It's one of these things. Catch-up in the big wide world, away from the clean bite of cold and the pines he still carries on his clothes. It's just cool enough for his light jacket here in L.A., and he's just about managed to stop wrinkling and rubbing at his nose because of the smell.

Too many humans and their garbage, not enough pack. Xander, always the quicker to adapt, is doing all right. He will let Cordelia's scent fill his nose tonight, and no other. He's taking her to dinner, with the money they made from Lefontaine. Work around the farm, taking care of the animals. Oz still smells their terror, but they had obeyed them, at least.

Oz is sharing human blood -- B positive -- with his host. It really is the best to his palate. Werewolves traditionally hunt humans, after all. So said the lore, but Oz thinks most werewolves go his path. Easier. Never have to kill anyone you can still feel that way.

He wishes there were flesh to go with his treat just the same, but Angel really isn't that kind of vampire. Anymore. Which is good, because otherwise they probably wouldn't be friends.

They're both waiting for the other to talk, in an amiable way that will be very funny very soon. They need a Xander here. Oz thinks maybe Xanders are needed just about everywhere, and people just don't notice.

It's a comfortable silence, though, and this just might be good for him. A way of easing -- very, very slowly -- back into the rhythms of human conversation. A way to make the trip back north a little to Sunnydale a little less jarring when it comes, just a few days from now.

A visit to Giles, and to Anya -- soon to leave for England for Watcher training. Buffy, too. And, if he's up to it, Willow and Tara. He thinks he just might be, though the pain is still there. Muted now, but present. Some past Willow would've fit this pack so well. Rounded it out in more than one way. Willow present is not that person.

Angel looks good. No, feels good. Maybe both. Same features, same upscale Goth clothes... but there was a smile for greeting, and Angel is not as tense as Oz had expected. He adds to the nice silence, almost entirely relaxed. Vampires are hard to read -- short on scents unborrowed -- but Angel's body language is clear.

Something to think on. Cordelia not so much softer as larger. Taking up more than just her own physical space, beyond the acrid scent of her power. Doyle is gone, and there is no trace of him in this place save in Angel's eyes. Cordelia's faraway look. Wesley was still all nerves -- but only after he'd seen Oz. There's been enough time for Oz to understand that Wesley was making a tactical decision to surrender Willow, and one that might have saved lives, but it's hard to like a man who thinks that way.

Scent of another here, wild young adult smell. Reckless, untempered, sad. He is absent, though, and Angel doesn't mention him.

Wesley had excused himself to do more research with a briskly civil nod to Oz and a slightly longer look for Angel. Something animal under the nerves, hot and uncontrolled, forcing another re-evaluation beyond what his own eyes could tell him -- Wesley is slightly larger, much more graceful, and relaxed within himself. Wesley wants Angel, and Angel wants. What?

Oz wants everything coupled, trebled, more. More pack for everyone, so that no one has to be alone, or cold, or trapped within themselves. Wants everyone for him, too. Take them back to his home, and teach them the ways. Show them how he loves Xander, how Xander loves him, as an example. This is the way, see us full.

"What do you want, Angel? Most of all?"

"To be human."

Has to nod at that, because that's what pulled him to Xander in the first place. Focuses more attention on Angel, gaining more in return. Vampires and werewolves together have a long and complicated history. A werewolf can be made into a vampire hybrid, but the result is usually viciously unstable, uncontrollable even by the sire. Many vampires consider werewolves inferior. Many werewolves consider vampires useless carrion, occasionally dangerous. Vampires can sense and know werewolves far easier than the other way around. Mistrust.

But this is Angel, who Oz has seen love, who has saved his Xander, and fought by his side. The war is between animal and demon, vague race memory versus old prejudice. It's interesting.

"Do you think you could be?"

Wry humor. "I've had 200 years to think of all the ways I could have avoided screwing up my first chance at that. You don't mean that, do you?"

"It's hard to explain beyond 'human is hard.'"

Angel nods, absently licks a drop of errant blood from his hand and freezes. Laughs ruefully. Oz likes the laugh, and deep down likes the moment's confirmation. Perhaps he isn't the only weak one.

"I know. But I still want to try."

"For Buffy?"

"I can make her happier than her farmboy."

"Soldier." Anger he can't, and won't control. No one can die from this anger, and Oz deserves it.

Earns a look and a nod from Angel, and perhaps from his demon as well. The soldiers had gone against the natural order of things. The soldiers had hurt him, pointing at his constant changes with only curiosity and occasional humor. The soldiers... were scattered. Except for Riley.

Who had to be convinced to save him.

Oz shakes it off, finishes his own blood. Imagines it to be Riley's, or the doctor in the round glasses, or the prematurely balding soldier who stank of general bad. Immediately wishes for more.

Briefly wonders at the small, neat human-ness of his hands, and shifts immediately. Spike from the vampire, quickly dampened. And Angel says:

"The first time is always the hardest."


"Torture. Both." Another laugh, and Oz smiles along. Wanting blood, enjoying the company of another half-controlled demon, while Xander undoubtedly enjoys the human. Oz had wanted more of himself, still does. Something to give Xander when he longs for them. Humans. Lefontaine thinks of Xander as a son, and would undoubtedly be pushing him towards his sturdily pretty daughter were it not for Oz.

As it is, there is distance. Oz isn't human enough anymore for it to be otherwise, while Angel seems more human by the second. Hope, there, perhaps. Werewolves either lived long or died young. Perhaps he would have time to find Xander's middle ground. Or Angel's.

"So you never fell out of love for her?"

"Never. Sort of. She's..."

"Different now."


"But you want her back, all the way."

Angel rubs his hands over his eyes and Oz wonders why he's doing this. Why he has to make it impossible for Angel to have any hope at all, and what it says about him and. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Just. It's my tomorrow. The only one that counts."

"What about Wesley?"

Another short laugh. "Caught that, did you? I think he'd patiently let me kill him. Me, not the Angelus."

"And you?"

"I'm keeping him at arm's length. I don't need to think about anyone that loves that much of me that strongly."

"The danger of acceptance."


"He can't be your tomorrow?"

"Do you have something against Buffy?"

"Nah. Just that. He's the one who loves you."

"It isn't ever that simple."

"Gordian knot. You've got plenty of swords."

Breathes, licks the residue of all those words from his teeth. "It's easier when they love you."

"Until you have to do what's necessary."

"And what's necessary? With Wesley?"

A pause, and silence is like this wave that wants to obliterate everything so gently. And Oz is tempted to let it, and Oz wants Xander there to touch, to feel the wolf burning hard beneath his skin, somehow at peace with the lover. Mate, pack, and love.

Wesley would be easy with Angel, and show him peace, and humanity. And more acceptance than the Powers would allow, and yet. There should be something for Angel, and for whoever Wesley has become. Some space of safety and sharing. Touch and shared blood.

"I'd turn him. He'd be a wonderful vampire. Efficient, smart enough to avoid all the pitfalls, vicious and assured and too cold to love."


"Yes. I want him so very badly."

"It's OK to have more than one tomorrow."

A nod. "How's Xander?"

First thought: "Alive. Lonely."

"Will you stay?"

"Only for a little while. I still don't trust my control around the Hellmouth."

"A tomorrow?"

"Only because of Xander."

"Never good to change yourself for the sake of someone else." Another rueful smile, full eye contact. Angel is a beautiful man when he smiles.

Smiles back. "Got it."

And this time the wave is entirely more insistent, fetching him deep inside, and it's abruptly necessary to join Angel at his chair. Curling in on himself just slightly, lean his head -- hair freshly chopped and spiked for visiting -- against Angel's long, long leg. Rumble of something like a purr from above, something like the sound Xander makes when he's close to change or orgasm. Agreement of alpha, necessity of touch. Cool hand branding the back of his neck, plucking at his hair.

Waiting for their tomorrows.