Oz's return to the house was accompanied by a remarkable lack of fanfare. He took the room next to Wesley's and decided to work in the shop a few days a week and the bar on the weekends. The now purple haired werewolf had been there less then a week when all hell broke loose. Almost literally. A group of corporate morons with delusions of their own competence attempted to open a hellmouth in Baton Rouge. There was much fighting, alot of biting, tons of spells, and about three garbage bags full or ruined clothes when all was said and done. After all that, Oz's change of address just didn't seem like that big a deal.
He made a place for himself just as they all had, and for a while he gave off the appearance of being just fine. But his new housemates were experts at spotting emotional storms brewing on the horizons. They'd all had too many of their own not to recognize someone else's. The final straw came in the middle of his second month in New Orleans.
It was an average Tuesday. Xander didn't have to work, so when the sun went down he and Spike joined Wes and Oz at the shop. They still couldn't think of a name for it, but the lack of one wasn't hurting business. Under Wesley's expert management and knowledge of the best items to keep in stock, the shop was fast becoming "the" occult supplier in New Orleans. With Xander getting first pick of any supplies he needed.
Wes was doing the books at his desk just to the left and slightly behind the counter. Xander was haggling with a fellow practitioner over the price of fresh mugwort, guaranteed to have been gathered by virgins during a full moon. Spike was sitting on the counter memorizing a spell to turn certain types of demons into harmless household pets. And Oz was studying a book about different species of were-creatures, everything from werewolves to werehamsters. He was focused on the page in front of him when the phone rang, so much so that he didn't recognize the voice until they stopped speaking.
"Magic shop. What do you need?"
"Um,...I need a Roran stone. To hold a Roran demon in. Not that demons are real or anything....do you have one?"
Oz only knew he dropped the phone when he saw Wes pick it up. He couldn't breathe. Willow was on the phone. Willow had called him. He had to talk to her. He couldn't move. He tried to move. He fell. But he didn't fall. Spike caught him. Spike picked him up and carried him to the back office. Spike laid him down on the couch and got him a shot of scotch. Spike sat with him until Xander came in. And then Xander and Spike sat with him. And he still couldn't move. They'd get the phone for him. They were his friends, they'd help him talk to her. He tried to tell them. He couldn't talk. He couldn't move. He couldn't talk.
And then Wesley was there and Spike and Xander were kneeling on the floor while Wes sat next to him. And then he could move. But he didn't go to the phone. He went to Wesley. He burrowed into the other man's arms. And Wes' arms came around him and started stroking his hair. And Wes was murmuring soft words about being safe and being with friends. And the wolf told him that it was true. And then he could talk. But he didn't talk. He sobbed. And he wailed. And he cried. And he screamed. And then he just whimpered because his voice was gone.
And Wesley was still there. And Spike and Xander were still kneeling in front of the couch. And they were holding each other and leaning against Wesley's leg. And it looked they'd been crying too. And Oz didn't want to look at Wes' face, cause he was sure he would be crying. And he didn't want to see Wes cry. The older man had been so nice to him. And he missed that. He'd forgotten how good it was to have someone be nice to you just because they were your friend and they wanted to be. And then he was crying again. But Xander and Spike were still in front of him. And Wes was still holding him. And somehow it didn't seem so very important that he talk to Willow. Somehow, she was seeming less important everyday.