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Child of the Hellmouth

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Our Roots Run Deep". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: School is back in session, and it's just another year on the Hellmouth, with demons, hyenas and all sorts of surprises.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > YuYu HakushocalikocatFR1531174,5671426584,47914 Feb 105 Jun 13Yes

For A Moment

Child of the Hellmouth
For a Moment
calikocat

word count: 7189

XXX

It was nice, having a pack that was as large and as strong as theirs, the feral four were dependable and he cared about all of them. But nothing could replace the feeling of just hanging out with his best friends and his girlfriend.

They were at the Bronze, dancing to the DJ of the night; there wasn't a band so there was no cover, always a cool deal. He took a turn dancing with each girl, if there was one thing he'd learned over the years of being friends with Willow, it was that girls liked to feel pretty and wanted. Willow thought he was clueless about that sort of thing, and sometimes he was. But not when it came to dancing at the Bronze. So he danced with Cordelia, then Willow, then Buffy and then Cordelia again. Of course when the DJ played something fast enough to really party too then all four of them were on the floor flowing and rocking out to the music.

And usually he enjoyed such nights, he liked making heads turn, he liked how when the girls danced freely that eyes followed them. It was fun to rub it in the faces of the 'popular' crowd, their message to the snobs was always the same; 'See how free we are. See how pretty, how we shine. You can't touch us. We're way out of your league.'

But tonight...there was almost a feeling of foreboding in the air. Something sinister was watching them...or someone. But every time he looked around, he couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. There were too many people, too many smells, and he couldn't pick out exactly what was making him uneasy. All he could be certain of was that there was a predator lurking among the prey tonight, and it was focusing its attention on them. Especially when he danced with Buffy...

Angel.

Other vamps would occasionally stalk them when they partied, but none had the intensity of the master vampire. Yet Xander still couldn't find him in the crowd, and the girls didn't seem to know they were being watched. Buffy had a high natural Slayer talent for spotting vamps in a crowd; but Angel had always been her blind spot, even now when he was at his most deadly.

The feeling lessened suddenly, and he felt almost at ease. Not necessarily a good thing. Now he needed to get the girls out and start on his patrol. If Angel wasn't at the Bronze anymore then he was out hunting. Damn.

"Where are you tonight?" Cordelia asked him as they moved back to the table where Buffy and Willow were holding down the fort.

"Just thinking. We should probably call it a night, hit the road. Prowl a few alleys."

"In other words time to walk Willow home and make a sweep before bed." Buffy pouted just a bit, even as she grabbed her purse. "Ready Wills?"

"Yep. Kinda dead tonight anyway, its better when they have a band."

Cordelia smirked as she grabbed her sparkly clutch purse. "You mean when the Dingos are playing."

Willow grinned. "That too."

They moved through the crowd easily and said goodnight as they reached the exit. Buffy left, arm in arm with Willow, and Cordy linked her arm with his. "Want to show a girl a good time?"

"What did you have in mind?"

"A little excitement, a couple of slayings and a long kiss goodnight?"

He smiled a little. "Got a weapon?"

She pulled a stake out of her clutch. "Always."

"That's my girl...how the heck did you fit that in your purse? It's tiny!"

"A girl's gotta have some secrets...I also have a dagger."

He stopped and looked her over. "Where?" She smirked and he rolled his eyes. "Right, girls, secrets, got it."

"Good boy."

He snorted as they continued to move through the darkened streets, a comfortable silence between them. As they approached the more industrial part of Sunnydale he held up a hand to signal complete silence as he let go of her. He motioned for her to duck behind the corner of a building. She did, just as a vamp jumped at him. He punched the demon's jaw, hard enough to knock it back a couple of feet and leave it stunned. Then there was a splash and the vampire started screaming and clawing at its face. He darted forward, grabbed it, and Cordelia charged forward with her stake, striking it's heart and pulling back like he'd taught her. The vampire poofed into dust and he remembered not to breathe in, choking on vamp dust was never fun.

"Well? How'd I do?"

"Perfect. The holy water was a nice touch."

She grinned at him as he took her hand and they continued on to their destination. The factory.

Spike was waiting for them.

Cordelia wasted no time letting go of his hand to greet Spike with a kiss to his scarred cheek before promptly seating herself on the vampire's lap and digging a bag of blood out of her seemingly magical purse.

"Geez Cordy, what are you Mary Poppins? How much more stuff do you have in there?"

"The usual: My car keys, compact, lipstick, some cash, and a few unmentionables."

"Including a stake and pack of blood, what every other girl is carrying I'm sure."

She made a face at him as she handed Spike the blood, however she frowned as she looked at his nails. "Your polish is gone." She took the blood back, put it in Spike's other hand and dug into her tiny purse, retrieving a bottle of black nail polish. "Hold still."

Spike looked at her for a moment in disbelief before turning his gaze to Xander, one brow raised in question. Xander shrugged. "I've learned not to question what Queen C does, there's less bloodshed that way."

Cordelia gave a very prim snort as she continued to polish Spike's nails. "I'll show you bloodshed Mr. Harris."

Xander grinned at her as he leaned down to kiss her temple before moving to inspect the scars on Spike's cheek. "They're almost gone." He let his thumb trail over the remaining blemishes. "Any other progress?"

Spike looked at them both searching for answers. "Some... why do you do this?"

Cordelia finished up his pinky and capped the bottle of polish. "Because Angel is crazy."

Xander nodded. "And if you don't heal you can't defend yourself."

Cordelia grabbed the pack of blood and set it on her lap as she reached for Spike's other hand and began painting the nails.

"So...you want me well again."

"Pretty much." Xander answered as he settled on the ground.

"You do realize I'm a demon. Prone to attacking humans and eating them."

"Is that what you do?" Cordelia asked as she glanced at him with a smirk.

He smirked back at her mischievous hazel eyes. "Oh on occasion I catch a football game, real football, not that crap you Americans are so obsessed with. I'll get a pint with Clem, play a round of kitten poker with him and the fellows. But mostly yeah, I eat people."

Cordelia looked up in surprise. "You know Clem?"

"Focus Cordy." He looked back at Spike. "But would you eat us?" Xander asked.

Cordelia capped the nail polish again and popped it back in her purse, her own gaze focusing on Spike and his answer.

Spike looked at one brunette, then the other. A matched set. Sharp hazel eyes and soulful puppy brown. Could he eat them? Probably not.

"No."

Matching happy smiles shown brighter than the sun in the darkness and if he could breathe...well the sight would have taken the air right from his lungs. He quirked his lips in a smirk and brought the girl's hand to his lips, placing a kiss on her knuckles, and on each finger tip. "It's getting late." He wasn't prepared for the pouts both children gave him. "Now, now. You have school, and I don't want Daddy to catch me consorting with the enemy...for all our sakes."

Cordelia kissed his lips, firmly, her mouth closed. "Good night." She smiled and stood and Xander came forward.

The need to warn them was a dull ache in his unbeating heart. "Angel is getting restless, probably going to step up his games with the Slayer. Be careful, she might not be... his only target..." Xander's lips cut him off gradually as the boy leaned down to kiss him, passion igniting almost instantly. Teeth teased at his lips and he opened his mouth to drink the boy down, making a whimper of need escape the teen...both teens actually. Spike pulled back, only to dive in for a softer kiss to chase away the pout that was already forming. "Go on pet. Get your girl tucked in safe for the night."

Xander gave him a soft smile before putting the pack of blood back into Spike's hand, as it had slipped from his lap. "See you soon."

Their walk back to his house was quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. Xander wasn't sure what Cordy was thinking of...but her reaction to him kissing Spike was interesting. It almost gave him hope that this would work...at least until Buffy and Willow found out about the Spike thing. Then he'd be a dead man and wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.

They passed by Cordelia's car, which they'd left in his driveway before going to the Bronze, and headed up the steps. He unlocked the door and paused, listening.

"What is it?"

"Sorry. Habit."

"Your dad?"

He nodded. "It was always better to know where he was, easier to avoid him that way." He motioned her inside. "Hungry?"

"A little."

Xander smiled as he closed the door behind them and led her into the kitchen. "How's a salad sound? Topped with some sweet teriyaki chicken and my homemade low-fat dressing of course."

"Sounds good."

He got the bowl of salad out, glad he'd put it together the night before, along with the container of chicken. They ate their late meal in companionable quiet, until it occurred to him how late it was getting. He didn't want to send Cordelia home so late without an escort. "Do you want to stay the night? Er, in the guest room I mean. It being so late and all and us living on the mouth of hell and everything..."

Cordelia smirked a little at his ramble. "Nope. Your room will be fine."

He nearly choked on his water. "O-okay."

He was surprised he wasn't blushing, though thankful for it. He handed Cordelia the largest t-shirt he could find. "Here, you can borrow this for tonight."

"Thanks." And in a very trusting gesture, she turned her back to him as she started to undress. He gulped and did the same, suddenly glad Marshal was nowhere in sight.

In no time he was in his boxers she was ready for bed as well. He turned down the covers, made room for her and waited for her to join him. Cordelia smiled and slid in beside him, snuggling her way into his arms and relaxing.

Xander smiled, kissed the top of her head and whispered; "Good night Cordy."

"Night Xan."

xxx

They woke the next morning to Marshal sprawled over the both of them, purring loudly. Shy smiles were exchanged before Cordy crawled out of bed, grabbed his old tatty robe and dashed out the door. He puzzled the action over in his mind, until she returned with an overnight bad. Sneaky girl, she'd planned to sleep over all along. He shook his head with a grin as he got out of bed to give her a quick kiss. "I'll shower first, and then fix us something to eat."

"Leave me some hot water?"

"For you Queen C? Anything."

They moved around one another from room to room, going about morning rituals as if they'd been sharing space for years, like it was completely natural to wake up next to one another. It was like a weight had been lifted, maybe they weren't ready for some things, but he knew now that when they were, they'd be okay.

However they were so relaxed in their new found freedom with one another that they never noticed Jessica peek out of her room, nor did they see her when they left for school. Jessica knew her son was growing up...but she'd never expected him to bring a girl home...this changed a few things.

xxx

Buffy slammed the library door open and strode in with an air of agitation...and borderline panic. "He was in my room last night."

Giles looked up from the counter where he was doing actual librarian stuff, not watchery stuff. "Who?"

"Angel." She came to a halt by the table where he and Cordy sat, hands loosely clasped. "When I woke up there was a picture on my pillow. A drawing of me sleeping."

Cordelia gave him a worried glance. "I thought vampires had to have an invite before they could come inside."

Giles nodded. "That is true, but once a vampire has an invitation they're always welcome."

Xander grimaced. "It's never a good idea to invite strange men into your home anyway."

Cordelia gave him a little smirk. "So you don't want to come over tonight?"

"I'm not strange. Just abnormal."

Buffy glared at the two of them and he and Cordelia both ducked their heads in temporary shame. "Focus people. Angel can come and go as he pleases and I need a way to take back the invitation."

"I can redo your wards, but a de-invite spell would definitely be a good idea."

Giles sighed. "Xander, de-invite is not a word."

"Not even when you add a hyphen?"

"No."

"Huh. Anyway, that'll be something for Giles to look up." Xander grinned at the watcher who looked to the ceiling, as if he were praying for patience. The library door opened again, making everyone tense just a bit, but when they saw Jonathan and a girl walk in they immediately relaxed.

"Hey guys." Jonathan looked at the varied group curiously.

Xander stood from his chair, helping Cordelia stand. "Hey Jono. What's up?"

Jonathan made a face. "Research paper, we need some books on Stalin."

Giles perked up a bit. "Oh, historical biographies are in the third row."

"Thanks. Later Xander." Jonathan and his partner headed toward the stacks and their group slipped out the door.

Once they were in the outside corridor Giles spoke. "So he has decided to step up his games then?"

"By watching her sleep? Sure it's creepy but I thought he wanted to hurt her or kill her." Cordelia looked puzzled by their looks. "What? It's a legitimate thought."

"Yes well...Angelus was known for his...head games. He's a master strategist, and what he's doing is a classic tactic. He's doing this to throw you off, too provoke you, and drive you to make a mistake."

Xander snorted in disbelief. "Wow...that's more like a classic kindergarten tactic. We did that all the time when we were five, right Cordy?"

"Those were the days." She smiled. "It always made my day to make the older boys cry."

"You're all heart Cor."

"Guys, enough. Giles...Angel told me...months ago that when he was obsessed with Drusilla that the first thing he did to her...was kill her family."

Suddenly Buffy's panic made sense and he wanted to smack himself for being so flippant before. "Your Mom."

She gulped. "Yeah. I'm going to have to tell her something. I don't suppose the truth is an option?" The hope in her eyes was quickly squashed.

"No, you must keep your identity a secret."

"Why?" Cordelia asked. "We all know."

"And that is not for lack of effort on my part." Giles reminded them.

"Giles I've got to tell her something. He's got a skeleton key to my house; no door is going to keep him out."

"Xander already told you he will rework the wards, this time without making an exception for Angel the way Kagome did. And I will find...a spell. One that will revoke the invitation."

"But what about until then?"

Xander moved to give her a quick hug. "We can step up patrol around your house and the gallery. Maybe put some wards up there to specifically keep him out of the building, and we'll redo the wards on your house soon. Willow needs the practice anyway."

"Thanks Xan that will help. I'm going to go find Willow and let her know." She slipped from his arms and walked away.

Giles cleared his throat. "Xander perhaps you would accompany me to um...strategize...err that is..."

"Smooth, Giles, very smooth." Xander smirked. "Before you hurt yourself with that lame line you should know that Cordy knows about Spike...everything about Spike."

"Oh." Giles slipped his glasses off to polish them before looking from Cordelia, who was smiling, back to Xander. He placed the frame back on his face. "And you're still alive?"

"Yep."

Cordelia smirked. "As long as I get to watch, which is very hot by the way, I don't mind sharing my boyfriend. Especially with the potential of having two boyfriends at my fingertips."

"Yes...well..." Giles looked lost for a moment. "Er...does Spike. Good lord I can't believe I'm asking this. Does he have any ideas, perhaps some insight to the situation?"

Xander's smile slipped from his face. "He warned us that Angel is getting restless."

"Playful." Cordelia added helpfully.

"Possibly bored, and that he won't just come after Buffy. We all need to be careful."

"Then Buffy is right, her mother may become a target."

Xander nodded. "Just like any of us."

"Wonderful."

xxx

Giles caught up to her just as she all but dragged Willow out of Jenny's classroom. She gave her watcher a small smile and a nod of approval when he stayed behind to talk to his former lover.

Willow caught the gesture and smiled at her. "I'm with Xander. I'm proud of you, for lots of things of course, but this especially. She really means a lot to him."

Buffy sighed; doing the right thing was hard. "I don't want him to be lonely."

Willow smiled. "Come on. Let's go pile up with Larry and Kyle in the commons."

"Wouldn't it be rude to interrupt their cuddle time?"

The grin her friend gave her was a tad mischievous. "Maybe a little, but Kyle is comfy."

"Does Oz know you feel this way?"

"Yep, he's cool with it. We all fell asleep in a pile in the back of Larry's truck watching a meteor shower the other night. Oz thinks a pack pile is comfy too."

At that image Buffy had to smile. "Maybe piling up with the guys wouldn't be so bad."

xxx

Cordelia stared at the foliage by his front door as he locked it behind them. "What's with the flowers? They look different than they did last night."

"Well, they're not normal flowers."

"Really." The look she gave him was not one of amusement.

He grinned and kissed her cheek. "A while back I had Kurama plant a few at everyone's houses. I just recently activated these."

"And that's why they're moving a bit...if there was a breeze I wouldn't have noticed them. What are they supposed to do anyway?"

"Take a bite out of anyone who shows up with malicious intent."

"Neat. Oh hey, is that why he was in Sunnydale?"

"Yep."

"Huh. So are their some of these at my house?"

"Yeah. Just gotta activate them."

She nodded and started to drag him to her car. "Let's go then, you probably need to get them all done huh?"

"Wouldn't hurt."

xxx

The click of Drusilla's heels on the tile floor alerted him to her presence, something he didn't mind once. But now...these days she brought him gifts, gifts no self-respecting vampire would want. The whimper of a puppy made him want to cringe, but he didn't move. At least she was bringing him something that was still alive this time. But her presents always paled compared to what the children brought him.

"I've got something for you. A sweet little orphan, all alone now. She's precious isn't she? Her Mummy died without a fight." Dru circled around him. "I brought her to cheer you up. You look so lonely without them, your sweet puppies, your doe-eyed pets." Dru's smile was knowing. "Have a taste love."

"I'm not hungry, and that little treat is hardly enough to fill my stomach."

"Just a bite? Until your next meal? Come now, open wide love."

He snarled and wheeled away from her. "I'm not a child Dru, stop bloody treating me like one."

"Oh?" Angel said as he entered the room. "Why is that? She does practically everything for you; you should be used to it by now. How else is she supposed to take care of you since you can't do it yourself?" He smirked at Spike, his gaze cruel, taunting. "Speaking of, if there's anything you need me to...do." His eyes drifted to Drusilla. "Don't hesitate to ask. I'll be happy to help."

"You would taunt me in my own home."

Angel leaned down and pressed his lips to Spike's forehead. "If you weren't stuck in this chair spinning your wheels I'd be more than happy to play with you. But you're no fun like this."

"Get your hands off me." Spike snarled as he pushed the other away.

Angel only laughed as he stumbled back. "No need to feel jealous my boy. You'll be on your feet soon enough, then we can have some real fun. Just like we used to. Right Dru?" Angel tilted his head in question. "Dru?"

Spike turned to look at her as well; she was caught in a vision. Her eyes were unfocused, seeing something that only she could see. She cried out as if in pain, and moaned in despair. "Dru what is it? What do you see?" He only hoped it wasn't about Xander or his girl, their girl...whatever she was.

The puppy slipped from her grasp as she leaned heavily against a chair. "Something...something's going to happen. The air whispers to me, secrets and old magic will come again. An old enemy is going to destroy our happy home."

Angel actually looked nervous, and considering what happened the last time magic broke them up he had a good reason. Frankly, Spike couldn't wait for whatever was coming.

xxx

Xander caught up to Buffy and Willow on the front steps of the school. "Hey Wills. Where were you last night? We passed by your house on patrol and you weren't home? Were you having late night smoochies with Oz?"

Buffy gave him a look. "Sometimes I think you like gossip more than most girls."

Willow rolled her eyes. "Angel left me a present last night in my room. So I spent the night at Buffy's. We had a girl's night in, with weapons."

Xander growled a bit. "What did he do?"

"He left me my fish in an envelope."

He winced. "Sorry. We need to get those wards done as soon as possible."

"Thanks." She looked across the front lawn and pouted when she caught sight of Ms Calendar. "Darn. She's here, and I was so looking forward to teaching her class this morning. Hours of lesson plans wasted." Willow continued to grumble to herself as she wandered off.

Buffy gazed in the same direction. "I...I'm gonna talk to Ms. Calendar."

"Should I get a paramedic?"

Buffy smacked his arm. "No. There won't be any violence."

He hugged her briefly before she slipped away and headed toward Jenny. As they talked in the distance Kyle, Heidi, Tor and Rhonda joined him.

Kyle took in the scene and glanced at him. "Things getting a little easier?"

He nodded. "Looks like it."

Heidi leaned against him. "Is there a reason there are blood thirsty petunias by my front door?"

He gave her a half smile. "Er...maybe?"

She snorted. "Not that I minded. The guy was a jerk anyway."

"If it helps he was thinking malicious thoughts and that why the flowers bit him...and you all have flowers like that now."

Rhonda grimaced. "Fun."

xxx

Willow finished nailing the cross to her bedroom wall and hid it with her bedroom curtain. She looked at Buffy. "Xander said he'd come by tomorrow so we could redo the wards on my house and yours."

Buffy turned the page of the book Ms Calendar had given Giles, one that had a barrier spell in it. "Why didn't you guys do both tonight?"

"We weren't sure how the different magics would interact; we figured it was safer to lay the anti-vampire spell over the existing wards. And so far there hasn't been any sparks, so it should be safe to do new wards tomorrow."

Buffy smiled. "You guys are really getting into this magic thing."

Well you can't really dabble without getting involved, and being a miko is different than being a witch."

"Are you still going to the range we set up? I know archery is big with Kagome."

"Yep, I go with Tor a lot. Sometimes with Oz. He seems pretty interested in getting to use the weapons we have...I think that's a guy thing."

"I don't think so. Have you seen the way Heidi can use a sword? I think it's just a Sunnydale thing."

They grinned at one another until Willow caught sight of an envelope on her bed, one that was very similar to the one she'd found her fish in. Carefully she opened it and pulled out its contents..."Buffy."

"What is it?"

Willow handed her the sheet of paper, on it was a drawing of Joyce sleeping.

xxx

When they visited Spike in an alley not too close to the factory they were immediately on edge. There was a nervousness about the vampire that was almost catching, and made them worry, almost jittery.

Xander knelt in front of the vampire and held his hands. "Spike?

"Dru had a vision. She knows about whatever it is your planning, Angel's already gone out to stop it."

He and Cordelia looked at one another in confusion, and it was Cordelia that spoke. "We aren't planning anything...are we?"

"Not the last time I checked." He looked back to Spike. "What was the vision about?"

Spike looked even more worried at their confusion. "An old enemy ending our 'happy' home."

Xander frowned and lifted a hand to cup Spike's cheek. "I'm sorry you're stuck spending your days with Dead Boy."

Cordelia put a hand on his shoulder. "Focus. Who could be the old enemy...you've never liked Angel."

"I'm not that old though."

She nodded. "So someone who's had an uber grudge against him."

Xander felt his eyes widen. "...the gypsies..."

Cordy mimicked his expression. "The only gypsy we know is...Ms. Calendar."

"Call her house."

Cordelia pulled out her cell phone and dialed the number. He was humbled by her ability to remember so many phone numbers without getting them mixed up. "There's no answer."

"She may still be at school."

"That's good right. There are wards there."

"Wards? Talented little group aren't you."

She flicked her eyes at Spike. "You have no idea."

"We haven't redone the wards in the library to keep Angel out...and we never put wards on her class room."

"Oh no."

Spike looked at them and nudged Xander away from him. "Better hurry."

"Thank you." Xander gave him a quick smile before they both kissed his cheeks and handed him a pack of blood. "Gotta go."

They were off and running before Spike could even form an answer, and by the time he sank his teeth into the blood pack he could hear a screeching of tires in the night air. He quietly wished them luck.

xxx

Jenny ran for all she was worth, she had no idea what she'd been thinking, trying to hold a conversation with Angel in his current state was pointless. And now she just might die for trying to right her people's wrongs.

Angel lunged at her, almost playfully, she didn't bother wasting time to scream, she just kept running, but he was getting too close. She tripped down the stairs instead of running down them like she meant to do and tried to climb to her feet...but strong hands grabbed her and lifted her up.

"Sorry Jenny. It's been fun though." Angel smiled at her as he slipped his hands around her head. He was going to snap her neck.

In a second of pure panic and rage she lashed out at him, kicking him where it would hurt him the most. His face contorted in pain as he snarled and threw her from him, the last thing she saw was the wall coming toward her.

Xander saw Ms. Calendar crumple after her head struck the wall and without thinking he tackled Angel before the vampire could recover from the injury she'd given him. For a few moments they struggled, both of them snarling, punching one another, and on Xander's part nearly biting Angel's ear off. Then Angel hit his chin just right and Xander saw stars which gave Angel the upper hand...until a red blur, which happened to be a fire extinguisher, smashed into the side of his head, knocking him off of Xander.

Then there were several splashes, followed by screams of pain and sizzling...and burning flesh? Who the heck brought the acid out? Xander shook away the stars and climbed to his feet. Rhonda and Cordelia stood between him and Angel, who was currently writhing in agony on the floor.

"Alpha?" Rhonda whispered, her eyes never leaving the vampire.

"I'm okay." He hurried over to Jenny and scooped her up. "Let's move."

Cordelia nodded and led the way to her car, fire extinguisher still in her grasp. He followed her, keeping his eyes and ears open in case Drusilla or some other vamps were laying in wait. Rhonda brought up the rear of their little parade, her super-soaker full of holy water cocked and ready for action. She too kept her eyes open for possible attackers while covering their six.

"Alpha? Where are we going?"

"Hospital, the faster the better."

Cordy spared a glance back at him. "She's alive?"

He nodded, even as he flicked his eyes toward the bleeding head wound Jenny now sported. "Barely."

xxx

Waiting was never easy, but it was especially hard when you were stuck in a hospital waiting room and the doctors wouldn't tell you anything about the person you were worried about. Xander sat on a hard couch, Cordelia huddled in his lap, and Rhonda huddled beside them. They'd been that way for nearly twenty minutes before the others arrived in mass, Giles, Willow and Buffy at the head of the pack with Kyle Heidi and Tor behind them.

Giles spotted them first and strode to them, his face pale, his fists clenched, and anguish in his eyes, and he feared the worst. "Jenny, is she?"

Xander barely kept from flinching under that worried gaze. "Alive, but they won't tell us anything."

The anguish turned to rage in an instant. "Why the bloody hell not?"

Cordelia lifted her head and spoke in a soft voice, one that had a bit of a soothing effect on everyone. "We're not next of kin Giles, doesn't matter if we feel that way."

Rhonda unfolded herself from the couch and stood, putting her hand on the Librarian's arm. "Maybe they'll talk to you."

Giles nodded, and closed his eyes. He took a few breaths to calm down and Tor put a hand on his shoulder adding his support. Tor looked at them obviously wanting answers. "What happened?"

Xander let a small growl escape. "Angelus happened."

Buffy winced. "How'd you get her away from him?"

Cordelia slid off his lap but kept her hand in his. "Rhonda had some water balloons of holy water."

Rhonda nodded. "And a super soaker full of the stuff."

Xander gave them a small satisfied smile. "And Cordy brained him with a fire extinguisher."

She rolled her eyes. "Well I wasn't going to let him kill you."

Buffy nodded at them, some relief creeping into her eyes. "I'm glad you're all okay."

Giles seemed to regain some of his composure. "Yes, we all are." He sighed. "I'm going to find a doctor." He slipped from Rhonda and Tor's hands with a small apologetic smile and strode to the nurses' station.

The others situated themselves around the room and Xander watched them. Something was off. "Is everything okay?"

Kyle gave him a look. "That's a stupid question Harris."

Xander glared back at him. "I meant besides the reason we're here."

Willow shifted a bit and wouldn't quite meet his eyes. "Well..."

"Willow?"

Willow blushed. "It's not my place too...um forget I..."

"It's okay Willow." Buffy took a breath. "Angel was at my house when Mom got home. He was doing this obsessive ex-boyfriend turned stalker routine...which he is, only he was acting like an off balanced college guy...human guy. He...told her that we'd..." She swallowed and looked away. "That we'd had sex."

"Ouch." Cordelia murmured.

Heidi shuddered. "You guys had 'The Talk' huh."

Buffy nodded. "Not something I want to go through ever again."

"Completely agree. Giles is coming back." Xander motioned their attention toward the watcher. "Giles?"

Giles sank into an empty chair. "Her brain has swelled a bit, and there was some bleeding. She's...she's in a coma. The doctor is hopeful; he said the swelling should go down."

Willow looked a little perkier at the news. "So she'll be okay?"

Giles looked a little lost. "There's no way to know for sure Willow. The longer she stays...like this...the harder it will be for her to wake up."

Xander felt a chill go through him. "So she'll be here for a while."

Giles nodded. "Yes...Xander...what is it?"

"She won't be safe from Angel here if he decides to finish the job."

Everyone was silent for a moment, eyes wide at that revelation. It was Buffy who spoke. "It's a public building."

Willow sat straighter in her seat, purpose burned in her green eyes. "We need to ward her room."

Xander nodded. "Yeah."

Kyle stood. "What do you need?"

Xander gave him a nod of approval. "There's a bag in Giles' office under his desk. It has what we'll need for the wards."

Kyle motioned to Heidi, Tor and himself. "We'll get it."

Rhonda shifted and pulled her back pack to her, the super soaker was still inside. "I'll keep watch."

Cordelia shook her head and pulled out a cross. "We'll keep watch."

Willow smiled. "Good. I need to fine a quiet place to meditate so I'll be ready for the warding."

"Go ahead Wills."

Giles looked at them all with pride, and a thankful tear in his eyes. "Thank you, all of you. I...I'm going to sit with her for a bit."

They watched him walk towards the room they'd put Jenny in. Buffy stood as well. "I'm going make a sweep of the grounds."

"Watch your back Buff."

She nodded at him and headed out the door.

xxx

He'd been designated the fetch person of the night, so he'd ended up in the hospital cafeteria to pick up eats for Cordelia and Rhonda while they kept watch in the waiting room. No one wanted to actually be in the room with Giles and Jenny; it would have felt like an intrusion of the worst kind.

Willow was somewhere outside, meditating within a protective circle, readying herself for the warding they would have to do. It would take a little more power than they were used to using to protect an area they had no claim too. The library was somewhere they were at everyday, even some weekends, it was theirs and easy to ward. Warding Jenny's room at the hospital would be so much different. It wasn't their territory, and it wasn't a home.

Xander wrinkled his nose at the healthy food available in a cold case, the salads looked wilted, and the sandwiches looked moldy. In short, none of it was up to Queen C's standards, much less Rhonda's. He looked over at the fry cook who was putting some fresh burgers on the griddle behind the counter, then took a sniff. The meat smelled real...and fresh. Hmm...That had possibilities.

Familiar footsteps drew his attention away from the cooking food and he turned to face Buffy as she entered the cafeteria, she looked worried which immediately put him on alert. "Buff?"

"Where's Giles?"

"Isn't he with Jenny?"

She shook her head and his heart sank in fear. "No. I've got Rhonda and Cordy in there with her now though...just in case."

"Damn."

Her eyes shown with fear now. "Xander...you don't think..."

He nodded. "If it was Cordy laying in that bed...it's what I would do."

"He'll die."

"Not if we stop him."

xxx

"What were you thinking? Have you lost what little sanity you had left? If you're going to kill the slayer just kill her, stop mucking about with her friends."

Angel looked at Spike as if he were the one a few cards short of a full deck. "What are you so worried about Spikey?"

"I'm worried that you're playing around will get us all killed by a very brassed off slayer. I'd rather not die in this chair Angelus."

"Don't worry baby." Angel smirked. "I'll carry you wherever we need to go."

"No thanks mate, rather you didn't."

"Relax Spike, everything's under control."

"Right, that's why you're covered in holy water burns. What? Did the kiddies have a fire hydrant blessed by a priest?"

"You're pushing Spike. You need to-"

There was a crash, the smell of accelerant hit their noses...and the table caught fire. "Told you, you tosser."

"Shut up Spike."

xxx

When they got there the factory was already on fire, though neither of them knew how that had happened. Angel had his hand around Giles' neck and was holding him up high above him.

"You've had your fun Rupert. Now you know what it's time for?"

Buffy lunged at Angel, knocking Giles out of the vampire's grasp, and into Xander's waiting arms. Xander lifted him up easily and felt torn. Get Giles out? Or help Buffy? Spike caught his eyes then, and motioned with a nod of his head to follow. Xander gave an answering nod and did as Spike wanted. He followed him to safety.

"So who had the holy water?" Spike asked once they were outside.

"Rhonda. Water balloons and a super soaker water gun."

"Are all of you that resourceful?"

"Cordy hit him with a fire extinguisher."

"That would be a yes then."

Giles opened his eyes for a moment. "You...you warned them?" Spike nodded. "Thank you." His eyes rolled back and he passed back out.

"Get going Spike...it's gonna get messy."

"Right. Be careful yeah?"

"Always." He watched Spike wheel away for a second before putting Giles down on the pavement, far enough from the building that he wouldn't get singed. Then he headed back into the building.

Buffy and Angel were still fighting...but he could tell her heart wasn't in it...and with Angel being her opponent it might never be. "Buffy! Run for it!" He yelled to her, just as he pulled his secret weapon of the night out of his pockets, armed them, and tossed them further into the factory.

Buffy heeded his warning and kicked Angel far away from her before following him back outside. Inside...Angel started screaming.

"Do I even want to know?"

"Canisters of tear gas...blessed by a priest."

"Creative."

xxx

Xander sighed as he unlocked the front door. He didn't think it was possible to be this exhausted. But he had a right to be tired, after saving Jenny, saving Giles, and warding Jenny's room at the hospital he was all but tapped out.

All he wanted was to go upstairs to his room, and pass out on his bed, and he had every intention of doing so. He crept quietly inside, locking the door behind...but before he could even set his foot on the bottom stair step his mother's voice reached him from the kitchen.

"Xander. Come here please."

"Crap." He hung his head, thinking he was in trouble for being out so late on a school night and shuffled into the kitchen. "Hey Mom."

"Have a seat Xander."

He nodded and sat across from her at the kitchen table. "What's up?"

She looked at him, really looked, and he tried not to fidget, then she brought her hand up from under the table and set a box of condoms in front of him. He made a strangled sort of eep-ing sound that made her smile just a bit. "I saw the Chase girl here with you. She spent the night."

He blushed. "Yeah...but we...nothing happened I swear."

She held up a hand to stop any further rambling. "You're not little anymore and I don't expect you to share every detail. But I do want you to be careful. So use them. Do you understand?"

He nodded, he'd agree to almost anything to get the moment over with. "Yes Ma'am."

XXX

Happy New Year!
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