Standard Disclaimers Apply

AN : The first four chapters of this story were part of last year's "Fall for S&X". I'm finishing up the 5th and writing an epilogue of sorts, and the whole thing should go up over the course of the week.

Warnings : implied and requested threesomes/moresomes.

-The Xanders-

"So, lemme get this straight. We combine you, Tara and Giles' mojo might, Anya's remaining link to the reality altering powers of vengeance demons and the dimension weakening powers of Dawn's Key-ness and then throw in a desire for something that can protect Dawn from Glory and see what we get?" Xander paced the Magic Box looking for support in the face of insanity.

Willow blushed. "The goal of the spell isn't just 'thrown in', this is a very old spell from a respectable source, the openness of the desired results allows the ritual to use our resources in the most powerful way possible, even if we wouldn't have known the outcome was an option before we started. It should bring us the best hope for Dawn."

"And I'm all in favor of protecting Dawn, we all know that. It's just an open ended desire for something that will solve our current problem... you do realize this is exactly how the X-Men ended up fighting Nimrod!" He coughed and blushed as the various blank looks informed him that no, no one else realized this nor had the slightest idea what a relevant point he had just made. "Anya! Lovely, formerly wish twisting girlfriend of mine, surely you can see the ways in which trawling the cosmos for something that can defeat a hellgod could go bad?"

The former demon nodded in a businesslike fashion. "Certainly unexpected side effects are a possibility when you make generalized wishes. While I would generally use a broad interpretation to make results as gruesome as possible, even I didn't expect the repercussions of Cordelia's wish when I granted it." She carefully restacked her money before turning to the credit card machine. "In this case the controlling force isn't malevolent, but it is highly chaotic, and we should probably expect some additional results besides what we want out of it."

"See? Open ended requests and chaos. Dangerous combo."

"As opposed to that safe and fluffy combination that is an insane and evil goddess?" Xander had almost forgotten Buffy, she had been so still, but now she was clearly ready to talk. "Look, I know you're trying to be voice of reason guy, and maybe this will leave us with some cleanup when the dust settles, but we are desperate! Too many people know about Dawn! You saw what Spike looked like when Glory was through with him, what if she had grabbed someone else?"

Giles looked as deeply offended as his British reserve would allow. "Are you implying that Spike is more dedicated to Dawn than the rest of us?"

"Of course not she's not, G-Man!" Amazing Donut-Boy powers of smoothing things over, activate! "But dedication is only one factor in resistance to interrogation, and well, not that I like to think about it, but between a fledgehood under Angelus, PT-ing himself back from a shattered spine and dealing with the chip for over a year, the Bleached Un-Menace pretty much has his Post-Doc in surviving torture. And while one of us might have held out, can you honestly say you would have had the physical reserves to get as far in escaping as he did?" He hated to see the defeat in the older man's eyes, but Xander had accepted his relative strength within the group long ago and others could too.

"No, I suppose you're right, though the first part of that sounded suspiciously like something you picked up one Halloween..."

"Heh, it's gotten so mixed in with war films and Tom Clancy books I'm never quite sure what's residual and what's Hollywood anymore." But the tense moment had passed, and he figured he might as well complete the round of concessions. "Okay, Buffy, you're right. Glory is the biggest danger we've ever seen, and that's saying something, so whatever horrible unexpected consequence comes out of this, we'll just defeat it eventually too. I'll put in my final vote for more focus even at the cost of power and consider myself overruled."

Buffy smiled her thanks and went to corner Willow on how exactly her sister's 'Key-ness' would be harnessed while Dawn slid up beside Xander. "So, speaking of Spike, how is he doing? Buffy won't let me visit him yet, and I don't know if it's squick from the 'bot or if she doesn't want me scared by how badly he was hurt."

With a brief thought to how much better the him-crush had been, he gave the teen a hug. "He's improving fast, I dropped by with some blood before I came here and he's already on his feet. If we didn't need you to be part of the ritual, Buffy would probably have you staying with him during it."

"So you think she still trusts him?"

"Dawn, you can always trust Spike to be Spike. And while that includes a truly impressive level of self centeredness and a frighteningly low level of impulse control, there's also the crazy loyalty part of the package that a select few get to benefit from. And you won the vampire guard dog lottery."

She shook her head firmly. "Buffy won it, I just get it by association. And I guess mom did too."

Xander matched her firm head shake and raised her a wagging finger. "No, Spike had that weird 'will you be my quarter my age mommy' thing going on even when he was full out evil and wanted to kill Buffy. It was actually pretty confusing. I think having a complete lunatic for a sire affected his brain." He saw Willow walking over to them and grasped the teen's arm. "Look, Dawnie, I'm hoping this spell will give us a mystical sword or a magic ring or a first edition copy of Defeating Hellgods For Dummies, but if it brings us someone or something alive instead, I want you to hightail it to Spike's crypt and stay with him until we figure out what we're dealing with, okay?"

She nodded and stepped over to the circle that the other participants were forming. Buffy paced and looked like she was ready to slay and Xander backed into a corner in the hopes of avoiding any magical backlash. He was supposed to be concentrating on the goal of the spell, but he found his mind replaying the conversation with Dawn, and forced it back on track as Willow and Tara completed their chant and all five in the circle spoke the not-calling-it-a-wish they had hammered out earlier.

"See our plight, the Hellgod Glory, her harm to innocents, her threat to Dawn, her danger to the world. Seek the solution in all that is, in all that could be, in all that was or will be. Bring the solution to us, bring it now!" A mote of light in the center of the group grew into a whirling ball and then suddenly expanded to six feet across, knocking the participants backwards. Xander ran to Dawn, helping her to her feet just as the light stilled, seemed to almost solidify and then blinked out, leaving two figures standing in the middle of the Magic Box.

"Dawn, go, just like I told you." Xander was amazed his voice worked.

"But that, that is-"

"Just go," he pushed her to the door and out into the sunlight. "I'll be there soon." The whole time he couldn't take his eyes off the newcomers. It was Spike, a Spike with black hair instead of blond and a different long black coat over a tight body suit that looked like a cross between a wetsuit and a superhero costume. But that barely registered beside the other figure, a man dressed similarly though with a brown motorcycle jacket and knee high swashbuckler style boots that enhanced the superhero look. A man with long brown hair, brown eyes and a paler, slightly younger looking version of the face that Xander saw every morning in the mirror.

"Bloody hell, Red sent us back too far!"

Xander was looking around the odd room at the collection of people and at first agreeing, but then, "I don't think so, Spike."

He got the ire of his sire aimed at him instead of the absent Willow for his troubles. "What else is there to think, Harris? That's your old slayer pal not to mention you and Red with heartbeats, I call that too far back!"

Oooh, 'Harris'. Spike was in a mood, and not the fun 'I have to act mad and punish you for being reckless, but we both know I had a great time' mood he normally got into. Damage control, stat! "Yeah, but me with a heartbeat is older, we're not at the library and I don't recognize either of those girls." He waved in the direction of the two strange blonds as he peeked behind a counter looking for a calendar. "Ah, see!" He triumphantly waved a handful of receipts. "May of 2001! We're right when we're supposed to be!" His triumph eased. "Which actually makes the 'me and Wills alive' thing even weirder, doesn't it?"

Spike was about to answer when Older, Tired Looking Buffy apparently decided she'd had enough of being ignored. "Look, I don't know or care where you're from," she said pulling a stake out of her belt and advancing towards Spike, "but you're supposed to be able to help, so unless you want to get up close and personal with Mr PointEEE!"

Her threat delivery was thrown off a bit when Spike simply grabbed her wrist, twisted it until she dropped the stake with a scream and kept twisting her around until she was neatly pinned against a shelf with her arm behind her back at nearly the breaking point. "Need a judge's ruling, Xanpet..." Yeah, not Harris anymore! "If I go back in time and kill a Slayer I already killed once, do I get to add her to my tally or not?"

Xander gave the matter some thought before responding. "I'm going to say no to 'number of Slayers killed' but yes to the secondary 'number of times you defeated a Slayer' count. Though this looks more like a suicide by vamp, if you ask me, was she even trying?" He was distracted by his own voice babbling a little hysterically.

"No chip! You got us a chipless Spike! How the hell is a chipless Spike and vamped me supposed to help us defeat Glory?"

"Oh, good, so Glory is around?" He walked up to his human self, figuring they should get some intel before this got any wackier. "You guys brought us here to fight Glory? Sounds fun, but we actually just need to steal something of hers."

"Well, not you specifically," human Willow was glancing rapidly between him and Spike, who had grabbed Buffy's other arm and immobilized her. "We were, um doing a ritual to draw on our powers and bring us someone or something that could help in the fight."

"Seriously?" Xander shook his head. "You were all 'here's our power, please get us anything that will solve the immediate problem'? I mean, this is exactly how the X-Men ended up dealing with Nimrod!"