Author: jab21kill <joshua[at]grandt.com>

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns all that is Buffy, and the canon is intermident, and really not that important because eventually its all going to go out the window.

Summary: Xander's a god. This is the story of his Awakening, and how he learns to use his powers and deal with the destiny Fate dealt him.

Warning : Religious themes disputed ahead, but this is a work of fiction and is meant to be read as such. So don't go confusing it with what I actually believe and my sick, twist, insane imagination.

Rating : PG-17, for sexy stuff, no actual sex, a few choice phrases, and maybe a death scene later on, I'm not sure yet.

Timeline: Initially set during Season 1, before Hyena boy, but after Mantis Lady.

Oh, and because some people asked, the "original" dress that "Buffy" was wearing in Willow dream, before she took it off like a coat, was the same dress that she wore in the Season 1 finale.

Latest addition


"Myth.Legend. Religion. Stories of the ancient, the unbelievable, the fantastic. The unexplainable, and the only imagined. Things that are believed to be fiction, story, or just a trick of the eye supported by the superstitious. What would you say if they were real?"

"The ancient gods and pantheons, rulers of the world and all that inhabited it; angels and demons battling on Earth; floods, fires, and destruction of sinful cities; miracles abound where today there are few and far between, if any. They all stem from one source. All caused by one constant throughout all of time."

"They have walked beside man since the beginning.They fought the war against the Old Ones and the Old Gods, forcing the way for mortal animals. They have guided and tormented humanity for ages on end, and continue to do so even today. They are immortal, their power unimagined. Matched only by others of their kind, they hold the key to the future of Earth. One of their number will decide the fate of their race and humanity's, to survive, or perish under the return of the Old Ones. They are the gods."

Chapter 1

Alexander LaVelle Harris awoke in a cold sweat.He had had that dream again. The one with that weird voice from beyond talking about gods and their battle with the Old Ones and Old Gods. As the voice narrated, Xander actually saw the battles that it spoke of. He saw creatures of incredible beauty and power take on and sometimes even take down demons of equal or greater power, and bigger than the Empire State Building on top of the Sears Tower!

He just didn't understand what these dreams were about! What was worse, was there the only common theme in these dreams was the voice and what it said. The battles, the creatures, the demons, the actual dream was different each time. But the saying was the same.

Xander slowly sat up and looked around depressingly as he saw that it was barely even 4 AM. He and Willow were having a sleepover at Buffy's house. He drew the long straw, so he got lucky in getting the couch while the two girls had sleeping bags on the floor. Fortunate for him it was a fair drawing as Mrs. Summer was the one holding the straws.

Moving carefully, hoping not to wake the girls, Xander got up off the couch and made his way to the downstairs bathroom. Then he remembered that there was no downstairs bathroom. He sighed as he turned around from the kitchen and made his way up the stairs and down the hall, once accidentally walking into the spare bedroom/storage room, and finally found the bathroom.

Once standing in front of the mirror, he turned the light on, and was surprised when he didn't even have to squint in the sudden light. Instead of being all surprised, he just felt more confused, and a growing feeling of...it wasn't anticipation, or even dread. More...anxiety. Over what, his only clue was his dreams.

He turned on the sink and filled his hands, splashing his face several times with the ice-cold water. After several times of that, he blindly shut off the sink and rubbed his face vigorously, trying to rub the water further into his skin.Finally, he stopped himself and leaned on the sink, looking eye-to-eye with his reflection. It was the same scrawny boy that had been there the last time he had looked in a mirror, but he frowned as he noticed something different.Something had changed about him.It wasn't obvious, or he would already know. It was...

Xander blinked. It was his eyes. They weren't his eyes. Well, they were, but they...they were different. He couldn't even begin to tell how. Maybe...maybe it was the dreams. He was just tired, and after facing vampires, witches, and an older, absolutely drop dead gorgeous teacher who ends up actually being a giant Praying Mantis demon that just wants to lay its eggs in him and then eat him all because he's a virgin, can give any guy a different look in the eye.

He sighed, shaking his head and turned off the light and went back down to the couch. Not noticing that he could still see as well as he did in the bathroom, even though it was pitch black in the house.

Still, Xander couldn't shake the feeling that there was something different about his eyes. There was just...it was almost like the eyes that had been staring back at him through the mirror, with their solid, perfect whites, penetrating brown irises, and solid, bottomless black pupils...were literally the most perfect eyes ever. This was not pride or vanity here; we're talking inhumanly perfect. Like Borg perfect. 'Cept Borg perfect is probably a cybernetic eye...

Xander lay back down on the couch and let out a sigh of mixed frustration and anxiety. Maybe it was just that he had finally woken up to life on the Hellmouth...and almost getting killed a little over a week ago by the one gorgeous woman in his life that had actually been willing to mate with him... He shook his head, throwing out thoughts of demons and ...inadequacies. Closing his eyes, Xander strove to get back to sleep.

The absent state of consciousness came surprisingly easier than it had when he first fell asleep. It was almost like upon making the decision to go back to sleep was made, his body instantly complied. Unfortunately, with sleep, came the dream. The Dream.

Yet, instead of a battlefield, he found himself in a place of shrouding mists, strange, unseen ground, and a dark sky that seemed more infinite than the *actual* sky, filled with points of light that seemed just a bit too close and real to be stars.

Xander was confused. He looked around for a moment, taking in what lay before him, and then turned aroundand was faced with his dreams. The battlefields of monsters and demons. Given the option, Xander turned back around to the mists, and took a step forward.

For some strange reason, he felt like he had just taken a very important step, or done something incredibly important, though he had absolutely no idea what that was or could be. Curious, despite the fact that weird things happening often led to *bad* things happening, Xander took a few more steps until he noticed the mists were starting to lift just a little.

Wondering about this sudden turn of his dreams, Xander took a few more steps in the direction he had been going, when he stopped.He felt himself at some kind of barrier, though all he could see before him was more mist. He reached out his hand, just to see if he could see it in front of his face, when he felt the barrier give under the movement under his hand, and like a door opening, a division came between the mists and a completely different scene.

This one was not raging battles of ancient powers vs. ancient demons. This, if he had to hazard a guess, was Willows dream. Nothing seemed to be happening at the moment in thedream before him, but curiosity getting the better of him once again, Xander took a step forward, and like somebody had yelled ACTION! to where he couldnt hear it, the dream started playing itself out.

From what he saw, he was in the Bronze, but it was completely redone to look like a French restaurant. And the only table in the entire place was in the middle of what normally was the dance floor. The popular band Dingoes Ate My Baby were playing a mixture of soft romantic melodies on stage, but what *really* drew Xanders attention was who was sitting at the table.

Willow, looking more beautiful than he could ever recall her looking before, was in a royal red silk nightgown dress with diamond jewelry adorned on her, making her seem more than radiant.Her long red hair was styled simply, but it too made her look undeniably beautiful.

Sitting across from the surprisingly gorgeous vixen, was a debonair, handsome and as regal as she was beautifulXander Harris?!

Xander did a double take and looked again to confirm that Willows dream bachelor was indeed himself, in a James Bond tuxedo, slicked hair, and a confidence in his eyes, expression and body that even Xander himself envied. And this was himself he was envying!

Then Xander looked down at him as he was, and was surprised to see himself, his own body that is, not the dream-double, in his pajamas that he had worn to bed, consisting of gray sweatpants and a Sunnydale High Gym shirt that he had just grabbed in his rush to get to Buffys house.

Once he had gotten used to the scene, Xander started to pay some actual attention to what was going on in it.

Oh my Love, dream-Xander was saying in even a voice that Xander found himself jealous of, I have been a fool for all these long years. I wish to be punished for all the neglect and ignoring you that I have done ever since Kindergarten. I was stupid and deserve to be flogged for taking your beloved Barbie from you, and not instantly apologizing upon returning it to you my Love. But I cannot deny my feelings for a moment longer, I love you Willow, and I will gladly take any punishment that you can devise, but all I ask is that you let me be near you and love you for the rest of eternity. I beg of you, do not let my punishment be to be cast from your sight, for that would be the one thing that I could never bear. Please my Love, let me forever love you!

Xander could not think. Only stare.

Willow, the Willow in the Red Dress, laughed like Cruela Deville in 101 Dalmatians, and extended her hand, where dream-Xander immediately started lavishing kisses up, down, and all over her hand and forearm. As much as I would love to turn you into a cute puppy dog my gorgeous Xander, I love you too, and I forgive you. I could never be angry with you or blame you for your mistakes. After all, we are only teenagers, and were supposed to make stupid mistakes that well regret later on.

Xander just shook his head as he realized that even in a dream, Willow relied on the logic of the real world.

Besides, that position has already been filled, Willow said, again sounding very much like Cruela Deville. The Willow in the Red Dress then raised her not-being-lavishly-kissed hand and snapped her fingers.

Instantly, because it was a dream, another person appeared. It took Xander a full minute to get past what the person was wearing to see who it really was. When he finally did, his jaw dropped and he had to do another double take.It was Cordelia Chase in a French Maid outfit that Hustler would call scandalous and way too risqué The teen Queen C was wearing six-inch heel black pumps that looked about two sizes too small, and what made them unique were tiny silver locks on them that made it quite obvious that those pumps would not be coming off. Going up Cordelias suddenly long and unbelievably sexy legs, which were wrapped in real fishnet gartered stockings, which ended about two inches below the hem of the skirt, which actually didnt go down per say, but out like a ballerinas tutu rather than an actual skirt. Cordelias black g-stringed panties were as clear to see as anything. Above the waist, the actual outfit matched what all of Xanders fantasies, and apparently all of Willows too, imagined of Cordelia in a French Maid outfit, except that if the teenage male didnt know any better, hed say that the maid was actually several centimeters thinner than the real Cordelia. The answer was given to him as Willow spoke to the dream-Cordelia.

So, how does the new corset feel Cordy? Willow asked as though she were one of the Cordettes.

It feels wonderful Mistress Mine! Cordelia said enthusiastically while sounding humbled at the same time. Is there anything at all that I may be allowed, oh most esteemed Mistress Mine, that I might do in service of your magnificence?

Willow in the Red Dress seemed to ponder it for only a moment before giving the French Maid the dreaded Resolve Face and said with a stern tone that really did make her sound like a mistress, Offer yourself in supplication before my Xander and I, and then suck my toes bitch. And tell us how it feels to be the bitch that you always have been while you do it.

It feels wonderful Mistress Mine, dream-Cordelia said as she turned around and bent over before the dining couple, no doubt giving them a full moon. I have never felt so free, or right in my place in life as when I am serving you Mistress Mine. I am a no good, no deserving bitch that teases male dogs into a heat frenzy and then bend over and take it.I thank you Mistress Mine for taking me as yours.

Without stopping his kisses, dream-Xander raised his right hand and slapped, with a loud echoing crack, Cordelias exposed butt.The French Maid flinched slightly, but she also immediately sighed in pleasure and smiled. She then turned her butt to Willow in the Red Dress.The red haired woman just smiled at the sight before her and then raised the same hand she had used to summon the maid and slapped both ass cheeks twice, after each slap, Cordelia blushed and if Xander didnt know any better, which he didnt actually, the Queen C turned French Maid was actually getting a sex rush from Willows slaps.

After Willow in the Red Dress was done, the dream-Cordelia profusely thanked her Mistress Mine and then prostrated herself under the table and began to kiss, or maybe worship would be a better term for it, Willows feet. Willow in the Red Dress smiled contentedly and laughed again.

Xander didnt know what to make of it, but he did see one good thing about this so far. Cordelia had her back to him. Xanders head tilted to the side on instinct as he couldnt stop staring at his view of the French Maid.

Tell me again how much you love me my Xander, Willow told her dream-companion.

*That* brought the real Xander out of his funk and he shook himself, and before he could get drawn back, he moved so that he was behind the Willow in the Red Dress. It was an interesting experience, seeing oneself that was not on the other side of a mirror. Especially one that was cooler than you.

Oh, Buffy, how lovely to see you here! Willow suddenly exclaimed, withdrawing her hand from dream-Xander, only to have him suddenly be by her side. Dreams.

Xander looked up and blinked in more than just shock.Or lust, or fear. Buffy, also apparently a dream manifestation, was walking in, accompanied by the devilishly handsome friend called Angel. Yet the moment that dream-Buffy stepped into the actual light surrounding the table, the friend just seemed to fade into the background, leaving only Buffy.

She too was dressed not exactly of the norm for her, but not to the extremes of himself, Willow, and certainly not Cordelia.She wore a flowing white silk dress with a deep square neckline, that more than just emphasized her bust. She lookedradiant.

Heya Wills. Hi Xan. Hows it going? dream-Buffy asked the same way the real Buffy would.

Xander told me he loves me, Willow practically beamed.

Well its about time! Buffy congratulated her best friend.

Dream-Xander looked up from his necking with Willow, Xander did a quick check and sighed in relief when he saw no bite marks, only saliva, and the tuxedo-clad image smiled half-heartedly at the beautiful vision that was the dream image of Buffy Summers and said with not even a tenth of the conviction Xander would use saying the same thing, Hi Buff. Wanna sit? Get the puppy to suck your toes? Then he went back to pleasuring Willow.

Oh Xander, Willow in a Red Dress admonished her dream companion, be nice. Buffy is our friend. Our very beautiful friend. Xander noticed a familiar tinge of color entering Willows cheeks.

Thanks Wills, but its ok, dream-Buffy said casually, and just as casually, as though she were taking off a coat, she took off the dress, only to reveal, in anything, a far more beautiful and skimpier one.

The neckline was now a V and went nearly to the middle of her torso, just covering her breasts, and the skirt was again just past her waist. And the entire dress now seemed kind of lacy and transparent almost. And black.

In both Willow in the Red Dress and the real Xanders chests, their breaths caught at the sight. Xander was too preoccupied with his own reactions to note Willows were identical, but fortunately it was Willow who actually spoke.

Uhuhwow. I-I-I meanwow. You look absolutely amazing Buffy. I-I-I she couldnt say another word as dream-Buffy took the seat across from Willow in the Red Dress that dream-Xander had a couple minutes earlier.

Suddenly Xander realized the change. From a date between him, or rather a dream version of him, and the ideal Willow, it had shifted to a date between Willow and an ideal Buffy, with Willow being pleasured by himself and a humbled, and sexified, Cordelia. He had to get out of here.

Will, you have got to deal with these issues, Xander said as he walked towards the exit of the Bronze, and just like that, he was back in the mists.


Whoa, Xander said as he realized the change.He looked around, and realized that he had just invaded his friends, his *best* friends dream, accident or not.Ive got to find the way out of here, he said to himself and picked a direction away from where he now knew Willows dreams to be. Unfortunately he was not going back towards his own.

As before, Xander suddenly noticed that the mists seemed to be lessening, until all of a sudden he felt a barrier in front of him. Thinking that somehow the door to his own dreams had been closed, he tried what he had done before to enter Willows dream, by raising his hand. That did not work as all he felt was his hand bumping into the barrier.

Frowning, and briefly wondering if he was about to invade another friends dream, Xander took a deep breath and raised his hand before his face, surprised to see it as though he were in a fully lit room, not a fog-filled strange place. Then, putting his hand, palm first, against the barrier, he felt something like an energy pass through the barrier, as though something were being let down at his presence, and his alone.

Then, as before, like a door opening, the scene changed before him. It both was and was not the one he was hoping for.

It was a battle of good versus evil. It was a battle of creatures of light versus demons. But at the center of it was Buffy, frozen as the entire scene was, beaten, bloody, still beautiful, and her neck at the tip of the fangs of a bald white demon with red eyes, that kind of had a vampire face, but kinda didnt at the same time.

The teenager didnt hesitate. The moment he saw Buffy in danger, he reacted. He did not step into the scene, he ran into it, straight for Buffy.As before, the moment that he stepped into the scene, the dream started up again, and the Master vampire began to lean in for the kill, his strength too great for the struggling Slayer.

NO! Xander shouted, his voice distorted through echo and the power of his shout as he raced forward.

Xander felt that he would be too late, but in the very next moment, something stranger than his dream so far happened. Hefelt something. Some kind of, energy or power, well up inside of him. It actually felt like that time that he had first learned about vampires and that they had taken Jesse. Something from deep within him that was hot, violent, and felt like he had just plugged himself into a nuclear power plant, that when it sprang upward and out of him, things got weird.

In a flash of an instant, in the time it took for the Master to lower his fangs half a centimeter closer to Buffys neck, Xander crossed the battlefield, which was actually a huge cavern or something, from where he entered the dream to right by Buffys side. He didnt stop there. He threw his left fist forward and hit the white demon in the chest, right where the heart would be if it were a vampire. And rather than do nothing as though a gnat had tried to ram into him, like everyone expected to happen, the Master was knocked free of his grip on the dreaming Slayer and flew backward until he landed directly on a distant cross, a splinter from the wooden symbol piercing through to the very place Xander had hit.

And with nothing more than a look of shock on its face, the Master vanished into dust.

There was a long silence after that on the battlefield, most of it in looking at the dream walker in shock, Xander himself included in that position. It was finally broken when Xander turned and looked down at the fallen, after having been let go from the Masters grip, Buffy and reached out his hand and asked, Are you OK?

Like a wave of fire had suddenly swept through, every other creature that was not Buffy or Xander was blown away like dust in the wind, leaving only the dreamer and the dream walker in the cavern.

Too surprised not to, Buffy took Xanders hand and he lifted her up. She finally found her voice and answered, Uh, yeah, Iguess Im OK. Xander, what? How? What is going on here? she demanded.

Xander looked helplessly at her. Ive got no clue Buff. This, Im assuming is all a dream, because it started out asuh, as mine.Ive been having some weird nightmares lately and Xander stopped talking and his hand shot over his mouth.He hadnt meant to, heck he hadnt wanted to say anything about his own dreams at all.

Buffy was looking at him weirdly though, so he uncovered his mouth. Unfortunately, as soon as he did, he started talking again. And then I found myself in this weird fog place where I think I somehow stumbled into Willows dream, and I just left hers and then I found myself here and now I think Im in your dream. He almost slapped his hand back over his mouth, but thankfully he stopped talking after that.

Sothis is a dream? Buffy asked, as though she werent sure. Then she looked around, and then over where the Master had finally been vanquished.

Xander watched the emotions play across the Slayers face. If only it hadnt been, she muttered quietly. Xander looked where she was staring and nodding, understanding what she meant.

Glad I showed up when I did, Xander offered.Buffy just nodded. Then she started looking around. Uh, any clue on the way outta here? she asked.

Xander shrugged. Its a dream Buff. I saw Willow command things in hers, makes sense that you could do the same in yours.

Yeah, except when theyre prophetic dreams.Like this one. Well, almost, she corrected him. Then she started walking, and just like the scene opening before him through the mists had, it changed to a bright sunny day in the park.Xander was still in his pajamas, and he noticed that Buffy was still in the clothes she had been in down in the cavern, which was what he liked to dub her Slayer outfit, consisting of tight jeans, a tank top, and a light jacket.

Didnt imagine you as the walk in the park type Buffy, Xander said as he started walking beside his friend in her dream.

Depends on the time of day, she replied stoically.Vamps sometimes hunt in the parks.So I take strolls in the park.At night though. ButI dont want to hunt right now. I want to feel safe.

Thus the sunlight. Good plan, Xander agreed.

Whatwhat would have happened if you hadnt comeby?I mean, would he have really? Buffy asked, a note of desperation in her voice.

I dont honestly know Buffy, Xander answered honestly, a problem he seemed to be having in the dream. But dont think about that. I came. Thats enough. If you ever need my help, I promise that I will always try and be there for you Buffy.

Too bad this is a dream, or you really could come in and save me like that, huh? Buffy teased him with a grateful smile.He just smiled back at her.

Sleep well Buffy. If you have any more nightmaresIll come back to help you beatem, Xander swore, and then he stepped back, out of the scene, and watched it close before him.

He took a deep breath and let out a long sigh.The relief didnt last long as all of a sudden an arm shot out of the mist, grabbed him by his shirt, and literally dragged him back into Buffys dream.

Shut up! Buffy commanded. They were still in the park, still sunny. Shut up and let me at least give you one happy dream.But if you tell Willow about this, or even think about a repeat, think again Mister Harris!

Before Xander could even think of any kind of response, Buffy grabbed him by the head and brought him down to her lips for a very hot and heavy and extremely passionate kiss.There was no tongue, no groping, just lips, and the emotion of it. A bush in the background suddenly exploded into bright red flames. Another one, behind Buffy, burst into bright yellow ones.

Finally, after a dreamtime of eternity, Buffy let Xander go and after a couple more seconds of their lips staying together, they both, as one, stepped back from the kiss. Xanders breathing was very irregular, and Buffy was somewhat flushed, but everything was behaving naturally otherwise.

Now, Buffy said, putting her hands on Xanders shoulders, the front of his shoulders, you go and have nice dreams Xander. And get out of mine.Sweet dreams.

Maam yes maam! Xander mock saluted, then he smiled gently and said back in the same way she had said it to him, Sweet dreams Buffy. Hope theyre about

Out! Buffy demanded, despite the growing smile on her face, Xander knew she was serious.

Going, he said as he stepped back and once again entered the strange mist place. He smiled fondly as the scene closed itself before him, and that energy ran through it again, this time closing the door he was sure.

Sighing, Xander turned around and took about six steps before stopping and realizing, despite the lasting euphoria of his first kiss with Buffy, even if it was only inher dreams!that he was now totally and completely lost.

Ok, sowhich way to my dreams? he asked aloud into the mists. No answer.

Perfect. Just perfect. Im lost in the land of dreams, without a map, or even a crappy little compass! Xander raged.

Thats actually not too bad a name for it, but its not what this place is called, a voice that he did not recognize said behind him.


Entering fight/flight was becoming second nature for Xander now that he was getting used to living atop the Hellmouth. Even in a dream, it was still quite easy. The dreaming teen spun around, ready to either run back into Buffys dream, or just run perioduntil he saw who it was that had spoken.

She was shorter than him, but just a couple inches taller than Buffy. She was wearing a strange combination of outfits. She was wearing a leather jacket that looked like it came straight from the seediest biker bar in the country, knee-high leather boots that looked as though from some professional ball players locker, except brown leather instead of white plastic, a pleated black skirt that made Xander think it was from some kind of school uniform, a shirt under the jacket that was black and either made of latex or of the same stuff superhero uniforms were made of.And then there was the half-armor she wore over all of it, sort of a breastplate with a single large shoulder pad and then a weapons belt.

But her outfit was not what made Xander stop from running. She had shock and royal sea blue hair, in both her main head of hair and her eyebrows and eyelashes, vivid sea green eyes that seemed so sad and so alive at the same time, and a soft pale beige complexion, very similar to his own.Her hair was styled straight out of a cartoon, with a ponytail coming from the nape of her neck to past her waist, and the rest cut military style, except not short. In fact her hair was almost half a foot high.

What made him stop was the look in her eyes.Her perfect eyes. It was the same look he had seen in the mirror before hed gone to sleep.

Who are you? he asked, the first to speak since she had.

My name is Kes. And I am like you she trailed off, apparently waiting for his name.

Stuttering in his thoughts to keep up with what was happening, Xander tried desperately to remember his own name. Finally, in a flash of glorious insight, he remembered and told her.

Uhmy-my name, itsI have one. I know I doXander! Thats it. My name is Xander H

No! Kes interrupted. No last names. Its best if we dont know how to track each other. A pleasure to meet you Xander. Im sure you are no doubt confused as to what is happening. Is this the first time that you have?

Taken a stroll in my friends dreams?Yep. I take it youre awhatzit called, Dream Walker too? Xander asked.

Kes blinked in surprise. Then she seemed to come to some understanding. You have just awakened. It is unusual for a power manifestation to happen so soon after an awakening, but not unheard of. This is going to take some explaining. She said the last part more to herself it seemed.

Xander, please, I need you to wait here while I go and getanother one of us. Someone who is more experienced in explaining what is going on. Please, will you wait? Kes asked.

Xander couldnt say no to those eyes of hers.Sure. Not like I exactly have anywhere else to go. And I cant seem to find the way back to my own dreams.

Kes smiled at his remark and a final time said, Just wait right here, and then she turned and disappeared into the mists.

Xander briefly thought of following her, but quickly dismissed the idea. Fortunately he didnt have long to wait as she and the person she had gone to get were back in under a minute, from his clock anyway. Once again, all Xander could do was stare.

The person Kes had brought was a man, or maybe a giant?, with wavy yellow-blonde hair and in a similar getup that she herself was wearing. At least as far as the jacket and the armor. The man was wearing well-fitted, and well-worn denims with steel-tipped cowboy boots, and a plaid work shirt underneath the jacket and armor. He was also over six feet, nearing seven, tall.

The giant of a man took one look at Xander and smirked condescendingly. Nice jamies kid. Now whats this that you dragged me all the way out here for Kes? I dont exactly like being interrupted from my dreams to go to just another part of the Inbetween. The man said to the blue haired woman/girl. His voice was deep, but surprisingly gentle, despite the words said against him, Xander found himself instantly liking the man.

This is the reason Ron, Kes said waving her arms at Xander. This is Xander. And hes just awakened. Tonight!

Ron looked at Kes in what Xander had to guess was a mix of disbelief and awe, before finally looking back and staring hard at Xander. Xander just stood his ground, not really committing anything, nor backing down, despite that he would have if he were faced with such a behemoth in the real world.

Impossible! Ron finally exclaimed. He must have awakened a short time ago. Maybe even last night, or sometime yesterday, but, no way could he have awakened tonight and already be manifesting powers.

You know, Xander suddenly interrupted, upset at being spoken about but not to like a person, that is the second time that me getting powers has been mentioned. And what is this awakening? Are you talking about this dream Im havingor am I in somebody elses dream again?Im not in either one of your dreams am I? If I am I apologize, I mean I dont have a clue whats going on

He really is new, isnt he? Ron asked Kes, the look of disbelief replaced with a look of bewilderment, as though he couldnt believe that Xander was actually as stupid as he was.

Suddenly, Xander got a flash of insight as the man stared at him, with perfect blue eyes, again. Wait just a sec here. Thisawakening? It got anything to do with my eyes changing just before I went to sleep? Cause I swear that when I looked in the mirror at them, something was really, really weird about them. And now Im seeing both of you with damn near the same thing going on with yours.

At that both Ron and Kes stared in total awe at him. Youwitnessed your awakening?Thethe changing of your eyes from mortal to, well, perfect? Kes asked in a rush.

Xander could only nod. Whats going on here? Does me ending up in my friends dreams have to do with my eyes changing right before I went back to sleepor the dreams that Ive been having for the past few nights?

What dreams? Ron asked, sounding concerned.

Really weird ones. Battles, wars, hell, I mean literally Hell, and a whole bunch of stuff with this over voice, which is what makes it the same dream because everything else is different each time, saying something about some race of immortals with cosmic powers that fought the Old Ones and the Old Gods in order to make way for man. Not exactly, but you get the gist.

He stopped when he saw the two of them staring, actually gaping would be more accurate, at him. What? he asked, worried now.

Hes seen the Beginning, Ron whispered to Kes, who only nodded numbly.

Xander, she began, those dreamsvery few of us have had them, but we all know what they are about. It isextremely rare for one of us to not only have such dreams, but to manifest powers upon our awakening, if what you say is correct. Is there any chance that you just never noticed your eyes change beforenow?

Xander shrugged and then decidedly shook his head.Naw. Sides, I checked myself out in the mirror before me and my friends went to bed, and why the hell am I stuck in Truth mode right now?! he finished, yelling.

Kes and Ron chuckled slightly, but they quickly composed themselves. Ron answered Xanders question. It has to do, mostly, with the human psyche. The subconscious cant lie. At least not to itself. Whenever you are dreaming, or even in someone elses dream, neither you nor the person dreaming can lie. Not even here in the Inbetween.

The what?! Xander asked.

The Inbetween, Ron continued, is this place.It iswell, in-between the conscious Space/Time reality, and the unconscious Ether reality. It is how we gods communicate with one another, and how a few of us travel even.

Xander blinked and then double-checked what hed just thought hed heard. Then he blinked again and giving the two a look similar to Goofys face, he said, OK, youve just lost me.

Ron took a deep sigh, as did Kes, though judging from their postures, both for different reasons. Ron, because he had apparently given this explanation before, and Kes seemed nervous about how Xander was going to react. And Xander had no idea how he knew that.

Basically, this place is between the real world, and every persons dream world. Ron said finally. Then he took another breath. And we, Kes and I, are gods. But not exactly what youre thinking Xander.

And just how do you know what Im thinking? Xander demanded, taking a couple steps back, briefly wondering if he could get back to Buffy before these two tried anything.

Because thats what everybody thinks when two people claim to be gods. But we arent, well we kind of are, but not entirelywe arent those kinds of gods. The ones that slept with every female in the world and then some, or started or betted on wars, or made promises that not even THE GOD could keep.WeXander, we are the race that your dreams have been telling you aboutand you are one of us. Ron said softly.

Xander blinked. He did that a lot as he tried to take it all in. He couldnt. Not right now anyway.

Im going back to the war, he said and started back for what he somehow instinctively knew was the way back to his own dreams.

Xander, wait, you dontwhat war? Kes asked, stumped by his answer.

Battles, demons, apocalypse stuff, remember? Im going back to *my* dreams! And Xander started to run.

Xander you cant Ron tried to halt him.

Xander spun on the two dream walkers, a dangerous look in his eyes. Do NOT tell me what I cant do pally! I dont know what the hell your game is but I do not have to stand here and listen to another word*! And before anything else could happen, Xander felt a sharp and sudden pulling sensation in the center of his gut drawing him backwards, and Ron and Kes were disappearing fast, as though he were moving away from them at an incredible speed.

To the other two dream walkers, Xander just disappeared in an explosion of light.

What happened? Kes asked, panicked.

Ron shrugged, frowning. He woke up. He said simply.

The Real world

Xander! Xander!Wake up! Willow was saying, gently shaking her dark haired friends shoulders.

Huh?! What! Xander started awake as soon as he felt the pulling sensation stop. He blinked and looked around confusedly for a couple of seconds before remembering that he was at Buffys house, for a sleepover.It was morning. Early morning.

Geez, what time is it? Xander asked, stifling a yawn.

Seven, Willow said cheerily before getting up and going to the kitchen to get some of the breakfast Mrs. Summers was making.

Xander stared after the bubbly redhead for a moment, vaguely remembering her dream that he had accidentally walked in on. Then he shook he head, still feeling very tired, and noticed Buffy in much the same mood and form that he was.

Did anyone tell her that its Saturday? he asked the tussled blonde. She just numbly shook her head to the negative before finally struggling to her feet from the floor and her sleeping bag.

Come on Xan, Buffy said dully, sounding and looking as tired as she really was, lets go make sure she doesnt get into the coffee.

Xander chuckled, and then decided that he really didnt want to go back to sleep anyway, no matter how tired he still was.Good idea. Wills has natural caffeine in her blood anyway. And I dont really feel like going back to sleep anyway. Weird dreams.

As soon as he said that, Buffy spun on him with a confusing look on her face that, when he noticed, forced him to ask, What?

Nothing, the Slayer said carefully. Its justI had some pretty weird dreams too. Must have been coincidence or something.

Yeah, Xander muttered after she left for the kitchen, recalling his time in the Slayers dream. Or something.


The next night

Typical Saturday. Right down to the vid-fest that the Slayerettes, (as Willow had dubbed them), had all afternoon, much to Mrs. Summers annoyance, and the snack scarfing. Even the going out an hour after sunset with Buffy, loaded up with crosses, holy water, and wooden stakes and looking for vampires. Of course once they found any, Xander and Willow pretty much hung back and let Buffy do all the work. All in all it was your typical Saturday.

Up until it was time to go to bed. Given that it was the weekend, Mrs. Summers had agreed that he and Willow could spend both Friday and Saturday nights with Buffy, but according to Buffys law, this time she got the couch. Xander didnt argue.

In fact he was trying everything short of electrocuting himself to stay awake for another hour longer. He remembered his dreams. Vividly. And on even the off chance that he would dream walk again, or meet those two claiming to be gods

Come on Xander, youve had enough caffeine for tonight, lets go to sleep, Willow said from her sleeping bag on the floor.Xander was sitting in a stiff chair borrowed from the dining room, drinking another coke. Five of the six-pack lay empty around his feet.

Nah, I think Ill stay up for a little bit longer.Make sure no vamps get invited inside, Xander said nervously, his legs jumping up and down.

Xan, as much as I like you as one of my best friends, you are starting to push this Slayers limit. Go. To.Sleep. Buffy said, trying to do the same on the large and comfortable couch.

Xander, too agitated to realize what he was saying, snapped quietly, Oh and Im sure youd just love to get back to that cavern and whatever other prophetic dreams you have so I can rescue you from them again.

What? Buffy snapped back, looking up with a wild look in her eye.

Too late, Xanders head snapped up as he realized what hed just said. Oh god, he thought in absolute horror. Thinking quick, he said the first thing that came to his mind. I have to go to the bathroom, and with that he disappeared up the stairs faster than Buffy herself could move. The two girls shared a concerned look before Willow reached and turned off the lights and they snuggled down to rest. Except one of them was not drifting as she usually did at night.

Upstairs in the bathroom, Xander was leaning over the sink, staring his reflection in the eyes again. He wasnt liking what he was seeing. The eyes, they had flawless, no veins, no redness, no shadow or grayness on them at all. The brown irises, he now realized as he looked at them, were uniform. Most people had irises that looked like craters on the moon, or something. His, had uniform, identical and evenly spaced lines in them, like the spokes of a wagon wheel. He couldnt really notice anything unique about the pupils, but he knew that they were different from everybody elses too.

Xander tried splashing his face several times, but every time he looked back in the mirror, he saw the same thing, the same perfection in his eyes. An inhuman perfection. They werent normal. Andif those two, Kes and Ron, were righthe wasnt normal.

Xander took a deep breath, leaning back against the wall and closed his eyes. Thats when he noticed that he hadnt turned the lights on in the bathroom when he came in.His eyes snapped open and he looked around. As far as he could tell not only were the lights on, but they were bright as well. Then he looked at the bulbs themselves. He felt pale as he saw that they were indeed, off.

Gulping, and moving slowly, as though it were about to bite him, Xanders hand reached for the light switch, and flipped it on.He was still staring straight at the lights when they came on, full force. But what bothered him was not that. It was that he felt no pain or need to squint when they did.

He looked around the room. It did seem a bit brighter, but more than that.Clearer. As though he were seeing everything from a thousand different pictures, and then taking the best qualities of each of those pictures to see.Everything was in such vivid focus, and so bright that he knew it was better than normal seeing. He just didnt know how he was doing it.

Then, as he looked back at the lights, after looking at everything around the small bathroom, he noticed that a white haze was beginning to form at the edges of his enhanced vision, and thats when he noticed the pain. Ahh! he cried as the pain became too much and the white haze now completely filled his vision.

He reached blindly, through his pain, for the light switch and turned it off. Immediately the pain lessened and he tried opening his eyes. There was no more pain, but all he saw was darkness.Frowning, Xander flipped the switch back on, but the darkness stayed.

Swallowing a dry mouth, his breathing coming in deeper quantities, Xander waved his hand in front of his face a couple times, because even in the shallow darkness of the solid night, which was a lot worse than the darkness of an in-home bathroom, equipped with a nightlight, he could see his own hand in front of his face. He couldnt even see that, with the lights fully on.

Oh gawd, Im blind! he cried to himself.

The moment he said that though, something almost miraculous, but more confusing than anything, happened. He sawsomething. It had no color, but it was like a wave of energy that fell against something and in hitting it, highlighted it fully so that he could see it and several things around it.

What the There it was again! But it only seemed to happen when he spoke.

Xander took a step towards the toilet, so he could sit down, his feet making soft thuds as the hit the tiled floor.Xander, his eyes still open, paused.Then he raised and dropped his foot again, making another thud. Theenergy that he was seeing, it happened when he made sounds. It was less intense, but it happened and even seemed to originate around his footfalls. Xander then raise his foot higher and slammed it to the floor. A much bigger wave of the energy highlighted the entire room this time.

Xander raised his hand and waved it in front of his face again, slower this time. There!He could see it. Barely against the blackness, but he could see it. The sound of his hand moving through the air hit his ears, and he could feel the air being displaced against his face.Xander realized with a start that he was seeing sound waves!

And then, just like that, his sight snapped back to normal. As though his eyes had just been waiting for him to come to that correct conclusion.He was left blinking at the surreality of it for a couple of moments before he finally noticed that he was indeed seeing normally again, as the lights were on, but nothing was crystal clear, nor were the shadows lit up like it was noon.

Xander sighed, rubbing his face one final time, and turned out the lights, and made his way back down stairs. He had paused briefly when he realized that, even though his eyesight was still working, he could still see perfectly in the darkness as though the lights were still on. He decided to let it go, and now, given that he had his proof, he was ready to talk to those two about what was going on.

Moving as quietly as he could, Xander got into his sleeping bag, and lay there for a couple of moments, before he ultimately decided that he wanted more answers than questions, and he could only find answers in his dreams it seemed, and as the night before, upon making the decision to, sleep came instantaneously.

The Inbetween

The gray mists once again loomed before Xander.Just to be sure, he turned around to see what was behind him. If anything, it was worse than the continuous wars and battles fought in his dreams of the past few nights. He was sitting alone at a desk in the middle of the Bronze, with about a gazillion large and thick textbooks piled around him, and he was reading each one, one page at a time. And they were all labeled Trigonometry!

He could not have stepped into the Inbetween faster, again feeling that same sense of accomplishment as he did it. Xander didnt have to wait long or walk very far before Kes and Ron showed up, both in the same outfits he had first seen them in.

He didnt waste any time as soon as they saw each other, Xander said to the two of them, All right, if you want an apology for leaving last night, forget it! You do not drop a bomb shell on a guy in a very weird position of dream walking like you two being gods, or even me being one of you! So do not expect an apology.

We dont Xander, Kes said carefully. In fact, if anything, we, at least as I understand what youre going through a lot better than Ron, owe you an apology.

OK, Xander nodded at Kess apology, accepting it.Now what the hell is the deal here, and if I just hit the money with that hell-word

We have nothing to do with that vile place, and neither does this place, Ron practically growled. Then he calmed himself. Im sorry. Its just

Bad memories? Xander finished for him. Ron just nodded. Xander nodded back at him and sighed. All right, what is the story. I promise not to panic, because after the deal with my eyes earlier, I think I can handle just about anything.

What deal with your eyes earlier? Kes asked.

Xander shrugged. Well, first I had like this night-vision thing going on, and then everything was like super-uber-ultra clear, ya know? Then, when I went blind, I saw sound waves. So like I said, I think I can handle whatever you guys have got to say.

Such changes are normal, Ron said to the teenager easily. Youll also notice yourself getting more fit and perhaps even a bit stronger over the next few days.Right after an Awakening, all of your human powers reach their maximum within a week. For most its a week anyway. Some actually receive them sooner.

Human powers? Xander asked. Humans dont have powers! They have hands and feet, and mouths to eat twinkies with.

Kes laughed, while Ron just smiled easily down at the dark haired youth.

But the human body has great potential. It takes great skill for any ordinary human to be able to tap into, let alone fully reach that potential. We, as gods, dont need skill. Our bodies are our vessels, and our spirits make our vessels perfect. Literally.You arent eighteen yet, are you? Ron suddenly asked.

Uhno, sixteen, why? Ron just smiled broadly.

Good, because you still have somegrowing to do, as a boy into a man, if you understand what I mean. Ron gave him that look all guys give other guys when talking about what he was talking about.

Xander blinked. You serious?

Ron just smiled bigger and nodded. Xander blinked again, and asked, How big?Rons smile could not have gotten any bigger if all of physics were screwed up and he was made of elastic.

All right you two, enough with the macho sexism! Kes shouted, feeling thoroughly disgusted.

Whatelse can I expect from my human powers? Xander asked, once he had gotten over the shock of Rons revelation.

Increased senses, each one of your senses can now make up for the other five, including taste. You also get the benefits of the mind, without training. Dream walking is just the first and easiest. You can also hear the unguarded thoughts of those around you, and maybe even be able to move some things just by thinking about it.Nothing big. Were talking human powers here, not supernatural. Youll also be able to push your body harder and farther than anything else on the planet, save another of us. Including most demons. Ron explained.

Like vampires? Xander asked.

How do you know about them? Kes asked. She was surprised because she had never seen a real vampire or demon until after she had Awakened herself.

Xander just shrugged. I know the Slayer. Shes saved me and my best friend from vamps several times, not to mention that I live on the Hellmouth and seeing a vamp is like seeing dog shit in any other town.

Ron was now the one who was shocked.Youlive on the Hellmouth? he asked, his voice stunned. Xander just nodded, his face grim.

So, he said after a tense silence, what else, other than human powers, have I got to look forward to with this approaching godhood of mine?

Ron shook his head. Im sorry Xander, weve mislead you a bit. This is not godhood. This is what you are. Gods are a species, same as some demons are, or there are different kinds of birds.Some are raptors, others are just pigeons. Were the Raptors to humanities pigeons.

Xander nodded. OK, why dont you just go ahead and tell me the whole story already.

Well start with your dreams, the ones you say youve been having the past few nights, Kes began.

Yeah, and they were loads better than the one that was starting back there, Xander muttered to himself, looking back over his shoulder at where hed been.

What was that? Kes asked.

Nothing, Xander said a bit too quickly. Kes just glared at him, but moved on.

Your dreams Xander, Kes began, are images of the past. True images. This world did not begin, as some believe, as a paradise.It was

Overrun with demons, who made it there home, their hell, blah, blah, blah, Ive heard this much before. Its how I was introduced to demons in the first place, well, after my first vamp attack that is. Xander interrupted. Kes was again surprised, but Ron motioned for her to continue.

Anyway, the world was ruled by two major forces.What we call the Olders. The Old Ones, demons, pure evil and basically put, Fallen Angels as they were simply outcast of the other force. The Old Gods as we call them. The Gods were the ones that supported creation and even enhanced it as much as they could. They were not the ones who created everything though. Even they, and we as well, knew that there was only one Creator, and only the most foolish of any of us, whether we or the Olders, would ever dream of coveting the Creators power.

SoGod is real? Xander asked for clarification.

Both of them nodded somberly and seriously.God is very real Xander, but the Creator does not conform to the ideas of male, female, or even human. God is the Creator, pure and simple. Neither, he, nor she, nor anything beyond the loving Creator that loves everything, whether destroyer, evil, good, savior or otherwise. Ron answered Xanders question.

Then the war started, Kes said, brining the discussion back to her. The Old Ones wanted back the power they had when they were part of the Old Gods, but they still wanted to destroy and torment and revel in the destructive use of their powers. The Old Gods fought them. Basically a civil war.

In the midst of their conflict, three possibilities came into existence. Humans.Champions. And Us. Champions are people like, from what Ive heard, the Slayer, witches, supernatural beings that were born with gifts that destiny, and not some higher power, which was only the Olders back then, gave them that were lifted to higher than normal humanity.

And us? Xander asked apprehensively.

If the Champions are to be the protectors of humanity, then we are the Guardians, the guides to it, Ron said, taking a step forward. We hold a portion of the power that the Old Gods themselves held, but all contained inside a human body. We, as gods, have sworn never to usurp our power to control and dominate humanity as a whole. Though there are some that haveer, erhrm!

He means harems, Kes said disgustedly.Xanders eyes went wide.

Well, for lack of a better term, yes. But I do not approve, nor do I partake in such actions! Ron defended himself. And besides, its made sure that those that do takeuh, such followers, that the people choose of their own, unaltered free will to submit their own will to one of us.

Whoa, you mean I like have mind control now? Xander squeaked. Kes giggled and Ron looked embarrassed.

Its part of your human powers, but it is one of the few that require actual skill to use, let alone master. Ron answered. Because you can sometimes hear the thoughts of others, it is only natural that it would be possible for them to hear yours. Only, because they are unaware of the ability, they think that your thoughts are their own. Enough time and planting the right thoughts at the right time, it is very easy to turn another person into your mind slave. Some things though, such as their sense of person or free will itself, that cannot be changed or influenced. Because that has to do with their soul, and only the Creator can do anything with ones soul.

And demons, Xander muttered.

Ron shook his head. That is why the Old Ones rebelled and started the civil war.Only the creator can control or dictate a soul to change its essence.The Old Ones sought to control this power, have this power over souls. The best that they can do is steal a souls energy, or entrap it.The soul itself cannot be changed.Only taken and used. Or replaced with a demon spirit, which is the case with most vampires.

What about the Old Gods? Or us? Xander asked, now beginning to accept this idea that he really was one of these people, now that he saw what they were about.

Only the Creator has power over souls. We have power and dominion over other things. Ron shrugged. For a while it was thought that we were children of humans and Angels, real angels, who because of the Creator have dominion over ALL the Earth. All of it Xander. That was quickly dispelled as the truth, when we entered the civil war between the Olders, on the side of mortal animals. Humans and Champions.

We have greater power than Champions Xander, Kes explained, not because of our human powers, because their supernatural powers far outclass us in that regard. But because of our Extra powers. That which truly makes us gods.

Potentially, we, or a single one of us, in a human body, has the total power of a single Old God. That is incorrect, Ron inserted.

We have more, Kes said flatly. Xander just stood there, staring, waiting.

We are immortal from the moment that we Awaken, before that, we are entirely human, and there is no way to tell if someone can become what we are. Ron expanded. Unlike the Champions, we do not tap into a source or the realm of the supernatural for our gifts, but we tap into something that is infinitely more volatile. Naturally, we get our own powers from it, but not since the days of the war, several millennia ago, have we purposely tapped fully into it. Therefore, each one of us has a different power for emphasis. Some have greater physical abilities beyond anything that a Champion, even a Slayer, could ever have. Others have a surrealistic level of psychic abilities and a multitude of other things no one can even imagine.

OK, so first, why doesnt anyone tap into thiswhatever it is, so everybody can be even? Xander asked.

Too dangerous. Its not even known how to do that anymore. The last one of our kind that did know how to do that died over five thousand years ago. Ron answered.

Butyou just said were immortal, Xander pointed out.

We can be killed Xander, Kes said sadly.By others of our kind.

Xander looked back and forth between Ron and Kes for a whole minute before finally saying in a no-nonsense voice, I think you had better tell me everything, meaning the worst of the bad news, right now.

Back to the story, Kes said, we won. The Old Gods agreed, for creations sake, to leave and never return, so long as the Old Ones didnt. And our ancestors, and many of their allies, drove the Old Ones to the dimension that is now Hell. The Creator reinforced the seals between the real world, Earth, and Hell.Which I think is the final peg that got the Old Gods thrown out.

So whats the deal with the Hellmouth? Xander had to exclaim.

They cheated, Ron and Kes said together.

Youve heard the story about the first vampire, right? Ron asked. Xander nodded. Thats how. Hellmouths, yes, there is more than one, are like roots that still connect the Old Ones to the Earth Realm. It, believe it or not, is what actually keeps the Old Ones mortal.In Hell, they and all demons, are as immortal as the Old Gods are wherever they spend their time. In order to keep the Hellmouth open, or at least attached to Earth, a single demon, actually an Old One, has to agree to be mortal. In Hell.But when their natural lifespan is several thousands of years, thats more of a problem than it normally would be.

Still with you, Xander said.

After the war, things changed. With no more enemy to fight, we, and the Champions, were no longer in charge. Humanity would rule the world. At first there wasnt a problem with it. For the first thousand years, paradise was achieved. Ron said.

But, Xander inserted.

Then the dissidents came, Ron nodded at Xanders insertion.

We actually arent all called gods Xander, Kes explained. Actually, we dont know exactly what we are, unlike humanity. Some of us have claimed to be, and were actually worshiped as gods, but we arent.And with recent theories of evolution, it got some of us thinking.

Thinking about what? Xander asked.

A different name for us, other than only the two. Ron answered. There are two groups of our species, Xander. One more or less good, or at the very least not evil, and then the evil group. The former calls themselves gods, simply because thats what weve always been called, even by the humans that we protect. It isnt an ego thing, well for most it isnt, rather its a tradition thing.The second group, those that want to either ally themselves with the Olders or take over the world themselves, we call them Warlords.

Warlords? Xander repeated, a dumb look on his face.

Ron nodded. Ever since the End of the Beginningthe uh, thats what we call the end of the civil war between the Olders, after the thousand years of peace, of paradisethe warlords split from the gods, and ever since there has always been the two. Gods and warlords, one protecting humanity from the other, the one trying to take over the world or even be insane enough to ally themselves with one of the Olders and try to start the war again, just so we could be in charge again. Its believed by some that were the Old Ones and the Old Gods to return to Earth, humanity would fall and the gods, and warlords, would have to rise to protect them again, and humanity would see us as saviors, rather than freaks or monsters. We, of course, know better. Humanity would never accept our help except as weapons that they would control. They would rather fight the demons themselves than accept the burden of accepting our help again.

OK, youre losing me here, Xander stopped them.Go back to the looking for a new name thing.

We are two races Xander, Kes answered him, but one species. Some have taken to calling us Enhanced.

But only those born within the last century, Ron said gruffly. Xander arched an eyebrow.

Kes smiled. Were both older than we look Xander. Actually, this is not the way we look at all. I am 296 years old. Ron here, is one of the old farts. Hes over 3000 years old! Xander blinked and just stared. Then he quelled whatever reaction he was going to give, took a deep breath and let it out nice and slow.

You do know Im only 16 years old, right? Xander wanted to make sure. Both smiled at him and nodded.

Good news is you wont look 16 forever.Actually, youll look 21 forever.When your body has fully matured, thats when your physical age freezes. But dont worry, that takes the normal amount of time, Kes assured him.

Once Xander had gotten over the whole immortal thing, for the moment, he turned back to the worst part. OK, tell me what you can about these warlord creeps, cause I get the feeling that they can actually kill me if they want to.

They can, Ron said solemnly. But you can also kill them. And dont worry about the whole No Kill commandment, these bastards, whichever ones you may or may not encounter, are as bad as any demon or vampire, and more than likely worse.

Whats the catch? Xander asked.

Kes didnt even hesitate, Decapitation.Only way, and only by your hand or caused by your action. Even if that action would be for them to run upon someone elses blade and they decapitate them. But dont worry. Alliance with an Old One or not, no Enhanced would want to go near a Hellmouth, from what I understand of it.

Hey, its a mystical convergence, it MIGHT happen! Xander shouted back at her.

Kes just shrugged.

If you actually do come across a warlord, and trust me, youll know, just walk the other way and the next time you dream, just come here and call for either me or Kes. We can always hear another of our kind summon us from the Inbetween, whether we are asleep or even if we are awake. And I assure you my friend, Kes and I will always answer your summons.You can view it as sort of a volunteer responsibility marker. We are the first gods that you encountered after you awoke, and its always been that newbies are most comfortable with the first gods that they encounter.

OK, I get that, and frankly, I appreciate it as well. Was the whole warlord thing the worst of the worst? Both of them nodded. Cool.Now back to this powers thing, you never exactly explained what it was that we, or to be specific, I could do beyond the human powers.

Nobody really knows where the energy or powers comes from, Kes answered him. Its just always been that after an Enhanced is awakened, once their human powers have matured, they develop a whole new power with unknown potential that we call special skill.

Each special skill is unique to theEnhanced that has it, Ron took up the explanation, hesitating on the use of the modern term for their species. The special skill can range in category from energy, force, ultra-physical, elemental, psychics, vision, sensory, master elementthe list goes on and on. Its almost endless really.

You said earlier that during thewar, that our kind tapped into something that gave us more power than the Old Gods and the Old Ones combined, Xander pointed out.

Ron nodded. During the war, just before we got involved in it, there was a man, a god.He was the first of us to actually fully tap whatever it is that gives us our special skills. It gave him every special skill that existed, exists, or probably ever will exist.And not just to use, but to use to each and every ones full potential. That is why we have more power than even the Olders. But again, nobody has done that insince before the End of the Beginning.

Xander nodded, understanding the implications, as well as the dangers of what his life now involved. Speaking of which

Uh, not to sound like a newbie and all, butnow what? Xander asked.

Now, its up to you, mostly, Ron answered cryptically.

Kes hit the too big man in the gut with the edge of her elbow, making the blonde giant wince in pain. What Ron means Xander, Kes said in a tone of annoyance, is that your life is still your own. Justnow you are aware of your destiny as a godthat is if you choose to be a god.

Xanders eyebrows went up and he immediately asked, You mean theres a way for me to turn down the whole package? Powers, immortalitynightmares?

Theyre visions you Ron said angrily before Kes stopped him.

You can choose to be either godor warlord.But no Xander, you cannot stop being an Enhanced. And Ron is right. Your dreams are not nightmares.They are visions of your heritage.Have you actually experienced another of the same dreamssince you met us?

Xander started to say yes, but then he thought about it, and realized that he hadnt and numbly shook his head no to answer Kess question. So, he said finally after a long silence, my only choice is good or evil, huh?Not really much of a choice for a guy thats in love with the Slayer.

What is it with Slayers being hot babes anyway? Ron asked the universe. Xander chuckled, Kes just looked annoyed.

All right, yes, Im going to be a god.Now, Xander took a deep breath, only just understanding what he had agreed to, what exactly do I have to do to prepare or whatever? How do I learn to use my powers? Can I use them in public without worrying about some Men In Black coming to take me away in the middle of the night? And what happens if I meet one of these warlords?

Whoa there, slow down, Ron waved his hands.First, NO! Both Xander and Kes jumped at the force that the older god had used. You cannot use anything resembling powers in public. Even on the Hellmouth, where I think the official rule for anyone living there more than a year is deny, deny, deny. Second, each godeach Enhanced is unique. Basically you teach yourself. Everybodys powers, both human and Special developed at their own pace.There are more or less some similar standards, but mostly its just pick it up as you go. Look, dont worry about it. Youve got centuries! Just live your life the way you were before, and when you find a new power, learn how to use it to the best of your ability. If you need help, then Kes, I, or anyone else you might meet here in the Inbetween can give you some pointers if you ask.

And warlords? I live on the Hellmouth for crying out loud! Xander shouted at them.

Youre a newbie. Not even worth a blip on anybodys radar, except now mine and Kess.Nobody is going to even want to bother with you, even if you walk right into them. And the chances of running into a warlord without actively looking for one are so astronomical that it would take even the best of us a whole week to figure out that figure. And normally we can do calculations up to the trillions in seconds. Ron tried to ease Xanders worries.

But what if? Xander asked, emphasizing each syllable.

Ron sighed, sagging his shoulders. The only thing you have to worry about is if a warlord challenges you to a duel. Thenits fight to the finish, and anything goes. Anything, short of outside interference that is. Outside interference meaning another of our kind. Warlords could send a pack of demons after you, after declaring a challenge, and then once youre softened up come in for the kill.But the good news is that you can do the same thing. You could send your own hoard of vampires or other demons to meet those that the warlord sent in.

Yeah, but I dont exactly associate in the friendly circles with demons or vampires, Xander sarcastically shot back.

Ron just shrugged and shot back at him, So you could control a pack of vampires and do the same thing. Of course you have to learn how to do that first.Believe it or not, controlling a demon, even one inhabiting a human body, is incredibly easier than controlling a real human. Has to do with the soul thing. Demons dont have souls, so we, and the Olders, have power over them too.

Xander blinked. Cool. Idont suppose that you or Kes would be willing to help me out, just in case. I mean, in an advice type deal. Or even let me borrow your demon hoard?

Kes and Ron laughed at the pleading face Xander displayed. Well, since youre the one on the Hellmouth, I think we might be the ones asking you that in a few years, Ron said between laughs.

Dont worry Xander, Kes assured her new friend, Ron, however over confidant, is right about the warlords. Unless theyve got something big planned, they just try and stay out of sight. Just like we do. Speaking from experience, you do not want people you cant trust with this secret. I was one of the witches burned during the Salem Witch Trials. All of my accusers were people that I thought I could trust not only with my secret, but my life.Sofor right now, until you can learn more about your powers to protect yourself, I would advise you not to tell anyone. Not even the Slayer or your closest friends.

Xander considered, and almost chucked what Kes was saying. Then he remembered Amy and her mother, and how Giles and Buffy were so dedicated to punishing Amy, even though it was really Amys mother that did the wrong, and it was deserved. But given the wrong info, not to mention a way worse situation, he feared that they would turn on him, or even worse, he would turn on them with uncontrolled powers.

Sighing with the weight of the decision, Xanders shoulders slumped. Fine.But just until I figure out whatever the hell my special skill is gonna be. Besides, by then I should have full control of my powers, right?

Ron nodded, silently glad over the heavy decision his young friend had just made, and supportive of how he was handling everything. Kes smiled at the dark haired youth, also glad for him. Right, she answered him. But again, its going to take a while for that to even show up Xander, Kes reminded him. Xander just nodded absently.

So, I say again, now what?

Well, if you want, we can show you around some parts of the Inbetween. Most of it is the same, but if you know how, you can identify where dream doors are, how to enter them, and maybe even who is having the dream. It would be better than you stumbling around on your own for the first while anyway, Kes offered.

Xander smiled, nodding, Thanks. I think Id like that. Certainly in how to figure out how to see thedream doors did you call them? Kes nodded.

Hunh. Sohow do I see them?

Here, Kes stepped forward, walking to just beside Xander. First, clear your mind, as difficult as it is, so that you are calm, and not focused on any one thing.Then, RELAX. Thats the first rule to using and learning your powers. Theyre no good to you if they are out of control, because you cant keep your cool and use them the right way. Itll come to you. Believe it or not, this is all second nature to you. All of it. You just have to become consciously aware of it.

Xander took a deep breath, nodding as he focused on not focusing on anything. Pretty soon he became aware of something. Something he hadnt noticed because he was moving too fast to see it.Pathways. Doors. Walls.They were all around him, yet werent at the same time. Heck, according to what he was aware of now, he was standing half in and half out of a wall right now.

Whoa! Xander exclaimed, jumping out of the wall so he was in the middle of the hall the three of them were in.

Was wondering when you were going to notice that, Ron smirked. Xander just shot him a look.

OK, how do I identify whats what? I mean, what do the walls and thepathways mean? Xander asked, pointing around them to emphasis his question.

The walls are the borders of a persons dream world, Kes answered, The pathways are different. Some of them are just the spaces inbetween separate dream worlds, others are paths to dreams, others away from them. Dont even think of trying to map any of it, its always changing, according to the dreams and desires of the people dreaming. Even we affect it in that degree.

OK, but I was just inside a wall, but I wasnt in that persons dream, why? Xander asked.

The only way to enter a dream is through the door, which is much more difficult to get into than you might think. The door isnt really anything that can be explained with modern science, but some of us believe that once, maybe even during the war of the Beginning, humans were mentally connected to one another. Sort of like the Borg on that Star Trek Next Generation thing, but with everyone having their own free will. Ron explained.

Kes picked it up from there, Its thought that those doors were once interlinked in the Inbetween, through either umbilicals or directly to anothers dream world, which created the link between the humans.

Obviously, that connection no longer exists, but its still possible for things like shared dreaming or linked minds to happen, Ron finished.

Why is it so hard to get through a door? I mean I literally stumbled into my two friends dreams last night. Xander pointed out.

How long have you known your friends? Kes asked.

Ive known Willow, the first friend, all our lives.Well mostly anyway. Buffy, well we just met, but I got into her dreams too.Although it was a bit more difficult than getting into Willows. Something, I think, had to unlock before I was let in.

Kes nodded. Friends, close friends, usually have more shared dreams than not, because of the level of trust, and perhaps even love between them. This Willows mental defenses obviously felt you were no threat, and maybe even welcomed into the dream. And while a normal humans defenses arent as powerful as ours, or even a champions, theyre enough to give one of us pause.

Well, like I said, I literally stumbled into Willows. Buffys however, like I said, I think something had to unlock. I felt some kind of energy go through the barrier before it opened.Oh, and Buffy is the Slayer that I know. Xander added.

At that, both Ron and Kes started, and generally just looked too shocked for words. What? Xander asked, worried.

You-you-youyou entered a Champions dream?! Ron exclaimed. Xander shrugged, not knowing what to say.

Xander, Kes started to explain, Champions, you remember, are the ones that are empowered by the supernatural.Supernatural energy is nothing to laugh about. It also protects them in their dreams. No attempt to force their way into a protected Champions dreams has ever been successful. Ever. The only way that you could have gotten into her dreams was if she either invited you in, or

Or what?

Or the supernatural energy protecting her was destroyed. Thats the only other way.

Xander stopped, then frowned. OK, but why would Buffy invite me into her dreams then he stopped. Well there was the kiss, and I did kinda save her from being killed by that pasty faced demon in her dreamoh, I meant to ask about that, is it a bad thing if you interfere in a prophetic dream?

Kes looked to Ron, who shrugged. Never had any experience with it myself, but the only harm that would come of it is that the message the dream was trying to deliver gets lost in your interference. I wouldnt make a habit of it if I were you.

What makes you sure that she invited you in? Kes asked.

Xander stared at the blue haired woman/girl.Like I said, an energy went through the barrier to unlock it before I went in. Then, after she threw me out, the energy went back up. And if the supernatural force thats protecting her was destroyed, then were all in trouble, cause like I said, shes the Slayer.

Good point. Kes admitted.

Suddenly, a shrill shriek went through the local Inbetween. XANDUUUURRRRRR!

Xanders eyes went wide as he recognized the voice behind the cry. Willow, he hissed to himself before a new, red bordered with gold path flared out before him, leading straight to a bright green door with red trim in the distance.Xander did not hesitate as he began running as fast as he could, further motivated when Willows shout was repeated, and without even realizing it, his form began to blur, as when he had raced to save Buffy from the Master.

Kes and Ron stared in shock at what Xander had just done. He just did that on instinct, Kes pointed out to the elder. Ron just nodded, before saying, Come on, he might need some help.

Kes shook her head in resignation before muttering to herself, Boyscouts, and vanishing in her own blurred form after Xander and Ron.


The moment he was at it, the door opened for Xander. Unlike with Buffy however, Xander did not rush in as he saw the danger that was assaulting Willow in her dreams. He came to an immediate stop, something only capable in dream worlds, and cartoons.

Rather than the Bronze, Willows dream was awhite place. At the center of it was what had made Xander stop. Not even a full second after he did, Ron, and then Kes, had caught up with Xander.

Xander, whats wrong? Why arent you entering to help your friend? Kes asked. In reply, Xander just pointed.

In the exact center of the whiteness, were three Willows. One, obviously the dreamer, was in the center, sitting, no tied to a chair, wearing a plaid green dress with a trim and proper white blouse, her hair straight and made her look even more geekish than the outfit did. The second, which seemed to be dominating what was happening here, had neck-length red hair, a style that Xander had never really imagined Willow wanting.This second Willow was also dressed to the nines in a business suit, for women. Xander also noted that she had far paler skin than the seated Willow.

The third made all three gods stare, and an uneasy feeling settle in all their stomachs. This Willow, with the same short hair, seemed to have taken up dream-Cordys fashion sense, wearing tight black leather all over, including a corset and leather bellbottoms. She also looked to be the most dangerous of the three, as she was displaying a rigid wrinkled brow, demonic yellow eyes, and far sharper teeth than the other two Willows had.

What the hell is she? Kes asked about the third.

Vampire, Xander and Ron both hissed in anger and fear.

My experience is that the moment I step in, the dream starts playing. Xander explained his stop. Is there anyway to keep the dream frozen and still interact with it?

Ron immediately shook his head no.Believe me, Ive tried, he further conveyed. Xander just grimly nodded his head. Then move fast and hit hard.Whatever the one in the suit is, I dont trust that shes just human. And Will never mentioned anything about having dreams about vampires before.

Did something happen today that might have changed that? Ron asked, both he and Kes getting ready to run into the dream.Xander just shook his head. Not that I can think of. Just your typical Saturday.

Ron sighed and nodded. Ready?

Kes nodded, Ready.

One, two, Xander counted, just before he said the next number, both gods notice him tense, and tensed themselves, THREE!

Just like that, three identical blurs sped into the dreamand then hit a barrier ten feet away from the Willows inside it.From the way it flashed after they hit it, it looked like prison bars, or those cages you see on cartoons a lot.

What the?! Xander shouted as he recovered from being knocked back. All three were still on their feet, which was somewhat surprising to him, but not as much as what had happened.

XANDER! the bound Willow cried in relief and love.Help me!

I already told you doll, the business clad Willow said in a dark voice that sent shivers up and down everyones spine, except maybe the vampires, You can dream up all the saviors you want, but theyll just appear outside the cage and none of them can get in.

Then the two short-haired Willows glared at the interlopers, Although, I must compliment you on your taste. The girl is rather yummy looking if I do say to myself.

Xander looks like he did when he was alive, the leather-clad Willow, VampWillow, cooed, making the very words sound like a sexual caress. Can I keep him? I wanna see if this one will let me ride him like a pony.

Not now sweet face, the business Willow, BadWill, said offhandedly. Now where were we? she asked as she leaned down and licked the side of bound-Willows face. Oh yeah, I remember now.

Wills, you have got to work out these issues, Xander commented as he tried to run the barrier again. The same thing happened.

BadWill looked up, annoyed, and said back to the real Willow, Persistent arent you? What? You dont like getting licked?Well have to change that. Trust me, theres nothing like a good tongue between your legs

Well, I know of something, VampWillow said dreamily, staring at Xander.

BadWill smiled demurely at the vampire, Well I wouldnt know about that, my lover and sire being Buffy and all.

*That* made everyone stop and stare at her. Suddenly, Ron snapped his fingers, inspiration dawning on him. Of course! he shouted.They arent figments of Willows dream, theyre real! Theyre dream walkers. Like us.

The last sentence got both dark Willows to look up and stare at the trio, uncomprehending.

Butif they arent a part of Willows dreamhow could they construct the cage, or know what it does even? Xander asked in a rush.

They constructed it using their own power.It must be demonic energy, considering one of them is a vampire, Ron stated logically.

How do you figure that? Kes asked.

LATER! Xander shouted. That wall is coming down now! With that he raced forward again, but rather than just running into the cage, he punched it, his fist starting a chain reaction of flashing energy, that lit up the entire cage, some sparks even flying between the bars.

BadWill looked at what she thought a construct of Xander made by the captive consciousness before her. Thats impossible! she exclaimed. She doesnt have that much power. Hell, barely enough to even have potential.Theres no way she could have that much energy to do that much damage!

Stop calling me a she! Xander snarled, a dark and dangerous look passing over his face.

Even VampWillow took a step back at that look.Xanders angry, she whimpered.She never liked her sweety when he got that angry. It wasnt safe for human or vamp to be around him when he did.

Big whoop! BadWill shouted sarcastically, then turned back to the bound-Willow. Take him away or I start getting painful rather than persuasive.Believe me, I have the practice.And get rid of the Buffy and Giles constructs too.

ButI-I-I didnt make anything happen! I-I s-swear! the geeky Willow stuttered.

BadWill frowned and then turned around, and looked at Xander. The dark look hed had before could have been passed off as a flash of annoyance compared to the one he bore now. To her credit, she actually looked him back in the eye without flinching.

Big mistake. You do not threaten my friends, Xander growled as he slammed his fists into the cage over and over, each hit causing the same reaction, and then getting worse as the effects of each hit started to overlap each other.

Pretty soon, the speed Xander had used in running was now directed into his arms as they became like twin jackhammers against the cage. Even the arrogant BadWill began to feel the fear the others already felt at Xanders actions.

Not meant to undergo such force, it was not very long before the cage finally became solidified energy, and Xander threw one last punch at it, and it shattered like so much glass. Not skipping a beat, Xander flashed forward, nothing but a blur to everyones eyes, and hit first BadWill with a kick to the chest and then VampWillow with a punch to the stomach. Each hit sent both evil Willows flying backwards from the bound Willow.

Xan-Xander? Willow stuttered.

Help her, Xander ordered, and then he went after the two people that had threatened his friends dreams.

I thought you said nothing could break that thing, VampWillow growled to her partner.

That is IMPOSSIBLE!! BadWill screeched, briefly throwing a tantrum. I dont know what the hell you are Xander-clone, but you are about to cease existing in the next few seconds! And with that, BadWill changed her every appearance.Instead of a business skirt and jacket, she had on black leather pants tighter than the ones VampWillow was wearing, and a black vinyl vest with steel clasps that actually looked smaller than the corset as well. Other than boots and a vamp face, she wasnt wearing anything else.

You-youre a vampire too? Xander hesitated in continuing his attack when he noticed this fact.

What? Surprised? BadWill drawled. Its no big deal. Buffy got careless one night, and the first thing she does is come and turn me. Weve been together ever since. About fifty years from my perspective. I picked up this little beauty, she gestured at VampWillow, in another dreamscape, one actually from an erased timeline I had thought, but it turned out there really was a universe where Buffy never came to Sunnydale.

Well, that only confirms my theory, Ron announced as he and Kes finished freeing the real Willow.

What theory? Xander growled, not looking away from the two vampires.

They are and arent Willow. Theyre alternate versions of what she could have become in either parallel or alternate universes. Somehow, I think the one thats talking so much figured out how to navigate the Inbetween and crossed dimensions in it. Possibly to try and ensure more versions of her occur. Demons, unlike normals, the more of their kind there is, the more powerful they become, whereas humans have to share an energy

Lecture later Ron, we got two vamps to dust! Xander shouted just before he rushed the more powerful of the two vampires, BadWill.

Too surprised at the turn of events, the vampire didnt move as Xander hit her full force in the chest again, and much to hers and everyone elses surprise, she flew back a great distance, and when she landed, it took her half a minute to even get to her knees. By then, Xander was busy with the other vampire Willow, who was actually ready for him, unlike her counterpart.

Xander ran straight at her, but rather than stand still and let him hit her, the vampire moved with the same speed she had in reality, dodging Xanders hit. Unfortunate for her, Xander, in the dream, was still moving faster.

He adjusted his motion so that his elbow slammed into the side of her head, where she had dodged to and then moving at the same speed, spun around and landed a flawless roundhouse kick against the other side of the vampires head. She flew back more than twice as far as the first one had. She, however, was up a whole lot quicker.

I dont know how you did that, but it really doesnt matter, a dark and sinister voice said directly behind the young god.My dream, my rules, and my world.Before he could turn fully around, BadWill started a lethal combination of punches, kicks, and knees to the ribs on Xanders unguarded form. Finally, she just shot a powerful roundhouse to his head, knocking him back some ten feet.Not nearly as far as she had gone though.

Xander! the real Willow cried for her friend.And then, to hers and the other Willows amazement, Xander just picked himself up off the ground, dusted off his clothing, and turned and faced BadWill, absolutely no sign of injury on him.

Xander then looked over at the real Willow and smiled in a way that let her know that he was the real Xander. Willow, this is all a dream. Your dream. Not hers, not theirs. Not mine even. Yours. If you could put Cordy in a maid outfit complete with corset and g-string, and Buffy in a drop dead gorgeous nightgown, and get me to proclaim my love for you, then I know you can control your dreams when you really want to. Fight them.Fight them with me Willow. Here, both of us can be the Slayer.

Shut up! BadWill cursed and started attacking Xander again. This time, he actually put up a fight, blocking, almost anticipating her every move, and landing some attacks of his own. Unfortunately, thats when VampWillow decided to join in on the fun.Against one vampire Willow, Xander could barely hold his own, against two, he was quickly overwhelmed, but his desire and conviction to protect his friend kept him going.

III dont know whats going on! Willow whined to Kes and Ron. Can you help him?

We can, but there is little more that we can do, Ron said cryptically. We can only fight them, maybe even drive them off, but theres nothing to stop them from coming back later. Only you can actually win this fight Willow. Remember what Xander just told you, this is a dream.

Yeah, and how did he know about Coruh, I mean, how can he, or any of you really be in my dream? This is my dream, right?

It is, Kes answered assuredly, But we cant explain that right now. But I will tell you this. If those two vampires kill Xander, even in your dream rather than his, the real Xander will die. Only you, by taking back control of your dream, can save him.

Willow didnt hear the rest after the words will die. Xander she whimpered a final time. Then a steeled resolve entered her face and the same darkness that had been on Xanders face earlier entered her eyes.

The geek dress seemed to literally dissolve off her and was replaced by a dark denim ensemble, a light green tank top underneath the denim jacket. The wind seemed to pick up suddenly, casting Willows long read hair about around her face.Then the really weird stuff started to happen.

I wont let you kill Xander, Willow gritted out between clenched teeth at the fighting vampires.

Willow knew of only two ways to kill vampires.She summoned them both into her dream.The white place suddenly seemed a whole lot brighter, and warmer. What had happened became known when both vampires skin began to smoke.

The sun! VampWillow screeched, hissing in pain.

Its not real! BadWill scolded her, her punch at Xanders head missing. Its her! she pointed at the suddenly changed Willow.And its not enough to get us to leave.

No, but maybe this will be, Willow said, and though far away, her voice was heard quite clearly by all. She raised her hands and gestured at the walls, if there were any, of the white place.

Literally, and suddenly, out of nowhere, *Buffys* started appearing, dressing in the same outfit Willow herself was wearing, except a black tank top underneath the denim outfit. Each bore an expression of outrage and anger, and they were all carrying wooden stakes, and the moment they were fully there, every one ran straight for and started attacking the two vampires.

OK, color me impressed, BadWill said sarcastically as she almost casually flipped three Buffys trying to tackle her into a half dozen more. You dont have the knowledge or the skill to put the real threat of a Slayer behind these pitiful constructs.

Speak for yourself! VampWillow cried out as the sheer numbers of the dream-Slayers overwhelmed her.

Way to go Will! Xander crowed and started to help the Buffys and attacking, with his full dream strength, the two vampires, who were still smoking, but unfortunately not flaming yet.

She cant destroy them Xander! Kes shouted, suddenly appearing by his side as she said it, and helping the Buffys attack VampWillow while Xander focused on BadWill. She can only hold them off. Only once theyre gone can we help her construct a shield that will keep others like them out of her dreams.

So how do we do that? Xander shouted back, landing a good kick in BadWills side, but it didnt have too much effect.

Well, having the real Slayer here, would definitely help, Kes replied sarcastically.

But for some reason, Xander always managed to turn sarcastic comments into plans of great action. Or maybe great plans of action, one of those.

Taking a total chance at looking like a fool, as though he werent already for wearing pajamas while fighting two dream vampires that were alternate versions of his best and longest friend, Xander took a step back and let the Buffys take care of BadWill for the moment, before focusing his mind and taking a deep breath. Then he shouted with his whole heart, mind, and lungs.


Summers Residence


Buffy had finally fallen asleep after maybe ten minutes of staring at the dark ceiling, wondering about the comments that Xander had let slip throughout the day and just before bed. She vividly remembered her dream. It was one that she had been having ever since she had gotten to Sunnydale. Each time, the dream would reveal just a little bit moreand then Xander showed up, and they had an actual conversation in her dream.

And then

And then she had kissed him.Willingly. Passionately. At least as far as her kisses go anyway. ButWillow was in love with Xander. Deeply. She couldnt be like the vixen Madonna and all traipse into Willows life and without even trying take the boy that she wanted to be with more than anything. It would be too noir of her, not to mention that while Xander was a great friend, he wasnt exactly her type.

So why did she have to go and kiss him?All right, it was in a dream, butwhy did she have to go and kiss him?

These thoughts, and many similar ones, were all on her mind when she finally fell asleep. Five minutes later, her eyes started shifting rapidly beneath their lids and her vitals reached the level known as REM sleep.

Suddenly, about ten seconds after Willow whimpered something that sounded like a cry of pain, Xander, Buffys entire body twitched and her face grimaced. Shortly after, there was a sigh from Willow and another twitch from Buffy, only her left arm this time. After that, their forms were undisturbed for the rest of the night.


Buffys dream world

Buffy had wound up back in the same park that she had dragged Xander to after they had escaped the cavern. Standing before her were Xander and her kissing, just as they had been the night before in her dream.

Before Buffy could begin to ask herself what she was thinking all over again, she heard a distant cry that she would recognize no matter what, and a sense of urgency that accompanied it.

Xander she whispered as she recognized him calling her. Then she frowned, grimaced really, and muttered to herself, Willow? What?

Without another thought, Buffy knew what she had to do, although neither knowing or questioning how she knew or precisely what she knew. She stepped up to the place where she had seen Xander both appear and disappear from.If she could drag him back in, maybe she could even step out entirely

Taking a deep breath, Buffy reached out with her left arm at the space, closed her eyes, and prayed that she wouldnt be too late to save her friends. Her only friends.

Willows dream world

As good as things had gotten for Willows defenders, they were not getting any better. Ron had remained by the real Willows side, defending her when either of the vampires managed to slip past Kes or Xander, and the dreaming redhead was trying to bring forth as many Buffys as she could, infusing them with more and more fighting skill that she observed just from watching the vampires defeat them. They also got continuously stronger and faster, but the vampires and the gods were always faster.

Kes, Xander was surprised, was actually better than Buffy as far as fighting skill went, but she looked like she was holding back. At least, every time that he hit BadWill she still went flying back the same distance and took the same amount of time to get back up. VampWillow was not flying back.

Something wrong Kes? Xander asked casually, after he had a thirty second break from sending BadWill flying again.

What makes you say that? Kes asked as she ducked under a sloppy punch from the vampire and followed through with a kick to the stomach and a tiger strike to the demons face.

Oh, maybe cause Im the new guy to this and Im tossing Miss control freak around like an uppity rag doll, and you arent even using that sword on your back! Xander shouted as BadWill came back for more and he raced forward to give it to her.

I cant exactly get any better Xander! Kes shot back at him.

You could stop holding back! Xander emphasized his sentence by getting a punch through BadWills defenses and once again knocking her back over twenty feet where immediately the Buffys tackled her and started to beat on her.

And run out of energy like you are? In case you hadnt noticed, shes playing with you.She knows you cant or dont know how to banish her, so shes letting you waste your energy on her. At this rate, Willow will be defenseless in twenty minutes! Kes scolded him.

Xander grimaced and then he frowned as he saw something in the distance, at the edge of the dream. Is that what I think it is? he asked himself as he stared.

Willow suddenly faltered, and Ron immediately caught her and asked what was wrong. OooooI feel funky weird Willow drawled, as though she were drunk.

A loud growling could suddenly be heard and all heads, even VampWillows, turned to look at BadWill. She was still covered by the dream-Slayers, until all of a sudden, all of the Buffys were cast off of her in an explosion of power, BadWill now floating a meter off the ground, her eyes now solid black with red pupils, and demonic energy crackling around her clawed fists.

You think you can beat me! You think that some petty vampire powers are all that I have!I discovered the dreamscape, I found the passage to others dreams and other realities through them! You have no idea the depth to my power! her voice echoed with said power as she spoke.

Actually, Xander mock-whispered to Kes, I was trying to distract her.

Kes looked at him, bewildered. From what?! she almost shrieked.

From that, he then pointed behind Kes and VampWillow, and everyone in the dream looked to what he was pointing at.

What is that? Willow asked Ron, still kinda out of it. From the moment that BadWill had tossed them off of her, all the dream-Slayers had vanished, even the ones attacking VampWillow.

Out of the whiteness, a hole had appeared, a crack in the perfect white of the dream. It was actually a vortex of some kind, flashing occasionally with an unknown energy, and a bright gold in color with a faint blue at the center/end of it.

It was Ron who had figured it out first, remembering Xander calling out for his other friend, the Slayer, in the middle of the fight. Kes was right on the edge of understanding as well when she asked Ron, Isnt that where the dream door used to be? The older god just smiled and nodded.

Before another word could be uttered, something came out of the vortex, and going about twice as fast as Xander and the others had been going. The gold hued blur didnt even pause when it entered the white place, it just raced straight for the floating BadWill.

I dont know, or care what the hell you are, she growled, the energy around her becoming greater and more volatile, but I am getting bored with these interruptions. So LEAVE!

The floating redhead vampire shot a blast of the demonic energy from her fingertips at the oncoming blur emphasized the final word. A second before the blast would have hit it dead on, the blur just sidestepped and went around the blast without slowing down for an instant.

What! BadWill exclaimed just as the gold blur hit her full force head on and finally stopped, the demon Willow thrown back, gold and lightning blue energy lancing up and down her body, obviously causing her more pain than all of Xanders hits.

Now that it was not longer moving, everyone could easily see what it was that had come out of the vortex. Buffy Summers, or rather the soul of, imbued with all of the supernatural power of the Slayer stood before her friends and the gods, and one seriously outnumbered and outmatched vampire. Rather than look real as the dream Buffys had, Buffy seemed to be made out of gold energy, and her eyes were the same shade of blue as the center of the vortex. Xander also casually noted that she too was wearing her pajamas, despite them being a glowing gold.

Hey guys, did I miss the party? Buffy asked with a smile.

Xander smiled back at the Slayer, the real Slayer. Nope, right on time Buff, as usual. Nice trick with the Bad Will there. You want the VampWillow or do you want us to take care of her?

Buffy turned and looked at said VampWillow, and grinned. Oh, I never get to have any fun in my dreams anymore, I think Ill take her. Although, technically speaking this is Willows dream

Dont go there Buff, Xander warned, Its a migraine just waiting to happen.

Buffy nodded gratefully at her Xander-shaped friend.Then frowned. Weve still got to talk about that kiss mister. As soon as this is over, hightail it over to my dreams, or get ready for a major butt-whooping in the morning.

Maam, yes maam! Xander saluted with a sloppy grin on his face. That grin instantly fell when he heard a shrill voice behind him squeak out, Kiss?!

Uh, Will, its not what youre probably thinking Xander spun around to face his friend.

He was rewarded with exactly what Willow was thinking as an image of him and Buffy in a passionate, total tongue, groping kiss appeared out of the whiteness. OK, it is DEFINTELY not what you are thinking, Xander said firmly. The image quickly disappeared.

I saved Buffy from a nightmare, and she said something about giving me one happy dream or something and I swear it was only in her dreamuh, world, and there was NO tongue. None, zip, nada, no tongue at all. Xander adamantly confirmed.

Aw, there had to be a little tongue, VampWillow whined.

Would you shut up! Buffy then held up her left arm and a stake appeared there. She didnt even waste time in throwing it, it just shot out of her hand and into the vampires chest. But was all she could get out before crumbling to dust and the dust being sucked into a vortex that had opened at the vampires feet, red and black in color, which immediately closed as soon as all the dust was gone.

Unfortunately, as soon as the vampire Willow was gone, another bolt of demonic energy hit Buffys still upraised arm. She cried out in pain, and for just a moment, her entire body flickered, which made a kind of sense since she seemed to be made out of supernatural energy.

Xander didnt waste time on the psychological, he reacted faster than he ever had, or very likely ever would in the real world.He became a racing blur once again, and despite the three bolts of demonic energy fired at him, he didnt stop until he had BadWill by the throat and torn from the air.

I told you, he grated in a deathly cold tone, Dont. Threaten. My. Friends.At each word, his grip just got tighter and tighter, his strength dramatically increased not only by his awakening, but the dream world itself empowering his dream form according to his will. (Not a lowercase spelling for Willow, I mean mind over matter will, not Heya Will!)

BadWill couldnt believe what was happening to her.No Xander could ever be this powerful, not even in the dreamscape, which is what she called it. And yet here he was, dream walking, using mental powers in the dream that normally takes months to learn, and his hand was actually tearing into her neck. BadWill knew that if she died in this dreamscape universe that she would never be able to return and certainly not to this alternate of her. And she wanted to return, increase the number of hers there were in the omniverse and then combine them all into one uber-vamp form for her to control.

Too bad that wasnt gonna happen, as with one last burst of raging strength, Xanders fist around BadWills neck closed tight, nothing but dust between the fingers as the vampires head rolled away.Shortly after, as with the other, a red and black vortex opened and absorbed every particle of the vampires dust.Xander made a show of dusting off his hands and clothes before turning back to the others.

Xan-xan-Xander? Willow stuttered as he walked back to the group that had gathered once the last of the evil Willows were gone.

Yeah Will? he asked, suddenly being right in front of her.

She almost startled, but remembered it was a dream and therefore distance had no real meaning here. Especially since it was her dream. Uhum, thanks. F-for-for coming to the rescue. II dont know what would have happened if you hadnt gotten here in t-time

Xander saw that his friend was about to break down and start crying, the stress of what she had just gone through finally ramming into her full force now that it was over. He embraced her without thought and softly rocked her back and forth, making comforting sounds. Shhh, its ok Will, its over now. Dont even think about what those two dust-bitches were doing here. Theyre gone now, so you dont ever have to worry about them coming back again. Xander cast a look at Ron, who just smiled and nodded back, understanding what Xander was silently asking. No, the two vampires would not be coming back, and therefore yes, Xander was telling the truth.

Xander smiled back at his two new friends, and when he felt her quiet, Xander stepped back to appreciate his best friends.Thanks for coming to our rescue Buffy, he said to the energy made Slayer.

Buffy just shrugged and grinned the way she did.It was no big. Anything for our Wills, right Xan? Im serious about our talk Mr. Harris. Ill expect you in my dream as soon as youre done here. She cast one last loving friendship look at Willow, and then in a way that made her entire form blur, she dissolved back into the still open vortex, and only upon the moment that it had collected all of Buffy did it shrink back and disappear, leaving only the undisturbed white place of Willows dream.

Before either of the gods knew it though, the white place turned into the Bronze, and Xander recognized a particular table at the center of the dance floor. He turned back to see Willow, now in the same red dress he had seen her in, in the last dream of hers hed visited.

Will, you look beautifulbut please dont turn me into a sap again, it was almost embarrassing the last time I saw the way I acted, Xander almost begged.

Willow smiled at him and stepped forward. Then she slapped him, hard, across the cheek.Thats for invading my private dreams.Next time, even if you just stumble into them, wait for an invitation, not an open door, to come into my dreams Xander. Oh, and as a parting memory, Willow in the red dress snapped her fingers and instantly, at her heels, complete with leash, was the new puppy dog in Willows dream; Xander in nothing but a black latex Speedo, the collar, and the leash.

At a wolf whistle from Kes, Xander looked up to see the two gods giggling at his expense. Xander, despite his flaming red face, just smirked as his response to Willows jibe at him, and then it intensified as he said back calmly, Just for that Will, I wont tell you how I can actually go into your dreamswhenever I want. Now if you dont mind, I have an appointment with a Slayer in Buffys dreams. Then, with more confidence and suaveness than hed ever had in his whole life, imagined or otherwise, Xander walked past the S/D couple and to the dream door. Just before he opened it, he turned and looked back at Kes and Ron and asked casually, You two coming?

Surprised at Xanders lack of reaction, the two gods just shrugged, still grinning, at each other and followed Xander out of Willows dream. The moment the three gods were gone, puppy-Xander was instantly replaced with Maid-Cordy, still kneeling and leashed, and pouted to herself. Damn! What will it take for him to notice me! Other than evil alternate mes invading my dreams and trying to make me evil, that is.

Left with nothing but dreams now, Willow turned and walked back to the table, where the cool and in-love-with-only-her Xander in the tuxedo waited.

The Inbetween

Shell forget that, right? Xander asked Ron as soon as the dream door was closed.

What? The you in the slave outfit? I doubt shed want to, Ron laughed loudly.

Not that! Xander, blushing again, shouted.The other stuff. Thebad stuff. I dont want her to be traumatized by whatever that was about back there.

Oh, the vamps? Ron clarified. Dont worry, shell definitely forget. Unless you wake up in the middle of them, you always forget traumatic dreams. And shell probably get caught up in the making you pay for that last comment dreams to have a chance at remembering the vamps.

Xander chuckled. Yeah, she probably will. Thanks for the backup guys, I really appreciate it.

No prob Xan, Ron copied what Buffy had called him. Ill catch you later.Id like to get back to my own dreams, thank you very much. I was only here as part of that whole responsibility thing. Oh, and remember that path that appeared when you said Willows name? Just say my name and youll get another path that will lead you straight to mine, if you ever need my help.Kes, Im sure, is the same way.See you later Xan! And with that, the older god disappeared into the mists, despite the numerous objects Xander could now see, the mist was still there.

Mind if I hang with you for a bit? Kes asked Xander. This is the most excitement Ive had in years. I mean it!Vampires, helping you save a friend, the Hellmouth Last time I had this much action was back during World War 2.

Xander gawked at her. She noticed his look, seemed to be uncomfortable for a moment before asking indignantly, What?

Uhnothing, Xander had to remind himself about the whole immortal deal.

Remembering what Ron had told him, Xander turned and said aloud to the air, while imagining his friend at the same time, Buffy.Instantly, an amber gold path, lined with bright blue along the edges, appeared at the young gods feet and lead off into the distance, around a corner of a wall.

Come on, Xander invited Kes along and they both started to tread the path.

Nervous? Kes asked with a lopsided smile on her face.

Wouldnt you be? I mean the girl that I have been in love with from the moment I first saw her, who does not return my feelings in any way that I can define, I rescue from one of her own dreams, she then kisses me as reward and tonite I drag her into our other best friends dream to save her from two vampire alternates trying to take over her dream world, and then tells me in a tone that does not broke for argument, let alone hesitation, to meet her in her dreams so we can talk. No, of course Im not nervous.

Kes just giggled.

You arent helping, Xander bit out in annoyance.

I know, Kes giggled again.

It wasnt too much longer before the path ended and they were at Buffys dream door, which was behind a domed laser grid of supernatural energy, which Kes identified for Xander. Taking a deep breath, Xander, as he had the night before, placed his hand, palm first, against the laser grid/door.Immediately upon his touch, the entire grid disappeared in a wave of energy, leaving only the door, which soon opened.

Xander frowned when he saw nothing but complete darkness in the dream. Buffy? he tried calling out, and a moment later realized how foolish that was, since she would be frozen in her dream.

Xander looked back to Kes, who was also looking on with a mask of concern on her face. Go on. Ill wait out here.Besides, I always hated being the third wheel in a lovers quarrel.

What theHEY! Xander shouted when Kes pushed him through the open portal and waved bye-bye. Xander figured out why in the next second, as he started falling down the very deep black pit.

Ten seconds later, he landed. On a rocky outcropping in a disturbingly familiar cavern, complete with pasty-faced demon. Oh good, hes arrived, the Master said easily to the twelve-year-old boy turned Anointed One vampire.

Do we get to keep him? the Anointed One asked greedily.

Oh no, this is just a warning, the Master admonished. Maybe after the Slayers dream comes to pass, minus the boys interference that is, you can have him, but for now, this is just a warning.

A warning for who you albino freak reject! Xander grated as he got to his feet, his whole body aching like a dozen vamps had just given him a beating.

What a good idea! the Master suddenly exclaimed, and just like that, a dozen vamps came out of the shadows and started to beat on him. That is if they had actually reached him they would have.

Xander struck out as soon as he saw them coming at him. Moving with the superior speed and strength he had found himself to have in dreams, the vamps were easily no match as Xander knocked them back and away, almost all of them luckily landing on sharpened pieces of wood through the chest. The last two however, Xander tossed one onto a torch and it quickly burned away, and the last, looking right into the red eyes of the Master, tore its head off with his bare hands. Xander then repeated the same show of dusting off his hands and clothes.

Impressive, the Master said, indeed sounding impressed.Xander wasnt.

Warning for who you Chaplin-wannabe-reject?Me? I dont think so. This is the second time that Ive seen you in Buffys dreams. I dont want to even hear about you being back, or Ill give you nightmares. Xander said coldly, feeling empowered in the dream world.The dream world of a friend, he reminded himself.

See how unstable these mortals can get? the Master whispered conspiratorially to the Anointed One.

Who said I was mortal? Xander inserted, drawing attention back to him. Before the Master had turned his head back though, Xander was right in front of the vampire/demon. Im more powerful than you can imagine albino boy, and Ive got some equally powerful friends who can help me keep my promise about your nightmares if I hear that youre in Buffys anymore. Now get out of herebecause Ive already torn the heads off of two vampires tonight, I really dont mind doubling that.

The Master just stood there, trying to intimidate the boy, what he saw as a boy, with his demonic glare and visage.Xander didnt blink, he just stared cold death right back up at the red-eyed demon. Finally, the Master just snarled, snorted and turned around, drawing Colin to him with a wave of his arm. Then they, and the cavern, disappeared completely.

Leaving Xander in the park, sunlight raining down, and Buffy in a sundress smiling at him from the sandbox. Thanks, though it really wasnt needed, she said as way of greeting.

Xander shrugged. Im feeling confident after the whole debacle with Willow.

Im sure, Buffy said demurely. You do remember this is all a dream. As weird as things can get, as much like reality as they can seem some times, its still just a dream. Fantasy.

Vampires are supposed to be fantasy Buff, Xander said as he walked over next to some swings, leaning against the metal pole.

But theyre not, Buffy shot back.

Somaybe some dreams arent either, his tone gave Buffy all the clues about what he was really after.

I shouldnt have done that, Buffy stood up quickly and turned her back on him, I shouldnt have kissed you.

Why not? Xander demanded to know.

Because I dont have the feelings to back up what it could mean Xander! she shouted at him. II dontfeel that way about you, that you do about me. And Willow

What about Willow?

Shes in love with you Xander, she has been for a long time, you just refuse to see it, Buffy told him.

Says who? Xander almost screeched. In response, Buffy just rolled her eyes.

I mean who says I refuse to see it? Xander elaborated. Willow has been my friend for a long time, and I know how she wants to feel about me, if anything the dreams of hers that Ive seen have proven that, but Buffy thats not the whole picture.

Imoh darn whats the term? Xander asked the sky, then suddenly several clouds spelled out the term he was trying to think of. Uh, thanks, he told the sky.

Im basically just one big crush for Wills Buff, he turned the conversation back to Buffy, Im the focus of all her adolescent emotional roller coaster rides. Im a nice guy, even you have to admit that Buffster, and I take care of my friends, and that makes me a knight in shining armor compared to every other guy that Willow knows. Just because Im the only one that she has consciously admitted having feelings for does not mean that Im the only person on the planet that she does have feelings for.

Oh, and who else does Willow love like she loves you? Buffy asked, her face red from either anger or frustration Xander couldnt tell.

Well, theres you, Xander stated honestly, damning himself for the whole nothing but the truth, the whole truth, so help himself when in the dream worlds.

Buffy took a step back, her face falling.Wh-wh-what d-d-do you m-mean? she stuttered.

Before Xander could answer, the entire park changed half into the Bronze, and the half behind Buffy stayed the park, but without as much sunlight and more clouds. The half that Xander stood behind shown the final scenes of Willows dream that he had seen the night before. Buffy in a beautiful silk white gown sitting down to join the Willow in the Red Dress, who was being necked by a, safe, Xander in a tuxedo, and her feet getting kissed and worshiped by a Cordelia that took a wrong turn in a bondage magazine.

Ten seconds after it became clear that the date between Xander and Willow had turned into a date between Willow and Buffy, the park returned in full, but the clouds were still overcast.

Whoa boy, Buffy mumbled, sitting down on the edge of the sandbox again.

Ive known that shes been dealing with this issue since we were thirteen. Thats why Ive done my hardest to ignore her advances, and thats why we never started dating again. Jesse, as far as I knew, didnt have a clue, but he was more my friend than Willows, so he wouldnt have noticed. Xander confessed, joining her at the sandbox.

Howhow? Buffy couldnt get the question out.

How did I find out? Xander finished for her.He shrugged. At first I thought the swimsuit magazines were the whole, I wanna look like that when I grow up, but then you get into the single issue of Playboy, in the garbage mind you, followed by an accidental sneak peak at her diary, where within lies a single page of the full spread from said tossed out Playboy, thats sayin a whole lot more. Willow is confused right now Buff, and she doesnt need me messing up whats going on in her head, because I only love her like a sister. I cant give her what she needs, and Id probably end up turning her off of guys all together when we broke up. Note I said when.

Buffy sighed. I so dont want to remember that when I wake up, she said, mentioning the image Xander had unwittingly shown her.

Xander shrugged. Ron says that so long as you dont wake up in the middle of them, you dont remember traumatic dreams.

Says him, Buffy stuck her tongue out at Xander.

Xander smiled friendly at the Slayer but didnt really rise to the bait. For some reason he felt tired.

Xanderthe kiss was just a heated way of saying thank you, Buffy explained. There was noI dont feel the feelings for you Xan, just like you dont for Will.Im sorry.

You felt something though, Xander accused, controlling his anger remarkably.

What does yellow mean again? Buffy asked, calmly understanding and shooting down his anger.

Xander deflated as quickly as hed gotten angry.Friendship, he answered quietly.Buffy nodded.

See you in the morning Xander, Buffy said as he started to fade away.

Night Buff, he said just before he, and the dream itself, vanished.

Summers Home

Xander let out a long, slow sigh as he returned to his own mind and started to dream normally. His mind still new to this and needing to adapt still to all the changes it was still going through. They had all been asleep for less than ten minutes.

Buffy suddenly started awake on the couch.She didnt cry out, but looked wildly around, remembering where she was, and then remembering what she could about the dream shed just had. She didnt remember anything about what had happened on the other side of the vortex (Willows dream), or what had happened between stepping into it and suddenly being in the sunlit park again with Xander. She did remember her conversation with him, and his revelation about Willow that she never would have guessed in a million years. Then her mind dredged up that article that everybody knew about that said 80% of all women in this day and age may harbor bi-sexual feelings, or at the least has experimented before theyre thirty. Thankfully her mother was pushing forty.

Buffy took a deep breath and lay back down on the couch. She looked over and noticed that both Xander and Willow were still sound asleep. Funny, considering what had been happening in the dream realm so far tonight. Buffy just lay there, looking up at the ceiling for the rest of the night. She didnt get much sleep.

Chapter 2

It had been over a week since his Awakening, and Xander was just beginning to understand what Ron and Kes were talking about when they said just because his powers had fully matured, did not mean he knew how to use them yet. And there was always room for growth.

Fortunately, the worst of it came at the end, over the weekend, Xanders senses finished their maturing and he spent the entire weekend having every single one of his senses pushed beyond more limits of pain, pleasure, and sensation than any other human could ever imagine. Xander, since he had to live at home, managed to get by, by hearing, smelling, and tasting the worst combination of elements that humans could experience. Compared to two and a half days of his home life in surreal 4-D quality, everything else the world had to offer was sweeter than candy.

He also learned to tune his senses, so that he immediately focused in on one scent or sound rather than experiencing the whole world at super sense level, and the rest of the time he managed to keep his senses at the normal human level.

Xander also noticed the other physical aspects of his maturing powers continue to grow over the week, and one aspect in particular.Good thing that he had the excuse of a good lunch with free twinkies to answer Willows persistent questions of why he was smiling so much on Friday. It wouldnt be good to announce to the whole school that his endowment now exceeded the majority of all the other males at Sunnydale High. Not that he compared.

Xanders strength and speed and even his endurance levels had peaked to higher than he ever would have imagined possible before.Keeping in mind his promise to Ron and Kes about no displaying powers in public, Xander took this to heart and made sure to keep up what was now totally an act of geeky nobody at the bottom of the High School food chain. And though he could now probably stake vamps as well as Buffy could, even on patrol, Xander just hung back and stuck to the normal routine he had. He also had the added responsibility of keeping Willow safe, at least he told himself that to make up for the ego blows his forced secret identity gave him.

It was now Tuesday, and the entire Sophomore class was here at the Sunnydale Zoo, officially for Science class, but mostly just because it had become routine that while the Seniors went to the Beach, the Juniors went to the Museum, and the Freshmen went to the Cheese Factory, the Sophomores went to the Zoo.

Unfortunately, Buffy was not exactly getting into the spirit of things. Wellits nothing. We used to do the whole zoo trip every year at my old school. Same ole, same ole.

Xander couldnt help himself as he rolled his eyes.What made this different was that for the past minute, ever since he and Willow had come racing up to share the albeit gross excitement over the zebra fiasco, he had been feeling Buffys boredom, as well as a minor bit of self-depreciation and general depression, but over what he couldnt identify.Mostly he just focused himself on turning those feelings on their heels.

So with a smile in his voice, he admonished the Slayer. Buffy this is not just about looking at a bunch of animals, this is about not being in class! Then he and Willow looked at her expectantly.

As expected, her face slowly changed from depressed boredom to a slight smile bordering on the mischievous type. You know youre right, she suddenly realized.Suddenly all of the animals look shiny and new!

Gotta have perspective, Xander nodded his head to agree.

Although the zebra thing was pretty cool, Willow inserted, trying to get into the conversation.

Xander smiled, somehow feeling Willows desire to be included again. Buffy sated and feeling in the spirit of field tripping again, he hastily moved to agree with his best friend, sounding excited and youthfully exuberant all again.Yeah, you shoulda been there Buff, especially the way the guy zebra wooed the girl by buying her flowers and taking her to see I dream of Africa first. Then there was this involved process of the guy jumping the girls bones.

Buffy just gave him an incredulous look, which thankfully he took as a sign to be quiet now.

Instead of listening, wholly, to Willows answering reply, he decided to train himself a bit and see if he could hear either girls thoughts. He hadnt really had as much luck with that as hed have wished, seeing the advantage of hearing what women want from him and all, but as Kes reminded him so often in his dreams, practice makes a god, not lounging about waiting for it to happen on its own. Despite all that, the nightly lessons he received from her and Ron in his dreams helped him deal with his bodys new capabilities.

As they walked along, Xander concentrated on quieting his own inner thoughts and sought out Buffy and Willows minds.Both surprising and unsurprising, the first thoughts that he heard were Willows, while Buffy he couldnt get a whisper out of, though he still felt her emotions. The trick to emotions Kes had taught him early on, and wasnt really a mental power, but a high-speed analysis of a persons body language.People broadcast their emotional states so much more than they are aware of just in the way they move.

Willows thoughts however left his head spinning and wishing that he had waited until he was sitting before training.

I wonder what Xander thought of the zebras. I wonder if it gave him any ideas. It certainly gave me some ideas. Why is Xander so quiet all of a sudden? Maybe I should change the subject, how do I get him to notice me, and how the heck can I make him mine, and how

Xander shook his head, rubbing his temple slightly as he let go Willows thoughts. It was giving him a headache at how loud her thoughts were, not to mention she had literally broadcast them for him to hear, while speaking very rapidly at Buffy about the zebra experience. Oh, wait, shes changed the subject already.

Xander caught back up with reality from his momentary loss with his training, and saw what Willow had asked a question about.

What are Kyle and his buds doing with Lance?

Oh, playing with him like a cat plays with a mouse, Xander said certainly, a feeling of great annoyance coming from Buffy.That was when the shield around Buffys thoughts finally broke, and Xander caught a glimpse of a memory of what had happened to Buffy just before he and Willow had raced up. Xander frowned for a moment as he considered what Buffy might actually do if she were the one to go after the crew, and she was already on pretty thin ice with Principal Flutie.

What is it with those guys? Buffy asked, her annoyance coming clearer through her voice than her thoughts.

Oh, theyre obnoxious, Willow answered, Professionally.

Well every school has them, Xander supplied, finding the fact fascinating in itself while at the same time hoping to distract Buffy from trouble. You get your desks, some blackboards, and some mean kids.

Yeah well I better track

Ill handle it, Xander hurried to intercede.This is a job that doesnt require any actual slaying, he tried to put an easy mood into his voice in hopes of not offending. And the slight swelling of pride that he could handle something the Buffster didnt need to didnt hurt either.

With that, he ducked under the tape and hurried after the group. He also focused his senses, well two of them anyway, ahead so he knew what to expect.That same night vision thing happened when he entered the darkness of the caves as well as being able to hear what Kyle and his gang were doing to Lance.

I dont see any hyenas, he heard Lance say.Which ofcourse is when he heard a low growl that seemed to be echoed throughout the entire cave, followed by some yipping barks that almost sounded like laughter.

OK, now weve seen it, lets go, Lance said, fear in his voice. Xander quickened his pace.

It looks cute, he heard one of the girls say, Rhonda he thinks.

I think it looks hungry, he heard Kyle say just before sounds of a struggle reached his superhuman ears. Come on Spot, supper time!

Ow! Ow!Come on guys, its not funny!OW! Stop it! Stop it! Lance started shouting for help.

Xander stepped in just in time to see the four of them about to shove Lance over the railing and into the Hyena pit, several of the predators were already gathering, their mean yellow eyes glittering.The young god didnt hesitate after that. He didnt even notice the red marks on the floor glowing as soon as he stepped into the circle. He just easily picked Lance out of their grasp and threw him back out of the circle, out of harms way.

Hey! he shouted, even going so far as to violently pull the rest of them back, Why dont you pick on someone your own species?

What, are you gonna get in my face? Kyle stepped up, ready to retaliate.

A sudden low and loud growl drew all five of their attentions to the lone hyena that was standing there. The others were hidden in the shadows so even Xander couldnt see them. Not that he, or any of the others were looking at the hidden ones. They were looking at the one with the mean, glowing yellow eyes. Yellow eyes that filled their visionand drowned them within the hyena itself.

Xander didnt know what was happening. He felt likelikehe was being wrapped up by some net or rope that couldnt be seen, only felt, and then drug down, forcefully into a place at the back of his own mind. He tried to scream out, but the all-encompassing eyes of the hyena drowned him out. His silent scream echoed in the abyss of his own mind.


The Hyena

What a glorious body this one is! Compared to our natural form, this one is far superb!And its senses! Almost equal, no, in fact better than equal to our own.His strength is also surprising.And I believed that humans were weak.When the stupid zookeeper tried to tap our power before, we resisted, refused to show him how to take our power, let alone give it to him.

This one howeverthis one is more than worthy, he is almost an animal himself, but restrained by weak emotions of sympathy and compassion. The only loyalty one should ever have is to the Pack, and our pack is strong. With me as Alpha ofcourse.

Through our spirit bond we can hear and know where the others of our pack are at all timesbut this one, thisXanderhe is different. He can sense them through different means. No matter. Whatever other powers this body may or may not possess, I control it now, effortlessly and easily thanks to the magicks the zookeeper set up. Anything else is meaningless to me.

Hyena hears, no senses the weak human the hosts had been preying on before the Pack took them. The Pack turns and regards him as the prey turns and runs. We are so exhilarated that we do not give chase. Besides, we arent hungry. I turn and watch him leave, the cave as bright as the plains of home on a hunting night. Brighter almost it seems.I smile as I look forward to the fun I can have in this body. But first, we must learn about our hosts, so as not to be forced back to our lower existence too soon.


Xander slowly came to, his eyes staying closed until he was fully aware once more, and when they finally did open, he wished that he hadnt. Xander was in something like the Inbetweenbut different. Very different. Things also felt familiar, but changed from the way they had been. Finally, he realized that he was somewhere inside of his own mind.

What the? he almost asked himself, but as he got to his feet, he realized the answer before he knew it himself.Somethingsomebody else was in his mind/body, and was currently the one controlling said body.

Xander spun around, trying to get a better look at the place he had woken in. It wasnt that much different from the battleground in Willows dream world when he had fought the two vamp Willows that had been trying to take over his best friends mind. Only there were subtle differences.

For one thing, he knew beyond all doubt that this was his mind, as he had then known that the white battlefield had been Willows dream world. And it wasnt totally pure white, at least not as much as Willows had been. Herehis was just a tad bitdarker.As though there were something covering or casting a shadow on this place. Oh, and then there was the cage.

Unlike the cage the demons had trapped Willow in, which had been invisible except when being hit by a god, Xander could easily and clearly see these bars, and they werent modeled after a cartoon cage either.In fact it seemed to stem from every possible source of cages as inspiration for its construction, save for anything that would overtly obstruct Xanders view to the outsideor the outside viewers in. From barb wire all around it, in and out, to tiny fence work, to crisscrossed bars like the more common and modern jail cells, not to say anything of movies, but *actual* jail cells.

And then there was the fact that the entire construction was translucent as though made from really weird plex-glass, Xander had no clue how to handle any of this. OK, uh, what the hell is going on here? I mean, I just try and do the right thing, keeping Buff out of trouble while Im at it, and even do the macho thing in standing up to a bunch of bulliesand the next thing I know, Im some kind of prisoner in my own mind? Xander asked himself incredulously.

Shows you to know better than to butt into other peoples business, a laughing, and darkly ominous, voice from beyond the cage answered Xanders question.

What the?! Xander spun about, trying to identify the source.

Dont even bother. Im the one that has taken over your body, remember? For somebody with so much power, you dont know much about how it works, do you? the voice began to laugh at him.

Xander scowled and just looked in general upward and shouted at the voice, Who are you? What have you done to me? Let me out of here before I break out and believe me, I know I can make you sorry.You have no idea the kind of power I have! Unlike he would be in reality, Xander was not bluffing and didnt even sound the slightest bit unsure that he could make good on his threat. Unfortunately, the Hyena knew better.

A cackling and slightly disturbing laughter rang throughout the entire place that was a small corner of Xanders own mind, (known for now as Xanders Cage), before the voice finally answered back to Xanders challenge.You patheticcreature! it laughed some more. I am the spirit of the Hyena. A fool of a wizard, unworthy of my power, has allowed me to possess you, and with that magic, you are bound within your own mind, helpless before my will.I will admit, you have quite an impressive amount of power, even for this so called race of gods, which I have never even known of. And Ive been around for a while. Ive even further bound you up with your own power just to keep you more out of my fur than the others of my pack have to deal with.

Xander frowned in confusion as he digested all that the Hyena had told him. Because it was the same as the Inbetween, he knew it to be the truth. Even evil spirits possessing him had to follow the rule of no lying here. At least its not a vampire demon, Xander thought gratefully to himself.

Why? Xander growled after a few moments silence between him and the Hyena.

Again, that same disturbing laughter. Why not!! It screeched its laughter as its answer. It was then that the torture began.

Xander watched in morbid fascination, through the bars of this cage in his mind, his senses were still transmitting data to him.But it was distanced, more like he was watching a movie of what his body was doing, with full sensory application, from behind the cage. And at the moment, he was watching Lance scramble out of the Hyena house and listening to the others of the Hyenas pack laugh in that same sickening tone that the Hyena laughed at him with. He also felt his body, not of its own volition, smile wickedly at the retreating figure.

Thankfully, Xander could not hear what the Hyena was thinking, nor was he a part of the spirit bond that made them a Pack.However it wasnt long before he noticed the coordination and became aware of the existence of the bond.

Xander couldnt stand a moment more though, and before he actually thought about it, he launched himself at his cage, planning, (if one could call it an actual plan), on the same thing happening when he broke down the demonic cage holding Willow. The opposite happened of course. As soon as he was within a foot of the cage itself, the entire structure lit up so that it looked like it was made from real lightning and then a force that Xander could not identify, struck him and knocked the young god back to the center of the cage.

He had expected some resistance, but nothing like this. His entire bodymental body, ached in ways and places that he never imagined *could* exist! His chest, where his body had first encountered the force, was smoking slightly, and a scorch mark was rapidly healing before his eyes. He could barely even move and his mental senses were practically useless with a ringing in his ears, spots before his eyes, and his every part hurting like he was dying.

The Hyena, of course, found it all hilarious and didnt stop laughing until long after Xander lost consciousness.

The Hyena

The Hyena walked into the Bronze, full of confidence, a predatory grin on his face, and a look of pure contempt for everyone around him. In short, he walked in like a predator. Nobody even noticed. His host had a reputation for being either invisible or a nice guy. If he wasnt the latter, he was the prior. The Hyena didnt really mind, he had other things he was thinking about.

Like that first scent he caught as he entered.

Buffy, the Hyena identified with a possessive growl. The only other being worthy of being his mate, or at least not prey. He would make her his.

At that moment however, another girl, with potential, crossed the Hyenas field of vision. Uncharacteristic of Xander though, the predator that inhabited his body made the girl fully aware that he was checking her out. Through his sense of smell he could instantly tell the girl appreciated his time to admire her body.

When he turned around, he suddenly found himself right in front of Buffy and Willows table. Keeping in mind to keep up the nature of his host, as absolutely beneath it was to him now, the Hyena put on a goofy grin and said in a typical Xander tone, Girls! as greeting.

Boy! Buffy said right back with a disappointed look on her face disappearing as he walked around behind her. He purposely ignored both Willows incessant staring at him, and the trapped voice from within.

She was probably thinking about Angel again, the real Xander said from within his cage.

Shut up! the Hyena growled at him.

Sorry Im late, the Hyena excused, keeping up the act. I justforgot that we were gonna be here. At that moment he noticed that his future mate had food in front of her, and his body, and instincts, made him aware of his hunger that had been present for several hours now. Hungry he trailed off as he picked up the food and began to shove it into his mouth.He hadnt yet noticed what he was eating though.

In a desperate attempt to get the boy of her dreams (in more ways than one) to notice her, Willow asked her friend, Xander, want me to still help you with Geometry tomorrow? We can work after class.

Finally, after swallowing it down with Buffys coke, the Hyena had noticed what he was eating. What the hell?!Birds live off this stuff!

Grimacing as he swallowed the croissant, the Hyena said distractedly, Yeah, then he pointed down at the half-eaten pastry and added, What is this crap?

Well, Buffy said with a tone of annoyance in her voice, it was my buttery croissant.

Neither of them noticed the devastated look on Willows face as Xander ignored her again. Or so it appeared.

Man, I need some food! the Hyena complained, Birds live on this!

Not even the arrogant Hyena could have missed the concerned and confused glances that Buffy and Willow cast each other.He quickly made to correct his error in behavior. What? the Hyena asked, trying to act part like prey and part from the memories he had access to from his host.

Theyre gonna figure it out! Xander taunted the Hyena.

What is up with you? Buffy asked, sounding concerned and put off at the same time. Not something the Hyena wanted in his future mate.

Is something wrong? Did I do something? Willow meekly asked, always the first to blame herself or to help a friend. In that order.

What could you possibly do? Thats crazy talk! Im justrestless, the Hyena excused, when he suddenly caught a far more compelling scent. Combined with everything else in the air, the hormones, the sweat, and the bodies.It was almost intoxicating. Even the trapped Xander had to appreciate the euphoria of enhanced senses inside the Bronze.

Well, we could go to the ice cream place, Willow suggested.

I like it here, the Hyena said distractedly.His head turned closer to the blonde beside him. Taking deeper breaths, he found he could keep her scent longer than the casual breaths he had been taking so far.

After a couple seconds, Buffy seemed to finally notice that Xander was sniffing her. OK, now what? she asked, starting to get a bit angry, but still more concerned.

You took a bath, the Hyena said, still distracted. In the spirits opinion, in fact in all animals opinion, things smelled better when they were not washed.

Yeah, I-I often do, Buffy said, a bit off-balance by her friends behavior, Im actually known for it.

Thats OK, the Hyena forgave. He planned on ridding her of that habit after he claimed her. The spirit easily blocked out his hosts cries of outrage.

Willow frowned. She saw everything a lot clearer than Buffy apparently was. Or at least she saw the surface. Buffy glanced at her, but the redhead didnt change her expression. Buffy just took it as a mirror for her own concern rather than the cloud of jealous indignation that it actually was.

And the weird behavior award goes to Buffy sarcastically remarked. Rather than returning the jibe, the Hyena instantly turned towards the door. His Pack had just walked in.

It was an invigorating feeling, having the Pack so close, and his mate right next to him. Well, future-mate, whatever. He would deal with semantics later. The details didnt change the pure elation of confidence and security and power he got from the combined presence of Pack and Slayer in the same space. It was never doubted among the Pack that he would be Alpha. His host was more than powerful enough to guarantee him the position, without any argument from any of the Pack.

It was then that he sensed the conflict within them through the spirit bond. Their hosts were already considered a pack by society, so them hanging out together was never questioned. His host however, was almost always seen at odds with theirs, and he was forced, for the time being, to pretend to still be Xander Harris with Xanders friends. Unfortunately, for the possessing spirits, that meant that the Pack and their Alpha were forced to spend more time apart than was accustomed.When the Pack stopped before Buffy and Willows table, the Hyena just stared neutrally back into their faces.

Through the spirit bond however, a wealth of communication was going on. Kyle, the second in the Pack, wanted to lead, the undercurrent of jealousy and desire of power coursing through the link like an underground river, but Kyles mate, Rhonda, had no problem with the current setting of power within the Pack and was trying to calm him, physically their hands holding. The other two were just waiting for a decision to be made and a command from the Alpha.

<Go. Stay near by, but go. We cannot afford risking detection just yet. These have ways of finding ways to reverse the spell. Go. Ill take care of the Slayer.> The Hyena commanded. They quickly moved on after that.

The Hyena, and subsequently Buffy and Willow, watched them go for a moment. Kyle, in the absence of the Alpha, took lead of the Pack and quickly circled for some fun, and he didnt have to look for long.

Like the well-organized killing machine they were, the Pack circled around a group not too far away, Kyle stalking right up to the center of the group. Leaning down over the guy sitting there, Kyle said, only mildly masking the threat, I dont understand why your sitting at our table.

Yeah, shouldnt you be hovering over the football stadium with Goodyear written on you? Rhonda teased/insulted.Immediately the entire Pack started laughing almost hysterically, Hyena-Xander included.

The Hyena turned back around, now confident of his Pack and finally saw the mostly concerned, but partially wigged looks Buffy and Willow were giving him.

It wasnt that funny, Xander thought to the Hyena, And in case you forgot, I DONT PICK ON PEOPLE! Theyre going to find out!

Kids fat, the Hyena explained, rationalizing that Xander often found things being funny where others were lost. Oh thats great, now hes using my own sense of humor against me! Xander fumed.

Buffy and Willow just shared more concerned glances with one another and then apparently decided that it wasnt worth arguing over, or at least that Xander was entitled to one night of non-interrogation weirdness, and went back to enjoying the teen atmosphere. The Hyena finally relaxed, enough to more easily fit the role of Xander, having dodged the bullet.

For now, the real Xander reminded it. For now.



I dont know how long its been in control.I dont know how long Ive been inside this cage in my own mind. And I have no idea how the hell my thoughts suddenly became the narrative. I guess when youre in your own mind, things get weird, even to yourself.

Damn, its only been two weeks, barely, since I found out about me being a god and everything. One night of really freaky dreamsand some too-vivid dream walking to count off to what I ate before bedand I accept a whole new lifestyle slash life with barely batting an eyebrow. And the two who introduced me to this life I havent even heard from since that night. Yeah, I get lessons in the Inbetween, but those lessons are just their advice and basic Q&A about the Inbetween really. While Ive been sorely tempted on several occasions to knock the whole thing off saying its delusions of my overworked imagination, well, I just cant.

Despite the fact that more than enough evidence exists in my body alone to prove what Kes and Ron told me, there is also that deep down in my center I knew it was all true. Even the stuff about Warlords. But they said not to worry about Warlords, Im beneath their radar or something like that.

Too bad they couldnt have warned me about animal possession. I put two and two together real fast after the events at the Bronze. Other than the Hyena Pack behavior, and the whole animal dominance thing, there was fact number one as to why I, and I use the term very loosely in this case, am the Leader of the Pack. My powers. My Human powers that is. Still havent figured out what my special skill is, or even if I have one yet.

Anyway, like last week, my body finished its Awakening, which is what Kes called it, so all of my Human powers are like fully active right now. My only problem lies in learning how to use them, or even turn them on. I was just getting a hold of the telepathy thing right when this possession thing happened.

But the Hyena hasnt used my telepathy. Or any other of my powers. Even my near-superhuman-but mostly max-human strength, it was using to the bare minimum. My senses however, that is what it was interested in. It loved my full sensory input, which despite its bragging I think might be better than its own in its original body. But it also held back from using them to the full potential.

During the tail end of my Awakening, when all my senses and physical human powers went to Max output, I learned quite a lot about what they could do now. For starters, my sight. My eyes have about six or seven different, what I like to call spectrum modes.Normal light is what everybody sees and uses for their key sense of sight. Ive got about 20/20x1000 vision. Meaning that I see things in crystal clarity, but I can also see farther with not only greater accuracy, but with full color vision as well. Most people that see out of the corner of their eye, see in black and white (Ive read), but, and Ive tested this, I see it in full, 100% true color.

Then, theres my night vision, which unlike most night-vision devices, and a number of animals I might add, is also in full color. In fact, in pitch-blackness, without even a source of light, I see about like most normal people do during the day. Then there was what I, after a bit of net research (Willow had given me the basics when we had first shared a computer class), found out was called Light-amplification. Which, actually, was exactly what I had first thought of it as; thousands, (or in my case billions) of images captured in a single second overlaid on top of each other, leaving only the best and highest-qualities of each image to present one perfect image that allowed for a clarity of vision that even my daytime 20/20x1000 couldnt rival.

Then there were the last two basic vision spectrums that I had; Low-frequency light, and High-frequency light.High-frequency gave me a headache less than a minute after I first discovered it. High-frequency light was everything above normal light that humans could not normally see. In short, the Ultra-violet spectrum.Which, interestingly enough included both X-ray, and invisible light. Invisible light was not all it was cracked up to be. All it told me was, that I could interpret anyway, was where, what, and how intense radiation was near me. Oh, and whenever I look at the sun, my eyesight always overloaded. At least when Im in the High-frequency mode.X-ray, thank you Creator, was all it was cracked up to be and more.Unfortunately, I cant generate x-rays like Superman could on TV, movies and in the comics, so that meant that I couldnt see through a girls clothing or into the locker room whenever I wanted.First, it had to be daytime, second, I have to be outside, and third, whatever I wanted to see through had to be bathed in sunlight, not even a shadow on it, otherwise, wherever the shadow was, was a place I cant see through. And there were other High-frequency lights that I have fun with too, really cool colors.

Low-frequency light was, of course, just the opposite of High. Infrared, heat vision, (in the sense of seeing heat signatures), and a bit of other Low-frequency spectrums were just as interesting, and useful, as the High. In fact, with the heat vision, it was actually better since I realized that it would allow me to identify vampires faster and with 100% accuracy. Hopefully.

Thats pretty much it as far as my eyes are concerned with my vision. Thats where my other senses come in. That first night, where Id gone blind, I had realized, (after experiencing it a couple more times) that Id just over-loaded my eyes, them being in Light-Amp mode and looking directly at a light source. So, to immediately make up for it, all of my other senses, as Kes and Ron had told me, kicked in to cover for the temporary absence of my eyes.

The first that I had noticed was my hearing.It wasnt that I actually *saw* sound waves, but that my hearing was so attuned to my sight at that moment that it was more like biological radar than seeing sound waves. And, I learned, through much pain, trial and error, it was not just straight-forward like my eyes normally work. It was full 360 full-sound radar vision. It took me a lot longer than Id like to admit to get used to it, in fact I was still having trouble with fully and accurately interpreting it by the time of the zoo field trip.

The second, was my sense of touch. One thing Im grateful for, it could be tuned, with just a flip of a switch in my mind here, to either pain, pleasure, or the normal both. As much as turning off all pain was tempting, I know better than to give into that kinda temptation. Pain taught lessons, and made you stronger. And, just to get used to it, Id actually spent an hour with my sense of touch on nothing but pain. Let me tell you now, that was both the most intense hour of my life, and quite possibly the longest. But, when it came to taking over for my other senses I found, say my hearing or sight, pain and pleasure went completely out the window. They were little more than input facts of intensity and location. I also found that where hearing gave me 360-vision, my skin gave me 1260 vision.(By the way, thats 180x7, just so you know) If you think having sonar for sight in cool, just wait until every little air current that hits your body, or vibration through the ground, or passing through the air, or even the radiation of particle from the sun, space, and the very Earth are what youre using to see and that is intense. And believe it or not, its actually easier to interpret than my radar is.Unfortunately it is also somewhat limited to whatever my skin can feel around me, so long-distance vision is not an option. Not that Id use it that way.No, this kind of vision is meant for only two things. Sex, and fighting. Think about that. Youll get it.

And then theres when my touch can take over for my hearing, and that is both confusing and migraine worthy. Remember, sound is vibration, and I end up hearing a train on the other side of the town if I walk barefoot, and at the same time EVERY single person in Sunnydale, what theyre talking about, what theyre driving, and what Note to self: NEVER use touch to replace hearing.

Smell and taste, believe it or not, can also cover for vision, and are two of the only senses that rarely, if ever, would get overloaded. Besides, even Im not too sure how sight could cover for smell.

And speaking of which, that is one of only two of my super senses that Hyena is interested in. Smell, and Light-Amp. At least its all its been interested in so far. Maybe cause those are the only two types of my senses that its familiar with. Or comfortable with.

Oh gawd, if the Hyena actually did start using my full powers, Buff and Wills would be in serious trouble. More than just Im possessed, its not really me, hes not really your bestest friend! but Oh god, it cant be stopped, it killed them and worse!

That little thing about mind control Ron mentioned is weighing heavily on my caged mind right now.

Oh yeah, about that, at first the Hyena was reading my every thought and taunting me by leaving me in the cage. But while I was unconscious it got, and stayed, distracted enough for me to wake up and learn how to keep it from reading my thoughts. A little something Ron had said when he first mentioned the telepathy to me, I could read others unguarded thoughts. It made sense that the Hyena was the same way. So, I figured out a way, and started guarding my thoughts.

Its not that hard really. You just dont think to yourself, just internalize your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and then come up with something to keep at the forefront of your mind while youre thinking. Some kind of image or song would do just fine. Ive been banging out Jailhouse Rock and Ive got the Blues, (of varying themes) ever since I came to, just before the Hyena got to the Bronze, when I reminded him that I was supposed to meet Buffy and Willow there.

Unfortunately, that damned cage is still in place, despite the Hyena being quiet for the past few hours. One thing though, that me and the animal thats possessed me have in common, which Im glad of, is an intense dislike of vampires and demons.

So rather than turn in and go home to bed after the Bronze, we went hunting. After dealing with at least a few dozen vamps in dreams, imagined or not, and combined with the full awakening of my powers and the Hyenas ruthless cunning, and the Pack playing as well in the background, any vamps we came across were easily taken out. To continue on the Unfortunately path, to the Hyena and Pack, hunting does not mean killing vampires to save the rest of the world. Hunting means looking for food.

I will never have a dog. I will never eat dog meat. Ever again. Please note the word again.

Finally, just for the sake of keeping up appearances, and because he told them to, the Hyena and Pack went to our individual homes to sleep until morning. And as far as I know, as the sensory input has been lowered down to next to nuthin, the Hyena went to sleep about an hour ago.

You ever wondered if animals dream? Well apparently they dont, or at least animal spirits dont. The mindscape before me hasnt changed a bit, and whatever the hell it is that is the spirit link to the others of the Pack, while not as noisy as when they were together, was noisy enough that it kept me from even trying to get some semblance of sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I dont even know if its possible, with me being in a cage and all, to go to the Inbetween to ask for Kes and Rons help, let alone dream at all since my consciousness is already on the dreamscape of my mind. Well, thats my decision slash debate here really. Do I sit up all night wondering what to do, or do I get some sleep on the bottom of my cage and hope that despite being trapped inside my own mind, that I can still dream and still call for help from the others of my kind.

Oh gawd how I hate these kinds of decisions!

The Hyena

The boy actually thinks he can keep his thoughts from me? the Hyena thought to itself as it curled up to rest, both in the physical world and in the mental one of Xanders mind. And despite the Hyenas boasts and even the truths about itself, Xander could keep his thoughts, at least when he was blocking, from the invading animal spirit. Which of course is why it was so upset at the moment.

The host was not supposed to be stronger than the invading spirit. It defied and denied everything that the Hyena believed in and knew to be true.But Xander was stronger than the Hyena spirit. Much stronger. If it hadnt been for the magic, then the spirit would have already been cast out, shortly after Xander tried to escape his cage the first time. If the positions were reversed, the Hyena would not have even been taken at all. The spirit had existed for almost thousands of years, ever since the first Masai had cast it into a person, and the first thing that it learned was that the strong survive and the weak are overtaken. Survival of the fittest.

But herethe host was the fittest, the strongestand he had been overtaken. It was a growing conflict with the Hyena, but it would never become enough of one where it would consider willingly giving up the body that made it leader of the Pack. Speaking of which, it could hear the others through the spirit bond. All of them were having nightmares, being too far away from and isolated from the rest of the Pack. Except it. It couldnt afford to even rest, even now that annoying Elvis music poured forth from the cage beneath the level of consciousness the Hyena stayed on, meaning that Xander was thinking, and didnt want the Hyena to know what he was thinking, and that meant that the cunning and inexperienced god was trying to come up with a plan to overthrow him.

Thats it, the Hyena inspired upon.Experience; that was the deciding factor. The young god had absolutely no experience in dealing with spirits, possession, or magics beyond what hed encountered in aiding the Slayer <future mate> and seen in passing. Knowing that this strong animal was actually little more than a cub among elephants (AN: hyenas cant take down an elephant, can they?) eased some of the Hyenas tension and stress over why Xander had been taken. If planned right, even the most powerful animal in the world, with enough cunning, could be taken.

Once this was realized, the Hyena rested better and soon actually rested itself, having Xanders body curl up on the floor near the open window. And shortly after it was comfortable enough, it, and Xanders body, was fast asleep.

Xanders Cage

It happened so fast that Xander didnt even try and think through what happened, but one second the cage had been there, omni-present and sturdy as ever. The next, he had noticed the Hyena appear on the other side of the cage, and then layer-by-layer, his prison began to dissolve, until it was completely gone.

The moment he was free, Xander didnt waste a moment of it. He was no fool. Even if he could get to the Hyena without being put back in the cage, he would have to battle with it for his own mind, a battle that could potentially last a lot longer than the only other dream-battle hed fought. Then there was the mentioning of magics the Hyena had mentioned. His only hopewas to be nowhere in his mind.

Xander ran for the exit point/dream door and stepped through it so fast, he didnt even bother to notice the elation entering the Inbetween always gave him. Once he was out, he was surprised to find himself surrounded by four dome-walls.The ever present mist didnt hide the fact that they were a sickly yellow amber that vaguely reminded Xander of the Hyenas eyes.

Xander only paused long enough to be surprised before he quickly moved on, through the walls, careful to avoid the dream doors however.

Once he was past, Xander started running until he got to what could be called an open area and shouted as loud as he could with all his will to back it up. RON! KES! HELP ME!

Unknown to the young god, he had just tapped into one of his mental human powers, and in the Inbetween, were mental impressions were magnified and enhanced; his power displayed quickly became evident.

A loud wind picked up at Xanders shout, and then slowly spread outward in a cyclone of energy and wind. Xanders eyes flashed lightning into the wind, igniting the energy so a mini-firestorm was created before he finally noticed what happened and almost panicked, immediately losing what little concentration hed had that created it, and it just as quickly dispersed into nothing.

A half-second after the firestorm was fully gone, Ron, Kes, and another of their kind appeared at the ends of paths.

Xander? Whats wrong? Youve never put so much energy into summoning us before, Kes asked concerned, very concerned for her was anybody elses out and out panic.

Ive been possessed, Xander stated in a desperate tone. The firestorm hed created completely gone from his mind.

Excuse me? the new guy said. Xander took but a second to look at him. He was actually about Xanders height, a couple inches taller, what Xander would be in a couple years anyway, with a mix of dark brown and light brown hair styled the same as Rons, he had a similar muscular build as Ron, but the lack of height made it appear more compact and folded steel compared to mountains of rock, and he had a white complexion. His clothes included the same black leather jacket and armor and a weapon strapped to his back that Kes and Ron had. Instead of a sword though, he had a high-powered pump shotgun, which impressed Xander more than Rons size had.

Beneath the jacket and armor though, he wore a fine white silk shirt, and pressed black dress pants. His shoes at least were practical enough, ordinary black work boots.The man looked 21 as the other two did, but his brown/black eyes held an age with them that one is cursed with when experience is had. He also looked like he was a man of authority, and accustomed to that authority.Xander immediately and strongly disliked him.

Ive been possessed smart guy! Xander snapped.I dont know exactly what happened, I think maybe the Hyena went to sleep and that allowed my own consciousness to dream. And thereby access the Inbetween. I dont have any idea how long I have, but I do know that if I dont get help, this animal is going to destroy my life, and I dont mean in the make me lose all my friends kinda way, but more like going to kill every one of my friends and land me either in jail for manslaughter or just plain dead destroy my life. Please guys, youve got to help me!

All right, first Xander Kes tried to speak.

DO NOT TELL ME TO CALM DOWN KES! Xanders eyes flashed again and another mini-cyclone started and instantly died directly behind the young god.

She was silent for a moment, just staring, and then slowly, and carefully she said, Then tell us everything that happened.Every detail that you can recall, no matter how faint.

OK, OK, Xander calmed down on his own, organizing his thoughts. Then he looked back up, with a much calmer tone of voice he apologized. Im sorry Kes, you didnt deserve that. Now whos the new guy, not that Im complaining, because I need all the help I can get.

Im suddenly regretting coming, the new guy said sighing deeply. He extended his hand, My name is Diz. Short for Drow Isaacs Siegfried the fifth. Im one of Ronsolder friends. He added with a chuckle.

Xander returned the chuckle and took the mans hand.Xander Harris. Only had my Awakening about three weeks ago. When was yours, if I may ask?

Diz chuckled some more. Im over 4,000 years old pup. Im one of the leaders that settles disputes between our kind.Except for the other kind that is. But Ive never heard of one of us getting possessed either.

Has anyone of us ever lived on the Hellmouth before? Xander asked sarcastically. Im thinkingnot. And Ron and Kes never mentioned anything about what to avoid or even how to prevent a possession. Not that Im blaming them. Im only asking their help right now.

Like I said, its never happened before, Diz answered straightforward. Nobody ever could have considered the possibility. Besides, your mental shields should have put a stop to any attempts at possession before they even started.

Xander stared at the older god for a good minute before blurting with the epitome of confusion on his face, My what?

Diz stared back, the same confusion on his own face before he turned to Ron and said disbelievingly, Oh you have got to be kidding me! Mental shielding was the first thing you should have taught him.

It didnt seem that important. Hes only reported minor mental abilities before, Kes answered for the giant.

It has only been minor stuff! Xander exclaimed. I have to concentrate to even hear thoughts, and yeah I got the empathy thing down, but Kes said that was mostly just high-speed body language analysis. I havent even moved a pencil yet! Now whats mental shielding?

It protects you from the stray thoughts you pick up frommortals, Diz answered. It also protects your mind from hostile intentions, whether that be from a Warlord or a Champion with psychic abilities. It also ensures privacy from the rest of us.

Xander stared at the other god for a few moments, completely silent before turning a reproachful glare on Ron and Kes. And you just casually forgot that I might NEED THIS!! Xander shouted.

Dont worry Xan, Ron spoke up, a look of resolve on his face, well give you all the help you need. Most likely when the spirit gets bored itll leave on its own

Are you insane! I live on the Hellmouth and you act like its two miles outside of Jersey!My life, even without this god thing, is NOT normal! Whatever the heck happened to you when you were born and going through all of this DOES NOT APPLY TO ME! Ive been magically possessed by an animal spirit, specifically a Hyena, and so have four other students and guess what, Im pack leader because the host, ME, is a freaking GOD! Xander ranted.

The Masai Diz trailed off.

What? Xander asked. He had lost his anger and frustration in his ranting on Rons shortsightedness, but that still didnt make Diz any better in his eyes.

The Masai. They were a group of warriors a few thousand years ago. Some of them still exist today in Africa. Think Spartans of Greece, mixed with headhunters, and the darkest magic-using shamans in the world for a few centuries at least. Diz paused to make sure Xander had understood it all. To Xanders own surprise, he had.

They used to worship animals, thinking that humans with emotions and moral were flawed and the animal form was perfect.Especially predators.Sometimesthe shamans would grant their warriors a portion of the spirit of an animal, giving them powers beyond human, as well as making them the Masais version of holy warriors.Xander, we need you to tell us everything that happened just before you were possessed. We may be able to find out how to reverse this. If youre right in that this Hyena has imprisoned you with magic, then itll be far more difficult to forcibly release you. The easiest and safest way would be to reverse the possession. Which is actually possible, if we know what ritual to perform.

All right, heres what I know and Xander told them everything that had happened, from the moment the field trip started to the last thing he remembered before waking up, trapped in his own mind. The other gods frequently interrupted him to ask him questions for more details, or things hed left out.

They talked for the rest of the night.


Sunnydale High


You are a complete idiot! Even I get this stuff, and Im the one struggling through math! Xander taunted the Hyena as their shared vision was looking down at the open Geometry book that Willow was holding open before them.

Shut UP! the Hyena roared at the captive. His patience was nearly at its end, and he was beginning to see the source of all his frustration and confusion. At least the rest of the Pack wasnt having to deal with this. They were laughing at him though, but he didnt let it bother him too much. The hosts inane chatter and taunting however was an entirely different matter.

Im not getting this! the Hyena said aloud to Willow, who was trying desperately to teach Xander what he needed to know to pass Algebra.

Its simple, really, Willow stressed and then proceeded to explain. Xander, behind his cage, was following her with each step. The Hyena might not be getting it or needing it, but he did.The bi-sector of a vertex is the line that divides the angle at that vertex into two equal parts.

The Hyena almost growled in its rage and frustration, but settled with Xanders motion of a deep sigh and its own frustrated movements. Its like a big blur, all these numbers and angles, the Hyena excused.

Its called language, Xander taunted, Specifically the English language as well as numerals used by all English speaking countries. If you want to pretend to be me any longer, youre going to have to learn it.

The Hyena growled.

Its the same stuff from last week. You had it down then, Willow tried to encourage her friend.

Why do I need to learn this? the Hyena snapped angrily. Internally he noted that Xander stopped teasing him and started to growl himself.

Ah, a weaknessthe Hyena realized, with sudden inspiration, a way to get rid of its headache.

Cause otherwise youll flunk math, Willow answered.

Explain the part where thats bad? Xander himself would have asked that question and cursed the Hyena for knowing him so well.

You remember, Willow began the old lecture that she always used to get Xander motivated, You fail math, you flunk out of school, you end up being the guy down at the pizza place who sweeps the floor and says Hey kids, wherere the cool parties this weekend? Weve been through this.

So you dont like it when I snap at her, the Hyena taunted back at Xander. What if I did worse? She is attracted to you. Maybe I should give her a turn at being my mate before I move onto the Slayer.She might not last very long, so I wouldnt have to interrupt my plans at getting the Slayer.

Xander really did growl and launched himself at the cage, getting himself shocked backwards for his effort. He got up to the Hyenas laughter barely an instant later.Touch her and I will hunt you down like the dog you are, along with the rest of your pack, and I will make you BEG for death! Xander shouted.

I see why you pitiful humans call this weakness your greatest strength, if just an idle threat brings this reaction from you.

Willow noticed that Xander wasnt really listening to her, and was rubbing his temples.

Xander slammed the cage again, this time managing to stay on his feet.

Tell you whatthe Hyena said as he answered Willows question in the real world, If you stop that banging, and the tauntingI wont rape her and then toss her to the rest of the Pack. And if you think you can threaten me without consequencestry me.

Xander glared at where the Hyena was above him.But he didnt even hesitate.Fine. No more needling you. But dont expect me to help you out either!

In the real world, the Hyena threw away the math book, while looking and feeling a lot better. Unknown to Xander, the pain the Hyena had been feeling wasnt one born of frustration or confusion, but was the lingering effects of Xander hitting the cage. It wasnt about to let him know that, but in his body language, the relief was more than clear as Xander stopped his abuse of the possessor.

Sunnydale High

Afternoon (Specifically after Gym Class)

I think I liked you better when you were teasing me the Hyena admitted as he came down off the adrenaline high the game had provided for the Pack.

You cheated was all Xander said from behind his cage.

Of course we did.Were a Pack. We survive. Thats what we do and we do it together.

THATS NOT WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT!! Xander shouted and almost rushed the cage again. You used my strength! You even dodged a double strike at SUPER SPEED!

Did not! the Hyena immediately replied.

Did too! How else the hell do you explain that the entire room, including the rest of your Pack, was moving in slow motion, while you, aka *I*, was moving around the balls and the people like they were a bunch of mannequins! Xander raged.

That does it!the Hyena growled and Xander frowned when he saw the Hyena begin communicating with the rest of the Pack, both psychically and in the real world. That was when Xander noticed Willow through the very limited sensory input he was getting from his body.

No, he said weakly. NO! Leave her alone! You promised!!

You annoyed me,the Hyena growled back matter-of-factly.But do not worry yourselftoo much. There are other, more interesting ways to bring down the weak than just killing or submitting them. Observe.

Xander started to pace behind his cage as Willow came up to him/them and asking if anything was wrong. Xander, she called as the Pack was leaving the locker rooms, whats wrong with you?

The Hyena slowly drew the worried redhead away from the rest of the Pack, just barely out of hearing range. Then in a softer, gentler voice than either inhabitant of Xanders body was feeling, he said, I guess youve noticed that Ive been different around you lately, he began.

Yes, Willow answered as though he were just stating the most obvious thing in the world.

I think um, he seemed to hesitate, but even Willow could tell it wasnt a nice kind of hesitation, I think its because my feelings for you have been changing. Only Xander, still behind his cage was the one to notice Buffy walk around the corner.Amazingly, even though he was only feeling things through his senses at less than half their normal intensity, his senses were so acute that he was still able to receive even more information from the surrounding world than someone with all their senses.

And well, weve been friends for such a long time, the Hyena continued, that I feel like I need to tell you something.Xander remained entirely silent about Buffys arrival, and was slowly soaking in every word the beast was saying to his best friend with his face and voice.

He knew the Hyena wanted Buffy as its mate.He also knew that this conversation would go a lot longer way of getting Buffy to realize something Hellmouthy was going on with him a lot sooner than any of his resisting and trying to get into her dreams could.

Ive um, the Hyena said, playfully noting how the redheads pheromones were playing both interesting combinations of arousal and fear, but only enough to annoy it, Ive decided to drop Geometry. So I wont be needing your math help anymore, which means, I wont have to look at your pasty face again. With that, he cracked up into laughter, like it was the funniest joke in the world.

In the background, even as Xander himself growled, the Pack, both through the link and in reality, were laughing. Xander barely managed to restrain himself any further as Buffy suddenly came up and got between the retreating Willow and the Pack.

You gonna to say something to me? the Slayer asked with a deadly serious look on her face, her hands on her hips in an even more serious pose.

Yeah, Im going to love breaking you, my future mate.Lets do lunch, The Hyena said through the link, though Xander could hear it as well. Out loud, the Pack just kept laughing. And left.

Later that night

I think Im going to be sick, Xander said, sounding very much so, as he leaned against a dream wall in the Inbetween.

Xander? What happened? Kes asked, kneeling down beside him. He was glad she was here. Unfortunately, so was the new guy, Diz.

Xander sighed. A lot. By the way, if I ever actually meet any of these Masai, American or not, human or not, demon or not, and even god or not, I am killing them in the most painful way I can physically accomplish. Or, I may just let the Hyena do it, since it seems to be so good at that.

What are you talking about? And why are you not trying to enter the Slayers dream like we talked about you doing last night? Diz asked.

Because I, and she, are not asleep. I was knocked out, by said Slayer, when my body, controlled by super-hormone driven Hyena boy tried to attack her. Thank the Creator that Slayers are Champions and she was actually stronger than me. Xander explained mournfully.

YouIt tried to rape Buffy, Kes said with all the shock that could be expressed in five words. Xander wordlessly nodded.

Thats not the worst of it I take it, Diz observed, allowing his tone to drop a note or two of superiority.

Xander shrugged. I ate a pig. Raw.And while it was still alive too.Oh, and the others of the Pack, the mortal onesthey ate my High School Principal. Nice guy. Even youd like him Diz. Unfortunately, everything except a couple of his bones, like his rib care and spine, is being digested in what was once four high school students. Xander said this all in such a monotone that everyone, even Diz, who had just met him, knew how deeply troubled he was.

Youre not to be blamed Xander, Kes tried to assure her friend. We should have taught you how to shield you mind. We are as much to blame as you are, for not preparing you enough. But I promise you, we will help all that we can.Wont we? she turned and glared at the other two gods.

Ron and Diz started shuffling under the blue-haired gods glare, until finally Diz gathered his wit and came to a decision.Kes is right, on all counts Xan, he said compassionately.

And we will help you. We can attack the Hyena and the spell holding it in your body and mind defenses, and maybe even that of the entire Pack. It would send them into a confusion, letting them run on basic instincts only. It would make them only animals, unable to use human comprehension, or even to access their hosts memories.

Xander looked up at him. Then he closed his eyes and breathed a deep sigh. Theyre dragging me, my body, into the book cage right now. If we do attack, and it would do as you say, I would rather wait for a proper moment, the right moment.Maybe just when the others are planning to get the Hyena out of me. Any time before then would just endanger my friends, Xander said, his eyes closed the entire time.

He opened his eyes and looked at his three fellow gods. But thank you for offering.

Diz suddenly looked confused, and Ron, strangely, seemed suddenly proud. Whatd I do now? Xander asked, recognizing the combination. Kes answered.

Its justan unusual talent for somebody to be able to determine sensory data while in the Inbetween Xander. In fact, most develop it as a skill, much later on, only after a hundred or so years, to be able to sense what their body is feeling while they sleep.

Xander just shrugged in reply. Yeah well, in case you forgot, Im trapped in a cage in my own mind. I get less than half of my full sensory data as you put it, through that cage.And after a day of classes, where believe it or not the Hyena and I were in agreement was a waste of time, I found out that by concentrating I can get the whole picture from my body. Sight usually isnt one of them, but touch and hearing are always on apparently. I guess I just developed the skill early, because of necessity. It cant be that hard to learn.

It isnt, the two men said immediately.Diz continued, It was just surprising that you had already mastered it. Since your Awakening ended just over a week ago.

Barely that, Dizzy, Xander replied, getting to his feet. Kes stood up with him.But as I keep reminding you, I live on the Hellmouth. Your survival skills that took you centuries to learnIm going to need within the next year, I guarantee you.

When do you want us to come and help you Xander? Kes asked.

Xander turned back and regarded her and the other two that stood beside her. Is there any way that I could get a message to you all here in the Inbetween while Im stuck in that cage? I mean, Ron said a couple weeks ago that if I cry out their names here in the Inbetween, youll come running, even hearing me when youre awake. Is there a way to do the opposite?

Diz paused, his face scrunching up in thought.Ron also grimaced, but given his size and frame, one would not assume he does much thinking, so he just looked angry.However, Xander had learned, the hard way, how to see beneath appearances.

After a couple of tense, and silent, minutes, Diz finally answered his question. Theremight be a way. But it would be dangerous. And it would also require us to remain in the Inbetween until we were no longer needed.I can only speak for myself, and since Ive got nothing going on right now, I can stay as long as you need me Xan.

Look, thanks, but if its dangerous I dont want you guys putting yourselves in danger just for me, Xander started to object.

No, well do it, Kes said firmly. Ron immediately nodded his head.

Its not that dangerous Xan, if what Im thinking is what Diz has in mind, Ron explained. Basically we just enter Xanders dream worldand remain there even after he wakes up. Well still be in the Inbetween where your dream world used to be, not inside your mind any longer, but we would still be able to sense what would be going on in your mind.

Xander you are our friend, and just as importantly, one of us, Kes said, What makes us different, better than warlords and the rest of the beings on this planet is that we dont abandon one another, and we always do the right thing.

Or at least try to, Xander amended, understanding what she meant. He looked around at his fellow gods, and he couldnt stop the smile that came to his face.All right. Thank you. Ill show you wheremy cage is.


The Pack was lost. Their Alpha was missing, their strength they borrowed from him and his presence gone. On his orders they had consumed the human Principal, but afterwardsthey lost contact with him. He was lost to them.

Then, in the aftermath and confusion of being discovered in what they had done, apparently in the human world eating someone was a bad thing, they scattered and joined back together behind a nearby bush, less than a block from the school, where they rested after consuming their feast.

Soon, they all dream-thought to one another, soon they will seek out their Alpha, and hunt once again. Behind the magic, their human host minds were crying and puking.

Bullies are very much like a pack, but they never have the stomach for what an actual wild animal pack can do, or will do.

The Library

Willow was staring, both fascinated and disgusted, at the documentary on the hyena, as it showed a back of them tearing apart and into what had once been an antelope.

Slowly the Hyena came back into control of the body.Xander was just sitting silently, sulking, in his cage so it paid him no never mind. Xanders senses and memories told it exactly where he was and who was with him. In fact his hearing and smelling both seemed to be shouting that best friend Willow was nearby.

Willow, it croaked as the first thing it said as it came to. It was now in a cage of its very own, Rather ironic, dont ya think? Xander interrupted, and it was going to do everything it could to get out of it. Even if it meant pretending to be human for a little while longer.

How are you feeling? Willow asked, fear and concern coming off of her in waves.

Like somebody hit me with a desk, the Hyena replied. I would have hit you with a truck, Xander mumbled, causing the Hyena to growl slightly. What am I doing here? he asked instead.

Youreresting? Willow answered cautiously, slowly stepping forward towards the Library book cage.

You guys got me locked up now, huh? the Hyena stayed on the offensive. Willow, in Xanders memories, never stood up to constant pressure and always folded easily.Youre underestimating her, Xander thought at the Hyena, Shes made of sterner stuff than you and your Pack, and I guarantee you that shes smarter than all of you together.

SHUT! UP! Xander could tell he was beginning to get to the Hyena, making him angry.

Because youre sick, Willow answered the Hyenas question. Buffy said

Oh yeah, the Hyena grumbled getting to his feet, Buffy and the all-around solution, punchem out and knockem down.Id love to see what shed do to somebody thats really sick.

Thats not fair, Willow said, a wave of anger coming off of her, Buffy saved both of our lives.

Before she came around, our lives didnt need that much saving, did they? the Hyena reasoned.

Willow was silent. Werent things a lot simpler when it was just you and me? the Hyena tempted.

I hate you, Xander said behind his cage. I would never, in any form, toy with Willows feelings like this. And you cant keep up the act. You would either attack her or sniff her before shed even think of opening the cage.Youre as stuck as I am!

Oh really? the Hyena taunted back as Willow stepped closer to the cage. Then, in the mental world, Xander saw the Hyena call the rest of the Pack through the spirit bond.

Oh fuck despair settled like Fridays Surprise Lunch from the cafeteria in his stomach. Then he began to panic, WILLOW!! YOUVE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE! THEYRE COMING!!

She cant hear you, youre just a voice inside my head, remember? the Hyena teased.

Xander slammed into the cage, actually reaching the bars without being knocked back unconscious. The Hyena snarled.

Maybe Willow said in the real world.

When we were alone together, the Hyena continued, despite the growing headache Xander was giving it, Willow I know theres something wrong with me, I think its getting worse, but I cant just stand around waiting for Buffy to decided its time to punch me out again. LookI want you to help me. I want you.

I am helping you, Willow answered, her voice thick with emotion.

The Hyena let out a half-sigh half-laugh, Youre doing what youre told.

Buffys trying to help you too, Willow reasoned right back. You know that. Or at least Xander does.

Didnt you say something about a zookeeper sorcerer? Xander commented.

Yeah, Buffys so selfless, always thinking of us.Well if Im so dangerous, how come she left you alone with me? the Hyena said, letting its true colors, so to speak, show as its nervousness mounted.

I told her to, Willow answered.

Why? the Hyena snapped.

Cause I know you better than she does, and I wanted to be here to see if youre still you.

WAY TO GO WILLOW!Xander was shouting with joy and doing the Snoopy dance.

You know who I am, look at me, the Hyena said.

Willow didnt move for a moment, and the Hyena was beginning to lose its patience. Look, he said, laying the puppy dog eyes on heavy. Xander, Willow whispered as she took the last step to the cage. The Hyena tried to react at full speed, but Xander slammed into his cage several more times and started shouting at the moment he tried, ruining whatever concentration he needed to grab the redhead, allowing her to escape.

And now I know, Willow said smugly, walking back to the desk.

LET ME OUT! the Hyena raged, rattling the cage.

You know, thats a good idea, Xander suddenly thought. The Hyena froze, both in body and inside.

Ill kill her,it warned.

Like youd protect her when your Pack got here? No way. LET ME OUT!! LET ME OUT!! LET ME OUT!! Xander started shouting over and over again, slamming into his cage, trying to rattle it, but generally just banging against it and making a whole lot of noise. He kept this up even to the point where the rest of the Pack came into range. In fact, he only got louder and more distracting when they did.

Fine! the Hyena tried to shout over Xanders noise. If I warn her, will you SHUT THE HELL UP!

Xander paused, leaving the mental plane suddenly too quiet. He crossed his arms and waited.

Willow, the Hyena said impatiently, trying to warn her that the Pack was just outside.

Im not listening, the redhead answered stubbornly.

Well if shes not listening, I can hardly warn her, now can I? the Hyena said back to Xander.

In reply, Xander just smirked and started making, if it was possible, twice as much racket as he had minutes ago. The Hyena wanted to rip open its hosts skull just to drag him out.

Willllllooooooooow, a slightly muffled voice broke the silence of the library.

Xander! Shut up! Willow snapped.

Willllllooooooooow, came the same cry. That was when the mortal redhead tracked it to its source, and saw the Pack member in the library window. Her eyes widened as adrenaline started to pump through her body.She stood up, and just as the rest of the Pack broke in through the windows, she ran out of the Library.

Despite Xanders distraction, the Hyena used his superior strength to bend the cage outward, and with the others help, ripped the cage door completely down. Silently and to himself, so it was more thought to himself than thought to the rest of his mind, Xander broadcast into the Inbetween, Now guys! Now!

The Inbetween

Xanders cry for help was heard loud and clear in the misty, unoccupied space the three gods stood in. It was as if he were right next to them when he said it. The other two looked at the newest immortal acquaintance of Xander, he merely nodded.

Now, Ron commanded in a steady timbre.

The three of them disappeared from the Inbetween in a flash of such cataclysmic energy that Xanders firestorm from earlier looked like a pop cap in a toy gun in comparison. Three towering infernos of mental energy stood in the same spot the gods had once, and then, first the female form, quickly followed by the other two male forms, they began to dissipate into the mists directly around them, until the area of Xanders dreams glowed like irradiated swamp gas on a full moon night.

Sunnydale High

Willow ran as fast as she could out of the Library.She paused, panicking and trying to think clearly enough to find a place to hide. She ran to the left, where she saw an open classroom door and quickly ducked inside, closing it behind her.

Back in the Library, the Pack was celebrating and greeting, in the way of their animal forms, their once lost Alpha. He greeted them through the spirit bond, but he was also debating with Xander over something.

Do I just kill her, or do I let the Pack kill heror do I have some fun of my own first? he was laughing as he focused all of Xanders senses on the hunting of the gods best friend.

Xander lost it and started raging for all he was worth against the cage. It made no difference. It still shocked him, but he had built up enough of a resistance against the magic holding him that he was no longer knocked out when it hit him. It only stung.

Tracking Willow was only too easy for the Hyena with Xanders senses. He sent the others in the other directions, taking Tor with him as backup. He too easily followed Willows fear scent to the door she had taken refuge behind.

The classroom Willow had found herself in was dark, but not dark enough she couldnt find her way through it. Once she knew the Pack was coming after her, she made sure the door closed as silently as possible and then rapidly made her way to the teachers desk and fit herself down under it and forced herself to stay as still and quiet as possible.

She always was good at Hide & Seek, Xander thought as he picked up on Willows emotional and mental state.The Hyena was ignoring it, focusing on his hearing and sense of smell and nothing else. Well, night vision was automatic at this point for the young gods Awakened body.

At first, when the two possessed students entered the room, they saw nothing out of the ordinary, and the remaining scents of all the students and other people that had been in there all day confused where Willow was, if she was in here, or if she had just been in here earlier some time during a class. Until the Hyena enhanced the hearing as high as it could go.

Tor, missing her mate, and seeing no prey here, sniffed twice more and then left. The Hyena stayed still, and then waited. Xander screamed as loud as he could, and grabbed a couple of actually graspable bars of the cage and tried to rip them out. The energy of the spell coursed throughout his mental body, giving him sensations of pain equal to the few hours hed had his body on Max Pain.

The Hyena ignored him.

Because he had found Willow. Her heartbeat had actually given her away, highlighting the desk she hid under and half the room with its sound waves.

Moving as silently as a predator in the grass, the Hyena walked up to the desk, just as Willow was peaking out from underneath it.When she turned and saw him there, she screamed in fright, causing the Hyena to grin and giggle some.

Slowly, he advanced on her, immediately driving her to the corner of the room, between the blackboard and the windows.

I think Ill just eat her, the Hyena finally taunted, and with a feral growl from the human throat, he leaped at Willow, just as she ducked around the other side of the desk, toppling one of the chairs in her scramble for the door. The Hyena, too focused on its prey to be any focused on its surroundings, tripped over the chair, scrambling after her.

Willow made it to the door, and stopped with a screech as she saw Tor there, waiting for her. Lucky for the redhead, the blonde Hyena didnt see the blonde Slayer until after said Slayer slammed a Fire Extinguisher into her head.

Unfortunately the good feelings didnt last long as the Hyena in Xander came up and tried to tackle the both of them. One good thing about Champions, especially Slayers, Xander thought, is that they can move a whole lot faster than he could. She slammed the extinguisher in the Hyenas face, and threw him out of the classroom.

Giles came up behind Buffy, both of them stopping to comfort Willow, but before any could utter a single word, the rest of the Pack appeared at the end of the hallway.

Run! Giles screamed, shoving both girls into the classroom. Buffy quickly barricaded the door.

The Pack, all five of them, immediately started pounding on the door, trying to get in.

Xanders Cage

Xander was throwing a royal fit, and he was getting more and more pissed as things progressedwith no sign of the others anywhere. He had finally let go of the bars when the pain had become too much, and was majorly disappointed when he saw that he hadnt been able to do a micron of damage.

He was on the verge of despairing of any help when the Pack was together again and started to pound viciously on the wooden door, that amazingly wasnt budging against all of them. He was really worried about what would happen when the Hyena tapped into his full strength. Not even Xander knew his limits in that area.

Suddenly, Xander felt a familiar elation fill himand something more. Aanother mindno, three other minds! Xanders eyes widened in excitement and joy as he felt the others suddenly fill his mental being.

However before he could figure out what to do, he saw the sparks of energy that had once filled the Inbetween begin to emanate from his skin, until there were three distinct rivers of it flowing from him. The Hyena didnt pay any attention to this, not even when one of the rivers began to flow in his direction.

Xander could swear almost by everything that he knew and believed to be true, that that particular river held a feminine mystique, as well as familiar eyes that winked at him as it passed. The other two energy paths went to and then through the Spirit bond, where Xander could almost swear he saw them flow through the Inbetween or something like it to the other two couples in the Pack. After that, he lost track of them as they stopped flowing from him.

Xander could guess what was happened to the others though, if it was anything to guess by what was happening to the Hyena in front of him. The sparks of energy, that he had to assume was really Kes, were surrounding the Hyena in the upper part of his mind, and as he watched, it slowly becamemoreanimal? Instead of patiently directing the others and thinking things through, it started to snarl, and drool, andXander blinked as he realized the planbecome more hyena and less spirit.

Xander whooped, and started to work on his cage, confusing the Hyena further. Growling at the loss of prey, the Hyena, no longer so focused, growled and slowly backed off, planning to hunt for weaker prey. Xander stared with slight disappointment as Kes struggled to maintain the change she, and no doubt the others, had evoked in the Pack. He just hoped it enough, robbing them of actual intelligence, leaving them with only raw instincts. He also hoped the others could trick the Hyena and the Pack into de-possessing before the Pack did anything more that he would regret.


Sunnydale Zoo

The plan was about as brilliant as it was completely stupid. That was why Xander totally agreed with it, from Buffys point of view anyway. Get the Hyenas to chase her, before they could attack anyone else, draw them to the zoo where the zookeeper who had wanted the power of the Hyena Pack that started this whole mess, could draw it out of the students. If the Hyena or the rest of the Pack had been themselves they would have realized this and would have stopped chasing Buffy the moment she leaped the outer gate of the zoo.

Lucky for the plan, they were too focused to even realize they werent thinking anymore. What had Xander in an uproar was what was driving the primitive spirits onward. Over and over, the Hyena keptimagining raping Buffy over and over.

If Kes had looked up from her keeping the Hyena primitive, she wouldnt have been able to tell the difference between the Hyena, and Xander.

Snarling, growling, and crying out in rage, Xander flung himself again and again and again at his cage. This was not like the demonic energy cage inside Willows dream world, this one, for one thing, was much better constructed, and its energy supply seemed to stem directly to Xanders own energy. So every time that he hit the cage, it was the same as hitting him with twice the force.

He wouldnt give up though. If he had to make himself beyond exhausted to break the cage, if he had to rip it down until he himself was stripped to nothing but skeleton, if he had to do a Joshua and the Battle of Jericho thinghed do it.With his friends in danger, with Buffy in danger and running, all because of him, Xander could not give up. No. Matter. What.

AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! Xanders eyes began to flash, echoing with energy as his scream echoed back in his mind. His hits suddenly became three times as powerful and five times faster.Seeing Willow in danger had allowed Xander to tap into some as yet unknown power during their shared dream.Knowing that not only was Willow in danger, but Buffy and Giles as well, and all because of him, that was more than enough to tap into it again and draw greater strength from it.

He needed no rest, his muscles needed no break, and his anger only increased as the cage still continued to hold, without showing the slightest bit of a dent. For the two or three minutes that the Pack chased Buffy through the zoo, Xander didnt stop his assault on that which held him trapped within his own mind, his temper slowly growing shallower and shallower. Until finally, with a final cry and burst of mental strength that would have shattered his own mind, which only succeeded in shaking the cage in the single spot he hit it in, he stepped back, and almost wept at his lack of success.

Then, he noticed the input coming from his senses.They were on the path to the Hyena house! They must have figured out how to un-possess him! Then his eyes widened as he realized how much closer the Pack was to Buffy than they had been, and he heard the sounds of a struggle, and Willows voice in the distance. She sounded scared.

Before much else could happen, they were suddenly in the Hyena cave, the lights, or maybe they were torches, made it so all of the others and not just Xander could see. But what he saw drove Xander over the edge.

The zookeeper, the one that had tried to take the Hyenas power, the one that had started this whole mess. He was garbed in blue and white, looking like some kind of witch doctor or something. And he was holding Willow. With a knife to her throat. Combined with the Pack just as quickly catching up, and tackling Buffy, the energy that Xander had barely even tapped in Willows defense against the two vampires in her dream, engulfed him.

Xander suddenly felt like he was on fire, with all his senses on maximum pain along with it. Screaming in rage and with pain, the energy that had barely sparked from Xanders eyes before now, poured forth as the very flames that were covering him with the fire he felt. The fire spread outwards in an explosion that shuddered, and then blew out the cage.

Kes, Ron, and Diz, completely unaware of what was going on, were suddenly brought back to reality as the explosion of mental energy blasted them out of the minds of the possessed teenagers and back into the Inbetween. And not without a few singes either.

My Creator, Kes huskily whispered, barely able to get to her knees and staring in wide-eyed shock at where they had been, What was that?

It wasXan, Ron weakly answered, able to get to his feet at the least, but unable to do much else.

Hehadnt unlocked his mental energy with his Awakening? Diz asked in total disbelief.

Apparentlyhe just did, Ron answered.

Back in the zoothe gods had been expelled just in time, as the moment of Xanders mental explosion, the zookeeper shouted in the Masai language, YUBYASABA!

Immediately, all of the Pack looked at the zookeeper, their eyes flashing the same green/gold of the hyenas eyes. Inside, each of the children felt the same vacuuming sensation they had felt when first possessed, only in reverse now. The Masai zookeepers eyes flashed the same gold.Grinning wickedly and growling, he dropped the knife and took Willow by the throat, planning on eating her by all accounts.

Xander, obviously, was the first to recover from the trans-possession, and still feeling the anger that had led to his mental explosion, he cried out when he saw the zookeeper holding Willow, especially how he held her. Willow!

Faster than any would have thought possible for him before, he got to his feet and rushed the Hyena Masai, and using his Enhanced human strength, he threw it back from Willow. Unfortunate for the Masai, the Hyena feeding area was directly behind him. He fell into the pit, and the original pack quickly moved in for the kill. Xander and Buffy both raced forward, but stopped just short of the fence, both had a sick look on their faces.

In the brief silence, an employee door, disguised as part of the wall, suddenly opened, and Giles stumbled out, looking like hed been knocked out. Taking a couple glances around, he asked rather sheepishly, Did I miss anything?

Not much G-man, Xander said soberly. Then he made a fast decision. Uhby the waywhen did you come on field trips, and why is it night?

The other four, faster than he had suspected, quickly caught on and also began looking around confusedly. Kyle stepped up to Xander, a half-angry, half-bully scowl on his face. I dont care what games you play Harris, just stay out of my face. Next time, Ill beat your sorry ass. He turned around and made a gesture to the others, saying aloud, Come on. Lets get out of here.

All four of them quickly left. Xander watched them go, remembering to keep the innocent confused look on his face all through the display. However, once they were past the point where the light of the cave no longer reached them, he heard Tor drop to her knees and start puking.Rhonda and Jacen didnt sound too far off.

Im going to be sick, he heard the other guy say to Kyle.

Lookweve gotta get out of here, out of Sunnydale, Kyle sounded very scared now, not a bit of the confident bully hed been just moments before. If the cops catch usoh gawd! He quickly joined Tor in puking his guts out.

Xander was distracted from whatever else happened by the others coming up to him. He stuck to his decision. Seriously guys, whats going on? he asked, sounding convincing even to himself.

You dontremember? Buffy asked slowly.

Xander looked around, confused. Remember what? Last thing I remember is coming in here to help out Lance and stop the bullies. Andwho was the guy that, uhI dont wanna know, do I?

You saved my life Xander, thank you, Willow said in reply, kissing him on the cheek.

He blushed and ducked his head. Aw shucks, twerent nuthin maam, he replied in a horrible cowboy impression. But seriouslyremember what? he asked, sounding as if he really wanted to know, and despite himself, he was curious about what the others would convey over what hed done over the past two days.

Lets just get out of hereI dontI dont really want to be here right now, Buffy said, her voice becoming sad, glancing over her shoulder at the caged hyenas.

Amazingly, Xander heard her thoughts as clear as he heard his own. She was regretting the zookeeper having to die, and especially the way he had died.And evil or not, he had been a human being. Her heart filled with regret and guilt.

Xander frowned and took the Slayer gently by the shoulders, draping his arms over hers and Willows. No more words were said as they silently made their way out of the zoo.

The Library

Later that night, barely an hour after leaving the zoo, the four Slayerettes walked into the Library, and stopped when they saw the book cage. Despite knowing, in order to keep up the charade of amnesia during the whole event, Xander turned to look at the others and asked, Uh, okay, do we know what did that and is it dead yet?

Uh Willow flushed a bright crimson shade and stuttered for a couple moments before finally she blurted out very quickly, YoudidthatwhileyouwerepossessedbyahyenaandKyleandtheotherswereyourPackandtheyhelpedyoudoitandwefinallygotyouunpossessedbutthezookeeperwentinsaneandtriedtotakethehyenaspiritintohimselfand pause for breath, but before she could continue, Xander interrupted, looking outright afraid and confused.

Whoa, whoa, and again I say whoa! Xander shouted.I was possessed?! When? For how long? What day is this? Did I miss Xena: Warrior Princess?

Uh, its Thursday Xan, Buffy answered, Xena airs on Fridays, so no worries about that. Oh, and youve been possessed for the past two days. By a Hyena.

Xander blinked, his face entirely blank, and to the others it looked like he was trying to process the information, but actually he was just trying to read their minds. Surprisingly, succeeding.

You really dont remember any of it? Buffy asked, a note of disbelief in her voice.

Xander just blankly shook his head.

All right, thats enough for tonight, Giles said tiredly. Xander, not to mention you girls, have been through a great deal today. Why dont you all go home and get some sleep, well discuss this further, if anything really needs to be discussed, in the morning.Good night all.

Taking that as cue, and agreeing with the Watcher, all three teenagers walked back out of the Library, Xander more silent than usual.Look, dont worry about it Xander, we know it wasnt you, and actually its probably a good thing you dont remember it, Buffy tried to comfort her friend.

Yeah, Xander gruffly replied. Buffy and Willow shared a concerned look.

Xander, do you want to spend the night at my house, you know because of Willow offered.

No thanks Wills, he interrupted. Ive got a lot of thinking to do, I wouldnt be as much fun. Maybe tomorrow night, Kay?

Okay, she answered meekly. Good night Xander.

Xander turned and looked each girl in the eye, and then gave them a lopsided smirk, a familiar twinkle in his eyes, Night girls.

Humor dancing in her eyes, Buffy replied, Night boy. Drawing a confused look from the young god. He walked off into the night, doing as he said he would do, thinking.


Thank you, was the first words Xander said on the Inbetween that night. The three gods just stood there, accepting his thanks. Youyou probably saved my friends tonight with what you did, sothank you.

Ron shrugged. Responsibility thing. No big deal. How are you holding up?

Xanders grateful look darkened considerably.IIm dealing

You didnt kill anybody Xander, and it was not you who was hurting your friends, Kes tried to comfort.

I lied to them, he said softly. I told them I didnt remember a thing. I lied to them. I lied to Buffy.

You lie to them every day you moron, Diz snapped at him. Xander looked up, a confused glare in his eyes. Have you told them youre a god yet? Xander looked down, shamed, and blushing.

Good, Diz snapped again. Because you arent supposed to. And I think you see my point. They cant handle the truth, and theyd only hate you because of this particular truth.

They could handle itand Willow could forgive me Xander tried to defend his friends.

They probably could handle it, Diz admitted.Eventually. But not before they become afraid of you. And you still have no clue about how to handle your powers.Most of it, you have to learn on your own, trial and error. Its your body, nobody can tell you how to work it. Butif youd like, I could give you some pointers.

Xander looked up at the new face. Are you serious? he asked.

Diz only stared right back at him. Ron and Kes both stood off to the side, Ron secretly smiling, while Kes was just glad her friend was all right. I might as well show you the basics, since you live on the Hellmouth and all. But keep in mind, what Ill tell you is how I do things. It might be very different for yourself. Diz finally answered him.

Xander stared wide-eyed. Hell yeah! Id definitely like that! Whats first?

Diz smirked. How would you like to learn mental shielding?

Isnt that what was supposed to have protected me from the Hyena in the first place? Xander asked Ron and Kes. Both, smiling, nodded. He turned back to Diz and nodded himself, waiting his first real lesson in being a god.


Sunnydale High

I heard the Vice Principals taking over until they find a replacement, Willow informed the other Slayerettes as they walked across the very sunny quad of Sunnyhell High School.

Eh, shouldnt be too hard to find a new Principal, Buffy remarked as they began to climb the stairs to the second level, Unless they ask what happened to the last one, she added with a sour look on her face.

Ok, but I had nothing to do with that, right? Xander asked, sounding nervous.

Right! Buffy immediately confirmed.

You only ate the pig, Willow added.

I ate a pig! Xander exclaimed. Was he cooked and called bacon, or Xander didnt even have to pretend with the disgust on his face, the memories still all too clear in his mind.

Oh my god! he almost laughed, but it came out more as a stave to keep from crying out with further disgust. I ate a pig! I mean the whole triconosis issue aside, YUCK!

Well it wasnt really you, Buffy said smiling at the formerly possessed god.

Uh, well, I remember I was goin on the field trip, and then I was going down to the hyena house, and the next thing, some guys holding Willow and hes got a knife, Xander told them.

Willow looked Xander in the eye as they reached the top of the stairs, You saved my life, she told him seriously.

Hey! he paused at the top of the stairs, Nobody messes with my Willow. Then he fully embraced her, his empathic senses telling him that with that one act, Willow fully forgave and forgot everything the Hyena had done through him.He also made a silent promise to himself, that for the next few days, his redheaded bestest bud deserved some honest good guy Xander-lovin. Of the friendship variety that is.

Buffy stepped back and looked at the embracing friends, a fond smile on her face and a warm feeling deep in her heart. Once the two separated, both smiling genuinely, she had to say something. This is definitely the superior Xander, accept no substitutes! she declared.

Oh good God my creator in Heaven! Xander cried in his mind as he recalled what the Hyena had tried to do to Buffy. Better take care of this now. Stick with ignorant amnesia. Please oh please Creator let them spare my feelings!

Xander looked at her shocked for a moment and touched his right hand to his lips, as though contemplating something for a moment, and then it went to his chest, over his heart in a nervous protective gesture. I, uh, I didnt do anything else. I, ehh, around you guys, anything embarrassing? he asked, a nervous, fearful expression on his face.

Oh my gawd! Should I tell him, or just hold it for later black mail? Buffy thought as she shared a girl look with Willow.

I solemnly swear that Xander will never hear what that #$%&*% Hyena said to me or did to Buffy as long as I live, Willow thought, but shot the same look back at Buffy. A silent message that was not in their thoughts however seemed to be transferred along with that look that Xander totally missed, and both girls turned, smiling like a pair of Cheshire Cats.

Nah, Buffy finally said.

Not at all, Willow said, silently admiring the muscles she had felt when Xander hugged her. Xander struggled to keep the blush off his cheeks.

Come on, were gonna be late, Buffy held out her hand for Willow, who took it and with a, See you at Lunch, she left with Buffy.

Cool! Xander replied immediately, raising his hand in gesture of goodbye. Hey!Going vegetarian, he said with a too-guilty tone in his voice to the girls. They smiled knowingly back at him and made their way to their class.

I am never touching meat again, and if I do, it will be very, very, VERY well-done! Xander solemnly swore to himself as he turned in the opposite direction to go to his own class. Only to turn right into Giles, who seemed to be waiting for him almost.

Ive been, uh, reading up on my animal possession, and I cannot find anything anywhere about memory loss afterwards, he told Xander in that oh so British way of his.

Xander almost ripped the man apart with his bare hands, and knowing he could actually do that forestalled and allowed him to cover it up with not even a breath of a laugh and he answered back, Did you tell them that? he almost outright demanded, gesturing behind him in the direction his two bestest friends in the world had gone.

Youre secret dies with me, Giles leaned forward to say.

Thank you God!Xander silently prayed as his respect for Giles went up notches marked in the hundreds.

Shoot me, stuff me, mount me, Xander confirmed everything the Watcher suspected. Shaking his head in defeat, Xander walked on to class, feeling as low as hyena droppings. Giles just clapped him on the shoulder, and thought, Better you than me my boy, better you than me. Which made Xander wonder for a moment, but he let it go.

Xander was aware of Giles eyes on him as he went, the Englishmans amusement bringing the guilt all the more to home. Later, he was just glad that he wasnt in as bad as Kyle and the others had been, or were at this very moment.

It was strange. The spirit bond that had made the Pack was completely gone, absolutely no trace of it in his mind or theirs, but he could still feel their emotions, and when he concentrated, hear their thoughts. What disturbed him was that they were all on their way to LA, running away. Well, the fact didnt disturb him, just that they were that far away and he could still hear them was, and here he was, not a whole building across from them, and he could barely pick up on Buffy and Willows emotions anymore.

Ill ask Ron or Diz about it tonightor maybe during Math. He thought to himself as he walked into Geometry class. Soglad that I actually paid attention to Willows tutoring session during the Hyena thing!

Which is of course when the Pop Quiz, that he had heard from the teachers mind the moment he stepped into the classroom, was announced. Xander, rather than groan along with the rest of his classmates, just dealt with his guilt.

END Of Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 has begun but I'm hoping it'll be longer than Chapter 2 had been, so it'll be a while. Spoilers for those that give really good reviews that tell me what you *thought* about the story, not just "ITSGOOD" or "ITSNOTSOGOOD! BUTSTILLGREAT".

-Joshua ;>