The Howling Dirge
Echoes of the Fallen:
Chapter 14: The Howling Dirge
Author’s notes: And thus, do we enter these final steps.
It was a mass of confusion as suddenly everything seemed to happen at once. Glory’s smug, confidant, knowing voice rippling over their heads, cut a swathe of silence into the air, before suddenly everyone was on their feet. A shambling mob was approaching them, filled with wild, empty eyes, and herded by the wrinkled, dark flesh of Glory’s demonic minions.
“Well, this certainly won’t… urp.” Richard Wilkins paused a moment, before lightly settling a hand over his stomach, as his eyes met Glory’s, the smile on his face a mix of apologetic and triumphant. “Or, well, looks a good show, Glory, my dear. Just a smidge too late.”
“Oh?” Suddenly, the woman blurred forward, snatching the man’s throat in her grip as she lifted him into the air. “Is that a fact, Dick? Doesn’t seem that way from my point of view.”
“Urk-! Well, isn’t this just a pickle!” The man squirmed about in her grip, his eyes bulging for a moment, before suddenly a look of calm settled on his features, before they suddenly exploded in pain. “But, yes… Too…. LATE!”
And with that final word, his body suddenly exploded inside as his arms vanished, molding into the rest of his body as cold, rough scales suddenly sprouted across his body. He grew, higher and higher, thicker and thicker as his head elongated, jaw dislocating, extending as jagged fangs gleamed in the suddenly dimming sun. As his suddenly baleful, reptilian eyes locked onto the hell god, an eclipse slid into place overhead, and with it, a swarm of vampires suddenly appeared.
“Well, damn.” Xander couldn’t help but exclaim as he stared up at the towering, roaring beast. “Suddenly, I’m starting to wonder if we made the right bet.”
“Too late to take a second guess now!” Buffy noted as she threw off her robes and drew out a crossbow. “All right everybody! You wanted to fight? Well, time to get it done!” And with that, she took aim and with the pull of a trigger, a vampire exploded into a cloud of dust.
All around them, students discarded their robes and withdrew a wide variety of different weapons, ranging from the traditional, more archaic, to the gunmetal gleam of a shotgun or pistol here or there. And then, the air erupted with the howling maelstrom of combat. Screams of pain mingled with the staccato blasts of gunfire, as a the twang of bow and crossbow strings filled the air, accompanied by the whistling hiss of blades parting the air.
Faith and Angel appeared, each from different sides of the growing melee as vampires fought against teenagers, demons and madmen alike, even as those sides did much the same. The insane victims of Glory’s hunger were little more than stumbling cattle, babbling mad nonsense as they tried to latch onto anything they were directed towards. Still, when they swarmed about a figure, babbling, gripping, holding, they made them easy prey, no matter their side.
Amongst the rapidly panicking parents, a few bastions of calm were rising to action. Carefully shielding her youngest daughter behind her, Joyce Summers drew out the small pistol as she carefully took aim at one of the more obvious threats, one of Glory’s demons, lashing out towards frantically dodging students and vampires alike. Finger gently squeezed and in a brief report, the shot rang out and the demon crumpled, blood quickly flowing down its head.
At her side, Giles followed her shot with one of his own, the soft click and twang of his crossbow unnoticed over the din of battle, save by the single vampire that was the recipient of its bolt. A single, momentary realization, before the demon inhabited corpse collapsed into a pile of dust, leaving the student it was about to feast on, letting loose a grateful sigh of relief. At least, until another took its place and the battle began anew.
Faith was a whirlwind as she moved through the vampire ranks, a wild force that left nothing but a whispering touch of dust in her wake. As the closest vampires came to a sudden realization that this was not going to be some easy herding of frightened cattle and began to break ranks, the dark-haired Slayer had her sights set on the demons herding their flock of Glory’s insane leftovers. Almost a blur of motion, she moved, and before they even realized what was happening, a demonic head was already flying courtesy of the machete in Faith’s hand.
The man turned vampire, once known as Liam, as Angelus, as the leader of the Scourge of Europe and as the vampire with a soul, moved with an angry efficiency among what was once his kind. Hard, fast blows, sent younger, almost fledgling vampires flying, distracting others in time for a swift, snap of a stake to leave them as nothing more than dust. Through it all, the man’s eyes would occasionally find themselves drawn, helplessly towards the golden blur of motion, and the dark haired figure fighting at her side.
Buffy held off the vampires, the demons from interfering, as Xander fired off bolt after bolt from his crossbow, cocking it back with a flowing, efficient manner. Loading the heavy, powerful weapon without even seeming to notice the way it yielded so easily to him. Focused instead on the creatures that tried to come at the woman he loved from behind. Threat after threat, he ended before it arrived.
In front of them however, the battle was truly waged.
The Mayor, having already batted away the screaming form of the protesting principal had immediately lunged for Glory, mouth open, wide, gleaming fangs sharp and hungry. Only, the Hell God had rebuffed him, her seemingly dainty arms, striking out, smacking away the newly risen demon enough strength to snap the head to the side and send sparks of pain as his momentum carried his face down to smash into the raised stage. Hissing with rage, the snaked struck out, awkwardly smashing it’s new tail down onto the suddenly crushed structure, the impact throwing Glory a short distance to the ground to land on her ass.
“Oww… Ok, so you managed to push yourself up in the food chain after all, not bad.” Glory admitted as she took a moment to dust herself off then stood up once more. “Good for you even! It was far more annoying to have all those frustrations come from a little cockroach of a human like you.”
Again the snake struck out, snapping its tail down to try and smash her back into the earth, only to have her blur out of the way, swaying slightly as the ground rippled in response. Smirking still, the blonde God looked up at the snake and waggled her finger. “Now, now, Dick! That was just rude! Not even letting a lady finish complimenting you?”
“Well, I do apologize…” The voice echoed in a twisted version of the Mayor’s normal, jovial tone from the snake’s mouth. “But, you are keeping me from my brunch. I am a growing demon… and they do look so… tasty.”
“I know the feeling, I really do, they’ve got such a tasty grip on sanity, that well…” Glory shrugged just a bit, before smirking up at the snake. “Shame just have to end up on opposite sides, I might’ve actually been able to respect you.”
“Well, gosh, you’re just going to make me blush with all this praise!” The snake actually seemed abashed for a moment, while a certain pair of Scoobies took a brief moment to stare.
“Ooook, did the big snake just eye us like you eye twinkies?” Buffy noted as another vampire exploded into dust next to her.
“I think he did.” Xander agreed as he frowned slightly even as he nodded. “I think I should be affronted, what with the stealing of my patented looks and what not.”
“Xan, I don’t think you can patent a look that’s basically just staring and drooling over food.” Buffy shot back with a grin on her face as his crossbow ended another vampire. “Shaggy and Scooby would’ve already done it years ago if you could.”
“Point,” Xander agreed with a reluctant sigh. “Ah well, a guy can dream can’t he?”
“Right.” Buffy bit back a laugh as she sent one of Glory’s demons flying.
“Well, enough of this chatter, it’s getting rather… dull.” Glory shook her head, smirking a bit. “It’s been fun, Dick. Well, somewhat at least, it’s also been really fucking frustra-!”
Whatever else Glory had planned to say, was cut off as the Mayor suddenly lunged down and snapped his mouth over her, trying to either bite her in half or swallow her whole. As the figure vanished behind his teeth, the snake quickly threw back his head, attempting to thrown the woman down his throat, before suddenly freezing. It’s eyes blinking rapidly, those closest to the demon, could hear a strangled sentence hissed out. “Oh… that wasn’t a very good idea.”
Then, suddenly the snake was flailing around, its body, crashing into anything and everything around it. They were wild, spasming movements, shuddering and jerky without even a semblance of control. Then, suddenly its eyes went dead, and its spasms grew into convulsions, still twisting and writhing about. Suddenly, they could see a hand, erupting from the creature’s head, somewhere just between its eyes, as a spray of broken flesh, scales and blood flew through the air with it.
An air of disgusted triumph on her face, Glory pulled herself from the still twitching corpse and glanced down at her ripped and thoroughly stained and fluid slick dress. “Ugh… Just… Dammit all! That’s ANOTHER dress that bastard ruined! I mean, seriously! Doesn’t he have any appreciation for fashion?!”
“Um, Xan?” Buffy spoke up as she carefully knocked away another vampire. “Seeing as how we did apparently bet on the right Big Bad winning, and as she has, well, just pulled herself out of the head of a really fucking big snake….”
“Tactical withdrawal?” Xander offered as he recocked his crossbow.
“I was going to say maybe we should run like hell, but I think I like your way of putting it better.” Buffy agreed as the pair simultaneously began to head towards her mother and sister. “Everybody, time to get the hell outta here!”
“Aw, trying to leave the party early?” Glory spoke up even as she struggled to fully pull herself free from the corpse. “Sorry, I need to beat on something after this, and guess what? You’re elected!”
“Sorry, I think we’re going to have to decline your offer for now.” Xander shot back as he shot another vampire. “Have to wait for the recount you know.”
“Recount?” Buffy asked, a curious expression on her face as she kept knocking Vampire and demon alike out of her path.
“Well, would you trust the count that got us elected for being her punching bag?” Xander shot back as he struggled to reload his crossbow again. “Damn, running out of bolts.”
“Ah.” Buffy nodded sagely back at her boyfriend even as she smirked a bit and smacked away another vampire, “See, this is why I prefer a nice stake, or sword, don’t run out of ammo that way.”
“Oh, hush.” Xander grumbled as they fought their way over to Giles and the remaining Summer’s women. “Time to get up and get out.”
It was then, as the sun was again revealed, as its rays suddenly once more caressed upon the figures of the Summers women, that a certain detective familiar to the Summers women, much to their disgust, came shambling forward, his eyes distant, vague and hollow as he stared this way and that. At least, until Detective Stein’s eyes fell on Dawn and immediately lit up. “The light! The pretty green light! THE LIGHT!”
In an instant, everyone of the Scoobies in hearing distance froze in absolute horror as they watched the cry spring out amongst the madmen, as more and more of them turned their attention onto Dawn, pointing, smiling, bouncing in place. “The light! The Green Light! The pretty light!”
The cries rippled out as the swell of Glory’s victims suddenly converged onto Dawn, forgetting everything else they reached towards her and the light only they could see. Faith struggled, fighting against the shambling group to reach them, as Angel was forced to flee from the sun. Sensing the trouble, the various students still standing, still willing to fight made their way towards the congregation. Behind them, the reason for the madness suddenly smirked a cold, hungry smirk.
The Scoobies fought. Hard, desperately against the rising swell of bodies that seemed to feel no pain, no pause, no hesitance as they swarmed over them. But, one by one, they were buried beneath the bodies, forced to helplessly watch as the swell parted for one, single, lone figure that it would not swallow. A triumphant smirk on her lips, Glory, still slick with gore, blood and other fluids strode up to Dawn and grinned, viciously down at her.
“Well now, go figure… I look high and low for you, but all this time, hiding right under my nose, as one of the insects in fact!” Glory laughed slowly, shaking her head as she strode forward and grabbed hold of Dawn’s arm. “Just seems to be my lucky day then, doesn’t it? I get to put down the cockroach, and find my Key, all at once!”
“Let go of me!” Dawn shrieked, her eyes wide, filled with fear as she struggled back, trying to pull her self free from the woman’s steely grip. “No!”
“Sorry, but you’re coming with me!” Glory shot back, smirking viciously as she glanced down at the group of individuals struggling against the pile of bodies covering them to get up and stop her. “Nice try and all, but hey! Like I told you, in the end, I’m gonna win! Enjoy what’s left of your little lives!”
And with that, Dawn gripped securely Glory cast the group one last smirk, before turning and in a blur, vanished from sight.
“This fucking sucks!” Faith screamed as she slammed her fist into the wall, the thick cinderblock cratering in under the force, as splinters of aggregate flew into the air. “We let little D just.. DAMMIT ALL!”
“Yeah, we know,” Xander said softly as he stood there, shoulder’s slumped while he hugged the blonde Slayer next to him tightly. “ We screwed up. Big time.”
“Screwed up?” Buffy’s voice croaked up as she glared slightly at the man she loved. “Screwed up doesn’t even begin to really cover it and you know it, Xan.”
“Yeah, I know.” Xander looked around the room, where Cordelia was doing her best to comfort Faith, rubbing against the wild teen’s back, where a fearful Willow was curled up against Oz, where Angel sat at the table, staring darkly down at his hands, and where Giles held firmly onto Joyce.
“You knew! All of you… knew!” Joyce spoke up, her eyes red rimmed with tears as she weakly struck against Giles’ chest.
“I didn’t.” Oz offered in a quiet, semi-helpful tone as he looked around the room.
“Me either.” Willow agreed as she clung against Oz.
“We figured the less people knew, the better.” Cordelia spoke up from where she was rubbing against Faith’s back.
“Cordelia knew?!” There was a hint of betrayal in Willow’s voice as she turned her eyes accusingly towards Buffy and Xander.
“Cordelia and Faith were the ones who found out about it.” Xander responded in a weary tone as he continued to cradle Buffy in his arms. “They knew before ANY of the rest of us. Cordelia was the one who told Buffy, Giles and me. Dawn wouldn’t even know if she hadn’t been eavesdropping.”
“Oh.” Willow and Joyce answered simultaneously as the words sunk in.
“I wanted to tell you, Mom, I did…” Buffy spoke up, her voice warbling softly as she clutched against Xander. “It’s just… everything was so complicated… especially considering how the monks made her, and everyone’s memories and…”
“And again, I feel compelled to mention the vast bodily harm I wish to do onto them for messing with my mind.” Xander spoke up, grumbling softly as he held firmly onto the girl in his arms, even as his crack elicited a small smile from her lips.
“Yes, Xan, we know.” Buffy nodded quietly as she gave him a soft squeeze of appreciation before she took a deep breath and glanced meaningfully at Faith.
Smirking slightly back, the dark haired Slayer shot her response with a throaty, forced laugh. “Oh, so NOW you want to tell them about our elicit love child, B?”
“Now, you see, that’s just wrong.” Xander cut in before Buffy could respond, a stern look on his face as he looked at Faith, then down at Buffy. “Having hot and steamy Slayer lovin, and not inviting me to at least watch?”
He winced only slightly at the blow Buffy sent to his arm, even as he grinned unrepentantly back at her while Faith let out a second, far more genuine laugh in return. “Well, I offered, but, B there is wicked greedy.”
“Yes, he’s my Xan-toy, and I’m not sharing.” Buffy shot back, smiling a bit more even as she felt the tears welling up in her eyes. “But… Like I was gonna say….” She took a slow deep breath, before letting it out with a sigh as she continued. “Apparently when they made dawn, they took a little of Slayer A and mixed it with Slayer B… and well…”
“As I told her the first time, ‘Congratulations, you’re the mother of your sister.’” Cordelia offered up helpfully with a slight smirk on her lips. “Along with Faith here.”
“Don’t remind me, princess.” Faith shot back, a slight little smirk on her face as the stunned Joyce stared from Buffy to her. “Don’t worry Mrs. S, B and I never got busy, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“No, I’m just… I…” For a moment, Joyce seemed to be almost conflicted, before she stood up, and quietly pulled free from Giles, and made her way over to Faith, staring at the suddenly nervous brunette for a moment, before enfolding her in a quiet hug.
“Um, Mrs. S…? What the hell…?” Faith spoke up, stiffening quickly in response to the woman’s touch as she looked quickly to Buffy for explanation.
“I think she’s basically saying welcome to the family.” Buffy offered helpfully, as she continued to lean against Xander. “And since I already have one annoying sister, what’s one more?”
“Oh, ha ha.” Faith shot back as she tried to gently push the woman away. “Seriously, Mrs. S…”
“Faith, you’re one of my girls,” Joyce said it simply and softly as she looked firmly down into the girl’s eyes, before looking around the room. “All of you are…” At the sudden incredulous a pair of faces sent her, she chuckled a bit. “Well, except for Rupert and Xander.”
“What about Oz?” Xander offered up, even as he couldn’t help but smirk just a bit.
“Family dog.” The guitarist supplied smoothly as he held gently onto Willow.
As the room broke into a small smattering of laughs, Xander smiled slightly, before he looked into Joyce’s eyes. “We’re going to get her back. I promise.”
“I know… It’s just… I can’t imagine what she’s going through right now.”
“So, what do you think? The blue or the red?” Glory held up each dress in front of an incredulously staring Dawn.
“… You kidnap me, you attack my friends and family, you’re planning to destroy my entire reality and everything I’ve ever known, and you want me to tell you which dress I think looks better on you?!” The youngest Summers asked as she couldn’t help but stare at the creature in front of her.
“Well, yeah, why not?” The Hell God responded with a negligent wave of her hand.
“… The red is you.” Was all the girl could respond as she struggled against the surreal way things unfolded.
“So, I guess we’re about as ready for this as we can be,” Xander said slowly as he glanced around the room. “We sure about the place?”
“Yeah, Willy coughed it up once I let it slip that if Glory succeeded, he and his little business are going to be ripped apart as this dimension is destroyed.” Buffy responded simply as she carefully hefted the heavy mace in her hand. “Faith and I scouted it out. No sign of Glory, but those wrinkly demons and the crazy people were milling around, build up that tower that Giles said they need for the ritual.”
“Then sounds like things are coming to a head…” Xander said simply as he carefully looked over the contents of the case in front of him. “You ready for this?”
“As ready as I ever am.” Buffy agreed before she leaned in, and kissed him softly on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he answered back, kissing her in turn as he smiled softly. “So, how about we get everybody else, and show this Hell bitch why we’re Hellmouth Champs, two years running.”
“Right.” She agreed, hefting up the mace and smirking a bit. “Let’s get it on.”
“Ah… show time!” Glory practically crowed as she grinned down at the fearful looking Dawn who tried to pull away from her. “Don’t worry sweety, just a bit longer and everything will work out just fine.”
“Dying and the end of my world? Sorry, I don’t really consider that to be working out fine.” Dawn shot back as she glared back at the woman even as she struggled angrily against her, before the annoyed Hell God finally tossed her to a pair of her minions.
“Ugh, just go and get her up the tower already.” Glory shook her head, before glancing around her, giving off a slight, reluctant sigh. “Ya know, I’m almost going to miss this place. Where am I going to find dresses like these back home?”
“Well, seeing as how that’s not something you really need to worry about…” An annoyingly familiar voice rang out, before Glory watched a familiar looking cylindrical metal object bounce in front of her.
“Oh, you gotta be…” Whatever else she might’ve said was cut off in a sudden explosion of light and noise as the Hell God immediately clapped her hands over her ears as she screamed in frustration. “Ya know, I really, really hate those things! Don’t you know any other tricks!?”
“How about this one?” A bright voice offered up as a spherical object floated up in front of Glory, before a pin at its top was pulled out and a hinge popped free.
“Huh, what does that…”
The concussion grenade exploded with a sudden boom, blasting the fallen God back into a nearby wall as she screamed, more in anger and frustration than pain. “WHY YOU LITTLE!”
“Don’t forget this!” Another voice called out, as suddenly the still unsteady Glorificus took an RPG directly to the sternum. The wall she was pressed against buckled backwards then came crashing down on the figure of a woman, as she let off another, startled, angry shriek, before pulling herself from the rubble, just in time for the second RPG to slam her back down.
When she arose for the second time, she moved quickly to the side, rolling away from an anticipated third blast that never came. Instead, as she tried to push herself to her feet, the cheerful voice of a blonde Slayer spoke up. “Batter up!”
The Heavy mace slammed into her face, knocking her back, stunning her slightly before another, similar blow struck her in the back of her head as Faith appeared behind her, knocking her straight into a third mace, rising up from Angel. They batted her back and forth, using heavy, two handed blows with as much power as they could muster to keep her flying, keep her off balance as Cordelia, Giles and Oz struggled to get to the tower and rescue Dawn. As the two three man teams struggled towards their destinations, Glory finally seemed to catch a momentary opening, as she suddenly threw a wild punch, that none the lest connected and sent Faith flying.
Glancing at one another in silent communication, Angel and Buffy took the moment to slam both their maces into the Hell God’s chest sending her back into another wall with a heavy impact. Then, the pair immediately dove out of the way, leaving a confused and battered Hell God to manage a single, wondering statement. “What the fu-…!”
A single, wondering statement, cut off by the sudden impact of a 5 ton wrecking ball smashing into her body and pinning her in the wall.
“Buffy!” Xander’s voice rang out as he popped up from the crane’s controls. “Dawn!”
Following Xander’s motion the blonde Slayer’s eyes widened in shock as she saw her friends and mentor struggling to reach the demon holding Dawn with a wicked knife in his hand. “ON IT!”
Moving faster than she ever remembered moving before, Buffy was through the demons between her friends and her sister, their grey, wrinkled bodies almost flying through the air as she raced towards her sister. Still, she could only watch in horror, even as the demon’s head caved in beneath her mace as a single drop of blood fell from her sister’s stomach. A single drop that was apparently more than enough to do it’s work.
Below them, Xander was moving towards the tower when he could literally FEEL the way the dimensions seem to suddenly shudder while the first pulsing glow of the rift began to form. Glancing up, he stared in worry to where he saw Dawn move towards the edge, only to be grabbed by Buffy as she spoke words he couldn’t hear.
“I have to do this, Buffy!” Dawn had tears streaking down her face. “It’ll keep going until I stop bleeding! Slayer’s blood and a Life can stop it… I have both! Just… Just let me go!”
“No.” Buffy’s voice held a calm that Dawn had never heard in it before as the blonde gave her sister a small sad smile and pulled her gently, firmly away from the edge. “We promised Mom we’d get you back.”
“Buffy, you did your best, you can save the world… just let me go!” Dawn was practically sobbing now as she lightly struck Buffy’s chest. “There’s no other option.”
“Yes, there is.” The blonde responded with a voice still in that calm warmth as she lightly stroked her fingers through her sister’s hair. “Slayer blood and a life, you’re not the only one that has them.”
“Wha… NO!” Dawn immediately broke out into her struggles as Buffy pushed her gently backwards, until she felt a pair of cool, strong arms taking hold of her, looking up to see Angel, holding her, tears in his eyes as he stared at the serene smile on Buffy’s face. “Angel! Stop her! She’s going to….!”
“I know.” Angel’s voice was quietly resigned as he stared at Buffy, the sorrow heavy in the air around him.
“Look out after our family, little sister. Be a kid, grow up, have the life I couldn’t.” Buffy spoke in that simple way as she stepped back to the edge. “And tell Xander… I’m sorry we couldn’t have the life we wanted, and that I love him.”
And with that, she fell back, her arms spread wide, a calm look of acceptance on her face as she felt the tingling pulse of energy wrapping around her, a momentary flash of blinding pain, then a sudden calm, as she floated away.
He stared down at the lifeless body broken and crumpled there before him. Caught in a mute, numbed shock that rippled through his body, pulsing beneath his skin. Buffy's lifeless eyes looked back at him, and he could see nothing of the friend he'd come to cherish in them. She was gone, completely, utterly gone.
This time, he hadn't been able to save her. And as he stared, the numbness faded, into a boiling white hot sensation of rage and grief as he reared back his head and let loose a primal scream of raw emotion. Around him, a shuddering groan could be heard, metal twisting, bending back, shrieking as weaker bits tore and sheared apart. The dust beginning to rise, the air, suddenly charged with something.
Somewhere in the distance he was aware of a voice speaking with a hiss of annoyance. “Aw man! How am I supposed to get home now?! I guess I'm just going to have to kill all you losers...”
Xander's head snapped to the side, as wet, black eyes locked onto the stumbling, bleeding form of the hell goddess Glorificus. Slowly he rose up his body moving with a steady, feral grace as his fingers curled back into his palms. All around them, lights began to explode or gutter out, falling silent and still as power ripped through them. A snarl bursting onto his lips, his eyes met her own, and the look in them sent a ripple of confusion through her.
“Huh? What, you think you can do anything to me now that one of your Slayers are dead?” She snorted softly. “Your girls and pet vampire did some damage, yeah, and that ball too. But now, only one Slayer, and you're not where you can use that thing now are you?”
“I don't care if you're a God.” His voice thick with his emotions, Xander gestured towards the crane, his eyes never leaving Glory's as the entire device, and everything metallic around it shuddered and strained. “She's dead because of you.”
“Blah, blah, blah!” Glory flapped her fingers and thumb, before snapping back as she gestured down at her body. “I mean, you little insects ruined my dress! I mean, seriously! I'm gonna make it hurt just for that! What makes you think you could possibly even hurt me now, you stupid little boy?”
“This.” And with that, his arm slashed across his chest, and instantly the wrecking ball snapped off the crane's tether, smashing into Glory's body, driving the goddess from her feet.
“What the FUCK?!” Glory's eyes were widened in shock, numb for a moment as she stared incredulously at the young man staring at her with hatred and wrath in his eyes, staring at him before the pain suddenly made itself violently known to her. “AAAARRRGH! You... You... HURT ME!!!”
“I'm going to do more than that, bitch.” His hand cut down violently with his words, as the ball slammed down again, crushing the goddess' legs, and over her second scream, she could hear the words burning past his lips. “You're going to die Glory. Tonight, the reign of The Beast, ends.”
“My legs... What, what the fuck are you?!” Glory was staring to feel something seeping past the anger, the rage through the cracks in her confidence, something alien, cold, gripping at her hear. As she looked into those cold black eyes, for the first time in her existence, Glorificus knew fear. “No mortal has that kind of power!”
She was scrambling back now, her eyes darting between the figure standing there, staring back down into her eyes, and the massive metal sphere rapidly rising up above as his voice softly reached her ears, “This... Is what I never wanted to have. What I never wanted unleashed. Because, I knew the price I'd have to pay for it. Come now, Goddess of Hell, and taste the fate you have wrought upon yourself.”
And again, the ball slammed down on her. Over and over again it struck her. Bludgeoning her limbs, smashing her body, shattering the bones of her powerful form as he stared coldly at her. Watching as she spit out teeth and blood from her shattered mouth.
“P-p-please... please... d-don't... pl...ease... S-st-stop...” She was whimpering now, her eyes glazed with pain as above her the metal sphere that had once been a wrecking ball began to shift and contort.
“'You, who were without mercy, now plead for it?'” The words came unbidden to Xander's lips, his eyes narrowed as he watched her try to struggle away. “No, I don't think so.”
The sphere composed of several tons of iron suddenly twisted, elongating and extending shifting into a new form under Xander’s guidance. A giant metal spike, hovered in the air now above the goddess, its tip, gleaming against light of the heavens above, rose up with increasing speed. Glory's eyes, followed it, the fear, growing into panic as she struggled to pull herself away. Her broken limbs flailing as she struggled against the broken, shattered earth. But it did nothing to help her escape.
“NO!” The word was gurgled out, panicked terror consuming her as she stared at where the spike had disappeared from sight. “You can't do this!”
“Watch me.” The words left his lips as he flicked his fingers down.
Thousands of feet above them, the spike halted its ascend, then suddenly began to accelerate back towards the earth. Gravity worked with the driving force, guiding it, pushing it faster, faster. The metal slowly glowing with heat from the friction, in a way, purifying it with the fires of the Heavens. Faster and faster as Glory could see it, filling her vision as it shot down at her waiting body.
“Die.” the words hissed past his lips as the red hot spike, bound into its shape, into its form by his will, his power, drove itself through the Hell Goddess' body and struck the earth with a sundering impact.
All around them, the earth shook, a shock wave rippling outwards from the point. Later, it would be registered as a small earthquake, the impact shuddering through the area, noticed for a moment, before quickly forgotten. As was the sudden explosion of light and power that accompanied it an instant later.
As the dust, settled around them, the rest of the Scoobies slowly recovered, staring at the scene in front of them. Dawn clung to Angel, her eyes filled with tears, begging to be shed as she looked from the broken body of her sister to the small crater, the massive spike of iron still jutting out of. Nodding with a look of grim satisfaction on her face, she turned, and buried her head against Angel's chest, quickly breaking down into wracking sobs as the vampire slowly stroked through her hair.
Angel himself, looked at the broken body of the Slayer whom had managed to earn the souled demon's love, then followed Dawn's gaze. Only, his fell, not on the resting place of the fallen goddess, but on her killer. When the boy, no, when that Man turned his head and caught the vampire's eyes with his own, Angel nodded his head in quiet respect, the tears welling in his own eyes as he held Dawn close.
Giles walked forward, a look of grim, haunted satisfaction on his face as he watched how Xander turned, and walked back towards Buffy's body. As he watched the young man he'd seen grow from a boy to a man reach down, and cradle the lifeless, broken body of his Slayer. No, not his Slayer, the girl who was practically a daughter to him, he realized as he could feel the weight of age press down on his shoulders. Turning his head, he could feel Faith, the One Slayer now, almost collapse against him as Cordelia stared behind them, unable to believe what she saw.
Somehow, he'd never thought this would have been possible. He'd always hoped, given how she'd struggled, how she'd prevailed, that she'd some how live a long, fulfilling life. To see that hope, broken and shattered before him, was more than he knew how to handle as he could feel the tears running freely down his cheeks.
As Xander stood, Willow collapsed against Oz, sobbing as she buried her head against her boyfriend's chest. The tears, hot as the streaked against the boy's skin as a slow, steady hand stroked through red hair. Tears decorated the werewolf's own eyes as the pure, raw emotions rippling Xander's body, the intensity of the love, the grief, and the agony that rippled through his body.
Finally, as the tears streaked down his face, Xander turned and looked to those around him, the limp, cooling blonde body cradled so carefully against his chest as his voice spoke up, raw and thick with emotion. “Come on... Let’s get her home.”
One by one the group nodded, and in a quiet unison, they gathered around the young man, as he lead them away from the ragged remains of the construction site. Away from the broken bleeding corpse that was slowly fading away into nothing. Away, and onwards to an uncertain future that they all knew would be lacking something oh so very special.
Slowly he looked down at the tombstone, a life summarized by a couple of dates and a few short words. His fingers, slowly trailed over its edge, stroking, caressing the cool stone as he laid a dozen roses at its foot. A thickness held his throat, words sticking in his body, refusing for the moment to leave past his lips, before finally he managed to force the words out.
“Hey, Buff.” The tears were slowly falling down his cheeks again, as he slowly, gently caressed the edge of the tombstone. “I still miss you, so much. Things... Sunnydale, just isn't the same without you. The world isn't the same.”
He slowly sat down next to the tombstone, leaning against it quietly. “I can't stay here anymore Buff. This place... Without you... I can't stand it anymore.”
Again, he paused, slowly closing his eyes. “Remember that job offer I got? The one I laughed off? I'm gonna give them a call. I'm gonna take that road trip... I'm gonna get the hell out of her.” The tears fell down his cheeks, before he slowly, quietly whispered. “I wish I could have taken you with me. Away from this madness... Away from all the pain.”
Slowly his dark eyes opened, as he stared up at the clear sky overhead. “But, you're away from it now, aren't you?” The tears fell back curling down from the corners of his eyes as he stared at the clear, blue sky. “That's something at least.”
He lay there, leaning against that tombstone for a moment, before he slowly, stood up, glancing back down at her resting place one last time. “Rest well Buff... You earned it. See you when I see you.”
And with that, Alexander Harris turned and walked away, a strong slow breeze rippling against his skin, as he slid into his waiting car, and quietly drove off, leaving the town, and its hellmouth behind him.
And, done. Wow, finally. I had originally planned to finish this back in October, but Writer’s block prevented me. Now… It’s finally finished.
I do have possible plans for a sequel, as well as a one shot interlude, hence why this is in a series… We’ll see if I decide to make it happen still or not.
I wrote this ending originally around chapter 4 or so. So, I've known how it was going to end for a while. I just hate giving spoilers. Heh
Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.