Much weirdness. That was her second impression upon meeting this Zen master werewolf, who also happened to be in a rock band. Her first impression was that he was really short.

She still got that impression.

Right now they were both sitting cross-legged on the floor. Nina was getting lightheaded from the deep breathing exercise they were doing. It felt like drugs, only not so good. Really cheap drugs, then. She figured that she should do something before she passed out. Oz appeared, accompanied by splotchy green and purple ghosts, when she opened her eyes.

"What's this supposed to be doing anyway?" she asked him.

Oz never bothered to open his eyes. "Absolutely nothing."

"Umm... I think I might be doing it wrong. Am I supposed to be blacking out?"


Nice cryptic answer, she thought. Angel had told her that Oz was flaky, but he never prepared her for this. Nina would probably be thinking 'Mistake!' if she hadn't trusted Angel implicitly. Then again, her thoughts were clouded when it came from Angel. She would have believed him if he said that smoking was good for your health. It didn't matter what came out of his mouth, it just sounded so good when he said it. When she opened her eyes, however, Angel's large, muscular body fizzled into this strange little man in front of her. It made her reconsider.

Still, he couldn't be all bad. He did agree to spend some time with Nina on his brief stint in L.A. In a city with nearly 8 million people and so much to do, you had to give props to someone nice enough to tutor a werewolf girl rookie.

"It was nice of you to sacrifice some of your weekend for me," Nina said. "And I have to thank you for that excuse for my sister. I don't think Jill would have bought anything I could come up with. She'd probably think I was a drug addict or something." It's not as though she had a sparkling clean record with respect to that, but anyway…

"Mmmm," was all he said.

Again with the usefulness. Maybe she could hire herself out as a Zen master. Just sit there and grunt at people without ever looking at them.

"Don't try so hard. Stop thinking whatever you're thinking and just breathe."

Wow. He does know how to talk! Nina did as Oz instructed and it was starting to work, at least she thought it was starting to work. It was soothing, less tingly. Things became quiet, at peace. Her senses were becoming contented, sort of like weed only less munchies. Except that Nina was always thinking, so that state of calm didn't last for very long. And her brain was connected to her mouth, so there went the quiet, too.

"You never told me why you started doing this."

Nonplussed, Oz simply said "Doing what."

Nina assumed that was actually a question, though his voice never changed inflection.

"Y'know, all the meditation and mind control. Angel said that you'd been a wolf for years and were living a normal, happy life. Then you packed up and became Buddha. How come?"

"It started with a girl."

"Ah." Now Nina understood. Guys were sweet but dim. "Isn't that always the way?"

"You too?"

"What?" She didn't get what he meant. Then she did. "No!" This stopped being relaxing, quickly becoming awkward and freaky, especially the more she understood his meaning. And that he was being serious. "Eww! You little perv! What would possibly make you say a disgusting thing like that? Definitely no girl troubles. You're sick! I'm so outta here!"

"My girl troubles had girl troubles."

It took a while for what Oz said to sink in as Nina was hurrying to put on her coat and shoes. When it did, she sat down and took her shoes off again. "Oh. Shitty."

To his credit, Oz hadn't shifted during her stormy disgusted rage session. Nina assumed a slumped, apologetic Zen position, though Oz couldn't exactly see her repentant posture, what with his eyes still being closed. "Sorry for calling you a little perv."

"That's okay. I can't argue about the little part."

Nina played with the aglets on her shoes, wanting to shrink away from the embarrassment. Not hers: his. Okay, hers too. She was an enlightened 21st century woman - from a blue state no less - and it still made her squirm. "I'm sorry I brought it up. That's got to be a kick in the junk, huh?"

"Muchly. Sitcom material."

"I can tell you're still single. I can smell it, and that is so icky and creepy and I don't want to think about it, but that's not what I'm actually trying to talk about, so I digress. Any thought on getting back in the game?"

Oz thought for a second. He actually opened his eyes to look at her! At least for a second. "No."

"Mind telling me why not?"

Oz shrugged. "I'm still hurting."

"Yeah, I guess I would be too." Damn, she was bad at this meditating stuff. Couldn't stop running her mouth off. "You never told me how you know Angel."

Nina expected him to sigh, or scold her, or something. Instead he just answered. "We both lived in Sunnydale. I saved his life once. He saved mine several times."

"Must've made you guys close."

"I guess." Men don't like to talk about closeness.

"Any werewolf/vampire vibes?" she asked him.

"Are you implying something?" Damned little perceptive bastard.


"You're hot for Angel."

"No! No. Definitely not. Well, yes." Nina tried to figure out why she was ashamed of admitting it. Did it sound clichéd; falling in love with the man you saved her life several times in three days? Probably. But dammit, she shouldn't be ashamed. Angel was man-pretty. "Any advice?"

"Sorry. None. Didn't really see much of him in that sort of light. Onstage mostly. Audience gets kind of dark," he said, referring to why he couldn't see anything. Nina figured that for a cop-out.

"Too bad. He hasn't been particularly receptive toward me so far," she sighed, and rested her chin in her hands. "He must rescue tons of girls every day. And I'm not talking a few land-whales. More likely twenty hundred pound supermodels." She cried through her fingers.

"I think you've got an inside track," he said, volunteering information for the first time.


"You're not quite human, so you can understand him. And you're blonde."

"He has a thing for blondes?" she asked hopefully.

"You could say that."

Nina cheered up… a little bit. "Score one for me, then. Too bad I can't use my new nasal intuition to sniff him out. He just smells like the meat section of a supermarket to me."

"It's hard to produce pheromones when you're dead. Lucky for you he doesn't smell like he's rotting. Yet."

Nina's face fell. She was mortified. The first nice piece of meat to come her way in a long time rots? Urge to kill: rising!

"Just Kidding," Oz said, still just as deadpan as ever. "That's the next lesson. Stoic."

That's a relief. She should have known something was up when he put together two complete sentences in a row. "Okay. Good. Stoic. And with the kidding."

"Mostly kidding."

Stop doing that! "Mostly? This better not be going where I think it is."

Oz nodded. "Probably isn't. Just trying to get a rise out of you."

"Bastard!" She let out a deep, calming breath. "Stoic," she repeated. Right, she could do this. Control your inner demon, Nina, control. And suddenly her brain is filled with images of naked Angel doing Tai Chi. Stoic isn't working at all. She's just too hung up on Angel, and it shows.

"He probably doesn't want me telling you this," Oz interrupted her daydreaming, "but he likes you too."

"What? You're not shitting me, are you?" Please don't be shitting me this time.

"I shit you not. When you don't talk you get very good at listening."

Nina frowned. "I wouldn't know."

"Trust me on this one."

"What do I have to do? Tell me what I have to do to get him. Please."

"I'm not psychic, though I have met a few in my day, but I'm guessing maybe talk to him about it."

"Smart ass."

"My best educated body part."

Wow. The little man actually talked when he warmed up to you. And the strangest thing was, Nina found herself actually starting to like the little guy. "I don't think I've ever met anyone as cool as you before."

"You should have seen me with my other hair."

"Thanks for the pep talk, coach," Nina felt more upbeat than she had in a while. Ever, even. And definitely the best since she'd been bitten. Maybe, just maybe, Angel was within her reach, and it didn't matter that her reach ended with a claw anymore. "I'm ready for more training. I think I can get this Zen thing down. Okay, what comes next?"

"A lot of these trance states involve mind-altering substances and hallucinogenics."

She considered what that meant for a while. "Got weed?"

"I play guitar in a rock band. Always."