House of The Setting Sun: Beneath The Moon
Episode Two of the House of the Setting Sun Series

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, nor do I make any profit from writing about them. No copyright infringement intended.
Rating: R
Summary: Episode Two in the House of the Setting Sun series.


Episode Two

Act Three

Xander ordered himself a beer and sat down on a bar stool. He smiled and slipped the money across the bar when the big burly bearded barman plonked a tankard of foamy goodness down in front of him.

The place was almost empty. Besides the barman and himself there were only three other patrons that he could see. It was still early though, not even five o' clock yet. Most people would probably still be at work.

Ah work, he remembered that distant concept. It wasn't something he'd had to think about since the First Evil up-ended their lives. He missed it, in the sense that being a carpenter, a respected carpenter no less had given him a basis to build his life on. That had been his big status in life. A couple of years ago he'd been 'Marriage guy' and 'Suit wearing carpenter guy', which together made him the most grown up out of all of his friends, and who on earth could have predicted that? In fact, it was so out of left field there was probably a prophesy about it in some ancient book. Then he'd been hit by the idiot stick and dumped Anya at the altar and he'd left himself with just the job to make him anything more than a loser. Now he didn't even have that. He was back to being the only one without a skill, without anything he could contribute. Sure he was happy to carry on fetching donuts for the gang during research sessions, but he'd come too far to let that be all he was now.

He took a healthy sip from his drink and wiped the frothy mustache from his upper lip. Dawn had told him last year that he was the one who saw everything. He rubbed at the elastic of his eye patch. 'Guess that's gone now too,' he thought, 'thanks to crazy Caleb and his opposable thumbs. Who ever said evolution was a good thing?' He stared glumly into his drink until the bartender spoke to him breaking up his thoughts.

"Hey, Xander isn't it? You were in the night before last," the burly bartender asked genially.

"Yeah," Xander smiled back. "That was me."

The bartender thrust his hand across the bar top. "Alex," he announced.

"Hey, me too!" Xander's smile grew and reached to shake the man's hand, it turned to a grimace when his own was nearly crushed.

"Huh? I thought you just said it was Xander?" The big man looked puzzled.

"No it is, I'm Alexander, but my parents could never manage to slur more than Xander so it kind of stuck."

Alex's brow was still slightly furrowed but he broke into a grin and said. "Well that's cool; at least we won't get each other confused."

Xander nodded and finished his drink. Alex pulled it to him across the bar and began refilling it before Xander even asked. 'This is service,' he thought.

"So how you finding it up at Camp Creepy?" Alex pushed his tankard back to him.

"Camp Creepy, that's actually a really good name for it." Xander smirked. "Okay I guess. It's a bit different to what we're used to," he admitted,

"So where you from originally?"

"Southern California, Sunnydale to be exact."

"Sunnydale, whoo! I heard about that place on the news. You lived through the 'quake? What was it like?"

Xander smiled to himself and settled in to tell Alex all about their escape from the 'Dale. Leaving out anything to do with Hellmouths, Vampires and Slayer mythos changing spells.

Buffy stormed ahead of Lorne into the lobby of Wolfram and Hart. She stopped in her tracks and spun around to take everything in. "Wow!" She grinned. "Not quite the Initiative but still gotta say - pretty cool."

"Uh glad you like it, Buffster. Angel's office is this way."

He led her through the maze that was their new offices until they reached Angel's assistant's desk.

"Hey Harmonica baby, is Angel in?" He called over the desk.

Harmony poked her head up, a bunch of loose-leaf pages slipping from her hands all over the desk. "Uh huh, he's in with the Prince of Hairst'ka, something to do with parking permits." She looked up from the papers for the first time and saw Buffy standing next to the demon, smirk in place and arms folded. She leapt back out of her chair, tipping it over as she scurried backwards. "Buffy, hi!" She said sweetly.

"Harmony. You're working for Angel now?" Buffy's smirk grew. "I'm not surprised, he always did like dumb blondes, should have expected himself to have the ultimate one as his secretary."

"I'm not a secretary, I'm his assistant, and anyway, you just called yourself a dumb blonde, so, HA!"

"Uh uh, I buy mine at the drug store. I'm just artificially dumb, you're all natural."

Harmony started to preen, running a pale hand through her hair, until she saw the expression on Buffy's face and realized she was being laughed at. She frowned and her demon came to the fore.

"Now, now Harm. You know what Angel said about going bumpy on the job. You save that for after work," Lorne calmed her.

Angel came out of his office with big smiles and lots of handshakes to a group of tall demons with bald, spotted scalps and long wispy green beards. They all bowed low to him before leaving.

Buffy noticed his smile snapped off the second their backs were turned. She marched over. "Angel we need to talk. Call Gunn."

Angel audibly groaned when he saw her and then rubbed a hand over his face. "Come in Buffy. Harmony can you call Gunn and tell him I need to see him now? Oh and get a cup of coffee for Buffy too, please."

"Angel, I want to make a complaint about Slayers in the workplace. I don't have to put up with . . ."

Angel shut the door on her and Harmony pulled a few faces before sitting back down and phoning Gunn's department.

Inside the office Buffy was speaking. "I'm not mad now Angel, okay? I think I have every right to be, what with you keeping secrets from me -again - but I'm not. I thought lots about it on the way here and Lorne helped as well, and I see you did it for Faith's good and not for my bad. So all's forgiven, but I need to see her Angel, I need to and I'm not going anywhere until I have."

Angel held his hands up. "Okay, we'll see what we can do."

Gunn opened the door and walked in. "Yo, Angel what's this all about, I'm in the middle of . . ." He trailed off when he saw Buffy. "Oh it's you, well okay then."

"She knows," Angel told him.

"Figured as much. She doesn't want to see you," Gunn said simply.

"How do you know? She doesn't even know I'm here."

"Well she didn't want you to know where she was so I'm guessing she doesn't want to see you." He leaned his butt against Angel's desk and crossed his arms.

"I don't care, I want to see her."

"And in the interests of my client I'm going to say no."

Buffy stared at him in disbelief.

"Okay, have we got everything?" Asked Giles, looking around the table.

"Gun," Kennedy said, holding up the tranquillizer dart gun.

"Crossbow, silver bolts," said Dawn, holding up both hands to show them.

"Fingers and funny sounding words," said Willow, holding her hands up and getting into the spirit with a smile.

Giles rolled his eyes with a smile and turned to the two newest Slayers.

Miranda held up two ornate silver daggers. "Daggers," She said shyly.

Cici held up a canvas backpack. "Nets, rope and a flask of tea," she said in her Upper East Side accent. "Why do I feel like I'm the designated die-er in this hunting party?"

Willow smiled at her. "You won't be weaponless once we leave the car, and anyway, your job is perhaps the most important," she told the auburn haired girl.

"How's that?" She asked.

"Giles gets really cranky without his tea. You think a Werewolf is scary . . ."

Faith studied her bruises in the small cracked mirror she had wedged above her wash basin. The ones on her face had already faded to nearly nothing, her jaw still felt sore and it hurt to put too much weight on her left leg, but otherwise her accelerated healing was all business as usual.

She nodded to her reflection and finished putting on a little make up. She had five minutes until afternoon exercise started. The last thing she felt like was walking aimlessly around in the yard, but the alternative was getting herself sent to the infirmary and she'd already spent way too much of her young life in hospitals.

At least Lolitta and her groupies wouldn't be able to cause her too much grief with everyone out there. Sat in her cell they could pay her a visit at any time, it wasn't as if she could lock the door.

Buffy strode forward straight at Gunn and was a little put out when he didn't look intimidated by her. Still, she could fix that. When he refused to move she placed one hand on his chest and carried on walking. He was swept backwards until his back met a filing cabinet.

"Buffy!" Angel called out warningly.

She ignored him and gave Gunn her best stare.

He infuriated her further by laughing. "Damn, you really are something else. You remind me of some of the girls in my old crew. Of course they ain't got super powers so you lose points for that."

She scowled at him and he just chuckled harder. "I can definitely see how you two could be good together."

"Then why won't you take me to see her?" Buffy demanded.

"Like I said, I don't think it's in the best interests of Faith. Firstly, she don't want you to know where she is, so taking you in there is going to make her pissed at me, and I need her to trust me one hundred percent. Secondly, if she sees you it could make her mess up the case." Buffy started to protest. "I'm not saying it would, but it could. From what I can tell you're like the flame thrower to her fuse. I need her calm and thinking clearly if we're gonna pull this off."

"Giles said it was all straight forward. That you've got everything you need to get Faith off as long as she tells the truth when her appeal comes around."

Buffy turned sharply to look at the wall, her senses were trying to scream something at her, but there was nothing there. She noticed Angel look that way too but when she gave him a questioning glance he only offered a big innocent smile. Irritably she shook the feeling away and focused on what Gunn was saying.

"We have, but the thing with the truth is that it doesn't actually prove she's not a murderer, all it proves is that Wilkins was working her from the start. The jury doesn't necessarily have to believe that Faith didn't happily go and kill those people. We have to make them believe that. Faith slips up just once and this could all just be a waste of time. That's why I need her primed."

"But surely seeing me will give her more to fight for. If she knows I'm behind her one hundred percent," Buffy tried.

"Maybe, but all I know is that at the moment Faith is putting everything into this because it's the only way she can see you again. You go in there and tell her she can see you any time it might take some of the fight out of her; she might lose the edge that will help her win this appeal and nothing against you Buffy but my first priority is getting Faith out, not your love life."

Buffy punched out hard and Gunn turned his head with a surprised expression to look at the small rupture her fist had made in the filing cabinet behind him.

Spike listened to his Slayer speak from halfway through the wall, careful to make sure none of his ghostly parts were sticking out in Angel's office. He couldn't let her see him like this, all see-throughable; it was embarrassing. He allowed himself a smile as she gave the lawyer what for, at least she was here about her rogue sweetheart and not tall, dark and droopy-drawers.

"Gunn, I am going to see her. I've listened very calmly to all your reasons why I shouldn't and not one of them is good enough for me to change my mind, and she will still be fully prepared to win this appeal, because if I find out she's done anything to jeopardize it then I will personally get myself arrested and thrown in jail so I can kick her ass all over it. If you won't help me see her today then I'll call the head guy and demand a visit or I'll get Willow to magic me in or I'll storm the place with tear gas and an AK-47. Some way I'm getting in there. With your help it will just be less disruptive."

Gunn looked at Angel. "Is she for real?"

"She's pretty stubborn." Shrugged Angel.

Spike grinned, resisting the urge to peek out of the wall and see the obstinate bloody look he knew would be on her face right now.

"You better believe it. Now please phone them and tell them Faith's lawyer needs to see her urgently. You can do that right?"

Gunn sighed heavily before reaching for the phone on Angel's desk. "If Faith loses it over this and gets herself chucked in solitary and her appeal canceled, I'm gonna say I told you so, like, a hundred times. You got that?"

Buffy nodded. "Thank you."

Spike melted out of the wall into the hall and sauntered off, whistling. His girl might not be the one and only Chosen any more, but she was still a force to be reckoned with!

"Okay, everybody out," said Kennedy as she pulled up behind the 'The Mouth' diner. It was open late and the only place the car wouldn't be conspicuous. "Good name for a place around here." She pointed at the weather scratched wooden sign above the door.

"Indeed," smiled Giles.

Everyone clambered out of the car and stood ready, Giles handed Cici a small crossbow. "You shouldn't need it, but just in case," he told her before leaning into the trunk and pulling out a long silver sword. He tucked it underneath his coat to keep it out of sight.

Kennedy walked to the edge of the car lot and looked both ways down Main Street. She waited for the others to join her. "They came from that way and they disappeared that way," she pointed to show where she meant, then looked at the two new Slayers for confirmation. They both nodded.

"Right, well it will be dark soon. Which way do you want to try first?" Asked Giles. Kennedy may have been new at patrolling and unprepared for whatever they might find, but Slayers by nature had senses and instincts for the occult much stronger than any human, even for a man who had spent most of his life watching for these occult happenings. He trusted Kennedy to lead them where they had to be, even if she didn't know where that was yet.

Kennedy shrugged. "Where do Werewolves like to hang out?" She asked, keeping her voice quiet even though the street was deserted.

"That's a good question and the answer is wherever they want," Giles answered wryly. "Mostly, experience would dictate that they are drawn to places where, uh, h- hormones were raging, so to speak. Although they are human more than not, most Werewolves, when they change, are only interested in causing destruction. It is the wolf that wants to cause the damage though and not the human . . ."

"Unless they're a big old skank!" Willow muttered, earning her a questioning glance from her girlfriend which she pretended not to notice.

Giles carried on. ". . .and we must remember that when we come across them. Our mission tonight is to capture, not to kill. These people may not even be aware of what is happening to them."

"I can feel it Marvin. I can feel it." Hank paced the floor incessantly, his gaze trained on the window which let in the last of the suns rays.

Marvin was sweating slightly, even though he stood there naked in the chill cabin. He propped the window open with a chunk of the wood he had chopped earlier and then threw a few more logs on the fire so it would still be burning fierce when they returned. One of these days he feared they'd come home to find the place on fire, but it was worth it to lay in front of the makeshift hearth after a night on the town.

"Yeah well if you can feel it, rein it in. Don't you go forgetting what I said. We made ourselves a nice home here, don't you go ruining it by making trouble," he told his younger brother. He stretched his neck out and flexed his arms as he began to feel the tingle of the moon himself.

"I'll be good, I promise," Hank said while he was still able to talk.

The sun sank below the horizon and a minute later two large, grey shapes jumped through the open window, growling with exuberance.

Mr. and Mrs. Maple were just about to sit down to a roast chicken dinner. Their living room was small but they called it cosy. The crockery and cutlery laid out wasn't the prettiest or the most expensive but it was the family best and that meant a lot to the Maple's.

Edna Maple was just bringing through a steaming jug of gravy when movement outside the window caught her eye. Leaning the hot jug precariously on the window sill she peered through the lacy curtains at the darkening street.

"Garth," she called out to her husband.

"Aye." He was in the kitchen sharpening the carving knife.

"Them kids is outside. The ones from the store yesterday, and they've got friends with them."

"What are they doing? They best not be coming here!" Garth moved quickly to latch the front door, waving the carving knife in front of him menacingly.

"No you old fool, they're just walking down the street, bold as you please," said Edna, her eyes not leaving the figures outside.

"I wonder what they could be up to," Garth pondered aloud, joining his wife of forty years at the window.

"I'm sure I've no idea, but whatever it is, I'll bet it's no good," said Edna, sure of herself. "One of them's the man. It's not right, him being out at night with all them young girls. The sheriff should do something about it."

"Aye," Garth agreed, secretly wishing he ever got a chance to be out at night in the company of young girls. Smiling at himself for his foolish thoughts, he gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. "They're heading up to the McGee place; maybe they've got some business with him."

Edna shook her head. "Charles McGee isn't there, is he? He's taken his family on vacation out west somewhere, remember."

"Well I guess they'll have a wasted trip then." Garth's stomach gave a growl with hunger and the smell of roast chicken wasn't doing anything to tame it. He was ready to forget about whatever the city lot were up to, for tonight at least.

"No, I think old Owen said that the Thomas' boy was going over most nights to feed the animals. If they're lucky they'll catch him." Edna also moved from the window and busied herself with taking the gravy to the table.

"That Owen knows everything," chuckled Garth as he began to carve.

"Well that's what comes from running a general store for as long as you can remember."

"Why don't they have street lights out here Giles?" Moaned Dawn.

"Because we're traipsing through the back of bloody beyond, that's why," Giles grumbled back.

They were walking up a single track road in a tight clump, Kennedy only slightly ahead, with her finger on the tranq guns' trigger so she could fire at a split seconds notice. Every time someone nudged her from behind she nearly did just that.

"Could you guys back off just a tad?" She asked for the fourth time since leaving the street lamps behind on Main Street.

"Are you kidding me?" Whispered Miranda. "Who knows what's lurking in the hedges, watching us from the dark shadows, and getting ready to pounce. It's not like we'd know; there could be a wolf close enough to touch right now."

Everyone looked around nervously.

"I think I speak for everyone when I say shut up Miranda," Dawn chuckled nervously.

"I'm just saying," Miranda whispered back. She felt someone take her hand and nearly screamed. She whipped her head around quickly. "Christ Cici, warn me next time."

Cici gave her hand a little squeeze. "Sorry, I thought I'd be less scared if I was holding on to someone."

Willow sighed then held a hand in front of her. A tiny ball of blue light appeared, illuminating just enough to see each other and the road directly in front of them.

"Won't that attract the Werewolves?" Asked Dawn.

"If Kennedy senses anything I'll get rid of it," Willow promised.

"No keep it on, let them come," Kennedy said. "It beats walking around half the night trying to find them.

Marvin and Hank were loping along side by side and it felt great. There was no bigger rush than those first few hours in the wolf. The power was at its strongest when the moon was fresh and you felt like you could run forever. Or at least until you woke up naked twenty miles out of town.

He steered his brother towards the farm. Better to stay out of town. Marvin didn't care how much havoc Hank would cause at the farm. Animals were there to be eaten. People though, that was a different matter. People and wolves were equals; they'd learned millennia ago to co-exist by keeping out of each other's way. People left you alone if you left them alone. You soon learned that there were a lot more people out there to hunt you down if you didn't abide by the rules, too.

Hank didn't think like that; he just felt the energy coursing through him and let it over take him. Sure that was a fun way to live but it didn't let you live very long. Look what had happened to their parents. He'd never told Hank the full story of their deaths; he hadn't wanted to upset the boy, but he knew. He'd been running with them that night when they had gotten reckless, forgot about the rules. They'd chased down a pack of hunters, just for the fun of it, just for the thrill. Marvin believed in his heart they hadn't wanted to hurt anybody, after all they were the ones who taught him the rules. They had just got caught up in the energy, and then disaster had struck. The hunters hadn't been scared; they'd been expecting it. Humans lived by the same ideas as wolves. Safety in numbers, and there were more humans than his mom and pop had realized and they turned and they fired.

It was guns they fired of course, guns with silver bullets, but his young wolf brain hadn't known that. He'd seen the flashes of fire and turned and ran even before the deafening report reached his ears.

Going into town the night before had been a mistake, but the place was usually so quiet and Hank liked to knock over the dumpsters. It had seemed harmless but it wasn't; it had nearly ended in the ancient set of laws being broken. If Hank had killed that weird girl they would have had to move again and Marvin would have had to live with the guilt of Hank's mistake. He loved his brother dearly and would do anything in the world for him, and if that meant keeping him out of trouble to keep him safe then so be it. Chicken tasted pretty good anyway.

They leapt easily over the wire fence protecting the south end of the McGee property, and Marvin could feel the excitement pouring off his little brother. It was infectious. His tongue lolled out of the side of his mouth as they ran nearer the chicken houses, giving him the appearance of laughing.

They were near enough to smell the chickens and he heard Hank give a cross between a growl and a bark as he surged ahead of him, but Marvin suddenly got the impression that something was wrong. He lifted his nose to air and sniffed hard. There was someone here. Above the lingering scent of the McGee's and the blood tingling scent of the chickens was a fresher scent; a human one.

Hank gave a strangled howl as he leapt at the first chicken house. His supernatural strength knocked the house clean over and the air was filled with the cluck and squawk of frightened chickens. He pounced and dived among them, feathers flying.

Marvin snapped up at passing chicken more by reflex than will, he was still trying to figure out what was going on. There was supposed to be no one here, it was supposed to be safe, but he could smell someone close by. He tried to get his brother's attention, and damned the wolf body not for the first time for not having decent vocal cords. They had to get out of there.

Marvin started yelping and growling, telling Hank it was time to move, but Hank was having too much of a good time. For every chicken he sunk his fangs into there was another three or four just flapping around like funny looking clowns. He was in his element, plus this was all legal; he wasn't breaking his brother's precious rules by wailing on a few chickens.

The outside light suddenly came on making the yard as bright as day. Marvin froze under the spotlight, wondering what the billyheck to do next. Hank tossed a chicken into the air with his jaws and pounced on another drunk on the thrill of the kill and the taste of warm blood.

A lad of no more than sixteen came flying out into the yard, shotgun at the ready and took in the scene of devastation. Hank was up to his eyes in white feathers. Marvin stood stock still, staring at the young man. They were equals after all; this situation was bad, but they were equals. All he needed to do was to get Hank and get the hell away from there. The boy wouldn't shoot, not just for some chickens that weren't even his.

"Hey get away from there, ya thieving critters." The lad called, raising the shotgun to his shoulder and firing a warning shot into the air.

'That's it boy,' Thought Marvin, 'Do your duty and scare Hank off for me at the same time.'

Marvin was geared to run when he saw Hank react to the gun shot. His brother looked up from the chickens and tensed, preparing for flight.

"Come on boy," Marvin managed to convey in a growl. He wanted to already be running but he couldn't leave Hank behind.

Hank gave a growl and leapt forward away from the chickens, but instead of running to meet Marvin he stopped and faced the lad, growling fiercely all the while. Marvin could see the blood lust in his eyes, making them gleam with liquid fire.

The lad raised the shot gun and leveled it at the monstrous wolf in front of him. "I'm gonna shoot you dead, dog. Now get the hell outta here."

With a snarl Hank pounced, the muscles in his legs propelling him much further than a regular wolf could have managed, but before he covered half his intended distance his eyes reflected the flash of fire and his yelp was lost in the sound of the gun.

Marvin saw the sparks, he heard the gun go off, he saw his brother go down and he went insane. He threw himself at the young man, yelping and snarling, and took him by surprise as he tried to reload his gun. He bore the man down to the ground and sunk his fangs into the first flesh he could find. The blood flowed down his throat and made him feel sick, but this was right. The boy had killed his brother, it deserved to be avenged.

Marvin was was caught off guard when another wolf appeared on the scene, running full pelt towards him and then leaping and knocking him clear of the murderer. He rolled several feet away and then landed back on his paws, facing the other creature. It was a Werewolf but of a different species to his own. Marvin had the look of a real wolf, just bigger and stronger and with the ability to think almost like a human. This new wolf was more humanoid; while it stood on all fours like he did, its back looked funny, like he was hunched over and his muzzle was short and stubby, the nose more human than animal. His assessment of his attacker ended abruptly when it launched itself at him and they engaged in a vicious battle of claws and fangs.

The Thomas' youngest son had screamed as he felt the weight of the Werewolf knock him to the ground. He screamed again and struggled as hard as he could when he felt sharp fangs slide into the skin of his shoulder. He continued to scream even as the blood drained out of him, but they became weaker and weaker. When the heavy weight of the wolf disappeared from his chest and the fangs withdrew with a stinging pain from his skin, he was already too weak to do anything but lay there gasping and listening to the snarling and growling of the fight.

The Slayers and the Scoobies trudged up to the farm by the light of Willow's spell and paused to look around wildly, then at each other as the sounds of screaming and gunfire and snarling floated over the fields to them. Then, as one, they sprinted up the track towards the source.

Xander had spent a pleasant four hours steadily sipping his beers and chatting to Alex, the barman. He was disappointed when a beeping noise caused the guy to abandon his post near Xander and head to where a heavy duty oil skin coat hung on a hook behind the bar. He reached into a deep pocket and pulled free a walkie talkie. He pressed a button and a tinny voice could be heard.

"Alex, we've got a situation out on 'Old Town Road.' I was driving west of there and I heard shooting and screaming coming from the McGee place."

"Sam, I thought that place was empty?" Replied Alex.

The bar, that hadn't got much busier since Xander had come in, had fallen silent at Sam's message. Xander wondered why this Sam guy was calling his new barman friend for help.

Static filled the silence before Sam's disembodied voice was heard again. "Doesn't sound very empty."

"Okay I'm on my way. Move around to the front of the property but don't approach the house. I repeat don't approach until I get there. Over and out." Alex started shrugging into the big coat slipping the walkie talkie back in the pocket.

Xander sat staring into space. His friends were patrolling tonight. What were the chances that they weren't involved in whatever ruckus was going on? He figured slim to none. Sam had said there was shooting and screaming, that couldn't be good. He had to get to them.

He got off his stool so fast he had to catch it to keep it from tipping over. He didn't even realize Alex was talking to him.

"Hey, Xander, I said I've got to go out, can you watch the bar for me?"

"Um what? Oh no I'm sorry I have to go." He made his way towards the door and suddenly thought of something. "And you shouldn't be going out there anyway, it might not be safe. You should call the police. Have them deal with it." Xander was aware of a few chuckles from around the room as he stumbled out of the door.

He stood in the middle of the road, looking from left to right. "Oh yeah, this is good. I have no idea where anyone is, I have no idea where the trouble is and I have no idea where anywhere is," he muttered to himself. "Wonder-Xander to the rescue."

Alex came striding through the door after him. "Xander, what was all that about? Are you okay?"

Xander spun around when he heard the barman's voice. "Uh yeah, I'm fine. I was going to check out this trouble. I'm trained for things like this. As a civilian I suggest you go back inside until I have this under control," Xander said in his best fake Riley voice. "Uh after you've pointed me in the direction of Old Town Road, that is."

Alex laughed and it was a big booming sound. He reached into another pocket and pulled out a leather wallet, which he flipped open to show Xander a silver star. Underneath the star was the name 'Deputy Alexander Nichols'.

"I think it's my job to tell you to stay inside," joked Alex as he walked over to a big four-wheeler parked in the alley beside the bar.

"I have to get out there, I can't explain, at least not until I get there, but I'm just going to hop in my car. Can you wait so I can follow you?" Xander was already fishing in his pocket for his keys, expecting Alex to laugh at him and drive off, so he'd have to be quick.

"Get in here, we can go up together."

"Huh?" Xander dropped the keys and cursed, bending down to scoop them up again he asked. "You're serious?"

"Yep." Alex reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a blue light shaped like a snow globe.

"Cool." Xander ran for the passenger side and jumped in as Alex began to pull off.

"Besides, if you'd have gotten in that jeep then I'd have had to arrest you for drunk driving and that always puts a strain on budding friendships." Alex swung onto the main road and headed out of town.

"I expect it would," agreed Xander. "Can we put on the flashy light?" He asked excitedly.

Alex smiled. "Sure, flip that switch." Xander did so and the blue light started flashing on top of the car. "So Xander, are you a military man?"

"Yeah, well no, well sorta."

"You're a complicated fellow."

Faith's back hit the chain link fence surrounding the exercise compound and she only just ducked the punch to her face. She'd underestimated the quality of Lolitta's rage. The Italian-American had a serious case of hate for Faith and it seemed she didn't care who knew it. Faith figured Lol just didn't like the fact that she wouldn't kow-tow to her like everyone else. As far as Faith could tell she was the only woman in the whole stinking place who wouldn't be grateful to be Lolitta's bitch and that really burned her. Especially with Faith's appeal coming up, the Slayer wouldn't be surprised if Lolitta didn't plan on killing her before she had a chance to get out; use her as an example of what happened when you didn't fall in line.

'Well she can try, but she doesn't know what a Slayer can take if she thinks these weak ass attempts are gonna finish me off. Huh. You idiot, Faith, she don't even know what a Slayer is,' Faith thought to herself, chuckling grimly as she side-stepped another punch, watching as Lolitta grew increasingly angry. 'Maybe just before I leave I'll have to teach her,' she decided as she was rushed from the side and smacked into the chain link fence by one of the ugly sisters.

She was forced to the ground, by the sheer weight of the woman bearing down on her and she stayed there with her head tucked in between her arms until the kicks stopped. 'A guard has finally noticed what's going on,' she thought as she peeked through her hair.

A guard was indeed approaching the chain link fence where she had been cornered, but he didn't look like he was running to her rescue, he just looked put out that he had to come all the way down here. She lifted her head further and saw Lolitta and her pals sauntering off in the other direction. Why were they walking away? Why wasn't the guard telling them to stop?

"Wilkins," the guard barked her name.

"What?" She snapped, looking up at him still on her hands and knees.

"Shit girl, what happened to you?"

"You mean you didn't see?" From his blank expression she could tell he hadn't. She shook her head in disgust. "Nothing, nothing happened." She started to stand up, wincing as she did so. Her ribs, already bruised earlier, were giving her the most pain. She figured she probably had at least one or two broken now. Her face had taken at least one solid kick too.

The guard frowned. "Nothing? You look like you got run over by a heard of Bison." He reached out to touch her swollen cheek and she slapped his hand away.

"I slipped," she spat sarcastically. "What did you want?"

The guard had to think for a second before he remembered. "Oh yeah, your lawyers here."

"Gunn? Cool. Lead the way." Faith started hobbling in the direction of the visitors block.

"Uh you sure you don't want to go to the infirmary? I can tell them to come back another time." The guard was still looking at her with something akin to concern.

"No really I'm fine. Hang on - Them? Angel's here too?"

"Dunno if that's her name. She sure looks like one though. Damn Faith, you're either luckier than you look or smarter than you look. Having a blonde babe with a killer body for a lawyer; the jury'll be so busy creaming their shorts, they'll agree with anything she says." The guard laughed at his own wit.

Faith wasn't listening anymore - her body was having some kind of melt down. Her heart ping-ponged inside her chest until it settled in her throat and her stomach did a loop the loop before sinking into an icy pit somewhere near her bowels.

Only one person had the ability to cause such conflicting emotions in her.

And she was here!

Marvin had had enough. This creature was just as fast, just as agile and just as strong as he, but it had the advantage of size, plus the uncanny ability to rise up on its hind legs and swipe with its forepaws. More like a bear than a wolf.

The next time the thing batted him away, instead of leaping straight back in to the fray, he turned and dashed away across the field. After a second's surprise,the newcomer took off after him.

Marvin had the benefit of a small head start but he could still feel the other wolf's breath on his heels. He picked up a little speed and tried a feint to the left before veering to the right. It worked, and he heard the other wolf skid across the dewy grass as he tried to change direction. Now Marvin was heading for the road and he pulled out all the stops. If he could get into the woods on the other side of Old Town Road then he stood a chance of losing his attacker.

He leapt the boundary fence at the same time he smelled humans. In mid-flight he could do nothing but hope he was across the road too fast for them to register him. He could see a faint blue light, like concentrated moonlight and he growled at the sight. His paws hit the asphalt at the same time as something pierced his left shoulder. He yelped in shock more than pain and stumbled badly, losing his footing and sliding across the rough surface of the road.

He lay there struggling to get up and heard a shout of, "Good shot Kennedy." Then everything went black.

The second wolf skidded to halt at the fence, spraying up dirt and pebbles which scattered across the asphalt alerting the humans to his presence.

Someone yelled. "There's the other one!" And he sniffed the air deeply, his tail wagging slowly from side to side. He took a hesitant step forward, but saw the tranquillizer gun aimed at him. It stirred memories of pain and captivity and he spun on a dime and ran back the way he had come.

Kennedy cursed as her second dart went wide. "Damn dog," she muttered. "Giles and Cici, bag and tag this one. The rest come on. Let's make tonight two for two." She jumped the fence and sprinted across the field in pursuit of the second wolf.

Hank blearily opened his eyes. His stomach hurt and his throat felt dry and he was pissed about it. He pulled himself up on his haunches and choked up a mouthful of chicken feathers. That made his throat feel better, but it didn't improve his mood any.

He looked around for his big brother. Marvin always made everything better. He wasn't there. His scent was all around, mixed with the scent of another Werewolf, one Hank didn't recognize. It made his nose itch, but fast on the heels of that was another scent, one that was infinitely more pleasurable; one he'd never been allowed to enjoy before, but now without Marvin there to stop him, he was drawn towards it.

He crept towards the fallen boy, like a dog that knew he was doing something naughty but his master wasn't around to tell him off so to hell with the slipper. The scent of human blood felt thick on his tongue and it was better than any chocolate he'd tasted in his human shape.

The man was still alive, he could hear his heartbeat. It was weak, but it was there. Whoever had attacked this man had bitten a chunk out of his shoulder. If it had been any nearer his neck he would have been dead in an instant. Hank gingerly stuck out a tongue and lapped at the congealing blood. It tasted so good, he paid no heed to the panting sounds coming across the field, or of the car pulling up alongside the house. It wasn't until he heard a human voice that he ceased his lapping and looked up.

"Oh my sweet Jesus."

A man stood in front of him with a gun. He was sickened by what he was witnessing and leaned to the side heaving. By the time he had the presence of mind to raise his gun and shoot, Hank had already done the math. Man plus gun equals pain. He leapt at the man with a ferocious snarl and the man staggered backwards. He hadn't had time to fire the gun, but he had brought it up in front of him pretty quick and now he used it as leverage to keep the wolf away from his throat. The thing's claws sliced through the material at his shoulders, but his uniform was thick and he wasn't badly injured yet.

"Oh my God, there's another one!" Dawn's voice came from the dark. "It's attacking that man."

"Well shoot it," Kennedy said. "I've got the other one." She pulled the tranq gun up to her shoulder as she hastily inserted another dart and fired at the wolf who was twenty feet in front of her and closing on its companion and the helpless man fast.

Dawn stopped, took a firm stance and raised her crossbow. She sighted on the wolf attacking what looked like a cop and pulled the trigger. The bolt headed straight for the attacking wolf's rump.

The dart Kennedy had fired clipped the end of the fleeing wolf's tail off. He yelped and jumped in the air a little earlier than he'd planned to, his strong back legs sending him sailing into Hank and knocking him off of Sam the Cop just in time for the crossbow bolt to hit Sam in the thigh. He gave a yowl of pain equal to Hank's and collapsed to the ground.

"Oh crap!" Dawn said.

Act Four

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