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Bar'Tal the Bounty Hunter

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Children of Bar'Tal". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Xander's Halloween costume changes him permanently and sends his life on a different path. Xander/Cordelia pairing. [Xeno warning]

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Star Wars > Xander-CenteredScorpioFR21537,778258127,47924 Jul 1027 Jul 10Yes

NOTE: This story is rated FR21 which is above your chosen filter level. You can set your preferred maximum rating using the drop-down list in the top right corner of every page.

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Chapter Two

***

Xander fidgeted in the passenger seat of Cordelia’s car and tried not to brood.

The whole shower thing hadn’t been as bad as he’d feared. Mostly because Cordelia had taken it upon herself to help him shampoo and condition his fur. Her small hands massaging all his muscles and limbs felt great and pushing her up against the tile wall and pounding his throbbing cock into her tight wet hole had totally made up for the fact that he was soaking wet.

Standing on a towel in the middle of her bathroom for a half-hour while she brushed out his fur while blow-drying it had also been nice, if bizarre. He’d never had his back blow-dried before and as weird as it sounded, it had felt incredible. In the end it had been worth it because his fur was now clean, sweet scented and extremely soft to the touch.

On the down side, he’d discovered just why Trianii tended to avoid wearing clothing if at all possible. Pulling on clothes over fur was an exercise in frustration. He hated the way it tugged his fur the wrong way and bunched it up into clumps and tufts.

Cordelia wouldn’t let him leave her rooms naked though, and to be honest, the human part of him wasn’t interested in wandering around with his boy-parts hanging there in the breeze for everyone to stare at. Letting Cordelia see him wearing nothing but fur was one thing, but Giles and the gang was another.

So, he’d put on the brown pants from his costume since it already had a hole cut out for his tail. He’d also put back on the tanker boots, the wrist bracers, and his belt. He refused to wear a shirt, however, and nothing Cordelia said changed his mind. She’d finally given up that argument with a huff, but he didn’t think she really minded since whenever she got distracted she ended up petting him.

And oh yes, Daddy liked.

Before he knew it, Xander was pulled from his thoughts as they turned into the parking lot at the school. Thankfully, Giles’ car was there. His stomach twisted with nerves. He wasn’t sure how to explain this to the Scooby gang’s mentor, but it was sure to give everyone headaches.

With a sigh, Xander climbed out of Cordelia’s car and followed her across the grounds and into the school. They went straight to the library and found Giles sitting at the main research table with a bunch of books out and a cup of tea at hand.

The man looked exhausted. He was wearing the same clothes from yesterday, his hair was in disarray, and his skin seemed wane and gray. He looked up at them as they walked in and gasped.

“Dear Lord!”

He stood from his seat and pushed his book aside, concern and worry etched into his face.

“Cor..Cordelia. C…could you please introduce your…” Giles waved a hand at Xander, “companion and explain what’s going on?”

Cordelia snorted and thumped Xander on the chest with one hand.

“This is Xander, Giles! Last night he got turned into his costume. Some sort of alien Bounty Hunter guy. Only, after a while his real memories came back, but he’s still stuck in his costume. He’s a real live lion-boy now!”

“Dear Lord!”

Giles whipped off his glasses, gave them a brief polishing, and then settled them back on his face. He stepped closer and leaned forward to get a good look at the felinoid creature standing in his library.

“Xander?”

Xander responded with a soft growling rumble. His throat mic translated; “Yeah, Giles. It’s me in here.”

“How?...What?...How?...” Giles stuttered.

“Three very good questions.” Xander flashed a bit of fang in a Trianii grin. “I have no idea on the how. All I know is that I was taking the kids trick-or-treating last night and then I turned into my costume. I thought I really was Bar’Tal. I had all his memories and everything. Then, after a while, I knew that I was really Xander and Bar’Tal was just a pretend person; a costume. Only, the fur is real and I’m stuck with the body of a Trianii.”

Cordelia frowned and titled her head up at him. “A tria-what-y?”

“Trianii. It’s the name of this,” Xander thumped his own chest, “species.”

Giles stumbled back and leaned heavily against the research table.

“Why on earth did you choose to costume as a demon, Xander?”

“Hey!” That growl was more roar than purr. “Not a demon. Alien. From outer space, in fact.” He paused in thought with his head tilted to the side in a surreal cat-like movement. “Huh, I still remember how to pilot Bar’Tal’s space ship.”

“I…I see.”

“Well, I don’t!” Cordelia exclaimed. “How the hell did geek-boy turn into cat-boy?”

Giles sighed and waved them over to the table. “Come sit down and I’ll try to explain what I know.”

Xander sat in one of the chairs, careful to tuck his tail back in such a way as to not sit on it. That hurt and was a mistake that one only made once. Cordelia leaned against the table next to him, nearly close enough to touch. It was all he could do to keep his tail from swinging over and rubbing up against her smooth curvy legs.

“Last night,” Giles began, “a chaos mage of my acquaintance named Ethan Rayne cast a spell that affected all the people who acquired costumes from his store. While the spell was active, everyone who purchased at least a part of their costume from him turned into their costume.”

Xander frowned without realizing just how frightening that expression looked on a being with a muzzle full of fangs.

“Um…I bought my goggles, and guns and stuff from him. The lion’s mask and paws were made for me by my Uncle Rory.” He rolled his eyes. “He’s a taxidermist and he made them from a real lion.”

Cordelia kicked out at his leg with one foot.

“Okay, that’s kinda gross and morbid, don’cha think?”

Xander huffed a rumbling laugh that was mostly purring. “I live on a Hellmouth and help the Slayer hunt vampires and demons as a hobby. Dead lion parts just aren’t enough to make my wiggins-meter ding anymore.”

“Yes, well,” Giles broke into their semi-flirting with a fake cough. “The point I was trying to make was that I ended that spell last night. You should have returned to normal immediately. I have no idea why you retained your…feline, uh…physiology.”

Xander nodded and bit back a whine. He’d hoped that Giles would just simply know how to fix it, but that really was too much to ask for.

“Okay. Well, should we call up Wills and the Bufster to invite them over for a nice relaxing research party?”

“Uh…” Giles’ face crumpled into a look of haunted regret. “That…that might not be something that we can do. At…at least for a day or two.”

“What?” Cordelia scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous Giles. I know Buffy and Willow are losers, but they adore this big lug.” She pointed at Xander. “There’s no way that they wouldn’t want to help him out.”

Giles’ hand slammed down on the table and he roared, “Don’t call them names!”

Xander’s eyes widened and Cordelia flinched back.

Giles sighed and raised his hands to pull off his glasses with one and face-palm with the other.

“Cordelia…I’m terribly sorry.” He sighed sadly. “I…I shouldn’t have shouted at you. It’s just…last night Buffy also turned into her costume. A noblewoman from the 18th century. Just like Xander, her true memories were locked away magically and she became a terrified and pampered woman who was completely unprepared for the events that happened.”

He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, pain and sorrow etched onto his features.

“Spike somehow realized that she would be easy prey. He chased her through the streets, gloating and taunting her the entire time. Buffy was with Willow, but she had also turned into her costume; a ghost. As such she literally could do nothing but scream for help.”

“Angel heard Willow’s cry and rushed into the alley where they were being held, but he was jumped by a pack of small children turned into demons and devils. Spike bit Buffy and started to drain her.”

“No…” Xander whimpered.

“Oh my God!” Cordelia reached out and grabbed hold of Xander’s shoulder. “Did that freak kill her?”

“Fortunately, no.” Giles said. “I managed to break the statue which was the focal point of the spell before he could finish her off. The effected children turned back into themselves immediately and Angel was able to free himself of them. He pulled Spike off of Buffy and staked the bastard. Then he scooped Buffy up and ran with her in his arms to the hospital.”

“Willow was returned to her body when the spell broke. She ran here directly and we went to track down Buffy. We finally found her at the hospital.” He grimaced. “She’ll be fine eventually, but for the next few days she’ll need to be watched carefully. She very nearly died.”

“Oh god…” Xander felt horribly guilty. He remembered seeing Willow and thinking she was a hologram. He’d nearly followed her when she went after that screaming girl in pink, who he now knew had been Buffy. If he had gone with his first thought and followed them, perhaps she wouldn’t have nearly been eaten by Spike. Instead, he’d been busy fucking Cordelia up against a wall.

“Oh, no!” Cordelia kicked him in the shin. Hard.

“Ow! Dammit!” He roared out.

“Don’t you dare get that guilty look on your face! You didn’t turn Buffy into some damsel in distress – that creep Edgar Rain,”

“Ethan,” Giles interjected.

“…or whatever his name was, he did that! Not you! So stop thinking guilty thoughts right now buster!” she continued, unfazed with the interruption.

“And don’t forget, you might not have been there with her, but Willow and Angel were and she’ll be fine. You, on the other hand, saved me from Jo-Jo the dog faced boy and three vamps. If you hadn’t come along with your ray gun, I’d have been dead.”

Giles blinked. “Excuse me, uh…ray gun?”

Xander sighed and slumped a little further into his chair. “Blasters, Giles. The toy guns I bought at the costume shop also turned real for a little bit. They became real plasma blasters. And vamps, no matter how old or strong, are no match for a bolt of high intensity plasma. They dusted nicely with one shot.”

A look of fascination and hope flitted across Giles’ face. “Are they still…”

Xander shook his head. “No. They turned back into plastic toys when my real memories came back.”

Giles seemed to deflate. “Oh. I…I see. Well, then…I guess we just need to figure out why you didn’t fully revert back to your…uh, normal self then.”

***

The morning passed in a boring haze of research into chaos magic, sympathetic magic, and shamanism. Xander had to be extra careful turning pages because, while his transformed fingers were agile, he had the bad habit of popping out his retractable claws. Puncturing the books was a sure way to annoy Giles no end and earn himself a long fussy lecture. Librarians were like that when it came to the proper care and handling of books.

Worse, the books he was reading tended to be very dry and long winded and filled with dust and mildew. His brain hated the wordiness and his sensitive nose hated the mildew.

Finally, Giles admitted that he was falling asleep sitting up and that he needed rest desperately. So, while the Watcher planned to head back to his apartment, Xander and Cordelia were left at loose ends.

Xander really wanted to head over to the Summer’s house and see how Buffy was feeling, but he didn’t think she’d appreciate having to explain what happened to him to her mother. Mrs. S was great, but she was completely in the dark about the truth behind Sunnydale.

“Well, now what?” was Cordelia’s question as Giles shooed them out of the library so he could lock up.

Xander reached up to scratch his chin and ruffle his whiskers.

“I should probably head over to my Uncle Rory’s and explain things. I mean, he’s probably waiting for me to return the mask and gloves anyway.”

Cordelia opened her car door and flopped in with a sigh.

“And how do you think he’d gonna react? I mean, you can’t exactly explain what happened without going into everything about magic and demons and stuff.”

Xander considered her question while climbing into the passenger seat again.

“I think that he already knows. About demons, I mean.” He shrugged and waved a vague gesture in the air. “He’s actually got a few of them stuffed and mounted in his private collection. He tried to tell me they were mutated animals from toxic waste dumps, but I know they’re demons. And I think he does as well.”

Cordelia gaped at him for a long moment.

“Ewww!” She shuddered. “He stuffed a demon and mounted it on his wall?! That’s so gross.”

Xander purred out a chuckle and shrugged again. “That’s Uncle Rory for you. Gross and strange. But a descent guy, nonetheless.”

***

Rory was still working in the shop when he and Cordelia arrived.

His intense dark eyes lightened a bit when they roved over her athletic and curvy body, but then they deadened again when he turned to face Xander. He held out a hand.

“Hey kid. Hand me the head first.”

Xander shifted his weight slightly from foot to foot and his tail waved with the force of his agitation.

Xander rumbled a low growl and his mic translated it as; “Yeah…about that.”

There was a long awkward pause as Rory stared at the throat mic and Xander hemmed and hawed, unsure how to explain. Cordelia finally got tired of waiting, threw her hands up in the air and huffed

“Oh for goodness sake! Some ubercreep chaos mage turned people into their costumes with some nasty spell and now Xander is a real live Thundercat.”

Xander turned his head to stare at her incredulously. “Thank you, tact-girl.”

She waved away his comment. “No problem.” She shrugged slightly self conscious. “Hey! And you were the one that was saying he knew the truth about demons and magic and stuff.”

At her words, both Xander and Rory’s eyes shifted to the far side of the room where a tall humanoid creature with grayish-green skin and down curving horns stood stuffed and mounted in the shadowy corner.

Rory blinked and almost made a facial expression.

“Okay.” He nodded once as if to approve his own thoughts and then pointed to a fairly clear spot in the center of the room. “Stand there and strip down.”

Rory then went around and began turning on all his high intensity spotlights and aiming them at the area he had indicated.

Xander had taken two steps and then the words ‘strip down’ had registered and he stumbled to a stop. “Wha?...” He blinked in shock. “Naked?”

Rory stilled in that creepy way of his and then slowly turned his head to look at Xander. “Yes.” A meaningful pause. “I need to see how the mask attached to you.”

Xander shuffled to the spot and winced at the bright lights all aimed at him.

“Yeah, but…” he tugged lightly at his own fur in embarrassment. “I’m…uh, not wearing a shirt. Isn’t that, ya know, enough?”

Rory straightened up and slowly turned to face him. His eyes glittered in a freaksome way that made Xander worry slightly about being stuffed and mounted himself.

“Strip.” A pause. “Or I’ll bash your head in to knock you unconscious and strip you down myself.”

Xander blinked. Then he began unbuckling the wrist bracers and handing them over to Cordelia to put aside on a workbench. As soon as they were off, he bent down to unstrap his tanker boots.

“Your Uncle…” Cordelia whispered in a voice that wasn’t quite low enough to not carry to Rory’s ears, “He seriously needs to take a vacation in decaf-land. I mean, he’s just a bit…overly. Ya know?”

Xander nodded even as he unbuttoned his pants. Then he paused and fidgeted again.

“Uh…” He blushed under his fur. “Even my pants, Rory? ‘Cause I gotta warn ya, nothin’ on under here but fur and Xanderness.”

Rory stopped sorting through his handheld magnifying glasses and titled his head in thought.

“You can ask the girl to leave the room if it helps?”

Xander shrugged. “Naw…she’s already seen me naked.”

Both Cordelia’s and Rory’s eyes widened at that. But only Cordelia snapped out a hand and smacked him in the arm.

“Secret here! Remember? You’re not supposed to tell people I sexed up a lion!”

Xander stilled and tilted his head to the side.

“I…uh, I didn’t. I just said that you saw me with no clothes. That could have been before this mess started or even you trying to help me get out of the fur suit. You’re the one that brought sex up.”

“Argh!” Cordelia smacked his arm again. Then a third time. Xander flinched back and tried to deflect the blows.

“Ow! Dammit, Cordy! That hurt.”

“Enough!” Rory’s voice didn’t sound all that loud, but it was intense and filled the room. Cordelia stopped hitting him and glared with her arms crossed in front of her chest.

Rory turned his unnerving gaze on Cordelia. “Little girl, I don’t care who or what you have sex with. The only person whose love life I give a shit about is my own.”

Then he turned and pointed at Xander. “Take those pants off and stand still. I need to see if there’s a way to skin you back out of that fur.”

And really, that wasn’t the most confidence inspiring words he could have heard.

Still, before he knew it, Xander was standing in the center of a bunch of bright lights while Rory examined him from head to toe. It was very unsettling and Xander really wished that he had an elsewhere to be.

When Rory grabbed one of his magnifying glasses and had Cordelia hold it in place while he dug his fingers deep into Xander’s fur to look for any signs of the previous work he’d done on the pelt, Xander was of two minds about it. Being studied that closely and intensely was beyond strange and weird, but the fingers ruffling his fur were gentle and felt good.

He was so going to need therapy after this.

Finally, after far too long a time of standing around under hot lights, Rory stepped back and frowned slightly in thought.

“It’s real.”

Xander and Cordelia shared a long look. “Um…” he rumbled, “Yeah. We told you that.”

An eyebrow quirked up.

“I meant, you are not in a suit that is covering your body. You are the suit. I can’t get you out of it.”

A tiny grin slid over Rory’s face and his eyes glittered wickedly.

“Well, I could, but you’d be left with no skin whatsoever.”

Xander’s eyes widened at that and Cordelia scrunched up her nose.

“Ew!” she cried. “Xander’s a dork, yeah, but even I think that’s a bit much.”

Xander and Rory turned their heads to look at her.

“Thanks, Cor…”

She waved it off. “No problem.” Then she frowned. “So…now what?”

Xander sighed. It was oddly loud in the quiet of Rory’s workshop.

“Well, I can’t exactly go home. I mean, Mom’ll flip. And I don’t think they know about SunnyD being the Hellmouth, either.”

They both turned inquiring expressions on Rory. He simply shook his head in the negative. Tony and his wife had no clue.

“Well, I guess you could stay with me again.” Cordelia sounded unsure. “But we’d have to sneak you in. The ‘rents are home tonight and I so don’t want to get into it with them about the walking talking lion-boy following me into my bedroom.” She rolled her eyes, “That’s a conversation I’d like to hold off on having with them until…never.”

Xander nodded sadly.

“Or you could just crash in my spare bedroom.” Rory said with a shrug. “You’d have to clean it out since I just use it as storage, but it’s yours if you want it.”

Xander slumped in relief and flashed a bit of fang in a Trianii version of a smile.

“Thanks, Uncle Rory. I appreciate it.”

With that, he led them up the stairs at the very back of his workshop and into the small apartment he had over top. It was small and a little bit cramped. Just an undersized kitchenette and living room combo with a hallway that led to a bathroom tiled in tacky 1950’s gray and pink and two small bedrooms. The bigger one was obviously Rory’s, but the smaller one just held some dusty boxes and things scattered over the floor.

The room itself was smaller than his bedroom at his parent’s house. It had a tiny closet, tacky green shag carpeting and a small window that overlooked the alley between Rory’s place and the small take-out restaurant that Xander was fairly sure was run by demons.

Cordelia grimaced in distaste before sighing sadly.

“Okay…uh, I’m sure we can work with this.”

Rory grunted. “You can crash out on the lay-z-boy in the living room until you get some furniture in here.”

Xander nodded.

“Thanks, man.” Then he reached up to scratch his chin. “I don’t think I can just go grab my stuff from home, ‘cause then the jig’ll be up with the ‘rents. So, I’m gonna need new stuff.”

He grimaced. “Or…at least a new mattress. My new nose is real sensitive and I don’t think I’ll want to sleep on a mattress that I can smell other people used.”

Cordelia shuddered. “Okay, that’s just gross.”

“My point, exactly.”

“Futon would be cheaper.” Rory shrugged and wandered back out of the room and down the hallway. Cordelia and Xander just stared after him for a moment. He really was uberweird.

Finally Cordelia sighed and turned to look at Xander.

“Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do. You get this place…cleaned up as best you can. Tomorrow, I’m gonna take Daddy’s credit cards and go purchase a new futon for you.”

She gestured vaguely. “You’ll have to set it all up since I don’t know anything about that.”

Xander stilled. His pride considered arguing against it. He had some money socked away, but not a whole lot and he needed new clothes. Well, pants at least. Finally he decided to just accept her generous offer.

Reaching out, he pulled her gently to him and enfolded her in a warm furry hug. “Thanks, Cordy.” He bent his head and rubbed his cheek against hers, scent marking her.

“Mmmmm…” she hummed in pleasure. “You’re welcome.”

And since he was already naked, it didn’t take much for her to feel his growing interest against her stomach. One of her hands reached up and she ran her fingers gently against his cheek He leaned into her touch and rumbled out a soft purr.

Cordelia flashed a big smile full of brilliantly white teeth and lifted one foot to kick the door behind her shut. Then she smirked and reached down to wrap her warm hand around his cock and tug it lightly.

His purring kicked up a notch and he nuzzled his nose into her hair, breathing in her scent deeply. It was sweet and warm and getting deeper and earthier with her growing arousal.

Her fingers tangled through his mane and then up to wrap around his ear in a soft gentle motion. His hard cock twitched in her other hand in time with her petting.

“Huh…” she grinned wickedly. “You like your ears fondled, do ya?”

Xander nodded. “Oh yeah. It’s like they’re hardwired directly to my dick.”

She chuckled and then let go and stepped back. Xander didn’t even try to bite back the whine that erupted from his chest at that. She just smirked and then pulled up her skirt. With a wink, she peeled her panties down and kicked them off before taking two steps back until she hit the door.

“Why don’t you come over here,” she crooked a finger at him. “And if you’re really nice to me, I’ll fondle your ears.”

The purr was back even as he walked over to her and pressed her gently into the door. “And just how nice do I have to be to get my ears fondled?”

Flashing him a moviestar smile, Cordelia lifted one leg to wrap around his hips even as she reached down and carefully guided his hard cock to her already dripping wet sex.

“Oh…I think you’ll figure it out.”

He leaned forward and scent marked her other cheek with a soft brush of his fur against her skin and huffed a rumbling purr into her ear.

“Yeah…” His paws clutched at her waist and he lifted her weight slightly as he slid his hard length into her hot clutching hole. “I think I will.”

Her other leg came up to wrap around his waist and then her hands reached up to fondle his ears. Xander’s eyes nearly rolled back in his head at the wash of erotic pleasure that rolled through him. Tingling waves sizzled from his ears and down his spine even as the tight heat of her clenching around his dick was a pleasure so intense it was nearly pain.

He thrust into her again and again, the door she was leaning against rattling lightly with their rhythm. Her breath came out in airy gasps and soft cries of, “…yes, yes…more…oh god…yes…”

Then her hands clutched his mane as she tensed up and began to tremble violently. He knew it was coming and tried to brace himself for it, but when her tight channel began to spasm around his cock he couldn’t hold back. He slammed into her once, twice, and then again before he was arching into her tightly and roaring out his completion.

Xander purred loudly into her hair, huffing for breath, and just generally enjoying the scent of her arousal and satiation swirling around him.

Finally, she unwrapped her legs from around him and gave him one last sweet caress before gently pushing him back a tiny bit.

“I don’t want to go, but I have to get home soon. My parents will flip if I’m not home for dinner, especially after the weirdness that was yesterday.”

Xander’s purr tapered off at that, but he nodded in acknowledgement. She and Xander had snuck out of her house early this morning before her parents woke up in order to find Giles. They hadn’t seen Cordelia at all since before the spell and if they had gotten caught up in it, they were probably worried.

“I understand.” He watched as she bent down and slid her panties back on. “Thank you for all your help today. I appreciate it.”

That megawatt smile was back. “Hey, no problem.”

When her clothes were all settled back into their proper place, she opened the door and led him back into the hallway.

“So…did you want to meet up with me here or at the library after I shop?”

“Um…the library. I’m gonna see if Giles has figured out anything I can do about the whole fur thing. If not, I guess it’ll turn into a research party.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

Then they were in the living room and found Rory lounging on the couch in front of the tv with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He smirked at them.

“Oh,…the neighbors are gonna love you kid.”

Xander frowned. “What?”

The smirk grew bigger and Rory leered at Cordelia for a moment before looking back at Xander.

“Soundproofing Xan, soundproofing.” Then he tilted his head in thought. “Or a lion sized ball-gag.”

Both Cordelia and Xander blushed deeply, although with Xander you couldn’t tell because of the fur.

“Oh god,” Cordelia groaned in embarrassment. “I gotta go. See you tomorrow, Xan.”

Xander watched her dash down the stairs helplessly and then turned to glare at his uncle. Rory just looked back at him unrepentantly.

“Thanks man. She’s probably the only girl in the ‘dale who could look at me like I’m all boyfriendly and you poke fun at her.”

Rory quirked at eyebrow and pointed at Xander with his cigarette. “She’ll be back. If she wants to explore her fur kink, it’s either you or the pet dog. And somehow, I’m thinking that a real live Thundercat will be more fun to date than the average German Shepard.”

Xander snorted and then flopped down in the lay-z-boy.

***

The next morning found Xander sneaking through the empty halls of the school towards the library.

He was only wearing a pair of kacki colored cargo shorts that Rory had somehow managed to liberate, along with a few other pieces of his wardrobe, from his parents’ house. He’d then shown Xander how to fix it so that it had an opening in the back for his tail to slip through.

He’d completely forgone wearing a shirt or shoes. The least amount of clothes he had twisting and tugging at his fur the better, in his mind. Although, he had to admit that he cut a striking figure with his jet black mane of long fur that framed his face, shoulders and reached nearly to the middle of his back. That, combined with the deep golden short fur that covered the rest of his body and the sleek muscled frame it rested on, created an image of vitality, strength and danger.

And the tail. Mustn’t forget the tail. Xander was willing to swear the thing had a mind of its own the way it waved about in the air.

With a sigh, he pushed open the library doors and stepped into the dim lighting. Giles was sitting at the research table with Willow and a pale and wan looking Buffy. Books were strewn around them. They all turned to look at him as he stepped closer.

“X…Xander?” Willow’s voice was a squeak of surprise.

He huffed out a resigned sigh.

“Yeah, Wills. It’s me in here.”

“Xander!” she and Buffy cried in unison.

Then they stood up and raced over to him, glomping him in a three-way hug from both sides. Buffy squeezed just a hair too tight and he wheezed. That didn’t stop him from wrapping his arms around them both and snuffling his nose into their hair, scenting them deeply. He rumbled out a purr of delight and both girls giggled and snuggled into the hug.

“Oh my god! Giles told us about what happened to you. I remembered your costume from Halloween and got scared ‘cause he said that you were stuck as a real lion now. I thought maybe growling and snarling on all fours instead of walking around talking, but that wouldn’t make sense. Ya know? ‘Cause he said that you were in here researching last night with Cordelia. And can I tell you how much it wigs me that you were stuck with that bitcha? Poor Xander.”

She took a deep breath and let it out again in a watery gasp. “Are…are you…uh, okay?”

Xander huffed out a chuckle. He wasn’t sure which she thought had damaged him more; turning into a lion or hanging around Cordelia.

“I’m fine Wills. Uncle Rory knows about the nightlife here in SunnyD, so he’s letting me crash at his place since I can’t go home. My biggest issue is not being able to really speak English. If I take off the translator thing, then I can’t talk to anyone.”

There was a thoughtful pause. “Wow. That’s big with the sucky.”

“Yeah.”

Xander leaned back to get a good look at Buffy. She was pale. There was a big red scar in the shape of teethmarks on her throat. It was mostly healed over and scabbing, but it still looked painful.

“And what about you, Buff? How are you feeling? Giles told me what happened with Spike.”

Buffy blushed and looked down for a moment, but then she rallied and looked back up even as she reached up to touch her scar with her fingertips.

“I…I’m doing better.” She grimaced. “I’m getting past the uberwig stage and into the angry smash-Ethan stage.”

Xander leaned forward and tucked his nose into her hair and snuffled again.

“I got’cha. I still think Angel’s a putz, but I’m gonna have’ta give him a big thank you for dusting that creechy-faced jerk.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and lightly slapped his chest for the Angel-is-a-putz comment, but then she linked her arm with his and started to lead him and Willow back to the research table. Pulling up another chair, she sat him down between her and Willow.

“Good morning, Xander.”

“Hey Giles!” Xander’s charming grin lost a little something in translation, being that it was now more fang than charm. “Find any neat-o Xander fixing spells in ye ’ole dusty books of Watcherly fun and mayhem?”

Giles sighed and removed his glasses to rub at his eyes before replacing them.

“Unfortunately, no, I have not.” He frowned at his notes. “Everything I’ve read indicates that you should have returned to normal when I broke the spell. I’ve even checked around to see if…if anyone else has found themselves,…er, stuck in their costume, so to speak.”

Xander slumped in his chair.

“Let me guess. I’m the only lucky one still dressed up for trick-or-treating?”

“Yes. Quite right.” Giles’ expression was a mix of confusion and helpless frustration.

“Well,” Willow’s voice was tinged with nervousness even as she tried to be upbeat. “Look on the…uh, bright side.”

She wobbled a smile at him and petted his arm gently.

“At least your fur is soft.”

Xander rolled his eyes. “True. But not so much with the helpful.”

Her smile quirked up more and her eyes sparkled. “Oh, I don’t know. I kinda like it.”

“Yeah, Xan.” Buffy added as she reached out and petted the arm closest to her. “It’s a good look on you. I mean, different? Yeah. Way big with the different. But,” she shrugged, “nice all the same.”

“And purry. I like the purriness. It’s loud and rumbly,” Willow grinned, “yet soothing.”

Then Willow’s hand reached up and caressed his ear with a light tug. His purring got much louder and he pressed into her touch with eyes half-lidded before he could get hold of himself.

He twitched away and blushed under his fur as he squirmed in his seat.

“Ah…” he mumbled. “Not the ears. That’s a big no-no, okay?”

Willow jerked her hand back, eyes stricken.

“Oh no! Did…did I hurt you?”

Xander shook his head no and fidgeted some more.

“Hurt? Um…no. Big no. More like the exact opposite of hurt.”

She looked confused and glanced around him at Buffy who simply shrugged in confusion. “Then why?...”

Xander dipped his head in embarrassment and shrugged. “It felt good. Real good.”

He scratched his chin and tried to disappear. Unfortunately, the Hellmouth didn’t open up and swallow him whole.

“In fact, it felt far too good to be decent and can we just stop talking about my new turn-ons and figure out how to get me human again?”

“Oh.” Willow’s voice was small and she was blushing bright red.

“Right. Got’cha.” Buffy nodded and grinned. “No fondling and petting of the ears.”

Giles blinked. “Well, not unless you buy him dinner first.”

All three of them snapped their heads around to stare at him in shock. He blushed lightly even as Xander huffed out a little laugh. “Exactly.”

Buffy snorted and then giggled. “I can’t believe you just said that, Giles.”

Giles quirked a small grin and rolled his eyes. “Yes well, I wasn’t born under a rock, after all.”

“Speaking of dinner…or well, any meal,” Xander began with a rumble. “I think my eating habits are changed too. ‘Cause sugary breakfast cereals are tasting all yucky now and I have a huge jonesing for a tuna fish sandwich.”

He paused a moment to think about it while ignoring the fascinated look on Giles’ face.

“Or possibly a thick juicy stake.”

Willow gaped at him for a moment, a sort of horror in her eyes.

“You can’t enjoy sugary snacks anymore?”

Xander shook his head and rumbled, “I don’t think so, Wills.”

“Oh no! You’re like, totally Twinkie free now!”

Xander gaped in horror of the thought.

“Poor Xander!” Buffy gasped, and then both girls glomped onto him again, each resting their head on one of his shoulders in commiseration of this newly discovered fact.

***

The whole scene when Cordelia picked him up at the library had been awkward.

Cordelia wanted to keep their burgeoning relationship a secret. Xander understood and mostly agreed, but this was Willow, Buffy, and Giles…so he felt strange and off kilter to lie about it.

Buffy was willing to accept that Cordelia was helping him move into his Uncle Rory’s apartment as repayment in thanks for his costume keeping her safe on Halloween. Of course, Xander got the feeling that Buffy actually liked and respected Cordelia. It probably didn’t hurt that Buffy had been in Cordelia’s role of head cheerleader back at her old school in LA.

Willow was pretty much the opposite. She hated Cordelia and had done so for years. She was, after all, the President of the ‘We Hate Cordelia Club’. Her hatred was so strong that Xander thought it blinded her to Cordelia’s good qualities. Especially since Willow was convinced she didn’t have any at all.

If Willow hadn’t been so intimidated, Xander was sure she would have told Cordelia to get the hell away and stay there. Instead, she just sat there alternating a disapproving frown with a scared little-girl look and muttered vile insults under her breath. Xander never would have heard them without his newly enhanced hearing, but from the looks Cordelia and Buffy kept shooting her, they heard as well.

He had the uncomfortable thought that Willow insulting Cordelia under her breath wasn’t all that unusual and that he was the only one who never realized she did that. That concept put a big dent in his mental view of Willow as sweet and innocent, and he was not happy about it.

They finally managed to get away and drove in Cordelia’s car over to Rory’s. They got there just in time to meet the delivery men with the futon. It was awkward at first and Xander had an urge to hide his furry self away until they left, but Cordelia spun a tale about him wearing a costume to act as a mascot slash spokesperson for a wildlife conservation group. The workers bought it easy enough, which was a good thing since the truth was really out there in the middle of bizarre-o land.

That all led him to where he currently was; sitting on the floor of his new room with his Uncle Rory trying to put together a futon frame while Cordelia was in charge of the instruction sheet and barking out commands like the cheerleading General she was.

Xander was carefully putting in cam-locks along the two heavy pieces of wood that would form the long sides of the futon frame when the question occurred to him.

“Uncle Rory?”

Rory stilled instantly, but didn’t look up from where he was screwing in a bolt. “Yeah?”

“How did you find out about…well, demons and vamps and stuff?”

For a long moment there was a deep silence and Rory held himself eerily still. Then he sighed softly and went back to screwing the bolt into place.

“About two months after I left the service, Tony convinced me to move here. I was drinking pretty heavily and wasn’t holding down a job anywhere for long. Bad times.”

He paused and then pulled out his cigarettes. He slid one out and looked at it for a moment. Ignoring Cordelia’s noises of distaste and disapproval, he put it in his mouth and lit it.

With a sigh, Cordelia leaned over and slid the window open and shifted the ashtray closer to him. Xander grinned. He had a feeling that before too long Cordelia was gonna unleash an anti-smoking campaign on Rory.

“Saw an advert in a paper that someone left on a table at the take-out place next door. It wasn’t a paper I’d ever seen before, but as I was still fairly new in town, I didn’t think much of it. Answered the ad and it turned out to be someone looking for help in a taxidermy shop.”

Rory grew silent again until Xander finally made a purring noise of curiosity. Rory sighed and tipped his ash into the ashtray.

“Old man Smitty was getting up in years and he needed a hand around the shop and with delivering his finished products. Only thing was, old man Smitty wasn’t human.”

Cordelia, who thought that taxidermy was creepy and gross, still managed to get caught up in the story.

“Wow that must have been a surprise.” She tilted her head in thought. “Still, unless he tried to eat or kill you, it was a better intro to the nightlife than Xan or I had.”

Rory nodded. “That’s what you get for hanging around the Slayer.”

Xander looked up from what he was doing, a cam-lock delicately cradled in his big paw.

“What do you mean?” his rumbling taking an indignant tone. “She’s done a lot to help keep both of us alive.”

Rory shrugged and shifted to another piece of wood.

“She’s a slayer.” As if that said it all and maybe it did. “She’s like a lightening rod for bad elements. They’ll seek her out.”

Cordelia snorted. “Bad elements, huh? So…you’re saying that there are good demons?”

Rory stilled and slid his eyes sideways to look at her with his dead eyes. Instinctively, she drew back from him a bit.

“Old man Smitty was a good sort.”

Then his eyes slid away and she relaxed. Glancing over at Xander, Cordelia shot him an accusing glance and he flashed her a helpless look and shrugged. He couldn’t help it his uncle was a bit…odd.

“Way he told me,” Rory began. “Long time ago, before humans, this world was invaded by demons. They came through magical portals and then divided the land into kingdoms that were ruled over by these all powerful god-kings.”

Xander stilled and tilted his head in a very cat-like expression of intense curiosity. He’d heard the Watcher version of this story and he was very interested in the demon’s take on this.

“The god-kings of the demons brought their people and worshipers across. There were warrior demons that made up their armies. Priest demons that ran their temples and organized their worship. Regular folk that did the skilled labor. You know, constructing buildings, forging weapons and armor, writing the histories. Stuff like that. Then there were the demons who were slaves. They did the menial unskilled stuff like raise food on farms, the cleaning and cooking in the temples and palaces. Things like that.”

This wasn’t anything like what Giles told. He just said the demons made this world their own hell before they were banished, but he never explained what that hell was like.

“So…they had this big society thing going on? Bunch of demon kingdoms all over the world?”

Rory nodded. “Yeah.” He stubbed out his cigarette into the ashtray and then reached for another bolt.

”Well, until the civil war. Smitty said that the legends don’t explain what started it, but apparently the god-kings themselves eventually got involved. When it was just their armies it didn’t matter, but the god-kings were so powerful that they began to damage the fabric of reality. The angelic god-kings of the upper realms didn’t like that and sent a bunch of beings here to capture the demon god-kings here on Earth and seal them off in something called the Deeper Well.”

Xander nodded, but his mind was spinning. This was way different to what the Watcher’s told. He was sure he’d heard the term Deeper Well in one of Giles’ books, but he didn’t remember any detail. He’d probably been looking for something specific and skipped past it in his rush.

“With the demon god-kings gone, that still left all of their people here though. And after a while, humans arrived. Not sure how. Evolution says we were bred from apes. Most religions, human and demon, says we were either created or brought here by some powerful being. Don’t know, don’t really care.”

Rory shrugged and shoved the piece of wood he had been working on off to the side.

“It caused problems though. The remnants of the demon armies wanted to enslave humans just like they did with other species, but the humans fought back and the war that had just ended picked up again only this time with a different agenda.”

“And that’s when the Slayer was created, right?” Xander interjected.

Rory nodded and gave him a pointed look.

“Yeah. She was built to fight off the warrior demons and help to banish them. She mostly succeeded. Only a few were left here.”

It was Cordelia that made the connection first. Xander wasn’t surprised; he knew just how smart she really was.

“Yeah, okay. Go Slayer, banish those evil warrior demons. But that still leaves all the worker demons and the slave demons, right?”

Rory blinked and then quirked a lip in a semi-smile.

“Exactly. At first they tried to get along with the humans that had just banished their masters, but the situation was…tense. The war was too close in everyone’s mind and they saw the humans as dangerous. So, they all split apart and went their separate ways. Humans began to build their own societies and the remaining demons went into hiding.”

Xander sighed and began hooking the wooden slats up to the frame he’d been working on. The bolts fit in tight with the cam-locks, holding the entire thing together.

“And they’re still doing that, aren’t they? Hiding, I mean. Right in plain sight. Just living and working and making their way through life trying to avoid being caught by humans or by the left-over warrior types, huh?”

Rory nodded and lit another cigarette. “Pretty much.”

They were silent for a while as they connected all the slats to the frame. Slowly the futon began to take shape and Xander just knew that it would be nice and comfy. When unfolded to its full size, it would be nearly twice as big as his old bed at his parents’ house. Of course, that wouldn’t leave much space in this tiny room, but that was okay with him.

Finally, he had to ask.

“Is there a group of…uh, friendly demons in Sunnydale?”

Rory stilled, a thoughtful look on his face.

“Know the big sign on the road into town. Says how many folk live here?”

Xander shared a glance with Cordelia and then shrugged. “Sure.”

“That’s only the humans. If you count the non-humans as well, you’d have to nearly triple that number.”

Xander and Cordelia shared a look of surprise. They hadn’t realized the demon community was that big.

“About 75% of them don’t want anything to do with killing and fighting and what-not. Just good folk trying to make a living. It’s the other 25% that kick up the fuss your Slayer friend gets caught up in; the vampires, of course, and the occasional group of warrior type non-humans that are pissed off enough to want to fight.”

Rory shrugged.

Xander just sighed and nodded. He had a lot to think about.

***

Monday morning found Xander sneaking into the library.

He couldn’t exactly go to class looking like a walking, talking lion. No matter how much Buffy insisted that if they told everyone that he’d been kidnapped by a rogue government scientist and had been experimented on with animal DNA everything would be fine. Snyder and the football team might buy that load of crap, but he doubted anyone else would.

So…sneaking.

He’d told Giles about the story that Rory’s non-human mentor had told him. Giles, of course, had been fascinated by it. He’d had Xander type up an account of it on the computer Willow kept in the library for his records.

That had not been fun. Typing wasn’t one of his better skills as it was, adding claws to the equation just made it worse.

After that, Giles asked him to start working on recording all he could remember from his possession by Bar’Tal. Specifically, things that they would need to know about the Trianii as a people. Things like their diet, their exercise programs, their knowledge of weapons and warfare, their religious beliefs and what daily life was like.

Xander wanted to think that it was because Giles was just naturally curious or that he was interested in what Xander was going through…but he had the sinking feeling it was because Giles was afraid that he’d be stuck like this and wanted to be prepared.

Not a comforting thought.

Thankfully, Buffy and Willow had a free period. Only, Buffy never showed up, just Willow.

She waved hello to Giles and then sat down next to Xander at the table and gave him a big hug before settling back and petting his arm.

Xander grinned. That was the one upside of being all furry. He tended to get petted a lot.

“You totally missed it, Xander!”

Willow bounced in her seat, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

“Oh?” He rumbled out on a purr. “Wha’d I miss?”

Willow giggled and then let out a snort as she tried to contain her mirth.

“Buffy’s old flame from LA transferred here. His name’s Ford and he was all with the flirty. Buffy was sort of flustered and flirty back.”

Xander blinked. That was unexpected. He waited a beat for the jealousy to rise up in him like it always did whenever Buffy was flirty with anyone that wasn’t him. To his shock, it never came.

Was the anti-jealousy thing because of him being a Trianii or because of him regularly sexing up Cordelia? He wasn’t sure.

“So…” he rumbled and poked Willow carefully with one clawed finger. “This guy, Ford. Is he the anti-Angel? Will he be her new boyfriendly friend? I mean…is he nice? Cute? Breathing and with a heartbeat?

Willow rolled her eyes, but didn’t stop bouncing in excitement.

“Yes, yes, and yes to nice, cute, and alive.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I think it’s a little too soon to expect smoochies, but there was definite sparkage.”

Xander nodded and thought about it. He never thought he’d ever be upset at missing a day of school, but there you go. He calls out on account of fur and Buffy’s old crush rolls into town.

He nudged her gently with his shoulder.

“So tell me…” He rumbled. “Since you’ve met the guy and all…do we approve? Are we all encouragey to the Bufster about him? Or are we all ‘Go Angel! Rah! Rah! Rah!’?”

Willow squirmed a bit.

“Well, I…I don’t know?” She bit her lip a moment and then sighed. “On the Angel side of it, well, he did save her life on Halloween and he dusted Spike.”

Xander nodded. “True. Good points, all.” He shrugged. “On the other hand; you, me, and Giles have all saved her life at one point and we’ve all dusted vamps. That never earned any of us Buffy kisses, so…I’m thinking that isn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be a qualification for the job.”

Willow opened her mouth to argue, paused and thought about it, turned bright red and squeaked.

“Okay. Point. Life saveage and vamp dusting earns a thank you, possibly an ice-cream; not smoochies and gropeage.”

Willow took a deep breath and rallied.

“Plus…Ford’s alive. That means he can do the whole school and class thing. Which is good. But, then there’s the whole demon and vamp thing…which is bad. Only, Angel can do that pretty good. And well, there’s the thing with you. Right?”

Willow frowned and petted his arm a little firmer, almost possessively.

“I mean, after we find a way to fix you, then he can be all introduced. It’s probably better if he isn’t until then, though. I mean, we would have to be all splainy and that sort of thing makes the veins on Giles’ head throb.”

Xander nodded. “Yeah. Throbbing head veins are never a good sign.”

Willow nodded and bounced, her grin coming back.

“Still, given time Ford and Buffy could so be a twosome of cuteness.”

“So, I guess the big question is if that’s a good thing or not, huh?”

Willow let go of him and stood up, gathering her bag. The bell would be ringing soon.

“Xander…this isn’t you being all jealous, is it? ‘Cause that’s never a good reason to make decisions.”

Xander tilted his head and reexamined his feelings. Nope. Still no spark of jealousy. Strange…

“Naw…not jealous.” He shrugged. “Just remembering Owen. He was all breathing and stuff, but he was also more interested in the Slayer then Buffy. Odd, but livable if he’d actually cared about what the Scoobies do. Yet he didn’t want to help with the research and patrolling unless he was her boyfriend. Not cool.”

Willow frowned. “You think he could be another Owen?”

Xander shrugged just as the bell rang. “Don’t know. Could be. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Willow nodded looking thoughtful even as she leaned over and gave him a hug. Then she walked around and over to the doors. Just as she got there they opened and Cordelia strode through them. They glared at each other for a second and then Cordelia kept moving past her.

Xander could clearly hear Willow muttering under her breath about skanky sluts with too much attitude and not enough morals as she walked through the doors. Cordelia just rolled her eyes and ignored it. Once again, he got that twisty feeling in his stomach thinking that Willow being nasty to people happened much more often than he’d ever realized.

Somehow, that threatened his world view more than vampires did when he’d first learned of them.

He choose to ignore that for now. He had other, more curvy and sexy things to think about.

“Cordy! What are you doing here?” Then he blushed. “Not that I’m not glad to see you.”

She flashed him her megawatt smile.

“I’ve gotta free right now. I could hang around the courtyard and watch Aura try to flirt with the quarterback while Harmony critiques everyone’s outfit…or I could visit you.”

“I’m honored.” He said it jokingly, but he really was.

The Trianii were a matriarchal society and human Xander had learned long ago the power of women. It would be hard not to; what with Buffy’s slayerness, Willow’s genius, and Cordelia’s social ruthlessness as she ruled the various cliques at school. In all truth, he should have been below zero on her priority list of things to do. Yet here she was.

Cordelia’s smile shifted into a smirk even as she dropped her armful of books on the table next to him. “You should be.”

Then she turned and walked off towards the stairs. “Bring a chair and follow me.”

Tilting his head in curiosity, Xander stood up and grabbed the hard wooden chair he’d been sitting in. He followed her over to the stairs and then up them into the stacks. She led him deeper into the gloom until they were in the very back of the top level.

“Put the chair there.” She pointed to a darkened corner.

He did so and she fussed with it a moment to get it set exactly how she wanted it. Then she pulled up her skirt to her hips, showing that her stockings were simply hold-ups and not pantyhose and further that she wasn’t wearing any panties at all. She was naked under that skirt and Xander’s heart began to pound behind his ribs.

“Cordy!” he croaked. “What?...”

She chuckled deep in her throat and turned to sit on the very edge of the chair, her ass nearly sliding off. Then she leaned back and spread her thighs wide. He had a perfect view of her glistening sex.

She pointed at the floor between her legs. “Kneel down!”

“Oh dear god,” he whimpered, “thank you for this feast I am about to receive.”

Cordelia smirked even as he dropped to his knees between her legs. Her scent swirled up around him in a dizzying wave of musk, heat, and earthy arousal. Delicious.

He rubbed his furred cheek against her inner thigh and huffed a waft of breath over her sex. One of her hands reached down and tangled in his mane and gently but firmly guided his muzzle right at her core.

Overwhelmed, Xander lost himself in the scent and taste of her, his purring rumbling out to fill the library.
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