Find The River

Los Angeles was not a city that Oz particularly enjoyed.

He'd been peaceful in Europe and Asia but he knew he'd never find a home in either of them. He didn't feel real there. He didn't know how else to explain it. It hadn't felt like time was passing at its usual and correct speed. He'd wondered if jet lag could last for months. Maybe it was just that he was American Oz.

San Francisco had a great laid-back vibe. He'd preferred Reno to Las Vegas but both had been cool. Santa Fe was gorgeous and warm. He thought he might like to go back in thirty years and get old there, drinking tequila and playing acoustic guitar and living on a ranch. But not for thirty years. Now Oz lived on noise and crowds and artificial light and color and loud music.

He'd gone to New York and lived in a tiny room above a bookstore in the Village for four months. He loved the place and the bookstore and the people. But New York wasn't his thing either. Too big, too cold, too mean. He guessed that meant he was West Coast Oz, too.

L.A. was big and mean. But at least it was warm.

Oz drove his van back across the country. Every place he stopped along the way, he wondered about staying. No matter where he was, after all, he'd be able to find a place to play nights and weekends, so all he needed was a place to crash and a day job. Chicago. He could work a pretzel stand. Des Moines. He could be a fry cook. Denver. He could operate a ski lift. Vegas. He could be a blackjack dealer. Or a prostitute. Well, okay, that wasn't too likely. But options were good.

He stayed two nights at his friend Eli's place in San Francisco. He drank espresso and ate ramen noodles and jammed with Eli's band all day. At night he and Eli went to Eli's usual hangouts, a hole-in-the-wall bar and a noisy punk club. The second day he saw a Vespa scooter for sale on the way to the club. On the way back, it was still there. He decided it was there for a reason, so he sold the van and bought the Vespa and a helmet. The next afternoon Eli kissed his cheek and said, "Vaya con dios," and Oz rode off toward L.A.

Fifty miles later Oz began to wonder if all the energy from the van-Vespa transformation was positive.He was discovering muscles he never knew he had and they all hurt like a bitch. He pulled into a truck stop, filled the tank, ate a bag of chips and some Twinkies, bought a pair of gloves and a cheap pair of black sunglasses and got back on the road.

Twenty more miles and Oz began to mourn for his van. He'd never given it a name and he was starting to wish he had.

Never named his guitar either. He'd do it now, he decided. First name that came to his mind.


Okay. Second name that came to his mind.


He had no idea where that came from. But it wasn't bad. Sweet and southern sounding, like Lucille. Dinah. Someone's in the kitchen with. And the cat in Alice in Wonderland, he recalled vaguely. He imagined Devon sitting on his couch, eyes red and pupils dilated, surrounded by a cloud of hazy smoke repeating, "Dinah ... That's cool, man."

He would have named the Vespa while he was at it but Vespa sounded like a name by itself. Besides, at the moment he couldn't imagine naming it anything more friendly than Evil Ass-Biting Scooter of Pain anyway.

When he arrived in L.A., covered in road dust, Oz stopped at Angel's office. Or rather, as he discovered, lack of office. Wondered what the story was behind that. Wondered if Angel was still doing his private investigator thing, if he was even still in the city. Wondered if Angel would ever put an ad in the Yellow Pages.

As it turned out, Angel had. Probably at Cordelia's insistence. A small corner ad boasting "We help the hopeless." Oz rode to the listed address, an impressively large building. The Hyperion Hotel. Cool. He looked up and up and up. At least he knew if he needed a place to crash, Angel had him covered. Hell, Angel had the Kiss Army covered. He parked the Vespa and hauled all his stuff into the lobby with him.

Oz looked around the office and found it empty. "Anyone here?"

No answer.

He called up the staircase just to make sure. "Angel?"



Demon hunting. He debated whether to hang out until someone came back or to look somewhere else for a room. He was pretty sure Angel wouldn't mind but it didn't feel right. He gathered his stuff up again and piled it all back onto the Vespa.

He found a low-rent motel that wasn't too seedy. It had a bed and a shower. Perfect. Soda machine right outside his room. Bonus. If the cockroaches kept to themselves, he couldn't ask for anything else.

It wasn't until he flopped onto the bed to rest his aching muscles that he realized how hungry he was. Twinkies and Doritos only stretched so far. He showered quickly, put on clean clothes and went out to search for some decent food.

Franco's Pub was a little dive close to the motel. An Italian pub, Oz mused, looking at the sign. There was a red neon rose below the name. It looked cheap, his stomach was growling loudly and he decided it was as good a place as any. It was small, with a bar and a row of booths against the wall and a pool table and dart board in the back.

He didn't actually want a drink. He rarely did. His fake I.D. was laughably fake. Devon had given it to him when they were seventeen. But since he didn't go to bars frequently and hardly ever actually drank when he did, it didn't bother him much. He sat in an empty booth and ordered a Coke, a cheeseburger and fries.

He was halfway through his fries when the noise of cheers and groans from the crowd at the back of the pub reached a distracting level. Someone was winning a lot of money and someone else wasn't happy about it. Oz continued to eat.

When the game of pool or darts or whatever had drawn the spectators came to an end and the crowd began to quiet and dissipate, Oz looked up.

Well. That was something of a surprise. He wondered if everyone didn't end up in L.A. sooner or later. He rose from his seat and approached the man who was receiving congratulatory pats on the back from various patrons.

"Hey, Wesley."

Wesley blinked. Recognition became slowly clear in his eyes. "Oz."

"Wouldn't have figured you for a dart shark. I just got into town. I thought you were in England."

"Did you? I can't imagine that anyone in Sunnydale gave the matter excessive thought," Wesley said. "No. I'm very much here. For how long, I couldn't really say."

"Want to sit with me?"

"I wouldn't want to intrude."

"That works out well, actually," Oz said, "because you wouldn't." He smiled.

Wesley returned the smile gratefully. "Very well. I'd love to join you."

Wesley sat across from him in the booth. He drank beer and ate barbecue wings and asked Oz questions about the places he had traveled to, sounding genuinely interested. After discussing London, Tibet, and oddly, Intercourse, Pennsylvania, Wesley was silent long enough for Oz to ask a question of his own.

"So what brought you to L.A.?"

Wesley sighed quietly in such a way that made Oz realize that it was a very old, widely repeated story. "After leaving Sunnydale, I was dismissed by the Watcher's Council. I elected to remain in the States, hunting demons independently. I tracked one into the offices of Angel Investigations and the rest," Wesley said, taking a swig of his beer, "as they say, is history."

"You work for Angel?"

"Worked," Wesley corrected. "But I'd prefer not to go into that if it's all the same. I worked with Angel and Cordelia for a little over a year."

"Tell me about it?" Oz asked. "Aside from the past tense part."

"Gladly." Wesley told him with growing enthusiasm about the monsters and demons he had assisted Angel in dispatching. He told him anecdotes about Cordelia that the Sunnydale crowd would have killed to hear. He told him what had happened to Doyle. "You met him once, didn't you?"

Oz nodded. "Rough. He was cool."

"They loved him very much. I wish I would have gotten a chance to meet him."

They sat in sober silence for a long moment. Wesley looked down at his hands. Oz took the opportunity to look at Wesley.

In Sunnydale, Wesley had seemed like an all-around decent guy. Oz was even a little sympathetic toward him. After all, Wesley Got In Buffy's Way, and Oz had to feel sorry for any non-evil human person who lacked the sense to recognize what a bad idea that was. But now ... changed was not the right word. Transformed. No, too demon-y. Grown. That was good. Wesley had grown since Oz had seen him last. He was dressed in casual comfortable clothes instead of a stuffy suit but that was the least of it. He wasn't so much of a ... caricature. There was a whole real person sitting across from Oz, and Oz liked him more and more as the minutes passed.

"Is Angel ...?" Oz asked.

Wesley caught his meaning immediately. "He's still Angel. Nothing wrong there. Well," Wesley amended, "that may be too broad of a statement. Not killing people at the very least." Wesley paused. "I'm afraid that's a bit broad as well. I'm sorry, I--"

"Don't want to talk about it," Oz finished for him. "It's cool."

"Quite understandably. Tell me," Wesley said and Oz knew he was about to change the subject. "Are you staying in L.A. or just passing through?"

"Not sure. I've been pretty much everywhere else. Wouldn't hurt to give staying in one place a shot again. Well, it might hurt Devon. Broke his heart when I left," Oz said.

"Devon is?" Wesley sounded like he was swallowing surprise. His face went decidedly expressionless, save for an arched eyebrow.

What did he ... ? Oh. Heh. "Not my boyfriend. Lead singer of the band I was in. My best friend or so he tells me."

"Ah. Am I correct in assuming, however, that you and Miss Rosenberg have parted ways?"

Oz winced inwardly. It would always hurt, he decided, not for the first time. "About a year and a half ago. I left. I had to learn how to control the wolf," he explained, a little amazed at how casually he could talk about it. "I still love her."

"Forgive me for intruding, but if you have in fact learned to control it, and the woman you love is in Sunnydale, why are you here?"

"I asked myself the same question a while ago. Turns out the woman she loves is in Sunnydale, too."

"Oh," Wesley said. "Oh!" He leaned forward confidentially. "Really? Willow?"

Oz nodded, with an amused quirk of his eyebrows. "It shocks and amazes. I met her when I went back. Tara. They're in love, it's a good thing. I'm glad she's happy. I couldn't expect her to wait forever."

"But it still hurts," Wesley said for him.

"I said I couldn't expect her to. Never said I didn't want her to."

"Women," Wesley said, a little bitterly, shaking his head.

"And vampires." Oz made a similar gesture.

Wesley frowned, his forehead creasing. "I'm choosing to believe that you're not implying anything."


"Were you implying something?"

"Only a little." Before Wesley could protest, Oz continued. "It's just, you've got the look. The 'I've been betrayed, but I can't call it betrayal because it wasn't that kind of relationship' look. I know that one pretty well."

Wesley opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it. Sighed. "I suppose you're right."

Oz wondered if Wesley was in love with Angel. Or Cordelia. Somebody was always in love with somebody in situations like theirs. He'd learned that in Sunnydale. People can't go through all that pain and fear and danger together without getting a little attached.

Hell. When had he ever been afraid to ask a simple question? Afraid of Wesley. Buffy would laugh hysterically.

"Do you love him?" Oz asked.

Wesley choked on a buffalo wing. Oz was just about to give him the Heimlich maneuver when he quieted and took a big gulp of his beer. "Pardon me?"

"Angel. It's hard not to love him. I probably loved him a little. The tall, dark and bipolar thing. Although the dead thing did detract from his appeal. For me, at least."

"I'm not ... it's not ..." Wesley sighed. "You're very perceptive."

"It's a curse."

Wesley was an attractive man, Oz decided. If someone had asked him the day before, he wondered if he even would have remembered who Wesley was. He would have. Probably. But he doubted that attractive would have been mentioned as a descriptive adjective. He was, though. Tall. Dark. Bipolar? Not sure yet. Pretty eyes. Pretty was an unfortunate word to afflict a man with. Not as bad as cute but close. Wesley was pretty. Oz added the realization to his ever-growing mental Why I Am Insane file.

"And Cordelia?" Oz asked. Chatty tonight, he thought. But then how long had it been since he'd run into someone from his Old Life? Those words were always capitalized in his head. He didn't know what to call this, whatever it was he had now. Not his New Life. It was too unstable for that, too random, the places he ended up, the people he met.

"I do love her," Wesley said. "It's different."

"It would kind of have to be."

"Are we committed to this topic or am I not too late to change it? Lovely weather we've been having."

"I'm sorry," Oz said.

"Don't be ridiculous," Wesley said. "You've no reason to be."

"Do either of them know that you're in love with them?"

Wesley raised an eyebrow. "Now you might have a reason to be sorry."

"And strangely I'm not."

Oz didn't know why he was pressing this. He never pressed anything. Curiosity killed the lead guitarist. A pretty mild death, as far as a werewolf from a Hellmouth was concerned.

"I love Cordelia. I'm not in love with her." Wesley's answer seemed to finish there.

"I said them."

"I heard you."

"I'm sorry."

"Do stop saying that."

Oz decided to stop before he lost a potential friend. "I should probably go. On the road all day. I'm beat."

"Are you leaving because you're tired or because you feel you've offended me?"

Oz considered that for a moment. "A little of the first. More of the second."

"If I was offended, I'd be the one leaving," Wesley said.

Good point. "Good point."

"Still going to go?"

Was that a smile? Oz thought it was a smile. "Suddenly wide awake."

"I'm glad."

Definitely a smile. Pretty smile. "Why?"

"I don't know."

"That's valid."

There it was. The awkward silence Oz had known was coming ever since Wesley had sat down, blinking his pretty eyes and opening his pretty mouth. Silence, silence, silence. Damn. Oz really wanted to ask why Wesley wasn't working for Angel anymore. He wanted to ask what kind of music Wesley listened to, what his favorite movie was, his favorite color. His astrological sign. He wanted to use one of Devon's cheesy pick-up lines. He wanted to ask if Wesley had a spare room. He wanted one of them to say something.

"Oz, do you need a place to stay?" Wesley asked.

Yes. Yes. Yesyesyesyesyes. "No. I rented a room a couple blocks from here."

"Oh. I just ... if you ever do, you're more than welcome ..."

Oh, no. He could feel the blush creeping over his face. Damn. "Thanks," Oz said quietly.

"Why do they call you Oz?"

"My name is Daniel Osbourne," he said. "Huh. Weird to say it. My name is Daniel Osbourne," he repeated, trying out the words. "I've been Oz since I met Devon. Which was pretty much birth."

"It suits you. I've always loathed my name. Too long and pompous-sounding. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce," he said in an important tone of voice. "I've tried both names on their own but it just sounds wrong. And now I'm babbling. Feel free to stop me, as I've never been able to stop myself."

That was always Oz's job, it seemed. Keeping people from running on. Except he liked it when people ran on. So he was pretty bad at his job. He wondered why people kept trusting him with it. "I don't mind."

Wesley closed his mouth and smiled.

"You should do that more often," Oz said without thinking.


"Smile," Oz said. "Anyway, your name's not bad. I won't say it suits you since you don't like it. Your first name suits you, at least. Wesley. Wes."

"I do prefer that," Wesley said. "Are you seeing anyone now, Oz?" His cheeks colored and he lowered his eyes briefly. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded."

"It sounded like you were asking if I was seeing anyone," Oz said, shrugging lightly. "And I'm not. Haven't been in one place long enough to get to know anybody. And, believe it or not, the whole wolf aspect can put a damper on the social life. So it's just me. Me and Dinah," he added with a smile.

Wesley looked at him curiously. "You've named an inanimate object, haven't you? Dare I take a guess at what?"

"It might be funny if you did. It's my guitar."

"Ah. I'd like to hear you play, you know. Do you think you will, somewhere, anytime soon?"

"Hard to say. I'm a little band-less. Dev hates L.A. Everyone's just like him so no one thinks he's cool. But I could ... play for you, sometime." Oz made a decent attempt to keep his tone casual. A failed but decent attempt.

Wesley's gaze dropped to the table and he smiled at his hands. Blue eyes sparkled beneath long lashes. "I think I'd like that very much."

In an unconsciously suggestive nervous habit, Oz played with one of his silver rings, tugging it back and forth over his knuckle. He didn't breathe. If he didn't move or blink or breathe, sometimes he could pretend what he was saying wasn't really being said. He looked at Wesley. "Are we still talking or are we flirting now?"

Wesley considered that for a moment. "A little of the first. More of the second."

Oz dimly recalled this feeling. This heart-pounding, light-headed, dizzy, happy feeling. "Is this casual flirting or ambitious flirting?"

Wesley grinned. "Mildly ambitious, I'd say. Wouldn't you agree?"

"I'm feeling goal-oriented, yes."



"Would you like to go someplace quieter where we can talk?"

Oz felt twitchy. Nervous. He was never nervous. He wondered if Wesley could tell. "Now that you mention it, I can barely hear you at all."

"Quite right. Damn this infernal ... din," Wesley said, gesturing with a look of distaste to the rest of the sparsely populated, admittedly quiet pub.

"Let's go."

Oz declined quickly when Wesley offered to pay for his dinner. Wesley followed him out of the pub, and Oz stopped next to the Vespa.

"Yours?" Wesley asked, slightly surprised. "I seem to recall a hulking zebra-like monstrosity on wheels."

"It got too big for me," Oz said. "Whereas the Vespa is small and ... versatile. Good gas mileage. Not at all uncomfortable." He gave up. "My ass is numb."

"I can sympathize," Wesley said, nodding toward the motorcycle parked a spot behind the Vespa. "You get used to it after a bit. Let me advise against the inherent urge to wear leather on a contraption like this. More trouble than it's worth."

"You wore leather?"

"I was in a phase."

"Can you have another phase?"

"I might be persuaded."

"I love a challenge."

Oz decided that if Wesley wanted a one-night stand, it wouldn't necessarily compromise his integrity to agree.

"Shall we swing by the motel to pick up your things?" Wesley asked.

"You want me to stay with you?"

"That was the general consensus I believe we'd reached, yes."

"Just for tonight or ... "

"For as long as you'd like, love."

"You just called me love."

Wesley blushed, and looked down at his feet. "I ... So I did."

"I liked it."

"I'm not sure which is stranger."

Wesley followed Oz to his motel and helped him pack up the Vespa. Oz followed Wesley to his apartment. He noticed that Wesley did not specifically invite him inside, only held open the door and waited. Oz was not offended. It was a good policy. The apartment was nice; tastefully decorated, if a little impersonal.

Oz looked around Wesley's living room. "Comfy digs." Christ, he sounded like Devon.

"Thank you." Wesley told Oz to make himself at home, and left him alone for a moment. "Would you like something to drink?" Wesley called, presumably from the kitchen.

"Tea would be good." Oz rifled through Wesley's CD rack and scanned his bookshelf. The demon books must have been at the office because these all looked like pleasure reading to him. Grocery store paperbacks, Stephen King and Clive Barker. Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut. More poetry than Oz would have guessed, good poetry--not that he was an authority. Shakespeare, only the tragedies. Oz saw an Irvine Welsh novel on the bottom shelf and smiled. He pictured Wesley, stretched out on the couch, glasses off, reading about Scottish junkies and haunted hotels and cognitive packs of Camel Lights. It was crazy how people could be so different than they seemed.

Wesley came back, and they sat on the couch. Oz drank his tea quickly. It did little to calm him down. Wasn't that what tea was supposed to do? When he set the cup back on the saucer, it clinked loudly and Oz realized that his hand was shaking.

"You seem a bit unnerved," Wesley said.

"Would it be all right if I kissed you now?" Funny how it seemed like that would be the only thing capable of settling him down, and at the same time, the thought sent his heart racing faster than was probably healthy.

Wesley's mouth opened. He took off his glasses and set them on the coffee table. "I think--yes. Emphatically, yes."

"Good," Oz said. He didn't move. Just took a minute to think between permission and action. He wanted to stop thinking about Devon, about the one time he'd kissed Devon, drunk on schnapps from his parents' liquor cabinet in the tenth grade. So young. God. And Devon had kissed him back, Oz was sure of it, for just a second before pushing him away and laughing at him. Three years later, Devon had tried to kiss him again, drunk on rum and Coke after a show at the Bronze. Oz had said no. Stupid. What could it have hurt? But he'd been with Willow then and Willow had been ... everything.

Had been.


When did that happen?

"I'm sorry," Wesley said. "Were you only asking hypothetically?"

Oz smiled. "I think I was trying to psych myself out."

"Did it work?"

"I think it might ha--" Oz leaned forward almost involuntarily and pressed his lips briefly to Wesley's. He pulled back. "No. It did not work."

"Can't say I'm disappointed."

Oz moved closer, reaching up one hand to touch Wesley's face and resting the other lightly on Wesley's upper arm. Wiry muscles there but he was thin, so thin, and Oz was suddenly very sure that Wesley had been hurt badly in his life. Not demon-hurt but people-hurt which tended to be worse and a hell of a lot harder to forget. Oz didn't know what it was that had made him think of it.

Gently stroking Wesley's cheek with his thumb, Oz kissed him again, letting his tongue slide over Wesley's lips and teeth and tongue. Wesley's mouth tasted of beer and barbecue sauce. Not particularly unpleasant but not how Wesley's mouth should taste. Wesley's mouth should taste like sugar and tea and rich pastries, the kind that are served on doilies. Oz knew that had to be some kind of potentially offensive British stereotype. Knew it. Didn't care. But ...

God, he'd forgotten just how hot 98.6 degrees were when they were pressed firmly against one's entire body. So good, it had been so long. How long since he'd touched anyone like this, with heat and real intent? A year? Never again.

Oz trailed wet kisses over Wesley's jaw and the pale fragile skin of his throat. Such tender skin, it would bruise with just a--

"Don't!" Wesley's voice sounded incredibly loud in Oz's head. Loud and high-pitched and afraid. Oz had heard too many voices like that. And there it was, the cold sweat smell of fear, the rapid little breaths, the wild eyes.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have." An ex-Watcher. Working for a vampire. And Oz shouldn't have bitten him on the neck. Genius.

"I, ah ... It's all right. You just startled me," Wesley said. "But for several rather apparent reasons, I'd really prefer it if you didn't do that again."

That was not what Wesley was supposed to say.

"I get an again?" Oz asked.

Wesley raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Certainly. As many as you'd like."

Wow. "You are ... not what I expected."

"Thank you," Wesley said.

Even though he'd been given expressed permission, when Oz reached for Wesley again, he felt like he was taking liberties. He found that sweet mouth again, that taste, and fought not to liken the act to feeding in his mind. His logic appealed to him, demanding that it was all right to call this an animal act because humans were animals but the wolf laughed at him. The wolf had a voice inside his head, a raspy, evil voice, and it was whispering steadily, behind all of Oz's hunger and lust, that the man under Oz's hands was innocent and that Oz had no right. Wesley had no badness in him and he didn't deserve to be touched by anything that did, even if it was Angel, even if it was Oz.

Still, the demand of the wolf and the demand of his conscience never grew so great that Oz honestly considered taking his mouth and hands away.

Oz pressed his face against Wesley's throat, inhaled deeply and growled. He couldn't help himself. Wesley's muscles tensed but he did not pull away. Oz kissed and licked the spot just below Wesley's ear and was rewarded with a high-pitched moan. Wesley liked that. Oz smiled.

"You're not afraid?" Oz asked, pleased.

"I'm quite terrified," Wesley said, sounding nothing of the sort. "Could you do that to my ear again, please?"

Oz did. Wesley groaned, low and drawn out, and Oz felt Wesley's hips jerk off the couch. Oh, that was it. Oz kissed Wesley's mouth and climbed over Wesley's thighs, straddling him. He licked Wesley's earlobe and caught it gently between his teeth, sucking and tugging. He nuzzled Wesley's neck again and had to smile. He sat back and looked at Wesley, breathing hard, and his hands slid quickly across Wesley's shoulders, over his chest, his stomach, firmer than Oz had expected. Wesley clung to Oz's sides, his thumbs digging into Oz's hips through his tee shirt.

It took Oz a minute or two to realize he was hard, the way it sometimes took him a while to realize he had a headache. Caught up in whatever he was doing, playing or driving or fucking, he'd push and push until his body demanded rest and only then would the throb surface, already deep and steady and unmistakable. Out of character for his slacker persona, maybe, but when Oz committed, he committed, and his focus could be single-minded and furious.

His focus was currently concerned with getting as much of Wesley naked beneath his hands as he possibly could.

Doing a pretty damn good job of it, too. Starched blue shirt successfully unbuttoned and tossed across the room. Undershirt pulled up and off, followed by some gratuitous sniffing on Oz's part. There. Much better. Wesley had flawless pale skin and compact, well-defined muscles, nothing like Oz's scrawny chicken chest and skinny arms. Damn.

"You're beautiful," Oz said against Wesley's shoulder.

"You ... take this off, please." Wesley was tugging at the ragged hem of Oz's tee shirt and struggling to breathe evenly.

Oz moved back, pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it on the floor.

"Lovely," Wesley said, sounding strangled and utterly sincere. He raised his hand and stroked idly over the back of Oz's neck. Oz purred and closed his eyes, and Wesley pulled him closer, taking his mouth again with that sweet, slow intensity.

Everything was always so easy outside of Sunnydale, Oz realized vaguely. Love wasn't a simple emotion in any location but in Sunnydale it seemed a million times more complex. Nobody had casual sex in Sunnydale. Even the majority of the population, who'd made the decision early on to be oblivious to the evil otherworldliness that went down in the town, maintained a tacit understanding that you never, under any circumstances, left a club or a bar with a stranger. Which limited people's options rather drastically, considering that everyone in Sunnydale was a stranger to everyone else, if you wanted to get psychological about it. Everyone in Sunnydale was a stranger with a secret, something to hide, something they were afraid of, or something others should fear.

But outside the city limits, all the drama, all the overwhelming seriousness was pared down to nothing at all, and Oz loved it. He had needs, everyone had needs, but nothing was life-threatening. Nothing was critical, outside of his now-aching erection.

Good, so good, nothing better than this, shared heat and naked skin. Oz had reached the point that always scared him the most, the single second when he consciously allowed himself to let go and function on instinct, his senses alone. He thrust his hips hard against Wesley's and buried his face against Wesley's shoulder, licking, sucking, and there it was, the point he loved the most, the moment he fucking reveled in, the single second when everything else was gone and all there was in the world was predator and prey, animal and hunger, and he wouldn't remember until later that he'd only gotten this once with Willow. Only once had he felt safe enough to forget himself, to trust himself. But that said way more about him than it did about Willow or Wesley.

"Here?" Oz asked.

"Here is fine," Wesley said. "Here is perfect."

Oz fumbled with the button of his fly, still kissing Wesley. "Let me ... just let me get these off quick." He stood on shaky legs and shucked his jeans and boxers, his entire body flushed a deeper shade from self-consciousness and thorough excitement, his cock red and hard, twitching. Wesley freed his own erection, never taking his eyes off Oz's body. Oz climbed back over him, letting out a prolonged moan as his groin settled into the cradle of Wesley's. With one hand on the couch for balance, he found an easy position and rhythm, thrusting hard and slow. "Okay?"

Wesley's head was resting back against the couch. His eyes were closed, lids fluttering, and his hands were alternately clutching hard at Oz's hips and roaming over Oz's back, sides, chest, and ass while Oz rocked against him smoothly. "It's good," he said. "It's--slow like that, it's good, don't stop."

Monosyllabic words and incomplete sentences from stuffier-than-thou Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Oz was impressed and a little proud. He leaned in for a kiss and reached down to curl his fingers around the thick base of Wesley's cock, stroking him in counterpoint to his forward thrusts. "You want to do it like this?" he asked, like it wasn't already being done.

Wesley's head bobbed in a helpless nod.

Oz brushed his thumb over the tip of Wesley's dick, stroking the wetness he found there down the swollen shaft. He kept his fist tight and rough, grinding his own cock over his knuckles. He pressed his mouth against Wesley's neck, licking and sucking the warm soft skin, careful of his teeth.

Wesley was close, he knew, and it was suddenly and inexplicably important to him that they come together, eyes open. He wanted them to share this. The twisted romance of the thought took him by surprise.

Tightening the muscles in his legs, he braced himself and took his free hand off the couch. He grabbed Wesley's right wrist, tugging his hand away from his ass and up to his mouth, and he licked Wesley's palm thoroughly before wrapping it tightly around his own cock.

Wesley responded eagerly, matching the rhythm Oz had set on him. The touch was achingly sweet, it made Oz gasp and nearly lose his balance. His hand fell back on the couch, curling into a desperate fist around the edge of the cushion.

He opened his mouth and tried to speak, but the words were incoherent, little more than breath leaving his mouth. He swallowed hard. "Please, Wes ... look at me."

Not an easily fulfilled request. It took an incredible force of will and a few more whispered urgings from Oz, but Wesley's eyes finally opened, wide and shiny, staring wildly at Oz's face. He inhaled sharply and let out a moan that sounded like a very strangled pronunciation of 'Daniel'.

Oz closed the remaining distance between them and kissed Wesley hard, sucking his lower lip into his mouth, nipping at it. His brain screamed at him to be gentle, but the protest was forgotten because Wesley bucked beneath him, jerked his hips, once, twice, lifting them both, his hand a rough blur over Oz's cock as he shuddered into orgasm.

That was all it took. The thick warm pulse of Wesley's release against his stomach, the thrum of their heartbeats in his ears, the taste and scent of salt on Wesley's skin and in the air, and the shockingly beautiful sight of Wesley coming for him ... it was enough, it was everything, it was way too much. In the space of a breath, the world stopped and then began again, inside him, all around him, in a sweet rush of color and sound.

Oz gave into it completely and shook apart with pleasure.

It felt like hours before Oz could lift his head from Wesley's shoulder and open his eyes. After that much sensory input, everything was dull and dim. He blinked at Wesley's face and struggled to focus his eyes.

Wesley looked the way he felt; thoroughly and pleasantly demolished. A slow, fond smile spread across his face, and Oz had to reach for a spare bit of energy to lean forward and kiss his swollen mouth. Now completely drained, Oz rested his forehead against Wesley's shoulder, surprised he had the strength to breathe.

"We really should move," Wesley murmured absently.

"You're funny. I like that."

"Oz ... "

"I know, I know. Two seconds."

Sighing hugely, Oz climbed off of Wesley and collapsed onto the couch. Without opening his eyes, he reached one hand down to the floor and patted around until he found his tee shirt. He swiped it over his stomach and cock, cleaning himself up, and opened his eyes and looked at Wesley. He held up the shirt and raised his eyebrows. Wesley took the shirt and followed Oz's cue. When he was finished, he turned it inside out, balled it up, and tossed it across the room.

Oz watched him with a small smile. "You're different."

"We're both different."

They looked at each other for a long moment. Oz was acutely aware that he was naked, but not bothered enough to do anything about it. Finally, the silence was broken by two different voices with the same words. "Why did you--"

Oz's face grew hot. Dammit. "You first."

Wesley stared at the floor. He licked his lips. "Why did you make me open my eyes?" he asked softly.

Well, this blush obviously wasn't going to have a chance to retreat anytime soon. "I was ... I didn't want ... Come on, Wes, you know why."

Wesley looked him in the eye. "I wasn't thinking about him, Oz. But I don't blame you, really. I wanted ... I wanted that, too."

Fair enough. "My turn, then?"

"Go right ahead."

"Why did you call me Daniel?"

"It's your name."

"My name is Oz."

"That's his name for you."

Oh. Fuck. "I guess I never thought of it like that."

Wesley frowns. "Did you mind terribly?"

He wants to say yes, but it's not the truth. "No. It was okay. Kind of nice, actually. Just--"

"Different," Wesley finished for him.

Oz nodded. "Yeah. But nice."

Wesley slid his arm gently around Oz's shoulders, pulling him slowly closer, giving Oz a thousand chances to change his mind.

Oz shifted on the couch and brought his feet up. He leaned back against Wesley, resting his head on his chest, listening to his heart beat. It had been such a long day. His eyelids felt weighted; he let them close. His last thoughts before falling asleep were of Wesley's lips brushing against his hair, and that tomorrow might be the first day of his New Life.