Xander fell and rolled across the floor revealing a split lips as he got to his feet. Xander stood fists up like boxing waiting for the masked man to make his next move. When he doesn't Xander goes for a right cross that man easily catches and counters with a knee to Xander's stomach and his own right cross to the face. Seemingly knocking the former carpenter out.

The masked figure looked down on Xander well he was always the joke of the group but still he put up more a fight then he thought he would. The masked figure looked at Xander and grabbed him by the hair yanking him up only to shout out in pain as a knife punches through the flesh of his leg.

Xander smiled twisting the blade in his opponent's leg the oldest trick in the book. He watches as the masked figures eyes turned yellow. "I knew it!"

The masked figure punches Xander in the face as Xander rolled over to his weapons collecting them ready to fight again.

Xander looked at him. "So that's how the great Twilight is immortal."

Twilight groaned in pain as he pulled the knife out of his leg. "I should really learn to do the damage and get it done. But I haven't had a decent brawl in three hundred years. You don't actually think you can win this do you?"

Xander looked at him with a cold stare. "You're the one lead I have on Buffy. I know I can."

Twilight dodged Xander's tomahawk attack with his staff and caught the gun with his free hand. Xander wasted no time and kicked him in the balls wobbling him for a moment as Xander tried to club him in the face with his pistol but Twilight got his staff up in a straight line and blocked it. Xander acted fast and brought his axe down breaking the staff in half and kicking Twilight in the chest knocking him back and punching him in the face as the masked demon fell to the floor.

Twilight just tossed both broken sticks aside he's done playing childish games. Xander rushed him and he effortlessly stepped aside and caught Xander's arm mid swing and not wasting a moment grabbed his hand and easily broke his arm from an old high school injury as Xander drops his axe.

Xander tried his other arm but Twilight caught it and twisted it forcing him to drop the gun. Xander looked at the vampire and was quickly dropped to the floor with a headbutt as blood started flowing from his nose.

Twilight smiled and held the tomahawk in his hands getting a grip on the weapon. "Custom made right, the girls in Africa loved their watcher. But you're in the black now you should learn to let go of the past." Twilight throws the weapon to the sky as it quickly disappears out of sight.

Twilight turns back and sees Xander try to tackle him but he steps out of the way easily. Xander tries to sweep his leg with a calf kick but the vampire jumped and quickly caught Xander's one good arm and countered with a punch of his own and pulled him to a knee to the stomach and effortlessly knocked Xander down by clothes lining his legs leaving him none to stand on.

Twilight pointed at him. "Stay down and tell me where the witch is or I'll break you in half."

Xander got to his feet and made one last mad dash for the vampire. Twilight kneed him in the stomach and heard something break as it drove all the air of him and hit him in the back of the head one last time knocking him down and out. Twilight smiled and hoisted the carpenter up over his head.

Twilight sensed the witch coming this way. She'll be here just in time to see him die. Twilight's now human eyes widen when he sees just who the witch is as Willow heads at him full speed. "Oh hell"

Willow wraps herself in a mystical barrier and collides into the vampire like a missile forcing him to drop Xander as he rolls on the floor in pain. If he still breathed he'd bet he'd be gasping for breath right now.

Willow ran over to Xander and looked at him his one good eye is swelling some of his ribs are broken and he's bleeding all over the place from the face. "Xander… Xander wake up don't you dare leave me here alone."

"I-I'd never dream of it." Xander weakly quipped.

Willow smiled until she saw Twilight getting back to his feet. Willow got Xander's arm under her and tried to pull him up but no go. There's a cave not that far from here and that should serve her purposes. Willow surrounded Xander in mystical energy and easily pulled him up because he's too heavy to fly with as dead weight Twilight will catch them. "On your feet soldier… ON YOUR FEET!"

Xander weakly hopped along with Willow as Twilight finally recovered and gave chase walking behind them.

The crew made it back to Serenity as Zoe looked on seeing them carry in the shipment but Jayne looked troubled.

Mal looked at Zoe. "What's going on? Where are the others?"

Twilight entered the cave looking for what is likely the last two council members. He looked around calmly and let his nose take over. He smiled smelling Xander but the one eyed man quickly took the opportunity to shoot him from the the cave as the man approached. Xander put his gun away and tried for a stake but was easily hoisted up by his throat as he dropped it. Xander moved his one good arm with everything he had but all he could do was rip something off of Twilight's sleeve as the vampire threw him into the cave wall as he slammed into it and hit the ground. He'll be easier to interrogate then Ms. Rosenberg. Twilight kicked him in the side so hard he soared through the air and out of the cave and gasped for breath.

Twilight went further into the cave and saw a fireball go for him but quickly go straight up and hit the ceiling. Twilight entered the cavern Willow was in as she continued her barrage of fireballs energy balls and lightning getting more desperate by the moment.

Twilight looked at her while calmly walking to her and held up a medallion. "Have you forgotten witch I'm immune to your powers."

Willow had a simple smile looking up at what she did. "Oh I'm counting on it."

Twilight looked up and saw all the damage Willow's mystical attacks have done to the ceiling as the red headed witch quickly moves her hand and causes a tremor as all the debris starts falling down leveling the cave.

Twilight jumped over and tackled the witch to the floor pinning her down. "Are you insane? You'll bury us both."

"No I won't." Willow smiled at him. "You're immune to my powers remember." Willow teleported out and Twilight remained silent as he was hit by falling rocks.

Willow emerged out the cave and quickly hit the ceiling of the entrance with a fireball causing a cave in. She walked over to Xander and helped him up. He's definitely looked better.

"Did you kill him?" Xander asked.

Willow shakes her head she's no slayer and Twilight is very well protected against her magic so a strength spell won't work. "No, but it will be a couple days before he causes trouble again."

Willow got Xander over her shoulder and supported him as they went back for the ship.

Xander looked at the cave and frowned. "You realize we probably just buried any chance we had of finding out about what happened to Buffy right?"

Willow nodded exhausted. "What can I say I'd rather have you in the present, and then learn about the past? So did masked man tell you anything useful?"

Xander hopped along. "Actually yes, Twilight is a vampire and I think he works for these guys."

Willow held out her hand as Xander put what he took from Twilight into it a little company patch from his jacket. "Blue sun… I'll look into it when we get back on board."

Willow smiled seeing Serenity right above them and floating down as the door opened as Jayne and Mal came out. Jayne went right over to Xander and took him off Willow as he helped him to the infirmary.

Mal looked at the two recruits he has to say these two are full of surprises Xander looks like he stepped on a mine but Willow doesn't have a scratch on her. "So what happened to your masked friend Zoe told us about?"

"He's contained for now… he'll get free but not for two or three days." Willow answered. "You want to throw us off we wouldn't blame you."

Mal looked at her even before this she was having a rough day they don't need any more coming down on them besides the way the Tams were freaked out that guy was definitely Alliance. "Get on board Mrs. Cobb."

Willow glared at him but it was a happy glare as she got on board followed by Mal as Serenity closed up and went to the black.

Kaylee exited the infirmary and looked at River she never left his sight but she never went into the room either. "He's going to be OK. Why don't you go in sweetie between Jayne and the Captain nothing will hurt you in there."

River nodded. "He got you a compression coil it's in his bag in the cargo room." River went to the room and Kaylee smiled hearing that it's been six months since she wanted to get it replaced.

River walked into the room and looked to her brother as Mal and Willow came in.

"So what's the word is he going to live?" Mal asked.

Simon nodded looking over his injuries. "Whoever did this was a professional. He did plenty of damage but nothing life threatening he cracked some ribs and a broken arm along with a lot of bruises but nothing permanent. What concerns me are the injuries he already has."

They all look down on Xander and it's a wide array of scars on him. Book even mutters in Mandarin a bit from the sight as Inara looks away, to Jayne they mostly look like knife wounds and deep cuts.

Simon looks at Xander's arm. "This arm has been broken twice already."

Willow nodded. "First time was when Buffy's ex boyfriend Angel sent a gang on PCP after us. I got a nice concussion from it."

"And the second time he broke his arm?" Simon asked.

Willow smiled looking down at him. "Oh he was dating a girl named Anya. Her ex boyfriend was so insane he was trying to get him to choose who to kill me or her. Xander chose neither of us to stall for time and Olaf broke his arm for it."

Mal looked at the kid silently earning a mark of respect for him. "So why was he attacked today."

"The same reason as before." River answered. "The masked man went after me and Willow he chose neither."

Simon looked at River. "Wait the guy that attacked you might have been alliance."

River nodded but focused on Xander. "He never chose and he never would."

Inara looked at Xander then Willow. She knows there is much more then that but right now they want to keep quiet… so they're definitely on the right ship for it. "So is that guy going to come back?"

Willow shakes her head. "Not anytime soon, he's after me but an ex boyfriend taught me how to avoid him."

Jayne looked at her curiously. "What's this about a boyfriend reckon you were sly?"

Willow shrugged. "I didn't know I liked girls yet."

Inara looked at the redhead carefully. She wonders why she's so obsessed with labels, Inara wonders if she even knows she's just bisexual. "So what can we do?"

Mal looked to the crew. "Ain't much we can do now I wager, just let the doc do his work. All of you have jobs to do or places to be get to them."

Willow walked into a different room deciding to let Xander sleep after Simon doped him and saw Jayne leaning on the catwalk. Mal told her about the events of Jayne day and the person that got killed saving Jayne's life. Willow walked over then leaned on the railing keeping her husband company.

Jayne looked at his wife and was trying to make sense of what happened out there. "Don't make no sense. What...Why the hell did that Mudder have to go and do that for, wife? Jumping in front of that shotgun blast. Hell, there weren't a one of them understood what happened out there. They're probably sticking that statue right back up."

Willow shrugged. "It was probably back up before we even left."

"I don't know why it eats at me so." Jayne replied having sent others to die in his place before.

Willow patted Jayne on the shoulder and gently rubbed it trying to do something for him. "The last place Xander was in before we started moon hopping was a barren land. I came by, and by freak chance it suddenly started to rain. Woke up the next day everyone was worshiping me. Which I am as far away from deserving of it as you get I killed people and I nearly killed a girl who was like a daughter to me twice. Also at our house in Rome there was a mural for four guys worshiping them as heroes when we got there when the truth was all they did was traumatize a teenage girl called Sineya so bad they made River look like Kaylee. How I have it figure out every statue was a bad guy at some point or in some view. It's not about you Jayne it's about what they need."

"Don't make no sense." Jayne repeated.

Willow looked at him she's seen enough death to know that. "It never does."

Xander opened his eye feeling miserable but the bright side was he stayed conscious until doc sedated him so it doesn't count as a knock out. OK why can't he feel his arms he knows broke one but he should still be able to use the other one. He looks down and sees clear as day why River fell asleep on it.

River opens her eyes and smiles seeing Xander awake. "You came back."

Xander smile looking at her. "You stayed with me I thought you hated the infirmary?"

"You were very quiet and it was very peaceful." River replied thankful for the quiet even if it was here.

Xander nodded looking at her knowing she's still uncomfortable here. "Well I'm awake now you don't have to stay here."

River smacked him in his good arm. "In sickness and in health bundun."

Xander looked at her, his crazy blunt wife. "Well thank you for staying with me Kaylee told me you hate this place."

"Protected me from the shadow. I couldn't see him because he was a vampire right?" River asked.

Xander thought on it but wasn't sure what to say. "Honestly you have to ask Will on that one."

River leaned back with Xander being careful to avoid the ribs Twilight cracked in their fight as she rubbed against him snuggling close. Xander did anything to take his mind off it flashing back to what Buffy picked up when she was a mind reader.

River calmly looked at him and finished. "Ninety eight bottles of beer on the wall."

Xander laughed and then quickly held his ribs. "Oh god don't make me laugh, don't make me laugh." He pleaded as she smiled taunting him well if he ever needed an answer to the reader question he got it. He watched River stand up getting out of the bed. Xander fought through a bit of pain and grabbed River by the arm. "Thank you for staying with me."

River smiled and ran a hand over his face. "You protected me like a good husband and you make me smile."

Xander cupped her face in his one good hand. "Couldn't let you get taken away." Their faces get closer and he realizes what's about to happen. "We should really sto…" The next words and thoughts were taken out of Xander's mind as he felt River's lips press against his own wanting entrance.

Willow came down to the infirmary with a smile talking to Kaylee. Both girls look into the infirmary and were taken back seeing River kissing Xander his one good arm pulling her closer as their tongues entwine. Willow had a quiet knowing smile and Kaylee looked some what upset.

Willow looked at the mechanic just like Simon. "You can't be serious… River is a full grown woman."

"No, it's not that." Kaylee assured her in a little weakened whine. "It's just three weeks and they're already kissin' meanwhile four months with the doc now and I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries! Those two are going to consummate the marriage before Simon even makes a gorram move."

Willow scratched her head she is trying to think of the right thing to say but she has nothing. "Well… let's just say hello for now and take some pleasure in breaking up the smoochies since the rest of the crew is coming. And give them a hard time about it later."

Kaylee and Willow enter as Xander and River quickly detach.

Xander looked down and saw a bottle in Kaylee's hand. "Hey Kaylee… what's that?"

Kaylee looked at the bottle and gave her usual smile as she remembers why she was coming with Willow ahead of everyone else in the first place. "Oh this, it's a present for the coil and the strawberries in the wooden box."

"Well at least I'll have something to disinfect the wounds with." Xander quipped.

"Don't knock it." Kaylee warned its better then most of the stuff out here.

Xander smiled. "What the alcohol can disinfect me from the inside, thank you Kaylee."

Willow had a smile putting something down as she had her own idea.

Xander looked and saw the research computer thing that he ditched for River. "Research, Will there's a lot of other ways to say get well soon."

Willow looked at him with a light resolve. "Like I'd be so cruel it's all of your favorite books and movies just a click away."

Xander smiled. "You have and will always be my goddess."

"I try." Willow replied.

"Wait won't this get us in trouble with Twilight?" Xander asked

Willow shakes her head. "I did it while we were leaving Canton he won't be able to track it."

Xander nodded. "Just one last thing… what did you put Jurassic Park on?"

Willow rolled her eyes. "Movie and book I know it's your favorite."

Mal came in at that last part with the rest of the crew wanting to know what they're dealing with. "What's Jurassic Park?"

Willow and Xander share significant looks with each other. Xander had a smile he has seen this movie enough times to spin it. "It's a movie and a book set on a central planet where some rich bundun had it in his head to resurrect the dinosaurs."

River had a smile and laughed. "Sorry, lawyer got eaten on the toilet by a T-Rex."

Xander chuckled but held his side regretting it. "That's my favorite part too."

"Can I borrow it when you're done?" Wash asked to Zoë's annoyance.

Xander went to get up but found he was easily held down by Simon. "Well, this is embarrassing."

"I want you to spend the night in the infirmary in case your injuries are worse then they appear."

"Aye, aye Doc." Xander replied.

Mal looked at him. "Speaking of your injuries care to tell us about the man who gave them to you?"

Xander turned to Willow and she whispered in his mind. 'We can't tell them that Twilight is at least five hundred years old.'

'Well we gotta tell them something.' Xander pointed out.

Mal has seen enough of this for the past three weeks. "No, no more eye conversations speak with your mouths reckon that's what they're there for."

Xander looked at the captain. "His name is well… we don't really know but he calls himself Twilight also he seemed a lot weaker then he was back home. That was like the diet coke version of Twilight."

Zoe looked at Xander and can see the soldier look in his eye. "And where is home exactly."

Willow was set to go on a ramble. "Well something bad very bad happened and…"

Xander managed to get his arm up and stop the rant by putting it over her mouth. "No more rambling today huh Will. Home is a sore subject for us. So can we just drop it."

Mal frowned but buried it for now. Though something isn't right about them. "So what does your friend want?"

"Me" Willow answered solemnly. Even with their planet gone it seems that Twilight is still trying to bring about the end of magic.

Mal looked at her. "Will he find you again?"

Willow shakes her head. "No, now that I know he's still alive I know how to stay hidden."

Mal nodded they're all running from something in one way or another. "We'll let you patch yourselves up then."

Xander leaned back with River and started the movie as the two were left alone in the infirmary. Simon was the last one but with all of Xander's injuries he knew nothing could happen tonight.

Wash came in to the dining hall a couple weeks later. They had dropped off Cargo and collected new things and new cargo as he came in and heard the group having one big dinner together sharing a laugh from a story by Shepherd Book. "I want to hear about the natty thing." Wash says as he sits down next to his wife. "What was natty?"

"Shepard Book was just telling us funny stories bout his days at the monastery." Kaylee explained.

"Monastic humor, I miss out on all the fun." Wash complained looking down at the empty serving dishes. "And all the food apparently…"

"Just who do you think you're married to?" Zoe said as she pulls a napkin off a plate to reveal it full of food.

"I love my wife." Wash gushes as he starts eating.

"So, we gotta course set?" Mal asked.

"We do. Took a little creative navigating, but we should make it all the way to Greenleaf without running afoul of any Alliance patrols. Or a single living soul, for that matter." Wash answered.

"Good." Mal replied finally embracing some peace. "How it should be."

"Course what should be an 18 hour trip is gonna take the better part of a week." Wash added.

"We're in no rush." Mal replied. "I like an easy, languorous journey."

Kaylee laughed wondering who this guy is. "What would that be like, I wonder?" Kaylee starts to clear the dishes off the table.

"Let me help you with that." Simon said as he starts to stand up.

"I got it." Kaylee replied, indicating that he should sit down. "Who's next?"

Mal turns to look at Willow and Xander. "I think our new recruits should tell us a story."

Willow was nervous but is trying to find a story that doesn't involve the d word so much. "Oh… OK, well on our moon there was a musical medallion."

Xander's eye widened as he turned to Willow. "That's the story you're going with?"

"It's funny." Willow defended her choice.

"It's embarrassing." Xander countered. "Will, the more people you tell that story to the more people I have to kill."

Willow ignored him and turned to the others. She likes the story more that she knows the actual truth now. "Well anyway there was a medallion on our moon that legend had that if you used it you would have to marry this ugly baron. And unknown to us Dawn who was like a little sister and a daughter to us had stolen the medallion because she was going through this klepto phrase and used it."

Xander turned to River. "I thought I told her to stop."

River stared at him and kissed him on the cheek. "It's a good story."

Xander saw Simon and the doctor just let it go for now of course he also doesn't know they moved on to actual kissing either. So all he had to do was fight a big bad, break an arm, and dislocate a few ribs while protecting River. If he knew that he would have done this a lot earlier.

"So anyway as it ends up the whole baron thing was true and of course Dawn didn't want to go through with it. So when the baron showed up to collect Xander just put his hand up and said it was him to protect Dawnie."

Xander groaned seeing the whole crew burst into laughter.

Inara looked at him laughing. "What did you do when he showed up?"

"What do you think I did?" Xander asked now with a smile of his own. "I stood there and prayed he wasn't sly."

Wash was cracking up at the story. "Xander, you would make a very nice manwife. So the guy never made a try for Dawn."

"Dawn's big sister is...was was unbelievably scary. He probably just tried to save face and fled." Xander replied.

They all watch as the lights flicker on and off and Mal turns to his engineer. "Alright little Kaylee what was that?"

They all turned to Kaylee and Simon saw something resembling a birthday cake. "No biggee Captain everything's shiny. Serenity is just reacting since I switched out the compression coils an hour ago."

They all nod and go back to dinner celebrating Simon's birthday as Kaylee brings out a birthday cake.

Author's notes

Thanks for the reviews

If Mal didn't dig hard at Book's past I see him doing the same for Xander and Willow.

I know, I know Xander did it in cannon but Xander hated magic thanks to the roofie spirit. He snapped at Willow for the delusting spell among other things so I figured while Xander wouldn't Dawn who was doing anything to get Buffy to notice her would and Xander lied to cover for her. And since Spike had just gotten Buffy to just exist until she was ready to live again Sweet took the out and left.