Page 57, Third Row, Second In
by Dolores

Before he turned up in Sunnydale, the last time Giles had seen Ethan was in the Rune, so it should have been less surprising than it was when he saw Oz sitting cross-legged in the corner, engrossed in a text on Egyptian necromancy. The Rune might only be an occult bookshop but like many specialist literary outlets it tended to attract a certain crowd, and they were often in there as much as the staff. Something about the way Oz was sitting suggested he knew the place too well to be a casual visitor.

Almost unconsciously Giles moved to the semi-shelter of a bookshelf, not quite in a mental place where he was ready to talk to Oz. He shuddered inwardly when he heard his own thoughts, and felt sure he'd left America just in time: the psychobabble had infected him.

He wondered if Oz ever thought in psychobabble, but it was probably unlikely. Oz was more likely to think in Led Zeppelin lyrics.

Giles' attention was suddenly wholly absorbed by the Oz's finger, which was drifting slowly to Oz's mouth. Oz's tongue shot out and the two met, before the finger drifted back down to turn the page. Giles swallowed.

He was no longer a schoolboy, that was for certain. Stainless steel rings had appeared in both ears and his bottom lip, and a dark tattoo peered out from one sleeve of his navy blue short-sleeved shirt. He was even thinner than Giles remembered, but it suited him: his face was impossibly pretty.

It wasn't clear to Giles how long he'd stared but he nearly wet himself when Oz, without looking up, said, "you still wear the same aftershave. I like that. It's somehow comforting."

"Ah, uh, hello, Oz, um, I didn't want to disturb you."

Oz closed the book and his eyes met Giles'. "It's cool. Must have been surprising."

"Well, yes. Pleasantly so, of course."

Oz mouth quirked. "Apparently so."

Giles tried not to wonder what that meant, even as his brain remembered vaguely that creatures with a sensitive enough olfactory system could detect the scent of pheromones, and he was probably oozing them.

Perhaps he should change the subject. "So, you, uh, live in London now?"

"For the moment. You're back in England for good, or just a holiday?"

"For good. I have a flat in Bath now, just here for the day really... whereabouts in London?"

"Upstairs. The Rune rents out a few bedsits to those with an interesting background."

Giles dimly remembered that Ethan had once rented just such a room.

"You want to come up for a cup of tea?"


They exchanged news over two stained mugs in the spartan surroundings of Oz's bedsit. Clothes were piled in the corner, a few books sat on the window shelf and a guitar rested against the wall. There was precious little else, apart from the bed on which they sat and a small nightstand on which sat an alarm clock and a lamp. Grey light from the small window picked out motes in the air.

"So what do you do now?" Giles asked eventually, having given up hope Oz might volunteer the information.

"I'm just earning some money, get myself sorted before I move on," Oz said, then opened the drawer on the nightstand and pulled out a magazine and handed it to Giles. It was called 'Boyz' and had a picture of a haggard Deborah Harry on the front. Giles glanced at Oz. "Page 57," he was told.

Giles dutifully turned to that page, to find a grid of pictures of young men in various states of undress with a mobile telephone number beside each.

"I'm third row, second in," Oz said, and Giles was sure there was a tremor in his voice.

There was only a torso in the picture, thin, pale and smooth, with a sun tattoo surrounded what appeared to be a pierced navel. The photo was cut off just as it drifted down to the pale red hair of the groin.

"You're a re... male escort?"

"No, I'm a rent boy."

"Oh. I see."

Giles had to force his gaze up from the page and onto Oz. He had a curious expression, an air of defiance, as if challenging Giles to disapprove.

Perhaps he was expecting it. Indeed, a few years ago he might have stammered something about how terrible that was whilst wiping his glasses but as he'd aged he'd got younger and it wasn't as if he hadn't done darker things in his youth.

"You wouldn't rather busk?"

"Didn't you ever read Freddy Iverson's reviews?"

"I do believe he took the term 'critic' rather too seriously. He even managed to find fault in Loaded. Although I must give him credit for reviewing it."

Oz seemed to relax a little. "Weird thing was he thought the Spice Girls were excellent."

Giles chuckled and then licked suddenly dry lips. "I'm not about to lecture you on your life choices, Oz. If it doesn't sound too trite, I just hope you're happy."

"I can definitely think of worse things to do. Politics. McDonald's. American Idol."

Suppressing an inappropriate grin, Giles said, "it must be rather lonely."

Oz shook his head. "Nah. I got some friends. In the bookstore, mostly. And there are the regulars; they're almost friends."

Giles almost said, "friends don't pay," but he held his tongue.

"I guess," Oz began, fiddling with his mug, "that I don't really do happy. Kinda like Angel in that respect; I can't afford to get too close to anyone. For their sake."

"Oh, Oz." Giles leaned forward, wrapping an arm around him. "That's simply not true."

"Maybe," he replied, but still sounded unconvinced.

Giles stared straight into Oz's eyes, wanting to prove to him that he was wrong. "You can get close. You must."

"Must I?" Oz moved his face closer to Giles'.

"Yes. Yes," Giles murmured, "yes, you must."

"Well, okay."

Oz smelled of soap and some slightly florid: his hair gel perhaps. He tasted of sweet, milky tea and he was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a very good kisser. They both dropped their mugs onto the floor, unwilling to stop this for the sake of tidiness, and the dregs dribbled onto the threadbare carpet.

One of Oz's hands gripped the nape of Giles' neck whilst the other deftly unbuttoned his own shirt, and Giles was all too eager to explore the pale flesh with his hands, pulling at tender nipples until Oz grunted in what Giles hoped was a sign of pleasure. The burn of Oz's stubble was a sensation he hadn't felt in years and it made him feel surprisingly young. The metallic tang of the lip ring was new and oddly arousing.

He was out of breath when Oz broke the kiss and stood up, efficiently stripping off his remaining clothes and standing briefly on display as Giles cast his gaze over his thin, defined body and the bobbing erection that was several shades darker than the rest of Oz's body.

Giles moved forward off the bed onto his knees, tossed his glasses to one side and grabbed Oz's cock in one hand, licking a wet stripe across the tip. Oz grunted again and pushed the flats of his palms down his flanks, head back. Giles licked some more, enjoying the noises Oz made, then began to suck on Oz's balls, slowly jacking him off with his hand. It would seem Oz shaved his scrotum but that was not in any way unpleasant.

"F-f-fuck," was about the only recognisable term issuing from Oz's mouth. This was even more fun than Giles remembered. He moved back to Oz's cock and began to suck in earnest, choking slightly at first until he got the hang of suppressing his gag reflex again.

Oz began to pump his hips, and one hand moved up to pinch a nipple.

"Gonna cum," he said, as the hips moved faster. Giles picked up speed as much as he was able until Oz bucked hard and his issue filled Giles' mouth and dribbled down his chin.

Both of them were still a little breathless when Oz dropped down so he was kneeling across from Giles and could lick Giles' face clean. That task completed, his hands found the hem of Giles' woollen pullover and tugged it up and eventually off, pulling Giles back up onto the bed as he did so.

The kissed again, rougher this time and Giles almost wished he could bite a little harder on Oz's lip. Tempted by the very danger. But then Oz was kissing a chain down his chest, swirling a tongue into his navel and unbuckling Giles' belt all at once. He hauled off Giles' trousers and boxers in one swift, smooth motion, shoes and socks too. Then he was back in the drawer of his nightstand, producing a condom and a bottle of lubricant.

"How do you want me?"

Giles made a mental note to try to get Oz to slow down a little in future, but he was enjoying this too much right now. "Well, I, uh, well, do you have a preference?"

Oz shrugged. "Me on top?"

"Sounds absolutely wonderful to me."

As efficient as ever, Oz had the condom on Giles' cock and them both slicked up in just a few seconds. He straddled his old librarian and, reaching behind himself to line Giles up, sank down remarkably quickly, mouth twisting only briefly in discomfort. Giles considered for a moment how appallingly practised this young man had become. Clincal. Perhaps he could be retaught how to be sensual.

Oz clenched and Giles decided that education could wait just a moment. Oz moved up and down on Giles' cock, squeezing and digging his nails into Giles' stomach and chest, and now Giles was groaning and it was decidedly pleasurable.

It was over all too soon, Giles heaving upwards, gasping. Both of them slick and shiny with exertion, hair matted onto foreheads. Then Oz disengaged and tossed aside the condom. He regarded Giles for a moment with a slightly wry expression then lay down and spooned into Giles. They were silent on the bed, Giles gently rubbing Oz's stomach in circular motions, nuzzling his neck.

They were there together for at least ten minutes before Oz's voluminous jeans began to trill. Oz had the grace to look a little guilty before sliding away from Giles and off the bed. He fished in a pocket for his cell phone and pressed the green button.

Giles' illusions — delusions — shattered with Oz's half of the conversation.

"Yeah. No, not immediately. Give me twenty minutes? Yeah, the usual place above the bookstore."

He pressed the red button and looked at Giles. "Hey, uh, I don't want to seem rude but I kinda have..."

Giles waved a hand. "No," he said gruffly, "I understand. You need to... well, yes I should go."

They both dressed in silence, Giles wondering what on Earth he'd been thinking, that it was all so wrong — but then it wasn't as if he hadn't been told. We all needed to pay the bills.

Even so.

It was all over but the leaving. He walked to the door, Oz lingering near the bed, and then he stopped. "Oz — I'd like to see you again."

Oz looked slightly hesitant. "Yeah, sure."

"Er. I, well, later perhaps. I know where to find you."

Giles made to leave, pushing the handle — then felt Oz's hand on his arm. He turned his head and smiled a little. "Yes?"


His brow creased. "Sorry?"

"Fifty. Fifty pounds."

Giles blinked. "I don't... oh my God."

Oz shrugged a little. "I gave you a discount."

He ran trembling fingers through his hair, feeling a little nauseous, and croaked almost to himself, "friends don't pay."

His words visibly stung Oz, who blinked and looked away, anywhere but at Giles. But he didn't back down. "It's just that London's expensive," he said, presumably by way of explanation, sounding more matter-of-fact than he looked.

"Yes. Indeed." Giles pulled out his wallet and gave Oz some notes, humiliated beyond measure and needing to have this done with.

Giles lingered for a moment longer, wanting somehow to say something that would make one of them feel a little better.

"Um, I've kinda got somebody coming over."

"Yes. Oz, I meant what I said, about you needing to let people get closer, and I still do."

Oz shook his head. "Can't take that chance."

Giles reached up and cupped Oz's jaw. "I'm still your friend, Oz."

"As much as anyone," Oz replied faintly, looking away again.

Giles grasped his jaw a bit more firmly, forcing Oz to look at him. "No," he said. "More." A pause. "I will be back."

He withdrew his hand and turned away, heading towards the door. "Next time," he said, looking back at Oz. "Next time, I won't have to pay you."