Moments of stillest contemplation where seconds passed like centuries and every heartbeat was a lifetime.
Flashing image of Anita raising her gun and firing. Close up view of her cold-cold dark eyes, nothing remotely human behind them. She didn't even have the joy of the most conscienceless monster. She was empty inside, just this kind of void where substance had been eaten away by circumstance.
Then Oz was on the floor, feeling the bruises forming on his ass from the hard landing. Blood was soaking into his new pants and Jason wasn't moving. Jason wasn't breathing. Jason wasn't anything. He was just red-red meat piled on the floor, his chest a mess and a ruin.
"Oh god, what have I done?" Anita whispered in horror, dropping her gun with a clatter on the floor.
Oz scuttled across the floor to Jason's side. His hand trembled as he reached out to feel Jason's neck, searching for a pulse that wasn't there. "He's got no heartbeat," he said, his voice cracking.
Drawing up his old Scooby Gang courage, Oz forced himself to ignore the blood and gore and began to perform CPR, all the while silently praying. It had only been about half a minute. If he was lucky he might be able to bring Jason back enough that lycanthrope healing could kick in.
"Someone... please..." he gasped in between trying to push air into Jason's lungs and shoving on his chest. "Call 911. Do something. Help me."
The frozen moment that had held everyone else in the room suddenly broke.
Jean-Claude filled the peripheral of his vision, Asher close beside him. Is there any sign of life?"
Oz shook his head. "Nothing. I think... I think he's really dead."
Even though he had only met Jason a couple of days before, he had really liked the guy. He had had the feeling that they would be real friends. It had been almost the same feeling he'd gotten the first time he met Devon, and they had been best friends since forever.
It was funny, living in Sunnydale had meant that people he knew and liked died everyday. But traveling the world meant he had actually gotten used to the concept that people didn't have to die young and violently. People were allowed to grow old and live a happy life.
It wasn't until he'd left Sunnydale that he'd realized how few old people survived long in Sunnydale. Or maybe it was the fact that most people didn't live long enough to be considered old.
He should have know better than to become used to a different kind of life. Tragedy followed him around wherever he went. Anyone that he even remotely liked was destined to either die a horribly messy death or turn against him in the most emotionally damaging way possible.
Thinking of the losses in his life brought up an image of Willow, as it always did. Beautiful, sweet, beloved Willow who he had wounded then in turn been wounded by.
Red hair flashed in his mind then was superseded by blond hair splashed with blood. There really wasn't anything that Willow and Jason had in common other than that visceral sense of recognition he had gotten from his first clear view of both of them.
Don't die, he thought, staring down at Jason's still face. I couldn't bear it if you stayed dead.
* * *
A deep, urgent thrum. Something was trying to call her attention, to tell her that there was something only she could do.
Reaching out with only the most delicate traces of her magic, she tried to Feel what was calling her.
Her power had grown to such astronomical proportions that if she were to turn her full attention on one person, they would be totally and completely destroyed. Cell dispersion on the micro-molecular level, which translated as the subject of her attention completely ceasing to exist.
She knew that Buffy and Giles had no idea of how powerful she had grown but that Xander had his suspicions. He had never asked though, somehow knowing that there were some answers it really was better not to know.
The fact that his oldest friend had become the nearest thing to a god was one of the mysteries that should be kept. Just label her an awesomely powerful wicca and leave it alone.
Sometimes her own power frightened her. The fact that her most idle of whims could somehow form themselves out of the aether without her conscious control was a frightening thing.
She couldn't even allow herself the freedom of disliking someone anymore for fear that they might just suddenly burst into flame or something.
So when someone called for her attention, she had to be almost comically careful not to crush their mind when she responded.
Following the source of the call, she found a familiar gold energy swirling with blue and purple.
Oz? she thought.
The still loved mind was writhing in emotional torment, completely unaware of the psychic scream he was making.
Unable to tell what the problem was from such a distance--not without possibly damaging him permanently--she sent him a thin stream of energy. Barely a trickle to the vast ocean of her power, but more than most people ever touched in their entire lives.
She didn't know if feeding him energy would help him, but at least he would know on a subconscious level that she was there, that she would help him if he ever needed it.
With a sigh of regret, Willow broke the connection to snuggle into the warmth of Kennedy's side. The sleeping Slayer made a murmuring expression of contentment and didn't wake.
I'll find out where he is tomorrow, Willow thought. Oz...
* * *
A world where the veil between life and death was as delicate in some ways as tissue paper. With the right amount of pressure, someone could tear right through to the other side, either from life to death, or from death back into life.
* * *
He didn't know why or where it came from, but he felt a sudden burst of strength flow through him.
Not even thinking of the impossibility of what he did, he slammed both palms on Jason's bloody chest and yelled, "LIVE!"
It was as though lightning shot down his arms and through his hands. Jason's body jerked under the onslaught and there was a harsh, wavering gasp.
Terrified blue eyes popped open and stared up at him in confusion.