It was little over a day since Buffy and Dawn said goodbye to their mother. They and the rest of the Scooby Gang still trying to make sense of Joyce’s sudden death. For a group of friends who had dealt with everything from the Master’s apocalyptic plans for the world, to the Initiative’s failed science project Adam. The gang had seemingly reached their breaking point with the weight of the world resting on their shoulder’s once more, along with Joyce’s death still fresh in their minds.
For Dawn in particular, the death hit especially hard. Having only just come to terms with her seemingly predestined fate as “the key”. Trapped in the house with nothing but one of Willow’s old computers she had given to the Summers. Dawn become somewhat accustomed to using it and browsing what Willow referred to as “the web”. It was a seemingly endless world, full of anything from animated pictures called GIFs, to a website full of reviews for Giles’ magic shop. However, using the web meant that the house phone wasn’t able to work. For technical reasons beyond Buffy and Dawn’s understanding despite Willow’s best efforts.
But even the web couldn’t quell the boredom of a recently bereaved teenage girl under what felt like house arrest. So Dawn did what rebellious teenagers do best and snuck out of the house. She unfortunately doesn’t get far before Buffy notices something is up when she can actually use the home phone. Buffy eventually finds Dawn in Sunnydale’s favourite video rental store named “Rent a Tape”. Where she’s finds her tearing up at the sight of Thelma & Louise, a film their mother had loved dearly and had rented several times even during Dawn’s short time with the family.
After a quick sisterly embrace, Buffy asks: “Should we rent it out? One last time? For mom?”
To which Dawn nods agreeingly. The sisters walk home with the tape in Buffy’s hands. Weary of the looming threat of Glory’s minions at any moment. They arrive home, rewind the tape and prepare for one last viewing of Thelma & Louise. The one thing in the world Joyce Summers loved watching more than the soap opera Passions. As the film plays, Dawn’s struggles to stay focussed. Her mind drifting between memories of her mother and pondering the idea of a means of resurrection knowing what she does of the mystical forces at play within Sunnydale. But she puts these thoughts aside and watches the film one last time as if her mother was in the room.
The next day arrives, and Dawn has a clear idea of what her plans are going to be. She is going to find a way to resurrect her mother. But does she ask Willow and Tara for help? Or does she go digging through Giles’ store? Willow and Tara would likely never help. Not wanting to interfere with the natural order of things and the consequences that would bring. While Giles would try to talk her out of it or tell Buffy if he caught her snooping around his store full of mysterious, magical things. So that left Dawn with one option, the endless world of the web. She starts by searching “RESSURECTION MAGIC” on Boogle. But is only met with discussions around various fantasy novels.
After hours of searching, she finally stumbles upon a promising lead. A thread created by user named M@GIK M@N on a message board dedicated to the teaching of magic, curses and a lot of weird things. The thread describes the summoning of a powerful being known by the name of Srnik. With the powers to give anyone what they desire most.
The thread details the seemingly simple summoning process:
“At night, when the moon has risen”
“Step forth, into its light”
“Sing your favourite song”
“Ring your loudest bell”
“And Srnik shall appear”
So Dawn waits until night arrives to attempt the ritual. But in between this and all her research. Giles has arrived at the Summers’ house to take over from Buffy in looking after Dawn for the evening. Giles knocks on Dawn’s door to check in on her.
“Dawn, it’s me Giles.”
“Buffy’s left some money for us. So we can order in some Chinese food or Pizza if you’d like”
“Chinese sounds great Giles.”
“Alright, well if you need me. You’ll know where I am.”
Giles returns to the living room. As does Dawn to the computer. Eventually, after what felt like an eternity to her. The moon had finally risen, and with it came the night sky. She opens the window in her bedroom, steps onto the balcony and does what the website asked.
Giles tries to order Chinese food but is met with the weird, high pitched noise that meant Dawn’s computer was using the web. Dawn repeats the process, but nothing seems to happen. Frustrated, she decides to call it a day. Soon both her and Giles fall asleep.
They awake to different dreams. For Giles he is back at Sunnydale High with his beloved Jenny. For Dawn, she is helping Joyce prepare dinner for the eventual arrival of the Scooby Gang. For a moment, both of them are the happiest they’ve ever been. But the mood is cut short when Giles reaches in for a passionate kiss and Dawn a hug only her mother could give. Suddenly they are transported to a mysterious place neither could recognise. Where they were greeted by an unknown figure.
“Hello, I’m deeply sorry to interrupt your dream.”
“I believe you’ve used my services in hope of bringing back a loved one.”
“But I regret to inform you that I cannot, and will not do that”
“I can only provide you with glimpses in whatever your heart desires”
“And even then, only for a brief window of time”
“I must also recommend that you do not pursue acts of necromancy, resurrection or any form of magic that interferes with the natural order of your world. The consequences would be too severe for your mortal bodies and minds.”
Before Dawn or Giles even have a chance to speak. The mysterious figure vanishes from sight, and they both awake from their pleasant experiences. With Giles thinking it was nothing but a weird dream, and Dawn unsure if it was due to the ritual or purely a coincidence. Nonetheless, Dawn is able to find some sense of closure from seeing Joyce as she remembered her for one last time. Instead of the lifeless, pale body she saw in the morgue. Suddenly, loud noises are heard coming from the house’s backdoor. Giles reaches for the phone, but is met by the weird, high pitched noises that meant Dawn’s computer was connected to the web.
To Be Continued …
Initially this fan fiction was centred around the character of Rupert Giles, and him pursuing a way to bring back Jenny Calendar from the dead. However, for anyone who has seen Buffy. They’d know Giles with all his experience as a watcher would likely never pursue anything as drastic as this. However, one could argue against this reasoning by citing the character of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in Angel. Another former watcher, but one who undergoes a drastic change in personality following the death of a love interest.
So I set out to make a fan fiction centred around the themes of loss and grief. Naturally turning to the episodes of “The Body” and “Forever” for inspiration. Deciding on an episode, arc or chapter which focussed on Dawn’s grieving process for her mother. A character that is often derided amongst fans. Knowing Dawn’s relative uselessness in combatting the threats of Sunnydale, I had to avoid relying on the monster of the week approach earlier seasons had done.
The story starts off in the seemingly normal world of Sunnydale. The inclusion of the internet as a recurring plot device was my way of implementing the narrative beat referred to as “tapping the digital oracle” in Jones (2019). However, I also felt that it was a thematically appropriate plot device given the distance between the Summers sisters in the arc of Buffy, Dawn not having the mentor relationship that Giles and Buffy had, and the somewhat mysterious status the internet had in the late 90s and early 2000s. Joyce Summers’ death on the other hand acts as “the shift” (Jones, 2019) which sets the story in motion. The inclusion of Thelma & Louise alongside the soap opera Passions were small nods to little details about the character (Joyce) that were revealed over the course of the show. Which helped make the fanfiction feel more plausible in the world of Buffy.
Ending the chapter with Dawn having a little bit of closure, instead of pursuing resurrection to the lengths she does in the show’s canon was how I tried to implement the beat of embracing the reversal.
Jones, N. (2019). The Collective Journey [Word Document]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4933865-dt-content-rid-10660461_4/xid-10660461_4