For Xander to bring her home.
Giles lay on Buffy's sofa while Anya plies him tea, upstairs he can hear Buffy and Dawn arguing as to when the Slayer will take the younger Summer's out on her first patrol, which then morphs into a mad scramble as to who gets first dibs on the shower.
"Hey! No using the Slayer strength," a door slams. "Cheater!"
It is an almost typical domestic scene, one that he thought he'd never experience one again.
The world is safe, he can rest.
It seems his eyes have hardly closed when "Giles....Giles! Please wake up, something's wrong."
Anya's hand stabs his shoulder once more, making Giles aware of how much his body just *aches*.
"Yes, thank you, Anya. I believe that was the only part of me *not* damaged. So kind of you to rectify the oversight." His eyes are closed, and Giles is doubtful of generating sufficient energy to open them.
"Is he always this cranky when he wakes up? No wonder he doesn't have a girlfriend."
Buffy's tone alerts him, annoyance underlined by fear.
Giles flails out in search of his glasses, mutters a "Thank you," as they are placed in his hand. Gradually the room swims into focus, three faces peering down with varying degrees of distress.
"They're not here, Giles. It's been six hours and no sign of them."
He struggles to sit up, smiles weakly as six hands steady and guide his pitiful effort.
"I went to see if Xander needed help," Anya wrings her hands. "Besides that ugly statue thingy there's nothing there."
"Willow and Xander are gone?"
"I thought...I thought you said he'd succeeded," Dawn is almost in tears. She immediately dives in for comfort when he raises an arm.
"Perhaps Xander has taken Willow back to his place ..."
"I checked that too," Anya interjects. "He hasn't been back there."
Cursing his sluggish brain, Giles attempts to focus. "We know Xander succeeded. We are here after all, are we not?"
Tentative nods all round.
Buffy scowls, "I don't like this, Giles. Something feels wrong."
"Something is wrong," a voice says.
"WILLOW!" Anya rushes forward, brushing past the witch who leans weakly against a doorframe, only to realise that the red head is alone. "Where is he? Where's Xander?"
Buffy takes in her friends appearance, and is reminded of her own self after resurrection; an empty shell incapable of coping. Asks a question already fearing the answer. "Willow? Where is he? You didn't...?"
Willow slides to the floor, met the Slayer's gaze with empty eyes. "I don't know. God help me, I DON'T KNOW!!"
And grief and pain they thought vanquished, returns.
On his outsides and insides, as if skin and bone have been sandblasted simultaneously.
He's always imagined heaven as being less painful.
Can't feel anything, yet he feels everything. Sensory overload and he greets darkness once more with silent thanks.
Warmth on his back, dirt and stone compressed against his face. He's feeling much better.
If you count the over whelming sensation of being stomped by Godzilla as 'better'.
"Do ya think he's dead?"
An audience. Great.
"I told you we shouldn't have skipped class!" The voice is young, female, and obviously scared out of her mind.
Know the feeling kid.
World. Still here.
He saved the world!
Next time he's gonna leave it to the professionals.
Voices bicker in the background, apparently debating if reporting a dead body will garner enough brownie points to be forgiven for skipping class.
Where's his Willow?
Images. Hundreds and then thousands. Pictures and written words overlap one another until he is mentally crushed by the never ending tsunami.
Dirt in his mouth. The sound of his own screaming, and if anything the pressure in his head increases.
Time rolls on.
Hands. Attempting to be gentle as he's rolled onto his back and Xander lets out an un-manly moan that's kinda freaky.
From his perspective anyway.
Light. Bright and blinding.
"Pupils are re-active."
"Stay with us man."
Actually, he'd rather not. Nothing personal fella's, he's just not in the mood. Heroes are entitled to some fringe benefits ya know. It's in the handbook.
"Humans First are thought responsible for the attack on an Eternal Life church in St. Louis. Stay tuned after this break."
And you know what? The newsreader actually appears as though he cares. Go figure.
"Still watching the news, Xander?"
"Yeah Mick, still watching the news."
Mick is an orderly at the hospital. He reminds Xander of a Larry actually, football jock in size, buzz cut hairstyle and a weird penchant for origami. Intimidating as hell until you get to know him, Xander suspects it's those little paper swan things; found to have a strange calming effect when floated across a bedpan.
"Ready to go?"
Hesitation in the pretence of looking around the sterile room that's been his home for the last two months, as though he actually *has* something to take. "Ready," and climbs into the wheelchair.
"There's a nice lady from Social Services waiting for you. She's cute."
"Color me happy."
"Ouch. Grouchy today aren't we?"
Grouchy? Doesn't even come close.
Because in the last two months Xander's discovered how scary cops can be when they find out you don't exist. He's also had the thrill of knowing how fast the hospital can assign a psychiatrist after his insistence the year is 2002 when *everyone* knows it's only 1998?
And let's not even *go* to the mind blowing discovery of looking into a mirror and finding out he's back to being seventeen again.
Then the fun really started.
The cops went from friendly to suspicious faster than he could swallow a Twinkie, and the psychiatrist wasted days in attempts to delve deeply into Xander's relationship with his mother.
Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please.
Xander's fallen down the rabbit hole and he's not laughing.
No birth certificate. No social security number. If it wasn't for his total inability to walk through walls, Xander would say he's Caspar, your friendly ghost from another world.
They have shrimp though. He'd asked Mick one day and after a weird look the orderly returned with a recipe from a magazine just to confirm it.
The authorities are convinced he's a runaway. A crappy attitude and smart mouth haven't help much and his next destination on leaving hospital is some halfway house for teens.
It could be worse.
He could be in a world that's not his own.
Oh yeah. He is.
"Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me."