Nine Songs
by Dolores

i. Heroes
"We can be heroes, for ever and ever"

Giles could feel Willow's eyes fixed on them as they tidied the book cage. It was, possibly, simply because she'd never seen Oz so verbose before, but then they were talking about David Bowie and Oz apparently had quite the range of opinions - he was currently trying to persuade Giles that there were albums after Hunky Dory worth listening to.

However, Giles suspected she was slightly jealous. Intelligent as she was, this was not a conversation to which she could make a contribution. He might have felt guilty but actually he was secretly quite pleased.

There was a small irony in the fact that just about the only member of Buffy's small gang Giles felt able to talk to was the one who talked the least. Of course, he had conversations with Buffy and Willow, and he'd even been known to exchange more than a few sentences with Xander on occasion; but he never actually talked to them. Not properly.

In Oz, for all the boy's Californian inflections and surreal tangents, he saw something of himself as a younger man. It wasn't Ripper's violent streak, though God knew Oz had something dark within him. Nor was it Ripper's angry rebelliousness, despite the painted nails and dyed hair.

Mostly, it was the love of music.

When he tried to bury all trace of Ripper the music had been part of that. He'd kept the albums because he thought they might be worth something, although he'd never quite got around to selling them. But he'd burned the concert tickets and the posters and threw away his t-shirts and tried to forget what he knew. But in these last few months since Oz became a regular fixture in the library, it had all been brought flooding back.

And he felt quite absurdly grateful.


ii. Pink Moon
"I saw it written and I saw it say, pink moon is on its way"

Oz had a particular fondness for British music. Which is not to say he didn't like American artists, or Canadian ones or, well, anything that was good. But he felt British artists had a slight edge of cool somehow denied to anyone else. Kinda odd, considering his perception of England and the English had otherwise largely been shaped by a stuffy librarian who seemed as close to cool as Sunnydale was to normality.

That was until he got to see Giles' record collection in his apartment one time, and, long before the rest of the gang saw Ripper come out to play, Oz had realised that the stuffy librarian was actually way more with it than he ever let on. Or at least, he used to be.

The first morning he started talking about music with Giles it was a little way after dawn, and he was pulling on some clothes in the book cage as Giles fussed about at the counter trying not to appear like he might be in any way looking in the direction of a semi-naked youth.

Maybe that's why he seemed a bit flustered and unresponsive at first. It was like getting some old car to work again, the engine taking a few turns before roaring into life. Oz had to talk earnestly about The Kinks and The Who and Bowie for nearly three whole minutes before Giles even opened his mouth.

He was hesitant at first, then gradually he warmed to his subject, talking about gigs he went to in smoky pubs with sticky floors, and of buying vinyl records in small shops in Camden when he should have been saving his money to pay the rent. Oz knew he was heavily censoring the memories; there were a few times when he'd start a sentence but stop halfway through, clear his throat awkwardly and then start a different one.

It made Oz all the more eager to find out more.

Once they got going, Giles seemed equally curious about Oz's musical tastes, why particular bands were important to him whilst others were not. He was astonished to find they shared so much in musical taste, and he set about filling what he saw as the gaps in Oz's knowledge.

The first album he bought Oz was Nick Drake's Pink Moon, passed to Oz over the counter as if it were somehow illicit.

Oz was touched. "Giles, you really don't have to buy me anything."

Giles smiled, happy with himself. "Well, consider it an indefinite loan then."

As it turned out, there was to be a lot of lending.


iii. Sweet Jane
"Children aren't the only ones who blush"

"He was there, Devon. Dude, he actually went to a Velvet Underground gig. He is seriously cool."

Devon knew this was pretty high praise in Oz's book, and that the Velvet Underground were just about Oz's favourite band, so he decided not to carry on arguing that Oz was risking his reputation for coolness to be hanging around with an old book guy, and put his efforts into setting up their equipment.

Devon really didn't know much about the rest of the world around him — like, he could just maybe pick out Canada on a map if it had drawings of a Mountie and a moose on it to help — but he was almost as in to his music as Oz. Which meant that even he was mildly impressed that old book guy might have seen the Velvets live. Not so much he'd hang around with him himself, though.

The Bronze was always really quiet before it opened, just the sound of Oz tuning his guitar and the clink of bottles as the bar was restocked. The whole band heard the footsteps that echoed from the dancefloor and looked up.

Speak of the fucking devil.

"Hey Giles," Oz said, putting his guitar on its stand and jumping off the stage to greet his visitor.

Devon attempted to eavesdrop, trying to be subtle but probably failing, as they had an urgent whispered conversation. Oz was all 007 a lot these days, running off in the middle of rehearsals and or going out of the room to make calls. Old book guy wasn't quite loud enough to hear though, so Devon gave up and just watched them instead.

One other thing that Devon knew a lot about was love. Well, maybe not love. Attraction. You had to learn about the signals in order to be as successful as he was with chicks, because you had to know when it was safe to make a move, go from first base to second and all that, and not get yourself a soda in the face or a kick in the balls.

Now, he might be wrong but he was pretty sure Oz could have made first base there and then if he really wanted to, though Devon was confident old book guys weren't Oz's type.

Oz turned to face him, and Devon tried to act natural. "I need to go take care of something. I'll be back before the start of the gig, promise."

Devon shrugged. If it were anyone else he'd have made some crude innuendo. But as it was Oz, he just said, "cool." All the same, he flashed a grin and a knowing wink at old book guy, who flushed and stammered something in British that Devon didn't quite catch.

Oz glanced between them both, gave Devon a crooked smile and strolled off, old book guy following. He looked back at Devon as they got to the door, still slightly red.

Heh. Make that second base.


iv. She's Leaving Home
"Something inside that was always denied for so many years"


Sorry I didn't say goodbye properly, but I figure that under the circumstances you'll understand. I've pretty much taken all the CDs I borrowed from you with me, sorry about that — I forgot they were in the back of the van. I'll keep them safe till I see you again.

I wanted to say thanks for all the help over the past couple of years. This thing probably would have happened anyway, but I got to pretend it wasn't so bad for a while and a lot of that was down to you. I owe you a lot.

If I can I'll write you again.

Take care.



v. Karma Police
"I've given all I can, it's not enough"

In Tibet, Oz bartered a Radiohead CD for a trinket to give to Willow. He bartered off all the others for food and warmer clothing.

The last CD he exchanged was the first Giles had gave him. He doubted that the guy had any idea who Nick Drake was, but he could probably barter the CD with someone else for something else and Oz needed the food, so it didn't really matter.

Except that it did. True, it wasn't like he had any way of listening to it — he'd bartered his stereo weeks before — and Giles would, he was sure, much rather he gave away a CD if the choice was that or starvation. All the same, Oz felt pretty guilty about giving away property he didn't consider to be his own, and when it actually had some sentimental value to him as well it was worse.

He consoled himself with the thought that at least he hadn't taken any of Giles' vinyl collection with him. He'd have had to starve.


vi. Animal Nitrate
"Oh, what turns you on, now your animal's gone?"

Giles had never had occasion to compare himself to Dirk Bogarde before.

Yet here he was, an overdressed Englishman in the autumn of life leering at a half-dressed youth on the beach. Less Venice and more Carmel, admittedly, but it didn't make him feel much better.

Not that Oz seemed to be bothered if Giles was looking. He was in a pair of board shorts, which seemed comically oversized on his skinny frame. Apart from a pair of sunglasses he was otherwise naked, and, despite frequent applications of sunblock, he was densely freckled and coloured salmon pink across his shoulders and the bridge of his nose.

It was two months since they'd last met and the short hair had grown out again, but stayed his natural red, perhaps a little lighter from the sun. The bruises had, however, faded away.

Oz was staying in Carmel for the time being, apparently with a friend he knew from the band circuit. They'd arranged to meet on the beach as it was a glorious day and Oz wanted to "get some rays." They could have gone to a café, of course, but it would appear Oz thought he, Giles, needed some rays too.

In deference to Oz he'd removed his shoes and socks, but kept on the long-sleeved shirt and cream linen trousers. He hoped his feet wouldn't burn.

Normally, he'd be quite content to sit in companionable silence with Oz, but somehow this felt awkward. Other than brief pleasantries when they met, they'd avoided the subject of Sunnydale and its inhabitants and kept to the subject of music, the one thing they'd always been able to converse upon. But even that had now faltered, and Oz just didn't seem interested. Like he was going through the motions. If it were possible, he was even more withdrawn and introspective.

It made Giles sad in a way he couldn't properly explain. He flexed his toes in the sand, watching the grains spill across his skin.

He was still the only one (apart, he suspected, from Devon), who knew where Oz was. This was Oz's wish so he naturally complied, but he did find it strange that the others, even Willow, seemed not to wonder where Oz might have gone. Not that Oz had expressed any desire to return, even when he'd been told that the Initiative had gone for good. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to say that someone other than Giles actively wanted him back.

If only so he could be encouraged to do something with his life.

From having talked once on the phone to Bob, the friend who was letting Oz stay, Giles had discovered Oz's main employment was sitting around getting stoned and acting morose. Whilst it was quite true that he was in no position to judge a youth who spent all their time doing nothing productive, he didn't believe Oz was happy. But he wasn't sure what he could say that would help.

He could only be there for Oz in case he wanted to talk.

So he sat on the beach, watched a beautiful youth basking in the sun, and waited.


vii. The Times They Are A-Changin'
"You better start swimmin', or you'll sink like a stone"

"Come with me. I'm taking my record collection after all."

"It's tempting. And not just for the records, just so we're clear. But I don't really have the cash."

"I wasn't suggesting you pay."

"Not pay? OK, I know I'm small but I figure your suitcase would still be cramped. And they have scanners, so my nipple ring'd set the alarms off."

"Your — you have a —"

"Got it last week. It hurts. In a good way. Here, look."

"Oh. Yes. Um. Quite fascinating."

"So, yeah. Couldn't go."

"What I meant was that I'll pay for your ticket."

"I know."


"I think I owe you enough already."

"As you know perfectly well, I wasn't talking about a loan."

"I'd still owe you."

"Perhaps. But I like to help those I consider to be my friends. I think you could do with leaving America for a while. I think you know that too."

"Couldn't stay. Don't have a green card. Or whatever they have in England."

"Oz, do you think that I got a green card so quickly just for being a librarian? The Council can make arrangements. That's if you want to stay — all I'm just suggesting is you come for a visit. A change of scenery. No obligaton either way."

"Wouldn't I be cramping your funky Watcher style?"

"Believe me, I'd welcome the company. I might feel out of place in California now Buffy is gone but I'm not entirely sure I'm going to fit back into England."

"What makes you think I will?"

"I think you can make yourself at home wherever you are."

"So, are we going to stay in London?"

"I was thinking Gloucester, or Bath. Somewhere in the West Country."

"That's better?"

"It's different."

"They got record stores there, right?"

"I believe so."

"Maybe I could get a job in one."

"Maybe. So, you're coming then?"

"Are you giving me a choice?"

"No, I don't suppose I am."

"Then I'm coming."


viii. Clocks
"A trouble that can't be named, a tiger waiting to be tamed"

When he'd first come to England, Oz had expected that he would be the one to leave Giles.

Then Buffy was resurrected, and it was Giles who left. Oz stayed, because he actually felt at home in Bath — he'd found some work, in a record shop too, so it was all cool; he'd met some cool guys at the open mike night in one of the local pubs; and for the first time since he walked into UC Sunnydale 18 months before, he felt the wolf was under his control again.

Going back might have changed that.

But thankfully Giles returned; with weird stories of demonic song-and-dance numbers and a conviction that Buffy needed to stand on her own two feet. Oz wasn't sure that was the only reason, but he didn't like to ask.

Now Giles was about to leave a second time, which was almost enough to make Oz paranoid, but at the moment he was too busy feeling trying not to panic. He could feel the wolf trying to surface, respond to the threat, but it was far from able and in any case it couldn't do anything to help.

They were both standing in a field in Devon, night just giving way to the dim light of dawn, Giles all ghetto sexy in a long black duster and Oz feeling totally out of place. A little way away seven witches were busy preparing a spell that would transfer the majority of their major league mojo to Giles and another one that would do a Scotty and beam him direct to Sunnydale. Oz would have to ask about that one day, because it'd come in handy on the days he slept in for work.

That was if Giles did get back — and if Willow was going as insane as was reported, there was no guarantee. Willow was more or less the reason Oz had made the journey south. Once Giles was gone the coven were going to do what they could to magically hide Oz so if Willow decided she wanted to summon him herself to seek revenge for his infidelity — Oz preferred not to imagine how — she'd have a Where's Wally situation.

But there was another reason he'd came.

He wouldn't go as far as saying he'd fallen in love with Giles. He knew he could talk to Giles, and they'd spent many evenings discussing how Giles felt about being a Watcher and how Oz felt about being a werewolf, even one in remission. He knew he found Giles increasingly attractive the more he got to know.

But they hadn't ever talked about how they felt for each other, assuming that that talk needed to be had. Although he suspected Giles might possibly have feelings for him he couldn't be sure and until now he didn't want to risk messing up a friendship that was so important to him.

But then this might be his last chance.

"Hey, Giles?"

"Hmm?" Giles seemed deep in thought, and Oz almost felt guilty for interrupting him with something that felt as shallow as what he wanted to say.

"Mainly, I just want to say thanks for the last few months. And —"

Giles looked puzzled as Oz trailed off. Screw it; he'd never been one for big speeches. Catching Giles by the arm he tugged Giles down, reaching up to kiss Giles on the lips, holding for just a second then drawing back, tongue flashing out from the corner of his mouth. That close, he could smell the fear.

Oz wished the coven weren't staring at them. "Should have done that sooner."

Giles smiled. "Yes, well. Better late than not at all."

"I want to do it again, so try and come back, ok?"

"I certainly intend to. Although it's only fair I should remind you that if this all goes to plan, I may have to bring Willow with me, so, well, I'm not suggesting we couldn't, um, explore this further. However it could be somewhat complicated in the short term, whether or not Willow knows you're here."

"We'll work around it."

Giles reached up and cupped his palm around Oz's jaw, rough thumb stroking his cheek. "Yes. I'm sure we can try."

Oz inhaled deeply, feeling relieved and stressed all at once. One of the coven discreetly cleared her throat.

"I think they're ready."

Giles turned and looked to where the coven waited for them. "Yes, it would seem so."

He squeezed Oz's hand once, quick and tight, then walked away.


ix. Waterloo Sunset
"People so busy, makes me feel dizzy, taxi lights shine so bright"

The headquarters of the New Council were on the South Bank, near the Tate gallery and the Royal Festival Hall. It was cheaper there, and Giles was by nature more at home in south of the river.

On returning to England to take charge of what remained of the organisation he sold the enormous, draughty stately home in Surrey that had acted as the previous residence for the head of the Council — it reminded him far too much of Quentin Travers and the elitist ways of that tradition — and bought a spacious penthouse flat overlooking the Thames in central London. It commanded impressive views: the Millennium Wheel glinted downstream and the tip of Big Ben was visible if you looked just the right way out of the kitchen window. Nearby, railway lines snaked across the river and curled around its banks and the clatter of the trains was ever present.

The flat was cluttered, with ancient texts stuffed in bookcases in almost every room, endless boxes of hair dye lying open in the bathroom, and far too many houseplants giving the place a vaguely tropical feel, especially in the summer, which seemed far warmer than Giles ever remembered from his youth. It was also full of music, both physically (several acoustic guitars, more CDs and LPs than he could count) and more metaphorically, for if one or more guitars were not being played then the stereo was usually on.

Perhaps it just seemed that way because Oz was at home more than he. Most of the surviving Scooby Gang had become official Watchers, on the payroll and in receipt of what training and guidance Giles could offer whilst he attempting to identify and assist the few hundred Slayers Willow had created worldwide. Oz, however, declined, and though he gave Giles immeasurable assistance on an informal basis, he simply got a transfer to another record store in London and continued to work there.

He seemed quite happy with the arrangement, simply telling Giles that he preferred not to mix work with romance.

And anyway, he got a discount. There was always new music to buy.

Though the first CD he bought Giles was Nick Drake. Because there was some old music still owing.