Things You Just Do When You're Bored

If there is one thing about Oz that hasn't changed in the like, forever that I've known him, it's that he's a flake. Now, I don't mean a flake like me. Not like, "Oh, dude, I forgot my homework" or other little things like that. No, Oz is a flake in a big, weird way.

Like this one time, I walk into his room and he's sitting at his desk in a towel, and he's writing. That part isn't weird. But the fact that he looked like he had interrupted his shower to get out and write something down is just not normal. At all.

Another time, he forgot me in LA.

Okay, so he didn't. Well, yes he did. Only, it wasn't all his fault, 'cause I'd gone off with this girl with the most amazing legs. Like up to her ears, amazing legs. She said she was a gymnast or something. Whatever.

I never did ask him why he left me behind. I should do that one day.

Eh. Whatever. It's not like he didn't come right back and get me. And then I got to do the whole guilt thing, and that was fun.

This was before the thing. When we were still just friends. And things were way uncomplicated then. I kinda miss that. The simpleness of it all, I mean. things are all complicated and messy. I don't know what the hell is going on. Or if anything is going on. Or if we're anything more than just like fuck buddies or something. Sometimes I think it would be better if we went back to the way it was before.

But then he does stupid things. asleep on me when we're watching Bruce Willis be Bruce Willis and blow stuff up. Or when he throws balled up paper at me when we're writing songs and stuff. Or when he's lying on our bed (his bed, technically, but I sleep there most nights so the difference is like non-existent) and he's curled up in this little ball in the middle of the bed, and the blankets are pulled up over his head like he's hiding from something.

Like I said. Stupid things. Little things. And they make me feel all weird inside. Like I need to protect him, 'cause I'm bigger. Or stuff.

Fuck. It's complicated.

Really complicated.


Sometimes he...

I don't know. It's like any other person would be crying, but he won't. I don't think he knows how.

If it were anyone but Oz, I wouldn't still be around. But it is him, and he's my best friend. He's been my best friend forever, and if he needs me to be more than a best friend, I'll do that. I don't want him to go away. The idea that he might, that he could, scares the shit out of me.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night -- okay, most of the times it's light outside, so morning -- and if he's not there, I panic. Dunno why.

I panicked when he tried to kill himself, too. Hell, I panicked for like months. Oz was doing all sorts of weird shit, like breaking mirrors and forgetting who everyone was. All 'cause he had a big evil thing inside his head. That's what Giles said anyway. That Oz was being used to incubate or something.

Sounded like some freaky ass B-grade flick. Definitely not your quality entertainment there. But the thing, the not-Oz-but-the-weird-shit-demon thing, was a bad. I don't remember a lot from then, 'cept being scared and all, but I remember the sex.

Bad sex. Well, good sex, with bad results.

And Oz died. Really died. Stopped breathing, no pulse, the whole thing. Then he was a wolf -- which is fucked up all on it's own -- and he wouldn't wake up. Not for days. And I kept thinking that the guy I was sleeping with was a wolf. A dead wolf.

I cried. I think. Maybe I just yelled at Willow. Maybe both.

He was dead. Gone. Never to come back.

He was dead, and I was alone.

Alone. For the first time in my life. Alone in my head with no one to stop the nightmares, or the thinking, or the feeling. I hit him, then. On the chest, as hard as I could. I hit him a bunch of times, and I breathed for him. I yelled, and I hit, and he didn't wake up for the longest time, and I was cold.

But then he did wake up, and everything was all right again. And that's where we are now.

Everything's okay. Better than okay. Regular sex, lots of food, good music, and no being alone.

Yeah. Everything's great.


Oz balanced himself carefully, one foot on the back of the couch and the other on the arm, as he got ready to jump. If he wasn't careful, the couch would tip over. If he was was careful, then he would look properly dramatic.

Drama was always important when fighting Good. Besides, Oz had the red lightsaber and what fun was being the villain if you couldn't do overly dramatic stuff like leaping from the top of a couch and brandishing a glowing piece of plastic at your best friend?

Devon was, in theory anyway, sneaking up behind him. Oz pretended not to notice.

He kept pretending not to notice right up until Devon tackled him onto the couch.


"Do I get to do a death scene?"



Devon raised an eyebrow. "No one uses the word spoilsport anymore, dude."

"I do," Oz said cheerfully. "And I use words like viridian and puce and semidemiquaver."

"What the hell is a semidemiquaver?"

"Thirty-second notes. The really fast ones."

Devon nodded. "Right. The things." He sat up. "Kyle and Mike'll be here soon."

"We don't have time."

"I'll be really quick, I swear."

Oz smiled slowly. It was the type of smile that very few people felt comfortable seeing. It was the type of smile that implied things better done in the dark, with few clothes, and a lot of flexibility. "You're never quick."

Devon grinned. "I can so be really quick."

"Dude, you so can't."




"Well, okay, fine. Maybe you can, but I can't. At least not well."

"Score one for the Dev-man."

Oz coughed. "You didn't just say that."

"You're right. I didn't."

"Oh, good. I was getting worried."

"Wanna neck?"



Sometimes Oz is just weird.

Sometimes he's the most normal person I've met.

And sometimes he's so completely alien that he might as well be a girl.

He likes Otter Pops. Monkeys. Rain. Stuffed animals. Rachmaninoff. Watching Jeopardy, where he usually kicks ass. Swimming pools. Star Wars. B-grade horror flicks, including the crap Texas Chainsaw Massacre thing with the lipstick and that hot chick from Jerry fucking Maguire which my stupid shit sister made me watch 'cause her husband was out of town. He really likes old-school movies in general. The black-and-whiter, the better.

He likes a lot of things. Like I said. He likes me, which is just good taste on his part.

He liked her (she whose name does not get mentioned anywhere where I am, 'cause I basically think she's a moron and a half and 'cause Kyle and Mike don't like her either 'cause well...she's a moron and a half), which just goes to show that even Oz can make mistakes.

So yeah, Oz is weird, and normal, and alien all at once.

But...well, he's hot. Which is enough for me.

Really. Who needs thought, or talking, or anything but wanting me in any way, shape, or form they can get me?

No one, that's who. No one at all.

Except me.


Oz lay silently on the floor of the living room.

It was dark. Oz liked the dark. It was...soothing, in a way. You could hide forever in the dark. No one to see, no one to notice...just music, and warmth, and the moon shining brightly somewhere. It didn't really matter where. It was up there, and it was always up there, and it was the single constant in his newly complicated life.

Devon was behind him, in the doorway, watching. He didn't say anything, though. It was good to have friends that knew him so well.

He had music on -- Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" -- and he was enjoying it. It was harsh, and kind of scary, and moody as all hell.

It was music to think to. To paint by, except that he could only paint stick figures and sort-of cubistic portraits that owed more to his complete lack of talent at painting than any sort of actual intent.

But what the hell? It was kinda fun to paint, even if he normally ended up just smearing paint all over Devon who inevitably made some remark like, "Dude, it's looks like a monkey on an acid trip." To which Oz would generally shrug and say, "Okay."

Cleaning up paint was fun too.

Oz closed his eyes and sighed quietly, stretching to turn the stereo off with his foot. The sudden silence was deafening.

Devon had gone while Oz had been thinking. It wasn't a new thing; Devon always left to go do whatever it was that Devons did. And Ozs always took at least one night a month to just veg out and think. It was what they did, what they had always done.

Sometimes it was good to be terribly predictable.

He stood up and walked to his bedroom, easily avoiding the furniture, the books lying on the floor, the cables that covered most of the available floor space of the hallway, avoiding things that should have been too difficult to see in the dark. But not for Oz. Not anymore.

Devon was asleep in the center of their bed, arms wrapped around Oz's pillow and the blanket tangled around his legs.

He was beautiful. Open and vulnerable asleep, like he never was awake. Awake, Devon threw up walls of indifference and arrogance and a sort of uncaring ignorance that made Oz want to smack him.

But he didn't.

Oz sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hand along the curve of Devon's spine. Devon murmured something and curled into the touch, opening his eyes and smiling sleepily. "Oz."


Devon rolled onto his back, still smiling. "Done meditating?"

"Something like, yeah." Oz sighed quietly. "Dev..."


"Nothing...don't...I need to talk."

He nodded slowly. "You. Not we."



"Thanks," said Oz. He swung his legs up onto the bed and leaned back against the headboard. "I um...I don't talk. Y'know. Most times. And I think I should. You deserve that, at least."

"Oz, man, you don't--" Devon sat up, pushing his hair back.

"I do, Dev." Oz closed his eyes. Took a breath. Then said, again, quietly, "I do have to."

Devon nodded and arranged himself on the bed: pillow folded in half, tucked under his head, one arm under the pillow, the other across his stomach, body sprawled across the bed comfortably. "Okay. If you have to."

Oz rubbed his eyes. " to start?"


"Her," Oz repeated softly. "I love her."

Devon closed his eyes.

"She was everything, Dev. Everything I ever wanted. I knew her. Knew everything. Wanted anything she could give me."

"That's not healthy, dude."

"No, it's really not." Oz looked down. "I gave her everything I was. Everything I knew how to be."

Devon didn't move. There was more. There was always more.

"It wasn't enough. She chose him over me, again and again. I wasn't good enough for her. But I still love her. I don't know how to stop. She...I love her. And it hurts, and I can't make it stop."

"Maybe this isn't a good idea," said Devon.

"Maybe it's not."

"Are you gonna stop?"

"Want me to?"

"I don't know."

Oz nodded. "I wasn't human enough for her. I'm not human at all. Not anymore."

Devon looked at him sharply. "You don't believe that."

"It's true."

"It's not."


Devon sat up quickly, turning and cupping Oz's face between his hands. "It's not true, baby. It's not." He kissed Oz gently. "Not true."

Oz swallowed past the tightness in his throat. "Devon, three nights a month I turn into a monster. It's a fact. True."

"Not," whispered Devon. "Not true. At all. You aren't a monster."

Oz reached up, fingers curling around Devon's wrists. They sat like that, silently, for a long few moments. "I love you, Dev. No matter what happens, believe that. Please."

Devon nodded. "Oz, man...I want you to stop now. For tonight."

"All right."

They curled up on the bed, just lying quietly and talking about nothing at all. Eventually the conversation trickled away to nothing, and they lay there silently.

They fell asleep like that, curled around one another in a hopeless tangle of limbs and blankets.


Oz loves music. He always has. It's his thing. And now it's mine, because of him. Music makes us, him especially, happy. There's something about making it and playing it that's a release. Even listening to it, nothing but hearing the sounds, makes him peaceful. And dude, watching him listen to anything is fucking weird. With most people, they listen, and it kinda drifts in and out of their heads. Not with Oz. You tell him stuff, show him stuff, play music, anything and it goes into his head and doesn't come back out again.

Fucking grade-A weird. He absorbs everything around him, and files it away, and never lets on what the hell is going on behind those eyes of his. I bust my ass to learn something, and he just sits there and knows it.

It's the same thing when I watch him play guitar. He's not like great at it or anything most of the time, but he has these moments when he and Kyle and Mike are goofing around, tuning their instruments and stuff, and there's something on his face, like total focus, and he's not all there. He's someplace else, and then he plays like he's possessed, or like he's plugging into some weird fucking vibe in the universe and all this music just comes pouring out his fingers. Kyle said it freaked him out sometimes, Mike just said that Oz was a fucking weirdo. I smacked them both.

But it's true. It is freaky. He goes away, to someplace where the rest of us aren't invited, and it never used to bother me before.

It does now. Now, 'cause I'm so used to having him, all of him, to myself. I don't like the fact that there's someplace in him that I am never gonna see, or touch. I really don't like the fact that he doesn't even realize it.

And, in what has to be the biggest fucking joke in the universe, I can understand why Willow threw him over for the other guy. I don't want to understand her, or to sympathize with her, or anything 'cause I'm not her, I never will be her, and because Oz is more important than her self-deluding bullshit. She thinks she's just the shit 'cause she's all fucking smart and does this saving the world stuff pretty regularly. She thinks she's the shit 'cause she's a witch, or something, and 'cause she's just so much better than the rest of us normal, selfish people who at least have the common decency to realize how fucked up we are. Oz won't call her on it; none of her little freak-ass friends will.

But I will. Oh yeah. Just give me a chance, and I'll tell her exactly what I think of her, and her precious ambition, and her "look at me, look at what I've made of my life" load of complete crap. 'Cause it all comes down to one very simple truth: she can fight evil all she wants, and she can be as good a person as she thinks she is, and it won't matter. You can fight badness, but you can't beat it. What would be the point? Good can't exist without bad. Love can't exist without hate, or indifference. Blah blah.

I may be a selfish, junkie piece of shit, but I wouldn't hurt the people who depend on me. She's a smart, evil-fighting person, and she doesn't even realize what she's done.

I've got my balance back, after losing Oz to her and getting him back. He's lost it, and I don't think he has clue one where to find it again. So I should help. I will. I swear. Soon. 'Cause see, as fucked up as it sounds, it's almost nice having Oz be dependent on me, letting me be the strong one. He's always been there for me, and I sorta see this as my chance to give a little of that back.

I'll help him, 'cause it's my turn, and 'cause I owe it to him.

I miss him.

It's all about balance.


"Dude, Kevin is going to fucking rip your dick off if he catches you sitting on his precious pool table."

Oz snorted and glanced up at Mike. "Dude, language."

Mike made an obscene gesture.

"Dude, body language."


"Mr. Ass to you." Oz crawled along the length of the pool table, red fuzz sticking to the black denim of his jeans, and plugged his guitar in. "'Sides, if Kevin kicks up a fuss, I'll get off. No big."

"Kicks up a fuss," Mike repeated, shaking his head. "You are so fucking weird."

Oz blinked. "What?"

"Who the hell says 'kicks up a fuss'?"

Kyle hit Mike on the arm. "Leave him the fuck alone, Mike. You've been in a foul mood ever since Daria kicked your ass out the door."

"Guys, language," said Oz again, tilting his head toward the manager's office, where his cousin Jordy was sleeping.

They both flushed red and fell silent. Finally, Kyle looked over at Devon and asked, "Dev man, why aren't we practicing on the stage?"

"There was a fight up there last night, and it's totally fucked," said Devon.

The rhythm section of Dingoes Ate My Baby took a moment to properly appreciate the seriousness of the statement. The stage, their stage, had been desecrated.

"Ow, fuck!" Devon rubbed his arm, glaring at Oz, who just hit him in the arm again. "Dude, what the fuck?"

Oz crossed his arms and stared at Devon.

Devon blushed. "Oh right. Sorry."

Oz smiled, almost, at him before settling himself back onto the pool table, his guitar resting across his lap. "So, what are we doing today?"

"I thought maybe writing a little, so we don't wake up your cousin." Devon pulled one of the bar stools over to the pool table and sat, hooking his feet around the rungs of the stool. "Or like discussing what we're gonna do tomorrow night, or whenever."

Kyle and Mike exchanged glances. "So...we have like...direction now?" asked Mike, carefully.

"Yeah. Direction." Devon nodded. He looked at Oz for a long moment. When he spoke, his voice was gentle. "We can't stay in Sunnydale forever."

Oz's fingers tightened on the neck of the guitar. "We can't."


Kyle and Mike exchanged glances again. "Guys, if this is like...personal, we can leave."

Devon stared at them, doing his best Impassive Oz impersonation. "Personal?"

"Yeah," said Kyle. "Personal. As in shit you two need to work out."

"Why would you think there was stuff we had to work out?" asked Oz.

"Uh, 'cause y'all are like a thing?" Kyle twirled a drumstick between his fingers. "It's obvious to anyone who has eyes."

Oz stared at Kyle. "Really. Anyone with eyes."

Mike rolled his eyes, shifting his bass to rest against his hip. "Dude, no, Kyle's on crack. But we know you guys, and there's something. And it's personal shit. So if this is about personal shit, deal with it on personal time, got me?"

Oz almost-smiled again, but dropped his eyes, running his fingers along the length of the guitar strings. "Got you, Mike."

Devon nodded. "Still, the point is we can't stay here. Sunnydale has crap left for us."

"LA?" asked Kyle.

Mike nodded slowly, "Sounds right."

Devon tilted his head to the side, looking at Oz. "Yeah. To me too."

Oz's attention remained fixed to his guitar, and he started to pick out a melody. Everyone watched him quietly. It wasn't like they needed Oz. Guitar players were pretty easy to find, after all, and it wasn't like Dingoes Ate My Baby had really hard music or anything to play, 'cause they didn't. But it was the principle of thing that was making them all look to him. He was their stability. He was the only one of them that could even remotely be considered clean. Their only not-quite-flake.

He never looked up, just played, quietly at first, building up to something sharp-edged and somehow sad. Mike shifted his bass again, eyes never leaving Oz, and began to play a counter-rhythm, almost too low to be heard, but everyone could feel it.

Devon wrapped his arms around himself and shivered, wondering if he really did hear a wolf's howl in the wail of Oz's sadly abused guitar. He glanced over at the mini-recorder they always had going during practice sessions, reassured by the steady whir that was recording the impromptu song-writing session.

Kyle picked up the rhythm from the bass, taking it over and letting Mike move on to other things.

Through it all, Devon watched, feeling almost useless.

Oz's song ended softly, quieter even than it had started, and when he looked up at Devon there was something fiercely determined in the set of his mouth. "LA it is, then."

Devon swallowed past the tightness in his throat and nodded.


She tried to talk to him when she found out. Came knocking on our door and demanded to be let in, like I was nothing more than a butler, or a doorman, or someone equally insignificant. And to her, I was.

Willow blames me, mostly, for Oz's complete lack of anything remotely resembling ambition. She thinks I'm nothing but a pothead, someone who doesn't think of anything more substantial than where my next hit of anything was gonna come from, or who the next girl I was gonna fuck was. And mostly, she's right. I am a shallow bastard. Mostly.

Just not when it comes to Oz. With Oz, I have layers. Lots of them. Skin under skin under skin, like that stable that was bigger inside than outside. Oz made me read the book, fucked if I remember what it was called, though.

She knocked on our door and said, "I need to talk to Oz," and tried to shoulder her way in.

I didn't move and she ran right into my arm. "No," I said, and shut the door. She lost all rights to him a long time ago. She didn't get to see Oz; none of them would, if I had my way. They were the ones I was afraid of. They could maybe change his mind, and I couldn't let that happen. He needs to get away from them. I need him to be away from them.

Willow pounded on the door and I seriously considered not opening it, but I couldn't resist the urge to give her back a little of hers.

I opened the door and leaned against the frame, crossing my arms and looking at her.

"Devon, this isn't funny, I need to talk to Oz."

"The fuck you say."

"He can't go to Los Angeles," she said gently, like I was stupid or something. I bet you she doesn't talk to her little bitch of a boyfriend that way, even though I graduated with a higher grade point than he did. Okay, I'm petty too, but there it is.

I smiled at her. "He's going, and there's not shit you can say about it."

"He's not human, Devon."

I rolled my eyes. "The fuck you say."

She put a hand on my chest and shoved, hard. I took a step back, and that easily, she got inside. "He's dangerous."

"No. He's not." I believe that, I truly do.

Willow made a frustrated sound. "Devon, he's not human."

"I'm not fucking stupid, so you can stop talking to me like I have less than one brain cell, okay?" I shoved her hand away and took a step forward, seriously invading her space and pushing her back up against the door. "Listen, okay? 'Cause I'm only gonna say this once. Whatever the fuck you believe about Oz, whatever you've made him believe about himself, is complete bullshit. Sure, he's got a little issue with being furry three fucking nights of the fucking month, but he's still Oz. Just 'cause you're too wrapped up in your delusional, perfect little world to see things with a little damned compassion doesn't change that."

She backed up, "He'll kill people. We keep him locked up for a reason."

"Eat me." I brushed that excuse away. "Did you guys ever maybe think of finding other werewolves? Maybe, I dunno, seeing if you could give him a little control? Or maybe, little Miss Sabrina, finding some way of getting him out of it?" I laughed. "Oh wait, what was I thinking? That would mean you'd have to pull your head out of your ass long enough to see the real world."

Willow gaped at me, eyes wide and lips trembling. "You don't know what it was like," she finally said, "one little scratch, a bite, and I wouldn't have been human either. He's dangerous."

"What, during sex? Do you think he's completely brain dead or something?" I couldn't believe it. I just could not fucking believe that she had the nerve to stand in front of me and imply that Oz would hurt her. "Fuck, you're stupid."

"I am not!"

"God damn, you are. Don't you get it?" I could hear myself getting louder, shouting at her like that was going to make any difference. "He'd cut his own heart out if it meant keeping you safe."

She just looked at me and shook her head. "Devon, you don't understand."

"You're right," I said, "I don't. I don't understand how you think it's perfectly all right to come here and act all outraged when you know exactly jack about me, or Oz, or any of us. Just 'cause you can't handle things, doesn't mean that I can't."

Willow looked at me, and I could see the moment when everything clicked. "You...and Oz?" she asked weakly. I nodded. "But you're not his type."

I grabbed her arm and shoved her out the door. "How the hell would you know? It's not like you ever tried to get to know any of us."

"Oz needs to be locked up."

"You need to leave."

"Devon, this isn't a game."

"No, it's not." I looked at her and only felt sorry for Oz that he had dated her. "You don't have any right to come here, Willow. Not anymore." I shut the door on her shocked expression and leaned my forehead against the wood.

That was the first, and only, time I've interfered in Oz's relationship with her. He doesn't deserve what he's putting himself through because of her and I so don't need to see my best friend lose his confidence, and his balance, and everything that I love about him.

She's wrong about him. She has to be.

But somewhere, in the back of my mind, a little voice asks if maybe she isn't right.


Sometimes I want to slap Oz. I mean, really. 'Cause he does incredibly stupid things, and then beats himself up about it when they all fall to shit. Like with Willow.

It bothers me, a lot, that he can't get over her. And not 'cause he's a moody, almost whiny fucker 'cause of it. But he's sad all the time, and I don't like that. I'm on board with the love thing, that's not the issue. He loved her, still loves her, and probably always will love her. It's not in him to stop doing something just 'cause it'd be convenient for the rest of the world.

So, he loves her and I try to ignore that. That's normal; I've been doing it for a few years already. But the depression is something new. Something scary. He says he doesn't know who he is anymore, and I think that if he doesn't know who he is, then there's no way he can get it all back. I miss Oz-from-before.

I want to slap her, too, for ditching him like he was nothing. Less than nothing.

I've never done that.

I've had sex with lots of people, and left in the morning without a word. But then, they knew that. Just sex. She let him believe that she loved him. She let him believe that they could happily-ever-after. Then she left, like he wasn't even worth the time to break up with. A little arguing, a few tears, and I bet Oz wouldn't be this hung up.

He moves in bed next to me, throwing an arm around my stomach and tangling himself up in the sheets. I touch his back and he moves again, turning over and flinging his hands out and smacking me in the chest. There's a scar on his arm, near his shoulder where he took a bullet for her.

There are scars on his hands. On his stomach, when he got his appendix out when we were like seven or eight. And there's one on his chest, over his heart. I don't know how he got that one. But it's smooth and hard and white, and it's not fading like the others. They all get smaller, and smaller every month, but this one stays, and I don't know why.

Oz'd laugh, and tell me I was being silly. Or, he would have, before. Now, he'd probably just shrug it off and blame himself for me being worried.

I should talk to Queen C. Or Giles. Or Gemma MacLeish. She'd probably tell me to feed him and give him some good Scotch. Crazy old lady. She reminds me of Oz, or Oz reminds me of her. I pull him closer and he mumbles -- "Don't let the trout into the palace" -- and blinks at me for a moment.

Then he closes his eyes and goes back to sleep.


They came. Buffy and Xander looking disapproving, Giles neutral, and Willow looking worried. Spike had come for no other reason than boredom, and he wandered around the apartment, poking through boxes and raiding the kitchen for the tequila that Devon swore wasn't there.

Oz stood in the middle of the doorway, fighting the irrational urge to run and slam the door shut behind him. It wouldn't be so bad, he thought, to run far away.

Willow glared at Devon, who calmly, casually made an obscene gesture in her direction. She frowned and turned to Oz, walking over to him. "You can't go."

Oz frowned, looked at Devon for a moment. "Why?"

"Because..." Willow trailed off, frowning. "You know why, Oz."

"No, I don't," he said.

" could hurt people." Buffy touched his shoulder. "You wouldn't be able to--"

Oz moved away, slowly and very deliberately. "I wouldn't be able to help myself?"

"No," said Xander. "You wouldn't."

They stared at each other. Oz moved closer to Xander, until they were almost touching. Xander didn't flinch.

"If I ever hurt her, Xander, you'd kill me."

Xander nodded. "Yes."

Oz looked up at him, considering. He reached down for Xander's hand, grasping his wrist quickly and pulling it up. He placed Xander's hand over his heart. "Quick and clean, Xand."

Everyone watched, frozen in place.

Oz lifted Xander's hand to his head, pressing the fingers firmly against his temple. "Head or heart. Silver bullet." He let go of Xander and stepped back, walked over to one of the packed boxes and rummaged around in it. He finally came up with a small box and moved back to Xander. "Take it."

"What is it?"

"Day twenty-nine," Oz said softly. He looked up at Xander again. "If I had ever hurt her...I'd've done it myself."

Willow made a sound and everyone turned. "Oz?"


She moved closer to him, touched his cheek. He turned into the touch, rubbing his cheek against her fingers. "I...worry."

"You shouldn't." Oz took a step back and she followed. He caught her hand, stared at her for a moment, then touched her mouth. "Will, I--"

"It's not safe," she said softly.

Oz moved away, crossing his arms and looking down at the ground. "No, it's not. But I'm going."

"You used to care what I thought."

Devon coughed. It sounded suspiciously like a word. Oz glanced over at him. "You used to be pretty fair."

"That's not--" Willow started to protest. "I am being fair. Oz, every time you get free, you attack people."

His mouth tightened. "I have gotten free exactly twice, Willow. The first time, I was being beaten silly. The second...."

"You attacked Buffy," Xander pointed out. "Not exactly gold-star behavior."

Giles cleared his throat. "She had a gun," he said. "Oz has never attacked anyone without provocation. Nor will he, I think."

Buffy frowned at him. "Giles, I thought--"

"No, you didn't." Giles' voice was harsh as he looked at his charges. "None of you did."

In the back of the room, Spike grinned.

"That's not fair, Giles," said Willow. "We're just worried."

"Oz is an adult, capable of making his own bloody choices. Why shouldn't he go to Los Angeles, provided that he is prepared for the full moon?"


"No." Giles pulled off his glasses and began to clean them. He looked over at Oz and inclined his head. "You have my support on this."

"Thanks," Oz said.

Xander looked at Giles. "You know something."

"I do."

"Giles, don't go all cryptic guy on us. What's the know?"

Giles shrugged. "It is not my place to say." He put his glasses back on, tucking his handkerchief back into his pocket. He looked at Buffy. "He wants a normal life."

"Oh," Buffy said.

Oz shrugged. "I talked to Angel, and Doyle. We went and built a cage down there, about a month ago." He laughed at the look on Willow's face. "I may be a monster, I may be an unambitious flake, but I'm not stupid."

Willow blinked. "I never thought you were a flake." She paused a moment. "Or stupid."

"You don't deny the monster part," Oz said quietly. "Whatever."

Devon cleared his throat. "I think you all should leave now."


He smiled pleasantly. "Leave."

They filed out the door.

Oz watched them go. "Willow."

She turned.

"I don't hate you. I think sometimes it would be better for all of us, if I did." He shrugged. "But I don't. I thought you should know that."

Willow nodded, and shut the door behind her.


Living away from Sunnydale was a weird experience. I've lived there my whole life. Oz used to live else, like in Indio or something. He still has family there. And my sister Maggie moved further downstate when she got married. So, it's not like we've never been to LA and stuff. But living here is...weird.

It's noisy. And busy. And filled with beautiful people.

Queen C is here, making lovey faces at Oz's friend. He's cute, the friend is. A lot of guys here are, and dude, they so don't care when Oz and I goof around.

They don't care, and some of them are cute...cuter'n Oz is. And God help me, but I fucked up. I fucked up about as big, and as bad as I could.

He doesn't know. Or, he does, and he's just not saying anything. I hope he doesn't know.

It was late, and I was just fucking smashed and wandering around the clubs and bars. Oz was locked up, 'cause it was the full moon, and I can't watch him be furry. It freaks me out. A lot. Anyway, it's late and I was in a bar and there were no really hot girls around so I just ordered another drink and everything was getting really nice and fuzzy.

And then wham, I see him. Yeah, a him. And he was fucking hot. Blonde, and thin, and blue eyed, and just really pretty.

I hit on him, I think. Or he hit on me. But he was there, and gorgeous, and I ended up plastered against him and we made out and groped and maybe slept together, I'm not sure. Everything is really fuzzy, and I don't know. I can't be blamed for something I don't remember doing, can I?

Queen C's friend, the one with the accent, found us. He wasn't happy. I think maybe he has a thing for Oz, or Cordelia. Or maybe the Angel guy. I don't know. I don't really care. He just kinda threw me in the car and didn't say anything.

I think Doyle, the accent guy, told Oz what he saw. But Oz doesn't say anything, or treat me any different than he did before, so I dunno. I kinda want him to. Treat me differently, I mean, if he knows. He broke up with skank girl when he found them kissing. So he should do something equally as bad if he found out I slept with another guy. I think. It'd mean that I matter to him if he did.

But he doesn't say anything and I won't, because I'm afraid that if I do, he'll leave.

So I don't say anything, and I bury myself in everything that he is. I touch, and stroke, and lick, and kiss, and everything and he still doesn't say anything. He just takes it; he smiles and kisses me back. He treats me better than he ever did before, and he smiles, and he seems happy. I can't take that away from him.

Oh, God, I fucked up.


Doyle sat cross-legged on the floor, staring at the naked body in front of him. That, in itself, wasn't all that unusual. Everyone, even half-demons with a Purpose, has needs. But the body in front of him was just that. A body.

There was nothing currently in that body that could be remotely considered human. Humanity had fled with the rising moon. There was a werewolf, which Doyle was kind of fond of. Werewolves were incredibly simple creatures, with few of the quibbles that made humans such a trial. He was perfectly fine with the werewolf. He had expected it. It wasn't the problem.

The problem lay in the other thing. The not human thing. Doyle didn't want to call it a demon, because it wasn't, not really. And it wasn't a vampire, or anything that he had ever come across before.

Doyle leaned forward, touching the scar over Oz's heart lightly. There was something about it...

Sunlight streamed through the open windows, carrying the promise of hundred-degree temperatures. The body generally known as Oz, twitched and mumbled something, drawing his hand back away from the creeping light.

That was interesting. Doyle watched carefully as Oz curled in on himself, shrinking back from the sun which continued moving forward, touching the pale skin lightly. Oz whimpered and there was a skin-prickling rush of energy.

Oz opened his eyes sleepily. "Hey, Doyle."


"So, either you're remarkably hot for my body, or..." Oz sat up slowly. "Something else entirely."


"Ah." Oz shrugged. "That's good."

Doyle grinned. "You're taken?"

"Something like. I think." Oz stretched and reached for his clothes. "So why the naked staring? Or am I not allowed to know?"

"I've never seen a werewolf shift before."

Oz nodded. "That's reasonable."

"Do you mind?" Doyle asked quietly.

"Strangely, no. Not anymore." Oz smiled briefly. "It's weird."

"You're more comfortable with being a werewolf?"

"I don't...know. It feels lighter here. Bright. Not as...overpowering." Oz shrugged. "Maybe 'cause there's no Hellmouth here. Doesn't matter. It just is."

"That's very zen of you." Doyle smiled. "I must say, I'm surprised. You seem happier than I was told you were."

Oz smiled faintly. "I try."