the pearl

Family History

Oz couldn't be bothered to do even his own homework, so he didn't know how he was expected to do another person's as well.

Not that he was actively being commanded to do Percy's homework — it just sort of happened. First, they were in the same class. Then, they both sat near the back. Then, the teacher noticed how neither of them paid attention. Then, she assigned a task to be done in pairs. Then, she assigned the two of them to work together.

Percy wasn't stupid — not particularly, compared to, say, Devon, or the guys on the swim team, or the other people Oz vaguely knew from the various backs of classrooms — but he wasn't exactly a quantum physicist either, and Oz, having been raised up by a number of brilliant yet eccentric (and unrecognized in their own time) scientists, doctors, and scholars, would know intellect. He sort of prided himself on it. But only sort of, 'cause it really didn't mean that much down the line.

Five PhDs in various sciences looked good on vellum, but it didn't mean that Grandpa Osbourne ever actually ever left his two-bedroom Fontana bungalow to accept that Nobel Prize he kept on telling his grandchildren was owed him. Not to mention Aunt Maureen's two unfinished dissertations, Aunt Annika's theory on real estate that she kept on swearing would be a book, and Oz's own novel, which his mother loved but would never see the light of a publishing company.

So Percy wasn't stupid, and Oz wasn't dumb, and both of them were in a class that, while it wasn't the super-brainiac history class of college credit and bragging points, it wasn't "This is time. It passes. You are older than you were" either. And as long as both of them got to sit in the back and focus on whatever else was more important (basketball for Percy and E Flat Diminished Ninth for Oz), they were happy.

Until this project came around. Paper and presentation, to be done together, about an event in the 1960s. Five pages on the paper, not including bibliography, photos, or title sheet, and a fifteen-minute, preferably multimedia, presentation.

Any other pair which had the same innate dislike of effort that these two shared would have been hard-pressed to even begin this project, much less actually see it to its conclusion. But, as luck would have it, Oz's grandmother Lina was a sociologist, who, in 1967, left her husband in Helsinki, moved to the Berkeley/San Francisco area with her five children, and not only wrote a number of books on the "flower child" generation, but had bequeathed to her youngest daughter, the only one to follow in her mother's academic footsteps, the entire archive she had built over the years.

So it was the day before the project was due when Oz and Percy found themselves in Oz's garage, going through a number of carefully labelled and indexed boxes, trying to find something good enough for a presentation.

Or at the very least, something they could crib from for their paper.

Oz rarely did homework, and Percy never did his, which was probably why, when it came down to it, Oz was hip-deep in "September 1968, interviews" and "April 1969, protest banners" and "June 1970, cooperative marketplaces, cafes, and shops, fliers and menus" and Percy was sitting on top of the washing machine, vaguely flipping through "August 1969, Womyn's Natural Collective photos".

"Oz," Percy said, pulling out photos and stacking them into neat little piles of an organization system Lina never would have approved of. "Your grandma took pictures of a bunch of naked chicks."

Oz looked up from the "Positive Protest Party" transcripts he had found. "She hung out with separatists for awhile. My uncle August had to live with the neighbors for a few months while Lina went to live there with the girls."

Percy frowned, not quite understanding, then shrugged it off when he saw the next picture of a naked girl. "Wow..." he said, tilting it slightly. "You can see everything in this pic..." He put it back into the box and pulled out the next one, frowning at it. "What the hell's this? It's all just some pink fleshy thing..." He showed it to Oz.

Oz looked up from the "Save The Head Shop Campaign" notes and squinted at the picture. "What's it say on the back?"

Percy flipped the photo over. "August 27th, 1969: Cervix viewing party, Lina Hentinen's cervix." Percy dropped the photo quickly. "Dude!" he said, backing away from the box.

"I'd forgotten she'd done that," Oz said calmly. "If you keep looking, somewhere in there, there should be my mother's and my Aunt Annika's too."

"Uh, no." Percy shuddered and opened up another box. "Aw damnit!" he shouted, pulling out a bright pink piece of paper. "This is just drawings of naked men! Why can't I find anything not freaky?"

Oz waded over and looked into the box Percy had just opened. "Oh yeah," he said. "After August came out, Lina moved into studying bath house culture. She was the first woman to do so...."

"Your family were fuckin' freaks, Oz..." Percy grumbled as he flipped through the crudely drawn pictures of naked man after naked man.

"They were cool."

"I don't know what kind of definition you give 'cool,'" Percy snarked, throwing the pictures back down into the box. "But in my book, taking pictures of your pussy and collecting pictures of naked men with enormous schlongs doesn't count as 'cool'."

Oz tilted his head, looking at Percy. "I don't know," he said after a few seconds. "But I know my definition doesn't include teenage boys who get hard-ons over pictures of 'naked men with enormous schlongs' who then have to insult a person's family in order to cover it up."

Percy dropped the box on the floor and quickly crossed his legs, staring at Oz. "What?"

"You heard me." Oz replied, still calm as ever.

Percy looked at him, then looked at the box, then back at Oz. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Oz's eyebrows raised. "So that your's because of me?"

Percy looked away. "What? No!" he stammered, blushing. "I don'!"

Oz gave him a look. "Huh."

"Seriously!" Percy glared at him.


Percy sighed heavily. "Okay, great, whatever. Give the basketball star a sexual crisis because it amuses you. What the fuck ever. But we've got a paper to write and a presentation to give, and all you've been doing is playing 'Osbourne Family Reunion' and I've got to get a good grade on this or else I'm off the fucking team, okay?"

Oz shifted slightly, moving from one row of boxes to the other, and was suddenly closer to Percy than he had been before. Almost too close. "Y'know," he said, looking down at his hands. "You're still a Junior, and you can take this class next year."

Percy stared at him in disbelief. "What?"

Oz reached up, cupped his cheeks, pulled Percy's face down to his level, and kissed him.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at