Xander just stood there staring at the statue with a sledgehammer in his hands. When Giles told him about it he could barely control his anger. It took Buffy showing up to finally calm him down. Where are the rest of the scoobies they're trying to resurrect Angel's soul tonight. Xander had absolutely no interest in that even before this thing showed up again in his life. Acathla, the devourer of the world, Xander was taking one last look at the beast. He touches the sword that was used to kill the beast as memories rushed back into his head of the knight who did it.

"You're just a rabid dog!"

"I'll come back with reinforcements until then don't die!"

"You can't live on hopes and dreams alone!"

"You fool. You're always getting hurt…You're always spilling your own blood for me…you fool."

"Forget about what you can't understand! Focus on what you can do!"

"Guts, I had a bad dream."

"Guts don't watch…please don't watch."

Xander wishes he could take the sword with him and leave it on the hill of swords but he can't risk opening Acathla. He can't risk anyone getting sucked in let alone that monster getting out. Xander tightens his grip on the hammer as the anger takes him thinking back to that thing.

"Now you belong to me Guts."

"I will choose how you will live and where you will die."

"I will have my own kingdom."

"I always get what I want."

"A friend is someone who will fight for their own dream."

"Among the thousands of comrades and the tens of thousands of enemies. You were the only one that made me forget my dream…I make the offering."

"I came to see if I could feel anything. I feel nothing, and I regret nothing."

With one quick scream he swung and Acathla's head crumbled to dust. Xander knocked the stone carcass to the floor. In a rage he attacked the statue letting out a scream somewhere between Gut's war cry and Xander's cry of pain. He repeatedly attacked the statue reducing it to rubble more and more with each blow. Eventually he realizes all he's doing is pounding dust into concrete and collects himself.

Xander turned for the exit and looked back one last time. "Rot in hell, your majesty."

Xander came over to Buffy's house after the museum like she had asked him to. Xander wonders what his girlfriend whom he loves dearly is actually up to. Buffy smiled sitting on the couch as he walked in.

Xander smiled at Buffy and asked. "So deadboy or dead asshole." He asks about Angel as he sits down next to her.

Buffy rolled her eyes she was hoping Xander would let it drop. "He's still Angelus though Giles is cashing in a favor tomorrow and he thinks that should do it."

Xander nods he'll be happy…for Willow when Angel is recursed. "Did I miss anything interesting?"

Buffy shakes her head no. "Nothing worth mentioning. Someone went psycho on the statue on the statue of Alfalfa. By the where did you go tonight?"

Xander shrugged his shoulders. "Went to visit an old friend made sure he wasn't going anywhere. So why did you ask me to come here tonight?"

Buffy just climbs onto Xander's lap and kisses him deeply. "Mom is out of town until the day after tomorrow. And" Buffy's hand slides lower and Xander becomes alert.

Xander thinks he might be in shock. Ends up it's a paralyzing calm more then anything else. "Are you sure I mean you're not traumatized by the swim team are you?"

Buffy glared at him. "I'm not but the coach is. Besides if anything I'd be more traumatized by what you and Willow got up to."

Xander pointed a finger at her. "That does not count Buff we weren't ourselves and besides our kiss involved me shooting her out a second story window."

Buffy realized they were getting off topic. "The point is. I love you Xander Harris and I want you to be."

Xander kisses her soft at first cutting her off but they quickly become more passionate. "I love you too." Xander lifts her off the couch and Buffy wraps her legs around his waist Xander carries her up to her room and kicks the door shut behind them.

Xander just smiles content as he runs his fingertips over Buffy's arm. Buffy looks into his eyes and smiles.

Buffy woke up and Xander wrapped his arms around her and strokes her hair. Buffy started talking. "I feel different do you…no of course you don't feel different you've had a whole life time of stuff like this. Was it nice at least?"

Xander just smiled. "I feel it Buff, Everything is different and that was wonderful. For the record old life never took the time to enjoy it."

Buffy looked confused Xander probably thought about sex every 7 seconds. "Why Not?"

Xander shrugged. "Demons to kill, girlfriend to save you know the drill."

Buffy laughed until she realized something. "Oh god what the do we tell Giles about why you're not coming home tonight."

Xander smirked. "That's easy we look him right in the eyes and we tell him we're two people who…spent all night fighting a mohra demon." Giles would assume two didn't know about the gem.

Xander and Jonathon were walking to school. Just another day in Sunnydale High. Jonathon was the one who asked it first. "You think this guy can really restore Angel's soul."

Xander shrugged. "G-man seems think so." Xander said cracking his wrist.

Jonathon just looked at him. "Do you want his soul to be restored?"

Xander was in thought trying to come up with an answer. "I want whatever makes Willow happy so right now I want Angel's soul back. If Willow wants Angel dead I'll be more than happy to look into it."

Jonathon nodded. "You're kind of twisted you know…even before Halloween."

Xander just gave him a crooked smile. "I am what I am."

Jonathon looked at a sight to the right and turned back to Xander. "So how about you and Buffy."

Xander rolls his eyes Jonathon is turning into a good friend but he's not finding out about this any time soon. Xander decides to peak to the right and see what has his friend's attention its Larry emptily forcibly flirting with Amy. Xander looks at Jonathon go shy and realizes he has a thing for the young witch. Amy had a bit where she was cheating on tests with magic. But Xander caught her and they had a long talk when he saw it. He knows first hand how dangerous magic is and should least of all be used for something so petty.

"She's always been kind of cute." Xander said. "Amy I mean."

Jonathon just looked at him. "She's beautiful but I think Buffy might slay you. If she hears you say that."

Xander shakes his head no. "Nah she'll only slay me if I go beyond watching. So why don't you ask her out? Amy not Buffy I can tell you like her."

Jonathon just stared getting nervous. "I-I just can't ask her out what if she gets nervous what if I get nervous."

Xander just looked at him and rolled his eyes. "Look John if she shuts you down you can still hold you head up and go hey I at least had the guts to ask that incredible girl out."

Jonathon just stuttered. "But you and Buffy make it look so easy."

Xander did all he could not to laugh at him. "Easy I had to" Puts a finger up. "Fight vampires." He puts another finger up. "Giver her CPR when the master killed her." Another finger goes up. "Deal with Guts memories" His pinky goes up. "Wait for her to dump deadboy." He puts his thumb up making a full hand. "And finally kill someone I didn't even think could die." He just laughed realizing all the crap he went through and the changes he went through. He wouldn't trade any of it back even relearning of the 'silver coin incident' which is frightening in its own way.

Xander could still see that Jonathon wasn't convinced. "Look Jonathon you have to take a risk. You can either listen to other people around their fire or you can try to start a fire for yourself."

Jonathon just shrugged. "I'll think about it."

Xander just smiled. "And sometimes you have count on your friends to help." With his open hand he shoved Jonathon into Larry. Xander realizes he messed up a couple months back. The class had self defense classes and Larry put the moves on Buffy so fearing Buffy would really hurt Larry he volunteered to be her partner claiming he'd have fun holding her. He realizes he should have just left Larry to take the beating. Xander swears he still has bruises from it.

Larry just looked at who did it. Did little Jonathon Levinson push him. "You got something to say to me little man?"

Jonathon just stared at him nervously. "I don't think she likes you."

Larry shrugged. "Yeah well I heard from other guys on the team that she worked fast."

Amy swallowed hard and tried not to get upset. She didn't do anything like that yet but her mom the psycho witch decided to have some fun after she took her body leaving the young witch with a little bit of a slut rep when she got her body back.

Xander watched as his friend systematically picked apart Larry. He punched him in the stomach, followed with a knee to the gut when Larry held his stomach, followed with a knee to the face, and finishing it up with a punch to the face. Larry turned around and walked into Xander and remembered back to Halloween night and fled.

Amy was impressed no one ever went to bat for her like that before Buffy. Though she had to admit she never thought Jonathon of all people would do that. "Thank you, Jonathon."

Jonathon just nodded. "No problem."

Amy started to walk away. Xander just started nudging Jonathon in the back and encouraging him to make a move. When the little man has enough he just asks. "Amy"

The witch turns around and Jonathon gets nervous. "A-a bunch of us are watching a movie tonight would you like to come with us."

Xander almost wanted to hide his face in his hands maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

Amy smiled he seemed harmless enough. "It sounds like fun."

Xander was shocked score one for the underdog.

That night Xander walked into the library Dragonslayer in hand 3 vampires and a Freddy Krueger looking thing only Puck could see near the hospital later he calls it an early night. He comes to the library and sees Angelus trapped in his usual crystal cage whenever they try to resoul him.

Angelus just snarls if there's anything him and soulboy ever had an agreement on it was two things. Xander Harris is a waste of life and nobody should have made Godfather III. Angelus takes a moment to sniff the air and smells it.

"Little Buffy's all woman now huh, or was she already a slut."

Xander clenches his fist he will not kill Angelus, he will not kill Angelus, he will not kill Angelus, he will not kill Angelus.

"You know I was always curious about what would happen if you bang a slayer. Was she too strong did she leave bruises?" Angelus asked continuing to rile up Xander he's noticed how bad his temper got since Halloween all he needs to do is get him angry and if the crystal cage is attacked from the outside it will shatter.

Xander doesn't attack he does the exact opposite. He laughs it starts as a smirk before it becomes a chuckle and devolves into an all out laugh. Angelus joined in the laugh and Xander kept going it was somewhere between Guts' psychotic laugh and Xander's innocent chuckle. The Black Swordsman and the scourge of Europe share a moment. Xander wiped tears from his eyes and turned to Angel. "What the hell are you laughing about? I'm laughing at you. I came out here to tell you that we're not going to recurse you ends up there's a flaw where you can get out. We're going to resoul you. You will never be anything again except for stray thoughts in the back of Deadboy's head." Xander looked at his watch and pointed at it. "Speaking of which, Showtime."

A mage in grey cloth emerges from Giles office followed by the watcher himself, Jenny, Willow, Buffy, and Schierke. The mage starts chanting and the scourge of Europe shows fear for the first time as green energy surrounds him. The crystal cage falls and the vampire is levitated up off the floor and the green energy crashes into him when the spell dissipates Angel falls to the floor.

Willow runs over and shakes him awake. "Come on Angel wake up."

The vampire opens his eyes as Schierke walks over to him. Schierke puts her staff on Angel's head and he falls into a trance. The old witch senses his OD and released him.

Angel fought off the dizzy spell and got his eyes to focus on the redhead. "Willow, what's going on? I don't remember…anything."

Willow just cradled him and planted kisses all over. "It doesn't matter now. You're safe and your soul is bound to you for good."

Angel was confused. "What do you mean bound?"

Jenny had to answer this one. "My former clan didn't return your soul we cursed you with one. If you were to have had one moment of perfect happiness. You would have changed back into Angelus."

Angel looked at her she's a gypsy. "What do you mean former clan?"

Jenny shrugged. "They threw me out for helping them restore you. Which is just ironic because I can't think of anything worse than Angelus being trapped watching all the good you'll do."

Giles just turns to the mage. "Thank you for that powerful spell."

The mage just nods. "This restores the balance between us Rupert Giles. My debt to you has been repaid. Do not call upon me again."

Xander just watched the mage disappear into shadow. "His debt to you has been repaid? What did you do?"

"I introduced him to his wife." Giles answered.

Xander saw Schierke holding her head. "Still can't take the city huh?"

Schierke nodded. "It's just too loud and the spirits are too quiet."

Xander nods his head in understanding. "Why don't you go home Schierke there isn't anything else you can do here."

Schierke left and Willow and Angel went to get that long talk over a round of coffee as Angel deals with the two people Angelus got before the scoobies stopped him. Xander looked to Giles and saw the older librarian is cleaning his glasses…Oh crap.

Giles put his glasses aside and asked Jenny and Puck to take a walk and he'll meet them at home. The technopagan and elf sees the look in his eye and they nod in agreement. Leaving the slayer and the swordsman right in the path of Giles. Buffy doesn't think she ever saw him like this.

"OK on a scale of 1-10 how mad are you and what did we do?" Buffy asked.

Giles stopped cleaning his glasses and turned to Xander. "I heard what you and Angelus talked about right before we restored him."

Buffy turned to Xander. "What did you guys talk about?"

Xander was cursing under breath. He didn't start laughing fast enough. "Last night…I don't know how but he knew."

"He smelled it on you." Giles answered.

Buffy's face lit up. "If Angel can smell it does that mean Willow? So that's why she was so curious about what I was doing last night…She can smell it on me?"

Giles nodded and Buffy groaned. So not only does her ex know, her best friend knows and now her watcher knows. Maybe they can all go home tonight and tell her mom when she comes back.

Buffy just sighed and turned to Giles. "So how mad are you? Planning to kill us."

Giles stared at the two. "I'm not."

Xander just looked at him trying to gauge a reaction. "Looks like Giles sounds like teenager."

Giles just looked at the two. "Do you want me to wag my finger at you two and tell you that you acted rashly? You did. A-and I can. I know that Buffy loves you Xander. And... you... have proven more than once that you love her. Just be sure to take precautions."

Buffy rolled here eyes she knew this wouldn't be that easy. "And here comes the talk."

That night everyone started gathering together. They all agreed whether or not this worked they would go to the old abandoned white walled house and watch the movie Xander got Buffy for her birthday. Jonathon had a DVD projector and he said it was a fun way to watch movies. Xander and Buffy got there first followed by Jonathon and Amy. Cordelia showed up with her new boyfriend Oz. Xander is still trying to figure out how that one happened. Apparently she was a dating a head singer and dumped him when he refused to see her as anything but a hottie. Those two started up after Willow shot Oz down still upset about Angelus. And for the hellmouth twist it led to 2 'fun' nights of werewolf hunting when Cordelia called worried about him, Jonathon and Buffy tranqing wolf Oz to keep him him from hurting anyone. And Xander cutting off a hunter's arm when he tried to shoot the unconscious Oz. When it became obvious Willow and Angel weren't showing they started the movie.

Willow looked at Angel. "Come on you have to face them sometime."

Angel nodded but moved slowly. What's he going to say to them assuming Buffy doesn't run a redwood through him on site?

Willow just smiled. "Angel, they won't kill you in front of me it will make me cranky."

Angel just smiled. "All right and thank you for the coffee."

They came down and joined the others. Willow was the first to speak up. "So did we miss anything exciting?"

Xander just rolled his eyes. "This might be the worst movie I've ever seen. The vampires sparkle." He turns to Angel. "It's like you knocked up Tinker Bell and these guys came out. I think I might have finally found a vampire I hate more then you."

Buffy nods in agreement. "If I staked one of these I'd probably spend a week getting the glitter out of my clothes."

With that Xander moved over. It was subtle but he made space for Angel and Willow to sit down. He doesn't think he'll ever be good friends with Angel. Being in love with the same girl thing and more importantly the demon thing. However there are no words he can think of to thank Angel. He'll never tell her but he had nightmares about what Willow could have become if he didn't help her along the way. She probably would have become skanky evil…and maybe kind of gay with the way she was checking out Cordy's neck sometimes.

Willow just sighs and leans back watching the dumbest baseball game of all time on the movie. She could care less she just leans back into Angel. She's so happy to have him back she can ask about that smell coming off Xander and Buffy. More importantly she has him back. Eternity is a very lonely concept one she's thankful she has Angel even if it's just a little while. She looks at Cordelia and sees her happy in Oz's arms as she cracks jokes about their skin tone. Oz is just giving nods and single word answers and the occasional joke. With how little he talks back he truly is the perfect guy for Cordy. She smiles as she realizes something to her. She doesn't smell anything. The temptation the hunger it's all gone. She's changed she doesn't see them as food anymore just friends and people. She finally did it.

Angel looks down and sees Willow smile a genuine smile. This causes him to give one of his own. "What are you so happy about?"

Willow looked up and answered. "I don't smell anything on Cordy."

Angel just smiled at her. He remembered and knew how much that meant. Willow just moved head up and kissed Angel who was happy to kiss back.

Xander watched the movie with Buffy in his arms. He still can't believe this. He can't believe how much has changed in 6 months. He has his memories of his old life back. He has powerful allies along with new friends. He's free of his parents thanks to Giles taking him in and most important of all, he has Buffy the girl he loves. He has the girl of his dreams in his arms and as long as he has something to say about it he's not ever letting her go.

Buffy looks up at Xander and smiles not believing how her life is turning out. She always figured it would just be Angel someone who knows her darkness. But Xander knows it, accepts it and has some of his own now. She can't believe she actually found someone that she can have an actual future with in the day and everything. Someone who just accepts her as Buffy. The girl, the darkness, the slayer.

The movie is interrupted by a snarl of a vampire in game face with friends. "Look at this 4 girl treats with nowhere to run."

They all just sigh and get to their feet they changed but the battle is never-ending. Amy's hands light up in fire ready to throw a fireball, Jonathon Cordelia, and Oz pull out tranquilizer guns with holy water cartridges, Willow and Angel vamp out, Xander just sighs and pulls out a stake and mutters under breath about not bringing Dragonslayer. Buffy just pulls out a stake of her own and quips.

"How does it feel to be a group of rocket scientists?"


Author's notes

Thanks to everyone who read The Bet and this story. Special thanks to those who reviewed.

The Betverse Scoobies will return in A Berserker's Wrath.