Chapter Twenty-Five - Relinquished
"Look Giles - " he tried to interrupt.
"No. You look," the Watcher demanded in an authoritative tone, "Every minute we waste, Buffy will continue to fall into the depths of grievous danger and those are deeper waters I wish not to tread. I know you are angry with her for hurting you, but I also know that you love her, Xander, and would do anything for her. That is why I am asking you to come…to come and help us…to come and help her."
Xander thought of everything that had occurred in these past weeks and as angry as he was, as hurt as he was, he had to admit that what Giles said rang true. No matter what he was feeling at the moment, he couldn't deny that he still loved her, even more than he ever did before.
With a sigh, he said, "Okay, Giles, count me there tomorrow."
"Well?" Cordelia said when he hung up the phone, "Is he coming tomorrow?"
"He's coming," he replied with a satisfied grin.
Cordy gave him a Look, "So, what? You want an Emmy, now?"
Before Giles could respond, Amy walked through the library doors carrying a load of books, "Uh…a little help here?"
"Oh, here," Oz said grabbing a stack of books and Giles taking the other half.
"Thanks," she replied, "So…why did you guys want me to bring all of these books from my mom's 'collection?'"
"We're going to need your help, Amy," Giles said, "We've done magic before, but we all lack in the capacity that we *are* magic, and if we do this counter spell, we must have someone that has some of that here."
Amy looked at them, "I thought you told me to turn in my magic apron?"
"Yes, but this is a matter of urgency. W-we're up against the Sorcerer, which we found out…Willow?"
The redhead turned to her computer printout and read, "The Sorcerer, a 17th century vampire with potent magical powers who ran rampant in the cities of Europe for 50 years. He was consequently trapped by his former colleagues, of wizards and witches, in a magical box that was later tossed into the sea. In time, it is warned, that the Sorcerer, weakened by their magic, will regain enough strength to free himself and roam the countries one more."
"Hold on, I'm only a beginner…I can't deal with this guy!" insisted Amy with wide eyes, "How am I suppose to - "
"At the moment, we are not dealing with him particularly and I would never ask you to go up against him, for now, we are attempting to handle his spell - " Giles tried to explain.
Cordelia turned to Amy and explained, "This Sorcerer guy put the love whammy on Buffy to think that she loves Angel."
"Who's Angel…and what's it with you guys and love spells?"
"Second reference, I would kindly like to have some perception in this supposed fact that we are cursed with love spells?"
"Uh…sorry guys," apologized Amy as she sank back into her chair.
"Giles, Cordelia paid Amy to do this love spell on Xander and it didn't work," explained Willow.
"But we fixed it," Cordy interjected, "Does that give us any consideration points?"
"It most certainly does not," Giles replied in more disappointment than anger, "I have told you all never to mess with magic for personal foolery. The consequences can be extremely difficult to reverse, b-but let's not divulge ourselves into this now, we've got work to do."
"But I still don't understand what exactly going on."
"Willow will fill you in on the specifics, while the rest of us get to work," the Watcher said and she stood up from the computer and sat down beside Amy.
"I guess the best way to start this would be to tell you that Buffy's a slayer and there's one in every generation…well…*was* one in every generation…"
Amy leaned back against her chair with a heavy book on her lap and looked up at all those who were around her. Hearing Willow's explanation - and everyone else's in-between - she could now make sense out of this group that hung out at the library, not that the sense she gained was all that comforting. Vampires, magical vampires, crazy vampires, demons, werewolves…and she couldn't help but feel that this made her witch status not so much of a status anymore…more like a norm.
With a sigh, she turned the page of the book and scanned the pages carefully until she reached to the last spell and her eyes widened as she read the spell over quickly and she sat up and said, "This is it…this is it…I found it…"
Giles walked over to her and glanced at the spell she was pointing to and closed the book in his hand and looked closer, "Indeed, you did."
"Oh, thank God," Cordelia said as she closed the book in front of her.
"Ditto," Willow said tiredly, as she placed her book on top of the many stacked on the table, "So, what's the plan?"
"Well, we're going to need…"
"You think he's gonna go for it?" Oz said hesitantly.
"Gonna go for what?" Xander asked when he entered the library, all the while, feeling odd to be in the familiar setting.
"Gonna go for our plan," said Cordy.
"And that plan is…" he prompted as he felt the oddity increase when he saw that Cordelia and Amy were there.
Giles finished, "That while we initiate the spell, you distract Buffy."
At that moment, Xander's oddity was replaced by absolute incredulity, "Whoa…whoa…you did not say that this was going to require me actually having to talk to her."
"And I didn't say that you weren't going to, either, but you said you'd help, and you are the only one who has a viable enough of a situation at the moment to - "
"Viable enough of a situation? What…am I going to just call her up and say, 'Hi, Buff, I'm suppose to distract you while the gang does a spell, want to talk about our break-up?"
Cordelia scoffed, "I almost forgot how big of dunce you are - actually, no I haven't - but, hello! You call her up, tell her you wanna get all buddy-buddy with her again because you miss that thing you guys called a friendship."
"T-thank you, Cordelia for your reiteration of…um…our plan," stammered Giles as he turned to Xander, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but do exactly as she says."
He gave the Watcher a look, "You can't believe you're saying it? I can't believe your saying it! How is this going to help?"
"Part of this spell is made so that she goes away from the person nearest to her, so that she can be alone, in which the spell will continue to regenerate. If you distract her, insist that she stays near you, and she is strong enough to fight the urge to leave…fight the pain…"
Giles' voice faded from his mind as he thought about Buffy and what he had told her not too long ago…
…"Xander…what are you - " she began as her eyes looked at him worriedly.
He smiled and the expression faded with each of his words, "But there's a stronger part of me still that will do anything to make you happy, anything to see you smile. I understand Buffy, and even if I didn't…I'll still stand by you…"
…He had given her that promise and he was very sure that he still felt that way and so with a sigh, before Giles could finish his explanation he replied, "Okay, I'll do it…I'll distract her."
The Watcher stopped mid-sentence in surprise and realized that whatever he had said and whatever he was going to say wasn't really going to matter to Xander, but rather it was what Xander realized himself that would make the difference. Nodding, he smiled, "Good to hear."
Slowly, Xander ascended the steps of the porch, feeling his heart beat rapidly in his chest, and he wondered if he had done the better thing on opting to go to her house as oppose to calling her. Realizing it was just a little too late for such contemplation, he took a deep breath before he rang the Summers' doorbell.
"Xander, it's nice to see you again," Mrs. Summers greeted him with a kind smile.
"Same here," he replied, "Um…I was wondering if I could talk to Buffy?"
Her face altered to a rather strained grin on a sympathetic expression, "Come in…I'll-"
"Xander," Buffy said as she descended the stairs rapidly and stopped mid-way in surprise of his presence, "Hey."
"Buffy," he said simply.
"I have something in the oven…" Mrs. Summers quickly excused herself and walked to the kitchen.
"I…um…was wondering if you'd like to take a walk…so that we can maybe talk?" he asked uneasily.
She nodded, "Yeah…sure," and grabbing her jacket, she called to her mother, "Mom…I'm going to go with Xander for awhile."
"Go ahead, dear…be back by - never mind, have fun," she replied when she came out of the kitchen.
Xander knew that this situation was variety of things, but it was definitely not going to be about fun, and he had a feeling Buffy could agree with that.
The fire beneath the cauldron flickered and glowed in its orange-red hue as Giles placed all of the necessary ingredients in it.
"Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite…those of which represent the old realm of love…I speak to thee," began Amy.
"So, what did you want to talk about?" she asked as they walked down the sidewalk.
Xander said, "Buffy, I miss you, and that friendship we used to have and I know that we can't possibly get that back, but I'd like us to start anew…be friends again. Do you think we can do that?"
"Yeah…I think we can…"
"Take from the hexed one they call the Slayer…take from her the spell of the Sorcerer…be rid her of the darkness of your power…"
"Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite…we beckon you," Giles said loudly, "Lift away this tainted use of your power…"
Buffy froze suddenly and felt her head pounding and Xander felt a grip on his arm so tight that he felt his bone was going to break, "Buffy…are you all right?"
"I - I have to go…I just remembered…" she tried as she turned to walk back to her house."
"Free her from his bondage spell of love unsound…free her from your grasp…relinquish her heart and mind to a power she can call her own…I ask thee…I seek thee…make her free…"
"No, Buffy, wait," he said taking a hold of her arm, "I wanted to tell you something before you go."
"Okay…make it quick," she said as her head continued to grow tighter with every passing second.
"I…uh…" Xander tried to think and he finally blurted, "Wanted to tell you what I decided to try as a career…y'know, just in case that abundant field of corrections doesn't work out."
"Oh, really?" she said trying her hardest to sound interested, "And what's that?"
"Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite…hear our cries and answer…release her!"
A white cloud lifted from her body and immediately the pain withdrew it's potency and she collapsed into Xander's arms breathing heavily.
He held her close as memories of the occurrences of the weeks prior filled her mind and realization of her actions seized her and he felt her hot tears wet his T-shirt and the muffled whisper, "Oh my God, what I have done?"