Love, Truth, And Honesty
The Greyhound coach wheezed into Sunnydale's bus station,
its air brakes squealing as it came to a halt. Oz looked out of
the window and saw Willow, anxiously peering at the
windows to locate him. When she did so, she beamed, and
started to wave excitedly. The guilt hit Oz like a brick and he
let out a gasp, surprised at the intensity of his feelings.
Forcing a watery smile on his face, he raised a hand to
acknowledge her, then began to gather his belongings.
Stepping off the bus, Oz was engulfed in the arms of his
girlfriend, her lips pressing hard against his own. Willow's
enthusiastic embrace almost caused the slim werewolf to
topple over, and he staggered backwards.
"Oops! Sorry!" Willow released her grip to allow Oz to
regain his balance. He heard a snigger, and noticed Buffy
was standing a little behind Willow, arms folded and with a
smirk on her face as she watched her friends.
"Hey Oz. How was the Wacky Races?" she asked, as she
managed to squeeze past Willow to hug her friend.
"Good. Although I hope that metaphor doesn't make me
Muttley," Oz replied with a smile.
"Oz, I'm so glad you're back!" Willow enthused, looking
into her boyfriend's eyes.
"Hey, haircut!" said Oz, suddenly noticing Willow's
"You like it?"
"Yeah," he said, then silently cursed himself for not being
"Really?" Willow had her insecure face on.
"Yeah," he said again, trying to be more emphatic. She
smiled happily at him again, and his stomach felt like it had
just been punched. He smiled back, and they picked up his
luggage and began to walk to Oz's house.
Joyce smoothed down the front of her dress.
"Well, do I look okay?" she asked, fluffing her hair.
"Fine, mom. Go and enjoy yourself." Buffy ordered, as she
helped herself to more noodles. Whilst Joyce was off to a
gallery cocktail party, Willow, Oz and Buffy were celebrating
Oz's return with a Chinese takeaway pig-out at Buffy's
"Okay. Behave yourselves." The older woman pecked her
daughter on the cheek, then grabbed her purse and headed
for the door, waving to Oz and Willow as she went.
Her mother out of the way, Buffy decided she could fish for
gossip. "So, did Xander find any significant others on his
Oz choked on his chicken satay. "Uh, well sort of. Yes. I
don't know if he'd want me to say anything; it didn't end
Buffy raised an eyebrow in amusement. "And did you
find a woman?"
"Buffy!" exclaimed Willow, in mock horror.
"No, no, of course not," said Oz, a little panicked.
Her smile fading a little, Buffy said, "I was only joking Oz.
Willow put her arm around Oz's shoulder. "He's just
offended that you might think that he would cheat on me."
Oz said nothing.
The crescent moon hung in the air on its background of
stars. Oz would be human for another few weeks yet, but the
image still unsettled him. Not that that was the only thing.
He was walking home from Buffy's, Willow's hand in his,
and he was trying not to think about what he had done. But
that was difficult, especially with him being next to the girl
that he loved -- and he did love Willow, despite everything --
but he couldn't get Xander's face out of his mind. He loved
Xander too, and he couldn't reconcile both those feelings. It
wasn't that Xander was male (nor, indeed, that Willow
wasn't); Oz had never bothered about that sort of thing, and
he wasn't about to start now. It was simply that he knew that
no matter how much he loved Willow, seeing Xander, once
he returned, and not being able to be with him as a lover
would tear him apart. And, no matter how much he mulled it
over, he couldn't see a solution.
His train of thought was interrupted by a vague realisation
that Willow was talking to him: "...so we think Angel is the
father of Cordelia's triplets, and that's why he ran off to
New York to become a mime artist."
"What?" said Oz, suddenly even more confused.
"Oh, so you are listening to me after all," remarked Willow,
sounding a little miffed. It had been a joke. Oz was relieved.
"Sorry, I was miles away."
"Yes, you were. For over a month. Can't I have all of you
"Yes, of course," he lied; Willow could never have all of him
A little while later, they reached Willow's house, and he
kissed her goodnight, dismissing her suggestions that he
come in with protests that he was tired from the bus journey,
and that he would see her tomorrow. As soon as the front
door closed, Oz headed for Willy's Alibi.
The telephone began to bleat, and Buffy picked up the
"Hello?... Xander!... How are you?... Oh, I'm fine. The
usual: slay, sleep, slay, shop... Where are you?...
Mississippi, uh-huh... Yes, Oz got back fine, he and Will just
left. Speaking of Oz, he's been telling us stories about you...
About your relationship, silly. You've got to tell me all about
it... Gay? Xander, I never said you were... Oz? What's Oz
got to do with... You and Oz?!?!... No, he did not tell
us... I thought... but... I asked him if you'd met anyone,
and... Willow? No, she thought the same, I guess... No, I
don't know if Oz will tell her... Why shouldn't I? You're
supposedly her best friend... Oh, don't give me that. It takes
two to tango... How could you, Xander? With Oz?... I can't
believe Oz, either... This is going to crush Willow... I will if
I choose to Xander. She has a right to know... What?...Put
more money in!... Xander?... Xander!?..."
Oz staggered out of the bar, and attempted to make his way
home. He managed to progress a few blocks towards his
goal before deciding that a mail box looked very comfortable,
and that he might just sit against it for a while.
A short time later, an ancient Citroen creaked to a halt next to
the mailbox and its driver stepped out and hurried across to
the slumped form of Oz. Giles anxiously checked for any
signs that Oz had been attacked, but there was nothing
obvious. Stooping over the younger man, Giles recoiled at
the stench of alcohol.
"Oh dear," he muttered, placed a hand on Oz's shoulder and
"Oz, it's Giles."
"Hey, library guy. I do love her, you know."
Giles sighed. "Yes, yes, of course you do. Now let's get you
into the car." Sliding his arm under Oz's arms, he tried to lift
the werewolf to his feet. Oz provided some effort, and
between them they managed to load him into the car.
They reached Giles' condo, and the Englishman helped his
inebriated companion up the stairs. Oz had been mumbling
incoherently, but Giles wasn't really listening. It was only
when Oz was deposited on the sofa, with Giles making some
coffee, that anything registered in the librarian's mind.
"Didn't meant to hurt her."
"What? Oz, what did you say?" The glasses came off.
"Hmmm? Oh, I didn't mean to hurt her. Because I didn't,
you must know that."
The glasses were put back on again, and Giles moved closer
to Oz. "Oz, have you hurt someone whilst you were
"Yeah, 'guess so." Oz swayed slightly, and his eyelids
"Where? Where were you?" Giles said, sounding clearly
"All over. New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana..."
"Yes, yes, but where was the girl when you hurt her?"
"Sunnydale? Do you know who?"
For the first time, Oz looked, blearily, into Giles' eyes, his
expression one of confusion: why didn't Giles know what
he was talking about? "Willow." He sagged again and
appeared to be falling asleep.
"Willow? But... you only got back today. How... Oh. Not
"I love him, too."
"Him? Which him?"
Slurring his words now, Oz managed to utter, "Xander,"
before passing out on the sofa.
Taking his glasses off once more, Giles muttered, "Oh
dear," before returning to his coffee.
Oz's head felt like it shrunk, somehow. Either that or his
brain had got larger. In any case, it was painful. Very
painful. And his joints... His mouth felt like it was carpeted,
all dehydrated and sticky. He opened his eyes, squinting as
he took in the light. Where the hell was he? On a sofa, that
much he could tell. Then he noticed a note on the coffee
table next to him.
It read, "Dear Oz,
I had a few things to do this morning, and I
thought it better to let you sleep. Help yourself to breakfast
if you are up to it. There's a spare key under this note
should you need to leave, just put it through the letterbox
once you've locked the door.
Regards, Rupert Giles."
He was in Giles' house. Yes, he vaguely remembered Giles
taking him home. How drunk had he been? Drunk enough
to say anything? He remembered. Yes, he had been that
drunk. Oh, no. Well, that decided it.
Oz loaded the last bag into the back of the van. He grabbed
the handle, intending to drag the door closed when suddenly
two hands gripped his arm, and wrenched it around. Oz now
faced his assailant, though before he could identify them,
they then delivered a vicious punch to his right cheek. The
force knocked Oz off his feet and he landed in a heap next to
the van, groaning in pain. Bringing his hand up to his face,
Oz gingerly traced the line of the cut on his cheekbone.
"Bastard!" the attacker screamed. "How could you, Oz?
Willow loves you. And with Xander?! Her, like, best
Still not having looked at her face, Oz nevertheless knew who
it was, if only because of her strappy shoes. And her voice,
of course. Not to mention the fact that she was the only one
Giles had been likely to tell - and the only one with a punch
like that. He got to his feet. "I didn't mean for it to
happen, Buffy. It just kinda did." He looked up at Buffy, in
a pink top and baby blue skirt, fists clenched at her sides, the
anger seething from her, and wondered absently if she
planned to kill him.
"I don't care. You are going out with Willow, remember.
You do not cheat on her."
Oz got to his feet and faced Buffy. "I know that. And I am
guilty. But I can't pretend it didn't happen. Which is why
I'm going." Buffy grabbed him by the neck and rammed
him against the side of the van.
"What? You're going to run away, rather than face the
Oz managed to croak, "Just like you did."
Buffy delivered another brutal punch. Pain spread across the
right side of Oz's face. "That was completely different, and
you know that." Suddenly the anger drained. She released
Oz, who slid down the side of the van to the ground, then
turned away from him.
Looking up at her back, Oz said, "Look, Buffy, I'm very
confused. I love Willow, but I also love Xander. I can't
reconcile the feelings, and I'm only going to cause more
trauma for Willow if I stay, so I'm going."
Quiet now, Buffy whispered, "You love him?"
"I think so. I don't know. I do know he doesn't return the
affections, and for that reason I can't live here when he
Buffy turned to face him again, then helped Oz to his feet.
"What about Willow?"
"She'll be OK. She has you, and Giles, and she'll have
Xander when he returns. I left her a note, sort of explaining.
That I cheated on her, though not with who. Only you and
Giles know that."
"Giles? How does he know?"
"He didn't tell you?"
"No, that was Xander, sort of. Kind of a mix-up."
"Oh. I think I told Giles last night when I was drunk. Will
you tell Willow?"
"I don't know. Perhaps. Look, Oz, whatever I tell her she's
going to be hurt. Devastated. How could you do this to
her?" Buffy looked into Oz's eyes, seeking an explanation.
He couldn't hold her gaze.
"Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. But I never went out
to hurt her. Which is why I'm trying to minimise the
damage. The sooner I leave, the sooner she'll get over me."
"Where are you going to go?"
"Far away. Other than that..."
"And will you come back?"
Oz pulled the van door shut. "One day."
Angel brought the little espresso cup to his lips and
grimaced, as he tasted cold coffee. He hadn't realised Oz
had been talking for so long.
"So that's when I left. To cut a long, boring story short, I
eventually ended up in Macauley, and I got a job with Mr.
Green. Been there ever since." Oz finally lapsed into
Angel sat with raised eyebrows. "I don't think I've ever
heard you speak more than six words before."
Oz grinned. "Sorry. What time is it?"
Angel looked at his watch. "Uh, 2a.m."
"Shit! I meant to call Devon to see if I could crash at his."
"You can stay with me. I've got a hotel room, there's plenty
of room if you want to stay over."
Oz smiled. "That'd be cool."