Feeling I've Been

And waking up is, OK, definitely not the least painful thing Xander has ever done. Just uncurling from where he's been pinning Oz all night is bad enough. His neck is screaming, and sitting up starts a whole chorus.

A mental note: Beer and come, given time to hang around in his mouth overnight, is a thing of great evil.

Another: There are consequences to being fucked unconscious by a jealous werewolf.

Xander doesn't bother muffling too many of his groans, knowing Oz woke up the second Xander's breath or heart rate or something changed. Oz is, in fact, watching him in that I'm-thinking-too-many- thoughts-already way that Xander just wants to kiss away.

So he does, closed mouth, because he can't quite get used to Oz liking his morning breath. Rimming him is fine. Morning breath is a whole 'nother story and since he's already kissing he might as well just nuzzle down a bit. Oz's skin is this smooth, pale needed thing. Not quite a mystery, but still not something Xander can get enough of.

Moving down the chest, resting his lips there long enough to kiss Oz's heartbeat, and down to Oz's belly. Smooth, and almost, but not quite, freckled. Like the freckles maybe need a bit more sunshine before they can resolve into anything more than different palenesses just under the milky skin. Oz is moving beneath him now, brushing at Xander's ears and shifting, breathing in those big gulps of air that Xander knows means that he's being thoroughly examined.

Xander wonders if his dreams ever sweat themselves out in a way that Oz can understand. If Oz can feel the tiny nut of doubt, like a tangle of half-living roots, that's under everything. He'd dreamed of Giles, touching him, and laughing together with him, and Oz staying aside, distant and elsewhere. Unsubtle unconscious mind, anxiety dreams needed no symbolism in the Xander brain and.

And. Can't seem to keep him mind on the warm skin beneath his palms, the brush of Oz's eyelashes against his cheeks.

And Oz knows it, tugs Xander back up and gives him an Oz special. Treating Xander's mouth like a wonderful meal, like a plate to be licked clean, and the only thing to do is let him. It's not like Xander can honestly be said to mind Oz's kisses, especially when they make Oz hold him like this.

Casually... possessive. Free hand unerringly finding the sorest muscles and rubbing them loose again.

Finally just pushing Xander face down to the sleep-warm sheets and giving him a short but remarkably efficient rub-down. Strong, small hands with guitar calluses. Human hands with a lot of history that doesn't include Xander, but touch him with the same care and endless hunger as the half-paws.

Xander glances at the clock, realizes with some surprise that he's still early. Weird side effect of getting drunk for him -- waking up as soon as he's fully sober.

Which, if it gets him this kind of treatment, is very, very nice.

"Mmmm, Oz... you're way too good at this."

"So I've been told. Luckily, I only use my powers for good."

"That's a... ohh. That's a relief. I don't suppose you're going to be able to do anything about the fact that I won't be sitting down very much today."

An utterly unrepentant "sorry."

Xander can hear the smile, and smiles back, eyes falling closed again to just feel it. Warmth spreading everywhere under his skin, body loosening and relaxing and Oz is just good. Someone to be cared for, and cherished, and protected. Frightening and exhilarating to be given the chance to actually make a difference in the life of someone Xander feels that way about.

Xander silently promises them both to make it work.


"Present and accounted for, sir."

"Are you worried that I won't respect what you want? That I'll bite you anyway?"

Which is completely out of left field. "Uh... no. Should I be?"

Oz scooting down the bed, resting on top of him. Soft voice next to ear. "No. I won't... I won't do it unless you say it's all right."

"OK. That is, not 'OK, bite me,' but 'OK, I trust you.' Um."

"I love the way laughter and fear are wound together with you, that I can smell your humor and your worry together." Kissing him lightly on the shoulder. "You're the only person I've ever met like that."

"You'll find your friendly neighborhood Xander comes equipped with many unique features."

"Including this worry that I keep smelling on you." Another kiss, then Oz sliding off to Xander's side, still stroking long and soft down his back.

"Including the worry. What worry?"

"The one I can smell."

"Oh, that worry."

Vaguely demanding hand resting on the back of Xander's neck. Eye to eye, both of them having pushed the pillows aside for being too warm. "Let me help."

And it's too early for this kind of thing, and Xander doesn't want to start anything huge, doesn't want to do. Anything but tell Oz the truth, all the time. Because hiding is impossible, and... almost like a sacrilege. Breaking this something that they have where everything is all wide open, even the dark, shady corners where Oz sometimes wants to eat Xander, and Xander sometimes wants to let him, so.

"I want you to be a part of my life, Oz. My whole life."


"I mean. I mean I want you to be a part of this new open friendship thing I'm having with Anya, and... Giles."

Oz pulls his hand away, turns on his back. "Giles wants you."

"He really likes you, too." And also maybe wants to see your dick, but hey, maybe Xander doesn't need to say that out loud so he just waits, watches.

"I wish I could take you north again. Hold you against the cold. It's quieter, there... less evil."

"I like it here, Oz." Reaching over to throw an arm over Oz, kiss his ribcage.

"I know. Hence the slight melancholy of the wish."

"Giles and I were thinking, maybe get together tonight. You're not working too late again, right?"

"I don't have to be."

"You know, Giles plays guitar. Sings, too."

Oz smiles. "Matchmaker Xander. I didn't know Giles sang."

"He's good. Almost scary good. It's this, I don't know, his voice is like something metal, and liquid."


"Too liquid."



"I want you all to myself, Xand."

"I... I'm beginning to realize that."

"Sometimes I wonder what it might've been like if I'd met you first. God, all I saw was Willow."

"Me, too... too late, though. She's... bright."

Silence for a while. Holding on and Oz is still just so clear. Still oxygen. Xander kisses his chest again for it, and Oz is playing with his hair again.

"Is Giles good?"

Xander breathes, squeezes briefly. "You're not asking about musical things, are you?"

"Maybe in a figurative sense. But no."

"Yeah. He's... he's pretty good for a human."

Oz smiling at him. "Those humans'll surprise you."

"Wily things. All with the breathing and no fangs."

"Much too little hair."

"Bald, bald monkeys. Ook. Oooook."

"But not the kind with those weird neon butts."

"No. Well. Not often, anyway."

"Xander, I don't know if I can handle you having a neon butt."

"Well, that's not very tolerant of you, is it?"

Laughing then, and Xander loves the way Oz's eyes crinkle when he does that. Just one more show-you-everything moment. Warm, warm, warm.

And, OK, it's starting to get to the time when Xander has to get out of bed. There's no way he can get justify not showering today. Oz may like his sex funky goodness, but there just aren't enough Xander-loving werewolves in the world.

But it doesn't stop being nice to be here, just because a long day of manly construction work is calling.

"I like being here with you, Xander."

"I like having you here."

"It's this really intense like, you know? Sort of the apotheosis of like. A like that can't be any more like than it is."

"Wow. Weird valley girl philosophy texts."

"Ecce Dude."

"Whoa and Superwhoa."

"The Origin of Bodacious."

And rolling over on top of Oz because he has to. Kiss him and touch him and tickle him and laugh. And kiss and laugh, too.

By the time it ends, it's well past time to get going. The shower is fast, the breakfast is a cold Pop-Tart, the clothes are thrown on with even more blindness than usual.

And work is a long, heavily muscular process about heh heh, must be dating a vampire, eh Harris? And being severely tempted to correct the guys, but settling for taking his ribbing like a man. And the thought: North would mean it being cold enough for things like turtlenecks. But maybe too cold to be able to come out everyday and look at things like this:

Buildings happening, where no buildings were happening before. And if it's weird that the Sunnydale population is increasing enough for new housing, then hey, that wacky new economy is sure moving right along. Someone's gonna live here, in this house that Xander knows, deep inside, will stand until the next apocalyptic disaster, at least.

Maybe some happy children sleeping in this very room where he's laying the wiring. Dreaming about kindly construction workers.

Or not.

Doesn't have to be about demonic activity.

Though Xander sometimes wonders about the foreman. Never takes that hardhat off. Not ever. Probably lots of little horns under there. But he's a nice enough guy, so Xander doesn't mind.

A bunch of them ride into Sunnydale proper for lunch, hit the Zuma diner, which has the least surfer-like clientele Xander has ever seen. What it does have is stuff like home fries, and big yellow eyeball looking eggs. He doesn't manage to entirely refrain from making them beg not to be blinded, but Steve, the new kid, laughs, so that's OK.

And Leon-the-maybe-demon-foreman says, "Watch out for Harris, kid, he's a fucking nutjob." In the nicest way possible, and the other guys laugh, reach over the bench dividers to slap him on the back.

Xander says: "They're just jealous of my relationship with Gracie."

Which brings out another wave of laughter, because Gracie is the world's oldest, largest, and heaviest jackhammer, leaving the burliest construction workers feeling shaky and violated. Every new guy gets stuck with Gracie as soon as possible.

And it all makes for a nice early afternoon that segues into a nice mid-afternoon, where he's instructed to buy knee pads and bows his head in front of Leon, and begs him to be gentle.

Ducks the flying hardhat, which, as it turns out, is hiding nothing more serious than the reddest red hair Xander has ever seen on a Black man.

Xander says, "Wow."

Leon says, "Genetics is a funny thing."

As it turns out, Leon is sending him over to the other main site tomorrow, so he can learn how to lay tile.

Which sends a little zing to Xander's brain that later he realizes means he's getting closer. To that thing he's supposed to be doing with at least this part of his life. And he can see it, making patterns with different colored tiles, making floors into puzzles, pictures...

Like how he'd always taken the crayon and divided the page into lots of looping segments which each earned a different color.

Even if he only did that to give himself lines he could stay within.

And Oz, when Xander gets home, supplies the word mosaic.

Together they muse on Xander's rejection of simple, straight lines, and talk about what colors would be in their ideal floor.

"But you couldn't make it too interesting," says Oz from where he's washing his hands outside Xander's shower.

Xander peeks out, absentmindedly shakes his wet hair on the other man. Just something that had to be done. "Why not interesting?"

"You'd spend all your time looking down."

"Down is a good place to look. You find some interesting little things looking down..."

Laugh because Oz is thwapping him with a washcloth.

Is, in fact, climbing into the shower fully clothed and attacking in full force, all happy predator grin and slipping out of Xander's holds.

They're both going over to Giles' house later, and Oz is going to bring his guitar and it just feels good to finally catch a laughing, thwapping Oz, pin him against the wall and kiss him wet and needful and pleased.

Peel him out of the t-shirt, and the eight pound sneakers, and seven ton jeans and just suck him down immediately, before the water can wash away his natural taste. And, OK, maybe work wouldn't be as relaxed and fun if the guys knew his hungry girlfriend was, in fact, a boyfriend, but when Oz is holding him close like this Xander can't care.

Taste, suckle, caress with his whole mouth and wrap his arms around Oz's thighs.

Listen to the echo of Oz calling his name, the quiet squeak of freshly clean hair in Oz's grasp.

The familiar shift in his mouth, instinctively widening his mouth for the stretch, the new Oz taste and the good, strong scent of wet fur. Works the sheath back as far as he can pull it and sucks and tastes and opens himself for the fuck he loves, that keeps his mouth permanently swollen and tender to the touch.

"Jesus, Xander..."

Hoarse and... yes, Xander has learned to tell one growl from another. And this is the growl... that shocked and happy and dazed growl, straight from Oz's soul.

Finally just letting himself be held in place and fucked. Eyes closed against the water but feeling Oz staring down, knowing it for sure when a gentle thumb wipes away streams of water, but hearing it

"You're so beautiful, Xand..."

is still so much.

Sucking hard and trying to be even more open, more ready for Oz and moaning around his cock and shuddering when he comes. Swallowing and swallowing and licking him clean until Oz pushes him away.

Kissing again, and giving it all right back to Oz and finally having to get out of the shower because the water was cold and onto the bed. Perfunctory use of towels, deliberately getting in each other's way and.

"Is it heavy to have wet fur?"


And Oz making love to him. Hands all over, and Xander thinks he remembers that song and spreads his legs wide apart the moment Oz looks up from where he's being attacking a nipple and licks his lips and Oz grins.


"Definite yeah, Oz, god, please --"

And a pillow under his hips and Oz down and in, muttering something about Xander being too clean and muttering things feels really, really good down there. And Oz's tongue is a demon and Xander's starting to sweat again. Move and push down and get one hand around his cock and try to force himself to stay to Oz's rhythm.

Circle and in, circle and in, flat animal sound and the prickle of fur on his thighs seems way too soon, like maybe they won't escape the apartment tonight, but it fades back fast and Oz. Oh.

Using his fingers.

And, you know, maybe there's some subtext in here. About how Oz can do the human thing, too, and Xander knows, and wants to comfort, reassure, anything to make Oz know. That it's OK, but all he can do is writhe under the touch and feel himself stretched and hope and fear that Oz is getting hard again because, oh god, shame not to take advantage and --

"Fffuck --"

Oz going down on him, soft, wet mouth. Taking mouth and clever long-enough fingers and it hits about a heartbeat earlier than Xander expects, making him yell in shock and the wonder of it.

And then just having to bend up and curl Oz into his arms and taste himself. Dig his fingers into Oz's lean muscle, pull him in and just

"Oz, fuck."

"Yeah, but then we'd be late."

Smiling into Oz's mouth because, yeah, he is happy that Oz really wants to go, has this image in his mind of how it can all go so nicely that Xander doesn't let himself examine, lest he jinx it all.

Dressing, stopping in the cellar on the way out to throw Oz's drenched clothes in a miraculously empty dryer and then out into the breezy, sweet-smelling Sunnydale night, where they have an almost entirely nice walk over to Giles, interrupted by three vampires when they were only a block away.

And Xander is getting really good at the 'get knocked down and bring the stake up just as the vampire pounces' thing, though it never stops being essentially horrifying.

But looks up to find Oz completely wolfed out. Like, the full, very large, ripped clothes version who has absolutely no trouble whatsoever ripping the heart out of one vampire and ripping the head off the other.

And has a really, really large amount of trouble coming back.

Swiping at Xander when he tries to help, but eventually letting him get a hand on his shoulder.

And then into an alley, to wait, and wait, and for a while Xander can see nothing but the wolf in those eyes, and nothing but a confused hunger in the growl, and Xander has long, long minutes to wonder if he's going to die tonight. If Oz will spend the rest of his aggression on ripping him apart, and then.


Yeah, dying would be of the bad, but Oz would be so hurt and Xander wants to just hold him against the possibility, and he also wants to give Michael Johnson a run for his money, but what he does is stay down, first on his knees, and then slowly onto his back.

Looks away, tries and fails not to shudder uncontrollably when the wolf leans in, noses at his throat and belly. Snuffling loud, one paw easily holding him down.

Xander ceases to be amazed at how useful his firsthand journey into animal behavior has been in his everyday life. And he cries out when the wolf shudders, throws back his head and growls and... shrinks. Back into an Oz in tatters, and fuck, he looks so good Xander has to pull him down and hold him.

Risking everything by not letting Oz get out of his hold but needing to, until Oz is finally still, face against Xander's throat and silently crying.

Staying that way until Xander's beginning to wonder if lightning would strike twice, but he waits instead, feeling Oz's arms settle around him, the kisses begin to start. Soft and quick and many, all over his throat and under his chin and over his face and Xander can taste his tears.

"I saw the vampire knock you down and I just lost it, Xander, and, fuck. Trying so hard to protect you and I nearly killed you and and... oh fuck Xander you should've let me run. Because I don't think I'm strong enough to do it now..."

"Hey, Oz, it's OK. You didn't kill me. You sniffed me a lot, and you drooled, but in the end it wasn't that different from normal and I don't want you to run. We can get through this, I promise."

"Xander... I don't know what I'd do if I ever hurt you..."

"Shh, Oz, I trust you, just shhh..."

And when they get to Giles' they're an hour late, and Giles takes one look at them and curses. Finds them clothes that are comically too small and too big, and Xander gets off a few good ones about Goldilocks and possible transvestitism that almost, almost drags Oz out of himself by making him wonder, aloud, if dressing as a bear really counted as transvestitism, or a whole new category of ism.

And Giles produces tea, and really good food that Xander has finished before he can really acknowledge what it is beyond good.

He knows it involved meat, which makes it even harder to watch Oz be hollow-eyed and not-eating Oz.

Xander settles a little closer to him on the couch, while Giles pulls a chair around.

And it's up to Xander to explain exactly what happened, something leaden and knotted in his belly because... because it sounds exactly as bad as it was.

When he's finished, Giles just sits there, elbows on his thighs, hands clasped between his knees. Frowning in thought, and Oz has got that thousand yard stare that makes Xander want to hold him with his entire body.

So he does, tugging and pulling on Oz, folding his legs around him and breathing in the still-electric scent of his hair. Not a bad scent, but Xander knows it means Oz is still wired much, much too high, pliant limbs or no.

And if it's also just to make sure Giles knows that Xander will not let anything bad happen to Oz, then that's OK, too.

Giles finally breaking the silence with, "Oz, is there anyone you can reach who's done the same? Broken free of the moon?"

Oz shuddering in his arms and Xander wants so bad to make it right.

"I... they said I was the first. To be so successful." Brittle laugh, Oz scrubbing his face with his hands before tucking them back between his body and Xander's legs.

And Giles hmmms, gets up to pace and the silence lasts much too long and Xander wants to call all the Scoobies in, make them come up with, God, something.

"I was so proud. I was so fucking proud. That I could find peace and serenity in an isolated Tibetan monastery. Jesus, of course I could.

"Spike could."

"Oz-man, you need to be laughing at the image you just conjured."

"Yes, I wholeheartedly agree." Giles chewing on his glasses, pausing to send a rueful smile their way. "I could look for spells, but lycanthropy really doesn't fall into the magical, the traditionally good and evil... but you know that already, I suspect, Oz."

Silent nod, full of a lot of things Xander does and does not want to know about Oz's family. About what it must be like to not just be a fuck-up, but a genuine pariah and Xander holds him a little closer.

"I just wanted to make myself safe. Isn't that hilarious?"

"In a really heartbreaking and depressing way, yes."

"Oz... was it at all different from the way you lost control with Tara? How conscious were you?"

"I could smell myself all over Xander, and it was just so strange. Some creature rolling around in... in my den. And... I just got these flashes of Xander, over and over... It was like I was trying to distract myself until another I could take over.

The I that I am, I think. These personal pronouns are going to kill me."

Giles finally back in the chair, and his eyes are hard. "And what would've happened if Xander hadn't smelled like you?"

Oz just squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head and "Xander, please, make me leave."

And there it is, right there. Falling right into the pit of dread because... because "No. Oz, you didn't hurt anyone --"

Oz breaking free and turning to face him. "And how many close calls are we going to get, Xander? Huh? How many chances?"

"I know you won't hurt me." /I know I'll forgive you.../

"Yes, but Xander... Oz doesn't know that. Do you?"

Oz shuddering and Oz refusing to be held and Oz. Standing. "No. No, I don't."

"Oz, don't --"

And the kiss is hard, and clumsy for the first few seconds and tastes of acrid fear and want and the tears still there and Oz's hand in his collar tightens once before relaxing,

Brush of knuckles on his throat and then Oz pulling away. Turning to Giles.

"Don't let him follow me."

"Don't let me follow you? Excuse me?" Standing up. "What the fuck are you talking about, Oz?"

"Xander, you have to let him --"

"You shut the fuck up, Giles, because I fucking wasn't talking to you." And spinning back to face Oz and he looks so fucking sad and Xander thinks he's gonna put his fist right through that sad, sad face. "Nobody tells me what to do, Oz. Not anymore."

"That's fair. Don't follow me, Xander."

"Fuck you, Oz."

"Let me go."

"Fuck. You."

"Xander, please --"

"You never hurt me, Oz. You never did and I know you won't, so just stop fucking around and let us... let us do something." And he's losing the thread of the anger but he can't. He can't and Giles' hand on his shoulder makes him jump but he manages, barely, not to strike out.

Quietly, in soft someone's-died reasonable Giles voice. "He's not just a danger to you."

Like the ground crumbling out beneath his feet. You just didn't let a friend go, not ever. Not one that maybe left friendspace light years behind the first, second, or seventh time they used the word love and oh. "Oz..."

Oz reaching out, and it seems so wrong to be touching human fingers but he squeezes anyway.

And lets go.

And when the door closes Giles keeps holding on and Xander keeps quiet and the door. Stays closed.

Giles pulling him back into a hug, and holding him. So strange to have someone taller than him in his arms, someone that doesn't smell wild and Xander doesn't cry.

Xander turns all the lights off and fumbles upstairs and strips off Giles' clothes and huddles there. Lets himself be held when Giles follows because.

Because he has to stay there, because Oz needs to get his things and be completely absent from Xander's home by the time he gets back.

And neither of them say anything in the dark, with anything but their bodies.