Disclaimers: Nothing here is mine. But then, what *is*
possession? The first person that answers "nine tenths
of the law" gets a free hungry Vamp!Giles and a locked
Spoilers: Everything through Buffy S5 and Angel S2.
Summary: The importance of a well-rounded education.
Ratings Note: R.
Author's Note: Because I don't want to leave this alone.
Directly follows "Synaptic" in the Traveler series. Story
has a lot to do with Radiohead and Rage Against the
Machine and Moby. Therefore, it also has a lot to do with
Miss Sheila, who keeps me current. <g>
Acknowledgments: For my beautiful Debilla, who keeps
me wondering, and to Sheila and Dawn Sharon.
Feedback: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
Everything, all the time.
That's what it comes down to, Oz thinks. To have gone through
the experience of being placed above and far beyond human
is one thing -- and indeed, his perception is always filled to
bursting, his capacity for sensation increased a thousandfold.
He would be mad if it hadn't.
There is a Godhood in this, though it doesn't matter in present
company. If he could still shift, it might've been different,
but dead flesh cannot change, no matter how much it wants
Oz knows he has given this to Giles, at least the rudiments of
it somehow. There is a crease on his forehead that is directly
related to the mildly irritating itch in his side. Darla's wound,
which Oz had corrupted with his teeth.
He tells himself it would be presumptuous to tell Giles precisely
why it isn't *quite* healing, despite his vampirism.
He knows the truth: he likes this secret thing, this sudden
companionship that could grow between them, beyond Sire
and fledge. This new possibility that he can barely wrap his mind
Oz has settled within himself well enough to know a few more
things for certain. He is not a werewolf so much as the trapped
spirit of a long-dead true wolf. He is a not a vampire so much
as the equally trapped demon of unknown species. He is not Oz
so much as Oz-who-became.
He belongs to Giles, body and souls.
Giles belongs to him, equally. Pack, and Oz will mount him
and give his demon fits. Oz knows the smile has made it to
his face when Darla returns it with one of her own. She drinks
from Drusilla every night, and so is healing very fast now.
Oz knows that none of them have any idea what to do about
On the one hand, pointing Glory towards her key, this Dawn
that he does and does not remember now that he knows, would
surely rid them of Buffy. And that leads to the interesting
question of whether or not another Slayer would be called, or
if the mystical line would re-center itself in Faith, safely locked
A jailed, unstable Slayer is surely better than the free-range
variety... which would suggest that the Watchers' Council would
either have her freed or killed.
A fresh, untrained Slayer would be better than both.
And yet, none of this could come to pass without bringing
themselves to the attention of an unstable *Goddess*, whose
motives are completely unknown. Oz has the urge toward
destruction, it's true, but he would rather it be on the terms of
himself and his family, not some crazed deity.
Oz wants the time to settle in with this for a while, to curl
at Giles' feet and spend the day shaping and reshaping the
metaphysical questions and theological discoveries. They all
actually lived in a polytheistic universe. Oz could walk up to
a practicing monotheist and say, hey, you're wrong.
It's staggering to know that. Absolutely stunning.
And what if the mono/poly dichotomy didn't work at all? What
if Glory was part of the One In Many? If they were, actually,
plotting around God, as opposed to *a* god. This is a situation
in which pot would be both a necessity and the most wrong
They have to *think*. *He* has to think, add his mind to the
group's. Put aside the stark terror.
When had philosophy ever meant so much?
Oz wonders, for the first time, what part of him, what *who*
of him will go to Hell when he dies permanently.
Oz wonders if he can change his sense of religion now -- or,
he supposes, develop one -- to avoid the. Pitfalls. Drusilla
is giggling, so he doesn't have to.
Oz wonders if there is a way to run from this, and knows that it
isn't just his inner demon being sensible.
And yet, other demons have been seen in her company, and she
(She?) had transfigured more... perhaps she preferred demons
to humans, and wished to create some sort of paradise?
And what would that be? A world without Slayers?
The wolf in him rebels at the idea. There's something... not
right about that. Unnatural. Though there was the whole
matter of God, or, maybe all of the Gods deciding just what
would be natural. Like, maybe they'd argued about whether gravity
should exist, or if it should shut on and off randomly, with
people and demons and others occasionally floating right up
into the sky and out beyond the atmosphere and.
Right about here would be where Devon supplied a "dude,"
and took away the joint.
Oz is feeling intensely himself, more than any dream of sunlight
Perhaps all vampires recalled their humans when faced with
something truly eternal.
If Gods were eternal. Something there. Something niggling.
Devon's mother invites him in, smiling. She'd always felt he was
a good influence on her son -- it was in the pointed looks
she'd give Devon across the dinner table whenever Oz stayed
Devon, over the years, had done his part to corrupt Oz as
much as possible in response. At the last, before Jordy's bite,
before Willow, Devon had seen Oz as a qualified success, at
Devon had been oddly angry. Or at least it had seemed odd
"You never just ride it," he'd said. "You never just... fuck, man,
you're not here at all, are you?"
"Yeah?" Bright eyes half-visible through the haze inside the van, just
enough silence to make it seem serious, though not serious enough
for the Oz-that-was to focus on it.
"Yeah. I'm here."
"Dude, we just had a serious conversation using, like, eight words."
"It's because we're guys."
Laughter, slow, pot-clumsy sex. More laughter, and that was the
last of it.
Brief moments with Willow in his arms, wondering if there
was something more to her self-consciousness than just her
own experiences with years of unrequited love, but not wondering
too deeply. There was something always so forbidding about
certain kinds of self-analysis, even as he'd wallowed in others.
Here, now, Devon grinning into his neck, long arms wrapped
around him, Oz is unafraid of himself.
Oz is here now. Here *now*. All of him.
They catch up. Devon tells him about the new guitarist, and his
deep love for 80s hair rock. Oz tells him about the way the
desert had wanted to eat him alive, and how he'd almost let it.
About being a vampire in a werewolf's body. Or however it feels
Devon just nods.
"Aren't you afraid?"
"Hey, you know. Sunnydale. And. I knew." Eye contact, and
Devon's so open it pulls Oz closer.
Finds himself running a hand over the contours of Devon's
face, looking for something that would make Devon stop
thinking and just talk.
"You were always just so *little*, man. Your heartbeat just.
Right there, everytime I held you. And... nothing."
Kissing Devon like this is shocking. So much heat it feels
dangerous. So wet and *soft*. Oz feels as though he's raping
Devon's mouth, but Devon doesn't seem to mind.
Devon kissing him back and doing that nose thing, rubbing
up against his face somewhere between a nuzzle and an
Inuit kiss. Perhaps Eskimo would be the better word now,
though. Eater of flesh, devourer of small, human worlds.
"I could kill you."
Giles is outside with Devon's mother when he leaves. Devon
sleeps through the sounds. Giles allows him to arrange the
body neatly, but not to close the door.
"That was... impetuous, Oz."
"Also surprising. I didn't think humans could still be..."
Oz half-nods. He can't think of anything better.
"Your nature is unique, of course, but we've known vampires
to be varied..." Giles trails off, obviously thinking on something,
but, for the moment, not sharing.
He has dressed as a former self. An apparition from Oz's
first senior year, edged sharp and graceful. Drusilla has
heard the stomp and crunch of Slayer feet all over the biscuits,
and they've all taken it to mean that she has stepped up
Two missing witches and a Watcher, too. And quite a few of
the Watcher's books.
Darla had demanded they find minions to do the move for them,
but had to admit it would be too noticeable.
Darla and Spike both seem to miss direct action, but since
they will not agree with each other what course to take, there
will be no... runaways?
Will they have a prodigal of their own, or will it always be
Giles' kill for the night is a man locking up his real estate
office. Oz can taste his laboring breath from this distance,
and knows the satisfaction of exactly the right sort of prey
It makes him think about Xander, wonder if he's found a person
to be yet. Someone he can like. He wonders what it would
have been like to know him, wolf to hyena. Would they have
liked each other? Been able to stand each other's scent?
Drenched in Devon's scent, Oz is forced to consult this new/
old part of him that deals in emotions beyond those in
his -- apparently indestructible -- hindbrain.
Giles: Admirable, fascinating. Magnetic.
Spike: Fun. In need. Also magnetic, but different.
Darla: Beautiful. In need. Dangerous.
Drusilla: Beautiful. In need. Terrifying.
Oz doesn't know whether to trust the first words that come to
his mind, finds himself at a loss to self-define. Yes, those are
his feelings for *them*. Could they possibly be the same for
And just how insecure had Angel been as a mortal anyway?
In the end, they decide to simply ask. Track the unique scent
to Sunnydale's best hotel, a mostly useless sprawl of
absolute luxury in a town on very few maps. Oz remembers
walking past it, tripping with Devon and Mike. Staring up
at faux Spanish revival that somehow retained a basic
Wondering how it stayed open.
Now, all five of them are standing in a lush, red corridor,
waiting on the word of a demon whose species Spike and
Giles argue about with a sort of good-natured viciousness.
They are the line of Aurelius, the best, smartest, strongest,
and most feared. Slayers have fallen to their number. Their
fear is so rank that Oz can't keep his nose from twitching.
Slayers have fallen to their number, but Glory has tossed the
girl who could very possibly be the best Slayer to have ever
lived around like a rag doll, and then simply ignored her.
None of them have ever *ignored* a Slayer. And then there's
the fact that she's a goddess.
Oz has never been happier to be the mascot.
People rarely throw mascots around.
Gods might, though.
His family stands as though anything with a nose and an half
functional brain couldn't tell they were near to wetting
themselves. Oz stands with them, and does breathing exercises
that merely make him more nervous.
Apparently, his dead body *really* doesn't need that much
It's only ten minutes before she grants them audience, and
nowhere near long enough. They walk in order of age, save
for Oz, who shamelessly heels Giles.
She sprawls amidst a wreckage of shopping bags, packaging,
and trays of salad.
"Well. There you all are. I'm *hungry*."
The disputed demon scurries out of the corner, bowing and
trembling. "Yes, most exquisite one?"
"I don't *want* this rabbit food. Take it away!"
He moves to do so, a heretofore unnoticed friend helping. The
two demons move among them, quickly and neatly. Their
fear is different, even beyond their species. It's more...
permanent somehow. Excepted. Like the happiness of some of
the more popular, less intelligent people in his classes -- a
dully steady contentment, woven right into their bones,
Glory is tapping her foot, tossing her hair like an odd cross
between a twelve year old girl and a restive horse.
She has the same wholesome prettiness as Darla, though one
that is far better fed. She's smiling at him.
"You really are a little cutie aren't you, halfling?"
"I try." Blinks when it comes out normally.
"Aren't you darling. Can I have him?" Looking directly to Giles,
whose hand tightens on his shoulder once, but briefly. He is
a pragmatist. Oz can't feel his feet.
"Oh, you Sires are always so possessive. I should have a baby.
All the best clothes, get her into a good pre-school. Hmm.
What should I name her?" she asks the room at large. "And
where's my real *food*?"
The first demon rushes in with another tray. A deli sandwich
and pickle artfully arranged with something else vaguely
reddish serving as garnish. It's one of those things that don't
quite fit, like filet mignon on Wonder bread. Also, there is
New England clam chowder. And crackers.
"This is going to make me *so* fat and then I'll have to eat
more salad which I *hate* and why why why can't I have my
"If I may, Glorificus?"
"Call me Glory. What's your name?"
"Oh, that's so cute! Darrrr-la. Those are great shoes."
"There's this *darling* boutique Dru and I found in L.A."
"You have to show me!"
Darla smiles and giggles, and it's almost real. Oz's fear is more
of the bemusing variety, but he remains alert.
"Your colors are so loud! All swirly and *bright*..." Drusilla
dances something old and complicated around Spike, who
smiles openly and half-sways with her before Giles nudges him
back to attention.
"I don't know you, do I?" Glory turns to Darla. "Did I..." waggles
her fingers, "you know. To her soul?"
Darla smiles. "Oh, no, that was Angelus."
Glory nods sagely, kicks her feet. "I need more hot peppers."
The demons scurry back with hot peppers.
"Hunh. I need my *KEY*!!" The room shakes, but nothing happens.
"It was worth a try." Glory picks up the small bowl of soup and
blows across it. "So. What do you guys want?"
"Well, Glory, that's just it. We want to know what... well, what
your intentions are toward our. Well, our universe."
"My intentions toward the universe?" Glory falls back on the
bed laughing, soup just barely not sloshing over her bare
forearms. Oz watches the soup intently. Cannot, in fact, tear
his eyes away from the bowl. If it spills... if it spills *something
Oz isn't ready to die again. He wants to make it to forty-five,
one way or another. An adult age, with a certain amount of
wisdom and coolness still within reach and Glory is still
laughing and Oz whines, a little helplessly.
Giles is thankfully still there to squeeze his shoulder. There's
something inherently *wrong* about being face to face with
God. *A* God. Too many questions answered that he'd have
to think about later.
Too many conclusions to make peace with and Glory's wound
down a bit, making those post-laugh sighs and grinning...
well, like a lunatic.
"Wow, you guys are so *organized*. I haven't even got my
key yet and you're here, covering your asses. Man. I *love*
being a Goddess."
They look at each other and stand, firming themselves as much
"Well, OK, you guys are kinda fun and cute and different.
I'll make you a deal. *I'll* tell you what I'm going to do and
"Tell me where you got those shoes."
Dru leans close to Glory. "They came from the cowwws."
"Ah, Glory, Dru is just trying to be helpful. Let's see, I think
I kept a card..."
And Darla had, because that was just the kind of universe he
existed in now. Flakes of dried blood dusted down to the
floor when she pulled it out of her handbag.
Glory bounced on the bed and whooped. "Road trip, boys!"
Stood and started tossing clothes in a garment bag before
abruptly leaping back onto the bed and jumping up and down.
"I! WANT! MY! KEY!" The window broke in its frame.
And then she jumped back down and smiled. "OK, you guys
have been good. Here's the deal -- I get my key, I
re-enter... what are you kids calling it these days? Valhalla?"
"Heaven?" Giles voice is unsteady.
"There you go! I re-enter heaven, and take back my rightful
place among the Powers."
"Funtime! Now get out. Go. Scoot! NOW!"
They don't stop running until they're back at the mansion.
Later, hastily fed and essentially prowling within five
entirely separate spaces, there is time to think.
"Really, Spike, that's rather inappropriate now, don't you
"Oh, bloody *fine*. RUPERT."
"Useless bloody fledgling. Is Armageddon a good thing or
a bad thing?"
It's a good question.
Continued in Bound.