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The Gift – Revisited

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This story is No. 1 in the series "(Role-)Playing For Keeps". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Glory wanted to use Dawn's blood to open up a gateway to her home, but things didn't go quite as she had intended.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > FantasyGreywizardFR1817,0133204,60825 Aug 1325 Aug 13Yes
Disclaimer: They all belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME, and/or Paizo Publishing. Deal with it. I have.

Category: Crossover: Games – Fantasy (Pathfinder), and a response to TTH Challenge 7299.

Time Frame: Begins midway though the Season Five episode, 'The Gift', and then goes seriously AU.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don’t know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: Nope, not this time around. If you ask me nicely, though, I'll see what I can do in another story.

Feedback: Of course! As Tenhawk says, it's the coin of the realm.

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author’s Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author’s Note 3: In addition to the fact that Faith broke out of prison and headed to Sunnydale as a result of several Slayer dreams involving the Scoobies and an impending Apocalypse, the sequence of things occurring prior to this episode are slightly different from canon, as are some of the mundane preparations the Scooby Gang have taken. However, nothing of any major significance occurred; i.e., no additional magic weapons were found lying around, and no other reinforcements showed up, since the Fang Gang is still currently in Pylea rescuing Cordy.

Author’s Note 4: This story is the result of a plot bunyip which just showed up in my mind one night after reading the challenge and simply refused to go away, and which wouldn't stop annoying me until I finished writing it.

~/~/~

Glory's tower
Sunnydale, CA


With the skies above swirling in chaos, churning from the multi-dimensional energies released by the inclusion of a few drops Dawn's blood in the hellish ritual, the Scooby Gang was intent on taking down the insane hellgoddess who was trying to sacrifice the younger Summers sister in order to open up a portal to Glory's home Hell-dimension.

Buffy was currently beating the hell out of Glory with the troll hammer, while Faith was helping to distract the demented self-proclaimed deity with a series of attacks using the swords Giles had provided her earlier that evening, following her unexpected, but nonetheless reluctantly welcomed, arrival in town. They had previously taken out most, if not all, of Glory’s hobbit-with-leprosy demonic servants, and were now focusing on the entity those minions worshipped.

Off to one side, Willow and Tara were still recovering from the energy blast which had stunned them only a few moments earlier, when Willow had successfully retrieved Tara's sanity from Glory's mind and returned it to her mentally-damaged lover.

While the two witches worked with Giles and Anya in a desperate effort to recharge the Dagon Sphere, which had clearly, and significantly, weakened the hellgoddess when it had touched her at the start of the battle, Xander and Spike were situated off to the side of the Slayers' battle with Glory, feverishly preparing the last of the remaining supplies the Scoobies had stolen from the local Army base three years previously.

"Bloody hell, mate," Spike commented in a semi-admiring tone as the pair finished their preparations, "I have to admit, you lot really do know how to throw a going-away party."

"Save the compliments for later, Fangless," Xander snarked back. "You just make sure that whoever it is that's hurting Dawnie doesn't ever get a chance to try it again."

"You can be bloody sure I'll do just that, Whelp," Spike solemnly promised as he headed towards the tower.

As the third strongest fighter of the group, Spike had been designated as the person to rescue Dawn from her imprisonment on the top of the sacrificial tower, while Buffy and Faith would be focusing on preventing Glory from noticing and stopping him from doing so, with the other Scoobies supporting them as best they could.

Lifting the AT4 anti-tank system to his shoulder and focusing the weapon's sight on Glory, Xander yelled, "Okay, people! Duck!"

As Buffy and Faith both instantly ceased their attacks and dove away from Glory, leaving the blonde-haired divine ditz staring at their actions in surprise, Harris thumbed the trigger and launched the unit's single-shot High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) round at her, and the focused explosion blew the unsuspecting hellgoddess off her feet and some thirty feet back and further away from the tower.

Tossing the now-empty tube to the side, Xander then darted to the two M249 belt-fed Squad Automatic Weapons (SAWs) which he and Spike had set up just off to the side of Harris' attack. Snugging the closest light machinegun firmly up against his shoulder, Harris again targeted the now staggering and bewildered hellgoddess in his sight and held back the trigger, hosing the disoriented self-proclaimed deity with a mix of belt-fed incendiary and armor piercing rounds, while Buffy and Faith watched from a safe distance and tried to catch their breaths.

Stopping his assault only when the barrel began to overheat, Xander quickly switched to the second SAW and resumed his admittedly ineffectual, but nonetheless distracting and annoying, attack, smiling to himself with satisfaction as he continued to keep the mentally unbalanced and ever-more-enraged hellgoddess physically off-balance, too.

Taking Xander's ceasing fire as he ran out of ammunition as their cue for re-engagement, Buffy and Faith once again resumed their attacks on the now even more furious hell-skank, looking to keep her attention focused on them, and provide Spike with a chance to rescue Dawn.

***

As Spike headed towards Dawn, looking to free the imprisoned teen, Glory's devoted follower, Doc, scrambled up from the lower level where he'd landed after Spike's unexpected punch had knocked him away from Dawn, and attacked the bleached-blond vampire from behind with his apparently stretchable tongue.

Dawn screamed a panicked warning to Spike as she saw Glory's minion approaching and the bleached-blond bloodsucker spun to the side, avoiding the sneak attack and grabbing hold of the extended appendage. As Doc's eyes widened in surprise at the tables suddenly being turned, the chipped vampire smirked at his opponent as he said, "Ya just had to open your mouth, didn't ya, ya wanker?", before he used the leverage available to him to toss Doc twenty feet up into the air and off of the tower.

As the demented hellgoddess' minion fell to the ground, screaming in rage and panic, Spike quickly began applying both the styptic pencil and the tube of crazy glue Xander had given him to the freely bleeding incisions Doc had cut into Dawn's stomach, all the while muttering to himself under his breath the various abuses he planned to inflict on the demon's soon-to-be corpse, once they were away from this battleground.

A massive crack of thunder drew both their attention upwards, and a horrified "Oh, goddess, NO!" slipped from Dawn's lips as they looked up and saw the swirling portal which had formed above them.

As the pair watched with shock and trepidation, massive multi-colored bolts of pan-dimensional energy began raining down from the now-opened gateway and striking the ground below, the chaotic energies transforming whatever they hit into some alternate dimensional analogue of itself.

Realizing that the two of them were safe from the coruscating bolts of arcane energy by virtue of their close proximity to the portal, Dawn called out a frantic warning to her loved ones from their position looking down at her family, "Buffy! Guys! Watch out for the lightning!"

Unfortunately, however, her admonition came too late, and the embodied Key watched in horror as a series of titanic strikes seemed to target the area where the Scoobies were clustered, the overwhelming brilliance of the lightning bolts momentarily blinding both Dawn and Spike.

As her eyes cleared and she refocused on the battlefield below, Dawn could only gasp in shock and bewilderment at the scene before her.

~/~/~

Eliza, Lady Somersby, Twice-Blessed Hand of the Lady Iomedae, blinked in surprise as she abruptly found herself standing among people whom she instantly recognized as dear family members while they were, at the same time, complete strangers to her.

The fact that she found herself fully armored and in what was clearly the midst of a battle fazed her only the slightest bit, since just a moment previously, she had been preparing to lead an attack against a group of the Order's trainees – not that the trainees were at all aware of that fact – so that they would be more aware of their environment in the future, and not merely dismiss their instructors' caveats and advice as overblown and pretentious tales of long-past triumphs. Lady Eliza was somewhat surprised, though, to see her mentor, Loremaster and Cleric, Rupert Giles-Ellerby, standing off to her right side, among a group of strangers that one of the two sets of memories now filling her head was insisting were members of her family – by choice, if not by blood.

At the same time, though, she also realized that these familiar-yet-strange people – who, though they might not be blood-related, were unquestionably family by her, and their, own choices – were assembled to battle against the blonde hellgoddess before her. A Hell-spawn who was seeking to bleed her younger sister as a sacrifice to enable her to return to her home dimension.

Her eye sharpened with rage as that fragment of thought crossed her mind, and she prioritized and put aside any further consideration of her current circumstances until the situation dealing with the Hell-bitch was resolved, once and for all.

Drawing her holy longsword, Angar's Fang, Lady Eliza leapt forward to deal with the creature who dared to lift a hand against her sister.

***

Rupert Giles-Ellerby, Loremaster and Patriarch of Iomedae, the ever-blessed goddess of valor, rulership, justice and honor, only blinked once as he took in his surroundings before nodding to himself and accepting the state of affairs with a simple, "So, this is what the Seers were going on about. Very well, then, let it unfold as you desire, My Lady!"

Rupert absentmindedly nodded his respects to the three other magic-users standing near him, as he evaluated the area around him. He paused for an instant in shock, as he caught sight of the demonspawn masquerading as a human woman and sensed the truly horrifying evil and malevolence contained within the admittedly fair form, ignoring for the moment the distracting memories of another life also spent fighting the demonic and working alongside a young woman, but one not centered around the Lady's service.

Sighting his protégée, the Lady Somersby, Twice-Blessed Hand of the Lady Iomedae, who was examining the demonspawn with a narrow-eyed frown he knew all too well, Rupert pulled his blessed longsword from its sheath and murmured a prayer to the Lady, asking for her favor as they faced off against the evil standing before them, as he headed off to back up his ward.

***

Alex Harrison Mundy reflexively blended into the shadows bordering the area as he evaluated the new area in which he'd suddenly found himself.

One part of his mind was telling him he'd never seen any of the people milling around in front of him before, while another part was filled with numerous memories which were variously exuberant, joyful or painful – the number and variety of them being overwhelmingly convincing evidence, at least to him, that they actually were his family, despite the fact that he was an orphan, and had been since the age of six.

His eyes narrowed as he saw the golden-haired *creature* masquerading as a human woman, and he recognized her as the thing which was currently threatening the younger girl his new memories were insisting was his adopted little sister, Dawn.

The rage that flared within both aspects of his mind at just the thought of such a creature menacing an innocent had him reflexively drawing Death's Embrace – the Morganti blade he'd stolen from Luponis, and then used on that bastard, after the assassin had murdered his Anyalla and forever destroyed any hope he'd had of a wife and children, of a family of his own. Examining the area for the best spots in which to conceal himself, he waited for the most opportune time to attack the monster before him – that one perfect moment where the thrust would be true.

The shadowdancer known to the city's criminal underworld as 'The Wraith' crouched down in the darkness surrounding him and patiently waited for his chance to remove this latest threat to someone he loved.

***

Willow Rosewood, Lady-Wizard of the Foleen Confederation shook her head to clear it of the fog filling it as she unexpectedly found herself in what would appear to be some sort of obscure magic-working with her wife, Tara, an imperious-visaged blonde magic-user, and a man who was, judging by his armor and the crest on his robe, a fairly high-ranking cleric of Iomedae.

Strange memories clashed and filled her mind – of a life in some far-flung realm where magic was an obscure and well-hidden practice, and where her most cherished wife had been robbed of her wits and mind by a vicious and evil creature which was pretending to be human, and one who was currently standing just a few yards away from them.

The heart-churning anger welling up inside her breast at the thought of how this – *thing* – had violated the woman she loved above all others had her moving forward to attack this beast, balls of crackling god's-fire beginning to form in her hands.

***

Tara Jaelithe-dotter, Beloved of the Earth Mother, Sarenrae, recoiled visibly from the psychic stench polluting the area, and she frowned deeply at the sight of the abomination standing in front of her, which dared to desecrate the Mother's realm with its presence.

The memories of another life which coexisted in her mind made her smile as she realized that they merely reaffirmed the fact that she and her wife were fated to be together, though the memories of being mind-raped and torn away from her wife by this creature before her redoubled the anger and sense of violation her second set of memories had generated.

The frowning druidess slipped her sanctified scimitar from its sheath as she moved forward, a prayer to Sarenrae issuing from her lips, asking the Lady's blessing and sanction as she, her wife and their companions dealt with this monster.

***

Anya Deirdre's-Child, Grand Sorceress of the Amber Pathway, frowned with concern as she looked at the creature a few yards away, which was ranting about keys and blood and other rambling insanities.

Effortlessly allowing the two apparently separate sets of memories filling her mind to merge, and considering both disparate recollections of two different lives as equally valid and acceptable possibilities, she accepted and even eagerly embraced the new emotional ties offered via the one set, since nothing comparable existed in the second set.

A moment later, Anya's frown shifted into a scowl of outrage! This abomination was not only looking to hurt her friend's sister, she was also threatening to tear apart the shadowways separating the worlds!

Which was something she certainly couldn't permit to happen! Family was to be treasured above all others, and while they might fight among themselves, anyone or anything that dared to threaten someone she cared about was simply begging to have their existence cut short, in as painful a manner as was available.

And besides, Grandmother and the rest of the family would be quite vexed with her if she allowed any of the Court's pretenders to disrupt the Mandala!

After all, Great-Uncle Gerard quite enjoyed sailing across the countless Shadow oceans which the family's fleets traversed, and since he always presented her with unique and beautiful gifts he acquired while away on his trips, she couldn't even consider letting this creature succeed in its plans.

Summoning Glandesh from the storage space she normally kept it in when not using it, Anya used the staff to inscribe the requisite symbols in the air before her as she strode forward to confront the pretentious and arrogant fiend.

If this pretentious upstart, Glory, wanted to return to her hell, then Anya would do her best to help speed her along on the journey!

***

Faith Kolvir-dotter, Chevalier of Cayden Cailean, drew her consecrated rapier as she eyed the skanky-looking self-proclaimed shadow deity threatening her and her friends with the eye of a veteran warrior.

Based on the new set of memories she'd suddenly acquired, this monster was not only attempting to sacrifice an innocent in some obscene ritual to open up a portal to a hell dimension, it had also been running amok through the helpless citizenry of this hamlet for several months now.

And while one set of memories she had was insisting that, after leaving the orphanage she'd grown up in, she had, of her own volition, found a Calling in the service of the venerable and fun-loving Cayden Cailean, Patron of freedom, ale, wine and bravery, the second set was telling her that she had apparently been unwillingly possessed by some unknown spirit to fight the undead and serve a group of what appeared to be gutless, cowardly old fools who had provided her with no support, whatsoever.

Shrugging her shoulders as she dismissed resolving the conflicting sets of memories until a more suitable time was available, Faith focused on the fact that some monster in human form was attempting to bleed a young girl dry, in order to create a portal to provide said fiend a way home, and also on the realization that she simply couldn't allow such an event to happen.

She allowed a grim smile to slip across her face as she realized that, if she survived the upcoming battle, these exploits would provide a story pretty much guaranteed to provide her with free drinks in any pub she'd ever see again in her life. Not that she ever had trouble getting free drinks in a pub, mind you.

~/~/~

Blinking away the lingering aftereffects of the nigh-overwhelming lightning flares, neither Dawn nor Spike could quite believe what they were looking at as they gazed down upon the battlefield below them.

A somewhat disoriented Glory was shaking her head, as though to dispel any remaining effects of the mammoth series of lightning bolts which had struck both her and the area surrounding her, and a significantly different group of people were now clustered around the obviously unsteady hellgoddess.

While each member of the group below the two dissociated Scoobies was clearly recognizable as themselves, the group now obviously squaring off for a final confrontation with Glorificus (the true name of the abomination who was so intent upon sacrificing the younger Summers sister), was also most certainly *not* the same people who'd been standing below the pair a moment earlier.

Buffy and Giles were now wearing what looked like plate-mail armor, and Faith was wearing what appeared to be chainmail and they were all carrying swords, just like the knights in the fantasy movies they used to watch on Friday nights did. Willow, Tara and Anya were all wearing long dresses like the women in those movies wore, too.

And Xander was now wearing a set of black clothing, kinda like what Keanu Reeves' character had worn in 'The Matrix' movie – except that his coat was hip-length, rather than ankle-length. Oh, and he was holding a black sword in his right hand and a long knife in his left, rather than the pistols Neo had carried, as he half-crouched in the shadows around the fringes of the battlefield.

As she stared in awed fascination, Dawn saw all of the Scoobies exchange glances with one another and then nod their heads, as though in some sort of unspoken agreement.

An instant later, Willow and Anya each gestured at Glory and beams of energy shot out of their hands, just like in the movies – although each of the beams were different in both color and in their effect on the skanky hellgoddess – while Tara's gestures caused the ground around Glory's feet to surge up and enclose her in a stone mound several feet thick reaching up to her lower torso, momentarily immobilizing her and making it easier for the rest of the Gang to attack.

The lightning bolt which had sparked from the staff in Anya's hand to Glory's body was a brilliant blue-white in color, and the subsequent thunderbolt momentarily deafened everyone present, while the stream of fire leaping from Willow's palm was an angry brilliant red-orange in hue, and had forced everyone to turn their faces away for just a moment, as heat equivalent to a blast furnace baked the area.

When it was safe to look again, the Scoobies could see that, while the two attacks had plainly injured her, judging by the enraged screaming they could hear, Glory was still quite plainly alive and kicking, and even more furious than she'd been before at their counterattack.

A moment later, Buffy, Faith and Giles were all simultaneously attacking Glory in what looked like some kinda choreographed movement, while Xander just seemed to blink out of sight from the spot where he had been crouched of to one side. He reappeared a fraction of an instant later several feet in the air above Glory, slashing down at her with the matte-black sword in his hand – while Willow, Anya and Tara all stood back and began casting less powerful, but more easily targeted, spells at the hell-bitch.

All of the swords the guys were using must have been enchanted or something, Dawn distractedly noted to herself as she watched the battle from the top of the tower, since Buffy's, Giles' and Faith's swords were now all leaving bloody slashes or wounds in the godly skank's arms when they attacked, making her shriek in combined surprise and pain from the damage they'd inflicted on her.

And Glory had screamed loudly in obvious pain when Xander had unexpectedly attacked her from the air above her head, although she'd managed to duck her head and at least partially avoid Xander's attack – though, judging from the amount of blood staining hacked-away patch of Glory's hair, it looked like he might have cut at least part of her ear off, Dawn decided, in addition to ruining her coiffure even more than Anya's lightning and Willow's fire blasts had done.

But the bitch's arm block, a reflexive response to his sneak attack as she tried to duck the other Scoobies' ensuing attacks, had managed to catch Xander in the torso, and had sent him flying through the air away from her, just like he'd been hit by a car, Dawn noticed worriedly.

{ And just where the hellmouth did Xander learn to fly, or teleport, or whatever it was he just did, anyway? } Dawn distractedly wondered to herself as she and Spike watched the swiftly moving battle taking place below them.

The young brunette watched anxiously as her former crush arced through the air and hit the ground, rolling, some ten or so yards away from the fight. Thankfully, he smoothly returned to his feet, although he was clearly now favoring his left side as he moved.

While Xander half-limped his way back towards the battle, Dawn could see Giles saying something to Buffy and Faith, before he abruptly stepped back and removed himself from the battle, allowing Buffy and Faith to continue fighting on their own.

Frowning to herself, Dawn could hear Spike cursing the ex-Watcher for what appeared to be his cowardly action, even as she wondered to herself what it was that Giles was planning.

~/~/~

"Bugger! What was I thinking?!" Buffy heard Giles mutter to himself as she swung Angar's Fang at Glory again. And she was still only managing to inflict minor damage to the hell bitch, she noted to herself as she and Faith tried to distract the godly skank sufficiently to prevent her from freeing herself from the stone prison Tara had called up in an effort to contain her.

"Eliza! Buffy, I mean! And Faith!" he corrected himself as he turned to look at his Slayer-slash-paladin and her fellow Slayer-slash-demon fighter.

"I'd forgotten – or rather, I'd ignored – some potentially significant information my alternate self possesses, which could prove invaluable," Giles informed them with a concerned frown, even as he slashed his blade across Glory's upraised arm.

"But in order to utilize it properly, I will need to withdraw from this battle and consult with Willow – and possibly Anya and Tara, too," he went on, glancing worriedly between the two and the hellgoddess.

"If it'll help us put this bitch in the ground, then go for it, Jeeves!" Faith immediately responded, her teeth bared in a predator's grin as she continued to attack the now-barely trapped hellgoddess, who was furiously breaking off pieces of the stone construct holding her, and throwing them at the three women who were peppering her with less-powerful targeted spells and who were obviously trying to not hit the Scoobies who were involved in the actual melee combat.

"Yeah, Giles," Buffy agreed, as she darted in and attempted to stab Glory in the face, drawing a particularly vicious curse from her opponent for her action. "If it'll help us get rid of this bitch and keep Dawn safe, go do whatever it is you hafta do!"

Reluctantly following the girls' directions, Giles stepped away from the fray and quickly headed towards the three women spellcasters, relying on his newly gained memories to help him identify each of the girls' vocations. He was also praying that this desperate idea would work out properly, and not condemn them all to extremely painful and possibly lingering deaths, but then there was no more time for anymore thoughts like that.

"Uh, ladies," the Watcher-slash-cleric-slash-loremaster nodded his head in brief acknowledgement as he joined them, "as I'm sure you've already realized, given the abilities this being we're dealing with surely possesses, I sincerely doubt that we have the means to seriously injure – let alone kill – her, despite what her current appearance might lead one to believe."

"I think so, too, Giles," Willow immediately nodded her own head in agreement with his observation, with both Tara and Anya mirroring her actions and words with their own. "That hell-bitch is basically shrugging off everything we're throwing at her, and we're starting to run out of options, as far as dealing effectively with her goes."

"She, she's d-desecrating this world, just be her presence here," Tara declared, her stutter more a result of the anger and rage Glory's mere presence was evoking in the druidess, rather than any lack of confidence or uncertainty. As she spoke, her hands moved in an intricate series of gestures, strengthening and reinforcing the layers of stone currently impeding Glory and holding her in place

"We need to either destroy her, or get rid of her, as quickly as possible," Anya announced with her own frown of disapproval and loathing, even as she tossed a scintillating ball of energy at the ranting superpowered nutcase.

"Yes, that's exactly what we need to do," Giles agreed with the sorceress's comment, "and I think that our best strategy to accomplish that, is for us to combine our power in to a single spell to banish this creature.

"If we're all agreed that that is the best option available to us, then what we need to do is…"

***

As the four magic-users of the group conferred, Buffy, Faith and Xander were doing their best to occupy Glory's attention and keep her from considering what the group's spellcasters might be planning.

Drawing on the pool of divine energy she could feel stored inside herself, Buffy silently sent out a prayer to her patroness and channeled that energy through Angar's Fang as she again attacked the creature who was intending to kill her sister.

The scream of surprise and pain she produced brought a grim smile to the diminutive warrior's face, and the Slayer/Lady Eliza reflexively dodged the broken fragment of rock Glory had angrily hurled at her in response to her attack, even as she began focusing for another attack.

Even as she only partially managed to dodge another rock, and winced in pain as it was deflected by her helm, Buffy heard Glory scream again, and saw the hellgoddess twist around towards Faith, whose own sword was glowing brightly with the same bluish-white aura as her own blade when she channeled her Lady's grace.

As she again focused on smiting the hellgoddess, Buffy was startled as Xander seemed to abruptly slip out of one of the deeper shadows on the other side of the stone column which was only barely restraining Glory. As he drove the black blade in his hand into her right kidney, an relentless expression, completely without mercy, on his face, the blonde hellgoddess let out a shrill scream of agony.

Glorificus then spun around, her right fist smashing into the dark-clad youth's chest and slamming him backwards, knocking him away from her, but leaving his shortsword still buried in her back. “You stupid human meat-sack! How DARE you?!” she shrieked in outrage.

As the hellgoddess awkwardly fumbled to grab and remove the blade, which was apparently continuing to inflict intolerable pain, Buffy and Faith redoubled their own attacks, each of them ruthlessly channeling what remained of their patron's/patroness's power within them to wreak as much damage as they could on their enemy, knowing that the insane hell-deity would show everyone present no mercy whatsoever, if she survived their assault.

From the corner of her eye, Buffy noticed Xander forcing himself up from the ground where he'd landed following Glory's return strike. Wavering unsteadily on his feet, he shouted to Buffy and Faith, "Back off for a minute, guys!" as he began a series of gestures as he focused his attention on their enemy.

Heeding his warning, both girls jumped back away from the hellgoddess and a moment later, a bolt of black lightning erupted from Xander's hands and impacted directly in Glory's face, making the inhuman creature scream in incoherent rage.

The next moment, the combatants heard Anya screaming at them, "Move away from the crazed deity, all of you! You most certainly don't want to be around her when our spell goes off!", and all three of them began rushing away at top speed.

Realizing that Xander's injuries wouldn't permit him to move at anywhere near his top speed, Buffy rushed towards her best friend and scooped him up in her arms as she passed, carrying him like a child as they evacuated the area in response to Anya's warning.

As they took cover behind some of the rubble, Buffy and Xander could hear Giles', Willow's and Tara's voices increasing in volume as they all chanted in some unrecognized language, and they could almost literally feel the magic intensifying in the area around Glory.

As their voices rose to a crescendo, all three made the same gesture, as though they were pushing the deity away, and a dazzling, almost blinding glow suddenly surrounded Glory and the insane hellgoddess abruptly vanished from sight, like a soap bubble that popped, and the near oppressive infusion of magic also abruptly disappeared.

"Well now," Giles said as he appeared to sway the slightest bit from the exertion of their combined casting, "that appears to have done the trick."

"Yeah, Jeeves," Faith agreed as she helped Buffy in carrying/supporting Xander as the trio rejoined the group. "That was a wicked cool idea you came up with, banishing that bitch back to wherever hell it was she came from."

"I'm just kinda surprised that no one else thought of trying that, before this," Buffy said as she helped Xander settle down on one of the fragments of wreckage big enough to support him properly.

She'd barely gotten him situated properly before Anya was shoving her way towards Xander and practically enfolding the bruised and battered Scooby in her own arms, checking his injuries and praising him for his actions, while also remonstrating him for allowing Glory to hurt him so seriously.

Anya initially gave Faith an extremely suspicious and somewhat resentful glare when she saw the younger Slayer lay a tentative hand on Xander's chest.

"Relax, demon girl, I'm just trying to see if I can use my healing mojo to take care of the X-man's injuries," Faith said as she tried to calm the former demoness' concern. "That hell bitch could hit like a fuckin' Mack truck, and I really don’t think you want him coughing up blood – or maybe a lung or two – when he's in bed with you later tonight, right?"

Upon hearing the younger Slayer's comment, Anya's expression immediately shifted to one of concern and gratitude, and she said, "No, Faith, you're completely correct about that. Especially since I've learned that Xander is capable of truly incredible sexual performances following incidents where one of us was put at extreme risk of injury or death.

"In fact, perhaps you'd like to join us later, so that we can both thank you properly," Anya added, her comment causing Xander to choke out an embarrassed, "Ahn!", and Faith to merely laugh and say, "I think that maybe I'll do just that, Anya. Thanks for the invite."

Smiling to herself at the apparent return to what the Scoobies considered normalcy, Buffy was almost knocked off her feet by Dawn's frantic embrace as the teen and her vampiric pseudo-fairy-godfather rejoined the group. Buffy’s little sister practically jumped on her in her relief at seeing that she was, while somewhat bruised and bloody, essentially uninjured.

"Oh God Buffy I thought Glory was gonna kill all of you guys before she came up to the top of the tower and then kill me too so that she could finish opening up a portal to her home hell dimension and then that would've destroyed everything and the world would've ended but it didn't because you guys stopped her and I'm so glad you're safe because I don't know what I would've done if anything happened to you!" the clearly hyper and near-hysterical teen declared in a non-stop flow of words, that portended a potential champion in the Babble Olympics.

"Well, you can stop your worrying now, Dawnie," Buffy reassured her sister as she returned her sister's agitated and near-frenzied embrace with her own hug.

"My Lady's example inspired me and she blessed me with Her favor, so that I could stand against that hell-spawn and save you," the armor-clad blonde told her sister with an assured smile, and Dawn's face shifted to a somewhat puzzled expression as she wondered who exactly Buffy was speaking about. Before she could ask her sister who she was referring to, however, Buffy turned to address Spike.

"And I want to thank you, too for rescuing Dawn from the Doc character, Spike," Buffy went on, as the rest of the group watched quietly, pleased smiles on all their faces as they gazed at Dawn and could see that she was safe, now.

As the elder Slayer, turned holy warrior, moved to hug the chipped vampire, who was standing and watching from a few feet away, Spike let out a surprised cry of pain and jumped back, away from her.

"Bloody hell, Slayer!" William the Bloody exclaimed, surprise etching his face as he stared at her in disbelief, even as he held up his hands in front of him, as though to protect himself.

"Keep your distance, would ya?" the bleached-blond vampire asked/demanded. "Please?" he added somewhat belatedly.

"You feel like a flippin' cross, now, ya do," Spike added by way of explanation, as an upset, almost offended expression crossed Buffy's face at his reaction. "I think you'd burn me like one, too, if'n ya actually touched me," he added, a cautious look on his face.

"Uh, if you don't mind my interjecting myself into this matter, Buffy – Spike's reaction actually makes quite a bit of sense, when you gives the situation some thought," Giles chimed in, as the entire Scooby Gang was staring at the pair now, with a combination of curiosity, fascination and intrigued interest.

"An explanation for why Spike reacted the way he did would be of the good, Giles," Buffy replied, her curiosity regarding his possible explanation evident on her face.

"Well, you see, it basically has to do with you being one of the Lady Iomedae's Chosen warriors, Buffy," the Slayer's Watcher, turned Loremaster/Cleric of Iomedae, informed both his protégé and the rest of the Scoobies.

"As the Lady's domains include Glory, Good, Law, the Sun and War, it is only reasonable to expect that Spike's being a vampire – albeit, one who is apparently in the process of attempting to do good, given his actions helping to protect Dawn," Giles somewhat reluctantly parenthetically noted, "would cause him to react quite negatively to someone who is empowered by a deity whose spheres of influence encompass sunlight."

"In fact," Giles went on, a contemplative look now taking possession of his face, "it is quite possible that your house might now be regarded as a church by the undead, since it could likely considered as an adjunct of sorts to a temple, since you'll be residing there and it is your home.

"And if that were so, then it would certainly be considered prudent to move a good deal of the supplies currently stored at the Magic Box to your house, so that we could take maximum advantage of the divine protections available, there," he mused aloud.

"Uh, Giles," Willow chose that moment to join in the discussion. "Before we start making any kind of long-term plans about taking advantage of anything, maybe we should make sure that all of these changes we all got are gonna stay, don't you think?" she said, the least bit uncertainly, as she made a gesture encompassing everyone gathered there, causing all present to pause and give thoughtful consideration to themselves and their companions.

***

In the moment following the redhead's statement, in a dimension of existence both simultaneously touching and far removed from the mortal planes, three divine figures observed the small group.

"Well, that'll definitely play havoc with all the plans those idiots in charge of that Facet of the Mandala had set up," a dark-haired man wearing a chain hauberk declared, a satisfied smile on his rough-hewn features as he paused to take a large gulp from the massive tankard he held in his left hand.

"Indeed, it will," the strikingly beautiful bronzed woman with flowing golden hair and massive angel wings agreed with her own smile as she watched the Scoobies interacting with love and concern for all. "Their idea of Balance will cause untold havoc across the entire Weave of Creation, if left unchecked."

"I thank you for the opportunity you offered us here, my friends," the third member of the trio, a dark-haired woman clad in shining plate mail and holding a heraldic shield on her left forearm, nodded her own agreement to the other's statements.

"Allowing one of their Chosen to fall needlessly while not putting a true end to that jumped-up harbinger, Glorificus, would only cause more significant problems in the future," she predicted with an angry frown, "and that is not something I will tolerate in any facet that touches mine.

"As it is, even if Azathoth doesn't destroy her completely for invading its realm, that bitch won't be in any sort of state to cause problems for the next several millennia," the being known as Iomedae, the Light of the Sword, declared with a pleased smile.

"Ah, well, even if nothing more comes of our work, it's still fun to put a thumb in these wankers' eyes," the man, Cayden Cailean – also known as both the Drunken Hero and the Accidental God – stated with a wide grin, which quickly shifted to a truly intimidating frown.

"Enslaving these girls to do their dirty work for them is the worst sort of cowardice!" he said, his eyes seeming to flash with lightning as he spoke. "So, any time the chance comes up to do something that might help free them, I'm going to do whatever I can!"

"You speak truly, and with great passion, my friend," the angel-winged woman, worshipped throughout many lands as Sarenrae, the Dawnflower, the Healing Light, declared as she out a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"All we can do, now, is trust that the seeds of hope we have planted here this day will take root and flourish," she reminded him.

"However things might progress from this moment on, an upstart godling looking to cause pain and havoc has been thwarted, and the misbegotten plans of those fools charged with overseeing and guiding this particular Aspect of the Mandala have been destroyed," Sarenrae stated with an approving smile.

"We can be satisfied that a warrior has been saved from undeserved pain and agony, and that she and her companions will continue on, and the Darkness pushed back one more time," the Dawnflower stated.

"For the moment, that is sufficient."


FIN

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Author's Post-script 1: At the moment, I have no further plans for expanding this particular alternate Scooby-verse, although I'm sure that my muse will eventually come up with something more, since I left an ample number to potential plot threads hanging, which could be picked up. If your muse does come up with an idea about the further adventures of this particular aspect of the Scoobies, let me know and I'll probably open up the doors and let you play in this section of my muse's backyard.

Author's Post-script 2: For those who don't recognize the references, I'm using the Pathfinder Roleplaying System, and a customized version of their campaign world. You can find more information at the pathfinder Wiki, here: http://www.pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Pathfinder_Wiki
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Background:

Most of the Scoobies were transformed into their dimensional equivalents from the Pathfinder basic setting world (except Dawn and Spike), and I'm detailing exactly what those counterparts were, below.

Buffy merged with Eliza, Lady Somersby, a Paladin of Iomedae (LG, Goddess of valor, rulership, justice and honor),

Giles merged with Rupert Giles-Ellerby, a Loremaster/Cleric of Iomedae (LG, Goddess of valor, rulership, justice, honor), keeping them together as a Slayer/Watcher team;

Xander merged with Alex Harrison Mundy, a Shadowdancer/Rogue (NG);

Willow merged with Willow Rosewood, Lady-Wizard of the Foleen Confederation (NG);

Tara merged with Tara House-Jaelithe, a Druid worshipping Sarenrae (NG, Goddess of the sun, redemption, honesty and healing);

Anya merged with Anya Amberdottir, a Sorceress (NG, infernal bloodline).

Faith merged with Faith Kolvir-dotter, a cleric/fighter serving Cayden Cailean (CG, God of freedom, ale, wine and bravery).

The End

You have reached the end of "The Gift – Revisited". This story is complete.

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