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Defender of the Night

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Summary: Challenge response- Xander dresses as something inhuman for Halloween

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Cartoons > GargoylesMMcGregorFR1817113,296109119175,41510 Feb 0521 Jul 08Yes
CoA Winner

Part Five

NOTE: I haven't officially said anything about this, but in keeping with the original challenge, this story is going to have B/X and C/X elements to it. I don't think I'll be adding Jenny into that mix too though. Buffy and Cordelia are more than handful enough. She will however be "closer" to Xander, just not in the same way.

Defender of the Night Part Five

***

Blissful sleep gave way to consciousness. Lungs filled slowly with air as they transformed. He sucked in air, his fists clenching with powerful cracking sounds. His eyes snapped open, glowing white and menacing. He seemed to close in on himself for a moment before suddenly exploding in a great stretching roar. Bits of shattered stone crumbled all around him, and Xander yawned as he woke.

"Morning," Cordelia said, smirking at him. She was sitting a few yards away, just far enough so his awakening wouldn't pelt her with bits of stone. He frowned.

"Morning," he replied. "What's up? Were you waiting for me?"

"I was just doing some homework and figured I could do it in here since it was almost sunset. How was your sleep?"

"Good," he said, truthfully. "At least I don't have to worry about tossing and turning anymore. Sun comes up and bam! Snooze city."

"I guess that's looking on the bright side," Cordelia said, closing her notebook and tossing it on Xander's desk before getting up. Xander stretched his arms and wings, grateful for the high ceilings of his new room as he came in from the balcony. He gave the soft red hues of the horizon one sad look before turning back to Cordelia.

"So how was school?" he asked. "Eviscerate anyone's psyche?"

"E-what-erate?"

"Make fun of anyone until they collapsed into a quivering mass of flesh?" he tried again.

"No, I was too busy thinking about that mess you left in the kitchen. What did you do, slaughter an entire cow in there?"

"I had a spaghetti sauce incident," he admitted sheepishly. He held up his large hands. "Lemme tell you: Jars? Way too easy to open now."

Cordelia laughed and rolled her eyes. "Well you could have at least cleaned it up."

"Sorry, it happened right before dawn. I only had time to clean up the glass."

She gave him a look that said she didn't quite believe him, but let the matter drop. "What are you doing tonight?"

He shrugged. "Not sure. Anything new with the Ford situation?"

"How should I know? I don't talk to Buffy."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Well then I don't know what I'm doing. A lot could have happened while I was sleeping." He sighed and looked at her. "Why? What's up?"

"Nothing. Just not doing anything tonight, figured I could stay up late."

"Not doing anything on a Friday night?"

"You'd be the expert on that, wouldn't you?" Cordelia snapped, glaring at him. "I don't have to go out every night. Sometimes I just want to stay in. Besides, I thought you'd be glad to have someone to hang out with."

"Right, sorry," he sighed. He still wasn't used to this new Cordelia that wasn't constantly trying to snark at him. "Well I guess I'm going to head to the library, see what's up. If there's nothing going on, maybe we could watch a video or something."

"Yeah, okay." She bit her lower lip and frowned. "Um, maybe I'll come with you."

Xander grinned. "Hey, that's not a bad idea. You want to?" He extended his wings and flapped them once. Cordelia's eyes went wide.

"You mean fly?"

"Yeah. Goliath did it all the time."

"What if you spaz out and drop me?"

"I won't," he promised.

"But what if you do."

"Cordy," he said, looking her in the eyes. "I won't. Really."

She pursed her lips. "It might be kind of fun."

Ten minutes later, were one to be out on the streets of Sunnydale after dark, one might hear the near hysterical shrieking of a teenaged girl. Of course, were one out on the streets of Sunnydale after dark, one wouldn't find such a thing to be out of the ordinary.

Except that this girl had her arms wrapped around the muscular neck of a huge blue monster with wings, and was about three hundred feet off the ground. That was something that even the most jaded Sunnydaler might find a little odd.

"Go down!" Cordelia shrieked. "Go down!"

Xander held Cordelia in his arms, even as she clutched his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. He shrugged and obliged her, swooping downward.

"Ahh! No! Go up! Go up!"

"Are you going to be screaming the whole time?" Xander asked her calmly as he swooped down low over a few office buildings before rising back to a cruising height.

"This is not fun!" Cordelia wailed, tightening her grip on his neck. Xander swallowed uncomfortably. He couldn't recall ever being so physically close to Cordelia in his entire life. Now she was holding onto him for dear life.

"It's not so bad," he said soothingly. "We're barely high at all right now."

Cordelia cracked open one eye, and looked up at his face, staring at him for a moment before glancing down. Then she groaned and squeezed them tightly shut, pressing her face into the crook of his neck. Xander adjusted his hold on her small (to him) body, and rolled his eyes.

"How is that not high?" she yelled.

"Cordy, you gotta calm down. You're totally fine. Nothing's going to happen."

"You've only been doing this for a few days. You don't know what you're doing! This was such a bad idea."

"You want me to land?" he asked. "I'll have to find someplace out of the way."

"Aren't we there yet?"

"Takes a few minutes."

She shook her head against him. "No. Just get to the library." She pressed up against him. "Don't let go," she whispered, mostly to herself.

He hugged her to him tighter and nodded, swooping down slightly to gain speed, and ignored her scream as he did so.

***

Buffy sat in the library, staring up at the ceiling, her feet propped up on the table, and thinking about what she was going to have to do tonight. Maybe she should get Xander to go with her.

She couldn't take Angel. Not after what he'd told her. About Drusilla. About investigating Ford behind her back, with Willow's help. Sure, maybe he was right about Ford, but did that give him the right to go snooping around? Xander could go with her. He was safe.

As if he'd been summoned, she heard the flapping sound of Xander's wings relaxing, and looked up to the stacks. Xander was forced to use the back entrance since his transformation. She frowned when he came into the light.

"You've got something on your neck," Buffy said casually.

Cordelia clung to him, eyes shut tightly closed and arms still locked around his neck. He supported her weight with his powerful arms, cradling her body.

"She kinda won't let go," Xander said, letting his wings drape around his shoulders, half-cloaking Cordelia too. She whimpered slightly. "Turns out Cordelia doesn't like heights."

"She flew with you?" Buffy asked, incredulous. A sharp pang of jealousy struck her, and for a moment all she wanted was to be cradled in those strong arms with Xander's wings cloaked around her. She shut her eyes, shaking her head slightly to banish the thought. Stupid noblewoman memories.

"More like she screamed her head off while I flew. So now I'm sporting a Cordelia pendant. How's it look?"

"It suits you," Buffy deadpanned.

Xander gave her a half-hearted grin and gently let go of Cordelia's legs. Her feet slipped down to the ground, and he bent slightly so she'd reach. Her grip on his neck didn't loosen.

"Cordy, come on. We're on the ground now."

Her eye peeked open, and she looked around wildly. "Are we really?"

"Yeah. They don't tend to have libraries in the clouds."

"How do I know this isn't a hallucination? Maybe I'm in a terror-induced insanity, and I just think I'm on the ground. Then I'll let go and fall to my death."

Xander shook his head. "That could never happen."

"How do you know?" she demanded, which felt odd considering her face was mere inches from his, and her arms were wrapped around his neck.

"Because if you went crazy and let go while we were flying, I'd still be holding you." He shrugged slightly. "And besides, if you did fall, I'd catch you."

Her other eye opened, and for a moment she stared at him, assessing him. He looked her in the eye, nodding slightly. She swallowed and looked down. Then she took a deep breath, and with a quiet shriek, let go of his neck.

As soon as she was assured that the ground was real, she dropped to the floor, hugging it. "I'm so taking a cab home."

Xander rolled his eyes and hopped over Cordelia's prone form, moving over to Buffy. "So, what's the WBUF nightly news?"

Buffy's mood lightened a bit at his goofiness, and she gave him a half-smile. "Things aren't going so good with Ford."

"What happened?"

She shrugged. "Angel and Willow kind of looked into him. He's been hanging out with all these vampire wannabes in some club downtown. He wants me to meet him here at nine, but I was thinking..."

"Thinking about going clubbing?"

She nodded. "Yeah. I-I thought maybe you could, um, you know, watch my back."

"What about Angel?" he asked. Then he shook his head. "I mean, yeah I'd love to help, Buff, but I'm kind of on the conspicuous side."

"I'm not asking Angel. I'm asking you. You could just stay on the rooftops and make sure there are no surprises."

Xander stroked his chin, and looked down at her. "Okay. You going to be okay here, Cordy?"

"I'm going home as soon as I can get up," she whined. "Then I'm spending the night on the couch, and I'm never flying ever again as long as I live."

***

Billy "Ford" Fordham was floating on air, despite the piercing pain in his head. His plan was coming together, one way or another. Buffy would likely be dropping in on him soon, thinking she was surprising him. Then he could lock her in the bomb shelter, and save her for his new Mistress.

He could hardly believe it was all going to be true. He'd actually found one of the Dark Ones, and had convinced her to bestow her gift upon him.

Stealing the book from the library had been too easy. All he'd had to do was wait until no one was around, and he plucked the ancient tome from beneath the counter. Drusilla's beautiful smile had been a joy to behold when he presented it to her. Then she'd gazed into his eyes, swaying back and forth, and he'd felt such wonderful peace...

Knowing he would be with his Mistress for all eternity, he had no trouble waiting a few more hours. This would be the bonus. Drusilla and her minions would grow strong on the blood they drank tonight, and Drusilla had even promised to keep the Slayer alive long enough for him to drink her blood upon his awakening. The power he might possess in just a few short hours overwhelmed him, as did the thought that he would finally be free from the deadly illness that would take his life in just a few months.

"Do you really think they'll bless us?" the blonde girl known as Chantarelle asked him for the hundredth time.

"Of course they will," he lied. "They'll bless all of us here, all but the Slayer. But we'll get strong from her blood, and we won't have to worry about her hunting the Lonely Ones."

"You swear?"

"It's gonna be fine," he said, the line he'd been repeating to her all night.

"No," a voice said, coming from the stairs. "It's really not."

Ford tried to hide his smile as he turned to Diego. "It's kind of drafty in here." It was the code-phrase that meant Diego should work his way up to the door and shut it while he distracted Buffy.

"I'm sorry, Ford. I just couldn't wait until tonight. I'm rash and impulsive. It's a flaw."

"We all have flaws," Ford intoned, reveling in his dialogue.

"I'm still a little fuzzy on what exactly yours is. I think it has something to do with being a lying scumbag," Buffy said, making her way down the stairs.

"Everybody lies."

"What do you want, Ford? What is this all about?"

"I really don't think you'd understand."

"I don't need to understand. I just need to know."

"I'm going to be one of them," he said sagely.

"You wanna be a vampire?" Buffy asked with distaste.

"I'm going to."

"You know, vampires are kind of picky about who they wanna cha-" her eyes went wide. "You're gonna offer them a trade!"

"I don't think I wanna talk anymore," Ford said, inwardly pleased with how well he was manipulating the situation. Buffy was playing right into his hands.

"Yeah, well I still feel awfully chatty," Buffy growled as she grabbed him by the throat. "You were gonna give them me. Tonight!"

"Yes."

She shook her head sadly. "You had to know I'd figure it out."

This was his moment. He had to make it sound cool. A slow smile spread across his face and he looked up at her, right into her eyes. "Actually, I was counting on it."

She shoved him back. "What's supposed to happen tonight?"

He couldn't contain himself anymore. "This is *so* cool. It's just like it played out in my head. You know that part where you ask me what's supposed to happen? It's already happening!"

Then the door slammed closed, and he smiled. The plan was inevitable now.

***

Xander was crouched atop a tall apartment building, his gargoyle eyes watching the street below and the entrance of the Sunset Club. He was getting nervous. Buffy had gone in there over an hour ago, and there was no sign of her yet. He was starting to think he should risk being seen by regular people and head inside.

This was Sunnydale, after all. Even a seven-foot tall blue monster with wings wouldn't really rock anyone's world. Still, if he could avoid it, he wanted to stay a fiction.

Buffy could handle herself, right? Just a bunch of vampire wannabes in there. Nothing to worry about. So why was she gone for so long? Wouldn't she have thought to send him some signal that everything was okay?

He surprised himself when he realized he was growling softly, and muttered wordlessly about his new instincts. His talon-like fingers pressed hard into the concrete as he stared down, and he had to take a care not to press so strongly that he crushed it in his grip.

Another fifteen minutes passed. He sighed, and made up his mind. He was going down.

That's when he spotted them.

***

Tattered red dress swirling around her, Drusilla hummed happily to herself as she waltzed down the street. Spike grinned lustfully at her as they danced, celebrating her special present from her new special boy.

Behind her were her new minions, many just recently turned. Spike had her very busy in the last few days, shoring up the numbers so she might be protected, and so her will might be done. Each had been enthralled before turned, and each was loyal beyond reckoning. They marched behind her as she giggled, spinning in Spike's unreal grip.

"After tonight you'll be so strong," he smiled at her. "Stronger than you could have ever been before, strong enough for when the other one comes. Two Slayers for my pretty little Dru."

She pouted at him coyly. "Will I taste the monster too?"

"Of course, my pet. You know you will."

Drusilla smiled broadly and turned to her minions. "You must mind your manners!" she scolded to them, and each watched her in silent supplication. "Mummy eats first, and babies wait their turn."

"Yes, Mummy," they intoned as one.

She hugged herself, cooing. "Ooh, and my special boy comes home for me. For Spike."

They made their way down the street, and sometimes Drusilla would sway with the singing of the stars, or the gentle weeping laughter of the moon. Spike would never tell her why the moon was so sad, but it always made her happy to hear its wails.

The door was right where her special boy had told her it would be. Two of her babies moved forward, lifting the heavy bar that held it shut, and swung it open. Drusilla stepped in first, and was greeted by a long haired blonde girl in a black dress. Drusilla smiled at her, reaching forward to cup her cheek.

"Hello, pretty," she said.

"Y-You're here," Chantarelle sighed. "You're really here."

"Shh," she stroked her cheek. "Mummy's here, baby. Mummy's here."

Then she hissed, her true vampiric face emerging and her eyes glowing yellow. She sank her fangs down into the girl and took a deep drink before lifting her head back up. The stunned girl swayed in her grasp.

"Time to eat, my children. Leave my special boy and the Slayer. The rest are to make you strong."

Vampire after vampire rushed into the room behind her, some leaping over the stairs to grab the club-goers. Some screamed and tried to fight them off, others gave themselves willingly to what they thought was eternal life. Drusilla smiled at the carnage as she watched lives slip away.

"Dru!" Spike suddenly shouted. She whipped her head to look at him, just in time to see the monster. Her glorious monster, the nightmare of her nightmares. He roared hideously, eyes burning with the fire she'd seen in her dreams, and he barreled towards her, tackling five of her minions along with her and sending them all flying over the railing.

She landed with a groan, but was on her feet in an instant. She was stronger since Spike's death, and stronger still since all the feedings she'd had. She scrambled away from the tangle of bodies as her beautiful monster grabbed one of her babies by the throat, slamming him into a wall.

"Xander!" Buffy called from across the room.

"Busy!" he roared back, backhanding a vampire away from him.

"Drusilla!" she called to him. "The one in the dress!"

"This way, luv!" Spike shouted over the din of the fighting. "Now's not the time!"

She hissed at the monster, but quickly made her retreat while he was busy fighting her minions. The Slayer was caught fighting several of them as well. This wasn't going the way Spike had told her, but she could at least get out alive.

But not without her special boy. She sprang up beside him, grabbing his throat and pressing against him. He gasped, but stared into her eyes without fear. She smiled and sniffed him. He was death, this boy. And death would bring her Spike back to her.

For a moment she just gazed at his eyes, enraptured by them. Then Spike's voice alerted her to the dangers once again, and she released the boy's throat, grabbing his collar and dragging him towards the door.

"Outside," Spike said, ushering her towards the door. "Lock them in."

"Ooh, that's delicious," she grinned at him.

"'Course it is, luv. It's your idea. Now hurry."

She gave one last look at the carnage below, grinned, and pulled Ford outside with her, slamming the specially designed door shut behind her.

***

For his first bit of vampire fighting since being Goliath-ized, Xander was pretty impressed with himself. He batted away vampires left and right, tearing into them with his talon-like fingers and sometimes even ripping their heads off. Goliath's fighting instincts aided him greatly, and he found himself moving like a pro. He used every advantage, including swiping at a vampire's legs with his tail, and extending his wings in a distracting gesture before leaping at another.

The chaos of the club was mostly centered around Buffy and himself. The humans all did their best to stay away from him, which was good, since the vampires had all decided to gang up on him, save for a few that went after Buffy. It meant that he had his hands full, but it also meant that no one was getting killed while he fought.

He let out that soul-shaking and paralyzing roar as he dove at another vamp, tussling with it for a moment before he heaved it off its feet and pushed it against a broken plank of wood that had once been part of the railing for the stairs. It dusted at once, and he turned his attention back to the others.

Four remaining vampires stood in a circle around him, all growling at him, fangs bared and eyes glowing yellow. He growled back, his was far more menacing, and his eyes glowed a brilliant white. Two of the vampires glanced at each other, their resolve faltering.

Goliath's memories told him to capitalize on that fear. Fear was how a gargoyle fought. Intimidation and shows of strength were just as important as actual fighting skill. So he roared again and sprang at the two who seemed unafraid, palming the first's face like it was a basketball, swinging its body around to crack against the second. As the momentum swung the body back around, his other hand snatched out, grabbing it by the legs. It screamed horribly as Xander twisted, popping its head off and dusting it. His glowing white eyes shone at the others through the haze of dust it left behind.

They turned to run, but there was nowhere left to go. They just presented him with easier targets. He leaped at one, landing on its back and driving it to the ground. People screamed as he reached out and broke off a plank of wood, slamming it into the vampire's chest, and then threw it against the supine form of the third.

His eyes snapped up to the final vampire, preparing to charge after it. It suddenly jerked, spinning as a stake caught it in the back. It blinked and exploded into dust. Xander looked over his shoulder and saw Buffy rising up from having thrown the stake with deadly accuracy.

"Nice throw," he rumbled with amusement.

"Nice fight," she said seriously. She came up behind him, and they were nearly eye level as he was crouched on the ground. She put her arm on his shoulder. "You okay?"

"I'm good," he said, although he was covered in tiny cuts. "You?"

"I'll live." She looked around at the rest of the people in the club. "Is everyone okay?"

"P-Please don't hurt us!" someone wailed.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "We just saved your lives."

Chantarelle rose shakily to her feet, a strip of her dress held over the bleeding punctures on her neck. "T-They were going to kill us."

"You catch on quick," Xander said, rising up to his full height. Several people gasped and huddled back. He glared at them.

"W-What are you?" she asked in a hushed tone.

"Tired," he growled. "And annoyed. If you people want to go commit suicide, why can't you jump off a bridge like normal people?"

"Oh my God," Diego suddenly exclaimed. "We're trapped in here!" He tugged on the door, but it wouldn't budge. "We're going to die!"

"You were going to die anyway," Buffy snapped.

"N-No, we were going to become the Lonely Ones."

"Didn't you hear her?" Chantarelle nearly screamed at him. "They were going to kill everyone but Ford and her."

Xander stepped up to her, and knelt down by her. She stared up at his face, but didn't back away. "That looks bad," he said, gesturing to her neck. "You're going to have to get a hospital."

"She can't!" Diego screamed hysterically. "We're trapped in here! You can't open the door from the outside, and it's three feet of reinforced concrete!"

Xander sighed, a grumbling growl of a sigh that caused several people to whimper. He rose to his feet and looked to Buffy. "Concrete, huh?"

"So they say," she grinned.

He smiled back at her and made his way up the stairs, causing people to scramble away from him. He walked up to Diego, and stared down at him. "You might want to get out of the way."

Diego nodded, shaking in fright, and gingerly moved around Xander and down the stairs. He stopped by Buffy. "W-What's he's going to do?"

"Save your life," Buffy said, glaring at him. "Again."

All eyes were on Xander as he curled his fingers into large fists, and stared at the door. Then he reared back, and roared as he punched it with all of his might. A heavy reverberating "Thoom" echoed through the club, and a huge dent appeared in the door. A few people screamed, and some gasped in astonishment. Xander punched again, causing another huge dent to appear. Then he took a deep breath, held his fist back for a brief second, and plunged it forward.

The door exploded off its hinges and out to the street, clattering loudly as it went. He flexed his fingers, checking his knuckles to make sure they weren't hurt.

"Come on," Buffy said, scooping up a particularly injured young man. "We need to get the wounded to the hospital." A few of the club goers helped her, but as soon as Xander stepped back down the stairs, many of them ran for their lives.

"Not exactly the most grateful of loonies," Xander remarked to Buffy as he approached.

"Hey, Xander?" she said, looking him in the eyes with a serious expression.

"Yeah?"

"Grateful girl here. As in majorly."

He grinned and gave her a quick wink, then turned back to Chantarelle. "How do you feel about heights?"

"H-Heights?" she asked, her face pale from blood loss. She swayed on her feet. Xander stepped forward and caught her just in time as she lost her balance and fell. She stared up at him with a dazed expression on her face.

"She's in bad shape," Buffy said. "How fast can you get to the hospital?"

"Fast," he said, adjusting his grip on the girl and standing straight. "You'll be okay?"

"Hey, Slayer here."

"Sorry," he said sheepishly. "Gargoyle instinct is to protect, you know."

"I think that's Xander instinct," she smiled, and then nodded her head at him. "Go. I'll see you later. And be careful."

He gave her one last grin, and then bounded up the stairs, the near-unconscious girl held in his arms. Once out on the street he leaped nearly ten feet to a fire escape, and from there jumped to a low roof. From the roof he jumped to a balcony, and from there to the top of the apartment building. He raced across it and jumped off, spreading his wings as he glided in the direction of the hospital.

***

"So then I turn around and I'm like, 'Hey dummies! You're going to die, not live forever!' or something like that, and then Ford hits me from behind in this total low-blow," Buffy said, grinning despite the tale of betrayal she was spinning. "So I go falling back down the stairs, and he gets me again before I can get up. Then I look up, and that skank Drusilla is there with like a whole army of Vampires."

"Indeed?" Giles said, frowning slightly.

"Shh," Jenny said, flapping her hand at Giles to get him to be quiet. "Don't interrupt.

"Yeah, so then she starts talking all crazy, but the gist is everyone's gonna die, and I'm like racking my brain trying to come up with a way to save all those people, you know?"

Jenny nodded, caught up in the story.

"Then like suddenly we hear this noise, like 'Graooar!', only I can't do it right, and Xander bursts in and tackles them all over the railing. It was awesome! The vampires all ignored the tasty morsels and started to go after him, but he's like tearing at them with those big hands and throwing them all over the room. So then Ford comes up behind me and tries to hit me with his crowbar, but I catch it and push him back against the wall and go rush over to help Xander.

"Long story short? We kicked their butts. It was great."

"That's wonderful, Buffy. I'm glad you had the foresight to have Xander go along with you."

"Absolutely," Buffy said, eyes wide as she nodded in agreement. "I'd be Drusilla-food otherwise."

"Well, we won't have to worry about her any longer," Giles said, smiling happily. Buffy gave him a sheepish look.

"Uh, well, we didn't actually, um. You know, kill her. Per se."

"She escaped?"

She nodded. "Yeah. With Ford. He's probably her happy little minion by now," she said, her expression turning dark. "I don't know how to feel, Giles. He was going to die anyway, it wasn't fair."

"Life rarely is," Giles sighed. "As I'm sure you or Xander could readily attest."

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, I guess we could."

Giles stood and moved over to her, giving her a paternal squeeze on the shoulder. "You did well tonight, Buffy. You were faced with a difficult situation, but you overcame it, due in large part to your foresight."

She stared down at her shoes. "Is it foresight when I ask Xander to come along because I'm mad at Angel?"

"Perhaps not, if you've learned from the experience."

"Oh yeah. I'm all 'knowing is half the battle' now. From now on, the Slayer has a blue guy with wings that hangs out with her."

Jenny smiled. "That's good. Xander'll be happy to hear that."

"Now then," Giles said a moment later. "About Drusilla. I'm a bit worried about her continued presence, Buffy."

"You mean aside from the fact that she's Angel's vampire baby and she's a total whack-job?"

"I'm afraid so. Do you recall the vampire that broke in here the other night?" She nodded, and he continued. "I just did an inventory, and it appears that it's missing."

"And you think Drusilla has something to do with it?"

"I do. It was a very ancient book concerning rituals of resurrection," he explained. "Specifically those related to vampires. Similar somewhat to the rituals attempted by the Order of Aurelius to revive the Master."

Buffy groaned. "You think she's going to try and bring back old fruit-face? Well tough rocks on her. I crushed his bones."

Giles shrugged, his head cocking to one side. "Possibly. Although it's more likely she'll be attempting to revive Spike, her long time companion."

"Which is a bad," Buffy sighed.

"Quite. Spike and Drusilla are legendary, despite their relatively young ages. They were both longtime associates of..."

"Angel," she sighed. "Yeah."

"Yes. As you're aware, Spike is responsible for the death of at least two Slayers that we're aware of, and the first of those was when he was quite young. There's no telling how powerful he might be upon resurrection."

"So what do we do?"

"W-Well luckily for us, resurrection spells are quite taxing, not to mention complicated. I suspect we'll notice many of the signs before it actually takes place, thus giving us a chance to stop it."

Buffy sighed and let herself fall into a chair. "Waiting game?"

"It seems so. We'll need to stay alert."

"Yeah. What else is new?"

***

Xander let his wings fall around his body as he landed on the balcony, and made his way inside. He'd left the injured girl in front of the hospital, then called and told them that someone needed help. Hopefully she'd be taken care of before any permanent damage occured. He wished he could have just carried her into the emergency room like a normal person.

Sighing, Xander scanned the room, and spotted Cordelia on the couch, sprawled out and watching...Gargoyles. He frowned as he saw a cartoon version of his new body fighting with the bearded and immortal Scotsman, Macbeth. He glanced back to Cordelia. She was dressed in a simple pair of sweatpants and an old t-shirt, and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He kind of liked the look. It was a rare privilege to see Cordelia Chase relaxing.

He cleared his throat, careful not to startle her. Her head poked up over the couch. "Oh, you're back. How'd it go?"

"Pretty good," he said, moving over to the arrangement of couches and recliners that surrounded the large screen television. Cordelia pulled her legs up under her, freeing a spot for him to sit. He carefully adjusted his tail and sat beside her, groaning slightly as he relaxed.

"You're kind of cut up," she remarked, noticing the many red lines that scarred his body. They'd stopped bleeding, and he didn't really notice them.

"Oh, yeah. Nothing serious though. We had kind of a brawl at the club with a bunch of vampires, but I think everyone's going to be fine."

"You think?"

"Well this one girl got bit, but I rushed her to the hospital in time, I think."

"Oh. That's good."

He nodded, and they were silent for a few minutes, watching the action on the screen.

"It's a pretty good show," Cordelia remarked when a commercial came on. She reached for the remote to fast forward.

"Yeah, I like it." He gestured at himself. "Obviously."

She grinned a little as the tape sped through the commercials. "I like Elisa. She's tough but she still maintains good hair."

Xander laughed, a low rumbling sound that was filled with mirth. "Yeah, I guess she does." He looked over to her. "So where'd you get the tape?"

"Oh jeez," she scoffed. "I had to practically fight Willow for them."

"Well, uh, thanks. I mean for watching them. It means a lot to me."

She afforded him a soft smile. "I just figured since I'm going to be living with your freaky self, I'd better know what I'm dealing with."

"Uh huh," he grinned knowingly. "Thanks all the same."

Cordelia swung her legs over the couch and sat up, stretching her arms. "You want something to eat? I'm going to make popcorn."

"I'll go with you," he said, while Cordelia paused the tape. "You feel like trying some spaghetti? I promise I won't turn the kitchen into a murder scene this time."

"Me? Eat something you made?"

"I make great spaghetti. I guarantee deliciousness followed by fat and happy television watching."

"All right," she said slowly. She shook a finger at him. "But I'm opening the jars."

Forty minutes later they were back in Xander's room, sitting on the couch and having a Gargoyles marathon while eating large helpings of Xander's spaghetti. Cordelia liked it so much that she ate almost as much as Xander did, which was quite an accomplishment.

"Oh," she groaned, holding her stomach and sinking against him. "I'm so full."

Xander's eyes went wide. Cordelia was pressed up against him, using his body as a very large pillow. She held her arms over her stomach and moaned softly while she stared at the television. Xander took a final bite of his spaghetti and carefully put the plate on the end table. Then, unsure of what to do with his arm, he let it settle on top of Cordelia, hoping she didn't object.

She didn't, and instead seemed to press against him tighter, sighing slightly. Xander relaxed and settled back against the couch, stretching his long and inhuman legs. His wings draped around Cordelia on one side, acting almost as a kind of blanket for her. She rubbed her feet together beneath them.

To Xander, it was perhaps the nicest thing Cordelia had ever done for him, he realized. Here she was, just hanging out with him and watching cartoons, despite him being a big blue monster. Cordelia was, whether consciously or unconsciously, showing him that she was comfortable with him. That it didn't matter what he might look like now. In fact, she was showing him that she would actually use what he saw as a curse as an excuse to make their relationship better. It was the first time he really thought that there was a lot more to Cordelia than met the eye.

Her head rested against his arm, her legs curled up beside her. Her hands held his forearm, almost as if he were a teddy bear.

It was a Friday night, and Cordelia Chase was staying in with him instead of going out with her friends, or on some date with a dumb jock. She was, he realized, being a friend to him. A friend who could call him a freak and not offend him. A friend who could tease him in good fun.

A friend that made him wish he was still human, because the feel of her body against his made him feel like maybe she wasn't just a friend after all.

"I'm sorry," she whispered sometime later. Xander glanced down to see her eyes closed. She was breathing deeply.

"For what?" he asked, his voice quiet and deep.

"I'm falling asleep."

"That's okay. It's late."

She sighed, moaning softly as she adjusted against him. "You're comfy."

He swallowed nervously.

"Okay," Cordelia said in a soft, whining voice, clearly half-asleep. "G'night."

"Good night," he said, grateful that his voice didn't squeak like it might have were he still human.

Then Cordelia fell asleep, holding him tightly and curled up beside him. For Xander, dawn might as well have come right then, because he sat still as stone for several hours, not daring to do anything that might spoil this brief streak of luck he seemed to have stumbled upon. For all he knew, this would be the closest he'd ever get to a girl for the rest of his life. He was determined to enjoy it while it lasted.
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