Part 7: In which a road trip is taken, an obstacle reached and a challenge made.

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

"Are we there-----"

"Mulder, Angus, Johnny, if you don't shut up, I'm killing you all."

"I'm not Immortal, Sonya."

"I know."

Even given how Liam's van had seemed to grow, it was difficult for everyone to fit inside it and tempers were a little sour, not helped by the bickering Sony and Johnny had been engaging in the whole long way.

Johnny rubbed at his temples with a sigh. "Note to self," he sighed. "In the future, *never* try to match an Immortal Irishman shot for shot. Especially with Bushmill's Whiskey."

"Ah, you're Hollywood, you've got a dozen rehab centers to choose from," Sonya smirked.

<God, don't these two agree on *anything?*> Scully moaned in her connection to Mulder.

<Sound familiar?> Mulder grinned back.

"Amy, is this what you truly want me to achieve?" Shaw asked her cousin.

"Hey, come on, Shaw. It's a great feeling, you'll love it."

"I believe my battle with Scorpion was less stressful," Shaw muttered.

"God, I'm going to behead you both if you don't knock it off!" Diedre barked out.

"Hey, she can do it too," Johnny said. "You know them, they're always with the big battle scenes with the kilts and all."

"That's the Scottish, you moron," Diedre said, rolling her eyes.

"Oh, like there's a difference," Johnny shrugged.

Sonya sighed and looked out the window at the green fields rolling along the countryside. "Shit, I feel like I'm wandering around the sets of 'The Quiet Man.' Expect a couple drunken Irishmen to come by fighting with a town following them."

Her chuckling was cut off when Liam hit the brakes, throwing everyone forward slightly. Sonya soon became aware of Liam, Aideen, Torc, Angus, Rhoan and Diedre all looking at her with disdainful expressions. "Don't ever," Liam said in a quiet but hard tone. "Ever. Make fun. Of 'The Quiet Man.'"

Sonya tried to defend herself. "Hey, look, I------"

"NEVER!" Aideen yelled, her eyes glowing briefly.

Sonya swallowed and glanced towards Ivar who returned her gaze with a tired expression. "Don't look at me. As with so many things, I'm pretending I'm not with them."

"Just how did you hook up with them, anyway?" Liu asked.

"I followed Torc from my kingdom," Ivar explained. "He'd stolen a sacred item from my home. A chalice from the palace." He saw Robin, Liam, Jax, Johnny and Mulder open their mouths. "Don't start." The mouths closed.

Liam started the van up again, continuing to drive down the road before them. Behind him, Amy looked over at Shaw, who was staring out the window. "You okay, cuz?"

"I am fine," Shaw replied.

Amy bit her lip, not wanting to proceed but did. "Shaw, did you get any sleep last night?"

Shaw's silence was all the answer she needed and the Amazon witch sighed. "Shaw, you have to try and rest a little before we do this. Conserve your strength."

"I have been doing that, Amy," Shaw replied, still looking out the window. "I am praying to the Lady as well as gathering my energies."

"That's not what I-----"

"I will be fine, Amy," Shaw said in the tone that let Amy know the discussion was over.

"Should relax a little, lass," Liam said from up front. "You're too uptight, must be the whole lack of dating."

"I can handle myself perfectly well without having to be kissed good-night," Shaw said tightly.

"Not even if it was me?"

"Especially not you."

Lass grinned at her. "Lass, if I kissed you, your nerves would go on fire, your body would be electrified, your ears would be glowing, your hair would stand on end, your heart would beat so fast it'd almost pop out of your chest and you'd feel more at ease than you've ever felt in your life."

"I see," Shaw said, raising an eyebrow. "At which point you would wake up?"

Liam looked at her for a moment, then laughed. Aideen glanced towards Robin and silently said <He really likes her, doesn't it?>

<That he does,> Robin nodded back. <A lot.>

<Think it could happen?>

<I fell for an Amazon witch, you for an Immortal General. If there's one thing we know, love is never predictable.>

<This bunch is certainly proof of that,> Aideen nodded.

"Been a while since a road trip, eh, love?" Torc smiled.

"Aye," Aideen smiled. "Not since we followed the Dead."

"What, is that a faery thing?" Amy asked. "Following the souls of the deceased?"

"No," Aideen said, sounding puzzled. "Watching Jerry and the rest of the Grateful Dead on tour, God rest his soul." Amy just looked at her and shook her head in disbelief.

Near the back of the van, Joyce glanced towards Sub-Zero. The ninja had his hands crossed along his chest, eyes closed and seemed to be mediating, his body not seeming to bounce when the van hit a rough patch. "Um, can you hear me?" Joyce asked.

"Yes," Sub-Zero said without moving a muscle.

Joyce nodded. "Ah, I just wanted to say....thank you. For what you did. You're right, I did need the rest. And unlike the night before, I didn't have any nightmares either. Thank you for that."

"I helped one who needed it," Sub-Zero replied. "I see nothing to really thank for."

"I do," Joyce insisted. "I really needed it."

There was a silence and for a moment she was afraid he'd fallen asleep or something. She glanced out the window before a soft whisper came. "You are welcome."

Johnny flipped his sunglasses absently around one figure as he looked around. "I swear if I make it out of this alive, I'm never doing anything involving sci-fi again."

"So, you're just gonna keep up doing pure action adventures?" Jax asked.

"I don't know, I thought about stretching a little," Johnny shrugged. "Always thought I'd make a good Robin Hood."

A loud snort caught his attention and he turned to see Angus shaking his head at him. "What?"

Angus sighed and looked straight at the actor. "Mate, I knew Robin Hood. Robin Hood was a good friend of mine. And as much as Errol tried to do his best, he just couldn't match up to the man and he was the best of the lot."

"Hold up," Johnny said, holding up a hand. "You knew Robin Hood? How?"

"I've always been handy with a quarter staff," Angus grinned.

Everyone stared at him as his words sunk home. "If he's hinting he was who we think he was......" Sonya started.

"Then Robin Hood was a lot shorter than people thought," Johnny finished. He and Sonya both looked over to a certain person.

"Don't look at me," Robin Goodfellow said.

The stares centered on someone else.

"Sorry, not me," Liam said.

Johnny returned his gaze to Angus. "You were Little John. I can't believe it."

"Yeah, right," Sonya said in disbelief. "Next, he'll be telling us he was James Bond."

Angus slowly looked towards them both, a wicked smile on his face. "Oh, you gotta be kidding," Jax groaned.

Angus chuckled. "Robin Hood was real. James Bond was a fictional character." He looked to Johnny and nodded. "You'd make a decent 007. You've got the style for it."

"Thanks," Johnny grinned. "I've read all the books." That got a few stares from those nearby.

"You've read the books?" Jax asked.

"You've read *any* book?" Sonya said dubiously.

Johnny glared at her. "Hey, just because I'm an actor doesn't mean I'm stupid. In fact, I happen to believe the stories about Ian Fleming actually doing the things he wrote about."

"You do?" Angus said, sounding impressed. "You like the books, really?"

"What can I say?" Johnny shrugged. "I'm a Fleming fan."

Angus smiled and gave a thumbs-up. "Thanks!"

With the exception of the Knights and Aideen, everyone in the van stared at him. "Oh, no," Johnny said. "No, you can't be serious."

"Rhoan and I have autographed copies of every first edition," Diedre smiled.

"Christ, next they'll be saying King Arthur was real!" Sonya groaned. She caught the looks in the eyes of everyone and her face fell. "Him too?"

"I was------"

Sonya cut Torc off with a groan. "Don't. I'll take your word for it."

Johnny sighed and looked at Angus. "Okay. Who was the best?"

Angus appeared insulted by the question. "Please. Connery is so obviously the one. Although Bronson is doing a good job."

fiancée

Shaking his head, Johnny looked to Robin. "Hey, Robin, I was wondering something."

"Who do I think played the best me in 'A Mid-Summer Night's Dream?'" the faery smiled. "About a month before the Oracles sent me to Sunnydale, I went to this little town in Illinois outside of Chicago called Oak Brook. Great outdoor production. The actor playing Puck, in my mind, captured more of my personality and essence than anyone else I've ever seen."

"Really?" Johnny said.

"Yeah," Robin nodded. "Wish I'd gotten her name."

Johnny stared at him, then glanced toward Amy. "Is he------?"

"We can never tell," the witch replied with a sigh.

Diedre chuckled as she looked over at Scully. "How are you handling all this?"

"I've been through a lot already," Scully said. "Although this is getting to the top of the list."

"You're handling it well," Diedre said. "No offense, but for one so young, you've kept from cracking too badly."

Scully sighed and leaned against her seat. "I was trained only to believe in what I could see and touch and classify under careful scientific study. Now I'm an Immortal Amazon married to an Immortal empowered to an Amazon level by a faery who in her spare time helps kill demons and vampires. That tends to open up your mind."

"I'm always amazed how easy it is for people to ignore such things," Diedre said. "My home, my land, faeries, Tir Na Nog, the Mystic Weapons, they're all though the stuff of legend and myth now. Maybe if more people believed in such things, we wouldn't be in this mess now."

"I've been wondering," Jax said. "Why don't you people just blow the lid off vamps and such and get armies and cops and all on them?"

"Jax, my friend, there's a trait for humanity that can only truly be appreciated from one standing outside it," Robin said. "For the most part, humans as smart when separate. But when they get together, they're dumb. If people heard there was a race of demons that could live forever, it'd tear things apart. Thousands would be wanting to be turned into vampires to gain eternal life, not knowing of the demonic aspects of it. You'd have people killing themselves the world over, hoping they'd become Immortal. And the slightest change in behavior from a person could have them labeled as a demon and killed."

"Robin's right," Mulder nodded. "I used to think that truth had to be exposed no matter what. But this is way too big to let out publicly. Trust me, making this all public is going to make more problems than it solves."

Amy, Shaw and Joyce all glanced at Robin, each one reflecting on the secret truth of why he kept the truth over the Scroll quiet so long.

Liam looked over at Robin. <Now, I can see why you like him the best.>

Robin glanced up at their destination. "You see it?"

"Yep," Liam nodded. "Sure this is the right spot?"

"Energies are enough for me to play with," Robin confirmed. "Go for it."

Amy looked over their shoulders, eyes widening as she saw where they were headed. "Um, Rob? You know we're headed towards a river, right?"

"I'm aware," Robin nodded, seeming quite calm as the van moved towards the river without pause.

"Robin," Shaw said with an edge to her voice. "Can this thing float?"

"It's a van, lass. Course it can't float," Liam replied nonchantly, the water coming closer and closer to them.

"Rob------" Amy's voice was cut off when Liam hit the accelerator and sent the van racing towards the river. Just as the front tires went over the edge, Liam whispered a quick incantation. A flash of light filled the air around the passengers in the blink of an eye, the van had transformed itself into an open-aired flatboat, everyone suddenly finding themselves standing on the raft-like surface, a motor in the back with Liam standing up front by the large round wheel, smiling at them.

"Okay, what was that?" Angus said, thrown a bit by the sudden change, as was everyone except Aideen and Robin.

"Best entrance to the Faery Kingdom is by water," Robin said. "Energies are high enough for me to open up a portal and get us inside."

"You know, there are entire days I wake up in the morning without expecting to go to another realm," Johnny remarked dryly.

"You get used to it," Shaw shrugged.

"Off to another dimension," Scully sighed. "Again. Why can't we just take a vacation to Disney World like everyone else?"

"As long as it's not New York, anywhere's fine with me," Mulder replied.

"What's wrong with New York?" Rhoan asked, sounding slightly insulted.

"We died there," Mulder answered.

"Ah," all the other Immortals replied. The others looked at them in confusion. "They're always a little nervous about where they first died," Aideen explained. "It's an Immortal thing."

"It must be," Shaw said.

"What do you mean?" Aideen asked.

"The place where I first died has become my home," Shaw replied.

With the exception of Amy and Robin, everyone stared at her. "You died before?" Rhoan asked.

"Yes, in Sunnydale, fighting Scorpion," Shaw replied matter-of-factly.

Diedre peered at her carefully. "But you're not Immortal, how'd you come back?"

"Magic," Shaw replied to more stares.

Aideen turned to Robin. <She just has to joke about these things, doesn't she?>

<See that ring of regeneration on her right ring finer?> Robin smiled.

<Yeah, why?> Aideen asked.

<Figure it out,> Robin grinned. <But let her keep the secret. I'm trying to get her into the whole 'myths and legends' thing.>

Robin turned to the space before him, putting his hands together and bringing together all his energies and concentration as he muttered to himself. "Great, off to see Oberon again," Amy sighed.

"I know," Mulder said sourly. "I hate having to go back and deal with him again."

"What's the problem with you and Obe?" Aideen asked.

"We just don't really like him," Scully muttered.

"Why not?" Johnny asked.

"That may be because the first time they met, Oberon turned them all into frogs," Shaw answered plainly.

"And flies? Not tasty," Mulder added.

Johnny looked at him, Scully and Amy and shook his head with a grin. "That's what I love about you people. I can never tell if you're serious or not."

Robin's incantation had reached the high point, energy glowing from his hands as he stared forward at the point before him. The energy in his hand glowed brighter and he threw out his hands, energy crackling from them and to the point before him. There was a pause, then a massive circle opened up before the boat, dipping into the water. A wind seemed to blow towards it although the boat remained stationary, energy crackling all along the edges of the circle.

Robin spun on his heel and faced the group, wind whipping at hair and coats. "Okay, listen up," he called out. "There's gonna be some rules here and *this* time," he threw a look at Mulder and Scully. "No one breaks them. Walk where I walk, do not stray from the path. Let me do the talking with Oberon. Do whatever I say, no matter how strange it may be. Shaw, that means you too. Do not anger anyone, do not stare, do not gawk, please try not to insult people. Do not eat or drink anything unless I tell you it's okay. This is the big one. Do not. I repeat, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances whatsoever, accept* anything* *anyone* offers you. You do, then you'd better like Avalon, because you'll never be allowed to leave."

"I'm guessing this isn't a big tourist spot," Angus said dryly.

Robin turned and nodded at Liam, who put the boat into motion. The faery took a deep breath as the craft moved towards the portal, the energies flowing around the boat. He bit his lip and concentrated on keeping the portal open while trying to ignore the not-so-little voice in his head telling him that this was a very, very bad move.

*****

The Faery Kingdom

Amy, Shaw, Mulder and Scully had all been through the process of hopping into another plane of reality before and were used to the thrilling sensation as they passed through the portal. The Knights seemed to stand up to it well, either through experience or simply their age. However, the rest of the normal humans had never experienced traveling through a dimensional portal before so it probably explained why, as the boat exited the sparkling portal, Joyce, Sonya, Johnny, Jax and Liu were all leaning over the railing, emptying their stomachs into the water below.

"Oh, God," Sonya moaned. "And I thought the portal to Outworld was bad."

"I hate dimensional travel," Liu sighed. "I hate it."

"Glad to see it's not just me," Amy smiled, rubbing at her stomach as she took stock of their new surroundings.

The group appeared to be moving down a river in the middle of a large valley, mountains around them as Liam steered the boat steadily down the water. The portal closed behind them but no one really noticed as they all glanced at the small homes laid out at the green fields near the water. Pointy-eared people moved about, some walking, some floating, all intrigued by the new inhabitants of their land. Children ran across the shores, trying to keep in view of the boat. Others actually floated over the water, looking in curiosity but cautious to keep their distance.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to my home, the Faery Kingdom," Robin said as he strode forward. He took a deep breath and let out a huge grin. "Gods, it's great to be home."

"Nice," Mulder said as he looked around. He glanced towards Aideen. "You ought to have your king check this place out for redecorating tips. This puts the whole cave motif to shame."

"Aye, it's nice," Liam nodded. "But you should see the Leprechaun Glens. Now that's a bloody blast."

"Let me guess," Scully said dryly. "Rivers of beer, bagpipes and flutes playing all the time, fights all over the place?"

"Ye've been there?" Liam said, surprised.

"And the sad fact is, he's not kidding," Robin said. He looked forward, seeing a large city lying before them. It was a medieval-style affair, with homes, shops and halls, all designed with an imaginative flair and bursting with elaborate decorations. Rising high at the center of the city was a palace with a unique mix of Gothic and mystical architecture, the very epitome of a fairy-tale castle, the spires reaching over fifty stories. "Ah, the palace of the King, where we go to give him a ring."

"Robbie?"

"Yeah, Aid?'

"We're with mortals here. Don't start the rhyming, it'll drive 'em nuts."

"Sorry," Robin said sheepishly. He glanced back and was surprised to see Shaw standing near him, her eyes staring out with wonder and even a bit of awe as well. "Robin?" she said softly.

"Shaw, what is it?" Robin asked, confused as to the look of near-rapture on her face.

"Is this....." The Harper swallowed to get herself together. "Is there....Faerie?"

Amy stared at Shaw, taken aback at the glazed look in her eyes and the whisper of her voice. "Robin, what's up with her?"

"Simple," Robin shrugged. "For the first time since you've met her, her elven blood is singing."

Amy looked at him, then at Shaw and sighed. "It's a spiritual thing, right?"

"Exactly," Robin nodded, turning to Shaw. "Shaw, this isn't the legendary, possibly mythical homeworld of all the faery races."

"Anyone else struck on how Robin is actually calling something mythical?" Mulder remarked.

"Mulder, don't start," Scully warned.

"What?"

"You've got the look, Mulder. That look you get every time you're proven right on something and you want to rub it in my face. Not now, okay?"

"You're no fun," he grumbled but still smiled at her.

Shaw sighed and looked back, blinking her eyes. "But I can feel something, Robin. Exactly where are we?"

Robin frowned. "I don't know if we're *exactly* anywhere but.....Consider this a place between world or dimensions."

Shaw nodded, she, Liam and Aideen evidentially the only ones who understood what the hell Robin was talking about. "And for the faery-blood challenged?" Amy called out.

Robin smiled at the humans as he started to explain. "Remember the Stargate guys?"

"You're somehow assuming I'm capable of forgetting that bunch?" Amy smiled back.

"They said the chest suckers------"

Amy, Mulder and Scully all grimaced, causing the others to look at them in confusion. "The what?" Sonya said.

"He's talking about an alien race that act as parasites," Scully said. "They take over a human body and use it to survive for centuries. It's like two personalities in one body, the alien the dominant but with all the knowledge of the host while the host is trapped in their own body, unable to stop it."

She stopped to see Mulder smiling at her. "What?"

"Nothing," Mulder smiled. "It's just weird hearing *you* talk about alien life."

As Scully smacked him on the shoulder, the others just stared. "Aliens?" Rhoan said. "You want us to believe in aliens?"

Mulder gave him a look. "You're a 1400 year old Immortal who once owned a mystical sword, flew on a dragon, fought witches, is best friends with a faery from a mythical Irish kingdom and you're now in Avalon. You want to say there can't be anything like life on other worlds?"

"Point," Rhoan nodded.

"Oh, God," Sonya moaned, holding her head in her hands.

"Hey, relax, there's a group out there more trained to fight them," Scully said.

"It's not that," Sonya groaned. "It's the fact I have to hear Johnny talk about how Hollywood's been right all these years."

"Thanks for the opening," Johnny smiled.

"Scuse me!" They all turned back to Robin. "I'm trying to play British librarian here. Don't interrupt, it's rude." He took a break and moved on. "Anyway, they told us the aliens took ancient humans from various cultures and scattered them across the galaxy."

"And this has to do with Shaw zoning out, how?" Amy asked.

"No interruptions," Robin reminded her. "Anyway, all these ancient humans, their descendants can all trace their lineage straight here to Earth, never mind how many generations have passed. Still with me?"

"Keep going and maybe we'll catch up," Angus remarked.

"Well, Earth, to those descendants, is the homeworld, the motherworld. Faerie, which I can tell you this ain't, is the legendary homeworld for all the faery races, mine, Liam's, Aideen's and Shaw's, all the elves from Earth to Toril to Kyrnn to Krondor. Except that instead of being scattered across the galaxy, our races have traveled across the dimensions."

Being the scientist, Scully was the first to grasp what Robin was saying. "So what she was asking, is if this was *your* ancient homeworld like Earth is for the descendants of the humans kidnaped by the Goa'uld."

"Ye go to the head of the class, lass," Liam grinned.

"Right," Robin added. "But even though it isn't, the connection to Mommy dearest will be stronger here than anywhere else, except for Evermeet."

"What's Evermeet?" Mulder asked.

"Nice place. Been there six or seven times."

"So what is it?" Amy asked.

"Sorry," Robin smiled. "Trade secret."

Angus sighed and shook his head. "This is one load of horsehit. Hey, ninja-boy, what do you-----" He turned with the others to see that Sub-Zero had vanished from the boat. "How does he bloody do that?"

"I hate it when he does that," Amy muttered. She looked over to Shaw. "Shaw? Are you all right?"

Shaw looked to her and Amy was taken aback at the look on her face, a look she couldn't remember seeing before. For once, Shaw actually seemed......happy. "I have never felt better," Shaw said with utter honesty."

Joyce looked at the direction the boat was taking the river ending in a large harbor before the city. "I just can't believe this," she sighed. "God, on top of everything else.....I'm in another dimension. No wonder Buffy didn't want me in her life."

"Hey, that's not something she wanted to do, Joyce," Amy said gently. "Buffy loves having you in her life. She just doesn't want you in this aspect of it."

Joyce sighed again. "You know, it took me a while to get over her lying to me. That was the hardest thing. I'm not an idiot, I didn't expect her to be totally honest with me on everything. But that she had been fighting demons all this time and couldn't tell me hurts. It still hurts."

"She cared about you, Joyce," Shaw said gently. "She wanted to protect you."

"I'm her mother," Joyce smiled sadly. "I'm supposed to do the protecting."

"Can't do it forever, Joyce," Robin said. "But you've done everything you've could for her. What she is, it's because of you. And that says a lot on both you and her."

Joyce smiled at him, shaking her head. "Thanks, Robin. I have to say, you're....different than what I expected on this trip. I always thought that we were-----I don't know----flashes for you. Nice for a while, then forgotten once we're gone."

"No," Robin said empathically. "Not you, Joyce. Not any of you. I will, never, ever forget you guys. You've given me something I haven't had in my life. Not just a home, I've had plenty of those. Not just friendship, me and Liam and Aideen have had that longer. You've given me a family, Joyce, you've given me a human bond I never knew I needed until I had it. And now that I've had it, I'm not giving it up. Not without a fight."

Silence reigned, everyone taken aback at the passion in Robin's voice, Shaw and Amy looking at him with new respect in their eyes. Liam just smiled as he kept steering the boat into where the river ended in a harbor, boats of various types, from luxurious yachts to simple fishing boats, albeit all bearing the unique designs of the faery dimension.

"So, what do you do?" Johnny asked as the boat came near the main dock. "Go to the palace and knock on the front door?"

"That's an excellent idea, Cage," Ivar said in total seriousness, nodding. "Keep them coming, we may get out of this."

Johnny looked at him, then at Angus. "He's joking, right?"

Angus bit his lip, looking thoughtful. "Well, I seem to recall him making a joke, four, no, I think it was more like five hundred years ago. He's about due for another one, that might have been it."

As Johnny stared, Liam docked the boat, ropes moving by themselves to tie it to the pier. The group saw a quartet of faeries move onto the dock before them, each carrying spears and sober expressions, brilliant red uniforms on each of them.

"Halt," one of the faery called out. "There are to be no human intruders upon the capital. Those who attempt are to be executed."

"Um, scuse me?" Johnny called out, holding up a finger that swiftly moved to the others. "We're not really with them."

"Ease up, buddy," Mulder muttered. "We piss this guy off, he's going to make us undergo a mind-numbing torture that will make us all scream in anguish."

"Oh my god!" Angus yelled in mock-horror. "He's gonna make us watch Kevin Costner's 'The Postman!'"

"Come on, 1400 years, you must have seen worse than that," Johnny said.

"Not really."

"Okay," Johnny shrugged. "Hey, I was wondering. Is it true what they say about how you only feel alive when you're facing death?"

"No," Angus said, shaking his head. "You just feel dead a whole lot quicker."

"Just a little ray of sunshine, ain't ya?" Johnny muttered.

"I am used to that feeling," Shaw said. "I have gotten it often talking to the Lady."

"Who?" Johnny frowned.

"My Goddess, the woman I give my prayers too," Shaw explained. "I talk to her and on occasion she talks back to me."

"Really," Johnny said, trying to keep his voice neutral. "Right to you, right in front of you?"

"On occasion," Shaw said. "Usually, it occurs with her speaking in my mind."

"Oh," Johnny said. "Well, that sounds.....good."

Shaw arched an eyebrow. "I would think you would be familiar with this."

"Why?" Johnny frowned.

Shaw's eyes seemed to twinkle as she replied. "You are from Hollywood. I would imagine there are quite a few people who hear voices in their heads."

She moved off, leaving Johnny to stammer at her. "Geez, she doesn't have to insult me," he said sourly.

"Important thing to know about Shaw, Johnny," Robin grinned as he slapped the actor on the back. "When she insults you like that, it means she likes you."

"Hey, she must really like me then!" Liam grinned as he stepped away from the steering wheel.

"Nah," Robin shrugged. "She just wants to insult you."

"How am I supposed to figure this girl out?" Liam frowned.

"You don't," Robin smiled. "That's the way she likes it."

"I know the feeling," Angus muttered as he came up. "I can never get the last word with her."

"Few can, my friend, few can," Robin smiled.

"What about Callie?" Liam asked.

"Liam, when the lights go off on Creation, I can guarantee Callie will have the last word then too."

"Excuse me!" They all turned to see the faery guards glaring at them. "State your business!" the lead guard said.

"They're with me, Peasblossom," Robin said as he stepped forward to face the faery guard. The man stared at him, eyes narrowing to frown up the brow underneath his short dark hair. "Robin? Robin Goodfellow, is that you?"

"The one and only," Robin smiled.

"Small world, isn't it?" Mulder remarked.

"We grew up in a time when people thought the world was flat," Rhoan pointed out. "It's not that small."

"Good God, man, it's been ages!" Peasblossom smiled. "What are you doing here?"

"I need an audience with Oberon. I need it now, Peasblossom, this is important."

Peasblossom's face darkened. "You know he doesn't like being demanded an audience like this, Robin."

"I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't important," Robin said. "But it is. Look, we're going to the palace anyway, Peasblossom. I figure this way we won't have to tear through the city first."

Peasblossom looked at him, then at his companions. "You know how he feels about humans here, Robin."

"Can't be helped," Robin shrugged. "Come on, you owe me, Peas. You know that."

Peasblossom slowly nodded his head. He turned to one of the other faeries and spoke. "Go to the chamber. Inform Oberon Robin Goodfellow is here with mortals and requests an audience." The faery nodded and then vanished.

"Nice," Liu said. "And I thought Raiden had the teleportation messenger service perfected."

*****

Sadly, teleportation wasn't an option for the arrivals and they soon found themselves taking the long walk through the city towards the castle. It was an odd procession, Robin leading the way, the others following, careful not to touch anything or look the wrong way at anyone, as per Robin's instructions. Quite a few passerbys were watching them, heads peeking out of windows and more than one person in line, offering something. However, in most cases, a simple look from Robin, Liam, Aideen or Shaw was enough to send them back.

"Wow, that's nice------" Joyce said, her hand reaching towards a trinket on a passing cart. Robin's hand smacked it away. "Take nothing, Joyce," he said. "If you get stuck here, Buffy's kicking my ass."

"Nice," Angus said. "Very nice. I've got to try and get back here, find a way around these rules." He turned to see Ivar staring at him. "What?"

"It's finally happened," Ivar said. "Centuries of insanity have made you crazy."

Robin led them down towards the castle, careful to avoid some of the seedier parts of the town, making sure the gang wasn't in any danger. He paused as he heard a voice calling his name. He'd heard quite a few already but this sounded familiar. He stopped, the entire group stopping with him and looked to see a figure walking towards him.

She was a small woman with a kindly face, her features, like those of the other faeries, boasting a pair of ears and a mischievous quality and a big smile. She had long green hair and was dressed in a nice loose green-leaved outfit. She appeared to be in her early thirties but with Eternals, one could never tell. "Robin," she said with obvious affection. "It's been so long."

"I know," he smiled back. "I'm sorry I haven't been by more often, it's been a little crazy."

"No need to apologize," she said. "I know how it is." She glanced over at the others who were coming in close to Robin, Amy and Shaw right behind him. She looked at them and smiled. "Well, I see you've made friends."

She reached out her hand and instantly, Shaw's sword was at her throat. "Back away," the Harper said. "Now."

"Um, Shaw......." Robin said.

"Hey, back the hell up, bitch!" Amy said, joining her cousin. "Robin gave us the rules, okay! We know not to accept anything so just get the hell away from us."

"Um, Amy......" Robin tried again.

Shaw leaned in close so the woman could see her. "We are on important business," she said in an icy tone. "If you interfere, I will remove you, make no doubt about that. So back. The Hell. Away."

The woman looked at the two, then at Robin. Surprisingly, she was smiling as she stepped away. "They deserve you," the woman said with a smile. With a flash of light, she was gone.

"Sheesh, what a pushy bitch," Amy grunted. "Probably needed a couple human servants or something."

"Indeed," Shaw said. "She does not strike me as the type to do any hard work."

"Hey, Robin, just who was that bitch, anyway?"

Robin's voice was even and controlled, with just a dash of venom in it. "Amy. Shaw. That was my mother."

Amy and Shaw did not move a muscle, aside from the widening of their eyes as they took in what Robin said. A snorting sound came and they slowly turned to see the entire group, biting lips, holding hands before mouths and generally doing all it took not to just burst into laughter. Shaw focused on Liam, who had a hand over his face. "There had better be tears coming out of your eyes."

"Oh, there are, there are!" Liam said, yanking his head up to show he was laughing wildly with tears streaming down his cheeks. He was still howling as the group moved forward, leaving Amy and Shaw behind to lag at the end.

Johnny glanced back as he moved near Robin. "Hey, Robin, how far are we from the castle?"

"Not too far," Robin said. "Why?"

"Well, I just heard a comment someone was making and wanted to ask Shaw about it."

"What?"

"Well, apparently, there's something beyond you guys that puts you beyond us humans."

"What, besides the fact they can do magic better than a black man grooves?" Jax asked.

"No, it has something to do with the ears in bed," Johnny answered.

"Oh, God, even here he's got his mind in the gutter," Sonya groaned.

Robin sighed. "I wouldn't ask, Johnny. She wouldn't know anything about it."

"Why wouldn't she------" Johnny trailed off as he realized what Robin was saying. "No way."

"Way," Robin smiled.

"A fifty-four year old virgin?" Jax asked in disbelief.

"Well, keep in mind there weren't a lot of dating choices for a lot of her where she was," Robin said.

"Well, it does explain a lot of things," Sonya nodded.

"Like what?" Jax frowned.

"Temper, lack of patience, stubbornness....." She trailed off as she saw the other staring strangely at her. "What?"

"We *are* talking about Shaw, right?" Johnny asked. Sonya hissed, the two starting to argue again as Robin and Jax pulled ahead. "Rob, while they're getting ready to kill each other, about the kid," Jax started. "Does she like live like a priest or something?"

"Of course she does," Robin said. "In fact, she lives *with* a priest."

"And you and her cousin hasn't done anything to get her out of that?" Jax asked.

"Uh, Jax?" Robin said slowly. "You've seen that unicorn pendant of hers?"

"Yeah. What about it?"

"That's the symbol of her faith."

"Like a crucifix," Jax said in understanding.

"Right," Robin said. "And that's the reason she lives like a priest."

"Say that again?" Jax asked.

Robin rolled her eyes as he spelled it out. "She *is* a priest."

"Oh." Jax paused before speaking. "And, ah, for this priest dissing your mamma just now......?"

Robin just looked at him and did something that scared the hell out of Jax. He smiled.

Swallowing, Jax turned to see Sonya and Johnny once again screaming at each other. Sighing, he fell back and grabbed Sonya by the arm, yanking her away and towards the back, the two passing by Shaw and Amy, who were evidentially both taking oaths never to mention what happened again.

"We need to talk about Cage," Jax said as the two walked on.

"I'm not interested in him, Jax," Sonya muttered.

"Sure," Jax shrugged. "Handsome, famous, rich movie star who can fight and saved your ass once, how can you not be interested?"

"I don't need sarcasm, Jax," Sonya muttered.

"Okay," Jax said. "Then how about some advice. You trust me, Sonya?"

"As much as I trust anyone," she said, brushing at her hair.

"Which is to say you don't," Jax nodded. "Okay, from a teammate, believe me when I say that opening up to this guy is not the end of the world, all right? Take a chance, for God's sake. End this whole thing before it drives us all crazy."

"You think he and I could work out, Jax?" Sonya said sharply. "Come on, I live in the real world, he lives in a fantasyland."

"Sonya, in the last few hours, pretty much everything I've heard has made me rethink what's real and what's fantasy," Jax said. "Look, Sonya, I don't want to bring it up but ever since Brian------"

Sonya turned and stopped, shoving him in the chest. "You don't mention him ever, Jax," she hissed. "Never, you hear me?"

"I know it hurt, Sonya," Jax went on. "But you can't keep yourself shut off from the world forever and you know it."

"I live a dangerous life, Jax," Sonya said as she walked on. "There's no place for anyone in it."

"Maybe you should try," Jax went on. "Look, as a teammate, at least think about what I said, okay?" He watched Sonya walk on and shook his head. "Dammit, Cage. Hope you know what you're getting into."

*****

It took about another half hour before the group passed through the gates of the palace and were immediately escorted to the throne room. It was a massive chamber, nearly a mile high, wide and long. Word about Robin's arrival had spread and the chamber was filled with inhabitants of the realm, crowded both on the sides of the walls and the balconies overhead.

Robin was in the lead as they walked down the massive red carpet leading to the raised platform. Sitting on one throne, wearing the same robes that he had been when he met with the group in Sunnydale the August before, long white hair and beard, was Oberon, High King of the Faery Kingdom. Next to him was a beautiful woman who appeared to be in her forties, brilliant yellow hair flowing behind her, wearing an amazingly intricate and quite beautiful gown, a crown on her head. Every one of the humans knew this had to be Titania, Queen of the Faery Kingdom.

"This doesn't look good," Ivar muttered.

"Haven't you learned optimism in all this time?" Angus said sourly.

"Tired it once," Ivar shrugged. "It didn't take."

"Is this going to be bad?" Joyce said nervously.

"It would appear to have that potential." Everyone yelped and spun around to see Sub- Zero standing behind him.

On the throne Oberon turned to his wife, frowning. "How did he do that?" He turned back to see Robin take the lead, kneeling and bowing before him. "My Lord," he said in a quiet, respectful tone. "I thank you for granting this audience. I have a matter of importance to speak of with you."

"I am aware of Mider's being freed," Oberon said. "And judging from your companions, I can guess why you are here."

"My lord," Robin said. "If we may have the Mystic Weapons, we can leave and free Earth from Outworld------"

"Permission denied." Oberon's flat refusal caught Robin off-balance and he stammered a bit.

"Sure, see how he feels now," Amy said, but her heart secretly went out to him right now at having his ruler refuse to help.

Robin swallowed before speaking. "My Lord. This is a dangerous moment for Earth. Most of the men I gave my empowerment through are threatened and I am bound to aid them."

"That bond is lifted, Robin," Oberon said. "Indeed, should you decide to stay now, your restrictions shall be lifted and you may stay in the Faery Kingdom."

Robin was baffled. This was definitely not what he expected. While being able to come back to the Faery Kingdom with his powers back was tempting, he couldn't shake the feeling something was off.

Behind him, Liu was reading Oberon's face carefully, trying to sense something. He found it, his eyes widening as he made the connection. "You struck a deal with Kahn," he stated out loud.

Silence filled the chamber, Robin whipping his head behind to stare at Liu in shock. He turned back to Oberon and Titania, then around the hall, the expressions on the faces around him letting him know Liu was right. He turned back to Oberon, anger coming over him. "You and Kahn?" he hissed.

"I owe you no explanations, Goodfellow," Oberon said.

"With respect, my Lord, I believe you do," Robin said. "With all I have put into the human realm the last few months, I am deserved to know why you're planning on leaving it high and dry."

Oberon moved forward, anger on his features. "Goodfellow, I have seen Kahn's forces and I know his plan. He has approached several realms, Olympus among them and we have agreed to leave him alone."

"You're giving up Earth?" Liam said incredulously. "Christ, Obe, I knew ye were harsh but this is too much!"

"Shut up, Danahure," Oberon hissed before turning back to Robin. "This is my choice, Robin. You want me to go to war with Outworld? For humans?"

"They deserve your aid," Robin said.

"They can't even help themselves, Goodfellow, they don't deserve us," Oberon answered. "Forget the humans, Goodfellow! Their day has come! They no longer matter!"

"Oh, they matter, my Lord," Robin said. "You know how much they matter."

Oberon snorted. "You've been living among them too long, Goodfellow."

"And you've been living above them longer," Robin snapped back. "You honestly think Kahn is just going to stick to any agreement? He's not the type."

"He's right," Sonya threw in. "I may be only a human, pal but trust me, I know that you can't make deals with power-mad dictators. We tried it once with a guy named Hitler, it didn't work."

"If we leave him alone, he will be content to take the lower realms," Oberon said. "They're not very meaningful."

"Oh, really?" Johnny said. "Let me tell you a little saying from my world, pal. It's a little paraphrased but you get the idea. They went after the Jews. I wasn't Jewish so I didn't speak up. They went after the blacks. I wasn't black so I didn't speak up. They went after the unions. I wasn't in the union so I didn't speak up. Then they went after me. And there was no one left to speak up."

Sonya stared at him, impressed. "That was good."

"And my high school civics teacher said I'd never get anywhere," Johnny grinned.

"What about your grandchildren, Oberon?" Robin said. "Have you forgotten that?"

"On the contrary," the king said. "I have given orders to Puck. He will wait until the last minute, to avoid suspicion, then he will bring the children, Fox and Xanatos here."

"And leave the rest to rot in New York when Kahn takes over?" Robin said. "Good God, Oberon, you've always been duplicitous and self-centered but this is going way over the line."

"It is my decision, Goodfellow," Oberon hissed. "The Weapons stay with me. I'm giving you a chance to do the same."

"You're leaving humanity to die! Dammit, you can't do this!"

"Do not presume to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own palace!" Oberon said, rising up, Robin instinctively shrinking back. "I have made my decision, Goodfellow and nothing will change it! And for you to talk this way to me here and now is an insult to me! You dare spit in the face of royalty?"

A hocking sound went out and a blob of spit suddenly smacked Oberon right in the face. Everyone was frozen in the sheer shock of it before glancing back to the small woman wiping at her mouth.

"No, you worthless shit," Shaw said in a tight voice. "*That* is spitting the face of royalty."

"Have I mentioned that I'm in love with this woman?" Liam announced to no one in particular.

Oberon slowly wiped at his face as he focused his glare on Shaw. "Well, I should have guessed," he hissed. "Harpers aren't known for their knowing when to keep quiet."

"I cannot do so when you condemn my home to death," Shaw said tightly. "I fight for my family, my friends and my Lady."

Oberon wiped away the spittle as he spoke. "My dear, your family is in the dirt where they belong. Your friends will join them and I highly doubt the universe will be the sadder for it. And I knew your Lady when she was nothing but a spoiled, whiny, worthless bitch-----" He paused, his face looking thoughtful. "Oh, wait, that's what she is now."

"Everyone please leave for the exits in an orderly fashion," Robin announced as a look of pure malevolence came over Shaw's face. Amy reached a hand out but Shaw just brushed it away, moving past Robin and up the steps to face Oberon.

"She's gonna kill him," Aideen muttered. "Then we'll really be in trouble."

Shaw slowly stalked up to the smirking Oberon. She leaned in closely, keeping her glare steady. "Did I hear you correctly?"

"Quite," Oberon smirked more.

Shaw jerked a bit, staring off into space behind Oberon. "What? Are you sure?"

Oberon appeared confused, shooting a quick glance to Robin, who just shrugged in bewilderment. He turned back to Shaw. "I beg your pardon, half-breed?"

"Oh no," Robin whispered. "Please don't tell me......"

"What?" Liam frowned

Shaw gave a resigned sigh as she looked at Oberon. "Very well. As you wish."

"Wish what?" Oberon frowned.

Shaw's face hardened as her voice became pure ice. "This."

With that, she brought her knee up with full force right between Oberon's legs. Instantly, every male in the room instinctively winched and gave a loud "ouch!" as Oberon gasped for breath, bending over and clutching at his nether regions.

"Uh.....Shaw?" Robin asked in fear.

Shaw turned to him and Robin saw the distant look in her eyes. "Hello, Robin," Shaw smiled although Robin was pretty damn sure by now it wasn't really her talking. "It has been a long time."

"Oh, shit," Robin said.

"For Oberon, very deep," "Shaw" said with a glance backward.

"Robin, what's going on?" Amy said, on the verge of freaking out.

"Let me guess," Johnny said. "Next thing we see is pea soup and spinning heads."

"Nope," Robin shook his head.

"Robin, what the hell is *going on!*" Amy shrieked. "What's wrong with Shaw?!"

"That's not Shaw, Amy," Robin sighed. "At least not at the moment."

"Oh, HELL YEAH!" Liam grinned.

"Huh?" Amy asked, glancing at him.

"MILLE'S IN THE HOUSE!" Liam yelled, grinning wildly.

Amy glanced at him, then at "Shaw" and realized who was doing the talking right now. "Oh, shit."

The distant look faded and Shaw shook her head as she returned to her faculties. "Why is it that when you mention someone of divine status, you say 'shit?'" she asked in a normal voice.

Amy took a step forward. "Shaw? Is that you?"

"It is now," Shaw nodded. She turned back to Oberon. "Was that a satisfactory response, you arrogant illegitimate spawn of a spider raping slut?"

The silence that came over the chamber was so tight, a pin drop would have echoed for minutes, everyone staring in shock at her.

"Uh oh," Joyce muttered. "What did she say?"

"The one thing you never insinuate to an elf, faery or leprechaun of ANY type," Robin said in a fearful voice.

"What, dissing his mama?" Jax asked.

"No," Liam sighed. "Any of you ever play Dungeons & Dragons?"

"Once upon a time," Johnny said.

"Well, Shaw's from Toril. The Forgotten Realms world."

"Really? Cool."

"Not cool," Robin said, shaking his head. "What race on Toril worships spiders?"

Johnny went white with fear as her realized what Robin was saying. "She just called your king....."

"The bastard son of a drow."

"So?" Sonya asked.

"The drow make Maeve and Mider look like amateurs," Robin said, his voice dropping with every statement.

"So?" Sonya asked again.

"So, we're dead," Aideen moaned. "If we're lucky."

Oberon brought himself back up to full height, his eyes glowing with pure anger at the strangers. "That is it," he hissed. "That. Is. IT! Guards, take them away!"

Instantly, the guards moved in, spears pointed right at the humans as they came closer. "Nice bloody going, Shaw," Robin moaned.

"What did I do?" Shaw said innocently.

Robin turned to her in shock. "You assaulted and insulted the High Lord of the Faery Kingdom in his own home, did you honestly think he wouldn't be mad?"

"What is the worse he can do?" Shaw shrugged.

"Shaw, have you ever heard of the Marquis de Sade?"

"In passing."

"Ever heard of the Inquisitions?"

"Yes."

"What the Nazis did to prisoners?"

"Yes."

"Now the clincher. Remember what those vamps did to you."

Shaw's mood darkened. "Do not press me, Robin."

"Take all those, combine them, multiply them to the 500th power and that's amateur night in Dixie compared to what Oberon can do."

Shaw looked at him, then at the angry expression on Oberon's face. "Oh, shit."

"Obe, old sport," Liam said with false charm. "Ye wouldn't do that, would you?"

"I don't like you, Danahure," Oberon hissed. "I never liked you. Seeing you all imprisoned while Kahn claims your realm is a small price to pay for what that bitch did to me but it will be a start." He glared at Liam. "I want to know what it will take to make you scream in pain and torture."

"Play disco," Liam replied.

"Or American rock and roll," Shaw added. "Or you could put me in the same cell as Liam."

"I was right!" Liam grinned. "You can't stand to be far away from me!"

Oberon stared, incredulous. "Being in the same cell as Danahure is torture?"

Shaw gave him a cold, hard gaze. "Do you have the capability to magically paralyze and torture me for twenty-one hours by cutting open my back while my grandparents are killed by a vampire?"

"I could do that," Oberon said.

Shaw let out a bitter laugh. "My human grandparents have passed into the next life and my elven grandmothers is a Bladesinger. I do not think Lord Corellon would be willing to hand her over to you."

"Who's Lord Corellon?" Amy asked Robin.

"Corellon Larethian. Head Elven God in Toril and several other worlds. Zeus and Oberon rolled into one."

"Oh," Amy nodded.

"Perhaps something else," Shaw went on. Can you strand me in another dimension for thirteen years, forcing my to dodge the likes of Strahd Von Zarovich and Lord Soth?"

Oberon stared at her in pure amazement. "You were *there?*"

"That was the dimension she was in?" Robin asked Amy.

"Guess so," Amy shrugged, not seeing what the big deal was. "She never knew the name of it."

"Yes, I was there," Shaw answered for all. "And it was Strahd's minions who named me 'Hunter.' Been there, done that."

Amy looked back to Robin. "Did she just use Earthspeak?"

"Cordy's taught her well," Robin nodded.

"Those are somewhat original," Oberon admitted.

"And they have been done to me," Shaw said. "Along with other things, so *you* cannot come up with anything worse."

"How about for your friends?" Oberon said coldly.

Shaw moved towards Oberon, her gaze flint cold. "That is where we have a problem. Before you touch my family or friends, you might wish to go to Olympus and ask the God of War what I did to *him* for attempting to kill people I care about."

"True," Oberon said. "But then.....You were in your world. Now you're in mine. I have the advantage here and I intend to use it."

"You can't do this!" Joyce cried out. "Dammit, my daughter needs me!"

"Afraid she'll have to get by without you, my dear?" Oberon bit out. "This is my command and nothing and no one can do or say anything that can possibly stop me----"

In retrospect, had he been given the chance to actually think about it, Robin Goodfellow would never had done what he did at that moment. But he didn't think, he just went and acted on instinct, showing aside the spears and moving forward, one foot on the bottom step leading to the throne. He cleared his voice and let out three words that echoed through the chamber.

"CALAMDU UN STARV!"

The silence here was greater than any. Everyone, Oberon, Liam, Shaw, Aideen and the assembled faeries stared at Robin in absolute shock, no one believing what he had just said. "Lord save us, the man's gone mad," Aideen whispered.

"What did you say?" Oberon asked, actually sounding stunned.

"You heard me," Robin said, his voice even and cool.

"I'm not certain I did," Oberon said, giving Robin one last chance to back down.

Robin didn't take it. "I invoke calamdu un starv. For our freedom and for the weapons."

Oberon shook his head in amazement. "Robin......That right hasn't been used in nearly ten thousand years."

"What can I say," Robin said. "I'm a sucker for the classics. Do you accept?"

"Robin, have you gone completely crazy?" Liam hissed. "I mean, even more insane than I always knew you already were?"

Robin ignored him, staring at Oberon. "Do you accept?"

Oberon licked his lips. "Why, Robin," he said, admiration in his tone. "I never thought you had it in you." He paused and stepped back a bit. "You'll be on your own, you know."

"No, he won't," Liam said, stepping up beside Robin. "I am Liam Devlin O'Shaugnessy Patrick Dillion O'Hara Paddywick McHale Thornton Danahure of the Leprechaun Glens. I will accept it."

"And I," Aideen said. "Aideen Jaspern of Tir Na Nog."

"And I," Shaw said. "Shawukay Redarrow of Toril."

There was a long silence as Oberon looked at them both and then nodded. "I accept," he said. He stepped back and addressed the assemblage. "I hereby declare calumdu un starv!"

He snapped his fingers and a huge flash of light filled the chamber. When it was over, everyone was in an entirely new area. It appeared to an ancient gladiator arena, the huge dirt area below seemingly waiting for fighters. The seats immediately started to be filled as Oberon turned to the others. "You have ten minutes to prepare," Oberon said. "Make use of them." He turned and walked off, leaving the others behind. There was a long moment of silence before someone spoke.

"Well, Saint Peter, ye've gotten me this far," Liam said. "I'm looking forward to shaking your hand."

"Robin, what the hell have you done?" Amy asked.

"I invoked a sacred right of combat," Robin said. "Faeries and elvens only, so only me, Liam, Aideen and Shaw are eligible."

"What's this involve?" Torc asked.

"Pretty simple, really," Liam shrugged. "Us against a rather large group of horrific monsters Oberon's caged up over the years. Captives, prisoners of wars, intruders, the usual. We go and fight it out. Whoever's left alive at the end, wins."

"Gotta love the classics," Aideen said.

Amy looked over at Robin. "Rob?"

"I promise not to die!" Robin said.

"You can't promise something like that!" Amy shrieked.

"Amy, is was this or be imprisoned by Oberon while Kahn runs rampant on Earth," Robin said. "We've got a shot. We win, we get the Weapons and go free. We die.....well, we're no worse off than we were before."

"Oh, God," Sonya moaned.

"It's our only shot," Robin said.

"It's up to you guys?" Mulder said. "Great. We're all fucking dead."

Robin turned on his heel to the others. "Okay, Shaw, who do you want?"

"Whoever is the most powerful worker of magic among our opponents," Shaw said, earning stunned looks from everyone.

"Now, wait a minute, lass," Liam said. "That fancy shit like 'silence spell around yourself and get up close and personal' tactic may work on human or elven wizards but these guys don't need fancy Latin incantations or silly hand movements to work their magic."

"Perhaps not, but they will vastly underestimate me, because I am only a half-breed and they will seek to eliminate me as someone not worthy of their time or effort." Shaw paused and looked thoughtful. "I figure, a fireball, disintegration or similar spell, something simple yet appropriately spectacular, or as Amy would say it, flashy."

Amy stared at her cousin in wonder. "How can you be so calm about that?!"

Shaw looked at her and smiled. "Because of the one power my sword has that neither Robin or I have told anyone about."

Robin broke into laughter, throwing his head back and howling as he realized what Shaw was talking about. "What?!" Amy, Aideen and Liam yelled.

Shaw's smile remained. "The ability to reflect hostile magic back at its source. On Toril, we call is spell turning."

Except for Robin, everyone stared at her in shock. "Talk about 'back at you'," Amy muttered.

"Or 'in your face," Jax added.

"I love this woman!" Liam laughed.

Aideen shook her head as she looked at Robin. "Robbie, this girl spends way too much time observing your methods."

"Hey, I've taken her under my wing," Robin smiled. "How else do you think she can be so subtle with a 'sword first, interrogate later' attitude?"

"Oh, God, he's spreading his methods around," Aideen groaned.

"Hey, as far as she's concerned, I'm her brother," Robin grinned.

"Which one?" Liam asked.

"The one whose purpose in life is to drive his sister to no end of irritation," Shaw said, sounding a bit pissed.

Aideen stared at her, thinking for ten seconds over what she said. "That's probably one of the most accurate descriptions of Robbie's personality I've ever heard."

Liam glanced over to see a rumbling near the gates on one end of the arena. "Obe's getting them together. We'd better get down there."

Aideen nodded and closed her eyes. A glow covered her body, magical sparks washing over her as she changed. When the glow faded, she was floating a few feet off the floor, wearing a red outfit that had a leaf-like quality to it. Her long blonde hair was now covered under a tight red cap, her ears sharp and pointed and a pair of wings had grown out of her back and were fluttering like mad.

"Whoa," Aideen said, her voice sounding more high-pitched. "Been a while since the flying, forgot how it felt."

"What the hell is this?" Sonya said, staring at the transformed faery.

"Rules of the battle," Robin answered. "We have to be in natural form." He sighed and shifted himself, turning back into the figure who had first come to Sunnydale months before. He hovered a few inches off the ground, dressed in a green-leaf coat and cap over his green hair, his ears pointed, his nose and chin now stretched to nearly the same long length, the smile on his face reaching to his ears. He opened his lids and everyone jumped back a bit at his yellow eyes. "Ah, good to be back," he sighed. He saw Shaw staring at him and frowned. "What?"

"Nothing," Shaw said. "It is just......I have never seen you in your natural form before. It is....different than what I expected."

"Forms and shapes aren't what we truly are, Shaw," Robin said. "What matters is what lies within."

"That is very good," Shaw said.

"Didn't think I had it in me, huh?"

"Not really," Shaw said. "But I wonder. How old are you?"

"55,000 years."

"And with age comes wisdom, does it not?"

"Supposedly."

Shaw smiled. "Then lead on, oh wise one." She smiled as she moved back. Amy moved towards Robin, looking him in the eye. "Robin....." She paused, unsure what to say. "I'm holding you to that promise."

"You got it," Robin said, embracing her and giving her a quick kiss. Amy moved back to Shaw. She gave her cousin a quick hug. "Will you be okay?"

"I will do my best," Shaw said. She glanced towards Robin and frowned.

"What?" Amy asked. "It can't be his real appearance."

"No, I have no problem with that," Shaw said. "It is just......people complain about *my* ears?"

"I HEARD THAT!" Robin called from about twenty feet away.

Liu looked to where Liam stood. "What about you? Aren't you going to change?"

"This is my real form, laddie," Liam smirked. "Can't improve on this, can ye?"

"Oh, he's a fine one, isn't he?" Angus spoke to the sky.

"Are you talking to God?" Liu asked.

"As I once told William Wallace, in order to speak to an equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God!" Liu just shook his head.

Aideen moved forward, hovering as she gave Torc a long kiss. "Don't worry," she said, stroking his hair. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Love you," the Immortal said.

"Love you," the faery replied as she moved back. She moved to where Liam, Shaw and Robin stood near the edge looking down onto the arena. "Let our hearts be pure, let our spirits be strong and may we fight with all our might," Liam intoned. "And if worst comes to worst, may we be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows we're dead."

"With your reputation, I wouldn't be sure of that," Robin smirked.

"I wish you all luck," Sub-Zero's voice came from behind them. "May the gods grant you victory."

"Thanks old sport-----" Liam said, turning around only to see Sub-Zero gone. He, Robin, Aideen and Shaw looked at one another. "How *does* he do that?" Shaking their heads, they all moved over the edge, Robin holding Shaw's hand as they floated down to the arena.

Above, the humans moved towards the large viewing box where Oberon and Titania sat. The arena had become packed, word of the battle spreading fast and was instantly the biggest attraction in the land. "Damn, should have brought the bear concession," Mulder said as the group all stood at the edge of the arena wall, looking down as the large gates opened and the opponents came out.

They were a very interesting sort. There were griffins, centaurs, trolls, ogres and creatures no one even recognized. They were all in very nasty moods, weeks, months, years, centuries of imprisonment making them all bitter and angry and surly enough to attack anyone for any reason whatsoever. This was their chance to let loose and they were not about to waste it.

"Oh, this is not good," Johnny muttered.

"Hope those guys are up to it," Sonya sighed.

"What's your bets, Rhoan?" Angus grinned. "Rhoan?" he looked over to see his friend staring forward at one of the fighters in particular. He followed his gaze, his jaw dropping as he saw what Rhoan was looking at.

It was a huge figure, nearly seven feet tall, heavily muscled with yellow and black colorings all over him, black having the advantage on his lower region and legs. It was hard to tell if it was skin or armor or maybe both. His face was like a troll's and he wore a large helmet made of a animal's head, the jaw stretched to allow his beefy and monstrous face to be shown. He held an axe in one hand but stumbled a bit, as if unsure what he was doing here.

"Oh my God, Rhoan," Diedre whispered, bringing her hands over her mouth.

Rhoan looked down at the face he never thought he'd see again, his jaw trying to work as he realized that one of the beings the four faeries were going to have to kill was his own brother.

"Lugad."

*****

Part 8: In which a battle is won, a battle is lost and hopes grow dim.

"Friend of yours?" Liu asked, seeing Rhoan staring at Lugad.

Rhoan slowly nodded, stunned. "He's my brother," he managed to get out.

As one, everyone looked at him, then Lugad, then back at him. "I'm really hoping you're the one who takes after your mother," Johnny said in seriousness.

"I'm not," Rhoan said tightly. He slowly turned, a glare at Oberon. Before he could move, Torc held him by the shoulders. "I know how you're feeling," he said. "But assaulting him is not a good idea, trust me."

"Lugad dies, you won't stop me, Torc," Rhoan said tightly.

"I'll try," Torc hissed. "You know I will."

Rhoan looked at him and backed down, shaking his head. "Dammit. I just never knew he'd be here."

"What happened?" Mulder frowned.

"He vanished shortly after Garrett died," Angus explained. "We spent time looking for him but figured he'd gone to ground. And now he's here."

"And to save us, they're going to have to kill him," Ivar nodded.

"Isn't it fascinating the little quirks life throws at you?" Liu asked to no one in particular.

"So, your mom's a psycho witch and your brother is, I'm sorry, a monster?" Jax said in disbelief. "Man, and I thought I had one dysfunctional family."

"This is not good," Amy said, shaking her head as the fighters moved in. "They are really outnumbered here."

"It's not quality," Torc smiled. "It's quantity."

"In other words, they're screwed," Sonya said sourly.

"I don't think so, lass," Torc shook his head. "I know Aideen and she's known those two for 30,000 years. They've gotten teamwork down to an art form. Hell, according to Aideen, Robbie won one of the greatest battles in history by himself."

"Oh, what one?" Johnny asked.

"Ever read the Bible?" Torc said.

Johnny didn't answer but Jax nodded. "Momma was always big on it when I was growing up."

"Does the phrase 'Walls of Jericho' ring any bells?" Torc said dryly.

Everyone stared at him in amazement. "Are you serious?" Sonya asked.

"Completely," Torc nodded.

"Okay, but what about that lunatic?" Sonya asked, pointing to Shaw.

"Oh, she's taken out a few bad guys in her time," Amy smiled.

"Like who?'

"Vampires, demons, evil Immortals, Scorpion, the Headless Horseman, Ares, a pit fiend, Merlin------"

"She fought Merlin?" Torc asked in surprise.

"Well, sort of," Amy shrugged. "He got uppity with her, so she gave him an axe kick."

"She killed him?!" Jax said, eyes bugging outward.

"Of course not!" Amy said

"An axe kick is a deadly move!" Sonya threw in.

"She hit him in a nonvital area," Amy shrugged. "The same one she used on Oberon."

All the males winced. "She's done that in fifty-four years?" Johnny asked.

"Nope," Amy said with an evil grin. "Since she came to Earth. May of last year."

"Why does that not surprise me in the least?" Sonya sighed, glancing to Diedre.

"Why am I suddenly feeling sorry for all those poor, defenseless monsters?" Angus sighed.

"Oh my God," Aideen whispered. Like Rhoan, she had recognized one of the fighters and swiftly turned to Shaw. "Shaw, if ye can? That big brute there with the teeth helmet? Don't kill him. That's Lugad, he's Rhoan's brother."

Shaw stared at her, then at Lugad in surprise. "He is Rhoan's brother?"

"It's been so long," Aideen nodded. "We didn't think we'd ever see him again."

"He is Rhoan's brother?" Shaw asked.

"We never dreamed Oberon had him," Aideen shrugged. "Gonna put a kink in things, but ye just can't kill him."

"He is Rhoan's brother?" Shaw asked yet again.

Aideen looked at her. "For someone with ears like yours, ye don't listen well, do ye?"

"Taken her this long to figure that out?" Liam muttered.

The creatures gathered together and faced Oberon, raising fists high. "We who are about to die salute you!" they cried out.

"Great, ripping off Rome," Mulder sniffed.

"Actually, I think Rome ripped off them," Torc said.

The four on the other side paused, then turned to Oberon and raised fists. "We who are about to die.......Say fuck you, we're taking those assholes down first!"

A roar went through the crowd, Oberon gripping his armrests so hard, they nearly came apart in his hands. He glanced over at the humans, all of whom were howling in laughter. "I LOVE THESE GUYS!" Johnny yelled, holding his sides.

Down below, Liam looked over at Robin, the faery's yellow eyes narrowed at the opponents. "Tough bunch, lad."

"Trolls?" Robin asked.

"A couple."

"Ogres?"

"Yep."

"Goblins?"

"Quite a few."

"Don't worry, I've got it all figured out."

Liam nodded, eyes straight ahead. "You don't have the slightest bloody idea how you're going to pull this off, do you?"

"Shows, huh?" Robin shrugged.

"Robin, Aideen, Liam, there is something I want to say," Shaw said in a tight voice. "I wish you to know that if this is the day I meet my ancestors, I cannot think of a finger group to do it with."

"I'm touched, Shaw," Robin said. "Slightly terrified, but touched."

"Thank you."

"Shaw, you know how Steve and the guys are always telling you to hold back, pull in your temper, not go wild?"

"Yes?"

"This is not one of those times."

"I had already surmised that, Robin."

Robin nodded, his face set. He bent his neck to one side, a slight cracking sound coming out. "Bring it on." He cracked his head the other way. "Bang a gong." His face looked forward, a small smile coming over his features. "Get it on."

He threw out his hand, a bolt of energy blasting outward and to the front of the pack of demons. It incinerated one troll and threw the entire group backwards. "Shaw, need a little more disorientation."

Nodding, Shaw held her sword in her hands, muttering. In seconds, the spell of darkness washed over the demons, covering their sights.

"What the hell is this?" Aideen asked.

"What they cannot see, they cannot hit," Shaw answered.

"What about what *we* can't see, you bloody harpy?!" Aideen yelled.

"Harpy?" Shaw asked, craning her neck to one side. "No, not a viable choice."

"WHAT?!" Aideen shrieked. Her eyes grew as Shaw gripped her sword and concentrated, her form shifting into that of a velicoraptor, which lunged forward and into the darkness, yells of pain echoing from the shadows.

"What the bloody HELL?! She's not a druid!"

"No, that's the sword," Robin answered. "Thought it would make a good power. And you know what they say about the female of *any* species being more dangerous, particularly when they're protecting their families."

"Obviously, she's taken it to heart," Aideen said. "But how does she even know what that looks like?"

"She's seen 'Jurassic Park,'" Robin answered

"Ye've let those bloody teenagers corrupt her," Aideen sighed.

"She gets even," Robin grinned. "You should see her use the wrestling moves on them in training. She's make a great luchadore."

"I love this woman!" Liam grinned.

A set of shapes shot out of the cloud and some flying creatures revealed themselves. "I've got these," Aideen said. "You two have a blast. And remember. Hands off Lugad."

"Back in business, laddie?"

"Damn straight," Robin smiled as the two moved into the cloud. There was some sounds of struggling, then a flash of brilliant light as the darkness dissipated and Robin and Liam went to work, Shaw shifting from raptor to human form, the remains of several demons lying on the ground around them.

Shaw ducked a blow from a deformed elven, her sword swinging out to slice across his chest. She spun it in her hands, letting both ends slice at a pair of hulking demons coming near her. The demons both yelled as they stepped back in pain. Shaw split her sword in half and went to work, the both blades glowing with flame as she sliced them into her opponents, flame running across their chests and backs as she went to work on them. She jammed one blade into a heart and the other swinging to decapitate the other.

"That woman's a sword-swinging maniac!" Sony yelled.

"And she's dancing like she's never danced before!" Johnny, Mulder and Angus all yelled at once.

Liam grinned as he leaped forward, both feet smashing into the mouth of a demon, smashing both sets of teeth in its mouth. Liam flipped to his feet, hands together as he chanted, lightning running out of his hands and smashing into a pair of demons nearby, charring one and knocking the other back.

Liam glanced over to Robin, his old friend obviously loving the use of his magic. He ducked an energy shot from a sorcerer and spun around, his hands unleashing magic of his own. The sorcerer tried to put up a shielding but it was nowhere near enough for Robin's power, the shield cracking, the sorcerer overwhelmed by it, a brief cry going out before he turned into a rat that scurried off.

Robin glanced back to see Lugad nearby. The brutish being seemed taken aback by the carnage, obviously not sure just what was going on. In a flash, Robin was near him, a hand on the man's chest as he pushed back. "Do yourself a favor, lad," he said. "Stay out of this."

On the throne, Titania looked to her husband. "He's trying to keep Lugad out of this."

"It will not do him any good," Oberon said. "The rules state the fight can only end when one side is dead. One way or another, they will have to take his life."

Titania looked over at Oberon, her face set. "I do not approve of this, you should know."

"I don't care," Oberon said, tightly. "They wanted this, fine. I'm giving it to them, however I want." Titania stared at him, then sighed as she looked back to the battle.

Aideen flipped through the air, going back to wings with ease, centuries of experience flooding back to her as she avoided her opponents. One swung out with a sword and she grabbed it, moving under his blow while holding onto the sword, flipping the two of them around with her on top. She yanked the sword away from him and swooped away, the blade cutting into his chest and sending him down. Aideen spun around, sword ready to block the attempted strike from a spear at her chest, a hand unleashing a magical bolt to knock the fighter back.

On the ground, Liam leaped over a charging rhino-like creature and onto him, gripping the horn tight as he swung onto its back. Yanking on the horn and digging in with his feet, Liam sent the creature charging into a small group of opponents, scattering them. Liam leaped off, snapping off the creature's horn, spinning it in his hands and slamming it into the top of his head, killing it instantly.

Robin's hands were continuously glowing, bolts of energy ripping out as he deflected blows and shot out others. He turned to see one demon hold up a large sword on its side, blades extending from each end with smaller blades all along the ends and the handles and hilts as well. "Now that is just overkill, I'm sorry," Robin shook his head.

Snarling, the demon leaped forward, the sword headed towards Robin's chest. The faery waited until the very last moment before disappearing, the creature's momentum carrying it forward. Robin reappeared behind the being, grabbing the other end of the sword and moving forward in a blur. With one end held under his arm and Robin swinging the other around, the demon found itself sliced in two by its own sword. Robin twirled the blade before sinking it into the ground. "And Steve talks about divide and conquer," he muttered dryly.

"They're facing overwhelming odds, they're fighting monsters and they're treating it all like a lark," Ivar said, shaking his head. "I tell you, it's not human."

"You're forgetting something," Scully pointed out. "They're not."

"No kidding," Johnny said, shaking his head. "I mean, Shaw's treating this like it's a day at Disneyland."

"Hey, these are enemies she fought for forty years before coming here," Amy pointed out. "There she got to fight demon ninjas, Cenobites, alien hunters, the Headless Horseman and the Greek God of War. To her, this is like going home again."

"I think you're starting to talk like her too much," Mulder remarked. "What does that mean?"

"To her, it *is* a vacation," Amy finished.

As if to prove her cousin's point, Shaw sliced the two blades across a troll, sending it down. She spun around, putting the sword back together into one single blade and twirling it over her head. Shaw jammed one blade of her sword right under a tall troll's chin. She let out a grin as the blade separated, slicing his head apart.

"Nice," Liam said, raising an eyebrow and at the same time, letting loose a bolt of energy that blasted off the wings of a griffin.

"Decap with a twist," Shaw answered as she moved back into the fight.

"Is it wrong to be utterly terrified of that woman?" Johnny asked.

"Nah," Amy shrugged. "It just proves you're human."

<Hey, Rob, is it wrong to be more attracted to that woman the more she's terrifying?>

<In so many ways> Robin replied as he ducked an axe swing and smashed a palm into the troll's face.

In the air, Aideen zipped around, wings fluttering like mad as she dodged a shot from, ironically, a harpy, spinning around to let out a burst of magic of her own, sending the creature down with a nasty burn to her chest. Aideen turned and flew straight at another harpy, barreling on the speed as she came closer to the harpy, the creature's eyes going wide as it realized Aideen was on a direct crash course with her. At the last moment, Aideen kicked back, her feet flowing upwards and smashing into the harpy's head with such force, it instantly snapped the creature's neck.

Shaw ducked an axe swing and jabbed forward with her sword, the point slamming right out its back. Her smile suddenly cut off as a wave of pain came over her back. Shaw cried out as a large demon slashed at her back, opening a wide tear in her shirt and a cut on her back. A savage blow sent her down and onto her knees. Although it wasn't obvious to most of the crowd, the tear in her shirt exposed some of the scars on Shaw's back.

The demon looked over her, shaking his head. "I can smell alcohol on these assholes. What kind of people show up for a fight after drinking?"

His answer came in the form of a fist that smashed into his head so hard it literally came apart, leaving Liam standing there, wiping at his hand. "The dangerous kind, laddie," he smiled.

"Where did you come from?" Shaw asked.

"Well, mum and da were too drunk one night and five and a half months later......"

"Five and a half months?"

"I was two weeks premature. Sue me."

"Oh, hardcore!" Johnny yelled.

"Um, do you think it would be improper to throw up in the presence of royalty?" Joyce asked, looking queasy.

"I'm not taking chances," Mulder said.

"I'll be right back," Joyce answered, rushing off.

"Always wondered where they got the idea for Celebrity Deathmatch," Johnny remarked.

"Can't you take this seriously?" Amy asked.

Johnny looked at her. "I'm in the middle of a kingdom full of magical creatures, talking to an Amazon witch. I'm with seven people who live forever, four of whom used to wear magical armor and weapons, one an Amazon, the other blessed by powers by a faery. I'm also with the Immortal champion of an ancient tournament and two special forces soldiers, one of whom is a hot blonde, the other has mechanical enhancements on his arms. I'm watching two faeries, a leprechaun and a half-elven warrior fight a bunch of monsters for some mystic weapons. Should they win, we're going to go to another dimension to fight an evil faery, a witch, a sorcerer, an Emperor and an army of ninjas. If I stopped and thought seriously about everything I just said, I'd go nuts."

"Welcome to my world," Joyce said as she came back, rubbing at her mouth.

"Ye might want to cast a quick healing spell there, lass," Liam said gently.

"You are not wounded, Liam," Shaw frowned, looking at him.

Liam rolled his eyes. "Yer back is bleedin."

"I do not have time to bleed," Shaw sniffed. She tensed as she felt a tingle along her back, seeing Liam's hand back away. "Just the fresh cut and fixed the shirt," he said. "We can't have ye distracted now." He ran off to pick another opponent as Shaw stared, amazed at how such a simple act could make her feel so good.

"I don't know most fighters who have her moods," Liu said.

"Liu, serial killers don't have her moods," Sonya said. "I wonder if Washington ever had days like this."

"Valley Forge was rather difficult for him," Diedre answered.

Sonya stared at her. "Hold up. You knew George Washington?"

"I didn't stop fighting for freedom just with Kells," Diedre answered lightly.

Liam leapfrogged over an orgre, blasting with magics in mid-air to turn the creature into a rat, which was quickly squashed by an attacking troll. Liam froze in mid-air, legs snaking out to catch the creature by its neck. A wave of a hand and the ogre's feet were stuck fast to the floor unable to move. Liam held on tight with both legs smiling at the look on the thing's face. "Ever see a hurricarana?" He asked.

"Huh?" The ogre said.

"Consider this the intensified version," Liam grinned as he snapped backwards, legs still on the ogre's neck. With its feet frozen and Liam flipping back, there was only thing that could happen. There was a cracking and tearing sound and Liam landed on his feet, the troll's head bouncing and rolling off.

"See, now *this* would make pro football more interesting," Angus remarked.

Robin grabbed hold of a troll and spun him around and around at breakneck speed, turning into a blur. He let go, sending the troll flying over and into a pair of ogres, all three smashing into the wall.

"It's better than NASCAR and the WWF put together!" Johnny yelled with a grin.

The fighters were thinning out, far faster than Oberon had expected with only two flying opponents left for Aideen to face. The two were smart, circling at a distance to keep her from striking at both, both with spears ready to hurl at the faery. Aideen saw one tense up, a sign it was ready to strike. She glanced over and saw the other in the same position.

Aideen looked at the two coming at her from either direction and an idea hit her. "Sun Tzu said never rush a victor," she muttered. "At least I hope she did." She closed her eyes, realizing this was going to hurt.

As one, both fliers hurled their spears at Aideen. She waited until the last minute, then, teeth clenched together, she spun about, the spears ripping through each of her wings and shooting out so that each flyer was impaled by the other.

Even as she fell, trying to soften the descent as much as possible, Aideen had a savage grin of victory on her face, almost laughing even as she landed on the ground.

Above, Torc moved forward but this time, it was Rhoan's hand on his shoulder. "For once, take your own advice, Torc," he said. "Don't go crazy." Torc looked at his student and nodded in understanding.

As Robin and Liam's energies blasted away some of the remaining fighters, Shaw saw Lugad come up, tromping towards the battle, axe in hand. He swung and Shaw blocked it, sparks shining as the two traded blows. Shaw saw an opening and was ready to go for it when she glanced up at Rhoan and remembered what Aideen had said. Then she saw the look on Oberon's face and realized what the High Lord wanted to happen. A slow smile came onto Shaw's face as the idea hit her.

She spun around, slamming one end of her sword into Lugad's chest, just below the heart. Ignoring Rhoan's screams, she yanked it out, then pushed Lugad down. She moved over him, hands flowing over his body, energy covering him to create what Amy had called "the death's door spell," stabilizing Lugad's condition, catching him just at the moment his heart stopped and healing him.

Shaw stood up as Lugad moved a bit, glancing over to where Robin and Liam had an inventive method of handling the last, extremely large demon: Robin blasted him with energy, sending it staggering in one direction, spinning around for Liam to hit him with a magical bolt, sending him to Robin who repeated the process.

Shaw moved forward, breaking into a run as she leaped up, blade twirling overhead as she came forward and smashed it into the demon's chest, the blade erupting in flame as it caught him directly in the heart. Shaw twisted it, then yanked it out, allowing the last of their opponents to collapse forward, onto its face.

"Nice one, lass," Aideen grunted as she sat up. She concentrated, letting magic flow around her wings to start them healing. "No wonder Robbie's taken ye on."

"He has been.....an influence," Shaw smiled.

"Excuse me," Oberon's voice boomed. "It's not over." He pointed over to where Lugad was getting back to his feet. "He's still alive."

Shaw stood and moved towards Oberon, her face set. "We have won this challenge."

"The fight is to the death, young.....lady, although I use that term loosely, I can assure you," Oberon replied coldly.

"He did die," Shaw replied in a flat tone. "His breathing stopped and his heart ceased beating."

"So?" Oberon shrugged. "You healed him."

A slight smile came over Shaw's face. "By the laws of the mortal realm, once his body stopped functioning, he was legally dead. Look at Immortals, when they die and then return. They are still dead, however temporarily. This is what happened to Lugad."

Oberon opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by a laughing next to him. Startled, he turned to see Titania laughing in her throne as she looked at him.

"What is so funny?" he asked coldly.

"The fact that she is correct," Titania answered. "Mortal history is full of stories of people dying and being brought back to life. That is what she did here. She has outmaneuvered you, My Lord."

"But------"

"Are you going to go back on your word, Oberon?" Shaw cut him off. "We have fulfilled our end of the bargain, you are now bound by your oath to fulfill yours."

Oberon leaned forward, his eyes narrow and dangerous. "You should show me the proper respect due a King, Mielikkian."

"I do show proper respect to those who have earned it, *Oberon*," Shaw replied. "You are the Lord of the Faery Realm, yet you choose to be aloof and arrogant, thinking that everyone owes you respect, despite the fact that *as* their lord, you have the responsibility of protecting your subjects from threats to their lives. Which is what Kahn represents. But instead, you choose to do what is best for you and not your people. There is a human phrase that I am surprised you have not heard. With great power comes great responsibility. I would suggest you think on *that*."

She turned on her heel to walk back to the others as Oberon slowly fumed. "This is starting to become what may easily be the worst day of my life," he muttered darkly.

Shaw came back to the others, seeing Liam's magic start to heal Aideen's wings. "Great work, Shaw," Robin grinned.

"I only hope he has the sense to listen," Shaw nodded.

"Where'd you learn that phrase, lass?" Liam asked. "It's catchy."

"From a famous human."

"Washington? Lincoln? Shakespeare? Stormy?"

"No. Peter Parker."

Robin threw his head back and laughed as Liam and Aideen looked at him in confusion. "Who?" They both asked.

"Spider-Man," Robin grinned. "Great, compliment her on a speech, don't mention me maiming myself for the cause," Aideen said sardonically as she rose.

"Okay, thanks," Robin said as Aideen rose, rustling her wings a bit.

"For what?" Aideen said, still smarting.

"Well, now I don't have to hear Shaw brag about how she stabbed herself anymore," Robin smiled.

"I do not brag!" Shaw said, insulted.

"Oh, please, my people invented bragging, lass," Liam said. "I know how it sounds."

"And I assume you are a master at it," Shaw said dryly.

Liam turned to Robin with a grin. "See, Robbie, she does like me. She's gone from threats to compliments in only a day."

Oberon bit down on his lip as he tried to contain his anger. "Don't even try it," Titania said as she leaned in. "They won fair and square, Oberon. You know they did. If you don't keep to the word on a sacred tradition like this, I'll take it up with the Higher Powers and I know you don't want that."

Oberon stared at her, then closed his eyes.. Slowly, he rose up and walked to the edge of the arena, looking down at the four waiting fighters. Taking a deep breath, he spoke. "The challenge is ended. You have won. Take your prize."

Liam howled, arms lifted over his head. "YES! The Fightin' Faeries do the impossible!"

"Liam," Shaw said. "I owe you my life. But please do not ever refer to us in that fashion again."

There was a light cheer, no doubt muted due to the immense anger on Oberon's face, the king glaring down at those who did cheer. Robin looked up to see the woman Amy and Shaw had insulted giving him a smile of pure pride and felt a great swell in his chest.

"Yee and Hah!" Johnny yelled as the humans let out loud cheers. Oberon glared at them but they simply ignored him as the four fighters came up to them. Liam paused as the others moved forward, glancing back at Lugad. "Hey, lad?"

Lugad looked up at him.

"Come with me. I think there's someone who's been wanting to see you." Lugad paused before moving behind Liam, following the leprechaun over to the wall.

Robin and Aideen floated up to the ledge, Shaw between them, Robin and Aideen shifting back to normal human form as they landed. Torc immediately drew Aideen into a bear hug while Amy embraced and kissed Robin. "Just when I think you've hit the top," she grinned. "You outdo yourself."

"Story of my life," Robin said with a smile. He glanced over to see Liam arrive, Lugad behind him. Everyone moved back a bit as Rhoan came forward to look Lugad in the eye. "Hello, Lugad," he said softly.

Lugad bent his neck, peering at Rhoan, as if trying to recognize him. "Brother?" He asked in a deep voice. "Brother, you?"

"Great, Frankenstein meets Forrest Gump," Johnny muttered, then yelped as Sonya smacked him on the head.

"It is, Lugad," Rhoan said softly. "It is."

Lugad simply stood and stared at him for a long moment and Rhoan wondered if he truly understood what was happening. "Missed you," the creature finally said. Rhoan moved forward and embraced him, the two standing there, reunited after centuries. Aideen and Diedre wiped away tears as the other Knights smiled at seeing a little of Rhoan's pain finally alleviated.

"Oh, I'm not having you rub it in," Oberon said as he came up, face set in anger. "Follow me, get the weapons and then I want you all out of my kingdom."

"Always were a sore loser, Obe," Liam remarked.

Oberon glared at him, then at Robin. "The offer is still open, Goodfellow," he said. "Even with these weapons, the humans have no chance of beating Outworld."

"I've learned something living among them, my Lord," Robin said tightly. "Something that will give them the advantage come what may. Something that will always win out in the end."

"Which is?" Oberon said tightly.

"Hope," Robin replied.

Oberon stared at him and sniffed, turning away. "You want your trinkets, come with me," he called out. The Knights looked at one another and followed, Torc and Aideen coming up behind them.

"Ah, now that was fun," Liam grinned. "How long has it been since I got to let loose like that?"

"I do not wish to know," Shaw replied. She looked to Liam with curiosity. "Liam....." Shaw started. "I understand about the birth comment. I myself was a month and a half premature, or so I am told."

"You were born in only seven and a half months?" Amy said in surprise.

Shaw stared at her as if Amy was crazy. "No, twenty-two and a half months. The normal term of pregnancy for an elven female is two years."

"Two years?!" Amy said in shock.

"Yes."

"Your mother carried you in the womb for nearly two years?" Amy said in disbelief. "I can't imagine the weight or the cravings by the end of it all."

Shaw chuckled, then sobered, as she looked over at Liam. "Liam.....You saw my back."

Liam's face set in resolve as he nodded. "I did."

"You did not seem to care about them." If one listened closely, they could hear a slight tremor in her voice. Liam looked at her, looking past the layers to see the old pain in her eyes.

"Shaw, one of my wives was blind. The other had her face scarred in a fire. Some of them were by most men's standard, plain-looking. I didn't care, I loved them all. I don't look at surface appearances, Shaw. I find the true beauty to be from within."

Shaw looked up at him for a long moment, then moved and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thank you."

She walked off, Liam watching her go as Robin and Amy came behind him. Amy extended a hand and shook Liam's. "That's for helping us." She then moved in and kissed him on the other cheek. "That's for helping Shaw."

"Liam, I don't think I've ever seen you do a finer thing," Robin said, shaking his head.

"Ah, don't let it get out. I have a rep to maintain, you know." He looked over to where the Knights had gone and nodded forward. "Come on, let's go catch up. Sooner they get the gear, sooner we're gone."

The humans moved away, none of them aware of the figure following behind them at a distance.

*****

Oberon led the Knights away from the arena and down a large hallway. He paused at what appeared to be a simple pillar along the walls and waved his hand. An opening appeared like magic, showing a large room filled with gold, jewels and other treasures.

"Stop drooling," Rhoan told Angus as he walked inside. Oberon paused before a large case, lifting it outwards and setting it on a table, all without touching it. At a flick of his fingers, the case opened up. The Knights slowly came around and looked down, each feeling a thrill at the contents.

They were simple: A large broadsword much like Rhoan's. A crossbow. A mace. A trident. Two axes. But for the Knights, they were much more. They were a link to their pasts as well as a symbol of the trust and honor of all of Tir Na Nog.

Rhoan lifted his sword up, hefting it in his hands as Diedre took her crossbow, balancing it out. "Feels the same," she remarked. As Ivar and Angus took their weapons, Rhoan's hand moved towards Garrett's axes. "You don't have a bearer for those," Oberon stated.

Rhoan looked up at him darkly. "The bargain was for all the Mystic Weapons," he stated. "They belonged to a friend. And don't even think of trying to stop us from taking them."

Oberon stared at him for long moments before looking away and letting the Knights take back what was once theirs.

*****

In the hallway outside, Robin had moved ahead with the others, with Amy, Mulder and Scully holding up the back. The trio were admiring the designs of the hallway, all rather interested in the other-dimensional aspects for their own reasons, the sights slowing them down enough for them to fall behind a bit.

"Too bad we've got rules," Amy sighed. "I'd love to snag that vase there for the house."

"They do have nice work here." The three turned to see a woman standing before them. She had long curly hair and a light smile and appeared human except for the odd mask-like design around her face. "I like to browse now and then," she smiled at the three.

"You a faery?" Mulder asked.

"No," the woman replied. "But I do have.....connections to them. In fact, one of them gave me a little charm I enjoy."

The woman's hand came out of her robe, a fist tight around something. She opened it, allowing the trio to see a bright green emerald lying in the middle of her palm. The instant they saw it, the three were transfixed, the emerald glowing and pulsing with energy that captivated the three humans. Amy's magical defenses were blasted aside like they weren't there, her eyes widening as did Mulder and Scully's, the power of the emerald washing over their minds, dulling their thoughts and wills and in seconds had entranced them all.

Maeve's smile turned to evil as she watched her gem do its work. "Come with me," she stated, turning and walking off. Mindlessly, Mulder, Scully and Amy followed, their faces and eyes blank as the witch led them away.

*****

"Your home is.....interesting, Robin," Shaw remarked as the group headed down the hallway to where the Knights were.

"Thanks," Robin smiled. "I know, first time you guys have been here, it always knocks them over. What do you think, Amy?" He turned and saw her gone. "Amy?" He frowned.

"Hey, where'd the Feds go?" Jax said as the group stopped.

"They are gone," Sub-Zero said, suddenly appearing behind them, causing them all to jump.

"How does he do that?" Sonya asked.

"Like this," Johnny said. "They are gone," he went on in a truly lame Sub-Zero impression.

"I last saw them near the corner," Sub-Zero stated. "They were with a woman with dark curly hair and an odd mark around her eyes.

"Really?" Liam smiled. "Funny, that sounds almost like Maeve."

"Yeah, right," Robin scoffed. "The guys know how to avoid danger, right?"

"Oh, they know what Maeve looks like?" Joyce said.

"Yeah, Liam told them," Robin nodded.

"No, I didn't," Liam frowned. "Didn't you?"

"No," Robin frowned. The two looked at one another and their eyes widened. As one, they turned towards the way they came only to have it blocked.

"Hello," Mider smiled. His hands flashed out, each nail slicing a cut on Robin and Liam's cheeks. Mider brought the nails together over two separate vials hanging in mid air, allowing the blood to drip into them. "Pleasure doing business with you," Mider grinned as he vanished.

A rumble went through the hallway, one that was familiar to all. "Oh, shit," Robin whispered as he and Liam broke into a run, Shaw close behind them. The three raced around the corner to see an open portal in the hallway. A blank faced Amy, Scully and Mulder were walking through it, following Maeve, who held the gem in her palm as a lure.

The witch looked up at the three who were frozen in shock. "Look at the bright side, leprechaun," she called out. "Your people get to throw the biggest wake in history. That should be a bonus." She stepped into the portal, the others already gone, her laugh cackling through the hallway even as the portal winked out of existence.

"NOOOOO!!!" Shaw screamed, running forward to the point where the portal was. She stopped as the last parts of it winked out of existence, slowly falling onto her knees, tears beginning to streak her cheeks as she realized her cousin was now in Outworld's hands. Robin's face was ashen as he stepped up, staring in disbelief at where Amy had vanished, for the first time feeling the immense tearing in his heart at the thought of her in danger.

"What the bloody hell is going on?" Rhoan asked as they ran up. "Oberon pops out, the door shuts on us, what's up?'

"Maeve was here," Liam stated in a dark voice.

"Mother?" Lugad frowned.

"Don't remind me," Rhoan sighed. "What did she do?"

"She got Amy and Mulder and Scully, ported them out to Outworld."

"Shit!" Angus yelled. "How? How'd she get them?'

"When we came up, they were all looking at this gem she was holding," Liam explained. He spared a glance to Robin who was slowly moving towards Shaw. He was surprised to see Joyce follow right behind.

"Oh, damn, not that mesmerizing spell AGAIN!" Diedre groaned. "Dammit, she keeps getting us with that!"

"She's a sucker for the classics," Torc said darkly.

Nearby, Robin knelt by Shaw, putting an arm on Shaw's shoulders. "Shaw?"

"She took her, Robin," Shaw said hoarsely. "She took them and I could do nothing. Just stand here and watch. I felt so.....so....helpless."

"Now you know how I've felt the last twenty-four hours," Joyce said as she came behind them. She leaned down and looked at both. "I know this is hard but you two need to hold it in. Now more than ever. For the others at least, if not just for yourselves. Please."

Shaw looked up and moved, instinctively hugging Joyce as she rose. She broke away to hug Robin, the two drawing strength as they moved back to the others.

"Okay, I don't get this," Liu said. "She got those three, fine. But why didn't Mider try to get you two? All he did was cut you."

"Cut....." Robin said, rubbing at his magically healed face. His eyes went wide as it hit him. "Oh My God. Liam, the blood."

"What about it?" Liam frowned.

Robin moved forward, gripping him by the arms and looking at him with wide eyes. "The blood, Liam! The blood! Remember what Callie said?"

Liam's face fell as his eyes widened. "Oh My God." He looked over to the others. "You are in the presence of the two greatest fools in the Eternal realms."

"I had long suspected as much," Diedre remarked.

"I think we're in the presence of the two greatest lunatics," Sonya remarked. "What is this?"

Robin closed his eyes and sighed. "Callie said what they needed was the *blood* of two jester faeries. Kahn didn't need us, just the blood which Mider got."

There was a long pause and everyone realized what he was saying. "You mean....." Liu started.

"He's got the blood," Robin said hoarsely. "He's got the guys. Kahn's got everything he needs to do the sacrifice and start the merger between Earth and Outworld."

"Oh, shit," Joyce whispered.

"Christ, I knew this was going to happen," Sonya said. "Amateurs."

"Damn, girl, give it a rest!" Jax yelled. Sonya stared at him in shock as he went on. "Have you been talking to them? Those three have been through fights that make what we've gone through look like a trip to Disney World. They've got empowerments, they're strong, they're smart, two of them are Immortal. Just because they're not Marines is no reason we should be getting on their cases."

"I knew there was a reason I liked you," Ivar said with a slight smile.

"Hey," Sonya said defensively. "Just because they were stupid enough to get caught----"

Shaw's fist came forward and punched Sonya in the jaw, knocking her back. Robin and Joyce grabbed her and held her back as she lunged towards Sonya. "That is my kin and my friends you are talking about, you bitch! And if you think I am about to let you desert them----

"Desert them?" Sonya said, insulted. "Hell, no, we're going to go after them."

"What?" Shaw asked, taken aback.

Sonya slowly rose and looked at her. "Whatever else you think of me, I'm a Marine. We never leave anyone behind. Cardinal rule."

Shaw slowly calmed down as she stared at Sonya. "Well. A sense of duty. We finally see one of the qualities the others talk about."

"Duty my ass," Sonya hissed. "You want to know why I ended up in the Tournament? I was tracking down Kano, a mobster. He killed my partner, and I went to kill him and I did."

"So, you were in it just for revenge?" Shaw asked.

Sonya moved forward, emotion on her face, everyone else forgotten. "I was in it for love, Hunter."

"Love, Sonya?" Shaw said doubtfully. "Why do I find that hard to believe concerning you?"

Sonya moved into Shaw's face. "Let me tell you something, bitch. He was the first and only man I ever let myself get close to. He was the only man I've ever made love to. He was the man who made me happy and Kano ripped him away from me."

Johnny looked over at Jax, the Marine nodding in acknowledgment.

Shaw looked at Sonya's face, raw emotion eking out past her cold facade.......and felt like she was looking into a mirror and seeing herself not too long ago. "You were happy with him?" she said softly.

"The best two damn years of my life," Sonya replied quietly.

"I understand," Shaw said gently.

"Oh, right," Sonya scoffed.

The edge was back in Shaw's voice as she spoke. "If I were you, I would be thanking whatever God you believe in that you were given more than two Goddess-blasted weeks to realize you were in love before your love was ripped away from you. At least you were allowed the chance to be happy. I was not given that consideration."

"YOU were in love? I-----" Sonya's disbelief cut off as she saw Shaw's eyes and, as Shaw had, felt she was looking into a mirror. "You're serious."

"Yes," Shaw said. "And I as I said, I consider you blessed that you had that long to be happy. But I can tell you something. Killing Kano could not have brought an end to your pain. Only you can do that. And until you do, you will not be happy again. Believe me, I know this from personal experience."

There was a long moment of silence as everyone just looked at the two, a moment of understanding coming over both.

"I've got a plan," Robin announced.

"Suddenly my entire life is flashing before my eyes," Johnny said.

"Mine too," Angus nodded.

"Yeah, but yours takes about five minutes to flash," Johnny pointed out.

"There is only one plan," Shaw said. "Send me back."

Robin and Liam stared at her in shock. "What?" Robin asked.

"Send me back!" Shaw said, tears in her eyes.

"I knew you were a bloody maniac, but I didn't think you were a fool!" Liam yelled.

"Send me back now!" Shaw screamed.

"Shaw, it'd be suicide!" Robin barked.

"I have done this sort of thing, before, Goodfellow," Shaw said, the use of Robin's last name showing she was near the boiling point.

"Lass, do ye realize what you'd be trying to do?" Liam said in disbelief. "Ye'd be------"

"Fighting a hopeless, lonely, one woman war with no hope of victory against overwhelming odds and an insurmountable number of evil minions, where my best hope would be to survive each day or night, with only the slightest hope that I might find allies in that fight?"

"Well. Yeah. Something like that," Liam stammered.

"I have done it before, Danahure," Shaw said darkly. "Falkovnia, Gundarak, Kartakass, Halzan, Sithicus, Barovi. Shall I go on?"

"Shaw....." Robin licked his lips. "Outworld's more dangerous than any of those."

"Than what do I do, Robin?!" She didn't even try to hide her tears now. "Amy is gone, Steve, Buffy and the rest are going to die and the world with them! What can we do?"

"We take the only option we can," Robin said. "Liam, call up McAllister and get as many of your kind here as possible. Aideen, you do the same with Fin Varra. Get everyone you can over here now."

"Why?" Liam asked.

"Because the situation is not hopeless," Robin said.

"Robin's right!" Liam yelled. He paused, looked at his friend, then back to the others. "I have absolutely no idea why but he's right!"

"Okay," Robin said, taking a breath. "They may have an Immortal sorcerer of godlike power------"

"They do," Liu nodded.

"And a ruthless henchman who sucks out souls-----"

"They do," Sonya nodded.

"And the most powerful lord of the dark faery arts--------"

"They got him," Angus nodded.

"And an incredibly powerful witch------"

"Let me think.....Yeah," Rhoan nodded.

"And a massive army of super-powered ninjas------"

"Yep, them too," Jax nodded.

"But we've got one thing they haven't got," Robin finished.

"Enough sense to turn and run for the hills while we can?" Johnny said.

"No," Robin said, shaking his head, face set in steely resolve. "We've got more to fight for then they can ever hope to have. We're fighting for a planet and we've got the will to do it."

"So, what do we do?" Johnny asked.

"The only thing we can do," Robin said solemnly. "We're going to save the frickin' day."

*****

Part 9: In which evil gloats, good consolidates, respect is gained and preparations for war begin

"Into the Fire" is from "The Scarlet Pimpernel," music and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton, 1997.

Amy's eyes blinked, her head shaking as she tried to get her bearings. She blinked a few more times, tearing up a bit as if she'd been staring for a long while. She tried to move but found she couldn't, something was holding her back, something that felt like a weird free-flowing surface, her hands, feet and part of her torso exposed but the rest covered.

A groan caught her attention and she turned her best the best she could to see Mulder also shaking his head. Scully was next to him, staring blankly outward but with a start, blinked, her face gaining animation as she let out a groan too. "What-----what's going on------"

"Hi, guys," Xander, Cordelia, Willow, Oz and Buffy groaned. The three realized they were all trapped within a strange prison that looked suspiciously like a really bad art deco piece.

"Well, well, well," a booming voice went out. They all looked up to see a foursome standing before them, all smiling, the woman who had shown them the gem right in front. "I compliment you, Maeve," the man on the throne said. "You succeeded where I failed."

"Remember that when conquering time comes around," the woman smiled.

"Who the hell-----" Scully started.

"Well, the guy on the throne who looks like Ming the Merciless on steroids is Shao Kahn," Xander started. "The Fu Manchu wannabe is Shang Tsung, the guy who hasn't had a manicure or haircut in the last thousand years is Mider and the psycho freak with the racoon makeup is Maeve."

"Oh, shit," Amy whispered, realizing just what was happening.

"Couldn't have said it better myself," Maeve smiled. "Welcome to Outworld. Please, make yourselves at home."

"Pass, thanks," Mulder said. He looked them all over. "All right. You are all under arrest for.....oh, hell, for breaking just about every law that ever existed."

"Wit," Maeve said with a smile. "An admirable trait. For those who want it."

"Nice lady," Mulder muttered.

"Woman's a great houseguest," Xander said. "Kind of like Martha Stewart. Only really intense, ice cold, domineering, scary as hell......." He paused, craning his neck. "Actually, yeah, she's just like Martha Stewart." He let out a yell as Maeve blasted him again with the staff.

Mulder looked at Xander, then at Maeve. "Hey, now that we know who you are, maybe you could take the mask off?"

"This is a birthmark, you idiot," Maeve hissed, rubbing at her eyes.

"I'm talking about your whole face," Mulder said. He then yelled as Maeve blasted him with magic.

"Thanks," Xander sighed. "I needed the break."

"No.......problem......" Mulder bit out. He glanced back to Maeve. "Say.....are you supposed to be Catwoman or the Riddler?" That remark rewarded him another blast.

"You know, Maeve, maybe you should just make another staff," Mider suggested. "Then you could blast them both at once."

Scully shook her head, confused. "God, what happened? The last thing I remember is staring into some gem and then-------"

"I think she put the whammy on us," Mulder told his wife.

Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder, there has to be a better name for it than that."

"Actually, no, he's right," Maeve said, holding up a spell book. "It says right here, the Whammy."

"Goddess, it was killer," Amy said, shaking her head.

"Oh, don't talk to us," Giles said bitterly. "You three just got hypnotized. First, we had the living hell beaten out of us and we've been strung up here for the last day."

"One day?" Scully frowned. "It's been two full nights since this started."

"I hate dimensional time differences," Steve groaned.

"Well, it's been a rough few days on our end," Amy remarked.

"We ain't exactly been sipping champagne in the hot tub here, sister," Cordelia barked out.

"Why didn't you just mesmerize that dammanable half-elf while you were at it and get her to slit her own throat?" Shang hissed at Maeve.

"The same reason you couldn't shape-shift yourself into someone they'd trust," Maeve answered evenly. "My powers aren't at full strength and I need to consolidate my energies."

Had anyone been watching, they would have seen Mulder and Xander sharing a brief, knowing smile and wink.

"Besides," Maeve went on. "Elvens are notable for dammanable tough wills. It would have taken a lot to put her under and quite frankly, we didn't need her."

"Lucky Shaw," Cordelia muttered.

"Plus, the magics in that realm are rather chaotic," Maeve said. "It took a lot just to create a portal and get in there. At that, the best I could do was put them under enough to get them to follow me." She glanced up at the three new arrivals and leered. "Too bad we were cut short. The three of you under my control......We could have had fun."

She stuck out her tongue and slowly licked her upper lip as everyone stared at her. "Okay, I think I speak for everyone here when I say EEEEEWWWW!" Willow grimaced.

"Well, no wonder she uses it so much," Mulder sniffed. "Only way she can get any." He yelled as Maeve blasted him with her staff.

"Ah, you should have imagined the times the Marquis de Sade and I had," Maeve said. She closed her eyes and sighed, rubbing her body against her staff in a rather disconcerting way.

"All right, now I'm getting disgusted," Mider said.

"Hey, I've had it worse," Willow sighed.

"Really?" Maeve said, opening her eyes. "How is that?"

Xander sighed and shook his head. "Will, you've got to get over being freaked out about that."

"What?" Mider asked. "Something that disgusts an Amazon like that has to be worth hearing about."

"Good, going, Willow," Cordelia groaned. "Now we have to tell them about it."

"About what?" Shang asked, intrigued despite himself.

Buffy sighed. "You guys ever heard of alternate realities? You know, the whole 'what if' thing where stuff is different?"

The witch, the faery and the sorcerer looked at each other in surprise then back at the others. "How do you know about that?" Shang asked.

"Kind of ran into one a while back," Buffy said. "I didn't go to Sunnydale and things just spun out of control from there."

"Like?" Maeve asked.

"Well," Xander said, taking a breath. "Here you have an Amazon witch who's a master computer hacker. In *that* universe, Willow's a bisexual leather-wearing vampire with her soul restored who's sleeping with the other me, who's a Fonzie-jacket-wearing vampire with his soul restored only he's straight and occasionally participates in a threesome with that Amy, who's an Amazon witch only bisexual there."

There was a long pause as the group took that in. "I just might have to check this out sometime," Maeve announced, managing to disgust Mider and Shang as she closed her eyes and began to think about the possibilities.

"Wonderful," Shang sighed. "Just wonderful. The one bi in the bunch and she's not an Amazon."

"Oh, great," Cordelia sighed. "Someone *finally* doesn't think of us as lesbians and it's the bad guys."

Mider glanced to Maeve, who was rubbing herself against her staff again. "Maeve?" Maeve didn't appear to hear him, lost in memories the others were quite happy to let her have. "Maeve?" He sighed and moved in close. "MAEVE!"

"What?" she asked, startled.

Mider sighed. "I appreciate you want to take a trip down memory lane but at what point did it slip your mind that WE'RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!"

"Yeah, that's gonna happen," Steve grinned. "You guys have no idea what you're messing with. When you make your move, JP and Merlin will be on your ass so fast--------"

"I don't think so," Kahn said. He horrified everyone by smiling. "You see, they won't know anything until the merger begins and once it does, it will be far, far too late."

"An interesting little side effect of the merger," Shang smiled. "Once it begins, Outworld will take dominance and overwhelm all earthly magics. Which means your precious wizards will have the combined actual magic powers of Siegfried and Roy."

"See?" Maeve said to Mider, smiling. "*Him* I can teach pop culture to."

Amy glared out at the villains. "You only think you've caught us."

"Really?" Kahn said. "My, what an incredible imagination I must have."

"It won't work," Amy said. "We already heard what you need. You need Robin and Liam and you haven't got them."

Smiling, Mider waved his hands and produced two small vials of a red liquid. "My dear, we don't need them. We never did. All we needed was their blood, which we have. And as soon as the time comes and the Hellmouth is at full peak strength needed, we sacrifice you all, the energies flow into our portal and Outworld is merged with Earth."

He paused as he took in the expressions on their faces and turned to Shang. "You know, I have to say, it does feel good to tell them the plan. The looks on their faces are priceless."

"Artemis isn't going to let this happen," Cordelia said. "When she finds out------"

"Um, Cordy," Amy said hesitantly. "She already knows. And she can't help."

Everyone looked at her in shock. "What?" Cordy choked out.

"Zeus made a deal to stay away from Outworld," Amy sighed. "She can't break his command to interfere, no matter what."

"Wait a minute, you mean Kahn was actually telling the truth about that?" Oz asked.

"As world view shattering as that realization is, yep," Mulder nodded.

"Shhh," Maeve said, holding up a finger as she bent her head. "If you listen closely, you can actually hear their hopes being shattered."

"Hey, Maeve," Mulder said, glaring at her. "I'm curious. How does it feel to replace Judas Iscariot as the greatest traitor in the history of mankind?"

Maeve just gave a small smile. "As I once told Cardinal Richelieu, treason is merely a matter of dates. And this is going to be a big one for me."

"Oh, are you in for it," Xander said with an evil grin.

"Really?" Maeve smiled. "You still have hopes your comrades will rescue you?"

"Call it inside info," Xander replied. "Trust me."

Maeve laughed in disbelief. "Do you truly think the exile and that little half-breed will have any chance of freeing you?"

Xander glanced over at Amy. "Amy, how'd she catch you?"

Amy was taken aback a bit by Xander's seemingly jovial manner about this. "Well, Maeve put the Whammy on us, had us step through the portal and stuck us in here."

Xander nodded and looked back at Maeve. "Start writing your will, bitch."

"And why is that?" Maeve asked, spinning her staff in readiness.

Xander nodded towards Giles. "As the Watcher. He can tell you."

"I beg your pardon?" Giles said, appearing a bit afraid at being dragged into this conversation.

"You write down stuff on our fights, right?" Xander asked. "Cause of the Watcher gig."

"Well, of course, but I------"

"Good," Xander cut him off, turning back to Maeve. "Okay, Maeve, go in the office and look up the books on November last year, specifically when we were in New York."

"Why would I want to do that?" Maeve asked, sounding bored.

"Well, last year, one certain half-breed went loco on people trying to kill her friends."

"And what does that have to do with us?" Shang asked.

Cordelia suddenly grinned as she saw what direction Xander was going. "Well, you read that stuff, which grosses *us* out, and imagine what Shaw's gonna do to Maeve for kidnaping her cousin."

Maeve decided to call her bluff. "Oh, really. And just who would that be?"

Shang and Mider exchanged nervous glances as Amy smiled, also seeing where this was going. "That would be me, bitch."

Maeve stared at her and rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. That is even more pathetic than the Slayer being Aderron's daughter......."

"They speak the truth, Maeve," Shang sighed. "The half-elf and the Amazon are kin."

"What?" Maeve said, stunned.

"Did you actually *read* the files on these people you boast about so much?" Mider sighed. "And even half-breeds take family ties very seriously. Perhaps you should do as they suggest and read those Diaries. It might give her a chance to predict her actions."

"Yes, know thy enemies," Shang nodded. "Good idea, Mider."

Maeve looked at the two "allies" and at the smug Slayerettes, then turned and started to walk away. "So, gonna get your face done?" Mulder called out. "Or don't you have time before the millennium?" His yell flowed into her ears as Maeve left the room.

As soon as she was gone, Shang and Mider turned to the prisoners. "Would you care to tell us just what your friend did?" Shang said in a rather unpleasant tone that carried a great hint of worry.

"Yes, please," Mider said, a bit less concerned. "I would like to know what this bastard from a backward dimension did. It should be quite amusing."

"First of all, she's a bitch, not a bastard," Amy smiled.

"Actually, she whooped two people's asses," Xander answered. "She cut off the Headless Horseman's arm and leg and, the next day, someone tried to kill me and Cordy------"

"I can't imagine why," Shang said dryly.

"Shaw didn't like that, so she stabbed him in the ass with these blade gauntlets and then Amy hit him with a lightning bolt."

Shang frowned. "Anyone can resort to mere weapons."

"It's not what she did," Xander smiled. "It's who she did it to. And what she did after."

"And exactly what would that be?" Mider asked.

"Ares," Jenny answered, not wanting to be left out of the fun.

"And you'd love what she forced him to agree to do, to avoid Shaw making him eat his part of his family jewels like a hot dog and having his butt corked with the other parts," Buffy added.

Shang was looking a little less than well by this point. "What was that?"

"Going to Hell and being raped by a demon for a full Earth day," Steve threw in. "And he made the agreement in Zeus' name."

Shang and Mider looked at each other with wide eyes. "If I were you," Shang stated. "I'd stay well away from Maeve when this is over."

"Way ahead of you," Mider nodded

On his throne, Kahn rolled his eyes. "Idiots," he muttered. "I'm trying to take over a realm with the aid of idiots." He shook his head. "Mider? If that idiot half-breed tries anything, bring her to me." He looked up at the others, his horrific smile once again on his lips. "I truly think it proper the last sight you have on this earth is me ripping her head from her shoulders. Call it the poet in me."

*****

The Faery Kingdom

"Well, if this ain't a SAFU situation, I don't know what is," Jax sighed as he paced the hallway.

"And people say I'm downbeat," Ivar said dryly. The Kombateers and the Knights were close together, watching nearby as Robin and Shaw just stood quietly, each lost to thoughts. Joyce was at a distance but close enough to be with them if needed. Both Aideen and Liam were gone, the former to Tir Na Nog, the latter to the Leprechaun Glens, both to try and gather people for Robin's plans.

"Oh, the Lady protect them," Shaw whispered. "Protect them all because I do not know if we can."

"We can," Robin said in a light tone. "We will. We'll get them back, Shaw, I promise you."

Shaw wiped at her face. "Damn it, Robin. Seeing Amy gone, just like that----I felt like----"

"Like part of your heart was ripped out," Robin supplied. "Like something you cared for a lot was gone and you didn't think you'd ever get it back."

Shaw turned and looked at him carefully. "You love her, don't you?"

Robin rolled his eyes. "God, does everyone else know?"

" I do not believe she does," Shaw said gently. "Have you told her?'

"No," Robin sighed. "I only realized it myself a little while ago."

"You have been living in denial, Robin," Shaw said softly.

"Shaw, I've never felt this way about any woman and I've been with a ton of them."

Shaw raised an eyebrow out at him.

"Well, not a ton, a lot," Robin stammered. Shaw continued to stare at him. "Actually, I wouldn't say a lot. Just a few....dozen....dozen.....dozen....."

Shaw shook her head. "Robin, you should really think of telling her soon. Don't wait until it is too late to let your true feelings be revealed."

Robin looked at her and nodded. "That's good advice, Shaw. Maybe you should consider it for yourself."

"What do you mean?" Shaw frowned.

"Now, who's living in denial?" Robin smiled.

"I fail to gather your meaning.

Robin sighed. "Shaw, don't take this the wrong way but for a woman who's so strong and self-sufficient, you can be kind of stupid with some things."

Shaw's face darkened. "I do not know any way except the wrong way to take that, Robin."

Robin held her arm gently. "Liam likes you, Shaw. He likes you a lot. You should consider opening up a little with him. He'd be good for you. "

Shaw shook her head. "I am not sure if I can consider that, Robin."

"It would stop Amy and Cordelia from setting you up with guys."

"I will consider it." She sighed and shook her head. "I cannot lose her, Robin."

"Come on, Shaw, we can't despair."

"Despair?" Shaw said bitterly, turning to him. "Do you think I'm feeling despair? Look into my eyes and tell me if you see despair."

Robin looked carefully at her. "I see a short, Irish stranger. Fond of pranks and a fine faery named Goodfellow....." He broke off, seeing something else. "Oh, shit. Shaw, please don't do that."

"I will not," Shaw said, breaking away. "I know who the target of my wrath will be. Maeve is mine."

"Now wait a minute, Shaw," Robin said in a tight tone. "Our first priority will be freeing the others."

"Robin------"

"Shaw," he interrupted. "Your job will be getting the others freed. I don't know what Mider has them in but I'm betting that swords our best way of cutting through it. That's what your job, that's what you have to do."

"And then Maeve is mine," Shaw hissed.

"No, you don't get it," Robin said. "You've got more important things to do."

"More important than ripping that woman in half?" Shaw said.

Robin sighed. "Maybe you don't get what I'm saying. Shaw, we need to stop the sacrifice the minute we get there. Freeing the others ends that threat and gets fighters on our side too. If their prison is mystical, and I'm betting it is, that sword and your fire are the best bets on breaking it. After that, take whoever comes your way."

Shaw shook her head. "I have a right to vengeance, Robin."

"That only works if they're dead, Shaw and we're not going to let that happen," Robin said, looking her hard in the eye. "They're my family too, Shaw, I've known them longer than you have. I care for all them as much as you do, especially Amy. That's why I need someone I can count on to break them out."

Shaw took a breath as she realized how much trust Robin was placing in her. "And afterwards? If I do find Maeve?"

A wicked little smile came over Robin's face. "Use your imagination. I'm sure you'll think of something nice."

"And if anyone tries to bar my path?" Shaw said.

"You may have to do the one thing you don't want to do."

"Which would be?"

"Cut loose with *everything* you have and go full-scale buck-fuck," Robin said coldly.

The coldness of his voice matched that in Shaw's eyes. "Believe me, that will *not* be a problem." She moved away, sighing as the group came up behind Robin.

"Yo, Rob," Jax said.

"Yeah?" The faery replied in a tight voice.

"What's up with the kid?" Jax asked. "She looks like my drill sergeant when I fucked up in boot camp."

Robin took a deep breath and sighed. "What we have here is a half-human, half-elven medicine woman who has a deep fear of being magically paralyzed, restrained or what have you. Sort of a claustrophobia thing. It happened to her one time, and she went through some major shit."

"What?" Sonya asked.

A look of sadness came over Diedre's eyes. "Being cup up on her back for nearly one straight day."

Everyone stared at her in shock. "She showed me," Diedre said quietly. "It's.....it's not pretty, believe me on that."

"That's why she's got the temper?" Johnny asked.

"No," Robin said sadly. "That comes from the fact that vamps offed her family *while* she was being cut up."

"Aw, man, in front of her?" Johnny asked, looking sick.

"Hundreds of miles away,' Robin shook his head. "Anyway, Amy's her cousin and the last she had of Amy, who's my girlfriend, by the way, was of her being put under a spell and teleported to what's passing for Outworld these days.

"And this is leading where?" Sonya asked.

Robin took a deep breath. "Well, let's just say the one thing she won't do is turn into a green-skinned reject from American Gladiators."

"Hey, don't trash American Gladiators, I liked that show," Jax remarked.

"She'll go berserk?" Liu asked.

"Yep," Robin nodded. "And consider the fact that this is with six months or so of Shao Lin influence."

"She'll still go berserk."

"But she'll be the most focused berserker ever," Robin clarified. "And she'll be focused on freeing her family. And if anyone bars her way......it ain't gonna be pretty."

A flash of light filled the hallway and everyone turned to see Liam walking forward. "Right, called McAllister and a few favors, should have a good size turnout," he said. He glanced over to where Robin was walking towards Shaw and Joyce. "Rob? Aideen check back yet?"

"Not yet," Robin sighed. "Just hope we can do this in time. If we don't get there in time, Kahn will be so strong that not even the combined armies of the three main Faery Lands can stop him."

Liam nodded slowly. "Well, thanks for the cheerful thought, Rob. I'd better handle the pep talk."

"Hey, in the words of Starship, it's not over til it's over."

"I thought Yogi Berra said that."

"Well, Yogi couldn't sing worth a damn so never mind."

Shaw sighed and shook her head, the pain of the loss of Amy coming back to her. "The Lady help her. The Lady help them all."

"Not the Lady, Shaw," Joyce's voice came from behind them. "Us."

Robin and Shaw looked at her, startled by the steely edge in her voice. "Us?" Shaw asked doubtfully. "Joyce, you do not have any powers. Maeve is------"

"A woman who's threatened my home, my friends and my daughter," Joyce said, her jaw set. " I am not going to sit on the sidelines on this one. Don't worry, I'm not going to rush off and I'm not going to do anything stupid. I'll try to keep out of trouble but if I see an opportunity......then that bitch is going down."

Robin shook his head at her angry expression. "Great, Shaw's coming apart and Joyce is out for blood." He moved to Liam. "Liam, I need a favor. I need you to talk to Shaw."

"Ye want me to calm her down?" Liam asked.

"I don't want her calm, I want her ready to rip walls apart with her bare hands," Robin said. "I want her pissed off and I figure if anyone can do that, it's you."

Liam raised an eyebrow. "Nice to have my skills recognized." He looked over to where Shaw was. "Lass, I think we need to talk."

"We have nothing to talk about," Shaw replied. "You have no idea what I am feeling."

A dark look passed in Liam's eyes. Without a word, he moved forward, taking Shaw by the shoulder and in a flash they were gone. "What----" Joyce started.

"Don't worry," Robin said. "They'll be okay, trust me."

"I still say we should try contacting someone military," Sonya said as the rest of the group stood near the corner of the hallway. "I'd feel a lot better with a Marine division at my back."

"Even if we could get into Outworld, normal soldier would have little chance against Kahn's forces," Liu stated. "Believe me, Kitana's told me about worlds much more advanced then ours that stood little chance when Kahn began attacking them."

"So, your precious military wouldn't have a chance then," Diedre said. "Much like Vietnam."

"Hey, I already told you, we never-----"

"Stop it!" Liu interrupted Sonya. "Can we stop these foolish arguments? The fate of the world depends on us working together!"

"You're quite correct, laddie," a voice came from behind them. They all turned to see a woman leaning against the wall of the hallway next to theirs, wearing a brilliant dress with long curly red hair. "Callieway Burton," the woman introduced herself with a smile.

"Where'd you come from?" Sonya asked.

"Ireland," Callie shrugged. "But that's not important. What is important is that all of you need to start pulling your heads out of your asses and decide whether or not this world matters to you."

"Now, wait------"

"We don't have a minute, Sonya," Callie said in a clipped tone. "When Robbie starts getting these lads and laddies together, it's going to be hard enough for him and Liam to convince Obe to help all of you without you showing off your human talent for bickering over every little thing."

"How----"

"I'm a seer, Johnny. That's how I know what people are saying. And it's a shame that the very warriors who defended Earth so brilliantly in the past have shown little of that dedication and bravery in this conflict. That is, with two exceptions."

"Thank----"

"Don't go thanking me, Sonya. I didn't mean you. I mean Johnny and Liu Kang. You've been confrontational the whole time."

"But-----"

"It's not your fault, Sonya, not entirely. I know, but you need to put aside your differences or the world burns. It's your choice." She turned to focus on the Knights. "As for all of you. I was worried at first, really worried. But you've gotten over the issues you had between you and have become family again in short order. You were the reason for that, Torc. You and Aideen have truly worked wonders over the centuries with these four. Keep it up."

"Excuse me, but------"

"Yes, Liu, Kitana is safe," Callie said, turning to him. "That's all I can tell you right now, my visions don't spread that far from Earth. Since Sunnydale is connected to Outworld, I can get some peeks. But you needn't worry."

Everyone stared at her in confusion and amazement with one exception. "Thank you for your wisdom, seer," Sub-Zero said with a bow.

"Thank you," Callie smiled. "You have been a beacon of steadiness in all of this, as has Joyce, even if she doesn't realize it yet. If not for her, that half-elf would likely have gone off on her own and tried to find a way back in Outworld herself to rescue her family."

Everyone stared at her. "Even she------"

"Isn't that insane, Diedre? No, she's not, but she's that devoted to her family. I'm sure that *you* of all people, Diedre, can appreciate that."

"Yes, I can," Diedre said. "But-----"

"Just listen up," Callie spoke. "You need you get your heads on straight and stop arguing over everything if you're going to save the world. And you've got....." She bent her head. "About half-an-hour to talk it over."

"Then we had best get started," Sub-Zero said.

"Aye, Sub," Callie said, brushing at her hair as she looked to the side. "You had------"

She stopped as she looked forward, everyone else looking behind them to see Sub-Zero had vanished yet again. They looked at the space where he had been, then back at Callie.

"Don't look at me," she shrugged. "Even I don't know how he does that."

"But------"

"No, Johnny, I don't do it. I just wait for the moment to make a dramatic entrance. But I need to leave, so the others don't see me. I'm just lending a helping hand whenever I can. It could mess things up if they know I'm here, so keep this little talk quiet? Thanks."

The group moved away except for Johnny who lagged a bit. "Um, Callie-------"

"Sorry, Johnny," she laughed. "You're on your own with Sonya." Her hair flowed around her and she was gone, Johnny shaking his head at where she had been before moving to the others.

They had just rounded the corner when a flash appeared and Aideen arrived. "Right, Fin Varra's on his way with some folks," she nodded. She glanced around. "Where's Liam?"

"He took Shaw out for a talk," Robin shrugged.

"Really?" Aideen asked. "Yikes. Well, way I see it, one of two options. He never comes back alive......or he's going to make that lass fall in love with him."

She and Robin looked at each other. "May he rest in peace, amen," they both intoned.

*****

The flash faded and Shaw shook herself, teleportation always having a bad effect on her. She smacked herself away from Liam. "What are we doing here?" she hissed. "We're needed back there."

"Look, we've got time," Liam said. "It's gonna take a bit for McAllister and Varra to get over to Obe's place and Robin wants to organize a bit better. And he asked me to talk to you."

"I do not need to talk," Shaw hissed, turning away from him and trying to figure out where she was. There was a crisp wind in the air and she could see the ocean washing nearby. She was on a cliff, she could see that and was willing to bet it was Ireland although the exact location was beyond her. "Why are we here?"

"To talk, that's all," Liam shrugged. "Funny thing, no matter how bad the situation is, even the end of the world, there's always time for two people to talk."

"I have no interest in that," Shaw shot out.

Liam sighed. "Shaw, I'm trying to get to know ye better. Robin gave me some info but all I've gotten from you are some smart remarks and not a lot of description."

"You wish to know me? Fine." Shaw turned and looked him dead in the eye. "Read my mind. Everything."

Liam raised an eyebrow. "You sure ye want me to that?"

"If it will shut you up, it will have served its purpose," Shaw muttered, closing her eyes. Shrugging, Liam let his mind touch hers and in thirty seconds, the entirety of Shaw's life and experience flowed into his thoughts. He took a moment to process it before his face and manner became one of absolute sympathy. "Oh, lass......"

"I did not do this to have your pity!" Shaw said, turning away.

"I'm not pitying you, Shaw," Liam said softly. "Far from it. I'm understanding you and what you're going through. I know pain, lass. I do. If you don't believe me.....Look to your left."

Shaw turned to look at him in confusion, then focused on her side. Standing to one side was a small gray tombstone, aged but in good condition. Shaw took a moment to step forward and look at it carefully, reading the inscription.

KATHLEEN HARRIS DANAHURE
1141----1164
"Best of All"

"I've loved all my wives, lass," Liam said softly. "All of them. True, it kind of faded at the end. But make no mistake, I did love them all." He stepped forward to look at the marker, his face locked in remembrance. "But Kathleen.......Ah, Kathleen was always the one. She still holds the biggest place in my heart, the part that still holds with me. I miss her. I still miss her after all these centuries."

Shaw looked at the raw emotion on his face, pain and love mixed together and saw the honesty in his feelings now. "I am sorry," she said softly.

"Old pain," Liam said, waving it off although Shaw knew it went deeper than that. He glanced over at Shaw. "Ye've felt it too. I know that now."

Shaw held his gaze steadily. "Yes, Raidon."

"Still hurts," Liam said, not as a question.

"Yes," Shaw said, looking away.

Liam took a breath. "You can only mourn so long, lass. Ye have to move on or otherwise, ye stop living, you just go on existing. That's something for demons, not such as we."

"There was nothing to let go of," Shaw said softly.

"That's denial, lass, that's not good," Liam chided gently.

Shaw looked up at him with a steady gaze. "What about this woman, Kathleen? Have you let her go." Liam looked away, not answering. "Did she know you loved you?"

"Of course she did!" Liam barked. "We loved each other more than anything!"

Shaw nodded. "And she was taken from you? Even though you were happy?"

"Yeah, lassie," Liam answered softly. "We were very happy."

Shaw turned away from him, looking out towards the ocean below the cliffside. "At least you were allowed to have your chance," she said softly. "I was not allowed that consideration." She looked back at him. "I was in the past for a reason, Liam. I knew that I would return to my time and that I would have had to leave Raidon in the past. I would not have been allowed to bring him here. But I was not even allowed to be happy even for that short amount of time. There was nothing to let go of, not even anything to remember. Except how I felt, and that he told me the same as he died in my arms."

Her face was streaked with tears as she finished, Liam looking at her for a long moment, recognizing the pain all to well. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

"And I have let go," she replied, wiping at her face. "I still love him, but......"

"Ye're not *in* love with him anymore," Liam realized.

Shaw nodded. "But now, Callie sees this...." She searched for the right word. "Potential."

"She's usually not wrong on these things, lassie."

Shaw whirled on him, anger now in her features. "That is what I am afraid of, Liam! If she is right about this....it sounds as if I have no choice in the matter. And I have had choices ripped away from me far to often to simply accept that."

Liam paused before replying. "Ye always have choices in matters, Shaw. The future's not totally written, even Callie can't see every single decision. And she has been wrong before on things, it's true." He bent his head to the side. "But ask yerself this: Do ye really object to the possibility of a future with the likes of me?"

Shaw turned to look at him for several seconds, Liam feeling a little nervous. "I object being, to use a phrase, railroaded into things beyond my control. But as far as any friendship......"

"Friendship?" Liam said, unable to contain his disappointment.

"Or, anything beyond friendship," Shaw went on, glaring at him for interrupting her. "My experience with Raidon did show me one thing. Despite all the difficulties of the half-elven finding love because of our heritage......" Liam's nod let her know he understood such things. "It happened. I was able to find love, so....." she took a breath. "So I know that it might be able to happen again. And Callie has seen the potential for something between us, and truthfully, I.....am not afraid to explore that possibility. My only concern is that I was not looking for anything like this anytime soon."

For the first time since they had arrived, a smile came on Liam's face. "Shaw, lass, take it from the voice of experience. Ye never choose love. It chooses you and all you can do it hold on tight for the ride."

"It is hardly a ride," Shaw said dryly. "If Xander or Cordelia are any indication, it would be more like one of those rodeos. Or perhaps a Hollywood chase scene."

Liam chuckled then looked at her in seriousness. "Shaw.....I've seen what you've been like in the past. And I know you're upset and angry now. But ye have to hold that in a bit, at least for now, you have to keep things on the ball and not lose it."

"You don't understand-----" Shaw started.

"I know you're scared now------"

"I am not afraid of Outworld."

"No, you're scared of losing Amy, of losing your friends, your family. Well, I know where you're coming from with that, Shaw. I do." He moved forward, putting his hands on her shoulders. "We lose the ones we love, Shaw, and there's nothing we can do about it. Human, Eternal, it doesn't matter, it's the same for all of us. And as much as you and Robin don't want to admit it, someday the two of you will lose Amy. Even if you both have long lives, you'll still someday bury her and have to move on. It won't be easy and you'll never the lose the pain, I know that. But I swear to you now, Shaw Hunter. On my name, my life, my honor and Kathleen's soul......Today is not going to be that day. We're not going to let this happen. Not without a fight."

Shaw swallowed, feeling a rush of emotion unlike anything she'd ever felt as she saw the promise in Liam's eyes. "Thank you," she choked out. "There is truly more to you than just humor."

"Well, don't let it get carried away," Liam said, looking away. "Bonding stuff is a bit beyond me."

Liam backed away and looked at her. "Shaw.....I know how you feel about having someone in yer head. Why'd you ask me to do it?"

Shaw bit her lip and sighed. "I do not know, really. Perhaps, with what we face......it just feels right to have someone who understands me so completely."

"Robbie does," Liam pointed out. "He knows what you've been through. So why did you want me to know."

Shaw was silent for a moment. "That is something I must figure out on my own," she finally said. "When I have the time."

"You'll get it lass," Liam nodded, taking her by the arm. "You'll get it." There was a flash and they were both gone, leaving the grave silent and cold.

*****

"Jeez, where the hell are they?" Robin muttered, pacing the hallway. "They should have been here by now!"

"Relax, lad, things take time," Angus said. "Rome wasn't built in a day, you know!"

"Actually, I do know, I helped build it," Robin shrugged. Before anyone could respond to that, Liam and Shaw reappeared. Robin instinctively moved forward to talk to her. "You okay?"

"Yes," Shaw said, nodding. "He did help."

"Figured he would," Robin said, smiling at Liam who moved to the rest of the group. "Where'd you go?"

Shaw took a breath. "Did you ever know his wife, Kathleen?"

Robin's eyes went wide. "He took you there?" he whispered.

"Yes," Shaw said.

"My God," Robin whispered.

"What is it?" Shaw frowned.

"Shaw," Robin said with a touch of urgency. "Liam *never* takes anyone to see Kathleen's grave. Me and Callie are the only other ones who've been there. He doesn't even like to talk about her."

"Then why would he show it to me?" Shaw frowned.

Robin just shook his head. "Give it time, Shaw. You'll figure it out."

There was the sound of running footsteps and the group looked up to see Aideen rush up to them. "They're here," she said. "All assembled in the hall."

"Let's go then," Robin nodded.

Rhoan held his sword carefully as he looked to his long-time friends. "You all sure you want in on this?"

"We're with you, Rhoan," Angus said, clapping a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Like always, we're with you."

A memory crossed Diedre's mind and she smiled as the words of a Broadway song came to her. "Into valleys," she said, putting an arm around her husband. "Into waters. Into jungles, into hell. We will ride, we will ride, home again with a story to tell."

"Into darkness," Ivar said, surprising them by knowing the words. "Into danger. Into storms that rip the night......"

"Don't give in, don't give up but give thanks for the glorious fight," Angus added.

"Someone has to face the valley," Torc said. "Rush in, we have to rally and win, boys."

"When the world is saying not to," Aideen sang out. "By God, you know you've got to, march on, boys."

"Never hold back your step for a moment....." Liam said.

"Look alive and your courage will show," Robin added.

Shaw swallowed and spoke up. "Hold your head even higher......"

"And into the fire....." they all said. "We....goooooo....."

Joyce, Johnny, Sonya, Liu and Jax just stared at the group. "And this is what's going to save the world," Sonya said. "We're all dead."

*****

"I don't appreciate having me time wasted," Angus McAllister, King of the Leprechaun Glens, stated. He was dressed in a fine green robe, a large cape flowing behind him as he paced up and down, his face starting to take on the same red color as his hair and pointed beard. He paced before Oberon with Fin Varra standing on one side. The hall was more crowded than ever, with the sudden and unexpected influx of residents of the Glens and Tir Na Nog. The mix of faeries muttered amongst themselves as their lords argued, all wondering just what was going on.

"For the last time, Danahure," Oberon hissed. "I didn't call you and I have no idea what is going on here."

"Well, ye'd better!" McAllister shot out. "I don't like being yanked out of my home. I was told something was going down that was big and I know ye have something to do about it!"

"Calm down, McAllister," Fin Varra stated. "I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this soon."

Both the lords fixed him with a gaze. "Do ye know something we don't?" McAllister asked.

"Who, me?" Fin Varra said with an expression of innocence that he just couldn't sell all the way.

Before either of the two could reply, the doors of the hall burst open. Immediately, there was a clearing of the path as the humans came in, Robin and Liam at the head of the group. The faeries parted the way, muttering as the group marched right up to bottom of the steps leading to the throne. Robin moved to the bottom step, keeping his gaze with Oberon steady. He then turned to face the assembled faeries. "Ladies and gentlemen," he called out. "I'm here to appeal to your community spirit."

Oberon rolled his eyes. "If this is about Outworld, Robin, forget it. I have already-----"

"SHUT UP!" Robin yelled, whirling on him. Oberon's jaw fell open, unable to remember when any of his subjects had spoken to him that way. "You're not above this, Oberon!" Robin went on, anger in his features. "Not now, not when there's this much at stake! I'm racing the end of the world here, Oberon! I've got a chance, a very tiny chance and by God, it's not nearly enough but it's all I've got!"

He spun back to face the assembled group. "For thousands of years, we've watched these people," he said softly. "We've watched them grow and develop and make a world for themselves, a world we enjoy visiting, I know that. They made us a part of their culture in so many ways, an entire country carries the traits of the Glens. They are a good people, a proud people and this is our chance to reward them for all they've given us, a chance to make sure they continue, a chance------"

"I hate to interrupt this lovely speech," Oberon barked out. "But I am not going to have you stand here and make a mockery of my words in my own home."

Robin turned on him. "When Earth falls, we're next," he said in a cold tone. "He'll never keep his word. Never. And if you refuse to see that, that's your problem but don't let that overwhelm how you see Earth! They need us, Oberon. The Gods won't help so it's up to us. With the armies of the three major faery kingdoms, we can do this. We can make it work, I know we can."

Oberon looked at him and shook his head. "No," he said flatly.

Robin turned to McAllister. The Leprechaun King looked at him, then at Liam's imploring face, then back to Robin. He paused and looked to Oberon, the Faery King glaring at him. Sighing, McAllister shook his head. "Nope. Sorry, but if Obe's not in this, neither am I."

"Oh, for Christ's sake!" Liam called out.

McAllister glared at him and Liam stepped away instinctively. "Don't ye start, Danahure," he hissed. "Ye're in enough trouble for this mess as it is."

"Sire?" Aideen said softly as she looked to Fin Varra. The plump king rubbed at his beard and shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said with true concern in his voice. "But you know we wouldn't have a chance alone."

Robin looked at the three, not hiding his disgust. "Fine," he bit out, turning to the group. "We'll do it ourselves."

"You'll die, Goodfellow," Oberon said.

"Maybe," Robin shrugged. "But at least my last sleep will be a peaceful one." He looked back at Oberon. "Let's see how easy you sleep when the death toll of Earth hits."

The group began to move away except for Joyce, who slowed her walk. She stopped, looking back at Oberon and then at the assembled faeries. "My name is Joyce Summers," she announced in a clear and strong voice. "I'm not Immortal. I don't have powers. I'm just a normal woman. But my daughter is in danger and that's all I need to know to do whatever it takes to try and help her. And if I die...." She choked and collected herself. "If I die.....Then at least I'll die for something I believed in. Robin wants help but he's not going to get it, not from you. You all just want to sit back, party and drink and live your lives regardless of what happens to us. I'm sorry for that." She looked at the three lords. "I'm sorry for you. But my daughter is in trouble and I'm going to help her. And if I die......At least I know I'll have tried."

She turned and walked to the group, the humans beginning to move out.

"Hold."

Everyone turned at once to the woman rising from the throne behind Oberon. She stepped forward, past the startled lords and let her eyes flow over the assembled faeries, gauging them all.

"Shame," she said in a strong voice. "Shame is something every person here should feel." Her eyes traveled to Joyce and a small smile played on her lips. "Shame that a mortal woman has more courage and strength than an assemblage such as this."

She stepped forward, her clothing flowing around her and shifting into a suit of armor, a metal helmet covering her, a spear held in her arms. "Goodfellow! I am Titania, Queen of the Faery Kingdom. I will fight with you."

Silence fell over the hall once more as everyone stared at the queen. Oberon's jaw worked up and down as he stepped forward, grabbing his wife by the hand and spinning her about. "What are you doing?!" he hissed.

Titania held his gaze. "I am standing up for what's right," she said tightly. "You know Kahn will turn on us and saving Earth now will aid us in the long run. I am doing the right thing and don't you dare tell me to back away from this."

"You're betraying me!" Oberon said.

"No," Titania answered. "I'm standing up to you. Get used to it, it's going to be happening a lot more from now on."

"This mean what I think it means?" Liam muttered.

"In the words of Elton John," Robin smiled. "The Bitch is Back."

Oberon glared at his wife. "It will be just you with them, no one else is-----"

"Goodfellow!" The crowd turned to a figure who stepped forward. "I am Peasblossom of the Faery Kingdom! I will fight with you!"

"And I!" a leprechaun said, standing forward. "Seanus O'Toole of the Leprechaun Glens! I will fight by your side!"

"And I!"

"And I!"

"And I!"

"And I!"

In moments, nearly every faery in the hall, male and female, no matter their origin, had announced they would fight, the humans glancing about in amazement as an army gathered around them.

Oberon stared at his subjects in revolt and glared at Fin Varra. "Don't look at me," the aged ruler smiled. "I'm with them."

"And so am I," McAllister said.

Oberon turned to Titania. "Why? Why should I encourage this insanity?"

A slow smile came over Titania's face. "For one very simple reason. You'll be able to crow for centuries that you defeated a foe Zeus and the other major Gods didn't wish to fight."

Oberon held her gaze. Then, very slowly, a smile came over his face. "Now I remember why I love you," he said. He turned to face the assembled faeries, all waiting his word. He slowly gazed to one of his generals. "Spread the word. Assemble everyone you can." He took in the attention of all within the hall. "Let there be WAR!"

A roar went through the hall as the faeries accepted the command. "Kick it in, lads and lassies!" Liam announced. "It's time to jig."

*****

The palace was soon in an uproar, faeries moving about from hallway to hallway. The word spread out to the town nearby, faeries gathering weapons, magics, everything they needed to take the fight to Outworld.

"Wow, we should have come to these guys first," Joyce said as she and Shaw stood to one side. They were still in the chamber, watching as soldiers moved about, some running, some floating over the floor as the others looked around. Robin and Liam were on one side of the hall, talking to some faeries while Aideen had popped quickly over to Tir Na Nog. The Kombateers were with the Knights near one end of the hall, leaving Shaw and Joyce talking to one another. "Robin and Liam seem to be taking charge," Joyce remarked.

"They do have it together," a voice said. Shaw and Joyce turned to see Robin's mother standing before them. "Rosolon Goodfellow," she nodded at the two.

Shaw calmly licked her lips before stepping forward. "I.....I am very sorry for what I said before."

"It's all right," Rosolon said. "I've put up with Robin and that crazy brother of his for centuries, I can handle a little insult." Her face became one of concern. "Are you all right? I know that cousin met a lot to ye."

"I am coping," Shaw said, Joyce putting a hand on her shoulder. Rosolon saw it and smiled, looking up at Joyce. "What you did was very brave. I can't remember the last time *anyone* stood up like that in Oberon's presence. Well, besides Robin, of course. And it got results."

"I just spoke my mind," Joyce said. "That's all."

"Well, it paid off," Rosolon said. "I hope you find your daughter safe."

"So do I," Shaw said softly.

Rosolon appraised her and smiled. "Robin seems to be....fond of you. But I thought he was with Amy?"

"He is," Shaw said. "But he cares for me as an adopted sister."

Rosolon's smile faded as she took in Shaw's words. "He adopted you?" she said softly.

"You did not know," Shaw stated as she saw the look on Rosolon's face.

The woman shook her head and took a breath. "Well. That's....interesting." She leaned forward. "I have to get going. A lot of us will be staying behind, keeping an eye on things here but you'll still have enough forces. In case I don't get the chance, share something with Robin, will you?"

"What?" Shaw frowned.

An evil smile came over Rosolon's face. "Next time he adopts someone without telling me first, he's facing a talking to that will take a decade to finish up and an ass-kicking like he's never known." She turned on her heel and walked off as Joyce and Shaw stared at her.

"So *that* is where he gets it from," Joyce and Shaw said together.

*****

On one end of the hall, the Knights were talking to one another as the rush unfolded around them. "I'll say this for Goodfellow, he knows how to rile up the troops," Ivar said.

"You sure this will work?" Angus asked.

"They have a major weakness," Torc said. "One that guarantees us victory. The same weakness the British had against the colonies, Napoleon at Waterloo, the Nazis during World War II, America in Vietnam. They think they're unbeatable. And the people who think there's no way they can lose are always the ones who end up at the bottom."

Before anyone could reply, Aideen came up, holding a pile of clothing. "Here," she said, handing them each an outfit. The Knights were confused as they looked at the clothing, recognizing it as the kind they wore in their time in Kells.

"What is this?" Rhoan asked, fingering his red shirt.

"We're going to fight magic and monsters," Aideen said. "Ceremonial garb has a purpose and should be worn."

Angus held up his jacket and chuckled. "God, we used to wear this stuff all the time. I sweated like crazy in the summer."

"Angus," Rhoan said dryly. "We noticed."

Diedre looked through her bundle, stopping as she came across a familiar piece of headwear. She glanced up at Aideen, startled. "My crown? You brought me my crown?"

"I didn't think the outfit would be the same without it," Aideen shrugged.

"You went all the way to New York for my crown?" Diedre said, emotion in her eyes.

"You're the ruler of Kells, right?" Aideen said, smiling. "You're fighting for your nation against your ancient enemy. Where better to wear it?"

Diedre moved forward, hugging her friend tightly. "Thank you."

"Of course, no one bothers with my crown," Ivar sniffed.

Smiling, Aideen tossed him a helmet that he instantly recognized. "Never underestimate the Tir Na Nog lost and found department."

Diedre looked to Rhoan, who was staring down at his outfit. "Are you all right?"

"I've spent centuries wondering about her," Rhoan answered dully. "About what turned to evil. About how she could become the sort of person who'd leave her own children behind."

"Mother bad," Lugad said. "Always bad."

"Maybe," Rhoan sighed. "But I keep wondering if maybe, just maybe, if we'd given her a chance, it could all have turned out differently."

"We gave her a chance, Rhoan," Diedre said softly. "Lost of times. She chose her path, chose what to do with you and Lugad. She decided how she was going to live her life. She chose to leave you behind because she had no room for love of anyone besides herself. It wasn't you. It wasn't Lugad, it was her."

"She's still my mother, Diedre," Rhoan said tightly.

"She gave birth to you. That doesn't make her a mother," Diedre pointed out. "If you want to know what a mother is, take a good long look at the woman with no power, no weapons, no training and is willing to go to war to save her adopted daughter. That's a mother, Rhoan."

"That she is," Rhoan nodded. "The kind of mother I wish I'd had."

"Me too," Diedre sighed.

"Thanks for the compliment," Joyce smiled as she came up. "Are you all right?"

"Just worried," Rhoan answered. "I mean, I know she's the enemy and all but.....I don't know if I can kill my own mother, despite all she's done."

"You may not have that choice," Shaw said tightly.

Rhoan turned to tell her he didn't want to kill Maeve and saw the look on Shaw's face that told him that wasn't what she meant and wisely held his tongue. He and the Knights quickly moved off to another room as the fighters continued to gather.

*****

Sonya stood to one side, looking at the fighters assembling, arms crossed, trying to ignore Johnny as he came up behind her. "Um, Sonya? About your partner?"

"I don't want to talk about it," she said softly.

"I'm sorry, all right?" Sonya turned to him in surprise. "I know I kind of gave you a rough time flirting at the tournament. I didn't know. I do have some sensitivity, you know."

"Apology accepted," Sony said, turning back away.

Johnny paused before speaking again. "Does it still hurt."

"I would really not want to discuss my love life with the guy who's dated half of the plastic surgery bimbos in Hollywood."

"Yeah, I've known a lot of women," Johnny said, kicking at a stone nearby. "But none of them ever made my heart race just by looking at them."

Sonya was silent for a long moment. "Have you ever known a woman like that?" she said softly.

Johnny looked at her. "Once, on an island. But she left before I could tell her how I felt. Or if she felt the same way."

"I don't know if she still does," Sonya replied.

Johnny looked at her. "You do know we're talking about you, right?"

"Get out of here, Johnny," Sonya said not as unkindly as she might have the day before. Johnny looked at her and then turned and walked away.

"She's got it bad," Jax muttered to Joyce and Shaw.

"And she doesn't get it," Joyce sighed. "Sound familiar?"

"Yes," Shaw nodded.

Joyce smiled. "Oh, it does?"

"Yes. It reminds me of Xander and Cordelia, Kendra and Joseph and from what I have been told the beginning of the relationship between Jenny and Giles."

"And that's it," Joyce stressed.

"Yes."

"Well, Amy can't say I didn't give it one shot," Joyce muttered to herself.

"Hey, kid, you gonna be okay?" Jax said as he watched Shaw fix at her weapons.

"I will be fine," she answered. "And do not call me kid."

"Yeah, I know," Jax nodded. "You're older than me and all. I just mean, can you handle what we're gonna do?"

"Can you?" Shaw said.

"Damn, girl," Jax said, flexing his arms, hearing the whine of servos in the metal attachments. "With these things, I can handle anything."

Shaw fixed him with a gaze. "Except your own doubts."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jax frowned.

Shaw pointed at the arms. "As long as you wear those, you can never fight at your best. You are relying on technology, not yourself, a dangerous attitude."

"Hey, you've got the sword," Jax said, getting a little defensive.

"This is part of my being," Shaw said, holding up her blade. "Part of who I am. Those devices do not empower you, they hold you back."

"Hey, my skill is in these things!" Jax bit out.

Shaw shook her head. "Your skill is within yourself, not those. Only when you truly realize that, can you be victorious."

She turned and moved towards Robin as Jax watched her go, shaking her head. "Damn girl's worse than my mamma," Jax muttered.

Robin and Liam broke away and came over to where the others were waiting. "Almost set," Robin said. "They just need to figure out how many people to leave behind just in case but we're promised a major force."

"Good," Joyce nodded. "I want those bastards to suffer for a change." She moved off a bit as the others watched her.

"For Maeve's sake, Buffy had better be alive," Robin muttered.

"Why?" Shaw asked.

"Shaw, there's only one thing in the world more dangerous than a mother protecting her young. That's a mother who's out for vengeance. If Buffy's gone, there won't be a thing on Outworld that can stop Joyce from getting at those guys. Including us."

Shaw looked at him, then at Joyce, biting her lip in thought. She moved away, heading towards the other woman. "Joyce? Can I speak to you for a minute?"

"What is it?" Joyce said to the elven.

"We are preparing to leave," Shaw said. "I want to do what I can to make sure you are safe."

Joyce smiled at her concern. "Shaw, don't worry, I'll stay out of the way."

"Still....." Shaw muttered. Before Joyce knew it, she was talking in a rapid-fire slew of incantations in her own language, hands flowing around Joyce's body, a strange sight that took about five minutes to complete.

"There," Shaw said, stepping back. "You have what protections I can give you. They are not much compared to Amy or Jenny's......"

"You prayed to keep me safe?" Joyce smiled. "That was kind of you."

Shaw smiled. "Joyce, those prayers were spells that I cast upon you."

Joyce was taken aback and a little nervous. "What spells?"

"Protection ones," Shaw answered.

"Protection?" Joyce said dubiously. "Shaw, do I have to remind you of what happened the last time the girls tried to use a protection spell with me? I don't think having Kahn and the rest of the Outworld troops infatuated with me is the strategy Robin is looking for."

Shaw rolled her eyes. "That was an accident, Joyce," she said calmly. "I am taking far more care here, this will protect you."

"From what?" Joyce asked.

Shaw took a breath. "Protection from Evil, Resistance to Fire, Resistance to Cold, a magical religious Blessing, a Translation spell so that you can understand any type of language you might hear, to tell friends from enemies by their words. A spell to slow any type of poison in your system, which will take twenty times as long to effect you-------"

"Poison?" Joyce choked out. Shaw looked up and for the first time noticed how frightened Joyce looked.

"I would not want to leave any possible dangers uncovered, Joyce," Shaw said quietly. "I have spells to eliminate such, but only if the poison is present. Robin and Liam, I suppose, could do so much more and easier than I can. Also, I have layered several spells for dispelling magical effects in a two foot radius around your body. It will make you immune to any type of magic up to my level of power, save for mine, for the next three hours."

"Anything else?" Joyce swallowed.

Shaw smiled. "I did pray to the Lady to keep you safe."

"Thank you," Joyce said softly. Shaw nodded and turned to walk away. "Shaw," Joyce said, having her turn back. She moved forward and hugged her tight, then backed away to look her in the eye. "We'll save them. All of them."

"I know," Shaw said, tears in her eyes. "We have no other options. We will save our family."

Joyce raised her eyebrows at Shaw's use of "our". "Our family?"

"Yes, Joyce, I......." Shaw stopped and calmed herself. "You know that I recently returned to my homeworld?" Joyce nodded. "I met my grandmother, my elven grandmother and she told me so much about my mother, things I never knew because my grandparents never knew them, I...." She sighed. "For the first time, I feel that I know my mother and how she felt about me. And I see the type of person Buffy is and the type of person you are and......"

"Shaw, you're talking like Willow," Joyce said gently. "Take a breath."

Shaw did. "I like to think my mother was like you."

Joyce smiled. "You've told me the things she and your family did. I'm honored that you would compare me to her."

To her surprise, Shaw shook her head. "You misunderstand, Joyce. I was comparing her to *you.*"

"Lass is dedicated," Liam said as he and Robin moved up to the others.

"It's good to see that," Robin said.

"What would it take to make her quit? Death?"

"Maybe. But I doubt it."

"Why?"

"Because it didn't stop her the last time."

A shuffling got their attention and they all turned to see the Knights enter. They were all dressed in the uniforms of old, the same style they had first died in, jackets and coats ready for fighting. Diedre's crown sat proudly on her head while Angus's hair was held back by his familiar bandanna, their weapons held in their hands. Beside them, Torc was wearing a dark blue fighting outfit, deliberately stripped of all markings of Temra.

"Going for tradition?" Robin remarked as they came up."

"Seemed the right thing to do," Aideen, the only one who hadn't changed, announced. "I'll get into mine when we get there."

"Amazing how quickly you can get used to this again," Rhoan said, tugging at the sash around his uniform.

"Those are your uniforms?" Sonya asked. "They're too bulky, there are plenty of loose ends to grab, there are things to trip on------"

"Look, is there anything that actually makes you happy?" Johnny said.

"Tell you for a hundred bucks," Jax grinned.

"So," Liu said. "Aside from the faeries, it's the four Knights, Torc, me, Joyce, Sonya, Shaw, Johnny, Jax and Sub-Zero, assuming-------"

"I am here."

Everyone yelped as Sub-Zero appeared behind them. "I was watching the armies assemble."

"How does he do that?" Liu muttered. "So, it's the twelve of us representing humanity."

"The Desperate Dozen," Ivar remarked.

"I get dibs on Lee Marvin," Angus said.

"I"ll be Bronson," Johnny added.

"I've got Donald Sutherland," Torc announced.

"Obvious who I am," Jax grinned.

"Telly Savalas?" Johnny asked dryly.

"Sony is Ernest Borgnine," Shaw said, startling all of them.

"Wait a minute, he's an old fart!" Sonya said angrily. "Hell, he was an old fart when the movie was made 30 years ago!"

"Johnny, what role did Borgnine play?" Shaw asked.

"Oh, he was Lee Marvin's boss," Johnny remarked.

Sonya smiled as she got the point. "I'm starting to like the way she thinks," she remarked to Diedre.

"I don't want to know who she thinks I should play," Diedre sighed.

"George C. Scott," Shaw said.

"Um, Shaw?" Johnny asked. "Wrong movie."

"Correct rank," Shaw pointed out."

"A female Patton, hmmm," Diedre smiled in thought. She glanced to Sonya with a grin. "Is she saying we should boss the men around?"

"Must be," Sonya said, returning the smile. It faded a bit as she spoke. "Can I say something about your father?"

The smile left Diedre's features as her hand moved to her side. "What?"

Sonya clapped a hand on her shoulder. "He raised a fine daughter."

Diedre looked at her and nodded in respect. An "ahem" got their attention and they all turned to look at the woman standing behind them. "We are ready."

"Your majesty," Robin bowed. He looked at her in absolute devotion. "Thank you. For helping."

"Thank you, Robin," Titania bowed. "Thank you for helping me get the fire back I'd lost long ago." Her head bent as she smiled at him. "Of course, considering you were partially responsible for it by making me fall in love with an ass......."

"Okay, let's go fight Outworld!" Robin called out, leading the group away. They all followed him: Liam, Shaw, Joyce, Torc, Rhoan, Diedre, Angus, Ivar, Aideen Johnny, Sonya, Liu, Jax, Lugad and, following the rear, Sub-Zero who for once decided that this was a time he should actually stand and walk tall with a group. They marched out, all differences forgotten, determined to save their home.

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