Giles took a sip of coffee and made a face at the taste of the vile brew. He hated coffee, but his usual tea just didn't have enough caffeine to keep him going today. The Watcher hadn't had much sleep the night before. Actually, if he were being honest, he hadn't had any sleep.

Dark dreams and disturbing nightmares assaulted his subconscious mind every time he fell asleep. He’d finally given up around four a.m., and gotten up. He’d been drinking coffee ever since. Giles drained his mug and slammed it down on the counter. “Abominable stuff.” he muttered. He checked the clock again, it was only nine a.m., this was going to be a very long day.


Willow muttered a small incantation under her breath, silencing the annoying buzz coming from her alarm clock. One bleary eye opened and strained to focus. Nine o’clock. Willow groaned and pulled the pillow over her head. She had class in less than an hour and she while she was normally excited about learning new things, sitting through a lecture was the last thing she wanted to do today.

Groaning, she rolled out of bed and staggered to the door, only remembering at the last minute that she need to put some clothes on before she went out into the hall. Willow grabbed a pair of sweats off the chair and managed to get one leg in before she had to slump against the wall to hold herself up. After several aborted tries, she finally finished getting dressed and headed for the shower, hoping hot water pounding on her head would wake her up and erase the remnants of her nightmares from her mind.


Buffy bounced out of bed and pounded on Dawn’s door. “Get up! You’re going to be late!” she yelled before heading downstairs to make a pot of coffee. She stared at the machine, silently willing it to work faster. Once she took her first sip, she sighed, “Caffeine, there is a God.” The Slayer finished her coffee and started making breakfast. For some reason, nightmares always made her hungry.


Giles had had enough. The nightmares were getting increasingly disturbing, something had to be done. The Watcher paced the floor, impatiently waiting for the others to arrive. And when they finally did arrive, Giles had his answer, he wasn't the only one having bad dreams.

Willow’s face was pale and dark circles shadowed her eyes while Buffy was jittery and couldn't sit still for more than a minute at a time. Only Xander appeared to be unaffected, which in its self was disturbing, particularly since Xander was the star of his nightmares.


Giles hemmed and hawed, and managed to say absolutely nothing. Willow was so tired that her usually cheerful nature was nowhere in sight. “Giles, just sit down and spit it out. I’m too damned tired to deal with you right now.”

“Wills!” Xander blurted out, “What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m tired, Xander. I’m beyond tired. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since Tara went to that conference a week ago, and now I’m having nightmares every night.”

Xander awkwardly patted his friend on the back, “I’m sorry, Willow. What are they about? Sometimes it helps to talk about nightmares.”

Willow’s face went red, “Uh, no. I don’t think talking about it would help this time.” Willow stared into Xander’s eyes, “Have you been having any weird dreams lately Xander?”

“Nope. I've been sleeping like a baby, which is really strange because I usually have nightmares a couple of times a week. But ever since Anya left with Tara, I've been sleeping for eight hours every night.”

Giles looked at Buffy and asked a question with his eyes. “Yep, I've been having nightmares too, they’re not fun, but I’m used to having bad dreams. I’m guessing that you’re having them too.”

Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his aching eyes. “Yes, I've been having them for a while now.” Giles looked up at Xander, not wanting to say anything in front of the boy. “Xander, I’m exhausted, would you mind running over to the coffee shop and getting me an espresso?”

Xander grinned, “Anyone else got a request? The Xan-man is on the job.” Buffy and Willow both asked for latte’s and Giles handed Xander some money and sent the boy on his way.

Once the door closed behind Xander Giles turned to look at the two girls. “Are you both dreaming about Xander?”

“Yeah.” Buffy said quietly. “And a man, but he’s not really a man.”

Willow nodded, “Me too. The man who’s not a man keeps saying that if we give him a sacrifice he'll go away and not destroy the world. Then I see Xander wrapped in chains…”

“And then we take him to the Hellmouth where the man is waiting and hand him over. The man takes Xander and steps into the Hellmouth with him. The Hellmouth closes, and never opens again.” Giles said in a monotone, almost as if he were reciting a script.

Willow’s red eyes welled with tears, “What are we doing to do? We can’t give Xander to that guy. Can we?”


Xander bounced into the shop, juggling the coffee and a bag of donuts, “Donut boy is back, we've got espresso, latte’s and a mocha java for me. Along with several jelly-filled, éclairs, etc.” Xander looked up and found his friends staring at him, “What’s wrong, did I forget something?”

Giles stood up and took the drink carrier out of Xander’s hands, “No, Xander. I’m sure you didn't forget anything. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

“Ooookay, G-Man. Whatever you say.”


Giles met Buffy and Willow outside the high school and the three of them entered the remains of the building together. They made their way down the hall, and into the old library, each one struck by the memories of how much time they had spent in this room.

Buffy noticed their visitor first and nudged Giles. “He’s here.”

The ‘man’ was leaning against the back wall, casually smoking a cigarette. He looked perfectly normal, mid length black hair, dark eyes and wearing a black suit.

He smiled when he realized that he had their attention and threw the still smoking butt on the floor before stamping it out. “I've been waiting for you, it took you long enough. I was being to think that I was going to have to come to you. Believe me, you wouldn't have enjoyed that.” The man waved his hand and three chairs appeared, “Please, have a seat. There’s no need to stand on formality with me.”

Buffy glared at the man, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’d rather stand, thank you.”

Buffy, Willow and Giles suddenly found themselves sitting in the chairs, the man smiled sarcastically, “I’m afraid I must insist. Let’s get down to cases, shall we?”

“Who are you? And what do you want with Xander?” Giles asked forcibly.

“What I want with the boy is none of your concern. As for who I am, just call me Lucifer.”

“Do you really expect us to believe that you’re Lucifer? As in Satan?” Willow asked incredulously.

Lucifer shrugged, “I have many names and it doesn't matter what you believe, only what I'll do if I don’t get what I want. And I want the boy.”

“Why? What use could Xander possibly be to you?” Buffy asked angrily.

Lucifer shrugged, “He’s an unmarked innocent, that’s very rare in this day and age.”

Lucifer smirked fondly in remembrance. “People used to sacrifice innocents to me all the time, it’s been centuries since that happened. Now all I get are the corpses of innocents. Why would anyone think that a corpse would do me any good? Can humans possibly be that dense?”

“What are you talking about?” Giles asked.

“If you kill a marked innocent, his soul is taken by the Light. It doesn't matter what kind of incantation is spoken, or what kind of dedication is made, all I end up with is a corpse. And believe me, there are plenty of them around, I don’t need people giving them to me.”

“Well, you just made a mistake. Xander isn't an innocent. He’s not a virgin, he’s done things to hurt people and he’s killed.” Buffy said triumphantly.

Lucifer shook his head, “’s amazing how little humans actually know these days. For your information, Slayer, none of the things Xander has done in his life were done for the purpose of his own gain. He was always thinking of the greater good, not himself.”

Lucifer lit a cigarette and blew the smoke in Willow’s face, making the young witch cough and gag. “Like when he kissed you, Willow. He was planning on taking on that vampire to give you time to escape, he just wanted to say goodbye the only way he knew how.”

Willow fidgeted in her chair, "What about the time he blackmailed Amy into doing a love spell for him and it went wrong? That was a bad."

Lucifer laughed joyously, "Oh, that was good, but it just goes to prove my point. He had every woman in town panting after him, each one just dying to spread her legs and give him anything he wanted. He could have had any one of them. Hell, he could have had all of them, but he refused them, each and every one, and almost got himself killed trying to do the right thing."

“What about what he did to Angel? He told me that Willow said to send him straight to Hell, he lied. She never said that. He never liked Angel and he was happy when I sent him to Hell.”

Lucifer cracked up laughing, “Ah, yes. The great Angelus, I remember him well. Angelus deserved to come to Hell, he was intent on destroying the world and young Xander knew you wouldn't be strong enough to do what needed to be done without a little push. If you had done your job when Angelus first returned, Slayer, how many lives could have been saved? Five? Ten? A hundred? Even now, minions from Angelus’ line are wrecking havoc on your city. And you can place the blame on no one but yourself, if you had been a good little girl and kept your clothes on, Angelus never would have returned in the first place.”

Buffy reacted in her typical fashion, she attacked.

Lucifer put one hand on her forehead and held her away from him. She punched and kicked and yelled, but only managed to make herself look like an idiot. Lucifer finally had enough entertainment and thrust her back into her chair.

"Do not ever try that again, Slayer. There is no way you can possibly beat me." Lucifer said as he smirked at her.

“Well, the Powers that Be took Angel away from you and brought him back to me, so you can’t be that tough.” Buffy said defiantly.

“Oh, really. For your information, Slayer, I sent Angelus back. I couldn't stand to listen to him for another hour. Listening to his confessions for years on end was driving me insane. And he upset my demons. Have you ever heard an Angel cry, Slayer? No. I know you haven’t. Humans die at the sound of an Angel’s sorrow. Hearing a demon cry is infinitely worse.”

Buffy opened her mouth again, but Giles slapped his hand over it before she could say anything to make the situation any worse than it already was. “Why would you think that we would turn Xander over to you?”

Lucifer shrugged, “Because you can’t hope to defeat the God you call Glory. She’s been around for almost as long as I have. If I tell her to leave, she will. I am probably the only being she’s afraid of, even HE doesn't frighten her. Glory will leave, the Hellmouth will stay closed and the Key will be safe.”

Lucifer grabbed Buffy by the chin when he saw the expression on her face. “Did you think I wouldn't know about your little sister? Please, I’m Lucifer, I know everything. Do as I ask and humanity will survive, and all for the cost of a single human life.”

Lucifer smiled, “I'll leave you now and give you time to think about my offer. You have two days. And I want the boy alive, he's no good to me dead.” Lucifer turned and walked back to the edge of the Hellmouth.

“Wait!” Giles called. “What will happen if we refuse?”

Lucifer laughed, “Why, all Hell will break loose.”


Xander walked into the Magic Shop, “Okay, you can all relax, the Xan-man is here. What kind of demon needs to be killed today? And how long will it take? There’s an anime special coming on at seven and I don’t want to miss it.” Xander looked around, “Hey, Giles, where is everyone?”

Giles pulled out a chair, “Have a seat, Xander. There’s something I need to tell you.”


Xander waited for Giles to finish before he said anything. “Giles, are you stoned?”

Giles sighed in frustration, “Xander, this is serious. If we don’t give Lucifer what he wants, he'll release Hell on Earth.”

“Yeah, so what else is new? This is Sunnydale, the home of the Hellmouth. It’s Hell here everyday.”

“This is different, Xander. This is Lucifer himself, the Prince of Darkness, the King of Hell. The..."

"Yeah, yeah. I get that. But how do you know it was really Lucifer? It could have been a demon in disguise or something. Besides, even if it was Lucifer, why would you believe anything he said? Isn't he called the Father of Lies?"

Giles slump down into a chair and buried his head in his hands, “Xander, I don’t know what to tell you. I believed him, as did Buffy and Willow. We've looked through all of the books and Prophecies, he can‘t be defeated. Lucifer is eternal, even God won‘t destroy him because it would upset the balance.”

Xander stood up suddenly, causing his chair to fall over backwards, “Well, he’s just going to have to get used to disappointment. I am not going to be given to him as a present.” Xander said as he stalked towards the door.

“Xander, where are you going?”

Xander stopped with his hand on the doorknob. “You should have told me about this sooner, I would have had more time.”

“More time for what?”

“To go out and make sure I’m not an innocent anymore. If I’m not an innocent, then Lucifer won’t want anything to do with me and he'll go away.”

Buffy pushed open the door and hit Xander over the head, knocking him out instantly. “Sorry, Xander, but we can’t let you do that.”


Xander groaned and swallowed heavily, the nausea in his gut making him wish he'd stayed unconscious. He tried to move, but his arms didn't seem to be working right. Xander managed to open one eye and the first thing he saw was the chains that were holding him prisoner. Xander tugged experimentally, but they didn't budge.

Willow came into the back room when she heard the chains rattle. Kneeling down, she put one hand on Xander's knee. "Are you okay, Xander?"

"My head hurts. Can you get these chains off of me?" He asked petulantly.

Willow sighed and sat back on her heels, "I'm sorry, Xander, but I can't let you go."

"Why not?"

"I don't like this either, Xander, but we don't know what else to do." Willow said tiredly.

Xander moved as far away from her as the chains would allow. "We've been best friends since we were five and you're going to let them do this to me? Get the fuck away from me, I can't believe I ever thought you were my friend."

Willow's eyes welled up with tears and she reached out to him, but Xander kicked out at her with his bound feet. Willow scrambled out of the way, "Xander, please..."

Xander closed his eyes, "Go away. I don't want to see you."

"I'm so very sorry, Xander, but we can't let him open up the Hellmouth. And with out his help, there's no way we can hope to defeat Glory. Dawn will die and Glory will get the Key. The entire human race is at stake, Xander. Don't you want to help prevent that?

Xander stubbornly shook his head. "We don't know that the entire human race is in danger. You're just taking the word of someone you don't even know. Tell me, did you even try to find another way? Other than wrapping me up like a present?"

"Xander, of course we tried." Willow said brokenly. "But he only gave us two days, there's not enough time to try anything else. I hope you can forgive us someday."

"Don't hold your breath. I seriously doubt I'm going to be alive long enough to forgive anybody."

Willow burst into tears and ran into the other room. Xander could hear voices, but couldn't find the energy to care. He heard footsteps come near him, but he kept his eyes closed.

"Xander, please, try to understand..." Giles said quietly.

Xander opened blurry eyes and glared at the Watcher. "Understand what G-Man? That you and my so-called friends are nothing more than a bunch of cowardly back-stabbers? Unless you're planning on letting me go, get away from me. The sight of you is making me sick to my stomach."

Giles closed his eyes for a moment then turned and walked out, leaving Xander alone again.


Cordelia grabbed her head and screamed in pain. Angel got to her first and carefully lowered her to the floor. They waited impatiently for her to come back to her senses and tell them what horrifying vision she'd been subjected to this time.

Cordelia's voice was weak when she finally spoke. "We have to go to Sunnydale, before it's too late. Please, God, don't let us be too late."


Xander stumbled over a chunk of plaster lying on the floor, he would have fallen but Buffy grabbed the chains binding his arms to his body and hauled him to his feet. He staggered along behind them, his mind in shock. He kept hoping that he'd wake up and this would all be a horrible nightmare, but the sick feeling in his stomach told him that this was all too real.

He tried to pull away from Buffy, but she kept too tight a grip on the chains. They made it into the library all too soon. Xander wanted to burst into tears and beg, but he wouldn't give them the satisfaction.

An indolent voice finally forced him to raise his eyes. "Well, I see you decided to play it smart, but are the chains really necessary?"

Xander glared at the man who claimed to be Lucifer, "I wasn't exactly thrilled to find out that my friends were planning on giving me up as a snack to some lunatic that claims to be Satan."

Lucifer grinned, "You have a sense of humor, that's good. You're going to need it." Extended his hand he said, "Come to me."

Xander didn't move and Buffy pushed him towards the Hellmouth. He landed on his knees at Lucifer's feet, the rubble on the floor cutting into his knees. He glared over his shoulder at the Slayer, "I should have let you die when the Master tried to drown you."

Buffy's face turned pale, but she didn't say anything.

Lucifer tilted Xander's head back and looked him in the eye, snarling, he raised his furious gaze towards the Slayer. "What did you do to him? He's bleeding inside his brain!"

Buffy shrugged, "I had to stop him from leaving."

Lucifer growled under his breath, "I'll deal with you later." Pressing a hand to Xander's head, he searched out the damaged vessels and repaired them with a thought. In seconds, the pain pounding inside Xander's skull vanished.

Xander looked up at his captor, the man was at least couple of inches taller than him, and well muscled, but he didn't look evil or demonic. Definitely nothing like he'd imagined Satan would look. "Where's the horns and tail?"

Lucifer grinned and Xander could see flames dancing in the man's eyes. "Ssshhh, I'm in disguise."

Xander gulped, unable to control his panic any longer. "Are you going to kill me?" He whispered.

Lucifer shook his head, "No, but you may wish that I would have." Lucifer picked Xander up and turned him to face his friends. "Do you want to say goodbye?"

Xander squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, flinging the tears running down his face onto the floor.

Lucifer squeezed his shoulder, "I understand that. I'm sorry it had to be this way, Xander. It's time to leave now."

"Wait!" Giles yelled and Xander felt a sudden surge of hope, he knew Giles wouldn't just give him up like this. "What about Glory? You said you would force her to leave."

The hope Xander had been feeling died a quick death.

Lucifer nodded once, "So I did. Very well, you kept your part of the bargain, so I'll keep mine."

Lucifer called out a name that a human voice wouldn't have been able to produce. Glory appeared hovering in mid air then fell on her ass on the floor. Snarling, she bounced to her feet. "What the fuck..." Seeing Lucifer, she stopped suddenly and paled. "What are you doing here?"

"I've made a bargain with these mortals. You will leave this realm; now. Do not return here or your existence will be forfeit." Lucifer said calmly.

Glory frowned and stomped her foot on the floor, causing small chunks of debris to fall from what was left of the ceiling. "That's not fair! They have the Key and I want it!"

Lucifer shook his head, "Do not test me on this, Glory. I will win, as you well know. Return to your own realm, your people are becoming restless in your absence."

Glory pouted for a moment but then nodded her head. "Oh, all right. I'll leave. Ruling two realms would be a pain anyway." She stomped her way to the door, making sure to knock Buffy out of her chair on her way through.

Willow cautiously left her chair and took a step towards to the Hellmouth, "Xander, please, say you forgive me." She pleaded.

Xander looked at his oldest friend for the last time and shook his head, "Can't Willow."

Willow burst into tears, "Xander, I don't know if I can live with this."

Xander shrugged, "I don't really care, Willow. I hope you never find out how it feels to have your friends treat you this way, I really do."

The pain in Xander's eyes as he vanished with Lucifer would haunt them all for a very long time.


Giles returned to the Magic Box after making sure both the girls made it home safely. He knew that he wouldn't be getting any sleep tonight, so decided to start working on the inventory that he'd been putting off.

He headed into the storeroom and was shocked to see Anya standing there, counting the candles on the shelves.

"Anya? What are you doing here? I thought you weren't due back until Saturday."

Anya shrugged, "I got tired of answering questions so I came back early. Xander wasn't home so I came here. Where is my boyfriend anyway? Is he out patrolling with Buffy?"

Giles took the clipboard out of Anya's hands and led her back into the main room of the store. Smiling sadly at the former demoness he said, "Anya, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Please sit down."

Anya perched on the edge of the counter and listened quietly to what Giles had to tell her. She didn't become angry, she didn't scream or cry. "Anya, do you understand what I'm telling you? We had to sacrifice Xander to save humanity. Xander is gone, you'll never see him again." Giles said impatiently.

Anya smiled sadly, "I wouldn't say that, Giles. You have no idea what you've done, do you? You should have called me before you agreed to this. You made a really big mistake, and there's no way to get out of it, not now."

Giles pulled his glasses off and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "What the devil are you talking about Anya? Lucifer kept his word, Glory is gone."

"That's what I'm talking about, the Devil. You made a deal with the Devil, Giles, that's a very bad idea."

Giles slumped in his chair, "I know that Anya, but what else could we have done?"

Anya slid off the counter and collected her things. "You could have said no. Lucifer wouldn't have released Hell on Earth, he can't. It's against the rules. But now he doesn't need to."

"Anya, please, I'm very tired, would you just tell me what you're trying to say and quit beating around the bush?"

"Lucifer can't open Hell on Earth, HE won't allow that. But now he has an innocent, a live innocent, Xander will have the ability to travel between Hell and Earth at will. And not even the Arch-angels will be able to stand against him. The fact that he was given to Lucifer by people who were supposed to protect him means that the Angels and God himself will hold Xander blameless. You've damned yourself, and nothing you do will save you. Not even God will have mercy on you now."

Anya walked towards the door, "I'd say I was sorry for you, Giles, but I'm not. You deserve everything you're going to get. The tortures for betrayers are some of the worst. I don't even want to think about what they'll do to Buffy. Goodbye, Giles. I don't want to be here when Xander comes back. I liked him the way he was, I don't want to see what he'll become."


Lucifer laid his burden on his bed and smiled sadly. Extending his will, he made sure that Xander wouldn't wake up until he wanted him to. The King of Hell straightened his clothes and left his realm for the second time that day, he had some promises to keep.


Cordelia sat huddled in the back seat of Angel's car, bracketed by Wesley and Gunn. She wouldn't tell them why they had to go to Sunnydale, she just kept muttering, "Faster, we have to go faster. Don't let us be too late. Please, God, don't let us be too late."

Angel cursed under his breath and stepped on the gas.


Cordelia scrambled over Wesley and opened the door before Angel had even come to a stop outside the Magic Box. She darted across the sidewalk and beat on the door. "Open up! I know you're in there!"

Turning around, she grabbed Angel and shook him, "Break it open; now!"

Angel set her aside and kicked the door once, shattering the wooden frame. Cordelia pushed him out of her way and rushed into the room. "Giles! Giles!"

Giles came out of the back room when he heard his name. "Cordelia? What in the world?"

Cordelia screamed and lunged at him, knocking him to the floor. Wrapping both hands around his throat she started squeezing. "Where is he, you bastard? What did you do to him?"

Wesley, Angel and Gunn were shocked into immobility by their friend's actions. Angel finally broke free and pulled Cordelia off of the Watcher.

Wesley helped Giles up from the floor. The Watcher's face was pale and he was shaking. "Cordelia..."

The seer screamed and then sagged in Angel's arms. "We're too late. Oh my God, we're too late."

"What the Hell is going on Cordy? Too late for what?" Gunn asked irritably.

"Xander. We're too late."


Giles called Buffy and Willow while Gunn tried to calm Cordelia down. Wesley and Angel talked quietly in the corner. They still didn't know what was going on, but they knew it wasn't good.


Buffy and Willow were both shocked to see Angel and the LA crew in the Magic Box. Cordelia spit at the two women when they got too close to her. Willow jumped back and burst into tears.

Angel's patience was long gone. "If someone doesn't tell me what the Hell is going on, right now, I'm going to kill something!"

Giles took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. This was not going to be fun.


Anya taped the last box closed and looked around Xander's apartment one last time. She didn't think she'd forgotten anything. Lucifer's sudden appearance in the center of the room didn't even startle her, she'd been expecting him.

"Hello, Anyanka."

Anya bowed her head, "Lord. You honor me with your presence."

Lucifer held out his hand, a silver necklace with a green stone dangling over his fingers. "Here is your reward, Anyanka, I wish you luck with it."

Anya took her necklace and fastened it around her neck and smiled when she felt her power returning to her, but her voice was subdued when she asked, "Is he all right?"

Lucifer raised her chin so he could look in her eyes, "He will be, Anyanka. I promise to take very good care of him. Thank you for protecting him for me. I know what a sacrifice it was to give up your powers like that."

Anya bowed her head again, "I live to serve, Lord." She pointed to the boxes scattered around the room, "These are his favorite things, Lord. I thought he might like to have them."

Lucifer waved his hand and the boxes disappeared. "That was thoughtful of you, Anyanka, thank you."

"Lord? Will they be punished?" Anya asked quietly.

Lucifer's smile was cold, "Oh yes. Their torments will give strong men nightmares for a thousand years."


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