The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:25 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Can I just comment on how much I love Ethan calling the elder group of advisors/watchers/witch-wizards as 'The Band'?

Cuz I do. I fricking love it.

Also, I just keep waiting for Faith to sneeze and poop a baby. Any second now.

Super-enjoying this story!!!

Cheers
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:25 am 
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I finally caught all the way up. About halfway through I finally figured in tapatalk I could click on the (pg/pg) and quickly get to the page I was on (if remembered correctly that is) whereas before I'd click over page by page.

This fic is just so epic and involved that I think I'd have to re-read it again to address all the things I thought of while reading it.

One thing that stuck really really well, is Buffy and her cheese. A woman after my own heart. Brilliant really. What a way to use that bit of information from canon and explore it.

You really deal with some heavy stuff here. It is an impressive undertaking and I commend you for it.

I wonder did you even know how big this fic would get? Sometimes they just grow and go places you never even thought of. I'm definitely curious to see where this all leads.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:29 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Aww, you guys!

Thanks for the comments :)

Yeah, i'd forgotten some of the stuff i'd put in till a came back to reformat it for posting.
Caught me a bit by surprise, i must say.

I feel really bad for any americans over the last few years.
"Sorry little girl. We would step in and help you to be free, but we really like cheap fuel. So you get to stay a virtual slave. Bye!"

Buffy would be very upset.

Anyway, on to other topics.

DW: i don't know if they covered this in sex-ed, but you don't poop babies.
They come out the other hole sweetie :P

But yeah, it sorta does happen. And it's not that far away.
I took my inspiration for the birth scene from a famous TV show.
See if you can guess which one, when it rolls around :)

On a side note, they were actually a band, back in the day.
C'mon, think about it.
Groupies!
Sex, drugs, rock and roll!
Well, they're brits, so Punk-Rock, but you get the idea.



DT: Heya!
High praise indeed :)
I'll try to maintain the standard :P

Uh, yeah. About the length. It was originally meant to be one chapter.
A way of getting some closure for a character i was playing in a game.
I wrote the 'Tara comes home' bit first of all.
The rest just grew out of that.

The finished 'book' is actually longer than the Lord of the Rings.

On a side note, i am writing the last chapter now.
It's hard, as i'm much worse at finishing things than starting them.

And is largely a huge info-dump and 'everyone lives happily ever after' along with a couple of epilogues.
So i'm going to rough it out. Forget about it. And then come back and polish it up. A lot.

There's a declaration of war at some point.
Some things just should not stand.

Anyway, new update shortly :P

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:42 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Azirahael - yes, you are right. I should have said "sneeze and *front* poop a baby."

Looking forward to the update!

Cheers
DW




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:24 am 
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9. Gay Now
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I was thinking pop out a baby, but sure, that works :)

Update below.

Planting the flag


“And this is going to be the hub of our spellwork,” Willow said.

She gestured behind herself to the central pillar of their monolith.

“Welcome to the spiritual heart of our home.”


Giles eyebrows raised noticeably. “My word.”


“Well it’s going to be fairly…” Willow trailed off as she looked around.


The walls were studded with coloured crystals of all sorts, interspersed with complex runes.

Willow’s mouth fell open in shock. She took in the crystals, complex interwoven runes and symbols coating every visible surface of the monolith.

“Whoa!” she squeaked.


“I take it this wasn’t what you wanted to show me?” Giles asked mildly.


Willow shook her head in stunned silence.

One day, she had ideas that it should look like this. Years from now.
But engraving runes and placing crystals, to focus the power from the land into the monolith, was a time-consuming task.
And something she expected to be a hobby that lasted years.

The runes were incredibly dense, layered and interlocking. And yet, she recognized her own hand in their design. And unless she missed her guess, some of the work looked like Tara’s style.
And it had all happened in a few days.

“We were looking for sites of ancient power or leylines,” she said distractedly as she looked around.

“But aside from the Hellmouths, there’s nothing like that around here. So we thought ‘what the hey’ and made our own.”





Willow nodded. “There’s Hellmouths and dark temples and all sorts of stuff around. But there aren’t that many sacred sites any more. We didn’t even really plan it out, we just sort of noticed that there was a bit of a ring thing going on. So we put something in the middle. It was a bit of an impulse thing really.”

She walked forward, brushing her hand over the engravings on the polished surface of the titanic monolith.

“So we thought, maybe one day we could make something like one of the ancient sacred sites. A fortress of light, against the darkness.”


“Excellent thinking,” Giles said. “Though I do wish you’d have told me,” he said with very faint reprove.


“Giles, I didn’t…”
She pointed at the top of the mighty stone pillar, which tapered in to a narrow connection with the stone roof, vaguely like a carrot-top. “I carved the top three lines of the larger runes, and nine sacred runes around the walls,” she said, throwing her arms out to gesture at the room.


Giles looked at the runes mentioned. “A… battery?”


Willow nodded. “Yep. We left room for the other things we wanted in, and sketched out some ideas for protection, magical absorption and a few other things, but we thought a basic magical storage vault was a good place to start.”

“The rest appeared while we were playing Lawrence of Arabia.”


’Baby? Can you come down to the monolith chamber? Something weird is going on.’


’Of course Willow. Is there a problem? Do I need to bring Buffy?’


’I don’t think so. This looks like… well, you’ll see when you get here.’



+++



Tara looked closely at the rune-work. “This is definitely your style sweetie.”

She pointed at the engravings. “All the upward Ogham signs have little tails on the end.”


“I do that?”


Tara nodded. “I think it’s from all the greek you used when you started practicing magic. Plus some of these runes look a little more like the younger futhark than strictly Ogham.”


“Ah, yes,” Giles said. “I remember how enamoured you were with Germanic runes after you mastered Latin.”


“It’s a bit easier than Ogham. That one’s more of a Tara thing.”


“I don’t wish to alarm anyone,” Giles said. “But is it meant to glow like that?”


Both witches followed Giles’ gaze to the monolith, lit eerily with a rapidly brightening blue-green glow.

Willow started, instinctively worried the spell was somehowstarting without her.
Then she relaxed.

Willowbelle and Tarabelle flew up over the edge of the drop, giggling as they hummed through the air.


“Good lord,” Giles said quietly.


Tara smiled to see the two tiny lovers hand in hand, as she and Willow were right at that moment.
“I take it you haven’t been introduced to our two smallest family members?” she asked teasingly.


“I can’t say that I have,” Giles said wonderingly.


“I think we’ve found the source of our problem,” Willow said. “Giles, meet Tarabelle and Willowbelle. Tarabelle, Willowbelle? Meet Giles. He’s sort of our dad.”


“Goodness gracious,” Giles said softly.
The two tiny fairies twirled around his head, emitting tiny tinkling giggles.

“What are they?” he asked wonderingly.


“We’re not actually sure. Xander thinks we might have created a new form of life.” Willow looked a little embarrassed. “Again.”

Giles looked at her with an expression of surprise.


“The original Tarabelle was part of Willow’s training with the coven, and her grieving process,” Tara explained, with a reassuring squeeze of her hand.


“A very unofficial part,” Willow said guiltily. “But I think I might have put too much into her. And now she’s been around for weeks, living off the ambient magic around the place.”


“And Willowbelle has been around just as long, though I created her on the spot,” Tara added.

That got another expression of surprise.

Tara held up her hands. “It just felt right. The magic flowed into place, like it was filling a hole.”


“But, why?” Giles asked.


Tara smiled shyly. “She’s a miniature me. She needed her Willow.”



“We didn’t want her to be lonely, Giles,” Willow said, wide eyed.


Giles looked closely at the two figures hovering in front of him for a moment before he turned away, abashed.

“The, ah… dresses. A tad revealing, don’t you think?”

Both girls said nothing, though they flushed a furious pink.

“Ah. Well. I shall say no more on the matter. Though I must admit to a good deal of curiosity as to the underpinnings of their existence. How old are they?”



“We made them the night of my nudie flying lesson,” Willow said, still very pink.


“Who knew you had exhibitionist tendencies?” Tara said mildly.

Willow looked shocked.


Giles cleared his throat. “And you think that they finished off the spellwork?”


Willow nodded, glad of the deliberate change of subject.

“It does look like our work, mister Giles,” Tara said. “And it fit with what we had planned. We just weren’t going to do any of it yet.”

“Even with the spells we use to shape the rock, we were looking at months of solid work. Years even. And we just didn’t have the time to spare.”


“Well if this succeeds,” Giles took off his glasses for a good polish, giving himself time to think. “If this succeeds, this place will become a fortress of light, not seen since the days of old.”


“Really?” said Willow, clearly pleased.


Giles nodded. “There are spells layered here in a way I’ve never seen before. And don’t think I haven’t spotted those,” he said gesturing to a cross-wheel rune on the wall, and a stylized knot-work tree.


“Yeah. Well, we weren’t actually doing any of this, we were just brainstorming. The um, kids got over eager is all,” Willow said.


“Willow,” Giles said seriously. “It’s not that I mind, or even disagree. But have you thought of the ramifications?”


“Giles, it’s pretty safe to say we haven’t. What’s the problem?”

She stroked the intricate symbols with her free hand. “Brigid and the Mother. How could either of them be bad.”


Giles sighed and took off his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose. It was times like these that he felt every one of his years, despite his general good health.
“It is in no way bad,” he essayed. “Not directly.”


“Then what-” Willow started, before a gentle hand stilled her protests.


“Sweetie, let him explain.”


“Thank you. As I was saying, this is not directly bad. But this is a spell-working the likes of which has not been seen since the earliest days of the earth. This sort of thing is in the same league as the seal of Danthalzar, or even the original Slayer spell. Those spells took the most serious commitment. And they were sealed in blood.”


“It’s always about blood,” Willow said in a quiet voice.


“In the end, it’s all we have to give,” Giles said tiredly.
“It’s why all the most serious spells demand blood. It’s not just a component, not just a source of power. It’s a sign of commitment of the highest degree.”


“Black or white, it all comes down to blood,” Tara said into the quiet.


“And that’s not even the most troublesome part,” Giles said with his characteristic understatement.


“Don’t tell me it’s going to open the Hellmouth?” Willow said worriedly.


“Hardly. No, the problem is likely to be what happens if the spells work as intended.”


“If it works? That’s when things go wrong?” Willow said, disbelieving.


“If it works,” Giles said with a nod.
“If the spells work as intended, there will be a shift in the mystical landscape. There will be a fortress of light to rival any Hellmouth that ever formed or was created. It will attract attention on a scale that can scarcely be imagined. And on top of that fortress, you plant the flag of Brighid,” he said, pointing to the cross, “And the Mother Goddess herself, for all the world to see.”


Willow whimpered.

“Mister Giles?” Tara asked softly. “What will that do?”


Giles shook his head tiredly. “I haven’t the foggiest. One might as well ask the political ramifications of replacing the former Soviet Union with the mythical kingdom of Atlantis.”


“Well it would be different,” Willow said, attempting to lighten the mood.


“That much is certain,” Giles said dryly. “But ‘different’ is not necessarily the same as ‘better’.”


“Which is why we didn’t do it,” Tara said. “It was a possible plan for the future.”


Giles looked around at the spell work.
It had Willow’s characteristic clarity, but a depth that could only be Tara’s influence.
And it would take years to analyse in any depth.


“Have you any idea why they would do this?” he said, gesturing to the two tiny people who were examining their proud handiwork.


“I can hazard a guess?” Tara said. “They are on some level, representative of us. Tarabelle contains Willow’s image of me, as much as Willowbelle contains my image of Willow. All fed by our subconscious knowledge and desires. I think that they are still linked on some level, and they picked up on our intent.”


Willow gestured around the crystal encrusted chamber. “And all this is primarily earth-magic. It is as natural to them as breathing is to us, given that they were born of the earth.”


They stood in silence, trying to absorb the massive implications, as the two lights, one green, one blue, drifted around the room.

“What do we do?” Willow eventually asked.


“Is there any way to undo this?” Giles asked.


Willow’s brow furrowed and she looked at Tara. Tara shook her head.

“I don’t think so. Not easily, anyway,” she said. “None of the spells are active, they have no power yet. But something this big has a shape already. It’s going to be very hard to pull it down.”


“Um, well if we are, we should do something about it very soon,” Willow said. “Something this big is like a huge waterwheel in a river. If it’s not turning, it’s going to cause problems. And if we have an earthquake while it’s like this, we are going to have a flood or something.”


“Earthquake?” Giles said with a tired look.


“Yeah,” Willow said awkwardly. “It can’t work while it’s still part of the earth. It needs to be separate to do the mojo thing.”


She pointed at the narrow carrot-top neck on the huge pillar of rune-crusted stone. “And with that in mind, we’ve already cut it off at the bottom. That bit is all that’s holding it up.”


“How heavy?”


“About ten thousand tons.”


Giles sighed. “An improperly completed spell of that magnitude would almost certainly kill you. And those two,” he said gesturing at the tiny duplicates.


Willow’s eyes went wide and locked with Tara’s.

Tara’s soft and worried gaze steadied her own.

“We need to talk to the others,” she said calmly.



+++



“Do it,” Xander said.
There was no hesitation in his voice, no give in his tone.
He looked around at the Scoobies and their allies.

“Why are we even talking about this? Make it happen.”


“Xander, it’s not that simple,” Giles said.


“No, it’s exactly that simple. That rock won’t hold forever. We don’t get many earthquakes here, not like Sunnydale.”
His expression was hard. “But if we do, we lose Tara. We lose Willow, and the fairies. And while I don’t want to see the little cuties hurt, I might be able to live with it. But I will not live with losing Will, or Tara.”


“Can we pull it to bits?” Buffy asked.


Willow shrugged helplessly. “Maybe? It would take months of work though. The spell has already taken on a shape. Like a computer in sleep mode. It’s not active, not running, but like a Hellmouth, it is doing something, even if it’s supposed to be switched off.”

Tara wrapped her arms around Willow reassuringly.


“Could we brace it with something?” Bomber asked. “Give us time to take it down carefully?”


“No,” Xander said flatly. “I worked construction in Sunnydale, so I know a fair bit about earthquakes and rock. There’s no way it will hold through even a small earthquake. Even if you could brace something that weighs as much as a skyscraper, rock is brittle. The compression waves would still break the neck, even if the rest of it was packed solid with sand.”

Silence smothered the room as everyone absorbed the implications.


“Well, we were looking for a diversion,” Bomber said quietly. “Planting the flag like that would be a hell of a diversion. Especially if we are someplace else.”


“So what are we waiting for?” Xander said.


“Xander, there are very serious implications,” Giles said, a little frustrated.


“So. What?” Xander said coldly, leaning over the table.
“It doesn’t matter how bad they are, it’s already done. We can’t pull it down. If we leave it, four people are going to die in the next few months, right in the middle of our big fight. That only leaves one choice. Turn it on.”


“Giles?” Buffy said. “Are the problems going to be worse than Willow, Tara and mini Willow and Tara being dead?”


“We have no idea,” Giles said simply. “What we will be doing is changing the mystical landscape as much as, if not more than, when we closed the Sunnydale Hellmouth. And then planting the flag of Brighid and the Mother Goddess on top.”


“It will make us a target,” Ethan said from his semi-traditional spot, sprawled on a couch.


Xander shrugged. “So what. We’re already targets. We’ve got a long list of badguys who want us dead. We just add some more names to the list.”


“Guys, Xander’s right,” Buffy said. “This is not new for us. At least this way we protect ourselves, and we get to keep everyone alive. Seriously, I vote for any plan that has more of us alive afterwards.”


“Hell, if the Saudi’s ever find out it was us that raided their base, we’ll have an entire country after us,” Xander added with a wry grin.


Bomber cleared his throat. “Actually, most of the middle east. Saudi Arabia is the heart of Islam, so you can expect a few other Islamic countries to get on board.”


“Stupid women-hating jerks,” Buffy muttered.


Faith had been watching Willow and Tara as all this was going on. “You two have been pretty quiet.”


They shared a look. “Um, well we don’t want to die. But we also don’t want to blow up the world. And this sort of is our fault.”


“Nonsense,” Giles retorted. “This is no more your fault than if your children had drawn on the walls.”


“There’s some irony,” Faith muttered, giving Giles a knowing look.


“Yes, well,” Giles replied awkwardly, glancing her way. “It’s something I imagine you’ll have to get used to at some point.”


Faith smiled gratefully. Not one single Scooby had ever hinted at anything, other than total certainty about her being a good mom.
Not once.
It was things like that that made the whole crazy situation bearable.


“So what do we do?” Buffy asked.


“We have to fire up the spell thingy,” Xander said. “There’s no way it’ll hold for months for us to pull it down.”


He looked thoughtful. “Uh, Will? Can you use your earthmoving spell thing to re-attach the pillar to the rock?”


Willow shook her head slowly. “Nope. That was the first thing we thought of. It’s got a mystical presence now. Um, like making a pot in pottery class. You can add a new bit if it’s still wet, but once it’s baked, you can’t just add bits on.”


She waved her arms around helplessly. “Now it’s baked.”


“It will resist being messed with,” Tara added. “And if we manage to force it, it will probably be just like if it broke all by itself.”


“The only way out is through, it seems,” Ethan said. “I for one am curious to see what happens. I’d also like a look at the spellworkings, if at all possible.”


Buffy squinted at him. “You just want to see the fireworks.”


Ethan smirked in his infuriating way. “True. Or I get to see one of the great spell workings of our time. Win-win as you Americans say.”


“It could be a once in a lifetime experience,” Giles said.


Ethan smirked again. “I’m confident we’ll all survive.”


“Then let’s go,” Xander said. “How do we do this, Will?”


“Ah, um, er,” Willow said.


“Blood,” Giles said.


“You mean some blood, right?” Xander asked, worriedly. “We don’t have to draw short straws to see who’s taking an extra long nap do we?”


Giles smiled wanly. “No. This is earth magic. One of the ancient rites. Blood gives life and binds you to the working, but it need not be heart’s blood.”
He smiled a little. “A small cut should suffice.”


“Yay. No drawing of straws.”


“Besides, it’s our spell,” Willow said. “We have to be the ones to pay the price.”


“But not the only ones,” Xander said seriously.
“I’m guessing the more that help, the more it will spread the load, right?”


Willow nodded glumly. “Yeah. But it still might be too much, Xander. This is a spell so massive, I’ve never even heard of anything like it. It might kill us. Heck, it might kill anyone who joins in.”


There was silence.

Xander spoke. “I’m in.”


He looked across at Giles. “What about you Obi-wan?”


Giles nodded. “Of course. Though I more fancied myself as Han Solo.”


“I’m in,” Dawn said, glaring at her sister to stifle any protests. “Maybe my Key mojo will help?”


Buffy looked like she was going to protest, but in the end she simply nodded, as one soldier to another.

And then she looked back at Faith. “Can you forgive me?”


“For what?”


“Leaving you to raise our daughter if this goes wrong.”


“Fuck no.” Faith said flatly. “But ya don’t realize, B. Where you go, I go. We’re together you and me. And if something happens to you, it happens to me too.”


Buffy froze.
Slowly she turned to Willow. “Sorry Will. I guess we won’t be helping with the rit-”


“Yeah we are,” Faith interrupted.


“What!?” Buffy snapped. “We can’t risk Hope, you know that!”


“Hey, normally I’d agree with you. Slaying, motorcycle riding, hell even training, sure. But this is our family B! I bet with two Slayers helping out, we have a lot better chance of living through it. And before you get started, I don’t like the idea of risking her life either. But I want to be able to look our daughter in the eye someday. And I can’t do that if our entire family dies, B. Not if we could have helped.”


’Sweetie, is there anything we can say to help?’ Tara sent on her private line to Willow.


’Jeepers! What do you say to something like this? I have no idea how not to make things worse. That’s usually your job.’


While they were mentally chatting, Buffy and Faith shared a long look, freighted heavy with meaning.
Buffy took Faith’s hand, and squeezed it tight.
“We’re in.”
Faith nodded.


“Are you sure that’s wise?” Giles asked.


“Fuck no,” Faith said, shaking her head. “But we are stuck between a rock and a hard place here G. I don’t wanna risk Hope, like, at all. But there’s no way I’m gonna tell her I let her whole fucking family die just before she was born. Just no way.”


Buffy squeezed her hand tight.

“I don’t like it either, but she’s right. I don’t suddenly have mom super powers, but I do want to be someone my daughter’s not going to be ashamed of. And I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. And I love you guys. So does Faith.”


“Yeah. That.”


“So yeah, there’s risk. But I think with two Slayers taking the load, that might help, right?”


Willow nodded slowly. “Oh yeah. There’s a reason Slayer blood is the cure for the incurable poison, and for so many bad guys to want it.”


Tara spoke. “There’s so much power inside you Buffy. I just can’t explain it. But it’s a lot,” she said, a little wide eyed.


“Yay?” Buffy said uncertainly.


“Let’s do this then,” Xander said.



+++



“So, is this one of those spells we have to do naked?” Xander said, grinning slightly.


Tara gave him a neutral look. “Skyclad. It might help.”
She kept looking at him.

Giles sighed and took his jacket off, and started loosening his tie.

“Really?” Xander said, looking a little nervous.


Everyone looked at him.


“You first,” Dawn said.


“Uh,” he said.


“Really Xander. You put your life on the line without a moment’s hesitation, and yet a little awkwardness worries you?” Giles said, folding his tie neatly on his jacket.


“Um, I was joking? It’s this thing I do when I’m nervous.”

Everyone kept looking at him.


He sighed. And blushing furiously, his doffed his shirt.
When he reached for the waistband of his pants Tara spoke up. “Um, I think you can stop now.”


Xander looked up to see a number of grins.
Giles was smirking at him in that restrained British way of his.


“I was looking forward to that,” Anya complained.


“You’re messing with me?” Xander said, his shirt still in his hands.


Tara giggled as Willow patted him on his shoulder.
“Being skyclad doesn’t do anything, unless you’re actually under the open sky, Xander,” Tara said.


“The clue is in the name. And then it only works for a few rituals,” Willow added.


“So why is he getting undressed?” Xander pointed at Giles.


Giles gave him a look. “Undressed? I simply removed my jacket and tie. With all of us in this room for a while, it’s likely to get rather warm.”
Though he couldn’t hide the tiny smirk twitching at the corner of his mouth.


“Looking good there X-man,” Faith said as he put his shirt back on.


“Yeah yeah. You got me.”
There were a few giggles.
He looked around. “So what do we do now?”


“The hard work has already been done,” Willow explained. “We’re going call the corners to invoke the spirits. Then each of us does a little chant and cuts a finger, and spills a little blood on the monolith.”

Willow held up some flash cards and handed them around.
“It’s not complicated, and it’s all the same chant, but I wrote up these, just so we feel confident.”


“Just don’t read it out loud, until you’re supposed to,” Anya said. “That would be bad.”


“Right. Uh, Ahn? Not meaning to be mean, but can you do this? The blood I mean.”


Anya shrugged. “Sure. I don’t have any actual blood. But blood carries the essence of a person, and essence I have. In fact I’m nothing but essence,” she said brightly. “This is the most me I can actually be!”

There was silence.

“I made a joke. Why is no-one laughing?”


“Not very funny?” Faith essayed.


Anya glared. “Can we get on with this?”


Willow moved so that she was standing opposite to Tara, on the other side of the massive pillar. “Giles can you stand there please? And Anya, there,” she said pointing to her left and right respectively.
They moved into place.
“And everyone else, just fill in the gaps, so there’s a circle.”


Buffy, Faith, Dawn and Xander filed in, filling out the circle nicely.

“Ok, so this first part is fairly low stress,” Willow explained. “Only me, Tara, Giles and Anya need to do anything. After that we each go one at a time, say our little chant, prick your finger, and you’re done.”


“A few drops is all it takes,” Tara said. “So be careful with these.”
She handed out disposable scalpel blades, still in their sterile wraps.


“Who goes first?” Xander said fiddling with his card.


“You,” Willow said.


“Oh. Yay.”


“No really. It’s generally a good idea to go in order of magic, with the strongest magical source shouldering more of the burden as the spell builds. Xander, you have the lowest level of magic I have ever seen.”


“How low? I mean I always knew I wasn’t big on the mojo, but how low?”


“Seriously? On a scale of one to a thousand, you rate about… zero,” Willow said awkwardly


“Yay me,” Xander said dejectedly. “So why am I even here?”


“Because you have heart,” Tara said. “And that’s more important than any amount of magic.”


“It is?”


She nodded. “It really does. In life, and especially in magic. You wouldn’t be in this, if it weren’t true.”


“Huh. I’m ok with that,” he said cheering considerably.


“And then Dawn next,” Willow said.


“Nope,” Dawn said simply. “Anya or Giles maybe. I go last.”


“Are you sure sweetie?” Tara said with concern. “You’re going to take most of the spells draw.”


Dawn bobbed her head cheerfully. “Yep. I’m good. Maybe I’m having one of those ‘Key’ moments, but I definitely get the feeling I should go last.”


“Okaay,” Willow said slowly. “So without bragging or measuring… anything, who’s next?”


“Anya,” Giles said.


“Not you?” Willow asked.


“Ah, no. I have considerably more magical ability than I let on. And so, despite Anya’s clearly greater expertise, I should go later in the chain.”


“Ok, so Anya next. Then you?”


“Ah, no.” Giles said awkwardly. “I suspect… just before Dawn.”


Tara raised an eyebrow. “Mister Giles, are you sure?”
She glanced at Willow.
“We don’t make a big fuss about it, but Willow and I are very powerful.”


“I am well aware of that, dear girl. But without going into detail, let me just point out that I went toe to toe with the most powerful sorceress in the world. And I am still here.”


Willow cringed slightly.

“Ancient history my dear. Long since forgiven.”


“That just leaves the Slayers, and us,” Willow said, somewhat subdued.


“Faith, Buffy, you, me?” Tara suggested.


Willow nodded. “That should work.”


Xander looked at his card. “You sure about this, Will? It seems a little Lord-of the Rings-y.”


Willow smirked. “Well, I can’t deny that it inspired me. But it’s the sentiment, and the fact that we’re all saying the same thing that matters.”


“Well, they say a man’s home is his castle. In this case it’s almost literally true,” Xander quipped.


“Shall we begin?” Giles suggested.


Willow nodded to Tara, who took a deep breath, and called out, "Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East.
Powers of Air and Invention, Hear us!”


Next Willow called out in a loud clear voice, “Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, Powers of Fire and Feeling, Hear us!”


Then Anya, “Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, Powers of Water and Intuition, Hear us!”


Then finally Giles’ deeper voice rang out, “Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, By the Powers of Mother and Earth, Hear us.”


Willow and Tara took up the chant, speaking in perfect synchrony, “Aid us in our magical working on this autumn Eve, We pray of thee, we pray of thee, and we invoke thee!”


“And that’s that bit done,” Willow said brightly.


“I was expecting more lights,” Buffy grumbled.


Willow grinned. “Buff, this was just clearing the floor for dancing. Or clearing the workbench for work. The real magic happens when you do your bit.”


“Ok, so how do I do my bit?” Xander asked.


“Read out your card, knick your finger or something and flick a few drops of blood on the top of the stone,” Willow explained. “There’s no hurry, just as long as no one says anything between the words and the blood.”

Xander glanced at his card, and said in a voice strengthened by years of battlefield experience, and months of shouting at Slayers on the training field, “Here I am, and here I shall stand.
This is my land, my home, my fortress.
May it stand against all darkness, all evil, a beacon of light in the dark days.
From this day, until the breaking of the world.
So say we all.”

And with that, he nicked the edge of his hand with the tiny blade, a flicked a few red droplets on the mighty stone.


The earth shook gently, as though something heavy had settled on the earth around them. A faint flicker of light ran throughout all the runes, changing colour as it went, almost a rainbow of light.

“I did that? Cool!”


“Yep. She told ya!” Willow said brightly. “Magic, you don’t have, Xander. But power? Yeah, you’ve got your own power.”


“I feel ok,” he said, sucking the edge of his hand.


“The spell’s not done yet Xander. You might have to sit down when it goes off.”


Anya spoke her piece, and simply stepped forward to place her hand over the red flecks on the stone. This time the earth didn’t shake, but the runes all flared with light, bathing the room in a white glow.
She smirked as the glow faded, but a faint trace remained, rippling around the room like reflections from water, seen far away.
She buffed her nails as she retook her place in the circle, looking quite pleased with herself.


As Faith read out her part of the ritual, Willow pulled a pair of dark shades out of her pocket, and put them on.
Faith ran the blade along the back of her hand, inflicting a two-inch gash, and she splashed the stone with blood.


The room erupted in fire.
Every one of the runes blazed like the noonday sun in the desert.
Cries of surprize could be heard from the whole gang, and ‘Whoa!’ from Faith.
After nearly a minute, the runes faded to a faint throbbing glow, orange, like an autumn sunset.


“What the fuck?” Faith said.


“That’s a lot of power,” Willow said. “Even more than I was expecting,” she said, taking off her shades.


“Faith, and Hope?” Tara suggested.


Willow nodded, aware of the need to keep things positive. “I think so, yeah.”


“I am wishing I brought shades,” Buffy said, waving her hand in front of her face as if to clear the spots.


“Well, you can’t break the circle. So just close your eyes maybe?” Willow suggested.


Faith held up her hand, the gash long gone. “Gonna need a fairly big cut, otherwise it’ll vanish before you can get a few drops out.”


Buffy sighed and inspected the scalpel blade. “Well, at least they’re sharp.”

She straightened up, and called out her part of the ritual, slicing the back of her hand as Faith had done.

Again the room erupted into blazing sunlight, fading after half a minute to a slightly sunnier and faster throb.

“Oh, pretty!” Buffy said and she rubbed the smear of blood off the back of her hand.


Willow spoke her piece with due gravitas and winced as she stabbed her thumb.
When her red droplets hit the stone, the earth shook, as if a great beast stirred in slumber. Fire and lightning crawled around the crystals and runes, before fading to intermittent flickers and flares of fire and light.

Immediately after, Tara joined in, and a wave of white fire rolled across the room like a ripple in a pond.


Giles chanted his part of the ritual from memory, though when he flicked a few drops of blood on the stone, heavy lines of smoke and lightning spread out from the monolith to smother the runes in shadow and light.

“Jeepers Giles!” Willow exclaimed. “You weren’t kidding about the power!”


“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Tara said. “Such a blend of light and dark. I didn’t know a person could hold that much of each.”


“It’s not easy, I must say.”


Anya gave him a measuring look. “Someday you are going to have to tell us about your mysterious past.”


Giles gave her a no-nonsense look. “No. I’m not.”


“Not even if I sacrifice a bunny to you? Lots of bunnies,” she said eagerly.


“Leave the ah, rabbits alone. In fact, no sacrificing anything, please.”


He turned to Dawn. “We are nearly done my dear. Would you like to finish for us?”


“Sure!” Dawn said brightly. This was her first major spell, but if the others could handle it, she figured she’d be fine.


Putting the card aside, she stood up straight and began to speak.
“Here I am, and here I shall stand.

As she began to speak, her voice took on odd harmonics, as though a great host were speaking through her. Thousands, even millions of voices, all blending together into a great wave, like the sound of the ocean.
“This is my land, my home, my fortress.”

The ground began to shake, vibrating like the engine of a truck.
“May it stand against all darkness, all evil, a beacon of light in the dark days.
From this day, until the breaking of the world.
So say we all.”

And when the few red drops stuck the glowing stone, the world exploded.



+++



Tara looked around, to see the Scoobies lying on the floor, clearly passed out, though thankfully, still visibly breathing.
The room was silent, not even the sounds of breath disturbing the pure white silence.

Across the circle from her was Dawn, floating in the air arms outstretched, eyes closed and smiling beatifically.


“Dawnie?” she said hesitantly.


“Almost,” Dawn said with a smile. She opened eyes like burning green stars. Galaxies swirled within that gaze.


“The Key?”


“Yes. And no. I am the Key. And Dawn is the Key. And we are Dawn.”


“Do we get Dawnie back?” Tara asked worriedly.


The Key smiled serenely. “Tara, don’t worry. Dawn has always been the Key, and the Key Dawn. The Key is no more separate from Dawn, than the Slayer is separate from Buffy, or your magic is separate from you.”
Her smile broadened. “You’re simply seeing another facet of the whole.”


“Then why are you talking as if Dawn were separate from you?” Tara said, staring to get a little angry in her fear.


The Key sighed, a sound of infinite tiredness. “Operational security. There are some things the Dawn face of us cannot yet know, for fear that our enemies would know. And we are kept separate, supressed. But here in this frozen moment, we can talk a little.”


“And why me?”


The Key smiled in a way that could literally be described as ‘radiantly.’
“Because you’ve seen her. It’s all happening at long last. Plans older than time coming to fruition, now. After so long.”


“Who?” Tara said, puzzled. “Who have I seen.”


“Words. Knowledge leaves impressions. Those impressions can be seen. Like prophecy, I must remain vague, lest others find out.”
She smirked in a very Dawn-like way, glowing green eyes and all. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Despite the weirdness of the situation, Tara chuckled.

“There are a very few things I can tell you clearly, Tara. But I can tell you some.”


Tara raised one eyebrow.

“We are going to win.”


“Oh? I’m glad.”


“And that you never have to be sad. No matter what happens, no more tears.”


Tara smiled. “I like that.”
Her smile faded slightly. “Are we all going to live?”


“No.”

Dawn/The Key smiled.
“But like I said, that’s not a reason to be sad. I can’t explain more, but I meant what I said, you will never have reason for sad tears.”


“Oh. Um, I’ll have to think about that a little.”
She looked up again.
“Is there anything else you can tell me?”


Dawn/The Key’s smile brightened until the world was white.
“You are loved more than any in all creation.”



+++



When her sight cleared Tara looked around.
The Scooby gang was stirring.

Dawn was standing on her feet, looking puzzled.
“I feel really weird.”


Tara smiled, happy to have grey-eyed Dawn back.
“I’m not surprised. I’m actually impressed you are still standing.”


“I feel… happy, I guess?”


Xander groaned. “Are we alive? My head hurts, so we must be alive.”
He opened his eyes and blinked. “Yep. Dead people don’t see spots, I’m pretty sure of it.”


Tara moved over to Willow, who was slowly stirring. “Willow? Are you alright?”


“Mmm, yeah. Little swimmy, but I’ll be ok.”
She opened her eyes. “Why is it dark in here?”


Tara helped her up. “It isn’t Sweetie. But it’s going to take a few minutes for everyone’s eyes to recover.”


Faith groaned. “Aww man. I gotta pee.”


“Can you see?” Buffy asked.


“Yeah. Mostly. Enough to find the bathroom, anyways.”


Faith clambered to her feet, and staggered off in search of a bathroom, Buffy tagging along to help.

As their eyes recovered, the room slowly filled with light of all colours. The mighty stone pillar now floated free, almost imperceptibly rotating.


“Pretty!” Willow said. She blinked. “I think it’s pretty. That could actually be the coloured lights inside my head, but something is pretty!”


“That was a real bright light Dawn. I think you won the ‘who can make the brightest light’ competition. Like, forever,” Xander said, getting to his feet. “Are my legs meant to feel like rubber?”


“Yep,” Willow said as she got up, helped by Tara. “Magic is feeling like rubber legs. So hey Xander, welcome to the rubber leg club.”


“I still feel weird,” Dawn said. “Not like rubber legs, but like I’ve lost my car keys, and I should know where they are, but I don’t.”


“That I can explain,” Tara said. “But I should wait until we’re all together.”


“I rather feel like a sit down,” Giles said. “And a spot of tea wouldn’t go amiss.”


“To the Scooby lounge!” Xander said.


“Too far,” Anya said tiredly.


“To the new Scooby lounge!”



+++



“This lounge is less good than the other lounge, which is our lounge,” Buffy said.


“Huh?”


“Sorry. Still feeling a little woogy.”


Given the total lack of furniture in the new Scooby lounge, they were all sprawled on the couches, stored in the main library hall.
This was the first room to have carpet, and thus was where all the furniture was stored temporarily.


“Does this place feel different?” Xander asked, looking around curiously.


“It bloody well should do,” Giles said. “Considering what we just did.”


“Well, explain it for the hard of thinking then, because I don’t really know.”


“This is our home Xander,” Tara said softly.


“Yep. With you so far.”


“No, not just a place we live,” Willow added. “We have claimed this place as our home on a mystical level.”


“And stood on a mountain, and shouted it from the top,” Anya said. “Like that movie with the talking lions, and the big rock.”


“Is this like when Tara came home? All the magic-y people knew all about it?” Buffy asked.


Giles let out a most un-Giles-like helpless laugh and shook his head. “Mpf! Buffy, if there were people living on the moon, they would have felt that. It’s safe to say that our particular slice of the world knows that something is up. I can only imagine what it looked like from the outside.”


“So this place is Scooby central?” Xander said. “Like, really really?”


“Yep!” Willow replied brightly. “This place is more ours than if we had the title deeds in our names, a flag outside and our names carved in every wall.”


“So, yeah,” Buffy said. “That a definite ‘yep’ right there.”


“Not gonna be long before the goddess squad shows up to ask what the hell that was about,” Faith said.



+++



“An accident?!” Brigandu said, her voice going high with disbelief.

Willow looked embarrassed, and looked at her feet.

“This is now a holy site, to rival any in the world!” she continued. “This place is now sacred to the Goddess, and Brighid as well, and it was an accident?”


“Hey, don’t give Willow a hard time about this,” Buffy said, frowning.


Brigandu held up her hands in a placating gesture. “I’m not attacking anyone, really. I am just blown away. Usually when someone says ‘accident’ I think spilled sugar, or maybe scratched the paint on a car, not ‘accidentally created a fortress of light in the name of Brighid.’”


“Finishing it was no accident,” Xander said. “It was the ‘doing’ that went a bit wrong.”


“We put the symbols of Brighid and the Goddess in our spell working, out of respect,” Tara explained. “And we had plans for the future. The accident came when two, um, kids finished the spell-work, without asking. We then had to complete the spell, before something bad happened.”


“The spell is massive,” Fiona said quietly. “It makes the spells on the Motherhouse in Kildare look like cardboard.”


“And those were built up over millennia,” Brigandu said shaking her head in disbelief. “Some of the strongest wards on earth.”
She looked at the pooped-looking Scoobies. “There are no words to describe the power of that spell. None. That may have been the single greatest spell in the history of the world.”


“If there is ever to be a final battle between the light and the dark, it will be decided here,” Aibreann said reverentially.
“Whatever happens next, this has been a momentous day.”

She smiled at them all. “Even if you achieve nothing else with your time, you can say your lives were well-spent.”


Buffy made a noise. “Pfft. We have loads more to do yet. Nobody’s getting off that easily.”


Brigandu shook her head. “This is bigger than ‘man walks on the moon.’ This is ‘mankind invents fire’ kind of big. The world will be forever changed. Now there will always be two worlds. The world before this was done, and the world after.”


“Well, we couldn’t let Willow and Tara die. It’s Willow’s birthday tomorrow,” Buffy said, as if that explained everything.


At the disbelieving looks, she responded. “What? There’s chocolate and presents and everything!”



+++

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:28 am 
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8. Vixen
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Dibs-y Goodness! :applause :bounce :dumbo

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that the Fortress of Light spell went off without too much problems... I'm guessing that PTB's are not very happy about that...

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Posting while nude improves your mood...


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Wow, two great chapters since the last time I managed to sit down and write a reply. It was good seeing Willow and Tara and Faith deliver the welcome to America orientation. Though I'm curious how the more puritanical women in the crowd handled the knowledge that 80% of the Slayer Academy / New Watchers Council are lesbians. And then the downright horrifying real world issue came up.

I remember the first time I ever heard about female genital mutilation. It was way back in college and teachers from both one of my English writing classes and an Anthropology class had us research the issue. The Anthropology class pointed out a handful of actually useful articles from scientific journals. They detailed the issue, pointed out how the practice is performed in both downright horrible conditions (i.e. village "witch doctor" mud huts in remote regions of Africa) and fairly modern hospitals in other countries (i.e. the Middle East). The scientific journal pieces pointed out how sexist trends have caused just about all political and diplomatic figures in the West to outright ignore the problem, and how societal indoctrination in the areas where it's practiced cause far too many women to buy into the necessity of female circumcision. They also pointed out how in many of the worst regions there are widely held religious beliefs that claim sex with a virgin is the best way to cure any STD.

And then the English writing class just told us to take a day in the computer lab and "google it." The articles that came up there either vastly underestimated the problem or were written by outright sociopaths who claimed female circumcision prevents AIDS.

On a lighter note if you can find it in yourself to enjoy gallows humor I recommend listening to the score/soundtrack from The Book of Mormon Broadway Musical or seeing the show itself. Female genital mutilation and medicinal virgin rape come up in the story as two examples of just how unprepared the two 19 year old Mormon missionary lead characters were when they were sent to Uganda.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:19 am 
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Hiya all!

@Citanul Yeah. Culture shock don't even begin to cover it :P
But on a lighter note, one of the epilogue vignettes involves the United Nations, and an angry Faith. :)
:whip

Shiny new episode, right here:

Warning! This episode is generally fluffy, but contains discussion of That Episode™. Please keep that in mind.



Birthday Bliss (AKA Chocolate & Presents & Everything. AKA Tara gets mad.)



“So, Whatcha getting them?” Buffy said excitedly.

She and Willow were sitting in the shade of a tree, watching the last few workmen finishing their home.


“I’d tell you, but then I’d have to tickle you,” Willow said with a smirk. “Plus, Faith’s listening in. How’s it going to be a surprise if she knows already?”


Buffy held up a finger. “Good point. Let me hang up the Faith phone.”


’Hey, uh… Faith.’ she sent on their private line.


’Wassup, B? Did ya forget my name?’ Faith replied with a psychic chuckle.


’No, I was going for a new cutie name, and I totally blanked. Anyway, Willow wants to tell me all about your birthday present, so I’m hanging up the phone.’


’This is revenge for the other day, isn’t it?’


’Totally! See you in a bit.’

And Buffy closed the connection they shared, down to a trickle, Faith grumbling as she did so.

“There, done. I’ve hung up the Faith phone, which is only fair, because she did it to me when Tara wanted to talk about something. And she still won’t tell me.”

She grinned and leaned forward. “Ok Wills, spill! What have you got Faith and Xander?”


“What to get the Slayer who has everything?” she said with a grin. “Well, I don’t know Faith super well, so I was going to just stick with chocolates. But then I bumped into Mary, who is organizing the most amazing chocolate present ever.”


“Really?”


Willow’s eyes widened. “Really. You have no idea. We’re all sharing, so it’s not like it’s totally Faith’s, which is a good thing, because if it’s possible to die of chocolate poisoning, this will do it.”


“Sounds good! What is it?”


“A twenty pound block of Belgian chocolate, and a small axe.”


“Well if you don’t want to say-”


“No really. I’m totally serious, Buff. Mary made a similarly huge brick of brittle toffee, but the main thing is a massive cube of chocolate, and a sort of toffee-hammer axe thing. Apparently she read something about post-natal depression, and cocoa helps. So she made, or just got, an enormous block of chocolate, and you use the shiny little axe to hack chunks off with. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”


“Whoa,” Buffy said, wide eyed. “What does a twenty pound block of chocolate even look like?”


“It’s a big brown cube, bigger than your head. Really, its crazy huge. We are going to be so sick of chocolate.”


“Not. Possible.” Buffy said seriously.


Willow giggled and waggled a finger at her friend. “You say that now. Wait till you really see it.”


“So, what did you get her?”


“Well, she can buy almost anything she wants, so me and Tara got started on a few things we were planning to do, a bit early. We got you both a whole bunch of baby books of course, and the cutest little baby booties. They’re so cute! They made me cry and get all clucky.”

Buffy raised an eyebrow.

Willow shrugged and smiled shyly. “It’s baby season, I guess.” She grinned knowingly at Buffy. “Probably helped by the cutest little kids running around all last week.”


Buffy flushed pink and looked away in embarrassment.
Willow laughed brightly.


“Tara doesn’t know, but I got three sets, and hid the other two.”


Buffy chuckled. “I figured it was only a matter of time.”


“But that’s not even the real present. The real present is magic!”


“Oh, do tell!” Buffy said excitedly.


“Well, we were going to start putting protection spells on everybody’s armour, after we reverse-engineered the spells on Tara’s armour.”


“Oohhh,” Buffy said, appreciatively.


“But we’re not there yet, plus that would be kinda pointless, given that you and Faith are kinda bullet-proof, and no we haven’t figured out why yet.”


“But-”


“What about the baby?” Willow interrupted. “Yep, we thought of that. So we’re going to enchant Faith’s belly plate with protection spells.”


“Nice,” Buffy said brightly.


“But that’s not very present-y, so what we’re going to do is put the first batch of other spells on her armour. The ‘air conditioning’ spell on Tara’s armour turns out to be pretty simple, and I already knew a waterproofing spell. Plus, because she’s all pregnant and stuff, it gives us time to work before she goes on patrol. Plus her armour gets pretty runes!”


“Oh, she’ll like that,” Buffy said. “Especially anything that hints at her getting back to work. She’s been a little bit worried that I’m going to run off and leave her at home to be a housewife.”


“You mean you’re not?” Willow said with a smirk.


Buffy poked out her tongue. “No. We’re thinking that we’ll both take the week off when Hope is born. After that part-time work maybe?”


“Good plan. I know sitting on the sidelines isn’t your style. Faith’s either.”


Buffy nodded. “It’s true. I guess I’ve gotten used to being ‘the chosen one’. Anyhoo, on to more fun things. What did you get Xander? And what do you think he’s gotten you?”


“Ah! Well, we’re going to give his armour all the protection spells we can think of. Really, he’s the guinea pig for all this stuff. Oh, and a floaty spell so he doesn’t go splat if he falls off something high.”


“I approve of this Xander-saving gift. Anything that keeps Xander more alive gets my vote.”


“Yep,” Willow said. “I mean he has all the tools he’s ever going to need, plus on the slaying front he has that magical sword, stolen from heaven even. Topping that would be hard. And that’s without all the weapons he’s collected. So other than the magic stuff, we’re going to do what we always do: scrape together a bunch of money, and buy all the shiny things that we see in town.”


“Fingers crossed there’s no zombie attacks or anything,” Buffy said with a sour look.


Willow rolled her eyes. “One time, Buffy. That happened one time.”


“Yeah, but it really stuck with me! Zombies!” Buffy said, a horrified expression on her face. “Zombies are super gross! Eew! Eew-eew-eew-eew-eew!”


“Yeah, that was pretty bad. But, on the plus side, I think there’s a good chance that this year, dead people showing up to a party will be a good thing.”


“Uh?” Buffy said uncertainly.


“Jesse! Jesse is going to try and join us for the day.”


“Oh cool! Xander will love that.”


“Me too. Don’t forget, I’ve known Jesse nearly as long as Xander.”


“Well, you two certainly had fun when he was here last time. Also, do you know what Xander’s getting you?”


Willow shook her head. “Nope, but I think it involves wood. I saw orders from a speciality timber place, so I’m guessing something woody.”


“Wood is good. Faith and I got you something too,” Buffy said with a smirk. “Not wood though.”


“Nothing wrong with things that are not wood. Chocolate is not-wood.”


“Yeah, Mary’s got that covered. More chocolate and we might go boom, and end the world or something. Or at least feel really icky. But I got you something, and Faith got her favourite cousin something, and then we got something for the both of you.”


“Well now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now,” Willow said happily.


“Will you be able to get to sleep?” Buffy asked with a smirk.


“I’m not a little kid you know. I’m perfectly capable of getting to sleep before my birthday,” Willow said with a slight huff.
“Oh who am I kidding. Tara will have to put me to sleep.”


“Well she does have that stamina you mentioned,” Buffy said with a cheeky grin.


“Buffy!”



+++



Faith blinked blearily, and rubbed her protruding tummy absently.
A fair stretch of skin was visible between her tank top, and the top of her boxers.
“Jesus, you two are up early.”


Xander and Willow were ensconced on a couch, pyjama-clad, watching cartoons and eating icecream.
On a table behind them was a pile of brightly wrapped presents. Front and centre were two huge, wrapped boxes, almost large enough to hide in.

“Yep!” Willow said brightly. It’s our birthday, why wouldn’t we be?”


“Plus, icecream, cartoons and presents!” Xander said.


Faith gave them a look. “Are you sure that kiddie potion is all worn off?”


Xander just grinned and ate icecream.

“Come on Faith! Grab a seat and some icecream!” Willow said, patting to the couch.


Faith staggered over and collapsed onto the couch next to Willow. “Ugh. I got up to pee… like for the third time tonight. I was gonna get a snack, but screw it, I just can’t be humped.”


“Icecream?” Xander said, proffering a bowl.


“Eh, sweet. Thanks Xan-man.”


“No Buffy?” Willow said, rummaging through a box of comic books.


“Nah. I woke her up enough. Plus she’s gonna have to do all the getting up, feeding the baby and changing the diapers. Figure I’ll let her get all the rest she’s gonna need,” Faith said with a grin.


“Um, you’re not gonna…” Willow shrugged helplessly.


“Breast feed? Eh, I’ll just let B roll me over and she can attach the little bug. No reason I have to be awake.”


Xander failed to stifle his laughter at the image that produced.

“Sorry, it was just funny.”


Faith smiled. “Yeah.”
She yawned. “Icecream for breakfast, whoda thunk it?”
She took a spoonful. “Mmm… chocolate. I’m not usually a fan, but right now,” she shrugged. “It’s all good.”


“Hormones?” Willow said, smirking.


“Well I wasn’t gonna say anything, but yeah,” Faith said, licking the icecream off her spoon. “Pass me some o’ them comics?”


“Got a favourite?” Xander said, pulling the box closer.


“Wolverine?” Faith said. “I always liked him.”


Xander sorted through the comics and handed over a stack of them, in order. “One whole series, enjoy.”


“Wicked. Can’t remember the last time I just blobbed out and read comics,” Faith said. “Though, check me out, I’m getting’ good at the blobby thing.”


“Not long now,” Willow said with a little smile.


“Yep. Which is why the G-man and his gang are planning so hard. I think they’re worried that you-know-who is gonna do something really crazy. So they wanna beat them to the punch.”


“And do something equally crazy?” Willow asked worriedly.


“Yep.”


“No more apocalypse talk,” Xander grumbled. “It’s our birthday. Only fun stuff is allowed to happen today.”


“Cool.” Faith thought for a while. “Uh… tryin’ to think of something to say that’s not work related.”
Her eyes fell on the comic. “Uh hey! So my folks were pretty crappy, an’ I figure yours weren’t that great either.”


“Mine sort of forgot that I existed,” Willow said. “Xander’s were… worse.”


“How is this fun?” Xander said, frowning. “I mean, one of the bonuses of living in a whole other state, is not having to deal with the crappy parental units.”


“Uh, yeah. Sorry. I meant that I sort of used to imagine what it would be like to have different parents, ‘y’know?”

They nodded.

“And I read a lot of comic books. So I used to wonder what it would be like to have a superhero as a dad, y’know?”


“Batman,” Xander said, without the slightest hesitation.


Willow giggled. “It’s always batman! When you’re not imagining you’re batman, you want him as a dad?”


“Well… yeah. Batman is cool! He’s like, the realest superhero. All the others were born with powers and stuff, but he wasn’t. And he didn’t care, he just got to training, and made some cool gizmos, and kicked ass.”


“Also he was crazy rich,” Faith added.


“Which doesn’t hurt,” Xander added.


“Sounds kinda familiar,” Willow said smirking. “Though if you put pointy ears on your helmet, you’re going to get teased.”


A slow smile spread over Xander’s face. “I’m Batman.”


Faith laughed. “Yeah, prettymuch.”


“I’m Batman,” Xander said.


“You said that already.”


“Holy cow, I’m batman!”


“Yep. You’re a genuine superhero,” Willow said.


“Wow. Best birthday ever!”
He turned to Willow. “What about you Willster? Who did you want as a parent?”


Willow looked thoughtful. “Um, I’ve thought about a few superheroes, but only as people I’d want to be. Or um, date.”


Faith grinned. “So who’d you wanna-”



“Wonder Woman,” Willow said before Faith had even finished the sentence.


“That was quick,” Xander said. “Clearly you’ve put some thought into this.”


“Well… Linda Carter was really sexy. And no way is Wonder-woman straight.”


“True dat.”


“Something in the water,” Xander muttered.


“Hush you,” Willow said, poking Xander with one finger.


“So, before we give Xander images he really shouldn’t have, back to the parent thing.”


Willow thought a bit longer. “Batman I guess.”


“Huh, two for batman. How come?”


“Well, too many superheroes have mental issues to be even remotely good parents. At least Bruce Wayne, well he’s scary intense, but you know he cares. And you know he’ll move heaven and earth to look after his kids. Anyone else is likely to get trapped on another planet, get taken over by aliens or just forget they have kids, or just not deal. Not Batman.”


“Jesus. You put way too much thought into that,” Faith said, shaking her head.


“Also rich,” Willow said, with a smirk.


“Money is good,” Xander added. “What about you?”


“Wolverine,” Faith replied. “He’s just chill, y’know? If I brought home a cute little blonde chick, he’d be cool. And probably get me a beer.”


“Plus if Wolverine is your dad, you’d probably end up with the whole healing factor immortality thing, which is pretty cool,” Willow said, bouncing slightly.


“Also a plus.”


“Though knowing our luck, if we did live in superhero world, we’d likely end up with some crazy-person like Magneto as a dad,” Willow said.


“Nah.”


Faith saw Willow glance at the table covered in presents.

“I saw that. We gonna open them, or what?”


Willow looked horribly conflicted. “Um, no. I mean, I want to, but we should really wait until everyone else is up and about. So they can join in too.”


“Join in?” Faith said. “Whose presents are they?”


“Well, ours,” Willow said guiltily. “But everyone’s going to want to see us open them. And see how pleased we are and stuff!”


’B! get up! We wanna open the presents!’ Faith sent.


’Urgh! Don’t shout. I was going to get up in a bit anyway.’


’Well Red won’t open stuff until everyone’s here to be impressed. And I don’t wanna wait all damn day.’


Buffy grumbled mentally. ‘’ Alright alright. I’m up. And what are you doing up so early?’


Faith smirked. ’YOUR kid woke me up by tap-dancing on my kidneys. And I figured I’d get breakfast while I was up.’


’Great. This is how it’s going to be huh? When she does something awesome and cute, she’s your kid. And when she’s a pain, she’s my kid.’Buffy said silently.


’Yep. Now get down here, there’s presents to open!’


’Ugh. What about the others?’


‘G-man gets up pretty early. Surprised we haven’t seen him already. Anya’s at the Magic Box, doin’ the books. Give her a call and roll ya sister out of bed, and we’re good to go.’


’Alright, but only because you’re the birthday girl.’


’And not because I’m the mother of your child?’ Faith said, somehow mentally sounding like she was close to tears.


’That too. See you in a few minutes.’


“B will be down in a bit,” Faith said, switching to happy mode.


Willow bounced happily. “Yay! I can’t wait to open the pressies!”


Faith grinned. “Yeah. Me either. Gotta say, this is gonna be a first for me.”


“The first of many, we hope,” Xander said.


“Sure. Sounds good.”
She eyed the pile of presents. “I can’t help wonder what some that stuff even is. I mean, some of those are fucking huge.”


Xander stretched out with a happy yawn and a grin. “Well, two of the big ones are from me. The other big one is from Giles. And no, I have no idea what it is.”


“I can tell you what one of your presents is,” said a new voice from the doorway.


The three looked around. “Jesse!” Willow squeaked.


“In the flesh. Kinda,” Jesse said with a grin from the doorway.


Willow disentangled herself from the couch and glomped him in a huge hug.

“Joyce said she’ll be along in a little bit. She’s…” Jesse cleared his throat and grinned. “She’s spending quality time with Giles.”


Faith grinned. “Booty call for the G-man. Nice.”


“I told her to hang a sock on the door handle, but I don’t know if she heard me,” Jesse said. “I think she’s planning to surprise him with a little personal time, before she visits the rest of the gang.”


“Wicked. Should be good for making B squirm a little.”


Jesse opened his mouth to say something and glanced at Faith’s protruding tummy. “Whoa! You’re really showing. You look like you’re ready to pop any day now.”


Faith shrugged. “Yeah. We don’t have long. We reckon the Powers that Be are gonna do something desperate any day now, so Giles and the gang are cooking up some kind of attack plan. Which I’ll just bet is what Mrs S is here for.”


Jesse nodded. “Yeah, she looked a little tense.”


“Giles should fix that right up,” Faith said.


Willow just giggled.
Jesse went crosseyed.

And then Buffy wandered in, looking rumpled.
She yawned. “Hey crazy people. Whatcha doing up so early?”


“It’s the big birthday, Buffy! It’s as good as hanumastice!” Willow burbled.


Dawn and Heather bounced in, looking alarmingly fresh and chipper.

Buffy just groaned. “Look at you! All dressed and ready for the day. What’s wrong with you?”


Dawn smirked. “Well we had an early night. So, early morning.”


“I don’t want to know,” Buffy grumbled. “You two hold hands, and that’s all I want to know.”


Dawn rolled her eyes and Heather just grinned. “Well hands are involved, sure.”


“Pull up a pew and help us with the presents,” Faith said.


“Just in time,” Tara said, as she strolled in, clad in fluffy pyjamas and a robe.


Willow grinned. “It’s like you read my mind.”
She patted her lap. “Sit here baby.”
Tara sat down with only a slight wiggle, Willow hugging her enthusiastically.


Buffy groaned and absently dragged a couch over, Heather and Dawn moving another up close.
A huge collection of presents was piled on the table.


“Shouldn’t we wait for Giles?” Buffy asked.


Dawn smirked. “No. Really. I went by his suite and there was a ‘do not disturb except for apocalypse’ sign. And a sock on the door handle. So I’m thinking no, let’s not wake him up.”


Buffy looked puzzled. “But in college a sock on the door meant… oh!”


“Yep.”


Willow smiled brightly. “Yay Giles, I guess. Um, I guess that means that your mom came-”

Buffy glared.

“For a visit,” Willow finished lamely.


“If not now, then fairly soon,” Faith said with a grin.


Buffy looked exasperated. “Can we not? I mean, I’m happy for them, but I’d really rather not think about my mom… and Giles… doing things.”


“Well, if there’s any truth to that Stevedore comment your mom made that time, they’ll be a while,” Willow said, eying the pile of brightly wrapped things eagerly.


With a flash of light, Anya appeared. “Hello les- everyone,” she said brightly.


“Still working on that human thing, huh?” Faith said.


“Hey, I remembered. Plus I got you presents.”
She sat down in Xander’s lap.
“Are we going to open them?”


Willow brightened.

“Willow obviously wants to open the presents. You can open mine first if you like.”


Willow eagerly dug through the presents, unearthing the ones labelled ‘from Anya’ in bold letters.
There was a large heavy bag for her, and a much smaller envelope for Faith.

Willow gave her a significant look.


“It’s safe to open in public,” Anya said in response. “Honestly, you buy one person a vibrator, and no one ever lets it go,” she muttered.


“It was huge!” Buffy said.


“You’re a Slayer. It was the most powerful one on the market. Anyway, now you’re a lesbian, so I’m sure Faith is stretching you out.”

Buffy stared in open mouthed shock.


Xander winced.
“So… presents?” He asked hopefully. “The nice ones that don’t get boyfriends killed by angry Slayers? Please?”


“Yes,” said Buffy, unamused. “Lets.”


Willow picked up the heavy, wrapped object. It was the size of a pillow and heavy. Really heavy. And it rattled.
She gave Anya a puzzled look. Anya grinned in her usual, slightly worrying way.

Willow gave up and opened the wrapping and blinked. It was a twenty pound bag of cereal. Muesli to be precise.
She really wasn’t expecting that.


“See, it’s your favourite!” Anya said brightly.


Tara brightened. “Oh! The one with all the nuts, and the honey crunchies?”


Anya bobbed her head cheerfully.

“Well, I have lots to share,” Willow said with a weak smile.


“I also had a word with our catering supplier, and we’ll be getting it in regularly. But this one’s all yours.”


“Thanks Anya. That’s… surprisingly thoughtful of you.”


“Ha! That’s nothing on Faith’s present. You’ll be overwhelmed by how thoughtful I was!”


Faith held the envelope at arms length. “Not gonna explode, is it?”


“That wouldn’t be very thoughtful, would it?” Anya replied. “Besides, if it did explode, you’d get flesh and organs all over everyone, and I am told that random organs are an inappropriate birthday gift.”


Faith looked at everyone else. No one seemed particularly surprized, or put out by Anya’s random gore comments.
She shrugged and tore open the envelope, everyone watching curiously.

Inside were a fat stack of legal documents.

“Uh, thanks. What is all this?”


“It’s a will,” Anya replied. “Also life insurance, a trust fund and stocks in some of the most reliable companies I could find.”


“Am I missing something?” Jesse said.


Anya sighed. “I know you don’t like thinking about this sort of thing, but that doesn’t stop bad things from happening. With this will, and these stocks, and the insurance, if anything happens to the Buffy, or even the rest of us, You and your baby will be set for life.”

Faith looked impressed.

“And if anything happens to you, Buffy is named as her legal guardian,” Anya added quietly.


“And this?” Faith said, holding up a brightly coloured business card with a pentagram on it.


“The best obstetrician in three universes. Seriously, he’s expensive, but he has never ever lost a baby. And he’s delivered demon queens.”


“Wow,” Buffy said. “That is very thoughtful.”


“Ha!” Anya said, looking around at all the others triumphantly.


“It’s not a competition,” Dawn groused.


“Well, that’s good then. Because you’d lose.”


“Hey hey, no fighting on our birthday… day,” Xander said. “It’s a rule. Tell ‘em Will.”


Willow nodded seriously. “It’s a rule.”


“Thanks uh, Anya.” Faith said.

Anya beamed.


“Who shall we open next?” Willow asked excitedly.


“Giles,” Anya replied promptly. “He’s busy servicing Joyce, so we won’t be seeing him for a while,” she said in a very matter of fact tone.

Silence followed.


Faith grinned. “Right. Let’s do Giles.”


“Actually, Joyce is taking care of that I think, but here are his presents.”
Anya pushed over a pile of oddly shaped things.

There was something heavy the size of a large encyclopaedia. Every veteran Scooby could identify it as a book with their eyes closed. It positively radiated bookish vibes.

There was a huge and lightweight package of such a bizarre shape, no one could figure it out.

Another huge and oddly shaped package that looked a lot like a wheelbarrow.

And lastly, a large and light, squishy parcel that practically shouted ‘clothes!’
All for Faith.

Willow had a small wrapped box as long as two or three of her small hands.
Xander had an envelope with his name on it.

“Wow. That’s like, more presents than I’ve had in my whole life, right there,” Faith said.


“Open some,” Xander said. “I have no idea what some of this stuff is.”


“B? wanna help?”


“Sure!” Buffy said, and enthusiastically tore the paper off the ‘wheelbarrow’.
It turned out to be a car-seat for a baby. A very good one.

“Wow,” Buffy said. “It’s a car seat.”


“For a baby,” Faith added. “Holy shit B, we’re gonna be parents!”


“Scared?”


“Fucking terrified.”


“Then I guess we’ll do alright.”


“My turn,” Faith said, and shredded the huge oddly shaped package.
Pieces of coloured wrapping flew like confetti, to reveal a baby stroller.


“Whoa. It’s one of the good ones,” she said, folding it out. “Check it out, it’s got knobbly tires! This thing is bad-ass!”
And indeed, it was a sports model stroller, made for mums and dads who liked to take their kids for a run. It came complete with big sturdy wheels.


“Is this all going to be baby things?” Buffy asked. “Has Giles gone all clucky on us?”


“Heh, I am so gonna call him ‘grampa’ when I see him next,” Faith said.

That got a laugh from almost everyone.

“Well, I’m gonna use my new psychic powers and say that this is a book,” Faith said, hefting the book-shaped package.


One quick peel showed that her powers had not failed her. It was indeed a book. A crisp new hardback textbook with the word ‘Slayer’ embossed in gold leaf on its smooth leather cover.


“Huh,” Buffy said. “I was expecting ‘Vampire’ on the cover, complete with old timey bad spelling.”


“Giles wanted to make it about the Slayers, not just the monsters they fought,” Willow said.


“We all worked on it,” Dawn added. “Even Faith.”


“I did?” Faith said.


“Sure. There’s a big chapter in there all about you, and your story,” Dawn said brightly.


“Giles really didn’t want to make any of the old mistakes. So there’s a bit in there about alienation, desperation, and what it can make you do,” Willow explained.


“Not sure I like that,” Faith said with a frown.


“You will when you read it,” Dawn said. “And it’s not just you. There’s a lot in there about Giles too.”


“It’s all about how to be a Slayer, Faith,” Tara said. “A real Slayer, like you and Buffy. Not a throwaway tool, like the old council would have had.”


“And this is the historic first edition!” Willow chirped brightly.


“You should check the dedication,” Xander said.


“We all signed it,” Dawn added.


Faith cracked open the book, which had the sharp smell of new printing, and looked.


For Buffy and Faith. May we all aspire to their greatness
And it was signed by all the Scoobies, in various colours that could only have come from Willow’s collection of pens.

“Wow. Shit B, we’re in a fucking book!”


“That is weird. But kinda cool too.”


“I should probably let Giles tell you this stuff,” Dawn said. “But it’s his way of saying sorry for all the things that went wrong.”


Buffy shrugged. “Eh. I forgave him for all that stuff ages ago.”


“Next present!” Anya said. “More happy things please.”


Faith grabbed the last of her large parcels from Giles, and tore it open.
Inside was a pile of baby clothes, pacifiers and a pair of t-shirts.

One shirt was red and printed with ‘I have the most beautiful baby in the world.’
The other was pink and said ‘proud mommy’ in gold sparkles.

Buffy had tears in her eyes. “Oh Giles, you big softie.”


And for once, neither Anya, nor Faith went for the obvious joke.
Faith just gave her a squeeze.

“I’m getting’ the feelin’ the G-man is lookin’ forward ta bein’ a gramps,” Faith said, emotion sharpening her accent.

Buffy nodded silently.


After a moment to collect her thoughts, Faith held up the last of the items with ‘Faith’ written in Giles’ distinctive hand.
“Hopin’ this ain’t another will.”

She opened it and read closely for a while. Eventually she grinned and handed the two slips to Buffy.
Buffy glanced down, saw ‘Tahiti’ and squealed with joy.

Willow waggled her finger in her ear. “Ow. And you say you’re nothing like Dawn?”


“Ohmigod Giles!” Buffy said, bouncing in Faith’s crowded lap. “All expenses paid! My second three, favourite words! Heeheeheehee!”


Willow giggled. “Oh wow, the operating budget is never going to recover from this.”


“Not if I can help it!” Buffy said gleefully.


Willow put on her sternest face, and waggled her finger at Buffy. “Do not buy Tahiti. We have nowhere to put it, so just leave it where it is.”


“Challenge accepted,” Buffy said, grinning madly.


“Two tickets for a five star hotel on Tahiti,” Faith said. “All expenses paid. For a freaking month!”


“Whoa!” Xander said. “When is it?”


Buffy checked. “Any time this year, or next.”


“I’m pretty sure that’s meant to be a honeymoon,” Dawn said. “I also think you can get married in Tahiti.”


“Cool,” Faith said.


“You realize we’re all coming to the wedding, right?” Xander said.


“Sure. Wouldn’t be a wedding unless all of you were there, Xan.”


“Xander’s turn!” Willow said, piling things in front of him.


“But Giles only gave me one present,” he complained, waving a very formal looking fat envelope around.


“Have yourself a magic baby, and that might change,” Faith said with a wink.


“How would I… never mind, I don’t want to know.”
He opened the envelope and read the official looking documents.
He grinned.

“Ahn, honey? This one’s for you.”


Anya looked confused. “What? It’s not my birthday. And I’m dead, what would I need with presents?”


She looked at the paperwork read carefully, rereading some parts, until her eyes widened. “Oh Xander. You are getting so much sex tonight. All the dirty things you ever wanted to try? Tonight it happens.”


Xander’s good eye widened. “You mean?”


Anya smiled brightly. “Yes! Though we might have to look around for some of the things we need. I don’t think the campus has any-mrph!” she said, as Xander desperately covered her mouth and looked around nervously. “Eh heh.”


Buffy looked slightly put off.
Dawn looked alarmingly curious. “Butterscotch pudding?”


Xander shrugged helplessly.
“And on to presents that don’t get Xander killed. Anya honey? Please don’t tell everyone our sex stuff.”


“But it’s so fun watching them squirm,” she protested. “And you turn such a bright shade of red.”


She grinned alarmingly at everyone. “Honestly, americans are so prudish about this sort of thing. Scandanavian countries have no problem with- mphf.”

She grinned at Xander’s furiously blushing face behind his mouth-covering hand.


Dawn’s brow furrowed. “What does Scan-”


“Don’t,” Buffy warned. “Don’t set her off again.”


“And now you see why,” Faith paused, reading the paperwork that Xander had dropped, “Giving the crazy Viking-girl ownership of the Magic Box, is a present for Xander.”


“Giles is surprisingly cunning,” Willow said. “Now I’m worried what he got me,” she said holding up her small parcel.


It was about the size of a cigar box, or an old-school pencil box, and slightly heavy.


“One way to find out sweetie,” Tara said, rubbing her back reassuringly. “I am certain it’s nothing embarrassing,” she said with quiet confidence.


“Ok. Here goes.”


Willow carefully unwrapped her present. It was an oiled wooden box, polished to a soft shine.

“Ooo,” Buffy said. “It looks old-y.”


“It feels old,” Willow said.
She opened it, and looked within.
Inside was a large ebon handled blade, a smaller ivory handled one, and a note.
The blades were of Damascus steel, patterned in shades of grey and silver.


“That is a very impressive Athame,” Tara said.
She picked up the note and read. “The Athamé and Boline of Agtha Gyles, witch. This is true Damascus steel, and its like has not been seen in centuries. When two metals become one, something is made which is greater than the sum of the two parts. As it is with you and Tara. Agtha was a truly exceptional witch in her own right, and a terror upon those who roused her wrath. I can think of none better to bear them.” Tara’s mouth twisted into a crooked grin. “P.S. Yes, Tara can share them.”


“Wow,” Willow said, lifting them out of the box.


“Those things are old,” Dawn said. “They stopped making real Damascus steel centuries ago, and they lost the art.”


Tara tested the edge. “This is really sharp,” she said, impressed.
She examined them closely. “They’ve been cleansed, but we’ll need to dedicate them before we can use them.”


“This is a piece of history, baby. Giles’ history. These things belong in a museum.”


Xander shook his head. “These things are tools, Will. They were made to be used, and they’re Giles’ to give. I think he’d be upset if you put them away and never used them.”


“Wow. Next year is going to have a lot to live up to.”


“Which neatly segues into my presents,” Dawn said brightly.
She handed over two of the now-familiar fat, official-looking envelopes.
One marked ‘Tara/Willow,’ and the other ‘Faith’. Xander got a squishy parcel.

Xander tore his open to discover a thick red knitted sweater. On the chest was ‘world’s Best uncle’ knitted in with white wool.
“Cool!” he said. “Now I’m looking forward to the winter! Thanks Dawnie!”


Dawn beamed. “No problem.”


She turned to Faith. “You want to open yours next, because Willow’s is going to be a hard act to follow.”


Faith nodded, and tore the envelope carefully open.
Inside were two books of coupons, each printed with an etching of Dawn, and ‘World Bank of Dawn. Entitles the bearer to one free babysitting, no questions asked.’
She handed one to Buffy. “Oh, we are sooo gonna use these.”


Dawn smiled. “Sure. But there’s only fifty, and they have serial numbers, so no photocopying them.”


Buffy pouted. “Well, there goes my clever plan.”


“I’m almost nervous,” Willow said, eying her envelope.


Dawn shook her head, her braid waggling. “Don’t be. You’ll like it, though it’s a little like Xander’s present from Giles.”


“I get a shop too?” Willow said, opening the envelope carefully.

Inside was a folded bundle of paperwork. A driver’s licence dropped out, with Tara’s face on it.
Tara picked it up. It read ‘Tara Elizabeth Giles.’

Willow held up a birth certificate. “What a cute little footprint!”


“It’s the real footprint too,” Dawn said. “We got it from your original one, which now has a different footprint.”


“Woohoo, baby! You’re legal!”


Tara smiled happily. “Thank you Dawnie.”


“No problemo. There’s a whole background in there, so, you should have a look at it sometime. We kept everything as close as possible to reality, so it’s not like you have to learn Spanish or anything.”


“Que pasa?” Tara said.


“Funny.”


“Thank you Dawnie,” Willow added. “It means a lot to me that you’re looking out for my girl,” she said, squeezing Tara tight.


Dawn smiled “Thanks.”


“Where’s mine?” Xander said.


Dawn felt around behind the couch until she came up with a large rattle-y box. “Here. But I’m saving it. You’ll see why in a minute.”


Xander pouted. “I don’t get to open my present?”


Dawn raised one eyebrow, Tara-style. “You only have to wait a couple of minutes. And give up on the pout. I grew up dealing with Willow’s sad-puppy face, so you have no chance.”


Xander grinned. “Worth a try.”


“Well, in that case,” he said, “I guess it’s my turn.”
He twisted around and groped behind the couch, coming up with a cardboard box. He pulled out a small blue drawstring bag and peeked inside.
“Will, this is yours.” And handed it over.


Willow and Tara both peeked into the bag, Willow pulling out a polished wooden plaque. It was so shiny she could see her face in it, and carved into it in neat, gold-filled letters were the words ‘Rosenberg-Giles residence.’

Willow squeaked with joy. “Thank you Xander. Um. Baby, I can’t reach Xander, can you hug him for me?”


Tara chuckled, and hugged Xander.


“You give good hug,” Xander said when they parted.


“I learned from the best.”


“Uh, Will? That’s not actually your present. It’s just a bonus. I’ve got one for everybody.”


And he handed them out one at a time to everyone, hesitating only slightly when he got to Dawn.
“Sorry if it’s a bit premature.”


Dawn opened her bag, and took out a plaque marked ‘Summers-O’connor Residence’.
She blinked in surprise.
“Honey? Wanna move in with me?”


“Yep!”


“That was easy. Thanks Xander”


“Don’t kill me,” was Xander’s reply, though he wasn’t looking at her, he was looking at Buffy, apprehensively.


Buffy sighed. “Relax you guys. I’m not going to blow a seal. Dawnie’s all grown up now. I may not like it, but I do get it.”


Anya frowned. “I was under the impression that American law was against that sort of thing. Why would you bl-”
Xander whispered in her ear.
“Ah. I understand. How annoying, that would have made it easier to- mrpfh” she said as yet again Xander desperately put his hand over her mouth.


“Let’s all pretend that that never happened,” Buffy said.


Faith opened their bag, and took out a similarly polished plaque reading ‘Summers-Lehane residence.’ “Thanks Xander.”


Xander nodded curtly, still blushing furiously.


“We have a similar present,” Willow said. “In that it’s not specifically a birthday present, and it’s for everybody.”

Everybody paid attention.

“We’re reverse engineering the enchantments on Tara’s armour so we can all have air-conditioned, waterproof, ouchie proof armour. It’s not ready yet, but we’ve made a start. Which is where some of our presents come from.”


“And we’ll happily share, after Xander finishes,” Tara added.


“That’s my cue,” Xander said.

He dug through the presents until he found a flat one the size of an envelope, and handed it to Faith.


“Cheers Xan-dude,” she said, and peeled the paper off to reveal another official-looking envelope.
She tore the end off, and tipped the contents out, to reveal a small card, a key-ring, some stickers and a smaller amount of paperwork.


“That, Faith,” Xander said “Is premium membership to the local classic car club, which includes free servicing, priority repairs, and access to the racetrack.”


“Wicked! As soon as the little bun pops out, ya wanna go down the track and lay some rubber, B?”


“I wouldn’t miss it.”


“Outstanding!”


“And here’s something I’ve been working on a little.”
He got up and carried over one of the really big boxes. It was clearly heavy.
“The plaques were sort of practice for this.”


“Jesus Xander, what the fuck is it? It’s huge!”


“Ah, I think I know,” Willow said knowingly.


Xander grinned. “Betcha don’t.”


“It’s wood.”


He nodded. “Yep. Only, nope. Because that’s not what it is, just what it’s made of.”


“Faith, honey? Do you want to open your present before someone gets hurt?” Buffy said, mock glaring at Xander.


“I might just do that, B.”

Faith tore the wrapping off, to reveal a grey woollen box.
“Uh, cool. What is it?”


“Padding. If you unwrap that, you find your present.”

Buffy hopped off Faith’s lap and knelt on the floor to help.
Together they pulled away the wool blanket to reveal Xander’s prize.

It was a big chest.
It was made of dark patterned wood, and polished so richly, that it looked like you could see into it forever.
It was carved with roses and thorns all around the border, and in the centre of the lid, was a simple scene of the sun rising over the edge of a hill.
A lot of love and work had gone into it.
It was beautiful.

“Wow,” Buffy said.
“Uh-huh.”


“American Walnut burl,” Xander said. “It’s a pain to work with, but it comes up really nice.”


“Jesus Xan. This is fucking amazing.”


“Thanks. Dawn did the art for it, and I built the box. So it’s really from both of us.”

Dawn beamed happily.


“Wow, thanks Dawn,” Buffy said.


“Uh-huh,” Faith grunted. “This is one of a kind.”


“Nearly,” Dawn said. “Buffy? You wanna drag the other huge present over?”


“Sure.” She grabbed the other huge box, feeling the same woollen underlay.


“Will? This one’s for you,” Xander said.


“I get a chest?” Willow said.

Xander nodded enthusiastically.

“Wanna help me with this, baby?”


Tara nodded. “Absolutely.”


Together they cheerfully shredded every part of the wrapping paper, even lifting the box to get the big sheet at the bottom, and they tore it into tiny bits.
When they were finished, there was brightly coloured confetti scattered all over.
Willow took a moment to lift a bit of green and yellow paper from Tara’s hair with a smile.


“Jeez Will, did you miss any?” Buffy said.


“You know Willow, Buffy. She’s very thorough,” Tara said, smirking.


“Yep,” Willow said, flushing very slightly.


Four hands peeled the grey wool back to reveal the box underneath.

It was beautiful.

Where Faith’s chest was dark, this was light, though no less shiny.
The white willow was so light it was white. Almost as white as Tara’s hair, and polished until it looked almost silver.
Instead of roses, the edge of the chest was decorated with cat-tails, as of a willow-tree in full bloom.
And the central picture showed the sun shining down on a hill. A hill with a willow-tree on top.


“I sense Dawnie’s work again,” Tara said softly.


Willow nodded dumbly.
She looked up.
“Wow Xander. This is amazing.”


Xander looked away bashfully. “Aww, shucks.”


“You too Dawn. This is a once in a lifetime thing.”


Dawn beamed. “Yay! Glad you like it!”

“See? I worked in a bunch of symbolism too. See, you’re a Willow tree, that bit’s pretty simple. And ‘Tara’ means ‘hill’ so the hill is for Tara. And if you look at the sun, it’s got the swirly pattern from your ring on it.”


“Wow. That’s really… complicated.”


“What about Faith’s box?” Buffy asked.


“The same. The sun is for ‘Summers,’ because ‘Buffy’ doesn’t translate to anything but ‘what was mom thinking?’”


“Hey!” Buffy said in protest.


“And Faith is a hill too, because Lehane translates to ‘grey hills.’ sorta.”


I was named after the famous arts-ballet lady-person that mom admired, Dawn.


Dawn smirked in the face of Buffy’s glare.

“Who’s next?” Dawn asked excitedly.


“Us!” Buffy said brightly, pointing to Faith and herself.


“One of the great things about being a couple, is being able to get one set of presents between ya,” Faith said.


“Hey, we got great presents!”


“I ain’t arguing.”


“Well, here’s ours, even if we are cheapskates,” Buffy said.
She plonked a slightly squishy, creaky parcel in the table, along with an extra large envelope.
Faith strongarmed a heavy box on from down the side of the couch, onto the table.


Xander closed his eyes and hummed, waving his arms around vaguely.
“I’m using my powers to detect… a jacket and a box of tools!”


Dawn just gave him a look. “Faith buys everyone a leather jacket. And you know about the tools, because she asked you what tools you needed, and what were the best brands.”


Xander grinned. “Yep. Still appreciated, thanks Faith.”


He opened his presents, and revealed, a nice leather jacket, and a big red toolbox.
“Awesome! Thanks you guys.”


“And this one’s from us too,” Buffy said, pushing the big envelope forward. “Faith helped me pick it out.”


He carefully tore the end off the envelope, and tipped it up.
Out dropped a comic.


Xander blinked. “Holy cow! A signed first edition X-men?! Wow, thanks Buff!”


“Keep it away from Andrew,” Faith said.


“Nah. He’s not into X-men.”


“I suppose that we’re next,” Tara said.
She passed over a large squishy parcel, which by now everyone could recognize as clothes.


“Baby, you didn’t need to get me anything,” Willow protested. “I wake up every day to the best present anyone could ever give.”


Tara smiled the soft smile she kept for Willow alone. “I know. I wake up to the same present. But here is another one anyway.”
“I saw it and thought of you.”


Willow carefully opened the parcel to reveal a riot of bright colours.
She lifted up a soft woollen bonnet, fluffy scarf, and soft woollen sweater, all in bright rainbow stripes.
“Heeheehee!” she said, snuggling into them.


“I saw the bonnet in town,” Tara said. “So I asked around, and found out who made it. Then I asked her to knit the scarf and sweater.”


“Wow,” Faith said. “You’re gonna look like ‘Where’s Wally,’ only gayer.”


Willow giggled as she fondled her soft rainbows.

“Thank you baby,” she said, as she treated Tara to a soft kiss.


“The only problem I have now, is that I have two favourite scarves, both from my fiancé.”


“One for everyday, and one for special occasions?” Tara suggested.


Willow held up the ribbon of soft light. “This is definitely a special occasion scarf. Even if I want to wear it all the time.”


Buffy chuckled. “We can’t blame all of your old wardrobe on your mom, can we?”


Willow grimaced. “Well, the white tights were definitely her idea. But if it was fluffy and colourful, it was definitely mine!”


Willow looked up into Buffy’s bright smirk.

“Hey, I can colour coordinate!” she protested. “I just like bright colours,” she mumbled.


“Well, look on the bright side,” Faith said. “You have a whole set that matches. Even if it will never match anything else.”


“Next time it’s cold, I am totally wearing these,” Willow said brightly.


“And we will have no trouble finding you,” Xander said.
He looked out the window to the grey sky.
“Y’know, it’s kinda cold today. And it’s supposed to rain later.”


“Perfect!” Willow said.

She pushed over the last two presents, one small parcel to Buffy, the other to Xander.

“Remember earlier I told you about putting the mojo on everyone’s armour?”


Xander and Buffy nodded.

“Well, we haven’t figured out how the spells work yet. But we needed practice enchanting magical things, so we tried out a few simple spells first.”


“So, you get magical presents,” Tara added.


“Cool!” Buffy said passing the parcel to Faith to open.


“A tiny gay magic Frisbee?” Faith said, holding up the rainbow coloured ring. One side of the ring had a dozen small runes cut into it. “And some cute booties?”


Buffy predictably went all gooey. “Aww! They’re sooo cute!”


“It’s a teething ring,” Tara said. “Willow picked it, and we both enchanted it. If you chew on it, any pain you are feeling goes away.”


“Slightly less sleepless nights,” Willow added. “Um, the booties aren’t magical, we just thought they were super cute.”


“Do I get one?” Xander said, eyeing his similar sized parcel.


“No. You get two,” Willow said brightly.


“But they’re not actually teething rings,” Tara added with a gentle tease.


Xander opened his parcel, and took out two eye-patches. One was black, the other a very dark red.

He turned them around, and looked at them closely. There were runes, picked out in gold wire on the inside.


“Awesome. I like the red one.”


“There was a blue one, but we slightly set it on fire,” Willow said guiltily.


Xander looked at her with his good eye. “On fire? Is this going to set me on fire? Because that sounds like a bad thing.”


Tara chuckled. “It’s alright Xander. We were trying to find a way to get actual gold runes onto silk.”


“Yeah. Molten gold plus silk? Not a good combo,” Willow said.


“This looks like wire,” Xander said looking closely at one of his patches.


“Yep. Turns out you can just buy the stuff, if you go down to a jewellery shop and ask nicely.”

She turned to Buffy. “And yes, we went to the nice jewellery shop.”


“They are doing very well these days,” Tara said mildly.


“The other shop has a big sale on,” Xander said. “I’m hoping it’s a closing down sale.”


“Give it time,” Faith growled. “I still owe that bitch a few harsh words.”


Buffy waggled a finger at her. “No killage.”


Faith sulked. “Not gonna kill her, B. Just gonna yell at her a lot. And maybe break some things.”


“Cry,” Anya said.


“What?”


“Cry,” Anya said simply. “A pregnant woman crying in her store, about not being able to get an engagement ring for her fiancé? That should be the end of her business.”


“Jesus. You’re a vicious woman, Demon-girl,” Faith said.


“Thanks,” Anya said brightly. “Though ‘Angel-girl’ is probably more appropriate.”


“Because that won’t cause confusion around here,” Dawn said, rolling her eyes.


“It’s that or Anchor-butt. You choose,” Faith said.


“You are just jealous of my butt,” Anya said brightly. “You have a nice rear, but mine is better.”


“As if,” Faith snorted.


“Xander? Who has the nicest butt?” Anya asked.


“Oh, no you don’t,” he said. “Fight if you want to, but don’t drag me into it.”


“But-”


“Nope. Putting my foot down and everything. You’re my girl, so yours is the only butt I care about.”


Willow blinked. “Uh, you’re getting better at this stuff, Xander.”


“Eh, practise. Eventually, even I figure it out.”


“I am very impressed, Xander,” Anya said, the admiring light in her eyes, matching her words. “And later, you can have all the butt you want.”

Silence reigned.
Xander blushed.


Buffy sighed.
They’d nearly made it through a whole social occasion, without Anya managing to scar everyone’s mind with some sex-related thing.
Though, now she was slightly curious about Scandinavian countries, and that was a little unsettling.
“Some things never change,” she muttered.


Xander fiddled with his eye patches.
“So, um. Very cool,” he essayed. “What do they do?”


“Um, the black one lets you see in the dark. The red one lets you see heat, kinda like the alien from Predator,” Willow said.


“We’ll make you another blue one,” Tara said. “We should be able to get it sorted out in a few hours, but we need a new eye patch.”


“Just stick with the black one most of the time,” Willow said. “It has no downside at all. When it gets too dark for everyone else, it won’t for you.”


“Like a Slayer?”


“Yep.”


“Cool.”


“The other one looks like Predator vision. Which is handy for finding people or tracking, but it makes it hard to do ordinary things,” Willow said. “I tested them both.”


“This is awesome you guys! Uh, what does the blue one do?”


“It’s a translating one. It lets you read any language,” Tara said.


“Tara knows all sorts of ‘see cool stuff’ spells,” Willow said proudly.

Tara smiled shyly back at her.


“Just don’t get clever and try to wear more than one at a time. You’ll get a headache.”


“Hey, hold up!” Buffy said.


“What’s up Buff?” Xander asked.


“Where’s my present?”


“Uh, were we supposed to get you one?” he asked, confused.


“No, doofus. My present for Willow and Tara!”


Everyone looked around at the snowdrift of wrapping paper surrounding them.

“Um, anyone got a present detecting spell?” Xander asked.


“Um, no,” Willow said. “No shoe-sale detecting spells either, before anyone asks.”


“Pooh,” Buffy said. “Well, everyone look around for an envelope. I wrapped it.”


“This would be a lot easier if we hadn’t all used the same wrapping paper,” Willow grumbled.


“I bought a huge roll,” Buffy complained. “No sense in wasting it.”


“Well, everyone look around for a brightly coloured envelope,” Willow said.


A great deal of rustling followed.


“I think I’ve found it,” Tara said, holding up an envelope.


“How do you do that?” Buffy asked.


Tara smiled. “Everybody’s good at something. This is my something.”


Willow smiled. “You found me.”


Tara smiled back. “Yes I did.”


“Across dimensions, even.”


“And before you jump each other on the couch, could you perhaps open my present?” Buffy said sweetly.


“If we must,” Willow said teasingly.


Tara handed the envelope over, and Willow opened it.

“Ooo, a naughty weekend at the four star hotel and spa in Goldenwoods!”


“Yep!” Buffy said. “Though the amount of naughtiness is entirely up to you.”


“Plus, by the time you get back, this place should be done, and everyone can move in,” Xander said, waving over his shoulder in the vague direction of the Scooby palace.


“Neat!” Willow said. “Not that we need a vacation from you guys, but vacations are generally nice to have.”


“Well, you’re booked in for tonight, and the rest of the weekend,” Buffy said. “Not that I’m trying to rush anyone, but we are running out of time to do anything, y’know, normal.”


Willow frowned. “Are you sure Buff? Because we can always go later.”


“Nope. You enjoy your weekend. We’ll be ok here in the fortress of multitudes,” Buffy said. “We’re pretty safe in our new home, surrounded by twenty feet of rock, spells and three thousand heavily armed women.”


“And we have patrols in town. So if something does go crazy, backup will be right there,” Faith said.


“Yeah, we are going to have to do something about all those armed women,” Xander said.


“Poor Xander. Are they giving you a hard time?” Willow teased.


“Nope. But having poked through my soldier memories a few times, I can tell you that we need way more space for that many fighting types. And something for them to do.”


“Don’t sweat it X,” Faith said. “I get the feeling G-man and the band, are getting ready to kick this thing off next week. So they only have to stay sane until then.”


“You realize there’s still two presents left, right?” Dawn asked.


Buffy and Willow’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah!” Buffy said. “I can smell them, and it’s driving me bonkers.”



The dense, heavy blocks had been stacked at the bottom of the pile, and half buried in a snow drift of shredded paper
Both of the head-sized blocks were wrapped in the familiar wrapping paper, and were now sitting on the table, next to a tiny hatchet.


“Go nuts,” Xander said.


Willow and Faith both tore the paper off, and the cellophane wrapping underneath, to reveal two huge brown cubes.
One of toffee, and one of chocolate.
Faith held up the small hatchet. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger axe.”
Buffy bounced to her feet, and ran to their room.


She returned moments later with the axe they called the Scythe.
Willow goggled. “The Scythe. The symbol of the Slayer line. Forged by sorceresses in the distant past, and you’re using it to cut chocolate?”


Buffy grinned. “And toffee.”


She quickly shaved off some large strips of chocolate and toffee, showing that yes, the Scythe really would cut anything.


Xander learned to his peril, that eating large amounts of toffee in one sitting was unwise. He ended up welding his jaw shut with toffee, and was unable to speak for fifteen minutes, while it dissolved.
But that didn’t put a damper on the day. Far from it.


After the relentless teasing and giggling had died down, and Xander had gesticulated wildly to get his point across, the Scoobies decided it was time to get clean, and head into town, for the other half of their special day.



+++



“Good birthday?” Tara asked.


Willow hummed a happy tune. “The best!” she said, and snuggled into Tara’s side. “And hey, Xander got a raio controlled buggy, that he got to race with Dawn, which was pretty cool.”


It had been a happy day of friends and presents and chocolate, and now they were enjoying their last present: a naughty weekend in Goldenwoods’ finest hotel.
The pair were sprawled across a giant bed, gloriously naked and sated.


“Did you enjoy your presents?” Tara asked with a sleepy purr.


“You know, I did,” Willow said sleepily. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’ve already gotten the best ever present possible. Ever. The end,” she said, nuzzling a little bit for emphasis.


“Sex is your best ever present?” Tara said teasingly.


“Nope, silly. The sex is great. Wonderful. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious even,” Willow said with lethargic happiness.
“But no. my super awesome amazing… zowie! present that just keeps on giving, is you,” she said, with a squeeze for emphasis.


“Zowie?” Tara said with quiet amusement.


“Needed a new word. The others just… not enough,” Willow said sleepily. “Never need… another present… Happy now.”


And with that, Tara felt the last grip Willow had on consciousness let go, and she drifted away into comforting sleep.


Moments later, similarly tired and sated, Tara joined her.



+++



“Mmmm... Xander,” Tara said thoughtfully.


“Okay, not quite the response I was, fishing for,” Willow said, looking confused. “Especially after that evening of naughty fun.


“No, he's here,” Tara said.


“Think they're making up?” Willow asked. A pang of deep anguish shot through her, along with a jolt of confusion. Something wasn’t right.


“I hope so,” Tara said, seemingly oblivious to Willow’s state. “That's the best part.”


Willow looked around, a sense of dread building with terrifying speed, as if she was drowning in fear and did not know why.
And Tara didn’t seem to notice, and that felt wrong somehow.

She looked across at her love, smiling gently, her dark blonde hair somewhat mussed.
Her hair? What was wrong with her hair?

Willow looked down at herself, her pale and slender legs.
Something seemed wrong there too.

She’d always been slim, so why did she suddenly seem surprized by that? Why was she expecting more muscles?

She tried to say something, but her throat was paralysed with fear. Unable to utter a word, she just whimpered.
And worse, Tara didn’t even seem to notice.


They went through their morning routine, with Willow scared out of her mind, and no idea why, until at last, they heard shouts from outside, and a loud crack.

Willow jerked as she was splattered with red, and her world came crashing down.
Horror was not a sufficient word for what Willow felt at that moment.

“Your shirt…” Tara said as she fell.


“No... no... no...” Willow said, collapsing as all her worst fears came to life in front of her.


“Tara? Come, on baby. Get up. Please. Tara...” she said, as tears spilled down her cheeks.


’Don’t urge me to leave you, or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your Goddess, my Goddess. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Goddess deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ the words echoed in her mind, coming from depths hidden within her soul.


She did not recognize the voice, but it spoke truth.
And if the world didn’t have Tara in it, then she didn’t want to live.

The sunlight shining in from outside started to darken.

It was easy, just unravel the knot that tied her soul to her body, and let go…


‘Sweetie?’ came a voice in her soul.


’Hold on baby, I’m coming!’


’Willow, no! You hold on, I’m coming!’

The house shook, and the light through the window, which had been slowly darkening, began to brighten until it blazed brighter than the noon-day sun.


Pure white, it burned through the window with such intensity that it was akin to a solid thing.
And yet it did not blind Willow, nor make her look away.
Instead it brought comfort. Comfort and healing.


The wall slowly faded away, to reveal Tara resplendent.
She floated there in a gown of white, her wings rippling out behind her, haloed in light.


She drifted in, to stand in front of her love.
She smiled. ’where you go, I go.’


Willow blinked in surprise. “Tara?”


“I’m here Willow.”


“Holy… you!” she frowned. “This is a dream?”


Tara looked down, her face falling. “Oh Willow.”


Willow looked down too. “Oh,” she said as she laid eyes on her fallen love, bleeding and dead on the ground. “I’m gonna go with nightmare.”


“Oh Willow. This was the worst day. But it’s over now, and we are still together,” she said, as she swept Willow into her arms.


Willow snuggled in close and held her tight, tears of joy and horror streaming down her face, weeping.


“Someone is going to pay for this,” Tara said, her voice uncharacteristically hard.


“What?” Willow sniffled.


“This was not a random dream, sweetie. This was sent.”


Giving Willow a final squeeze, she let her go, and standing over her own fallen corpse she commanded of the world “Show yourself!”

Nothing happened.

The light from outside the room darkened, and the body on the ground shook. And stirred.
And Tara stood, blood running down her chest, and her eyes as black as night.
Willow whimpered.


And Tara took up a fighting stance between the dead version of herself, and Willow.
“Now I am really angry,” she said.


Her eyes burned with light.
Not the mellow reassuring glow she usually had, this was the burning heat of the desert sun.

Her eyes narrowed to burning slits. “In the name of the Goddess, show yourself!”
Her magic flowed out from her in a shockwave, driving the dark eyed Tara back against the wall.


The blast revealed a figure, a simple shape, barely humanoid, outlined in light.

“Not possible!” it hissed, it’s voice far from human.


“We hear that a lot,” Tara said evenly, a faint tremor of anger in her voice.

“But that doesn’t matter now. What matters, is that you tried to hurt Willow!” Tara said, her halo of light flaring with her anger.


No. This was not anger. This was fury. Righteous fury, driven by love. And fear.

“You dare?! You try to take her from me?!” she shouted, flame blazing from her eyes.
“You tried to convince her to kill herself?!”


“Orders,” the barely visible figure croaked.


Tara’s fury flared.
In the waking world her anger was channelled into constructive actions, put aside or simply put away.
But here, in the dream world, she had no such restraint.

Her power flared flaring like the sunrise on a distant world.

But this was not a sunrise that brought the safety of daylight, and surcease from the terrors of night.


This was the sunrise of a supernova, stripping away all pretence, all hiding places, and finally burning everything away, until nothing remained, not even the earth.

SHE. IS. MINE!” she roared.


And the Dreamweaver stared at the untrammelled power of the light, and quailed in fear.
For a very short time.



+++



Willow woke first, which was only very slightly unusual. Tara usually woke before she did.
Something felt… wrong. Worrying.


She prised open one eye, and took in Tara sleeping peacefully next to her, only faint snores to be heard.
Nope. No problem there.
Her brow furrowed.
Something smelled burnt.


Her wandering eye fixed on the ten foot protective circle burned into the ceiling.

Yep. That was the source of the scorched smell.

Nothing seemed to be an immediate problem, so she simply snuggled closer to Tara, and tried to drift back to sleep.



+++



“It looks very pretty,” Anya said. “But is it strong?”


The construction foreman gave her a disbelieving look, and nodded. “Very. That’s inch-thick bulletproof glass, and very heavy steel framing.”


“I am not anticipating bullets,” Anya said, looking slightly annoyed. “I am anticipating many break-ins.”


“This will stop anything other than a ram-raid by someone in a pickup truck,” he said, trying to not lose his cool.


“Care to put that to the test?” Anya said.


He frowned. “How?”


Anya waved at Heather to get her attention. “Hey! Want to break something?”


Heather blinked. “You sure you don’t want Jules? I can get her if you like?”


“No. You’ll do.”


She turned to the foreman. “I’ll make you a deal. Give her a small crowbar and a hammer. If she can break in, in less than a minute, you fix it so she can’t. At cost. If she doesn’t, you fix whatever damage she causes at overtime rates, and I pay for the materials of course.”


He eyed Heather suspiciously. She was clearly fit, but as slender as a reed. “I’m not in the habit of betting at work.”


“I will also ensure that you get paid an additional ten percent for all further work, if she doesn’t get in. And there’s going to be a great deal of that.”


“Done,” he said, holding out his hand. Disconcertingly, she spat in her palm, and clenched his hand in a terrifyingly strong grip.


She turned to Heather. “Get this right, and I’ll make sure you get the pick of the roster for at least the next week.”


Heather lit up. “Date night here we come!”


“Go look over the outside, and think about it while he gets you a hammer and a crowbar.”


“Can I have my hand back please?”


She let go of his white and bloodless hand.

“Damn,” he said, examining his hand. “I just have the feeling I’ve done something dumb.”


“I am hoping so,” Anya said brightly.


Heather looked closely at the door. “I think I can do this,” she said.

The foreman handed her a claw hammer, and a small prybar.
She went outside and Anya locked the door behind her.


The foreman made a show of setting his watch.
“Go!” he said loudly.

Heather turned and sprinted away.

He blinked in surprise. “That was unexpected.”


When she was a good fifty meters away, she turned and sprinted back, at a speed that would have left an Olympic sprinter looking like he was standing still.


Just before she hit, she jumped and slammed into the big window with horrific force, feet first.

The impact was felt through the floor, and a resounding boom echoed through the whole place.
The glass bowed like a trampoline, and small bits of concrete dust fell down, but it held.

Heather landed lightly on her feet, looking really surprized, the window wobbling and vibrating

“Holy shit!” the foreman shouted.


Anya sniffed. “If she wasn’t such a lightweight, she’d have made it through.”
She gestured urgently through the window. “Keep trying! You still have fifty seconds!”


Heather looked annoyed, more so when Anya added ‘shooing’ gestures.

She jammed the small pry-bar into the gap between the door and the frame in the bottom corner, opposite the hinges.
She hauled mightily, but the thick steel frame did not want to give, and the lock bolts that held it in place were far too sturdy.
She held up the pry-bar, bent.

Breathing hard, and looking highly annoyed, she just let go and started hammering on the middle of the glass door with brutal force, hitting the same spot over and over for a good half minute until the super tough glass starred and cracked.

With a shout and an almighty kick, she kicked the whole panel of broken glass out of the frame and stepped through, breathing hard.


The foreman stared in shock, and Anya raised her fists triumphantly. “Yes! In your face!”


He looked with disbelief at the broken, but still largely intact panel that had folded and popped out with the force of a kick.
“Holy- what- how?!”


“This is the sort of thing we’re dealing with,” Anya said with an even tone. “Only worse.”


“Jesus!”


“No, not Jewish hippies,” Anya said. “Far nastier than that.”

She patted him on the shoulder. “Now, I want to talk to you about the improvements you’re going to make…”



+++



Willow found Giles in their completed command centre, enjoying the quiet, some distance below ground.
Quiet voices murmured in the subdued background, as Watchers and Guardians coordinated the care and maintenance, of entirely too many women warriors.


“Giles!” Willow said with a touch of urgency.


He looked up from his notes and frowned. “Aren’t you two supposed to be enjoying a, ah, er, weekend?


“We did the naughty part already, but we think we were attacked!”


He raised an eyebrow. “And this was not part of the… festivities?”


“Giles!” Willow protested, looking slightly shocked.


Giles had the decency to look slightly embarrassed. “Perhaps we should talk in private,” he said, and lead her to a meeting room to one side of the ‘hub’.


Willow sat down on one of the chairs, clearly agitated. Giles pulled up a chair nearby.

“When we woke up, there was a big protective circle around the bed, burned into the floor and ceiling. We’ll be getting a bill for that! And when I spoke to Tara, we both remembered some really weird bits from our dreams. Not much, but enough to let us know that something happened.”


Giles brow furrowed. “While you were sleeping?”

Willow nodded.

“Bad dreams?”


Willow nodded solemnly. “We both woke up in tears, and we weren’t really sure why.”


“Hmm. This is sounding familiar,” he said at last.


Willow blinked in surprise. “It is?”


He nodded. “I was attacked a little while ago in my sleep. I believe it was of a similar nature.”


Willow pondered that for a moment. “Tara says she usually puts up a ward when she sleeps. But she’s gotten out of the habit since she got back, because y’know, the entire campus is warded. And how.


“Where is Tara?” Giles asked.


“Collecting ingredients for a spell. She wants to do some investigating.”


“I can’t say I blame her.”
Giles took off his glasses and polished them thoughtfully.
“If the attack you dealt with was anything like mine, it was meant to be a delivery of a terrible nightmare. Most likely as a method of damaging our morale and sanity.


Willow looked worried.
“Um, Giles? We’re not at all sure what happened, but Tara thinks it was a bit more serious than that.”


“Oh? How so?”


Willow fidgeted nervously with the edge of her sweater. “We… we got the feeling when we sat down and talked about it, that whatever the heck happened was pretty close. Like, ‘only just survived’ close.”


Giles looked concerned, and moved over to sit next to Willow. “Can you tell me about it?”


Willow slumped. “When I woke up, I remembered thinking about the day Tara… when Tara was…” she trailed off, unable to articulate a day so terrible, that even now it tore at her soul.


Giles put a comforting hand on Willow’s shoulder. “I understand. Don’t trouble yourself dear girl.”


She put her hand on top of Giles’ and squeezed. “Giles… you don’t get it. I think… I think I would have-”


He squeezed back. “Dear girl, I do understand. We are walking wounded, all of us. And these visions are targeted at the most vulnerable parts of our psyche.”


His face was open and unusually vulnerable.
“And if anything happened to you, all of you, do you think I would be in any better place than you were after Tara?”
He smiled sadly. And then his face hardened. “But this really is too far. And I think the time has come to do something about it.”


“Giles?” Willow said a worried frown.


“It’s time to pull the trigger, as Reggie would say.”


“Um?”


“We have given our enemies far to much time to work their will. And given how often they have failed so far, it is only a matter of time before they try something either desperate, or effective.”


“Are you saying…?” Willow trailed off.


“Time to take back the initiative. We’re going to war.”



+++

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:30 am 
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Dibs-y Goodness! :applause :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Awesome prezzie time... I'm guessing it's PTB ass kicking time...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:58 pm 
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zampsa19752001 wrote:
Dibs-y Goodness! :applause :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Awesome prezzie time... I'm guessing it's PTB ass kicking time...


Not quite. :P
Soon though :)

New update to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:58 pm 
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WAR!


The Scoobies, the Guardians’ ‘top brass’ and a dozen of their most senior chapter leaders were gathered in the ‘war room,’ just off the ‘Hub’ or command centre, depending who you were asking.

Giles’ expression was at its most stern.
“As much as going in blind is a recipe for disaster, at this stage I believe that waiting any longer is foolhardy.”


“Can we get more intel?” Bomber asked. “More importantly, can we warn our people up there?”
He looked over at Brie.


She shrugged helplessly. “I can contact Brighid, if she’s willing. But I think she’s provided all the help she can without tipping her hand. I have no idea how to contact a specific person up there.”


“I can,” Tara said softly.

All eyes turned to her.

“If I have something of value to the departed, I know a spell to contact them. And we have Buffy and Dawn.”


“You can do that?” Dawn said.


Tara nodded. “It’s not good to disturb the departed, but for this, I think it will be worth it.”


“So, like the bat-phone, only… not?” Xander said.


Tara nodded. “It’s generally frowned on to go bothering the dead. You never know what their situation is. But with Joyce, I think it’s safe to say she’s, um, up and about.”

She couldn’t help but glance at Giles, who flushed ever so slightly.


Bomber grinned, but stepped in to rescue his old friend from embarrassment. “So, step one is to get whatever intel we can, to plan our attack,” Bomber said. “And warn them that we are coming.”


“While that’s happening, we need to prepare our people for battle,” Giles said, nodding thoughtfully.


“I need to talk to the girls,” Buffy said. “They’re Slayers, whether they like it or not. But we can’t simply draft them into fighting for us.”
“However much I want to,” she muttered.


“Quite right,” Giles said. “I have been meaning to make a rumour control announcement for a while now. Perhaps if we gathered everyone together and told them what’s going on, at the same time, we could ask for volunteers?”


“The Valkyries are in,” Jules said seriously. “You don’t even have to ask.”


“You’re suspended,” Buffy reminded her. “But I think we can get past it for this.”
She glanced at Giles.
He nodded.
“Grab your girls, grab your hammer. You’re in,” Buffy said. “You can be suspended, if and when we get back alive.”


“Urgh. Fair enough.”


“You can count on the Stars,” Chrissy said, putting on her most serious face. “All the girls will want to come.”


Buffy gave her a nod, one professional to another.


“Which leads us to the inevitable, unpleasant question,” Giles said. “Who is staying behind?”

Silence fell.

“While I always hope for the best, we cannot overlook the possibility that we might fail. In which case, someone would need to carry on in our stead.”


The silence continued.

“No,” Xander said, determined. “Not me. If you guys all go… I’m coming with you, one way or another.”


“We have to go Giles,” Buffy protested, pointing to herself and Faith. “The only place we are going to be safe is right behind you guys.”


“Yeah. If we stay behind, we’re leaving ourselves open to attack,” Faith added.


“I need to be there, not here,” Dawn said.


“I’ll do it!” Ethan said cheerfully.


Buffy just stared at him in disbelief. “You expect us to leave you in charge? No. Like, all the ‘no’ in the world.”

Ethan just grinned, clearly not serious.


Bomber sighed. “God, I hate being the responsible one. I’ll stay and hold the fort.”


Brie and Fiona shared a look. “We’ll stay too,” Brie said.


“We do ok in a fight, but we’re teachers and librarians primarily,” Fiona said.


Giles shot them a grateful look. “Willow, Xander, Dawn. If you could make sure that they have everything they need to take over if the worst happens, I would be most grateful.”


Willow bobbed her head. “Passwords, keys, and the ward keys. It’s doable.”
“Someone should also contact Andrew and the Sunnydale veterans with him. To let him know what’s happening.”


“Afterwards,” Giles said. “We can’t risk any of this getting out. Even if it does hurt some feelings.”


“Okie dokie,” Willow said, trying to inject a little cheer into the grim situation.


“Can I just say, this sucks?” Faith said. “I mean normally, I’d be rarin’ to go for a fight like this. But here I am, lookin’ like a blimp. An’ I get to miss out on all the fighting!”


“But a very cute blimp!” Willow said with a grin.


“Har de har,” Faith said flatly.


“I just want this over with,” Buffy said. “I hate that we can’t go anywhere without more guards than the president. I hate that my friends and family are getting attacked as soon as they leave the bunker.”
She looked around at the polished stone walls and wiggled her toes in the think carpet. “Even if it’s a very nice bunker.”


“Buffy’s right,” Tara said quietly. “I’m still getting up to speed with all the psychology stuff. But what I’ve read so far tells me we can’t stay like this. Neither can the guardians.”


Brigandu spoke up. “Everyone in our order knows how serious this is. That having been said, I think we have no more than a week before we start to have discipline problems. If there is to be a great battle, it would be best if it were done soon.”

She nodded politely to Willow and Tara. “Our accommodations are significantly better that they were, but people do not cope well with being packed in this densely, whether it be tents or bunk beds.”


“We move today,” Giles said quietly.


Brigandu raised an eyebrow at that. “That’s a pretty short timeframe to move that many people,” she said.


Giles shook his head. “This is unlike any military deployment in history,” he said. “We will not be taking any baggage or supplies. Or even ammunition for that matter. This fight will be over in a matter of hours, one way or another.”


“So, what is our objective?” Bomber asked.


“The throneroom of heaven. Today we kill the powers that be,” Giles said calmly.


Brie shot him a sharp look.



+++



“We need to talk,” Brie said seriously.


Buffy looked up. “Sounds serious.”


“It is.”


“It had better be, I’m just about to go speechify i-don’t-know-how-many Slayers. So if you want to talk now, it better be really really important.”


“I think we are being played. I think we might be walking into a trap.”


Buffy said nothing for the space of a couple of heartbeats. “By someone here,” Buffy said quietly. “Otherwise you’d have said something at the meeting,”

Brie nodded.

Buffy sighed tiredly. “Fine. C’mere,” she said, and dragged her into a nearby room, slamming the door.


“Right. Spill. Make it fast, and make it good.”


“You remember how Rupert said we where going to kill the Powers that Be?”


Buffy looked annoyed. “Yeah. I was there. Ten whole minutes ago. Make with the ‘splainy.”


“Rupert is a Hellgod.”

Buffy just stared.

“When he killed Glory, he took on her mantle, her power. And I’m worried it’s controlling him. He is just a mortal man after all is said and done. And what would a Hellgod want more that to bring down the powers that be?”


Buffy just stared for a while, wheels turning furiously in her brain.

“If I ask him about this, what is he likely to say?”


Brie shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know.”


“Well there’s no point using up my ‘A’ material if we’re cancelling the apocalypse. Go stall them for a few minutes while I talk to Giles.”


“But-”


“Just. Stall,” Buffy said in a hard voice. “I’m not calling anything off, until I’ve spoken to Giles.”
She paused for a moment. “The other Giles,” she said in a more thoughtful tone.



+++



“Giles!” Buffy said as she stormed into his office.

She slammed the door behind herself and glared at him.


“I assume there’s something wrong?” he said mildly.


“Are you a god?” she asked, arms folded.


He paused for a moment. “You know, I never thought I would be asked that question.”


“Are you?”


He sighed and took off his glasses, meeting her angry gaze as calmly as he could manage. “Yes.”


“And you didn’t think to share this with the class?”


“Well… no.”


“Because?”


“This conversation, mainly.”


“Giles, I need to know that we’re not walking into a trap. I need to know that you are not Glory 2.0.”


“Ah.”


“You realize we’re about to invade heaven, again. And try and kill the Powers That Be, lead by a Hellgod? You see how that could give a girl the wiggins?”


“Quite.”


“Giles, stop being British, and reassure me here.”


He sighed tiredly. “What can I do? What could possibly convince you that I am not being manipulated?”


Buffy slumped. “I got nothing. Really. But I really really don’t want to walk into a trap here Giles. The stakes are too high.”


“I quite understand. If it would reassure you, I would consent to remain here, and not invade heaven with you.”


“Now I’m feeling paranoid about that too.”


“I do understand the desire to second-guess oneself.”


Buffy approached him silently and looked up at him with watery eyes.
“Are you still my watcher?” She took his larger hands with both of hers. “Are you still on my side?”


His own eyes were suspiciously glittery. “To my last breath.”


She hugged him close and just let herself feel Giles.
Strength. And the sheer Will to do whatever was necessary. And a compassion that was unique to him.

He was still Giles.
She looked up at him and sniffled. “You’re still Giles.”


He smiled a little sadly. “I hope so.”


She smiled a little. “I wasn’t asking, I was telling you.”
She squeezed him and let go. “You still feel Giles-y.”


“I find it reassuring to be told that.” He looked a little awkward, “You are not the only one who has been second-guessing themselves lately.”

He checked his tie.
“Perhaps we should go down and rally the troops?”


“Yeah. They have been standing around waiting. Maybe we could get them doing a dance number?”


“Like Michael Jackson?” Giles teased.


Buffy smirked. “Giles! A reference from this millennium even! What will the royal association of stuffy British people say?”

Giles rolled his eyes.

“You hep cat you. All down with the young people and stuff,” Buffy said with a smirk.


“Please stop before you hurt something.”


“My ‘A’ material is wasted on you.”


“I dread your ‘B’ material,” he said dryly.


“Ugh. Come on watcher mine. Time to go speechify the troops.”


“Lay on Macduff.”


“I thought it was Macbeth?”


“No.”



+++



If Buffy was hoping for some martial display, she was disappointed.

Unlike a military order, the Slayers were not drawn up in neat ranks.

They were sitting on the grass, dozing in the sun, or wandering about chatting to friends.
Some were in training outfits, some in black armour, some in casual clothes.
Behind them, seated in rows on the fresh grass, were ranks of Guardians, dressed in green.


And yet, when Buffy approached, silence fell.
Buffy wondered what her face looked like, if it had that effect on nearly two thousand girls.


Giles gave her a reassuring pat and stood to one side.

Xander and Willow gave her a thumbs up and a smile.

Tara simply gave her a look that conveyed complete confidence. Buffy found it oddly reassuring.


The front rank of Slayers stood out of politeness, and the rest had to stand in order to see what was going on.

Which lead to an eerie spreading wave of silence, and standing girls.


Buffy stood up on the wall to give herself a better view.
The girls waited silently.

“By now you all will have heard some of the rumours. I’m here with Faith and the rest of the gang to explain what’s really going on, and to ask for volunteers.”


She looked around at the now sharply focussed crowd.
“You didn’t ask to be Slayers, but here you are. For some, it’s a wonderful opportunity and a beginning of a new life. For others it’s a massive pain in the behind.”

There were a few murmurs and chuckles at that.

“But like it or not, you were born Slayers. Willow’s spell did not make you all into Slayers. That power was your birthright, and it always has been yours.”


Faith moved up beside her, and took her hand.

Buffy smiled at her love, and smirked a little at her protruding tummy. Not long now till the most terrifying and amazing day.
She looked back up at the girls.
“You were not called. You were freed! All this time, all these countless girls, dying alone, in the dark. They were never meant to stand alone. They were meant to stand with their sisters!”


That got a murmur of conversation going.
Buffy paused to let the quiet hubbub die down.

“You were freed from a spell that kept you in chains, kept almost all of us in chains, since the beginning of time,” Buffy said.
She wasn’t shouting, but her tone was hard, betraying the anger that burned inside her.

She didn’t need to shout. The Slayers could all hear her clearly.
“We don’t yet know why, but we do know who.


“The Powers that Be. They did this to every Slayer that came before you. Sealing each girl’s power away, save for the one girl they had to have.”

Murmurs of surprised voices rippled across the field.

“Yeah, that’s bad enough, but there’s more.”
She gestured to Faith. “By now, most of you will know that Faith is my fiancé, and she’s pregnant. But what most of you won’t know, is that she’s carrying my baby.”

Many murmurs broke out across the field at that.

“And that our baby is part of a prophesy. And in order to stop that prophesy, the powers that be want to kill our daughter!”


A ripple of shock spread across the field.
There had been a lot of rumours flying around over the past few weeks, but it was one thing to speculate, and anther to be flat out told by the people involved.
“And they absolutely will not rest until she is dead. Because if our daughter is born, it means the end for them!”


“I have sacrificed so much for this world, for the Powers that be. I sent my first love to hell. I died. Twice. I have lost friends.”
She looked at Willow, sharing a sad smile for those they had lost.
And she looked at Faith, her resolve hardening.
She turned back to the girls arrayed in front of her, all on their feet now.
“But this price is too high! They are not having our daughter!”


Faith stood up next to Buffy, and took over.
“So we are going up there, and we are gonna kick their asses. It isn’t gonna be easy, and we need help.”

She looked around at the girls. “We trained you, and taught you what it meant to be Slayers. But we don’t own you, and we aren’t drafting you.”

She shared a glance with Buffy. “So we’re asking for volunteers to go up to heaven. Yeah, you heard that right. And help us fight the powers that be, for the life of our daughter.”

“It isn’t going to be easy. Not all of us will make it back. But we need you.”


Buffy gestured to the Guardians arrayed around the Slayers. “The Guardians of the Flame have thrown in with us. But we can’t do this without you.”


“Will you help us save our baby?” Buffy said, her voice breaking slightly.

For a tense moment, there was silence, broken only by the wind in the trees that bordered the field.


Then one of the girls at the front took a step forward. “I’ll help.”
Buffy didn’t recognize her, from the nearly two thousand Slayers in training, but she nodded gratefully.


Tamara stepped up. “You gave me a future, and showed me who I was. I’m in.”


And with that the dam broke and everyone crowed forwards, all talking at once, all variations on the theme of ‘we’ll help’

Buffy hugged Faith tight, her eyes glittering.


A strong arm was thrown about her shoulder. “I guess we have help,” Xander said.


“We can do this Buff, we really can,” Willow added.


“Thanks you guys,” Buffy sniffled.



+++



The Scoobies (and their new friends) were back to planning.


“Where’s Kendra?” Buffy said unexpectedly.


Xander blinked. “Huh?”


“Buff?” Willow said.


“Well like, I was thinking about our people ‘upstairs.’ And we’ve seen Mom, and Cordy, and Jesse. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. But where’s Kendra? How come she didn’t jump in to help? I mean, I didn’t think she hated us or anything.”


“You raise a good point Buffy,” Giles said.
He turned to Anya, who was clearly pleased at being consulted.
“Anya? I would value your input.”


Anya nearly preened at being so obviously consulted. Xander shot Giles a grateful glance.

“She’ll be in the Elysium Fields,” Anya said, happy to be the centre of attention. “Same place Buffy was when she was dead that time.”

She frowned. “It’s supposed to make up for an unhappy life. Though it’s clearly a way to keep angry Slayers out of trouble.”


“It’s just like fucking drugging them,” Faith grumbled.


Buffy oddly had a huge grin on her face that could only be described as ‘shit-eating.’

“Oh, we’ve so got this,” she said happily.


“Buffy?” Giles queried.


“They just keep handing us ways to beat them,” she said, her grin still in place.


Faith clicked. “Holy fuck,” she said. “An army of pissed off Slayers, right on their fucking doorstep.”


“This is too good an opportunity to pass up,” Giles said. “Is there some way we could free them?”


“Buffy,” Anya said simply. “She’s been there before. If anyone can get out of there, it’s her. And you will need someone with a powerful need to stay focussed, and a powerful connection to those there. That’s Buffy.”


Willow and Tara shared a glance, Willow clearly encouraging.
“I have some spells that would help,” Tara said quietly.


“This more of that ‘well rounded’ curriculum?” Faith asked.


Tara sigh. “My talents made me good at some areas of magic that I’m not really comfortable with.”


“Like blowing shit up?”


Tara nodded her agreement. “That, and leadership. Local practitioners of ‘light’ magic tended to lead the charge against evil. So spells that helped with that sort of thing, were part of the spells I learned. However much I didn’t like the idea.”


“I remember that from your story, yeah?” Faith said.


Tara nodded. “I have a few spells that help with mass battles. Spells that give courage, protection and resolve. But in order for them to work for a person, they have to be willing to follow. Um, me.”


There was a moment’s silence.


“Can you do it?” Buffy asked seriously. “Lead, I mean.”


Tara nodded. “If I have to. I’m not a natural leader, and I don’t think I will ever be comfortable in charge of things. But I can if I have to.”


“Shit, cuz, I’ll follow you,” Faith said.


“Me too,” Xander chipped in.


“Dear girl, you have proven yourself time and time again. I dare say we’ll all be willing to follow your lead,” Giles said. “Just remember the first rule of good leadership.”

Tara tilted her head in question.

“Ask those under you for advice.”


She bobbed her head. “I can do that.”


“I’m thinking that while you guys are knocking on their front door, I might sneak off and see about getting some more Slayers to join the fight,” Buffy said.


“Wait, what am I doing?” Faith said.


“You?” Buffy said. “You’re going straight for the throneroom.”


“Really?” Faith said. “Not gonna wrap me in cotton wool?”


“I was thinking about wrapping you in two and a half thousand Slayers,” Buffy said. “If they, the witch squad and the Daughters of the Flame can’t keep you safe, I don’t know what can.”


“Point,” Faith said. “And when we get there?”


“Find the people in charge, and kill them,” Buffy said simply.


“We aren’t going to talk to them?” Tara asked.


“Sure. If they surrender, talk away. But somehow, I doubt that’s going to happen.”


She looked around at her gathered friends and family. “Look you guys, I’m not trying to go all psycho here. But there is nothing to talk about. They want our daughter to die. The first Scooby kid, your god-daughter, or whatever the wicca equivalent is. They need it. That will not happen. I won’t let it happen. So the only thing left to do is slay them. Because that’s what we do. Slay evil, protect the innocent. No hesitation.”


Xander looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded. “No hesitation.”


Tara took a deep breath and shot a look to Willow.
Willow squeezed her hand tight.
“I wish it had never come to this,” Tara said. “But I won’t hesitate. Not to defend my friends and family.”
Willow nodded her agreement.


Faith patted the pistol on her hip. “I’m gonna see if this hurts ‘em. I figure one between the eyes ought to teach them not to mess with Texas.”


Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Texas?”


“Well shucks little lady, y’all ought to know not to mess with Texas. Y’all.”


Buffy stared at her for a number of seconds, before she burst into giggles.
“Oh, that’s the worst Texas accent, like, ever!”


“Yep,” Xander added. “Plus they have handguns in other states, y’know?”


“Yeah, but Texas and guns, it’s a thing, right?” Faith protested.


Buffy patted her on her hand. “Don’t give up your day job, honeybun.”


“X-man back me up here. Texas, guns, it’s a thing, right?”


Xander shrugged. “Sure. Whatever doesn’t get me caught in a fight between you two, the day we invade heaven. Again.”


“And with that in mind, we need a plan,” Giles said mildly. “Luckily we’ve had a few ideas in that regard.”


“Speed,” Ethan said. “And chaos. But mainly speed.”


“Same thing we did last time, basically,” Bomber said.


“Won’t they expect that?” Buffy asked.


“Once they get over the shock, certainly,” Giles put in. “The plan is to move too fast, and in too many directions for anyone to respond to anything in time.”


“But when they do figure it out, they’ll be wrong,” bomber said.


“Chances are, they’ll think the other groups are a feint to cover the assault on the throne,” Ethan said, smirk firmly in place.


“It’s not?” Xander said, his forehead wrinkling.


“Not really,” Ethan replied. “The main attack is a feint to draw their attention, and ignore what else is going on.”


“Wow. There’s a thing you don’t hear every day. Attacking the throne of heaven is a distraction? For what?”


“Me!” Buffy said. “While they are focussed on you guys, I do my thing, get the Slayers, and then join the fight.”


“So the real feint is the attack on the throne, which covers the fake feint which is Buffy and her army. And then it becomes the real attack?” Xander said, getting more confused as his mouth kept talking. “This has to be your plan,” he said accusingly at Ethan.


Ethan smirked. “Far too two dimensional. We are going to have another attack going on. Which really is nothing but a feint.”


“Right,” Willow said sternly. “Everyone is banned form saying the word ‘feint’ again. All we’re really trying to do is keep them of balance and wondering, long enough for us to get ourselves to the throne, where the powers that be, are. Then we hit ‘em with everything we’ve got until they go down. Numbers aren’t going to matter, it’s going to come down to power.”


“So our army?” Faith asked. “What are they for?”


“To get us to the throne,” Buffy said. “And to protect you and Hope.”


“And I will be running around confusing matters in the background,” Ethan said. “It was spectacularly helpful last time, so why not do it again?”


“I guess we know what BB and Oz are gonna be doing,” Faith said.


“Oh yes,” Ethan said brightly, almost rubbing his hands with glee. “They were amazing last time. Not only was I able to tie any number of alarming spells to their dual natures, watching them run around terrorising the denizens of the upper planes was… very satisfying.”


Buffybot and Oz looked at each other. Oz shrugged.
Buffybot copied the gesture.


“Heh. I bet. Anyhoo, we’re gonna need the Valkyries to take point, so we’ll find you another crew that wants to run around breaking shit,” Faith said.


“Speed and enthusiasm are key,” Ethan replied with alarming cheerfulness.


“Relax funboy, we can find you some crazy chicks,” Faith said.


“Indeed,” Giles said. “And there is much else that we must plan.”



+++



“Sweetie, what are we looking at?” Tara said.


“Power. Goddess, so much power. It scares the pants off me!” Willow said as she paced nervously in front of the slowly rotating ‘heart’ of their home.


The pair stood in the monolith chamber, the mystical heart of their new home. The runes and crystals encrusting the walls glowed brightly in a rainbow of colour, and a strange sensation filled the area, like a hum that you could sense, but not hear.


“Remember, I was taught magic by my mother, and in a sort of university,” Tara said. “But it didn’t cover things like this.”


Willow quirked a smile. “This is why I like having Xander hanging around. If I can explain it to him, it really helps me get a grip on whatever it is I’m trying to figure out.”


Tara smiled back. “Well, I can try and be Xander.” She closed one eye and smiled brightly. “Hey Will! What’s the what?”


Willow stared blankly for a heartbeat, before she burst into giggles.
“Oh my god! Don’t do that! It messes with my head!” she protested.


“Will buddy? Are you ok?” Tara said in a surprisingly good imitation of Xander’s voice.


“Gah!” Willow said.


Tara grinned. “Sorry Sweetie. But that was kind of fun,” she said in her more normal voice.


“Also strange. Fine imitation Xander, this mighty spellworking had its origins in a battery-type spell.”


“Uh-huh,” Tara said in her fake-Xander voice.


“Stop it. Anyway, it’s possible to store magical energy in objects. Precious metals and gems hold more than stuff like rock, so things like this tend to be big. You can also improve how much energy they hold, if you inscribe the right runes into it.”


“Uh, Will ol’ buddy? This thing’s huge. And covered in runes,” Tara said with a cheeky smirk.


“Stop it. Yeah, a monolith this size will hold a heck of a lot of power. Loads more with runes like that all over it.”


“And that’s bad how?” Tara said, refusing to stop talking like faux-Xander.


“Stop it you. It’s not bad by itself. What’s bad is that a monolith like this should take years to fill to capacity.”
Willow looked around at the brightly glowing crystals on the walls.
“It’s full.”


Tara looked thoughtful for a moment.

Willow spotted it. “Is this that thing you weren’t sure you should tell me?” She asked.


Tara nodded. ‘Yes,’ she sent silently. ’But I think you need to know, just in case.’


’Well that sounds ominous,’ Willow sent.


’It’s Dawn,’ Tara said silently.


Willow looked puzzled. ’Dawn? What about her?’


’Sweetie, I think she filled our um, battery.


’Jeepers, that’s a lot of power!’ Willow sent, waving her arms agitatedly for emphasis.


’I’m not sure why, but I didn’t pass out when we did our big spell. And I got to talk to the other part of Dawn.’


’I’m guessing you don’t mean Heather?’ Willow said looking worried.


Tara shook her head. ’No. I got to talk to the Key part of Dawn.’


Willow blinked. ‘Wow. Um, what did he/she/it have to say? And how come we don’t hear from them more often?’


‘She said she was limited. Constrained in some way. She couldn’t tell me much, for fear someone would find out.’


‘Oh. Poop,’
Willow grumbled.


‘She did say that we were going to win, though.’


Willow brightened. ‘Well that’s of the good then.’
She looked at Tara’s less-than-happy face.
‘You have but-face.’


‘But… we aren’t all going to live through this.’


‘Wow. That’s- that’s a good reason for but-face.’


‘But-‘


‘More but? What but?’


‘But, that it wasn’t a reason to be sad.’


‘Um, seems kinda sad, people being dead and all. And they’re Scoobies! Family!’


‘But death is not the end,’
Tara sent back. ‘As we have discovered.’


Willow frowned. ‘I know, but still. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure no one dies.’


Tara squeezed her hand. ‘Me too.’


Willow looked away. ‘Baby, you… you have to understand something. Where you go, I go.’


Tara squeezed her hand in support. ‘I know.’


‘I mean if you- if anything happens to you- if you’ Willow choked, unable to say the words, even in her own mind.


Tara nodded her acceptance.


‘Then I do too,’ she finished.


‘I know,’ Tara said reassuringly.


‘You know?’ Willow sent, puzzled.


‘I’ve known for a long time, even if I didn’t want to face it. Willow, sweetie, we are bonded so deeply we feel each other’s pain. If one of us dies, we both do.’


Willow nodded solemnly, her eyes brimming with tears. ‘Baby, I don’t want you to die. But if you go, I’m coming with you.’


Tara smiled a sad smile. ‘Ditto.’


They just stared at each other for a long moment.

‘Wow. That got maudlin, fast,’ Willow sent.


Tara smiled sadly. ‘Death is like that. Especially for us.’


‘There’s something else I want to talk to you about. About Dawnie.’


Willow looked worried.



+++


Buffy stood next to Willow, overlooking the open field that had become their default staging area.
Currently, the grass was invisible beneath serried ranks of heavily armed women.
Thousands upon thousands of them, arrayed in columns three abreast.


“Are you ready?” Buffy asked.


Willow frowned. “It’s a bit late to be asking that Buff. If we’re not, we’re in trouble.”

Buffy raised an eyebrow.

Willow looked a little abashed. “Sorry Buffy. Just feeling a lot of pressure on my teeny tiny shoulders.”


Buffy grinned. “Relax Will. I’m not gonna bite your head off. Just making sure my big gun is all shiny and ready for her big day.”


Willow smirked. “Tara took care of that. Shiny? I’m polished.


“My big gun is good to go,” Faith added, patting the big pistol strapped to her breastplate. “Though I feel like a tank wearing this,” she grumbled, patting her bulging belly plate.


“Just be glad that Willow and Xander figured how to make it fit,” Buffy replied. “Otherwise you’d be wearing a box.”


“Eh,” Xander replied. “We’d just paint it red, and she could be Optimus Prime.”

That got blank looks from everyone.

“Andrew would have got the joke,” Xander muttered. “Oh god. I’m actually missing Andrew. Just kill me now.”


Buffy slapped him on his arm. “Don’t jinx us Xander. Just remember Scooby rule two.”


“Which one’s two? Doughnuts are a real food group?” he said lightly.


“No. Don’t die.”


He grinned. “I won’t. Hey look, if I die, you get to beat me up. And say ‘I told you so’ like, for the next year.”


“Deal.”


Giles smiled a little at the Scoobies pre-apocalypse ritual of making bad jokes about serious things.


“They really are your children, aren’t they?” Brie said quietly at his elbow.


“I couldn’t be prouder, if they were my own flesh and blood,” Giles said in a similarly quiet voice.


“Silly bear,” Brie murmured as they watched the Scoobies making their final preparations.


“You know they’re probably not going to work, right?” Buffy said as Xander, Faith, Dawn and Tamara checked their firearms.


“But they might, B. And if they do, it’s a hell of an advantage,” Faith said. “Besides, magic bullets. That’s gotta count for something, right?”


“Those bullets are old. Do they even still work?”


“Xander reloaded them for me, so they’re good as new,” Faith replied.


“I’m taking mine,” Xander said, patting his stubby assault rifle. “And a ton of ammo. And if it doesn’t work, well hey, still got my sword.”


“Ditto,” Tamara said. She stood out due to her addition of camouflage gear mixed in with her black slayer armour.


Willow and Tara were exchanging significant looks. Eventually Willow firmly, but not unkindly pushed Tara forward and cleared her throat.
“Um,” Tara said. “I kinda have to do one of my spells now,” she said, looking oddly shy.


Xander looked at her. “Uh, is this one of those spells we have to get naked for?” he looked at the massed ranks of women. “Because that could be awkward. On a whole new level.”


Willow swatted him on the shoulder. “No, you… boy, you!”

Xander grinned.

“No. It’s because this is that battle spell that we told you about. In order for it to work, Tara has to ‘lead’ us all into battle.”


“Oh right. Bummer.”


“It’s not that bad,” Tara said. “It just makes me feel very self conscious. Being in front of everyone, being responsible for them.”


“Welcome to leadership,” Buffy said dryly.
Her sardonic smirk softened. “Relax Tara,” Buffy said. “We’ll all follow you.”


Tara nodded. “I know, it’s just difficult.”


“Well, let’s get this show on the road,” Faith said impatiently. “Getting ready to pop here. Really wanna get this sorted before that happens.”


Buffy nodded her agreement, and hopped up onto the wall.

“We are about to go,” she said, dropping into what the Scoobies called her ‘speechifying’ voice.
“Tara is going to lead the way, and will cast a bunch of spells to help us.”

She paced a little, atop the wall. “It’s going to be a hard fight. And some of us are going to get hurt. Hell, we’re invading heaven, it doesn’t get more dramatic than that.”

“You’ve always been strong. It’s part of who you are.”

“Well, now is when you make a choice. Now is when you take a stand. Now is when you say to The Powers That Be, to everyone, some costs are too high! Some actions have consequences! And we are not pawns anymore!”

A cheer rose and swelled among the massed army.


Willow found herself wondering what it was like for the Guardians at the back.
Their now massively swollen ranks approached fifteen thousand fighters, and most of them not only couldn’t even see what was happening, but were over the brow of the hill, and had no idea what was going on.


Tara squeezed her hand. “Ready?”


Willow shook her head, owl-eyed. “Nope. Not even close. But we have to, right?”


“C’mon Will,” Xander said. “Let out your naughty side.”


“I am very seldom naughty,” Willow replied as primly as possible, given the situation.


Faith smirked. “Oh yeah, what do you call getting it on in the back of your shiny new Tara-mobile?”


“Poppycock! That is cock of the poppiest kind... that sentence did not end well,” Willow said embarrassed.

That just got a huge grin.


Giles nodded, essentially ignoring the comment, one hand against his ear listening to his earbud. “We are ready.”
He looked over to Willow and Tara. “Time to go.”

Willow’s embarrassment faded as she put on her resolve face.
She put away all her worries and random thoughts, and called upon the strength she had learned in her dark days.

Days when she had to lead the Scoobies into battle, in Buffy’s absence.
Days all the darker due to Tara’s absence.


Hand in hand the two witches, one in silver, one in black, walked down the steps to the prepared area.
Once again they were using the rear courtyard as their exit point, not having the time to prepare a new one.

The grass beyond the paved area was flattened and worn from thousands of feet practicing over the last few days
Beyond the open area, the Slayer army waited, thousands strong, arrayed in columns, five abreast, each woman holding the hand of the woman in front, and behind.


Around their default ‘transporter pad,’ had been arrayed the huge rough chunks of crystal that Faith had carried out to the grove, all those months ago.
Complex lines and runes connected each glittering chunk, drawn incongruously in yellow crayon. Just as good as chalk, but less likely to blow away, or rub off.
Yellow to stand out against the dark bricks and concrete. And for sentimental reasons.


As if realizing that her thoughts had focussed on him, Xander gave her grin and a thumbs up.
She nodded, not unkindly, already focussing on the spell they had practiced over the last few days.


Tara would go through first, anchoring the bridge, as she had before.
Then the Scoobies would go through, and start their work, followed by thousands upon thousands of warriors and Slayers.
Never in the history of the world had there ever been a battle like it.



She took a moment to look up at the cloudless sky.
“Good morning gentlemen. This is your wakeup call.”



+++

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:31 pm 
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Dibs-y Goodness! :applause :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Can't wait for the PTB ass kicking time... I'm pretty sure that they would be running scared when Buffy arrives with her army of pissed off dead Slayers...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:31 pm 
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Gotta love the swift shift from "Birthday Present Time" (while everyone but Anya is ignoring all the sex Giles is having) straight into "Okay this means war."

I may be biased but I think Faith is on to something about Wolverine and his level of fatherly chillness. {wink, wink, nudge, nudge.}

I'm wondering if the powers just had a dozen or so Dream Weavers on standby, floating around the outer edge of the Slayer U property line, just on the off chance someone important spent the night outside the big fancy wards. So many incorporeal nightmare beasts that the girls heading into town for patrol each night didn't even know they were swimming in sandmen. Then again maybe one was all they had to spare after Giles ripped the first one into little pieces.

And literally every girl stepped up to help burn down the gates of heaven. I'm looking forward to Buffy walking into the heavenly equivalent of an opium den and calling every girl from Sineya to Kendra back into action. If the average Slayer lasts only about a year or less and they've been burning through girls since before the written word was a thing then the ghost army will easily outnumber the living one by a ridiculous number.

It definitely feels like were coming to the end of this story. Or at least we're nearing the main climax that will tapper off into I don't know how many vignettes about the New Scooby Council resetting the global and cosmological status quo. In any case Tara's second crusade looks like it'll be an interesting "final battle."

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:53 pm 
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Gosh!

Where did that Wolverine thing come from? [wink. Wink.]

Heavenly opium den? Cool imagery. I so totally didn't think of that.
Mind you, too much risk that someone would get bored and try to go for a walk, even stoned.
I figured, 'If i were trying to keep people under control, and was a villain type, what would i do?'

Anyhoo, major tone shift is a Buffy hallmark, so, i'm glad you noticed :)
And yeah, we're not done yet, but we're def nearing the goal lines. You can see it from here :P

Currently i'm writing the aftermath 'Ok, somebody explain what just happened, and i mean everything!' part.

Update shortly :)

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:19 am 
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Missing bit re-added Sorry :P



The beginning of the end.


On earth, or ‘the mortal realm’ as many called it, this would have been a square or courtyard.
A wide, open area from people to meet, converse or pass through.

And though this realm did not conform to the rules of earth, this part of the realm served the same purpose.

Common areas did not change easily, or quickly, and it had the same appearance that it had for centuries, that of a large square, laid with buff coloured stone, and edged with pale marble buildings.
Similarly gleaming planters were scattered about, filled with lush and vibrant plant life.

Perhaps too vibrant and lush.


Usually, this area would be thronged with people. Spirits, ascended beings, and the post-mortal.
Not today.
Though ‘day’ and ‘night’ were optional here.


Today, the large area had only maybe twenty people, clustered together in small, worried-looking groups.

Tension was in the air, and rumours had been flying.
Occasionally someone would glance worriedly at the beautiful emerald sky, or at the distant edifice that served as a palace or government building.
The sky had been green for weeks, and showed no sign of changing back.
Nor had any explanation been given as to why it had happened, or what the supposed ‘invasion’ was that everyone was talking about.


The Elders, and the Powers That Be were not known for being quick to explain themselves, and this had not changed recently.


Whatever conversation had passed worriedly from being to being, suddenly stilled, as the air rippled.
Had this been the mortal realm, birds would have taken flight in alarm.

As it was, those few present, looked around in alarm.
The sky maintained its deep emerald green, but beyond that, nothing seemed out of place.

But, there was a sense of tension, of growing strain.
The ground shook, creaking and groaning like an old wooden house in an earth quake.


And when the strain became unbearable, the very air tore open, spilling light out even into this bright place.

Mailed hands grasped the torn fabric of the world and stretched the edges apart.
And an angel girt in gleaming silver stepped through into the world, her wings of white spread behind her.

Her armour shone in the sunlight and she stepped boldly forth, to stand on a raised stone plinth. She raised a gleaming hand to point at the distant building, rising above the landscape in shining white.
“Go!” she said in a surprisingly deep feminine voice.

And an army roared, and charged through the portal, like a tsunami of darkness.
Five abreast, hands linked, lest one should fall and be trampled, the slayer army charged through the portal at a dead run.



Within seconds, a hundred women had charged through the gap in the world, and ran to the far side of the square before they stopped and took stock of their surroundings. They broke into small teams and started securing vantage points and guarding the approaches to the square.

Next came the Scoobies and friends, and the leadership of the Guardians of the flame, also at a dead run, grinning madly.


They pulled up sharply to one side, and stood by Tara’s gleaming form.

“Wow, what a rush!” Faith said.


“I’m just amazed at how fast you can run, for someone so very, um, pregnant,” Xander said, trying and failing to keep the grin from creeping back onto his face.


“Yeah. It’s not a lot of fun, waddling along. I get the feeling my belly arrives ten minutes before I do, but I can move if I have to.”
She looked uncomfortable. “Fair warning, I may pee myself.”


Giles looked pained. Before he could say anything, the next hundred strong unit of women ran through the gate, hands linked.
Xander took charge of clearing the gate area, and organizing groups.


“Now what?” Faith asked.


“We get two more groups through, then we go,” Buffy said. “We don’t need to wait for the rest of them. And three hundred Slayers should make a pretty good job of drawing their attention.”


“And then there’s me,” Ethan said urbanely.


“If you listen, you can already hear the doom bell ringing,” Giles said.


Oz took off his shirt, and handed a spare pair of track pants to Ethan. “Let’s do this,” he said.


Faith looked from his compactly muscled form to Willow. “And dated him? I’m impressed.”


Willow grinned. “It was a phase, ok?”


Oz concentrated, and his eyes turned dark, inky black. His skin darkened, and sprouted fur, and seconds later his hands gained long black talons. His face became unrecognizable, mostly wolf muzzle.
He growled.


“Excellent,” Ethan said gleefully interrupting. “We’ll make our way to the moonpool. Hopefully, they’ll think that is our true target.”


“Can you find it?” Buffy asked.


“I think so,” Ethan said. “There are few upsides to being involved with Eyeghon. But I know my way around a consensus reality or two. Besides, we’re the diversion. It doesn’t matter if we get lost, as long as we cause trouble,” he said brightly.


He gathered the wolfed-out Oz, Buffybot, Tamara, and one five-woman squad of Slayers to him.
He pointed to another group of buildings in the distance.
“That way, if you please. Spread out a little, but stay in sight of each other. Slay everyone and everything you meet. They can’t actually die, remember. And if it looks valuable or important, break it.”


He grinned. “And remember, have fun!”


“Damn. I wanna join his team,” Jules muttered. “They have the fun.”


“Nope,” Faith countered. “I need you with me. If we need real intense violence, I need you girls right at hand.”
She grimaced. “Normally, that’d be my job, but I done got myself knocked up. So it’s your job for the next few weeks.”


“We’ll live,” Tilly said dryly. “Probably.”


“Let’s go,” Ethan said, and he and his squad left and a ground-eating trot.


“Your spell appears to be working,” Giles said dryly to Tara. “I have never seen Ethan run. Voluntarily at any rate.”


Tara murmured something, lost behind her helmet.
She shook her head in annoyance.
“I hate this thing,” she said, unbuckling the offending helmet.


“Hey, if we have to wear our stupid helmets and get helmet hair,” Buffy complained, “then you do too!”


“There are important tactical and strategic considerations,” Tara said archly. “And it’s annoying and messing up my hair.”

Buffy just gave her a look.

“I mean, that I can’t see or hear very well, and can’t talk very well either,” Tara said defensively.


“And she’s staying at the back,” Willow said, looking incongruously militaristic with her armour and helmet. “Unlike you.”


Buffy nodded. “Time to go,” she said as a faint sound of shattering glass was heard in the distance. She could only imagine the sound of gleeful laughter.
“We really got our money’s worth out of him, huh?”


Giles laughed gently, shaking his head. “Ethan is absolutely brilliant when he’s on the job. The problem comes when he has too much time on his hands.”

More smashing sounds were heard by Slayer ears.


“No problem there then.”

She took a deep breath and centred herself. With the help of Tara’s spell, it was ridiculously easy. Energy pounded through her, begging for release, and with it the blessing of confidence, added to her already formidable self-confidence.
Boiling energy and calm, it was a strange combination.
She grinned. “Right. I’ll be back. With an army, even if I have to pick them up and carry them.”


Faith grinned back. “Believe it.”


Buffy embraced her tightly, and kissed her passionately.
When they finally broke for air, Buffy’s grin was savage.
“Give ‘em hell.”


“No problem.”


She looked over the rest of the Scoobies.
“Be safe guys.”

Various nods and smiles returned.


Giles cleared his throat. “I shan’t say good luck. That is for those that need it. I shall simply say ‘see you on the other side.’”


Buffy flashed him a grateful smile. “Best Watcher ever.”


And with that, she sprinted away at a speed that would have made Maurice Greene throw away his running shoes.


“Wow. That’s my girl.”

She turned to the rest of the gang. “Ok blondie. Do your thing. Lead us to victory.”


Tara nodded. “Can I borrow your sword for a moment please?” she said to Giles.


“Of course dear girl, I’d be honoured,” Giles said as he drew his sword and handed it over.


Tara took it gingerly and strode out into the courtyard, instantly getting everyone’s attention.
She pointed at the buildings in the distance, tall and palace-like with the mirror gleaming blade.

“With me!”


The army roared once again.



+++



Buffy ran.
She seemed to be doing a lot of that lately.


As she ran, she concentrated, remembering. Remembering the peace. The bliss. Of being dead.
Anya had called them the Elysian Fields, but what Buffy remembered definitely felt more like floating on clouds.

And she could feel it. Her feet falling into place automaticzzally, guiding her home.


No. Not home.
She had a home already. It might be squaky new, hell it was so new they hadn’t even finished decorating the place, and that was with Xander and Anya working their magic with the contractors.
But it was hers. Paid for with blood and tears, and love.
But hers in a way no other place had ever been, not even 1630 Revello Drive.


She was going, not home, but to a place. A place she had been before, and still had memories of.

And there she was.

She slid to a halt, surprised.
How long had she been running for?


It felt like hours.
It felt like mere moments.

Ugh. She hated this stuff.


She looked out onto a field, that stretched into the distance.
The field itself was at least waist deep in a soft, faintly luminous mist.
Far away, In a way that defied easy analysis, she could see forest bordering the field.

‘Great. Even distance is messed up here.’


‘You ok?’ came the thought from Faith.


‘Yeah. I’m here. How are you going?’


‘Decent. We managed to get about halfway there before they even realized there was a problem. They’ve put up some defences, and they’re getting tougher, but we really caught them with their pants down.’


‘Any casualties?’


‘We’ve got about a dozen girls hurt enough to sit out the fight, but nothing they won’t get over by next week. And about half the army is through. Snow White and Red have been real troopers holding that gate open. I reckon we’ll get all of ‘em through.’


Buffy got a strange vibe from Faith, via their link.
‘Faith? What are you doing?’


Buffy got a distinct ‘hand caught in the cookie jar’ feeling down the link.


‘Nothin,’ came the embarrassed reply.


‘Are you fighting?Buffy said in disbelief.


“Excuse me-”
Buffy held up her hand, abruptly forestalling any conversation.


‘Only a little bit,’ came Faith’s guilty response.


‘Faith! You’re pregnant! Like, very very pregnant! You’re gonna give birth in a few days!’


‘Well, yeah. But it helps with the cramps!’


Buffy shook her head. Unbelievable. No wonder Slayers hardly ever had any children.
Who could put up with them?


‘Faith, there are thousands of Slayers. Let them do the fighting.’


‘Jesus, B. Chill. I am, I’m just… helping out. A bit.’


‘How do- What did- Gah!’


‘Seriously B. Relax. Just taking a few potshots is all.’


‘???’


‘Dunno if it’s something the witch-squad did, the chick with the red hair, or ‘cos there’s thousands of us up here now, but the guns work. Me and the girls in green are having a rare old time.’


‘Red hair?’


‘Yeah. She’s pretty badass. Figure she’s some grand poobah or something that the Greenies rolled out, ‘cos she kicks major ass, and all the girls go all squirrelly when they have to talk to her. Not surprising really, she’s wicked hot.’



Buffy shook her head. She didn’t have time for this.


‘Well… stay as safe as you can manage. I’m gonna do my thing here, and see if I can bring help. See you soon.’


‘A-ight. Catch you on the flip side.’




Buffy turned to the old guy she’d been ignoring since she arrived.


“That looked pretty weird I bet. Just having a conversation with the fiancé.”


He smiled. “Marvellous! So, what brings you here to the fields, and so strangely dressed?”


She looked over the old guy. He had snow white hair, what there was of it, and was dressed in simple robes of beige and white, and carried only a simple wooden staff.
He could have come straight from Central Casting as ‘Harmless old-guy number four.’


“I’m Buffy. I’ve been here before.”


He blinked in surprise. “You have? Then you must be the Chosen One.”


“That’s me. Though these days, it’s closer to the chosen two-and-a-half-thousand.”


She changed her stance. “So, I’m here to bust them out. Are you going to be trouble, or helpful?”


“I remember when you left us. It caused quite a stir. Well, I try to be helpful, but I’m confused. Why do you want to ‘bust’ anyone out of these fields? This is their reward, and rightly earned.”


“And why are you here?” Buffy asked intently.


“To watch over them, of course. If any are ready to leave, I help guide them towards wherever they need to go.”


“How often does that happen?” Buffy said suspiciously.


He sighed. “It is rare, I must say. These people had lives filled with hardship, and are welcome to stay until they’ve reached peace.”


“Uh-huh. But how often?”


“Well… it has yet to happen on my watch.”


“Uh-huh. Thought so. So here’s the thing, caretaker guy. These folks are trapped here, kept quiet by eternal bliss, and I’m here to rescue them.”


“Er. No. That’s not right.”


“Sorry, my bad, I said that wrong. I meant to say I’m going to rescue them. Did you want to help, or did you want something horrible to happen to you?”


He drew himself up. “I have a sacred trust, and I cannot allow you to interfere with their rest. Chosen one or not, you cannot threaten the dead.”


Buffy rolled her eyes. “I so don’t have time for this. Sorry about the headache,” she said.
Before he could respond, she beheaded him with the Scythe.

He vanished in a sparkle of light, and his wooden staff fell to the soft grass.

“So much for the easy way.”


She picked up the staff. “Now, how do I work this thing?”



+++



“Booyah!” Faith yelled as the figure in gleaming armour went down.

Shooting them in the head, even with a high powered assault rifle, didn’t kill them.
But, as Dawn had discovered with vampires, it di discombobulate them a lot.
Usually long enough for a nearby Slayer to finish them off.

She was having a rare old time. It felt like she hadn’t been slaying in years.
If she was honest with herself, she was totally impressed with how much B let her get away with, slaying-wise.
Buffy’s overprotective streak was famous for a reason.

But although she clearly thought it was a bad idea, she’d bitten her tongue and let Faith accompany her slaying until she was so very pregnant that she couldn’t fit into pants anymore.
Then she put her foot down.
Damn, that must have been hard.


Thank god the little bean was growing super fast.
Nine months of this, and she’d lose her mind.


Shooting the stubby little rifle she’d swiped off one of the girls in green was no substitute for getting personal with an axe and a stake, but damn if it wasn’t fun.
And it really did help with the cramps.

She had felt pretty guilty before, shooting the ‘good guy’ defenders.
Even if it did them no lasting harm.


And then she’d remembered why they were here.
These fuckers wanted to kill her baby.
She shot straight.


“Hey Xan! How’s it going?”

Xander quit shooting and moved over.


“We’re getting bogged down. They’ve finally figured out what’s going on, and they’re just drowning us in bodies.”
He shook his head.
“They know we can’t really kill them, so they just keep coming. And besides, we’re up against millions here.”


“Got a plan?”


He grinned. “Yup.”
And handed her a grenade.


“Aww Xan. You get me the nicest things.”


“Think of it as a late birthday present,” he said with a grin.

He pointed to a narrow road between two shining white buildings. The road was rapidly filling with fighters, some in white, some in silver armour.

“When I say, you pull the pin and throw that into the back ranks over there. The rest of us will be throwing some too, and Willow and Tara have their own witchy bang bang. While everyone’s reeling, we make a run for the doors, and barricade ourselves inside. The girls can hold down the fort, and we can have some sharp words with the people in charge.”


Faith grinned back. “They’ll be calling you Xan the plan man, after this.”


“Yeah well, it was Giles’ plan. I just happen to be the one telling you about it.”


“Makes sense. Army-watcher guy an’ all that.”


Faith thumped Jules in the shoulder. “Yo! When it all goes bang-boom, I need you to get us through those doors. Punch a hole, smash ‘em down, whatever it takes to get in, yeah?”


Jules grinned. “You got it boss!”


Xander saw Giles raise his hand.
“Get ready.”
Giles brought his hand down sharply in a decent approximation of an overarm bowl, and from his other hand flew a grenade.


Grenades flew out from a dozen places, and a scant few seconds later, sharp explosions rippled around the battlefield.
Almost simultaneously, the mob of defenders between the Scoobies and the mighty bronze doors of the palace vanished in a blaze of light and lightning, conjured by Tara and Willow.


“Go!” Xander shouted.

Jules lead the charge, her Valkyries hard on her heels.
They cut down the few dazed survivors by the door, and Jules leapt high, slamming her mighty hammer into the door with all the force a charging Slayer could muster.
The enchanted hammer slammed into the door with a boom as loud as a cannon blast.

And it and she, bounced off the door, landing in a dazed heap.
She shouted loud enough to be heard over the noise.. “Ow. Fuck! I think I broke my ass.”


“I got this,” Dawn said. “Cover me?” she said to Heather.


Heather nodded. “Always.”


And with that she sprinted to the doors, her girlfriend watching her back, the rest of the army not far behind.

Heart pounding from the sprint across the square, she skidded to a halt at the massive doors.
Easily five storeys high, and a polished dark gold in colour, they could easily pass an aircraft through them. Or the space shuttle maybe.


“I hope you got some tricks up your sleeve, because I literally hit that door with everything I got, and there’s not a mark on it,” Jules said, rubbing her elbow.


Dawn nodded solemnly. “I got this.”
She closed her eyes, reached out to the door, and pushed.

Nothing happened.

Her eyes popped open.
“Oh crap.”



+++



Buffy was not having a good time.
She could feel the seductive bliss of the mist pulling at her, and she was getting nowhere with dispelling it.


She’d looked around, and she had found nothing much, other than the surprisingly comfortable wooden bench the old guy had been sitting on, and the staff.

She’d tried waving the staff around, willing the mist to fade, and gotten nothing.
She’d even tried ‘open sesame,’ and was seriously considering ‘Avada Kedavra.’


And she was really hoping that the solution didn’t involve the only other feature around: a hedgerow.
Because it was miles long, bordering the fields, and even with the scythe, cutting it down was likely to take a week.

“Crap.”


’How’s it going, B?’ Faith sent, sensing her frustration.


’not good. I think I might have chopped off his head too early.’


‘???’


‘Yeah. The old guy with the staff. I’m at the fields, I’ve got a staff, a comfy bench, and a hedgerow. Any ideas?’



Buffy felt the sensation of a shrug. ‘Break stuff.’


‘But what if I break the thing I need to use to turn it off?’


‘You’re asking me? Uh, hold on, I’ll check in with Red.’



Moments dragged on with terrible slowness.


‘Red says ‘break everything.’’


‘Really?’


‘Yep. She said, the spell is being maintained somehow. It’s either tied to an object, or being held up by a person. If it’s someone doing it someplace else we’re screwed. If it was the old guy, it would have vanished when you got all choppy. So like as not, it’s something nearby. And staffs are real wizardy. So break it. And break everything else you can find, just in case.’



Buffy chuckled. Willow’s phrasing filtered through Faith came out sounding quite odd.

‘Ok, here goes nothing,’ Buffy sent as she put the staff over her knee.
It bent, but didn’t break, even with her strength.

She grinned. Magic. A good sign that Willow was right.

But this wizard’s staff-thingy wasn’t the Scythe.
The Scythe might not glow, or let her fly (and she was still annoyed about that) but it cut anything.


Out of curiosity, she’d even sliced clean through an old engine block, once.
It left shiny edges.

So, she put the staff down on the bench, and with one smooth swing, sliced clean through the staff, and the bench for good measure.



There was a surprisingly small sparkle of white light, and she was left with two halves of a staff, and two halves of a bench.
And a huge sense of relief when the mist started to fade with great speed.


‘Yay! All busted, and the mist is fading. Thanks Poodle-Poo!’


Faith’s mental voice made a choking sound. ‘Poodle poo? D’ja wanna think that one through a little?’


‘Ugh. I so can’t improv this stuff on the spot. Why can’t it be like my clever puns and quips? Like that old guy that had to split?’


‘Puns and quips, sure. Not so sure about the clever part. Damn. Looks like lil’ D’s crapped out on the Key mojo. We’re stuck outside a big fuck-off door, and it’s really starting to heat up here.’


‘Crap. Well, hold on. I’m going to be back with reinforcements as soon as I can.’


‘Don’t be long. We’re doin’ ok, but they don’t let up, and they ain’t the least bit worried about getting killed.’


‘I won’t be.’



Buffy looked out over the field, now clear of mist, and filled with people, laying peacefully on the grass.


“Ok. Time to kick people out of their eternal reward, and into a fight.”



+++



The combined Slayer army filled the square, and was fighting to hold off the never-ending tide of bodies that flowed down the scenic streets in an attempt to drown them.


Between the terrain, the Slayers, and the Guardians with their guns, they were doing good.
But they couldn’t stay here.
The other side had no fear whatsoever, and effectively limitless numbers.
And they didn’t even leave bodies to pile into barricades.


Dawn was over by the huge door, looking pissy, Heather scanning the environment with a drawn sword, clearly on high alert.
“D? wanna hurry things along?”


“I’m trying. But I really don’t know how to use my power. Normally it just happens. This feels like it’s fighting me.”


“Right. So fight back. Harder.”


“I’m doing that!”


“D. Not trying to be a bitch here, but this is on you. We are gonna die out here, unless you get that door open. So get angry, and fight dammit!”


Dawn nodded. “I will. This door is coming open.”


“Atta girl. What the hell?”


If it was possible, there was a greater commotion, even than a pitched battle, on one of the narrower side streets.

Some of the attackers were stabbed from behind, and vanished in sparkles of light.
Revealing more people who looked exactly the same.
Except for their black hats and arm bands.
Someone waved a flag.


Faith snorted.

“Hey, Purple Pants! Someone stole your flag!”


“Wuh?”


And sure enough, someone strode confidently forward, carrying the school flag: rainbows on indigo, crossed axes and women holding hands.

That someone was Joyce Summers, wearing adventuring gear, and a black and white striped top.


‘Outstanding! B, your mom just showed up with reinforcements!’


‘Great! Kinda busy here. Be there soon.’


‘Just follow the noise,’
Faith sent back.


“Let ‘em through! They’re good guys!” Faith bellowed.
She winced. The peanut clearly didn’t like all the noise, and was signifying her displeasure.
Later. That was something she could deal with later. She was trying hard not to think about how.
Probably some hippy-style meditation.


The ranks of Slayer and guardians parted to let the newcomers through.
It probably should have been too packed to let them in, though somehow, it didn’t seem to be a problem.
Funky reality stuff most likely.


“Faith!” Joyce called.


“Hey Mrs S.”


“Joyce, please,” she admonished.


“Sorry.”


“Take a break dear. Let my people hold them off for a while.”


“You sure? That’s some nasty fighting.”


She smiled. “We can’t be hurt, we don’t get tired, and we can’t die. At worst, my people will be on their feet tomorrow. Most of them will be back in a few hours.”


“Sweet. Send ‘em over to Xander, he’ll take care of it.”


“Jesse? Would you?”


“Sure mom. We’re on it,” he said. “Yo Xander!”


“Jesse!”


And the two old friends made a start on organizing the fighters.


“How are you, darling?” Joyce asked her youngest.


“I’m good. Having trouble with this door though.”


Joyce frowned. “I’d like to offer some magically helpful advice, but I don’t have any. And I’ve have never been inside. No one has.”


“So it’s a secret?” Dawn said with a sly grin.


“Well yes,” Joyce said. “Important and embarrassing secrets are no doubt hidden within.”

She smirked slightly. “Far more embarrassing than Buffy’s diary.”


“I dunno mom. There was some gushy stuff in there.”


“Well I believe in you dear.”


“Thanks. This would be easier if I had any idea how my powers worked. I’m just sort of making it up as I go.”

She stood.
“Well, I’ve tried relaxing and clearing my mind. As much as I can, given, y’know,’ she said, gesturing at the fighting going on all around.
“And that’s not working. So I’m going to try angry.”


She stared at Faith.
Or more specifically, Faith’s protruding tummy.
And she thought to herself.
‘All these people are fighting, and getting hurt, and dying. Because the Powers That be want to kill my neice.’

She teared up.
‘They want to kill an innocent baby, that’s not even born yet!’


She stewed on it. Letting her sadness turn to anger.
They were going to kill a baby? Kill Faith? Ruin Buffy’s happiness?
Over her dead body.
She stewed further, running over and over it in her head, refining her sadness and anger down to something pure, and bright. Like the flame of a cutting torch.


And she screamed out that fury as she kicked her boot into the massive door with all her strength.


There was a sound, as of great machinery starting to move. Like a ship undocking.
And the massive doors started to open.


“Yes! Also, ow,” she said, hopping up and down with her sore foot in the air, glad she’d worn her adventuring boots.

“And Buffy used to do this in shoes? Silly Buffy.”


“Let’s hear it for the power of getting pissy,” Heather said.


“They know we’re here,” Dawn said. “They were fighting me getting the door open.”


“Take point,” Faith said to Jules and her girls.


Jules nodded. “Get a couple of guardians to cover us, while we clear the place out.”


“I think we can handle that,” Giles said urbanely.


“Yep,” Tamara said, looking as casual as she could while armed to the teeth.


“Sweet. Let’s go!”



+++



‘Well this is annoying,’ Buffy thought to herself.

This sort of thing never seemed to happen to comic book heroes. Or Harry Potter.
It was supposed to be simple, poke the bad guy with something pointy, win!
Break the shiny thing, spell goes poof, win!


So here she was, with a field that looked to be like, ten miles across, with sleeping people every fifteen feet.
And they showed no signs of waking up any time soon.
God, if she had to kick every one of them awake, she was going to be here till next week.


Now she was starting to see why Xander tried to do all his thinking ahead of time.

So, she paced, trying to work it out, when someone wasn’t trying to kill her.


There were thousands of people here.
They couldn’t all be Slayers, because she could see some guys.
She needed to wake up lots of Slayers, and ideally, not everyone else.
So what worked on Slayers?

She blinked.

‘Hey Faith? What wakes you up?’

‘The peanut jumping on my bladder? Your fingers? The alarm clock? Your tongue?’
Faith sent back.


‘That’s not what I meant. And it’s so not fair that you can make me blush just by thinking about stuff.’


‘Hey, we got into the palace. We should be able to hold them off here for a good long time, while we track down the dicks in charge.’


‘That’s great. And I’ll be along just as soon as I work out how to wake up a whole stack of Slayers.’


‘B, you’re a Slayer. What gets you going?’


‘Besides you, you mean?’



Faith’s thoughts came back with a grin attached. ‘Check you out, all cheeky and shit. What gets your attention. Sorry I can’t be more help B, but I’m in the middle of a frikking warzone here.’


‘No, it’s fine. That gives me something to work with. Stay safe ok?’

‘No fear there. I got an army.’



Buffy paced as she thought.

Slayer.

She’d been it, and done it, for so long that she rarely ever even thought about it anymore.
Except when Willow got her mad science face.
She shuddered. Brrr.


These days they were less about reacting, and more about pro-acting. Was that even a word?
They hunted the undead.
The shoe was definitely on the other foot now.
She thought back to her early days in Sunnydale.
Roaming the night, hoping to find a vampire or demon.
Before even her wonky slaydar had figured itself out.


She grinned.

And screamed the girliest scream she could manage.



+++



“That’s everyone,” Xander said, as they dragged the last few wounded through the massive door.


“They’re fighting me again,” Dawn complained. “I can’t get this shut.”
She kicked the door in frustration. “Ow.”


“Guess that only works once,” Heather said, commiserating.


“Don’t stress,” Faith said. “We had like, eight places to watch and fight. Now we got one. Ya done good kiddo.”


“No chance they’ll get in behind us?” Xander asked, scanning the huge hall nervously.


Anya shook her head. “This isn’t really a building. It’s a secure pocket dimension. Your brain just sees it as a building. All doors are this door.”


“Yeah, I don’t get it. But if you say we’ve got one door, I’m happy,” he replied.


“We’ve got one door,” she said helpfully.


“Awesome.”


“We should make a start,” Giles said quietly.
Or at least as quietly as he could manage, given the battle cries, clash of weapons and gunfire.


“Go,” Brigandu said. “We will hold here, and give you time to do what needs to be done.”


She turned to Brie and Fiona. “Go with them. Help them. See this through.”


“Aye, we will,” Fiona said roughly, her voice filled with emotion. Brie simply nodded, unable to speak.


“Have no fear. Brighid is with us,” Brigandu said confidently.


“Though normally, it’s in spirit, not in person,” Aibreann said, somewhat awestruck.
Her eyes were drawn to the redheaded woman, walking amongst the fighters, giving aid and comfort.


“No shit? That’s the Goddess?” Faith asked.


“Brighid,” Aibreann said reverently. “The fiery arrow, the poet’s Goddess, water and flame. Our goddess.”


“You have a hot goddess,” Faith said appreciatively.


“Show a little respect,” Aibreann. “She’s a goddess.”


“I was. Seriously, she’s a badass. And a hottie. Total respect.”


“Before we have some kind of religious crisis, or are required to start another holy war, perhaps we could get on with the job?” Brigandu said dryly.


“Good point. Let’s go,” Faith said.


She got Xander’s attention, and gestured deeper into the palace-like structure.
He nodded back and tapped Willow on the shoulder.
She nodded over the sounds of battle, and she and Tara wrapped up their healing work.


“Let’s go find these pricks,” Faith said grimly. She checked her pistol, and started out.
Her confident stride was somewhat spoiled by a distinct waddling effect, though she was using her long axe as a convenient walking staff.


Jules and her gang hurried out in front.
“Yeah, Buffy would totally kill my ass if I let you go at the front,” Jules said. “Seriously boss, let us take point, ok?”


Faith looked like she was torn between pride and irritation.

“Indeed,” Giles said dryly. “We are all here in your defence after all.”


“Aright already. Get a move on.”


The rest of the gang spread out in front as they moved inward into the palatial building.
The Stars, as they now called themselves, stayed in close to Faith.
Buffy hadn’t said anything specific to them, but they all knew what Faith, and their child meant to her.
And no way were they letting anything happen to her.


Xander and Giles were just in front, armed and as serious as anyone had ever seen them.
Willow, Tara and Anya watched the rear, not particularly needing to be in close to be helpful.

“How ya doing ladies?” Faith asked Willow and Tara, and by extension Anya.


“Shouldn’t we be asking you that?” Willow said, frowning at Faith’s protruding tummy.


“I’m fine, other than the obvious. I meant, how are ya doing on the mojo front?”


“Oh, er, fine,” Willow said. She and Tara shared a look and a nod.


“We’ve been careful to pace ourselves,” Tara added. “Just a single healing trance shared between us.”


“Yup,” Willow added. “All juiced up.” She blinked and blushed slightly. “Um, that sounded less dirty in my head.”


Faith grinned. “No doubt.” Her grin faded. “Any idea what we’re going to find in there?”


Willow and Tara shared a silent look.
“Nope,” Willow eventually said. “Sorry, but gods and goddesses, spirits of nature and all that sort of stuff? They’re easy to find information on. The Powers That Be are a whole bunch of steps removed, and so there’s not much chance of anyone finding anything out.”


“There will be more defences though,” Tara added. “This place is too big for there not to be.”
She frowned as she looked around, taking in the many high balconies high on the walls.
“There’s something familiar about this place though.”


Faith looked around at the white marble and astonishingly high walls. “Really? ‘Cos I was thinking someone was definitely compensating for something.”



Tara looked around some more. The fluted columns and white marble were not something she remembered encountering before. But somehow it seemed reminiscent of something.
She shook her head, remembering her mother’s oft-used phrase ‘Memories are like kittens. If you chase them, they will simply hide.’

And that reminder of her mother made her think of her once again. ’Where are you mom? she said into the privacy of her mind.

Willow gave her a curious look, but didn’t pry.

Something clicked for Tara, and she smiled.


“Ok, now I’m curious,” Willow said. “You’re putting out all sorts of vibes.”


“I’ve had an idea,” Tara said.


“Share?” Willow asked.


“I remembered something my mother said a long time ago.”


“Oh?” Willow said, her eyes lighting up with interest.


’let me tell you,’ she said silently.



++++


Things were not going well for Buffy.
To a woman, the slayers she’d woken were angry and resistant.
And in the absence of anyone else, their ire was focused squarely on her.
Which sucked mightily.


“Look, I broke you out of there, sure. But I didn’t kick you out of heaven. I unstickied you from a trap.”


“We were happy,” the apparent leader growled in a heavy brogue.
She glared at Buffy as if she was hoping that she’d burst into flame.


Equally angry, was the woman next to her.
They’d met before.


The first slayer. Sineya, Giles had called her.
Dark.
Ashen.
Angry.
Growling.


She was a tall girl, the redhead. ’Woman’ Buffy mentally corrected herself. ’Childhood didn’t last long back then. Even for non-slayers.


The woman in question was about Dawn’s height, and she had a shock of such intensely red hair that people would likely refer to Willow as the other redhead.
And that was with the modern invention of hair dye.
Her name was Maud, apparently. And if she was anything to go by, she might be where redheads got their reputation for being angry.
Or maybe Irish people in general.
Which would explain a lot about the British isles.


“That just made it a comfortable trap,” Buffy replied testily.


“So you say,” the redhead growled.
Worse, the looks of dissatisfaction looked to be spreading.
This was not what she’d been hoping for.
She was just about to get Faith on the headphone, when she realized she’d be in the middle of a huge fight, and really unable to afford the distraction.

’Think Buffy!’ she chastised herself. ‘You’re a slayer too. You were here. You should be able to figure these girls out if anyone can.’

God, this was worse than Faith at her worst.

And just bashing on her physically or emotionally would just make her fight back.
Which would be great if…

Her brow furrowed.
A wet, trickling sensation ran down her skin, inside her armour.
Wet, trickling sensations were never good.

It either meant that she was getting drooled on by some gross evil thing, or she’d been wounded, and hadn’t noticed.
And she was getting a very definite wet trickle running down her stomach, under her armour.

She’d ignored it, thinking it simply sweat from her stressful situation.
But she wasn’t sweating that much.
And it was sticky.

Distracted for a moment from the tense situation she quickly poked a finger under her armour, and drew it out.

“Yellow? Since when do I bleed yellow?!”

She sniffed the yellowish liquid suspiciously. Watermelon? What the hell?


“Gruth buí,” Maud said, not unkindly. “First milk.”

Buffy froze.
Milk. However the hell that worked when she wasn’t pregnant.

She was going to be a mom.
And she was in danger of losing Faith, and her daughter if she couldn’t persuade these stupid women to help.


It all crumbled.
There was no clever plan here, no slayer steel that would help, not with slayers interrupted from their eternal rest.
She knew that the ‘fight harder’ approach wasn’t going to work here.


So she didn’t.
She ignored all her instincts to be strong, and just let herself feel how scared she was.
And so she cried, tears flowing freely.
And it took the redhead aback.

Spoiler:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwE1Y4-jjdk


“Help us, please.”
She looked around at the assembled girls, for in truth, Slayers or not, they had lived and died as girls.

Before her stood every Slayer that had lived and died since the first.
Rank upon rank of them.
Every lonely girl who had fought and died, alone in the dark, since the beginning.
The tall redhead gave her a long measuring look, affected by Buffy’s open display of emotion, but not willing to trust instantly.


“Help my mom, please,” Buffy plead.
The measuring look continued.


In desperation Buffy opened her heart and spoke of her greatest fear. “Please, help me protect my daughter!”


At that, Maud nodded.

She turned and looked at the dark skinned primitive next to her.
The woman grunted in reply to the questioning look.


Buffy held her breath, something momentous was happening here, she could feel it.


Maud turned to the assembled ranks of girls and called out in a clear voice, tinged with her Irish brogue. “The Slayer has called, how shall we answer?”

Then Sineya, the first Slayer, raised her flint dagger and howled defiance at the sky.


Maud called again, louder this time. “Our sister has called, how shall we answer?”
The night rang with the sound of steel, as thousands of swords were drawn, and thousands of axes raised high.
Even in this place, a slayer was never without her weapons.


Finally Maud shouted. “Our daughter has called! How! Shall! We! answer!”


And with that, thousands upon thousands of voices screamed their fury into the night, with enough power and conviction to shake the very stars from the sky.

On and on the call rolled, a roar of vengeance from those most ill-used, a white hot scream of uttermost defiance.

The sound of it filled Buffy’s head and buoyed her heart.
The battle cry was both terrible and beautiful, it contained all the heart-stopping fury of the Slayers, all the soul-wrenching loss of the girls they had been.
And it contained the need, the absolute demand… for justice.
At long last, the Slayers would have their victory.

And Buffy wept tears of joy and relief.



+++

_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


Last edited by Azirahael on Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:38 am 
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Dibs-y Goodness! :banana :applause :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Big yay on the first part of the invasion of heaven...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:47 pm 
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It looks the beginning is cut off, or am I just missing something?

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:45 pm 
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vampyregurl73 wrote:
It looks the beginning is cut off, or am I just missing something?


Ooops!

You are not wrong. Fixing now :crash

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:20 pm 
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Loving the invasion so far. Can't wait for Buffy's ghost Slayer army to wash over the part of heaven that they weren't allowed into. Kinda funny that the Elysian Fields guard has never seen or heard of anyone "waking up" but he still thinks it could happen at any moment. Explains why he went down so fast. Ten thousand years of hopeful thumb twiddling can't be a good work out routine. Hopefully we'll get to see more of Tara pointing a big honking sword at things to show the Slayers where to smash.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:35 am 
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Short chapter today.
And if anyone can recognize where i got the idea for one of the fight scenes, you win a virtual cookie :)


Things get Loud.

“Sonovabitch!” Faith swore.


Whatever the crazy demon-angel-girl said, the bad guys had to have a back way into this place.
No way were this many meatheads parked in here, just waiting.


Worse, her two heavy-hitting witches had told her they needed to do something magical, and were sitting crosslegged on the floor together, with the big pink rock-o-serious-magic between them.
They only pulled that out when they wanted to do something serious. So Faith was hopeful. But man, their timing sucked.


They’d made a lot of headway, and if the level of decoration on the walls, and the crazy high balconies was anything to go by, they were getting pretty damn close to something.

And hey, big giant doors were a good frikking sign. And gold. Lots of gold.
Now if only the witches would get their A into G.


’Is this really going to work?’ Willow asked silently.


’I hope so,’ Tara replied. ’I think some of the things that have happened, haven’t been an accident.’


’We cast a teleport spell last time. So maybe start the same way this time?’ Willow said silently.


’It’s very similar to a summoning spell, so that should work.’


Together they let their power flow, Tara guiding Willow as she formed the basic outline of a teleport spell.
And she let her instincts and desires guide her, thinking of her mother, and the line of witches that she’d seen.


The power flowed into shape, almost eagerly, as though this was expected.
More power flowed from them than any teleport spell, more even than the gate that had brought thousands into heaven.
That much power should have left them unconscious or dead, and yet still it flowed, almost gently, soothingly.

Willow’s ring burned with pure blue-white light.

And with a flare of subtly pink light that left everything seeming slightly green afterwards, suddenly the room was a lot more crowded.


Willow and Tara both recognized the O’Liatháin witches they had glimpsed before, now in the flesh. So to speak.
But her mother was not among them.


“Tara?” one woman said.


Willow thought she was gorgeous. A natural blonde, lighter than Tara’s original colour, but significantly darker than her current platinum shade.
And a lot like her in other ways.


Tara looked confused, until something clicked. “Grams?”

The woman smiled. ‘Grams’ didn’t seem to fit a Tara-like hottie in her late twenties.


The woman laughed, a rich throaty sound. “Sweetie, I wasn’t always an old lady.”


Tara’s smile soon faded. “Where’s mom?”


‘Grams’ smile faded. “I don’t know dear. Her echo was here, as she used the doll’s eye regularly. But the summoning didn’t bring her. And I have never seen her here.”

She looked around at the fighting and her surroundings.

“It has been said that one day we would all be called to do something important. I’m guessing this is it. Perhaps you should tell us what’s going on?”


Tara helped Willow up. Willow was staring at the ring, glowing with icy light. “That’s new. And shiny.”


“I think it helped with the spell, sweetie,” Tara said, before turning to her Grams.

“We are in heaven. Prophesy says that the birth of the child of the slayer,” and here she pointed at Faith who was making her way to the door, shooting as she went. “Would be the sign of the downfall of the Powers That Be. So to prevent that, they are trying to kill her. We are here to stop that.”


The woman blinked in surprise. “Wow. That’s a hell of a thing.”

She thought for a moment, looking Tara over in her gleaming armour. “Ah, I don’t know if you know this sweetie, but you have… wings?”


Tara fluttered her wings and smiled shyly. “We have a lot of catching up to do after this. I’ve missed you Grams.”

Grams hugged her, as much as she could, what with all the armour.

“And this is my fiancé Willow. Willow, meet my Grams.”


She hugged the surprised Willow, who was only slightly less armoured. “Call me Evelyn. Welcome to the family, Willow.”


“You’re not… er, upset?” Willow said, looking surprised and slightly awkward.


Evelyn laughed. “Because you are a woman? Hardly. That would be just a tiny bit hypocritical in this family.”

Quite a few of the women in the background grinned.
A few more looked embarrassed.

“Where are we?” Evelyn asked.


“About one door from the throneroom,” Faith put in.
“Good ta see ya. Think ya can help with that?” she said, pointing at the massive door.


Evelyn looked at the door, and around at her relatives. “We have something like two hundred generations of witches here. An unbroken line. That gives us power,” she said mildly. “I think we might be able to help.”


“Wowie,” Willow squeaked. “We also have the Key. That might help too.”


“The Key? What’s that?” Evelyn said, looking a little confused.


“That’s me,” Dawn said. “I open things. And I’ve been doing pretty good so far. But they’re fighting harder with each door we come to. And now I’m stuck.”


“Merciful Goddess!” Evelyn said. “What are you?”


“Dawn?” Dawn said.


“Your aura… is pure green. And there are stars in there!”


“Yeah, I’m green,” Dawn said. “It’s a thing.”


“You know, green in an aura is generally a good sign,” Evelyn said slowly. “I’m not sure what an entirely green aura means, though. Or stars.”


“Pretty?” Dawn suggested.


Evelyn raised one eyebrow, and smiled in a very familiar crooked way. “It is that.”


“Huh. Well, we can figure it out later. If we’re still alive,” Dawn said.



+++



In the room, all was silent.
Bright light shone down on polished marble floors, tall fluted columsn, and very high balconies.


It also shone down on several dozen armoured knights.
Their armour was polished, their raiment glorious, their weapons glittered.


The two in front were particularly resplendent. Their white tabards were trimmed in black, and stood out magnificently.

One stood, silent and patient as a stone, his hands folded on the pommel of his sword, the tip resting on the ground.
He looked like a knight on a tomb.
Whatever thoughts he had were kept, guarded behind the polished faceplate of his helmet.

His companion fidgeted, and kept fiddling with his armour, clearly unused to such things.
His sword was still in its scabbard.


They were clearly the last line of defence.


Behind them was a raised platform of polished alabaster, so white it was like snow, so pure and translucent, it looked like plastic.
Someone really should have told their decorators.
The platform ringed the room like a crescent moon, and behind a bench suitable for the Most Supreme Court, sat the Powers That Be.


There were five of them, each wearing a simple hooded robe of white. Their faces were concealed in shadow


All was still, save the fidgeting of the one champion.
His partner bore the distraction in stoic silence, facing the mighty door.


Time wore on.


Then with a flare of green light, and with a sharp crack, long sealed doors opened.
And the Scoobies strode in.


“Knock-knock motherfuckers, Faith said as she strode into the room.

Well.
Attempted to.
The effect was spoiled by a distinct waddling motion to her stride, and by the mob of protectors that scurried in front of her.

“Way to rain on my parade guys,” Faith grumbled.
She looked up and saw he five robed figures, none of their faces visible beneath their hoods. “Oh look, assholes.”


“I’d say something about pissing off powerful people,” Xander said, sweeping the room with his good eye, and his rifle. “But we are here to kill them and all.”


She raked the five shrouded shapes with her gaze.
She was well past furious anger, and into cold rage.

“Just so we’re clear, we are here ta kill ya. But if ya want, ya can surrender, an’ if you’re persuasive enough, we might think about letting ya live. Maybe.”


Silence reigned.


The Scoobies held their ground by the door in tense silence.

The glittering denenders didn’t move, clearly waiting for the order to fight.

The silence dragged on.


“Any time now, dickheads,” Faith grumbled.


“Don’t they know how this works?” Xander said. “We’re supposed to have a big monologing thing, then someone does something stupid, and the fight starts.”


“And then we win,” Willow said. “This is what happens when you don’t let kids read enough comics.”


“Are they playing for time?” Dawn said, both pistols drawn. “I thought we were playing for time?”


“This is just one reason I prefer to fight the forces of darkness,” Giles murmured. “This never happens.”


“You cannot win,” one of the white robed figures said. “We have all the forces of heaven. We cannot be killed, we cannot be stopped.”


Willow sniffed dismissively. “Wow. I was expecting some kind of earthshaking voice. Y’know, like Deep Thought? You sound like some old librarian.”


Giles coughed slightly.

“Sorry Giles. Parking attendant?”


‘You far away, B? We got some weird-ass Mexican standoff here. We’re playing for time, but they are as well,’ Faith said silently.

‘Just hold on honey,’ Buffy sent back. ‘We’re real close now.’


“Why?” Tara said, speaking up unexpectedly. “Why all this? Couldn’t you just have left us alone?”


There was an uncomfortably long silence.


“It was necessary,” one of the other figures said.


“Necessary?! Fuck you!” Faith raged. “You want me dead! I’m used to that shit, but I’ve got a bun in the oven. And I will walk through hell to keep her safe!”


“One life for the world?” one of the voices said.
“How dare you put the life of your child above the lives of the rest of the world,” it said in an even tone, almost like a teacher speaking to a troubled student.


“An’ if that was true, I might even think about it,” Faith ground out. “Funny thing though. It ain’t my baby against the world. It’s my baby against a change you don’t like.”

Her gaze was like lightning. “But it don’t even matter. When you’re about to become a mom, your priorities change. Fuck the rest of the world. My baby lives.”

‘Jesus B. It’s gonna go to shit any second. Hurry the fuck up!’


Buffy’s only response was an image of her climbing the outside of the building, along with a feeling of anticipation.

Faith grinned. Reinforcements were seconds away.


With a gesture from the figure nearest the open doorway, the mighty doors slammed shut.
“It is most convenient that you brought all the Slayers here. We can restore the balance much more quickly now,” said another of the voices.


Faith shook her head. Old men, the lot of them. When were a bunch of old men in power ever a good thing?


“Champions? Begin,” another commanded.


’Bring the noise honeybunch,’ Faith sent on their private channel.

The two armoured knights stepped forward.
Before they could take a second step there was the sound of shattering stone and glass.

Buffy slammed down onto the white floor in a shower of marble and glass, bouncing to her feet, the Scythe held ready to strike.
“One more step, and I start taking body parts,” she said grimly, no trace of mercy in her tone.


The two stopped and glanced at each other. The tension ratcheted up another notch, if that was possible.


“Oh bugger this,” the fidgety knight said, and started undoing his helmet.
It fell to the floor with a hollow clang, revealing spiky blonde hair.


“Spike!” Buffy said in disbelief.


“Can’t see anything in that sodding bucket,” he grumbled. “’Ello buffy.”


The other figure sighed and removed his helmet, revealing darker hair somewhat mussed by the helmet.


“Angel? Well don’t just take the cake,” Faith said.


“Just so we’re clear, Angel? I’m really looking forward to shooting you,” Xander said with a grim smile.


Angel sighed. “We can’t let you kill the Powers That Be, Buffy,” he said quietly.


“Faith is carrying my child,” Buffy said. “They want her to die.”

Angel looked thoughtful.


Spike just looked impressed. “I’d pay real money to see how that happened,” he said with a leer.


Angel stepped forward, drawing his gleaming blade.
Everyone tensed, Xander drawing a bead on his exposed face.

He turned and faced Spike. “I’m with them.”


Spike shrugged. “Sod it.”
He turned to the figures behind the high bench and gave them the fingers. “Up yours Noddy!”
And he backed in next Angel. “Think I’m gonna let you have all the fun? A brawl in heaven? You Ponce.”


“We should catch up after,” Buffy said.


“Sure,” Angel said.


“I wanna know how you got a bun in someone else’s oven,” Spike leered. “How does that work?”


“Really well,” Faith said. “Eyes front, Billy Idol.”


“Got anything else?” Buffy asked The robed figures brightly. “You could surrender if you want?”


“You cannot win here Slayer. Not even with an army.”


“Really? Gosh!” Buffy said sarcastically. “Lucky we brought two armies then.”


“Three,” Tara said, her head up proud and defiant.
“And it shall prove sufficient,” she said, backed by the handful of the O’Liatháin witches that had made it through when the massive doors had slammed shut.


“It shall not,” one of the figures said. “You have your armies. But we have infinite resources, and all the time in the world. Your defeat is inevitable.”


“True,” Buffy said brightly. “Or it would be, if we were here to fight all of heaven.”
She grinned. There was no humour in it.
“We’re here for you,” she growled.

Behind her, slayers dropped to the ground, ready to fight.


“Xan-man?” Faith said.


“Yup,” Xander replied, never taking his eye from his target.


“Go to work.”


In reply, he fired off a long burst, right at the head of the grey cloaked figure in the middle.
He was a decent shot, and at this range he figured most of the bullets would hit.

At the same time, Giles, Tamara and the guardians raked the front ranks of the defenders with fire, and the Slayers charged, ducking low to go under the rain of lead.

Xander was sadly disappointed, as nothing appeared to happen to his target.
Either the bullets had no effect, or they never made it to the grey-robed bad guy.

With an annoyed grunt he let his rifle drop to its sling and pulled two grenades. He tossed them, one to the back ranks of the enemy mob, and one at the feet of his first target.

They detonated with a loud bang, and a good half a dozen knight-types vanished in a flare of light.
Disappointingly, the grey robes were completely unfazed.

And while bullets had little effect on the knights, it was very distracting.
The hail of lead only took down two knights in a flare of light. But bullets hammering into your armour is a very distracting thing, and it didn’t take much distraction to be fatal. Not when up against angry Slayers.


Buffy took down two with one swing, the Scythe shearing through metal, magic and whatever version of flesh was beneath. Both her victims vanished in a flare of light, and she moved on to the next without pause.


In her hands, the Scythe was like a lightsabre. It might not have glowed, but it sliced through other magical weapons like a hot knife through warm butter.
Which made it near impossible to defend against.


She and the other slayers weren’t having it all their own way though.
The defenders that they were up against couldn’t die, and they knew it.
And that affected their tactics.

After the first few fell, they gave up on defence altogether and simply attacked, uncaring if they fell in the process.

But even in a large room, there was a limit to how many people could be fit in.
And though the Scoobies took casualties, it didn’t take long for the battle to be decided.
Both the Scoobies and the Slayers had armour, and protective spells. And they were enhanced by Tara’s ‘follow me into fire’ spell.


The outcome of this fight was not in doubt.
But it wasn’t free.


Angel went down with a cry, a dagger blade rammed up under his armpit, easily penetrating the thin layer of mail there.
Jules, in the thick of the fighting, was hit repeatedly by sword blades.
Most she was able to block or avoid, and those that got through had to deal with Tara’s protective spell.


But the spell couldn’t stop everything, and eventually a sword thrust to the thigh slipped between the Kevlar plates.
She went down with a cry.

But before she could be mobbed, a pair of loud booms broke through the din of battle, and the two people most likely to skewer her vanished with a shriek.


Heather and Dawn dove forward to rescue their friend, Heather driving the knights back with a shining sword flashing in each hand.
Dawn dragged a profusely bleeding Jules out of the battle, complaining all the while.
“God, that hammer’s as heavy as you are!”


“Yeah, well muscle is heavy. Ow.”
She left a long red streak, shockingly red against the near snow-white all around.
“Grr! Lemme up! I can still fight!”


“Not on your life!”


Faith’s hand-cannon roared again, and another knight vanished in a flare of light.
“I love this gun!” Faith said with an awkward celebratory hop and a wince.
“Ow. Note to self, hopping and pregnancy, not a good combo.”


Tara came over to where Dawn was tending to Jules, guarded by a seriously wound up Heather.

Dawn shook her head seriously as she packed Jules’ leg with a trauma pad. “I’ve got this. You need to go be the big gun with Willow.”


“Are you sure?”


“Yep. Go. Knock ‘em dead,” Dawn said with a savage grin.


Tara quirked a small smile. “Will do. Take care, ok?”

Xander dumped his empty mag, and slapped in another.


“How’s the cannon working out?” he said, glancing over to Faith. “It sure seems-”
He blinked.
“Uh Faith?”


The pistol roared again. Faith winced and started to reload.
“Don’t think junior likes the noise too much.”


“Yeah. Looks like she’s coming to complain in person.”


Faith followed Xander’s gaze down.
“Oh shit. I thought that was just sweat.”


“Er, there’s a puddle. That’s a lot of sweat.”
He fired off another burst into the thinning ranks of fighters.
“Not an expert, but I think your waters just broke.”


‘B! Our daughter wants to meet you!’ Faith sent out silently.


Buffy froze for a moment, and started hacking her way back towards Faith.
’Now?! Now is not a good time!’


’No shit? Well, I don’t get to choose these thjings. So deal.’


“Xander? You wanna have a look down there and see how things are going?” Fiath said as she finished reloading.


“Uh, no? No, no, hell no?” Xander said.


“Well I can’t bend over and look myself, and you’ve already been down there before.”


“Eh-heh,” Xander said helplessly.

He glanced over at the obvious choice. Buffy was busy hacking her way back, clearly busy.


He looked desperately at Tara for help. But she was busy with Willow, working on a spell.

“Dawn! Get over here!”


Dawn opened her eyes and looked down. “Hey, I think it worked!”


“Am I healed?” Jules said curiously.

“God no. It’s my first healing spell. It’s just a spell that stops bleeding. Like, healing 101. Not sure I can even do the sleep spell yet, and that’s nearly as basic.”


“Dawn!” Xander yelled.


“Go. We’ll be fine,” Jules said as she got unsteadily to her feet.
The spell seemed to have worked. Only a few drips of red fell, from her bloodsoaked pants.
“Damn. That smarts,” she complained.


“Not surprised. It went right through,” Dawn said.


“Yeah? Well screw it, let’s get back into the fight,” jules said, and started limpoing determinedly to the front lines.


“Dawn!” Xander screamed. There was a distinct tinge of panic in his voice.


“Uh-oh, that sounded serious,” Heather said. “You better go.”


“Go defend those two,” she said pointing at Willow and Tara. “We’re gonna need them.”

With that, she scampered off to help Xander.



“What?” she said sharply.


Xander fired off another burst, staggering one of the knights long enough for Tilly to skewer him with a spear she had picked up from somewhere.

“Faith’s waters broke. She needs your help.”


Dawn goggled. “What am I supposed to do? I just cast my first healing spell. And it was a bandaid.”


“Well that’s more than I can do. And hey I’m a guy, what am I gonna do?”


Dawn’s eyes narrowed. “If we get out of this alive, I am going to sooo kick you in the shins.”


“That’s fine,” Xander replied, noticing that they were down to a handful of knight-types, and no fatalities among their own side. Hooray for teamwork.
“I have to be alive to be kicked, so go nuts.”


Faith fired off four shots in rapid succession.


“Can you not do that?” Dawn grumbled.


Faith nearly pouted. ‘But shooting makes me feel better.”


Dawn rolled her eyes. “Well try not to blow my head off. It’s my favourite. My mom gave to me.”


“Will do,” Faith said as she blasted the very last knight in the forehead. He vanished in a flare of light just as a slayer with a flower in her hair was about to hit him with an axe.

Moia snapped her head around and glared her annoyance at Faith.
Faith shrugged and grimaced.


“Ow. Wanna see what’s going on down there?”


“Like, no? Hell no? That’s way more familiar than I want to get with my sister in law.”


“Havin’ a baby here D. Help me out ok? I’d get the shiny blonde to help me, but she’s busy right now.”

She grimaced. “Ow! Owowow fuck!”


Buffy skidded over. “Are you ok honey?”


“No! I’m having a fucking baby in the middle of a fucking warzone!”


“What can I do?”


“Stop them assholes! Please?”


Buffy nodded. “Dead badguys coming right up.”


“Enough,” said one of the grey robes. “All this is futile. You cannot stand against the will of heaven.”


It raised a hand and a blinding bolt of light shot from it to Faith.
And was caught in a pair of gloved hands.
Those gloves caught fire, and the armoured figure skidded back with the blast.


Giles stood up straighter, shaking the remaining scraps of gloves from his smoking hands.
His cold green eyes narrowed. “Let’s test that hypothesis shall we?”


All through this encounter, the Powers That Be had seemed unworried, vaguely disinterested.
Now, it was still hard to tell, but they seemed worried.


“Whoa! Giles, I didn’t know you had it in you!” Willow said, impressed.


“Nice work G,” Faith said. “Goddamn! Ow! Sonova bitch!” she said as she clenched her fist against the pain.
“Get my damn pants off, D!”


Dawn shook her head. “The things that I have to do.”

And she started untying the drawstring on Faith’s dark track pants. They were absolutely soaked.



“What are you?” the lead grey robe said wonderingly as Giles stepped to the front.


“I? I am the reason the doom bell rang,” he said with quiet intensity. “I have been cursed with power and blessed. I am a father. And you will taste my anger.”


He clenched his right fist, and shadows formed around it, shot through with lightning.
With a clawed left hand he made a pulling gesture, and the one who spoke was pulled from his perch through the air, only be smashed with Giles’ cold burning fist.
A deafening blast shook the whole building as his blackened fist made contact with the creature’s skull and slammed it back across the room.


“Holy crap! When did G get all badass?” Faith said through gritted teeth.


“He’s always been a bit that way, under the librarian act,” Dawn said as she finally got Faith’s sodden pants off.

“Whoa!”


Faith fired a shot at one of the grey robes, and was pleased to see it at least flinch.
“What!”


“Uh, Big! Also smooth!” Dawn said.


“Yeah well, baby, y’know?”


Willow and Tara saw another grey robe raise a hand to their group. Their hands were already clasped, and they simply stepped between Faith and the Grey Robes.
They knew without even communicating that if they were going to to protect their friends, this would have to be the strongest barrier that they could create.

Together they called up every scrap of power they had husbanded against this day.
Every scrap of magic, every bit of love and fear, their very hearts and souls they put into this spell.


Far below, as much as another plane of existence could be considered ‘below,’ the mighty monolith hidden in the heart of the Scoobies home pulsed with power.
The titanic magical battery was full. Brimming with stupendous power. The kind of power required to change the face of the earth. A level of power that should have taken years to aquire, even in a place as magically rich as a Hellmouth or even a conjunction of leylines.

The Scoobies still had no idea where that level of arcane might had come from.

None the less, it was there.

The monolith pulsed again, a veritable rainbow of light rippling through the runes and crystals on the walls.
Then the room exploded with a light so intense, it was almost a solid force.

Outside, the remaining Slayers, Guardians and Watchers on the sick lists, or generally not combat-ready, looked around in shock as the ground shuddered, and a bar of light lanced into the sky.

With a sound between a song and a scream of triumph, the power of the earth reached out to the heavens.


In the throne room, Willow and Tara worked on their spell.
What was essentially a simple barrier spell was complicated by the sheer magnitude of the power they were attempting to channel.

They were both exceptionally powerful witches, capable of funnelling power through themselves that would kill a lesser mortal.
Much as the greatest athletes could attempt feats that would kill an ordinary person with exhaustion.


But this simple spell contained all their power, all their reserves, and the slightest misstep would be the end of them.
All this was below the level of conscious thought, and there was no way to discuss what they felt on an instinctive level in the time that they had.

Unimpressive though they may appear, the Powers That Be were more powerful than the gods.
Willow and Tara knew, if two mortal witches were to withstand any strike of this power, they would need everything they had and more.

And as with anything, the more powerful the spell, the longer it took to put together.
This was a very powerful spell.


Xander was no magic-user. But he had been around magic using folks long enough to get a feel for how it was done.
He was called the ‘One who sees’ for a reason.
And he saw.

They weren’t going to be ready in time.
He could feel it.


And so he did what he always did.
He got in the way.

Anya had just enough time to see him step forward “Wha-”

From the lifted palm of the grey robed came a bolt of power of such mind-stunning force, that it would have laid waste to a medium-size state or small country.

By rights, a blast of that kind of force should have been blocked by a human body as much as an artillery shell would be blocked by tissue paper.
Not at all.

The bolt hit, and Xander simply vanished, not even leaving smoke behind.
But the bolt expended itself on him, and went no further.

Anya’s eyes went wide, and she orbed out without a word.


“NOOOO!!” Willow screamed.

And as they were finishing the spell, they were hit by a torrent of power.
Strong, calm, unstoppable. Like a great river near the sea.
And impossibly familiar.


Barrier spells are usually visible, and the stronger the spell, the more obvious they generally are.
And barriers cast by the strongest witches were so solid, they were almost a form of matter.

Riding the torrent of power and rage, Willow and Tara slammed down a barrier, 5 meters thick.
It was solid magic, and it looked like diamond.

Just in time.


Tara collapsed on the floor behind the barrier.
Willow fell to her knees, glaring hate though the barrier that the one who had simply disintegrated her oldest friend.

The response was another mountain-crushing blast.


Giles, hands still smoking, tried to intercept the attack, but he was just too far out of place to reach it.

The ground shook as though someone had let off a cannon in a closet, and the shield exploded with light, the blast sending Willow and Tara flying though the air and skidding across the polished marble floor.


With a snarl like a mountain-lion, Buffy leapt through the air, Scythe over her head, poised to bring down harsh justice.

And found herself hanging in the air.



_________________
“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 3:30 am 
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8. Vixen
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Dibs-y Goodness! :applause :banana :bounce

Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Can't wait for the rest of the battle... Oh Xander, always doing the right thing... I hope he's sacrifice will give the Scooby army the necessary power to kick the PTB's collective butts... Tara's mom not being there kinda worries me, since PTB's definitely don't play fair...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 2:09 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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All that work to get to the final boss room only to realize they didn't put any skill points in the part of the skill tree that let's them actually damage cosmic beings. Hopefully Dawn's turn is next and she'll "key" their way to victory. While it's sad to see Xander go, it's fair to say he'll enjoy spending eternity orbing around with Anya and Jesse.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 5:26 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Woohoo!

Finished!

Sure it's roughcut, and it's going to need some cleaning up and polish, but i've finished this story!
Not done yet, but sorta... yeah.

So, with that in mind, if there are any unanswered questions that you want answered, just put 'em in the comments when you think of them, and i'll make sure they're answered in-story, rather than after it :)

Still got some Vignettes to do. There's a visit to the United Nations, Willow swearing a LOT, a wedding and so forth.
But the story itself is finished.

Got a few chapters for you to read yet :P

And one epilogue, very far in the future.

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 9:22 pm 
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Big Yay for finishing the story. Can't wait to read it...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 4:17 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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Azirahael wrote:
Woohoo!

Finished!

Sure it's roughcut, and it's going to need some cleaning up and polish, but i've finished this story!
Not done yet, but sorta... yeah.

So, with that in mind, if there are any unanswered questions that you want answered, just put 'em in the comments when you think of them, and i'll make sure they're answered in-story, rather than after it :)

Still got some Vignettes to do. There's a visit to the United Nations, Willow swearing a LOT, a wedding and so forth.
But the story itself is finished.

Got a few chapters for you to read yet :P

And one epilogue, very far in the future.

Bruh!

How are you done? I just started reading it. I'm still way over there by part 1, enjoying your WoW/DnD stylings.

---

Also, "two hundred generations". That's like 4000 years. Tha's a long time!


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 5:56 pm 
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
thespian_phryne wrote:
Azirahael wrote:
Woohoo!

Snip!

Bruh!

How are you done? I just started reading it. I'm still way over there by part 1, enjoying your WoW/DnD stylings.

---

Also, "two hundred generations". That's like 4000 years. Tha's a long time!


Welcome!

Ah, because i got 80% of it done, before i started posting it :)

I hate hate HATE when i get into a really good story, and then it just... stops.
And while i hope to make a good story, i don't want anyone who is enjoying it to be annoyed or disappointed because i fell down on the job :P

And a good thing too. Finishing this thing is hard. :(

Yep! 4000 years is a long time. It's actually longer than that.
Some of this stuff goes back to when we were all black, because every one of us lived in Africa.
If not further back still.
(I did lots of research. Turns out, white people have only existed for about 7000 years.)

But yes, the Craft has been in Tara's family for a loooong time :)

Enjoy! :bounce

R :flower

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 9:55 pm 
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Nearly there. Sorry about vanishing, but while this story has indeed ended, i'm not super happy about how it finishes, if you get me.
Like a lot of folks, i'm better at starting than finishing.
So here is the penultimate chapter, while i work on the ending (and epilogues) a little.


Penultimate Explanations




“Whoa!” Dawn said, trying her best to ignore the shouting and blasts of light.
She tried to ignore the surreal feeling of staring between Faith’s legs as she shot her hand cannon off at things.
“Pretty sure it’s not meant to happen that fast! The baby, I mean!”


“Ow fuck!” Faith complained. She relieved some of her stress by shooting another grey-robe. He flinched satisfyingly.
“Slayers are fast, D! This is the same!” she shouted over the roar of gunfire.

She glared death at the grey robe. “Sonova bitch! You killed Xander! If I wasn’t squeezing one out, I’d fucking kill you with my bare hands!”


Dawn’s eyes went wide. “What?! They killed Xander?!”


“Took one for the team!” Faith shouted.


Dawn’s eyes narrowed. “Sounds like him. Hurry up and give birth! I wanna go hurt these guys!”


“I’m trying!”








Buffy hung in the air before an irritated grey robe.
“Who are you? That you think you can defy destiny?” it asked. Despite it’s even tone, Buffy got the sense that it was annoyed.


Buffy glared. “Was that one of those Rhett-butler questions? Because I really think you know already. Plus, I’m totally gonna kill you in a sec, so you should get all your questions out of the way.”


The being looked more annoyed, enough that the irritation coloured its voice. “You dare-”


“Yeah. I dare,” Buffy said, interrupting. “You are trying to kill my child, my girlfriend-”


“Fiancé!” Faith shouted.


“Right, Fiancé,” Buffy said. “My bad.”

She grinned.
It wasn’t a nice grin.
It was the sort of grin that early man had encountered (briefly) in the ancient forests, at the dawn of time.
“You want to know who I am? I am Buffy Summers, Slayer. Daughter of Joyce Summers. I am the right hand of vengeance. I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see.”
Buffy’s eyes stared burning fury. “The Goddess sent me.”


“No weapon-”


Buffy’s arms slashed down. The Scythe turned end over end once as it flew through the air and slammed blade first into whatever lay beneath the hood.

The grey figure froze.
And then, slowly lifted a hand to the handle of the axe, protruding from its face.
It collapsed in on itself like a tent with the poles kicked out.


“Not forged by man. Forged by woman,” Buffy said with grim satisfaction.
“That was for Xander, you son of a bitca.”
She looked up coldly, searching for her next target.


Giles was beating one of the figures with such brutality that she had a fleeting moment of pity for it.
He was clearly letting out years of pent up frustration, finally having a target that he could really unleash on.

Ripper was clearly alive and well.
And was busy smashing the grey robed figure’s head against the hard edge of the solid marble lectern.
No mercy was evident.


She picked up the Scythe.
“Looks like we can-”


It was too late.

Even though one of the powers had already fallen, and another was soon to join it in whatever afterlife came after the afterlife if Giles had anything to say about it, there were five of the grey robed Powers when the battle started.

And their sheer incompetence on the battlefield, or their disbelief that they could be challenged, had lead them to ignore the threat in their midst.

Which was a fatal flaw in battle.

If you were hoping to get out alive.

Three hands were already raised.
And they pointed directly at Faith.







Willow reached out blindly across the floor for Tara, and took her hand.

’Baby?’ she sent weakly.


’Willow?’ came the equally weak reply.


’It took everything we had, and then some, but it held. Baby, it held!’


’Weak. Too weak,’ came the reply. ‘It won’t stop another hit.’


’We’ve got nothing left,’ Willow sent. ’I don’t know about you, but I have the mother of all nosebleeds.


There was a moment of reflection. ’Not quite everything.’

Willow grasped her meaning, and joined in instant agreement.


There was one magic left.
The strongest and deepest of all magic.
Blood.


It was one thing that gave the dark magic an edge, the willingness to shed blood.


But blood could be given willingly.
Light magic, of the strongest kind.

Sacrifice.


The barrier strengthened, and began to burn with light. It crackled with furious lightning, and burned with all the power of the endless sky.

On Willow’s finger unnoticed, the Tear of The Goddess opened, and blazed with light.

Two bolts struck the barrier.
And the world exploded in light.







The barrier was gone. But a white-faced Dawn and Faith were still alive on the other side.

“Omigod! I can see the head! Push!” she shouted.


“Ow shit! I am pushing dammit!” Faith complained. She registered her annoyance by shooting at one of the grey robes.


*click*


“It goes click?” she said, momentarily distracted from her situation. Though only for a moment.
“Ow fuck! B, I swear to god, you are doing this next time!”


Buffy spared a glance over at her love, and her sister.

They had done tremendous damage to the Powers that Be. One was down, and Giles had dropped whatever remained of his foe to the ground, with very evident satisfaction. He grabbed another, and proceeded to hand out the kind of savage beating that would have made the nastiest inhabitants of the London docks wince.

But there were still two left, and they raised their hands again.


“Faith!” Buffy screamed desperately.


Faith’s head snapped around, and Dawn looked up, pale faced.

Buffy’s heart sank with impossible weight. She was never fast enough.







’Then the last thing she'll see is me protecting her.’

Those words echoed in Dawn’s mind.
Somehow time was suspended in some odd, silent moment.


They were so close. So close.
All they needed were a few seconds.
And she knew how to get them.


She stepped forward.
It was her turn now.





The bolt of light made contact before anyone could do anything.
The world turned green, and Dawn vanished, leaving behind an orb of green light that drifted slowly to the ground.


Somehow the faceless presence inside the shadowed hood managed to look horrified .


Outside, the battle raged on, the ranks of the defenders bolstered by the influx of awakened slayers.
In the midst of this strode the Goddess Brighid, she of the fiery hair.
She bolstered the defences, healed the injured, and pulled the fallen from the front lines.

A blinding flare of green light spilled from the high windows behind the defenders.
Brighid dropped to her knees, all strength leaving her.
Tears rolled silently down her pale cheeks as her short sword fell from her nerveless grasp.





“Noooooo!” Buffy screamed.


Giles looked up from kirb-stomping the grey robed Power.

He’d heard Buffy’s scream, but more than that, he had felt the entire mystical landscape shift.
He was not sure if this was a good sign, or a bad one, but whatever it was, it was massive.

And while the remaining Powers had all frozen in a creditable impersonation of statues, the battle still raged.

And he saw.
And his heart sank.
This was all his fault.

Again.





’Sweetie?’ came the almost inaudible mental voice.


’Tara?’ Willow responded weakly. ’Um, I think we’re dying.’


’We are.’


‘Did… did we fail?’


‘I don’t know. Sweetie I just don’t know.’


‘I wish we could have done more.’


‘We did all we could. Our part in this is over.’


‘But.. Dawnie.’


‘I know,’
Tara whispered with the last of her strength.


With herculean effort Willow managed to move her hand, twitch by twitch, over to the dimly glowing green blob that was all that remained of Dawn.

The touch of it was cool. Somehow that felt wrong.

‘At least we won’t be alone,’ Willow whispered with the last of her fading consciousness.

Her last thoughts were of her love, and the love they shared with their heart’s daughter.
As were Tara’s.

Her eyes closed.





Unseen by those closest to it, the green blob pulsed.
Something struggled, within the glow. Searching, grasping instinctively, with something less than instinct.
And it latched onto the thoughts of the dying women.
Thoughts, and love.


And they provided the spark.
A spark of identity.
A tiny spark of self that an existence could be built from.
And love to provide the drive.


And that spark grew, and explored all that it was, and all that it could be.
And grew.
It took no time at all. It took eternities. Time was an irrelevant concept to that which grew in the green light.


Until consciousness flared.
’I. Am.’


And that simple consciousness looked around, and saw what was happening, saw the shape of things.
And understood what to do.





Tears of rage and loss streamed down Buffy’s face.
But she didn’t have time to stop.

The Powers That Be, were down to two still standing upright.
But all they had to do was raise a hand, and even more of her world would end.


Dawn was gone. Xander was gone. Willow and Tara were down, and they were not moving. At all.
Not even breathing.


But she was damned if she was going to lose anyone else today.





’No.’

It was a tiny voice, less than a whisper.
But it carried not just the tone of command, but an absolute declaration of the way the world would be.


Everyone stopped.
Even those still fighting in the big room.

Even Giles paused in his righteous thrashing of his current target.
Even Buffy froze before she could unleash the bottomless well of rage and grief.


Heather was already frozen, having already fallen to her knees. Her face as white as marble, to overwrought to even cry.

In front of her, on the floor the blob of green light pulsed.
’I. AM.’

A moment passed.

And the light began to grow.
It pulsed, like a heartbeat, and a sound was heard, like the heartbeat of a galaxy, like the intake of breath before the first word that spoke creation into existence.

’Dawn.’

The light grew inwards, collapsing in on itself in a way that showed whole stars, entire galaxies inside.
And over eternities that lasted mere instants, the stars and galaxies solidified, and Dawn slowly appeared, arms outstretched, floating in a green glow about a foot off the ground.

She smiled beatifically.


Giles coughed. “Clothes?”


Dawn smiled, and her black armour and gear faded into existence.

“It’s over,” Dawn said, her voice echoing strangely. “We’ve won.”


“Ow shit!” Faith swore. “Little help here?”

Buffy immediately forgot her next target and ran over to help Faith.

“Nearly missed the big monet, B,” Faith said with a grimace.


Buffy crouched down. “What do you need me to do?”


“Uh, catch I guess?”


“Catch?!”


“Well what the fuck do I know? I’ve never done this before!”


“Me either!”


“Well, I’m no expert,” she gasped. “But I bet going splat on a cold hard floor, right after popping out is gonna be a shitty fucking start to life! So catch!”

Faith squatted down. “Oh god! Here we go!”
She grit her teeth and pushed.


Buffy’s eyes widened “Ohmigod!”
She quickly pulled her gloves off and held out her hands.


“Gnrrrgh!” Faith said.

With a whoosh of sticky fluid, their daughter slipped into the world.
And was caught by her other mother.

“Jesus fuck!” Faith swore. “You have no idea how weird that feels.”


“Oh my god Faith!” Buffy whispered, awestruck. “Look what you did.”


Faith panted. “What we did, you mean?”


Buffy held out their daughter a little so Faith could get a better look.
She carefully scooped the gunk out of her mouth.
Someone handed her a big fluffy towel, and she gently towelled their new daughter dry.
She coughed and started to cry in short gasps.

“Oh my god!” Buffy said with tears in her eyes. “We’re moms!”


Faith smiled tiredly. “Yeah we- Gnrgh!” she said as another spasm hit, and the afterbirth came out.

Faith gasped. “God this sucks!”
She looked down at Buffy, who was now gently towelling their daughter dry.
Hope had rapidly changed from a weird purpley colour to a sort of red.
“Worth it though.”


Buffy smiled and passed her up.
And she began the thoroughly gross process of dealing with the afterbirth and umbilical cord.

“Hey baby,” Faith said softly. “Welcome to the world.”


Buffy bundled up the placenta and cord and tucked it into the towel.

“You aren’t ah, going to cut it?” Giles asked awkwardly.


Buffy shook her head. “Nope. That’s a TV thing. This gross looking thing has like, a load of blood and stuff that little Hope needs. So we leave it alone for a while until it all drains in.”
She gave Giles a weak smile. “There wasn’t much I could do to prepare for the pregnancy. So I read a whole lot of ‘so you’re going to be a mommy’ books. I could be a nurse.”


Faith made a face. “Now all I need is new pants, and to get the twins out, and we’re all good.”
Buffy rummaged around in Dawn’s dropped pack and produced a replacement set of black under-armour leggings.

They both knew that the rest of the day was ready to come crashing down, but for this one perfect moment, all other things could be put aside.


After a cautious clean-up, and some new pants, they re-joined what remained of their family.

Heather, Jules and Giles were kneeling together, by Willow and Tara’s bodies, watching Dawn with a mixture of awe and trepidation.

“Oh my god! Are they ok?! And Dawn?!” Buffy said.


“Jesus. Too much to deal with all in one go. Didn’t even see them go down. They ok?”

Hope squawked unhappily.
“Oh right. I remember reading about this.”
She lifted her top and parked Hope’s tiny mouth on her darkened nipple.
“Holy crap that’s a weird feeling.”


Giles coughed awkwardly and looked away.
“Chill big guy. Only a tit.”


“They are dying,” Dawn said, her voice harmonizing oddly. “They gave their lives to power the shield, and now the last of their lives are fading away.”


“Oh no,” Buffy whispered sadly.


Dawn knelt by the two women, who were her mothers and big sisters in all but name.
Live,” She said simply.
It was spoken softly and with love, but for all that, it was an absolute command.


Green light flared from their eyes and mouths and suddenly they were coughing and gasping for breath.

“What was that!” Willow gasped. “Oh Goddess! Uh, aren’t we dead?”


“I definitely felt sort of dead,” Tara said. “What’s going on?”


“And did you know your eyes are glowing green?” Willow added.


Dawn’s eyes were dark and lightyears deep. Within spun whole galactic clusters of green light.
Which looked very disorientating when she rolled her eyes.

Absently, Willow wondered if she’d just inadvertently made a significant portion of the universe motion-sick.


“Yes, I know my eyes are green. No, you weren’t dead. But you would have been, in under a minute. You gave your lives to protect us. And you managed to stop hits that would have slain the gods themselves.”


“What about Xander?” Tara asked sadly.


Dawn stood in silence.







Just when the silence began to get awkward she spoke.
“You know it would have been really great timing if he’d shown up just then.”


“Oh crap!” a voice cried out.
A black-clad figure hurtled through the air at an impressive rate of knots, and hit the ground.
He did his best to roll with it, and tumbled across the floor, only to starfish up against the far wall. Upside down.

“Ow,” Xander said.


Anya orbed in.
“That’s just a habit,” she said.
She folded her arms.
“Any minute now, you’re going to realize that it didn’t hurt.”


“Xander?!” a number of voices said in amazement.


He peeled off the wall with a thud, and staggered to his feet.
“Well, so much for my dramatic entrance,” he grumbled.


“There’s still fighting happening outside,” he said, as he scrubbed his face with his hands.
“Also, Hey. Did we win? And how come Dawnie’s all glowy?”


Dawn nodded. “We won. It’s just taking some folks a while to notice.”
She glared at the remaining robed figures.
“Stop the fighting. Now.


The tone of voice made everyone weak at the knees.
There was no possibility of disobedience.

They nodded mutely in response, and within a few seconds the shouts and cries of battle died out.


Dawn turned to Giles. “Can you get Mom and Jesse please?”

He nodded and hurried away, shouldering open the massive doors as he went.

Dawn turned to the Slayers and guardians. “Maud? Kendra? Can you look after things here please? There’s something we need to do.”


Maud nodded.
Kendra replied. “Twill be taken of,” in her heavy Jamaican accent.
She smiled. “Good ta see ya agin Bufee.”


Buffy nodded back. “You too.”


“Clearly there’s a lot going on,” Heather said, worriedly. “I’m hoping for some answers though.”


Dawn nodded, catching sight of Giles returning with more of their family.
“Come with me,” she said seriously. “There’s something I need to do very very badly, and I can explain some things as we walk.”


And she lead the way to another massive door.

“Somebody’s compensating,” Xander muttered.


Nobody laughed. There was just too much to process.

The doors opened at Dawn’s touch, revealing a long hallway lined with pillars even whiter than the general alabaster tone of the place.

“It’s going to take a few minutes to get there, so ask your questions now,” she said with a smile.


“Did we really win?” Xander said, jumping in to break the silence.


Dawn nodded brightly. “Yep. Yep yep and Yep! We won so much that we’re gonna need a new word for ‘win.’”
She did a little skip. “Seriously you guys, this is one of the big four events in the universe. And two of those are its creation and eventual ending.”


Unable to help herself, Willow piped up. “And the other one?”


“That one I’ll explain in a few minutes. Or someone will,” she said with a sly smile.


“Are you still Dawn?” Tara asked softly.


Dawn grinned. “I am more Dawn than I have ever been. It’s ok Tara, I’m still me. Promise.”


“Regular Dawn doesn’t have glowing eyes,” Xander pointed out.


“Regular Dawn, wasn’t really Dawn,” Dawn replied.

She stopped and leaned against a pillar.
“Let me explain a little.”


Everyone slowly gathered around.

Before anyone could speak Joyce enfolded Dawn in a hug.
She looked down at her daughter’s shining eyes.
“You’re my little girl,” she said softly.


Dawn snuggled for a little while, enjoying the hug before separating herself. “Thanks mom. And despite what comes after, you’re always going to be my mom.”

She looked around at her odd little family.
“The Key is older than the universe,” she said. “But as powerful and complex as it is, it was never aware.”


“Talkin’ about yourself in the third?” Xander said. “Do we refer to you as ‘The Dawn?’”


Dawn glared. “Dork. Quit raining on my parade!”
She sniffed, a very Dawn-like gesture.
“As I was sayingbefore I was so rudely interrupted, the Key was powerful, but not aware. It was complex, and had instincts of a sort, but no mind, no self-awareness. Being transformed into a person gave it awareness, but the awareness was separate from the power of the Key. In order to combine the two parts, it, I had to be touched by the power that had sealed me off in the first place.”


“The Powers That Be,” Buffy whispered, reluctantly tearing her gaze from her newborn daughter.


“Yup. Sorry you guys but everything that happened, every good and bad thing all lead to that one thing. If I’d not gotten zapped, or worse yet just died some other way, this wouldn’t have happened. And this day has been delayed for an eternity.”


“Uh, so, this is going to sound dumb, but what day?” Xander asked.


Dawn smiled. “The only thing that is important enough that it needs to be done before we all coo over little Hopie, or hug mom lots, or Willow and Tara, or you,” Dawn said. “Or just as importantly, my girlfriend.”

“It’s time to bring mom home.”


“Anywhere my daughters are is home,” Joyce said.


“Aww,” Dawn said. “But that’s not what I meant. C’mon you guys, let’s get this done, and we can take a well-earned break and fall apart.”


They set off again, walking briskly down the long, glowing corridor.
As they walked the general level of luminosity increased.


“Y’know, you are really together for someone who just disintegrated,” Xander said.


Dawn smirked. “Ditto.”


Xander shrugged. “Eh. You learn to roll with the punches.”


The corridor ended in a room, lit even more brightly with the omnipresent glow.

“Wow. This is whiter than a republican convention,” Xander said.


“Much whiter,” said a dazed Willow, hanging onto Tara’s hand for dear life.


Tara looked around. There was a crystal quality to the silence that she recognized.
She’d felt it before.
When she had spoken to the Key.


At the far side of the hall-like room was a door.
A big door.
A door to put all other doors to shame.

It looked to reach up into the clouds, and appeared to be carved out of diamond.


“Wowie!” Willow squeaked.


“Yep,” Dawn said. “That’s THE door.”


The Door,” Tara asked, still a little dazed.


“Yep. The door to the world.”


“There’s a world on the other side?” Xander put in.


“Nope. There’s a world on this side,” Dawn said.
“Wait here a minute. There’s someone I want you all to meet.”

She strode over to the massive door and rested her hand against it.
She concentrated for a few seconds, and stepped back.

The diamond cracked and shattered, revealing that the door was mother of pearl, and the adamantine coating was a seal.
She strode quickly back to the rest of the gang, as the door slowly drifted open.

She took Heather’s hand, and her mothers.
“You have no idea how awesome this is,” she said, almost bouncing with her excitement.


“There might be a reason for that,” Xander said wryly. “What with us having no idea what’s going on.”


“Yeah,” Jules said, absently rubbing her injured leg.


“Don’t pick at it. It’s not healed, it’s just not bleeding anymore.”


“You can’t just magic it better? What with you all glowy and stuff?”


Dawn shook her head, her slightly messed up braid waggling. “Nope. For roughly the same reason that you don’t do microsurgery with an aircraft carrier.”


“Ego much?” Xander said with a grin.


“It’s not about power. Some things are just the wrong tool for the job. Now hush,” Dawn said, pointing towards the slowly opening doors.


On the other side was a darkness so absolute it hurt to look at, and a figure was slowly fading into view.

“Uh Dawn?” Xander said. “If we’re standing in the light, and you just opened a door into total darkness… it’s not a good look, based on past experiences.”


“Try being stuck there for all eternity,” she responded.


The figure stepped fully into the light.
It was not large, armoured or spikey.
It was in fact, a woman.
Wearing jeans and a nice looking green sweater.

She walked forward, looking around in wonder, like someone taking in the old homestead.


Dawn squealed and sprinted towards her, engulfing her in an ecstatic hug.
And she glowed green even more brightly.


“Who’s the chick?” Faith asked, finally looking away from the newborn Hope. “Looks a little like Mrs S.”


“She does look a lot like mom,” Buffy said. “With darker hair.”


Dawn dragged the woman over, looking for all the world like any teen hauling her mom to meet her friends.

“You guys, I want to introduce my other mom. She has a bunch of names, but most of you know her as ‘The Goddess’.”


Willow and Tara went wide eyed immediately.


+++

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 11:40 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Yay for excellent update-y Goodness... I'm glad that the PTB's are gone... Big Yay for birth of Hope... Extra big Yay for the release of The Goddess...

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 1:11 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Dawn's other, other, other mom finally showed up. Nice twist. I also liked how they managed to outright kill three fifths of the upper management demigods before Dawn's "take one for the team" ended things. Also nice how the prophecies never explicitly stated that the heavenly/world power shift would be caused by one of them zapping the Key. Their great big book of "end times" just listed off 80 pages of all the stuff leading up to the final battle and then added "Plus the Key gets zapped." in the margins as an after thought.

I'm wondering if Brigid is Dawn's other sister. In any case I'm looking forward to your wrap ups and happy endings. Great story.

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 Post subject: Re: Coming home part 2 - And The Stars Shall Fall
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:09 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Just writing up the epilogue now.

Continental subduction.

Pretty sure that's gonna be a unique epilogue :P

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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