Shifting Like Sand 



(Advantage, Oz)

The lust constricts him. Like a child shoehorned by a thrifty mother into last year’s winter coat, he finds himself forced into behaviours he thought long outgrown, embracing them with the fervour of the newly-converted.

Watching; surreptitious, stolen, covert glances. He captures images to finger and taste when he’s alone; the haloed conflagration when a beam of sunlight catches Oz’s amber hair; the way a faded, silk-soft cotton shirt pulls tightly across slender shoulders; a back bent bowed as Oz ties his shoe lace. He can hold the picture in his mind and contemplate odd, random details - the way the lace was twisted tightly between the fingers will be the trigger that sends him spinning into release that night, not the question-mark curve of backside and thigh – though that had him wanting to answer it with a single word, if only he could choose one (yes, yours, mine, want, need, please, please, please – now).

Talking; inventing questions, treasuring the monosyllabic mundanities as though they were love notes, feeling the low, husky voice like a touch inside. The customary stillness of the boy broken like a skipped stone shimmers flat water when an impulse sets Oz talking, the slow, careful words speeding up gradually, the hands framing and cupping each word as it leaves the wide mouth to float on the air.... Xander competes for conversational space with loud babbling, tuned out indulgently – Oz’s words lie calligraphed against white silence always in Giles’ mind.

Touching; dangerous this, and indulged in only when need has his heart hammering hard, and he fools himself into thinking that a brush of fingers against bare arm will discharge the build-up of desire harmlessly. It never does and he lies with sleep out of reach, wondering if he’d imagined the amused gleam in the sea-clear eyes.

The power is out of his hands and that’s galling and strange. Giles doesn’t know what will happen next, when he will need more than this is giving him, and that uncertainty sours him. Giles has yet to find anything Oz wants from him, anything he can offer up. Worship is another word for trade. Giles’ hands are empty and Oz’s are overflowing.

Giles knows he won’t kneel to his idol in shamed supplication, craving a touch, a word. Not today. He’s sure of that.

He never lets himself think of tomorrow.

***

(Advantage, Giles.)

Wolf. Demon. Monster. Less. Vulnerable. As Oz endures, waiting for the full moon to rise for the second time since he was bitten, Giles feels exultation rise in a dark swell. He hides it well; offers sympathy, his talents at research – and a cage within his domain. He readies it, checking locks, laying down blankets, his cock so hard as he realises that in this space Oz will stand, naked, bare, waiting for his body to shift, that his teeth grit and grind as he fights back the need to mark this space as his, to spill onto the blankets and let the wolf lie surrounded by his scent, alone, all night, as he has been alone.

He wonders if Oz will change, diminish - and he splits in two. Oz as werewolf is prey. Off limits still but for different reasons. Giles could kill him without outward consequence. It makes a difference. Yet even as he feels himself regain control over a situation he isn’t sure exists beyond his mind, it slips from him in a wave of passionate longing for Oz to retain everything that makes him Oz.

The first night Oz changes in the cage, Giles waits out of sight. As soon as the boy is lost in his nightmare he walks in, thrusting the swinging doors apart, arrogance and anticipation quickening his steps and lengthening his stride.

He pauses, three steps in. His library is full of alien shapes; shadows his mind cannot interpret. Alien sounds, forged in a supernatural throat, slice the studious quiet like claws. He feels out of place and for a moment, the new balance shifts uneasily.

Then he turns. Oz will never see this. He could stand in a room of mirrors and never see himself with human, horrified eyes. Like a vampire, he’s blind. Giles looks and can’t look away. Last month, when Oz was brought here unconscious, Willow and Buffy surrounding him with concern, Giles was too bewildered to really see, but now -

Spittle drools from a mouth that should be curved in a gentle smile. Green grape spring grass eyes full of innocent, knowing appeal are smeared shit brown; savage, wild eyes now. Smooth skin, dappled with freckles, is coated with coarse, matted hair. Giles has imagined Oz naked more times than he’s said his name aloud. This is an obscenity as those wanton wonderings were not.

If he prayed, he’d sink to his knees now to cry for mercy, but not for himself. He stands, hot tears squeezing out of eyes squeezed shut, fists clenched, his choked gasp of revulsion and fury lost in the howl from the thing in the cage.

He leaves, feet stumbling, dragging, sickness twisting his gut. He sends Xander to release him and avoids the boy the next day as assiduously as he had sought him out. He has one look at him, walking towards a class, his head bent, his walk uncertain – then a friend’s greeting raises the drooping head and he’s reassured. Oz hasn’t left, isn’t broken.

 He returns the next night, the middle night.

He’s calmer now. Prepared. Brought to that point where desperation lies down with fear and gives birth to evanescent courage. He stays well back and talks. The wolf’s howls ululate down the deserted corridors of the school. It’s maddened by his presence - delicious irony there! - but Giles doesn’t fear discovery. If screams brought help in Sunnydale...well they don’t. Never did. So he stands, paces, sits and talks, the words calm, measured, as he details his love and dares to call it that, spells out his lust in words so crude the air quivers and parts, and admits his obsession to the cause of it. Telling Oz would be unthinkable. Telling this changeling, this primal being, is easy.

Cleansed, he retreats, secure in the knowledge that Oz will remember none of it, the resentment leached from him after weeks, the craving controlled.

The next day, he comes to the library soon after dawn, laden with coffee and donuts, hours of sleep buoying him up. Oz is dressed, pale and tired. His eyes light up and Giles allows himself to think it’s for more than the food. They sit, the table separating them, and eat. Oz reaches out idly for a book and Giles tells him sharply not to read when his fingers are sticky with sugar.

“You do,” Oz points out mildly.

Giles, who finds it nearly impossible to eat without reading, flicks the page with a thumb, holding the book in one hand while the other is occupied with a jelly donut. “I’m older. Had more experience,” he says smugly, glad to exercise control in such an innocuous, blameless fashion.

The donut splits and jelly, red and glutinous, jelly that’s never seen a raspberry, a strawberry, or whatever it’s mimicking, slides down Giles’ palm and wrist. He curses, laying the book down, and glancing around for a napkin. Oz stands, in silence, walks around and drags a finger through the red glop, taking it to his mouth and sucking it clean.

Time. Stops.

Giles doesn’t think there can be room in his eyes for anything but hunger but there must have been because Oz answers a question he never voiced and brings Giles’ world once again shuddering to a halt.

“I don’t remember words. They don’t mean anything to the wolf. But you were talking to me all night.”

“I...don’t understand. I left – I left quite early.”

Giles is vaguely proud that he can still speak coherently.

“You left. Your smell didn’t. It’s on you now. It has been for weeks but I didn’t know what it meant –” His eyes go distant and he speaks slowly, thinking aloud. “It’s like, you know, the time I found out that foreign languages have words that don’t translate into American. I couldn’t get my head around that for the longest time. And they have words for concepts we take a paragraph to explain and they get it in a word and people know the concept behind the word, just like that.”

He drifts off again and Giles says, “Schadenfreude,” and wins a delighted smile as a reward for his comprehension and a nod.

“So now I’ve got a word for that scent, the way you’ve been around me.”

“And that would be?”

Oz’s eyes lock onto his and there’s something deep inside that’s new. Giles feels his neck prickle with atavistic alarm. Oz reaches out to the stickiness on Giles’ hand again and pauses, his finger hovering. Then he scoops up a fingerful and moves it towards Giles’ mouth instead of his own.

Then the taste of sweetness is lying against his lips and he’s moaning around Oz’s finger as it thrusts inside his mouth, his tongue laving it, his teeth nipping at it and Oz is straddling his lap and they’re kissing, wild and rough kisses, panting against each other, falling to the ground, rolling and ripping at clothes, until Giles stops, pushes himself up and looks down at Oz.

The green eyes narrow and Giles shakes his head. It isn’t fear of discovery that halts him; the library might as well not exist for most of the students. It isn’t fear of consequences either.

No; as Giles stands, straightens clothing and walks over to swallow the last of his lukewarm coffee, he’s thinking that now he knows he’s not alone in this... trade, they’ll play it his way. Without looking at Oz, he says, casually, “Last night of full moon tonight. Tomorrow night I want you here again. Waiting for me. In the cage. Naked.”

Oz stands with a fluid, dangerous grace that was his before the wolf and walks over to Giles. He’s smiling and his lips are in that lovely wide curve. His fingers reach, dance and slide over the hard length outlined clearly and Giles feels his breath catch on a sob.

“Sure...” Oz says agreeably. “If you’re waiting outside it naked when I wake up tomorrow morning.”

And their eyes meet and Giles begins to laugh.

Equals.


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