Making the Offer
Here's chapter three. The scene with Buffy is a tad short, but I'm sure the next chapter can rectify that. I really wanted to get back to Hades. But who can blame me, he's fun to write.
Following Hermes to this place had not been easy in the slightest, but Buffy had managed and now she found herself standing on a hillside overlooking a small clearing. Everything was pristine and perfect – which told Buffy that she wasn’t anywhere on Earth, but probably not somewhere on Mount Olympus either.
A small house rested in the center of the clearing. It was of a fashion and design much older than anything built in these modern times, but it didn’t seem lacking in Buffy’s eyes. There was a bubbling stream that meandered through the valley and near the house offering water. And flowers and a vegetable garden grew side by side in the back yard.
Only one small area needed to be fenced in, where a second building – almost like a barn though not quite – rested. Hermes led her down the hillside and up to the front door of the building. Buffy didn’t know what she should make of this place, but she had a feeling that it could be a haven from the outside world.
Knocking at the door Hermes adjusted his toga and helmet with a broad smile spreading across his lips. “Hey, cats, it’s Hermes,” he said.
The door was flung open and three smiling children came running out. Two girls and a boy – they rushed into Hermes’ arms and he hugged them tightly.
“Hermes, we thought you and all the Gods were sleeping,” a woman remarked as she emerged from the hut. She had dark hair and a slim figure with the barest hint of a smirk in her eyes – part of her almost seemed to age right before Buffy’s eyes shifting from her young image to that of an older woman. With shocking white in her hair.
“Things change,” Hermes replied in a cryptic fashion. “Is he home?”
The woman smiled. “Of course he is, Hermes, who’s your friend?” she asked finally noticing Buffy.
“Buffy Summers,” Buffy introduced with a slight nervous smile. “Apparently I’m the new Goddess of Balance.” Her words made the other woman gasp in startled surprise and the three children all laughed at their mother’s funny expression.
“I don’t believe it,” she blurted.
“You better believe it, babe,” Hermes said with a warm smile as he pushed his shades up revealing his eyes. “She’s the reason everything changed.”
“Then Zeus…” the other woman trailed off and Hermes nodded. “Come in, come in, both of you!” the woman insisted indicating that Buffy should do as she was bid. “I’m Megara,” she introduced.
Buffy smiled and shook the other woman’s hand. Then her entire demeanor shifted as a wash of power flowed outwards from the hut. Her former Slayer abilities seemed to have disappeared when she became a Goddess, now however she was feeling like something had kicked her in the gut. Almost as if she’d been hit by a horse.
Sitting in a chair in one corner of the room was a handsome, muscular looking man in an orangish bronze looking armor. He had a head of flaming orange hair and a sword at his belt. What he’d been in the middle of doing, Buffy couldn’t quite tell, but as soon as he saw her he broke into an impossibly wide grin.
“This is a pleasant surprise,” he said. “The Fates told me what to expect, but I wasn’t sure when you’d be arriving,” he revealed.
“The Fates told you?” Hermes repeated in some shock. “But The Fates didn’t know?”
“Oh right, right,” the man said waving his hand dismissively. “They didn’t really know, they just hinted that something like this could happen, their vision was clouded that day. Preventing them from realizing exactly when and precisely who was going to trigger this event.”
Buffy listened to all of this and had to wonder just what the guy meant exactly. “You mean to tell me you knew that someone was going to become a new God or Goddess?” she demanded.
“Yep,” the man replied with a charming smile. “I suspect I know why you’re here too,” he said.
“Oh really, would you care to enlighten the rest of us not privy to Zeus’ every whim?” Buffy asked sarcastically.
Chuckling the man stood up. “You’re here to learn how to be a God,” he stated.
“And who are you to be teaching me this?” Buffy wondered in a skeptical tone of voice. She actually really wanted to know who this guy was because something about him seemed familiar.
“That’s simple,” he replied approaching her and reaching out a hand to shake it.
Buffy took his hand in hers and felt a great deal of strength behind his grip as they shook hands. It was like shaking Faith’s hand, if Faith had been stronger than her.
“The name’s Hercules,” he revealed a twinkle of amusement in his eye.
“Hercules?” Buffy repeated. “The Demi-God from the Myths?”
Hercules blushed. “Technically they aren’t myths,” he said. “And some of them are kind of embarrassing,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.
Buffy smiled and clapped Herc across the shoulder, which wasn’t simple considering how much taller he was. With a slight pout she wondered why she couldn’t have grown a few inches when she became a God. “So I’m going to be taught how to be a God by a Demi-God… How does that work exactly?” she asked with a playful smirk.
Hercules stood up straighter and actually seemed to glow with a yellow light. “Because I am a True Hero, I too arose to become a God, but chose to live a mortal life with my beloved wife Megara,” he explained. “Still doesn’t mean I can’t access my Godly gifts when I need to, since I am entitled to them. I’m just not immortal,” he stated.
“And Wonder Boy here is the best choice to teach you how to use your new gifts,” Megara added with a wink.
“Meg,” Hercules said slightly embarrassed.
“Wonder Boy?” Buffy repeated. “Sorry, I think somebody already took that name for a comic book super hero… Or maybe it was something else.” Frowning slightly Buffy shook her head. “Xander always knew more about comics than I did.” She shrugged.
“Well I guess I’ll leave you here, sweet cheeks,” Hermes said with a smile. “You’re in good hands with ol’ Herc here. Plus there’s still so much to do, Zeus wants me to find him that trainer of heroes for this new era.” Hermes zipped off before Buffy could say anything or even ask him a question.
“Is he always like that?” she asked in an annoyed tone.
“Pretty much,” Megara told her with a smile.
“But he didn’t tell me how to get out of here!” Buffy blurted
Herc grinned. “That isn’t a problem. Let me introduce you to Pegasus,” he said turning to lead Buffy back outside.
“Pegasus,” Buffy repeated curiously. Following after him she had the feeling she was about to meet something rather than someone – and that something was going to be impressive.
Angel and the gang had come back from Pylea only to learn that Buffy was dead. Angel had been hit so hard by the news that he’d locked himself away in his room for three days straight to grieve. But it wasn’t enough, he needed space and time to deal with this sudden loss. So he had planned to hit the road as soon as the funeral was over and go someplace where he could think, where he could deal.
Of course the Fates had other plans for him.
Angel was currently packing a few necessary evils, pig’s blood, some changes of clothes, that sort of thing. When a sudden whiff of brimstone came to him. Whirling around prepared for anything that might have been sent his way he was shocked to find a towering blue skinned man with a flaming head of hair standing next to the wall casually leaning up against it.
“Who are you?” Angel demanded.
“Hi, how are ya, name is Hades, Lord of the Dead, great to finally meet a member of the Scourge of Europe,” the man greeted reaching out a long-fingered hand.
Angel growled at him. “I don’t care if you took the name of some mythological God,” he snapped. “What do you want?”
Hades grinned. “Mythological, guess you mortals would kind of think that way,” he remarked. “Trust me on this one, Angelus, I’m the real deal. I am a God!” Hades informed the flames on his body flaring up for emphasis. “I’ve got the power!” he added with a chuckle.
“Buffy just died killing a so-called God,” Angel rebutted with a glare.
Hades shook his head. “What’s with people these days?” he demanded. “You tell them you’re a god, but do you get cowering? No!” Whirling suddenly he stalked up to Angel getting dangerously close to the combustible vampire with his flames. “Listen here you ungrateful little punk, I mean business, I could have picked your grandchilde Spike for this assignment or that nut case fruit bar you turned, but I figured it’d be easier to go with someone not wallowing in self-pity or off the deep end and doing who knows what… Although a seer might be kind of useful for you, memo to me, pick up the Looney Toons chick and make her an offer,” Hades said more to himself than Angel.
“What’s the point?” Angel asked nervously taking a step back from the flammable demon.
“The point is I’ve come to cut you a deal,” Hades informed. “All I ask of you in return is a little respect, maybe a bit of groveling later on I haven’t quite decided on that part yet and… Oh yeah, I want you to seal the Hellmouths,” Hades stated almost as an afterthought.
Angel gaped at the ‘demon’. “You’re out of your mind.”
Hades began to flare up again only to suddenly calm down and adopt a quiet serene smile. “I get that a lot,” he said with a chuckle. “Try to take over the whole cosmos once and you’re, like, branded for life. But seriously, I’m in need of competent minions, my Imps are no help to me in this department and the rules have changed. The Powers are no longer in charge of the playing field anymore, time for me to clean house, seal a few Hellmouths, punish a few demon overlords trying to muscle into my territory, maybe redeem a few souls.” Hades smiled at that last comment and reached out to Angel, grabbing his wrist in his hand he started to burn and Angel flinched. But nothing happened.
Amazed at the fact that he was touching fire and not burning or losing an arm, Angel stared his gaze slowly rising to meet Hades’ eyes. “You really aren’t a demon are you?”
“Took you long enough,” Hades semi-complained.
“Then… You’re actually a God?” Angel breathed the words in an almost whisper. He couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Bingo bubala,” Hades stated snapping his fingers. “I’m in charge of the Underworld, where all souls eventually wind up… Before they get sorted into their respective religions’ afterlives of course,” Hades elaborated with a smile that revealed pointy sharp teeth.
“And you want me to reign it back in for you?” Angel asked beginning to grow confident again. If this God needed him then he might be able to pull a few strings, maybe he could even go to see Buffy, tell her she was still needed and convince her to come back.
“Don’t go getting all high and mighty on me,” Hades warned his smile twisting into something dark. “Believe you and me I could choose anybody in the world for this gig, but I decided… like I said, to cut you a deal.”
Angel eyed Hades curiously. “What kind of deal?” he asked. There wasn’t any harm in hearing the God out before he made his terms known to the ‘Lord of the Dead’.
Chuckling Hades draped an arm across Angel’s shoulder and led him – quite literally – through the wall. “It’s easier to show you.”
The sun was out and almost high in the sky, it was close to noon, Angel tried to flee the sun’s rays only to realize that he wasn’t catching on fire. He wasn’t turning to ash. He hadn’t experienced this since he’d use the Gem of Amara.
Smiling darkly Hades continued to lead him down the sidewalk. “See, now that I’m part of the process that the Powers first started, overseeing the balance or whatever Zeus has plans for…” Hades trailed off.
“Zeus,” Angel repeated shocked.
“Don’t mention my brother!” Hades cursed his flames growing out of control. “’Hem’ as I was saying, since I’m part of the process I can work somethin’ out for you.” Hades pulled out the Shanshu prophecy from his robes. “You want your redemption? You want your chance at being normal again? I can give that to you.”
“What’s the catch?” Angel wondered suspecting there was more to it than just that.
Chuckling slightly Hades rolled the prophecy back up and made it vanish. “Smart cookie, real smart… Normally I’d be interested in reclaimin’ that lovely little soul of yours. See I had dibs on it before those Gypsies cursed ya, but that’s not really important anymore. All I need from you is one tiny little thing, kind of insignificant really in the grand scheme of things. Wolfram & Hart, I want you to take over their L.A branch.”
Angel blinked. “I’m sorry, but what?” he demanded.
“See there’s this big cosmic mess that needs to be straightened out now that we’ve taken over, we being the other Gods and myself. Part of that mess involves a little something that Destiny had in store for you with this,” Hades explained once again pulling out the Shanshu prophecy. “Normally I could care less, but in order for you to seal the Hellmouths you’re going to need a couple of things I can’t just give you… That’s where Wolfram & Hart comes in, they’ve got the resources, they’ve got the know-how and they’ve got something we need. This little insignificant medallion they picked up a couple of centuries back, has the power to shut the Hellmouths back up. So you’re goin’ to have to take up the job as CEO or whatever it’s called. Just temporarily of course.”
Angel tried to wrap his head around what he was hearing, but it wasn’t easy. And it made him hesitate.
“I don’t have time to play games here, are you goin’ to help or what?” Hades demanded aggressively.
“You need me,” Angel stated realizing that Hades could be desperate.
“Need you?” Hades repeated a dangerous edge to his tone. Reaching out he grabbed Angel’s arm again only this time he turned it to ash with his touch.
Angel screamed in pain and backed up.
Hades gathered the ash in his hand and rubbed it between his fingers. “Need isn’t the right word. I come offering you your big chance and you think you can dictate to me?”
“How did you?” Angel asked gritting his teeth through the pain.
“Hello! I’m a God! I kind of have this thing with reading mortal’s thoughts,” Hades reminded tapping his head briefly. “Especially when they’re already part of my gang,” he added with a smirk. “Or did you think that demon inside of you came from some other Hell?”
Angel actually trembled slightly. “If I do this he’s gone?”
“Smart boy,” Hades remarked and he blew the ash back at Angel.
Angel stared at his now whole arm and flexed the muscles to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“Angelus won’t ever darken your door again,” Hades informed with a winning smile. “All you have to do is shake my hand,” he revealed reaching out his right hand.
Hesitantly Angel began to reach out for Hades’ outstretched hand. And then he stopped. “Can I see Buffy?” he demanded.
“Buffy?” Hades repeated mystified.
“Buffy Summers, she died recently,” Angel explained. “We were… Close.”
Hades’ eyes shone with mirth. “Oh sure, you’ll see your precious Buffy again,” he agreed. “After! You finish my little job,” he added.
Deciding that was the best he was going to get, Angel reached out and took Hades’ hand. “Fine,” he said.
Laughing Hades squeezed the hand tightly crushing bone.
Angel screamed as something was taken from him. A dark cloud of energy flowed out of him and danced around Hades’ hand. But it didn’t stay long, something happened that Angel couldn’t figure out and then the dark cloud, now filled with Hades’ fire, was put back into him. Painfully.
“Welcome to the team, son,” Hades said with a laugh before he vanished in a puff of smoke.
Angelus straightened up his eyes glowing and he smirked. “Thanks, dad,” he said with a chuckle as he generated a burst of flame in the palm of his hand. The newly created Demi-God glanced up at the sun and took in a deep breath. “He didn’t exactly lie,” he said to the vanished soul of Angel. “Guess it’s time to get my foot in the door over at good ol’ Wolfram & Hart,” he added setting his sights on the large high rise in the distance.To Be Continued