I don't own anything. Buffy is not owned by me. It is owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me. The Rescue
Buffy woke up early the next morning, yawning widely as she stretched under the comforting rays of the morning sun. No matter what else had happened on her mission, she had to acknowledge that not being responsible for an army for a couple of days had let her catch up on some badly needed sleep. Feeling relaxed and ready to face the day like she hadn't been in months, Buffy decided then and there that she would take more time to rest instead of always running herself ragged, no matter how important her mission was, apocalypse season excepted.
The night before Buffy had used her eagle token to fly back to the pond, and then her salmon token to navigate the underwater river. It had been more difficult to find the exit without the sun overhead, but the moonlight had been sufficient for her darkness adjusted eyes to find the crack back to the surface. Once she had gotten out of the pond and into human form, she had found Brown Allree waiting for her.
She had initially planned to immediately ride off to Xander's rescue, but the fairy horse had resisted all of her attempts to mount it. Eventually she had gotten the hint and had eaten a small meal of disgusting rations (which had been, as always, worse than she had remembered), before she had laid down on the soft grass to sleep. She had slept almost from the moment her head had rested on her arms, and nothing had disturbed her slumber for the entire night.
After eating another disgusting ration bar for breakfast, Buffy climbed on top of Brown Allree, and clung on for dear life as it once again began an insane run to her next destination. It ran through the trees, before leaping off of a cliff and onto the ocean, speeding along on its surface for hours before reaching land once more. Leaping up onto the high ground from the sea, it didn't take long for her to reach Dun Bhaloir.
Buffy dismounted and crept from shadow to shadow until she once more reached the walls of the ruined keep, before entering through one of the holes in its side. Skulking without a sound, Buffy soon found her way back to the the throne room where she had found Xander before. Peeking in, she saw no one except her friend's form sitting on the floor of his cage.
“Hey Xan!” Buffy called perkily as she strolled up to him. “Lookie what I... what are you wearing!?!”
Xander stood up with a pained smile on his face. “Hey Buff! Good to see ya.”
She stared at him wide eyed for several long moments, before bursting into uncontrollable laughter.
Xander was still wearing his steel collar and black eyepatch, but his other clothing had been replaced with baggy, red and purple striped coveralls. He had a jester's hat on his head, with bells at the end of long strips of cloth that dangled from the shapeless item. His boots had also been replaced with slippers, which had large bells at the toes. “Great on the ol' ego there, Buff.”
“Sorry... sorry,” she said, gasping as she tried to bring herself back under control. “Its just...”
Buffy then exploded into laughter again, and Xander sighed, rolling his eyes theatrically. “Sure, sure. Don't mind me. Just laugh it up at the victim.” While he acted annoyed, in truth Xander was actually pleased to see his friend laughing. It was something she had done very rarely over the last several years, and if it took him humiliating himself to make her do so, then he wouldn't complain. Much, anyway.
“Sorry,” Buffy gasped as she wiped her eyes, finally regaining her composure. “So, other than the exciting new taste in clothes, anything happen?”
“Nah, I'm fine. They've just been workin' my dignity over.”
Buffy smiled at him teasingly. “Wow! Small target.”
“Ha,” Xander replied flatly. “And I repeat: ha. Channeling your inner Cordy there, Buff?”
“Okay, okay. Serious mode. Any news, besides my exciting new blackmail material?”
“Well, I hope you've got one fancy new sword,” Xander said, eyeing the sheathed weapon she carried speculatively.
Buffy, grinned, unwrapping the pommel so that the glowing diamond was visible. “The fanciest. Bare minimum: I've got a nifty new flashlight.”
“Good, 'cause I'm sure as a very sure thing that you'll need it. The cutty part, not the flashlight, 'cause Balor used his funky eye powers last night on those banshees that snatched us.”
“How funky were they?” Buffy asked.
“They brought the funk,” Xander said, nodding seriously. “Funked up all four banshees.”
“Aww, I was hopin' to say hi to them after last time. Still, can't complain 'bout demons fightin' demons. Plus, I got the other one, anyway.”
“You slayed the dullahan? Huh. How do
you slay a dullahan, 'cause I don't think our books ever said?”
Buffy scrunched her nose up in distaste. “Heart-ectomy with a golden butter knife. Which: souvenir!”
Buffy tossed the dullahan's heart to Xander, who caught it easily. “Thanks. A lump of coal, just like I always wanted.”
“Dulla-heart, actually,” Buffy said, catching it has he threw it back before tucking it away in her pocket again. “Which, sidebar: couldn't you have just been bad for Santa? 'Cause I hear he likes to give out coal to the bad kids. Not that I have experience with that sorta thing.”
“Darn it! I knew I was doing it wrong, sending those letters to Santa asking for coal, then being a good boy. Just think of all the trouble I coulda saved on letter writing if I just stole booze and cigarettes.”
Buffy suddenly held up a hand, looking towards the door as she did. “Something's coming. Something big.”
Xander nodded, and she then hopped up on top of his cage, crouching behind the boulder covering it so that she was hidden from the doorway. A few moments later they both felt the ground trembling as Balor approached. Buffy was surprised at his appearance as he came through the door, the one eyed giant towering three stories as it thumped forward with its one leg and single long arm. “Jester,” it rumbled. “Tell me more of the adventures of this Homer Simpson.”
“Actually,” Buffy said, hopping up on top of the boulder and drawing the Claiomh Solais. It glowed with a bright white light, filling the entire room with its radiance. “How 'bout you let my friend go. Otherwise, there's gonna be some real, R rated, violent content.”
“Where did you get that sword!” Balor rumbled, eyeing her warily with his nearly closed eye.
“It was just kinda hangin' 'round, waiting for things to get dicey. Which they will, unless I get to leave here with my Xander-shaped friend, and his clothes, and Angel's soul.”
The giant pulled the Orb of Thesulah out of his shirt, letting it hang from the cord around his neck. “You may have the Claiomh Solais. But I will crush you. I am strongest! Leave if you do not wish to die.” He paused for a moment. “Do you wish to die?”
“Nah,” she said, hopping down to the ground and bringing the sword up in front of her. “Been there, done that, didn't get a t-shirt. So, how's it gonna be, big guy? Give up, or hard fall?”
Xander grinned as he watched his friend taunt the giant. While serving as his court jester hadn't been terribly odious, he was really looking forward to getting some vicarious vengeance against his captor. The only thing he was missing was a bag of chips and Willow to share them with while they watched Buffy put on her show.
“Die!” Balor roared, the sound so loud that it nearly knocked the humans off of their feet. He then charged forward, hopping on his single leg and using his long arm to balance himself as he moved. It looked awkward, but he was used to it, and was therefore able to run quickly and with surprising grace towards the Slayer.
Buffy waited with her sword ready as the giant closed, springing forward as he lept into the air at the last moment, his single foot planting on the ground when he was within the reach of his long arm. Buffy's move brought her to his leg before he could react, and she sliced into his ankle, the magical sword carving through skin and corded muscle with ease.
Balor roared in agony, his hand slamming down nearly invisibly fast as Buffy dived forwards, barely avoiding being smashed. Rolling to her feet, she swung her blade again, this time aiming for the giant's achilles tendon. Just as her blade cleaved through flesh, Balor brought his arm back, grabbing her and bringing her into the air in front of him.
Buffy screamed in pain as his hand nearly crushed her as she was lifted into the air. Swinging her blade backwards, she sliced his thumb off, forcing him to drop her with a terrible roar. Buffy fell to the ground, striking the stone hard, driving the air from her lungs. Rolling dazedly onto her back, she saw him raising his arm to smash her into the ground.
Adrenaline and her mystic heritage lent Buffy speed as she dove to her left as the hand came down, her desperate move barely taking her past the missing thumb. The impact of the giant hand against the stone was so fierce that she was thrown through the air, although this time she was able to take control of the motion to land on her feet. Retreating quickly, she narrowly escape the giant's reach as he swung at her once more.
Buffy gasped in breaths once she was safely out of range, her body feeling like one giant bruise, although she was reasonably certain that she at least hadn't broken anything. Balor balanced himself with his arm and moved his foot experimentally, grimacing as the damage that she had inflicted nearly completely denied him any mobility.
Buffy waited until he seemed particularly distracted by the examination of his foot to run forward on silent feet, closing the gap between them as quickly as possible. At the last moment he noticed her, causing him to respond by swinging his arm low to the ground in a huge sweep intended to knock her across the room. The attack was lightning fast, but Buffy had been prepared for the possibility of him countering her charge, and therefore she was ready to jump over his arm as he swung, tumbling through the air and landing on his foot, blade first.
Balor's eyes widened for a moment as her weapon sank deeply into his flesh, before he began to howl in agony. Buffy ran up his foot, dragging the Claiomh Solais hilt deep in his body towards his leg as she went. Reacting instinctively, he smashed his hand down towards the injury, but by then she had already run around his ankle, leaving his hand to instead strike his own injury, causing him to let loose another pained scream.
Buffy paused just past his foot, spinning and finishing the damage that she had already started to his achilles tendon, finally severing it. With his hand clutching his injured foot, and the tendon severed, he crumpled forward onto his knee, unable to stand. “Kill you!” he roared as he fell, the impact with the ground shaking the room.
She didn't take the time to answer, simply jumping onto his now angled back, and running up his body to his neck. Looking at him, she noticed immediately that he also had an eye on the back of his head. It was full of pain and nearly closed because of her sword's light, but it still glared at her hatefully. Sneering in response, she stopped on his shoulder and neatly slit his throat.
Balor reared back as she did, throwing her off as a waterfall of rich red blood poured down his body, swiftly transforming the center of the room into a lake of crimson. Buffy bounced along the ground, her vision graying for a moment after yet another painful impact, before finally she gasped in enough air to bring herself back under control. Sitting up, she smirked in satisfaction as her opponent collapsed to the ground, shaking the entire chamber.
Buffy pulled herself to her feet and walked around to the head of the dying giant. He gazed at her with his single dimming eye, as she slowly cleaned the Sword of Light. “Can't say I didn't warn you,” she said casually.
“It's not nice to taunt dying demon kings, Buff,” Xander said. “Also: rescue time? Pretty please, with a really wanna get outta this getup on top?”
“Fine, fine. Spoil my fun.” Buffy paused long enough to make certain her foe had truly died, before returning to Xander's cage. Jumping on top, she heaved the huge boulder off before opening the lid and offering her friend a helping hand.
Once they were safely on the ground, Xander asked, “think you can get this thing off me?”
“Sure you don't wanna keep it?” Buffy asked, her eyes twinkling as she grabbed his collar.
When he rolled his eyes she gripped the iron band and heaved. The magically reinforced metal groaned for a moment against her strength before finally snapping with a burst of green sparks. “Whew. Did not want to have to explain that thing to Wills.”
Xander located his clothing and changed out of his jester's motley, and then the two of them approached the dead giant. “I hope he didn't land on it,” Buffy grumbled. “Aren't those orbs kinda fragile?”
Xander found the orb first, and was relieved to see that it was in good shape. “Aha!” he shouted as he bent over and grabbed it. Unfortunately, he could feel cracks on it as he did, and when he lifted it from the ground it crumbled completely, shards of sharp crystal falling through his fingers. He stood up, horror on his face, as the shattered Orb of Thesulah went dark.
Next to him, a faintly glowing figure appeared. Xander's jaw dropped in shock when he saw who it was. The soul trapped in the orb wasn't Angel. It was a young japanese woman with light brown eyes and long, elaborately styled hair. “Satsu!” he sputtered, completely flabbergasted as she slowly faded away.
Buffy was in shock, her suddenly pale face stricken with what she had seen. Satsu had been in the Orb. Satsu's soul
had been ripped out and stuck in the Orb. Because of her. She'd tried to warn her, tried to tell her what happend to people who loved her, but Satsu hadn't cared. It had hurt when she had left, but a part of her had believed, foolishly it appeared, that that way at least she would be safely away from her.
“Satsu?” Xander said, looking at his stunned best friend. “Why wasn't it Dead Boy? Wait... thinking, thinking... come on brain... Oh! The spell called the soul of the person you love. Wait. You love Satsu?!”
Buffy swayed slightly on her feet as the part of her that was still able to listen followed his shocked rant. She had forgotten that part. Did she really love Satsu? Sure, it had hurt when she had left, and she still thought about her, and... Oh, god, she thought, swallowing. “Her soul...” Buffy forced past numb lips, her shaking hand reaching towards where it had faded away.
Xander pulled himself back together as he saw her beginning to fall apart. Placing his hands on her shoulders he shook her until he was sure that he had her attention. “Hey, hey! Remember Jenna? Injured Slayer, soul ripped out by sluagh? Living people souls are connected like... like bungies. You can pull them away, but let go and they snap back into place.”
Buffy felt herself slowly calm down. She decided that the best course of action was denial. It was an old friend, after all. She would forget about what Satsu's soul being the one in the orb implied until sometime much much
later. If ever, since what had just happened showed her clearly once again the dangers of knowing her for the people she lo- cared about. For now, though, she would concentrate on the fact that Xander thought that things would be okay, and so she decided to believe him. She wasn't sure she could handle any other outcome at that moment.
“Come on,” Buffy said, her voice slightly weak, but growing stronger as she fell back into her familiar role as commander. “We need to get back to HQ.” She then turned on her heel and strode determinedly towards the exit.
“Great idea, Buff,” Xander said as he fell into step with her. “Where are we, though? 'Cause the radios don't work too well. Or, you know, at all.”
“We're in some other dimension. This guy helped me out getting the sword, so I'm hopin' he'll help us get back.”
“Guy?” he asked curiously as they left the ruined castle. He smiled and took a huge breath of fresh air as he walked into the sunlight for the first time in days. It amazed him how little sun he could see for weeks while fighting evil without concern, but a few days captivity had him basking in its rays.
“Yeah, that guy,” Buffy said, nodding towards Rua, who was leaning against Brown Allree not far from the castle gates.
“It does me good to see you well, Buffy,” the red haired man said. “And well met to you, stranger. I am Rua, and you must be the friend that she was so desperate to rescue.”
“Desperate?” Xander asked curiously. “I'm Xander.”
“She was prepared to hare off into the night with no plan or way to find you, had I not intervened,” Rua said, smiling.
is right here,” Buffy grumped. “Here.”
She handed him the sheathed sword as well as the three tokens.
“Whoa, whoa,” Xander said. “Time out. Giving up the fancy magic sword to some guy, Buffster?”
Buffy shrugged. “I promised to give him the sword and the other stuff if he helped me get it.”
“But... but... the sword kills vampires.”
“So do pointy bits of wood.”
“Yeah, but not by glowing
Buffy shrugged. “So I'll need a stake and a flashlight. No biggie.”
Xander shook his head, exasperated. “The glow kills vamps, Buffy. Draw your sword, clear the room. No fuss, no muss, just dust.”
Buffy pouted. “Why'd you have to tell me that now? Couldn't you have mentioned it, oh, I don't know, before I promised to give it up!?!” She turned her best puppy dog eyes on Rua. “I gave you the sword. Do you really need to keep it though? Please?”
Rua chuckled. “I am sorry, but I must return it to the guardianship of the Fir Bolg. It is not a weapon to freely travel the mortal world. Besides, it will not be enough to stop your true enemy.”
They suddenly became serious. “True enemy?” Xander asked. “How come I don't like the sound of that?”
“Because you are not the fool you pretend to be?” Rua suggested “Balor was awakened from his slumber by the spirit of rebirth known as Twilight.”
“Twilight,” Buffy snarled. “Wait. Spirit of rebirth?”
Rua nodded seriously. “Twilight seeks to cause the end of this age of the world and the birth of a new one, bringing about the end of the dominance of man. He seeks allies like Balor who had once ruled much of the world, but who now simply wait for their time to come once more. This defeat will not stop him, either; he will simply find others who have much to gain with a change in the balance of the world.”
“Great,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Another apocalypse.”
Rua chuckled slightly. “I see that with people like the two of you leading the war, things will be in good hands for the mortal world. And, since you kept our bargain and did not seek to renege, I will help you to return to your own place at a time that will serve you well.”
“Time that will serve you well?” Xander asked as thick fog gathered around them from nowhere, obscuring the sun completely and blocking all visibility. After a long moment the fog slowly faded away, leaving them standing in a meadow, at night, near a copse of trees. Looking around in confusion, Buffy saw Jenna lying on the ground a short distance away.
“This is Medevac Team Two, repeat, this is Medevac Team Two,” a voice said over their radios, making them both jump. “Do you copy?”
“Um, yeah, this is Xander. I read you loud and clear.”
“Thank god!” the voice said. “You were out of communication for nearly three minutes. What's your status?”
While Xander apprised the medics, Buffy checked on her Slayer. She was relieved to find her alright, although she would need both treatment and some serious downtime to recover fully. As her sensitive hearing picked up the sound of approaching choppers, Xander approached.
“Three minutes?” he asked.
Buffy shrugged. “Different dimension. Guess he had some control over when we came out. Won't complain.”
Xander just nodded in agreement. Author's Notes
Balor in myth had been killed by his descendant hitting him in the eye. This was obviously a different method, but one that seems reasonable, as the Sword of Light was often used to kill giants in different stories.
People spending time in the Otherworld find that time is fluid there. Some people emerge after spending many years only to return after a single night. Others leave after a brief visit to find decades have passed in the mortal world.
People familiar with Season 8 will see that I'm changing Twilight a bit, although the basic concept is the same. I feel that bringing about a new age in the same world makes for a better premise than causing a new dimension to replace the world, so that's what I'm doing. Remember, only the events through issue 20 are canon for my story.
Just the epilogue remains for this tale, and then sequels.