Willow stared in horror at Fritz. Fritz had been taken over by Moloch at the CRD and she had not known it then. She had seen the robot snap Fritz' neck like a twig. It was true that the lighting in the room had been dim and she even thought she could remember seeing a leer on his face just before he fell to the floor. And now, here she was, her arms held forcibly behind her by Kyle and Moloch/Fritz was standing before her, leering at her.
She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but evil there, glaring back at her.
"You have helped me destroy the only thing that could imprison me, my love," Moloch/Fritz said to her as he raised her head by her chin. "For that, I shall reward you."
Her eyes widened in fear. He-he's going to kill me! she thought desperately. She shook her head. "I-I don't wa-want a reward!"
Her comment was ignored. "As a robot, your reward would have been death." Moloch/Fritz smiled as he looked closely at Willow. "But in this human body I now possess...I shall be your reward."
Willow blinked as she tried to process what he was telling her. "Wh-what?" She hesitated, "I don't understand."
He took a handful of her hair and brought it to his nose, sniffing at her. "You...are a girl who has never been with a boy..." he looked into her eyes. "Isn't this true, my dear Willow?"
It suddenly dawned on her what this demon was threatening. She was terrified. She made a face, breathing through her nose. "I-I think I'm gonna be sick." She swallowed. "Ohh...I-I just threw up in my mouth..."
Moloch/Fritz looked at her, pretending to show concern. "Oh, my poor, precious Willow. We must make you comfortable. I shall have my royal subjects..." Suddenly, he stopped as he looked at something just behind Kyle.
Kyle had been holding Willow and grinning like an idiot throughout Moloch/Fritz' taunting of Willow. When he saw his Master's face suddenly change expression, he himself stopped grinning. He was trying to figure out what was wrong when a hand fell hard on his shoulder.
Kyle turned his head and looked at the hand on his shoulder. He followed the hand to an arm, and the arm led to a shoulder...and he found himself looking right at Xander. His eyes widened in surprise.
Xander glared at him. "I'm only going to say this once...Get your filthy hands off my girl." To emphasize this, he introduced his fist into Kyle's face.
Kyle released his grip on Willow and stumbled backward to the floor. Around the burning fire, Tor, Rhonda, and Heidi had stopped their dancing to see what was happening. They saw Xander and began to move away from the fire toward Xander, Willow, Kyle, and Moloch/Fritz.
Xander took Willow's hand and pulled her away from Moloch/Fritz. He looked at her closely. "Will, are you okay?"
Willow stared at him, surprise, joy, and anxiety playing across her face. "Xa-Xander...?" She put her hand on his chest as if she couldn't believe her eyes. "Xander...is that you?"
He glanced at the Pack and Moloch/Fritz, then grinned at Willow. "It's me, Will. It's Xander-Man come to your rescue!"
"But...how...?" she trailed off.
"How did I know?" He smiled at her. "I knew you were in trouble, Will. I just didn't want you to go through it alone." That night he had spotted the Pack near Willow's house, he had followed them and listened to their conversation. They had talked about the Book of Moloch and that Willow was going to bring it to them. They had talked about another person as well, but they never mentioned a name. But now Xander knew they had been referring to Moloch/Fritz.
"Aw," Moloch/Fritz replied as he tilted his head. "Well, isn't that nice. Xander-Man has come to rescue the damsel in distress." He laughed as the Pack began to spread out around Xander and Willow. "That is all very nice, Xander-Man, but in case you didn't know it, the dog gone girl is mine!"
"Not gonna happen, sulfur-breath," Xander replied coolly. "Willow does not belong to you. She's mine. The truth is, Willow has always been mine..." He turned his head to look into her eyes. "And you always will be."
Willow felt her face getting warm. "Xander...I know we're in a dangerous spot right now...bu-but you're making me tingly all over."
"Enough!" Moloch/Fritz shouted angrily. His eyes had an angry yellow to them. He pointed at Xander. "You are a fool to think that you can just waltz right in here and back out again with your 'girlfriend'! Neither one of you is going anywhere. You, Xander-Man, will die, and you, Willow, will be mine and mine alone!" He stood up tall and proud and even tapped on his chest. "I am free, Xander-Man! Your girlfriend has given me the Book and we burned it. You stupid little fool! There is nothing you can do to stop me. You have no power."
Xander held up his hands as Willow stared in surprise. "Okay, you got me, Spawn of Satan!" He pretended to cringe. "I can't beat you. I am fairly certain that I could single handedly take on the Pack right now, but you...Oh, no. Too tough for me..." He shrugged. "You know what, I'll just leave you for someone who will have a better chance at taking you down than I will." He pointed to Moloch/Fritz' left. "Like him."
Moloch/Fritz laughed. "You stupid human fool! You expect me to fall for that?"
A hand landed on his shoulder. In surprise, Moloch/Fritz turned his head.
Angel smiled at him. "Actually, it sounded reasonable to me."
Moloch/Fritz snarled. "You are just as much of a fool as--"
Angel suddenly put on his game face and grinned. The vampire face glared at the demon. "You're the fool, Moloch. You threatened my friends, and that makes me very angry." He grabbed the demon and tossed him into the air. Moloch/Fritz crashed hard onto the floor next to the altar. By the time he managed to get back to his feet, Angel had leaped onto him, knocking him back to the floor.
"Showoff!" Xander exclaimed.
"Xander, look out!!" Willow shouted.
Xander turned and a fist sailed into his face. Kyle swung at him again, but Xander managed to stay on his feet and he blocked his attack. Xander struck with a right of his own and something on Kyle's face snapped with a loud crack.
"Ahhhhhhhhh!" Kyle screamed. "My dose! You broke my--Ummmph!!"
Xander rammed his knee hard in the lower regions and Kyle, groaning, fell to the floor.
Willow grabbed Xander's arm and guided him back as the Pack surrounded their fallen comrade. There were sounds of someone approaching and they decided that they didn't want to be around.
Tor pointed at Xander. "This isn't over!" he exclaimed. "You'll pay, and so will your girlfriend!" Rhonda and Heidi helped Kyle to his feet and Tor lead them out of there.
Willow glanced nervously at the fight between Angel and Moloch/Fritz and then she looked at Xander. "Angel can't beat him, Xander," she said with concern. "Moloch is to-too strong. We have to do something!"
Xander nodded. "We will...Just wait."
Moloch/Fritz grabbed Angel by the throat and hauled him off his feet. He slammed him down onto the altar and put his hand over the vampire's heart. He fully intended to rip Angels heart out with his own hand, and Angel knew the demon could do it. Angel wasn't too certain if that would actually kill him because it wasn't like getting a stake through the heart, but he never heard of a vampire walking around without a heart either and so he hoped he wouldn't have to find out what would become of him. He struggled hard to keep Moloch/Fritz' hand from digging into his flesh, but the pain was excruciating.
That's when a pair of black women's boots slammed into Moloch/Fritz' face and sent the demon falling away again. Recovering as a hand helped to steady him, Angel found himself looking into Buffy's eyes.
"Do you always time it right down to the last minute?" he asked her. "'Cause I gotta tell you, that's a little annoying."
She shrugged playfully. "A girl likes to see her man hard at work."
He smiled. "Does that mean I'm your man?"
She blushed. "Uh...Well, I--"
"Would the both of you mind terribly if you would keep fo-focused on the task at hand?" Giles asked as he strode past them with Jenny Calendar at his side. In his hands, he gripped a book. The Book of Moloch. "Keep him busy while we prepare."
Buffy nodded her head and turned to Moloch/Fritz, her hands on her hips. Angel was at her side, and together, they began to keep Moloch/Fritz quite busy.
"Giles?" Willow stared in surprise. "M-Ms Calendar?" She looked at Xander. "Wh-what's going on, Xander? Does everyone know that--?"
"Everyone knows, Will," Xander assured her. "Trust me. You were never alone on this."
"If you found out we knew what you were up to," Jenny told her as she began to pour out colored sand onto the floor from a jar she had brought, "then they could have found out." She made a circle on the floor.
"What are you doing?" Willow asked.
"I'm forming the Circle of Kayless."
"But...but the book! They burned it." She looked at Giles, fearing that he would hate her. "I gave them the book..."
Giles handed her the book. "You gave them the Encyclopedia Of Idiotic Quotes From The Ancient Past, Willow. A-a rather large book...useless book, that Xander switched...But I guess it served its purpose." He looked over to the fight and saw that Moloch/Fritz had thrown Buffy at Angel as if she were nothing, but then Angel and Buffy turned around and hit the demon back simultaneously. "We haven't much time. Everyone stand on the circle."
Xander stood on the circle and was soon joined by Willow, Giles, and Jenny. Willow had the book open and she was looking at a piece of paper that had been stuck into the pages. She looked fearfully at the librarian. "Why...why did you give me the book, Giles?"
Giles looked at her. "Willow, we did the first one all wrong. You were the one who released Moloch from the book. Therefore, it is you who must put him back into it. Just read what that says...and keep reading it! Loudly!"
Willow tried to swallow but her mouth was dry. She looked at the words.
Moloch/Fritz has his hands around Buffy's throat and he was squeezing tightly. Buffy couldn't even gasp for breath. Angel pounded both fists into the demons head but to no avail. He would not loosen his grip.
"'By the power of the divine, by the essence of the word, I command you...'" Willow began to read.
Moloch/Fritz spun his head around in horror. "Noo..."
Willow raised her voice. "'By the power of the Circle of Kayless, I command you. Demon, come!'"
"Noooooo!" Moloch/Fritz backed away from Buffy and Angel. As Angel grabbed Buffy to steady her, he saw a white cloud begin to swirl around Moloch/Fritz.
Suddenly, Fritz' body collapsed, but there was a dark form floating there and it seemed to be merging with the whirlwind.
"'I command you!'" Willow shouted. "'Come! Come, demon! Come!'"
The whirlwind shot right up into the air, and then it sailed right into the book. But it happened with such force that Willow dropped the book and was thrown to the floor.
Xander rushed to her to help her up as Giles picked up the book. Jenny was at his side as he slowly opened the book. When he saw the foreign words written on its pages, he sighed a heavy sigh of relief.
Then, he closed the book and slowly turned so that he could aim a stern look at Willow. Xander helped Willow to her feet, but she felt weak. Especially at Giles stern look. Willow looked at Jenny, but Ms Calendar was also looking at her sternly. When Buffy and Angel approached, she saw to her dismay that they too had the same stern looks.
She didn't want to look, but she had to. She turned her head and looked at Xander.
He, too, had the stern look. She didn't know why he could wink at her just as he did when he looked so sternly at her. "I," she began, but stopped. She tried again. "Please...I--"
"No talking, young lady," Giles interrupted her with a wagging finger. "You have caused us all a great de-deal of worry for your safety, Willow."
Buffy nodded once. "You've avoided your friends."
"You didn't ask for our help," Xander added.
Giles frowned. "You broke into my house."
Willow opened her mouth, but she closed it abruptly. What could she possibly say? The accusations were true.
"This kind of behavior cannot be ignored," Jenny replied sternly.
Angel nodded solemnly. "We've all come to an agreement, Willow. You have to be punished."
Willow stared in astonishment. "Pu-punished?"
Xander nodded his head. "That's right, Will. Punished."
She slowly moved closer to him. "Xander...?" she said softly. "Uhm...Will it hurt?"
He tried very hard to keep a straight face. "Oh, I don't know." He turned his head. "Buffy?"
Buffy put her hands on her hips and regarded Willow. "You are about to be punished, Willow Rosenberg. I feel I must tell you that this form of punishment has a name."
They all surrounded Willow then. Buffy, Giles, Jenny, Xander and Angel all formed a circle around her. Even though they still looked at her sternly, she felt perfectly safe with them...even if she didn't know what they were up to.
"This form of punishment," Giles began," is called...the Group Hug."
They all broke into smiles as they put their arms around Willow and hugged her as a group. Willow was happy but she began to cry anyway and she began to tell them all how sorry she was. She promised she would never do that again. "Giles, I'm so sorry about your window. I--"
Giles shushed her. "It's all right, Willow. It...it's only a window, but you are...Well, you are who you are and you are far more important than a window."
"You're not mad at me?"
"No. I'm glad that you're okay." He wiped at his glasses as he tried not to let any emotion blur his vision. "You had us worried. I-I want you to know that we'll always be here for you. I...I will be here for you whenever you need me."
Willow hugged him.
_______ _______ _______ _______ _______
Xander walked Willow home.
They were both silent for the most part as they walked home, each completely content just to be with each other. They had started out walking side by side, then a little closer, and by the time they arrived at Willow's doorstep, she had somehow found her hand in Xander's.
They stood there for a moment and looked at each other.
"Xander, was I dreaming?" Willow asked.
Xander smiled at her. "Which part?"
"Well...the part with you in it. You know, when you said stuff like 'Get your filthy hands off my girl,' and 'Willow doesn't belong to you. She's mine.'" She tilted her head. "Those parts." She looked into his eyes as if searching him out. "Was all of that just a dream? Am I dreaming now?" She looked at her hand in his. "'Cause we've never done this before."
Xander took a deep breath. "Will, it wasn't a dream."
She hesitated. "Am I really your girl, Xander?" She paused. "I mean, your girl...not just your best friend..." She held her breath, afraid that the dream would end and she would wake up on the floor where she had fallen asleep before.
Xander looked into her eyes. "Do you want to be my girl?"
"You know I do, Xander," she said, without hesitation. "Just like I want you to be mine."
They looked at each other. The night breeze moved across them. Time seemed to stand still. At that moment, there wasn't anything that existed except for them selves. They were lost in each other.
"Then be my girl, Willow," Xander said softly. "From this night and on, belong to no one but me. And I will be yours...forever."
"Forever..." A tear moved down Willow's cheek.
Xander touched it with his finger. Then he moved closer and his lips brushed against Willow's. She closed her eyes.
She stumbled and Xander caught her.
Looking at her with concern, he said, "Hey, are you okay?"
She nodded. "Yo-you didn't believe me when I said you make me tingly, did you? Well, maybe next time you'll listen, mister."
Xander smiled at her. Then he laughed. He helped her into her house and they watched movies, ate ice cream, and fell asleep on the sofa.
_______ _______ _______ _______ _______
Tor was angry. Tor, Rhonda, and Heidi had brought Kyle home and they all let the anger build. Kyle, however, was the only one who kept a level head. "Don't let this get to you," he told the Pack. "We will get them the next time."
Tor glared at him. "When?" he snapped. "What next time are you talking about?"
"And how?" Rhonda wanted to know. "I want Willow to pay!"
"Xander, too!" Heidi declared.
But Kyle firmly shook his head. "No."
The others looked at him.
Kyle leaned forward to regard them. "The time will come...We will have Xander with us again...as a part of the Pack. And as for Willow?" He smiled. "Willow will become his initiation."
The others smiled at each other. Then they began to laugh, and soon, their laughter sounded like that of laughing hyenas.
_______ _______ _______ _______ _______