At the sound of Buffy's voice Oz leaped backwards expecting some attack from her; she just stood there. Not being used to his wolf form, he didn't land quite as gracefully as he'd liked. Getting back to his feet Oz resisted the urge to growl at the three of them in an attempt to wipe the smirks off their faces.
“You know, for something that just helped save us, he's a little clumsy.” Xander quipped.
“Xander! Be nice!” Willow said, kneeling down and scratching Oz behind his ear which he found to be strangely peaceful.
“Wills, he's a dog. He can't understand us.” responded Xander, leaving Oz thankful that they didn't suspect anything. Not he thought that they should.
“I don't think that's a dog guys, Buffy chimed in “That's a wolf or something.” She knelt down and tentatively reached out a hand towards Oz. When Oz didn't react, Buffy went to scratch Oz's ear like Willow but both girls were pulled back by a slightly panicked Xander.
“Wolf as in werewolf that killed people less than two weeks ago?!” Xander's voice rose. Willow hit him.
“Keep your voice down, she said looking round “people might hear...”
“There just us three here Willow. And Xander, it's not a full moon so this wolf, ergo not a werey kind.” Buffy explained triumphantly.
“Still a wolf Buff!” Xander cried.
“A wolf who is just sitting there letting Willow scratch his ears. We better run before she takes him for a walk!” Buffy sarcastically replied.
“Maybe we should start walking again rather than waiting or those vampires to come back with their buddies?” Willow said, taking advantage of Xander's inability to think of a comeback.
“That's a good point. Wolfy here isn't going to be around forever, Xander said “We should probably move before he decides to rip one of our throats out because, hey, still a wolf!”
“Wimp.” Buffy and Willow said simultaneously.
“Absolutely, I like my throat where it is! Xander replied “So, ladies?” He offered an arm each to Buffy and Willow.
“Bye puppy.” said Willow before she and Buffy each took one of Xander's arms and walked away. Oz sat and watched them leave until they had gone round a corner. Then he turned around and went back to his clothes, feeling a bit uncertain at how this had went.
The doors of the library burst open in a very dramatic fashion and both its inhabitants, Oz and Willow, looked up to see Cordelia Chase stride into the room.
“You know, when you ask people to meet you you should turn up on time rather than twenty minutes later!” Willow immediately snapped at Cordelia. Cordelia paused for a moment and looked at Willow.
“I am on time.” She said, seeming nonplussed at Willow's annoyance.
“You told us to get here twenty minutes ago. You're here now. So not on time!” Willow practically yelled getting to her feet.
“Oh! Well I didn't want to be her before you two turn up 'cause that's totally pointless. So I asked you guys to come in early.” Cordelia explained, not quite able to keep a smile from her face or a patronising tone from her voice.
“Twenty minutes early?” Oz joined in, raising an eyebrow.
“Whatever! We're all here now, let's just move on.” Cordelia attempted to finish the conversation. Oz and Willow, knowing they wouldn't win any argument, let her.
“Well?” Cordelia asked after about a minute's silence.
“Cordy, you didn't tell us why you wanted to meet.” Willow said.
“Oh. It's the Zeitgeist report thing. I want to get a good grade so I want to go over it with you two because you two are, like, smart.” Cordelia explained.
“Couldn't we just do that in class or study hall or something?” asked an exasperated Willow.
“Well, no. I don't want to be seen associating with you two. Cordelia replied “Well, maybe Oz but only because he's in a band!”
“Fine! Let's just do this!” grumbled Willow, sitting back down at the table.
“Great!” Cordelia smiled, clapped her hands together and sat down at the table. After ten seconds of silence Oz spoke up.
“You still haven't told us the problem.”
“Oh! Right. Well, I read that Trask report online. You know I had to pay to read it? Well, not me paying obviously but it had to be paid for. Anyway, this Trask guy wants to, like, kill all of the mutants using giant robots. Which is kinda weird, I mean anybody who has seen Terminator knows robots, bad idea.”
“He wants to kill all mutants?” Oz cut in.
“Like I was going to say before someone cut in, Cordelia glared at Oz “He's a little bit wacko.”
“I'll say.” Willow agreed.
“Anyway, Cordelia glared at Willow now “If I can get a word in, Trask is in favour of lining up mutants and shooting them using robots. Which is a bit excessive. So I kinda agree that mutants, big problem. But giant robots, also big problem.”
“So you want to kill mutants just not with robots?” Willow asked.
“Not exactly. I mean, mutants, very dangerous. Look at New York! But I think that maybe there should some kind of method for preventing mutants.”
“How exactly do you prevent mutants? It's by definition a random error in the copying of DNA from the parent to the child that since it's random it's impossible to predict and-”
“Sterilisation!” Cordelia yelled, cutting off Willow and almost making Oz fall off his chair at the sudden noise.
“No thanks,” Oz said once he had regained his balance “I'm good.”
“Not you! Cordelia replied, standing up “Mutants! If mutants are sterilised then they can't have little mutant babies. Hence no more mutants and problem solved!”
“Isn't that the same as Trask was trying to do?” asked Willow.
“No! My way is humane, Trask's way involves Skynet and the end of the world!” Cordelia said.
“That's still killing all the mutants.” pointed out Oz.
“But nicely!” protested Cordelia.
“I'm not a big fan of the killing route. I mean mutants can be dangerous but they're still alive, hey don't deserve to just be killed. Willow argued. “Sterilisation may be a humane way of wiping out mutants but it's still killing all of the mutants.”
“Whatever, Cordelia said “I just wanted stuff for my project and I've got that now. Thanks you two!” With that Cordelia left the library leaving Oz feeling a bit dismayed at her attitude towards mutants. However his mood was brightened slightly at thinking of Willow arguing against her. Maybe he thought it wasn't that bad.
Since it was evening and Oz wasn't yet thirty, he was at the Bronze. Not playing tonight he had spent all his time dancing and talking to Willow, and occasionally one of her friends. Now though the bands that had been playing finished about twenty minutes ago and the recorded music that was playing had almost ended.
The lights turned on just as Oz and Willow were walking through the door. Oz put his arm round Willow and she did the same back. Both of their voices were hoarse from trying to talk over the music back in the Bronze so neither made conversation as they walked back home.
Oz used the silence to go over things in his head. One thing in particular had been in the back of his mind all day; whether he should come out as a mutant to Willow. His reasoning to keep quiet so far had been based on the obvious prejudice that mutants face and his fear of becoming ostracised by society if it became common knowledge. However Willow's comments in her debate with Cordelia had given Oz hope and a voice inside him had been saying Willow could be trusted and this voice had been slowly getting louder all day.
They stopped walking and looking round Oz could see they had reached Willow's house already. Willow gave Oz a quick kiss.
“Thanks for walking me home.” She said.
“It's what I do.” Oz smiled back. Willow turned to head inside and Oz hesitated for a second.
Willow stopped walking and turned back to look at Oz.
“What is it?” She asked.
“There's something I need to tell you, Oz took a deep breath “Remember that wolf that saved you from some vampires?”
Willow nodded, unsure where this was going. Oz though, took another deep breath and started his change into wolf. Stopping halfway, before his clothes tore but far enough in for there to be a noticeable difference Oz refused to give himself a moment to enjoy his sharpened senses and instead focused on Willow.
“That was me. I'm a mutant.”
Willow didn't react so Oz decided to make the first move. Turning back to human he reached out for Willow's hand.
At the feel of contact between the two of them Willow snatched her hand away and took a couple of uneasy steps backwards and away from Oz.
“St-stay away from me!” Willow stammered before turning and running into her house, slamming the front door behind her.
Oz felt like someone had just torn out his insides. He kept his hand out in front of him as though Willow was still there for him to reach out for. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply trying to distance himself from what just happened. Then he felt someone take his hand.
“That didn't go to well did it?”
Opening his eyes at the sound of the voice, Oz found a woman in her late thirties standing in front of him.
“Who are you? What are you doing?”
“My name is Amelia Voght and I have come to offer you a choice.” The woman said, cutting off Oz's string of questions.
“What choice?” asked Oz.
“A place in Genosha.”
Oz paused before replying and looked up at Willow's window. She hadn't even turned on the light. Oz breathed deeply yet again and turned back to Voght.
“OK. I'm in.”