A Wolf, Leaping
by Glossolalia

His flight from Lima was delayed due to storm, and Giles nearly missed the connection in Miami to Heathrow. Then they sat on the tarmac for almost four hours after their scheduled departure without explanation.

So he's even later arriving than he thought he would be, exhausted and seat-sore, fumbling with the unfamiliar set of keys. The flat Oz has been minding for some friends is in a tonier part of London than their own home, and Giles is all too aware of how out of place he is. He expects tenants to be sticking their heads out of the windows any moment now, ringing the police and reporting a vagrant with a large suitcase in their midst. Somewhere, dogs are barking.

He wishes Oz wasn't flatsitting; he'd like nothing more than to crawl into his own bed, gather Oz against his chest, and sleep for four days.

Instead he is (at last) unlocking the heavy door and wincing at the high, aggrieved tones of dogs barking madly somewhere in the depths of the flat.

He closes his eyes, trying to remember the flat's layout so he can stumble his way toward Oz. If he keeps them closed, perhaps he can pretend he's at home.

No such luck; the mad skitter of claws on the wood floor announces the dogs, huge hairy beasts who must be half-mastiff, just before they slam into him, dislodging his suitcase from his hand. Giles swallows his impatience at the snuffling snouts and wriggling bodies, but he cannot stop himself from wincing again at their lunatic barking.

"Tristan! Isolde!"

Giles opens his eyes. Oz leans against the wall, snapping his fingers at the suddenly quiet dogs. They slink towards him and he pats both their heads as he smiles shyly at Giles. "Hey."

"Their names are Tristan and Isolde?"

"Yeah, and they're littermates," he says, shrugging and rubbing his hand over the side of his head. "Gross, huh?"

Oz was sleeping, clearly; Giles can tell, although not necessarily from his small tanktop undershirt, shrunken in the wash so that it exposes a curving stripe of shadowed belly above the clinging blue pyjama bottoms. Such attire could be worn to work, according to Oz. No, Giles knows he was sleeping from the extra-sleepy tilt to Oz's lids and the way he's moving, slowly, as if through syrup.

"Welcome back. Missed you," Oz says and wraps his arms around Giles's neck. He smells like sleep, warm and sweet-sour, and tastes like it, too, Giles folds his arms around Oz's narrow back and kisses him. "Love you."

This is home, Giles thinks, wherever I am, and he knows he ought to blush at the sentimentality of the thought.

He can't, though. Not with Oz twisting in his arms, capturing one hand and leading Giles forward. The dogs follow at a polite distance, the consort behind the monarch.

"Come to bed," Oz says. "You look done in."

It's still strange to hear Oz used English expressions and turns of phrase, but Giles cannot help but smile. Strange, but sweet, Oz's slang is Giles's own — berk, pillock — and a generation out of date. Unlike most American expatriates (not to mention tourists, eager in their pretensions), however, Oz hasn't acquired any trace of an accent; he still speaks with the soft, slightly flat inflection of a California boyhood.

"This place is enormous," Giles says, midway down the second hall. "How do Terry and Pat find their way?"

Oz simply squeezes his hand and leads him into the master bedroom, dark but for a bar of light from the washroom.

"Leave it open," Oz says when Giles goes to close the door. At Giles's questioning glance, he merely says, "Dogs."

The bed is wide as a pasha's and just as plush, dark blue quilt rumpled in the center where Oz had been sleeping. Giles sits on the edge with a sigh and removes his shoes before crawling up toward the pillows. He'd prefer to be at home, but if he can't be, this is the life. Subdued and luxurious, even if everything smells faintly of dog and sports a fine dusting of coarse hair.

Oz nudges Giles back against the headboard, kneeling beside him and unbuttoning his shirt. In the dim, Oz's skin fairly glows, pale clouds and hints of cinnamon, and his fingers are quick and light over Giles's chest. Over Oz's left bicep, a band of black ink absorbs all light and Giles cups the muscle, tracing the tattoo with his thumb as his other hand pets Oz's mussed hair. He darts in to kiss Oz's face whenever he can, reacquainting himself with skin-lips-hair that are almost more familiar than his own but still thrilling, always awaiting further discovery.

Oz is chuckling, low in his throat, by the time he gets Giles's shirt undone and tugged free from his waistband. He slides it off Giles's shoulders, leaning close, mouth moving over Giles's throat and ear, trailing warm tingles in its wake. The rhythm of his laughter is slow, melisma drawn from haunting melisma, unending and patient. Giles butts forward blindly when Oz tosses the shirt aside and sits back on his knees. The motion draws up Oz's little undershirt higher on his belly, exposing more skin.

A shadow of muscle, flaring up and over his hip, is visible now, darker than the others as it emerges from the ruffled elastic of the pyjamas' waistband.

Giles reaches for it, tracing it with two fingers, and Oz hisses in a breath.

"Still healing —" he says.

Giles is startled for several moments by the lunge and crash of one of the dogs jumping on the foot of the bed, nosing at Oz's neck. When it settles down, Giles leans in again.

"You didn't," Giles says, focusing at last on the tattoo that is resolving itself out of the shadow. "You did."

"Welcome back present." Oz rests one hand on Giles's shoulder for balance as he leans farther back.

Oz has always decorated himself: Hair dye, rings in his ears and on his fingers (more recently, in his brow and one small nipple), dark paint on his chewed nails and ridiculously-long lashes, yarn and bangles and beads around his broad wrists. Change skims over the surface of his body as rapidly and constantly as wind and light. Giles tries to trace every change, impress them all in his memory and catalog each one.

The tattoos are the most recent additions; Oz returned from Patagonia with the band around his bicep and Giles loves to play his tongue over its flat, dark breadth until Oz shivers and clutches at him. He has since added a trailing vine marking out the angle of one shoulderblade and a perfect scarab in the small of his back.

Change and impermanence; ink sunk into skin that is already, to Giles's mind, perfect. Giles used to think of Oz's decorations as playful, the eccentric teenager's version of playing dress-up. But he has watched Oz paint his nails and dye his hair. He has accompanied Oz to the tattoo and piercing parlors — once to reopen the hole in his own ear, again on a dare that Oz whispered in bed to thread a ring through his own nipple — and he has watched Oz's face during the process. Painting, dying, piercing and inking: Oz's face is rigid and blanched, his eyes clouded and very far away, whitening lip caught in whiter teeth.

This is the opposite of play — no joy evident, but instead rigor and deliberation. Oz's expression at these times is a more intense version of the one he wears when working out a difficult new recipe or translating a source for his thesis. It is one of pure concentration, vivid and bright.

Oz's adornments are tests. Exercises in pain, whether real or symbolic, controlled, acute, and keen. If the final result is beautiful, and it always is, the intent lies elsewhere. Oz is testing his own skin, marking his surface, distinguishing his self and his existence from other's. Controlling and defining his extent.

Giles outlines the top of the tattoo, shadowed by one sharp hipbone, with his thumbnail.

A wolf's head and shaggy body, primitively drawn, with a shining eye and teeth.

Oz sighs deeply as he leans back, resting on one hand and the now-snoring dog and lifting his hips so Giles can lower the pyjamas.

"Still sore?" Giles asks.

"Yeah," Oz says softly, gasping when Giles draws his thumb down the arch of the wolf's spine. "You like?"

"Oh, yes. Very much."

The wolf is stylized, blocky and folkish, primitive and real in the way sixteenth-century woodcuts and tribal art — both of which seems to be its sources — can be. Inaccurate, non-mimetic art, but all the realer because the spirit is caught in the thick, jagged lines of the yawning, howling mouth and prominent fangs, the raised forelimbs tipped with enormous claws.

A wolf, leaping. Its rear paws and haunches disappear in the nest of gingery hair just over Oz's balls — this patch is rougher and shorter than the rest; he must have shaved before inking. The wolf's tail flows down over the crease of Oz's thigh. It is magnificent.

"Good," Oz says, breathing more heavily. The skin under the ink is hot, a little swollen, and Giles skates a nail over the wolf's torso to make Oz gasp again.

Oz's cock was already stirring when Giles first reached over; it's almost fully hard now, stiffening in time with Oz's sighs and bitten-off whimpers.

"Beautiful." Giles strokes the silken heat of Oz's shaft, then presses too hard on the wolf's skull.

Oz's hips jerk up and the dog yelps as Oz's head falls back.

"Wait," Oz gasps. "Wait. Giles. Check this out —"

He struggles to sit up a little, a flush brightening in his cheeks and down the center of his chest, and laces his fingers through Giles's own on his cock. He strokes quickly, several times, before batting Giles's hand away.

Harsh and hoarse: "Look."

Erect and twitching, Oz's cock mirrors perfectly the angle of the wolf's leap. The head, swollen and already shining a little, dappled with precome, touches Oz's belly just beside the wolf's head. It looks about to be mauled and swallowed by the wolf.

"Christ —" Giles says, heat thick in his mouth. Exhaustion stirs resolutely into need and desire, constricting his chest and tingling hotly up his arms and down his back. "Oz, Jesus —"

The sight is savage. Bestial. Fangs of ink, as black and flat as Oz's eyes become when he changes, threatening the tender, red head of his cock.

Oz smiles, eyes narrowing sharply, when Giles glances up, his mouth open and dry. Yearning. Tightening his fingers in Giles's hair, Oz yanks his head down, falling back as only Oz and prepubescent gymnasts can do, legs folded behind him and hips lifting.

Giles needs to taste. Needs to work his tongue over the sore skin, trace the wolf from the tip of its tail to the end of its fangs, and he takes his time even as Oz claws at his scalp and thrusts against his face. He moves slowly, finding all the aching spots, cooling the heated skin with his mouth, savoring the taste of salt and soap and concentration of something that's ineffably Oz, mown grass and woodsmoke, bonfires and fireworks and clover.

Oz's head thrashes and he's muttering curses, fierce and growling, as Giles licks around the base of his cock and over the valley between his balls. It's this, Oz teetering, somehow at once rubbery and so tense with need, that Giles loves, the moment before passion breaks and desire wails.

The other dog crashes onto the bed and Oz laughs, almost bitterly, as Giles stops and looks up.

"Oz, the dogs —" Giles says hoarsely.

"Just ignore 'em." Oz thrusts a little and his cock rubs the stubble on Giles's cheek. "Please?"

Difficult to ignore a ten-stone dog butting its massive skull into your side, but Giles tries. He's always thought he'd do anything for Oz, but he never thought he'd have a canine audience at quite this sort of moment.

Oz clenches his hair and gasps, long-liquid-loose, when Giles finally takes the head of his cock between his lips and drags them down the shaft. His tongue wraps around the underside and Giles sucks forcefully, just the way Oz likes it. Just like stolen moments in the high school's washroom, like the late-night restlessness when Oz could stay over and wasn't yet sated. Giles presses the heel of his hand into the wolf, controlling Oz's thrusts, and he'd smile if he could at the whimpers and growls spilling from Oz's mouth.

Lazy, endless reunion sex can come later, tomorrow morning (afternoon), when they're rested. Now he is hungry, desperate to make up for three weeks apart, to celebrate the savage ink menacing Oz's cock, to drink Oz all the way down and take him inside as deeply and fully as he can. Always hungry for this, for this approximation that never quite satisfies, is never complete, is only Tantalus's grapes.

Oz thrashes and squirms beneath him, one leg extended now and hooked over Giles's arm, and the dogs snuffle and complain nasally at the bed's movements. Giles hears it all, tastes it all, and it's never quite enough, even now, as he feels Oz's thighs tense and his ass drive back into the bed, then upward, as Oz shouts loudly enough to scare one dog clattering to the floor and out the door and he thrusts short and rough into Giles's mouth and Giles claws at the mattress, at the tattoo, and swallows as fast as he can.

He lies here, bent over, mouth on Oz's thigh, breathing harder than a marathoner. Oz's come is thick in his mouth, coating his tongue, and Giles would like to keep it there, forever and a day. But Oz is starting to twitch and stir beneath him, petting the back of his head, and murmuring softly. Giles drags his head up and opens his eyes. Oz has one arm over a watchful, suspicious dog and a wide, sleepy smile on his face as he traces the edge of Giles's ear.

"Welcome home," Oz whispers and Giles straightens up, creakily and achingly, pulling Oz to him. When they kiss, it is as slow as sleep and just as deep.

He tips his forehead against Oz's shoulder and breathes out as they shift around until they're lying on their sides.

"Good to be here," Giles says. "Thank you."

Oz's smile is curved and amused as he kisses Giles's forehead. "You okay?" he asks, drawing two fingers over Giles's cock.

"Very okay," Giles says; Oz isn't the only one who's picked up the other's speech patterns. He can't imagine coming just now; all he wants, more than ever, is Oz pressed against him and the weight and depth of sleep. "Sleep now?"

"Sleep," Oz agrees, but then he pulls Giles's pillow from beneath his cheek and puts it behind him. "Sorry. This one's Isolde's."

Oz folds his arm and Giles rests his head there. He has a dog extended behind him, its warm fur against his bare back, and Oz wrapped around in front of him, and he is thinking about warmth, about packs and dens and home as he drops off.