Imagine: The List
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Starts on page 61

Xander got up and bowed, then blew out the candles
and cleaned up his mess, going out to get a drink. He
hadn't found any resurrections that had happened
but he had felt some wrongness. The same sort that
had tipped them off about it being Buffy's
resurrection. The bad thing was that it was centered
on the house. He had checked, doing it in a smaller
scale, and it wasn't him. It wasn't Tony. He could
tell it wasn't Tony when he ran into him napping on
his bed. The others in the house weren't wrong
either. All but one. He looked at Willow when she
came in. "I've got to run out for ten minutes. I'll be
right back, okay?" She nodded, smiling at him.
"There is hope but I'm not sure how much at the
moment. That other weapon looks really hard to get
to." He took his soda with him, going up to check on
Tony, finding him snoring. He kissed him on the
temple and got a sleep smile. "I'll be right back," he
whispered, grabbing his phone and bike keys,
heading out into the night.

Once he got far enough away he opened his can and
looked at his phone, putting in the numbers to Gibbs'
phone. "I've got a moral dilemma," he said quietly.
"No, it can't wait. Because there are some remaining
Bringers, Jethro," he said quietly. He sighed and
turned to rest his back against his handlebars,
stretching across his bike since he had remembered
to put down the kickstand. "No, I'm not at the
house. I'm in the park. Yeah, there. Yeah, it's
important. Trust me, just this once," he said quietly,
hanging up. Then he called Ethan. "It's me again.
Tell me how a wrongness calls to the First Evil and
gives it an access panel," he ordered calmly.
"Because there's one in town, Ethan. No, no one
raised Buffy again." He rubbed his forehead. "It's
Willow. Doing the spell changed her, Ethan," he said
quietly. "That makes her a small gateway and LA
has Bringers. Angel's sure of it. That means we're
getting some here soon." He sipped his soda,
listening to the quiet traffic off to his right, about a
block over. "Ethan, I don't, that's a lie, I
know how to solve this, but I'm not sure it's the right
thing." He listened to the advice.

"Ethan, I helped with that spell. Then I did a check
for the resurrection and the wrongness. It focused on
my house. Go ahead. I'm in the park and I didn't
see any in me, but...." He took a deep breath. "If it
is, I need to know. Yeah, it's important, Ethan.
Think about it. If I'm a gateway too, then what
happens?" He nodded. "Please. That's all I'm
asking for." He hung up. He waited until Gibbs
pulled up, looking at him. "We've got a major
problem," he said once he was out of his car and on
the hood, looking at him. "A huge problem actually.
Did you go over the reasons behind the First Evil
battles?" Gibbs nodded. "You know that
wrongness?" He got another nod. "Willow has it

"It transfers?"

"No, she did the spell. I did a small part in it but she
took her blood innocence and did the spell," he said
quietly. "That makes her a gateway, Gibbs." He
stiffened. "I'm having Ethan recheck my findings
and check me, just in case. If so, we've got a real

"The wrongness does what exactly?"

"It gives the First Evil a way into the world. A spot
of energy that she can latch onto to call her minions,
the Bringers and the others. If so, DC could end up
like the last scene of that battle," he said quietly.
"And I can't kill her to stop it if it is. I don't know
what to do here."

"First, we check the findings," he reminded him.
"How long will that take?"

Xander looked at his watch. "Within ten minutes if
he did it right away." He looked at him. "Secondary
problem. If there's Bringers, we need the scythe to
kill them and the Initiative has it." Gibbs groaned.
"They confiscated it from Ethan, along with most of
his altar set."


"Do you think they believe in magic?" Gibbs shook
his head. "Ethan's one of the strongest chaos
people." His phone rang and he answered it.
"Harris." He listened and held his head. "Are you
*sure*, Ethan? One hundred percent *certain*?"
He slumped. "Thank you. Do you need help out of
the city?" He nodded. "Good deal. No, they're
trying to move it back to Sunnydale. Thanks." He
hung up. "Ethan's gathering power to leave the
city." He looked at him again. "It's not me."

"It's her," Gibbs finished. He nodded. "Is there a
way to stop this? Could they be residuals in LA?"
Xander shook his head. "Are you sure?"

"They all went to dust when we defeated the First
Evil," he said quietly. "I just don't know what to

"Have you talked to Giles?"

"Not yet. I came to you first. I know what Giles will
do. He'll waffle. He'll want to save her but he'll try
to be realistic. Of course, he can't do it."

"She could do it herself," he offered gently. "You
could tell her."

"She already feels guilty about bringing Buffy back.
It's an option but I'm not..." He sighed and looked at
him. "This is the canyon of my fucking oncoming
mental insanity."

"Call Giles first. We'll talk about this tomorrow.
Tonight, go comfort Tony."

"Was his place trashed?"

"A bit. They raided his whole complex. The same

"Would it be wrong to point some vampires in their

"Yes," Gibbs said, "but amusing," he smirked.
"Thank you, I needed that thought."

"Not a problem. Thank you."

"That's what I'm here for. The hard decisions.
We'll talk tomorrow, ten. Not in the office."

"I'll be at home. Tell me where to meet you." He
shrugged. "I don't start the Academy classes for
another week."

"Good. Maybe we'll have it settled by then." He got
into his car and went home to work on his boat and
think. This was not what he was expecting. Not in
the least.

Xander opened his phone and hit the button for
Giles' office, getting him. "Put down the fork, move
the tea away, and sit back," he said quietly. "We've
just run into a major First Evil issue here." He
heard the spluttering and the click that meant he was
now off speaker phone. "Who was in there?" He
smiled. "I didn't think you were having sex in your
office, Giles. No, the wrongness. It's in Willow." He
felt his stomach clench at the next words. "I can't do
that, Giles. Giles. Giles!" He listened. "Fine.
That's what we're trying to figure out. Oh, I don't
know, how about a moral compass at the moment?"
he snapped. The 'if we don't, we'll have another
situation like Sunnydale in downtown DC' didn't
make him feel any better. "I know that, Giles.
There's already Bringers in LA. No, but do you have
a copy of _Slayers and Hunters_ by Froust?" He
listened while he called for it. "It talks about another
weapon. One gifted to male slayers. Which would be
me, Tony, Gibbs, and Robin Wood. Yeah, and when
she did the spell I did get faster and stronger, plus
my eye healed faster, remember?" he asked bitterly.

"I'm guessing if it's genetic it's in both sexes. We
both have 'x' chromosomes, Giles. Because they
never looked?" he snorted. "Think about your
former bosses, would they have been able to bully a
son the way they did a daughter? There's how many
early Chronicles that say things about making girl
children useful? Exactly. They never looked because
it was easier to cow and take girl children. They
were basically slaves anyway. It's the narrow male
viewpoint. Exactly!" he said sharply. "Really? Does
Wood still do his katas every morning? Ask him
then. Giles, if the only way to keep them from fully
coming is to get rid of the wrongness, then I'm rather
fucked. Do I tell her and let her do it? 'Cause I sure
as hell can't! Not even if she were turned!" He
calmed himself. "Never mind. Gibbs and I will deal
with it." He hung up and slid back around, getting
back onto his bike and heading for a drive to think.
Outside the house, he called Gibbs again. "Do I tell
her?" he asked quietly. "Giles suggested I dose her
food." He listened to the wise words. "Thank you."
He got off and went inside, going to talk to Tony first.
He looked at the bouncing Abby. "Not a good
moment unless you have good news."

"I have good news," she admitted, smiling at him.
"McGee wants kids."

"Right now?"

"No!" She swatted him. "Later. That means you
can be a godfather with the others." She kissed him
on the cheek. "What's wrong?"

"Where's everyone else?"

"Home. Willow went back to LA."

He nodded and went to seal the house from magic
coming in or going out, then went to wake Tony,
Abby following him. He nodded her in, sitting next
to Tony to gently nudge him. "Hey." Tony woke up
and looked at him. "We've got a group issue and
Gibbs suggested I tell you this, Tony. Abby, I don't
want to tell you but I'm going to have a breakdown
soon and you can be the Watcher for a bit." She
nodded. He shifted to look at both of them. "We
know what caused the First Evil to have entrance."

"I saw those files," Abby noted. "It was the
wrongness that was in Buffy when she was brought
back. Did someone do another one?"

"No, but it transferred onto the spell caster."

"You helped in that," Tony said, sitting up suddenly.

"Willow," he said quietly. He looked at Tony. "I
found it earlier during my check, which is why you
got so long of a nap. Then I called Ethan and had
him recheck me and to do a full check on me. I only
helped with part of it." Tony slumped and nodded.
"It's not me. It's not in me as far as we know."

"But it's in her," Abby sighed. Xander nodded.
"Then what do we do? There's already Bringers in
LA. Where's the scythe?"

"The Initiative has it."

"Fuck," he muttered. He looked at Abby. Then at
Xander. "What're we doing?" Xander shrugged.
"Okay, when are we having that meeting?"

"I told Gibbs and Giles earlier, trying to get a clue.
Giles said he can't. Gibbs said to think about it and
to comfort each other tonight," he said honestly.
"We're meeting at ten tomorrow."

Tony nodded. "Then we'll think tonight. Abby, not
one word to McGee," he warned.

"Not an issue. He likes Willow like a sister." She
sighed and slumped down. "We could tell her, let
her make that decision."

"That was one of my thoughts," Xander admitted.
"I just.... Sometimes I'm so sick and damn tired of
this life, ya know," he said, looking at her. "The
losing people, the hunting. All of it." She nodded.
"This is one of the moments that sucks the worst."

"I agree," she assured him. "It sucks the big one. I
couldn't do this. For that matter, that's my only
suggestion," she told him, standing up. "Should I
even warn him?"

"No. If she goes, let him think the grief and the
magic addiction stuff got too strong and she gave
up," Xander said quietly. "It's kinder than having
her ...failure for lack of a better word, shoved at
him." She nodded and left, locking the house after
herself. He looked at Tony. "I can't."

He pulled him closer, laying down to hold him. "You
won't have to. She will. She'll do it herself. She said
she's thought about it a few times thanks to the magic
stuff." He stroked his back. "Gibbs tell you I got
trashed by the same gang?"

"Yeah, and I suggested we point some vampires their

Tony chuckled, giving him a squeeze. "Not very
ethical, but it suits my sense of justice for my big
screen tv." He kissed him and Xander seemed almost
desperate but he understood. Sometimes you needed
to be grounded back to reality and what better way
than making love.


Xander sat down across from Gibbs, who looked like
hell. "Didn't get any either?" Gibbs shook his head,
sucking down more coffee. "Abby suggested we tell
her," he said quietly.

"What about those who're already here?"

"Theoretically they should dust once the portal is
closed," he said quietly, glancing around. "If not,
there's an option for a second weapon somewhere or
we can get back the original."

"I have no idea where they are," he admitted.

"Ah, but I might." He pulled out the two maps he
had printed. "Last month and this one. See a

Gibbs looked, frowning at the deviation around
Arlington. "They're near the cemetery?" Xander
nodded so he looked at him. "How do you know?"

"The demons will be drawn to the wrongness. That
means more death. Now the only question is *how*
they're attracting them."

"A club?" a familiar voice said from beside them,
sitting down. She looked at them, then smirked and
held up the bracelet on her arm. "Mossad had it for
special occurrences," Ziva noted.

"Like the Ring of Amara?" Xander asked. She
nodded. "Cool." He shrugged. "It makes her
immortal," he told Gibbs."

"Interesting." He looked at her. "What do you
know, Ziva?"

"I know that there's a spy inside NCIS for that
group. I know where their hideout is this week.
They do move it now and then, but they've only got
so much room to roam. She's using some CIA
contacts for that." She handed him a sealed
envelope. "From my bosses. Who are not pleased,"
she said with a smirk for him. She looked at Xander.
"I was dumb."

"It happens. Buffy dated more vampires than
people," he noted dryly. "She *really* knew better."
She smiled at that. "You doing okay?"

"I'd be better if I didn't nearly get killed by a
Bringer the other day. Who was brought back?"

"The spell caster was touched with it during," he
said quietly, glancing around again.

"They left a few minutes ago. That seems to happen
around me a lot."

"It's the demon," Gibbs told her, looking up from his
reading. "If she's turned, will it matter?"

"We can't soul her," Xander said dryly. "She's the
only one with that spell memorized. I can't be sure it
won't come back either."

Gibbs nodded. "A good thought. How bad would
she be?"

Xander snorted. "You didn't read about Cordy's
wish?" he asked dryly. Gibbs nodded, remembering
that apparently. He looked at Ziva. "I know the
cause. I know what should be done. It's the who and
how and that stuff."


"Rosenburg," he said quietly. She slumped and
nodded. He nodded. "Which is my main sticking
point. I've known her since we were five." She
nodded at that. "Does that have any good news?"

"Some," he admitted, looking at him. "We can
pinpoint their location and at least watch them. How
long before Giles attempts the move?"

"Six weeks. Just before I head to England."

"Wonderful. If it doesn't work?"

"It'll snap here. We've already got two guys in New
York and Cleveland watching theirs. Family
members and retired guys."

"Are there others?" Ziva asked.

"Vegas has one but it's been sealed since the early
Native American days. There's some tribal histories
that speak of Coyote and Fox coming down to seal it
with Wolf's help to save the Nations they had
created. There's supposed to be one on the
Maine/Canada border somewhere but that could be
rumor, I'm not sure. There's about thirty other sites
around the world." She nodded. "We know it'll stay
in the US. It's a matter of does it snap back where it
was if it does snap or not."

"Good point," she agreed. She looked at Gibbs.
"Now what?"

Gibbs looked at Xander. "Tell her. I'm going to
agree that it's the only course of action."

Xander nodded. "Okay."

"If you need it, I'll let Tony have a few days off," he
said quietly. "Or at least allow him to work from

"I told Abby to tell McGee it was her addiction
problem coming back," he offered. "They're like
siblings, Gibbs." He nodded, saying he'd deal with
that end. "I'll go tell her today." He walked off,
heading back to the house. He hadn't trusted himself
to drive so he took a cab both ways and once inside
looked around. "Willow?" he called. Nothing. He
called her the normal human way. "Dawn? Why
aren't you in school?" He grimaced. "Fine. Tell
Willow I need her ASAP here. Thanks." He turned
off the anti-magic wards, waiting on her, then turned
them back on one she was inside them. "We gotta do
something, Willow." She nodded and he took her
into the altar, handing her the spell. "I need
confirmation. You can zero down to the person and
the room. I'm going up to the bedroom." She
nodded and got down to do the spell again while he
went to get away from her. He paced around, trying
to stay calm until he heard her scream, then her
stomping up the stairs. He looked at her. "It's in the
house, isn't it?" She nodded, glaring at him. "Do it
again, you can see the room."

"I saw. It's you."

"It's not me." He walked over and did the spell they
used to see what the wrongness was in Buffy on the
bedroom mirror, then stood them in front of it. He
looked normal but she looked.... She had green and
black swirls with red flashes now and then in her
aura. She burst out crying and he held her for a
minute, then pushed her back. "Willow." She
looked at him. "There are Bringers in LA and
wherever Ziva was. She showed up today to give
Gibbs some information."

"They all know?" she whispered. He shook his head.

"Me, Gibbs, Tony, Abby, Giles." She swallowed and
hung her head. "Now, we've got a problem. Giles'
answer was assassination. Which I can't do. Not to
anyone but especially not to you."

"But..." She turned back around and he moved out
of the way, letting her see herself fully. She started to
tear up again. "How?" she asked, begging, turning
to look at him.

"I'd say during the spell. I was so worried it was
me," he told her, sitting on the bed to look at her. "I
don't know what to do. All we've agreed on so far
was to tell you you're the reason the Bringers are

"But we defeated it," she said, moving closer.

"No, Willow, you can't defeat something like that or
Glory. We didn't kill them, we only put them on hold
until their next opportunity. Glory's back in a
suspended animation state until the next approach
starts and then she can take over another host body if
one of her priests calls upon her like the last time.
The First Evil was just as powerful. Yes, we trapped
her. We weakened her and trapped her. But now
she's got an opening again and it could mean another

"So we need to move the hellmouth back since there's
still almost no one in Sunnydale," she said flatly.

He got up and got another book, handing it to her.
"Wes's," he said at her confused look. "The blue

She opened it and looked at the passage, reading it
out loud. "I fear when the spell is broken by
Willow's death, the great number of slayers will fall
back to a reasonable level, as it should be," she read.
She swallowed. "Those who are weak, too old, too
young, and those who should not serve will be
removed from the lineage once again, and the
balance will be partially restored. I fear what may
come in the meantime but I know that others have
that problem well in hand." She looked at him,
closing it. "Huh?"

"There's a balance in nature, Willow. All Wiccans
and practitioners know that." She nodded slowly.
"You had to add a great weight to the side of good
and never canceled it out. I doubt it's going to be
bad hair monsters that come after thirty-two


"Chia died."

"Oh." She looked down at the journal. "So, my
death will snap the spell and take those who
shouldn't be out of the lineage?" He nodded. "Are
we sure?"

"Yeah, he was. His final letter said we only had to
hold on for a bit. He wrote it before the incident
where he died and mailed it. I got it a few days
before I heard he died." She swallowed and nodded,
tearing up again. "I don't know what to do, Willow.
I really don't. I know what I have to do, what I
should be doing, but I can't. I can't even guarantee
that if you're turned and souled it won't come back,
or it might not negate it at all."

"So I have to die," she said flatly. She looked at him.
"I can't be with Tara if I do it to myself."

"You can't ask it of me," he said firmly, shaking his
head. "I can't. I won't. Maybe you can get Angel to
drain you. Or Spike?" He shrugged. "I don't know,
Willow," he said desperately. "I have no fucking
idea here!"

She nodded and handed back the journal. "I'm
going to talk to Angel and them." She went to walk
out the backdoor and disappeared from out there.

He curled up in a little ball of misery. The phone
rang a while later and he ignored it. Then someone
pounded on the door. He wasn't moving, everyone
who knew him would have a key. Sure enough,
someone came in and he looked at the door, seeing
McGee. "What?" he asked quietly.

"Willow called."

"I told Abby not to tell you."

"I heard that." He walked inside. "What's going

"Did you see the First Evil background files?" he
asked, sitting up to face him. McGee shook his head
so Xander led him down there and got him into them,
letting him read them while Xander went to find a
bottle. McGee slammed something downstairs and
broke it so he headed back down with the bottle.
"We weren't going to tell you why."

"Why her?"

"She cast the spell and it changed her," he said
quietly. He handed it over and McGee took it, sitting
down to drink from it. "I'm sorry, Tim. The only
thing we agreed on was to not tell you since you were
so close to her, and to tell her." He looked up at him.
"Abby was going to tell you it was her addiction
getting too strong."

"That would've been nice, instead she told me she's
got a week to live." He took another drink. "How?"
Xander shrugged. "You don't know?"

"I told her and I told her I couldn't kill her," he said
quietly. "I gave her the truth that we know. If she
was turned and then resouled it might not go away.
If she was just turned it might not go away since
some vampires can use magic." He sat on the bottom
stair, looking at him. "There's some days when I
wonder if Willow isn't really a chaos sorcerer." Tim
looked at him. "Any time something bad happens to
us, or something odd, she's there in the middle of it,
and whenever I make plans she somehow manages to
change them without me knowing." Tim snorted and
took another drink, shaking his head. "I know, but
it's the truth." He reached over to tip his face up.
"Call off work, Tiger."

"Tiger?" he asked bitterly.

"You're no longer as fluffy as you were, McGee. The
same as I wasn't when Jesse died."

"You staked him," he reminded him.

"Yeah, and now you're watching someone plan their
suicide and you can't stop her." Tim nodded,
hanging his head again. "We'll get through this,

"Can I be Fluffy again?"

"Sure. Call Gibbs and call off, Fluffy." He shook his
head and took another drink. "Then go nap on the
couch before you pass out down here. You'll freeze."
That got a nod and he headed that way. Xander
picked up the phone ad dialed his cellphone. "Gibbs,
Xander. McGee's here sleeping it off. No, she didn't
tell him, and neither did I. Willow did." He let out a
bitter snort. "I don't think he's going to be in shape
to do anything but ache tomorrow, but probably. He
took the fifth of scotch and he's guzzling it. Of
course I'll keep an eye on him. Later, of course." He
hung up and got the broom to clean up the mess from
the glass statue McGee had thrown.


Tony walked into the townhouse, hearing the silence.
"Guys?" he called, reaching for his gun. He heard a
sudden snore and relaxed some. "Xander?" He
looked through the house, finding him asleep on the
bed. He laid down next to him. "Hey," he said
gently, waking him.

Xander looked at him. "Was it a bad dream?"

"What dream, Xan?" he asked, stroking across his

"Tara came for Willow and chewed her a new one,
but took her with her to fix her."

"No, it wasn't a dream," he said gently, letting
Xander cry on him. "I'm sorry." Xander nodded,
clinging to him. "The world is safe and she's with
her soulmate," he soothed, stroking his back now.
"She's happier with Tara, you know that." Xander
nodded, still clinging to him. "I can't take this away,
no matter how much I want to," he whispered,
keeping him calm and letting him grieve. He heard
the door slam and winced. "Up here, boss." Gibbs
came up the stairs. "He saw it in a dream."

Gibbs nodded. "Marquez and Eliana are both
uncalled. How?" Xander said something too low for
him to hear. "Huh?"

"Wes's last journal," he said, visually finding it and
pointing at it. "The blue ribbon. He said he thought
Eliana would stay." Gibbs walked over to pick it up,
leaning on the dresser while he read it. "What's
going on?" Xander whispered something else so he
gave him a squeeze. "Now what?"

Xander lifted his head, looking at him. "Eliana
should've stayed. I'll test her later to make sure she
didn't just feel it. We know that she felt the one
slayer's death the other day." He looked at Gibbs.
"Tara chewed her a new one but took her with her."

"Then she's at peace and happy," Gibbs noted
calmly. "McGee is still living?" Xander and Tony
both nodded. "Good. We're off for the next two

Xander sat up and wiped his face off. "Giles is
moving the hellmouth Sunday. It's the anniversary
of the town's founding. He thinks it'll be sympathetic
and move back then."

"Good." He nodded. "That could be very good.
How many are left?"

"Four. Faith and two of the girls with her and one in
LA with Angel. Faith's in Europe but heading back
this way." Gibbs nodded. "What do we have on the

"A lot," he admitted. "That's why we're off. Since
we're so involved and close to some of the members,
meaning Jen, we can't go," he noted bitterly. "They
think they'll blow themselves up first."

"Is Oz still in town?" Tony asked. Gibbs shook his
head. "We're sure?"

"Yeah, I am. He called just before getting on the
plane with his girlfriend. They were heading back to
LA." Xander nodded at that. "Did he know?" He
shook his head. "Are you going to be okay?"

"No." He shifted so he was sitting unsupported.
"I'll add her to the same place as Jesse is. I'm the
one who told her, and showed her."

"It was her choice to do the spell," Tony reminded

"We all wanted her to do it, even if we were upset as
hell with her for doing it," Xander told him. "The
town was being overrun, Tony. We were losing and
were probably going to die within weeks. She went
after Buffy." That got a displeased grunt. "That
doesn't help me since I still found it and told her. I'm
the one who made her choose death by Spike."

Tony gave him a hug and a gentle kiss. "I'll be here
while you grieve, you know that." Xander nodded,
resting against him. "Boss, McGee isn't snoring any
more." He went down to check on him and Tony
whispered in his ear, getting a nod. "Okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be okay. It's just going to take a few days.
I'm from Sunnydale and we're used to a lot of
death." He looked in his eyes. "I'm sorry. This isn't
fair to you."

"Once it's back there, we'll move on," he told him.
"Once the grief is gone and all that good stuff."
Xander nodded and hugged him again. "We'll
survive, Xander. It's what we do." He stroked his
back, soothing him the best he could.


Xander sat down in front of his altar Sunday
morning, sitting his iced tea next to him and carefully
laying out everything he would need. Tony came in
and curled up in the corner to watch him. He
finished and drank some of the tea, wetting his throat
for what he was about to do. "We locked down?" he
asked quietly. Tony nodded. "Thank you." He
closed his eyes and let out a breath, then inhaled and
started on the spell to channel the witches that would
need to help Giles move the hellmouth. There was no
way he could do it on his own. He felt them come
down next to him and kept going, sending a silent
prayer of 'sorry' at the same time as part of it. They
both climbed into him and settled in for a while. It
was warm and comforting to him but they needed to
help. He could appreciate the comfort they were
giving him later. He stopped chanting and bowed,
then got to work on the spell to help Giles. He hadn't
told him he'd be trying to help, but he would need it.
There was no way he could do that on his own. They
got the second spell sat up and looked at Tony.
"Out," they ordered.


The Xander merge smiled and shook their head.
"The energy will be enormous and it could hurt

"Then let me help." She looked him over. "I know I
can feel magic. Use me as a battery or whatever."

"We can't," Tara's voice told him. "This level of
magic will change you, as it once did Willow. You're
untrained and unknowing."

"Xander's still mine and he's not doing this without
me in here with you."

She smirked at him. "I approve of you, but not in
this instance, Anthony. For now, we are protecting
you, then you can come back and make sure that we
leave him alone. The spell needs to be done by those
who already know, not by those untrained and
untried. You can sit outside and make sure we are
unbothered by everyone, but you cannot be in here."


Willow's voice sighed. "Tony, out."


"Tony, it could turn you into me."

"So? I'm not leaving him."

She glared at him out of Xander's eyes, then swatted
him. "I'd never let him be hurt, Tony. Out!" He
stared back and she changed hers, adding a touch of
magic to the command. "Go and take up position
outside the door to protect us."

"Fat chance," he snorted. "You don't do that nearly
as well as Gibbs, plus you're wasting time and

"If you stay," Tara's voice told him, "you will be
harmed. Xander wouldn't want that. He's trained
and knows the ways that magic will move through
him. He'll be able to keep it from warping him or
harming him. He can't do it to you and we can't take
the energy to shield you. Your instincts are sound
but in this case he can't, Tony. Please. Xander
trusted us with his life. You know that. Let us
protect him this time. Go and wait on us. It will be
hours and nothing can bother us." He nodded and
left them alone, sitting with his back against the now
closed door, legs stretched across the hall. Tara
finished off the tea. "Thank you, Xander. You
remembered." She and Willow mentally joined
hands and took Xander with them. The second spell
was more intricate and they were leading it. He was
there as a battery and backup if they got stunned. It
was their spell. Xander didn't have magic like they
had when they were alive; he didn't have the same

Tara felt the hellmouth respond through Willow,
who had touched it magically more often than
anyone else presently in existence. They worked on
coaxing it back where it used to go, making the
energy flow that way. But not stick. Tara was there
to nudge and herd the energy from behind while
Willow's part of the spell drew it on. Giles was there
calling out to it to come home. She felt Willow's
magic connect to the old one, feeling the sullen flame
of energy spark and shift toward her energy. It liked
her. It liked Xander's energy as well, calling out to
its children. He pushed forward a bit and they
helped the magics join. The hellmouth welcomed its
old power back with a roar of pleasure. The three let
it go and watched as it wobbled between wanting to
go back to its current spot and stay where it was
welcome and comforted. Willow gave it another
nudge and the last of the local energies followed the
mass, making it snap back. All that was the
hellmouth, all the complexities of magic and physics,
of light and dark, of power and substantial
consciousness that made it up, slid home and the
world groaned a bit as the power wiggled back into
the old hole to make sure it still fit the same way.

The girls got to work on the third part, cleaning up
any remaining mess left at the current hellmouth and
where it had opened. They felt the remaining taint
and shut it down gently, coaxing it back into the
ground. That area would ever be a spot that drew
things and violence but it wouldn't open again. Not
with the way they sewed it shut. When they were
done, they were panting and sweating heavily,
dripping wet and their t-shirt was so wet it could be
wrung out. They looked around, then at the altar.
"Tony, can we have a drink?" they called together.
They relaxed and lowered the shield around the
room, wincing at the snap of power back into them.
It was too much too soon but he wouldn't be able to
get in without it. Tony came in with a glass of ice
water and the pitcher, handing it over silently and
taking his spot back up again. They drank two
glasses before the girls gathered themselves.

They sent one last comforting mental hug at Xander
before sliding out of him, leaving nothing of
themselves to further taint him. He collapsed against
Tony's leg while they watched, and they were sorry,
but it couldn't be helped. Willow had to stop Tara
from going back, taking her hand and walking her
back to their spot. She ended the last of the spell that
had called them, freeing them back to their watching
and waiting for the rest of their family to join them.
Tara looked back, watching Tony take care of him,
starting by running a hand through his hair while he
woke him back up. She nodded. He would take care
of her Xander-buddy. She could wait for him to
come so Xander could have as much time as possible
with his love. It's clear Tony loved him as much as
she had Willow. She kissed the back of Willow's
hand when she turned back around, taking her back
to the spot where they were gathered. Cordelia stood
up but she held up a hand. "It's done. He's fine."
She nodded and sat down, lips pursed. "Tony's
taking good care of him."

"Finally!" she complained.

"At least he's got someone," Wes pointed out quietly,
glaring at her. "It's about time that he found a true
mate, Cordelia. Plus I *like* Tony, he's a decent sort
who kept him from hunting alone. Any man that can
make Xander see sense and that Xander listens to,
plus makes him happy enough to have sex in public,
is welcome to my friend in my book."

"I wasn't complaining about the hellmouth going
back, Wes, I was complaining that it took Tony so
long to realize he needed to take care of the big

"He knew before," Tara assured her. "Xander's
proud and fussy. He wouldn't let anyone fuss over
him. Not even when his eye was popped." She
nodded at Willow. "Or don't you remember the
fight when she tried?"

"Oh, I so very muchly do," Willow said dryly,
shaking her head. "I agree, from what I saw in his
mind, I like him with Tony, Cordy. He loves Xander.
Enough to make him quit doing stupid stuff."

"Fine, then it's a good thing," she agreed. They
tuned back in, watching as Tony carried Xander up
to the bathroom, settling him in his lap while he
started a bath. "Think we should find him the book
on how to deal with someone who's over-magiced
it?" she offered.

Wes smirked. "He knows, it appeared during his
randy dream last night. I made sure of it." She
smirked back at him, a wicked, evil look. "Yes, I was
eavesdropping, dear. Like you, I wanted to make
sure he had real feelings for my little friend."

"Oh, he definitely has feelings," Tara said dryly,
shaking her head and sitting down with Willow next
to her. "If he had any more feelings for him, they'd
have sex in front of Gibbs next time." Willow
blushed at that. "So, when they all come up, we're
bringing the whole group here, right? Since they're
part of the hunting thing? Xander did train them as
the Scoobies TNG."

"He did," Willow agreed. "I wouldn't mind hanging
with Xander and Tony, or Timmy again either. Plus
Abby would make a kick-ass poker partner." That
got a smirk from Wes, that same wicked, evil look
Cordelia had given him. "What?" she defended.

"I think you'd like the dear one for a bit more than

"Well, yeah, but Timmy likes her that way too and
I'd never poach." She shrugged and smiled as their
occasional companions came in. "Hi, Kate, Doyle.
Xander's fine. He called on us to help."

"Good. What's Tony doing?"

Tara looked at the picture they had going on. "Well,
right now he's easing him back into sleep the natural
way," she said with a red-hot blush for the tender
handjob going on. She squeaked and hid her face.

"Damn, he's hot doing that," Cordelia said, staring
without blinking.

Kate blushed too. "Let's hope it stops there and they
just cuddle until Xander's better."

Wes snorted and shook his head. "Tonight he'll be
bent over the bed while Xander burns off the excess
energy his body will be gathering. One of them will
not be sitting well tomorrow." Kate blushed darker
and walked over to hide her face with Tara's. The
rest of them watched how he took care of Xander,
even bathing him gently once he was back asleep.

Tony smiled at Xander when he was done. "I'll let
you tell Gibbs tomorrow, once we're sure it's
staying," he whispered. "And if I hear one more
giggle, I'm going to call them back myself and spank
them." He looked up. "No peeking!" he ordered
quietly. "It's mine now, you didn't use your chance
when you had it." The giggling and commentary he
could vaguely hear in the back of his head faded out.
"Thank you!" He got back to work pampering his
lover. He needed it. He was so tired. He left him
long enough to get the water pitcher and cup, plus a
bag of chips for him. He knew how Xander ate. It'd
be more welcome than anything but chocolate and he
did not want to see Xander bounce today. Maybe
later if he was going to fulfill the male voice's
promise of being bent across the bed.....

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