Through the looking glass

Author: MagnusXXN <MagnusXXN[at]>

Is the story finished? Not yet.

Fandom; Buffy the vampire slayer/Anite Blake

Spoilers: Through the whole series for far

Rating: R

Summary: Xander falls into a den of snakes.

Main characters: Xander

Disclaimer: BTVS doesn't belong to me, it's Joss Whendon's baby as is Angel. I don't own the Anita Blake series or the concept. . I just own this story but I don't have any money so sue someone else.

I've changed some of the backstory of Buffy, but I'll explain it in the story along the way.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Hotel room in St. Louis

Xander Harris walked into his room a few minutes after dawn. Ever since graduation he'd been driving all over the United States. He'd given up trying to make it to all 50 states, and decided to pitch his tent in the town he'd stopped at. What better way to grow as a person then to leave SunnyDale?

Once he'd gotten out of his old hometown Xander found at that living in SunnyDale was like living in a black hole, nothing got in and nothing got out. It took him only four days to find out about vampires.

He'd thought he knew everything there was to know about vampires cuz of having been killing them for the last three years. That is until he found out that vampires had become legal citizens of the US.

You could have beaten him down with a feather after telling him that news. So he started looking around for these vampires. Because they couldn't be the ones from his hometown.

And they weren't. Apparently the ones in SunnyDale aren't like all over the US, or any other country for that matter.

They were revenants. Pretty much the serial killers of the vampire race. Normal vampires, if you could call them that didn't have demons inside them making them do horrible things. Nor did they have snakelike foreheads and big golden blooshot eyes.

No, normal vampires were like the people they were before they were turned. For the most part anyway. And there fangs were fixed. As in always there, no shifting back to human faces and making them disappear. And no god-awful foreheads.

But from what he'd learned of of 'normal' vampires, they were more dangerous. A revenant can't look you and bespell you. That all they need to do is to roll a persons mind, just by looking them in the eyes.

And then there were the lycanthropes; who were all over the place. There was at least three or four tribes, or clans in any givin city. Mostly werewolfs, but somtimes there were other were beasts. From tigers, bears, and pigs, to swans or even bats.

Xander for the most part had been lucky. He hadn't ran into a single nonhuman since he started his road trip. But, St. Louis was a big vampire tourist trap. And he was sure he'd been running into one soon enough; it was just how his luck works.

"Knock" "Knock" "Open the god damn door! Your rents overdue." Slurred his landlord who has been riding his ass ever since he'd been late for one payment.

The dark-haired young man pulled his off his rented bed and made it to the door and opened it. His drunken landlord was glaring at him through glazed eyes. "Your late, AGAIN! I thought I told you if you were late one more time I'd boot your ass. Did you think I was kidding?"

Xander was disgusted by the smell of the older man's harsh breath. It took all he had not to gag. "No, you told me. Here....." He pulled out the last of his remaining stash of cash he had and handed it to the man.

"I have a job interview tomorrow." He lied. But if he wanted to stay here and not live in his car like a hobo he would have to find work.

The man staggered. and almost fell but caught himself, "Fine. You have three more weeks. But if you're late one more time you little shit I'm kicking you out. Got that?"

Before Xander could answer his landlord turned and went down the hall and started banging on someone else's door, no doubt looking for more rent money.

He slammed his door and locked it before heading back to bed. "Guess a job hunting I will go." He muttered to himself before drifting back to sleep.


The next day, way past noon, Xander finally got up and went job hunting. Sadly most of his cloths were dirty and or all together messed up beyong repair.

Thats's what happens when all your cloths are either secondhand or taken from the Salvation Army. The only clean cloths he had were the ones Cordy, his ex, had gotten him before the break up.

Tight leather pants, and a dark blue dress shirt. He looked good, if he was going clubbing or something. But they weren't the kind of cloths you'd wear to a job interviews.

The next eight hours were filled with the sound of slamming doors in his face. Most places wouldn't even interview him as all, and the others only seemed to humor him before telling him how the job was out of his depth.

It was already sundown and Xander still couldn't find a single place that he had any hope of working at. And he was a bit nervous about not having a stake with him.

But with the new laws, carrying a stake is like carrying a gun. Since stakes are used to kill vampires and now there they're legally 'alive' again it would be murder to kill one.

"Fucking unbelievable." He grunted out. And he hadn't brought a cross with him at all. Not that it would do him any good.

Revenants could be pushed away or burned by the very presence of the holy icons. But to hold back a 'normal' vampire with a cross you had to have faith. And Xadner was all out of that.

Three years of fighting vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness beside his friends without any help from anyone put his faith in human beings a little lacking. And gone was his fath in God altogether.

"Bang" The loud noise came from underneath his car. He was forced to pull to the side of the road to see what was wrong.

He popped the hood to see what was the matter. That's when ne noticed that his engine had completely fallen out from under his car. All in all, the car was now nothing more then a ton of worthless scarp metal.

"FUCK!" He cursed. He didn't have enough money to pay next months rent let alone pay for a whole new engine. No home, no car, no money, no job. Xander looked skyward towards heaven, "I bet your laughing your ass off at this one. Bastard."

It was almost a half hour later before someone pulled over to help. A women exited her car and walked towards him. She was in a word: Gorgeous. Dark hair, with curls just above her shoulders. And the darkest eyes he'd ever seen.

"Hey, you need help?" She asked blandly. "Hmmm, ya. Sorry. My car, it seems to have commited suicide. You wouldn't happen to a phone with you? Maybe you could call AAA for me?" He asked hopefully.

"No sorry. I don't have a cell phone." She shrugged and came over to look under his hood. "Hmpf, You do relise your engines gone, right?" He couldn't tell if she was trying to be funny or a pain in the ass. He went with funny.

"Ya, I sorta noticed that. You couldn't like give a call to a tow truck when you get to wherever you're going, could you?" He didn't want to be stranded by the side of the road all night.

"Why don't I give you a lift into town. Then you can make your call." It was more then he was hoping for. But he'd learned a long time ago that not looking a gift horse in the mouth could be deadly.

"I dont know. I'm not supposed to take rides with strangers." He told her with a goofy grin. She fought off the smile that mad almost appeared on her lips. "Well then we're even. Cuz I'm not supposed to offer strange men rides in my car."

The car ride into town was blessedly done in silence. Neither seemed to be big on small talk. But it was passenger that broke fisrt. "I'm Xander by the way." He'd have offered her his hand but she was driving.

"Anita." More silence. "If its not to much trouble could you tell me where we're going." She didn't look the type that would like verbal banter so he went right to the point.

"I'm going to see someone. He's at the Circus of the Damned, you ever heard of it?" He shook his head. She didn't seem bothered by it. "He'll let you use his phone and get you onw your way."

The rest of the trip was quiet. Anita really didn't seem to care one way or another about Xander being in the car with her. He wouldn't have have been bothered if she hadn't ignored him so. Finally she pulled into the guest parking lot at the Circus of the Damned.

The first thing he notced was the clowns, big, scary, FANGED, clowns. "It would be clowns, wouldn't it?" He muttered to himself. "You say something?" She questioned giving him an odd look. "Naw, nothing."

The second thing he noticed was the bouncer in front of the door. Huge scary guy, and the fact that he's a vampire sorta set off alarm bells in Xander's mind. "Anita, are you sure you want to go in there?" He said gesturing at the garish looking fairground.

She looked at him then to the bouncer before realising she hadn't warned him about where they were going. "Ya, sorry. My boyfriend runs this place. Its safe, mostly." He still looked worried.

"Buzz wont hurt you. He's jsut a bouncer." Being around the undead for so many years Anita had forgotten how normal people reacted around vampires. "Hes alright, the vampires in here wont hurt you." It was not too long ago that she'd never had said something like that.

Dating the undead will do that to you sometimes. He shrugged, "If you say so." Then followed her in.

Buzz seemed happy to see her. but gave Xander an unpleasent look. "Anita! It's good to see you. The Master's been waiting." Then even hugged one another. She didn't seem the kind for hugs.

"Who's he?" The large vampire asked none to pleased. "Haven't picked up another guy have you?" He asked with a smile. Anita fought off a blush that tried to creep up her neck. "No, he just had car trouble and needed a ride."

He let them pass. The Circus if you could call it that was creepy in ways that speak volumes. The people that bring their kids here should have social services called on their ass.

He barely suppressed a shudder as seeing a talking snake with a man's head on it. If Anita saw she ignored it. "The phone's back there. Try to stay out of trouble." She points and then leaves. Not a very social girl.

They told him that they'd pick up his car, but if it was as broken as he'd said then it would cost him as arm and a leg to have it fixed. Money, it always came back to money. And he had none.

Xander walked back around into the main circus tent looking for Anita. He'd wanted to thank her that's when he bumped into someone. "Sorry." He apologized before looking up. She was snarling at him, but stopped with a gasp.

She's a vampire and he was looking stright into her eyes. And nothing happend. She couldn't roll him, in fact she couldn't feel him at all. She just stared at him in awe for a few moments.

"Huh, and I thought you guys were huge on the eye mojo." He jokes. Its what he uses to hide his real feelings: anger, pain, hate, fear, all hidden behind stupid jokes. Almost like he doesn't feel them at all.

But realizing you can look a 'normal' vampire in the eyes and nothing happens isn't something regular. "Err, I'm Xander." He offers her his hand. Still a bit shocked she takes it and gives him a good shake. "Gretchen." Then she snaps out of it.

"Follow me." She grabs his arm and pulls him after her. He's to bemused to argue. And ony a bit worried. After all it's not like she'd put the bite on hmi in front of so many people, right?

They got a few odd looks. But for the most part people ignored them. After all they just seemed like a couple, the guy Xander being too whipped to tell his girl to stop dragging him like an animal.

Finally they made it to the main office. Where Anita was talking with two oddly dressed men. The guys looked like they'd stepped out of the 17th century. The guy sitting behind the desk, who was most likely the boss spoak first.

"What is it Gretchen?" He sounded none to pleased. She tilts her head towards Xander in an almost childlike way. Almost fearful in the old fashioned man's presence. Jean-Claude looked stright into the young man's eyes for a few minutes before realizing he could.

"Wha?" Anita soon sees that Jean-Claude is unable to bespell the young man either. The young animator lets her powers seep out and touchs the boy she gave a ride too. "I can't fee anything supernatural about him. Nothing at all in fact." She tells them puzzled.

"You know him, ma petite?" His accent is old French. The blond man beside Anita seems to back up into a near by shadow hiding away his face. Xander doesn't think it's by accident.

"No, I just gave him a ride." They all look at him strangely. Gretchen is too close to him invading alot of his personal space without touching him. "Guve him some room Gretchen." Anita orders. The short blond vampiress isn't to happy being ordered around.

She snarls at Anita and takes a step forward. "Enough. Don't make me put you back in the box." Jean-Claude's voice rings out in the still air. The vampiress shrinks back into herself and backs away against the far wall.

"Ummmm, hi?" Xander doesn't know what else to say. He'd just wanted to thank Anita when that women dragged him back here. Where everyone was looking at him like he was a freak or something.

The blond man walks over to him with an with an easy grace, half his face hidden in shadow. Almsot like he knows how the light will play off him and moves with it.

He tries to hide his scars but Xander moves quickly to the side and gets an eyeful. Asher turns away and his hand comes up to block Xander's view from the ruined side of his face.

"Does it hurt?" The question catches him off guard. Most people who look at his scars are either sickend or full of pity. Both of which hurt him. Some ask if it hurt when it happend. Those people learn not to ask stupid questions when they get smacked or punched.

None but Jean-Claude has asked in two hundred years whether or not he still hurts. It makes him feel oddly close to the young man who makes the master vampire uneasy at best, "Non, it doesn't hurt anymore." Xander doesn't know what to do beside nod.

For some reason Asher doesn't hide his face when he looks into the young man's eyes. He soon sees that calling him that is wrong. He's still a boy, not yet a man. Not that you could tell looking into his dark brown eyes. They seem old.

"I don't understand it. He seems unaffected all together." His accent is softer then Jean-Claude's but still as French.

The vampiress, Gretchen ventures into the conversation. "Maybe he's a were?" She asked the room, but her eyes locked on Jean- Claude. "Non, but I don't know all the weres. But rest assured he's not a wolf." They're talking about Xander as if he wasn't there at all. Which isn't helping the young man's mood.

"I can't feel anything un-natural about him. In fact I can't feel him at all." Anita tells her boy friend. Because the way she and the sitting vampire were sharing looks Xander couldn't think of them being naything else but lovers.

"You know it's rude to talk about someone like they're not there." At once everyone turns to him expecting him to give them the information they lack.

"Err, can I go now?" He felt stupid asking. After all he was surrounded by at least three vampires and whatever Anita happend to be. And since she seemed so at ease with these creatures she couldn't be human.

Jean-Claude waved his hand at the dark-haired young man dissmissingly. After all he had more important things to do then poke and prod the other man's body to see who or what he was.

But the master vampire was the only one who'd lost interest. Anita was still looking at him. Almost like he was a wild animal she'd come across in the woods. As if she was debating whether to pet him or shoot him. Either way she was making him uncomfortable.

"Asher show our....guest the rest of our humble complex. Maybe time will enlighten you to what he might be." Xander was almost at his boiling point to being treated like a stray animal that had passed by them. He scowled at the sitting Frenchman and was about to let him have it.

That is until he was grabbed by both his arms and was whisked away. Asher had is left and Gretchen his right. "Hey, put me down!" But his pleas fell on deaf ears.

They closed the door after then once they had their new guest fully in there arms. Leaving Anita and Jean-Claude to finsh there conversation. Not that Anita was happy about it. She hadn't brought the young man here to be manhandled.

"Jean-Claude! He's not one of your flunkies you can order around. God, he just wanted to use the damn phone." The small dark haired young women said with anger in her voice.

The master vampire finally stood up and walked around his desk to his lover's side. "Non, ma petite. He is not. But we don't know what he is. And unlike you I don't like unknown creatures to have free reign in my home or my city. And until I do know what he is he will not be leaving."

Anita glared defiantly at her vampire lover. But his words did ring true. More then once they'd had problems with unknown visitors; she couldn't fault him for how he acted. But she did feel somewhat guilty.

After all she was the one who invited the boy to Jean-Claude's resting place. Maybe even putting him and all his vampires in jeopardy.

She let out a sigh, "I guess your right. Jsut don't leave him alone with Gretchen, she was looking at him strengely." She looked up into the sky blue eyes that were once her enemy and now her parkner and lover. He nodded slowly in agreement.

"I saw, ma petite. You know how Gretchen can be." And Anita did. After all the first time she came across the blond vampiress she almost got her neck snapped; all because she was jealous of Jean- Claude's affections for the animator.


He gave up fighting and allowed his vampire captures to haul him deep into the Circus of the Damned. Just looking at the place you'd never suspect that there was a basement. Let alone a cavern underneath.

Stonewalls, with torches as the only light source. It was a tomb and Xander had no doubt that it would be his. He'd known sence he took up his former friend's battle that he wouldn't live to see twenty- five, but he'd hoped to see twenty.

"Don't worry petite homme; we're not going to eat you up." Gretchen joked. Or Xander hoped she was joking, but there was this light in her eyes when she looked at him. It wasn't a pleasent thing.

"Thats enough Gretel. Stop teasing our guest." She promptly shut up but not before she glared daggers at the taller vampire.

Asher for the most part was doing his best to ignore Jean-Claude's child. How his friend could have made such a whining useless girl into a vampire still boggled his mind.

He'd gone nearly two hundred years without seeing his former friend but Jean-Claude hadn't changed that much. Nor had Asher. So the scarred master vampire had to wonder why there way any need for the girl to have been made at all.

And any time he asked Jean-Claude would simply ignore the question. Four hundred years old and he still acted like a pompous brat. Asher was doing his best to ignore the young man they were dragging around as well.

There wasn't any reason for them to keep him here. The boy hadn't posed a threat to anyone; the only reason why Jean-Claude had done this was because he'd never liked puzzles. And this boy was that in a nutshell.

The trio finally found a decent level to place the boy, there being almost eight of them under the circus. Now all they needed was to find a babysitter for the boy. They couldn't leave him alone because someone would make a meal of him.

And Asher wasn't in the mood to watch over the young man. And didn't trust Gretchen too. She seemed fascinated by the boy and that was never good. She was the kind of girl to find a puppy and love it, until she found a better one. Then she'd simply 'loose' the puppy.

And Anita would be most unpleased if he allowed Gretchen to harm the boy. As would Jean-Claude.

It took huge amounts of strengtht to hide oneself from other supernatural creatures. Asher couldn't nor wanted to. Neither could any of the other vampires. Minus Jean-Claude whom could only half hide himself.

Tricking others to believe he was only half his age and power. And then there were the weres. Richard could hide himself, but he was a master werewolf. And at the very moment the pack leader or Ulfric. He had power to spare.

Xander, the man-child was alone. No pack, no brood of any creatures with him. He shouldn't be able to hide anything so well unless he was extremely powerful. Which Asher doubted. The dark haired young man didn't seem old enough to have gained so much power.

He was willing to believe the boy had none whatsoever before believing him strong enough to hide himself so well from them all. Bu there wasn't anyone with no power or feeling to them.

Even if they were head blind to all the mystical energy around them you could still sence there presence. No matter how little it might be. But there was just not anyone with nothing.

"You do know this is kiddnapping, right?" Xander's voice startled Asher and Gretchen both. Up until then they'd forgotten the person being held between them could speak at all.

"Non, my young friend. Only humans get kidnapped. The rest of us....most of us fend for ourselves." He rolled the words around in his head trying to make sence of them. "Last time I checked poofy shirt guy I was human."

Asher frowned down at him. His insult wasn't very witty; most likely he didn't want to anger the people that held him defenseless eighty feet underground and nowhere near anyone who could care if he was screaming.

"Humans, mon ami are selfish beings. They only look our for their own kind and kill those that are not. They wouldn't protect you."

"What the hell do you keep going on about? Get this through your thick French skull, I AM HUMAN!!!" Xander shouted at his captures finally having had enough of being treated like an animal.

"AHHH." Gretchen grabbing a handful of his dark hair and pulling it back painfully cut off his next words. "Calm down petite. No need to scream, yet." She licked her lips then flashed her fangs at him. The vampiress began to creep near the young boy's throat only to be stopped.

"Gretel, he is not for you. As your heard Jean-Claude wants him alive." The scarred vampire told her harshly. Asher having had enough of her teasing the boy and having the boy shouting in his ear.

"Don't call me that! My names Gretchen! Gretchen!" She snarled at the elder vampire forgetting about the young man in her arms altogether.

Xander find the grip the vampires held on his arms loosened, pushes them back and makes a run for the stairs. Asher and Gretchen seemingly ignore him as they argue amongst themselves.

He reached the staircase but someone was coming down cutting off his escape. So instead he decided to try and yell for help. "Someone call the cops!! I'm being kidnapped damn it!" His voice was strained from fear.

"No need to yell. These walls are at least three feet of solid stone. No one can hear you." Said a long haired blond man who couldn't have been more then two years older then Xander.

"Jason, did Jean-Claude send you to fetch us?" Asher asked. He and Gretchen appeared behind Xander so quickly and without any noise at all. It was very discerning. The blond nodded his head before racking his eyes over their prisoner.

"Ya, the boss wanted to know if you'd secured him." Jason gestured towards Xander. Totally ignoring the pleading look in the dark haired teen's deep brown eyes. "Please, take Gretel. She's being a pain." The master vampire informed the young werewolf.

Gretchen let out a low growl to show hos displeased she was. It only made Jason chuckle under his breathe.

"Sure. The boss man wants her up top anyway." At once the unhappy vampiress's face lit up. She pushed the young were out of her way and started to jog up the stairs to her master.

Once they were sure she was gone, Asher turned to the male stripper and asked, "Did he really call for her?" He couldn't keep the surprize out of his voice.

"Hey, Anita told Jean-Claude to keep her away from....Xander was it?" He asked the young man. Who promptly ignored his question. He would have tried to make it up the stairs again but knew if the vampires could move almost twenty feet from where he'd left them arguing to the stair case in only a few moments that there was no sence in even trying.

There was no way he could outrun them up the stairs to freedom. So he was stuck with the vampires and how many other supernatural beings. " Bet he's laughing his ass off." He muttered to himself.

Jason gave Asher a questioning look but he just shurrged it off. "Come on. There are worse fates then being held up in a rent free complex where your brought food and clothing free of charge." The blond where joked.

He was smaller then Asher, maybe 5'8. Bus his muscles were toned. There didn't seem an inch of fat on his whole body. Xander knew he could fight off a single human like himself but not an unknown supernatural being.

As the three of them walked Xander's eyes left Jason and he peered at the vampire that seemed to be in charge, or at least whenever Jean-Claude wasn't.

If you could ignore the scars that ran down the left side of his face and body he was very handsome. Long blond hair, it was almsot golden. And his eyes were so blue they were almost white. They were simply chilling.

Xander's two guards were aware that their prisoner was sizing them up, and neither minded. If push came to shove they were sure they could knock the boy out and drag him to his cell if need be.

A few minutes later when they'd walked far enough from the staircase they came upon a few large rooms, four in fact.

"There are rooms throughout the levels. We need the room to hold all those that came here seeking the right to live under The Master of the City's roof. You'll be sharing this level with Melaine and her pet naga."

Jason told him, as if that really informed of much. Xander didn't know a Melaine and had no idea what a naga was. But it seemed that he'd be finding out soon enough.

"You know you could jsut let me go. Cuz if you do I promise to keep this whole kidnapping thing under raps, alright?" He made one last shot at it, Jason gave him a look that said 'who the hell are you kidding?' Nope, they were not going to let him go.

The room they brought him too wasn't too bad. It has a large clean bed, bare wooden floors, and a wooden desk in the far corner. It was nice. The toom was about sixteen by sixteen, lots of room.

"So this Melaine and her hampster or whatever will be staying in here with me? Did you grab them too? Because if you did kidnap them, this kidnapping this might just be a developing pattern. I think you need ot seek professional help."

Jason let out a quick laugh, even Asher broke a smile. It wasn't that he was really funny, it was that the guy was still joking even after the whole thing. It was sort of admirable.

"Non, ma petite homma. Melaine's room is across from yours. She doesn't share with anyone." Then his lips curled into a smile, "And her 'hampster' has a room a bit further down this hall."

"A rodent gets a room all to its self? I made my pet turtle sleep in the closet. Vampires are weird." Jason laughed some more. Xander could soon see that this guy was cool so, so why was he hanging out with these monsters? He had no idea and didn't ask.

"Its getting late. We'll leave you to get acquainted with your new surroundings." They turned to leave.

"Hey what about food? I haven't eatten since breakfast. And I don't have any cloths here. If you could let me go I could swing by my apartment and be back in a jiffy."

Those sharp blue eyes fized on him. "For some reason mon ami I think you'd ran as far and as fast as from us as you could if we let you go." White blue eyes fixed on dark brown in a battle of wills. They stared at one another for almost ten minutes before Jason stepped between them.

"Come on, its getting late." He stepped from Asher to look at their guest. "You can't fault me for trying." Xander's voice was level, almost defeated. "Naw, I geuss we can't. I'll bring down some food and a change of cloths later."

They let him standing in his new room all alone. It had one door, no windows, and only torches to light the place. It was like a well- furnished cave. Jason and Asher were almost out of sight when one of them called out to him.

"By the way all the main doors to the stairs will be locked during the day." And with that they were gone.


True to his word Jason came back half an hour later with a bag of take-out and a change of cloths. The food Xander took happily having not eaten in almost twn hours. The cloths on the other hand weren't to his liking.

"Come on, you really expect me to wear this?" The outraged teen flung his hand out towards the cloths Jason had sat on his new bed.

The leather pants were tight but not really all that bad. The chain mail shirt was. Loosly knitted links that made it very easy to see right through the shirt. And it couldn't even be called a shirt, because it was more like a tank top.

"That thing has to weigh five pounds!" It might have been cutting edge fashion but that didn't mean Xander wanted it.

"Stop your bitching. It weighs three pounds at the very most. Besides it was the boss man that laid them out for you. He has a thing for dressing people." Jason pointed out his own cloths.

Tight black silk pants, and leather straps covering his chest. He looked like he'd stepped out of a vampire's wet dream; which come to think of it he might have.

"But if you don't want to wear it you can always go toppless." Xander would have doen just that, but it struck him as a bad idea to walk around monsters half naked. It was just asking for trouble.

Cursing lightly to himself he finally agreed. "Can I have some privacy?" When he saw that Jason hadn't left. The blond gave him a smirk before leaving him to eat and change.

Once he was finally dressed or at least mostly covered he sat down and ate his dinner alone.

An hour passed before he was too bored to sit on his new bed anymore. He started roaming around the level he was on. Most of the rooms were bare. The ones that Jason and Asher had pointed out as his roomies weren't bare.

The room he gussed, that had to be Melaine's was what you'd expect a women's room to be. It has a soft bed, full-length mirror in the corner, and lots of cloths in the closet. Nothing seemed out of the norm.

Her naga's room was mostly bare as well. It had only a few pillows in the far corner, almost like it had nested there. "Maybe its a dog." He said out loud. Hampsters wouldn't need anything more then a box and some pellets.

After he was done searching the surrounding rooms Xander tireed to find an escape. But it was fruitless. The main staircase was the only way out that he could find and it was locked up tight.

Finally he went back to his room and sat on the bed where he thought over everything the vamps and other people had said since he got there.

They didn't think he was human. That was the only thing Xander could reckon. From the very moment he walked into Jean-Claude's office they all looked at him like some unknown beastie.

And that made no sence! He knew he was human, 100% sure. He'd hung out with slayers, witchs, a vampire and a werewolf. They were beasties, sorta. He was not.

Which was the problem. They all had athing; some power or destiny that gave them reason to fight the good fight. Xander didn't. And his former friends took every chance they got to point that out.

Telling him that he should leave the fighting to them. That he'd only get himself hurt or one of them killed because they weer looking after him.

And now he'd fallen in with another group of beasties and none of them thought he was normal or human. It would be damn near laughable if it weren't so sad.

The monsters/kidnappers were showing him more respect in one day then his friends had in three years. But the monsters respect wouldn' mean much if they decided to eat him or something.

"Who the hell are you?" The voice knocked him out of his musing right quick. Xander looked over towards the entrance to his room to find a women tapping her heel expectedly.

He'd thought Anita and Gretchen were hot, but this women blew them both out of the water.

She had long waist-length black hair, and a body that was tanned except for her legs. But those would tan nicely he was sure if she would get in the sun some. That is, he thought, IF she could get in the sun.

Her eyes were a lovely shade of brown cream. She was wearing make-up but not to much. It seemed a little went a long way. She was tapping her red painted fingernails against the wall as she looked at him.

"Did you not hear me? Or do I have to spell it out for you? Who. Are. You?" Ya, that had to be Melaine. And she really didn't like sharing. Not even when he wasn't even in her room; just on the same hall.

He thought it best not to piss her off anymore then he needed to. After all she might be able to eat him like the others.

"Xander. I'm guessing poofy shirt didn't tell you about me?" Figures. The guy could kidnap him but not inform all his not to eat him. Vampires just didn't think like the rest of humanity. Common sence was lost on them.

Her lips parted into a questioning poise. "Poofy shirt?" Guess she isn't into humor, he mused to himself. Ya, you know that French guy behind the desk. The one that would seem better suited in porn then running a circus for kids? Poofy shirt."

Her head fell back and she let out a loud laugh that made the hair on his arms stand on end. "Oh, I can almost see his face now when he hears about his new nickname." The humor seemed to leak out of her, leaving only a serious on her face now.

"What are you doing here? Why would The Master send you down here?" Both were good questions. Not that Xander knew the answer to either.

"Damned if I know. I came in to use the phone; the next moment I'm being dragged before poofy shirt and his girl friend. Then he gets Asher to bring me down here. He didn't kidnap you, I'm guessing."

She walked towards him, but walking wouldn't be the right word for it. More like glided. She seemed to excrete far too much grace just walking into a room. Melanie stopped a few feet in front of him and peered all over his body.

She wasn't being discrete about it either. Her eyes were drinking up every bit of him, and it made Xander feel really awkward.

"So where's your hamster?" He questioned not wanting to start blushing from her powerful gaze. "Hamster? Why would I have a rat?" She seemed almost insulted at the idea that she'd own a furry pet.

"This naga they were telling me about. What is he, a dog then?" He was expecting her to answer politely, or as polite as she has been. He wasn't expecting her to break into a fit of giggles. Not that he minded. She looked even more beautiful then.

The arrogant posture she'd been wearing seemed to melt away as she laughed. It made him feel better, for at least someone was still laughing at his jokes.

"Oh no, he's not a dog or hamster. I hope you don't mind snakes." Her voice dropped subtly as she said snakes, almost in a hiss. She crept over to him and maneuvered his knees between her legs.

"You do like snakes, don't you Xander?" He looked up at her in shock. He was about to stutter an answer when her mouth started to inch towards his. That's when he saw the fangs.

They could have made a vampire green with envy they were that big. He didn't see how she could close her mouth with those things. "Jesus." He sprang back away from her almost falling off the end of the bed.

Melanie did not look happy. She opened her mouth and hissed out him. " What are you?!?" She screeched.

"Wha?" He asked from the floor. "No human man could resist me! I am a lamia, no the only lamia!! You should be crawling on your hands and knees to beg for my affections!" Great, he thought, that's all I need another scorned girl.

She jumped on the bed and towered over him. Her tongue flicked out of her mouth, it was forked like a snake's. Melanie was just about to pounce on him and do god knows what when a voice called from the hall. "Enough!"

She stopped almost before he was done speaking the word. Jean-Claude walked into the room with a 'none to pleased look' on his face. But it wasn't her he was glaring at, no. It was Xander.

"I offer you a place to stay, clean cloths, and a hot meal. Yet you still persist in lying to me. Even when the evidence piles up you still lie to my face!" Jean-Claude's blue eyes flared to life almost like they were on fire.

"What the hell do you want from me?!?" Xander yelled. He'd had enough of being toyed with by these things. If he was going to die then he was going to do it fighting, not crawling on the ground like a spineless worm.

He jumped up and marched right up to Jean-Claude and glared back into those two blue flames that were once eyes. "Tell me mon petite homme! Tell me what you are and why you're in my city. That's all I ask." His tone was like silk over snowflakes. A voice that was soft and sultry to no end.

But no matter how controlled he was, the burning eyes sort of gave away his temperament.

"God damn it! I don't know! I don't have a fucking clue why I can look into your eyes, or why all your people's mind-games don't work on me! I just wanted to use the phone."

They continued to glare at one another for a few seconds more. They played this staring game until Jean-Claude's eyes started to waver and change back into their normal light blue shade. "Can you really not know, mon petite homme?"

Xander had taken French in high school and was almost to his limit on being called 'little man'. But if Frenchie was starting to see reason he didn't want to start a useless fight.

"I really don't." Jean-Claude might not be able to sense the young man before him, but he could still detect lies. The four hundred year old master vampire knew he was being told the truth, as much as the boy knew.

Without another word to him Jean-Claude turned to the lamia, "He's our guest. Leave him be." he turned and left without a backwards glance.

"Hey! Come back here. I thought we'd cleared the air. Let me out!" The dark haired teen yelled behind the vampire, but was promptly ignored.

Frustrated, Xander turned to the lamia. "Get off my bed." He grunted. She seemed to have gotten her temper back under control and was once again eyeing him from head to toe.

"Why don't you come and make me?" He could detect the rare lust in her voice. She'd no doubt been turned on from his and Jean-Claude's little spat. Violence just did it for some people.

"I bet you've never heard this before, but I'm too tired to play anymore games. Out." She looked like she was about to have another fit but placed a pout on her glossy lips and opened her eyes wide. Giving him her best puppy dog look.

"I bet you're still up for a game or two." She practically slithered down off the bed in an extremely sexy way. Her body rubbing against the bed so much Xander let out a grown. Melanie seemed pleased with his reaction.

She sauntered off his bed and rubbed her hand down his chest as she passed him towards her own room. "If you get lonely in the middle of the night, I'm just right over here." She teased.

He would have thought of something just as teasing if he hadn't been caught up in watching a snake with a man's head pass his door. He did a double take and then he rubbed his eyes to make sure he was seeing right.

A mans head on a snake's body. As it passed it nodded to him "Hello."

"Ummm, hi?" He said dumbly. The naga smiled back at him before slithering into its room. Xander could here the lamia laughing at him from across the hall. "No, my life isn't confusing at all."


Above ground, Jean-Claude and Asher were going over what he'd learned from the young man. "He really doesn't know what he is?" Asher didn't sound surprised.

"Non. And since he has no idea, we can't know for sure either." Jean sounded almost disappointed. At first he wanted the boy held to make sure he wasn't a danger to them.

But then he got to thinking; what if he could be turned to their side? Another ally couldn't hurt things. Anita seemed to bring them out of the woodwork. And one that could hide their self so well would be an advantage.

And he still might be. If they could find out what he was. "You don't seem suprised, my friend." Jean-Claude asked seeing the thoughtful look on his second-in-command's face.

"Its just, he seems too young to be able to hide himself. I don't believe he was trying to do this. Maybe he's doing it without even realizing it?" That was an idea, one that Jean-Claude couldn't easy disprove.

"Bon, Bon. But what good does that do us? What good is a defenseless spy?" If he were to be used as their informant on their enemies he'd need the ability to hide himself. But if he was caught then what good was he?

"A spy? Non, this ability had to sprout form somewhere. He could be a latent telepath; such a power could be used far better then simply spying." They could hear the wheels working in each other's minds.

A telepath could enter an enemies' mind and smash it. Or take from them all their secrets. But they were rare, and not easily turned.

"But he could be something different altogether." Jean-Claude argued. He'd lived too long and seen too much to be suckered in by his silver tongued friend. Asher was renowned for getting his way, before and after his scarring.

"Does that matter? He could be a telepath, and then he might not be. That's not the point." There was a twinkle in his white blue eyes that confirmed it for Jean-Claude. He had a plan.

"Then my dear Asher, what is the point?" They both knew Jean-Claude would agree. He didn't have a clue what the plan could be, but Asher did. And for a four hundred year old vampire, he'd survived on his wits and charm alone.

And with his scarring he had to rely totally on his wits. "He might be something else, but something just as powerful. A precog, an empath, or a telekinetic. There are many mental abilities that could be wrapped around someone's shields to hide the user much like this Xander has done."

"Ah." Jean-Claude was seeing it now. He might be a telepath then again he might not. But he was something just as powerful, just as useful. All they needed to do was find out just how powerful, how useful.

"How was the petite homme in the den of snakes?" A test Asher had come up with. Jean-Claude had told him to put their prisoner... err guest on one of the levels. It had been Asher's idea to put him with Melanie and her naga.

The lamia would take the boy as her slave if she could control him. And if she could then the boy was of no use. But if he'd been able to ignore her powers as easily as he could a vampire's then he would be useful indeed.

Jean-Claude's lips curled into a pleasant smile, "Oui, Melanie was quit outraged that he wasn't falling all over himself to be her servant."

Asher smiled as well. It was just as he thought. The young man could hide himself and defend his mind from others' and their powers. That meant that mental walls were built in his mind. The blond vampire then frowned at that.

"If he can so easily guard his mind then there is little chance he could be so ignorant of his own powers." If his mental shields are this strong enough to fend off others' and their powers then they would have had to have been built.

Mental walls didn't just appear. They took years to create and just as many years to perfect. He had to know that he was doing it. Even if very little of his power was being used now to hold up the walls. He had to know they were there.

"I see what you mean. He can lie to us without his body giving away his deceit. That's.....troubling." If he could do that then he might still be a danger. He might still have some sort of mission to complete against them.

"Or, he didn't understand the question. Half-truths can be seen as lies. Maybe not understanding the question could be just as misleading." Asher told him, and hoped he was right. It would be a pity to have to kill the child.

"The sunrise draws near. We will finish this conversation tonight." They embraced before going their separate ways. Asher had to be underground in his coffin before Jean-Claude did. He was after all The Master of the City.

With such a title came extra powers. One of which was to be trapped in the death slumber less and less as time went on. Asher would sleep soon, and Jean-Claude could finish some paperwork before he had to retire for the day.


The following day was a long one for Xander. Most everyone was asleep, which included Melanie and her pet. So they weren't about to help him out of his boredom. And with the stairs still locked he was stuck.

So to amuse himself he once again went and rambled through the empty rooms, minus the two rooms that were full of sleeping snake people. The thought made him shiver. The naga didn't seem like a bad guy, for a head on a snake.

He was surprisingly polite, and British. It was freaky talking with him before he went to sleep. To Xander, it was like having Giles with him. A short snaky Giles, but his watcher buddy never the less.

The watcher was one of two people Xander really missed from back home. Cordelia was the other, but she'd moved to LA right after school ended. He really hadn't got a chance to talk with her since.

They might have left on good terms, but it was clear to him his former love was still hurting from his cheating. He'd do almost anything to change that. To turn back time and kick his younger self in the head for even thinking about cheating on her.

Queen C was great. Once you got under that cool uncaring visage she liked to wear she really was a nice person. A bit outspoken at times, but still great.

The rest of the gang he didn't miss. He'd thought they'd welcome him back after they took down the Mayor, but Buffy had made it very clear that it was a one-time deal. She made sure he knew that they really didn't need him.

It took all of Xander's self control not to blow up at her. Not to yell and scream at her for being such a selfish brat. That he'd helped, that he'd saved the day. That he wasn't as worthless as they all thought he was.

But any time he tried to have a conversation with Buffy where he tried to explain to her that she might be wrong they'd almost come to blows.

Like the time when she was being such a bitch after the Master was killed. Which almost got everyone killed. When Angelus had been freed and was on a killing spree and she wouldn't do anything. So he decided not to argue.

In fact he welcomed leaving and taking that moment to finally wash his hands of her and slaying. He still had his self-respect. He wasn't going to beg her to let him help. No, fuck that. He left, only telling Giles he was going.

Xander was going to make a life of his own in the world, a life in which he didn't have to beg and plead permission from some self- righteous slayer. "Hey, would you keep it down!" An irritated voice called out to him.

He hadn't even noticed how much noise he was making as he thought about his former friends. But he'd woken up the lamia, and she didn't look pleased.

She walked over to him and grabbed him roughly by his chain mail shirt and pulled him behind her. He tried to pull away but she was too strong, she was damn strong. And there wasn't much need to start a fistfight so he let her pull him after her.

Once they got to her room she disrobed. Xander hadn't been paying to much attention to her or what she was wearing until then. Melanie must have pulled the robe on so as not to frighten him.

But once she had him in her room she didn't need it anymore. His eyes traveled her body, there weren't words for how she looked. He'd only really seen Faith nude that one time, but she looked nothing like the woman before him.

"Stop drooling and get in the damn bed." She sounded amused at his reaction. Her voice brought him out of his musings. "Now wait a second here..." She cut him off roughly by grasping his head between her hands and pulling him into a deep kiss.

Her tongue worked its way into his mouth and there Melanie made sure to taste everything he had to offer. After a few minutes she pulled away. " Don't worry, I'm not going to take you....yet."

Before he could utter a word she pushed him down on the bed and crawled in next to him. She wrapped her body around his her left hand snatching his shirt off. Then she pulled the silk covers up around them and rested her head against his nude chest.

"Now, for the love of Christ! Go to sleep." She closed her eyes and let the rhythm of his heart rock her to sleep. With her warm body nestled so close to his Xander finally shut up and took her lead.

Hours later, well after nightfall, that's how Jason and Anita find them.


"Well shit. He moves fast, doesn't he?" Jason joked. Twenty-four hours here and the dark-haired stranger had already scored one. The werewolf sniffed the air and then frowned. They hadn't done anything, just slept in the same bed. But still, its more then he'd ever gotten with the snake.

She preferred to play master to those she could control. And that was pretty much any man she wanted. Shy master vampires and strong- willed weres. Which Jason was, the fact surprised him more then it did Jean-Claude.

"Stop leering at them and wake him up." Anita grunted out. Sounding none too pleased with this turn of events. The dark-haired animator would take this up with Jean-Claude. She'd told him not to let anyone play with the kid.

"Come on, they're just sleeping." Jason tried to explain, but she didn't seem to care. "Just wake him up and get him upstairs."

Then she turned and left, no doubt to yell someone's ear off. The blond werewolf didn't understand why she was angry. It couldn't just be because the kid had hooked up with a lamia.

But she wasn't willing to tell him about it. So unless Jean-Claude or Asher thought he should know he'd be left in the dark. Finding the chain mail shirt he'd giving Xander the night before Jason picked it up and threw it between the two sleeping people.

"Wha?" Xander asked first. "Hey, dog breath its not time for my set to go on. So piss off!" Melanie growled. Then she snuggled back up to her bed partner.

"No, no. Can't have none of that. The boss wants your teddy bear upstairs." The were told her. Enjoying seeing her upset far more then he should. "Fine, go with the nice puppy Xan...." She trailed off falling back to sleep in seconds.

The dark-haired teen out dressed in the hall as to not wake her up. Not that the last time he woke her up ended too badly, he thought to himself with a grin. Jason seemed to think it was cute.

"You animal you." The were told the younger man with a teasing smile. His smile was starting to get on Xander's nerves. It was too early...err late for joking. And he had an empty stomach.

"What does poofy shirt want anyway?" He grumbled as they made their way up top. "And why the hell did you throw that thing at me. It's heavy damn it!" Before he knew what he was doing he punched the were in the arm playfully.

Jason didn't seem to mind. He'd grown up in a small town where his childhood friends had been like siblings. Hitting and arguing and fighting were sorta like showing you cared.

Xander was thinking around the same thing. He'd played with Willow like that for years, all the way through high school, him and Jesse. But thinking about his former life drug him out of his happy mood quickly.

After all, Jesse was dead. Staked by his very own hands. And Willow? She'd made her feelings clear; like Buffy she thought that it was best for him to leave.

The were could sense the change in the man walking next to him. He might be able to hide his presence, but his scent was still strong. And he could smell the young man's mood change from playful to angry in record time.

"Hmmmm, the boss just wants to talk. Then I'll take you out to get something to eat." That seemed to help the young man lose some of his anger. Just not all of it.

The Circus was already booming. Parents were pulling their kids around looking at all there was to see. The smell of popcorn and cotton candy was clear in the air.

The sound of children talking, laughing, and yelling was the easiest thing to hear. But you could also make out the sound of people 'Ooohhhhing, and Ahhhhhing' in one of the nearby tents. The sign on the front read, "Come see the dead come to life."

Zombies, Xander hated zombies. A big part of that hate went back to when Jimmy O'Tool and his gang had wanted to make him just like them. Until he killed them all, that is.

It was what you'd expect a circus to be like with some odd differences. Zombies, and were-creatures, and of course vampires. But otherwise it was like any fairground you'd ever went to when you were a kid.

Which was creepy in it's own right. The dark-haired young man hadn't even noticed he and Jason were giving a wide birth through all the crowds until they made it to the main tent.

Jean-Claude was sitting behind his desk much like he was the first time Xander had met him. Asher and Gretchen weren't there, but Anita was standing beside him with an angry look on her face.

"What took you so long?" She yelled at the pair. Jean-Claude placed his hand over hers to calm her down. It seemed to do just that. "Now petite homme, let us get down to it. Shall we?" His thick French accent made it somewhat hard for Xander to follow what he was saying.

"Lets." He growled out. Jason raised his hand towards the young man's shoulder but thought it better not to touch him too much.

Despite the younger man's angry tone Jean-Claude continued to smile pleasantly. "Xander let me be blunt. I'd like for you to stay with us."

"Poofy shirt let me be blunt. Go screw yourself." Anita choked on her own laughter. All eyes turned to her. But she couldn't help but keep on laughing. She'd been saying for years that Jean-Claude needed to lose the old-timie shirts.

But she'd never come out and said it like that. The young animator sorta felt cheated that she hadn't thought of that before. "Are you quite done ma petite?" The four hundred year old master vampire said with a glare.

If he hadn't wanted the boy so much Jean-Claude might have beaten him to an inch of his life just for that. He wasn't used to such disrespect. And it didn't help that his ladylove thought it was so funny.

He could handle Anita's twisted sense of humor; for the most part it was much like his own. And Jason's wasn't too bad either. The young were always had a teasing joke going on or some other lewd remark coming from him.

Jean-Claude didn't know if his nerves could stand another jokester, one that was even willing to poke fun at him. "Non, petite homme. I don't think you'd understand. I want to offer you a home, a place to work."

Not that he was too sure he had a job for the young man. He just wanted the boy there so if he needed him Jean-Claude knew where to find him. But of course he wasn't going to let that bit of information be known.

"Why? And why the hell should I? Most people wouldn't want to stick around their abductors." Xander tried to act calm, but everyone could see the boy had moved into a defensive stance.

It took all of Anita's willpower not to pull her gun on him. After her conversation with Jean-Claude she too wasn't happy to have an unknown being walking around their town. Not one that could hide himself so easily, and sure not one that took a soldier's stance.

The Master of the City quickly acted to defuse the situation. "You want reasons, alright. You don't have any money. You don't have a car. And after the chat I had with your landlord you don't have a home. That's one reason why you're going to stay here."

He let Xander absorb the information before going on. "For another reason, whether you know it or not you have power. Something that makes you special."

"And you want to use me." The young man stated blandly. Not giving away whether or not he was staying or going. "Oui, petite homme. The vampires of this city depend on me. What kind of leader would I be if I didn't try to gain new allies wherever I can find them?"

Jason had been quiet throughout the whole thing. Instead of helping out or hindering the conversation he'd gone over to the loveseat and pulled out a pocket gameboy to play with.

Anita, as much as she'd want to look like she was contributing wasn't. She was silently rubbing her fingers along her browning over her shoulder. So neither of them were any help in Xander's making up his mind.

So there was only him as he let Jean-Claude talk him into staying. Then there would be no one to blame but himself if things were to go bad. "Fine. What kind of job are you thinking about?" The master vampire seemed pleased at his reaction. A cocky grin adorned his lips.

"I'm not quite sure yet, but don't worry. You'll be paid no matter what the job. Jason, could you escort Anita to her car. I don't want to bore her any further. And I'm sure she has plans tonight." He didn't miss how Jean-Claude wanted his girl out of the room as they went on with their conversation.

And neither did Anita. She was about to let him have it when she glanced at her wristwatch. "Damn it. Yeah, Jas. I have to go." She pointed at Jean-Claude. "But don't think your ass is off the hook."

She marched out of the room Jason on her heels.

"Now, petite homme. Lets talk just the two of us." He gestured for Xander to have a seat in front of his desk. Once he was seated Jean- Claude let the young man really know what he wanted.

"There are certain things Jason and a few others do for me. Things that the public might not take too kindly with." He couldn't help but notice how very mafia that sounded.

"I don't kill humans." He told the vampire. Then cursed himself for how that sounded. Like he didn't kill people, but he was more then willing to kill other things.

Jean-Claude seemed to notice his discomfort but chose to ignore it. "I wouldn't ask you to kill any.....humans for me. But there are other creatures that might come to St. Louis. Other creatures and their people that might endanger all of us. Would you be willing to deal with those?"

So that's what he wanted, Xander thought amused. The vampire was playing mafia. And what decent crime boss could go on without a hit man or two. "How much are you willing to pay?"

Jean-Claude let out a full laugh, one that wasn't easily faked. "Oh, petite homme. I knew I had you pegged." The laughter disappeared in an instant leaving the vampire looking very serious.

"For submissive weres I'm willing to pay a grand for their pelts. For alpha weres two grand for theirs. And any vampires I send you out for I'll give you five hundred for ever century of their life." He sounded like he was talking about the weather, not murder.

That sorta grated on Xander's nerves a bit. But he couldn't throw stones; he'd sounded bland about killing vamps and demons to the point where even his former friends looked at him oddly.

"And master vampires?" He wasn't in any hurry to go after one, but if he did Xander wanted to know how much he'd be expected to get for endangering himself.

"You are a professional, aren't you petite homme. If I send you against a master vampire I'll pay three grand for them." He thought about it for a second before answering. "Three grand and an extra grand for every century they've lived."

Now it was Jean-Claude's turn to think it over. "Only for those masters older then six hundred years."

"Four hundred." He argued. Angelus was one tough bastard and he was only two hundred and fifty. Xander wasn't willing to go up against one three times his senior for pocket change.

"Five hundred and not a year younger." They nodded in agreement. "Wonderful. Jason will be waiting for you outside. He'll take you somewhere to eat." Jean-Claude opened his top desk drawer and pulled out his checkbook.

"Here, three hundred to get you started. My wolf will take you somewhere where you can pick up a few weapons." He handed the check to the dark-haired young man. Xander got up and walked to the door, but before leaving he turned to the Master of the City.

"Anita doesn't know anything about this, does she?" He wasn't sure why he was asking. But he didn't want her to find out if she didn't already know. That could get sticky.

"Non, petite homme. And I'd like to keep it that way." He dismissed him with the wave of his hand. Xander almost gave him the finger for that. He really didn't like being treated like he was beneath anyone.

But he wasn't willing to start a fight over it, yet.


Just as Jean-Claude had said Jason was waiting in the parking lot to take him out to dinner. The were didn't even notice the dark-haired young man sneak up on him. He was too busy flirting with a couple of teenagers.

"A bit young for you, don't you think?" His cool voice made the girls jump. The only evidence that Jason was surprised was that his eyes widened a bit. "Jesus, Xan. Make some noise when you walk."

The longhaired were grabbed his heart in play, "You could have given me a stroke." His voice went high and childlike. "Then how would you ever get anything to eat?" Jason was definitely a joker.

Xander couldn't help but let his new friend's humor get to him; a smirk crossed his face. "Yes, however would I get fed? You're the only one that ever seems to take me out." He batted his big brown eyes in a flirtatious way.

The two teens laughed at their antics. Which brought Xander's attention to them again. "And who might you two lovely ladies be?" He spoke to them but his eyes were on Jason. He hoped the teens weren't supposed to be their dinner.

Xander did his best to explain to Jean-Claude that he was 100% grade A human, but the Frenchman didn't seem to believe him.

"They were just keeping me company until you came out." Jason told him pointedly. The wolf liked his life here. He liked being Jean- Claude's wolf. He wasn't an alpha and was used to being dominated by those stronger then him.

That's why he didn't mind Anita doing it so much, and that it gave him a kick. She felt it too but would never admit it. What Jason didn't like was being knocked down even further on the ladder.

And with his master having a private talk with the new guy only made it more apparent that he'd been knocked down another peg. "Don't you think they should be going home, Jas? Its not safe at night."

The were didn't know whether to take that as his companion being overly protective of the girls or that he'd subtly threatened them right in front of him. And he couldn't read it in the dark-haired man's eyes.

"Ya, ladies have a nice night." The girls had been smiling throughout the whole talk. But their smiles flattened at seeing that they might not be getting a ride.

Xander got into Jason's car and waited for the were. Who after saying goodnight to the girls, got in with a sour look on his face. "What was that about?" He asked.

The ex-scooby kept his eyes forward never once turning them. "They're human." He stated blandly. If anything Jason looked even more upset at hearing that. "What?" He demanded. "Am I not good enough to talk with humans?"

"Just as long as that's all your doing. Didn't you see the looks in their eyes? They were sizing you up for a tumble in the sack." He said never once taking his eyes off the moving sidewalk.

"So? What you don't like inner species dating or something?" He heard enough bible thumpers sprouting out the same thing. That humans shouldn't be soiled with the filth of shifters. He was in no mood to hear it again.

"No, I don't. They knew you were a werewolf. Didn't you realize that?" Xander was pronouncing the words slowly almost like he was talking to a small child. That seemed to only piss Jason off more.

"What is your damn point? If you have one." Jean-Claude had told him to get the kid some food in him and take him by an outfitter. He wasn't told to put up with this shit.

For the first time since they got into the car Xander turned to him. "They didn't want YOU. They wanted what you are. They wanted to be able to say they were with a wolf."

As he thought about it that seemed to make sense to the shifter. It wouldn't have been the first time he was hit on by someone like that. He'd decided long ago to not let that bother him.

"Humans and supernatural beings don't mix well at the best of times. Those girls? Tourist. Dumb shits that got it into their minds to find themselves a monster. It didn't matter who or what it was. You can do better then them."

He said so offhandedly that it took Jason by surprise. He'd said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world. It sorta took the wind out of his sails.

"They think they know what goes on in the night, Jas. They think it's so cool. To hang around monsters; that it makes them important. Special." He was having a hard time keeping the resentment out of his voice.

Xander's mind went to Buffy and Willow. How they'd flaunt their relationships in his face. Oz, Xander liked. Because the young werewolf loved her and Willow loved him. That relationship could work.

Buffy's relationship with Angel was sick. It was like a battered woman with her abusive lover. Angel would say he was sorry for what he was, for what he'd done and Buffy would welcome him back with open arms.

Xander knew why she did it. It made her feel special. Like it wasn't enough that she was a slayer that dating a vampire was so much better. It was twisted.

And he wasn't going to let Jason go down that road. He hadn't known the man that long, but he didn't want him to suffer like that. "Anita, she knows the deal. Doesn't she?" He asked the wolf, but not really expecting an answer.

"She knows the rules. She lives in this world with us. Jas, find someone like her. Don't let some pretty face get you trapped. Next thing you know you've got a collar around your neck and you are shitting on the papers like a good dog. Is that what you want?"

His earlier anger was gone by now. As much as he'd like to deny it, Xander was right. Jason might not have a lot of things but he still had his self-respect.

They'd finally pulled into a Bar-B-Q place. "You ever date a human?"

The odd pair got out and went inside. There were a few strange looks because of how they were dressed, but they ignored them. "One, we parted as friends for the most part. But she knew the deal. She wasn't a stranger to the night life."

"You know Xan, if you don't want Jean-Claude to talk to you like you're a monster you shouldn't let him hear you talking like that."

Xander gave him a look, not really understanding what the other man was trying to say. "Didn't you realize you were talking like you were apart from them? You said 'humans' like it left a bad taste in your mouth."

It always came back to Sunny Dale for Xander. How could he explain that he could no longer do what he once did? That he just didn't care enough anymore to fight the good fight.

As much as he'd like to believe otherwise he really didn't think of himself like one of them anymore. It's a hard pill to swallow, having more in common with the monsters then people.

And with Jean-Claude and pretty much everyone else he'd met since he got in St. Louis telling him he wasn't 100% human; it was making it harder for Xander to think of himself as he once did.

"Doesn't it pain you to be around them? They don't want us here. They look at a werewolf and the first thing that pops in their mind is a silver bullet. They look at a vamp and their hands itch for a stake, I know mine do."

Jason saw how this was making the other man feel. That it seemed just talking about it made him fall deeper and deeper into a dark mood. So he didn't say anything more. They ordered their food and ate it in silence.


Across town Anita was having problems of her own. Richard revoked all protection on her pard and the wereleopards. He'd made it clear he didn't want anything to do with her anymore. But she hadn't expected him to turn his back completely.

Richard had told her point blank that he didn't want her anymore. That he couldn't be with anyone who was more at home with monsters then he was.

She'd just been trying to make him a better leader, a better king. If he had stayed as he was at the start of all this he wouldn't have lived a week.

And there were more important things then him at stake here, and the pack would fall apart without a stronger leader. Not that he was keeping them together either. But turning his back on her was one thing, and she could even understand it.

But her pard was innocent. Richard wasn't strong he was cruel. And what hurt Anita more then she cared to admit was that he really couldn't tell the difference between the two.

Cherry was sitting at the dining room table with Anita. They'd been trying to find some way around this. If news that the pard was defenseless the others would converge on them like...well animals.

Before Anita took over as their alpha the wereleopards were free meat to anyone that could hold them down. "We could ask Rafael. He and his rats don't have anything against us. And he's your friend." Cherry explained.

"Yeah, but he's got problems of his own. Those damned hyenas are causing trouble for them. With Narcissus caring for his upcoming baby he's left his clan to fend for themselves. And their tastes run dark."

Anita didn't want to burden the Rat King anymore then she had too. He'd helped her and her pard a lot in the past. If he hadn't lent his help they might have been wiped out. "Well, what about Jean- Claude? Or Asher? They'd been willing to help."

The dark haired animator was sure her vampire lover would help, but she didn't want to ask. She was a strong woman, and proud. She didn't want to have to run to her man for protection. But if things started to get bad she'd have no other choice.

"Jean-Claude is still having problems with Belle. She's been demanding help from the other Council members. She doesn't want Jean- Claude or Asher out from under her thumb." Things were tough, and Richard's selfish actions were making them worse.

Anita would feel a lot better when Nathaniel got here. Her young pomme de sang just had this way about him. But he was at Guilty Pleasures trying to get their werefox Gilbert a job.

The red-haired shifter had made it clear that he didn't want to burden her or her pard. So he was getting a job to help out wherever he could. But other then looking pretty and timid he wasn't good at anything.

So Nathaniel got him a job as a stripper. And once he got over being so damn shy he really started to enjoy himself.

"Jean-Claude might not be able to help in person, but he has enough pull to put out a warning doesn't he?" There was real fear in Cherry's voice. It wasn't too long ago when she was free meat to anyone and everyone.

And as much as being with the pard had helped calm those fears she still woke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. She would die before being owned again.

Anita could feel the girls fear pulsing. It was enough to make her bite the bullet and push her pride out of the way long enough to ask Jean-Claude for help. "Alright, I'll give him a call."


Getting illegal weapons were easier then it should have been. Jean- Claude being the cheating bastard that he was didn't give Xander enough to get any heavy-duty weapons.

But he could afford a pair of Glocks and half a dozen extra clips of silver bullets. Silver kills were-beings everyone knows that. All you had to do to learn that was watch a movie. But what most people don't know is silver can hurt vamps too.

It wont kill them unless they're young or not very powerful, and that's only if you hit their heart. And if you hit them somewhere else it makes them heal almost humanly slow.

But that wasn't always the case as Jason informed him about Gretchen. Some vampires aren't affected by silver at all.

"So we bring stakes too." Xander didn't have a problem packing stakes; he was used to it by now. But Jason gave him a look that said 'what are you sniffing?'. "Don't tell me you've never staked a vamp before?"

"Shit no. Why would I? I can just tear them to ribbons with my bare hands." That wasn't really true, but Jason didn't want to look like a novice. He really didn't want to fight any vampires.

A cold dread ran up his spine, the last time he had fought any vampires they were the rotting ones. It made the young were sick just to think about them. He didn't want to be anywhere near those things.

Xander looked unconvinced but he was willing to give his partner the benefit of the doubt. That was something Jean-Claude forgot to mention to the young man. That he would be working with Jason.

Jason had been from time to time Jean-Claude's front man. Scaring those he had to when he was told to do so by his master. But Xander had made it clear that Jason was to follow his lead.

He might be a werewolf and all, but he wasn't a killer. The blond were had only killed to protect himself or others. He'd held someone down before that was tortured for information, but he'd never done it.

And the were knew it. He was more then willing to follow Xander's lead. From the conversation they'd had after finishing their meal at the Bar-B-Q place and picking up weapons that the dark-haired young man had killed his fair share of vampires or other things.

The 'other things' is what worried Jason. There wasn't really a lot of critters that would fall into the 'other things' box. And he was hoping that werewolves weren't in that box.

Xander, as far as Jason was concerned was more dangerous then he first let on. The young man didn't seem a threat at first. Then after they'd had there 'humans are tourist talk' the kid seemed broody and a bit dark tempered.

But when he got a pair of guns into his hands he seemed scary. The blond stripper had seen Anita's eyes dull over into a glassy glare before she killed someone, and that's what Xander's brown eyes did when he picked up the Glocks.

But he wasn't aware of the young man's past. He didn't know that was the first time in years that the ex-scooby had held a real gun. Not since the night he was possessed by his costume to be a soldier thanks to Ethan Raine and his Chaos ritual.

At the very moment he held the weapons his mind went back to the past. A past that wasn't even his. He'd never told the others that he could still remember the soldier's life. He might not be able to remember all the training anymore, but he could remember other things.

Xander could remember what it felt like on the battlefield. The sound of bullets firing through the air and the feel of the ground shuddering when a bomb blew up or a plane crashed nearby. The memories of friends he never knew dying all around him.

"I'll take these and the ammo. And throw in a waist holster." The guy that was selling didn't like being ordered around, but he knew not to argue with someone who he knew could very well kill you.

The gun dealer should have known better then to hand over a pair of loaded weapons. He'd learned from his years selling guns to young gang members that they might look innocent and nonthreatening, but that's no reason to think they are.

But he'd looked at the leather-clad teen and thought he was a joke. To him Xander looked like a lily-assed kid who just wanted the guns to look cool or dangerous.

Then he got a good look at the kid's eyes when he held those weapons. He was a killer, sure as shit. The dealer could have kicked himself for being so stupid. Being dumb in this business will get you killed.

"Ya, kid. Whatever you say." He even tossed in a leather waist holster as a 'gift'. Then took his money and closed up shop as soon as the two guys left his place.


"Oui, ma petite. I will look into it." Jean-Claude hung up the phone then. He was a bit perturbed. He was after all The Master of the City. He should have been informed that the hyenas were going rogue.

"Problems?" Asher asked with some interest from his seat by the fire. "Oui, Narcissus has lost control of some of his flock." He voice was low and seductive as ever, but somewhat strained.

"And what should we do? It's the were's problem. Let Richard and his pack deal with them." Asher told him.

"I would, but he's once again neglected to do his duty and take them out. And now they're threatening Anita and her kitties." The four hundred year old master vampire did not sound happy.

He'd given Richard more chances then Anita had, many more. Jean- Claude had held some hope that maybe the young wolf king would come to his senses. But he just seemed to get worse. And now his foolish actions were putting his people in danger.

At hearing Anita might be in trouble Asher sat a little straighter in his seat. "She's alright, isn't she?" Worry clear in his voice. The dark-haired animator was very dear to his heart. He would not allow her to he harmed.

"Non, not yet anyway. At least nine hyenas have gone rogue. They're now taking orders from a new leader. Once I find out his name we'll deal with him." His blue eyes flashes like fire for a moment before returning to normal.

A slow smile crept onto Asher's face. "This will give our young friend something to do then." He'd like to see how young Alexander faired against some weres.

But Jean-Claude looked hesitant. "Should we really let him take this one alone? If he failed it would be a sign of weakness. And Anita's pard would suffer for it."

"And if he doesn't? If he can pull it off Anita and her kittens will be safe, and we will look even stronger to our enemies."

Jean-Claude thought over Asher's words. His old friend was known at times to be a bit headstrong, but he wouldn't put Anita in danger. And Asher wouldn't let the boy do the dirty work unless he thought the young man could pull it off.

"Very well. Get Jason on the phone and tell them to come in. They have a job to do. I want the rogues and their new leader dead."

"And Narcissus?" Jean-Claude almost told Asher to put a hit on him as well, but stopped himself. It wasn't the cross-dressing werehyena's fault. And he has his baby to look after.

"Narcissus is not to be harmed as long as he stays out of the way. But if any of his people are found helping the rogues they are to be killed on sight." Silently he cursed himself for not killing Narcissus sooner.

But now he couldn't very well murder a father/mother to be. What he could do was bide his time. After all, tomorrow was another night. And thus another chance to turn the tables and get revenge on him.


As they drove Jason's cell phone went off. Xander watched as the were talked to Jean-Claude. How did he know who was on the other end of the phone? Because who else would be calling at 11:47pm?

"What's poofy shirt want?" If he was going to be called in on a job already he might have to talk with Jean-Claude about higher pay. "The master wants us at The Circus of the Damned."

"You know, he can't hear you. You don't have to call him 'master'." That was already getting on his nerves. He might have to call that pompous French blowhole master when they were in his presence, but there was no need to call him that all the time.

"I'm his wolf. He is my master, as he is yours." Jason said sternly before his face broke into a silly smile, "Besides it pisses him off." The ride back to the fair from hell didn't take more then ten minutes. It would have taken more if anyone but Jason was driving.

Buzz was waiting at the front entrance when they got there. "Hey pup, how's your night going?" The large bodybuilding vamp asked. "Not bad, you?"

"Can't complain." Then the dark-skinned vampire's eyes turned to Xander. He was a bit freaked by seeing that the smaller man could look him straight in the eyes, but otherwise he seemed friendly enough. "How's your night? Jas showed you Guilty Pleasures yet?"

He could have told the bigger man to piss off, but that just seemed too rude. Besides the guy wasn't doing anything wrong; hell he was even trying to be nice. "It's alright, ask me tomorrow if I'm still alive." He only half-joked.

But Buzz laughed nevertheless. "Sure, go on in."

Once getting past him everyone else just sorta moved out of their way. Even the new holy icon checkout girl ignored them. He hadn't noticed her the last time he came in here, but he was looking for a phone at the time.

Asher was waiting for them in Jean-Claude's office. Where The Master of the City was anyone's guess. Xander came to a halt a few feet from the master vampire and stood straight, showing his full height. Almost like was sure he would be inspected.

Jason have him a questioning look but Asher just seemed pleased. But his face changed so swiftly he wasn't able to find a trace of his happier mood a moment later.

The longhaired master vampire handed over a picture with a last known home address written on the bottom. "This is Jarod Rays, he's turned a handful of hyenas rogue. I want him and the weres working for him gone."

And that was that. He left Jean-Claude's office to his young hit man and the wolf. Jason took the picture and got a good look at the man for the first time.

He had short dirty blond hair with dull gray eyes. His chin was strong and there was a small scar across his lips like someone had taken a swipe at him with a sharp blade.

Xander checked his watch. "It'll be sunrise in three hours. We'll campus the area around the address to make sure everyone is all there. Tomorrow night we'll pick off the stragglers. Then we'll get the boss man."

Jason nodded. In truth the young wolfman was a bit nervous. This was after all his first hit. And he silently thanked Xander for not making them go this very minute. The were needed time to think.

"Melanie will be coming on for her last show in a few minutes. Want me to go get us some seats?"

"Ya, I'll be there in a few." He didn't even notice when Jason finally left. His mind going over what he'd just been asked to do. It'd help if he knew more about this Jarod guy, but then again he didn't want to know too much. It might make the job harder.

With a ruthful smile he thought about the hyenas. He'd known there were other tribes of shifters, but he hadn't known there were werehyenas. Maybe it was fate that he took then out; after all who knew how their minds worked better then him?

He could still remember running with the pack, hunting, killing. The taste of the pig's flesh and blood in his mouth, and feeding with the others. He knew how to kill them. And he would.


Melanie's show was interesting to say the least. It wasn't every day people got to see a beautiful women turn snake from the midriff down. In all honesty it was amazing.

Jason had grabbed a pair of seats in the front row, no one thought about taking the free seat next to him. In fact he acted like he was damn near daring anyone to try. Wolves just had the oddest habits of marking their territory.

"Hey Xan, down front." The young were called out. Once they were both seated they could see the show up close. "Wow, I knew she was snake but damn." The dark-haired hit man said softly.

It came as a shock to him; just the night before he was sharing a bed with her and now she's strutting around one of the circus tents with half her body covered in scales.

"Beautiful." He whispered when the lamia was within hearing distance. He was rewarded for his efforts by the soft blush that crossed her beautiful face. Before he could say anything else she slithered over and leaned over his seat her mouth so close to his ear he could feel her hot breath on him.

"Its hard to work when you keep making me hot all over." It was his turn-to-turn beet-red. Melanie chuckled to herself as she continued on with the show.

She then pulled out a pair of cobras which somehow she made dance for her. They were entranced by her dark eyes and bobbed around her like lost puppies. No wonder her show was so popular, he thought to himself.

"So what do we do if Jarod isn't there tomorrow?" Xander had almost forgotten Jason was still seating next to him. His whole focus had been on the dark beauty before him. "Huh, oh Jarod. We grab one of his people and make him talk."

That made the blond were frown, "Is torture really called for?" He might have talked Anita into making that hillbilly that had kidnapped Richard's mom talk, but setting out to cut someone up just seemed wrong.

Xander turned to him with some effort, he didn't want to miss anyone of Melanie's act. "Including Jarod there are nine. Nine weres that have gone rogue. Nine that have set out to murder, rape, and torture until they've taken over their clan. If we can't get Jarod right off the bat we WILL need to know where he's hiding. Don't crack on me now."

The dark-haired teen would take no argument. This was the plan and they were going through with it.

"So how often does Asher talk for poofy shirt?" The sudden change in topics caught Jason off guard. "Whenever the master has other dealings. Asher is Jean-Claude's temoin, his second. Its not really a big deal."

As the act slowly came to an end the lamia did what most of the regulars had come to see; her two cobras crawled up her body. It was almost erotic how they moved over her. Slithering over her chest and across her arms to finally rest around her hands.

Their hooded heads coming to a stop over her outstretched open palms. Where they both closed their eyes fully trusting their mistress to keep them safe.

There were people clapping their hands, whistles, and even a few catcalls. Another award winning performance. She wrapped a blanket around her lower body as her tail became a pair of lovely but very pale legs.

As everyone left Xander went down to tell her how much he enjoyed the show. "Oh, I know you enjoyed it." Her voice came out as a husky hiss. "I could almost smell it." Her forked-tongue slid out of her mouth and across his cheek.

He shuddered. "I'll see you tonight?" She wouldn't admit it to him but she had liked how he'd slept in her bed the night before. His skin was just so warm against her cool flesh. "Ya, I just need to make a quick stop. What's for dinner anyway?"

He learned while talking with Jason at the fast food place that dinner was dropped off to everyone's level before they were locked in for the day. It did make him wonder who was cooking.

"Steak with baked potatoes. But don't expect me to wait for you." She teased.

"Just as long as you don't nibble at my plate I'll be happy." He'd have to get used to these strange eating arrangements. "Oh, I'll nibble. Just not at your steak."

"Ok, enough of the sexual sub-titles. I'll have him safe and sound back at the den before morning." Jason had to break them up. If this was any sign as to how they talked with one another normally he didn't want to have to listen to it all day.

But it did prove Xander's point to him. The kid didn't date humans, or whatever he and the lamia were doing together. "Spoil my fun." She muttered under her breath.

They left the circus and started driving, "Where are we going anyway? I thought we had everything covered." Jason didn't have to dance at Guilty Pleasures tonight but he did have plans later that night. Plans which were getting cut into with all this driving.

"We'll need your weapon's dealer to fix something up special for us." There was a light in the kid's eyes that made Jason feel uneasy all of a sudden. "Sure, sure. What?"

"I'll tell you when we get there. Just something I thought of just.....hey watch the road!!!" The car swerved barely missing a homeless person who'd walked into the middle of the road.

"Jesus. That's all I'd need. A hit and run to get the cops after me." Jean-Claude's wolf said hotly. He still remembered the warm welcoming the RPIT's had given him when they'd picked him up for a rape/murder case.

Their Lt. wouldn't have even thought of him if he hadn't of driven Anita to the first crime scene. The cop didn't even care that he was innocent totally refusing to believe Anta's word that he was innocent.

If the guy hadn't had an emotional breakdown Jason might have been sent to one of the were's holding clinics. Then it wouldn't matter if he was guilty or not, because no one ever got out of it alive.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. But the weapon's dealer did not look too happy to see them so soon. "Come on, I'm closing up." He whined.

"We'll be needing you to make something up for us by tomorrow night." Xander told him. "Come on man, tomorrow is too early. I'll need at least a week to cook anything up."

The dealer wasn't a big man, maybe 5'9. He had shoulder-length brown hair with sharp green eyes. And it seemed he was getting a bit soft around the midsection.

Xander ignored the man's pleas. "We'll need four steel and silver railroad spikes. Put as much silver in them as you can, but don't make them to soft." Jason and the dealer looked at him funny.

"We'll pick them up tomorrow night." He then turned a deaf ear on the man's pleading. "Spikes? What the hell do we need spikes for?" Jason asked but he already had a good idea, he just didn't want to think about it.

"To keep them still. No need to allow them to thrash around when we interrogate them." His cold tone made Jason shiver inwardly. He hadn't signed on for torture, and damn sure did not want any part of nailing someone to a wall.

But it was far too late to get out of it now. And he'd be damned if he'd look weak in front of Xander. Doing that just seemed like a really BAD idea. The kid had really weird mood swings that was for damn sure.

One moment he was cool, the next he was talking about nailing someone to a wall without a trace of emotion. It was freaky and not the good kind.

"Huh....I'll have two done by tomorrow. But I'll need another day to get the other two. So if you'd pay me I'd really like to close up, it'll cost at least a thousand.." The dealer nervously shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

"Payment on delivery." Before the little man could argue he left the shop with Jason on his heels. Outside the wolf questioned, "We don't have a thousand dollars." He hadn't been given any extra money, and Xander had only been given enough to get a few weapons.

"By tomorrow we will." He then explained how much Jean-Claude had offered to pay for rogue shifters. They'd have enough money to pay for the spikes; after they killed a couple hyenas.


Nathaniel had finally come in with Gilbert. The whole pard was there in Anita's house talking about the rogues.

"There are enough of us to deal with them!" Caleb told the group. There were almost twenty-five wereleopards and only nine werehyena; the numbers were on their side.

"And what if they have more? Narcissus is too weak right now to control them. If we go to war with them there won't be just nine there'll be four hundred. We couldn't win even if we had the wolves help." Zane told them.

Cherry spoke a bit rushed, "What about the rats? They'll help, wont they?" She was doing her best to keep the panic in her at bay but she couldn't hold it for long. "Rafael is willing to help only if the whole hyena pack turns on us, but he can't kill the nine."

Anita told them. Ever since she'd gotten off the phone with Jean- Claude she'd been looking for other help. Its not that she doubted he'd help, she just didn't want to put all her eggs in one basket.

Rafael was willing to help and was down right disgusted with Richard at the moment. But it would help no one if he ran to the leopards aid over a few rogues.

The other clans would see it as a sign of weakness and then the pard would have more problems then just a few hyenas. "What about Jean- Claude? Is he going to help?" Nathaniel's soft voice easily cut through the others.

When he wanted too he could cut through the others like that. More maybe since Anita seemed to instruct him harder then the others. "He said he'd look into it." She was a bit worried about that.

One reason she didn't want to tell him was that he had enough trouble of his own at the moment. He couldn't afford to take own the whole hyena pack. It would be blood in the streets vampire and were alike.

"What does that mean, he'll look into it! We don't need to be patted on the head and told everything will be alright; we need action!" Cherry was started to loose her grip.

The dark-haired leopard queen didn't want to upset their resident medic but now was not the time for hysterics. But Micah told her off first. "You know what it means when Jean-Claude says he'll look into it, Cherry. He doesn't want to give out too much information if these rogues go missing all of a sudden. "

It still surprised Anita how much Micah and Jean-Claude got along. They didn't seem to have a lot in common other then dating her, but they both had a head for business.

The legal kind and the kind business that was done more in dark alleyways with teeth and claw.

"So, they're going to take them out?" For the first time that night Cherry looked hopeful. She wasn't a warrior, no she was a nurse. And due to Raina and Gabriel's actions she was a bottom.

In S&M that meant she was a toy to those stronger then her. If it hadn't been for Anita and the pard she would have died long ago. "No, they can't kill them all. It'd be the same with Rafael. Showing the others we're too weak to protect our own."

The fear was back in Cherry's eyes, "Then what are they going to do?" She screeched. Zane walked over and pulled the terrified wereleopard into his arms. She was so out of it she didn't even protest.

"Jean-Claude will get someone to kill the head guy and maybe a few others. But he'll leave a few for us. So that the other clans think we killed them all on our own." It was a good plan, Anita told herself. Even if they had to play the pawns.

"Why aren't the wolves helping?" Nathaniel's question caught everyone off guard. Only Anita and Cherry knew that the wolves had been ordered by their king not to help the pard.

"Richard isn't going to help." A rush of questions were thrown her way. Why wasn't he helping? Was he going to let them die? How could he do that? Anita could only tell them what she knew.

That Richard had called off all protection on the leopards. That his actions were more then likely the whole reason the hyenas had singled them out. "That bastard! That selfish rotten SOB!" Cherry exclaimed. No one questioned it either.

Even Anita was in no hurry to defend her ex. His actions where just that, selfish. He was willing to let Anita and her whole pard die just because they weren't dating anymore.

Any further talk was cut short due to Anita's cell going off. The others watched as she talked with Asher over the phone. Their hearing was much better then humans but it was still a bit hard to listen to someone over the phone.

"Alright, thanks Asher. I'll see you tomorrow." Her voice had lost some of its angry and tired tone just from talking to the scarred vampire. Like Nathaniel, just the sound of Asher's voice could put her at ease and it had nothing to do with vampire powers.

"He says that we should be ready to take on the few rogues that'll be left. That the defected leader Jarod will be taken care of before tomorrow morning."

Everyone's reactions differed. Vivian looked saddened that this couldn't have been dealt with more peacefully. Nathaniel looked worriedly towards Anita. Always more worried about his mistress's life then his own.

Zane, Caleb, and even Cherry looked forward to the fight. Sitting and waiting to be attacked had grated on their nerves. They were ready to just get it over with, and with Jean-Claude's help they were sure it would end in their favor

If only Anita was so sure of that.


Chapter 2

Blood Square, St. Louis

Finding the hyena was easier then they'd expected. Xander and Jason had gotten up immediately after nightfall and went to the address Asher had given them, as well as instructions that they couldn't kill all the hyenas. They had to spare at least three.

Jason was ok with this, but Xander didn't seem too happy with the idea of leaving an enemy alive. But once Asher explained why they had to be kept alive he was fine with it.

The ride over was in silence. The two of them had too many things on their minds to chit-chat. After a ten-minute drive they pulled up across from the hyena's hiding place.

Inside an abandoned warehouse was the entire group of rouges. Even from across the street their high-pitched laugher could be heard, and it only pushed the dark haired hitman further into his memories.

The hunt, the kill, it was as fresh in his mind as it had been the moment it had all happened. He could almost taste the blood on his tongue, and smell the fear of his prey in the air.

The pleasure of it made him shudder in disgust. "We'll wait until there is one alone. Then pick him off, quick and clean." The wolf nodded.

The two of them sat in silence for the next three hours. Neither moved from their position as they watched from the top of the building opposite the hyena's hideout.

Again, no one said a word. Not just because they couldn't think of anything to say. Jason had plenty he'd like to say, but it would do them no good to talk so close to the were's. One of them might hear their chatter, even from across the street.

Finally one of them moved away from the others and went outside. He looked around him for a few moments before starting his way down the street away from the hideout.

The two of them didn't say a word as they exited the top of the building and started after the lone were.

The night was warm and sticky. Rain was coming. The pair of hunters followed the hyena for a few blocks never making a move to attack. That is until the rain started to fall.

Xander grinned viciously into the night before pulling his gun and firing into the were's back. "Bang". And he went down like a ton of bricks. "Jesus." Jason muttered to himself.

"Grab him and pull him into the alley." The werewolf did as he was instructed. Grabbing the smaller man and pulling him in, the blond were could see that the hyena was still alive.

He moved to snap his neck and put him out of his suffering, but was stopped by the dark-haired ex-scooby. "No, keep him alive. Just don't let him move."

Jean-Claude's pomme de sang would have asked why but quickly shut up at seeing his partner pulling out a long sharp blade. "When he turns, make sure he doesn't move. Understand?" Jason could only nod.

As soon as the sharp knife dug into the wounded were he started to struggle. But he was still hurt; the silver bullet had injured him greatly.

His only choice was to shift. He had no idea that, that was what they were waiting on. The wolf was much stronger then the young hyena, that was nothing more then a submissive were. Holding him wasn't difficult.

The next half hour would forever be stained into Jason's mind. Just as it had been when Anita tortured that redneck for information on where Richard's mother was being held.

The only difference was that Xander didn't want information, no. He wanted the hyena's pelt; he was skinning the wereanimal alive. It took all that the wolf had not to turn and puke.

The hyena couldn't have been more then 18 years old. More then likely the only reason why he was following Jarod was because he was an alpha and the young were was new to the pack.

But that made no difference to the blade wielded by the hitman. Xander had forced a wet rag down the kid's throat so that he didn't hear the screams.

Not that you could tell by looking at him. His face was void of all emotion as he finally peeled the fur pelt from the kid's back. "Now you can kill him." The air around him seemed to chill at the sound of those words.

Jason had never really been ordered to kill before. Jean-Claude had used him mostly to scare people, or threaten them. The only times he'd killed was to protect himself or others.

But seeing the kid laying on the alley floor his back a bloody mess the only kind thing he could do was put him down.

So the longhaired stripper grabbed the kid's throat between his hands and snapped his neck. Then promptly turned and threw up beside the body.

Xander sat the fur on top of the kid's corpse and walked over to his friend. There he softly patted him on the shoulder, "Its alright. Let it out." His tone was flat but it carried a feeling of understanding.

And he did. He laid the remains of his stomach all over the alley floor. And even when he had nothing left, the were couldn't help but gag up a few mouthfuls of bile. It didn't make him feel better.

Once he was done the wolf turned to his partner, "What are we going to do with the body?" He questioned not having the stomach to ask about the fur, and deep down not really wanting to know.

The teen got a far away look in his dark brown eyes for a few seconds before he answered. "His pack will find him, they'll deal with the body. Come on we've got what we need right now."

He then sent Jason off to get the car; when he pulled it over Xander opened the trunk and threw the pelt in the back before getting in the passenger seat and driving off.


Jean-Claude had never been a man to make idle threats. But that was to a point.

When a Master of a City asked for an enemy's head on a silver platter, they didn't mean that literally. They wanted the enemy dead, and it didn't matter to them about their head.

So when his wolf and new employee came in and laid a werehyena's blood soaked skin at his feet the only person he could blame was himself.

The four hundred year old master vampire knew the young man he'd asked to join his 'family' as it were was a professional. And professionals do as they're told.

He was disgusted at the sight of the bloody fur, but at the same time he reveled in the fact that his hitman did just as he had ordered. "Payment on delivery." The dark haired young man told him.

He'd sat the pelt on Jean-Claude's office desk in front of the vampire. "Petite homme, we are going to have a talk about your taste in fur when this job is done." His French accent was as Gaelic as ever.

But he was tense all of a sudden. Maybe he was tired or restless with the danger his love was in. Or maybe seeing the bland apathy in the face of one so young right after he'd murdered someone struck a cord within him.

Out of the corner of his eye Jean-Claude could see the hundred yard stare in his young wolf's eyes.

Jason might have been standing in the office with them, but his mind was a hundred miles away. Or maybe not that far, maybe it was just back in the alley.

Ignoring the two men in the office the blond-haired wolf looked down at his hands and shuddered. There wasn't any blood on them, and his partner had made sure he washed up before going to their master.

But it didn't matter if there wasn't any blood there, Jason could still see it. Could feel it on his fingers and smell it in the air around him.

He'd thought he could do this job. It'd mean more power and respect around the circus. That he'd be more then just the master's pomme de sang. That he would be someone to be respected.

But at what cost? He thought bitterly.

It hadn't been that hard to forget about the screams from that redneck that he and Asher had held down. After all, that bastard had it coming for what he'd done to Richard's mother.

But the hyena in the alleyway? He was just a kid. A kid who'd fallen in with the wrong people, that was all. Jason couldn't help but think that it could have been him in that alley.

He was after all a rogue werewolf now. His pack leader, his king had thrown him out once Jason had refused to fall in line with the others. He couldn't follow him anymore, so he couldn't be a pack member anymore.

He knew of course that Richard wouldn't do the same thing to him that he helped do to that kid in the alley, oh no. Not over leaving the pack. But if he stuck around Anita, maybe even getting into her bed again, then he might be punished.

It was a twisted joke. That his former king couldn't kill to protect the pack, but he could to keep men away from a women that didn't even want him anymore. And they thought he was the rogue!

Jason didn't even fully understand why he was willing to do this in order to become more involved with the dealings in the circus. Becoming a killer didn't scare him, but a murderer? An assassin?

And for what? Why was it so important to kill these guys before they took over the pack from Narcissus? These weren't important questions, or even hard ones.

Because he knew how important it was to get these guys. If they were allowed to go on then the other hyenas would fall in behind them.

Then it would be like Raina all over again. No, it would be even worse, because there were four hundred werehyena and only about one hundred werewolves.

And they were threatening Anita and her kitties. For that alone he would kill them. She was, well she was a lot of things to a lot of people. But to him she would always be his lupa.

Richard couldn't change that, no matter how much he tried. She had the pack's respect even more so then Richard did.

Jason knew all of this and was ok with it. What he wasn't ok with was skinning a helpless kid for a thousand dollars. And he couldn't even fault Xander for it.

Because he was just doing what he was told, what he thought was right. And he was quickly becoming one of his friends. Which was scary all by itself.

He wondered if this was how Anita feels about Edward. To know despite the fact that he was her friend, that he would in fact kill her if need be.

Because the blond-haired wolf had no doubt that even if Xander were his friend if push came to shove the dark-haired young man would kill him. Maybe even take his pelt too.

He stomach turned just thinking about it. At least Anita showed some emotion afterwards. Something that told him and the others around her that she felt something.

Her eyes might glaze over, and her face would go blank. But you could still smell her emotions. Could feel the remorse just by standing near her.

But not Xander. The guy had to have ice running through his veins. His face was set in stone before he started carving into that kid, during, and afterwards. The only emotion he showed was compassion when I was taking it hard.

And that was all. It was like he didn't see anything wrong with what they had just done. Like it was nothing out of the norm for him.

Finally Jason knew a little about the dark place he would see Anita in. She could feel the angst of her actions, and knew that even if she didn't show it that what she'd become had a price.

He just didn't know if he was willing to pay. Just a taste of it was enough to choke him, and the thought of doing it again. Killing others just because they were told to, it was enough to make him sick.

This wasn't what his lupa did. And he could cope with becoming her if he had to. But not Xander. He'd become lost in the dark with the monsters, and if the young were had to guess, he'd been lost a long time.

If he stayed, Jason knew he ran the chance of becoming just like him. He'd seen how Asher and even Jean-Claude viewed the dark haired teen. He'd been here only a few days and was already someone to be counted.

Jason wanted that. Wanted it almost more then anything else. To be somebody, not just a pretty face. Or just another follower in the crowd. But he couldn't help but wonder if the price of becoming that was too high.

He looked over to his partner and master after a few seconds. He'd been so deep in thought he hadn't heard a thing the two of them had been saying.

The dark-haired hitman and Jean-Claude were still debating about the price they'd come to about killing weres. Even submissive ones.

"A thousand is a bit much don't you think?" The longhaired master vampire said with some amusement.

He knew he would pay what he and his young assassin had agreed too, and he had no doubt that the young man before him knew that as well.

But this little argument wasn't really about money. It was about giving Jason a few minutes to collect himself. They'd both seen how deeply he was thinking and thought it better to let him continue.

It would do them no good if he cracked in the middle of their work when others were counting on them. And if the young pomme de sang wanted out then they'd let him out.

"What are you going to do with this skin, petite homme?" The master vampire didn't want it. He hadn't really believed that his assassin would really bring him one.

But it wouldn't hurt for him to put it on one of his walls. Come to think of it, he remembered that Anita keeps a swan's skin on one of her walls as well.

But it would be in bad taste for a Master to hang an enemy's skin on his wall. He wasn't a monster. Not that Anita was either. But his love's tastes sometimes ran even darker then his own.

If someone threatened her or her kind, she'd kill them on the spot, and hang whatever part on her wall she pleased. Much in the same way Sylvie would.

The young were had once told him it made her feel better to touch the bones of her dead enemies. That it proved to her in some way that they were still dead. That they couldn't hurt her anymore.

It soothed her nightmares. Jean-Claude knew Anita had nightmares of her own, and didn't hold it against her to do the same thing with the swan's skin if it gave her peace.

But he couldn't. His nightmares were as dark and foreboding as theirs, they just weren't about weres. So it would just be cold to hang the hyena's skin.

"It's yours, petite homme. Do with it as you please." Xander nodded, muttering something about having it lain in salt to dry it out before he put it up in his bedchamber.

The longhaired vampire had a feeling that his young hitman would do just that.

It would be bad taste for Jean-Claude, but assassins were allowed trophies of their kills. It was an unwritten rule with them, and a written rule with the vampire council.

It inspired fear; to walk into a room and see it decorated with the remains of fallen enemies. And the four hundred year old vampire wanted Xander feared. He wanted vampires, and weres alike to tremble at the very mention of his name.

The master vampire was still having problems with Belle and other masters who still didn't think he was strong enough to hold his city. Richard's pack helped a lot, until the ungrateful wolf king took them.

That still made the Master of St. Louis furious. The only reason Richard had the pack was because of Jean-Claude's backing. And he knew, even if the wolf king didn't, that without the backing of a master he'd never hold the pack.

But the pack wasn't the only thing he held that showed power.

His love, Anita also helped a great deal. But she was at the very heart of it a good person. She wouldn't just kill someone because she was told to. She needed a reason.

But Xander, Jean-Claude thought with a smile, Xander was a killer. Plan and simple. It was just inside him to murder and feel no regret.

Some people were like that. They'd seen too much, or their lives had taught them to be like that. Or some who just didn't feel anything for anyone. Stone cold killers weren't as rare as people would like to think.

But ones with hidden powers were rare, and priceless. That is if their allegiance could be bought. And with his assassin he could show his enemies that he was not weak, that he could hold this city and everyone in it.

Xander, and Jean-Claude both turned to Jason. They'd felt him stir behind them and hoped he'd finally made up his mind. "We have to meet the arms dealer soon." The teen told him. The werewolf just nodded, not saying anything.

Both the young hitman and the vampire were disappointed, but they had patience. They could wait it out and see where the wolf would fall. Either on their side, or on someone else's.

With a dismissive wave the master vampire sent them on their way.


"One of the rogue hyenas was skinned, and left for dead near their hide out." Jamil informed his king.

Richard made no outward movement to show that he even heard the information. He was too busy looking off into space, like he had been for the last few days.

The dark skinned werewolf could only sigh in defeat. An attack like this should have made his king care. It should have had him questioning who had done it, but Richard just didn't care.

It was sickening in Jamil's opinion. He'd come to St. Louis because he'd been thrown out of his last pack. The longhaired wolf hadn't respected his king, and he refused to follow someone he couldn't respect.

That's why he came here. Because from all he'd heard Richard was someone who cared, someone you could feel honored to follow. Bullshit.

He waited a few moments still hoping for a response, any response but nothing came.

Without uttering another world Jamil turned and left the king's bedchamber. He ignored the questioning gazes from his fellow pack members, he wanted no ones company at the moment.

He exited the house and started to walk, not really caring where he was going. Things had to change, the powerfully built wolf thought to himself. Things couldn't go on like this.

Jamil had hope that things would have changed when Richard informed them that they were going to Jean-Claude's a few weeks ago. They'd thought maybe their alpha had come to his senses and was going to make peace with the vampire master.

But when Sylvie inquired about it she was punished. No one had before thought their king capable of such a thing before; how he beat his second in command bloody and left her broken on his floor before heading to 'The Circus of the Damned'.

There was no peace that night, oh no. Their king took all his wolves away from The Master of the City, and at such an idiotic time too.

The vampires and Anita were in negotiations with one of their Council members. To choose that moment to pull away all connections with them was madness.

It was almost like Richard was trying to get them all killed.

But that wasn't the end to it either. Ties between the pack and Anita had been cut off completely by their mad king. Jamil sneered, as he walked, not caring what he looked like to everyone around him.

And to put the last nail in the coffin, Richard proclaimed Jason a rogue wolf, packless and unwanted. His only crime was that he stood beside Anita, and the scent of the sex they had was still in the air around them.

The pack was alone now. No vampires, no leopards, and no Anita. No allies, and more enemies then Jamil wanted to think about. The hyenas, the growing number of rogues, stray vampires, and if Richard had his way Anita as well.

Their king had gone mad. And if they stayed then the pack would suffer under his rule, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Sylvie refused to proclaim herself Fenrir and fight Richard for ownership of the pack because of a promise she made with Anita. Shang-Da for whatever reason refuses to fight Sylvie to become Freki, so he can't challenge the king either.

And Jamil being fourth on the line of succession can't do anything. If he challenged Shang-Da there was little chance he would win. The Asian werewolf is too powerful for him to defeat.

So he and the whole pack were powerless to stop their Ulfric in anyway, and Richard seems on a one-man mission to get them all killed. It was times like this that made him wonder why he stayed at all.

He'd left his last pack for less shit then this. But he just couldn't force himself to leave. This was his home now, and without Richard it would be a great pack.

And that's what it came down too. The pack had to be saved, his fellow wolves had to be released from their insane master. And to do that Richard has to die.