Remembered Love

Author: Joe T <eojt665em[at]>

DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Joss Whendon, Mutant Enemy, WB, others, and just about everyone but me.

SUMMARY: Continuation of Forgotten Love.

SPOILERS: As always, everything is fair game

RATING: PG-13, implied sex.

Part 1

Hyperion Hotel

Although she had not been back from Pylea for very long, and she hadn't been particularly outgoing before she went there, Fred felt she could tell exactly how Cordelia was feeling at the moment. The sigh Cordelia gave and the fact she seemed near tears helped.

"What's wrong?"

Looking up, Cordelia took a second to consider her answer, "Nothing." "Something is wrong, after certain phone calls you always look upset. It's really not good to just hide how you're feeling, especially when you feel bad about something."

Not noticing Wesley and Gunn as they walk in, Cordelia decides to answer her, "The person on the phone was Xander."

"Your old boyfriend?"


"What did he say? Was he being mean? Did he start talking about things he knows you don't like just to make you feel bad or…"

Interrupting her, Cordelia says, "No, he just asked to talk with Angel, and asked me to tell Wesley a he has a copy of some book he was looking for."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

Slightly confused, Fred asks, "Why do you look like you're going to cry then?"

"Because that is how every conversation I have with him goes, he doesn't talk to me at all. He's polite, sometimes he even sounds cheerful, but it's like we don't know each other."


"We had to put up with each other during senior year, after we broke up. Even though I was mean to him every chance I got, he helped keep a secret of mine from getting out, and bought my prom dress for me. I thought that was his way of trying to start over, but after he came back from his road trip I didn't hear from him once."

"Why don't you say something?"

"I can't, he's doing what I told him to."

Now extremely confused, Fred says, "I don't understand."

When we first broke up, he knew it was his fault, and he tried to talk to me, to ask for another chance. I told him to stay away from me, and he's doing exactly what I told him." Seeing Wesley and Gunn, Cordelia quickly wipes her eyes and turns back to Fred, "I'm going for some lunch, I'll bring you back something if you'll cover the phone."


A few seconds after she leaves, Wesley speaks, "Strange…"


"Xander's behavior. That doesn't seem like him at all."


Smiling at Fred as he recalls the memory, Wesley answers, "Well, when he'd heard I was working with Angel, he made it a point to see me in person and tell me that being fired by the Watchers was the best thing that could have happened to me. That was when we first started exchanging books, we split the cost of having them copied and bound, and we both keep a copy on computer disk as well, just in case. He also went and sat down with Angel for a while, they had a few issues to work out, now we keep in regular contact with him."

Speaking up, Gunn adds, "He even made the trip to meet me, we pass along any rumors and info we come across. He's the one that came up with turning my crossbow rig into a compound bow, for less size and weight with more power."

"That was a good idea…"

Interrupting the two as they start talking, Fred asks, "But he never asked about Cordelia, at all?"

"Come to think of it, no."

"Not that I can remember."

"When are you going for that book Wesley?"

"I was going for him in a few minutes. I wanted to show Xander the new rig, he hasn't seen it yet." Gunn answers.

"I'll go with you. I'll ask him about Cordelia."

"Are you sure that's a good idea? I understand Xander has a relationship with someone else now." Wesley asks.

"What could happen?"

Several hours later

Taking in the haggard appearance of Fred as she and Gunn enter the hotel, Wesley asks, "I guess you found out what could happen. How did things go?"

None of the three notice Cordelia as she enters from one of the side doors.

"Where's Cordelia?" Hearing Fred asking about her, Cordelia can't help but eavesdrop.

"She stepped out a few minutes ago, she should be back any second." "Ok, well, Xander really is nice, he's very sweet, and I think his girlfriend Anya might be a little insane." Cordelia smirks slightly at hearing this.

Shaking his head, Gunn adds, "That girl has some issues. First, she's a bit…"

"Open about their sex life." Fred finishes with a slight blush, while Cordelia's smirk quickly disappears.

"I don't think I want to know."

"Plus she watches him like a hawk. I was watching her a little, she tenses up when any other girl goes near him, even Buffy's little sister. She's definitely the jealous type." Gunn mentions "What about what you went there to ask about, Fred?"

"Xander was showing me around the magic shop, when we were in the training area I asked him. Anya heard me and practically pushed me out the back door." Fred says.

"I was near the doorway so I could listen in, Anya started telling Xander that Fred was crazy and trying to steal him away from her."

One eyebrow arching at this, Wesley wonders out loud, "Well, she was a demon for over a thousand years, readjusting can take awhile…"

"This wasn't readjusting issues, this was psycho-girlfriend issues." Gunn remarks.

"I just asked Xander if he knew Cordelia, he said she was the girl that worked with us…"

"And then I thought Anya was going to attack Fred." Gunn finishes.

"I don't think any woman wants her boyfriend being questioned about a girl he used to date, particularly by a friend of the other girl. She might have acted a bit extremely…"

"She didn't have to."

"I know you had good intentions Fred…"

"No, Wesley, you don't understand, Xander didn't remember Cordelia." "At all?"

"It was like he didn't know Cordelia until after she started working here. His eyes got a little glassy and that's when Anya rushed in, and I got rushed out."

"His eyes became glazed over you say?"

"Uh huh."

Rising up and heading over to one of the stacks of books as he speaks, Wesley says, "That sounds as if he is under some sort of spell."

"WHAT!" The three turn to see an angry Cordelia is making her way toward them.

"Cordelia, we were talking…"

"I heard you. You think Xander is under a spell."


"Give me the keys for the weapon cabinet, I know how to break a witches spell."

"Really?" Fred asks, as Wesley moves over to the cabinet.

"Oh yeah, this girl Amy, her mom was a witch, she struck me blind for a while, set another girl on fire, anyway, after I started helping them out, Xander showed me the book that said how to break any spells a witch has cast."

Realization dawning on his face, Wesley steps away from the cabinet and states, "Cordelia, I can't let you just decapitate someone, we…" he ducks as Cordelia simply grabs a nearby chair and throws it through the glass front of the cabinet. She quickly grabs a sword and is halfway to the stairs when Gunn calls out to her, "Wait! We might be able to break the spell without killing her."

Cordelia walks back to the cabinet and puts the sword back as Wesley adds, "Not to mention if there is a spell, Anya more than likely had some other witch or even a demon cast it. Killing her will just make it easier for us to visit you and Faith at the same time, as you'll likely be sharing a prison cell."

"Fine, I won't kill her. I just slap her around…" Pulling a mace out of the cabinet, "With this, until she takes the spell off."

"Anya might not have had a spell cast at all. Let's call Willow and see if she can figure anything out first. She might be able to find out exactly what is going on."

Part 2

Hyperion Hotel

"Well, Willow isn't at her home, or Buffy's, do any of you know where else she could be?" Wesley asks.

"Anya's store." Fred says, sinking into the couch a little at the look she receives from Cordelia.

"I'll call, Cordelia, don't say anything, if this is true I don't want to tip our hand." Wesley says, cutting off any objections.

After several rings, Anya answers the phone, "The Magic Box, how may I help you?"

"Anya, its Wesley, is Willow there?"

"Not right now, she should be here in a few hours though."

"I see, could you have her call me when…"

Interrupting him, Anya says, "Is it about witch stuff? Tara is right here and she probably knows more than Willow."

"That would be perfect, we have a small situation here, and it would be best to settle it quickly."

"Hang on a second, TARA! Here she is."


"Tara, it's Wesley, we have a small problem here and I was wondering if you could help us out a bit?"

"Ok, what is it?"

Looking at Cordelia, and not wanting to risk Anya listening in, Wesley decides to tell a half-truth, "Well, it could be rather embarrassing, so I'd rather not say over the phone, could you come up to the hotel?"

"Ok, I need to be back tomorrow afternoon, so I'm heading there now." "We'll be waiting."

"Why didn't you tell her what was going on?" Cordelia asks when Wesley has hung up.

"We aren't sure of that ourselves, and Anya might have been listening in. Tara is quite skilled from what I understand, I'm sure we'll know exactly what has happened soon."

Two hours later

As Tara walks into the hotel, she quickly notices the tension in those present. "Hi, what do you need help with?"

"How much do you know about spells that affect memory?"

Slightly wincing at the memories that brings up, Tara answers; "I've had to deal with them a little. They're actually easy to break, depending on the focus used."

"How do we break it?" Cordelia asks.

"Well, it depends on what type of spell, a memory alteration spell can only change some specific memories, that uses a small piece of a plant as a focus. The leaves have to be in direct contact, so just take them off, and the spell will fade. A forget spell is more general, it removes entire segments of memory, but once the focus, a crystal, is smashed, the memories are completely recovered instantly. Or you could just bring up the memories that had been forgotten.

They're really still in the person's mind, they're just being covered up."

"We don't really have any way of doing any of those things, is it possible to remove one of those spells, preferably from a distance?" Thinking for a moment, Tara answers, "I suppose I could alter a Disenchant spell to work on people. Who is it for? I don't know how it might effect Angel's soul curse."

"It isn't for Angel, as far as we know the person is completely human and without any significant magical powers." Wesley answers.

Writing down several items, Tara answers, "Oh, well, I'll need these ingredients, and do you have any books on psychic magic? Mind magic in particular."

"I'll get the powders and stuff, will the usual stores have them?"

Nodding at Gunn, Wesley then turns to Tara, "I have a copy of Degargon's 'Energies Pattern's of the Mind'."

"Perfect, I've been looking for that book."

"I was going to have a copy made to send to Xander in a few days, I don't think he'll mind if you get it first."

One hour later

"Ok, I think it's finished. This spell will remove all enchantments from a living creature within twenty feet."

"Can we test it first? I just want to be absolutely sure of what happens." Cordelia asks.

"How do we test it?"

"Tara can make me forget something, and then do the spell."

"I really don't feel comfortable doing that, if I make a mistake then it might take patches out of your memory going back for years."

"I'll do it." Everyone turns as Fred quietly speaks. "I mean, I don't think I'd mind losing some of my memories from Pylea."

Slowly nodding her head, Tara agrees, "Ok, but we'll just do something small. Wesley, could you hold up a pen?"

Wesley holds up a simple red pen.

"Ok, now leave, and take the pen with you. Fred, what color was the pen?


"Ok, I'm going to make you forget about the pen." Tara chants for a few seconds, and then stops, looking at Fred, "What color was the pen Wesley held up?"

"It was…I…I don't know. I remember him holding up a pen, and he took it with him, I saw it, but I can't remember anything else."

"Neat, can you make Visa forget I owe them anything?" Gunn jokes.

Ignoring him, Cordelia asks Tara, "How long should it take for her memory to return?"

"It should come back the instant I'm done with the Disenchant spell." Tara then begins casting the next spell, this one takes several minutes, and a bright flash occurs when she finishes.

"Red, the pen was red!" Fred exclaims happily, stopping when she sees the tears streaming down Tara's face.

Tara just sits quietly as she remembers things she'd been forced to forget.

The ride to Xander's apartment, the hateful look Anya gave Willow as they entered.

Willow mocking Anya, throwing the real reason she'd lost her powers back at her.

Willow sitting in the corner of Xander's bedroom, one hand going up her shirt, the other going down her pants.

The way Xander's kisses burned along her collarbone, ending on her earlobe.

His hands holding her hips while she scratched her nails down his back The glazed look in her eyes as she saw herself in a mirror, the same look she knew had been in Xander's eyes.

Breaking down, Tara begins sobbing uncontrollably, Cordelia quickly rushing to her.

"Was it blue?" Fred asks timidly, hoping she is wrong about why she thinks Tara is crying.

"She…she made me…"

Peeking his head around the corner, Wesley asks, "Did it work?"

"A little too well I think." Gunn sighs.

"Anya messed around with her memories too." Fred adds "Not Anya…it was Willow. She did it. She did everything."

Several minutes later, Tara has calmed down enough and tells them what she'd heard Willow saying to Anya, "Willow liked to remind Anya of why she didn't have any powers. She said Anya was supposed to tell you Xander never actually cheated on you, because there was magic involved. She gave you a wish anyway, that's why D'Hoffryn refused to give her a new power center."

"Xander didn't cheat on me?" Cordelia asks, amazed.

"No, my guess is Willow was using lust spells, and then making him forget when she could. Now she just blanks his mind and…"

"I get it."

"Anya knew, but she couldn't do anything."

"Why not tell Buffy or someone else?" Fred asks.

Laughing, Cordelia answers, "Yeah right, Willow is the powerful witch who's been Buffy's best friend since she got to Sunnydale. Anya is an ex-demon that shacked up with Xander. Buffy wouldn't listen to her." "So what do we do?" Gunn asks.

"Well, Fred, Tara and I are going for some food, Angel should be back soon right?"


"Then we all head down to Sunnydale. Willow is still a witch and Buffy might believe her. I'd like Angel there just in case."

"Good plan."

"Thank you, come on Tara, Fred." Cordelia says as she leads the other two out to her car.

"She does seem to be thinking much more clearly than before."

"Yup. Especially considering what we just found out." Gunn answers, both men then look at each other.

"I'll get Angel here right away." Wesley states.

"I'll follow them."

"Bring your cell-phone, call if they start towards Sunnydale."

Part 3


Much to Gunn's relief, the phone in the Hyperion Hotel barely rings once before Wesley answers it, "Hello?"

"Wesley, it's me. Cordelia drove them to a Wal-mart."

"She didn't buy a gun did she?"

"No, waiting period, but she came out of there with a new pair of Dockers and a bat. I got cut off and lost them, but I think they were on their way to Sunnydale. Should I head there?"

"No, come back to the hotel, Angel will be here in ten minutes, we'll try and contact Buffy first. She should be able to keep things calm long enough for us to get there."

"I hope you're right, Cordelia looked like she wanted a fight, I don't think she's gonna care who it's with."


As Cordelia finally slows her car to a speed near the legal limit, Fred and Tara thankfully relax their grips on the door handles.

Offering a small prayer of thanks for having survived one of the more harrowing experiences she's had, Fred looks over at their driver and hopes she can talk her out of any rash actions.

"Cordelia, we really should go with your other plan."

"Which one was that Fred?"

"Where we wait for Angel and we all come here together. I thought that was a good plan, so did Wesley."

"I have a better plan."

"But you said Willow was a witch, and Buffy might help her too…"

"We're not going to see Willow."

Tara leans forward from the backseat at this and asks, "Who are we going to see?"

"Anya. She set this up."

With a small apologetic glance at Tara, Fred asks, "I thought it was Willow, using spells and…"

"I meant us finding out. Anya is smart, she's had Xander under a spell for at least a year, and no one suspected a thing. And in one day, one hour, she flips out and gives it all away for you and Gunn to pick up on. And why even mention Tara was there when Wesley called? Willow could have done some little light show and told us it was all in our heads, everything was fine. Anya set things up to get caught, and I want to know why."

"Turn left here, the first driveway." Tara says.

As soon as she finds a spot, Cordelia slams the car into parked, grabs the bag from the store, and rushes into the building, Tara and Fred closely behind. Piling into an elevator, she begins changing from her usual shoes to the heavier boots she had just bought. As they exit the elevator, heading down the hall, Fred asks, "What if Anya isn't here?"

Pausing for a moment outside the door to Xander's apartment, Cordelia answers, "Her shop is closed, and it's too early for them to be out patrolling yet. And if she isn't here yet we'll wait." That said, Cordelia then kicks the door as hard as she can, a second kick knocks it open and she enters.

As she walks into the apartment, she instantly sees the person she is looking for, seated at the kitchen table, two bottles of vodka are next to her.


Without even looking up, she takes a sip from her glass and answers, "Took you long enough to get here."

Stepping forward, Tara asks, "Why?"

Giggling slightly, "Which why is that?"

"Why the whole set up for us to find out?"

A small glare is apparent as Anya speaks, "Because it was never going to end. 'She' was never going to stop holding this all over my head." Finally looking up, she continues, "All she had to do was make the spell permanent, but it was more fun for her to do it every month or so, have a little playtime with my Xander."

Angrily, Cordelia snaps, "Your Xander? I don't think so. Why did you do it in the first place?"

"Do you remember the prom? I knew he'd bought your dress, and when I saw the look he gave you, I just…I just wanted him to look at me like that." Smiling a little, she continues, "For a little while he did, but eventually he would start remembering you."

"Where is Xander?" Cordelia asks.

"Willow asked him to fix some things at Buffy's for them." Answering their next question, she adds, "Buffy is meeting with Spike to go over patrol routes, and Dawn is staying at a friend's house."

"So she's probably going to…"

Interrupting Cordelia, Anya says, looking at Tara, "I think she's waiting for you to get home before she does anything." Ignoring the glare Tara gives her, she reaches over to a drawer and pulls out a small leather bag, dumping out a scroll and an extremely large blue topaz.

"When I realized Willow really wasn't going to let me have Xander, I started working on a spell to bind her powers. It's so specific to her, even if the witch who casts it has her head chopped off, it will continue to work. I cast a spell on the gem for it to absorb magic out of the surrounding area, I lowered it on a rope into the Hellmouth two years ago."

"That's a powerful focus for spells." Tara says.

"Two whole years! You've been planning this for two years!" Cordelia shouts.

"A little longer, a millennia of instincts die hard." Anya states as she hands the items to Tara.

After reading the scroll and examining the gem closely, Tara looks at the two women with her and asks, "Should I? If I use this, there really won't be any turning back; her powers will be gone for a long time. There isn't any way to undo this."

"What's a long time?" Fred asks.

"Decades, if Tara knows how to burn up a focus." Anya answers.

"I do."

"I knew you had more skill than Willow."

"Why are we debating this? Do it." Looking Tara in the eyes, Cordelia continues, "Willow is waiting for you to get home to do more of whatever you remembered, to play with your head some more. She can live without being a witch."

"Alright, I'll do the spell for Xander first, I can use the gem and some of his hair to restore his memories from here." Tara answers, as she heads to the bathroom and returns with Xander's brush.

Tara quickly has the spell finished, and once the residual flash of light has passed, begins setting up for the next spell.

The instant she is ready, Tara casts the spell from the scroll, as she finishes the gem crumbles into a powder and seems to dissolve into air. This time, instead of a flash, a bolt of light bursts up into to ceiling, and Tara drops to the floor, a small trickle of blood coming from her nostril.

"How much energy did you use?" Anya asks as she goes to help her up, before being pushed aside by Cordelia.

"I won't be casting any spells at all for about a week."

"You completely burnt up the focus, I'd say it'd be fifty years before Willow casts anything more than a fishing line."

Glaring at Anya, Cordelia speaks, "Get out. Now. Don't sit around reminiscing; don't wonder about where to go, just grab your shit and be gone by the time we get back here. If you're here when I come back I'll hand you over a vampire for dinner, I swear I will."

"Where are you going?"

"Now we're going to see Willow."

"I have to call her." Seeing the look Cordelia is giving her, Tara says, "I just have to."

Sighing, Cordelia sits down, "Fine, but the instant you hang up I'm out the door."

Summer's residence

After setting up several candles in the large bedroom, Willow heads downstairs to find Xander. Locating him laying on the couch, she notices the glassy look in his eyes, a sure indication he is coming out from under her spell.

"At least it happened here." Willow says as she starts back up the stairs; stumbling a little as she suddenly feels weak.

As she gathers the items to cast the spell, the phone by her and Tara's bed rings. Answering it, she is surprised to here Tara's voice. "Willow."

"Tara, when are you getting back?"

"I'm at Xander's with Cordelia and Anya."

Willow quickly pushes down a sudden rush of fear, "How are they doing? Cordelia and the others I mean."

"We know Willow. I know."

"Tara, whatever they said…"

"You were wearing that green button up shirt, the one I'd pointed out to you a few weeks before in the mall. Strange, how that's the thing that sticks out the most. Do you 'remember' that shirt Willow?"

Remembering the feeling she'd had climbing the stairs, Willow asks, "Tara, what did you do?"

"I bound your powers. Count on the next fifty years being magic free." "I'm stronger than you are, Tara, I can break the binding. Just undo it and…"

"A battle axe is stronger than a scalpel too, but what do they use in surgery though? The spell was very specific Willow, even if I die, it'll last."

"Anya." Willow spits the name out of her mouth, more a statement than a question.

"Yeah, Anya. And Cordelia is bringing us there right now, so I'd grab what you can and run. I don't know if I can stop her from whatever she's going to do, heck, I don't know if I'll even try."

"You can't do this Tara. When I get the binding removed…"

"You know what the funniest thing is? The best sex I had with you was when you sat in the corner and watched Xander and me. You're not just a bitch, you're a bad lay."


"Damnit!" Willow screams as she throws the phone across the room. For a few seconds she just stands there, then the fear returns.

They're on their way.

They might not have been at Xander's, they could be at the payphone right up the street.

The words she had said to Anya come back to her, '…Cordelia will take a bat and beat your head in, and I mean right the fuck in'.

Scrambling, she grabs her purse and is heading out the door to the hallway when an impossibly strong hand grabs her around the throat and forces her back into the room, pushing her head into the mirror hard enough that Willow can feel the mirror fracture around her head. "Xan…"

Part 4

Spike's Crypt

"Spike, I'm telling you it would make patrolling a lot faster if…"

"Hang on Buffy." Spike says as his cell-phone interrupts her. As he answers it though, it quickly becomes clear he wishes he hadn't.

"Peaches, what do you want?" his voice comes out nearly a growl.

"Cordelia…she's a Seer now isn't she? I think Willow can handle her on her…Why? What little tricks does Fred have? She seemed the bookish type to…TARA? What's going on? Yeah, I'll get Buffy and we'll stop them, but you get to explain it all when we're done, got it?" Nodding his head at whatever answer he received, Spike hangs up and turns to the Slayer, who had been listening in once she heard his nickname for Angel.

"What happened?"

"I don't know, but Cordelia is coming here to kill Willow or something, and she's got Tara and Fred helping her."

"Tara? Why?"

"I don't know. You want to ask after we stop them or after they've killed her?"

"I'll drive."

Summer's residence

"Xan…Plea…" Willow stares into the eyes of the man holding her throat, hoping to invoke enough pity, sadness, anything that will loosen his grip. Unfortunately for her, those emotions are no longer available in the person in front of her.

"Almost three years Willow. Almost three years you cost me, because you wanted some guilt free sex. Why were you so worried about guilt, you soulless bitch?" A crunching noise punctuates the end of Xander's tirade, as he pushes her head even harder into the mirror behind her, still holding her off the floor with one arm.

Realizing how helpless she is, Willow begins scratching and beating futilely on Xander's arm, struggling to break free. As she dangles in his grip, her fingers brush against her salvation. As soon as she has a grip on the heavy, silver hand mirror, she lashes out, kicking at Xander's shin to distract him, and smashing it over his head. The blow weakens his grip enough for Willow to break free, and she rushes for the stairs.

Fear is a sensation Willow hasn't truly felt in a long time, and now it is hitting her so hard that when Xander trips her, she doesn't even try to stand, she simply scrambles for the stairs and rushes down them on her hands and knees.

As she reaches the bottom, she stands and rushes for the door, with Xander barely three steps behind her, the glare in his eyes promising her retribution. As she slams the door shut, she sees Spike and Buffy getting out of his car across the street.

"Willow, is Cordelia in there?" Buffy calls out to her.

'She doesn't know.' Willow thinks, then, hearing the door being thrown open behind her, shouts, "Buffy, Xander's been possessed again…"

"You…" Xander growls out as he grabs her again, picking her up with both hands and slamming her back into the porch banister, the impact knocking the wind out of her lungs and nearly knocking her unconscious.

Seeing this, Buffy and Spike quickly rush over, Buffy shouldering into Xander to knock him down, hopping on top of him to hold him down while Spike checks on Willow. Her increased strength did not increase her weight, however, and Xander easily pushes Buffy off. She kicks his feet out as he rises and struggles to grab his hands before he can rush at Willow again, however.

Spike's checking over of Willow is cut short as a car screeches to a near stop at the curb, Cordelia hopping out before the vehicle has even fully stopped, Fred and Tara can be seen struggling to control the still moving car.

Running up the steps, Cordelia swings her bat at Willow's head, screaming, "You BITCH!" Willow ducks just in time and the hit merely cracks the wood of the post she was leaning against, causing Cordelia let go of the bat with one hand, shaking it, "Ow!"

Not quite sure of what is happening, Spike pushes Cordelia away from Willow, wincing as she stumbles down the steps and the chip in his head fires up, not noticing as Willow dives off the side of the porch into the bushes and then scrambles into her car.

He looks up as he hears a sudden shout, "DON'T YOU TOUCH HER!" and receives a surprisingly strong punch, knocking him to the floor.

Cordelia starts to smile as she hears Xander shouting, but stops and quickly jumps to her feet as she sees Willow starting her car and driving off. 'I knew I should have blocked the driveway' she thinks as she reaches the car just as it hits the street. Throwing her bat hard enough to spider-web the rear window, Cordelia screams as the car fishtails around the corner, "GET BACK HERE!"

Walking back to Buffy's porch, she sees Xander smirking at her as he walks to her, "Oh yeah, that'll get her to stop."

"Shut up." She answers as she lightly slaps him, and then grabs him into a hug and kisses him.

As they stop kissing, she refuses to let go of him and squeezes her arms tighter around him; "…Missed you." is all Xander can make out as she murmurs into his chest.

"I missed you too." He whispers into her ear.

Slowly getting up off the floor, rubbing his jaw, Spike looks at Buffy, and then Fred and Tara as they join them, watching Xander and Cordelia. Realizing the whole incident took less than two minutes, and wondering what else has changed in that time, he asks, "Can anyone tell me exactly what is going on?"

Cheerily watching Cordelia, happy that things appear to be working out for her friend, Fred doesn't even turn around as she answers, "No."

Part 5

After managing to separate Xander and Cordelia long enough to bring everyone inside, Buffy and Spike practically collapse into chairs themselves, Buffy asking, "Now, can someone please explain things to me, or do we have to wait for Angel to show up?"

Standing over by the stairs, Tara answers, "Willow was using magic to change people around to suit her." Seeing the look on Buffy's face, Xander adds, "Give it a few hours Buff, I'm sure you and even Giles will start remembering things she'd made you forget too."

"Why did she…" Buffy trails off as Tara answers her again, this time tilting her head at Xander while making an explicit hand gesture.

A look of horror passing over her face, she can only answer, "Oh…"

"Well that's one way to put it." Spike jokes, "But why didn't she just…"

Interrupting him, Xander answers his question before he asks it, "It wasn't just about sex, she sorta chipped me so she'd become more important to us all."

Leaning forward, his attention now undivided, Spike asks, "She chipped you? How?"

"Not the same as you were, she just made me less useful." Seeing the confused looks he is getting, Xander continues, "Come on Buffy, you'd think after more than five years I would have learned something. She first started messing with my head a little after you came back senior year, making it so you all wouldn't want my help."

"What did she do?" Buffy asks, remembering how often they had all feared for Xander's safety.

"Well, remember the Halloween where we all became our costumes? I remembered how I beat up that pirate even though it was Larry, twice my size, football-playing Larry. Skill and technique overcoming size and strength and all that. So I started taking boxing and judo, and working out a little. She made it so I couldn't remember how to fight, or even use all my strength unless she was in danger."

"Yeah, I thought you hit me pretty hard outside." Spike interjects. Speaking up, Tara adds, "I remember, when she made all of us forget who we were, that vampire in the sewers. It was beating you up until it went after Willow, and then you killed it no problem."

Nodding his head, Xander continues, "She also made me as terrible at research as she could. Which really sucks because I like reading."

Chuckling softly at the looks on Spike and Buffy's faces, he adds, "I'd read Kerouac long before I decided I wanted to go on a roadtrip, not just the big name writers either. If I weren't so bad with math my GPA would have been a lot better too."

"It fits, I guess. I'm thinking about it now, and I never wondered why Giles didn't train you along with me, or how quickly we pushed you out of the loop on stuff." Buffy says.

Nodding his head, Xander says as he stands, "I'm going to make some coffee, anybody want anything?"

"I'll help." Cordelia says as she stands also, seeing everyone nod his or her heads.

As they go into the kitchen, Buffy continues to sit, not really looking at anything for a few minutes, finally saying out loud, "I can't believe I never noticed any of this."

Speaking gently, Fred reassures her, "The way I understand it, Willow had spells on you and Mr. Giles also, so you wouldn't notice. Tara got it so Xander remembers everything, but whatever magic Willow used is still working, it should fade over tonight though."

Thinking over what Fred has said, Spike gets up and walks to the kitchen to see what is taking so long. Opening the door, he quickly sees Cordelia sitting on the kitchen counter, her legs wrapped around Xander's waist. Sighing, he says, "You two are supposed to be getting us coffee, not breaking in Buffy's counter tops, you can make up for lost time later, so hurry up with those drinks will you?"

From the living room, Buffy shouts, "Not in my kitchen, OK!"

Smiling at Cordelia, Xander shouts back, "So you don't mind if we use any other rooms?" He stops as he sees through the window that Tara has used the distraction to begin walking home. "Hang on, I'll be right back."

"You'd better be." Cordelia answers.

Running once he gets outside, he falls into pace with Tara, until she stops walking and looks at him.

Arching one eyebrow, he simply says, "Hey."

Staring at him for a moment, Tara finally shakes her head and smiling, answers, "I could never do that, you know, with my eyebrow."

"You don't have to head home yet, it's still pretty early."

"I thought it might be best. I have some packing to do…"

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know."

"It wasn't your fault."

Shaking her head again, not smiling this time, she answers, "I trusted her, I should have noticed something…"

"Same here. And I had way more time to notice anything than you did." "What happened…"

"I just regret how it happened, not that it happened…is that pig-ish of me?"

Smirking, "Depends, if Cordelia wasn't here, what would you be trying?"

Throwing one arm over her shoulder and slowly leading her back to the house, Xander answers, "Same as now, hoping you don't hate me for it." "I don't, it just hurts that…"

"It was incredible and she enjoyed it more than both of us at the time."

"Sorta, yeah…so, do we just forget it happened?"

"I think I've forgotten enough things to last a lifetime." Looking down at Tara, Xander continues, "I'd say we just go on from here. It was magic that made it happen, it could have been beer and angst that did it just as easily. We're friends Tara, I won't hold it against you if you won't hold it against me."

Stopping, Tara exclaims, "But we're not friends, no one in there really knows me. I haven't stuttered since the sixth grade, unless I'm really nervous. Willow thought it was cute, so she made me do it more often. I stopped being so freaking shy when I moved away from my family, but she liked that, so guess what? I ended up the way I spent months trying to get over. None of you know the real me, just what she wanted me to be. You said it yourself, she made you terrible at fighting and research, you saw Buffy's face when you said you liked to read…"

Gently interrupting her, Xander asks, "Did I ever stop trying?"

Confused, Tara replies, "Huh?"

"Did I ever stop trying to help them? That was something Willow and Anya both wanted. They didn't want me to patrol, and they only wanted me to bring food for the research parties, nothing more. But I still did it. She made it harder, but she couldn't change who we are.

You're not my friend because you're shy or you stutter, you're my friend because I like who you are. You're the person who found out how dangerous it was here and stayed to help, who keeps Dawn and Buffy from killing each other over what cereal to buy…"

"Who made you unable to see demons…"

Holding her shoulders, Xander states, "Who was terrified of being pushed away from us because you might have been different. That's something I can more than relate to. You don't even want to know what happened when Cordy dumped me and I turned to magic for revenge."

"So we just go on from here huh?"

Leading her up the porch steps and to the door, Xander replies, "You have a better idea? Let's just wait for Angel and the others to show for now…maybe there's something good on TV."

One and a half hours later

Slowly walking up the steps to her home, Dawn fearfully notices the damage to the porch, and then the fact that the door isn't just unlocked, it is slightly open as well.

Quietly entering, she is shocked by the scene she finds.

Spike, sleeping in his favorite chair in the living room, the fact he doesn't breathe making her just a bit uncomfortable.

Buffy and Fred both asleep on the sofa, Buffy with her feet actually up on the table.

And Xander sleeping on her couch, Tara's head on his shoulder, Cordelia sitting on his lap.

Turning to shut the door, she screams when she sees Angel standing there, everyone in the room instantly wide-awake, grabbing for whatever weapon might be close at hand.

"It's just me." Angel says with a slight smile.

Slapping his arm, Dawn scolds him, "Don't do that. Jeez, you probably knocked ten years off my life." Turning back to the others, she asks, "And what happened here?"

"How did you get here, you said you were staying…"

Interrupting Buffy, Dawn answers, "Anya showed up at Cassandra's and said something happened tonight, I got worried so I had her father bring me here." Looking over as the rest of Angel's group shows up, she says, "So what happened?"

"You really don't want to know."

"Yeah I do."

"I really don't want to explain it until you're old enough."

As Dawn glares at Buffy Xander cuts off any retort she might have and offers an explanation, "Willow turned out not to be as nice a person as we all thought she was."

Spike suddenly looks up, realization spreading across his face and remarks, "You know, even without her magic, she was a hacker and all, she still could mess things up for all of us."

Xander quickly answers, "Not really, she hasn't hacked without using magic for years. Basically, she's using an old Atari and everybody else has Playstation 2."

As Buffy invites everyone in, Wesley grabs the remote for the television from Xander and says to everyone, "There's more. You might want to see this, we heard it in the car on the way over." Flipping through several stations, he finds one that has a breaking news bulletin interrupting the normal programming.

Everyone listens intently as the newscaster describes the discovery of a multitude of computer crimes, "…the crimes were discovered less than an hour ago, and cover a wide range of computer systems in the private sector. A large number of government computers were struck as well, including hospital records and land records for several cities in California. It is believed the hacker evaded detection for so long by using far outdated techniques, and a lot of luck. Although the identity of the perpetrator has not been released, we have learned they were discovered after closing a bank account, which they had used a virus to hide nearly two hundred thousand dollars in from the IRS…"

"So all of her spells are wearing off?" Xander asks, exchanging a fearful look with Angel

"Could the soul spell…"

"No, once a spell is cast, it's done. These are enchantments she had cast, they needed her to constantly give a little magic energy to keep going. With her powers bound, they are all fading."

"I can't believe she got away, and got rich too." Cordelia growls.

Chuckling softly, Xander replies, "Not really." Seeing the looks he is getting, he smiles even wider and continues, "She has to buy a whole new identity for herself, no matter where she goes, cause she doesn't have the skills to do it on her own. She doesn't know the type of people that can do that, so it's gonna cost her plenty. Then she'll probably use what little is left to start over somewhere.

She's smart, but she can't exactly mention where she was going to college anymore. So she has to start from the beginning if she goes back to school, and has to pay for it all. She might have enough to buy a decent car and a few months rent after that, so she's going to have to get a real job, except she has to keep her head down now too, cause the cops and IRS are looking for her. So, she can never open her own business, or even earn too much money, or they'll look closely at her and whatever new identity she has will fall apart.

Willow is pretty much going to end up a nobody, working a boring, unimportant job that won't bring her any attention."

"She'll be miserable." Tara finishes.

"I'd still feel better if we tracked her down or something." Cordelia says.

"I have some vacation time coming up, but I can think of better ways to spend it." Xander says as he wraps his arms around Cordelia's waist.

"I suppose we could finally take that drive up the coast you were thinking of before she broke us up."

Smiling, Xander answers, "Hmm, surf, sand, and bikini's. Well, it's your choice."

"Don't you forget it."


Slowly and carefully walking through his kitchen, Xander smiles as he prepares for his next battle, putting together a breakfast without waking Cordelia and then surprising her with it. He has a lot of missed time to make up for, and fully intends to do so.

The phone ringing on the wall next to him shakes him out of his reverie, and he answers it, a split second of confusion hitting him as he hears the automated voice on the other end.

"This call is being placed from within the California penal system. It is being recorded and…"

'Penal system, who could be calling me from prison? I hope Uncle Rory didn't violate his parole.' He thinks.


Realization hits the instant he hears her voice, although he has never heard her sound so unsure of herself, "Faith?"


"Hi, are you Ok?"

"No, I woke up this morning, and I started remembering things, and it was just weird, I couldn't figure out why I was in here at first and I…" Faith trails off, hoping for answers.

"Oh crap. I didn't even think of that, Willow didn't like you. Let me think for a second."

"What's going on? It's like I'm remembering things only…"

"Only not." Xander finishes for her, "Alright, Faith, stay where you are…"

Sarcastically, she interrupts, "I'm in prison Xander, I doubt that'll be a problem."

"When can someone visit you, like today?"

"Up until 5:00 P.M."

"I'll get Tara and Cordy and we'll be there as soon as possible, we'll explain everything then, Ok?"

"Alright. Please hurry."

One month later

Sitting in a small visiting room in one of the LA courthouses, Xander watches the small woman cuffed to the chair across from him.

"Any way, after we got everything sorted out with Faith, we contacted the Watcher's and tried to explain it all to them. They had a hard time understanding how it was you that started turning Faith into a super villain, and that the Mayor worked his own mumbo jumbo too.

Luckily we got a hold of Giles, and he and Wesley put it into British- speak for them. They did their own investigation, which supported us, and then they pulled strings like you wouldn't believe. Faith will be released from prison in exactly nine days from now, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They also were pretty upset at the damage you did, so I wouldn't expect any time off for good behavior or early parole or anything. They're making sure you serve everyday of the eight years you got."

A small shrug is his only reply.

Not deterred in the slightest, he continues, "While checking up on what else you might have done, some of the things I did when the Sisterhood of Jhe was in town came out. Man, Buffy and Cordy were so mad I didn't tell them. Spike thought it was funny how I interrogated a zombie though, he started giving me tips for next time, which was kinda gross."

"Why are you here?" Willow finally asks him, speaking her first words since he entered the room.

"No one else would come. Buffy is pissed you made her not be a friend to Faith just as they started to really get along, right when she needed one. Angel has this whole brother/sister thing with Cordelia, so he's mad. Gunn and Fred don't know you and now they don't want to, and Wesley wishes he didn't either right now. I don't think I have to explain why Tara and Cordelia aren't here, hell, I barely convinced Cordy that I should do this. Dawn is a minor, and Faith is still in prison, so they couldn't visit if they wanted to. Of course, since Faith is in prison because of what you did, I doubt it'd be a good idea letting her in the same room as you, ever."

"That's not what I meant, 'why' are you here? What are you getting out of this?"

Not bothering to answer her, Xander continues, "You know, I had figured you'd get away, not once did I think you'd be caught. I would have gone out into the boonies, find somewhere that everybody thinks a computer is like a calculator hooked up to a TV, and laid low for awhile. Wait until the next infamous criminal shows up and is what everyone is talking about. You just walked into a LA cyber-coffee shop, the most wanted computer hacker in the state. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one."

"I had my reasons."

"Hoping to get help from Wolfram and Hart?" Seeing the startled look on Willow's face, Xander continues, "Angel knows a lawyer in there, she's more of a grey-hat than a black-hat, and she owes him. She made sure they won't waste any of their time helping you, with the criminal charges or your powers."

Most people wouldn't have noticed the change in her demeanor, but Xander has known Willow for nearly his entire life. The slight slump in her shoulders, the shifting further back into her seat, all signs to what that news meant.

She is beaten, they were her last hope.

Holding back a smile, Xander continues talking, "Wesley and Fred are working on being the cutest couple that hasn't officially dated yet, Angel and Spike are even getting along good, Spike says he might start working with them in LA once in a while. Tara doesn't stutter anymore, and she's a lot more comfortable with us all, now that she doesn't look for a place to hide when someone talks loudly. I'm letting her stay in my apartment, she's going to take over the rent when I get a new place."

A slight smirk appears as Willow asks, "And Cordelia doesn't mind? Or you didn't…"

"We told her what happened. Tara was afraid she'd want me to kick her out and never talk to her again. Cordelia understood though, she's grown a lot in LA. They had a sort of girls' night out with Buffy and the other girls that night. That was when they realized Faith could move in with Tara as I move out. Those two have been talking a lot and all, I think something might be happening there."

Grinding her teeth slightly, Willow says bitterly, "Sounds like everything is going fine then."

Smiling as he stands, Xander replies, "That's what I'm getting out of this. You worked so hard to make yourself irreplaceable, and now that you're gone, things are just fine. I wanted to make sure you knew that, cause it'll be a long time before you see any of us again.

Buffy and Dawn will probably forgive you first, you messed with their minds the least, but don't expect anything soon."

As he leaves the room, Xander calls over his shoulder, "Maybe I'll visit on your birthday, let you know how things are then."

That evening

"TEN MINUTES UNTIL LIGHTS OUT!" As the guards begin doing the final sweep of the cells for the night, Willow is placed in her cell. Not looking at her cellmate, who didn't bother looking down from the top bunk either, she simply lies down and tries to keep calm, keep from showing how scared she actually is.

Turning on her side, her breath catches in her throat as she sees a picture taped to the wall across from her.

It is of all of them before graduation. Herself, Buffy, Cordelia, Giles, Oz, Xander, and even Faith is in this photo. Someone had held a match up to her face and burned it though.

"Oh no." she mutters before she can stop herself, fear now plain to see in her eyes.

Above her, her cellmate shifts around, her surprised face peering over the edge of her bunk, a smile breaking out as she recognizes Willow.

"And here I thought I was going to be bored for the next week." Faith states, cracking her knuckles, "You can't imagine how much I hoped to run into you."

The End