Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: Time and Again
Author: Shannon
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Post New Moon Rising and The Replacement - future fic
Summary: Seventeen years after waking up naked by a rock, Daniel Osborne has found a way to go back and redeem all the lives that have been destroyed by the wolf. Fate has other ideas.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Oz, Xander, Sunnydale, or any other creation associated with Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. I suppose you could sue me, but please don’t, as I have no money.
Author's Note: Inspired by the challenge issued long ago by Little Faith. This is not exactly it.

Part 1

Xander Harris woke up at three am with a very full bladder. He decided, after much deliberation, to roll over and ignore it. It didn’t work. Maybe if he rolled onto his other side?
If he got up, his body would assume it was morning, and he’d never get back to sleep.
But he had to pee!
By quarter after four, he gave up and trudged to the bathroom.
Ah! Precious relief…
Stumbling back toward his bedroom he noticed a sort of alien blue glow coming from his living room. Forgetting sleep, he went for his hammer. Then, with its reassuring weight in his hands, he headed silently back to the living room. At his first glance, he stopped dead in his tracks.

March, 2009
Oz woke up and lifted his head. He tried to swallow. His mouth felt dry; he must have slept with it open. He noticed a slight metallic taste. Oz tried rubbing the sleep from his eyes, but his hand stuck momentarily in something thick and half-dry.
He registered the smell of the blood, and what’s worse, he tasted power in it. This time, the wolf had murdered someone important.
Oz clamped his hands into fists and bellowed. He would have to leave this place, again, before someone came and saw him lying naked in the gore. “Not again!” The whisper was fierce, but barely audible, or maybe his ears were still ringing from his scream. His eyes were glassy as he ran. He had thought he’d found home, but it wasn’t like this was his first disappointment.

January, 2004
“Cartoons!” The hammer lowered, the weapon forgotten by Xander’s side. He walked to the set and adjusted the volume, smiling to himself. It’s not like he expected to fall back asleep anyway. “Wile E. Coyote. Can’t beat the classics.” What could be better? Empty bladder, great television, and last night’s cold pizza was still on the coffee table with half a bottle of Coke. “Pizza. Yea-IAH!”
The last exclamation was not in response to the pizza, although he remembered leaving at least two more slices than were actually present. “Yea-IAH!” was aimed instead at the six-year old child sitting on the couch, quietly craning his neck to see the screen around Xander.
“Hi,” said the boy, when he had enough of Xander’s staring at him.
“Hey, little guy,” said Xander, in what he hoped was a reassuringly carefree and confident tone. “What are you doing here?” He was suddenly very glad he hadn’t put down the hammer. Stranger things had happened, and Xander had learned from them the value of a weapon. And also the importance of really getting to know any potential mates, in case they might be demons or bugs or vampires, or other non-humans in general. Or theater people, but that was for entirely different reasons.
“Watching cartoons,” said the boy, although it was clear from the way he was contorting that Xander was a better door than a window. “I had some pizza.” Xander still hadn’t moved, but the kid didn’t seem to have any trouble with this, as long as he could see.
“How did you get here?”
“Don’t know. I can’t see.”
Xander sat on the couch, but put as much distance between himself and the child as he could.
“No problem.”
The boy laughed quietly at the roadrunner’s escape, then took the remote and pressed the power button. “You want to talk.” It didn’t exactly sound like a question, but it wasn’t a statement either. It gave Xander the wiggins.
“Who are you? Why are you in my living room? How did you get in here? And how come you aren’t bouncing off the walls like every other little kid I’ve ever seen?”
The boy shrugged. “I had a nightmare. I woke up. Here. My name’s Danny.”
“That’s it? You’re not here to kill me or change me into something weird, or destroy the world?”
“Don’t think so. So far, I just ate your pizza.”
“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to Danny’s wrist.
Danny looked down, he looked up. “String.”
“To strangle me with when I’m not looking! I’m on to you, I have a hammer!”
Danny raised an eyebrow. “To remind me to call my aunt and wish her happy birthday tomorrow… You want some pizza?”
Xander nodded slowly, taking it all in, than introduced himself. “You want some soda with that?” he asked, noticing the cups were untouched. He began to pour.
“I’m not supposed to drink soda. Mom’s afraid it will make me sterile.”
“What?” asked Xander, shocked.
“The chemicals’ll keep her from having grandkids.”
“I know what it means! Look, mom’s not here, and one glass won’t hurt. Guzzle away, kid.”
Danny met Xander’s eyes, and the young man had the distinct feeling he was being evaluated. Finally, the boy made up his mind and took the soda.
“Won’t your parents be worried?” asked Xander. “We could call them, they could come get you.”
Danny looked at the soda, the pizza and the television, but reluctantly took the phone from Xander anyway.
“Weird,” said Danny, after the fourth try.
“It’s some directory.”
“You’re sure you have the right number?”
Danny raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Xander noticed a small change in his demeanor, which could have been concern, or the beginning of fear, or maybe he was just tired.
“Tell you what,” said Xander, “I’ll sleep out here tonight, you can have my bed, and we’ll figure everything out in the morning.”

Part 2

Danny felt like he had been here before. He heard the girl yelling and ran towards her, but there was no way to see, and he kept falling over branches and rocks and other monsters barring his way in the darkness. Dogs barked in the distance, and he knew he was almost out of time. He could see the girl ahead like a flash of red at the end of a tunnel.
As he got closer, he could make out two other girls, two other voices, fighting over him. The first girl continued to scream until he thought he’d go deaf, but nothing drowned out the dogs. They were right on his heels now. He had to reach the girls before the dogs did.
He was brought down by the pack leader, an auburn monster with human green eyes who sat on Danny’s back, claws drawing blood, as other dogs reached the girls.
Danny could barely see the women through his own blood, as they were all ripped apart by the beasts. One dead head flew through the air and landed in front of him with a wet thud, her dark eyes fixed on him accusingly. Then he saw the great auburn leader again, more wolf, almost, but who’s ever seen a redheaded wolf? He rolled Danny onto his back, and then buried his teeth into the six-year-old’s stomach as he screamed.

April, 1998
The foreman stood on a large gray boulder and barked orders at his subordinates. Yellow bulldozers covered in dirt and mud removed trees and other greenery from the lot.
Three men in coveralls sat on the ground not far from the ruckus, eating their lunches from pails.
“So what’s with the time frame? Why do they need this place cleared out so fast?” His face was young, he barely had a tan, and his helmet still shone yellow.
“Who cares?” said another, this one a little broader, with a darker, weathered face. “Another day, another dollar.”
“Some kind of apartment complex,” said the third. “They break ground next month. Expect to open this time next year.”
All three shared a chuckle at that.

January, 2004
Xander wasn’t sure where he was. It took him a minute to realize that he had fallen asleep on his couch. It took him another minute to realize that the sounds that had woke him were coming from the six-year-old unexpected house guest in his bedroom.
Having relatively little experience with children, he was worried, and swung his legs off the couch with just a little too much force. The carpet hurt. After picking himself up off the floor, he hurried into the bedroom.
“No,” moaned the boy in his sleep. The covers were mostly on the floor, except for what was wrapped around his tiny legs. He was on his stomach, with his face pressed into the pillow. Xander gently reached to turn the boy’s head, but when he touched him, the boy rolled violently onto his back. He was breathing in quick, shallow pants, and Xander was afraid to touch him.
“No!” screamed Danny. He writhed as in pain, and his eyes shot open.
Now that the boy was awake, Xander was more comfortable, but not by a lot. "It's all right, buddy. It's just me. No one's going to hurt you."
"Dogs! The dogs! Don't let them!" Xander sat on the bed and put his hand on Danny's back.
"No dogs, buddy. Just you and me and some bad pizza."
Danny's breathing eased, and he began to see the room he was in instead of the tunnel that haunted his dreams. "Xander," he said.
"Yeah, it's me, little guy."
Danny rubbed his eyes. "I'm not home yet."
"Not yet. In the morning… Give it a few more hours." He smiled sympathetically. "Did you want to talk about it?" Danny raised his eyes to Xander, then lowered them back to the bed. Xander sighed. "So what were you dreaming about?"
Dogs. They killed the girls."
What girls?" asked Xander. Danny shrugged.
Xander sighed and picked the sheets up off the floor. He was surprised that Danny got up to help him, but most of what was going on with the kid had surprised him.
Something on Xander's dresser caught Danny's eye and he stopped. "Who's that?" he asked, pointing to a picture.
Xander took it down and looked at it quietly. The picture was pretty old, six years, maybe seven by now. Someone had taken it while he and his friends sat outside the high school, Buffy on the right, and Willow on the left. They were laughing, the sun was shining. That was a long time ago. Not just years, but a lifetime. After a moment, he told Danny their names.
"You're not so close now?" said Danny.
Danny sat silent for a while. "Just because you don't see them all the time, doesn't mean they stop being family."
"How'd you get to be so smart?" Danny shrugged, and it made Xander laugh. Danny smiled, just a little. "All right, why don't you get some sleep, then we'll scrounge up some breakfast, and I’ll take you… Where?"
"16 Cozzens Road," said Danny, in a sleepy voice that Xander thought was kind of cute.
"All right, get some sleep. And no nightmares this time." He turned out the light.
"Xander," came a small voice. He grunted acknowledgment. "Can you stay with me tonight? Until I go home?"
"Sure, kid." Xander made himself as comfortable as he could on a chair, then tried again to fall asleep. The sound of Danny breathing soft and regular near by was strangely comforting. "Huh," he whispered, as he drifted off to sleep.

Part 3

Oz woke up and raised his head. He wiped the thick liquid from the side of his mouth. It was still warm. The entire place was warm, and dark. It smelled like dust, and death.

January 1998
Freedom was wonderful. The animal tasted the air in the woods, and felt like it was for the first time. The full moon overhead lit his way through the trees. He was alive for the first time, and on fire with it all.
But fires burn out, and it had been a long night of new experiences. As the first ray of light hinted in the eastern sky, the beast collapsed to the forest floor, narrowly missing a large gray rock.
His chest heaved, even as the sunlight began spilling over his fur. Slowly the fur receded, bones twisted and shrank. Green eyes opened in a human face. A red eyebrow lifted as Oz surveyed his surroundings. "Huh."

August, 2012
The scent of death was faint and old, but it still sent a shiver down Oz's spine. He scratched his head and ran his fingers over his military-cut short hair.
He looked down and grimaced; drool covered a large portion of the page he had been reading. He tried to wipe it away, but only managed to spread it across more of the priceless page.
Three years had passed since he had made his last attempt to return to Sunnydale, to a past and a family and some semblance of a stable life. But the pull of the Hellmouth was too strong, and he lost control the wolf again, control that he had worked three years to master.
It had been terrible enough when the blood on his hands was nameless, faceless guilt. But Oz knew the smell of that blood from another life. It was powerful blood, the blood of a Slayer. Buffy Summers’ blood, a woman who had been his friend, and who had saved his life countless times. For what?
After her, he had given up any pretense of control. He had failed too many times, and now control didn’t matter. What was one more death? One more faceless head screaming at him in the night? He had killed to get into this room. Not the wolf, but Oz had killed. The price was the blood of a Kehtark demon, a breed whose only fault was a tendency to break into people’s homes and loot for cold, moldy food, a delicacy difficult to find in the summer.
But that was in the past, and he’d learned not to dwell on the past, at least in the daylight. Somewhere in this room hid the key to Oz’s future: a new life, without fear of killing, and without guilt. Maybe he could open a little store, meet a woman, and adopt some kid from a dirt home in Russia.
It didn’t matter. Somewhere in here, somewhere in this room was a cure for him, a way to wipe out the wolf forever. He wouldn’t have to hang on to the guilt that this creature left him in the morning.
He pushed aside the drool-covered manuscript and reached for another. His right hand scribbled title and author information into a small notepad before he opened the ancient codex.
His future was lost. He would find it.
His stomach growled, but he would not let himself stop. This was his only chance in this room, no food, no drink, and once he left, he would never be admitted again.
Three books later and there were still no answers for him.
Three hours later and he had fallen asleep yet again.
He woke an hour later; his mouth was dry, his stomach acids eating him from inside. Turning the page, he found his salvation. A few herbs, a powerful binding spell, a spell to separate, a spell to kill. He would live, the wolf would die.
If he reached the wolf in human form after its first full moon and if that wolf had spilled no sentient blood…
Oz’s first full moon was fourteen years ago. He couldn’t change his future. But maybe, he thought, just maybe, he could change his past.

Part 4

“I need to do this.”
“Oz, its bad karma. Real bad karma. It’s beyond bad karma. You can’t just go around fucking with the past.” The girl who spoke was still young. Only about twenty-five… Oz tried to remember that he was barely ten years older than her, but it was hard. She was so green, but she was the only one who could help him.
“Madeline, I know what I’m doing.”
She sighed, brushing black hair away from her face with a twisted left hand. “Changing the past changes the future. You won’t be you anymore. I might not even be me, you just can’t know that. You can’t imagine how one tiny choice can affect the entire world.”
Oz just stared at her; his eyes cold.
“I can bend time, but that doesn’t mean I should. I lost my mother bending time by accident. You want to do it on purpose. What about the girl? Willow? She would have died in that basement if you hadn’t used the wolf to find her.”
“Every time I lose control, it’s harder to get it back. If I hadn’t lost it to her, maybe others would still be alive.

Oz woke up on the street with the sun. That was his first clue that he had lost control of the wolf again. He had been fine for over a year, he had been human. He’d even started writing music again.
Oz was angry. Level-headedness hadn’t served him so far. He hadn’t even meant to stop in Sunnydale, it was just a place on the track to LA, where he might manage a semi-permanent gig, or at least make enough money for a hair cut.
Something didn’t smell right, though, and it wasn’t just the wet pavement. There was blood on the air. He sniffed it out, until he found the source; a severed hand, lying on the ground just five feet away. It was dainty, and feminine. Oz was shocked, and couldn’t stop the bile rising in his throat. He vomited blood.

September, 2016
“Didn’t you help avert the apocalypse a few times in high school? If you weren’t the wolf, you might have died before then. There might not be a world. Even if you don’t remember making the decision to change your past, it’s still on your soul.”
Oz gripped Madeline’s good hand in both of his. He looked into her eyes and opened his soul, letting her see all the little deaths he’d felt inside. “All I have is this body and my guilt.”
Madeline gasped and stepped back. “Oh my god.”
Oz sat, his face was impassive, his tone conversational, but his eyes begged her. “Will you help me?”
Madeline held the bridge of her nose like she was suffering from a sinus headache. “I don’t want to, but I can’t just leave you like this. My god, how do you live?”
“I survive.”
“All right, you have everything you need? We can’t do this twice, you know. It isn’t safe.”
“I know everything I need to.”
“I’m going to bend seventeen years for you, but you’ve got to know exactly the place you want to end up.”
Oz closed his eyes and remembered that place where he woke up after that first full moon, the trees, the rock, and where it was in Sunnydale. “I’m ready.”
Madeline closed her eyes and watched time fold in on itself.

Part 5

“Morning,” said Xander, walking into the kitchen area of his apartment. Danny was already up, standing on a chair to get a box of sugary cereal from a high cabinet. There were already two bowls and glasses out on the counter.
Xander got a carton of milk from the refrigerator and poured for them both. “Any more nightmares?”
Danny climbed onto the stool next to Xander and shook his head. “So, we can go home after breakfast?”
“You bet. 16 Cozzens Road… Wait. You live there?” Danny nodded. “That’s nothing but office buildings. I helped build them.” Danny raised an eyebrow, but kept eating. “You really remind me of someone, kid.”

September, 2016

Oz looked at Madeline, and it wasn’t entirely friendly. “I’m still here.”
“Yeah, I noticed.”
Oz growled, and it definitely wasn’t all human. “You said you were going to send me back.”
“I said I was going to fold time around you. I did that. Didn’t you feel it?”
“Then why am I still here?”
“I wish I knew.” She beckoned him to sit with her good hand. He noticed she had started to favor it more since he had gotten angry with her. “Sometimes things don’t work the way I want them to. Maybe the Powers that Be don’t want you to go back. Everything happens for a reason, Oz. Maybe you were meant to be a werewolf. It might not be such a bad thing.”
“I’ve killed three women. Three. How much good can I have done?” Oz walked out, slamming the door behind him.

January, 2004

“Danny, are you sure you live on Cozzens Road?” Xander looked out the driver side window. “This is your house?”
Danny looked out the passenger window. “This isn’t it. It’s where my house is supposed to be, but that’s not it.”
“Kid, there haven’t been homes here since the eighties.”
Dan looked at Xander. “What decade do you think we’re in?”
Xander stared. “It’s the…uh…” Shit! What were the calling them? The oughts? The naughts? The zeros? “It’s the two thousands. Two thousand four.”
“Huh,” said Danny, leaning back into his seat.
“And will you stop doing that? It’s really freaking me out.”
“Would it help if I panicked?”
Xander calmed a little. “Probably not.” Danny nodded. “You’re seriously from the eighties?”
“Last I checked, but that’s not saying much.”
“I’ve never seen a kid as calm as you. Only guy who ever came close was Oz.”
Danny looked up. “Who?”
“Hey, maybe you knew…know? Whatever. Guy I went to high school with, Daniel Osbourne.”
Danny verbalized a non-committal answer.
“You know him?”
“I don’t know Oz, but I’m Daniel Osbourne.”
Xander stopped breathing for a second. “You would be him, wouldn’t you?”
“Can we go see me?”
“I haven’t seen Oz in a couple of years now, unless you count you.”
Xander put the car into gear. He wasn’t exactly sure where he was going, but staying outside what used to be this kid’s house couldn’t be making the kid feel very comfortable; and it certainly wasn’t doing either of them any good. “For what it’s worth, you can stay with me and drink all the soda you want until we get you back home.” Danny looked at Xander, then back to where the office building was fading in the distance. “Look, we know we’re going to get you back to the eighties pretty soon, because you’re definitely in high school in the nineties, and I think you would have at least told Willow if you had spent all the time between now and then in the wrong decade.”
“The girl from your picture?”
Xander nodded. “So, what we have to do is figure out what you’re doing in this year and then maybe we can get you back home, okay?”
Danny raised his eyebrows, and Xander wasn’t sure if the kid was convinced or not, but he said, “okay,” and that was good enough for now.

Part 6

Maddie was sure her mother had been beside her just a second ago. It wasn’t like she needed or even wanted her mother around, not really. She was thirteen after all, but it wasn’t like her to wander off. Maddie had just had another of her space outs, when it felt like space was bending inside her head. Her mother had always said she was a little spacey, but it hadn’t gotten weird like this until just a few months ago.
Maddie was so intent on looking for her mother; she didn’t notice she had wandered away from the busy part of town, toward one of Sunnydale’s many cemeteries. Of course, anyone who read the obituaries would realize that this probably was the busy part of town.
She heard something and turned, taking out the cross she always carried after dark. After all, even if she came from a family of pretty powerful witches (and one or two half demons, somewhere along the line, but that was all hush-hush) she was no Slayer.
But the cross didn’t work. This was no vampire. It had certain similarities; well, at least both monsters had started out human. The wolf advanced, and there was nothing she could do. Running would provoke it, but standing still wouldn’t help much either.
It grabbed her wrist, and pain shot through her.

October, 2000
Xander pulled to the side of the road and looked out the passenger window at the new apartment complex that was going to be their new home. “You ready for this?” he asked her.
The young woman smiled. “I will like not living in your parents’ basement. Yes, I’m ready.”
Xander turned the key and moved to the back of the rental van to grab the first box. He hefted it up into his arms and made his way to the glass front doors of the building. “You want to grab a box and help, Anya?” he asked, seeing her standing in front of the door with her hands on her hips.
“It is customary for the man to carry the woman over the threshold of their new home. I read it.”
Xander sighed. When she got like this, it was better not to fight it. He looked for someplace to put the box down, and finally set it on a large gray rock next to the sidewalk just outside the door.
He lifted Anya easily into his arms and kissed her on the nose. “I don’t have to carry you all the way up those stairs, do I?”

January, 2004
Danny walked around the cemetery, kicking stones. Xander had brought him here to see the blonde girl from the picture on the dresser, Buffy. Why she hung out in a cemetery, Danny couldn’t tell.
Danny hadn’t told Xander, but he didn’t much mind being left to himself. His parents left him mostly to himself, and anyway, he knew he had to get back to his own time sooner or later if he was going to end up going to high school with Xander and his friends.
He wandered around, exploring the place he’d always felt before was sort of scary. He saw a girl up ahead, maybe it was that Buffy girl?
He walked up to the girl, and that’s when he noticed the dog, its jaws were clamped around her wrist. The dog turned quickly to see Danny coming up behind him, and Danny saw the girl’s hand ripped off . He knew that was what happened, but he couldn’t believe it. “Get out of here, you mutt!” The dog sniffed the air and whined, scampering off to some back road.
Danny turned to the girl. She was a lot younger than Xander. “You’re not Buffy.” The girl shook her head, dark hair sticking to her face. She was crying, and her wrist was a bloody stump.
“The wolf listened to you,” she said, quietly.
“Shouldn’t you go to the hospital?”
“It’s not bleeding anymore,” she said, quietly. She was still crying, but the bleeding had stopped. Danny thought that should have been impossible, but what did he know? He was only six.
As if this wasn’t weird enough, the girl got even stranger. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she disappeared. She reappeared a few seconds later three feet away from where she had just been.
“Well,” said Danny, “you seem to be okay, so I’m going to go find my friend now.” He walked away, looking calm. He didn’t feel it.

Maddie shook her head. It happened again, she’d zoned out for a couple of seconds. It felt like time was bending around her, but that didn’t make sense. But now, she had a memory of tomorrow, when the moon would be completely full, and she would become a monster. She had less than twenty-four hours to figure out how to stop herself from hurting anyone. On the bright side, tomorrow’s change seemed to have healed her hand, sort of.

Part 7

“Danny, there you are,” said Xander.
“Did you find your friend?”
“Let’s get out of here. Please.”
“Yeah, kid. Sure.” Danny looked kind of spooked. Xander led him to the car. “You okay?” Danny nodded.
The boy seemed calmer once they got into the car. He didn’t say anything at all on the way back to the apartment, not that he was a motor-mouth to begin with.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Gosh, Xander hadn’t heard anyone say that for a while.
“Things here aren’t like the rest of the world.”
Danny looked at Xander with that odd sort of evaluating look he had. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. …For what?”
“You don’t lie. Adults lie to kids. And themselves. And, you’re helping me.”
“I’m trying. It’s not working.”
Danny looked down at the string around his wrist. “I think it did.”

Oz walked out into a bright, sunny day. It pissed him off, and that was not normal for him. He crossed the street to the car he’d eventually bought after the van’s transmission had blown and gas prices had risen to almost five dollars a gallon. Pacing back and forth beside the passenger window, he cursed. Madeline was supposed to be his last chance, and she couldn’t help him, now only one thing could.
He sat in the driver seat without turning the key, and like so many days these past years, his thoughts gave him no rest. His own hands would cause the death of everyone he loved, the way it had been for years. He slammed his hands into the steering wheel.
He checked to make sure his windows were tightly sealed before turning the key. He sat and meditated, occasionally taking content deep breaths. A calm came over him, a sense of sleepiness he hadn’t felt in months, maybe years.
The last thing he saw before falling asleep was the garden hose that he had snaked from the tailpipe to the passenger window. He smiled.

“Xander? I think it’s time to sleep.”
Xander looked shocked. “I’ve never seen a kid ask to go to sleep before bedtime.” He turned his gaze from the He-Man video marathon to smile at the child. Danny looked much too serious for Xander’s taste, and it slowly dawned on him. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?”
Danny shrugged. “I don’t think I did anything special, but yeah. I think I am.”
“Well, you did learn that soda doesn’t do anything worse than rot your teeth.”
Danny nodded.
“Can I do anything for you?” Danny shook his head. “I’ll miss you, kid.” He stood up and led Danny into the bedroom. “You want me to stay?” he asked, as he tucked the boy gently into the bed.
“No,” said Danny softly.
“Goodnight,” said Xander, heading back into the living room.
“Wait!” said Danny, sounding more like a child than he had since he’d arrived. Xander came back to the bed.
“What’s up?”
Danny untied the knotted the string and unwound it from his wrist. “Keep this for luck,” he said, pressing it into Xander’s hand. Xander tied it around his neck.
Danny rubbed his eyes. “I’m going to sleep now,” he whispered. “Goodnight.”
“Sweet dreams, little guy.” Xander closed the door and watched the end of the video, alone.

Part 8

Xander held the nail gun in his hand, and let out a scream of rage. His hair was starting to thin, although he hadn’t reached thirty yet. He wore stained, tattered coveralls, adding to the fantasy that he had happened on this battlefield on the way home from work.
Willow was back home, coaching a number of witches, all raised from birth to handle and understand the problem. They were working against the yellow demons that Xander was facing on the field. He had hoped she wouldn’t try to add her own power to the pool and fall back into the addiction when she had first offered her help, but now he had other things on his mind.
Somewhere in front of Xander, Angel and his friends had point for Buffy, but he couldn’t see them, any more than he could see her. Xander was grim; he knew the stakes, they were always the same. If the demons weren’t killed, they would continue to reproduce in a giant orgy, one gigantic monster to swallow the world’s energy – oceans, wind, electricity, everything. Everyone would live forever, unable to cry out or move, as the world they knew decayed around them.
Rushing forward into the fray, he shot iron nails into any of the beasts that got close to him, spraying himself with putrid, green-yellow blood as thick as snot. “Damn you!”

Danny woke up with the feeling that there was something important he was supposed to remember. He looked at his wrist, where he usually tied a piece of string if he had anything important to remember, but it was just a wrist.
He could hear his parents snoring in the other room, and decided to take out his Walkman and listen to some jazz. His hands naturally fell into position to play along with the cassette, although he didn’t dare pick up his guitar at this time of night.
Laying back into his pillow, his headphones scatting into the night, he fell asleep, and dreamt of cemeteries, and when he dreamed again of the dogs, there was a young man who brought Danny safely out of the darkness, and fought the dogs off with a hammer…

March, 2009
Xander was sweating with effort; he felt pain where demon blood splattered his body. “Damn it!” He saw Buffy out of the corner of his eye, but stayed far away from the ax she was wielding. “You know,” he called to her between grunts of effort, “how sick I am of this? You’d think for once this shit could happen on someone else’s Hellmouth.”
Buffy laughed, but it wasn’t happy.
Xander raised the nail gun again and squeezed the trigger gently once, twice. The tall demon fell at his feet. “These things are built like football players.”
"No way,” said Buffy. “Not nearly as cute.”
He climbed over it and started after the next. He put the gun to the back of its head and pulled the trigger, but the familiar kick of the gun wasn’t there. He tried again, still no recoil. The monster turned to face him.
“Xander!” cried Buffy. Ax swinging chaotically, she injured at least half a dozen demons along the way as she ran to him. “Look out!” She was too late. The yellow monster was holding Xander’s head by the hair. Her friend’s body fell to the ground. She brought the ax around with the uncanny strength of her anger, and chopped the demon’s head off, like he’d done to Xander. She knew she was probably in shock, but couldn’t let it stop her, or she would be dead too, and so would everyone that she had ever cared about. She did take a minute to stoop down and take the piece of string from the stump of Xander’s neck. It had always brought him luck, until now.

The wolf watched this all with a glint in his eye. Somewhere the human part of his brain registered the word massacre, but all that the wolf knew was the smell of the powerful blood rushing through the flesh of the human one, and the hunger. The demons didn’t smell half bad either, but they were nothing compared to the girl. He saw her bury the ax into the flesh of the monster; he smelled the blood, and it drove him into a frenzy. She couldn’t get the ax out, although she was trying. The wolf took his chance, racing four enraged demons to get to her.
Coming from the shadows, he bounded towards the girl, snarling. She saw him moments before he connected, and raised her hand, weaponless, to stop him. Everything happened in less than a second. Her hand smelled different, funny. There was more blood there, intoxicating, human blood that was not her own. But beneath that was another smell, another wolf like him, a male…it was his own comforting smell. He snarled. He couldn’t hurt himself, but he hated to be cheated out of the blood that flowed through the female’s veins.
He turned and ravaged the demons around her, if he couldn’t get prize meat, at least he could feast on demon flesh. He protected the girl, the one he wanted so badly, because she carried his scent, and together they sent the demons to their graves. The last one standing managed to slice through the female’s skin, spraying the powerful blood over the wolf. He wallowed in the scent, rolling in it, lapping up puddles of the ruby red liquid. He was so busy gorging himself on demon that he didn’t even notice when she left to finish her fight.
The sun that rose over his sleeping form left no evidence of the apocalyptic struggle that had happened the night before. The warm rays disintegrated all traces of the demons, leaving only one red-haired werewolf, and a few half-dried pools of the Slayer’s blood.

Oz woke up and lifted his head. He tried to swallow. His mouth felt dry; he must have slept with it open. He noticed a slight metallic taste. Oz tried rubbing the sleep from his eyes, but his hand stuck momentarily in something thick and half-dry.
He registered the smell of the blood, and what’s worse, he tasted power in it. This time, the wolf had murdered someone important.
Oz clamped his hands into fists and bellowed. He would have to leave this place, again, before someone came and saw him lying naked in the gore. “Not again!” The whisper was fierce, but barely audible, or maybe his ears were still ringing from his scream. His eyes were glassy as he ran. He had thought he’d found home, but it wasn’t like this was his first disappointment.