Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha — The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Some Were Born To Sing The Blues
By Mosca
For LindaMarie

I wear the ring.

I didn't plan to wear it. What I planned to do was destroy it. I knew how it was going to go: I'd watch the sun go down over Los Angeles, and then I'd smash the Ring of Amarra with a big rock. I'd thought about using a hammer, but I liked the rock idea better. There was something primal in it. Breaking stone with stone.

I went up to the roof with the ring and my rock. Smog makes for beautiful sunsets. Oz let it get down most of the way before he came up to join me. He thought he was creeping up behind me unnoticed, but you can't really do that to a vampire. Werewolves are quieter than humans, but their scent is stronger. He smelled like marijuana and dirty laundry on top of the musk of teenager and wolf. He smelled like a kid who hadn't cracked a book since he'd started college.

He had the good sense not to talk as the last vestiges of California sun sank under the horizon. Doyle or Cordy would have been all ready with the pep talk. They would have wanted me to be invincible. They would have told me I'd earned the right to that kind of power. But Oz, he just stood with his hands in his pockets, watching me watch the sunset.

When it was dark -- as dark as it gets in this streetlamped, neon-drenched city, this expanse of fast food signs and Gordian highways -- I took the ring off and set it on the ledge. I'd put the rock down by my feet, and I bent over to retrieve it. I weighed the rock in my hand for a few seconds. That was long enough to give Oz the chance to say, "You're going to destroy it?"

"Yeah," I said.

"So I guess you've thought of the repercussions of that."

"Yeah, I destroy the ring, no more vampires get to run around in the sunlight," I said.

"And all that black magic flies around?" Oz said.

"I assumed it would just... go away," I said. A car sped by in a blaze of Mexican pop music, and the headlights made the ring glimmer. "I don't know if I can destroy it."

"You don't have to wear it," Oz said. "You could just keep it safe."

That was what I decided to do. I bought a small lockbox and paid a shaman in Koreatown to cast a more mystical seal on it. I memorized the combinations that would unlock both, but I didn't expect to use them.

Months passed. Oz visited more than I would have expected to. One day, finally, I asked him if there weren't some classes he should be attending. "Oh," he said. "I dropped out." I asked if he'd thought about what would happen when the full moon came around. He hadn't, so I built a cage in my office large enough to contain him. The shaman in Koreatown was happy to ensure that it was wolf-proof.

A week after that full moon, Doyle hurled himself into a bright white light and saved the world. Watching him was like waiting for the B feature back in the '40s, when the government inserted propaganda in between the reels. Are you doing all you can to protect the innocent? The words rang in my head after Cordy had a mid-morning vision. I couldn't think of a way to save the victim without self-immolation. I put on the ring, saved the girl, and locked it away again.

Oz was staying in L.A. full time. Sometimes he slept in his cage when the moon was waning or even new. I asked him where he was living, and he told me he was "crashing with people." I couldn't really afford to, but I offered him a job. I trusted him to make himself useful.

For a long time, I managed to control myself. I only unlocked the ring when I had to be a hero by daylight. All right, that and once or twice when I was pretty sure a monster was capable of kicking my ass with both claws tied behind its spinal ridge. But there was one valiant rescue that put an end to my restraint. It was a young couple, newlyweds. She was pregnant. They'd driven up into the hills and gotten marauded by a pack of Rhandgar demons. Feathers everywhere. It was a beautiful, cloudless March morning, and from where I was standing, I could see a vast purple backdrop of mountains. When the Valley had its lights turned off, it looked idyllic from a distance. I couldn't bear to take the ring off. I wanted to be alone with the sunlight. I broke into a private beach and spent the rest of the day lying in the sand.

After that, it was easy to find excuses to put the ring on. I'd always wanted to go to Disneyland. I have a thing for parades. There is tremendous joy in taking a convertible out on the gridlocked freeway on a bright summer day. I came to be paranoid about taking it off. What if someone tried to stake me in my sleep? Eventually, it got to the point where I never took it off.

"I thought you were locking that away," Oz said.

"Yeah," I said. "So did I."

He was, if anything, paler than when I'd first known him. Despite my rationalizations, we mostly worked at night. He had his own apartment somewhere, but he still slept in the cage a lot. He said he felt safe there. Wolf instincts, pack mentality. He sat in there cross-legged and played his guitar. I requested songs once in a while, but he didn't know anything I liked. Born too late to appreciate Barry Manilow or Journey, it seemed.

He reminded me of young men I'd known long ago, the ones I'd admired shamefully from corner tables at taverns. Large but soft hands and a restfulness to their nature that I'd lacked at that age. Oz had eyes as ancient as those men. Maybe it was the wolf in him.

"Gathering wool?" he asked.

"No," I lied. "Listening."

"What does that mean, anyway?" he said. "Woolgathering."

"Other than thinking?" I said.

"Oh, no, I just thought --"

"Thought I might be old enough to know?" I said.

He hesitated, red-faced, before admitting it. "You don't separate it out," he said. "Between before and after." He tapped his teeth.

"Do you?" I said.

He said, "It's not the same."

It is, of course, the same. He's not old enough to understand it yet. Hasn't lived long enough with the monster inside him. He's getting there -- he's gotten closer since. His scent that night was heady and very human. His new-moon smell, when the wolf is buried deepest. I could taste his blood on my tongue. I backed away from him, reminding myself that he was something I wasn't allowed to kill.

He asked me if I was okay, and I nodded. He approached me slowly and carefully, the way you'd approach a nervous horse. A truck rumbled down the street behind the building. I sometimes think that cars would make more sense if they whinnied. I was laughing to myself about this when he'd come close enough to touch my knee. "Did you want to bite me?" he said.

"It's already passed," I said. "I'm a vampire. I've still got instincts. I don't act on them."

"Just making sure," he said. He was going to slip away, but I grabbed his wrist. He stiffened with fear. His eyes were wide and active, his face pale and dusty with stubble, and it saddened me that I would never see him in the moonlight. I covered his neck with my hand, and I kissed him. He fell into my mouth hungrily. "Wait," I said. "I have to take the ring off." He kept kissing me, not taking me seriously. I said, "I don't want him wearing it."

"Oh," he said. "Perfect happiness clause."

"Not that I'm expecting you to -- Not that I'm not," I said. "But I don't want to take the chance."


"I should go lock it up," I said.

He squinted at me. "If you know the combinations, won't he know them too?"

I don't remember what I said then, but it might have involved cursing. My father largely whipped that habit out of me, but Los Angeles has begun to bring it back.

I put the ring in his hand. "You should change the locks," I said. I got out the instruction manual for the safe, and he changed the code, cupping his hand over it so I couldn't see. The mystical lock was a touch trickier, but the shaman had left instructions for that as well. He locked the ring away and came back to kiss me, his lips even and unhurried. Again, something ancient about them, timeless.

I lifted his t-shirt over his head. His skin was smooth and dry. I dropped to my knees for him, slid his pants down his hips, and took him into my mouth. I was careful of my teeth, and I was slow with him but not gentle. He came with the intense detachment I'd come to expect from him.

I rose. He dusted his hands on the back of my shirt and knelt in front of me. He seemed to be concentrating. I closed my eyes and remembered Darla, gathering her skirts to her waist. I had been so naive then, I'd said, "I thought we couldn't die."

"Little deaths," she'd cackled. "As many little deaths as we want," and she'd wrapped her legs around me.

Oz's mouth on me was more or less the opposite of that. No exhilaration, but warmth. I waited for my alter ego to force my soul out, the shatter of psychic glass breaking. But I died in his mouth and the world went quiet with the sound of nothing changing. It was happiness, but there was nothing perfect about it.

He guards the ring now. I wear it sometimes, when the need arises, when there's no other way to protect the innocent. I have to choose between him and daylight, and that's what keeps the curse in check. Three nights every month, I lock him in a cage and go out in search of demons. I can't stand to stay home, listening to him howl and rattle. So that's another curse controlled.

The best nights are the ones when the moon has waned or waxed halfway. The city is safe enough, and he's in my arms. A little bit of wolf in the man, but not more than I can handle. And I'm vulnerable. Light me on fire, leave the window open, you'll find a bed full of ashes. But I'm not afraid of the little deaths.