What surprised Oz the most was the way a certain conservatism had to be adopted. It wasn't that control was such an odd concept for him -- deep down his pride in his control was large -- it was just that he'd always been able to integrate that control successfully into his otherwise mellow existence.

Things happened, Oz kept his cool and did all his thinking where no one could pick at it too hard. In leisure, there had been time to laugh at random silliness with the most beautiful girl he knew. In alternate leisure, there was the band, and Devon in particular. A former Very Good Friend who'd reverted, cheerfully, into the biggest tease on the face of the earth, good-naturedly taunting Oz with what they both knew he'd never take.

Hurting Willow was... beyond the pale. It still was, it will always be, and yet there remains the urge to roll himself in Tara's entrails and leave her for the carrion eaters. This would surely hurt Willow, and yet a very large part of him continues to scream That's Different, in neon and loud.

That part of him, through his own design, can no longer be designated as 'just the wolf.' He is the wolf now, or possibly the wolfman. It feels very 50's, like maybe teal or pink should be involved somewhere, since he lacked a letter jacket.

In any case, it fit. He was one, he was the other. He spent a lot of the time confused, but much less than he had when he'd first succeeded in his change. This was much more frightening, because Oz was not in the least ready to fully become this one strange, new entity, despite his intellectual acceptance.

This new Oz thing is different, and about as far from laid back as lycanthropically possible. Laid back in this form meant slipping back into his jumbled race memory, relying on instinct. On the outside it meant that Oz looked, talked, and behaved just like his old self... except when Something happened.

Tara was a rather memorable something, and there had been others since then. The casualties had been either minor or... buried. Oz smiled at that whenever he thought of it, despite his best efforts to call up everything he knew about the secularized sanctity of life. He made fewer efforts these days.

He didn't hurt the innocent, no matter how irritating they were. Even though it would be just as easy as snapping at the bees that surrounded his muzzle.

His nose. His nose.

Sometimes, Oz's mental image of himself was that of a wolf in a battered old Genesis t-shirt he'd stolen from his mother before leaving Sunnydale the first time. In the image, he was never wearing pants, but he was reading a book. Sometimes a techno-thriller, sometimes poetry, sometimes nothing but Willow after Willow. A thousand snapshots.

It all adds up to a need for control, more organized control. Traditional control where he no longer simply hid his thoughts. Rather, he occasionally hid them from himself until danger passed. A moderated surrender to idiocy. Slack-jawed and sun-blind, anything to pacify himself.

There were places Oz simply didn't go to anymore, possessions and tokens tossed out in roadside trash bins, compartmentalized Thoughts, only released deep in the wilds of Wherever, alone and safe. Made safe.

It made him feel buttoned down, starched beyond recognition. He still wore the clothes he favored, but there were times when they were much too soft, too easy. He owned other clothes, too, now. Things that required ironing, shoes that needed shining. When he worked, he did so as a bank teller, an accountant's temporary assistant.

He breathed deep of accounts and ledgers and studied the pulse rates of his co-workers, and tangled his dreams of blood with the urge to study, to know as he tore, as he sipped and ate.

When Oz let himself lose control, it was spectacular. The fat, unthinking prey laid out as neatly as tooth and claw would allow before consumed with the knowledge.

He was a thinking werewolf.

He hated himself.

Not the dark, slow, consuming hatred of the suicide, or the fiery rage of a man on the cusp of a decision. Just the simple fact of hate, and the knowledge that it would all work out in the end, the hate absorbed along with everything else, occasionally teased out so the new him could study the old, and perhaps marvel at the inefficiency.

Stubbornly, doggedly, he played his guitar. The only organization he gave himself here was just enough to learn new chords so that he can play more songs, lose himself in it, even while bound by necktie and wingtip, hair grown out to his natural ginger and trimmed neat, nails pale and bare. The guitar was the last bastion of the little Oz-man, and thus also a deep and vulnerable place. He dared not play for an audience, because sometimes he does lose it, a little. Just enough that he could now, by reflex, change the way he holds the instrument so that claws didn't break the strings as often.

Perhaps damningly, he played on the outskirts of Sunnydale, in the harsh light of day, humming soundlessly along and unabashedly sniffing for prey (pack), whatever. Nothing came, nothing tested him. There had been nothing to fail, and Oz noted and pushed away the disappointment before heading to Giles'.

Their scents were all over, of course. Overlapping in a strange, compelling skein of bright to faded, spiced to bland, but Giles was alone, and answered the door.

Stared at Oz for several long moments before offering his name as a question. Oz might have played his guitar, but he'd taken no other chances. Hair gelled down, suit and tie.

Uncomfortable shoes, and reading glasses tucked in his breast pocket. Some things were hard to see for his new self, others achingly clear. Oz nodded.

"May I come in?"

"Yes, yes, of course, please..." Giles stepped aside and gestured him in. "Have a seat. Can I get you anything?"

Oz opened his mouth to refuse and immediately felt the dryness of his throat. "Water, please."

Giles nodded and complied, and then they were sitting there, facing each other and silent. Giles studied him keenly, Oz responded in kind. Giles was a sort of muted happiness and wary confusion. Oz wondered what he was, and wished he could bite Giles.

Giles would be able to examine anything, examine him thoroughly, and Giles would tell him what he needed to know. Giles. Would.

"How can you stand it?"

"Stand what, Oz?"

Almost ingenuous, almost enraging, and Oz gestures quickly at the two of them, at the neatness and control, pausing only at the glint of Giles' earring, the softness of his sweater... "I have to go."

"You don't." Reaching out.

"Don't touch me."

"All right." A pause, and Giles leaned back. "Is this for the wolf?"

"I am the wolf."

Giles nodded, and focused inward for a long, long moment. Oz perched on the edge of the couch, ready to bolt, break the door down, anything to get away from Giles just in case. Everything was moving too fast to pin down, and he never should've played this morning and his knee ached where Giles would've touched.

His hand would have been warm. Solid and real and caring and. Relaxed. He only wanted to soothe Oz and that was. That couldn't --

"Oz... if you do it this way, there will always be something, someone that can tear it all apart. A name, a look, a touch, a scent. There'll always be something you can't predict."


An angrily rueful smile. "Among other things. Look, Oz, I don't have a solution."

"You're wearing an earring."

"You look like a prep-school reject."

"I have to --"

"You don't. At least... not as much. You can't bury yourself in this good little boy routine, Oz. It's not who you are, and the real you is just getting pissed off."

Oz sat quiet, carefully sitting back only when the muscles in his thighs began to tremble with fatigue. Giles joined him, eventually, and began plucking his hair into spikes, one steadying hand on his shoulder.

"I don't know if I can find a balance. I can't stay here."

"You will, and I know. A nice green dye might work."

"I --" Oz sighed. "It's hard to get the right shade."

Giles made a non-commital sound and continued at his head. The steadying hand was very warm, and apparently coated with a slow, torporous poison. Oz let himself settle back against Giles with a sigh and a brief, frightening wish for his mother. As a child, he'd been smart enough to dread growing up, but it happened anyway. Certain comforts just weren't there anymore, Giles was.

"Can we have sex?"

Giles finally paused, finally lost a little of that easy confidence of years that made Oz feel like a perverse twelve year old. Oz could feel every argument against it just behind him, roiling through Giles. Oz took advantage of the confusion, stealing the hand on his shoulder and biting gently at the fingers.

Sucking in two in messy haste, licking away salt and moaning at the texture, the feel of them pressing down on his tongue for one brief moment of intent before Giles pulled them away.


"I want you."

"Look at me."

Searched again and found... what? Oz leaned in the last few inches and kissed Giles as seriously as he could. Not crushing, not teasing, just kissing. Shifting to straddle one of Giles' thighs, brush against the tightening bundle with his own. It was enough.

Giles stood suddenly, holding Oz to himself with apparent ease and plundering his mouth. Groin to groin and grinding and, for Oz, moaning is the last straw for something undefinable. In human shape and wolf mind, biting hard at Giles' mouth and struggling against him for more and now and fast.

Set on his feet, pushed away, and Giles looked angry and as dangerous as Oz felt. Good. Good. Moved close again and Giles pulled off sweater and t-shirt together and pressed them close. Oz sucked and twisted at his nipples and was rewarded with something between a gasp and a chuckle.

"We could go -- ah -- upstairs..."

Anything, okay, and Oz followed behind, struggling with his own button-down before finally pulling it over his head, mussing his hair with something like a deliberate satisfaction as Giles stripped the rest of the way and came over to help. Jerked Oz closer by his belt before yanking it out of the loops and... considering.

"I don't play that way."

"Too bad --"

And then Giles' hand was on his cock and jerking and Oz can barely stand. How long had it been? How badly was he going to lose control?

Pushed to the bed and Giles got rid of the wingtips, peeled off Oz's pants and left him there in just his shorts, cock hanging out and angling toward his belly. Straddled him, looking down and maybe planning, maybe just watching him. Oz wanted to know what he looked like right then, wondered what it would be like when Giles did whatever it was he would do and panted.


"Giles, please --"

Bruising, strangling kiss and Oz got his hands in Giles' hair and was rocked by the intimacy of it, or maybe just by everything else. Giles braced above him, pushing hard against him, breathing harshly around the kiss and biting back just as hard and so dangerous. Kiss messily broken and Giles' shakes free of Oz, sitting up again, scraping at Oz's nipples, tugging at his necklaces.

"What do you want?"

"Fuck me. Hard."

Flash in Giles' eyes and then he ripped off Oz's shorts, shifting back to bend up Oz's legs to get them completely off. And then just... held them there, up and spread, examining Oz closely and it was awful and he's hard enough to cut diamond.

Giles released him after several moments to get what they needed, but Oz held himself in place. It had to be a little awful right then, because that was about all Oz could stand.

Slick fingers inside him with a sudden thrust, and Oz flexes in shock that Giles doesn't start with just one, but then Giles has seemed to know exactly what Oz needed from the time he walked in the door. A revelation there that he decided to face -- this was exactly what he needed. Simple rules and someone else's strength, something else to believe in, and preferably in the form of long, strong fingers inside him, twisting him and fucking him into a newer (better) shape.

Giles replaced his fingers with his cock without a question, without even a moment's hesitation, and Oz tried to roll up on it further, thrust back, anything, but Giles was in to the hilt. And there was the pause, a long moment for Oz to feel exactly what he'd wanted and be tortured by it.

When Giles started to move Oz heard himself moaning and couldn't even begin to understand how to stop. Let his muscles stretch and groan with their own need and rocked back as much as he could on Giles' cock, Giles' hard, steady fuck that had his cock spitting pre-come all over his torso.

"Oh God so good --"

And Giles just kept on, silent and staring down at Oz, watching him take it, pulling and twisting on his nipples and moving faster, harder, still going, still so impossibly in control that Oz thought he could come just by knowing that. On and on until Giles finally took him in hand, the touch just as crippling as the first one and let his strokes go ragged and vicious.

Oz came yelling, briefly shifting before falling back, losing hold of his legs. Giles brought them to his shoulders and kept going, making Oz sob a little every time he hit his prostate until finally slamming in hard one last time and coming with a low groan.

Oz laid dazed, half-lidded and impossibly loose while Giles used a corner of the sheet to wipe them down. Smiling at Giles' smile and wondering when he'd be able to walk normally again. Giles settled in and pulled Oz close, breathing heat against the back of Oz's neck and just generally making it impossible to move.

He'd forgotten this feeling somewhere along the way, forgotten how absolutely necessary it was from the very first time something other than your own hand got you off. It was a good and frightening feeling, and one he wouldn't mind wearing under his clothes for a while.

Not a solution so much as a symptom of one.

Something to hold on to.