Chapter 7

Giles had concluded that 'the shrine of the dead' was the cemetery. The Scoobies waited there. Waited for the fight that the whole world would feel should it finish uninterrupted. After almost an hour, Buffy was almost beside herself with worry.

"We've got the wrong place!" she exclaimed.

Giles attempted to calm her. "Gods aren't always known to stick to schedule. They arrive in their own time."

To reinforce his argument, a figure came slowly near. As it approached, they could see it was Desupra. Still blond and beautiful - but a little less friendly.

It wasn't long before she was joined by her competitive counterpart, Spike in tow. Sadists always like to see a bloodbath - of gods or otherwise. But Buffy had the feeling from Spike's careful attitude that he had a degree of personal involvement in this fight. To him, this time, it mattered who lost.

But Spike was going to have more to do in this fight than he realized. Buffy crept through the trees lining the outside of the cemetery. She pulled Spike in, muffling his attempt at a yell, and dragged him back to the Scoobies.

Initially, it looked like it was going to be a decent job just to get him to co-operate long enough to listen, but he eventually settled down - after he saw the first step in the fight.

The gods had transformed. With vicious growls in their throats, they had grown. Big.

"Dragons," Willow squeaked.

Even in this monstrous form, they still maintained the difference in appearance. By the light of the moon, they could see that Desupra had glistening pearl scales, with golden eyes. Angry, golden eyes. Däkkah was terrifying in her difference - black, with blood-red eyes.

As the remedy to the nightmare was explained to Spike, a look of disgust crossed his face.

"You've got to be out of your bloody mind!" he yelled at them.

Willow looked at the fight to see if the gods had been deterred, by Spike's exclamation. If they'd noticed, they'd ignored it. They had drawn blood already - shiny red liquid seeping through valleys between pearly scales. Däkkah's blood was green. Willow grimaced, and looked back at Spike.

"Blood-brother to a Slayer? Bloody hell, I'd rather be staked!" he continued his raving.

Buffy glared at him. "You gonna be a whole lot worse than staked if this fight goes on! They can't destroy each other – they're essential to each other's survival!"

"And what's gonna happen to me, if I don't help you out?"

A roar sounded from one of the dragons. The fight continued.

Xander spoke up. "Däkkah has numbers in her army. Because there's only one Slayer, Desupra has the oh-so-handy gift of winning every fight she fights in. Your crypt-keeper's doomed - then where are you gonna get your happies?"

Buffy grimaced, and Giles blinked at the crudeness of the notion. Even Xander was put off by what he'd just said. Plus, the notion that was just a guess.

Lucky guess - Spike blinked, and rolled the rescue-plan over in his head.

In sight of all, Desupra reared, and brought a massive claw slashing down across Däkkah's throat, spilling dark green blood across the ground.

Spike hurriedly turned back to Buffy. "Alright. But hurry, before I pass out from disgust."

Xander didn't look too energized with the plan either. Problem - nothing to cut with. Buffy began to pull a branch from a tree near them, but Spike pulled out a piece of steel from a trenchcoat pocket and slashed his arm with it. A steel cross.

"Found it on the road," he said, in answer to their incredulous looks. "Pretty, isn't it?"

"My word," Giles said. "What else are you impervious to? Uh, immune to." He corrected himself to a more understandable term.

Spike smiled coldly. "Everything."

Däkkah screamed, a chilling sound - a dragon's scream.

"Bloody hell, get on with it!" Spike shouted to Buffy.

She slashed her palm, and taking a deep breath, closing her eyes as if this was the most hideous hell-spawn she'd ever seen, grasped Spike's wound, mixing the blood. Spike winced at Buffy's tight grip.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then a cry of fury erupted from the gods. They lashed around, struggling against invisible bonds. A great wind whipped the trees, and the Scoobies had to raise their arms over their eyes to protect them. The wind only lasted a few minutes. It became calm with the speed at which it had started. They lowered their arms.

Däkkah and Desupra still stood, but they didn't look at all in the mood for war. They looked confused, and even frightened. Before the Scoobies' eyes, the gods changed - their form reverting back to their original appearance. Desupra, or her prisoner, looked afraid, not knowing what to do with new freedom. Her face changed to relief and happiness when she saw her friend; a blue-haired teen still stunned by the transformation. The grasped each other and wept.

"This is so touching," commented Xander.

The girls grew translucent. The girl with blue hair turned to look at Spike with a sad smile. It grew harder and harder to see them, until they finally disappeared.

It was quiet. The silence was interrupted by a sharp, "Ow!" Spike had tried to pick up his cross. But now Däkkah was gone - he was back to your everyday vamp. With a non-everyday chip.

Spike saw that he'd been tricked - Däkkah was gone anyway. He started towards Buffy, but then thought better of it. He shot a withering look at her, and turned, striding away.

The Scoobies gazed across the cemetery, remembering what had just been there, and it looked as if it never had. It was an unusual thing – Buffy having to fight without all the Jackie Chan moves. This time.

"Y'know", began Xander. "There's a new girl at school."