Oz swayed back and forth in front of the gold, not so inanimate, cheerleading statue and was fascinated by how the eyes followed his movements. Willow soon walked in and the moment she saw Oz a delighted smile lit up her face.
She walked over to him and cheerfully said, "Hi."
"Oh, that's what I was gonna say." replied Oz as he stood up and gazed at the sweetest redhead in the world.
"Whatcha lookin' at?"
"This cheerleading trophy," Oz answered as he leaned back down to demonstrate. "It's like its eyes follow you wherever you go. I like it."
Willow smiled and asked, "So did you like the movie last night?"
Oz walked with her and it was so natural that he wondered how he walked without her for so long. "I don't know. Today's movies are kinda like popcorn, ya know? You forget about 'em as soon as they're done. I do remember I liked the popcorn though."
"Yeah, it was good," Willow's eyes blushed at her favorite guy. "And I had a really fun time with the rest. I mean, the part with you."
"Well, that's great. My time was also of the good."
They stared at each other and even though their emotions for each other swelled up inside them, no one made a move. Willow tried to hint without spelling it out that now would be a good moment for some sort of lip action, but Oz just gazed on perfectly content with being in her company.
Seeing Buffy and Libby come into sights behind him, Willow declared, "Oh, there! I have…my friends, so I will go to them."
As Willow walked off with the blonde and brunette, Oz called out, "I'll see you then…later."
He couldn't help but watch her go with a grin. Unfortunately, it couldn't last since Larry and his friends decided to barge in on his private moment.
"Oohhh," grunted Larry. "Man! Oz! I would love to get me some of that Buffy, Libby, and Willow action! I mean it's like having a vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream sundae…only with girls!"
"That's great, Larry. You really mastered the single entendre."
Confused at first, Larry got distracted by his daily routine of knocking down girls books to prove how much of a straight guy he was, not that he actually liked it.
"Oh, thank you, Thighmaster!" He practically roared while Oz tried his best to ignore the pigheadedness.
Getting back on track, Larry demanded, "So, Oz, man, what's up with that? Dating a junior? Oh, let me guess. That little, innocent schoolgirl thing is just an act, right?"
"Yeah. She's actually an evil mastermind. It's fun." Oz sarcastically and very coolly replied. He would not give in to the jock's questioning nor would he insult Willow. She was too important and he was better than that.
"I mean, she's gotta be puttin' out, or what's the point? What are you gonna do? Talk?" All the jocks laughed and Oz rolled his eyes. "Come on, fess up. How far have you got?"
"Nowhere! I mean, he said he was gonna wait until I was ready, but I'm ready. Honest, I'm good to go here." Willow vented to her friends.
"He's a good guy, Will," replied Libby. "He just doesn't want to push."
"I know and he is great. We have a lot of fun, but I want smoochies!"
"Have you dropped any hints?" Buffy asked.
"I've dropped anvils."
Buffy briefly smiled and responded, "Oh, he'll come around. What guy could resist your wily Willow charms?"
"At last count, all of 'em, maybe more." Willow frowned at the discouraging thought.
"Guys as a majority are stupid, but Oz is one of the good ones. I promise, you totally snatched him up off the market." Libby reassured as they all sat down on a bench.
"Well, he'd better hurry and make it official," whined Willow. "I don't want to be the only girl is school without a real boyfriend."
"Hey now," Libby snapped as Buffy hung her head in complete despair.
Realizing her no-no, Willow jumped in saying, "Oh, I'm such an idiot. I'm sorry, Buffy. I shouldn't even be talking about…Do you want me to go away?"
"I wish you wouldn't." Buffy softly and honestly replied.
"How are you holding up, anyway?"
"I'm holding. Libby's been a huge help and I was going on two minutes there without thinking about Angel."
"Okay!" Libby burst and made her friends jump. "One, I'm still here and feel free to divert from the flow of the episode at any time and two, my "hey now" was also about how I don't have anything close to a boyfriend."
Libby raised an eyebrow at her girls and smirked at them. She wanted them to know that she wasn't mad, but a part of her was serious about the need for episode talk to take a backseat now that they knew.
"Oh, Libby, I'm sorry. I had no idea I was – we were – okay, deviating now." Willow rambled in apology and then came back strong. "How can you say you don't have anything close to having a boyfriend?"
"Because I don't?" Libby chuckled.
Scoffing, Buffy stared at her sister and said, "Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how many guys here like you?"
"Oh yeah. They talk about you all the time," agreed Willow. "It's not all gentlemanly, but you're highly desirable."
"Since when?" yelled Libby in total shock.
"Since you got here," Buffy answered just as loudly with a surprised smile on her face. "Do you not see them stare at you in the halls or in class?"
Libby was dumbfounded. She was an item of discussion? She was a source of the 'who's hot' kind of guy talk? There was no way guys checked her out that much. How did she not pick up on this?
"I'm stared at?"
"All the time." Willow said, nodding and pursing her lips in a grin.
Libby looked down and sighed, "Huh."
"I wouldn't be surprised if you could get a better prospect than Cordelia." Buffy lightly taunted as she looked thoughtfully up at the sky.
When she shot her eyes back at Libby, who gave her a very sarcastic glare, Buffy couldn't help but laugh and say, "Seriously, Libby, you're a catch. Make yourself available and the guys will be lining up to win you over."
"Now there's new and unknown territory," giggled Libby bleakly. "I'd much rather have a hang out night with you guys and Xander. Start at the Bronze and end with a movie fest?"
"I love that idea." Buffy smiled.
"Sounds great to me too. I'll give Xander a call. What's his number? Oh yeah. 1-800-I'm-dating-a-skany-ho." Willow spat in the midst of a happy moment.
"Meow," complimented Buffy.
"Really?" Willow proudly beamed. "Thanks. I've never gotten a "meow" before."
"Well, that earned a hiss and a claws gesture on top of a meow. Very good burn, Willow." Libby nudged her friend in the shoulder.
"Wow, the trifecta!" the redhead gasped. "I mean, I'm just saying, Xander and Cordelia…What does he see in her anyway?"
Xander and Cordelia were attempting to make-out in her father's car, but Xander wasn't as invested as he should be. Once again, he pulled away and Cordy was so close to losing it.
"What could she possibly see in him?"
"Excuse me? We didn't come here to talk about Willow," Cordelia wailed. "We came to do things I can never tell my father about, because he still thinks I'm a good girl."
"I just don't trust Oz with her. I mean he's a senior. He's attractive. Okay, maybe not to me, but – and he's in a band. We know what element that attracts." Xander explained in a huff.
"I've dated lots of guys in bands."
"Do you even wanna be here?"
"I'm not running away."
"Because when you're not babbling about poor, defenseless Willow, you are raving about the all-powerful Buffy or exclaiming about the wondrous Libby." yelled Cordelia in irritation and a twinge of jealousy.
"I do not babble. I occasionally run on. Every now and then I yammer."
"Yeah." He obediently answered.
"Look around. We're in my daddy's car. It's just the two of us. There is a beautiful, big full moon outside tonight. It doesn't get more romantic than this. So shut up!"
She grabbed his neck and pulled him in for a kiss, which Xander fully reciprocated, but little did they know that a large, harry, monstrous werewolf was growling and looking in on them from behind some bushes.
As it moved forward, leaves crunched beneath its feet and Xander's ears picked it up. He moved away from Cordelia yet again and asked, "Did you hear that?"
"What is it now?"
"I thought I heard something."
"Is Willow sending out some sort of distress signal that only you can hear?"
Xander glanced out the windows and listened carefully, but the sound had vanished. He looked back at Cordy and all he said was, "Huh."
When he smiled at her, Cordelia's face softened and she leaned in to kiss him again, but this time twigs cracked outside the car.
"Okay, now I know I heard something!"
"All right, that's it! Your mind hasn't been here all night. How about I just drop you off –"
The werewolf plunged its paw through the hood of the car and flailed about trying to claw and kill whatever it could. Cordelia screamed as Xander tried to bat it away, but neither were doing anything productive.
"I can't find the key!" Cordelia screamed.
"We should be movin'! Let's go!"
Thankfully, Cordy found the key and was able to drive backwards and break so the werewolf would fly off. As soon as they were clear, she drove away as quickly as possible, but Xander had to say, "Told ya I heard somethin'."
Buffy examined the hole in the roof of the convertible and inquired, "You're sure it was a werewolf?"
"Unless Xander and Cordelia were attacked by a demon that was identical to one, but since it had fur, claws, wolf-like snout, and tried to bite them, I'm going with the fact that my knowledge is right." Libby answered simply and good-humoredly, which granted her a smirk from Buffy.
"What she said," confirmed Xander.
"It was so awful," Cordelia said as she rested her head on Xander's shoulders, but he barely had time to comfort her because she shot back up finishing, "Daddy just had this car detailed!"
Giles rejoined the group with a newspaper in his hand and Buffy asked, "So, what's the word?"
"Seems there were a number of other attacks by a "wild dog" around town. Several animal carcasses were found mutilated."
"You mean like bunnies and stuff?" cried Willow. "No, don't tell me."
"Oh, don't worry. They might not look it, but bunnies can really take care of themselves." Oz comforted his girl and was happy to see that it worked.
Libby couldn't stop herself from smiling at them. She really did adore their love story.
"Yes, um, fortunately no people were injured," concluded Giles.
"That falls into "That's a Switch" column." Buffy mused as she looked at Libby.
"Not all werewolves are evil." Libby said. "They are a person 28 days out of the month."
"28 days?" asked Giles his protector. "Don't werewolves only prowl during the full moon?"
"Nope. They also prowl the day before and the day after. Yesterday was the day before."
Buffy looked at her watcher and said, "Looks like Giles' has some schoolin' to do."
"Yes, I must admit, I am intrigued." Giles grinned widely like an excited child. "Werewolves. It's one of the classics. I'm sure my books and I are in for a fascinating afternoon."
Everyone grimaced at the thought of researching through the books all day, but Libby kept inwardly laughing.
"He needs to get a pet," grumbled Buffy.
"I think that's what we are." Libby teased as she walked out of the parking lot.
"Sunnydale is becoming more dangerous all the time," stated the P.E. instructor as she walked in front of the seated students on the bleachers. "A full moon like tonight tends to bring out the crazies, but with some simple basics of self-defense each of you can learn how to protect yourself."
Leaning to her left, Buffy glanced at Willow and Libby, whispering, "Here's a suggestion: move away from the Hellmouth."
Libby raised her eyebrows in dramatic understanding as Oz bent down from behind Willow to tuck the tag back into her sweatshirt. The girls shared knowing and giddy grins, but Xander wasn't happy.
"Would you look at that? He's all over her. Psst! Hey, buddy, this is a public forum here."
"I think you splashed on just a little too much Obsession for Dorks," jeered Cordy, getting beyond fed up with her new hook-up turned boyfriend. She still couldn't figure out how that happened.
"Okay, everyone get into your assigned groups." The instructor drilled.
All the students got up and headed down to the table to find out where and what the groups were as well as the next step. Strangely, Libby actually felt a little lost. As a reality rule she was always paired with Buffy, but since this had to be a boy-girl team up deal the protector was separated from her slayer.
Libby trotted down to the table and saw that they were put into groups of four and you got to choose partners. The brunette immediately grabbed the pen after Xander and put her name down in his group.
"Cordelia doesn't mind you being her attacker?" Libby lightly teased.
"I think she's looking forward to it," smirked Xander.
When Xander looked back toward the table, he noticed a large band-aide wrapped around Larry's arm and asked, "What happened?"
"Oh, last week some huge dog jumped out of the bushes and bit me," Larry answered with more gusto than was needed. "39 stitches. They oughta shoot those strays."
Libby glared and snapped, "That stray was probably abused and saw you as a threat. It doesn't need more violence, it needs kindness."
Xander put an arm around Libby and boldly looked at Larry and declared, "That's why you never mess with my Libster."
Everyone began lining up for practice maneuvers with Buffy and Larry on the far right mat, Willow and Oz next to them, and Libby on the third with Xander and Cordelia standing behind her. The protector looked around the gym to see if she could spot someone heading over to her group, but she noticed that she recognized a lot of people in the gym. It wasn't that she remembered all the extra's faces, but that she saw them all around school. The thought never occurred to her. Obviously, now that Libby was in the reality where Buffy the Vampire Slayer was real, all the people would be too. She wasn't in an episode full of extras; she was in a school full of students. Libby began to spot specific people from some of her other classes and inwardly smiled.
Suddenly, someone stood out. Someone that made Libby's eyes open wide and heart rapidly pound. She straightened herself up and discreetly smoothed her hair into a higher ponytail.
Oh. My. God. Wentworth Miller. Wentworth freakin' Miller is in my group!
Gage walked over and gave a nonchalant nod to Cordelia and Xander as he stopped in front of Libby. His deep blue eyes scanned Libby and a satisfied grin curved his succulent lips.
"Looks like we're partners."
It took all of Libby's strength to not swoon at his smooth, unique voice, but somehow she managed to make herself appear indifferent.
"Fine by me." She slightly flirted as she readied herself for the demonstration.
Gage strolled behind her and planted his feet in a steady stance. He grasped her hip firmly with his left hand and hooked his right arm around her neck to clutch her opposite shoulder. Gage was surprised to feel such toned muscle on such a thin girl, but he didn't mind. It matched her hourglass curves.
"Okay, everyone listen up! I wanna show you what to do should you be attacked from behind," showed the instructor. "In this situation, bend forward, using your back and shoulders to flip your assailant over to the ground."
Buffy pretended to try and flip Larry and she felt so stupid. She only yanked his arm twice, but it was two times too many.
"Oh, Summers, you are turnin' me on!"
Then Larry grabbed her ass. Bad move. Buffy glowered in a rage and hauled him over her shoulder so fast that he smacked down on the mat much harder than he should have, but that's why Buffy loved her super strength. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared.
"And that works, too." Oz pointed out.
Buffy looked around and caught Libby's eye. The slayer shrugged and the protector shook her head with a knowing smile.
"You're friend's intense," Gage noted. "Can you do that?"
Libby turned her head and replied, "You shouldn't have asked that."
Gage was flipped and slammed on the mat before he could blink. He rolled over and up to look his partner in the eye. Libby's stomach flipped as she now expected him to be to be angry or humiliated or angry because he was humiliated, but instead he snickered.
"You're really one-of-a-kind, aren't you?"
The moon globe circled the earth globe and Libby swore she was getting sleepy. It wasn't Giles, but something about the rhythmic movement of the endless loop to his British voice made her want to yawn. Especially since she knew everything he was going to say.
"And while there is absolutely no scientific explanation for lunar cycle on the human psyche, the phases of the moon do seem to exert a great deal of psychological influence. And the full moon seems to bring out our darkest qualities."
"And yet, ironically, it led to the invention of the Moon Pie," joked Xander.
All the girls stared un-amused, but Giles got a good kick out of it. However, when he saw their disappointed looks, he silenced his laughter.
"You see, the werewolf is such a potent, extreme representation of our inborn animalistic traits it emerges for three whole consecutive nights, the full moon and the two nights surrounding it as Libby informed us."
"Quite the party animal." Willow pondered.
"Quite, and it acts on pure instinct. No conscience. Predatory and aggressive."
"In other words, your typical male." Buffy stated with no remorse.
Xander scowled and rebutted, "On behalf of my gender – hey!"
"Yes, let's not jump to conclusions." Giles concurred.
"I didn't jump," defended Buffy. "I took a tiny step and there conclusions were."
Libby swung her head from side to side. That line was even funnier when you experienced it first hand. "Not that this isn't educationally fun, but what needs to be clear is that the werewolf is a victim of being bitten and doesn't know what's happened to them."
Everyone looked at Libby in understanding and Giles asked, "Do you know who the werewolf is?"
"That's not the point," Libby replied. "There's a hunter out there trying to trap and kill the werewolf for its pelt so we have to find him before he finds the big and hairy beast."
"So, tonight we save the creature from the human." Buffy replied, the words tasting funny.
Libby, Buffy, and Giles scoured over what seemed like every inch of Lover's Lining in the Woods, but there was no sign of the hunter yet. This was the part that frustrated Libby the most. Despite the fact that she knew where something was, usually meant she didn't know how to get there.
"Anything yet?" Giles hissed when they all met up.
"Yes, and you won't believe what I saw!" Buffy gasped with teenager gossip. "Brittany Podelle was making out with Owen Stadeal, but he goes with Bara Williams so if she ever fou –"
"No, we got nothing." Libby interrupted.
"The same," answered Giles and then suggested, "I thought we might knock on a few windows, ask if anyone's seen –"
"Trust me, Giles. No one's seen anything." Libby saved her watcher from completing his embarrassment.
"Oh, yes, no. Of course not, no. Yes." Giles stammered as he made his way into the woods.
"Lead the way so we can finally find this guy." Libby looked to Buffy who lifted her flashlight in agreement.
The slayer and protector took a new path into the trees and Libby recognized where they were.
"He should be close. There's a net set up to trap the werewolf near here."
"You know where right?"
Just as Buffy was about to step on the trigger, Libby pulled her sister back and flung Kane out of his hiding place and into the net. With a shout and a thump, the illegal hunter was sprung up in the trap and swung over the young women.
"What the hell?" Kane bellowed down at them.
Buffy beamed at her protector and complimented, "You're good."
"Thanks," Libby smiled back in a chipper voice. "Giles! We got him!"
The watcher soon ran up to his charges and looked at the man in the net above them. "Well done." He almost snorted at the hunter.
"Who the hell are you people?" Kane demanded.
"We're the people who're gonna stop you from killing this town's werewolf." Libby answered in a very snarky tone.
Kane scoffed and wriggled in the net. "Let me guess. It's this freak show of a town's mascot?"
"Yes, and we love him very much."
Giles and Buffy exchanged intrigued glances at how sassy Libby was being. Of course, their intrigue was cut short when Kane began laughing hysterically above them.
"And you're laughing because?" Buffy sneered.
"Because it's funny thinking about you three actually associating with werewolves." Kane harshly responded. "This guy looks like he's auditioning to be a librarian and you two…well you're girls."
"I assure you, they're quite capable." Giles defended.
"And let's not forget, I threw you into your own trap." Libby bit back.
"Right. Let me ask you somethin', sweetheart. How many of these animals have you taken out?"
"As of today?" Buffy sheepishly asked, but Libby was right there for her.
"How many vampires and demons have you taken out? Cause I'm positive we beat you there."
Kane shifted himself in the net and exposed the fang necklace through one of the patches. "I tore a tooth from the mouth of every werewolf that I killed. This next one –"
"Will not bring it to an even dozen, murderer." Libby growled.
The hunter pulled back in shock and asked, "How did you know what I was – you count the 11?"
"Don't have to. See if you really want to make a pretty penny for its pelt in Sri Lanka then you're gonna have to get out of our town to do it."
"Okay, how the hell does she know what I've done and what I'm gonna say?" Kane demanded in a very loud and anxious yell.
"Because she's Libby," Buffy replied proudly, but switched back to disgust and said, "It really doesn't bother you that a werewolf is a person 28 days out of the month?"
"That's why I only hunt 'em the other three." Libby said at the exact same time as Kane did.
"Stop that!" The hunter gritted his teeth and began cutting his way out of the net.
"Whoa there!" Libby scolded as she sent the knife out of his hand and into the ground. "We can't have you tracking down our pup."
"Pup? Ugh! Get me down from here!"
"We goin' for the werewolf now?" Buffy asked, ignoring the shrieking man overhead.
"Right, well, we better get moving." Giles agreed as he hustled his girls back to the car.
Cordelia and Willow sat on the couch at the Bronze as everyone around them danced, kissed, and hung out in a big hormone bubble.
"With Xander it's always "Buffy did this, Willow said that, Libby knew this. Buffy, Buffy, Libby, Libby, Willow, Willow." It's like I don't even exist!" Cordy complained as she sat back in her seat.
"I sometimes feel like that." Willow admitted.
"And then when I call him on it, he acts all confused like I'm the one with the problem!"
"His "Do I smell something?" look."
"All a part of his little guy games. It's like he's there, but then he's not there. And he wants it, but then he doesn't want it."
"He's so busy looking around at what he doesn't have and he doesn't even realize what he does have." Willow slightly projected her feelings on Oz to Cordelia through the topic of Xander.
"He should at least realize that you have Oz." Cordy snapped.
"Hmm. I'm not sure I do. Oz and I are in some sort of holding pattern. Except without the holding…or anything else."
"What's he waiting for? What's his problem? Oh, that's right. He's a guy."
"Yeah, him and Xander, guys." Willow agreed with zest.
"Who do they think they are?"
"Couple of guys."
And on perfect cue, the werewolf jumped down and onto the table in front of Willow and Cordelia. They screamed and ran, causing everyone to do the same while the werewolf looked around for a meal.
Giles drove up to the Bronze and created a divider between all the people fleeing for their lives.
"You were right, Libby." Giles observed as he found a place to park.
"Who could resist Sunnydale's own house of hormones?" added Buffy as she and Libby exited the car.
Willow suddenly darted out of the Bronze and ran to her friends crying out, "The werewolf, it's in there!"
"We know! It's okay!" Libby called out. "Everybody move!"
Libby telekinetically made it easier for her and Buffy to get inside but once they entered the deserted club, the two slowed their pace and went on alert. There wasn't a sound and the place was completely trashed, but the slayer and protector knew the werewolf was still in there.
The shadow of the full moon beast flashed behind the entry door that led back stage and the sisters stealthily stalked through the threshold, up the stairs, and onto the stage.
"So who is this werewolf anyway?" Buffy whispered, but there was no time for Libby to answer.
The werewolf growled and lurked out from behind the drums, baring its teeth and towering over them. However, intimidating them didn't work because Buffy whipped out the chain and Libby telekinetically flung it around its neck. Both girls pulled on the metal leash, but the werewolf fought them.
Buffy was yanked into and over the drum set and as Libby held out her hand to thrust the beast back, it dropped on all fours and rammed into her. The protector fell to the ground and the werewolf scratched her upper arms as he bolted up and crashed through the window.
The slayer lifted herself up in time to see the wolf escape, but she was far more concerned for her sister. Buffy ran to Libby and helped her to sit while examining her wounds. The cuts were deep and four on each arm. Blood seeped out of the lacerations and into her shirt, but thankfully Buffy saw that her wounds weren't worsening. In fact, the bleeding had already begun to slow.
"You'll be okay." Buffy soothed as she helped the brunette up.
"Yeah, but let's please get back to the car so we can bandage me up?"
Just as Libby was finishing wrapping the sterilized bandages over her arms after extensively cleaning them by Giles' instructions, she heard her sister frantically screaming for their watcher.
Giles perked and jerked up at the sound of Buffy's voice and turned to Libby who gave him a look that said, "Yeah, you definitely just fell asleep on werewolf watch, forcing me to treat my wounds on my own…partially."
"I didn't see you there," said Buffy with a sigh. "I thought something had happened. Are you okay, Libby?"
"All I need now is some Advil."
Buffy smiled at her sister as she got in the car next to a newly wakeful and guilty Giles, who couldn't stop yawning.
"Yes, um, Libby's safe and I'm all right. I'm just, um, fine."
Libby and Buffy looked at each other and then at Giles and then faced the front without saying a word. Giles didn't need the power of knowing to know what his girls were thinking about his brief nap.
"Any sign of the werewolf?" the watcher asked as he put his glasses back on.
"No. I'm guessing you didn't see anything either from that vantage point of having your eyes closed." Buffy fake reprimanded.
"Honestly Giles, watchers are supposed to watch." Libby lightly giggled.
"Yes, well, it's gong to be light soon, so we…"
"Wait!" Buffy hushed them as she turned up the radio.
"Police say that the incident was apparently connected to the animal mutilation, which occurred two nights ago. The coroner's office has identified the body as that of Sunnydale High School student Theresa Klussmeyer, age 17."
"Buffy, we're gonna get this thing," guaranteed Giles. "We have another whole night."
"It wasn't the werewolf." Libby stated from the backseat. "It was Angel."
Buffy whipped around and demanded, "What?"
"I had no idea where he and Theresa would be in time to save her so I made a choice to focus on the werewolf," The protector explained. "He turned her into a vampire so after school tomorrow we're gonna have to…"
Libby trailed off at the devastation on Buffy's face.
"I'm so sorry, Buffy."
"It's not your fault. It's Angel's."
As the sun rose over the horizon and washed over Sunnydale, the werewolf lay in the grass after a long night of roaming and confrontation. Its fur and stature began to morph back to its true form and then there lay Oz, naked and confused in the grass.
He lifted himself up and looked around. "Huh. I should probably talk to Libby."
"I can't believe that Angel would go after Theresa." Buffy huffed as she paced in front of the table. "If he wants me then he should come after me!"
"That's how he's coming after you, Buffy." Giles gently replied, but it didn't make the slayer feel better.
"At least you stopped the werewolf from hurting someone." Willow tried to lift everyone's spirits with the silver lining.
"Except for Libby getting scratched." Buffy glumly pointed out.
Oz heart froze and terror struck every nerve when he heard that. He darted inside the library and went straight for Libby with the most concerned eyes she had ever seen (when Willow wasn't the source).
"You were scratched? What does that mean? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Libby answered. "You're only turned if you're bitten."
Oz heaved a lung-full sigh of relief and said, "Gladness."
"Yup and we have one more night to find and lock up the werewolf before the hunter tries to kill it."
"Another night?" Oz asked Libby. "And a hunter?"
Libby nodded and was going to press talking with Oz further when Xander went all – well Xander – and said, "But while we hang around all day doing nothing, there's a human werewolf walking around out there, probably making fun of us."
"The way werewolves always do." Willow sarcastically replied.
"But there's really no way to tell who it is…" Oz interjected as he glanced at Libby, who was staring intently up at him. "Is there?"
"Oh, sure there is. We don't need Libby to fess up its identity." Xander confidently squabbled. "Giles knows stuff and I'm practically an expert on the subject."
Willow piped up at the memory and said, "On account of once you were a hyena?"
"I know what it's like to crave the taste of freshly-killed meat. To be taken over by those uncontrollable urges."
"You said you didn't remember anything about that." Buffy leered in suspicion.
Laughing nervously and wanting to avoid where that conversation would go, Xander replied, "I said I didn't remember anything about that. Look, the point is that I have an affinity with this thing. I can get inside of its head."
"Of course it'd be easier if Libby would just tell us." Buffy pressured and caused more fear to build up inside of Oz.
"No, it's right to wait for the moment when someone has the opportunity to talk to him one on one." She looked up at Oz and he sent her a 'thank you' with his eyes. "Until then, I'm not telling."
"It's a good thing we trust you." Willow sweetly teased and Libby smiled at her.
"Right. Well, I'm gonna do this." Xander suddenly went into "affinity" mode and went inside the wolf's head. "I'm a big bad wolf. I'm on the prowl. I'm sniffin', I'm snarlin', I'm a slobbering predator, I'm –" Xander's eyes popped open at the epiphany that lit up his brain.
Oz grew nervous, yet again, as Xander stared him down saying, "Wait a second! It's right in front of us! It's obvious who I am! I'm Larry!" Another sigh of relief. "The guy's practically got "Wolf Boy" stamped on his forehead. You got the dog bite, you got the aggression, not to mention the excessive back hair."
"Still, that doesn't necessarily mean that –" Oz tried to not have Larry take the fall, but Libby subtly shook her head and Oz ended his thought.
"I'm gonna talk to him. Gonna force a confession outta him." Xander then turned and leaned down to stare Libby at eye level. "Because it's him isn't it? Yeah, it's him. I'm right, I am right, right?"
Libby curled her lips over her teeth at how his conversation would go with Larry and replied, "Sure."
"Ha! I'm gone." Xander exclaimed before he spun around and left with what he thought was self-esteem.
Once he was out of the library, Libby announced, "It's not Larry."
"What?" Willow asked.
"But you just said that he was." Buffy was so confused.
"Larry's gay. You see, Xander helps him accept it by talking to him as if his gayness were werewolf-ism. If Xander knew how the conversation would go, he wouldn't help change Larry's life for the better." Libby explained, but at the perplexed faces she added, "Unless you all want him to stay a big, rude jerk?"
"No, it's fine." Buffy agreed. As did everyone else.
"So what do we do about the werewolf?" Willow pried, wanting to help with something.
"Wait for tonight. We'll find it." With that, Libby got up and excused herself from the library…glancing at Oz as she left.
His eyes followed her as she left and when he turned back to the table, Willow was looking up at him worriedly.
"Right, but in the meantime, we need to cover our bases, Willow, check the student files. See if you can find anyone that fits the profile and see if Libby will acknowledge someone on the list." Giles ordered as he went into his office. "Buffy, if that doesn't work I believe I may have an alternative."
"Like what?" Buffy asked as she got up and followed him.
"Are you okay?" Willow asked and got Oz out of his trance.
"What? Yeah, I – uh – it's a lot."
"It is. But we can do stuff to help. Sometimes it feels good to help."
"Well, like looking up stuff." Willow tried, but Oz was far too distracted. "I'm gonna be doing that most of the night. You could…help me. Help together?"
"I can't. Um, uh…I'm busy."
"Oh, so –"
"I – I gotta go."
Willow watched as Oz literally dashed out through the double swinging doors and Buffy looked on with great sympathy for her best friend.
Oz scanned the halls for Libby, but he didn't see her. After peaking his head in a few classrooms, he decided to search outside. That was a good call because he found her sitting at a semi-secluded table by herself. She was going through one of her notebooks and seemed to be reading the pages, but Oz knew she was waiting for him.
He stoically walked over, but the closer he got the more he realized that she wasn't reading…she was singing.
"Snow White is doing dishes again 'cause what else can you do with seven itty bitty men? Sends them to bed and she calls up a friend, says, "Would you meet me at midnight? "The tall blonde sends out a cry of despair. Says, "Would've cut it myself if I knew men could climb hair. I'll have to find another tower somewhere, keep away from the windows."
Oz softly smiled at the sound of her voice and the changed story she sang. He almost wanted to wait until she was done, but he knew that what they had to hash out was more important. Regardless, he slowed his pace.
"Cause I don't care for your fairytales. You're so worried 'bout the maiden, though you know she's only waiting on the next best thing, next best thing. Once upon a time in a far away kingdom, man made up a story said that I should believe him. Go and tell your white knight that he's handsome in hind-sight, but I don't want the next best thing. So I sing, I hold my head down and I break these walls 'round me. Can't take no more of your fairytale love…"
Suddenly, Libby stopped and tilted her head to see Oz just standing there, staring at her with an expression she didn't recognize. Oh God! He heard me singing! Libby quickly shut her mouth and scooted over so Oz could sit down.
"You have a good voice." Oz flattered, very simply, very Oz-like.
"Ha, yeah, um, thanks." Libby shakily replied.
"What song is that?"
"Uh – something that's stuck in my head."
Oz grinned. "One from your reality?" When Libby raised her eyebrows in question, he said, "Willow filled me in."
"Oh, thank God. I still have no idea how to not bluntly say that."
Oz sighed a laugh with her, but they soon fell silent. Libby looked at his profile and saw how torn he was even though he wasn't expressing it.
"You know I'm the werewolf." Oz stated, more for himself than Libby.
"I won't tell them until you're ready."
After a few more minutes of comfortable silence, Oz turned to Libby and asked, "I don't get shot or eat someone tonight, do I?"
"No, I promise, Oz, you'll be fine. And I don't just mean tonight."
Libby swung herself around to the other side of the bench so the table was to her back and was preparing to tell him about Willow coming to his house and why he needed to let her in, when Oz randomly asked, "Would you ever consider singing with Dingoes?"
The protector jerked her head to his nonchalant face and shrilled, "What? No!"
Libby walked back inside to find Buffy after her time with Oz and she found her sister at her locker with Xander. The protector barely got the "hel" in "hello" out before Xander grabbed her arm and led her up a row of lockers.
"You knew." He hissed.
Libby coughed a burst of laughter and dropped her forehead to his chest.
"Not funny!" Xander protested as he glared at her curly crown.
When she came back up for air, Libby managed to wipe her eyes and get her breathing back to normal. "Yes, I knew."
"Why would – why did – why?!"
"Because you changed his life, Xander. You made him a better person. You should be very proud."
Xander rolled his eyes and banged his head against the little metal doors. Libby scowled at this action and pulled him away from the wall.
"And you're doing that because?"
"Because you can't do that! I was all mad at you and then you said nice things so now I'm not mad when I want to be mad and that makes me mad, but the wrong kind of mad."
Libby tilted her head and smiled up at her best friend. "I love how I followed that."
Xander returned her smile and said, "I love that you actually want to follow."
The two laughed together as Buffy walked up and hooked arms with her sister.
"You guys ready to get my undead greeting card from Angel?" asked a now very solemn slayer.
Libby gazed upon Theresa and her heart sank. It never hurt like this before. It's not that she never felt the loss of other people that were killed, but she had met Theresa. Spoken with her. The protector couldn't help but feel responsible, but in the end she swallowed her sorrow and turned to the book alter to sign her name after Buffy.
"She had a lot of friends." The blonde noted.
"Buffy, you can't blame yourself for every death that happens in Sunnydale." Xander comforted with the truth. "Neither can you, Libby. If it weren't for you two, people would be lining up to get themselves buried."
"But Angel did this because of me." Buffy said.
"And I made the decision to let him." Libby added.
"You guys can't save everyone and – and Theresa's awake."
The sisters rotated back to the coffin to see her rise from the casket with her vamp face on. She leapt out and onto the floor and headed straight for Buffy, actually shoving Libby aside to get to her. The slayer was thrown on the title, but was easily able to flip the vampire on her back.
She tore off one of the wooden legs that held the mourning wreath, but right as she was going to stake Theresa, the new vamp sneered, "Angel sends his love."
"I know." Buffy said before she drove the stake through Theresa's heart.
The slayer lifted herself onto her feet and tossed the stake away. Libby rubbed her sister's arm so Buffy knew she wasn't alone before taking a moment to close the lid on the coffin.
"Are you okay?" asked Xander.
"This isn't happening." Buffy mumbled in heartache as she hugged her best guy friend. "He's gonna keep coming after me. And Libby, which is even worse."
"Don't let him get to you. He's not the same guy you knew."
Buffy slowly leaned away and looked up at him. Xander gave her a twitch of a smile and then she bent down to get her purse.
"Back to the library?"
Libby nodded to her slayer and followed, but not before she sweetly cupped Xander's cheek in thanks.
The moment they were out of sight, Xander huffed, "Oh, no, my life's not too complicated!"
Oz dumped the chains out of the box and looked at them with more dread than he expected. Being aware that you're a werewolf is a lot worse than when you're oblivious. He attempted to lock his wrists, but a knock at the door stopped Oz from succeeding.
He wanted to ignore the person at the door, but the knocking turned into banging and they weren't letting up so Oz regrettably went and opened the door. Revealing a not-so-happy Willow.
"Willow, what are you doing here?"
"I had this whole thing worked out. And I wrote it down, but it didn't make any sense when I was reading it back." She burst out when she barged through the door and paced across his living room.
"Willow, this is not a very good time."
"I mean, what am I supposed to think? First you buy me popcorn, and then you're all glad that I didn't get bit and that my best friend's scratches aren't gonna turn her, which also means a lot to me. And you put the tag back in my shirt. But I guess none of that means anything because instead of looking up names to show Libby with me, here you are all alone in your house doing nothing by yourself!"
"Willow, we'll talk about this tomorrow." Oz tried to take her shoulders and show her to the door, but the redhead wasn't having it.
"No, dammit! We'll talk about this now! Buffy told me that sometimes a girl has to make the first move and now that I'm saying this I'm starting to think that the written version sounded pretty good, but you know what I mean."
"I know, I know. It's me." Oz admitted without actually admitting it. "I'm going through some…changes."
"Well, welcome to the world!" Willow exclaimed in a fury. "Things happen. Don't you think I'm going through a lot?"
"Not like me."
"Oh, what? So now you're special?" Will scoffed and turned away from him where her eyes fell on the table. "You're Special Boy…with chains and stuff? Why do you have chains and stuff?"
Oz instantly felt a build and churning in his stomach as the moon took its place in the sky. He grabbed his stomach and pleaded, "Willow, please! Get outta here!" as he tried to get away from her. Sadly, he only got as far as behind the couch before he started to morph.
"Oz? Oz, what is it?" Willow called out to him, getting very scared. "What's wrong?"
Fully transformed, werewolf Oz sprung up from behind the couch and Willow's scream shattered the air. She ran out the back door, but he was right on her heels. Making a swift turn off the sidewalk, Willow bounded up and over a fence. The werewolf was only seconds behind, but the young girl was able to slow him down by hitting him in the face with an empty trashcan.
Werewolf Oz howled after the impact and a freed Kane heard the call. "There you are!"
Willow sprinted through the forest as fast as she could but she started to fear that she wouldn't make it to the school fast enough. The werewolf had caught up from the lost time and she could hear his growling getting louder.
She jumped over a log, but something else tripped her feet and she tumbled down, nearly hitting her head on a large rock. Rolling over, Willow saw Werewolf Oz towering and snarling in front of her, but he remarkably stopped and sniffed the air.
The moment he lost interest in her, Willow scrambled to her feet and continued running.
Giles was finishing up putting the tranquilizer dart together with Buffy and Libby walked in, and not in the best of moods.
"Sorry we're a little late. I needed a few minutes after slaying Theresa." Buffy informed.
"Buffy, I'm so sorry."
The slayer put her hand up and ordered, "Not now, Giles. We can all have ourselves a much needed cry and plan for Angel's next move after we bag us a werewolf."
"About that." Libby joined in. "It's Oz."
"Oz!" Giles blurted out.
"No wonder you didn't want to tell." Buffy was caught off guard but forced herself to recover quickly. "It was for his and Willow's sake and not because he's a threat, right?"
"Werewolf Oz isn't too friendly, but no he's not the threat. Kane is."
"Yes, right, well, do you know where to find him?"
As if on cue, Willow crashed through the doors yelling, "It's Oz! It's Oz!"
"We know. Libby just told us." Buffy answered.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Willow shrieked at Libby.
"He didn't want me to." Libby rushed her reply out in guilt, but it looked like Willow's shock and anger was fading.
"Right, well, he did because he said he was going through all these changes and then he went through all these…changes."
"Where is he now?" Buffy urgently asked.
"In the woods."
"Let's go." Giles said and marched ahead, but Willow grabbed him by the collar to sop him.
"Go where?" She screamed. "You're not gonna kill Oz! Yeah, he's a werewolf, but he doesn't mean to be! Libby, tell him!"
"Willow, we'd never hurt him!" Libby eased her as they all continued for the door.
"We've put enough phenobarbital in this thing to sink a small elephant," said Giles. "It should be enough for a large werewolf."
Werewolf Oz snarled as he came upon the pile of meat and Kane readied his gun. "That's it. Let me see you. Come on, suppertime."
The wolf emerged from the shadows and bushes to get a better look at the meat and it was exactly what Kane needed. The hunter smiled, aimed, and chuckled, "Good doggy. Now play dead."
Libby swung her arm and the gun flew out of Kane's hands right as he pulled the trigger. The bullet shot out to hit a tree and Buffy shot out to kick Kane in the face, which was enough to make him go unconscious.
However, the werewolf lunged for Buffy and grasped her up in his powerful, animalistic arms. The slayer fought for freedom, but she was trapped in his hold. The protector saw this and hurled Werewolf Oz off, giving Buffy the opportunity to escape and land on her feet.
The wolf beast didn't waste much time in crawling back up and as he charged them, Giles pulled the trigger. The large tranquilizer dart hit him in the chest and Werewolf went down with an oomph.
"Oz!" Willow cried in disbelief.
"He's okay." Libby said as they all gathered around him.
"No wonder this town's overrun with monsters," taunted Kane as he stood and brushed the dirt and grass off his clothes. "No one here's man enough to kill 'em."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that." Buffy countered as she picked up his rifle and bent it in half.
At the look of confusion, shock, and fear on the hunter's face, Buffy threw the gun to his chest and ordered, "How about you let the door hit you in the ass on the way outta town?"
"And to be clear," threatened Libby as she telekinetically shoved him into a tree trunk. "If you come back, ever, we won't be happy."
Kane quivered a nod to both of them and left without another word. Feeling satisfied with how the battle went, the slayer and her protector knelt down with their dearest friend who huddled near wolfy Oz.
"So, nothing's gonna happen to him?" Willow asked, needing more reassurance.
"He'll be a little sore in the morning, but he'll be Oz." Giles confidently smiled down at the girls.
"This is all so weird. How are we supposed to act when we see him?" asked Xander while he walked the halls with Libby and Buffy.
"It's gotta be weird for him too, now that we know so much. I mean, now I totally get why you let him decide when to tell us, Libby."
"It seemed to be the best option." The protector replied.
"All I know is we'll never be able to look at him the same way again."
"That's a bad thing?" Libby wondered aloud, looked at Xander.
"He is still a human being…most of the time." Buffy agreed as she searched for change to put in the vending machine.
"Who are we talking about?"
"She's talking about Oz, you're talking about Larry, and I'm talking about both." Libby chirped.
"Hahahaha!" Xander fake laughed and Libby scrunched her nose playfully up at him.
Buffy smirked at them both as she got her drink and Xander noticed that a couple of guys pulled Larry's move of knocking books out of a girl's hands…and Larry picking them up for her.
"Hey, Xander, look about what you did…I owe you." Larry kindly thanked him again.
"Whatever did you do, Xander?" Buffy asked, already hearing the whole story from Libby last night.
"It's really nothing we should be talking about. Ever." Xander pressed, desperately.
"I know, I know. It's just, well, thanks." Larry put a friendly and grateful hand on Xander's shoulder and then took his leave for class.
"I told you…" Libby sing-songed. "You changed his life."
"Okay, fine, I did, but how bout we don't talk about it anymore." Xander finished as they all sat down at a nearby table.
"Okay, I promise." Libby crossed her heart with her finger.
"Weirdness is abounding. Maybe it's the moon." Buffy teased. "It does stuff to people."
"I've heard that."
"I don't know if that applies to everyone, but it will be a major factor in Willow and Oz's relationship." Libby observed as Willow walked past them and went outside.
"What relationship?" Xander couldn't contain it anymore. "What life could they possibly have together? We're talking obedience school, paper-training. Oz is always in the back burying their things and that breed can turn on its owner."
"I don't think Oz is the pet in the relationship scenario." Libby debated.
"Yeah, besides, I see Oz as the loyal type." Buffy interjected.
"All I'm saying is she's not safe with him. If it were up to me –"
"Xander!" Both girls hushed him. "It's not up to you."
Willow came up to her high school sweetheart and greeted, "Hey."
"Hey." Oz replied with a brightness that made Willow smile.
"Did you wanna go first?"
"I spoke to Giles. He said I'll be okay. I just have to lock myself up around the full moon. Only he used more words than that…and a globe."
"I'm sorry about how all this ended up, me leading them to shoot you an' all." Willow apologized, even though they both knew it was necessary.
"It's okay. I'm sorry I almost ate you and your friends."
"It's okay," tiptoed Willow. "I kinda thought you would have told me."
"I talked to Libby about it and she said she wouldn't tell, that it was my choice when I was ready. I just didn't know what to say." Oz confessed with real emotion spilling out. "It's not everyday you find out you're a werewolf. That's fairly freaksome. It may take a couple of days getting used to, but Libby's a good person to have around for this stuff."
"Yeah, she has a way of telling or not telling people important things like this." Willow responded. "And the werewolf thing is a complication."
"So…" Oz sighed as he got up to walk with his girl. "Maybe it's be best if I just…sorta…"
"Well, you know, like…stayed out of your way for a while."
Willow did not like that idea. At all. "I don't know. I'm kind of okay with you being in my way."
The two stopped and faced each other, hope rising in both of them.
"You mean, you'd still…?" Oz smiled in awe of the redhead in front of him.
"Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. And yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month, I'm not much fun to be around either."
"You are quite a human," cooed Oz in great admiration.
Trying not blush, but fully smiling, Willow said, "So…I'd still if you'd still."
"I'd still. I'd very still."
"Okay! No biting though."
Willow trotted off with the happiest smile on her face and Oz watched her go with an elated smile of his own, but when he looked again Willow came back and they had the most perfect first kiss. It was deep, spontaneous, accepting, and sweet. Willow was on an amazing high for the rest of the day and Oz was completely entranced by her.
"A werewolf in love."