Fur, Not Fangs

Summary: The 'monster' to win the Buffy's heart has a furry side, not a demonic one.

Warning: Sorry Bangel lovers and Willz fans; ain't gonna happen in my story. Hopefully doesn't rise to the level of Angel-bashing, but isn't Angel-friendly.

Timeline: Season 2, AU 'Reptile Boy'. Oz didn't notice Willow in 'Inca Mummy Girl'. He was too focused on his guitar strings. That's my version and I'm very happy with my delusions.

A/N: personal request by gopher101 for a Buffy/Oz fic. As well as a b-day gift to zigpal.

Thanks to my betas: AerynSpeedleCaine and zigpal.

Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission. Any dialogue paraphrased from .

Chapter 1: Reptile Boy

Daniel 'Oz' Osbourne looked up from his guitar when he saw a flash of blonde hair at the back of the room. There was that girl again. He'd noticed her around before. Devon said her name was Buffy or something. He didn't seem to have that great of an opinion of her, but Oz guessed that was because Devon probably hit on her and she turned him down. Not too many girls did that to his bandmate. All that did was increase Oz's opinion of her.

He watched as she talked to the two head fraternity guys, Tom and Richard. Just as they were finishing up their first set, Oz saw Richard grab a cup of punch and drop something in it. The look the guy shot across the room at Buffy made Oz very uneasy. He hurried over to the table as fast as he could without arousing suspicions.

While he engaged Richard in some inane conversation about the frat house's sound system, he switched cups so that he had the drugged one. Then he patted Richard on the back and made his getaway. He watched as Tom brought the drink over to the unsuspecting Buffy and she took a sip.

Standing where he could keep an eye on Buffy, Oz considered his options. When Tackle came to grab Tom and Richard so they could deal with a crasher, Oz slipped over to Buffy, who had gone outside for some fresh air.

"Hey," he said, tapping her on the shoulder.

Buffy turned to look at the new guy, hoping it wasn't yet another frat brother coming to hit on her. Tom wasn't so bad, but some of these guys… Man, they made her wish they were demons so she could slay them. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw somebody who clearly wasn't a sheep, not realizing that she did it audibly.

His expression became a bit of a smirk in response, but his eyes were still sweet. Whoa, where did that thought come from? She was just here to punish Angel for being wishy-washy, not to actually like someone. "Hey back. You're in the band, aren't you?" she asked to stop her line of thinking from going any further. Who knows, he might have a girlfriend anyway.

Oz glanced around to make sure nobody could overhear their conversation before he started stammering – an extreme oddity for him, "Yeah. Name's Oz. Uh, listen. Here's the thing…I know that when weird things go on, you're usually around somewhere to keep them from getting too bad, and if this is one of those times, then I apologize for butting in." Whew, he wasn't used to this talking so much thing; something about her though…

Clearly she didn't have a clue what he was trying to tell her. "What are you talking about?" she demanded confusedly.

So this wasn't one of those things she took care of. He pointed to her drink as he explained, "Those guys slipped something in your drink. I managed to switch glasses with them, but you might want to be careful about any other drinks they give you."

Buffy felt like throwing her hands up in the air and screaming at the utter unfairness of her life. Even when she tried to ditch her 'duty', it still managed to bite her in the ass somehow. "Huh. Guess this means I'm not off the clock tonight."

"Sorry," Oz said with a genuine look of regret for her. Still, he couldn't help but be a little happy he had an excuse to come talk to her. Now he knew that Devon just had a case of sour grapes where Buffy was concerned.

She gave him a smile – sort of a mix of friendly and grateful. "No. Thanks for the save. It's my own fault for trying to have a normal night with normal guys. I'm Buffy, by the way."

"I know. Why should you settle for normal?" he threw back with a raised eyebrow. He heard Devon call his name from the front door and started to turn back to the house. "I'd better get back. Be careful, 'k?"

Surprised at her reluctance to let him leave, Buffy gave him another smile, this time one of her 'mega-watt' smiles. "Will do. Thanks again."

"See you around," he said, the hopeful tone clear to even somebody as dense as the Slayer could be sometimes when it came to members of the opposite sex. It was a statement, but he said it almost like a question…like an invitation or something.

She couldn't stop the blush from rising in her cheeks as she nodded back, "You bet."

When she got back inside, Buffy looked around for Cordy and watched the brunette stumble up the stairs. She figured her best chance to catch these guys red-handed was to go along with their plan. As she made her way towards the staircase, she made sure that she weaved and looked properly drunk. But she gave Oz a quick glance so that he'd know she was in control. He gave a slight nod back, guessing that she was going to do her thing again.

Once she found Cordy passed out in a room, Buffy quickly found a phone to let Willow know what was going on, but that she was in control for now. Willow said Buffy had 30 minutes before she was calling reinforcements to come help – despite the awkwardness that would be caused. She was about to add something when Buffy heard somebody about to come in and hissed her goodbye before quietly hanging up and making it look like she passed out on the bed.

The blonde Slayer fought the urge to rip Richard's arm off when he came in and started fondling her. The sleaze was going to molest them? Well, there was always the first time for it to not be a supernatural baddie. Oh, she was gonna make him hurt – human or not.

The thought about this being non-Slayery went straight to hell when Tom came in and announced that they were meant for somebody else. The way he said it made Buffy think he wasn't talking about the fraternity president. All that '…for the one we serve' crap Tom was spouting. And she thought he was a decent guy!

Sure enough, she and Cordy were dragged downstairs and chained up on the wall.

Since they all thought Buffy and the other girls were helpless, they didn't pay too close of attention to her. She carefully pulled against the chain holding her in place. When she felt it start to give, she waited for the right time to pull it completely loose.

Just then, Cordy woke up and started blaming her for getting them into this mess. Yeah, like it was Buffy's idea to get mixed up with college guys. Sure, she was the idiot who went along with it because Angel was being all standoffish, but it was Cordy's sleaze of a boyfriend who drugged them. They watched as the frat guys did their little ritual to call the snake demon thing, Machida.

When nobody was watching her, Buffy gave her chains a final yank to free herself. Before she could help the other girls, the guys moved to attack her. This was where the chains actually came in handy; she was able to use them as a weapon to knock the slimeballs out. Once she knocked Tom down, she took the sword he was holding and used it to cut through the chains that held the other two girls.

Her distraction almost cost her though. It gave Machida an opportunity to slither up behind her and wrap her in those scaly arms of his, forcing her to drop the sword. She felt his hot breath on her neck and drove her head back as hard as she could into his. The pain and shock caused him to loosen his grip, and she pulled free, picking up the sword as she did. Then she turned around and swung, not really caring which part she hit, as long as she hit something. The black blood that spurted from both Machida's head and body made her shiver in disgust before she looked at her fellow sacrifices to make sure they were okay.

As she did, they heard a scuffle upstairs, then footsteps thundering towards them. Buffy pushed Cordy and the other girl behind her in case it was another attack. She breathed a sigh of relief to see Willow, Giles, Xander and Angel racing to help. Guess it was more than 30 minutes…or Willow panicked and blabbed. Right now, Buffy didn't really care which it was, as long as it meant she didn't have to fight anyone else and they could leave.

But first, she had to get past her Watcher. He was standing there with a stern look on his face and seemingly ready to go into full lecture mode about her lack of responsibility. Willow and Xander grabbed Tom to lead him out of the basement while Cordy attached herself to Angel's side like a leech. Ooo, bad mental image there! The pair followed the others, leaving her alone with Giles and a bunch of unconscious guys.

She started towards him and allowed her own face to show her shame for her actions. "I told one lie; took one night off – although in the end, not off so much. I'm sorry for lying," Buffy finished, staring at her shoes.

His expression instantly changed to one of more understanding, and he used his fingers to tip her chin so she was looking at him. "I'm sorry I made you. I know the sort of dangers you have to face; that's why I push you so hard. However, if I don't let you have something to live for, all I'll manage to do is drive you to an early grave. I'd rather not go through that nightmare again for a very long time. So from now on, I'll stopping prodding you…maybe just stick to an inordinate amount of nudging. How does that sound?"

Buffy beamed at him. "Perfect, Watcher-mine." She took his offered arm as they walked up the stairs together. "Oh, I did meet a guy tonight. He's the one who switched the drinks for me so I didn't get drugged like Cordy. He doesn't know about me being the Slayer…exactly, but does know that sometimes I take care of bad situations. Not sure if he thinks I'm a vigilant or something."

"I believe you meant vigilante," Giles corrected. "So I take it you weren't wearing your button that said 'I'm a Slayer, ask me how!'?" he teased.

"Funny. Just for that, I won't pull my punches in training tomorrow," she threatened.

The Bronze

Couple nights later…

Putting her drink down, Buffy finished reciting why she was allowed to join them, "…So Giles actually encouraged me to come hang out with you guys tonight – as long as I promised to do a sweep later."

"That's great!" Willow exclaimed. "Does this mean no more lying to Giles? Please? 'Cause it was horrible trying to keep him from calling you the other night."

Buffy's expression turned teasing. "Yeah, he told me about the scolding you gave him and Angel. Said it made him feel about 3 feet tall."

"Really? Cool!" Willow leaned over so Xander wouldn't hear the next part and make a snarky comment. "Speaking of Angel, when he found out you were in trouble, he went all 'grrr'. It was really sweet – in a scary sort of way."

Before Buffy could answer Willow, she felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around to see Oz standing there. "Déjà vu."

"All over again," Oz finished. When she gave him a blank look, he explained, "It's a saying. Listen, the band's on a break right now, so I was wondering if you'd like to dance with me?"

Glancing at her friends to be certain they didn't mind, Buffy took his hand and stood up. "Uhh, sure."

When they got out onto the dance floor, Oz started with, "So, I see you're doing okay. Saw the news about the fraternity."

Buffy moved her arms to a more comfortable position. Dancing with somebody almost her height was different from other guys; not bad, just different. "Yeah, thanks again for the save. I'd hate to think about what might have happened if I hadn't been awake the whole time," she said with a shudder.

He tightened his grip slightly, then asked, "Will I ever be able to get the full story from you?"

"I'm not sure," she admitted. Then she decided he deserved some kind of explanation. "It's not that I'm not grateful for your help, or that you aren't a great guy – which from the first thing makes me think you are – but my secret isn't exactly a safe one to know. Not just for me, but for you, too."

"Ahh. Does that mean I can't ask you out either?" Oz whispered in her ear, sending the nicest shivers down her spine.

She stuttered, "Like on a date?"

Oz had to admit that it felt good to fluster her, but he didn't want to scare her off. "That's generally the plan. But if you'd rather keep it casual, it can just be a 'friends hanging out' deal instead."

"Let's try that one to start with," Buffy answered with a sigh of relief. "The last guy I tried to date got too excited about the danger that is my life."

"Then hanging out it is. Should we start with lunch tomorrow at school?" he asked as the song was heading into its final chorus.

She nodded. "Sounds great."

Seeing his bandmate glaring at him from near the stage, Oz pulled back a little. "Oops, Devon's giving me the evil eye. Either the band's about to go back on, or he's upset that you're dancing with me."

Buffy turned to see who he was looking at. Oh, that guy! She rolled her eyes at the memory. "Why? What did I ever do to him?"

Oz just shrugged in reply, "Turned him down. His male pride is all hurt."

Like that was the first time it ever happened to him. Now Buffy was a bit annoyed at the guy for holding a grudge. "Well, he shouldn't have called me 'babe' then. He's lucky I didn't break something."

Not wanting to ruin the moment they had earlier, Oz interrupted her mini-rant with another smile. "I'll see you tomorrow, Buffy."

It worked 'cause she smiled back automatically. "'K. See you then, Oz."

Walking back to the table, Buffy couldn't help but compare Oz to her other sorta love interest. Angel's words to her a few nights ago kept ringing in her mind about how they could never have a future. She mainly accepted Tom's invitation to the frat because she was irritated with Angel. Oz, on the other hand, seemed like somebody she could genuinely like.

To be fair, Angel was probably right about everything he said; it was just the way he said it that pissed her off. Well, that and the fact he let her fall for him before he realized it was a bad idea. Couldn't he have figured that out earlier and saved her some heartache? So now she just had to work on putting him back into that box of 'annoying cryptic guy' and not 'tall, dark and romantic guy'.

When she sat down, Xander started sharing the news about all the bad things that happened to the members of the fraternity. Then Willow got back to the question of Angel and his romantic grrr-ness. As if his name conjured him, Angel appeared behind Xander just as the living brunette complained about his dead rival.

Ignoring Xander's comment, Angel only had eyes for Buffy. He gave her his best Angel-grin and said, "I hear this place, uh, serves coffee. I thought maybe you and I should get some. Sometime. If you want."

Buffy sighed exasperatedly in her mind. So he was back to interested again. She understood him blowing cold, 'cause, hello, he was cold. But why/how was he doing the hot thing? A couple days ago, she would have been all over that invitation. Heck, even now it was a little tempting. Then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye and saw Oz up on stage playing. As luck would have it, he looked up right then and caught her eye, giving her a small smile. That made her answer easier.

"I think maybe we should just stick to patrolling," she told him after pulling him away from the table to give them some privacy. "Even though you could have said it better, you were right about there being no 'us'. I can't keep doing this yo-yo thing with you where you go back and forth about whether we should be together or not. See ya later." She smiled sadly, then grabbed her bag from the table, telling the others good night before walking out.

A/N: Next…What happens if Oz became a werewolf sooner?