by Princess Twilite


"The strangest of the strange.
The queerest of the queer."
— 'Queer,' Garbage.

He plays music at the club, in the grime-on-red lights, circle the room atmosphere and I sit with my glass of brandy sweating on my left palm. The round table digs into my ribs as I lean forward, focused on him and him alone. The bronze is made of young faces and I stuck out like a blood on white snow, during a long, long winter.

I didn't mind overmuch. The cigarette smoke filtering through the air and the tinge of spilled booze could not draw my interest away. Someone hollered out an obscenity, right near my ear. I didn't flinch, heart already plummeting to that low place that I've had hidden for all these celibate months.

Buffy and Willow have their chairs turned toward the stage, big grins stretching their young faces wide. The back of their heads bobbed nearly in sync, blonde and red spots in the darkened room. Innocent. If Willow only knew, she might be a lot more wary of me and a great deal less apt to smile.

I knew enough of myself to know that later I would think back and be wary as well, frightened at my own audacity even in a vague, smoky place where I could secret my face away into the shadows and PRETEND I wasn't thinking those insane things that I was.

Fissures of awareness strung up my stomach, tied it into knots that flailed against my heart: bump-bump. My thighs tightened against the chair inside my pants, clenched against the sensation of falling off a cliff.

Had I drank too much? Vertigo was familiar, dragging me toward the edge.

I stay as still as I can, fought against it. I was hot from my overcoat, watching. Drops of sweat fell beneath my collar and down my spine, urging me to arch forward. I did not, could not, because that would draw too much attention to my current expression.

Oz handles music like a lover, smooth, easy.

His hands, pale, drifted across the tune like a woman you'd fuck in the dark and not know her name — but remember, always remember the way she came.

Sometimes I find myself listening to him when I should be researching, saving Buffy's life or the world, sometimes I don't remember WHAT I am doing. His voice, when he speaks, touches the air as sinuously as a soft, sweet kiss. Never long in existence, but it gets your attention.

You think of it long after it had gone.

But now, with Xander tapping his foot at my side and surreptitiously fantasizing about a never day when he got Buffy and Willow in the same bed as him at the *same* time, I feel like I'm some mistaken schoolteacher.

I've stumbled into the wrong building.

I've stumbled into the wrong town.

I've stumbled into the wrong world.

There must be some place else where I can and do get my satisfaction from that slow, careful mouth that doesn't speak as much as it says. Where I can lie down and have those hands smoothing across my chest and up over my neck, sliding into all those abandoned places that no one else can really touch.

For a moment I pictured how it could be.

We'd be alone, in my bedroom with the curtains drawn. His skin would be so pale I could see it in the darkness, slicing through it with his flesh. His mouth would be hot, like freshly blown glass, locking over my finger. I'd brush my hands over his thigh, feel the skin there skitter.

I'd kiss him.

Kiss —

A chant rises from the crowd at his solo, wild and urgent. My concentration breaks despairingly at the wave of group-elation that splashes against the stage and over their feet and hearts. His skin flashes ivory under the lights, then the palest of red and silvers, ever liquid.

In his element, he wasn't quite so quiet. He was so loud that I should have covered my ears to protect my heart, but I didn't.

I swear I see just a glint of his eyes, winking at me from beneath a string of his hair. I swear it was red, a flash of the animal that intrigues me like a hunter to the prey.

Then it is gone, lost in the strobe lights.

I glance toward Willow, who leans forward in her chair, chin tucked into her hand. Buffy pats her back and whispers something that I can't hear. Something I'm sure I'd rather not hear.

A curl of smoke drifts from a deserted cigarette at the next table, brushing my face and I think of my lonely guitar. In my silence, left of the applause, I know how wonderfully Oz and I could play together.