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 cropped locks.

"You like it?"

"Yeah," he said, then silently cursed himself for not being more enthusiastic.

"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 house.

"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 travels?"

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 well."

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. Sorry."

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: " 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 back now?"

"Yes, of course," he lied; Willow could never have all of him again.

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 receiver.

"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 shook it.

"Oz! Oz!"


"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 changed?"

"Yeah, 'guess so." Oz swayed slightly, and his eyelids drooped.

"Where? Where were you?" Giles said, sounding clearly worried.

"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 physical hurt."

"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 friend?"

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 consequences?"

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 comes back."

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 silence

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."