Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: No Trick-or-Treaters
Author: quantumLiz
Rating: G
Spoilers: Post Season 7
Summary: Willow is disappointed with Halloween
Disclaimer: Joss owns everything
Author's Note: Dedicated to Shannon who teaches. To Karen for doing Oz-tober, and because I totally failed her Oz-tober challenge. To every OzMIAn who, like me, wistfully waited by the door with candy, but didn't get any trick-or-treaters.

Midnight. Willow turned off the porch light and leaned her head against the door with a small sigh. Halloween was officially over, and not a single trick-or-treater had graced her home. As a reformed bad-ass wicca, she found this singularly discouraging.

It wasn't that her teaching job was boring. She was still passionate about teaching the finer points of object oriented programming to her high school computer science students. In fact Gillian Jones demonstrated a real gift for we b design, and Matt Simpson was probably hacking the DMV at night.

Willow dragged her train of thought back onto the tracks with an effort.

She liked her job, she really did. And she had the wicca habit thing under control. She stayed in touch with the English coven that had once harnessed her powers, and she had good, powerful friends in the States who helped make sure she stayed immersed in the good magick, the source of wicca, the fuzzy vibes that kept her human and not all vein-y. She was never going all vein-y again.

So, yes, job good, magick good.

It was just that this, of all nights of the year, should be special. But she had missed the big west coast coven thing because she had to prepare for parent-teacher conferences on Monday. She had somehow expected the old scooby gang to be present, but she realized now that had been rather self-absorbed of her. Dawn was hanging out with her friends; Buffy was swamped with guidance counsellor things for parent-teacher conference day and had homework on top of that. Buffy had surprised herself and gone back to school, and was now working on her master's in social work. It seemed she really did have a flair for helping troubled youth.

Really, it was good that the scooby-gang was busted, at least in their evil-fighting capacity. Buffy had had to bear a huge burden, and although Willow had often been jealous, now she understood better how hard that must have been for Buffy. It was good that Buffy's powers had been distributed among all teenage girls, all over the world, for it meant that her epic tragedy was distributed, too. Willow had a secret hope that Buffy and Angel might find a way back to each other someday. She thought it was possible.

Xander, her best friend ever, had joined the army. It turned out he was surprisingly good at soldiering, and not just because of the stuff he remembered from that one Halloween night, which seemed so long ago now. Xander was currently doing "peacekeeping missions," whatever that meant, in Baghdad. With a few spells cast around him to keep him safe. Sure, he was sometimes scared and lonely, but secretly he seemed overwhelmingly proud to be good at what he did.

So the scoobies were out in the world doing new, (relatively) safe things, and all should be well. Still, it was sad that no little trick-or-treaters had come to her admittedly sort of out-of-the-way house. And it was kind of hard to find, set back from the road and all. The wild bushes in front might look a little scary at night, until you got up close and realized that they smelled like roses.

Ok, so Willow was a little sneaky sometimes with the wicca. But she was so good most of the time! And her little cottage house needed something to make it seem homey.

Willow thumped her head softly on her closed front door. Who was she kidding? What she needed was--

The doorbell rang and made her scream. She jumped a whole foot in the air. Completely flustered, Willow smoothed down her hair-- it was all long and tangly now-- and reached for the enormous bag of Hershey's chocolate bars. She turned the light back on and opened the door, a happy greeting bubbling out of her mouth as she pulled it back.

"Happy Hallo-- !"

She stared at the short person standing on her stoop. Her throat stopped working and she was pretty sure her heart stopped.

"Oz?" she whispered.

He cocked his head to one side, somewhat overwhelmed by the heady scent of thirty-five chocolate bars. "Hey."


"I'm sorry it's so late. I had trouble finding your house."

Willow blinked at him. "My house?"

Oz smiled, which brought a rush of warmth to her stomach and simultaneously made all the blood curdle in her veins.

"What are you doing here?" she got out, sounding like she was strangling.

He shrugged. "I thought maybe we could-- " He stopped and started again. "I missed you."

The bag of candy slipped from Willow's fingers onto the floor. She swallowed. There was a strange, tingly feeling in her chest that she hadn't felt in a very long time. She sucked in a breath, and a shy, trembly sort of smile spread across her face.

"Hi," she said softly. "I was . . . just thinking about you." She didn't know what she was going to say until she heard herself saying it, and then she realized that it was the truth. It was on Halloween that she had first seen him. Halloween was the one night that should have been theirs, a witch's and a werewolf's.

Oz looked uneasy for a moment. "Are you-- I mean-- " but he didn't seem to know what he meant. He just stared at her like he was drinking in her soul through her wide green eyes.

Willow felt herself blushing. It wasn't scary, this time, the way the unexpected sight of him threatened to overwhelm her, like she was in a roller coaster that was climbing up to the top and was about to plummet down the other side. She had learned a great deal about herself in recent years, but this was the first time she really got how frightened she had been when he had come back, that full moon night, and found her with Tara. How scared she been of being overwhelmed-- by him, by how much she had loved him, she couldn't tell which any more.

She felt like she was coming back to life, and she hadn't even known she'd been hibernating. Everything seemed more real: the dark blacker, the scent of the roses more intense, the three quarter moon above whiter.

Oz smiled with a little laugh. "Do you want to go for a walk?" he asked.

Willow bit her lip and smiled. "Sure," she said a little breathlessly.

Oz held out his hand. She put hers in his and stepped onto the stone walkway. As they passed through the gate of her front yard, roses unfurled themselves into a fresh generation of blooms, as if they couldn't quite help themselves.

Oz's quiet voice carried across the yard. "Do you smell that?"