Half of Me is Lost
After the Replacement.
Willow knows how to get Oz back.
Willow and Oz don't belong to me. If they did, this is what would happen next.
For Pixie, just because. This story was in my head screaming "WRITE ME! WRITE ME!" since I saw The Replacement. My fingers couldn't move fast enough to keep up with my brain, so this was written *very* quickly. *L*
Willow adjusted the left strap of her pack, wincing as it grated across raw skin. The
locator spell had led her to the right mountain ... supposedly. But other than that the
goddess Thespia had proved rather unhelpful. Not that she was ungrateful; without the aid
of the goddess Willow never would have thought to look in the Allegheny mountains. She
figured Nepal or India, places with great spiritual history. Or maybe someplace quiet and
with a relatively sparse population, like Greenland or Alaska. But Pennsylvania?
But after exploring for three days, she could see why Oz would choose to settle down here.
The trees were thick and close, with sunlight filtering through the leaves in narrow
beams, like some kind of religious painting. The approaching autumn had brought with it
several cold snaps, and there was just the faintest hint of red and gold on the leaves
that would fall to the ground over the next month. It was anything but quiet. When Willow
stood completely still she could hear all the sounds of the forest; birds singing,
squirrels chasing each other from tree to tree ... she had even caught a glimpse of a doe
before her approaching footsteps scared it away.
Besides her hiking pack, Willow carried a small bag slung over her right shoulder. This
one never left her side; she even slept with it for fear an animal might scurry off with
it. Her right hand moved to the pouch, as it had countless times during the journey. She
needed to know that it was still there. Without it, all of this was pointless. Willow
relaxed a bit as she felt the familiar cylindrical contour through the canvas. Logically
there was no way it could have fallen out, but the reassurance was comforting none the
Willow watched the ground as she walked, partly to look for roots and rocks that might
cause a sprained ankle, mostly for traces of another human presence.
Or a wolf.
She didn't see the small cabin until she was practically on top of it. The logs and moss
it had been built with meshed with the surrounding forest so closely that at first she
thought she had imagined it. But no, it was there. No bigger than 10 by 10 feet, just
enough room to sleep and build a fire. And around from around the corner came the sound of
an axe. Willow's heart pounded through her chest as she slowly worked her way to the north
side of the small home.
There he was. Despite the chill in the air he was shirtless, apparently keeping warm from
the exertion of chopping wood. For a split second she just stood there, enjoying the
moment. It had been months since the last time they spoke, and Willow had replayed that
last conversation over and over again in her mind. For the life of her, Willow still
couldn't understand why she had sat in the van that day and told him to go. Tara was an
amazing person, someone she would love for the rest of her life. But Oz ... he filled her
soul. Just his mere presence a few feet away made her feel more complete than she had in
almost a year, since the day he had left her the first time.
After a few seconds Oz lifted his head, testing the air. He turned. "Willow?"
The word barely escaped his lips before she threw herself into his arms. Oz was damp from
his work, but Willow didn't mind. It brought out this smell, this Oz smell. There was no
other way to describe it. Not cologne or shampoo, not even deodorant. Just Oz.
"Willow, what are you doing here?" Oz's face was a mixture of emotions.
Worry, surprise, wonder ... still basically expressionless to the untrained eye, but
Willow knew how to read him.
His hair was a light brown, natural and falling in soft waves around his face. She had
always wondered what it really looked like ... but there was time for all this later.
"I have, I have something I need to show you." Willow dropped the heavy backpack
to the ground, careful not to jostle the pouch she still wore over her shoulder.
"Just close your eyes." Oz gave her a quizzical look, then did as he was asked.
Willow stepped back a few paces, and removed the object from the bag. After murmuring a
quick prayer to the goddess, she fired.
A ball of light stuck Oz in the chest. Propelled by the impact, he flew several feet
before falling to the ground. There was a startled growl, and then the wolf was there,
heading straight toward her.
Without missing a beat Willow dropped her first weapon in favor of a second, the small
pistol tucked into the waistband of her pants. With only seconds until the wolf reached
her she aimed and fired. Silver bullet, straight to the heart. Giles had prepared her well
for this moment.
An inhuman scream ripped through the forest as the creature crumpled at her feet. Willow
waited a moment, watching the creature's chest rise and fall with its last breath.
Strange, it didn't look so large and dangerous here, lying on the ground. Yet this was the
thing that had kept her separated from her love for all this time. She hauled her right
foot back and kicked as hard as she could, knowing that there was no more damage to do but
still feeling the better for it.
A thoroughly confused Oz rose from the spot where he had landed. "Willow?" She
was at his side in an instant, helping him limp toward the cabin. "What hap ..."
He froze, sta ring at the bloody mass of fur and muscle only a few feet away.
"A souvenir from a demon Buffy killed a few month's back. Let me help you inside. We
have our whole lifetime for explanations."