Hello, all! enigmaticblues is a rockstar: this we all know. See e.g. this, the best community ever. Even better, even though I blonded out and forgot to sign up this year, she graciously offered to let me share her day. So of course I manage to botch it by setting up my browser-blocking software wrong (it’s finals time in Kaytville), preventing myself from reaching the internets until 2:30 a.m. rather than p.m. :( So here is my story for this season, late, and with apologies.
Title: Walk Like an Egyptian (1/1)
Timeline: Post-Chosen, sort of Season 8 compliant – set several years post-S8
Rating: PG, for a bit of language.
Summary: Three glowing maybe-gods are not so much a one-woman fight. Happily, Buffy has some unexpected backup in vampire form. So what if she hasn’t seen the vampire in question for three years?
Author’s note: This definitely owes a little to frenchani for inspiration…
Surprise! Buffy Summers is not built to lead armies! People skills? Ability to communicate? Respect for authority? That’s a big n-o. The only shocker here is that it took them two years to figure it out. One crisis after another, yadda yadda…
But this is totally better. Point-and-shoot Buffy. Although they’d really better work on the “point” part of the equation. These things were probably not a one-woman fight, much as she hates to admit it. Too glowy, too… godlike. Never a good idea to tangle with those guys three-on-one. At least, not if you weren’t sure how to kill them…
Maybe it was time to be making with the more practical clothing. This new communicator-in-the shoe thing had been such a good idea… But ewww. Sand in her toes. Burning-hot-even-at-night sand. Stupid Egypt with your stupid sun. Plus, call her crazy, but talking into a shoe wasn’t exactly stealthy behavior. After this, it’s totally time to shop for a cute skirt with pockets.
Right. God-like dudes about to cause some serious trouble. Now, where is the stupid button… Aha! “Xander?” Static. Great. “Xander!”
Some crashing noises, a squelch. Oof. She’s been in this line of work too long; since when can she recognize a decapitation by sound? “Little… busy…” Yeah, that’s Xander. She can hear other voices in the background, somebody screaming orders. Kennedy? Gutsy, to show her face around base this week but that’s Kennedy for you. Tact? Yeah, not so much. Buffy would be the first to admit that Willow had gotten… a little creepy lately. But Kennedy… Reporting her intent to initiate a breakup to Central Command? In triplicate? Ok, maybe she had a point, but forcing Giles to drag the head of the coven in so that Kennedy could have “the talk” was over the line.
Hey, that was a thought… Sure, she was officially ‘on retreat’ at the coven, but… Will? Can you make your thoughts louder? Willow Rosenberg? Nothing. Frankly, Buffy wasn’t sure whether to be freaked or relieved. One the one hand, big blue gods. On the other, if Willow could hear her from this far away when she wasn’t expecting a call… A shudder. Bad Buffy. It’s not that she’s afraid of Willow, exactly. It’s just…
Anyway. Focus. There’s still a chorus of crashes over the intercom. At least fifty people – an army. It never used to take an army to save the world. Not that she wanted everyone to make the same kinds of sacrifices she had, but that was kinda the point. They were making those sacrifices, and more. Half of them didn’t even live in their home countries anymore, let alone have any kind of normal life. And yet. Always enough big-time evil to keep a couple thousand slayers uncomfortably busy…
God, not this again. If she keeps it up, she’s going to get wrinkles. It’s stupid, spending so much time worrying about something she can’t change. So what if she could have changed it? That was then, and excuse her for trying to contain the First Evil. This is all in her mind, anyway. There’s no real evidence that she tipped some kind of cosmic good-evil balance and landed a bunch of new nasties in the world. And if she did… Well, nothing she can do about it now except reduce the number of evildoers in the world. Starting with three blue maybe-gods.
“Xander?” Still nothing. Oh, well. It was a good faith effort. They’re circling up now, their glowing features flowing, melting into… Ok. Definitely gods. She’s no history student, but those things are straight out of the movies. And the one with the jackal’s head? Definitely not good.
All right. Guess it’ll be her favorite plan. At least they let her take the scythe this time. On the count of three, Buffy. One… Two…
She’s only just able to check the blade before it takes his hand off. His… “Glad to see you too,” he snorts. It’s Spike. Spike. Standing there like he didn’t just sneak up on her mid-ambush. Like he hasn’t been avoiding her for three years. Just standing, all casual, tossing something from hand to hand.
Wait. Is that… “Spike, is that liquor?”
“Yeah, about that,” he mutters, motions for her to follow him. She eyes the glowy god-guys. They’re circling up now, and the one who looks like an owl is drawing something… “It’ll help with them, yeah?” His voice is sharp, like she’s hurt his feelings somehow.
Great. But, hey, she asked for directions, right? She follows him for a few steps, then drags to a halt. Her face must scream, “Hello? Ritual?” because he stops, too, running a hand through his hair with a heavy sigh.
“I already found the kids that called ‘em up. Three of ‘em, is all, fifteen, maybe sixteen.” He flashes a suddenly fangy grin. “Think I scared ‘em straight. For now.”
“So, what, you confiscated their booze?” Ok, bitchy, but hello! Gods! Right behind them!
“Like I was saying,” and there’s a little bit of a growl, a sharpness in his eyes she’s not used to… “Snagged their ritual book. I’m a little bit out of my depth, here.”
“Hey, you’re here.” Oh, man. Even she can hear that her voice was all wrong there – too mushy, too sad.
“I’m here,” he repeats, all the edge gone from his voice even if he is avoiding her eyes. “This is my department, yeah? Booze and flames, that’s me.”
“Ok, what, now?”
“They’ve raised Sekhmet.” His eyes are wide, like he expects her to know…
“Warrior goddess? Head of a lion? Eats evil for breakfast?”
Buffy shakes her head. “Sorry. I must have missed ‘vicious pagan gods’ day in high school.” He’s frowning, but in that way where he’s trying not to smirk. “Wait. Eats evil for breakfast? So she’s one of the good guys?”
Spike’s smirking openly now. “If you get past the world-ending berserker rages.”
“Great.” A heavy sigh escapes her. “So. How do we kill her?”
“We don’t.” And, ok, maybe she’s a little confused but there’s no need to chuckle at her. “We do the same as the Egyptians did – get her bloody sauced and let her brothers take her back where she came from.”
“Hence the wine.”
“Hence the wine.” He’s grinning again, and, ok, maybe this is a little hilarious. Her mouth curves up to match. “My kind of gal… Peaches tells me that she mistakes this rot for some prime O-positive and can’t stop herself slurping it all up.”
“So, she’s a vampire lion war god?”
“She’s…” His eyes are huge all of a sudden. “She’s bloody here.”
Buffy can feel the hairs on the back of her neck lifting, crackling along her skin. She turns slowly, slowly. God powers? So not fair. Nothing this big and bright should be able to sneak up on anything. And she is big – six-five, maybe, built like Xena, Warrior Princess. If Xena had a big slavering lion’s head. And fell into some radioactive sludge. Buffy’s hands tighten on the scythe.
“Peace, daughter.” Sekhmet’s voice is surprisingly normal, leaking out of her lion’s mouth. “I mean to do you honor, not harm.”
Buffy grips the scythe tighter. “No offense, but your idea of an honor…”
“Is not so very far from yours.” A smile plastered across a lion’s mouth was disconcerting, to say the least. “Is it not beautiful? You wield it well.”
“My scythe?” Buffy’s weapon – hers, definitely, it doesn’t sing for the others like it does for her…
Sekhmet inclines her blue head. “Guarded for eons by my followers, and now…” Buffy clutches it to herself, an involuntary jerk. Sekhmet’s laughter echoes, an eerie peal in the desert. “Fear not, daughter, it is yours. I would not take it from you.” One glowing, human finger taps against an exposed fang. “Although, what else to give you…”
Ooooo-kay. This is starting to seem far too much like her creepy ‘benefactors’ from the slayer’s emergency kit. “Really, I couldn’t…”
“Oh, but you must.” Sekhmet is slinking behind her, around her, too quick to follow. Buffy’s tingling, little zaps all over, trying to keep pace with Sekhmet’s turns without falling on her ass. “I have seldom walked with a daughter, and never with one so brightly-burning as you.”
“You keep calling me your daughter,” Buffy gripes and if it would be wiser to keep a more respectful tone, well, diplomacy’s not her strong suit.
Sekhmet doesn’t seem to mind, reaching out to run a possessive hand over Buffy’s shoulder. Ouch. Little shocks chase up and down where the goddess has touched her. “It is not the demon within that brings you closer to me.” A toothy smile. “It is what you are, through and through. He knows.” A nod in Spike’s direction. “A boon for you as well, perhaps, if you will recite my names.”
Spike bobs his head, more awkward than Buffy remembers. The flirty smile, now directed at Sekhmet? That, Buffy can recall. “The lady has many names.” He’s grinning and his voice is warm. Weird. It’s almost like he’s sure Sekhmet won’t hurt them… “One Who Is Powerful. Mistress of Dread. Lady of Slaughter.” He dips his head again. “One Before Whom Evil Trembles.”
“Ah, but you forgot one.” Wait… That tone… Is Sekhmet flirting with Spike? “I am the Lady of Flame. I saw. I remember. I look upon you with a certain… favor.” Ok, definitely flirting. That last bit was totally a purr. One last lascivious grin – and boy, she could have lived her whole life without seeing a pervy lion – and her attention’s back on Buffy. “Now, do you not see the bond between us? I am a protector of women, a warrior, the lash of justice. I bless your monthly blood,” a grin, aimed at Spike, and a cheeky wink, “a blessing which your allies, at least, treasure.” Oh, god, she’s blushing… Buffy can feel her face burning, red enough to coax a quick chuckle out of the goddess. “You choose your allies wisely. The witch, the scholar, the soldier… They are all touched with flame.” A shake of that massive, furry head. “You are rich indeed, my daughter, and more like me than you know. What, as they say, for the girl who has everything? Armor, I had thought, but yours is not a defensive nature.” Another shoulder-fondle that left Buffy braced against the shock zapping through her muscles… “Ah, yes. Come here,” and suddenly that voice is imperial, ringing, a finger crooked at Spike. He stumbles in his haste. Mind control? Buffy’s not much for this mumbo-jumbo, and if something’s happening against his will… She hefts the scythe, but Spike winks. Still… She knows better than most that divine gifts usually aren’t so divine. “You know her.” Ok, the sex in Sekhmet’s tone? SO CREEPY. “And you are clever with names. Name, then, a gift she can use.”
All right. Move the dial from “nervous” to “panic.” She hasn’t seen Spike in three years. For all she knows, he hates her guts now, or remembers some romanticized version of her that was never really there. For all she’s knows, he’s going to make a wisecrack and she’ll be stuck with it – whatever it is, and she’s a little too familiar with Spike’s creativity for comfort – forever.
He’s looking at her, at the panic that must be flashing across her face; his smile shrinks, turns wistful – sad, even. “I think you should bloody well ask her.” His voice is tired, suddenly. “Girl’s been through the wringer. She deserves to get what she wants.”
Buffy’s hands clench around the scythe’s handle. Sekhmet’s sudden smile is too fierce, too triumphant.
“Yes.” And then there’s a woman, shiny, sure, and still one with the Smurfs, but the lion’s head is gone. It doesn’t make her any less fearsome. Oof. That grin… “What she wants.” A hand on Spike’s arm, he head titled toward him – so they’re co-conspirators now? Is that it? “You know better than I that she will never ask for what she wants.” Flash – there’s that god-like cheating again – and she’s at Buffy’s side. “You bury your desires so deeply that even you cannot know them.” Sekhmet smiles a grim, approving grin. “That serves you well, warrior, but this time…” Blue hands, clapping gleefully… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the Nile Valley girl! “And wonderful economy. I did promise you a boon, and you performed so prettily.” Goddammit, she’s so fast, already got her hands on Spike and THUNK. The sand rattles around them, settles before it can whip up into a storm and thank god for the small mercies.
And then an impossibly large hand is wrapped around her wrist, and Spike’s, pinning them together. Ok. This shock thing? So over it. “Daughter, hear my gift.” Grave words, but the goddess’ little chuckle? Not so godlike. “The sun’s rays will no longer harm your… companion” – seriously, enough with the perving – “but only, I think, so long as he is within your sight..”
Great – images of fights where she’s been knocked backwards, knocked out, kept Spike at her back… “Wouldn’t want to make it too easy,” Buffy grumbles.
Sekhmet smiles, sharp as razors. “A warrior’s sentiment.” The ground is rumbling. Wait. The ground is rising, glowing lava-red flecked with an eerie blue to match Sekhmet’s skin. “Ah. My brothers arrive. The bottle, if you please?”
Bottle. Spike. Wait. She forgot to look at Spike during all this. He’s probably not thrilled to have a ‘gift’ tied to her presence. Yeah, he sure looks like the happy winner of the vampire sweepstakes; he won’t even lift his eyes to meet hers. His hands are limp on the bottle and Sekhmet grabs it roughly. “They seek to contain me, but it is I who shall contain them.” Another terrifying grin, and EWWWW. This one stretches, slow, impossibly far, all the way around her head and WHAM! There’s the lion again. “As always.” Sekhmet wrenches the bottle-neck. She isn’t… Oh, she so is. The jagged glass scrapes leonine lips, mixing blood with the red wine. That’s just gross.
And now they’re in for it. There’s four gods where one used to be. One, perfectly human but zombie-green, points and the shifting red sand melts. Beside her, Spike’s stomach growls. “What?” he says when she shoots him a look. “What am I supposed to do? Teleporting really takes it out of a fellow.”
Great. She gets distracted for one second, and… It’s an earthquake, huge, and the tremors are whipping the sand around them. It’s thick enough to blind her, wait, maybe not quite… Sekhmet’s on her knees now. Wait, no… Yes. Oh, ick. She’s sucking down the red fluid (so what if it smells like blood and looks like blood – it’s fluid), sucking so powerfully that the other three gods are scrambling to climb out of the resulting funnel. It’s clearly a losing battle – the funnel is the size of a football field now, dragging even Sekhmet down. The others seem to be bowing to the inevitable – wimps – and maybe it’s her guilty conscience talking, but the one sort of storky-looking god seemed to shake his scales at her. A horrible sucking noise, a whomp hard enough to rattle her teeth and… It’s silent. Calm and silent. Except, of course, for the noises of her own hacking because WOW sand and lungs do not mix.
Spike is eyeing her warily now and maybe he should – somebody just put the whammy on him because of her. Yet again. She’s too tired to discuss this – any of it. “Hey, know any good hotels around here?” There. That sounded cheerful.
And sure enough, Spike’s posture has straightened a little bit. “It’s Egypt, luv. Land of the burning sun. Not exactly a haven for yours truly.”
“Maybe it is now.” Well, that just slipped right out there.
“Right,” and Spike’s looking away again. “About that…”
“Hey, you got a few days? As far as I know, I don’t have anywhere pressing to be. And we should probably see how well this works…”
“Right. An experiment, then.” God, he just sounds so tired, and he’s not looking at her again, and…
“I could stand the company.”
Real gracious, Buffy, but he’s grinning again. “Ta, luv, but your buddies might not like to see yours truly working on a tan.”
“Your secret’s safe with me.” His eyes are wide, surprised. “I kinda work alone these days.”
The soft sidelong look he gives her… It’s Spike. Of course he knows, just from that, that she got voted off the island again. “Got nothin’ better to do,” he says, but his grin is soft.
“Me neither.” Since when was she smiling, too? This wasn’t supposed to be so easy. Maybe, just maybe, this time it’ll stay that way.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/332570.html