The Soul of a BeastA/N: Yes, I know that I should be working on ‘Knight’s’ but this idea came to me and it just wouldn’t let me go. I hope you like it.
Xander looked on in disgust as a boy grabbed the last toy gun from the bin in the costume shop. “Great!” he growled in low voiced frustration. “Now what am I going to do?”
“Do about what?” replied an English accented voice from behind him.
Xander yelped, spun, and grabbed his chest. “Jeeze! Give a guy a heart attack, why don’t you?”
The man who had spoken smiled slightly. “My apologies. Now, what seems to be the problem?” At Xander’s blank look, the man elaborated. “I’m the proprietor of this shop.” He stuck out his hand. “Ethan Rayne, at your service.” He said as he shook the bewildered teen’s hand. “Now, you were having some kind of problem?”
The question snapped Xander out of his daze. “Uh, yeah, actually.” He pointed to the empty gun bin. “Do you have anymore toy guns?”
Ethan’s brow furrowed in thought. “I honestly don’t know.” He finally replied. “I may have some in the back, but the store is too busy for me to go check.” He looked at the young man in front of him as if he were measuring him. “I have some things stored in the rear, props and costumes that don’t rent well. You are welcome to look through them, and if you find anything of interest to you, I’ll let you rent it for the cost of one of the toy firearms. Does that seem fair?”
“More than fair!” exclaimed Xander.
10 minutes later
“No wonder he sent me back here instead of coming himself,” the boy groused, “it’s a disaster back here.”
Xander was about to give up in disgust when something sticking out of a box caught his eye. It looked like a fur covered glove. Curious, he pulled it from the box and looked at it more closely. There was something very familiar about the look of that glove. Gingerly, he pulled the flaps of the box open to reveal a foam latex mask on a manikin head lying atop a costume. “Oh. My. God.” Xander said slowly as he looked on the face of a creature from one of his favorite shows when he was younger. A huge grin lit his face as he remembered the words that the shop owner had said about how much he would rent this costume for. Quickly, he bundled it up and headed to the front of the shop to settle up with Ethan.
Xander walked to the Summers’ house, enjoying the looks he was getting from the people he passed. He couldn’t wait to see the looks on the girl’s faces when he got there.
Before long, he stood in front of Buffy’s house. He paused at the door and cleared his throat, testing to see if he had the voice of his character down. Pulling his cowl up over his head, he knocked gently.
Joyce Summers opened the door to a character out of her dreams. She gasped as a soft low voice spoke to her. “Greetings, Milady Summers. I have come to escort your daughter this evening, if it meets with your approval.”
“Xander?” the woman gasped, as the costumed man swept into the room with a nod of his head. She reached up and pushed back the cowl covering his head to get a better look. She smiled hugely as she uncovered the thick mane of tawny hair and the leonine features. “Or should I say, Vincent?”
Xander smiled a half smile. “Whichever my lady prefers.” He said, with a slight bow.
Joyce almost giggled. ‘I’m acting like a little girl!’ she thought. ‘He looks so good in that costume.’ Not that she would ever think of doing anything romantic with the young man, but he was dressed as one of the most romantic characters that was ever on television. “I’ve got to find my camera.” she declared. At Xander’s raised eyebrow, she explained. “I want a picture of Buffy’s face when she see’s you. Vincent was one of her favorite characters. She was in love with him for a while.”
“Then I shall endeavor to make this an evening worthy of remembrance.” Xander replied.
Mrs. Summers quickly grabbed her camera and took aim at the head of the stairs. “Buffy!” she called. “Your escort is here!”
Buffy appeared at the head of the stairs, dressed in her noblewoman’s costume. “I’m ready, Mom. What’s Xander’s costume….?” Her voice trailed off as she caught sight of the figure standing by the door. “Vincent?” she whispered in a strangled tone, and then winced as the flash from the camera caught her in the eyes. She glared at her mother who just returned the glare with a triumphant grin.
“My Lady.” The soft gravely voice brought her attention back to the man at the foot of the stairs. “Your beauty is incomparable. Forever do I renounce all spandex wearing attempts as inferior.”
Buffy blushed. Suddenly, she looked behind her. “Oh! I forgot about Willow! Hey, Willow! Come see Xander’s costume. You’re not going to believe who he dressed as!” She turned back to Xander and her mother. “Wait till you see her!”
Xander cocked an eyebrow as he looked over her shoulder. “It would appear that we are being joined by a spirit this evening.”
Buffy spun around to face a sheet covered Willow. “Willow.” she said in exasperation.
Willow wasn’t paying attention to Buffy. Her eyes were on Xander. “Wow!” she whispered. “Xander! Where did you get that costume?”
Xander held up the edge of his cloak. “The man, Ethan, allowed me to dig through his back room. Anything that I found, he let me rent for the price of one of the toy guns that he no longer had in stock. I believe that I received the better end of the deal.”
All three of the women nodded and chorused “Yes.” Then they all blushed, not that they could see Willow blush, but she was definitely giving off the air of being embarrassed.
Xander held out his hands to his two best friends. “My ladies, let us see what the night has in store for us.”
Vincent shook his head to clear it of the sudden wave of dizziness that had overcome him. As he blinked rapidly he realized that he was no longer in the tunnels. ‘I am above. But this doesn’t look like New York.’ “Xander!” A female voice called from behind him. Quickly, he pulled his hood up to cover his face and began to walk away, wanting to put some distance between the woman and whoever this ‘Xander’ was.
“Xander!” the voice called, louder this time. “Wait up, mister! Something strange is going on and we need to find Buffy.”
Vincent realized with a sense of foreboding that the young woman thought that he was this Xander person. He needed to stop her before she came too near him and saw what he looked like. “Madame, I am not this Xander that you seek.” He stated, without turning to face the woman.
“Xander!” the person exclaimed, in exasperation. “Quit fooling around! I know you like playing the part of Vincent, but there is something seriously wrong here.”
Vincent’s eyes widened at that statement. ‘Why would anyone play at being me?’ “Madame, I assure you that I am not playing at being anyone other than who I am.” As he said this, he turned so that he could get a look at his pursuer. She was an attractive young woman in her late teens, with longish red hair. Her outfit was less than modest, but he had seen worse on the streets of New York. “You will have to seek this Xander person, elsewhere.”
The redhead looked at him closely and then gasped. Vincent tensed, ready to run, when he was shocked into immobility by the girl’s next words. “Oh, my God! Vincent? Is that really you?”
Nonplussed, he stood for a moment saying nothing. “Madame, you have me at a disadvantage.” He hesitated then reached up and removed his hood. “You do not fear me and you speak as if you know me, but I have never met you.”
“Oh, I’ve never met you as Vincent, I mean, I know you as Xander but now you’ve gone and changed into your costume, which is seriously freaky, and now you’re Vincent and I’m not scared of you because I know that you’ve got a gentle soul and you wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they were threatening your family or Catherine…” That was as far as she got when she was interrupted by a finger being placed against her lips. Or, at least that is what Vincent attempted to do. His hand passed through Willow’s chin. He snarled and leapt backwards in shock.
“What are you? A ghost?”
“Calm down, Xander, I mean Vincent.” Willow held up her hands in a calming gesture. “I’m not really a ghost. I mean I am but only because I dressed as a ghost and I’ve become my costume, just like you dressed as Vincent. Now, you’re him.
“How is this possible?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll bet Giles can help.”
“And who is Giles?”
Willow smiled. “Think Father wearing tweed.”
Vincent grimaced. “That … is a disturbing image.”
Before they could move, a scream rent the night air. “Oh, my God!” shouted Willow. “That sounded like Buffy! We’ve got to help her!” She took off at a run toward the sound of the scream, Vincent at her heels. They came out of the trees to see a young woman running from a … car? And she was screaming, “Demon! Demon!”, at the top of her lungs.
Vincent exchanged a look with the red headed ghost. “Is this Buffy?” He had put his hood back in place since he was unsure of how others would take him.
Willow nodded. “Yes, it is, but something’s wrong. She’s not scared of anything.” She moved to get in front of the running girl, holding up her hands to slow her down. “Buffy! It’s alright, that’s just a car. It’s not a demon.”
Buffy slowed and moved behind Willow, using her as a shield. “How do you know, harlot?! Are you some kind of witch to know what a demon is and what is not?”
“Are you a witch to know what one is?” Willow replied with some heat. The harlot comment had stung her, especially since it was Buffy’s idea for her to dress like this!
“That is a ludicrous accusation! I am obviously a person of noble birth.” Buffy retorted. “I am the Lady Elizabeth and, while not a witch, I know a demon when I see one.” She raised a haughty eyebrow. “Just as I know a harlot when I see one.” ‘Lady Elizabeth’ deflated slightly. “However, it seems that I am in need of assistance and I shall have to accept it from such a lowborn source as yourself.”
Willow looked as if she were about to explode when a low voice spoke from behind her. “Perhaps Milady would accept my assistance? I would be honored to escort you to a place of safety.”
Buffy looked at the figure that stepped from the shadows. He was tall and dressed in the fashion of a craftsman or merchant. This set her at ease as it was something that she was familiar with. “Indeed, Goodman that would be acceptable. But, why are you hooded, kind sir?” She moved to peer under the hood to get a better look at this mysterious man.
Vincent pulled his hood tighter. “I must apologize, Milady. My face is disfigured and I do not wish to alarm you.”
Willow shot a look of sympathetic pain to her friend. “You are not disfigured, Xan . .Vincent. You are a handsome, noble man, regardless of what others say.”
“It is kind of you to say so, Willow, but I am what I am and I have come to terms with that a long time ago.”
“Kind sir, I shall judge you by your actions and not your visage.” Buffy paused and bit her lip. “Surely, though, your countenance can not be that terrible to behold if this … person,” she indicated Willow, “can look upon you with no alarm.” She took a step forward to peer under the hood, but Vincent pulled back.
“Now is not the time for this, Milady. Let us find a place of safety and then, if you insist, I shall show you my face, although I think it would be better if I did not.”
“I shall make that decision when the time comes, good sir.” Elizabeth stated, firmly. “Now, let’s go someplace safer than here.”
Vincent nodded and turned to Willow. “You know the area best. Where is the closest safe place?”
“That would be Buffy’s house. Follow me.” That said, she turned and started towards some nearby houses. Vincent gestured for Lady Elizabeth to follow the redhead before bringing up the rear, keeping a watchful eye out for anymore monsters.
Vincent moved the curtains to one side so that he could look outside without drawing too much attention to himself. Willow was trying to get Lady Elizabeth to understand what was going on, with little affect. He had problems understanding the situation but Father had trained him to have a rational mind and to think things through logically. Given the differences in the body he occupied and what he remembered of his own body, he accepted what the red headed ghost girl had told him as truth, disturbing as it was. He did not believe that he was solely a figment of someone’s imagination that had been translated to television. And that revelation had been strange, to say the least! The idea of women, worldwide, wanting to have a romantic liaison with him because of a television show was unnerving. His mind believed that he was alive in another dimension that the show’s creator accessed in his subconscious. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” he said quietly to himself.
Vincent’s musing was interrupted by movement on the street, soon followed by a piercing scream. He was already moving toward the door when Willow exclaimed something about it being Cordelia as she would recognize that scream anywhere. Quickly, he left the house, scanning around him to make sure that there were no other attackers as he made his way towards the running girl and the creature following her. The screaming girl, Cordelia, tripped over a root and fell heavily as the dog-like creature howled in triumph. His cry was short lived as Vincent leaped into the air and landed between him and his prey with a deep roar and flaring cape. The dog creature quickly assessed the change in situation and realized that it didn’t have a chance against this predator. With a submissive yelp and whimper, he turned tail and ran back the way that he had come.
Vincent straightened from his defensive crouch and took a deep calming breath. He quickly flipped his hood back into place before turning to assist the fallen woman. She scrambled back in fear as he extended a hand toward her. “I mean you no harm.” Vincent tried to reassure the young woman. He stepped closer and extended his hand again. “Please allow me to help you.”
Cordelia gaped at this person reaching out to her. She knew the clothing, the voice; even the face but she couldn’t believe it. “Vincent? Is that you?”
Vincent stepped back and grimaced. This was going to get tiresome. He reached up and pushed back his hood. “My reputation precedes me, it would seem.” he said with a sigh. “I suppose you where an admirer of that program, as well?”
She responded with a squeal of delight and a star struck look in her eyes. These eyes narrowed slightly and a crafty expression crossed the beautiful brunette’s face. “I think I’ve hurt my ankle. Could you carry me?” she asked, with a piteous look in her eyes.
Sighing, Vincent leaned over and picked up the young woman. She immediately snuggled into him and sighed in contentment.
“My name is Cordelia.” She nuzzled his neck, slightly, almost causing him to drop her in shock. He had never had to deal with a woman as forward as this and he was nonplussed. He hurried to the house so that he could quickly relieve himself of this woman and her attentions.
As he entered the house, he was quickly set upon by Willow. Before she could begin talking though, a sharp gasp was heard causing everyone to turn and look at a very pale faced Buffy. She was staring at Vincent in a mixture of fear and awe as he realized that his hood was down. Cursing himself silently, he strode over to the couch and quickly deposited Cordelia there and hastened to pull up his hood. Before he could settle it in place, a small hand stopped him. He turned and looked at Lady Elizabeth in shock. She smiled at him in a trembling fashion and gently pushed his hood back. “I told you that I would judge you on your actions, not your appearance. The har… woman, Willow, was right. Your visage may be shocking, at first glance, but it contains nobility that anyone can see.” When she finished speaking, she took his hand in both of hers and kissed the back of it. “I do not fear you.”
Before Vincent could reply, there was a growl from below him. “Back off, bitch!” came a low voiced warning from the couch. “I saw him first!”
“I think not, strumpet!” replied the now haughty Lady Elizabeth. “I have been in his company for the last half hour, and therefore, ‘saw’ him well before you did.” She paused and looked down her nose at the woman on the couch in her revealing clothing. “Some of us have enough morals not to throw ourselves bodily at the first man they see.”
“You snooze, you lose!” snarled Cordelia. “I still saw him as potential man material first.”
“Well,” interjected Willow, “technically, I saw him first, especially seeing who he is under the costume.”
Vincent listened and watched as the three women argued over him. He grimaced and wondered if all the women of this place were going to be this way.
“Oooohhh! Kitten is now a lion, all full of nobility.” Drusilla moaned as she swayed. “Don’t cross the beast, Spikey. He will protect his beauty.”
Spike looked at Drusilla and shook his head. Tonight was too good a chance to get the slayer since he had found out that she was a scared noble woman now. Whatever was protecting her, he could take care of. Nothing in this town was bigger or badder than him, after all. “Sorry, luv, but this is too good an opportunity to miss.” He smiled at his sire and lover. “I’ll bring you back a nice little snack after I’m done with the slayer. Our very own trick or treat.” He turned and strode away, motioning for his minions to follow him.
Drusilla stared after her childe in sorrow. Unless he was very lucky, she would not see him again. Suddenly, she smiled coyly. “Kiitteeen.” she purred. “I think I’m going to go pet you and see if I can make you purr.” Still smiling, she slipped off her bed and glided through the door that Spike had left through earlier.
Angel came in the back door, entering the kitchen. “Buffy!” he called. “It’s crazy out…” That’s as far as his sentence got when he was suddenly picked up and slammed into the wall by a snarling Vincent.
“What are you doing here, creature?” demanded Vincent.
Angel’s eyes bugged slightly at the face he saw before him, not to mention the pressure on his neck. “I’m a friend.” he wheezed out.
“XANDER!” shouted Willow. “I mean, Vincent, its okay. He’s telling the truth, he is a friend.”
“But he has no pulse.” Vincent slowly lowered Angel, but did not release him. “His body is not above room temperature.” His nostrils flared. “And,” his lip curled in disgust, “he reeks of death.”
“It’s okay.” Willow reassured her friend. “He is a vampire, but he’s got a soul.”
Vincent looked at her silently, his face devoid of expression. “And how,” he asked after a moment of silent contemplation, “does that make him a good person?”
“Well,” Willow foundered for a moment, “it just does! Since he has a soul, it means he can’t be bad.”
Vincent took a deep inhalation and let it out through his nose with a grimace. “A soul does not guarantee good behavior, Willow. There have been very many abominations wrought by men with souls.” Before she could protest, he stopped her with three words. “Consider the Holocaust.” As he turned from the stricken look on his friends face, he growled at the vampire that was still in his grasp. “I will be watching you. The people in this house are under my protection and I take such matters seriously.” After speaking, he released Angel.
Angel rubbed his neck and glowered at the young man before him. “What is your problem, Xander? I know that it’s you, I can smell you. Or, at least, I smell most of your scent. There is another with it.” He looked at Willow in confusion. “What’s going on here?”
“We’ve been changed into our costumes.” she began explaining, only to be interrupted by Vincent.
“Not all, Willow.” he corrected, gently.
Willow’s mouth opened in a large ‘Oh’ of surprise and realization. “Cordelia hasn’t changed!” The statement no sooner left her lips when she turned back to the living room and the still arguing women.
Vincent followed Willow and listened to her question the brunette in the cat suit about where she got her costume. As he listened, he watched the dark vampire enter the room and approach the Lady Elizabeth. He gave a low growl of warning to remind the undead man that he was being watched and to behave himself. It became apparent though, that the vampire was only interested in the well being of the enspelled teenage woman, and that he had feelings for her. Vincent sighed as he thought of his own love for Catherine and was very grateful that she was not here. ‘Though,’ he mused silently, ‘it might have been interesting to see her reaction to Cordelia’s advances.’ A brief smile touched his lips at the thought, followed by a sigh. It pained him that he could not sense Catherine, but as long as she was safe in their world, he could deal with the separation.
Willow finally worked out that Cordelia had got her costume at a different store than they had. “I’ve got to get this information to Giles! Maybe he can do something with it.” Before anyone could say anything, she darted through the wall, running to find Giles.
This led to some interesting reactions by the people left behind. Cordelia, Buffy (AKA Lady Elizabeth), and Angel all jumped in shock as they had not been witness to Willow’s ghostly powers. Vincent leapt after her, before stopping at the door and growling in frustration as he realized that she was probably the best choice to go since nothing could touch her. That didn’t lessen his feeling of concern for his red headed friend, however.
Lady Elizabeth’s shock gave way to fear as she began to babble about ghosts, demons from Hell, and Judgment Day. Vincent moved to calm her but was beaten to it by Angel. The Vampire cast a glare at him that he returned with interest. Before he could remove the vampire from Elizabeth’s side, Cordelia grabbed his arm and pulled him around to face her.
“What the hell was that!?” she yelled. “Nerd Girl just walked through a wall!”
“Willow dressed as a ghost this evening.” Vincent explained.
Cordelia’s mouth dropped open for a second and then got a confused look on her face. “A ghost? A ghost of what?”
Vincent opened his mouth to reply, stopped, and cocked his head to the side in thought. He looked off into the direction that Willow had gone. “I don’t really know.” he confessed. “I never thought to ask her.”
Willow had not been gone long when things began to deteriorate in the house. Some of the transformed monsters managed to break in and, during the fighting, Angel showed his demonic face, scaring Elizabeth and causing her to flee from the house, screaming. Vincent and Angel gave chase after subduing the creatures, bringing along Cordelia because it was safer for her to be with them than alone. They caught up with the frightened woman as she was cowering against a wall with a pirate looming over her, intent on ‘pillaging’ his prize.
Vincent snarled and leapt in front of the pirate, delivering a backhanded blow that launched the buccaneer into the far wall, knocking him unconscious. Vincent’s lip curled up with a low growl as he looked at his fallen foe and wondered why a part of him felt very gratified with what he had just done. He turned around to see how Buffy/Elizabeth was faring when he was hit by a sobbing noble woman. Gently, he stroked her hair and crooned to her as he calmed her down. “All is well, Elizabeth. You are safe now.”
Slowly, her sobs subsided. Finally, she stepped back from Vincent and spoke to him. “Thank you, kind sir, for your rescue of me.” she said, her voice rough from crying. “I shudder to think what that ruffian had planned for me. You saved me from a fate worse than death. You have the true soul of a gentleman.”
“I did only what needed to be done.”
“It was most noble of you.” Lady Elizabeth looked at him for a moment and then seemed to steel herself. “Goodman Vincent, if it is not to bold to ask, do you have a lady?”
Vincent smiled as he answered. “Indeed, my lady, I do. The other half of my soul awaits me when this night is over.”
His smile vanished at what Cordelia blurted out next. “I thought Catherine was dead?”
Vincent spun to face the cheerleader. “What!?” he demanded in a hoarse whisper.
Cordelia, as clueless as usual, carried on, bluntly. “Yeah, don’t you remember? She was murdered right after she gave birth to your son who was then kidnapped. She died in your arms while you were saying something about death not having dominion. Jeeze, how could you forget something like that?”
“That’s because it hasn’t happened to him yet, Cordelia.” Angel explained, shaking his head at the obtuseness of the woman. He stared at his companion, feeling sorry that he had to find out these things that were in his future this way. “Vincent…” he began.
Vincent began shaking his head back and forth as if he could deny what he had heard. “No, I refuse to believe it! Catherine is not going to die! NO!” The leonine features twisted in sorrow and rage as he bellowed those words and, with a roar, spun away and ran into the darkness.
“Good going, Cordelia!” Angel reprimanded the stricken teenager. He cut himself off before ripping into her some more after seeing the horrified look on her face. Cordelia was clueless, sometimes, but she wasn’t totally heartless, and she now realized just how badly she had just hurt their protector. “Come on! We’ve got to catch up to him before he gets hurt.”
“Yes!” agreed Elizabeth, starting to run in the direction that Vincent had gone. “He may allow something to harm him in his grief.” She cast a withering look at the cat suit clad young woman who ran beside her. “If he is hurt from this, the fault lies with you!”
Cordelia dropped back a pace so that Buffy/Elizabeth couldn’t see her as she wiped away a tear from her cheek. “I know.” she whispered sorrowfully as she followed the possessed Slayer and Angel.
Vincent found himself in an alleyway between warehouses near the dock. He stopped running and breathed heavily for a few seconds before roaring and lashing out at the nearest crate, shattering it in his rage. Anger, fear, sorrow – all these emotions warred within him as he ripped the alley apart. Finally, he stood panting amid the broken crates before sinking to his knees with a moan. “Catherine.” His head bowed in sorrow, he didn’t see the approach of a dark haired woman.
She advanced slowly so as not to alert the kneeling man of her presence until she was beside him. She reached out her hand and gently caressed the top of his head. “There, there, my sweet kitten. All will be well. The stars have whispered it to me.”
Vincent almost jumped away from the woman who had come out of nowhere, but his soul craved comfort. He knelt, his silence broken by his harsh breathing, as this stranger stroked his head and crooned softly to comfort him. “It’s alright, kitten. Miss Edith has told me that you will return home and my own sweet kitten will return. You’ll soon be back to your lady love.”
Vincent’s voice was sorrowful. “But, she is to die.”
“‘Death shall have no dominion.’ You said that to her as she died.” The dark haired woman smiled. “And now, it shan’t.”
Vincent started to question her as to what she meant when a voice came from the side. “Step away from him, Drusilla.” Angel stepped out of the darkness. “Don’t make me hurt you.”
“Ooohhh, Daddy!” Drusilla pouted, and then giggled. “There was a time when you wanted to hurt me.” She held out her hand for Vincent to take. As she helped him stand, she cocked an eyebrow at he sire. “I don’t want to hurt my kitten just yet.” Her face took on a sultry look as she looked back at Vincent. “Unless he wants me to.”
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” shouted two women’s voices in unison. Cordelia and Elizabeth looked at each other in shock at the others outburst before nodding at each other. They would worry about who had possession of Vincent after they dealt with this interloper.
“Jealous, are we?” the vampiress smirked at the two women. She touched his arm, gently. “You needn’t be. His heart belongs to another.” She cocked her head to the side. “But my kitten’s heart is still up for grabs.” She turned quickly and stepped away into shadow. “Until later, kitten.” her voice called back, fading as she moved away.
Vincent stared after her in bemusement. “Strange woman.” Further commentary was halted by two female projectiles that hit him from both sides, both crying because they had feared for him and one crying even more for the pain she caused him.
“I’m sorry!” Cordelia kept repeating as she cried.
Vincent stroked the hair of both women as he tried to calm them. “All is well, ladies.”
“That’s what you think.”
Vincent released Cordelia and Elizabeth and spun to face the voice from the darkness with a snarl.
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” The tone was mocking as the speaker stepped into view. “I see two tasty bits and a fur rug.” Vincent growled in response and was echoed by Angel. “Peaches!” exclaimed the blond vampire. “Fancy seeing you here.”
“Leave, Spike, and I won’t kill you.” snarled the souled Vampire.
“Now where would be the fun in that?” responded Spike. “I heard about your little Slayer problem and figured that this would be the ideal time to bag my third Slayer.” He smiled as he changed to his vampire form. “Take ‘em, boys.” Minions rushed in from the shadows, attacking the two men. Spike waited until they had drawn the defenders away from the women before he struck. Moving in quickly when an opening presented itself, he backhanded Cordelia away from the Slayer and grabbed her around the neck. “Now, now, boys!” he called out. “I believe this gives me the upper hand.” He smiled in victory as he grabbed a handful of Elizabeth’s hair and roughly pulled her head to the side. However, several things happened then that he hadn’t planned on.
Vincent, seeing Elizabeth’s danger, roared in rage and shook off his attackers with a mighty heave, then leapt at William the Bloody, his claws flashing in the low light. Vincent brought his claws down in a vicious swing that was completed by Xander. The force of the blow carried over, but not the claws. The claws that Xander was wearing didn’t have the strength to cut through Spike’s coat and were ripped from his fingers as the struck. The strike may not have hurt him, but it was enough to distract the blond vampire from his prey. As he turned his attention back, he realized that he was no longer holding a woman’s hair; he was holding a wig. His eyes widened as he heard Buffy speak. “Hi, honey! I’m home!” just before she slammed a palm into his face. “Bloody Hell!” exclaimed the vampire in pain. He took in the fact that half of his minions had changed back into children and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. In other words, he took to his heels and ran.
Xander looked around at the children who were crying and sighed. “Let’s get you guys home.” He looked over at Cordelia, who was avoiding looking at him. “Hey, Cordy.” he called to her softly. When she looked at him, he smiled at her crookedly. “It wasn’t me, ya’ know. I know that so you don’t have to worry about anything.”
Cordelia snorted. “Like anyone would believe that I threw myself at you, Dweeb boy.” She turned her back and started herding together some of the kids, hiding the look of sadness and longing that crossed her face.
Xander smiled at Cordelia’s back and shook his head. ‘Same old Cordy.’ He sighed and looked at Buffy who was hanging on Angel. He grimaced as the souled vampire shot a look at him that just shouted ‘In your face!’. ‘Maybe so, Deadboy.’ he thought. ‘But, for a while, she couldn’t stand the sight of you, and I was her champion.’ He shook his head again and turned away, herding his group of children away into the night.
Xander sat in his room, staring at his reflection in the mirror above his dresser. He hadn’t removed the Vincent makeup yet and was deep in thought. He was remembering the night’s events and Vincent’s memories as well. Reaching into a pocket, he pulled out a picture of Catherine and traced a finger over it. “I hope you save her, big guy.” With a groan, he lay back on the bed. As he relaxed, he held up one of his hands and looked at it. “Man!” he groaned, again as he lowered his hand back to his side. “I wish I was like Vincent.” He yawned and rolled over, dropping into unconsciousness, never hearing the word “Granted!” spoken from the shadows of his closet. Halfrek looked down at the sleeping teenager. For years she had been hoping for an opportunity like this but the boy never would wish for anything for himself! She smiled as she watched the changes take place before laughing in delight and vanishing.
Xander sat up and yawned, stretching out his arms above his head. He smacked his lips together and brought his hands down to scratch at his sides which cause him to yelp when his claws dug into his skin a little deeper than he intended. He shook his sleep fogged brain to clear it before thinking ‘Oh, right! I forgot to take off this getup before I went to bed.’
Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and standing, he began whistling a disjointed tune as he pulled at the fur on the back of his hand. His whistle stopped as he grimaced in pain. “What the…” He pulled harder. All he got for his efforts was more pain. Almost frantic, Xander looked into the mirror. The costume had changed! It still had the same lion like look to it but instead of the Vincent look from the night before, a decidedly Xanderish version of Vincent stared back at him. He stumbled back in shock. “Oh, God!” he muttered, shocking himself again when he heard his voice. It had dropped an octave and had taken on a raspy sound. Stunned, he sat on the edge of his bed. “Now what do I do?” Silence was his only answer.
Giles waited for his water to boil. A nice cup of tea was just the thing he needed to start his day after the events of the night before. A tap on the door frame of his office attracted his attention. He turned his head and was surprised to see a hooded figure at the door. “Can I help you?”
The figure reached up and pulled his hood back to reveal the feline version of Xander. “Giles, I believe we have a problem.” came the raspy reply.
‘That,’ Giles thought as he removed his glasses and began cleaning them, ‘has got to be the understatement of the year.’
888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 A/N: Thank God! I thought I would never finish this thing. I have had an extensive bout of writer’s block. RL has been giving me a lot of problems lately. Hospital stays, heart attack scares, and a death in the family have made it hard to be creative, but I’m back now. I hope you enjoyed this one-shot.