by Gypsy Gray
They were waiting. Ten minutes ago, one of Giles' early warning spells had been triggered. Oz's nose had confirmed it. They were here. It was up to Buffy to make the first move, and Xander was not pleased. Something was wrong. The back of his neck was itching. It was slowly spreading down his back and across his shoulders...Magic. Fuck!!
"It's Willow! It's a spell! Their inside, find them!"
Angel and Doyle took off for the basement, Oz and Giles headed for the attic. They made it half way up the stairs when they were hit by a pissed off Slayer. Oz wolfed instantly and took her down. But he was still learning how to be the wolf and be in control and Buffy knew exactly how to be a slayer. Giles knew too. He blocked every punch Oz couldn't.
Angel and Doyle were being backed up the stairs by a demon. Willow had been doing a summoning spell when Xander sensed her. Ethan immediately began a chant to send the thing away. He didn't get past the first verse when a crossbow dart went into his shoulder. Willow was armed. Cordy screamed and rushed the red head. Once again she was Willow's blind spot. The witch was so intent on controlling her demon, she never saw the brunette coming.
"You skeezy bitch!!"
A solid right cross knocked the witch on her ass. The Nike clad foot connecting with the side of her head knocked her out cold. Cordy had learned a thing or two in L.A. With Willow out cold the demon went nuts, but before it could get far it turned to ash.
"Xander! The spell!"
Ethan leaned heavily on the desk, he was rapidly losing consciousness. The last thing he saw before collapsing was Ripper looking at him. Xander started the spell. This was when he was most vulnerable. No matter what happened he couldn't stop the incantation until he was completely through. If he did the demon inside Buffy would destroy them all.
Giles watched his lover go down in horror. He screamed and started to go to him. Too late he remembered the Slayer. She freed one hand from his hold and sank a silver dagger in Oz's side. The werewolf bellowed in pain and doubled over. Giles was flat on his ass before he saw the punch coming. The only thing he could do was pull Oz's body off the stairs as Angel and Doyle moved to join the fight. Holy water to the face was Buffy's next trick. And it put Angel out of the game. Doyle got in a few good licks and Giles managed to trip her before he went down for the count.
Buffy was on her feet instantly. Spike was ready for her. When she moved toward Xander he was between them. His coat blocked the holy water, a kick to the wrist sent her stake flying. She attacked with her bare hands. He attacked with fangs and claws. She fought with the rage and madness of a full demon and all a slayer's strength and speed. He fought with the desperation and fear of a master vampire protecting his mate. There was no contest. Through it all Xander kept chanting, a part of his mind praying for his lover's safety.
Buffy was on her knees in front of Spike getting the life choked out of her when Willow came to. She immediately grabbed the crossbow and fired at Spike. Cordy saw it too late, but Giles didn't. The dart embedding in his back knocked him forward. Cordy screamed. Rage shook her body and she turned on Willow with the fury of a rampaging demon.
"You fucking bitch! I hate you!! You ruined my life!! You took the first man I ever loved from me!! You miserable little whore! What's the matter, wasn't Buffy's tongue enough for you? Did you have to have everything?!! He was mine!! He was the first person who ever really gave a shit about me and you stole him!!"
Every sentence and question was finished with a punch or a kick. Willow was curled in a ball nearly unconscious and Cordy wasn't stopping. Tears rolled down Xander's face. He wasn't sure if he was crying for what he'd lost with Cordy or for the pain she felt. And still he kept on with the spell. Buffy was unconscious, she hung limp in front of Spike's still choking hands. Still he chanted.
Angel moved to Spike. Slowly he eased his childe's hands from around the Slayer's throat. Both men let her fall as the elder moved to check on their fallen friends and the younger moved to stand with his lover. Doyle wrapped his arms around Cordelia and pulled her away from Willow. She fought for a moment and then went still. Her tears kept falling. Ethan cradled Giles in his arms as a human Oz wearing the tattered remnants of the clothes he went wolf in held a torn shirt to the wound. And finally the spell was done.
Xander felt the power of the words move through him and settle on the Slayer. He could since the struggle within her body but he had no time to spare on her. The boy knew his lover was unharmed, he'd been aware of every blow the blonde took. Wincing at the punishment as though he were the one taking the hits. He quickly moved to Giles and Ethan. Placing one hand on each man he pulled a small surge of power from the city outside. Redirecting the energy, he healed their wounds. A quick look at Oz revealed that werewolf healing was doing the same job for him that vampire healing was doing for Angel.
Doyle next. A few minor bruises that didn't really need his help. Then to Cordy. She was crying and shaking, but unhurt. A hug was what she needed and what she got...from Spike. For his part Xander stood over Willow's prone body. He knew he should be trying to help her, but he didn't care. She was his enemy. She'd hurt him and the first girl he ever cared about. She helped the Slayer try to kill Spike. The hyena screamed to finish the job Cordy started. It howled to rip Willow's throat out and feed her blood to his mate mouthful by mouthful. The soldier said to kill her and the Slayer. It was foolish to let your enemies live when you had the opportunity to get rid of them. Letting the witch and Buffy live was tactically unsound.
"Xander? I didn't ki...Is she alive?"
The desperate fear in Cordelia's voice made his choice for him. He couldn't allow her to go through life with the weight of Willow's death on her shoulders. He kneeled down and put his hand on Willow's stomach. Pulling power from outside he began to heal her. Broken ribs and fractured skull set and knitted themselves, cuts closed and bruised, bruises yellowed and faded. Six months worth of healing was accomplished in six minutes.
When he was done he stood and turned his back on the still unconscious red head. She was nothing to him now. If not for Cordy he'd have let her die. Spike's arms came around him and he was cuddled against his lover's chest. He wrapped his own arms around the vampire and held on. They were tired, dirty, sore, and he'd probably be hoarse for days. But they were alive and together. And he couldn't remember ever feeling so much like he'd done a good thing in his whole life. And he didn't even care just how fucked up his life use to be. What did any of that matter when he had Spike as his future? It didn't.