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Summary: Twenty-four prompts, twenty-four fics, twenty-four days till Christmas. Brought to you by Wishlist_fic on LiveJournal.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > General > Ficlet Collections - Other(Moderator)AvaFR152023,98815714,9601 Dec 1027 May 13No

Instinct

Title :: Instinct
Series :: The Law of Club and Fang
Rating :: FR13
Disclaimer :: Supernatural and all related characters are copyright Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises & The CW Network. No infringement intended. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement intended.

Prompt :: slighted/BtVS, Supernatural/More of the ‘The Law of Club and Fang.’ Maybe how Buffy meet John.


+


“So how’d you know Dad?”

“Long story.”

“He try’n kill you?”

“Apparently not that long.”



+


Icy cold slipped over her tongue, burned its way down her throat and into her gut as she lapped greedily at a shallow stream. The repetitive motion of her tongue brought forth ripples that spread outward and broke apart the moon’s reflection. It hung swollen and full above her, brought the darkened paths of the forest into twilight and made hunting the few deer foolish enough to move through the trees into easy prey. She shifted, paws attempting to find purchase in the frozen snow that lined the stream and her nose wrinkled when it came in contact with the frigid water.

Her head rose, tongue coming forward to free the exposed flesh of the offending droplets as the wind cut a burning path through the trees. It slipped between her legs and she stumbled, backpedaling away from the stream. Her body twisted, dipping as she spread her legs wide and shook off the sudden cold that chased a phantom hare down her spine. The snap of a twig stopped her, stilled her frantic movements and lifted her head, the forest brightened and dimmed in the same instant as her vision tunneled and her muzzle lifted, nose twitching as she scented the air.

The wind brought with it the scent of frozen earth and little else as she studied the tree line and a flash of black swiveled her head. Her body followed the movement as she sprang forward, head low and ears perked as she darted across the narrow valley the stream had cut through the forest and towards the shivering undergrowth. The night grew colder, the wind stronger as she reached the trees and her body sunk deeper to the ground as she slowed to a trot.

Nostrils flared, scenting the air and her eyes, green and human calculating, narrowed on the snow stretched out before and around her that was covered in a patchwork shadows made by the canopy of leafless branches that intermingled and dimmed her world. She took a hesitant step forward, body quivering in anticipation and her heart sputtering inside her chest. It beat and thrummed, warming her winter-cold body as she sank deeper into that part of herself that reveled in the dark, a primordial part that understood the night, the cold and the hunt.

Her nose twitched, neck pushing forward and head cocking as the crisp sound of the compact snow giving beneath a hoof narrowed her search and she leapt. Body falling into a steady run that propelled her deeper into the forest and darkness as her world melted into scent and sound and she relied on her strongest scenes to guide her through the sleeping forest and towards a warm meal. She darted beneath a low-lying branch and around a deep snow drift, slipping at the last minute and costing herself a few fleeting seconds as she scrambled for footing.

A high whine deeper within the forest brought her pack into the chase as she pushed herself harder, faster and it brought her breath out in harsher pants that misted the air. They expelled the warmth of her body to beat against her face as she rounded another drift and came upon a thick patch of underbrush stripped clean to the bone and covered in ice. Three paces and she reached it, hind legs coiling before they shoved forward, her spine bending as she leapt, high and over the bit of sleeping vegetation.

Her front paws struck the snow on the other side, spread it upwards in a white flurry as her hind legs came forward to impact the earth.

There was a snap, a crunch and then pain, a pain that burned hotter than the wind and stole her breath.

It left her whimpering and alone in the darkness and snow.


+


“Wait. You jumped into a trap?”

“I was fifteen, jackass.”

“Fifteen and steathless.”

“Dean?”

“What?”

“Shut up.”

“…”

“You shut up.”


+


Goosebumps rose painful and tight over her exposed skin as she pushed at the snow, her hands shivering as Buffy created a shallow dune that would help block some of the freezing wind. Panic and pain had forced on her an early change that did more damage than good and left her nude and human in Yosemite Park, in the dead of winter. A place where the waterfalls froze at night and the winds cut deeper then the metal teeth currently lodged tight into the bone of her calf.

Her left leg was useless and her hands were sore and bloody from trying, and failing, to free herself from the trap until a burning sensation had stolen her breath and left her gasping as blisters formed along her palms. The bear trap had to be laced with silver, stupid poisonous silver, it was the only explanation she had for her skin having that adverse a reaction to it and the collage of angry red lines mapping the veins beneath her skin and worked their way outward from her wound gave credence to that assumption.

Her father was going to kill her—if the hunters that laid this trap didn’t get her first.

She moved deeper into her half-assed sanctuary, further away from the freezing wind. Her leg shifted and spilled more warm blood to pool beneath her, melting the snow and creating a sticky wetness that did little to alleviate her panic as she continued to work at reinforcing her pathetic excuse for shelter. Buffy kept her movements slow and controlled, focused on taking deeper breaths, which burned her lungs, and listened for any sign of her pack, of her father.

The bush she’d leapt was at her back and thick with ice, helping to block some of the wind as she piled more snow in front of her and did all that she could to keep her leg immobile. A slow thud stilled her movements and her head inclined as that thud was echoed by several more and they were beating quick and steady. The wind shifted course and she shivered, body curling inward even as her neck lengthened and she scented the air.

Green eyes widened, pupils spiraling down as she pressed herself closer to the snow and pitched her breath towards the mound to muffle it. She could taste their scent on the back of her tongue, their excitement and fear a heady mixture that stirred the darker parts of her psyche and the part of her that had been in the back of her mind licking its wounds made itself known with snarl. Buffy clamped down on her teeth, tightening her jaw and breathed through her nose, swallowing the sound her wolf made and willed it back.

The heartbeats came closer, still rapid, still thrumming away inside strong bodies that were filled with blood and meat, filled with food. She swallowed, throat constricting with the movement and attempted to distract herself from the urge to hunt and instead focused on the sound those bits of thick, beating muscle emanated. Her nostrils flared and she closed her eyes as she scented the air, separating a quick beat that skipped two beats every six. He’d be slightly weaker, prone to slow before the others if she chased, if she had the ability to chase them.

Buffy thrust her jaw forward and focused, locating four distinct heartbeats total before they reached her and she sucked in a shallow breath, held it as they passed. Her own heartbeat grew louder, filling the void as the others slipped past her and the scent of men grew dimmer before she expelled her breath and panted into the snow. The scent of mint snatched away her relief and she flinched when another, steadier heartbeat came upon her slowly.

This one was calm, no excitement, no thrill and it chilled her more than the snow melting beneath her and she winced. The movement tugging at her leg, forcing a whimper past her clenched teeth and that heartbeat paused before being followed quickly by several rapid echoes. They thudded in her head and chased away the wolf as human fear replaced all other feelings and animalistic thoughts and Buffy shivered in the snow and her own blood as she waited. A shadow descended over the snow, making its way past the wide-trunk tree to her left and Buffy inched her way closer to the bush at her back.

The barrel of large gun was the first thing she saw of the hunter and it stole her breath, widened her eyes so that she stared at that dark muzzle and absently wondered what color it actually was and if it’d spark when it ended it her life. Her breath misted outward slowly before she drudged up the courage to look up that barrel and into a pair of dark eyes, she’d guess brown, that narrowed when she meet them and a minute movement of his hand drew her gaze down to the trigger as his finger tightened.

Her arms rose of their own accord and she covered her face, her head and cowered away from the man that could, and wanted to, end her life. It was a futile gesture that would do no more to shield her than the layer of snow in front of her, but it also saved her pride as tears made warm tracks down her numb cheeks. A sob choked her, but a low trickling growl lifted her head and Buffy watched, stunned, as the man spun, raising his shotgun towards the trees and the shadows surrounding them.

A huff and a snarl sounded to the left and Buffy swallowed thickly as more growls and yips could be heard in the distance as the few pack members her father had brought with them made themselves known in the forest. The hunter kept his gaze turned on that forest and Buffy’s eyes widened when a mass of black fur separated from the shadows and her dad’s eyes were narrowed and cold on the man in front of her.

The hunter’s heartbeat was quick and rapid, but the scent of mint remained strongest as whatever fear he had was swallowed by something stronger and he lifted the shotgun, took aim at the wolf and Buffy cried out, “Daddy!” she winced at her own choice of words, but the hunter hesitated and she begged, “Please don’t hurt him.”

His shoulders tensed beneath a thick leather jacket and his head turned, gave her his stubble-covered profile as she gazed up at him, presented him with her tear-stained face and did her best to look human frail as she whispered, “Please,” one last time.

“John!”

The worried shout of a name drew the hunter’s focus away from Buffy, away from her dad and her pack and the hunter, apparently named John, let his head fall back a moment. He gazed up at the sky for three spans of his heart beating before he dropped his chin to his chest and called back, “Just takin’ a leak.”

“Alright, but don’t wonder too far. This place is crawlin’ with wolves.”

“You’re tellin’ me,” was muttered into his chest before John groused, “Really? Haven’t seen a thing. Did Cain remember where he set those traps yet?”

“Hell no,” there was a chuckle and then the voice offered, “That fucker has more balls than brains. You know that.”

“Yeah,” John sighed, “I’ll be a few.” He turned and caught her dad’s gaze for a moment before adding, “Don’t let the others wander off too far.”

“On it.”

The crunch of snow signaled the end of the conversation as the other hunter made his way back towards Cain and the others and left John alone with her and her dad. They stared at one another for several more silent moments before John inclined his head and muttered, “This is why I work alone,” her dad snorted and shook himself, spreading out the dark fur that covered his body and his tail rose, the tan markings wrapped around the tip twitched, as he continued to gaze up at the hunter. A smirk twisted John’s mouth and he stepped back, lowering the shotgun as he explained, “I let her go and you and yours leave. You don’t leave and this turns bloody on both sides. Understand?”

Buffy watched her father give an awkward bob of his head, baring the more pale fur marking the bottom of his jaw with the upward movement, and John nodded in agreement, “Alright then. Now go calm your kid so she doesn’t scream when I free ’er.” Hank took a step toward her and Buffy watched John step with him, in front of him, drawing his gaze up as John added, “If you attack, hell, if you breathe wrong, I’ll call for backup and they’ll be a lot less friendly than I am.”

Her dad’s head inclined before he finished the space between them in four quick strides and she was able to bury her face in his thick fur. Inhale the scent of pack, of family, before he moved his body to block most of the cold. Buffy kept her fingers threaded in his soft undercoat, where it was warm and turned to keep her face buried in his throat where it smelled faintly of sand as John came to kneel beside her. She turned, peered out at the hunter from the safe haven of her dad’s shadow and watched as the shotgun was laid just behind him and well out of her reach.

He leaned forward to study the trap gouging her leg and she turned to her father, met his worried, too human gaze, and stated, “Worst birthday ever.” A surprised snort escaped the human in front of her and Buffy turned back to John, studied his weathered face and guessed him closer to her father’s age than her own. He looked up at her and she gave him a weak, still frightened smile, before offering, “Thank you.”

Those dark eyes of his widened, as if surprised by the sentiment, and he grunted what she assumed was a welcome before he pushed at the snow surrounding the trap. Buffy winced, her fingers flexing in and around her dad’s fur and John glanced up, frowned at her and stated, “I’m gonna need you to stand to get this off. Can you?”

Buffy hesitated only a moment before giving him a tight nod and he rose, offering her his hands and she stared at them, slightly confused, before her father pushed at her with his shoulder. She blinked, shook her head and took those offered hands and the help to stand. Her body rose and the pain in her leg sharpened from a pounding throb to a sharp stabbing that overrode all of her other senses and she sagged against the hunter’s chest as her vision swam.

The scent of mint was overwhelming and a thudding heart beneath her ear brought her back to herself a few moments later. A snarl drew her head back from cold leather and she turned to stare down into her dad’s worried gaze and bared teeth and she frowned at the fact that her head felt wrapped in cotton, it muffled her senses even as she reasoned, “I think blood loss might be an issue.”

Another wolf separated itself from the woods and it’s dappled grey on white fur told Buffy that Micah, her dad’s closest friend, was making his way towards them. John’s body tensed and she let her head fall back so that she could meet his gaze and it rolled a little too far before she corrected it and managed to state, “Friend, not foe.” Micah took a place slightly behind her and her father mirrored him on the other side and Buffy eased herself back from John and slipped her fingers into the fur lining their shoulders before grasping great handfuls. Their closer proximity anchored her some and she used their solid backs as crutches when John stepped away from her and knelt once more.

Buffy swallowed, ignored how close he was to her more intimate regions and fought the embarrassed blush threatening to stain all of her exposed flesh a delicate crimson. There was a metallic clink as he straightened the trap and her hands tightened their hold and pulled up slightly. Micah leaned into her, offering silent comfort.

“John!”

All four of them tensed at the worried shout followed by crunching snow and Buffy her head, frowned at the bush she’d been hidden by while laying in the snow, but she was now fully exposed. A muttered, “dammit,” from the hunter was quickly followed by a sharp bark as another of her pack separated from the trees and darted towards the humans about to stumble upon them. Buffy watched frightened and amazed as a pale wolf with a stripe of grey down his spine leapt past them and then Oliver was gone.

His departure was followed by a stream of muttered curses and gunshots before the voice shouted, “John hurry y’ur ass! We’ve got a live one!”

More shouting and frantic footfalls leading away from them followed and Hank growled, low and a warning that had John looking to him and offering, “You had a better plan?”

“Can we save the testosterone for another time?”

Buffy’s sharp interruption of her dad’s snarling response got a snort from both John and Micah. They shared a quick look before John grasped the two levers on either side of the jaws that Buffy had been unable to move without burning herself and pushed down. The pressure surrounding her calf eased up a bit and brought with it another rush of tingling pain. John grunted before shoving downward and the teeth slid out of her skin and she pulled her knee up towards her chest, unable to do much else, and freed her leg completely. The trap snapped with a sharp crack of metal striking metal and Buffy stumbled back, falling into Micah and then downward.

She blinked at John who eased back to retrieve his shotgun from the snow and her dad stepped forward, placing himself in front of Buffy as Micah moved to take her back. They created a very effective and warm shield from the cold and John that had Buffy rolling her eyes as she snapped, “I doubt he’s going to shoot me now,” a nip on her shoulder stopped her next comment and Buffy caught the warning from Micah and switched tactics, “Thank you, John.”

The hunter dropped his chin and rose, keeping his gaze trained on all of them before his mouth spread, flashing straight white teeth before he stated, “You’re welcome.”


+


“Now hold on just a damn second. Your pack just let him go?”

“Nope.”

“No?”

“No. My dad tracked John and you guys to Curry Village the next morning—”

“To threaten him?”

“To thank him.”

“Huh.”

“Yeah.”

“Christ your birthdays suck.”

“Tell me about it.”
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