife menacingly in front of her, his grin still firmly in place.

"As all you children say nowadays… bring it."

End Notes: Okay, that was super short. Sorry, transitional chapter. They happen time and again. But I hope everyone enjoyed it.

Fun Fact: Last chapter's title was inspired by "Holding Out for a Hero," either the original version by Bonnie Tyler, or the two versions spawned by the Shrek 2 soundtrack by either Frou Frou or Jennifer Saunders. I own all three versions and listen to them all frequently.