The blonde, masked vampire who'd strode in as though the den was her own turns out to be Darla. Oz is unsure of her status, as she is at once deferred to and dismissed. She seems to be equally unable to decide, though she is far more commanding than submissive.

The scent of her blood is confused, and he does not need to see behind the cleverly carved mask to know that her face bears the same burn scars as Drusilla's body.

Again, he wishes for the ability to go back in time so that he can know a person. Angel. Had Angel seemed capable of this before?

Why not simply kill them?

Oz settles against the railing and watches it all. Spike's taunting, Drusilla's mothering, Giles paying court in a way Darla seems to find both gratifying and infuriating. Spike refuses to punish Giles for it, Giles' smile is again perfect -- until Darla sidles up to him, offers her own smile, and jams her claws deep in his belly.

Oz is down in an instant, tackling Darla to the ground, dislodging the mask to reveal a cracking wet horror that makes him growl. It is Giles who grabs him by the back of the neck and pulls him away, all to the tune of Darla's hum of disgusted rage.

"What is that?" she asks, brushing herself down and slipping the smooth white mask back in place.

"That, great-grandmother, is me very own grandson. Smells funny, but it grows on you. Doesn't much care for harm to come to his Sire. Cute, innit?"

"Why am I not surprised that this... this thing is your fault? You never had any respect for anything."

"Not true, great-grandmother --"

"Call me that again and I'll gut you."

Giles tutting in the corner: "Did you really have to make me bleed on the furniture?"

"Right, then, Dar-la. I respect a lot of things. Dru's visions, for one. Tsk. You really ought to pay more attention to 'er and less to gettin' it off with the pouf."

Darla's smile is bright and wet. "Oh, Spike. I really don't think you want to bring up the subject of... romantic entanglements." Steps up behind him, runs her fingers through his hair and musses it.

Spike is silently fuming, teeth showing in something almost like embarrassment.

"You've made quite a name for yourself, little boy... Killing your own. Helping the... well, we won't say the S word aloud, will we?

"Wouldn't want to upset Dru.

"There are those who say you... love her."

"Bloody fucking nonsense. Of course you'd be listening to rumors in bars instead of yer own bloody seer."

Their voices continue, and Dru adds something vaguely musical, but Oz's attention is thoroughly lost. Giles has peeled his ruined shirt away from his stomach. Giles has pulled Oz close.

Giles' hand rests steady on the back of Oz's neck, even as he begins to gnaw at the edges of the wound.


Oz has decided they are living in an in-between time. Drusilla and Darla need to heal, plans need to be made. He isn't sure if they will go after Angel or Buffy. Logic suggests they should wait until they're at full strength and lead Buffy into a trap of some sort, come at her all at once.

She has proven that she can easily defeat them should they attempt to go on her one by one, and Oz has decided that, between her and Angel, she's the more dangerous opponent.

Angel has become crueler, but from what Oz has pieced together, is most likely teetering on the brink of... something. What would life be like with Angelus as patriarch? He doesn't think Giles will live happily under him, and would surely make an attempt on his life.

Oz wonders what it will feel like to lose Giles in this form. What would grief feel like?

Who would be beautiful for him, then?


The Sunnydale campus is broad and fresh. The blood he scents on the air is hot and alive.

Oz hasn't been around this many humans since well before Giles had lured him back here, and it is... staggering. The youth and health and careless energy, voices so loud they drown the caution that surely the five of them should generate.

They are a roving collection of the odd. They should be in a gallery with their own stands, neat white cards detailing relevant information.

Giles allows him to take point, acknowledging Oz's superior sense of smell. They will not be discovered tonight by anyone, Oz knows this is his duty. There is, of course, the urge to lope at times like these, despite the incorrect configuration of his form.

It is a matter of concentration, and less compromise than translation.

Oz walks erect, but gives his joints and muscles the freedom to move in a sincerely graceful symphony. Spike has his prowl, Drusilla has her glide, Oz has something of an arrogant stroll that at once marks him and slips him into a shadows -- small men are often as overbearing as possible.

Fletcher house emits the intermittent blasts of sound that groups of ten-to-fifteen young, White, drunk members of fraternities tend to generate. The building is small, the lights off save for what must be the common room, which is where the sounds come from.

It is a public building, and they simply walk in through the front door and into the kegger. Oz was wrong -- there is one Black male, and also one who'd had vaguely Asian features before Drusilla removed them.

Oz chides himself for stereotyping before joining the slaughter.


Darla is a different woman when well-fed. Calmer, and generally more satisfied with life. She stares at Oz good-naturedly from her perch on the arm of the couch, while Dru whispers things into her ear, while Giles and Spike discuss Buffy at length, and strategy.

Spike is strangely subdued.

Darla's beauty under her slow-healing wounds is of the simple American variety, strangely girl-next-door when she smiles as she does now. Still wholesome despite the hovering air of sex, and the blooded mask she toys with in one hand.

"Tell me about yourself, Oz. What does it feel like to be the very first of your kind?"

"Strange," he replies, "and lonely."

"So human despite all your demons. I could just tear you apart and play with the pieces."

"Understandably, I think, I would really prefer that you didn't."

She giggles and her smile is brighter. Her mouth is the only perfect thing left on her face, and he is unsurprisingly drawn to stare at it.

"I'd let you kiss me, little wolf-demon, if I wasn't afraid more bits of me would fall off."

"I appreciate the thought. Who's your Sire?"

"The Master. And Drusilla. My father and my grand-daughter and a law firm. I feel so legitimate. My dead whore mother would be proud, I think." Smiling more, leaning over to trace a perfectly manicured thin claw over the bones of Oz's face, over his lips, tapping gently on his closed eyelids.

"Have you killed your family yet? I bet Giles has you on a short leash."

"He's my Sire."

"And you're a slave. You put such ideas in my head."

"Well, it's not like you didn't have room, luv."

She doesn't bother to turn around. "Oh, shut up, Spike. When I want the opinion of a Slayer-lover... I'll still choose Angel over you."

Giles chuckles, earning a slap to the head that brings Ripper to the surface fast as lightning. They trade insults in accents so thick that Oz barely makes out one word in three. It makes him smile on the inside.

Darla rolls her eyes, opens her arms for Drusilla who cuddles close and stares at Oz, wide-eyed and solemn.

"She lay with him, you know. After the burning. Who will be the baby now?"

Darla's caresses turn brutal, unerringly finding the burns beneath Drusilla's clothes and digging in. Drusilla rolls onto her back, and allows Darla to play her for moans and gasps.

Her smile for Oz has turned darkly rueful, but the humor remains.

"A mother never forgets her boy."


Oz wakes from a dream of sleeping, dozing with a sort of stupid lizard joy in warm sunshine. It's the first dream he's had since dying, and it disturbs him. Leaves him shivering in Giles' arms on the pile of blankets.

Darla had, of course, claimed the bed for herself, while Dru and Spike slept like children on the couch. The light insinuates itself under and around the shades, makes them vaguely trans- lucent in a way that is barely safe for them. A buttery goad for him, now.

Giles doesn't say a word, simply shifts, pushes. He'd left his cock inside Oz all night.

Oz can feel Giles swell within him. Oz bends his head, and offers his nape.

I am yours, he whispers from deep inside.


Despite the snide and serious reminders they all give each other, Dru is hard to focus on. Oz likes to think that, ultimately, she is as strange as himself, someone to cultivate to him, just in case.

He drifts in and out of her notice, but she is always delighted to see him, and once punched a hole through the glass of a bakery window just to give him a sweet.

I, he thinks, am the mascot.

Oz isn't entirely sure how he feels about that, but Giles' reassurances keep him on the fine line between satiation and obsession, and he finds himself fond of his family. The line of Aurelius.

Part of him is absolutely certain that the Aurelius in question was just some turned peasant lucky and smart enough to avoid the Slayer until he was old enough to be powerful. In any event, they are the aristocracy now. The other demons who they've met have given them respect, though most of them don't particularly care when vampires get staked.

It is the day before the man who Giles used to be is due back from his "buying trip," and the surviving members of the Scooby gang come to crash down his door, looking for answers.

Tara and Willow are, after all, missing, and there are slightly more vicious than usual vampires about.

They are no longer located there, having moved to the abandoned mansion that truly does still smell of Angel, at least to his own nose. They have been far more effective in eroding Buffy's support system than Angelus ever was -- and he shares in the pride.

His Sire has done well, and Spike had done well in siring him.

It all adds to the general sense of distraction, to none of them quite recognizing the power-stunned look on Drusilla's face as she chanted, over and over:

"The sky lords and ladies stamped their feet, and all the babies cried."

Until Darla left to wander, and Spike became exasperated enough to ask her to "sing another song, like that one about dead Slayers."

And she did, giving it a surprisingly complex melody that left Oz wondering if he could, perhaps, capture diminished ninth with vampire fingers.

But it had sunk in just enough for something, because Giles is lecturing now about someone named Glory. A goddess.

Which is a pretty impressive sort of being to have living in your home town. The question has become:

Which babies will cry?