Something That Means Something
by Glossolalia

Oz has questions. He is full to brimming and overflowing with questions. Giles says so, too. Just now, in fact: "You're full of questions, aren't you?"

Beyond the usual polite and/or amused inquiry like that, Giles doesn't seem to have many questions. He knows too much to have to ask anything.

But not Oz. He wants to know what Giles is thinking about, wants to know why kaleidoscopes work, how a single guy can survive for decades on his own without knowing how to cook anything other than a "fairly passable curry", whether Rope was filmed in real-time, too, or if they just made it look like that. If Leopold and Loeb could have sued Hitchcock for libel even though they were child-killers.

Also, what's going on behind Giles's face? What does Oz look like to another set of eyes?

"Huh? Full of questions? Yeah." He takes Giles's plate and his own to the sink and returns to fetch the wine glasses. "You done?"

"Am I finished? Yes. A roast is done, a person is — "

"Finished. Got it." And there's another question right there. Who made up grammar? Did someone sit down and say, all right, this word goes here and only applies to people, otherwise it's wrong, but this other word can go there, and apply to meat and other inanimate things. Of course, meat used to be animate, so that might not be the best example. Still, though. Who decided?

Giles smoothes his napkin after putting it on the table in front of him and sighs. "I am sorry. I seem to channel my father more and more these days."

"It's okay," Oz says from the kitchen, scraping plates into the compost bin. "Learn something new every day, right?"

Giles meets him halfway between the fridge and the dining room, relieving him of the scummy plates, setting them aside without taking his eyes from Oz's. He's wearing the Bowie shirt and old khakis gone fuzzy at the stitching, and it's pretty cool how he can go casual and still look this intense all the time.

Oz wonders all over again what he's thinking. He doesn't ask, because there seems to be a limit to how many questions are socially acceptable within a certain time period, and any more than that? Weird and rude.

"You look tired," Giles says.

"Really? I feel okay." Oz sidles into him just so, hip leading shoulder, and gets what he was looking for: loose arm around his waist, fingers barely tucked into his waistband. Long cool fingers that send shudders right through him like he's tissue paper.

"Thank you," Giles says, tightening the hold and bending a little so his torso moves back but his chin comes to rest on Oz's head. "For dinner. For — "

Oz shifts his stance, parting his legs, bending at the knee a little, the way you do when taking a sharp curve while skating, bringing himself back up alongside Giles. "Welcome. It was just moussaka. Well, TVP moussaka."

"A miracle in and of itself, yes."

"What, TVP? It's good. Once you get used to it." Oz slips both hands under Giles's shirt, spreading his fingers and just kind of hanging on, feeling muscles move, stomach do its thing, heart beat.

"What are you doing?"

Hah. Got a question out of him. Oz tilts back his head and considers, sliding his palms upward as he leans back against Giles's arm. "Ogling," he says. "But with my hands. Tactile ogling."

The chuckle starts deep in Giles's chest and rises up against Oz's skin at the same time it goes up Giles's throat and out his mouth. It's this heady mix of touch and sound, and Oz leans closer. "Do that again."

"What?" Giles asks.

"Laugh." He pushes the shirt further up, remembering all of a sudden that he's never seen Giles totally naked. Giles just looks down at him, smile kind of vague on his lips as Oz moves in. When he rakes a fingertip over the left nipple, Giles sighs and bites his lip. The nipple's shaped different from the right one, kind of splayed out in the middle, wider. "Pierced?"

"At one time, yes."

"Hmm." Oz runs his finger back over it, getting another little sigh. "Your misspent youth?"

Giles laughs again, and it's harder to feel this time, but the rumble's there all the same. "My misspent youth?"

"Your words, not mine." Giles had said that at some point, he's sure of it. It's just not something Oz could have come up with on his own. Oz circles the pad of his thumb over the right nipple, not wanting it to feel left out. "Left one means top, right?"

"Usually it does." Giles's voice is a little higher, which means he's nervous or turned on, or maybe both. Oz is getting pretty good at figuring stuff out from tone. It's like music, where the words in the lyrics don't matter nearly as much how they sound. He's still got a long way to go, but he's learning.

He wonders how that answer would go over in a leather bar. Not the joke kind, not The Blue Oyster, but a real one. Probably not so well. From what Oz can tell, the rules are pretty rigid out there. He remembers he's gone quiet again, so he nods a little. "Mm-hmm. Misspent youth."

Back to words again, he thinks. Youth means a kid, like him, but also a period of time that's not really very well-defined since it depends on time passing. Like "the youth of America" is a group of kids, but "America's youth" could be the Revolution. For Giles, his youth probably went all the way near thirty, and Oz thinks that just because you don't usually get your tits pierced when you're a teenager. Maybe you do, but that would be unusual. Even for Giles.

Oz skims the scarred nipple with his tongue. "Feel that?"


He loves it when even Giles can't figure out what to say. "Cool."

Giles's fingers stroke the back of his hair and down the nape of his neck. Getting touched there always sends jagged, buzzing little shivers into the center of his skull, and down, forking into his legs before doubling back up. Sweet.


"Got another question for you," Daniel murmurs.

Giles knows he stiffens at that, but he cannot help it. All he can do is close his hand around the back of the boy's neck and squeeze, hoping Daniel will not notice. He has felt himself dropping out like this increasingly over the past week, finding himself absent and stiff. It takes more effort to return to the moment each time.

"Hmm?" Giles says, his hand dropping to the small of Daniel's back, bunching the fabric of his shirt. Vague polite noises seem to have become his stock in trade.

Daniel leans back, bracing himself against Giles's arm, wide and shadowed eyes gazing up. "How come we never manage to get all your clothes off?"

Slow, serpentine smile on Daniel's face while Giles considers this. Daniel's hands have slipped around his sides, kneading slightly.

"We've screwed around twelve, thirteen, times," Daniel says, fingers slipping into the waistband and sweeping slowly back and forth. Giles rocks against him, and then they are rocking together, onto their toes then back to the heels. "But I still haven't seen like all of you."

"You've kept count?" Giles is surprised, to put it mildly. Rather like when Daniel inquired about his youth just now. Numbers and time generally seem to slip past Daniel, quietly, without notice.

There must be some term for this sort of — Giles is hesitant to think of it as a learning disability, since the phrase smacks so much the American demonization of difference and the tendency to medicalize everything under the sun — this sort of cognitive capacity. Daniel is far more carefully attuned to the presence of, the sound and weight of, words and things. Whatever is discrete and individual, that is what snags his attention. He likes to sound words out, poke apart their constituent phonics, inquire after their various meanings and their derivation.

He does not count, nor does he pass the time.

Daniel nudges his groin against Giles's leg and speeds up their rocking, sending the red wine straight to Giles's head in flushed haze. Unsteadily, he steps back. Daniel follows bonelessly, and thrusts slowly, liquidly against him. "Sure. I'm counting the couch that time the phone rang, just so you know. Hey, duck."

Giles obeys as the boy sweeps his shirt up and over his head, trailing and catenating deep electric shivers down Giles's back. Daniel ducks his own head under the fabric, and it slides down Giles's arm. He releases the boy briefly and they step backward into the dining room as Daniel presses his lips to Giles's chest. He taps Giles back up against the dining table with a press of his forehead and thrust of his hips.

"Daniel — " and he breaks off, feeling a humming noise tremor run up his throat as Daniel runs lips and tongue over his navel, small pale hands undoing his fly. Giles lifts his hips as much against Daniel's mouth as to free his trousers to be tugged off.

Daniel glances up sharply when Giles's cock bounces up. "Hanging loose, Giles?" he asks, grinning widely. He braces his arms against the edge of the table and leans over Giles. Giles has gone back on his elbows without quite being aware of it. He hums again as the boy's corduroys rasp over his bare skin.

Giles feels he could bear this strange scrutiny that Daniel subjects him to for as long as necessary. He would willingly lie back on his elbows, skin aching for the touches that fall lightly and randomly, nearly as light as the spread of the boy's breath, moving over his nipples and under his arms, for years. If that is what it takes, he thinks nonsensically, so be it. He had dimmed the lights to eat by, so Daniel's head hovers very dark over his own dully glowing skin. He is a strange albino bird in sunny California, but Daniel matches him for paleness, and sometimes, as Giles drifts under him, the only way to distinguish between Daniel's hand and Giles's skin is a watery silver shadow. They certainly cannot be distinguished in Giles's mind via touch. He is too far gone to do that.

He does not know how long he lies there, thighs parted, thoroughly naked, open for inspection. He does know that there have been other times in his life when he lay like this, but they never felt like this. The way Daniel looks at him is gentle and curious; generally in such situations there is a sharp gleam in the other's eye, slightly feral and certainly possessive.

Daniel moves over him slowly and with care, never giving any of the strong hints of potential and future cruelty and violence that Giles's nerves, crackling with tension, have been trained to expect.

Daniel is certainly strong; Giles watches the narrow muscles shift and contract in the boy's arms for minutes on end. Yet while he is strong, there is no aggression in his touch.

Giles feels all this. His thoughts do not move in such clean, complex and well-ordered phrases, however, especially as Daniel takes hold of his hips and pushes him farther up the table. He hears the protesting squeak of skin on varnish as the boy pulls himself up, straddling one thigh, drawing his thumbs down Giles's ribs till they brush the table, and move back up.

Not aggressive but neither is Daniel passive. He simply is there, touching and lulling Giles into this trembling equilibrium that swings back and forth as his face comes in closer, kissing Giles deeply and languidly. In a slow seep of thought, under this touch and inside this kiss, Giles learns that there exist touches other than those of the seductive and the seduced.

Daniel rocks his thigh against the bottom of Giles's cock, his pants left behind on the floor, so that warm taut skin touches his own. Giles is very hard, and the slow friction welcome, but there is no urgency in his reactions, lulled as he is by this careful, endless scrutiny.

His arms give out and he comes to rest on the table when Daniel pulls away and slides off, out of sight. Staring up, Giles blinks rapidly enough for the candelabra's light to seem to quiver in tune with the blood pounding through his dick and up the back of his skull. He loses track — of time, of sensation — in the slow, insistent regularity of the rhythm, until his head jerks up at the sudden grip on the base of his cock and the pinch of the condom as it is unrolled. Daniel smiles absently at him and scrapes over a chair to brace Giles's foot. He swings himself back up and over Giles's chest, looking for all the world like the men in the extreme skateboarding videos he watches over breakfast. Giles almost expects him to grab his ankle with a flourish.

He arches under Daniel's grip, visuals forgotten, receding rapidly, as Daniel captures his wrist and brings it up to his chest between them. Cold lube poured into the cup of his palm, and Daniel is sliding over him, lowering his mouth to Giles's, fists in Giles's hair, his thighs opening wider to Giles's touch.


Oz figures he's nearly humping Giles at this point, messy tongue against Giles's tonsils, ass trembling under the pressure of Giles's fingers. Not that he can bring himself to complain, or even feel that embarrassed. He moans into Giles when two fingertips breach him, and he tenses for a second to keep from shaking like a leaf and flying apart.

In the past week, he's had to revise upwards his estimation of Giles's inherent strength several times. He's up to cathedral-strong, centuries built, peasants humbled and awed, buttresses flying, as the burn subsides to a blush, then starts up as sharp, jazzy tingle and he rocks backward and squeezes down on the fingers halfway in. Giles chuckles under him and Oz nips at his tongue to get at the sound. He's doing these little rocks forward, a couple per heartbeat, when he hears the slap of hand on cock and feels Giles pulling his hips back.

Oz's thighs tighten for an instant, and he exhales down Giles's cheek as he relaxes. There's no way to figure out what this feels like, opening barely enough, taking in something hard and pulsing, but it's a burn with sweet expectation, he knows that much, and he forgets to breathe as he bobs in place and feels Giles work himself inside, somehow more solid and firm than Oz has ever felt himself to be or will ever feel again. Like he's running in place, one of those mall waterfalls that suck the water back up and send it down again, his mouth going dry even as the flush shuddering from his ass outward gets stronger and stronger and Giles starts squeezing his hips so Oz struggles to rise a fraction, barely anything, and sink back again. Giles's face is so close, gone indistinct and broken up into these Cubic fragments, except where his skin scrapes on Oz's mouth. He feels smaller than ever, hardly more than bone and ass, light as a bird in Giles's grasp except for that one thick, burning tension aching and rumbling up inside him like stormy red-velvet sunset sky.

Oz rides like this for longer than he thought he could ever hold up, motion deep and regular as the metronome on his guitar teacher's mantle. Metronomes just gradually slow down, but instead he's smoothly picking up speed, slobbering against Giles's mouth so much that the spit is cold on his chin, burning cold like Giles's fingers dug into his hips, and suddenly out of the clear blue sky barrels in that overwhelming need to push and buck, and Giles is urging him on, thundering breeze rising up the scale in his ear, and Oz grabs both hands onto the edge of the table and jerks backward, pulling Giles's cock deeper into him, twisting his hips around like a desperate virgin, and Giles is yanking him back down, grinding up, the flame and pulse of his coming burning hot-then-cold as Oz grinds down, white noise building in an avalanche in his ass and behind his balls, and he collapses before the shooting's over, feels spurts against his chest as Giles clutches him.

Giles is grasping at his cheeks, maneuvering him until Oz is kissing him back, shallow little pecks, his lips are so dry he's worried they'll crack open. Leftover bleeps and zigzags of sensation skitter around under his skin, and he feels a bone-deep shudder start in his legs, wonders where that came from. "God," he breathes into Giles's mouth, hands sliding squeakily from the edge of the table to pillow under Giles's head. "Mmmm."

Inarticulate, but that's to be expected.


Daniel looks worried, frowning, brows beetling over narrow eyes, when Giles answers the door a few afternoons later. Before he can ask what's wrong, however, Daniel hands him a sandwich wrapped in white butcher paper and another sack of garden vegetables. The boy will brook no protests when it comes to the vegetables, so Giles stows them in the crisper without comment.

"How was practice?" Giles asks when he returns to the living room. Daniel squats in front of the television, fiddling with the wires in back, glancing anxiously at the snow that persists on the screen.

"Usual crap," Daniel says, giving up on coaxing better reception out of the relic. He turns and sits cross-legged, facing Giles on the couch. Giles does not know whether to rest his ultimate interpretation of that comment on Daniel's previous scowl and the words themselves, or on the contrasting lightness of his tone and the sudden jump of a smile. "You remembered?"

Giles nods as he unwraps his sandwich. He cannot tell the boy just how precisely, with a bookkeeper's concern for the neatness of the ledger, he has remembered that he had band rehearsal that morning. Nor how for the same past few days, blessedly Devon-free days during which Daniel lounged with him from breakfast until moonset, he has also tried to push away all thoughts of the impending rehearsal with something that edges close to hysteria.

He knows just how easily, with little if any effort, slip into this hysteria that is threatening. He could start recording the minutes spent in silence with Daniel, the hours in bed, chart with delirious care the rapidly dwindling time that fades in inverse proportion to this blossoming, jealous panic. He has so far resisted slipping, for the most part. Last night when the bed dipped sharply, he opened his eyes to the slice of pale back turned to him, shimmying shorts up its hips, head bent into the dark.

"You're not staying?" he had heard himself whisper like some tiresome mistress, wheedling yet resigned. Shoulders shrugged, then Daniel pulled his shirt over his head. "Can't," he had said simply, and Giles had swallowed back hard on the sorrow creeping up his throat.

He could have slipped then; he could still slip now.

Daniel flicks his thumb absently at the charms on the bracelet around his ankle, and Giles realizes how foolish he must look, smiling like this into the empty middle distance.

"Don't get mad," Daniel says as he strokes the red vial charm. "But can I ask you something?"

Giles digs nails into his palm and lets his smile slide away. "Of course." There's that odd wheedling note in his voice again; he can't seem to help it. He clears his throat. "Please."

Daniel's lips twitch as he fondles his bracelet. Giles wants very much to run his hand through the spikey hair, feel it prickle his palm before he finds the heat of the boy's skull. "Did you get fired?"


Daniel ducks his head again, chin brushing the hem of his shirt.

"Daniel," Giles says, relieved to hear himself sounding somewhat normal. "Why would you ask me that?"

"Well," Daniel says, rising to his knees and shuffling across the rug. His instinct for closeness is not only triggered by stress, Giles has learned, but it is at its strongest then. "Got to wondering, see — "

Giles laughs and grasps his elbow, hauling the boy up to the couch beside him, remembering the first time they sat like this. Already the memory of Daniel sleeping that first night has become strong and familiar, its details rubbed away through frequent reflection, until all that remains is the simultaneous sense of miraculous wonder and stomach-twisting doubt that the sight brought. "That kind of thing can be dangerous, you understand. Wondering and such."

Daniel laughs until he starts to cough into his fist and squints, wrinkles closing off his eyes. "Good point."

"Dear boy." Daniel nuzzles a bit, hearing that, and Giles lowers his mouth to Daniel's ear. "Are you busy this afternoon?" Giles asks, stroking the cool small hollow of Daniel's neck. "I thought we might do something."

Daniel sinks against him with a sigh. "That's what I'm talking about."

"Which is what?" Giles thinks that by now, he should be able to ask for clarification without feeling surprised at the need. Daniel's statements are scattershot at best, and make Giles wonder at the logic that should connect them. There should be some current amongst these disparate thoughts, else Daniel would be mad, but it is perceptible only infrequently.

"Are you ever going back to work?"

Daniel stares at him so directly and plainly, with such clarity gracing his features, that it is hard to believe Giles could ever doubt his logic.

"It's summer," Giles says, swallowing. "Summer holiday."

"Met you at the library," Daniel reminds him gently.

Giles nods, swallowing again. No argument there. The longer he remains silent, the closer the panic hovers, drawn nearer than ever. He tries to clear his throat but Daniel stares at him again. Giles meets his gaze.

Lowering his eyes, Daniel murmurs, "I worried you got fired and didn't want to tell me."

"I still fail to see the reason," Giles says. He tries to pull Daniel closer, but for once the boy resists and remains where he is. Giles cannot trace the source of his sudden anger. It flares up, he thinks brokenly that he hates this, and then it vanishes. What is he angry at? What could he possibly hate? Impertinence, or finding that he is the object of worry? Perhaps those are the same thing.

"Just — " Daniel spreads out the fingers on both hands and cocks his head, considering, it appears, the amount of chipping in his nail polish. "Not mad?"

"Bewildered, perhaps. Not mad."

Daniel sighs and starts to pick at the polish on his thumb. "You've got so much free time. Made me worry."

That was unexpected. Giles tilts against the boy strongly enough for Daniel to catch him and tuck his head against Giles's forehead. "I certainly didn't mean to worry you," he says, drinking in the sharp tang of smoke, tobacco and marijuana, on the boy. "I had actually cleared my schedule for the foreseeable future. I thought you knew that."

Daniel kisses his ear gently and slides down into a slump. "Sorry."

"Don't apologize," Giles says, automatically. He clears his throat again. "I should have been clearer."

Daniel is quiet for several long moments, barely stirring with breath against Giles. His neck smells like salt and the varieties of smoke, and he sighs when Giles kisses him there. "You sound weird lately, you know."

Giles looks up. "How do you mean?"

"Weird?" Daniel's eyes squeeze shut. When he does this, searching for the best word, he resembles a small child caught in the spotlight of a spelling bee. "Off? Like an old Chevy engine. Shutting down."


Okay, pretend he doesn't hear Giles shutting down. He can do that. But: How do you clear a schedule? Like clearing a desk, one sweep of the arm into the circular file? He wants to know what that means.

Instead, Giles reassures him in the best possible way, several times over, with firm hands and straining hard cock and that kiss that burns out his last neuron, leaving Oz all stupid and dizzy and desperate. He lets himself get lost.

Someone really should try to market this particular sexcapade for overworked executives. They'd make a killing, Oz is sure of that, and it feels so good he can laugh at the weird porno-infomercial trend of his thoughts and Giles won't ask what's so funny. Because it's normal to crack up like this when it's a couple hours later and he's pressed up against the slick wall of the shower, tiles imprinting his back, tickling fingers running up his thighs as Giles sucks him off.


He should probably inquire after Daniel's vague, hesitant solicitousness. He is always so careful to reassure himself that Giles is not cross with him. As if Giles were violent and unpredictable, prepared to lash out at the least infraction. It may be something in his background, poor educational system and absent parents, but, upon reflection, he is simply overreacting. The sensitivity seminars the school board requires of all its new employees seem to have affected Giles more than he knew. He does not need to be this aware of "warning signs" and hints of trouble, not when it comes to Daniel.

It never would have occurred to him that Daniel was capable of worry, especially over him. The boy is normally so placid and yet so attuned to his surroundings, attuned to an almost psychic degree, that Giles had assumed all thoughts concerning him evaporated as soon as Daniel steps out his door. Place Daniel somewhere new, and he will adjust instantaneously, take on the shape and hue of wherever he finds himself.

He has his friends, after all, that shifting, motley crew, and random appointments to meet them for inexplicable reasons. Lack of any reason, actually, is usually behind those appointments as far as Giles can tell. Hanging in the park, hanging at the Bronze, hanging in someone's basement. The term makes them sound like monkeys chattering the forest, dangling betwixt the branches, de-licing each other's fur, and although he has trouble picturing Daniel, so quiet and serene, as any kind of monkey, the overall impression persists. He has his friends, and hanging, and band rehearsal; Daniel moves among various situations with such gentle leisure that Giles cannot understand how he might summon enough energy to worry, nor when.

When Daniel is absent at these empty appointments, Giles works desultorily on translations and updates to both his official and unofficial journals. He puts in enough time that the Council should not notice anything awry, but no more. He stays home for this work, loathe to return to the library until he absolutely must. Daniel has mentioned this once or twice, and Giles assumes he is merely being polite. It is, again, inconceivable that the boy would rather be there than here. More inconceivable, in fact, than the regularity with which the boy turns up on his doorstep, or lets himself in, makes himself at home, all of which are impossible despite the fact that they continue to happen.

Giles accomplishes little when he is working, and often, picking up his pen after an hour-long break, the American expression "goldbricking" comes to mind. He cannot feel very guilty, however. August is already underway. Once term starts, he will have more than enough time to make up for his wandering attention.


"Don't know what you see in him, man." Devon shifts Nonie off his lap and slaps her ass, propelling her toward Oz. They're in the storage space she got her father to rent them at the employee discount for rehearsals. He promised to play nice, but she's already starting to wear on him.

Devon straddles an amp, shaking his head at Oz, who's leaning against the wall. "Seriously, you going to cruise Sunset Towers next?"

"You know it," Oz says. Nonie crouches in front of the cooler at his feet, and hands up cans to him. He balances them in his palm, he's getting good at this. Last time he made six balance before the stack started to sway menacingly. He gives up at three this time. "Blue hair and support hose get me every time."

"Exactly, man!" Devon guzzles the soda as Nonie slides back onto his thigh. They've been together, what, a couple weeks? And she's already got the hanging girlfriend-slash-groupie posture down perfect. Still nodding vigorously, Devon pauses to kiss her, sliding his hand up under her shirt. "I keep telling you you've got the pick of the litter and what do you do? Go for the mangy old tom who lives behind the dumpsters at Shanghai Garden."

"I think he's hot." Nonie smiles at Oz with such deliberate kindness he feels kind of sick. Devon snorts. "I do. All kinda, I don't know, British. And grizzled."

"Ben Cartwright's grizzled," Oz says. "Willie Nelson. Not sure about Giles."

"You going to fuck Willie next?" And because Devon's never heard about understatement, because he likes his exclamation points and italics in bulk economy packs, he thrusts a couple times and retches for emphasis. "Huh? Pound away at that geriatric ass?"

Oz sips his Hawaiian Punch and glances away. Then he studies the mutant tropical guy on the can very carefully.

"Oh, fuck me." Devon's practically spitting.

Nonie looks back and forth between Devon and Oz, forehead wrinkling pretty deep for a kid her age. "What?" she asks Devon. "What's wrong?"

"That's just — Shit." Devon stands, holding Nonie around the waist so she doesn't fall. "That's so fucking wrong, Oz. Just so — Fuck."

Oz sticks out his tongue, crossing his eyes so he can check how stained red it is. Berry, berry red.

Nonie trails after Dev, throwing pissed-off glances back at Oz. Yay. Now he's in trouble with some chick he barely knows for annoying the great and powerful Devon.

"So fucking obvious!" Devon's apparently found that perfect word he was sputtering after, and shouts it again as he wheels around. "Obvious!"

If their positions were reversed, Oz-now-Devon would tell him that Giles fucks him way better than the original Dev ever did. Or will, whatever. That would require some kind of personality graft, though, where Oz keeps his memories but gains Devon's mega-frankness. His head throbs when he tries to work through how that would work, since Devon-now-Oz would never go for Giles in the first place. Basically, he just doesn't have anything to say, although anyone else would be able to come up with some type of retort, so he distracts himself with impossible sci-fi scenarios.

"I don't get it," Nonie pleads, and any minute now, she's probably going to start tugging at Devon's sleeve.

Devon tears away from her grip and in no time at all he's looming over Oz, grabbing him by the neck. He kisses Oz roughly, nearly missing his mouth, harsh suction and angry tongue. He swipes his hand across his lips as he pulls back and Nonie squeals.

"Like that?" Devon whispers harshly, and Oz can't back up any farther since he's already against the wall. And he's shaking too hard to think about moving anyway. Devon smiles slowly, and the only thing Oz can think of is a cat, some kind of lazy predator who has all the time in the world to play with his food. Arrogant fuck.

Best just to go along. "Yeah. Like that."

Dev grabs his ass a little too hard. Oz is nearly always slightly sore these days, since Giles fucks like it's going out of style. The hand wrenching his cheeks apart is sharp and mean, but he wiggles against it anyway.

"'Kay, now that's just gross," Nonie says. Oz can't see her, but she's probably backing away, shaking her head. Wrinkling her nose like the sight smells bad. He slides his hands up to Devon's neck and pulls him back down for more kissing, trapping one thigh between his own, grinding back against the hand on his ass. Dev's kissing like a drowning man, gripping his shoulder hard enough to bruise really deep.

Devon moans into the kiss when Oz scrapes his teeth over the root of his tongue, and starts thrusting, bracing one hand on the ringing metal wall as he rubs his cock roughly over Oz's shorts.

"Dev?" Nonie asks, softly, uncertainly. "Devon?"

Devon rips his mouth away, a little trickle of blood worming over his lower lip from Oz's teeth, but doesn't slow his thrusting. "Yeah?"

"I don't — " Nonie says. She's persistent; Oz has to give her that. Nothing more though, because his dick is hurting, and Dev's pressed too hard against him for Oz to do more than wiggle and bite back his breath at the friction. And she's an unnecessary distraction at this point. "Devon? What are you doing?"

"The fuck does it look like he's doing?" Oz nearly growls, and Devon rakes his fingers up the split of his ass. His eyes go electric at that, exploding with white sparks, and he twists just right so he's almost riding Devon's pelvis.

Nonie shakes her head, and now she's backing up, getting close to the door. "You said he liked to watch." Talking to Devon, shading her eyes, voice going thin as a wire. "Not — . Join in."

"That what you said?" Oz asks, catching the tendon in Devon's neck between his front teeth and sucking. He grinds awkwardly forward, shoves his hand down Devon's ass, scrapes his nails the whole way until Devon can't not moan. "Did you lie to the nice girl?"

Devon kind of sags against him, dragging his cock against Oz's, groaning like a Neanderthal. "What got into you, man?" he manages before Oz hooks his fingers deep into the crease between ass and thigh.

"He lies a lot," Oz says. Something like pity in his voice. Nonie's even further away now, out the door. "Kind of an asshole that way, huh, Dev?"


Giles will not allow himself to panic. It is unseemly, not to mention a waste of energy.

He is more than aware that Daniel's mind wanders as easily as his body seems to do: One small twig in a stream swollen with the spring melt, rushing, bobbing past, no will to speak of. Despite himself, he can nearly forgive the boy's restless attention and this unexpected absence.

Hadn't it been only a day or so ago that he tried to convince himself that Daniel's regular presence was the impossibility?

Moreover, he reminds himself, he has no claim on Daniel, nothing that says anything about rights and privileges to his company. He also knows, because he is young enough to have studied with a pupil of Thompson's, that time-as-commodity is a modern invention. That the new urban bourgeoisie's attempt to control and parcel it out was deeply offensive and inscrutable to the traditional rural laborer. He frequently calms himself these days by reviewing the extraneous trivia he has picked up along the way. It distracts him long enough from whatever immediate stimulus of anxiety has pricked him this time. Tiny thorns of anxiety have the power to set him off into quick slide into worry and hurt. When this happens, he retrieves the odd fact and turns it around, scrutinizes it, until he feels better. Calmer.

Prompted, it seemed, by yet another useless fact Giles offered him, Daniel told him the other day that he has a Velcro mind. Giles would prefer a hook-and-eye mind, or a waistcoat mind, but Daniel insisted.

He's thinking now about Daniel, and when this happens, it is difficult, nearly impossible, to return to the meditative fugue he had been trying to foster. Time need not be commodified, but Giles knows, despite the tweed and his general ignorance of computers and other contraptions, that he is a resolutely modern creature. He cannot help himself from thinking like this. From worrying and feeling the seconds slide past him, unused, gone to rot.

So time is wasting. He is nervous, close to a shuddering panic, and he is jealous.


"Why — why — why — why?"

Oz can't get away. That's not really the kind of thing you can answer.

"Why?" Giles asks him over and over, panting, and Oz can't figure out what the hell he's talking about.

He stayed over at Devon's after rehearsal, but couldn't sleep, and let himself into Giles's place just after sunrise. So, granted, the poor guy just got roused out sleep. He probably can't be expected to make sense. Just not fair to think he'd be his usual self, all clear and smart, when he just woke up. But usually when people talk as they wake they mutter about muffins on fire or warning the seagulls. Nonsense that's cute and surreal, that they'll deny ever having said. That's what sleepers do. They don't clutch your shoulders like this, shake you with every syllable.

Giles pulls him onto his lap, combing his hair back with rough fingers, and he can't stop babbling that one word. His other hand closes around the lump in Oz's pants. That lump that he carried over here, the just-about- permanent, aching one.

Oz tries to quiet him. He tries shushing and soothing and murmuring and, finally, kissing. Giles's tongue works against his, lips closing around Oz's, still talking for a bit. He keeps squeezing and releasing Oz's dick and shifting him around until Oz is sitting sideways between his legs, Giles's cock digging into the top of his hip, and he can't really breathe that well anymore, smashed up against Giles like this.

Giles pulls away, blinking at him for a second like he has no clue who he just dragged between his legs. "Daniel," he says at last, and starts to work open his fly.

"That's me," Oz says. Giles nods and grabs his dick.

Giles's skin is hot from sleep, and when Oz brushes his fingertips across his chest, a little sweat, more humid than actually wet, comes off. He pinches the long-healed but still lumpy nipple as he nuzzles the sweat caught between Giles's neck and shoulder. Giles shakes against him, still panting, almost bending Oz's dick between his knuckles in his hurry.

"Tell me what you were doing," Giles pleads, burying his face in Oz's shoulder when Oz snakes his hand in between them and shifts so he can hold on to his cock. He can't quite remember when Giles started going commando, but it's cool at the same time that it's totally confusing. "Tonight. What were you doing with your degenerate friends?"

His dick jumps in Oz's grasp when Giles breathes out that last question, and Oz knows that this is one he can answer, since it seems like an answer is more than welcome. Degenerate friends? That's new.

"Fucking around," Oz tells him, rocking his hand up and down as Giles's panting twists off into a moan. "Me and Dev freaked out his girlfriend — "

He doesn't know why he's telling Giles this, but he seems to be the only one unsure here since Giles's arm goes around his back and his mouth drags its way slowly down Oz's throat, little moans left behind that shiver, maybe shimmer?, on his skin. He thrusts hard into Oz's hand and starts up that long chain of "Why" again.

Oz tries to kiss him and Giles's head lurches back. "Tell me," he says, voice all rough and tight. "Tell what you did. Touch me."

Oz shakes his head but doesn't let go. "Can't — " He can't, or he won't, or something, but that's something Giles wouldn't like, he does know that, remembering Nonie's something's-smelly-face, and Devon would kick his ass if he ever found out.

"Why?" Strung out like beads, long and separate sounds.

"Why what?" Oz repeats, tightening his grip as Giles slackens his own, letting his dick slap up against his belly. "Why can't I tell you? Or why did we fuck around? Or why'd we freak her out?"

Giles shakes his head, eyes closing. There are little sparkles of sweat or tears on his lashes as his mouth twists open. The next why gets lost in a groan when Oz pushes him back against the pillows and slides the trembling, weeping head of Giles's cock into his mouth. He laps up the precum and reaches up to cup the balls with three fingers, hooking them around the sac just like Giles likes it.


Why do I want you?

Why does he desire Daniel? Why does he get to have him?

He will never be able to speak those sentences, never, not even in the hushed, shades-drawn privacy of his own mind.

But now, writhing and desperate, he can groan them out in fragments, broken beyond sense, let broken, jumbled noises loose past his lips just as he begins to shoot, deep into that terribly expert mouth.


Round and round we go, where we stop, nobody knows: Wheel of Fortune of the Damned, the way Oz's brain keeps spinning back to the same topics again and again. You'd think he'd have more to think about than the same old questions. You'd be sorely mistaken.

Oz knows he asks too many questions. It's just one of those things he never got a handle on controlling. He's like a toddler with the constant who, what, why, where, how, and again with the why, and he's surprised no one slaps him when he gets going.

Not that he gets going a lot, but when he does, it's like once he admits not understanding one thing, everything else gets doubted, every stupid little thing becomes somehow hideously suspicious, and the questions just come. It's like looking at a little gap in someone's wallpaper. Once you admit it's there, that there's one thing that he doesn't get, that one tiny gap in meaning, he can't look away. Like those guys with OCD, he starts digging at the gap until it widens and comes off under his nail, and he just keeps clawing. Keeps asking. Keeps trying to fill in meaning as it keeps sliding away, peeling off into the dark.

The questions never seem to be quite the right ones, either. Always off-topic or mixed-up in some glaringly obvious way only he misses. Teacher after teacher drilled that fact into him until he learned to shut up in class. Until he taught himself to daydream.

It's not like the questions ever went away. They just went underground, like Harriet Tubman. Or the French Resistance. Except not as important or brave. Just running scared.

Brave would be asking and damn the torpedoes. Brave would be admitting he just doesn't know what to say most of the time, that he can't understand, that he needs help with figuring shit out.

He'd like to know some things, like how he can miss Giles when he's lying right here in the man's bed with a sore jaw and bleary eyes. When the guy himself is right there, back to him, knees drawn up like a scared baby, breathing long shuddering sighs as he sleeps.

How come if this feels so fucking sweet in all its many and confusing ways, how come sometimes he also wants to go back to the library? Just read his books and check out Giles from under the safe dark blur of his lashes?

How come he misses his pathetic fumbling shyness when he's buck naked, exhausted, and ribboned with cum?

'Cause he does, sometimes.

At least until Giles wakes up.