Oz stepped into the warehouse cautiously, wondering somewhere at the back of his mind if something freaky were about to happen. He'd heard far too many stories about Ethan Rayne, and tonight had been downright odd.

He didn't want to be there. But since Giles was still psycho-teen and everyone else had the SAT the next day...Oz had been elected to come let Ethan loose and make the standard not-so-veiled threats. He was suddenly regretting being the highest scoring person ever to fail to graduate. Low, needing-to-be-improved test scores were much more desirable at this point. Anything was more desirable at this point.

Ethan was sprawled on the floor, one wrist dangling from the handcuffs attached to a pipe running along the wall. Seeing Oz, he barely moved, merely nodded in acknowledgement. "And who might you be?" he asked, his tone making it quite apparent he didn't really care.

Oz stopped a good distance away. "Guess you could say I drew the short straw. Came to let you loose."

"Did you now? So I'm not to be tortured and punished? No bloody disembowelment?" Ethan smirked. "That girl - she should probably learn that I'm just as much trouble as any demon."

"You could always do her a favor and get yourself vamped so she can kill you. In the meantime, don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

"Hmm...if only you were a gift." Ethan's voice dropped to a near-purr. "If you're here to let me go, boy, why don't you come closer?"

Oz frowned. "I don't trust you."

Ethan rolled his eyes. "Right, then. We sit here until it becomes even more apparent to you how resourceful I'm not just now, and eventually you get up the nerve to tiptoe right over here and unlock me. In the meantime, have you heard any good jokes lately?"

"Sure." Raising an eyebrow, Oz leaned against the metal conveyor belt. "Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"

"Were wolf."

"Were wolf who?" Ethan blew out a long, angry breath.

"There wolf." Oz hopped up to sit on the belt and rested an elbow on a large box of chocolate bars. "You asked. I answered. Hey, so why chocolate? I don't get it."

"What's not to get?"

"I don't know. I would have know, they're adults. Something easier to distribute. Like bread. They all eat bread anyway."

"It would look pretty odd if all the adults in Sunnydale suddenly began craving their Roman Meal, now wouldn't it? If you have a load of chocolate your kid just peddled on you, it looks okay to indulge because you've got to get rid of it. The whole point of this was to raise no eyebrows."

Oz raised an eyebrow. "Huh. Okay, then. Nice plan."

"What?" Ethan snapped, exasperated.

"Hey, ingenuity is ingenuity, no matter how twisted. Gotta admire that. You're a clever person."

Ethan's mouth twisted in a conniving smile. "Really? So what did you think of my Halloween stunt? Where you around for that?"

"That was interesting. Made me glad I'm not really into the whole Halloween thing."

"Fabulous. Are you going to unlock me any time soon?"

Oz nodded, wondering why he felt more intrigued with Ethan by the minute. "Sure. But not yet."

"Why not?" Ethan yanked at the handcuffs and winced. "My arm feels like it's about to fall off."

"That would be interesting." Oz got up and paced back and forth. Pacing always made him feel better. "So. You're into feeding babies to demons? What's with that?"

"Nothing is with that," Ethan growled. Something about Oz's movements was bothering him, so he focused his concentration on it. "I'm into making money and wreaking havoc. When the two coincide, Ethan is a very happy boy. Listen, you're not all there, are you?"

Oz stopped. "What?" he asked, confused.

"You...there's something about you. You're not quite human."

"Sure I am," Oz insisted, taking a step back.

"No. No, you're not. Not entirely. What is it, boy? Got some shady area of your family tree? Are you a mutt?"

Oz blinked. "Funny you should put it like that. Werewolf."

"Ah. Guess the joke makes more sense now." Ethan nodded, planning his words carefully. "You don't meet many of those nowadays."

"I don't suppose you do. We're pretty hunted."

"Well, yes, that's part of it." Ethan shrugged. "Perhaps it hasn't spread to California yet."

"What hasn't spread?"



"Unlock me." Ethan stared at Oz in challenge. "Or you never know."

Oz hesitated, regarding Ethan carefully before digging in his pocket for the key Joyce had provided. He edged up to the older man and leaned in to release the cuff around Ethan's wrist, darting back as soon as it was done. Ethan stood and shook his arm out, massaging his numb hand with the other. "Thank you."

"Tell me," Oz demanded. "What do you know about werewolves?"

"Not a lot. Something's been wiping them out. A virus that attacks the mutation in their DNA. Quite painful, from what I hear. Long, slow death." Ethan smirked at Oz's look of nausea. "Sorry about this, boy. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll take my leave."

Oz watched him go to the door, his mind racing. "Wait!" he finally called. "Do you - do you know anything else?"

Turning slowly, Ethan walked back. "Tell me your name."


"Because you know my name and I don't know yours. What's your name?"


"You really are just odd inside and out, aren't you, Oz?" Ethan stared down at the shorter boy. "Now tell me, why should I tell you anything else? We already made our trade. I'm free to go."

"I want to know. I need to know."

"And what do I get in return?"

Oz frowned uncertainly. "What do you want?"

Ethan winked. "I am so glad you asked." Leaning down, he grabbed Oz's face in both hands and pressed a long, hard kiss against Oz's mouth. Shocked, Oz gasped, and Ethan's tongue darted between his lips for one brief brush before pulling back. Releasing Oz, he stepped away. "I want you to do me a favor. When Ripper recovers from the chocolate...tell him I send my love."

Oz watched Ethan retreat towards the door again, dazed. "But --" he finally managed to get out.

Ethan stopped in the doorframe and grinned. "I lied, Oz. Just watch out for those hunters and you'll be fine."

Ethan disappeared, and Oz stood in stunned silence for several minutes. Finally, he whispered, "Huh," and shuffled on home.