Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: Time Out of Time
Author: Buddy
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Set in Season three with references to Lover’s Walk and Gingerbread.
Summary: Oz, Xander, Angst
Disclaimer: The characters in this story remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox and related production companies. This is purely for entertainment; I make no monies from it.
Author's Note: Big shout outs and many, many thanks for the helpful suggestions, comments and corrections from my wonderful beta readers Stir_of_echoes, Rune and Spikeyvamp. Any remaining mistakes are mine.


Prologue

Relief left him abruptly and the world tilted on its axis. He was puzzled that his mouth remembered why exactly they had needed to find the two of them even though his brain seized up. For a long time the pain didn’t reach a crescendo or ebb away; it just stayed there like a solid thing, unmoved by either falls or impaling. Weighing his heart down and paralysing his train of thought except for the litany that escaped paralysis the moment he got home.

“What the fuck do I do with this? Help me, help me, help me, help me …”

The tears when they came didn’t bring back the relief.

~*~

Chapter One

Daniel ‘Oz’ Osbourne had learned at an early age that something can come along that is so perfect; there is no way you’ll be allowed to keep it. Yet the day he’d clapped his eyes on Willow Rosenberg he’d ignored the heartache that he knew would inevitably follow and gave in to his yearning.

Perfect was still perfect, even if it was only for a day.

Crawling through the ceiling vent in front of Xander, the thought carried no less weight. Now he just had to find it again and he couldn’t do that if she died.

He knew you couldn’t always tell how this perfection would be snatched away from you but sometimes, sometimes, it flashed before you in big neon letters. He knew this because this time they had spelled, Xander Harris.

The fact that Xander was currently behind him, spouting Xanderisms to fill the silence as they shimmied forward, didn’t bring forth the wolf that bayed at the moon. Cool wasn’t Oz’s second name, it was his nature and he couldn’t allow the beast to take over and kill Willow’s chances; to kill his and Willow’s chances.

He was an anthropologist by nature but he didn’t just study people, he tasted them; he breathed in their colours and wore their palette on the inside. The timbre of their voices translated as guitar cords for his latest composition and he sought replicas of their scent to fill his home.

Buffy smelled like sunshine and death, an odd combination that Oz doubted the others were privy to; except for Angel who smelled a lot like vintage wine and antique books and yet still managed to defy exact replication.

Cordelia couldn’t mask her own sexy musk even with expensive perfume, and Oz freely admitted to himself that Giles in all his freshly shaved cologne-splashed glory, could make his cock twitch and bring back fond memories of middle school locker rooms and curious fumbling, that was more about experimentation than real passion.

Xander always smelled of arousal and clean cotton and Oz still had a worn shirt of his that he kept in the closet. It was badly torn and Xander had gone home in one of Oz’s post-battle; he’d looked ridiculous to Oz but Cordelia had eyed the bare patch of skin between shirt bottom and jeans appreciatively and blushed when she caught Oz noticing.

Willow just smelled of … pureness, and even now, when it should be tainted, she still smelt the same.

It seemed fitting to Oz that she could still present the perfect lie, as though her body couldn’t believe her deceit any more than he could. They were together again but the hollow hadn’t left his chest. A diminished Willow concentrated on trying to right the wrong, not so much an attempt to mend the heart she knew she had broken, as much as a desperate need to restore order to the chaos. She attempted to pick up the pieces of their relationship and glue them back together so swiftly many wouldn’t realise it had been broken, unless they looked for the cracks and Oz knew they would both always see the cracks.

Once he’d dismissed the aesthetic - Xander was simply brown all over if you only checked the surface - he could start searching for what it was that Willow loved, needed, so much that she was able to forget him for traitorous minutes to reach for it.

He guessed that falling through the ceiling constituted a bonding thing. Only done for Willow, Buffy and Amy’s sake and although their reasons were different for each of them, it was a moment of solidarity. The two of them, versus the Dark Side of the Force. It didn’t reveal what he was looking for but it he hoped it would facilitate his ability to find it.

Xander hid his essence well. He covered it with apparently innocuous quips about himself, remarks about the girls that walked the lines edging sexism, outright comedy, and an easy friendliness that denied the need for the armour that society had crafted and built especially for teenage boys.

Oz knew that you could only truly see Xander if you were looking for him and it was easy to let him slip below your radar even if you were supposed to be paying attention; Oz had and look where it had left him.

He possessed disarming honesty and vulnerability, and insight that came from only those who listened with their heart and head as well as their ears. Oz could relate to some extent but herein lay unconditional love or the closest thing he’d ever come to it. For the first time in his life he coveted.

Whilst getting the job done they had apparently slipped past the awkwardness and back into the camaraderie that comes from being the only two teenage boys on the squad. Xander’s relief with the new situation was tragic in its sincerity and Oz almost felt guilty.

Almost.

That part of Willow that Oz couldn’t fill was inside Xander and if Oz couldn’t possess it maybe he could do more than just press his hands against the glass that held it; maybe he could find a way in, he’d smash it if he had to.

Xander crawled behind Oz and tried to kid himself that everything was the way it had always been. That Oz still thought Xander was ok and he didn’t mind hanging and spreading a little street cred. It wasn’t that he hadn’t considered Oz or Cordelia; it was just that restraining the lustful urges newly tied up with Willow would have been akin to turning his face to the shadows after finding the light.

It was his eureka moment. His answer to Pi. Admittedly it was a quiet moment without fanfair and trumpets and way too late. They’d missed their moment … Xander had missed their moment. If they were bread the two of them, it had simply taken them too long to rise. He smiled sadly; they were bread. They filled a hole inside each other that yearned for comfort and dependability and what they offered one another was the kind of dough that stuck to your ribs. It was nourishing and hard to do without and he still didn’t really know for sure how it had turned into cake.

Willow’s crush had been as big a part of their friendship as A Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the movie guessing game. He’d taken it for granted and it had blended into the background so seamlessly he’d only remembered it was there when her attention was suddenly diverted by Oz. And the irony of it was that was what had made her so attractive. Another guy sought her, the blinkers were lifted and he could see girl parts.

All the things that he had always loved about her were still there. The incessant babbling that could make him appear taciturn. The adorable hats and jumpers that somehow always made her a laughing stock with the Cordettes and too alternative for the geeks. Her fierce loyalty to her friends and her schoolgirl crush on Giles. Her willingness to try new things despite the fact she had been ridiculed for most of her life for being different, and her acceptance of every unsavoury aspect of his character, from his inability to know when to shut up to the fact he could be an asshole when he couldn’t get his own way.

There was so much more than that and now she had allure.

This was his life; how many other guys his age tried to work out the complications of it on the way to save the women folk? He made a comment to Oz who tossed him an easy grin but he knew that if Buffy or Willow had heard it he’d have a dead arm immediately and a shin bruise by morning. It wasn’t as though he even meant it but sometimes he just couldn’t stop his mouth opening and the shit falling out.

None of it stopped the misery he was feeling but he’d learned to live with it like you would a nagging toothache that flares up over the weekend. Sometimes it would catch him unawares, when it hit him how badly he messed up and how it was his own fault. It wasn’t as if he and Willow were ever going to go steady and mostly it was rotten luck that they had been found out when the affair was over before it had really even began. Both of them had already considered the outcome of their actions and yeah, they could blame Spike for their final indiscretion but all he’d done was provide the setting and a near death experience. It was dangerous, exciting and greedy and he was lucky that Cordelia was the only one who had withdrawn her friendship.

~*~

Chapter Two

When it was over Willow and Buffy left with a confused Joyce and a severely altered Amy. Cordy whined at Giles and told him he owed her a ride home and Oz and Xander stared at one another both of them hoping for a where-to next, just for different reasons.

“That was satisfying in a Buffy whupped the demon’s ass kinda way.” Xander managed finally.

“It’s good to know we had a hand in that.”

“Yes, we fell through the ceiling with style; they never see it coming, gets ’em every time. Wanna grab a beer?”

“Beer’s good.”

“Except they won’t serve us at the Bronze.”

“Good point. I have beer at Devon’s place. Unless Devon drank it all, in which case I have vodka.”

They walked in the direction of Devon’s shared digs, their easy gait at odds with the fact it was dark and therefore vamp time and the fact they’d rarely been alone and out of danger since Spike had kidnapped Xander and Willow.

“How is Devon?”

Oz stopped for a minute and looked at Xander with a puzzled frown creasing his eyebrows.

“Devon’s … the same. And you would have no idea what that is.”

Xander laughed uneasily. “ True but I didn’t think we should swap Willow stories.” He winced and clenched his fists. “And that’s really not going to help. Can we just forget I spoke?”

“Good idea.”

“So this is fun. In an uncomfortable I have no idea what to say next kinda way.”

Oz looked at him again and smiled.

“Gotta admire a guy who’s not afraid to state the obvious. I notice Cordelia was in hurry to get away.”

Xander would have glared but the tenuous bonds of their friendship were probably only able to sustain a self-deprecating quip.

“And the admiration is mutual. It’s no big deal, she just hates me and can’t bear to be in my company any longer than she has to.”

Ok and maybe a little sarcasm.

“I get it; things have reached a low point.”

“And you are the king of understatement. But there is movement, even if it’s to a lower place.”

“Really? How low?”

Xander grinned, suddenly remembering why he’d always liked Oz. “It depends on the position but I think I could get down to a Chihuahua.”

Oz laughed, not a chuckle or a snicker but a lung expanding guffaw and Xander wondered if he’d ever heard it before. He was still trying to make his mind up when they arrived.

“There’s no one home.”

“I have a key. Sometimes it’s easier to crash here when Dingo’s have played. The band’s playing away; I couldn’t go because there’s a wolf moon coming up.”

“How d’you explain that one?”

Oz shrugged. “The truth.”

Xander blinked. “Interesting approach …” He faltered when his nerve left him. Chats about truth and integrity were still something to avoid with anyone, especially Oz.

The place was a comfortable mess when they walked in the front door. Clothes were tossed over the sofa and the arms of the chairs and CD’s and videos scattered in random patterns across the floor. Absent drums, guitars and microphones had left vacant spaces around the lounge room like pieces missing from a jigsaw puzzle and only the posters taped carelessly to the walls prevented an echo when Oz spoke.

“Pull up a pew or take your pick of the sounds.”

He nodded over towards the CD player and the CD tower in the corner next to it and disappeared into what Xander assumed was the kitchen.

When Oz came back Xander was on his knees with his head to one side, peering at the cover spines with the tip of his tongue poking through his teeth. His shirt was too big for him, most of his clothes were, and the collar jutted away from his neck exposing the vulnerable concave at the apex of his throat and shoulders. Oz wondered if Willow had nuzzled there or if she’d brazenly licked up it before pressing her tongue against his pulse point. Xander turned towards him and his face fell.

“Oz? You ok man?”

“I’m good. Here.”

Oz handed him a beer and swigged his own, tilting the bottle up quickly enough for foam to spill down the outside when he’d finished drinking from it. He felt the heavy gaze of questioning eyes dropped on his down-turned face and for once in his adult life it was an effort to school his features.

“Maybe I should go.” Xander looked wary and more than a little miserable.

Oz’s eyebrow shot upwards and he suddenly felt irritated that they’d been reduced to this. They might not have been the closest of friends before but they’d had an easy rapport cemented by time served on the Hellmouth. It occurred to him he hadn’t only lost Willow.

“If you want to but there’s no need, really.”

Xander watched his face for a few seconds to see if there were any more signs of the look he’d just surprised onto Oz’s face. He felt uneasy about the predatory gleam he’d caught in his eyes and wished he knew just how close they were to the full moon; he didn’t want to ask. Oz turned away and walked over to the CD tower. He pulled a compilation of Bronze regulars out and as soon as the first track started up Xander visibly relaxed.

Oz sat on the floor in front of the sofa and Xander crashed in the armchair opposite him.

“So Oz, how do the Osbournes cope with a baby werewolf in the family?”

“Cousin Jordy? Not so much a baby any more and not an Osbourne. After I’d talked to Giles about the wolf he went and talked to my Mom’s sister for me but she pretty much already had it sussed.”

“Did you go with him?” Oz shook his head and Xander grinned. “I bet he took his books.”

“I think she liked his ‘only a wolf for three days a month speech’. And the novelty of talking to a British guy who appears to have stepped out of ‘Stereotype Weekly’.”

Oz smiled at the memory and it prevented the automatic scrunching up of Xander’s shoulders at the thought of all the honesty in Oz’s life.

“So how wild are the parties here and do I get an invite to the next one?”

He let his shoulders drop and mould into the soft cushions behind him and straightened his legs out in front. He realised he hadn’t drunk any of his beer yet, a fact he should correct immediately simply because of the novelty of having beer.

“Pretty wild. You should come; Devon’s a horse’s ass and usually disappears upstairs with the first groupie who can put their lipstick on straight but the rest of us. Party.”

“Does Willow?” Xander broke off abruptly and ran his hand down the thigh of his jeans to get rid of the condensation that had soaked his palm.

“Not usually,” Oz said slowly, his eyes narrowed. “Are you hungry? I think we have chips.”

“Oz …”

Oz flinched inwardly; he knew what was coming and wanted to kick himself because he hadn’t realised it would lead to this. His gut wrenched at the recollection of all the times Willow had rehashed it just so she could keep saying sorry.

“Can we just talk about it and clear the air?” Xander said looking terrified.

Damn, here was an olive branch. A misguided effort to redress the balance but Oz admired his guts.

It didn’t stop the pain or the ache of loss but it enlightened him. Xander Harris was only human, a decent guy who made mistakes just like everybody else.

Xander regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth, not because he’d lost his nerve but because he saw the misery on Oz’s face. It was barely perceptible, just a downward involuntary twitch at the corner of his mouth but it spoke volumes.

Xander put his bottle down and stood up uncertainly. Only ten seconds had passed at most but Oz didn’t look as though he could answer. Xander had the sudden urge to bolt for the door but then Oz stood up too.

“It won’t help. It doesn’t matter anyway, it’s in the past.” The lie burned his insides and unexpected rage clouded his vision.

Xander moved towards him and raised his hand as though he could pull magical answers from thin air.

“I’m sorry. I know it doesn’t help much but I am sorry. Sorry that I screwed things up and hurt people that I care about. That it’s put a strain on everyone’s friendship and made Cordelia hate me. I didn’t actually see Willow until it was too late for us and now I find honesty that you don’t want to hear. I’m sorry I ruined everything.”

Oz closed the distance between them and Xander braced himself for a punch. So when Oz pressed his lips roughly against his they fell slack with surprise. He stepped back and he looked so stunned that Oz laughed. There it was again, two Oz laughs in one night. It must be a terrible nightmare he’d wake from at any minute.

“What’re you doin’?” He blurted.

Oz reached up to cup the side of Xander’s face and pulled him towards him. He kissed him again and for a moment all-possible protestations died in Xander’s mouth and a sense of weirdness held him rooted to the spot. He didn’t kiss him back, merely stood there in stupefied wonder as Oz brutally explored his mouth.

The moment the tip of Oz’s tongue darted inside his mouth was the moment the paralysis broke. He backed up.

“I have to go.”

“Ok.”

Xander turned to leave and Oz grabbed his arm and pulled him back. Suddenly it was the most important thing in the world to him that Xander didn’t leave without responding. He searched his shocked face for a few seconds and then leaned in again.

This time when he kissed him Xander participated, hot lips greedily moving against Oz’s and his head reeling because he was enjoying it. The longer their mouths moved together the more Xander’s knees trembled. Swapping spit with another guy was something he believed would never happen in this lifetime but worse than that he was growing hard and surreal didn’t come close to covering it.

It soon filtered through his hormone-induced haze this wasn’t just any guy he was kissing, and he pulled away again.

“Sorry; I really have to go.”

Oz simply nodded and watched his back as he walked out the door. He didn’t really know what had just happened and he fought the urge to cry.

He couldn’t move apart from the laboured rise and fall of his chest. Panting, he bit back a sob and rubbed the stinging prickles from his eyes. It was a long time after Xander had gone that Oz realised he could taste Willow.

~*~

Chapter Three

Oz walked into the library and nodded at Giles’ reproving ‘hello’ and watch tapping, and locked himself in the book-cage. This was the third and last night of his transformation and he hated to admit it but he wished it would go on a whole lot longer; it was the only respite he’d been getting from his thoughts since he’d kissed Xander.

His avoidance tactics had only brought hurt looks from Willow and worried glances from Buffy; they both thought he was still punishing Willow. He’d only been to school to use the cage and the one time he’d bumped into Xander socially over the last four days he’d made some lame ass excuse and left.

He still couldn’t believe it. It was hardly the first time he’d kissed a guy or a friend but never before was it provoked by anger. True the anger had melted away at the first whiff of arousal and then he’d just wanted to make it not be about all the things that had prompted it in the first place. He hadn’t kissed Willow since. The irony of it all wasn’t lost on him and the urge to bolt, new and not really his style hadn’t truly abated for more than five minutes of waking time.

Mercifully Giles was the only one in the library, until Xander’s apparently aimless arrival, which was timed perfectly with the setting of the sun and the heightening of Oz’s senses. Oz closed his eyes against the rush of adrenaline and pheromones and bit back a snarl whilst he still could.

Then the familiar gnawing sensation he always got in his joints started, a prelude to the twist and elongation that altered his physiology. His skin hummed with anticipation and he pulled his t-shirt over his head in time for the first sprout of course hair across the back of his palms and on his face. He toed off his shoes and pulled his socks off and before he had his fly buttons open he could feel Xander watching him.

Later he wouldn’t remember getting out of his trousers but he took the look of shame and yearning that Xander levelled at him, into the mindless place of the wolf, his body screaming it’s want for him and his heart knowing it had nothing to do with the kill.

~*~

Chapter Four

Xander had sent Willow home at 1.15am and told her he would watch Oz for the rest of the night. They had been researching for a history paper - so far interrupted by Scooby business - that had to be handed in Monday morning. Oz had paced inside the cage, eyeing them both with cruel intelligence, which they had both ignored until Xander had enough written down to fulfil his own meagre academic aspirations and Willow had something resembling a thesis.

“Maybe I should stay. He’s been cranky these last few days and even before a wolf moon he isn’t normally this cranky.”

Xander had opened his mouth to blurt out the terrible truth but some unseen power had taken charge of his vocal cords and what had come out instead sounded a lot like, “He had to miss a couple of gigs. Taking a wolf on the road isn’t good publicity even for Dingoes.”

“I don’t know … you talked to him?” Willow’s face twisted in a mixture of envy, panic and relief. “I’ve hardly seen him … but that’s good right? That he talked to you. Maybe we can just put the whole naughty kissing thing behind us now.”

Xander felt his eye twitch. “We had a b-soda and shot the breeze after Buffy whupped Hansel and Gretel the other night. I haven’t seen him much since but we’re good.”

The lie slid out so smoothly he wondered if this was where his strengths lay, although the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach let him know not to list it on the form during career day.

Miraculously, he held his gaze steady. “You should go home and get some rest, I’ll keep an eye on Oz. Both my eyes; I promise I won’t go to sleep this time. Leave this thing booted up and I’ll surf the net for porn.”

“Not unless you want to risk the wrath of Giles you won’t. You could search for fun though.” She grinned when Xander pulled a face. “I mean other types of fun, of the non-sexy kind.”

“Relax Will, I can entertain myself for … five hours, the snack machine’s full of sugary goodness and I have the latest SFX magazine; ya gotta love UK imports.”

And if he didn’t get to talk to Oz about the other night some time soon he thought his head might explode with unanswered questions. He knew it was cheating to ambush him this way but then none of them appeared to be sticking to the rules much these days.

Willow yawned. She’d already given in although she wasn’t very keen on walking home alone at this hour, even vampires still liked to party on a Friday night. Her parents were away, which made the third time in as many months and she figured she should be used to an empty house by now she still found it creepy.

The doors swung inwards spilling Buffy and Angel into the library.

“Buffy, your timing is spooky in its perfection. Deadboy.”

Angel ignored Xander, his attention drawn by the snarls coming from Oz. He always seemed more riled up when Angel was near and Xander guessed he could sense Angel’s demon and a natural enemy. Buffy bounced over to them, still fired up from patrol.

“We thought we’d check and see if you were still here,” she looked in the direction of the office for signs of movement. “Has Giles gone home?”

“Yes and yes. No Faith?”

Buffy shook her head. “No Faith. No sign of Faith. Want us to walk you home Xander?”

“I’m staying, Will’s beat and I can always lie in tomorrow morning.”

“Ok then. Will?”

“The dart gun …”

“I know. Loaded and behind the counter.”

Willow hastily shoved books away and then after carefully putting her report in another bag, threw a forlorn look in Oz’s direction. “See you tomorrow baby.”

Oz howled.

The snarling had stopped about twenty minutes after they had all left and after staring at Xander long enough to force him from the room in search of snacks, Oz had curled up and gone to sleep. Xander watched him for much of the time, not getting too close but pulled back repeatedly to stare in wonder.

Reading proved to be pointless when he realised he’d read the same paragraph three times and still had no clue what it was about. He pushed thoughts of Oz and strange reactions to the back of his mind and remembered just how much he missed Cordelia. Despite their incessant bickering and her incredible self-involvement she’d let her guard down and allowed him a glimpse of the better person who was waiting to emerge.

The passive role he’d adopted with Cordelia in their immature love-making hadn’t prepared him for how desperately he wanted to bury himself inside Willow. This was one of the things that shamed him the most because the lust had left him the moment they were found out.

It stunned him that Cordelia had taken it so badly because he knew that it wasn’t just about being a laughing stock with the elite of Sunnydale High. He’d stomped on her heart when he’d been one of the few who knew she possessed one. To her, that was his greatest sin.

He admired her despite the many jibes; her sharp tongue mixed with her Jacqueline Kennedy meets Princes Diana wardrobe made his heartache for her because although she was carrying herself with dignity, she’d also grown another shell for her heart.

Not long now until sun up and Xander was losing his nerve. He could leave as soon as Oz started to change back but they couldn’t keep avoiding each other and he didn’t want to. He shook his head for what felt like the hundredth time and tried not to remember the way the other night had turned out.

How would it have turned out if he’d stayed? He’d gotten hard for fuck’s sake, from boy lips and ok, close body proximity, and it might have been Oz’s lips thrashing against his but it was attention and it was warm and demanding. Oz had wanted something from him and it had felt good.

And in the privacy of his room he relived it over and over. Oz had been sprouting a rough crop of stubble across his top lip and on his chin, so different to Cordelia’s dewy complexion and it shouldn’t have been erotic but it had been. It had rasped against Xander’s still smooth skin, skin that he wouldn’t need to shave again for a couple of days and the sheer male smell of him had filled his nostrils.

Xander understood the romance of the rock star gig but he’d always fantasised about the groupies, never the band. How he’d ended up kissing a guy vied for attention with how he continued to look Willow in the eye when he talked to her. He knew he was a hypocrite but she’d kissed him so maybe she didn’t really love Oz.

Yeah Harris, tell it to the Marines.

He closed his eyes and banged his head on the desk. How could he get away from the person he hated most when that person lived inside his skin?

“So d’ya wanna let me out?”

Xander looked up, startled. “Sure, let me get the key.”

~*~

Chapter Five

Oz was pulling his pants on when Xander fished the key from the drawer in the counter top and he was pulling on his t-shirt by the time he walked over to free him.

“Where’s Willow?”

“She went home. Tired but not alone.” Xander unlocked the cage and stepped away.

“See ya.” He turned away, inwardly cursing his own cowardice.

“Xander, wait!” Xander turned back and looked at Oz wearily. “I’ll walk with you.”

“Ok.”

They walked in silence after Oz had turned off the lights and Xander automatically locked the side door. He no longer cared how Snyder would feel if he knew that all of them had a key to the school, it didn’t even raise a smirk. He was too busy watching Oz surreptitiously and marvelling at how mellow he looked, all things considered.

The sun had barely crept over the horizon and there was more shadow than light. The air was chilly and instinctively they both turned their faces to the passing breeze and enjoyed the fragrance that as yet had been undisturbed by car fumes. The automatic timer had switched off the outside lights and the echo of their footfalls across the quad made the school grounds seem more eerie than they ever did at night time. Xander turned to look at Oz, glad for some unfathomable reason that he was here with him instead of anyone else. It felt like a moment to treasure; a time out of time.

“What’s it like? Do you ever remember anything about it?”

“Not really. But after, I always feel like I’ve been to one of those shamans who let you scream out all your rage and help you get in touch with your female side.” His mouth twitched and Xander thought about kissing it again. “I feel refreshed, I slept well.”

“So you won’t be going to bed now, and catching any more zees?”

“I’m wired, so no sleep. What about you?

“Man I’m so tired. I’m just waiting for that tripping sensation you get when you’ve pulled an all-nighter.”

Oz looked at him intently. “Why did you?”

Xander bowed his head for a moment and tried to compose himself. He desperately wished he could keep a hold of that contented feeling and not have to do this.

“Cheap tactics I know but you were avoiding me.” He raised his head. “What the hell happened the other night Oz?”

“I don’t know. I was mad at you and …”

“This is what you do when you get mad? I don’t know what to …”

“No. I never do that. Never before anyway. I can’t explain but it ended up in a different place to where it started and …”

Xander stopped walking and looked at him, his face a mixture of embarrassment and resentful need. “Did you like it?”

“What?”

“You heard me. Did you like it?”

I can’t answer that. I’m sorry if it freaked you out.”

“Of course it freaked me out! Since when did you start kissing guys? With everything that’s happened, it’s too much.”

“What about you?” Oz asked him and Xander started walking again.

“You were there; you know.”

“Heat of the moment?”

“Maybe. Probably.”

Oz pushed him up against the wall and thrust his hand between his legs. Xander was already hard and Oz grabbed his cock firmly. He was used to touching someone taller than him and the adjustments he made were second nature; standing on tiptoe, reaching up and applying pressure from underneath. It made no never mind, he was strong and these things were automatic; he rarely felt less than six feet tall anyway.

He heard Xander groan and that was all the encouragement he needed. He clutched the back of his head and pulled him down, kissing him fiercely and pushing his tongue past his lips, fucking the cavern of his mouth whilst he familiarised himself with the outline of his cock.

Remnant vestiges of the wolf left him feeling possessive, with a need to claim or kill, and he had to fight not to draw blood. Dangerous thinking, one nip and Xander would be condemned, yet a part of him wanted to take him, in that place where human thought didn’t matter and accountability had no jurisdiction.

Instead he kissed him and there was nothing sweet about it; he just fastened his lips onto Xander’s and forgot that it was possible to inhabit time and space without them.

It felt odd to Oz when Xander wound his hands into his hair but only because he wasn’t expecting it. Oz pushed his head closer to them but still managed to keep the kiss going. Xander’s rudely awakened arousal was the most pungent thing he had ever smelled and the need to touch his bare skin was a hurt Oz needed to stop in order to keep on breathing.

Xander wound his arms around Oz’s waist and deliberately slowed the kiss down, letting him know that his participation at least had some coherent thought. He bucked his hips against Oz’s hand and Oz moved it so he could push their erections together, slipping his hands under Xander’s shirt bottom and moaning at the contact. The rub was slow and exciting; Oz had done this before but he knew that Xander hadn’t. Rhythm seemed to find itself and then it was abruptly interrupted when a gang of kids drove by with a Boom Box blaring from the windows.

They broke off, both shaking and Xander slid down the wall and crouched near to the floor because his legs refused to hold him up on their own. “Oh God,” he moaned and Oz crouched down beside him.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Xander gasped, “it’s wrong on many levels. But the worst thing? I like it. ”

“You like it?” Oz grabbed his upper arms. “Is this what it was like with Willow?”

Xander stared at him total shock and then pushed him hard. Xander was up on his feet before Oz had hit the floor and then running so fast he figured that had Coach Marin still been around he would have made the team. It didn’t matter, Oz was faster and he caught him up in seconds.

“Get off me you nut; I don’t want to fight you!”

“Xander, I’m sorry ok?”

“Oh well if you’re sorry,” his voice dripped sarcasm. “Which part are you sorry for? Kissing me and groping me until I can’t see straight or bringing Willow in to it?”

“For bringing Willow into it.”

“Oh.” Xander stopped struggling. “Just so you know, I’ve never kissed anyone that way before.”

“I won’t do it again; it’s just the thought that you did that, felt that with her … I never thought it would matter because of you … I’m sorry, ok?”

“So that’s what it’s all about? Willow? What is this, some twisted idea of revenge?”

Oz’s stomach plummeted and he couldn’t speak.

“Well congratulations, good plan.”

This time when Xander left Oz didn’t try to stop him. He stood up and the only thing that prevented him from leaving town there and then was that at least it was Willow he could still taste.

~*~

Chapter Six

Oz lay with his hands behind his head and stared at the ceiling. Willow had called to see if he wanted to do anything with their day off and his cheeks had burned as soon as he’d heard her voice.

“I thought we could go to the Mall and hang. There’s a few things I need to get for myself and I want to get Buffy’s birthday present.”

His heart pounded hard and he felt sure Willow would hear it. “Ok. Is anyone else going?”

“I haven’t asked anyone … did you want somebody else to come with us?”

“No! No I just wondered.”

“Oz are you ok? If it was a bad night …”

“No, I’ll be there. Gimmee an hour and I’ll pick you up.”

He now had half an hour left to get in the shower and to get over to her house and he couldn’t remember when he’d wanted to do anything less. He felt like a character in a Woody Allen movie, stumbling from one bad experience to the next. Except nothing about it was funny and everything about it made his fingers twitch to grab his bags and run.

His mind hadn’t stopped whirling since he got back from school. Countless times he’d reached for the phone to call Xander but replaced the receiver because he had no idea what to say. It was difficult to marshal his thoughts because they kept taking him off on tangents but he suspected that had been his brain’s way of telling him it wasn’t ready to deal. Since Willow’s call he’d had no choice.

The fact it had happened one time could justifiably be put down to bad reaction, to stress and anger. A mistake. The second time had smacked of desperation; how else could he make that connection? It was stupid to suppose he could ever find missing Willow parts inside Xander. Only Oz thought they were actually missing. They were keepsakes entrenched in history and Xander hadn’t stolen them from him.

Was it inevitable when lives were this deeply entangled that the lines became blurred? Oz didn’t know but he’d always understood why they had done what they did; he just hadn’t realised he couldn’t live with it. And he couldn’t stop thinking about Xander; so needy, so fuckable, so willing.

His shower was quick and rudimentary; he didn’t dare linger or even close his eyes. Even when he remembered the powerful scent of Xander’s arousal he ignored it and hurriedly dressed. Hair colour that was already fading contrasted sharply with the glints of gold on his face but he barely noticed when he glanced in the mirror before grabbing his keys and his coat on his way out the door.

~*~

Chapter Seven

Xander wasn’t really sure how he’d gone from hiding out at Buffy’s house to being dragged out on a pre-birthday Mall trip. Sleep had eluded him; every time he’d closed his eyes the morning’s events replayed in his mind. Driven from his room as he lurched from guilt to lust to humiliation, he’d wondered aimlessly around the house until he’d got under his Mom’s feet and she’d threatened him with chores. He escaped with his wallet and no idea where to go; he could hardly go to Willow’s.

Now his nerves were shot to shit and the cappuccino he was nursing wasn’t helping, nor was Buffy’s current topic of conversation. He pushed a donut around on his plate and avoided her eyes.

“Sorry Xander I guess you’re not the best person to talk to about this but I’m worried about them. Why would Oz avoid her like that? They only just got back together.”

“I don’t know Buffy but oh look, there they are, you can ask him yourself.”

Xander’s heart plummeted and he missed the irritated look Buffy threw at him at his flippant remark, because he couldn’t look away from the haunted look in Oz’s eyes. They widened when he saw Xander and Buffy and he managed to look cornered without moving a muscle.

“Hey Buffy, Hey Xander!” Willow dashed over to them eagerly, relief seeping over her features like a colour wash.

“Hey Will, Hey Oz.” Buffy waved at Oz who stood still for a heartbeat before walking over to them. “Or should I call you Eeyore because she has you loaded up like a donkey?”

“I’ll answer to either, especially if it gets me out of any more shopping.” Oz flicked his eyes in Xander’s direction. “Hey.”

“Oz.” Xander’s mouth dried up and he hastily slurped on his coffee.

Willow dumped her bags in the seat next to Buffy and pulled a sympathetic face at Oz. “Poor baby; sit down, I’ll go and get the mochas. Anybody else want anything?”

Buffy and Xander both shook their heads. Xander’s heart was racing and he stared into his coffee cup not daring to look up as Oz slid into the seat beside him. Buffy questioned Oz about the stores they had visited, obviously fishing for birthday present clues but her chatter faded into the background as Xander tried to quell the sense memories triggered by Oz’s close proximity. His body didn’t echo the mortification he felt and his cock hardened despite the fear that robbed him of speech and made breathing a conscious decision. He jumped, spilling coffee when Oz touched his arm.

“What’s with you today?” Buffy said. “I’ve been talking to you for a minute and a half and you totally zoned out on me. Am I really that boring? Ok, don’t answer that. So, do we all have plans for tonight?”

“Mom and Dad get back later today.” Willow said as she put Oz’s drink in front of him. “It wouldn’t normally curtail my plans but Mom wants to show me stuff,” she rolled her eyes. “Don’t ask. What about you Buffy?”

“Mom, me, pizza, movie. What’s up with that?”

“No date with Angel?”

“No date with Angel; unless you count patrol later as a date.”

“It has certain film noirish qualities to it,” Oz said. “It could be worse, you could be stuck in a soap opera.”

Buffy laughed and then her face fell. “Please tell me you see us as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and not Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini!”

“Sure,” Oz nodded. “Bogey and Bacall; To Have and Have Not, not The Big Sleep.”

Xander shifted uncomfortably in his seat; how could Oz sound so normal? He could still feel the weight of his hand on his arm and he knew Oz had just been trying to get his attention but it had felt intimate, almost possessive.

“What about you Oz? Do you have anything planned for tonight?” Willow asked him a little anxiously.

“Well you’re busy so it depends. Xander, Bronze?”

Xander’s heart thudded and he could feel a flush suffusing his face. “I don’t know,” he said miserably. “I didn’t sleep well.”

“You could catch up on sleep before you go,” Willow said earnestly. “It’s still early.”

“She has a point,” Oz said and Xander looked up at him sharply. “You should come.”

He felt a perverse thrill at Oz’s words until he saw the look of relief that passed between Buffy and Willow and a wave of self-disgust crashed over him. “I dunno; it’s Buffy’s birthday tomorrow. We’ll be doing stuff tomorrow night.”

“What and that means you have to stay home on a Saturday night? How sad is that? Stop being a party poop Xander,” Buffy said with a grin.

There was no way he could get out of it graciously and the part of him that remembered knee trembling kisses didn’t want to. Despite the guilt he felt, an unexpected thrill had been triggered by Oz’s assertion that he should go. He risked a look at his face in time to see his nostrils flaring and his pupils dilating and their eyes locked. Xander tried to drag his eyes away but the whirlpool of sadness, lust and desperation made compelling viewing. He didn’t get it; if this was revenge shouldn’t there be triumph in his eyes?

“Ok, Bronze it is. So if you don’t mind guys, I’m gonna make like a book.”

Oz stood up to let him out and it was an effort for Xander to stop his fingers curling instinctively around Oz’s fingertips as they brushed together on his way by.

“See you at eight,” Oz said close to his ear and Xander muttered a hasty goodbye at Willow and Buffy, and left.

~*~

Chapter Eight

Oz was surprised he was the first one to arrive. He swigged beer that he had no business drinking except for the fact the guy who served him liked the Dingoes. He’d brought one for Xander and if he didn’t arrive soon he was drinking that too. It was quiet for a Saturday night but he doubted it would stay that way for long.

The taste of hops did little to burn away the salt trace of tears and he’d given up rubbing his forehead to dispel the image of Willow’s shattered expression.

“When are you coming back?”

“In no time,” he’d lied, and the defeat in her eyes didn’t quite change to hope before he left.

Oz wasn’t watching the door incessantly but he knew the moment Xander arrived. He looked distracted and scared and utterly fuckable and Oz sat up straight and put his hand up when Xander looked in his direction. Xander’s face seemed to collapse in on itself as he made his way over to him and Oz wished he’d picked somewhere else for them to meet.

Oz slid the beer over to Xander and watched him intently as he hesitated beside the chair next to him.

“Do you know what I like about you?”

“What happened to ‘hi, glad you could make it’?”

“Small talk; not really my thing. Unless it’s a theme.”

Xander sat down without moving the chair away from Oz, and when their knees touched he looked around hastily to see who might be watching them but he didn’t move away. He wasn’t really sure why he was here. Except that he didn’t really believe Oz was a deliberately cruel guy and he couldn’t stop thinking about kissing him. He’d been down this road before and the moment after he’d stepped on it again he’d been waiting for the pile-up; might as well get it out of the way.

“Beer? I’m impressed. Why d’you ask me to come here Oz?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Xander looked puzzled for a moment until the cogs turned and the point clicked home. Confusion lifted from his face as though he’d removed a mask and Oz wanted to kiss him senseless at the transformation. His belly dropped like an elevator and he found himself first mentally unpacking his bags and then putting Xander’s next to them. Neither image fitted.

“It can’t be my new found ability to make everyone miserable so it must be my profound gullibility.”

“Actually it’s the way you love your people. I mean it’s not perfect but ... here’s the thing; your people pretty much my people too. So I know you’ll look after them”

“What are you talking about, look after them? I don’t get it.”

“First we need to talk.”

“What about how you humiliated me? I think we’re even now.”

“I didn’t mean to. The way I see it, we have a situation. It’s messy and way too complicated. So I vote we sort it out.”

Xander tipped his beer and drank deeply. “How? With meaningful conversation?”

Oz ran his hand over Xander’s knee in a soothing gesture and Xander looked at him wild eyed. “Oz?”

“I think we need to leave.”

Xander nodded at him dumbly and followed him outside. Chill early spring air hit them on the way out and Oz shivered. Xander didn’t wait for Oz this time; he just slipped his hand into his and tugged him until he turned to face him. Shakes threatened to overtake him but he ignored them and leaned forward to kiss him. Gentle pressure and a darting tongue tip and he was inside. Simultaneously they ran their hands up one another’s back, pressing each other closer, kissing until their lips and chins were wet and they needed to break off for air.

Oz turned and started to walk away. “Come on.”

“What? Where?”

“The way I see it, we can keep skirting around what happened and beat ourselves up over it. Or we can go and find out what it means. Either way, I’ve a feeling I’m outta here.”

“You’re leaving? What about Willow? You can’t … why are you leaving?”

Oz looked at him and smiled sadly. “You know why.”

“Where will you go?”

“Away. What’s important is distance, it doesn’t really matter where.”

“Does she … have you told Willow?”

Oz nodded and only those who were paying attention would have noticed the tightening of his jaw line and the thinning of his lips. Xander swallowed hard and raised his hand in an attempt to soothe the tension but Oz moved away before he could make the connection.

They walked and they both knew where they were going. In no time had all they cleared the centre of Sunnydale and nearly ran into Faith going into her motel room. They both froze guilty until she disappeared inside and then Oz grabbed Xander’s shirtfront and dragged him into a moving position. His head spun and he knew there would be consequences but nothing mattered now except for his need to be close to Xander.

They stopped along the way, kissing in every available darkened corner, and by the time they finally reached Devon’s house, neither of them were aware of anything except each other. Oz fumbled for the lock and nearly dropped the key when Xander’s hand finally closed over his cock. His elbows trembled and left his arms weakened but he still managed to hold onto him as they pushed their way through the door.

Once inside, clothes were dropped to the floor adding to the jumbled chaos that already existed. CD’s were trampled and cases cracked in their fight to get to the sofa and when they finally reached it, their limbs became awkwardly entangled and the two of them tumbled on to the couch. Oz was surprised when Xander moved over the top of him but simply gave himself up to the satisfaction of their cocks sliding together, Xander’s lips moving against his, and the relief he felt that their naked bodies were finally touching.

Wrapping his legs around Xander’s waist he let him set the pace. Slow rubbing and a gentle slap of Xander’s balls against his own. Xander sucked the hollow of Oz’s throat and trailed his open mouth over his Adam’s apple. Tongue flicking against whiskers he reached his mouth and teased against his bottom lip. Oz opened his mouth and thrust his tongue inside Xander’s, pressing his head closer to him with fingers buried in freshly washed hair.

Xander spurted come over him with a surprised gasp and Oz held him as he came down from his orgasm. Xander hid his face at the side of Oz’s neck and exhaled heavily.

“Too soon; I’m sorry.”

Oz stroked his hair and tightened his legs around his waist. He couldn’t help the clench of his buttocks and the rise of his hips as he sought friction and he groaned when Xander’s hand pushed between them to stroke his oversensitive cock.

“Wait!”

Oz panted through his excitement and tried to shift so he could change positions; sliding his cock in Xander’s come and almost shooting his load from that alone, he awkwardly repositioned them. He rolled Xander’s knees towards his chest, pushed his cock between his ass cheeks, and started sliding it over his anus.

Xander’s eyes rolled up into his head and his mouth fell open and he thought briefly of how unattractive he must look but he was too busy melting into the sofa to care. He felt the slide of Oz’s hands under his armpits and the clasp of them at his shoulders and put his feet down to accommodate his closeness. His eyes flew open in shock when the head of Oz’s cock slipped inside him and he tensed up.

Oz stilled; he hadn’t meant that to happen but he really didn’t want to back out now. Xander lay with sweat-slicked hair falling over his brow and a kind of terrified lust shining in his eyes. Dropping a hard kiss onto Xander’s upturned mouth Oz fought the urge to thrust.

“Just relax; unless you want me to stop.”

Xander exhaled and deliberately unclenched his inner muscles. He slid his hands down Oz’s back to his ass and pushed him, encouraging him to inch his way in. It hurt like hell and he panted for a minute, then slowed his breathing down so he could ride through the pain. Oz kissed him again and Xander’s cock started to harden; he couldn’t believe he was losing his virginity with Oz’s cock buried in his ass.

“Xander?”

Xander answered the pained plea by rocking his hips until Oz was all the way inside. He gasped in pleasure as his prostate was nudged and pressed Oz’s ass down harder.

“What’re you waiting for?” He panted. “Don’t stop now.”

Oz looked at him long and hard and Xander’s answering look was unwavering. Finally, he pressed his cheek against the top of Xander’s chest and started to move.


Xander thought he must surely go to hell for this. In fact there was probably a hand basket waiting outside the front door and he would gladly fit himself inside it afterwards so long as the sensations he was experiencing didn’t stop before he came again. He rocked his hips harder, his arms wrapped tight around Oz’s waist and started to moan a fevered litany.

“Don’t stop, don’t stop. Harder, oh God.”

Oz was drowning in sensory overload. The rapid thud of Xander’s heartbeat filled his ears but he didn’t miss the tiny gasps that accompanied each thrust. Xander’s erection reawakened rapidly, trapped between their bodies, and testosterone filled the air around them and mingled with the smell of spent come. Xander was so pliant beneath him; giving him everything without submission. Oz took it all; the emotion pouring from him was tragic and beautiful and he had to leave Sunnydale to own it.

He didn’t want to stop, couldn’t bear the thought of not having this heat surrounding his cock and the tension squeezing him, sliding along his length, pushing him closer and closer until he couldn’t hold on any more and he was coming, dissolving into liquid pleasure and wondering if this was the best way to die.

Xander clasped his bottom lip between his teeth when he felt Oz let go. As Oz pounded into him, all pretense of control abandoned, the slow roll of climax washed over him again. Before the pleasure had truly left him Xander felt the expected emptiness fill his heart and he wondered how he would ever survive it.

Oz lay on top of him, eyes closed against the tears that threatened to fall and allowed himself a small smile when Xander started to stroke his hair.

“I could come with you.”

“No. Let’s not make it any worse than it already is.”

Xander tightened his other arm around Oz’s waist and swallowed around the huge lump that threatened to choke him.

“Is that even possible?”

“It doesn’t feel like it now.”

“Will you ever come back? No … don’t answer that. I’ll know if you lie and I don’t want to hear the truth.”

“We have the rest of the night; let’s go to bed.”

~*~

Epilogue

Oz got up to go before it was even time for the Bronze to close. Xander lay sleeping on his belly and Oz was glad that for now at least he knew some peace. He turned away before it became impossible to do so and left to try and find some peace of his own.

He slid the van door open and climbed inside, his body so weighed down with sadness he was surprised he could lift his leg. After turning the ignition on he took a last look out of the windscreen at the house. He was leaving and he doubted he’d ever come back. He pulled out of the drive with a heavy heart and the taste of cotton and arousal on his lips.