Disclaimer: I own none of these characters.

A/N: I can't say I stand by this interpretation, but I thought it was pretty interesting when my friend told me her perspective on the episode.

Title by MaireAilbhe. Thanks, Maire!

Xander's pretty lost at this point.

It tends to happen. Sooner or later, if not during one of their major demon-of-the-week research parties then later on in the actual fighting, Xander ends up getting pushed a little out of the loop.

Right now, he's only really sure of two things about their current situation.

First, that they seriously, seriously messed up a few weeks ago, and, second, that Spike just saved Buffy's life when it should have been one of them. So they messed up twice.

Also, Dawn is about to get sold off into marriage, somehow?

"I don't make the rules," says Snazzy-Suit-Evil-Monster-Guy. "She summoned me."

Which, whoa, holy plot twist, Batman.

But it wouldn't be the first time Dawn's gone into something that's over her head, as for example the thankfully failed resurrection of Mrs Summers. And it also wouldn't be the first time one of the Scoobies used magic they shouldn't be messing with. Magic tends to lead to things of bad and general unnaturalness. Like Spike and Buffy kissing? Way, way, of the not natural.

"I didn't summon anything."

The demon looks over at the rest of them. "Well, now," those creepy blue eyes scan over the group, "that's a twist."

And Giles says, "If it was in the shop… then one of us probably…"

One of them? But Dawn's one of them anyway, so it's still all the same. One of them messed up again, and maybe this time it was Dawn, but they've already messed up so much he's not sure it even matters.

And Buffy's beside Spike because he was the only one who could save her after what they did to her and now she's sad and Xander's sure that right now she'd jump again if she just had a portal.

And she'd leave them and Dawn, who might have screwed up big time but shouldn't be taken away from Buffy again because as much as Xander missed his friend, as much as he loves Buffy, as selfish as he is a lot of the time, he knows Dawn needed her more than he ever did.

Xander raises his hand.