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.
The third night of the full moon came and went with little excitement. Xander and Giles once again kept watch over the restless, caged werewolves, trying not to jump at every rattle of the cages.
Despite Giles' insistence that there was no way to rid a person of lycanthropy once they had been bitten, Xander spent those nights eagerly reading through every book Giles had on the subject. He even went so far as to try looking things up online, but seemed to run into more fiction than fact. He didn't know how Willow sorted through all of the non-information to get to the real stuff.
He also spent a great deal of time those nights reflecting on his friendship with Willow. He still wasn't sure when she had stopped being his little Wills. Maybe it had slowly been happening ever since Jesse had died. Maybe it was when she and Oz had started dating.
He hated to admit it, but the musician was good for his friend. Well, aside from turning her into a werewolf. Trying to use Willow's reasoning that Oz didn't know he was a werewolf when he'd accidentally bitten her, Xander grudgingly forgave the other boy. Although, a small part of him would probably always hate the fact that Willow had been in a position to be bit.
Still, the redhead had seemed to come to life in the past month. She practically glowed from the attention the other boy had been paying to her.
Xander was forced to admit, to himself at least, that Cordelia's jealousy was slightly warranted. He may not have wanted to date Willow himself – and still didn't – but he also wasn't ready to watch her fall for someone else. Not when he'd been the object of her affections for so long.
Giles was very proud of the way that Willow and Oz had been handling the situation they now found themselves in. He found it remarkable that the teenagers had accepted their new status as werewolves so easily. At least, seemingly so.
While he hated the fact that it had to happen to either of his young charges, he was somewhat grateful that they didn't have to go through this alone. He had the impression that Oz would have dealt with his lycanthropy well enough on his own, but he wasn't so sure that Willow would have accepted it as quickly as she had if she hadn't had the young man to lean on.
The Watcher in him wanted to sit the teenagers down, separately and then together, and ask them about their experiences. He had a long list of questions he was dying to ask about what it felt like as they changed, if they remembered anything from while they were in wolf form, etc. He had managed to work a couple of questions in, but not nearly as many as he would have liked.
He supposed that he had plenty of time in which to ask them, though. While he understood Xander's relentlessness in searching for a "cure" for Willow (and Oz), he doubted the existence of one. Granted, werewolves were not strongly studied at the Watcher Academy, but he was certain he would have remembered having heard of a cure for lycanthropy.
Until then, he would help Willow and Oz to address any questions that they might have about their new lifestyle. And he would try to help Xander and Buffy accept the change in their friends' lives as well. Already, Xander was well on his way to acceptance, but Buffy…
Giles feared that it would take his slayer a long time to truly come to grips with what had happened to her best friend. He gave small thanks that Willow was merely a werewolf and had not been turned into a vampire. He didn't think that Buffy would be able to live with herself if that ever happened.
He would stress to her that Willow was still the same person that she had always been. There would be no great changes to her personality due to her lycanthropy. Her life would only be affected for three nights a month, not even days.
No, it just meant that Buffy would have to lock her best friend in a cage three nights in a row and watch her turn into a monster.
Giles sighed. He knew this last part would be difficult on them all. It had been heart-wrenching to watch the wolves take over the bodies of his charges these last two nights. Now there would be a lifetime of it.
Buffy aimlessly wandered through yet another cemetery. She couldn't stay in the library, not after being forced to watch her best friend turn into a beast.
She wouldn't admit it, except maybe to Giles – someday, but when she saw Willow as a werewolf, her first instinct had been to kill. Kill the beast, the monster, the dark thing in the shadow that threatened mankind. That was her job after all; she was the Slayer.
Buffy couldn't help wondering what awful thing would happen next. Would it be Xander? Would something go after him next? She'd already lost her boyfriend and her best friend. She tried to tell herself she wouldn't mind if Cordelia was the next target, but she couldn't bring herself to even joke about it silently. Whether she liked it or not, as Xander's girlfriend, the cheerleader was now a part of their group.
Spinning, Buffy staked the vampire that was trying to sneak up on her. She might be lost in her thoughts, but she could still hear when someone was stepping on every single twig that crossed their path. She wiped the dust off her coat as she listlessly continued on her way.
She was just starting to come to grips with the fact that the man she loved, the vampire with a soul who was her soulmate, was gone, most likely forever. Instead, she had to face off with the evil monster he had become – after making love to her. Her love had essentially killed the best thing in her life, replacing it with the worst thing she could imagine.
It wasn't fair, she decided. Life as a slayer was difficult. She should be allowed to have some degree of normality with her friends. She didn't want to admit that she could understand why most slayers weren't allowed to have friends and family – a life. If you had no one to care about, you couldn't be hurt when they were gone, or worse, turned into one of the things you were sworn to destroy.
Buffy could almost hear Giles' voice in her head insisting that Willow and Oz were not gone. Yes, they would still be her friends, most of the time, but it was those three nights a month that would always remind the blonde that they weren't human anymore.
And she didn't know if she would ever be able to accept that.
The moon waned and began to wax again, another month coming full cycle.
Willow and Oz didn't know whether or not to celebrate their one month anniversary of being werewolves. They joked about it with their friends, trying not to acknowledge the slight frown that would cross Buffy's face whenever Willow talked about her werewolf status.
"We could have hats and balloons, oh, and finger food," Willow excitedly suggested, in response to the idea of a party for the afternoon of the night before the full moon.
"Yeah, but then you'd have a taste for them," Xander pointed out. "And no one's fingers are going anywhere near your mouth, young lady."
"You can nibble on my finger," Oz whispered in her ear, causing Willow to giggle and blush.
"Cut that out," Cordelia chided the wolflings. The two got way too much into the PDA the closer they got to the full moon. It was cute, but in a way-too-much-information kind of way.
Clearing her throat, Willow changed the subject. "So, um, where's Giles? He's not here guarding the books."
"Oh, he had this thing to do today," Buffy said. "The Sunnydale Museum of Natural History wanted his opinion on some artifact they found. He went to check it out yesterday and went back with books today. He said something about figuring out what it says before opening it."
"And he didn't take us?" Willow pouted, the idea of helping to discover some archeological find exciting.
Xander reached over to pat her hand. "We all know how you like digging things up, but if this is a paying job," he paused for Buffy to nod that it was, "it would be unprofessional for us to tag along."
"Plus, it would be boring," Cordelia added.
"For you maybe," the redhead continued to pout.
"Giles didn't even really know what it was before he left," Buffy offered in support. "He was just giddy that he got to go do something museum-ish for a while. And Giles is kinda freaky when he gets giddy."
Giles came through the library doors half an hour later, definitely not giddy.
"You're back soon," Buffy commented.
"The guard was dead and the artifact is missing," he informed the group. "Vampires."
"Angelus?" Buffy asked.
"Most likely, yes," Giles agreed.
"Do you know what it was?" Willow asked.
"I cannot be certain yet, but from what I have been able to ascertain, I believe that it is the tomb of Acathla."
"It's a big rock," Spike drawled. "I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big."
"Spike, my boy, you never did learn your history," Angelus informed him.
"Let's have a lesson, then."
Spike listened with a bored expression on his face as Angelus gave him the history of Acathla. Two of the minions pulled the stone lid off the tomb and he tried not to cringe at the ugly statue staring back at him with a sword piercing its chest.
Spike was certain of one thing as he watched his sire and grandsire take maniacal pleasure from the idea of the world ending: The soul had made Angelus completely stark raving mad. Sure, Angelus had always been a sick bastard, but he'd never shown psychotic tendencies like this before.
He didn't blame Drusilla for going along with this hare-brained scheme – she had always been crazy and blindly followed Angelus' suggestions. She wouldn't see the insanity of ending the world. She only cared that it made her Daddy happy to do so.
He needed to put a stop to this. He wasn't about to allow Angelus to ruin his life, again, by taking away his source of food. What did he think they were going to eat when all of the people were sucked into hell?
Spike grinned, hoping Angelus would assume it was in response to his fanatical ramblings. He had just the ace up his sleeve to pull this off. As soon as night fell, he had a slayer to visit.
To be continued...