by daneorange

And you remember just how, the first time you had to pack - dull box corners against your fingertips and packing away in haste. One after the other, the folders, the books and the picture frames, into the boxes, as if you were trying to fold yourself up and tuck yourself away.

Now, four months and twenty three days later, you're pulling at the bedsheets, taking the curtains down and undressing the pillows on Willow's bed - now that she's not around, not anymore.

Buffy said it was okay for you to do it since she couldn't do it herself.


You looked intently up the staircase upon arriving at the Summers' house - never dared turn your head, you didn't want to see what was waiting in the parlor. Didn't want to know, didn't want to see.

That box you didn't want to pack, sitting there on the living room floor.


"She said you'd be here."

You turn your head, clutching the red blanket to your chest, tense. "She did?" you just ask, blankly. You didn't really want to know, it was just for the utter lack of anything else to say. You knew it when you saw him - the corners of your eyes softening in understanding, accordingly.

Oz just nods, and his eyes say, Can I help? His lips don't move, but in your head his voice is solid, as if he's from room service, and not Willow's ex.

You just shrug, you smile, it is forced but it's all you can afford lately. You hand him a blanket while you reach for yours, and the two of you start folding.

You often wondered how things would be between you and Oz, you were so alike in the sense that you both bothered so little with the words.

And you don't bother at all. You go on in silence - folding here, smoothing there, then tucking some carefully away.


Oz carried the last of Willow's books into the middle of the room, where the box was, as you look on, seated at the edge of the naked bed. "That's it," you mumble after.

He looks over his shoulder, smiling slightly. "Yeah," he just says.

You had many questions - you just wish you had the presence of mind to list them down when you could still remember them. All those things you wanted to know - the things only he saw, the things Willow was before you, before you came. Oz was here before anything else, after all.

And he is here now - standing in the middle of the room, five steps away from where you are, hands folded across his chest, eyes darting everywhere. For some reason, you want to say, there's nothing left now to look at - referring to the walls. There's no more Willow there, you want to point out. We tucked her away, remember?

"I heard her screaming," Oz speaks softly, as if murmuring to himself. "Where were you?"

You had asked yourself the same question, over and over again - and you had blamed yourself enough. "Not here," you just reply. You are not proud of this.

Oz shakes his head slightly, pacing a few steps, approaching the wall beside the door. "Have you seen her?"

You blink. It hasn't crossed your mind, looking - or, at least, not yet. At the back of your head, you consider not even trying to. "I have no plans," you say, firmly, clearing your throat. "Have you?"

He shakes his head again, slower now. "I wanted to remember her my way."

Your way, you think. His way. And you tell yourself, you, too, had your own way of remembering, but... but with all her spells, you suddenly feel like you can never be sure anymore.

You hate the way it feels like all your memories have been constructed.

"I can't remember her right," you catch yourself saying.

And It makes Oz turn his head, obviously surprised. "Excuse me?"

"I said," you clear your throat, keeping your eyes on the floor. "I can't remember her right."

And you couldn't remember - strawberry strands and intense green eyes, marshmallow-scented skin. You couldn't remember - floating pencils, floating roses, floating vendo machines, floating dances, floating yourself. Couldn't remember how she made you fly.

Oz looks at you, and he is asking why, only you don't hear it - but you feel it, nevertheless. He pushes himself off the wall and walks towards you, looking at you with all those questions flashing in his eyes.

How can you not remember?


Her voice fills your head as he leans in to kiss you. There was an apocalypse, that was how Willow began that story, how she lost her virginity to Oz in senior year. The Mayor and the Ascension and Graduation Day...

Oz feels different now - he used to be this feral mystery to you, and you used to wonder silently if he had fangs. Somehow, a part of him still is - a mystery - even as he lowers his lips to your throat, ignoring your cheek.

And the world was ending, Willow said, you remember, the world was ending, but he was all Mr. I'm-not-worried-I'll-be-here- tomorrow... You sit there on the bed, wondering if this is exactly how it all felt like for her, that first time.

His grief tastes like cigarettes - you find out when he drifts, when he puts his mouth onto yours. You pull back when his tongue hits your teeth; it brushes against your lips with a violence that reminded you of full moons.

You do not know how to kiss a man - stubbles against the corners of your lips, rough palms on your arms. Willow had always been soft, always been gentle. Oz just sits beside you, slightly heaving.

I didn't know anything, Willow said. I was very good at Bio, but this... you remember her trailing off, and the memory of the conversation bleeds out of you as Oz moves in and touches you, so tentative.


"She's still on you," he whispers, moving in closer to settle just beneath your earlobe, breathing you in, and you're thinking Does he bite? You chastise yourself silently - for thinking and for shaking and for not being able to stop.

And when he's in front of you, eye to eye, that's when it kicks in - how you can almost see her in there, somewhere, or at least, as someone who used to be there. And he knew everything, Willow said. I looked at him, and I was scared, because I knew he knew what I wanted. And you ask yourself now, does he?

"On me?" you ask back, a similar whisper. He nods, moves his hand and rests it lightly on the hem of your blouse, and then he bites lightly into your neck. Then you think, Yes, he does bite, and you sigh.


He says he can still feel her when you push back against him. "Did she..." he asks. All this time, still tentative - his hands erratic and shaking across your skin.

You're thinking, perhaps this was how, that first time. Did Willow shake as bad as he does now? "Yes, she did," you breathe out in response, nodding slightly. There was a certain way with which he touched you - and it was familiar to the extent that you could actually close your eyes and make-believe it is her with gloves on. Sometimes.

He pauses briefly to look at you, his right hand resting on your lower belly, beneath your jeans, lowered slightly and unzipped. His lips hang just above yours in that awkward fashion that he is on top of you - his frame is small, and you think if you were to astral project right this moment and you were able see yourself as you float just below the ceiling, you'll look like a mother cuddling her child.

But he is no child - he is Willow's teacher. He was here first, and this is all familiar because he was the one who taught Willow how. All of this. His hands, his lips - they taught Willow how.

You gasp as he goes lower - maybe this could be like that first time. "You've got her rhythm," you just whisper.


Oz had strong hands, Willow used to say. Strong indeed that he makes the bed weep, the naked mattress scratching senseless patterns into your bare back as he drives in closer, closer, and you think, This used to be... she used to, did he... do I feel like her? Do I?

Beneath you, through the floor, her box lies in the silence of the parlor.


It is awkward, this reconstruction - you know you were not made for each other, and this is all an accident. But Oz curls into you nevertheless, silently pleading to fit - the both of you just gaps Willow left behind.


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