Veruca is bored. Been waiting all night for something to show up. The highway out of Sunnydale is usually easy pickings - frightened humans, running away from the scourge of the Master.
But tonight has been slow and that makes her irritable; she views the approaching headlights with uncharacteristic impatience. The van slows and pulls into the parking lot, like a hundred cars before it, and she thinks it's just gonna be another one of those nights. Knife between the ribs, grab the wallet and the car keys, drive into the desert, and dump the body.
And then everything changes.
First sight of him hits her like a punch to the stomach. This is the one, the wolf inside her growls, this is the one you've been waiting for. And she knows it, she knows it from the first moment she sees him step out the van, blood-shot eyes and all. Not just some quick fuck, no, because this one's a keeper and she wants him.
This boy of her's is another Sunnydale refugee. Damaged goods - she likes that. He stinks of sorrow and someone else's blood is smeared on the sleeve of his t-shirt. He is so small, so perfectly formed. The brief sparkle of nailpolish when he runs his fingers through his hair makes her want to eat him up.
He goes into the diner. He is a lodestone. She is drawn out of the shadows and follows, blood thrumming in her ears and every bone in her body saying 'take him down, take him out, take him with you.' Wolves are not meant to hunt alone.
She licks her lips with a wet red tongue and steps inside.
* * *
He doesn't seem to mind when she sits down at his table.
"Hey. I'm Oz."
This is how the story begins.
* * *
Skip the ordering of the waffles. Skip the inferior coffee and the bitchy waitress. Skip forward half an hour, and press play again when Veruca says she wants to fuck him.
"I want to fuck you," Veruca says, very seriously, leaning forward and putting her hand over his own, pinning it down to the table with a gentle but implacable touch.
He looks into her eyes, he looks her up and down. Sweetheart face and babygirl pout, paintstick around her eyes and oh-so low-slung jeans. Bad-ass girl from a middle-class family, Oz assumes.
He shrugs and agrees. "Sure, just let me finish my coffee."
Then he tells himself not to feel guilty. Anything is better than this numbness.
* * *
The van is suffocatingly hot. The windows have steamed over and the radio blares eighties pop songs. Veruca lies back, one arm behind her head, and sucks a cigarette with her dirty pink mouth. Arches her back, comfortably, the itch gone right out of her system.
But she's not done yet. The night's work isn't over. This is the one, remember?
So Veruca yawns and says casually, "So... who's this Larry?"
Oz twists uncomfortably beside her (did I say that?). "No one," he says roughly. "He's dead."
"Is that why you're running? Is that why you're scared?"
"I never said that."
She laughs. Throws the cigarette stub out the window and trails her finger down his smooth white chest. "You don't have to tell me. I can smell it on you. The fear..."
He has musician's hands. The calluses on his fingertips made red imprints where they pressed into her. He closes these hands over her's and answers, softly, "Yes."
She hisses it back to him, cruelly. "Yes..."
And he cries. Curls up in her arms and weeps for Larry, for Sunnydale, for himself. Veruca just holds him, rocks him back and forth, smiling all the while at how things are going. "It's okay, baby, it's okay." She licks at his neck, whispers in his ear. "Me, I'm not scared of anything. I can show you how. I can make it stop. I can make you strong."
"How?" he sobs, ashamed at breaking down for the first time in his life. "How?" Wanting to know. Wanting to hear that everything's gonna be okay. He would sell his soul to stop crying.
"You want that? You want to be like me?"
"Yes, I want it!"
Oh, yes - and Veruca could just wriggle out of her skin with delight, and inside the wolf howls in triumph with her. Been lonely for so long but not any more, not ever again, because this is the one, and this whole night, her whole life, has been building up to this moment. The feeling she's got right now is so hot it could burn her up from the insides.
"Sure thing, baby."
And so Veruca bites him, quickly, tenderly, on the ear.
"Don't fret," she whispers. "Tomorrow night, you and I are going hunting."