Sarongs And Memories
Swimming pools. Large holes in the ground, concrete spread over them, filled with water. California was filled with these, the weather sunny and warm, the need for cool clean water to fall into endless, despite the desert around it.
And there were "pool parties", teenages surrounding the pool, scantily clad, running in and out of the pool, water and hormones interacting in the moment a teenage girl in a tight bikini first got out of a chilly pool.
Giles had never been invited to a "pool party". Summer was a few days in England, a time to go to Blackpool and stare at the cloudy sky. And California? What would teenagers want with a 40-year-old who doesn't even own a pair of swimtrunks?
But he was invited to one now. It was graduation and there were parties and sitting in front of him was a small invitation to a pool party. At Oz's.
Oz grinned that weird slow grin of his when Giles held up the invitation. "I have friends. You're one of them," he said in that understated way of his.
So Giles was here, in front of the backyard gate, wearing thin linen pants and matching short-sleeved shirt, knocking on the gate.
Willow peeked up over the gate, her eyes twinkling. "Giles!" she said happily. She unlatched the large wooden door and opened it, revealing her swimsuit. Giles blinked as he took in the Lolita-esque outfit of a pale green halter top and mini-shorts. Willow turned away from him, walking into the backyard. "Everyone else is here...Oz was just about to start up the barbeque...I hope you like veggie burgers...Oz's mom goes on a no-meat kick every once in awhile and, well, we can't get out the hamburgers until she goes off for her weekly meditation class..."
"Hey Giles!" Buffy said, waving from a large bright pink floating thing in the pool, her high-cut bright pink floral print swimsuit even brighter in the sunlight. Giles waved, his eyes momentarily blinded by the glare of her swimsuit.
"Yo G-man!" Xander said, over by an ice chest and table. "Want somethin' to drink?"
Giles walked over to the tall thin boy in faded bermuda shorts. "Um...yes, that would be wonderful."
"Iced tea?" Cordelia said, holding up a pitcher, her golden bikini glinting in the sunlight.
Giles nodded. Cordelia poured him a glass and handed it to him. The tea was fresh, strong, and cool, with just a hint of lemon. And it slid down his throat wonderfully, the coolness spreading throughout his body, calming him.
"Giles, glad you made it," a voice said behind him. Giles turned around. His eyebrows raised and he took a large gulp of the tea. Oz stood there, nonchalant as usual, only instead of his usual large baggy rock star clothes, he was in a sarong. Bright blue. With a faint, slightly more green leaf pattern.
Giles shook his head slightly, breaking his eyes away from the sarong. "Hello, Oz," he said amicably.
"You want a veggie burger? I was just about to put them on... But you can wait for the hamburgers if you want to..."
Giles blinked, his eyes hypnotized by the sarong. "Oh, uh...the veggie burgers are fine, thank you." Something was lurking in the back of his mind, something familiar.... His mind moved away from the thought when a new song came on the stereo.
"Jeez, Oz, can't we hear anything from after we were born?"
Xander...at least it's not the Grateful Dead...I mean, Oz's mom is particular about her music..."
"And besides," Oz said, flipping veggie burgers. "I like this song." He began to sing along. "Girls could be boys and boys could be girls...it's a mixed up muddled up shook up world 'cept for Lola....Lo lo lo lo Lola..." He caught Giles' eye and winked.
Giles chuckled and settled onto a lounge chair. Maybe a pool party wasn't such a bad idea...
"Giles?" Oz said, his voice soft. "Giles, wake up..."
Giles blinked, raising his head. "What?"
Oz smirked. "You were dozing off." He looked critically at the older man. "You aren't wearing sunscreen, are you?"
Giles paused, then swore quietly under his breath. "How bad is it?" he asked.
Oz's smirk grew wider. "It isn't noticeable yet...but when I saw you dozing, I figured I better make sure..." He held up a bottle of sunscreen. "Want some?"
Giles nodded and reached for the bottle, but before he could get his hands on it, Oz squeezed a liberal amount into his hand, and pushed Giles back down with the other one, straddling Giles with his legs. "No one can put sunscreen on themselves alone. You'll miss a spot."
Giles frowned slightly, then relaxed, letting the young man remove his glasses and start rubbing lotion over his face. Oz took his time, making sure every millimeter of Giles' face was protected, saving that British skin from the dangers of pure sunlight, not hidden by the mists and clouds of England. When Oz pulled away, Giles opened his eyes.
And it all crashed into place. The blue sarong. The skinny young man. It all coalesced into a single photographic image. Ethan and Rupert, Rupert's arm around Ethan's waist, hips barely covered by a long blue sarong; both grinning like idiots, celebrating their A-levels with a trip to Bali.
It all crashed into place and Giles was in the present, a teenage boy straddling his hips, looking at him oddly. Giles straightened, sliding up the chair, a slightly panicked look in his eyes.
Oz moved off of him, frowning. "Giles, are you okay?"
"Um...Yes...Yes, I'm fine...just a little..." He smiled weakly. "The heat must be getting to me."
"Of course...you should probably move into the shade anyway..." Oz was going to say more when an older woman came in from the house. "Oz, baby?" She walked over to him. "Oz, I'm going now....try to clean that meat off of the grill before I get back---don't deny it, baby, I've been around a hell of a lot longer than you have and besides, that other boy has a really big mouth." She took a breath and looked at Giles. "Oh, hello...you must be Mr. Giles. Oz told me he was inviting you." She held out her hand. "I'm Donna, Oz's mom."
Giles took her hand. "P-Pleased to meet you, ma'am," he said.
Donna chuckled. "'Ma'am'....Jesus, Oz, you sure do pick up weird friends....anyways, I'm off to class. You know where and when I'll be back." She leaned over, and gave her son a kiss on the cheek.
"See ya, Mom," Oz said. Donna gave a wave to Willow before leaving through the gate. Oz looked back down at Giles. "Are you going to get into the shade or do I have to carry you?"
Giles blinked. "Excuse me?"
Oz shrugged. "It's this pale skin of mine. I learned early on how to protect it. So now I worry about everyone's skin." He gestured to the patio.
Giles stood. "It's all right...." he said quickly. "I think...I think I'll see what the others are doing..." He walked away.
Giles chatted with the other teenagers, enjoying their light banter, until, suddenly, Xander felt the need to get a large bucket of water and dump it on Buffy. Buffy retaliated and Giles, fearing the worst, slipped away from them, heading into a small greenhouse.
The greenish light from the windows gave the place an otherworldly feeling. Giles looked at the tiers of plants crowding the small shed, filling it with the heady scent of flowers, soil, and a faint undertone of...
Giles sniffed again, then moved aside a large plant with huge leaves, revealing, in nice neat clean rows, perfectly weeded, watered, and pampered marijuana bushes.
"Found the garden, huh?" a voice said behind him.
Giles jumped up, startled. He turned around, his eyes wide. "Oz, I..."
Oz shrugged. "Not a problem. Unless, of course, you're going to rat on Mom and me. With all the supernatural stuff out there, the cops might need to feel good about themselves by busting a tiny pot farm..." He looked up at Giles, moving closer to him. "You're not going to tell anyone, right?"
Giles took a step back, nearly landing in the large plant he moved away. "W-who would I tell?" he asked.
Oz frowned slightly. "You know, there's something going on here," he said, his voice in his usual calm tone.
"Something?" Giles swallowed. The scent of the growing plants only reminded him of even more of Bali.
Oz shrugged. "You're just really jumpy around me. And normally, you're not." He looked at Giles levelly. "What's going on?"
Giles took a deep breath, sighed, then met Oz's gaze. "You....are bringing back a lot of old memories that I thought I had forgotten," he said.
"Memories?" Oz took a step closer. "Good memories or bad memories?"
Giles swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. "G-Good memories..." He smiled faintly. "I was young...on vacation in Bali...with...an old friend..."
"And why do I remind you of that?" Oz asked, moving closer.
Giles looked down, and closed his eyes. "Your...sarong..." he said quietly. "You...remind me...of my friend..." He looked up at Oz and matched the boy's green eyes. "My friend Ethan." He looked down again.
Oz stared at him, his eyes clear and level. "Your friend..." he said quietly. He leaned forward. "Giles?"
Giles looked up.
Oz leaned up on his tiptoes, pressing his body lightly against the older man's, and ever-so-gently, touched his lips against him.
Giles closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around the smaller man, pulling him in for a deeper kiss. The kiss continued for a second, for a lifetime, forever, then ended as quickly as it started.
Oz smiled crookedly. "That was fun," he said quietly. "I'll...I'll see you later." He smiled again, then slipped out the door.