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Rules for Challenges

In Hell as it is in Heaven (Old version)

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Summary: YAHF: Some people don’t like rules. Others are expert at changing them when they don’t suit them. Thanks to the meddling of an old cosmic entity, Joyce Summers was about to become very familiar with someone from the latter category.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > Multiple Anime
Miscellaneous > Myths & Legends
(Current Donor)kedrannFR18528,332126814,34128 Oct 1225 Nov 12Yes

The Demon and The Slayer

Author notes: and here comes the third chapter of this story. In a way, it can be considered the end of the pilot episode. I hope you will enjoy it.

Buffy looked at Giles as he came up the stairs. He had red marks like her and horns. Just like the strange demon in the kitchen, he didn’t feel evil. Quite on the contrary, his gaze felt softer, like the one of a kind grandfather.

She felt Willow hugging her, telling her that it was their time to be strong for her, that she should rest. She heard Xander say something about a goatee and noticed that Giles indeed had one now, as well as pointed nails like De Niro in Angel Heart.

“Sleep,” said Giles, touching her brow.

She tried to resist but the part of her that was Mara recognized a spell woven with the casual efficiency of a first class demon. She fell soundly asleep in Willow’s arms.

“Was that necessary?” asked Willow.

“She’s near the breaking point,” replied the former Watcher, lifting his Slayer in his arms. “Come with me, we will settle her in my office so that she rests.”

They followed him as they reached one of the few remaining parts of the library and he laid her on his office’s couch. “Xander, can you get me the blanket in that cupboard?”

“Here, Giles,” replied the young god, handing the item.

“When she wakes up…” said Willow.

“Rest will do her a lot of good, help her to weather the shock.  Once she is awake, I will discuss with her without… drama.”

He ushered them out of the office, closing the door behind them.

“It’s strange… I mean Will and I, even Cordelia here, we’re not affected as she is by that…” said Xander.

“It’s actually easy to understand,” said Cordelia. “Willow, you knew a lot about the story telling Urd’s adventures, right?”

“Yes, it’s a manga, a Japanese comic, called Ah! My Goddess!”

“So you had an idea of where you were going… and you gained a supermodel body in the deal. Xander here is probably playing with Heimdall’s vision given the way he stares at walls, so I will say the cool factor helped a lot. As for me, I will never have to worry about wrinkles and that makes a lot. But Buffy… you remember how she said that her family and friends was an important part of what made her continue the fight?”

Willow looked at Cordelia and had another of her typical ‘Urd’ smiles. She wondered if the school queen that had bullied her for years realized how much Peorth was influencing her. This was still snarky enough to be Cordelia, but it showed concern instead of a will to dominate her entourage.

“And now, because of what happened, she feels like she lost us,” said Xander. “Even worse, Mrs. Summers being H… Hild…”

“I’m afraid that’s correct,” said Giles. “Unfortunately, we will all have to make with those changes.”

“It cannot be undone?” asked Xander.

“Not with anything in our current reach,” replied the former Watcher. “We would need a full-blown Yggdrasil and Nidhogg, plus this world’s Tupsimati.”

“What’s the Tup… thinga…” asked Xander.

“Tupsimati,” said Willow. “Xander, that’s the Babylonian version of the Infinity Gauntlet.”

“Oh… that bad,” said the teenager, remembering the comics where this gauntlet appeared and what it could do.

“There is another thing to consider,” said Cordelia, once again feeling Peorth’s knowledge seep through her. “This world’s gods, those Powers That Be you told us about, will really not appreciate our creation. You also said that they used champions like the Slayer rather than intervening directly. Given how they treat Buffy, I mean with the whole Master debacle, we will be at war with them as well as the ‘other’ demons sooner than later. Tabarnak! Given how this world is managed, I’m up for a revolution!”

Decidedly have to give her a ‘Vive le Québec libre!’ banner, thought Willow, smiling, while Cordelia materialized a red rose in her hand and started to inhale its aroma. Willow remembered some things about Peorth, things coming from Urd. Peorth had spent a lot of time in that place, when it was still a French colony, to help accomplish the wish of a man who wanted to better the relations between the colons and the natives. She had returned there, from time to time and could in many ways be considered the patron goddess of the province.

“That’s why you’re helping, Giles, right?” asked Willow.

“Yes, that’s why I am helping. Our encounters with Whistler in the last year left me with few illusions on the Powers and I know how the Watchers’ Council will react. The only thing that will give us a little time is that both the demons and the Powers will hesitate to make a too important move, out of fear that the other took advantage of a momentary weakness.”

“Little practical question,” asked Xander. “I’m Heimdall, Willow’s Urd and Cordelia’s Peorth…”

“Not any demon you know, as… that part of me comes from a different world. His name is Malphas and he is the President of the Devil Council in his world.”

“But you have demon marks,” said Cordelia

“They are new. We had to link everyone to Nidhogg and Yggdrasil, which is why devils from Malphas’ world have red marks and angels blue ones. We also recognize Joyce’s authority as the Daimakaicho.”

“Is it a dream?” asked Buffy as she looked at the desert dunes.

“Rather a mindscape,” replied a feminine voice on her left.

The Slayer turned and saw a woman in a rather racy black leather outfit. In many ways, she was an older version of herself, looking maybe around thirty but Buffy also recognized some of the traits she had seen in the mirror, earlier in the morning, like the golden, wavy hair or the demon marks.

“You’re Mara… and what’s a mindscape?”

“A place in your mind, kind of a virtual reality for meetings between spirits. We’re actually three here.”


“She’s lurking somewhere in the dunes, probably hunting a metaphorical gazelle or something. She is the part of you that is the Slayer. Don’t expect her to have much of a conversation though.”

“Why are you still here? You should have left when… Hild ended the transformation spell.”

“There is hope… I’m not here, not in the sense you think. This shape is just a program I left behind because I expected some difficulties with you. It can use my memories in you to give you the illusion that I am here. If you prefer, this copy of me is a little like a vampire, not alive but faking it not too badly.”

“Not the best way to convince me you’re going to play nice…”

“Probably but I have to work with what I have. As your mother said during breakfast, your knowledge on the supernatural is both limited and biased. As a matter of fact, you do not seem really interested in understanding why.”

“What can I say? I’m not a research girl.”

“This is not about research, Buffy,” said Mara, shaking her head. “I know that you did not ask to be the Slayer or to become a demon. If you could, you would like no more than to be an insouciant teenager. But some asses who spit on free will stuck you with the Slayer and you felt compelled to use the power to protect others from monsters. Somehow, you resigned yourself to the idea that you would die young. To be honest, I’m one of the best things that happened to you since the Slayer activated, the other being the presence of your friends.”

“Really?” asked Buffy with a derisive smile.

“Really,” replied Mara, in a tone that left little place to uncertainty. “Last night, after I taught your pal Spike to respect his betters, I made some analyses on you and the Slayer. The results… In a way I was impressed by the level of ruthlessness of the people who created the thing.”

“Eh… Not sure I understand here.”

“From what I could extract from the Slayer’s memories… a long time ago, some human sorcerers did two things to create the first Slayer. First, they captured and tortured a powerful demon, remolding it into a barely sentient thing capable to enhance its host. Second, to create the bond with the girls that would be called in the future… well you all have a common ancestor, a woman who had five daughters. The eldest daughter was tortured too, violated in every part of her essence by the entity the sorcerers created. She became the first Slayer, a feral fighter barely able to think and an obedient slave to the sorcerers. Her sisters were transported in other parts of the world and it was made sure that they had daughters.”

Buffy didn’t know what the worst was. Was it Mara’s sarcastic tone when describing such horrors or the fact that theory was believable? She knew from experience that the Slayer was definitely not a pure thing. Sure it gave her the power to protect a lot of people but… she knew how she felt when she lost herself in the dance of death, that dark joy at destroying demons that left her with a desire to bed the first passing male.  

“That doesn’t match, from what you say it should run in families,” she said, trying to find holes in Mara’s logic.

“Good to see your brain is working. The answer is that it ran in families. The blood thinned over the millennia, making the activation of the ‘Slayer’ genetic sequence look a lot more random. But however interesting this is, it’s not the point. My boss ordered me to give the Slayer a makeover. You can believe me, taming that bitch has not been easy and the ‘real me’ will need a looong vacation to recuperate…”

“What kind of makeover?” asked Buffy, suddenly very worried.

“The main thing is that the Slayer package comes with a series of curses I had to undo. The sorcerers had to make sure the beast they created would not turn against them. So they made the Slayer with a ‘puppet’ mode that could be activated. The curse’s log says it has not been activated in centuries so I don’t think the Watchers know the password for that. Anyway, it’s a moot point as I destroyed the program.”

Buffy pinched the bridge of her nose. Thanks to Mara’s deductive abilities now crammed in her brain, she assembled small hints in what Giles said over the last year and Merrick during the short while he trained her in Hemery.

Giles wouldn’t use such a thing but from what he said… he is a ‘liberal’ Watcher… Merrick… we had no time for formal training and he died before he could really become my Watcher.

“If those sorcerers were that smart, that’s surely not all.”

“You’re learning… Another curse is one you know very well: the ‘demon magnet’ thing. You know how it attracts the baddies to you but it has side effects made to influence the Slayer in a certain way. The curse not only attracts demons but it also projects aggression. In short, it makes a lot more probable that any encounter with demons will end badly.”  

“Leading me to conclusions like: ‘all demons are evil and must be purged’… What else?”

Mara had a little smile as she watched Buffy’s pout. She was, little by little, reaching one of the goals of this chat, leading the neo-demon girl out of depression and turning her anger on another target. Still, she had some more nails to hammer on that coffin.

“The third one is about that notion you have that human evil is not for you to sort out. It’s a protection mechanism made by the sorcerers so that no matter their crimes, The Slayer would not turn on them. The issue with this is that this curse would have made you incapable to kill a human even it was the only way to save a friend or a family member.”

“I’m not a…”

What… a murderer? What makes humans so special? Why should their lives be worth more than the ones of any other species?

She felt just… wrong. It was as if…

“I’m having thoughts…” said Buffy. “It’s like if… I was allowed to have them and hadn’t been before.”

“That’s an effect of that curse. It’s undone and you’re free to act as you like. In order to… plug some holes in your education, I will give you a little history lesson. How, you can be reassured, it won’t be a boring lecture.”

“Then how?”

“Just by taking a peek in my memories. I have seen many things since humans invented writing.”

Mara snapped her fingers in a way that reminded Buffy of Alan Rickman’s character in that movie about angels Willow and Xander had roped her to watch a while ago.       

“Joyce,” said Sunnydale’s Daimakaicho, answering the call on her smartphone. “I see… let her sleep, Rupert. Knowing Mara, she anticipated this. I’m coming to see Snyder this afternoon about the changes in school programs. I will see her then.”

She was sitting in the building that was formerly hosting her gallery and that had been refitted to host her offices. There were so many things to setup and very little time to do it.

“Your coffee, my queen,” said a woman looking very much like a typical succubus.

Joyce smiled, thanking Hild for making sure most of the Daimakaicho’s staff created equivalents here. She inhaled the beverage’s aroma with a delighted sigh, thinking she would have to see to get a certain actor fond of saying ‘what else’ under contract.

“Thank you, Eisheth,” she replied, using her secretary’s demon name.

“Mammon asks about the degree of subtlety he should show.”

“The barest minimum to avoid detection from Wolfram and Hart. We need results fast and they are the only faction with the know-how about modern financial markets to understand what we’re doing. Next?”

“A few nests of vampires which were deep enough underground to escape your wrath last night. Belial and Bifrons are taking care of it.”

“I want total extermination… tell Bifrons to take samples and start to experiment on vampire-specific viruses. About Spike, Drusilla and Angel?”

“We are sure they were converted. Marchosias and Sigyn are looking for them and the Mayor detached Ares and Lind to assist them.”  

Joyce snorted, remembering how… difficult it could be with Sigyn, particularly if she had to work with gods. Not that Marchosias was much better. After a mess in the eighties, Susanoo had given the two female demons a nickname taken from an anime that was, according to him, fitting to their style.

“Tell the Dirty Pair they are to report immediately once they find them… let’s just hope old hates will not resurface.”

Joyce leaned in her chair as her secretary left the office, happy to let what she called the ‘Hild-mode’ slip a little, to find back more of her old self. She took a sip of coffee.

“Tonight… tonight I’ll just cuddle with my daughters and watch some sappy movies while eating ice cream. Tonight I will forget how easy it was to order the extermination of sentient beings and research on weapons of mass destruction.”

She looked in herself, searching for some kind of guilt.

“Nothing, just concern about how far the act is removed from my old self and a desire to reconcile myself with what I was. But a gut feeling of ‘Oh My God! It’s wrong!’? Nope, nothing at all. Congratulations, Joyce: you’re truly the Daimakaicho.”

She knew that the woman she was only the day before would have wept at her lost humanity. But once she had signed, renouncing to her old self for that chance to change things, Hild had re-forged her into a new woman. Not only had her body the instincts of a species that was intrinsically more individualistic than humans but Hild’s memories were… old.

Old enough to remember seeing the dinosaurs bite the dust. Old enough to remember us and the gods nudging evolution to make creatures in our image, in one of those times where Heaven and Hell knew a lull in their eternal cold war. Thankfully, I don’t have the full package.

“Where are we?” asked Buffy to Mara,

“You remember that movie you saw when you and Willow did that Orlando Bloom marathon? That’s Jerusalem during the First Crusade. Now… look at man’s evil.”

Buffy looked with a kind of morbid fascination as the Crusaders breached the walls and slaughtered the population. Hearing about such things in history class, when the teacher dared to evoke them was one thing. Reading accounts of the deeds was one thing. Watching a movie that presented a romanced view of the events was one thing. Feeling through all her senses the memory of someone who had been there was a completely different experience.

“They’re no better than vampires!” she yelled as she witnessed another family being murdered.

Her hand clutched the cross around her neck, the silver cross Angel gave her. Only that last thought prevented her from ripping it away.

“You… you...” she said, turning to Mara. “You just… watched this!”

“Pot this is kettle calling…”

Buffy scowled, knowing very well one of the points this scene was supposed to hammer in her. This was human evil. According to her own values, it did not concern the Slayer.

“I did what I could given the rules that bind me, Buffy. But I was mostly concerned with preventing the Crusaders from finding Solomon’s seal under Temple Mount… think local Hellmouth and you will have an idea of the consequences.”

“Okay… but that was Middle Age. We’re better now…”

“Should I show you what I saw in Dachau in 1944?” asked Mara with a smirk.

Buffy paled. It was only thanks to her experience as a Slayer that she was not puking her guts now. She really had no envy to not only see, but hear and smell the death camps.

“Besides,” continued the demon, pointing Buffy’s brow, “you shouldn’t say ‘we’ but ‘they’.”   

“Thanks to you…”

“Not only,” replied Mara, happy to see her charge acknowledge that truth. “Once the Slayer activated, you ceased to be fully human and… let’s say the process was still ongoing when my boss tasked me with helping you.”

“I get the point… can we leave?”

“Yes, I have still many things to show you…” said Mara while snapping her fingers.

“You noticed how many people use their ‘other name’?” asked Xander as he and Willow changed classes.

“You mean the English teacher telling us to call him Mr. Charon?”

“That and the robes… I swear I saw an oar in that cupboard.”

“I don’t know… I think it’s like we all have a new middle name and some of us just decide to use it.”

“Hmm… I think I will still use Xander, and you?”

“I prefer to stay Willow but… we will meet people the ‘other us’ knew and sometimes it will just be easier to use the other name.”

“Like with Susano?”

“Yes. Urd and he know each other. They’re drinking buddies despite being in opposite sides and… Isn’t that Apollo?”

“I would rather say Jonathan Levinson but…yeah. Ymir’s bones! If he’s going to be as insufferable as the original…”   

Willow smirked at her friend’s outburst. The habits of ‘the other’ had been seeping through all of them as the day progressed.

“About Buffy… I hope she’ll get better though… in the manga Mara is a kind of comic relief. “

 “Sorry but I have to disagree, Will,” said Xander, who felt another part of Heimdall’s memories unlocking.

“Come on, Xander, Mara… well she’s a friend but her plans…” said Willow.

“It goes back to a very simple question: if Mara was that lame, how in hell… you know what I mean, did she keep her first class license?”

Willow frowned. She was more familiar with the exams and restriction that came with a first class license on the god side of things but demons were bound to have a similar ‘quality control’.

“What do you… or rather what does Heimdall knows?”

“Things that Athena hinted at in her usual ‘I’m so much smarter than all of you put together’ way. Obviously, Intelligence did not see fit to inform the Yggdrasil sysadmins or the Goddess Relief Office about some things.”   

Again the Middle Age… but somewhere in Europe this time, maybe France.

She looked below at the water surface below her. She and Mara were standing Jesus-style on a river boarding a city.

“This is Paris?” asked Buffy, pointing the city.

“In 2011, the Pont-Neuf would be just here, passing on that small island with the pyres.”

“I suppose you want me to watch the execution… What did they do? They were warlocks?”

“Though I knew one of the people being executed fairly well, no, quite the contrary indeed. What happens here is a fine example of a sin so prevalent in the twenty-first century: greed. However, the sinners are not on the men attached to the pyres, they’re under that dais. This was done for only one reason: allow them to seize the belongings of the men executed this night.”

Buffy listened to the announcements made in medieval French, a language she now understood perfectly, probably thanks to Mara. She identified the main personage under the dais, the then King of France, called Philippe. Then the names of the accused and the charges were read and the fires lighted.

Jacques de Molay… sounds familiar… got it: The Knights Templar.

The image froze as Mara started to speak.

“I met Jacques for the first time in Palestine when he was a young man. The second time, nearly thirty years later in Cyprus, he didn’t buy the ‘it was my mother’ line. But where he surprised me is that instead of trying to exorcise me, we just discussed for a while, like two knights of opposing countries during a truce. After that, I kept an eye on him and offered to bail him out when the agents of the King of France came to arrest him and the other Templars. As you can guess he refused and I respect him for that.”

“You said it was because of greed. Why?”

“As a poet said, under the reign of Philippe le Bel, the Kingdom of France was grand and its people unhappy. Too many wars, too many funds spent on secret police.  The story is more complex but the gist of it is that the Templars had many riches and the king decided to seize them to pay his debts. So his agents fueled rumors about the Templars to make them unpopular and the pope, too weak to oppose him and protect a religious order, agreed to the arrest. The trial took seven years during which Jacques and the other Templars were kept in prison and tortured until they admitted what the king expected of them.”

“I would like to say w… the humans are better but…”

Mara nodded, knowing about which recent events Buffy was probably thinking.

“However, I wasn’t inactive then,” said the demon.

The image resumed, flames rising to leech the two knights on the pyres.

“Pope Clement, King Philippe, before one year, I summon you before God’s tribunal to receive the just retribution for your crimes! Cursed! Cursed! All cursed up to the thirteenth generation of your races!” yelled the Grandmaster of the Templars as death claimed him.

Buffy looked at Mara, who seemed different, like if she was now a part of the memory rather than an observer like her.

 “Wish granted, Jacques,” she said, demon marks flaring, invisible to the mortals around her. “And now, let’s get to work. I have a dynasty to destroy.”

The image froze again.

“You killed them.”

“Not directly,” replied Mara, resuming her ‘observer’ status. “The pope was already sick. I just made sure any attempt at recovery failed. As for the king, a horse a little too nervous and a stag jumping the wrong way… a tragic accident.”

“It didn’t stop here. There is still the part about the thirteenth generation.”

“No, it didn’t stop here. Contracts have to be respected.”

“I suppose you expect me to act like you did.”

“You will act as you wish. In this case, I chose to punish boundless greed and to avenge a man I respected.”

“There are laws you know.”

“Look at them,” said Mara, pointing the dais. “King, pope, they’re the ones making the laws. Had I not acted, then who would have?”

Buffy pouted knowing very well that Mara would not hesitate to remind her of her own distrust of authority if she persisted. She remembered all too well the problems she had from time to time with the Sunnydale’s police department.   

“But… demons do have rules, right? You said that when we were in Jerusalem.”

“We do. Demon rules all come from two principles. First, a demon’s word is absolute. Second, free will must be respected. All of our rules are constructed from that. We have a hierarchy because we agree to be part of it, rules because we accepted to renounce to a part of our independence to be stronger as a group. Hild’s power may be without equal, but even she couldn’t lead us if we didn’t believe in her and agree to follow her.”

“Hem… Mara, that sounds like a democracy.”

“Indeed… There are differences with a place like America, like how we consider that nothing is forbidden if all concerned parties agree to it, but the main principles are the same.”

“If you respect so much free will… what’s the problem with the gods?”

“This needs some more exposition,” said Mara, snapping her fingers.

“Miss Calendar,” said Willow to the computer teacher as the class ended, “may I ask you something?”

“Yes, Willow?”

“You… I mean the ‘other you’ knows Mara well, right? She loves gadgets and you’re Vapula, Niflheim’s top gadgeteer…”

“Yes I knew her very well. You could say I was the Q to her James Bond.”

“Hem… Are you saying she’s one of Niflheim’s ‘double-zeros’?”

“Sure she is. Top agent, led a lot of operations in the Middle East during the Crusades and later in Europe. Of course, her performance around the Norns in Nekomi didn’t look stellar but… her mission was to keep you distracted, not to present a serious threat to you. She put up with the humiliation for so long both because it was her punishment for the whole Fenris debacle and because it allowed her to be near you. It’s only when the Daimakaicho got involved that things got more serious.”

“With the angel eater…”

“Which reminds me of one thing: Belldandy and Skuld are active in our Yggdrasil. It’s probably just a matter of time before you meet them.”

Buffy was puking her metaphorical guts, covering part of the mindscape with smelly content. Mara had shown her cases where the gods’ typical approach, also known as ‘let’s believe in man’s innate goodness’ had turned for the worst. The last one, the whole handling of the contact between the Aztecs and the Spaniards had started with the best of intentions, until it devolved into a complete nightmare that, thanks to Mara, she had witnessed in full.

“Okay… I get the point. Demons mess up, gods mess up, nobody’s perfect. What happened to Huitzi… that sun god?”

“He was declared rogue and sealed, put in prison if you prefer. The whole affair was just too embarrassing for Heaven.”

“The worse is to think that human sacrifices weren’t evil for those people… It’s… I probably can’t understand because I’m prisoner of my own values, like they were.”

Mara clapped.

“Very good. Now, all you have to do is to reject the values imposed to you by a civilization you do not belong to anymore. Rebuild yourself and choose your own values. Define yourself your good and your evil, because there is no truth out there, only differing points of view.”

She nodded weakly. Mara had been systematically destroying her benchmarks, showing her that gods and demons were just different cultures that competed to impose their definition of good and evil.

But… they’re just opinions, not truths.

“I… I will live, find my own way.”

Mara reached for her, helping her to get up.

Harmony Kendall looked with supreme annoyance at Amy Madison. They were temporarily dispensed of school given the nature of their ‘other self’ and emergency orders issued by their respective hierarchies.

“I can’t believe… I should be in the sewers with Marchosias, looking for Angel,” said Amy, shadows of snakes dancing in her aura.

Harmony thanked the fact a certain goddess had drilled her with discipline in the last day, allowing her to keep her cool despite the circumstances. She wasn’t about to forget how things really happened with Loki and Sigyn, the latter giving the Allfather the finger after Loki’s trial and defecting to Niflheim. As that meant that the Valkyries had suddenly lost their second-in-command, creating a huge security risk in Asgard’s defenses…

She felt the support of Cool Mint and Spear Mint, her twin familiar angels and allowed herself a little smile. Lind had really done a lot to boost her self-esteem. However, there was a downside. Now, vying for the position of School Queen, dethroning Cordelia, just felt… futile to her.

“Sigyn… I don’t like it much more than you, but orders are orders. I don’t want to have to explain to the Allfather that I messed up on my first mission… and you probably want even less to anger the Daimakaicho.”

“If Willy’s info is correct, that should be here.”

“If it isn’t, he will have to talk to my axe,” said Harmony with a perfect deadpan tone.  

Amy looked at her temporary partner. She still wondered why Lind had chosen Harmony Kendall of all people. The bitchy cheerleader and the cold, professional Valkyrie had nothing in common.

Maybe she wanted to put her back on the straight and narrow… not like Sigyn and me. We know darkness; we know passion and the taste of betrayal.

Harmony rang the door of the converted warehouse. The door soon opened, revealing a woman with goddess marks.

“Oh my!” said Drusilla as she opened the door. “Lind, it’s good to see you!”


“Hmm… in part only, just as you. And… Sigyn.”

Amy could see that Drusilla remembered what happened that day and the bitter words that were exchanged.

“I’m not her, Miss… Carpenter.”

“Yes… it’s true. Do come in, please. My Spike is still resting. I understood he had a run-in with Mara last night.”

Amy suddenly felt a very familiar aura coming from the couch. From the part of her that was Sigyn, something was rising.


Spike rose from the couch and saw a demon girl with tendrils of darkness resembling snakes dancing around her. He instantly recognized her and he remembered what she thought of ‘philandering husbands’.

“Oh bugger…”   

“Are you feeling better?” asked Giles as Buffy drunk her tea slowly.

“Mara and I came to an understanding. I’m… willing to try. Still… I think the goatee is worse than the horns, Watcher mine.”

“I am not sure I will keep it but it’s already a compromise as Malphas wore a full… I think you would say a ‘Gandalf’ beard.”

“Yeah… Do you think we can do it? I mean, change things?”


“The Slayer… I didn’t know how much it sucked. Thankfully… I’m immortal now, so it means I’m the last one.”  

“Sorry for the mess, Belldandy,” said Amy, feeling really embarrassed.

“I suppose some hiccups were bound to happen, given that Spike is Loki,” replied Drusilla in a slightly stern tone. “Help me repair the house and we’re good.”

“Right,” said Amy, looking at the holes in the building.

Spike looked at the two women who had started to sing an aria of reconstruction. He adjusted the pack of ice on his brow, thinking more and more it was one of those days… He looked at the third woman who was watching him with a steely gaze.

“So… how does it feel to be Miss Iceberg?” he asked to Harmony.

“It is of no concern to you… traitor.”

“Listen, I didn’t kill that Balder bloke. Loki did and I’m not him.”

“We’ll see.”  

Buffy snuggled against her mother as the Princess Bride played on their living room’s TV. Dawn was on the other side, feeding Zu bits of jerky. From what Willow had told her, her sister’s familiar looked like a boy during Halloween. Now, he was cute in a Pokémon kind of way, a small black eagle with a lion head. Zu had told her that the ‘boy’ shape was a combat one that needed a lot more energy than his current ‘chibi’ state.  

She looked at her mother’s face, noticing the darker tan and the platinum blonde hair of what was now her true appearance. In her opinion, it was kind of a compromise between her original shape and Hild’s.

“It’s all right, honey,” said Joyce, caressing her head. “We’re still a family and we’ll manage as such.”
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