hermetic- (h(e)r-met'ik), adjective.
1. Completely sealed, especially against the escape or entry of air.
2. Impervious to outside interference or influence: the hermetic
confines of an isolated life.
He lay back on the Indian print bedspread, staring up at the ducts threading across the ceiling. The hum of the computer was muffled by the music coming from his c.d. player. "O, Fortuna" from the opera "Carmina Burana." Loud, crashing, whirls of symphonic noise that blocked out so many things...
"Never let it be said that I'm not eclectic," he murmured to himself. Compact discs of various genres littered the shelf that held his stereo and one of his amps. Along with tubes and bottles of hair dye. Manic Panic, Punky Color, Feria. He had it all. Black, blue, Buffy blond, Willow red, green, purple... A color for every day of the week. Every emotion he didn't broadcast to the world.
But he could still hear them fighting. Hear the dishes breaking in the kitchen. His dad and stepmom never quite cared what they broke. . .or how much it cost. . .or if he could hear them from the basement. Did they even know what they were yelling about this week? Had they even noticed him come in tonight? Kate liked to bitch about *him* a lot. . .demanding that his dad "do something" about the Osborne family freak. The nail-polish-wearing-hair-dyeing-plays-in-a-band-probably-gay-werewolf.
What *did* one do about that? Oz often wondered. He'd used to just lock himself down here and play. . .play until his fingers hurt from clenching around the fretboard and gripping a pick. Not even answering the phone when Devon called just in case Kate suspected Dev' was his lover. And then he'd found his Willow. And Buffy, Giles, Cordelia, and Xander.
With them, Kate turned into nothing. His gutless, whipped dad, too. And getting bitten by Jordy had seemed like a cakewalk.
But now what? *Now* what? Now that he'd lost them? Now that the days of camaraderie and slaying were gone? Cut off. Ended. Dead.
He closed his eyes. Her light woodsy scent hung in the air. . .they'd marked this room. Wolves mated for life. "Whose life?" he demanded, hearing the hollow scratchiness of his own voice over the din of the opera.
Cordelia had died trying to save Xander. . .in love with him still despite all they'd been through. In the end, their dark hair and their blood had blended forever under the Mayor's claws.
Angel and Giles had both sacrificed themselves for their Slayer. Dust and bone, struggling to the very end as the legions of vampires swarmed over the school grounds. As the huge snake demon rose up.
Oz turned to his side, slowly. . .not caring as blood smeared across the cheap imported cotton. He stared into sightless eyes the color of love and smoothed strands of light auburn hair from her forehead. She'd stopped breathing just a few minutes ago. A terrible last sigh as her ravaged lungs quit. It didn't matter that her chest was gaping. . .that he could see inside her. He'd always been able to see inside of her. "Willow," he whispered, regretful. "Oh, Willow."
His left hand clenched and unclenched over and over. Spasmed like the change was coming. But it didn't. Even with the eclipse, the change hadn't come. And he'd been helpless. The Osborne family freak once more.
It would be so easy. . .he'd brought a sword with him. . .and he could join her in silence. Permanent silence with no occasional witty comments.
Except for one thing.
The c.d. player began to repeat the one programmed track. . .but perhaps his senses were just too good. He could hear over the din.
The huddled form in the corner of the room spoke after what seemed like hours. Blood streaked her pale face like warpaint. No sign of victory in her big green eyes. Just confusion. And mirrored death.
He slowly slid off the bed, crawling to her on his knees. "I'm here," he whispered, pulling her boneless and weak body in between his legs. Wrapping around her and holding on tight even though it made blood leak out between them. Hers *and* his.
"Don't leave me, too, Oz. . ." she pleaded, resting her head on his shoulder. "Not yet."
"I won't. . .I won't."
As he hugged the Slayer close, his eyes drifted over the bottles of dye. Buffy blond. Maybe in a few days. . .when they could stand to wash off the blood. . .he would do her hair.
And maybe not.
There was still the sword.
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