The Cost of Giles
Ch 5 – A Potion, a Choice and a Confession
Xander came around the side of the house with the running mower, drenched in sweat. He didn’t know what time it was, but glancing at the sky, it appeared it was still some time before . The heat was unbelievable and he promised himself to drink a few glasses of water to re-hydrate as soon as he was finished.
A glance at movement to his right found Tara bending over her overgrown flower bed, tugging on the weeds which had tried to take over. She was wearing a straw hat, but kept pushing it up as her forearm swiped at the perspiration on her face.
Seeing him watching her, she gave a small wave and gestured for him to come over.
He shut off the mower and wandered over, kneeling next to her.
“I thought so. Now, I just think they’re a pain in the rump,” she laughed. “Thanks again for mowing, Xan. You really don’t need to, but I’m glad you are.”
“I should have done it long before now, instead of leaving it to you. Of course, I hadn’t realized you were the only one doing any work around here.”
“Let it go. I’m fine,” she smiled at him. “I actually called you over to discuss a certain potion I was working on for you. Remember?”
There was a sudden scary moment when he felt Hyena’s consciousness surge forward, as if to attack Tara for even mentioning the dreaded potion, but she subsided when Xan told her to let him handle it.
Tara didn’t appear to have noticed anything unusual.
“Uh, thanks, T. Really… but, I’m going to have to decline. I’m sorry, I should have told you that you didn’t need to keep working on it.”
Her confusion was obvious, as she stopped yanking weeds and looked puzzled. “B-but, you were so anxious to get rid of her… and poor Spike. He told me about, uh, the issues she brought up between the two of you,” she turned a slight shade of pink.
“I-I didn’t know he talked to anyone,” he said, surprised himself now. “I guess it doesn’t matter… I mean, you’re family and all.”
“Xander, what’s going on? Has she threatened you? Because all it takes is a few swallows. She can’t stop you, I’m sure.”
Hyena was very close to the surface of his mind now and it made it difficult to think. He could feel her desire to tackle the woman right here on the lawn and throttle her while screaming at her to butt out. It was a close thing to keep in control.
“Xan? Are you alright,” she said with concern.
“Y-yes… fine. She’s just a bit… aggressive… about not drinking that potion. I don’t want her to hurt you on accident.”
Tara turned pale and stood up, backing a step away from him. “Should I begin an incantation, because I can easily stun her if she wants to threaten either one of us.”
“N-no… I got it. Really,” he said. He was looking up at her, but deliberately didn’t get to his feet, putting Hyena at a disadvantage, just in case.
“Then tell me what is going on. Why the sudden change of heart? And, how can I know that this is your choice and not her imposing her will on you?”
“It’s my choice, T. And it’s not that I’m thrilled to have her personality and some of her memories or opinions bouncing around my skull, but we made a deal. I intend to honor it.”
“A deal,” she asked, skeptically. “What sort of deal? If it was to protect us, then you made it under duress… there’s no dishonor in ignoring it and taking the potion. This is your life, after all.”
Xander briefly growled at her, causing Tara to take another large step away from him. He dug his hands into the grass around him and held on.
“Back off, Bitch! I’ve got this handled! That wasn’t at you, Tara,” he noted her frightened expression. “I’m just having a bit of an argument with Her.”
“You’re scaring me, Xan. She scares me. And Spike has been looking forward to that potion being finished… he’s mentioned it almost every day for nearly two weeks, now.”
“I know. And, I’ll have to explain things to him, but we can make this work. I needed her to find where Dawn was… to track her down underground. The price was not doing anything to destroy her.”
The Hyena-spirit seemed to relax somewhat, now that he was defending her right to stay. He could still feel her warily watching
“C-can I speak to her… directly, I mean?”
“She can hear you. Believe me, she’s all ears, right now.”
“I want her to be able to respond to me.”
“Tara, that’s not a good idea. When we were fighting Glory’s crazy people, she took me over and I blacked out. I won’t be able to stop her if I give her control and she decides to get violent.”
“I understand. I’m willing to take the risk.”
I won’t hurt her if she doesn’t try to hurt me, his animal-personality directed to him.
You better not. You can’t stay in the driver’s seat forever, and I’m not going to ‘fade away’ like Commando ended up doing… which I don’t buy for a second! If I come to and find you’ve done anything, our deal is off and you’re dead.
“I’m just negotiating with her, Tara. Look, I don’t like this idea, but I’m willing to chance it. Just… don’t do anything sudden with the magic… she’s jumpy and worried.”
“I got it,” Tara nodded, emphatically. “I just want to talk.”
Taking a deep, shaky breath, he closed his eyes and waited. He could feel Hyena’s presence moving forward and beginning to crowd him out. It took all of his will not to panic and push back against her and then there was simply nothingness as he lost conscious control.
Tara took a third step backward as she saw Xander Harris open his eyes and she immediately felt the change around him. His eye color, for one thing, was suddenly several shades lighter and the entire set of his facial features was subtly different.
He smoothly stood and looked her over and she suddenly knew what it felt like to be a sheep being studied by a wolf.
“D-do you have a, uh, a name,” she asked, nervously.
“Just Hyena,” Xander’s voice replied, sounding rough and guttural. He looked her up and down with something approximating a smirk and she blushed lightly.
“I’m not happy with Xander refusing to drink my potion. What you tried to make Spike do… it was disgraceful. You know how worried we are about vampires, in general, as it is… to try to get Xander bitten…!”
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Spike couldn’t do us any permanent harm. I have more than enough strength to push him off and if worse came to worse, I’d just put Xander back in the driver’s seat. The chip would fry the vampire.”
“And the damage would already be done! You were playing a dangerous game,”
“And I paid the price… no sex. You don’t need to worry about that again.”
“What about the other personality? I’m worried about Xander’s mental health… he’s, like, borderline schizophrenic.”
“First of all, I’m really sick of hearing about Commando,” she growled. “Second, the other personality is gone… faded away into oblivion,” she said with obvious joy. “And third, I am NOT a mental disease!”
“I’m just concerned for Xander.”
“Xander, Xander, Xander! You, Spike, Giles… all so damned worried about him! What about me?! I have every fucking right to exist and I mean to do whatever it takes to stay here. Now you can try to pull some hocus pocus bullshit and make this a war, or you can fucking just accept that I’m here, now! And, I’d like to point out that your precious little man would have been cut in half in Glory’s penthouse lobby if it wasn’t for me! He’d have had his brains bashed right the fuck in at the tower site, if it wasn’t for me! You should all show a little fucking gratitude to me, instead of plotting to kill me!”
“No one is plotting to kill you! You’re not real… I mean you are, but…,”
She was obviously becoming flustered, just as Hyena knew she would. She’d sized up the witches when she’d met them with her own body and though
“I’m done here,” Hyena cut her off, intending to further fluster her. “Back off, or pay the consequences.”
As Tara was trying to recover from her stammering, Xander stumbled back from her. When he looked at her a second later, his eyes were their normal dark shade of brown and he wore a concerned look on his face.
“Are you okay? She didn’t try to hurt you?!”
Tara was looking pretty white in the face.
Of course I didn’t! Could you go one day without insulting me, do you think?!
“N-no… I mean… not really. But, she’s pretty, uh, forceful. And it’s obvious she has no intention of going anywhere.”
“We can work together, Tara. It’ll be alright.”
“I-I don’t know, Xander. She scares me. A-and Spike isn’t going to be pleased.”
“You let me deal with Spike. And we can consider the potion as an emergency plan. If you ever see me struggling to stay in control, knock me out and force the potion down my throat, alright?”
“I-I guess. If you’re really sure?”
“I am, Tara. It’ll work itself out. Now, I’m gonna get back to the lawn and you can finish up rescuing the flowers,” he smiled at her reassuringly. “Then I’m gonna run home and shower and change. By that time, we should be ready for our lunch and you can tell me what the next problem is….”
End Ch 5