In Too Deep

It was raining when Oz set off for the final stretch of his journey to Sunnydale. He sighed and switched on the wipers. He hadn't eaten any breakfast that morning; he hadn't been able. His stomach felt tight and he was almost nauseous at the thought of going back. From fear, or excitement, or apprehension, he couldn't say. Of course, it might have been the sight of the contents of the motel breakfast buffet, which appeared to have been reheated for the sixth day running...


Xander and Oz lay in each other arms in the afterglow. Oz traced his fingers along Xander's collarbone, his head resting against the other man's shoulders. Neither said anything; there was no need. The sun cast a sliver of golden light across the room from the gap between the curtains. The only sounds were the distant swooshes of the highway traffic, and the soft noise of breathing. It was a moment that both lasted forever and yet was too short.

Finally, suddenly, Oz shifted and swung his legs off the bed. He glanced at Xander, saying only, "Shower," before heading into the en-suite bathroom. Xander smiled as he saw Oz's retreating ass. Then, the smile faded, to be replaced with a much more troubled expression.

For a moment, the hiss of the shower interrupted Xander's thoughts as he entertained the idea of joining Oz. No, his conscience told him, that would only make things worse. As if they weren't about to get worse anyway.


"SUNNYDALE: 75km" the sign said, as Oz drove his car wearily past it. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky, casting long shadows, and making Oz squint as it dazzled him. At least the rain had stopped. The idea that he was so close to Sunnydale scared the lycanthrope, and he was very tempted just to turn the Chrysler around and head back home.

He caught himself. He was already going home. To return to Canada would just be running away, again. And the prodigal werewolf had to return sometime.


"Oz..." began Xander, reluctantly.

"Mmf?" Oz replied from beneath his towel. He stood in the doorway to the bathroom, drying his hair, letting water dribble down his body and onto the carpet.

"It's, uh, been four weeks since you left Sunnydale, you know."

"And?" Oz said, beginning to dry his arms.

"Well, you told Will you'd only be away for a month. She'll be wondering what I've done with you." Xander pulled the sheets up around him as he sat upright in the bed.

Oz stopped drying and wrapped the towel around his waist, before moving over to the bed. "I don't want to leave," he said, and sat down, putting his arms around Xander's neck. He looked into Xander's eyes and was dismayed when Xander almost immediately broke the gaze.

"You have to go, Oz." Xander whispered, as if he didn't want Oz to hear. However, even without Oz's wolf-enhanced hearing it was audible enough. He kept his eyes downcast, avoiding Oz's face. The hands dropped.

"I have to go?" Oz echoed as if Xander had spoken in Dutch.

"This is getting too serious. And -- if you haven't forgotten -- you're going out with Willow. Not me." This comment made Oz wince, and Xander ran a hand through his hair, nervously. "I'm sorry, Oz, but you seem to think that this is, like, going somewhere."

Xander bit his lip as the other man's shoulders slumped. Oz suddenly seemed much smaller; his gaze now fixed on the floor. After a moment, Oz whispered, flatly, "It isn't?"

"Hey, the last few weeks have been fun. But all good things..."

"Quit with the platitudes, Xand. I would have thought that a lifestyle change like this might qualify for something a bit more than ‘fun.'" There was an edge to Oz's voice now.

"Cordy and I have been over for a long time, and the only other female in Sunnydale who shows me any interest lists the painful death of men as a favourite hobby. My little black book doesn't even qualify as a pamphlet. Above all, I'm 18. You do not turn down sex at 18. Sure, it made me acknowledge something about me that only Larry had seen before, but I have not suddenly become Big Gay Xander."

"Then what do we do when you get back to Sunnydale?"

"What's to do? You go out with Willow, I lust after Buffy, Giles loves his books. Life carries on as normal."

"Xander! I can't pretend that this summer didn't happen!" Oz cried.

"Why not? Oz, how could we be together when you go back to Sunnydale? What, do you think that when Willow finds out her best friend and her boyfriend are fucking she'll be cool? Do you think Buffy isn't going to maim us both horribly for breaking her best friend's heart? That Willow won't turn us both into frogs?"

"She'd understand, if we love each other." Oz said, quiet again.

"I am not Big Gay Xander, Oz. I don't want to be. And I'm a part of the Scooby Gang. I belong. I don't want to risk losing that."

"Xander, I love you."

"I don't."

With that, Xander got up and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He got into the shower and switched it on. As the water began to course down, he buried his face in his hands. In the bedroom Oz had slumped off the bed onto the floor. Salt tears trickled down his face and onto the towel.


It was dark by the time Oz reached Sunnydale. He pulled up at the front of the High School, now rebuilt from its explosive encounter with Buffy and the Mayor-demon six years previously. Oz stepped out of the car and sat down on one of the ubiquitous stone benches and stared into space. He was finally back in Sunnydale.

A few moments later another person sat down on the bench next to Oz.

"Long time no see," said the stranger.

"Surely it's not that long for you," replied Oz.

"Long enough. So what brings you to Sunnydale? The wedding, I suppose."

"Yeah, that." Oz turned to face Angel, "And I need to speak to a few people. You fancy a coffee?"

"Let's go," said Angel, as he stood up.

Oz looked up at the vampire. "I've a feeling I can talk to you."