Summary: Buffy and Co. go to the Temple; hellacious battle ensues. Who'da thunk it...
Notes: This is the last installment of this story. Maybe now the headaches will stop...
Disclaimer: It's all theirs. All of it. Drunk with power, they took it away from us. Bad People! Bad, bad, evil people!
WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO NOW? PART V
Chapter the First
Buffy Summers was in love.
So was Dawn. In love with Rome. Duncan and Kate had spent the day showing them the sights. Not just the usual touristy sights, but the real Rome. By the end of the day, they both agreed that they felt comfortable here. At home. When Buffy had made a comment to Dawn about finishing school, Duncan had bragged about the schools and universities that Rome had to offer, and promised to add them to the tour the next day.
Dawn had grumbled a bit at the thought of going back to school, but was already enamored of the city to the point that she didn't grumble for long.
A rare thing, for her.
After a late supper at a little cafe that Duncan recommended, the four headed back to the hotel Adam had taken them to. Buffy had already made up her mind to come back to Rome when the battle with Glory was over. If they were still alive, anyway.
They had rented four interconnected suites that had a common sitting room. They found Willow, Giles, Kennedy, Adam and Andrew gathered around Willow's laptop. There were a few others sitting around the room, but most of the group had already crashed. Kennedy threw an offhanded wave in Buffy's direction and nudged Willow to let her know the group had arrived.
Willow glanced up. "Oh, hiya guys. Been checking messages. And hey, guess what? Apparently Glory's possessed a Slayer and done a lot of damage in LA."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Wowee, big news there. Anything a little more informative?"
Giles sighed. "Yes. She killed several Slayers and two witches at the Hyperion. Seems she'd been there for a few weeks. She also killed Teddy."
He stood and looked Buffy in the eye. "And Amanda."
Dawn collapsed into a nearby chair. "OhmiGod, not Amanda! She can't be dead!" She began to weep uncontrollably, gulping for breath. Buffy went over and hugged her sister fiercely, fighting back her own tears. They had both liked Amanda a great deal.
Duncan and Kate stood off to one side, ready to offer comfort, but not wanting to intrude. Willow was sobbing again herself, and even Kennedy was starting to choke up. Giles gave everyone a few minutes to get themselves under control, including himself, before speaking up again.
"Angel and Wesley think Glory took the knowledge of the location of Watcher safehouses from Teddy's mind, and sent a warning that Glory might be on her way. They managed to track her as far as the airport, where she boarded a flight to London. Beyond that, they don't have any further relevant information."
"Other than a list of the dead." Willow was having trouble keeping her emotions in check. Somewhere deep down, she could feel the Darkness roiling, wanting... no, needing revenge. She was fighting it down with everything she had. I've come too far to slip back into the Dark now. Giles was giving her an odd look, but turned away when he caught her looking back.
Buffy took a deep breath and cleared her throat. "Send Angel a message. Tell him what happened and that we've moved, but don't tell him where. Glory might have gotten the info about the safehouses from Teddy, but he couldn't have known which one we were at. And she figured that out mighty quick like."
Giles looked up, concerned. "You think there's a leak at Wolfram & Hart?"
Buffy shrugged. "Dunno, but it sure seems like a likely spot. From now on, let's be extra careful about what we tell Angel and his people. I trust them, but I don't trust the people they're working with." She glanced around the room. "Agreed?"
Giles nodded. "Agreed." The rest of the group nodded or voiced their agreement. It might mean giving up some valuable help in the coming fight, but they'd just have to risk it.
Buffy stood and pulled Dawn to her feet. "Good. 'Cause at this point, I think sleep would definitely be of the good."
As she and Dawn started walking to their room, she caught Adam's eye. "Oh, did you kiddies get what you went for?"
"Yes, Willow and your Slayer friends were a great help."
Willow shot him a dirty look. "A little more info going in would be nice the next time." It had gotten... messy.
"Sorry," Adam said with an indifferent shrug.
Buffy smiled tiredly. I sense a story there, but it'll hafta wait till morning."
Willow gave a little wave. "No problem, Buff. Rest up, 'cause you're not gonna believe the story we've got to tell you."
Buffy nodded and led her sister into their room.
Once again, it was time to grieve for their lost.
Chapter the Second
Dawn Summers was angry.
No, make that enraged. Her grief of the night before had turned into a cold fire that refused to die. The battle with Glory had always been personal, but Glory's actions at the hyperion had escalated it to something beyond.
And now Dawn was more certain than ever that she was going to finish things with the Hellgoddess once and for all.
One way or the other.
It was now about much more than the regular old 'saving the world' thing. Now it was about vengeance. For all of them, but especially for Amanda.
Her friends could sense her rage, especially Willow. They all wanted to keep her from slipping into darkness as Willow had, but in truth, she didn't seem to be losing control. If anything, her control was getting stronger.
When Willow raised her concerns, there was an uncomfortable silence. Duncan finally cleared his throat. "Sometimes, rage can be a good thing," he said quietly.
Willow looked at him askance. "Good? How can rage be good? When I let my rage take me, I went all apocalypse-y and almost destroyed the world!"
Duncan started to smile, but stopped when he saw how serious she was. He still had trouble believing that this shy young woman had come within a hairsbreadth of destroying the world. He thought for a second. "Blind rage is never good. But controlled rage, that's different. It can provide a focus, a clarity that otherwise be unattainable. I know that I don't know Dawn as well as the rest of you, but I do know what I'm seeing right now. Focus and control. She's pinned her pain and rage squarely on Glory. She's calmly and rationally trying to figure out the next move. Focus and control."
He shrugged and leaned back against the doorframe. "I would so definitely not want to be in Glory's shoes right now."
Giles nodded in agreement. "I believe he's right. While I certainly think we need to keep a close watch on Dawn, I see no sign that she's losing control. In strict point of fact, there are others that I'm more concerned about." He was looking intently at Willow as he said the last.
"Who, me?" Willow tried to look shocked.
"Yes. You know I could sense it Willow."
Willow squirmed as the rest of the group looked at her uncertainly. "Okay, maybe just for a minute there. I was mad. And hurt. But did I go all dark and veiny? I think not. Calm, cool and collected, that's me."
"Of course you didn't. But you've got to keep it in mind, Willow. You've come so far, and accomplished so much, but the darkness will always be there, lurking just under the surface. You can't ever forget that."
Willow nodded, mumbling to herself.
Xander piped up. "So, what, you're sayin' that our resident Goddess could still go all Dark Jedi on us? 'Cause Will, if you do, it's somebody elses turn to stare you down and get zapped."
There was some laughter at that. "Don't worry, Xander. That's someone elses job now." She gave Kennedy's hand a squeeze.
Dawn walked in just then, green energy drifting off of her. "Glory's coming this way, but I don't think she knows exactly where we are yet. I'm shielding us, but I think maybe we need to sort out the next move and get outa Dodge before she gets here and trashes the place."
Giles stood up and started cleaning his glasses. "Err, right. I believe Adam had some information he wanted to relay to the rest of us."
"Um, Giles, I think I can save us a little time here." Willow stood next to him. "Everybody just relax and clear your minds. I'm gonna try and link all of us."
Fifteen minutes later, Adam had retold his story from the day before, plus a great deal more that he had since remembered, and a plan of action had been formulated.
One hour after that, the packing was done. Ten minutes later, they teleported out on the next leg of their journey.
Two hours and sixteen minutes after that, Glory arrived. She was not a happy camper. But she had the scent now. And what's more, she was pretty sure she knew where they were headed.
So after feeding on two maids and a bell-boy, she headed out again.
Chapter the Third
They had to make the trip in hops.
Adam had remembered that there was an anti-teleportation ward around the temple. It was impossible to teleport closer than two hundred miles from the temple, so they had gone to a city where they thought they would be able to acquire some means of transport. No luck. So they hopped to another town, and then another before they were finally able to buy two large military transport trucks and enough supplies for the trip.
They were only three hundred and twenty miles from the temple as the crow flies, but in the mountainous terrain, it was closer to five hundred miles that they would have to travel.
And while the vehicles they had acquired were sturdy and reliable, they were most assuredly lacking in creature comforts. It had taken Dawn all of twenty minutes to start complaining, and it wasn't long after that that she was joined by, well, everybody. Giles had finally shouted at them all to either shut up or walk. They shut up.
"Are we there yet?" Dawn asked for the umpteenth time.
A chorus of irritated 'No's!' came back at her.
Willow had offered to do a simple levitation spell to help smooth out the ride, but Adam promptly put the kibosh on that idea. "This close, any magycks, no matter how minor, will be detected," he said.
"So? What happens then?" Willow was willing to risk it. She was sure she had a splinter wedged in her posterior.
"What happens then, my dear, is that the Guardians of the Temple come hunting for the magyck user, and kill the magyck user. And anyone else that happens to be nearby."
Willow settled back onto the bench, a sheepish expression creeping across her face. "Oh. Never mind, then." She turned to Buffy. "Remember that panic-y packing list we were talking about?"
"Pillows. Big, soft pillows. On the list ahead of the bikinis and the suntan lotion. Very important."
Adam tried to hide his grin.
Xander grit his teeth as the truck bounced through yet another huge pothole. "I'd let ya sit on my lap, Will, but then you'd get all concussified from the bouncing your skull off the ceiling."
"Can't have a concussified Goddess," said Buffy.
"Nope. Wouldn't do at all." Dawn was stifling a giggle.
"Be all cross-eyed, zap the wrong person..." Kennedy ducked as Willow went to smack her upside the head. "Sorry, sorry..."
Willow tried to get comfortable, only to be thrown completely off the bench when the truck hit a particularly deep hole.
"Grumble grumble ha bloody ha grumble ow grumble grumble see how funny they think it is when they've got a huge splinter in their butt grumble grumble..."
She'd no more than settled back on the bench when they were all thrown to the floor in a heap as the truck bounced over a rock fall. Dawn pushed Vi off of her and sat up, irked.
"Are we there yet?"
Chapter the Fourth
Two nights later, they were camped near a small stream they had happened upon. The next day would be the last leg of their journey to the Temple, and it was agreed to stop early to give everyone a chance to get some rest without be bounced and jostled in the back of the trucks. It also provided an opportunity to go over the Big Plan one last time.
Kennedy had lured Willow over to the stream by offering to help her scrub those hard to reach spots, but the icy water had quickly convinced them that all they really needed was to splash some water on their faces, and back to camp they went.
Giles had sent everyone out to find firewood, and soon a fire was crackling happily away as the group huddled in close to fend off the chill of the night mountain air. He and Adam were rehashing the plan for the fifth or sixth time. Adam was speaking. "Okay, so after we find the tunnel, we go in real quiet-like, up the stairs until we come to the third landing, right?"
A chorus of tired 'yeahs' and 'rights' drifted up.
"Right. That's where we use the scroll and the key. I read the spell on the scroll, and when the barrier drops, we use the key to open the door. This way, we come in the back door without setting off the protective wards around the place. Right?"
Again, the tired 'rights' and 'yeahs'.
"Because, if those wards are activated while we're outside, we'll never get inside. Because the only other way we might have used would have been closed up after Amanda's ill-fated expedition."
"Oh, sure. Blame me." Amanda affected a hurt expression.
Duncan grinned. "Don't we always?"
Adam grinned as well. "Only because it usually is her fault."
Amanda stuck her tongue out at the two of them. "Fine. I shall simply ignore the both of you, and go to sleep."
Giles chuckled a bit as laughter quietly made its way around the fire. "Yes, er, once we're inside, we need to take out any defenses and search for whatever information they might have on hand concerning Glory. We shall also need to secure the Hellmouth."
Buffy pulled a face. "Soooo don't need that opening up. Haven't seen the big-many-headed-snake-beasty in four years or so, ain't in any hurry to see him again."
"And to that, let me just say 'Amen, sister'," said Xander.
Willow slugged him in the arm. "What're you talkin' about? The last time Junior made an appearance, you weren't even there. As I recall, you were gettin' all horizontal-like with Faith."
"That was before it actually got there. And it wasn't so much horizontal as it was all over the room. And I was too there. Just down in the basement, stopping a bomb from going off. Incidentally keeping said bomb from killing all of you."
Dawn and Vi were both staring at Xander. "All over the room?"
Buffy was staring daggers at Xander. "Err, umm, right. Story for another campfire. Years and years from now." Xander threw his empty water bottle at Willow, who was giggling so hard she was having trouble breathing.
Giles was cleaning his glasses and trying extremely hard to get the picture that was running laps around his brain to go away. "Yes, err, past exploits and Slayer Gymnastics aside, we don't really know what might come out of this Hellmouth if it were to open. We know that not only did the snake creature come out of the one in Sunnydale, but the Turok-Han did as well."
Duncan leaned towards Andrew. "Turok-Han?"
"Uber-vamps." He made a 'Grrr-Arrgh' face.
Giles went on, ignoring the exchange. "We could easily get one, or both, here. Or something entirely new. We simply have no way of knowing, so it behooves us to ensure that it remains closed."
One of the newer Slayers, a sixteen year old girl named Brittany that they had found while they were still in LA, raised her hand. "Um, what if we get there, and Glory is already there?"
Giles shuffled his feet and traded a worried look with Buffy before answering. "Then I suppose we shall have to fight. But there is no reason to suspect that she knows where we're going, or that she knows about the Temple. Dawn, have you felt anything of Glory?"
Dawn looked a bit puzzled. "No, not for the last day or so. For a while, it felt like she was kinda following behind us, then she just kinda faded away. I dunno what happened."
"Oh. Well, do let us know if you fell anything further, won't you?"
"You know it, G-Man." She gave him a thumbs up.
"Xander, you're being entirely too much of a bad influence on that girl."
Xander smiled as he gave Dawn a thumbs up. "Nahhh, she's a natural."
Giles walked over to his sleeping bag, shaking his head and muttering to himself. "Doomed. Yes. Doomed."
Buffy stood up and stretched the kinks from her stiff back. "Okay, Noelle, you and I have the first watch. Kennedy and Willow the next. Everybody get some sleep. We should be there tomorrow afternoon. And that's when the fun begins."
Willow grumbled as she and Kennedy zipped their sleeping bags together. "'Fun', she says. Always knew she had a screwed up idea of fun. Must be a Slayer thing. Is it a Slayer thing?"
Kennedy shrugged, half asleep alreadly. "Dunno. Maybe. Ask me again a coupla days from now."
Willow sighed and snuggled in close, trying to stay warm. She had been getting a funny feeling all day, like something big was about to happen. She was sure that there was something more waiting for them at the Temple than they were figuring on. Oh, Goddess, please let Dawn and I be ready for this!
Chapter the Fifth
Shortly after noon the next day, Adam pulled the truck he was driving to a stop and signalled Giles to do the same. They were parked in the shadows beneath a massive outcropping at the base of a steep cliff. The road weary passengers happily climbed down from the trucks and stretched the kinks from equally road weary muscles.
Dawn, being Dawn, couldn't resist.
"Are we there yet?"
Amid the groans this oft repeated question elicited, Adam answered her. "Nearly. We have to go the rest of the way on foot. Time to gear up."
The weapons and supplies were unloaded, checked, and distributed. Duncan paused in sharpening his katana as Buffy began carefully unwrapping the package she'd kept near her since they had left the keep in Scotland. "What's that?"
"It probably has some fancy name like 'Excalibur' or 'Stanley', but we just call it the Scythe. Good for slicing, dicing and making Julianned demon." She gave the gleaming weapon a few experimental twirls, making it sing and whistle through the brisk mountain air. "Somebody made it for the Slayers a long time ago, but I only found it a few months ago. Had to take it away from Caleb. Willow used it to facilitate the spell that awakened all the Slayers. It made it possible for us to beat the Uber-vamps and the First."
Buffy slung the Scythe across her back and started stashing an assortment of knives and stakes. "Hopefully, it'll work just as well on whatever nasties are waiting on us up there."
Duncan slipped his katana into a sheath strapped across his back. He already had two pistols and a shotgun, as well as a number of stakes and assorted other weapons secreted on his person. Everybody was going in loaded for bear.
Giles and Adam gathered the group together. Adam looked them over, smiling slightly as he listened to the banter amongst them. "Okay, this is it. Giles, Willow and I will go first. It'll have to be me that reads the scroll and turns the key. Anyone else, and the wards activate. Slayers and Immortals, split into the teams like we planned. Dawn, please cover our backsides. This will put our two greatest power dealers front and back. Remember, no magic unless there is no other choice. That'll bring the wards and guards down on us faster than anything. We go into the tunnel and up the stairs quietly. We'll have to fight sooner or later. Let's make it later. Questions? Comments?"
Near the back, Xander could be heard. "Yeah, dude; where's the bathroom?" As he'd intended, a chuckle stirred through the group.
"Third rock to your left. Anything else?"
He looked out on a sea of determined faces. He turned to Giles and raised a questioning eyebrow.
Giles looked at each of them in turn, lingering last on Buffy, Dawn, Xander and Willow. His family. As if they hadn't been through enough in their young lives. "You all know what we've come to do. Stop Glory once and for all. I truly believe that with the group we have here, we can, and will do exactly that. And I fully expect every one of you to make it through this. I shall be exceedingly vexed with any of you that don't. So let's go to it, shall we?"
As they started their march up the mountain, Willow fell in beside Giles. "'Exceedingly vexed'?"
"Yes. Thought it sounded better than 'mad as Hell'."
"Aww, ya big tweedy mushball ya!" She gave him a quick hug, then set about not tripping over the loose stones that seemed to be everywhere.
Giles glanced back over his shoulder at the silent group following behind. Champions all, though young, so very young. Well, except for the Immortals anyway.
"We few, we happy few..."
"We band of buggered all... "Adam chimed in.
"We're off to see the Wizard... "
Adam and Giles stared at Willow. She shrugged. "Sorry. Dunno what the rest of yours is."
Half an hour later, they came to the entrance of the tunnel, right where Adam had said it would be. Flashlights were broken out, and in they went.
And then up.
And up some more, until they finally came to the third landing and what looked for all the world like a rock wall.
Xander looked up at it from where he'd collapsed on the stairs. "So, whadda we do now? Smack it with a staff and say 'Melon'?"
Dawn smacked him in the arm. "Don't think they spoke Elvish back then, Xand."
"Actually, there were still few who did," Adam said absently over his shoulder as he, Giles and Willow went over the scroll one last time.
"You didn't think he just made that whole story up, did you? I do quite miss old Mithrandir..." He ignored the gaping mouths and bulging eyes.
"Okay, let's do this." He held the scroll up and started reciting in what Andrew had described as proto- proto Tuaric. The outline of a door slowly faded into view with a keyhole appearing last. Adam quickly inserted the key, first turning it ninety degrees to the left, then one hundred eighty degrees to the right. The great stone doorway ground open silently. More stairs could be seen leading upwards.
"Swell! More stairs!" Willow took a swig from her canteen, then squared her shoulders. "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's up the neverending stairs we go!"
On they went.
Until finally they came to the end of the stairs and another stone door. Adam threw Willow a grin, stepped up close to it and whispered "Melon."
As the door began to open just as quietly as the previous one had, Xander could be heard mumbling; "Oh, you have got to be kidding me..."
Chapter the Sixth
The door was hidden behind a tapestry. Adam and Giles carefully snuck a look around the edge, then ducked back into the stairwell. The group was quietly making a final check of their weapons.
"Okay, it's all clear. Everybody remember your teams?" Nods all around. "Good we're here to find a way to stop Glory. Avoid contact with the enemy unless their is no other option. Dawn and Willow, you two especially need to keep it reined in. Everybody clear?" More nods.
"Really startin' to wish I'da used that third rock from the left right about now," Xander mumbled.
Several heartfelt 'me too's' could be heard. Giles grinned. "Well, I did tell you to go before we left." He turned to Adam, who was watching the corridor beyond the tapestry. "Still clear?"
"Well, I suppose their's nothing for it but to get on with it." They started filing through the door, splitting into two teams. Giles' team consisted of Buffy, Dawn, Amanda, Andrew, Caridad, Bethany and six other Slayers. Adam took Willow, Kennedy, Duncan, Kate, Vi, Chao-Ahn, Noelle, Brittany, four other Slayers and a young wicca named Moira. Team Librarian (Buffy and Dawn had giggled endlessly when they had insisted on the name. Giles had simply rolled his eyes and accepted it in good grace) went left while Team Methos headed off to the right.
Amanda was finding it difficult to keep her thieving instincts in check. Everywhere she looked, there was something priceless just laying about. Maybe on the way out. I'll get Dawn to give me a hand...
Both teams were making for the same destination, where Adam thought the ancient texts about Glorificus would most likely be located, but they were taking different routes. Just in case.
Their destination was a large room that Adam had described as a combination museum, library and trophy room. It had been in this room that a great mant of the Horsemen's spoils had been kept.
It was also directly above the Hellmouth.
Xander had complained; "Oh, c'mon, how cliched are we gonna get? Another Hellmouth under another library? Who writes these scripts, anyway?"
As Adam and his team crept up on an intersecting corridor, Chao-Ahn put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. She whispered vampires in her native tongue, which Adam spoke fluently. He motioned the rest of the group to a halt.
Vi stepped in close and whispered "What'd she say?"
"Vampires. Coming down the corridor." He motioned for them to find cover. Chao-Ahn, Vi and Duncan held position near the corner, weapons ready. Seven vamps walked past the intersection, talking and laughing amongst themselves. The last one paused, sniffing.
Turning, he caught a glimpse of Vi's red hair. "Intruders!" He morphed into game face and leapt for Vi, calling out to the other vamps. Duncan took its head off with one quick stroke, and before the dust had hit the floor, the other six exploded into clouds of dust from a hail of crossbow bolts.
They stood there for a few seconds, waiting and wondering if an alarm would sound. It stayed quiet. Willow let out an exaggerated "Whew!"
They moved on.
Team Librarian had run into four Dagharra demons, and had dispatched them almost as quickly. So far, everything was going quite well. So, of course Giles expected it all to go straight to Hell, and fairly soon. Wouldn't want to break tradition now, would we?
They reached the door to the library without meeting any further resistance. Giles laid his hand on the handle and cast an inquiring look at Buffy. At her nod, he threw the door open and Team Librarian rushed into the room at almost the same moment as Team Methos.
Buffy smiled and waved at Willow. "Toldja we'd beat you here. Pay up."
Willow snorted. "Oh right, by what, a jillionth of a second?"
"First's first. Ten bucks baby, right here!" She held out her hand palm up and wiggled her fingers. Willow rolled her eyes and dug a ten dolar bill out of her pocket.
"Nobody likes a greedy Slayer," Willow said as Buffy did an 'I've-got-money-so-now-I'm-a-happy-camper' dance.
Giles fought down a snicker and turned to Adam. "So, where do we start looking?"
A voice drifted over from the shadows in the corner. "How's about right here?"
Glory slowly stepped into the light.
Giles would later swear that his blood actually froze at the sound of her voice.
Glory smirked at the stunned group standing before her.
"Didja miss me?"
Chapter the Seventh
The Scythe appeared in Buffy's hands as if by magic as she placed herself between Dawn and Glory. The rest of the group quickly spread out and surrounded Glory. She took it all in with a bemused expression.
She made one full turn, checking out the competition, stopping when she got back around to Buffy. "Oh, puh-leez. This is the best you could come up with?"
Buffy smirked. "They are the best."
Dawn stood next to her sister defiantly. "More'n we need to take down a skanky-ass biyatch like you."
Glory spared Dawn a glance. "Little sis is all growed up, huh Slayer?"
"Yup. Kinda lookin' forward to her goin' all Kamehameha on your butt, too."
"Kamehameha?" Glory smirk faded into a puzzled frown.
Andrew edged forward. "Yeah, you see, it's when..." He paused, seeing several dark stares coming in his direction. "Never mind."
Glory laughed as Buffy rolled her eyes. "Still findin' all the good help, I see."
"Said they were the best. Didn't say what they were the best at," Buffy said defensively.
"Well, he's obviously taken Patch's place as the team nerd."
Xander started to take offense at being called 'Patch', then thought better of it.
"Every team has to have at least one," Buffy stated matter-of-factly.
While this exchange was going on, Willow had reopened what Xander had named 'The Wiccan Mind Meld' with the rest of the Champions. She could sense something building up, but couldn't tell what or where.
Willow: Giles, something's about to happen.
Willow: I'm thinkin' it's about time to start worrying.
Willow: Is yes all you're gonna say?
Duncan: She's stalling.
Amanda: Gee, ya think?
Giles: Of course she's stalling. But why?
Adam: I'd imagine to give whatever it is that Willow is sensing time to build up.
Willow: Well, duh!
Dawn: Why am I suddenly flashing back on that whole 'from beneath you it devours' thing?
Willow's eyes grew big as saucers as she stared down at the floor. She could feel the Hellmouth beneath them. She closed her eyes and a vision of huge teeth dripping with blood came to her.
Suddenly, the room was bathed in white light as Willow floated up, gathering all the loose energy she could find. "Buffy, she's stalling! Somebody's trying to open the Hellmouth!"
Buffy jerked around, stunned. It almost cost her. Glory saw an opening and lunged for the distracted Slayer, only to be met by a wall a blazing green energy, followed closely by Dawn's fist. Glory sailed into, and through, the wall.
"Go take care of it! I've got her!" She shot off after Glory. Buffy stood there, vascillating between going after her sister and dealing with the Hellmouth. The decision was made for her as the floor exploded up and out, throwing everyone in the room to the floor.
A horde of Turok-Han issued forth from the Hellmouth, followed closely by what looked like the same many headed snake beasty they'd fought twice back in Sunnydale.
Buffy threw Giles a grin. "Aww, look. Junior's all growed up!" She waded into the Uber-vamps, the Scythe singing and whistling through the air. Willow started chanting a closing spell while trying to barricade Junior.
Slayers and Immortals fought back to back, wreaking a terrible toll on the Uber-vamps. Duncan caught Xander's eye. "So these are the Uber-vamps, huh?"
"Yeah. Fun, ain't they?" He was swinging a broad bladed fighting axe as fast as he could.
Duncan ran an Uber-vamp through as Kate took it's head off. "Fun, not so much the word I'm lookin' for..."
Willow finally had to concentrate fully on Junior, thrusting it back down into the gaping Hellmouth. Goddess, it still has that awful scream! She then turned her full energy to closing the seal. It was similar to the Seal of Danzalthar, but not exactly. And she didn't really have the time to find a translation of whatever writing was on the damn thing.
So she called on Gaia, and on all the light she could find, trying to close the seal with brute force.
Didn't seem to be working, though. And Junior was trying to scrabble back out. Geez.
And then, just to make things more interesting, Glory's minions and the rest of the demon population of the temple came pouring into the room.
Buffy backflipped to get away from the approaching demons, landing near Giles. They leaned on each other, trying to catch their breath. Buffy looked at the hole in the wall where Dawn had chased after Glory. Wonder how she's doing. Sure could use another dose of that demon-zapper power of hers. She turned to Giles as a thought occurred to her.
"What day is it?"
"Err... Tuesday, I believe."
"Should've known what?"
"Tuesdays. Everything always goes to Hell on Tuesdays. I hate Tuesdays. Oughta be banned..."
Giles chuckled. "It does seem that way at times, doesn't it?"
Buffy nodded, then straightened. "Caught your breath?"
"Yes. For now."
"Off we go, then."
Back into the fray they went.
Chapter the Eighth
Dawn Summers, the ancient, mystical Key made human, was wailing on the Hellgoddess Glorificus. Rather enjoying it, too.
She had chased Glory outside, hitting her with another energy burst before she could get back on her feet. She had gone after her furiously, raining blow after blow on the stunned Beast. That's for Mom! That's for Tara! That's for Spike! That's for Amanda!
She was somewhat surprised when Glory grabbed her fist mid-swing. Even more surprised when Glory landed a roundhouse right that sent her flying up the side of the mountain.
Dawn picked herself up, clutching her midriff. "Crap. That hurt." She could see Glory running up the mountain after her, fury written on her shadowed face.
Dawn braced herself, reached somewhere deep down inside, and hurled a massive blast of energy down the mountain at Glory.
Glory batted it aside as one might brush off a fly.
Dawn did her best impression of a gaffed fish. Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap...
Twenty feet down the hillside, Glory stopped and smirked. "Didn't see that comin', did you?"
Dawn just shook her head, jaw still agape.
"Good. Try this." Glory thrust her arms out, and lightning leaped from her hands, slamming into Dawn. Dawn screamed as the current tore through her. She'd never thought that anything could hurt this bad.
Dawn shook off her shock, throwing her hands up to fend off the lightning. How the Hell is she doing that oh crap another one owowow Willow I need you!
Dawn rolled behind a boulder, trying to buy some time. Through the shaky Wiccan Mind Meld, she could tell that her friends more than had their hands full. Wonderful. I'm on my own. What a great idea this was. Lightning surged through the ground around her, sending currents of pain coursing through her body. She fought it down, drew on the well deep inside, and threw out two balls of shimmering energy. She shut her eyes and concentrated, trying to keep track of them as they went on diverging courses, sending them ducking behind cover, ignoring the lightning bolts that Glory threw at them as she tried to block the attack.
Glory caught one ball with a burst, holding it quivering twenty feet away from her. She missed the second. It slammed into her left side, knocking her sideways and disrupting her concentration. The energy ball she had been holding at bay surged forward and hit her head on, throwing her back down the mountain.
Dawn came out from behind her boulder, smirking. Hafta tell Andrew that that seeker bomb idea of his actually worked. Now, where'd she go? Oh!
She had to duck as a gargantuan boulder nearly took her head off.
Dawn took to the sky as a hail of rocks, boulders, and the occasional tree came flying at her. She let loose with two more seekers, then had to concentrate on not getting pulverised. Just as the seeker bombs reached her, Glory cut loose with a sheet of lightning, knocking Dawn for a loop even as Glory herself was blown even further down the mountain.
Dawn caught herself, grimacing from the pain, and then shifted. Suddenly, she was standing right behind Glory.
"Hi there!" She let go a tremendous roundhouse right, channeling all her energy into the point of impact. There was an explosion of light as Glory was driven down into the living rock of the mountain. Dawn staggered over and leaned against a tree, gasping for breath. The power she had used up in the shift followed so closely by what she'd put into that punch had left her drained.
Dawn frowned as the ground began to tremble. Here we go... She pushed away from the tree, planting her feet firmly as she began channeling her Power.
A few seconds later, Glory burst out of the ground only to be met by Dawn's energy bolts, sending her reeling.
Dawn changed tactics, using her Power to restrain Glory, pushing her down to her knees. Her curiosity was getting the better of her.
"How're you doing it?"
"The whole 'lightning' thing. Last time I checked, you weren't the Goddess of Zappity. How're you doing it?"
Glory smirked. "Got here two days ago. Had some time to kill. Found some interesting stuff in that temple. They've been preparing for me for over three thousand years after all. So I learned some new tricks. Had to even things out, couldn't let you have all the fun."
"I think I've got a slightly different idea of fun than you do."
"Aw, c'mon Dawnie. You really gonna try to tell me that you weren't enjoying beating me to a pulp earlier? 'Cause, I'm pretty sure I saw a smile back there..."
"You've got it coming! After everything you've done, all the pain, all the death..." Dawn braced herself, digging ever deeper, finding reserves she hadn't dreamed she had.
"It's done. And I'm the one that ends it." She drew back, then let loose with her most powerful blast yet.
Half a million cubic tons of mountainside were instantly vaporised, shaking the mountain right down to its roots. on the other side of the world, seismometers registered a 9.6 earthquake. The combatants inside the temple suddenly found themselves not only having to dodge the enemy, but also the great chunks of stone and masonry that fell from the walls and ceiling.
Floating a thousand feet above the fresh crater, Dawn waited impatiently for the smoke and dust to clear. She couldn't sense Glory any more, but wanted proof that the hated Hellgoddess was well and truly dead. Finally, not being able to see any sign of her, Dawn made her way back to the temple, exhausted beyond words.
Thank God, she's finally gone...
Chapter the Ninth
Inside the temple, both sides were regrouping after the quake.
Adam was kneeling beside Noelle's body, while Duncan tried to console a weeping Buffy. Adam gently closed the young Slayer's eyes and whispered quietly over her; "To thee no star be dark, both Heaven and Earth, friend thee forever." Sighing, he gathered up his sword and stood up.
Buffy touched his arm. "That was beautiful."
"Not beautiful enough. Not for one so young and full of life." He turned his tired eyes to the demons. "I've grown tired of death. What say we finish this, hmm?"
"Absolutely." Buffy stretched her tired, aching muscles and tightened her grip on the Scythe.
Duncan and Kate shared a brief look that spoke volumes, then turned to face the horde that awaited them. "Definitely."
Xander helped Giles, who was favoring a leg wound, hobble over. "Sounds vaguely plan-like to me."
The exhausted group braced themselves for one final fight. They had wittled down the odds considerably, but the numbers were definitely not in their favor. And they were down by several warriors with the loss of Noelle, Moira, and three other Slayers. Amanda was laying off to one side, pierced through the heart as she fought to protect Willow. She would revive, of course, but not until somebody pulled out the sword that still ran through her. Willow still had her hands full with Junior, as well as an army of demons trapped behind it, all wanting nothing more than to get out of the Hellmouth to maim, torture and kill.
A hulking Ammunak demon shouted something that apparently translated as 'attack', and the horde of demons surged forward. Buffy took up a fighting stance and grit her teeth. "Here we go..."
Just as the lead demon was about to swing its axe, there came a brilliant flare of green light, and suddenly the only thing attacking them was a cloud of dust. Everyone stood there bug-eyed for a second, and then the cheering broke out.
Buffy saw Dawn standing at the Glory-shaped hole in the wall. Dawn let her hand fall to her side, threw her sister an exhausted grin, and then collapsed into a heap.
"Dawn!" Buffy ran over to her sister, more frightened now than she'd been through the whole fight. She scooped Dawn up. "Dawnie, are you okay? Honey, Dawn, answer me!"
"Hey, tired here, not deaf."
"Oh, geez, you scared the crap outa me!"
"Was kinda scared myself for a while there."
"Toast. The jam on the toast."
"Good." Buffy caught sight of Willow, still holding back the nasties in the Hellmouth. "Um, Dawn, I know you're tired and all, but Willow could really use a hand over there. Hellmouth and all that."
Dawn opened one eye and stared balefully at Willow. "Oh, man, I just wanna sleep for a week." She struggled to get to her feet. "Get me over there."
Buffy wrapped one arm around Dawn and started for Willow, gathering up Bethany as they went. More Wicca, more better, she thought.
Dawn concentrated and managed to find the thread of the Wiccan Mind Meld. What do you need us to do, Willow?
Can you hold them back while Bethany 'n me try to figure out a spell to close this damn thing?
Dawn glanced down into the gaping maw of the Hellmouth. Why hold 'em back. Let them go.
LET THEM GO? ARE YOU FREAKING NUTS?
Maybe. Trust me.
Fine, fine. But if we wind up being Junior's midday snack, I'm telling. Willow relaxed and let the barrier collapse. The confused demons hesitated momentarily, then surged up the shaft behind Junior.
Dawn floated up directly over the Hellmouth, eyes closed, green energy coruscating off of her. "Bye bye..."
She loosed another Demon Duster blast directly down into the Hellmouth, vaporising Junior along with all the demons that were following it. The energy surrounding Dawn faded, and she would have fallen into the Hellmouth but for Willow catching her and levitating her to one side.
"You okay sweetie?" Willow asked, concern filling her voice.
"Nope. Ask me again when I wake up from my nap. In a coupla weeks."
"Deal. It's my turn now, anyway." Willow let Buffy take Dawn, then turned to Bethany, Andrew and Adam. "Let's figure out how to close this."
Andrew knelt down next to the open seal. "I think I recognise this. Here's how to open it..."
"Not so much worried about that right now, Andrew." Willow's voice dripped sarcasm.
"Right. Sorry." He shifted around a little further. "Oh, here we go. Ummm, let's see..."
He knelt there for five long minutes, occasionally hmmmmming.
"Okay, I think I've got it. If I've translated his right, which I'm, like, ninety-five percent sure, okay, ninety percent, but I think it says"
Dawn sensed it a split second before it happened. She sat bolt upright. Willow! Shield, NOW!
Purplish-blue lightning played across the room and everyone in it, rendering them unconscious in seconds. All save for Dawn and Willow.
Dawn shivered at the sound of a voice she'd once again hoped she'd heard the last of.
Glory stood in the north entrance. She did not look at all happy.
"Hi there kiddies. Miss me?"
Chapter the Tenth
Glory looked like something the ocelot dragged in. Her expensive red dress was in tatters, her hair and skin were singed and covered in dirt and mud, and she was holding one of her shoes. Her left shoe. The right one was gone. Electricity crackled around her hands and played up and down her arms.
"Look at what you did to my dress!"
Dawn couldn't help it. She burst out laughing. It was just too funny.
The dark cloud that was Glory's face got even darker.
"Laugh all you want kid. I'm gonna bleed you sloooow, so very slow. Give all those Hell dimensions lotsa extra time to bleed into this one. And then there won't be anyone laughing ever again. Just beautiful, wonderful, lovely agonising pain!"
Dawn struggled to her feet, trying to find the power she knew she was going to need very soon. "Don't think so. Don't think you're gonna be bleeding me or anybody else ever again."
Glory snorted. "Pfft! Look atcha. You can barely stand. No, sweetie, I think you're pretty much done. You did good, and I'm duly impressed, but it's over."
Dawn stalled for time. She knew the power was there, she just couldn't find it. It was somewhere down... deep. Buried. "Just gettin' started, Skank-Girl. Besides, me Good-Guy, you Bad-Guy. Don't you ever watch movies or TV?"
"This is reality, Dawnie. Nobody sitting comfy in his corner office writing the big season finale here. You and that Slayer bitch took me down once, but not this time." Glory smiled sweetly. "My turn now." Glory was winding up for a full-on rant. Dawn got Willow's attention through the Wiccan Mind Meld.
Dawn: Get ready, Willow. I think we're only gonna get one shot at this.
Willow: At what?
Dawn: Umm... Dunno. Any ideas?
Willow: Ideas? You want ideas? NOW? Oh, sure, I'll just pull one offa my 'Top Ten Ways to Defeat a Hellgoddess' list. Swear I have that darn thing around here somewhere...
Willow: ...after all, I vanquish two Hellgoddess' before breakfast everyday...
Willow: ...Idea-Girl, that's me...
Willow: Eep! Um, yeah?
Dawn: Think you can stop her lightning?
Willow: Lightning? Is that what that was? And when did she get lightning powers? Not fair!
Dawn: Yeeessss... Lightning, electric megawatt deathray, whatever. Can you stop it?
Willow: Dunno. I'll try. Kinda runnin' on fumes over here.
Dawn: Me too. Get ready.
Willow: Oh, I'm ready. Ready-Gal, that's me.
Dawn: Thought you were Idea-Girl.
Willow: Shuddup, you.
Glory was still ranting, the smell of ozone growing thick as the electrical discharges grew in strength. Willow suddenly noticed the silver wristlets Glory was wearing. The silver wristlets from which the lightning seemed to be emanating...
Willow: Oh! The bracelets! Dawn, the bracelets!
Dawn: Huh? Ooohhh...
Willow concentrated on the wristlets. Think I just got an idea, Dawnie...
Dawn: 'Bout damn time.
Willow focussed on the wristlets, calling Bethany's teleportation to her mind. If I can get rid of those, then all we'll have to deal with will be her Slayer-enhanced Hellgoddess-y strength.
Dawn: And this is good news?
Willow: Well... yes. I think.
Dawn: Oooo, I just love a self assured witch. Whadda you need me to do?
Willow: Keep her distracted. I'm gonna try to teleport the bracelets to me.
Dawn: Okey-dokey. Beam 'em up, Scotty.
Willow: I can't believe you just went there.
Dawn: Me neither. Go for it.
Dawn tuned back in to Glory, who hadn't stopped ranting yet. Man, she really gets going, doesn't she? Okay, let's try this... She cut loose with two seeker bombs, then tucked and rolled to her left letting loose two more as she moved. Glory's jaw dropped in momentary surprise, then she was moving too. Glory let go with the lightning, catching three of Dawn's seekers before getting slammed by the fourth. Dawn popped up from behind a pile of rubble and caught Glory with a solid stream of green energy. Glory started pushing against the force of the beam, slowly edging her way closer to Dawn.
Dawn: Today would be nice, Willow!
Willow didn't answer. She was too busy trying to make the teleportation spell work. All the random mystical and electrical energy that Glory and Dawn were throwing off was making it difficult to focus the magyck. A white glow began to surround the wristlets as the exhausted wicca finally found her focus.
Glory hesitated when she felt a strange tingling in her wrists. She glanced down, her eyes widening at the sight of the wristlets disappearing. She looked up at Willow, enraged. "Oh, no you don't, Glinda!" She pulled out the atheme she'd kept stashed and threw it at Willow. Dawn dropped her attack and shifted herself to intercept the knife. She tried to blast it, but missed, the atheme burying itself in her left shoulder.
Dawn fell back, stunned, Willow catching her before she could strike the floor. Dawn pulled the atheme out of her shoulder, causing the blood to flow freely. As Willow tried to staunch the flow, Glory started laughing. You know, that kind of laugh. One of those nasty, evil, slightly insane laughs like every evil scientist type in every bad horror movie ever made laughed like.
"Told you I'd bleed ya, Dawnie. And by the way, thanks."
"For what?" Dawn groaned out through clenched teeth.
"For coming back here, sweetie. This room, don'tcha know, was built right over the Hellmouth for a reason."
Their seemed to be an electric charge to the air. From behind Willow and Dawn, there came a sound both of them had hoped never to hear again.
The sound of a portal opening.
"Ya see, this room, it's a focal point. It focusses the power of the Hellmouth. Makes for a really big portal."
Willow and Dawn looked back over their shoulders as a wind whipped up, stirring dust and stinging their eyes. A huge, glowing, writhing portal was forming directly over the still open Hellmouth.
Glory was beaming. She spread her arms and threw her head back, laughing maniacally. "My turn!"
Chapter the Eleventh
What's with all the racket? Buffy was slowly returning to consciousness. It was kind of like waking up after not getting anywhere near enough sleep. After an all night bender. She cracked open one eye. A dragon flew in and out of her line of sight. Ho-kay, I'm awake now!
She sat up. The first thing she saw was the portal. Oh, no. She reached over and shook Giles, who was just beginning to stir.
"Mmmmwhat, don' wanna wake up."
"Giles," she hissed. "Wake. Up. Now!"
He mumbled something, then sat bolt upright as everything came crashing back to him. "What? Where? Who? Oh, dear..."
"Oh dear is right. C'mon. We need to get everybody up and moving." She struggled to her feet, then pulled Giles up. She grabbed the Scythe as they stumbled their way towards Kennedy and Adam, who were just waking up themselves.
Kennedy took in the portal with bleary eyes. "So, this is bad, right?"
Buffy pulled Kennedy to her feet. "Oooh, yeah. All kindsa bad. Michael Jackson Bad."
Adam was casting about, looking for his sword. "More bad than you know. This hall was designed to focus the power of the Hellmouth. If we can't get that portal closed in the next few minutes, it'll become self-sustaining."
Buffy and Kennedy's eyes glazed over. Giles' mouth kept opening and closing, but no sounds were coming out. Buffy found her voice first. "Self-sustaining?"
"Yes. And then we'll never get it closed. Dimensions will overlap, running over and into each other. Forever."
Vi had stumbled over and joined them. "Whose bloody good idea was that?"
"Err, well, mine actually," Adam said sheepishly.
That earned him a great many dirty looks. Adam glared right back. "What? I was evil at the time. Seemed like fun."
"Just gotta love those evil geniuses," Xander said as he joined them. "Buff, over there, other side of the portal."
Buffy squinted against the glare. She could just make out her sister and Willow.
"Crap. Hoped she was dead." She paused, uncertain. "Anybody got any ideas? Fresh out, myself."
Adam walked over and stood next to her. "Yes. We have to get Glorificus directly between the portal and the Hellmouth. Then we have to destroy her. Completely."
"Oh, well, that's just a walk in the park, isn't it? Are you kidding me? How do we destroy a God?"
Adam closed his eyes, drawing on an ancient memory long forgotten. "'...For if The Key has not learned control of It's Power, then Dawn shall become Dusk, and Twilight shall forever fall on all The World. But if The Key has learned control, and if The Key and The White Witch can enjoin their Powers as One to hold The Beast at the Midpoint between The Portal and The Hellmouth and destroy The Beast, then The World shall be safe once again.'"
Buffy shot a glance at Giles. "Guess there was a little more to that prophecy, huh?"
She smacked Adam in the arm. "And you couldn't have mentioned that earlier?"
"Only just came back to me, actually."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Ho-kay. Bethany, you here?"
"Yes, over here." She waved from where she was hiding behind a pile of fallen masonry.
"Can you still do that 'mind-meld' thing?"
"Umm, I think so."
"Okay, we need to talk to Willow and Dawn."
Bethany concentrated, and soon Buffy could hear the buzz of everyones thoughts in her mind. Willow, Dawn, can you hear me?
Okay Adam, you've got the floor.
Adam repeated what he'd just told the others. There was a moment of silence. Glory continued basking in the glow of the still expanding portal, paying no mind to the now revived group of Champions.
Dawn: Enjoin our powers? How do we enjoin our powers?
Adam: Dunno. That's all the prophecy said.
Dawn: Swell. Juusssst swell. Vague much? Once, just once, it'd be nice if a prophecy would make with the details. 'Insert Power A into Slot B'...
Willow: Pfft. Right, 'cause that'll actually ever happen...
Giles: I know it's vague, but it's all we've got. Willow, I suggest you try to link directly with Dawn. I believe the prophecy means for the two of you to merge your powers. Separately, their not enough.
Willow: We'll give it a shot.
Willow placed her palms against Dawn's temples. "Look straight into my eyes, Dawnie. Focus on my eyes. Be one with me, Dawnie. Be with me..." Dawn's eyes slowly lost focus, until she seemed to be looking through Willow.
"Be with me..."
Suddenly, Dawn found herself in Willow's mind, living her life, sharing all her joys and pains. Felt what it had been like for the redhead to love Xander so much, but never be thought of as more than a friend, a sister. Felt the giddiness when she and Oz started dating, and the pain when he left. The indescribable joy that had been Tara. The agony of Jenny Calendar's death, and the deaths of Jesse, and Joyce, and so many others. And especially the death of Tara. Understood the depths of despair that had led her down the dark path she had taken, nearly destroying the world. The giddy, nervous realisation that she might just be falling in love with Kennedy. Felt the love that she had for these people, these Champions that had accepted her as one of their own, taking her into their company, forgiving her her mistakes, loving her for just being Willow. The pride and joy she felt living and fighting at the side of Champions.
And Willow experienced the being that was Dawn Summers. Everything that had happened over the last few years. Dawn's fear and joy when she thought that she might be a Potential, and her disappointment when she found out that she wasn't. Her insecurity that had led to her shoplifting and acting out, trying to get attention. Her shame when she realised that she wasn't being ignored because she wasn't loved, but because everyone she cared about was constantly kept busy trying to save the world. The pain of an absentee father. The agony of losing her mother. The agony of having to stand back and watch her sister jump into that portal to save her. To save the world. How good it had felt when Xander had told her how extraordinary she really was. The life before all that, the life the monks had made up for her, that she now knew to be a fabrication. And then, somewhere beneath all that...
An eternity of nothingness. The unending, never changing, every day just the same as the last Godawful boring day limbo of being a ball of mystical energy, named by some 'The Key'.
Willow: Sheesh, that was boring.
Dawn: Tell me about it. If I ever run into one of those monks again, I'm gonna give him a big ol' sloppy kiss.
Willow: I think I know what we have to do.
Dawn: Me too. Ready?
Willow: As I'll ever be.
Dawn: Our turn now...
Willow took Dawn's right hand in her left. They both started to glow, Dawn green, Willow white. The auras surrounding them began to run together, surging, white and green light merging, becoming something else, something more, a light that the Champions present would never be able to describe.
Glory finally took notice. "Huh? Whatcha doin', Dawnie? You two don't actually think you can stop me now, do you?"
"YES!" They answered her as one, in a voice that was theirs, yet not theirs. It reverberated through the room, the very sound of it making the stone tremble. Even Glory was taken aback. It was like hearing the Voice of God.
She quickly returned to her usual cocky self. "Well, bring it on then."
"OKAY." Suddenly, Willow and Dawn were behind her, still hand in hand. Before the stunned Hellgoddess could turn they hit her with an explosive burst of energy, thrusting her between the portal and the Hellmouth, then holding her there.
"YOU GUYS MIGHT WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE," they said, still in that same God-like voice.
The rest of the group hurriedly made for the exits, but Buffy, Giles, Kennedy, Xander, Adam and Kate stopped short of the door. They had to see what happened next.
Glory was writhing around, trying desperately to free herself and screaming at Dawn and Willow. "No! You can't do this! It's my turn! My time to rule! I. Am. A GOD!"
"TIME FOR YOU TO BE A DEAD GOD." They stretched forth their free hands. A ravening bolt of brilliant energy burst forth, striking Glory with unfathomable force. Glory screamed and fought even harder to escape their grasp. Willow and Dawn pushed harder, imbuing the beam with more and more Power, digging into depths neither of them had even dreamed exsisted. Glory began to shimmer, looking like a picture going slowly out of focus as she began to discorporate.
"No! You can't do this! There's no way you monkeys can beat down a God!"
With one last horrific scream, Glory imploded in a blaze of light that temporarily blinded all those present. And then she was gone. The portal closed as the seal over the Hellmouth slammed shut. Dawn and Willow floated there, still holding hands, still glowing that indescribable color.
They said a few words in latin, and there was a flare of light on the seal as it welded itself shut.
"IT IS DONE." With that final, ground shaking pronouncement, Dawn let go of Willow's hand. The glow immediately faded away as both women collapsed.
Buffy and the rest rushed over to them. Buffy sat down and pulled Dawn into her lap, hugging her fiercely. Xander wadded up his jacket and placed it gently under Willow's head.
Dawn opened one eye and looked at her sister. "Did it work?"
"Yes! Oh, yes, that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen!"
"Good. Sleepy now. Wake me up in a couple of weeks..."
Chapter the Twelfth
Willow and Dawn slept for three days. Like the proverbial logs. Logs that snored.
Four days later, they were getting ready to leave, loading up the trucks. They'd found some relatively undamaged rooms at the far end of the temple, and had decided to rest up before heading home. They were going to have to drive back, as the two with the power to teleport the entire group announced that they were pretty much done with the heavy power usage for a while.
Amanda didn't mind all that much. It gave her time to ransack the place.
Duncan kept her from taking everything, dividing up the treasures amongst everyone, keeping the largest amount of wealth aside to invest for Giles to use in rebuilding the Watchers Council and caring for the Slayers.
Adam had helped to find several hidden rooms, some filled with treasures, others filled with all manner of magyckal and mystical goodies. Giles was like a giddy schoolboy when he found a huge cache of ancient texts. Buffy had rolled her eyes. "You can take the Watcher out of the library..."
As Duncan directed the loading of the trucks, Adam was staring back up the side of the mountain. Buffy walked over and stood next to him. "Dollar for your thoughts."
"Hmm? Oh, sorry. Do you really think the seal can never be reopened? And I thought it was a penny."
Buffy shrugged. "Inflation. It's a bitch. I asked Willow about the seal. She said the spell they worked on it should hold up against just about anything. It'd take some pretty major mojo to ever open it up again."
"But it could be opened, if someone with enough power came along?"
"Maybe. I'm a little worried about that, to tell ya the truth. Got an idea?"
"Bury it. Deep. It would still be there, of course, but harder to get at."
"Sounds good, but I'm fresh out of explosives."
They both ducked as four balls of green energy shot past their heads and up the mountainside.
"Who needs dynamite when you've got Key-Girl?" Dawn said with a smirk. High overhead, their came the sound of four explosions followed by the sound of falling rock as the Temple of D'arrsinog'auphous caved in, burying the seal beneath thousands of tons of stone.
Adam and Buffy turned to Dawn. She smiled and shrugged. "How's about we all go home now?"
Laughing, they climbed into the trucks and started the long journey back to civilisation. Buffy knew that they'd all be going off in different directions soon, but for now, they were together.
These Champions. Her family.
And they'd saved the world.
Never the End
It took me almost a year to write this story the first time around. It was fun to come back to it and fix some of my screw ups.The original postings of this story can still be seen at the Buffy Fiction Archive. I finished this right around the finale of 'Angel'. As I was finishing this story, I had already started a new one that picks up at the end of 'Not fade away' and continues this storyline called 'Did somebody say something about not fading away?'. It's still a WIP. I've been told it starts a little slow, and I have to agree, as my muse and I seemed to have had a spat, but I feel it's getting better as I go.
Yes, I was definitely channeling Dragonball Z when I wrote the fights between Glory and Dawn, but what the Hell, my son and I are huge fans. Goku rules!
Thanks to all of you that sent me feedback, it was very much appreciated.
And to all you fanfic authors out there who've written so many great stories; I blame you for everything. Now I've got the bug, and it ain't goin' away. Oh well. Keep it up! lol
As ever, All Hail the Goddess Willow!
later :-) screaminheathen69
'To thee no star be dark'