Summary : An Alternate ending to the Series 5 Episode 'Tough Love' In which Buffy makes a deal with Glory to safeguard 3 people close to her while also restoring Tara's broken mind. In the end though the 3 of them will travel much further than they would have guessed.
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS or any of it's characters, just these words.
Warning: This work is unbetaed proceed at own risk. War Never Changes By Fallen Gods Chapter 1 : Divergence
"YOU DID WHAT!" Giles was perhaps a touch upset.
"Giles just..." Buffy tried to explain
"Buffy, How could you just..." Willow spoke sadly
"Will, please let me..."
"Explain?" Xander interjected "No please do go on explain.
What were you thinking Buff?"
"Will everyone just listen
for five minutes" Buffy was loosing her own cool. "I did what I had to, I spoke to Glory and I made a deal"
Everyone started shouting overtop of one another again, A loud crash as a saucepan is brought down on the Summers kitchen table silences the group.
"Everyone just shut your bleedin' pie-holes" that and the glare Spike is wearing ensures only a fool would speak up. "Passions is on in forty minutes and I've gotta find out if Timmy'll ever walk again."
"And just why is fangless here?" turning to face him "You're not wanted Spike, You're never wanted."
With a smirk to show everyone just how intimidating the whelp isn't Spike leans in "I was invited."
"What?" Xander spins back to Buffy looking betrayed.
Buffy just raises a hand, looks at everyone to make sure she has their attention and begins again. "Glory is faster, stronger and tougher than anything I've ever fought."
"But you're smarter, right?" Willow adds looking hopefully at Buffy
Giles looks between them pensively, hope and fear both warring for control of his expression.
Xander looks like he's trying to grasp a thought too alien to make sense.
Spike just looks bored as he sips from his flask.
"I think so Will, at least I hope so because I've got a plan and if it works Dawn will be safe and Tara will be Tara-like again."
"What, Really, How, Didyoufindaspell becauseIhaven'tfoundaspell andI'dthinkthatifanyonewouldfindit,it'dbeme. No offense"
"Breathe Will and none taken, Like I said I talked with Glory and we made a deal."
"See this is where I'm having trouble 'coz when we 'deal' with the bad guys, usually there's less jaw-jaw and more 'Pow Kapow Poof'." Xander offered sarcastically
Giles managed to look angry and disappointed simultaneously "I'm much more concerned with the fact that you took such an enormous risk alone Buffy. This really is the sort of irresponsible attitude that frankly I thought you'd outgrown."
"Huh" Buffy was confused but Giles continued with his rant.
"To just walk up to Glorificus and chat like you're at the WI is simply beyond the pale Buffy, I expected better of you than this. And to go alone after you saw how that worked out for Willow is really adding insult to injury. I should have been there, I'm your Watcher!" Giles finally ran out of steam and went silent.
Everyone else Spike included were staring openly at this outburst from the normally composed man.
Buffy tentatively interrupted the silence "Umm Giles, I spoke to Glory, on the phone" pointing at the device as if to offer proof.
Giles followed her gesture and stared at the device as if it was something newly arrived from Neptune, "Oh" his eyes widening, "Umm I see" blinking he takes off his glasses and starts to clean them vigorously, "that is, Buffy I do apologize. I misunderstood your meaning. I should not have doubted you so grievously."
Unable to fight the grin and enjoying the moment of levity Buffy answered "s'ok,, I mean I may need extensive therapy and years to recover from the emotional trauma, but we really mustn't expect you to be familiar with all our new-fangled gizmos"
He didn't need his glasses to see the grins on their faces. Well nothing for it he'd just have to bear it and hope they wouldn't mock him too hard.
"Yeah G-Man, I know our American ways are strange to you, but soon you'll be just like us"
"Oh dear lord."
"S' what's the deal then Slayer?" bringing everyone back to the reason they were there.
The gratitude Giles felt towards Spike in that moment would haunt his future nightmares he was sure, but for now he was just glad for the help retaining some measure of dignity. At least Spike had saved him from the worst of it. He froze. Surely it didn't count if he only thought it, did it?
"In your own time Summers" Spike drawled "but preferably before gramps here goes doolally again, gotta be careful with seniors y'know" he smirked
"Seniors! look who's..."
"Giles, focus" Buffy tried to restore order, her smile wasn't helping. nor for that matter were Willow's shoulders which were shaking in a very suspicious manner.
Giles forced his outrage under his control he muttered under his breath 'Bloody cheeky gits! and fucking Murphy' noticing movement he looked up to see Spike now grinning and with one eyebrow raised. 'poxy vampire hearing'
Buffy unaware of this exchange went back to sharing her news. "Glory will restore Tara's sanity.." various exclamations of shock greeted this "...AND will allow Dawn and Tara to leave Sunnydale" more shocked voices.
"Yeah so what's the catch?" Spike queried
"We have to sacrifice one of our fighters"
"What do you mean?" "Who?" "Buffy are you sure this is wise?"
"It's decided" Buffy said with finality "Fighting her might be hopeless but if we protect Dawn and save Tara then we've won anyway. Our 'sacrifice
'" The word was squicky for her "will go with them"
"I'm not leaving you Buffster" Xander was equally firm "or Anya" he added quickly shooting his head round to see if she was there to hear his slip.
"I'm not going either, with Tara gone you'll need my magic" looking at Buffy through unshed tears "and I owe you for this, for helping Tara when I couldn't even avenge her. I wont leave you"
"Naturally, I will always stand by you" Giles turned to look at Spike "besides I believe you have chosen your sacrifice" Giles looked uncomfortable at the thought but then he reasoned, would he prefer the vampire remain here?
Everyone looked at Spike "What?" Realisation dawned "Oh Bollocks"
"Him!" "Buffy are you sure?"
"Yeah, He likes Dawn and Tara. He'll protect them." Buffy reassured her friends. Turning to spike she spoke gently "Wont you?"
Spike met her gaze for a moment "'til the end of the world" it was spoken with such sincerity that nobody could muster the disrespect to question it.
"When's this all supposed to happen?" asked Xander
"Tomorrow, midnight." at the groups looks Buffy added "She chose the time, I picked the place, outside the High School."
No one knew what to say until Spike straightened up from his lean against the wall and said "Right, well best be off then. looks like I've got a trip to pack for. See you lot there."
Slowly the group broke up and left the kitchen unsure what they should be doing.
The Time of the meeting came quickly, Spike arrived with and RV with a blacked out windscreen and supplies for over a month. The Scoobies minus Giles who'd arrived in his own car piled out of the vehicle and noticed Glory dressed like she was heading for the red carpet with half a dozen minions about her.
"Dawn stay inside!"
Dawn rolled her eyes at her sisters instruction but did go back in the RV.
"Well are you brainless worms ready or are you going to keep me waiting. FYI I start ripping out spines when I get bored."
With a look to her friends Buffy answered "We're ready."
She started walking over with her arm around Tara's waist. Tara was muttering mournfully about spirals, yellow woods and stars "but there's terrible confusion, because they've all been given the same name."
Buffy just looked at her sadly "It's OK, I promise everything's going to be alright."
They met Glory halfway and with surprisingly little banter Glory reached her hands into Tara's head and restored what she had taken. Glory was staggered but quickly recovered. Tara however collapsed into Buffy "Tara! Tara are you OK, come on."
"Bu-Buffy, I ugh my head." Tara groaned as Buffy carried her back to the group "I got so lost."
"It's OK sweetie we found you, we'll always find you" a delighted Willow cooed to her. Everyone else gathered round to welcome her back
"well then you've got the witch bitch back and I saw the brat cowering back there so who is leaving with them, Hmm."
"I am" Spike spoke up tossing his cigarette away.
"Aww is the delicate little vampire running away, after all the fun we had last time" Glory took a step forward with a smile that chilled even Spike's room temperature blood.
Refusing to show his fear Spike was about to make some unflattering comment on her backside or maybe her tits this time when she cut him off.
"Of course there is one thing before you go, you see it occurred to me that you might see this as an opportunity to smuggle my Key out of town. JINX!"
"Yes O most holy and beauteous one, I am ready" The minion somehow managed to dash forwards submissively while swaying a censer emitting blue smoke.
Buffy stepped towards Glory "What's that, what is he doing?" The Scoobies moved to support her in case it came to a fight.
Glory smiled patronizingly "It's simple Jinxy here will walk in a circle around your little trailer trash home. Then if my Key is inside the smoke will turn green and I'll choke you to death on your own spleens, 'K?"
"Fine just get on with it and he better not try anything or he's the one that ends up dead," Buffy's bravado was automatic as her mind focused on protecting Dawn "'K" The last said with enough disdain that for a moment Buffy feared she'd pushed too far and Glory would attack. Fortunately she held back too focused on her Key.
"Dawn get out here and help Tara" Buffy shouted with sisterly irritation masking her fear. but it worked Dawn emerged grumbling about being told to stay in, come out stupid Buffy thinks she's the boss of me. She came over and helped to support Tara while Glory largely ignored them. She already knew that the vampire and the lying witch weren't her Key and the brat had been around for years so it couldn't be her. instead she split her focus between Jinx's progress and her cuticles.
Jinx finished his task and with a pout Glory realized the smoke was unchanged she wouldn't get her Key today. "Fine let's just get rid of three of you losers so I can go home and get a mani-pedi."
"Fine Spike, Dawn help Tara into the RV" Buffy had said her goodbyes to to three of them before and only Willow was saying goodbye again now Tara was coherent. Tara didn't know what was going on but was scared enough of Glory that she was willing to go along with anything that got her away. As Dawn helped her up into the rather nice (if she was any judge) interior, she wondered why Willows goodbyes felt so powerful surely whatever the plan they'd see each other soon, wouldn't they?
"Priest!" Glory yelled at her assembled minions " is it ready?"
"Yes most holy Glorificus." he said with greater solemnity than any of the others where capable of in her presence.
The Scoobies noticed an array of almost a dozen red candles where the minions had been standing. They were in the process of being lit by those same minions. Buffy turned towards Glory fearful that she'd been discovered. "What's going on, what are they doing?"
"They are lighting candles because I'm reasonably certain even they can't mess that up. I on the other hand will be opening the door your little friends will abandon you through."
"A portal? that wasn't part of our deal!"
"Of course it was. Do you really think I'd do all this for them to drive upstate and come back when you call?" She sneered at the little slayer that thought herself equal to a goddess, and not just any goddess but one as magnificent and perfect as me, well we'll see how long that lasts "No they are going away to somewhere they can't help you just like we agreed. If that's a problem I'd be happy to snap your little friends necks until you see things my way."
Buffy was worried the plan was coming apart, she had to think quickly "You think I'll just let you send my friends, my sister to some demon dimension! How can you even do this without the key, I thought that was the whole point of coming to Sunnydale finding it and opening a portal home?"
Glory did not like to be reminded that she still did not have her Key but the shock and worry on the slayer-bitches face was remarkable soothing, or maybe it was the two doctors she'd absorbed before coming here? It didn't matter really she was just enjoying putting this peon into her place. "I'm a goddess, do you have any idea what that means? how small you are next to me? How weak and pathetic your whole species is?
In the background Xander tried to make a comment that 'if humanity was so bad how come it had UPN ' but he was ignored and shushed by Willow.
Buffy was still trying to figure out her next move while Glory continued with her verbal diarrhoea. "I can open portals to most realms. But my realm is locked by the same traitors that sent me here. To get past the lock I need my Key. Is your tiny mind able to grasp this?" Glory looked from Buffy to the air above the candles, muttered a few words then clapped her hands twice as if operating a clapping light switch. A orange vortex burst forth seeming to spiral for at least twenty metres but from the side it was all but invisible.
Someone gasped but Glory carried on, ignoring those beneath her "As for the demon dimension, well it did occur to me but I figured you'd probably bitch and whine. So what do I care where they go as long as they're gone. Have the red witch check it, she'll sense no demonic energy of any kind."
"What!" this time it was Willow who interrupted. "That's not possible, even if there's no Hellmouth the vampires and demons living there will all contribute energy to the.."
"Try to wrap your tiny brain around this" the hell goddess started slowly with exaggerated disdain "Since there are no demons there, there is no demonic energy."
"A world without demons?" Buffy was staring into the portal as if she was trying to see what that world would be like. "How'd they get rid of them?"
"They didn't. There have never been demons there." She stopped thoughtfully "Well I suppose a couple might have arrived through portals like this but no more than that."
Seeing the look on Buffy's face Giles felt the need to inject a note of caution "Yes well I feel I must point out that the absence of demons does not guarantee safety, this world may still be ruled by dinosaurs for instance"
"No moron, I made sure this portal would take them to a world infested with humans, just like this one, it even has technology. Beyond that even I don't know anything about it. Now stop stalling because if I start to think you're going back on our deal I'll step on you like the insects you are."
Buffy was stunned, Technologically advanced humans with no demons. She tried to imagine what this world could have been without demons. Through that portal would be paradise, everything she'd ever wanted since she was fifteen and first called.
Willow had been doing something magicy in front of the portal, she turned nodded to Buffy "It's true no demonic energy, next to no magic. There's no way for me to check the rest though."
Buffy knew what her plan was she'd give her sister what she could never have a normal life. She knew she was taking a risk with Spike but felt sure she could trust him at least as long as Tara and Dawn were around. Besides with the chip he couldn't turn anyone anyway. Satisfied she wouldn't be introducing Demony badness to an Eden turned to Glory "OK we're ready I'll tell them to go."
Buffy ignored Glory waving her hand impatiently and walked towards the vehicle. She knew she was doing the right thing. She was saving the world, saving Dawn, saving Tara and even spike too. She had slowed down without noticing it was harder than she thought it would be. She'd known from the beginning this could be a forever kind of goodbye but now with the portal it was so much more so.
Spike was waiting for her leaning in the doorway "So this is the big goodbye then 'So-sodding-long, Fare-bleedin'-well'"
"You heard then?" she was looking at anything but him.
"Vampire hearin' don't miss much luv." standing straighter he reached out and lifted her gaze to his "They'll be safe, I'll make you proud."
"I know Spike, I trust you. Willow will open it again when it's safe to come home." she reached up and put her hand on his. "Spike I..."
Don't luv, don't say something you don't mean eh, I think I've earned that." giving a weak smile.
Buffy's smile was bigger and warmer "You're right you have. In that case keep them safe, take care of yourself and try not to screw up the world."
"I'll see what I can manage." Both smiles were genuinely large now "Best be off, her skankyness is looking a mite peeved." Spike moved back to the drivers seat and pulled on some frankly ridiculous gogles. At Buffy's raised eyebrows he just grinned and asked "Like what you see then? I knew it."
"Oh Yeah absolutely, the fashion victim look is very in right now."
"Well better this than the flaming eyeballs look."
"True." turning serious she looked up at him willing him to hear her sincerity "Spike, Thank you."
He nodded he didn't ask for clarification it wasn't necessary. He went to close the door but a different Summers voice interrupted him.
"Dawn, everything's alright. Just make sure you listen to Spike and Tara" flicking her eyes over to Spike "Well mostly Tara."
Spike just cocked his head and arched a single brow but Dawn ignored him and continued to focus on Buffy
"What's going on? Why is there a portal? Has something happened?"
"Just a small change but don't worry it's all still of the good, Spike'll explain the rest when you get where you're going." She reached out and grasped Dawns hand "Be good 'K, and stay out of trouble."
"Excuse me! I'm the good sister. You're the one that causes trouble" Her tone is that of unjustly accused teenagers everywhere.
"Alright then bit it's time to sit down an' get ready to go."
"Fine." Dawn huffs and rolls her eyes well aware that she's being manipulated but unwilling to argue about it now. She heads back towards where Tara is sitting on a sofa.
Buffy backs away and Spike shuts the door and starts the engine. The other Scoobies move up beside Buffy as the RV drives forward into the portal. Buffy stands resolute trying to be happy in the knowledge that she has just saved the world and that Dawnie is safe, tears silently roll down her cheeks. A strong arm wraps around her banishing the cold she hadn't even realized she'd been feeling. She sniffles and rests her head on Giles arm the tears flowing more freely. Giles moves to embrace her with both arms and Willow and Xander oin the hug all offering what comfort they can.
"Oh how touching, I think I might puke." Glory interrupted
"What do you want now? in case you hadn't noticed we're done." Buffy once again had to be strong.
"Oh I just thought I say goodnight and offer you a chance to give me my Key again."
"No" Buffy was too tired, she just wanted to go home.
"Yeah that's so not happening." Xander added.
"No way." Willow showed her support.
"Fine but I'll get it in the end you know, even if I have to tear off your skin to look underneath," Glory paused seeming to consider that image "or just y'know for fun. Later" Glory left at ridiculous speed for someone in heels that high, going back to wherever she was staying since Willow had trashed her penthouse.
The Scoobies headed to Giles car, on the drive home Buffy couldn't help but think that while the Key was now beyond Glory she would eventually kill them all looking for it. And nothing Buffy could think of would even slow her down, even Willow had been at best a momentary nuisance, It was hopeless. She wondered if another slayer would even be called. At least Dawn, Tara and Spike were safe she imagined they'd have good lives. Buffy wished she could visit their paradise but there was no place for a slayer in paradise. She was born here, fought here and it was looking like she'd die here. She reflected that for all the good she'd done, all the battles won...
.... The War never changes.
Authors note : Well thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this please let me know what you liked or how it could be improved or just list the references you spotted so everyone will know how awesome you are. Any advice on making Dawns one line actually sound like it came from her would also be nice.
From the last line I imagine most of you know what the crossover is the supposed paradise will either be F3 or NV (Poor, dumb, Har... er Scoobies) let me know which you'd prefer as I'll replay a bit before I write too much.
Finally this is open enough that it could lead to any number of crossovers, if you'd like to do this please go ahead just give credit in your story and please link back. I'd also like a link to your story so I can see your take on this set-up