April 10th, 2008

space2

Chapter 8 (part 1 - it was too long to post in one go)

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 8 – Vision

 

Buffy was being disturbed by something licking at her face. She reached out and pushed the offending (puppy, kitten) thing away and tried to roll over, but the (pet?) animal wouldn’t leave her be. Opening her eyes with a groan, she issued a shriek when she found herself confronted by the large-toothed mouth of a sleek black panther. It growled softly at her and sat back on its haunches.

 

“Whoa, kitty-kitty,” she said as she went to stand. “Where the heck am I?”

 

A moment later and her sleep fogged brain got with the program. Oh, right… vision quest, Glory, answers… so this must be my guide to my uh… other guide.

 

“So, uh… you’re going to take me to see a Guardian, is that right?”

 

The panther only panted at her for a moment. When it deigned to move again, it turned its back to her. With a flick of its tail, it began to walk further away from the direction she thought Giles was waiting.

 

Unless, of course, he got bored… or hungry… or worried about his stupid penis-mobile. With a shrug she started following after the big cat, so clearly out of its natural element.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Giles blew on his cold hands and wondered if he’d upset anything if he were to add a little more wood to the inadequate fire burning. Of course, the only wood lying around was what he’d used to outline his sacred circle, so that might not be a good idea.

 

He hunched down with a sigh and tried not to think of how freezing he was or how tired he was getting. He’d already walked back twice just to make sure his car hadn’t been disturbed. It hadn’t. He’d felt silly even as he walked back; it was highly unlikely that there would be any hooligans this far out in the middle of nowhere.

 

Buffy had already been gone for a little over two hours now, according to his watch. The moon was high in the sky, though it didn’t shed much light. Above him, stars twinkled in the millions and he thought it might be breathtakingly beautiful if it was later in the season and warm. He rubbed his hands together and whispered out into the dark, “Take care of her. And, uh, if you could rush things along just a little… before I freeze to death.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Out on the terrace, Xander took a deep breath of the night air. He could hear the distant sounds of traffic from Main Street. Behind him in the apartment, Anya was giggling to the antics of ‘The Simpsons’ on some cable station. If she was in her right mind, she’d be asking a million questions about whether they were immortal or just under a spell that kept the children from maturing. He smiled briefly, before swallowing back a bitter tear. He still loved her; he didn’t want to see her stranded like this forever.

 

Tara will rescue her, Hyena thought at him.

 

Hey! Where you been? I thought I was alone in my skull there for a minute.

 

I’ve been here. I just haven’t had anything useful to say. Now that Spike is here and safe, anyway. I don’t know what to do about a God.

 

Yeah. Yeah, I hear you, he thought with worry. Don’t suppose you have access to a nuke, eh Commando?

 

The soldier-persona remained silent. He hadn’t been heard from in a while either, now that Xander thought about it.

 

Behind him the door opened and Spike joined him on the balcony. He lit up a cigarette. He’s probably been fiending all day, Xander realized.

 

“I’m going to need more of these, soon. Or I’m going to be rather unpleasant to be around,” Spike said, taking a drag.

 

“I’ll take care of it,” Xan told him. He blew out a sigh of air as he sank down onto one of the deck chairs. Spike took a quick scan out into the darkness of the city street and then joined him in the opposite seat.

 

“You look tired, Xan.”

 

“It ain’t just show. But I’ll be okay. How’s Dawnie?”

 

“She and the witch are talking to Willow. Sounds like she’s threatening to throw some spells around if they don’t let her out of there tomorrow.”

 

They sat comfortably for several moments. Spike drew on his cigarette and blew smoke out into the air. Xander rested his eyes and tried not to plan on tomorrow. Hyena had grown quiet again, but he could feel her moving around under his skin. He wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or worried that Commando guy seemed to be so incommunicado.

 

Well, there’s too much else to worry about right now.

 

“So,” Spike intruded on his quiet, “It’s not the best time, I guess….”

 

“What? You want to get back to the crypt?”

 

“Not what I was thinking about, but yeah, sooner the better. I gotta get back before I lose the place. There are always demonic squatters too lazy to put their own little pad together. Not to mention it took forever to gather more than a few pairs of jeans that fit just right.”

 

Xander snorted in amusement. “I can see that cemetery space would be at a premium.”

 

The vampire just nodded his head, only half listening. “So, uh….”

 

“It’s not like you to hesitate, Spike. If there’s something on your mind, just spit it out already.”

 

He instead took another deep, last drag off of his smoke. He ground the butt out against his boot and flicked it over the balcony wall.

 

“You kissed me,” he finally said.

 

Xander swallowed over the sudden lump in his throat. His heart was thundering in his chest and that made it worse because he just knew that Spike was picking up every tell tale sign his body could broadcast. When he thought he could speak without his voice cracking like he was going through puberty again, he nodded.

 

“I did. If this is the part where you want to yell at me for being a ‘knob polisher’ or whatever the really nasty Brit version is, and storm out, go ahead,” Xan said. “I’m pretty sure you can come up with something a little harsher than ‘poof’ and it looks like you can take care of yourself again, as long as you stay away from Hellgods.”

 

“That wasn’t what was on my mind. I’m just trying to figure out what it meant. Thought you were all boobies all the time; last I checked, I hadn’t grown any yet.”

 

Xander’s reply was aborted when the door opened again and Dawn came out onto the balcony carrying two cups of coffee. “I thought you guys could use these. Or at least the human one of you,” she smiled.

 

“Thanks, ‘Bit. How’s the red head?”

 

“Very snotty. I feel sorry for her nurses.”

 

“Just as long as she doesn’t really mojo them,” Xan smiled.

 

“I think Tara put the kibosh on that. Unless they try to make her stay past tomorrow night, then all bets are off. So…, I guess I’ll just, uh, go back inside and let you two… talk,” Dawn said with a sly smile and flounced back indoors. When she closed the apartment door between the terrace and inside, she pushed it extra firmly.

 

“Obviously, I’m not the only one who knows there’s something about, huh,” Spike said with a sideways glance.

 

“I might have had a very slight meltdown when I found out that Glory had you. Some things were said… embarrassing secrets came rushing out... little girls may have squealed.”

 

“Uh-huh. So, what exactly is going on between us? And why does it suddenly make sense that Buffy was so eager for me to talk to you?”

 

“Look, Spike, I shouldn’t have kissed you, okay? I’m sorry I crossed your personal space. You want to forget it, we can. You want to hurl insults, nothing’s stopping you.”

 

“You’re regrettin’ it then,” Spike said. His tone of voice clearly stated that he had expected as much.

 

“I don’t regret anything. I don’t know what you want me to say here. Give me a hint.”

 

“I want you to tell me what that kiss was for. I’m trying not to take it as more than it was meant to be, you wanker.”

 

“It’s not that complicated. I like you; really like you. I love the way you move, the color of your eyes, the way you can go from killer demon protecting us to stroking Dawn’s hair like she was brittle as a porcelain doll in two breaths. I like the way we can laugh together and how I know you have my back on patrol. I like that you’ve shocked the hell out of me and somehow despite everything that should be between a vampire and a mortal, somehow we’ve made things work, anyway. I like watching you become someone completely new and I want to be a part of it. I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you.”

 

Spike sat back and lit up another cigarette while Xander re-closed his eyes. He was so tired, he wasn’t even afraid that Spike knew anymore.

 

Finally Spike spoke again very quietly as if he wasn’t sure he wanted Xander to hear him. “I like you, too. It’s been… awhile… since I’ve trusted someone. I trust you. You don’t mince words when I’ve crossed a line, and the devil knows you shouldn’t have anything to do with me after… everything. I find you… interesting.”

 

“So… you’re not angry about the lips touching thing, then?”

 

“Not angry… might want you to do it again. Now that my mouth is in better shape to return it. I just don’t know why you’d think I’d be pissed or that I’d berate you… thought friendship was supposed to cover that sort of thing.”

 

Xander sighed, “I don’t know. I just realized after I did it that if you were a person, and hey…, not attracted to any other guys, this is totally about you. But if you were another guy, I wouldn’t have done that. Another guy would’ve been free to punch my lights out; the only reason I kissed you is ‘cause the worse you could do was yell a bit and storm out as soon as the leg was better. And I didn’t even have the courage to let you do that much; ran out of the room as fast as I could before you could wind up and let me have it.”

 

“I thought… maybe you were ashamed. I remember our talk after Drac….”

 

“…Not ashamed, Spike,” he cut that sentiment off midstream. “Never ashamed… but I’m not ready to…. Uh, there’s stuff I’m not ready for. Yet. I’m getting there, but, not yet.”

 

“I ain’t getting any older. We’ll take it at your pace. But Xan, the gang? Giles?”

 

Xander nodded. “That might be a little rough for awhile. The gang likes you; they appreciate you, but they’re worried. And I think Giles has raced past worried and right into angry.”

 

“They don’t trust me.”

 

“Not completely. Not the way I do. The important thing though, is Buffy is on board.”

 

“And if that ain’t a miracle….”

 

“So,” Xan gave him a tired grin, “Guess this would sort of make us ‘boyfriends’, then?”

 

“Don’t be a geek,” Spike smirked back.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Buffy came over the rise of yet another hill. By this time, she was sure she’d have met the ocean but instead there was only more sand and scrub. And a fire. A roaring bonfire that should have lit up the whole sky with light, but somehow didn’t.

 

“I know this place,” she whispered.

 

In front of the fire, backlit by it was a tall, black woman. She was regal and proud, despite being wrapped in the horrible fashion faux pas of gauzy bandages that the First Slayer had worn.

 

Buffy frowned briefly. “You’re not her; the one that attacked us in our dreams. Sineya’s daughter?”

 

“We’ve taken this form from your heart. This one dwells there.”

 

Buffy remembered the morning after she’d convinced the Slayer spirit to relinquish her friends. She’d felt sad for the woman; all alone… no family, no friends, not even her own name. She accepted the form this Guardian chose with a nod.

 

“You seek an answer. A battle which a Slayer was not meant to wage.”

 

“And yet. It’s not that I’m afraid to fight Glory, but so far I’ve been less than effective. She’s threatening the people I… she is threatening my friends.”

 

“And the sister who is more.” Dawn’s smiling face appeared in the flames behind the Guardian. “Why do you avoid saying ‘those I love’?”

 

“I-I’m not sure. I… I feel like maybe I should keep those things bottled up? Like maybe, it helps if I stay closed off a little. I think… sometimes I think, maybe I’ve closed up too much. Xander says I have. My boyfriend left because I was. Dawn needed me and Cordelia, of all people, was the one that had to be there for her. Ever since my mom got sick or maybe before…, I don’t know.”

 

Dracula stood in the flames, now, replacing Dawn. Buffy could hear his voice telling her about the darkness he felt in her.

 

“You fear what you are. You fear letting it get close to others.”

 

Buffy nodded.

 

“Yeah, maybe. There’s a lot of violence in here,” she said pointing to her breastbone. In the fire behind the guardian, she saw herself deliberately slay the sad creature that Sandy had become. Not because she was a vampire, but because she’d touched Riley. It was jealousy and anger that had motivated that Slaying, not duty. She next saw herself pour gasoline on the defenseless paralyzed vampire and felt dirty and ashamed.

 

“Violence is a part of your heritage.”

 

“But I don’t want it to be all that there is, you know? Maybe that’s why I can’t beat Glory… maybe I’m not willing to unleash it? Maybe I’m afraid it’s going to swallow me.”

 

“You worried needlessly. Violence is only part of your heritage. The other, greater part is Love.”

 

In the bonfire, images flashed by faster than she could keep up with and yet she knew each even with so fleeting a glimpse. Willow sipping water from the fountain, Xander stroking her forehead, Angel holding her in the cemetery, her holding Giles…. Buffy felt tears welling up. It was like the love was a physical thing and it was always cushioning her; she just hadn’t noticed in too long.

 

“Love? Love is part of being a Slayer?”

 

“If it was not for Love, you could not do what you do every night. You could not win against the darkness, for they know no Love; only destruction. Your foe will be beaten by this Love.”

 

“Really?” For some reason, Buffy felt relieved. Stopping someone with love was way better than always having to use force. Of course, that isn’t answering the big question….

 

“Uh… how exactly will love stop her?”

 

“Love will bring you to your gift.”

 

“A gift? I’m not sure I understand, does someone I love have a gift to give me, or will I give a gift that someone else can use?”

 

“Death will be your gift.”

 

“Death,” Buffy’s heart plummeted. She felt chills break out on her skin, gooseflesh rippling down her arms and legs. Mostly though, she felt disappointed. More violence, more killing….

 

“Death is your gift,” the enigmatic woman stated firmly.

 

“Okay, I don’t know where you usually live or whatever,” she said angrily, “But death is no gift. I’ve lost… I’ve had so many friends die and my mom, too. I may need to do what I do to protect people, but killing is never a gift.”

 

“Love, death, your gift,” the woman’s voice echoed as she faded away. Buffy found herself staring into empty night; the bonfire had departed along with the Guardian. From behind her came the loud mewl of the panther. As she turned she saw it looking over its shoulder at her and begin to pad away. She followed unhappily, not having found the answer she was hoping for.

 

After an even longer time, she was sure, than it had taken her to locate the Guardian in the first place she raised over a desert hill she recognized. Looking past her guide, she found her body lying curled in the sand, huddled against the chill. A brief gasp of surprise came from her and she looked at the panther for some sort of clue as to what to do now.

 

It gazed at her placidly with large yellow eyes. Actually, it kind of looked bored with her.

 

After a few moments of indecision, she crept up on her own prone figure. The entire sequence was surreal and she found herself almost afraid to touch herself, worried that she’d feel the cold flesh of a corpse. Finally, steeling herself, she reached out a hand to touch the still figure’s face.

 

And woke up, lying in the sand. She sat up quickly and gazed around herself. There was no other Buffy, no panther guide and no footsteps but the track she’d originally taken when Giles had sent her out here.

 

“Wow. That was weird,” she said in a hushed tone. And then she shrieked, “Damn, but it is flippin’ freezing out here!”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

 

End Chapter 8, post one

 

space2

Chapter 8, Part II

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Ben sat in slightly dirty clothes in a small pub on the outskirts of the downtown district. In front of him he played with a mug of beer, only occasionally taking a sip. Mostly he just pushed the mug around in distracted circles and watched the golden-yellow brew slosh around.

 

He’d managed to reach a stored pile of clothes and change from the ratty tatters of Glory’s dress without making a fool out of himself. He’d expected one of the scab-crew to pop out at any moment while he walked back into town, but he’d been left to himself.

 

Ben noted the tables that surrounded the bar in a semi-circular pattern. Most were filled by young men and women laughing and flirting. They were so happy; they didn’t know how close they were to losing everything. Or, that there was a man in their midst who was considering turning an innocent girl over to her death just on the off-chance that it might save his own ass.

 

He sickened himself.

 

A group of intense men in a back corner caught his interest, though he didn’t understand why. They were just… oddly incongruent with the crowd around them. There were eight of them crowded around a table for five for one thing. For another, where everyone else in the place were laughing and talking with the ones they were with, these men were downright dour. A pitcher of beer had been delivered to the table, and yet none of them seemed anxious to partake of it.

 

Ben took another swallow of his own beer. As he replaced the mug, he realized all of the men were wearing stocking caps pulled low over their heads. They spoke low to one another and cast suspicious and restless gazes around the room from time to time. When the waitress had brought an order to them, they nearly all seemed to pull at their caps, adjusting them lower over their foreheads. Like some nervous tic that had grown contagious, Ben watched as they all seemed to be pathologically concerned with their caps being low over their foreheads.

 

He turned back to his own beer. He’d allowed himself to be distracted long enough. It was time to get back to brooding on whether he could go through with it. Even if he survived a deal with the devil, could he live with himself knowing he’d killed Buffy’s sister?

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In the car on the way back to Xander’s place, Giles turned up the heater to drive away the desert chill which seemed to cling to their exposed skin. Buffy sat pensive and staring at the darkness as they headed toward town.

 

“Wasn’t it useful,” he asked.

 

“I didn’t think so. Basically, I’m full of love and violence. But there was this thing about death… like maybe she was trying to tell me something and I’m not seeing it.”

 

“Hmm… they often speak in riddle, I’m afraid. Perhaps if you could relate exactly what she’d said?”

 

“I will, Giles. I just need to sit with it for a few days first, okay? The important thing is she indicated that I could beat Glory. Of course, just telling me ‘hey, what you want to do is recite this incantation while dancing the hula’ would have been too simple. But still, I was beginning to wonder if there wasn’t anything I could do, so it’s a relief to know there’s a way.”

 

“I’ve been thinking, while waiting for you… and trying not to freeze,” Giles gave her a small smile before returning his attention to the road. “Perhaps Willow was on the right track. She did manage to hurt Glory. Perhaps what we need is a spell combined with the Orb you were given. It must do something other than glow gaily and sit there.”

 

“Maybe. We should check the basement tomorrow; see what Glory missed in her destructo-rama. And I still need to get clothes packed for Dawn. We need to stay somewhere other than our house. Glory’s been there… it’s too easy for her to find us there again whenever she wants. Going to school is also out of the question.”

 

“I’ve been thinking on that, as well. I believe there is a rather powerful coven in Nova Scotia. They may have enough power to hide Dawn, if we can find a way to get her there. They’re affiliated with the Council. I’ll talk to Quentin tomorrow and see what we can arrange.”

 

“Thanks, Giles. Not just for what you’re doing now, but for everything.”

 

“Oh, w-well… I am your official Watcher again, after all,” he cleared his throat.

 

“You’ve gone way above and beyond over the years. You’ve taken care of all of us, not just your Slayer. I-I know sometimes I can seem… distant,” Buffy swallowed. “I just need you to know that I love you, Giles. You and the gang are the closest thing Dawn and I have to real family left. I just want you to know how much you mean to me. I don’t think I tell people how much I care about them nearly enough.”

 

“W-well… I certainly have come to see you as more than just my student, as well. If I were to have a daughter some day, I would hope that she is half of the woman you’ve become. I am so proud of you, and of the others, as well.”

 

“Maybe you should tell them that,” Buffy pointed out before turning back to the window. “I think that Xander could especially use hearing that right now.”

 

“Yes…, I may have been a little harsh about his… uh… pronouncement.”

 

“Spoken like a true Brit, Giles….”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 8

 

 

 
space2

chapter 9

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 9 – From Bad to Worse

 

That night was spent in a group sleepover, except for Giles and Willow, at Xander’s apartment. It was cramped, but they made due and worked to keep things light as if it was just a big sleepover. Spike had once again slept in Xander’s bedroom.

 

Xander himself, stayed with Anya in her room. He’d had to give her a dose of sedative around midnight as she became upset. Mostly, she’d been trying to leave the apartment to ‘help her… she needs me’. But she also grabbed Dawn’s wrist and yelled that it was almost time for her to ‘do her part’, upsetting not just Dawn but Buffy as well.

 

Buffy and Dawn slept on the fold out sofa and Tara stayed on a reclining chair. It was a restless night for everyone, except Anya who’d rested in a comfortable drug-induced sleep for most of the night. Around five, Xander gave her another half of a pill when she began to babble that the ‘light is gone… it’s all gone’ and crying.

 

Breakfast was a somber and quiet affair. It was obvious by Anya’s ramblings that things were about to come to a head and no one was looking forward to the battle to come. After a while of glancing around at the others with nothing inspiring to say, Buffy finally gathered up Dawn and left for their house. She wanted to get some things packed before meeting Giles at the Magic Box to see what survived Glory’s tantrum that they could use.

 

She wasn’t very hopeful.

 

Tara chose to accompany her, if for no other reason than as moral support. She also had to swing by the hospital later and make sure that Willow was behaving. She wanted to talk to the doctor without the red head’s presence about whether she really should be released from observation so soon.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

The travel to Buffy’s home was slow as she made Tara drive a circuitous route there. She spent all of her time checking the side view mirror or looking out the back windows for any followers. In addition, when they did arrive, Tara had to drive past twice. Finally Buffy allowed her to park, but seven houses down while she went to check the place out. Only when she was convinced that there was no Glory in wait, did she allow Tara and Dawn to accompany her.

 

“Don’t try to pack everything you own Dawn, just essentials,” Buffy stressed.

 

“We have to pack our conditioner, Buffy. Xander’s does nothing for my hair,” she grinned.

 

Buffy gave her a smile back, appreciating her sister’s attempt to lighten the mood.

 

“I would definitely include hair conditioner on the essentials list,” she nodded.

 

While Dawn and Tara were packing up clothes, Buffy went down the hallway to her own room. As she passed, she couldn’t help but stop in Joyce’s bedroom. It was still the way it looked on the day she died. There’d been no time and even less desire to sift through her personal belongings and pack or send them away. She closed her eyes and swallowed over the lump in her throat; she could still smell her mother’s perfume in the background air. Sighing, she closed the door and proceeded with the task at hand.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In his own apartment, Giles sat with a teapot at his elbow and the local paper in front of him. He’d been debating internally whether to pack the girls in his sports car for the drive to Nova Scotia or for them to fly there. He wasn’t happy with either option for obvious reasons. He wondered if the Council would spring for a private jet out of California, but realized Travers was never going to go for that. He may have learned to be more flexible with Buffy, but he was still the same basic bureaucrat he’d always been. And he would no doubt ask questions about why the ‘civilians’ had to be involved in the travel or why the Slayer was so concerned with risking her sister instead of shipping her away somewhere. No, he’d have to devise some other method for them all. Having three cars was less than ideal. The only obvious solution seemed to be to rent or purchase an R.V. that they could all travel in. And it had to be cheap… he was going to need money for the black market birth certificates with assumed names to get across the border when the time came.

 

As if by thinking Travers’ name, he’d cursed himself, the phone rang. On the other end was the devil himself.

 

“Mr. Giles, how are things against Glory? Do we have a plan of action, yet?”

 

“Quentin… I was actually going to call you, myself.”

 

“Then I’m glad I’ve reached you. Before we discuss anything else, the real reason I phoned was to let you know that the arrangements for Buffy’s stipend have been finalized. It wasn’t easy; the Board was not at all happy that I had agreed to this unprecedented action. However, in the end, their respect for me did carry the day. Her first…uh, allocation… should be available to her by the end of next week.”

 

“That is a relief, Quentin. And I do appreciate it, as I’m sure she shall,” Giles nodded into the phone.

 

“Well, why is it that you were going to call? Dawn wants a stipend too, now?”

 

“If only it were so trivial. No, I’m afraid that we may need to make a tactical retreat from the Hellmouth.”

 

“I see. Unfortunate… I take it that you’ve had no luck in retrieving the Key, either?”

 

“I’m afraid not. On the other hand, it appears no one has located it yet. It’s very possible it will remain hidden by Sunnydale’s aura until it is too late for Glory to make use of it,” Giles smoothly lied. He’d had a lot of practice over the decades in hiding things from the Council. It was a lesson that Wesley would have done well to learn much earlier.

 

“I see.”

 

“Quentin, Glory has stepped up her activity. I need to get the Slayer’s friends and family out of here. Since there is nothing that Buffy can do against this woman, it would be best if she were to come as well.”

 

“And the Hellmouth? It could be utilized while the Slayer is missing in action,” Quentin said. Giles could practically hear the scowl.

 

“Glory wouldn’t permit that. Strangely enough, she’s taken over the role of guardian by drastically cutting down the other members of the demon community here. Those who were smart have already vacated, as well. And once the Key is of no more use, I believe she will be more vulnerable. The powers of Destiny and Fate seem to be playing a role here.”

 

“I would agree. I’ve almost been convinced that something has been keeping us from being more effective in this area,” Quentin said.

 

Yes, I’m sure that’s the reason, Giles thought while rolling his eyes at the ceiling. Aloud he said, “So as you can see, it appears that something is working against the Slayer at this time. I believe the Powers are actively working to keep this device hidden so that even she cannot locate it.”

 

“At least Buffy is keeping her distracted, however.”

 

“As are the Knights,” Giles pointed out. “And they’ve been spotted again following Buffy. I believe her presence here is keeping them from focusing on their true goal… Glorificus.”

 

“Don’t you think, given their own devices, they might have success in finding this Key? The Watchers Council would be very displeased if this should happen. We want that item for our vaults, Rupert.”

 

You want it for the vaults, you arrogant, selfish egoist, Giles scowled. Maybe I should just tell him that we’re leaving and that is that! Or….

 

“Buffy could be convinced to stay behind and continue her campaign, Quentin. However, she’s distracted by her family being endangered.”

 

“Yes, she’s always spent far too much attention on trivialities around her. What do you suggest?”

 

“I wish to send the others to Nova Scotia. The coven there should be able to hide them from the Beast’s sight,” including Dawn who must be kept hidden at all costs. “I was hoping you could arrange for them to expect their arrival. Once they are out of the crosshairs, so to speak, I believe that Buffy can redouble her efforts to keep Glory off balance.”

 

“So be it,” Quentin agreed. “I will see to it. Good luck, Rupert.”

 

“To us all,” he concurred before silently adding, However, Buffy and I will also be leaving.

 

In the paper in front of him, he spotted the very type of vehicle they required. And it was only a thousand dollars. He chose to take it as a sign that the Powers did want Buffy out of harm’s away and immediately phoned the number in the ad.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Buffy stood over a small bag sitting on her bed. She was packing ‘essentials’ but had now paused as she stood holding a Claddagh ring of silver in a small jewelry box. It had been packed away since Angel had returned it to her following his return. They still didn’t know how he’d managed to escape the Hell she’d had to send him to. She continued to refuse to believe the First Evil had had anything to do with it. She knew that he wasn’t so sure.

 

She’d wondered often if she should wear the ring again, but then Riley had come along and she’d felt like she could get over Angel. She’d kept it locked away in her ‘mementos chest’ and figured she would take it out to look at it when she was an old woman. Not that Slayer’s made it that long, but she’d been optimistic back then.

 

The sound of Tara clearing her throat behind her broke her from her reflections and she finished setting the box down in her bag. She couldn’t imagine leaving it behind, no matter where she went.

 

“Almost done? I’ve managed to convince Dawn that she doesn’t have to have every single skirt in her closet,” Tara smiled.

 

“It’s a Summers trait,” Buffy returned the grin. “I almost packed the micro skirts I haven’t worn in years. Honestly, we should be forced by law to have a once a year spring clean out of our closets under penalty of wearing bad hair for the rest of the year.”

 

“Is there any---”

 

Tara’s offer of help was abruptly interrupted by a high pitched scream. Less than a heartbeat later, they recognized Dawn’s voice and heavy footsteps coming up the stairs.

 

“Buffy!”

 

The Slayer met her sister at the top of the stairs. A man wearing non-descript clothing with a wool cap pulled down low over his head was standing over her shoulder. One of his hands was outstretched to grab the girl, while the other held a short and lethal looking dagger.

 

Buffy grabbed Dawn’s arm and flung her behind, depending on Tara to catch her. In the meantime, she snap-kicked out in front of her and caught the man in the face with the flat of her heel. His head snapped back, blood coursing down his face from his thoroughly broken nose. Tumbling backward, Buffy saw him hit two more men who were trying to rush up the stairs. All three went down in a tumble of arms and legs. Coming through the front door strode three more men, all dressed about the same. They were all armed with medieval looking weaponry.

 

“Tara, get back down the hallway,” she yelled.

 

The witch didn’t hesitate, dragging a panicked Dawn clutching her suitcase down the hall and into Buffy’s bedroom.

 

Buffy knocked another man, this one with a heavily studded mace, down the stairs to join his brethren. She thought she could keep this up all day while Tara called for reinforcements, when a balding gentleman let loose with a crossbow bolt that she barely avoided.

 

“Slayer,” he shouted at her as he re-armed the bow. Ahead of him, two men slowly and cautiously started to climb the stairs side by side. Both were armed with daggers. “We want the Key!”

 

Damn, the Knights! Thanks a whole helluva lot, Travers!

 

“I don’t have the damned Key! What the hell do you think you’re doing barging into my home this way!?”

 

“Enough lies,” General Kossimo’s voice boomed up the stairwell. “Give us the phony sister and put an end to this warfare!”

 

Tara and Dawn heard the exchange from where they huddled in Buffy’s room. The witch was on her cell phone with Giles, relating what was happening. Dawn gasped audibly upon hearing that her secret was known to the men assaulting her home.

 

“Dawn… come on, Giles… hurry,” Tara beseeched before hanging up. She pushed Dawn toward Buffy’s window and glanced out. She couldn’t see any men, but had no doubt they’d be somewhere below in the yard… probably standing outside of the kitchen doors.

 

Well, I’ll deal with that in a minute, she thought as she struggled to quietly open the window. From the hallway, she could hear more sounds of Buffy fighting the Knights as best she could. It was obvious she was being pushed down the hall, however.

 

“Dawnie, go… lie face down on the roof so they can’t see you from the ground. And for God’s sake, be quiet,” Tara said. Her face was white and pinched with fear, but Dawn saw nothing but determination to help her and Buffy.

 

Tara turned away from Dawn, hoping the teen would just do as she said. In the meantime, she pulled out a vial of powder from her shirt pocket. She didn’t have a lot of supplies, but she always tried to carry something, especially these days.

 

As she opened the door to Buffy’s bedroom, she found the room’s owner barreling backward in an attempt to avoid another bolt as it shot past and broke out the hall window. Tara slammed the door shut and turned the lock, but she knew it wouldn’t last any time at all.

 

“Fulcio obex,” she muttered.

 

She helped Buffy up to her feet and then pointed her toward the open window, as she grabbed Buffy’s carry-all.

 

“We gotta go,” she said. “My barrier spell isn’t going to last long!”

 

Once outside of the window, Tara muttered another incantation. Buffy didn’t recognize the language, but when Tara told her to jump, she didn’t hesitate. When she hit the ground below, it was like jumping into a huge invisible pillow. Buffy gained her feet just in time to start hand to hand combat with four of the Knights that had been milling about in her kitchen. Fortunately, it seemed only head-honcho guy got the distance weapons. Behind her, Tara and Dawn landed and then made a run for the backyard gate.

 

Buffy hit a few more times and then took off at a sprint in the direction Tara and Dawn had gone. Right now, they’d be going three doors down an alleyway. Mrs. Trusk’s yard was fenceless, so they’d be able to cross it onto Revello and down to Tara’s car.

 

Beside her another crossbow bolt thunked into the ground near her passing feet. She spared a glance behind her and heard bald guy with the shooter shouting at his men out of the upstairs window. Behind her were now eight Knights, all running around with weapons drawn in broad daylight. It was like a farcical film, except that they were too dangerous to laugh at.

 

As Buffy took the turn into the Trusk’s, she ran right past Tara. She skidded to a halt and was about to scream at Tara for not continuing to run, when the witch threw a vial into the alleyway. Immediately, the Knights began retching and coughing as they stumbled to their knees.

 

“Run,” Tara yelled as she barreled past Buffy. The Slayer didn’t need to be told twice.

 

Buffy’s cell phone started to ring. She waited until they were in Tara’s car and she was accelerating before putting the phone to her ear. Behind them in the backseat, Dawn had already crouched near the floor.

 

“Buffy? What’s going on! I’m nearing your home; where are you?”

 

“We got away, Giles! Stay away from the house!”

 

“Get to Xander’s; I’ll meet you there. Be ready to leave the moment I arrive! Have the gang ready,” Giles disconnected.

 

“Wow, Tara,” Buffy took a moment to sigh in relief. “What was that stuff?”

 

“Essence of stinkbug,” the witch snickered.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 9

 

space2

Chapter 10 - Battling with a God

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

Part 10 – Tactical Retreat or Escort Duty

 

When Giles’ pulled the quite used recreational vehicle into the apartment parking lot, the gang was waiting. Except for Spike, of course, who had to wait in the lobby. As soon as the door to the R.V. was open, he made a dash across the sunny expanse of tarmac, a smoking blanket held ineffectually over his head. Giles somehow managed to refrain from wishing he’d dropped it and been exposed.

 

Anya had barely been pushed down onto a seat in the back, when Giles floored it. Or tried to. The camper wasn’t meant to be a race car.

 

“Is everyone alright,” he asked the crowd.

 

“Where now,” Xander immediately said.

 

“Hospital,” Tara breathlessly suggested, “We can’t leave Will behind.”

 

As Giles turned a sharp corner onto Johnson Street they passed a Saturn going the opposite way crowded with five men. All of them were wearing wool caps.

 

In the meantime, Tara was on her cell and speaking to Willow.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Once Will, still looking awfully wan, was aboard Giles headed for the highway out of Sunnydale. Spike had packed up the spell books they’d had at Xander’s and Willow and Tara were busy brushing through them, looking for anything they could use to mask or defend their flight from town.

 

In the meantime, Xander sat on the floor, back against some cabinets and watching Anya. She was giggling into her hand and staring at Dawn, who tried her hardest to pretend she wasn’t noticing.

 

“We can’t get her back if we leave town,” Xander said. He wasn’t asking a question.

 

“We don’t know that,” Willow tried to be supportive, but sounded like she was, in fact, sure to him.

 

“I’m sorry, Xan,” Buffy said. “I don’t know what else to do.”

 

She felt the crushing guilt of failure and condemning Anya to a life of insaneness. It was hard to take the oppressive atmosphere and she got up and walked into the back bedroom of the camper. She shut the door and threw herself into a chair. Buffy hoped that the gang wouldn’t hate her for disrupting their life this way, but she feared they would… especially Xander. She knew how much he still cared for Anya, even if he was starting a new relationship with Spike.

 

Back around the table, Anya said in hushed tones, “Bunnies make soup when carrots grow.” This was followed by more laughing.

 

“Uh, would you like a sandwich or something,” Dawn asked her, really trying not to be unnerved. It wasn’t Anya’s fault she wasn’t making much sense.

 

“Little light twinkles and think it’s heard,” Anya giggled.

 

“Here, luv,” Spike said as he placed a box of fruit juice with straw in front of her.

 

Instead of accepting the juice however, Anya scowled.

 

“Dead killer thing,” she spat at him. “I won’t stay in the garden with a vermin-thing.”

 

Before anyone could stop her, Anya flung open the blinds that were covering the large window behind her. Sunlight streamed in across the table and landed directly on Spike’s hands with dramatic effect.

 

Almost immediately, Spike’s hands turned to a blistering red before even his reflexes could pull them away. Smoke steamed off of them and he howled in pain, throwing himself backward. He fell right into Xander, knocking him back to the floor where he’d been raising himself to help.

 

At the table, Dawn immediately grabbed one side of the blinds while Tara grabbed the other to get them closed while Spike tried to shield his head from the wavering rays of sunlight. It only took moments, but it was complicated by Anya screeching that she needed the light while fighting against them.

 

“Alcedonia sua,” Willow whispered while waving in Anya’s direction. She immediately regretted it. Not only did the despondent young woman completely ignore the entreaty to calm down, but Will’s head felt like it might explode. She hissed breath and gritted her teeth against the wave of nausea caused by the pain battering her skull.

 

“Willow!” Tara reached for her hands. Seeing the pain etched onto her girlfriend’s face, she reached into her bag and pulled out a small tin. Taking a tiny pill from it, she forced Will to take it and then muttered an incantation under her breath. Immediately, the pain lessened and Willow smiled gratefully at her.

 

In the meantime, Dawn was able to get the blinds back in place while Xander was able to get Anya to calm down at least a little. First he took her wrists in his strong grip and forced her to look at him, before beginning a litany of nonsense words and comforting sounds. As if he were quieting a small child, he spoke low to her telling her to calm down and to be still. Finally, he reached out and stroked her hair across the small table until Anya lay her head down and began to weep quietly that the ‘Sun-Princess is trapped in the tower’.

 

He looked down at Spike who was still blowing on his lightly smoking hands. “Sorry, Spike… she doesn’t know what she’s doing,” he said.

 

“I know, luv. It’s not bad.”

 

“Here, let me see….” Xan took the pale fingers gently in his and gave the vampire’s hands a once over. “I think we have some burn ointment to take away the sting and I’ll wrap them for you in some loose gauze.”

 

“It’s no biggie, Xander, I’ll be fine.”

 

“Let me do this, please. Quit arguing when I want to help,” he smiled at Spike.

 

“If you two don’t do something about this UST, the whole camper’s going to blow,” Dawn smirked.

 

“Dawn!” Spike looked like he might tear her head off. Xander only looked mildly amused, while Tara looked mystified.

 

“UST?” She looked between the three of them.

 

“Unresolved Sexual Tension,” Willow murmured, bringing a bright blush to the blonde’s face.

 

In the meantime Dawn was shrugging innocently at Spike. “What? I’ve gone through puberty, you know. I recognize sexual tension when I see it.”

 

“You’ll recognize that sort of thing when you’re thirty, and not a day younger,” Spike scowled, bringing a laugh from Dawn.

 

“I’m gonna go check on my sis,” she said as she walked by. Deliberately as she passed Spike, with Xander tending his hands, she loudly whispered, “Would you two just do it, already?”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

When she’d closed the cheap door behind her, Dawn looked closely over her sister. She was worried about her. Slayer constitution or no, she looked exhausted and stressed. She was resting her head in the palm of one hand while the other was busy twirling the tail of her shirt. Her eyes were haggard looking and when she looked at Dawn, she appeared down.

 

Dawn took a seat on the small bed and idly wondered just how they were going to manage to all sleep in there. “Hey,” she said to break the silence.

 

“What’s the racket? Everything okay,” Buffy asked.

 

“Anya wanted to play with the sun. Spike objected. It’s okay, now.”

 

Buffy nodded and went back to twisting her shirt distractedly.

 

“I want to thank you, Buffy.”

 

“For what?”

 

“You know… basically everything. I’ve done nothing but turn your whole life upside down since I got here.”

 

“And don’t think I’ve forgiven you for that time you broke my watch in L.A., either,” Buffy gave her a small smile.

 

“I’m serious. You could have… when you found out I wasn’t r-real….”

 

“Hey. You’re as real as any of us. And you’re my sister.”

 

“I’m a ball of energy that got pressed into flesh. And they forced you to take care of me. But even when you found all of that out, you never made me feel any different. You and mom.”

 

“That’s ‘cause I love you. No matter how big a whiney pain you are,” Buffy grinned.

 

“You’ve just been jealous because my hair is way more pretty,” Dawn grinned back.

 

“Oh, pu-leeze… you’d kill for my hair.”

 

“Hah!” Dawn smiled before growing serious again. “I mean it though. You’ve been… a real hero.”

 

Buffy sighed. “Heroes don’t run away. I should be fighting.”

 

“You’re not running… you’re, uh, escorting me to safety.”

 

“I’m running ‘cause I don’t know what else to do. ‘Death is my gift’… how the heck was that supposed to help me? And now, Anya is going to pay for my cowardice.”

 

“Buffy… you’re not a coward. You’re one of the bravest people I will ever know. And she’s a god for, uh, God’s sake. What are you supposed to do?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 10

 

space2

Chapter 11

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 11 – Closing In

 

While Buffy and Dawn spoke in the tiny bedroom, Xander was finishing bandaging Spike’s hands. Tara had dug out a coloring book from who knew where and Anya was happily coloring in a lion in rainbow hues. Willow had her eyes closed, resting them after her painful spell attempt. She was far too weak still to try throwing around the mojo.

 

Xand gave Spike a grin and then left him to go up to the front of the R.V. with Giles.

 

“Any idea where we’re going? Or when we’re going to be able to stop for food? We don’t have any blood on board for the handsome leech.”

 

“Yes on the first, no on the second,” Giles gave a weary smile. “I’m afraid we can’t stop until absolutely necessary. We’re about to cross the Sunnydale city limit… soon after that, I’m afraid our adversaries will be able to sense the Key’s presence.”

 

“I kinda wish we’d had time to stop off and steal another rocket launcher… or you know, maybe a tank.”

 

“Perhaps if Riley were here, he could have requisitioned a gun-copter,” Giles suggested.

 

“Or an ICBM… who needs Southern Cali, anyway?”

 

“How is Anya… and Spike?”

 

“Calm… and slightly singed.”

 

“I suppose we’re lucky he wasn’t hurt worse,” Giles said unconvincingly.

 

“I know you don’t approve… of what I told you about. Me and Spike… I get that. He’s a vampire and I’m not; or is it more than that? Is the guy/guy thing freaking you out, ‘cause I went through that, too. So, you know… I would get that, too.”

 

“No, of course I’m not ‘freaked out’. I don’t wish you to think that I’m trying to be your…, uh… your father, Xander. But I do feel the need to express my concern with any… tryst… you may be considering with Spike,” Giles glanced at him before turning his attention again straight ahead.

 

“Giles, you’ve done more for me in five short years than my dad did for me in nineteen. And I respect you about five hundred percent more.”

 

“Then, with that respect in mind, I must ask you to please consider very carefully what you’re planning on doing. Xander, I know that Spike can seem very human in his reactions, but he’s not. Uh, human, that is.”

 

“I know. And I know why you’re worried… I was there during Angelus, too. But Spike isn’t like that.”

 

“Not on the surface, no. But these things tend not to go well in the long run. I don’t want to see you hurt, or worse.”

 

“He can’t hurt me, Giles. He’s chipped still. Why does everyone keep forgetting that when it’s convenient,” Xander complained, exasperated.

 

“We don’t know that,” Giles emphasized. “We only know that he can’t attack people. We don’t know anything about this chip… how it’s programmed, how it decides whether he’s becoming aggressive or not. We don’t know if it is triggered by him, or if the chip somehow senses fear in a person when they are about to be bitten.”

 

Giles took a breath and swallowed. Then he drove on with his real concern. It was an uncomfortable topic and he hadn’t ever expected to be having this conversation once Angel had left for Los Angeles. “W-we don’t know if the chip will work, if-if-if a person, um, wants to be, uh, taken.”

 

“You’re saying… you’re worried that if I want to be bitten, Spike may be able to do it? And that you’re afraid I’m gonna want him to? Eew, gross!”

 

“Is it, Xander? You’ve already given him a taste for your blood, now. Do you think every vampire-mortal pairing has started immediately like Riley’s error in judgment? No, the vampire seduces it’s… consort… partner… whatever term you wish. The ultimate victim starts out as a willing participant, wondering what it would be like… er, wanting to make their… uh… their l-lover happy. And then the vampire wants more and more, until one day it’s too much. I don’t wish to see that happen to you. And the draw of immortality can be very seductive in its own right, even being aware that it won’t be you. Plus the gypsy curse must make it seem even more possible to cheat eventual old age and death.”

 

“I am not going to be feeding Spike from my vein, Giles. That was a one time emergency thing.”

 

“And how many more times will he be injured,” Giles wanted to know. “We live dangerous lives. And Spike is going to be fighting others who wish to usurp his status whether he fights for the Slayer or not. He’s going to get hurt, sometimes badly. How often are you going to be willing to let him feed from you? How can you not if he seems in a bad way? I’m not saying that Spike would intentionally wish to hurt you, Xander. There have been vampires who truly do seem to form an emotional, financial or political attachment to their human partners and don’t mean to kill them. But it always ends the same way… death or worse.”

 

“I’ll remember to be careful, Giles. And the others will be watching me like a hawk for signs that I’m letting him nibble. Believe me, I’m not looking to be dead… or undeaded by him. But I can’t just walk away from this without exploring it.”

 

“Just proceed slowly and with care,” Giles sighed in defeat. “And if you believe you’re becoming in trouble, I want you to know you can always turn to me. I won’t judge you; I’ll only be there to assist you.”

 

“You do realize that he’s probably listened in to this entire conversation, don’t you,” Xander quirked a brow.

 

“Well, I certainly hope so! I don’t want to have to repeat this whole thing again. And I hope he’s hearing me when I say that if he hurts you, I won’t waste a minute in beheading him.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Spike sat abashed at the table dealing out a game of solitaire and trying to ignore Anya’s occasional glares. Was she glaring because some part of her remembered that he’d ‘stolen’ Xan, or was it just that he was undead? Who bloody knew? But, of course, he’d been listening to at least most of Giles’ rant up front. Maybe if he pretended otherwise, Xander would buy it.

 

The Watcher was wrong. He wasn’t looking to feed on Xan or make him into some sort of half-arsed convert to the vampire lifestyle.

 

At least that’s what Spike told himself. But a deep inner voice had to wonder just how this could work in any other way? Would he really be able to watch Xander’s broken body take its last painful gasps and expire? Could he watch the ravages of age take him away wrinkle by crease?

 

Spike told the inner voice to shut the hell up and played the two of spades on top of the ace.

 

“Here’s something,” Willow said, breaking into his morbid thoughts.

 

“What? Let’s see, sweetie,” Tara leaned over her girl’s shoulder.

 

Spike smiled just a bit when he saw one girl’s fingers twine around the other’s. He tried to picture him and Xander touching like that and wondered if he was capable of that sort of affection. And if he wasn’t, could Xander live without it?

 

“Well, it’s a pretty powerful barrier… oh, wait. Damn it, we can’t be moving when it’s cast,” she sighed.

 

“Well, keep that page marked anyway,” Tara said. “We may end up needing it. All I’ve come up with for masking agents is smoke to the face, temporary blindness… here’s summoning birds or butterflies to hover in somebody’s face….”

 

Next to her, Anya giggled, “Butterflies….” she whispered before laughing again.

 

“You like butterflies, Anya,” she asked the other woman with a smile. “They’re very pretty aren’t they?”

 

“Butterflies on toast….” Anya said before going back to coloring.

 

Tara sighed and turned her attention back to Willow. “Everything so far is more for close up and personal. Nothing to just turn Dawn into inviso-girl.”

 

“It’s probably why the monks used the Hellmouth to shield her,” Spike offered. He wished he could be of more use. Dawn needed him and he couldn’t do anything for her. He couldn’t cast spells, he was useless when it came to trying to beat on Glory and he’d be quickly rendered into an unconscious lump the moment he tried to fight off the Knights. He suddenly wondered just what he was doing here anyway, other than making them all have to worry about securing blood for him later.

 

“It’s a shame we couldn’t just pack up a purse full of Hellmouth energy to use,” Tara said.

 

“Shit,” Willow said next to her, the look in her eye distant.

 

“Honey?”  “Red?” Her two lucid companions questioned at once.

 

“We’ve just left the Hellmouth’s range,” Willow said worriedly.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Gregor stood in the living room of the Summers’ home in a foul mood. Despite the alleged training of the warriors with him, the Slayer had escaped. And more to the point, she’d taken the Key with her. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply in an attempt to gain a hold of his anger; throwing a tantrum wouldn’t help anyone at this point. Best to wait quietly until their search was complete.

 

Around him, the house was in disarray as drawers were yanked open and emptied. A weapon’s chest in the living room and what must have been the Slayer’s bedroom were tipped over. And closets and storage bins were emptied of their contents as men looked for any sign of what the Slayer’s plans were.

 

When he opened his eyes, Orlando was standing nervously before him.

 

“Progress,” he asked.

 

“Not much, sir. We did locate the Key’s ‘diary’ confirming her identity. Mostly it just contained the usual young teen complaining. It appears that she only found out what she really was recently.”

 

“Anything like that in the Slayer’s room?”

 

“I’m afraid not. Perhaps the Watcher’s apartment would be more helpful,” Orlando said.

 

“Our next stop,” the General confirmed.

 

Sandor, who’d been standing quietly next to Gregor the entire time suddenly gasped and put his hands to his stomach. It immediately drew Elias from the kitchen.

 

“What is it,” Gregor asked.

 

“There’s been a change. I can feel the emanations of the Key. Elias! Quickly! We must form a meditative trance to pinpoint its location before it fades!”

 

As the two mystics began their chant to reach synchronization with each other, Gregor grabbed Dean Stabbler. “Report back to base camp. Break out the heavy gear and get those rented horses dressed for battle. We’re finally going to put an end to this today!”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

In Glory’s penthouse, the scabby-skinned sycophants were in a tizzy of activity. Mostly this involved berating each other for not having forced Ben to be here. Now that Grono and Ginx had confirmed that the Key was sending out its siren signal, they had no idea where Her Most Luscious’ human prison was wandering. Granier had already rushed to the hospital to retrieve the minion on Ben watch, but the human had never showed.

 

“We should, uh, steal transportation or something and retrieve the Key ourselves for her Most Blinding Light,” Guev suggested.

 

“And face the Slayer again,” Ginx asked skeptically. “And her mighty warriors?”

 

“Ginx is right,” Guar was quick to say. “Glory must retrieve the Key from so fearsome a force.”

 

“Then we must find her,” more than one voice lamented in the din of argument. They began to uselessly hit their summoning jewels in their sleeves, hoping to call Glory to come home.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Ben was outside of Sunnydale and heading south toward the Mexican border. He hadn’t wanted to risk returning to Glory’s for his things, so he only had the clothes he currently wore. In the back seat was a newly purchased backpack filled with bottled water. He felt elation mixed with fear and both was producing enough adrenaline to force sweat from his pours.

 

I’m really going to do it! I’m really breaking free….

 

Good old Sis was going to be so pissed when she next appeared, only to find herself lost in an Amazon village and way too late to do anything with her portal home. Ben grinned to himself. He’d have to write a letter and address it to his ‘twin’ to read when he had a chance. He wanted her to know that she’d failed and it was because of him.

 

Ben banged his hands on the steering wheel and whooped with laughter. And that’s when the tire blew out and the car swerved off the road.

 

No…, no! This isn’t happening; this can not be happening!

 

He looked up into the mid day sun streaming down and silently cursed at whatever dark hand was working against him. Grabbing the backpack, he abandoned the car where it sat and continued walking south. He looked for any cars headed his way so he could hitch a ride, but of course, the road was eerily deserted at the moment.

 

He was just drinking some of the still cool water from one of the bottles when a tremor went through his whole body. The world had seemed to tip just slightly to his perceptions, but it had stopped before he did more than stumble a step.

 

Now what, he thought with worry. He tried to continue walking south, but his legs refused to move and his eyes began to blur.

 

Before he had time to do more than begin the rant that he wanted to scream, Glory stood in his place.

 

Where the hell am I?

 

“Okay, okay… I hear you damn it,” she complained aloud to the ringing chimes she heard in her head. It sounded like every one of the munchkins was laying on those stupid gemstones.

 

If I get back to my penthouse, and this is nothing…. she thought darkly as she began to trudge in the direction of the summoning signal in her head. What the fuck was Benny doing out here?

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 11

 

 

space2

Chapter 12

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 12 – The Price of Warfare

 

In the Recreational Vehicle, Giles had relinquished the wheel for awhile to Xander. Willow and Dawn had worked together to put aluminum foil on the front window in front of the passenger side and on the side windows. Dawn wanted to allow Spike to sit up front with ‘his boyfriend’ (snicker-snicker).

 

Buffy had finally come out of her self seclusion and sat at the table with Giles and a road map. Tara was currently in her place in the little bedroom, watching over Anya. She’d needed another pill when she began crying hysterically that ‘Glory needs me to build her monument!’ The bedroom door was left open, so that Tara could follow what the plan was, but she was mostly engrossed in trying to find an alternate way to save Anya’s sanity without directly confronting Glorificus.

 

Now, Willow half followed what Giles and Buffy discussed and half skimmed over her own spell book, looking for ways to reign in the energy signature that Dawn was unintentionally broadcasting. Even if it wasn’t drawing Glory or the Knighthood right to them, and it probably was, it would be best if they could muzzle Dawnie’s aura for the future as well.

 

Dawn tried to help by getting everyone water from the tiny dispenser in the kitchenette and making sure she helped research Anya’s cure, too. She was stuck in alternating cycles of guilt for being such a beacon and trying not to be offended when Willow and Giles occasionally spoke about her like she wasn’t right there listening. She really wanted to act like a grown up while everyone else was so busy.

 

Actually everyone was starting to look a little drowsy. The air conditioning wasn’t so great in their oh-so-previously-used rig and they couldn’t open the windows because of Spike catching a lethal dose of rays. She sighed, but quickly put on a ‘this is all good’ smile.

 

“Would anyone like some coffee? I think we threw some in the backpacks and there seems to be a pot in here. Uh, I’d wash it first… really good… maybe with bleach and dynamite.”

 

“Thank you, Dawn,” Giles smiled at her. “But as tempting as the thought is, I think I’ll wait until we reach the next McDonalds.”

 

“Speaking of which,” Xander called back. “I’m definitely making a pit stop at the next place. There’s no way, I’m peeing in that tiny closet they shoved the porta-potty in!”

 

“Ugh,” Spike teased him. “I’d forgotten about all of that human waste issue. I may need to rethink this relationship-thing with you.”

 

“Oh, too late now Fang-face. We’ve already got Dawn pushing us together now; there’s no way we get to back out.”

 

“You got that, right,” Dawn called out. “If I don’t get to see some hot man on male-vamp action soon, I’m going to glue your lips together when you’re sleeping.”

 

“Dawn!” Buffy scowled uncomfortably at her.

 

“What? Xan and Spike are both hot. What could be hotter than watching them be hot together? Uh, but not in a gay porn sort of way… which I’d know nothing about because I don’t know how to use the internet….”

 

“Oh, my god… no more computer for you for the rest of your life,” Buffy said.

 

“Hello? Everyone? Puberty came and went… can we all catch up?”

 

“Or can we simply ignore the last five minutes of this conversation,” Giles asked. “Please?”

 

“I’m definitely scrubbing by memory clean,” Buffy said.

 

“I’ve already told her to stop thinking them thoughts until she’s thirty,” Spike offered.

 

“I’m the legal guardian here, and I say it’s going to be forty,” Buffy called back. “In fact, I may be locking her in her room for that long, too. Once she actually has a room, again.”

 

“Look at it this way, Buffy. Now that we’re out of Sunnydale, at least things can’t get any crazier.” Dawn smiled at her sister. Of course, that was exactly the moment that the point of a crossbow bolt slammed through the side of the R.V., fortunately missing everyone.

 

“You know you just jinxed us, right,” Buffy pointed out with a roll of her eyes.

 

“Oops,” Dawn conceded before screaming, startled and diving to the ground as the window was smashed in by a club.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

“Xander, start swerving!” Buffy struggled out from behind the table so that she’d have more maneuverability. All around them thundered the hooves of horses and men’s yelling.

 

“Don’t hit the horsies,” Willow shouted while checking on Tara.

 

Tara had quickly grabbed Anya’s sedated form and dragged her to the floor, trying to keep her from being hit by the crossbow bolts that were still puncturing the camper’s walls. She gave Willow a quick, worried smile and then opened the spell book in her hands to ready herself.

 

Willow was frustrated because she knew a spell or two and she’d be tapped out again. She may not even be able to do that much, after all trying to calm Anya magically had only inflicted pain on her. She looked at the knife she held in her hand and thought how little good it was going to do against armor.

 

At the smashed window, Giles was struggling with a Knight who hung half into the interior of the R.V. and was swinging wildly with a blunt mace. Finally, he was able to get in two solid punches to the man’s face and with a brief yell, he’d fallen back out.

 

Spike leaned toward Xander before making a dash toward the back to help out where he could. “Aim for the horsies, mate!”

 

“Dawn,” Buffy called for her sister, but then she had to deal with a sword plunging through the roof. The blade caught her down her back, but she could tell it wasn’t a serious wound.

 

Under the table where she’d managed to crawl through all of the legs in her way, Dawn was desperately trying to chant from the spell book she held. She didn’t even know what it said, but it had to be better than sitting here.

 

“Idii-uh-ma-manip- oh, crap! Why did I have to grab the stupid Babylonian book!”

 

“I-it’s Sumerian,” Giles yelled before once again engaging an armored man trying to wiggle through the window and into the camper’s interior.

 

“You’re cut,” Spike yelled at Buffy.

 

“Later! Boost me up to the roof… Xander, step on it and swerve!”

 

“I’m stepping… and swerving,” he yelled back frustrated. “This thing drives like a cardboard box in a stiff breeze!”

 

“Well, excuse me if I didn’t have time to properly shop,” Giles complained. His latest foe finally was pushed out with a yell.

 

Tara stood hanging onto the door frame and trying to keep the bedroom door from closing on her fingers. She pointed at the window frame that Giles was still trying to guard with nothing more than his hands.

 

Above her head she could hear Buffy and more than one man banging around on the roof. Another Knight apparently leapt from his horse and onto the window’s sill, attempting to wriggle in. He was waving a short sword at Giles to hold him at bay.

 

“Desolvo,” Tara yelled, flinging green energy that knocked the man out. Around her, crossbow points continued to poke through. She glanced back to make sure Anya was okay, but the young woman was still under the sedative’s effects and was snoring soundly. It would have been funny if things weren’t so desperate.

 

Just in front of her and holding for dear life to the sink basin, Willow closed her eyes.

 

“Will, don’t,” Tara tried to warn her, but she was already chanting.

 

“Mighty Neptune, call to your equestrians through your horse god aspect! Oh, Pégasos, we beseech thee… let your brethren undo their yokes and run free!”

 

Willow gasped as her body weakened under the strain of the incantation. Tara was there cradling her before she could hit the floor. Outside of the vehicle, men suddenly shouted in alarm and the sounds of hooves could be heard thundering away in all different directions en mass. “I think… I think it worked,” she breathed.

 

“Baby, you need to lay off the magicks. You know that! You should have just told me what the plan was,” Tara stroked her hair.

 

“It’s okay… I’ll be alright, now,” Will smiled at her.

 

On the roof, Buffy watched in amazement as the horses suddenly seemed to get a mind of their own. They bucked men from the saddles, or simply began running wildly out of control, the riders holding on for dear life. Behind the R.V., men lay on the ground and she felt a pang of guilt. They’d left her no choice and she knew she’d killed at least two of them, maybe a few more if they hit the ground wrong. She hoped that Giles would understand she hadn’t been able to get them off the camper any other way.

 

On her hands and knees, she tried to ride out Xander’s erratic driving as he was still swerving defensively. She banged on the roof and yelled down through the hatch that they’d broken off the attack.

 

But she spoke too soon.

 

Gregor’s horse was responding to the magic, like the others, but he’d managed to twist in his saddle. Trying the best he could to fight his horse and fire his crossbow he aimed for the Slayer as the R.V. pulled away from him.

 

His angle for the shot was from the side and he didn’t think he’d be able to hit her while also trying not to be bucked off his steed. He pulled the trigger anyway. The shot went completely wide, but he had no more chance to see what was happening with his quarry. His horse was bolting and it was all he could do to hang on.

 

The crossbow bolt flew into a wide arc, far too low to reach past the R.V.’s side. It was also far wide from its mark. If the vehicle had been moving any slower, it would have sailed right in front of it. Any faster, and it would have been just another bolt sticking ineffectively into the side of the camper. But Xander was still pressing the gas pedal to its maximum. Providence caught the lethal missile and it struck true just below the driver’s side window.

 

It effortlessly punched through the driver’s side door panel and Xander gasped first in surprise and then pain as he felt it impact into his side.

 

“Well, damn,” he said as he felt the hot wetness begin to soak his shirt.

 

With Xander having straightened out the wheel, Buffy now felt comfortable with crawling back toward the roof hatch. She had just reached it when the R.V. unexpectedly and sharply swerved again.

 

“Xander,” she shouted as she tried to grab hold of the roof. It was relatively flat, however and offered no real hand holds. She slid across the roof and was flung off to the sand below, hitting the ground hard. Her years of training and experience allowed her to compensate and she was able to roll with the impact.

 

Leaping to her feet she saw and heard the large vehicle go down.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Flashback – Moments ago

 

All of the commotion had finally broken through Anya’s drug induced separation from the world and she sat up bleary eyed. She was sort of aware that something was happening. There was noise and shouting and thunking. She started to cry… afraid. The bunnies were thumping the car with their huge feet and they were going to get her.

 

Sitting in the entryway was Tara, one arm holding Willow while the other braced them against the door. Willow had tried another spell, even though it was way too soon after her showdown with Glory. She was equal parts angry and relieved that she appeared to be okay.

 

Willow was trying to convince her head that it didn’t really hurt. Her head wasn’t buying it and continued to pound. In addition, it felt like she’d lost all of the strength for several minutes in her limbs and she was afraid she’d given herself a stroke. Fortunately, she could feel herself recovering.

 

Spike was glancing at the roof access and waiting to help Buffy back down. In the meantime he glanced under the table and found Dawn gripping a book with white knuckles, her eyes wide. “You okay, Dawn?”

 

“Y-yeah… not a scratch. Did we win?”

 

His reply was preempted by Buffy’s yell of alarm from above them. The vehicle went into a sharp swerve, and Spike felt an instance of irritation. He took a deep breath to yell at Xander to watch what the hell he was doing when the smell of Xander’s blood hit him like a baseball bat to the face. For a split second he flashed back to the night in the alley when Dracula had nearly taken him away. And then he was running forward and yelling for Xan.

 

Xander struggled to bring the lumbering vehicle under control, but he’d lost strength in his legs. He could feel each movement of the R.V. as a slicing and dicing inside his innards as the pointed tip of the cross bolt melded him with the door panel.

 

The gang was yelling at him, but he couldn’t focus and it took only seconds for him to lose the battle against the behemoth. The wheel seemed to turn of its own volition and he felt himself flung to the right, falling from the driver’s seat. The next thing he knew, he was lying in an uncomfortable cramped position against the passenger side door. From above him, his own blood dripped off of the bolt in the door sending fat droplets splashing onto his face.

 

Giles was rudely pushed out of the way as Spike dashed around him. He found himself half lying/half kneeling on the curved bench seating for the table. He’d just begun to straighten to berate Spike when he was suddenly flung backward into the cabinets on the side of the sink. He just had time to yell for everyone to hang on, when the whole camper tipped over onto its side.

 

Dawn was trying to crawl out from under the table when she found herself free falling forward. Unable to stop her momentum, her shoulder banged painfully on the table’s central leg and then she was being thrown into the sink cabinets. Her last action was trying to get her arms up, when her head connected solidly with the cupboard doors and her eyesight was full of stars.

 

Tara lost her grip on Willow as she instinctively grabbed the doorframe and screamed. The whole R.V. was tipping onto its side and Willow fell into the area above the sink, slamming into the wall that should have been behind the basin, but was now below it. She had broken the sink’s faucet in the fall and water was running in a heavy dribble over her face and chest.

 

For her part, Tara was able to hold on somehow. She was fine until the top of the vehicle slammed down on the road. Her head was slammed forward, her chin hitting painfully on the doorjamb. Seconds later and she felt the pain in her bottom lip where her teeth had bitten down, breaking the skin.

 

Anya was crying for the nice lady. She knew her name, but things were so confused and noisy and she couldn’t think. She wanted the nice lady to smooth her hair and to hear her voice. She’d just begun to crawl towards her when the whole world lurched around her.

 

She screamed as things began flying into her face, over her head and she felt herself fall to the side. When she hit the ground hard, she cried even more.

 

“The world is cracking apart,” she screamed, hoping someone could help her. “The world! It’s cracking apart!”

 

Spike was thrown off balance in his flight and found himself leaning against the cabin door when it flew open unexpectedly underneath him. Before he could process that the door was somehow under him, the side of the wreck crashed into asphalt. The door was powerfully slammed shut, aborting Spike’s movement downward and he felt his head viciously thrown back causing a brief agonizing pain as his neck suffered whiplash and his lips were split open by the impact of metal against skin.

 

In addition, he could taste blood from his smashed nose flowing down his face. Next to him, lay Giles. He could see blood on the back of the Watcher’s head, but he was conscious and didn’t seem too badly off. Past him, Red was struggling to sit up and furiously wiping water from her face. The panicked flailing at her face told him she probably thought she was gushing blood.

 

“It’s just water, Red. You broke the sink,” he croaked. In the next breath, whatever snapping comment he’d been about to make at her vanished from his mind as he remembered that Xander’s blood was scenting the air.

 

“Xander! Talk to me,” he yelled as he struggled to get to his hands and knees. At the same time he had to avoid the too close for comfort, river of sunlight making its way in through the new skylight.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 12