Xander got more and more worried as they got closer to the source of the magical signature they were tracking. It was becoming obvious that it was currently planted directly in Giles' apartment. That was a serious problem.

"Unknown magic user. Giles' Place. Chaotic magic. Shit." Xander said flatly.

"What?" Phoebe asked, concerned at the tone in his voice.

Xander hopped over the car's door and planted his feet firmly on the ground as he stared up at the building he had parked beside. "Ethan Rayne. The last time something even close to this happened it was an old 'friend' of Giles come to pay his respects. I wound up with forty years of combat experience crammed into my skull."

"That's not so bad." Jack Crow said, "Explains your fighting style."

Xander nodded, "Yeah, but the rest of the town were turned into demons, ghosts, and helpless eighteenth century noblewomen for the night."

"Ah..." Crow said, "That sucks."


As they approached the door Xander pulled his guns and motioned Faith forward, "Kick the door in."

Faith quirked a grin, "You sure?"

Xander nodded grimly.

Faith chuckled, "I've wanted to do this to tweed-man for a long time."

Xander got ready, his eyes glowing with the eerie silver as he focussed his vision, and Faith planted her foot right where the deadbolt was on the other side. The door splintered and swung open and Xander charged in, swinging his guns to sweep the room.

Xander stopped as his vision identified the power signature present in the aura. A signature that was so strong that even without Elan's instant confirmation he knew it had to be the caster. His face dropped almost as fast as his heart.

"Willow." Was all he could say.


Buffy snapped into action, placing herself between Xander's guns and Willow. She didn't know what was going on but the glow in Xander's eyes simply wasn't natural.

"Xander..." She started slowly, "I don't know what's wrong with you but you can't hurt Willow."

Xander sighed, flipping his guns toward the ceiling, flat side toward Buffy and Willow. He held them there for a moment before he slipped the two guns back into leather. "It was Willow."


"She cast the spell. I can see it in her aura, if I hadn't toned down my sight she would have blinded me, the power is that intense."

"No... NO." Buffy said, shaking her head. "She wouldn't."

"That's right!" Willow said, "I wouldn't... I didn't!"

"Willow," Giles said slowly, "Did you cast ANY spells last night?"

Willow was silent.

"She invoked Innana, Giles." Xander said flatly, moving to sit in the closest chair. Behind him Phoebe, Faith, and Crow grabbed seats around the room.

"How did you...?" Willow trailed off as Buffy stared at her.

"Willow!" Buffy stared at her in shock.

"I.... I didn't cast it on you..." Willow defended herself, "It was on me... I was the only target..."

"Then how...?" Buffy asked slowly.

Giles started to speak, but again Xander beat him to the punch. "Innana is a very... fickle Goddess. She probably thought that Willow needed a lesson... and she used us to provide it."

"Erm... Yes.... precisely." Giles said, "Xander... how did you know that?"

"I have a... friend with some experience in magic." Xander smiled.

"Oh... ummm... Yes." Giles looked at Phoebe and Xander smiled a little wider at the obvious mistake.

I'll tell him later. Xander thought as he turned his attention back to Willow. He pulled her out from the group, against Buffy's objections, and spoke to her privately. "Let me guess, you cast the spell to remove your inhibitions?"

"Umm... not exactly..." Willow said. "It was a..."

Xander cut her off. "Stop. I already know, and I don't think it's a good idea for you to bring it up right now."

"But..." Willow looked confused, "Why?"

Xander glanced between Phoebe, Faith, and Buffy. "Because it would cause a lot of trouble if they found out you cast a 'Know your heart spell' that led to... what it led to..."

Willow looked at the group, her eyes widening. "Oh my god. Xander! I'm so sorry... I didn't mean..."

"I know that, Willow. But you've screwed up in a big way this time. Buffy was so pissed off earlier that if she had gotten her hands on you..." Xander shook his head. "There are going to be consequences this time, Willow. Big ones."

Willow looked stricken. "I... I really didn't mean..."

Xander glared at her, all the softness gone form his voice. "Buck up, Will. Intentions are irrelevant at this point. You hurt your two best friends, and the Goddess only knows how many others got tangled up in your spell. I'm going to have to do something about this."

Willow looked at him in shock. "W... what? I mean... what can you do?"

"You'll see." Xander said and walked away.


Buffy glared at both Xander and Willow as they rejoined the group. "What was that all about?"

Xander just shrugged and pulled Phoebe gently away from the group. "I need to ask you something."

Phoebe looked at him curiously, but followed him into the kitchen. "Ok..."

"Can you get Leo here?"

"Sure." Phoebe called for the Whitelighter, who almost immediately orbed into the kitchen with them.

"What's up?" He looked at the duo curiously.

"Leo," Xander began, "I need a favour."

"Uh... If I can..."

"Can you get a Whitelighter assigned to a witch?"

Leo stared at Xander for a moment, "Witches are assigned Whitelighter guardians at Birth..."

"No, I mean to a Practitioner, not a natural witch."

"That's... very rare." Leo said slowly.

"Can it be done?"


Phoebe spoke up, "His friend, Willow, is dabbling in magic for personal gain. And she's getting stronger. Without guidance... I agree with Xander. She needs someone who knows more about witches then the group here does."

Leo sighed, "All right. I'll see what I can do." And he orbed out.


"How could you!" Buffy glared at Willow, who had lost all her earlier confidence and was cowering before the Slayer's wrath.

"I... I'm sorry..." She said quietly.

Faith, who was enjoying the show, couldn't help but put in her own crack. "Cut her some slack... She did give us a good time... Lover."

Buffy turned red again, shaking as she turned on the Dark Slayer. "You stay out of this."

Willow stared, open mouthed, between the two Slayers. "Lover? Oh Buffy.... I'm SO sorry!"

"Hey!" Faith objected to the Wiccan's apology. "I didn't hear any complaint last night... from any of them."

"Them!?" Willow kept sinking into the couch. "W... who?"

Faith kept on speaking, grinning as she dug each crack into the young witch, despite the desperate urgings from Buffy to shut up. "Phoebe and Xander of course. I really have got to hand it to ya, Red, when you throw a party for your pals, you go all out."

"xander?" She whispered in a soft voice.

"That's right." Xander growled as he emerged from the kitchen. "You've managed to single handedly alienate almost all of your friends with one screw up. Welcome to the club."


"No!" Willow had regained some of her confidence when presented with Xander's proposal. "I do not need a babysitter!"

Buffy arced an eyebrow in her direction, "You could have fooled me."

"I said I was sorry!" Willow responded, "I screwed up.... Don't act like you've never done it!"

Buffy flinched back, hurt.

"We all have." Xander stepped in, "And that's part of the point... I screw up, what's the worst that happens? You guys hate me. But damn it Willow, if you flip out you could probably do a serious job on this town!"

"I'm not going to 'flip out'!" She protested.

"Willow..." Giles began.

"No!" She cut him off, "I'm careful with magic... This was just one mistake."

"Some mistake." Faith cackled in laughter from where she was sitting.

"You shut up!"

"Make me, Red!" Faith leaned forward.

Willow spun on her, her hand coming up and a spell on her lips. Xander intercepted her hand, pulling it around behind her back and slipping his palm over her mouth.

Faith grinned gleefully, she loved it when people reacted exactly as expected.

"Is this your idea of careful use of magic!?" Xander tossed her back into the couch and drew one of his Colts from its holster. He let her eyes widen as they followed the nickel plated pistol for a moment, then he slammed the weapon down on the coffee table hard enough to make her jump. He pointed to the weapon and demanded, "What does that look like to you?"

She stared between Xander and the gun in shock, unable to respond.

"I asked you a question, Willow."

"A... a gun..."

"Is it dangerous?"

She looked at him as if he were insane. "O.. Of course it is."

"What is it for?"


"Do I use it for anything else?"


"Do I," he repeated, "use it for anything else?"

"I...i don't understand..."

"Do I shoot out the lights at my place when I don't feel like getting up to turn them off? Do I use it to scare away Jehovah's witnesses and annoying salesmen?"

"N... no, of course not..."

"Do you know why!?"

Willow shook her head, too confused by the off centre question to formulate a response.

Xander continued, relentlessly. "Because It's a loaded gun! And if I did any of those things then sooner or later there would be an accident and someone would DIE!"

Xander paused, took a deep breath, and watched Willow where she sat. "Willow," He continued in a much gentler tone, "Magic is a thousand times more dangerous then a loaded gun."

Giles stepped into the silence and continued, "You have to realize that he's right, Willow. Magic is not a toy, you can not simply use it to make your life easier. The powers that you are attempting to harness will not let you go unchanged. Life is hard sometimes, yes, it's true. But there is a reason for that, without the trials you go through now how can you expect to meet the challenges that come later?"

"But... I can control them!" Willow protested.

"You can't." Buffy said, "Last night was proof of that. You tried to tap powers from something so much greater then yourself, and it was a disaster."

"Indeed." Giles cleaned off his glasses, looking at Willow for a moment, "Control is an illusion, child. These powers grant you only so much control as they desire. Why do you think we stay away from Black Magics? Those powers tend to corrupt and control the wielder..."

"But it wasn't black magic! I swear!"

Giles sighed, "I know that, Willow. If it were then we would be having a much different conversation. But even White Magic is quite capable of controlling the caster. Especially when the Caster is tapping the power without clear purpose. You must have a powerful focus to maintain control over these forces... and I'm afraid that trying to fix your love life is hardly a sufficient focus."

Willow's eyes had lost a lot of their bluster, and she finally nodded in agreement. "Ok... so I need to cut back on my magic use... but I still don't see why I need a watcher to make sure... don't you guys trust me?"

"Willow..." Xander said slowly, "This isn't about trust.... well... yes it is. But its not all about you either. Magic is some powerful stuff, and it can be hard to resist temptations like that. We just want to make sure that you have the best chance of staying in the driver's seat."

"Listen to them, Willow." Phoebe said earnestly, "They're trying to help. When I first became a witch I tried using magic for personal gain... It was never pretty. White Magic doesn't tolerate that kind of dabbling... it will corrupt your spells and eventually even your soul simply by association. White Magic is meant to help others... not yourself."


Crow sat, watching the argument with some interest. He considered the argument interesting from an outsiders point of view, and was getting a decent idea why the Church had a heavy leaning against the use of magical power. He was still uncertain whether the policy was the right thing to do or not. After all, only a fool doesn't use ever weapon at his disposal when he's being beat to death... still, power could be a bitch to resist.

The kid is lucky she's got some people here to keep her on the straight and narrow. A few more fuck ups like last night and she'd start a whole new series of witch hunts single handedly.


"Willow," Xander said, pain lacing his voice, "You've only got two choices here. Take the Whitelighter and accept his guidance... or..."

"Or what?" She asked timidly.

Xander took a breath and forced resolve into his face. "Or we bind your powers."

Willow looked at him in shock, and even Buffy and Giles were taken back. "What?"

"You heard me, Willow. I don't want to do it, but if you are so far gone that you can't even accept help... then your not giving us a lot of choice."

"I... i..." Willow stammered. "You can do that?"

Phoebe nodded, "We can... but we don't want to... Please believe me... I... I hate the idea of taking away someone's powers... it was done to me once... I spent my entire life living and feeling like something was missing from me... like I had a hole in my soul. Please. Take the help that's being offered."

Willow was quiet for a long time, absorbing the information she had just been given and the impact of the spell she had cast. Finally she raised her head, her face streaked with tears but showing resolve under the sorrow. "Ok... I'll... Accept help."

Xander reached down, his face creased in a pure smile for the first time that day, and pulled her up into his arms and whispered, "Thank you."

Buffy stepped in and soon Willow found herself being hugged by her two best friends.

Phoebe watched, a little melancholy, at the show of how deep the friendship went. When she glanced at Faith she could see that the scene had hit her even harder as the Dark Slayer watched with undisguised envy.

Rupert Giles smiled, looking at his three 'children', feeling pride at the outcome. Pride in all three of them. Good Show.

Crow shifted in his seat, looking undeniably bored now that the fireworks were over. Underneath his exterior was a markedly different reaction however. A lump that he simply could not force down had formed in his throat as he thought of his own family, and how close they had been before the Vampires came. He hardened his heart and kept his outward demeanor of uncaring boredom intact as he watched the scene before him.