Sam sighed and leaned back in her chair, chewing her lip thoughtfully as she surveyed the two open files in front of her. She felt wrong for doing what she was doing but she also knew, in her gut, that something was up.
Ever since they had been abducted by Ba’al, Sam had suspected that something was amiss with Xander and Willow. It might be something inconsequential but the lack of a reaction from the teens when they’d been told the truth had concerned her. In Sam’s opinion, the way Willow and Xander had reacted indicated that they already knew about the Stargate and the alien life that could be contacted through its use, or at least suspected its existence anyway. It wouldn’t have been so much of a big deal had they been much younger, as most young children would be more accepting of the truth since they wouldn’t have learned the difference between fantasy and reality.
Initially Sam had wondered if it was because the teens had been in shock at the time. She’d waited for Jack to mention that the news had sunk in and Xander and Willow were asking lots of questions or their behavior had changed, or something along those lines, but nothing of the sort happened and the pair continued to act as they had before, going through their lives as if nothing had changed.
Sam hadn’t said anything to Jack, not knowing if the colonel would become defensive over his two charges or if he would begin to worry about them even more than he already did. (Although he tried to hide how much he worried about the pair from the rest of the team. Jack wasn’t being very successful though, as Sam, Daniel and Teal’c all knew him well enough to see right through the act.)
Nothing that Sam had discovered so far, however, indicated that Xander and Willow had been involved in something that could lead to them knowing about the Stargate, given that so few people knew of its existence, which answered none of her questions and made Sam wonder if she was wrong and Xander and Willow had merely been good at controlling their reaction to the news. Sam, after all, was not an expert on teenaged behavior.
Still, something was off and Sam had a feeling the truth was going to come out in the near future... in a manner that would most likely be unpleasant for all involved. It was SG1 after all.
Willow felt her heart leap into her mouth as she looked at the newspaper Jack had left out on the table before heading to work and she swallowed, fighting her instinct to gag as her stomach churned within her.
“Xander,” she croaked out.
“What’s wrong?” Xander asked, at her side in a moment.
Willow tried to speak but her throat was suddenly dry. Instead she let out a croak and pointed at the headline. Xander took one look and felt his blood run cold.
“JOGGER KILLED BY WILD DOGS IN SUBURBAN PARK!” the headline blared from the top of the page, above two pictures. One of them featured a picture of the man who had been killed and another of the park he had been killed at, with the crime scene tape going around it.
“Oh, God,” Xander groaned, dropping down into the seat beside Willow. Willow ran her fingers through her long hair.
“Demon?” Xander asked her.
Willow shrugged. “I don’t know... but what else could it be? I mean, I know this isn’t Sunnydale and I know Colorado Springs is close to the mountains and who knows what animals are up there, but you wouldn’t think that they would come all the way into Colorado Springs... would they?’
Xander shook his head. It seemed unlikely to him as well and he was somewhat of an expert on dogs and canine behavior ever since his hyena possession the previous year. Of course, Willow and Buffy were under the impression that he didn’t remember anything of that occasion, although he had a feeling that Willow suspected something and Xander had never said anything to correct their belief. The memories, after all, were rather unpleasant.
Xander was drawn from his thoughts by Willow’s hand on his arm. He looked at Willow and saw the reassuring look on her face.
“What should we do?” he asked her. Willow hesitated, chewing on her lip thoughtfully.
“I’ll have to hack the coroner’s database and see if I can get photos of the injuries. From that, I might be able to determine what we are up against. This happened in the early hours of Thursday morning and the body was discovered at dawn. For all we know, someone else could have been killed this morning or last night.”
Nodding, Xander took another look at the newspaper. He was certain that it was something supernatural but Willow was right – they needed to research in order to learn what type of monster it was and, perhaps most importantly, whether he and Willow be able to handle it alone without Buffy or Giles to help them.
“So much for this being our chance to get away from all things weird,” Xander finally said. “I mean, first we get kidnapped because of Jack’s work and then this. Things are weirder here than they are in Sunnydale.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Willow told him. Xander simply raised his eyebrows in response to her statement.
“But you do have a good point,” Willow added, knowing that he was right. For a supposedly normal town, there was an awful lot going on in terms of supernatural and extraterrestrial shenanigans.
What Colorado Springs needed was a Scooby or two in town... and that was just what it had.
Willow swallowed against her gag reflex as she looked at the pictures of the victim’s injuries, having gained access to the Colorado Springs coroner’s database. Xander sat beside her, holding her hand under the table as he too struggled to calm his churning stomach.
“What do you think?” Xander asked. Willow considered the facts at hand. Her fears from that morning had been confirmed by a news report they had heard on the radio on their way to school. A second man had been killed, mauled to death in a local park very close to where the first man had been found. The wounds looked similar, similar enough to indicate to Willow that it was the same thing that was responsible for both deaths.
“I think we can safely say it’s not a vampire. Even fledglings, or a group of fledglings, wouldn’t incur this type of damage. The attack happened very quickly and it says that both of the men died really quickly from blood loss, so I don’t think it’s related to torture. There aren’t any parts of the body missing, so it’s not like it’s some demon that eats hearts or something.”
“Okay. Not a vampire and not some form of demon with a hankering for human flesh,” Xander said, opening up one of the research books Giles had given the pair of teenagers when they’d left Sunnydale.
“The bite marks look canine, that’s why they’re blaming wild dogs. They’ve tested for evidence for rabies but the results haven’t come back yet,” Willow said as she scanned the coroner’s report with her eyes.
“I suppose that narrows it down. How many demons have teeth like dogs?”
“A fair few surprisingly,” Willow said, leaning back in her chair with a sigh. “Giles makes this look so easy.”
“Hey, you’re doing a great job, Willow,” Xander said supportively. “We’re getting there,”
Willow nodded, getting to her feet and crossing over to the fridge to get them both drinks. She got the two cans of soda out of the fridge and closed it, her eyes falling on the calendar stuck to the front with magnets. Her eyes widened dramatically.
‘Xander!” she yelled. Xander came running into the kitchen.
“What is it?” he asked, alarmed by the tone of Willow’s voice.
“I know what type of demon it is,” Willow croaked, turning around to face him, chewing her lip nervously.
“Yeah, what is it?” Xander asked curiously. Willow swallowed and pointed at the calendar. Xander felt his jaw drop when she saw what Willow was showing him and they said the implications of it at the same time
“Werewolf.” A.N. I there. Firstly i want to apologize for how long it has been since an update, but i was really busy with uni assignments and a few other things real life threw in my way. I'm also sorry about the length of this chapter, but this just seemed like a good spot to wrap up. The next chapter will be longer (definitely, as I'm half way through writing it and it is already longer than this chapter).
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed. For those of you eagerly anticipating the moment when Jack finds out the truth about Willow and Xander's prior experience with the supernatural, this is the story arch that brings it about.
For those that are keeping track the story is now in about early to mid November.
The next update will be up soon, I'm having a creative period as far as this story is going now that i am on holidays, so I've been writing quite a bit.