by Charles

The sun shines brightly over the crater that was once known as Sunnydale. If you listen carefully, you can hear the thousands of voices of the people who once lived here. A wolf, alone and russet-colored, takes its time as it strolls up to the edge of the crater. It seems to be sniffing as it goes.

The wolf looks around carefully as it reaches the crater's precipice. Then, the wolf seems to ripple and shimmer and in its place stands a young man with blue hair. He's naked and doesn't mind the breeze that blows across him.

So many memories. He thinks about them as he walks along the edge. The years at school. He turns his head as he hears the lockers slam shut, and thinks he hears someone call his name. There's no one there, of course. If he's going to think of school, he also has to think of all the times he was locked up in the library. He thinks of how they would never let him have something to read for afterwards. Which makes sense, because it would have been torn up, but sometimes it took awhile for Xander to wake up and let him out. And it was boring with nothing to do in there.

He continues walking and his thoughts turn to the Bronze. So many good times and concerts there with Devon and the others. He pretends to strum his bass for old times' sake.

Even in the rubble, he can pick out other landmarks too. Like the Espresso Pump, and Buffy's house. His house is there somewhere too, but he doesn't care about it. That's a part of his past he really doesn't care about. Sure, there were the rehearsals with the Dingos there. There's not much else there he cares to remember.

It's silent as he walks, with the only sounds his footsteps crunching on the dirt and the wind rustling the plants as it blows. The wind changes directions and blows from the east, and he can smell the forests, where he once ran free. He shivers a little at that memory, because the wolf likes that idea. Running free in the forest, stalking prey.

The wind shifts again and if it's possible for academia to have a scent, then it originates from UC Sunnydale. He doesn't have too many memories from there, and the ones he does have aren't the best. They're mostly of losing control and letting the wolf take over. He considers doing that, letting the wolf take over again, but decides against that. It's not time.

He'd heard about the devastation and seen pictures, even where he was, word had travelled. But to see it in person like this. It's awe-inspiring. He continues around the circle of destruction. There are cars and buildings all blended together in a glorious orgy of man-made creation gone awry.

He pauses and sniffs the air, nods. He's closer to what he came here for. He didn't come to reminisce. Memories are nice, but they aren't the point. He picks up his pace as he walks, remembering the night before, after a gig in a nearby town.

The wind had kicked up, and he had caught wind of something or someone where Sunnydale used to be. The rest of the band had found a place to crash, and invited him to join them, but he declined, saying he wanted to go check Sunnydale out. His bandmates had shrugged, telling him that there was nothing to be seen but a "big fuckin' hole with a bunch of shit in it." Oz explained that he used to live in Sunnydale, and the band stopped kidding him about it.

He pauses and sniffs the air. This is it, he decides, and kneels down. Russet-brown fur sprouts all over as he changes again. The wolf lowers its head and follows a trail only it can see as it trots.

The wolf pauses along the way a couple of times to snort and shake its head, as if to clear its senses. The wolf is focused on the trail, and follows it as it leads away from the remains of Sunnydale and then back again. If the wolf were human, it would be confused by this. It's as if whatever the wolf is following wants to hide. The wolf is a skilled hunter, however and will not be deterred by amateur tricks.

The wolf follows the trail to an abandoned, rusting husk of a car near the edge of the crater. It's been stripped of all usable parts for a long time now, for there are scavengers who will come no matter the risk. That doesn't matter to the wolf, for the wolf has found what it was looking for.

The wolf nudges its way into the vehicle and nearly scares the shivering, naked human in the trunk area. The wolf sniffs the air and if it could nod, it would, for the wolf has found what it was looking for.

Before the startled human's eyes, the wolf seems to melt away, and a naked, blue haired human has taken its place. The blue haired human appraises the other one and there's a silence as they look at each other. "'sup?" is all the blue haired one offers by way of greeting.

The other human babbles something about losing his way and spending the night in the car and the blue haired human listens. Once the other human is done, the blue haired one tells him, "I know."

The other human practically sags with relief as he looks up at the blue haired one. "You know what it's like? To change and then wake up naked somewhere strange?"

The blue haired one nods. It's happened to him lots of times, but now that he's learned to control that side of him, it doesn't happen. When there are full moons, it isn't as easy. He doesn't like to think about losing control.

"Does it ever, y'know, get easier? Or, do you just keep dreading full moons and learning to be okay with being naked?"

The blue haired human thinks about this before answering. He came to learn control after suffering, and he isn't sure that this human is ready to know. "It's possible," he admits.

"Of course it is," blurts out the other human. "Look at you! You changed in broad daylight!"

The blue haired human shrugs off the praise, knowing that it means nothing. He knows that the balance between the wolf and the human is a careful one.

The two of them continue on much in the same way until night falls, with the blue haired human listening as the other one babbles and asks questions. The blue haired human answers when he can, using as few words as possible.

As night falls and the full moon rises, the blue haired human watches and remembers as the other one shifts shape. Then he too, becomes a wolf, and together, they hunt.


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