by Abbie



Cold. Rain. Gray. That's what Xander had been expecting. Not this unseasonal heatwave of lush air mixed with greens so bright they hurt. Musty tea smells--like Giles, only older--comfort Xander at night when he returns from chasing
reports of werewolf attacks. The scent curls up next to him on the sofa as he watches old reruns with commercials he doesn't understand.

The search--futile, so far. But Xander doesn't give up. Won't.

Couldn't save Anya or Uncle Rory or. . .but he can find Oz. Save him if he must.

It's what they always do. Isn't it?


Tracking with trackers, down dusty trails, through high grass--cliched but true.

Xander has listened to enough stories from the victims to know that the werewolf they're hunting isn't Oz. Probably. Maybe.

Okay, so it's more hope than knowing.

The hunters, though they might understand helping a friend, spit at the mention of the beast they follow, makes signs with their hands, kiss amulets. Crazy rich white man wants the creature alive for more magic--that they get. Xander chooses the team carefully when they corner their prey, yet--

Dead, but not Oz. Xander doesn't cry, but still, he mourns.

The States

Humid subways. Cool pine forests. Open western skies. Xander is getting closer. If only Oz would stop. Talk with him. Deny the first reports.

Sees him in his dreams, smoke-white skin slipping across his palms and away. Crypt-scented breath freezing him, but does it come from Oz? Or the others who have always haunted him?

Familiar ocean finally. Then desert-tree stick men. Gulches and valleys and good ol' boys. Cajun and gulf.

Back again.

Murder's hard to hide in these streets. Knows, really knows, that the monster isn't Oz. Still. Wants to see him. Talk with him. Just say--


And All the Places In Between

Eventually, they can laugh. Grin at Xander's startled exclamation, Oz's blank stare. Share tales of travels without recriminations. Wonder at miscommunications and missing each other--though the time lost still pinches Xander's gut.

They spend lazy Sunday afternoons tracking past adventures on each other's body. Some are obvious--the gorge of Xander's eye, the bite marks decorating Oz's calf. Others have more hidden trails, only discovered with sleepy post-sex sighs or tornado-winds of anger.

New adventures beckon sometimes. Xander worries when Oz goes alone, but Oz always finds his way back, the map to his heart already memorzied, charted out.





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