All characters in this chapter are borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
. Some dialogue from ‘Phases’, by Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali.Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life42. New Directions
‘Larry, hi! I’ve been looking for you. I just wanted to say—’
Buffy paused and looked around to see whether they might be overheard, then lowered her voice a little.
‘—thanks for your help. You know, helping Nancy get that—thing—we needed for that—job.’
Larry looked around too. Then he turned to Buffy, but his eyes dropped to the ground.
‘Just, uh, glad I could be, well, y’know, useful. I mean, what you’re all doing—it’s important, right?’
Buffy was about to move on to the subject she really wanted to raise with Larry but without warning he interrupted her in a sudden gush.
‘I should apologise to you for the way I treated you the first time we met.’
‘What?’ Buffy almost flinched with surprise. She struggled to recall what Larry might be talking about.
‘Nancy’s been on my case about it.’ Then Larry’s face changed as he understood Buffy’s puzzlement. ‘Don’t you remember? At the Bronze? I, uh—well, I said some things …’
‘Oh, that! So you tried to hit on me. I grant you, the way you did it was, uh, well …’
‘Okay, I was trying to find a less—harsh—way of saying it, but if you choose that word I won’t argue with it. But that’s a long time ago, and I like to think I’m a big enough person to get past it now. Anyway, I figure I pretty much evened the score already, on Halloween.’
‘If you mean you accept my apology’—Larry looked up at Buffy—‘then thanks.’ He looked down again. ‘Being on the football team, I have to kinda make an impression on my buddies. I’ve got a reputation around here. If people thought I was acting, well, differently …’
‘I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason, Larry, but I’ve got no beef with you right now. You helped score a win for the good guys, and I just thought I should tell you that.’
Larry looked more directly at Buffy. ‘Then thanks for that. I mean, what you’re doing—it’s more important than football games. Of course the team could be more successful too if our death rate wasn’t so high, so—there’s that …’
‘Well, I don’t care so much about football nowadays—’
‘—I know, you’ve got more important things on your mind—’
‘—but I don’t want anybody killed by vampires and demons, and that includes jocks, even ones who can be a bit disgusting sometimes.’
Larry nodded. ‘So, we’re good, then?’
‘Yeah, but there was something else—see, Larry, I know Nancy told you about how I have to work in secret as’—she took another check that nobody could overhear them—‘the Slayer, and I know we can trust you on that, but the thing is, it’s kind of, well, evolved, from secret to sorta secret-ish. There’s more than a few people who know about me and the things I do, which I have to say was totally not part of the plan when I first got to Sunnydale, but we talk about it sometimes and maybe it’s something that’s supposed to be. And that means, I dunno, but maybe if you know it means you’re supposed
to know. I’ve got a lot of help from people the way I got help from you, so maybe you’ll be able to help out again some time. Not by fighting vampires, that’s way dangerous for anybody without special abilities, but I’ve got other kinds of help from other people, often, so …’
‘Sure, if there’s anything I can do, you only gotta ask.’
‘Just so you know, if you can forgive me for whaling on you on Halloween—’
‘You had to do that.’
‘—well, anyway, nobody has any problems with having you around. I mean’, Buffy stammered on, ‘if, y’know, maybe you were worrying about that at all, or something. Also, if you see or hear about anything going on around Sunnydale that seems like it might be, well, a job for the Slayer—’
Larry nodded. ‘I’ll be sure to pass it on.’ He stood up. ‘I have to get to class now.’
Buffy stood up too. ‘Yeah, so do I. But I’ll see you tomorrow at that self-defence thing, right? Not that the kind of self-defence they’ll be teaching us will help much with the kind of things you run into around Sunnydale, but I guess every little helps.’***
‘Aunt Maureen? Hey, it’s me. Um, what? Yeah, uh, I think it was healing nicely … Yeah, Marcie is a nice girl … No, I think it’s been going fine … The reason I called, I wanted to ask you something. Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh. What? No, no reason. Um … Thanks. Yeah, love to Uncle Ken.’
Oz ended the call and stared at the phone for an instant before starting another one. He had to stop again when he couldn’t remember the whole number, but he found the place where he’d written it down and finished dialling, thinking about how much he should say when Rupert answered.
‘Rupert? It’s Oz. Hope I’m not interrupting anything, but there’s something I kinda need to find out in a hurry. As Buffy’s Watcher, what’s your position on werewolves?’— ‘Werewolves? Fascinating, one of the classics. Vampires, as you know, are demonic spirits inhabiting the bodies and the memories of humans they have killed, but I believe werewolves are different, that they retain the essence of humanity and not merely the form of it. While in the transformed state, I believe they may be dangerous, but I would not be recommending that Buffy simply hunt them down and slay them, at least not without a good deal more information. I’m going by memory here, the topic is sure to be thoroughly covered in my books.’
‘Then I think perhaps you might wanna start looking through those books.’ Oz hesitated for a moment before going on. ‘There’s something I need to tell you about.’
Oz could hear the change in Rupert’s voice. — ‘Are there werewolves in Sunnydale? Have you seen something?’
‘I might know what I’m talking about once you’ve checked what your books have to say’, Oz said. ‘Can you meet me at the library?’— ‘Now? Can’t it wait? J-Jenny and I, we’re, she’s here with me, uh—’
‘I’m asking, Rupert.’— ‘Yes. Yes, you are. Very well, I can meet you there in half an hour.’
‘Bring Jenny if you like. If she wants to come’, said Oz. ‘She might know something.’***
‘You’re right, Rupert. I see it the same way. Oz doesn’t say much, but what he says counts.’
‘He hasn’t had a great deal of involvement with, uh, our, uh—’
‘With the team?’
Rupert cleared his throat. ‘Yes, uh, but I believe he is solidly reliable when called on.’
Jenny smiled slightly. ‘Not if your definition of “reliable” includes routinely turning up to scheduled classes, not in my experience of him as his teacher. But what he does do, he does right.’
‘Well, here he is now, so let’s hope he’s ready to open up to us about whatever it is that’s troubling him, if it is indeed as serious as we suspect.’
‘Rupert, Jenny, thanks. Sorry to drag you out here. Inside?’
Oz seemed, if possible, even more sparing of communication than usual, but when they were seated around the table in the library he said, ‘My cousin Jordy, saw him recently, just got his grown-up teeth in, Aunt Maureen and Uncle Ken didn’t mention at the time that he’s a werewolf.’
Jenny leaned forward and put her hand on Oz’s. ‘Don’t worry. Rupert and I have been talking and we’re sure that a werewolf situation is something that can be handled—I mean, there’s no reason why anything has to happen to your cousin. He should be—just fine, I’m sure.’
‘I was wondering about—transmission.’
‘Of course it’s important that he doesn’t bite anybody. You said your aunt and uncle know he’s a werewolf?”
Oz nodded. ‘So anybody he bites—becomes a werewolf too? No fix, or cure?’
Rupert spoke cautiously. ‘You mentioned his teeth before. Has he already bitten you? Oz, we can deal with this situation, but you have to tell us everything, for your own sake. Tomorrow night is the full moon, which means that’s when you—or your cousin Jordy, or anybody else he’s bitten—that’s when the werewolf transformation takes effect.’
‘Tomorrow night? You’re sure about that?’
‘It was one of the first things I checked after your phone call. Tomorrow night is the full moon, that was simple to establish, and it’s generally understood that the full moon triggers the werewolf transformation. Of course, I haven’t completed my research and there are a number of reference works I still need to consult on various aspects of the subject, but the starting point is reasonably clear.’
Oz nodded again. ‘What happened tonight was that I’d just driven Marcie home, she got out of the van and started walking to her front door, and then—she changed.’
‘Marcie?’ said Jenny. ‘She was bitten by your cousin?’
‘She’s somewhere out there now’, asked Rupert, ‘in Sunnydale, in werewolf form?’
‘The first thing she did was run at the van, but when she couldn’t get into it she ran off. I tried to drive after her, but she headed away from the street and I lost her.’
‘Evidently the transformation isn’t restricted to the night of the full moon’, Rupert said absently.
‘That’s hardly our most important concern, Rupert.’ As Rupert apologised, Jenny turned back to Oz. ‘If Marcie in werewolf form is guided by her instincts, do you have any idea where those might take her?’
‘Instincts? Hers or a wolf’s?’
‘An excellent question’, Rupert said. ‘Clearly we need more information.’
‘Meanwhile Marcie’s out there’, said Oz.
‘In her werewolf form’, Jenny said, ‘she’s safer than she would be as a human.’ She locked eyes with Oz. ‘If you went chasing after her, without some kind of plan, you’d just be putting yourself in danger to no purpose.’
Rupert put a supportive hand on Jenny’s shoulder. ‘Jenny’s right, Oz. I am confident that Marcie will resume her human form at sunrise. We can gather more information now and then in the morning we can help her to make a plan.’
‘Okay, let’s crack the books.’
Rupert started to suggest that it wasn’t necessary for Oz to help, but then thought better of it.
Jenny said, ‘Is Buffy patrolling tonight? Perhaps she should. I’ll give her a call and then go online.’
‘Oh, uh …’—Oz hesitated for a moment—‘If Buffy’s out around sunrise—and Marcie changes back then—well, when she, y’know, changed, she seemed to more or less lose most of her clothes …’
‘I’ll ask Buffy to take something with her in case they need to cover up.’
Buffy had made a lucky guess that wolf instincts might take Marcie somewhere deep in among the trees. The sun had just come up, and Marcie was lying stretched out asleep on the grass. Buffy decided it was a good thing that she had found Marcie before anybody else.
She cleared her throat.
‘Uh, Marcie?’ Buffy lifted up the bundle of clothes she’d brought, holding it out in Marcie’s direction and half-turning her head away. ‘Marcie?’ she said again, more loudly.
Marcie stirred and muttered in her sleep.
‘I brought you some clothes’, Buffy said.
Marcie roused and lifted her head.
‘Do you want me to just put these down here and give you a moment to get dressed?’
‘Okay’, said Buffy, setting the clothes down and keeping her eyes turned away, ‘I’ll just turn my back until you say.’
While Marcie was dressing, Buffy said, ‘If you’re looking for an explanation of what’s been happening, we might have one.’
‘Go on’, said Marcie.
‘You met Oz’s little cousin Jordy? and he bit you?’
‘The three of us were just horsing around. It was just a little nip, I didn’t want to make a fuss about it.’
‘Well’, Buffy said, ‘I don’t know why, but Jordy’s Mom and Dad somehow didn’t think it was important to mention to Oz that Jordy’s a werewolf.’
Marcie’s voice was actually less stressed than Buffy would have expected. ‘Sorry to have to break it to you like this, but—’
‘And now I’m a werewolf, is that it? I can expect this kind of thing to keep happening on a regular basis? Okay, I’m dressed now.’
Buffy turned round to face Marcie again. ‘Oz is with Rupert and Jenny right now, trying to find out everything they can. Why don’t we go to them and see if they can fill us in?’***
‘It appears that you can expect to undergo the, uh, transformation not only on the night of the full moon but also on the night before and the night after—three nights a month, in total. Looking on the bright side, or at least the less dark side, we’re confident that there’s no need to worry about other times.’
Marcie nodded slowly at Rupert’s words and then said, ‘And there’s no cure?’
It was Jenny who answered her. ‘So far everything we’ve looked at tells us that. But we will keep looking, everywhere we can. The lore of my people—you know I was already going to question them, about Angel’s curse—my other contacts, we’ll follow up every possibility … I don’t think you want us to give you false hope, though.’
Marcie shook her head, and looked at Oz. He hadn’t said a word since Buffy had brought Marcie in, only put his arms around her.
‘Do you have any idea why your uncle and aunt didn’t mention that Jordy is a werewolf?’
Oz shrugged. ‘Sorry. They should have. Is there anything—?’
Marcie shook her head. ‘Spilt milk’, she said slowly. ‘Water under the bridge. Besides, it seems like Jordy’s okay. I mean, if it were a really huge
problem in his life, I figure it couldn’t have gone unmentioned.’
‘I still feel kinda responsible. Thanks for the way you’re taking it. This is not small.’
‘Oh, I figure that between us we can work out some way for you to make things up to me. Meanwhile, I have no memory whatever of last night, from the time I got out of your van until Buffy woke me up. What did I do all night? Did anything else happen to me?’
Jenny said, ‘There are some news reports that—may be …’
‘Let me see.’ Marcie came round to look at Jenny’s computer screen. ‘Animals mauled and killed. They say wild dog attacks.’
‘I guess’, said Buffy, ‘they wouldn’t be thinking “werewolf”.’
‘Good’, said Oz. ‘Right?’
Marcie nodded in agreement. ‘Yeah, I suppose. But this is supposed to last for three nights, right? So what if I run wild tonight and tomorrow night, mauling more animals?’
‘Well’, said Rupert, ‘we have discussed that. We were thinking that the cage here in the library should be strong enough to hold a werewolf during its transformation.’
‘It wasn’t strong enough to hold that possessed guy when we locked him in there.’
‘True, but Eyghon was a powerful demon. Werewolves are strong, but I doubt their strength is on the same level.’
‘If you’re worried’, said Buffy, ‘we could build a barricade against the cage door the way we did to hold back Eyghon.’
Jenny put a hand on Marcie’s shoulder. ‘We can arrange a roster for people to stay here with you and keep an eye on things. It’s only three nights a month, we can share out the time easily enough between all of us.’
‘And, uh’—Rupert coughed—‘Buffy and I will be on call, for an emergency, with a dart gun loaded with tranquilliser—just in case, you understand, I doubt it will be necessary, but if we have to resort to it, well, it will enable us to, uh, restrain the, the werewolf without, without serious harm, uh, to anybody.’
Marcie gave a slow nod. ‘That sounds like a sensible precaution, I suppose. You know, this is going to take some getting used to, for all of us.’
Buffy was examining the library cage thoughtfully. ‘Speaking of that, there’s another aspect of this plan that could do with some thought—modesty screens.’
Rupert and Jenny didn’t follow her. Buffy addressed her reply to Marcie, not looking at anybody else. ‘See, even if you’re wearing clothes when you, uh, transform, chances are you won’t still have them when you change back. So, if we’ve got somebody here to, uh, keep an eye on the situation, we should probably hang something up to give you some privacy when you need it.’
‘Thanks, Buffy’, said Oz.
Marcie crossed the room to Buffy. ‘Yes, thanks for that, and for looking for me last night.’
Buffy shrugged. ‘Least I could do.’
Marcie looked around the room. ‘Suddenly my life is overset and now it’s taking a new shape almost before I know it. I guess that’s Sunnydale.’***
‘There’s one other thing’, said Oz. ‘Not for bringing up in front of everybody.’
‘You know, when Jordy bit you, he was just—human. But you were still—affected.’
‘And now I’m a werewolf, like Jordy.’ Marcie nodded. ‘I get you. No biting.’ She touched Oz’s shoulder. ‘Of anybody.’