Once in a Full Moon

2003

WR: Oz . . . don't you love me?

Oz: My whole life . . . I've never loved anything else.

He still felt that way, even after all these years.

Daniel Osbourne sat in front of his cabin on a mountain in Tibet, his new home. Since moving back here, he had learned to manage his transformations more, but not completely. In times he became stressed or angry, for example, he would change into the werewolf again and loose himself in it. This was why he had left Willow in the first place. She was in danger around him, especially at times when he couldn't control his emotions. The last time he had attempted to fit back into her life, he had not only nearly savaged Willow's new girlfriend, Tara, but had also ended up trapped in a government organization's test lab. It had been three years since those events had happened. It was three years since he had last seen Willow, or her friends Buffy, Xander, and Giles. Or Anya, that ex-demon girl Xander was involved with, or Spike, who had been fitted with a chip in his head to prevent him from harming humans. He did not know Anya or Spike nearly as much as Willow and the others. He knew that Anya was once a Vengeance demon who had accidentally brought forth an alternate vampiric version of Willow to get her lost powers back. As for Spike: Well, he didn't know him up front, but he had witnessed and dealt with him many times before he had gotten that chip. Like the time when he had followed him to Los Angeles when he delivered the Ring of Amara to Angel. At this thought, Oz realized that he hadn't seen Angel or Cordelia for even longer than the others. Granted, he was never that social with Angel or Cordelia, or anyone else really, except Willow and his best friend Devon, but he wondered vaguely how they were all doing now. He was still in occasional contact with Devon, who was still living in Sunnydale, but he had completely cut himself off from the other people who had been in his life. And then there was also that guy who had worked for that government organization, rescued him from containment and, last he had heard, was dating Buffy. What was his name? Riley something . . . ?

RF: I'm leaving Buffy. Unless you give me a reason to stay, I'm leaving tonight.

He still wasn't sure that he had done the right thing that day. In a military installation in one of the jungles of Africa, Riley Finn listened to his comrade Graham Miller's report to their commander, Major Ellis.

GM: Most of the demons in this area have cleared out now, sir. But they may end up invading populated areas to hide, or just cause destruction.

ME: Then we've got to stop them before they do.

Riley was barely listening. Ever since he had met Buffy Summers, he had felt that she was the one for him. The woman he would be with forever. But . . . she didn't feel the same way. She had taken him for granted, to help her out when she needed it, and to stay out of her business when she didn't. But despite that, he still loved her. Sometimes he still wished that he had stayed in Sunnydale with her. But that was the past. Buffy was no longer part of his life. Now, he was married and starting a family of his own. He was happy with his new life with Sam and he loved her to pieces, but sometimes the image of the blonde Vampire Slayer kept floating to the forefront of his thoughts.

ME: Finn?

Riley snapped out of his thoughts and turned to Ellis.

RF: Sir?

ME: I said that we have to cut off those demons before they reach populated areas. You and Miller will lead the defense attack.

Riley looked over at Graham, who was already loading up on weapons. Graham was his only friend still alive and still sticking with him. His other friends were either dead or somewhere else, out of contact. With a pang, he remembered his friend Forrest Gates, who had been killed three years ago by Adam, a creation of the Initiative. He wondered if Forrest would have stuck with him too, like Graham had, if he were still alive. Forrest had been loyal to his cause in the Initiative, but had also been openly hostile to anyone who questioned the Initiative and its motives. His main issue with Riley had always been the girl he was dating at the time. Forrest had always believed that Buffy was up to something and that she had murdered their superior, Maggie Walsh, when in fact it was her own creation, Adam. Riley regretted that he and Forrest had parted badly before he died and that they never had a chance to renew their friendship. But then, over time, Graham somewhat became the same way, except not as hostile. While his relationship with Buffy was slowly deteriorating, Graham had tried to convince him that Buffy was holding him back and that he didn't belong in her world anymore. That he belonged in the army with him. Riley had held off on the offer for as long as he could, hoping to mend his feelings with Buffy, while also knowing deep down that she would never change. Never truly love him. So, he had waited for her to change her mind and accept him back, but she never came until after his helicopter had already taken off. She had been too late for him. He had left her behind and begun his new life. He looked back at Ellis.

RF: Yes, sir.

Oz: It was stupid to think that you'd just be . . . waiting.

WR: I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I'm old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul and there you are, I won't be surprised. Because . . . you're with me, you know?

Oz: I know. But now's not that time, I guess.

WR: No.

The memory of that day still made him feel sad. It was the last day he had seen Willow; The day that Willow had chosen Tara over him. The day he had missed his shot at getting his girl back. He had come back before he was ready. If only he had waited longer, made sure he had really changed. He sighed and stared out at the mountains in front of him. However Willow felt about him, he hoped that she was happy now. He stood up and walked back into his cabin. It was about as big as Buffy and Willow's dorm room had been. He sat down at one of the wooden chairs in front of his wooden table. Just about everything in here was made of wood. He began to prepare a meal for himself. As he began to wash and cut up carrots, he thought some more about Willow. He figured that he did get what he deserved, having walked out on Willow after his fling with Veruca. He hadn't wanted to leave, but knew that he had to control his wolf side before moving forward. He had never found love before or after Willow. She was unique. There was no other girl like her in the world. Caught in his thoughts, he accidentally cut his index finger with the knife he was using. He looked down at his injured finger with mild interest, then went over to a wooden cabinet he had and took out a roll of gauze and wrapped it around his finger. He wondered if Willow still thought about him as frequently as he thought about her. Maybe, but less than he did, seeing as she was already involved with someone else to think about. He wondered how the other couples he had known were doing. Xander and Anya seemed to be an awkward, yet appropriate match. He hadn't stuck around to find out how Willow and Tara got along. But what about Buffy and that Riley guy?

S: Well, looky here. I don't usually use the word delicious, but I gotta wager this little tableau must sting a bit, eh? Me and your former. Must kill.

Yes, it did kill him. Even now. Remembering seeing Buffy and that bleach haired idiot together had affected him badly, although he had tried to hide it from them. Although he was no longer part of Buffy's life, he still felt a ripple of anger every time he thought about that moment. Buffy; his ex-girlfriend, the most amazing woman he had ever met, lying under a blanket on a tomb in a crypt with Spike. Spike; Her enemy. It made him sick to think about it. He doubted he would ever understand why she did it, but found he didn't really want to know anyway. He found it easier just to hate the memory of the vampire. He looked down upon the swarming mass of demons heading toward a village from the helicopter he was on. Graham and several other soldiers were also on board. Graham tapped him on the shoulder.

GM: (Pointing down at the demons) Ready to go?

Riley nodded.

He and Graham leapt from the helicopter on cables and descended down upon the demons, followed by the others. As he fell, firing down at the demons with his rifle, Riley wondered if Buffy and Spike were still doing . . . what they were doing . . . now. He knew that they were still seeing each other at the very least. Only a few days ago, he had received word that Buffy had tried to contact him, regarding Spike's chip. This chip was probably the main reason Buffy now believed Spike to be different. The chip was a behavior modifier, which caused Spike intense pain if he attempted to harm a human. But not anymore. Apparently, the chip had started to go off at random, even when Spike wasn't hurting anyone. When he had received the message, Riley had sent a team to meet Buffy in the old Initiative building and told them that what they do to Spike's chip, repairing it or removing it, was her call. Naturally, she had decided to remove it. Spike was now unneutered and free to kill again. As he landed down on the ground, Riley pretended that each demon around him was Spike. This tactic worked really well usually. This time was no exception.

2007

Tibet was quiet. As quiet as it usually was at night. Oxen and Yak were grazing in their stables. Oz stood outside his front door, looking up at the full moon in the sky. It still felt strange to him to look up at that moon as a human. The charms and beads around his neck and arms did some of the work, along with some quiet meditation earlier that day. The monks who lived here in Tibet had helped him a great deal with calming techniques and suggestions about maintaining the wolf inside him. He could now transform on his own if he choose to and could revert back, but only if he keeps his own mind when he changes. In moments when he is angry or agitated and unable to control his transformation, however, he still becomes the feral, bloodthirsty beast he had thought once he would be stuck as forever. According to the monks, it would take him several more years of this technique to be able to shut down the wolf completely and be cured, returned to a normal human being. This was a major breakthrough, but according to the monks, only certain people, who have a very even and unemotional sense of mind, have a chance at curing themselves. Oz was perfect for it. He wondered if, after he is finally cured, he might return to Sunnydale and see Willow again. Tempting as that was, he reminded himself that he was at home and content here. Happy memories of Willow were enough for him. He turned and walked back into his cabin.

Riley Finn, Graham Miller, and several other army soldiers stood at attention before Major Ellis and some other officers in front of them.

ME: Listen up, men! We've got a new mission. There are reports of several demonic creatures hiding out in the mountains of Tibet. Our mission is to find them and execute them before there are any human casualties. Anybody have questions?

Riley raised his hand.

RF: Sir, how many casualties have there been so far?

Ellis looked at him in confusion.

ME: Well, none. We're going to exterminate them before there are any.

RF: You mean they haven't hurt anyone?

ME: Not yet. Now, are there any other questions?

No response.

ME: Good. Move it, men!

The soldiers hustled around to their intended destinations. Riley hung back. Graham saw him and approached.

GM: What's on your mind?

RF: We're just going to invade Tibet and kill a bunch of demons that haven't done a thing to anyone?

GM: Apparently.

RF: Doesn't that seem wrong to you?

GM: Why? They're only demons, Riley. It's not like we're going to be killing people.

Riley nodded, but inside, he still felt like this was a slaughter and not defense. The reason he had joined back up with the army in the first place was to defend people from the dangers of the supernatural and demonic. But this was an invasion and slaughter of living beings who have apparently kept to themselves. At that moment, Ellis snapped his fingers in front of Riley's face, bringing him out of his thoughts.

ME: Get moving, soldier.

Oz sat in the middle of the floor of his cabin, cross legged and eyes closed. He liked meditating. It was soothing and made him feel at peace with the world, while also helping to restrain the hidden werewolf inside of him. All around the village, he knew, others of his kind were doing the same thing right now. He was one of the few who had managed to master the craft completely and learned to shut the wolf off. Most of the other werewolves he knew here still had to find their inner peace and deal with the pain of becoming a monster three times a month. Others, however, had ignored the meditation and restraining techniques and allowed themselves to change, believing it wasn't right to restrain the truth of who they really were. These werewolves reminded Oz so much of Veruca's attitude that he wondered if she had somehow influenced them to think that way, or the other way around. The guy who lived next door to him, named Keno, has been a werewolf for about as long as he had, maybe a little longer. Out of all the werewolves that he knew were living here in Tibet, Oz got along with him the best. Keno had been bitten around the same time Oz had, and had dealt with it badly. He, too, had had a girlfriend before being bitten. She had broken up with him after he had escaped from his cage one night and attacked her. She apparently couldn't take the circumstances of dating a werewolf. After that, he had moved all around the world, trying to find a place for himself. He had met Oz after a few days in Tibet and Oz had convinced him to stay there, to help control the wolf in him. Keno and Oz had now been neighbors and friends for three years. That is not to say that the entire population of Tibet is werewolves. Oz had met many of the human occupants as well. His other neighbor, a woman named Jenille, was a native of Tibet and had showed him around the village and introduced him to the other residents. She, along with most of the other humans, knew of the existence of the supernatural and was not afraid of it. Oz considered these two individuals to be his closest friends who lived here. He sighed, letting his emotions pass away and diving deep into his thoughts, letting them wash over him, calming him.

The helicopter carrying Riley, Graham, and several other soldiers hovered over the ocean, heading toward the distant mountains of Tibet. Riley was getting nervous. They were going into Tibet to kill the demons living there simply because they were demons. Was the army as narrow minded as the Initiative? He turned to Graham.

RF: I can't do this, Graham. I can't kill beings that don't deserve it.

GM: They are demons, remember? Demons = bad guys?

RF: Not all demons are bad.

GM: Really? Who told you th-wait: Buffy, right?

RF: Indirectly, yeah.

There had been a time when he had also believed that all demons were evil by nature. Thanks to his experiences with Buffy, he knew better now. Graham didn't look convinced.

GM: Look, I know you liked that girl, and so did I a little, but that doesn't mean that she was right.

RF: No, she knew some demons in her time that weren't evil.

GM: Okay, name me a few.

RF: Well, okay, there was this guy Clem that she told me about: Harmless lumpy skinned demon that ate kittens.

Graham raised his eyebrows at him.

RF: (Quickly) But not anymore. I heard he's on a diet now. Um . . . there was . . . Angel: A vampire with a soul.

GM: A vampire with a soul? How'd that happen?

RF: Gypsies cursed him. Truthfully, I really don't like him at all, but he is good. As long as he isn't happy, that is.

GM: Uh huh. That's it?

RF: No! There was also . . . um . . .

GM: Sorry Rye, but you're not making a very good argument.

RF: Look. Buffy showed me a lot of stuff I was too arrogant to see. I know that there are good demons out there. If these demons we're going after haven't tried to harm or attack anyone in their lives, does that mean we have to hunt them down just because they are demons?

Graham looked as though he was seriously mulling it over in his head.

GM: Okay, let's say that you are right, it's not like we can disobey orders and call off the attack.

RF: No . . . but we can at least help save them from ourselves.

Oz's eyes snapped open as a buzzing sound, like whirling propellers, came from outside. He jumped to his feet and ran to his front door. Looking outside, he saw military helicopters descending upon the village. He looked at his right and saw Keno emerging from his own cabin. He was a little taller than Oz, but not by much. His dark brown, curly hair was all over his face as he ran over to Oz.

K: Oz! What's going on, man?

Oz: I think we're being invaded.

K: But why? What did we do?

Oz: Maybe they don't like people who meditate.

K: Come on, man! This is serious! What are we gonna do?

Oz: We could ask them why they are here.

At that moment, Jenille came out of her house as well. She was tall with long brown hair flowing down her back.

J: What is going on?

K: I asked that already. Apparently, we're being invaded.

J: Invaded? By who?

K: The army.

J: But why is the army attacking us for?

Oz: Maybe they'll tell us when they finish landing.

The sounds of people screaming and running for cover made Riley feel even more nervous about what they were doing. Major Ellis stepped forward and raised his hand to the soldiers behind him to lower their weapons, while raising a megaphone to his mouth.

ME: Attention! I am Major Ellis of the U.S. Military! You have nothing to fear if you are human! (He turned to Riley and the others) Interrogate some of the residents and see if they know where any demons that may be disguised as humans are hiding here.

The group of soldiers saluted and marched up toward the group of cabins in the distance. Riley walked up to Ellis.

RF: Sir, I must ask that you reconsider this course of action. You'll end up killing innocent people.

ME: No, we won't. I told you, we are going to make sure that no humans are harmed. It's only the demons we want. Now get going, Finn.

Riley wanted to argue more, but knew he wouldn't convince Ellis otherwise. He ran to catch up with Graham.

RF: Okay, listen. Since we have to interrogate the residents, if we find any demons that are harmless, we'll hide them from the others.

GM: I don't know. We're taking a big risk here. Ellis could have us demoted at best if we're discovered.

RF: It's worth saving innocent lives, even demonic ones.

They broke off from the other soldiers and approached three cabins that stood together. Graham knocked on the door of the first cabin they reached. Riley walked past him and knocked on the door of the next one. Nobody answered.

RF: Don't be afraid. Even if you're a demon, I'm here to help.

The door opened slowly. Riley stared in shock as he saw Willow's ex-boyfriend Oz on the other side. Seeing Riley, Oz stared at him too, but quizzically.

BS: You sounded like Mr. Initiative: Demons bad, people good.

RF: Something wrong with that theorem?

BS: There's different degrees of . . .

RF: Evil?

BS: It's just . . . different with different demons. There are creatures . . . vampires, for example, that aren't evil at all.

RF: (Skeptically) Name one.

RF: Oz?

Riley continued to stare at him. He hadn't seen Oz since he had left Sunnydale seven years ago. Oz just looked back at him blankly.

RF: Why . . . are you . . . living here?

Oz: Seemed nice. Quiet. Until now.

RF: Yeah, sorry. We were ordered to cleanse this place of-

Oz: Demons? We heard your boss' announcement earlier.

RF: Anyway, you're in danger here.

Oz: Are you going to turn me over?

RF: No! Of course not. I know you, Oz. I know you're not evil.

Oz: But I'm technically a demon.

RF: Yeah, but . . . half demon, actually. Besides, nobody here has done anything to anyone. I don't think that means you all should be killed.

Oz: Apparently your boss doesn't agree.

Riley looked over at Graham, who was trying to calm down the woman who had answered the door he had knocked on.

GM: Listen to me. If you're human, you're not in any danger.

J: Why are you here? Please don't hurt anyone!

GM: We're not. At least, (Indicating himself and Riley) we aren't. We're trying to help you guys.

Oz: (To Riley) You're abandoning your group?

RF: Looks like it. If staying with them means I have to kill innocent living beings, rather than protect them as I wanted to do, then I want no part in it anymore.

Graham approached Riley with Jenille.

GM: What's the plan?

RF: Well, I think we'll need some extra assistance here.

Oz: Who do you have in mind?

There was pause, then . . .

RF: Buffy?

Oz: Do you know where she is?

RF: Not in Sunnydale. It got destroyed a few years ago.

Oz: How?

RF: I'm not really sure. Last I heard from Buffy, she said something about Spike and an amulet and something called The First. Couldn't make much sense out of it.

Oz: So Spike destroyed Sunnydale? Sounds about right.

RF: No, Buffy said he saved the world by destroying it. I'm not sure where she would be now.

At that moment, Keno came out of his cabin, looking confused.

K: Who are we looking for? Oz, did you find out what those guys are doing here?

RF: (To Keno) I'm Agent Riley Finn. This is Agent Graham Miller. Our group is attacking your village for the sake of killing all the demonic population here.

K: (Suspiciously) But . . . aren't you part of it too?

GM: No, we're opposed to this. We're going to help you.

K: Oh. Okay, so . . . what are you gonna do to help us?

RF: Well, our commander sent us out to sort out the demonic from the humans. I wish I could just talk him out of this, but I don't think it will be that simple.

K: So what are we gonna to do instead?

RF: Me and Oz can go and look for some resistance support around here. Graham can watch over you two until we come back.

GM: I'll have to report back to Ellis. What should I tell him?

RF: Pretend he's a human and say that I'm still searching. Ellis trusts you more than me right now.

GM: I'm still not sure about this, Rye. We could be relieved of our duties, or even executed: As traitors.

RF: I'd rather die to prevent the deaths of innocent beings than live to kill them.

GM: That Buffy really influenced your view on life, hasn't she?

RF: Yeah. She knows the supernatural world better than anyone I've ever met. Come on, Oz.

Oz nodded, then looked at Keno and Jenille.

Oz: Be careful, you guys.

GM: (Reassuringly) I'll watch their backs.

J: Come back to us soon, Oz.

Oz gave her a small reassuring smile, then turned and followed Riley up the path.

ME: We have a Code One in Belize. A demon tribe is taking apart missionaries in the rain forest down there.

RF: And you're telling me this because . . . ?

ME: We're going down to terminate their operation. Want you to join us.

RF: I'm a civilian.

ME: You're a soldier.

RF: I quit the government a long way back.

ME: We're not government. We're army.

GM: Just like you.

ME: It's not the Initiative, Finn. We don't do experiments. None of us give a damn what makes monsters tick. We just stop 'em.

RF: What do you need me for?

ME: I think you can handle yourself. And I always need bodies. I'm not gonna lie to you. It's the real deal. High risk, low pay, and seriously messy. We ship out for Central America tomorrow midnight. Now maybe civilian life is working out for you . . . and maybe not. Midnight. Tomorrow. Decision's yours.

Major Ellis observed the scene before him. A group of people, no, not people, werewolves and other demons, gathered in a tight group with soldiers all around them, guns at the ready in case any of them attempted to escape. Personally, he felt somewhat unnerved himself at what they were doing. To the casual observer, it would look like they were killing regular people. He knew otherwise, of course, but there was some truth to Finn's words earlier. These particular demonic creatures had not caused any harm or chaos to humans living in the area. Were they doing the right thing? Then he remembered that all demons are naturally feral, like common wild animals, and would inevitably attack people. By doing this, they were assuring that these demons won't have the chance to attack a human. He was under orders too, after all. Finn would understand eventually. He still showed signs of his past life with that girl from Sunnydale, the Slayer, but he would grow out of it soon. Speaking of Finn, where were he and Miller? Neither of them had checked in with their reports of the search. Had they run off? Quit? Or even betrayed them? He didn't want to think that way. Finn and Miller were two of his finest recruits. Finn had been initially reluctant to join, but he had eventually seen his true path and joined. What about Miller, though? He had stayed loyal to the Initiative until it was shut down and he was transferred to the army. Apart from that, Ellis didn't know much about his personality or his beliefs. He did know, however, that he was one of Finn's oldest and closest friends. Could Finn have rebelled and convinced Miller to join him? Then, with an inward feeling of relief, he saw Miller approach with two humans. Or was it two demons that looked like humans? Miller stopped in front of him.

ME: Report.

GM: These two were hiding in a cabin up there, sir. They're human. I've verified that.

ME: Are you sure they're human? The werewolves particularly are hard to spot.

GM: I'm sure, sir.

ME: Where's Agent Finn?

He noticed Miller's normally expressionless face twitch a little for a fraction of a second.

GM: He's still searching, sir. We split on the way up. What should I do with these two?

ME: Take them back up to their homes. If they really are humans, then they are in no danger.

GM: Yes, sir.

Miller turned and took the two apparent humans back up the hill. Ellis looked after them suspiciously.

ME: I'm not sure about this.

He addressed four soldiers next to him.

ME: You four, follow them and make sure they aren't hiding anything. If they are, use aggressive force if you have to.

The four of them saluted and carefully trailed after the trio. Looking back, Graham noticed them.

GM: I think we're in trouble.

K: (Looking back quickly as well): Oh, no.

GM: Let's get inside quickly.

Graham, Keno, and Jenille shot inside Jenille's cabin. It was basically the same layout as Oz's.

GM: They suspect something. We've got to hide you two somewhere. I can tell them that you both escaped and I couldn't stop you. It's the only chance we've got. When Riley and Oz come back, we'll plan our next move.

K: I just don't understand why the army is doing this to us.

GM: They are only following orders. They don't know any better anyway. To them demons are naturally feral and violent.

K: Talk about black and white.

GM: (To Jenille) Do you think Riley and Oz can find any help here?

J: (Shaking her head) Truthfully, no. Everyone here are peaceful and non-violent. That is why it is such an ideal place for troubled individuals. The calming auras help restrain werewolf triggers, and other demonic humans aren't judged by their status. They are accepted just as they are.

K: So what can we do then?

GM: For now, I'm going to stay here and protect you guys until Oz and Riley get back. If we can just find a place to hide you, then-

There was a series of hard knocks on the door.

Voice: Open up in there! We know what you're up to Agent Miller! Open the door now!

Seconds later, the door burst open. Several commandos rushed in and restrained Jenille and Keno. Graham attempted to fend them off, but they overpowered and restrained him as well.

Riley and Oz trudged along a rocky path away from the village towards the higher mountains.

RF: Do you know of anyone up here who could help?

Oz: There could be, but I've never been here before.

RF: Well, we can't take my entire group on our own.

They walked on for a few minutes, then heard footsteps behind them.

RF: Damn, Ellis must've sent some guys up here to look for others too.

He grabbed Oz's arm and tugged him behind a boulder. They crouched behind it and watched two soldiers walk past, rifles directed at the path ahead.

S#1: You think anyone's up here?

S#2: Dunno. Looks pretty deserted.

S#1: I heard Finn talking to Ellis earlier. Do you think he was right about what we're doing?

S#2: Doesn't matter. We were given orders that we must follow. You know what will happen to us if we don't?

S#1: Yeah, I know.

S#2: You know what, anyone who lives in these mountains are probably gonna die anyway. Let's just go back.

S#1: What do we tell Ellis?

S#2: That we found nothing. Let's just say we searched the whole mountain.

S#1: Alright, let's go.

The two soldiers trudged back down the mountain. Riley turned to Oz.

RF: You know, we should probably get back as well. They're right; nobody would live up here. The best thing we can do is return and protect anyone we can on our own.

Oz: We could die, you know.

RF: (Standing up) Yeah, but we could just as easily die no matter what we do. At least fighting we have a shot.

Oz: (Standing up as well and following Riley down the trail) Life is odd.

The commandos led the three of them back down to Major Ellis. As they approached, he shook his head in disappointment.

ME: Miller. I am disappointed in you.

K: (To Jenille) How did they know?

Jenille just shook her head in bewilderment.

Ellis took out a device that looked a little bit like a miniature metal detector.

ME: This device can detect supernatural energy.

He waved it at the three of them. When it passed over Jenille, it gave a series of beeps. As it passed over Keno, the beeps became louder and quicker. Then as it passed over Graham, it slowed down and quieted again.

ME: So, you were harboring a werewolf, Miller.

GM: Yes, I was, sir.

ME: Why? Did Finn convince you?

GM: Meaning no disrespect, sir, but I only prevented you from committing murder.

ME: Murder? Of a werewolf? Werewolves are the ones who commit murder, or in the best case scenario, turn people into one them.

GM: Sir, this werewolf and the majority of these demons or half demons you have captured have kept to themselves and never attempted to hurt anyone.

ME: Do you know that for certain? Did you question them?

GM: Have you?

ME: You are already in serious trouble, Miller. Don't make matters worse for yourself. You are already guilty of betrayal and harboring the enemy. For the severity of these crimes, you should be executed. But, since you are one of my best soldiers, I will give you one chance to save yourself and your career. Where is Agent Finn?

GM: Just to be clear, sir. If I give up Riley, you won't kill anyone here? Including the demons?

ME: No. I can only spare you. The demons have to die not matter what.

GM: Then, I'm sorry, sir. Riley is my friend and I believe what he is doing is right. Professor Walsh and Adam gave the Initiative a bad reputation. Don't do the same thing to us.

Ellis looked down at Graham, apparently thinking about what he had said.

ME: Your request is duly noted. (He cocked his pistol, which contained silver bullets intended to kill werewolves) Unfortunately, it isn't my decision.

Then he fired point blank at Graham's face. Jenille screamed as Graham fell backward onto the ground, a bullet hole in his forehead. Ellis then aimed the pistol again and shot Keno in the chest. As Keno fell dead to the ground too, Jenille fell to her knees and sobbed. The soldiers surrounding Ellis looked on in slight shock. He lowered the pistol and his head.

ME: I didn't want it to end this way. I'm truly sorry, Graham.

And he really looked it.

In the distance, Riley and Oz heard the gunshot. They looked at each other.

RF: Oh no.

They hurried back toward the village as they heard a second gunshot. They saw down below a group of soldiers surrounding Major Ellis, who lowered the pistol he was holding. In front of him were Graham and Keno, lying on the ground. Neither of them were moving.

RF: NO!

The soldiers and Ellis turned to look at them.

ME: (Looking sad) Riley.

Oz stared at Keno's body in disbelief, then at Jenille, who was still on her knees, sobbing. Riley was shaking with grief and anger, glaring at Ellis.

RF: (Quiet, but angry) You . . . shot . . . him.

ME: I'm sorry, Finn.

Riley ran up to Ellis and grabbed him by his uniform's collar. Several of the soldiers surrounding them raised their guns at him, but he barely noticed.

RF: Why? Why did you kill him!?

ME: We know what you were up to. I had no choice.

RF: It was me! Why did you kill him for!?

ME: He also betrayed us. He was concealing a werewolf from us.

Riley released Ellis and gestured at Oz.

RF: So was I! Does that mean you're going to kill me too?

Ellis looked sad, but determined.

ME: If I have too. Yes.

RF: You killed one of your own men just because he was helping someone stay alive?

ME: He was protecting a monster, Finn.

RF: Keno wasn't a monster. He was bitten by a werewolf and had to suffer with the effects for his whole life. He and most werewolves chain themselves up to make sure they don't harm people. Why do you think there is such a large amount of demonic life living here? There's no Hellmouth. This place attracts them for the opposite reason. Because people here accept them and help them deal with their conditions. You are not killing monsters here, sir. You're murdering harmless living beings!

Ellis looked at Finn with a strange expression on his face. It looked like a mixture of guilt and defiance.

ME: I am following my orders, Finn. Just as you should be.

RF: Screw orders! Does this feel right to you?

ME: (Taking out his pistol again) I don't want to do this, Finn.

RF: Then don't! Please, leave this place alone. Go help people from demons who do want to hurt them!

That is where you should be now.

Ellis looked over at Jenille, who was still crying over Keno. Then he looked down at Graham. What had he done? By trying to kill the demons here, he ended up killing one of his best men and someone who was cared about by the girl and the other werewolf, who had joined her and held her. He realized now, that he wasn't just a werewolf. He was someone with feelings. With human elements. This boy and the werewolf alter ego he had were two completely different beings sharing the same body. The same was probably true for most other werewolves as well. He lowered his pistol and holstered it.

ME: (To the other soldiers) We're done here.

Oz and Riley sat in front of Oz's cabin, facing the sunset in front of them in silence.

Oz: We . . . Jenille and I . . . will be holding a funeral for Keno tomorrow night. You're invited if you want.

RF: Of course. I'm sorry that this happened to you.

Oz: I'm not the only one who suffered.

Riley looked back out at the sunset again.

Oz: According to Jenille, he stayed true to your belief and protected them both until the very end. He didn't give up on you.

RF: (Bitterly) Yeah. He was my best friend, and my boss shot him. Graham is dead because of my belief, and my boss is still where he is.

Oz: I think he got your message, though.

RF: Small comfort.

Oz: You just about single handedly saved my village and all the other werewolves here. That's something.

RF: Yeah.

Oz: Are you going to go back with them? The army?

RF: No. Continuing to work under the man who shot my friend is too difficult to think about.

Oz: But he abandoned his orders about the mission. How can he still hold his rank?

RF: He's going to convince his superiors that the search resulted in no demons. They shouldn't come back here again.

Oz: Well, at least he showed some compassion for you. If he's going to cover up for your actions and the mission, I guess that means he cared somewhat. He could have turned you in, but he didn't.

Riley just nodded. They sat in silence for a while longer.

RF: You know, we have more in common than anyone thought we did.

Oz: (Turning to him) How?

RF: Well, we've both been in love. We both unintentionally cheated on our loves. We both left our loves because of it and we both just lost our best friends.

Oz: I never really thought of it that way.

RF: But, you knew that you were cheating on Willow. I didn't.

Oz: I thought you left because you cheated on Buffy?
RF: No, this other girl and Buffy had switched bodies, so I had thought I was with Buffy at the time. I left a year after that because of . . . other things I did.

Oz: Huh.

Another long silence.

Oz: What are you going to do next?

RF: I don't know. I can't go back to the army and I have no place in Buffy's life anymore.

Oz: You could work for INTERPOL, or Secret Service, or something. I'm sure they'd take you.

RF: Sounds interesting.

Oz: I'm really grateful for everything you and Graham did for us.

RF: Glad to help.

They turned and continued to watch the sun set beyond the mountains in silence.

RF: So, what is next for us now?

A longer pause.

Oz: I think there are two people we need to see.

The next day, after claiming a helicopter and lifting off, Oz and Riley traveled over the ocean for several hours (With some magical teleportation assistance) before finally reaching the United States. They proceeded on, heading toward Cleveland.

Oz: Cleveland?

RF: Yeah. Buffy always mentioned that there was a Hellmouth in Cleveland. Since the Sunnydale one is gone, chances are she might have moved to that one.

After a while, they landed the helicopter in the woods and began to wander through the streets of Cleveland. For a long while, they continued to walk, until Oz suddenly stiffened and sniffed the air hard.

RF: Um, what are you doing?

Oz: I have Buffy's scent.

RF: You can smell . . . ? Oh, right. Werewolf. Where is it coming from?

Oz led him over to an old building that looked like it could have been a hotel at one time. Riley stopped and regarded the building uneasily. Oz looked back at him.

Oz: Nervous?

RF: Yeah.

Oz: If it helps, I am too.

RF: You don't look nervous.

Oz: It's a talent.

Oz opened the door and they walked inside.

A group of people were standing in the lobby. The first person Riley saw was Buffy. She hadn't changed at all. But there was no Willow, no Xander, no Anya, no Tara, and no Giles. Instead, there was a geeky looking blonde haired kid, a tall and bald black guy, a girl that looked somewhat familiar with dark brown hair, and . . . Spike? Riley stared in disbelief. How could Spike still be with her?

Oz: Sorry to interrupt.

Everybody looked over at them. Buffy's eyes widened in shock and surprise. The other girl looked at Riley with recognition and . . . guilt? Spike's eyes narrowed.

S: Well, look who decided to join the party.

BS: (Breathlessly) My god. Riley? Oz?

Oz: Nice to be back.

BS: What . . . are you doing here?

Oz: Had a bit of a situation back home. Thought we'd stop by.

Riley finally blurted out his first words.

RF: (To Spike) How can you still be here?

S: I'm one of the good guys, don't you know?

RF: Why? Your chip is out, isn't it? Aren't you back to killing people again?

S: Don't keep up with the headlines do you, crew cut? I got myself a soul. Had it for years now.

RF: A soul?! You mean like Angel?

S: (Raising his arms in exasperation) Why does everybody keep comparing me to that ponce?

BS: Riley . . . (She glanced over at the black haired girl, who looked a little ashamed, then turned back to him) What's going on?

RF: Well, my group had been ordered to execute all demonic beings in Tibet. That's how I ran into Oz. They wanted to kill them just because they're demons.

S: So you came to us? How thoughtful.

RF: We've already taken care of it. Besides, we wouldn't want your help.

Oz: Where's Willow?

BS: She and everyone else are abroad.

Oz: (Not inquiring any further) Huh.

The geeky boy came forward.

AW: Hi! I'm Andrew. We've never met, but I heard so much about you both!

RF: Uh, thanks. (Looking over at the black man) And you are . . . ?

BS: Robin Wood. They're allies.

Robin nodded at Riley and Oz. The black haired girl stepped forward.

FL: Hey. I'm not sure if you remember me, but-

RF: (Suddenly recognizing her) Faith.

Oz: (Looking over at Riley) How do you know Faith?

Riley glanced over at Buffy. Faith was another Slayer. She had caused a huge hole in his and Buffy's relationship several years ago. She had been in a coma for 8 months, then awoke and came after Buffy for putting her there. At some point, she had magically switched bodies with Buffy and had slept with him. He had felt ashamed that he wasn't able to tell the difference between them at the time. After Buffy had managed to switch them back, Faith had fled to Los Angeles and turned herself in to the police. But why was she out of jail now and, more importantly, working with Buffy?

RF: (To Oz) Not important. (To Faith) So, why aren't you in jail where you belong?

FL: Okay, obviously you remember what happened before. But . . . I've changed since then.

RF: (Sarcastically) Oh, right. You've changed. Like Spike.

S: It's true, mate. We're both on the path of redemption.

Riley looked at Buffy again. Her expression confirmed everything.

Oz: Missed a lot, haven't we?

RF: So . . . is there anything else we should know?

Buffy looked over at Spike, then at Faith, then back to Riley and took a deep breath . . .

A few days later, after the battle with The First, The Master, and Illyria (See my Season 9 and/or The Source, Part 3), Oz and Riley sat in the lobby of Buffy's new hotel base, along with Buffy herself, Willow, and Xander, who had returned for the battle.

BS: What are you two going to do now?

RF: I don't know. Most likely, I'll be going back to Tibet with Oz.

BS: Do you have a reliable way back?

RF: Yeah. We've got a helicopter.

XH: (Eagerly) Oooo! Neat!

RF: It's borrowed. They will notice my absence soon, if they haven't already.

WR: They don't know that you left?

RF: No, they don't know that I took the helicopter.

They all stood up. Xander reached out and shook Oz's hand, then Riley's.

XH: Well, thanks for dropping by, you guys.

RF: Yeah. Good to see you again.

Xander grinned, then walked out of the room. Buffy hugged Oz, then turned to Riley.

BS: Thanks for coming.

RF: I enjoyed the visit. I missed you, Buffy.

BS: Yeah. Me too. (She hugged him, or tried to. He was much taller than her, but they somehow managed it) Good luck.

RF: Thanks. You too, with whatever you're doing next.

Buffy smiled at him, then walked out after Xander. Riley turned to Oz.

RF: Coming?

Oz: Give me a minute.

Riley left as well. Oz turned to Willow.

Oz: I know this isn't Istanbul, but here I am.

Willow gave an exasperated laugh, the hugged him.

WR: In was so great to see you again.

Oz: We'll stay in touch. I promise.

WR: But why can't you stay?

He broke away from her.

Oz: I thought you were over me.

WR: No! I . . . my life is so . . . Tara's gone . . . Kennedy's gone . . . I just . . . I need someone, you know?

Oz: But why me?

WR: You have this . . . calming, comforting energy, you know? And I . . . I really missed you. Having you back here again made things easier for me.

Oz: Willow, I have a life of my own in Tibet now, and I'm close to being cured. Maybe in a few years I can come back, but not now. I came too soon once before. I don't want to make that mistake again. You have to understand.

Willow looked resigned.

Oz: I do love you. I never stopped. I thought about you every day I was away from you. You were the best thing to happen in my life. But I go crazy for you. Literally. I can't put you or anyone in that kind of danger again. I'd always hoped that you still had left a place for me in your life, but I can't hold you back waiting for me to be ready.

He turned to the door. He looked back at her one more time.

Oz: You're an amazing women, Will. I'm proud of you.

Then he left the room to join Riley, off to the next stage of his life. As the door closed behind him, Willow stared at it as though hoping he would come back in and say something else, or hug her.

The door stayed closed.

WR: (To the empty room) Bye.

The End