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Passing Through
by Gypsy Gray

The vision slammed into Wesley like a sledgehammer. He'd would've busted his head open on the steps if Spike hadn't caught him. By the time he was able to speak again, he was on the couch cradled against Spike with Xander kneeling beside him wiping his forehead with a cool cloth.

"Oz. Oz is here. He's in danger. A werewolf hunter."

"How close is he?"

"He's at a hotel a few blocks away."

"I'll go. You rest. Spike, get on the net see if you can find anything about hunters in the area."

A brief kiss between the brunette and the vampire and he was gone. Spike kept on rubbing the cloth across Wesley's head and after a few moments he dozed off. When he woke again he could here the clacking of keys in the kitchen. Moving was a slow painful process. By the time he made it to the kitchen Spike had a mug of tea waiting for him. 

"Find anything?"

"Nah, nothing. How's the head?"

"Fine. Except for the ten man construction crew attempting to excavate my cranium."

"That's an improvement. Last time you compared it to a nuclear warhead with a bad attitude."

"True, you'd think after Mardi Gras this wouldn't be so bad."

"A three day hangover after a week long drunk is not the same as this vision thing. Still, you're loads of fun when you're tipsy Wes."

"This from the man who wrestled an alligator in the nude on a dare."

"Yeah, but I didn't strip down to my unmentionables and jump in the middle of a parade."

"No, that was me. It was also me who had to bail you and Xander out when you were arrested for public indecency."

"We were set up."

"You were having sex on a float."

"We were not. It was only a little petting."

"Nude petting."

"That's the best kind."

"This is conversation I never thought I'd here."

The vampire and the psychic found themselves face to face with a confused Oz and Xander. Spike took one look at the frown on his lover's face and gathered him close. Wesley poured Oz a cup of tea and settled back down at the table. Neither man said anything as the couple headed upstairs. When Oz turned to Wesley with a raised eyebrow the other man simply smiled.

"Welcome to New Orleans. What brings you here?"

"Xander said there was a hunter around."

"I know that. Why are you in New Orleans?"

"I left Sunnydale."

"My how your conversational skills have improved."

Another raised eyebrow.

"Please Oz, allow me to get a word in edgewise. It's rude of you to dominate the conversation this way."

An eyebrow, and then a smile, and then...a laugh. A slow chuckle that started low and gained in volume and size until tears were streaming down Oz's cheeks. And then he wasn't laughing anymore, and there was just tears. And after a minute of that Wesley did what Xander had done for him. He gathered Oz into his arms and held him. Leaning against the leg of the kitchen table, cradling the other man against his chest, Wesley could only hope that he would be able to make Oz feel as safe as Xander and Spike had made him feel.

He'd lived here for almost five months now. He had a home, a profitable business, a means of assisting those who needed help and continuing to fight against the forces of evil, and he had a family. Some where in the past few months New Orleans had become the place he belonged, and Spike and Xander had become the people he belonged with. He was happy and secure. Perhaps TPTB had sent Oz here because he too needed a place to belong. Or perhaps he'd done something during the last full moon that was causing his grief. Either way, they would help him. It was what he and his family did. Even if Spike did tend to make most of the bad guys into a snack. 

They sat that way for almost two hours.Finally, Oz was too exhausted to cry anymore. So Wes helped a red faced swollen eyed Oz up to his room. He considered putting the younger man in one of the guest rooms, but it just didn't seem like a good idea to leave him alone. After watching Oz fumble with his clothes for a moment, the Englishman gave up gave up trying to save the werewolf's dignity and simply stripped him down and put him under the covers. After changing into sweats, he filled the pitcher on his nightstand and waved his hand over it while chanting a short phrase. It was a very simple spell, but it would keep the water fresh and cool for up to 24 hours.

Oz managed to sleep for about two hours before he was sitting straight up screaming. In his dreams a lab coated Willow cut out his heart and dissected it for a room full of soldiers. It was the same dream he'd had since leaving Sunnydale the last time. He was afraid of what it meant. Afraid that he wasn't as ok with Willow moving on as he wanted to think he was. He was even more afraid of the fact that he'd forgotten what it felt like to kiss her, and he was terrified that he didn't miss her kisses. He loved Willow, she was everything he'd always told himself he wanted. 

It took awhile for the soft voice murmuring in his ear to register, but when it did it came with strong arms holding him close to a broad chest. He was safe, no one could hurt him, nothing bad would happen to him here, the voice whispered the most wonderful things to him. Promises of being able to sleep the whole night through without fear of not knowing where he was when he woke up. He couldn't stop himself from snuggling into those arms, from turning his ear to be as close to that voice as possible. He drifted into sleep feeling safe for the first time since the last time he'd slept next to Willow, and even then he hadn't been this warm.

Wesley was close to tears himself. He wasn't sure what had happened to Oz, but there were yellowing bruises all over the slim body in his arms. When the younger man had begun begging Willow not to hurt him Wesley wasn't able to stop himself from pulling the other man into his arms. He needed to stop the pain. He'd always been able to live with his own hurts, but he couldn't stand to see someone else suffer.

The ex-watcher's mind drifted back to a conversation he'd had with Xander. It's easier for those that have always been in pain to deal with it, but those who've never felt it before rarely come through it without a great deal of damage being done. Well, not to this young man. Perhaps Oz hadn't lived like he and Xander and Spike had, to his knowledge the werewolf had never been abused in anyway, but he had known pain. He suffered through being cursed with werewolfism, he struggled with trying to control his instincts, and now he was having nightmares about the one person he should be able to trust hurting him. Maybe it wasn't the type of pain that mattered. Maybe all that mattered was that there was pain. If that were the case, Oz was certainly in the right place to recover. Spike and Xander had helped Wesley pull himself together, and he was stronger now then he ever had been. Well, if that was what Oz needed then he would get it. And Wesley would be there to help however he could.

Wesley woke to an empty bed and a note on his nightstand. He showered, shaved, straightened up the bed, and carried the note downstairs to the kitchen. Spike was sprawled on the couch in the dining room, with the double doors open he could look right through to the kitchen where Xander was making pancakes. Learning to cook was the brunette's latest self-appointed task, and after a few fumbling attempts in the beginning he discovered a hidden culinary talent. One Spike and Wesley were happy to take advantage of.

The lovers knew the werewolf was gone. They also knew that he'd spent the night in Wesley's room. Out of respect for their friend no eavesdropping had taken place. But now, they were worried. The former watcher sat at the table not touching his food and gazing forlornly at an opened letter. It wasn't until Spike sat next to him and poured a glass of juice that Wes seemed to become aware of his surroundings. 

"Oz left this. It's addressed to me."

Xander turned off the stove and sat on Wes' other side. If he wanted to be alone to read the letter they would leave the room, but the Englishman had sought them out. They would offer whatever support was needed. Wesley opened the letter. After scanning it for a moment he began to read aloud.

Thank you for your kindness. I'm sorry I cried all over you, but you didn't seem to mind. You didn't ask me what happened, maybe you didn't want to know. You'll probably read this to Xander and Spike. I'm not sure what they'll think, but maybe they'll understand too. 

Xander knows that I left Sunnydale after cheating on Willow. It sounds like a cop out to say that it was the wolf and not me. Maybe Wil's right and that's crap. I locked Veruca in with me, not the wolf. I was watching her sing at the Bronze, I was attracted to her. But I never meant to hurt Willow. 

Apart of me is angry with her. I forgave her and Xander for what happened between them when everything in me told me not to. Yet, she couldn't even give me a chance to make amends for what I did. Then another part of me wants her to forgive me for being an unfaithful ass and take me back. And now, there's a new part of me that isn't really concerned about her at all. I knew that part existed, but it never made my choices for me before. Until now. 

I came to New Orleans for no reason. I was headed for Florida. I have an aunt there I was going to stay with. I really was just passing through. But I'm not sure that's true anymore. Thank Xander and Spike for me. And maybe, you could talk them into giving me a room? I'm going to visit my aunt for awhile. I need to warn her and the rest of the hairy members of my family to stay away from Sunnydale. And then...

Well, you're mumbling in you sleep and I don't want to wake you. So, I'm gone. Thanks for the shoulder and the bed. And...Thanks.
See you in awhile,

There was quiet in the kitchen for a long time. Then Wesley folded the letter and put it in his pocket. The spell was broken and Xander returned to his stove while both the humans ignored the red liquid Spike was pouring on his pancakes. 

"S'pose we'd better get the room next to Wes' ready. Wonder if wolfboy will wanna work at the bar or the store."

"Maybe he'll be your sidekick. Fangman and Wolfboy, protectors of demons and icky things."

"Xander, I believe the appropriate thing to say is "the humanity challenged," I don't imagine calling someone an icky thing would fill them with all that much confidence in you. Although, a vampire and a werewolf working together to battle the forces of evil does sound rather like a comic."

"You two can just sod off. Next thing I know you'll have me in bloody tights."

"Well, now that you mention it..."

"If you are going to start discussing your sex life, I'll take my breakfast to go."

"Ah come on Wes, you know you want to hear all about it."

"Kitten, leave the nice stuffy Englishman alone. You'll damage him."

The teasing continued on after breakfast. It was apart of a typical morning in their home. Each had their own ideas about what it would mean for Oz to come and live with them, but they did what their lives had taught them to. They relied on each other.