"One. Two. Three. Four, I declare a thumb war!" Buffy and Tara had resorted to thumb wrestling while waiting for Willow to return. Neither of them had noticed the time, had they, then they would have realised that Willow had been gone for over an hour.
Willow remained frozen in the back of the car, wherever she was going, she was headed there fast. To her credit, she hadn't screamed, for which Oz was grateful. He had heard Willow screaming only once before and it had hurt his ears and made them ring, he dreaded how much worse that would sound with his enhanced werewolf hearing. Instead, she had sat in silence, staring at him with wide eyed fear. Her heart raced uncontrollably, the blood pounding deafeningly in her eyes and making dark spots swim in front of her eyes. She fought the urge to vomit and pass out, the rational part of her brain telling her to pay attention to where she was going, to look for some sign of where she was heading so that she could maybe plan her way back if an escape made itself available.
Oz had said nothing since they'd gotten into the car, his eyes remained locked on her, examining and studying her. Somehow he had managed to keep reasonably cool and calm, his features staying locked in their more human form.
As the car slowed, Willow thought she was going to have a heart attack, the blood pounding painfully quickly through her veins. She hadn't realised that she had pressed herself up against the door, her body automatically going into a self preservation and trying to get away from her kidnapper. As the door was ripped open, she spilled into a dark room, from the smells that flooded her senses; she knew without doubt that she was in a garage. Oz walked slowly around to stand above her before grabbing her arm and dragging her into a room, a heavy metal door slamming loudly behind them, leaving her trapped. For the first time she open her mouth and screamed!
"Why isn't she back yet?" Tara had seen the time and was pacing the kitchen frantically. Buffy could only shrug, she wanted desperately to provide some answers, to comfort the panicked woman but she had no answers, her brain not working quickly enough to supply a supportive word. "I'm sure she's fine." Buffy offered, immediately making Tara rush for the door, the slightest tremble in her voice had told Tara that Buffy was as far from sure as she was. "I'm going to find her." Tara declared, storming towards the front door, leaving Buffy with no other option than to chase after the blonde.
As soon as Willow had started screaming, Oz had lost the control he'd fought so hard to maintain, his face twisted and contorted onto that of the wolf. More often than not, his primary appearance had been half wolf, half man, most comfortable in this form, he had the power and fear factor of the wolf and the clarity and control of a human.
"Shut up, bitch!" he snarled, his jaws gnashing at the woman who had so much control over him. It was because of her that he had lost control of himself and her unwillingness to compromise over her leaving all those years ago had twisted him into the man he was today. Willow's mouth clamped shut but in her head the scream continued and made her dizzy.
"Why are you screaming? You made me like this, it's because of you." he snapped, "It's always been because of you." he added under his breath.
Willow found herself trapped in the corner; she had been totally unaware that she had been moving until her back hit the wall. "Why, Oz?" she whispered, bile burning the back of her throat as she spoke. "Why do you want to do this?" the young mans eyes flashed red with fury.
"Why?" he bellowed, the word ending in a growl that chilled her to her core. "You left, you tortured me by leaving, and now....." he paused briefly, "It's time for me to show you what that's like!"
He pulled her viciously to her feet before pushing her back into a high backed chair that sat in the centre of the room. Willow began screaming once again, and Oz reached for a roll of industrial duct tape, her screaming pierced his ears and threatened to force him over the edge. As he taped her mouth closed, he sighed. "You said you loved me." he told her, pacing back and forth in front of her. "You kissed Xander and I forgave you." Unable to scream, Willow's eyes darted around the room looking for an escape route, there were no windows, no doors other than the huge steel one they had entered through. No hope. "I gave you everything I had." he continued, his face darkening with every word. "And you walked out, without a second thought to me or your friends." Behind her gag, Willow whimpered in disbelief, so much time had passed and he was still dragging up the past and now, trying to punish her for it.
"And now," his voice had taken on a much more menacing quality that sent shivers through Willow and chilled her very soul. "I find you are back. Not to look me up, say; 'Hey Oz, I'm sorry for destroying your life.' But you're here, carrying on like nothing happened and fucking around with A WOMAN!!!" his last two words erupted from his chest and he had crouched down so that his face was only inches from her own. Willow could smell death and decay on his breath and guessed that he hadn't long eaten, hopefully it was a something as opposed to a someone.
"I should make you feel the pain that I felt." he said after many minutes of silence. "The pain that I feel. To rip your heart like you ripped mine."
He wandered around the room, prowling like a caged animal over to a shelving unit that Willow had, until that moment, not seen. As Oz turned back to look at her, she saw the light glinting off something metallic, as he took a few steps nearer to her, she saw a long bladed knife in his hand, the blade sharp and serrated and reflecting the dim light.
Tara had burst into the sunshine and almost immediately seen a large box lying in the street, its contents spilled over the pavement for the world to see. Instinctively she knew that Willow had been carrying it back from her mothers and ran towards it, hoping to see some sign of what had happened to her one true love. As she reached the box, she discovered that the large ivory material that was strewn across the pavement was a wedding dress and her knees buckled, spilling her onto the floor. Buffy had caught up with her; apparently slayer speed was no match for the blind panic of lost lovers. "You still sure she's fine?" Tara snarled up at her, the anger and hatred spilling from the woman before her actually startled Buffy and made her take a back step. "Tara, I...." Buffy stuttered, "We'll find her!" Buffy stated, her voice had taken on a hard edge that come from knowing that, as the Slayer, she would triumph, she had to - failure just wasn't an option!
The knife cut through the air and instinctively Willow pushed herself backwards, toppling from the chair and landing heavily on her side. Oz snarled, after the reaction Willow had had the night before, he wasn't expecting her to be this much trouble. He had looked forward to changing Willow the way she had changed him, but now, she just wasn't cooperating. To her credit, Willow had managed to get to her knees and was crawling for the door, but Oz knew that even if she reached it she wouldn't be able to open it. The room had been designed especially to contain him during the full moon before he'd given in to his darkness.
Oz growled as he grabbed the delicate ankle of the redhead and dragged her backwards, scraping the skin on the palms of her hands as he did so. In one fluid movement, Willow found herself flipped onto her back and staring up into the enraged, half wolf face of her first lover.
His hand came down and the knife it contained sliced through her shirt effortlessly, leaving a thin trail of blood in its wake. Pinning her to the floor, Oz sat astride the terrified woman he had once loved and stared down at the fresh wound across her collarbone. Cocking his head like a curious puppy, he studied the rich smelling life fluid before leaning in and licking her wound clean.
Pulling back, Oz panted, actually panted, his features contorting into a hideous grin. Willow's eyes widened further in terror and the knife came down for a second time, opening a larger wound across her chest from which he lapped the scarlet fluid greedily. 'Oh god, this is it, this is how I'm gonna die.' Willow's mind told her, 'I'll never get to see Tara again, to tell her what she means to me.' As the image of the blonde woman filled her mind, Willow found a new strength and courage from deep inside her. 'I will get through this.' she screamed to herself, 'I will marry Tara!!' Willow brought her knees up to her chest as best she could and kicked up into the soft belly on top of her sending Oz flying across the room and landing in a bone breaking heap in the corner. She struggled to her feet and ripped the tape from her mouth. Oz was shaking his head as he climbed to his feet. "You think you can come back here and rub your perfect life in my face?" he shouted, approaching her more cautiously. Willow went on the defensive, circling the man-beast before her hoping that she would get a total look at the room and maybe find a weapon or something that she could use to defend herself. "You know what, Oz?" she said, hoping she could find a way to talk herself out of the deadly mess she was in. "I did love you, I left because of the Hellmouth, not because of you and if you had spent one second to listen to my reasons instead of freaking out, then maybe things would be different." Her eyes never left him as she completed her first circuit of the room, her eyes catching a glimpse of a large metal bar. In the brief moment when her attention wasn't entirely on him, Oz took his chance and leapt at her, flying across the gap between them and knocking Willow to the ground, landing on top of her snarling and drooling.
Buffy had decided that if Oz was responsible, then there was only one place in the world he would have taken Willow. One place that was far enough away from people to do whatever it was he was planning, and one place where she would be completely trapped. Despite her best efforts to dissuade Tara from coming along, she was there, alongside Buffy in her travels. To her credit, she kept pace remarkably well and the fear that she was undoubtedly feeling was well hidden.
As they rounded a corner into the dockyard, Buffy pointed out the abandoned building in which Oz had a secure room. "That's it." Buffy said, pointing out the building that was their target. Tara hadn't spoken since they had left and now she picked up the pace, sprinting towards the building with a speed that had Buffy jogging to keep up with her.
Under the snapping, snarling body of Oz, Willow mentally chastised herself. 'Oh good going Will!' her mind berated her, 'You couldn't have kept your mouth shut?' Images of Tara flashed into her conscious once again, giving her the will to carry on and fight, it was the only thing that stopped her eyes rolling back in her head and her passing out. Something smashed heavily into the door and made Oz jump off of her, his wolf instinct turning at the sound and trying to attack it, giving Willow the chance to take a swing at him, knocking him once again, off his feet. She ran across the room, snatching up the metal pole she had seen and wielding it like a baseball bat, turning on the ball of her foot to face Oz. By now, he had given in to his animal instinct and transformed completely, now a full werewolf, Willow had never seen anything so terrifying in her life. Outside the door, whatever it was that was trying to get in, was succeeding, the door opened half a crack and flooding the room with natural light. Oz howled, his confusion and rage pouring from the spine chilling howl.
"Willow!" Tara's scream broke through the spine chilling sound and kept Willow grounded, forced her to focus and suppress the bile and vomit that stung her taste buds. "Get away baby." Willow yelled, the sound of her voice dragging Oz away from the door and snapping his attention back to her. He attacked without a second thought, she swung the bar with everything she had and rejoiced when it contacted the side of his head with an audible 'crack!' sending him sprawling across the floor, dazed and confused.
Buffy ripped the door open in time to see Oz flying across the room and a jubilant smile spreading momentarily over Willow's face. Tara rushed into the room, grabbing Willow and kissing her fiercely, before anyone had a chance to react, Oz had shaken off the blow and was steeling himself for a second attack. Tara turned to see him shaking the final dizziness from his head and crouching slightly to launch himself for a second attack. He growled at her, his eyes flaring red as she took a step between him and Willow. Balling her fists she took a single step forward, as did Oz who growled once again. To the total astonishment of everyone present, Tara growled right back at him and punched the wolf in the muzzle, drawing blood from beast. Even in his wolf form, Oz paused regarding this strange blonde with a confused and astounded expression that neither Buffy nor Willow had ever seen on the face of an animal.
Tara was beyond furious, this pitiful creature was trying to exact revenge on a woman who no longer existed and for what? For wanting a better life without death and demons on your door? The selfishness of the man incensed her and she really hadn't considered the ramifications of punching a werewolf.
Luckily, Buffy had regained her Slayer sensibilities before Oz. She took aim with the axe and swung, hitting the wolf firmly in the back of the neck, slicing his head cleanly from his body. His body hit the floor solidly.
Willow sank to the floor, her mouth still gaping at what she had just seen. Tara's knees also lost the ability to hold her up and she dropped to the floor next to Willow. "I can't believe you did that." Willow whispered as she wrapped Tara in a hug, "You punched a werewolf.... for me!" she met the smoky blue expense of Tara's eyes and saw her own surprise mirrored there. "I did!" Tara replied, her voice shaking and stunned.
Willow's hands reached for the soft face of her fiancée and cupped it softly, her thumbs caressing her cheekbones. Neither woman spoke, Willow leant in and kissed the full lips of her angel, her tongue gently pushing past them to start the seductive dance of passion that they had choreographed perfectly over the years. Tara's hand followed an automatic step, coming to rest on the nape of Willow's neck, stroking gently and eliciting a soft moan.
As they pulled apart, they were almost surprised to find themselves in a dingy room, with a decapitated werewolf on one corner and Buffy stood, grinning in the doorway. "Let's get out of here!" Buffy said as the women separated from their embrace. They didn't need to be told twice and helped each other to their feet. With one final glance at the snoring wolf, the three friends stepped out of the solid steel door, slamming it forever behind them.
As the phoenix of revenge meets its maker, the ugly truth reveals itself. In the end, it has no place, no real purpose and provides no comfort.
Life is ultimately the death of us all, people find it in many different forms, addiction, phobia, hate, or obsession. Each soul battling through each second on a desperate hunt for its other half, for the one thing that will make it complete.
From love comes the clouded vision of eternity, the brutality of passion and the clarity of hate. We are all slaves to our emotions, chasing the impossible dream, only to have it destroy us.
In the end, all we have is the terminal longing for a love that will end us all.