Xander had gone crazy at it was all her fault. She could try and twist it around, pointing fingers at the others and she could claim ignorance of what had gone on before, but that didn't change the facts. She had let loose a terror that had spent many years bound and gagged inside of one of her closest friend's mind. It was cold comfort that the entire mess was a complete accident.
Because it could have been avoided if she had only waited for help.
You see, she had become fascinated with magic around the same time period that she found out she was the Key. Both Willow and Tara had encouraged her and always tried to help her and teach her, but she wanted more. She wanted to be stronger and more talented and just...better. However, she didn't have Willow's raw power and she didn't have Tara's lifetime of training from a young age. She merely had excellent teachers and pure belief in magic. And somehow, it never seemed to be enough for her.
And so she had attempted to do a spell that she had known was beyond her skill. It was wrong and if she had merely asked, both Willow and Tara would have been willing to help, but she had wanted to do it herself. She had been filled with pride and arrogance. She had been utterly stupid.
Of course, the spell had ripped away from her control and went wild. As soon as she realized what had happened, she began the first spell that the witches had taught her. A spell of Undoing. It was a spell that could tear apart any other magic, one spell at a time. Willow had discovered it along with Giles during that whole Toth-splitting-Xander-in-two ordeal and it had come in very handy ever since.
Unfortunately, just as she was casting the Undo Spell on her own misfired magics, Xander had come calmly strolling into the back of the magic shop looking for some odd thing or another. Whistling, he had known enough to walk around her circle of casting as he headed towards the cabinet, however she had panicked about the wild uncontrolled misfired spell from earlier hurting him and in her upset state of mind, she had accidentally aimed the Undo Spell at Xander and not the erratic and unstable magic. And this time her spell worked.
At first, she wasn't worried. After all, the only purpose of the Spell of Undoing was to literally undo a magic spell that had been cast. And Toth's Separation Spell had already been undone.
Needless to say, Dawn had been horribly confused and upset when Xander suddenly turned to her and sneered, growling at her that she better "stay the fuck out of his way" before he totally trashed the Magic Box. It was only an hour after he left that she found out about the Hyena. The demonically powered animal spirit that possessed him still and which had been barred and caged deep inside his psyche for years by a single spell. A simple containment spell that she had unwittingly undone.
Spike stood there frowning at the two angry humans with the pool cue in his hand, wondering how he was going to talk his way out of this one. The chip in his head wouldn't let him go with his first impulse to just impale the idiots with the pool cue and then laugh while they bled out all over the cheep linoleum floor. However, they were just a tad upset with him. They seemed to feel that he had either cheated or was just hustling them.
Of *course* he was hustling them. He had no reason, nor need, to cheat. He'd been playing billiards since before their grandparents had been old enough to stand at a table. It was pretty safe to say that he was the best damn pool player on the whole stinking Hellmouth.
And now the snotty college brats didn't want to pay up. In Spike's opinion, he had bloody well earned that money. However, it seemed as if the boys would prefer to beat the snot out of the winner instead of forking over the doss. In such an instance, pride was a double-edged sword. His pride demanded that he collect his money, but pride also told him that it would be unseemly for a Master Vampire to get the tar kicked out of him in public by two humans.
That's when Harris showed up. Spike wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not. The puppy-boy wouldn't let two humans' pound on him and that was good, but he probably wouldn't care one way or the other if Spike got his money. Plus, there was a good chance that Harris would jeer at him over the whole situation.
Biting back an internal sigh, Spike greeted the human.
"Fancy meeting you here, ducks. You up for a game?"
Spike gestured to the pool cue in his hand and arched up one eyebrow in a silent question. Harris just grinned at him, but it wasn't one of the normal grins he was used to seeing on the boy's face. It seemed crueler, almost darker somehow. Spike's own grin shifted into a smirk. Interesting.
"Sure Spike. Wouldn't mind a game, but not for money."
Spike chuckled, a deep rumbling sound that vibrated his chest.
"Of course, pet. Whatever you say."
The two humans tried to warn off Harris. Sneering, the one closest to the boy thumped him on the arm with one hand and pointed at the vampire.
"You shouldn't play a game with this guy. He's a hustler and he'll cheat you outta your money, man."
Harris glanced down at where the man had touched him and an odd un-Xander-like expression flickered across his face briefly. Then he turned to face the college wanker and smirked at him in dark amusement.
"Duh! Why did you think I just made him agree that we weren't playing for money? Only an idiot would play Spike for money. He never loses."
Spike couldn't help but puff up at the unexpected compliment even as he chuckled at the flush of embarrassment that washed over the other boy's face. Then, to Spike's further amusement, he watched as understanding settled over Harris' features and lit up his eyes with a dark sparkle.
"Let me guess. Spike hustled you and now you owe him a wad of cash, but you don't wanna pay up? Right?"
The kid looked embarrassed, but he didn't answer. He just switched his glare from Spike to Xander. Ignoring the college brat, Harris turned to face Spike.
"Hey Spike. That true? This guy owe you some winnings?"
Not sure where this was going, but interested in finding out, Spike nodded his head slowly.
"Yeah, pet. He does. Fifty bucks at last count."
Harris nodded his head and appeared to be lost in thought. Then, in a blur of motion and violence, the young man he often thought of as "puppy-boy" lashed out with his fist and slammed it into the college wanker's face. While the boy was still reeling from the sudden unexpected blow, Harris grabbed him by the back of the head, his fist tangling in unruly blonde curls, and yanked the boy's head and upper body downwards, bashing his forehead on a corner of the pool table. Not letting go of his hand-hold on that boy, Harris pivoted on his one foot and lashed out behind himself with the other, kicking the second college boy in the gut. The kicked guy bent over double as all the wind whooshed out of him. Not pausing for a second, Harris twisted back around and rammed his knee upwards into that boy's face. A loud cry and a sharp crack proclaimed louder than words that the boy's nose was broken. Then Xander turned back to the first boy, his fist still curled into his hair. In a blur, his other hand balled up into a fist and he slugged the boy on the side of his temple. The college brat's eyes rolled up into his skull and he crashed heavily to the floor.
Spike was stunned. Surprised. Confused. And utterly delighted.
Harris just laughed long and loud, but it wasn't his normal laugh. This time it had an odd "whooping" sound to it. It was almost...animalistic in nature. Truthfully, it gave Spike the shivers, but in a good way.
Then Harris began tilting his head from side to side and shrugging his shoulders hard to force his muscles to loosen back out again. With a quick gesture for Spike to come over, Xander knelt down beside the first college boy and began rifling through his pockets. Spike blinked stupidly for a brief moment, but then with a jerk to knock the confused fog out of his head, he stepped over and knelt down next to the boy with the broken nose and began to empty his pockets as well. All told, Spike got his fifty dollars and Harris pocketed the remaining twenty-five. Spike smirked at him and nodded to the wadded up cash.
"Didn't know you had a thing for larceny, pet? Wanna tell old Spike about it?"
Harris grinned at him. It was full of humor, but none of the softness and compassion that he associated with the Slayer's White Knight.
"Spoils of war?"
Spike chuckled, but he kept his eyes riveted on the boy. He was acting way out of character, and while Spike liked this new side to Harris, he didn't understand it. The boy watched Spike study him carefully and then he growled.
"What? I'm not the bad guy here, Spike. It's not like I'm stealing their health insurance cards and canceling their policies! When they wake up, they'll go to the hospital and everything'll be all right. I mean, they shouldn't have been trying to welch on a bet. Now they know better, so they should just learn to look on the bright side of things. It's been an educational night for them. You taught 'em what a real pool player does and I taught 'em what happens to people who break oath."
Slowly, Spike nodded. He didn't buy it for a minute. Not that the boy wasn't a good street fighter, but he wasn't the type to start slugging humans without a good reason nor without trying to talk everyone out of the violence in the first place. He was about to comment on that when something that Harris had said stood out in his mind.
"Cancel their health insurance, huh? That'd be an evil thing to do, especially with 'em being all hurt. Right?"
Harris nodded and smirked.
"Yeah. It would be evil. Why?"
Spike smirked right back at the boy.
"You still got your cell phone, luv?"
Laughing with that oddly animal sound again, Harris didn't answer, he just reached into a jacket pocket and pulled out the small black and silver phone and handed it over to the vampire with one hand while he pulled a health insurance card out of the one boy's wallet with the other. Spike was busy dialing and then he spoke into the phone.
"Hello, pet? Yeah, I'd like to cancel my policy. I got me a better plan somewhere else, didn't I?"
Harris chuckled and handed him the card.
"What? Oh sure, luv. My name is Charles Sullivan. That's S-U-L-L-I-V-A-N and the policy number is...."
Giles frowned at the girls. He took off his glasses and began to polish them even as he tried to ignore the pounding inside of his head, but it was no good. He realized that they were upset, but their voices were high-pitched, practically screeching and that just acerbated his migraine. The stress of the situation merely ensured that no medicine would help reduce the pain.
"Please. Please. Please! All of you! Just...just be quiet for a moment."
Blessed silence descended as all eyes swung towards him. He replaced his glasses and looked out at a sea of beseeching eyes and desperate faces. He sighed.
"I still have a copy of the spell originally used to contain the Hyena Spirit within Xander. I double-checked to make certain, and before you ask, yes I do have all the necessary ingredients and spell components here at the shop. I merely need Xander to be present in order to perform it correctly. Unlike the Soul Restoration Spell, he needs to be touched by certain items, so he must be here for the spell."
Buffy took a breath to speak, but before she could utter a word, Willow cut her off with a hard voice filled with accusation.
"Why? Why didn't you tell us last time that the Hyena Spirit couldn't be banished; only contained? We should have been told!"
Giles gave her an arch look that spoke volumes.
"Because it was none of your business. It was Xander's and he didn't want you to know. He was horrified and embarrassed by what he had done under the Hyena's control and none of you were very sympathetic to his feelings about what had happened. He feared what your reaction would have been if you had known that the Hyena was still inside of him."
Willow looked as if she'd been slapped.
"What? That's ridiculous. I would never have done anything to hurt Xander!"
Giles' expression was one of doubt.
"Nevertheless, Xander was just as much a victim as anyone else. Perhaps even more so. The Hyena only effected your lives for a very short time. However, this is something that Xander will have to deal with for the rest of his life, whether he is in control of his body or whether it is in control. This will never end for him, and I had to respect his wishes to keep it a secret."
Willow shook her head and looked as if she was preparing to argue further, but this time Buffy cut in.
"Look. That's something we can talk with Xander about after he's better. Right now, I say we find him and bring him back here to the shop. Giles can do his spell thingy again and then you can grill Xander all you want about his need for privacy and why you don't believe he should be allowed to have any."
Once again, Willow looked as if she had been slapped. Not only that, she looked shocked.
"Buffy! How can you say that? That's not what I meant. I mean, he can have privacy, but this is us here. Not some strangers."
Buffy shrugged, seemingly unconcerned.
"Whatever. I'm gonna go see if I can find him."
And with that, Buffy swirled around and quickly left the Magic Shop.
Spike frowned as he watched the Slayer leave Harris' apartment with a worried and annoyed look etched onto her normally soft features. She was obviously looking for her friend, but when the boy asked Spike to sneak into his apartment and pack up all of his things he had warned Spike from letting any of the cartoon-gang know what was going on.
Personally, he thought the boy had lost it and gone the way of Dru. He just kept nattering on about how if he ran into one of them, that they would drag him to the Watcher and then he would end up "caged" again. Spike had wracked his brains trying to recall anyone ever mentioning locking the boy up in a cage, but he couldn't. Still, he didn't mind crazy. He was used to it. Besides, this version of the Slayer's lap dog was much more entertaining...
He had been surprised and amused when Xander actually mugged someone after they had left the Bronze for a "safe place to hide" where the Slayer wouldn't find the boy. Spike had enjoyed watching as Harris had pretended to bum a cigarette off of the man and then ask for the time right before he punched the man in the face, knocking him to the ground.
He had been about to demand that Harris hand over at least half of the cash when the boy had turned and asked him for his knife. Shrugging his shoulders, Spike had pulled his long razor sharp knife out of its concealment in his left boot. He hadn't been sure what the boy was going to do with it, he had assumed that Harris was just going to scare the man. Instead, Harris had looked at it long and hard and then had quickly and ruthlessly stabbed it into the man's throat. Spike had gasped in shock.
Then Xander had slid over slightly and waved Spike down to the ground next to him.
His jaw working like a fish for a moment, Spike had finally lunged down and wrapped his lips around the jagged cut. He couldn't help but moan in extreme pleasure as hot living human blood pumped helplessly into his mouth and down his throat. When the man was close to being drained dry, Spike dropped the quickly dying man onto the ground, his mind swirling and his veins thrumming from the sudden influx of such a wonderful meal.
Then Harris shocked him once again. Spike watched as he ripped open the man's shirt and then used the knife to slice deep into his chest. With one hand, Xander peeled back skin and several layers of muscle. Then, he used the knife to cut away the heart. Reaching in, the boy grabbed it with his hand and gave one sharp tug. With a wet tearing sound, it pulled free.
Bright red blood dripped down the boy's red stained hand and forearm as the heart sitting on his palm gave one last shudder. Spike drooled. Grinning, Xander lifted it up and swung his arm around and over Spike. Not even thinking about who was doing this for him anymore, Spike simply tilted his head back and opened his mouth. Harris squeezed on the organ tightly and blood gushed out, dripping down through the air and onto Spike's waiting lips and tongue. He moaned again.
When the hot coppery wetness stopped dripping into his mouth, Spike tilted his head back upright and looked over the corpse in time to see Harris put the still warm heart in his mouth and bite down, tearing off a chunk. Then it was the boy's turn to moan in pleasure as his eyes glowed a bright green.
Afterwards, Harris hadn't explained what was going on or why he was suddenly eating humans. All he would say was that he had to get out of town. Get away from the Slayer and her Watcher so that they couldn't "cage" him again. He had made Spike promise to pack up a bag or two for him so that he could escape. Harris had even gone so far as to offer to take Spike with him, to keep him in warm fresh human blood in exchange for keeping the stronger demons off of him while he "gathered the pack".
Whatever. Spike wasn't sure what all that meant, but as soon as they were both someplace safe, he was going to make the boy explain in full detail. He didn't want to pass up the opportunity to have the boy hunting and killing humans for him, even if the boy insisted on eating various organs after Spike was done drinking up the blood. He just wanted to know why. What had happened to make the Slayer's White Knight turn evil?
And so, he quietly slipped into the darkened apartment and hurriedly began to pack up as many things as he could lay his hands on. Clothing, toiletries, CD's, food and the boy's tools all were shoved quickly into the huge Navy issue sea bag that Spike had killed for several decades ago. Then just as quietly, he slipped back out and into the night with no one the wiser.
Buffy banged open the door to the Magic Box and noted that her Watcher had looked excited and expectant until he noticed that she was alone. Then disappointment and worry slid into place over his tired features. Giles stepped closer, removed his glasses and then used them to gesture to the street behind her.
"You couldn't find any sign of him, I take it?"
Buffy shook her head and grimaced.
"A sign? Yes. Xander himself? No."
Giles frowned at her and slid his glasses back on.
"What do you mean? What sign?"
Buffy blew out a huff of breath and gathered her thoughts.
"I found a victim. His...uh, his heart had been removed and his throat was cut. I thought it might have...might have been Xander since it looked like that chest and neck had been cut, not bitten, torn or clawed. I thought that maybe the Hyena was...you know, feeding."
Giles sighed and he turned a tad pale.
"Feeding and growing stronger, no doubt. That's why the heart, and not a different organ."
Buffy grimaced and wrinkled up her nose in disgust. She almost seemed to shudder at the thought, but then she shook it off. Turning her face up to look at Giles, she flashed him a shrewd expression that held a calculating gleam in her eyes.
"What would the Hyena do? Where would it go? I mean, the last time it was free, it was looking for a mate and it wanted me. Would it do that again? Or would it have a different priority?"
Giles grew still as he considered her questions.
"Well, as for looking for a mate. I'm not sure if that is what the Hyena would do first, although if it is, he might not focus on you this time. Last time, you were the strongest female around and you defeated him. He probably won't want to have that happen again since the Hyena would know that you would just bring him into the shop and have the spell placed on him again. It was simple last time since the Hyena was working with Xander's fifteen-year-old mind. This time, Xander is older and has gained a lot more knowledge. He won't be easy to trick."
Buffy frowned as she considered this.
"It makes sense, in a way. I can see how Xander's knowledge would influence any decisions that the Hyena would make. And if I'm too strong, a threat even, than who would he choose? Who would Xander consider the second strongest female?"
Giles shrugged slightly and looked extremely uncomfortable and a touch embarrassed.
"If Xander chooses? I'm not certain. I would place Willow as the next strongest female because of her magic, but she would be able to cast the spell as easily as myself. Cordelia, possibly, but Xander might assume that we would warn her. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. If the Hyena chooses a mate this time, it'll be even harder to narrow down since as the Alpha of the Pack, Xander's demon is a female, so it's possible that it would choose a male as a mate."
Buffy raised up one eyebrow in shock, but didn't argue with Giles about it. It sounded complicated, but she trusted her Watcher.
"So...a strong and dominating female if Xander chooses, or a strong but submissive male if the Hyena chooses."
Giles nodded his head.
"Yes, yes. Exactly."
"Well, the only men that Xander really knows are the guys at the construction site, and I can't see any of them agreeing to be his mate. None of them would be willing to submit to that, and even those few that would, probably wouldn't be strong enough to satisfy a demon."
"This is true."
Buffy looked thoughtfully at the ceiling.
"So...Xander's probably hunting in the clubs and bars. Looking for some woman. Someone that he can claim as a mate?"
Giles sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"Yes. That would fit the pattern of the last time the Hyena was free. Of course, it's possible that he has already selected a mate. After that, I'm not certain what he would do. Last time he had the other students that were possessed as a Pack, but I'm not even certain where they all are anymore."
"Me either. I lost touch with them after graduation. You don't think that Xander kept in touch with them, do you? I mean, he never mentioned it to me."
Giles shook his head.
"I don't know. He never mentioned it to me either. None of them were interested in discussing what happened after the spell had caged the beasts within them."
Buffy nodded. Then, she shrugged her shoulders and turned around to head back out the door. She called out over her shoulder.
"I'm gonna go hit the Bronze and a few bars. Maybe I can find him scoping out a date."
"Yes. Indeed, do that. I'll just make a few phone calls. See if I can track down the other students that were effected last time."
The bell over the door rang out as Buffy left and Giles turned toward his office, a frown on his face.
"Why do I feel as if we're missing something? Something simple that we're just overlooking...."
But no one was around to answer him.
~Two and a half weeks later~
A growling purr echoed in his ear sending gentle vibrations through his body and warm puffs of air along his naked skin. Unconsciously returning the purr of his mate for one of his own, Spike snuggled up tighter to the furnace hot body that lay draped over him. Without even thinking about it, one of his hands automatically reached up and began to rub soothingly along the back of Harris' neck and down his spine. The boy arched into his touch and purred louder. Spike drifted closer to being awake and smiled without opening his eyes. His boy loved to be petted.
Long moments later, Xander awoke and stretched his long muscular body. Seconds later, Spike found his mouth caught in a greedy and possessive kiss. He bit the full bottom lip of his mate and then lapped up the few drops of blood with sigh of pleasure. Then Harris leaned up and back, grinned a cruel and vicious grin full of darkness and evil. His deep brown eyes flashed green for a second. Spike smirked back. He adored it when the Hyena was close to the surface. It made his boy mean, violent and lots of fun to be around.
"Come on Spike. Time to get up. We have an appointment to keep tonight."
Without another word, Harris rolled off of the vampire and jumped out of the hotel bed they had been sleeping in. Grumbling the entire way, Spike climbed out as well and began to dress.
He wasn't really upset about getting up and heading out. In fact, he was looking forward to their adventure tonight. It was the first step in his boy's plans and Spike was more than willing to help him do it. He had been willing since this party began way back in Sunnyhell.
As soon as Spike had returned to the boy's hiding spot with all of his things, they had stolen a car and driven off into the night. They had then slaughtered their way across the country to the east coast. Right at first, Harris had done all of the killing because Spike had still had his chip. After the third day, Spike had woken up to find himself strapped down to the metal frame of a stripped down box-spring mattress with all of its fluffy stuffing removed. He was also hooked up to a long row of car batteries that were in turn hooked up to a car. His pet had been behind the wheel with an evil smirk on his handsome face. Spike had only had time to yell out a quick question about what was going on when Harris had turned the key in the ignition. That act had poured juice into the batteries and in turn, into Spike's head. Harris had come damn close to frying Spike's brain, but in the end, it was the chip that had gone the way of the Dodo. His boy had given him his bite back and then together they hunted and killed humans. Spike drank their blood and Xander ate their flesh.
Sometime along the way, Harris had explained the entire story about the Hyena Spirit and how it had possessed him when he had been fifteen years old. He told of how the Watcher had found a way to cage the demonic animal spirit inside of his head and give Xander back control of his body. Now, the Hyena was back in charge once again. He also learned that, unlike vampires, the Hyena doesn't evict the soul, but merges with it. And their magic induced separation had been painful to both of them, but the boy couldn't handle the guilt of what he had become without the demon being free. Now that the Hyena was free, Harris was free of his guilt, as well.
It was a wild and crazy story and Spike was certain that something like that could have only happened on the Hellmouth. He wasn't complaining, however, because Spike was having the time of his unlife. Harris' demon had taken a shine to Spike and to be honest, Spike really liked this new and improved Xander too. They hunted together, they killed together and the sex was out of this world. Harris had turned out to be quite the bottom boy slut and Spike was all for that.
Now, they were going to add to that. Make it more. Make the Hyena happy.
Spike pulled out of his thoughts in time to see that they had arrived at a run-down apartment building about three blocks away from Temple University. The neighborhood was an interesting blend of intellectual stimulation and gangland territory. It was the perfect place for a demon-poet, but he didn't mention that random thought. Instead, he watched as his mate checked the number on a door with chipped green paint. Then, Harris knocked. A long minute later, the door opened and without waiting for an invite, his boy reached in and grasped a hold of the startled human.
"Hello Tor. Remember me?"