He thinks it's possible that all of them are reaffirming things tonight.


Species lag never ceased being interesting. Or, at least, it hasn't yet. Oz likes the weirdness, in a way that would surprise no one who knew him. Certainly not Giles, who seems to have classified the world to his liking and layered shellac on it, save that he still... rolls with things.

Adapts much faster than Oz had calculated to the news -- a wolf in his blood.

The punishment has been.

It feels legendary.

Like being fourteen again, and knowing that the pain, whatever pain it was, was greater than anything, ever. Except that now he's twenty and the lack of perspective feels both shameful and right.

Old enough to know better, but.

Silver needles, threaded through the skin of his back in what feels like a very precise pattern, but Oz cannot trust his nerve endings. Not with this scream.

He's been screaming all day.

Fountain pen, filled with Holy Water, Darla reading aloud as Giles carved in the runes.

Jepheth. Trur. Ramyados.

He doesn't know what they mean, and he knows it is not his place to ask. His apology was accepted before they begun. Oz knows that when he apologizes again, at the end, he will mean it.

Oh, yes. Yes.

The ring in his nipple from the first night, weighted with simple lead. Silver there would've left uncontrollable patterns, and Oz must learn control. The root of it. The source. He's never known anything like he knows this, learning with each ideogram. Drusilla's laughing tears for him, Darla's simple laugh.

Later, Giles hauls him outside and sets him to run.

When Giles catches him, he is savaged, wolf-to-wolf. Face in the dirt and thick, hard cock driving him and driving him until Oz cries, and screams, and howls.

And apologizes.


Oz feeds on the nameless boy as brutally as he can, but in the end he's too tired to let out enough of the rage and shame to feel himself again. He has been fundamentally hurt.

The sacred tools of death used to torment him, drive him to his knees when Giles had only ever had to. Ask.

Which is the point, Oz knows.

He's never belonged to anyone else before, never given his allegiance. Giles is good, Giles is right, Giles runs through his veins and dribbles down the crack of his ass and Giles. Owns him. He's said the words before, or thought them hard enough, but it's only just now beginning to sink in.

He is not a separate creature.

His demons are smug, calm within the proper order of things.

Oz -- Oz that is, and used to be, almost, maybe himself -- has begun to crave chaos.

Which makes it hard to have a truly objective opinion on the question of upcoming Armageddon.

"What should we care? From what Glory said it sounds like this will be on a different plane of existence." Darla is vaguely glaring at her absent reflection in the mirror. Half her hair is straight as bone, the rest curled elegantly. Oz wants to sniff it. Of them, she always smells the most different, the least of blood.

None of them will let him close enough to bite, or have offered him their blood. Not even Giles, for whom the damage has been done.

(Dirty, scheming pup)

It burns. All of it.

He is fed, he is cared for, he is no longer the mascot. The punishment did not help that. You do not scheme against the Sire, and yet they all have, one way or another.

Oz doesn't know the way to forgiveness, and the urge is upon him to bare his neck, his belly, everything. He has never been very brave, he has never been very anything. Not really. Possessing cool by dressing as though he existed on the fringe of things, and playing a guitar. He wants to live in a world where that is possible.

Alters the bored silence: "Is it possible that what happens on the plane of... the Gods could affect our own reality?"

"Anything's possible with bloody Gods, pup. 's kind of the point." Spike is measuring him openly.

Giles is reading, chewing on the frame of his glasses, somehow managing not to warp the metal. Oz can feel the absence of his regard like a weight. "But Glory was limited. By the key. She's not all powerful here."

"Powerful enough. Though she did like you... maybe if we dropped you on 'er doorstep she'd be kind enough to let us all be."

Oz remains silent, watches furtively for Giles' reaction to that -- an irritated glare. Enough for now.

The silences falls again, save for Spike's strangely soothing breaths to smoke, and Drusilla's tatting. The lace is already stained with the blood from beneath her long nails. Darla is brushing out her curls, and Oz wonders what it's like to be a female vampire, or a vain vampire of any sex.

Wonders if it hurts at all. Wonders if he's changed, somehow.

Oz tries again: "How do we know that Gods touch the earth? That the symbols aren't just symbols, made of a magic we decide to call Christianity or Judaism or Islam? Magic that only effects certain species, at certain times."

"Every Watcher muses on that at one point in time."

"Yeh? So what's the answer, Rupert?"

"For school? Shut up and carve some crosses until you've learned respect. In life? Do whatever works. Repeatedly, if necessary."

Spike ground his cigarette into the floor. "You know, I bloody fucking well hate questions with no answers."

"Which explains your poetry..." Darla, smiling into the empty glass. "Angelus saved every word, you know."

"Bollocks. He would've used it against me whenever he could."

"They made him laugh too hard. He couldn't hold onto a sneer."

"And now I know you're lying. Angelus could sneer with no teeth in his head."

"Mice in the hole!"

"Exactly, Dru pet."

"My Spike knows how to listen to the stars."

Giles looks up, interested, and "really? Is he another seer? The line of Aurelius is really quite rife with vampires with extraordinary powers. Of course, most of them go mad and die horribly."

"Us, Rupert, us. Our blood in you, your blood in us... and Oz's." Darla pauses, turns to study him, and Oz blinks slowly and focuses. He knows Giles is watching.

"And what about you, halfling? Will you go mad and die? Or just betray us?"

"You haven't done either, Darla."

A raised eyebrow. "I haven't? So sweet for such a treacherous boy. Giles, you're much too lenient with him."

"More punishment will just make him rebel, I think."

Darla sighed, walked over with the brush in a way that made Oz want to flinch, though she only knelt beside him and began working the tangles out of his hair. "You'd better be useful, Oz. I would've killed you for what you did to Giles.

"I still might."


Later, somehow, he finds himself curled in Darla's lap as she pets him absently. Hums something that Drusilla dances to. Both she and Spike watch her avidly, the shift and flex of her muscles precisely that kind that goes with dance.

Drusilla is lovely.

But Giles is watching only Oz, and he is not surprised when Giles simply collects him, and leads him to their room.

Teases out whatever style Darla had given him into spikes, produces a box of hair dye.

"A gift. There are several others in the bathroom."

And it's just as flooring as Oz knows it was supposed to be and everything aches and his nipple is ache and he's been so scared and Giles holds him close, and whispers nonsense into his hair.


"I turned you, Oz. I want you. Forever."

"What happens if I run?"

"I find you. I hunt you down and claim you. You gave me that gift yourself, after all."

And Giles kisses his laughter and, this once, is gentle. Even like this. Even knowing himself. Controlled.

Spread over Giles' thighs and opened. Speared. Thinking of doing this to Devon. Thinking about how much he's learning, just by being here. Wisdom fresh and clean as a blade, and when Giles' wrist is at his lips, he waits until he is told.


In the end, it comes down to Dawn, who Oz, newly blond, remembers mostly in a week of sort of amused terror when she'd had a crush on Devon. Thankfully, the man had been too busy with groupie 38DD to notice, and Dawn had gone back to having a crush on nice, safe Xander.

Xander is still alive, and that feels. Wrong somehow. As if he should always be where Oz wants to be, undeserving and blameless.

"I'm bloody bored. Can't we just kill the niblet and have it done with? What say you, Oz? Nothing like veal, right?"

And he can taste it, suddenly, pure and so tender. Dawn isn't out of shape, but she's still soft... shakes himself out of it to find Dru attempting to rock a smirking Spike like a baby. Darla just snorts.

"I like them with more meat on their bones."

"You'd fuck a bloody mountain if it had decent pecs."

Darla only smiles, nudges the young boy she's brought in with the toe of her pumps. The boy shudders, closes his eyes.

Oz is the only one of them not in demon-face, and wonders whether he should change that, join them. There is a part of him whose origin he can guess, and that part never wants to shift again. Funny to have wholly different motivations get him to the same place.

Giles looks up from his journal with a slightly distracted air that makes Oz wish to be invited to his side, and then simply goes anyway. A hand on the back of his neck, casual and hard. So right.

"I'm worried that permanently removing the key may leave Glory more deranged than ever, which wouldn't be good for any of us.

"And then, of course, there's the question of what would happen if we tried to destroy the key. Those monks surely had a reason to keep it instead of simply denying it to Glory forever."

"Eh. I don't buy it. People hold on to all sorts of dangerous things just because they like the look of it, or just like to be the one in charge of it. Possession, Rupes."

Darla kicked the boy in exasperation. "Why don't we just have Dru summon us up a nice, stupid demon army and aim it at the lunatic? Glory's weakened, isn't she? So one Slayer couldn't defeat her. One Slayer couldn't defeat an army, either."

"Daddy chops armies into messes."

"Yes, thank you for that reminder Dru, but Angel's not here."

Drusilla turns mournful in an eyeblink. "No one's ever here, not even my own babies..."

"Nonsense, luv, we're right here."

"No... you're all gone, all gone, away and no one will ever reach you again!"

Giles raises an eyebrow. "I wonder if that's a warning about killing Dawn or Glory. Or both."

"Search me, mate. I've been with her over a hundred years and I still don't have a fucking clue."

"Drusilla, will you just stop crying? It's all right, we're right here, we won't leave you alone, shh, shh, honey, it's okay." And it's this strange kind of magic, watching Darla slip out of petulant, blood-thirsty queen into... this.

Holding Drusilla close, brow knitted with concern. Is it that she was sired by her the second time? Oz finds himself wondering about masks again, and has his own foul-sired urge to separate his family and study them. But no white rooms. No burns. And the memory: Riley.

Saving him, but damning him first.

"I want to torture Riley."

"Now there's a plan, halfsies. Too bad he's running about South America somewhere. Don't worry, there's always later."

"Really, we don't have the luxury to settle down and torture anyone, not while the future of the universe apparently hangs in the balance."

"Darla gets to torture that bloke over there, now doesn't she?"

"The only thing he's being tortured with is this conversation." Darla slipped away from Drusilla and kicked him again for good measure, making the boy moan and wet himself.

"Oh, wonderful. Do we really need our home stinking of urine?"

"No one let me piss in the corners, and you know Oz is just itching to."

"You're a whiny little bitch these days, aren't you, Will?"

"My name is Spike."

"And my name probably used to be Chastity or Patience. It doesn't change who I am, now does it?"

"The ladies wear no petticoats."

Darla grins and lifts her dress a few inches, baring a smooth, pale thigh.

Drusilla giggles and blushes faintly with her stolen blood. "My girl-child is naughty."

Giles sighs and rubs at his temples, ridges too stiff to shift with his touch and the effect was somewhat surreal. Something out of a Jim Henson acid trip. "If you're all quite finished, I have a suggestion --"

Drusilla pounces, straddling his lap and nuzzling his ear. "A very sexy fuddy-duddy," she purrs, in a voice that isn't quite her own, making Giles stiffen and snarl.

"I'm not under your glam this time, Drusilla."

"The terrible gypsy owned you, Rupert. Daddy had to kill her so you could be ours."

"That doesn't seem to really work out, pet, what with Peaches still all good."

Drusilla simply hums, settling herself more comfortably in Giles' lap and nuzzling. After a moment Giles' takes the hand from Oz's neck and rests it at the small of Drusilla's back. Oz stills himself before moving away.

"Well, that settles it, Rupes. It all happened just the way it was supposed to, and Jenny died so's we could all be together. Sweet, innit?"

Giles stares for a moment before slowly, deliberately, sinking his fangs into Drusilla's throat, earning a low, hungry sound that makes Spike's brow knit.

"You look more like Angelus every day, Spike. That's it. Say something nasty. Brood. You might be attractive, yet."

"Shut up, Darla."

Tinkling laughter and Oz feels Spike's eyes on him. Wonders what punishment he'll take for Giles, or if Ripper will come out and take it for him. But all Spike does is pat his own lap, and all Oz does is answer the summons, settling in. Cuddling when Spike yanks him closer. Was this the first night? The second? Any minute Spike will take him hard, growling and bloodying him, all for Giles to see.

Spike is hard, and reeks of old humiliation and ratcheting tension that makes Oz's heart want to beat until it all just... stops.

And Spike laughs.

"So what's the word, Dru? Will Daddy ever come home?"

"Yes. And we will swim in blood."

"Oh, fuck me for asking."

Giles leaves off feeding to speak. "Whose blood is that, Drusilla?"

"The whirlwind told my dollie not to say."

"The whirlwind is a bloody git."

"Right, that's about as useful as this is likely to get. My suggestion now?"

Darla pauses in grinding the boy's face into the mess he made. "I'm listening, Giles. It's not every day Spike turns someone smart enough to pull their own weight."

"Yes, well, quite. Put simply, we have to discover how Glory was contained for all this time, and put her back. Then we'll let Dawn die a natural death someplace dim and dark, chain up the Slayer and make her hurt for a decade or two, and. What else is there?"

"Xander and Anya," Oz whispered into Spike's throat.

"Oh, yes. We'll eat them."

"Bra-vo, Watcher. But just how do you suppose we go about finding all that information. Didn't the Slayer say that Glory killed all the monks?"

"Indeed. But there's always the Council." And Giles' smile is wide and wet.

"Right, so who's for a nice, long ride in the cargo hold of a 747?"

"It will be soooooo dark..."

"That's right, princess. Black as sin itself."

Darla sighs and kicks a hole through the boy's chest. "I'm off to pack."

"You do that, love. And what about Oz, eh, Rupes? Has he earned his vacation? Don't suppose we'll have to quarantine you two." Smiling into Oz's eyes, tracing patterns on the back of his neck.

"I'm positively writhing in amusement. But as to your question..." And Giles smiles again, the wicked curve, and all for Oz. "We all killed Devon, by the way. Left a terrible mess. We were going to leave it as a surprise, but... well, I just wanted you to know before we left. You will never deceive me again, Oz."

Spike doesn't even pause in petting him.

And all Oz can do is blink, and nod.