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Summary: YAHF. Xander Harris dresses as a mild mannered reporter with unexpected results.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Superman(Past Donor)MetropolisRisingFR15949,9274026794,99824 Aug 0613 Mar 07No

Chapter 9: Bark at the Moon pt.1

Earthbound: Chapter 9 “Bark at the moon pt.1”

Disclaimer: I do not own Superman or Buffy or any of the properties represented here. I am in no way attempting to or making any money off of what I write, but am only trying to create unique situations for the characters to explore, occasionally putting my own creative spin on how I see things. Thank you for your time.

Rating: FR-15-naughty language ahead.

A/N: Thanks again to everyone who's been reading and sending in feedback, it means a lot to me. Shot right past 20,000 hits, which amazes me to no end. Well, on with the show, er, fic. Propers go out to buffy-vs-angel.com for the episode transcript of “Phases” from which I shamelessly cribbed and tweaked some dialog. A/N#2 follows



“Where the hell you been for that last two days you piece of crap,” Tony Harris growled out, a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a belt hanging from the other.

Xander Kent stood there, his body immediately tensing at the sight of Tony. In all the excitement of the last 48 hours, Xander had completely forgotten to call home- not that he really could have anyways.

Something Xander had learned over the years was that while Tony and Jessica didn't really give a damn about proper parenting, they always liked to know where there indentured servant was, thus Xander making the callback to the Harris residence whenever he was going to be out all night.

“Uh, Tony-”

The belt in Tony's hand flashed out as fast as the snake it used to be, the large silver buckle slamming into Xander's chest with a dull thud.

“The hell did you just call me? What was that?! I asked you WHERE THE HELL YOU BEEN BOY?”

Xander slumped to the floor, all memory of his newfound power gone in the onslaught of fear that this man created in him. The memory of years of this kind of treatment, escalating as Xander aged and was thus able to “take” the punishment that Tony believed he deserved, cut right into Xander's psyche.

“ANSWER ME!”

Xander dodged the half full bottle of whiskey as it shattered against the wall, Tony showing exactly how out of control he was, as the man never wasted a drop.

With a roar Tony began to whip the belt again and again, the blows falling upon Xander's skin but failing to leave a mark. The dull sound of the metal belt buckles impact started to sound in Xander's ears, the blows falling upon his forearms as he tried to cover his face.

Tony managed to get a shot to Xander's face, the man going for maximum damage. They had always explained it away in the past and he really didn't care tonight. Something dark had been growing in the man for the past few months and tonight the dam that kept it back had broken completely. Whatever restraint he'd exorcised before was gone due to the simple truth that had clicked into place in the dim reptilian subconscious part of his mind.

This wasn't Xander Harris in front of him.

The boy had steadily been changing for the past few months and tonight after the boy had slipped into his room, Tony had seen it all to clearly. With one more brutal downward stroke of the belt, a curious noise ensued.

The dull metal sound of a piece of metal breaking into two pieces.

Tony Harris relented his assault and gaped at the broken belt buckle on his favorite dress belt, totally dumbfounded.

And before him something dark arose.



Xander heard the noise of the large belt buckle snapping and realized something of profound importance.

He didn't feel any pain.

The pain that he'd been experiencing had been in his mind, the cowering was simply a vestigial remnant of the fear that Tony had instilled in him.

Those days were over.

Rising from the floor, Xander saw Tony standing back a few feet, trying in vain to wrap his mind around Xander's unharmed state.

“That feel good Tony? You get that out of your system?”

Xander's voice was full of anger, but it stayed conversational, damn near casual.

“Because that was the last time you'll ever raise a hand to me again.”

With a swift movement, Xander grabbed Tony by the arm and spun the man into the nearest wall, pinning a beefy arm against the elder man's back.

Dimly aware that he had put Tony to the wall so hard that cracks had appeared in the cheap building material, Xander felt years of Xander Harris' rage collecting now.

“This is what's like you bastard! THIS IS WHAT YOU MADE!”

Twisting the arm in his hands, Xander relished the sounds that Tony was making, the gibbering shrieks and wails made Xander realize how easy it would be....just a little more pressure....

Suddenly a shared memory with Clark flashed in front of his eyes...the last thing Clark tried to do before creating the “Superman” persona...A man had been beating his wife...Clark had been passing through the city and had only just developed enhanced hearing...without thinking the Kryptonian had leaped through the open window and grabbed the brute, shaking the man so hard that teeth had nearly flown from the man's head...Clark had been so horrified by the man's actions that he'd nearly lost control and the fear, the terror in the wife beater's face had been so real....it was the same look on Tony's face now...snot and tears, eyes rolling as the pain in his arm became like a fire eating at his mind.

Xander loosened his grip on Tony, and stepped back, a feeling of disgust and shame at how he'd almost let who he used to be make a choice that could never be taken back.

“This is wrong. As wrong as the way you treated me over the years.”

Tony slumped to the floor staring at the boy who used to be his flesh and blood.

“Wh-What are you?'

Xander turned from the closet where he'd started to grab the few clothes that he liked, a few button down shirts, a corduroy jacket, a blue Hawaiian shirt with white pineapples on it (the last of his gaudy shirts that he still liked) and looked at Tony as one would look at something nasty on their shoe.

“Someone you'll never be able to hurt again.”

With that, Xander simply ripped down the wall of his closet and took the box full of pictures and memorabilia that he had saved here at the Harris residence.

Scanning the room, Xander realizes that there was nothing left here, not for him.

Jessica Harris poked her head in to the room, the noise and screams not the ones she had expected to hear this night- to her relief on multiple levels.

Xander looked her in the eyes, unable to let even a little warmth seep into his gaze at the woman that he had only ever wanted to love him.

“Ice his arm, Jessica, it'll be fine. Probably some nasty bruises, but nothing was broken.”

“Will-will we see you around,” Jessica whispered unable to resist asking.

“No offense ma'am,” Xander disconnects from them totally now, and all three people in the room know that this was the end, “but I hope not.”

And with that, Xander leaped straight up through the ceiling of his former home, plaster dust and debris marking the spot where he had left.



The next morning, Xander swam laps, feeling the cool water easing his mind.

He had done it, he had left the Harris household, just like he'd done in daydreams ever since he'd started having them.

What now?

Gliding back and forth under the water's surface, Xander faced the realities of the situation. He'd need to either become emancipated legally or find a guardian to watch out for him. That was going to require possibly more money than he had currently.

You would think that vamps would have more cash, but NoooOOOooo, it's all petty crime time around the clock with the undead, the teen thought ruefully. Granted, he and Liam hadn't done too bad loot- er “recovering” money and goods from a few vamp lairs, but the fact was that it wasn't the amazing cash cow that everyone imagined. Barely a cash calf.

More important than the issue of shelter, to Xander at least, was the fact that his first real test with his new (or is that recovered?) powers was passed. He had overcome what remained of the Harris within and rose above the temptation to give in to his fear and anger when confronting Tony. He had learned from Clark's past and his own present and rose above.

He wished Clark were around to talk to. The last 48 hours had been some of the most amazing in Xander's life.

Suddenly Xander was coming up from the water, a mystery hand grabbing his shoulder as he turned to do another submerged lap.

“Jesus, Xander! Going for a record?! You haven't surfaced the entire time I've been here!”

Xander spluttered and gave a dark look, he'd sucked up a fair bit of water in his surprise. “Harmony- * cough* what's up? You need to work on your CPR?”

Harmony grinned, “what are you talking about?”

“You startle me like that again, Kendall and you'll need to suck the water out of me,” for some reason Xander couldn't help turning on the mega wattage smile when he was teasing Harmony.

Harmony's eyes glazed over slightly as Xander climbed from the pool, clad in his speedo.

“I can think of worse things to do before class starts.”

Xander had the good nature to blush a bit before grabbing a towel and drying off.

“Harmony, not that I don't appreciate being totally yanked from my morning routine, but is there something I can do for your royal highness?”

“I was just thinking that maybe you wanted to get some breakfast and we could talk about bronzing it tonight? What do you think?”

Xander had to consciously step back and start moving to the men's locker room as Harmony ran a finger down his chest, biting her lip in a hopeful/sultry manner.

Okay, reasonably attractive girl touching you while you're in a skin tight swim suit so not a good idea. Damn this teenage body of mine!

While Xander was having a little internal meltdown, he managed to channel his inner James Bond for the return swing part of the conversation. Grabbing Harmony's wandering hand before she got any closer to his navel, Xander gave her an almost shy grin.

“Sorry Harm. Nice as an idea as it is, I've told you before- I'm a little off the market right now.”

Especially until I find out if Niven was right with his whole “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” joke. Xander thought with an internal grimace. Of course he knew from Clark's mind that it wasn't so, but who could say what laws applied in different universes?

“Only a little,” Harmony purred.

“And a little is just enough to make sure that I can focus on navigating this fresh hell we know as Sunnydale high. This is the part where I leave you to shower.”

Xander gave the second-in-command of the Cordettes a meaningful look and pointed at the “Men's locker room” sign above the door.

Xander bit back a laugh as Harmony sent him a guilty little grin.

“What? It's not like I haven't been in there before.”

Shaking his head, Xander just laughed as he left the girl by the pool.



Buffy stalked through the school hallways, purposefully striding towards the library with a look that would have sent vampires running in her eyes.

Blowing through the doors, she saw Giles and Ms. Calender or whatever her name was making with the schmoop and it only incensed her rage.

“Is it true?!”

Giles stepped back from Jenny in a hurry, his head whipping towards Buffy.

The Slayer stomped towards her Watcher, her fists clenched.

“Is it true? Is the curse loophole for real Giles?!”

“Well, er, Buffy-”

Buffy slammed her hand down on the counter so hard that crack went through the aged wood.

“No glasses polishing Giles! Just tell me,” Buffy asked a plaintive note entering her voice at the last part.

Giles sighed, the look on his face telling Buffy everything she wanted to be a lie.

“Yes, I'm afraid it is Buffy.”

Tears formed in Buffy's eyes. “No. You're lying! You just want me to be a Slayer like your stupid books say! NO!”

“Buffy,” Jenny started, sadness in her voice.

“Shut up Janna- or whatever you're called! This is your fault!”

Buffy ran from the library, her heart breaking into more pieces with every second.

She couldn't hear, she couldn't breathe, she just ran, crashing into people and walls, unable to see through her tears.

As Buffy made her way out the front doors and onto the grass, arms caught her suddenly and though she fought against them, she wasn't strong enough. They held her and she heard comforts whispered into her ears, a voice that was old and new to her- and she relented, breaking down completely in the safety of Xander's embrace.

After a while, Buffy felt herself scooped up completely into Xander's arms and a rush of air caused her to look up.

“Wher'we?”

“We're on the roof Buff. Thought we could use a little time and I didn't want Snyder to look out of his office and see us taking a siesta on the front lawn.”

“I miss Flutie,” Buffy whispered, and got a smile crossed with a slight grimace from Xander.

“Yeah me too Buff. Ol' Bob deserved better than my pack eating him.”

Buffy regretted reminding them both about the hyena incident but opted to move on.

“How'd you find me?”

Xander shrugged, “Wasn't too hard, just follow the trail of students either knocked down or whispering.”

Buffy winced. That'll be great for my rep...

“I'm kidding Buff. I saw you shoot past me as I was coming out of the locker room, no big.”

Buffy sighed with slight relief.

“You only knocked over Scott Hope anyways.”

Buffy punched Xander's shoulder with a snort and liked that she didn't have to pull her punch.



Xander took in the sight of the Buffy shaped Slayer as he set her down. Mascara running, snot bubbles on her nose, it was a shame she still managed to look so cute.

“So what's the story Buff?” In the past Xander might have tried to diffuse the situation with a lame joke, but he could sense that something important was happening and didn't want to mess it up.

Buffy groaned and cradled her head in her hands.

“Xander, it's been a rough couple of days. It's not even February yet! If this is how the rest of the year is going to go I'm going to someplace that's not of the here.”

Xander remained silent and was rewarded for his patience as Buffy sagged into his arm a little shuddering sigh bursting forth.

“Ange-Liam I mean....he...” Buffy's chest hitched and she fought to get it under control, “Liam's cursed.”

“I know Buffy, it's kind of why we're friends with him right?”

“No Xander, it's worse. He found out from Giles and Ms. Calender that the curse has a serious flaw. Blah Blah, eternal suffering, blah, but don't experience and shiny happy thoughts or out comes the monster!”

Buffy had gotten up and started pacing as she laid it out.

“I mean, what kind of lame ass curse is that? Don't be happy or your tortured conscience takes a hike? Please!”

Xander thought carefully. It made sense all of the sudden, Liam's sudden stiffness around Buffy, the pained look the past few days.

“So much is going on Xander! The Judge, your miraculous resurrection and subsequent awesomeness,” Buffy blew her bangs up in frustration, “If this is the beginning of the year, I'm really not looking forward to May.”

“May?”

Buffy's eyes darkened slightly. “Yeah, ever since I was called, May seems to be the big time of the year for stuff. Must be evil doing its last bash before the Summer months or something.”

Xander reflected that the ordeal with the Master had happened in May and from Buffy's limited talks about Hemery High, the spring formal had been when Lothos had attacked as well.

“I'd hate to think that our lives were so episodic.”

“Yeah me too Xand.”

Xander could see tears starting to come on again so he pulled Buffy into another hug.

“What am I going to do Xander? I know I'm young and everything, but it just feels like I'm drowning...the thought of not being able to be with Angel...even with our relationship being strained in the last year...it still just feels like someone cut a piece out of me.”

Xander looked inward with some shock knew that even if he couldn't, Clark could relate. Buffy's impassioned plea had brought forth some new memories. Other than Lana being lost to him after graduating, there'd been one other girl while Clark had been traveling after school. Lori had been amazing...funny, smart, another red-head of course...

“Buffy...I know you probably won't believe me, but part of me knows exactly what you're going through.” When Buffy looked up with disbelief mingled with hope that someone could relate, Xander unfolded his shared memory.

Clark had been traveling through Mexico along the east coast after he'd turned 23 and had been working with a group of village fisherman along the gulf of Mexico. Lori had been working with an environmental group protesting various corporations causing pollution and contributing to red tides.

They'd hit it off and he'd ended up following her to Bermuda after she left Mexico three months later. It had been one of the most amazing years of Clark's life, one of the most painful too, especially when Lori had to go home to fight in a civil war. They had been from different worlds (no pun intended) and and when all was said and done, he couldn't follow Ms. Lemaris when she'd returned to her country.

That girl had made Clark swear off women with alliterative names.

Which is part of why Clark was so opposed to my worlds interpretation of him and Lois Lane.

Xander smirked. It seemed that Clark Kent would continue to be a source of mystery for a long time yet. Some more memories to add to the journals I guess.

“So she was a mermaid whose home was in a dimensional fold with a kind of magic that rendered Clark as vulnerable as a human? “

“Yeah,” Xander replied sadly, the memories so strong that he was reliving it all over again. “I- that is to say- Clark, couldn't follow her because of that...no suits, no diving bells. The portal to Atlantis was at the bottom of the Atlantic.”

Buffy sniffed and sat up straight. “You really know how to wreck a good self pity party Xander. Here I am thinking that no one had ever my epic pain and you go and trump me. Stupid Ethan Rayne.”

“I know, giving me all of that life experience- What a monster.”

Buffy just looked at Xander, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“How is a nice fruit basket even supposed to find a fugitive like that?”

Buffy groaned, “You were doing so well too.”

“Hey that was funny!”

Buffy shook her head and Xander could see the issue of the moment come back upon her.

“So what do I do?”

“Not sure Buff. On one hand you get to see Liam all the time so that's bad, but on the other you get to have him in your life which with time to heal could be good. Plus, I'd imagine that the threat of losing his soul would be enough to stave off the threat of perfect happiness.”

“That's what I argued last night after you left, but he wasn't having it. It was all 'It's time for me to face what I am Buffy' and 'I can never be what you need' “

“Damn, I was working through that crunchy shell of angst too.”

“Well he got it back in triplicate Xander.”

Xander looked up at the sky, searching the blue for an answer. Clark did all of his best thinking in the air, if only he could- damn man, think on your feet! Xander chastised himself. You'll get there someday if you're lucky. Focus on the here and now already!

“I think for now you should give him the space Buffy. I'll make sure we're all together and have big group fun, but maybe this is just a roadblock along the way. I'm thinking that if we're so great that we will figure a way around this someday.”

Buffy nodded sadly and looked out over the courtyard.

“More importantly though, you've got to patch it up with Giles, Buffy. I know you're mad at him but don't shoot the messenger. I know Giles didn't want this for you- imagine what could have happened if none of us knew and somehow the curse broke?”

Even with her back to him, Xander could see the shiver run through Buffy.

“I've read a bunch of the Watcher diaries Buffy....Liam's dark half isn't someone we want unleashed on Sunnydale, especially after all the time he's been locked away.”

“Bad?”

“Hannibal Lecter as an unstoppable whirlwind.”

“I always manage to forget about the monster in the man...” the Slayers face clouding at the truth.

“It's okay Buffy...who could blame you?”

Buffy turned back with an accusatory look.

“Yeah okay so I could blame you. But it's different now. I can discern between Liam and Angelus and I know who I want to be friends with- even if began due to an uncanny resemblance to Clark's best friend.

Buffy nodded, remembering the details of Xander's story.

“Okay, so I need to make nice with Giles. What about Ms. Calender?”

Xander shrugged. “That's up to you Buffy. Personally I'd give her a chance after getting an apology for lying to us. She's helped before and she genuinely cares for Giles. That's worth a second chance in my books.”

Xander wondered what Buffy was looking at when she stared at him, a dazed look in her eyes.

“What?”

“I wish you could hear yourself Xander....sage advice from the guy who couldn't quit making crude innuendos at the beginning of October.”

“What can I say Buff? Everybody's got to grow up someday,” Xander's face hardened a little, “even if it is because of the bloody Hellmouth.”

The bell rang, signifying that Buffy and Xander had skipped class completely.

“Xander, did we really miss first period?”

“Unless that wacky Snyder is playing with the bells, I'm guessing not.”

“Yeah, zany isn't his M.O.”

“Well as many detentions as he likes to give us, I'm thinking that one more isn't going to wreck our reputations.”

The two friends made their way to the stairs back into the school and Xander could see some of Buffy's good mood vanish once again as the girl realized nothing had changed really, she had just gotten a fraction of her pain out.

“Tell that to my Mother.”



Xander found Liam at the house after he left the school for the day.

“Whoa, nice brood field we got going Bats!”

Liam just sat in the living room, the evening sucking the light from the world.

“Liam...she told me what happened...”

“You didn't see her face Xander. Not when I told her that I couldn't be with her.”

“No, I saw her when Giles confirmed what you said. One guess as to which was worse.”

Xander watched as guilt flashed over his friends face.

“Is she okay?”

“Honestly? I think she's going to make it. Not today or this week, but maybe someday down the road she'll feel better. Especially if you man the hell up and act like anything other than the King of Pain.”

Liam's eyes flashed gold and the vampire twitched in an unreadable way.

“Nice to see that you do have some emotion kicking around that hair gel encrusted brain of yours,” Xander sneered, watching the vamp get angrier.

Almost there....don't let me down big guy...

Liam continued to tense and Xander swore he could almost hear a growl from the darkened living room corner.

“You know I thought that I'd made the right choice when we became friends...too bad you're just showing me that I'm still captain of the U.S.S. Bad Decision. If you really cared about anything other than yoursel-”

Angel snarled an jumped from his chair moving towards Xander with violence on his mind.

Xander took the punch and let himself fly backwards into the twilight shrouded back yard, bouncing up fast enough to prepare for Angel's next move.

Finally! I thought I was going to have to get really ugly in a minute!

The two men sparred violently, Liam pouring his anger and frustration into his blows.

Xander practiced flipping backwards and worked on his judo forms as Liam threw punches and kicks that would have been crippling if everything hadn't changed the day before. Back and forth they sparred, pushing out into the street as Xander led Angel through back alleys and scrub bushed areas. Before long the boys had gotten about a mile away from the house and near an old warehouse.

Xander jumped to the roof and waited as the still fairly pissed Liam followed.

“What the hell Xander what is this-”

Then the panel Xander had led them to cracked and the two combatants fell into a nest of just barely awake vampires.

Standing in the middle of the storage room, Liam and Xander went back to back as forty yellow eyes blearily realized that their lair had been compromised.

Xander heard a snicker from Liam and could almost sense it as Liam went fully into his game face.

“You sneaky bastard.”

Liam ripped a stake from a pallet they had landed on a staked the nearest fledgling

“Well I didn't get you a Christmas present last month,” Xander quipped as he slammed two vampires together by their heads and got a satisfying double dusting.

“You really shouldn't have.”

“What can I say? I saw it on my way home from school, I'm a giver.”

As the seventy year old leader of the group watched his minions being destroyed faster than if they had just walked into the Vatican he did what all prudent leaders do in that situation.

He ran.



After Liam and Xander polished off the remaining vamps (as if there was any doubt), Liam tried to figure Xander out.”

“Why the subterfuge Kent? The running brawl on the way here?”

“I wanted you to actually enjoy yourself when we dusted these guys, Irish. I figured that getting the worst of your anger out on the way here was the best way to do that.”

As the two scanned the room looking for anything valuable that the nest might have stolen or collected Liam reflected on what the lad had done for him.

He knows me decently well if he knew a dust up was the best way to get me back up to speed. Plus he planned the whole damn thing pretty well...

“How are you doing Xander? I wasn't pulling any of my punches there...”

Liam was a little surprised by the look in the boys eyes.

“Damn glad too Liam... ever since we started this magical mystery tour I've wondered what it would be like to have you go all out instead of trying not to hurt me...”

“...And from the way you aren't even breathing hard I'm guessing that our situations have reversed, major power boost to go with your jumping?”

Xander just tapped his nose and rooted through a couple of duffel bags, whistling.

Liam smirked. At this rate his x-ray vision will be here any day now...



“So you jumped through the roof?”

“I wanted to impress upon them that they shouldn't try to find me or anything.”

“But the roof Xander?”

“Yeah, Buffy said the same thing.”

“What did Willow say?”

Xander stopped cold at Liam's question.

“I, uh, I haven't told Willow anything yet.”

“What!” Liam couldn't believe it. Xander had talked a lot about how he and Willow were distancing but he never imagined that Xander would leave her out of the loop so seriously.

“I know, I know....it's just that I don't know what to say. 'Hey Wills, I've gotten all of what made me human burned out of me and I finally ran away from home' doesn't really fit with the hallmark card scene.”

The vampire watched as his young friend ran his hands through his hair, blue eyes searching the stars for an answer.

“For so long it was Willow, Jesse, and Xander. Then Jesse died and Buffy came in. That day changed a lot, Liam. Willow gravitated towards Buffy a lot- why shouldn't she have? Buffy was a girl, she could be girly with Wills. Buffy also wasn't ignoring Willow for every other girl who wasn't Willow.”

“Finally saw that did you?”

Xander sighed, “Yeah a day late and a dollar short. By the time I figured out that the slight resemblance to Lana wasn't why I was finding Willow cute, she'd found Oz ready and waiting over Winter break. Plus I was still trying to see where being partially Kryptonian was leading and didn't want a girlfriend.”

“That sounds like a regret.”

“No, just a line of thought. Of course now that I'm 100% alien it doesn't change things. Willow and I haven't really talked for almost two weeks and I'm homeless on top of that.”

Liam clubbed the boy upside the head, wincing only slightly at the sting in his hand because of it.

“Don't be thick boyo. You think we've been building up the 'Hall of Justice' to flip it for profit?”

Xander's eyes lightened considerably. “Wait, you want me to actually live there?”

“If you want. I don't know how we'll swing it with the state since I can't officially act like a guardian or anything. I checked California law a the day before Buffy's party when you were trying to hide some bruises-” Xander winced with guilt, “and it says that you can be emancipated at 14 here, you just have to prove that you can take care of yourself financially.”

“Really?”

Liam laughed. For all that Xander could act like a 28 year old man in a boy's body, he really still was a magically transformed 17 year old. “Yes really. At the very least we could just hide out from 'The Man' until your birthday in June.”

“Cool.” Liam thought Xander was going to say something else but the boy just smiled in relief.

“So...” Xander began almost laughing, “You been practicing getting your accent back or what? That boyo thing was pretty good considering that any of the other times you tried to 'be' Irish it was awful.”

Liam laughed. “What can I say? I realized that as much of a scum Liam used to be when I was turned, I'm still him- just with a lot of time between then and now.” The Irish accent came naturally now, coloring his words but not stomping all over his speech as Liam relaxed into it.

“If it's any consolation, it sounds pretty good.”

“Thanks Kent. Now we just have to figure out how you're going to make nice with Willow and we can coast till May.”

“Buffy told you her theory then?”

“Oh man, the first 'date' date we had she went on about it for like twenty minutes...”



Days passed, turning into a week and slowly we enter the phase of the fic that it was titled after....

In the halls of Sunnydale High School, Willow and Buffy walked away from Oz who was currently suffering what constituted Larry's idea of humor.

“Thank you thigh master!” Buffy heard Larry yell with his cro-magnon buddies as she and Willow went away.

“Honestly Buffy, how long is too long when you're waiting?”

Buffy just shot a surprised smile to her best girlfriend. The Slayer had noticed a change in Willow recently, dressing more daring, with less layers and more curves showing. She'd chalked it up to confidence from dating a boy who really liked her but this was a new twist.

“Well Wills, not that I have any experience, but I think it's nice that Oz is taking it slow...some boys can be animals.”

“Fuck that,” Willow growled to Buffy's massive shock, “Sorry about the bluntness Buffy, but I really like Oz. My parents have been gone since the first of the year and we've gotten really close but I want him! It's crazy and out of character, but I do!”

“Have you dropped any hints?”

Willow blushed and smiled. “I've dropped blow jobs.”

“WILLOW!”

Buffy dragged her decidedly un-Willow like Willow into a corner. “Willow! Are you feeling okay?!”

“What?! I just said that-”

“I know Willow, that's just-I'm just-you” Buffy couldn't even talk.

“I know, I know,” Willow said mournfully, “Buffy I'm serious. I always thought that I'd be 'wait-and-see' girl but Oz really gets me going. Plus years of repressing my sexuality since I couldn't even get Xander to look at me...I'm ready to pop.”

“Pop?”

“POP! But only for Oz,” Willow added primly.

Buffy giggled. Willow had apparently changed gears on her in the past month, but she couldn't much blame the girl. She'd been sparring against Liam lots more since they couldn't make smoochies and Xander, though he was strictly in the friend column, well, the boy was a raging pillar of hottie to have to be around all the time, especially when he and Liam trained together. Dreaming had certainly been more interesting as of late..

“Well Willow, I'm sure Oz will get the point soon enough. He has enjoyed everything you guys do right?”

Willow flushed. “Uhh, yeah, considering how, uh, appreciative , he is I think it's safe to say that I'm not pressuring him or anything.”

The two girls sank to the floor of the school hallway, hiding in a break between lockers, dreamy looks on their faces.

“Yeah, If I had a achievement chart for Oz it would have lots of gold stars.”

“All in the last month?”

Willow nodded, almost hiding her bright red face in her hair.

“Well I'm sure he'll come around sooner than later Will.”

“I hope so, I don't want to be the only girl around whose boyfriend won't....” Willow trailed off as she saw the slightly wistful, slightly sad look on Buffy's face.

“Ohmygod. I'm such a doof! Here I am all- all- and you, Liam, uh, do you want me to go away?”

Buffy looked with a caring smile at Willow, the last question the hacker asked so quietly bringing forth a tremendous surge of love for her friend in her heart. Grabbing Willow's hand Buffy looked Willow square in the eyes.

“I wish you wouldn't.”

The girls had a quiet moment, something passing between them that they hadn't shared before.

“I know! You, Xander, and myself could get together tonight! Do a sit down with a randomly selected movie from Big Choice Video?”

Willow looked apprehensive at the mention of Xander and Buffy knew that the gap was a large as they all feared.

“Well, I guess, maybe...”

“Willow...Xander misses you.”

“Oh really? Misses me so much he didn't tell me he doesn't live with his parents anymore?”

“Yes misses- wait, what?!”

“Oh he didn't tell you either then?”

Buffy listened as Willow recounted how the hacker had gone over to the Harris house and besides seeing some creative renovations on the roof had found that Xander no longer lived there.”

He never said anything...

“He told me that he'd left after a, um, blowout with Tony, but he never said that he hadn't gone back!”

Willow had a look in her eyes that Buffy didn't like. “Well, Mr. Secretive couldn't even be bothered to tell me that he was getting contacts, I don't know why he would tell either of us that he was running away from home.”

Contacts? Oh right, his eyes.... “Willow, I don't think Xander meant to-”

“No probably not,” Willow said with a snarl, “But that's kind of Xander's deal now isn't it? You know what? I wouldn't even be surprised if he started dating Cordelia he's so weird now.”



Point of fact, Xander wasn't dating Cordelia, despite what Willow thought of him. He'd seen enough flicker flashes of that future to stay far away from Cordelia Chase, romantically at least.

As the Kryptonian teen walked through the woods he wondered after Janus and Mxyia. It had been almost two weeks since Janus' cryptic goodbye and the teen was honestly concerned. There had been a buzz around him that he'd come to recognize as their presence and it had totally faded away over the last few days.

What does it mean that they're gone? What does it mean for The Powers That Be?

He'd looked into spells to try tracking the errant beings, but realized that with not knowing any spell casters he could talk to about this problem, he was out of luck as he didn't want to chance the spell himself, in case the magic reacted poorly with his physiology.

He looked around and realized he'd been wandering and doing random jumps for a while for awhile and had come up to an overlook of Sunnydale that was notorious as a “lovers lane” kind of place.

Unfortunately, Xander spied a particular burgundy Le Baron about twenty feet away with the unmistakable license plate reading “QUEEN C”.

You've got to be kidding me.

Prepping to jump as far away as his strength would carry him, Xander stopped when he heard a growl come from the bushes near the car.

A growl followed by a giant creature lunging towards Cordelia's canvas car top.

Oh fer crimminy's sake!

Still lacking “super” speed, Xander cleared the small space between himself and the car in a flash. The beast was snarling and had began to slash at the cloth top, it's large claws ripping through easily.

Xander grabbed the arm and yanked the beast from the car before looking into the animals flashing eyes. It was a massive cat beast, shrieking and hissing at being separated from it's meal.

“Harris? What are you doing out here?”

Xander cursed inwardly while grappling with the creature, Of course he'd be identified by someone he used to know. Sparing a glance towards the car while fighting with the hellcat in his arms Xander recognized John Krimsky, Cordelia's newest boy toy from Fondren High School

“Krimsky? Get Cordelia out of here!”

“What about-”

“JOHN!”

“Fine, yeesh!”

The cat beast screamed in anger and twisted out of Xander's grasp.

How the hell? “Bad kitty! Do we need to get you some milk or what?”

With a shriek the beast slashed at Xander with it's claws and shredded his shirt but only raking the skin.

“Ow! WHAT the HELL!?” All week Xander hadn't had any problems fighting vampires and the couple of ghouls that he and Liam had found in the hills outside of town. Zlar hadn't even managed to rip his clothes and Xander was wearing the same shirt.

“That's my favorite shirt! You-you-”

Xander was only more shocked when another growl came from the bushes and now a wolf beast came running from the bushes right towards the Cat and Xander.

Xander moved to the side and tripped the wolf as it loped towards them. Much easier than the cat, Xander managed to keep the wolf down only to watch the cat beast jump back into the shadows with a hiss and a horrible scream.

As the cat ran into the woods, Xander loosened his grip on the wolf-man accidentally letting the beast run back into it's patch of the woods with a howl.

Xander stared with dismay at his tattered shirt and thankfully unblemished skin underneath before jumping into the night sky, confused and slightly scared.



At school the next day, Buffy found a note in her locker and followed it to Xander in the parking lot with Cordelia Chase.

'What's the what guys?” Willow better not be playing psychic on me from yesterday.

“Buffy, we've got problems.”

“Listen to the dork Buffy, look at my car!”

Buffy stared at the tattered remains of Cordelia's car top and didn't quite know what to say.

“Huh. You guys have something going on-”

“I have NOTHING going on with Harris,” Cordelia said sharply, Buffy seeing from Xander's tense posture that Cordelia had been “on” all morning apparently.

“Last night I was patrolling the outskirts of town and came across Cordelia's car in the woods-”

“Hah! Whatever Xander- just because you've got most of the girls around here convinced you found a sense of fashion, I'm not fooled. You were so obviously perving on me! And can I just say, the idea of you patrolling anything more than a sandbox is an even bigger laugh!”

Buffy watched as Xander turned from looking at the car, took a breath and centered himself.

“While I admit that you can be attractive from time to time Cordelia, the sewage that is constantly spewing from the hole you call a mouth is generally enough to turn off even the most randy of hormones. The fact is, beyond needing you here for validation to tell Buffy about what we saw last night, I'd prefer not to be within twenty feet of you and your hateful poison persona.”

Buffy's jaw dropped at the harsh retort delivered in the almost monotone level, yet deadly quiet voice.

Cordelia recoiled as if she just been slapped and her face went went bloodless with an emotion that wasn't exactly clear.

“Did we, or did we not both see a six foot cat beast attacking your car last night?”

Cordelia nodded curtly, her eyes shiny and hard.

“Thanks Cordelia. C'mon Buffy, we need to talk.” Xander gently took the still shocked Buffy from the parking lot, his face grim.

As the Slayer and the Alien walked away from Cordelia, Xander let out a sigh and walked back over to Cordelia before whispering in the girls ear, causing Buffy to crank up her Slayer enhanced hearing to catch what he said.

“I'm really sorry I was so harsh there Cordy. I crossed a line and it wasn't cool. Last night really scared me so I'm not in my right mind.”

As Buffy waited for Xander to rejoin her she felt a little better knowing that Xander realized how rough he'd been.

Just as the two friends got to the door of the school they were both surprised.

“Almost had me thinking you'd grown a pair there Harris! Almost. Next time try for a better dismount though!”

Buffy saw the ghost of a smile cross Xander's lips and wondered why it looked a like he'd lost something.



“So are we going to get Giles in on this Buff?”

Xander was at an end for his resources, he'd called Buffy in even though if something could hurt him he really didn't want Buffy up against it. But after talking to Liam before the vamp left for L.A. for a week, Xander realized that this was Buffy's job and him trying to protect her would only lead to problems.

He wasn't sure if Giles and Buffy had fully patched things up but he knew that they needed help on this one.

“Calling in the Watcher for the giant cat monster and a werewolf? You bet your cute Kryptonian ass.”

Xander smiled. He wasn't privvy to all of the details but was happy that things were almost back to normal.



At lunch, the gang was assembled in the library, going over the details of Cordelia's attack, minus the fact that Xander had been there to see it.

“So Cordelia said it was a giant cat,” Willow said suspiciously.

Buffy looked at Xander for confirmation.

“She seemed more set on it being a cat on two legs....” Xander nodding at Buffy's words, “...plus she said that another thing came from the woods just as they were leaving and that it was definitely wolf-y.”

“Good lord, are-are you saying that Ms. Chase was attacked by some kind of were-cat AND a were wolf?”

“I guess Giles,” Buffy shrugged before doing a few cartwheels, trying to burn off some nervous energy, “She was more concerned about her car, just said that it was giant, cat like, pissed. The wolf one didn't really attack her car, but it definitely tried to tangle with the cat thing.”

“Buffy, this is totally without precedent!”

Oz looked curious, “Werecats not the norm?”

Giles pinched the bridge of his nose in barely contained frustration and excitement.

“That's exactly what I'm saying. While the classic werewolf is fairly well documented, going so far as to have different groups-”

“Giles...” Buffy warned her Watcher.

“yes, sorry, generally the concept of werecats are relegated to fiction is the short version.”

Willow looked confused, “But aren't there any demons with cat like appearences?”

“There are vague reports of a small group of shape shifters who's base form resembles a bipedal hairless feline- apparently there was a case documented by the Council which occurred in 1992, apparently in Indiana when a young girl was attacked for the, ahem, 'purity of her life force'. But this sounds very different.”

Xander could see the sweat breaking out on Giles forehead, the excitement was so heavy.

“We could be looking at a fully new species! Buffy, it is imperative that we begin trying to research this thing. Certainly we want to be prepared when the next full moon comes around! Especially when a werewolf is also on the prowl if the newspapers reports of 'wild animal attacks' are correct.”

“But tonight's the full moon,” Willow said.

Everyone stopped dead in their tracks.

“She's right,” Oz supplied helpfully.



“Well that shoots the werecat theory down.” Xander said.

“Not necessarily Xander,” Buffy comforted, rubbing her friends back as they sat in the gym while the teacher railed on about the full moon and self defense.

“It's pretty thin Buff. That thing was way stronger and more agile that the werewolf that blasted out of the bushes,” Xander whispered.

“But Giles pointed out that it may not be the traditional full moon legend for the were creatures transformations, in which case a brand new beastie could be way stronger than one that's been seen before. And in any case we still have to worry about the werewolf.”

Xander sat on the bleachers and searched his shared memories for anything that might be useful, remembering that the claws didn't scratch or pierce, but had hurt.

Buffy watched Willow and Oz as the couple acted as couple-y as possible under the eye of public education. With some surprise Buffy watched as Willow boldly slid a hand under Oz's shirt to rub the guitar players shoulders.

“Yeah, they're really touchy lately huh?”

Cordelia sneered at Xander's observation.

“Well, she has finally found someone for her, even if they're both gingers.”

“Cordy...” Xander warned.

“Hey, nothing wrong with red hair, just an observation.”

“An incredibly pointless and bitchy observation,” Buffy heard Nancy Doyle (also a red head) murmur under her breath from nearby.

“In any case, good for Willow for bagging a musician with some talent- Devon might have been a wretched excuse for a boyfriend, but the Dingoes as a band are reasonably not yucky.”

“...Okay, everyone get into their assigned groups.” The gym teacher called out, everyone going to various points on the mats.

Xander walked past Larry noting the large bandage wrapping his arm Larry had been covering with his warm up jacket.

“Wow Larry, going out for that Egyptian look?”

“Oh This? Nah. Friggin giant ass dog jumped from some bushes last week and bit me. Thirty-nine stitches. They ougtha shoot those stays.”

Xander shrugged at the idea (Clark had been a pretty staunch supporter of alternative animal shelters in his dimension and Xander could see how the humane approach was a bit better, if more work).

Oz stood next to them warming up, “I hear you man. Willow and I were babysitting my cousin Jordy awhile while back? Kid does not like to be tickled.”

Xander left the boys and went to join his group at that and came up against Nancy as his “victim”.

“Hi Xander.”

“Hi Nance, how have you been?”

“Between fighting Willow for the best GPA in our grade and pining away for you? Pretty good,” The red head class brain replied with a disarming smile.

And once again fate makes me it's bitch by having me rub up against a girl whose been as vociferous as Harmony in trying to get me on a date. Xander grimaced. Damn sweat pants. Damn body. Think about vampires. About were cats. Zombies. Ghooooo-

Almost all of Xander's high brain functions stopped as Nancy wrapped Xander's arm around her front side and pushed her back into Xander's chest before she leaned her head back into the crook of Xander's neck.

“I like your contacts,” the saucy redhead whispered seductively into Xander's ear.

Then she flipped him over her shoulder like like self defense coach instructed.



Buffy found herself patrolling with Giles that night, only due to Giles insisting he “take a more active role in field work if she was to trust him again”. Buffy was glad that Giles wanted to be hands-on watcher but she would have rather had Xander watching her back, if no other reason so that she could tease Xander about P.E.

Or at the very least watch his....that cat thing sounded like it rattled him a bit. Buffy had caught Xander taking a sword to the long sleeve tee shirt that he'd been wearing after they had finished running this afternoon (while he admitted to not getting tired anymore, Xander said that working out focused and it was a good habit to stay in) and not even cutting it a little with the katana.

They'd both been worried because Xander wasn't totally sure what it meant for his so called invulnerable aura if it stopped swords but not the cat beast's claws.

It'll be okay Xander. I promise. Buffy thought determinedly just as she walked into a net trap that pulled her into the treetops.

“Buffy!”

Xander?



Xander had been ghosting Giles and Buffy all night, wanting to be there if Buffy needed him, secrets be damned. Xander wanted to tell Giles, mainly because he thought of the British man as an Uncle or good friend very least, and knew that Giles would be understanding about everything that had happened since Halloween.

Trying in vain see if he could get “super” hearing, Xander realized that even though there was no sign enhanced hearing, his night vision had gotten better.

That might just be the extra moonlight though. Who cares?

Xander watched as Giles and Buffy split up again and Buffy suddenly found herself caught in a net.

“Buffy!”

What the hell kind of name is Buffy,” A gravely pompous voice asked from Xander's left as the boy ran into the clearing.

Spinning around Xander came face to face with a man, maybe as tall as the teen, wearing a military fatigue jacket and a strange necklace lined with...

Oh faces of Janus, are those TEETH?

Xander glared at the man, disgust painting his features as the man smirked back, noting that the person bustling into the clearing must be Giles.



“Buffy!”

“Giles!”

“Cain!”

Buffy and Giles looked at the strange man Xander was glaring at, who joined in the shouting.

'What? I figured we were doing a round robin, felt a little left out.”

Cain swung his scoped flintlock rifle so that the barrel was less than a foot away from Xander's face.

“But you know? I never got your name, Junior.”

Cain was almost spooked by the kids eyes, a strange bright blue and cold as ice.

“My name is get my friend out of the fucking trap before I become angry.”

Cain quirked an eyebrow.

“You got balls kid,” Nodding at Xander he looked at Giles, “He yours?”

Giles voice was indistinguishable from Ripper's voice, “As far as you're concerned, you bloody pillock, they're both mine. I suggest doing as the boy says.”

“Well considering I'm the guy with the gun-”

“HEY! How about we get me out of your trap thingy before you three start hosing each other down with testosterone?”

Cain sighed. Some days...

He set his rifle down and cut the rope anchoring the net figuring it would be good for a laugh to see girly hit the ground.




Buffy almost screamed as she plummeted towards the ground, even though she knew it wouldn't really hurt, but before she impacted the ground, strong arms that she was beginning to know pretty well caught her.

“My hero.” Buffy whispered sarcastically to Xander and was rewarded as a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth indicated she had almost gotten him to break from the mega business face.

“So, What's the deal professor? Teaching the kiddies how to get back to nature?”

Giles started forward with a glint in his eye that Buffy didn't like.

“Easy Watcher o' mine...” Buffy warned before she turned back to Cain.

“We're hunting a werewolf.”

As he began to laugh at them Buffy found herself really hating this guy.

“Yeah okay, funny if you don't believe in them.”

“No, doll you got it wrong. I believe in 'em, I just can't see you three bagging one. Well maybe Mr. Frosty there,” Cain pointed at Xander as the older man picked up his gun again, “But the Professor Teapot and the teen queen? Not so much.”

“It's less of an issue that you might think,” Xander replied icily.

“Sure. Let me ask y'all. How many have you bagged before tonight?”

“Before we get this one?”

Cain shook his head snickering. “Here's the thing pumpkin, I'm a professional. See this necklace? That's one tooth per kill. Best in the states right now. I catch this one tonight and it'll be an even dozen.”

“Wow, how incredibly twisted,” Xander quipped from Buffy's right side, “Must be nice not having any guilt after killing eleven humans.”

For a moment Cain's face went from annoying to extraordinarily dark.

“It's been more than that in this life squirt. You think this jacket is for show?”

Cain shook his head as if remembering something unpleasant.

“In any case, they're only human for twenty-eight days. Then they're violent killers whose skins fetch a pretty price overseas, which is where I come in.

Giles snorted, “Marvelous, he's not sick-he's a bloody capitalist.”

“Ever heard of a were cat, walking stick?”

Cain looked at Xander and rolled his eyes. “Funny squirt, very clever. So was the name joke.”

“So that's a no.”

“No such thing kid. Not unless this stupid town is the exclusive hunting grounds,”

“Now unless you have any idea where kids like to get their bop on around these parts, I'm out of here before you mess up my night anymore.”

The scoobies simply stared the man down as he walked out of the clearing muttering about bleeding hearts.

“What an amazingly repulsive creature,” Giles said with considerably venom.

“Giles we've gotta go, I know where the wolf, if not the cat is going to be next.”

Xander and Buffy made eye contact before speaking at the same time.

“The Bronze.”



Harmony Kendall was at the Bronze trying to get away from Cordelia. It was very odd and she didn't fully understand why she'd developed an aversion to her former fashion pack leader, but lately the girl was just annoying the hell out of her.

She spied the stuck up brain Nancy at a table nursing a soda, decided that it was any port in a storm.

“Hey Doyle.”

“Harmony. Good to see you off your back. What happened? The basketball team swear off easy blondes?”

“Nice. You write that on the back of your slide rule? Save it up for the moment when someone actually wanted to talk to you outside of the math geeks?”

“Only for fashonista pinheads such as yourself..”

Both girls smiled a poison smile and acknowledged the other's prowess.

Harmony had to hand it to the girl, she could keep up with style.

“Any luck with Xander?”

“Seeing as neither of us are here with him what do you think Harm?”

In the last two weeks, both Harmony and Nancy had risen firmly above the riff raff and made it perfectly clear that if Harris was going to go out with someone in Sunnydale in the event that he quit hanging out with Summers, it would be one of them. The two girls were resourceful and calculating and for some reason, Xander's transformation at the public level had brought out the territorial bitch in both of them.

God, high school was fun when you had the right friends.

“Mmm...We really are going to have to figure something out. That boy is just too nice a cut to go wandering around on his lonesome.”

Nancy looked at Harmony over a quirked eyebrow. “Is that all you want from him Harmony? I little fun, some games, a cute date for the weekend?”

Harmony suddenly felt like she was on a slippery slope. The other girl's eyes were sizing her up and while she wanted to respond, duh, of course- what else is there? Harmony knew that wasn't true. Something had changed...she knew that giving out that answer was bound to put Nancy at an advantage, no matter what the red head wanted from Xander.

“Well...I guess-”

Harmony was suddenly freed from answering, as the world shattered- more specifically the sky light shattered, glass falling everywhere along with two seriously pissed off werebeings.



Chaos erupted in the Bronze as a two creatures of massive power fell through a skylight, sending teenagers running for the doors.

The Cat had been slinking across the rooftops of Sunnydale, watching for it's prey, hunting in the night.

The Wolf had been in the woods, hiding from the world, but the moon sang to the young werewolf and it had drawn him back towards civilization.

Minutes after the two had fallen into the club, the place was nearly demolished as the preternatural fighters destroyed most everything that wasn't bolted down, chairs and tables reduced to splinters.

Racing through the front doors after instructing Giles to help control the panicked crowd, Buffy and Xander heard the entrance being bolted securely by the staff.

“No, no, no help needed, we'll take care of everything,” Xander commented, more for form's sake than anything else.

Buffy was in full Slayer mode, her every sense tingling in anticipation.

Moving through the club silently, the teens split up, Buffy unpacking a silver chain and Xander focusing on the shadows, watching for any movement.

A shadow's faint movement in the rafters catches the teens eye and before Buffy realizes he's gone from her sight Xander has nimbly leaped to the ceiling, knowing one of their furry friends is nearby.

Climbing to the stage, Buffy wraps the chain around her arm, and a bass rumble keys her into the fact that the werewolf has found her.

Xander turns to go back and help Buffy, but sudden weight on his back and the feeling of claws on his neck tells the alien that he has his own problems all of the sudden.



Xander is pretty new at this whole “superbeing” thing.

It's a weird gig and while he feels an undeniable urge to help the needy and protect his friends, he's a little concerned about escalation.

So if I'm the strongest kid on the block unless it comes to magic, what does it mean when things start showing up that can toss me around like a toy? Things that surprise Giles?

He and the cat fall from the rafters as Xander loses his balance, trying to gain an advantage over his slippery opponent.

Slamming into the ground, Xander easily pries the beast's claws from his body, So I am stronger, Hello Kitty is just quicker... and that is proven as the cat slips behind Xander when he throws a poorly mapped punch and the cat is again tackling Xander from behind, pushing him to the ground.

The creature, like Zlar before it, shows a particular fondness for trying to see if Xander's head can break the floor. Lightning fast it slams his head down, again and again. Xander just uses the opportunity to note that it's claws are ripping his clothes, but not breaking the skin.

That's a relief Xander decides as he shoves himself off of the ground so hard that he and his new playmate slam into the ceiling, smashing a spot light and giving both of the fighters and jolt that only tickles Xander, Dear diary: today I found out that I can take a lot of direct current.

As they both land in a crouch, Xander, decides that he's had enough.

“Okay Hobbes, let's play.”



Buffy was whirling, swinging and rolling around the stage, the chain she wanted to capture the werewolf with practically an extension of her.

Between Giles trying to impress upon her the importance of different fighting styles and Xander sitting her down with a VHS tape full of rope dart fights, Buffy was channeling her imaginative side.

The werewolf roared, letting Buffy know exactly how much it cared for her and her silver chain.

Sending the tip of the chain racing across the stage at the wolf, the links whistling through the air., Buffy watches with satisfaction as the wolf yelps in pain and retreats from the fight for a moment.

“Okay, wolfy, I don't know if you can understand me, don't really care right now, but I really hope you haven't eaten any people because I'm going to have to get to know you tomorrow.” Buffy said softly as she moved towards the wolf, the chain looped around her arms and swinging in quick circles around her body. Part of Buffy can hear the caterwauls and shouts as Xander takes on the werecat, but for now, for this moment it's just her and the wolf.

The werewolf charges and Buffy remembers what Xander said,

“It falls for a psyche out Buffy, not sure why, but you might be able to trip the thing up...”

Everything slows down and for Buffy the world is made of teeth.

A second, two seconds later at the most, Buffy has tied the wolf, and was sitting on top of the bastard, now she wanted to help Xander.



Xander was moving as fast as he'd ever tried to.

The cat was incredible- speed, violent claws, and for some reason he kept getting the idea that it was really angry, at him in particular even. As fast as he was becoming, he still wasn't able to save his clothes.

He ducked under a flash of claws and was rewarded with a shredded shirt.

At least it'll match my nicely five years ago super shredded jeans.

As the beast trips him and sets back in on the trying to slash his skin to ribbons, Xander finally feels angry at this thing. Feeling anger start to pulse through him, Xander tries to quell it but still strikes before he manages to squelch it all back down.

Rising out of a crouch into a spin, Xander kick as hard as he could, connecting with the beast's midsection and sending it flying across the Bronze and out through the window behind the stage.

Holy crap....

Running to the window, Xander looked back nervously at Buffy.

“I didn't mean to kick it so hard.”

Buffy's look of shock at the cat pulling an E.T. melted into one of relief.

“I don't care how hard you kicked it Xander, you were in a battle royale with that thing, I just wanted it gone and you safe.

Buffy walked over to Xander and gently ran her hand across his chest, looking for signs of wounds, and feels his muscles tense under her touch.

“Did I hurt you?” Buffy asked in a small voice.

Xander just grimaced, “Never. I'm just pissed that I let my frustration let that thing get away.”

“We'll catch it later Xander,” and she wrapped her arms around Xander, breathing in his bright summer smell, the Slayer inside purring despite her admonishments.

Xander scowled, his mind out in the darkness, with the cat, but his body for one moment in the club with Buffy, her arms on him, her smell filling his senses.

Oh no, my life isn't too complicated....



Cain watched from the alley, his mind damn near busted at what he'd just seen.

That girl...she had to be the Slayer. Just had to be. He'd heard that there was one guarding the Hellmouth, but he'd never believed the legends.

The boy...jesus wept, the boy.....

Cain had been on the roof of the club watching the whole fight go down. Worst case scenario, he could swoop the kills if the kids got dead, but damn had that not worked.

They had both been ferocious in their fights, the blonde's technique winning his appreciation but the boy's strength earning his awe and fear. When the kid kicked the impossible cat demon/beast/what-the-hell-ever out the window from the back of the club...well, Cain had nearly needed new shorts.

Fuck this. No pelt was worth getting caught by the Slayer and her terminator bodyguard.

Cain was leaving town, the sooner the better.



As dawn broke over Sunnydale, Xander was up and already at the library, waiting with some extra breakfast and coffee for their mystery guest to wake up.

Sunshine filtered through the high windows and Xander watched with fascination as the werewolf receded into the form of a man, the hair melting into the air, and the flesh returning to a less twisted shape.

The young man on the ground groaned and Xander almost dropped the coffee.

“Son of a bitch,” The Kryptonian teen swore softly.



In a tree on the outskirts of town, just on the edge a gully the werecat slept. It'd been a hard night but her mistress had told her that she'd done well and rewarded her with peaceful dreams.

The sun began to rise and the werecat's long dark fur began to recede into her skin, her padded paws becoming regular skinned hands, a small scar on her finger from the bite that had changed everything.

A bird without the survival instinct to stay they hell away from a giant sleeping cat person began to trill a bright song, welcoming the morning.

Willow Rosenburg snatched out, quick as a cat and slammed the offending singer into the tree trunk, abruptly cutting the birdsong short in a cloud of feathers.

Realizing that she hadn't just hit the snooze on her alarm clock, Willow sat up and cleared her sleepy eyes, her slightly augmented eyes adjusting well to the bright sunshine.

As she looked around her tree perch a look of frustration marred the pale skinned red head's features.

“Not again!”



A/N #2: So here's part one of the Earthbound "Phases". It cam out differently than I thought it would when I plotted this thing out when I began tis fic, I'd really like how people feel about some of the choices I'm making. I'm well aware that I'm telegraphing some of the stuff that's coming, but I'm not worried about keeping you in suspense, just entertained. I'm working without a beta, but I re-read everything before I post it for rewrites so I'd like to know how I'm doing on that (keep in mind I've only got High School english under my belt). Part 2 of this chapter is pretty close to complete, should only be a week or two if I go slow. Thanks for reading.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Earthbound" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 13 Mar 07.

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