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- FIC: Riders PG-13 (30/30)
Chapter 27 Wave Goodbye
Wave goodbye to what you were
The rules have changed
The lines begin to blur.
She makes you hard.
It comes on strong.
You finally found the
place you belong.
-Nine Inch Nails
Spike gently set the crystal on the wagon’s floor between the two benches. Concerned about damage during the trip, Buffy had instantly offered the brown dress as a cushion.
Tara folded the dress and carefully sat the three foot tall Crystal gently on the material. It would help soften any jolt from rough terrain and there was still enough material left from the voluminous dress to swaddle the sides. Tara and Willow meticulously tucked the cloth around both rebuilt fins. Sitting back to check their charges’ position one final time, the witches shared an amused smile. Their entire fate rested on something that resembled a plump 1950’s spaceship already positioned for flight on its launch pad. Willow could just imagine the comments Xander would have made.
Giles was unwilling to leave McGee alone, so he and the former Watcher sat quietly on one bench within the roomy carriage while Tara and Willow sat on the opposite bench tightly holding the crystal stable.
Buffy had insisted on riding Jackpot so by default that left Spike to drive the carriage. Sitting high atop the driver’s bench, Spike lifted the reins and encouraged the team of horses into motion. When the carriage began to move, Spike winked at Buffy and grinned rakishly.
Buffy grinned in return. She lightly touched Jackpot with her heels and sedately rode alongside the carriage as it swayed and bumped its way into the desert.
The sky had already begun to darken by the time they arrived at their location. Spike stopped the carriage, applied its brake and helped the witches down while Buffy tied her horse to the back of the carriage.
The Slayer had chosen to bring everyone out to the deepest, most curved portion of the river.
The witches and the Crystal of Namine were the critical components in Buffy’s plan. It was paramount that they have a way to send the demons to the hell dimension. But because they wouldn’t be able to use any other magicks while around the crystal during or even before the reset, Tara and Willow could not raise a barrier or even use small personal spells. The witches would be completely vulnerable to attack, so Buffy had made their defense her number one goal.
The river would act as an additional barrier. The demons would not be able to reach the witches from either side or from behind without expending a great deal of effort and making a lot of noise. Hopefully, that would cause the demons to attack from the front only.
Spike and Giles were the Slayer’s front defensive line. It would be up to them to keep the riders away from the witches until the reset was complete.
Pulling out several lanterns he had brought from town, Spike placed them in a semi circle just in front of the river bank. Willow and Tara sat within the lit circle, their backs to the river and the Crystal between them. Pulling out Teague’s book with the dimensional addresses, they prepared to begin the chant.
Buffy held up her hand. “Don’t start yet. There’s still one thing that needs to be done first.” She beckoned to McGee, up until now he had been standing quietly next to Giles.
“Yes, Ms. Summers?”
Buffy waved at the crystal. “I need you to summon the demons. I want them to come here and away from the town.”
The Watcher took a deep breath and then nodded. “That’s the only thing that can be done before a dimensional reset. It won’t affect anything and it will only take a moment.”
Willow had already explained that to Buffy, so she nodded. “Do it.”
McGee walked over and ran his hand lightly down the crystal and muttered an incantation. Now his fate was entwined with theirs completely and all he could do was wait and hope the Slayer achieved her goal.
The crystal glowed briefly and then went dark. McGee nodded at the Slayer. “It’s done, they should be here shortly.”
Buffy gripped the hilt of her sword, walked past Giles and Spike and continued forward until she was several yards ahead of them. This was the part of the plan that had both men so uneasy.
Buffy planned to take on the black rider alone. She hoped that if she could stall or hopefully kill their leader, the other riders would be easier to force through the portal.
It was a calculated risk, but one she thought worth taking. Buffy only hoped that when the rider offered his brand of death again, she could hold out. Deep down inside, the Slayer had admitted to herself that there was a strong possibility she would accept again, or be forced to choose death. But if she couldn’t kill the riders except through dying, it would be an honorable death. A fair trade, one Slayer for all the people of this world and her own.
The orange harvest moon came out from behind the cloudbank and cast everything around Buffy in bright vivid relief.
The Slayer gripped her sword tightly and listened. It felt to her as if everything had begun to unwind in slow motion while making her hypersensitive to every nuance around her.
The desert wind blowing, the reeds swaying, the river lapping at its bank. The witches murmuring their slow and rhythmic chant. Giles notching his bow. The snick of Spike’s lighter. Her own strong and steady heart beat.
And from deep out in the desert, the drumming cadence of hoof beats.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/190829.html