Child of the Hellmouth
word count: 8504
She watched him as he slept, peaceful in the darkness of the night. He'd gotten back from patrol an hour ago, only making a quick sweep of the surrounding area, before collapsing into bed. Her precious little brother.
She could have lost him.
Botan shuddered a bit and pushed that horrible thought aside and locked it away. It wouldn't do to think about that. Still...the fear Tor must have felt when the coms were down, not being able to contact her, or Yusuke, or anyone. Especially with a demon like the Judge active and on the Hellmouth, oh the guys back in Japan could have taken care of him easily, but these kids...they weren't that strong yet. And Xander...could have easily died. That alone would have put Tor and the other kids at their wits end.
A small smile appeared on her face. Xander. He really was something else. If it weren't for him, things could have been so much worse. She was thankful he'd survived the Judge's touch, and that he was able to find a way to defeat the Judge. Still, it was worrisome. She had no idea how many tasks he'd have to complete before the Fates would be satisfied.
With a small sigh she stood from the chair she'd been sitting in and pulled the blankets up to Tor's chin before leaving his room. It was late and she too needed her rest.
As she entered her bedroom her eyes were drawn to the full length mirror against the far wall. The next time the coms were down she'd be ready; she wouldn't be caught without a way home again. Not when her little brother's life was at stake.
Xander sat under a tree, staring at the worksheet in front of him, the morning sun filtering through the leaves and warming him. As he waited for the first bell his mind wandered over recent events. Mostly Yusuke showing up after the whole Judge incident had been resolved.
Yusuke evidently had felt it when the Judge had touched him, and had gone into a panic when the communicators weren't working. Or the phones. Xander had agreed with him that the entire situation was crappy. When Yusuke told him the reason the coms were down he had a distinct urge to throttle Koenma. Some warning would have been nice. Stupid Spirit Prince.
But worst of all...the whole thing...the panic, the fear, the almost dying. It was all a test, a task to see if they would survive. And it was his fault, because he broke something he wasn't supposed to.
He didn't regret breaking the Prophecy. Nothing could make him regret that. He'd do it again if he had too. After all, he had people to protect.
Kyle's appearance drew him out of his thoughts. “Hey Kyle.”
“How did patrol go with Tor?”
“Not bad, he turned in early though. Then I killed a demon. Actually that part was odd. It was hunting Amy.”
“Amy Madison? Why is that odd?”
“It was identical to one I caught hunting her last week. Killed it too.”
“Huh. Hey Harris...the demons we kill...are they from that Makai place?”
“Nah. Makai's current ruler has forbidden anyone from interfering in the human world. That includes eating people.”
“So the demons here are?”
“From different dimensions or according to Botan a lot are native to this realm.”
There was silence for a moment before Kyle sat beside him, motioning to the homework in Xander's hands. “So… Spanish, huh?”
“Yeah, I'm pretty much stumped.” Xander smiled at him.
“You good with it?”
Kyle nodded. “Yeah, I'm in the Spanish Club.”
Xander gave him wide eyes. “There's a club for Spanish? Whoa.” Kyle rolled his eyes and snatched the homework away from him to look it over. Xander was quiet for a bit, however curiosity got the better of him. “So how did the double date with Willow and Oz go?”
Kyle smiled, his eyes never leaving the Spanish worksheet. “It was nice.”
“What was the movie about?”
“Too busy making out with Larry?” Xander's question made the smile turn to a smirk. “Willow had fun though right?”
Kyle looked up, his expression thoughtful now. “She did. She really likes him.”
Xander smiled. “Good. So, help me?”
Kyle gave him an odd look. “Why don't you just use the translator?”
The wide-eyed panicky look his alpha suddenly gave him was priceless. “Are you kidding? If Botan found out I used Reikai tech to cheat in school I'd be a dead Xander!”
Kyle snorted. “You are such a dork Harris.”
“That's Alpha Dork to you...wait. Quit laughing at me!”
Larry approached Oz as Willow walked away from the senior and towards Buffy. “Hey, you two okay?”
“I think so, but I think she's disappointed.”
Larry managed to look sheepish. “I guess we didn't help much.”
“It’s a free country. If you guys want to make out I'm not gonna stop you.”
Larry smiled a bit. “Yeah but we could have made things easier. Maybe you two should double date with Cordy and Xan next time. I hear he cooks.”
“I'll think about it...are you okay?”
Larry blinked. “Yeah. Why?”
Larry looked at his sleeve and lifted it to show a bandage with a couple of small blood spots. “Huh, must have pulled the stitches a bit...doesn't look bad though.”
Larry shrugged. “Got attacked by a stray dog. I ended up with thirty-nine stitches and a round of antibiotics in case the thing had rabies.”
Oz gave him a meaningful look. “You sure it was a dog?”
“Yeah. Animal control caught it and I identified it. Guess who the owner was.”
Oz made a face. “Harsh.”
Rhonda leaned against the lockers while Cordelia exchanged her books for a different set for her next class. She glanced at her younger sister, who met her eyes curiously. “So how goes the night watch?” Cordelia asked. “You're being careful right?”
Rhonda rolled her eyes and gave her a small smile. “Yes big sister.”
“Hey, I'm allowed to worry.” She grinned and her eyes were soft. “You're not patrolling alone right?”
“No. I'm usually with Heidi or Buffy. Last night though I stayed in. I had a short story to finish for The Razor's Edge.”
“When does the next edition come out? You know Daddy likes to frame all your work.”
Rhonda smirked. “And put it right beside your cheer-leading trophies.”
Cordelia shrugged and closed her locker. “Parents are weird like that.”
They moved as one down the hall for a moment before Rhonda glanced at her. “You should probably train with us in the library some time.”
“Where did that come from?”
“You aren't the only one who worries. The pack is pretty large, but you aren't always with one of us.”
Cordelia nodded. “I'll think about it. What are you doing tonight?”
Rhonda grinned and it was mischievous. “Bronze.”
Cordelia blinked in surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah. What about you?”
This time Cordelia grinned. “Dinner at Xander's.”
“Wow...since when do you do domestic?”
“Since I found a guy that can cook.”
Buffy and Heidi lounged on a bench while Willow stood behind the bench with her eyes closed in concentration.
“Anything?” Heidi asked as she watched a couple enter the ice cream parlor across the street from them.
“I think so.” Willow opened her eyes and stared at the shop across from them. “There's a demon.”
Buffy sat up straight. “Where?”
“...Getting ice cream...” Willow frowned as the door opened and a figure with a wide hat and a trench coat exited the ice cream parlor. It paused when it saw them before waving and going on, a tub of ice cream tucked under one arm.
Buffy stared after the figure. “What was that?”
Willow giggled. “I think it was Clem, a local neutral.”
Heidi glanced at her. “And you know Clem how?”
“He and Xander watch Star Trek reruns together and eat Cheesy Puffs.”
Buffy made a 'huh' noise and Heidi gave her a grin. “Good call by the way.”
“Thanks. Kagome has been emailing me all kinds of lesson plans and articles. I mean it would be better if she could actually train me in person and I talked to my parents about going to Tokyo this summer and they gave me a maybe!” She was grinning and bouncing as both blonds looked at her.
Buffy grinned as she stood. “That's exciting.”
Heidi stood as well, absently brushing her pants off. “Hey, everyone's homes have wards now right?”
Willow nodded. “Yep. Xander and I have put up some pretty good ones. He says he's not that good at it but truthfully his wards are better than mine...oh...oh...”
Buffy blinked at the sudden alarm on Willow's face. “What is it?”
Heidi eyed their surroundings warily. “Is there another demon?”
She shook her head. “I was wrong, not everyone has wards. Larry and Oz's homes don't have them yet.”
Heidi breathed a sigh of relief, glad that there was no immediate threat. “Mention it to Xander tomorrow.”
“Right, good idea.”
Buffy smiled and tugged on Willow's sleeve. “Come on. There are some new graves over at Pine Grove Cemetery.”
Willow bounced a bit more. “Yay! More practice!”
Heidi and Buffy smiled and shook their heads as they led the red head away from the street.
Dinner had gone smoothly. He'd opted for a more American tradition tonight, namely salad, pot-roast, potatoes, and carrots. And could he just say ‘yay for slow-cookers!’ By the time he'd gotten home from school the roast was so tender it fell apart, not to mention it had absorbed all the flavors from the seasonings he'd added. The best part though, was that Cordelia had liked it.
With the dishwasher loaded and the innards of the slow-cooker soaking in the sink he joined Cordelia in the living room. When he entered the living room Cordelia was on the couch, Marshal purring away in her lap as she pet him. He settled beside her and she smiled. Xander loved the quiet moments they shared. It proved that they had more than just hormones going for them.
“What?” She asked him, her expression one of curiosity.
“Nothing, just being.”
“Weirdo. So, are we going to patrol tonight?”
“You're really getting into this patrol thing.”
“Well, I'm pack right. I should do my part or whatever. And I think I might be an adrenaline junkie.” She frowned at that thought. “Except for the part where all the stuff out there still scares me silly.”
“That's not a bad thing. Fear is healthy. Keeps you alive longer.”
She nodded and settled against him, her head on his shoulder, his arm around hers. She spoke softer this time. “When did Marshal get so big?”
“When the Judge touched me.”
She shuddered a bit at the memory. “I always thought Marshal wasn't an ordinary cat. What's the deal?”
Marshal lifted his head up and met their eyes. I'm Xander's Spirit Beast.
“You two are just full of secrets.” She muttered.
“Yep. Basically he's a reflection of my soul. Yusuke's got one too; it’s a kind of bird...sort of like a giant blue phoenix. Only Puu started out as this little blue penguin thing with floppy ears.”
She shifted a bit to look at him. “Puu?” He shrugged and she snorted before giving him a serious look. “So Yusuke's Spirit Beast changed too.” Her eyes widened. “What happened to Yusuke?”
“He died. A second time.”
“Yeah. Actually that's how Yusuke and Botan met.”
“And Botan would be?”
“Okay buddy, back up. Are you trying to come clean about a whole bunch of stuff?”
He took a calming breath and tightened his hold on her just a bit. “I don't want to keep secrets from you.”
She stared at him for little longer. “So...Yusuke met Botan.”
“Right. She's a Spirit Guide. A Grim Reaper. She works for Reikai, the Spirit Realm, there's even more to her though, but it’s not relevant. Originally she stayed on the Hellmouth to keep an eye on me for Yusuke. Then she adopted Tor when his dad beat the crap out of him. She took Tonya's identity so she could keep him, however according to Tor; Botan's parents adopted him too.”
“And her parents are?”
“Well...Tor and Botan don't know that I know who their folks are and it might be a secret...and it’s not really important cause it doesn't have anything to do with Sunnydale.”
He smiled. “Kurama is a kitsune, which by the way actually just means fox. I think the way he described himself was a Spirit Fox that over time gained the powers of a demon. He's more than a thousand years old Cordy.”
“Wow...wait...you chose me and Spike over someone with that much experience?”
“But Spike's kisses make your brain melt. Didn't Kurama's kisses do that?”
He paused, mostly because he was surprised. It wasn't something he'd actually thought about. “Well...not really. He was good, don't get me wrong...but there was something missing.”
“And Spike and I have whatever it is you're looking for?”
“I think so.”
She smirked and settled back on his shoulder. “You realize all the secrets you're keeping from Willow and Buffy are gonna blow up in your face.”
He sighed, she was right, there was no doubt he was playing with a time bomb. “Yeah, it’s only a matter of time.”
“Well. I've decided something.”
“What's that Cor?”
“When it blows up...I'll be here.”
He grinned though she couldn't see it. “Really?” He asked as he kissed the top of her head.
“Duh! Do you know how hard it is to find a man who can cook...and do laundry?”
He snorted before letting out a mock growl and began tickling her for all he was worth. She jerked and shrieked, making Marshal jump from her lap as they rolled off the couch in a laughing heap. Xander continued to tickle her till she shouted Uncle in a breathless voice and they collapsed and lay beside one another catching their breath. Brown eyes met hazel and then their lips met and all he could do was kiss her.
The moon was large and bright overhead; it lit the night so that the only true darkness was within the trees that surrounded the clearing they were parked in. In all, it was a beautiful night, romantic even, not that the two hormone charged boys in the back of Larry's truck noticed. Larry was sitting in the bed of the small truck with his back to the cab; Kyle was happily straddled on his lap facing him as they kissed.
However Kyle was careful where he put his hands, mindful of the stitches on Larry's arm. So instead of clutching his boyfriend's biceps his hands traveled lower, over Larry's broad chest and lower still, to slip underneath the quarterback's shirt. They sighed together once his hands reached skin and started to slither around to the larger boy's sides. Larry's sudden gasp of pain when Kyle pressed just so on his ribs put everything to a halt and Kyle pulled away. He glanced at Larry's pained expression and lifted up his boyfriend's shirt, seeing clearly in the moonlight the beginning of what looked to be a colorful bruise.
He frowned as he smoothed the shirt back down. “What happened?”
Larry rolled his eyes. “O'Toole jumped me after school.”
“Why? Because of the fine he had to pay? He should have kept his dog at home.”
“Hey, I held my own...until he pulled out a knife.”
Kyle's eyes flashed green and he snarled. “What?” Larry gulped and a wave of pheromones surrounded them and Kyle was hard pressed not to purr.
“Nothing happened. Mr. Giles showed up, and can I say that man can be really scary? He took the switch blade from Jack like it was nothing. The look on O'Toole's face was priceless when Mr. Giles snapped it closed like he knew how to use it.”
Kyle smirked. “Yeah. Back in the seventies his friends used to call him Ripper.”
“Yeah. So, you're okay.”
“Just a bruise Kyle, I get worse from football practice. He didn't even crack my ribs.” Larry grinned and leaned forward to kiss him again. Their lips melded and clung together with their tongues coming into play easily, as if they'd always been doing this. It was like every move wasn't new and experimental, like they'd been together forever. And Kyle wanted to keep this, this moment, this kiss, he wanted it to last. But it wasn't to be. He pulled away from the kiss and looked out into the shadows of the trees, concentrating on his senses, which was hard with Larry now latched onto his neck.
“Larry. Larry, wait. Something's here.”
“Something? Like what?”
“I don't know. We're upwind so I can't get a lock on its scent...Get Down!” Kyle pushed himself up and moved in front of Larry just as a large hairy figure came flying out of the shadows. It lunged at them and Kyle kicked it back. It lunged again and Kyle hit it, this time growling and snarling, his eyes glowing as he kept himself between it and Larry. And Larry, being resourceful, put something cold and metal in his hands. One more lunge and Kyle hit the creature with the tire iron he now held. It yelped and scrambled out of the truck bed, growling at Kyle. Kyle let out the deepest growl he could muster, baring his teeth in warning, it worked, and the creature gave one last snarl before loping off into the night.
“What was it?” Larry's question was loud in the sudden quiet. Not even the crickets were chirping now.
“It wasn't a demon. Demon's have a feel to them...and you can tell by the smell.”
“Er...Werewolf?” He tossed the tire iron down and helped Larry to his feet.
Larry looked thoughtful. “It did sort of look like a wolf.”
Kyle smiled and moved in for a quick kiss. “Let’s get you home.”
Larry frowned but nodded. “Yeah, it did kind of ruin the mood.” He returned the kiss before they started to climb out of the truck bed. “Thanks for not letting it eat me.”
Kyle smirked as he reached for Larry's butt and gave it a quick grope. “That's my job anyway.”
Larry smirked. “Feeling's mutual Kyle.”
Buffy stared at them, a little worried frown on her face. “Are you guys sure it was a werewolf?”
They were gathered in the parking lot, going over the details of the night before when the creature had crashed Larry and Kyle's make out session. Also in the light of day they could see the scratched paint in the bed of Larry's truck and a few tufts of hair. Xander picked up one of those tufts and gave it sniff. Cordelia made a face and gave his arm a gentle smack.
“Ew. Could you be any grosser?” She asked him.
He gave her a pout. “I'm helping. Helping is crucial.” He ignored the snickers and giggles of the others. “Moving on, back to you guys.”
Larry hid his smile and shrugged a bit, his arm around Kyle's waist. “I guess. Kyle got a better look at it.”
Kyle nodded. “Trust me Summers, it was wolf-like. Fangs, snout, dog breath.”
“You sure? Any number of jocks fit that description...present company excluded.” Tor gave Larry an apologetic smile.
Larry made a waving motion to show he wasn't offended. “Yeah but none of the guys on the team are quite that hairy.”
Willow gave them a confused look. “What were you guys doing out there anyway?”
Larry blushed and cleared his throat suddenly not making eye contact with any of them. Kyle simply gave her a raised brow and a pointed look before saying: “Breaking in the bed of Larry's truck.”
She continued to look confused until Oz patted her shoulder gently and shared a smile with her. Then realization dawned and she blushed. “Oh...Oh! Gotcha.”
Giles meanwhile was not looking at any of them as he'd suddenly found his glasses and the apparent dirt on them very fascinating. “There was a report of some animal mutilations last night.”
Willow gave the Watcher wide eyes as he slipped his glasses back on. “Like Bunnies?” Her voice came out as a squeak.
Oz moved to comfort her. “Bunnies are tougher than everyone thinks.”
Kyle snorted. “No kidding. Heidi has one; crazy thing attacks everyone except Heidi. I nearly lost a finger to it a couple of years ago.”
Heidi flipped him off. “I told you not to stick your hand in Lucy's cage. And she doesn't attack everyone. She likes Rhonda.”
“Don't drag me into this. Lucy only likes me because I bring her treats.” Rhonda muttered holding up her hands in a gesture of surrender.
Kyle glared at Heidi. “I didn't think she'd try to rip my hand off, I had to have stitches after that.”
Xander rolled his eyes, “Enough guys.” They quieted down and he turned to Willow. “Feel better? The vicious bunnies are tough cookies.”
The red head gave a sigh of relief. “Oh good...well er...you know what I mean.”
Kyle gave her a grin before focusing on Giles. “So...what do we do about the Wolf?”
Giles gave a sigh. “I suppose we'll have to wait until the next full moon to try and catch it.”
Xander blinked. “Uh Giles...last night wasn't the full moon.” He blinked again. “It wasn't, was it Wills?”
“Nope. Tonight is the full moon...how did you know Xander?”
He shrugged. “Sometimes the demons get a little frisky on the full moons, not always though. Also my calendar doesn't usually lie to me.”
Giles looked surprised. “Really...this could mean that the legends are wrong. This is rather exciting.” He smiled. “This calls for some research. I'll see you lot later, don't be late to class.” He walked away, a bounce in his step that had been missing since the fall out with Ms Calendar.
Xander watched with a mild shudder. “I never thought I'd see a grown man so giddy.”
Tor nodded as they watched Giles walk away. “Is he skipping? Tell me he's not skipping.”
Cordelia frowned at the sight. “Can we forget we ever saw that?”
Buffy nodded. “Believe me it’s already forgotten...maybe this Father's day we can get him a pet… or a book on hobbies or something.”
Kyle smirked. “As long as we don't get him a killer rabbit.” He barely dodged the book Heidi threw at him.
Coach Foster walked back and forth in front of the class where they were grouped on the bleachers. Xander only half listened to what she was saying. He was too busy watching Oz tuck the tag into Willow's shirt. He smirked and pointed it out to Cordelia who rolled her eyes, but smiled anyway.
Suddenly the class started to climb down from the bleachers and he blinked in confusion. “What are we doing?”
Cordelia snorted. “If you had listened you would know.”
He gave her a pout, one that was two seconds away from his puppy eyes. “But Cordy.”
Her lips twitched in a not quite smile. “Alright. We're getting into groups for self defense training.”
“Oh. Okay. So you're gonna throw me around huh?”
He gave her a little smirk. “This could be our most fun gym class yet.”
“Dork.” She said, but there was the faintest tinge of pink to her cheeks.
Larry moved toward Theresa, “Hey Theresa.” Theresa looked up at him, her eyes wide, and her body tense.
He frowned. “You okay?”
His question seemed to surprise her; she gave him a slightly puzzled look and responded with: “Um...maybe?”
“So you're not sure?”
“No...Because usually you'd be harassing me by now, and you're not, and so it's suspicious.”
“Oh.” He had the grace to look away and felt his face heat up. “All that...the aggression...and stuff. Sorry. I'm sorry about all of that.”
She blinked at him. “Who are you and what have you done with the real Larry?”
Luckily Buffy chose that moment to bounce into being beside them. “Hey Larry, Teresa.”
If Larry was straight he would have kissed her for the welcome distraction. “Summers.” He gave her a crooked smile. “Try not to break me?”
Buffy grinned. “Don't worry, I'll return you to Kyle in one piece.”
“Thanks, but I was talking about the stitches on my arm.”
Theresa looked from one to the other. “Kyle?”
Buffy looked at her and smiled. “Oh...you didn't know?”
“Larry and Kyle DuFour are dating.”
Theresa's jaw dropped as she stared at Larry...then it was as if she was putting all the pieces together and she saw the light all at once. “Wow.”
Larry gave her a sheepish smile and hoped he wasn't blushing too much. Buffy giggled and tapped his good arm to get his attention. “How is your arm by the way?”
“Better. It'll be a while before the stitches come out. So take it easy.”
Giles adjusted the globe and moon during his explanation. “While scientifically unexplainable the phases of the moon do seem to influence the human psyche, and the full moon seems to have the greatest influence of all the phases. It brings out our darkest and wildest sides.”
Rhonda frowned as she looked at the model to him. “I haven't really felt a difference on those nights.”
“Really? How odd, I thought that you five would be especially influenced by the moon, not to the extent of actually changing form of course.”
Xander shuddered. “Which we are more than grateful for.”
Willow shook her head. “But Giles, whenever they tap into their hyenas aren't they already entering their more wild side.”
“Good point. Anyway, the werewolf may be completely unaware that they aren't human any more. The changing back and forth probably leaves them disoriented, confused, along with blank spots in their memory.”
Buffy glanced at Xander and Rhonda. “Can't you guys just sniff it out?”
“The hair in the back of Larry's truck wasn't fresh enough, not to mention it got blown around a bit back there. If there had been blood or skin attached I might be able too. But I don't know if I could find them when they’re in human form.”
“Well. If they change their form, their scent might change too. So their human smell might be completely different from their wolf smell.”
“Darn. There goes that plan.”
Rhonda threw a pencil at her, which the slayer caught. “Besides Summers, we're not your own personal bloodhounds.”
“Yeah, but it would have been so much simpler if you could just track it down.”
Xander nodded. “True.”
Willow shifted and rested her chin on her fist. “So, how do we catch it? We are catching it right?”
“Yes, catching the wolf would be our best option. I only wish we had more than one tranquilizer gun.”
“That would be something to look into for future use.” Xander sighed. “So tonight some of us go wolf hunting.”
Buffy gave him a look. “And what are you going to do?”
“Start Cordy and Larry's training with the weapons.”
“Ah, good idea.”
Buffy and Heidi giggled as they trekked among the parked cars towards Giles, who was shining his flashlight into the vehicles. Buffy frowned a bit, that didn't make much sense, the werewolf would be coming from the woods...not a back seat. “Think Giles likes to watch?”
Heidi shuddered. “Eww. I did not need that image in my head.”
Giles made his way over too them. “Have either of you seen anything?”
Heidi grinned. “Just enough gossip material to make Cordy very happy for like the next six months.” The look Giles gave them was not overly amused.
Buffy shrugged. “No werewolves. There would have been a lot of yelling if we had spotted one.”
“Good point. I thought we might start knocking on a few windows; see if anyone has seen anything.”
Heidi snorted. “Like a backseat?”
Buffy shook her head. “And again, there would have been screaming.”
Heidi nodded. “Good screams from a backseat, bad screams if the wolf showed up.” She grinned. “There hasn't been any screaming at all.”
“Right. No wolf then...we should...just stay vigilant then.” He wandered away again, avoiding any possible embarrassment.
“You are so very bad.” Buffy elbowed her gently.
“I have my moments.”
They moved away from the more populated area in favor of a spot where the trees were thicker and made for better cover. Like say for a werewolf that was skulking about. They moved quietly now, with a hunting intent, Buffy kept her eyes open and Heidi scented the air.
“Anything?” Buffy asked.
“Nothing like a dog, but someone's--” Her eyes widened as Buffy was snatched up into the trees by a net, “Been here recently. Hey Summers.”
“I don't think we're the only ones hunting tonight.”
“Really? What was your first guess?”
Before Heidi could make a sarcastic reply a man came bursting out of the bushes, gun raised and pointed at her. “Got'cha!” He called out as Heidi raised her hands in surrender, not wanting to chance getting shot. Buffy however yelled for help.
“Giles!” Her call was all it took to bring her ever faithful Watcher running to them...only to end up with the gun pointed at him.
“What the bloody hell? Who are you?”
“Name's Kane, and since I'm the man with the gun I'll be the one hosting this interview--” Heidi promptly grabbed his rifle, pointed it in the air and proceeded to kick him to the ground. The gun stayed in her hands when he hit the dirt.
She smirked down at him, keeping out of reach. “You were saying?” He glared at her. “Cut my friend down please. Gently.”
He sneered at her but did as she told him. Once the slayer was once again safe on the ground the man called Kane whistled and tipped an imaginary hat at Giles. “Have to say I'm impressed.”
Giles voice was tight and controlled, not liking Kane's implication. “Excuse me?”
“Have a thing for young blonds? Can't say I blame you. These two are ripe for the picking.”
Giles removed his glasses, almost like he was getting ready to beat the stranger to a bloody pulp. “I suggest you take that back.”
“Hey, easy. It’s a compliment, though how you keep up with these two bombshells is beyond me.”
Giles made a move toward him, but Buffy managed to grab him before he actually laid a hand on him. “Okay, easy now Giles. And you Filth for Brains, no more icky comments.”
“If he makes another one can I shoot him?”
“No one ever lets me have any fun.” Heidi pouted and Buffy ignored her.
“Hey what a group of people do at Make Out Point is their own business.”
“Can I hit him instead?”
“Enough Heidi,” Buffy scolded her before turning to look at Kane. “We're not here for pleasure, we're hunting...werewolves.” Kane snorted before doubling over in laughter. “Maybe I should let Heidi hit you. I mean its not your normal explanation, but it’s not that funny.”
“Sorry. It’s just the thought of you three hunting a werewolf. A bunch of amateurs like you are just gonna get yourselves killed. You're not even armed.”
“I can assure you these young ladies are quite capable.”
“Sure they are. How many of these animals have you taken out?”
“Ever?” Buffy asked.
Kane gestured to the necklace of teeth around his neck. “I tore a tooth from every one I killed.” Heidi growled at him and he looked at her, his eyes widened a bit. “So what are you?”
“Easy Heidi. She's human...you're just gonna kill it? The Werewolf?” Buffy asked, hoping to distract him from Heidi's otherness.
“They're a little hard to skin when they're alive, and their pelts bring in some decent pocket change on the black market.”
Giles swallowed. “Good god man. You hunt them for sport? They're human beings. Most of the time anyway.”
“Sport nothin'. I'm in it for the cash. Now, if you'll excuse me I've got a wolf to track. If it’s not here it'll be where ever else the kids like to party. The beasts love that whole hormones on parade thing you teenagers do. Can I have my gun back sweetheart?”
Heidi grinned at him...and tossed it into the woods. “Fetch.”
Kane glared at her and disappeared into the night.
“Nice.” Buffy smirked before dragging them in the opposite direction. “We gotta go. I might know where the wolf is gonna show up.”
“And where would that be?” Giles asked as he stumbled along.
Heidi snorted. “Where else?”
Buffy nodded. “The Bronze.”
Tor was really starting to appreciate how useful Marshal was, and he understood why Xander on occasion liked to patrol with only his spirit beat for company. Marshal was excellent bait; the demons thought he was just an ordinary cat, though a large one, right up until he bit a chunk out of a leg. Its pretty dead tonight.
Marshal stretched before moving a bit ahead of him.
“Yeah, I thought we might have at least seen the werewolf by now.” I'm gonna circle around the back street, see if anything is skulking behind the houses.
Marshal didn't reply as he disappeared over a fence, leaving Tor alone with his thoughts. He walked along a bit longer, catching sight of a couple talking on the sidewalk. The girl looked back toward him, almost nervously, and he recognized her. Theresa Klusmeyer. And the man with her...was Angel. Shit.
Tor moved swiftly, and as quietly as he could he crept through the yards, coming to a stop beside them, behind some shrubs. He could hear Angel comforting Theresa.
“It gets sort of scary at night when you're all by yourself. Hey...don't I know you?”
Tor jumped over the shrub and tackled Angel, knocking the vampire to the ground. However Angel seemed to be ready for him as he managed to get Tor into a choke-hold. Briefly he managed to scream “Run!” at Theresa before air became an issue.
He struggled as Angelus laughed. “You will make such better present for dear Buffy than the girl would have.” His game face flash forward and Theresa's scream sounded loudly throughout the night. Tor wondered briefly if something else had grabbed her while he'd been busy...at least until a heavy canvas backpack hit Angelus square in the face, knocking him away from Tor. Tor gasped for air, and in shock as Theresa hit the vampire again.
If he'd had the breath to spare he would have laughed, but time was of the essence, whatever that meant and they needed to get indoors. “Come on.” He grabbed her and dragged her away. “We need to get to your house. Vampires can't come in without an invitation.”
Theresa nodded as she kept hold of him, switching their roles as she dragged him toward her home. Tor looked over his shoulder as they ran and wished he hadn't. Angel was chasing them...and he was catching up fast.
Fortunately Marshal hopped a fence and managed to trip the vampire, sending Angelus sprawling all over the pavement. The next thing Tor knew Theresa had dragged him down another street, into a yard and through a side door. Marshal barely made it inside before she slammed the door shut and locked it. She was breathing heavily as she let the door support her weight and she looked at Tor. “Vampires?”
“Are real. I need to...put up some wards.” She gave him a blank look. “He can't get in without an invitation...but I'd feel better if you had some extra security.”
“Go ahead. Then maybe you can tell me what's going on.”
Tor gave her a calm smile. “As much as I can. I'm also going to need your phone, see if my sister can come pick me up, because I'm not walking home if he's still out there.”
Willow looked over at Rhonda, who was sitting beside her, watching the other patrons at the Bronze dance and mill about with a frown marring her face and Willow sighed. “Sorry about your date with Owen.”
Rhonda met her gaze, her gray eyes were sad though she gave Willow a small smile. “It’s okay.”
“Ya know he's been all Danger Man since he nearly got killed on a date with Buffy.”
Rhonda snorted. “Huh. I just wanted to dance. Get a burger...maybe some ice cream.”
“What did he want to do?”
“Go down to the docks and spy on all the 'gangs'.” Rhonda rolled her eyes as she made air quotes at the word gangs.
“Sorry. But, you know we could go get ice cream, do the moping thing with cold ice creamy goodness. It’s not like I have any plans, what with Oz not being here, or anywhere.”
“Dating is not all the sunshine and rainbows you thought it was, is it?”
“I don't know. I've never dated anyone before. I can't figure him out.”
“Welcome to the mystery that is men.”
Willow sighed, and before she could form a response the werewolf crashed through the skylight and landed on the coffee table in front of them. Luckily Rhonda's reflexes were fast and she kicked the wolf backwards and away from them before practically picking Willow up and running with her toward the exit.
When they got outside Giles, Buffy and Heidi were just clambering out of Giles' car. Willow grasped Buffy's hands. “The werewolf is inside!”
“Right, Wills, stay with Giles. Rhonda, you're with me and Heidi.”
Rhonda nodded as she and Heidi fell in step behind Buffy and they entered the Bronze.
“How did it get in?” Heidi whispered as they walked around various pieces of toppled furniture.
“Skylight.” Rhonda murmured. “Buffy? What's the plan?”
“Tie it down, lock it up.” Buffy held up a hand for silence, then pointed at a shadow behind a beaded curtain. “Get ready.” She whispered as she slid her backpack from her shoulders and retrieved a large chain from its depths.
They flanked her and followed her into the next room. Nothing. Heidi and Rhonda shared a look and spread out further, each listening for the sound of claws scraping the floor. The scent of the wolf was strong and they couldn't tell where exactly it was coming from as it seemed to be everywhere and was mixed with all the other smells that filled the club.
The stairs to the stage were empty as well; however the wolf appeared on the other side and made a grab for Rhonda. She dodged, just barely and Buffy managed to throw and loop the chain around its neck. Rhonda and Heidi tackled it, bringing it to its knees; however it was stronger than they were expecting it to be. The wolf reared up, bringing its teeth close to Heidi's face and she moved away to avoid them. Rhonda was tossed aside as Buffy and the chain were dragged into the drum set and the wolf crashed through a window and escaped into the back alley.
Kane frowned at the three of them. “You chickadees are a real piece of work. It’s bad enough a bunch of girls try to do a man's work, but it’s worse when you screw things up and let a monster get away.”
“Are you sure I can't bite him?” Heidi asked as Kane walked away from them.
“It’s tempting...but we still have a wolf out there on the prowl. Rhonda, take Willow home please.”
“You got it.”
Xander watched Buffy pace back and forth across the library, like an angry lioness on the prowl. Her movements were controlled and tense. “Buffy, relax. The wolf hasn't hurt anyone yet; we still have one more night to catch it.”
Willow nodded and blinked. “Also, you're kind of making us dizzy.”
Buffy paused and gave them an apologetic look. “Sorry...but we have to catch this thing before Kane kills it.”
Xander turned to the sound of footsteps, a very pale and tense Oz walked in. “Kills what?”
Giles straightened from his position of leaning over the table. “There is a hunter in town. He plans on killing the wolf for its pelt, there is evidently money to be made off such a thing.”
Buffy shuddered. “So we have to catch it first, before he kills them.” Her eyes landed on Xander. “Rhonda and Heidi said there was something familiar about the werewolf.”
Xander looked at her in thought, but it was Willow who spoke. “Could it be a student?”
Giles sighed and took off his glasses, wearily rubbing at his eyes. “Possibly. I just wish we could have caught it last night.”
Buffy nods. “Yeah, but it came close to munching on Heidi, if she hadn't let go of it...”
Oz gulped. “Is she okay?”
Buffy nodded, “Yeah.”
Xander leaned towards Oz as he continued to think. “No one’s been acting any more aggressive than usual. No new attacks have made it into the paper. So that doesn't help.” Without realizing it he'd leaned even closer to Oz... and sniffed.
Oz twitched. “What are you doing?”
“Your cologne...is different.”
“I'm not wearing any.”
“Huh.” He sniffed again.
Willow was giving him wide eyes, while Giles was trying not to find the scene humorous. Buffy however didn't hide her amusement. “Xander, what have I told you about sniffing at the guests.” She grinned.
He blinked again. “Sorry. I'm gonna...go away now.” He circled around Oz, still thoughtful and exited the library.
Oz blinked. “Okay...”
Willow giggled. “Don't worry about it. Xander still channels his inner hyena.”
“Right...I heard about that.”
Xander nearly plowed into Tor and Theresa as he walked away from the library, so lost in his thoughts he didn't notice them until the last second. “Hey Tor...what's wrong?”
Tor motioned to the pale girl beside him, who seemed jumpier than he remembered her being in gym class the day before. “Angel almost got Theresa last night. Marshal helped us out. I had to give her the rundown.”
“Huh. You're both okay?” He scented the air, happy when he didn't pick up any blood from either of them.
“Yeah...why weren't you patrolling last night?”
“Kyle and I were familiarizing Cordy and Larry with the weapons.”
Tor nodded. “Good idea.”
Xander glanced at Theresa again. “Theresa, you need to get a cross, preferably a wooden one and keep it with you or maybe some jewelry with a cross on it and a stake.” She nodded. “We patrol every night and there are a lot of us, but we can't be everywhere.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
Tor smiled. “Come on, I'll walk you to class.”
Giles was loading the tranquilizer gun when Willow burst into the library, her clothes were dirty, torn, and Tor was across the room and at her side in an instant. Drawn to her in an effort to chase away her fear. “Willow?”
Buffy joined him, putting her hands on the other girls' arms. “Breathe Wills, come on, deep breaths.”
“It’s Oz!” She all but gasped.
Tor tilted his head and brushed some debris out of her hair. “What's Oz?”
“Good lord, are you sure?”
“I'm way sure Giles. I went to his house because of all the wonky mixed signals he's been giving me. And he told me to leave, he was going through some changes and I didn't leave and then he went through those changes and I ran.” She took a breath. “That is the tranq gun right?”
“Oh, yes. No worries. Just going to knock him out for the night.”
“Focus Willow, where is he?” Buffy asked her.
“Still in the woods. I'm not sure what happened. One second I'm on the ground and I thought my almost boyfriend was gonna eat me...and then he wandered off. Like something else got his attention.”
Buffy frowned. “Something like our not so friendly werewolf hunter.”
“Buffy...we have to save him.” She shuddered and Tor pulled her into a hug.
“Come on. We have a friend to save.”
They got to Oz first, just barely. The wolf had been hovering over a large piece of raw meat while Kane was taking aim with his rifle. Buffy rushed at the wolf to distract him while Giles took aim with his own gun and Tor blindsided Kane, knocking him out.
Then there was a bit of chaos. Giles couldn't make the shot because the wolf and Buffy were moving too much and too fast. And then when the wolf couldn't sink its teeth into her it threw her and sent her crashing into them, the tranquilizer gun went flying into the underbrush. Buffy and Tor struggled to untangle themselves and stand as the wolf approached them. Luckily Xander came out of nowhere with a snarl on his lips and his teeth bared in challenge.
He tackled the large creature and they rolled, struggling for dominance. For a moment it looked like the wolf was going to win, its teeth bared in some sort of sick victory grin. But Xander punched it square in the face, it howled in pain as he tackled it again, this time holding it down with all his strength. The wolf growled in defiance, drool escaping its mouth, and Xander let out the deepest growl they'd ever heard from him, his eyes turning solid green, and for a moment it looked like his teeth were sharper.
The wolf paused in surprise, then shuddered and offered its throat. Xander dove down and grabbed the offering with his teeth and bit hard, somehow avoiding drawing any blood. The wolf became limp and Xander pulled back, their eyes met and though it looked like the wolf was glaring at him its gaze slid away from his.
Slowly Xander rose from the wolf and kept his eyes on it. “Willow. Do you have the tranq gun?”
“Yeah...I found it. Do I need?”
He nodded. “Just in case. He's stronger than I thought he'd be.”
“Okay. I'm sorry about this Oz.” She took aim and squeezed the trigger. The dart hit and a few moments later Oz was out cold.
“It’s no wonder this town is full of monsters with freaks like you brats running around.” Kane quipped as he rubbed at his head. “What the hell are you?”
Buffy picked up his gun and bent it nearly in half. “We're the Sunnydale Pack.” She tossed his gun to him. “I ever see you in our town again you won't be leaving it.”
“With a bunch of monsters like you here there's no reason to come back.”
Xander snorted. “You know...sometimes the worst monsters around, aren't monsters at all. They're called humans.” His eyes flickered. “Now get out.”
Kane held up his hands and fled into the night.
They watched in amusement as Willow trekked back to Oz to plant a kiss firmly on his mouth before she headed to class. Kyle tilted his head. “Harris?”
“Let's go.” Xander moved across the quad, the Feral Four at his back as they made their way to Oz. They stopped and surrounded him, Xander stayed in front of the older boy.
Oz met his eyes for a moment, and then looked away, “Alpha.”
Oz seemed surprised by the question and the concern in Xander's eyes. “I think so.”
He nodded and placed his hands on Oz's shoulders. “You're not alone. You need us we're here. You're pack now.”
A look of relief crossed Oz's features. “Thanks.”
Each of them put a comforting hand on Oz's shoulder's or back before the four walked away, leaving him alone with Xander. Tor crossed the quad to Theresa while Kyle dragged Larry away, probably to find a roomy closet and the girls left together.
Xander met his eyes again. “If the wolf gets out of hand let me know. We'll help you blend and stay in control.” Oz gave him a confused expression. “The wolf won't stay separate. Eventually you and the beast will be one and the same.”
“Is that what happened to you guys?”
Xander nodded and then drew the shorter boy into his arms. “Welcome to the Pack.”