Of Mice and Minions...

PG13

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Josh Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Buffy Rebecca and Walthrop/Spike complete their European honeymoon with a visit to Greece...And to a certain retired Goddess and her chief minion...

(If this is your first BR story, you might wish to read “Sunnydalopolis” to get up to speed on this at the BR verse site...)

Of Mice and Minions...Part I

William pointed out the Parthenon to BR as their plane headed in for a landing at Athens, Greece...

[Suggested theme...Arrival in Greece...Can I Stay With Dreg?...(Dunbar's Theme from Dances with Wolves...)]

She smiled and squeezed his hand...Greece...What a lovely place to end their honeymoon...

Despite her attempts at cheerfulness, William Walthrop could see that his
beloved wife Buffy Rebecca Summers-Walthrop, robotic, human-souled
sister of Buffy Summers, still suffered deeply from her experience with
the Vitachis and their “family” in Florence...

Where she’d been forced to kill the human bodies of the Vitachi mother and daughter, Chesra and Elissa...Occupied by demons after an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect them by their husband and father, Count Vitachi, and his son Enri...

Victims of Spike, transformed by Drusilla...Years ago...

Given peace at last thanks to her...But...Still...A young woman and child by appearance...

And all done for love of him...To spare Walthrop the torment of dealing with his victims.....

He who had...However involuntarily, at least as regards his human side...Committed the crime...Or, if one put the blame on demon Spike, been unable to prevent it....

For her part, Buffy Rebecca was only too aware how Walthrop was increasingly tortured by the thought of what he...Or Spike at least...Had done...To her as well as his countless victims...

She was, after all, here...In this universe...In no small part as the instrument of his salvation...

Pulled from the infinite universe to be the soul of Warren Mears’ artificial human brain...A perfect neural copy of Buffy Summers in a robot body...And yet...the one potential Buffy who could deal with Spike and save Walthrop’s human soul...
Even if all Spike and his cybergenius buddy Warren had initially aimed at was an improvement over Warren’s first robot, sexbot April...

***
The Watcher’s Council had requested that they look in on Glory, former Roman Goddess of Glory and Victory...Now living in an isolated monastery in northern Greece, entrusted to the tender but cautious care of her brother, the human-god Benedictus, and the Knights of Byzantium...

Glory...Who had sought vengenance on Humanity in general...And all descendants of the Romans in particular for abandoning her and desecrating her Altar...

Defeated by Buffy Rebecca with the aid of her dear ‘dad’ Warren, his handy electrical cable, and the electrical output of half of California....And of course the aid of the Knights of Byzantium, pledged to protect the world from all evils remaining from the days of their Roman/Byzantine ancesters, commanded by their noble Emperor...

Not that anyone doubted the Knights’ ability to watch over the now powerless goddess properly...

They were just...Anxious to see that all was well...An ounce of prevention after all...

The Walthrops were more than willing...The Council had been generous in paying the costs of their honeymoon...Ben, Glory’s immortal brother and doctor, former Roman god of Mercy and Healing, now Christian saint and throughly capable physician, was a dear friend who’d played a critical role in saving Dawn from Darla and Dru...Besides they were curious about Glory’s condition themselves...

And of course, who would pass up a free trip to Greece?...

Particularly if it might help to raise poor Buffy Rebecca’s spirits...
***

Ben, long informed of their coming, met and greeted the Walthrops warmly at the airport...Asking after Buffy...And the gang...

Dawn, he noted, wryly...He knew about...She called him via Giles’ new computer/satellite link almost every night...

BR frowned at that...She and Buffy were a leetle concerned about their sis’ fascination with the handsome young immortal...

Though they recognized that if Dawn...The Key...Once contained in Glory’s destroyed Altar as the pure neural energy allowing Glory and Ben to travel between dimensions...Now in human form as Buffy’s...And therefore Buffy Rebecca’s...Young sister...Turned out to possess immortality herself...She could do worse than a compassionate, immortal, and successful young doctor...

Heck...Not a bad catch even if she wasn’t immortal...Still...Dawny was a bit young yet for this sort of thing...

While on his part, as befitting a God of Mercy and Healing, and a compassionate doctor with 1600-plus years of bedside experience, Ben quickly recognized that BR was a bit...Troubled...

He’d heard they’d had some tough fighting in the course of their travels, he noted...

Dawn?...BR grinned...

Dawn...he agreed, nodding...

“Dawny isn’t being too much of a pest is she?...” BR asked...

Not at all...In fact, he rather appreciated the attention...Taking care that it remained within proper bounds...he quickly noted...

Tactful god...Spike thought...And a fine catch for Dawny if things did work out...

Never hurts to have semi-divinity in the family...

***
Yeah...BR nodded...Some tough fighting...She looked at her hands...

And brightened a bit...

“But at least Spike was able to set poor Dru free at last...” she noted...

“Don’t be ridiculous, girl...” Walthrop shook his head at her...And turned to Ben...

“Her doing entirely...You should have seen her take Drusilla out...Two of them went right over a cliff...”

“Regular Holmes and Moriarty...” Spike noted proudly...

Thought I’d lost her for a bit there...He shook his head and smiled at her...Taking her hand...

But...She came back to me, again...Thankfully, demon Dru...Did not...

Mothers-in-law, Buffy Rebecca noted ruefully...But hastening, with a look at Walthrop, to note that she was kidding...

Drusilla had not been her mother-in-law...
Of course..Human Dru...BR wanted to be clear on this...Eminently deserved her peace...Having been a major help in the fight...And should be remembered fondly...As a dear friend...

But she was glad that her human soul was at peace...

“That’s the main thing, isn’t it?...” she looked at them one after the other...

The Slayer’s Gift...she noted...Looking down again at her hands...

And since then?...Ben asked...Kindly...Looking at BR...

“I’ve heard you had some trouble in Scotland and Italy...” he began...

“Yeah...” she looked wearily at him...Sadly nodding...

“A little trouble...”

He gave her an embrace...Grinning a bit at Spike who smiled back...

He had found hugs a rather effective form of medicine in the past 1600 years...Ben noted...

Cures what ails one...

“But of course...She’s all yours, Will...” Ben released her to Walthrop...Who applied similar therapy...

I will be ok Will...she told him, kissing him and whispering gently...Hugging him firmly...And smiling back at Ben...

BR thanked him from Walthrop’s embrace...And inquired as to Glory...And her little chief minion, now most loyal of guardians...Dreg...

Both quite well, Ben told her...
***

Dreg, formerly Chief Brethren Minion, Commander of the Goddess of Glory and Victory’s legions, and Glory’s significant other...Now her constantly attentive guardian...Met them at the entrance to Glory’s quarters...

He guards the doors like a trooper...Ben informed them...Keeps the Knight guards on their toes...Grinning at the little minion...Who blushed a bit...

Ben’s done wonders with those scabs of his...Buffy Rebecca noted...Practically all cleared up...

Dreg greeted Spike and BR warmly...Always an honor to meet with such brave former opponents...

[Play Glory and Dreg theme (Moonglow)]

BR noted he stressed the “former” with emphasis...

“Ah...Sir...Madam...So good to see you again...I trust that the Slayer is in good health?...” Dreg inquired solictiously...

Buffy Rebecca smiled wryly at him...The last time we met...Glory had taken half my skin off...

Still...The little fellow meant well...

“Quite well, thanks...” she told him... “And Glorificus?...” she asked him...

“My divine lady has made splendid progress in her recovery...” he told her...With a touch of pride...

Of course...He hastened to assure her...The Goddess remained powerless...And unaware of her past activities...

He was clearly relieved to see that no harm was intended to his divine mistress...

And proudly led them to his divine gloriousness’ living quarters...

Not exactly what Glory had been accustomed to...But reasonably comfortable all the same...he noted...
***

In her rather comfortable looking chamber, surrounded by children’s books, toys, pillows...The Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory...Tapping a simple tune on a small keyboard...Looked up to her visitors...

“Dwreg?...” Glory called plaintively...New people clearly made her a little...Nervous...Though she was always happy to see brother Ben...He was always so nice...

Dreg hastened to her side...Took her hand gently...And introduced her to her visitors...Two very nice people, he informed her...

Beautiful as ever, the divine if powerless goddess of Glory and Victory beamed at her guests...A nice lady and man...Both blond...And friendly...

She liked blond people...In fact...Since her electroshock...

She liked people in general...So long as they were quiet and friendly...As the monks tended to be...

However...Her former chief minion retained his status in her heart...

And around strangers...She clearly felt more comfortable with him nearby...

***
She greeted them warmly...If Dreg and Beny said they were nice...They must be nice...

She was especially pleased to meet Buffy Rebecca...Not too many female visitors came by...And the female Knights who did...Tended to be rather...Businesslike in their dealings with her...

She played her new song for her...And they quickly became engaged in going through her new picture book...

Walthrop and Ben watched with Dreg...

This is the maniac who was going to destroy the world a few months ago?...

Well...Walthrop thought...If one considers my own case...

***
“This is Beny...” Glory proudly introduced BR to her pet mouse...White, in a small cage...Grinning at Ben...

Beny was her favorite name...she confided to Buffy Rebecca shyly...’Cause Beny was so nice...
She smiled at her brother...

She had to be cawreful...er careful...With Beny...Else he’d get out...She explained to BR...

She was a bit sad...Her last mouse got out...She didn’t watch him enough...And he got thwristy...

And died...She cried a little at the thought...

“But we will all watch Beny very carefully my divine one...” Dreg noted...Taking her hand and patting it...

She brightened...And nodded...Vewry, vewry cawrefully...she told BR...

***
BR was clearly taking a professional interest in Glory’s case...

After all, Child Psychologist in training here...

***

Glory thanked her...And the nice blond man...For coming by to see her...And for the nice things BR had said about her music...And her room...

Would they be coming again?...she asked them hopefully...

Certainly, BR assured her...If she’d like them too...

The Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, leader of the forces of Rome to countless victories, beamed happily...

That would be nweat...She told them...She looked at Ben...Sheepishly...

Neat...she corrected...

Ben grinned at her and nodded...

“We’re working on that lisp...Sis is getting better with it every day...”

She glowed...Beny was so nice she told BR...

“Bye..” she waved as they left...

Dreg stayed with her...Waving as well...Knight guards took their positions near the doors...Saluting the Slayer as she passed...

[Play...Glory and Dreg (Moonglow)]

“One happy minion...” Walthrop noted as they headed down the long stone-walled corridor...

“Oh..Yeah...” Ben grinned...

***
What did he think her prospects for full recovery were?...BR asked Ben as they walked back to the main hospital building...

“Well...” he pondered... “It’s pretty difficult to say...She’s more or less human now, except for her immortality...She may in time recover part or most of her memories...”

“But I think the personality change...With luck and care...Is likely to be permanent...” he grinned at BR..

“At least I hope so...Sis has never been so lovable...”

She seems to have received a little of you in the separation, BR noted, smiling at Ben...Who shrugged wryly...

“I always thought Sis had a lot of affection to give...If she could ever get past the anger...” he noted...
“She was always so protective of the Romans...It hurt her a lot when they dropped her...” he reflected...

She’d like to ask a few questions later...In private of course...And if Ben wouldn’t mind...About their childhood...BR noted...

He’d be happy to...Ben smiled...It had been an interesting one, he had to admit...

Thank God for Psychology...And for Glory, probably the most fascinating case study we ever could have found...Walthrop thought gratefully...Listening happily to the animated tone in his wife’s voice...

Apart from me, of course...

Something for her to think about besides...

Of course he still considered Psychology a crock...As a man of Hard Science...

For the past five months anyway...

What would she do?...If she recovers her memory...Walthrop put in...

“Hopefully...She’ll make a reasonably happy life for herself...” Ben sighed...

“She’d make a wonderful historian...” BR noted...

The Knights had thought of that too...Ben told her...Cautious as they might be about her...There’d be no better source for Roman history than an on-scene reporter...And she’d spent infinitely more time with leading Romans in the past than he...

***
Very...She grinned at getting it right...nice people...Glory noted to Dreg...Who nodded...

Did she...Perhaps...Remember ever meeting them before, he asked?...

She frowned...Hmmn...She thought with all her might...

She was anxious to try hard when he asked her to...Dregy was so nice...She liked to do things to
please him...

Nope...Sorry Dwreg...She apologized...Don’t member them...But I will now, she promised firmly...

That was fine, he told her, patting her hand...Perhaps a shade relieved...

The Knights on guard passed, smiling pleasantly...Ben’s request...

Glory waved...The Knight people looked after her so well...But they were always so...Busy...

They must get tiwred...She noted to Dreg...Always marching somewhere...

Indeed...He agreed...But there were many of them and so each one only had to march for a while before others took over...

Glory nodded...It made sense to her...

An instinctive thing in an old and experienced veteran...

***
Ben walked them to their rooms in a section of the monastery reserved for guests...

That Beny...BR grinned at Ben...Excellent therapy there...she noted...

Well...He noted...She once cared for and fretted over all of the Roman Empire...Now...

A white mouse...

And, her Dreg, of course...Buffy Rebecca smiled...

And Dreg...Ben agreed...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part II

Ben took them out for dinner to a wonderful little restaurant he knew in the town below the monastery...

As always the prospect of an excellent dinner considerably brightened Buffy Rebecca’s spirits...

The way to a Slayer’s heart...Walthrop noted to Ben, grinning...Human or robotic...

There was naturally, plenty of conversational material...

Buffy Rebecca and Will were both avid history buffs...And not much better source could be found than a 1600 plus-year-old former god...

Ben for his part was still fascinated by the full story of Walthrop’s redemption...And by Buffy Rebecca...

In 1600-plus years of medical practice he’d dealt occasionally with vampires and demons and attempts to cure those formerly human...But he’d never witnessed such a successful outcome...

As for her...If her limbs were any indication of what Walthrop’s and Warren’s company, W/S Bionetics was capable of in terms of artificial organs...Medicine was about to undergo its next great revolution...

And he oughta know...BR thought proudly, grinning at Will...The junior “cybergenius” of W/S...

***
And what about him?...Buffy Rebecca asked Ben...

Surely it must be difficult living among humans so long...

He shook his head...

“If you could ever see our old home...The minor deities trying to live it up immortally...Existence for no purpose...” Ben smiled at the room of people...

“This is where the action is...I love it...And knowing I can help...Make a difference...”

He looked at BR...

“Just like you and Will here...And your sister...”

She nodded, thoughtful...

“And sometimes...Helping to make Death a little more easy is the best way we can help...” he looked at her seriously...

She smiled at him, grateful...

And he oughta know...Spike thought, patting his wife’s hand...

***
But of course...BR’s spirits having considerably lifted...Maternal cybernetics quickly became the centerpiece of their conversation...Ben not having forgotten Warren’s startling “wedding gift” to his dear “daughter”...

And the Walthrops equally anxious to hear his expert opinion...

Well...He noted sheepishly...This was definitely a new frontier in Medicine...But...

He gathered from their questions that they were considering it...

Only...Will noted...If the demon factor could be ruled out...Ummn...He looked at BR
who regarded him with raised eyebrows...That was of course
if the Missus was satisfied as to everything...

A wise addition, there, ‘Throp...she noted...

But...Yeah...She’d like to consider it...If everything tested well...In fact...She had a request...

Ben looked at her...As did Walthrop...

Warren was concerned about her response to the hormones necessary for successful...
Well...Implantation...While they’d have no direct chemical effect on her brain, her system would naturally attempt to engender a response comparable to what Buffy’s human system would undergo...

‘Dad’ strives for accuracy...And unpredictability...she noted wryly...Grinning at her junior “cybergenius”...

He’d like to see the effects under controlled conditions...Preferably with a doctor well aware of the situation on hand...

After all...If the hormones’ effect was to drive her insane...Best to know that before she was back home in dear old Sunnydale...And especially before she tried pregnancy...she concluded...

Hormonal side-effects?...Insanity?...Walthrop looked at her, blinking...Warren never...

“We only talked about this in the last few days, honey...I didn’t want you to get worried about it...” she told him...

Insanity?...He looked at her...She’d lost her mind once already...And once was much more than enough...

Hard to believe this terrified-looking gentleman was once William the Bloody, she noted to Ben...

Will, I was kidding about the insanity thing...She assured him...Sheepishly...

Poor Will...He’s even whiter a sheet than when he forgets his blood for a couple of days...

Really...It’ll be okay...She told him...Warren would never take chances with me...

“I was kidding...You know the routine...Women and their hormones...” she continued apologetically...

Spike nodded, but he was still looking rather...Disturbed...

Sorry there, love...Forgot that was a sensitive issue since my earlier meltdown...She patted his hand a little guiltily...

We’ll check everything out throughly...I promise...she told him...

Ben was only too pleased to help...Sounded like a major breakthrough in the offing...

He’d done maternal hormone replacement therapy in the past...And had most of the necessary materials at hand...

Spike was pleased that BR would have the assist of a skilled physician who was in the know...But a little...Annoyed...

He’d have to have a little talk with his dear senior partner, best buddy, and...More or less...father-in-law...

***

Centurion Kruger...General of the Holy Templar Order...An offshoot of the Knights of Byzantium...A rebellious offshoot...Waited in his tent in Albania...

Two scouts entered...And saluted him...

“Centurion...The Beast has been detected...It has indeed returned to the old lair...”

So...Kruger thought grimly...The Knights have allowed the Beast to fall back into the hands of the Benedictus monks...Unworthy fools...

His order’s chief cleric stood by...Listening carefully...And spoke up...

“Centurion...The unholy offspring of Rome’s evil past must be destroyed...At once...”

Indeed...Kruger agreed...Already the fool monks had allowed the Beast to wander the Earth...Nearly let it seize the Key and destroy Humanity...

And the Emperor...Constantine XXX...Little better...Allowing the pagan goddess...The Beast...To live...Under his protection no less...

But the Benedictus monastery was well guarded...And the Holy Templar Order was but a small branch of the Knights...How could success be achieved?...He pondered...

And even if they seized the monastery...Captured the Beast...What then?...How could she be destroyed?...

Still...Duty required the effort be made...And God would reward those who fell in His Holy Cause...

But...As a practical commander of soldiers...He desperately sought some way that would make the sacrifice more than pointless...

“Cleric?...Have your brothers completed their researches?...Is there any way to destroy the Beast?...” he asked...Suspecting the answer as he had asked the question on a more or less daily basis for weeks now...

No new developments...The cleric told him...However...

“The Beast is in a more human form now...” the cleric was thoughtful...

“And that which is human...Can be destroyed...” he noted...

Kruger nodded...Possibly...

If only the help of the Slayer could be enlisted in the Cause...The cleric noted sadly...But...

Like the Knights the Slayer was blinded to the danger...By a foolish compassion...

Amazing that this one had survived so long...he noted...

“But even if the Beast cannot be killed...The effort must be made...” the cleric noted fiercely...

“For the Glory of God...”

The centurion nodded, bowing his head respectfully...

He would pray and consider a plan...In the meantime...Let the clerics continue their researches...Find him a weapon that would destroy the Beast and he and his men would do the rest...

The cleric bowed and left him...
***

The Walthrops strolled on the battlements of the ancient castle which formed part of the monastery...Fortunately this part had been more or less spared by Glory when she had emerged to seek the Key...

A late and very beautiful sunset...BR smiled at Spike...

“Hard to believe you’d ever get used to seeing sunsets again, isn’t it?...” she asked him...Arm around him...

I’ll never get used to it...He told her solemnly...Putting his arm around her...

Daylight ring securely in place...Cut from a certain famed crystal...His wedding gift from Willow and Wesley...

Never...If I live to Judgement Day he told her...He stared at the streaks in the clouds...The skies of ancient Greece...

“I sense a poem coming on...” she grinned at him...

She loved his poetry...His attentive one-woman audience...Awaited his effort...She told him solemnly...

Not that Sis and Dawn weren’t equally appreciative...As for Willow and the others...

Well...They mostly weren’t into Literature...she noted...

She...Loved his poetry...

Hmmn...Walthrop regarded her dryly...

Still...How often would he get the chance?...In an ancient Greek monastery...Under the authentic Grecian sky...

With a loving Buffy as his audience...

Not exactly a tough-minded, impartial critic...But she really did like some of his stuff, he knew...

He gave it his best...

Well?..He looked at her...

She looked a little...Blank...

She blinked...Wow...Maybe it was the romance of the setting...The honeymooning spirit she was gradually regaining...

But as far as she was concerned...

He was getting pretty damned good...

He hesitated...Didn’t she?...

Like it?...she looked at him...

“Will...” she told him, taking his hand... “That was...Simply...”

She grinned delightedly...

“Effulgent...”

***

Of Mice and Minions...Part III

Ben was on the phone when they walked back into the hospital area...

From the way he was talking...BR had a preety good idea who was on the line...

Hmmn...Dawn should neither be tying up Giles’ computer/sat link nor running up an enormous phone bill from home...

Still...Pity Ben didn’t have a computer or video receiver on hand...If it was Giles’ new system would’ve been nice to see Dawny and anyone else around...

On the other hand, if the call was coming from home...

Well, W/S Bionetics could cover it...Considering the success of the business end of their honeymoon...

Ben passed the phone over...Yeah, he nodded...Dawn...

But Buffy and Giles as well...

Sweet of them to call, Spike thought...And just what the Missus needs to make this a perfect day...

He and Ben moved off to let her speak...Obviously, and despite her financial concerns...As befitting a true Summers she was happily settling in for a long chat...

“How is Buffy...Ummn...Anne...these days?...” Ben asked him...

According to what they’d heard from the others...Their conversations with Buf over the course of their honeymoon...And the brief time Buffy had spent with them in England helping in the final battle with Drusilla...Pretty good...

No aftereffects from her brief period as semi-Undead...

Another remarkable case Ben noted...

“I hope you fellas all realize just how remarkable your successes have been...” Ben smiled at him...

“And a 1600-plus-year-old god ought to know...” Walthrop grinned at him...

“Spike!...” BR hollered...

Dawn and Buffy want to say hi...

***
It was the Blond One’s turn to get locked into a long chat...

Which despite any grumbling on his part, he throughly enjoyed, an amused Buffy Rebecca pointed out to Ben...

Who noted that she herself seemed much better...

She nodded...Much...

Therapeutic effects of her Will, family, and dear friends...Including him...And it seemed likely, his sister...

Not to mention...The beauty of old Greece...

No place quite like it Ben agreed...Though Sunnydale was a sweet place...When not menaced with doom...

She eyed him...

“You know, Ben...You’re a wonder with children, judging by what you’ve done with Glory...”

Had he ever considered...Settling down?...

Considered...Tried...Achieved it a few times...He noted...

A little heartbreaking though...

Oh...BR...Looked at him...1600 plus...

“I didn’t mean to stir up any sad memories, Ben...”

No...Not sad at all, really...Just that he missed them all...But...In good time...

He’d see them all again...After all...What counts is Immortal for all of us...

“And you ought to know...” he grinned at BR...

I might have been around 1600 years...Ben noted...But you...And Buffy...Have gone somewhere I can’t imagine...No matter how many death-bed patients I attend...

“Can’t say I remember much about being dead...” she noted...Nor did Buffy thank goodness...

“But I do remember feeling Mom by my side...Telling me Buffy...Dawn...Will...All needed me...”

And that I was her daughter...Robotic or no...

Ben nodded...What counts...Is Immortal...For all of us...he took her hand...

But getting back to the settling down...She went on...

A good sister takes advantage of opportunities to check out potentially desirable in-laws...And now that Glory seemed sane and safe...

Spike called her back...Giles on the line...

God I hope they are using the computer...Otherwise this will cost a fortune...she thought...

Oh well...We got a free honeymoon...Not fair to grouse about a big phone bill...

***

The clerics were a bit...Sheepish...As they reported to Centurion Kruger in his tent...

The answer had been obvious and clear...Glorificus was immortal but human now...Powerless...And vulnerable...

As Benedictus had always been...

Kruger was pleased if rather annoyed...It had taken this long to determine that any weapon could now kill the Beast...

Well...The chief cleric explained...It had seemed only too easy to them...That the Beast could suddenly be so...

They had wanted to be certain...And there had been nothing clear in the Holy Writings...

But were they sure?...Kruger frowned...The Order would lose many brave followers in an attack...If Glorificus was able to survive...

Benedictus had nearly died on several occassions a long lost script of 800 years ago had revealed...Of wounds, a simple fever, even a severe fall...And left detailed instructions to his followers to kill him if his condition became too serious...To make sure Glory would not take advantage of his dying state...

Glory’s strength was now likewise limited to this dimension...Therefore...She was now equally vulnerable...

Immortal but eminently destructible...

God was a just God, the cleric noted...To provide such easy remedies for Evil...

The centurion nodded reverently...

And approved the attack...To be made as soon as his forces could be assembled and slipped across the Greek border...

It was a pity that the battle must be fought against the Knights as well...He noted to the clerics...But their foolish refusal to use all possible measures to defeat the Enemies of God had led to the fall of the imperial capital to the infidel in 1453...

And now, given the current world situation...The destruction of the Beast would be the great symbol
leading to the resurrection of the Christian Roman Empire upon the world...Under the divinely
guided leadership of the Templar Order...

And of course its clerics, he noted...They bowed...

***
“So...Byron’s favorite land...” Buffy Rebecca noted to Walthrop as they toured the local area...
Ben having loaned them his little car...While preparing BR’s hormonal therapy...To start later that afternoon...

You must be in seventh heaven...she grinned as she negotiated the narrow roads...Communing with his ghost and all that...

Actually...He’d always been more of a Shelley and Keats fan...Byron tended to posture a little...Spike noted...

Still it was time for another poem...Keats...

“ Meantime, across the moors,
        Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
        For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
        Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
        All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
        But for one moment in the tedious hours,
        That he might gaze and worship all unseen; ”

He smiled sheepishly at BR...A leetle better than what he’d done himself the other day, he had to admit...

“Eve of St Agnes?...” Buffy Rebecca smiled...As they waited for a goat herd and its owner to pass...Very appropriate choice for a guy who had secretly mooned after her and her sis in their basement night after night...she thought...

He looked at her...Warren’s supplemental memory?...he asked...

She looked at him...Frowning a bit...Europeans...They all think we’re dim-witted yahoos...

“Spike...I do read you know...” Parking at an ancient church ruin...

Actually...As they clambered over the old church site to see the carefully preserved paintings within what remained of the ancient building...Although he’d noted BR reading poetry at times back in the Greenwood crypt...He hadn’t known Buffy had liked old poets that much...Though something had told him...

An instinctive sense...That at least given exposure she would appreciate...

A young guide led them to the icon paintings in the rear...

It was just...

They gazed at the glowing paintings in awe...

She’d always seemed a little...Busy...

“Well...Now you know...” BR told him dryly...

My poetry class dream...He suddenly noted to her...When all the potential Buffies were there...

The night you were... “Born”...Out of Warren’s glop tank...

They kept a little distance from the guide...Who seemed quite interested in his charges...Especially BR...

Somehow I knew, Walthrop told her...Right from the start...

She gasped a little at the thought...

None of my...er Sis’ other boyfriends ever...
Maybe something to do with dear Joyce, art lover...Maybe...

They looked at each other...

“We were meant to be Will...We are soulmates...” she noted...He nodded in wonder...

Still...Not as if they weren’t already aware of it...Just...

Always nice to have confirmation...
***
The guide led them back to their car along with several other tourists who’d also managed to find the place...

Graciously accepted “Dr.” Walthrop’s generous tip and watched them leave...BR struggling a bit with the reverse on Ben’s rather difficult little car...

Then, as befitting a posted scout of the Templar Order, contacted his superiors to warn them that he believed the famed Slayer had arrived in Greece...Possibly...If word of the coming attack had leaked out...To protect the Beast, more probably to inspect her confinement...
***

“Well...” Ben grinned at them... “Are you still game for this?...”

The Walthrops looked at each other and then him...Oh, yeah...

Greece had definitely lifted their spirits...

He had taken BR’s and Buffy’s full histories including all the info Warren could supply him with via the computer link...

Warren’s eye for accuracy and detail was amazing...Ben noted...Even to matching Buffy’s menstrual cycle...Which would provide a useful start point for measuring the effects of the additional hormones...

“Of course...” Ben smiled at BR... “I’ve never treated a robotic patient before...”

Just stick the needle into anything that looks like a vein and start the IV, she told him...
It should all more or less kick in the same...

“Get ready to hold me down when those hormones hit, ‘Throp...” she teased a very nervous William...

She does have PMS something awful...Spike noted to Ben...You may want to watch her dosage carefully...

Two unusually rough months and he’s an expert on me and Sis and our menstrual cycles, BR noted to Ben with a slight frown... Besides...It wasn’t all that bad...she insisted...

Walthrop rolled his eyes at Ben...

Who assured him...And BR...That he was proceeding from a very low dose...Up...

You never said it was that bad...BR noted aside to Spike as Ben left to grab some equipment...

Well...Ben needed complete information...And a vampire desparate for love and redemption can overlook a lot of things, he noted...

“I don’t get that bad...” she insisted firmly, pouting... “Geesch...There was a lot going on the past couple of months you know Will...”

He wasn’t complaining...Did you hear him complaining?...Besides, he knew his remorsemares weren’t an easy thing to deal with either...

Damned right they’re not...she told him...Practically every night until recently...

Though they seemed to be tapering off a bit...she admitted...

Just part of the mutual adjustment...he pointed out...But he had had to give Ben full information...
For her benefit...

Hmmn...she frowningly agreed...As Ben returned...

“I didn’t mean to say her PMS was unusually bad...” Walthrop quickly got in...Gallantly...

Good man, ‘Throp...she beamed at him...And took the couch Ben indicated...

Nice veins, Ben noted as he stuck her...My compliments to your ‘dad’...

A true genius...she agreed, now beaming on Ben...Unlike his partner here...she grinned at Will...

Though a excellent salesperson she conceded...As Spike watched her carefully...Clearly expecting a Jekyl-Hyde transformation...

“Ben...” she smiled at the young god... “Tell the hubs here he can start pretending to breathe again...I feel fine...”

Be at least an hour...Ben grinned at Walthrop...Then we’ll apply the restraints...

He’d been married...Several dozen times he noted...Before the invention of pain-killers and tranquillizers...
Not to mention first-hand info...From his sis...

PMS...Let him tell you about PMS...

“Guys...” she frowned...

She turned to Walthrop...

“Was I really worse than Drusilla?...”

Well...he sighed...She glared...

Certainly not, dear...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part IV...


“Wrebecca?...You ok?...” Glory called to the sitting BR...

Dreg and a couple of Knights having escorted the retired goddess to Ben’s office for her weekly physical...

Fine...Buffy Rebecca assured her...Her brother was taking very good care of her...

Glory nodded...A leetle nervous at the sight of the IV...

Not for her, too?...she asked Dreg...

A special treatment for Miss Rebecca, Dreg explained...But, he hastily added...Not because of any illness...

That he knew of...He looked at the Walthrops...

“Ben is helping us with getting ready to have a baby, Glory...” Buffy Rebecca explained...

Whoa...Glory looked...Quite proudly...At her brother...

“Wreally...Ummn...Really, Beny?...” she asked...

“Well, this is just to see if Rebecca is ready to try, Glory...”

Dreg offered his most profound hopes for a successful outcome and congratulated Dr. Walthrop in advance of what he was sure would be a most blessed event...

Spike was a bit...Flattened...To suddenly have it thrust upon him what he was embarking on...

Dreg, as befitting a master diplomat, trained in the hallowed halls of the Brethren Order, sensed the young man’s nervousness and assured him that Miss Rebecca...With her unique qualitites...And in Benedictus’s capable hands...Was sure to experience no difficulties whatsoever...

Glory was fascinated by the whole concept...Mommiehood...And babies...And had...Many questions...

Ben and BR looked at each other...Best to move on to Glory’s physical for now...

Ben guided his sister into the exam room...Glory still asking...Many questions...

Dreg took up a semi-guard position by the door and beamed at the Walthrops...Though maintaining a discrete distance...Naturally the happy couple would appreciate a little privacy, he guessed...

Likewise befitting a master diplomat, trained in the halls of the Divine Order...
***

Still...BR noted to Walthrop as he stumbled over to her...Still recovering himself...It was probably a very healthy sign in Glory’s development...

Hmmn-hmmn...He nodded blankly...

“Should I be getting...Cigars or something?...” he asked her... “I’ve forgotten what fathers do at this stage...”

Generally they act about the way you’re acting...She told him, grinning...But with a trace of excitement...And trepidation...

Wonder if any Slayer has ever become pregnant?...Have to ask Giles sometime when Sis isn’t right around...

Just in case none has ever lived long enough...

Sis doesn’t need to hear that...
***
Buffy and Warren called later that afternoon via the computer link...Just as BR was completing her first round of therapy...

Just a causal call, of course...Ben having informed them he would be starting BR’s therapy today...They just thought it might be nice to...Causally...Check in and see how things were going...
“I’ve gone insane and killed Spike...” BR solemnly informed them...

Glory...Who...Physical successfully completely...Had been eagerly discussing baby names with BR...Looked at Walthrop startled...He seemed ok...

She’s teasing...Spike told her, patting her hand...

Dreg looked a shade reprovingly at BR...As did Walthrop for that matter...

Sorry, Glory...BR grinned at her...Didn’t mean to frighten you...It’s my sis on the line...

“Buffy Anne?...” Glory asked...

Hmmn-hmmn...Want to say hi?...Buffy Rebecca asked her...

“Yeah!...Hi, Buffy Anne...” Glory called to the phone...

“Guess who that was?...” Buffy Rebecca asked her sis...Grinning at Ben and Walthrop...And patting an eager Glory...

Do maternal hormone surges increase one’s propensity for dumb practical jokes?...Spike asked Ben...

Based on 1600 years medical experience...And my several dozen marriages...Ben pondered...

Yes...Definitely...

***
At dinner...A very family dinner...Glory and Dreg joining them in a dining room of the monastery...Buffy Rebecca was in an extremely light-hearted mood...

Not to mention...As they sat at the magnificent antique table...And several monk servitors proudly brought forth an excellent dinner on a gorgeous dinner service hand-crafted for one of the Emperors...Rather light-headed as well...

In fact...Walthrop would have said...Having seen the effect of alcohol on his wife, courtesy Warren’s penchant for accuracy...That she was a bit...Sloshed...

Still...As the primary effect seemed to be that she was very affectionate...Towards him...

He could forebear complaints to her physician for now...

Marriage...Hugging Spike fervently... was a wonderful thing...Buffy Rebecca explained to a curious Glory...

Who was very interested in courtship and the other steps leading to marriage and family...Having just begun to read very light romances and fairy tales...

Of course, she confided...Her own courtship with Walthrop had been a wee bit...Unusual...

But, yes...Extremely wromantic...Romantic...She went on in answer to Glory’s question...

Even if...Her mood dimmed a bit...One day she might...

Walthrop hurriedly interjected that he was the luckiest...Man...On earth...And their courtship had indeed been the most romantic he’d ever heard of...

BR caught the warning...Hmmn, right...The need to kill demon Spike someday might be a leetle much for Glory to understand at this juncture...She apologized to Ben as Walthrop told Glory an edited version of how he and BR had met...

“No problem...” Ben smiled at her...But was she feeling...?

A leetle light in the head, she admitted...Was that from...The hormones?...She thought they would make her...You know...Down...

“I think it’s the alcohol basis of a couple of them...” Ben noted...

Maybe the formulation needed to changed just a bit...But as long as she was feeling ok otherwise it could wait...

A little dinner would probably help...A sentiment BR eagerly seconded...

Glory was fascinated by Walthrop’s necessarily edited story...So Wrebecca had come to help free William from his cuwrse?...

Just like the story he’d been reading to her...She noted eagerly to Dreg...Who nodded, quite pleased that she’d made the association...

About the boy with the piece of ice in his heart...Melted by the girl who’d come to free him...

That was it exactly...Buffy Rebecca told her...Again fervently hugging Walthrop...

His old curse...Melted right down into a puddle...By her hot little heart...And his noble, noble soul...Remaining behind...

Like the steadfast tin soldier...Had Glory read that one?...

Umm-Umm...Glory begged permission to get her book...She and Dreg had just finished that one a week ago...
A monk servitor kindly offered to fetch it...

The monk people were so nice...Glory told the others...

Nothing to be concerned about...Ben assured Walthrop...A minor side effect, easily corrected tomorrow...

Hmmn...BR cast him a fervently loving glance...Tomorrow sounds good...Leaving tonight...Sounding pretty good too...Walthrop thought...

“If you’re sure there’s nothing serious to worry about, I guess we can wait...” he noted to Ben...

So the Good Powers had sent her as a copy of her sister to help William...Glory reviewed the tale...And thanks to her coming, William found the way to do the good things that would let him be a nice man...Like a Pwrince...And stay with her...

And have babies...Someday...

Exactly...And he was indeed a Pwrince of a fella...BR noted...

That was so nice...Glory noted...And she was like a fairy princess...Sent from Heaven...

Absolutely...Walthrop grinned at her...Earning another fervent hug...

“Dwreg...When are we going to get mawrried?...” Glory turned to her suddenly blinking former chief minion...

Ben turning as well...

“Your gracious divinity....?”
***
Ben, having diverted divine thoughts of matrimony by bringing up his namesake, Beny the mouse....
Had suggested they have her pet brought in...He must be lonely
in the room by himself...

Glory very eagerly agreed...And proudly showed off Beny’s maze running abilities when he was brought to them...

A very intelligent mouse the spectators agreed...And clearly well cared for...

A beaming Glory noted that he was very good pwractice...

For when she had babies like Wrebecca...

Ben looked at Dreg...Who seemed rather uncomfortable...And clearly desperate to offer an immediate explanation...That in no possible way had he ever...
Ben waved his hand at him...Nothing to worry about, old fellow...

Buffy Rebecca agreed with Glory...Excellent practice...And Dreg would make a first-rate husband, she was sure...Full of sterling qualities...

And she’d already seen that he was a fine commander of...

Walthrop discretely cut in...Yes, Dreg was a fine fellow and a good friend...But back to Beny...Was she considering getting him a companion?...

Hmmn-hmm...Glory nodded...They were going to get one as soon as he was just a bit older...

Ben suggested it was time Beny...And all of them...Got headed for bed...

She was right to choose Dreg...BR noted to Glory as Walthrop guided her towards the door...Noting William...It’s the little fellas who treat their girls right...

And she oughta know...

“Little guys rule, Glory...” she called

Dreg paused only to assure Ben that any statements on Glory’s part that might suggest that he would have ever transgressed his sacred duty...Were only...

“Really...” said Ben...With a twinkle...

“Don’t worry about it, Commander...” he smiled at him...

Actually when all was said and done, Glory could do a lot worse than a devoted fellow like him...Ben went on...

Definitely an improvement over Caligula and Commodus...Her last two boyfriends...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part V...

Contrary to his expectations, the night did not pass well for Walthrop...

Though Buffy Rebecca was...For a short time before she passed out...Quite...Affectionate...

He felt Spike running around inside...Like a caged monkey...The little...

[Suggested theme...Will vs Spike (O Fortuna)]

Just like him...A creature composed almost totally of pure instinct...To try to take advantage of his poor wife when she was...Indisposed...

Fortunately there was the chip...And if he...Walthrop...Focused...He could convince himself that any Spike-inspired moves on poor BR were attacks...Which triggered the chip...

After all, it was one thing if Spike watched and enjoyed from his corner chip prison...With the reluctant and conscious tolerance of Buffy Rebecca...It was quite another if he tried to come out and handle things himself...When she had no say in the matter...

He...Walthrop...Hadn’t had much to be proud of in the last century...But he was proud of his love for his wife...And if he...At last, thanks be to the damned Initiative and their electronic conscience...Had anything to say about it...He was going to keep the pledge he’d made to himself...

The same that BR had made to him...On their wedding night...

Spike was never going to come between them...

To which sentiments the demon strongly objected...Feeling that its demands were not unreasonable...At least this time when the Missus was not in a condition to make her feelings known...

And if it could not overcome the combination of the chip’s and Walthrop’s restraining influences...It could make its human soul counterpart quite miserable...

Pressing at every turn...Dredging up the most gruesome and hideous memories of the past century...Threatening mayhem the moment Walthrop’s guard went down...By images rather than words...Spike relying on his human counterpart generally for language skills...

To which William countered by pointing out that the pleasant existence they shared would come to an abrupt end courtesy the Missus if Spike tried anything...Serious...

Which while helping to hold the demon back...Did not improve its temper...Or lessen its desire to make Walthrop miserable...

So it was a rough night...

The Missus fortunately slept through it dead to the world and oblivious to the battle raging beside her...Unfortunately...Even when an equally exhausted Spike called truce for the sake of a little sleep...Her snoring, if anything, was not improved by her inebriated state...

She awoke still a bit light-headed...But in a bright and cheery...Not to mention amorous...Mood...

And was rather disappointed to find him anything but...

Didn’t understand him sometimes...The guy who had commissioned a sexbot to have her...

Some honeymoon...

He eyed her blearily...Three times the sex drive of a normal Slayer...Plus the inhibition-lowering effect of Ben’s hormonal cocktail...

And wearing her wedding night nightgown...

His wildest fantasy come to vibrant life...

And not even Spike was up to it...

She jiggled him...At least Spike must be interested...Aw, come on, she pouted...

Oh, God...Why dost thou torment a poor poet so?...

She tried a little jealously...

Riley would never have refused an offer like this...

Arghh...He covered his head with a pillow...Which she removed...Grinning...

“Spike?...What’s it gonna take to get you moving?...”

Just a few hours’ sleep, love...Please...

Titanic love-making will follow, I swear...Walthrop mumbled to her...Giving her a light kiss...

Her mood changed as she noted he was very pale...Even for him...

Drunk or not...Buffy Rebecca knew Spike and his ways...And after weeks of nights watching...Knew when he had been up to something...

My poor Willy-lamb...

And, kissing Walthrop, let Spike know that if he continued harassing William...She’d reconsider giving Willow’s resurrection spell a try...Despite the potential danger...

Mr. Pointy II...Hand-crafted by her...Was ready and waiting...Anytime...

Warning dispensed, she passed Walthrop...Her poor lamby...Some blood packets and pulling on some clothes, headed out to the main buildings for some coffee and breakfast...And to see if Ben was ready to try his reformulated hormone mix...

“And Spike...I mean it...Let Will be...” she called back to them...

“I think he’ll behave himself, dear...” Walthrop told her...

She nodded, smiled, and staggering just a little...I’m all right...I’m fine...Headed out...

Admit it...Walthrop told demon Spike as they settled in...It’s worth it...Just to be with her...

He sensed reluctant agreement from below...
***

Oooh...Baklava for breakfast...Real authentic Greek baklava...Not too tough to get used to this, BR noted to Ben...As she munched...Between Ben and a short, friendly monk at a long table in the monastery dining hall...

She explained that Will was indisposed...A leetle pooped after all their recent activities...

Glory was out for a early walk with Dreg...Ben told her in answer to her question...

His sis was making great progress, BR noted...Hard to believe she was the same...

Maniac?...Ben put in, grinning...

Well...She didn’t want to offend him...

“I think ‘maniac’ is about right for someone who sought to destroy Humanity over a little wounded pride...” Ben noted wryly...

But if the shock and loss of semi-omnipotence were giving her better qualities a chance to surface...Perhaps things could work out for her...

“The lady does possess a gentle heart not to be suspected in the Beast...” the friendly monk noted...

God can work miracles in some of us...the monk smiled at BR...

“Monseigneur Bertrand...Our abbot...” Ben introduced him with a smile...

A balding, short, somewhat hefty, dark-haired middle-aged man with a generous twinkle in his eye...A regular Friar Tuck, BR thought...

Oh...Buffy Rebecca was taken by surprise on this one...Ummn...Head of the place...And me tipsy on top of things...Great...

Should I curtsy?...Not an option sitting down...

Checking out the good old supplemental memory...Nothing on proper protocol when meeting an abbot...Great...

Kiss his ring?...Nope that’s the pope...Or...Maybe...

Warren might have packed a little more into the sm as long as he was gonna saddle her with it...

“I’m sorry...Abbot Bertrand?...Or is it?...” she frowned a little at Ben...

He might have warned her who they were sitting down with...

“Bertrand is quite enough, dear lady...” he grinned at her...Waving his coffee mug...

“Were we to insist on titles, I believe reading out dear Benedictus’ would keep us here through most of the day...Not to mention giving the proper address to the Slayer who saved all Humanity...” he nodded at her...

Well...Bertrand...If he’d call her Buffy...

An honor...

***
So...BR struggled to maintain her poise...The food and coffee were bringing her down to earth a bit...Bertrand did think Glory could be taught to lead a more or less normal live...Er life?...One day...

He was, like Benedictus, quite hopeful...

Her progress has been remarkable...the Abbot noted...And rather an inspiration...

To see such a force of evil in the past...Melting away into the gentle, increasingly loving creature they now cared for...

Yes...Buffy Rebecca agreed...It was a wonderful thing to see...

And I have seen it twice...she thought...Not even counting Angel...

“It’s beautiful...The redemptive power in Love...” she told them...Getting a leetle misty...

Damned beautiful...she went on...A slight table bang for emphasis...And she oughta know...

Ben felt it was time to head out to the infirmary...

She apologized...Oops...Effect of her therapy...Hope the Abbot...Bertrand wouldn’t...

“Not at all, my dear...It is damned beautiful...” he smiled at her...
Glory and Dreg...With a couple of her Knights guard...Were coming in as she and Ben were leaving...Wildflowers in Glory’s hair...

She passed a small bouquet over to BR...And one for Ben as well...They’d found gwreat ones today...

“They’re beautiful, Glory...Thanks...” BR told her...

Dwreg found them...He was so gwreat...Ummn...Great...She sheepishly changed...Ben grinning at her...At finding the best flowers...Glory noted...Eliciting a severe blush from her former chief minion and legion commander...

“He’s a treasure, Glory...” Buffy Rebecca beamed at Dreg...Whose blush moved on to serious crimson...

Rebecca was off for more medicine, Ben told his sis...But Glory could come by to see her later after her breakfast if Rebecca didn’t mind...

Not at all...They could have a long chat while she got her meds...BR noted...Woman to woman...

Well...Robotic Slayer woman to retired goddess woman...

Umm...Glory was immediately excited...Talking like the sisters in the stories Dreg read for her...

Talking...About marriage and...Babies?...

“After you have breakfast, Glory...” Ben told her...

She nodded...

“See you Wrebecca...Bye Ben...” she waved as BR and Ben left...

“All well, Dreg?...” Bertrand asked the slowly decrimsoning minion...

He nodded respectfully...Her divinity had passed an excellent night, Sir...Without nightmares...And had throughly enjoyed her brief constitutional...

Mrs. Walthrop’s visit and presence were giving her divinity great pleasure as well...he noted...

Her divine gloriousness...er...Her highness...Dreg respectfully substituted...In deference to the Abbot’s beliefs...Had clearly needed a chance for feminine contact at this stage in her rehabilitation...

The Abbot nodded thoughtfully...Yes...It was clear Glorificus was eager to talk to a fellow woman...He’d try to see that some additional female companionship was provided in future...
Dreg expressed his thanks...The monks’ compassionate care was...Especially considering the violence of Glory’s initial escape in the fall...Far more than generous...

“Our mission is to redeem souls, my son...To see her at peace and so much happier is a great reward and blessing to us all...” he smiled at the faithful minion...

Glory brought her breakfast over...And Dreg’s...At her insistence...

She liked getting it for him...Dwregy was so good to her...She noted to Bertrand as she sat down beside them...

And how was Beny doing these days?...The Abbot smiled at her...Had he learned the new maze yet?....

She beamed...

***

Waking a few hours later...And heading into the hallway...Daylight ring securely on finger above wedding band...Walthrop heard...From Ben’s infirmary...

A very pleasant sound...He followed the sound of his wife’s singing...To find...

Buffy Rebecca...Carefully brushing a very content Glory’s hair...As BR sang to her...

With what Spike could clearly see as a very maternal air...

She grinned at him as he walked in...

“That was William’s mother’s favorite song, Glory...”

Glory smiled at Walthrop...But...

“My mawther is gone...” she said sadly...Long, long ago Ben had told her...

Dreg’s too...

She looked at the Walthrops...BR had told her...All their mothers...Gone...

“But we’ll see them again one day, Glory...At least I think we will...” Walthrop told her gently...

She nodded...Then brightened...Wrebecca was gonna be a mawther...And she was too...Someday...

A very fine mother...Walthrop assured her...
“Well?...” he eyed BR...

Much better she assured him...Ben’s new formulation seemed to have done the trick...

And our demonic little friend?...she asked...

On his best behavior...William told her...

Neither one of us wants another night like last night...He grinned...

And both of us are looking forward to...He remembered Glory, smiling at him happily...A very pleasant evening...

Dreg came in bringing a basket...A picnic lunch on the grounds was planned...

Oooh...Please come William...Glory asked him...

Wouldn’t miss it...he assured her...

Interesting to think that the last time they spoken...Back in Sunnydale barely three months ago...She’d been kicking him down the Sunnydale Mall L corridor....Wearing a burnished suit of flaming armor...He noted to the Missus after Glory had gone to inspect Dreg’s basket...

“You have got your ring on?...Tightly?...” Buffy Rebecca hissed to him..As they headed out behind an eager Glory and quite content Dreg...

He held up his hand, wiggling...Ring firmly in place...

Never leaves this finger, he told her...Even Spike keeps an eye out...

We both have too much to live for...he smiled at her...

She whanged his bottom with Glory’s brush...Now that’s the kind of talk she liked to hear...

Sufficiently honeymoonish?...he asked...

We’ll see...she smiled, picking up the pace after Glory and Dreg...
***
It was unfortunate that the Slayer should be in attendance at the monastery...Centurion Kruger noted to his subcommanders...As he awaited the news of his men, now slipping in batches across the Albanian border, in a small rented store just across the Greek border...

Still...Even Slayers must bow to the Will of God...

And more practically, he noted grimly...Even Slayers can be killed...
If absolutely necessary...

For the Glory of God and the Love of Christ...

There is, after all...Always another Slayer...
***

Of Mice and Minions...Part VI

The outside grounds were beautiful...Walthrop, having escaped his wife’s careful ring eye for a moment...Toured happily around the garden area...

In Dreg’s company, Glory having requested a chance to set up lunch alone with BR...And wishing a chance for a private talk, the gentlemen realized...

Dreg respectfully noted to Walthrop in private as they strolled...Being, as he had been...a person of the night previously...He must be enjoying the chance to experience such things...

Definitely...Walthrop smiled at him...

But then...The goddess herself must not have had much chance to enjoy the outdoors in her past times on Earth...

Indeed...Dreg noted...And she was throughly enjoying herself now...As was he himself...

In fact, all things considered...The Earth had much to recommend it...Even over the hellgods’ dimension...

Spike nodded...

Even at his worst...He told Dreg...He’d never quite lost his love for the world and the beauties in it...

And now, thanks to Buffy Rebecca...

Glory called them over to the blanket she and BR had spread...

He never eats enough...She told BR, frowning at the little minion...

“Eat something, Drweg...” the retired goddess commanded...Old habits of command dying hard...

A valiant effort by Dreg suggested that Glory’s fears were exaggerated...

***

Spike took BR for a walk around the garden after Glory and Dreg had returned inside...

They had lessons...Plus, Glory looked at them with a mysterious air...A suwrprise for after dinner...

“So...What did the Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory have to impart?...” Walthrop asked BR..

She grinned and shrugged...Ummn...Girls’ secret, honey...

Strictly in confidence...

“No plans to try again, I take it...” he grinned...

“I would say...Anything but...” Buffy Rebecca smiled at him...And wrapped his arm about her...

It is inspiring, isn’t honey?...She asked him...To see something so sweet growing out of this?...

The garden...Or Glory?...He asked her...

Both...She looked at him...

“Spike...I have to ask you something...” she paused...

And I do mean Spike...She told him...

“Will you help us?...If we have a child?...Can I...Can we...Count on you to help keep it safe?...”

“I have to know...If I’m...If we’re ever going to take this chance...”

She looked at Walthrop...

“I know you love me, Spike...Just as Will does...”

“And...Maybe...In some ways...It’s unfair...What you get...”

“At least from your point of view...”

Walthrop took her hand...

“Will...No...I haven’t any doubts about you...None...” she looked firmly at him...

“I know you’d die for me...For our children...In a second...”

“But...I have to know that Spike loves me enough to help us...”

“After all...Every enemy we’ve ever had...Every one...Would kill for the chance to hurt or harm our child...And if Spike betrays us...For some kind of revenge...Well...”

Even with his help and guardianship, it would be tough enough...With him against them...

And...If he lies...To...Us?...Walthrop asked her...

He can’t lie to you...Buffy Rebecca told him...You’ll know...

Besides, she grinned...I’d have Willow double-check to be certain in any case...

Walthrop grinned back and nodded...

“I think...He loves you enough to do it...Help us...But...I want to be certain myself...”

He looked at her seriously and solemnly...

“Even if he cooperates completely...I still have a demon in me...A door to the dark forces...
And God knows it’s tough enough to raise a kid even without that...”

She stared at him...You don’t want to...Try...

She asked him...He thought and looked at her...

“Yes...More than anything...Except hurting you...” he told her...

“But I have to know first...That I won’t be...That my curse won’t be...The cause of my child’s suffering...More of your suffering...”

We’ve already seen enough of that...he told her sadly...

But...Surely if Willow and Giles say?...She asked...

This is our child, Rebecca...he looked at her...

Not to mention Buffy’s...he grinned a little...

And...It’s your heart...And mine...At stake...He took her hand firmly...

I have to know...We have to know...Without any qualifications...First...

But...We will find a way...To be sure...

She nodded...It was, after all, no less than what she had instinctively felt...

For their sakes...As much as for their children...Now that they were looking like a distinct possibility...

They had to be sure...Somehow...

Buffy Rebecca looked at him...He’d borne it without the slightest complaint...The slightest annoyance...Thinking only of her...And their children...

Just as he’d borne his unjust curse...

She looked around...A beautiful place...

And a beautiful soul to share it with...
***

Dinner was once again in the majestic dining room...Off the plates of the Byzantine Emperors...

“I could get used to this...” BR confided to Spike with a grin...

After all, she noted, chuckling...The Byzantine Emperor had wanted her or sis as a consort for his young successor, Basil...

No doubt, a buck-toothed and spindly fellow...Walthrop noted...

Hmmn...BR looked her hubs over...Buck-toothed and spindly, eh...

Well...With those teeth...And that slight frame...

“Why, your Majesty...” she mock bowed... “You might have told a girl...”
***
Ben inquired politely after his patient’s condition...

New hormone mix seemed to be working well, she told him...

Of course...If you find a pile of ashes next to me tomorrow...she grinned at Walthrop...
***

Glory and Dreg rushed through their excellent dinner...Clearly impatient to be off...

They had arranged a leetle surprise for their guests...And left hurried after dinner...

Ben escorted the Walthrops to the main hall...Where the Abbot, a number of Knights, and
most of the monks joined...

A musical review...Which Glory especially had prepped for frantically...Ben told them...
Though Dreg had not been far behind in nervous anxiety...

Glory emerged from behind a hastily erected clothes hanger curtain...

Looking...

Well...Glory would have looked good in an old bathrobe...

In the red gown she wore...

She greeted all her friends...

This was a little show she and Dreg had planned ever since she started watching movie musicals...she told them...

And was especially in twribute...er tribute...to dear Rebecca..(she beamed at getting it right)...and William...

And Beny...Both of them...And...Everybody...

As for Dreg...

“Hey, Dreg...” BR whistled at the blushing minion as he emerged...In top hat and tails...

An old suit of Ben’s...From the thirties...

With a cane no less...

A regular Cole Porter, Spike noted...

And you oughta know, BR grinned at him...

Glory beamed at Dreg...And pulling out...Glasses...And a large sheet of paper...

Glasses?...BR looked at Ben...Who grinned...

My sis’ dark secret is out...he whispered...

The two on stage leaned against each other...Grinning...

Go to "I Remember It Well"

Glory began to sing...Followed by her partner, affecting a rather interesting attempt at a Britishish accent...Accompanied by a phonograph record of the music...



Glory:                                         Dreg:

We met at nine.                            We met at eight.
I waws on time.                            No, you were late.

Ah yes! I wremember it well.

We dined with fwriends.                  We dined alone.

A tewnor sang.                                A baritone.

Ah yes! I wremember it well.

That dazzlin’ April mwoon!              There was none that night,
                                                         And the month was June.

That's wright! That's wright!

(Dreg smiled at Glory fondly)

                                               It warms my heart to know that you
                                                remember still the way you do.

Ah yes! I wremember it well.

(Dreg led her in hand across the stage, Glory spinning around at the other end, Dreg leaning
on cane...)

Glory:                                         Dreg:

That carriage wride.                     You walked me home.

You lost a glove.                       I lost a comb.

Ah yes! I wremember it well.

That bwrilliant sky.                       We had some rain.

Those Wrussian songs.                       From sunny Spain?

Ah yes! I wremember it well.

I wore a gown of gold.                         You were all in blue.

Am I getting old?                       Oh, gloriousness! Not you!

                                                   How strong you were,
                                                   how young and gay,


                                                   Goddess of love in evry way.
(They took hands and turning, glided to stage center, beaming...)

Ah yes!...Ah yes!
Ah yes!... I wremember it well.                Ah yes!...I remember it well...

Glory stood shyly...Holding Dreg’s hand...As he beamed at her...And the audience applauded...And cheered...

Abbot Bertrand rising to wrap her and her partner in a bear’s hug...

Yes...BR thought...Gripping Will’s hand tightly...While banging the table with the other and hollering...There can be miracles...

And we can hope for one more...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part VII

Walthrop quietly requested an audience with Abbot Bertrand the next day...While BR was assisting
Dreg with Glory’s daily lessons...Compling information for a report to the
Watchers’ Council...And taking notes for her own class work...

On one of the most unique case studies a first-year Psych student was ever likely to run into...

Between Glory’s and Spike’s respective cases, she was likely to do very well extra credit reportwise...If she could ever manage to write her material up so as to convince her professors she was neither insane herself or given to storytelling...

The Abbot greeted Will warmly in his small office/library...But realized the young man had a serious matter to discuss...

One which he could guess the outlines of...Aware as he was of Spike’s past nature...

He waved him to a seat...

William came to the point...He...And Buffy Rebecca...Needed information regarding the nature of his redemption...

And, after careful reflection...Weeks of it, actually...He’d come up with a possible source...Which he hoped the monks might have useful knowledge of...

The horse’s mouth, so to speak...

Hell itself...

“You would seek to know...?”

“I need to know...What is my...Status...In terms of my redemption, my soul...Am I still damned?...But more important...”

“Would any children I could have be damned as well?...”
He looked earnestly at the Abbot...The monks had had control of the Key, the portal to opening the Hellgates for years until Glory had overcome Ben’s restraints...If anyone could show him the way to Hell, they could...

The Abbot returned his stare calmly...Which pleased Walthrop...

No waving of crosses...No talk of blasphemy...And attempts to pray him away...

A practical, common-sense sort...Who would hear him out...

Bertrand sighed...The sufferings of William Walthrop were known to him...And now...Seeking answers from such a source...

“But all who would bring children into this world must accept the possibility of loss, my son...”

“This is different, father...If my curse extends to my children...I...Can not...I will not...Allow that to be...I’ve got to know...For my sake...For my wife’s...”

“But she is not afraid to bear your children?...”

Walthrop looked at him...

“She loves me...She has faith in my redemption...And won’t believe that I could be the source of...Great evil...To her...And everyone she cares about...”

“And you?...Do you believe in your redemption, my son?...” the abbot asked sympathetically...

Spike nodded... “I do...As long as she is with me...I can...But...” he looked desparately at Bertrand...

“But I can’t take the risk...My children could start out seemingly normal...And then...” Spike looked at the little Bertrand...

“I have to know...”

Bertrand leaned back and looked carefully at Walthrop...

“And you believe a journey to Hell itself can provide the answer?...”

“If I am...Still a monster...Or at least, bearing a curse that must run down the generations... That part of the Powers That Be who reign there...They’ll let me know...I’m sure of it...”

They’d enjoy it, damn bastards...he thought...

Bertrand eyed him...
“And you believe the answers of the Dark Powers would be truthful...Not calculated to drive you to despair and defeat?...”

Walthrop sighed...And wanly smiled at the Abbot...

“I’m still part demon, sir...Maybe...If truth be told, more than half excepting the chip in my head and Spike’s willingness to let me handle things for now...To please my wife...”

“If they try to lie to me, he’ll know...And he wants the truth as much as I do...”

The Abbot did not look at him as he spoke...Rose and began pacing what little space was available in his small office...

Hope there, Walthrop realized...He knows something...

“You have seen the effects of opening the Hellgates, my son...A disaster to the world...To all the universes...If done improperly...”

“My grand...My friend, Angel...He was thrown into a portal to Hell...And returned...”

“If he could make it there and back...Perhaps...I could too...If I could find a way...Without threatening all existence...”

Bertrand stopped his pacing and looked directly at him...

“There is a way...” the Abbot told him... “You are quite right...A portal to the dark world can be formed without requiring that the Hellgate itself open...But...It is very dangerous...At least for the one who makes the journey...”

He looked at Walthrop carefully...

“And you could well be trapped there...Eternally...And if so your very soul would stand in danger of falling into condemnation...Perhaps this time without hope of rescue...”

“I won’t give in...If I’m trapped there...I’ll find someway to last it out...”

“I know now, you see...Someone will be waiting for me...Quite a few in fact...” he smiled at the Abbot...

The Abbot looked at him...A courageous soul...A loving heart...Already tested by years of torment...

It is not whether one avoids an encounter with the dark powers...Bertrand reflected, watching Walthrop’s earnest face...That is a matter of chance and fate...But...How one responds to it, he thought to himself...Endures what one cannot hope to overcome by oneself...
And this poor young man...Somehow kept some human part of himself alive...Even in his darkest moments...

But...To let him take this risk...Perhaps lose everything he has won at such cost...And yet...
He deserves the chance...To hope for a future...For himself and that dear angel, his wife...

Walthrop paused...

“I didn’t know it before...But I do now...And even before I was saved...Somehow I never quite gave it up...Completely...”

“So I won’t lose heart...I’ll wait...As long as it takes...”

Bertrand nodded...But...There was another consideration...

“And your wife...Can she bear this?...Have you considered what effect this might have on her soul?...”

The abbot looked solemnly at him...

“She would not be the first to give herself to evil...Believing it the only way to join her beloved...”

Walthrop shook his head...On this at least, he had no doubts...

“Not my wife...She’ll know I’m coming back...However long it takes...And she’ll know better than to surrender to some evil force that offers to reunite us...”

She has a great deal of experience in this line, after all...he noted...

***

The retired goddess Glorificus had reached a critical stage in her rehabilitation...

One which Dreg...And to a certain extent Ben and the monks...Dreaded...

Though they were aware it was a crucial hurdle for her to cross if she was ever to enter the human world...

The beginning of the return of her past...Her growing awareness of her former activities...

They were therefore...Not sorry to have extra psychiatric help on hand...

Plus the extra comfort to Glory of it being in female form...
***
Which was especially handy this day...As Glory had one of her most intense memory flashes to date while taking her lessons...

Dreg was an excellent instructor, BR noted, sitting in on Glory’s lessons...With the goddess’ enthusiastic approval...Patient, yet surprisingly firm...

Dropping his customary deferrence in his beloved goddess’ best interest...

And equally surprisingly, Glory seemed to appreciate his no-nonsence approach as much as his loyal support...

Something Gilesian in that little minion, BR noted...Smiling at him...But, geesh...She wondered...

Giles has always had a tendency to overlook our darker side...Buffy’s and mine...

Does that mean...There’s a little Glory in Sis and me?...

***

Glory paused in midanswer to Dreg’s question on the multiplication tables...

He’d been eager to show off her skill in math to their guest...After all, most military geniuses are whizzes at math...And his beloved goddess was no exception to that rule...

But she froze...

Seeing...Herself...Some others...In a large, vewry large building...Facing some people...Among them...

Her good friend, Buffy Rebecca...

And she...Glory... was...Angry...At them...But especially at her...

For some reason she now couldn’t even begin to fathom...

Angry enough to...

She looked at BR in astonishment...Tears in her eyes...

“I huwrt you, Wrebecca...” she said simply...And heartbreakingly...
***

Why...Why had she done that?...She asked in wonder...

She had some suspicions...Following on earlier memory flashed...
“Was I vewry bad, then?...” Glory asked BR, thoughtfully...

Weell...

“I don’t think you quite understood what you were doing, Glory...How people might be hurt...”

A goddess after all thinks on a different scale...

Glory stood for a moment...Looking at BR and the increasingly nervous Dreg...

She looked around the room...Out into the hall...

“Is this...Am I in jail?...” she asked BR quietly...
***

Dreg looked at Buffy Rebecca, pleading in his eyes...

No...BR told her...No, not jail...Not a prison...

A hospital...To help you get better so that this can never happen again...So you won’t be angry like that again...

You know your brother, the monks, and the Knights here all care for you...Buffy Rebecca told her...

She nodded...And Dwreg...but...

“But...If I was bad?...Huwrt people...Shouldn’t I be...Punished?...” Glory looked at her...

Sometimes...BR told her quietly...Sometimes when people are sick...And can’t control their actions...They have to be helped...If they can be...To become well...and better people...

And if they can be helped...If they weren’t really able to control themselves before, most people agree...They should be allowed to try again...Without punishment...

Like my Will...she pointed out to Glory...

“Did I have a demwon in me?...” Glory asked, a little nervously...

One might say that...BR wryly noted, remembering the hellion of the Sunnydale Mall battle...

But you’re much better now, she noted...Like Will...

An extremely grateful glance from instructor Dreg...
The one thing is...She looked rather sternly at the goddess...You have to go on trying to be a better person...

And there are people who will not think that you can do that...Some of whom think that way because...She looked at a solemn Glory...

“Because I huwrt them...” Glorificus half-asked, half-stated, carefully...

Well...In some cases...

So...You may have to work at it...Hard...To convince them...

Glory nodded thoughtfully...

But...BR smiled at her...I think you can do it...

Just like William did...

“And...You...And Willy aren’t...Mad at me?...” Glory asked her, seriously...

You’re not the same person, sweetie...We’re friends now...And I’m ok...BR told her...Taking her hand...

So...No...We’re not mad at you...We’re glad that you’re so much better...And that we can all be friends now...

But...Buffy Rebecca looked at the still rather anxious Dreg...We should get back to your lessons...

Which he resumed with relief...

She couldn’t resist the thought however...

Two for two on the redemption game...Not bad...

Rather prefer it to Slaying, actually...

***
The Templars were assembling at the village where the tour guide/scout had summoned them...Near the site of the church William and Buffy Rebecca had visited...

Centurion Kruger reviewed his forces...Not huge numbers by any means...But...

Rome...And the Christian Roman Empire...Wasn’t...And wouldn’t be...Built...Or rebuilt...In a day...
For this battle...It would suffice...

And once the first great victory was won...The ranks would swell with the Faithful...

The chief cleric, by his side, blessed each man as he came forward...

“To fight and die in the name of Christ is no sin...” he intoned...

“Death to the Beast...” each Templar replied in his turn...

After receiving the plan of battle, they were instructed to melt back into the local area...In various disguises...Await the call...And meet at this site...When the time was right...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part VIII

Spike cautiously broached the subject he’d discussed with the Abbot that morning to BR after she’d returned from Glory’s lessons...

Would she mind terribly if he took a short trip to Spike’s place of origin...Say sometime within the next month or so?...After they got settled in back in dear old Sunnydale...

To check on old comrades like poor old demon Dru, hoist a few with the old hell crew, that sort of thing...

Ms. Summers-Walthrop was not amused...

Knew what he was about...And could play that game...

Sounded like a fun trip...she noted...

She always wanted to see Hell...

The source of so many of Sunnydale’s most interesting visitors...And residents...

And with two human Slayers on hand at Sunnydale...She could be spared for a little longer...

Hmmn...A safe portal by the means the Abbot could offer is only big enough for one, dear...he explained...

And he was the logical choice to go...The whole point being to check on his soul’s status...

Well...He’d go first, she’d follow...Immediately after...

Ummn...It can only be done once within a lunar cycle, dear...
And he hoped to return long before the next one...

Besides...She’d actually have a role to play in keeping the way back more or less open...And guarding the entry point...Which would be a rather familiar place, actually...

Really...Guarding your gateway to Hell...For how long do you expect me to do that?...she asked him...

Sitting at the Hellmouth like Patience on a monument...For...?

“Won’t be the Hellmouth, sweetheart...The Master sealed that way up unless we want to actually open the Gate...Which I think Glory has shown us is not a good thing to do...”

Then...Where?...Not that she was agreeing to his going, mind you...

The Well of Souls in the basement of the Wolfram-Hart building in LA was probably the most convenient place to try...Spike noted...A direct link to Hell...Abbot Bertrand had agreed it was probably the best place...Least risky for opening the portal...

The Well of Souls...Where human Buffy was resurrected?...Where the WH crew brought up its “special guests” and senior partners from Hell?...

Hmmn-hmmn he nodded, matter-of-factly...And with the current chaos at WH due to Willow and his little escapades there...Not to mention dear Lilah Morgan’s damaging revelations...It shouldn’t be too difficult to...

“You’re really planning to do this?...” Buffy Rebecca interrupted...

You freaking crazy little...After all we’ve just been through?...After all I...me and Buffy...have been doing to save your miserable little soul...You’re gonna hop down to Hell and risk getting trapped there?...she did not say...

Leaving me...For some dopey noble reason?...Like some especially moronic version of Angel?...she did not say...

You have to let me play the hero once in a while, sweet...he smiled at her...And my role here is a unique one...

“We have to know, Buffy...” he turned serious...

She looked at him...Bit her lip...And shook her head slowly...

“I...I’m not ready for this Will...Not now...Maybe we can talk about it when we get back home...But not now...”

I couldn’t bear the thought of it right now...she told him...

Besides maybe...Maybe Giles and Willow can come up with some way of proving we can go ahead that’s just as convincing...

Certainly more trustworthy than the devil’s word on it...

Please...Lets hold off on this...For now...She looked at Walthrop...

Until some new menacing thingy hopefully pops up to keep us busy...she did not say...

He looked at her...Her pleading face bore traces of the haggardness it had worn after their Italian stay...And taking her hand, agreed...

For now, it was honeymoon time...Responsible pre-parenting could come later...

And who knew, perhaps Red and his fellow Watcher would come up with something useful and safe...

In fact, he was sure of it...What with Willow’s ever-growing abilities and Giles’ experience...

“You’re a poor liar, ‘Throp...” she grinned at him wanly... “For someone who was a member of the dark crew not so long ago...”

And you’re freaking crazy...she sighed...A journey to Hell...God...

No doubt the Powers That Be will keep Sunnydale quiet for the next six months...Just to ensure his departure...They so love their little jokes, she thought...

Well...I always did follow my own path...Walthrop noted, smiling....Even in my worst days...

My “freaking crazy” days...

Just ask our little friend, the Anointed One, he grinned...

“Whatever did happen to him?...” BR asked, smiling slyly... “He just seemed to disappear from Sunnydale...”

Oops...Guess the word never spread to the Slayer...Spike thought...

Ummn...Well...He was quite miffed when Spike failed him, you know...And then walked out on him...And I suppose...What with the followers dropping away and all...He...Just moved on...

“Strange...A little bird told me William the Bloody took him for a suntan...” BR looked at Spike...
Er...Well...

“It’s nice of you to want to spare my feelings, honey...” she told him...

But I don’t remember him fondly as a sweet little boy, believe me...

***

Buffy and Warren called with Dawn, naturally, in attendance that evening...Both were anxious to hear how the hormonal therapy was going...And how things stood with the retired Goddess...

For her part BR was rather interested to hear how things stood with her cybergenius ‘dad’ and Sis...

And noted that neither Mr. Finn nor Angel seemed in attendance...

***

For his part, Warren also had some questions about the little package his ‘daughter’ and ‘son-in-law’/partner had sent...

Containing the deactivated Tim robot they’d encountered in Scotland...

So...He was not to tell Tim he was a robot after reactivation, eh?...Just introduce him as a young and promising cybernetist?...

Who just happened to sleep at the lab?...

Deal with it, Pop...BR chuckled...

“I’m sure you’ll think up some kind of living arrangement for him...”

Living arrangement?...As in independent living arrangement?...

He was that well programmed?...Warren asked...

Remarkable...Of course he hastily added...

Ummn...BR did realize...She was different...Her brain...

Poor ‘dad’...She grinned at Walthrop...He’ll never stop trying to prove my humanity to me...Apologizing for going along with your weird leetle scheme...

Too bad you don’t follow his good example, there ‘Throp...she noted, hand on phone...A little penance now and then is good for the soul...
“Can’t apologize for something I would never even consider revoking, love...” Walthrop grinned at her...Though, of course, he hastily added, he regretted the original method of obtaining the recording of dear Buf’s brain...

Which had been somewhat made up for by Buffy’s more than willing cooperation in BR’s restoration...he noted...Hopefully...Looking at her solemnly...And as penitently as possible...

Hmmn...She frowned at him...Anyway...

She returned to the phone...And her embarrassed second father...

After Hank Summers, of course....

“Dad...I understand...Me...Human-souled, artificial but human brain...It’s fine...Now as to Tim...Make sure Willow and Tara install a safety program along the lines Will and I suggested...”

Before you turn him on...she stressed...Several times...

Tim had already shown himself capable of doing harm when inadequately supervised...

And Warren had a tendency to get wrapped up in a dangerous project without thinking things through...

Keep an eye on him...Buffy having returned to the phone... BR told her sister...

Who seemed quite willing to do so...

Anything new lurking around old Sunnydale?...BR asked...Somewhat hopefully...Walthrop having moved off for a moment...In search of a phone to page old Ben...To go over BR’s condition in detail with Warren...

Nah...Buffy answered...Some dimwitted snake demon popped up...Bit like Glory’s pet...But she and Basey had had no trouble with it...Otherwise pretty quiet...A number of vamps still keeping the peace agreement...Biggest problem was deciding which ones were sincere...Though it was usually preety obvious...

You can’t keep a good hunter vamp’s nature down...Buffy noted...

Not without a chip, anyway...

BR frowned audibly over the phone...Rats...

Something...Up?...Buffy asked her...

Walthrop returned...Ben’s on his way...
Later...BR hissed to the phone...

Oh...Involving Blondie, eh?...Buffy asked...

Uh-huh...BR smiled at Spike...Who hollered a greeting to Sis and lil’ Sis while leaning on his Missus...

“Tell Dawn, Benedictus is still unshackled as yet...” Walthrop called...

We’re looking forward to having minor deity in the family...he teased...

A faint Dawn groan from the other side...
***

Buffy for her part was...Curious...How was the hormonal therapy going?...Any bizarre side effects?...Apart from the wooziness Ben had told them about...

So far...So good...her sis told her...

She’d...Buffy’d...Seen Warren’s latest breakthrough in action already...At the lab...With a sheep...

Really...How’d it look?...BR asked her...Walthrop now listening intently...

Well...It was...Well...Like that film I...We...Saw on the Discovery channel six months ago...Buffy told her...

“Dawn...Go away...” BR heard her call...

Grousing from the other end was audible...

You didn’t take Dawn...BR asked...Pushing Spike off a bit...

Pleease...I wish I hadn’t gone...Buffy told her...Still...It was...Interesting...

Warren acted like he’d invented maternity...

“Yeah...I can imagine...” BR grinned at the phone...But...She felt Walthrop breathing nervously on her shoulder...

She pointed at a chair down the hall and turned Walthrop towards it...He strode off, grumbling a bit...

She returned to the phone for the crucial question...

“How was the lamby when it came out?...”

She seemed fine...Buffy told her...A regular little lamb...Dawn was taking care of it for a few days...There being no Momma...

Four tries, four successes...Phew...

She graciously gave Spike a thumbs-up...

He did his best to convey a sense of having no doubt whatsoever...

So...It looks good...Buffy concluded...

“Buf...He wants to go to Hell...” BR told her...Trying to conceal any visible agitation or teariness...From her marital partner down the hall...

Spike?...To Hell...What the...After all we’ve been doing for him?...

Not for evil or boredom reasons, you understand...She hastily added...

Buffy could guess...She was Buffy Rebecca after all...

Good ole Will the Bloody wants to play hero...Checking out his fitness for papadom at great personal risk...Trying to impress the Missus and top Angel one more time..

No great surprise, that...

Well...Buffy sighed...But...How could he do that?...He can’t risk opening the Hellgates...

Glory’s idiot monk protector showed him a way to make a one man portal...At the Well of Souls at Wolfram-Hart...That moron of mine wants to try it...BR smiled pleasantly down at the waiting Spike...

Buffy says hi, honey...she called...And Warren’s system worked fine...He nodded...

Never had a doubt...He called back...

Another triumph for the “cybergeniuses”...

“I’ll check it out with Giles...Should we...Find some reason to make it impossible?...” Buffy asked her...

BR pondered...Spike was up from his chair but fortunately occupied in greeting Ben who’d just come in...

Well...I guess not...He’d know in any case if we tried that...And maybe...He’ll have to go...If we’re gonna try this...But...

But...There very likely goes Buffy Summers’ most successful relationship to date...And one that I had to neurally clone myself to get, Buffy thought...Poor sis...

“I’ll speak to Giles...And Willow...They’ve already been looking at it...Maybe they can prove it’ll be ok...”

Don’t worry...Whatever has to be done...Blondie is not likely to let himself get lost now...Buffy told her...

Yeah...she sighed...Say...BR chuckled a little...

Ever in your...Our...Wildest...

Actually...Buffy noted...If you remember back about the first time Angel came to town...

Oh...That time...Yeah...That was a preety wild dream...

Don’t even need a supplemental memory to call that one up...Buffy chuckled a bit...

You never told His Blondness about that one, did you?...She asked BR...

Pleease...I hold it for the day he starts taking me for granted...BR laughed...Looking at her hubs down the hall...

Spike and Ben waved pleasantly...They too were very pleased about the good news on the maternity front...

‘Sides he’s nervous enough about Angel as it is...BR told Buffy...

At her wave, Ben took the phone briefly to report on BR’s therapy to Warren...

***
So...Walthrop asked as she joined him and Ben after making good-byes...Lambs and rabbits...All a-ok...

Hmmn-hmm...She nodded...Of course the animals still have to be followed...And there’ll be a lot to do before we make any tries...

Like your little reverse hysterectomy?...Spike noted...

Hmmn...She glared...Only a guy would say something so stupidly causal about a thing like that...Even if that was basically the correct description...
Ought to be a piece of cake...Walthrop went on...

“Great...Then why don’t we have Warren install one in you, sweetie?...” Buffy Rebecca told him...

Ben discretely...As befitting a minor deity of Healing and Mercy...An experienced physician with practice as a gynecologist/obstetrician...And several dozen time husband...Kept mum and slipped in the direction of his office...

“Oh...Don’t go, Ben...I’m not about to pick a fight with hubby here...Just...” she glared at the hubs...Whose innocent look was for once, quite sincere...

What I say?...

Try to remember this is a whopping big deal for me, will you?...Both you and Spike...She looked at Walthrop...

I’m not a toaster oven, you know...You’re not “upgrading” me...

Ummn...He looked put his clasped hands to his lips and looked round them...Certainly not sweetheart...

I didn’t mean to be insensitive...And of course...He smiled at Ben...

I have no intention of bringing you back for a trade-in on an upgrade...Anyway the warranty expired after the first thirty days...So I’m stuck with you...

“Isn’t she beautiful when she’s in fury?...” he called to Ben as she chased him down the hall...

Just like old times...he happily noted as she sent him flying across the corridor...She’s really picking up her spirits...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part IX...

After the Walthrops completed their rather unique form of exercise...

Ben was intrigued to hear about Glory’s encounter with her past...

And gave his guest the budding child psychologist full marks for her fine handling of the patient...

A major step forward in Sis’ rehabilitation, he noted...

Of course...One day she would have to learn that she had done a leetle more than injure a few folks...

But for now...Her remorse and her ability to accept and deal with flashes of her past nature were promising signs...

So...

Sis not being quite the mad hellfiend anymore...And minor deities being a welcome addition in most families...he nodded at Walthrop...

“This mean I can ask Dawn out when she hits seventeen?...” Ben grinned...

BR grinned sheepishly at him...While glaring at the hubs...

Doctor’s hearing eh...

“We’ll need to see detailed references for the past two centuries, of course...” Spike noted...

Naturally...Ben bowed...

“I only wish I’d insisted on some when my sis took up with Caligula...”

Guys...BR frowned...

Got a letter of reference from my old boss, Louis Pasteur, somewhere...Ben told Walthrop...

The Louis Pasteur?...BR thought...

Hmmn...Not too shabby...Must pass that on to Buf...she thought...

That’ll do for a start, Spike agreed...

Boys...BR frowned...

“Think what a prom date she’d have, Buffy...” Walthrop grinned at Ben...

Correction...she told them...You are toddlers...Immortal toddlers...

Your sis is more mature...she told Ben...

Well...She was actually born twenty-two seconds earlier, he noted...
***
Part field trip, part therapy...BR explained to Spike...

She wanted to take Glory out with them...Do a leetle more sightseeing in the quiet villages round about...Nothing too much...They’d save Athens for themselves for the next day as Glory’s contacts with Humanity should be done in stages...

She’d gotten Ben’s ok, the Abbot’s, and the Knights’ Commandant...Provided an escort follow...Discretely...In civilian dress...

Great...Walthrop thought...Glory, no doubt Dreg, and a small army of Knights trailing behind, trying to look inconspicuous...

But Buffy Rebecca had a rather set and determined look about her on this one...It would be good for Glory’s rehab...So...

Well...If she was so set on it...

Hmmn...Whatever she and Ben might say about her response to the new hormonal cocktail, she was definitely showing a fiercely maternal streak...Still...

A natural Summers’ trait...Considering Joyce with Buffy, Buffy with Dawn...

Buffy Rebecca...With him?...

***
Glory was making a desperate effort to contain her excitement, Dreg having clearly prompted her on proper behavior beforehand...

She had wridden in Beny’s car before...she told BR...Sitting as demurely as possible in the crowded little back of Ben’s small car with Dreg...

But never...Out to see the towns...And the people...And the...Childwren?...she asked hopefully...

We may see a few, BR told her...

Camwera, Dreg?...Glory asked...

“Certainly, my divine gloriousness...” Dreg passed her her little camera...Loaded and all set...

She’d become quite proficient in photography, he proudly noted to the Walthrops...

Beaming at the praise, she began focusing carefully on a few objects of potential interest...

“We’ll stop the car when you find something, Glory...Just let us know...” BR told her...

Glory thanked her...But in addition to fixed objects, she liked to try capturing images from the moving car with a high speed film and a special light setting...But she would call out if she saw something to stop for...
Hmmn...Guess she is pretty good at that...Walthrop noted...

Of course Ben did say her intellectual development was proceeding even faster than her emotional rehab...BR thought...

And a military genius would naturally have a good eye for photography...
***

A Templar scout positioned near the monastery observed the small procession of three cars leaving and reported it by phone to the Centurion’s headquarters...

He hadn’t gotten a clear view of the occupants of the first two cars, but thought the third contained Knights...In civil dress...

Perhaps...It being Benedictus’ car in the lead...Some large-scale shopping and resupply?...Or perhaps a medical emergency in one of the villages the monks and Ben tended to?...

Kruger gave the order to have the group watched...His men were not yet ready for an all-out attack on the monastery, but if the opportunity to seize Benedictus and exchange him for the Beast was presenting itself...

He and his Templars could be...Flexible...In certain tactical matters...

***
“Looks like our former Commander has some competition...” BR nodded to Spike...

Even in the quite conservative dress she chosen for the retired goddess...And the glasses...

A group of young men in the charming village they were strolling through were finding Glory...Rather...

She was a hair nervous, but as they seemed equally so...And quite...Friendly...She smiled shyly and waved...

Dreg clasping her hand...Firmly...

***
The dapper, fortyish owner of what was clearly a new shop in the village, greeted them affably...

He had a number of remarkable antiquities to show if the dear ladies would care to...

Tourist trap, no doubt, Walthrop thought as they entered...Well...

Americans?...he asked BR and Glory pleasantly as they stood looking around...It really was a fascinating little shop...
“My husband is British by birth...” BR smiled... “But my friend here is actually part...Italian...And Greek...”

Ah...He greeted a slightly confused Glory in Italian...

To all their surprise she responded in fluent...Ancient Latin...

Well, Walthrop thought...Catching a few of the words...Hey, former Cambridge man here...She was a Roman goddess...

“Ummn...Glory has been in America...She doesn’t speak Italian much...But as you can see...She is quite the Latin scholar...” BR nervously noted to the shopkeeper...

Remarkable...He told them...He was by profession a student of languages...

“Your command of ancient Latin is remarkable...Miss...Glory?...” he told the pleased Glory...

What did she say to him?...BR asked Walthrop aside...

I think...She apologized for not understanding him completely but thanks for the compliment about her...Hair?...Or something...

The shopkeeper switched to Greek...The most ancient version he knew...Glory responded with enthusiasm...

BR looked at Spike...?

Greek to me, dear...

Well, the Roman Empire had been a bilingual state, after all he noted...

Hmmn...BR thought...Latin and Greek scholar...Historian...And photographer...

Not to mention a great beauty...And a sweet disposition...

This girl is not going to have any trouble getting by in this world, that’s for sure...

She couldn’t help looking at old Dreg beaming at his beloved...With a hair of sadness...Poor old fellow...

Well, ‘dad’ is not too shabby a role by any means...

And who knows...An immortal does think on a different scale...

As does a superhuman...Looking at short, slight Walthrop...And remembering old Warren...Buffy’s “possible” new feller...

After all...We’ve both...Well, both if I count Buffy as me...had our share of bad experiences with the hunky type...

***
The shopkeeper sighed after the Walthrops and their friends had made a few purchases and headed out...

Such a waste...Such beauty, spirit, and even...Sweetness...

And yet...The Beast must be destroyed...And the devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape...

It was not for him to question the Will of God...

He went to the back of his shop to alert his commander that the Beast had emerged from her lair...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part X...


The Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, retired, continued her stroll of the little Greek village with Buffy Rebecca, Spike, and firmly at her side, Dreg...

Not to mention half-a-dozen female and male Knights following closely in civilian dress...

Doing their best to look inconspicuous...

And a small horde of young village males...Unable to take their eyes off Glory...

Must be another American diplomat, one village woman peeling potatoes noted to her companion as the group passed...Look at all those Secret Service people...

***

Glory was taking a shot of some very eager young village men...With Dreg firmly by her side...

Buffy Rebecca and Spike stood off to the side watching...As did the half-dozen members of the Knights’ bodyguard...

“Quite the linguist, our Glory...” BR noted happily...

Redemption...That’s the job for me...Gotta tell sis about this...
Hmmn-hmm...Spike agreed...Imagine her on the International History Channel...Co-hosting with that Giselle Fernandes...

Make a lot of young men turn to History as a profession he noted...

Giselle Fernandes....Hmmn...The lady he watches all the time on cable...Buffy Rebecca thought...

The incredibly poised, intelligent, and attractive lady he watches on cable...All the time...

Yeah...She and Glory’d make quite a team...Hmmn...

“Honey?...Forgot to tell you...I’m dropping International History Channel from our cable package with some other things next month...Much too expensive...” she told him...

Smiling the most innocent of Buffy smiles...

She really is feeling better...Walthrop noted...

***

Although he was perhaps slightly annoyed on a personal level by the attentions of Glory’s village admirers, Dreg, former Commander of the Legions of Glorificus, Fellow of the Divine Brethren Order, and Chief Minion was a professional...Who took a professional view of the security situation for his beloved goddess...

Well, perhaps influenced by his emotional attachment to the retired goddess...But, all the same, his concerns were grounded in his years of experience...Which he confided to Buffy Rebecca when she moved over to where he stood by the shutter-bugging Glory...

Too many people...Too close...Too few bodyguards...And too open an area...

“Dreg...It’s not likely that any one would want to hurt Glory now...” she noted...

Regardless...Miss Rebecca, he nodded respectfully, he would feel safer when they were out of this open area...

Greece, after all, like the rest of the Balkans, was at times a troubled area...Always had been...

Even Glory’s Roman Emperors had had their share of headaches over the place...And from what he’d read of the modern situation...

“You’re a loyal friend and a devoted protector, Dreg...” BR smiled at him...And promised to watch over the goddess carefully...As well as see that they moved on to a less open area as soon as possible...
***
By ill chance, Centurion Kruger noted, the village the Walthrops had chosen to take the Beast for...Exercise?...Contained only the one scout who had reported back to him...However, other Templars were on hand in the local area...He arranged for the scout to contact several and alert them to take up positions on the road back to the Benedictus monastery...

While swords and armor were weapons of choice for the Templars...Like the Byzantine Knights they did not disdain to resort to more modern weapons when the situation required it...
***

Although the Roman Goddess of Glory and Victory had on rare occasions in the distant past, appeared briefly at Rome to bestow her blessing on the infant child of a favored emperor or high Roman dignitary...Her experience with children was...Limited...And what little she’d had, lost, courtesy her electroshock...

So that...Despite her fascination with the concept of infants and children...Glory was understandably nervous on meeting a couple of very young village children who had come out of their home to see the beautiful foreign ladies passing by...

“They won’t bwreak...If I touch them?..” she asked BR...

She’d read that young children were fragile...Like her mouse...

Nah...BR told her, grinning...Little kids are the toughest things in the world...Just don’t scare ‘em...

Glory nodded and smiled at the nearest, a little four-year old girl...Who was fascinated by Glory’s beautiful hair...Touching her own in wonder...And scrunching back into her brother, a boy of seven or so who’d come up to protect his sister...

The retired goddess knelt and held a long length of her hair out to the little girl who gradually came out from her brother’s embrace and walking cautiously over, began stroking it gently...BR next to her, and Walthrop from a short distance behind them, watching in wonder...

Looks like I’m not the only child psychologist around here...BR thought...

She glanced over to Spike who rather sheepishly smiled back...Both knowing the thought crossing the other’s mind...

Good thing he hadn’t broken that dratted electrical cable...Back at the Sunnydale Mall Battle...
Even if its use in electroshocking Glory had temporarily cost him Buffy Rebecca...

But then...As it had been his moment of redemption...They’d already guessed he’d made the right choice...

***

Of Mice and Minions...Part XI

BR wanted a moment with Dreg...Before they returned to the monastery...

As, to her surprise, he did with her...

Glory happily following Walthrop and some of the village children who’d gathered round to their play area...Followed by a half-dozen very untouristy-looking “tourists”...Her Knights’ bodyguard...

She and Will would be leaving in a few days and she wanted Dreg to know that she was quite pleased with Glory’s progress...

Her report to the Council of Watchers would emphasize Glory’s successful rehabilitation...And her clearly developing sense of responsibility and remorse for her past actions...

She thought and would inform the Council...That Glory’s past behavior had stemmed from her lack of association with humans...As well as her incredible power...

Glory hadn’t seen humans...Outside the Romans she’d cherished...As, well..Humans...

They’d been more like...well...Mice...to her...

And ungrateful, bad mice at that...

Now...she was coming to understand them and empathize with them...If she continued along this path...She’d make a fine human being...Indeed, someday, a very worthy ally for the Council, given her intellect and experience...

If she stayed on this path...And with her brother, the monks, the Knights...And her old fellow campaigner...She smiled at Dreg...to help her...

Ms. Summers-Walthrop felt she would succeed...

But...she did have a little, well...personal concern...About him...

Not that she thought Dreg would encourage Glory in some return to her old ways...

Just...Well...Glory was likely to have...A very bright future...

A future in which...Someday...He might not play so prominent a part...

Had he...Considered that possibility?...she eyed him...

Ah...Miss Rebecca...Dreg looked her in the eyes...

“I have never expected anything since our divine one began her stay here but that she would one day seek to enter the human world...And that my services would eventually become... Superfluous...”

But...So long as the goddess would continue to allow him to be at hand wherever life took them...Doing what he could to safeguard her in his clumsy way...He was content...It was his reason for existence, after all...

And...He smiled at her, nodding at Glory happily snapping away under Walthrop and the Knight guards’ tender care...Whatever another might think...A rather fine reason if one considered the matter throughly...

She nodded, thoughtful...And looked where William was somewhat reluctantly posing for an eager Glory...

The reason for his existence...
***

For want of a nail the shoe was lost...For want of the shoe, the horse was lost...And so on down to the loss of the battle...

Or rather, in this case, thanks to the presence of an experienced Chief Minion...

Dreg’s desire to speak with Buffy Rebecca concerned, as always, Glory’s safety...He requested they return to the monastery by a different route...Despite the somewhat rougher road...

BR, though inclined to feel Dreg a bit overprotective, supported his request and was pleased to see that the Knights respecting his judgment, agreed to the route change...

A simple precaution...And really only involving a single turn-off to the alternate route...Which, leading to the monastery road by circling round the large mountain which lay between the village and the monastery’s own mountain site rather than crossing over it, entirely avoided the dozen Templars who waited with some serious armament, including mortars, along the direct road...

***

The reason for his existence...

Buffy Rebecca pondered Dreg’s statement as they drove back...Holding Walthrop’s hand gently...

It had, after all, a personal relevance to her and Walthrop’s relationship...

She had come...Originally at least...In response to poor Will’s cry for help...
She was convinced of that...Even if one must factor in the extreme good fortune of Science in the form of dear old Warren having reached a point where it could offer him assistance...

But was that...Reason for her existence?...She looked at him as he spoke with Glory who was bubbling over with what she’d seen...

Of course, she could make the instantaneous, glib assertion that she was a free soul, an independent being...But if one returned to her starting point...At the biotank in Spike’s old crypt...

Bit unnerving...And something to think about...

He squeezed her hand...And smiled at her...A great day for Psychology, I grant you...He noted, nodding at Glory...

She grinned and nodded in turn...Glory beginning another round of excited comments to him...And thought...

Will was so desperately dependent on her...And would always need her support to hold Spike back...Not an obligation one could brush off with a quick divorce and a wish of good luck should things not go well...

Yet...She had thought it through...Back at the Greenwood crypt...Reaching the conclusion that she had seen a human soul still alive and struggling in William the Bloody and would therefore offer Walthrop his chance...

Knowing it would be the hardest thing Buffy Summers had ever attempted...And that it might well last to Judgement Day...To eternity, perhaps...

And the price to pay would be potentially enormous...Dealing with a century of crime and the victims of those crimes...Knowing that she had given the Dark Forces a possible doorway into her heart...And that it might well end with her unable to do more for Will than release him should Spike win out...

Still...

It had been her free choice...Made as much during her time as a free soul after death as during her robotic lifetime...

After all, it was a love match...Not some kind of pity thing, whatever pity she might feel for Will’s situation...Spike hadn’t hung around Sunnydale for no reason...And she hadn’t avoided staking him because she was too busy...Her soul and Will’s had sought each other out, somehow...

And a better relationship than poor Buffy waiting forever for Angel’s redemption or Riley’s permanent return...

She could and would do what might be necessary if Will lost out...No blindness there...Though it would be an act of love, not a rejection...And only a separation...

Eternity was theirs after all...They had been given the great Gift of learning that was true...

And she did have her own career plans which she intended to pursue...Her life would not revolve solely around the good “Doctor” Walthrop...

Mom had devoted her life to those she loved...Even if her Dawn memories were not real...The two Buffies had devoted their lives to the friends they loved...As those friends had for their beloved Buffy(ies)...

Perhaps, in any real love, devotion to those loved goes with the territory...

And now Will wanted to prove his devotion...Again...

So it did work both ways...

The reason for his existence...

***

Glory was rather glad to be home...Quite a lot of new experiences to be absorbed...

And Beny to be fed...Though a monk had carefully watched over him in her absence...

She was struck by a curious thought though...Which she related to BR...

No one...In the places outside...Had been angry at her...

She hadn’t bothered them?...When she was...Sick?...

No, BR assured her...None of the people they’d encountered had been hurt by her...

So...If...She ever left the...Hospital...She could live there?...Near brother Benny?...

With Drweg?...

Not that the monks and Knights weren’t very nice...But she loved the outdoors and liked seeing the children...

If she could live just by...Not bothering anybody...Near her brother and friends?...

Well...BR looked at the retired goddess...

Rather a small request for the would-be world destroyer of a few months ago...

She thought that would be possible...But...

Didn’t Glory want to see more of the world?...Learn more about the things and people in it?...Perhaps go to school at some great city?...

Ummn...That might be nice...Glory agreed shyly...But when she was done with that, couldn’t she come home...And stay with Beny and Drweg?...And all her friends?...

They...The people who decided things?...They wouldn’t punish her by making her go away?...

She looked at Buffy Rebecca...

“I don’t rwemember vwery much...But I was alone so long...I wremember that...”

So very long...She shook her head...Tears rolling down one cheek...

“I don’t ever want to be alone again...Away from all my fwriends...Benedictus...Dwreg...”

She raised her head and wiped the tears...Looking at BR calmly...Pleading but clearly anxious to make her case without too much weepiness...

As befitting an old veteran...

“Wr-Rebecca...I know I hurt people...I want to try to do better but....Please, please don’t make me be alone again...”

“No, sweetie...” BR told her... “You’ll be able to stay around here...If that’s really what you want by then...”

Old soldiers never die...They just retire to the countryside...she thought...
***
Centurion Kruger was rather put out to learn that his hopes for an easy solution to the situation had been dashed so abruptly...

Still, it had only been a chance...A stroke of fortune which through lost had had to be tried...

His small strike force had at least gone undetected...

And his men were now almost all in position for the original planned assault...

Clearly God demanded proof that the Templars were worthy of the task to be entrusted to them...
The resurrection of the Christian Roman Empire...

Proof in blood...
***
Of Mice and Minions...Part XII

To succeed in any attack on the formidable defenses of the ancient Benedictus monastery would require either a vast force...Or inside assistance...

After all the fortress monastery had held out against countless sieges during its 1600-year existence...

And as the Templars’ force were limited...

However Centurion Kruger had long considered the task and taken the necessary preliminary steps...The monks employed outside help from the surrounding villages, not to mention having the occasional delivery of supplies and materials...

All that had only been increased during the recent reconstruction of the sections of the main and surrounding buildings destroyed in Glory’s escape last fall...

So that he had several Templars in position with daily access as workers...Who had intimate knowledge of the building...

Though naturally the Knights allowed no outsiders to penetrate near the areas where Glory lived, making assassination by Kruger’s agents more or less impossible, his men had carefully determined the best ways to cutoff those areas from the rest and gain access...
***

Glory seemed anxious to talk over the day’s events as she and BR sat in the living room of her quarters...

After all she hadn’t had a female friend to talk to in over 1600 years...

And felt the gap even if she did not remember it...

Did those...Men?...In the village...Glory hesitated...Looking at Buffy Rebecca...

Did they?...Like me?...

BR grinned at her...

“Oh, yeah, girl...They liked you...”

Hmmn...She thought so...
It...It was nice, right?...To have someone nice...Like Willy?...

“Well...Nice doesn’t come close...” Buffy Rebecca told her... “But it has its problems...”

You have to share things and get used to each other, right?...Glory noted...

Hmmn-hmmn...BR agreed...And fight off black horrors from your beloved’s past, hope he won’t be reimprisoned by Evil, pray something out to get you won’t kill him...she thought...

Hmmn...So she wreally was pwretty?...Glory asked...

Oh...I would say so...BR noted...

Was she too stupid?...Glory looked down at her feet...

Too stupid?...No, of course not...Why would you say that?...

Too mean?...She was even more downcast...

“Honey?...” BR looked at the retired goddess... “You’ve been very sweet since we’ve gotten to know each other...What is bothering you?...”

Did one of those idiot boys say something?...

“Dwreg...Dwreg ...Doesn’t want to be with me...” She was in tears in a instant...

[Suggested theme...Can I Stay Here With Dreg? (Dunbar's Theme from Dances with Wolves)]

Dwreg?...er Dreg?...BR thought...

Who had gone out to arrange Glory’s dinner...

“Glory, Dreg adores you...He worships you...And I mean that literally...”

I know...But he doesn’t want to be my felwer...Glory sobbed...

“I don’t think he wants to mawrry me...”

My God, she was serious about that marriage proposal...BR looked at her...

***

“Sweetie...” BR comforted the stricken goddess... “If he doesn’t seem to want to be with you...That way...It’s because he wants you to have a chance to meet other people...See if you might want to leave here eventually...”

He doesn’t think he’s worthy of you, honey...And to be big like that...Is the real thing...
You don’t get love like that often...

But...No one is better than Dwreg...Glory noted...

I don’t wremember a lot about...past times...But I wremember some of the people...

Nobody was ever as good to me as Dreg...Except Beny...And the nice people here...

“I know I loved him...Before...Even when...” she looked sheepishly...

“I wasn’t nice...”

Well, BR reflected...That is true...Like Willow said, she always liked the little guy...

Like you said, Wrebecca...The little guys wrule...Glory noted firmly...

Well...Of course you know some of the big guys are very nice, too...BR pointed out...

He was saying...Before you came back in...I should go away...To school somewhere...Meet new people...Glory looked at her...

Without him...

“He’ll always be here for you Glory...Whatever happens...Like I said he just wants you to see more of the world...”

And, she grinned at her, nothing flatters a guy more than his girl coming back after some time away and telling him he’s still the one for her...

You should have seen William when I came back from the dead and wanted to get married right away...

You really think so?...I know I won’t change...Glory noted...

“A good thing about me I do wremember is I don’t change about the ones I love...”

Hmmn...True...You just used to plan their utter annihilation if they let you down...BR thought...

She looked at Glory’s tear-streaked face...

You know, she thought...I bet you won’t change...And that one way or another Dreg is going to find himself a very married Minion one of these days...

“Well...” she patted the retired goddess, offering a tissue... “Give it...And old Dreg...Some time...”
If it’s the real thing, it’ll work out...Don’t worry about it...

Glory nodded...And blew her nose...
The sound of Dreg’s wooden sandals on the cobblestoned hallway came to them...

Glory looked for a towel to wipe up...

Hmmn...

“Glory?...Hold off on washing up just yet...” BR told her...

The goddess cocked her head at her...But?...

Dreg entered to announce that dinner would be served in...And saw Glory’s face...Still streaked with tears...

He looked at BR who put up her hands in mock protest...Not me, kiddo...

“Gracious divinity?!...What has ailed you?!...What can I do?”

He took the goddess’ hands, looking in her face...

Ummn...Nothing, Dwreg...Glory told him, smiling through the tears...

“I’m glad you’re back...” she hugged the astonished minion...

And cast a quick glance of thanks over to her friend...Who felt it was time she withdrew...

Buffy Rebecca Summers-Walthrop...Child Psychologist, Slayer,....well, yeah, housewife...

Goddess Marriage Counselor...

***

BR found Spike a bit disconcerted when she returned from Glory’s quarters...

Ben had had some interesting news for him...

Giles’ application to the Council for Walthrop’s formal instatement as Buffy Rebecca’s Watcher had been reviewed and the Council wished Spike to stop in England on their way home...

For a meeting with the full Council...

“Sounds like the formal interview...” BR noted...And grinned at Spike...

You two up for this?...she asked...

I can just imagine how Spike must relish the thought of having the entire Council at his feet, ready to serve as a full banquet...She told him, wryly...

Will had his own reasons for trepidation...Assuming Spike would accept the necessity of good behavior if only to please the Missus...

It was unlikely the Council would look favorably on his little Hell voyage...Watchers were supposed to Watch and provide the vital information the Slayer needed, not indulge in puerile heroics...Heroics that might be construed as potentially putting their new super-Slayer in jeopardy...

Moreover...He would have to face the music...The Council had already demanded two detailed reports on his past activities which he had provided...Produced at no little cost to Buffy Rebecca as well as himself in remorsemares and sorrow as he raked up old memories best left buried...

They were sure to be through in their grilling...

But, worst of all, Giles had warned him beforehand...He would have to make a speech, of sorts, to the assembled Council...

BR grinned at this last...And obviously to him, worst...A speech?...He was afraid of making a speech?...

Walthrop/Spike afraid of speaking in public?...Mr. Satiric Comment himself?...

Yeah...Well...That sort of thing was all well and good in one-on-one with her or Buffy or better yet, Xander...And his favored mode of communication with humans in the past...

However it wouldn’t cut it with the Council...And he wanted the job...

No great desire on his part to have some snoot from England installed to Watch his wife every waking minute, thank you...

“But...Will, you must have spoken in public before?...Reading your poetry, that sort of thing?...” she tried a leetle encouragement...

After all, Watcher status was an important hurdle for his redemption...A major plus for his ticket into Heaven in case the pearly gatekeepers made any trouble about the past century...Besides...

No great desire on her part to have a new Watcher sticking his/her nose into her private life, thank you...

Ummn...Well, here’s the thing, dear...
“Never?...You never read your poetry before an audience?...” she looked at him...

Well, one time...One disastrous time...Although it did earn me the William the Bloody moniker...he noted brightly...

“We’ll practice...You’ll be fine, honey...”

After all, what’s to a little speech?...What had Giles said he’d have to say beyond a few pleasantries about the honor of joining the ancient and noble C of W?...

Oh...Nothing special of course...Just a brief overview and exculpation of his past, providing detailed proof of his redemption, plus a summary of his reasons and fitness for joining the Council...

He looked at her...

Oh...She looked at him...That’s all, huh?...Ummn...

My God...she thought...Struggling for something positive...

“We’ll practice...A lot...”

As for the interrogation, well...Just keep smiling and remember it was Spike...And all in the past...

She’d try to be there...Beaming, loving wife with utter confidence in the hubs redemption...And desperately desired super-Slayer reminding the Council she might be miffed if her desires were not respected in this matter...

Extremely miffed...

As for the Hell trip...Which she by no means was agreeing to...Hell, they’d probably view it cheerfully as a chance to lose him...And if he made it back, a victory for the Watchers’ Council...

For all their condemnation of individual heroics, they loved to view themselves as champions over Evil...To have one of their own tangle with the Devil or whatever was down there and survive...They’d grumble, perhaps, but they love it...Erect a statue to him, or at least a neat plaque...

And of course...

“Our Mums would be so proud...How many vamps redeem their souls and get a crack at becoming a Watcher?...” she noted, grinning at him...

Yeah, William the Bloody can handle this...Hell if he can overcome his demon to win the heart of a Buffy, this will be a piece of cake...I hope, she thought...

Junior ‘cybergenius’ and Watcher candidate...Hero redeemed for the forces of Light...Not to mention a fine...No, a brilliant...well...Constantly improving poet...

Ladies and gentlemen of the Royal Council of Librarians and Library Scientists, the distinguished...William Soames Walthrop...

Her lil’ blonde feller...

He can handle this...Absolutely...

Hmmn...Gotta make sure he wears the tweed suit...He looks so Giles in it...The perfect Watcher...

He’d give it his all, he promised her...She hugged him...

Nah, not a bad reason for existence at all, she thought...So long as it was one among several, of course...

And went both ways...
***

A slight mental tug caused Buffy Rebecca to frown a bit...

Well...Athens tomorrow she thought...

A bit of comfort considering that little reminding tug meant she had to spend this night in the damned skin and tissue regenerating biotank...Shipped along from England and kindly reassembled by the monks...

Sadly no hideaway room large enough for the thing...It was in the wide hallway leading to Glory’s quarters...With Knights...quietly, thank goodness...Marching past every twenty minutes...

Not much point in slipping Will in...She’d be too embarrassed to enjoy it...Sex practically in front of celibate monks and devout Knights?...In something bearing a striking resemblance to a coffin?...Even cuddling would be difficult to keep quiet...

Warren might have soundproofed the blasted thing...

Walthrop however had risen to the occasion...His worries Council-wise could go on hold for another day...

And BR’s new case study, Glory, was happily off to bed after an exciting day...As was a rather dazed Chief Minion...

They might not be able to spend all of tonight together, but with BR back to normal and Spike on better behavior he had no intention of passing on a little romance...

Ben had been happy to supply...From long experience...Having mainly done his courting here or nearby for most of his earthly existence...The best secluded make-out spots on the monastery grounds and garden areas outside...Under the beautiful Greek night sky...

After all, married several dozen times...Courted...God only knows how many times...

Which allowed for an interesting evening stroll with a number of pauses...Lasting well past midnight...

So that BR retired to the biogel glop and Walthrop to his bed with considerable contentment...
***

An explosion woke her at three in the morning...Some debris whanging the tank as she slept...

Fortunately the Knights were not on hand to see her emerge from the tank...

Not that her hopping out in teddy bear pjs onto the icy monastery floor was exactly Drusilla-emerging-from-the-coffin-like...

Yeow!...She hopped back up onto the tank as quickly as she’d hopped out...Slippers?...She looked groggily about...

Dang, no slippers...

She heard shouts down the corridor...

“Hey?!...” She hollered vaguely in the direction of the sounds...

Damn...Well, she was the Slayer after all...And duty clearly was calling...

She gritted her teeth and hopped back down to the floor...

Hadn’t these people ever heard of central heating?...

Warren and his drive for realism...Why the hell did I need temperature sensors in my feet?...

And why the heck didn’t ‘Throp leave me a pair of slippers?...

She headed down the corridor towards Glory’s quarters and the faint shouts of Knights...Now coming toward her...And rapidly increasing in volume...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part XIII

Two more explosions rocked the monastery...The corridor to Ben’s hospital area collapsed, blocking him and Walthrop and most of the monks off from Glory’s quarters...

BR picked herself up from the floor and continued on...Members of the Guard were scattered around...All likewise shaken...A few seriously hurt...

Several came running from back up the hallway...The corridor back to the hospital was jammed with rubble...No way to get through...

She checked on the wounded with a few of the Knights able to stand...

Several other Knights, including the commandant of Glory’s guards now entered from the unblocked corridors leading deeper inside...

And reported that an attack was in progress...And the direct way to Glory’s quarters was now also blocked...Only a few guards could still be in place there if alive...

“What’s up?...Who’s behind this?...” Buffy Rebecca turned to the commandant of the Guard...A tall young woman...

“A fringe element of the Knights...Rogue fanatics who refuse to obey the Emperor’s commands...” the Knight informed her...

Fueled by a group of fanatic clerics who refuse to tolerate any vestige of Rome’s ancient past religions to survive...

When you think about it...Not all that different from the manic monks who made Dawn...The ones who used to run things here before Glory killed most of them...BR thought to herself...

Was there any way left to reach Glory’s quarters?...she asked the Commandant...

Not from underground...But there was an outside entrance near her quarters...To allow Glory access to the surface for exercise...If the exit in this corridor was still usable...It might be possible to reach the area that way...

BR nodded and asked permission to try the exit...The Commandant agreed and ordered the six Knights still in fighting condition to join them...

They were all pledged to protect their distinguished resident, as well as prevent her escape, with their lives, the Knight Commandant noted...

***

[Suggested theme...The Foul Beast is Here (O Fortuna)]

“Clerics...The foul Beast resides here...Now is the time...” the centurion called...

“Reach out with the power of our God and smite the Beast...” the clerics prayed, blessing the men as they came forward to the surface hole now blasted into the corridor below...And descended...

The few guards still blocking the way fell back toward Glory’s quarters...Fighting desperately...
***

Fearing the worst, Dreg had run up from his quarters near Glory’s room to learn the source of the mysterious explosions...Well up the main corridor leading away from the hospital area, he found the remaining guards fighting a clearly overwhelming force...

A shouting Knight warned him that the corridor to the hospital area...And any hope of reinforcement...Was blocked...He should return to the Goddess...And try to get her out...Quickly...

Dreg seized up the situation with the skill befitting the former Commander of the legions of Glorificus...

A strategic withdrawal was clearly called for...Fortunately, an intrepid Chief Minion always thinks ahead...

He raced back to Glory’s quarters...Thankfully no rebels had as yet slipped through...

“My divine gloriousness?...Would you care to take a walk with me?...Outside?...” he asked Glory gently...

Hmmn...She nodded eagerly...

She’d been a bit disturbed by the booms...And now the shouts in the corridors...Very noisy people...A little scary...A walk outside sounded very nice...

Was somebody mad?...she asked Dreg as he helped her with her coat...A hair nervously...Very noisy in the big house...

“The Knights are training to protect you, my divine one...” he told her solemnly...

Nothing at all to be frightened about...They were, of course, sorry to have to make so much noise...Which was why they felt she might like to go out...Until they finished...

She nodded, reassured...The Knight people were so nice to take care of her...she noted...

And she picked up at the thought of a walk outside...With Dwreg...er Dreg...

“Can I take my camwera?...” she asked hopefully...

Of course my lady...Dreg assured her...And brought her little camera over to her...

Naturally Beny would accompany them in his cage, he assured her...Knowing she would worry at the thought of him alone...

She stood by the door, expectantly...



He shook his head...If she didn’t mind...They’d take his “special” route outside...

One which Abbot Bertrand had graciously consented to allow during the reconstruction to ease Dreg’s fears of just such an eventuality...

***
BR and the guards with her reached the surface shortly after Dreg and Glory had emerged...

She spotted Dreg leading the goddess towards what little tree cover existed over the area...

The Commandant reached the Abbot by cell phone in the hospital area where he, Ben, Spike, and several dozen Knights and monks were frantically trying to tear through the rubble to Glory’s quarters...

The rebels’ forces were also attacking the main monastery at the gate and walls...Obviously as a diversion...But these units were between their area and the walls, blocking the Knights from sending reinforcements to them by the surface...

But they’d get help in as quickly as possible, the Abbot promised...

***

Centurion Kruger surveyed the quarters of the Beast grimly...No signs of the vicious so-called “goddess” anywhere...

He looked at the two wounded Knights being watched by his men...

No hope likely there, even if they knew anything...The Knights were pledged to die before revealing any vital information...And had done so countless times in the past...

His men confirmed that the passage to the hospital section of the monastery was indeed blocked...

Clearly there must be another means of exiting these rooms...He searched the walls, covered with posters...Mostly artistic, some of classic old films...

A bit surprising, perhaps...A Beast of Hell...With a taste for old films...Mostly musicals, Kruger noticed...With one exception...

A large old poster for the film “Of Mice and Men” starring Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr...

Odd...Even under these circumstances...

He stared at it...And realized the center of the poster was very faintly stirring...As if air were blowing on it...

He thrust his sword through the sheet to empty air...An escape tunnel to the surface...

Remarkable...

The Beast retains her old wiles...

He and his men tore the poster off and began filing into the narrow tunnel...

***
BR and the Knights with her had reached the small grove of trees where Dreg was calmly encouraging Glory to try some night photography...

However, as an old veteran, Glory had instinctively sensed that something serious was afoot...
And was scanning the field...
...Attack of the Templars...Glory's Battle Theme...Play(The Planets-Mars...

So that she was first to notice the troup of Templars pouring out of the tunnel she and Dreg had taken to the surface...
***
The six Knights, their Commandant, and Buffy Rebecca took up a defensive position in front of the tree grove where the Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, retired, was sheltering with her devoted Chief Minion...

Facing nearly forty well-armed Templars...

Centurion Kruger waved his men to halt and form a line...He recognized the Slayer among the small clot of Knights...

Dreg spoke quietly to Glory and emerged from the thin tree cover to join the Knights...

“Slayer?!...” Kruger called to Buffy Rebecca...

“Who are you?!...” BR shouted to the tall, grim-faced, armor-clad man who seemed the Leader...

“I am Kruger, Centurion Commander of the Order of the Most Holy Christian Templars...” Kruger cried to her... “Tell me, Slayer...Why do you seek to protect the Beast?...”

“If you are the Slayer, you must be aware that the Beast is a thing of Evil...It must be destroyed!...” the centurion shouted...

“Destroyed!!...” his men echoed...

Dreg looked desperately at Buffy Rebecca...

She sighed...

If anyone had told me a few months ago...

***
“Guys...This is pointless...” she called to them...

“Glory is powerless...She doesn’t even remember what she was...”

“It’s just cruelty to hurt her now...” BR insisted...

“The Beast must die...” the centurion informed her...

“Why?...” she called back...

Kruger blinked at that...No one had asked such a direct question on the matter as yet...

“God wills it...” he shouted back, encouraging his men to join in...

Ok...She called back...You show me an order in God’s handwriting and I’ll consider giving up Glory to you...

The Knight Commandant standing beside BR grinned at her...She’d heard the Slayer was quite the lioness in battle...

Kruger shook his head...A pity...Such misguided bravery...

Well...BR thought, counting...About forty or so against seven Knights, one minion, and one robotic Slayer...Who still finds it difficult if not impossible to kill humans...But can do quite a number on them short of that...

No problem...So long as they don’t get a clear shot at Glory...Or...

Two more Templars appeared...Carrying a portable rocket launcher and what appeared to be a small mortar...

Or that...

Whoa...

***

“As you see we are prepared to deal with you, Slayer...Do not force us to kill a misguided champion of the Light...” Kruger called to her... “Leave the Beast to us...We will be merciful and quick...”

Dreg moved out of the line and raced for the grove of trees...

“Dreg?!...” BR called to him...You moronic minion...

Kruger bowed his head in thanks to God for providing a solution to his dilemma...And ordered his mortar crew to fire into the section of tree grove where Dreg had gone and where he now knew the Beast lay...

***

Well...BR thought...No good defense like a good offense...And charged for the mortar, with the Knights in close support...

Kruger’s men grouped to protect the mortar crew...While the Templar with the rocket launcher sought a clear shot at either the targeted grove area...Or the Slayer...

***

BR and the Knights quickly closed with the Templars and in hand-to-hand combat began throwing them back...

She broke through to the men handling the mortar and made quick work of it, smashing it on the ground before Kruger’s astonished eyes...

But he signaled to the rocket carrier and ordered his men to fall back...Towards the tunnel, to leave the Slayer exposed to a clear shot from pistol, rifle, or...

Unfortunate, but he had to be sure the Beast had perished...And the Slayer was clearly not inclined to let him do so...

BR now discovered the Templars’ skill in retreat...Stumbling over small bales of barbed wire they’d dropped as they fell back...She was exposed and in the clear...The rocketman raised and sighted his weapon...
***

A strong light shone from the remains of the blasted section of the tree grove...A photographic night light...Which was flashed into his eyes as the rocketman prepared to fire...He covered his blinded eyes with both hands and staggered...

BR was on him in a second...

The Templars raced for the tunnel where reinforcements awaited them...

A somewhat battered Dreg stumbled out from among the shattered trees...

Grinning rather happily...And carrying Glory’s night photography lamp...

“Where’s Glory?...” BR and the Commandant called to him...

He’d taken the precaution of urging her divinity to continue back through the grove to the hilly ground beyond...

Which she’d agreed to, instinctively recognizing its suitability for defense...

Racing back with Beny’s cage firmly in her grip...

While he’d directed the Templars’ fire into a now empty tree grove...Well, empty except for him, BR noted...Smiling at the smoke-blackened face of the little minion...

No one is better than Dwreg, Glory had said...
***

The reinforced Templars had regrouped...They were now nearly seventy minus ten too injured to continue...

Kruger sighed...Sterner measures clearly had to be applied...

For the Glory of God and Love of Christ...

He ordered his men to rake the field with their machine guns...And had two bazooka guns set up in the center of his group...

BR, Dreg, and the Knights fell back in their turn...Losing two severely wounded in the process...

They fell back across the field, then the remaining tree grove, towards the hilly country where Glory had run...

***

Kruger’s men were advancing methodically across the field toward the hills...It would be dawn in an hour or so and what little protection night had given the Beast would shortly be gone...Although of course dawn would shortly be followed by reinforcing Knights...

***
And indeed, a few Knights driving around the Templars attacking the monastery had reached the field, directed by the Knight Commandant’s cell phone calls to the edge of the hills where Glory had run...

And halted...

“Hello...Knights?...” she nervously greeted the jeep bearing four Knights, one of whom she gratefully recognized as they drove up to her...Where she stood above them on a rocky outcrop of the low hills...

They urged her to accompany them to safety...

But Glorificus was not the former Roman Goddess of Glory and Victory for nothing...And sensed the great battle in progress...Involving her dear friends...Was beginning to turn against them...

She had another idea...And aware that the Knights’ first duty was to protect her...Kept to the rocks where they could not drive and raced back towards the fighting...With the jeep in anxious pursuit on the ground just below...And her mousecage firmly in her grasp...

Poor Beny she murmured to him as she ran from rock to rock...

Don’t be fwrightened...
***

Centurion Kruger now ordered his bazooka and rocketmen to fire towards the hill country...

With an eye to cutting off the retreat of the remaining Knights and Slayer...And the possible lucky
chance of hitting the hiding Beast...

But time...Particularly if his force was to have any chance of a successful pull-out after the victory...Was not on his side...

A report from his men guarding the vehicles which had brought the Templar force in indicated that the Knights were forcing his men away from the monastery walls...Some units of Knights were already on their way to the field...

Well...He and his men were prepared to make it a suicide mission if necessary...Still, if the sacrifice was to have any meaning he would have to achieve his goal within the next hour at most...

He ordered more intensive bombardment and a faster pace...

***
BR, Dreg, and the retreating Knights had reached the edge of the hilly country past the
blasted tree grove...With the Templars’ heavy fire churning up the rocky ground in front of them...

Complicated by a curious feature of the area...The grounds of a very ancient monastery...with extensive tunnels and catacombs running far across the grounds...Many long sealed and lost to time...Tunnels running well into the hills around the monastery grounds...

Some of which collapsed under the heavy bombardment...Leaving gaping crevasse and deep pits...

It was impossible to fall back further in the dark...And Kruger’s advance men were nearing them...

BR and the Commandant consulted and they took up a defensive position among the rubble ruins...Hopelessly outnumbered once the main force reached them...Even with the Greatest Slayer of All Time as one of their party...Still...They could hope to hold out for a short bit and if reinforcements reached them...
***

Diversionary flank attacks had always been one of Glory’s favorite strategies as a military leader...So it was only natural that she instinctively chose that maneuver for her return to active field operations...

As she...Followed by the Knights in their jeep...Reached the edge of the hill ground where BR, Dreg, and their remaining Knights waited for Kruger’s men...She moved deftly up a high pile of rubble to the left side of where the first Templars were now closing in...And began the diversion with a shout...

“Hello!!!...”

Well, perhaps not as effective as her old sonic shock wave cry...But in this case it had the desired effect...The Templars halting to look up at her...

As the jeep of Knights came bearing down from the hill road...Likewise to the left...

Thanks to Glory’s exposing herself their duty to protect her now followed their natural inclination to join in the fray...They charged the left side of the thin first line of Templars...

Who fell back in disorder...

Kruger, learning of the rout, tried to stabilize the situation by having his heavy weapons men halt and fire but more Knights from the monastery were now arriving on the right side as well...

Waterloo...The British are holding...And the Prussians have reached the field...

The Templars’ front line continued to waver...

But...Several of Kruger’s advanced group reported back that they had spotted the Beast...

A change in tactics was required...He ordered the bulk of his men to fall back to their vehicles...

The rest to split up and continue the hunt in the rubble of the hill country...
***
Seeing the Templars fall back, BR, Dreg, and their Knights began moving forward as best they could...

Dreg turning to the Commandant to beg permission...As the situation was improving...

She nodded and he went off in search of his gracious divinity...

BR pulled herself over the pile of rubble...Another ruined outfit...

God, this redemption thing is tough...It was so much easier when all I did was Slay ‘em...BR thought...

Some of the rebels were running from where she was clambering over the rubble...

No sign of Glory and Dreg as she managed to stand and look out across the fields in front of her...

A loud racket began...Almost overhead...Sounding like...

Suddenly a bright light from overhead shone down on her...
***
A helicopter?...Piloted by Abbot Bertrand?...

Spike and Ben waved frantically as they set down as close as possible...Walthrop leaped from the copter before it touched down despite Ben’s efforts to hold him back...

He ran to her...Thank God...

Yet again...

She looked at him...Despite the crazed situation she had her usual question ready...Which she had trained herself to ask instinctively in any such situation...

“Spike!...Daylight ring?!...”

After all one never could be sure when one might forget the exact time the sun would be rising...

Oops...He looked at his finger...Wedding band in place but otherwise...Bare...

She rolled her eyes...She knew it...One day, some leetle emergency or just some momentary lapse and out he’d go...

Much as she loved Willow, damn her...What had she been thinking to give that thing to him?...

Well...Thankfully dawn was an hour or so away...

But Walthrop would have to can the heroics for this one...

“Get him under cover...Now!...” she hollered at the approaching Ben and Bertrand...

“Buffy Rebecca, you can’t go after them alone...” Will protested...

He wasn’t going anywhere while she was out here...

“Will, I’m stronger and faster and if you don’t go with Ben...Now...He’ll be carrying your unconscious body back...”

Like last time, she reminded him...

Besides, she noted...She was hardly “alone”...More Knights were arriving by the minute...

Find the ring and he was welcome to come along...Besides it would hardly help for her to be fretting over the approaching dawn every second while trying to fight...

Consider it Watcher training...she noted...

He grimaced but nodded his head and followed Ben to a nearby storage shack...While Bertrand called back for a search of the Walthrops’ bedroom...

She continued with the Knights in pursuit of the retreating Templars for a bit, then returned to hunt for Glory and Dreg...

***
All was not lost by any means, Kruger reassured himself...As he carefully climbed into the rubble of the hill country...Two of his men hastily moving to lose themselves among the rocks before the first faint lights of dawn appeared...

He never expected his small force to defeat or even hold out long against the full force of the Knights once assembled...

Most of his remaining men were retreating in good order to their vehicles and should slip back across the Albanian border without incident...

And the true objective was still in his grasp...If only one of his men could find the Beast before the confusion of battle lifted...

A crevasse suddenly yawned before him...He fell in before he could jump back...

[Suggested theme...Kruger's Triumph (Adagio for Strings)]

He staggered to his feet...Fortunately the old tunnel which had collapsed here had been well-built and was in relatively good condition except for now being open to the skies...He followed it, looking for a way back up the walls of crumbly rubble on either side...He turned a corner...

In front of him...Having slipped down into the crevasse from the rubble pile above...The Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, retired...Staggering a bit on a twisted ankle...

Kruger eyed the frightened goddess...Clutching her mousecage where a frightened Beny was scurrying wildly...

The Beast...At last...And the glory of the kill to him...

Hello?...she said gently...Are you looking for me?...

***

“You must die, Beast...” he told her coldly...

She looked at him...The fear fading...

She understood now...Someone she must’ve hurt...Back...then...

“I’m sowry if I hurt you...” she told him...

Was I vewry mean to you?...

“We have never met, Beast...But I am sworn to purge the world of you...” he told her...

For the Glory of my God...

She nodded calmly...The...People who decided things...Must have decided to punish her for the bad times...

“Will this make things alwright?...” she asked the centurion...

Who stared at her...And nodded slowly...A little in spite of himself...

Oh...She looked at him suddenly...

“You won’t huwrt Dwreg?...My brother, Beny?...My fwriends?...”

He shook his head....He had no interest in any but the Beast, he told her...

“Don’t let my mouse see...” she begged him...

***
Of Mice and Minions...Part XIV...Conclusion...


A trembling Kruger sheathed his blood-stained sword...The Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, retired...The Beast...Dead at his feet...

And all he could see was the blood-soaked body of a lovely young woman...And the cage which he’d partly covered with his head mail...A small white mouse terrified and scurrying madly inside...

He stared at Glory...So gentle, so brave, so...innocent...

No...Not a woman...Not an innocent...A Beast...A Beast killed in the name of God...

A victory for Christ and all that was Holy...

But he could not stop the trembling which spread over him...

He staggered, still looking at her...Suddenly a howling, hideous cry from above...

Kruger looked up as Dreg plunged down on him...
***

Spike waited impatiently in the storage shack for news while Ben and the Abbot scoured the rubble for any sign of Glory or Dreg or Buffy Rebecca...But it couldn’t be helped...

Dawn was clearly breaking over the mountain beyond the silhouetted monastery...And without his daylight ring...

And after all, the battle won...The Missus fine...Just a matter of locating where ole Glory had got herself to, round up the religious fanatics, and begin the festivities...

With luck even the Athens trip would only be put off a day or so...

No need to risk ending wedded bliss in a brief bonfire...

Unless of course some disaster occurred to the Missus...Hmmn...He considered wrapping his coat around potentially exposed parts and taking a look-see...

Bertrand called to him, slowly rapping at the door...

They’d found Glory...He told him quietly...
***

“Dreg!!...” BR called from above into the chasm where she’d just seen the little minion jump...
Still too dark and too far to see what was going on...She carefully slipped down into the collapsed tunnel corridor...

To find a howling Dreg tearing with bare hands at a screaming Kruger...And...in a pathetic heap a little further down, by her mousecage...Glory...

***

Buffy Rebecca grabbed and hugged the shattered little minion...Pulling him back from the shaken, bleeding Templar...

He struggled in her grip for a while...As she felt his tears streaming down onto her face...

“It’s not worth it, Dreg...She wouldn’t want you to...” she whispered to him...Soothing...Pausing briefly to stare coldly at the centurion...

Who, now sitting on the ground, stared back at her...And Glory...In shaken bewilderment...

To her surprise, Dreg suddenly calmed in her grip...Looking at poor Glory...

He sighed deeply and apologized for his behavior...Might he see to the goddess’ injuries?...

BR pulled him back a bit from herself and looked at him...Dreg?...

“She’s dead, Dreg...” she told him gently...

Yes...He nodded slowly...Perhaps...But might he see to her?...

It was his duty...

She brought him over to Glory’s body and he began carefully examining her...Delicately moving and arranging her body from the heap it had fallen into...

The centurion had moved forward a bit...Stopping when she looked up at him...

Still looking at the little mousecage...Which she now turned to look at as well...

Tell me...BR looked back at the dazed Templar...And then away...At Glory...

“Is your God proud of this?...”

He said nothing...And kept staring at Beny’s cage...

She heard voices above and hollered to them...

Benedictus and several Knights...Who began starting immediately down the loose rubble to them...Halting at her cry to wait...

She looked over at Glory where Dreg was gently laying her out...

The rubble was too loose and dangerous...She called to Ben...Better stay back and drop some ropes...

From the other side of the corridor, sliding down on a rope, held at the top by three stout Knights...Abbot Bertrand...

Who saw all in a quick sweeping view of the corridor...

“Is Glory there?...” Ben called down...

Dreg looked at her...Shaking his head gently...The Chief Minion, sensitive as always to his beloved...deity’s...feelings...

She’d never want poor Ben to see this...And suffer...

Bertrand had gone over to Glory and putting a hand on Dreg’s shoulder, looked back at BR..

And turning back, began to pray quietly...And to administer the last rites...To the last convert
of pagan Rome...

Kruger looked at him transfixed as the Abbot continued...

No...BR called back to Ben...No sign yet...

Hold off on the other ropes a mo...We’re still checking this tunnel...

We’ll be ready in a few minutes...

***
The Abbot finished and BR suggested gently that he head up and get Benedictus away from the area...They’d see to poor Glory...

Please...Get Will for me...She asked...

I need my husband...Now...

In a lot of coats...she added quickly...

No need, the Abbot noted...Showing her the ring he’d been given, just before coming over to them...


As he passed near the dazed Kruger...Kruger looked at him...

God has willed it...the centurion muttered to him feebly...

Bertrand effortlessly smashed his left fist into the Templar’s face...Knocking him cold...And started up...

I guess God willed that too...BR thought, looking up at the little Abbot as he climbed back out of the pit without looking back at the fallen Templar...
***

At the surface Bertrand persuaded Ben to let those already below search further in the old tunnel while he and the Knights above continued their own searches...

Then he headed for the shack where Walthrop waited...

***
Spike, ring firmly back on finger, hastened over and down the rubble...While Bertrand moved
to join Ben and the others...And keep them away a bit longer...

He looked at where Dreg was still carefully tending to Glory...And then to his wife...

“Girl?...” Spike said gently to a still, trembling Buffy Rebecca...Hugging her... “My poor, poor girl...” he whispered as she embraced him...

***
Dreg quietly came over to them...And suggested they take Kruger to the surface...

He’d be along in a few minutes...As soon as Glory was settled properly...

BR nodded...But looked fixedly at William...Who noted to Dreg that his wife could easily remove the Templar...

He’d stay a bit and pay his respects to the goddess...

Dreg hesitated, then nodded...

BR picked up the unconscious Kruger and using one of the ropes left in place by Ben and his fellows, climbed out of the chasm...

***
She dropped the centurion by the edge and turned to descend...

Will stood by Dreg and the fallen Glory...Sorry, old fellow he thought to himself...Looking at the little minion...

Have to force you to defer the suicide thing for now...Much as I understand the reason, my poor girl couldn’t bear it...

Odd thing...He noted...

He’d of sworn...He didn’t sense a corpse...

My God...He spoke aloud...

Her chest had just moved...

Dreg looked at him...Sir?...

[Suggested theme...Can I Stay Here With Dreg? (Dunbar's Theme from Dances with Wolves)]

“She’s breathing, old fellow...Get Benedictus here!...Now!...”

Dreg blinked at him...And ran up the crumbling rubble wall of the corridor, barely using the rope...

What?...Buffy Rebecca looked at the little minion...Gasping for breath on his knees...

***
She ran Ben down and dragged him back, explaining as they went...

Dreg stood at the edge of the chasm, waiting for them...

“Dwreg?...” A call from below...

He looked...

Carefully carried by Walthrop, the Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory, retired, emerged from the crevasse...Clearly weak but really not much the worse for wear...Excepting her blood-stained dress...

BR and Ben raced over to her...

A faint smile appeared on Ben’s stricken face as he checked her over...The one advantage left to a former goddess...Now mostly but not quite human...

Two hearts...The rear one just far enough away and to the side to avoid Kruger’s sword...And its beat too muffled by the tissue of the first to be detected when weakened...

Though an immediate transfusion was clearly indicated...
Trembling a bit as Spike laid her down she was quite pleased to see them, especially Dwreg...er Dreg...Though he seemed very sad...

She touched his tear-stained face...Poor, poor Dwreg...And hugged him weakly...

“Glory make it better...Is my Dwregy hurt?”

“Not at all, my divine gloriousness...” he smiled at her...

But please allow me to fetch poor Beny...He asked her...

The goddess gave her willing consent...

***

“She’ll be a little weaker now...” Ben told the Walthrops and Abbot Bertrand back at the hospital...

Glory had been recovering nicely for the past couple of days...

The first heart, Ben explained, though repaired, would never be as strong as previously...

Still with her back-up heart in good shape, she should be able to lead a reasonably normal life...

And it was unlikely she’d ever be required to do superhero heroics...He grinned at BR...

How about?...I mean...Glory had been so anxious?...BR looked at Ben...

Kids?...Ben looked at her...

“No problem that I can see...”

Except getting Dreg to propose...He added, smiling...
***

“Wr-er-Rebecca...Willy...” Glory greeted them from her bed...Glasses perched on her nose as she read from a book...

Dreg by her side as always, took the book as she extended her hands to her friends...

Hmmn...Ovid’s poems...In Latin...Walthrop noted...

Pretty hot stuff...He noted, grinning at Dreg...

[Play...Glory and Dreg (Moonglow)]

So...She’s been reading them to you, eh...Walthrop whispered...As BR sat by Glory...
Dreg nodded, blushing ever so slightly...

“You realize this is a courtship, old fellow?...” Spike whispered to Dreg...

And even the most self-conscious of minions must bite the bullet, accepting fate eventually...he smiled at the minion...

Dreg nodded sheepishly...

Perhaps...Given that one could assume that a former goddess like Glory usually knew what
she wanted...It was time he took a more active role, Walthrop suggested...As the two ladies talked quietly at the bed...

And what with Glory having missed the past 1600 years of poetry...Trapped between dimensions and all...

He recommended Keats himself...

We’re lucky little fellows...Spike noted...Looking at the Goddess and Slayer...

Dreg nodded...

Indeed, sir...
***
“Will you be leaving soon, Wrebecca?...” Glory asked her...

In a couple of days...We have an appointment in England...BR noted...

And Willy?...Is he really going to?...

Guess so...BR looked at her hands...

Glory took her hand...

“He’ll be alright...Willy is too nice...They won’t want him in Hell...”

She hugged a teary Buffy Rebecca...

“Funny how we ended up...” Glory noted as BR collected herself...Nervously looking to see if Walthrop was watching her...

That’s for sure...Buffy Rebecca grinned...

“Well...Tell Buffy Anne...And Dawn...They don’t have to worry...I kinda like it here...In this world...” Glory grinned back...

BR looked at her...

Glory shrugged and smiled sheepishly...

She didn’t wremember everything...But she was beginning to wr-remember enough...

“Tell them I’m sowrry...Please...”

Buffy Rebecca nodded...But noted that Buffy...And she...Had already forgiven her...

After all, they’d gotten Dawny out of it...Not a bad bargain...

And to have an immortal friend of one's gender might not be a bad thing...for the future...

However...She couldn’t speak for those...She hesitated...

“The people I killed...” Glory looked down... “When I left here before...”

Well...It’s as I told you, BR told the retired goddess...Most people will give you a chance...Assume that you couldn’t help yourself...If...You have changed...And keep trying to make amends...

Like my Will...

“Abbot Bertrand will help you, Glory...You know that...” BR looked at her...

And Dwreg...Glory added...

Yeah...BR looked over at the minion and her vampire...

After all...There’s nobody better than Dreg...

Certified choice of the Divine Goddess of Glory and Victory...Who oughta
know her men...

Yep...The little guys rule...
***
A small town in Kent, England...

A full assembly of the Council of Watchers...

Giles and Buffy...Flown in from America just the previous day...Grinned at the Walthrops from their seats...

Who...Despite their respective superhuman natures...were exhausted from three days of desperately intensive preparations...

But so far so good...He’d managed straight-forward answers to all questions so far...

While Buffy Rebecca had made her wishes known...Clearly and firmly...

Backed up by her sister...

And it was clear that Quentin Travers at least was inclined to please his Greatest Slayers of all Time, both robotic and human...

And saw the advantages of having William Walthrop on the side of light.

Though, naturally, there were still some doubters among the group,
Walthrop's brief outline of his upcoming journey plans had helped...

If he succeeded, a feather in the cap for all Watchers...If he failed...Well...

Problem solved...

“But Mr. Walthrop...” A Ms. Pym addressed Spike... “Can you tell us what you think your experience means?...”

What does it have to tell us?...Can you summarize it for us?...

BR blinked...Summarize a century of horror, insanity, torment, and agony?...

Spike stood and smiled...Summarize his experience for them?...

What it all meant?...How his soul had somehow endured?...

Well...Yes...He could...

Buffy Rebecca...And in the audience, Giles...stared at him...

“Love...Only love...Makes us human...And existence bearable...” Walthrop/Spike told them quietly...

Together...
***
[Suggested theme...Love Makes Us Human... (Dunbar's Theme from Dances with Wolves)]

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