Cat Scratch Fever

Carefully, Xander lifted the last piece of equipment from Oz's van. And winced. "Ow."

"Are you okay? I'd hate for you to get hurt because Devon was too lazy to help unload."

Xander shook his head. "It's not this. Exactly." Gingerly, he moved one hand under the back of the neck of his shirt, sighing when he saw the blood on his fingertips.

"Xander! What happened?"

To Xander's amazement, Oz was actually concerned. "Anya."

"Um, okay. Sounds like a personal thing, so I can stop prying."

"No, it's not like that." The brunette smiled, slightly embarrassed at the situation. "She got a cat, and the thing decided to use me as a springboard." He shrugged, and the movement of the fabric against his wounds made him wince. "It will heal. Eventually."

"Have you put anything on it?"

"I put some Bactine on it." He frowned. "But it still itches. Burns. And it won't heal. It keeps breaking open whenever I move the wrong way."

"You're keeping it dry, aren't you?" Confused at Oz's parental tone, Xander nodded. "Okay, there's your problem. It gets dry, and then the skin cracks, so it never gets a chance to heal properly." Oz paused, trying to decide if he should offer assistance. Finally, he made a decision. "I have some Neosporin inside the house. That should help."

"Yeah?" Oz felt an odd stab of emotion at Xander's surprise. Xander was actually amazed that Oz cared enough to offer help, and that fact upset Oz. "That would be nice. Especially if you can make the pain go away."

Oz nodded. "So, inside. Where the stuff is. I'll be up as soon as I go haul Devon's ass out here to move everything in."


When Oz finally made it up to his room, he found Xander staring out the window, tugging the neck of his t-shirt down and away from his wounds. "Okay, ready?" Xander nodded. "It will probably be easier if you sit down since we seem to have a height difference here."

Glancing around the room, Xander observed a distinct lack of chairs. "Floor or bed?"

Oz shrugged. "Your choice." The younger man sat on the edge of the bed, and Oz kneeled behind him, antibiotic ointment in hand. "Okay, I can get this stuff all over your shirt, or you can take it off. Your choice."

Xander pulled his shirt over his head, hissing when the laundry tag brushed against his wounds, and Oz gasped. "Xander."

"I know. What a wimp, right? A couple of scratches, and I'm whining about my owies."

"Have you looked in a mirror? I mean, at your back in a mirror?"


"Up." Oz got off the bed and held out his hand, pulling Xander to a standing position. "Back to the mirror." Xander obeyed, his back to Oz's dresser with the mirror over it. Oz picked up a hand mirror and held it in front of Xander, angling it over one of Xander's shoulder. "Okay, now look."

"What..." He trailed off as he saw what Oz had reacted to. Angry red skin surrounding two three-inch-long gashes. "Whoa. No wonder it hurts."

Tentatively, Oz touched the inflamed skin. "It's hot. Back on the bed. I need more stuff." Xander obeyed, listening to Oz meander down the hall. "Dev? Got any of that sunburn stuff?" Rustling, then, "Thanks." Oz returned, holding up a bottle of blue gel. "Aloe vera with lidocaine. It should make that feel better." He took his place behind Xander once more. "Okay, this might sting a little, but it will be worth it in the end." Gently, Oz first applied first aid spray. Xander winced, his back jerking away from Oz. "Are you okay?"

Xander nodded. "It's cold. No big."

"Ah." Now Oz squeezed out a small amount of aloe gel. "This is going to be cold, too, but it should feel good once the lidocaine kicks in."

As Oz's fingers worked the gel into Xander's skin, the brunette sighed happily. "You have magic fingers, Oz."

Oz smiled, leaning closer to Xander's skin to get a better look at the ripped flesh. "Yeah?" When breath hit skin, Xander shuddered. "Oh, sorry. Are you okay?"

Xander nodded. "You're fine. I just didn't expect that. It didn't hurt. It was just a surprise."

"Good." Oz sat back for a moment, waiting for the gel to dry. "I could kiss it and make it better." To Oz's amazement, Xander shuddered again. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for."

They sat in silence for a long moment, Oz contemplating Xander's back, Xander contemplating Oz. Finally, Xander spoke, so quietly that Oz could almost believe it was his imagination. "That might be good."

Oz gazed at Xander's back for another long moment. Then, "Xan?"

And Xander's head dipped forward, presenting the back of his neck for Oz's perusal. And use. And just in case Oz was still unsure, Xander murmured, "Please?"

Carefully, Oz rested his hands on Xander's shoulders, thumbs extending toward the wounds. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea."

"Oz --"

"Germs, Xander." He paused. "But..."

And Oz lowered his mouth to Xander's shoulder.

After a few seconds of gentle sucking, Oz pulled away. "Okay?"

Xander shook his head and turned around to face Oz. "That was..."

"Inappropriate? Going over a line?"

But Oz's voice held uncertainty and embarrassment, and Xander shook his head. "Not enough." He reached for Oz's shoulders, attempting to pull the smaller man's body on top of his as he leaned back against the mattress.

But Oz pulled away, shaking his head. "No, Xander."

It was Xander's turn to be embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I just --"

"Wanted to get your nice, clean, open wound all embedded with fibers from my bed?" Oz grinned. "You'd make me redo all of my work?" Now he stretched out on his bed, his grin shifting to an uncertain smile.

Xander took a deep breath, hoping Oz's unease was due to the same reason as his own -- doubt about whether his actions would be well-received. Oddly, it calmed him to know that there wasn't some grand plan at work here. Both of them were just reacting to the situation as it happened.

"Xander? Are we okay?"

Oz's soft voice broke into Xander's reverie. "Huh? Oh, yeah. We're fine. I was just thinking."


Deliberately, Xander placed on hand on the mattress on either side of Oz's body. "About plans. How you can think one thing is going to happen, but it turns out to be something completely different."

"Yeah?" Oz lifted one hand, gently running a finger along Xander's arm. "And is this a good thing?"

Briefly, Xander considered questioning exactly what Oz meant by 'this,' but then he decided that it wasn't going to matter much. Xander was shirtless, and Oz was on his back, on his bed, between Xander's arms, fingers dancing along one of those arms. What else could he mean? Xander lifted the arm not currently being caressed by Oz, stroking his way under Oz's shirt and encountering surprisingly well-defined abdomen muscles, before he leaned down to capture Oz's mouth in their first kiss. "How could this possibly be bad?"