Link Here:

C Box:

Author's Note: This is a rewrite of Intervention, with dialogue taken from the original episode, and changes to fit with my canon of events. I have tried to keep how this season will end as mysterious as possible, but I can imagine that some of you have guessed what I have in mind regarding Elita and Buffy. Enjoy.

Enlightenment.

Ever since she had discovered the exact nature of her origins, Elita found herself regressing in maturity. At every turn she had rebelled against her greatest enemy; Glory, against her closest allies; Buffy and the other slayerettes, becoming the embodiment of a typical teenager. The hardest battle, she realised all the while fighting them, lay within herself; struggling to accept the evidence which damned her to her a fearfully uncertain future, either one determined by her actions alone, or more likely, in the power of Glory.

For weeks she refused to accept the truth, as if her resistance protected her self-determination, her free will to affect her own future fate. Only now she accepted such resistance as futile. This was no dream which she would wake from with memories of her past, her family, her friends. She had no knowledge of them because they had never existed.

Before these months in Sunnydale she was a ball of energy, no fixed form, no thoughts, no awareness. Just an existence, fully dependent on and determined by others. A monastery of monks her parents, who made her flesh in or to protect her, not anticipating that the god they were hiding her from would follow her to Sunnydale.

With this acceptance came many questions, one of which always lay at the forefront of her mind; what would happen to her after Glory was either defeated or victorious. Would she be returned to her previous form of existence or would she remain as she was, a human being. Humanity, as she understood from Angel and Spike, was a sacred thing, something which was earned, not given away to any one who asked for it.

Such a state was also what Glory had been exiled into, and the form for the vampire slayer, werewolves, witches, and vampires who lived within the world. In short, humanity was a mass of contradictions, equally confusing for those who were given life in the natural way, as well as herself.

Ultimately, it was a step in evolution, a plane of existence, a link in a natural chain which one did not suddenly create, nor skip a few stages. She could not go from energy to humanity without consequences, of that much she was certain. There would be a price to pay for her unnatural existence, whatever happened to Glory.

Awareness, knowledge, enlightenment. These were all the same things to Elita, they held the same meanings for her. It was through them she gained understanding of her origins, acceptance of her uncertain end. She had reached this conclusion earlier than most mortals, another piece of evidence pertaining to her difference from them.

Few humans, she discovered, ever realised these ideals which they strove to attain all their lives. Their existence was a constant journey of discovery, to find what was missing; the inalienable truths of life. She had found these out, but with one difference. She still felt empty and unfulfilled. She still felt that she had no place in this world. And she wondered if this was a sign as to the nature of her eventual, inevitable, end.


"He's getting stronger," the voice murmured, its tone wistful, despairing. "I'm losing him," the owner of the dulcet tones realised. "I'm losing control of him."

The recently healed Jinx, defacto head of lackeys, dwarflike monks sworn to serve their mistress until death, now looked up at his, oh so divine, so beautiful deity, she that is Glorificus.

"You're speaking of Ben, most glamorous yet tasteful one?" He hazard astutely.

"He stabbed you in your body," Glory replied, as if that proved her point of her current resigned judgement concerning her dual existence.

"Jinx is all right, your highness," another one of the dwarflike monks assured her humbly. "And we do have the new knowledge that the key is a human being."

Glory sighed as she rose from her sofa to pace the floor; a manner which she thought would help calm her agitated mind, but which in fact only increased the tension within herself. "If time runs out on us and all we're left with is info? Then we're screwed."

"Oh, surely not!" Jinx cried, almost terrified at the mere thought of it.

"No, we're screwed!" Glory asserted, returning to her sofa.

"But you are a god," the lackey reminded her incredulous at the idea that his mistress did not possess infinite knowledge. "The sacred Glorificus!"

"I'm a god in exile," Glory corrected. "Far from the hell fires of home and ... sharing my body with an enemy that stabs my boys in their fleshy little stomachs." she clutched her head as if the pain which Jinx now felt in his recently healed flesh, was mysteriously transplanted into her own. "Ugh! I'm in pain."

"How can we help?" Jinx asked, for her pain was always greater in comparison to his own. "We'll lay down our lives," he vowed.

Glory frowned thoughtfully, then rose from the sofa once more. "The Slayer and the key are connected," she concluded. "She's going to have contact with it. Find out who's new in her life, who's ... special, who's different. Watch her."

"We can do that, O ... thou," the dwarflike monk and lackey had run out of accolades worthy of addressing the deity he served by.

"I want to hear about everyone she has contact with!" Glory cried. "That girl has my key and I'm trusting you boys to get it for me." Her last plea, was always that of gods who realise the power they have over those who serve them unquestioning. "If you love me get it for me."

The dwarflike monks smiled happily at their god's great plan, prostrating their bodies before her, then rising from the floor of the apartment to be about her quest for awareness, knowledge, enlightenment.


"She's getting stronger, Giles," Buffy remarked to her watcher that morning after Mythology class.

Preoccupied with filing away the latest assignments into his briefcase, Giles looked up in brief confusion. "Who?"

The slayer glanced around the room at the last remnants of students, making sure all were out of hearing distance before she replied. "Glory."

"But we haven't seen her since Willow's spell," Giles reminded her in a lowered tone, mindful of his still exiting class.

"That's my point," Buffy continued, matching his tone. "She's a god, she must be better by now."

"A god trapped in the confines of a mortal body," Giles reminded her. "Exiled from her dimension, and sustained only by feeding on human brain."

"I know, that's why I checked the hospital ward this morning," Buffy replied. "Admittance is on the rise again in the mental ward."

"Oh," Giles inhaled feelingly. "What do you want to do?"

"I need to step up my training," Buffy replied.

"Buffy, I hate to put a damper on your enthusiasm in that area," Giles began, "but anymore physical workouts, and I'll have to start cancelling my lecture courses."

"I don't mean the physical side of things," Buffy replied, "I mean the spiritual things, the mental things."

"Such as?" Giles asked her, curiously.

"You know I've been taking the slayer diaries home recently," Buffy continued. "I read in one of them about a quest for enlightenment."

"That quest?" Giles queried, thoughtfully, receiving a silent nod in reply. "It would mean some time away from the hellmouth. And Elita."

"We could take her with us," Buffy proposed.

"Yes, that would best," Giles agreed. "If you're sure."

"Will it give me answers?" Buffy asked him.

Giles met her gaze. "They might not be the answers you wish for," he warned her.

"Better than no answers at all," Buffy replied. "I'll meet you at the mansion after college," she added, before exiting the lecture hall.


"I don't know, luv," Spike remarked from his place on the sofa, watching as the slayer wandered around the double height living room, packing supplies into her rucksack. "A quest in the middle of the desert sounds like a euphemism for something kinky."

"I'm not asking for your blessing, Spike," Buffy snapped. "I'm asking if you and Angel can look after things for a couple of days."

"And we can," Angel assured her, rising from his seat to stand before her, halting her concerned pacing about the lounge. "Don't worry, honey," he added softly, taking her hand. "You'll have her with you, after all."

"I know," Buffy sighed, clasping his hand in return. "Promise you will all take care of yourselves, okay?"

"We will, pet," Spike replied, seriously. "Glory won't touch any of us. Not if we can help it."

There was a knock on the door, just as Elita ran down the final flight of stairs into the room. "I'll get it."

Angel clutched her face, his dark eyes gazing into her own. "I love you," he uttered softly.

"I love you too," Buffy replied, kissing him briefly before heading to the door.

Her boyfriend and houseguest followed herself and Elita outside to deliver a final farewell to the girls and Giles, before they climbed into the latter's vehicle. Silently they watched him reversed out of the Mansion driveway and down the road to the hellmouth limits, before returning to the house to prepare for the night's patrol of Sunnydale.

In the darkness, they were followed by dwarflike creatures.


"This isn't gonna turn out to be a surprise stash the key away in a secret hideout in the desert trip is it?" Elita asked as Giles' car turned off the highway.

"You've been watching too many X Files," Buffy remarked.

"Don't you trust Angel and Spike and the others to protect me?" Elita persisted.

"I trust them with your life," Buffy replied, turning from the window to look at the young girl. "And with mine. But I was asked to protect you, not them. I can't leave you in the hellmouth while I'll go on quest which may or may not turn out to be a waste of time."

"I'm sorry I've been off, lately," Elita apologised. "To be honest, I don't really remember much of my life before you rescued me from Harmony and her minions."

"You don't?" Buffy queried, surprised.

"I don't think I had one," Elita added. "Then when I found out about being the key, I realised I didn't belong here at all. And that terrified me."

"I think I can understand that," Buffy rejoined. "When I was first called, I felt incredibly alone. I constantly rebelled against being the slayer. I thought if I accept my destiny, even for a moment, I would lose myself. I'd become this other person, someone who I didn't know. I was freaked."

"Well, just imagine if you can't remember your life before this," Elita said. "That's what I've been feeling ever since I learned who I really was." She paused, suddenly looking worried. "Buffy, say you defeat Glory, what will happen to me?"

"I don't know," Buffy replied, surprised the thought had not occurred to her before. "Perhaps you will revert to what it was before you were human."

"A ball of luminous energy," Elita murmured. "Or at least that's what I read from Giles' notes. But what if I don't?"

"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.

"The monks who made me human all died, right?" Elita sought to confirm, waiting for Buffy to nod before she added, "and Glory said she was so close to them, before I disappeared, that she killed them all. What if they didn't have time to give me the power to revert? What if I'm human forever? What will I do then?"

"We're here," Giles announced, before the slayer had time to answer. He brought the vehicle to a stop so they could exit.

Buffy did not know how to answer Elita's question, so she was grateful that they had arrived at their destination. Silently she took in her surroundings as they climbed out of the car on to the thousand grains of compacted sand. From every view point the desert lay before them, ready to be crossed. No lights from the nearby villages, towns, cities, even the highway could be seen, leaving the land visible only as a result of the sunlight, which was soon to fade into the darkness of the night.

No man's land, Buffy thought to herself, unable to prevent an inward shiver from taking hold of her. From the few slayers who had written about the quest, she had drawn mysterious, yet attractive feelings, above all, a belief that finally she would receive all the answers she needed concerning Elita, and how to defeat Glory. Now, as she stared at this desolate landscape stretched out before her, she wondered if that would be true.

Well, there was only one way to find out, she resolved. Shaking her concerns away, she joined Elita and her watcher by the rear of the convertible.

"What's in the trunk?" She asked.

"Supplies," Giles replied simply.

"Supplies?" Elita echoed.

Buffy nodded in understanding. "I was wondering about that," she confessed. "Like, food, water, maybe a compass?"

Giles straightened up. "What about a book, a gourd, and a bunch of twigs?" He countered.

"I don't think I'll be that hungry," Buffy quipped.

"They're for me," Giles informed them. "Come on, this way," he added, leading them into the sands.

"So, how far from civilisation do we need to be?" Elita asked, gazing around at the seemingly endless desolate landscape which surrounded them.

"Oh, we're only two hours from the hellmouth," Giles informed them.

"So what do the book, gourd and bunch of twigs make when you put them together?" Buffy asked. "Do you have a 'here's one I prepared earlier?'"

"The location of the sacred place where the quest is contained, is a guarded secret, I can't take you there myself," Giles revealed. "I'll have to perform a ritual to transfer my guardianship of you, temporarily, to, to a guide." He came to halt as he took in their current surroundings.

"This'll do," he decided, before he began to prepare for the ritual.

"A guide but no food or water," Elita remarked. "So it leads Buffy to the sacred place, and then a week later it leads you to her bleached bones?"

"Elita, please," Giles returned, mildly exasperated at her ignorance. "It takes more than a week to bleach bones."

"Like that's any comfort," Elita murmured.

"So, how's it start?" Buffy asked Giles as he finished laying the twigs of wood in a circle around himself.

Her watcher looked faintly embarrassed. "I, uh, jump out of the circle and then jump back in it, and then, um ... I shake my gourd."

Buffy smiled. "I know this ritual! The ancient shamans were next called upon to do the hokey-pokey and turn themselves around."

Giles frowned at the girls as Elita chuckled. "Go quest."

Buffy smiled, then began to walk away, leaving Elita along with her watcher. The girl watched, amused as Giles jumped into the circle twigs, leapt back out, then shook the gourd.

"And that's what it's all about," Elita quipped. "Giles, do you think this would work for me?" She asked.

"Elita, you're not a slayer," Giles reminded her.

"I know," the young girl replied. "What I mean is, do you have a similar ritual which could work for me? I need enlightenment just as much as Buffy does."

The watcher fell into silence and inactivity as he pondered the possibility. "The required wording is fairly non-specific," he concluded. "If you wish to, it could be possible that this would work for you as well as Buffy."

"Could I do it now?" Elita asked. "Or do I need to wait for her to return?"

"I see no reason for not running them in unison," Giles replied. "Go."

"Thank you," Elita replied before walking away.


"So Buffy left you in charge?" Anya queried as she returned an item to a shelf in the Magic Box Shop.

"Well, me and Angel," Spike replied. "Patrolling with my sire, it's almost like old times. Glad Dru or Darla aren't here, then I'd be really freaked out."

"Does that mean I get overtime?" Anya asked hopefully.

Her boss frowned. "What's the sudden concern with your wages?" He asked. "I pay you enough as it is."

"Not enough to cover college and rent," Anya replied. "Or utilities."

"I thought you were spending most of your time with Xander?" Spike sought to confirm. "Why don't you move in with him?"

"Because moving in with someone is a deep commitment," Anya replied. "I'm not sure Xander's ready for that."

"He was ready to buy the Bronze to help Cordelia get into college," Spike returned. "And he brought the apartment because you loved the place."

"True," Anya agreed, remembering. "Isn't he supposed to ask me though?"

"You're a working twenty-first century woman, Anya," Spike pointed out. "You can ask him."

"Alright," the vengeance demon agreed. "I will." She tossed Spike the keys to the shop, grabbed her purse and coat, and headed past him, hitting the door before he realised her intentions.

"Don't worry," he called out sarcastically to the swinging door, "I'll finish your shift. Former vengeance demons," he muttered, walking to the till area, "can't employ them without them driving you insane."

Outside a cloaked lackey watched him feverishly, searching for the one moment which might reveal him to be a key.


In the desert, the slayer wandered across the sand, waiting for a sign which would mean the quest had begun. She could hear the faint echo of Giles' voice, chanting a language she could not identify; the words akin to the ancient chants of Native Americans, invoking the holy ones. The echo was vaguely hypnotic; yet strangely calming. Somehow the sound drifted through the landscape around her, moving out to the places beyond her vision, as though it was just as much a part of this world as the nature before her.

Suddenly she heard a growling noise, deep and guttural, causing her to halt. Turning to her left, she saw a mountain lion sitting on the sand, his dark brown eyes staring back at her, as if he had been awaiting her arrival.

"Hello, kitty," Buffy uttered in greeting, keeping her tone nonthreatening as not to disturb the animal into running or attacking.

As though he understood her, the creature rose from the ground, walking away, his tail flicking back and forth, as if a silent request to follow.

Buffy obeyed. She trailed the lion through the sands, until they walked through a small rock ridged path, entering in a clearing of low land-lying bushes and flint.

"I know this place," she murmured, remembering from almost a year ago, when the first slayer haunted her dreams.

Silently, she sat down on a large rock, and waited for her guide to arrive, trying to clear her mind of stray thoughts concerning her friends and soulmate, her family, her life. All but the questions she needed answering, eliminating the endless speculation within her mind, which so far had brought no result. Nothing should cloud her judgement now, not one part of her mind which had the power to influence her thoughts concerning the answers she would receive.

Only a hope remained. That the answer she was to soon receive, would solve her present puzzlement over Glory and Elita. That it would give her the key to defeating the one, whilst saving the other.

Even if it was not the answer she might have wished for.


"Willow," a student called out, making the red head turn round in the midst of exiting the lecture hall building.

"Micah," she returned. "What's up?"

"Can I borrow your notes?" He asked. "I typed mine up last night, but my laptop crashed, and I threw the originals away."

"Sure," Willow replied, retrieving her notebook from her bag. "It's got last week's notes too. Just get it back to me by Thursday."

"Of course," Micah promised.

"And, uh, don't write in it or, or, uh, put a coffee mug down on it, or anything," Willow added. "And, and, just don't spill. Okay. Oh, oh, and don't fold the page corners down."

"They'll be pristine," he promised her. "See ya tomorrow."

"You too," Willow returned. She reached the decorative pillars of the building, smiling at her boyfriend as Oz emerged from behind one to walk her back to their shared flat with Cordelia.

From behind another pillar, another lackey emerged, trailing the couple, waiting for a sign that one of these were who they were searching for.


Elita wondered the desert in the opposite direction to the slayer, but possessing the same hope within her mind. Like Buffy she could hear the words of Giles' chanting, echoing across the desert plains, rumbling in harmony with the sounds of the nature surrounding her. The echo was equally vaguely hypnotic to her, calming too. Already she felt more hopeful concerning the uncertainty of her future, in comparison to the pessimism which had haunted her previously.

Suddenly she heard a growling, the noise deep and guttural, causing her to halt mid-step. Turning, she saw a bear, the living symbol which blazoned the Californian flag, staring at her, standing no more than a few yards away.

"Hello," she uttered, taking care to keep her tone soft and nonthreatening. "If you are the sign which was foretold to me, lead the way to the place where my quest will begin."

As if the animal understood her, the bear turned eastward, walking away from the setting sun, delivering a final brief glance over his shoulder, a clear indication to follow.

Elita obeyed, placing her feet in his large footprints, tailing his powerful form as he led her through the desert, until they crossed a path lined with rocks, leading to a clearing of low land-lying bushes and flint.

The bear sat down, his manner conveying to her a silent command to copy. She obeyed, taking a perch on one of the larger pieces of flint.

Watching the creature, Elita saw his pupils drift from her to the sands between them, another silent request. Again she obeyed, fixing her gaze upon the compacted sand, clearing her mind of all her endless speculation concerning her life and her fate, focusing only on the questions she desired to be answered. She ignored her natural curiosity concerning what the slayer was facing, whether it bore any comparison to the scene before herself.

If she had been able to turn round, possess a vision powerful enough to travel the distance between them, she would have seen the young woman known as the slayer awake from the slight doze she had slipped into, waiting for her ancestor to appear. She would have seen her wake to a sudden sound, to find a fire burning before her.

And the primitive waiting her first question.

 


"I know you're in charge of patrolling while Buffy's away, so do you think you could stay away from here?" Xander asked.

"Why?" Angel queried as the slayerettes sought their usual seating area in the Bronze, away from the crowded dancefloor.

"Because the last time everyone was in here the club got trashed by a robot," Xander reminded him. "And before that, a giant troll."

"We didn't build the robot," Angel protested.

"That troll weren't our fault, either, mate," Spike pointed out, "it was an ex' of your girlfriend's."

"Which brings me to my next rant," Xander added. "You told her to ask me to move in with me?"

"That I did," Spike grinned. "Just consider it my good deed for the year."

"Thanks so much," Xander rejoined sarcastically.

"My pleasure," Spike looked at him with a frown. "I thought you wanted her to move in with you."

"I do," Xander confessed. "But after this was over. I hadn't planned on asking until Glory was destroyed."

"You can't put things on hold until then," Angel remarked. "Glory's a god, remember? Some of us might not survive the future."

"You and Spike will," Xander argued. "You're not human like the rest of us, susceptible to wounds and such."

"We not entirely immortal," Angel disagreed quietly as Spike shook his head in accordance. "We can be still be killed just as easily you."

"Gentlemen!" A voice cried, causing them to turn round, as the doors of the nightclub opened to reveal a contingent of robed dwarflike monastic demons. "I'm so sorry to intrude, but I wondered if I might beg a moment of your time?"

"Oh great," Xander groaned. "Er, people, the Bronze is closing, unexpectedly early," he shouted as the music abruptly stopped due to the fearsome sight of the new arrivals. Scared, the clubbers turned to the manger and owner, who continued to give them guidance they needed. "Please leave by the backstage exits, preferably without wrecking the place."

"Friends of yours?" Spike asked him.

The demon who had begun proceedings most courteously, now punched the owner of the nightclub in the stomach, causing the rest of the slayerettes to rush from the crowd of exiting people to where the inevitable battle was about to commence.

"Guess not," Spike remarked before launching himself into the fight.

Despite there being as many slayerettes as there were demons, the latter were more powerful than their small size conveyed, causing the gang to slowly fall back towards the exits, deciding that retreat to live for tomorrow was the better part of valour.

Then suddenly the demons seized one of them, and everything changed.

"Tie his hands!" One demon ordered. "Glory will want him restrained."

"Let me go!" Spike cried as he struggled to break free.

"Spike," Tara cried in concern.

"Careful with him," the demon advised. "She will want the key intact."

"Key? Who's a key? I'm not the-" Spike's yells were muffled as one of the demons stuffed a cloth into his mouth.

Angel, having been felled by one of the demons, rose from his feet in time to see said monastic robed villains dragging his grandchilde out of the nightclub.

He cast a glance at the rest of the Scooby gang, struggling to rise from the floor, groaning and grunting from injuries received.

"We need Buffy," he realised, wondering how she faring in her own battle.


"I know you," his soulmate spoke two hours away, to her companion by the fire. "You're the first Slayer."

"This is a form," the primitive replied. "I am the guide."

"I have a few questions about being the Slayer," Buffy began nervously. "Will you answer them?"

"That is what I am here for," the first slayer replied.

"My current foe is a hell god," Buffy said. "How do I defeat her?"

"I cannot foresee the future," her ancestor replied. "That is dependent on your will, free and unmanageable from outside powers."

"Okay," Buffy murmured, realising this was going to be harder than she thought. "What about the sacrifice the god demands. Should evil be granted that gift?"

"You think because you can imagine giving up the key, that you're losing the ability to care for humanity," the first slayer remarked. "You're afraid that being the Slayer means losing your humanity."

"Does it?" Buffy asked.

"You are full of love," the primitive replied. "Which is the essence of humanity. You love with all of your soul. It is brighter than the fire, blinding and overwhelming. That's why you pull away from it."

"I'm full of love?" Buffy queried, confused. "Why do I pull away from it? How is that an answer?"

"Emotions are what make you human," the primitive replied. "Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love, give, forgive. Risk the pain. It is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift."

"What? Love will lead me to my gift?" Buffy sought to confirm.

"Yes," her ancestor replied.

"I'm getting a gift?" Buffy tried. "Or, or do you mean that, that I have a gift to give to someone else?"

"Death is your gift," the first slayer uttered.

"Death ..." Buffy echoed.

"Is your gift," her ancestor repeated.

"Okay, no," Buffy objected. "Death is not a gift. I know this. If I have to kill demons because it makes the world a better place, then I kill demons, but it's not a gift to anybody."

"Your question has been answered," the first slayer replied, before fading away.

The fire disappeared before her, leaving Buffy in confusion.


Glory looked up from her magazine as her collection of lackeys burst through the door, carrying a prisoner. "What the hell is that, and why is his hair that colour?"

"Stunning one, we believe he is..." the minion paused before they all answered her simultaneously. "The key!"

"Really?" Glory cried, her anger forgotten. "That's fantabulous!" she stepped forward, to observe the prisoner. Barely a moment later she frowned. "And impossible. He can't be the key, because, see, the key ... has to be pure."

She walked around the prison, sniffing his scent. "This is a vampire. Lesson number one, vampires equal impure."

"Yeah, damn right I'm impure," Spike replied. "I'm as impure as the driven yellow snow. Let me go."

"You can't even brain-suck a vampire," Glory continued. "He's completely useless."

"Good to know," Spike remarked, backing away from the demons and the god, towards the doorway he was dragged through. "So, I'm just gonna let myself out."

"But, your holiness, we observed the Slayer's group," Jinx replied as the rest of the lackeys rushed to grab Spike, preventing him from escaping. "She protected this one above all others. She asked him to be in charge. She treated him as precious."

"Really? Precious-ss-ss?" Glory drew out the word, savouring it's syllables. "Let's take a peek at you, precious."

"Sod off," Spike swore.

"Oh..." Glory laughed, before punching him.

Spike flew backwards into the wall, then slid down to the floor.

"He doesn't look very fancy to me," Glory remarked.

Spike examined his split lip. "Hey, watch the lip!" He shouted.

"But if the Slayer protects him, maybe appearances are deceiving," Glory considered. She grabbed the vampire, throwing him on to her bed, before straddling him. "Maybe there's something on the inside."

Spike screamed as she thrust one long red fingernail into his stomach.

"Shhh," Glory admonished. "What do you know, precious? What can I dig out of you?" she wondered.

Spike screamed in pain, wondering how long he could last before the rescue party came for him.


Elita woke from the short doze she mysteriously fell into, to find that the bear had disappeared, replaced by a fire and another creature, who was hidden in the darkness now surrounding the clearing.

"Are you my guide?" she asked. "Do you have the answers I seek?"

"Yes," the creature replied, her voice seeming to originate from nature, as though the animal was the same age as the earth itself.

"I wish to know my fate," Elita began, choosing her words with care. "When the final battle with Glory has been concluded. Will I continue to live in my present form, or will I return to my previous one."

"You and the slayer are alike," the stranger replied. "You both seek the answers to the same questions."

"The nature of Buffy's existence is not dependent on Glory's actions," Elita argued. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness now; she could see that the form opposite her was human. Her skin was dark, covered in strange markings, clothed in simple, minimal woollens to protect her from the elements.

"You are wrong," the woman replied. "The slayer's existence is dependent on the actions of Glory. Just as all humanity. You are the key upon which their fate rests."

"I know that," Elita said. "But what will happen to me?"

"You are fearful for your humanity," the woman determined. "Despite your short existence, you have grown to love it, just as the slayer has. Love, give, forgive. You must feel the emotion, learn to it accept it before it will lead you to your gift."

"Gift?" Elita echoed. "What is my gift?"

"Life is your gift," the woman answered.

Elita frowned in confusion. "Life is my gift?" She sought to confirm. "How is that possible?"

"You will learn," the woman replied. "In time."

And with that, she disappeared into the night, along with the fire, leaving Elita within that state of confusion.


"Damn it!" Angel cried as he slapped his mobile closed in frustration. "I can't get a signal," he despaired.

"Where could they be?" Tara asked nervously, her mind concerned with what was happening to her boyfriend.

"On the road, I hope," Wesley added, as Angel paced to another part of the nightclub to try for a signal from his network there.

The former watcher turned to his left. "How's it coming?" He asked.

"More expensive by the minute," Xander replied as he and Oz retrieved another tool with which to try and prize open the doors. "What did they seal these things with?"

"They got to the rear ones as well," Cordelia announced as she and Doyle emerged from the backstage area of the nightclub. "After people left."

"Now I know why the previous owner practically threw me the keys to this place," Xander moaned as he tossed aside the useless tool. "Every night another demon decides it's time to storm the Bronze. He was relieved to get rid of the place."

"Do you think some hocus-pocus might work?" Oz asked his girlfriend.

"It's worth a shot," Willow agreed. "If Xander's willing."

"At this point, I'd take a blow torch to the place," her best friend replied. "Cash in on the insurance. Although they'd probably realise it was arson and charge me for it."

"Shh!" Angel cried, as he came to halt, the cell pressed to his ear. "Buffy? Oh, hi Elita. Listen, has she finished yet? Something's happened."

"Open Sesame," Willow whispered, waving her hands over the door.

"What!?!" Xander glanced at her in frustration. "Are you having me on?"

The doors opened and the slayer walked through, causing all to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Angel ended his call to take her in his arms. "Did you find your answers?" He asked her softly.

"No, only more questions," Buffy replied. "Death is my gift? What sort of reply is that, I ask you?" She shook her head. "Anyway, what happened here?"

"Spike was kidnapped by Glory's demons," Tara answered.

"They think he's the key," Anya added.

"Then we better get to her place and rescue him," Buffy proposed. "Before she discovers that he's not."

"You know where she would have stashed him?" Cordelia asked.

"No," Buffy replied. "But I think I figure it out."


"I have a riddle for you, precious," Glory remarked as she stood before Spike. "How is a vampire that won't talk like an apple?"

Spike declined from answering her, his injuries straining his resources. Wounds littered his body, which was suspended from the ceiling, damage which required a lot of blood before he could properly heal, a meal which he was currently denied access to. His last supplement had been before he and Angel left the mansion for a patrol. Silently he hoped that was enough to last until the cavalry came to rescue him.

"Their skin can be peeled to reveal a core," Glory answered her own question. Suddenly she grabbed his hair, pulling his head back. Her other hand carried a dagger, and he screamed in agony when she used the weapon to cut his chest.

"Think I can do you in one long strip?" Glory asked him.

"Enough," Spike pleaded. "No more. I'll tell you who the sodding key is."


"Glory's key-sniffing Cobra was about here when I killed it," Buffy revealed as a contingent of the slayerettes followed her to the grassy knoll above the rich suburbs. The others where camped out at Giles and Jenny's apartment, the couple's home being one of the few places left which they believed was unknown to Glory, as none of them had stopped by the place today. "Me and Angel chased it to this spot. I think it was headed back to her."

"Do you think she lives around here?" Willow asked her.

"It's not a lot to go on," Xander added.

"It's all we got," Buffy replied. She turned to Tara. "You sure you're up for this?" She asked her softly. "You could have stayed with the others."

"I need to see him," Tara replied.

"Then lets go," Buffy uttered, before leading the force down to the apartment block.


"Is that better?" Glory asked as she held the glass of water her prisoner had asked for to his lips. "Do you think you can try to talk again now?"

Spike coughed, then nodded slightly.

"Good. Because I'm tired of these games!" Glory cried, smashing the glass against his face. "'I need time, I need a drink,'" she mocked his pleas. "You're a very needy little bloodsucker, and it's not very attractive. So start talking."

"Yeah. Okay. The key. Here's the thing..." Spike began, pausing as he tried to untie his hands behind his back, unseen by the god or her minions watchful eyes. "It's that guy... on TV ... what's his name?"

Glory frowned. "On the television?"

"That show ... the prize show ... where they guess what stuff costs?" Spike continued.

"The Price Is Right?" Queried one demon.

"Oh, Bob Barker!" Jinx cried.

The other minion jumped up in glee. "We will bring you Bob Barker! We will bring you the limp and beaten body of Bob Bark-"

"It is not Bob Barker, scabby morons!" Glory yelled. "The key is new to this world ... and Bob Barker is as old as grit. The vampire ... is lying to me."

Despite his pain, Spike grinned. "Yeah, but it was fun. And guess what, bitch. I'm not telling you jack. You're never gonna get your sodding key, 'cause you might be strong, but in our world, you're an idiot."

"I am a god," Glory corrected.

"The god of what, bad home perms?" Spike countered.

Glory was outraged. "Shut up! I command you, shut up!"

"Yeah, okay, sorry, but I just had no idea that gods were such prancing lightweights," Spike remarked, not in the least apologetic. "Mark my words, the Slayer ... is going to kick your skanky, lopsided ass back to whatever place would take a cheap, whorish, fashion victim, ex-god like you."

The god spun round, delivering a kick to the vampire's chest. But it was the move that would prove her downfall, and his moment, as it broke the restraints on his wrist.

Spike flew backwards from the force of the impact, colliding with the apartment door into the hallway outside. Using the journey to his advantage, he rolled on to his feet before sinking into a chair to gather what was left of his depleted energy.

"Good plan, Spike," he muttered to himself as he struggled to rise.

In the apartment Glory turned to her lackeys. "Bring him back."


Spike staggered down the hall towards the elevator, praying the doors stayed open by the time he reached them.

"Here!" Cried a demon, catching sight of their escaping prisoner.

The doors began to close. Spike landed on his knees before them and set about wrenching them apart.

"Oh, god," he muttered as he heard more demons coming round the corner.

The elevator doors opened, and he leaned forward, letting himself drop on to the top of the descending lift.

After he had recovered from the landing, he opened the hatch and let himself fall into the empty elevator.

The demons took to the stairs, coming to stand around him as he fell out on the landing of the ground floor.

"You do not insult Glory by escaping," one declared.

Spike scowled at them as the doors burst open.

"Slayer!" cried a lackey.

The chipped vampire fell against the wall in relief as Buffy, Willow, Tara, Angel and Xander entered the building, armed with crossbows and swords. His girlfriend rushed to his side while the others fell upon the demon lackeys.

Buffy kicked at her attacker after he caused the crossbow to fly out of her hands, before punching him in the face. She caught the tail end of the weapon with her foot and tossed it back up, catching the weapon in time to deliver an arrow to another demon before he could get to attack her.

Angel fought by her side, pounding the demons, while Willow and Xander helped Tara aid Spike to the door. As in all battles he and his beloved fought effortlessly in combination with one another, the perfect slaying duo for the demands of the demonic infested hellmouth of the twenty-first century. The monastic dwarflike lackeys proved no match for them, just a wryly set of foes, bent on retrieving their god's prisoner. They had no care for their own survival, death was nothing in comparison to the rewards they received serving their god. In that attitude lay the key to their survival against the odds, in the face of chosen warriors.

But the slayer and her angel were unconcerned whether the demons lived or died at their hands. Their mission was to attack, a necessary diversion to give time to the others to rescue the prisoner. And in this they succeeded.

"Buffy," Xander cried, causing her to whirl round. "We've got him!"

"Sorry guys," Buffy remarked turned round in time to dodge a hit from one demon and deliver a strike to another. "I hate to punch and run, but we've got what we came for." She hit the one who's punch she avoided, the last to send to the floor, then she and Angel cleared the landing, following the others out of the building.

 


"How is he?" Buffy asked later when they were back at the mansion, having called the rest from Giles and Jenny's apartment, to let them know that they could return to their homes, with warnings to let her know if Glory launched retaliation tonight.

"Recovering," Tara replied, she having returned with the slayer, Elita, Angel and Spike to 1901 Crawford Street, anxious to make sure her boyfriend was alright. "He didn't tell her a thing," she added.

"I know," Buffy assured her, handing her the mug full of pigs blood, a fresh batch for the chipped vampire. "Spike may love to wind me up half the time, but I know he would never betray us. He's a good guy."

Tara nodded. "I almost lost him," she uttered, swallowing back a sob at the grief his death would have caused to her.

"He's safe," Buffy promised her. "I'd die before I let anything happen to any of you," she added, unconsciously understanding her ancestor's answer now.



"Ahh, Jinxy and Murky," Glory uttered joyfully as her lackeys finally returned to her apartment. "What took you so long?"

"The Slayer was there," Jinx began.

"A lethal fighter," Murk added.

"She seemed to be everywhere at once," Jinx agreed.

"She had friends," Murk continued. "With many weapons!"

"They may have been demons," Jinx decided.

"And where's my vampire?" Glory asked.

Suddenly the demons appeared a loss for words. Behind them the door fell from it's hinges, the sound from the impact of the wood veneer falling to the floor eclipsed by their screaming, as they paid dearly for their failure.

The End.
To Be Continued In.
The Veil Descends.