Halcyon And On And On

Xander paced across the warehouse floor, glaring at Angel, Doyle and Cordelia. "No. Absolutely not. No way, no how. Nuh-uh. Never gonna happen."

"But Xander--" Cordelia began, only to be cut off by an extravagant wave of Xander's arms.

"No, Cordy. I'm not gonna suck face with him," Xander paused to glare some more at Angel, "just to catch you some weird demon pervert."

Angel made a sound that was supposed to be a cough. It sounded, to Xander, suspiciously like a laugh. "I would never expect you to...'suck face' with me, Xander. Besides, Rosanntai will know I'm--"


"A vampire."

"Sucks for you. Bad pun intended, and I hope you choke on your not-laugh." Xander sat on the couch across from the increasingly unholy trio. "Why me?"

Doyle leaned forward and smiled at Xander. It wasn't a nice smile. It was, in fact, about as far from a nice smile as one could get. It was the type of smile that people like the Queen of Hearts used right before shouting, "Off with their heads!" Except in Doyle's case, he was much more likely to shout something rather obscene and demand a beer.

Cordelia hit him on the back of the head.

He yelped and turned to her. "What the bloody hell was that for?"

"Pre-emptive strike," she said calmly. Then..."Ow. Your head is really hard."

Xander cleared his throat. "Excuse me? Still wondering why I'm suddenly resembling a worm on a hook? Except without the hook, or the one intestine, or..."

Cordelia made a face. "Enough with the imagery already, geez. I still have nightmares about worms. For which I blame you entirely."

"I love you too, Cordy." Xander looked up at her, smiling in the middle of a truly wonderful pouting session. He frowned at Doyle, looked at Cordelia, frowned at Doyle some more. "I'm not making out with him either."

"I wouldn't try to seduce your humble self if my life depended on it."

"Oooh, kinked a nerve did I? Yay me." Xander lifted his arms in a little victory cheer. "So, if not the Dead Boys, who am I supposedly madly in hormonal season with?"

"So you'll do it?" asked Cordy, while behind her, Doyle muttered something that sounded like "I am not bloody dead and I'm not a sodding boy and--"

Cordelia turned her head slowly and looked at Doyle.

Doyle promptly shut up.

Xander tried not to bounce.

Angel just shook his head. "Oz," he said.

Xander blinked. "Whuh?"

"Hormone season," said Angel drily, "is supposed to be with Oz. He's the bait, really."

"Not me."

"No, not you."

"Why Oz?" asked Xander. "I mean, if this Roseanne--"

" Rosanntai."

"--guy can tell you're a blood sucking fiend, won't he be able to tell that Oz has chew-toys?"

Cordelia frowned slightly. "He will."

"Have chew toys?"

"Be able to tell," said Doyle. "He feeds on werecreatures. There's a pack of 'wolves down here that's asked for our help."

Xander sat up slowly. "So you're using Oz."

The three of them nodded.

"Oz could die because you're exposing him to this Rousseau--"


"--and you think this is a good idea? Have you all lost your minds?" Xander stood up and began pacing again. "He's my friend, guys. Danger is a bad, remember?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "You all used me as bait. What's the diff?"

"The diff is that you can hold your own. You're like Wonder Woman. Oz is like..."

Everyone waited patiently.

Xander frowned.

Everyone continued waiting patiently.

Finally, Xander said, "Oz is like...Bucky."

"Bucky," Doyle said. "Who, in the name of all that is good and right, is Bucky?"

"Well, see, Bucky was this sidekick guy back in the day, and well, he wasn't..." Xander waved a hand. "Y'know."


Xander and Cordelia turned to look at Doyle. Angel just laughed.


Doyle shook his head. "Never mind."

Xander sat back down. "So, okay, let me go on record as saying this is a really, really bad idea. He's my friend. Willow'd kill me if I let something happen to him."

Angel grimaced. "Willow would come back to haunt us all if we let something happen to him."

"Talked to her recently?" asked Xander.

"She showed up about a week ago." Cordelia smiled brightly. "Scared the hell out of Doyle when she walked through him."

Xander smiled a little. "She stays for him, y'know? Wants him to be happy."

"Does Oz know?" asked Angel.

"What? That Willow's ghost is sticking around till he's happy? Are you kidding? He'd shit a brick."

"Colorful. 'Shit a brick.' I like." Doyle nodded approvingly.

Everyone looked at Doyle. He shrugged and grinned.

Cordelia leaned forward and cupped Xander's cheek in her hand. "Xander...we'll all be there. Nothing will happen to him. We just need to draw Rosanntai out."

Angel stood and began to pace slowly, hands clasped behind his back. "All demons feed on something specific. Some of them feed on fear, or lust, or memory. Rosanntai feeds on shapeshifters."

"Their blood?" asked Xander.

"Not quite," said Doyle.

"He gets all Hannibal on them?" Xander made a face. "That's just plain disturbing."

Angel shrugged. "Demons tend to be that way. He draws them out, kills, and feeds."

Doyle continued. "He tends to pick the women and children. The ones that are smaller than him, in general. The werecreatures here are upset; they want him stopped."

Xander nodded. "I guess so."

"That's not it, though," said Cordelia. "He's been...uh...raising the stakes, I guess. Taking more than one at a time. Doyle guesses that it's sorta like an addiction, y'know? The more you take in, the more it takes to satisfy?"

"Right. That still doesn't explain why Oz. Or me."

"Oz is small enough to be non-threatening, and powerful enough to be attractive," said Doyle. "That's what the local alpha said, anyway."

"Oz? Powerful?"

"Alphic powerful. Potentially, anyway. We think it's 'cause he was made on the Hellmouth, and all that energy got absorbed." Angel leaned against the couch. "He's perfect for this. Rosanntai won't be able to resist going for him."

"That doesn't explain me, though."

"You're human," Doyle pointed out.

Xander rolled his eyes. "Gee, thanks, I hadn't noticed. Why not Cordy?"

"Rosanntai knows who I am. I ran him...well, nothing that matters. He knows me, is all." Cordelia pulled her hair up and fastened it into a messy bun. "Angel, I thought we talked about the air conditioning in here."

"We did, and the repairman is coming tomorrow." Angel smiled down at Cordelia, who made an impatient sound and headed for the kitchen. The vampire turned his attention back to Xander. "Rosanntai doesn't know you, and he'll think you're harmless."

"'Cause I'm human."


"Have you even asked Oz yet? He's not the type to walk right into a trap."

Angel nodded

"But why me?"

Cordelia returned, carrying a pint of Ben and Jerry's. "He asked for you."

Doyle shrugged. "My guess? He's lonely. You're a friend, and someone he trusts. He misses you. Maybe he likes you." He paused. "Though I wouldn't have thought that you were his type."

Xander snorted. "What do you know about him?"

"I know that when he gets drunk, he's incredibly friendly." Doyle smiled again. It still wasn't very nice. "I know that he thinks 'Bicycle Race' is one of the silliest songs in existence. I know that he likes hard cider rather than beer, and that he thinks shopping malls are minor circles of Hell. What do you know?"

"He spends a lot of time here, huh?"

"Yeah, I'd say he does."

"Oh." Xander looked down at his feet. "Okay. Fine. I'll do it."

Angel and Cordelia exchanged glances. Doyle just smiled, looking far too pleased with himself.

Xander glared at them all. " all just suck."


"So...what's your sign?"

Oz never looked up from his drink. "Will work for casual affection and or food."


"You may just be right." Oz turned his head slightly. "Hey, Doyle."

Doyle sat down on the empty stool to Oz's right. "Hey yourself. Everything's all set, and your friend is waiting impatiently over by the far wall."

"Cool." Oz lifted his drink. "Want?"

"I try not to drink anything that looks like a household cleaning agent, thanks."

"Your loss."

"I'm sure." Doyle frowned. "Are you sure about this?"

"Not really."

"You'll be careful."

"Always am."

"Hey." Doyle turned Oz gently. "I'm serious."

"I'll be careful. I promise." Oz smiled, sort of. "Don't worry."

"You do realize that you're not very convincing."

Oz smiled again, for real. "I've been told that."


Xander's foot was tapping a quick rhythm on the floor. The rhythm had nothing at all in common with the heavy bass beat pouring through the building, and it had even less to do with the image of aloof, yet sexy, indifference that he was trying to present to the world.

His foot stopped tapping.

His fingers started.

Fingers stopped. Foot started again. Oz was late.

Oz. Late.

Oz. Oz whose hand was covering his own. Oz who was looking at him and not-smiling, but Xander knew he was amused. It was all there, in the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, and in the way his mouth...twitched.

Mouth. Oz's mouth. Oh God.

It wasn't like he had thought about it before, 'cause he hadn't. It was just that...he was supposed to pretend to have a thing. For Oz. And that got him to thinking...well, not thinking, really. 'Cause thinking required blood heading toward the brain.

Thank you, no, Xander's blood said, I'm heading south for the duration. It's that season, y'know.

Oh God.



Oz smiled. Leaned closer. Xander's other hand started to tap, nervously. Oz covered that one, too. Smirked.

"Uh..." said Xander again. "Oz?"

"Wanna dance?"

"You dance?"

"Not in the strictest sense of the word. Or the loosest sense of the word. No." Oz shrugged. "But if it'll make you comfortable, I'll try."

Xander nodded eagerly. He needed time to stop dwelling on images that should never have found their way into his mind. It was all Doyle's fault, really. He had...implied things.

Bad things.

Things Xander had no business thinking about, much less getting jealous over. So Oz and Doyle were friends. It was no big. Really. He and Oz were friends. It was normal for two guys to be friends.

Friendly friends.

Oz got friendly when he was drunk.

Oh God.

It wasn't like Oz wasn't friendly normally. He was. He was just sorta distant to people who weren't Willow. And Doyle had almost smiled when he said friendly. Like he was being clever or something. Friendly could mean a lot of things. And Oz had asked for Xander to play the other part in his little drama.

Dancing was the ticket. Yeah. It was hard to think while dancing.

They made their way out onto the dance floor, moving to the beat almost unconsciously. Well, Xander was moving to beat. Oz was already off in his own little world, floating along, moving gracefully.

Xander watched, still moving to the beat, feeling the bass thump under his feet and in the air. But he watched Oz, mostly.

A person moved between them, blocking Xander's view for a few moments.

When the person moved away, Xander had to stop himself from fainting in shock.

Oz wasn't in his own little world. No, he was very much in the real world. In some random person's arms. They weren't dancing.

The word that sprang immediately to mind was "indecent." The next word was much shorter.

Oz's head was tilted slightly back, his eyes half closed.

The person -- Xander couldn't tell if it was a guy or a girl, though, from the way the person's hips were moving against Oz, he was going to guess guy -- was smiling. Not the normal smile of, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna get some tonight," but a harsh smile. One that was more like a cat playing with some helpless animal.

Xander kept moving, further and further from the beat, and he caught sight of Angel and Doyle on the edges of the crowd. They looked worried. Scratch that, they looked scared.

He turned his attention back to the couple in front of him. They were still moving together, and Xander could see the pseudo-guy's mouth near Oz's ear, whispering something. Oz opened his eyes finally, looking hazy and unfocused.

Something was not right in the merry old land. Not right at all.

Xander pushed his way forward, pushed against Oz's body, glared at the person. "He's taken."

Oz's hands came up to grip Xander's arms and he swayed slightly.

The pseudo-guy held up his hands and backed away, but not before whispering something else to Oz. Then he was gone, and Xander was left with a surprisingly heavy armful of woozy werewolf.

"What the hell was that, huh?"

Oz sat heavily on the park bench, head between his knees as he fought down nausea. "Dunno."

Xander was pacing in front of Oz, gesturing wildly. "You two were out there practically going at it on a crowded dance floor and then you faint when he goes away. You knew something."

"It. Not he. And that was Rosanntai." Oz lifted his head, looked blearily at Xander and winced. "Stop moving. I feel sick."

"Don't throw up on me."

"I'll try."

Xander nodded and sat next to Oz. "So that was the Hannibal of the werewolf set?"

"I think. He wasn't human, whatever he was." Oz sat up carefully. "Thanks."

"No prob. What happened?"

"Got caught being fuzzy. Shouldn't have. He took advantage." Oz shrugged. "I lost sight of you for a sec, everything went weird, and then I wanted to go with the him, and it felt really good." He opened his eyes, staring up at the sky. "I would have gone with him, Xander."

"That would've been bad."

"I'd really have to agree."

Xander watched the musician-turned-reluctant-werewolf. "Come on. We'll get you back to Angel's. You look like hell."

"Oh good. Then at least I look how I feel." Oz stood up and immediately fell to his hands and knees in the damp grass. Slowly, his hands slid out from under him and he ended up on the ground, breathing heavily.

Xander knelt beside him, worried. "What's wrong?"

"The ground here is nice and soft," Oz whispered. "I think I'll maybe stay here a sec."

"Oz, we have to get up and go, okay?" Xander touched Oz's back, worried about how the other boy's words had been slurred.

Oz didn't answer.

"Oz?" Xander shook him. "Oz!"

No answer.

This wasn't good. This was about as far from good as it was possible to get. Xander swore quietly and looked around. The pseud from the club was standing in front of them. Only, he was less pseud and more demon. Xander swallowed past the dryness in his throat, and tried to pretend that his shoulders weren't tense enough to be used as a battering ram. "Wow, you got real ugly."

"He's mine," Rosanntai said quietly.

Xander winced. The demon's voice was sharp, cutting like broken glass. No wonder Oz was sick.

Rosanntai glided forward, and Xander moved to stand in front of Oz's body. He prayed that Angel, Cordy and Doyle were nearby. Stood his ground.

The demon hissed, and there was blood trickling into Xander's eyes, and a sharp sting on his forehead. Not good at all.

A word, a sound, and Xander was on his knees, hands pressed against his ears. Another sound and Xander was agreeing that the ground in front of the park bench was indeed very soft and pleasant to lie on.

There were shoes in front of him. Heavy black boots, actually. The industrial strength kind that could like, kick a door in. He followed the legs up, and up, and up.

Oz was on crack. The pseud was a he, not a doubt about that.

Xander struggled up, moving to give Oz as much protection as he could. It wasn't a whole lot.

After a few more moments, it wasn't anything at all.


Xander came awake with a shout, reaching out beside him only to find an expanse of empty bed. Not grass. Not damp, nice-to-lie-on grass.

And not a skinny little body in need of protection.

"Oz left," said a voice beside Xander.

He turned. Cordelia sat calmly in the chair by Xander's bed, smiling faintly. "Where'd he go?"

She shrugged. "He disappears sometimes."

"Yeah, I got that part." Xander rubbed his head. "Is he all right, at least?"

"I don't know, Xander. He was gone before I woke up. Doyle said he looked fine."

Doyle again. It had been bad enough before, when it was only Angel that was his rival for the girls' affections. Then Oz, and then, weirdly, Spike. Whatever. Xander was used to not being sole contender for the girls.

But it was definitely a new experience to have a rival for a guy's attention.

Come on now, Harris, be honest. You wouldn't give a damn if it were Angel and you know it.

Okay, fine. It was Oz's attention that he missed. Oz who had been his friend. Oz who didn't even want to stay long enough to say goodbye. Xander sighed loudly.

Cordelia tilted her head, looking at him critically. "He'll be back, you know."

"Don't care."

"Sure, and I don't care that you don't care. But he will be back."

Xander picked at the bedspread. "I'm going back to Sunnydale. I should get dressed."


"It was nice seeing you again Cordy."

Cordelia frowned. "And we'll have to do it again soon?"

"Duh." Xander stood quickly, tugging the sheet along with him as he made his way to the restroom. "I'll come back and visit, I swear."

"Are all guys idiots, or am I just special?" asked Cordelia.

Xander grinned. "You're something special all right, Cordy."

She laughed. "I'm devious, too."

"Bye, Cordy."

"I've seen you naked. In speedos, anyway."

"Bye Cordelia."

"Fine, be that way." Cordelia walked over to Xander, touching his cheek lightly. "Don't give up on him, Xander. He's still your friend."

He got dressed slowly, wondering what he was going to do back in Sunnydale. Other than survive. He had the sneaking suspicion that it was going to involve a lot of chocolate, and more than likely, a lot more alcohol.

All over a guy. A guy.

There was something very seriously wrong with the world.

Of course, he knew that already.

Xander sighed. There were times when he thought that someone was having a very long, very elaborate, very morale-sucking joke at his expense.

"You're an idiot."

"And the joke just keeps going and going..." said Xander as he turned to face his newest "friend."

Doyle leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed and looking menacing. Or as menacing as he could look. Which wasn't very. "You are, you know."

Xander made a face.

"An idiot," Doyle clarified, as if that hadn't been perfectly obvious the first time. "You both are."

Well, at least he was an equal opportunity insulter.

"Jealous?" asked Xander.

Doyle laughed. "Of you and Oz? God, no. But I will impart wisdom."


"Hush, child."

"Don't call me that."

"I'm older than your country. I can call you bloody thing I want." Doyle sighed and moved to sit on the bed. "Anyway, I'm going to help you out, because otherwise your dead friend won't leave me alone."

"And again," Xander said, buttoning his shirt, "I say goody."

"Ask him why he wanted you to be around." Doyle looked at Xander sharply. "If that doesn't work, jump him."

"You're just a fount of knowledge."

"I try." Doyle stood. "Remember. Talk to him."

"Or jump him."

"Exactly. Maybe you aren't hopeless."

Xander watched him leave, then muttered, "Ass."


Oz was waiting for him in Sunnydale.

Xander watched him carefully as he emerged from the stupid little tunnel that led from the stupid little plane to the stupid little airport.

Xander really hated plane flights. It was most of the reason he'd driven cross country after high school. There was something about them -- sitting in the cramped little stupid seats, not getting food, paying way too much money, stuff like that -- that just got on his nerves. So he wasn't in the best of moods.

Seeing Oz just added confusion to the simmering mass of anger, crankiness, and suppressed hormones that was Alexander Harris at that moment.

Xander hefted his bag. Lifted his head. Glared.

Oz had the good grace to look...bland.

It was deliberate. Xander knew it. It was all a deliberate plot to drive him completely insane.

Oz stood as Xander got closer, still looking determinedly calm. "Hey," he said softly.

"Why did you want me?" Well, that was blunt. Xander kicked himself. He had meant to do the guilt thing that he had picked up from Willow. Then he thought, "Forget that, it takes too much effort," and settled for a meaningful glare.

Shockingly, it didn't work.

"I missed you."


Oz sighed, looked at Xander tiredly, and said, "I'll tell you later."

"No, you will tell me now. I'm tired of having everyone but me know what's going on." Xander was ready to drop his bag to the ground and throw down. That's what flying did to a guy.

Oz looked at him calmly. "You don't want me to get into it here. Trust me."

"Why? Are you gonna throw me down and behave like an animal?"

"I am not an animal." There was something in Oz's tone that any person with half an ounce of sense would have taken as a warning.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Xander's last half ounce of sense had been used up on the plane, during his adventure with the logistics of using the plane's single, cramped restroom.

Words were exchanged.

Doyle would have killed them both.

They ended up glaring at each other and not saying anything. Somehow, the silence was worse. Xander sat in Oz's van, staring out the window at the really boring landscape. He just wanted to go home and sulk, and forget the past few days had ever happened.

Oz pulled the van to a stop outside Xander's apartment building. "I wanted you."

"Yeah, and?"

"And nothing. I asked for you because I wanted to see you." Oz looked at the steering wheel. "I'm sorry you got hurt. I would never have brought you into it if I thought that would happen."

"Oh." Xander blinked. "Why didn't you just...visit or something?"

Oz's mouth twitched. "I didn't think of it."

"You're kidding."

Another twitch: almost a smile. "No, I'm not."

"You've got to be kidding." Xander turned to face Oz. "No one makes up an elaborate undercover scene just to see a friend."

Oz looked at Xander calmly. "I don't kid."

"You lie."

Oz didn't smile, quite. "I have no sense of humor."

Xander did smile. "You're so full of it."

"I'm insulted." He still didn't smile. "I am full of nothing. I'm totally, utterly innocent. And humorless. I am the human equivalent of oatmeal."

"Come inside before I smack you."

"You're so butch," said Oz. Still not smiling.

Xander looked at him.

"Have I mentioned what a turn-on that is?" Oz smiled then, brightly.

"You are so weird."

"It's part of my charm."

"I guess." Xander slid out of the van. "Coming?"

"I'd like that."

Xander smiled at Oz, feeling peaceful. "So would I."