See The Forest
by Scy

The middle of nowhere was the closest Faith hoped to come in figuring out where she'd wandered to.

She breathed in air dry enough for a two liter to be insufficient as dirt rose in clouds around her boots. Hills so densely packed with trees that they looked grassy rose like waves in every direction.

Finding someone from Sunnydale had been several steps past 'surprising.'

While he hadn't been on her mind in anything more than a passing sense, she would have expected Oz to choose someplace closer to home, but his choice did make sense. Less rain, sunlight past the expected hours, and the people were fewer. He could sleep outdoors and not worry that he was going to be stumbled over by some wayward backpacker.

Coaxing a maybe-ally out of his position in the undergrowth was not something she could claim to be an expert at. Normally she was the reason people retreated.

Oz had been an easygoing guy who could howl at the moon with more than 'a little feeling.'

Now he looked like an extreme version of those models who got their photos taken while dressed up like 'wilderness beauties'. Oz didn't just look like he subscribed to the magazine, but that he was the original trendsetter.

His hair was longer than she remembered it being, though it had been tugged out of his face with twine and what looked like beads made out of polished bone.

Crouched in the leaves, manners and excuses plainly things of the past, he seemed to have shed civilization and found a skin much more comfortable. He looked like a wild animal; someone who didn't care about a 'new world of orderliness.'

There was no sense of needing to put on a face willing of 'willing to go along with everything boring and right.' He simply didn't care.

Either he'd given up on the rest of the world or found where he belonged.

While Oz's face wasn't that strange in-between blend that she knew was the wolf about to emerge, she could still tell that he wasn't trying to be human. She liked that he moved how a human couldn't, and was even happier that he didn't try and hide it.

"It's hotter on this side of the mountains."

Her arms were a little pinker than she thought was normal. "Yeah, I guessed that." She picked at the collar of her tank top and wished fervently for air conditioning.

"It's not so bad in the shade," Oz invited, and she moved to sit next to him under the trees.

>From somewhere in the undergrowth Oz produced a thermos and handed it over. "I got it at the general store a few miles down the road."

"Mmm" nicely summed up her appreciation without going on about it.

Even better than the water's chill was the way Oz was sitting close enough for her to feel the fur that ran down his limbs.

Her mama had talked about fur on skin like it was transcendence for the flesh. The woman wouldn't have been alt to appreciate the slide of muscle under that soft coat. Not without Slayer sense and a belly crawl out of her bottle. Still, it was one of those experiences Faith wished she could share.

She didn't kid herself into thinking that Oz was looking to hook up permanently. Had he suggested it she would have only considered it for a few seconds. That didn't mean it didn't feel good to be around someone who'd had blood in his mouth and not gone directly for a glass of water. Sure, he might have felt guilty later, but he'd savored the taste.

If the boys got to have a dog of their own, then she figured it was okay for her to have a werewolf. For a little while.


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