Summary: Sometimes it's the little things that have the biggest consequences.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al.
Distribution: My site, the usual lists, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Author's Note #1: This story was inspired by a vignette written by aaronlisa, and has been written with her permission to expand on it. (Alternate Realities: Willow #2)
Author's Note #2: I played around with the timeline a bit during Season 2 for this story. Pretend that Willow and Oz had been dating for a month or so when Phases occurs. (Dialogue borrowed from both Phases and Becoming I & II courtesy of www.buffyworld.com)
Author's Note #3: Thank you to my tireless betas for holding my hand through the months it has taken me to write this story.
By the time Willow and Oz had emerged from Giles' office, it was time to go to class. The couple promised that they would try to explain everything at lunch time and were reluctantly allowed to leave the library, a sullen Buffy and Xander following.
Willow dreaded the approaching lunch hour, but knew that she had to tell her friends the truth. But how do you tell your best friend, who is sworn to kill monsters, that you're now a monster yourself?
She and Oz entered the library together, heads held high, hands tightly clasped. There were two chairs facing the table, with Giles, Buffy, Xander and Cordelia sitting on either side.
"Feel like we're facing the Inquisition?" Oz leaned over to whisper in Willow's ear. She silently nodded her agreement.
"Please, have a seat," Giles motioned to the chairs. Still holding hands, they sat, facing their friends.
After several tense minutes of silence, Cordelia said, "Is someone going to tell us what happened to Willow last night and what that has to do with the hole in the roof of my daddy's car?"
Xander groaned at his girlfriend's tactlessness, but had to agree that he wanted to hurry up and get to the point.
Oz squeezed Willow's hand as she prepared to speak.
"Okay, we have something to tell you guys, and it's kind of shocking," Willow said.
Noting the joined hands and remembering the way Willow had wanted to talk to Oz first, Xander's jaw dropped as he came to the conclusion that, "You're pregnant?!?"
Willow's eyes widened in surprise, not realizing how her choice of wording could have led to such a conclusion. "No! Goodness, no. Not even. I think we're werewolves."
"Phew," Xander breathed. "Wait, what?"
"Werewolves?" Giles perked up. "Are you quite certain?"
"Pretty much, yeah," Willow answered. "Someone saw me change back this morning."
"So what makes you think Oz is one too?" Buffy asked, not sure how to react to this news.
With a blush, Willow admitted, "He's the only one who's bitten me."
Xander was out of his chair and had punched Oz before anyone had realized he'd moved. "How dare you start dating my best friend when you knew what could happen to her?"
Putting herself between the two boys, Willow said, "He didn't know. He just found out today too."
Xander didn't look ready to believe her, but glumly took his seat again.
"Have you been bitten lately, Oz?" Giles asked, getting back to the task at hand.
Oz held up his finger. "My cousin Jordy bit me last weekend."
"You didn't waste any time, did you?" Xander grumbled.
"Cut it out, Xander," Cordelia reprimanded her boyfriend. She really hated when he got all protective of Willow.
"But Giles," Willow turned to the watcher. "Don't werewolves only come out the night of the full moon? Last night was the night before the full moon, traditionally known as... 'the night before the full moon.'"
Slipping into Watcher-mode, Giles excitedly acknowledged, "The accepted legend that werewolves only prowl during a full moon might be erroneous."
"Or it could be a crock," Cordelia added.
"Unless the werewolf was using last year's almanac," Xander added.
"Looks like Giles has some schooling to do," Buffy said.
"Yes, I must admit I-I am intrigued. Werewolves, it's... it's one of the classics," Giles said, sounding almost giddy. "I-I'm sure my books and I are in for a fascinating afternoon."
"On that note, we need to get back to class," Willow said, strangely wanting to avoid doing research on her own condition. Normally, she would be the first to pull up a book, but she wasn't ready to hear that this might be permanent.
Willow tugged Oz out of the room, sensing his desire to be far from the foreboding books as well.
"He's going to find a way to make it better, right?" she nervously asked him.
Not wanting to have to lie to her, Oz simply said, "We'll be okay."
Giles was practically bouncing as the teenagers entered the library after school. There was a large earth globe with a smaller moon globe attached to it by a bar sitting in the center of the table. Once everyone was seated, he proceeded to demonstrate the phases of the moon.
"And, uh, while there's absolutely no scientific explanation for lunar effect on the human psyche, uh, the phases of the moon, uh, do seem to exert a great deal of psychological influence. And th-the full moon is, is, seems to bring out our darkest qualities," he explained.
Giles paused to make sure that everyone was following what he was saying. "Y-you see, uh, the-the werewolf, uh, is such a, a potent e-e-extreme representation of our inborn animalistic traits that it e-emerges for three full consecutive nights: the full moon and, uh, the two nights surrounding it."
"Quite the party animal," Xander quipped.
"Quite," Giles dryly agreed. "And it, uh, acts on-on pure instinct. No conscience, predatory and, and aggressive."
"In other words, your typical male," Buffy summed up.
"On behalf of my gender, hey," Xander defended.
"And a big hey over here," Willow added.
"Yes, let's not jump to any conclusions," Giles agreed.
"So, what you're saying is that Willow and I are going to turn into animals three nights every month," Oz stated, clarifying the situation.
"To be succinct, yes," Giles admitted, removing his glasses to clean them.
"I-is there any way to stop it?" Willow nervously asked, tears making her voice thick. "Is there a cure for it?"
Giles' eyes softened as they met hers. "I'm afraid not. I can continue my research, but nothing that I've found thus far has indicated a 'cure'."
Willow sniffled, trying to blink back the tears. She didn't want to be a werewolf. She wanted to be a normal, human, girl. She just got her first boyfriend, after all. She was well on her way to being normal, and now this had to happen.
Suddenly she stood up. "I… I can't be here right now."
She started to flee the library, Giles' voice causing her to pause near the door. "Willow, please be back here before the moon rises. If we want to make sure that you don't cause harm to anyone, I'm afraid we'll need to lock you in the book cage."
Horrified at the thought of being locked up like a stray dog at the pound, all Willow could do was nod dumbly as she ran from the room.
Oz moved to follow her. When Giles called out to him too, he cut him off with, "We'll be here."
He caught up with Willow on the front steps of the school, pulling her in a hug and letting her cry on his shoulder as he ran his fingers through her hair. It seemed to have the calming effect he desired.
Wiping her eyes, Willow pulled back. "Sorry I got your shirt all wet."
"I'm sorry, Oz. I know we should probably stick together, but right now I just need some time alone to think. I promise I'll be back before the moon rises. Okay?"
"Yeah. I could use some time to process myself. I'll see you in a couple of hours," Oz agreed.
Willow kissed him softly before turning in the direction of her house. If she hurried, she'd be able to get Spike's coat from her house and make it back with a little time to spare.