Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: A Day to Remember
Author: Ailie
Rating: PG
Spoilers: All Buffy.. Future fic.
Summary: Oz has a heart to heart with his son.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN.

"Hey, dad?"

"Hmm?" Oz glanced up from his extremely uncooperative tie. "Oh, Alex. Címon in."

The eldest son of the Osborne family strode through the doorway and into the bedroom. With his quiet demeanor, quick wit and habit of changing his hair color almost as regularly as his clothes, Alexander Rupert Osborne often reminded people of his father. Physically though, the two could not have been more different. His face carried mostly Rosenberg features, and he was almost a foot taller than his father! When it became obvious that the boy would surpass both of them in height, Oz commented that there was no way this child could be thereís, which earned him a sharp elbow in the ribs from Willow.

Alex flopped down on the edge of his parentís bed. "You need help with that?" he said, indicating the losing battle Oz was fighting with his tie.

"Nah. I think Iíve almost got it beaten into submission."

Normally Oz would have been the first one to notice that Alex had something on his mind, and needed to talk. Today however, there were other things to occupy his thoughts. Mainly Willow, and the fantastic evening he had planned for them. The honeymoon suite at the Omni downtown was all theirs, and he planned to take full advantage of the opportunity.

"Dad?" Alex spoke so quietly his father almost didnít hear him. "Why are you and Mom going out tonight?"

Oz smiled. "Itís R-day. You know that. I told you the whole story last year, remember?"

The boy nodded. "You did. But, I still donít understand why thatís something youíd want to celebrate."

Alex had confusion written all over his face, and Oz could understand why. R-day was a very special tradition in the Osborne family, dating back to long before the children were born. And the reasonís behind it were a little too deep for a childís understanding. At the age of 15 however, Oz and Willow had decided it was time tell Alex more about his past. Oz sat down with him one night to explain about Veruca. About the three years his father had spent wandering the world, trying to learn more about himself and the demon inside of him. How eventually he had come to realize the wolf was a part of him, something that could never be controlled or killed, just learned from. With this understanding Oz was able to return to Sunnydale, and to Willow. And a new tradition had began. The anniversary of the day he had left became a sort of holiday, a special time for man and wife to spend together. R-day.

Alexís father took a seat beside him on the bed. "What is it you donít understand?"

"Well," this was hard for the child. Questioning your father is never something to be taken lightly. "I mean, why donít you go out on the day you came back? This day was one of pain and ... and death. I mean, you killed someone. You left mom all alone and didnít even tell her where you were going, or if youíd ever come back. Why ... why celebrate that?"

"Thatís not what we celebrate," Oz responded quietly. To this day, the death of Veruca was still a memory that kept him awake at night. "Thatís not the idea at all."

He turned slightly, and looked into his sonís eyes. "You know what R-day stands for?"

"Reminder day. I know. But ..."

"Wait," Oz interrupted. "Think about that for a minute. What do we need to be reminded of?"

Alex pondered that for a moment. "That ... that life is precious?"

His father smiled. "Thatís part of it, yes. But thereís more to it than that. Looking back on that day, I see now that there are so many things I forgot about. In the heat of the moment, in the times of crisis, I acted on my instincts instead of what I knew was right. And running away seemed easier than staying and dealing with the problem."

The younger Osborne nodded slowly. "Okay. That kinda makes sense. What did you forget?"

"That there are things in this life worth fighting for." Oz set a hand on Alexís shoulder. "I had spent almost two years fighting evil with Buffy, your Mom, your grandpa Giles and the rest, but I still didnít really understand. Killing is never an easy thing, or something to be done on a whim. But it can be necessary. If I hadnít ... done what Iíd done, your Mom wouldnít be here right now. And neither would you."

There was silence for a moment. "But," Alex spoke up. "Thereís more to it, right? There has to be."

Oz smiled. His son was defiantly growing up. "There is. I won the first battle, but lost the second. I saved your motherís life, but didnít stay to deal with those consequences. And thatís the other thing we need to remember today. Love isnít always easy. Sometimes it takes effort, the denial of self. And thatís a hard battle to fight. But when you take on that fight alone ... itís impossible. No matter how bad things get, we can work through them together, as a family. And that none of us ever has to bear the burden alone."

"And you big strong men never like to hear that," Willow said from the doorway.

"Daddy!" A little girl burst from behind her motherís skirt and ran to her fatherís waiting arms. "Look, daddy, I helped mommy with her hair!" Willow turned obligingly, showing her two boys the blue and green ribbons braided into her waist length red hair.

Oz planted a kiss on the girlís cheek. "Jenny, honey. Theyíre beautiful."

"Liar," the final Osborne child said from her motherís side. "I braided her hair."

"Anne," Willow chastised the 12-year-old.

Jenny, secure in her fatherís arms, had no qualms about speaking up. "Well, I picked the colors. So I did help!"

"Well I think you both did a wonderful job." Oz set the child on the ground and moved to his wifeís side. "You look incredible."

"And your tie is crooked!" Willow laughed, taking a few seconds to fix the knot her husband had been struggling with for at least ten minutes. "There. Now you look perfect."

Oz pulled her into an embrace and whispered into her hair, "I donít know why youíre so worried about my clothes. Especially since in about an hour or so youíll be busy ripping them off."

"Oz!" Willow tried her hardest to look shocked, but after almost twenty years of marriage there was little he could do to surprise her.

"Mommy! Mommy!" Willow pulled away from her husband to give attention to the five-year-old at her feet. "You forgot daddyís present!"

"Thank you sweetie. I almost forgot." After a moment of fishing through her evening bag, she came up with a small toy wrapped in plastic.

Oz couldnít believe it. "A Pez werewolf? Where did you find this?"

She smiled. "Iíve been bugging the company to start making one for years. And finally they made me one just so Iíd go away."

"I have a little something for you, too." Oz nodded to Alex, who produced a plastic bag from underneath the bed. "Ordered Ďem from a grocery store in Paris. The lady must have thought I was nuts ..."

"Animal crackers!" Willowís face lit up. "And the box is in French!"

Anne rolled her eyes. "You guys are so weird." Her teenage status demanded that she act disgusted at this display, although Oz thought he detected a slight smile forming at the corner of her mouth.

"Youíd better get going," Alex said, looking at his watch. "Youíll miss your dinner reservations."

"What would I do without you?" Willow crossed the room and stood on her tiptoes to give her son a hug. "Now thereís dinner in the freezer, the number of the hotel is on the fridge, and ..."

"Call Uncle Xander or Aunt Anya if we need anything. I know mom. Go. Have a good time."

Willow turned to give hugs and kisses to the girls. "So, everything clear now?" Oz said as he approached his son.

"Crystal." Alex leaned down to embrace his father. "Have fun."

"No doubts of that."

"What was that all about?" Willow asked as they walked to the car.

"Nothin'. Just guy stuff." He opened the car door for her.

From the bedroom window, Alex just watched and smiled.