"It's open!" Buffy yelled from her desk.

There was a pause, followed by a thud, another pause, then two more quick thuds.

Buffy sighed, then got up and opened the door.

"What do -" she said, before she burst out laughing.

Xander grinned. 'I love that laugh,' he thought.

"Come in," Buffy said once she had calmed down.

Xander waddled into the room on his knees.

"You can stand up," Buffy said.

"No, I can't. I am under strict orders to stay on my knees until you have accepted my gifts," he said, holding out the flowers and chocolate.

Buffy laughed again and took the box and bouquet. "There. Now stand."

"Not yet," he said, as he reached behind himself and untied the balloons from his belt. These, too, he held out to Buffy.

She set the chocolate down on her bed and took the balloons from him. "Thank you," she said.

Xander nodded and slowly stood up, groaning as he did so.

"It can't be that bad," Buffy said. "You weren't outside the door for that long."

"No," he said. "But I was afraid you'd leave the room and see me, so I walked on my knees from the end of the corridor."

This brought more laughter. "I guess that would do it," Buffy said.

Xander nodded and sat on Willow's bed.

"So," he said.

"Yeah. . ."

"Listen, Buffy, I swear to God I never wanted to hurt you."

"I know."

"I am so in love with you it scares me sometimes, and I'd do anything I could to stop you from hurting. But you deserved to know the truth, even if it did hurt you. And I'm sorry."

"You don't have bruises," she said.

"I healed over night. I looked like crap last night, but Cordy's got a very comfortable bed. And how did you know about that?"

"Angel called me this morning."

"Oh."

"You slept in her bed?"

"Yeah. She forced me to. So did Dennis. Cordy slept on her couch."

"Dennis?"

"Her roommate and resident ghost."

"So, you didn't sleep with her?"

"What? Buffy, no! Cordy and I are just friends, and just recently back to that. I mean, we talked last night, and on the drive over here, and I think we're okay now, but Buffy, I would never do that."

Buffy sighed. "I know. I'm sorry, I just. . . I mean, you were wigged, and then you said. . . and you were upset, and I thought. . . I mean, Angel said not to worry. . ."

"Why did he call?"

"To talk. About you."

"Oh," he said, sadly.

"He took your side. Said you did the right thing."

"Oh," he said, surprised.

"And he's right. You did."

"That doesn't make up for the fact that I lied to you."

"No. But I understand."

"I wouldn't do it again."

"Even if it meant the world?"

"That's not what I meant. I meant that now. . . I. . . you would do what needed to be done."

"You think I could kill you?"

Xander sighed. "Yeah. I do. If it got to the point where I was killing people, and threatening the existence of the world, I believe you could kill me."

"I don't know, Xan. . . killing Angel. . . sending him to hell. . . was the hardest thing I ever had to do. And he wasn't my soul mate."

Upon hearing that, Xander suddenly felt better about his chances of her taking him back.

"You could do it, Buffy. You're strong enough to do anything you want and why am I trying to convince you to kill me?"

Buffy gave him a weak smile.

"Okay," he said. "Well."

"Yes?"

Xander inhaled. "Buffy, I love you. I know I hurt you, and I feel like shit about it. I know I don't deserve a second chance, but I'm here asking. . . begging you to take me back, because I feel wrong when I'm not with you."

Buffy shook her head, and Xander's heart fell.

"I thought about the things that Angel said, when he called. About what we've done over the years. And you're wrong, Xander. You do deserve another chance. After all you've done, you're more deserving of chances than I am."

"Buffy, no -"

"Shut up for a minute. Xander, I've treated you horribly over the years. I called you 'one of the girls.' I turned you down for Spring Fling, which you repaid by bringing me back to life. I sexy-danced you to make Angel jealous, and I constantly made fun of you for dating Cordy, who truthfully doesn't deserve that, because she is a good person, even if you sometimes have to dig a little deeper to see it. And then there was that whole 'pushing you away' thing we did last year. Xander, with only one exception, you have been nothing but good to me, and I've treated you like crap. If anybody should be asking for forgiveness here, it's me."

"But, you were just -"

"No. Don't rationalize for me. I was horrible to you. Can you forgive me?"

Xander sat there, stunned. "I. . . yeah. . ." he said. "Of course."

Buffy took his hands and leaned down in front of him. "Do you have any idea how much I love you? How much I need you? And what the hell made you think we broke up!?"

"I. . . I, what?"

"Xander! We had a. . . I don't know. We had a bad night. So what? We work through it, that's what couples do!"

"I. . . but, you told me to leave."

"Yeah, but I didn't mean leave town! And I seem to remember saying something about not wanting you to lose me?"

"Yeah, well. . . but. . ."

"But nothing. If I ever really break up with you, trust me, you'll know it. So stop being so insecure, damn it, or I'm going to have to hurt you!"

Xander smiled. "As you wish."

"Good. Now kiss me."

And he did.

* * * * *

"So what else happened last night?" Buffy asked, as she and Xander lay in her bed after a heavy make out session.

"Before or after Angel beat my face?"

"After. And after Cordy gave him a talking to."

"Oh. Nothing. Me and Cordy went back to her place and crashed."

"Oh. And today?"

"We woke up, had breakfast served by a ghost, and went back to Angel's to pick up Oz's van."

"He apologized, by the way."

"For what? I deserved the beating he put on me."

"Not for that. For the other night, when he was. . . well, kinda psycho. He said he just got wigged, and went kinda 'jealous ex-boyfriendy' and was out of his head. And that it won't happen again, and you two won't have any problems from his side as long as you're not in the same room and constantly annoying each other."

Xander chuckled. "Yeah. I guess that'll work. I'm glad he apologized to you."

"Me too."

"You know, we really should head over to Giles's. Cordy's alone there, and she's the one who forced me to come up here. I was going to wuss out and wait a few days."

"Mmm. . . I guess, yeah. And I can thank her for tending your wounds, and then glare at her for keeping you in her bed."

"Buffy. . ."

"I'm only kidding, Xander."

"Good. So, shall we?"

"Let's."

* * * * *

"So, I don't get why you're doing this," Cordelia said.

"Well, we are of the opinion that one can never have too much back up," Giles said. "Also, it's the right thing to do. Everyone deserves a second chance."

"But Faith's a psycho."

"Yes, we understand that line of thinking, but we also believe that we can help her overcome her past."

"Her past? You mean you guys think you can get help her not murder people in cold blood anymore?"

"Um. . . yes. And if we can't help her change, then Buffy and Xander together can certainly take her down."

"Hmm. Well, I suppose you're right. So when are you gonna try to wake her up?"

"Tonight, after Xander. . . well, we were going to do it after he got off of work, but I suppose it will be after he and Buffy work things out. Thank you for helping him, with that, by the way."

"Well, he would have done the same for any of us," she explained.

"Yes, that is true. But with your history. . ."

"So over it," Cordelia said. "We had our time, and it occasionally hurts, if I think about it. Xander kind of grows on you, you know? But we've both moved on."

"That is good to hear."

"Hey, Giles!" Willow said, walking into the apartment in front of Oz. "Cordy! Hi! What are you doing here?"

"I drove Xander back today, after Angel beat up on him."

"What?"

Cordelia explained to the pair the events of the previous night and that day.

"Balloons?" Willow asked.

"Yeah. So I guess that's where they are now. Working things out," Cordelia said.

"Well, you did a good thing. They need to be together," Willow said.

"I know. They love each other."

"Well, yeah, that. But also, if they're not, world go bye-bye."

"What?"

Willow explained to her about the prophecy.

"Wow, they really do need to be together," Cordelia said. She chuckled. "'Tis a far better thing I do. . .'"

Giles looked at her, surprised.

"What?" she asked. "I read."

"No, I know. This group just doesn't usually throw out literary references. It's nice to hear someone with culture."

Willow glared at him as Oz chuckled. Willow stuck her tongue out.

The door opened again and Xander and Buffy walked in laughing and holding hands.

"Well," Giles said. "I would say your mission was in fact accomplished, Cordelia. Well done."

"Of course it was," she said. "Was there ever any doubt?"

"Hey guys," Xander said, sitting down at the table.

Buffy walked up to Cordelia. "Thank you," she said. "For taking care of him."

"All in a day's work," she said, smiling.

Buffy sat next to Xander, entwining her fingers in his as Cordelia grabbed a chair and sat offset from the couch.

"Weird," Oz said.

"What's weird?" Xander asked.

Oz held waved his hands in front of him from his spot on the couch. "It's like there's a whole new energy to the room. Usually, it's the five of us. Me and Will on the couch, you guys over there and Giles sort of wandering. Cordy here is acting as a sort of. . . metaphysical counterweight that's really throwing off my perceptions of spatial relations in the area."

There was a long pause, where everybody tried to figure out what the hell Oz had just said.

"Does. . . that actually mean anything, Oz? In English, I mean?" Buffy asked.

Oz nodded, looking thoughtful. "I'm not used to having six people here."

Everybody's eyes lit up in understanding.

"Well," said Xander, "it'll be good practice for when we wake Faith up. She'll be here, too, you know."

Oz nodded. "Good thought."

"So, what's our plan of attack?"

"Well," Giles said, "I imagine we just. . . go visit Faith, Xander does his. . . aura of healing thing, and we wait to see what happens."

"Sounds like a plan," Buffy said.

"Wait a second, do you guys actually know if this works or not?" Cordelia asked.

"What do you mean?" asked Giles.

"Well, Xander's healing works for himself. I've seen that firsthand. But do you know if it actually does work on other people? Have you tried? Because if it doesn't, you're just wasting your time. I mean, does he even know what to do?"

"That's a good point," Xander said. "My body just repairs itself on its own. I should probably know what the hell I'm doing before I try to bring somebody out of a coma."

"So how do we test it?" Willow asked.

"Who here has an injury?" Giles asked.

"I have a paper cut," Willow said, looking at her finger. "Oh, but, it's pretty much healed now."

"Giles, get me a knife," Buffy said.

"What are you doing?" Xander asked.

"Nobody here's injured, so I'm going to give myself a small cut for you to heal."

"Buffy, I don't want you to hurt yourself. Let Giles do it."

"Oh, thank you very much, Xander."

Xander looked at him apologetically.

"I know you don't want me hurt, baby. But it will be a very small cut, and I have the highest resistance to pain, here. Besides, you're just going to make it better."

Xander reluctantly agreed.

Buffy took hold of a dagger Giles found, and quickly cut the tip of her finger, then held the finger out to Xander. Xander took hold of her hand and covered the finger with his palm. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the wound in his mind.

A small white glow emanated from his palm, and when he removed his hand, Buffy's cut was healed. Xander wiped the blood off on a towel Giles provided him and smiled.

"I fixed Buffy," he said, proudly, as he kissed the tip of her finger.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Oh, God. Are they like that all the time?"

"Pretty much," Willow said.

"Maybe I shouldn't have done what I did."

"True. Living with this day after day might be a fate worse than death."

"I weep for the future," said Cordelia.

Xander and Buffy stuck their tongues out at their friends.

Giles cleaned his glasses. "Yes, well. Back to the matter at hand, I'd say this proves Xander's powers do work on others. Shall we to the hospital, then?"

The others nodded and got up. The kids all hopped in Oz's van, not willing to risk Giles's Citroen.

"It's not that bad," Giles protested.

"Giles, it would be faster to walk to the hospital than to take your car. We'll see you there in a half hour," Buffy said.

"It only takes ten minutes!"

"Sure, if your car has more than a horsepower," said Xander.

Giles glared at him, and Xander grinned.

"Fine. You all take the van, and when I arrive ahead of you, I will have a jolly laugh at the lot of you."

Oz smiled. "A race."

Giles looked intrigued. "Wager?"

"Research donuts for a week."

"Done."

The groups raced to their respective rides and headed off to the hospital.

* * * * *

"All I'm saying is, it wasn't a fair competition," Giles said as the group walked towards Faith's room.

"Giles, man, you lost to a van with five people in it, while you were the lone occupant of your car. How is that not fair?" Xander asked.

"I missed the turn!"

"And whose fault is that? Besides, we beat you by four minutes. That's more than just one U-turn."

"Yes, well. I purchase the donuts anyway, so I suppose I'm not out any money I wouldn't have been anyway."

"That's the spirit. See that silver lining."

"Yes, thank you."

"Here we are," Buffy said.

"You guys are sure about this?" Willow asked.

"It's the right thing to do, Will," Buffy said.

"I don't know. . ."

"It'll be okay, Will," said Xander, who stepped up and looked her dead in the eyes. "Trust me."

Willow took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay."

Oz glanced at them, then at Buffy, who merely smiled at him.

"So, who's going in?" Cordelia asked

"What?" Xander asked.

"Well, it's a pretty small room, and we can't all fit. Plus, if you woke up from a coma, would you want to see the faces of all the people you recently tried to kill."

"Angel's not here," Willow pointed out.

Cordelia rolled her eyes again. "Okay, so most of them. You get my point, it's not the most friendly environment."

"She does have a point," Buffy said. "I should probably stay out, since I'm kind of the one who put her in the coma."

"I never liked her," Willow said. "Still don't. Probably won't do much good to have me in there."

"And I could definitely live with out her, too," said Cordelia.

The rest of the group looked at her, surprised she felt so strongly.

"What? I'm supposed to have fluffy bunny feelings for her after she screwed my ex-boyfriend?"

Buffy, Willow and Xander winced at that reminder.

Giles coughed. "Yes. Well, as it was Wesley who tried to bring her in, and she associates me with the Watchers, it is probably best that I stay out as well."

The others nodded. Xander looked at Oz. "Looks like it's you and me, man."

Oz nodded. "Seems to be. After you," he said, motioning to the door.

Xander nodded and walked in. Oz held back a second to give Willow a kiss, then followed.

Cordelia smiled and pulled Buffy aside.

"I saw that little thing with Xander and Willow," she said. "You handled it well."

"Oz and I had a talk," Buffy said. "We're both good with it, except for the momentary. . . reaction."

"Good. They learned their lesson?"

"Yeah, totally," Buffy said. "And we both definitely trust them. But, they still have this incredible bond. . ."

"Tell me about it. Okay, well, so long as they're not getting into old habits."

"Nope. Willow's all Oz, all the time. And Xander. . ."

"Is all you. Got it, don't need the visual."

Buffy smiled.

"All right," Cordelia said. "We should probably go back and wait."

"Yeah. Thanks for asking, though."

Cordelia smiled. "Yeah, well don't get used to it. I just have an odd sensitivity where those two are concerned." She started walking away.

Buffy smiled at her. "So what's the deal with you and Angel?"

Cordelia stumbled.

----------

End Chapter 15