April 19th, 2008

kaiju

Ch 21

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.

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Battle with a God

Ch 21 – Tactical Planning

 

Buffy had carried the robots up into the shop where the gang were gathered and set them against the wall. They remained powered down with their eyes staring emptily ahead as if they were just oversized dolls. They made Buffy think of Dru and that led to thoughts of Joyce. She’d just finished looking, unsuccessfully, for Spike’s sire when she’d returned to the house and found her mother on the sofa. She blinked away this train of thought, but Joyce’s eyes were uppermost in her mind. They were gazing on her in disappointment for losing her sister to Glory after she swore she’d take care of her. She wished that she’d asked Angel to stay and also that Riley might parachute in with a battalion, or a division or whatever. Preferably, with some heavy duty missiles.

 

“It was kind of sleazy when they were running around, but with them just staring like that it’s creepy,” Xander said. “Can’t we, like, close their eyes at least?”

 

We should have torn the Buffybot into scrap, Hyena growled.

 

“They won’t stay closed,” Willow replied distractedly. Xander could recognize that she was slipping into computer-geek mode. He knew that she was already writing code in her head.

 

From outside came the scent of cigarette smoke, followed closely behind by Spike. Under one arm was tucked a laptop. The other held two bags of what smelled like grease.

 

Xander’s stomach rumbled.

 

“Got grub,” Spike said. “Burgers and fries from the local grease shop. Try not to have any heart attacks until after we’ve gotten The Bit back.”

 

He came up short when he saw the Buffybot sitting complacently against a wall. Quickly recovering, he passed out the food, avoiding looking in the Bot’s direction again.

 

Willow grabbed a bag of fries and her laptop, plugging the device into the Buffybot and getting to work.

 

“Watcher,” Spike said unemotionally as he handed Giles two burgers and a fry.

 

“Spike… I must apologize.”

 

“No, you don’t. You’ve made your feelings clear. And it’s not important right now. Xan, love… you need to eat; here.”

 

“What about you,” he asked.

 

“Got blood and drinks still in the car. Do we have a battle plan, yet?”

 

“First we need to know where Dawn is,” Buffy said with frustration. “Sunnydale always seems so small, until I want to find someone.”

 

“So break out the mojo,” Spike said.

 

“No good,” Tara replied. “Hellmouth, remember?”

 

What about her scent, Hyena directed to Xander.

 

“Uh,” he laid a hand on Spike’s shoulder, “Couldn’t you do the bloodhound thing? And yes, the thought of you scenting for her is creepy.”

 

Spike gave him a grin that made him want to grab the vamp and kiss him hard. He restrained himself. At least until Dawn is safe and sound, he thought. Hyena, naturally, couldn’t understand the wait.

 

“Rain. Her scent won’t be in the air anymore,” Spike said thoughtfully.

 

Hyena?

 

No, he’s right. I won’t be able to track her now either, she directed to him. Unless she’s close by and the breeze just happens to carry her smell this way. Judging by our luck lately….

 

Xander sat down next to Anya and coaxed her into eating. She was making a low keening noise that could have been sorrow, or could have been just random noise. It broke his heart to see her like this and when he glanced over at Spike watching him, he could see sympathy in his blue eyes. He gave him a small smile, sad but determined. No matter what happened, Spike would have to understand that Anya was now his responsibility and he’d take care of her.

 

“We need to discuss what will happen if the ritual is started,” Giles said quietly. Something in the tone of his voice immediately demanded the attention of everyone in the room.

 

“The details of the ritual are rather simple and it’s possible that they will begin it during our intrusion,” he continued. “Basically, they will anoint the Key’s brow with oils and then, uh, slice her at the appointed time, allowing her, uh, her blood to… flow,” he tapered off with discomfort.

 

The gang could see determination re-enter his face as he locked eyes with Buffy. There was another palpable chill in the air as he said, “Her flowing blood will open the walls. If this happens, the only way to stop what’s happening is to stop the flow of blood.”

 

“I’ll have a healing spell on stand-by,” Tara said while laying a supportive hand on Buffy’s bicep. “It’ll stop any bleeding at least as long as it takes us to get Dawn to safety.”

 

“No,” Giles said, still in that quiet but iron tone of voice. “I meant that if the ritual starts, the flow of blood will have to be stopped permanently. As long as it flows in Dawn’s veins the portal will remain open whether her wound continues or not.” His eyes never left Buffy’s.

 

“You’re not saying…,” Spike started, outraged.

 

“He’s telling me to kill my sister,” Buffy glared coldly at her Watcher and friend.

 

“Buffy, she’s not your sister… not really.”

 

“In all the ways that matter, she is, Giles. And she’s more… she’s… she’s a part of me. I can’t explain it, but when I look at her, when I hold her….”

 

“I’m not saying this will be easy,” Giles understated. Around them was utter silence. Even Anya had stopped her keening and sat engrossed with playing with her fries. Buffy and he might as well have been the only ones in the room… maybe in the city.

 

“But if we can’t reach her in time,” he continued. “If the portal is opened, if the walls begin to fall…?”

 

“I’m not doing it,” Buffy said flatly. “And I will kill anyone who comes near her.”

 

“Buffy, if ritual starts…,” he tried to repeat.

 

“…I don’t care! I will do whatever it takes to spare her,” she said with emphasis. “Whatever. It. Takes.”

 

“You’ll fail. You’ll die. And so will countless others, including us… including Dawn.”

 

“Then the last thing that she will see, is me defending her. I’m sorry,” she said as her gaze swept around the room. Taking in the pale faces of her friends… her beloved family, she gave a helpless shake of her head. “I love all of you… more than I can say. But I’m sorry….”

 

Buffy turned on her heel and stomped into the back room of the shop. Tense minutes later, they clearly heard her fists pounding on brick.

 

In Xander’s mind, Hyena couldn’t resist making an offer she knew would not be appreciated. If need be, I can do it. For us… for the world, I can accept this price.

 

He chose not to answer. His mind and heart were in turmoil. From the looks of his friends, theirs were, too. Except for Spike.

 

He could see in his boyfriend’s (boyfriend!) face no doubt, no fear. He instinctively knew that Spike would follow Buffy into Hell and the world’s end if it meant that Dawn had any chance at all to survive in the new world order. He hoped he’d be strong enough to stop Hyena if he needed to. He hoped that the chip wouldn’t react if he had to kill him to stop her from hurting Dawn, even if Xander had to suffer, too.

 

“I think I kinda love you,” he directed to him across the room, breaking the tense silence. “I need you to know that, whatever comes.”

 

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Dawn sat huddled on her chair in the middle of the small office. She briefly considered breaking out a window and making a dash for it, but even from where she sat she could hear that she was utterly surrounded. She wouldn’t be able to leave and when she was caught, Glory might break her legs next so she couldn’t do it again. She wished she was brave like her sister.

 

“Buffy…,” she intoned, as if she could make her appear out of thin air.

 

The door behind her opened and she straightened up. Despite being in pain and so afraid she was sick, she was determined not to grovel before these things. She’d hold her head up high, no matter what came.

 

Her bravado collapsed into relief as she saw Ben stroll in, wearing Glory’s clothing. He looked freakish and she probably would have burst out laughing in any other circumstances.

 

In a flash, she suddenly remembered and she pulled in a harsh breath of shock. In the hospital, Ben had panicked and told her to run. And then… he became She.

 

“Y-you’re Glory,” Dawn said in disbelief. “How could I have not remembered?!”

 

“It’s not important,” Ben said as he rushed over to her. “We’ve got to get you out of here! Can you walk?”

 

“Y-yeah, but my hand…,” she showed him what had been done.

 

“Okay, here… sit tight. I’m going to grab something to bind it with.”

 

“W-why are you helping me,” she asked, afraid to believe that she was going to be freed. “What about the demons?”

 

Ben grabbed hold of some cloth sheets that were covering various items in the work space. He began tearing off strips to use. He glanced at her and she recognized regret and fear. It was the same thing she was feeling.

 

“Glory has done nothing but destroy my life,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything about it before. But with her timetable coming up, it’s like I can feel inside that I have a chance now. I think her protective magicks are breaking down. It’s past time for her to learn that not even ‘gods’ get to have their way all of the time.”

 

He rushed back to her and began to bind the broken finger, the index, to the middle one next to it. “I can’t explain it. But I think she’s losing control over me. The scab-crew’s not going to let me walk out with you, though. We’ll have to find a way to sneak away. There, I don’t want to straighten the finger out until we get away from here. I’m afraid it’s going to hurt, Dawn.”

 

“It can’t hurt any more than I already do,” she murmured as she followed him to the door.

 

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Giles hesitantly stepped into the back room. It had been nearly ten minutes and still the sounds of cracking brick sounded. He saw Buffy, a light sheen of sweat on her brow. She’d found tape from somewhere, the kind that she’d used regularly during work outs to wind around her hands and wrists. Now she was dancing in front of a side wall, feinting and jabbing into it. She and the floor were covered in red dust and the walls showed pocks, cracks and missing chunks where she’d hit it repeatedly. Even as he watched, she took another few jabs adding to the masonry damage.

 

He cleared his throat, “I suppose you hate me right now.”

 

Buffy straightened her back and stopped with her work out, but didn’t turn in his direction. Instead she looked straight up at the ceiling and took deep regular breaths before releasing them with a slight hiss.

 

“You know that I love Dawn.”

 

“I know,” she replied after several heartbeats of silence.

 

Finally she turned around and Watcher and Slayer stared at each other across the room. They were both torn between the history of their close relationship and resentment and hurt over being on opposite sides of what might need to be done.

 

“But I’ve taken an oath to protect this sorry world,” he continued. His eyes held only a deep sadness. “And sometimes that means saying things… even doing things… that other people can’t. What they shouldn’t have to.”

 

“You know if you go near her, I’ll stop you,” she said.

 

He nodded, weary. “I know. Maybe with the extra muscle and some good luck we can retrieve Dawn.”

 

“I’m tired, Giles. I’m twenty years old going on eighty.”

 

“You have been through a lot.”

 

“Every apocalypse… every demon plot… even stupid government programs. I’ve stopped them all; I’ve always won.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I gave up Angel for the world. I loved him so much. But I knew… I was right. I had to do it.” She sighed, sounding small and exhausted. “I don’t have that anymore. I don’t understand how God, or whatever is out there, can keep expecting me to do these things. I don’t see what the point is. Why keep fighting if everyone ends up being stripped away?”

 

Buffy walked over to where Giles stood against the wall and leaned on it as well. “I don’t hate you. I’ll stop you even if it means we die later, but that doesn’t mean I hate you.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Giles said. “I care about you as deeply as any daughter I could have. I’ve told you this, in so many words. But I have a duty.”

 

“I know.”

 

He sighed and removed his glasses, pressing his fingers and thumb against his eye lids. “I feel old, too. As old as dry bone, sometimes.”

 

“You may have stopped her, you know,” Buffy said, but there was no real belief in her voice.

 

“I didn’t. We both know that,” Giles said wearily. “There’s something bigger at work here.”

 

“The First Slayer told me that ‘death is my gift’. I guess that means I’m just a killer, after all.”

 

“I don’t believe that.”

 

“It doesn’t matter. I won’t give what she wanted. The thing about a gift is that you can decide not to give it away. If Dawn dies, that’s it. I’ll put my fists down and close my eyes, Giles. I’ll let it happen, I’ll follow her to wherever we end up,” Buffy said, glancing at him with tears in her eyes.

 

He didn’t know how to respond.

 

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End Chapter 21

 

 

kaiju

Chapter 22

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.

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Battling with a God

Ch 22 – Escapes and Promises

 

“Let me go, let go of me, please,” Anya pleaded with Xander. Tears glinted in her eyes and fell down her face, tearing him apart. “Stop this treachery!”

 

Giles and Buffy entered from the back room with both of them looking uncomfortable. They seemed to separate by some unspoken agreement, like boxers returning to their corners. Giles stood off from the rest of the group, watching.

 

His eyes seem so sad…, so empty, Tara thought. Are we really going to do this? Turn on each other over Dawn? Could he really try to hurt her?

 

Buffy walked over and kneeled beside Willow, speaking in low whispers. The red head was pointing out command strings on the laptop and gesturing between the robots.

 

Spike was the only one to hear Buffy beg Willow not to let Giles hurt Dawn, even if she needed to use a spell on him. And he was the only one who caught Willow nervously chew her lower lip and her guilty glance at Giles before turning back to her screen.

 

She didn’t answer, he noted. I’ll have to watch out for her as well as the Watcher.

 

The whole gang was beginning to split at the seams, it seemed. They’d done this before, but they’d rallied, showed him a thing or two and defeated the Initiative Cyborg’s plans. Now he feared that Glory would get what she wanted while the others were busy watching for treachery among each other.

 

His gaze centered on Xander Harris, trying to calm poor, deluded demon-girl. He made no move to help him, as he’d shown in the camper that his presence wasn’t appreciated by Anya. Instead he thought of how he and the man had just gotten to the point of admitting they weren’t ‘just friends’. That Xander had been the one who’d had the courage to lay it out on the line filled him with admiration. The same feeling that probably had led him to fall for the human in the first place. And yet, he hadn’t returned the sentiment when Xan had blurted out the ‘L-word’. Maybe he should have done so. Maybe there wouldn’t be another chance, but he couldn’t say it. Not right now; not when he might have to watch Xander’s life snuffed out in this battle for Dawn.

 

He turned away and went out into the alley to light another cigarette.

 

We’re going to have to talk about the vampire thing, he thought. If we get through this; if he insists on being part of the action, I’ll need to know if he really wants death over staying with me as one of the Aurelius. If there’s any doubt, I’ll turn him… I know I will. I’m not strong.  I’ll make excuses that it wasn’t clear, even though I know what I know and I’ll turn him. He needs to say it out loud to my face in no uncertain terms that he never wants me to try.

 

If he just survives this….

 

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Ben stood near the door, gesturing for Dawn to remain quiet. In his hand, he held a loose plank of wood, the best weapon they could locate in the area.

 

“Granier! Help me… Dawn …she…!”

 

As expected the Jawa came rushing into the office, not taking the time to call for his brethren. And just as planned, Ben bashed his head before he could yell an alarm.

 

He turned to Dawn, “There was a time when I wouldn’t raise a hand to anyone.”

 

“Let’s go,” she said, giving him a little push toward the door. Not that she didn’t have sympathy, with him being a doctor and all. But the last thing she needed right now was for him to start second guessing doing what he had to do to get her out of there and back to Buffy.

 

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Spike heard the footsteps behind him long before the male voice spoke. He was standing at the end of the alley, looking out on Main Street which seemed unusually deserted. Perhaps because of Giles’ magic storm from earlier, or perhaps like him, the residents could feel the tension in the air. Like the world was holding its breath and waiting to see what would happen next. Would there be five billion sighs of relief or just screams of horror and death?

 

“I’d like to speak to you.”

 

“If it’s about Dawn, I agree with Buffy. I know you can’t fathom it, Rupert, but I care…, truly care, for her.”

 

“Then you’ll see to it that it’s quick,” Giles said. “If we cannot save her, you’ll be able to make it instant.”

 

Spike turned around and dropped his smoke, smashing it into the dirt with his heavy boot. He wanted to tell Giles to sod off. He wanted to grab the man by the lapels and shake him, rage at him and threaten him. He didn’t do these things and it reminded him that he was still a demon. Because much as he adored the littlest Summers, he could see Giles’ point clearly. If the world ended, Dawn would die… most likely, anyway. And she might not die quick and clean. There were plenty of demons out there who could use a young virgin for nefarious purposes… either for ritual or personal satisfaction. He knew that as well as anyone, unfortunately.

 

“If I thought Dawn might suffer…, but just to close Glory’s portal? No. Besides, the chip won’t allow that to happen, anyway,” Spike shrugged.

 

“You strike me as someone who wouldn’t allow it to stop you if you really wanted to do something, Spike. It may hurt after, but you’ll more likely than not end up dead along with the rest of us, anyway.”

 

“I’m already dead.”

 

“You know what I mean. Once gods and full demons break through, they’re not going to welcome hybrids such as you. And would you really wish to live in that world, anyway? Knowing that Xander, Dawn, even Buffy have been ripped to pieces? Or would that be the perfect world for you, after all,” Giles said with no malice.

 

Spike’s ‘game face’ sprang forward, anyway. “Any world where Xander and Dawn were dead wouldn’t be one I’d revel in, ‘Old Man’. Watch your tongue, Watcher,” he nearly growled. He pushed around Giles to head back into the destroyed shop. And although he didn’t slow his step or react in any way, he heard perfectly Giles’ sighed response. As the human knew he would, of course.

 

“And if it was a world where only one of them had to die?”

 

Giles heard the heavy tread of Spike stomp back into the former Magic Box behind him. He remained out in the warm, humid air and looked at the empty night around him. Behind the façade of calm he hoped he was projecting, his soul felt like it was shriveling. His heart had already broke and now the pieces were like shards of glass grinding and slicing him up inside. No one could really think he wanted to harm a fifteen year old girl? They must know how horrifying the very thought was, how repugnant. But did they really think they could allow the entire world and countless other dimensions, let’s not forget, to die also just for one person?

 

He sighed out into the night and leaned against cool, wet brick, feeling utterly and totally alone. Is this what Travers feels? Have I judged him too harshly in the past?

 

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“I can depend on you,” Buffy questioned.

 

“Of course. But you don’t really think…?” Xander shrugged. He didn’t even want to say the words.

 

“I don’t know. I hope it won’t come down to it.”

 

“Don’t worry,” he laid a hand on hers. “If Dawn gets cut, we all die. You know I’d follow you anywhere… even if it’s into the end.”

 

“How’s Anya,” Buffy asked to keep her self from tearing up.

 

“She’s got a bee in her bonnet about something. I wish we had her medication. Do you think another sleepy spell would be safe?”

 

“I wouldn’t, Xan.” Buffy leaned in front of Anya who kept repeating ‘it’s nearly time’ in a strange flat voice. She swallowed over the lump in her throat. “I’m sorry, Anya. But soon, the witches will have their chance to fix this. I promise.”

 

“Buffy,” Willow called out. “I’ve got the Buffybot programmed. But April needs something more, uh, combat-appropriate to wear. She’s not going to be much help with that slut-skirt getting in the way.”

 

“I’ll head back to the house. I want to grab a few axes for you guys, anyway. Spike?” She turned to see the vampire watching them all. “You’re with me.”

 

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Dawn was hunkered down as much as she could while still walking, trying to crouch beside Ben where no one would see her. She knew how pointless it was. And she felt silly doing it, but it was like instinct was overriding her common sense. She just wanted to appear as small as possible until he’d gotten her out of wherever they were.

 

“What’s that,” she whispered as her eyes caught sight of some huge metallic thing. It was like a tower of junk that creaked and groaned in the breeze.

 

“Glory’s scabs have been having her victims build it. I think that’s where they’re going to…. Where they were going to do the, uh, ritual. C’mon…, hurry up.”

 

As they snuck around a corner of the office they’d just been in, Ben dropped to his knees and began working at the cheap mesh fence. He yanked and pulled at it until they could slip under it on their bellies.

 

As Dawn felt her shirt and pants soaking through with muddy water, she grimaced involuntarily. She didn’t complain, however. Anything was better than where she was.

 

From behind them, just as Ben made it through behind her, came the shouts of alarm. One of the minions; Dawn recognized the voice but didn’t know their names, began calling out for help.

 

“Damn! We’re busted,” Ben yelled while yanking on her arm. “Let’s run!”

 

He didn’t need to tell her twice.

 

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Buffy and Spike passed a pensive and silent Giles near the alley’s mouth. Buffy almost didn’t acknowledge him, but she couldn’t do that to him. Despite the fact she couldn’t trust him right now there was too much respect and affection between them.

 

“We’re heading to the house for weapons. We won’t be long,” Buffy said, trying to hide the hurt and anger that was still inside her.

 

“Be careful,” he said. He sounded like he always did, like Watcher and Slayer might not be coming to blows in a few hours.

 

A few hours and either I’ll save Dawn or fail her, she thought as her heart began hammering against her ribs.

 

“I doubt that Glorificus will have her minions out looking for us,” Giles continued. “But it’s best not to assume.”

 

“Yeah. We’ll be careful,” she responded. “Try to figure out a way to locate Dawnie while we’re gone. And Giles? I want you here when I get back.”

 

“I’m not an assassin sneaking off into the night, Buffy,” Giles said, sounding hurt.

 

She turned without acknowledging his pain. Beside her, Spike kept his silence until they were three blocks from the store.

 

“You think we can trust him?”

 

“As long as there’s a chance to get Dawn to safety, he’ll take it. He won’t back stab me by going off to find her on his own.” Her tone was flat; unfeeling. She couldn’t afford the emotions right now, so like a good Slayer, she began to lock them all up deep inside.

 

“I may need to kill him.”

 

“If he comes for Dawn, I’ll stop him. You’re to keep your hands off him, Spike. He’s still Giles.” She tried not to think about the part of him that she barely knew and didn’t want to. The ‘Ripper’ who’d she seen during the Band Candy Incident. The one that had taken dark magicks and gone toe to toe with a Hellgod and lived, but her memory was too good sometimes.

 

“You’re shivering,” Spike noted. He’d also caught the change in her heart rate.

 

“It’s adrenaline. I’m fine. How’re you doing?”

 

“Stunned that you’d be the one to ask, for one. But I’m ready for the fight.”

 

“We won’t all make it,” he heard. Her voice had dropped near a whisper. Even so, he caught the slight tremor in her voice. Anyone else might have thought she’d gone cold…, battle ready, the perfect Slayer. His enhanced hearing picked up the slightest variance in her voice, however.

 

“I’m ready,” he repeated. “Always knew I’d go down fighting. It’s the way I’d want it. Of course, I always thought it would be against a do-gooder, not on the side of one.”

 

They walked the rest of the way in silence until they reached the front walk of the Summers’ house. As they made their way up to the front door, Buffy cleared a lump in her throat.

 

“I’m counting on you,” she said. “If I’m one of the casualties? I’m counting on you to get to her. To get her out of there and hide her.”

 

“Unless I go down fighting first.”

 

She cleared her throat again after they’d entered her mother’s home and made her way up a few of the stairs to the second floor. “Even…, even if it’s Xander in trouble. I need you to put Dawn first.”

 

She lifted her gaze from the carpeting where she’d been staring and met his surprised look. He hadn’t gotten what she’d been leading to.

 

“If it’s Xander or Dawn,” she repeated her point, “I need you to get Dawn.”

 

Spike paused a moment before nodding his head. “Xan wouldn’t want it any other way, anyway.”

 

She turned to make her way back up the stairs again. Again she stopped, this time because Spike spoke. He needed to say something and time was growing shorter far too fast.

 

“Why haven’t you threatened me? ‘If you hurt Xander, etcetera, etcetera’.”

 

She turned and looked him in the eyes. Looking deeper than he ever thought she’d looked at him before. Finally she nodded, seemingly satisfied with whatever she thought she saw.

 

“When it comes to my family, I trust you. Xander is my family. You won’t hurt him,” she said simply, like it was a forgone conclusion that was so obvious it didn’t need explaining.

 

He went to reply, but found himself swallowing over an unaccustomed lump in his throat.

 

“I’ll be down in a minute,” she said. “The hand axes are in the living room chest. Assuming my ‘visitors’ from earlier didn’t take everything before coming after us.”

 

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Ben pulled Dawn into an alleyway, eliciting a gasp of surprise from her. His hand quickly covered her mouth.

 

“Shh! They’re nearby,” he whispered. “I can sense them.”

 

Dawn thought Ben might have gone a bit crazy, until minutes later when she heard two of their pursuer’s voices. Ben flattened himself against the wall by her side and they shared worried glances as they listened to Glory’s assistants complaining to one another.

 

Apparently, Glory was likely to skin them alive if they didn’t find Dawn and quickly.

 

Good, she thought.

 

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End Chapter 22

 

kaiju

Ch 23

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.

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Battling with a God

Ch 23 – Listening to Anya

 

Buffy came downstairs ten minutes after she’d gone up. She was changed into loose fitting cargo pants and a top that allowed her maximum freedom of movement. In her hands were Mr. Pointy and a set of clothing, presumably for April.

 

“Don’t think the stake’s going to be useful,” Spike pointed out. His arms were laden with hand axes.

 

“I’m not planning on using it,” she said. “We need to make a stop on our way back. It’ll be quick.”

 

“It’s getting late,” Spike pointed out. “We should get this show on the road before the sun comes out and I’m forced from the fight.”

 

“It’ll just be a minute. I need to do something.”

 

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Dawn backed away, Ben behind her with an arm around her chest. In front of them, three of the damned Glory-butt kissers were creeping forward.

 

“Sir, we really need to be going. It’s nearly time to begin,” Ginx pleaded.

 

“Get away from us,” Ben glowered.

 

“Sir, please…,” Granier begged. Time was so short and he wanted to go home nearly as badly as Glorificus the Mighty One did.

 

“Don’t worry Dawn,” Ben said, “They won’t dare hurt either one of us.”

 

“If we don’t begin the anointing in the next hour, all will be for naught,” Ginx whined.

 

From behind Dawn, Ben shivered, temporarily releasing her. She spun around when she heard him grunt, worrying that he’d run into something behind them. Unfortunately, it was still Sunnydale and vampires could still be sneaking around the shadows. Instead she found herself facing Glory, her face falling in defeat. She knew immediately that poor Ben had been forced to go away again.

 

“Don’t hurt her,” Glory menaced, surprising her. “She’s just a little girl!”

 

The three minions stood sharing wide eyed glances with each other.

 

“Your Most Divine,” Ginx said gently, “We must get back to the tower to start your ritual. To, uh, to go home, remember?”

 

“Y-yeah… yeah, I… what the hell did I almost do?!”

 

She sounded more like her old self and Dawn’s rising spirits again fell. Glory’s hard hand fell on her shoulder with a painful grip and she bit her lip to keep from gasping in pain. She wanted to show these bastards that she could be strong.

 

“Benji is starting to really screw up my brain,” Glory complained. “And he tried to release her! I… I can remember… everything. What he was trying, what he felt… everything! What’s happening?”

 

“It’s just because the time to leave this place is near,” Ginx said, as if speaking to a child. “Mighty One, you must put Ben from your mind. He’ll only confuse you.”

 

“R-right… but I’m feeling… I feel something. It’s unpleasant. I don’t like it.”

 

“Maybe it’s guilt,” Dawn said meanly.

 

“Wow. I think you may be right,” Glory said. “Ew! Guilt sucks!”

 

“Ignore it Your Most Glorious You,” Granier pleaded with her. “It’s a trick! That’s all it is, just an illusion to keep you from going home.”

 

Glory gave Dawn a hard shove and she found herself flung into one of the dwarves’ arms. He squeezed her arms a little more tightly than necessary and she could already feel the bruises forming. Her finger was killing her and a sense of helplessness threatened to overwhelm any more resistance, but she steadfastly fought it. She needed to keep her mind working, looking for a means of escape.

 

“Are you doing this,” Glory yelled at her. “You’re doing this to me! Trying to make me let you go…, you and Ben. Well, forget it Key. You can try to make me feel as bad as you want. I’m still going to have my guys slicing into you! Get her out of here. I want her anointed the second we get back.”

 

The minion who had Dawn gave her a rough yank and the group started marching back toward the construction site. Dawn couldn’t stop more tears leaking from her eyes.

 

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“Okay, I think I’m done,” Willow said, looking over her lines of code one last time. “I hope I didn’t confuse them.”

 

“I’m sure you did good honey,” Tara said over her shoulder. “We don’t need them to be exact duplicates of Slayers. They just need to know who to hit.”

 

“I tried to include some team tactics,” Willow worried at her lower lip. “I hope they’ll work cooperatively instead of trying to beat on each other.”

 

“Don’t obsess, Wills,” Xander smiled. “We’re kinda running out of time here. What about the Orb or Sphere or whatever?”

 

“I’m going to have Buffybot carry it,” Willow said. “We’ll have her face off against Glory first. Maybe the Dagon Sphere will do something useful to her.”

 

“It hasn’t done much so far,” Xander pointed out.

 

“Yeah, but she didn’t go down in the basement, so maybe it did. Maybe if we can… I don’t know… touch her with it?”

 

“Anything is worth a try at this point,” Tara sighed.

 

On the sofa, Anya began to fidget, “I should be there. I should be.”

 

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Spike followed along just behind Buffy allowing her to lead him where she wanted to go. She seemed pensive, wound tight. He wanted to ask her what was so important that she’d take time out of their rather tight schedule, but something internal told him to remain quiet.

 

They came to a cemetery and Buffy took a sharp left, entering under its arched entryway. Spike frowned; it was a hell of a time to want to put in some vampire slaying. The comment on his tongue seemed to stick in his craw when he glanced up at the arch. It read, ‘Sunshine Hills’ in large iron, block letters.

 

Ahead of him, Buffy was walking fast and with purpose. He hung back far enough away that he wouldn’t intrude on her privacy. He knew where she was headed and, in general terms, why she wanted to visit this place once more before the fight to come.

 

He hopped up onto a grave stone thirty yards away and watched as she knelt down before a particular grave. She rested one hand on the grave’s marker and was whispering something which he couldn’t hear. It was why he’d hung back so far; he wanted her to have this moment for herself.

 

After only a few minutes she pulled out the stake from her jacket’s pocket. She looked at it for several more seconds before gently laying it down at her mother’s headstone. He watched as she placed her fingers to her lips and then pressed these to the stone before returning to her feet.

 

She didn’t look at him as she passed him on the way to the cemetery’s exit and he fell into lockstep behind her.

 

“The stake,” he whispered, afraid of bothering her, but curious. “It’s okay if it’s private.”

 

“I’m not going to the rescue as the Slayer. This is a family thing. I… I just wanted her to know. I’m still being a true sister.”

 

“I have another favor to ask,” she stated after a few more moments of silence. “It’s a big one and if you can’t handle it, then you have to tell me so I can give it to somebody else before we reach Glory.”

 

“I accept. Whatever it is,” he said.

 

“You might want to hear it first.”

 

“Don’t need to. Whatever you need, but I wish you’d stop acting like this is the end.”

 

“Just covering the bases,” she sighed. “If I don’t make it, I want you to try to get Angel’s ring back. It’s in the R.V. wreck. I want you to take it back to him. I need him to know. I kept it close to me.”

 

Spike didn’t say anything. He couldn’t stop the mean-spirited grimace that came to his lips every time that Angel came into the picture. Still, she was the Slayer and she needed him to do this, so he would.

 

“Spike? I can ask one of the gang.”

 

“No. I’ll retrieve it. I’ll give it to Angel, personally. But I’m only agreeing because I’m not going to have to actually do it. You’re a survivor.”

 

“This one is different. I feel it,” she turned her head just enough to encourage him to catch her eye. “Remember our talk in The Bronze? I think you were wrong. I don’t think they welcomed it, Spike. I think they just knew: this was the way it was meant to happen.”

 

He scoffed to hide his fear. He didn’t like at all where this was leading. “That sounds defeatist. If you think you’re going to lose, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

 

“I know, Guinan. That’s not what’s happening here,” she grinned at him. “That was one of the few Star Trek episodes I’ll admit to seeing with Xander.” (1)

 

“Damn,” he smirked. “I was sure I could borrow it and you wouldn’t know where I’d gotten it.”

 

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Dawn was roughly shoved back into the construction office, hitting her broken finger against the wall. She clutched it to her chest and glared at the dwarf until he slammed the door and then started whimpering again.

 

“Buffy… where are you?”

 

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Buffy and Spike returned to the Magic Box to see the Buffybot and Aprilbot standing at attention. Xander was holding Anya and stroking her hair. Giles, Willow and Tara were discussing something a few feet from the others.

 

“Ah, Buffy, good,” Giles said. “We have a plan of attack.”

 

“How about finding where Dawn is?”

 

“Anya,” Xander said. His entire demeanor screamed how much he didn’t like this plan. “She’ll know where to go.”

 

Buffy felt sympathy for Xander’s plight. She knew how much he cared for her and that, if necessary, he’d spend the rest of his life making sure she was taken care of and protected. She didn’t have time for those feelings however, so they went unexpressed.

 

“Then let’s get moving,” she said instead with determination.

 

“Anya… sweetheart, shouldn’t you be somewhere,” Xander said softly. He made sure to establish eye contact with her to gain her attention. “She needs you, right?”

 

It tore at his heart to do this. To place her in danger after what she’d already suffered. But her only chance at recovery was to get her next to Glory so that Willow could perform the powerful spell that Tara had located.

 

“You better go. You don’t want to be late for her,” he forced himself to choke out.

 

“The rabbits keep me here! They tie me with their whiskers and paw me until I fall,” Anya whined with a few tears in her eyes.

 

“No rabbits will stop you, honey. It’s okay… you should hurry,” Xander said again, feeling like shit.

 

Anya looked at him questioningly, her eyes full of innocence. He nodded in encouragement and watched as she took off at a stride for the alleyway door.

 

“Keep an eye on her Xan, but don’t get too close. We don’t want her distracted,” Buffy murmured. She wasn’t feeling any better about doing this to Anya than he. She’d do worse though, if it meant saving her sister.

 

“You’re a killer!” Anya was pointing at Giles, causing him a look of discomfort. “This is written,” she nodded her head once emphatically. “It’s written,” she murmured as she headed out into the night.

 

Once Anya and Xander had gone out, he grabbing an axe from Spike as he went, Buffy looked over the others. Buffybot had her ubiquitous smile, but otherwise remained looking her twin. Next to her, April only glowered. Willow and Tara were having her change her clothing and Buffy looked away to meet Giles’ glance.

 

“You can fill me in on the plan on the way. But remember this,” she directed to everyone, but kept her eyes on Giles. “If Dawn bleeds, we all die. And I will hurt anyone who comes near her.”

 

Buffy turned and trudged downstairs. Giles hesitated a moment and then went toward the alley door. He took the long handled ax that Spike offered him.

 

“Not exactly the most inspiring speech,” Spike muttered.

 

“I would have preferred something from Winston Churchill,” Giles said.

 

‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength’, Spike replied to Giles’ surprised glance. (2)

 

Spike next gave the last of the weapons to Tara and Willow. He would be battling with fist and fang to get to Dawn, wherever they had her tied up. The robots had their own strength and shouldn’t need weapons, besides which, axes weren’t going to mean squat to Glory. Buffy had returned from the basement, carrying a Troll hammer. They shared a glance at one another and she took a deep breath to steel herself. Then she went out the alley door. He followed the others out, bringing up the rear and thought of Xander.

 

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End Chapter 23

 

 

(1) “Best of Both Worlds Part II” Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4. Guinan made this point to Commander Riker after Captain Picard’s abduction by the Borg.

 

(2) Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940 as transcribed by historyplace(dot)com.

 

 

 

kaiju

(no subject)

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.

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Battling with a God

Ch 24 – Battle Royale

 

Xander followed five feet behind Anya as she trudged down the middle of the street. She hung a sharp right on Sixth and he started to recognize where she was headed. He knew that there was another construction company working at Sixth and Iris on a custom boutique project. His boss had mentioned bidding on it before he’d been more successful with the mall job. It was largely empty still with plenty of space for portal opening.

 

He glanced behind him to make sure the others were there. They were, back about ten feet or so. Spike quickly jogged up and joined him.

 

“She’s headed for that new construction site,” Spike said.

 

“Yeah, but how’d you know?”

 

“Wandering. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands at night, you know. Willow better get her ass up here; she’s going to have to act fast,” he reached down and gave Xander’s hand a brief squeeze. “And you watch your back. I haven’t had a chance to plunder that virgin ass, yet,” he smirked.

 

“Very romantic,” Xander deadpanned. “I hope you’re not letting that be your last words to me before all hell breaks loose.”

 

Spike only smirked more.

 

“Ass,” Xander grinned.

 

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In the construction office, Glory stood over Dawn as the dwarves pulled her clothing off of her. In the god’s hands was an old-time dress. The kind that a fairy tale princess might wear in the King’s Court. It was made of dark blue velvet and had ivory stitching. Symbols in blood red material were sewn down the arms and along the dress’ hemline. There was lace at the wrists and along the neckline that annoyed Dawn’s skin.

 

“I can get dressed on my own,” she complained. The imps weren’t touching her inappropriately, or anything, but their skin was rough and scratchy. She thought they could really use some industrial strength hand lotion.

 

“I don’t have time for you to putter around.”

 

Dawn’s forehead had already been anointed with oil. It smelled like a combination of olive oil and a lavender scent. It made her eyes water a little and her skin burn a bit, like there might have been hot pepper oil or something in it as well.

 

Once the gnomes had the dress on her and done up the back, Glory directed them to take her to the tower.

 

“Wait!” Dawn yelled at them.

 

“What is it,” Glory sighed. “Look, kid, I’m sorry this is the way it has to be, alright? Which is weird, since I’m supposed to be above all that. But, honestly, we don’t have time to play right now.”

 

“I just want…,” Dawn reached out and took her clothes from the dwarves. She carefully folded them neatly, despite the fact they desperately needed a washing machine. Walking over to the chair in the middle of the room, she placed them in a neat pile. She was currently barefoot (another part of the ritual that seemed without any real purpose) so she placed her sneakers under the chair. She hoped Buffy would find them, that maybe she’d know that Dawn was brave this way.

 

“Okay, enough of this stalling,” Glory said. “Grab her.”

 

Dawn struggled, but the minions had her outnumbered and out muscled. They dragged her toward the tower and Dawn started to shake. The whole thing looked like it wanted to fall on her head. She couldn’t make herself believe what they were going to risk, until they began to yank her up the stairs.

 

“Are you guys crazy,” she screamed. “This whole thing is going to fall apart! It was built by crazy people!”

 

Glory’s worshippers didn’t reply, but Dawn caught the fear in their eyes. They were just as worried about the tower’s less than specs construction as she was.

 

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As expected, Anya turned toward the construction yard and quickened her pace. The gang had caught up with Spike and Xander and they were all now hurrying, as well.

 

“You’re up, Willow,” Buffy said.

 

“Good luck, Wills,” Xander had taken her hand in a brief squeeze as she went to rush past.

 

“I’ll get Anya back,” she said with determination.

 

She dashed across the street as the others followed, keeping one eye open for Glory while trying to keep Anya in sight. As she had hoped, Xander’s ex was making a direct beeline for her. Willow kept her eyes roaming, but with so much activity, no one seemed to be paying her any attention.

 

She watched as Anya picked up a plank of wood and headed for the most unsafe looking tower she’d ever seen. The whole thing was swaying back and forth in the wind and making ominous groaning and metallic squealing sounds. It was as if the whole thing wanted to crash down at any moment and judging by the way it looked, that could’ve well been the case.

 

As Willow watched, Glory noted Anya’s presence. She had a thoughtful frown on her face and then she began to move through the crowd between them, shoving aside the rest of the crazies roughly. Willow made her move.

 

“What are you doing here,” Glory demanded of Anya, yanking the wood plank from her.

 

“She’s with me,” Willow angrily replied. Sticking one hand on Glory’s head and one on Anya’s, she was disconcerted when she felt her fingers slide into their skulls.

 

Permissum sanitas no ex suum ut erus, she thought. At nearly the same time she intoned, “Let Anya’s spirit return from its exile!”

 

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As Buffy, Giles, Tara and the robots stormed into the construction yard, they could see white swirling light around Willow, Glory and Anya’s heads. The light seemed to merge and separate in a complicated dance around the figures.

 

Willow was grimacing with obvious effort as she tried to manage the strain. Glory was screaming as her body violently shook, her hands reflexively clenched at her side. Anya’s mouth was also opened as if she were yelling out in pain, but no sound issued from her. Her face was lined with strain as well and tears were streaming from her eyes.

 

Behind the others, Xander grabbed Spike suddenly, “I’ve got an idea. It’s not a tank, but it might be almost as good.”

 

“Be careful,” Spike yelled as Xander disappeared around the side of the yard’s street-side wooden fence. He then dashed into the yard proper to see where he could help the most.

 

The light show culminated in a massive burst of white light. The three participants in the mind spell were flung backward violently away from each other. Glory was thrown into a pile of bricks, knocking down two of the mentally raped that were gathering them while Anya collided with a stack of two by fours. She fell to the ground unmoving.

 

“Robots, get Glory,” Buffy commanded, sending them to engage her.

 

Giles ran for Anya to check her condition, but ended up being grabbed by three of the mental patients. He began to lash out with a fist and the flat of his ax.

 

Willow!” Tara took off at a run for Willow’s prone form. A minion in its brown robe ran to intercept her with a dagger, but she muttered a bit of Latin and the Guev found itself tripped up by an invisible force.

 

In front of Spike, a group of four more humans looking dazed rushed him. He grimaced, knowing how fast he’d be rendered useless if he tried to hit any of them. As they approached to within a few feet of him, he concentrated his energies. A moment later and he’d leaped clear over their heads, alighting on the ground behind them. A Glory-minion tried to intercept him, but he used his momentum against him, sending him crashing into the human mob behind him. He was pleased to find that the chip didn’t react to that as a deliberate attack on the confused people.

 

Rushing to Anya’s side, he checked for a pulse. With a quick glance to make sure there wasn’t an attacker coming up behind him, he shook her as gently as he knew how. She stirred, and met his eyes.

 

“Spike? Spike, where are we? What’s going on? Where’s Xander at?”

 

“Nice to have you back, Demon-Girl. Stay down, we’re in the middle of the showdown with Glory,” he said. He leaped back to his feet and looked for the nearest body he could hit, vamping out at the same time.

 

While Spike began to engage in fist to dagger combat with a minion, Anya crawled away. Not to hide however, she was looking for something to use as a club… something in a crowbar, maybe.

 

I may not be a Vengeance Demon anymore, but nobody violates me and gets away with it, she glared at the chaos around her.

 

As Spike was bringing Anya around, Tara was working on doing the same for Willow. Two minions again approached them, but Tara muttered another incantation, and they fell to the ground covered in itching, burning boils.

 

“No one hurts my girl,” she shouted at them before returning to lightly slapping at Willow’s face and pleading with her to rouse herself.

 

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Buffy followed behind the robots, before taking a detour around a supplies shed. As she made her way behind Glory, she heard the Buffybot confront the god.

 

“You don’t look very well, Glory. Anything I can help you with?”

 

Glory grunted, rubbing at her head. “My head… that witch… a hole. There’s a hole in my brain. What did that bitch do to me? …You! Guess I could use another brain about now.”

 

“Well, feel free to borrow mine, if you can take it.”

 

“Oh, I’m taking it alright you stupid, little tramp.”

 

“I hear a lot of talking,” Buffybot replied, “But not seeing a lot of action. Whereas in your position, I probably would have been attacking me by now.”

 

“It’s… that witch… my head,” Glory shook it, trying to clear the fogginess that seemed to be making it hard for her to think all of the sudden.

 

“Oh, I don’t think it’s Willow. It might be this,” Buffybot brought the Dagon’s Sphere around from behind her back. “Rumor has it that it’s supposed to repel you, or something.”

 

“I-if you think that bauble is going to stop me…,” Glory looked on the globe with worry.

 

“I was actually thinking if you’re not supposed to get near it, you probably shouldn’t touch it either.” The Buffybot tossed the orb at Glory. She didn’t understand why or how it was doing anything. It was all illogical to her, but Willow’s instructions were clear, so she followed them.

 

Glory reflexively reached out a hand and caught the Sphere, immediately grimacing. Her cry of pain brought satisfaction to both of the Buffies. Behind Glory, April approached while Buffy began to scan for Dawn’s holding place.

 

Buffy(bot) marched up to Glory, who was able to crush the Dagon Sphere in her fist. She didn’t like what it had done to her. She felt slower, weaker and the hole in her head was still making it hard for her to think. This isn’t right! I’m a God! I can’t be brought low, like this, she silently raged. At least until she received a punch to her face, followed by a strong kick to her gut.

 

“If you think that was enough to stop me…,” Glory was cut off by a double fisted punch from Buffybot.

 

As she spun around, a second set of fists plowed into the side of her face.

 

“Hey! Who the hell are you,” she gritted between her teeth at a short, dark haired girl with a scowl.

 

“I’m Faith, the Vampire Slayer,” Aprilbot exclaimed. “And you are history!”

 

The newly minted Faithbot high kicked Glory to the face while behind her Buffybot was grabbing at her arms. The robots tag teamed her, just as Willow had hoped.

 

They weren’t really hurting her unfortunately, however. And Glory was beginning to shake off the effects of the Sphere. With a kick of her own, she sent ‘Faith’ flying several feet to crash into a roll on the ground. She spun around, effectively breaking ‘Buffy’s’ grip on her and punched the robot in the face. It should have taken off her head, but Glory was still weakened, somewhat, and the robot rolled with the hit.

 

“You know, I’m starting to feel a whole lot better,” Glory menaced. “Now, about that brain….”

 

Unknown to Glory, Buffy and her hammer had taken Aprilbot’s place. Behind them both, the robot was just coming around after re-routing some minor damage.

 

“I’m sorry,” Buffybot was saying, “I’m not really in the mood to give anymo—squirk—mpph.” The robot’s neck sent out a shower of sparks as another punch by Glory, this time, did send the head flying from its body.

 

Glory looked at ‘Buffy’ in amused amazement. “Hey! The Slayer is a robot! Did anyone else know Buffy was a robot?” She naturally didn’t receive a reply. Everyone was too busy fighting the Scooby Gang.

 

Behind her she heard someone clear her throat, “Glory?”

 

The Hellgod spun around, recognizing Buffy’s voice. She saw Buffy swing something that looked large and then the pain was registering on her jaw and she felt herself propelled through the air. She slammed into an outbuilding’s corrugated steel wall.

 

“You’re really not the brightest god in the heavens, now are you,” Buffy muttered, not caring whether Glory heard her or not. Again she was searching for any sign of Dawn when she heard her sister’s screams from up above her. Way up above her, in fact.

 

No, the ritual, she thought in a panic and ran for the tower’s stairs.

 

She met Aprilbot as she rushed toward the tower. “Keep her busy,” she exclaimed, pointing over her shoulder.

 

“No problem, B. It’ll be 5 by 5,” Aprilbot nearly growled out.

 

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Buffy ran through the crowd, occasionally striking at a dazed human who tried to grab at her. She made it to the stairs, only to see two of Glory’s twits with daggers drawn standing in the way. A few jabs and throws and they were quickly sent to the ground.

 

Far behind, April was straddling Glory and pounding at her face.

 

“Okay, that does it,” Glory responded. She grabbed the other Slayer’s arms (And where the hell did she come from, she thought) and threw her off. Looking around at the pandemonium, she caught a brief flash of blonde hair streaming in the wind and heading up the stairs toward her Key.

 

“Oh, hell no, you don’t!” She took off after Buffy.

 

Around her, the minions and the converts were fighting with Buffy’s pals. She wished she had time to deal with them. Nothing would have given her more satisfaction than showing Buffy her friend’s bloody limbs before snapping her neck. But time was wasting and it was very close to the moment when the Key needed to open her doorway. She ignored her minions’ cries for help and ran up the stairway.

 

Behind her and hot on her heels ran ‘Faith’.

 

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On the ground surrounding the tower, furious battles were ongoing in small clusters. Tara was on the ground now, kneeling in exhaustion as she fired spell after incantation after shielding energy. Willow was roused now and had never been so impressed with her girlfriend. It was like she was possessed, only the good kind where she was kicking demon ass.

 

“I don’t have much left,” Tara groaned.

 

“It’s okay, baby. I can take over,” Willow’s eyes went briefly dark. She sent a large cloud of force and watched in triumph as dozens of converts and three of Glory’s minions went flying. They all landed roughly six feet away. She smiled at Tara… and then collapsed again.

 

“Will!”

 

“I’m okay. But, uh, I’m not as recovered as I thought. I think we better find somewhere more out of the way.”

 

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Giles blocked two dagger strikes with the long handle of his ax. Immediately he followed up by stomping on one of the minions toes. As that one screeched and fell back on its butt, he swung his ax in a wide arc. Goro’s head flew off of his shoulders, the stump of his neck shooting a wide arc of dark, thick and black blood in a geyser. Grono immediately backtracked on its hands and feet, yelling for mercy.

 

Giles threw his ax, impaling Grono through the face. The imp fell to the ground with a pained groan of shock and then expired. Giles’ feeling of triumph was short lived as one of the mentally sucked slammed him in the stomach with a piece of board, causing him to fall to the ground. The crazy immediately tackled him and Giles found himself struggling to keep the man from biting him in his face.

 

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Xander sat in the cab of a wrecking ball truck, frustrated. He’d been able to start the engine but there were so many levers and switches. This had seemed like such a good idea, but now he just felt useless and stupid. He’d never driven one of these things; in fact, he’d never had one at the sites he’d worked at even.

 

Don’t sweat it, Hyena piped in. You can do this, Xander! Just take a deep breath and look… really look at the controls. They’re laid out in a way that would make sense, you just need to relax and see the pattern.

 

Xander did as Hyena suggested. He closed his eyes and tried to block out the sounds of combat, the thoughts of his friends in danger, the fear that they were bleeding or dying while he sat here. When he opened his eyes again, he saw that Hyena was right. They did make a logical pattern. He put the rig in drive and smashed through a cheap fence. Testing the ball by swinging it back and forth and higher and lower for a few moments, he looked around the chaotic site.

 

“Now where is that Hellbitch? I’ve got a little surprise!”

 

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Spike had just broken the neck of Granier when he found himself tackled from behind. Lashing out, he felt his elbow connect with the nose of something. Turning around, he found himself surrounded and being piled on by a group of humans. One of these was lying in the dirt, holding his bloody nose and groaning.

 

Chip don’t work as long as I don’t know what I’m hitting, he realized. Unfortunately, ignorance was no longer possible and the moment he grabbed the wrists of a grasping set of hands, the chip starting buzzing painfully.

 

Bugger!

 

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“Buffy,” Dawn screamed. She could just barely make out human figures climbing toward her up the Tower. Even though the details weren’t clear, she recognized the Goddess of Skank and her sister. There was another one behind them, but she didn’t know who.

 

Movement caught her attention and she raised her head. At the foot of the extended ramp on which they’d tied her, stood one of the minions. It might have been Guev or maybe, Ginx… it was hard to keep them straight.

 

“Stop all that struggling, Dearie. It won’t help,” Ginx said nastily as she approached the Key.

 

“Please, please, just let me go,” Dawn whimpered.

 

“And deny her Most Luscious and Brilliant Luminescence from taking us home?” The goblin barked out a short laughter. “It’s almost time. Just play the hand you’re dealt, Dawn. Show a little bit of backbone.”

 

She smiled evilly and pulled out a short, jeweled dagger.

 

“No! No… Buffy!” Dawn yanked at the ropes binding her wrist, but they refused to break. She watched wide eyed and terrorized as the female minion got closer and closer with the blade.

 

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Buffy was midway up the stairs when she heard her sister’s screams. There was one last level after which the stairs ended and she would have to climb the ladders provided. She was just ascending onto this level when Glory appeared in front of her and swung her fist, hitting her in the abdomen, hard. Buffy felt something tear in her middle, but managed to swing the Troll hammer, anyway. It connected with Glory’s jaw, eliciting a surprised grunt from her, but even that didn’t stop her. Glory kicked her into the scaffolding. As she bounced off, she shoved out in front of her with the hammer, slamming Glory in the chest and causing her to stumble backward. Above her, Dawn continued to scream for her. They exchanged a few more blows with Buffy careful not to let herself get hit quite so hard again. Her middle was screaming in protest, but she ignored the pain and concentrated on Dawn’s voice above her.

 

Glory again lashed out, this time hitting her wrist. Losing her grip on the hammer, she watched it go flying. It went tumbling out into the air off of the tower until its momentum was halted as it got wrapped up in hanging chains. Buffy knocked Glory away and went to retrieve the hammer.

 

Glory watched Buffy go for the mystic weapon. Grabbing another piece of chain, she used it to swing out into the air and around the side of her tower. Kicking Buffy aside as she stretched out to reach the hammer, Glory again returned to the scaffolding. Winding up a fist, she lashed out at the Slayer again, watching her spin around as she just managed to connect with her jaw. Smiling viciously now, and almost having fun except for the time table she was under, she side kicked the girl in the back, sending her flying face first into a pylon. Glory raced behind her, intending on grabbing her head and smashing it into the metal post, but the Slayer spun on her heel too quickly. Glory barely managed to avoid a swinging fist. (1)

 

As she bent below her fist, Buffy reacted by kicking upward, catching the god in the face. As her opponent’s head shot up and back, she jumped up. Buffy grabbed the flooring above her and swung herself backward out into the empty air. Returning, she gave Glory a two footed kick, again connecting to her face and sending her right into Aprilbot, who’d managed to catch up with the fighters.

 

As ‘Faith’ began wrestling the god away, Buffy again made a dash for Olaf’s hammer. Her middle was killing her, but she couldn’t let it slow her down. She was sure that she’d torn something though and only hoped that she’d last long enough to get to Dawn.

 

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On the ground below, Xander had gotten the rig into position where he’d be able to get to it quickly. He jumped from the cab, ax in hand and went looking for a fight. He hoped he hadn’t wasted his time, but felt a strange confidence that the huge iron ball and chain was going to be needed. He felt guided by something.

 

Returning to the battlefront, he punched out an old woman with an iron pipe, feeling horrible about it.

 

But really, old lady versus bashed skull? Not much of a choice, he grimaced.

 

Coming around a corner, he saw Spike rolled into a ball. Human thralls of Glory had him pinned to the ground and were kicking and punching at him. Some had makeshift clubs, but most were using their hands and feet and nails and teeth.

 

Spike was holding his head. Even as Xander watched, he saw the vampire shove a young man several feet and immediately howl with the chip frying his brain for it.

 

A haze of red seemed to come down over his vision. He felt Hyena’s outrage and the need for bloodshed, for vengeance, was nearly overpowering.

 

Don’t kill them, they’re victims too, he thought at her. And then he loosened her reins.

 

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Giles had found himself near Tara, Willow and Anya who’d managed to congregate together. They were being pushed back away from Glory’s tower and Dawn. So far, no one seemed seriously injured.

 

“Anya,” he questioned.

 

“It worked. I’m back. Now where is that ‘god’, she owes me a pint of blood. Or more!”

 

“Y-yes, well… right now, I think we need to concentrate on not being brained,” he said. A brick flew in from somewhere and glanced off of his head. Immediately his scalp split open and blood rushed down the side of his head.

 

“Giles,” Tara yelled.

 

“I’m alright! Get down,” he yelled as he pushed the girls behind a stack of crates. Glory’s victims stood laughing maniacally and raining bricks at them. “There’s too many of them. Where’s Buffy… did she make it to Dawn?”

 

None of them knew the answer.

 

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End Chapter 24

(1) Most of the preceding blow by blow came from Twiztv(dot)com’s script transcription.