buffy

Of Many Moons (Willow/Oz, PG)

Title Of Many Moons
Author Brutti ma buoni
Pairing Willow/Oz – for the werewolf_inlove ficathon (which technically posts tomorrow, but I got dispensation so I could include this in trope bingo, thanks tiny_white_hats)
Rating PG
Words 1600
Setting AU in spaaaace, in a fairly Fireflyish setting – also for trope bingo au: space. It's a little strange.




It's a long time since Willow or Oz saw their home planet. Sunnydale is a long time ago and they aren't sunny people, not these days. Not so surprising, in the end, when the two of them circle back through time and space and meet each other, coming or going, in the days of the waning moon.

They are moon people, one way or another. Oz with his wolf surging and rising with the waxing, so that as his interior strengthened, became animal, his humanity wavered and became a thin skin of control on the surface of his wolf. Thin, but present.

Willow now, acolyte of Diana, or Artemis, Hecate, Phoebe, Selene, Chang’e, Gleti, Hathor, Yemaya, call her whatever you want, she is a woman of the moon. A new bride, slender and flexed in the early days; a round, proud, welcoming mother at the full; waning to bent old age, crone-like as the moon-power leaves her.

They’re pretty much the full on yin-yang when it comes to moon-magic, and maybe that should make them enemies, but it seems more like it makes them fit, head and toe, supporting with strength when the other needs an arm. Willow is strong enough to keep the wolf in check, these days, if Oz can’t do it alone.

They aren’t, exactly, these days, technically speaking, all that human.

They really try not to let that show.

*

Guy walks into a bar. (On Acheron, which is pretty much a death wish, but the guy needs a drink, and the town of Cerberus isn't as rough as some. Plus, the guy has some talents and tools that make him safer than the average bear in a bar in a town on a bad planet. Though he would so much prefer not to have to tell anyone about those.)

Guy walks into a bar, sniffs the air for trouble and there's something. Not trouble. Something old. Something from way back.

"Willow?"

Guy says it aloud, and it vanishes into the trashy noisiness of the bar. But she hears.

Oz?

So. She got powerful. Oz sniffs more deeply, and there it is. Witch. He missed it, under Willow, but it's there.

She got powerful, and she got daring. Acheron is not a place for undefended women, any more than it's a place for a guy to walk into a bar without a plan.

The chances of this being coincidental are, actually, pretty small.

Willow laughs, in his head. Yep. I'm the contact.

"Okay. Want to go somewhere else?"

Sure. Where?

"I have a room."

A little forward, sure, but first, this is Acheron, and if you don't get somewhere quick, you'll get nowhere, ever. Second, there's literally nowhere safe on the planet, but at least an inn gives you walls and a lockable door. Oz adds mentally that he also has a shuttle out of here if required. Willow's mental shrug reaches him resoundingly. She’s not the cut and run type, anymore. No need. But still, Okay.

She walks towards him. He can feel her long before he sees, and before that he sees the ripple in the bar as the woman walks. A woman alone in an Acheron bar should be dead meat, or just meat, fit for groping and worse. This woman, not so much.

The bar parts, to let her through, and Oz sees Willow for the first time in a decade.

He can't restrain himself. "Huh."

She looks pretty amazing.

*

On his bed, in the crummy but moderately secure inn, she looks better, if possible. It helps that she's talking – only a little, but actually using her mouth, and so Oz's wolf senses aren't overblown by the mind reading as well as her physical presence.

It's still distracting, her Willowness, the oddity and sweetness he remembers well, the sheer familiarity of the look of her, added to her new attributes. Power. Glamour. Beauty.

Underneath it, he can still smell uncertainty, but it's smaller and weaker than it once was. Willow's found her place. Apparently, Acheron is a part of it.

She looks insane, on the basic bedframe, rough blankets and none-too-clean sheets a background to glowing, flowing green robes, and her hair dressed high and senatorial. A fish out of water, wolf in the city. Enchantress brought to earth.

He becomes aware that she is waiting for him to speak. People generally don’t, with Oz. They get antsy with the silence, and they talk more to make up for him. Willow did, way back when, though he never minded. She was only ever talking to cover the silence of her insecurity. Now, she’s not so insecure.

But he can wait. He’s very, very good at waiting.

Outside, Acheron’s moon rises.

The clear silver light floods Oz’s meager bedroom. Willow tilts her head, still silent, listening for his response. He’s sure she picks up the heightened heartbeat. Bound to get the mantra that’s almost subconscious now. But his wolf is tamed into quiescence, and whatever Willow’s looking for, it seems like she doesn’t find it.

She curls up more comfortably on the bed, gestures to Oz to lie down.

Finally, she breaks his silence down. He doesn’t lie with Willow. Not this woman, and not her kind, the contacts. “Shouldn’t we talk?”

She shrugs, a little. “If you want. I was just glad to see you, Oz. It’s been a long time.” A hard time, breathes the silence between. “We can talk in the morning.”

Acheron is a little safer in the mornings. Well-slept, they will be a little more prepared. It’s a plan. He nods, and joins her on the bed.

She says, “You want something to help you sleep?” He understands she doesn’t mean something pharmaceutical.

“No thanks. I sleep well.” And I don’t want your magicks. He might as well have said it aloud, of course, and she looks a little sad.

She says, “I wish I did.” Her spell net falls over her, trapping Willow in a sleep-enchanted bubble far from Oz. He doesn’t, in fact, sleep all that well, lying beside a beautiful woman who used to share herself, natural and laughing, every bit open to Oz, and he was open in return. Now she’s like a lost princess in myth, trapped in enchantments. Oz may not be the bad wolf now, but he’s never been the prince hero type. There will be no wakening kiss, here.

He wakes up to find that her spell has broken and he’s wrapped himself in her, nose in her hair, the Willow smell of her familiar from his early, happy years. His body’s stirring, good memories potent. But she’s not his Willow.

She rolls over to face him before Oz has himself controlled. Props her head on her hands, pin-sharp and bright-eyed because she doesn’t sleep like normal folks. “So, time to talk turkey?”

He laughs, can’t help himself. Just for a second, she is his old Willow once more. She blushes, sweetly confused by that flicker of her old self. He breaks it, fast. Can't afford to get too fond of an old unattainable. Not when danger's everywhere. (Acheron is nothing, nothing compared with the risk to contacts and couriers in their dark game.) Too easy, when you lie curled together the way they did as innocents at college. Too easy to lose track.

"What do you have for me?"

Willow leans up on her elbow, breasts falling a little sideways in her soft sleeping top as gravity takes hold. Oz tries so hard not to look, though the flicker in her face tells him she registers it anyway. She smiles, cute and sassy and completely false. "I have money, and coupla thousand bodies ready to lay on the line. And some transferrable power spells, for the big push. And you know what?"

Oz nods, briefly. "It won't do a damn bit of good. And they'll die."

"Uhuh." She doesn't sugar-coat. Her eyes glow, briefly, reminding him of the power she's choosing not to display. "Not one step forward, in the war. And another couple thousand dead. That's all."

"It's a symbol?" He says it, disbelieving, because they are the ritual words that the rebels use. A symbol. A sign. That there is hope, of change and freedom. Oz, personally, doesn't have actual hope, but he likes to see it in others, so he's become used to saying the words.

Willow releases herself, elbow scooting out, body flopping to the mattress, making the whole bed shake. She sighs. "Nobody believes that. Not anymore."

"So, then, what?" Oz almost snaps it out, but that would be a mistake on many counts. Control and respect. They are important. "We don't just give up?" Many have, of course, but they rarely say it aloud. And she doesn't have the look of a quitter.

"So we escalate," says Willow, smooth and natural, eyes still closed. From the voice she uses Oz knows he isn't the first contact she's said this to. He swallows, mouth dry. He suspects, suddenly, that Willow is higher in the rebellion than he'd have guessed previously.

She reads his thought, and sends a silent message. Non-verbal, this one. The sight of an army of superwomen, far more than just Buffy Summers or whoever the current Slayer may be. That's Willow's plan. He can see it, full-formed and enticing. She believes she can do it.

Oz wonders, as the moon wanes, whether her power is enough. Truly enough, to wreak this magnitude of change across solar systems. His mantra swells, trying to block her out, not to show his doubts. He'll go along with it. Of course he will. The worlds need better, and Willow's plan is potentially heading towards better.

When they fail, it will be one hell of a symbol.

He cuddles close to her in the warm, illusory safety of their temporary bed. "I'm with you."

***
This is fantastic! I love the opaqueness of it... and of Willow and Oz. Brava!

ETA: Had to come back and stay more. This is... everything the comics should have been. It's so true to who Willow and Oz are, taking them believably to a new and unfamiliar place. Again, Brava!


Gabrielle

Edited at 2013-04-30 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! It was one of those match ups I'd never have come to without trope bingo prompts, but I do like the outcome.
They aren’t, exactly, these days, technically speaking, all that human.

I adore all the qualifiers in this line. Nothing is simple in this world. Message received.

He can't restrain himself. "Huh."

Heh. See, this is why you write Oz so well.

Very nice, m'dear. Or if not nice, then fascinating.

*suspicious* Why is your icon so perfect for this post?

Glad you enjoyed! It's a weird little AU they have going here, but it pleases me.
I love this! You write Oz beautifully. And he's hard; so much of him is internal. You capture it well.

So much love!
Thanks so much! Oz is *really* hard to capture, and I've never really succeeded except from his POV I think. But even that isn't so simple, so I'm glad you thought this one worked.
Ooooh. Interesting and creepy. And your portrayal of Willow is just mesmerizing.
Fascinating. Oz and Willow will draw me back to the Buffydom almost every time...

(One day S2C and I will actually finish Access all Areas - we have promised ourselves.)
This was lovely! You created a fascinating AU, which Willow and Oz fit into so well! I enjoyed it immensely!
Really fascinating. Good to see them together again and so like and unlike themselves.