"Let me paint your fingernails?"

For one brief second, Xander's expression made Oz think he was about to accept, but then the younger teen shook his head. "You might be able to get away with that, but I can't."

"If you think your friends --"

"It's not them." He sighed. "It's not them, and it's not you. It's..."

"Your parents." Oz finished the sentence Xander couldn't seem to be able to complete for himself. Xander nodded. From the beginning, Oz had decided to let Xander draw the lines with occasional prodding to step outside his comfort zone, and this was one of the areas that the musician had decided was off-limits for his pushing. Every time the subject of parents came up, Oz felt his stomach clench -- not out of pity but in defense of the younger teen. The fact that Oz could do nothing to help unnerved him to the point of nausea. "Okay. Subject dropped. I'm sorry." Oz rubbed one of his thumbs over his other thumbnail. Then he smiled. "How about your toenails?"

"My toenails?" Xander blinked at the sudden completely unexpected direction the conversation was taking. "Why?"

"Why not? I mean, do you spend a lot of time barefoot? At least at home?" Xander shook his head, and Oz grinned, leaning closer to Xander's ear. "Don't you wonder what it would be like?"

"What what would be like?" But Xander's breathing had sped up, and his eyes were becoming nice and glassy. Just the way Oz liked them. That was one of the signs he looked for that indicated that Xander's mind wasn't on conversation.

And so Oz pulled away from Xander, moving to his dresser and digging through one of the drawers. "I think... Scream."

"Uh, scream? Is that an order or a threat or something?"

"What? Oh, no." Oz held up a small bottle. "This company has weird color names. Plague, Uzi, Roach, and this. It was made to go with the movie Scream. For the MTV Movie Awards or something like that." He tossed the bottle to Xander. "Check it out. Will that be okay?"

Xander examined the polish. Black with silver glitter. A bit on the weird side, but, then again, he was going to be letting a guy paint his toenails. Weirdness seemed to be the theme of the day. "Sure."

"Oh, please, don't sound so enthusiastic." But Oz was grinning. He was fully aware that this was completely new territory for Xander, so some trepedition was to be expected. He paused, considering his other polish options before grabbing a bottle of top coat and moving back to his bed. "Okay, shoes and socks off." When Xander did not follow his direction, Oz frowned. "Second thoughts?"

"Not exactly." Now Xander flushed. "More like feet stuck in shoes all day."

"Ah." The grin returned. "Well, there are ways to fix that."


"Hang on a few minutes." Oz made a detour to the kitchen, finding and filling large plastic bowls with warm water. He returned to his room and placed them on the floor. "Okay. Shoes and socks off." Xander obeyed, shifting so his feet were dangling above the floor. Oz moved one bowl under Xander's feet. "Now in the water while I go get some towels." Once again, Xander did as requested, and Oz ducked back out of his room, gathering towels, soap, and a few other items he wasn't quite sure what to do with. Task complete, he carefully made his way back to his bedroom, placing all items on the floor beside the bowls of water. He sat down on the floor in front of Xander, gently tugging one foot out of the water. "Just let me know if this tickles, okay?" And he went to work, carefully massaging soap into the skin on the top of Xander's right foot. When he shifted his attention and began rubbing the bottom of Xander's foot, he heard a soft thump and looked up, alarmed at the noise. "Xan? Are you okay?"

Xander was no longer sitting upright. Xander had fallen back and was staring at the ceiling. "Fine." He lifted his head from the bed and grinned at Oz's concerned expression. "You can just go back to what you were doing."

The concern faded from Oz's face and was replaced with a sort of smug glee. So Xander was enjoying this just as much as Oz was. How tragic. He carefully rinsed the soap off of Xander's right foot before toweling it dry and repeating the process with the left foot. Then he stood.

"What? That's it?" A disappointed Xander sat upright at the head of the bed and pulled his feet up to join the rest of his body. "Time to paint?"

"Not quite." Oz took his place on the opposite end of his bed, pulling Xander's feet onto his lap. "There are still a few things to do first." He leaned over the side of the bed, grabbing the things he had dropped on the floor and then forgotten about in his desire to get his hands back on those appendages now resting on his thighs. The first thing he decided to do was trim. There was no sense putting that nice polish on uneven toenails. He deliberately focused on said toenails, carefully avoiding inadvertantly cutting the flesh. He frowned at the rough edges left by the blades of the clippers and picked up an oversized emery board to smooth the problem areas away.

"Oz?" The older teen lifted his eyes to Xander's and observed uneasiness. "Um, just in case you didn't know, this is really nice." Xander cleared his throat and shifted on the bed. "I mean, really, really nice."

Oz's grin just widened. "Good."

"But I thought I'd warn you that I'm beginning to think of a movie."

Satisfied that no jagged edges remained, Oz placed Xander's feet on his own thighs and leaned back, supporting his weight with his arms. "What movie, Xan?"

Xander swallowed and blinked. Oz just continued to gaze at him, self-satisfied smirk still in place. "Bull Durham."

"You actually sat through that movie?"

"Bits and pieces on tv. But I saw enough for this to make me think about it."

"Really." Oz sat back upright and lifted Xander's right foot from his thigh. "And why is that?"

"Well, you know." He gasped when Oz abruptly leaned down and placed an incredibly sloppy kiss on Xander's sole. No, correction, Oz placed his lips there and then proceeded to lick the bottom of Xander's foot, gentle laps from heel to toe that ended with Oz's tongue carefully prodding their way between Xander's toes. Finally, he turned his face, rubbing the sole of Xander's face with his stubbly cheek. "Uh, never mind. I forgot what I was saying."

"Good boy." Oz lifted the foot in his hand to his shoulder, depositing one more kiss on the ankle before turning his attention to the left foot still resting on his thigh. Xander watched, prepared for more of what he had just been given. But instead of lavishing more attention on the portion of Xander's body that took the most physical abuse, Oz licked Xander's big toe, tilting his head so he was gazing up at the brunette through lowered eyelashes as he deliberately sucked that toe. He wasn't quite sure he wanted to look at Xander directly, but he really, really wanted to ses how this was affecting the other teen. Encouraged by the expression of pure bliss, he released the big toe and moved on to the next two digits. Now his eyes fell shut, teeth gently scraping skin -- until the toes in his mouth moved. His eyes shot open, but before he could think of something to say, his gaze fell on Xander. The brunette was leaning back, resting on his elbows, dark eyes fixed on Oz. Suddenly, Oz realized that things could get very intense -- that is, even more intense than they already were -- very quickly. As much as he wanted that to happen, he was certain that Xander was anything but ready for it. He may have thought he was ready, but Oz wanted to make sure before doing anything more.

And so he released the foot that had been the object of worship. "Huh?" A dazed Xander attempted to remember how to protest. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Oz picked up a small pink bottle. "Just need to get moving here. It's going to take a while for the polish to dry." As he spoke, he opened the bottle and squeezed out a small amount of minty lotion and began rubbing it into Xander's feet, carefully avoiding getting any on Xander's toenails. He knew from experience that oils on nails made for a bad manicure. Or pedicure, as the case may be.

And Xander fell back against the mattress, sighing. "You're forgiven." Then Oz rubbed a certain spot just a little bit more forcefully, and Xander moaned. "Oh, man, Oz, I think we should rethink this going out tonight thing. We could just hang out here."

"Oh, really?" He released the foot in his hand and turned his attention to the one still on his shoulder, repeating the massaging process. "And why is that?" He repeated the hard rub once more and grinned at Xander's extremely happy sound. "Do you like that?"

"Oh, yeah." Xander sighed. "You know, you have really strong hands."

"So is that good?"

"Very good."

Once again calling on all of his self-control to keep himself from launching himself at the beautiful and astoundingly trusting body sprawled on his bed, Oz removed his hands from Xander's feet once more and picked up the black-and-silver polish. "Okay, now you have to keep still. No squirming unless you want a nice black streak up your leg. That's a major waste of polish." Xander nodded his agreement, and Oz began. The smaller toes received tender dabs, and the larger toes were treated to long, careful strokes. He topped the polish with a thin layer of quick-dry topcoat. Toenails now coated with varnish, Oz placed Xander's feet back on his thighs. "Now we wait."

"Wait? For what?"

Oz waved his hand over Xander's feet. "Um, wet paint, remember?"

"Oh." Xander considered the information and frowned. "So you're just going to sit there and wait?"

"Yeah, I am." He turned his eyes to Xander's ankles. "Or I could do this." He gently scratched the skin hidden by the hem of Xander's pants.

"That works."

"I could do this, too." Oz lifted Xander's left foot and blew on the toenails attached. "Speeds up drying."

"That works, too."

Finally, Oz decided that enough time has elapsed, and he gingerly touched the polish to determine if it was dry or if it required a bit more time. "Okay. You're done." He picked up Xander's socks, carefully tugging them back onto the brunette's feet before handing over shoes. "Let's go get some dinner."