Bottomless Cheer, Endless Kisses
by Glossolalia

Perhaps Oz had been right. No, that was wrong; of course Oz was right. If Giles has learned anything in the last few years, it is that Oz is always right.

Oz was right when he reminded Giles that, as head of the Council, he must attend the holiday party.

Oz was right when he observed that said party would full of strivers and climbers out to impress the boss.

Oz was right to pat Giles' arm consolingly when Giles complained that the party would bore him to tears while he helped Giles into his dinner jacket.

Oz was right to scoff at salmonella and whip up a bowl of authentic egg nog.

Giles sipped from the dainty cup, tasting buttercream and dry sherry and nutmeg, savoring it. Yes, Oz was certainly right about the eggnog.

Furthermore, Oz was also, most certainly, right that this party would be a colossal, crashing bore.

"You were right, you know," Giles says, and to his own ears, he sounds at once plaintive and amused. Oz's eyebrows pull together, wrinkling into perplexity, but he also nods and smiles. Giles realizes that perhaps he ought to explain. "About this party. And the eggnog. And many other matters which seem to have just slipped my mind."

Oz's smile tightens and his hand lifts, reaching for Giles' cup.

"Oh, did you want a sip?" Giles asks. He's being quite the horrid host if his own boyfriend doesn't have a cup of this delicious concoction. "It's splendid, really, here —"

Giles bends a little at the waist, bringing the cup to Oz's lips. Or the spot where Oz's lips were; now, that spot is Oz's ear and some eggnog slops over Oz's silver earring.

"Sorry, sorry —" Giles leans further in to clean up his mess — the creamy nog overpaints the ring, dulling its gleam, beckoning him. He closes his mouth around Oz's earlobe and sucks it clean. "There," he says, pulling back, patting Oz's shoulder fondly. "All better."

"Think you might have had enough," Oz says softly, smiling all the while. He looks terribly young when he smiles, all pink-mouthed and bright-eyed and tears heat the corner of Giles' eyes at the sight, at the love he feels for this strange, slight boy.

"Oz, I —" he says thickly, but Oz is reaching for the cup again, and Giles thinks this must be an American Christmas game, some strange colonial cross between bobbing for apples and wrestling.

After draining the cup and licking his lips, Giles says, "I beg to defer. Differ. One cannot have enough of this."

"That so?"

"Yes." Giles frowns, feeling his entire face pinch in, as he notices his cup is empty. "I've run dry. Oz, look, I've —"

"Maybe some water?" Oz motions to the fat green bottles of Italian mineral water that stand like sentries along the back of the punch table.

"That water tastes like cat piss," Giles says and wrinkles his nose. "Not a very nice cat, either."

"What kind of cat, then?"

Giles thinks about it. This takes a great deal of effort, and he frowns all the more to aid his concentration. "A mangy tortie moggie, I think. Female, spayed. Black whiskers."

Oz is smiling at him again, eyes narrowed and glinting. He stands out like a single strand of bright tinsel in this crowd of gravely-dressed, carefully-celebratory Watchers and support staff, all the archivists and linguists and curators. They, all of them, look only slight less drab than usual. Giles himself sports a moderately-festive dark green waistcoat for the occasion.

But Oz. Oh, Oz.

Giles licks his lips, then bites them, drinking in the sight of Oz, creamy-pale, sharp-featured face beneath pale-gold hair the color of good champagne.

"We should have champagne!" Giles announces and looks around for a waiter.

"Thought you were all about the eggnog tonight."

Giles checks the cup that he finds in his hand. "It's empty," he says, sorrow slowly filling him at the thought. "It shouldn't be empty. That's not festive. That's Scrooge-esque, in fact."

"Here —" Oz says and reaches for the cup. Remembering the game with a flush of excitement, Giles lifts it out of Oz's reach and dances a few steps away.

"Oh, no, you don't," Giles crows, dangling the cup, anticipating Oz's jump for it, looking forward to the sight.

Oddly, however, and most disappointingly, Oz remains where he is. That's no fun at all.

"This should be bottomless, this cup. Don't you think? Endlessly overbrimming with the most delicious, exquisite eggnog you've ever tasted?"

"Sounds like a plan," Oz says.

Peering at the cup, Giles considers his options. "I could charm it, I suppose." He wraps both hands around it and studies the streaks of eggnog in the bottom. Ethan knew seven different charms for endless spirits, most of them Canaanite, but one in particular, developed by a Laotian mountain tribe, seems the most apposite here. Giles closes his eyes to let his memory work.

It's lovely in here, the dark tinged with subtle reds. He likes it here.

"I'll do it," a new voice says.

Giles knows that voice. He doesn't even have to open his eyes to recognize that voice, simultaneously hesitant and silky, eager and resentful.

"Mr. Giles, I'd be happy to help," that voice — Andrew's voice — says again.

"Think he's got it," Oz says.


Amazing, the amount of scorn that Andrew can invest in a mere two syllables. Giles opens one eye, but the lights from the chandelier catch what Andrew calls his "bling" and blind him.

"I'm fine, Andrew," Giles says, squeezing his eyes shut. "Run along."

Swaying a little in the self-imposed dark, Giles returns to working out his memories of the spell. He can't quite recall the inflection on the third syllable, whether it's a long or a short A. If his eyes weren't already closed, he would close them now and choose blindly.

Whatever do blind people do, he wonders suddenly. They must occasionally need to close their eyes and chant eenie-meenie-miney-moe, but they can't, and that's terrible. Just terrible.

"— there, Giles?" Oz asks.


"Asked if you're okay there."

"Yes, yes," Giles says. Long A, he thinks. Definitely the long A. He mutters the charm quickly under his breath, wondering why he's working so hard to recall the vegetation elaboration rite of the southern Incas. He must have had his reasons, however; he always does.

When he opens his eyes, grinning with pleasure, he finds Oz peering curiously at him and young Andrew Wells, shorn blond hair and wide blue eyes, smiling back. In their time in London, Andrew has passed through a tweedy-don phase, a polo-pony prince-about-town phase, a rather disturbing City-stockbroker phase, and is currently exploring another uniquely English identity, the disaffected chav.

The gold chains around Andrew's neck and the heavy brass rings on his twiggy fingers dwarf the poor child, and he is further swamped by his red velour tracksuit, tucked into green socks above spotless, just-out-of-the-box trainers. Andrew, mistaking Giles' drunken geniality for...something else, tosses his Burberry scarf over his shoulder and puckers his lips.

"Andrew?" Giles asks. He never likes to admit to confusion, but now he must.

"Mistletoe," Oz says and points above them.

"But —" Giles starts to say, but then he has an armful of Andrew and an insistent wet mouth on his chin, and the mistletoe is growing. Spreading and multiplying like something in a nature documentary on time-lapse film, ramifying and curling downward in a dark, glossy-leaved frenzy, white berries bulging obscenely over the branches.

"Happy Christmas," Andrew says breathily against Giles' neck, blind to the vegetable monstrosity advancing downward upon them.

"Got a situation here," Oz says calmly, tugging at Andrew's chains.

"Shut up!" Andrew says, kissing Giles again. "You get him the rest of the year. This is my time, my Christmas present to myself, and —"

Andrew squeals when a bunch of berries batters his head and gestures blindly, yelling at Oz about the spirit of Christmas and how it should be held all the year round, and Giles marvels that the newly-minted chav in his arms, who kisses surprisingly well, should remember his Dickens.

"Giles," Oz says and pushes him forward onto the dance floor. "Mistletoe. Growing."

"It's a pagan holdover," Giles says, searching desperately for rationality. "You see, the Druids —"

"No time," Oz says, dashing to the weapons cabinet and extracting a very rare Papuan machete before wading into the mistletoe. It has reached the floor now, a tangle of leaves and vines and berries crawling every which way and the party guests alternately scream and murmur at the sight. Useless paper-pushers, Giles thinks. Someone really ought to do something about them.

Andrew clutches at Giles' lapels with small white hands in what Giles has to admit is a very fine pantomime of Pauline at the height of her perils. "What're you going to do? Mr. Giles?"

Giles is, he realizes with a small, guilty pang, drunk. He may possibly have had too much eggnog. This really won't do.

"Finis!" he calls, pointing at the creeping, unfurling mistletoe. It quivers, obscuring Oz in its disgusting mess, then, suddenly, goes still. Giles can hear his heart pounding at the back of his skull and in each of his kneecaps.

The party is silent now except for Andrew's rapid, shallow breathing. A low mutter of curses and the whick-whick of metal through vines builds as Oz cuts himself free. He emerges, red-faced and swearing under his breath, his hair standing up like it used to. Splashes of vegetable goo and smears of squashed berries mar his formerly lovely green shirt.

"Oz, are you all right?" Giles hurries to his side and liberates, with difficulty, the machete from Oz's grip.

Oz leans against him, catching his breath and mopping his face.

Giles tightens his hold around Oz's shoulders. "Oz?"

"And that," Oz says, craning up and kissing Giles' cheek, "is why you don't drink. Or do magic."

"Yes," Giles says, leaning in turn against Oz's small but sturdy frame as a headache crawls and pinches through his skull. "I believe you're right."