Unfinished Business

Xander stood in front of the door, debating once more whether he was doing the right thing. Finally, he decided to ignore the voice telling him to stop and think things through. He had been ignoring that voice for years, and there was no point in starting now. He knocked on the door.

Oz opened it, pile of clothing in one hand. "Hey."

"Hi. I'm glad you were up." He glanced around the room, observing the duffel bag, pile of clothing on the bed, and half-empty closet. "Am I interrupting something? I can come back later."

"Xander. Listen to me. For just a minute. I have to tell you something, and I have to say it now or lose my nerve. I want you to hear it from me rather than Willow or Buffy." Oz sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Last night, I... I killed someone."

Xander stared in shock. "What?"

"I killed Veruca."

Now Xander frowned, confused. "Who? Oh -- the singer from that band? What's up with her, anyway? She has this weird... pull. Giles and I were both just transfixed, but now I can't remember a single thing about her other than the fact that I felt like I had to watch her."

Oz nodded. "That's her."

"Wait. Catching up here. Things just sinking in. You killed her? What the hell are you talking about?"

"She was a werewolf. She tried to kill Willow. She even tried to trick me and get me away from Will so I couldn't protect her. She almost succeeded in killing Willow. But I killed her first. Veruca, that is. Buffy and Willow were there. You can get details from them because I really don't remember much. I'm trying to not remember. I'm stuck with certain details, but not everything. And I'm hoping it stays that way. But the things she said, before, when she's in her human form... She doesn't think of herself as human. I mean, didn't. To her, we're wolves, pure and simple. Animal, no reason to even consider being friends with humans, having a conscience, or think about consequences. I'm afraid I'm going to end up the same way. So I'm leaving."

"But Willow --"

"Has nothing to do with this." Oz sighed again. "This is my decision. It was a hard night, and I need to think things over by myself, without anyone giving their opinions about what's happening or what I should do."

Xander gazed at his hands for a long moment, not sure where else to look. "Do you want to talk about it? I mean, with me?"

"I don't know. We'll see." Oz resumed his task, pulling clothes from his closet and dumping them on his bed. Finally, he spoke again. "You know how you hated Angel because he was a killer decades ago? Well, that's me now. Except he had his problem under control, and I obviously don't. And it's like... It's like I have this other personality that I can't control." He paused, frowning. "'It's like?' No, that's exactly what this is. Veruca and I could have been friends. She could have done something with her life. And I ripped her throat out. I did it, not the wolf. Because I am the wolf. Sure, it was because she was threatening Will, but that doesn't explain why I enjoyed it. Every second of her struggle just made me more excited. Thrilled. Exhilarated. And then when... when..." He sighed. "I can't say it anymore. But when it happened, I felt this thrill, like I had accomplished the most difficult task of my life, and now I had this trophy to show for it that I could point to proudly and say, 'I did that.' And the trophy was her body. It was just an unbelievable rush, and I never want to go through it again."

Xander stared, stunned. "Oz, I'm sorry. I didn't know --"

But Oz just kept pulling clothing from his closet and continued his monologue as if he hadn't heard Xander. "And now... Something's off. I think it's bloodlust. I just want to go fight more. Feel flesh ripping in my teeth, bones cracking in my hands. Get that rush again. It's the most addictive thing I've ever experienced. So I'm leaving. My head is full of all this... stuff. I want it to be clear. This is not the town to help. And I need to be away from people. Away from the temptation to hurt anybody."

"So you think isolation is the answer?"

"Huh?" Oz turned confused eyes on Xander. "Oh. That was weird. For a minute, I forgot you were here." When Xander's face fell at those words, Oz moved to rest his hand on Xander's arm. "I meant, I forgot anyone was here. I was on autopilot for a minute there." At Xander's lack of reaction, Oz moved his hands to Xander's shoulders, looking him directly in the eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm zoning. My freakout. It has nothing to do with you, okay?"

Xander pulled away from Oz and moved to the window, staring out for a long moment. "What was going on last night, anyway?" Oz opened his mouth to respond, but Xander continued before the redhead had the chance to utter a single word. "You, me, Angel... All this weird stuff."

At the vampire's name, Oz stilled, confused. "Angel? What does he have to do with this?" When Xander didn't answer, Oz frowned and sat down on his bed, sorting through his pile of clothing. "Is this the guy stuff?"


"Let me guess. Buffy."

"Not exactly."


Xander nodded. "Parker came into the pub last night and told me about this guy who... Well, who somehow managed to convince Parker to sleep with him."

Now Oz dropped the t-shirt he had been folding. Then he turned to stare at Xander, mouth open in shock. "Angel?"

"Yeah." Now Xander smiled faintly. "Angel made a lasting impression on him, too. The number Parker pulls on girls? I mean, women?" Oz nodded. "That's what Angel did. Except to Parker. And on top of everything else, Angel called out someone else's name. I think that was the key to the whole thing."

"Wow." Oz picked the shirt back up. "That's -- wow." Now he smiled half-heartedly. "So he got the same wham-bam-what-was-your-name-again routine that he pulled on Buffy."

"Pretty much. He was really... upset? Freaked? I don't know. But it was really weird to see him crying in his beer over it. And I mean that beer thing literally."

Oz snorted. "Payback's a bitch." Now he glanced at his clock and sobered. "Speaking of payback. Xander, I really need to get finished here. I want to get out of here before I change my mind so I can get things worked out before karma bites me in the ass."

"Oh. Right." He sighed. "Be careful, Oz." He turned and slowly walked to the door. "You'll notice I'm not saying goodbye."

"Yeah. Thanks." Oz smiled faintly. "I'll consider this unfinished business. For when I feel like I need an excuse to come back."

As Xander walked down the street, away from Oz and his undetermined plans for the future, he realized that he did not say what he had gone there to say. "Good going, Harris. Now you might never have the chance to talk to him again." He stopped in the middle of the street. "Great. Now I'm talking to myself." He sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets before resuming his wandering. "I wonder if anyone else is awake at this hour."