April 9th, 2008

space2

Chapter 5

 

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

 

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

 

POV: Shifts Perspective

 

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

 

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Battling with a God

Ch 5- Guilt & Despair

 

Buffy was riding shot gun in Xander’s Taurus when her cell phone rang. In the back seat, Anya was singing a nonsense song about flowers and bunnies and who knew what all. Xander sat next to her navigating the car; tight lipped and angry. Between them in a bag on the seat were at least five different pill prescriptions to help Anya stay calm. It was so much like taking care of Joyce that Buffy felt short of breath.

 

“Yeah… oh… oh, no… no…,” she said as she listened to the voice on the other end.

 

Xander recognized they were about to receive more bad news. He pulled the car to the shoulder and placed it in park, allowing the motor to idle. Reaching out one hand, he took Buffy’s other as she continued acknowledging the person on the other end. A few moments later and she had closed the cell phone and her eyes against the bad news.

 

“Glory, again?” Xander asked, but he wasn’t really sure he wanted to know.

 

“We need to turn around… or wait: we’ll take Anya home first. Spike and Dawn can make her comfortable. Then we need to go back to the hospital. Willow and Tara have been hurt. Giles says that Will is in a light coma.”

 

“Jesus. Were they… will we need to take care of them too, like Ahn?”

 

Buffy shook her head in the negative. “Tara told Giles that Willow was able to drive her off with some pretty powerful mojo. That’s what’s causing Will’s coma. It looks like Tara’s hand has several broken bones and her elbow was wrenched, but she’s okay.”

 

“Okay, then,” Xander sighed and sounded exhausted. “We’ll deal with Anya first, then go back. I don’t suppose Glory will be convinced to go away?”

 

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Buffy sighed. A single tear slid down her face. “We can’t beat her. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we can’t fight her.”

 

As they passed through the center of town, both of their eyes were drawn to the boarded up door and window of the Magic Box. Neither chose to comment, but they both felt the dark shadow of hopelessness trying to choke them.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In the woods near the U.C. Sunnydale campus, Ben stood barely dressed in green tatters. The pain he was in was considerable. He felt like his body was covered in open burns, yet when he had looked himself over in a panic, he found no signs of injury. He wanted to ask what had happened, but that wasn’t how things worked with his ‘sister’ and there were none of her imps close to hand to interrogate.

 

As he began to make his way through the thick woods, he wondered how long he’d been gone this time. Glory was taking over more and more often and staying longer. He could almost feel her impatience to return home permeating him, and that had never happened before. He had never felt nor had an inkling of anything that happened while she was in control. He was suddenly, for the first time, afraid that someone might actually kill her. Something had happened to her and he was feeling the pain; what would happen to him if she was actually killed?

 

“Something’s changed,” he whispered to himself. Her timetable is coming up. I can feel it. If she’s getting home she has to do it soon. What will happen to me? What will it mean if she fails? Will she go away then; can I finally be free? Or will she destroy everyone around her in a rage? How many can she hurt and kill and destroy in her fury? But if she does it, if she finds the Key and goes home, will that mean I’ll die? There has to be a way to get her home that doesn’t involve hurting anyone, including Dawn and myself. Oh, God… can I make a deal with her? Should I turn Dawn over to the dwarves, after all? Is there any way to save myself?

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

When Buffy and Xander had reached the apartment, they’d found Spike online at some arcane site or another. Dawn was busy making sandwiches.

 

“Hey, guys,” she said reservedly. Her puffy lids were testament that she’d done some crying recently. “Hi, Anya.”

 

Dawn came up and gently hugged the woman as Anya stared off into space. She remained silent and didn’t react to her in any way.

 

Next came a hug from Buffy, but Dawn’s attention remained fixed on Anya. “I’m sorry, Anya… I’m so sorry,” she said. But she showed no signs of hearing her.

 

“What’s up, Spike,” Xander asked. “I see you’re walking around, so that’s a good.”

 

“Xan, Buffy…,” Spike acknowledged without turning around. The website appeared to be in some form of foreign language involving lots of squiggles.

 

“We’re looking for a way to help Anya,” Dawn told them quietly. “There has to be a spell or something.  Spike is looking at some Sanskrit website. I really want Will and Tara to bring over the books so I can help. I really need to help,” Dawn said imploringly.

 

Buffy sighed. “Dawn, we need you and Spike to watch over Anya, okay? We have to go back to the hospital.”

 

“No,” Dawn shook her head, looking stricken. “No, what did she do now? Who have I hurt now?”

 

Instantly Spike was behind her, laying a cool and powerful hand protectively on her shoulder.

 

“This isn’t your fault, Dawn,” Xander said. “You hear me? This isn’t caused by you. And the girls will be okay.”

 

“The girls? Willow and Tara? Were they both hurt,” she said with welling eyes.

 

“They’re okay, Dawnie,” Buffy tried to assure her. The look on her face said that clearly nothing was okay right now, however.

 

“How bad is it,” Spike asked. “Dawn will find out anyway and it’s best to get things on the table.”

 

“Willow’s in a coma… it’s a light one, she may even be awake by the time we get there,” Xander said, ignoring the gasp of pain from Dawn. “Tara’s hand was broken, but no one’s mind was… raped..., whatever you call it.”

 

“Willow…Tara….” Dawn said. She tried to come up with something to say, something other than she was sorry because that wasn’t helping anyone. She came up with nothing. They were all putting their lives and more on the line for her and all she was doing was crying and whining.

 

Dawn wiped at her eyes and straightened her shoulders. “Okay. Buffy, we need their spell books to research. At the same time, we should find someplace more secure to hide. Maybe we can leave Sunnydale? There’s got to be a place where she can’t find me just until it’s too late for her to open this door she’s interested in.”

 

“Dawn, we don’t even know if there is a time limit,” Buffy pointed out.

 

“There is, Buffy. I know it. I can feel it. A deadline is coming up. Don’t ask me how I know, but I do.”

 

“I’ll talk to Giles. He wanted to keep you here because the Hellmouth is keeping Glory from noticing that you’re the Key,” Buffy told her gently. “But it looks like this isn’t going to stay a safe place, anyway. Especially if you really are right; she’s going to be desperate to get her hands on you. That’s going to make her even more dangerous.”

 

“We’ll also have to deal with the Knights, once we leave the town’s limits,” Xander reminded them. “They’ll be able to use their spells to detect her.”

 

“Maybe not,” Spike said. “Maybe I can locate a shielding spell of some sort. We could really use the witches and, much as I hate admitting it, the Watcher on this though.”

 

“Speaking of which,” Xander said, “Buffy, we gotta get to the hospital.”

 

“Dawn, it’s important you stay with Spike. No running off, you got it,” Buffy said.

 

“Y-yeah…, yeah, I won’t go anywhere. Do you think Anya’s hungry? I’m making a late lunch.”

 

“Why don’t you try to see if she’ll eat anything,” Xander squeezed her shoulder. Then he and Buffy turned around and left again. Anya had wandered to the couch and sat staring at her reflection in the blank television screen. Though her eyes remained fixed and inanimate, a single teardrop fell down her cheek.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

By the time that they’d reached the hospital again, Willow had opened her eyes. She’d had a little magical help from Tara, once the doctor’s were out of the room. She was groggy and said that she’d felt like a cement truck had run over her, but she was reactive and lucid.

 

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they surrounded her bedside, except Giles. He was quiet and everyone could feel the tension rolling off of him. Once he knew that Willow was going to be alright, he excused himself and nearly barreled out of the door.

 

“I think, maybe he’s mad at me,” Willow said.

 

“No, Sweetie, he’s just worried. The spells you used… they could have killed you,” Tara squeezed her hand with her good one. The other was surrounded in a cast while the elbow had been wrapped tightly with a gauze bandage.

 

“At least you hurt her, Will,” Buffy said. “It’s more than I’ve managed to do so far.” She blew out a lungful of air in frustration. “Maybe it’s time I turned in my Slayer stakes and learned to knit or something.”

 

“How’s Anya,” Tara asked Xander, trying to preempt the feelings of despair that were becoming apparent in the little room.

 

“I’m not sure. She’s home… that’s the important thing. Spike and Dawn are looking for some way to help her. Uh, they’re hoping you might be able to come over for a research session later.”

 

“Yeah, of course. I think I may be able to help,” Tara replied. “If I map out, maybe I can find a way to reverse what Glory stole.”

 

“No fair,” Willow said weakly from her bed. “Don’t do the cool magic without me. I’m ready to get signed out.”

 

“You don’t look ready to me, Honey. Besides, they want to keep you overnight to make sure you don’t relapse into a coma. You really had me scared, you know.”

 

“Listen to your girl, Will,” Xander said. “You should just rest overnight and leave the heavy lifting to us for awhile, okay?”

 

“I just feel so badly. I’m sorry, Buffy… you needed me to stop her for good and I wasn’t strong enough,” Willow said, near tears.

 

“Are you kidding? Willow, you hurt her. No one’s been able to do that, yet. You made her back off. Don’t be feeling sorry. She’s a god.”

 

“Which is what I keep trying to remind you,” Xander pointed out. “No one should be feeling bad for not stopping her, here. We just need to dig a little deeper. There’s a way to stop her… there’s always a way. We’ll find it.”

 

“I’m worried about Giles,” Tara said suddenly. “He really seemed very upset when we were waiting to see if Will was going to be okay. You don’t think he’d do something dangerous, do you?”

 

“Giles? Nah, he’s a Watcher through and through. He’ll go home, have tea and then put us to work with more books,” Xander tried to lighten the mood just a little bit.

 

“Well, I just hope he gives us a book that actually has something useful,” Buffy lamented.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In Giles’ apartment, all of the lights were turned out. Across from him in his bedroom sat the hidden chest, holding the ‘Book of Midnight’. His concentration did not waver from the chest, even as he sipped at the scotch in his hand.

 

He had been praying for some answer, some insight into Glory… some miracle. It wasn’t something that he did often. Though he knew there were forces out there just as concerned with good as with evil, they always seemed to be so remote. Evil tended to come up and shake one’s hand, just before tearing it off. The forces of Good tended to expect you to blunder on with faith that they’d step in behind the scenes if necessary.

 

And people paid the price for their acting so indirectly. Anya… Tara… Willow… Jenny… how many more? And when would it be Buffy’s turn? He took two large swallows of the scotch before refilling his glass again in the kitchen. He returned to the bed and sat staring at the chest again, until Buffy’s knock at his front door interrupted his brooding… and considering.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 5

 

space2

Chapter 6

 

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

 

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

 

POV: Shifts Perspective

 

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

 

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Battling with a God

Ch 6 – Seeking

 

Buffy strode into Giles’ apartment as he opened the door. Her face was a mask of concern as she spotted his tumbler of amber liquid.

 

“How are Willow and Tara,” he said dully. He knew they were okay, he’d been there.

 

“The same. We were lucky that Will has so much power.”

 

“She was damned lucky. I should have watched her more closely; if I had known she was sneaking the dark arts books….”

 

“I know, but at least she had an advantage that saved her and Tara. The last thing we need is another Anya. Giles, we can’t go on like this.”

 

“You think I’m not aware of that!” He turned his face from hers, embarrassed at the outburst.

 

“Well, this isn’t going to help either,” she said calmly. She took the glass from him and walked to the kitchen sink to dump its contents. “Call London, Giles. Tell them that we can’t find a way to fight Glory. Tell Travers that I’m going to get beaten and we think that Glory may be close to figuring out where the Key is. Tell him that I haven’t been able to locate it myself. Give him the idea that she’s going to succeed and the Slayer can’t go fist to fist with her. Maybe that will panic him enough for the Council to start a little thinking outside of the box.

 

And stop drinking. You’re cut off until we win against Glory,” she said with an air of authority.

 

“Y-yes, alright… I’ll call the Council,” he stammered. She was growing into such a strong woman, such a strong Slayer. He remembered when he had to take a firm hand with her to get her to concentrate on her duty. Now, the tables had been reversed. He felt a little ashamed that he’d allowed himself to falter. “Of course, I’ll call you later and we will decide what to do next. In the meantime, i-if we need to run, you should start packing clothing for yourself and Dawn.”

 

“And the gang…. I’m not leaving them here, Giles. We don’t know what Glory will do when she finds out they knew who the Key was and lied to her. If leaving Sunnydale is the only way to keep Dawnie safe, then we all go. But I’m really hoping the Council gives us another option,” she said on her way out of the door.

 

Giles picked up the phone to call London, but his mind was very much on the only hope they may have. Was he strong enough to tap the power waiting in his closet, or would it only destroy him and all he held dear?

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Back at Xander’s apartment, Spike was reading through a Latin spell book that Tara had dropped on the table. She had yanked every book in her room, with the exception of the Doom manuscript, and piled them into her car before rushing over to Xander’s.

 

Xan, himself, was currently in the kitchen heating up soup and buttering slices of bread. He still intended on getting Chinese food later, but this would hold them for awhile.

 

Dawn remained in the bathroom. She’d been in there for fifteen or twenty minutes according to Spike. Anya had come out of her stupor, briefly, in front of the television. Just long enough to slap Dawn and tell her some nonsense about her being a counterfeit gem.

 

Tara walked over to Anya and gave her a kiss on the forehead. She sat placidly with half closed lids and watched disinterestedly as a nature program on gardening played sedately on the screen.

 

“I had to give her a pill,” Spike told her as she returned to the table. “She was becoming a bit too manic.” He yelled across the room, “Dawn! C’mon, we’ve got work to do… no slacking in there!”

 

“I’m sure she’s upset,” Tara admonished mildly.

 

“And she’ll stay that way, unless she feels like we expect her to pull her own weight. Feeling useful will do her a world more better than crying in the restroom.”

 

Tara’s response was interrupted by Dawn opening the door and coming out. She’d run a cold rag over her face and though she was obviously still upset, her eyes held determination. When she sat at the table, her voice was strong and assured.

 

“Which one do I start with?”

 

“Here, Dawn… this one is in English… mostly. This was my great-grandmother’s book. She used to do a lot of potions and stuff for people back in the day. Mostly to treat ‘nerves’ or attacks by ‘phantasms’, but there may be something we can modify.”

 

Xander served soup, bread and glasses of milk, except for Spike. He had another mug of warm blood, which they barely noticed anymore, even when he grabbed half of Xander’s buttered bread to dip.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Several hours had passed. In the meantime, Anya had thankfully fallen into a deep, medicated sleep on the sofa. She snored loudly causing some smiles and mild laughter.

 

Buffy had arrived in the meantime and when dinner time came around, she had gone out and gotten the food. Now she was going through a thick book with a green cover. Her mind was only half on what they were researching… she kept thinking about her mom and worrying about Giles not being where she could see him.

 

Her phone rang and she was relieved to see Giles’ number. She was really hoping that he had something for her. Tara was on a promising lead regarding Anya’s recovery, but as for fighting Glory… it all ended up in the same place. With Buffy eventually getting her ass kicked and Dawn ending up being ‘utilized’; none of their magic was going to be enough to stop her. It was just luck that she hadn’t already busted down Xander’s door and killed them all.

 

“Buffy, I need you to meet me outside of Xander’s. I’m on my way and will be there inside of ten minutes,” he said excitedly.

 

“You have something?”

 

“The Council gave me a ritual. One that they apparently don’t share often with Watchers in the field, however, they became far more cooperative when they realized that we weren’t getting anywhere.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“You and I have to go to a sacred spot in the desert. We’re going to seek advice from a Guardian… an entity that exists outside of time. Hopefully it will be able to tell you how to go about stopping Glory,” he said breathlessly.

 

“Giles… I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t want to leave Dawn.”

 

“Buffy…,” Giles started, but was cut off by Dawn’s voice echoing through his earpiece.

 

“Go, Buffy,” he heard. “If this will help you, you have to go.”

 

“Listen, Dawn… hold on, Giles,” the rest of the conversation for him was cut off as Buffy hit the mute button.

 

In Xander’s dining room, Buffy looked at her sister. “Dawn, I’m afraid to leave you here unprotected.”

 

“Uh-hum, what am I… chipped beef,” Spike asked.

 

“Giles is talking about some ritual, I don’t even know how long this is going to take,” Buffy complained. “And not to be too insulting when you’re down, but you don’t look exactly ready to fight yet, Spike.”

 

“That’s why we’re here,” Tara said. “We can watch out for Dawn. If Giles has a lead, it would be dangerous not to follow up on it, whatever it is.”

 

Buffy sighed and looked again at Dawn, who simply nodded at her. Hitting the mute button and putting her phone back to her ear she told Giles that she’d meet him in front of the building.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

When Buffy got into Giles’ sporty car, he stepped on the gas and made a U-Turn that nearly had her flying out of the car.

 

“Geez, who are you and where did you put my fuddy-duddy-driver-Giles?”

 

“Please, Buffy, do be serious. We need to be in the right frame of mind if this is going to work.”

 

“Okay, so… what is the hoopla?”

 

“We’re going to a place on the border of Sunnydale. While I’m casting a sacred circle and doing some, uh, well… it’s actually ridiculous if I say it aloud. Let’s just say I have to do a little dance and, um, shake a gourd. Stop smirking!”

 

“Smirk? Me?”

 

“I can feel it. Anyway, while I’m making a royal ass out of myself, you’ll be wandering into the desert until you see your spiritual guide. They’ll lead you the rest of the way.”

 

“Would this guide happen to look like a buzzard? ‘Cause I’m not down with following along, if so. And I don’t suppose you thought to bring water while I’m out wandering?”

 

“I’m afraid the Slayer must go without provisions, to show a sense of humble trust in the Powers. I, however, am allowed to have juice.”

 

“Watchers always get the better bargain.”

 

“Yes, well…, anyway, I’m afraid I can’t tell you what the guide will look like. It will lead you to a place which you are never to mention again, not even to me. There, another being… the one which I spoke of outside of time, will meet you. Hopefully, it will know something about how to stop Glory from opening her doorway.” Something that doesn’t involve us having to end Dawn’s… existence, he thought but didn’t share.

 

“Another thing, Buffy, you must be careful to remember everything that is said. Sometimes these esoteric beings can be a little… unclear. I’ll try to help you sort through things if you can relate what was said without mentioning the sacred place itself. And do try to appear humble and deferential; they can also be rather prickly during these things.”

 

“Hey, I’m humble-o-gal if they can help me protect my sister.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 6

space2

Chapter 7

 

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

 

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

 

POV: Shifts Perspective

 

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

 

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Battling with a God

Ch 7 – Darkness Falls

 

The sun was midway to the western horizon and beating down as Giles pulled off of the road. Buffy exited the vehicle as he began to rummage around in the trunk.

 

The glare was a killer and waves of blurry heat danced above the tarmac. There was the slightest hint of a breeze, but it only seemed to make the air hotter. Which was weird… it wasn’t even spring yet and Sunnydale had been rather cool. She took off her coat and followed Giles off into the desert.

 

“I hope my car will be okay out here.”

 

“Want I should ask my Guardian to check on it while I’m at it,” she asked facetiously. “What the hell is up with the heat out here?”

 

Giles raised an eyebrow at her; his coat remaining firmly buttoned against what he perceived as cold ambient temperatures. “Interesting,” was all he had to say.

 

“How far do we have to walk, do you think?”

 

“Oh, I should imagine over a dune or two should be far enough for me. Goodness, but these things are becoming rather heavy,” he commented.

 

“Interesting,” was all she had to say as she pointedly did not offer to share the burden.

 

“Well, honestly, you do have Slayer strength, Buffy. A little help would be appreciated.”

 

“Y-yeah… but I don’t think I’m supposed to, Giles.” In answer to his disbelieving glance, she insisted. “No, really. I-I feel something… we have our roles to play in this.”

 

Buffy’s dreamy tone was so striking that Giles sharply looked at her. He recognized the glazed look of someone beginning to slip into a light trance and felt a shiver run up his spine.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

“Look at this,” Tara said, breaking the silence around the research-slash-dining table.

 

When the others looked, all they saw was a series of lines. It looked like some sort of graph, but its X and Y axis were skewed and unlabeled.

 

“Uh, that’s very nice Tara,” Xander said. “We’ll put it on the fridge for all the other kids to see.”

 

She giggled at him, her reply being pre-empted by Spike.

 

“It’s a spirit-graph, you nitwit. Glory and our demon girl?”

 

“Yes, exactly. I’ve been using a bit of astrology to map out Anya’s mind-body connection… her living spirit, if you will.”

 

Xander looked at both of them blankly.

 

“Her ‘katra’,” Dawn suggested, immediately receiving a look of understanding from Xander.

 

“Oh, no ‘Bit! Don’t tell me he’s corrupted you with that Sci-Fi garbage,” Spike grinned at her.

 

“What? Spock is cool.”

 

“So, Tara,” Xander said, bringing the discussion back on topic. “You’re saying you’ve been able to ‘map out’ Anya’s… what? Her sanity?”

 

“That’s exactly it. I’ve followed Anya’s living spirit, her mind’s energy. And then I crossed that with a reading of Glory’s. Using the solar cycles for each day starting with the morning of the day of Anya’s attack right through the rest of the month and into April, I’ve been able to trace out their paths around each other. See this? You can see that they start at separate points that day. By the next morning, they’re in tandem.”

 

“That’s ‘cause Anya’s sanity was… I don’t know… absorbed,” asked Dawn.

 

Tara acknowledged this was so. “But here’s the interesting thing: they stay in tandem all the way until here… this would refer to around sunrise on April 2nd,” she said.

 

“The lines are crossing over each other,” Spike pointed out and translated. “You think we’ve got a chance of getting Anya back on that day?”

 

“I’d say that’s our best shot,” Tara nodded.

 

“That’s only days away,” Xander said nervously.

 

“Wait,” Dawn pointed out, “Why does Anya’s line end soon after that, but Glory’s just gets kinda… wiggly.”

 

“Oh… uh….” Tara started, before looking away from the eyes staring at her.

 

“That’s when Anya’s sanity is gone forever,” Xander guessed. “If we don’t rescue her by then, she’ll always be… she won’t come back to us.”

 

“I’m sorry, Xander,” Tara said sympathetically.

 

“You did good, White Wicca,” Spike insisted. “You’ve given us a timetable. Do you think this mapping thing can come up with a way to do the restoration?”

 

“Not exactly,” she said excitedly, “But I’m sure that this spell I found will do the trick. It’ll be hard, though and I need to get close enough to them to touch them at the same time. But we can do it… I’m sure we can. We can get her back. And maybe it’ll, I don’t know, make Glory confused the way Anya is right now. I just wish I knew who else she’s hurt like this. Maybe I could help them all at the same time.”

 

“Not even somebody as sweet as you can save everyone, luv. But if you can cause her to lose her marbles, that could really help Buffy and I when we take the Big Lady on,” Spike nodded.

 

“So, how do we get close enough to her to do the mojo? Without her killing you before you have a chance to breathe,” Xander directed at Tara.

 

No one really had an answer to that at first. But then Tara suddenly remembered.

 

“Willow may be able to come up with something,” Tara sounded hopeful. “She was able to hold Glory still when she tried to attack me. That may be enough.”

 

The gang around the table smiled. On the sofa, Anya started crying.

 

“It’s almost time! I need to be with the goddess,” she whimpered to herself as she rocked on the sofa.

 

“Do you think we can throw in a ‘cause pain’ spell when we do it,” Dawn asked darkly.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

“Are you sure,” Gregor Kossimo asked Orlando and Antonio aboard the yacht the Knights were using.

 

“Yes,” Orlando said. “Dante is… confused… but he is making a strange sort of sense. It explains perfectly why all of our enchantments on every tomb and magic item in the Slayer’s shop aren’t revealing the Key’s location. It’s a person!”

 

“That will make it ever harder to locate,” Sandor said. “It will no doubt be echoing a soul to confuse our locator spells.”

 

“No, I don’t think so,” Antonio replied. “I don’t know why we didn’t think of this before.”

 

“What is it, Antonio? Speak,” the Knight’s General commanded.

 

“In the hospital, Brother Papillion was attracted to the nurse’s hair. She had long, straight brown locks. We’d thought he was just being… well….  Anyway, I believe she reminded him of the Key’s new form.”

 

“And who around the Slayer has such bangs,” Sandor asked the assembled warriors.

 

“Sandor, get with your counterpart. We’ll need magical support. It’s time we took this war to the Slayer. I want her sister dead,” General Kossimo said coldly.

 

He was simmering with anger that the monk’s spells must have been playing with their minds this entire time. It was the only reason they would have not thought of something as obvious as the Slayer’s family right off. The General pulled out the maps of Sunnydale and the surrounding area. The United States Authorities were still stopping them from trespassing on their territory. A full frontal assault would be stopped before they could reach their goal. Waiting for the Vatican to trudge through the tangle of red tape, with the Watchers Council’s interference, could take far too long. Glory could bring about an Armageddon while the bureaucrats continued squabbling amongst themselves.

 

He pulled Orlando to his side and began to talk strategy for the coming campaign.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In the desert, Buffy wandered away from Giles’ side. She could hear the faintest sound of whisperings on the wind, calling her name.

 

Giles had laid out a rough circular pattern with small twigs. Within this he had built a small fire, burning cedar chips and throwing saffron into the small flame. When he could smell the herb burning, he had begun a hop-scotch sort of dance around the circle. It could have been a Native American tribal dance, albeit, far less graceful. As he counted out his footsteps to get the dance exactly correct, he waved the gourd. First outside of the circle, he then placed it over the circumference of twigs and shook it over the flames before returning it outside of the circle.

 

Once he’d made a complete circuit around the circle, he’d placed a foot within it and shook it. Buffy hadn’t been able to stop snickering.

 

“And they were called upon to perform the Mighty Hokey-Pokey Dance,” she taunted.

 

“Go,” Giles sighed as he began another circuit around the fire, “Quest away.”

 

So Buffy had and now she found herself so far out in the desert, she couldn’t even see the firelight wherever Giles was. In fact, there was nothing about except the slight breeze, the ridiculous heat (Giles was crazy, it was flippin’ hot) and the stars. Darkness had fallen across the desert floor, but the moon had yet to rise. She felt her legs grow heavy, along with her eyelids and she stopped her wanderings.

 

Lying back in the comfortable sand, she gazed up through heavy lids at the beauty that was the desert sky. She felt at peace, as if all of her anxieties and fears had been left behind in the desert trek.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In Glorificus’ penthouse, there was a flurry of activities as her demon assistants rushed here and there. On the floor, surrounding a circle of sand sat Ginx and Grono. They had thrown a series of bones and small clay squares with unearthly alphabets upon them. They told the story; the time was very near now. Within the next week, they would be home and their God and Savior would shine with the horrible brightness of exploding suns.

 

In the meantime, there was so much to do. Glory had purchased dresses and jewels and paintings and shoes over the centuries of her confinement on this mortal plane. Now, all had to be sent here from their holding sites across the globe so that they could be ready to send through the portal before her.

 

Her Mighty Majestic One wasn’t here at the moment, but the imps knew their duties and carried on as if her eyes were on them. They figured that Ben had probably re-emerged sometime either before or after she’d gone for the witch that was the next on her list. It didn’t matter. When the time was right, Ben would be consumed and leave behind only Her Radiance. In the meantime, let the silly boy do what he would. The God would make sure he didn’t run too far. In the meantime, Guar was at the hospital in case he showed up there while Guev and Granier looked about town. Not only for Ben though, but for the site of the tower that would need to be built. Already, all of Glory’s converts were being prepared to gather in a central place and begin working on her edifice and bridge to the portal.

 

The penthouse nearly buzzed with pleasant excitement.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 7