She Went the Distance
I don't know if I need to up the rating on this to be perfectly honest. It's angsty and a little edgy, but I don't think it's that bad... Oh well, if I have to I'll do it, but for now I'll let it stand as is. For those of you unfamiliar with the events of Hercules the television series, Wikipedia is your friend. Hope to see loads of brand new reviews for the new chapter... Next time... Buffy get's to meet her tutor and I'm pretty sure half of you will have figured out who I'm taking her to before the end of the chapter. ;)
Dawn let Spike help her down the last steps of the tower – her injuries were still telling and she was crying in obvious and great pain – but she had to see the body. She wouldn’t feel better until she at least knew that Buffy was in a happier place now.
When she finally rejoined the others however everybody seemed to be subdued and unsure of themselves. Xander and Anya milled around off to the left with Giles hugging Willow and Tara as they both cried for their friend.
Dawn glanced around trying to see the body of her sister. When she couldn’t find it she marched angrily up to Giles and glared at him. “Where is she?”
Giles shot Dawn a sympathetic look. “Gone, I’m afraid,” he replied in a softer tone.
Dawn balled up her hands frustratedly. “I want to see it,” she commanded.
“Dawn, you can’t see something that isn’t there,” Giles explained knowing his words would hurt the poor girl.
Unwilling to believe the words Dawn raced to the spot directly underneath the platform high above. When she got there all she saw was rubble. Buffy wasn’t there. Collapsing to her knees Dawn reached out as though expecting Buffy’s body to appear.
Willow moved forward. “We’ll get her back,” she promised. “She must have been taken somewhere by the portal, Dawnie, we’ll get her back,” she vowed her eyes darkening slightly.
“No!” Dawn snapped. “She wasn’t taken anywhere… I’d know that if she had!” Dawn angrily shoved Willow aside.
“You can’t possibly know that,” Xander argued.
“How the hell do you know?” Dawn shot back. “I was there! She jumped for me, for us, to save us all!” Her tears starting to fall heavily again Dawn looked away. “The body should be here, but it’s not, but I know that doesn’t mean she was taken somewhere by the portal… I felt it close when Buffy jumped… I thought I felt her die. Something else must have happened.” Turning away from the others she glanced up at the platform in the growing light of the pre-dawn sky and blinked desperately to be rid of her tears.
“Dawn,” Tara began gently placing a hand on the younger girl’s shoulder.
Giles decided now was not the time. “Let’s get you home and see to those injuries,” he suggested finishing what Tara meant to say.
Dawn nodded. “Take me home,” she agreed. “But you have to promise me!” she snapped whirling to glare with her best ‘big sister gave me it now I give it to you’ glare. “You won’t try to go looking for her with any magic… Not without first talking to me,” she added.
“We promise, sweetie,” Tara agreed for the group.
The others grew silent. Willow in particular looked almost like she’d been slapped across the face. Reluctantly Dawn accepted her words knowing that Tara wouldn’t let any of them try something stupid. Dawn just knew that Buffy wasn’t suffering, her connection to her sister seemed stronger than it ever had before. As though some force in the universe had created a cosmic change and unlocked all the powers of her Key self, but those powers were only being allowed to trickle in slowly through the keyhole.
As they all started to leave Willow stood back staring at the tower. “I’ll bring you back, Buffy,” she vowed. “By Hecate I promise you won’t suffer in some hell dimension,” she added softly.
In the bowels of the underworld the glistening pool of light shone a sickly green color as the woman watched – having awakened with the rest of her fellow Gods – at least more awake than she’d ever been during the years of her forced slumber when mortals with gifts managed to steal some of her power to work their will. The Goddess Hecate smiled slightly
“Interesting,” she muttered. Glancing off to her right she spotted one of her former pets and summoned it over with a wave of her hand. The creature allowed her to pet under its chin. “Perhaps I could use her to my advantage. Hercules helped to thwart my takeover of the Underworld long ago forcing me into this dreary little hellhole, but if I can cause unrest among the Gods maybe I can convince Zeus that Hades were to blame, then I could assume his seat as the head of the Underworld. Queen of the Dead… I like the sound of that.” Laughing she mentally began to plot her new eventual takeover.
“Would that be wise?” her pet asked. “It took all of your power to erase the memories of your brother involving his encounters with Hercules while he was a teenager.”
Hecate curled her lip in annoyance. “I know, making him forget, making Hercules forget, making everyone involved forget that they had met previously and knew more concerning Hades’ plans nearly destroyed me… But this time I will have a willing mortal to donate her fledgling powers to my cause. This time I will succeed and take over this dismal place.” Hecate smirked. “After all I’ve always said it could use a feminine touch.” Stroking the fur of her pet gently she smiled and her eyes shone with a new purpose.
Buffy had managed to recover her wits after her little nap. Now she was just sitting in her cloud chair mulling over the information Zeus had given her – being a Goddess wasn’t exactly what she’d been expecting, but it had to beat the gig of being a Slayer.
Actually, now that she was a Goddess the thought of how the demonic underworld would react made her smirk.
“So I’m a Goddess,” she stated – it wasn’t a question. “What does that mean exactly?” She glanced back up at Zeus.
Eyeing her thoughtfully Zeus stroked his beard. “Basically it means that you are no longer invested in mortal affairs on such a small level, before you’d be likened to something along the lines of lower management. Now you get to be upper management and oversee the delicate nature of balance in the universe,” Zeus explained.
“I think you’ve lost her, dear,” Hera said noticing the glazed over look in Buffy’s eyes.
Zeus glanced between the two and nodded. “I can see that, it’s never easy with these new Gods,” he muttered. “Buffy, you have been chosen to become the Goddess of Balance. What that means is that you will be given powers to oversee the Balance of the entire cosmos, good and evil, right and wrong, humanity and demons… That sort of thing,” he stated smiling slightly.
“I will be given? You mean I don’t have any powers now?” Buffy asked confused.
“Well of course you do,” Zeus commented with a chuckle. “No, no I just meant that you will grow into your new powers gradually. It doesn’t all come naturally at first, like switching on a light bulb or something. It’s more like creating a fine wine, the more you age the better you’ll be,” he elaborated.
Buffy blinked. “Did you just compare me to wine?” she demanded feeling slightly incensed.
“Forgive me,” Zeus apologized. “It’s been a long time since I conversed with mortals,” he added. “Even newly appointed Gods who were formerly mortals… I forget sometimes that their way of thinking of things is still the mortal way.”
Buffy got up and began to pace. “Can I interact with mortals?” she wondered. “I mean it’s not like I can never see my friends and family again… Is it?”
Zeus and Hera shared a look each of them knowing what the other was thinking.
Hera took over as she approached Buffy and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “As Gods we are typically forbidden from interfering in mortal lives, unless they directly address us. It will be some time before any of the mortals in this century begin to erect temples to us or pray in our name again… If they choose to worship us at all,” she said hesitantly.
“The one true God of the Christian faith gave us the position formerly occupied by the Powers that Be,” Zeus added somberly. “We may not be allowed any followers of our own this time, but we’ll be a darned sight better at keeping the world safe from the darker side of things,” he said clapping his hands together. “By thunder there will be Heroes again!” he vowed. “None of this one girl in all the world garbage… Hmmm, we’ll need to appoint a Trainer of Heroes, find suitable mortals who can be gifted with great responsibilities and perhaps a few powers, perhaps use those wonderful comic books as an inspiration, Hermes!” Zeus bellowed ceasing his pacing and whirling to face the grand atrium.
“You summoned me, Zeus?” Hermes asked flittering into the room with a smile.
“Take a proclamation to the other Gods,” Zeus instructed. “We’ll be looking for suitable candidates to make into heroes, the usual perks, job description… Slayer of Demons and Vampires wanted…Hmmm perhaps I’m being to presumptuous.” Zeus eyed Buffy. “Would you have anybody in mind?” he asked.
“Uh…I don’t know,” she admitted. “I’m still trying to figure out half of what you’re telling me,” she added. “Can I at least visit my friends?”
Hera took Buffy in her arms and shook her head offering a motherly smile of sympathy to the younger woman. “I’m afraid not, Buffy, there are just no avenues to return to Earth at this point. Many of our temples were destroyed, and you never had any to begin with. There are only a few ways for us to manifest on the mortal plane, through our temples’ statues, through the beseeching of a mortal or when selecting a champion or priest to represent us,” Hera explained as gently as she could.
Buffy’s expression darkened. “Well that sucks,” she proclaimed. Her eyes suddenly widened as something that had been niggling in the back of her mind caught her awareness. “Wait a minute! The Buffybot!” she blurted.
Zeus blinked. “I’m sorry, the Buffy what?” he asked the term as alien to him as anyone else not born in the modern era.
“The Buffybot,” Buffy began an idea formulating in her mind even as she explained what it was to Zeus. “This seriously disturbed mortal guy built a machine for pleasure… Totally icksome, but Spike – the vampire with this way unhealthy obsession for me – asked him to build a robot version of me. Couldn’t I manifest on Earth through that?” she wondered.
Zeus grew contemplative. “Perhaps,” he reluctantly admitted. “But you’ll have to learn how to use your new powers first,” he told her. “And I don’t believe it would be very wise of you to go charging back to your friends right this minute… Telling them you’ve become a Goddess could upset them greatly, and it won’t help your transition either,” he said.
Buffy sighed. “You’re right,” she admitted. “They’d probably think I was some demonic thing trying to mess with them. They think I’m dead right now.” Feeling discouraged Buffy’s shoulders sagged.
“Buck up, my dear,” Zeus encouraged taking Buffy by the shoulders and shooting her a smile. “You’re a God now! You should be proud, not many mortals can learn to be a true hero…Hmmmm, I don’t think that’s helping, Hermes!”
“Right, Zeus, the proclamation… I’m on it babe,” Hermes stated about to dash off.
“No, no, forget that for the moment. We need a trainer of heroes first… I wonder if Hades would let Philoctedes out of the Underworld just until we can find a more permanent solution…” Zeus mused thoughtfully.
“What did you need, sir?” Hermes wondered.
“Buffy here needs a guide, and someone who can help teach her about her new powers,” Zeus declared. “Take her mind off all her troubles and sorrows,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper. “So who do you have in mind?” he asked crossing his arms and eyeing the messenger God expectantly.
“What’s wrong with letting Athena?” Hermes started to ask but trailed off at the look Zeus was giving him. “Right, right, someone who won’t be busy, gotcha on that.” Tilting his head to the side briefly Hermes tried to think of any God that could work with Buffy to help her out. “Morpheus, Artemis, Demeter, Aphrodite, no, no, no…. This is a real brain teaser,” he muttered to himself. “I got it, oh have I got just the one,” Hermes blurted dashing to and fro with excitement.
Zeus was getting impatient. “Well! Out with it, man!” he bellowed.
“Technically, sir, he isn’t a God… But he has some experience in the matter.” Hermes smiled. “And the only thing he’s doing right now is living it up… so to speak.”
Zeus stared at Hermes unable to catch up with who the messenger God was talking about. At least until he finally realized the pun Hermes had used. “Oh yes, I never thought of that,” he remarked casually.
“Husband, what are you two planning?” Hera wondered.
“Oh nothing, nothing, Hera, my dear. Buffy, follow Hermes, he’ll take you to your tutor in the Godly arts,” Zeus proclaimed.
Buffy eyed Zeus uncertainly. She was feeling a little uneasy at the funny looks Hermes and Zeus kept giving her. “Ok, uh… Should I call you sire?”
“No, no, we’re very informal around here,” Zeus dismissed. “Zeus will be fine. Now go, Buffy, and enjoy yourself,” he stated with a warm smile.
“If you say so,” Buffy returned with a shrug. “Lead on, wings,” she told Hermes.
“Try to keep up, babe, the way to where we have to go isn’t exactly easy to follow and a few lesser entities have gotten lost trying to reach it,” Hermes told her before zipping off.
“I can see there’s going to be a lot of walking involved in my new life,” Buffy muttered.
“Perhaps at first,” Zeus said with a knowing smile. “But I believe your tutor might enjoy gifting you with a special present for your new life,” he called after her as she quickly ran after Hermes.
Hera shot Zeus a knowing look. “You can’t hide anything from me, dear,” she reminded.
“Ah you’ve figured me out,” Zeus returned moving to embrace his wife. “He’ll be an excellent teacher… They have so much in common,” Zeus said before moving in to kiss Hera.
“True,” she giggled. “Shouldn’t you have warned Hades though?”
“That stiff?” Zeus said. “Nah… Besides he could use a good scare.”
Hera giggled once more and adopted a thoughtful expression. “I’m quite surprised though,” she admitted. “Who would have ever suspected that the Fates were right…? Indoor plumbing is very big.”
Hades studied the map of the Earth carefully. “Who’d have guessed it – finally found out it’s round,” he remarked offhandedly.
“Too true your most gruesomeness,” Pain spoke up popping onto the center of Africa.
“Ah, Pain, how good of you to join me,” Hades said with a brief smile. Moving at lightning quick speed he snatched up the little imp in one long-fingered hand. “You left me down there for over three thousand years!” he bellowed his flame beginning to turn red.
Pain started to turn red with the heat. “I told Panic we should have helped ya out, boss, but then Hecate showed up and…and… well there was the whole Gods going to sleep thing!” Pain blurted nervously.
“It’s true what they say,” Hades remarked. “Good help is so hard to enslave these days,” he added slamming Pain into the map of the world and creating a crack. “Look
at what you cost me! Hellmouths, those things shouldn’t even exist! The Titans personal hell, a giant hole in the world! That Deeper Well is part of my
territory and I refuse to give it up for anything!” Tossing Pain aside Hades began to pace. “We gotta think, we gotta plan, these demons are overrunning everything it’s worse than the River Styx on game night.”
Pain humbled himself before Hades. “Right, right, gotcha, boss. Plans, we can do plans, we’re very good at plans.”
Hades shot the imp a glare. “You couldn’t even take care of a miserable baby!” he reminded his flames flaring.
“But… He didn’t drink the last drop,” Pain tried to weasel out of his predicament.
“I’m sorry, but for the reference I’m just not comfortable working with incompetent little imps this time,” Hades declared poignantly. “I need someone I can trust… Someone who knows how to keep things in line… Someone who can seal these Hellmouth things before we start having Hydras and Nemean Lions showing up again.” Hades began to pace. “But where am I going to find new minions?”
“Uh, how about taking out an add online?” Pain suggested helpfully.
Hades turned to shoot the imp a glare. Suddenly though a light went on behind his eyes. “Isn’t there some vampire running around with his soul?” he asked not really requiring an answer.
Panic appeared at that point holding a clipboard in his hand. “One Angelus by name, cursed by the Kalderash gypsy clan. Goes by the name Angel these days, works out of L.A. in the Hyperion Hotel…” Panic trailed off with an expression of uncertainty. “But he’s not going to serve you, he’s strictly white hat these days, looking for redemption to become human again.”
Hades laughed. “Boys, boys, boys… You’re talking to Hades, the H-Man, and if there’s one thing old Hades is good with, it’s finding just the right angle to… Cut a deal,” Hades reminded breaking into a sinister smile.
“Why would you want to use one of those stupid vampires anyway?” Pain complained. “They’re kind of combustible, they can’t go out in the daylight, they die just by having a piece of wood driven… through… their…” Pain backed up as Hades drew closer and closer with each word he uttered.
Chuckling menacingly Hades encircled the pair of imps with smoky limbs and drew them into his not so friendly clutches. “Who said anything about keeping him a vampire?” he asked.
“Ohhhhhhh,” both imps said in unison.
“That could work,” Panic said nodding rapidly his head bobbing up and down so fast it almost fell off.
Smiling Hades suddenly changed moods. “Now tell me, my two formerly irreplaceable minions. Where is Cerberus!?” he demanded his flames turning red with rage once again.
“Uh…” Pain said nervously. “Would you believe a kennel?”
A loud explosion filled the Underworld.
Coughing up smoke Pain rolled back to his feet. “I didn’t think so.”
“It’s good to be back,” Hades declared blowing the smoke off his finger like a pistol.To Be Continued