Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Oz's every last thought suddenly focused on the white-hot pain in his neck. He actually felt the blood being drawn from his body, like a new vein to nowhere had opened. . .

. . .and then he was being thrown across the room, hitting a far wall with a bone-jarring crash. He slumped to the floor, dazed and most definitely bleeding. He looked up, breathing hard, to see Angelus, face even more contorted than would be expected from an angry vampire spitting onto the floor.

"Fuck!" Angelus shouted at the blood that dripped to the floor from his mouth. "Now I know why we don't eat werewolves - man, that tastes of shit." He looked at Oz. "Well, I guess I'll just have to kill you."

He marched across to Oz, picking up the slim man with ease, despite Oz's struggles. "Goodnight."

The werewolf was suddenly hurled at the window, crashing through it in a shower of glass and wood, eyes screwed shut. All of the air was forced from him as he landed with a dull thud on the lawn beneath the hotel windows, rolling over a few times. Now the pain on his neck was merely the sharpest, dull aches and the clean pain of glass cuts littering his senses. He struggled to his feet, swaying as he tried to shake the clouds of pain and disorientation from his mind. He looked up to the window from where he'd fallen to see Angel standing in the empty frame, grinning out at the world.

In the background there was frantic knocking, most probably from the receptionist or the night porter wanting to know what the hell was going on. Oz wanted to shout for them to run, to get out of the way, but he knew that it would be a waste of breath.

Angelus hollered to Oz, "I'll be down in a minute, sweet-pea - I just have to deal with the Room Service," and disappeared from view. Oz, breathing still rapid, closed his eyes for a second so that reality, so that everything was blotted out, then opened them again, turned on his heel, and ran. Ran to the last place he really wanted to go, but the one place he had to go. Buffy's house.


Riley walked the streets of Sunnydale, thinking. He loved Buffy, more than any girl he'd ever known. He knew she could never love him in the same way, and yet. . . could he really leave her? There had to be something he could do to prove that he was and always would be better for her than the damn undead freak that she couldn't ever see past. And Jesus, the man was gay now, or something. If that didn't snap her out of it, nothing would.

The ex-soldier was so lost in his thoughts he didn't notice a naked Oz sprint across the road behind him into another street.

Riley carried on down the road, still thinking.


Xander sat at the bottom of the path that led up to Buffy's front door. His face was wet where tears had tumbled down it, his eyes red and puffy. He'd spent the last hour or so shouting at the house, begging Willow to speak to him, running away when Buffy came to the door, and then going back. He was exhausted now, physically, and emotionally, but he couldn't leave. Where would he go? Anya's? No, he had to stay, had to convince Willow to speak to him.

But how?

The soft slap of footfalls interrupted his thoughts. Xander listened. OK, a running person. A barefoot running person. He looked toward the source of the sound. A naked, running Oz. Tonight couldn't get any more fucked up.

Then Xander noticed the blood which streaked down Oz's body, and a look he'd never seen on Oz's face - fear. The smaller man ran up to him, lungs taking in great, big, burning gulps of air, sweat coursing down his body, streaking the dirt and blood on his legs and chest. He stopped, exhausted, stooping rather than standing straight.

"What the hell happened to you?"

Green eyes, wide and pained looked up at Xander. "Angel's gone bad."

Correction: tonight could get more fucked up. Way up.


Willow's sobs had scaled down to whimpers as she lay in Buffy's embrace, sniffing into an already sodden handkerchief. Buffy stroked her forehead, and Giles and Joyce quietly sat on other chairs, sipping tea and just being there.

The quiet was shattered by frantic banging on the door. Willow started to sob again, and Buffy looked at Giles with an angry glare. The Watcher nodded, and made for the door. He opened it. "Xander, if you don't stop.. oh, my God."

Joyce and Buffy turned to look towards the front door. By the time Oz was helped into the living room, they were on their feet, and Willow had stopped crying.


Angelus picked a bit of cartilage from his teeth. The receptionist had been an old hag, but he had been very, very hungry. He still was. Smoothing some lint from his shirt, he made for the door, kicking the woman's corpse out of the way.

He sauntered down the stairs towards the exit. The werewolf had probably escaped, but no matter; he was only going to snap its neck. But then, it would probably go tell Buffy. Heh. Didn't matter, he could kick her whiny little ass any day. Or night, as the case may be. First things first, though. Food. He was still hungry. He had a lot of catching up to do.

He stepped out into the night air, and smiled.


Joyce fastened the last safety pin on the bandages around Oz's torso. Already red stained some of them, blood seeping through the coarse material. Gingerly, the small man pulled on the sweater Giles had given him, several sizes too large, but it matched the cords. He had on a pair of Buffy's sneakers. Pink really wasn't him.

"We really need to get you to hospital," Joyce said, dabbing cotton wool to a cut on his cheek.

"I think that can wait," snarled Buffy, stuffing stakes into a bag. "I mean, how could you have been so stupid? Was my maxi-mistake not enough for you, that you had to repeat it?"

"He said he didn't love me," Oz said, quietly.

"Only Angel could say he didn't love someone to get them into bed."

Giles responded with a, "Shut up, Xander."

Buffy continued, "I mean, not only do you wreck the wedding, you have to go and lift a curse on a genocidal vampire. Really good going, Oz."

Giles spoke again, "Buffy, I hardly think that this is really Oz's fault."

"How is it not? Oz was the one who slept with Xander, Oz was the one who slept with Angel and Oz was the one who told Willow about it all."

"Technically that was Cordelia," Willow said, meekly.

Buffy started to respond but was interrupted by Giles again. "Really! This is not the time to apportion blame. Angelus is on the loose and we have to stop him. I'll drive Willow to my house, get the Orb I have there and we can try to restore Angel's soul. Buffy, you go and try to stall him. Xander, go with her."

"And me." Oz got slowly to his feet.

Buffy snapped, "I'm not taking you with me, Oz. I can't be protecting you too."

The werewolf's voice was hard. "I'm going to go."

Buffy sighed. "I'm not going to protect you, Oz."

"I wasn't expecting you to."

There was a moment of silence. Then Joyce spoke. "Rupert, we can go in the jeep. It'll be quicker."

Some nods, and then they moved off.


A low chuckle alerted Riley to the presence of another. He spun around to find he was facing Angel. Great. Just the person he least wanted to see tonight.

"What do you want," he demanded of the great lunk.

"Your horrible, painful death at my hands," came the unsettling reply.

"Yeah, Merry Christmas to you too."

Angel neared the blond soldier, smiling thinly. "Well, I was kinda hoping the colour red would be involved, but otherwise this is nothing like Christmas. Although a party hat might be fun."

"Look, whatever your game is, I don't wanna play. If you've come to gloat over Buffy you can just go, cos I'm not going to rise to it."

The vampire smiled even more broadly, "Oh, no, you can keep the little bitch. I don't want your sloppy seconds."

"What is your problem?"

Angelus adopted his game face. "It was my soul. But now it's gone. So I don't really have a problem. Now you, on the other hand. . ."


Joyce watched as, one by one, Wesley lit the little candles around the Orb, sitting on a table in Giles' living room. Giles stood at the table, putting herbs into a small pot in front of him, whilst Willow read a slightly battered piece of paper: the print out of the gypsy curse from eight years ago, and fiddled with some pebbles in her other hand. Joyce herself stood in the background, nervously jumping from foot to foot. The older woman was trying not to think about her daughter. Like she tried not to think of Buffy every time this sort of thing happened. She never could.


Pain seared across Riley's face as he was thrown across the street. They'd been fighting for some time now, and although Riley had been holding his won, he was weakening.

Staggering a little, he regained his balance and swooped down to try to take Angelus' feet from under him. The vampire staggered, too, throwing one arm out to clip Riley's shoulder, forcing the soldier to move away to avoid falling over.

The blond man came back to aim a fist at his opponent, but it was easily blocked, and Riley received three hard knocks to his face in return, causing him to howl in pain. Angelus' moved back a step then, as Riley moved a hand up to protect his face, planted a vicious kick squarely in the other man's chest. The soldier flew into a group of trash cans, the crash echoing in the night air, the contents spilling across the ground.

Stunned, Riley could struggle only weakly as he felt Angelus lift him out of the debris. . .


Buffy strode on through the streets of Sunnydale, stake in hand. A little way behind her, Xander, wielding a crossbow, and Oz, clutching his side, hurried to keep pace, Oz visibly faltering as he tried. No-one spoke; no-one had anything to say. For once, not even Xander. They'd been power-walking for the best part of twenty minutes and hadn't seen anything in that time, which was serving only to shorten the Slayer's temper. All they needed was one sign. . .

Then they heard the crash. Buffy broke into a run, heading toward the noise. Xander and Oz exchanged a glance and made to follow her. The next thing they heard was Buffy's enraged scream, and as they turned into the street she had just dived into, they saw Angelus, blood dripping off his chin, drop the limp body of Riley Finn.

He grinned, Riley's blood coating his teeth. "Hi, sweetie. Surprise!"

Buffy threw her stake. The vampire caught it, turning slightly with the force. She ran up and launched into a flying kick. Angelus caught her leg, throwing Buffy over his head. She tucked into a roll, and was back on her feet, spinning to face her adversary. The Slayer punched and parried, managing to get some brutal blows into the vampire's face and chest. He was forced back, the smile gone.

Xander raised his crossbow, pulling the trigger as soon as Angelus was in his sights. The arrow imbedded itself in the vampire's shoulder, eliciting a roar of pain. Throwing off an attack from Buffy with enough force to send her tumbling across the street, Angelus turned and threw himself at Xander, knocking the younger man to the ground, and smashing the crossbow. After a quick punch to Xander's face, the vampire got to his feet, using one arm to block Buffy's punches as she pounced back oh him again and the other to easily defend himself from the feeble attack by Oz, hurling the lycanthrope away like a toy. Then, Angelus returned his attentions to the Slayer.


The herbs and incense were lit, and Wesley moved around the room, wafting the container about to spread the scent. Giles nodded at Willow, who cast her stones to Giles' sonorous intonation. "Quod perditum est, invenietur."

Willow spoke next. "Not dead. . . nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum, I call."

Suddenly, Willow's eyes opened wide, as they had before. " Te implor, Doamne, nu ignora aceasta rugaminte. . ."

Wesley and Giles exchanged nods, and waited.


Oz and Xander watched from the sidelines as the battle raged. Buffy seemed to be gaining the upper hand, her fighting more intense than either man had ever seen. But then, Angelus had just killed Riley.

The vampire was forced back by another series of kicks from Buffy. The momentum was too great for his legs to support, and he fell backwards, arms flailing. A bruised Buffy was immediately astride him, a stake pulled from her coat pocket and aimed at his heart.

He snickered. "Well, at least my last meal was that stupid fuck of a boyfriend of yours."

"Bastard," Buffy whispered as rammed the stake home, and Angelus' eyes went wide.


Willow was still in mid flow, " Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transpor..." but as suddenly as she had begun, she stopped, slumping to the floor with a soft cry.

Joyce looked at Giles, who was stooping to help Willow. "Does this mean the spell is done?"

It was Wesley who replied. "No, it stopped too early. It means," his voice began to break a little, ". . .it means that soul no longer has a host."


The yellow eyes flashed blue for the briefest moment, then the vampire's body collapsed from within, brown dust flying in all directions, Buffy slumping to the ground.

Buffy dropped the stake, letting out a high pitched moan of anguish, staring at what remained of Angel. Xander, still on his knees, whispered, "Shit."

And Oz looked on at the scene. Angel, who not an hour before had been holding him, was gone. Ashes, dust, motes in the air, crushed into the ground by Buffy's sweatpants. That was just too much to handle, too much. He screwed shut his eyes, so he could be in that dark oblivion, that second of nothing.

The moment of oblivion lasted long; Oz had lost a lot of blood, too, and he fainted clean away. But the moment was still not long enough. It never would be.