Disclaimer: See first chapter
They trudged wearily to Giles' apartment. Willow and Tara,
admittedly the most wiped of all, lay on stretchers being guided along by
Magneto. The rest leaned against one another, ready to collapse. Three
rounds of battles does that to one.
When they reached the apartment, they were not happy with what they found.
Soldiers, dressed in the Initiative's finest, were waiting for them.
"You have GOT to be kidding me!" was all Buffy could say.
The head soldier guy stepped forward. "We are here to recapture the escaped prisoner and arrest his ally, one," he seemed to try and remember, "Willow Rosenberg."
Buffy stared at him. He stared back. His men brought their rifles to bear. The mutants, still able to fight, readied themselves for battle. Xander pulled Anya out of the line of fire. Magneto resisted the urge to kill these men and be done with it.
"I've just had a really, really crappy night," Buffy announced. "And that's saying something. I'm not in the mood for a fight. But if you want one, I will so kick your soldier ass." She leaned forward, sticking herself right in head guy's face. "You see, I've got some problems with your whole being here thing. You want to get that guy?" She jerked her head to indicate Magneto. "Be my guest. Only a little warning - I'm not crying when he wipes the floor with you guys. Just try to not bleed on the tile. And about Willow? Just try to take her. It'll be funny. Because that's when I come out to play." She gripped his rifle barrel in her hand, squeezing tightly. When she let go, it was indented and deformed. "You understand?"
To his credit, the man wasn't shaking in his boots. "I have my orders to contain a dangerous hostile." He turned to his men, obviously about to give the command to start firing.
Buffy spoke before he could. "Screw your orders. Your dangerous hostile just helped save the world - did you know that? Took out a baddie that was way more than you can ever handle. So get lost."
The man looked her in the eye. He realized she wasn't kidding. With a curt gesture, he and his men were on their way.
As she watched them go, Buffy remarked, "Hope that makes up for all rude mutant cracks made while under the influence."
"It certainly does. Though I do wonder why they gave in so easily."
Buffy gave him her best Valley Girl smile. "I can be very scary when I want to be." She added, "Not to mention, most of those guys are ex- Initiative. They owe us big for last spring. Those guys know better."
From her stretcher, Willow said, "Very nice, Buffy. I don't have to go to prison. But bed now, please."
The next day, all patched and rested, they gathered at Giles' to figure out what the hell had happened that night.
"In light of recent events," Giles began to speak, "I believe I've found out exactly what the prophecy meant."
"Very simply, the Sl'kanith's weakness lay in its powers. By all rights, Drinvksh should have been able to completely manipulate Magneto into killing us. Obviously, that did not work. By repudiating Drinvksh's power, Magneto attacked his weakness and banished him from this dimension."
"Could any of us done that?" Pyro asked.
Giles paused, trying to find the best way to word the answer. "Yes and no. I believe that since Magneto refused to attack a group of people that he had often perceived as enemies, his repudiation carried more weight."
"What do you mean?" Magneto was curious as to what the Watcher was saying.
"What I mean is that the Sl'kanith's power, by all rights, should be strongest on those who have the most desire to act on their disputes. Note the people primarily affected - those in the midst of feuds. Magneto, you would agree that you feel you are in conflict with humans."
"Not in a personal way, but yes."
"So by ignoring the Sl'kanith, in essence ignoring your natural inclination, you broke his power and banished him."
"Weird," was Buffy's only remark.
"I'd say interesting, but that works as well."
"But what about that first time, with the mob? Why didn't that work then?" Xander wanted to know.
"Timing. Drinvksh wasn't present. The forces present weren't strong enough. Take your pick," Giles explained.
"Will he come back?" asked Toad.
Melly spoke up. "Banishings last for a century. If he does, you certainly won't be around to see it."
"Now that that's settled," Giles said, "what are you and your Brotherhood going to do?"
Magneto stood up and faced the Watcher. "Return to our base, most likely. Continue our work."
"If you don't mind, don't feel free to share the details."
"Of course not," agreed Magneto.
Before they left, Magneto sought out his cousin. He found her in the park, watching the birds alongside Tara.
"It's been an interesting visit," he remarked, joining them on the bench.
Willow's lips quirked up. "Not what you were expecting when you got my letter, was it?"
"Not at all. I learn you're a witch, you help me escape from prison, I help you defeat a demon - nothing like what I expected when I first opened your letter."
"What were you expecting?"
"I don't know," Magneto admitted. "Something very different, though."
They sat in comfortable silence.
"So," he began, "I see Melly hasn't left yet. When is she leaving?"
Willow and Tara exchanged glances and laughed. "Melly's decided she likes Sunnydale," Willow informed him. "She wants to buy the mansion and start a bed and breakfast for demons."
"She says there aren't enough 'suitable accommodations' for demons," Tara explained. "Anya says she'll help with the logistics."
Magneto waited a moment more, then said something that had been bothering him. "I almost went through with it," he admitted. "I almost made that killing blow."
Willow looked shocked.
Tara smiled gently. "I know," she said quietly. Willow turned to her girlfriend. "I didn't have much magic left, but I still was able to do something."
"You cast a spell on me?"
"Not really. More like sent an awareness using magic. My mother used to call it the call of blood." Tara nodded to Willow. "Willow was dying. You're her family. I was able to connect the two of you, sort of remind you of who you are. It wasn't much, but obviously enough to help."
Magneto inclined his head in respect. Willow had chosen much more wisely than he had realized.
Tara blushed and looked down at the ground. Willow reached over to give her hand a squeeze. The two shared a moment.
"I believe that's my cue to take my leave," Magneto announced, standing to go. "It has been most illuminating to have met you, Willow Rosenberg."
Willow waved at her cousin. "You'll visit, right Erik? Stop by and see us sometime? When you're not, you know, on the run from various organizations?"
Magneto smiled slightly. "Another visit could prove positively fatal."
"It's all part of our Hellmouth charm."
"We'll see. Good bye Willow, Tara." With a nod at each, he left.
Willow snuggled into Tara's side. "I have a strange life. I just said good-bye to my wanted criminal cousin and invited him to stop by and see me some time."
Tara hugged her. "I know. But it's much better than being all normal and boring, right?"
"That's what we keep telling ourselves." Willow frowned, a new thought occurring to her. "If he does stop and visit, where will we put him? We don't have a guest room. And what about dinner? We can't go out to eat, he's a wanted criminal!"
"This is Sunnydale. We'll manage."
"Oh yeah. Right." Willow reached over and held Tara's hand. "I'm glad this mess is over."
The two sat back and enjoyed the summer day in peace.