Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, places or situations found in the Buffyverse. These belong to Joss Whedon and possibly others. I don't own any of the characters or situations from Smallville, which is owned by DC comics and others.
Flight wasn’t supposed to be part of being a slayer. Running went against every grain; the slayer was supposed to be the last line, the one girl in all the world who stood her ground.
She was supposed to be the thing that made the things that lived in the dark tremble.
The taste of defeat was bitter, like ashes.
Sighing, Buffy forced herself to relax. The hum of the road and the darkness had almost lulled her to sleep again, but the thoughts going through her head hadn’t let her quite fall asleep.
Slowly, painfully she forced herself to her feet. The last fight with the Knights of Byzantium had almost ended everything. Giles had come within inches of being killed, and if he’d been killed while driving…she wasn’t sure what would have happened.
They were going to have to be more careful. The Knights were nut jobs, but as humans they could move in circles Glory’s demons couldn’t. Some of them might even have learned to use computers, or at least been willing to hire someone who did.
The others were sleeping, except for Spike at the wheel and Giles in the passenger seat. The big RV was already feeling crowded, and they had only been on the road a few hours.
As she reached the front, she noticed that Giles had finally fallen asleep. She settled down in gap between the two passengers, which was wide enough for her and Dawn to sit side by side. Of course, this was partially because she hadn’t been eating enough; the situation with Glory had consumed her and it never seemed to end.
“I don’t suppose you need me to drive,” she asked softly.
The muscle tensing in Spike’s neck was the only sign he’d heard her for a moment, and then he let out a short blast of air.
“Thought we were trying to keep the Nib let and the others safe and sound,” he said. “I let you drive and we might as well save Glory the trouble.”
“At least the world would be safe,” she said, scowling.
It was the stark, cold truth that haunted her. Without Dawn, the end of the world wouldn’t even be an issue. Glory would rant and rave, but without the Key, she was strictly a threat to those around her.
She could see it in the faces of the others sometimes; the thought that killing Dawn would be the easy way out.
“Seems to me that getting her out of town is almost as good,” Spike said softly. “Rituals that big have to be performed in a specific place and time. Glory misses that and she misses the boat.”
Buffy nodded. “We just have to hide her until after the ritual, whenever it is.”
The world would be safe at least, although Buffy suspected that they’d have an enraged hell god hunting for them, looking for payback.
“Way these sort of things work, it’d be a hundred or a thousand years before she can try it again. By that time, Dawn’ll know better.”
“You think she’ll still be around then?” Buffy asked sharply. As far as she was concerned, Dawn was fully human, even if she caught the others glancing at her sister in ways that made her uncomfortable.
It was so much easy to kill something if it wasn’t human.
“You have anything to do with it, she will.”
He glanced and smiled, and for a moment it was almost possible for her to forget that he was a soulless monster.
Glancing at Giles, she said, “Do you think they’re telling us the truth? They really got Joxer to tell them where we could get help?”
Without opening his eyes, Giles said “It’s Beljoxa’s eye. It was Anya’s idea and it was a very good one.”
“You really think there is someone out there who’s going to be better against Glory than I am?”
“According to the oracle, this is our only hope of winning,” Giles murmured. “Of course, the Eye can only see the past and present, not the future, so who can know?”
“Least this gets us away from Glory and the Monte Python’s knights,” Spike said.
“I didn’t see a python,” Buffy said.
Glancing at her, Spike smirked. “Sometimes a snake is just a snake.”
Buffy flushed. She’d taken freshman psychology. “Shut up and drive.”
Giles’s breathing had settled back into a deep and even rhythm and Buffy was silent for a long time. If she could relax a little, she could pretend that this was one of the road trips she and Dawn had taken with their parents before the divorce.
Sitting in the darkness, trying to sleep while the muted sounds of music came from the radio. If it wasn’t for the bitter taste of failure, she could have at least pretended.
“Did he at least tell you where we’re going,” she asked at last, her voice low.
Both Giles and Anya had been curiously quiet when it came to giving details about where they were going or who and what they were seeking.
“Told me to wake him up at the Kansas border,” Spike said. “Wouldn’t say much more than that, although I wouldn’t expect him to.”
“Why?” Buffy asked. Spike’s tone didn’t sound as though he minded, which wasn’t like him.
“We’ve got our own spy in the back,” he said.
“What?” Buffy asked. Involuntarily she found herself turning and staring into the darkness. “Who?”
“Loony bird…Red’s girl. Wouldn’t be surprised if Glory Lojacked the bint.”
“Tara is fine,” Buffy said. “It’s not her fault that Glory did…whatever it was she did.”
“Didn’t say it was…I’m just saying…don’t say anything around her you wouldn’t want Glory to hear.”
Glory was a hell god and they really didn’t know the full extent of what she could do. What Buffy had seen was already terrifying enough. The woman was strong enough to lift a bus. Being hit by her was like being run over by a freight train, and when she wanted to be she was fast…faster than a speeding bullet.
What kind of help could they possibly be looking for that could match a monster like that?
“So what do you think we’re looking for,” she asked at last. “Some kind of super-demon?”
“Can’t imagine it’d be pleasant. Anything strong enough to take on Glory would have to be a big league big bad.”
“Why couldn’t it be a big Good?” Buffy asked, even though her gut told her he was right. Nothing in the universe seemed to come easy to her, and this wasn’t going to be any different.
With her luck, what they were looking for was going to be even worse than the danger they left behind.
“You’re the thing demons tell stories about at night around the campfire,” Spike said, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye. “You think something ten times as strong as you wouldn’t make waves? If there was a good version of Glory out there, everybody would be talking…and they aren’t.”
There didn’t seem to be anything to say to that, and so Buffy lapsed into silence.
Eventually she spoke again. “Are we there yet?”
The sound of Spike gritting his teeth was a small pleasure, one of the few Buffy had enjoyed in quite some time. She’d overheard Dawn asking Giles earlier, and she knew this was going to be a trip of over twelve hundred miles.
There was going to be plenty of time to get little digs in at Spike. Buffy didn’t bother to questions why this, of all things gave her pleasure.
At least it kept her mind off whatever they were going to be facing in Kansas. All Buffy really knew about Kansas was what she’d seen in the wizard of Oz, and truthfully flying monkeys freaked her out almost as much as ventriloquist’s dummies.