Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Oz/Willow, Oz/Bayarmaa
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe DC3: Applaud
Word Count: 1,257
Date Written: 10 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
Even after all this time, he still dreamed of her some nights. Oz sat, watching the sun sink below the far, west horizon and knowing that it was just beginning to come over the east side of Sunnydale. He wondered if she was still there, but he thought that she’d probably be there until the day she died, as much as he didn’t like to think so forlornly where his cherished Willow was concerned. She wasn’t a quitter, though, even if she had quit him. She was a fighter, and as long as she could contribute to the war against Evil with her magic or even just her moral support, she would be there in Sunnydale, still fighting the good fight alongside the Slayer and their other dear friends and allies.
Just like he was still fighting. He hadn’t been able to stay in Sunnydale, not after he’d realized that she would never love him again. The Slayer and company were her friends, not his, so he had ventured out to find his own friends, to make his own allies, and to carve out a piece of the world where he could continue fighting. He had done just that all the way on the opposite side of the world in a place he’d never thought he’d ever see, let alone reside.
He had found a good woman in dire need, and for better or for worse, he had married her and given her someone to give her son a name. In his younger days, he had never thought he’d marry for any reason other than love, but then he had been naive about a lot of things, like thinking that Willow would love him forever. Wolves only mated once in their lifetime, and she had been his one. It was his own fault for having left her only to discover the truth -- that he could never love another -- after she had already found another.
He sighed, dipped his head into his hands, and ran his palms over his troubled face. This ending was what he deserved, if he even deserved that much goodness left in his life. Bayarmaa deserved better too, just as Willow had deserved better, but he couldn’t do better. The best he could offer her was his name and his unyielding support. She couldn’t love him any way, he thought. Her mate, Keldan’s true father, had died fighting Evil. He’d saved Bayarmaa and their unborn child from Werewolves who had wanted to force them to be evil, but he had given his life to do so. His wife could no more love him, Oz reflected, than he could love her, so in the end, he supposed they were equals.
She wouldn’t care if she knew he was still dreaming of Willow. She might even try to get him to go after her, as she had in the past, but he knew it would do no good. Willow loved another now. She had given her heart to a woman and claimed to be gay now, something he knew she could never be. No woman could have ever loved him the way she had and only love women. She was bisexual; he knew and accepted that truth even if she did not.
He wondered what she was doing now. She was probably still up, her adrenaline still fueled from the night’s battles, but she’d be retiring soon. He wondered if she ever dreamed of him as his thoughts turned back to his dream. He had been playing his guitar on a stage somewhere and singing that new song he’s been working on when someone in the darkened studio had started to applaud. The lights had snapped on, and there she had been, as beautiful and radiant as ever. There was a goodness in Willow’s soul that had always shined through, making her even more gloriously beautiful than her own physical beauty allowed.
She was a truly breathtaking sight, he remembered, his heart aching again, and she had been all smiles looking up at him, just as she had been back in the days when she’d been so thrilled and proud to be able to tell the world that she was dating somebody in a band. He remembered those times with fondness and knew he always would, no matter how painful they also were. That same, giddy delight she’d once exhibited when being with him had shone on her lovely face again. Her eyes had been brightly lit with magic, not the magic that she used to battle Evil but the magic they had shared in their love that she claimed was over but he knew never truly would be, not for him at least.
She had called him by his name. She had boasted about how great he was. He had leapt from the stage, taken her in his arms, and asked her what she was doing there. She had called him silly and told him that, of course, she had come for him. There had been no other girlfriend for her, or boyfriend, and there had been no wife or child for him. There had only been the two of them, and for a time, Oz’s life had been perfect again.
For a time. And then he’d awakened to the harshness of reality and a bed that was cold despite not being empty. He’d slipped from his wife’s side, padded over to the kitchen, drew himself a cup of coffee, and been sitting here ever since. He sipped his coffee as he watched the sun sinking lower. Its golden orange rays reminded him of the way the sun had sparkled on Willow’s red hair. She was every bit as beautiful as the sunset was now. No, actually, he thought, she was more beautiful. She always had been and always would be. Nothing, not even the most powerful ball of fire in the universe, could compare to his Willow, not to her beauty or to her magic and especially not to her love.
He raised his coffee cup in a silent toast, unaware his wife was watching him from their bed, her heart aching for him not because she wanted him to love her but because she knew that he was still heartbroken and always would be. No power on Earth or beyond could heal the broken heart of a wolf who had known, loved, and lost their only mate in the world. She knew that pain as well as Oz did, but at least her love had died. He hadn’t moved on to another of his own gender. Not for the first time, she wondered how Oz coped with the pain and silently swore to do all she could to cheer him.
To Willow, Oz thought, his cup still raised and he himself still completely unaware of his wife’s gaze, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re saving. It was more than just his toast he dedicated to her. His whole life was dedicated to her. Every life he saved, every heroic act he committed, even the fact of taking Bayarmaa to wife, restoring her honor and granting her son honor . . . All of it was dedicated to his Willow. Every good thing he did was in memory of her for she’d done more than just love him. She’d saved him, heart and soul, and now he remained so he could save others and keep making her proud even if she never saw him again. To my Willow. Always.