Daylight Fading
by Sheila


Waiting for the moon to come and light me up inside
And I am waiting for the telephone to tell me I'm alive
Well I heard you let somebody get their fingers into you
It's getting cold in California

Oz didn't see the thing that killed him. People generally don't, content to live their lives with no knowledge of how it ends. A small thing, trapped forever inside a box, a tiny kindness. Bliss through ignorance.

He didn't see the truck that hit his van. Didn't see the windshield covered in his blood, the metal crumpled around his body tightly enough that they had had to cut it away. He never saw the police, or the fire trucks, or the ambulance. The last thing Oz saw before he died was the moon, a delicate crescent hanging near the horizon a few hours before dawn.


I guess I'll be leaving soon
Daylight fading
Come and waste another year
All the anger and the eloquence are bleeding into fear

Maybe if it hadn't been so late, and if Oz hadn't been preoccupied with thoughts of home and the man waiting for him there, he would have noticed the truck. Maybe not. But regardless, he died quickly that night, thinking about his friend and lover. All told, it wasn't a bad way to go.

He remembered sitting on the bed that morning, looking down at Giles' still-sleeping form, running his hands lightly over the other man's chest. He reveled in the feel of warm flesh beneath his fingers, the slight tickle of hair against his palm as he moved his hand lower. Giles' body was firm, not overly muscled, but not soft either. Covered in scars and one small tattoo, testifying to a life lived fully and somewhere rather near the edge.

Giles had woken up then, as Oz's hand had ventured a bit lower. He blinked at Oz, then smiled faintly. Oz leaned over, brushing lightly against Giles' lips in a fairly chaste kiss. Giles tugged him down, pulling Oz close against his body and kissing the nape of his neck lightly. "Go back to sleep," he murmured, wrapping an arm around Oz's waist, holding him still. Oz had sighed, settling back against Giles' warmth and drifting off to sleep, content.

It would have been nice to say that he slept peacefully, finally free of nightmares born of the memories he tried so hard to suppress during the day. It would be nice to think that everything was, finally, going well for Oz. It would be nice, but it would be a lie. Oz dreamt that morning, as he did every time he closed his eyes, dreaming the same thing he had dreamt every night for the past year.


Moonlight creeping around the corners of our lawn
When we see the early signs that daylight's fading
We leave just before it's gone

The knife glinted silver in the light from the candles lining the walls. It flashed briefly, sweeping up and forward and Oz dodged back quickly, losing his balance and falling back onto the floor with a thud and a muffled obscenity. Willow moved quickly, straddling his chest, one hand around his wrist, pinning him down. She curled her fingers around his throat, thumb pressing firmly against his windpipe. "You're no fun," she pouted. Then she smiled brightly. "I'll make you fun..."

Willow leaned forward, licking his neck just above the pulse pounding in his throat. She nipped at it delicately, lying full length on top of Oz. She sat up again after a few moments and grinned down at him. "If you play nice, I'll let you go..."

Oz nodded, desperate to buy some time. He felt her hand leave his neck and he shuddered in relief.

Willow frowned thoughtfully. "I really don't think this," she tightened her fingers around his wrist until he could feel the bones rubbing against each other and he dropped the stake, "is really necessary. I have toys of my own. Good toys. Toys that scream."

Oz was fucked. Royally so.

Or, he was, until Angel tossed one of the minion vampires at Willow and knocked her to the ground. Oz rolled onto his side, getting up to his knees and grabbing the stake. He staggered over to Willow, coughing harshly. She had time to look up at him, eyes wide in shock, and he shoved the stake into her chest.

He felt something soaking into the legs of his jeans and stared down at Xander's body for a moment, then crawled into a corner and threw up. Angel came up behind him silently, touching his shoulder. Oz turned to him, pale and shaking. "It's over?"

Angel nodded. "It's over. And you're bleeding." He touched Oz's forehead lightly, showing the bloodied tips of his fingers to the small werewolf.

"Oh." Oz winced at the sight. "Want some?"

"Uh...no. Thank you."

"Okay. Hey Angel?"


"I think I'm going to faint now."

Angel caught him before he hit the ground.


She said "everybody loves you,"
she says, "everybody cares"
But all the things I keep inside myself
they vanish in the air

Oz sat on the couch in Angel's Los Angeles apartment, knees drawn up to his chest, staring silently at his friends as they tried to talk him out of going to England.

Cordelia went first, listing all the reasons he shouldn't go; he was still too weak, he didn't have the money, it would just make him angrier, all things he agreed with. It was a stupid thing to do, and he knew it. It didn't matter.

Angel, next, appealing to that part of him that had respected and admired Giles, the part that had called the librarian a friend. It wasn't right, he said. Giles was a good man, and didn't deserve to be hurt like Oz was planning.

Oz grew very still at that. "We didn't deserve to be hurt either," he said, in a tone to match Cordelia at her iciest. "He left. This happened. He should know. End of story."

Cordelia tried to hug him and he flinched away, huddling into himself. "Oz...please. He couldn't have known. Be reasonable."

"I don't want to be reasonable." He tossed the Codex onto the coffee table, opening it to a page he had earmarked and looking up at Angel. "Read it."

Angel frowned. "I don't see what this has to — "

"Read. It."

The vampire sighed and picked up the book, reading it silently. Finally, after a few moments, he looked up at Oz. "I...damn." He sighed, rubbing his head.

"Tell me he would have missed that," said Oz softly. "Tell me that Giles would have missed that prophecy. Tell me I'm wrong."

Angel looked down at his hands. He spoke carefully. "He might have missed it, Oz. And he might not have. That doesn't make this idea of yours any better."

Oz opened his mouth to reply and Angel held up a hand. "Please. Let me finish." He continued after Oz shrugged. "Giles left because Buffy...died. Because he felt guilty and afraid. Oz, he doesn't need this, too. It's not fair to either of you. Let go."

"I don't want to."

Cordelia tried again. "Oz, hurting Giles is not going to make you feel better."

"It can't make me feel worse." Oz looked at her, his jaw set stubbornly. "I don't think anything can."

He had to give them credit. They tried to get him to change his mind. They kept trying up until the time he boarded the plane. He refused to listen.

So Oz went to England, and confronted his former friend. He used the anger and all the bitterness, letting it out until he felt empty inside. Then he walked away, numbness setting in as he got on a plane to San Francisco. Cordelia had been wrong. He did feel better.

He didn't feel anything at all.


If you tell me that you'll wait for me
I'll say I won't be here
I want to say goodbye to you

Numbness was a godsend.

Oz drifted from person to person, not really caring about what happened to him, trusting in the fickle bitchiness of Fate to keep himself alive. It was easier not to care. To keep things as shallow as possible with other people. No expectations, no commitment, no hard feelings. Easy, neat and without risks. He liked it that way, and if some part of him wanted tenderness and stability, he ignored it.

He was not, despite repeating his senior year, a stupid person. He was willing to rebuild relationships and he had never taken his — extremely rare — friendships lightly. He had proved that after the disaster with Willow and Xander. But he was not willing to risk himself, or what was left of his emotional well-being, when he had nothing to show for it. Betrayal, death, abandonment, and yet more death. It wasn't worth it.

Cordelia and Angel visited him in San Francisco fairly often; they tried to be there for him during the full moon like Giles and Willow had before, and Oz did his best to be politely unfriendly and drive them away. They ignored him, mostly, and kept coming to watch over him. Eventually he gave up and handed Cordelia the keys to his apartment. She had just laughed and hugged him.

If he had known that she was going to drag him kicking and screaming back into the world, he'd've shot her. Or something.

That was his first thought as he opened the door to reveal Giles on the other side. His mind blanked, completely, as he stared at his unwanted guest. Oz nodded politely. "Giles."

If Giles answered, Oz didn't hear it. He just stared in shock and wondered if slamming the door and shrieking obscenities would be considered impolite. Eventually, after an awkward few moments, Oz gave in to the inevitable and let Giles inside. But he was determined not to fall for Cordelia's blatantly obvious plan to reconcile him with Giles. And he was going to have a little talk with her the next time he saw her.

Giles turned to smile at him. It was a sad, sort of shaky smile and Oz felt something in him give at the sight. He set his jaw and leaned back against the door, pulling belligerence around him like a shield. He crossed his arms and spoke quietly. "I was expecting Angel."

Giles opened his mouth to answer. Closed it. Then: "You've gotten me instead."

Well hell. Did everyone think he was stupid? It was perfectly obvious that he had gotten Giles instead. "I see," Oz allowed, wincing inwardly at the total inanity of the statement. "Would you like anything?"

Oz pushed himself away from the door and started toward the kitchen. He stopped and turned around when Giles spoke softly.

"I would like to talk to you."

No. Not a chance. He was not going to let Giles in again. Oz smiled briefly, and insincerely. "I don't particularly feel like talking, so it looks like you're out of luck."

It happened quickly; Giles reached out a hand to touch Oz's shoulder and Oz reacted just as quickly, flinching away from that light touch. Before...before Buffy had died, and Giles left, he would've welcomed that sign of affection. But now...it just hurt. So he lashed out angrily. "Don't fucking touch me, okay?"

Oops. He hadn't intended to swear. But he hated the way Giles made him feel. He hated the fact that Giles made him feel anything at all. Okay, screw politeness. Oz just wanted Giles to go away.

"We will talk, Oz."

Rude. He could do rude. "No, we won't." Oz glared at the former Watcher, mimicking a pose he had seen Buffy use countless times.

It didn't work any better for him.

"You staked Willow."

Fuck. Oh fuck. Oz shuddered and closed his eyes, trying desperately not to remember that night. He shoved the memories down, struggling to force words out that would push Giles away long enough for him to regain control. He said something, he didn't know what; Oz was still trying not to see Willow's confused expression as he shoved a stake into her heart.

Giles said something else, and Oz responded, his mouth working independently of his mind. He started to walk away, turning his back on Giles, and stopped only when Giles told him to sit down.

Oz raised an eyebrow and turned around. He had not just been ordered to sit. Especially not by a man who had run out on them. On him. He moved forward, eyes narrowed. "You have no right to be here, Giles. You gave that up when you ran away and left the rest of us behind. So kindly leave, and take whatever false pretense of caring you have with you."

Giles grabbed him and shoved him onto the couch. Oz hadn't been expecting aggression, and was unprepared for the other man's strength. Giles knelt, still gripping Oz by the shoulders. "I am sorry I left."

No. He wasn't. He couldn't be. "Fine," Oz said, injecting as much anger into the words as he could. "You've said what you came to say, now leave." Please leave.

"You don't believe me."

Oz did believe him. That was the problem. But it wouldn't do to let Giles know that. "Smart man."

Giles sighed. "What can I do to convince you that I mean it?"

"You can't. So leave." Take the hint, Oz whispered to himself, and frowned for good measure. He wasn't prepared, again, for Giles to move so damn quickly. In short order, he found himself pressed against the back of the couch, and listening to Giles apologize. But it wasn't the apology that brought everything to a crashing halt inside of Oz. It was that sad, tired expression at the end, when Giles let him go.

Oz ducked his head for a moment, unwilling to meet Giles' eyes. He drew his knees up to his chest, and rested his folded arms across them, before gazing up at Giles silently. Slowly, hesitantly, he began to tell Giles what happened. Finally, he said, very quietly, "I keep thinking that if I had looked there, been as thorough as you always were, she wouldn't have been taken. That maybe I could have stopped it all; kept Xander from dying, kept Willow from being changed, the whole thing."

"You can't blame yourself..."

The hell he couldn't. Oz felt his stomach clench, and he curled up tighter. "I also kept thinking that you wouldn't have missed it. That if you had been there, it wouldn't have happened either." He focused on Giles' face. "And I hated you for leaving."

Giles was silent.

Game. Set. Match. Oz smiled grimly, and continued. "I hated you more than I've hated anything or anyone else in my life. I go to bed every night wondering if you could have saved her, and then I hate you even more for making me wonder. I hold on to it, and nurture it, and use it as a shield against the nightmares I still have. Every time I go to sleep and I see myself shoving a stake into Willow's heart, every time I remember her looking up at me with this puzzled look on her face before she explodes and turns to ash, I wonder if things would have been different if you hadn't left. You took away my certainty, Giles, and I can't forgive you for that."

Giles flinched and Oz stood up, pacing back and forth. He didn't want to see that hurt expression on Giles' face. It made him feel guilty for what he had just said. Oz turned and Giles was there suddenly. The former Watcher reached out to touch Oz's cheek and Oz drew back.

Giles apologized again, and sighed when Oz didn't move. "I think, perhaps, it would be better if I left."

Oz tried to nod, to say yes, to do anything at all. It would be much better if Giles left. Then Oz wouldn't feel so damned raw inside. The hurt would go away eventually and things would be better...

The door shut quietly.

Oz crumpled, grabbing the end table for support. When it failed, he sent it crashing to the ground in anger. He was not going to lose control. He was not going to cry. Giles leaving was good. Because Oz was not lonely.

Fuck it, yes he was.

He felt hands on his back, gathering him close and holding on tightly, stroking his hair and whispering soft words of comfort.

The sympathy undid him, and Oz began to cry, burying himself against Giles' shoulder and taking comfort in the familiar scent of tweed, and old leather and books. Giles held him through it all; being there as he had not been before, letting Oz hit him and cry on him as he finally let everything go.

The next morning found Oz sitting silently on his couch, waiting for Giles to come out of the bathroom. His mind kept jumping from choice to choice, trying to decide if Giles was worth crawling back into the real world for.

Giles emerged from the bathroom, oblivious for a moment to Oz's presence, white undershirt tucked neatly into his trousers, hair damp and feet bare. Oz stared at him, panicked mind gone suddenly blank. Giles looked up, finally spotting Oz on the couch, and smiled tentatively. "Good morning."

Oz blurted out the first thing that popped into his head. "I thought you were a dream."

Giles' lips lifted into a sort of half smile. "A good dream or a nightmare?"

It was the smile that decided for him. Strong with intent, but wobbly at the corners. "Both, actually."

"Ah. Do you want me to leave?" Giles didn't look at Oz as he asked the question.

Oz looked down at his hands, clasped loosely in his lap, and struggled to find words that wouldn't sound trite or hopelessly over-dramatic. He hated words. He nodded once, deciding that words wouldn't — couldn't — say everything he needed without extreme awkwardness. Oz slid off the couch and knelt between Giles' legs. He reached up, pulling the glasses gently away from Giles' face and staring at him. It was easier to read Giles' eyes if they weren't hidden behind the glasses.

Giles looked at him, mild panic shining in his eyes.

Oz reached up, hand shaking slightly, and brushed Giles' hair back from his forehead. His hand dropped back down to his side, and Oz hesitated. He didn't want Giles to go away, despite all the things he had said earlier. He whispered to himself, a silent plea for strength, then he held his breath, closed his eyes, and leaned forward until he felt Giles' lips against his own. He stayed in that position, body tense and shaking ever-so-slightly, lips barely touching the other man's. His hands remained at his sides, resting lightly on his knees, palms open and up. Open and defenseless. Vulnerable.

For a moment Oz let himself drown in the scent of Giles, the scent of books and old leather, a faint hint of something spicy, warm and comforting and familiar. The scent of cold, early mornings after nights lost to the full moon. Protection, and kinship, and quiet sort of affection. Oz leaned forward again, the tiniest bit, lips pressing more firmly against Giles' own, begging for...

What? Oz felt something inside him grow cold. What was he doing? Why was he kissing Giles?

Oz began to pull away. He had just gotten Giles back into his life, and now he was pushing him away again, asking for too much. Asking for something he didn't deserve, something that he would, undoubtedly, screw up.

After a moment, Giles' hand curved around the back of Oz's neck, pulling him closer. Oz sighed in relief, settling deeper into the kiss, worry forgotten in the simple pleasure of being held.

Giles pulled away after a moment, hands still cradling Oz's face gently. "Er..."

"Um. Yeah." Oz sat back on his heels, looking up at Giles anxiously. "You uh...you know that I...damn. Um."

"You and Willow...did..." Giles began hesitantly.

Oz nodded, blushing. "Yeah, we did."

"Ah...quite right. Er...but you...with..."

"Guys. Yes." He paused, then added, "Uh...a lot, actually."

Giles blinked. "You never struck me as being — "

"A slut?" Oz offered, green eyes glittering.

"Promiscuous," finished Giles, looking at Oz reproachfully.

Oz rubbed his hands against his jeans, dropping his eyes, refusing to look at Giles. "After Willow died, and I came back from England — and I apologize for that, by the way — I um...I did some questionable things." He smiled humorlessly. "Fell in with the wrong crowd, I guess."

"I see," Giles said softly.

"Do you?"

"Better than you might imagine." He touched Oz's cheek lightly, brushing a thumb against his lower lip. Oz rubbed his cheek against Giles' hand, then looked up at the older man. Giles smiled and leaned over, kissing Oz's forehead gently.

Oz sighed, curling up on the floor, his back against the couch. He tilted his head back, looking up at Giles with a rueful smile on his face. "This is...uh. On the unexpected side."

"A bit, yes." Giles leaned back, closing his eyes. "I rather thought you wouldn't have spoken to me at all."

"I...yeah. Um...I'm sorry for what I said before. About hating you. 'Cause I don't and um. I'm sorry," he finished lamely. "You can go. If you want. I mean, I don't want you to, but if you're weirded out or anything..."





Goodbye to all my friends
Goodbye to everyone I know

Cordelia was insufferably pleased with herself the next time she came to visit. Several months had passed, and the two of them were still trying to work out exactly what they wanted from each other. They didn't, in Oz's opinion, need an intrusion and he was honest enough to say so. Cordelia laughed, and went about making herself a nuisance. Giles just smiled at her with amused tolerance, while Oz tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore the smug smile she got on her face every time he was affectionate toward Giles. Eventually, he bought her a box of Godiva chocolates and sent her home in frustration.

That had made Giles laugh.

"It's not funny," said Oz, as he poured boiling water into the teapot. "She wouldn't leave."

Giles smiled and pulled two mugs out of the cupboard. "She was amusing herself."

"Duh." Oz rolled his eyes. "At my expense."

"You did encourage her," Giles pointed out.

Oz made an inarticulate sound. "Drink your tea."

"You're just upset that she ruined your grand seduction."

"It wasn't a seduction!" Oz glared at Giles. "It was dinner."

Giles just raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Of course."

Oz smiled suddenly. "If I decide to seduce you, believe me, you'll know."

"And just how will I know?"

"Well, for one thing," Oz said, "I wouldn't do anything so obvious as a 'grand seduction' scene. It's not my style."

Giles tried to hide a smile. "It's not."

"Mmm. No." Oz stretched leisurely and smiled at Giles. "No...a grand seduction would be silly. I'd try for something a bit more..."

"Subtle?" asked Giles.

Oz grinned. "Screw subtle. If I wanted to seduce you, I somehow think subtlety would be the last thing on my mind."

"Is that right?"

"Yeah." Oz set his mug down on the coffee table. He stood up and walked over to where Giles was sitting on the couch. He leaned over, one knee resting on the couch beside Giles' leg, and braced his hands against the back of the couch on either side of Giles' head. "Definitely not subtle," he murmured and leaned closer, kissing Giles.

Giles lifted his chin, moving easily into the kiss. Oz obligingly moved closer, straddling Giles' hips and bringing his hands down to rest lightly on the older man's chest.

Oz pulled back slightly and grinned. "I'd do that, first thing."

"And then?" Giles looked at Oz eloquently, sliding his hands up to grasp the other man's hips.

Oz settled his weight back on his heels, smirking slightly. "Then..." He stood up easily, moving smoothly. "We'd watch movies. And drink tea."

"That is not amusing."

"You don't like my plan?" Oz asked innocently.

Giles tugged him back down, smiling. "As plans go, it leaves something to be desired."

"Is that so?"


"And what," asked Oz, "would you do differently?" He slid his arms around Giles, rubbing the back of his neck. He ducked his head forward, licking and nibbling on Giles' lower lip. "That?"

"Mm. That is pleasant," allowed Giles, still smiling.

"Just pleasant? I'll have to try something else, then." Oz looked thoughtful. He unbuttoned the first few buttons of Giles' shirt and stroked his fingers over the bared skin. "Skin is nice."


Oz raised an eyebrow and moved his hips slightly, smiling at Giles' response. "Yeah. S'nice." He leaned forward, kissing Giles neck. "This is nice too."

Giles groaned softly as Oz found a particularly sensitive spot and lingered there for a moment. "You are good at this."

Oz grinned and unbuttoned the rest of Giles' shirt. "I'm glad you think so," he said dryly. He finished unbuttoning Giles' shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. "Damn," Oz said appreciatively.

"I take it you're pleased?"

"Very. You're gorgeous."


"I'm serious," protested Oz. "You are incr..." He trailed off as Giles smiled wickedly. "Oh my..."

A moment passed, and they looked at each other. Finally, Giles spoke. "Bed."

"Um. Yes."


Daylight fading
Come and waste another year
All the anger and the eloquence are bleeding into fear

Oz woke up slowly, blinking against the sunlight streaming in through the windows. He had had the oddest...dream...

Giles shifted in his sleep and murmured something.

Not a dream, then. Well. Wasn't that interesting?

Oz sat up and studied Giles' still-sleeping form, running his hands lightly over the other man's chest. He reveled in the feel of warm flesh beneath his fingers, the slight tickle of hair against his palm as he moved his hand lower. Giles' body was firm, not overly muscled, but not soft either. Aesthetically pleasing.

Incredibly so.

Giles woke up then, as Oz's hand ventured a bit lower. He blinked at Oz, then smiled faintly. Oz leaned over, kissing Giles. Giles tugged him down, pulling Oz close against his body and kissing the nape of his neck lightly. "Go back to sleep," he murmured, wrapping an arm around Oz's waist, holding him still. Oz sighed, settling back against Giles' warmth and drifting off to sleep, content.

Moonlight creeping around the corners of our lawn
When we see the early signs that daylight's fading
We leave just before it's gone