Iron Fisted

Author: Mike McD <o163210[at]>

Rating: PG 13 (for some naughty language)

Summary: The follow on from 'Silver Tongued'.

Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor do I own any other characters. This is a work of fiction written for fun and enjoyment.

Author's note: People have been asking for a 'Silver Tongued' follow on. I'm not a hundred percent sure where I'm going with this, so feedback is wicked important.

Chapter 1

"Any luck finding them?" Giles asked Angel as the souled vampire returned from his search for Buffy and the others. Together, Giles and Angel had broken Ethan's spell, returning all those under its curse to normal. Giles had immediately started researching what, if any, lasting effects the spell would have on Buffy and the others. Angel in turn had gone out in a fruitless search for the lost Scoobies.

Angel shook his head in frustration.

"Damn it Giles! What the hell have you been doing on the phone for the last hour?" ranted Cordelia as she stomped through his door.

Giles started to say something when he noticed that he hadn't properly replaced the handset on his phone, thus Cordelia's anger over the continuous busy signal.

"Is Buffy OK?" Angel asked her.

"Not if I get my way with that iron fisted little bitch." She spat surprising the two men with her anger.

"I take it that something happened during the possession then." Observed Giles.

"Boy, you could say that again." Cordelia flushed slightly at the memory before her anger returned. "Little Miss Slays Alot beat Xander right into intensive care. After they returned to normal, mind you."

Giles and Angel stood completely stunned at the news.


"If you wanna know then you can get your butts over to the hospital and ask your precious Buffy herself." Cordelia was looking forward to seeing Buffy squirm as she explained the night's events to them.

She wasn't disappointed.


They found Buffy, still in her noblewoman's gown, in one of the waiting rooms. As soon as they entered the room she looked up and a mix of guilt, anger, and fear flashed across her face.

"What the devil is going on Buffy? Cordelia told us you nearly beat Xander to death!"

Buffy shot Cordelia a venomous glare that she returned with icy daggers of her own.

"Didn't Cordelia tell you what happened?"

"No I didn't. I thought they might wanna hear it direct from you."

"Bitch." Buffy muttered. Cordelia merely smiled sweetly.

"And proud of it."

"Buffy! Could we get back to the matter at hand?" her Watcher admonished. "Why on God's earth did you beat Xander?"

Buffy looked down at her feet and refused to talk. Giles took off his glasses and started polishing them in frustration. A thought occurred to Angel.

"Buffy. What was Xander's costume? Who did he dress up as?"

Buffy still kept her silence.

"Buffy, who did he dress up as?" Giles demanded, his patience worn thin with her reticence. Finally Buffy gave in.


There was a few seconds of silence as the implications sunk in the minds of Giles and Angel.

"Uh... I... that is... you..." stammered Giles. Buffy lost her temper.

"Yes! Xander dressed up as Casanova and seduced me and Willow and Cordelia into having group sex."

Giles' glasses clattered to the floor as they slipped forgotten through nerveless fingers. Complete and utter shock was the only way that Cordelia could describe the look on Giles' face. His eyes nearly fell out of his head and rolled around on the ground next to his jaw that also took the express lift to the ground floor.

For his part, Angel looked like someone had just clubbed his favorite pet baby fur seal.

Cordelia struggled not to laugh out loud.

"Group sex? That's what you're calling it now? Group sex? Try orgy. Or a foursome fuck. Or the Great Scooby Gang Bang."

Buffy wheeled around furiously on the cheerleader.

"Fuck you Cordy!"

With the smile that only the Queen Bitch of Sunnydale High could deliver, Cordelia made an observation that made Buffy tear out of the hospital at a million miles an hour.

"You all ready did. Twice."

Chapter 2

The stead beep of the monitor and the rise and fall of Xander's chest provided a small measure of reassurance to Willow. Ever since they had immersed themselves in Buffy's world, Willow and Xander had been hurt a number of times. They accepted that as the price paid in fighting the good fight.

But this time it was different.

Her anger at Buffy was overwhelmed by her concern for the unconscious Xander. She took his hand in hers, hers dwarfed by his.

She really, really wished he would wake up soon.

"Hey Xander." She spoke to him in a quiet, subdued manner. "Big night, wasn't it?"

"I... I always wanted you to be my first. And you were. Well, kinda, sort of. My first, that is." She babbled a little. "Always dreamed that you'd be my first. Never dreamed that Cordelia would be my second and Buffy my third." Pausing, she could almost see in her mind Xander giving her a sceptical look.

"OK, OK, so maybe there's been one or two dreams like that and that information does not leave this room, you hear me mister?" She waggled her finger at Xander, Boss Willow face on. Boss Willow gave way to Defensive Willow.

"Besides, I'm not the only one in this room who's had that sort of dream."

Sighing, she stared down at Xander's hand in her own.

"I might've had the odd dream of something like this happening, doesn't mean that's how I actually wanted it to happen. And I know you well enough to realise this wasn't how you wanted it to happen either.

"But it happened. It happened and everything's changed and we need to talk about it. And to do that I need you with me, awake and talking and listening. I need you.

"Who else is gonna watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with me and do the Snoopy Dance? Who else am I gonna help get through math class, or hang with every day and dream of every night? Who else..."

Willow choked on her emotions and a tear rolled down her cheek.

"I love you."

Xander's face twitched and his hand moved in hers. Willow's eyes widened in hope.

"W... Willow?" Xander croaked.

"Xander?" Willow replied, scarcely believing it. Xander smiled at her weakly and reached up, wiping away the tear.

"Hey... Don't cry." He reassured Willow who was flooded with relief and happiness.

"How's he going?" Giles asked from the doorway. Willow looked back and saw Giles and Cordelia standing at the door. There was no mistaking Willow's happiness.

"He's awake Giles! He's awake!" Giles smiled in relief at the redhead's news.

"I'll go get a doctor." Cordelia announced. Pausing before leaving to get the doctor, Cordelia watched Willow and Xander.

She was disturbed at feeling jealousy.

She was even more disturbed of the fact she wasn't sure which one of them she was jealous of.

Chapter 3

Paris, 1757

Darla virtually floated into the room, a dreamy, satisfied look all over her face.

Angelus, on the other hand, was far from dreamy or satisfied.

"Just where the hell have you been for the last three days?" he growled.

"Brushing up on my Italian. Signor Casanova has a true gift with foreign tongues."

"After three days of torture I can only imagine that you ripped out his tongue before he died."

"Oh, he's not dead. I wouldn't dream of robbing the world of such a... sensual master. Besides, there are some people who are worth far more alive than dead. Or undead." Darla teased her childe. Angelus had a jealous streak a mile wide and it amused her to no end to see it in full flight.

"I'll kill him!" Angelus yelled as her threw his wine glass at the wall.

"You'll do no such thing!" Darla, game face showing, roared back. The two vampires faced off for a moment before Darla calmed down again. She caressed his cheek and ran her hand across his chest.

"Always remember, my dear Angelus, no matter how good a man thinks he is between the sheets, there's always someone better. Except for Signor Casanova of course."


Angel hurried through the streets of Sunnydale after Buffy. Giles had sworn a vile and bloody oath to gut Ethan Rayne with a spoon the next time he came across him.

The souled vampire, with a mastery of torture that only could be gained by over a century of experience, had far, far worse plans for the Chaos mage.

Plans involving chainsaws.

So wrapped up in his dreams of torture, Angel near missed spotting Buffy as she rounded the corner of Revello Drive.

"Buffy!" Angel called out as he hurried to intercept her.

"Leave me alone!"

"Buffy! Wait! Would you just listen?"

"What's there to listen to?" she yelled, wheeling around on Angel.

"What happened between you and Xander and the others wasn't your fault. Xander had no more control over what happened than you did."

Buffy was a mass of conflicting emotions. She was worried; worried about the effect tonight would have on her relationship with Angel and her friendship with Xander and Willow. She was scared; scared of how badly she had hurt Xander in a moment to completely misguided rage. But the overwhelming emotion at the moment was anger. Blinding anger at herself, at her friends, at the world.

"What does it matter? Xander got to live out his greatest fantasy." Buffy spat bitterly. Angel could hardly believe what she had just said.

"Greatest fantasy? You seriously believe Xander wanted what happened to happen? Are you blind or just stupid?"

Now it was Buffy's turn to stand disbelieving as Angel tore into her verbally.

"I don't like him, never have, never will. He bugs the hell out of me. But I know for a fact that this was the last thing he ever wanted to happen."

"How can you know that? Is there some sort of vampire mind reading ability I'm not aware of?"

"I don't need to read his mind. I've seen what's in his heart. He loves you. He laves you just as much as I do. Maybe even more." Angel added quietly.

"What?" Buffy's question was hesitant, as if she was afraid of the answer she would get.

Angel, for his part, paused before answering. Buffy deserved to hear it. She needed to hear it. But at what cost to Buffy and his relationship?

In the end it wouldn't matter. All that mattered was the truth.

"You were destined face the Master and die. Me, Giles, even you, gave up trying to avoid it. It was your destiny and nobody could change it. Ironically it took a nobody to do just that.

"Everyone had given up trying to save you, except Xander. He came storming into my place, telling me to take him down to face the Master. To save you. I'd given you up for dead. I told him it was no use, that he had no chance, that the Master would kill him in a second. Xander wouldn't take no for an answer. He shoved a cross in my face. Shamed me, forced me to get over my fear. He was just as scared as I was, more so probably. I loved you, but I feared the Master, I feared dying even more."

A look of horrified realisation dawned on Buffy's face.

"But Xander didn't."

All Angel could do was hang his head as Buffy took off home, tears in her eyes. Angel didn't know if Buffy and her friends would ever be as close as they had been before tonight. But regardless of how well his effort to try to restore their friendship, he knew in his heart that Buffy and his relationship was over.


Joyce sat on the end of Buffy's bed, the large wooden chest filled with the paraphernalia of a Slayer open in front of her.

Joyce knew all about Slayers, thanks to a last minute costume change of heart and two Englishmen.

Joyce had taken Dawn to Ethan's after seeing the beautiful dress Buffy had got for next to nothing. As Dawn browsed the racks of clothes, Ethan had got talking to Joyce. By the end of it all, Dawn had her Elven Warrior costume and Joyce had an old leather book and tweed jacket for her librarian costume.

Both Ethan and Joyce had shared a laugh at the idea of dressing up as the stuffy librarian of Sunnydale High, Rupert Giles.

There was no laughter as Joyce recalled the horror of the art gallery, as the Halloween party became a bloody battle.

And now, although the possession had ended, she still retained the knowledge of her daughter's sacred destiny. That knowledge warred with her motherly instincts.


Joyce looked up to see Buffy, tears streaming down her face. All her thoughts were forgotten as Joyce held her daughter close as she openly wept.

"Oh God! Mom, what have I done? What have I done?"

Chapter 4

She couldn't put it off any longer.

Buffy had successfully managed to avoid everyone for the day but as night approached she had to check in with Giles.  She had seriously considered packing her bag and running away to LA, but her desire to try to fix her mistake made her stay.

With great trepidation, she entered the library.

Looking about, Buffy was relieved that neither Willow nor Cordelia were there, and that Giles was alone.

"Hey, Giles." She greeted her Watcher with much less enthusiasm than usual. Likewise, Giles looked unhappy and out of sorts.

"Buffy." There was a high level of awkwardness between them.

"Did, uh... did my mom come to see you this morning?"

"Yes. We had a most... vigorous discussion."

"Oh, OK. It's just that mom looked pretty worked up this morning. Said something about giving you the bollocking of a life time just before she left."

"She truly did." Giles muttered, recalling the unpleasant experience.

"Um... bollocking doesn't involve rampant acts of nudity, does it?" Buffy really hoped it didn't. There had been enough rampant acts of nudity already.

"What? No! She came in here and spent twenty minutes ranting at me about keeping secrets from people and my moral obligations."

"I imagine that it'd be tough having someone yell at you who knows all your dirty little secrets. I'm just not sure how mom got hold of one of your jackets."

"You remember how last month I had my jacket slashed during patrol? Well, instead of throwing it out, I gave it to Goodwill,"

"Uh, Giles. Not even the homeless would wear tweed." Buffy shut up at her Watcher's glare.

"Apparently, that's where Ethan got the jacket. No doubt he had a merry old time giving it to your mother." Remarked Giles darkly. Yet another reason to add to the already long list of reasons to kill Ethan Rayne slowly and painfully. Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. It had been a trying 24 hours and there were still two awkward issues that needed to be discussed.

"Mom told me last night about the Cruciamentum. Is it true? When I turn 18 you'll take away my powers? Lock me up with a vampire?" Buffy's voice quivered, the idea of Giles doing that to her too painful to contemplate.

"Yes, it's true. But I won't do it." Giles sat down on his chair, his gaze reflecting the myriad of emotions he was feeling. "I'd always thought... deluded myself about it. That it would never come to it. That somehow the Council would never call on me to do it. Or if it did, that I... I could do it without remorse or guilt or my feelings interfering. That I could just be a good Watcher, and see the Slayer as just a weapon to fight evil, and that you were just a Slayer.

"But I'm not a good Watcher, and the Slayer is not just a weapon, and you are not just a Slayer.

"This thing with Joyce made me think. Made me confront my delusions. Made me think about what and who I really am and what and who I really want to be.

"I want to be someone who can look himself in the mirror in the morning. Someone worthy of the trust you have in me. Someone I can respect.

"So should the time come, I will turn my back on centuries of tradition and defy the Council. I give you my word; I will never deliberately hurt you. I only hope that one day, you'll be able to trust me again."

There was a long period of silence as his words and the feelings behind them sunk into Buffy's mind. She gently placed her hand on his shoulder.

"What will they do to you? The Council, I mean."

Giles shrugged his shoulders.

"It doesn't matter."


Giles and Buffy had talked for nearly an hour about what had happened the night before. Giles was disappointed and a little angry at Buffy for what she did to Xander. He lectured her on how having great power entailed having great responsibility, the moment too serious for Buffy to make the obvious Spiderman joke.

They discussed Buffy's remorse for what she did, and the nature of Buffy's friendship with Xander and Willow. Buffy despaired at ever regaining Xander's friendship, not knowing how to even start trying to do so.

In the end, Giles' advice was as simple and obvious as it was daunting to his Slayer. It was this advice that saw her walk into Sunnydale General Hospital.

Peeking into Xander's room, Buffy found it empty. Xander was asleep, his left arm in a cast and bruising evident on one side of his face. A renewed wave of guilt washed over Buffy as she approached his sleeping form.

More than anything, Buffy wished she could go back in time and change things. In all honesty, she would only have gone back to stop her attack on Xander. The events preceding that, while unbidden, were more than a little enjoyable.

Standing beside his bed, Buffy looked at Xander and wondered how things would have turned out different if she had said yes to Xander at Spring Fling.

Not wanting to wake him, she turned to leave.

"Buffy?" she heard Xander ask. Turning back, her eyes locked with his for a moment before she looked away and down at her hands.

The same hands that had put Xander were he was.

"I just come by, you know, to see how you were doing. Didn't want to wake you."

There seemed to be an eternity of silence between the two.

'Oh god! He hates me.' Buffy thought to herself.

"I'm sorry."

The words stunned Buffy. She was the one who had nearly killed him for something that he was not responsible for and it was Xander who was apologising to her.

Buffy's head snapped up in disbelief. The sudden movement and the wide-eyed look in Buffy's face caused Xander to flinch, as if in fear of Buffy attacking him again.

In that instant, the look of terror on Xander's face broke Buffy's heart.

Massive tears gushed from her eyes as Buffy broke down completely, buried her head into his chest, and begged for his forgiveness.

Chapter 5

The arrival and subsequent demise of Billy Fordham was, if not a welcome distraction, then a useful one. With Xander still in hospital, it forced the rest of the gang to work together.

Cordelia was making it clear that Buffy was number one on her shit list and showed no signs of easing up any time soon. When ever the two met the temperature in the room dropped to freezing point. Buffy didn't understand why Cordelia, rather than Willow or Xander (who Buffy felt was fully justified in hating Buffy), was reacting the way she was towards her. After a few days of being on the receiving end of Cordelia's wrath, Buffy didn't care. If Cordelia was gonna be a bitch to her, then Buffy was determined to give as good as she got.

Willow was a different and, to Buffy, a more heartbreaking matter. Outside of Scooby related activities; Willow avoided Buffy, spending her time with Xander in the hospital, or in the library with Giles, or increasingly with Cordelia. The absence of her best (female) friend hurt Buffy more than any words from Cordelia ever could. Buffy had done the one thing that Willow would find hardest to forgive.

Buffy had hurt Xander.

Not just hurt him but, in that 5 seconds of reprehensible fury, came so close to killing a human being that it made Buffy sick to think about it. Nobody wished as much as Buffy for the ability to go back in time and change it all.

But even a Slayer couldn't and Xander and Buffy was stuck with what happened. All Buffy had control over was the here and now and her future actions. She was determined to be the friend to Xander that she should have been all along.

Xander had said he had forgiven Buffy and said that they were OK. But they weren't really. Buffy would visit after hours, avoiding as best she could the times when Willow or Cordelia would visit. Buffy would bring Xander junk food as he constantly complained about hospital food. They talked and joked and looked to all the world that they were as close as they ever had been. The world would be wrong in thinking it.

Xander would occasionally go quiet and introspective when they talked. His cheerfulness seemed forced at times. Once, during one of her visits, Xander had made one of his salacious comments and Buffy went to playfully swat him on the arm as she had a hundred times before. The look of fear on his face caused Buffy to burst into tears.

They weren't OK and perhaps never would be again. Not like they were before.


During lunch a week or so after Halloween, Cordelia entered the library seeking Giles and some answers at a matter that had been bothering her for days. Giles was standing beside Willow looking at what she was doing on the computer. Cordelia lent over Willow's shoulder to see a web page with some description of demon on it.

The faint whiff of strawberries and shampoo filled Cordelia's senses and she glanced down at the redhead. From her position Cordelia could see down Willow's top, the milky white curves encased in white lace.

Struggling to keep her voice even, Cordelia asked Willow what she were doing.

Willow, turning in her seat to tell her, found herself mere inches from Cordelia's ample cleavage. Turning quickly back to the screen, Willow half babbled something about a useful demonology website she had found.

Willow found that the room had suddenly gotten a whole lot warmer.

Cordelia backed away from the computer.

The two of them had been doing this sort of thing all week.

"Giles, I got some questions about the possessions." The cheerleader told him.

"What seems to be the concern?"

"No concern as such. I was wondering about the skills and stuff."

"What do you mean?"

"It's just that a couple of times that I've visited Xander, he occasionally yammers away in some weird tongue. Is he gonna be language boy from now on?"

"While there will undoubtedly be some residual effects, I imagine that they would fade in time."

"Is there any way of retaining them? Like getting Xander to do all language-y type stuff?"

Giles scratched his nose in contemplation.

"I suppose it would. Yes. It's a real possibility, exercising the talent in order to retain it." Giles started warming to the idea of having Xander's multilingual abilities aiding his research.

"What about physical skills?" Willow asked, her mind ticking over at the possibilities.

"Physical skills?" the question pulled Giles up short. Willow struggled to come up with something.

"Like... um... swordsmanship!"

"Yeah! Xander was unbelievable with his sword." Cordelia interjected at the funny look from Giles.

"I can't see why that wouldn't be any different. With practice I imagine that it would be retained as well." The prospect of a skilled researcher and a fighter at his disposal put a smile one his face.

Willow and Cordelia too had smiles on their faces, although for a completely different reason to Giles.


Walking down the halls just before last period Willow found herself dragged into a nearby janitors closet by Cordelia.

Chapter 6

"Cordelia! What are you doing?" a startled and confused Willow asked as Cordelia dragged her into the janitor's closet.

"We need to talk." Hissed Cordelia as she shut the door and locked it.

"In... in the janitor's closet?"

"Trust me, we want nobody overhearing what we're gonna be talking about."

Suddenly it became clear what Cordelia wanted to talk about.

"Uh, didn't we agree at the hospital never to speak of... you know, it, the group... thing."

"Yeah"  Cordelia agreed, looking about for somewhere to sit and finding none. "That was then. This is now." Gathering up her courage she went on.

"I've got a confession to make."

"You weren't possessed that night."

Cordelia's mouth hung open in surprise.

"How did you..."

"Please, Cordelia. This is me you're talking to. I heard you telling Harmony that you picked up your costume from Party Town. Count yourself lucky that Buffy does most of her thinking with her fists. My question is why?"

It was a good question and one that Cordelia had been mulling over ever since it happened.

"You know the kind of history you and me and Xander have. I looked down on you guys and you guys hated me. Then I found myself all tangled up in this Hellmouth battle, good verses evil, slay vampires and save the world rift you guys have got going. And suddenly, you're not just a pair of badly dressed, nerdy losers... don't look at me like that! You have *got* to stop letting your mom buy your clothes and somebody needs to take a flame-thrower to Xander's entire wardrobe.

"So anyway, I got to know you guys. And it turns out that I was wrong. You're not losers. Well, not entirely anyhow. Buffy's some super hero out of a comic book, right now I'm thinking The Incredible Hulk. You, well, I always knew you were a big brain, but it turns out that you've got a big heart to go with it. And Xander, watching him throw himself in front of vampires and demons to try and protect people, I guess you could say that I started to understand what you've seen in him all these years.

"Then of course came the whole Halloween thing and Xander started working that Casanova mojo and all of a sudden I'm the Jenna Jameson of Sunnydale. Seriously, that night he could have got me to do anything, and I mean anything. I'm just glad that none of you dressed up as a horse."

Willow turned eight shades of red with embarrassment for Cordelia. If the truth were to be told she could, in all honesty, say the same thing.

But she wouldn't. The horse thing was something that Willow could hit Cordelia with if ever the Cheerleader got too bitchy.

"Look, a lot of stuff happened that night and some of it... well..." Cordelia floundered, trying to express something that she didn't want to express.

"Some of it you wouldn't mind happening again. Right?"

"Yeah! I mean NO! God! Rosenburg, that night was a one off, never to be repeated, totally gross event."

"Uh huh. Never to be repeated. Gross." Willow agreed.

"That's right. I'm totally into guys. 100% red blooded heterosexual female." Cordelia proclaimed.

"Big fans of the penis." Willow added pointing at the two of them.

"Damn straight! Not attracted to you in any way, shape, or form."


Cordelia poked her head out of the janitor's closet nearly an hour later. Seeing the coast was clear, both she and Willow emerged into the hall.

The inevitable moment of awkwardness was broken first by Cordelia.

"I think we missed last period."

"We had Miss Calendar, we should be alright." Willow figured that the techno-pagan would cut them some slack since they were Scoobies and all.

"So... um... got plans for tonight?" Cordelia enquired hesitantly.

"I'm going to visit Xander. Smuggle in his daily supply of Twinkies." The guilt she was feeling evident as she mentioned Xander.

The sound of someone walking around the corner whistling caused the two girls to jump and open some distance between them.

It was Jonathan.

"Hey Willow." He greeted the redhead. Cordelia looked him up and down for a moment.

"A buzz cut and army boots? How pathetically GI Joe is that?" Cordelia demanded before turning and making her quick exit.

Johnathan watched her leave then looked to Willow.

"Nice to know that once again I get Cordelia's seal of disapproval." He paused, looking at Willow's face.

"Uh... Willow, you've got some lipstick on your face." He pointed to the area on her face. Completely horrified, Willow made a mad dash towards the nearest bathroom, leaving Johnathan shaking his head in her wake.

"I have *got* to remember never to point out makeup disasters to any woman, ever." Johnathan chastised himself. He remembered back in seventh grade when Willow tried to make herself look older to impress Xander.

"Makeup and that girl just don't mix." He muttered. With a shake of his head and a little laugh, he continued down the hall, softly singing.

"From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli..."

Chapter 7

So she called home to say she'd be late
He said, he worried but now he'd feel safe
I'm glad you're with your girlfriend,
Tell her "Hi" for me
then I looked at you, you had guilt in your eyes
But it only lasted a little while
And then I felt your hand above my knee

And we laughed at the world
They can have their diamonds
And we'll have our pearls
I kissed a girl
I kissed a girl

I kissed a girl, her lips were sweet
She was just like kissing me
I kissed a girl, won't change the world
But I'm so glad
I kissed a girl

And we laughed at the world
They can have their diamonds
And we'll have our pearls
I kissed a girl (for the first time)
I kissed a girl (and I may do it again)
I kissed a girl
I kissed a girl

I kissed a girl, her lips were sweet
She was just like kissing me (but better)
I kissed a girl

I kissed a girl, won't change the world
But I'm so glad
I kissed a girl (for the first time)
I kissed a girl (won't be the last time)
I kissed a girl
I kissed a girl


Standing just inside the doorway of Xander's hospital room, Willow watched his sleeping form as she tried to make sense of everything.

She loved Xander; she truly did and had done so for years. She had lusted after him for not quite as long; it had taken the rush of hormones associated with puberty to turn innocent thought of love into more carnal ones.

But now she also lusted after Cordelia.

It was un-natural. Not the part about Willow being interested in another girl; her mother's psychology texts had made it clear that curiosity and sexual experimentation within ones own gender wasn't uncommon in teens.

No, the un-natural part was the fact it was Cordelia. If it had been Buffy then Willow could have at least understood it. Buffy was a superhero, beautiful, and strong.

But Cordelia? The same Cordelia that had made her grade school years a living hell. The same Cordelia that had inspired the 'We Hate Cordelia' club.

The same Cordelia she had just spent the best part of an hour this afternoon getting her groove on with in the janitor's closet.

"Hey Will."

Willow snapped out of her thoughts at the sound of his voice.

"Hi... um, I didn't want to wake you."

Willow's heart did its usual flutter when Xander smiled.

"The smell of junk food and Willow is more than enough reason to awake up, not to mention the fact they both smell good enough to eat." Xander's sensual tone made Willow blush and the memory of Xander going just that gave her tingles in all sorts of places.

She sat down beside him and pulled out the food.

"I got you something from the Double Meat Palace."

"Ah, good old 100% A grade premium American beef." Xander declared then stuffed his face with the burger.

"You do realise that while it may have come from a cow, it's highly unlikely to be A grade premium anything." Willow pointed out. Xander shrugged.

"I don't particularly care, it still tastes better than hospital food."

With a speed that would be alarming to anyone who hadn't seen Xander eat before, the burger disappeared leaving only some sauce on Xander's face as evidence that it ever existed. Willow rolled her eyes.

"Maybe you should try slowing down a little when you eat, you keep getting more food on your mouth than in it. Here, let me." Willow lent over to wipe it off his face.

As she did so, her proximity was having all sorts of effects on Xander. The unique scent that was Willow, her gentle touch, the amazing beauty inside and out. He had been an idiot for too long.

With his good hand he tucked a long strand of hair behind her ear and caressed her cheek. Willow closed her eyes and revelled in his touch. Opening them again she found herself gazing deep into the warm chocolate pools of Xander's eyes.

Inch by agonizingly slow inch, their faces drew closer together until at last their lips met.

Unbelievable. That was the only word to describe it. Xander was kissing her and she was kissing him back. For years she had dreamed of this moment and now it had arrived it was a million times better than any dream. On Halloween they had done much more than kiss, but that had been Punk Rocker Chick and Casanova.

This time it was just Willow and Xander.

Eventually the kiss ended and Willow, her eyes still closed, savoured the sensation of the moment.


Willow's eyes snapped open at Xander's single word.

That was so was NOT what Willow wanted to hear from Xander at that moment.

"Um... sorry to interrupt. I'll... come back later."

Willow breathed a sigh of relief. It was just Buffy standing at the door rather than a particularly cruel slip of the tongue by Xander.

"It's OK Buffy. Come on in. Pull up a chair." Xander told the Slayer waving to a spare seat. Sitting down, Buffy looked at the two of them.

"Tell me I saw what I think I saw. I mean... you know, the kissing."

Xander had the biggest grin on his face.

"Yeah Buff, you saw what you saw."

Buffy let out a squeal of excitement.

"Ohmygodthat'ssocool!" Buffy was genuinely happy for them. She knew this was what Willow had always wanted and Xander deserved some happiness.

Willow's happiness however was tempered by guilt.

"Um, sorry guys. I've... got a stack of homework to do." Willow got up, not looking at either of them. "I'll see you tomorrow Xander." Buffy and Xander watched as the redhead left the room.

Buffy's happiness was replaced with sadness as she witnessed Willow's departure.

"She's never gonna forgive me, is she?" Buffy asked Xander, mistaking the reason for Willow's unhappy exit. Xander tried to reassure her.

"Give it time Buff. It just gonna take some time for all of us. It'll be OK eventually."


In a quiet corner of the hospital, Willow lent up against a wall and closed her eyes.

She was a bad, bad person. A two timing tramp. It didn't help that she wasn't sure if she was two timing Xander with Cordelia or vice versa. She had feelings for both of them, different ones to be sure, but real feelings never the less.

She got off the wall, muttering sarcastically to herself as she headed out of the hospital.

"Oh no, my life's not too complicated."


"Did you hear the news?" Buffy blurted as she came into the library. Giles was stacking books back into the shelves while Willow and Cordelia sat at the table reading.

"What news?" enquired Willow.

"About Jonathan and Larry."

"What happened?" Willow asked with concern. Jonathan was, if not a close friend, then someone whom Willow thought was a nice guy. A confrontation between Jonathan and Larry could only have a negative result for Jonathan.

"Well, Larry was being his usual charming self with Amy when Jonathan comes up and tells Larry to leave her alone. Larry tells Jonathan to get lost and, get this, Jonathan walks right up to Larry, looks him square in the eye and says 'Do you want me to kick your ass again?'"

"He what?" Cordelia couldn't believe her ears. "No way! Larry would paste the runt!"

"Yes way! It gets better. Larry looks down at Jonathan, mutters something about not being worth it, and leaves!"

"Holy shit! Larry just left?" Cordelia just couldn't get over it.

"Good Lord!" Giles came down from the stacks. "Mr. Levinson actually said that and survived?" Giles, while not deeply involved in the lives of many of the students, he never the less knew of both Larry's aptitude and inclination to violence and Jonathan's lack of same.

"It's gotta be something Hellmouth-y." Cordelia declared. Giles thought about it for a second.

"I believe that for once Cordelia may be onto something."

"See!" Cordelia proclaimed triumphantly. The triumph only lasted a second. "Hey! What's with the 'for once' business?"

"Maybe it has something to do with the costumes from Halloween." Willow speculated.

"Quite possibly. Does anyone know what Mr. Levinson's costume was? Or for that matter, what Larry's costume was?"

"Well, I think I saw Larry dressed up as a pirate. Willow, do you know what Jonathan was dressed as?" Cordelia asked. Willow just shrugged her shoulders.

"Looks like we've got some sleuthing to do." Observed Buffy.

"Yes. And I think it might be a good idea to see if we can get a list of what Ethan sold to whom. Just to be safe." Suggested Giles as the Scooby Gang headed out of the library in search of information.

Chapter 8

What the hell am I doing?

Seriously, something pretty damn whacked is going on here. I've turned into a great big lesbo.

Maybe not. I mean it's not like I wanna jump the bones of every female that crosses my path. Yesterday after gym I'm in the locker room with more naked girls than you could poke a stick at and nothing. Nada. Not a single twinge of attraction.

But as soon as I see Willow...

I like guys. Especially the car owning, rich, college variety. Devon is a hottie in a cool leader singer of a band way. There's a couple of the jocks who, while dumb as dirt, have killer bods and rippling six packs that incite lusty thoughts.

Then there's Xander...

Between the two of them I've turned into a walking bag of hormones. Willow has a major case of guilt going over this. Just as Xander finally opens his eyes after years of being Mr. Oblivious, Willow's having major smooch and grope sessions with someone else.


Mind you, she might feel guilty before and after our 'sessions' but during is a different story.

She worries about being caught, especially by Xander. I keep telling her that she doesn't have to worry about Xander catching her because a) he's still in hospital (although he should be coming out pretty soon), and b) guys like to watch this sort of thing.

She doesn't listen though. She reckons that Xander be hurt big time and hate both of us.

Maybe she's right. Nobody knows Xander better than Willow does, so maybe he would react badly to catching me and Willow.

I'm worried about being caught too. I'm already copping enough flack from Harmony and the rest for hanging around Willow so much. I so don't want to open my yearbook years from now and see the words 'most likely to star in a Ellen De Generates home movie' under my picture.

But I don't wanna give up Willow either.

What the hell am I gonna do?


"Hey Cordelia." Willow's greeting startled Cordelia out of her thoughts.

"Willow. Hi." The redhead sat next to the cheerleader on the bleachers overlooking the school football field.

"Whatcha doing out here?" enquired Willow.

"Thinking. You?"

"Jonathan." Willow pointed out towards the field. Cordelia had been so rapt up in her thoughts she had completely failed to notice Jonathan out on the field.

"What the hell's he doing? I mean it almost looks like the little midget is..."

"Running laps. I know." Willow finished. "It seems that since Halloween he's been on a get fit kick."

"Any idea why?"

"Well, I hacked into his internet account. He's been spending a lot of time surfing military websites, guns and war and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure that he was some kind of soldier during Halloween which would explain the kicking Larry's ass thing."

"So, what, he spends one night as GI Joe and all of a sudden it's army boots and PT? But why?"

"I suspect it's a guy thing. I'm gonna talk to Giles about it but I want to ask Jonathan a few things first."

"Do you think he'll open up about it to ya?"

"I get along pretty well with him. It's not like I picked on him and put him down for years." At the hurt on Cordelia's face Willow apologised.

"That was harsh. I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I deserved it. I guess I made more than a few people's lives a living hell, haven't I?"


They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching Jonathan puff his way around the field. Cordelia got up.

"I'll leave you to it. You planning on visiting Xander after school?"

"Yeah, I wanna bake up some cookies to take to him." Again there was guilt in Willow's voice.

"Tell you what, I'll pick you up from your place and we'll go together. How long are you planning on staying?"

"Mom and dad are in Phoenix for the week so whenever." Willow shrugged.

"OK, I'll pick you up after school." Cordelia told her.


"You want me to do what with Buffy?"

"I want you and Buffy doing sword training together."

"But why? Isn't it enough that you've got me doing all these translations" Xander waved at the pile of old books on the table beside him "without giving Buffy a chance to chop me up into fish bait?"

"You wish to retain your Halloween skills?" Giles asked the young man.

"Alright, alright. I'll do it. But if anything happens I am so going to haunt you for eternity." Threatened Xander. Giles rolled his eyes.

"Heaven forbid."

A couple of pieces of paper caught the Watcher's eye. As he picked them up Xander started babbling.

"Uh, that's not what you think it is..."

"Susan, 555 2418. Sharon 555 3190. Tanya, 555..."

"They're nurses that work here."

"And just why do you have a list of their phone numbers?" Giles enquired putting Xander in the hot seat.

"Well... In our line of business, you know, fighting vamps and stuff... you never know when you might need trained medical attention..."

Giles just looked over his glasses at Xander.

"OK, OK. Look, for the first time in my life I'm not getting shot down in flames with my chat up lines. So a couple of them left me their phone numbers. It's not like I'm gonna do anything with them. I'm all about Willow now. God knows I was stupid enough before; I'm not about to ruin the best thing in my life by hurting Willow by doing anything even more stupid. It just feels nice to have attractive women pay attention to me."

"Be that as it may, you have a new... talent... and its misuse could be..."

"With great power comes great responsibility. Thanks for the advice Uncle Ben."

Before Giles could say anything further there was a knock on the door. Xander's eyes lit up when he saw who it was.

"Wills!" he exclaimed happily. Following Willow in was Cordelia.

"Hey Xander. I've baked some cookies." Willow presented a box of fresh baked cookies.

"Oh man!" Xander grabbed a cookie. "Chocolate chip. You're the greatest!"

"Yeah, the greatest." Willow mumbled to herself dejectedly.


The four of them spent half an hour munching on Willow's cookies (Giles had become especially fond of them) and discussing Jonathan. From her talk with Jonathan, Willow had learned that he had dressed as a marine, complete with dog tags and gun courtesy of Ethan Rayne.

Giles surmised that the experience of actually being a marine had given the young man a sense of self-respect and pride that he had been lacking before. After the possession had past, rather than letting it fade, he had held onto the thoughts, attitudes, and confidence. Jonathan had taken up a gruelling fitness regime to prepare him for his ultimate post high school challenge.

Marine Corps OCS.

"That explains Jonathan, but what about everybody else?" Xander asked Giles.

"Buffy and I searched Ethan's shop of a list of customers with no success. I'd feel better if we could get hold of a list of customers."

"I could get you at least some of the names. I wouldn't be able to find out cash sales but anyone who uses credit cards and stuff I can find." Willow admitted.

"I take it that this involves some kind of illegal activity?"

Willow had the good grace to blush at Giles' question.


Giles held up his hand.

"I don't want to know."

"Wise move." Xander attested.

"Right then. Willow if you could... err... obtain, the list as soon as possible, I'll have Buffy track down the customers."

"OK." Agreed Willow getting up.

"I'll drive you home." Cordelia offered.


"Oh! Good news Willow. Doctor said I'm out of here, day after tomorrow."

"That's great news!" Willow half lied. She was happy that Xander would be out of hospital soon but worried that things would become even more complicated and messy.

It was going to end badly. Willow just knew it would.


Xander checked out Willow and Cordelia as departed with a particularly large grin.

"I hate to see them go, but man! I love to watch them leave!"

Giles decided against comment.

Once Xander was sure that Willow and Cordelia were gone he threw aside the sheets and got out of his bed.

"What are you doing?" Giles enquired.

"Getting dressed and getting out of here. Doctor said I could leave today if I wanted to."

"But you just told Willow..."

"Yeah, I lied. I wanna surprise Will at her place. Can I get a lift there?"

With a put upon huff, Giles agreed.


"Mmmm..." making out on Willow's bed Cordelia was reduced to groans and moans as Willow's lips worked their way down her neck and collarbone. Being no stranger to make out sessions, Cordelia would have to admit that Willow was in a league of her own.

While Willow's lips were busy, Cordelia's hands weren't idle; caressing the pale, soft skin and running her fingers through the long mane of fiery red hair.

The feel of Willow's cool hand tracing the curves of her chest raised goose bumps all over Cordelia.

Opening her eyes, Cordelia got the shock of her life.


Willow spun around and all the colour drained from her face. In the doorway, Xander stood open mouthed, an indescribable look on his face at the sight of the half dressed pair.

"Oh God!"

Before anyone could say anything else, Xander turned and ran.

Chapter 9

Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing.
Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing.

You ever love someone so much you thought your little heart was gonna break in two?
I didn't think so.
You ever tried with all your heart and soul to get you lover back to you?
I wanna hope so.
You ever pray with all your heart and soul just to watch her walk away?

Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing.
Baby did a bad bad thing,
Feel like crying, feel like crying.

You ever toss and turn your lying awake and thinking about the one you love?
I don't think so.
You ever close your eyes your making believe your holding the one your dreaming of?
Well if you say so.
I hurts so bad when you finally know just how low, low, low, low, low, she'll go.

Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing.
Baby did a bad bad thing
Feel like crying, feel like crying.

Ohh. Feel like crying, feel like crying.
Ohh, feel like crying, feel like crying.

Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing.


It was a perfect night for sitting alone in the graveyard. Earlier on two fledgling vampires had the misfortune of mistaking Buffy for an easy meal. The Darwinian learning curve in Sunnydale was brutal for both the living and the demonic alike.

Sitting on a tombstone, the cool night air still and quiet, Buffy was engaged in a rare moment of introspection when she sensed a familiar presence.

"Angel." She acknowledged without turning.


Angel watched Buffy fidget with her stake for a minute or so.

"What's wrong?" he asked, having a fair idea what was troubling her.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Tell you what?"

Buffy had gotten off the tombstone and was pacing.

"The night that I died. I always thought that you were the knight in shining armour come down to rescue me and that Xander just tagged along. But it turns out that Xander was my white knight who had to drag you kicking and screaming to save me."

"Buffy, I wasn't..." Angel started to object but Buffy cut him off.

"Save it. I just wanna know why you never told me."

"You never asked."

Buffy gave a little half laugh.

"Yeah, I never asked and you never told and I throw it in Xander's face just to make you jealous. And of course let's not forget me nearly beating Xander to death for something that wasn't his fault.

"It's no wonder Willow hardly speaks to me anymore and a miracle that Xander still does." Buffy stopped pacing and looked directly at Angel.

"I've been stupid and my stupidity has caused Xander and Willow so much pain and cost me the best friends I'll ever have. Do you have any idea what it's been like since Halloween? I feel... hollow. I drift around school surrounded by so many people but I feel like I'm all alone, that I can't connect to anyone. There's no laughter, no warmth, nothing that makes me feel human instead of just a machine... just a Slayer.

"I need them. I need them in my life again. I need their laughter and warmth and friendship and support and I will do anything to earn it back."

"And us?" Angel asked the question knowing he would not like the answer.

"I need your support too." A pause. "And your friendship."

Friendship. Not love, just friendship.

It didn't matter that he knew it would come to this. It didn't matter if you were a 16 year old boy or a 240 year old vampire.

It still hurt.

Angel nodded, accepting his hurt and his new place in Buffy's life. With scarcely a sound Angel turned and departed, fading into the night's shadows.


"Ohgodohgodohgod!" Willow hyperventilated. She had been power freaking since Xander caught her and Cordelia together. Cordelia grabbed hold of the redhead and tried to calm her down.

"Willow, calm down... just calm down for a bit. It'll be alright."

"Alright? How can it be alright? I cheated on him! He saw us and he ran! He hates me!"

"He doesn't hate you! Let's just calm down and..."

Willow shrugged off Cordelia's hold and grabbed her shirt.

"I gotta find him!" declared Willow as she pulled on her shirt. Cordelia struggled to pull her dress up with one hand and try to slow Willow down with the other.

"Slow down! Damn it! Will you just stop and wait for a second!"

Willow slipped her grasp and raced for the bedroom door only to barrel straight into Xander and get knocked to the floor as he came back into the bedroom. He looked down at her sprawled on the floor.

"You OK?" a concerned Xander asked. Willow scrabbled off the floor and launched herself at him, latching hold and crying into his chest.

"I'm sorry! I'm so, so sorry! Forgive me! Please!" she begged.

Pulling her off him, Xander looked at Willow in puzzlement.

"Forgive you? What the hell do I need to forgive you for?"

"For cheating on you with Cordelia! God! You must hate me!"

"Hate you? I don't hate you."

"But you ran! You saw us kissing and you ran!"

"Of course I ran! I ran to lock the front door and unhook the phone 'cause there's no way I wanna miss the show!"

Willow was confused, her mind unable to process the rapid turn of events.

Cordelia, however, had no such problem. A huge sexy smile spread across her face and she sauntered over to him.

She ran a finger down his chest.

"Miss the show? Don't worry, you can't have a show without its leading man." She moved up close to him causing Xander to nearly go cross eyed at his close proximity to her lace covered breasts.

"Wanna be a star?" she whispered in his ear then nibbled on his ear lobe.

Xander's knees buckled at the sensation. Gazing over at Willow he saw the look of fear and sadness replaced by one of lust and desire as she joined them and began nibbling on his other ear.

"Oh God I love showbiz!" he moaned.

Chapter 10

I love myself I want you to love me
When I feel down I want you above me
I search myself I want you to find me
I forget myself I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself
Ooh I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You're the one who makes me come running
You're the sun who makes me shine
When you're around I'm always laughing
I want to make you mine

I close my eyes And see you before me
Think I would die If you were to ignore me
A fool could see Just how much I adore you
I get down on my knees I do anything for you

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself
Ooh I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

I want you I don't want anybody else
And when I think about you I touch myself
Ooh, ooh, oo, oo ahh

I don't want anybody else When I think about you
I touch myself Ooh I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no


You'd have to look long and hard for a happier man than Xander Harris was as he walked the halls of Sunnydale High the next day. His clothes, his smile, the spring in his step, the quiet air of self-confidence he radiated didn't go un-noticed by everyone at school. Girls that never even looked at him were now coming back for seconds and thirds. A wink and a greeting of "Ladies" from Xander as he passed a gaggle of freshmen girls elicited blushes and giggles from the group.

Life, Xander decided as he entered the library, was good.

He spotted Buffy coming out of the book cage.

"Buongiorno mia dolce tesoro soldato di amore." Before she could say anything, Xander took hold of her hand, spun her around and dipped her in an elaborate little dance.

"Xander! What are you doing here? I thought you were still in hospital."

"They gave me time off for good behaviour. I gotta take it easy on the old left shoulder and ribs for a while but I'm good to go!"

Buffy looked him up and down noting his clothes actually matched and the massive happiness vibes he was giving off. There also was something else about him that Buffy couldn't put her finger on...

"I'm glad." She told him; happy he was up and about again and in such a good mood. "You seem awfully chirpy this morning. Care to share?"

"I went round to Willow's last night."

"Ah! And I take it there was big smoochies to be had?"

"The biggest."

The library doors swung open and Willow entered the room. The moment Willow and Xander locked eyes it was like there wasn't anybody else in the room.

Buffy watched as they kissed deeply.

"God! Get a room you two!" Cordelia demanded as she came into the library. Willow and Xander broke off their kiss and looked around the library.

"Walls." Willow said.

"Roof." Xander pointed upwards.

"Door." Willow indicated towards the library door.

"I think this meets the definition of a room." Declared Xander. Willow giggled and Cordelia rolled her eyes.

"Great, we're gonna be stuck with watching you two losers making out all day today, aren't we?"

"Yeah, and all day tomorrow." Xander said gazing at Willow. Willow wrapped her arms around Xander's neck.

"And the day after that, and the day after that." The redhead announced.

"Fabulous." Cordelia sarcastically replied.

"Well I for one am happy for you guys." Buffy honestly told them. It was good to see them happy for once and for Willow to finally get her dream guy.

"Thanks Buff. Anyway, enough about us. How was patrol last night?" Xander asked in an effort to include Buffy in the Scooby discussions again.

"Pretty quiet. Dusted two vamps, broke up with Angel. Nothing special." Buffy's casual delivery belied the pain that lurked underneath.

The announcement surprised the hell out of the others. Instinctively Willow slipped into concerned best friend mode.

"Oh god Buffy. Are you OK?" she asked. Seeing the tears roll down Buffy's face Willow went over and hugged the heartbroken Slayer.

Xander was unhappy that Buffy was hurting but he would have been a liar if he said he was unhappy to see Buffy and Angel break up. It also made him happy that Willow was acting like Buffy's friend again. Sensing that the two needed some alone time together, Xander looked over to Cordelia and cocked his head in the direction of the doors.

Once out in the deserted hallway Xander spoke to Cordelia.

"Can I ask you a huge favour? Could you ease up on Buffy a little?"

"Xander, she beat you..."

"Cordy, look. Buffy screwed up, she knows that and she regrets it. But there's really  only one person who can forgive her and that's me. And I say we start moving on and give her a chance, OK?"

Reluctantly Cordelia nodded her agreement.

"Just don't expect me to be all buddy-buddy with her."

"That's fine." Checking that they were still alone, Xander lowered his voice.

"Are you OK, you know... with what happened last night?"

Cordelia flushed a little at the question. Last night had been... wild.

"Yeah. I'm still a little sore from..." she trailed off, leaving the rest of the sentence hanging.

"Don't blame me! You were the one who wanted to try it!"

"Shhhhh! Keep your voice down!" hissed Cordelia, making sure they weren't being overheard.

"Look, last night was fun and all, but you and Willow are together now and I don't wanna screw that up for you guys."

Xander raised an eyebrow.

"I think the Queen of Mean is becoming a real person." Xander joked. Off Cordelia's angry look, he became serious again.

"I love Willow. I was an idiot for so long and I hurt Willow a lot and I don't want to hurt her again. And in a reversal of years of saying otherwise, I don't want you hurt either."

"So where do we go from here?" Cordelia asked quietly. Xander was a little shocked at the sense of vulnerability in her voice.

"We're gonna have to talk, the three of us. How about I talk to Willow tonight and the three of us can talk after that sometime? Give us all some time to think."

Cordelia agreed to his suggestion.

"That's a good idea." With a smirk, she started off towards her first class. "Careful Harris, you just might ruin your reputation as an insensitive moron."

Xander just laughed at her parting shot.

Chapter 11

"What's Giles got planned for you tonight?"

Xander and Buffy were in the library after school. Xander was dropping off some books he has translated for Giles while Buffy was waiting for Giles to return so she could start her training session.

"Callisthenics. It can get a little dull so I brought my favourite aerobicising CD to work out to."

"Aerobicising? As in bouncing around in skin tight spandex to music type aerobicising?" he asked, the associated image running through Xander's mind.

Buffy rolled her eyes at his enthusiasm.

"Don't you have a girlfriend you should be with right now?"

"I do and a fair and beautiful maiden she is. But alas I have a more pressing engagement with yet another beautiful woman."

Just then Giles returned and Xander went into his office to meet him.

"Here's the last of those books you wanted translated. By the way, this one" Xander held up a small leather bound book. "Isn't an ancient Greek Slayer training manual."

"What is it then?" inquired Giles. It was one of the books Giles had acquired from an old book dealer in LA and hadn't had time to go through as yet.

"It's a collection of poetry by Sappho and some of her friends. I'd like to keep it if I could. Unless you intend to use it to train Buffy that is." The salacious undertone in Xander's voice ruffled Giles.

"N... no, By all means, feel free to keep the book."

"Thanks." Replied Xander with a smirk. Ruffling Giles' feathers occasionally was fun.

"Who's Sappho?" Buffy asked from the office doorway. The question made Giles squirm and Xander's smirk grew.

"Giles will tell you when you're older."

Buffy crossed her arms and grumped at the two males, not appreciating being left out of the joke. She decided to pester Giles later on to tell her.

"Fine. Don't you have a pressing engagement with a beautiful woman to go to right now?"

"Yes I do and I must say, a very beautiful woman she is." He confirmed.

"And does Willow, *your girlfriend* know of this 'pressing engagement' with a 'beautiful woman' who *isn't* Willow?" ever since Halloween Xander had become something of a ladies man and Buffy was unhappy at the idea of him sneaking around behind Willow's back.

"Oh yeah! She's all for it. In fact Willow was the one who suggested it."

"WHAT?" Buffy yelled, completely unable to believe her ears.

"What are you upset about? It's just your mom."

"MY MOM!!!" Buffy went nuts.

"Buffy, chill." Xander tried to reassure the Slayer who was on the verge of loosing it completely. "I'm just baby sitting Dawn tonight for your mother. Willow suggested it as a way of getting me back into your mom's good books. After all, I did deflower her first born child in the middle of an orgy."

"Oh god." Buffy sagged in relief. "You had me freaking there for a moment."

"You thought... me and your mom..."

Buffy nodded.

Xander burst out laughing.

"It's not funny Xander! I thought I was facing the prospect of you becoming daddy dearest."

"What's wrong with that, Buff? After all, it'd mean I'd get spanking privileges." He told her, rubbing his hands together lecherously.

One look at Buffy's expression and Xander's survival instincts had him out of the library and running in seconds.


"She's nearly finished her homework and she can watch TV afterwards and not before." Joyce instructed as she was getting ready to leave. "Here's some money for pizza and remember to leave some slices of double peperoni for me."

Joyce had a weakness for double peperoni pizza.

"Consider it done." Xander reassured her.

"Good. Remember, her bedtime is 9:30, no exceptions. I'll be home around 10:30."

"I know, Mrs Summers, and the phone numbers are on the fridge if I need to call you. Relax, I've got it all under control."

"OK then." Joyce picked up her handbag and yelled up to Dawn who was in her room. "I'm off now honey! Behave yourself for Xander!"

"I will mom!" Dawn yelled back.


Nearly an hour after Joyce had left Xander knocked on Dawn's door.

"Can I come in?" he asked. Dawn opened the door then flopped back down on her bed.

"You finished your homework?" Dawn just nodded obviously upset. Concerned, Xander sat down on the bed next to the skinny soon to be 12-year-old.

"What's wrong Dawn Patrol?" Xander gently coaxed. Dawn didn't say anything for a while, instead fiddling with the ruffle on her pillow.

"Everybody at school hates me." She mumbled finally.

"No they don't." Xander tried telling her.

"Yes they do. They tease me all the time."

"What do they say?"

"They call me a teachers pet and brace face."

Xander inwardly smiled. This was familiar territory.

"When I was in your year, there was a girl in our class who was really smart like you and who had braces."

"And did everybody tease her?"

"Yeah, they did, especially Cordelia and the rest of her sheep. I got into trouble for putting rotten banana in Harmony's hair for picking on Willow."

"Wait. Willow had braces?"

"Oh yeah. Big old set too. She hated having to wear them. Food getting stuck in them, kids calling her names, not a fun happening time for Wills."

"What'd she do?"

 "Tried to put on a brave face and pretend not to care what anybody said. Didn't always work, but there was no shortage of rotten banana for revenge purposes." Xander smirked at the still pleasant memory of Harmony running away, chunks of rotten banana sliding down her head.

"You want some Xander wisdom?" he asked the youngster. Dawn nodded.

"It took me years to learn this but then boys are dumb and I'm a particularly dumb boy."

"You're not dumb." Dawn defended. She liked Xander. He didn't treat her like little kid and he made her laugh lots. Dawn though Xander was pretty cool.

"Dawnie, you're good at math, aren't you? I'm not. You get math, I don't. You're smart and I'm not." He declared. "Now you wanna hear my Xander wisdom or not?"

Dawn kept quiet.

"OK, here it is." Xander postured himself as if he was about to part the very secrets of the universe itself.

"Smart chicks are hot."

Dawn looked at Xander, not quite following or believing what he just said.

"Look, Willow's the smartest girl I know and I think she's the hottest one too. You're the second smartest girl I know and in a few years time you'll be a major league hottie as well. So don't worry too much about it because you're gonna have the last laugh. And if they still pick on you, there's always lots of bananas." He informed her with a waggle of his eyebrows, causing Dawn to laugh. Getting up, Xander stretched and held out his arm for Dawn to take hold of.

"Care to accompany me for a feast of pizza and rocky road ice cream, my fair young maiden?"

Dawn hooked her arm through his.

"Thank you Sir Alexander." She giggled as the two of them headed down stairs for a night of pizza and Play Station.


"This isn't right. School on a Saturday. It throws off my internal clock." Cordelia complained as she and the others headed to their remedial computer class.

"When are we gonna need computers for real life anyway?" demanded Xander.

"Hmm, let's see. There's home, school, work, games..." Miss Calendar listed as she opened the classroom.

"Y'know, computers are on the way out. I think paper's gonna make a big comeback."

"And the abacus." Willow added.

"Yeah, you know, you don't see enough abaci." Xander declared.

Willow, Xander and Cordelia each took a seat in front of a PC while Miss Calendar opened up her lesson plan.

"Alright, guys. The first thing we're gonna do is... Buffy!"

"Huh? Didn't we do that already?"

Xander's comment elicited glares from both Cordelia and Willow and a moment of awkward silence from Buffy and Miss Calendar.

Buffy spoke to Jenny. "Actually I wanted to talk to you for a second?" the tone in her voice concerned the techno-pagan.

"Something wrong?"

"Is there some crisis that requires instant action? Very far from here?" Xander asked hopefully.

"It's Giles."


Willow, Xander and Cordelia were researching books in the library.

"We have to figure out how to kill this thing, and we need to do it fast." Willow commented. She took a sip of tea. Willow didn't particularly like tea but in this case she drank it for reassurance. It was a very comforting 'Giles' thing to do.

"Uh, 'hot lava.'"

"That's for a heretic."

"Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, okay. Uh, ooo, ooo! 'Bury a potato!' No, that's for warts. Who writes this stuff?" Xander wondered looking at the front cover of the book he was reading.

Cordelia smiled triumphantly. "I've got the solution right here. 'To kill a demon cut off its head.'"

"Oh, yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah! We'll, uh, find Ms. Calendar, then we'll decapitate her. Hey! She'll be the first headless computer teacher in school. You think anybody'll notice?"

"Do you know what you need, Xander, besides a year's supply of acne cream? A brain."

Xander got up off the table.

"That's it! Twelve years of you and I'm snappin'! I don't care if you're a girl or not, I'm throwin' down! Come on!"

Cordelia walked right up to him.

"I've seen you fight. And don't think I can't take you!"

"Give it your best shot." Xander challenged the cheerleader. Willow had had enough.

"HEY! We don't have time for this! Our friends are in trouble! Now, we have to put our heads together and, and get them out of it! And if you two aren't with me a hundred and ten percent, then get the hell out of my library!" she yelled pointing to the door.

"We're sorry." Cordelia apologised meekly.

"We'll be good." Promised Xander. Willow nodded and sat back down,

"Okay. Now, we've done the research. We just have to figure out how to use it."

"Oh, hey! Why don't we find another dead body for the demon to jump into!" Xander exclaimed.

"Yes! At the cemetery." Cordelia added, liking Xander's idea. Willow was less enthusiastic.

"Well, that won't kill the demon. It'll only give it a change of scenery." Just then something seemed to click. "Oh. Oh! Oh, I've got it!" an excited Willow ran to the phone. "I've got it!"

Watching the redhead Xander shook his head in wonder.

"She's good!" he said following Willow.

Cordelia smiled and followed also.

"Nobody like our Willow." Cordelia agreed.


"Is she okay?" Buffy asked her Watcher out in front of the library.

"Um... The hills are not alive."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I think." Buffy said, not quite sure what Giles meant.

"I don't think she'll ever really forgive me. Maybe she shouldn't." Giles berated himself for putting the lives of both Jenny and Buffy in danger.

"Maybe you should."

"I never wanted you to see that side of me."

"I'm not gonna lie to you. It was scary. I'm so used to you being a grownup, and then I find out that you're a person."

"Most grownups are."

"Who would've thought?"

"Some are even, uh... short-sighted, foolish people." He admitted.

"So, after all this time, we finally find out that we *do* have something in common, other than orgies. Which, apart from being a little weird, is kind of okay." There was a moment of companionable silence. "I think we're supposed to be training right now."

"Yes. Yes. Um, need to concentrate on your flexibility." Giles told Buffy, slipping back into Watcher mode.

"And you know what? I have just the perfect music." Buffy held up a black CD. "Go on, say it. You know you want to." She teased.

"It's not music, it's just, uh, meaningless sounds."

"There. Feel better?"

"Yes. Thanks."

The two of them headed into the library.

"Bay City Rollers. Now, that's music." Giles pronounced.

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"I didn't hear that."


Later that afternoon saw Willow, Cordelia, and Xander together in an empty classroom.

"I've come to a decision. About us, that is." Willow declared.

When Xander had brought up the subject the other night he had left the decision to Willow who wanted some time to think it over.

Now the moment of truth had come and Cordelia did her best to hide her fear of the inevitable rejection that was heading her way.

In a choice between Xander and Cordelia, Cordelia knew Willow's choice would always be Xander.

"For years I loved this big clueless doofus." Willow told Cordelia, indicating to Xander. "Despite the fact he didn't feel the same way, it was Willow and Xander against the world. Always was and always will be. And now that I've finally got him I'm not about to let him go."

"OK." The disappointment and hurt clear in Cordelia's acceptance of Willow's decision.

"I'm not finished yet." Willow told her.

"Me and Xander are together and nothing's gonna change that fact. But what we; you, me, Xander; what we've got is special too. It's weird and strange and crazy but I don't want it to end and I can't see a reason why it would have to. I mean, unless, of course, you don't want it..."

Cordelia surprised herself with her tears of joy.

"Of course I want it..."

Willow and Xander came over to her and enveloped her into a comforting group hug.

"Call us nuts, but we really care for you Cordy." Xander whispered into her ear.

"You guys are nuts." Cordelia laughed, wiping away her tears. For the first time in her life, Cordelia felt accepted for who she truly was rather than her money or looks.

The fact that it was the two people she had for so long branded rejects was an irony not lost on Cordelia.

After a while, Cordelia broke off the hug.

"So what exactly are we now?" Cordelia wondered. Willow rubbed her nose in thought.

"How 'bout... friends with benefits. How's that sound?" suggested Willow.

"Sounds good." Cordelia said.

Xander's chocolate eyes twinkled

"How about we find somewhere more private to exercise those benefits?"

"Sounds better." Purred Cordelia.

Chapter 12

"You Bronzing it tonight?"

Cordelia looked at Xander and rolled her eyes.

"No. I'm gonna stay at home and study like a big nerd."  She told him sarcastically.

"Why bother Cordy? Beauty may be transitory but stupid is forever."

"Gee Xander, looks like you're facing eternity."

"Guys!" barked Willow giving them a look that would make Snyder cringe.

Xander and Cordelia looked like two little kids that had been reprimanded by the teacher.

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry Wills."

Willow nodded, satisfied with their contrition.

"Are you coming to the Bronze tonight or not?" Willow asked the cheerleader.

"I'll be there." She replied.

With that, Willow checked her watch then picked up her bag, signalling to the others it was time to head off to class.

"Is it just me, or is something weird going on with those three?" Buffy wondered aloud as she watched Willow, Xander, and Cordelia leave the library.

With a sigh, Giles resigned himself to being dragged into his Slayer's social life yet again.

"What type of... weirdness?" he asked.

"The fighting. Xander and Cordelia have been fighting way too much lately."

"Buffy, as I am lead to believe, they have been at each other since kindergarten so it's hardly something new."

"Giles, it's weird. Xander and Cordelia could be in the middle of huge fight when along comes Willow and with a look or a word they become meek as mice. I don't get it."

Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose; a sure sign of stress in the Watcher.

"Have you considered the possibility that Willow is just exercising her self confidence?"

"But it's... un-Willow like!"

"People change, Buffy, especially at your age. Willow is an intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead of her and in her first serious relationship. She's learning at assert herself and you should be happy for her."

"I am, I really am. It's just..." Buffy sat on the edge of the table. "They're spending so much time together lately. At school, going to the Bronze, even out on patrol they stick together. I walk into the room and they stop talking. One of them will say something and the other two laugh like they've got some kind of joke that only insiders get."

"And you feel like an outsider." Observed Giles, cutting to the real root of Buffy's concern.

"Yeah. Before it was just Willow, Xander, and me slaying and playing. It was good, really good. I didn't know just how good it was until I blew it.

"Now it's Willow, Xander, and Cordelia and I'm a third wheel or something. Willow's talking to me again which is good and Cordelia isn't being such a bitch which is also good."

"And Xander?"

"He said he's forgiven me and I think he really has. But things aren't back to normal and I'm not sure it's because I hurt Xander. It's something else."

"Such as?"

Buffy shrugged her shoulders.

"Wish I knew."


Early that evening, Buffy headed towards the library with a heavy sense of resignation. No social life, no love life, just school, slaying, and training with Giles.

Once inside the library, Buffy was surprised to find not Giles but Willow and Xander instead.

"Buffy! You're so very much the person we wanted to see!" Xander exclaimed.

"Er... not that I'm unhappy to see you guys, but I thought you were going to the Bronze tonight."

"We are. We just wanted to drag you with us. So how about it? Join us for a happening night of Scooby Gang fun?" offered Willow. To Buffy it was almost like old times again, their enthusiasm for a night together at the Bronze was contagious.

Buffy's happiness came crashing down when she remembered what she was supposed to be doing tonight.

"Sorry guys, I can't. Giles is on a big training phase at the moment and between the training and the Slaying..." Buffy looked about the library, confusion then surprise on her face.

"Uh, where's Giles? I was expecting him to lecture me about being ten minutes late."

"We talked to Giles and he changed his mind about you training and slaying tonight. After all, all slay and no play makes for an unhappy Buffy."

Buffy was amazed, Giles never budged when it came to one of his training fixations.

"How did you do it?" she wanted to know for future reference.

"We talked to him, well, Xander talked to him." Willow informed Buffy, nudging Xander in the ribs.

"I asked Giles if you could come out to the Bronze tonight and of course he said no. Your lessons were far more important."

Buffy's confusion was back.

"Then what changed his mind?"

"I told him that he was probably right and that in fact it was such a good idea that instead of going to the Bronze I should be trying to improve my grades. Then I asked him if I should get some after school tutoring and he thought it was a great idea. I reasoned that since I wasn't going out to the Bronze tonight and one of the subjects I needed help in most was computers, that I should go see Miss Calendar. You know, for some after hours one-on-one sessions; help raise the old grade point average."

"Oh my God! You threatened to seduce Miss Calendar!"

"I did no such thing!" Xander replied indignantly. "All I did was express my desire to better my education."

"Yeah, right. I take it that Giles is at Miss Calendar's place right now."

"With watch dogs and a shotgun, no doubt." Willow offered cheerfully.

"So how about it, Buff? You up for some fun at the Bronze?"

Buffy couldn't help but shake her head in amused disbelief.

"You're unbelievable sometimes, you know that Xander? But since you went to all that trouble how could a girl say no? Count me in."

"Cool!" exclaimed Willow excitedly.

"Willow." Xander said, offering his right arm to his girlfriend who took it.

"Buffy." He offered his other arm to the Slayer.

Linked arm in arm, the three headed out of the library for their night out.


The Bronze was even more packed than usual for a Friday night. Groups of teens clustered about all over the place, the thumping beat of the band in their ears and the ever-present rush of hormones in their blood. Surveying the scene from their vantage point of the balcony was Willow, Xander, and Buffy. Buffy spotted something on the dance floor that made her jaw drop.

"Hey guys! Look!" she pointed out to a dark corner of the Bronze. Her friends looked where Buffy was pointing and their jaws dropped too.

"Oh. My. God." Was all that Willow could say.


And Amy.

Making out.

Xander smiled.

"Way to go Jonathan!" he cheered. Buffy's smile wasn't quite as big.

"Looks like just about everybody has got a love life except me." She lamented. Willow gave her friend a reassuring hug.

"Don't sweat it, you'll find somebody. I promise."

They looked for a little while longer before locating Cordelia. She was sitting at a table talking to Harmony and a gaggle of Cordettes.

By the expression on Cordelia's face, it wasn't a friendly chat.

Seeing it, Willow and Xander growled at the sight. Cordelia had been copping a fair bit of flack from Harmony about hanging so much with Willow and the others. Cordelia pretended that it didn't get to her but Willow and Xander knew better.

They watched as Harmony and the others left Cordelia alone whose shoulders sagged after the encounter.

"Guys. Why don't you head on down to Cordy. I'm gonna talk to our friend Harmony." A hint of steel in his voice.

"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Willow asked her boyfriend.

"Yep. Good old fashioned get square." He confirmed.

"You think she'll take the bait?"

"Wills, I'm gonna wiggle so good she won't even notice the hook."


"What on earth is he doing?" Buffy asked for the tenth time that night. Xander has sauntered over to where Harmony and the others were sitting. From their table, Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia watched as Xander had gone on a major charm offensive. In an hour the Cordettes had gone from hostile to fawning Xander-philes.

Currently Xander and Harmony were on the dance floor where Xander was working his Casanova mojo to the extreme and Harmony was practically throwing herself at him. Nearly half the school was watching the pair.

"Fishing." Willow told her friend without taking her eyes off the two on the dance floor.

"Fishing? For god's sake! Harmony's practically humping his leg out there!"

"Mmmm..." hummed Willow in contemplation. "I think you're right Buffy." Turning to Cordelia, Willow said "I think it's time we taught Harmony a lesson in fishing. You head on over and we'll be there in a minute."

As she approached the dance floor, Cordelia could see the look of pure lust and desire in Harmony's eyes as she ground herself up against Xander. Xander spotted Cordelia approaching and gave her a wink.

*This is gonna be fun.* Cordelia thought to herself.

Cordelia appeared behind Xander, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and whispering something in his ear. Xander smiled as she ran her hands across his chest, all the while pressing her breasts up against his back.

Harmony glared daggers at Cordelia.

Cordelia's eyes twinkled and her hands traveled lower, her fingers tracing circles on his abs.

Unwilling to give up and leave, Harmony watched in growing anger as Cordelia's hands headed down even further to rest of Xander's hips.

A growing number of people were now watching the events on the dance floor.

Buffy's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when she saw Cordelia's hand reach around and caress the noticeable bulge on Xander's jeans.

"Did you just see what I saw? What in the hell is she doing?" Buffy asked the redhead.

"She's teaching Harmony a lesson. Why don't you go up there and gave her a hand? Show Harmony what a real sexy dance is." Willow purred into Buffy's ear, sending shivers down the Slayer's spine.

Cordelia and Xander spotted Buffy heading over to them.

This was going to be good.

Totally ignoring Harmony, Buffy put herself between her and Xander.

"Hey Buff. What ya up to?" he asked.

"Thanking you."

Xander's heart rate, already high, went through the roof as Buffy started her sexy dance, grinding up against him.

The first time she had danced like this Buffy had hurt Xander to make Angel jealous. Tonight there would be no hurting Xander.

By now the entire Bronze was watching Harmony's public humiliation.

Willow decided that it was time to put Harmony out of her misery.

Striding purposefully, Willow pushed her way through the crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle. Buffy made way for Willow.   Reaching up, Willow passionately kissed Xander to the hoots and cheers of the crowd.

It was a scorching hot kiss.

Eventually the kiss ended and Willow went right up to a red faced and humiliated Harmony.

"Always remember two things. First: you're nothing but a little fish in a great big pond. And second: never, ever, mess with me and mine again."

With that Willow lead the others off the dance floor and out of the Bronze.


"Holy shit! Did you see Harmony's expression when Willow got right in her face? 'Never, ever, mess with me and mine again'. You're bad to the bone, Wills." Xander declared as they walked down the alleyway next to the Bronze.

"Just defending my friends, that's all."

"Gotta admit it was pretty intense in there." Buffy understated. She was still tingling from the sheer eroticism of the dance.

"But a hell of a lot of fun." Cordelia said. "Speaking of fun, you guys want to head back to my place. Mom and Dad are in LA for the weekend so how about we have a pool party?"

Willow and Xander exchanged a look.

"Wet and wild at the Chase place? We're in." Xander told Cordelia. "How about you Buff?"

Buffy was taken aback a little at the invite.

"Well, uh, sure. That is if Cordelia doesn't mind."

"Buffy, you're coming to my place and swimming in my pool whether you like it or not."

"OK then. I'll swing by home and grab my swimmers." Buffy turned to head off but three sets of hands grabbed her.

"You don't need them." Willow informed.

"What'd you mean I won't need them?" Buffy asked in confusion. The confusion disappeared when she saw an identical look of lust in three sets of eyes. Buffy swallowed hard.



Baby you know' you're the one for me
And all that I want to be is...

You and me... and her' simultaneous
You and me... and you and you' simultaneous
Simultaneous lovin' baby' two or three...
Simultaneous ooh' come on

Have an open mind' blow my trigger down
Gimme the last cold turkey blast' make it fast
Take my ass to town

Have an open mind' send my cares away
Ring my bell you fat piggy whale' what the hell Today's your lucky day

You and me... and her' simultaneous
You and me... and Wynona Rider' simultaneous
Simultaneous lovin' baby' two or three...
Simultaneous' ooh' come on

Have an open mind' is a normal thing to do
Don't be rude' just get nude
Oh' you're being rude' I would do it for you
Baby please have an open mind' you're the only one I love
These girls you see' baby they don't mean anything' let's all just get in the tub
You and me... and her too' simultaneous
You and me... and your momma and your sister
Simultaneous lovin' baby' two or three...
Simultaneous oww' come on

Everybody in the pool!

Have an open mind' don't be so mean to me
Call your sister and your mother and your aunt
It's every man's fantasy
Have an open... woa' baby' put that knife away
Don't be mad' I'll take you back' just relax' we can make love your way
I'm talking about

You and me... and some flowers and some wine' instantaneous
You and me... and Whitney Houston 'on the radio' babe' on the radio'
Some candles and some good feelings
Just the two of us
Oh' fudge it
Now' I'm talking about

You and me... and her and her and her' simultaneous
You and me... and women in the house' simultaneous
Three and seven' make it a baker's dozen
See the ladies in the house clap your hands
Now that'd be a party' ladies

Chapter 13

Some times I feel guilty, usually after feeling thankful for what Ethan did to me that Halloween. Generally I try not to think too much about it.

It was amazing that night at Cordy's. We; me, Wills, Cordy, Buff; we were together for the first time. It wasn't really us during Halloween; three of us were literally somebody else. But that night at Cordy's, we were ourselves, knowing and fully consenting to what we were doing.

Which was just as well, some of the stuff we got up to that night would still get you the electric chair in Texas.

And you know what? I reckon that I'd still have a great big smile on my face even as they threw the switch for old sparky.

After our little display at the Bronze, reaction at school was mixed. Harmony and the other sheeple were mega peeved at us. They tried to make life as difficult for us as possible but we managed. The rest of the school was quietly supportive of us. Nothing major, but you could tell whose side they were on by the occasional respectful nod as they passed us in the hallways. Sunnydale may be the denial capital of the world but deep down everyone at school knew it wasn't the nice place it looked.

I guess deep down they also knew that somehow we were the reason why things in Sunnydale weren't much worse.

Buffy Summers, Class Protector.

Meeting Kendra was a hell of a shock for the Buffster. For a long time she lived with the idea that she was the only one, the Chosen One. Suddenly, thanks to me, it was the Chosen Two.

Kendra was nice, a little awkward around me at first; she didn't associate much with boys before.

A night with Willow and me rectified that situation.

It hit both of us hard when Drucilla killed her later that year.

It was normally just Willow and me or us and Cordelia. Occasionally Buffy would join us, sometimes with Cordelia, sometimes without. Willow made it a rule that if we were gonna bring in someone for 'playtime' that both she and I had to be there and we both had to agree to it.

Fine by me. Willow seems to have a preference for the ladies anyway so I think there's little danger she'll drag some spiky haired musician guy in.

Buffy spent the rest of high school a single gal. She'd occasionally try to date some guy but it never worked out. She'd come to me and Willow for comfort snuggles or after a particularly intense patrol or during crisis periods.

That nearly cost us in our fight with the Mayor. We spent so much of our time going at it like bunnies it was a wonder that we had the time or energy left over to defeat him.

But we did defeat him at graduation, thanks to Jonathan and his soldier memories. Best way to finish high school, watch your rat-boy principal get eaten by a giant snake then blow up the whole school to save the world.

Very therapeutic.

Afterwards Angel went to LA, I guess he couldn't stay any longer watching the woman he loved and knowing that he'd never have her again.

Which in my book is a good thing.

A not so good thing was Cordelia. Her family went broke and Harmony made sure that everybody knew it. After graduation she bid us a tearful goodbye, destined for LA and to take her shot at fame and fortune.

I can understand her need for a fresh start somewhere where her family's fall from grace didn't matter.

She's a fighter our Cordy.

Graduation saw Buff, Wills, and me do the 'Great Scooby Gang Road Trip to See America'. We headed down to LA (with a brief stop over in Oxnard that turned out to be very worthwhile financially) to see Buffy's old stomping grounds. Cordy couldn't meet us, something about auditions for a photo shoot, and we were only in town for a day.

From there we did the Grand Canyon and then headed north for purple mountain majesties. Eventually we hit the Canadian boarder then swung east, ending up in Cleveland.

God must have a sense of humour. Not only did we end up in a city with its very own Hellmouth (evil must be into franchising) but its very own Slayer to boot. With Kendra's death the mantle of Slayer fell on the shoulders of a wildcat called Faith.

We never got any further with our road trip. The rest of the summer we spent with Faith 'slaying and screwing' as she put it. One slayer in bed is a handful; two is an invitation for pleasure and pain. I lost ten pounds in Cleveland and Willow picked up a leather fetish.

Driving out of Cleveland and heading back to Sunnydale was a mixture of reluctance and relief. Another week of tag team slayer and me and Willow wouldn't have survived.

But hey! What a way to go!

We got back to Sunnydale and Buffy and Willow started college while I started looking for employment. I could have gone to college and studied languages but to be honest I'm not really a college type of guy. Willow on the other hand is loving it, for the first time she could expand her academic boundaries as well as her sexual ones.

We haven't 'played' with Buffy much since getting back and not at all since she met Riley. He seems like a nice enough guy, clean cut, and not a vampire (which is important). Buffy's keen to see this relationship work.

I hope it does too.


Xander stood in the middle of the university quad waiting for Willow. He was planning on taking his girlfriend out to dinner to celebrate his new job working at the pub on campus.

A squeal and a body jumping on him from behind announced Willow's arrival.

"Xander!" the enthusiasm in her voice and the huge happy grin on her face was a further reminder why he loved this woman so much.

"You're in a good mood this afternoon. I take it you had fun?"

"Big fun. In fact..." Willow spotted something across the quad "I think I've found someone perfect that I think we'll both love." She purred. For a while now Willow had been expressing a desire to find a new 'playmate'. She found comfort in being able to have the best of both worlds.

"Really? And when can I meet this perfect someone?"

"How about now? But I warn you Xander, I think this might be a case of a bridge too far."

Xander watched Willow head across the quad. He wondered just what could be so challenging. Willow caught up with a young woman and she started bringing her over to meet Xander.

As they approached Xander studied her.

She was blonde, a full figure hidden under unflattering clothes that told Xander she was probably self-conscience about her body. Her body language indicated a large degree of shyness. She had an air of earth mother about her and the necklace she was wearing singled her out as a practicing Wicca.

But there was something about her that Xander couldn't quite put his finger on as Willow did the introductions.

"Xander, meet Tara."

Irresistible force, meet immoveable object.

The End