Chapter 2: Phases
Chapter 2: Phases
A/N: Changing the order of season 2 episodes a little to suit my evil purposes.
Warning: Hopefully doesn’t rise to the level of Angel-bashing, but it isn’t Angel-friendly.
Challenge: personal request by gopher101 for a Buffy/Oz fic. As well as a b-day gift to zigpal.
Thanks to my betas: AerynSpeedleCaine and zigpal.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission. Some dialogue paraphrased from buffyworld.com.
A few weeks went by, reasonably quiet for Hellmouth standards, which gave Buffy and Oz a chance to get to know each other without slayage interfering. Once Willow got over her disappointment about no Buffy/Angel smoochies, she saw that Oz was much better for her best bud. Sure, there was the chance that he might turn out to be another Owen when he found out about Buffy, but he wasn’t trying to involve himself yet in whatever it was she did every night after she left him.
Of course that meant the you-know-what had to hit the fan, Sunnydale-style. Cordy was showing Buffy, Giles and the Scoobies the damage to her dad’s convertible while she was up on Lover’s Lookout with Percy. Apparently some kind of creature attacked them while they were making out, and from Cordy’s somewhat vague description, their best guess was a werewolf. And they made that guess verbally just as Oz walked up behind Buffy to surprise her.
And he surprised everyone when he spoke up, “Werewolf, huh?”
Turning to see her crush-type guy behind her, Buffy answered weakly, “Oz, hi! Umm, don’t suppose you could pretend you didn’t hear that, could you?”
He just shook his head. “Is this your secret gig?” Oz guessed.
Buffy just groaned. “Well, if you aren’t going to block it out like everyone else, let’s go to the library where we can be comfortable while Giles gives you the whole spiel.”
Giving his Slayer a pointed look, Giles asked, “Do you really believe this is wise, Buffy?”
She shrugged helplessly. “He already has like 75% of the picture; might as well fill in the rest.”~~~~~~
Giles handled the explanation while Buffy started looking through books on werewolves and the others went to class. The only reason Buffy stuck around was in case Oz had any other questions for her – or told her he didn’t want to see her again…whichever happened. Buffy was crossing her fingers he wasn’t going to be another Owen. Once Giles was done, he took the books Buffy had and went to his office to give them some privacy.
As soon as the door closed, Oz turned to Buffy. “So what now?”
She perched on the table in an attempt to appear casual about this. “That all depends on you. What do you want to happen?”
“This wasn’t a complete surprise.” He saw her raised eyebrow and clarified, “Well, the vampires, demons and Slayer part is, but I already knew you were helping people. Can I ask you one question?”Here it came.
Buffy nodded warily. “What’s that?”
“Why are you dating me?” Before she could answer him, he continued, “I mean, you have this great important destiny to save the world, and what do I do? I play in a band that can’t even master more than a few chords. Shouldn’t you be with some guy who’s heroic?”
Breathing a sigh of relief – at least temporarily – Buffy gave him a smile. “There’s a problem with the heroic figures; they tend to either be standoffish or they have a part of themselves that desperately wants something normal to hold onto. You know, a personal reason to save the world. My family and friends are my reason; you are too.”
Oz smiled back shyly. “I like being a reason. It’s much better than being a raisin.”
That made her giggle. “See, that’s another I like about you – your odd sense of humor.”
He moved to sit by her on the table. “Ahh, I get it now. You only want me for my stash of dry jokes,” he said with mock-hurt.
Buffy just smirked at him slyly. “Well, if you ever kissed me, I may come up with another motive to keep you around.”
“Hmm, I like the incentive.” He started to lean in to give into her ‘demand’ when he remembered another thing he wanted to ask. Might as well deal with that first. “Before we get to that though, I’m guessing Xander and Willow help you out?”
“Yeah,” Buffy answered cautiously.
Oz nodded. “I’m not sure how, but I’d like to help too. Based on what he…” He gestured to the office, “said, I couldn’t help with the fighting. Maybe there’s some other way I could help – like with the research or whatever. You need somebody to get the holy water or make your stakes?”
Remembering her bad luck in the past with helpful guys – at least some of them – Buffy had to know. “Why
do you want to help me?”
He knew he had to answer this right, so Oz tried to come up with the right words. “Because I kind of like you a lot, and would really like it if you stuck around for a lot longer. If making sure you had enough holy water to fill the school pool would do that, I’d drive to every Catholic church within a hundred miles.”
“So this isn’t some sort of adrenaline rush for you?” she checked, crossing her fingers.
Oz shrugged. “Can’t really say I’ve come across anything rush-worthy yet.” He figured this was a sore spot with her and didn’t want to risk losing her if he pushed, so he offered, “If you don’t want me involved, I understand. It’s got to be nerve-wracking having to worry about everyone’s safety.”
Apparently he found the right words after all. Buffy beamed at him. “You know what? You are the best almost boyfriend I’ve ever had!” she declared.
He liked almost
everything in that statement. “What can I do to get rid of the almost in that statement?”
“Kiss me?” she ordered softly.
Oz grinned and leaned in again. “Gladly,” he answered before capturing her lips in a tender, yet passionate kiss.~~~~~~Buffy’s bedroom
That night Willow was practically bouncing on Buffy’s bed. “So…spill! I need my vicarious smoochies! Were there smoochies involved, or do Xander and I have to go hurt the stupid guitar guy?”
Buffy looked up from her weapons locker and said with a silly grin on her face, “There will be no hurting of my non
-stupid guitar boyfriend
Willow squealed in excitement, “Does that mean there were
Blushing furiously, Buffy sat on the bed with her best friend. “Uh-huh, very nice ones at that,” she sighed happily.
“Details!” Willow ordered.
Turning on her side to look at Willow, Buffy told the redhead, “He explained that he wanted to help out – in a non-Owen-like fashion – ‘cause he wanted me to be around longer. He was so cool about the whole thing that I couldn’t help myself.”
Willow’s eyes bugged out. “You
She shook her head. “Not exactly, but I gave him the big neon sign for ‘go’.” When Willow looked confused, Buffy explained, “I called him my almost boyfriend, and he asked how he could get rid of the almost, and I said that he could kiss me.”
“Aww, and that led to the smoochies. Man, I’m so jealous!” Willow pouted, leaning back against the headrest.
Buffy scooted up so she was sitting next to her. “Ehh, we’ll work on opening Xander’s eyes to the goodness that is you.”
Willow just scoffed, “And how will we manage that miracle?”
“We just have to show him you’re a girl and not just a friend in a girl package.” A wicked gleam entered Buffy’s eyes as she came up with the perfect plan. “You know, Halloween’s coming up and the right outfit would totally force him to acknowledge your girlness.”
Nervous at that gleam, Willow started to backpedal, “I don’t know. Wouldn’t that like require an outfit that isn’t me?”
“Do you want Xander to notice you or not?” Buffy demanded. “I’m not saying you have to go as Wonder Woman – although that might cause him to swallow his tongue – but showing off your bod just a little couldn’t hurt. Just think about it, okay? I’ve got to go; Giles is waiting to go werewolf hunting with me.”
“Good luck!” Willow called out, gathering her things so she could head home.
Buffy and Giles’ hunting trip turned out to be a bust. She was trapped by a psycho hunter who wanted to kill the werewolf; then the werewolf got away from Buffy at the Bronze; and just as the sun was about to rise, they heard that Teresa had been killed – and the news thought it was tied to the animal attacks the night before. That meant Buffy was in a foul mood when she got to school.
Wrapping his somewhat shaky arms around his Slayer girlfriend, Oz inquired, “Hey Buff, what’s the matter?”
“The werewolf got away from me last night and killed Teresa. Argh!” she growled in frustration. “Maybe Cain was right, and we should just kill it.”
Oz tensed at her words, then realized there was something new he didn’t know about. “Who’s Cain?”
Buffy leaned back into her boyfriend’s arms, needing his closeness right now. “He’s a hunter who’s after his twelfth werewolf kill.”
Pulling away from her so he could look her in the eyes, Oz asked softly, “You really think he’s right? What if the person didn’t know they were a werewolf? And do you know for sure the werewolf killed Teresa?” he asked desperately. “I mean, there are a lot of other things around here that could do it.”
Wondering why he was so uptight about this, Buffy shrugged as she answered, “Well, the news said-- No, I guess we don’t know until we’ve checked her body,” she conceded before considering his other question and realized he was right. “And I don’t really agree with Cain. He’s way too creepy to agree with. You honestly think the person doesn’t know?” she asked.
“I can guarantee it,” Oz said after a few minutes of debating with himself about if this was a good idea or not. Ultimately, she was bound to find out sooner or later, though, and if she discovered he hid it from her… Well, that wouldn’t be good.
“How?” She had the feeling he knew who it was and was worried she’d kill the person without giving them a chance.
Taking a deep breath, Oz admitted, “I think I’m the werewolf. Well, actually I kind of know
I’m the werewolf…now, anyway. I figured it out this morning when I woke up in the woods naked. Then I called my aunt to see if my cousin Jordy – the one who bit me – was a werewolf. Turns out he is; as is my uncle.”
Buffy’s nose wrinkled in confusion. “So it’s hereditary?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. What happens now?” Oz asked. His question covered a lot of things.
“Now we go to Giles and ask him. My guess is that he’ll want to make sure you’re locked up tonight…and probably every month from now on,” she warned.
Oz expected that. If they hadn’t insisted, he would have. “What about us? Is there still an us?”
“Of course there is!” she declared adamantly. “You really think this would make a difference?”
“Well, now I’m one of the monsters you hunt,” Oz reminded her.
She shook her head. “No, you’re not! You’re my boyfriend who had a really crappy thing happen to him.” They hadn’t discussed Angel yet, and now seemed to be the perfect time to handle it. “Do you remember the party where we met? Do you know why I agreed to go to that stupid thing?”
“‘Cause you had an overwhelming urge to get groped by college guys?” Oz inquired dryly.
Buffy rolled her eyes, then said, “No, because the guy I was crushing on didn’t think it was a good idea to get personally involved with me; a guy who happens to be a vampire. Now, he has a soul, so he’s not like the other vampires, but still…if there was ever an odd match up, it’d be him and me. As long as we’re careful about keeping you out of trouble during your furry time, things are cool.”
Oz felt the hand clenching his heart loosen. “And if I happen to get out?” he pushed.
“Then we find a non-killy way of taking you down. I refuse to kill my boyfriend.” Buffy hugged him tightly.
Gladly returning the hug, Oz added, “Unless I’m about to kill somebody else. I don’t want to be a murderer – even if it’s not really me who does the killing.”
Buffy wanted to stay in denial-land a little longer, so she brushed off the concern for now. “Let’s talk to Giles and find a way for both of us to be happy, ‘k?”~~~~~~Library
Giles was watching over werewolf-Oz locked in the bookcage with his new tranq gun within reach in case the cage didn’t hold him. How ironic that Buffy gave up on her interest in Angel, only to start dating a werewolf. The Watcher hoped this wouldn’t turn out badly for his Slayer.
However, he had to admit he like young Oz considerably more than Angel. He shuddered; that relationship was wrong on so many levels, in his opinion. While Angel was a somewhat valuable ally from time to time, he was also rather unreliable about being available. Case in point, since Buffy made it clear that she wasn’t interested in him anymore, they had only seen him once or twice.
He was broken out of his reverie by Buffy’s voice, “Spike’s back in town – if he ever left, that is.”
Looking up in alarm, Giles asked, “You ran across him?”
Buffy sat down next to him heavily – well, for her anyway. “Nope, got a little present from him and Dru. Teresa wasn’t killed by Oz – yay for that! She was turned by Spike so she could deliver a message to me for him. He sends ‘his warmest regards’.”
“That sounds ominous,” Giles commented.
She chuckled mirthlessly. “Yeah, kinda strange. Guess that’s what happens when it’s said by an enemy and not a friend or acquaintance.”
Giles studied her face and saw more than just Spike’s return was bothering her. “Are you alright?”
“I feel horrible,” Buffy admitted. “On the one hand, I’m so happy that it wasn’t Oz, but on the other, she was killed because she knew me. We weren’t even good friends, but Spike used her anyway. Of course, I wouldn’t want him to use one of my good friends--”
Before she could finish that statement, Giles interjected, “I understand. All of your emotions are valid, Buffy. Sometimes the victories are bittersweet.”
“Like dark chocolate.” She pouted. “I don’t like that either; give me the yummy goodness of sweet, milky chocolate anyday.”
“Yes, well…” Giles started stammering, unsure of how to answer that.
Buffy giggled at the expression on his face. “Sorry, didn’t mean to make your British mind slip its gears. So, how’s Oz been?” she asked, looking over at the cage.
“Relatively quiet once he realized he couldn’t break out of the cage.” He looked at the werewolf more closely, then murmured, “Huh, that’s interesting.”
“What is?” she inquired, not seeing anything different from when she left earlier.
Giles got that Watcher look in his eyes; the one that said he found something intriguing to study. “He’s watching you. Go walk over by the stacks; see if his gaze follows you.”
“You’re running experiments on my boyfriend? You aren’t going to dissect him or anything, are you?” Giles just glared at her. “Fine. I’m walking. Hey, you’re right. Wonder what this means.”
“Something for us to research,” he replied with the obvious answer.
Buffy sat back down and responded dully, “Yay! Just what we needed; more stuff to look up.”
Glaring mildly at her, Giles asked pointedly, “Don’t you want to know all you can about Oz’s condition?”
She sighed in resignation. “You know I hate it when you use logic on me, right?”
Smirking back at her, he answered, “Consider it payback for making me listen to that noise you call music.”
Buffy was waiting in the library when Oz turned back. As soon as he was dressed and out of the cage, she rushed over to give him a hug. “Good news, boyfriend-mine. Well, sort of good news anyway. You didn’t kill Teresa; a vampire enemy of mine did. We thought he left town, but apparently he’s still around. Oh, and I got rid of Cain by bending his gun.”
“How dangerous is he?” Oz asked, referring to Spike. It was so cool he had a girlfriend that could bend a gun.
“Ehh, he’s good, but at least we haven’t come across any prophecies that say he’ll kill me,” she answered without thinking.
Fighting the urge to smack herself on the head for that slip, Buffy tried to distract him, “Long story. Right now let’s just bask in the happiness that we have three and a half weeks before you go furry again.”
Oz gave her a kiss, then declared, “You’re incredible, you know that?”
She shrugged nonchalantly, inwardly doing her own version of the Snoopy dance at his words – and his kiss. “You just say that ‘cause you’re my boyfriend and you have to.”
Gazing into her eyes, Oz grew solemn. “Seriously, Buffy. Thank you for being so understanding about this.”
“I finally found a guy who is caring, decent…can go out during the day. Why would I give that up because he has a few bad days every month?” she answered sincerely. “Heck, you’ll probably want to steer clear of me a few days, too,” Buffy said to lighten the mood.
Oz pulled her into another hug. “Nope, can’t. That would mean six days apart, and that’s way too many. What about Xander and Willow?” he asked, worried her friends wouldn’t accept him when they found out the truth.
“Willow wants the details, and Xander is just happy that I’m not interested in Angel anymore. He still may give you a hard time, but that’s his best friendly duty.”
A/N: Next…A different choice of costumes for Halloween. Plus, a tragic choice leads to somebody’s death.