Fates of Love
Author: BigHead /
Disclaimer: Everyone here belongs to someone else, except me. I belong to a boatload of taxes, hence no money being made
Summary: Fate has a wicked way of playing with the ones in their clutches.
Rating: Teen, for now.
Author's Notes: Thanks go to Greywizard and cmduhura, this time. And many thanks for all the reviews.
Feedback: YESSSS! PLEEEEAAAASEEE!
They were waiting for Willow to arrive so, with Dawn's help, they could open the portal to Themyscira and bring Buffy and Queen Hyppolita and her entourage directly to the ballroom and skip all the logistical troubles of bringing international dignitaries to US soil. Xander in the meantime was nursing a drink, looking around the ballroom and every face there, most of them happy and free, quite unlike his own.
"Something troubling you, my husband?" Diana asked, holding his arm in support. She could feel quite clearly through their bond that he felt a deep longing, holding his happiness at bay.
He turned to her and gave her a wan smile. "Kinda, sorta. It's... strange, our parties are usually to celebrate life and surviving another apocalypse, but they're usually also a wake, you know? I keep remembering everyone who died, and...", he shrugged.
She smiled back at him, in understanding. "I know how you feel, Xander, but remember, tonight is not one of those nights, it's time to welcome back one of our own. Come on, take me out to dance and let us scare those ghosts away for now."
"I'd like that," he said, and took her hand, dragging them both to the space reserved as a dance floor. The hired DJ was playing soft songs for the time being, and they were the only couple dancing. Around them, Xander could hear the sighs of Slayers and Watchers while they watched the couple losing themselves into one other's arms.
"Xan," a wistful voice penetrated his brain finally, making himself once again aware of the world outside Diana's arms.
"Uh? Hey, Dawn," he said with a sheepish smile, disengaging slightly from Diana. Times like these he thought that their bond rocked much, the feedback between them making him feel giddy as if on a drug-induced high. Dawn had a small smile on her face.
"Hello, little sister," Diana said as well.
"Hello, Di. Look, sorry to interrupt one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, but Willow's here," the younger brunette said.
"We were just dancing," Xander said, quite oblivious to what had happened on the dance floor.
Dawn's smile grew. "You don't have the slightest idea, do you? Anyway, Willow's here, and we want to get this party actually started, if you don't mind."
The one-eyed man looked around, noticing that the ballroom had a lot more people than when he started dancing, among them Bruce chatting with a slightly out-of-place Clark. "Bruce and Clark are here as well. When did they arrive?"
"About fifteen minutes ago," Dawn replied. "Since you were so involved, we introduced ourselves to them. He's quite the hottie, Xan," she said, trying to get a rise out of him.
"And my boss, Dawn. Plus, if Buffy learns you're putting the moves on him, I don't think he'll be a hottie for long, it's kinda hard to do with a broken jaw. Anyway, where's Willow?"
"Hyperventilating in the bathroom. Donna's in there trying to calm her down," Dawn smirked. "Apparently talking to mom is making her freak."
Diana's laughter echoed. "I'll go and try to calm her down. You, my dear, are going, how we say...mingle. Shall we?" she said, giving Xander a kiss.
Xander, Clark and Bruce were talking about magic and each other's experiences with the subject in question, while Willow, after calming down from her big bout of cold feet, was preparing the spell to open the gateway through Themyscirian wards without bringing them all down and incur the wrath of a god or two if things went south. She finally clapped her hands to call the attention of all the guests.
"All right, I'm done here, now I just need the final ingredient to open the portal and we can start this party. So, positions everyone," she said, nodding to Dawn who was standing to her side.
Everyone shuffled around, Xander excused himself from Clark and Bruce and walked to stand right next to Diana, at Willow's back. Standing right behind the redhead was Donna, wearing a dark blue silken long dress, which accentuated every curve she had. Xander hoped that Hyppolita would give the couple her blessing, otherwise Willow would be devastated, her last relationship ended up pretty badly and to this day he couldn't stand Kennedy's face. He believed Giles couldn't either, he had sent the girl up to Finland, the farthest outpost the Council had on the planet, with Buffy and Faith's blessing. Speaking of Giles, the man was standing to a side in his dapper suit, looking the typical modern British noble. Andrew was also around, and Xander believed someone had issued some threats if he started pestering Diana about the Justice League, because he was sitting at one of the tables, sulking. Even Clem had made a show of appearing, it had been a while since he'd seen the floppy-eared demon. The rest of the Slayers, Watchers and other guests stood at a loose semi-circle around the space Willow had prepped for the spell and portal.
Willow started chanting, her hair turned white and she levitated a few feet off the ground. From what Xander had learned, she could have powered the spell herself, but if she had done so, she'd be wiped after, and unable to enjoy the party and Buffy's return, so she asked Dawn for help. The brunette pricked her finger when Willow's chant reached a certain stanza, and a single drop of blood escaped, and instead of falling to the ground, it levitated mid-air, turning into a tiny glowing ball of green light. Finally the redhead clapped her hands, and it was as if a thunderclap echoed inside the ballroom. The ball of light exploded outside, growing into a flat green disk of energy that hung vertically to the floor, a couple feet in front of the guests.
The first people through were a pair of Amazon bodyguards in full armored regalia, lances at the ready. When they noticed both Princesses standing right in front of them, they relaxed slightly and stood to the side of the portal. Then Queen Hyppolita herself came through, and she smiled slightly after seeing both of her daughters. She stood tall and straight, and her voice echoed through the entire hall.
"Greetings, fellow Alexions. Tonight is a night of joy, a night of happiness, a night to celebrate, for tonight we are... I am... proud of bringing a very special person back to her family. When she departed your midst, she did so without any hope of success, based on a plan that could mean her death before she even started it. However, and this I learned myself, that is what makes this young woman so special, her utter commitment to a cause, without care or regard to her own health or sanity, only because it was the right thing to do. I've met a few gods in my life, and I believe that they never knew how truly special their Chosen One actually was. I'm proud of knowing her, I'm prouder still that in knowing her I gained a couple of other daughters, if not in blood but in heart, and I'm glad that in taking that chance, she made my people, now our people, be regarded by the rest of the world as one of their own. It is with great pleasure, and joy in my heart that I bring back to you Buffy Anne Summers, the Queen of the Alexions."
Buffy stepped out of the portal to a wall of cheers, her eyes tearing up over seeing all of her friends waiting for her. She was dressed similar to Hyppolita's own toga-like dress, but hers were in a deep green, while the other queen was using an off-white piece. Willow and Dawn were the first to move, grabbing her in a couple of bone-crunching hugs. Xander followed a moment behind, and waited while the girls traded a quick babble-fest that Wally would have trouble following. When he noticed her face and her actions, he moved to a side and stood in front of Queen Hyppolita. Solemnly, he closed his fist and crossed his arm over his chest, bowing respectfully.
"Queen Hyppolita, while the others are sure to give you their welcomes, I'd like to say that while our first meeting didn't have the outcome I so desired, we parted ways if not as friends at least as individuals that respected one another. But tonight I see my best friend in the entire world back with us, and while I didn't talk to her yet, I've seen something that I didn't believe I'd see ever again. I'm seeing my friend happy, truly happy. For that, you have my eternal gratitude, and whatever I have, whatever I can offer, now and in the future, is yours, just ask."
He didn't notice that the entire room had grown silent, and that most, if not all of them, had heard his declaration, neither did he see his wife give him one of her open smiles.
"Even if I asked you to leave my daughter?" Hyppolita asked.
Xander's heart constricted painfully. "I don't believe it would actually be possible, Your Highness. While I could physically leave her presence, my heart, my mind and my soul would always be with her, and I believe the same could be said of her."
Hyppolita looked him in the eye. "I've been following your relationship with my daughter closely, Alexander, my spies are very thorough in their reports, and I'm glad my fears haven't been validated, so far. So, do not worry, I won't ask you that, but your offer serves to prove that you're a man of deep character, and your friendship and steadfast support of my newest daughter paints you in an even more favored light. For all of that, I'm going to do one thing I'd never thought possible, and give you my blessing, as a mother, over your relationship with my daughter."
Xander's heart stopped for a moment, and during this moment, Diana moved past him and grabbed Hyppolita, twirling her as if a child, reversing their positions of mother and daughter. When his heart beat again, he noticed that his wife was crying herself, having her mother held in an almost bone-crunching hug. Not wanting to break the moment, he waited, and suddenly he felt a tap in his arm and turned around.
Standing there was Buffy herself, tears falling down her eyes as well, her smile brightening his soul. While his first thought was to grab her in a hug like old friends they were, he decided to acknowledge what had been clear for him for a long time. Once again he closed his fist and crossed his arm over his chest, bowing further than he had with Hyppolita.
"My Queen," he said, respectfully and without a hint of mischief.
Buffy noticed that he was quite serious, and decided to treat the action with all the respect it deserved. She crossed her own arm and bowed to him. "My Champion, my White Knight, my most steadfast friend. Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn't believe in myself. We've faced some rocky roads, and I don't think they've ended, but as long as I have you and the others by my side, I'll do my best to face them."
"Are you happy, my Queen?" he asked, almost knowing the answer himself.
"You said it yourself, Alexander. I am. For the first time in a very long time, I am. And I have you to thank for that, and to do that I must go back to what I've always been to you, your friend," saying that, Buffy simply forgot all about propriety and etiquette and jumped into her friend's arms, grabbing him in a Buffy-patented hug.
"Ribs, Buffy. Ribs..." he complained weakly, while tears fell from both their eyes.
The emotional moment was broken by the sound of breaking glass, coming from the ballroom's entrance. People turned around to see a man stumble into the room, grabbing his side.
"And I didn't even had the time to show off my new dress or dance a little," Buffy sighed. "Tell me you brought the party favors..."
"It's your welcome home party, of course I brought the party favors. What do you think I am, crazy?" he asked, while people moved to offer assistance to the party crasher.
Bruce was the closest one, so he grabbed the man and helped him to a chair.
"Thank you, Bruce," the man said, and Bruce Wayne finally recognized him.
In the upper realms, one being watched the scene below with fingers crossed. She had been called friend by most of the people below, but that wasn't the reason why she was rooting for a specific outcome.
"Come on, you blonde cheerleader, revert to type. Come on..."
"Bruce?" Buffy asked. "You know Mr. Party Crasher?"
"Hello, Buffy, welcome back. And yes, me and Jason here are old...acquaintances, shall we say? Now, Jason, what the hell happened to you?" Bruce asked, but Jason looked straight at Buffy.
"Are you Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" Jason asked, and Buffy could see the man was in a lot of pain and breathing hard. She could also notice he was quite the hottie in an older-but-not-so-much guy kind of way.
"Guilty as charged. Mind telling me why you crashed my welcome home party? When it has just started, as well…"
"Dr. Blood?" Giles' voice echoed right behind Buffy, and she turned to see her Watcher already holding a short sword in hand.
"Does everyone know the party crasher but me?" Buffy asked.
"Sorry, Buffy, Dr. Blood is a well-known demonologist, and one of the most sought after in our circles. The Council has him on retainer, even before the previous administration was forcefully retired."
"Pretty nice way of saying they were bombed to hell and back," Buffy muttered. She turned back to the man currently trying to sit still and failing miserably, while Bruce tried to check his wounds. "So, Dr... Blood, is it? Strange name, but then again I can't really complain much... Now, once again, and hopefully for the last time so we can take your sorry ass to the hospital and deal with the crashing of my welcome home party? What the hell is going on?" she asked, the last through gritted teeth.
"I was attacked earlier this evening at my home. Somehow they managed to break through my protections, there were quite a few of them but I managed to defend myself and thwart their attempt. I interrogated one of the surviving demons and it said they were in the service of the Circle of Black Thorn, he didn't know why they were ordered to attack me, but that I wasn't the only one. I asked who were the others and he mentioned only you, Ms. Summers, by name," he said, groaning.
Buffy turned to her Watcher. "Isn't the Circle the one...?"
"The very same, Buffy, but our sources tell me that Angel struck quite a blow to their ranks. Whatever attempt they mounted against you must be an act of desperation, and Wolfram & Hart isn't known of acting desperately," Giles replied. "Are you positive the demon wasn't lying, Dr. Blood?"
"I can be very persuasive when I want to be, Mr...?"
"Giles. Rupert Giles, we've spoken on the phone a couple times," Giles said. "So, they got to have a reason to attack both you and Buffy. The question is, why?"
"We can ask the survivors later, after we've killed most of them, Giles. Plus, we gotta send the bill for the destruction of dresses, ruining of make-up and break-up of shoes to someone, and I think Wolfram & Hart are just perfect for the job," Buffy said with a sinister smile. "Now, Mr. Dr. Blood-dripping-on-the-carpet, I'll ask one of the Watchers to take you to a hospital, while we deal with the rest of the party crashers. Bruce, I think you might want to skedaddle too, and take your friend with you, please."
"That's a grand idea, Buffy. Want me to call the cops?" Bruce asked, inward thankful for the excuse he got to get away and change.
"Naw, they're not ready to deal with a horde of homicidal demons and whatnot. Better tell them to sit still while I, the girls and the tweed brigade deal with them. Besides, it's been a while since I had my fun, I'm kinda glad they offered the opportunity for me to bash some skulls," the small blonde said with a savage smile.
"I'll stay, too," Jason Blood said, trying to stand up.
"You can barely stand, doc. We'll take you to the hospital, and that's final," Buffy ordered.
"Mr. Giles," Jason said, turning to the British man and ignoring Buffy's demands. "I do believe the Council has a fairly large file on me too, correct?"
"...Yes, that is correct," Giles acquiesced.
"Is my other self in danger if I change?" Jason asked.
"Change? Change into what? Giles...?" Buffy asked, surprised, looking between the duo.
"Buffy here has a fairly consistent 'live and let live' policy regarding demons who don't want to cause harm. If you can vouch on his behavior and his willingness to help us, I don't think it'll be much of a problem."
"I can't vouch for anything regarding him, except that he has a fairly big sense of self-preservation, and he likes to fight, even if it is against his own brethren. So I believe your people are safe from him," Jason said.
"Him, who the hell is him? Giles? Dr. Blood?" Buffy asked.
"You'll learn in a bit, Buffy, but first I believe we need to take Mr. Wayne, his friend and Queen Hyppolita and her entourage out of harm's way," Giles said.
"I can do that," Xander replied, he had been listening in from the side. "KAY!" he yelled over the din. His PA and also one of the guests and a Slayer to boot came running towards them.
"Yes, boss?" she asked.
"Take Mr. Wayne and Mr. Kent out back, escort them to a safe place and come back here," Xander said, and with a nod Kay went to do as asked. "In the meantime I'll try to convince my mom-in-law to leave the battlefield," he said with a snort.
"Fat chance of that happening," Buffy said with a smirk.
"Don't I know it?" he said with a lot of sarcasm, already walking in the Amazons' direction.
Buffy turned to Giles with a smile. "Time to address the restless masses," she said, and climbed over a chair to be seen and heard over the ballroom. "Okay, peeps, listen UP! Seems tradition and Murphy still like the smell of yours truly parties', and this time it's not a zombie horde, which frankly would suck due to 'been there, done that'. No, this time is a horde of demons, commonly known as the Circle of the Gray Pricks..."
"Black Thorn, Buffy," Giles said sotto voice to a laughing audience.
"That's what I said, the Circle of the Gray Pricks. Anyway, they're coming here to once again try to end the life of yours truly, cause the Apocalypse, yadda yadda yadda. Since I've been dying, though not literally, to hit someone, or several someones for a while now, I decided to oblige them. Are you guys with me?"
A resounding chorus of "YES!" echoed over the hall. Buffy smiled, and continued, looking at Hyppolita. "Mom, I know Xander is trying to convince you to leave, and I'd fell better if you did."
"And leave my daughters to face the hordes of Tartarus on their own? I think NOT, young lady," she said with a smile. Xander shrugged at her side, as if saying 'I tried'.
"All right, then. My Champion, being the smart man and the man of vision that he is, brought the party favors as well, so I hope everyone got his own favorite flavor of steel and wood. How many squads we have, or how many can pass for squads, anyway?"
"Seven, maybe eight if we spread out a bit, my Queen," one of the Watchers replied from the back.
"Let's go with seven, I want three squads outside handling crowd control, we got innocent people roaming the streets, even at this time of the night. The rest, I want a lookout on the roof, take some ranged weapons with you, one squad inside the ballroom running rear guard, the other three with me over every entrance this building has. They want me, so I'm hoping they'll come in force here and leave the streets mostly alone. If I see that's the case I'll issue the order for two of the outside squads to come back and strike at them from behind. Having said that, pay attention to every tear or nip in your dresses or clothes, broken heels, broken nails, ruined make up, ruined 'dos and whatever other thing you guys and girls did to come to my party – which I appreciate mucho, thank you – 'cause when all of this is said and done, I intend to present the bill to Wolfram & Hart in person, and demand restitution to all damages. So, are you guys ready?"
Another wall of cheers greeted her speech.
"Ahem," Jason cleared his throat, calling Buffy's attention.
"Ah, yes, I forgot something. Apparently Mr. Party Crasher here can turn into something, I don't know what, and it can help us, so please no turn-him-into-a-pincushion, capisce?"
"I believe I should turn now, so you can know what to expect," he said, voice filled with dread.
"Be my guest, Mr. Hottie," Buffy said, getting down from the chair and cringed. "Did I say that out loud?"
Jason shook his head in mirth, and spoke.
"Change! Change, O form of man!
Release the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the blood in heart of fire!
Gone! Gone! — the form of man —
Rise, the Demon Etrigan!"
While Jason chanted, he began transforming, his skin turned yellow, his ears stretched and ended up looking like two bat wings glued to the side of his head, his body gained mass and muscles, his eyes turned blood red, horns sprouted from a bald forehead and his clothes changed to some sort of medieval getup in red, with a purple cape and shoes. Now, where Jason used to stand, stood a full blooded demon.
"What the hell?" Buffy asked, curious.
"I believe my eyes betray me, my jailor had gone mad and brought me to thee?" the demon echoed, looking over the hall at the armed women looking at him.
"And it rhymed?"
"It's a long story, Buffy, but Jason Blood was cursed by Merlin to be the jailor of Etrigan, a true demon from Hell, the son of Belial, if memory serves me right. And yes, he likes to speak in rhymes," Giles said.
"Is he trustworthy?" she asked, fingering the pendant that was the scythe in miniature.
"For now, or do you wish to declare foul?" Etrigan said, and Buffy shook her head.
"Look, Mr. Demon, I have a horde of people like you coming for my neck, and I'm not in the mood to decipher your rhyme. Can't you talk normal for a change?"
"For a fair lady such as thee, I shall do it with glee," Etrigan said with a leer.
"Did-did he just make a pass at me?"
At the upper realms, a certain Seer was cackling like mad.