Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: The Crossroads
Author: Ailie
Rating: R
Spoilers: None - pre season one
Summary: What was Oz like as a younger teen?
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN.

The room spun sickeningly as Oz lifted his head from the toilet bowl. Unsure as to whether or not his legs were ready to support his weight, he decided to remain kneeling for the time being, and laid his head gingerly against the cool, white seat. He had spent many a morning in this fashion, driving the porcelain bus. But this time it wasn’t the booze or drugs creating that churning in his stomach …

It was the girl in the next room, naked beneath the motel sheets. The girl whose name he couldn’t even remember.

Slowly, Oz’s mind began to put the puzzle pieces of the previous night back into a coherent picture. First the gig at the Bronze, followed by the party at Devon’s (since his parents were away for the weekend). He had consumed his fair share of cheap beer, then helped himself to the goodie bowl. He only took a few, even congratulated himself on his moderation. But not long after things began to get fuzzy. There were vague recollections of dancing with a brunette, presumably the one asleep in the next room. After that there were no clear images, only sensations. Skin against skin. Frantic kisses, growing tension ending in a white hot explosion. And then, nothing.

Feeling like the Merry-go-Round ride he was trapped on might finally be slowing down, Oz attempted to stand. He succeeded on the second try, first propping himself up against the toilet, then the sink. The mirror above the basin held an interesting reflection, that of a young man 16 going on 60. Large bags hung underneath blood-shot eyes that stared, accusing. He had betrayed his principles, and that girl in the next room.

Oz stood in the shower for almost an hour, scorching hot water turning his skin the same shade of red as his hair. Maybe, if he stood there long enough, he could wash the sex away. The guilt he felt wasn’t of the religious variety, and he’d never planned on waiting until marriage, but he had hoped his first time would be special. Sex wasn’t just a physical act, it was the most amazing way to express love for another human being. And not only could he barely remember the experience, he didn’t even know whom he had shared it with.

"I was beginning to think you’d fallen in and drowned," the Brunette said as Oz emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. She looked somewhat familiar; Oz vaguely recollected seeing her in the audience of the last several Dingoes concerts. A pretty girl, a little older than Oz, but with eyes that seemed to show a lifetime of pain. Oz shrugged into his boxer shorts.

"Just cleanin’ up." He busied himself getting dressed so he wouldn’t have to look her in the face. When he did finally glance over his shoulder, the Brunette was tying a piece of rubber tubing around her arm.

"I got enough to share," she said as the tourniquet snapped against her skin, patting the bed next to her. It was one of those rare moments in life when you not only stand at a crossroad, you realize it. It would have been very easy for Oz to continue down the path he was on; to live the American dream of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. To lose himself completely in that world was a tempting offer.

The other path was uncertainty, so many questions that wouldn’t be answered until he made his choice. Was there a point in trying to go back? After all, he had already made the mistakes. Could he take them back? What would the guys in the band think? And this girl, what was his obligation to her?

"No thanks." Whatever he owed to the Brunette, he also owed something to someone else, a woman he hadn’t even met yet. Somewhere there was a soul mate waiting for him. And that girl deserved a better man than this. Any girl did.

The girl on the bed shrugged. "Whatever." Oz’s heart went out to her as she plunged the needle into her arm, but he knew nothing he could say would change things for her. In the end, it comes down to you - your principles and your decisions. Oz had made his choice. And something told him life would never be the same.