Summary: being a kitty is not always bad.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of them, sadly enough... *sigh*
AND SO IT BEGINS
Sunnydale is normally not the safest place to be out after dark. However, I had my stake and holy water gun and was pretty confident in my magic not to worry when Buffy didn’t come to pick me up after my night class. I had managed to schedule all the rest of my classes so I’d be home before dark, but this one... no such luck. And to think it was Friday. Sheesh... Some teachers really have it bad.
The campus was quiet, very few people hurrying left and right to get to safety. Smart people. My goal tonight was the Magic Box for a little quality research time. Ever since the rest of the United States legalized vampires I’ve been trying to learn as much as I could about them, as well as lycanthropes. We may not need to worry about them here on the Hellmouth, since they pretty much tend to stay clear of it, but hey... a little knowledge never hurt anyone. Finding out about this new type of vampire was fascinating. Well, ok, they weren’t exactly new, especially considering some of them were so old it was scary. But for a Scoobie like me... they were a whole new, wonderful reason to research. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a groupie, not by far, but I’d long ago come to terms with the fact that knowledge was more enticing to me than the best aphrodisiac. I giggled. Once a bookworm, always a bookworm.
It was eerily quiet by now, and I was starting to get worried. I mean, even on the most calm of nights there was life in the bushes, wind rustled through trees. But now... nothing, only my footsteps on the ground. I stopped, trying to hear something, anything, but I couldn’t. Not a thing.
“You’re being paranoid, Rosenberg.” I whispered to myself.
I didn’t even get to take another four steps when something slammed into my back, taking me down so fast I could only watch as the ground rushed towards me. I hit hard, instantly dizzy. I didn’t have time to catch my breath before I felt my back being torn into. It hurt so much I could only scream, unable to push off whatever was on top of me slicing into me. A huge mouth clamped on my shoulder and I heard the bones braking. It was a horrifying sound, and I was already starting to black out from the shock. I think I heard my name being yelled, but then it all went black.
My eyes didn’t want to open and, frankly, I was ok with that ‘cause I was feeling a bit numb. I was on my belly, head turned to one side, and someone was holding my hand. Ok, now for the tough part. Open your eyes, Rosenberg. That’s it, just a bit more... hey, that’s Buffy. And where am I? This isn’t my room.
“Buff..” whoah, was that my voice? I cleared my throat, as much as I could, and tried again. “Buffy?”
Her head snapped up, and I could see she’d been crying.
“Wills. Oh God, you’re awake. Oh, Wills, I’m so sorry...” her voice broke down and tears spilled over her cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Buffy. What’s wrong?”
“Oh god, Willow...” she leaned over me, kissing my temple, all the while whispering she was sorry.
I didn’t know what was going on, so I tried to move to my side, hoping for a better position to talk. That’s when the pain started, and I couldn’t hold in the whimper. She snapped out of it like she’d been burned.
“Oh God, don’t move. I’ll get a nurse. Don’t move.” she said, and she was out the door.
It must have been a minute later that she came back, dragging a nurse by the arm. The woman set out to check on me with a swiftness I couldn’t help but be eternally grateful for, seeing as the pain started to fade as soon as she fumbled with something outside my area of vision.
“I’m glad you’re awake, Miss Rosenberg. The pain will go away in a few minutes. I’ll go get your doctor.” her voice was tired, yet kind.
I heard Buffy whisper her thanks as the nurse made her way out of the room.
“Buffy? What happened?”
I wanted to know right then, before whatever the nurse gave me for the pain made me too tired to think. Buffy sighed wearily and retook her seat beside my bed. I could tell she didn’t exactly want to tell me.
“It was all my fault. If I hadn’t been late, none of this would have happened. I’m sorr..”
“Buffy. No more of this ‘it’s my fault’ stuff. I’m already getting tired from the pain medication. Please, just tell me what happened.”
She took a deep breath, making a visible effort to calm down.
“I was late to pick you up. The training with Giles caught both of us, and by the time I looked at my watch it was already late. I took off as fast as I could. I was about half way to campus when I heard you screaming...” she paused there, eyes squeezed shut as another tear traveled down her cheek. “It was a wereleopard. It.. he was biting you, scratching you. I think he figured you were an easy meal... I killed it...” she stopped then to recollect her thoughts. “You were passed out, and I brought you to the hospital.”
I let it all sink in, but I had to ask. There was no way around it.
“How bad is it?”
She was silent for a few good seconds, then finally meeting my eyes. There was sorrow in the hazel orbs.
“It looks like you were infected. You’re already healing faster than normal.”
I sighed. Ok, so I was a wereleopard now. Not the tragedy it would seem. If I’d have been that afraid to become a were anything I wouldn’t have dated Oz.
“Well, at least now I can help you on your patrols.” I offered with a tiny smile.
Buffy let out a half sob half snort. She took my hand again, leaning in to kiss my forehead and lay her head on the pillow so we were face to face.
“I love you, Wills.”
“Love you, too, Buffy. No more blaming yourself, ok? Wasn’t your fault.”
“Ok, got it.” she whispered, half convinced.
“Look at me, missy. Resolve face here. It was not your fau...” I ended that in a yawn.
I was getting tired, but on the bright side the pain wasn’t there anymore.
“I’m gonna take a nap now, Buffy. See you later.”
I heard her voice telling me she’d be right there, then drifted into sleep.
As it turns out, I had slept Saturday away. On Tuesday morning I was already healed enough to leave the hospital. My doctor didn’t particularly like it, bur he got a dose of my resolve face so he let me go. By Friday my temperature had already risen considerably, which was normal according to all the stuff on shifters I’d gotten my hands on. Full moon was Sunday night.
We had checked the basement we used to use for Oz. It was in pretty good condition. A couple of blankets on the floor, and I was set. Buffy would be staying with me for the transformation, since I didn’t particularly want to be naked in front of Giles and Xander. They’d be waiting outside, ready to help if there was need. Though what exactly they could do to help was beyond me. Guess it made them feel better to be somewhere near.
I didn’t really expect to have much control the first time. Not to mention that I had no clue as to how the Hellmouth would affect me. My back and shoulder were still a bit stiff, but as I’d read, they would heal completely with the change. Half an hour before sunset I locked myself in the cage. I was feeling a bit restless, like I itched on the inside. We’d prepared a huge bowl of water and one of raw meat in one corner of the cell. I knew I was supposed to eat soon after the shift to regain my strength. The reddish meat didn’t look very tasty at the moment, but I fully expected that to change.
I felt the sun go down, I felt it in my very soul. The change did hurt, but it was somewhere on a thin line between agony and pleasure. The bones started realigning and it felt like there was something in me that wanted to get out, and it was ripping my body from the inside to do that. I gritted my teeth against the pain. My fingers elongated, wickedly dangerous claws at the end. Thick, black fur sprouted out of my skin as I fell on all fours. Hot liquid slid down my back to splash on the ground around me and with a final sigh I was a leopard.
Everything was enhanced. I could hear owls flapping their wings outside while diving for their prey. Wind rustled through leaves. Giles and Xander were pacing, their heartbeats loud in my ears. And above all of that, there was another steady thump in front of me. The basement smelled of dust and mold, the bars were a bit rusty and the smell tickled my nostrils. And Buffy’s scent was vanilla and blood. My mouth salivated. I felt the desire to run, to hunt, to chase the hot blooded bodies near me even while I knew they were friends. I had a lot to work on control. I moved closer to the bars, nose sniffing the intoxicating aroma of live food. My chest rumbled in a plea to be let out, to sink my fangs into Buffy’s neck and feed. I shoulder butted the bars, but they held. Sturdy stuff. The scent of fresh meat hit my nose and I headed for the other side of the cell, shaking off my damp fur as I walked. It didn’t give me the satisfaction of the chase, but it was accessible, and right then it satisfied my hunger. The meat was sweet, tasty, blood still squirted from it as I bit down and chewed. The water was fresh, cold and it also helped clean my muzzle.
“Wow...” came the awed whisper. It was Xander.
I turned, laying eyes on my friends. There was still the lure of the hunt, but it was faint now that I’d eaten. I padded to the bars slowly, showing off my feline grace. I easily came up to Buffy’s waist. I couldn’t exactly expect them to pet me on the head, so I laid against the bars, sinking down on my side. I purred, hoping to calm them. I could smell their fear, although it wasn’t as strong as I’d thought it would be. A hand tentatively touched my fur, fingers combing through it. I purred louder, reassuringly. The hand moved behind my ear and I wanted to mewl in pleasure. A second hand began scratching my belly and I turned on my back, happy to oblige. I’d read that touch is very important for shifters and I also expected to like being petted especially since I was feline, but this... this was divine.
I heard them laughing at my antics, and I think I heard a few sniffs. Sure enough, I could smell tears. I arched my back, neck stretched to offer my chin for scratching, and to my utmost delight, Giles did. My tongue came out to lick his wrist and I heard him chuckle. One paw wend to rest on Buffy’s arm, claws carefully sheathed. I moved slowly so I wouldn’t startle them as I got to my feet, still purring. I’d noticed it went a long way to make them comfortable. My eyes locked onto Xander’s and then I rubbed my head against the bars right in front of him, as if I was rubbing myself on him. Two arms sneaked between the bars and encircled my neck, embracing me as much as he could. And then I heard him whispering in my ear.
“We love you, Wills. Always.”
My friends spent that night with me, talking and laughing. My first night as a leopard. Life would be different from then on. I’d have to learn control, because I wasn’t too keen on spending all my full moon nights locked in a cage. I knew I could do it. And with my friends’ help and support, I would.
END AND SO IT BEGINS