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Choose Your Author Ficathon - World, Mostly Turning
Even in the darkness, every colour can be found
Choose Your Author Ficathon
My entry for leni_ba’s Choose Your Author Ficathon

The Potential Awards

Title: Wolf’s Bane
Setting: Post-Doomed, BtVS S4
Rating: PG
Word Count: 4,443
Disclaimer: Joss likes fanfic. He said so.
Written for – well, I don’t actually know. Whoever it was, they wanted Oz, Willow, and Buffy; a story set in Season 4 or 5; Oz introspection; no disappearance of Oz; and no Willow/Tara pairing (though friendship was OK).

Also, the following quote (from Spirits White as Lightning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill): "You never know where you're going to be sent, or what you'll have to do. There's no way to train for this job. You can either handle it, or someone comes along pretty quick to replace you."

I’ve never read that book, but I’m guessing the original context of the quote is a little different from how I used it. :-)

Profuse thanks to flurblewig and sunnyd_lite for beta-reading and encouragement.

ETA: Ah. Have seen master list now. Story was for writinggoddess


The night air hung heavily over the dewy grass. Clouds scudded over the face of the full moon, never quite living up to their promise of rain. Light breezes conveyed to him a cornucopia of scents: the sweet, strong fragrance of night-blooming jasmine vines; sulphuric fumes from the highway to the north; the earthy aroma of a newly disturbed grave and its former occupant; the savoury warmth of a rabbit only a few yards away.

It had taken several hours of frenzied effort to free himself from the cage in which he had found himself confined and he was hungry. The wind shifted slightly and he heard the sudden drumming of the rabbit’s paws on the hard ground as it scurried back to its burrow. He didn’t bother giving chase; it would take more than that morsel to sate his appetite. He prowled silently through the headstones, following the faint trail of a deer that had passed this way sometime earlier in the evening.

As he neared the wrought-iron gates at the cemetery’s entrance, approaching footsteps diverted his attention to a different prey. He crouched in the shadow of a marble tomb until his quarry came into view and then sprang, aiming for the throat. In the instant before teeth met flesh, a fierce blow to the head sent him hurtling into the cemetery wall. He struggled to get to his feet, but the double impact of fist and mortar had left him dazed and his legs wouldn’t cooperate. Two figures loomed over him; he snarled, but in his disoriented state was unable to make good on his threat. Through blurred vision, he saw a rock in the hand of the man rapidly descending toward him. He heard more than felt the impact. Then everything faded into darkness.


Oz sat on the bed in his room, his head cradled in his hands. He’d woken in his cage at dawn with a thumping headache, a painful lump behind his ear, and an extended set of bruises down his side. The bruises he was used to – the wolf hated being confined to the cage and spent most of its time hurling itself against the bars trying to get out. He was always stiff and sore during the days after his transformations. The lump was a new twist, though, as was the fact that his wrists and ankles had been bound tightly together with a strong nylon cord. It had taken him nearly an hour to free himself.

Unlocking the door, he’d observed that several bars were bent and appeared to have been newly welded back into place. Shit. Shit. The wolf had gotten out. His hands shook as his fingers clenched in his hair. Escaping the cage was his worst fear – what had happened last night? How had he got back? And who had tied him up?

As Veruca had predicted, he’d begun having dim memories of his hours spent as a wolf. Most of them were vague recollections of rage and frustration at being confined, and pain from throwing himself at the barrier in desperate but usually vain attempts at freedom. Last night’s memories, though, included new feelings: the exhilaration of release and the surge of bloodlust as he searched for prey. He had no idea if his hunt was successful, though he thought he might remember if it had been. Not being able to recall a victim wasn't much comfort, however, and he couldn’t push away the fear that he might have hurt someone – or worse.

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall, frowning. He wasn’t generally given to strong emotions, but he despised the thing that was inside him. The inconvenience of having to lock himself up three nights of every month wasn’t important and he could deal with the aching muscles that came as a result of hours of battering himself against the bars of the cage. All that mattered was that he was still on the right side of those bars when he returned to himself at dawn. He had managed to escape several times in the past few years but, so far, he’d been lucky – Willow or Giles had been able to dart him with the tranquiliser gun or he’d attacked someone who was already dead anyway. Of course, lucky was a relative term. The sedative in the darts left him with a massive hangover the next day and his throat still tightened with nausea at the thought of having eaten most of a newly-raised corpse. But the important thing was that he hadn’t hurt anyone while in his non-human state.

At least, not physically. He hadn’t yet started remembering his werewolf actions when he’d woken up that morning naked and lying next to Veruca, but she’d been eager to fill him in. There was no denying that he was primally and powerfully aroused by her, and the attraction was obviously mutual. Her delight in having found a male counterpart hadn’t lasted, however – she’d sneered at his loyalty to Willow and was disgusted by his resolve not to give into his demon. Thankfully, she and her band were back on the road soon after that night; he hadn’t seen her since and deliberately pushed her out of his mind whenever she entered his thoughts. He could have kept their encounter a secret from Willow, but that hadn’t felt right and in the end he’d confessed. The pain in her eyes had burned him right through to his soul. She had stayed away from him for a few days and he thought he’d lost her forever, but she’d come back to him.

There was a soft knock on his door and he opened his eyes to see Willow and Buffy entering his room wearing matching looks of concern. Willow sat down next to him and reached for his hands.

“Oz, are you alright?”

“I’m fine. A little sore, and my head…” He flinched as her fingers brushed the raw skin on his wrists.

“Buffy told me what happened. You got out of your cage last night and attacked her and Riley while they were on patrol.” Oz felt his chest constrict and his head throbbed as his pulse suddenly accelerated. He tightened his grip on Willow’s hand and looked up at Buffy sharply, dreading the worst.

“No, no, it’s OK,” Willow soothed. “You didn’t bite them. Buffy threw you into a wall and then Riley knocked you out before you could do anything.”

Relief washed over him; the sudden dissipation of the tension that had been building in him since early morning made his head swim. He blinked and mouthed a silent thank you to whatever powers had seen fit to cross his path with the Slayer’s last night.

Buffy looked embarrassed. “Sorry about the… hitting. And the bondage. We had to restrain you while we fixed your cage.”

Oz inspected the abrasions on his wrists. “It’s a small price.” He met Buffy’s eyes. “Seriously, I’m glad I didn’t hurt you.”

“Me too.” She grinned at him. “I don’t think Riley would like me with chest hair.”

A thought struck him. “How did he take it? Knowing that was me?”

Buffy fiddled with her sleeve. “He was a little wigged. He wanted to call for backup, take you in, and get you uncomfortably settled in one of their cells. The Initiative hasn’t had a werewolf before, so at first he didn’t get that you’re just Oz with a few bad fur days.” She shrugged. “He’ll deal.”

She looked at her watch. “I just wanted to make sure you were OK. I’d better get going to class.”

Willow rose from the bed. “I’ll get some bandages for your wrists.”

“Maybe aspirin too?”

Willow nodded and followed Buffy out the door. She reappeared a few moments later armed with gauze, tape, disinfectant, ointment, painkillers, and a glass of water. Oz swallowed a couple of pills and then held his hands out for her. He watched as she set to work sterilising the wounds. A small smile played at the corners of his mouth in spite of the antiseptic's sting.

“You take good care of me.”

“I think it goes both ways.” She smiled back at him. Finishing her ministrations, she set the supplies aside and then snuggled up under his arm. He hugged her close, breathing in her warmth and sweet fragrance. “At least that was the third night, so you don’t have to worry about it for another month.”

Oz grew pensive again.

“That’s the thing, though – I do worry.”

Willow lifted her head from his shoulder and looked up at him.

“A lot. Every time I get out – you know what could happen. I could kill someone. Even if I just bite them, then they become… like me.” His stomach twisted at the thought. “It scares me.”

“I could get the tranquiliser gun from Giles and stay up with you again.”

He shook his head. “You can’t do that every time – it’s too hard on you.”

“Um.” She searched for more ideas. “We could try drugging you before you change so you’d just sleep through the night – but then you’d have three days of feeling crapulent every month.”

Oz grimaced at the thought of all those hangovers. “Not fun. But better than me hurting someone.”

Willow’s face brightened. “Maybe I can find a magic way to help you control it. Tara – you know, from my wicca group – she knows a lot of spells. Her mother was a witch – we might be able to find something in her books. Or in one of Giles’s.”

“Maybe.” He didn’t feel as optimistic as Willow looked.

Willow glanced at the clock. “We’ve got psych class in half an hour – do you feel well enough to go? ‘Cause you know what Professor Walsh is like when you miss class. Buffy might be able to get away with it now that she’s sort of part of the Initiative, but…”

The Initiative. Oz’s mind started to wander and he lost track of the rest of Willow’s sentence. She’d given him an idea. It was kind of radical, and a little scary, but it might work. He looked at Willow and saw that she was waiting for an answer.

“Class. Yeah. We should go.”


Oz was grateful that psychology was the only lecture he had today. His head still ached in spite of the aspirin he’d taken, and every now and then he could hear a faint ringing in his ears. After class, he walked with Willow over to Giles’s house hoping that the fresh air would clear his mind.

Giles jumped up from his seat at the dining room table as they came in and set about making a pot of tea. He seemed delighted to see them, though it hadn’t been long since their last visit. Oz glanced down at the papers Giles had been reading and saw that he’d been making minor annotations to his Watcher’s Diary from three years ago. Oz grinned, amused. Giles probably didn’t have much to do with his time now that he was unemployed and might be feeling nostalgic for a good apocalypse.

His ears began buzzing again as Giles came back into the dining room with the tea and he shook his head, trying to silence them. He sat down at the table, feeling a little dizzy.

“Are you feeling well, Oz? You look a little pale.”

“Buffy’s fist introduced my head to a wall last night.” He rubbed the swollen spot on the side of his head gingerly.

Giles looked confused. Willow launched into a lengthy explanation of the previous night’s events and her need for his books, but was interrupted by a loud groan from the sofa.

“Christ, can’t you people let a fellow rest in peace?” Spike’s head appeared over the cushions as he sat up, scowling at them. “I thought librarians were supposed to like the quiet.”

“Spike.” Willow was surprised to see him. “What are you doing here?”

Giles’s face took on a put-upon expression. “Xander and Anya wanted some time, er, alone last evening, so I’m playing nanny again.”

“It’s no great treat for me either, Rupes. Though having to listen to Xander and demon girl shagging would make my ears bleed.” Spike stood and patted his pockets, pulled a slightly bent cigarette from a crumpled pack, and stopped just short of lighting it at a glare from Giles. “What?” he asked, indignant.

Giles glared harder.

“Oh, fine then,” he said irritably. He tossed the unlit cigarette and lighter in the direction of the coffee table and stalked into the kitchen. The sounds of cupboard doors being yanked open and banging shut began emanating from within.

Giles pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a moment. “He hasn’t stopped whingeing all day.” Oz regarded him and wondered which of the two of them had the bigger headache.

“At any rate, you were saying, Willow?”

“Um, yeah, I wanted to know if I could borrow some of your spellbooks. Tara and I are going to see if we can find a way to help Oz be less threatening on his wolfy nights.”

“Yes, of course. Help yourself.”

Willow seated herself on the floor next to the bookcase and began pulling volumes out. Oz watched Giles add another note to his diary and took a deep breath. This was as good a time as any to bring up the idea he’d been mulling over. He cleared his throat.

“There might be someone else who could help me.”

Giles and Willow looked at him. “The Initiative. I was thinking about asking Professor Walsh if they could do for me what they did for Spike.”

Willow’s eyes widened. “You – you mean give you a chip?”

“Well – yeah.”

Spike suddenly materialised in the dining room with a handful of cookies.

“Are you completely off your nut?” he demanded incredulously, spraying Giles with crumbs. “The Initiative didn’t do anything for me, they did it to me.” He began pacing agitatedly back and forth across the width of the room.

“Bloody hell, you’ve got the perfect excuse to go out and make merry with the mayhem when you get your monthlies, and you want to trade that in for a piece of silicon shoved up your brain and all the migraines you could ask for?” He threw Oz a look of disgust and flung himself into the armchair. “You’re a pious little freakshow, you know that?”

Giles removed his glasses and began cleaning them with his shirttail. “I’m afraid that I must agree with Spike on this one.” Seeing Oz’s startled expression, he hastened to reassure him. “Not about your being pious – or a freakshow – but I do think that it’s a risky idea. We know very little about the Initiative or how they might react to the knowledge that you’re a werewolf.”

“Right – Buffy said Riley was wigged and he knows you,” added Willow. “The others don’t. Plus – brain surgery?” Her voice rose in alarm and her hands worried the hem of her blouse.

“Yes, brain surgery,” Giles continued. “Vampires have supernatural strength and accelerated healing. The danger of permanent damage should something go awry during or after the procedure is probably minimal for them. That may not be the case for werewolves. Additionally, we don’t know that the chip would remain stationary within your brain during your transformations or what effects it might have on your human self.”

Oz stared at his hands. “It’s just – I was lucky that it was Buffy that I ran into last night. I might hurt someone next time.” His fingers clenched into fists and his voice grew rough. “I might kill someone. I don’t think I could live with that.”

Willow’s face softened with sympathy. Spike snorted in disdain and took another bite of cookie. Giles reached over and put his hand on Oz’s fist.

“I understand, Oz. But we’ve got a month before the next full moon to search for a less dangerous solution. Why don’t you let Willow and me look into it and see what we can come up with?”

“I’m sure we can find something with Tara’s help,” Willow pleaded. “Give us a couple of weeks, OK?”

Oz looked at the anxiety and concern on their faces. He trusted them – they would do their best to find another way. He relented.


Willow packed her bag with the books she’d chosen. “We’ll find something, I promise. I’ll call Tara as soon as I get back to my room and we’ll get started tonight.”

As they rose to leave, Xander appeared in the doorway. Giles’s expression of immense relief that he had come to fetch Spike changed quickly to one of consternation as he took in Xander’s appearance. He looked considerably more dishevelled than usual – his striped pizza delivery shirt was stained with something bright blue and sticky, one of the sleeves was half torn off, and his eyebrows looked singed. Spike looked up from his chair and smirked at him.

“Don’t ask.” Xander raised his hands as if to ward off their questions. “Let me just say this: pizza delivery is not as easy as you’d think. No siree. You never know where you’re going to be sent, or what you’ll have to do. There’s no way to train for this job. You can either handle it, or someone comes along pretty quick to replace you.”

Oz grinned and clapped him on the shoulder on the way out. “The world needs more men like you, Xander.”

Xander heaved a dramatic sigh and let his hands fall to his sides. “Don’t I know it.” He gestured to Spike. “C’mon, evil undead. Get your blanket and let’s go home. I need a beer.”


Oz knocked on the door of Willow’s dorm room and let himself in. Willow and Tara looked up at him as he entered. Willow was propped up against the headboard of her bed, while Tara sat cross-legged on the floor. Both surfaces were strewn with leather-bound books, lying open to reveal the mystical secrets recorded on their yellowed, parchment-like pages or closed and stacked in lopsided piles.

“Hey.” Oz nodded at Tara and stepped carefully through the mess to give Willow a kiss on the forehead. Tara greeted him a little nervously, as seemed to be her way. He’d met her a few times before and had noticed that she seemed uncomfortable around men. He liked her generosity and kindness, and suspected that there were hidden depths beneath her shy manner. She and Willow were well on their way to becoming fast friends and he hoped that she’d eventually learn to relax with him.

“Oz.” Willow’s face was alight with eagerness and excitement. She loved learning and researching magic and, from his limited knowledge of the subject, appeared to have a natural talent for it. He grinned at her enthusiasm and sat down in a clear space near the foot of the bed.

“Looks like you’ve been busy.”

“We have. Tara brought over her books, I have Giles’s, and we even found a few in the campus library.” She gestured at her laptop. “I did some searches online, too. Turns out that there’s a lot of stuff out there about werewolves, though it’s kind of hard to tell what’s superstition and what’s real.”

“W-We’ve been cross-referencing b-between sources, though, and I th-think what we’ve learned is pretty reliable.”

“Tara has way more experience with spells than I do and she’s really good at this.”

Tara blushed at Willow’s praise and quickly hid her face in another book. Willow gathered up her scattered notes to show him what they’d learned.

“We actually found a couple of cures for lycanthropy.”

Oz raised his eyebrows. He hadn’t expected this.

“The rituals are kind of big with the squick factor, though. Like this one from the Thumerion Compendium. We’d have to make a potion from wine, powdered silver, wolfsbane, and, um, the blood of the afflicted – that’s you – and one of your family members. Then you’d have to drink it and it, uh, kills you.”

He blinked.

“If everything is done right, you’d resurrect as a non-werewolf.”

Oz looked at her dubiously.

“That one’s a little risky,” Willow admitted, moving on to the next page.


“Then there’s this one - it’s not so bad for you, but you kind of have to kill someone else. Twice, actually. After the first time, you cut out their heart, we perform a ritual with it, and you replace it in the body. A little while later, they rise as a werewolf and you kill them again and you’re cured. Which is grimmer than Grimm, not to mention what we’re trying to avoid, so I don’t think we’ll go there.”

She put that page aside with an expression of distaste.

“We found a third one, which doesn’t require any dying by anybody – probably – but it’s kind of far-fetched. Further-fetched. For the ceremony, you need 25 virgins of marriageable age and there’s a lot of naked dancing under a full moon.” She paused and her brow furrowed as she contemplated the spell and its source. “I think this spell was created by a man…”

Oz suppressed a smile. He couldn’t help himself. Part of what he found so endearing about her was the way she took things – even ridiculous things – so seriously. Tara grinned at his response, saw that he’d noticed, and ducked her head down again.

Willow, oblivious to them both, continued scanning the remainder of the page. “Oh yeah,” she added as an afterthought, “If it worked? You’d be forever shunned by wolves and dogs, and hated by cats.”

Oz was gazing levelly at her when she looked up.

“So, anyway, after reading all that, we decided that maybe some kind of spell to strengthen your cage would be the better way to go.”

He nodded. “I think that’s wise.” Tara hid another grin.

Willow held up a new sheet of paper.

“We found some herbs – wolfsbane and mistletoe – that act as werewolf repellents and think we can combine them with a protection spell. If we cast the spell just inside the bars of the cage, then it should act like a second wall – you won’t be able to get through it in werewolf form.” She looked at him for approval.

“And there’s no blood involved?”

“No, n-no blood,” Tara answered. “Or any other b-body p-parts. The protection spell is a s-simple one, but it’s powerful. It should work well.”

“And it’s brain surgery-free. We’ll only need to do it once a month, too. It has long-­lasting freshness.” Willow beamed with satisfaction.

“Cool.” Oz reached over and squeezed Willow’s hand. He gave Tara a warm smile. “You guys are great.”


On the evening of the next full moon, Oz entered the crypt where he’d built his cage. He was a little nervous – not only did he have more of an audience than he was used to, but this time he’d be leaving the door open. He set his spare clothes for the morning down in a pile where they’d be out of reach after he transformed and turned to face the others. Willow, Tara, and Giles were conferring over notes and spell components. Buffy leaned the tranquiliser gun against the wall and gave him an encouraging smile.

“It looks very good.” Giles looked up at him and adjusted his glasses. “Quite straightforward, really. With a little instruction, you should be able to cast the spell yourself in the future without any difficulty.” He checked his watch. “We’d better get on with it – the sun will be down soon.”

Tara and Willow followed Oz into the cage. A few feet behind the bars, they sprinkled a powdered mixture of dried mistletoe, wolfsbane, and silver in a semi-circle that stretched from wall to wall. Tara stepped back outside while Willow turned to a page of Latin text. She closed her eyes and concentrated for a few seconds, then read the text aloud three times. The arc on the floor glowed momentarily. Oz looked at her questioningly. She checked her notes a final time.

“I think that’s it.”

Careful not to disturb the curve of powder, she exited the cage and stood with the others. Oz walked forward and extended his hand experimentally over the arc. Nothing happened.

“I d-don’t think you’ll feel anything until you, uh, ch-change.”

“Right.” Oz glanced through the open door of the crypt – the sun had nearly set. He nodded at Buffy. “You ready with that?”

Buffy shouldered the dart gun. “Ready.”

Oz stepped back, gave them a final glance, then turned away and leaned against the wall. He could feel his muscles stretching and tightening as the sun dipped below the horizon. He closed his eyes and tried to relax. The surging sensations became stronger and he hunched forward. His jaw clenched and his skin prickled as the dark force within him swelled and consumed him.

The stone floor was cool beneath his feet and the air was thick with the scent of prey. Opening his eyes, he whirled around, snarling. One of the women watching him gasped, her eyes widening with fright. He saw the open door and charged towards it, salivating in anticipation of the kill. As he neared the door, an intense pain knifed through him and he fell back with a yelp. Confused, he rose to his feet and shook his head. An unpleasant aroma of evergreen tickled his senses and he snorted. He hurled himself at the entryway again and found himself thrown back on his haunches as a second jolt hit him. The woodsy odour itched his nose. He growled and tried different angles of approach, but the invisible barrier withstood his attacks and continued to shock him. Pain seared through his head and, whimpering and trembling, he finally withdrew in defeat to far end of his prison where the smell of the herbs was least strong.

The figures on the other side of the bars relaxed. The smallest one lowered the cylinder that had been pointing at him, while the tallest stepped forward and closed the cage door. He listened to the incomprehensible murmur of their voices and watched as they gathered together the objects that had been scattered on the floor. Three of the four went out into the night. The last one remaining turned to face him and met his eyes with her own. He saw no fear in them. She laid her hand on the bars and spoke a few gentle words. Then she too was gone.

Current Mood: relieved relieved

8 comments or Leave a comment
leni_ba From: leni_ba Date: July 28th, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll have to read it yet but I must say I'm very curious about what you did with the challenge. It's linked from the masterlist
From: writinggoddess Date: July 29th, 2004 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. This was so not what I expected...it was better. And I do love the way you used the quote; in the context of the story it's fro, it's actually used after someone dies and the main character is mourning her, but I liked that you took those same words and made them funny. The characters were dead-on, and this was a piece that flowed very, very well. Good job!
desoto_hia873 From: desoto_hia873 Date: July 29th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for your nice words! I'm glad you liked it. I'm still pretty new at this and get nervous whenever I post a story (this is only my third).

Somehow, I suspected that the quote wasn't originally about pizza delivery, but it just wanted to come out that way. :-)

I had a good time writing this - especially the scene with the werewolf cures. My original thought was to have Oz follow through on asking the Initiative for a chip, but I couldn't do it. He's one of my favourite characters and I just couldn't!

Thanks again.
stars91 From: stars91 Date: July 29th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
You did such a wonderful job with this story! I was really worried that Oz would go behind everyone's back and go to the Initiative for help. I was so glad that he didn't, and allowed Willow and Tara to find a better way! Great suspense there! [at least for me]

The Willow/Oz relationship was sweet, and I loved your Tara! Great Job!
desoto_hia873 From: desoto_hia873 Date: July 29th, 2004 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! It was so sad when Oz left (both times) in Season 4 - I liked keeping him and Willow together.

Is it bad to say I'm glad I had you worried? I did try to have him go to the Initiative, but I just couldn't do that to Oz. Guess I'm too much of a softy. :-)
stars91 From: stars91 Date: July 29th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it bad to say I'm glad I had you worried?

Nope, not at all! That's the point as far as I'm concerned!

Guess I'm too much of a softy. :-)

Yay for me then, because I would have cried if he'd went to the Initiative!!! *g*
sockmonkeyhere From: sockmonkeyhere Date: September 30th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good, this is here as well as at FanFiction.Net, so I'll leave my post in both places.

WONDERFUL story! Your characterizations are just great -- I especially love the dialog and body language descriptions of Tara, and your Willow and Spike are spot-on. You also do such a good job of describing Oz's canine feelings and mindset. Giles' concern about a chip shifting during a werewolf transformation is a well-thought-out touch. And my absolute favorite part is the Spike-Oz interaction. We were cheated out of that on the show, and it's a treat to see it here, and done so authentically.
desoto_hia873 From: desoto_hia873 Date: September 30th, 2005 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
You're so nice - thanks for your kind words. I did actually look up cures for lycanthropy on the net. Some were based in mythology and others came from computer games - I don't think I could have come up with the 25 naked virgins one myself. :-D

Oz is one of my favourite characters - he's just so darn cool. I'm looking forward to more of your fics!
8 comments or Leave a comment