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Zero Hour
by Gypsy Gray

The knock on the door wasn't unexpected. Oz looked like he'd just lost his best friend. In away he had. It was Xander who gathered the boy close and held him when he started crying. His sobs were silent, but they shook his whole body. To Xander he seemed impossibly thin and frail. The brunette was afraid the other boy was going to cry himself sick when Spike came over with a wet cloth and glass of Doyle's best Irish whiskey.

The two lover's got the sobbing boy to lay down on the couch, while the cloth soothed his stinging eyes and the whiskey eased his nerves. Xander was glad he had come to their garage apartment first, he wasn't sure if Oz could've dealt with breaking down like this in front of the others. He wasn't even sure why he thought it was okay for Oz to lose it in front of him and Spike, he just knew it was. Call it warlock's intuition.

"It's not true. Please tell me it's not true."

"I'm sorry Oz. Giles found the traces of the spell."


"I'm sorry."

"You got no reason to be sorry. You never did. I loved her Xander."

"I know. I think she loves you, she just..."

"Loves Buffy more? But why this? Why would she do this to you? To me?"

"I don't know. But she won't do it again. Giles says the oracles broke the last of her spell. I'm going to put protections and wards on both of us. Hell, I'm gonna put'em on everybody. Why take chances?"

"Will you put one on Dev?"


"He's..we were..."


"No, but we could've been. But then Willow..."

"I know. Rest for awhile, they'll be here soon."

Oz was asleep in moments. Spike gathered his lover into his arms and held him while he fought his own tears. He'd promised himself he wasn't going to shed anymore over Buffy or Willow. But these tears were for Oz and after awhile he couldn't hold them in anymore. 

There time was up. Buffy and Willow would be in L.A. within two hours. Doyle's network of friends and bookies had found them in a hotel just outside of the city. Oz had taken the van when he left them. As soon as they woke and found him gone...they were only a cab ride away. 

Everything was ready. They could only wait now. Angel had tried to get Doyle and Cordelia to stay out of it. Giles had done the same thing with Ethan. They both got told where to go. Cordelia, Doyle, and Ethan had agreed to stay in the background, though. The half-demon and aspiring actress would help Ethan work a binding spell on Willow, to put her out of action. Spike had made it clear that his only intent was to protect Xander. If Angel and Giles couldn't occupy Buffy, Spike was going to kill first and worry about saving all Slayer kind later. Now with Oz here, he could help the others with Buffy.

It might seem like overkill, but the soldier in Xander said that Buffy was too dangerous to take any chances. She was a slayer with an out of control demon in her. Her usual strength and speed would be magnified. The hyena in Xander said that letting Oz go full wolf on her was a damn good idea, and the best bet for keeping his mate safe. He'd found the incantation that would allow Oz to change at will and remain in complete control of his mind while studying with Ethan. The prep work was already done. Now, he just had to tell Oz about it.

But for now, he wrapped his arms tighter around Spike and thanked the Powers for sending the blonde to him. No matter what the future held, he would always be grateful for his lover. He had been blessed.