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Summary: It seems that the Scoobies family histories are more complicated than they had believed ...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > FantasyGladiusFR181053,4101610229,2938 Aug 1218 Jan 13No

Part 5

Disclaimer: Surprisingly, neither the characters of BtVS or the
themes of 'Scion' belong to me. Instead, they seem to belong to Joss
Wheadon and White Wolf, which seems very unfair to me.

Rating: MA15+(mostly for violence, language and occasional sex)

Spoilers: Beginning of Season Three for BtVS, just background info
for 'Scion'

Buffy came too in an extremely comfortable bed. After the crummy room she had been staying in for the past few weeks, it was heaven, and she felt the urge to just curl up, pull the covers up over her head, and just sleep.

Then she burst upright as she remembered the events of the night before … the fight in the hell dimension, rescuing the prisoners, meeting a literal goddess who claimed to be her adopted mother … learning that her real father was actually a Greek god!

Even for me, normal this is not!

Looking about, Buffy realised that she was in a large room, sparsely but tastefully decorated. One entire wall was taken up by an enormous glass window, the plaster walls were a comforting cream, and the floor was richly stained timber. It felt very open, very comfortable, and very Californian. So, not all that Greek, then, she mused. Throwing back the covers, she sprung to her feet, and was immediately struck by the ease of the motion. Oh, right. New extra-goddy powers. So far, this doesn’t suck.

She stretched out her arms and arched her back, easily rising to the tips of her feet, and luxuriated in the simple, clean feeling of strength in her limbs. Damn, I haven’t felt this good in the morning since … well, I don’t think I ever have felt this good! I feel like I’ve already had a couple of cups of coffee, but without the buzz. If this is what becoming a demigoddess feels like, I’ve got to do it more often!

Padding across the polished floorboards to the window, she saw that it included a subtle door which opened out to a deck, overlooked a brilliant view of a coastal city in the mid morning. The house must be built into the side of a mountain - Damn, that’s LA! With views like that, and the location, it all added up to … serious money.

Dragging herself away from the panoramic view, she noted the large full-length mirror standing in the corner, and walked over. Curious, she examined her reflection.

Well, at least I haven’t changed physically, she reassured herself, but wondered if it was really true. She wore a white silk slip that fell partway down her thighs, that clung to her curves … which suddenly seemed … curvier. Turning to one side, she traced one hand down her flank, pulling the silk taut and getting a clearer image of the flesh below. So I spoke too soon - sue me! Her breasts were slightly larger than before, but just as perky, completely ignoring gravity.

Lifting her hand up, she traced her other arm, noting slightly more definition in her arms - she was hardly in female bodybuilder territory, but defiantly more heavily muscled than before. She even seemed to have gained back all the weight she had lost in the last month, but instead of looking chunky as she sometimes feared, she simply looked fit and healthy.

Her eyes were then drawn to her neckline, and her hands reached up to touch her necklace. Someone had removed the cross Angel had given her, and placed it on the same chain as the amber pendant Artemis had given her, so both rested against her chest. She lifted the pendant up to the light, and if she squinted, could barely see a small dark shape trapped within the petrified sap. Huh. I though amber took millions of years to form. Then how did a piece of forty-year old spaceship get in there? she wondered. Then she felt like face palming herself. Right. Goddess. Gotcha.

Thinking about her pendant reminded her of Artemis’ other gifts, and her hands shot to her bare wrists. Panic set in as she whirled about, but settled down as she spotted her bracers, set on a low table next to the bed. Loosing a literal gift from the gods - or at least a goddess - would not be of the good … especially after only one night.

A tapping sound drew her attention, and she turned to see the room’s door opening. A young woman stuck her head in, and smiled as she saw Buffy. “Good morning, miss! Matriarch Valerie would like to know if you would join her for breakfast in the dining room?”

Buffy blinked, then felt like an absolute idiot. The whole goddess thing, then waking up here, the view and the cosmic makeover, she had completely spaced out on her host, who’s home it was. Honestly, after arriving back on Earth she had virtually collapsed, and barely remembered following her out to her limo, where she had promptly fallen asleep, only to wake up …

… in this room. “Um, yeah. No problem. Uh, where is that, exactly?”

The smile the other girl sent her was bright and cheery, entirely fitting for that morning. “Well, how about you get dressed,” she suggested, indicating where a blue silk robe was hanging against the wall, “And I’ll show you.”

“Just a minute,” she said, and padded over to the bed and snatched up her bracers. Slipping them over her hands, she was relieved to see them shrink over her wrists as they had the night before.

“Right: lets go.”

*** *** ***

Cordelia parked her convertible and unbuckled her seatbelt. “All right, Harm, Xander said he and Willow were going to be here training for a few hours this morning, so they should be finishing about now. They may resist: that’s okay. Remember, this is for their own good, and in this case, their good is our good. Got it?”

Harmony nodded firmly. “Got it.”

“Right. Lets get to work,” Cordelia ordered, and exited the car, quickly followed by Harmony.

The Rosenberg house was fairly large for a suburban home, a testament to the success that Ira and Sheila enjoyed with their books, tours and lectures. The front door was open, so the two girls entered and moved through the hall towards the rear. Even before reaching the back door, the sound of grunting and flesh slapping on flesh drew their attention. An odd sense of anticipation hit Cordy as she pushed the door open, and led Harmony out onto the back deck.

As backyards went, it was fairly ordinary. Large, yes, but plain mown grass. The yard was surrounded by a high, brick wall and planted with tall trees that managed to provide a certain amount of privacy.

And it was a good thing, too, because at the time the occupants of the back yard were apparently involved in beating one another to death.

Cordelia blinked as Willow swung her left fist backhanded at Xander’s head, a blow that he blocked easily on his forearm, but the block pulled his arm up. With his guard out of position, he just pulled back in time to avoid the right she shot at his short-ribs. Flowing smoothly, the redhead dropped to one knee and aimed a clenched fist at Xander’s left knee, striking at the inside edge of the joint.

Cordy’s gut clenched at the impact, afraid for a moment that Willow had actually attacked Xander: as a cheerleader, Cordelia was intimately familiar with joints, particularly those in the leg. She had seen more injuries on the sidelines than most people would expect, and she knew that the sort of injury that resulted from a strike like that could be crippling.

Fortunately, Willow had pulled her punch: as her fist contacted Xander’s knee, both scions had frozen, then Xander looked down and grinned. “Nice, Wills! Very nice! I think you’re getting the hang of this,” he said, reaching down a hand to help Willow to her feet.

“Yeah, and it’s only taken me, oh, about three hours?” answered Willow somewhat ruefully, reaching up to take Xander’s offered hand.

As the Xander helped her stand, Cordelia’s eyes were drawn to her boyfriend’s appearance. He was dressed in baggy brown drawstring pants and a white singlet, he latter of which showed off arms and shoulders that were surprisingly developed. Wow, he didn’t have those when I left for Mexico, she thought as she ran her gaze over his form, noting the light sheen of sweat covering his skin, but his movements were sure and steady, showing no sign of fatigue.

Almost against her will, her attention turned to Willow, who was showing a surprising amount of skin. Mostly, she wore clothing that was either unflattering or baggy, depending on whether she or her mother had chosen her clothes. Today, instead, she wore black lycra shorts that went to just above her knees, and a rust-red sports bra that produced more cleavage than Cordy would have expected. The sunlight glittered off the perspiration on her pale skin, drawing attention to the expanse of her trim stomach and the clean lines of her limbs. As the redhead stepped back from Xander and reached up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, Cordelia was forced to admit, to herself at least, that Willow Rosenberg was damned hot. At least when not actively trying to remain unnoticed. Then she‘s just cute.

A quick glance to her left and Cordy suppressed a sigh. Harmony’s eyes were fixed on Xander, her hands clenched together at her waist. Turning back to face the training scions, she said softly, but firmly, “We could extend your punishment, if you like.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Harmony flinch as she realised what she was doing, then drop her gaze to her shoes, and Cordy suppressed a smile of satisfaction.

*** *** ***

Xander grinned hard enough that he was slightly worried about his face actually splitting open. Ever since his Visitation, his senses had been going into overdrive, in a way that he hadn’t experienced since the year before, when he had had the … incident … at the zoo. So he had known Cordy had arrived when he heard the distinctive purr of her convertible out front, and saw her and Harmony exit the back door minutes later. Willow, however, was too focused on their practice to notice their audience.

And such an appreciative audience it is, he mused as he helped Willow to her feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see both girls looking at him with … a considerable amount of heat. The good kind. There might even be a little drool.

Then he almost tripped as his sensitive hearing picked up Cordelia mentioning punishment, and he noticed Harmony’s blush and contrite expression. He had a very un-PC moment as he flashed to a fantasy scene involving Cordy with a rising crop and leather boots, and Harmony in a leather collar and not much else.

A small, tinny voice in the back of his head was screaming at him, insisting that he should be ashamed of himself, imagining his girlfriend that way.

He squashed that voice as hard as he could. I go out most nights and fight things that only exist in most people’s nightmares, and occasionally help stop the End of Days! My life, my sanity and occasionally my soul are constantly at risk, so I think it’s acceptable for me to enjoy some female attention. I’m the teenaged son of a Norse fertility deity, for Odin’s sake! It’s practically in the job description!

Annoying little voices of morality aside, the whole morning had been fantastic. After arriving, Willow had ushered him into the backyard before rushing upstairs to change into her workout clothes. He had long known Willow was a pretty girl. Hell, even the previous Halloween had shown that she could do hot and wild, too. But when she walked out the back door, dressed for hot and sweaty training with a saucy smile on her face, he had almost twisted his leg where he was stretching against a tree. Maybe it was her new confidence, or a holy aura of attraction, but damn Willow was gorgeous.

After a little discussion, they had moved into training mode. Xander began by demonstrating the basics of strikes, starting with the correct way to punch. Despite her successes against the vampires when they rescued Cordy and Harmony, still punched like a girl.

That was the first thing they fixed.

Xander was surprised at how fast Willow had taken to the basics - how to stand, to strike, to fall. Whether it was a natural affinity for martial arts, or her already prodigious memory being enhanced by her new powers, she mastered the basic movements fast, making few mistakes, and never the same one twice. He found himself reaching deeper into Soldier Boy’s memories to keep finding new moves to show her than he had anticipated.

He was still stronger, and had a slight edge in speed, but she was catching up. True, she lacked the experience to adapt quickly to changes, but that would come with time. Now she knew how to hit hard and fast, and knew some excellent moves and combinations. In a long fight against an experienced opponent who matched her physically, she wouldn’t do so well, but for a beginner she was doing great.

Willow settled into a comfortable position, extending one foot towards Xander, then started and blinked. “Hey, it’s Cordelia. And Harmony. In my yard. Xander, why are Cordelia and Harmony in my yard?”

We still have some work to do with situational awareness, he thought as he relaxed and gestured for Willow to do the same. “Let’s find out. Hey, Cordy!” he waved, jogging over to where the girls were standing, and paused a moment to admire his girlfriend.

Cordy was wearing a black knit top, sleeveless but with a turtleneck, and tight grey pants that descended to mid calf and strappy heeled sandals. With her hair pulled back into a ponytail, she looked stunning, as always. He reached up and put one hand on her shoulder, and used the other to cup her cheek. “Cordelia Chase, I might be descended from gods, but you’re divine.”

She snorted and swatted his chest. “Could you get any cheesier, Harris?” she snarked, but her eyes danced with delight. Then her attention turned to Willow, who was just walking over. “Hey, Willow. I hope you don’t mind, but Xan said you two would be working out this morning, and we were thinking you two could use a break about now.”

“’We’?” asked Willow, reaching down to pick up a discarded towel and began wiping her face and chest, while vaguely indicating Harmony.

“Yeah, I mean, Harmony wanted to come with, so here we are,” said Cordelia, somewhat lamely.

Then Harmony stepped forwards. She was dressed in a floral pink sundress, with her hair hanging loose about her shoulders. “Yeah, look, I’m totally repentant here, Willow. You and Xander saved my life the other night, and I’m, like, major grateful. I know I haven’t always been the nicest person in Sunnydale,” she said, then rolled her eyes at Willow’s expression. “Okay, understatement, I know. But I’ve been doing some serious thinking, and I am so sorry for how I’ve acted, like, forever. I owe you guys big time, so I‘m here to start making amends.”

“And we start with fixing your image,” said Cordelia, giving Xander a light shove. “You, go shower - you stink.”

Xander grinned, “I like to think of it more as a manly musk.”

“Like I said - stink. Meanwhile, we,” she stated, threading one arm through Willow’s, and started pulling her towards the back door, “will be seeing what Willow has in her closet that’s appropriate to wear for some serious shopping.”

“But what about me? Aren’t you gonna pre-approve my clothes?” Xander teased, picking up his own towel and draping it over his shoulders.

“Xan, I’ve seen your wardrobe,” retorted Cordelia, pulling a bewildered Willow inside, Harmony trailing behind, “Believe me, getting you something decent to wear is first on our list!”

*** *** ***

Buffy followed her guide through the enormous house, at once reminded of Artemis’ lunar abode and aware of the differences: the house in the hills was build to a more mortal scale, and with more mundane style and materials. That was a palace; this was a home.

“So …” started Buffy, causing the other girl to look back over her shoulder. “Amazon, heh? How’s that working out for you?”

The taller girl laughed. “Fairly well, actually.” She came to a halt and offered her hand. “I’m Patricia, by the way.”


Patricia smiled. “Yeah, I know. We actually met last night - well, we weren’t introduced or anything, but I helped you get into the limo.”

Buffy frowned. But it was one of the guards that - She broke off as she actually looked at the other girl.

Patricia was a hair under six feet tall, had wide shoulders and amazing muscle definition. She sported a deep tan, light blond hair pulled into a braid that thumped against the small of her back, and some of the bluest eyes Buffy had ever seen. Barefoot and wearing dark blue exercise shorts and a pale blue tank top, she looked more like a top flight athlete turned bikini model than anything else …

… then Buffy imagined her in body armor and toting an assault rifle, and nodded. “I remember.” Gesturing that they should continue, she asked, “So, assuming I know nothing about Amazons outside of an episode of ‘Hercules’, what’s the basics? How’d you get this gig?”

Patricia giggled, an incongruous sound from such a large girl, and it did things to her impressive chest that would probably have sent Xander into convulsions. “Same way you did, I’m afraid: It’s inherited. My mom was an Amazon, her mom, hers … all the way back to, well, the beginning. Being Amazons give us an edge,” she admitted, flexing a bicep bigger than any Buffy had seen on a girl (well, on any girl that actually looked female, that was). “We don’t have your kind of strength, speed or stamina, but we’re pretty much at the limits of human ability, and we barely need to exercise.” She grinned, showing perfect white teeth. “I just enjoy it, so I’m a bit more buff than most of us.”

“Uhuh,” said Buffy, who traditionally did the least amount of training she could get away with. “And the whole, you know, no boys thing?”

Patricia shrugged. “That’s pretty well genetic too. Don’t get me wrong: men have their uses, true - no more Amazons without them - but have you ever tried having a conversation with one of them?” She blew a lock of hair out of her eyes with a dismissive puff.

“Right,” said Buffy noncommittally, eyeing the Power Girl look-alike out of the corner of her eye. I wonder what could possibly distract guys talking to you, she wondered somewhat enviously. Not that she was in any way unsatisfied with her own body, even pre-Artemis, but the blond Amazon was simply … statuesque.

Eventually Patricia led her into a large dining room. Like the room she had slept in, it featured rich wooden floors and vaulted ceiling, and an enormous window that opened out to a fabulous view of Los Angeles. She was so drawn to the gorgeous vista, she failed to notice the woman sitting at the table, sitting comfortably, legs crossed and dressed in a sky-blue silk robe, smiling at her. “Oh, sorry,” she said, feeling herself blush in embarrassment.

“It’s quite alright,” purred the woman, who Buffy recognised as the lady she had bet the night before. “Please, have a seat. Patricia? Please bring Miss Summers a plate - something light, some fruit and cheese?”

The tall blond nodded, and strode out of the room. The woman smiled again at Buffy. “So … how do you feel?”

Buffy paused a moment, sinking into the proffered chair. “Still a bit numb, I think,” she admitted.

She nodded. “Of course. I imagine that the revelations of last night were somewhat overwhelming.”

Buffy frowned. “And you know about all that, how exactly?”

The matron laughed, a musical sound that made her suddenly much younger. “Oh, dear girl, I cannot blame you for being somewhat suspicious. Please, allow me to begin again?” At Buffy’s hesitant nod, she recrossed her legs and picked up a tea cup, peering at the former Slayer through the steam. “My name, you may recall, is Valerie, and I am Matriarch of the Amazon Nation in Los Angeles. Lady Artemis, whom I worship, visited me in my dreams last night, and commanded my presence in that basement. I arrived barely in time, and was able to recover those poor souls you rescued from that dreadful place. Be assured, they are all quite safe, and should recover from their ordeals.”

“What about Lilly?” asked Buffy, concerned for the waif. She barely knew her, but having literally gone to Hell and back to help her, she felt entitled to know.

“Also safe. She barely left your side last night, even after you passed out. She finally allowed us to put her to bed a few hours ago, and should be waking sometime this afternoon. The dear girl seems quite devoted to you.”

Buffy shrugged, again somewhat embarrassed. “Eh, I think I’m the only person she knows in LA.”

“I’m sure,” responded the Matriarch, obviously unconvinced, “In any case, I have been charged to act as your guide for a time, to allow you to adjust to your new station in life, and to lend you my support.”

Their discussion was interrupted by the return of the Nordic Patricia, carrying a large plate of what looked to be delicious food. She placed the tray in front of Buffy, then spoke softly to Valerie. The older blond nodded, and Patricia withdrew again, her braid swinging behind her like a pendulum. “Please, eat. You must be hungry.”

Buffy nodded, picking up an orange slice. “It’s been a while since I ate,” she admitted as she popped the piece of fruit into her mouth, and moaned as the sweet juice flooded her mouth.

Valerie smiled at the girl’s delight. “A fortunate side effect of your Visitation should mean that you need to eat far less often - I’ve know scions who only needed to eat every month or so. Not that it restricts you from eating three times a day, just that you don‘t actually have to.”

Sweet, mused Buffy as she swallowed a slice of apple. Being a Slayer had meant that she needed to eat more, something that her California-raised attitudes rebelled against.

“On the other hand, if you do choose to eat, it is unlikely that you will gain any undue weight - your metabolism should keep you trim and healthy.”

Double sweet! she thought. Carbs: the defeated enemy! Already this is so much better than being the Slayer! Finishing her mouthful, she reached for the glass of orange juice. “Any downsides?”

Valerie shrugged. “I’m told the demands of a divine parent can be quite … demanding. The greater the gifts the gods bestow, the more they demand of us.”

Buffy nodded, having divined as much. “So, Auntie Art said something about titans? What’s that all about?”

The Matriarch paused a moment to mouth the words ‘Aunty Art’?, but recovered quickly. “Alas, although Lady Artemis has many fine qualities, she sometimes … skips some details. I personally choose to believe it is her hunter’s instinct, concentrating on a single target at a time. My cousin, who worships Freya, insists that she is simply absent minded.” She smiled. “Fortunately, our Lady is one of the few Olympians with a well developed sense of humor.”

Buffy looked up. “Hold on - not that having you worshiping my … aunt … doesn’t freak me out a bit, but your cousin doesn’t?”

Valerie placed her cup down on the table, and poured herself another helping of tea with a stately motion. “Whilst many of my Sisters worship the Huntress, many choose to follow other goddesses. True, there are tribes and clans of Amazons who worship single deities, but most in North America are somewhat more … eclectic. Call it the American influence, freedom of religion and all that. In other lands, Amazon nations can be far less progressive.

“In any case, I suppose I should start at the beginning: the time of the Titans, and the rise of the gods. Long ago, the world we know was ruled by beings of immense power and limited sanity, whom their bastard children called the Titans. These children eventually rose up to rebel against their parents …”

*** *** ***

Xander groaned as the group entered the parking station. “I am never going shopping with you guys ever again!”

“Suck it up, dweebo,” retorted Cordelia, slapping him on the chest with her free hand. “Getting you properly dressed was practically a public service.”

“Yeah, you look good,” came Willow’s comment from his other side. The redhead was wearing the slack and blouse combo from the other night, and actually seemed to have had fun with the shopping, which Xander simply could not fathom. Still, he had to admit that with the Cordettes help, she had selected clothes that looked great on her.

In his case Cordelia had insisted on jeans, dark slacks and shirts in non-primary colors, plus a couple of pairs of boots. He was forced to admit, at least to himself, that it felt good to not be dressed like the class clown. Xander, King of Cretins, whom all lesser cretins must bow before, was in his past. Xander, Son of Sif, Hero of the Aesir and Vanir, was his future, and that called for a slightly more … serious outlook. Thus he was wearing his new dark-blue polo shirt, black jeans and steel-toed boots.

“Yeah, well, I suppose it could be worse,” he acquiesced. Then he smiled. “And maybe when we get back to your place, you can show off some of your other purchases,” he said with a suggestive leer.

Cordelia grinned back. Earlier in the shopping trip, she had shooed Xander away, ordering him to peruse the computer-game shops and ‘other guy-type stuff’ while the girls visited Victoria’s Secret. When Willow realised their destination, even her newfound confidence quailed, and the other two had to grasp her arms on either side and frogmarch her inside. Of course, looking back, Cordelia realised that her resistance had been mostly for show: the redhead was now many times stronger than her companions, and if she had been truly reluctant to enter, there was doubtless nothing they could have done to move her.

Once inside, Willow had relaxed, or at least resigned herself to the experience, and despite a seemingly permanent flush, had thrown herself into the selection of frilly fripperies. To her surprise, the notorious shop contained not only underwear, but dresses and other articles of female clothing - all tastefully sexy, of course. Of the actual lingerie, most was, somewhat predictably, tailored for women of Cordelia’s stature and shape, but Willow managed to find several ensembles that the Cordettes assured her were both classy and sexy.

“The goal isn’t just to make him horny,” had confided Cordelia over her shoulder as she stood in front of the floor-length mirror, adjusting the fit of the low-cut lacy-black bra she was trying on. “although that’s a benefit: makes them think it’s all for them. Hell, they’ll even pick up the tab if you play it right. Girls don’t need lingerie for that. Mostly, its about making you feel sexy. Confident. Powerful. Even a bit naughty. Even if you just wear them under your normal clothes, and never show them off, you know your wearing them. And if you do choose to let your guy see you in them, you know it’s because you choose to, and any reaction he has is because of you.”

The buxom brunette had then twisted to examine the fitting of the matching thong panties she was wearing. “Of course, there’s the type that you only wear long enough for him to peel it off you, but that’s usually uncomfortable. Best keep that for special occasions,” she advised.

In between blushing deeply and trying on clothes, Willow admitted that things had gotten heated after pulling Oz into the back of his van that night. She blushed mightily as she related that they hadn’t “you know, done it,” but both had ended up topless and sweaty. “Sometimes I had to be careful not to squeeze too hard, or I’d hurt him,” she found herself saying. “I think I must have almost popped one of his ribs! Plus there’s the whole needing to breath thing …”

In hindsight, Cordelia marvelled at the fact that they had managed to meet back up with Xander without Willow passing out from blood flowing to her cheeks and neck rather than her overdeveloped cortex.

The quartet were now approaching Cordelia’s car, which already contained several loads of packages. Harmony winced as she realised just how much the group had spent that day. “Damn. I hope I can convince Daddy that these were necessary expenses,” she mumbled.

Willow smiled, and leaned closer to the blond. “Don’t worry about that. I kinda fixed it.”

The group paused and all eyes turned to her. “Huh?” asked Cordelia eloquently.

Before Willow could respond, Xander’s ears pricked up, alerting him to a series of footfalls approaching behind him. He whirled about to see a motley collection of about a dozen stereotypical thugs drawing near, ranging from a balding bikie with a long beard and a beer gut, to a Latino punk in a leather jacket and a bandanna. An odd standout was the thirty-something housewife in heels and silk blouse, but she shared the same look of grim determination that filled the eyes of the entire group. Knives, baseball bats and other lethal items were in evidence, and violence was not simply a possibility, but inevitable.

Just as the girls were starting to realise that something was wrong, a squealing of tyres drew Xander’s attention again, and he saw that, while the thugs cut off the way back to the mall, a grey panel van fishtailed to a halt between them and the parking station’s exit. The Scoobies were trapped.

In a smooth motion, Xander drew Fafnir, a clear signal to the others that Bad Things were about to happen. Understanding, Willow dropped her parcels and darted over to the convertible, grabbing her blade from where it had been hidden under her jacket on the back seat. Thus the two Scions set themselves with Cordelia and Harmony between them, swords bared and faces grim.

Even as the van door slid open, Xander knew that whoever or whatever was inside could be catagorized as Not Good. His instinct was confirmed when two huge hands reached out to grasp the doorframe, and the van rocked on its shocks as an enormous figure hauled itself out.

“Damn,” muttered Xander as the giant (for what else could it be?) stood up to its full nine foot height, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!” The giant was broad enough to look short, and wore loose trousers and a tank top over icy-blue skin, and its beard resembled a collection of icicles hanging from a backwoods cabin’s roof. Not that I’ve really seen one, being a Callie boy, but hell, I’ve seen ‘em on TV!

Honestly, the things that go through one’s mind in times of crisis.

The giant’s breath smoked in the warm Californian air, and its eyes were alive with rage, hate and a strange hunger that sent shivers down Xander’s spine.

Willow risked a glance over her shoulder, and winced as she saw the foe Xander was facing. “Frost giant, which makes these creeps,” she turned back to the oncoming mortals and settled her stance, “thralls.” He could hear the frustration and fear in her voice, and he knew why.

Giants were one of the more common varieties of titanspawn, and featured prominently in the files Hephaestus had gifted his daughter with. Aside from their enormous strength and vigour (not to mention bad attitudes), their most insidious common ability was to feed a mortal on their eitr, their magical blood, and instil in them great physical power, at the cost of free will and a fair amount of brains.

For all that, thralls were still humans, and despite having slain vampires and fought demons, the Scoobies as a group were still fairly innocent. They had basically dedicated their lives to protecting people, and the thought of fighting humans … or even having to kill them, was horrifying to contemplate.

Harmony clutched at Cordy’s arm, and her eyes went wide in fear, her attention snapping between the thugs and the giant. Being mortals, neither girl could see the giant’s true visage, and simply saw an incredibly tall, badly dressed man who nevertheless seemed to radiate menace. They could tell from Xander and Willow’s reactions that they were in deep trouble.

“So the tale is true,” rumbled the giant, smirking at Xander who stood grimly in his path. “A pair of godlings in this frost-forsaken town! And a pretty pair of mortals, to boot! Tell me, hero, when you awoke this morning, did you realise that it would be your last dawn?”

Damn, someone hasn’t read the Evil Overlords list, Xander thought idly as he shifted his grip on Fafnir. Now, what would Buffy do? Baffle him with witty repartee, then kick his ass? “We all gotta die sometime, ugly,” he stated simply. Riiight, that’ll show him, numb-nuts! he silently berated himself. Willow’s right - this part is far tougher than it looks! “Sooner for some than others. Wanna help me demonstrate?” Better.

The giant laughed, a hideous sound. “Brave words, little man. But they will avail you nothing. Thralls! Subdue the females - I’ll deal with the boy.”

“Xander!” His heart quivered at the fear in his friend’s voice, but he forced himself to remain calm.

“Will, keep the girls safe,” he said, without taking his eyes off the giant. “Alright, Mr Freeze, let me introduce you to the dragon,” he said in what he hoped was a menacing tone, spinning his blade in a move he remembered from too many hours watching ‘Highlander: the Series’.

The frost giant glanced down at Xander’s sword, and chuckled dismissively. Reaching back into the van, he hauled out a massive metal club that looked like it had been hacked out of an I-beam. “Mine’s bigger,” he said.

Desperately trying to hide his apprehensions, Xander shrugged. “Eh, it’s not the metal, it’s the motion,” he declared, then leapt forwards and swung his sword at his foe.

*** *** ***

Willow was sweating, and not in a good way. The group was caught between a frigging giant and it’s enthralled minions, and the latter group seemed intent on keeping the three girls from interfering with some macho male duel thingy the giant was having with Xander. Her heart was in her throat with concern for her best friend, but her stomach felt like a lump of stone in fear as the rag-tag bunch approached.

Willow Rosenberg was not a confrontational person by nature. Even since becoming a Scoobie, she concentrated more on supporting Buffy, Angel and to a lesser extent Xander in their fighting, plus becoming a dab hand with a crossbow.

But she had never had to fight real people before. Vampires, demons, werewolves she could handle, but people? Dammit, the Scoobies were supposed to protect people, not fight them …

The moments of introspection was over as one of the thugs rushed forwards, swinging a baseball bat in an overhead blow with wild abandon and impressive power. “Eeek!” squeaked Willow, before her instincts kicked in. Her rapier flicked up, redirecting the bat so that it missed her head, and reached out and grabbed the off balance thug’s collar with her left hand. His eyes widened in surprise as she stepped forwards and bodily flung him backwards, his bat clattering to the concrete, to collide with two more thugs, knocking them to the ground and delaying the attack.

She took a deep breath and raised her blade up to her lips in a challenging salute. Outwardly, she was confident and serene.

Inside, she was babbling. Idon’twannadothisIdon’twannadothis!

Forcing calm, she shifted her stance, moving so that she stood side-on to the mob, sword raised above and behind her head pointed towards the foe. “Alright - who’s next?”

*** *** ***

Despite his concerns, Xander was actually fairly confident as he struck at the giant. His newfound strength and speed gave him confidence, and Fafnir hadn’t let him down yet. He brought his blade down in a right-to-left slice, aiming to cut open the giant’s abdomen and end the fight quickly.

Reality did not match up to his intent.

Fafnir was intercepted mid swing by the steel club wielded by the frost giant, and with a hideous clang Xander’s Birthright Relic was knocked flying from his hand. His eyes widened in shock at the sudden reversal, and barely noticed the massive fist that was headed for his face.

Noticing and avoiding were, he decided, two very different things.

He must have blacked out for a second, because the next thing he knew he was face down on the ground, desperately trying to clear the ringing from his ears. Unfortunately, his hearing was still damned good, and he heard what the giant was saying.

“Pathetic! Is that truly the best you can do? I came here seeking a child of gods, and instead I find a weakling who thinks carrying a sword makes him dangerous!”

Groaning, Xander forced himself up to his knees, and turned back to face the giant, but before he could rise to his feet, a massive hand grabbed his shoulder and lifted him up. He found himself flying through the air, and crashed into a parked car, smashing the windscreen. For a moment he couldn’t move, the shock of the attack too much for him to process. He barely managed to start breathing again before the giant siezed his ankle.

“Nooo!” he yelped as the giant pulled and swung, sending him flying again to crash into the side of the van. The giant’s grating laugh sounded like icefloes rubbing up against one another.

“Damn it, this is just too easy! Come on, boy, get up! Give me a real fight!”

Gasping and groaning, Xander grabbed the bumper of the van and used it to haul himself to his feet. Come on, Xan-man, you can do it! The girls are counting on you! In the background, he could see Willow kicking butt, punching, kicking and hurling thugs to keep them away from the mortal girls, but there were so many of the thralls, and the damn things kept getting up. Unless Willow actually started to really let loose, they were simply going to be overwhelmed.

Snarling, he launched himself at the giant, but his tormenter caught his fist in his meaty left hand, and started to squeeze. Xander gasped and grasped at his wrist, and hoped the popping sounds he was hearing was just in his head.

In desperation, he kicked out, actually connecting with the giant’s knee. It was a good solid hit, he could feel the leg move under his heel, and he heard the giant grunt in pain. Then he chuckled again, that awful sound like cracking ice. “Heh, I actually felt that!” Then he struck down with his right hand, sending Xander spinning back hard enough to dent the side of the van as he crashed into it. This time he managed to keep to his feet, but it availed him little as he turned back to the fight.

His head still swimming from the vicious blows he had sustained, he saw the hammer strike coming, but couldn’t find the strength to avoid it. Lights exploded behind his eyes again as he crumpled to the ground, and there was a strange whistling sound in his ears. I … I think I’m hurt pretty bad, he thought absently, as he lay face-down on the concrete.

“So, you did your best,” admitted the giant in a conversational tone. “You fought, and you lost. And now I’m gonna cripple you, so you stay put while me and my guys have some fun with your pretty ladies. Heh, maybe the redheads’ survive, right? I mean, you hear stories about bitch heroes, and how tough they are, so I’m looking forward to finding out if their true.

“And you know the best part?” asked the giant, leaning over the fallen Scion as horror filled Xander‘s mind. “Is that there is you can do to stop me, you useless, weak, pathetic waste of ichor.

“This is gonna be fun.”
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