Norse By Norsewest by pfeifferpack
Summary: This was a challenge fic from the yahoo group We Band of the Bugggered these ten requirements had to be in the story: 1) tattoo of Hagalaz Rune 2) snow globes 3) A malfunctioning cherry picker 4) snickerdoodle cookies, baked and eaten 5) Borsch painting 6) A mystical key (Not Dawn!) 7) A broken martini glass 8) A peacock feather 9) A latin/English dictionary 10) Bunnies Put them all in a blender and out comes a Spuffy romp with scoobies and Viking Gods apleanty.
Categories: Fantasy/AU Characters: None
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 13578 Read: 5910 Published: 01/15/2007 Updated: 01/15/2007

1. Chapter 1 and 2 by pfeifferpack

2. Chapter 3 and 4 by pfeifferpack

3. Chapter 5 and 6 by pfeifferpack

4. Chapter 7 by pfeifferpack

5. Chapter 8 by pfeifferpack

Chapter 1 and 2 by pfeifferpack
Author's Notes:
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot (and chances are good it’s still being paid for)
~*~
Chapter 1
~*~


"Buffy, I really need you to come through for me tomorrow night. I know you have a lot on your plate right now, and I can't begin to know how you fit it all in, but I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important. Dawn is far too young to act as hostess, even if she did volunteer." Joyce Summers hated to dump yet another duty on her eldest, but the night was just too important to them all.

"I've already talked to Mr. Giles. He assured me that he would arrange coverage for your slaying duties. As for Glory; he feels it isn't wise to confront her now since it seems she is some kind of goddess. He wants to do more research before you charge off after her. Personally, I'm not at all comfortable with you having to deal with her at all. You're a vampire slayer, not a goddess fighter after all, not that I really understand any of it," Joyce said.

She worried about Buffy all of the time and this latest threat to her family had been the worst of all. Vampires and demons took a lot of getting used to, but hellgods? What was THAT anyway? Sometimes Joyce felt like a secondary character in some cheap horror movie.

Her eldest daughter was a college student by day and killer of monsters by night. Her baby girl didn't really exist a few months ago .... at least, not as a human being. Some mornings Joyce felt she would awaken to find the past few years were just some odd dream with an increasingly odd cast of characters.

That reminded her of another reassurance for Buffy if she chose to play hooky. "Willow and Tara are in the kitchen working on something to make patrolling easier for you. See, you can have a clear conscience about taking off one night and have a good time at the gallery. Be a normal college girl for a change and enjoy the event. Not to mention a new dress," Joyce finished under her breath.

There was a gala at the gallery. It was by invitation only, an opening of the "Allegory in Art" exhibit tomorrow night. Joyce had been working on it for most of the year so far. All the cards had gone out months ago to all the most important, moneyed citizens of Sunnydale. Great care had been taken in choosing the pieces: originals, as well as reproductions.

Caterers and bartenders had been hired and mood music selected. Joyce had even splurged on new dresses for herself as well as one for her lovely daughter. All was in place for a complete success.

The gallery had been doing all right, holding its own, in fact. Joyce could hardly wait to wave THAT bit of information under Hank Summers nose! "Let's see that bimbo of a secretary he's traveling with pull off an evening like this," she thought with a twinge of bitterness.

Joyce needed to make a real splash with this showing. She didn't want anyone to know JUST how important it was to her for it to be a success. Not just her fragile ego was on the line.

She was glad she had competent help these past months in selecting the works, cataloging and planning. There had been far too much work for her to pull this off alone.

She missed her helper she thought with a sigh. Good help was hard to find, but good FREE help was impossible to replace.

Everything had to go right with the showing. Money had always been tight since the divorce and now there were looming medical bills in the near future.

She hadn't broken the news to the girls yet, but her blinding headaches had worsened. Dr. Logan had told her to arrange a hospital visit for tests as soon as possible after the gala. The prospect of all the 'could be's' struck terror into Joyce.

If the showing went well, and sales were good, there might be just enough of a profit, for once, to relieve a bit of stress.

"I don't mind mom. I get to be ‘Buffy the gallery hostess in basic black with pearls’. Sounds all Glamour magaziney and non-slayerish for a change. I'll handle," Buffy said.

"I promise to even drop by this afternoon to help set up and
everything. See, supporto daughter front and center," she assured her mom.

Buffy could tell her mom had some major issues lately and guessed that the gala was one of the reasons for Joyce's many headaches of late.

Buffy sniffed the air and asked, "So, what's burning in the kitchen? Not like supermom to fix pancakes flambe' even on a busier than usual morning," she quipped.

"Oh, Dawn is working on that new cookie recipe for snickerdoodles. I don't think she's managed an edible batch yet, but I'm sure you can help yourself to the burnt offerings in the meantime," Joyce laughed. "I don't expect Dawn to be hosting her own show on the 'Food Channel' any day soon," she said and shook her head.

Buffy headed to the kitchen to check on her friends, and lend moral support to her little sister.

Okay, really to rub salt in the wound of her little sister's latest disaster in home economics. The only person with fewer domestic skills than Buffy was Dawn. Buffy totally loved pointing it out to her every chance she got.

She stopped short in the doorway at the sight of the mess that went with the acrid smell. It wasn't merely the burnt cookies, but somehow all of her moms plastic mixing bowls were in a gooey, icky, puddling mess on the center counter.

Willow and Dawn were standing there with cookie dough splattered all over them and stunned looks on their faces.

Tara sat at the end of the counter, book in hand, trying to comfort both the other girls.

"Sweetie, I think you need to be more specific somehow for the spell to work right," she said to Willow. She was consulting the dough-flecked pages of a Latin/English dictionary as she spoke to her lover. "According to the dictionary, globus DOES mean ball, but it can also mean a cluster or crowd or other things. ...Um... I think we need to come up with a different phrase than 'ball of sunshine’ for your magic device," she suggested.

Tara turned to the silently crying Dawn and offered the teen her best smile of sympathy.

"Dawnie, I'm sure Willow didn't mean to cause your cookies to combust just when they finally came out so well! Look, honey, some are still perfectly fine, and even yummy," she said and took a bite of one of the surviving cookies. "We probably should have worked on our spells and potions somewhere else while you were busy baking," she apologized.

"Sorry, Dawnie, I guess magics and cinnaminey goodness just aren't mixey that and I really should have taken Latin instead of French," Willow said while flicking some batter off the end of her nose.

Willow stared at the mess on the counter then brightened. The young Witch cast a quick glance at Tara and shared a new thought on what might have gone wrong. "Maybe the problem isn't with the spell, maybe it's with the potion! I think we shouldn't have used a substitute. Anya has some real peacock feathers at the Magic Box. That’s got to be millions times better than this dyed one! We'll try the potion part again after we have the real thing to use."

Willow was never one to simply give up after a few hundred failed
attempts. She put on her 'determined face' for all to see.

"Hey Buff," she said noticing her best friend in the doorway. "We're just mixin' up some spells and smells. Come on in and have a snickerdoodle surprise," she said in greeting.

"Well I know that Dawn needs all the help she can get with cooking, but bringin' in the magics is just cheating," Buffy said in jest.

"Mom," Dawn bellowed, "Buffy's in here making fun of me! Make her stop. The burnt cookies were TOTALLY not my fault. She's just being a, a, a, a, royal bitca anyway!" She threw both a glare and a burnt cookie at her older sister as she flounced out of the kitchen.

"I'm going to my room, and don't EVEN think about following me," she spat. Buffy rolled her eyes as she listened to Dawn stomp up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door upon arrival.

"There are days when I wish I could remember what it was like to be an only child," she said to herself. "It just had to be more peaceful."

Buffy turned back to her two friends and asked, "Watcha doin, makin with the magic surprises and navigating the dangerous waters of teenaged angst?"

She plopped a piece of bread into the toaster to fix her standard breakfast and poured a cup of coffee.

"We’re workin' on that plan for a 'ball of sunshine' spell. I thought I had it nailed this time for sure," Willow answered with a slight pout.

"Guess not," Buffy noted.

"Yup, back to the ole' drawing board for this Wicca." Willow got a mischievous look and punned, "Or is that there’s no rest for the Wicca?" She ducked her head as Tara and Buffy chuckled.

"I think we're going to head to the Magic Box for some supplies. I'm sure Anya's opened the store already, it is 8:01 after all," noted Tara.

They all giggled at the mental picture of a sale hungry Anya having to wait until 8:00 to open the store. Giles had put his foot down against her idea of being the first magic supply store to be open for business 24/7.

"Don't worry about patrol tomorrow, or Dawie either," Willow reassured her friend. "Xan and I have patrol covered, Giles is on research duty, and Tara's going to take the cookie monster to dinner and a movie. Got ya' covered Buff. You go be the hostess with the mostess and sell lots of arty stuff to rich Californians," she said.

Buffy’s mother chose that time to come into her kitchen. Her face registered shock at the mess left by the girls with their various projects. She could feel one of her headaches beginning behind her eyes at the sight.

"Hi Joyce, sorry about the mess we made. We'll clean it up and, um, g, g, get some replacement bowls for the ones we melted," Tara greeted Buffy's mom.

"I have another set, dear, don't worry about them. With my girls, it pays to have backup cookware," she said with a smile.

She sighed in relief as Willow and Tara proceeded to clean up not only their own mess, but Dawn’s too. She turned to her eldest and smiled. Her smile turned to a worried frown as she asked, "Is that all you're having for breakfast, Buffy?"

It was almost a morning ritual to have this conversation. "You really need a better breakfast than one piece of dry toast and a cup of coffee. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Didn't I teach you anything about nutrition?" Joyce felt a bit like a broken record, but Buffy just didn’t seem to listen.

She looked at her daughter's thinning form with concern. Buffy didn’t seem to think about her body having needs like good food or enough rest. All those highly touted ‘Slayer abilities’ made her little girl forget she was still, when all is said and done, merely human and as fragile as any other young girl. Joyce worried.

Willow and Tara left by the back door with a wave as mother and daughter engaged in a discussion about the merits of a healthy breakfast. They took the garbage bag with the destroyed bowls out with them.

Tara missed her own dead mother's similar nurturing, and Willow wished her mother was aware of her even existing.

They both felt a bit of jealousy where Buffy's mom was concerned. It was nice to be loved.

"I've got a couple of errands to run this morning. I'll come by the gallery around noon to help unpack and display those prints you were so excited to get in time for the gala," promised Buffy.

"Thank you sweetheart, I'm sorry if I’ve been a fussbudget lately," Joyce said. "I don’t mean to take things out on you girls."

Buffy looked closely at her mother and asked, "So, headaches gone?" She thought it was too bad things like headaches, finals and demon hunting stayed around while all her boyfriends left town. "Now they don't just leave for other cities, they go to whole other countries! What next?" She was only half joking as she asked herself, "Would a new boyfriend leave me so he could join NASA, leave the planet?"

"Some mornings are better than others," Joyce replied to Buffy's
earlier question.

Buffy was startled for a moment, trying to remember what her question had been. Wool gathering of the boyfriend challenged was too distracting in the middle of a conversation.

Her mom's answer was too close to being appropriate to Buffy's last thoughts and it confused her for a minute.

She really had to stop dwelling on her issues with men. Her mom hadn't been well and was still looking a bit off. That was more important.

No amount of brooding would bring either Angel or Riley back in her life.

Time to focus on now, focus on mom, focus on school, focus on slaying, focus...... Buffy Summers, Focusey girl comin' up.

~*~
Chapter 2
~*~

Joyce Summers and her two assistants, Lance, and Cindy bustled around unpacking the last of the crates for the show. Things were taking shape fairly well. The well thought out plans had made last minute organization a breeze.

"Well, I don't know why Mr. Williams quit helping now when we need him the most." Cindy was talking to Lance as Buffy entered with a tray of Latte's from the Espresso Pump for everyone.

"He's done so much work. It just isn't right for him to miss the end result," Cindy continued with a slight pout and a wistful look.

"Oh, you just miss drooling over him, girlfriend," Lance teased.

Cindy elbowed her co-worker and replied impishly, "Yeah, just like you do!" Lance blushed, but didn’t bother to deny it.

"Oh, hello Buffy, just in time for the great uncrate," Lance said with a bow and a flourish.

"Ooh, one of those yummies for me," he asked? "Give over girl."

"Yup, caffeine goodness all round. Private Buffy Summers reporting for duty as promised." Buffy smiled at her mom's two employees. She didn’t spend much time at her mom’s gallery, but had met the crew a time or two. They were nice college kids from U.C. Sunnydale and Cindy had been in one of Buffy’s freshman Lit. classes.

Buffy was sure these were her mom’s only employees and wondered who they had been talking about. "Who is this Mr. Williams? Mom can't afford another employee and I really don't think she's dated anyone since Ted. Well, that one time with Giles doesn’t really count!" Buffy nearly blushed at that memory. "Mom and I really need to talk more."

Having decided to engage more in her mom's life, Buffy knelt to help unpack the art prints.

"Woa, what the heck is this? It looks like a place I may have seen a time or two," Buffy quipped.

She regarded the rather bizarre picture filled with images that brought the hellmouth to mind. She wasn't sure about the largish fish at the bottom, but the rest looked hellmouthey enough.

"Oh," said Joyce, "Those are the Bosch prints. He did wonderful
allegory paintings. That's one of his many visions of hell. Look, here's one of the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man," she explained.

"Huh, preoccupied much?" Buffy muttered to herself about artists and their weird ideas of what to paint.

"He was one of the most brilliant of the Flemish painters and his works hang in the best museums all over the world. I think we'll sell lots of these. Bosch is very popular. His work is compelling, isn't it Buffy?" Joyce had always dreamed of Buffy one day sharing her interest in all things artistic.

"Yeah, lots of homesick demons in Sunnydale," Buffy thought. "Just like a Freddy Krueger movie," she said aloud. "What a silly name for an adult …Freddy", she thought to herself.

"I just don't get art," Buffy decided as she glanced at the stack of prints. "Think I'll stick to posters of cute guys and kittens."

"This one's weird too. Why would anyone have surgery in a field? Why would someone have a flower in their brain for that matter?" Buffy continued mumbling to herself. She stared at the picture and wondered why she thought of Spike suddenly.

"Oh, that's 'Extraction of the Stone of Madness', one of his paintings at the Prado in Madrid! Mr. Williams specially chose that one," said Cindy. "I think he even ordered a print for himself."

Buffy was still puzzled. "Ok, extraction I get, and hey, if I had a rock in my brain I'd be mad too, but what's up with the flower?"

Before anyone could answer, the door opened and the florist arrived with the arrangements to be placed throughout the gallery.

Lance headed over to help the deliveryman bring in the floral arrangements and Joyce began to direct them where to place them.
This gala was going to be first class all the way.

The next several hours required far too much work for any more impromptu art appreciation classes. All four worked like slaves to make everything look just right.

When they finished it was nearly 7 P.M. They were too tired for
questions of any kind requiring an intelligent answer.

Buffy turned to her mom as they finally finished the last of the hangings. "Fast food or pizza delivery?"

"Oh honey, and here I just gave you a lecture about good nutrition this morning! I'm sorry. Promise I'll make it up to you and Dawn with pot roast and all the fixins' right after this bloody gala is done," Joyce exclaimed.

"Bloody? Mom, when did you start talkin' with Spikeisms?" Buffy saw her mom raise an eyebrow and start to answer. "No, I sooo don't want to go there! I don't even want to think of that idiot, so forget I asked, okay? I mean, first the weird art that looks like a place where he'd feel right at home, nearly family portraits, I’ll bet! Then you let loose with the bloodies ..... geech! That disinvite should have gotten rid of that stalking loser once and for all. ‘Spik-Be-Gone magic of the good," she huffed.

"Dear, I do understand how unsuitable Spike would be as a slayer's boyfriend, but aren't you being a bit too hard on him otherwise? He did help a lot with this Glory person and he can be very interesting to talk to. He is well traveled, cultured and intelligent. He does love you, even if he has, um, unconventional ways of showing it," Joyce said.

Buffy merely looked at her mother as if she'd grown another head and wondered if those headaches she'd been having were a symptom of something really bad.

~~~
IN THE HALLS OF ASGARD



"It is not possible for it to have been stolen," roared Thor. "In the hands of a knowing one, Loki will be released back into Midgard and Ragnarok will begin well ahead of schedule. Hear how the Fenris Wolf bays in anticipation?"

"I had though it safe with Skadi. After all, she did sentence that trickster and murderer to be bound and poisoned. She, the guardian of justice, vengeance, and righteous anger would not be careless of such an important item."

"See how, even now, Heimdall touches his horn," Thor exclaimed in nervousness. He began to pace about in great agitation, his mighty hammer swinging.

Modi looked nervously at his father. He ducked from the swinging
powerful hammer, ‘Mjollnir’, in his father's iron gloved hand. "Perhaps my grandfather, the great Odin, might look to the runes. He did suffer upon Yggdrasil to learn their ways, and he is the very font of wisdom," suggested Modi.

Sif, seeking to calm her husband, touched Thor upon his arm
gently. "My husband, we shall send for Hlin. She, as the protectoress, will not wish this evil to be released before the appointed time. She will know who to find to retrieve The Key of Orlog. Do not fret, and … mind the hammer, I'd not lose a son to your misplaced wrath! You've near hit Magni as well as Modi this past hour. The thunders shake the land of giant and man alike. You must calm yourself. All will be well you shall see," she said softly.


~~~

Hlin listened to the problem with growing horror. When Sif had finished the saga she called for her sister goddess, Skadi who had custody of the mighty key. "And where was it hidden," she asked of Skadi.

Skadi was as alarmed as the rest of the old ones of Valhalla. "It rested within the ice-crusted chest forged by Wheiland, himself. 'Twas safe at my home in the snows, though I have been long away. It is not the key alone that has disappeared, ... the whole of the palace, including the mountain it crowns! I know not what magic could have done such a feat, nor where my home has been taken. I am sure we all know the why, however," she trembled as she spoke.

None of the old ones needed a reminder of how important it was to
retrieve that key! A palace or a mountain could be replaced with
little effort. The key binding Loki was irreplaceable.

~~~~

In a sacred grove somewhere in Scandinavia:

The shaman cast the stones as he sought the wisdom of the ages.
Suddenly before him stood Hlin in all glory.

"You have been chosen, mortal, to undertake a great quest of tremendous importance," she spoke.

In all his many years as a follower of Asatru, the Forn Sidr, he had never actually come face to face with any of the old gods that he worshipped. He was struck dumb in wonder.

The old shaman listened as his goddess spoke clearly while issuing her orders. He would need to act quickly, gather his followers. He was determined not to fail his adored one.

By nightfall a handful of valiant, brave and true followers had been pledged to their goddess' will, marked with appropriate runes, and given the magics needed to achieve their goal. They set out on the first leg of the journey to the mouth of hell.

Odin had located what they sought. They merely had to be his hands in the matter. All praise Odin!
Chapter 3 and 4 by pfeifferpack
~*~
Chapter 3
~*~

Buffy woke up in a generous mood. The gala was tonight, she had new clothes and the entire day to be ‘Buffy, the Summers daughter’ instead of the ‘Slayer’. She didn't get to play normal girl very often and she relished each occasion.

A celebration was in order and any decent celebration had to start with shopping!

In that spirit of generosity and celebration, Buffy decided to find the perfect gift for her mom.

There were a few new stores at the mall that Buffy really needed to check out anyway so she showered and dressed in record time.

Life could be good.


~~~~

Spike paced in his crypt. "Blast Dru and her incredible bad timing anyway! Had to show up and bollocks it all up with the Slayer." He had been up most of the day wondering just what Power he had pissed off so badly that Dru had swept into town when she did. "Not when I wanted her back bad enough to do anything to get her back! Oh, no, only after I realize I’m in love with the Slayer."

Okay, maybe chaining Buffy to tell her that he adored her hadn't been the most romantic method he could have chosen.

"Sod that, at least I didn't write any bleedin' bad poetry. I'm sure that bitch Cecily would've rather had me chain her up than write odes to her beauty," he decided.

He'd really buggered it up with Buffy this time. Disinvited! That had hurt more than all the hateful words she had spat at him.

From his first invitation into the Summers home, long before the chip, Spike had cherished the open invitation, that sign of trust. He had never abused that trust either, not once!

Okay, so he'd been in without their knowing and had lifted a few
Items ... "No harm really," he thought. "What's an old picture or two, or a bit of lace for that matter? No one hurt by that," he rationalized.

He really didn't mind those sorts of visits ending all things considered. What he did mind, aside from the loss of Buffy's trust, was the freedom to come visit Joyce. Buffy had no idea the number of hours he'd spent in that cozy kitchen talking about art, music, poetry, and Buffy over a cup of cocoa or tea.

"Right wonderful woman, Buffy's mum. Treats a fella like a man worth knowing." Indeed, Spike’s self esteem, long a target for deflating, had begun to blossom in the company of that good lady.

"Hate not being able to just drop by, especially today," he said to himself. All those hours spent helping to plan tonight’s opening and now he wouldn't even get to talk to her about those last minute details. He only hoped Cindy followed the notes he had left for the actual day.

He had listened to Buffy's mum fret over the event and had offered to help where he could. It had been ages since he'd used some of the knowledge he had acquired over the years to help Joyce put on a successful show.

He had no doubt that Joyce'd pull it off fine. "Sure woulda’ loved to of seen it though. Talk to the lady herself, shared a cuppa’ during the final countdown," he sighed.

He didn't dare go anywhere near Revello drive for a while. Buffy'd stake him for sure right now. Oh, she'd regret it, but he'd still be dust. He had avoided the gallery, too, since the night of ‘true confessions’.

There had to be some way to let the lovely matriarch of the Summers clan know he was with her in thought, at least. Maybe an anonymous gift that Joyce, smart lady that she was, would know was from him and that he was with her in spirit.

Time to hit the sewers and head to the mall to do bit of shopping.

~~~

The Sunnydale mall glistened like Shangri-La to Buffy. All those shops, all those shoes, all for her! "First the perfect gift for mom, then the perfect shoes for Buffy," she decided. A girl could never have too many shoes, after all!

Five stores later she was no closer to an idea of what to get for her mom that said 'I love you and am proud of you' in just the right way.

Buffy grabbed a soft pretzel and diet coke and sat for a while to try to think of what her mother would like.

As she threw away the empty soda cup she saw a new shop with what might be just the right choices. The Holy Grail was within her sights at last.

The San Francisco Music Box Co. (tm) loomed before her with every size, shape, and style of music box known to humankind, and since this was Sunnydale .... demonkind.

Mom would love one! It would be perfect. A gift of simple beauty with not one practical aspect to it; just what mom needed! Practical was way too depressing lately ... time for fluff!

There were carousels, wooden inlayed boxes, dancing figures and bunnies everywhere she looked. Each one played a tinkley, happy tune.

She picked up one ornate statue and twisted the key to hear the familiar melody of ‘Music Of The Night’ from ‘Phantom of The Opera’ and put it back on the shelf while it still played. Much as her mom loved that particular music score, the song spoke of being lured to the darkness and it caused a queasiness within Buffy that made her certain that she didn’t want that one, or the many others playing that same tune. "Pity that darkness comes in pretty packages!"

Finally, Buffy was drawn to the back wall that was covered, three shelves high, with musical snow globes. There were dozens to chose from, each with its own charm. "Eureka!"

~~~~

"Something lovely for the eye and ear, that's the ticket," Spike
decided. He headed directly to the one store with the perfect
selection.

He seemed to remember a lovely globe with the most charming Victorian scene that played a lovely waltz melody located at the back of the store. "Be just the thing a charmin' Victorian gentleman'd give a dear lady," he said happily.

He didn't see the familiar blond head at the other end of the aisle until they nearly collided. Buffy was holding a snow globe with a mountain scene. The snow packed, steep range was capped with a castle inside the glass-domed music box. Soft sounds of ‘Edelweiss’ filled the air.

"What are you doing, following me around in the daylight now, Spike. Can't you take a hint," Buffy asked. Her eyes bored into him and she shook with anger.

"Not the only one needs to shop on occasion, slayer," he replied. "The whole world doesn't revolve round you, ya' know."

"Course, mine does," he thought to himself sadly.

"If you think you can soften me up with some cheap do-dad that plays ‘Music Of The Night’, you're crazier than I thought! I told you your only chance with me was when I was unconscious and I'm wide-awake now, buddy," she growled.

"Yeah, like I'd spend my hard earned dosh on you," he replied. They were arguing, as usual, but at least she was speaking to him again. He felt his spirit soar with renewed hope.

"Spend! Steal would be more like it don't you think Spike," she accused.

"Shhh, quiet with the accusations slayer. I'll have you know I fully intend to pay for what I get here. Told you I could give up the whole evil thing if I wanted to. Be so good I'll have to start wearin' white. Look bleedin radioactive," he said in low tones.

"That'll be the day," Buffy scoffed.

Just then, a fellow shopper backed into Buffy causing her to loose her grip on her prize.

"Damn," exclaimed Buffy as she dove towards the falling globe. "Oh bloody hell," growled Spike as he also made a grab for the snow globe at the same time.

Neither saw the ice blue waves of energy that passed over, around and through them on its way into the globe.

They did notice a faint lightheaded sensation as their fingertips
touched where they both grasped the base of the snow globe.

The only music they heard was a slight buzzing sound followed by the greatest silence either had ever experienced.

~~~~


"Tell the shaman that the chest of Weiland has been recovered. We shall deliver it to the very edge of the Bifrost itself. May the gods guard its passing over the Rainbow Bridge to the halls of Asgard". Thus spoke the blond giant of a man in the odd costume to his equally blond, tattooed companion.

"What of the mountain and castle of Skadi," asked the larger of the small group that the two men had joined in the middle of the suburban mall.

"It remains as it was. We might be able to transport a small chest from this accursed town but even you, Sigfried, would be hard pressed to transport a mountain," was his reply. "We can always return for the enchanted globe later and purchase it like civilized men. For now, we have what is urgently needed," said the leader.

~~~


Buffy looked around her in fear and amazement. Gone was the store, the mall, Sunnydale itself. She was standing at the base of an incredibly high mountain looking at miles and miles of snow and ice! The only non white thing in clear view was the black clothing of Spike standing in sharp relief against the drifting snow.

"What the......," she whispered.

"Just what I was wonderin," Spike replied. "Got a feelin' we're not in sunny California anymore, luv."

After a couple of hours walking in what had to be one large circle, the pair realized there was a solid feeling, invisible, barrier preventing them from going too far in any direction except up.

Buffy was tired, scared, and beginning to feel nervous. Worse than that, she was beginning to think the only other person in this winter wonder-where-we-are-land was Spike. Somehow, the besotted vampire had found a way to trap her with him in Santa Claus land with not even an elf to help her. "He was sooooo
Dusted," she promised herself, "as soon as he helps me get out of here."

~*~
Chapter 4
~*~



"Where is that girl?" Joyce had started to worry an hour earlier when Buffy had failed to come home to begin to dress for the gala. Now it was getting into crunch time and still no Buffy.

"I could still help out, mom," said Dawn. She had visions of wearing the little black dress that Buffy had laid out on her bed.

With just the right amount of makeup and a grown up hairstyle she could easily pass for sixteen, seventeen even! No reason mom's party had to suffer because Buffy got side tracked again. Joyce Summers had two daughters after all.

Finally, Joyce left a terse note for Buffy to join the gala as soon as she could and headed to her gallery and the cream of Sunnydale society; more importantly ... their wallets.

Tara, with a crestfallen Dawn in tow, made a side trip to let Mr. Giles know about the missing slayer before continuing on to the promised dinner and movie.

As consolation prizes went, it wasn’t too bad. Dawn ate too much chocolate cake for dessert and the chick flick was to die for.

~~~

Joyce didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The event had gone even better than she had hoped. All the original art had sold by evening end. Reproductions had nearly flown out the door. She even had a short list of commissions that promised revenues yet to come. Joyce could have danced with joy.

The blight on this otherwise perfect evening was the mystery of her missing daughter. It was as if Buffy had vanished from the face of the earth!

Joyce had talked to Giles and each of Buffy's friends several times throughout the evening and no one had the first clue where she was. No one had heard a word from her all day. They all agreed that she had been excited about helping at the gallery and had no major plans aside from that.

By morning, Joyce was not the only person worried about her missing daughter. A full Scooby meeting had been called.

"H, ha, has anyone gone to see Spike to as if he's seen Buffy," Tara asked. "I mean, he's the only other friend of Buffy not here and he may know something," she said softly as she saw the disapproving looks that met her suggestion.

"Oh yeah, let's go ask the stalking, dead Romeo if he's seen his Juliet lately. I don't think so! Besides, he's not Buffy's friend," said Xander. He had more than a little sharpness in his tone.

"Actually, 'Romeo and Juliet' was more her story with Angel, don't you think? I'm not sure what classic play would fit Buffy and Spike," said a thoughtful looking Willow.

"Maybe 'Hunchback Of Notre Dame' or ‘Beauty and The Beast’," suggested Dawn.

"No play! There shall be no playing of any kind with the annoying undead and the Buffster! Bite your tongue Will, Dawn," Xander said in an outrage.

"I'm inclined to agree with Tara, actually," said Giles. "We may not like it, but Spike has been known to keep rather close tabs on Buffy here of late. Perhaps his obsession will have a benefit for a change. At the very least we'll have another resource in the search," he suggested.

"Joyce, perhaps you could approach Spike with this. He would be more likely to cooperate with you, I should think," Giles said. "Until we have some sort of clue, all we can do is to spread out and ask discreet questions. We don't wish every vampire and demon in Sunnydale to know the Slayer has gone missing," he reminded them. "Discretion must be your by-word."

"This is my daughter you are talking about, Rupert, and I'll gladly tell any and every human, vampire, and demon on this planet if I think they might help me find her," Joyce said stiffly.

"Yes, well, I doubt every vampire and demon would be interested in recovering the Slayer, so that should not be an issue," he said looking directly at the distraught mother.

Everyone shifted uncomfortably as the two adults glared at each other.

After planning a pattern, they split up to begin a search. Joyce and Dawn headed for Spike's crypt hoping to get answers before sunset.

~~~~

"Nothing, not one clue," said a defeated sounding Anya. "It's like she just stepped into another dimension or something. I did that to a couple of people back in my vengeance demon days, so it can happen that quickly. But usually there's a trace of some kind when you open a dimensional portal," she added.

"No! Buffy can't be in some other dimension and she can't have just disappeared! Maybe Glory has her," Dawn said in a panic.

"Yeah, maybe Glory ..... Forget that," said Xander. "Scratch the whole Glorificus thing. I did not say that," he said firmly.

Giles ignored the ashen boy and asked Joyce, "What did Spike have to say?"
"Well, Spike wasn't there. Dawn asked a couple of his demon friends if they knew where he was, but they said he hadn't been around for a couple of days," she said quietly. Joyce knew that Spike had withdrawn after his tragically misspoken avowal of love for her daughter. She was just glad that it didn’t look like Spike had left town for good.

"Spike has friends," Xander said in amazement. Dawn rolled her eyes at his expression of shock. "You don't think the bleached wonder maybe has Buffy chained up somewhere again," he asked aloud.

"Good Lord, I hope not," exclaimed Giles. He took off his glasses and polished them rapidly at the thought.

Joyce held her temper at the vitriol she was hearing from Buffy’s friends regarding Spike. "He would never have kept her away from my gala, besides, I'm sure Spike learned his lesson the last time. He was really apologetic once he realized his methods were not appreciated."

"Look, she's my daughter and I am not a total fool, but I do not think for a moment that Spike would knowingly hurt Buffy. He may be misguided and a bit rash, but he does truly care about her," Joyce said.

She was met with five sets of shocked eyes and a warm glow of appreciation from Dawn.

"I think he might have handled that a lot better if Drusilla hadn't been in town anyway," added Dawn.

"Dru, of course," cried Willow. "Dru must have come back. Oh goddess, Dru's got Buffy!" She leapt from her seat in alarm at the thought.

"Calm down sweetie," said Tara, "We have no reason to believe this Dru's anywhere near Sunnydale or Buffy."

"Am I the only one that's not comfortable knowing that Spike AND Buffy are missing at the same time," asked Xander indignantly.

"Yes, well, that is worth noting," agreed Giles.

~~~~

Spike was ready to stake himself. For the better part of the day all Buffy had done was whine and complain that is when she wasn't accusing him of creating this lovely vacation in hell with his beloved. He'd given her his coat, helped her in their climb, listened to her bleedin' complaints, offered comforting words and conversation and never once tried to rip out her tongue. What more could she want from him, he wondered. He’d endured less torture at the hands of Angelus!

Once more they began their ascent towards the building at the crest of the mountain. Spike shielded his eyes from the glare on the snow.

"Bloody hell," he gasped, "Why am I not on fire?"

"And to that, may I add my agreement," snarked Buffy.

"No, wait Slayer. It's plenty bright out here and yet no Spike Bar-be-que. Not complainin' mind, but that's pretty off inna it? Should be a pile of ash right now, wouldn't ya' think? And just where is the sun anyway ... sky looks a mite odd too," Spike said. "Course it’s been awhile since I’ve been cavortin in the snow in daylight."

Buffy rolled her eyes and said sarcastically, "And with all this snow, I should be an ice cube. What's your point, Spike?"

"You are a bloody ice cube, slayer," he muttered under his breath. "Just seems we can't really be on some mountain on earth in broad daylight's all, pet. Can’t be real at all," he said a bit louder.

"Hum, hate to admit it, but yak' got a point, Spiky," she replied. "So what do we do now?"

"Keep climbing I guess. After you Slayer," he answered.

Buffy delivered a cold stare at the vampire and retorted, "Why do I get the feeling you just enjoy watching my ass?"

"Cause I'm a pig, remember," he smirked. Buffy had to laugh at that in spite of her best efforts not to enjoy their verbal jousts.


"Hey, how would you know what a normal daylight sky looks like anyway," she asked. Any conversation was better than the silence surrounding them. He was right ... it was eerie. Not even a bird to be seen or heard. The stillness was vaguely menacing.
Chapter 5 and 6 by pfeifferpack
~*~
Chapter 5
~*~



BACK IN ASGARD

"Well, I do want my summer home back! Perhaps your errand boys should have simply taken the entire enchanted object and brought IT rather than remove the chest and leave my home behind." Skadi was less then pleased at the method of retrieval her fellow goddess had devised for the missing property. This would
not do at all. "Send them back for my home, and do stop that smirking, Hlin," she ordered.

~~~~

Joyce jumped when the phone next to her rang. She hadn't really slept the last few nights and had only fallen into an exhausted nap minutes before.

"Is this the home of Buffy Summers?" The young sounding voice asking was not familiar to Joyce. "Yes, I'm her mother, do you know where she is? Is she there with you," Joyce asked breathlessly.


"I work at the music box store at the mall and I found your daughters purse last night when I closed up. I expected it to be gone by today. Picked up, you know. I'd appreciate it if you'd tell your daughter we have her purse here for her to pick up anytime we're open," she said.

"My daughter is missing. Please, what did you see? Did you see her? Did she speak to you? Where is she?" Joyce asked the girl her questions in rapid fire, her voice desprate.

"I'm sorry, all I saw is this purse in the back section of the store under a table. I really am sorry and wish I could help, Mrs. Summers," she said sadly.

"Wait," cried Joyce, "What's your name? What is the store name again and do you have a security camera there," she asked.

~~~

A short two hours later the Scoobies gathered to see what, if anything, the videotapes Joyce had begged from the store might reveal.

Willow had enhanced the images as much as possible and still it made no sense. There was Buffy and then Spike; a woman knocked into Buffy, then she and Spike seemed to bend down and disappear.

The picture had a lot of static at that point, but you could still see well enough to know that they just disappeared. It wasn't much, but it was their first clue.

"I'm glad Spike was there, at least I know Buffy will be alright till we find her," Dawn said in relief. Joyce nodded in agreement.

"I just don't get how anyone can get a warm fuzzy at the idea of Buffy and Spike even in the same sentence," said Xander. "I mean, evil vampire, remember?" He looked around the table for the expected validation of his attitude.

"Oh he hasn't been truly evil in a long while and he is trying so hard to change," said Joyce. "I am with Dawn on this one. It is better for Buffy to be with someone who cares about her than to think of her alone out there somewhere."

"I swear, I just don't get it," Xander mumbled to himself.

"Later, Xander, we have Scooby business right now. But you will get plenty, later, I promise," said a passing Anya. She had obviously missed the entire line of conversation.

Xander suddenly sat straight up looking at the screen and asked, "Hey, who is the WWF blond giant with the pointy stick?" Xander pointed at the screen in a different place from the images of Buffy and Spike. No one had noticed the other individuals in the area because they had concentrated on the missing pair.

The group looked at the oddly dressed man that Xander had pointed out moments ago. He appeared to be pointing something in the direction of the missing slayer just before the scene went wonky.

"I'll try to clean up the picture and get in closer," promised Willow.

"Maybe we are on the trail, finally," Giles sighed in relief.

Joyce felt her last nerve fray and decided she needed to break the tension before it broke her. "Rupert, would you care for a drink?" "I could sure use one and figure you might too."

Giles nodded gratefully as she got down two glasses and a bottle of brandy, not his normal choice but it would do. God willing the drink would take the edge off and foreshadow a celebration soon to come.

Joyce started at the sound of breaking glass and looked down at the remains of a Martini glass shattered on her floor. Maybe not such a good time to be seeking omens after all.

It was another long night but at least the intrepid group now had something to go on. In fact it was promising enough that they had all drifted to different areas to seek whatever rest they might find.

Willow continued to try to coax more clues from the security video, the rest began to fall into exhausted slumber.




"Wow, it's a wonder it's not broken," the clerk said as she picked up the Snow globe from under the rack. "It's a pretty one too. Looks kinda' like the Matterhorn ride at Disney, only with Cinderella's castle on top. Think I'll put it in the back and buy it myself," she decided. Tina still regretted not getting the job at the Disney Store.

~~~

"Gah," screamed Buffy. "Was that an earthquake?" She clutched at Spike as the world began to spin and roll crazily. It was all the vampire could do to keep hold of her and the delicate grip he had on the rocky mountain wall. Another jolt like that and they'd be ass over teakettle down the way they had come!

~*~
Chapter 6
~*~



"There, see the weird tattoo on gorgeous George's hand? Looks like a goal post. It's a football cult! A pigskin worshiping cult of jocks! But what would a football cult get from making Buffy disappear? Maybe they needed a sacrifice for their team to win the next game," Xander hypothesized. He really was in need of serious sleep, they all were.

"It does kinda' look like a goal post. But I really don't think that sounds likely," said sensible Tara.

"Well of course it's not a goal post, silly," said Anya, "It's clearly a tattoo of a Hagalaz. Also called a Haegl or Hagall in Norse. It means hail in the Elder Futhark rune system. It can be considered negative but isn't always a bad thing."

"And how do you know that," asked an amazed Xander.

"Well I wasn't born yesterday, or in the United States for that matter. I don't know why someone would choose that for a tattoo. Seems a silly choice to me," Anya answered.

"Yeah,", quipped an exhausted Willow "it could rune a fella!" Everyone groaned at the bad pun but still felt a surge of hope with the new information Anya had supplied. Maybe now they'd make some progress.

~~~

Spike found a small cave in the mountain that even had some twigs. He'd noticed some larger pieces of wood down the rough natural path they had been on a short while earlier and had gone back to collect enough for a decent fire.

He was starting to worry about his brave girl. "Human, after all is said and done. Not meant for this cold. Probably hungry too," he thought. Well first things first. Warm his slayer up a bit, he would.

Buffy was grateful for the fire that Spike had made. She had started to think she would develop frostbite from this adventure. "Cold, not of the good for California girl," she said to herself. She was warming up a bit in the snug cave.

Hunger had stopped being an issue a couple of hours before. All those girls with eating disorders were right. You really did stop noticing hunger pangs after a while.

One thing she could no longer ignore was being more tired and achy then she could ever remember being.


She looked over at her companion and saw that he looked as tired as she did.

"Hey Spike, I don't feel right hogging your coat like this. The fire's nice and toasty, if you want it back I can deal," she offered.

Spike had been surprisingly resourceful and much kinder than she would have expected over the last few days. She'd never admit it, but she was glad for his company. She even enjoyed it. He had managed to take care of her without it coming across as though she was a weaker being in need of a keeper.

"Nah, slayer, I don't feel the cold. Vampire here, remember," he said. Then he smiled, not smirked, but smiled.

Buffy realized she'd never really seen him do that. He should more often; it lit up his eyes and made him look young and handsome. "God, did I just think that? I really need to get off this mountain and fast," Buffy thought.

"Tell you what, let's share," she heard herself say to her own horror.

Spike gaped at her in disbelief. Had she actually just offered to snuggle by the fire? With him? "Fella could get to like mountain climbing," he said to himself.

And that was how Idun found them.

~~~

"Mortals! On Skadi's sacred mountain! How can this be," Idun asked herself. She had come, along with three sister goddesses, for a holiday to Skadi's vacant summer home. They had soon discovered that they were trapped there by some enchantment or other. They did not worry about this. They were goddesses after all. The castle was well appointed, Idun even had a large supply of the rejuvenating apples that were her special gift to her fellow gods.

There was plenty of everything. Sooner or later they would be missed and Odin himself would discover their whereabouts.

Idun had sought a bit of time alone and gone for a hike when she smelled the fire and discovered the small cave.

"Intriguing," she thought, "The male is much older than he seems. Ahhhh, a vampire! How interesting! See how he holds the human in his arms so protectively as they sleep. And just see how she turns in his arms and nestles closer to him. Look how they both smile and sigh at the contact even while asleep."

Idun decided she had to waken the pair and take them to the castle. "I wonder what my sisters will make of them," she said with a chuckle.

~~~


Bjorn stood before the shaman and hung his head at the reproaches heaped upon him. "But sir, the enchanted globe was in the hands of someone. I couldn't just rip it from her and sprint from the shop could I? We did manage to get the chest back to the Forn Didr, and quickly, I might add. Surely the goddess is not that
angered with us," he said.

"What you did, was done well and in a timely way. But, it is unfinished. Our beautiful Skadi desires her home back so the enchantment can be broken and her mountain be placed back in Asgard where it belongs," the shaman stated.

"Take Sigfried with you and return to finish what you began," he ordered.

~~~

Spike and Buffy looked about in amazement. The long table was laden with enough food to even tempt Buffy. The goddesses were amused to find that this strange vampire chose to eat human food as well.

Sjofn looked confused and asked, "But do you not dine upon your consort?"

"What the hell does that mean?" demanded Buffy.

"No, my name is Sjofn. I am the goddess of domestic peace. HEL is the daughter of that trickster Loki, and she abides in the underworld. You young mortals know so little of us," she sighed sadly.

"No, I meant ..... why did you think Spike eats me?" Buffy asked. She blushed brightly at Spike's laugh and said, "Perhaps I should rephrase that."

"I dunno, luv, I'd kinda' like THAT question answered if it's left to me," he teased.

"Well, it is NOT left to you, you pig. Stop running to the gutter with every two words and maybe we'd get along better," she huffed.

Sjofn was further confused. They quite obviously cared for one another, had been traveling together. According to Idun they were snuggling quite happily when she had found them. Curious pair this human and vampire.

There was no mistaking the attraction they felt one for the other, or the looks they gave one another when they thought no one else could see ... especially when thinking the other did not see.

"I merely noted the marks on you neck, human, and assumed they belonged to your lover," Sjofn explained.

Spike nearly collapsed with laughter at the word 'lover'. Buffy flushed bright red and hit Spike in the nose, drawing blood. "Shut up Spike or I'll stake you where you stand. Big pile of dust all over the nice floor," she ground out between gritted teeth.

"Clearly you are having some sort of lover's quarrel. Perhaps I can help, as that is my specialty," the goddess offered.

"Oh, god, no! Or rather goddess," Buffy blurted out. "We are NOT lovers, not now, not ever." She glared at Spike as she said this to their hostess.

"Well, one sees what one wishes I suppose. You're young, there is time," Sjofn answered.

"Buffy only lets other vampires bite her," Spike said. "I'm on an animal only diet," he explained.

"I see," said Sjofn although she really did not. It was plain to see that this pair were perfectly matched and the fire between them was hot enough that it explained how they had stayed warm during their journey.

The girl was young but in time she would see her own heart. The handsome vampire already knew his if Sjofn were any judge of such things.

Sjofn would have to keep Lofn from using her powers on this pair. What they had was genuine and needed no tampering. In fact, if they interfered it could delay nature taking its course.

Lofn would just have to resist sparking passionate love between them. "A spark is all it WOULD take! The blaze would be seen all the way to Valhalla," the goddess laughed. "Mortals! ... and immortals for that matter," she shook her head at the self-deluded.

Her sister Lofn had the permission of Odin himself to spark passion wherever she willed. Even between those forbidden to marry. She would be hard to stop when it came to these two.

Perhaps she should send this Buffy with Fulla to see to Frigg's shoes until she had a chance to reason with Lofn.

When Fulla made the offer, Buffy was mystified but eager to join the goddess. Buffy was fascinated with Fulla's duties. "I never imagined a goddess whose job is to take care of shoes!" she had said on hearing it. "What a cool job! Do you get to try them on too?" she had asked.

Yes, this Buffy could be distracted for a time. Sjofn was pleased to have discovered the key to this human.

Sjofn had guessed right on another score as well. Her sister, Lofn, desperately wanted to create that little spark needed to get those fires flaming.

"But, my sister, if you DO, and she finds out, she will dismiss all of those feelings she does have and it will just take longer for the two to join their lives," Sjofn reasoned with her.

"Very well. But I shall have to keep my eye on them and take action later if they continue to dawdle. They shall make such a beautiful fire! You did notice, sister, that she is the Slayer, did you not? They tend to die quite young and she is wasting precious moments of joy. Much as I hate waste, my sister, I will bide for now," Lofn promised.

"Perhaps we shall send some of Idun's sacred apples with her to keep this Slayer young and rejuvenated beyond what is usual." Sjofn also felt pity for the young woman with such a bleak fate who seemed unwilling to grab hold of joy while she could.

"I shall also speak to Eir once we are no longer trapped in this enchantment and have her watch over this Buffy's health."

"A love as strong, and passion as hot as these two can have should have time to burn their saga in the very fabric of history."

All the sister goddesses nodded in agreement.

"There still is much we can do for these unexpected guests of ours," Lofn concluded.

"The eyes of the ancient gods and goddesses of the north shall be on them, I shall see to it," she vowed. She was always a sucker for real love. Nowadays it was a rare commodity.
Chapter 7 by pfeifferpack
~*~
Chapter 7
~*~


Sigfried and Bjorn, acolytes of the Sed, cased the music box store waiting an opening to grab the enchanted globe and make a mad dash to the Rainbow Bridge.

Bjorn had discovered that the shop clerk, Tina, had placed the globe in the back storeroom. This made their job both easier and harder at the same time.

Easier because no one else would purchase that which could not be displayed for sale, and harder because the little twit obviously wanted it for herself.

The waiting game would have to be played if success could be assured.

The tattooed Vikings did their best to blend in with the California mall rats and soccer mom’s while waiting for their moment.

~~~~~

Giles had found all sorts of information thanks to all the details given by Anya. None of the information served to explain where Buffy and Spike had disappeared to or what any of it had to do with musical snow globes and Norse gods, however.

He was beginning to wish he had a good bottle of single malt here with him. He looked up and caught the weary gaze of Joyce Summers and changed his mind. The poor woman was holding on by a thread.

Willow and Tara had done a locator spell and could only say that Buffy was alive .... somewhere. It was all quite frustrating really.

It was Anya to the rescue once again in the end. "Why don't you just call on Snotra? She's the Norse goddess of virtue and master of all knowledge. She'd know what's going on. Or, at the very least be able to explain what the rune tattooed boys are all
About," she had suggested.

The ritual for contacting the goddess had taken a while to prepare. When it was ready they all gathered in the woods outside of Sunnydale to call upon the goddess Snotra.

~~~

Sigfried kept Tina occupied while Bjorn slipped the globe into his cloak.

The poor salesgirl had shown the blonde nearly every music box in the store and he had yet to make a selection. She was beginning to hate all Nordic tourists with a vengeance! The final insult to her good humor was when the man abruptly left the store without so much as a ‘thank you’!



~~~~

Buffy, Spike and the goddesses looked from the castle windows and saw that, after that last earthquake, night had finally come. No stars lit the pitch dark, vaguely ominous sky.

Spike still had his hands on Buffy’s waist where he had steadied her during the tremors. He had delighted that she hadn’t moved from his embrace or turned a sharp tongue on him.

"Somewhat troubling between the earth shaking and the sudden darkness. It has never been night here before." Lofn consoled herself with the thought that nighttime was custom made for lovers and loving! There might be good magic at work with this turn of events.

~~~
Bjorn walked briskly out of the shop, globe safely tucked away within the vast pockets in the inner lining of his jacket. He began to head for his rental car. Sigfried would just have to catch up later.

He sped through the streets of Sunnydale headed for the woods nearby to turn the globe over to the shaman and finally be done with this nasty business. It was much easier to worship gods when you didn't have to actually deal with them, or their demands.

Just blocks from his turn off he became stuck in a traffic jam. A utility company vehicle was tying up the intersection making movement of any sort impossible. Their cherry picker had malfunctioned and the long arm holding the basket was effectively
blocking the very road that Bjorn needed to travel.

~~~~

Spike was getting to like their situation more and more. They were safe, warm, well fed and now had been escorted to a lovely room with a large bed covered in furs and a huge fireplace aglow with the romantic light of a fire.

Buffy had been too tired to argue with their well-meaning hostesses about the sleeping arrangements. She had even been too tired to argue with Spike, for that matter.

Spike had gone for a walk in the great hall while Buffy enjoyed a long, soaking bath in rose scented water.

Lofn had suggested he enjoy a bath in another chamber at the same time. He was glad now that he had chosen to do so.

Buffy sat in front of the fire in her borrowed nightdress spreading her hair to dry. She hadn't heard Spike enter their room.

"Slayer ..... Buffy," he said her name as in a verbal caress. Buffy felt her body vibrate in tune to his honeyed voice. She wondered, "God, had his voice always been that sexy?"

Buffy had noticed all sorts of aspects of Spike over the last few days.

Like, he was really quite clever and not an idiot at all. He was rather endearingly boyish at times. He could make her laugh like no one else. He was actually surprisingly sweet and considerate. He was a good conversationalist when she let him. "And how on
earth did mom know that?" she wondered to herself.

Now she finally had to also admit he was drop dead sexy too. She had never let herself notice that about him. Not consciously at least.

His soft curls, usually slicked back and forced into submission were begging for her touch.

His eyes, always expressive and, oh, … were they always that shade of blue? His graceful, strong hands that she suddenly wished he would use to touch her body. And, speaking of bodies, … God did he always look like that? Had she been blind?

Here in this enchanted place, Buffy felt awake and aware for the first time.

"Buffy luv, would you like me to brush it dry for you?" he was asking her. She found she couldn't speak, but handed him her brush and gave herself over to the pleasure of his touch.

He was unbelievably gentle. Had he always been so, she wondered?

Spike was closer to heaven than he had ever imagined being allowed. His Buffy, his very own goddess was allowing him to do for her, to touch her. He thought he had seen something new, something warm in her hazel eyes a moment ago.

"No, don't ruin everything you stupid git," he chided himself. "Poor mite's just exhausted's all and trustin' you to play the gentleman. Okay, then, not gonna' disappoint the lady. Do things right this time and not bullocks it up like before."

"She's a spirited one, full of flame and fury but skittish as the devil, gotta go slow and gentle or she'll be off and runnin," he reminded himself.

"Was there ever a woman like his slayer? All soft and hard at the same time. Full of love, yet ready and able to do her duty over and over. Look how she accepted the Niblett and loved her even though she knew the memories of her sister were false. Real
kindness there. Always carin' about her friends too."

"Never saw such beauty as in her eyes either," he thought as he gently untangled her silken hair.

"Spike," she said breaking the silence.

"What is it, pet?" he urged her on.

"Why did you take me to see what Riley was doing with those Vamp ho's?" she asked softly.

Spike stopped brushing and sat back, more than a bit surprised at the topic of the question.

"Knew you wouldn't believe me if I just told you and figured you'd want to know, is all," he answered.

"Why though? For all you knew I was in love with him," she prodded.

"Puttin all of you in danger by goin to places like that. What if they’d turned him and you had him come in before you noticed? ’Sides, He wasn't good enough for you, slayer", he replied.

"And I suppose you are? And don't call me slayer, call me Buffy," she responded.

"No, Buffy, I know I'm not good enough for you. Not even much good at all. I'm trying, but I'll never be good enough really. I know it. Can't help but dream though, pet. Never wanted anyone the way I want you. Never loved anyone like this either. Willing to turn myself inside out for you, Buffy, you just say the word," he said softly.

Buffy stared at him for a long moment before she spoke and when she did, her voice was nearly inaudible. "Maybe you should have said it like that the last time," she said. Then she gave him a genuine smile that warmed him from the inside.

"Would it have ended differently if I had?" he asked.

"Why talk about endings, Spike when we're just at the start?" she asked.

Spike gulped and stared into her eyes. "I'm still drowning in you Summers," he whispered.

They drew together as if in a trance, meeting in the tenderest of kisses. Spike could die now and use this memory to keep sane in hell.

His lips were as soft as she remembered from Willow's messed up spell last year. They tasted like those luscious apples that Idun had given them earlier, but oh so much more appealing. He was kissing her with a tenderness she would never have dreamed him capable of showing. She wanted more. More kissing, more Spike.

Spike trailed his tongue carefully along he lips. He didn't push for entry fearing she would bolt.

At once, Buffy parted her lips and invited him in. They explored each other’s mouths with tongues as their hands began to explore each other’s body.

Softly, tenderly, yet with an urgency and need that could no longer be denied.

Buffy moaned softly and Spike nearly lost himself at the sound.

"God, why did I ever turn this down?" Buffy asked herself. "I'm the idiot, not Spike."

~~~~

Giles began the chant to call upon Snorta and ask her wisdom in recovering Buffy and ending this nightmare.

~~~~

Bjorn finally maneuvered the rental past the disabled cherry picker and sped towards the woods with Skadi's enchanted home. Soon it would all be over and life could return to normal. Perhaps it was time to look into a nice cult of Zoroaster to join.

~~~~

"Who calls upon my wisdom?" Snotra asked, gazing at the circle of humans in this strange warm place.

"We do, oh virtuous goddess filled with the wisdom of the ages," Giles replied.

"Aud, is that you? How are you here and yet so young? I can sense you are a mortal, yet you do not age?" Snotra looked quizzically at Anya.

"Well it's a long story and I've only been human again for a few years," Anya replied.

"What is it you need, sweetie?" the goddess asked looking at Anya.

"We have lost a friend, the warrior of the people, the Slayer," Giles began, drawing the goddess’s attention back to him and their request.

"Yes, they do die young, another will be called," she answered impatiently.

"She is not dead, merely lost to us. We do not know how the old ones are involved but men with runes of the Elder Fulhark are somehow involved," Anya began to explain.

"Oh, is she the one with the vampire that so interests my sisters? They are within the enchanted globe containing Skadi's sacred mountain and summer home," the goddess answered brightly. "How amusing!"

~~~

Bjorn ran through the woods to the spot in the grove where the shaman was to have waited when he burst into a circle of humans and one of the Asatru!

"Stop him, that's the tattooed guy!" Xander yelled grabbing at Bjorn.

The globe flew from Bjorn's hand and landed at the feet of Snotra, breaking both the glass and the spell at the same time.

Buffy and Spike rolled on the ground in front of the Scoobies, Buffy coming to rest on top of Spike, both of them disheveled.

"Buffy," everyone seemed to say at once.

"Sweetheart, are you alright?" Joyce asked.

"Hey, Bufster, sorry we didn't get you out before. You probably can't wait to stake Captain Peroxide, huh?" this from Xander.

"Buffy, I swear it wasn't one of my spells," Willow was quick to inform her.

Buffy looked from one to the other and hugged them all in turn.

Spike, seeing the dream ended began to walk toward town and his crypt. It had been too good to last.

"Spike. Please wait." It was Joyce, not Buffy.

"I want to thank you for taking care of Buffy. I'm sure she is alive and well thanks in part to your help. I was glad when I found out you were with her," she admitted to the surprised vampire, her friend.

"Nothing to it Joyce. Your eldest didn't need my help. Didn't need me, never will," he replied quietly. "Glad you've got your happy reunion. Kinda' tired now and need to beat the sunrise home. Maybe I'll drop by the gallery in a few days, catch up a
bit," he said.

Spike stepped up his speed as he crashed through the woods on his way home. He managed to get there in good time without tripping in spite of the tears clouding his eyes.
Chapter 8 by pfeifferpack
~*~
Chapter 8
~*~


"So, this Sinatra goddess knew right where we were?" Buffy asked again after the whole tale had been told from the Scoobies point of view.

"Snotra, yes, a Norse wisdom goddess, NOT an Italian American crooner, Buffy," chided Giles.

"Oh bloody hell, I don't care what you call her, I'm just delighted you're home," he exclaimed, then drew her into a fierce hug.

After all the hugs and shared explanations, Buffy noticed the sun beginning to rise and looked about in panic for Spike.

"Spike? Where's Spike? Guys, did you see where Spike went?" she asked. Her eyes were wide in fear.

"He left a long time ago Buffy," her mother informed her.

"Yeah, I'd have staked him for you but figured you'd want that honor yourself after you get rested. And, say, did anyone mention that you're wearing a nightgown?" asked Xander.

Anya glared daggers at her lover and swatted him on the arm.

"Indeed, Buffy, it's been quite a trying week. Perhaps we should all get to our respective homes and get some much needed rest," advised Giles.

"Rats, I was hoping I'd get to talk to Snotra for a while .... you know, girl talk," said Anya. "She used to throw the best parties, especially when Odin was gone."

~~~

Buffy couldn't seem to run into Spike the whole of the next week. No matter where she went, even his old haunts, he was never there or she had 'just missed him'. She had begun to think he was avoiding her.

She had discovered that he was her mother's "Mr. Williams", and that he'd been helping Joyce for months at the gallery, and for no charge!

Art knowledge AND charity .... the mind boggled.

She had talked a bit to her mother about her adventure and the new way she had started to see Spike. Of course she didn't spill about ALL the parts of Spike she had only begun to notice .... it was her mom after all!

"I knew it! Finally my big sister opened her eyes and smelled the coffee!" Dawn exclaimed from the next room.

"That's a mixed metaphor, dear. It's wakes up and smells the coffee," corrected Joyce.

"Quit eavesdropping, you brat," ordered Buffy.

"What EVER!" said Dawn with an eye roll. "What's important is that now you'll stop being a jerk to Spike and start with the kissage!" she said and then grinned.

"Dawn!" Buffy and Joyce said in unison.

"Well she may have a point," Joyce said to her then. "I always did like Spike and if you MUST be attracted to vampires, he seems to be the pick of the litter," she explained her rationale with a sigh.

"As for your sisters interest and enthusiasm, well, she's just happy for you both I'm sure," she said.

"You wait till you get a boyfriend and see how YOU like 'little miss nosey pants’," Buffy replied to her mom.

"Boyfriend! Spike's your boyfriend?" Dawn nearly broke eardrums with her squeal. "Please, oh please let ME be the one to break the news to Xander. He is so gonna freak!" she said. "You'll get to tell Giles and I soooo want to have that fun too. Just imagine their faces," she said.

~~~
About ten minutes later, a somber looking vampire climbed the porch steps of 1630 Revello Drive and knocked at the front door.

He had a packing invoice from an art shipment that had arrived late at the gallery. The consignment was important and he knew Joyce needed the ready, so he braved casa Buffy to deliver it.

Maybe he'd get lucky and she wouldn't be home. He'd managed to avoid her all week so far. Somehow he didn't think he was quite ready to go back to the old relationship so soon after tasting what could be.

"Well, everyone's luck had to end someday," he thought as Buffy opened the door to his knock.

"Spike," she said and stared at the strangly still vampire.

"Buffy," he replied with a nod. "Got an invoice for your mum and word on a shipment. Mind callin' her to the door, pet?" he asked.

His eyes refused to meet hers and he was biting down on his lower lip. He couldn't bear to see the inevitable coldness he just knew he’d find in Buffy’s eyes. It was cold enough already on his side of the barrier.

"Yes, I do mind. I think I mind very much 'Mr. Just walks away as soon as we get back’. I looked for you when we got back but you were gone," she said.

God, why wouldn't he even look at her?

"Sorry luv, knew you'd be in the bosom and all and had
the sun to beat home. Vampire, remember," he said softly.

"God, Spike, what is wrong with you! I learned a lot about you when we were trapped in the mystical music box (and "say, wouldn't that be a great name for a rock band," she thought)."

I learned that you aren't the idiot I used to call you. Turns out you're just a dope," she said.

"What?", he asked and finally looked up at Buffy. He was clearly confused and out of his element. Completely out of snark when faced with any kind words from her. It was the last thing he had expected.

"Look, just get in here so we can talk like two civilized people. You can deliver your own damned message to mom," she said and stepped out of the way.

"I have an invite again?" he asked, barely hoping.

"Of course you big dope. I thought Dru was the lunatic, not you," Buffy said and laughed gently at his expression.

She stopped laughing as she saw the naked emotion on his face as he entered her home again for the first time since his disastrous proclamation of love and subsequent disinvite.

The 'Big Bad' had quite a large unbeating heart, it would seem, and easily broken too from the looks of it.

Guess he wasn't as sure of himself as he'd always seemed. Another Spike lesson for Buffy.

"Well, you could come in and have that talk, or, you could just be kissing me," she said and wrapped her arms around her astounded vampire.

Spike had been wrong ..... THIS was the last thing he had expected.

"You've never had any desire to join NASA have you?" she asked.

"Huh?" he replied. He was clearly confused, but in a good way.

"Never mind, come in Spike," she whispered and proceeded to kiss him senseless.

There was a lot they had to learn about each other, truths to sort from myths.

Buffy thought for once she was going to enjoy learning, as Spike deepened the kiss. She couldn't wait to find out what other hidden talents he had.
~~~

IN ASGARD

The four sister goddesses looked down at their late houseguests and smiled.

Sometimes these things worked out without the aid of the gods after all.


Some things were just inevitable.


~~fin
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