AUTHOR'S NOTE This is it! I hope you enjoyed the story. I mentioned Mexico in the end because that's one of the few places that Oz says he goes when he's talking to Willow in "New Moon Rising."

The line in italics is from the episode "Wild at Heart."

DISCLAIMER I own nothing from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or X-Men.

When he awoke in the Danger Room, Oz tried to convince himself that it had all been a bad dream. The rational part of him (which sounded a lot like Giles) reminded him that when he was a werewolf, he did not dream. Then he saw the open doorway and he knew that it had been real.

Angrily, he threw his clothes on and headed for the elevator. Once he was upstairs, he burst into Xavier's office. "You idiot!" he snarled.

The Professor looked up from his work and chuckled. "I have been called many, many names in my life, my boy, but 'idiot' is not among them."

Fury dulled Oz's normal stoicism. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that stunt was? I could have killed somebody! And who knows what would have happened if I had bitten a mutant."

"Maybe the lycanthropy would have been negated by the pre-existing mutation," Xavier suggested mildly.

"So this was some kind of experiment?" Oz shot back.

Something steely flickered in the old mutant's eyes. "I would never gamble with the safety of my students." Any amusement in his voice had evaporated. Then he sighed and softened. "Oz, your friend Giles told you that we must realize that being a werewolf is a disease, correct?"

Still angry, Oz barely slowed his pacing. "Yeah."

"I have been thinking about that piece of the puzzle," Xavier said. "About how best I can help you. I know that you feel the need to lock yourself up – "

"To protect the people around me," Oz snapped. "And it works. I haven't attacked anyone in a long time."

Xavier waited patiently until Oz was finished, then said, "But is it really helping you?"

He stopped still. "What?"

"You are a human with a disease. For me to be able to help you at all, I could not watch from afar. By locking yourself up, you are preventing me or anyone else from being able to help you." He looked at Oz sympathetically. "I needed to see your mind as it was actively being affected by the virus. I would never have let you hurt anyone."

Oz sat down in a chair opposite the desk, his anger deflating him. "So what was the point of last night?" he asked tiredly.

The Professor merely stared at him for a minute. "How long have you been remembering the wolf's actions?"

"Couple months."

"And what about last night?"

"Of course I remember last night. You woke me up in the middle – " Oz stopped and stared at him. "You woke me up in the middle of the night."

Neither of them said anything. Kitty walked through the door into the office and stopped. "Sorry Professor. I didn't know you were busy."

"It's quite all right, Kitty."

Oz took that opportunity to dart out of the office. Thankfully, no one was around as he headed for his room. He closed the door behind him and looked at the bed that had gone untouched for the past three nights.

He leaned his head against the doorframe and groaned. What was he doing here? These people couldn't help him.

"So what, this was payback? I had this coming?"

For the first time since the week he had arrived, he heard Willow's voice again. But she had been wrong. It was not her who had the punishment coming. It was him. He was being punished for all of the people he had hurt by being infected by the wolf.

His duffel bag was on the floor by the foot of the bed. In the back of his van were all of the boxes Devin had sent. They had arrived soon after Oz had called for them. He suspected that Devin had overnighted them to show his anger.

He smiled sadly. Devin had never been the brightest bulb in the box.

As scared and infuriated as he was by Professor Xavier's actions, Oz understood what he was trying to do. That had been the first time that he was aware of actually being a werewolf. The mutant had psychically united Oz's mind with that of the wolf.

He knew that he should be grateful for the breakthrough and he probably would be when the last of his anger faded away. As he sat on the edge of the bed and nudged the bag with his foot, he also knew that he would find nothing else here among Xavier's mutants.

Never having been one for long goodbyes, he stuffed his belongings in his bag. With one last look, he left the room that they had so kindly lent him and headed for the mansion's front door. The full moon behind him, he had four weeks to travel unhindered.

It should not have been a surprise that Xavier, Storm, Scott, Dr. Grey, and the girl Rogue were waiting for him in the foyer. Storm smiled gently. "Leaving without saying goodbye?"

He shrugged. "That kind of stuff, not really my style."

Rogue ran to hug him, tightly but carefully. Then she smiled at him and disappeared into the living room.

Oz was able to keep the sentimentality to a minimum. He thanked the Professor, who smiled wisely and nodded. Scott shook his hand silently, clearly just glad that Oz was leaving.

At last, his found himself in front of Dr. Grey. As usual, she made him think of Willow and the familiar look of pain lit up her tired eyes. Finally he said, "You look like her."

She smiled wanly. "I know. Get yourself back to her someday."

He nodded. Dr. Grey handed him a slip of paper. "It's the address of a geneticist in Mexico. He's known for theorizing on mysticism and science. He may be able to help you."


Storm handed him his bag and kissed his cheek. "Goodbye."

With a final wave to the mutants that Xavier had called the "X-Men," Oz opened the mansion's door and climbed into his van. He turned the key, felt the engine shudder to life, and pulled out onto the forest road.

Step one on his road back to Sunnydale was done. In his pocket, he could feel the slip of paper that Dr. Grey had given him. Time for Step Two.