AUTHOR'S NOTE This is a story that I started writing a long time ago, then took a considerable time away from it, then came back over a year later. Therefore, the writing in the beginning is a little uneven. Bear with me – it gets better later on =)
DISCLAIMER I don't own these characters. Marvel and Joss Whedon do.
One would think that driving almost 3,000 miles over six days would stop the voices. No such luck.
The radio had been blaring through the past four states. Thank God the "Welcome to New York" sign had appeared about twenty miles ago. He was almost there.
"I knew, you jerk!"
Oz put a hand to his forehead. He could still hear her.
"But you wanted her…like, in an animal way?"
Tears gathered in his eyes. He couldn't block the memory.
"Like, more than you wanted me?"
She sounded so deeply hurt, so betrayed. He couldn't live with all the pain he caused her. That was why he left.
His explanation about the wolf was true. In fact, he'd felt it getting stronger for awhile. His blackouts were beginning to break. The memories came back to him like dreams. Very few and far-between, but definitely there. He could not afford to ignore it anymore.
He figured that Veruca's influence had only drawn the wolf out. Without her, he would have been safe for a while, but not forever. He hated the wolf.
A green highway sign caught his eye. Switching lanes, he pulled off onto the ramp for the exit for Westchester. There were answers here. There had to be. Oz knew that this was his first step toward recovery. Maybe one day, things would be different. He would have control again and he'd be able to make everything right.
Highways melted into back roads as dark forests rose up around the blue van. Keeping a close eye out, Oz slowed the vehicle while he looked for his destination. Two brick columns flanking a driveway marked what he was looking for.
Maybe here was where he could finally make Willow's voice stop.
Bobby was desperately trying not to fall asleep in class. It wasn't as though he didn't like Professor Grey, just genetic biology was not his forte. He was sure that DNA and chromosomes were interesting to someone, just not him.
"Huh?" The rest of the class snickered as Bobby looked blankly at his red-haired teacher.
Jean Grey cocked an eyebrow. "I asked you what form of acids make up chromosomes."
"Uh…" Bobby racked his brain, trying to remember. It wasn't happening.
But it turned out not to matter. Jean had stopped paying attention to her class. Someone was approaching. There was something strange about him. A sudden flash of feral viciousness left Jean shaky. Putting a hand to her forehead, she said, "Class dismissed."
Her students just stared at her for half a second, then scrambled for the door. When the last student was gone, she thought, "Professor?"
An answer came inside her head. "Come to the front hall, Jean. We will meet him together."
Jean left her classroom and hurried through the spacious hallways of the building. The ivy-covered brick mansion served as both school and residence and was big enough to house teachers and students quite comfortably.
A wheelchair-bound bald man with wise eyes met her in the mansion's front hall. "Hello Jean."
"Hello Professor." She smiled warmly.
"So you felt him as well?" he asked.
"Yes." Jean's eyes flickered briefly toward the front door. "I felt something strange about him. Something deep. Almost savage."
The Professor nodded. "I agree. But I believe you sensed the same about Logan when he first arrived."
She smiled. "I suppose so."
A knock suddenly came at the large front door. Jean opened it to reveal a man in his early twenties standing on the stoop. "Hi," he said, almost nervously.
"Hello Oz," the Professor said kindly. Oz looked confused and a little suspicious that this man knew his name. But he continued. "I am Professor Charles Xavier. You are at my school for Gifted Youngsters." He moved aside and let Oz come into the foyer.
"Hi," Oz repeated. He dug a news clipping out of his pocket. Scanning it, he looked from Professor Xavier to Jean. "I'm look for Dr. Jean Grey?" He held up the clipping. "This says she's the leading expert on mutation in the country."
Jean laughed. "I might not go that far."
"Well, you know?"
Jean nodded. "I'm Dr. Grey. You can call me Jean."
Oz shook her hand. He looked to Professor Xavier. "Not to be rude or anything, but how do you know who I am?"
The Professor just smiled. "We all have our secrets, don't we Oz?"
Oz looked severely uncomfortable for a moment. "I guess so."
"Jean will take you to a room where you can stay while you are with us." Xavier didn't say anything further, just smiled one last time and rolled away.
Oz watched him leave. "Is he always like that?" he asked Jean.
Jean laughed. "Yes. Follow me."
Oz picked up his bags and followed the red-haired woman. She reminded him painfully of an older Willow.
"And you sat there and you told me everything was fine?"
Just thinking about Willow made the memories return. Oz struggled to keep her out of his mind. He had just met these people. Crying in front of them might destroy his stoic image of manhood.
Jean hated using her powers to pry into other people's lives, but Oz's pain screamed out to her. She saw flashes of memories that included a girl with red hair and another girl with short blond hair, both underlined by that vicious feeling.
"Here is your room," Jean finally said when they reached a richly-paneled bedroom.
"Thanks," Oz replied. He put his bag on the bed, then turned awkwardly to his hostess. "Uh…I had a few questions I wanted to ask you. See, I kind of have this problem and I was hoping you could help me."
Jean looked intently at him. "I'll try my best. What's your problem?"
"Well see, it's sort of odd."
Jean laughed. He obviously did not know where he was. "Try me."
Shaking his head, Oz could not believe that he was saying this to a total stranger. But, then again, they could not help him unless he was completely honest with them. He took a deep breath. "I'm a werewolf."