Oz dropped his backpack just inside his bedroom door and switched on the lights, then jumped, startled. "What are you doing here?"

Angel sat up from where he was lying on Oz's bed, staring at the ceiling. "Hi," he said, sounding almost nervous. "I -- I needed to see you."

"How did you get in?" Oz asked cautiously, trying to decided if the vampire was still in full possession of his soul.

"Some guy named Jarod let me in. You should really warn them about inviting people in at night."

Oz relaxed, soothed by something in Angel's voice. "Yeah, guess I should. What's up?"

Angel got up and stalked to the window, staring out with a hardened face. "I had to bring Cordelia back. She's a wreck and I don't know what to do...I thought maybe her family or Xander or somebody could do something for her --"

"Angel." Oz frowned, unsettled. Angel was panicking. Angel wasn't supposed to panic. That just wasn't the way things worked. "Why is Cordelia a wreck? And you, I might add."

Angel turned around, leaning against the window frame. "Doyle died."


"Yeah. wasn't pretty. Cordelia saw the whole thing -- we both did. He saved a lot of people, including the two of us."

"I'm sorry," Oz said, fiddling with pens on the desk. "He seemed like a nice guy."

"He was."

"So where's Cordelia?"

"I left her with her parents and left a message for Xander with his mom. I didn't think she needed to be around me right now."

"She may need you more than you think. Cordelia has that way of pushing away the people she depends on most."

"I know. And I'll be there for her. But...I think right now I just remind her of the whole thing."

"How do you mean?" Oz kicked off his shoes and settled down on his bed.

Angel crossed his arms and stared at the floor. "It was supposed to be me," he replied, almost too quietly to hear. "She knows it was supposed to be me."

"I don't get it."

"It's a long story. One of us had to die. I was ready for it to be...Doyle punched me over a railing long enough to do it himself."


"I don't think she's mad at me," Angel muttered. "Just cloudy. She...she..."

"Angel, come over here." Getting to his knees and sitting back on his heels, Oz reached out a hand and waited for Angel to take the few steps required to reach him. He pulled the vampire down and moved behind him, placing his hands on Angel's shoulders. "Let's not talk about Cordelia anymore. She's with people who will take care of her. What about you?"

"What about me?"

"I asked first," Oz teased lightly. "Cordelia's not the only one hurting here, is she?"

"That doesn't matter right now." Angel twisted away from Oz's hands, leaning back into the pillows again.

Oz sat cross-legged next to him, his hand resting on Angel's firm stomach. "I say it does. My room, my rules."

Angel frowned and flicked an irritated glance at Oz. "No, she's not the only one hurting. But she's 18, and I'm 243. I've seen these things before. I've lost people close to me before. She...She's so much more fragile than I ever realized. I guess it's because I never paid much attention to her."

"Cordy's stronger than you give her credit for. She may need people to lean on, but she has them, and she'll be okay. Angel, I'm serious. What about you?" Oz spoke gently, running his hand over Angel's chest.

Angel caught the hand in both of his and pressed down, trapping the warmth of Oz's flesh against his shirt. "I don't want to talk about me."

Oz paused, then nodded slightly, relenting. "So. You needed to see me. We're on your time. Where do we go?"

Angel's eyes filled with grateful relief. "Just...Never mind."

"Nope. Your time, my rules. You don't get to dodge the subject so many times."

"Could you just lie here with me...hold me?"

Oz smiled a bit, both at the uncertain hesitation behind the request and the odd mental image of what they must look like, a small-framed boy comforting a hulking figure of a vampire. Nonetheless, he crawled around to lean against the headboard and pulled Angel's head into his lap. "How's this?"

"Good." Angel closed his eyes. "Thanks."

"No problem."

"Hey, Oz? Would he mind if you kissed me?"

"Who?" Oz asked, startled.

"I can smell Devon on you. At least, I assume it's Devon. Different aftershave, too strong to just be from brushing against you. Would he mind?"

Oz smiled and curved his back to lay a light, upside-down kiss on Angel's mouth. "No. It's not like that. It's...he's actually out on a date right now."

Opening his eyes, Angel lifted his head slightly to snag another brief kiss. "Does that bother you?"

"No." Oz ran his hands down Angel's arms and laced their fingers together as he pressed down on Angel's lips again, parting them with his tongue and sighing softly. Angel bent his neck to the side to better accommodate the kiss, groaning up into Oz's mouth and curling his hands into fists around Oz's fingers.

Around the time he started breathing heavily, Oz stopped, lifting his head just enough to nuzzle the tip of his nose against Angel's. "Get some sleep first," he murmured. "You look like you haven't slept in days."

Angel finally let a small smile slip. "I haven't," he admitted reluctantly. "I've been staying with Cordelia...she has these nightmares."

Oz stroked the vampire's cool cheek. "Then sleep now. I'll take care of the windows before morning, and we'll pick up after you wake up."

Angel moved off of Oz's lap, his head collapsing wearily into the pillows. "Will you check and see how Cordelia's doing?"

"Sure. And I'll tell the guys to keep it down tonight." Oz pressed one last kiss to the corner of Angel's mouth. "Goodnight, Angel."