Big Beat from Badsville
by Dormouse

Only a few guests had stayed to clean up the mess left by first the party, and, later, by the re-awakened dead. The rest seemed to have slipped away during the fight, or at least Giles assumed that the detritus had to have been left by many more partygoers than he had seen helping.

He left Joyce dealing with the man from the twenty-four hour window replacement service, and the last guests — predictably Willow, Xander, Oz and Cordelia — talking to Buffy, while he walked out to his car. As he had predicted, holding a — what had Oz called it? A hootenanny? — for Buffy had not been the success the others had expected.

What he wanted to do was to go home, possibly with a brief stop along the way to see if he could find his car keys, and reacquaint himself with a certain fifteen year old single malt. What he should do was to wait out here for a while, just in case Buffy wanted a word with him in private.

Giles leaned back against the roof of his car and stared at the sky. It was a clear night, and blessedly quiet after earlier events. Buffy would need to talk about her experiences, and her reasons for leaving, and coming back, but now might not be the correct time. It was up to her to approach him. He needed to talk to Joyce about her purchasing decisions where the gallery was concerned, before he had to avert yet another crisis, but that could wait until after he had spoken to that toad Snyder in the morning. He glanced at his watch — five more minutes and then he could safely assume that no one had further need of him tonight.

Giles stared at the stars again, those few that were bright enough to outshine all the ambient light from below anyway.


Giles turned around, and saw Oz resting his forearms on the other side of the car's roof.

"Hello. Anything I can help you with?"

"I'm good. Put the last of the band's gear in the van, and now I'm just waiting for Willow."

"I think she was talking to Buffy."

"Figure they've got a lot to talk about." Oz dropped one hand down out of sight. "I thought I'd have this while I was waiting." His hand returned, holding what seemed to be a joint. "Want to share?"

"Over there perhaps?" Giles indicated one of the trees outside the Summers' residence.

Oz nodded, and crossed the pavement, and then the lawn to the tree.

Giles followed.

Oz leaned back against the tree, and lit up. Giles rested one hand on the trunk and studied him.

"Wish I could offer you a beer too," Oz said, passing the joint over. "But someone drank it all. Or took it in the heat of battle, I guess."

"This will be sufficient, I think." He took a long, slow hit from the joint, feeling the years and his burdens slip away. Temporarily at least: he still had Snyder to deal with in the morning.

"Good to have Buffy back." Oz took the joint again. "More efficient slaying for a start."

"Yes," Giles said. "How did the... gig go tonight? I wish I'd managed to catch some of it before the, ah, invasion." He had witnessed the Dingos, or more specifically Oz, playing before. That had been in the Bronze: a less intimate setting by far than Joyce's living room.

"Yeah." Oz handed the joint back to Giles. "Zombies put a bit of a downer on the set. Not great music fans, dead guys. Though I do hear a few of them are partial to psychobilly."

"Psychobilly?" Giles tried to unravel the etymology of the term, certain that it was an actual musical genre, rather than a term Oz had just invented.

"Punk-rockabilly hybrid," Oz said. "You've heard of The Cramps?"

"In passing. I'm not sure I'd recognise their style." Giles took one last draw on the joint, and handed it to Oz. "That's almost dead."

"You want another? Anyway, psychobilly's kind of like that." He pulled out a bag of grass, and started to make another joint. "Be easier to lend you a compilation than explain. How about I drop one in to you later in the week?"

"I'd appreciate that," Giles said distractedly. He was reminded vividly of long-ago nights after third-rate gigs in fourth-rate halls, waiting with Ethan to see if the band would trade dope or booze for some help loading the van. Sometimes, of course, they struck gold, and got speed or acid as well: usually much better quality than anything Randall's friends could brew up in their garden sheds. It often seemed that all Randall's friends lived in rented houses — or other people's houses — that came complete with one or two sheds in the garden.

Back to the present, and Giles studied Oz's fingers as he rolled the paper tightly — but not too tightly — around the grass — Americans never seemed to smoke solid-and-tobacco — and then his tongue as it ran along the edge of the paper to moisten the gummed strip.

"You want to start this one?" Oz asked. He was staring into space, and it struck Giles that the whole conversation had taken place without any form of eye-contact being exchanged.

"Sure." Giles surprised himself with how gruffly he said it. He had spent the entire summer as a Watcher with no one to watch; no slayer at any rate, Lord knew how he had watched, and worried over, the other children. It was about time he took a night, or what was left of the night, off.

As he put flame to paper, it occurred to him that Oz was one of those very children that he had spent the summer worrying over. Oz deserved a night off as well.

But then, he thought, inhaling and watching the paper burn away and the grass catch light, they were none of them exactly children any longer. Oz could generally be relied upon to find the right words for any occasion, and besides, he was a year older than the others, Giles seemed to remember. Easily as old as Ethan had been when they first met.

He exhaled slowly over Oz's head, and then took another draw. There was something faintly ridiculous about getting stoned on Joyce and Buffy's front lawn, while wondering if he might just be attracted to Willow's boyfriend. Probably better not to worry about the consequences of the former, and not think at all about the latter.

"Any chance I could have some more of that?" Oz turned, and looked up at him.

"Just a minute." The idea he had just come up with was madness. More madness, since the whole evening, or, come to think of it, the last few days, was hardly a shining example of sanity. In fact the way he had lived most of his life had been madness of one form or another.

Giles slowly filled his lungs with smoke, then removed the joint from his lips without letting any escape. He tucked his hand behind his back, very careful to keep the hot tip of the joint away from his clothing. Then he allowed a little smoke to escape from his mouth and float down towards Oz's lips.

Oz got the idea, and leaned towards Giles, lips slightly parted.

Giles blew smoke slowly into Oz's mouth, leaning in closer and closer until their lips touched as he passed on the last of the smoke. Sometimes a blow-back was just a blow-back and sometimes —

Oz stepped back.

"Willow should be out soon," he said, sliding his hand around Giles' waist to retrieve the joint, and maybe brushing against him a little more than strictly necessary. "Hey, when I bring that compilation round, did you want me to bring the rest of the grass too?"

"If you don't mind me bogarting it again." Giles smiled. Sometimes a blow-back was a little more than just a blow-back. Hopefully he would find out which this had been later that week.