Full Of Grace
by Wax Jism

Buffy the Vampire Slayer © Mutant Enemy, WB/UPN/Fox.

Mildly suicidal tonight. It's so easy to get that way here. I don't need to walk onto the roof of any convenient tall building to end my life. Not in Sunnydale. All I have to do is swipe a couple of Buds out of the fridge (not actually a lethal act in and of itself, but capture would be sure to result in a quick trip to the ER, and possibly a month or two in traction), and then walk out into the pestilent-balmy Sunnydale night to swig said brewskis alone. At midnight. Yes, I do have a deathwish, why'd you ask? It's not quite strong enough yet for me to simply take my Dad's Walther and do it like a manly man, but enough to find the thought of walking with the monsters kind of appealing.

So here I am, staggering down the moonlit streets of Sunnyhell, Ca, entertaining quite the Budding Buzz (TM). Oh god, but I have to sit down in the damp grass of someone's front lawn to laugh that one off. My sense of humor seems to lose all proportions when I get tipsy. I have to be the world's most pathetic lifeform to get this wasted after two measly beers, but hey, it's not like that's news, anyway.

No vampires anywhere. What a cop-out. I briefly consider the cemetery, but opt not to. It would take the edge of the randomness of fate. Besides, it's too far away. Instead, I head for the hills. There's this nasty drop down to the dump somewhere off the local lover's lane. A pretty clearing in the forest, a beautiful place with a great view if garbage disposal is what floats your boat. Sometimes the stoners hang out right on the edge there, mostly because they're the only ones who can take the godawful stench. It's never crowded, since most of them have become spicy snacks for the bloodsuckers by now.

I make it unmolested the few blocks to the foot of the hills and the edge of the gothically looming forest, and scramble breathlessly along the bumpy, potholed track that is the only road to the little clearing I have in mind. I keep stumbling over my own feet in the darkness, and the moon stays stubbornly uncooperative, hiding behind the scant summer clouds like it's afraid of what it'll see down here. Things just aren't working out for me tonight. What a fucking surprise. I'm surprise I can muster the energy to complain about it anymore. Things haven't been working out for me at all in a long time. Not since graduation. Not since everyone else suddenly found better things to do than hang out with me.

And what do you know, my choice spot is occupied after all. The dark outline of a parked van looms against the sky. I catch a waft of sweet, heady smoke on a garbage-saturated breeze, and morosely turn to leave. The last thing I want is the company of any other stranger than myself. Too bad I can't shake myself as easily.

Before I can sneak off, however, a soft voice speaks out of the dark van.

"Xander." Irrational, spike-sharp fear clutches at my craven heart. Now that They have finally found me, I suddenly reconsider my desire to end it all. Then, when my brain finally gets a word in, I recognise the voice. To kindly corroborate my conclusion, the moon chooses to come out from behind a cloud and reveal the funky zebra-stripe pattern on the hitherto obscured vehicle.

Damn. I hate it when he does that. I'm standing downwind from him, and he's fucking stoned, and still he can smell me a hundred yards away.

"Uh, hi," I offer lamely. Approach him slowly. So, Oz likes to get high by himself. Outside. At night. Gee, I never knew he was into extreme sports. In fact, I didn't even know he was in town. Not that I can say I ever knew anything about him. I haven't seen him in, what? Six months? More, maybe. Willow took off for the hallowed shores of Blighty; Oz vanished into touring oblivion. Apparently, he's back down memory lane. Without a paddle.

I can see the tip of his joint glow sharp red in the eerie, silvery light.

"Want some?" His voice sounds normal, but then he's always so relaxed. His face shines pale in the moonlight, and when he turns to me, the shadows make his quirky-cute features feral. I start, and catch myself glancing at the moon. It's maybe two nights from full. Oz is most likely suffering from a bout of the ole PWS, and I suppose a little pot would be just the ticker for that. I walk up to him, and almost manage to trip myself up when I try too hard at making my approach casually cool. I watch him lean back into the van and suddenly warm light pools around the open door and I can see again. How considerate. He waves his joint at me invitingly. I reach out and take the bomber from his fingers. A very careful, little toke. Boom. It hits my stomach, curdles the beer, and before you can say 'loser', I reacquaint myself with my father's Bud in recycled form. I retch wretchedly and try very hard not to get any of the foam on my clothes.

"Whoa," Oz says mildly. His arms come around my cramping midriff, holding me steady, rescuing his joint from my limp fingers. He produces a scrunched-up but clean napkin and wipes my face with the gentle, dispassionate touch of a mother with her puking toddler. "You okay?"

"Yeah," I mutter, humiliated. This night just can't get any worse. Unless a vampire showed up right now, of course, but the demons are conspicuous in their absence. "Man, I'm just the latest in entertainment tonight."

"Hey, it was getting kinda stiff here, so thanks."

He sits me down on the floor of the van, still with his arm around my waist, as if I was some senile old man who can't quite stay upright without support. At the moment, that's exactly how I feel, so I'm grateful for the steadying touch. We sit in silence for what feels like ages, until the acid burn of vomit in my throat has subsided, and the acid burn of embarrassment has faded from my heart. Oz smokes his joint, emits the occasional low chuckle, generally acts like things are just the way they are supposed to be. His eyes are distant and spaced out, unreadable. I can't help but wonder what would go on in a brain like his under the influence of pot. I mean, things are bound to get transcendental. Unfortunately, he seems to get even less prone to comment than he is when he's sober.

"Can I try again?" I finally ask. He turns to me slowly, trying with infinite patience to focus on my face. Just how long has he been out here?

"Think you can take it?"

"Don't know until I try, I guess. I just have this urge to get stoned tonight."

He starts to hand me the joint, but changes his mind half-way, instead nodding inexplicably and drawing entertaining patterns in the air with the glowing tip. He's apparently trying to say something, but seems to momentarily have forgotten how to make words happen. I raise an eyebrow, going for 'cool' but probably hitting the ground somewhere between 'utter moron' and 'averagely lame'. He finally finds the term his weed-addled brain has been hiding.

"Shotgun," he squeaks. Oz squeaking. Entertainment. But the word tells me nothing. I give him a blank face, but he just waves the joint about a little more. "Open your mouth."

I oblige, not really seeing where this is leading, but not in the mood to argue. Besides, there's no point in arguing with Oz in any case. The man is as stubborn as he is silent, and in his state of elevated stonedness, he probably wouldn't even notice my protests.

He eyes me serenely and takes a deep, lung-scorching hit. Holds it for a few seconds. And leans in and puts his mouth over mine in something that comes too close to being a kiss to be entirely comfortable. I am so surprised that I almost jump backwards, but then I get it. Of course. A shotgun. Now, why didn't I come up with this myself? Smoke curls into my mouth and I inhale carefully. Still feeling good. His lips, just barely touching mine, feel pretty good, too. I'm not gonna tell him that, of course. But they do.

After that first hit, I have no problem holding down the contents of my stomach. We don't talk, just sit there in the dark, passing the seemingly endless joint back and forth between us. I'm starting to feel pretty relaxed, almost forgetting my state of depression, forgetting my parents, forgetting most everything, in fact, except this boy here beside me and his comforting presence.

"Hey, Oz."


"I just. I just wanna say, like. I appreciate this. You know? It's of the good."

"Sure. No problem."

"No, really. There's a lot of old ... shit between us, but that's, like, all in the past now." I sound way past stoned, even to myself, but Oz just gives a breathless chuckle and shakes his head as if he is fascinated with the sounds it makes in his head.

"It's cool, Xander."

"It's cool, Oz. I love you, man."

"That's good to know."

Of course he doesn't know that I am dead serious, pot or no pot. I do love him. He might have stolen Willow from me, but somehow I can't bring myself to hold that against him anymore. I didn't think he'd be good for her, but he was, and now she's gone. It occurs to me that she might never have been able to scrounge up the courage to leave if it weren't for Oz. Willow's a different person now, someone you don't want to mess with if you want to stay the same shape. She'll make a good Watcher. A great watcher. She's not mine anymore, and nor is she Oz's. Ah, emancipation. I think Oz is probably a very lonely guy these days. Back in school it was like loving Willow was all he was about. So attendant, so doting. As if nothing else really mattered to him. What does he do now that she chose her calling over him? Stoned as I am, the question makes it past the trap of my teeth and lips before I can bite down on it. Oz's eyes unfocus even more, something I had given up on as physically impossible, and he sits very quietly for such a long time that I almost forget what I asked.

"I don't know what I do," he says, finally. His voice is very clear, and through my pot-dazed head shines the thought that he must be in pain, because the voice is too brittle, too controlled to be casual. His face shows nothing, of course, only blank Ozness, but there is a tightness in his stance that belies the impassive expression. "I want to mourn her, but she's not dead, and I want to hate her, but then all I want is for her to be happy, and she wouldn't get that here. She's exactly where she needs to be."

"Huh," say I, in Ozlike, single-syllable incredulousness. He quirks a ginger eyebrow my way and laughs, a short, sad sound that sounds like a little bark.

"Yeah, I know," he mutters. "Also spracht Oz."

"I just. I'm sorry. Honest." I can't get it through to him. How sorry I am that everything happened, that stuff got in the way of his happiness. Now, I know that it's pretty much out of character for me to be giving serious thought to other people's happiness, but even the dumbest dog has his day. I do have depth, you know. It just doesn't always come out that way.

He smiles morosely as if he understands, and stands up, stretching catlike in the moonlight. I get stuck staring at him as he paces over to the edge overlooking the dump. He stops right at the precipice and stands motionless, spacing out again. He really is tiny. I haven't actually thought about that before, because he was always with Willow, who is even tinier, but this guy is seriously vertically challenged. It doesn't retract in any way from his powerful presence, of course. I can't help but wonder what kind of monster he'd be if he were 6'4" instead of 5'4". Scary thought. He's small, but he's strong, in an unassuming, no-nonsense way that will leave you with broken bones if you underestimate him. I've been on the receiving end of his anger, and trust me; the guy does not pull his punches. It's like he only has two gears: impassive and furious, and nothing whatsoever in between. When he gets mad, you never have a clue until the minute he explodes.

"Xander." I almost jump out of my hide at his voice. While I've been out in Never-neverland thinking deep thoughts about his possible emotional landscapes, he's slipped back to me unnoticed, and is now sitting cross-legged on the ground before me. Shit, he's almost as quiet as Angel.

"Christ, man," I guffaw, "you should be wearing a little bell if you're gonna pull that shit around me. There's a history of rhythm disorders in my family, you know." He disregards my galloping wit sagely.

"Does life ever make you feel like you're the only one not getting the joke? Like everyone else has the manual, you got left out somehow, but still they expect you to understand it all?"

I have to process this for a while, although I know exactly what he means. It's just that the fact that this is coming from Oz makes it so hard to understand. It clashes with my perception of him. And hey, it was more than three words in a row there. I have every right to be baffled. I stick it to gratuitous drug abuse and refrain from commenting. Instead, I nod serenely, or at least I aim for serene. Only thing is, serene is an Oz-emotion, and doesn't really become me.

Apparently he feels the same, for he emits a sound that is something like a cross between a chuckle and a cough, and a wry grin flashes across his face.

"You just pretty much summed up my life so far," I say, striking serene and keeping with good old sincere instead.

"I've never felt this lost," he says. More revelations. He's said exactly three things about himself tonight, and for God's sake, that's three more than I have ever heard before, ever, from him. His voice is still far too calm, far too controlled, and I'm picking up the vibe loud and clear now. Pain. The boy is hurting so bad even I can feel it. Impulse-control was never my bag, so I scoot off my seat in the door of the van and sit down next to him. Close to him. I give him a quick glance to make sure he's cool with things so far, and furtively slip my arm around his shoulders. He doesn't look at me, refuses adamantly to look at me, and I sit quiet and watch his jaw clench. There's some sort of internal struggle going on, and I'm actually a little afraid that he might wig out completely and punch me in the face or something. Instead, he bursts into tears, which was absolutely, positively the very last thing I expected. If Jesus Christ had just walked past, flipping me the bird, I couldn't have been more dumbstruck.

Fortunately, there are some things that just work automatically, no matter what your brain is doing, so I don't have to order my body to scoop him into my arms and hold him. All the while my brain is screaming. If Oz is crying - if this guy feels so bad that he breaks down in front of yours truly, then, Ladies and Gentlemen, the world is truly and finally fucked. And I thought I was depressed. Oh, man.

Suddenly I'm scared, and I'm happy I've already got him so tightly clutched in my arms, because now I need the contact, or I'm going to start bawling as well. And that just wouldn't do.

He's clinging to me like I'm the only thing between him and damnation. I rock gently, hum little comforting tunes just to keep myself from falling into pieces, press my face into his hair. All the while, his sobs remain very unassuming, hardly more than little gasps. He doesn't cry like a man at all, none of that rueful, throat-searing howling that comes when all dams break and no amount of struggling can hold the tears back. There's no shame in these tears. Instead, he cries naturally, like a girl, as if he has every right to cry whenever he likes. Which he has, of course, it's just that men never seem to know this. It doesn't surprise me much, though, that Oz would have even this figured out to the last detail. He's in pain, so he cries. He wouldn't bother to shed tears over trifles, but he won't deny himself release in a tight spot. Does this guy ever really lose control? I'm almost afraid of him. Oh, fuck it, I am terrified of him. He could tear me to shreds in more ways than one. But it doesn't stop me from holding on to him now, when he has decided he needs me.

I suddenly feel tired to the bone, exhausted. Drained. My depression has taken a powder (amazing how seeing other people suffer makes you feel better about yourself), and left only weariness in its wake. I want nothing so much as just to curl into a ball and leave everything behind for a few hours. Oz has stopped sobbing, but he's still holding onto me like I might just disappear if he let go. The thought that he'd actually give a shit if I left makes me feel warm in strange and unexpected places. He's hot in my arms now, like he's got a mini-furnace inside of him. Even the tears soaking the front of my shirt feel hot, burning little holes in my skin. There's an evil crick in my back from sitting in this twisted position for so long, but I don't want to shift, or he might let go of me.

He lets go anyway, of course, his thin arms slip away from my waist, his head eases off my collarbone. He pulls his hand over his face and sniffs a little, looking like nothing so much as a very small child after a successful tantrum. I can't stop the grin taking over my mouth, and of course he turns to look at me right then, and I try desperately to wipe the offending mirth off my face, but it's too late. The more I try, the funnier the situation gets. Oz's eyes are wide and blank, bloodshot like hell, but that might just be the pot. I giggle helplessly and wait for him to go berserk.

He never does. Instead of anger, there's amusement. I am greeted by a small chuckle that gradually develops into outright laughter. Pretty soon we're howling like a couple of hyenas on nitrous oxide. I clutch my tortured diaphragm, but the pain does nothing to stop the laughter. I feel Oz's hands on my shoulder, he's leaning into me again, and I sling a hand around his waist, and it feels very natural, but it really isn't. Through all the crying and laughing and general moodswinging, I have suddenly become very aware of the subtext. This could be nothing but your average male bonding scene, but it's so not. I'm thinking way too much about how nice his narrow back feels like through the thin tee. Maybe I could convince myself that it's nothing, but hell, that is not the kind of thing you think about when your motives are pure. Maybe what we both need is a good lay, but I have absolutely no idea how to broach the subject. Hey, Oz, man, you looking for someone to get your mind of Willow, eh? would perhaps not be the appropriate approach. It does sound snappy, I'll give you that, but given the situation, I am ready to subscribe to the roundabout way.

I look down at him, desperately fishing for something to say that won't sound like a gratuitous come on, but will get the message through. Blame hormones, whatever, but I find it extremely erotic to have friends cry at my shoulder. Really. It's a kink I have. Depression tends to get me horny. I'm weird that way.

Even after our laughter has abated he stays where he is, his head against my shoulder. I can't see his face, so I look at his hair. His own color is half grown out, so a couple of inches at the roots are bright ginger and clashes violently with the purple of the rest of it. And it all looks like someone has taken a pair of garden shears to it.

"Man, what's up with the do?" I ask, grateful for a subject that is personal without being personal, if you know what I mean. I even take the opportunity to tousle it casually. He looks up, eyebrow quirked.

"Are you questioning my taste, Xander?"

"Uh, no, it's just. Well, ginger and purple?

"It's a fashion statement."

"And who's your stylist? Edward Scissorhands?"

"Well, Dev did it. He usually does. Only this time he was kinda drunk, so it turned out a little avant garde." He pulls his fingers through his hair, and the gesture looks oddly self-conscious. His fingernails are painted purple, and it's fashionably chipped. How very punk he is. I mean, his bandmate cuts his hair?

A silence falls over us, and now there's some tension in the air. I'm going crazy trying not to look at his hair, or his eyes, which look hollow and tired, or his hands and that messy nail polish. Are his toenails painted as well? It seems important that I find out. I'm getting a little frustrated. If he were a girl, I'd be putting on a move just about now. I am fairly used to cruel rejection, and one more wouldn't bust me up too badly. But it's a little different with a guy. They tend to take things like this with less grace. It's bad enough to deal with the occasional hot queer crush, but getting my ass kicked over them is just too much. I just don't know how to second-guess people's intentions. I mean, how can you really tell if someone's gonna be flattered, interested or just plain offended? And this guy's my friend. A friend I'm having lewd and lascivious thoughts about right now. So what else is new?

In the end, he second-guesses me. I have to say I sometimes envy him his nifty wolf instincts. He just turns to me and for a second, his eyes narrow suspiciously. He studies my face with intent concentration, and his nostrils flare minutely. Then he relaxes and cracks a lopsided little smile.

"How long have you been into Barbra Streisand, Xander? Is it just a temporary thing?"

"What? I don't--" I never get any further (which is just as well, since I wasn't coming up with anything smart anyway), because he sneaks a hand around my neck and pulls my face down to his. Yes. Lips meet, and this time it's exactly what it seems like, a kiss. A real one, with tongues. He tastes spicy and intoxicating. Like pot and incense and something else I can't exactly put a name to.

Just a kiss, and all of a sudden I'm hornier than a barnful of cattle. Well, I've never been kissed by a guy before. I've wanted to, sure, but no one's ever wanted it back at me. And now, well, it's everything I'd hoped for. Wasn't that an unbelievably Barbara Cartland thing to think? I'm glad my mouth is still filled with his tongue, otherwise I might have said it out loud.

Then he does pull back, and for a second I'm so sure he's gonna tell me to get lost. Instead, he just looks at me, all calm and composed again, except for that little gleam in his eyes that tells me he's not quite as on top of things as he pretends to be. I'm sure I look like I just got knocked over the head with something heavy, cause that's what I feel like, and somehow everything I feel tends to show up on my face. I am so nothing like him.

"Well..." he says, a little uncertainly. Maybe it's only to be expected that I would feel more decisive when he shows hesitation. I grin at him, making sure not too seem smug or anything.

"Barbra Streisand?"

"I like Barbra." His eyes flicker away from mine, and he looks somehow younger now, a little coltish and insecure. Then he blinks slowly, and when his eyes clear, he's all Oz again, cool dude with things under control. But I saw that fear in him. He isn't fooling me.

"Okay. So we just kissed. What happens next? I'm assuming you know a lot more than I do about situations like this?"

"Are you calling me a slut, Xander?"

"No, I'm..." He's joking. Of course. "Are you?"

"That would depend on your definition of the word. I have been around the block, though." So, he does this a lot. Encouraging. "Not in a long time. Not since Willow."


"It was before. With Devon. With a lot of people, actually. I sort of did the whole promiscuity thing before I hit eighteen. And then it wasn't as fun anymore."

"And this is...?"

"Not promiscuity." It better not be. I might be able to handle rejection, but another episode like the whole Faith-deal would just be way too painful. Not to mention awkward. And I like Oz. I like the way he makes this thing seem just normal. He's not sweating over the gay issue. I suppose he's what they call 'comfortable with his sexuality' or whatever. And to think I never had a clue. Yeah, yeah, I never have a clue about anything.

I decide I want some more of that kissing thing right now. He's apparently happy to oblige, and it all gets pretty hot for a while. I want to touch more parts of him than I can reach right now, but I'm not sure how to go about it, and furthermore I am not sure just how far I want to take this tonight. So for the time being, I keep my hands safely on his back, on his neck, in his hair. And then his hand is sneaking under my t-shirt, and my resolve melts like butter on a stove. I want skin, and I want it now. I tug at his shirt in impatient frustration. He pulls back quickly and pins me with his eyes. I squirm like a worm on a hook under his scrutiny. I surrender.


"I just wanted to look at you for a while." Oh. I see. And I want to see you, but sans clothes, please. "I've got a mattress in the back."

Boy Scout, and I never knew. We crawl into the cluttered van without really letting go of each other. More kisses, demanding, messy, wonderful. His tongue means business and no two ways about it. His hands are getting far more adventurous, as well, sneaking back under my shirt, slipping down to rub over my thighs, cup my ass. I am reduced to a panting wreck, and I hope he doesn't mind taking control, because I can't bring myself to do much anything more complicated than desperately pressing myself against him. He is nuzzling into my neck, licking and nipping, and there's a sound like a low, rumbling growl emanating from his throat. Hey, you're not going all wolfy on me? A second of lazy fear. He must feel it, because he stops and pushes himself up, looks at me with his head cocked like a puzzled collie. His face is completely human. His eyes are ... not. It sounds a little off the wall, but they look yellow. He doesn't seem dangerous, though. My fear is gone as if it never existed, and I'm twice as horny.

"What?" he says softly. I giggle like a schoolgirl and pull a limp hand over his face.

"Your eyes." Said eyes widen in understanding.

"Oh. Them. I forgot. It's nothing dangerous." Well, that was helpful. I smile to show him I'm cool with it. He stays back. "It's the smell."


"Here." He bows down, kisses my throat quickly. Mumbles into my skin. "It smells like sex. Drives me nuts."

Sure. Whatever. Could we please just get off now? I can't remember ever being this horny, although that's probably what you feel every time great and new and exiting sex comes your way. The mind is endlessly adaptable and the joys of a selective memory are great.

Then he's slipping downwards, skipping further preliminaries as if he knows there's no way I'm going to last more than thirty seconds of foreplay. Hell, he probably does know. And he knows what he's doing to me for sure, because I think I'm going to come before he even gets his mouth around my poor, neglected cock. Give me unsexy, quickly ... cold oatmeal ... pigfarming ... Principal Snyder in a leather thong... Oh god! And the rest is fireworks.

Still dazed I raise a spinning head and look at him. It is still Oz, and he bears no resemblance whatsoever to our erstwhile headmaster. He looks happy and a little smug, and his mouth is swollen and pretty.

"What?" he says, smirking a little at my expression.

"I was just cursing my fate," I drawl casually. He does the eyebrow-quirk thing. He wants to hear about my fate. "I just had the most amazing orgasm of my life, and I was picturing Snyder in bondage gear at the time."

He laughs, and I laugh with him. How can we be this cool when he just had his mouth on my cock a minute ago? I am perfectly relaxed, and that is such a new feeling that I can't quite come to terms with it.

"You must know things about Snyder I don't," he says with a grin, and snuggles up against me, and he's still wearing his jeans. This isn't the way I want him right now, so I claw my way out of my post-orgasmic daze to attack his fly. It seems to require a lot more concentration than it technically should, but finally I manage. By that time, Oz is squirming and gasping in a most delightful way. In fact, his moaning is making my spent cock twitch in happy abandon. I think I need to suck this boy's cock right now.

When I finally swallow him, his gasps and subtle groans turn into something far more primal. Almost like ... growling. Deep rumbles in that scrawny chest. God, I could do this all night just to hear him purr. And when he comes, bucking wildly into my straining mouth, his voice grows into a howl that sends chills down my spine and new fireworks through my cock. Whew. Sex just hasn't been this good since... Well, since ever.

I pull myself up to his face for a kiss or two, and he throws his arms around me and holds me with determination, as if he's afraid I'll just walk out on him. Like I'd be able to walk after that. Hardly ever.

I lean back and watch his eyes fade back from that bright, evil yellow into the ordinary and harmless grey. It kind of wigs me out, but then again, Buffy used to have a lover who'd morph into a demon at the drop of a hat, and she wasn't particularly fazed. I can't allow myself to get all jittery because of something relatively harmless like lycantrophy.

In the end, all I want to do is wrap myself around his small, wiry frame and just stay there until the world would be kind enough to start making sense.

Forever it is, then.