Leaving a stunned Scooby Gang behind them, Melody and Harmony headed towards the nurses' counter and asked to see Xander. Buffy, Willow, and Giles joined the two women at the counter just in time for the nurse there to say the pair could see the boy for a few minutes, while the other trio had to wait for their turn. Seconding the doctor's comments, the nurse also warned everyone that Xander was in serious discomfort and on very strong pain-relieving drugs, and he could fall asleep at any time during their visit.

The mother and her child headed towards Xander's room, leaving behind them a very bemused group. As they went further into the hospital, the hands of the two women joined unconsciously, and their grips tightened until they became aware of it.

Both of them looked at each other, remembering the last time they had visited a hospital and the sorrow that had come with it. Harmony and Melody paused in the hospital corridor and gave each other a strong hug. "He'll be all right, honey," whispered Melody into her daughter's ear.

Ending their embrace, Harmony stepped back and wiped away tears from her eyes, nodding. "Yeah, I know that, and I won't go into pieces there." They started down the corridor, again holding hands, but this time for comfort instead of fear.

At last, Harmony announced at the door of a hospital room, "This is it, mom." She hesitated, turning to her mother. "Uh, are we supposed to knock?"

Melody faintly smiled, and said kindly, "Yes, once to announce us, and then just go right in."

Harmony did so, and then she cautiously pushed open the door. The two women entered the room, with its single bed having an occupant. Both stepped to the foot of the bed, with the pair simultaneously drawing in a dismayed gasp.

Xander Harris, flat on his back in the hospital bed and with his eyes closed, did not react. He was in no shape to do so.

His right arm was in a large cast, lying on top of the bed sheets. The rest of his exposed body had nearly contiuous bruising and swelling over his skin. The worst was his throat. It was nearly black and swollen to match the width of his head. The lower part of Xander's face was covered by a strapped-on mask that had tubes protruding from it, these leading to an oxygen tank next to the bed.

Harmony clutched her mother, and buried her face in her parent's shoulder, with the girl's body beginning to shake. Melody turned to hold her daughter in her arms, her left hand coming up to stroke the back of her child's head. As the two stood together, both heard at the same time a noise coming from the bed.


The women standing at the foot of the bed instantly turned their heads to stare at the bed's occupant. The teenage boy there now had his eyes open, and he was looking at his visitors, unable to say anything comprehensible due to the oxygen tube running down his throat.

"Xander!" gasped Harmony, swiftly breaking free of her mother to rush to Xander's left side on the bed. She hovered over him, her hands about to touch him, yet realizing there was virtually no place she could do so without hurting him.

Xander's eyes had shifted to keep Harmony in view. Now, tears trickled out of them, as he again made a sound past the oxygen mask. "Hhharrrr…." On the bed, Xander's left arm slowly twisted to bring his palm up, his fingers barely crooking.

Harmony instantly dropped to her knees, her face descending to kiss the center of Xander's palm numerous times. Tears dripped from her eyes as she felt his fingers gently caressing her face.

Melody was herself crying, standing at the foot of the bed holding the broken body of the boy (*the man!*) who had been willing to die to protect her child.

The woman stood there, listening to her daughter croon softly to the person who had won her heart, and finally she stepped to join Harmony at the side of Xander's bed, bending down to gently urge her child up. "Harmony, we can't stay too long, his friends want to be here, too," murmured Melody.

This overcame Harmony's reluctance to leave Xander, and she got up and moved aside to let her mother approach Xander. Standing at the side of his bed, Melody grasped Xander's left hand with both of her hands, receiving a feeble squeeze from him.

"Xander, I want to tell you something. Squeeze my hand if you understand." Squeeze.

"You're going to be okay, but you need to stay here for a couple of days. Harmony and I will visit you as often as possible. Do you understand?" Squeeze.

"When you get out of here, you need to be cared for. You're going to stay with us. Yes, in our home. Understand?" No squeeze. Instead, Xander looked blankly at Melody.

Still holding on, the woman bent down to whisper directly into Xander's left ear. "You saved my child. You. Are. Family."

Melody straightened up and directed a stern, mom-glare at Xander Harris. "Don't you DARE think you're going any place but our home, and that's final!"

A moment later, she received a squeeze. Then, Xander winked at both women.

A half-laugh/half-sob came from behind Melody, and her daughter's arms came around her in a loving embrace, the chin of the child resting on the mother's left shoulder. Both women looked down to see Xander's eyes close and his breathing change to quiet steadiness.

Melody gently removed her hands from Xander's loose grip, and she turned, putting her index finger to her lips to tell Harmony to be quiet. The older woman then pointed to the door, and flicked her fingers to show her daughter they needed to go now.

Harmony hesitated, and then she reluctantly nodded and headed for the door, looking back at every step for one more moment's viewing of her beloved. Melody patiently followed her daughter out of the room, closing the door behind her as quietly as possible. Both woman walked down the hospital corridor with their arms around each other's waist and their heads close together.

At last, they came again to the hospital waiting room, where Buffy and the others were worriedly waiting. Instead of stopping to talk with the trio getting out of their chairs, the Kendall women continued walking towards the hospital front doors.

On the way, Melody just smiled at the Scooby Gang, and she used her free arm away from Harmony to wave behind her, granting them permission to visit Xander. Her arm came back to lift a finger to her lips in a shushing gesture to indicate they should be quiet. Harmony just walked along, holding onto her mother, not paying attention or giving any indication that Buffy, Willow, and Giles would need to make serious explanations in the near future.

Surprised at being ignored, the trio watched Melody and Harmony walk away from them out of the hospital. Uncertain glances were exchanged among the Scoobies, until Buffy finally said gruffly, "Come on! We really need to talk to Xander over….everything!"

As they headed toward Xander's room, Giles doubtfully said, "Buffy, he may be in no condition for any conversation at this time. At the very least, he may be fast asleep."

"I'll just announce when we get there that if he wakes up, me and Willow will flash him."


"What, Willow? Ask Giles here if that wouldn't work on any teenage boy."

Rupert Giles barely maintained a proper British reserve as he followed his Slayer and his other daughter-in-heart squabbling together as they walked towards his warrior-son. The man shook his head in utter disbelief, sensing that life-changing events had occurred in just a few hours.