Warning: spoilers for the Ah! My Goddess movie

Come Heaven or Hell
Part 4: Reflections of the inner self

Xander felt his head spin, the world around him swirling out of control until everything became a blur.

Reality returned with a bang, and he found himself standing in front of a large stone arch in the middle of a seemingly endless wasteland.

"Why did you do that?" Belldandy asked Mara, "Why did you bring us here?"

"You know the rules: if a goddess or demon gets involved with a mortal, they must face the Judgment Gate. You must walk through together, hand in hand." Mara smiled evilly, "But if there is the slightest doubt in your hearts, if you think, even for an instant, that your relationship might fail, then you will be cast apart, never to see each other again!"

"Kind of harsh, isn't it?" Xander blinked, "Who came up with this?"

"Lord Kami himself; he was a little more 'fire and brimstone' back then. " Mara shrugged, "And now you have been called here, you must face the Judgment Gate, or be separated instantly."

Without a word, Xander took Belldandy's hand and stepped forward.

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"Do you know where they've gone?" Buffy asked Skuld, "What's happened to them?"

"Knowing what they're like, they're probably in bed." The young goddess grabbed her school bag, "I'm going to go see Dawn. Maybe we can get our homework done early and have the rest of the weekend off."

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"So little goddess, what's it to be?" Glory asked, tapping her foot against the floor.

"If you have a plan, now would be a good time to tell me." Spike whispered into Urd's ear, "Gem of Amara or no gem of Amara, I'm not going up against something that can toss your little sister and the Slayers around like rag dolls!"

"I always have a plan, but if you ever tell Belldandy I did this, I'll do more than kill you." Urd closed her eye and crossed her arms, "Heart and soul, answer my prayer, World of Elegance!"

Spike almost tripped over his own feet as he backed away. Something was emerging from out of Urd: two wings, one pure white, while the other was jet-black.

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Xander was surprised by the view on the far side of the Judgment Gate: the wasteland had been replaced by a tropical paradise unlike anything he had ever dreamed of. He squeezed Belldandy's hand and smiled.

"I don't get it?" Mara blinked, "No one has ever passed the Judgment Gate. How did you do it?"

"I have absolute faith in Belldandy." Xander shrugged, "I only acted like I didn't to you because you said you were and old friend of Urd's, and that makes me a little worried."

"And I know I would do anything, even disobey my father, to be with Xander." Belldandy smiled, "Neither of us has ever doubted our commitment to each other."

"But then why was I sent here?" Mara looked shocked, "What is the Daimakaicho planning?"

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"You've always been one for games." Hild smiled into the phone as she leaned back in her chair, "It's one of your more, interesting, features."

"And your faith in me is one of yours, even if you are my adversary." Lord Kami chuckled, "But Glorificus has found a loophole that stops either of us from interfering directly."

"Her powers are still limited: she believes she has unsealed herself, but she is mistaken."

"Even so, she is more than a match for either of the Slayers. The Key is perhaps the only thing that can destroy Yggdrasil, and with it, everything we have worked so long to create."

"You wouldn't be the creator I know if you didn't have a plan."

"I always have a plan my dear."

"Care to tell me what it is this time? You know full well that I want Glorificus stopped as much as you do: no backwater-dimension upstart is going to upstage ME!"

"Now there's the demon I know and love. My plan is very simple: I am going to do nothing."

"Have you finally lost your mind?" Hild sat bolt upright, "What's to stop you sending in the Valkyrie?"

"I have faith that Urd, Belldandy and Skuld can haddle one missguided hell-goddess. And if they need help, they have the Slayers and their friends to help."

"As much as it pains me to say this, I will have to trust you. but I will instruct Mara to stay in Sunnydale: I want my own eyes and ears there."

"Exceptable. It's been nice talking to you again."

"I feel the same. Maybe, when this has all blow over, we can get together for a drink somewhere?"

"I have a better idea: how would you like to goto Belldandys wedding? I know Urd would love to see you again, in a non-work realated capacity."

"Are you asking me out on a date?"

"What can I say: I've spent too much time on Midguard. Well?"

"It would be nice to see Urd again after so long." Hild smiled, "I'll get back to you: I've got a call coming in from L.A. on the other line."

"I look forward to hearing from you."

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The ball of flame hit Glory in the face, knocking her back out the door and across the alley. She hit the wall with a thud, falling to the ground in shock.

Urd grabbed Spike's hand and ran for the rear exit, not stopping until they were several blocks away.

"What the bloody hell was that." The astonished vampire asked.

"World of Elegance, my angel." Urd leaned against a streetlamp, trying to get her breath back, "I'm not supposed to use her in non life-or-death situations while on Midgard."

"We were about to be attacked by a psychotic red-head who wanted to use your demon half to rip a hole in reality. How much more of a life-or-death situation do you want?"

"Yes, but there were other options: using World of Elegance should always be a last resort."

"Then why'd you let her out?"

"I'd drunk so much Sake that my power was at a very high level: I could have done a lot more damage if I wasn't careful."

"This demon side of yours, how much power would it give you?"

"Honestly, I have no idea: I chose to become a goddess rather than a demon, so it's not something I've ever explored. World of Elegance's appearance is the most outward sign of my nature: it took me a long time to get other the initial shock of seeing her for the first time, and even longer to get the courage to call her again."

"Yeah, well, you did good." Spike looked at the sun for a moment, relaxing in its warmth for the first time in hundreds of years, "We should probably head back and tell the others what happened."

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"Where did you two disappear off to?" Faith asked with a sly wink when Belldandy and Xander reappeared, "We've been looking for you."

"We had to take care of something with Mara." Xander explained, "Has Buffy calmed down?"

"Just a little: I think she's embarrassed about how she acted." Faith shrugged, "She was a little full-on."

"I'll go talk to her." Belldandy nodded, "Let her know I don't hold a grudge."

"No can-do Bell." Faith shook her head, "She's out on patrol: I think she wants to take out some pent-up frustration out of that Glory chick we ran into the other night."

To Be Continued…

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