Somewhere where she ends and the Primal begins, Cordelia comes to see it all. Or rather feel. The primal isn't human enough to communicate. Not in any language she can comprehend. Instead she's treated to a rush of impressions, sensations, and even images.
Somehow, she comes to understand.
It had been one with a warrior once.
A strong man, so strong, strong enough to make more kin. The four other Primals had come into being inside his brothers. They had fought, long and hard. Protected their home as much as they could. There was so much to fight. Demons, their kin, demons who looked like kin, bad shaman. Yet they had flourished, they had lived, they had loved.
Then they had been betrayed. The loved one had been a bad shaman, she had torn the Primals away. Torn the warriors in two. Killed the other half, trapped the rest into her pets. But they had still been strong enough to deny her. Strong enough to get away.
But not strong enough to find another half again.
Locked away from those who lusted for their power. Into beasts, animals who couldn't make more kin. Mere beast who would taint them. Only the sun kept them alive. Only the sun was worth surviving.
The Primals had been stuck inside those hyenas a long time. Cordelia couldn't say how long. Time didn't mean the same to either creature, but she was pretty sure it had been a few hundred years at least. Long enough for the hyenas nature to taint the Primals. Maybe they were more primitive now, or maybe they'd evolved, adapted in the only way they could.
But the other Primals would never be the same, or near enough, anyway. And the Primal inside Cordelia knew it.
It was the only one who had remained mostly whole. It had been drawn to her not by her aggression, but by her will to protect. To defend what she viewed as hers.
The other Primals were too warped by the hyenas they'd inhabited. They had become beasts themselves.
Cordelia opened her eyes. She couldn't see how she glowed gold. Too distracted by the different lights before her own eyes. She could see it now. The soft yellow light of the Primals, the taint of the hyenas inside them, sickeningly green. She almost laughed. There was a female hyena spirit inside of kyle and Heidi, Tor and Rhonda hadn't been so fortunate and landed the males ones. Well, it certainly explained what was wrong with the hierarchy.
She blinked, sighed. It simply wouldn't do.
She would not allow such weak creatures inside her pack. Not when she could make more. She was much stronger than her Primals old warrior had been. So much stronger. Certainly strong enough to resist the beast inside her.
Cordelia examined the energy inside herself, felt each separate entity. The Primal, the Hyena, and Herself. She focused on the Acid green of her own Hyena. Just that extra bit brighter than the rest. The strongest. She held it inside herself and bought it to the fore. She felt along the bond with her pack, every single individual thread. Cordelia could feel them, Kyle, Rhonda, Heidi, and Tor. Each separate entities, Person, Primal, Hyena.
And then she began to pull. Pull them inside herself, pooling all of it, Primal and hyena into the deep acid green core inside her. It burned, but she wouldn't fail in this. She couldn't afford to. Not when she wanted to live, the pack was life, it could not be allowed to be weak.
Not in this town.
So Cordelia ignored the wreathing of her pack on the floor, shut her ears to their moans of pain, and pulled it all out. Primal and hyena. She just barely managed to leave the person behind.
Then far too full, feeling like she would burst into animal rage and light, Cordelia destroys it all. It's surprisingly simple, easy enough. She melds the warped Primal inside her with the person. Together they are much, much stronger than any hyena, easily strong enough for the whole Pack.
She laughs as she feels them die inside of her. The Primal hadn't been the only one warped by the hyena after all.
The people who were once Pack flee.
Heidi is the first on her feet. Rabbit like, she runs. Cordelia's fairly certain it doesn't even occur to her to look back.
Tors next. He rolls to his knees with a painful groan. Makes it onto his feet with a whimper. He shoots her an inscrutable look as he turns and simply walks away.
Rhonda doesn't look at her, neither does Kyle. Rhonda runs, or tries to run, mostly she fails, but Cordelia can hear her steps becoming surer the further away she gets.
Kyle stays exactly where he is.
Cordelia feels hollow inside.
"Why did you do that?" he asks, begs.
"Aren't you glad you're free?" Cordelia questions, genuinely curious. This is not a reaction she had expected.
"Not really." Kyle answers, honest. She can smell a lie, and his truth is earnest.
"Why?" Cordelia asks, she knows why she still hold the Primal. Power has always appealed to her. There's no mystery there. But this? This she didn't see coming.
"I liked being pack. You were my queen, I was happy to serve." The reply is prompt. Kyle isn't thinking about it too hard. It's clear enough for him. Cordelia should have realized he hadn't given her enough trouble as a beta. Kyle was clearly a submissive. He liked having someone else be in charge.
"I could be again." Cordelia offers. The Cordelia who had been wouldn't have. The Cordelia that had only ever been human would have been horrified at killing the zoo keeper, danger to the pack that he was, would have been horrified at the all meat diet, would have loathed every stitch of the clothing she was wearing.
The Cordelia that was, that had been much more, and much less, didn't care. She understood strength, understood need, understood kin and Pack. That was all that was important.
And her soul ached. No kin, no pack. She was alone.
"Really?" Kyle asks, and he sounds so hopeful. Like Cordelia has offered him the sun and the stars. Not a place in her pack, a new half of kin. She looks into Kyle's eyes and knows that what she's offering means so much more to him than any of that.
Perhaps he is like her already; warped.
"Yes." She says, and again, it's so easy, so simple. She kneels beside him, cradles his head in her lap, tilt his chin, expose his neck, and buries her teeth in his throat. She floods his person with her light, coaxes another being like her own inside him.
When she pulls back, the raw would on his neck stitches itself back together. Primals heal well, but Kyle looks like he's in the need for another sun nap.
Dawn is soon, she can feel it under her skin.
"Thank you alpha." Kyle rasps slightly. She smiles a him, with all the warmth and joy of not having to be alone. She never wants to be alone again.
A faint squeak from the corner distracts them.
Jonathan had watched it all from his corner. Equally awed and terrified.
But he's a genius.
It's something he ignores most of the time. He's a geek to begin with, that sets him apart enough. It's not even like he's the smartest kid in school. Oh no, that would mean he had an Identity. No, that tittle belongs to Willow Rosenberg, and the other true intellectual giants. Only they have a hope of fighting her over that tittle.
Jonathan is just a lot smarter than most people is all. It's better that way. Sort of.
He's still a genius. So he works it out. They had all been possessed, they had all been degrading, animal spirits coming out and planning to have Jonathan for dinner. Then Cordelia had grabbed Heidi, slammed her down, done something.
Whatever it was made her glow. It was beautiful. The light seemed to come from somewhere deep inside her, he's never seen anything so amazing, never seen someone so incredible.
Then the others started to glow. And Cordelia had still been doing whatever it was she did. Pulling at their light until it faded away.
After that it looked like they weren't possessed anymore. Three of them left, Kyle stayed. Kyle who wanted to be possessed again. Only not.
Jonathan glances at the pen he had been cowering against. The Hyenas inside lie still, dead. Their definitely not hyenas anymore. That only leaves one option, Primals. Spiritual Symbiotes, he'd called them. He wants one.
"Me too." Jonathan says, speaking up for once in his life. What's the worse that could happen? If she says no, he's no worse off than before.
It takes everything he has to meet Cordelia's eyes when her stare bores into him.
Cordelia turns him too.
Jonathan's physically weak, but he's smart, and that's a strength her pack needs, unprepared as it is. Kyle isn't terribly strong himself. But he'll do. She can train him, she plans to train them both regardless. She can protect them, but her strength alone won't make the pack truly strong.
She hums happily as she drives them home. The joy of new Kin singing in her bones. She still has plans to hunt monsters, but she won't be much use at the moment. She's not strong enough for a tough fight. She's tired, all the power she's channeled has left her worn out.
Tomorrow. She'll start tomorrow.
Cordelia drives back towards the Bronze. She opens her window, keeping her senses honed for that one scent she'd been extra sure to memorize.
She finds it easily enough, mildly surprised when she drives up to him, he's still up. Walking down a block.
"Hello Xander Harris" Cordelia all but purrs.