Love will not break your heart (but dismiss your fears)
Right now it’s not that time, I guess.
You feel it in your bones before even knowing.
One day you wake up and it’s just there, an itchy feeling burning you from your insides. You’ve been a witch for so many years and you should know by now, but somehow you just don’t. You feel it, it’s there, but what exactly there is inside of you, you cannot tell.
It’s a day like many others.
You wake up all alone in your one-bedroom apartment, head to the kitchen and put the kettle on for your morning tea.
Glasgow is blessed with warm sun outside your windows, there’s some cool breeze blowing from the East and it brings something back with it. It’s like a perfume you feel like remembering, like a memory from a past you’ve never really let go of.
You sip your tea in sacred silent while the noise from the streets reaches you, distant and blurry; you shower quickly as you always do, dress up without really caring about the clothes you’re putting on and leave the apartment in a hurry.
It’s a busy summer day, and you have classes to attend to, young, brilliant minds to shape even though they would probably wish they were somewhere else, in one of the few sunny days Scotland has to offer. They should be used to it by now, and should know better that you love the sun and warmth as much as they do. You’ll take the class out, to the beautifully green grass in the campus, and they will love you endlessly.
When you first got the offer from the Glasgow university, you weren’t sure whether to accept it or not. It seemed so far far away, miles and miles and oceans away from your beloved – and sunny – California. From your friends.
From Xander, barely carrying on without Ania. It had been years since that day, the day she died, the day Spike died, the day almost all the Slayers died. It had been years but Xander’s wound was still open and bleeding like the day it had been inflicted and it just didn’t seem right to leave him on his own, right when he needed you.
Far away from Buffy, the best friend you’ve ever had, the girl you followed and trusted with your life. Leaving Buffy didn’t seem right either, even if you knew she was carrying on with her life just fine, slaying with Dawn and taking it a bit easier all considered.
Far away from Giles, from a still retired Giles, who found himself with a little too much time on his hands, time you helped him killed by stopping by his place and discussing with him about magic and books, or books about magic.
Far away from Kennedy, or from the big black hole she left in your life when she decided that you two were not meant for each other and packed her things quickly to be gone over the night. You’ve missed her a lot, that smart and unconventional girl, but somehow you knew she was right. You were not meant for each other at all, so the sooner the better, or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself for several months after she left.
It didn’t seem right to leave your best friends, the Scooby gang, but it didn’t feel right to stay. And though it had been years after the day that stupid bullet killed your Tara, well, it’d still hurt like hell and you knew running away wasn’t the answer, but still it was something. They say time ease all the pain and heal the wounds, but the truth is it doesn’t. Wounds never heal completely and pain never goes away, it just hides in a dark place inside of you, quiet but still there to remind you of everything you’ve lost and will never get back.
You talked to them, back then. You talked to each and one of them, and they all told you one thing: leave. Not because they didn’t want you around, nor because they thought all the wounds would magically heal by leaving. They told you to leave because they knew, even before you did, that there was nothing left for you there, that your life was gonna keep on going somewhere else, and a job offer like the one you got was not to put off.
So you left; you packed quickly, then twelve hours flight and there it was, Scotland, waiting for you with its cold freezing air and the beautiful views, with the mountains and the lakes, with animals and people wearing kilts.
You felt nostalgic an awful lot during your first months in that brand new country, and you still feel a bit homesick from time to time. But it’s getting better and you can’t help but feeling like home here, in a place you don’t probably belong with people who have no idea of who you are, of what you’ve faced and done.
Still, something’s missing and that itchy feeling seems to be there to remind you that.
Scotland is cold even in summer, and if you only think about home, about how sunny and warm California is, you feel the urge of going back, even if just for a little while.
The moment will come soon anyway, summer holidays are coming and the university will close down for a couple of months. And you’ve already got your tickets, to Los Angeles and back.
Sometimes you miss Sunnydale a lot. You always remember the life you’ve lived in that small, chaotic town, the friends you got, the ones you’ve lost; you always remember the fun you had, and how scared sometimes you would get. You remember the Bronze, and the music, and the nice nights out you spent with Buffy, and Xander, and Ania, and Tara.
You remember your high school years, how lonely and wrong you felt before finding your place in an unconventional bunch of pretty much messed-up teenagers. You remember Cordelia, how blonde she was, how she became your friend. It was nice to meet her again, when you moved to LA after Sunnydale crashed down; it was nice to find out she wasn’t that stupid teenager anymore, that she was a proper grown-up. She too had been through a lot, and you couldn’t help but feel for her. She cried when Buffy told her about Sunnydale, about what really happened, about how almost everybody left before the town got burnt down.
It was nice to see Angel too, and to watch him and Buffy starting their thing all over and over again, close again but always too far. They started to work together again, to patrol, always longing for each other but never giving in to the temptation, not repeating the same mistakes again.
You miss them so much, and you will never stop missing them for when you’re not together it feels like you’re missing some part of your body. It for sure hurts as well as if you were.
You can’t help but smile when you realize that only few weeks are keeping you apart, and then you’ll be home again. You and Buffy will have one of your girls nights, will stay up late and talk about every single thing you’ve missed in each other’s life. You will have tons of chocolate and cookies and ice cream, and of course some beers will do as well. Buffy will tell Dawn to go to sleep, and Dawn will tell her she’s not a kid anymore and she can do pretty much what the hell she wants, and she’ll end up hanging out with you until she’ll eventually fall asleep on the couch. God, you miss this so much.
And Xander, you’ll see him again after one freaking year of teaching and homework, and yeah, you’ve kept in touch all the time but it’s not the same as being together, in the same room, sharing a cup of hot chocolate even if the weather’s super warm.
Who knows how many more wrinkles you’ll count on Giles’ face, and how much he will complain about ‘stupid Americans with their stupid habits and for God’ sake, how can they not have Yorkshire tea? It’s outrageous’. His eyesight is getting worse every year now, the man’s getting older – it’s happening, even if it’s hard to believe, to all of you. You know Buffy stops by his place more frequently then she used to, that Xander spends almost all of his spare time with him, and even Dawn spends afternoons at his when she doesn’t have to study for her exams.
And even though you love your life now – the teaching, the school, your students, your small apartment and the Tesco just around the corner as well as everything else – you just feel like you’re missing out on something, something damn important, and no one will give you back the time you’re spending doing something else, somewhere else.
The itchy feeling is still there after you’ve finished with your lessons of the day, long after the sun has set (God, sun setting before five in the afternoon is something you’ll never get used to, for real) and you don’t understand.
You know something is coming, you feel it, but what is coming? You’re one of the most powerful Guardians in the world, still you can’t tell. Ironic, isn’t it? Or maybe just a little annoying. Maybe both.
It’s a change, at least you know that. The thing that’s coming, whatever that is, it’s a change, you just hope it’s for the best – you’re kinda tired of monsters and vampires and apocalypses. You just want some quiet, boring normal life now, if that’s not too much to ask. Sure, you’ll never quit magic, that’s who you are, you can’t just stop being who you are, but you can do the normal life thing for a while. It has worked in the past few years, and you hope it’ll work for many many years to come.
Happy birthday, Will! I love you so much, can’t wait to have you here again. Xx. B.
The buzzing phone on your bedside table wakes you up in the middle of the night. You rub your eyes, turn the small light on and take the phone with a big, not so delicate yawn.
Happy bday, bff! I’m counting down the days, the Scooby Gang will be reunited!!! Can’t wait to see you – with my left eye, of course. To see you, ha ha, did you get that? You probably did, and you’re probably thinking I’m an idiot. Anyway. Love you. Have a nice bday and don’t drink too much, Giles tells me they have pretty strong beers in Scotland.
You can’t help but smile and think that yes, Xander is an idiot, but he’s the most adorable idiot you’ve ever met and you miss him so much it hurts. You miss them all so much, and it’s a shame they’re not here with you to celebrate your birthday. Even because, well, thirty-five years old, that’s kinda scary. You can’t believe you’ve made it so far, not when back in Sunnydale it seemed like you were not gonna make it to graduation. Or the end of the year.
Willow, I wish you a very happy birthday. I hope you’re OK and enjoying yourself. I’ll see you soon, and I will show you that new spell book I was telling you about. I’m sure you’ll love it. Take care, Giles.
It’s kind of weird thinking that Giles (Giles! The ‘I don’t understand this technology of yours, books are the only way’ Giles, the librarian Giles, the ‘progress is just a waste of time, and I will never read a book on a bloody computer!’ Giles!) knows how to use a mobile phone, it’s something that’s not supposed to happen. Not that he’s completely unaware of techs and stuff but still, he doesn’t like it at all, and his text is the major effort that shows you how much the old man cares.
The alarm clock on the table proudly shows 4:34am in red, shiny numbers and you sigh, knowing that if you go back to sleep now there’s no freaking way you’ll wake up in time. So that’s it, better call it a night (or a day?); you leave the – warm, comfortable, too comfortable – bed and head to the small kitchen looking for some coffee. Something to eat wouldn’t be too bad either.
…which, of course, it’s not gonna happen because you forgot to stop by the shop on your way home from work and now your cupboards are empty, sadly empty except for some slices of bread that seem to have been there for ages.
There’s no more coffee either, and even if you still got some tea, well, it’s coffee what you really need now.
So you put your trainers on and cover yourself in a long black coat, hoping that it will hide your pyjamas at least a little bit. When you open the door the cold air surrounds you, hitting you like tiny little pieces of ice, and of course you had to forget your scarf as you always do, it wouldn’t have been fun otherwise.
You wear the hoodie over your head and it feels a bit better, then walk through the couple of blocks that separate you from the Tesco, open 24/7. It’s a small one, and the prices are kinda crazy sometimes, but it’s the best around, and you don’t really want to go to the off-licence down the road, where the creepy Pakistan guy keeps on making advances to you. Plus, the Tesco is really just around the corner, and it comes in handy every time you forget to shop and need something late at night. Which, to be honest, seems to happen all the time.
The doors slide open before you and when you get inside a sense of warmth welcomes you in.
You take a basket and go directly to the shelves where they keep the coffee, take the unknown brand that’s on offer today and head to the small bakery section to find some bread, maybe even some sweets. A doughnut would be awesome. And you’d probably need some butter, and some ham, and some cheese to make toasts – and a lot of other stuff you don’t really wanna buy now, you can go to the ASDA on the main road when you’ll come back from classes. Oh, and milk, you definitely need some milk.
You look at the doughnuts, at all its colours and little meringues, and decide to have the strawberry-iced one. You love it, and screw the diet.
It takes you about ten minutes to find everything you need and pay, and when it’s time to go out you hold your coat firmly to protect you against the wind and cold that’s waiting for you on the streets.
You can have some decent breakfast now, enjoy your cup of coffee, enjoy a second one and then take a long, relaxing shower before going to work. Few days, only few days and you’ll be back where you really belong.
Head down to shield you against the wind, you cross the street holding the bags firmly in one hand while with the other you try to reach the keys you’ve put in your pocket, and you crash on someone.
«I’m so so-»
The itchy feeling that’s been there for a couple of days suddenly disappears before a pair of green eyes you know so well, you’ve never forgotten.
His voice – his voice is just like you remember, low, slow-paced, calm. He looks older – of course he looks older, it’s been years since the last time you’ve met, and oh my God, you must look older too, he would probably-
«I’ve been told you were living here, I didn’t know where exactly but I thought I’d give it a shot.»
You don’t say anything while a drizzling rain starts to fall, you just look at him and, well, the world around you seems to disappear. He’s there, he’s really there, right in front of you, with his shy, soft smile and his glowing eyes fixed in yours.
«It’s nice to see you again.»
In a split of a second everything comes back at you, all the emotions, all the Sunday afternoons you’ve spent in bed, all the times you’ve made love to each other; each and every kiss, every smile, all the times he’s told you he loved you and the times you’ve told him back.
For all those years you’ve been sure, so damn sure you were going to meet again – you just didn’t know when that would’ve happened, but you knew. And now here he is, standing in front of you under the rain that’s growing in intensity, and you don’t know what to do, what to say. You’ve pictured this moment in your mind so many times you’ve lost count, you’ve wondered how it would’ve been, what it would’ve felt like; you’ve pictured Glasgow’ blue sky, or Los Angeles, or some foreign country you haven’t visited yet. You’ve pictured afternoons or lazy mornings or boring evenings, you’ve pictured streets and post offices and supermarkets you’ve never been to.
Yet it happens here, a bloke away from your place, right when the night’s fading away and the dawn’s crawling in.
«It’s nice to see you too,» you somehow manage to say and that’s it, you don’t really think you’ll be able to say more. It feels like your heart has stopped beating, like you’re catching a breath you don’t have; it feels like you’re not able to emit sound, to produce thought, to move even.
«Look, I know it’s been years-»
«Would you like a cup of coffee?» you interrupt him because you know he’s gonna say something stupid, the ‘maybe I shouldn’t have come’ kind of stupid, and you can’t afford that right now. «Or tea, maybe you prefer some tea. I can make you something to eat if you’re hungry. Are you hungry? Because I am, I was going to have breakfast in fact, big breakfast with lots of food, and they don’t have doughnuts like the ones we have in California but still, they’re pretty good if you want to try-»
«Can I help you with that?» he asks stopping that stream of babbling, and you will never thank him enough for that. So you just nod and he gives you a small, almost visible smile. «Coffee would be great, thanks.»
He takes the bags from you and a shiver comes down your spine when your fingers touch for a moment. You lead the way and he follows, both wrapped in a dense silence full of all the things you haven’t told to each other in a long, long time.
You keep on walking and don’t tell him that you’ve missed him.
You don’t tell him that you’ve been thinking about him pretty much all the time, you don’t tell him that you have always been waiting since the day he left, and that you would’ve waited for a lifetime if needed.
You don’t tell him that he’s been with you, that he’s never really left you, the same way you don’t ask if you’ve been with him too. Somehow, you know you have. You will always be.
«So this is where you live now?» he asks when you finally find your keys and lead him into the small, chaotic apartment.
«It is,» you say lighting up the lights with a wave of your hand and trying to hide few clothes underneath the sofa’s cushions. He smiles. «I know it’s not the best, and it’s kinda small really-»
«I like it,» he says following you in the kitchen and leaving the shopping bags on the table. «It is so… you.»
You follow his gaze and look at all the candles lying around, at the pictures, the books. You smile back.
«It is. So me.»
Oz takes a sit at the small wooden table and watches you while making coffee, you can feel his eyes on you all the time like you used to. You’ve missed it. You put some ham and cheese on a plate, then take the butter and the cutlery to the table.
«You look great,» he says after a while and you’re not sure whether to be grateful that he broke the silence that has fallen upon you like a spell. So you just pour the coffee in two cups and sit in front of him, handling him the hot drink.
Oz smiles, or it’s more like a smirk. «Nah, I look awful.»
You take a look at him, at the one-week beard, at his tired eyes and raggedy clothes. «Maybe a bit.»
He laughs, a loud, proper laugh like you haven’t heard in a while. It feels good to hear him laughing, it feels like all those years are just a bad dream you’re waking up from, like time hasn’t passed and you’re just you, the college guys you. It feels like life has still something good to offer, and you haven’t felt like that in such a long time you almost forgot what it’s like.
«So…» Oz says while stirring his coffee with the teaspoon. He doesn’t need to ask you if you put sugar already and when it takes a sip the coffee’s just as sweet as he likes it. «How have you been?»
«Good,» you reply, maybe a little too quickly, but it’s the truth, or at least part of it. «New job, new place. It’s nice to have something that’s completely mine, if you know what I mean, something-»
«Something different,» he finishes for you with a melancholic smile. «Something normal.»
«I was gonna say ‘something I’ve earned and deserved’, but I guess ‘normal’ would do.»
Oz smiles again, a bright, wide smile that warms you up from the inside, and it’s like you’ve never stopped doing this, talking at five something in the morning, talking all night long.
Then you look into his eyes and you see it, all the words he’s holding back, the words he so badly wants to say but suddenly can’t, as if they were stuck in his throat and couldn’t get out. You know because they’re the same you’re trying so hard to push back.
«And how are you doing?» you ask instead and hide behind the too hot coffee. He shrugs.
«Surviving,» he says, and you can’t help but look at that old, familiar wrinkle at the corner of his lips. «I’ve been pretty much everywhere. India, China, Tibet… shaman-hunting, we might say.»
«Oh.» You don’t know what to say, really. You still vividly remember the day he left you, you remember the day he came back; he wouldn’t change during the full moon thanks to charms and potions, but then something happened, and it almost got him killed.
You happened. You almost got him killed, you were unconsciously driving the wolf out of him.
«It’s not like it used to be,» he says, interrupting that stream of thoughts that’s eating you alive. «I still wear charms and stuff, but there’s no way I can be human during the full moon.»
«Oz, I’m so sorry.»
«Don’t be,» he smiles and somehow you know he’s OK, somehow you know that shifting doesn’t scare him anymore, that he can control it. «There’s nothing to keep me from shifting, but there’s a potion; I found this old shaman in the wildest territory of Asia and he knew what I was even before I could approach him. He taught me how to be in control without restraining myself, he helped me find a balance between the wolf and the human. And he gave me a potion.»
«But,» you say, sounding exactly as confused as you feel right now. «But you said-»
«That I’m still turning into a wolf on a full moon, yeah.» He looks up at you and his eyes, my God, his eyes look so damn full of all the things he’s been through. «But I’m pretty much harmless. I just need to be quiet somewhere; I lay down and wait for the day to come, and nothing happens. I’m still shifting, but it’s better than nothing.»
«Oz, this is-»
You don’t know what to say. Amazing? It is, somehow. Scary? Yeah. Permanent solution? Hopefully.
«This is good,» you say in the end and touch his hand with yours. His skin, you can feel it. You can feel it again and it makes you shiver, the contact is like electricity and you know he feels it too.
«Yeah, it is.»
He holds your hand now and you feel like you just want him to hug you and never let you go. You need to feel his arms all around you again, you need him like you need to breathe to be alive, and you knew this would’ve happened sooner or later.
«Er, did the others… did they tell you about Sunnydale?»
He lets go of your hand and tilts back on his chair, his eyes darkened and deep. He nods, slowly.
«They did,» he says looking inside his cup and his voice seems so distant, so far now. «I haven’t come back in a while, I had no idea. Buffy told me what happened, how you managed to… I wish I was there for you, Will. I wish I was there to help.»
«That was a bigger deal than anything we’d ever faced before.» If you only think about that day you can feel the pain coming back, so strong and so deep and so dark. If you think about that day you can feel all the lives that had been taken, all the blood that had been spilled, and it hurts so much you’re not sure you can stand it.
«What else did she tell you?» you ask and your voice is trembling. You don’t know what exactly Buffy told him, but you feel like he still has lots to know about.
«What else should’ve she told me?»
«Oz,» you say and you don’t even know if you can look at him right know. «There’s something you need to know.»
So you take a deep breath and you tell him all about how magic had become dangerous for you and you tell him about Tara, you tell him about how she died; you can’t keep the tears from running down your face when you tell him how far and how bad pain drove you, how close you’d been to killing off everyone you know.
When you wake up the light outside is fading out and you realize you’ve missed the – few – hours of sun Glasgow offers.
Oz is still asleep at the other end of the small sofa. He seems so peaceful, so quiet.
As soon as you realized you were going to talk all night, possibly all day, you rang the university to call in sick, so you have a few days before you need to go back. Mrs. McKenzie wished you well, told you to stay put and get your strength back, then told you to drink loads of tea, because it will make you feel better, darling.
It’s not like you, to call in sick without being, well, sick, but you had to make an exception. For Oz.
You told him everything, didn’t leave out the smallest detail; you watched his eyes widen, his expression changing, his face darken. He wouldn’t believe it at first, it was like he didn’t want to, but he knows you well enough to understand you were not lying. He took it in, stoically, and accepted it.
You know you disappointed him, but first of all you disappointed yourself. It’s been years now, but you still cannot forgive yourself completely. Everyone else did, you just can’t.
You stand up, get to the toilet before reaching the kitchen, and put the kettle on. It’s time for a nice, warm cup of tea.
Oz didn’t tell you about his plans. He didn’t tell you if he’s here just for a while, or if he’s here to stay. You think you know the answer already, but you’re too scared to say it out loud. So you’ll just have to wait, and see what happen.
The tea is ready when he enters the kitchen rubbing the sleep off his eyes.
«Good morning,» you say, taking a second cup from the upper cupboard. «Or, well, afternoon, for what matters.»
He gives you a small smile and handles something towards you, a small package wrapped in brown paper. You take it and look at it as if you were trying to figure out its content.
«I haven’t forgotten,» he says tilting his head towards the small box. «Open it.»
You remain silent and do as he says, unwrap the paper and open the small box. Inside there’s a necklace, a thin silver necklace that ends in a circle joint with the mathematical symbol of infinite.
«This is… it’s beautiful,» you say and you can’t stop looking at it. It truly is beautiful, and so simple, so essential.
«You probably know what the circle and the infinite mean,» he says standing up and coming to you. He takes the necklace from your hands and puts it around your neck. «It’s been enchanted by a sorcerer in India with a protection spell. When something bad is gonna happen the circle turns blue.»
«I love it,» you tell him, gently touching his hands. He place a kiss on your head and goes back to his chair.
«Happy birthday, Will.»
For days you don’t leave the apartment except for shopping at the Tesco close by.
You and Oz spend all the time talking, drinking tons of coffee or tea; he stays at your place and you sleep together, but only to share the bed. He doesn’t do anything to push you and it’s perfectly fine by you to sleep in his arms like you used to.
You like it, sleeping in his arms. It makes you feel warm and sheltered, protected. And you would be the greatest liar if you’d say you didn’t miss it.
Truth is, you’ve missed Oz every single day of your life, and even when you had Tara you felt like you were still waiting for him to come back. Not that it affected your relationship with Tara, or the immense love you felt for her, only – well, you only knew Oz would’ve never stopped being part of your life, of you. Exactly like Tara will never leave you alone, her memory will never fade.
That’s it, you’ve got to admit to yourself. Tara and Oz have been the greatest loves of your life, will always be. There’s no way you can compare them, compare what you had with each of them, they’re just – they’re yours.
You already know what the Scooby Gang will think, you know they’ll try to find a confusion in your eyes that’s not there, it’s never been there.
Love is not brainy, it’s not a gender thing; you don’t choose who to fall in love with, it just happens and does it really matter if it’s a boy or a girl? Does it matter if you fall in love with both? You cannot control love, but at the same time love will have control over you.
You have one last week at work before going back home, finally, and you really hope Oz won’t leave you alone now, not when you need him – again, forever -.
So you ask him, in one of your lazy afternoons, while you’re lying on the bed and watching the stars shining right outside of your window. You ask him, and he kisses your lips and murmur a low, vibrant ‘always’.
Living with Oz now it’s different from when you used to ‘live’ together back in college. You still have classes to attend to (as a teacher, sometimes you still find it hard to believe), he still doesn’t; you still sleep together, and have breakfast together, and share every single detail of your day with each other, but somehow it’s different.
It’s mature, a grown-ups thing. You both are grown-ups, and incredible as it is, you start to live as ones.
You go shopping together, and he cooks for you; you try to cook for him too, but you’ve never been much of a chef yourself, so you just put some frozen fish in the oven and wait for the miracle to happen. You drink tea while watching television after dinner, and he passes his fingers through your hair, and you fall asleep in his arms. He takes you to bed and lies next to you, and even when you’re asleep you can feel his warm, steady presence by your side.
You only spend too weeks together before going back to LA, but somehow it feels like you’ve always been living together like this. You don’t even realize you’re started talking about a new, bigger flat until it’s too late.
Truth is, you can wait for years and years, you could even wait for eternity, but it’s never gonna be too late.
Buffy and Xander are confused when you and Oz walk through Giles’ door. Giles himself doesn’t look too comfortable with the unexpected news, but he covers it up by offering you something to drink and to eat, because you must be tired after that long flight.
Buffy looks at you and you know exactly what she’s thinking – explain, now – so you just nod imperceptibly and give her a reassuring smile. Xander is not that subtle, of course, but well, he’s Xander, so he just breaks the ice with a stupid joke, asks Oz when the hell did he come back and hugs you both because even Oz is one of his older friends after all.
Dawn is surprised. She’s heard so much about Oz, she felt like being there because of all the fake memories and stuff, but she’s never met him before. She’s fascinated by him, by all the stories he has to tell, and just sits there quietly and listens to him for what could be hours while you catch up with the original gang.
Giles looks older every day, but he’s still Giles. He handles you over some books almost immediately, asks about your new job and then about your magic, his favourite subject. You tell him everything – about the university, the classes, your student, about how damn beautiful Scotland is and so much more – and he looks dreamy while he listens. You reckon he must miss his home country, same way you miss yours, and your words can somehow bring him back to the limpid lakes and cold breeze. Before you leave LA he confesses you he’s going to go back to England, he feels it’s time, and you don’t try to lie and ask him to stop with such nonsense. You just hug him tight, and you hope you’ll meet again at least once more.
Buffy fills you in about the slaying, and the boys. Apparently she’s met this nice guy – who’s in F.B.I., because she’s never gonna get a normal one – and they’re hitting it great; she likes him a lot and you can see in her eyes that she’s truly, madly, deeply in love with him. She deserves it, and you’re so happy you can’t stop hugging her and telling her how much you love her.
Xander doesn’t have a girlfriend, but he looks really good – except for the eye, but that’s something you all learned to deal with a long time ago. He’s in charge of his own life, and now he’s a writer; he writes children books that tell the story of this amazing heroine who fights the forces of evil, accompanied by her two best friends and her sort of teacher, who’s more a father figure to her than a real teacher. His first book just got published and he tells you he was gonna send you a copy, but then again you were going to fly back to California, so he decided to wait. Plus, the expedition cost were kinda expensive, and he’s not that rich. Yet.
The three weeks you spend in LA are not remotely enough, but then again, a lifetime wouldn’t be enough to catch up with the best friends you’ve ever had, and ever will. You try to threaten them to come and visit you in Glasgow, tell them how much they would love it, and they promise – swear – they’re gonna make it, sooner or later. You really hope for a sooner, because you can’t stand that you’re going to be apart again.
But the times comes, and you and Oz have to leave. Scotland is waiting, and you’ve got to go back to university.
When it’s time to go, you hug Buffy and Xander so tight you almost hurt them. Buffy tries to hide a small but perfectly visible tear, Xander doesn’t give a damn and openly cries while he says goodbye. Dawn and Giles look sad, they hug you and wish you good luck and everything, and it feels like your heart is breaking in a million of tiny little pieces, like the knot in your throat is too tight to make you breathe.
Oz gently squeezes your hand and you hold on to him as if he were the only thing to help you avoiding to fall apart at the moment. Somehow, he is.
So you say goodbye to your friends, one last time, and try to think that you’ll be together again soon. They’ll come and visit, you will have a great time; who knows, maybe you could spend Thanksgiving together, or Christmas, or New Year’s.
When you get on the plane that will take you back to your new life, Oz doesn’t let go of your hand. He just sits there next to you, and holds you gently, aware of how huge is the pain you’re feeling right now. He’s always been like that, he’s always been able to help you even without saying a word; him being there is the only thing you’ve ever needed, and that’s a fact.
It’s been only few years since Oz came back to you, still it feels like you’ve spent your whole life together.
You left the apartment few months after you both came back from Los Angeles and moved in a house, a proper house in a residential area, on two floors and with a garden on the back. Oz found it on the website, and you loved it so much you rented it immediately.
Oz found a job in a shop that sells musical instruments and stuff, specialized in electronic and acoustic guitars. He loves it so much he decided to buy it, since the previous owner was gonna retire. It was a shame, Oz said, and the shop was going so great; plus, Mr O’Neill liked Oz a lot, and thought that the passage was an awesome deal.
Buffy, Dawn and Xander finally came to visit, a couple of years back; they complained a lot about the horrible weather (they were so lucky, they came during summertime and the air wasn’t as freezing as it usually is in winter... you didn’t have the heart to tell them, of course), acted like tourists and walked a lot. One day you and Oz took them in a road trip to Inverness (which they didn’t like, but you can’t blame them... that place is so grey) and the most famous Loch Ness (which they loved, and kept on calling ‘Loch Ness lake’ even though you explained more than once that the words ‘Loch Ness’ themselves mean Lake of Ness).
You went pub crawling and they loved it; the pubs in Scotland (or in all the United Kingdom, for what matters) are so nice and characteristic, so typical with their wooden walls and warm environment. And they loved your new place so much, all the pictures of you guys everywhere, every single piece of furniture, your chimney and the guest room (Buffy gave you the look which you decided to ignore, because it wasn’t the time to talk about babies and stuff, thanks a lot).
Oh, you’ve had so much fun! They didn’t stay long, but it was intense anyway, and when they left you felt a bit empty again, just once more.
Then the house was quiet again, and even if you missed the chaos Xander and the girls brought, well, you didn’t really mind the quiet too much.
Oz tells you he loves you, every day, and when he does your heart skips a beat and your legs feel like jelly, and isn’t this the real happiness maybe? After all you’ve been through you got your life back and you’re gonna live it; for Tara, for everyone who hasn’t been so lucky.
You and Oz wake up together every single day, you fall asleep together, you talk, and take walks, and do the stupidest things together, and it feels good.
And when one day he does a not-proposal thing, well, it’s just as it has to be. He doesn’t give you a ring to show all of your friends, he doesn’t ask you to walk down an aisle which is a symbol of everything you don’t believe in; he tells you that he loves you, and there’s this big promise hidden in his eyes and you know, you just know, it’s gonna be forever.
So you don’t say the big ‘yes’, you don’t fall on your knees and cry your eyes out. You kiss him with a promise of your own, you kiss him and you mean it, more than anything in your life.
You kiss him, enchant the candles to lit and float in mid-air, and you tell him you’re gonna have to make space in the guest room, for someone’s on his way.