Restricted Supplement to the Watcher's Guide, Concerning Amatory Matters
by Glossolalia

It's surprisingly cold out here, the morning still fighting the dark, all the rocks painted indigo and navy-blue like a punk girl's bad manicure. The sand crunches under her shoes and itches down her back.

Walking back from her chat with the Burning Bush Slayer, Buffy feels different. Most of that can probably be chalked up to sleeping on rocks and dirt, but not all of it. She's a little lighter, not quite all there inside her own skin. Like she's a little smaller than her body would believe.

Love, pain, death as her gift, blah blah hocus pocus. Probably the worst thing about being the slayer is having to deal with all this cryptic mystic fortune cookie stuff.

Hints and metaphors, and she just wants to hit something. Get rid of Glory, go back to her life. Death's no gift, not after her mom.

"Why don't they just use Western Union?" she asks Giles after rousing him. He's rumpled, rubbing at his eyes like a toddler, his hair sticking out in approximately seventeen different directions. "Or, better. Cell phone. Email. I could deal with email. Short, sweet, to the point — hey, Buffy, here's what the universe wants you to do."

Giles flaps out his jacket and gives her one of his patient smiles. The one for Remedial Slayage, it's also useful for Xanderesque Off-Topicness. "It didn't go so well, I take it?"

"Oh, it went," she says as they walk to the car. "Maybe not well, but it came, it dropped some mumbo-jumbo mega-morbid hints, and then it went."

Giles holds the door for her. He's weird like that; she used to think it was because he was old, but Angel was way older and didn't do that. And these days, she thinks, Giles really isn't all that old. And it's not because he's English, either — after dealing with Travers and his little mosquito-cloud of cloned minions, she knows English and that's not Giles. No, Giles is just Giles, and his weirdness is his own, sweet and a little stammery, but pretty cool, all things considered.

And his car is amazingly cool.

"Here —" She reaches over as Giles slides into his seat and starts to smooth down his hair. Giles goes still, shoulders slightly hunched, and lets her touch him. She does the best she can before sitting back; her palm stings a little from his soft hair and sun-heated scalp. "There. Little better."

"The effort," he says, smiling again as he turns the key, "is much appreciated."

She knows way more about him these days than she ever did before. He's not more share-y; she's just listening better. Asking the right questions and not tuning him out.

He's allergic to shellfish. He has principled objections to rayon, lycra, and other synthetic fabrics. He likes Monty Python but prefers the Goon Show and Firesign Theater, whatever those are. He's bisexual — which, okay, she probably could have guessed but never would have because sex and Giles used to be the wrongest of wrong combinations — but he's not exactly seeing anyone seriously these days.

"Except you, of course," he had added and Buffy laughed at him.

Weird, that's Giles, and she's trying like hell to appreciate all of this. After Riley, after her mom, she needs to see and appreciate and maybe then love will just happen, the way it's supposed to.

"And why do vision quests have to be so dusty?" she asks as the Beamer creaks timidly over the rutted desert road. "The cosmos has some stupid objection to a day spa?"

"It does seem that the more significant an event is, the more discomfort is required," Giles says.

Buffy rolls her neck, trying to work out the kink in her right shoulder. "Email, that's all I'm saying. Save everyone a lot of time and effort and chiro, keep me in the game."

He doesn't say anything, and it's hard to read his face, in profile, creased from sleep, blanked out in the early morning sun. But she thinks she sees his mouth tighten, his posture shift, and maybe she trespassed over some sacred and dearly-beloved Slayer thing again.

Or maybe she just hurt his feelings.

"Not that I don't like getting away," she adds and Giles raises his eyebrows. "No, I do. Maybe I shouldn't, but —"

"You deserve a holiday," he says, so quietly it's hard to hear over the purring engine. "I wish —"

"No rest for the unwicked," Buffy says. The highway is visible over the next rise, a stream of silver and glinting light, and suddenly she doesn't want to go home. Of course she does — there's Dawn to think about, and her friends, and the hellbitch in cheap stilettos — but the morning is fresh and strangely cool, they're in a convertible sexier than just about anything, and it would be amazing to drive. Just drive and not have to go anywhere, be any place in particular.

Giles, she realizes, is looking at her. He's pulled to a stop at the foot of the access road and is looking her over. "Would you like to take a little more time?"

"Huh?" Giles can read minds now? That's probably not good.

"We could rest a little more," he says.

"How much time are we talking here?"

Giles lifts one hand and waves it slowly. "Several hours? It's a simple enough spell. A rider, really, on the tails of last night's. Just an extended pause."

It sounds too good to be true. "No, can't," she says. "There's home, and Dawn, and —"

"Half a day won't make a difference," Giles says and there's nothing in his expression or tone to suggest otherwise.

Buffy finds herself nodding. "Okay."

When Giles grins, it takes over his face, makes everything seem bright and sure. She wishes he smiled a thousand times more than he usually does. "Wonderful. There's someone I'd like you to meet, just about forty minutes north of here. We can eat, shower, rest —"

"You sure this is okay?"

"Buffy," he says and puts the car back into gear, turning north rather than south. "Do leave the fretting to me, won't you? I've had far more practice."

He has a point. So she smiles and leans back in the seat. "Okay. Have it your way."

"Thank you," he says. Weird and polite, and she's a little too sleepy to appreciate it fully, but she's still smiling.


"Buffy," Giles says, shaking her gently by the shoulder as she blinks and stretches. "We're —"

"Here?" She smacks her lips and knuckles her eyes. "Which would be where?"

Giles looks up, past her, and Buffy follows his gaze. They're out of the desert, apparently; it's pretty green here. They're parked in the shade of a big tree, right before a house at the foot of a driveway that curves up and out of sight. Little bungalow-garage thing, like a four-car garage that's wearing a bungalow as a hat. Weird. The garage doors are closed and there's a rickety staircase up the side that's covered with vines and flowers.


"My, ah —" Giles licks the corners of his mouth.

"Your friend?" Buffy says, sitting up and shaking back her hair. "Your friend who you want me to meet so you can get the Good Buffykeeping Seal of Approval?"

He squints at her, like he's trying to decide what to say, then seems to think better of it and opens her door.

"Giles has a friend," she sings as she follows him to the stairs. "A special friend —"

He's not paying attention, which means she's bugging him, and Buffy's about to poke him in the back and demand some attention when her heel catches in a knot on the next stair. She has to bend over and work the heel free, hand braced on the banister, gripping at sharp leaves. She should go easier on Giles — it's not like she's ever been very nice to him when it comes to his private life, and she is trying to be better, so — "Hey, Gi —"

She stops when her heel is liberated; Giles is at the top of the stairs already. He's in a hurry to get wherever they're going, and he's pushing open the door, calling "hello". He doesn't do that in Sunnydale; he always knocks, even though he should know he's always welcome.

Someone meets him in the open door; Buffy shades her eyes as she climbs up slowly, suddenly unsure whether she should give Giles and his friend some privacy. They're embracing, Giles' head bent down. Kissing.

Wow. She shouldn't be so shocked, but she is, just for a moment, at the sight. Of course Giles kisses people. She should be okay with that.

Right. She is okay with that.

Buffy hurries the rest of the way up and almost knocks into Giles as he takes a step back.

"Giles, sorry —" she says and then Giles is turning, hand on his friend's shoulder, smiling. God, he looks so happy. His friend is short, and pale, and — "Oz?"

"Hey, Buffy," Oz says. Smiles and pulls a little closer to Giles, arm around his waist.

Oz. Little werewolf, Willow's Oz, vanished from the face of the earth Oz.

"Still slaying?" he adds.

"Yeah. Still howling at the moon?" She knows she sounds distracted. Because she is. Buffy tries pretending she's in the middle of a fight, scanning the horizon, evaluating threats, as she sorts all of this out. Oz, and Giles, and Giles and Oz. Flowers, trailing vines, morning sun. Oz.

His smile curves up. "Not so much any more, nope."

"Erm —" Giles clears his throat, reaches for his glasses, and that shakes Buffy back into the moment.

" So — hey! This your place? It's nice —" She steps inside and, luckily, it is nice. Like a cabin, one big room with a kitchen off to the side, all sorts of windows and light, plain and clean and the walls lined with crates of music and books. A double futon open under the far window and a big green armchair next to it. "Wow, Oz."

They join her inside, and she figures they're exchanging glances, wondering what she's doing, how she's reacting, but she's good. She's fine.

She hugs Oz, because he is Oz, and no one knows what happened to him (except, clearly, Giles, and they're going to have a talk about that), and he's her friend. He's cool and skinny in her arms, smells like sleep and cornmeal, and he hugs her back.

"Hell have you been?" she asks. Giles is hovering in the doorway, trying to look casual and totally failing. "And you," she says to him. "When were you going to tell me?"

"Around," Oz says.

"I believe I just did," Giles says.

Buffy looks back and forth between them, her smile widening. "Jeez. You know, there are friends, and then there are friends."

"Indeed," Giles says, loosening a little and moving back to Oz's side. "I hope —"

He wants her — not really her approval, because that'd be silly, but something like that. He wants her to be okay with this; she can tell from the way he keeps peering at her, how he keeps plucking at Oz's shirt, how he can't stay still.

"Hungry?" Oz says, interrupting her thoughts. "Could fix you up with some breakfast."

"Grimy," she replies and rolls her shoulders. "Maybe a shower?"

"Sure thing." He bumps Giles with his hip. "What about you?"

"I'm all right," Giles says, softly, fondly, the voice he uses with her when they're alone and talking, really talking. It sounds weird being addressed to someone else. To Oz. He cups the back of Oz's head, lets his hand fall to Oz's neck. "Thank you."

Oz goes into the bathroom and leaves Buffy and Giles alone. She shakes her head, still smiling, feeling like she should scold him. That, or congratulate him; she's torn.

"Buffy —"

"You're dating Oz," she says, trying it out, seeing how it sounds out loud. It sounds okay, which is surprising. "That's new."

"Not entirely," he says and moves back to lean against the wall. "I —"

"How not new?" she says. "Because if it's, like, high school, I might —"

"Several months now," Giles tells her. He's got his arms folded over his chest, his head bent down, and he's looking at her over the tops of his glasses. He looks like he has been scolded, but she's pretty sure she didn't say anything mean.

"It's good, Giles," she says and realizes it's true. "It's good. Guess this is where you go when you say you're on buying trips?"

He smiles then, finally. Smiles at her and meets her eyes, tilting his head a little. "At times, yes."

"Don't have to hide it," she says, pacing a little. She's exhausted, but she doesn't dare sit down. If she sits, she'll sleep, and she can't do that. "That's not —"

"I'm not hiding it," Giles says and catches her shoulder. "Oz won't come back to Sunnydale, and I can't leave, so this is —" He pauses, pressing his lips together. "A compromise. At any rate, I don't know that —" He stops again, thinking hard, the lines at his mouth going deep and dark for a moment. "If we're at, ah. That stage. Yet."

She can be good with the boyfriend thing. Even the Oz thing. But Buffy's not sure she's okay with offering relationship advice, especially not to Giles. She is, after all, basically the queen of screw-ups and miscommunication and poorly-chosen partners. She shrugs and pats his hand awkwardly. "I never got to that stage myself."

His smile is smaller now, but still kind, and Giles squeezes her shoulder. "Nor I."

They've been having these moments — quiet, just kind of coexisting and understanding — more and more frequently lately. She never would have thought it was possible, even a year ago, even though they've had them, occasionally, as long as she's known Giles. Lately, it's frequent and much more comfortable, how she can just look at him and know it's going to be okay, that she's figuring out what it is to be herself by looking at what it means for him to be a watcher.

Something deep and philosophical like that, anyway.

"Towels and stuff," Oz says, coming back into the room. Maybe she should jump, pull away from Giles, but only the thought, not the instinct, occurs to her. "You need anything else? Breakfast?"

"Shower, then food," Buffy says. "Thanks."

Oz dips his head, smiling, and scratches the back of his neck. "No big, really."

The bathroom and shower are as small and neat as the rest of the apartment, as Oz himself. Just a walk-in shower, two bottles of shampoo and a new bar of soap in the dish that smells like oatmeal. Its edges are still sharp, a little paper still sticking to the side.

The water is hot and strong and Buffy stands under it for a long, long time, letting it pound away all the dirt and grime and mystical confusion. Oz interrupts her at one point to ask if she wants him to wash her clothes and she's fogged with the heat so she agrees before she realizes she doesn't have anything else to wear.

But he thinks of everything, apparently, because when she finally gets out of the shower, he's left a neat pile of clothes on the sink for her — an old man's V-neck undershirt and ancient, velveteen-soft jeans. Her hands are shaking a little, her skin flushed, as she combs out her hair and pulls on the clothes. They must be Oz's, and they fit her perfectly, which is kind of funny.

Oz is sitting cross-legged on the futon, right in the sun, when she comes back into the main room. Smoke weaves around his head, ribbons and fragments of tapestries, blue and silver in the light.

With Oz, it's surprisingly easy. He looks just about the same as he did the last time she saw him — which, right. That makes sense, it's been just a year. It only feels like a decade. He's sparer than he used to be — light muscles in his arms, heavier freckles across his neck and shoulders, longer hair. The sun catches the thin silver ring in his nose. He looks like a grown-up.

Maybe that's due to the small green bong on the floor next to him.

"Hey. Giles went —" He stops and sucks in a hit, the water bubbling up. "— for fruit." Pressing the heel of his hand into his eye, he exhales slowly, his body sagging.

"Self-medicating there? Stress?" She crosses her arms over her chest because Oz took her bra and she's swinging loose and that just feels...weird.

"What?" He glances down when she indicates the bong. "Oh, no. Habitual." Then he frowns, that thinking line between his eyebrows that always made her think he was a very old man in a kid's body. She hasn't thought of that line in years, but it's all coming back. "Is that worse?"

"Nah," Buffy says. "Each his own, that kind of thing."

"You look good." He says it carefully, like he's considered it and come to a conclusion, his eyes moving over her slowly. "Not just clean. Good."

"Thanks." She unfolds her arms — stupid to be shy around Oz, he's not going to leer or sneak peeks or say something stupid — and drops down across from him. "Sorry for landing on you like this."

"Not a problem, really." He flicks the lighter on and off, and he's not looking at her anymore, but at the flame. Then he glances sideways at her. "You okay?"

"Sure, yeah." When he keeps looking at her, Buffy raises one shoulder and rubs it against her neck. "Okay, still working on you and Giles. But I'm okay."

"He's a good guy," Oz says.

"No argument there. I just —" She stops, but Oz is still looking her over, waiting patiently. Patient like a saint, Oz always was. "Just used to think it was gross. Giles and — Giles, with somebody. Like against nature or something."

Oz tilts his head the other way and touches her neck. She freezes, but all he says is, "Hair."

"Thanks. I don't think that any more — about Giles. And nature. I didn't mean it like that, I meant —" She wants to shrug again, but Oz's fingers are still resting lightly on her neck. "Anyway. It's still kind of freaky. Like — like, he's mine." Stupid. "Sound like a brat. Sorry."

"No, I get it." Oz looks down into his lap for several heartbeats and Buffy's scared now that she offended him.

It's really not the gay thing. Not entirely, anyway. It's more — the Giles thing. "Oz —"

"Want some?"


After sucking in another hit, Oz holds the bong out with one hand. His voice is high when he says, "Tense."

The word floats freely, and it could apply to anything. That used to bug Willow like nothing else, how Oz's few syllables went everywhere and nowhere. Buffy decides now to take the word for herself. "I am, yeah. A little."

Oz touches her neck again, a little too close to Angel's scar, but before she can react, his palm slides around to the back of her neck. Squeezes her there, fingers over the top of her spine, thumb in her wet hair, and Buffy can't help the sigh she gives out.

She is tense. Everything hurts, all the time, and she can hunt all night, every night, chasing down demons and pacing the first slayer, and she never stops. Now that she's admitted it — to Oz, always the mysterious stranger and now more than ever — she can't stop feeling it.

"Breathe," he says and the smoke escapes out of his mouth and breaks over her face. He sounds quiet, authoritative. She gets a flash of training with Giles. There's something about his voice right now, gentle but instructional, and about his other hand resting on her waist, light and sure, that's all Giles.

Buffy closes her eyes, willing herself to go with this, inhaling the traces of smoke.

In the training room, she and Giles have been making a lot of progress. Even if sometimes she feels just like Luke Skywalker, whacking blindly with the light saber while Giles Kenobi chuckles off to the side, she knows it's working. Calisthenics, tai chi, breathing from her solar plexus, all the while listening to Giles. His voice runs through her like another set of muscles. She knows her body better than ever before, knows far she can reach, how high she can float; more and more often, she knows what Giles is going to say before he says it.

Back in that room, bare feet squeaking on the mats, she's with Giles like she never has been. Like they're sharing body and mind — not like that jackass Travers said, where she's just Giles' "instrument" or whatever — and not quite like that spell last spring, either.

There are traces of that spell, though. She saw them in the trance that showed her who Dawn was, saw Giles' face glimmering over her own in the mirror, heard his voice underneath her heartbeat, felt something in her hands, at the back of her mind, ticking like a pendulum.

Maybe Watchers get chosen, too.

Oz's hands go still on her and Buffy tips forward, her forehead coming to rest against his. She can't quite open her eyes as she hears the sizzle and burble of the bong, feels Oz pull away, then slide back against her. Giles is in her, she realizes, somehow for the first time, but she's always known it, too. He's in her, but where is she? He's with Oz. How, though?

Oz rolls his forehead against hers and Buffy drags open her eyes just he kisses her lightly. Smoke in his mouth, savory-acrid, and she inhales in surprise, her lips opening, then kisses him back. Past the brush of lips, and Oz has soft lips, into a real kiss, harder, into warm mouth, slick and soft. This is what Giles tastes. This is what he feels, what she hasn't felt in way too long, this spreading warm tingle, mouth outward, down her skin, pulling her closer.

Buffy yanks back, exhaling, the smoke blurring out Oz's face.

"More?" he asks hoarsely, blinking. His nosering glints through the smoke.

More kissing, yes, she thinks, shivering in the kiss's aftereffects, but he's holding the bong up again.

"Sure," she says.

There's a slow throb that spreads out across her, around her, like tree branches or the vines around his banister. It's the pot, and the kissing, the bump of noses that makes her giggle, the soft clutch of fingers on her neck, her waist, the brush of Oz's shirt under her palm.

The throb thickens, then holds like a breath, and her mind clears for a moment. She says, "Oz? Oz, no —"


"Giles —" is all she can say before the heat fills her again. Oz is holding her like Angel did, back in the graveyard, arms looped around her waist and shoulders, and — God. She's making out with Oz, and Oz is with Giles, and —

"It's okay."

"Not okay. Far from okay. Like the Australia of okay."

"Buffy. It's okay." He says it slowly, carefully, and finally she follows his eyes across the room.


Giles, sitting there in the orange armchair. Lounging, really, his hand supporting his head, a narrow joint in his fingers, shoulders tilting easily against the ugly fabric. Like he's at home here. His eyes are crinkled up, his hair raked through.

He's smiling at her. Softly, privately, and then he coughs. "I could go —"

All Buffy can think is that they should be hiding the bong.

No, that makes no sense. He's smoking, too.

Giles is smoking pot. Right, this is just getting weirder. She should pull away, at least, stop touching Oz. Giles' boyfriend. She's pretty sure — and how late is this? — there must be all kinds of wrongness associated with making out with your Watcher's boyfriend.

Even if the boyfriend is your age.

And he seems to like kissing you.

"Crap," Buffy says.

She expects them to laugh at her, but it's so quiet in here she can hear her own breathing. Quiet, and warm in the sun, and homey.

"I mean," she adds, sitting up and shaking out her hair— her head's swimming and thick from the pot — "I mean, don't go. And sorry." Giles just keeps smiling at her. "Really sorry?"

Oz's hand is warm on her back as Giles says, "Don't apologize. You looked — well, happy. Quite lovely."

He should be freaking out, right? That's his job. She screws up, Giles gets tense and freaked and that's the way it works. But he's telling her she looks lovely? Happy, like he looked kissing Oz hello.

"What?" she asks as Oz pushes himself to his feet.

"Food," he says. He leans down, kissing her cheek, and whispers, "He loves you. Trust me." Straightening back up, he runs a hand through his hair. "Promised you guys breakfast."

"Melons are on the counter," Giles says, glancing up. Oz touches his shoulder as he passes, pausing there for a moment, gazing down at him, and then Giles twists in his seat, watching Oz amble into the kitchen.

Oz seems totally okay with all of this, and Buffy's still trying to make sense of the last thing he said when Giles turns back to her. Now they're alone and this is going to be way beyond awkward.

Buffy sits up, pulling her knees against her chest. "Um —"

"Buffy," he says. Quiet and gentle. Gilesy. He inhales on the joint, his hand curled around it, and she remembers him on the magic chocolate, smoking just like that. Smoking, cussing, brawling, pawing at her mom. She gets that little stab at the thought of Mom, but a stronger sense, like relief, steals over her at the memory that she's seen Giles do stupid things, too. He's about to say something else, but then his gaze sharpens on her. "What are you grinning about? What's so funny?"

"My Watcher, the dope fiend."

Giles grins back and scratches his cheek. "I — well —"

"Haven't seen you smoke since the magic chocolate."

"Well," Giles says, switching the joint to his other hand and rising, coming closer. He really is tall, she thinks pointlessly, especially these days. Without the tweed binding him up and hunching him over, in jeans and his loose turtleneck, he's almost rangy, all broad shoulders and long legs.

She's ogling Giles. Things couldn't get any weirder.

He sits next to her, legs extended, and continues, "I feel I ought to remind you that this —" He lifts the joint. "— is only an occasional indulgence."

"Sure," she says, still grinning. "Like Oz?"

Passing his hand over his face, Giles chuckles, his shoulders lifting. "The two do seem to coincide, yes."

Eyebrows jumping, he hands her the joint when she reaches for it. It's lumpy, and damp at the end, and the smoke's much stronger than from the bong. She likes surprising Giles, though, so she holds back the cough threatening her throat and passes the joint back.

"I don't want you to think, that is, that —" he says as he frowns down at the joint.

"Easy, Giles. We're not shooting smack or robbing pharmacies here." Buffy sits back, kicking her legs out. "Don't want me to think what?"

He looks down at her and she realizes she hasn't seen him smile this much in ages. "I'm not sure, to be honest. I suppose that I wouldn't want you to think ill of — of me. Of —" He waves his hand, the smoke trailing after it, indicating the room. "Of this, all of this."

"Nah," Buffy says. "So you've got a boyfriend. And, apparently, you're a big stoner. Think I can deal."

"Oh, can you?" He smiles over at her and she elbows him lightly.

"Sure," she says. Here in the sun, reclining on Oz's unmade futon, nothing seems terribly worrisome. Like she can handle just about anything. Her body is warm, a little plumper inside than when she woke up, looser. Weed and necking are just what the doctor never thought to order. "Plus, you know, he's a really good kisser."

"He is," Giles murmurs, a little huskily, as he runs his thumb down her cheek. "He certainly is."

Her eyes drift closed; she just wants to absorb all this warmth and ease before it disappears like everything else. Now she's really thinking about Giles and Oz kissing, not in greeting, but just to make out. It's not grossing her out. It's making her grin, actually, and fanning the slow throb of warmth wrapping around her.

"Is there anything about making out with your Watcher's boyfriend?" Buffy hears herself ask. "In your books, I mean?"

"Not as such, no," Giles says, and there's book-guy mode in his voice as well as amusement. The futon sighs as he pinches out the joint and leans over to rest it in the ashtray. "There's plenty about making out with your Watcher, however."

"Ew. Really?"

"Ew? I beg your pardon?" He's teasing her, grinning and nudging her leg with his own.

"What I said. Eww. Age difference and stuff."

"I suspect," Giles says, going a little quieter, "that I'm not the man to talk about that."

She did offend him. Buffy shakes her head. "Never mind. Is it true, though? Or are you jerking me around?"

Giles frowns slightly but when she elbows him again, his face lightens up. "There have been many occasions when Watchers married their Slayers, yes."

There's that word again. "Their", like "mine" and "his", it's possession again, only, Buffy thinks, it's not really possession. More complicated than that. "No way," she says. She should be more grossed out than she actually is — it's the idea of wearing a big white dress in a church with Giles next to her that's making her crack up. "Really?"

"Much way," he says, and now he's musing, his voice slowing as he sorts out his thoughts. "How else was a grown man to explain being constantly in the company of a young girl?"

"Plenty of ways," she says. "Um. They could just be friends, you know." He raises one eyebrow and Buffy frowns. "Okay. So it was like _Green Card_?"

"A sham, you mean? Yes, for the most part. But some, I think, became — for a time, at least — real bonds."

For a time. It's like he said earlier, I can't leave Sunnydale yet. Because all slayers die. It's just a temp job, when you get down to it. Buffy's eyes are suddenly hot, stinging, and Giles opens his mouth, but she says quickly, "Just like _Green Card_, then, because she falls in love with the stinky French guy at the end."

"Does she?"

"Yeah." She does love Giles. She's not in love with him, but right now, that distinction doesn't mean very much. Yesterday she tried to tell him she loved him, said it over and over until it felt like she was speaking Japanese. But he smiled when she said it, smiled like he understood what she meant, beyond all the awkwardness. She's about to say it again now when something else occurs to her. "Wait, what about girl Watchers? Like your grandma?"

Giles' eyes crinkle and he tilts his head. "Easier, I should think, for women. Not so many suspicions —"

"No, like Will and Tara. That ever happen?"

He's laughing now. "I wouldn't know about that, but it's certainly possible. Not, I expect, with my grandmother, however."

"She did!" Buffy says. When she tries to imagine his grandmother, all she can see is Giles himself in an old-fashioned flapper dress and little hat, so she's laughing now, too, grabbing his arm so she doesn't fall over and gasping for air.

Oz appears in the doorway, a spatula in his hand. "Soup's on," he says and grins. "Not that it's soup. What's so funny?"

"Giles' granny," Buffy says. "Macking on the ladies!"

"I beg your pardon?" Giles asks, pretending to be offended. He stands up too quickly, stumbling in the loose sheet and nearly falling over, laughing all over again.

"You don't say." Oz is next to Giles, pressing his shoulder down, kneeling on the futon behind him. Wrapping his arms around Giles' shoulders, he tucks his chin in the curve of Giles' neck and blinks at Buffy. "Tell me more."

Giles is still chuckling, almost helplessly, his face screwed up and flushing like a kid's. "Oz, love, the food —"

Love: he says it so easily that Buffy holds her breath in surprise. But Oz just closes his eyes and kisses Giles' throat. "It can wait. More fun out here."

This is all getting to be a little too much, warmth and laughter crowding around her, filling her up, quickening her pulse, and Buffy tries to pull back, look away, give them some space. Giles is kissing Oz again, like it's another stage of laughter, just a little quieter, but when she swings her leg to the side, he reaches out blindly and grabs her knee.

She goes still. Giles holds her there, looking over at her with one eye, and gradually Oz unfolds from behind him and shifts over until he's straddling Giles' leg. Sitting between them, half-frowning in concentration, reaching for Buffy, too.

"Um, guys?" she says softly. Giles slips his hand up her waist, then to her elbow and shoulder.

Everything's slightly out of place. Giles is kissing a kid, a boy, and they're holding onto her — loosely, but the intent's clear — and she's sliding closer until they're all bent together in this strange, quiet huddle.

"Told you," Oz says to her, hand on her other shoulder.

"What was that?" Giles asks.

"Nothing," Buffy says. Giles' palm is hot on her neck, broad and familiar, though he's never touched her like this. "Nothing, it's okay."

She's telling herself that, trying to believe it, her breath coming a little too fast and shallow. Must be the spell that's making everything vibrate and hold for longer than it should, the weed that's brought her here, Oz's arm around her waist as he pets slow circles down her back.

They're kissing again, and they must have agreed that she's not going anywhere, because their hands are withdrawing, leaving her skin cold, settling on each other now, Oz's hand on Giles' jaw, Giles holding Oz's hip, and they fit together like that. Oz is so much smaller than Giles, but on his knees, in Giles' lap, he's just the right size. Their kiss gulps and slides as Oz's back arches a little, pressing him closer, and he shudders when Buffy touches his shoulder.

Giles is kissing open-eyed, watching her. Giles is always watching her.

But this is watching to make sure she's watching back. This isn't one-way, this is back and forth and looping, drawing her closer.

There's something like approval or the need for it in his gaze as she pushes Oz's shirt up, exposing his ribs and a stripe of pale, tight skin. He shivers again, harder, when she traces one rib with the flat of her palm, then works her hand around his front, and Giles breaks away, breathing raggedly, when Oz jerks as she pinches his nipple.

"Buffy —" Oz says, eyes squeezed closed. "You don't have to —"

"Sshh," she tells him and feels Giles touch her arm as she works Oz's shirt all the way up. As long as she doesn't have to talk, she doesn't have to think, and she wants to do this. As long as she doesn't think about what she wants, or why, she's good, and Oz's skin is soft under her fingernails.

They're outside of time, deep in the silence and bright in the morning, and Buffy grazes Oz's lips with her own until they open again. She knows Giles is watching, intent and gentle. So she kisses Oz more softly than she wants, lulls them both, and when Giles shifts, then exhales, she turns.

Not marriage, not possession, just him.

Fast, hand on his shoulder, pushing him back so his eyes fly open and the whites glow, and when she kisses him, he's flat on his back and gasping, and he opens under her mouth. Woodsmoke and heat on his tongue, thrusting up against hers, raking over her teeth, and Giles is fierce. Not as fierce as she can be, but he's gripping her waist with both his hands, pushing them up, cupping her breasts and squeezing in time with the kiss. Buffy feels wind battering down through her skin, howls and incantations and snatches of rain that steams away as soon as it hits the ground.

And behind that all, the rough sound of Oz's breathing.

Giles has big hands, big enough that they palm her breasts and his thumbs dig into her breastbone, squeezing just a little too hard. She pushes against him, biting his lower lip and holding him there until he understands — his eyes narrowing, breath hitching — and crooks his index fingers against her nipples. His nails are sharp through the thin cotton and Buffy sucks where she just bit, until his lip is fat in her mouth and the breath's wheezing out of Giles' nose.

Her heart pounds at the base of her skull, her eyes are swimming blearily, and when Buffy pulls back, Giles collapses the rest of the way, glasses pushed up onto his forehead, his mouth open and working at the air.

"Fuck." Quiet, wondering, from Oz, behind her. She looks over her shoulder, finds him kneeling between Giles' spread-eagled legs, shirtless and shivering. His cheeks are red, the blush staining down his neck, halfway down his chest. "Fuck."

Wonder, and a kind of awe, in his voice, and he says it again when Buffy reaches for him. The knob of his shoulder rolls like a stone under her hand and she pulls him in, forward, down, mouth on his neck. His pulse jumps in her teeth and his back is a perfect arch. White and curved, turning into an S when she presses the small of his back. The skin there is white and hot; her hand is brown and small and strong, fingers spread, pushing him down. He turns his head, tries to kiss her, and she sweeps her hand up his back, into his hair, and pulls his head back. Red, open mouth and lashes fluttering over wet dark eyes, and when she tugs at his hair, his mouth opens wider.

"Say it again," she says, her voice gone hoarse and not quite her own, but she hasn't felt like this for ages, hasn't felt the heat roiling through her and all thoughts burned away in favor of motion, sensation, power.

Oz's lips curve up and his eyes widen. "Fuck."

Good enough, and she kisses him. She's not Faith, not quite a psycho. She just hunts on the edge of the knife. Oz's mouth is wider than Giles', but shallower, and he doesn't use his teeth. He mumbles when she nips at him, a whine and twist of the head, but clutches at her shoulders the whole time.

There are questions she could ask, and the answers would come — they're both looking at her, their eyes occupying half their faces, wide-dark-wet — but questions need talking and talking means thinking. Does he fuck you? and Do you love him more than me? and Promise not to leave? are things she won't, can't, say.

But they would tell her the truth. If she asked.

"Lie back," Oz says, and his voice is loud in the light, sets it shuddering above her, but his hands are gentle as he eases her back, then lies along her far side, hand extended, reaching for Giles. They're hugging each other with her in the way.

Buffy's body ripples up, then down, when they start kissing her face and throat. They pause every so often, darkening her vision, to kiss each other, hands on jaws, in hair, on her, weaving something warm and pulsing.

Out of phase — more hands than usual, twice as many lips and heartbeats and stuttering breaths, all as time is holding still — and almost too much, almost swamping her, but never fully. Not with Giles' thumb rasping over one nipple and her mouth sliding up Oz's long throat, not with skin being bared, piece by aching piece, to the light, to the sun that won't move until Giles ends the spell, not with little grunts escaping Giles' mouth when Buffy twists her wrist and grazes his crotch. He watches her and Oz, he watches her, and she watches back, sees how he blushes deeply when Oz whispers in his ear, how his mouth hangs a little open, waiting for Oz, how his hand closes in Buffy's and squeezes tightly.

She knows him better than anyone, and she doesn't know him at all. He's inside her, and she's touching Oz, coaxing him onto his back and straddling his waist, pushing his wrists up over his head, and all the while Giles just watches.

He'll let her do anything.

He's lying there on his side, his pants open, his hand rubbing slowly over the lump his cock makes, and Oz is watching him, lifting his hips, rocking under Buffy, and there's no center. There's no one focus, Buffy realizes, and then reels, vertiginous and tingling, falling back and knocking her head on the upended bong.

Faces over her, twins, one lined and one pale, frowning at her, their lips swollen as they say her name.

"Yes," she says. Yes, she's okay, yes, she wants this, them, together.

She wants them the way they usually are together. Fuck, Oz said, another free-floating word that could mean anything, attach anywhere. Fuck. She wants to see them, together; she wants to know what Giles' face does when he fucks; wants to learn if Oz stops twisting away and bares his teeth, rakes lines up skin and moans like a howl.

Hands on their shoulders, she pulls them down, kissing them together. Giles' stubble, Oz's soap-smooth cheek. They're more opposite from each other than she is from either of them — like fucking's not girl and boy or boy and boy, it's just fucking — she's like Giles because she's the slayer and she's like Oz because of the age and size. Hair on Giles' chest, a glinting ring in Oz's pink nipple, shining on a girl-smooth torso; older and younger, booksmart and worldwise, but they fit just like she and Giles do, like she and Oz do.

"Let me —" Oz speaks right against the base of her throat, rumbles vibrating down her chest, and licks across her collarbone so slowly she aches as he cups her crotch and squeezes. He glances up, eyes green and shadow-sharp in his pink face. "Want to taste you. Have to."

Giles inhales sharply, a pant that's held, as he looks at them both. He only exhales as Buffy nods, spreading her legs and pushing up against Oz's hand. So much heat knotting there, deep inside her, turning and clenching like a fist.

They peel her jeans off — later, she should remember to be really embarrassed about soaking Oz's pants, but right now she's hissing air through her teeth at their grazing touches and the air on her crotch burns — and there's a long moment as she lies there that she feels completely naked. More naked than she's ever felt, since that rainy night with Angel. She was bared then, her skin tightening with cold and need and fear; now, she's warm and knowledgeable, but her skin is just as tight, sparking hotly at every brush and touch.

Her head's pillowed in the crook of Giles' arm, and he pets her hair and touches her chest, her stomach, his fingers reaching after Oz as Oz kisses his way downward.

She's ready for him. Maybe too ready, so wet and aching, and he grunts when she snaps up against his face.

His tongue carves streaming ribbons through her, winding around the knotted heat, glancing off of it, and thank God he's not being too gentle. Strong hands braced on her inner thighs — her knees up and feet flat — his chin planted in the stretch of skin before her ass, Oz presses into her, licking and coaxing and murmuring.

Sharp, long banners of heat careen up her chest and down her legs and Oz rides with her, tongue curling around her clit, as her hips jump and fall. When he slides a finger inside, it's even better and she clenches, swivels, around him, bearing down, biting and sucking on Giles' mouth and demanding more. Another finger, almost enough, crooking and scissoring, so close to that knot of heat she can almost feel the relief threatening.

Almost, but not.

Giles' eyes are locked on hers, wide and amazed, his face naked and shining with spit and sweat.

"More, give me —" Buffy pushes herself up, Oz following until he's splayed out face down, his fingers pumping in and out. She pulls Giles with her. There's too much inside her, tangled up near-painfully, for just Oz. She hooks her arm around Giles' neck and kisses him as she thrusts against Oz's face. "Give me you. Want you like he gets —"

He tries to draw back, but Oz is touching him now, too, looking up as his hand seesaws inside Buffy, and his face is smeared wet, his eyes heavy-lidded. "Do it."

There's something in Giles' face, his expression twisting from amazement to something fierce and lined, and he hauls Oz up, kissing him hard, licking his face, and then he turns to Buffy.

"Now," she says and flips over, straddling Oz's chest, wiping her crotch up his chin. This is just feeling, moving, doing without talking much or thinking at all, and she needs more of it, needs to ride and feel and go so close to the point of breaking that she'll shatter and never think again.

Oz holds her hips, holds her still, working his tongue inside, lapping around the edges of the heat, while Giles rises and retreats somewhere; she looks over her shoulder and he's kneeling behind her, bottle of lube in his hand, condom packet in the other. Alone, unwatched for a moment, his eyes are dark and heavy, his mouth twisting open, and he looks handsome and lost and determined, all at the same time. When he sees her looking, her backbone twists like a windsock, pushing her ass up and out, the fire beating through her in long, rumbling waves.

He sees her. He knows her. It's Giles, and his cock is sticking out purple and hard, he has her wetness on his tongue, and he's slicking her up with trembling fingers. Giles on his knees, jerking himself slowly, closing his eyes, then opening them again, looking at her. Hypnotically, almost, so directly that it burns and she pushes back on his fingers.

"Open up for me," he mutters, close and hoarse, and she tries again, the pressure of his fingers burrowing through her. Like training, like fighting, like living next to him, with him, he strokes inside her and she calms slightly inside, borrows some of his patience, and he's pushing his cock against her. Pushing and she's tilting up to meet him, her face dropping forward onto Oz's stomach, and there's so much. Pressure, blunt and forceful, and behind that, Oz's swooping exploratory tongue, so the heat ramifies and divides, doubles and triples, and when Giles is all the way inside, he grasps one of her shoulders and pulls her up until she's balanced on her elbows. "Like this," he says, still that coarse, gravelly voice, "this is what you wanted —"

Not a question, not a statement, but something entirely different, and she nods anyway, the pressure nudging her lungs, making it hard to breathe.

"Give you anything," he adds and Oz grunts, too, rocking his knuckles against her clit, sucking hard, and it's so much, so close.

Giles fucks like he reads, like he talks, brilliant and intense, and he drags the sensation out of her, finds new spots and rhythms that turn her inside out and whirl around her, speeds it up until she's gasping, then slows it down and pitches his hips so the angle slides up, then down, and Buffy's far past words, past breathing, clutching at Oz's thighs for dear life, digging in her nails, sweat sheeting off of her.

And Oz is beneath them, and his tongue stutters in and out of her awareness, and she realizes with a gut-twisting blaze that he's licking Giles, too, sucking his balls and the shaft of his cock and there's so much and no ground, just this sliding, shifting energy that picks up speed and debris and sweeps her outside her body, then deep, deep inside, until she's broken and shattered a thousand times, the shards trapped in her skin and kaleidoscoping around, still, always.

Giles' fingers digging into her hips, his thrusts shoving and nudging alternately, in time with his shallow, harsh gasps, and Oz is sharing it, spreading it all around, and Buffy comes again, one more explosion, and this one she can't take, her leg kicks out and she flips up, away, forward like a bottle rocket.

Oz rolls out of the way, onto his stomach — and, oh God, he's probably in tears, not having come — and he's burying his head in Giles' crotch now, peeling off the rubber, suckling. Giles is stroking his hair, looking down at him like Mary in those old paintings, how she looks at the baby Jesus, and Buffy's twitching all over, air rumbling like rockfall in her lungs, watching them.

Giles, sitting back on his knees, palming the sweat off Oz's back, his face reddening until it's dark, his throat lengthening as his head falls back, and she crawls in, joins Oz, cleans him up and kisses Oz with her numb, burning mouth, before climbing up the length of Giles' body, into the nook of his outflung arm, and twitching down to a dozing sleep.

Except not, because Oz — Oz needs something, and she lifts her granite-heavy head and blinks at him. "Oz?"

"Yeah?" Strangled voice from the far side of Giles.

"Can I?" Do anything? Thank you? Touch you again?

"Yeah," he says again, and Buffy crawls down, past Giles, and up to Oz's side.

He's lying on his back, hand in his boxer shorts, blinking at her. His chest is mottled with sheet-creases and blushes and his ribs expand like architecture as he breathes. His free hand scuttles over the futon and comes up with the ribbon of condom packets Giles dropped.

She takes it from him and glances over at Giles. "He's out, isn't he?"

"Yeah," Oz says, rolling his head to look at Giles, taking his hand. "Down for the count."

"We killed him," Buffy says.

"He always —" He stops and purses his lips as she tugs down his boxers and unrolls the rubber. His cock is nearly as dark as Giles' was, swollen and hot under her hands. "Always passes out."

He's smiling now, reaching for her, as Buffy kneels over him.

"I beg your pardon," Giles says thickly, his eyelids lifting several times before they open all the way. "Oh, my."

She's still so wet, her pussy clenching in time with her heartbeat, that it feels for a moment like she can't take Oz in, like there's no room in the shards of what she was. But then Oz cranes up, kissing the underside of her breast, drawing his tongue slowly over the curve, and she pushes down as he thrusts up. Inside, the heat starts spinning again, revolving, as Oz pushes up and up and Giles draws closer, stroking her back, Oz's chest, tweaking his nipple, hers, and it doesn't last long at all, Oz's mouth locked on Giles' as he comes, shuddering and clutching at her, and keeps thrusting a couple times, the pad of his thumb finding where her clit's grinding against his pelvis, and he strums out another orgasm from her, ribbons and twining winds, slower and deeper, and Buffy's hunching over him, shaking, when it's over.

Giles helps her off, her limbs gone thick and hazy, and holds her from behind, tucking his arm over her waist. Oz still lies there on his back, looking at her, biting his lip.

No time has passed, but she's wrung out and half-dazed, Giles snoring behind her, loosening his hold and rolling onto his back, and she's just staring at Oz. Nothing to say — what can she say?

The thoughts come creeping back. She doesn't want them to, it's not time yet, but there they are.

Two by two, the thoughts and duties, marching in rank. Her mind wanders, back to the pointless invocation of the Uber Slayer, to the sad tug she felt when Giles passed over his, whatever it is, claim or love, to the big cat, to the irritation of having to deal with myths and riddles.

"Can I ask you something?"

Oz smiles. "Hit me. Can't guarantee a coherent reply, but hit me."

"So if I said to you —" She squeezes her eyes shut and hopes Giles isn't listening. She'll talk to him about this, but it's easier, somehow, to ask Oz. He's genius-level smart and mellow and — he's not involved. That's probably Giles likes him so much, now that she thinks of it. "If I said — Hey, Oz, this — this X thing, that's your gift, what does that mean?"

He frowns a little. "Run that by me again."

Death is your gift: It doesn't mean anything, it's just a riddle. She tries to explain anyway. "Like, this thing, doesn't matter what it is, this is your quote-unquote gift. What's that mean?"

"Gift's something you get, or give, right? Also, it's like a, a talent."

"Ohh," Buffy says slowly. That makes sense; death is her talent. Better than calling it killing, anyway. "Okay."

With the back of his hand, Oz touches her cheek, her mouth, then her chest. It's a Giles-like gesture, but it feels right, somehow, and her eyes drift close.

He says something else, but she missed it. It sort of sounded like "missed you", which can't be right. He never really looked at her, let alone talked to her; he probably doesn't think of her at all, except when Giles mentions her.

"Miss you," she says, because it's the truth. She's glad he got away, envious that he could get away, but she misses him now, while she's pressed up against him, cheek on his shoulder, and she believes she'll go on missing him when time starts up again.

He got away and Giles will get away, sooner or later, and her gift is death, but right now, Buffy's between them, sticky and warm and exhausted.

"You'll be back," Oz tells her and she believes him.


"Breakfast soon," Oz says later. It must be later, though the sun hasn't budged from the sky, because Buffy wakes up alone. Oz is over by the kitchen and the shower's running.

The little kitchen looks over onto a back deck, crowded with potted plants and a long chicken-wire enclosure. There are only two chairs at the narrow table, but Oz doesn't seem bothered by that as he serves up a thick omelette and passes a plate of toast.

Giles pads in, his hair curling and wet against the nape of his neck.

"Wow," Buffy says, looking down at her plate. The omelette slice is dripping cheddar cheese and studded with pieces of onion and red pepper and what looks like sausage. "Wow, Oz, thanks."

"Welcome," he says, tapping Giles' shoulder so Giles scoots his chair back from the table and Oz settles easily on one knee. They fit together, Giles' long body and Oz's smaller one, and they squint down at their shared plate exactly alike. It's almost spooky, because the position could be dad and kid, but it's not, not with Oz's arm around Giles' shoulder, the little murmurs and shifts they make together.

Things should be awkward. She knows they should all be looking off at odd angles and deliberately not talking about what they just did, but it isn't awkward.

It's nice. It's a late breakfast, all of them still stoned and wiggly and sleepy, and there's time enough for everything.

Oz is the caretaker for the house up the hill, and Giles sounds proud, describing to Buffy all the landscaping Oz does, the two chickens he keeps out on the deck, how he manages to juggle his work with a couple classes at the USC campus an hour away.

"Just night ones," Oz says, spreading cream cheese on his toast, looking at her from under his lashes. "Lit and philosophy."

"Can't date Giles and not be a bookworm," Buffy says and the weird thing is, that doesn't even sound that weird coming out of her mouth.

"Comes with the territory," Oz says, tipping his head against Giles'.

They've got books, and pot, and music — at one point, Oz slides off Giles' lap to play him a Rough Trade bootleg he's been meaning to share — and it just feels normal. The stoned throb, kissing and touching and smoking, is still working through her, making her eyes linger on them together, on them individually, and they're watching her, too.

Giles because that's just what he does, and Oz because — why? She doesn't know, and it's not like she's good with the guy thing, but there it is. He touches her across the table, in passing, and although he always was pretty touchy-feely, it was never with her. With Will, of course, and Xander, weirdly enough, but not with her. Or Giles.

Oz because that's who he is. Apart but here.

The conversation slows to nothing as they eat. Hot coffee and more eggs, which must be fresh from his chickens, and as much bread as she wants, and she stuffs herself.

They're all together for the time being, eyes and hands and soft, careful voices, chickens clucking and bare feet squeaking on tile, and the desert is almost as far away as any hellmouth.