|Primary Characters:||Willow, Angel, Oz|
|Warning:||some m/m sex|
|Description:||Willow wants Oz back so she goes to see Angel and persuades him to help out. Oz is in big trouble so Angel shows up just in time. In the meantime, Willow is being comforted by Doyle.|
Angel didn’t have any premonition when he went to answer the door that night. He expected it merely to be another job, another client with another monster for him to fight. But when he opened the door, Willow was standing there as if it hadn’t been more than a year since they last met. If Angel had had a heart that was still beating, it would have leapt in his chest. As it was, he felt as if time stopped moving for a second. He was perfectly happy with Jenny, and he and Will had settled into a routine that worked for both of them. But Willow, she would always be special. Now she was back in his life.
“Aren’t you going to ask me in?”
“Of course. You mortals aren’t bound by the same rules we are, but of course I haven’t forgotten my manners. Anything wrong?”
There had seemed to be something not quite right about Willow’s face. And his question appeared to bring the problem up to the surface. To Angel’s alarm, her face crumpled up and she began to cry. Without thinking, Angel pulled her into his arms and held her, while she composed herself.
“I guess the answer to that one is yes. Come on, tell me all about it. You aren’t hurt? Your family? Buffy?”
“Buffy? Why would there be anything wrong with her? No. No one’s been injured if that’s what you mean. It’s just that I’m hurting – inside.”
“I’m listening. Please, sit down. We have all night. The others are busy.”
Angel smiled a little when he recalled just what was keeping Jenny and Will busy in the other room. Doyle might show up later, but he knew they wouldn’t be disturbed by him. Angel had hardly ever known anyone that tactful. So he led Willow over to the comfortable sofa over by the wall.
“Want to tell me about it?”
Willow sniffled a little, blew her nose and began her strange tale.
“Oz and I were so happy.”
This hurt Angel a bit, but he forced himself to continue listening in way he hoped was supportive and considerate. After all, whatever made Willow happy, made him happy.
“Yes. I know. Go on.”
Again, Willow’s eyes seemed to brim over with tears, but she managed to control herself and continued her story.
“Then one day I found out he had cheated on me. With another werewolf. A girl werewolf.”
“He did? Do you want me to – have a talk with him?”
“You mean punish him? No.”
“Ok. Let’s hear the rest of it.”
“Well, eventually he came back, and he was ever so sorry, but he’d hurt me so badly I couldn’t just take him back. So I lied to him. Told him I was in love with someone else.”
Angel liked to think that Willow still had feelings for him, though he knew a relationship between them could not be allowed to happen again.
The word came out with a touch of distaste. He had mixed emotions about Xander, to say the least.
“You and Tara? And Oz believed you? He must be almost as stupid as Xander.”
“Oz isn’t stupid at all. He just always believed everything I told him in the past. Why should he doubt me now? And Tara’s my best friend. Better than Buffy, or even Xander. She backed me up once she knew what I was trying to do.”
“Ok. What happened?”
“He believed me, like I said, and he was really hurt. But I think he knew he deserved it.”
“I see. So what’s the problem?”
“I miss him, Angel. I want him back. But he’s gone. He just took off. And it’s all my fault. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on him. He wasn’t himself when he was with that werewolf girl.”
That was something Angel could relate to, despite himself. How many times had he stumbled across some unforgiveable sin commited by Angelus? Something he had to try to make up for, even if it was most likely impossible.
“You know, I never really understood what you saw in that kid, and now he’s cheated on you. Are you sure you want him back?”
“Angel, you’re not jealous?”
Willow’s eyes looked slightly less sad at the thought of such a romantic possibility.
“How can I be jealous when I’m involved with someone else – with two other people? I just – It’s just that I still love you so much.”
“Oh, Angel, I love you too, but I need Oz.”
Angel knew he would most likely regret it, but he couldn’t deny Willow anything she wanted.
“I understand. Ok. I’ll find him and bring him back to you. Don’t worry about it.”
“You’d do that for me?”
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Willow. You know that. I only wish -“
But did he wish that he didn’t have Jenny? No, that wasn’t true. It was just amazing how he could still be in love with all the women he had ever loved.
“Me too. Please be careful, ok? If it’s that time of the month -“
“No werewolf can harm me, you know that. Stay here. Doyle will look after you. Jenny – uh – Jenny and Will are a little busy. She’s teaching him about computers and things like that. A bit beyond me, but then I guess you can’t teach old vampires new tricks. Where did you last see Oz? Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”
Willow did have a vague idea and she gave Angel all the details she could think of that might help locate Oz. After hugging Angel goodbye, she felt a lot better. The talk about computers made her decide to play a little with the one that was on Angel’s, or most likely Jenny’s desk. But they didn’t have any games at all, and even if they had, there just wasn’t enough RAM to do anything fun. Surfing too went a little slowly for that reason, so she soon tired of that.
She looked around the room to find something to pass the time. When she left Sunnydale, she had only thrown a few things into her backpack and taken off, without really having made a plan. Of course, Angel and the others would let her stay in this place, but right now, she was getting bored and needed something to do.
Angel had mentioned that Jenny and Will were here, and when he had told her about that, his eyes had wandered in the direction of a door on the left. She assumed that they would be in there. So she knocked on the door, and receiving no reply, she stepped through. Looking around for her friends, she noticed a big bed over by the window and –
Willow’s face took on a pretty pink shade. Apparently Angel hadn’t been kidding about their being busy. This was something the innocent Willow hadn’t bargained for and she intended to back out again quickly, before she was spotted. Too late. Both faces turned in her direction.
Jenny sounded absolutely crushed to have been caught in this situation by a former student and friend.
“It’s not the way it looks – well, yes it is, but right now it’s just an educactional aid. I find that Will has a difficult time concentrating, and if I keep him like this, he’ll listen to me.”
Will grinned suggestively and winked at Willow.
“But feel free to join in at any time, love.”
But Willow just smiled, waved and backed out into Angel’s office again. Who would have thought her computer teacher, ms Callender would be so wild? Even if she was now a vampire.
On her way out, she backed into someone, and she shrieked. This business with Oz had unnerved her badly and anyway she had learned to fear the unknown in the past couple of years. Anything might be a threat. But the face she looked into when she turned around was sweet, and – the young man was almost as handsome as Angel.
“Hello. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Who are you? A friend of Angel’s?”
“You could say that. I’m Doyle.”
“You’re Irish too?”
“And a vampire?”
“No. I’m sort of a demon. Half demon.”
Seeing the redheaded girl’s confusion and incipient fear, Doyle did his best to reassure her.
“But I’m not really evil. What I mean is, I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Oh. Good. I’m not going to hurt you either.”
“That’s a relief. So, are you visiting Angel?”
“Yes. Doyle, did he tell you anything about me?”
“That depends. On who you are.”
“Sorry. I guess I should have introduced myself. Willow.”
“So he did tell you about me?”
“I see. He never mentioned you. Are you -?”
It took Doyle a while to figure out what the pretty redhead was asking, but when he did, he blushed. Not a familiar sensation to the half-demon.
“No. Absolutely not. I’m not -“
“Sorry. You’re just so -“
Willow bit her lip before she finished the sentence, revealing how attractive she really found the half-demon. But she sternly told herself that if she wasn’t here to get back with Angel, she sure wasn’t going to complicate her life further by getting involved with this new guy. Oz was her first priority, as he had been ever since he walked into her life.
On the other hand – He had cheated on her. And she hadn’t hesitated to make up the rather unlikely story about her and Tara. It had been a spur of the moment thing, and it would never have worked with Xander or Angel. Angel would only have wished her and Tara all the best, provided of course that he wouldn’t have seen through the lie right from the start.
And Xander – well Xander would have been ecstatic. No punishment at all. Willow was innocent, but she wasn’t quite innocent enough not to know that Xander’s first words would be something along the lines of “cool, can I watch the two of you together?”. It was difficult to imagine that once Xander had been the center of her universe. But that was the old Willow. The insecure, geeky little Willow from before her slaying days.
Doyle studied the redhead speculatively. All he had heard of her from Angel had made him curious. She seemed to be such an unlikely partner to Angel. But then the blond English vampire was even more unlikely. It was beyond Doyle why Angel would choose to sleep with Will, when he had such a hot babe as Jenny around.
But then maybe the threesome was what attracted them all. He hadn’t had the chance to find out. Living in California didn’t necessarily mean you explored all options. Perhaps that had been an oversight. But he had never really felt motivated to try.
“Can I get you anything? Or perhaps you’d like to go out for a meal or something?”
Willow hesitated. She had been too wrapped up in her pain to worry about meals and other creature comforts. Yes, she was really hungry. And why shouldn’t she go out with Doyle? It would feel great to be seen in this city with a guy like that. Her self-esteem could use a boost about now.
“I’d love to. Do you have anywhere special in mind?”
“Depends on what kind of food you’d prefer.”
“Something light. It’s late. I wouldn’t want to overdo it. Once I went to a party at a friend’s house and overate, and ended up having the most terrible nightmare.”
“Then I wouldn’t dream of putting you through that again. I think I know just the place. Shall we?”
He took her downstairs to where he had his car parked and with his old world charm, opened the door to her. Oz was always that polite and thoughtful and Willow felt a bit sentimental again. Where could her boyfriend be? What if he had ended up in trouble somehow?
Men were such babies. They always needed a woman to bail them out. Not that Oz was anywhere near as foolish as Xander, and unlike Angel and Will he had never been very adventurous. If only he hadn’t become a werewolf in the first place. Things would have been so different if he hadn’t.
Two hours later, Willow was feeling rather distracted to say the least. Doyle’s dark eyes met hers in a way that led her to believe he was as taken with her as she was with him. All she had heard about charming Irish men seemed to be true. By the time Doyle asked the waiter for the check, he had taken Willow’s hand in his. He had been so sympathetic when she told him about Oz.
Could there really be this strong attraction between them after only knowing each other for about – Willow tried to calculate the time but was distracted by the wonderful sensation of being the object of an attractive guy’s attention – something like three hours? Yes, apparently there could be.
“I said, I’ll take you back to Angel’s place. You must be tired.”
“Oh. Well, yes, I guess so. Thanks, Doyle. It’s been a lovely evening.”
“I think so too. Angel had only nice things to say about you, but I never realized just how charming you would be.”
“Thank you. You’re very nice yourself.”
Nice wasn’t exactly the word that first popped up in Willow’s brain when she contemplated the half-demon before her. And to her embarrassment, Doyle seemed to have guessed what was on her mind. His smile made Willow blush again. Only Angel seemed to have that effect on her. Not even Oz could make her feel this way. She loved him. But this was like an intoxication. Sternly she told herself to calm down.
Soon she was back at Angel’s office, and Doyle opened the door to let her in. He didn’t show any signs of wanting to leave. She found that she didn’t have a problem with that. Far from it. This trip had turned out to be slightly different from what she’d expected. Doyle asked her if she wanted a drink, but Willow declined. She felt her head was in a daze already, and she didn’t need to intoxicate herself further. Angel’s stand-in host didn’t pour himself a drink either. But he sat down beside her on the sofa.
From then on things progressed rapidly. It didn’t take Willow long to find herself wrapped in a close embrace, and Doyle’s lips met her own. After that, her thoughts got a little disjointed. They would have remained there until dawn or longer, if Jenny and Will hadn’t happened to open the door and walk in on them. Will’s insolent grin made Willow blush again. There was another guy who had that effect on her. Far worse was finding herself in this state of undress under the curious gaze of her former computer teacher.
“Oh, ms Callender. Hello again.”
“Hello, Willow. Having a nice visit?”
“Yes, very. Thank you. Doyle was just showing me around the city and -“
“And treating you to a private tour. I’m envious, pet. This Irish gentleman seems to be a bit prejudiced against us English blokes. Why don’t you ever want to treat me to anything like that, Doyle?”
“You know why, Will. I’m not prejudiced against English guys in particular. American guys don’t get preferential treatment either. As you ought to know by now. Ladies, on the other hand -“
“You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Leave Doyle alone, Will. Be a good boy.”
The look Will gave Jenny was so filled with adoration, Willow guessed that the blond vampire had only been joking when he pretended to flirt with Doyle. Anyway, Will couldn’t be that insatiable, could he? Willow didn’t think she wanted to know the answer to that one.
“It’s nice to see you again, Willow. How are your studies going?”
“I hope nothing’s wrong back home?”
“No. I mean yes, in a way. It’s Oz.”
By now Willow had managed to pull up the top of her dress and rearrange her hair a little. She felt a little less at a disadvantage. As soon as the door had opened, Doyle had retreated to a more polite distance, and managed to straighten out his clothes as well. Willow wasn’t sure, but she suspected he could move faster than an ordinary human, just like a vampire. But she wasn’t sure. At the time she had been unable to concentrate on his appearance.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Now that their arrival had broken up the intimate scene on the sofa, Jenny sat down in between the participants. Will swooped down on the other side of Doyle, ostensibly to hit on the half-demon, but really to listen to Willow’s story. Posturing was part of Will’s game, but he honestly wanted to offer his assistance in any way possible.
So Willow again told her story. Jenny was very sympathetic, offering all kinds of advice. Will seemed supportive as well, though his advice all ran along the lines of cheating to pay Oz back, and the person he suggested she should avail herself of was, not surprisingly, himself.
It was the first time Doyle had heard the entire story behind Willow’s trip to L A. How this guy Oz could have even contemplated cheating on such a fascinating and attractive person as Willow was a mystery to him, unless it all came down to the boy’s condition. Werewolves were as much slaves to their natures as vampires, he knew that. Perhaps what had happened hadn’t been entirely the boy’s fault.
And now Willow’s deception had created a whole situation that seemed to be getting out of hand. All of her friends apparently believed she was involved with her friend Tara. That might comlicate matters for her. Doyle didn’t know. Due to his nature, he was a bit distant from ordinary human beings and their affairs.
All he knew was that Willow was deeply in love with this guy Oz. That hurt more than he wanted to admit. After only a few hours, the redheaded girl was already important to him. And he had thought he had seen something in her eyes that led him to believe she felt the same way about him.
Looking at Angel and his lovers, Doyle had to conclude that perhaps it was perfectly possible to love more than one person. He also knew that he wouldn’t willingly step aside unless Willow expressly asked him to get out of her life.
As Angel began his search, he again questioned his decision to find Oz and bring him back. The guy had cheated on Willow, hadn’t he? But his conscience wouldn’t let him leave it at that. While a werewolf, Oz wasn’t responsible for his actions. That in itself made it unfair to blame him. But it still didn’t make Angel feel better about the whole thing. Was it really in Willow’s best interests to be involved with a werewolf? Or a vampire for that matter.
Xander wasn’t the only human guy in the world. It made Angel sad to think of Willow with another man, but his love for her made him want to see her happy and safe, regardless of his own feelings. So he continued his search, and eventually he uncovered a lead.
With a worried frown on his face, Angel forced himself to consider the implications of his lead. He hadn’t heard anything from Drusilla for a long time. Yet another of his unforgiveable sins. Turning the girl into what she was now. He knew he should have killed her years ago, but his guilt made it difficult to carry out the death sentence. If it hadn’t been for him – or Angelus – she would never have become this monster.
And now his weakness might have claimed another victim. An innocent human, despite his periodical condition, and – this was something that particularly tore Angel up inside – someone precious to his Willow. No, not his Willow. Not anymore. But he would still do anything to see the redheaded girl happy.
Drusilla was powerful and strong, but Angel knew that if he could only free himself from his feelings of guilt, he was stronger. He had made her, so naturally his seniority gave him an edge. She knew that of course and never failed to play on his weakness. But this time, with Willow’s happiness at stake, Angel wasn’t going to fall for her game. He would find Oz and bring him back to Willow, and if he had the opportunity, he would kill Drusilla and put a stop to all her evil, once and for all.
What he couldn’t understand was why Drusilla had abducted the werewolf boy in the first place. As Angel knew only too well, werewolf blood tasted awful. There was something about this that didn’t make sense. And he feared that Willow was somehow the target for the attack. But he refused to let himself be rushed. If he had learned anything in his centuries of lonely existence, apart from sorrow and guilt, he had learned to approach an enemy silently, to plan his move and to strike when his prey least expected it.
By the time he was close enough to the building Drusilla must now be using as her hideout, Angel scaled the wall, still more silent than a cat. At least some things didn’t change. Drusilla’s blood thirst and hunger for revenge made her deaf and blind to any attacker. She must still trust in her powers and the visions. Would they have warned her of his approach? Something told Angel they hadn’t. He had senses and powers of his own. And nothing in this building seemed to be whispering of a trap. Not for him.
He hoped he was in time. If Drusilla’s game was to kill Oz in some horrible way as a punishment for Willow – Yes, that was it. Willow was the one who had brought both Angel and Will back. She had cost Drusilla her two favorite lovers. And knowing Drusilla as he did, Angel knew it was perfectly possible for her to wait for years if necessary for her revenge to be carried out. Time meant nothing to a vampire. They had all of eternity. That might sound appealing to some fools. Angel knew better. All Drusilla needed to do was make sure she struck before Willow’s lifetime was over.
Cautiously, Angel peered through the window. It was partially broken, and though he knew Drusilla loved her creature comforts, the forces of nature only marginally affected vampires. Cold, heat, winds, none of that would bother her much. So the derelict old warehouse must be ideal for Drusilla’s purposes. It was isolated, yet not too far from the city. There would be plenty of prey to feed on, but no great opposition, if she avoided too blatant displays of cruelty. She must know that neither Angel nor the Slayer would tolerate that.
He could see nothing inside. His eyes penetrated the darkness easily, but Drusilla must be somewhere deeper inside the building. Of course he had known all along that he would have to enter her territory. And this time he didn’t know exactly how many devoted slaves she might command. It didn’t take him long to find a way in.
He scanned the room for any trace of his prey. Her scent was everywhere, but there was no sign of her or her prisoner. But now he noticed something he hadn’t seen before. There were a few smaller rooms around the sides. The doors appeared to have been reinforced recently and Angel knew Drusilla could be in either one of those, or possibly not.
But she was behind one of those doors. As soon as Angel approached it, he knew. She could never mask her presence to him. He knew her scent far too well after all the years they’d spent together. That was something best buried in the deep reaches of Angel’s mind. So he repressed all thoughts of the past and broke through the door. This time, he would go for the direct approach. He had managed to get this far undetected, now he would use the element of surprise.
His success was greater than he had expected. He took Drusilla completely by surprise. And when the door swung open, he saw why. She wasn’t wearing any clothes. Angel had to bite his lip to squash his reaction to her lovely form. Her body might be beautiful but her soul was somewhere else and what made that body move and act was something far from beautiful. No one knew that better than Angel.
Now that she knew she had been detected, Drusilla hissed and screeched like a startled cat. But like a cat she could suddenly transform herself into an affectionate kitten. Despite everything, or maybe just to mock Angel, she did just that. She moved off the bed in a graceful movement, revealing what she had been covering with her body.
Oz. The boy was naked on the bed, shackled to the wall, and also, Angel winced at the sight, covered with small nicks, cuts and bites. Drusilla had been enjoying herself again, in her own way. But Angel immediately saw that she had not been feeding. There was something far more subtle about it, yet not subtle at all. This was all about basic, sexual need. She had been trying to rape Oz. There was no other word for it.
What a perfect punishment for Willow. That must be what Drusilla had been thinking. Though he didn’t want to, Angel knew exactly how his childe’s mind worked. After all, he had himself been the victim of many such cruel games, though it was supposedly impossible for the childe to turn on her sire.
But he had been weakened by his love for her and let her get away with anything. No. Angelus had. The distinction might be too fine for someone like Xander to understand it, but it existed. Angel took some comfort in that fact.
But he had to get Oz away from Drusilla right away. That boy was no vampire. He could not possibly derive any pleasure from this game of pain.
By now, Drusilla had recovered herself and let her face regain its insidious beauty. The vampire mask smoothed itself into a human-like face again. But Angel knew that the monster was there all along, no matter how lovely the cover.
Drusilla stretched, and licked her lips. Could she really believe that those simple tricks would work on him again? She must know what priorities he lived by these days. No. Drusilla was no fool. She knew. But this was her way of taunting him. He refused to let himself be affected.
“Have you come to join me in my little game? Look. The boy is just the way you like them. Innocent, frightened. I remember a time when you would have thrown yourself on top of him and -“
“But those days are gone. Give him to me, Drusilla. You know I can’t let you do this.”
Angel was tired. There were times when all his years of wandering the Earth dragged him down. This was one of those nights. Drusilla. Her cruelty that he had unleashed on the world. The boy on the bed. All the reminders of his past.
Drusilla pouted, moved back towards the bed and began to stroke Oz in a most intimate place. Angel could see how the boy squirmed to get away from Drusilla’s expert hands. That was a mistake, but Oz could not help himself. Angel knew that. Just as he knew that if Drusilla didn’t get what she wanted she would take something else instead.
Killing turned her on as much as sex. Sometimes more so. Those long, blood red finger nails could inflict excruciating pain. And the red wasn’t nail polish, Angel could smell it. There was blood from her last meal. Some of it had to belong to Oz.
But now it seemed Oz was going to be successful in evading Drusilla’s hands after all. Not that on top of everything else. From what Angel knew about werewolves, it was decidedly bad for them to begin the change ahead of time. The moon was nowhere near full but Oz’s body began its transformation anyway. It must be Drusilla’s doing. Extreme stress could produce the condition. Angel remembered reading about it. Angelus’ firsthand experience with werewolves had been few and very brief.
He had to put a stop to the change before it was too late. Oz might not die, but if he was weakened enough, there was no telling what the consequences would be. But first Angel had to deal with Drusilla.
“Alright. Let’s play. Come closer. You were always particularly lovely in that outfit.”
Drusilla smirked and let her hands move sensuously across her smooth white skin. But he knew better than to expect her to be taken in that easily. Still, she did move a little closer. Angel allowed his arousal to show. There would be no point in acting. She would see through that in seconds.
“Did you miss me, Angel?”
“Did you miss me?”
“You know I did. But you’re not much fun anymore.”
“Maybe I can change that. Just let me have the boy. Look at him. He’s not going to be any good to you anyway like this.”
“Oh. How boring. But you won’t have much use for him either. So what do you want him for?”
“I can bring him back. There’s a time for force and there’s a time for gentleness.”
“Gentleness? Don’t be tedious, Angel. What’s the fun in that?”
“Watch and learn.”
Angel didn’t like having to talk that way about Oz. For the boy’s own sake and for Willow’s, not to mention his own. But he didn’t think Oz would understand him anyway. So he forced himself to walk over to the bed, all the time making sure he didn’t turn his back on Drusilla. Fair play was a concept completely alien to her. If he did this right, he would distract Drusilla and bring Oz back to his human form.
But Angel didn’t want to consider what the boy might think of him once he was back to normal. There would be a transition period during which Angel thought the werewolf could understand human speech and take in his surroundings. He would have to accept the remedy, whether he liked it or not. And Angel would have to face the humilation. This was the only way he could think of that might get Oz away from Drusilla.
Now he was standing beside the violently thrashing creature on the bed. It was trying to break free of the shackles but Drusilla knew her tools well. They wouldn’t break. Angel remembered – But doing so would only mar his concentration. He began to stroke Oz’s thigh, all the time being forced to withdraw everytime the creature’s movements became too violent. Touch wouldn’t be sufficient.
So he began to speak softly to Oz in Gaelic. Drusilla wouldn’t understand, and neither would the boy. But it wasn’t the meaning of the words that mattered. It was the soothing tone of voice. Despite that, Angel was begging the boy’s forgiveness for what he was doing to him. Somewhere inside that hairy, growling beast was a gentle, sweet boy who had only made Willow happy in the short time they had together before he was bitten and infected. That was the person Angel was trying to reach.
His hands began to move up across Oz’s chest. Angel wanted to avoid touching the more intimate parts, but he knew that if he merely petted the boy like he would a puppy or kitten, Drusilla’s interest would fade. And if she tired of the new game, she would attack. he might get out of there alive, but he didn’t give anything for Oz’s chances.
So he forced himself to make his fingers rub the nipple that began to show as his hands were having more and more of an effect. The hair was disappearing, the brutish features relaxed into a human face. Still there was no coherent speech, but Angel knew that soon enough Oz would be himself again.
“You can do better than that, Angel. I know you can. Spike always loved those hands of yours.”
Thanks, Drusilla. You just had to remind me of that too, didn’t you? Trying to shut out Drusilla’s words, Angel forced himself to continue. She was going to tire of the game in seconds if he didn’t step up the pace. And he knew what that something was. It might not be the most unpleasant task he had performed in his time on Earth, but this wasn’t some nameless victim, it was someone he knew. And worst of all, the boy belonged to Willow.
But he forced his hand to move down to the spot he knew Drusilla would most enjoy seeing touched. This should be easy. After all, you’ve done it a million times. To yourself and others. It was working. As Oz’s body became more and more aroused, the werewolf traits vanished. Any time now, Angel expected the vacant look in the boy’s eyes to turn to realization and revulsion, once his mind returned to normal. So he let his hand move faster, as if he was really trying to bring Oz to climax.
That was the moment he had been waiting for. From the sounds Drusilla was making, he knew it was time. Oz was human again, and Drusilla was distracted. In that second Angel made his move. She was taken completely by surprise. And her sire was stronger. His attack caught her off guard and he pinned her down on the floor. Despite himself, Angel felt his own body react, the way it hadn’t before, though he had been careful to make it seem that way. Drusilla naked beneath him.
But the memory of Jenny’s dark eyes filled with reproach and contempt made it easy to focus on restraining Drusilla. The moment of arousal passed. Appearances aside, this wasn’t a lovely woman. This creature was his enemy, and if he had arrived a little later, her victim would have been dead.
Now the stream of abuse flowing from Drusilla’s lips told him she was giving up. She might be strong and cruel but she was also quite lazy at heart. In a manner of speaking. This was it. He knew he should kill her and be done with it. But he didn’t have any slaying pike and the thought of drinking her blood made him sick.
Again he was failing. The thought of all her innocent victims made him even sadder, but he knew that he was going to let her go. What made it worse was the knowledge that she had known all along. Counted on it. Her insane laughter confirmed what he had just realized.
“Alright, Angel. But we’ll meet again. And tell that redheaded witch of yours that this was just a little message. If she crosses me again, the boy will pay for it.”
Again Angel wished he had the strength to finish what Angelus had started. But he knew he didn’t. So he got off her and moved back towards the bed. He didn’t look at Oz, but he knew he had to make sure Drusilla wasn’t up to any last minute treachery. But it seemed she had had enough. Faster even than Angel’s eyes could see, the vampire was gone.
Now he had to turn and face Oz. He heard the boy’s ragged breathing and knew that it had to be his doing, though recovering from the werewolf state might explain some of it. But putting the unpleasantness off would only delay the inevitable. So Angel turned and looked at Oz. He should find something to break the shackles that bound the boy to the wall. But he might as well get this over with.
Oz’s face turned a deep red, but he didn’t look away. He was still breathing hard and his chest was heaving, but the telltale signs were diminishing.
“I – uh – guess I owe you.”
“I’m sorry. There was no other way.”
“Ok. She said she was going to -“
“I know. Forgive me.”
“For – what?”
“For not killing her when I had a chance. When we brought Will back.”
“That’s ok. You loved her once, didn’t you?”
“I should have let Buffy do it. She’s never been sentimental about any vampire.”
“Except for you.”
“I’ll find something to get you out of those.”
For a horrible second Angel thought Oz wanted him to finish what he’d started. But he was wrong.
“You won’t tell anyone?”
“Of course not.”
“I mean about everything. Drusilla was going to kill me, wasn’t she?”
Angel nodded grimly. There was no point trying to deceive Oz.
“Then we tell people that, right? Nothing about the rest of it.”
There was such a desperate pleading in Oz’s voice Angel wanted to shout at him that none of this was the boy’s fault. Drusilla was to blame. And Angelus. Not Oz.
“I won’t say anything you don’t want me to.”
“Thanks. Could you get me out of here now? And if there’s anything left of my clothes.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you something.”
It turned out Oz’s shirt had been torn to shreds by Drusilla’s talons, but the jeans were still more or less intact. The underwear was gone, but Oz hurriedly tried to get the jeans back on anyway. His hands wouldn’t obey him and Angel realized he had to help him.
Neither one of them wanted this enforced proximity, but Angel could tell that Oz was shivering from the shock and needed the protection of the fabric. There was nothing else in the spare building, not even sheets covering the bed. Just the blood-stained mattress. Angel knew Drusilla would count that detail a particular advantage.
Warily, he looked into Oz’s eyes to secure some kind of consent for what he would have to do. After some hesitation, Oz gave it. So Angel hurriedly put the jeans on the boy and retreated to a more comfortable distance. But he could tell Oz was still cold, so he took off his jacket and held it out to the boy on the bed.
It was painful to see how difficult it was for Oz to make his numb wrists and hands obey him. To put a stop to that, Angel once again timidly approached and helped Oz into the jacket. It was too big, but the expensive silk would warm him and that was the main thing.
Perhaps it was ridiculous for a man who should have been dead to be walking around in designer suits, but Angel was prepared to enjoy what small pleasures were still left to him.
“Do you think we could get out of here now? I don’t want Drusilla to have time to recover and plan some new -“
“Ok. I’ll try.”
Oz put his feet on the floor and tried to get up. After a few failed attempts, he fell back on the bed again. Angel could see how he was struggling with himself and finally giving in.
“Would you help me again?”
This was so totally humiliating. First to be caught by that crazy vampire girl, and then – No. Oz refused to dwell on what had followed his capture. Especially the parts connected with Angel. He would just die if anyone found out. Angel was trying his best not to make this any more unpleasant than it had to, but Oz had to force himself not to shy away from the vampire’s touch. Sternly, he told himself not to be silly. What was important was getting out of here before that Drusilla creature came back.
“I left the car quite far away. So I’ll have to carry you. But it’s going to be quick. Don’t be scared. I won’t let you fall.”
Despite everything, Oz’s brilliant mind couldn’t help trying to unravel some vampire secrets.
“Is it true that you guys can fly? Like in that movie, Interview with the vampire.”
“Not really. It may look that way, but we don’t. We can jump very high and climb sheer walls and so on. And run really fast. Like this.”
Desperate to find something to distract them from the earlier embarrassment, Angel began lecturing Oz on vampire lore. At least it would take the boy’s mind off things.
Angel was right. It didn’t take very long for them to reach the car. At last, Oz could get some privacy in the backseat. He was grateful for the vampire’s help, but right now he had had more than enough of being touched. It wasn’t until then he thought to wonder why Angel had shown up at exactly the right time.
Angel cast a glance backwards. He hoped Oz wouldn’t suffer any ill consequences from his premature change. If something was wrong, Angel wasn’t sure what to do about it.
“How did you find me? Or maybe I should ask why did you come after me?”
Willow? Why? She didn’t love him anymore and Oz couldn’t blame her for that. He had betrayed her. Angel might not be human either, but the vampire at least knew to stay faithful to the girl he loved.
The vampire forced himself to let the girl go and made himself smile encouragingly.
“She wants you back. And she was worried about you.”
“She wants me back?”
This temporarily made him forget his ordeal at Drusilla’s hands and Angel’s mortifying cure for his condition.
“But why? She told me she didn’t love me anymore. She told me -“
“I know. It was a lie. You hurt her. So she wanted to hurt you back. But you know Willow, she’s too gentle to want anyone to hurt for long. She regretted what she had done and sent me to find you, before you ended up in trouble. And it seems I got to you just in time.”
The implications of this revelation were stunning. It changed everything. Pulling Angel’s jacket closer about him, Oz allowed himself to hope. If Willow wasn’t in love with Tara – And she wanted him back – To finally learn this, was almost worth everything he had gone through.
“You’re telling the truth? It isn’t just some kind of misguided attempt to take my mind off – things?”
“I’m telling you the truth. No trick. She’s really upset and misses you terribly.”
“You know what, Angel?”
“You’re the best. Thanks. For everything. Even – I know why you had to do it. But you do know I’m not -“
Angel laughed quietly.
“Right. Of course I know that.”
He was about to tell Oz that he wasn’t – either. But what was the point? All his actions spoke against him. And it really didn’t matter. His problem wasn’t whether people thought he was gay or not. If he could trade his situation for that of a gay mortal man, he would, without hesitation. A guilty conscience was what worried him, not some label other people used on a person. Looking closely at Oz, Angel realized that this bothered Oz a lot more.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to laugh. You’re just so obviously straight.”
Oz blushed and looked down. Of course. The boy still didn’t understand that what happened didn’t have anything to do with being gay. His body had betrayed him, but at the same time it had saved his life. But Angel knew that he might not have been able to see things that way either, if he had been in Oz’s situation.
“Take my word for it. You can’t help reacting that way. I never went to school, but you’re a smart guy, you must be able to find some kind of explanation for it. Think about it like this. Willow is scared of spiders. Why? Not because she thinks they’re any threat to her, but just because she can’t stand the sight of them. So knowing they’re not dangerous won’t stop her from almost jumping out of her skin if one crawls across her hand. Ok, not a really good example but that’s all I can think of.”
Oz thought about it for a moment. The example made sense even though it had very little to do with the situation that was on his mind. And Angel’s eagerness to help him come to terms with his own reaction touched him.
“Yeah. I get it. I hope you’re right.”
“I know I’m right. When you live as long as I have, you find out a thing or two about human nature, as well as the way human bodies work. So try to forget about it. It’s not as if I’ll want to dwell on it myself. Whatever you think about me, I didn’t enjoy any of it either.”
What? How could Oz say that he knew that? Or was this just gratitude? Trying to make him feel better about the whole thing.
“I looked at your face. You seemed to be in pain or something.”
“Oh. No. Don’t worry about it. That was just concentration. You know what I was planning. But Drusilla mustn’t find that out until I had the situation under control.”
“I see. So, is Willow at your place?”
“Yes. She came to see me and begged me to find you for her.”
“Was Tara with her?”
“What’s the matter? Don’t you believe me?”
“Yes. I believe you. And it’s not that I’m jealous. Whatever makes Willow happy would make me happy too. It’s just that I miss her so. I would never have cheated on her if I’d been myself. There’s no one like her.”
Fortunately, Oz didn’t seem to make much of Angel’s tone. Or maybe he knew Angel’s feelings for Willow and didn’t judge him for them. Angel was beginning to change his opinion about his rival. This kid was ok. Willow could do a lot worse.
For the rest of the drive back to L A, there wasn’t much talk. Both of them had a lot on their minds. But the conversation had helped Oz recover from the shock a little. When they drove into the underground garage where Angel kept his car, the boy was looking a bit more normal. His eyes didn’t have that scared rabbit look anymore. And though he wasn’t exactly smiling, he didn’t seem to be quite as embarrassed as he had to begin with.
Upstairs, they found Willow asleep on the sofa. The others had retreated into their bedroom. Doyle was nowhere to be seen, so Angel assumed he hadn’t showed up. He was wrong. Will and Jenny must have heard them enter, and within seconds they showed up, prepared to defend Willow from any potential threat. Vampires might not be able to get in without an invitation, but there were plenty of other creatures who could.
Angel’s keen hearing picked up the sound of another person nearby and he turned to find Doyle standing there, looking unusually Irish and visionary. It took Angel another couple of seconds to correctly read the look on his face. Oh. Another rival. He sighed inwardly. Willow was apparently irresistible to most men. The fact that Xander had ignored her for so long wasn’t a reflection on Willow’s powers of attraction, merely more proof of Xander’s stupidity. But Angel didn’t want to think about Xander now.
She looked around and took in the presence of everyone else. Angel could see her eyes dart over to Doyle then back to Oz.
“Oz. He’s hurt. What happened?”
Oz searched desperately in his mind for some kind of explanation that wouldn’t reveal his secret shame.
Jenny and Will kept quiet, waiting for the explanation.
When it became apparent that Oz wasn’t going to find the words, Angel spoke up.
“Willow, don’t be scared, but Drusilla had found Oz. I got him back just in time.”
The redheaded girl’s face turned a very vampire-like white, and her eyes widened in horror. She pushed off the quilt that was covering her and ran to Oz’s side, pulling him into her arms. When she sensed his reaction she looked up at Angel with a question in her eyes.
What could he tell her that wouldn’t make things worse for Oz?
“She was going to hurt him to send a message to you.”
“Me? Why? Oh, because I brought you and Jenny and Will back?”
“Well, me and Will anyway. She doesn’t care about Jenny. Fortunately. But don’t worry about Oz, Willow. He isn’t badly injured. Right, Oz?”
“No. Yes. Angel’s right. I’ll be ok. Honestly. Angel took care of Drusilla.”
Misconstruing Oz’s words, Willow again looked up at Angel, concern filling her lovely eyes.
“Did you -“
Angel should have been able to guess her meaning, but after the night’s upheaval his mind was working more slowly than usually.
“You didn’t have to – kill her?”
“No. I should have. But I couldn’t.”
“I’m glad. You shouldn’t have to be the one to do it.”
“If I were stronger -“
Jenny sensed her lover’s pain and also knew that her other lover would feel the same way, after all, they’d both loved that Drusilla person for years, so she hurriedly thought of a diversion.
“Oz. Why don’t Willow and I take you into the bathroom to clean you up? Those cuts look like they could turn septic if you don’t do anything about it.”
“Ms Callender. Thanks. But I’ll be ok. I’ll do it.”
And Oz gratefully used that excuse to be allowed to clean himself up. Will surprised everyone by acting totally unselfishly for a change.
“I’ll go and find some clothes for him. Some of mine might fit him. And you’d want him to look nice for you, don’t you, pet?”
“What? Oh, thanks Will. That’s very nice of you.”
Jenny grabbed Angel’s chin and forced him to tilt his head upwards. Apparently satisfied her lover hadn’t suffered any serious injuries, Jenny let go. They exchanged a look that helped Angel shed some of his tension from earlier. It would be ok. He still had Jenny.
It wasn’t until now Doyle decided to speak up. He had silently watched the reunion between Willow and her boyfriend. Any hopes he might have had of keeping the redheaded girl to himself were gone. His first impulse was to excuse himself and leave.
But something Angel had told him gave him an idea. It wouldn’t be what he had been dreaming of, but at least, if Willow was interested, he wouldn’t lose her entirely. But he needed to speak to her about it. With a room full of people, that wasn’t all that easy. He tried to catch her eye and now that Oz had left the room he was successful.
Willow realized that she would have to talk to Doyle. Now she was beginning to feel guilty about her actions earlier that night. How could she betray Oz that way, while he was being tortured and nearly killed by Drusilla? What kind of a person was she? But that wasn’t Doyle’s fault, and anyway, she had to admit that she still felt drawn to him.
Jenny seemed to guess what was on her mind, and she dragged Angel with her into the bedroom.
“Come on, darling. Let’s find you a new jacket.”
“What? But I don’t need – Oh, yes. I have to get that jacket.
Besides, if Jenny wanted to hold him for a while, he wouldn’t put up a fight. And obviously Willow needed to talk to Doyle for a moment. Angel forced his thoughts away from that discussion. It was none of his business.
“Well, now you have your man back, safe and sound. I’m happy for you.”
Willow heard the distancing in his voice. He was going to leave. And she didn’t want that, she realized that now. At least if there was a way she could have both of them. If she could do that to Oz. Or if Doyle would accept –
“Thanks. Doyle -“
“I was wondering if -“
Her tone seemed to hint that he might have been right to hope for another solution after all. Maybe he didn’t need to be alone anymore.
“What happened tonight, it was great. I don’t want it to end. But I love Oz, and I could never leave him again. Not when I’ve finally gotten him back. So if you could -“
“Are you asking me to stay? With you and Oz?”
“Yes. Would you?”
“I’ve never done anything like that before. And what would Oz say?”
“That’s it. I don’t know. It would all depend on him.”
“What would I say about what?”
Without their noticing, Oz had finished cleaning himself up and had quietly walked into the room.
“Oz. Come and sit down. You told me you’d guessed about me and Angel and Xander -“
“Yes. Oh. Ok.”
As always, Oz understood her almost without words. But this was so incredible that Willow had to ask anyway, just in case.
“What are you saying?”
“You did ask if I mind about you and Doyle, didn’t you?”
“Uh – yes.”
“And I said I didn’t.”
“Well, when you told me about you and Tara, I was broken up about it. But that was just because you said you didn’t love me anymore. It’s different now. You do still love me, don’t you?”
“Oh, Oz, I always did. But I felt I had to lash out at you for hurting me.”
“I know. I deserved it.”
“No. You didn’t. It was just your werewolf instincts taking over. So I’m really sorry. I swear I won’t ever lie to you again.”
Strangely enough this didn’t make Oz look any happier. Willow was about to ask what was wrong, when both guys started talking at the same time.
“Sorry. You go first, Oz.”
“No, you say what you had to say, man. It’s ok.”
“No, really. You first.”
“Ok. I was just saying that I hope you mean that Doyle and I will both be involved with you. Not each other.”
“That’s exactly what I was going to say.”
“Of course. I know you’re not interested in anything else. Sorry. I should have made that clear.”
“In that case, I’m cool about it.”
“I don’t have a problem with it either. Look, Oz, why don’t Willow and I keep you tied up or something. That way you won’t run off and find some werewolf to play around with.”
“Uh, yes. You’ll have to do that.”
“Are you ok, Oz?”
He knew what she was referring to. Not the relationship. They had both said they were ok about that, and they had meant it. Willow knew him well enough to be able to tell. But what could he say to her? She always saw through him. Whenever he had tried to hide something in the past, she had spotted the deception and the look in her eyes had shamed him.
“Yes, I’m ok. But I’m really tired.”
“Oh. Of course you are.”
Willow looked around the office. The sofa wasn’t very comfortable even for a petite girl like herself. There was no way two guys could sleep on it beside her. Her back still hurt a little from her and Doyle’s –
“But where do we sleep?”
“There’s a guest room over there. That’s where I -“
“And we could all sleep in there?”
Doyle hesitated a little. Would he really be ok about sleeping in the same bed as another guy? Even with Willow in between them it might be a little awkward. But he braced himself. If he was going to be in this relationship, he’d have to learn some time.
“Why not? The bed’s big enough. That is, if you’re ok about it, Oz?”
Oz didn’t feel at all sure about that. He hadn’t thought too much about the reality of the situation until now. But if he didn’t agree, he knew Willow would worry and sooner or later she’d get the entire incident out of him. So he tried to make his voice sound nonchalant about it.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be? But – uh – you’ll be sleeping in between us, right?”
“Absolutely. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.”
“Alright, this way.”
It wasn’t half as difficult as they had imagined. Even though Doyle didn’t sleep quite as a full human would. But he didn’t mind lying close to Willow, listening to her soft breathing. He pressed his nose against her hair and placed a hand on her hip. The other guy kept his distance a bit, but he had just been tortured. It was natural that he’d be a bit wary of getting too close. He must still be in some pain.
Later in the day, Willow woke up feeling unusually happy. It didn’t take her long to remember. Oz. Doyle. And she was with Angel and Jenny and Will. They were far better friends to her than anyone except Tara. Her lovers got out of bed when she did, but the vampires didn’t make an appearance until much later. In the meantime, Doyle took them to a cafe for a late breakfast, well, very late breakfast. It was even a bit late for lunch.
But whatever they called the meal it tasted great. At least Willow thought so. Her appetite had returned. She remembered that she always had more of an appetite when she was in love. That was a bit unusual, she knew. Most people ate less not more, when they felt that way. But who said she had to be like everyone else?
While they were making their way back to Angel’s office, Willow came to the realization that she wanted to stay here. In L A. With the others. And why shouldn’t she? There were colleges and universities here. She would ask Oz how he felt about it, but first she would call home and talk to her mother. Then she’d tell Tara all about Oz and Doyle.
Her mother wasn’t in, so she had to call her back. Tara took so long replying, Willow was beginning to think her friend wasn’t in. And when she finally heard the girl’s voice at the other end of the line, Tara didn’t sound all that happy to hear from her.
“Oh, it’s you, Willow. I’m kind of in the middle of something. Did you get him back ok?”
“Yes, and I met another guy too -“
“I’m really glad for you. But I have a visitor, so -“
“Well, what did you think? Of course it’s a guy. Tell you more about it later. Ok?”
But Tara had already hung up. Willow felt a little hurt. Her pretend girlfriend might have been a little more interested to hear about her new boyfriend. But she forgot all about that, when she caught sight of Doyle’s eyes watching her. Oz still seemed a little subdued, but Willow hoped he would get better soon. He looked ok, physically, but of course being at Drusilla’s mercy must have been traumatic to say the least.
“Look, I’ve come to a decision. I’m staying.”
“In L A. Yes. What do you think?”
Oz looked a bit thoughtful, but then he smiled. He always liked her ideas, that was one of the nice things about him. One of many.
“Yeah. We could go to school here and – What do you think, Doyle?”
“It’s a great idea.”
“What is? All six of us getting together for some really great sex?”
“Will? No. I was talking about -“
“Not so fast, Will. Don’t you think three’s enough?”
“I don’t know. The more the merrier, love. Alright then, Jen. Just joking.”
“That’s what I thought. Good morning, Willow, Oz, Doyle. I couldn’t help overhearing. Something about a good idea?”
“Yes, I just talked to the guys about staying here. In L A. Going to school here. I’d much rather be near you guys.”
Jenny was touched. Willow and Oz had always been her favorite students. She would never forget that it was Willow’s outstanding grasp of magic that had given her her soul back.
“That is a really great idea. You could help out here at the office and -“
“No. I don’t want them to get hurt.”
“Angel! But it would be just like old times. Besides, it would have to be on weekends. I have to study. And Oz too.”
“Willow, please. Nothing would make me happier than to have you right here. That part of it’s just fine. But no more slaying, please. Leave that to us.”
“Ok. But I can still do what Ms Callender did. Research. Spells.”
“Maybe. As long as you don’t put yourself at risk.”
“And you must call me Jen, Willow. I’m not your teacher anymore.”
“Ok. So what do you think?”
“Like I said before, the more the merrier. In a manner of speaking, pet.”
“Well, I like it. Like Willow said, it would be just like old times. Are you still keeping in touch with my techno-pagan friends?”
“Yes, a bit. Angel? Please say you like my idea.”
“Of course I do. I’ve missed you.”
“Oh, good. This is going to be so cool. Right, Oz? Doyle?”
Her lovers assured her they agreed. Angel was a bit more concerned, but he would make sure no one got hurt and as long as they stuck to their studies, he didn’t think they would end up in trouble. Even if he and Willow couldn’t have a relationship anymore, they could still see each other. Yes, this really was a great idea.
Some of his pain melted away. He wasn’t alone anymore. Looking from one to the other of his friends and lovers, Angel concluded that his existence was proving to be far more comforting than he deserved. As always, the smile transformed his tense features, leaving no one in doubt as to how he had been named.