Chapter Eight: Cause It Hurts Like Hell
Chapter Eight: Cause It Hurts Like Hell
Xander and Giles followed the winding path to its end at a postern door at the back of the castle. Xander tried the latch and it opened easily.
“You think we're expected?”
“I haven't any idea, but we must be very alert. This is the Goblin King's stronghold, and one can only suppose that his power and defenses will be concentrated here.”
“Alrighty, then. Let's go find Dawn and skedaddle.”
They made their way through a long dark passageway that opened into the most bizarre room Xander had ever seen.
“Giles! This place looks like Hogwarts!”
“It does, a bit. If M. C. Escher had designed Hogwarts.”
“You've seen the Harry Potter movie?”
go to films occasionally, you know.”
“Yeah, but I figured you probably went to those arty foreign films. You know, the ones in that category at the Oscars where nobody you know has even heard
of any of the titles? Geez, Giles—Monty Python and
Harry Potter? Who'da thought?”
“Yes, well, I also do occasionally keep up with popular culture,” Giles said dryly.
culture, at least.”
“There is that. Shall we?”
They stepped into the room, which was actually quite beautiful. Curved staircases that resembled DNA ladders, if they had been done in burnished wood, and floating stairs without any visible means of support flowed throughout the room to end at occasional platforms. A series of arched windows in the castle wall let in light and air. It was a fantastic room, in the truest sense of the word.
Xander's breath caught in his throat and he grasped Giles' arm. “Look!”
The Goblin King was climbing one of the floating staircases—on the underside. His feet firmly touched down on each tread, then lifted to climb to the next step, yet his body was completely upside down. It was as if gravity did not exist in this room. Jareth stood upside down on the platform, then walked to the end of it and took a step; and then he was standing upright on the platform. At least, he was upright according to Giles and Xander's perspective, but neither man felt that they could absolutely trust what their physical senses were telling them — not in this place.
Jareth stepped off the platform and seemed to float down until he was standing on a raised dais before an intricately carved throne. He put his hands on his hips and stared at them.
“So. You have solved my Labyrinth, circumvented the Goblin City and made your way to my castle. And for what? Do you expect me to grant you your heart's desire?”
“That isn't possible,” Giles said harshly.
“Ah. But it is. If you but wish it.”
“No wishing! My girlfriend used to be a Vengeance demon and she warned us about you! We're not doing any wishing, buddy!”
Jareth looked at Xander with interest. He gracefully descended the steps from the dais and walked toward them. He slowly circled Xander, with his eyes narrowed in concentration, as he took in every detail of Xander's appearance.
“Halfrek?” He asked.
“Hal—what? What do you mean?” Xander was uncomfortable. A magical being staring at you as if you were a bug, and then saying a word in a language that probably wasn't English, was never a good thing in Xander's experience.
Jareth nodded. “Anyanka,” he said decisively.
“You leave Anya out of this!”
“Your heart's desire,” Jareth whispered seductively. “I can grant it to you.”
“No. No wishing!” Xander said firmly.
“Or, I can make sure that it is forever denied to you!”
“Giles!” Xander called. “A little help here?”
Giles stepped forward. “You have our friend, Dawn Summers. We have come to get her back.”
“She came to me of her own free will. She made her choice—you have no right to her.”
“If it truly is her choice to remain with you and not some glamour or spell you've placed on her, then you can have no objection to our speaking with her and ascertaining that for ourselves,” Giles stated.
“Yeah. We want to see her right now. And if you've done anything to her—”
“Xander.” Giles placed a cautioning hand on Xander's forearm.
“I've given her everything she asked . . . I've built worlds for her. What could you possibly offer her to compare to that?”
“We'll see when we speak with her. And, be assured that if you have
bespelled her, I shall know,” Giles stated more confidently than he actually felt, but it was important to negotiate from a position of strength when dealing with Jareth. He wasn't sure how
he knew this, but he was certain of it.
“Yes-s-s-s,” Jareth said slowly. “You have power—of a sort. But do you think you can compete with me
? The Goblin King?”
“This isn't about power,” Giles said sharply. “It's about Dawn, and what is best for her. Are you afraid to let her chose of her own free will?”
Jareth stepped back with a hiss. “I fear no human!” He whirled and started up a flight of stairs.
“I don't think that's quite true,” Giles whispered to Xander.
“You think he really is
afraid of you, Giles? Go, you!”
“No. He doesn't fear me—he fears Dawn. He fears her choosing to leave and return with us. I believe he is very lonely, here with only goblins for company, and that makes him very dangerous. He needs a companion, someone to look up to him—to worship him, I dare say. However, he has no desire to control Dawn's mind, although I'm quite sure he's capable of it; he wants her to stay with him because she wants
“Well, that's good then, isn't it? 'Cause once we get a chance to talk to Dawn, she won't want to stay here. She'll want to come back with her friends! Won't she?”
“I certainly hope so, and we must do all we can to convince her that she is loved and wanted, but—”
Jareth had reached the platform at the top of the staircase. He called for Dawn, and within a short time, she appeared. She wore a gauzy white, hip-length peasant-type shirt and jeans; she looked
like Dawn, only she somehow looked older, more serene, and happy. Jareth held out a hand to her and she stepped from the passageway into thin air, with no trace of fear. She floated down to the platform on which Jareth stood and took his waiting hand. He gently lowered her to stand beside him.
“Holy shit, Giles! She looks so . . . happy. What if she doesn't
want to come with us?”
Jareth and Dawn floated in concert to the dais. “Dawn, your friends have come to see that you're all right, and that you're happy here,” Jareth said.
“What? Friends?” Dawn finally managed to tear her gaze away from Jareth and noticed them. “Xander! Giles! What are you guys doing here?” She ran lightly down the steps of the dais toward them.
“We've come to take you home, Dawnster,” Xander said with a grin.
“Oh, my dear,” Giles placed both hands on Dawn's shoulders. “I am so sorry. We were all so lost in our own grief, we spared barely a thought for you. That was unforgivable—especially on my part. I failed you, and I am so very sorry.”
Dawn stared deeply into his hazel eyes, that looked very green at present. “She's really gone, isn't she? Buffy. She's really—”
“Dead.” Giles forced himself to complete her sentence, for both their sakes. It was the first time he had been able to say the word. “Yes, Dawn, she is. Buffy is dead. But Xander and I, Willow and Tara, and Anya and . . . Spike, are still here, and we miss you very much.”
Dawn began to cry, and Giles enfolded her in his arms, gently holding her while she sobbed.
“I miss her so much, Giles. It hurts so bad. I couldn't stand it—being alone. I felt so . . . frozen, like I was in a jar. And you guys were all in your own jars and none of us could touch each other and it hurt so bad. I just wanted it to be different. I want Mom and Buffy to be not dead. Giles, the monks made me out of her—of Buffy. I'm a part
of her. And if she's gone . . . what am I? Do I even exist?”
“You're Dawn Summers—a person in your own right. And we're all
come to care for you deeply. You and Buffy are two separate people, Dawn. You are yourself, and we came to find you because we miss and need you
“Enough!” Jareth was angry. “I have been generous up until now, but I can be cruel.”
“Generous?” Xander snorted. “What have you done that's generous?”
“Everything!” Jareth turned to Dawn and took her chin in his hand. “Everything that you wanted, I have done. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. Isn't that generous?”
Dawn was losing herself in Jareth's eyes. She nodded.
“Look, Dawn! Look what I'm offering you.” The crystal appeared in his hand again. “Your dreams! I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me. Love me. Do as I say, and I will be your slave.”
Dawn's eyes cleared. “Let you rule
me? Hey, I'm a Summers woman, and we've never been much for doing what someone else tells us to.”
“She's certainly gotten that right!” Giles whispered to Xander. “Dawn, he has no power over you, unless you give it to him.”
“And I don't want a slave, I want a family and friends. You have no power over me!”
“Dawn!” Jareth cried out. “You can't mean that.” He took both her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes again. “How you've turned my world, you precious thing. You starve and near exhaust me. Everything I've done, I've done for you
. I move the stars for no one! You've run so long; you've run so far. Yet, your eyes can be so cruel, just as I can be so cruel—though I do believe in you. Yes, I do.”
“I'm sorry, Jareth,” Dawn said gently. “You have no power over me. You have no power over me!
As she denied Jareth for the third time, the world cracked. Dawn and Xander and Giles were sucked into a vortex that whirled them around. Dawn clung to Giles, who put his arms tightly around her. Xander stretched his arms around both Dawn and Giles. The three held on tightly to each other, until they landed with a Thump!
“Ow!” Xander yelled. He was on the bottom of the pile and couldn't see a thing. “Where are we?”
Giles lifted his head and looked around. “We're in the Bogglesworth mausoleum, if I'm not mistaken.”
“Ew!” Dawn exclaimed. “Are there any Bogglesworths here? 'Cause Xander, that would be sorta gross for you.”
“No,” Giles reassured her. “The Bogglesworth sarcophagus is only a portal to the Labyrinth, not an actual tomb.”
“Well, that's . . . good.”
“Any time you two want to get up . . .” Xander suggested.
Giles climbed out of the sarcophagus and helped Dawn out. Xander followed, rubbing his backside.
“We'd better get to the store and let Anya know we're back,” Xander suggested. “She'll be worried.”
They exited the Bogglesworth mausoleum and began walking through the cemetery. Dawn turned for a final look.
“Um, guys?” she said. “It's gone!”
Giles turned to look. The Bogglesworth mausoleum had indeed disappeared.
Selected Jareth dialogue from The Labyrinth
Anya was behind the cash register and Spike was pacing in the back of the store, away from the windows in the front. His leather duster swirled around his legs as he took four steps in one direction, came to the library table and turned to retrace his steps until he was stopped by the bookshelves. The bell over the door clanged as Giles, Dawn and Xander entered.
Anya threw herself into Xander's arms. “You can run the store for the rest of the day,” she informed Giles. “Xander and I are going home to have sex!”
She dragged Xander out of the store before Giles had a chance to protest.
Spike grasped Dawn's hands, and studied her carefully for any signs of injury. He couldn't smell any blood, and didn't see any signs of bruising or broken bones. He gathered her into a bear hug.
“Don't you ever
do that to me again, Platelet! I couldn't bear losing you, too.”
Dawn breathed in the scent of leather, cigarettes and whiskey, underlaid with fear. She had never known Spike to be afraid of anything
, but he had been afraid of losing her
. Dawn smiled. Spike had been afraid for her, and Xander and Giles had risked everything to go find her. Even Anya must have been worried about her, because she had agreed to let Xander come look for her. These were her
friends, not just Buffy's; she realized that now. She was home. Epilogue: It Hurts Like Hell.
Less than a block from Giles' apartment, Xander saw Willow and Tara walking. He beeped the horn and then pulled over. He jumped out of the car and gathered them both into a hug.
“It is so
good to see you guys! I really missed you, Will. And, Tara, glad to see you back—I mean really
'back'—with us again!”
“I-it's g-good to be back.”
“Little trouble breathing here!” Willow said with a smile.
Xander released them with a sheepish glance.
Anya got out of the car, slid the keys out of the ignition, and locked the doors. She handed the keys to Xander and whispered in his ear, “Can we tell them now?”
Xander whispered back, “Not now, Ahn. I think this party is supposed to be all about getting Dawn back, and we don't want to steal her thunder.”
“But what about my
Willow looked back to see what was keeping them, so Xander grabbed Anya's hand and hurried to catch up with Willow and Tara.
“So, do either of you know why Giles called this meeting?” Willow asked. “We just got back, and I asked if we could do it tomorrow, but he insisted that it had to be tonight.”
Xander grinned. “I have an idea, but I'm gonna let Giles tell you himself. Don't want to steal anyone's thunder.”
“No, we can't have that!”
“I know, I know!” Anya said grumpily.
They arrived at Casa Giles to discover Dawn and Spike already there.
doing here?” Xander protested.
“He's here because I asked him to be here, Xander.” Giles replied.
When everyone had been seated, Giles handed out glasses of whiskey all around.
Spike looked surprised as he accepted his. He certainly hadn't expected this kind of decent treatment from any of the Scoobs.
Giles stood and cleared his throat. He put his glass down on the end table and groped for his handkerchief. He began polishing his glasses while he gathered his thoughts.
He slid his glasses back on, picked up his glass of whiskey and cleared his throat again. “I specifically asked you all here tonight so that Spike could join us.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. He was beginning to get a bad feeling about this whole thing.
Giles continued. “It was actually Anya who reminded me of my responsibilities, and I'd like to thank her for it.” Giles turned directly to Anya and tipped his glass to her in salute, but he didn't drink, so no one else did either. “Thank you, Anya.”
“You're welcome!” Anya replied, smiling brightly. She wasn't sure exactly what she had done, but apparently it was a good
thing, so yay!
Like Spike, Anya wasn't used to being singled out for praise from the group.
“Buffy designated me the patriarch of this little band, and although I am fairly sure she had the ulterior motive of sticking me with the clean-up after the Thanksgiving meal, she was essentially correct. I came to think of Buffy as rather like a daughter—frequently stubborn, occasionally annoying, but always very much loved. Anya reminded me that there is a reason
friends and loved one gather to have—as Anya researched the definitive American menu—ham and casseroles and various kinds of gelatin desserts. And that reason is to share memories to comfort each other, and to help each other find a way to go on without Buffy, both as individuals and as a group.
“So, I have asked you all here tonight, to partake of the funeral meats—which include roast beef and turkey, as well as ham—and to join with each other in mourning the loss of Buffy Anne Summers, who meant so much to all of us. By sharing our pain at her loss, perhaps we can lessen it. By sharing our joy in what she meant to us, perhaps we can increase it.”
“We come not to bury Buffy, but to praise her? That the idea, Rupert? Won't bring her back.”
“No, Spike, it won't. But you cared about her, too. We're all grieving, but we need to find a way to go on without her. You're welcome to join us in that. It won't bring her back, but it can assure that she's never really gone, as she lives on in each of our hearts.”
Giles raised his glass and looked around at the gathered mourners.
“To Buffy!” Giles' voice was strong and sure. He tossed back his drink, and went to the kitchen to begin putting out the food. He never noticed that one guest didn't drink.
Willow's thoughts were elsewhere, and she never heard the last of Giles' speech or the toast. As the others got up to help with the food, Willow sat motionless.
Her eyes were black pools as she smiled triumphantly. “I can do it,” she whispered. “I can bring her back.”Finis