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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.
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,”
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.
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.
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,”
“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.”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
End Chapter 21