“And what, exactly, do you do?”
Oz raised an eyebrow.
“Willow claims to help with the more magical aspects of a Slayer’s life. Xander helps with research, although he seems primarily looking for ways to get around it, and fetches refreshments. Cordelia. . .” Wesley blushed delicately, and forced himself to continue. “Cordelia provides a look into the students of this school, warning us of dangers they may face.”
“Yeah, vertical strips, wasn’t it? Gotta get Buffy on that.”
Wes flushed even harder but didn’t back down. Had to give it to the guy, really. He was arrogant, yeah, but Oz was pretty sure that was more of a cover than an extension of deep self-confidence. And he knew how hard it was to crack into the group that surrounded Buffy without trying to shove someone out. Yet here he was, three weeks later, still trying. Interesting.
“I know that you are dating Willow Rosenberg and that you have. . . ties with the supernatural as well.”
Oz went very still. Not that he’d been a bundle of nerves before, really. The library was empty, Buffy leading a charge to find some amulet or something. Didn’t matter. Willow requested they meet afterwards, though, so here he was. “You could say that.”
“I assume you have adequate measures set up, when the full moon rises three days hence?”
Wes was obviously probing, and Oz really wanted to listen to their conversation as an outsider. Wesley used words to fill the silence, relying on the convention and superiority they afforded to deal with his own nervousness. Oz liked silence. He didn’t need to fill it up.
Eventually, Wesley stopped looking expectant. “And those would be?”
Nodding towards the small caged area with the towel tacked to the door seemed answer enough.
“Ah. Is this, then, enough for you to be a member of their. . . little club?”
Oz had to smile at that, the edge of his mouth turning upwards. “Not a club.”
“Yes, well, you do seem to be rather an outsider in all this whirlwind. Rather like Cordelia, although she did have an attachment to Xander, did she not?”
“Cordy makes her own way.”
“Yes, she does,” Wesley said, almost reverently, lost in his own mind for a moment. There was an audible click when he returned to the conversation. “Everyone seems to have made themselves a place here, whirlwind or not. I doubt you would be afford the trust the Slayer obviously has for you, if you were merely the paramour of Ms. Rosenberg. And there is your supernatural aspect to consider, but that should make you a threat or. . .a victim, I suppose, not someone they trust to aid them.”
Oz didn’t say anything for a long time, thinking about that. Yes, his introduction to the world of Slayerdom had been because of Willow, cemented with the wolf. And there was the whole focus Will had on Buffy, which was sometimes kinda odd, but mostly just Willow throwing herself into something she enjoyed and was probably a little addicted to. Oz liked that, because it was part of Willow.
But it wasn’t just Willow that drew him in everyday, and that wasn’t why they accepted him so easily.
“Comic-relief guy,” he said. It wasn’t the right answer, but it was an answer.
“I believe that particular function goes to Xander. And I’m certain you know that.”
The words were supposed to be tart, but mostly they just sounded wistful. Wes’s questions didn’t take a genius to figure out, which Oz was when it came to standardized tests, and he’d known this was coming for a while. He was the only one not actively disliking the new Watcher’s presence, which made him the most accessible.
Oz didn’t like lying to people. It always meant trouble later on, but really, it was that he didn’t like having to think up excuses or covers for things. So Oz told the truth. “I’m the solid guy.”
“Like an anchor. Or a rock. I don’t research or fight, but I see things they don’t. I’m the outsider.”
“So you don’t see yourself as part of their group? Yet you trust them, obviously, and they have learned to trust you.”
Oz could smell it before he heard it, a faint whiff of what he’d been waiting for. Getting to his feet, he inhaled a little more: she was excited and happy. That was good. But Wes was still waiting for an answer.
“You don’t have to live in the den, to be pack.”
Then the door opened and Willow bounced her way into his arms, eyes flashing with glee. “Oz! Oh, Oz, you should have been there! Buffy had to deal with this vampire thing that came out of no where and Giles was off helping Xander, so I had to get the amulet! All by myself! I used a spell, too, it was just a little thing so I levitated it right off of the rock and look!” She pointed towards the gold-and-amber pendent flashing in Buffy’s hand. “Isn’t it cool?”
Oz gave her a kiss and kept an arm around her while he surveyed the other returning members of their group. “Everybody okay?”
Three confirmations met his question. Oz shook his head. “Xander? Check the arm, man.”
“Huh? Oh. Ow?”
Oz went to find the antiseptic.