A week later, Xander Harris was once more finishing his story, lying on his back in a sitting room, with his arm around an attentive female, while outside a night-time storm continued to hurl driving rain against an edifice.

However, while there might have been some similarities regarding the proceedings of the man's earlier narrative in Villa Villekulla, things were much more different tonight when Xander again spoke his final words on how he became the King of the Pirates. For one, the gale outside wasn't a Swedish thunderstorm with all its light and sound effects, but rather a slow-moving deluge coming off the North Sea that was drenching the Scottish castle of the International Watchers' Council with a long, sullen soak as if the bad weather had an actual grudge against the very concept of dryness itself.

Still, the massive, centuries-old stones of the castle kept the room Xander was occupying warm and dry, with a crackling fireplace providing the sole illumination throughout the entire space, this being the only proper light for a storyteller currently lying on his back in the room. Not as formerly done before on top on a collapsed sofa, but here and now, resting upon an enormous tigerskin rug that had been tanned and stretched, to in the end be placed on the floor of a mature man's private sitting room in his apartment.

This rug was highly prized by its owner, not only because of the truly unique nature of this object, but also due to the utter relief of its possessor when he'd seen his daughter-in-heart return in her tumble out of a misapplied portal while crankily declaring at the top of her lungs that big kitties should know better than to try to snack upon Slayers. The hug Buffy Summers had then given Rupert Giles had nearly crushed his ribs and the animal bloodstains transferred by this had also permanently ruined his tweed jacket, but when the former Sunnydale High student had then stomped off to find an unoccupied shower in the castle, the head of the IWC hadn't minded the slightest, even when wondering what to do with the very large, very dead body of the saber-tooth tiger that had come back along with Buffy during her short trip to the Pleistocene Age.

Xander had his own head propped up on the back of this deceased feline's cranium attached to the rest of the rug, with that part of the man's body tilted forward on his distinctive pillow supported by its massive pair of upper canines that jutted out a full fourteen inches from the front of its jaws. This posture made it easy for Xander to look down at the two women in his arms curled around their shoulders, as they simultaneously sniffled on both of his collarbones, their faces resting down on his upper torso as they snuggled on opposite sides of his body.

Finally, Dawn Summers lifted her damp features from Xander's right side, still having tears in her eyes from both laughter and sorrow, as she proudly declared, "Mom would have been a great boss of the pirate wenches!"

Buffy Summers kept her head buried against Xander's left side, but the wordless mutter of agreement coming from that woman was audible to everyone there. Including where Faith Lehane was lounging against the bottom front of her armchair across the sitting room, which she'd slid off onto the floor while helplessly guffawing at Xander's description of his first encounter with Englebert the parrot.

"Yeah," amiably agreed the dark Slayer, her bright eyes gleaming in the flickering firelight. "Mrs. S. woulda kept everyone in line, rulin' with a firm hand." The Boston-born woman then shot an anxious look toward the trio lying on top of the tigerskin rug, only to relax when Buffy lifted her right hand to give an accepting wave at that compliment for her mother. Even after all the years after her bad time in Sunnydale when she'd become an enemy of the Scooby Gang, Faith still regretted never being able to apologize to Joyce Summers for terrorizing that woman and her family. Her sudden remorse was interrupted by another quiet voice coming from her left.

"Quite," nodded Rupert Giles from his position on the room's couch, putting back on his glasses that had just been polished on his shirtfront, and accepting the used handkerchief he'd just loaned to Willow Rosenberg seated by him. While fastidiously tucking away that cloth square soaked by the redhead's tears recently wiped away by the witch, Giles allowed his own sadness to momentarily flicker across his face, knowing it would be mostly hidden in the dim firelight of the room. His mood of bittersweet nostalgia was abruptly broken by the muted words spoken by the Wiccan nearly concealed in the shadows.

"Xander, that was a lovely story, but there was one teensy-weensy detail about it that I'd like to discuss with you."

Puzzled, everyone else there now glanced at where the redhead woman was sitting, with even Dawn and Buffy lifting off their heads from Xander's body to crane their necks in the direction of the witch. Who now leaned forward from the couch, putting her features into the firelight, an action that caused all there to see that Willow Rosenberg was now presenting to the entire room her ultimate Resolve Face, as she growled at her startled friend, "You big jerk, why wasn't I in it?"

As one, the fascinated spectators turned to look at an astonished man with one eye, as he began to babble in his defense the first things that came to mind, "Hey, I mentioned your message charms, and, uh, yeah, I could have had you on the Sunnydale lying on your deck chair, sipping at a margarita and using your magic to bring a wind into that ship's sails, but you know how easily you burn and remember that traveling carnival when we were eight and we went on the kiddie boat ride and the operator swore he'd never seen anyone else but you get seasick on it, and I was also kinda mad at you for yelling at me when I told you about a new Slayer there, and look, I was just making it all up as I went along!"

Trying to comprehend everything Xander had just gibbered in a single sentence, the others in the room were then shocked at seeing how Willow's red hair now blazed in an actual scarlet radiance, with her eyes also glowing a brilliant green, as that Wiccan now manifested the magic of the most powerful witch in the world. Getting onto her feet from the couch, Willow kept rising, floating upwards in the air until the top of her head was only a few inches from the sitting room's ceiling, as a thunderous voice now shook the entire space, rattling pictures on the walls and causing the floor to tremble.


Xander cringed back on the tigerskin rug, his arms falling away from around Buffy and Dawn, as his remaining eye widened with horror while Willow began to drift forward until she was now hovering directly over him, looking down at him with those terrifying radiant orbs of pure emerald, even as another deafening statement then rumbled throughout the sitting room.


Glancing at each other over Xander's chest, Buffy and Dawn instantly came to the same decision, and immediately rolled away from that prone man, as in the next second, Willow turned off her magic and abruptly dropped to the floor. That descending woman moved her feet apart so that these parts of her body landed next to the sides of Xander's hips, but that Sunnydale native had no time to thank his lucky stars, since Willow now relaxed her legs to fall, knees first, right onto Xander's stomach.

"Guuuhhh!" whoofed Xander, every molecule of air in his lungs exploding out from his mouth, as he jerked his upper body forward in agony, nearly nose-to-nose to a smirking Willow kneeling on him, who now shoved Xander back onto the rug, as her fingers then went to their sadistic work, aiming at every one of his weak points, especially under his ribs, as this woman began to mercilessly tickle him.

Gazing open-mouthed as Buffy and Dawn also dove onto the duo lying on the tigerskin rug to gleefully join in the man's torment, Faith sitting crosslegged in front of her armchair now twisted her head to stare at Giles still on the couch. The man calmly watching his children at their play became aware of this, and allowing a faint smile on his features, the Englishman now flicked his fingers in benign permission towards the struggling figures on the floor whooping, giggling, and shouting "Uncle! Uncle, dammit!" A wide grin blossomed on Faith's lips, and gathering her legs under herself, she also leapt across the room onto the others.

A few minutes later, an exhausted Xander was again on his back on the rug, with this time having a redhead snuggled up against his side, her arms so tightly around him that the man could barely breathe in Willow's hug. Buffy and Dawn were also back on his outstretched arms, and Faith was lying perpendicular to the man, her head resting upon his crossed ankles while the beautiful woman was idly running a finger up and down his left lower leg. Dawn was innocently digging the toe of her shoe into Faith's ribs every time that Slayer's finger reached Xander's knee and showed signs of traveling further upwards. That man himself was then distracted by Willow's soft voice speaking into his ear. "I missed you so much, Xan."

Looking down from his right eye into the mass of red hair pressed up against the left side of his face, Xander blinked, and protested, "I wasn't gone that long in Sweden-"

"Not just there. Africa, too, and further back, even in Sunnydale. I missed my cheerful, funny friend, with all his wild and wacky stories, who I thought was gone forever," sniffled Willow, as the others listened, and silently agreed.

Xander opened his mouth to deny this, and then he closed it again, to think that over, until he slowly admitted, "Yeah, but you know why. I- I'd seen too much, gone through too much. That guy that I was back in my hometown, I couldn't be him any more. So, I became someone else, who was needed. Until….someone else needed me, to be what I was before, that I thought I'd lost. Well, I found him again, and…um, I can't promise you he'll be back all the time, but I won't send him away again. Okay, Wils?"

With a squeal of delight, Willow hugged Xander even harder, as Buffy and Dawn also contributed their own happy hugs for their blood brother. On his couch listening to this, Rupert Giles broadly beamed in his secret pleasure, with that man then looking a bit startled at Xander's sudden muffled squawk of astonishment. The four people on the tigerskin rug then shifted apart, to look down Xander's body at Faith there smirking at them all even as she pulled back her hand that she'd just used to express her own gratification in a contented grope while Dawn had been distracted. Before anybody could actually yell at the vulgar Slayer, that woman then cheerfully asked, "So, when do we get to meet the kid?"

Even as they glared at Faith, Buffy, Dawn, and Willow enthusiastically echoed that brunette's question, "Yeah, when?"

"What?" blinked Xander at the females there all eagerly looking back at him, until he was distracted by the other man in the sitting room.

Rupert Giles momentarily looked thoughtful, until he announced, "I'll need a day to transfer my responsibilities, so I'm sure we can all leave the day after tomorrow. That'll also allow me sufficient time to start the search for her father, though I really would like to give our researchers more information than 'somewhere in the South Seas.'"

"No problem, Giles," joyously said Willow as she grinned into Xander's astonished face. "Once I meet with Pippi and get some hair or blood samples, I think I can narrow it further down for you with my magic."

Finally managing to again speak, Xander now spluttered, "But- I didn't- You don't have- OW!"

A finger possessing Slayer strength poking him hard in his ribs had just caused that startled yelp from Xander, as he now listened to Buffy Summers laying down the law as the rest of their group firmly nodded in agreement. "Xander Harris, you just brought a new Scooby into the gang. You really think we're going to pass up a chance to meet Pippi Longstocking?"

Author's Note: Now that the story's over, join me in a sing-along while holding your tankards up high:

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of the whole ship's list
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore
And the scullion he was stabbed times four
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped down in up-staring eyes
In murk sunset and foul sunrise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the murder mark!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead
Or a yawing hole in a battered head
And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes
Looking up at paradise
All souls bound just contrawise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of 'em good and true
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ev'ry man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
With a ton of plate in the middle hold
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there that took the plum
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb
While we shared all by the rule of thumb,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through a sternlight screen..
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Chartings undoubt where a woman had been
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

'Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot
Oh was she wench or some shudderin' maid
That dared the knife and took the blade
By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight,
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well
And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!