by Amz

Giles hesitated.

He stood with his hand poised over the suitcase on the kitchen table and watched a naked Oz walk closer, squinting at the pair of socks in Giles' hand. The wolf rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand, his fingers splayed out to reveal chipped, black polish covering the nails.

He stood silently in front of the watcher who resumed packing the already swollen suitcase. The wolf's eyes swept over the scene quickly and rested upon the emerald tie adorning the older man's neck.

"Well now I feel underdressed." Oz glanced down at himself, before gazing at Giles with a raised eyebrow.

Giles turned slightly, not hiding the small smile that played across his lips as he reached for the last of his neatly stacked shirts. "Good morning Oz." No explanation.

The chipped black nails combed slowly through a raven mess and Oz stretched, extending his small torso, a picture of calm. His eyes failed him however, showing more concern than he'd admit to. Giles pointedly avoided them.

He disappeared into the bathroom; Oz didn't follow, and when Giles returned to the table, Oz was gripping the back of a chair tightly as he gazed at the bag, waiting for Giles to explain himself.

Sadness and love swept over the watcher's face and he set a small bag down beside the luggage. "Tara rang this morning," Giles began. He saw Oz's shoulders tense and he continued. "It seems they've raised Buffy...I'm to catch a plan that leaves at two, I've...there are some details on the fridge." He exhaled quickly and shoved the small bag into the suitcase and tugged at the zippers on the sides.

"Whoa." Oz frowned. "She...okay?"

Giles fastened the lock. "That's ah, that's what I'm going to find out." His voice was quiet, disturbed.

A hundred thoughts ran across Oz's eyes. "Uh, if you give me a second, I can throw some stuff together..."

Giles sighed. "Oz, I..." He stepped closer to the wolf and ran his right thumb across the pale patch of flesh beside a blackened eyebrow. "I don't think that's a good idea. Under the circumstances ... they don't need another shock right now." His fingers lingered over the wolf's ear, his palm pressed against his cheek.

Oz ducked out of the older man's grip. "Yeah." He shrugged. "You're probably right." He glanced at the bag before turning and heading back into the bedroom.

"Oz," Giles called, frowning. He followed the wolf into his room and watched as the boy stepped into a pair of boxers. "I'm coming back." Wrinkles lined the corners of his eyes.

Oz looked up and shrugged. "I know," he said and hunted around for a shirt. "How long will you be gone?"

"I've no idea." Giles admitted. "As long as she needs me, I suppose."

The wolf's eyes narrowed. There was something he wanted to say, but he didn't know if he should. Giles waited.

"I wasn't suggesting we tell them anything...Buffy was my friend." Oz scratched his ear. "I would've gone to her funeral if I'd known..."

Giles pulled the boy into a hug. Oz waited a beat before sighing and wrapping his arm around the watcher's torso just as tightly.

Giles rubbed the wolf's back. "I need somebody to keep those pesky patrons at the club entertained." He spoke into Oz's hair. "Will you do it?"

Oz laughed and sighed again. "They'll be wondering what happened to the lead vocals."

The embrace tightened. "I will call you." Giles promised.

"You better, Rupert. Postcards too." Oz snorted.

"Of course," Giles replied seriously. "Only the best for my Oz."

"Damn straight." Oz said, before pulling back slowly and frowning at Giles.

Giles smiled. "What's the matter dear?"

"You've never called me that before." Oz hesitated.

"You don't like it?"

"No, I..." Oz smiled and Giles mirrored his expression. The watcher went over to the cupboard and pulled out a shirt and some pants. He offered the clothes to Oz.

"You are coming to the airport, aren't you?" Giles asked.

"Wouldn't miss it."

"Neither would I." Giles shook his head.

Oz laughed.