Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: My Whole Life
Author: Ailie
Rating: G
Spoilers: Wild at Heart
Summary: An Alternate ending for "Wild at Heart."
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN.

"Oz ... Don't you love me?" Those words rang in Oz's ears as he walked to the van. After two years, two wonderful years, these had been her final words to him. And they had broken his heart.

"My whole life ... I've never loved anything else." And it was true. There had been other girls. Willow hadn't even been his first. But there was something different about her. She stood out from the crowd. From moment he first saw her, he knew.

And now he was leaving.

Veruca had brought out the animal in him, in more ways than one. Not only had he cheated on his love, no matter that it was unintentional, he had also taken a life. Love and life, the two things that Oz held sacred, and he had violated them both. How could he stay with her with that hanging over his head? How could he look Willow in the eye and say he loved her when he had caused so much pain? How could he look at himself in the mirror knowing that he was a killer?

Oz's van was usually a comfort zone for him. There was an air of familiarity about it. Today, it just brought back memories. Willow had been sitting in the passenger seat when he confessed he fantasized about kissing her. They had made love in the back on their graduation day. Once he had even cleaned for her, so that there would be enough room to move her things to her dorm room. And now it was going to carry him away from her. Maybe forever.

With a sigh, Oz put the key into the ignition. The engine turned over, rumbling ominously. This was it. He was really leaving. Leaving Sunnydale, his friends, his family ... his love.

There was a moment of hesitation. The key turned back, almost as if Oz had no control over it. He closed his eyes, trying to muster some resolve. He was going to go, he was going to do it for her.

But he couldn't get that last image out of his mind. The look of utter pain and despair that had darkened Willow's face when she found him packing. Her salty tears on his hands as he held her for the last time. Her voice, filled with grief to the point of breaking. "Don't you love me?"

"I do, baby. I do," Oz whispered. A single, solitary tear leaked from the corner of his eye. It ran down his cheek, catching in the crease at the corner of his lips and trickling into his mouth. The saltiness was a shock to him; he couldn't remember the last time he had cried.

Willow, was crying now, alone.

Oz couldn't take it any more. He opened the door and flew out of the van, not even taking the time to remove the keys from the ignition. His coat caught on the railing as he whipped up the stairs, and he allowed the nail to rip it rather than leave Willow alone for one more moment.

He burst through the door to find his love collapsed on the ground, weeping uncontrollably. "Willow."

She looked up sharply. "Oz?"

In an instant, he was kneeling on the floor with his arms around her. "Baby, I'm so sorry." Oz kissed the top of her head, allowing the tears to run freely now. They dripped through her hair and down her face, mingling with her own. "I can't. I can't do it. I can't leave you here alone."

Willow almost forgot to breathe in that moment. "Oz, it's alright," she managed to choke out between sobs. "We can make this work. We have to make this work."

They stayed that way for a long time. Willow cradled her head against Oz's chest as he rocked her back and forth. Some time later, they recovered sufficiently to break the embrace and look at each other.

"Oz," Willow whispered. "Are you sure this is what you need?"

"I've never been more sure of anything," he responded, "My whole life."