AN: For the purposes of this story, everything through Season four is canon. Everything else is up for grabs, including Season one of Angel. I own nothing that you'd recognize from the show including characters, locations, and dialogue. I do own original characters as well as the mythology of this story. That said, I hope you enjoy. Please read and review.
~Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean.~
The temple itself was not so large. An open room with a golden idol of some many armed deity at its head, calmly observing the boy in the center of the room. On the balcony above, six men stared at the boy, silently plotting their attack strategy. Rather than overwhelm him with their numbers, they chose to try and tire him out with successive attacks.
He knew they were there. His eyes were closed as he sat cross-legged on the shining wood floor. He could smell them though. He could smell their positions, their motions, and their anticipation of the coming fight. He continued to sit, to meditate.
The first man jumped down landing directly in front of the boy. As soon as he landed, however, his legs were swept out from under him as the boy lashed out a leg, spinning as he stood up. The man landed with a hard thud on the floor.
The next attack came from behind him. The man managed to lock his arms around the boy's neck before he was flipped over, landing just as hard as his comrade.
The next two attacks followed similarly, beginning with a flying man, followed by a fighting boy, and ending with a man on the ground. The boy's next attacker, however, proved to be more of a challenge. This one faced him head on, throwing punches relentlessly. The boy could barely keep up as he swatted away the flurry of blows aimed at his face, chest, and torso. He started to tire when he noticed that the man swung wide with his left hook, leaving his flank completely open. He blocked one punch, ducked the left hook, elbowed the man's side, and swept his legs, sending him crashing to the ground.
The final man leapt down from the balcony brandishing a curved sword in either hand. He looked at the boy and grinned. "You have fought well," he said calmly.
"Your boys didn't really put up much of a fight," the boy parried.
"Is that so? Your labored breathing then, that is an intimidation technique?"
"Look I'm not one for talking in general so, mid-fight banter, really not my thing. How 'bout you just show me what you got?"
With that the man smiled as his five fallen companions stood. They gathered around him and suddenly turned and left the building. "Here endeth the lesson," said the man with the swords and followed the rest out.
The boy stood his ground for a moment and then collapsed on the floor, breathing heavily. Freakin' monks, he thought. Suddenly, he heard clapping. He glanced around the cavernous room but couldn't identify the source. Shortly, a small man in a black fedora, black blazer, and a bright blue shirt stepped out from behind a pillar.
"Geez that was really somethin'. I gotta tell you I thought for sure something crazy was gonna happen with sword guy over there." The man exuded an air of what the boy could only describe as a sort of self-righteous dickishness.
"Who are you?" asked the boy, standing up. He could have said something more, like 'who the fuck are you' or possibly made some clever quip. But he felt that his question summed up what he wanted to know.
"Name's Whistler," said the man, smiling. "At least lately it is. My real name's kinda tough to pronounce, unless you're a dolphin. You a dolphin Danny boy?"
"It's Oz," corrected the boy. "And no."
"That's right, you don't turn into a squeaky little sea critter every month do ya?" Whistler began pacing around Oz, making him feel more than a little uncomfortable. "No, you turn into a big ol' beastie. Or at least you did until you came here."
Oz just stared. He had arrived at the monastery a few months ago. In that short time, he had learned how to suppress the wolf and hone its power in his fighting. The monks would often spar with him in the manner that they did today, but he had never actually defeated them until now. He had no idea how it was that the man standing in front of him could have known all that.
"So, the big bad wolf runs off to Tibet so he can go back to just being plain old Danny. Maybe even win back little red riding hood right? But then what? You and the witch grow old together, maybe raise your two and a half kids in a house with a white picket fence…on a hellmouth? How far ahead you thinkin' here Danny boy?"
"You know all about me then," Oz said thinking. "I'd go out on a limb and say you're not human."
"A demon," Whistler said with a cocky smile, "technically. I mean I'm not a bad guy…but I won't bore you with the whole spiel. That's not why I'm here."
"And why would that be?" Oz asked, his curiosity finally getting the better of him.
"I'm here for you," Whistler explained. "Look, I used to be like you man. Conflicted. Not sure where to go or who to turn to. Matter of fact, I didn't have nobody to turn to. No friends, no family, no path."
"Who says I don't have those things?" Oz said, his voice not betraying the anger he was beginning to feel.
"Look at yourself. You abandoned everything you have to go halfway around the world. Not the kind of thing you do if you've got a direction. So enter your friend Whistler to give you one."
Oz stared at the demon. He wasn't entirely correct. Oz knew that it wasn't much but he still had hope for one path. Regardless of this remote possibility, he wanted to hear what more Whistler had to say.
Seeing that waiting for a reply would prove fruitless, Whistler continued. "I'm offering you the thing that everybody dreams about. What I do, is I help maintain the balance between good and evil in this world. And trust me, that son of a bitch needs maintenance. I'm talkin' big time. That's where you come in. The people I work for—well they're not people exactly—but they're always lookin' for new recruits to the cause. You help us out, you travel the globe, stop the evil, and you live forever. That's my propostion."
Oz was surprised to say the least. Here he was standing in a temple in Tibet, with a demon offering him immortality. Whistler was right. He had given up everything that he had. There was nothing tying him to his life anymore, not really. He was seriously considering flat-out accepting the offer, when he remembered why he had given it all up in the first place. The one thing he had in this world that he could truly look forward to. The only thing that made him strive to keep going.
He knew that if there was even the slightest chance that they could ever be together again, he could not sacrifice that, even for immortality. He took a deep breath and looked Whistler in the eye.
"I can't," he said. "I-I just can't…"
Whistler feigned disappointment. Of course he had been expecting this response. Most of the times that he had seen their conversation, Oz replied this way. But he also knew what came next. So he didn't give up.
"The offer stands," Whistler said. "You ever change your mind, decide to do some real good in the world, I can hook you up." He began to quickly walk out of the temple.
"How will I know how to reach you?" Oz yelled after him. He didn't want to ask it. He didn't want to admit to himself that it might come to that, but there was always the chance that he may need to take up the demon's offer.
"I won't be far," Whistler called back without turning around, and disappeared from view.
"I fully understand," nodded the monk who had, hours earlier, stood against Oz holding twin blades. The swords were now resting on the wall behind him. "I had hoped that we could continue your training. You are, by far, one of the best students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. But I do believe I have taught you all I can."
"Thank you Brother Lann, for everything," Oz said, bowing.
"I only regret that we never had the chance to test your mettle against mine," he smiled, gesturing to the weapons behind him. Oz smiled in return. "Return to the hellmouth young wolf. You are ready."
Oz thanked the monk again, bowed and ran from the monastery. He smiled as he reached the private jet the monks had prepared for his departure. He was finally ready to go home.