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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-CenteredScorpioFR21537,778258125,80324 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 Five

***

Xander pushed through the library doors, excited about his upcoming job at Mac’s Garage. He was unsure about telling everyone though.

Neither Buffy nor Giles ever mentioned anything about Sunnydale Below, so he wasn’t sure how much they really knew. They focused on Sunnydale Above which was everything from the human-made sewers on up. The vampires tended to use the sewers like a highway system and the humans lived above ground in houses and apartment buildings.

Sunnydale Below was a term that described the non-vampire demonic and non-human community that lived in Sunnydale. Some of them lived above ground in non-human owned apartment complexes. Most though, lived in the system of natural caves that ran throughout Sunnydale between fifty and a hundred feet below the sewers.

There was a whole community down there. Homes, businesses, markets and even schools of a sort.

Xander was a little bit worried that if he mentioned it, Buffy would tear through there slaying before he could make her understand that they weren’t a danger to anyone, be they human or not.

And maybe that wasn’t being fair to Buffy, but it was a big worry. Plus he’d promised Rory that he’d stay quiet about it.

It was almost like he was trying to live two lives. One in Sunnydale Above that was all about the slaying, and one in Sunnydale Below that was all about trying to find his place in life.

Maybe he’d think about it a little longer before saying anything.

“Hey girls.” Xander smiled at Willow and Buffy.

They were sitting at the research table and looking a bit tense. He could hear some noise coming from Giles’ office so he figured that’s where the man was.

“Hey Xan.” Buffy waved him over even as she leaned forward to glance at the office door, a frown on her face.

He walked over and took a seat and looked from Buffy to Willow and back again. Both of them were frowning and Willow seemed deeply upset.

“Ooookay…” He folded his arms on the table in front of him, totally serious. “What’s the dire?”

“That body that Giles had to identify?”

He nodded in remembrance of what Cordelia had told them the other night.

“Well,” Buffy continued in a whisper. “It was one of Giles’ friends from back in the day. He’s been drinking ever since.”

Xander frowned and his eyebrows lowered even as he looked over towards the office. “That’s so not of the good.”

“No, not at all.” Willow added. “He’s been acting like the anti-Giles. All snarly and mean.”

“Plus, there’s a demon involved.”

Xander nodded at Buffy without any surprise. “This is Sunnydale. There’s always a demon involved.”

She shook her head. “No. This one was totally imported from England. Apparently, when Giles was a teenager he was all with the drinking and smoking, not to mention the funky black magic and demon summoning.”

Xander pulled back in shock at that.

“Giles? Our Giles?” Both girls nodded.

“But, but, but…” Xander gestured to the office with one paw. “He’s all tweedy and flustered glasses polishing with the big book learning.”

Willow looked flustered herself as she wrung her hands.

“Well, he’s all reformed now. Totally former-bad boy turned good.” She gestured and shrugged. “Only…well, his past is back and it’s looking to kill him.”

Xander gaped for a moment and then leaned forward on the table.

“Okay. Details.”

Buffy glanced at Giles’ office and then leaned forward too.

“It’s like this,” she whispered. “Back in the day, Giles was in this gang of magical hoodlums or something like that. Anyway, they used to summon this demon of Eeyore…”

“Eyghon” Willow cut in.

“…and it was a dreaming demon. It would possess whoever was sleeping and do things with their body. After a while the possession ended and they’d party.”

“Okay,” Xander held out a paw for silence and just processed that for a moment. “I just wanna say, as someone who’s been possessed before, that is the most stupid thing I’ve heard. Ever. And that includes the time when we were ten and Jesse and I tried to convince Willow it would be cool to ride our bikes off the top of a cliff and into the ocean below.”

Buffy blinked and quirked an amused smile at him.

“I’m taking it that Willow put a stop to that bit of stupidity.”

Willow nodded, “You betcha, I did.”

The three grinned at each other for a moment, but then the seriousness of the situation intruded once again.

“So…why’s this dreamy demon back?”

“Well, we don’t know the whole story.” Willow shrugged apologetically. “But I think that something went wrong with a summoning once. It ended with one of Giles’ friends being dead. That pretty much scared everyone back on the straight and narrow.”

“Expect for Ethan.” Buffy interjected. “He’s still creepy and using the black magic on innocent peoples.”

They all nodded in agreement. Ethan’s stunt on Halloween had changed everyone’s life; especially Xander’s, forever.

“Anyway,” Willow shrugged. “Giles decided to use his powers for good and joined the Watchers. Things were going all peachy, except now Eyghon is back and wants revenge or something. It’s been killing off everyone in Giles’ old gang.”

“So what are we doing about it?” Xander asked.

Buffy poked one of the books on the table.

“Research. Giles is all messed over this and is insisting he wants to deal with it himself. I’m ignoring that because it became my problem when this thing possessed one of Giles’ old pals and showed up at the library this afternoon and started a fight.”

Xander’s eyebrows rose up to his mane even as a wave of guilt washed over him nearly strong enough to drown him. Some demon had attacked his friends today and he hadn’t been here to help. Not that he could actually go to school being a freak and all.

“Yeah, it was gross, Xan.” Willow’s nose scrunched up. “The guy was literally a walking, rotting corpse and he knocked Giles and Ms Calendar around before Buffy put the hurt on him. Then, all of a sudden, he just dissolved into a puddle of steaming goo.”

Xander nodded. “So he’s slayed? Danger all gone.”

Buffy and Willow shook their heads.

“No. I don’t think so. I mean, this is a possession demon, right? He can just come back in a new body. That’s what he’s been doing. Possess one of Giles’ old gang until they die. Then he moves onto the next person.”

Xander scratched his chin and thought about it.

“I can see how that’s a problem. I mean, how do you slay a demon that doesn’t have its own body?”

“Hence, the research.”

***

Xander stepped out of the shower and ruffled his fur with a towel in an effort to soak up as much water as possible. Once he’d gotten to the point that he wasn’t actively dripping all over, he pulled out his brush and hairdryer.

He’d had a fairly good first day at the new job.

The hours were long and the work shifted from tedious to interesting. Sweeping the floor or organizing all the parts stored in the back room wasn’t any fun even if it was necessary. He’d helped to change four tires and an oil filter though, and that was kinda neat.

Mac had introduced him to the other mechanics as well.

There was a gray guy with tentacles and a serious cherry flavored bubble-yum habit. He had a long unpronounceable name but everyone just called him Joe.

Shaleyla was a short, broad, and extremely strong female with muddy brown skin and no hair. She almost looked human unless you took note that she had an extra finger on each hand. She also had a habit of licking engine parts before working with them. Xander didn’t know why and he was a little afraid to ask.

Keenan was tall and thin. He had a lot of tattoos and a thin scraggly beard. He also had four arms and a tail. He was like a creepy non-human mechanic version of Uncle Rory.

Still, he got along with all of them so far. So it was all of the good.

Suddenly Rory was banging on the bathroom door. Xander turned off the hairdryer.

“Phone!”

“Coming!”

He didn’t even bother wrapping a towel around his hips. He just opened the door and walked out. Rory arched one eyebrow at the lack of clothes, but didn’t say anything. He just handed over the phone and turned back down the hall to the living room.

“Hey, you’ve got Xander.”

Talking on the phone wasn’t easy. His ears were so far from his throat translator that it was difficult to talk and hear at the same time.

“Oh my God! Xander!” Willow’s voice was a squeal of excitement.

Xander grinned and slid the phone down closer to his throat mic.

“Wills! You’re sounding perky and peppy tonight. What’s the what?”

She let out a little giggle of happiness. “Oh! You so totally missed it. We slayed Eyghon and it was all my idea!”

He could hear her bouncing around in a dance of happiness. And he was glad that she was excited. He was glad that the demon stalking Giles was slayed. He was upset that once again he wasn’t there when his friends needed him.

“That’s great Will. But I need the details missy.”

She gave a squeal again and then he heard her flop onto her bed as the springs squeaked.

“Okay. So, Eyghon could only possess people who were asleep or unconscious or dead. If they’re awake, then he can’t take control, right?”

“Uh, huh.” He rumbled even though he didn’t really remember that detail from their research session.

“Well, it turned out that he possessed Ms Calendar the other day after the fight ‘cause she had been knocked out.”

“Oh no, is she okay?”

“Yeah. Well, I mean, she’s all angry and stuff. She’s big with blaming Giles and Giles is big with blaming himself even though Buffy and I told him it’s so totally not his fault. I mean, he left that lifestyle behind a long time ago. He wasn’t the one that brought Eyghon back. Ya know?”

“Um…yeah, okay.” Xander didn’t know. He was thinking that it was sorta Giles’ fault too. He was willing to forgive, but still, responsibilities for actions taken and all that.

“So, what was the part of the plan that was your idea?”

“Oh, it was so great and it totally worked. See, if Eyghon could only go into sleeping or dead people then I thought; hey, Angel’s a dead people. Then Angel’s demon could beat the snot out of Eyghon. And it worked!”

“Let me get this straight, your idea was to get Eyghon to possess a vamp?”

“Yep.”

“And it worked?”

“Yep.”

“Is Angel okay?” Not that he cared, but…

“Oh, yeah. He’s good. A little tired, ya know. And…and a bit sore. But still, totally fine.”

“Cool.”

He was proud of himself for not making a snarky comment about Angel finally being good for something. He was making an effort to be a little bit nicer and more understanding ever since the guy dusted Spike and saved Buffy’s life on Halloween.

“So, I guess this means that the research party is cancelled?”

“Yeah,” Willow sighed dramatically. “Ms Calendar’s at home being upset. And I think that Giles is at home getting drunk again or something. Buffy and I are meeting at the Bronze though. Celebratory dancing and all.”

“Oh.” His voice was small.

Then they both got quiet as Willow realized that a night at the Bronze meant that Xander wasn’t invited. There was no way that he could even come close to passing as human and it was a human slash vamp hangout.

Just like he couldn’t exactly go over and spend time at the Summers’ house or the Rosenberg house anymore. A night in watching Bollywood movies, eating popcorn, and braiding hair would have to be done at Rory’s. And Rory gave both Willow and Buffy the wiggins.

Well, they could probably get together at Giles or Angel’s place, but that would be awkward. It was hard to just hang out and be a silly teen with an adult there.

It hurt, ‘cause he could actually feel his life dividing from his friend’s lives as they spoke.

“Look, Xan.” Willow’s voice was soft now. “I’ll…I’ll talk to Buffy. We’ll come up with something that, ya know, the three of us can do. Together. Okay?”

Xander nodded even though she couldn’t see him.

“Yeah. Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks, Wills.”

“Hey! Anything for you. You’re my Xander.”

There was that awkward silence thing again and then Willow cleared her throat.

“Look, I gotta go. I need to get ready to meet Buffy. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Sure. You two have fun getting your grove thang on. I’ll talk to you another time.”

He hung up the phone and stared at it silently as he brooded.

This was killing him. He really wished that he knew how they would react to learning about the true scope of the non-human community. Then they could do stuff together and he wouldn’t always be on the outside looking in. They could go dancing or shopping or out to get a bite to eat. It’d be great.

If…

If Buffy didn’t get freaked out about all these demons she’d never known were there.

If Giles didn’t try to tell her that all demons were bad and needed to be slayed no matter what.

If Willow was accepting of his new lifestyle and enthusiastic about the options opening up for him.

So many ifs and he had no way of knowing how that information would go down.

Did being a law abiding and tax paying citizen count if you had scales, horns, or tentacles? He thought so.

But would Buffy?

He usually felt pretty good about it. After all, she was cool with him and she was cool about Angel’s situation.

Maybe he should feel them out about it. Offer hypothetical situations to debate. Ask about species that he knew were peaceful and non-violent. Things like that. Once he was more sure about where they stood on the issue, then he could figure out what to do.

All he knew was that he missed his friends badly.

Well, he wasn’t going to sit at home all alone in his room and whine about his misfortune. He was pathetic, yeah…but not that pathetic. Besides, if he went out and surrounded himself with noise and people then he’d begin to feel better about himself.

The Underground it was then.

New determination filling him, Xander pulled out a pair of black cargo pants that fit okay now that they’d been modified for his tail. Once they were on, he did his best to wipe the grease off his boots and pulled them on his back paws. Then he loaded up with weapons and money. Not really a lot of either, but at least two stakes and his buck knife for his boot.

Then he stomped out of his room and called out to Rory, “Hey! I’m heading off to Underground. Wanna come with?”

“Naw, kid.” He pointed to the tv which showed a bunch of guys running across a basketball court. “Watching the game. Got fifty bucks riding on it.”

Xander quirked a smile.

“Good luck with that.”

Rory nodded. “Thanks, kid. Now go on and get outta here. Have some fun.”

Xander nodded and crossed the kitchen. “Later man.” And then he was stomping down the stairs and carefully making his way through Rory’s workshop. He pointedly ignored the creepy badger in the corner and went through the door.

He crossed the property line and turned to go down the street. He didn’t even make it ten steps when a fancy car’s headlights crossed him and it pulled over next to him. He glanced over, fully expecting to have to run from some random human gaping at him in shock. Instead he saw Cordelia at the wheel flashing him her megawatt smile.

“Hey, S.W.A.T-Kat. Where’re you headed to. I know it isn’t the library ‘cause of what happened this afternoon.”

He grinned. “The Underground.”

And then he winced. He could have kicked himself for mentioning it. Didn’t he already decide to feel the gang out first? He really was a loser.

“Uh…I mean…um, nowhere?” He gestured vaguely and a little too widely for normal. “I was just taking a walk, yeah, a…uh, walk.”

“Uh, huh. Sure.” She gave him a pointed look. “So, Xan…what’s the Underground and why don’t you want me to know about it?”

Xander sighed and quickly realized that he wasn’t going to be able to blow this off with her. Cordelia was just too smart and she knew him too well. She’d see through any lies he could possibly make up.

Lifting a paw to rub his eyes, he walked around her car, opened the passenger door and slumped in. Reaching out, he turned down the radio and shifted to face her.

“Uh…okay. It’s like this,” he said. “The Underground is basically a…well, it’s a non-human club. You know, with dancing and drinks and gambling and stuff. Kinda like a bigger Bronze mixed in a little with Willy’s Alibi Bar.”

Cordelia gaped at him. “And you’re going there!”

Xander rolled his eyes and tried not to get defensive.

“Hey! It’s totally cool. There’s these spells cast all over the place to ensure no fights. The magic knocks you out if you even throw a punch or pull a weapon. So it’s completely safe there.”

Cordelia was silent as she considered that for a moment.

“Hey, honestly. It’s fine. I mean, Uncle Rory took me there just last week.”

She snorted and shook her head.

“That doesn’t fill me with confidence you know. Rory’s so weird that he makes strange look normal.”

Xander just nodded. He wanted to be able to say something ‘cause he really owed a lot to Rory. The man let him move into his spare room, was helping him get his shit together, and even found him a job. But Cordelia was right; the man was bizarre.

“Seriously though. It’s a cool place. The ground level is a giant dance floor with a bar off to one side. If you go down the stairs into the basement, you’ll find a quiet pub type area and a pool hall off to the back. The level below that one is set up like a casino. They got poker, and blackjack, and roulette. There’s a level under that one, but I’ve never gone there, so…I don’t really know about it. But the other three are a lot of fun.”

He looked down in his lap and flexed his paws.

“The best part though, is that I can actually go there. I mean, I don’t stand out like some strange freak. There’s a whole bunch of wild and crazy people there. A few humans here and there, but mostly its non-human.”

Cordelia just looked at him for a long moment. Then she nodded her head and put her car in gear.

“Okay. Let’s go. Where’s this place at?”

Xander’s head snapped up, a fangy grin forming on his face.

“You really wanna go with?” Then he frowned. “What about the cordettes? They’re not gonna wonder where you’re at, are they?”

Cordelia waved them off. “No. Aura has some family thing tonight. It happens once or twice a month for her. Plus, Amber twisted her ankle today and wants to stay off it tonight and Harmony is heading over to her house. Something about a study night in because Harmony’s science grade is too low.” She rolled her eyes. “I doubt that any real studying will actually get done with those two, though.”

He nodded awkwardly thinking that he was her last resort. But then he realized that she could have easily inserted herself into Amber and Harmony’s girls-night-in thing. She also could have gone to the Bronze and hooked up with some football player. Instead, she had chosen to see him.

“Well…” he scratched his chin, thinking. “It’s not in the nicest part of town. So, we can either park your car here at Rory’s and walk, which was what I was gonna do. Or drive there, but then you’d have to park your car out on the street.”

“Drive.” Cordelia said instantly. “I’d rather blame hoodlums on car damage to Daddy than get eaten ‘cause we were walking in a bad neighborhood.”

Xander shrugged and pointed down the street while rattling off the directions on how to get to Underground. Grinning, Cordelia pulled back into the street and drove. Finally, he had her parallel park on the side street and pointed to the building. She frowned deeply.

“Are you sure this is the right place, ‘cause it looks like a creepy and dirty old abandoned factory.”

He rumbled out a chuckle.

“Positive.”

With a sigh and muttered threats under her breath if this wasn’t the right place, Cordelia turned off the car and they climbed out.

They had to walk a little bit to reach the spot where the sidewalk leading to the door met the street. They passed a little green Chevrolet and Cordelia stared at it a moment before turning wide eyes at Xander.

“That looks exactly like Aura’s car.”

“Huh.” He shrugged. “Don’t read too much into that. Plenty of non-humans own and drive cars. Though they usually have tinted windows unless they can pass as human.”

“Oh.”

She followed him, but looked back at the car in confusion once or twice.

Finally, they reached the door and Xander banged on it. The same big guy with the rock-like skin answered. Cordelia stared at him wide eyed. He leered back at her all the while giving the same exact speech as the last time Xander was there. Xander paid the twenty dollar head charge and then they were in.

Cordelia gaped at all the beings and people wandering about and dancing while he worked to adjust to the sounds, scents, and sight bombarding his heightened senses. Then she grasped his arm and a smile started to quirk up her lips.

“I can totally see why you like this place. It’s like stepping into a Star Wars movie.”

“So…do you want to dance, get something to eat, play pool, or what?”

She shook her head, a little overwhelmed by it all. Just then the current song ended and the DJ’s voice echoed through the house.

“Okay guys and gals. It’s Movie Magic Night here at the Underground. And tonight the feature we’re rocking is the cult classic ‘Grease’. So everyone, come out on the dance floor and sing along while you do the Hand Jive!”

Nearly everyone in the room went nuts, hollering and cheering even as the music began to blare out of the speakers at near deafening volume. Cordelia rolled her eyes even as her grin stretched into a huge smile.

“Oh my God! It’s so tacky!” Then she grabbed his paw and dragged him to the dance floor. “Come on! We’re gonna Hand Jive!”

Before he knew it, Xander found himself in a long line of non-humans plus Cordelia as they all stood there singing the words at the top of their lungs and did the Hand Jive. It was silly and stupid and a whole hell of a lot of fun.

That song was followed by ‘Grease Lightening’, ‘Summer Nights’, and ‘Sandra D’. By then, Xander was way overheated and had to practically drag Cordelia off of the floor and over to the bar. It took a while to get through the crowd, but finally Xander was able to order two beers. He turned around just in time to see Cordelia get bumped by a girl with long dark hair with blue undertones to it. The girl turned around and the world seemed to stop.

It was Aura.

“Cordy!” she gasped and then looked around wildly as if trying to figure out how to hide the weirdness surrounding them on all sides. “What are you doing here?”

This could be awkward. However, Aura also had some explaining to do as well. Plus, hopefully she wouldn’t realize that he was the same Xander Harris that she’s known since the second grade.

Trying to seem more confident than he was really feeling, Xander walked over to them and held out a beer to Cordelia. “Here ya go gorgeous.”

Then he took a sip of his own and turned to look at Aura. “So…who’s your friend?”

Cordelia just blinked at him, confused. He held out a paw to Aura as if meeting her for the first time.

“Hey, I’m Xan.”

She smiled, her expression a mixture of charming flirtiness and confused wariness as she shook his paw with her dainty hand.

“Um…hi. I’m Aura.”

Before anything else could be said, two girls that looked a lot like Aura if you ignored the fact that instead of a blue undertone, their hair actually was navy blue melted out of the crowd and flanked her. They were both beautiful and had a strange shimmering sort of halo effect around them.

Aura’s smile turned a little sickly and she shot pleading looks at Cordelia.

“Oh, hey. Um…Cordy, uh, Xan…these are my cousins Corona and Amethyst.”

Cordelia blinked in shock for a moment as she tried to process Aura having cousins that were clearly non-human and then pulled it together enough to flash them her brilliant toothpaste commercial smile.

“Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Cordelia and this,” she reached out and placed a proprietary hand on Xander’s arm, “is my date, Xan.”

Xander couldn’t have contained his huge fang filled smile of happiness if he tried. She’d called him her date! In public! To one of her cordettes!

He nodded to them and literally purred, “Ladies.”

And then it hit him what it was about the cousins that was poking his brain. He’d read about them in Giles’ books, but he’d never met any in person.

“Siren?”

The cousins smiled and nodded, but Aura just blinked and blushed.

“Yeah. I’m uh…only one quarter Siren. On my mother’s side.” She pointed at the two girls flanking her. “They are just the opposite. One quarter human.”

“Ah…” Xander nodded. “That’s cool.”

He finished off his beer and turned to face Cordelia. She looked a little flustered, but she was definitely maintaining her poise very well considering the situation. Still, it was probably best to give both girls a little time to process this whole big reveal thing.

“You about ready to hit the dance floor again, or would you rather visit another level?”

Cordelia turned a smile up at him and put her beer down on a nearby table.

“I think I have a few more dances in me.” Then she turned to smile at Aura. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Aura smiled and nodded while looking a bit relieved. “Call me?”

Cordelia nodded. “Definitely.”

Then she was pulling him through the crowd and up onto the dance floor just as the song switched over to a slow number. Purring with absolute joy, Xander wrapped his arms around her and swayed to the heartbreaking lyrics of ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’.

***

Xander was slumped in a chair at the research table in the library along with the rest of the scoobies. He was ignoring the book open in front of him in favor of staring at Cordelia and picturing her as she was last night after they’d left Underground; naked and sweaty while bouncing up and down on his cock. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear she was in heat. The woman just could not stay away from his dick.

Not that he minded. At all.

She always smelled good; clean and fresh and healthy. It was even better when she was aroused since that scent deepened and grew earthier. Plus, she always tasted good too. No matter where he licked her, and he was definitely developing a fetish for that. The best, though, was when his hard cock was sheathed in her tight wet hole. He would live there inside her if it were possible.

He could feel his cock twitch with interest as he reminisced. Then she looked up from filing her nails and smirked at him. He practically purred in response, but bit it back deep in his throat.

Secret. It was supposed to be a secret.

That’s when it happened. A new scent hit the room. He couldn’t really describe it beyond power. It was the scent of raw, unrefined power. And it was coming from the stacks.

He turned his head to look in that direction just as Buffy and Angel did the same.

A man with dark hair and 70’s pimp clothes shuffled out from the back and smirked across the room at them all. Giles and Cordelia just blinked in surprise. He was fairly certain that, for Cordelia at least, it was due to his odd wardrobe.

“Um…” Giles murmured even as Buffy stood up and pulled a stake out of her pocket.

Angel held out a hand to tell her to stop and tilted his head. “Whistler…” he said.

The man smirked and nodded at the vampire. “Angel.”

“What are you doing here?” Confusion and concern warred on the vampire’s face. “Is something wrong?”

The man held out a hand and wobbled it back and forth in a classic ‘so-so’ gesture.

“Not here for you this time.” He pointed first at Xander and then at Cordelia. “I’m here for the lovebirds.”

“Uh…” Xander could feel himself blush under his fur.

“Look Mr. Bad-Fashion-Choice.” Cordelia snarked. “I don’t know who you are and I have no clue what you’re talking about. So, why don’t you take your tacky outfit back on out of here, hmmm?”

Angel reached up and scratched behind his head.

“Uh, guys?” He gave a pained expression. “This is Whistler. He’s a balance demon.”

“Demon!” Buffy and Giles shouted nearly in unison.

“Yeah. He, um…, he works for the Powers That Be.”

Willow took a moment to stop glaring at Cordelia and tilted her head in confusion. “The powers that be…what?”

Whistler smirked at her. “That be in charge.”

When everyone still looked at him blankly, he sighed.

“They work to keep the balance of power between good and evil from tipping over in the bad guys’ favor. My job is to bring messages from the Powers to the Champions of Light.”

“Really?” Buffy didn’t sound convinced.

“Really, toots.” Whistler said.

Xander cringed. Even he knew better than to call Buffy ‘toots’. She scowled at him and lifted her stake again. Angel, brave idiot that he is, stepped between her and Whistler.

“Anyway, I’m not here for you Slayer. I’m here about your friend and his furry situation. I know why he never returned to human and I have to tell you all about it.”

He grimaced. “I’m going to warn you now. You’re not going to like it, but you do have to know. Just remember, I didn’t do this and it wasn’t my idea. I’m just the messenger.”

“You,” Whistler pointed at Xander, “stayed as a Trianii after the chaos mages’ spell broke because of you.” He pointed at Cordelia.

“What!?” That time, Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia were all in unison.

Whistler held up both hands palms out and took a step back.

“Whoa! I didn’t do it! I’m telling ya. I’m just the schmuck that got sent to inform you about what the hell’s going on.”

Giles cleared his throat loudly and all eyes turned to him.

“Please. All of you, just sit down and try to remain calm. I for one wish to hear every word that Mr. Whistler has to say. We can research the truth of it later. For now…just let him say his peace.”

There was some grumbling and a lot of glaring, but everyone except for Whistler sat at the table. Giles gestured to him.

“Please. Explain in as much detail as you can.”

Whistler nodded. “Yeah…thanks.”

He turned his head and looked directly at Cordelia.

“I don’t know if you know it, but the godling Janus was the one that powered that chaos mage’s spell back on Halloween. The Powers were really pissed off about it too because it endangered the Slayer and Angel needlessly and nearly upset some of their plans. They were all set to put the hurt on him when he offered up some important information in exchange for a free pass.” He grimaced. “That info was about you, dollface.”

Cordelia scowled. “Me? What the hell does Janus have to do with me?”

Whistler shrugged. “Nothing. But his power touched you directly. Twice. Once when the spell first started, you were touching someone in a cursed costume. Then again when you got all kinky against the wall with Bar’Tal here.” He pointed at Xander.

Cordelia blushed and both Buffy and Willow glared first at her and then at Xander.

“That was supposed to be a secret!”

Whistler shrugged. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell.”

Then he grimaced. “Besides, you should be grateful. Cat-boy knocking you up has gone a long way to saving not just your life, but your very soul as well.”

“What!” Came from Buffy and Willow.

“Knocked up!” was yelped by Xander.

Cordelia simply stood up and growled at them all, “Shut up!” She then turned to Whistler and pointed a finger at him. “Explain or die!”

He took another step back with his hands up.

“It’s complicated, but…” he shrugged.

“Janus noticed something odd about you. Someone cursed you before you were even born. When the Powers investigated his claims, they recognized the magic-signature as one of their own. An ex-Power who had been banished from the upper realms for turning to the dark side that goes by the name of Jasmine.”

“From what I understand, a long time ago Jasmine was one of the Powers That Be, only she wasn’t happy with just preventing the forces of darkness from taking over. She wanted to be worshipped as a Goddess, instead. So, she converted a bunch of people with the promise of eternal peace and then she literally devoured them; soul and all. When the rest of the Powers found out, they shredded her essence and banished her.”

“And she cursed me? Why!” Cordelia demanded.

“It’s like this, see; she’s trying to come back. She has several schemes in the works. You’re one of them. Because of the curse she laid on you before you were born, she can be reborn through you.”

Cordelia paled. “And now I’m knocked up with an evil Goddess thing?!”

Whistler shook his head. “No! That’s the whole point with the Thundercat there. All curses have a loophole, some way to get out of them or around them. It’s the very nature of curses and how magic works. The loophole for your curse is that you can only give birth to non-humans.”

“Non-humans.” She repeated in shock.

“Yeah. Jasmine arranged things so that you’d always be protected by a Champion of the Light. So, since she knew that no human could…be with you that way due to the curse and even if a demon got to you that way, your Champion friend would help you terminate the pregnancy. But Bar’Tal managed to fall in the cracks of the loophole. He’s not human, but not a demon either.”

Cordelia nodded, still pasty and shocky.

“Okay, but why can’t I just have this…pr..pregnancy terminated too?”

Xander whimpered and slumped down. He wasn’t ready to be a father anymore than Cordelia was ready to be a mother, but that hurt to hear.

Whistler shook his head. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, dollface. Jasmine can only come to this plane of existence through you if she’s your firstborn. If you give birth to a child that isn’t her, it’ll block her access permanently. And, what’s more, you’ll survive birthing Bar’Tal’s children, but Jasmine will kill you and rend your soul during the birth.”

Shaking, Cordelia slumped back into her chair.

“So…I either have a litter of alien kittens or I die in unspeakable agony birthing an evil Goddess into the world.” She blinked. “That’s my choice?”

Whistler nodded; an expression of compassion and regret on his face.

“Yeah, kid. That’s your choice.” He sighed. “I’m…so sorry.”

Then he grinned.

“Hey, look on the bright side. Bar’Tal wasn’t a demon. Alien, yeah, but still an honorable and intelligent guy. Fully sentient and having a soul.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Her voice was a plaintive wail.

Whistler sighed. “Because you have to know. Jasmine is currently trying to prevent the Powers from finding and stopping all of her schemes. And that means trying to protect the ones she has in play. You’re the biggest one of those, her ticket into this world. She knows about you being in the family way and she’s gonna try to kill off them babies so that you’ll still be able to function as her doorway. Now you know to protect yourself.”

“I…” Cordelia stood up and grabbed her purse. “I need to go. This…is too much. I have to think or…something.” She turned and strode away quickly, “I just have to go…”

Angel stood and nodded at everyone. “I’m gonna follow her, make sure she gets home okay.”

And then he was gone too.

Willow and Buffy were glaring at Xander, partially mad and partially hurt.

“Um…” Whistler glanced over at Xander. “Did…did the Powers make us…uh, um…you know?” Xander waved his paws in the air in some vague way that was meant to indicate sex.

The balance demon chuckled at his display of hyper-dorkness.

“Naw, kid. The fur kink belongs purely to the Princess. No mental whammy there. The Powers just took advantage of it to make sure she ended up in the family way, but the sex was all on you guys.”

“You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, Mister!” Willow snapped at him.

Xander looked over at her and saw Whistler disappear in a shimmer of light out of the corner of his eye.

“Why?”

She pulled back, shocked. “What do you mean, why? I think that’s obvious.”

Xander sighed and hung his head.

“No, Wills. It isn’t. What I do in my bed and who I do it with is nobody’s business but mine. I don’t demand the details of what you or Buffy get up to with Angel and Oz.”

Willow’s face was a mixture of hurt and anger.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it. I mean, hello! Cordelia! Since when are you two dating? And why didn’t you tell me?”

He shook his head.

“Since Halloween. And as for why we didn’t tell; two reasons. One, she didn’t want anyone to know until we found a way to make me human. She’s afraid of what people will say because of the fur thing.”

Buffy smirked.

“Bestiality is not a pretty word.”

Xander’s head whipped around to glare at her. “Neither is necrophilia.”

Buffy paled and drew back as if slapped. “Touché.”

“Xander! That was rude!”

He growled at Willow. “What? Are insults only okay when they’re aimed at me? Or is it Cordelia that it’s okay to attack?”

Willow blushed bright red and surprisingly it was Buffy that came to his defense.

“He’s right Will. What I said was over the line. I basically said that Xander was a mindless animal and not a…a person under all that fur.”

Xander waved a paw at her. “Don’t worry about it. And I’m sorry for the snark at Angel. I mean, yeah I think he’s a putz, but he’s not a corpse…he’s a vamp and it’s also obvious that he adores you, so…” He shrugged.

Buffy’s mouth quirked into a grin and she rolled her eyes. “Thanks…I think.”

Willow grit her teeth and then snorted. “Fine. Whatever. But what’s the second reason you didn’t say anything. I mean, we already knew you were all furry, so that first reason doesn’t really fly.”

Xander sighed and rolled his eyes. “This. This right here is the reason. Okay? This…interrogation like I’ve committed some foul crime is the reason. You don’t like her, I get it. You think she’s a stuck-up, bubble-headed, bitch. Well, she thinks that you’re a whining, manipulative, misfit.”

He shook his head and growled with frustration.

“You’re both wrong! You both have great things about you and are each wonderful in your own way. The biggest difference is that she doesn’t try to stop me from spending time with you, almost never mentions you when you’re not there, and mostly ignores you when you are. You, on the other hand, have this thing for backseat mothering me and never stop bitching and complaining about her.”

Xander sighed and rolled his eyes. “It’s not easy to talk about what’s going on with me and Cordy when you insult her every time her name’s mentioned.”

He gave her a pointed look.

“And frankly, I just didn’t want to hear it. Okay?”

Willow looked shocked, like someone had slapped her with a fish.

“Tha…that’s not true.”

Xander nodded his head even as Buffy and Giles looked away. She paled a bit and looked sort of sick.

“Is it?” her voice was a squeak.

“Uh…” Buffy hemmed for a moment. “Yeah, Wills. You do sort of rant about the evils of Cordelia Chase more than Snyder rants about the evils of teenagers.”

There was a brief pause and then Xander smirked.

“So…Will. Gotten on your knees and sucked off Oz yet?”

Willow blushed fire engine red. “What?” she croaked.

He tilted his head and pasted on a look of pure curiosity. “Gotten naked and ridden him through the mattress? Inquiring minds want to know; kink or vanilla?”

Buffy reached out and smacked his arm even as Willow tried to hide behind her hair.

“Xander! That’s…that’s none of your business!”

Xander nodded and stood up from the table. “Yeah. I know. That was my point exactly.”

Willow drew in a shuddery breath.

“Yeah. Okay. Got it. No talking about you doing sexy stuff because I don’t need to know the details.”

Xander nodded and then reached down to pick up his bag of stuff.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go. I’ve gotta lot of thinking to do. I just found out I’m gonna be a father and I’m pretty sure that the mother of my kids is never gonna want to speak to me again.”

And with that, Xander turned and loped out of the library.


The End

The End

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