Little Gods
by Janete
June-July 2001

Disclaimers: If they were ours, the fabric of spacetime would
get awfully thin.

Spoilers: Hmm... assorted X-Man issues, vague Buffy references through early 5th season. No one is worried about Glory. This goes AU after X-Man #74, and sometime after the Buffy episode The Replacement. Or, possibly after New Moon Rising, depending on what you think went down with the Oz-man. 

It might help to know a little about the X-Men universe, and some about the Buffyverse, but things manage to explain themselves as the story progresses.

Summary: Nate goes a'shamaning and picks up an Oz.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Authors' Notes: Crossover kings, the both of them. How could
we *not*?

Acknowledgments: Love to the Spike, Puca, and Sheila for read-throughs and the occasional moment of What Would Oz Do?

Feedback is the fragile glue holding reality together. and


He's somewhere.  Small and close and safe, watching it rain.  Like a bedroom.  Like a cave.  Like the best days he ever had in the van.  Softer, though, and warmer.  Oz has had some time to contemplate this, and a lot of other possibilities, in the quiet.  He's trying fairly successfully to ignore his bruises.  Both him and this Nate Grey person naked and sitting cross-legged on the bed's quilt. And how did he know his name? He doesn't quite remember introductions last night, but then, he wasn't in the best 
shape of his life last night, either.

"Hey, thanks for the rescue."

And the way Nate smiles, almost *beams* at him is enough to make Oz shiver a little. This ridiculously powerful being is, at least on some level, exactly as young as he looks. Which is a little frightening, but cool.

He gets, somehow, that Nate's not really very comfortable being naked. Like he's happy to be out of his clothes, but always watching for something. Oz isn't sure why, but he has the distinct impression that Nate is naked solely because Oz was naked in his cell.

Cell. And that's. Kinda weird, actually. There'd been leaving. Willow and Sunnydale, behind him. Night into day into night driving. Soldiers. More, and different soldiers and he'd definitely wound up in a cell, and there ought to be *more* in his head about this, but there. Isn't. He could spend some time wondering about that, but he honestly doesn't want to. "Hunh."

Nate wraps his arms around his knees. Lays his head down on top of them and stares at Oz.

"S'okay. I think it's maybe something I had to do."


"I'm kind of new at this. Six months ago it was just me and Maddie in South America." 

"Your girlfriend?"

"Yes. No.  My mom. I thought she was." Little shiver through him.


"It's complicated. The family is complicated."

"Families tend to be."

"Clones and stuff."



"I'd like to be..." Nate leans over suddenly and kisses him. Awkwardly. Like
maybe he's never done it before. Certainly not often enough to be good at

Their noses bump, and Nate catches Oz' cheekbone in his teeth. And just
keeps coming in. Gets their mouths together and manages to make it sweet if not exactly smooth.

Naked shoulder against Oz' chest. Skinny body smelling like boy and power and something electric and split-open.

Scent just reminding him of his own. Nate would like to be normal. Also, Nate would apparently like to make out. Which is also weird, and would definitely be a little sudden, if not sleazy, but there's. Something. 

Something in him vast and open, and his body is responding to just the simplest touch. Loneliness. He can understand loneliness. Good to have something that makes sense. 

And Nate smells like nothing that hurts, and every part of him is almost screaming about how important that is, almost an imperative. 

Breaks the kiss with his friendliest lick. "Nobody is normal."

"Yes they are, they just don't not -- appreciate it."


Silence for a while, and Oz remains half-turned, ready to hold Nate's
unsteady gaze whenever it flows back his way.

"Do you want to. Have sex?"

And Oz allows himself to really think about the question for a moment. There's freedom in being no longer 15, and being capable of hearing the word sex in a sentence without shorting out. Nate is young, one. Extremely powerful, two. Potentially unstable, three. Very interesting, four.


It's a tough call.

"I mean, we don't have to, that is, you don't, I won't..." One hand raised
to Oz, palm forward, eyes wide. Not an unfamiliar situation, and Oz wonders if this is anything like what those ancient Greeks went through when gods came to visit, when the deus exed the machina, and there's definitely more to that, but it all has that don't-touch don't-look feel that Oz can't help but listen to. 

There must be parts to this sort of thing that they don't tell you. The slam-the-mortal-up-against-the-wall-and-fuck-his/her-brains-out probably worked some of the time, yeah, but there must have been these awkward little moments, too. He wonders how many gods were this fragile.

Oz bends forward, picks up the hand, and kisses it. Just once, in the centre
of the palm. Rubs the back of it.

If he thinks about it, he knows who Nate reminds him of. Huge-eyed and girl-slender and awkward. But he doesn't smell anything like her, and the lines of his body are different. Very still, like he's not sure whether that was an answer, or whether Oz is only smelling him, tasting him, thoroughly. Oz growls inside, open and the decision seems to have been made in some distant past that refuses to exist. Whatever this is, he needs it, badly and baldly.

Licks Nate's arm and watches the muscles in his stomach convulse.

Watches Nate get very carefully onto his knees and crawl over. Lay himself
in close, one leg across Oz's thighs, lips just brushing his jaw. Faintest
of kisses. Breath and hesitation, and Oz would like to give him the space to work through it on his own, but something makes him turn his head, bend his mouth and catch Nate's. Not hard, but insistent. Kissing him open. Tongue in his mouth that becomes the centre of their particular universe, the all-defining thing that lets Nate become less aware of his hands, and lets them wander.

Fingers on his ribs, on his hips. Palm over the head of his cock. Gently. Nate's turned almost completely in towards him. Swallowed by the kiss, eyes open and huge. 

Oz slides an arm around Nate's shoulders and holds him up a bit. Bends him back and kisses him deeper. Bearing him down. 

Moment when Nate pulls back, and Oz helps him settle back over his centre of gravity. Very serious and very young, looking at him. Bends in once for a kiss that Oz doesn't push on too hard. 

Nate bends. Lays his head on Oz's leg for a second. Then goes down on him. 

This messy brown head in his lap. Shaggy and startlingly marked by the white bangs, spreading out around him while he sucks. Not well, but with that particular kind of concentration that somebody doing it for the first time and determined to finish does it. Pushing deeper, drooling a lot. 

Licking along the shaft. Every so often he hits his gag reflex and pulls back. Gasps and sobs and goes down again, and all Oz can do is cup his head and whisper to him softly. Something he hadn't considered needing, this tangible way to offer himself for... comfort? 

It's all right, it's okay, though Oz thinks it's his moans more than anything else that comfort Nate. Something in his determination to suck him deep, not even giving himself the out of a hand around the base of Oz's cock. Which would feel really good, actually, but he has to admit there's something about Nate's desperation to please him...

More Willow reminders, but Oz would never have let her push herself like
this. It's possible that he should have, but not if it would have only been
for his own pleasure. Nate's hard cock brushes Oz's leg every now and again, Nate's hands are rigid on his hips.

He's enjoying himself, and Oz has always believed that when basically good people enjoy themselves, more is right with the world than per usual.

Gasps as a tongue finds his slit, again as something... strange happens. A
momentary buzz of power and Nate is *gulping* him down.

Oz curling up on himself, clenching his muscles as Nate's throat *works*
him. Again, not professionally so much as eagerly, but with an almost
impossible to imagine control. Abruptly, Oz doesn't want to see, but he
forces himself to look.

Something... a little off, and he can't focus through the heat of it, just
wants to fuck Nate's throat and let him take his come when suddenly he *can* see it. The sudden thickness of Nate's throat, the loss of proportion that shocks Oz's orgasm out of him with a grunt.

Shakes him right down. Like his skeleton's been knocked loose. And for a second he can just slouch against the wall with his fingers tangled in Nate's hair and this kind of ache in him. Good, yeah, but frightening too.
Something about this boy. This being. *Shaman*, some voice that's maybe not his own whispers.

Doubles and triples and never quite there. Sliding in and out of focus. Oz can see how hard Nate's trying to hold on, but he's a bit like an acid trip -- parts of him melting and reforming in split-seconds. 

Raises big grey eyes to Oz. Still curled up almost in his lap. Wet-mouthed and shining and tentatively he reaches up to stroke Oz's face. 

He's still hard. Purple like it must *ache*, but he isn't touching it. Just touching Oz. Ghosting palms over him like he could read his skin. 

Oz gets an arm around Nate's shoulders and pulls the boy down beside him. Doesn't touch his cock, but rubs him all over. Circling one palm on his
belly. Stroking the insides of his thighs. And for just a second he feels
something touch him, inside. Ruffling the wolf's ears. Not inviting it out,
exactly, but. Acknowledging it.

Reaches out with a leg and boosts Nate onto his hip. Gets that cock between them and then pulls him in and *kisses* him. Soft and long and deep enough to make Nate frantic, giving him the room he needs to twist and thrust but never quite enough to make him come.

And this should be impossible. Nate's a *teenager*. He's got a sex drive that controls two thirds of his brain. But he's focused so entirely on Oz. Kissing and touching and *reading* him. Little sobbing noises between kisses that brush wet and breathy against Oz's neck. 

Not only possible, but hopelessly real in a way Oz isn't quite sure how to
deal with. He's never felt this dissatisfied with his own three dimensions
before. Faced with something so far beyond the Hellmouth that he's... what?

Amazed? Shocked? Getting horny again?

What *is* the proper reaction to mutual groping with a god?

"I'm n-not. I'm not a god."

"But you are a telepath." *Knowing* that in a way that just slams home, flash of images, memory, and what exactly has Nate done? Something. Not important?

Messy, wet suck to the side of his throat. "Yes. It's. I'm sorry, I don't
mean to pry..."

Pulls back, strand of pre-come connecting their bodies and Nate's eyes are
so *wide* --

"Don't be afraid --"

"I'm not."

"I know. Just... don't?"

He thinks maybe he can't not be afraid.  This stranger in his *head*.  It's not just the suspicion that he *could* be in there, could hear the way Buffy heard him.  He's absolutely sure.  Nate's been in his head at some point.  A familiar little brush that's less like a sound than a touch runs over the front of his brain.

"No.  Shhhh.  It's okay.  I wouldn't hurt you."

Curls around him and strokes him, and eventually he decides he's calm. Almost not scared.  Curious about the shaggy softness of Nate's hair and impressed by the sheer focus he offers.  Something he really, really needs right now.  Reaches out and wraps his own arm around Nate's waist and pulls him in that much closer.

Close again, cock rubbing and pushing against Oz's belly, more wet kisses and Nate suckles on his throat. Definitely getting turned on again and not enough time to think it through.  Not enough time to panic, either, which he supposes is for the best.

If it was simply the physical, there'd be more room to consider Nate's age,
the moral implications, his chances for survival --

"No, no, won't hurt you --"

Mouth to mouth again, and Nate's hunger is incredible, something like
Veruca's, only a hundred times more intense and not at all cruel.

Realizing *he needs me --*

*Yes, Oz Daniel Danny yes...*

And then the sensation of connection, different than sex, more open than
anything else. There's a beautiful red-headed woman that doesn't remind him at all of Willow, a scarred landscape, flying. Flying everywhere. A blonde boy, a boy with no face, a landscape out of a Sunnydale nightmare and cages and strange, X-Files-y vats and monstrous things that may or may not be monstrous and under it all the *need* ---

Comes to himself flat on his back, panting. Sweating. Nate crouched over
him, hand hovering just above his face and --

"I'm so sorry so sorry I didn't mean... I didn't mean to hurt you..."

Oz shakes himself. It's fading, and he's starting to understand that none of that happened to *him*. And not all of what happened to Nate was *bad*. The X-Files-y stuff, yeah, that was bad, but it's a long time ago. He hangs onto the memory of a big man with a mechanical hand for a minute before letting that go, too. 

"Huh. Intense." He kisses the hand Nate's laid over his mouth. Carefully, feeling for the palm lines with his tongue. 

"I'm sorry."

"It's OK. I bounce pretty good." Pause. "All of that was you?"


"You going to tell me how old you are?"

"No." Pulls in on himself a bit. "I mean, I'm not going to let you know but.
It doesn't *signify*, you know? There was all of that and then. They wanted me to go to school, you know? Get crushes, lie about not doing my homework, eat cheetos and watch The Simpsons in the afternoons. Play video games. And I can't even sit *still*. Xavier and Moira both think I'm going to be dead by the time I'm twenty-one and I just don't think it applies, OK?"

Fuck. Young, then. Shaky and breathless from the words spilling out of him. Names that may or may not be important.

Oz collects Nate and pulls him down. Kisses him, which shuts him up until he can pull his brain together and stop babbling. Oz puts all of the *you're beautiful* that he has into it. Hunger and protectiveness and wanting flowing back in him, at him. This soft, close feeling that he suspects is love. For him. Nate whimpering into the kiss and this could definitely be defined as scary, being as how Oz isn't even entirely sure how long he's been here, or where here is, or who Nate is --

Shakes it off as Nate nibbles on his lip. Thinks. 

Oz has never thought of love as falling so much as just another part of the path, like walking past a flowerbed just as something lush with color and scent is blooming. Something rare, and possible, and not, necessarily, to be avoided. This strange being apparently loves him, and this is the part in the stories where the heroine runs screaming. Save that he doesn't really have anywhere to be. 

Save that Nate's scent has already been classified somewhere within him as a Good Thing. One that does not hurt. Why does he need that. Sensation like a wall, something that won't even allow the question to be a question.

*It's okay, Oz, I promise, won't hurt you...*

And love. He can be loved, if that's what this is. He doesn't harbor that kind of regret over Willow.

*She's beautiful*


*She's beautiful* 


And the sudden realization that they truly can have a conversation without any of the awkward physical inconveniences of tone and expression hits him hard for a moment. Something all wrapped in hope, and he wasn't aware until now that hope was something he was suppressing. 

Opens his eyes to Nate's, tries to send something deliberately. A small tangled mass of what being verbal means to Oz, pros and cons. Nate's smile is huge and bright. Steady as his body, his amazing *selfness*. 

*We never have to say a word*

*Sometimes I like to howl*

*Will you show me? I mean, not now, unless...*

Brief image of Nate trying to kiss Michael Landon as I Was A Teenage
Werewolf, the pleasure of someone hearing Oz laugh the way he always had.

*What do you like, Nate?*

*Um. It could be. What do you want to do to me?*

The thoughts hit Oz before he can control, leash them. Wolf and man together in some desires, but not others, and maybe he should've been the one asking Nate not to be scared --

Immediate comfort, warm through his whole body.

*You want me. I... That's OK, Oz.* Hard steadiness. *I've seen scarier
things than you*

He wants to be touched by it, but it sounds so much like a challenge that he growls.

*No, I mean, there are lawyers and governments and bigots and you can't
*stop* them, because you never know they're coming. The wolf in you is just. You.*

Kisses him. Straddles him and licks his chin. His nose. Snuffles around
until Oz wonders which one of them, exactly, is the wolf. Grins at him out
of the corner of his eye.

*You wanna let it go, you can* 

*I don't think* 

*I'm not God, but I'm the Shaman, and it counts for something. you won't hurt me. let it out* 

And he does. Feels it rising, the half-change that merges his two aspects, more frightening than immersion into wolf form, because that's at least all one. All one version of Oz. The mix brings something like a threat of contamination, that there'll be too much wolf in Oz next time they separate. 

Brush of soft fingers on his mind. *I won't let you slide. change* 

He does. And holds him down. Animal, furry and anthropomorphic and vividly human and *wanting* this boy. Prehensile paws pinning his wrists. Narrow hips pushing his legs apart. Nuzzling his neck. Not biting, but licking hard, against the grain of him. Pushing Nate up into a response. 

Waiting for a moment of confusion and doubt that never actually comes. Nate is pliant beneath him, unfrightened, curious. Oz is caught somewhere between rage and need, and feels something like its twin beneath him. The link is effortless in this form, and Nate flows into him, sharing the pleasure of Oz's rough tongue, of soft fur all over his skin. 

There are words, but they feel vague, unimportant beyond the newness of this connection. A body offered, but not for sacrifice. Nate's taste is one explosion after another, incredible power just beneath the salt, the vague tang he knows as youth, caught between child and man. 

Oz releases Nate's wrists and allows himself to taste, so much more of himself allowed loose this time, the gift of patience for more than just the musky places. 

Size and strength but no fear of damage, nothing but the *possibility* of fear and silken skin, pale against his fur, Nate jerking at the feel of his cold nose, shifting to allow the press and scrape of teeth over torso and calf. Sneezing a little at the tickle of hair when Oz inhales him. Simple progression to nose between thighs that weren't spread quite enough, to taste and understand something silent and important at the twitch and jerk of Nate's cock against his tongue. Allowing it to loll and curl around the tender sac, tug a little. 

Flip the boy over and scrape with a claw enough to break the skin under his shoulderblade, the blood singing in his mouth, but not maddening him. 

Tight, firm muscle of Nate's ass, the oils in the cleft, the sense of things being far too clean, so clean he has to push harder, lick harder. Open him deep to get the taste he needs. 

Tongue too thick for it and *that* is maddening, impossibly easy shift back to the difficult man-wolf state and now he can. Slip inside. 

Tongue him. Ruthless and still softer than fucking him, and the sheer focus of it enough to send Nate mad. Twisting under him, pushing back and whimpering and babbling something. Pleasure and fear of it and something that Oz gradually identifies as mistrust. That it is, in spite of the intensity of it, not something he can be sure of. Needs to be *owned*. 

Oz pulls back. Looks down at the wet hole and rubs a thumb speculatively across it. Draws a moan out and relishes it. Imagines transforming completely to wolf and fucking Nate that way. Nate would let him; he's sure of that, at least. But the rest... 

He smells good. Younger than he looks, even. Very clean skin. Spreading his thighs and panting, tilting to offer the hole to him again. 

And there's something... Not so much an irritant as a small haze Oz is only aware of now. Something in the difference between the feel of the boy's skin and the look of it. As though there was too much *person* in it, and the memory hits him. 

A family picture-taking, out at the park for the family reunion. Oz in front with the rest of the kids, dying grandfather holding one hand and the toddler Jordy had been holding his other. Jordy had been afraid of the camera, and Oz had been wondering 


about images and souls and a ladybug had landed on Jordy's pale, smooth arm hey, good luck and that had been a tiny revelation. Or a revelation within the feel of Jordy's perfect, silky skin and grandpa's -- 

*Oz, don't --* 

Shocked back into human form and Oz is scrabbling back and back and back on the bed trying to get to a wall that's just not there, even though Nate's body is at least ten feet away and more than that and more and 

*Where's the fucking *wall*?* 

slamming instantly against it just like it was there all along. Oz knows it wasn't. 

The room is different now, feels vaguely like a hotel room and suddenly there's a really bad 

watercolor on the wall and the old quilt has become a newer, scratchier comforter, and it's made from obviously artificial materials, *transient* materials, and so is everything else in the room. 

He makes the mistake of looking out the window and the colors start to draw him somehow, some deep, vast swirl out there that means something --

*Oz don't look!*

Yanked back into something like consciousness to find himself struggling
against Nate's hold, still trying to leap out the window and he has no idea
why, just knows he has to *go* --

*Please don't oh please you'll get lost out there and I won't find you and
you won't find you just please stop trying to get away I don't know how to
hold all this yet and I'm sorry I'm sorry*

And Oz squeezes his eyes shut. Breathes. Slowly manages to still himself, and lets himself be gathered into an excruciatingly tight embrace.

And when he opens his eyes, he's looking at someone who could be Nate's
father, if it wasn't for the bruised and terrified look in the man's eyes.
Nate's eyes.

He has scars, deep ones that lattice one side of his face, and the hair's
scatteredly silver.  The forelock too, but the silver in the rest of his
hair makes the forelock less startling.  There's something on his chest too
raw-looking to be a tattoo.

Oz reaches out and traces it.  X, circled, starkly black and shimmeringly
powerful.  The skin's damaged -- scarred and shiny.  It's a burn.

*um, what *is* this?*

*this is what I look like now, physically.  I changed*

*yeah, people do*

"I was seventeen."  Pause.  "You wanted to know how old I was? Seventeen. That was a bit over a year ago.  But I ran into a Nate-variant in another earth, and my body was dying ...*

*You live a really surreal life, don't you?*

Nate's mouth quirks.  *you don't look very surprised*

*I have interesting friends.*

He takes Nate's wrist and strokes it.  It really is the same body, just older and. Scourged. Has a kind of solid edge to it that his nose believes.  Same flesh, different image.

*I didn't.  it doesn't feel like my body most of the time*  Silence. Scent of an almost pathetic ruefulness.  *I wanted you to like me.  I thought you'd like the other version better.  and it's still me, so it wasn't exactly a lie*

Oz shakes his head, pulls the wrist up and licks it carefully.  "What was
that?" Needing his voice, if only for a little while. Words he can feel. 

"I'm sorry.  You scared me and I... it changed.  It was an accident."

"Think you could not do that again?"

Big, solemn nod.  Whatever he looks like, he really isn't as old as he
looks.  Not by years.  He has a kid's fierce sincerity and no sense of
proportion and he's soft.  Smells soft, tastes it.  He felt so *good* under
Oz's body.

Quiet, in his mind:

*Do you still want me?*

*Yeah* Wolf responding to power, man responding to pure, raw, dangerous need, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.

*Do you want me to be young again?*

*I like this way, too*

And Oz pulls Nate's head down to kiss him, registering a hint of stubble,
the smoothly humped ridges of the scars that caress his palm.


Little tremble under his hand.  Fierce kiss on his mouth.

*thank you thank you thankyouthankyouthankyou*

He rolls them down. Gratitude he doesn't quite want to focus on. Gets them on their sides, facing each other.  Vaguely surprised that Nate's not taller.  Something in his mind that the man should be larger, physically, than the boy.  This body's actually thinner.  More muscle, but virtually no body fat, and something about him's pared down to bone and rope, barely holding together. Still inches taller than Oz, but... lean. 

Laces his fingers into Nate's hair and kisses, gets a knee between those
thighs and rubs up.  Soft and wet and slowly seducing him.  Just a suspicion that this is something Nate might want, to be coaxed and drawn out and teased instead of fucked and mauled, no matter how much he screams for it.

Animal kisses on his face.  Wet tongue and careful mouth, teeth just barely grazing, and Nate wraps his arms around Oz's body and hauls him in so close that it shouldn't be as easy as it is to even breathe.

He wonders how hard it would be to make this into a game.  Get Nate to play with him.  If he's careful...  Kisses him as focusedly as he can and lets
his hands slide down Nate's sides.  Rubs his thigh against Nate's cock.  And only when he's utterly not expecting it, tickles him.

Snakes fingers over his ribs and catches exactly the right spot.  Just
narrow flesh stretched over the bone, exactly the wrong place to bite, but
there are nerve endings all through it, and it's just a matter of the right
soft touch.

Nate shrieks.  Wiggles and tries to get away, not brutally but quite
seriously.  Laughs when Oz follows him over, still straight-faced and still
tickling, and straddles him and scoots the touch down into the hollows of
his pelvis.

*oh god Oz fuck it stop it ahhhhh*

Not even oral, just a kind of hysterical babbling, and even it degenerates
after a while into helpless psychic giggles and screams.  Gasping for air
and on the edge of hyperventilation, and every inch of him's got to be
superoxygenated by the time Oz leans in and kisses him.

Tangled, and this instant in which neither of them needs to breathe.  It was somewhere in the midst of that wrestling match that Oz started to believe that Nate really is an eighteen-year-old boy shelled in a man's body. Playful and awkward and not entirely aware of his own power.  Surprised by the kiss. Only after a minute does he reach up and wrap both arms around Oz's neck and pull him down. Kisses Oz softly, opening his mouth and changing the angle minutely to catch Oz's lips inside his.  Liquid warm and sliding down his body. Nate's hips angling, one leg hooking behind his, and the shift of Nate's pelvis crawls through both of them.  Really going to do this, friendly and gently, seduced and not quite but nearly understood.

Oz is thinking, vaguely, about other nights when he's done this, or something nearly like it.  In the van with Devon.  In Willow's bedroom.  Once in Mexico, with the Brit hitchhiker he met.  Dust scrape of the desert across the van's roof and the vague rumble of a convoy in the distance, both of them tangled and just fucking against each other with their shirts still on. 

Something comforting in each of those thoughts, and he's not entirely surprised when the room contracts around them.  Enough to be noticeable, and more than enough to bring it down to the size of a kind of shelter space. Two of them, the bed, and enough room to stretch their arms out.  Body-warmth against his naked chest, and Nate says, "Fuck me.  Please."

Like the ultimate fort. The kind he couldn't build until Danny's-so-*solemn* became Danny-and-Dev and Oz kisses Nate again, slows it down to something messy. Something good and sure that Oz can settle into as he reaches past the vague impression of a flannel-blanket wall to a perfect night table that he may or may not be able to actually see were he to open his eyes. He won't.

He likes this, sensation and memory building a world just around the two of them, something Oz gets is both real and not. An image of it in his mind, some random person walking into their bedroom to find the half-sensible ghosts of two guys having sex on a bed that's no longer quite their own.

*you think a *lot*, Oz*

Oz nods from somewhere deep inside his head and spills lube over his hand, his dick. It's that exact perfect temperature that no lube, anywhere, ever actually reaches and Oz grins in the darkness, slicking them both. Slow and not so much careful as curious.

There was something like a promise given, he thinks, that he will be allowed to touch Nate's real body, but the definition of real is really kind of slippery at the moment. Brief flash of bringing Nate back to the world that isn't his anymore.

Smoking up in the van and letting Nate do his thing and just completely
sending Devon over the edge.

Laughing with Nate up and down some entirely befucked mental scale, just playing with it, themselves, and all the noises Oz has never been able to make aloud, all the sex noises that might have been too loud or just too
silly. Right here, right now, it's all okay, and Nate's just as noisy in the
silence and it's precisely the kind of paradox Oz has come to appreciate.

*gonna do it now. you ready?*

*yes *please* Oz --*

Inside with one long, slow push. Shifting as much he can, just to feel his
balls against Nate's ass, the rawness of it above and beyond being buried,
God, so deep.

Looks down at Nate.  Something utterly tangled in the adult face and the
child's expression.  Closed eyes, breathing through his teeth.  The hands
holding his legs out of the way are shaking.  Gorgeous legs, really.  Very
white, like a redhead's skin, long, very fair hair on them, closer to
translucent auburn than the hair on his head.  Gorgeous skin.

Oz leans over and licks the inside of one raised ankle while he pulls out
and pushes in again.




Bends and manages to kiss him in spite of the gymnastic improbability. Thrusts again, this time holding Nate down with his whole body, and he can hear the tiny shriek that pushes out of him.  And just so fucking *good*. Tight, soft, slick like nothing should be.  Sliding into him and just
holding there at the deepest point.



*can we?*  Nate shows himself flipped over, lying belly-down in the tangle
of blankets while Oz rides him.


In a sec.  Not before he's kissed Nate again, lingering long enough to feel
Nate shaking from the strain and arousal of it.  Only then pushes up to his
knees, and only once he's upright pulls out.

Before Nate can get up, Oz leans in and licks the inside of his thigh.  Rubs
his fingers across the slicked hole, getting just a fingertip inside and
circling with it.  Watches Nate pull himself together and roll over, trying
to keep that finger still inside him.  And gives it to him for a second once
he's settled down again.  On his stomach, pushed up on his forearms so that his back's hugely arched, spreading his legs and whimpering and there's no way *not* to do this. Fuck him with that finger and lick the back of his neck and whisper a handful of words that he hopes sound like reassurance.

Twists his knuckle and smells the fresh wash of sweat before he feels it
against his tongue and Oz can't wait. Thrusts in again and covers Nate,
biting at the back of his neck with dull, square teeth and moving.

Riding him --

*like this?*

Moaning assurance, and he can *feel* Nate being too far gone for words. The intensity of it as his end of the link descends to flashes of color and yes and please and light and Oz realizes with something like fear that sex has never been quite this *real* before.

Beyond pleasure and intensity to just this link between them, the knowledge that if he just let go he could be swallowed entirely in Nate's
consciousness. The thought makes him brutal, the brutality makes him shift, twisting and creaking under the skin and



*please Oz YES*

Nate's orgasm makes him scream, lose all rhythm, dig his claws into the
mattress and tear and fuck and come yelling, battering his way inside until
he can collapse.

In his head there's both the sheer, blank pleasure of that body clamped
around the tip of his cock, and the sensation of the swell of that tip
inside Nate.  Still hard in spite of having come, and he's in half-animal
form.  Occasionally twisting his hips to milk the last pleasure out of it.
One more deep push before he softens, and he doesn't so much pull out as settle closer.

Rubs Nate's shoulders and the back of his neck.  He's close to sobbing,
fucked raw and shaking from orgasm and radiating something between
relaxation and blind pleasure.  Once Oz slips out, Nate rolls over and
clamps his arms around Oz's neck.  Kisses him long and slowly, with the
clear intention of doing this all night, or at least until they both fall

And snuggles in beside him just before they do.

Except that Oz's sleep is a mess, knotted with dreams and broken into short stretches, so that he wakes between them.  Curls tighter around Nate and smells his hair.  Clean body and sweat and warmth and the warmth of the room like a den or a kids' fort around them.  Holding that way in spite of Nate's obliviousness, and he's led to wonder, again, exactly how powerful this being is.  And why under heaven he should have decided to want Oz.

In spite of the safety and gift of this place, it feels vaguely unfair. That he can't get up tomorrow and make waffles and come back to bed and feed them to Nate bite by sticky bite.  That they can't get dressed after in each other's clothes and go hang in Oz's club of choice, abandoned in the early afternoon except for a few musicians and a big dance floor on which they could tangle around each other.

Though there's a small voice in his head that suggests he might be thinking too small. Not in terms of what to do with an extremely powerful teenaged boy trapped in a body that gives Oz nothing but happily pornographic images of Giles -- this has been, after all, the kind of sex that people go blind for. It's just that... whatever. It feels churlish to be suddenly living Michael Moorcock's wet dreams and still be pissed about the lack of waffles.

If he were to wake Nate up and ask for waffles, Nate would probably present him with the alpha and omega of waffledom, no questions asked. A solid gold waffle. A jeweled waffle. The Waffle of Argon. Something.

Oz nuzzles against Nate's throat and wonders how many of his thoughts are leaking through the link into Nate's dreams. Whether he'll wake up with a vast, God-like craving for waffles to match his vast, God-like erection. Well, respectably-sized erection. 

Oz doesn't think sleep deprivation is doing him any good, mentally.

Though it can't be much worse than the years he knows he'll be spending
helplessly musing on the nature of reality. He wonders how Nate deals with it. If he does.

Wonders if he's trapped here, or if Nate would let him go back to his own
reality if he asked. Definitely a frightening thought in there, but
eventually Oz sleeps anyway.

Wakes up later, tangled up in the sheets and miserably out of physical
contact.  He has a pillow held against his stomach and his head on his arm. Stiff.  Stretches without sitting up first and looks around for Nate.

The room's the same small shell of a place, but it's cooler, like they left
the windows open and the temperature dropped in the night.  Little prickles on his skin.  And Nate's there, sitting cross-legged at the foot of the bed, looking more like the boy version of himself.  Not entirely.  There are a few scars showing, and the brand's thinly visibly on his chest, but the face is softer.  The smile Oz gets from him is unbelievably sweet, the kind that lays his face open and makes you want to meet the rest of his family just to see if they look like that, too.

"Trust me, you don't."


"You don't want to meet my family."

"Okay."  Oz tries to shrug, but he's not in the best position to do it.  Sits
up and pulls the sheet across his lap, a bit tentatively.  Watches Nate.

Nate holds out a bowl.


Hmm.  So, not waffles.  He tries to decide whether he's disappointed.
Whether what he'd really like to do is sneak off and raid the nearest source
of food so he could return like a triumphant hunter-gatherer.

The raspberries are vaguely warm, the kind of solar warmth he can just
barely remember.  Somebody's yard when he was a kid, both of them crouching out of the sun with a huge plastic bowl of them and he's surprised because this really is what he wanted, more or less.

Nate pushes up and knee-walks over to sit beside him, a little behind.
Wraps his arms around Oz's waist and gives him a quick hug.  Licks a
particularly bright path along one tendon in his neck.

*show me the club*

He thinks he can....  It takes a minute to summon the right details. It's a
bar, more or less, but they don't card people in the afternoons.  Scarred
linoleum floor, small stage, piles of stackable chairs in the corner.
Long-haired hippy-woman sitting in overalls in the corner, relishing
middle-age and her own flower-childness and trying to convince Oz to get up and sing.  Tables pushed to the side.  Oz with his arms wrapped around Nate's waist and his face pressed into the side of his neck, half
slow-dancing in the middle of the room.  Somehow lit in spite of the nearly black-out windows.  Light spilling in from the propped-open door.

Something like a kiss in the middle of that.

And then opens his eyes to find himself still in the room.

*Well, I thought you'd want to put clothes on, first...*

Nate's grinning at him openly now, and Oz knows he at least considered
taking Oz there, wherever there would turn out to be, stark naked. He takes a moment to look around for his clothes before realizing that he didn't actually have any when he got here. When he turns to Nate again there's an extraordinarily beat up black t-shirt with Hard Core Logo in red print -- complete with A is for Anarchy art -- and a pair of old, faded jeans between them.

Also, a box in the corner filled with even more clothes.

It's a relief when everything's slightly too big, but it's also kind of

*Who do these belong to?*

Nate's grin slips a little. *No one who'll miss them, I promise.*

Oz looks at him for a while, then decides it's on the list of things he doesn't need to know.  Goes rummaging through the boxes until he finds a white t-shirt and other jeans that he likes.  Turns and sees Nate in the clothes that were on the bed, and a duster that looks like Nate might wear
it even in a California summer.  Fully clothed and slightly hunched forward, watching Oz stand there naked with clothes in his hands.

*am I going to find underwear in here if I look?*


Oz gives him a long look that he knows says several important things on the subject of perversion and how it mixes with lots of things, but not with breakfast.  At the end of which there are plaid flannel boxers on top of a pair of jeans held together with safety pins.

And he's going to get dressed in just a second, but he doesn't think he'll
get this chance again for a while.  Walks over and drops the clothes on the
bed and kisses Nate, both hands tangled in his hair, licking the inside of
his mouth and pressing the length of his naked body against Nate's clothes. And keeps kissing until he *knows* Nate's hard, until he can feel it against his stomach, pushing the fly of those butter-soft jeans out.  Snakes a hand down and rubs the heel of it across the buttons.

And then lets go, steps out of reach, and gets dressed.

He can see Nate swaying a little out of the corner of his eye and hides a
smile. And then they're walking out the sudden door and into dimness.
Sawdust on the floor. Nina Simone on a jukebox that, to Oz, has its own
gravitational pull.

Late afternoon sunlight through the door and from high above their heads. It's a converted barn.

In a corner behind the bar Oz can *see* the cheerfully defiant aging hippie
before his actual vision kicks in and reveals a dark-skinned woman in a
sprung old armchair. Brightly colored scarf around her hair and tough-looking bare feet and a wide, wide smile.

"Well, you boys are a long way out from the city. What can I get you?"

Nate gives the woman one of his wide-open smiles. "Nothing right now,
thanks. We just wanted to dance."

The woman settles back into the chair with a chuckle. "I do like a boy who  knows when a woman's just being polite. You go on ahead, then. Won't start getting crowded here until well after sunset..." Looks them both over
thoroughly. "Though I suspect you already know *that*."

And Nina flows into Otis into Billie into Koko and so on and so on and they dance together, slowly, not talking. Just a low, present hum of being
between them, and the scent of someplace country outside the door.

And Oz hasn't been this... something, not in a long time.  Two days ago, his world was the size of a cinderblock and plexiglass cage, and all the things he can't quite remember.  When Nate found him, he couldn't quite stand up. Just crouched in the corner and staring. 

He remembers arms wrapping around him, and something -- Nate's coat, the one that's lying over the back of a chair now -- blanketed him, and then the world had shifted.  Some kind of intermediate space where Nate curled up beside him and rubbed his forehead and shoulders gently until he stopped shaking and wanting to throw up.  Kept rubbing the back of his neck until there was some kind of wall between Oz-the-person and Oz-the-Initiative-subject.  Kissed him where his neck and shoulders met.

Just that first night, pulling himself loose from misery.  And met Nate for
the first time, really, when he woke up.

Somehow impossible to have gone from that to this.  Except that Nate's just gently pressed against him, happily engaged in this not-quite-dance and kissing him on the temple, occasionally.

Oz isn't entirely convinced of the reality of the world around them, though. Something too easy about it.  Accepting as though they weren't both ragged and messy and male and kissing.  Nate's hands migrate every few minutes from his lower back to his ass and back again.  Measuring the small curve of him. Bends and licks the side of his mouth.

And on and on until Mary Chapin becomes Brian Ferry doing Lorenz & Hart, low, sweet growls of it pouring onto the floor, and Oz steps back.

He slides away from Nate before the man -- boy?  man? -- can grab him, and convinces the woman to sell him a beer without identification.  Goes and sits on three of the chairs, legs stretched out across the seats, and
watches Nate watching him from the middle of the dancefloor.

Thinking about how, even though Nate had said he wasn't a god, everything around him warped and became what he wanted.  Fucked and wonderful, but Oz wonders how honest it is.  Wonders what that much power could do to him.  Change him.  Give him the control he needs, or make him not-Oz, or pull him down into some world where his own perceptions can drive him quietly insane.  And the fact that it would probably be an accident wouldn't mean anything to him at that point.

*I won't*

Nate crouched at his feet, coat spreading onto the floor.

*Oz, I need you to trust me*

And it's cruel, but *you make it hard*

No doors, no movement, but the barstool is a bed again, with a quilt, and
the room is a room, and the window looks out on --

*Oz, don't --*

*Right, sorry.*

*It's okay.*

Nate is cross-legged at Oz's feet, head resting on his fists. Oz can feel
him thinking, and can feel Nate pushing back at him somehow. Not in a
rejection so much as a gesture for patience.

Oz waits, tucks one long strand of hair behind Nate's ear, or tries to.
Nate's hair is short when he takes a second look.

*The bar was real, Oz.*

*Were we really there?*

*Yes. No. Not... we were in that bar in several different realities. The
woman is real.*


*She thought you were a girl.*


*I'm sorry*


*She said 'boys'.*

*She said 'folks.'  You heard 'boys'.*

*You did that.*



*I'm not sorry*

*Messing with people's heads...*

*I wanted you to be happy.*

*Messing with my head.*

*Reality is fucked on a lot of levels.  I survive by living between them.*

And Oz remembers "don't be afraid," and yeah, right about now he's starting to get that. It isn't the philosophy so much as how *sure* Nate is about the philosophy. Staring calmly up at Oz and waiting for him to get it.

*You're not me.*

Feels himself being searched, thoroughly. Rifled through and *studied*, and the only thing that shows on Nate's face is confusion.

*You lived on a Hellmouth and you want *reality*? Are you sure I'm the
fucked up kid in the room?*

*I'm not even sure this is a *room*.*

*It is*

*Thing is, I kind of don't believe you.*

*What if I took us somewhere else?*

*Might help.*

Twist of the world.  California coast.  Surreal.  Oz shakes his head.
Mexico.  Houston.  Seattle.  Katmandu.  Lhasa.  Beijing.

Glossy road and the gate of someone's walled estate.  Very green.  There are huge trees and old mailboxes and the high atmosphere has a thin pollution haze blocking it.

*I don't know where this is.*

"Westchester County, New York."

*What's here?*

Nate looks at him for a minute, then shrugs.  "Nothing."

He goes to move them, but Oz holds onto this particular reality as tightly
as he can.

*No.  What's here?*

*Nothing good for your sense of reality.  Even by Hellmouth standards.*

Oz turns.  He can just see something with too many bones that are all far
too visible, lurking in the bush.  Glitter of bloody teeth.

*Actually, I think this isn't something you'd invent.*

*Fuck you.*

And Nate walks a few steps toward the house and then just... disappears. Or rather walks into something like a door-shaped blade of reality that spins all the way around before settling itself back into place. Disappearing would be better.

The bony thing is still in the bushes. Watching him.

And then it's standing up and becoming a very tall woman with magenta hair and not much clothing. And bones, everywhere.


A brief look of surprise and then the woman nods. "Hey. I'm Marrow."


Silence. Marrow seems to be waiting for something, but Oz has no idea what it might be.

"Do you need a hospital?"

"Nah, they haven't pierced anything important today."



More silence. The wind shifts and brings the woman's scent, which isn't at
all demon-like. Just human, and bloody.

"So. What kind of mutant are you?"

"That's kind of a personal question, don't you think?"

Marrow shrugs, nods back toward the house. "Well, you're here and you don't seem out to destroy anything. Seemed like a good question to ask. Are you human?"


She nods. "You wanna come back to the house, meet the Prof, get the tour,
blah blah?"


And follows her.  Tries to decide whether he loves the way she moves.  She's huge.  Six feet of raw, bloody, bony female.  Watches her hips and lets his senses open far enough to be able to tell what's coming.

Halfway up the drive, his knees give, and he ends up crouched and retching onto the perfectly cut grass.  Curled over his knees.  Shaking.  The
ice-white of the Initiative suddenly hitting him and he remembers the cattle prods and the needles and the white coats white walls -- and he thinks that it might be a good idea to burrow down somewhere dark and stay there for about a hundred years.  Like Nate never touched him at all.

Marrow asks him something, and leaves when he doesn't answer.  He peels off his shirt and rolls up fetal with his arms around his knees and tries to get to someplace where he can stand still long enough to sort his head out. Very close to meditational stillness when he's touched.

*Shh.  It's going to be alright.*


*I know.  Give me a moment and I'll put some walls up for you.*  Whispering touch in his head, more and less intrusive than Nate's, and suddenly he can breathe again.  Sits up and reaches for his shirt.

Red, again, but nothing like Willow.  Tall and somebody's fantasy of
voluptuous, long red hair and hands like a perfect mother.  Like the woman from some 50s fantasy of mate-and-mother.  Still reaching out to check his forehead and refusing to let him flinch away.

"Is it going to be alright?"

"He, Marrow."

"Whatever.  Is it?"

"I'm good," Oz says, and gets up.

Looks up into Mother Goddess' eyes and reads something like rueful amusement under the concern. "We'd been wondering where Nate got to. I'm Jean."

"Oz. He left."

"And left you here. Nate has... an odd sense of humor sometimes. Do you know where he went? I can't feel him anymore..."

"I don't think he's still in this reality, actually."

"He brought you from another reality and *left* you here?"

Oz can't say for sure, but it looks as though there's someone flying in the
distance. "Well, this could still be my reality. Theoretically. I think I
need to lay down."

Jean nods.  "Marrow, can you bring him?"

"If it gets shredded, Red, remember that you asked."


Which merits a dirty look and a soft curse, but nothing else.  Marrow offers him a relatively intact arm and half-drags him into the house.  Drops him onto a couch somewhere indoors.  Somewhere.  The house is huge, like something built through an optical illusion.  Luxurious outside, infinite inside, with the implied possibility that an entire city could live in it and still have the privacy to perform random sex acts in the hallways.

And in spite of everything, he does sleep.  Curls up and dozes, drifts,
feeds his nose and ears off the human clutter of the building, and wakes far too alert.  Goes looking for Jean.

She's in the kitchen, half-cooking, half staring out the window.  Turns when he steps in and shoots him the most amazing smile he's seen in... hours. And he gets it.

"You're Nate's family?"

She quirks a red eyebrow.  "After a fashion.  No one gets to be a Summers
without needing a flow chart."

"I thought he was a Grey."

"He's still a Summers.  I'm Jean Grey.  How he ended up with my name instead of Scott's...  Twisted universe, I suppose."

Something in the distance explodes.  She doesn't blink.

"I woke up, right?"

She cocks her head.

"I told Nate this was too weird for him to have made it up."  Nodding at the world all around.

"That sounds about right."  She pauses, then steps over and runs careful
hands over his arms and torso.  "Are you hurt?"

"Should I be?"

"With Nate..."  She doesn't finish the sentence.  Up close, she smells both
smoky and familiar, and he's starting to wonder.  She's not old enough,
though.  His sister, maybe, or a cousin.

"Um, nothing personal, but I need to find Nate."

She looks at him for a long while.  "He lives in New York.  Maybe we should send you home, though."

Something blue and furry and eight feet tall dashes past the window,
clutching a football to its chest.

"I don't think this is where my home is."  He thinks about Willow.  Her body very straight, sitting up naked in bed, talking to him and tracing out
patterns on his skin.  "Do you have peas?"

"Alright, strange question.  I think we might have a few frozen ones.
X-Force uses them for ice packs."

"Do you have shrimp?"

"I could go to the store for some.  Is it important?"

"What day is it?"


Oz nods, vaguely, locked into not laughing at the look on her face. "OK.  That's all I needed to know.  Thanks for the ... uh, couch."

"You're... welcome, of course. Hmm... there's no one here at the moment who can move between dimensions, but I think we can find someone who can help."

"That would be nice."

"In the meantime, why don't we find you someplace to sleep..." An impish smile this time, exactly like the one Nate had given him when underwear had suddenly appeared. "There's a lot of us here, but we don't generally just drop guests on couches."

And this is where Oz usually makes noises about getting back on the road, but the van isn't even in this universe, or if it is, it's being driven
around by some other Oz, or maybe not an Oz at all, maybe a Daniel Osbourne that stayed Danny his entire life, or even Daniel, and Oz fixes his gaze on the floor. The tile remains steady.

When he looks up, Jean is still giving him odd looks, and, there are no
sneaking little detail changes. The football flies past the window again.
The perfectly normal window which looks out at one and only one dimension.

Not his dimension, but it's a start.

"So does Nate do this often?"

"No.  This is new."

"Then how did you--"

"I knew he was there.  And he left his fingerprints in your head."

Which isn't a reassuring image at all.  Oz looks harder at the floor until
the vibrations start.  People go thundering past the window like a herd of
demented turkeys.  One of the men has a noticeable tail.  One of the women has oddly natural-looking green hair.

Oz straightens and finds himself looking into a pair of very blue eyes.
Shock of recognition, self/other/packmate, all hard-wired into the wolf part of his brain.  Fiftyish, male, stocky and short and more or less a walking mat of body hair.  Small, quiet sniffs that suggest his nose is at least as good as Oz's.

"Nathan bringing home new team members?" he asks Jean.  Steps behind her and finds a beer in the fridge.  Drinks and then offers it to Jean.  Who
accepts, drinks from the bottle carefully, and hands it back.  And gets a
careful nod in return, one that Oz can't interpret. The man sits down and returns to staring at Oz.

"If you can believe it, no.  He's Nate's."

"Hell, I was warm.  They smell the same."

"Who smells the same?"

Wrong voice, right smell.  Right feel.  Every hair on Oz's body stands up
even before he turns.  "Nate?"

Growl.  Alpha, radiating on enough levels to knock Oz onto his knees.  Pack leader, bastard, and he smells like *Nate*.  Vividly.  Only forty years
older and white-haired and.  Metal.  His father, maybe.  Maybe grandfather. But so vividly *him* that Oz can't even bring himself to stand. 

Still on his knees while he looks up.  More up.  Instinctive need to bare
his throat and belly before this one, if only he'd stop smelling like Nate.

"It's alright Oz.  This is Nathan.  He's.  Nate told you the family was


"Alright, he's Nate.  The one from our world.  The Nate you know is from a different earth, like you are.  Only yours still exists, and his doesn't."

"Who is he?"  Whispered.

"He's my son, and my husband Scott's.  In another universe, in another
timeline.  We didn't raise him, but he's welcome whenever he visits."

Huge, heavy fingers lace into his hair.  Reading him.  Clumsier than Nate,
more familiar than Jean.  "He left you."  Rumbled.


Massive sigh.  The hand comes down, spreads into an offer, and Oz can wrap both of his around it while he stands up.  Face to chest with what must be nearly seven feet of flesh and muscle and a face hauntingly Nate's.

Too many worlds.  This one starts to spin.

Through the haze in his brain, "Professor, two to bodyslide.  Manhattan."

And, hey, it's Manhattan. Just outside the broad window of an apartment that gives new meaning to the word Spartan. Or maybe not so much an apartment as a place to store large amounts of futuristic technology. And weapons the size of Oz's body.

"So, you're..."

"Nathan. And you're Oz. Have a seat, I'm gonna try to send you back home."

"I think I need to have a long conversation with. Nate."

The... cyborg snorts. "Conversation. I'm going to lock that boy in the
Danger Room for a month. How'd you wind up with him, anyway? You're not a mutant. You... a *werewolf*? I'll be damned..."

"It's not as odd where I come from."

"Witches and warlocks, too, I bet."

"Among other things."

A noncommittal grunt and. Nathan. He's *Nate* and he's also this
incredibly large cyborg and he's also plugging himself into various bits of machinery in painful-looking ways. 



"My brother. How'd you two get together?"

"He rescued me from a government lab."

Another grunt. "Nice to know that some things never change."

Oz cocks his head.

"Happens here a lot.  Mutants and labs."

"Oh.  Okay."

Nathan plays with the controls for a while.  Oz sits on the bed.  Kicks off his shoes and works on meditating.  Something more still than his life at the moment.  Silver-white, the purity of the places he learned in Tibet.  In a monastery that was almost a ruin, led by a Lama who was born a brother to the Dalai Lama.  Silver stillness and the luminous joy of it.  And surfaces, more centred than he was.

Nathan's looking at him.  "That's quite something."

"You guys in my *head.*"

"You think loud thoughts."  Nathan. Looking like an escaped anime lord, merged with his ship, more wiring than human.  "I think I can jump you.  It won't be as accurate as Nate is, but we're not actually going to another earth, so we should be alright."

"You lost me."

"Nate likes to hide between dimensions.  Or in the Astral Plane, but it's too easy for us to find him there, and he knows it."  One silver hand extends.  Closes over Oz's wrist.

Pulls him through.

Into the kitchen.  Most disturbing.  Or, maybe precisely not-disturbing.
It's a very ordinary kitchen.  Looks a bit like it belongs in a chicken
noodle soup ad, but otherwise fine.  There's a few pairs of sandals by the back door, and outside it's raining.  Not hard, but he can't see anything
beyond the rain.  The door that looks like it should lead to a hallway and bathroom keeps shifting when he looks at it hard.

Nathan's crouched beside him.  He's pale, but they're both intact and the
machinery's gone.

And Oz only has to sniff, really.  And then follow his nose, through a tangle of hallways that skew off each other like random mathematics, until he gets to a door.  He feels a bit like Alice about to drink from the "drink me" bottle.  Opens the door.

Nate's there, and young again, which sort of fits.  It's the same bed.  The room's a bit bigger, and the window's quite a bit more stable.  He's kicked his shoes and coat off, but the rest of his clothes are still rucked up around him. The boxes of clothes are all stacked in the corner.

"You know, if I was a little less weirded-out, I'd be pretty pissed."

Nate's mouth twists, but he remains silent.

*Talk or take me home, man, but if I have to go on any more trips through
the looking glass, I want some drugs first."

Nate reaches into the nothing and pulls out a bag filled with what looks to
be several hundred dollars worth of 'shrooms, neatly, plastically, pre-packaged in dose size.

*You can't tell me nobody is gonna miss that.*

*She already has. It's been lost in the woods for years. Only not.*

*I don't want you playing in my head.*

*I just wanted you to have fun with me.*

*I thought we were doing okay with that, but now I don't know if it was me or you just... *making* me have fun.*

The look of shock on Nate's face is comforting. *I wouldn't do that!*

*How am I supposed to know that? Everything here changes whenever you want it to. I thought we were going to the real world, *a* real world... I just. Need a little stability.*

And Oz just loses it. Head thrown back and laughing, some of it even escaping past his closed throat in disturbing little wheezes that sound just about perfect for the situation.

A part of him is aware of Nate pulling him close, of probing whispers and a sense of worry, but *that* feels right, too. Someone, somewhere, should be worried. There's a line here -- one of those essential, do-not-cross lines -- and he's not sure that they aren't on the wrong side of it.

He's disoriented.  More than a little scared.  And they're now in a place that doesn't exist, and he's getting his forehead kissed by some kind of small god.  Soft lips on his temples and the two lines he's developed in his forehead in the last couple of years.  And he's pulled in to sit crosswise in Nate's lap, cuddled while he shakes with laughter.

*I'm sorry.*


*I'm sorry.  I pushed you pretty hard.  We should have just.  I don't know.  Made waffles like you wanted.*  Pause.  *I don't know how to make waffles.*

*I'm the *god* of waffles.*

Nate kisses him.  Just gently.  *Okay*  And rolls him down.  Kisses him hard.

Oz pushes him off.  In spite of the ache in him.  In spite of Nate's almost entirely good smell.  The softness of his hair against Oz's neck.  The huge hurt in Nate while he rocks back onto his heels.  Oz keeps hold of Nate's wrist.

*No more messing with my head.*


"No.  Promise me."

Pause.  Nate closes his eyes, stays there like he's been carved out of some flesh-coloured metamorphic stone.  Breathes deeply.  "I promise.  I won't mess with your head. Or at least not without telling you I'm doing it."

*Good enough*

Oz kisses the heel of Nate's hand and pulls him down.

Just wraps himself around him for a slow moment that lasts only until their hips line up right, and then the missing component of Nate's good smell kicks in. Need. 

The perfect rush to ego and cock, like suddenly Oz is the god here, the sex god, and it feels like a vaguely Xanderish thought, and Oz has a moment to idly picture Xander straddling him, devouring him, before Nate growls and everything is just right. 

One of those perfect sex-times when everybody present is working toward the same goal, rolling on the floor and thrusting against each other and Nate licking and biting Oz's throat. Banishes every other thought away. Nate's hands wrapped around his wrists, holding him down and Nate's feeding on him, pushing Oz's t-shirt up out of the way and sucking hard on a nipple until it spikes, thorns.

Electric rush right to his cock, good but not good enough and Oz holds him there, half-thinks *harder* and gets it in a sudden rush of white hot pain and the sense that his chest is suddenly too wet for it to just be spit, sweat. 

*Fuck* yes, shakes loose and buries his hands in Nate's hair

*like it long*


and tugs, cards it through his fingers and


*just wait*

hot slick tongue over his chest, over the hurt and down, diving into his belly button and Oz arches and laughs, rubs his thumb over the ticklish spot behind Nate's ear and gets his fingers bitten and sucked. Nate's cock pressing against Oz's leg and dull, hard teeth in the skin of his belly.

Like fire, exactly like the fire in his dreams, after all the fur's burned away and Oz is left naked, watched and owned by unseen eyes. Fingers between the waistband of his jeans and skin, and Oz tries to still, make it easier, but Nate doesn't need his help. Boxers gone, too, and when Oz opens his eyes, Nate is there. Watching him. Silent across the link, but somehow bleeding himself into the world, anyway. 

Oz can feel him, all over, and wonders if this is part of Nate's power. He *didn't* say anything about fucking with his body. 

Nate smirking, taking hold and stroking him a little too hard, a little too tight in a mostly dry hand, leaving it up to Oz to make the slick and everything, everything is telling him to give up, let go, just *be* like the world's most predatory hippie.

*I've got you*

Fingers rubbing just under the head of his cock, jacking up the nerves and 
he doesn't quite scream, but there's this hysterical edge to the breath he 
lets loose.  Oozing sticky and slick onto Nate's fingers, loving the slide of that hand more with each jerk along him.  All of him in his cock, where a second ago he was huge, spread out over his entire skin and most of the 

If he can just crack his eyes open...  Blue-silver of Nate watching him,
waiting for something.

*I trust you*

That, apparently.  There's a kind of whole-body kiss that runs over him in 
answer.  The grip sweetens, just a bit.  And Nate leans and whispers soft, 
obscene things to him while waking up his entire body.

Then lets go.  Oz moans loudly, bucks his hips in protest.  Or tries. 
Nate's holding him down, palms on his hipbones, like they could spread him open.  Not the spread there would be on a woman, but there.  Just carefully framing his cock.

Nate bends in.  Kisses the shaft carefully.  And then hooks one of Oz's legs 
over his shoulder and goes to work on his thigh.  Kissing and biting and 
licking, working up towards his body.  Kissing his balls and massaging them softly.  Right at the edge of what he can take, and Nate pushes his legs apart, bites him fiercely right *there*, as high on the leg as he can go, 
close enough to the sac that Oz shivers, whimpers, wanting him to stop and wanting him to do it again.

Forefinger rubbing him.

*I'd love to kiss you here.*

*I want a bath first.  Like, seriously.*

Sends the image of both of them in a very serious bathtub.  Nate's thighs
outside his, both of them groping each other and kissing over Oz's shoulder. 

Fingers in him, rubbing him.  And making love wet and naked after, Oz 
sprawled across towels on the bed while Nate rims him.

*We can do that... not just in your mind*


*Just wait a sec... ha!*

And Oz is on his back in a huge, blue tub. Water running, only just high
enough to get the back of his ears wet. He jumps a little from the shock, 
but Nate's still straddling him, grinning smugly and throwing a pink scrub 
thingy at his face.

*Where --*

"Nate, why are you in my bathroom?"

Jean's voice, Jean's smell on the loofa --

*Don't worry, I locked the door*

And then the water's high enough that Oz has to sit up, take a look around.  Shocked out of his immediate arousal for the moment, and laughing helplessly.

*You know, this could be considered kinky, Nate.*

*Do you mind?*


Pulls Nate into a long, slow kiss, shifting enough for fangs, for the
strangeness of new skin against his cock, for the rake of his claws over 
Nate's back hard enough to make them both shudder and moan. Loud off the tiles and shimmering in the hot water.

Nate pushes him back gently and works Jean's bar of soap directly against
Oz's skin, following with his other hand to work up a lather. Oz sits back 
and lets himself be washed, pushing up a little out of the water when Nate 
wraps his fist around Oz's cock again, slick and shuddery-wet. Turns and 
balances on his knees when Nate asks, feeling the air solidify around him to hold him in place, protect his knees.

*I don't really want to taste soap*

*it's nice soap*

Earns a finger, deep inside and just this side of vicious and Oz lets his
head fall back, cries out when the water does something distinctly odd and 
tries not to notice that he's levitating while Nate licks him.

Tongue on him.  Just the tip of it, prehensile as a finger and as curious. 
Not just tasting but feeling him.  And he grabs for the edge of the tub. 
Needs to brace himself and it isn't *there*, it isn't *there*...

*Oz can I*


And he can catch the rim of it.  Reality of the object he's holding somehow 
less important than the fact that it's there.  And he's sure, somehow, that 
this is still Jean Grey's bathroom, if only because Nate's particular and 
perverse sense of humour needs it to be.  More a question that *he*, for a 
second, shifted out of reality, and he's just now getting himself back.


Tongue and finger together, in him and outside, both rubbing, and he's going to be making a lot of noise in a second.  Not good.  Or, well, really good, but everyone in the house is going to hear him, and it's probably not how they were expecting their afternoon to go.  Naked man in the bathtub getting tonguefucked by the prodigal son.

*They've had weirder, trust me.*

There's a hand between his legs, cupping his balls and rubbing the root of 
his cock.  Lower than the mouth, more direct.  He wishes, some part of him wishes, that Nate would just get *on* with it.  Tongue him and make him scream and scare the daylights out of what he suspects is a fairly 
sweet-natured, if bizarre, houseful of people.

Nate hooks the finger inside him, just right, and while Oz is busy trying
not to yell, pushes his tongue in.

Which is just *way* too good.  Slick and soft and warm and all *over* inside him.  Wetting every nerve ending in his body.  Just a threat of teeth around the tongue, and then Nate makes good on the second half and *fucks* him with it.  Hard.

Oz is howling.  Shocked at himself but he can't stop.  *Can't*.  Not like
this.  Nate's fingers on his cock and that tongue on his ass and some vague, handless but utterly Nate touch stroking his nipples.  Twisting a scream out of him with a carefully placed pinch.  Louder and fiercer, all of the *yes fuck me* he can articulate, and fuck whoever hears it.  Really.  He isn't giving this up.  Not for them or anything and if Jean Grey decides to kick the door in she can just fucking *watch* while Nate rims him.

The tongue jerks out, two fingers go in, mouth on his sac, sucking hard and it almost *hurts*, almost frightening, tying his stomach in knots that won't quite let him come and won't let him come down either.  *Rub* from inside, snapping his eyes open and he's yelling again.  More.  More words.  Utterly not like him but good *god*.  Nothing in his whole life to compare with this.  Not the best, sweetest sex or the dirtiest fuck he can remember.

Arm around his belly.  Real and solid flesh, pulling him up so that he's
bent over the edge of the tub, towel underneath him, hands braced on
something that might be a pile of magazines.  Nate pushes his ass wider
apart and dives in, makes him breathless and scared and desperate for it,
everything in him aching and utterly aware of the hole in him and wanting
Nate to *do* something about it, fill it, touch it.  *Anything.*

*god you sound so *good* Oz making me hard*

*fuck me*

*no problem*

Pulling back from him, just his fingers inside now, but they're moving and 
Oz can't seem to catch a breath without panting, moaning it out. Movement out the corner of his eye, and he turns just in time to see the Amazing Flying Tube of K-Y land in Nate's hand, but can't even laugh anymore --

*shh shh, Oz, I just need to*

*inside me Nate *please**

Rush of feeling like hands all over his body, pinching and touching and
caressing and Oz is thrusting now against the towel and Nate's slicking
stretching *opening* him and Oz pushes back, knows he's begging for it and doesn't care.

It feels too good, the day has been too weird, and Nate pushing into him is the realest thing he's ever felt. Solid, hot, and *thick* inside him, just a little too big to move that fast. Just enough pain to make something give out inside him, make it necessary to find the rhythm and force it faster, harder, mouth open and sobbing Nate's name.

What he needed.  Rough and grounded and fiercely affectionate, taking him and hurting him and pulling him up.  Arm around his waist and Nate's braced, somehow, and bending over him.  *Slamming* into him, slower, harder rhythm than it was a minute ago.  Pushing him up.  Ache in his belly and cock, mouth between his shoulder blades, sucking all the blood in his body to the surface.  Bruising.  Teeth grazing him.  Something between animal and vividly human.

And back, onto his knees and onto Nate's lap.  Both arms around his waist
now, water lapping at his thighs and water all over the floor and *fucking* 
him.  Sucking on his neck and driving into him and pulling him into just the right angle to get the full effect of that slide.

It never stops hurting, not completely, but he's begging for it.  Still the 
same breathless howl.  Someone's going to break in any second and try
heroically to save him.  Teeth on the veins in his throat.  Hand on his cock 
rough and demanding and very soft, warm whispers in his ear, things that 
almost sound like *love*, that he lets slide because he's already *right* on 
the edge.

And he can *feel* Nate come.  Slick inside him, and this small convulsion of reality.  Reminds him, manically, of the old theory about the impossibility of Superman and Lois Lane having sex.  *Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex*, and what is he, Oz, exactly, other than desperately hard in the lap of someone whose orgasm is making all the colours of the universe bleed into the corners of his eyes?

Just a second of that, and then Nate's soft, "Sorry."  For the bleed.  For 
coming first.  Pulls Oz back against his shoulder and kisses him.  Jerks him 
off, shifting his hips occasionally to get the most out of the last moments 
of his erection.  And manages to make Oz howl one more time before he spurts all over Nate's hand, sobs, and just slides off him, boneless.

Warm universe of water and air and Nate holding him.  Standing up,
eventually, and leaning Oz against the tub's rim, coming back with towels. 
Gets him out of the tub and dries him, wraps him in a bath sheet and marches him out of the bathroom.  Onto the bed.  Curls up beside him and kisses his face, softly.

Kisses him for a long time.  Long, slow after-sex make-out session, and Oz 
wonders whether they should have done this first.  Whether maybe they should always do this, devote some serious hours to kissing and petting.  Warm room and late sunshine and Nate against him and soft, rumpled blankets.  All of the smells familiar.

*Uh, Nate, is this Jean's bed?*

Long, wet kiss.


*And you feel you can make out with strange boys in her bed why?*

Lick, kiss, suck on his lip.  Long tangle of their tongues in Nate's mouth, 
then his.  Nate gently rubs his belly.

*She's my mother.  I think it's obligatory.*

Oz manages to pull back.  *Sicko.*

Nate cocks an eyebrow.

*You're telling me you never did it in your parents' bed?*

*We didn't *plan* it that way.*


*Your mom's going to want to sleep eventually.*

*We'll make room.*

*Has anyone ever discussed Greek tragedy with you?*

Definitely the first telepathic long, suffering sigh Oz has ever received, and he kisses it away before pulling back decisively.  Stubborn as he can look, making it clear that they're *not* going to do this here.

*Alright, alright. We'll do it your way...*  Irritated tone, but Nate smells a little pleased, too.

Oz shuffles through a list of possible beds before he remembers the perfect one.



Arterial red.


Surrounded by equally massive, equally round, equally red walls.

*Oz, *ew* --*

Walls covered with artificial fur.

*This is hurting my mind, Oz*

*Not registering high on your cuddle scale, hunh?*

*No, but it's doing well for Satanic worship.*

*I think it's too early in the relationship for that.*

*What, third date? Fourth? Before or after we have sex in *your* Mom's bed?*

Oz whacks Nate with a pillow, but doesn't manage to keep the image of his parents' bedroom out of his head.  And suddenly they're *there*, or in that half-there where he can see ghostly imprints of his parents *having sex* --


And then they *are* there. Landing on them. Nate rolls off and hits the
floor, but Oz isn't so lucky.


"Dad. Mom. None of this ever happened. None of us are naked. We're leaving now. This is Nate."

Nate waves. They leave.

Quilt. Bed. No parents. This is a good start.  Nate, spread out over the
quilt, laughing so hard he's writhing, is another good start.

Oz says, "Bastard."

Nate laughs at him.

"I can't even think of anything to do to you, since we've already proven that you have no shame."

Nate starts to quiver.  He's almost glittering he's laughing so hard.  Oz
resists the urge to change to wolf form, leap on him, and commit acts that 
are illegal in most Western countries.  Or just lick him all over.  Finds 
his jeans instead and reaches for the doorknob, praying to some deity or 
other that it's real.

It is.  The hallway that it opens onto is convoluted but startlingly normal-looking, and he can see the mystic kitchen of soup-ads at the other end.  Walks down it and finds Cable reading a book and drinking coffee that 
smells strong enough to strip chrome.

"You're red," Cable says.  It's not a question, just an observation.

"You're still here."

Cable manages to look uncomfortable.  "I'm not entirely sure where we are.  Until Nate explains it to me, I don't think I can leave."

"And yet you brought me here."

"That was hard enough."  He looks Oz over.  Gets up, moving like a small
tank held together with packing string, and pours him a cup of coffee.  Oz 
takes it and goes to the window.

It's not the fragmented reality-state he's learned fairly handily to fear.  It's just.  Nothing.  A mess.  What existed before God created light.  Thirty non-existent seconds before the Big Bang.

Cable says, "Sit down."

Military voice.  It's an order, and it's probably backed up with some kind 
of psychic punch, because Oz's knees give before he has time to seriously 
think about it.  Holds the coffee between his knees and stares into its 
depths.  Thinks about the diner on the edge of Sunnydale where he and Devon used to go for coffee on the mornings after shows.  After the nights they didn't go home, too wired or too exhausted.  Stayed up and stayed out and sat in the van and argued and listened to each other and by the time they hit coffee-time in the morning, Oz didn't *expect* things to make any sense. 

Just sat and stared and let himself sag a bit against Devon's shoulder. Both of them sitting on the same side of the booth so they could watch the 
sun rise.

Cable says, "What do you make of him?"


Pause.  "Yes."

"At the moment, I'm going for 'sick puppy.'  Him and parents."

"Oh flonq.  Yours or his?"


Another pause.  "How did Scott take it?"


Nate says, "He wasn't around."  Walks in and finds a cup, makes tea. Ritualistically.  Gas-ring stove and old kettle.  Warms the teapot.  Lets tea leaves fall loose into the bottom of it.  Waits for it to steep and finds sugar.  Pours the tea and loads enough sugar into it to send a lesser being into insulin shock.

Then comes over, sets the tea down, and buries his face in Oz's neck. Hugs 
him, but doesn't sit down so much as lean in Oz's general direction. Brush 
of bare, lean hip against his shoulder and the smell of territoriality.

Oz wonders how he might get along with his alternate universe self, and has a brief image of playing bad guitar with a massive werewolf cyborg before Nate speaks.

"I can take you back."

Cable nods. "Wanna tell me what this place is?"


Cable pushes away from the table and stands. "Fine. It was good to meet
you, Oz. Hope you find your way to wherever you need to be."

Enough tension in the room to make his hackles rise. "Thanks. Nate?"

"I'll be right back, I promise."

And they're gone.

Oz sits for a minute and drinks his coffee.  Something between dark heaven and rocket fuel crawling down into a stomach that cries protest. He hasn't eaten in.  Well, a long time.  He searches the cupboard and decides that even between realities, it's pretty clear Nate does his own shopping.  Some frozen stuff, some electric-purple juice mix.  Breakfast cereal.  Cheeze whiz.

Wonderbread.  All those little dots some screaming kind of reality damage.

He manages a sandwich of sorts, and discovers that the only thing in the
kitchen that, to pick someone at random, Oz's mom, would actually designate 'necessary groceries' is tea.  Several boxes of it, in different flavours, both caffeinated and herbal.  Loose leaves, bags, tea balls.  Some of it recognizable brands, more of it wrapped in paper boxes that look like art with various co-op stamps on them.  But maybe all shamans have enough of a social conscience to buy fairly-traded tea.

The herbal stuff is all carefully packaged and labeled.  Oz counts at least 
twelve different kinds.

He turns around and watches the dry-erase board beside the door write him a note.


Oz goggles.  Or doesn't, but only because he never, ever would.  But he's

He comes over and picks up the blue dry-erase pen and writes with it while he uses the other hand to shove his sandwich into his mouth.



Oz thinks about that.




Oz tries to picture that.  Nate skinny and naked and oddly casual walking
around that way, facing down the grandfather of all angry cyborgs.




Well, that isn't really a surprise. Oz finishes his sandwich, and thinks seriously about whether or not he wants to have an actual conversation with a dry-erase board, and whether or not it would count as having a
conversation with Nate. Hmm.



Which pretty much answers Oz's questions. He doesn't particularly want to talk about the Nate he's coming to think of as *his* with Nate's macro.


Oz barely manages to avoid choking on his sandwich and decides to leave the dry-erase board alone with its hurt feelings for a while.  Goes out into the hallway, and there's the bedroom, which now includes a television set. Some sort of gladiator program is on, though, so he keeps walking until he hits French doors that lead out onto a deck.

The sun's shining, making Oz realize that he has no idea *when* he is. Wonders about temporal issues, and if there's some sort of Rip Van Winkle thing going on back home. His parents didn't seem any older, but then he also wasn't looking very closely.


Oz sits down and closes his eyes.

*Am I in Nate's mind?*


Thinks about it. The sun is just as warm-feeling, the deck-chairs feel 

*Nah, this is fine.*


*I'm good.*


*No, really, I'm OK.*


*Did you want to talk about something?*


Which seems painfully obvious, except. Except that it's what Nate said.
Everything here seems calculated to precisely that effect.  Except Nate, who tries very hard to shock him, push his buttons, find his limits and then take two steps past them.


He decides, for now, to let the sun make him happy.  Thinks about some kind of fairly comfortable chair, about his own guitar, then Devon's bass, the one Oz was just learning to play.  Gets them.  And finds that whether or not the sun's real, it feels good, and the bass' vibrations let him just sort of cruise along for a while, separate from chatty houses and all the armies of psychological problems that Nate's got stored up in the corners of his mind.

Carving out something with the sound.  Shape of his own serenity, shattered in one bad moment in a UC-Sunnydale hallway by a very ordinary girl in a very ordinary sweater, who smelled like Willow.  His own understanding.  Jealousy.  This *rage* that he hadn't believed he was actually capable of.  Danny, after all, is very quiet.  He's very calm.  We wonder sometimes if he's alright; he doesn't seem to have that rambunctiousness that boys his age should.

Willow and the first time he saw her after dark.  Moonless, and he wasn't
anything dangerous, just Oz, watching one very thin, very awkward girl walk about half a block ahead of him.

Devon and the warm, smoky van interior while it rained.  North, outside San Francisco, and later they drove up into the rain forest and he woke up in the morning with the sliding door open and this steady, nearly silent liquid wall pouring down.  That pile of blankets and Devon's hand on his back.

Veruca, and the first life of Oz-as-Wolf.  As Pack member.

One very awkward, very odd, very sweet kiss that he shared with Xander
Harris, late at night on the roof of the Bronze after hours of holding forth on life and love and sex.

The low, solid note of air moving across the rice fields in Tibet.  People with no shoes and Chinese soldiers and Oz in his jeans and layers of 
sweaters, hitch-hiking since India and thinner than he'd been since he was 

Eventually he lets the music catch and drift and just sits, still bent over 
the bass but not playing.  Watching it get dark.  Some hiss of sound in the 
distance that might be water.  Warm presence at his back, signalling Nate, 
who comes up behind him and lays a kiss on his neck.  Crouches at Oz's feet and doesn't say anything.

He's wearing his older face.  Shaman instead of child, more lines, oddly
stable in comparison.  One of his eyes is glittering, but Oz decides it
isn't all that important.

*How was Cable?*

*He's good.  We didn't even fight.  He just wanted to know what the hell I 
thought I was up to.*

Oz touches Nate's face.

*Do you know?*

*More or less.*

He takes the bass out of Oz's hands and leans it against the wall.  Pushes 
up higher on his knees and kisses him.

And it's easy, really, to tilt Nate's head back and take control.  Kiss him hard.  Get a calf between his thighs and rub him.  Lean him back and
eventually crawl on top of him, kiss him and hold him down.

"Trust me, Nate."


"I want you to trust me.  You said you weren't scared of me.  Are you?"

Nate opens his mouth to say 'no' right away, but Oz can feel the hesitation 
in the link. Wants to say it's okay, that he knows what the fear is about. 
"A bit."

"Will you trust me anyway?"

A tremor of something, too fine and controlled to completely catch.  "Yes."

"Take us here."

And Oz holds his breath so he can get every detail. The graffiti he knows by heart, the scent of old makeup, sweat. The evil that was everywhere and nowhere in the senses, and the way the three still-functional lamps lit it all anyway. Dim, crowded with broken-down amps and mic stands and empty kegs too busted to be returned for the deposit.

The Bronze, backstage, and when they get there Oz settles down on his knees, tilts his head back, and inhales.

Not the smell of home, not the smell of play, just the smell of itself, and 
that intellectual-emotional sense-memory of familiarity. Has to stand up, 
look around. Yep, the crumpled underwear that's been in the Northwest corner of the main room since at least the first time Oz came back here is still there.

DEVON WA is still painted in black glitter nail polish on the wall. Dev
passed out before finishing, the bottle spilling into a gritty little
permapuddle on the floor.

It's here, and he knows it's real because he can *feel* this place, all of it. The Hellmouth. Nate couldn't create that same miasma, wouldn't if he could. Oz knows this. Stands and looks up at the dusty windows, the sun 
struggling through and managing to light... basically nothing, actually.

Not home, but his parents are there, in the distance, and the friends he has 
on this continent are all within a few miles. The possibility of home. He'd 
like to stay a while, actually. Let people know that the Initiative, or parts of it, are still out there. Still dangerous. Apologize to Tara. Maybe kill a few demons for old time's sake.

Nate hasn't come any closer.

*You want me to leave you here.*

*No. I'd like to hang out here for a while. Reality, you know.*

*You... want me to go?*

*You know I don't.*

Nate watches him.  Fractured blue eyes, arms wrapped around himself.  At 
some point in the jump, he reacquired clothes.  Jeans, sandals, old translucent t-shirt pushed up to leave his navel showing.  Looks like his 
younger self, except around the eyes.  It's an interesting effect, almost 
totally ageless.

Oz asked for reality, and he's a hypocrite, because some of his own best
tools are based in illusions he can create.  Like the one where he strips his face of expression and only uses his eyes.  The effect is a kind of very-deep-guy meets sexy-musician look, and it's not entirely him.  But he 
needs Nate to come over to him.  Somehow.

Holds the hand out.

And Nate comes.  Hugs him, lays his face against Oz's hair.

Oz hooks two fingers in the shirt's neck.  Pulls it down and sucks on Nate's collarbone.  Hard.  All the blood rising to the edges of his skin, making a spreading mark that's going to be entirely visible.  Licks it.  Reaches down and pulls the shirt up from the waist, finds a nipple and sucks on it.  Gets an animal-sound in response before Nate can swallow it and laughs quietly, chuffing across the white-pale skin.  Redhead's skin, and he must get that, at least, from Jean.

Not hard to walk Nate back towards the table. Lean him against it. Kiss him hard, get a hand down inside his jeans. Squeeze through the surprisingly-present boxers, shiver at the slide as the head of Nate's cock 
pokes out.  Something intense about the sheer *flesh* of it. Startling touch 
on his mind of Nate's wanting. The taste of his mouth.

Oz gets the jeans open and goes down on him.

Opening up as much as he can, knows how badly Nate seems to need this, the knowledge that Oz is right here, even when his mind wanders. Nate's cock suits him, long and a little slim. Vague wondering if he's still growing, and Oz immediately feels like a pervert, feels so much *older* than Nate.

Even with only a few years difference. Looking up for reassurance and the older face is still there. The glittering eye has dimmed almost to normal. It's a face that doesn't feel right to Oz all the time, but then neither does the face of the boy. Too much to think about, too many questions about what he's doing, though he thinks he's probably made a decision. 

Traveling through realities and the realization,  *I have a bizarre life.*

*You have a great mouth.*

Oz smiles around Nate's cock for a moment before sucking hard, hollowing his cheeks and pressing his tongue up against the vein. Sliding into the rhythms of it and squeezing himself through his jeans.

*oh... oh, yeah... jerk yourself off*


*'m a brat, too, c'mon, let me see*

Pulls off with a lingering suck


and a wet pop. Watches Nate's face while he opens his jeans, takes himself out. Half-hard and growing under Nate's stare. Something about the power in him, the potential under the brat --

*if you compare me to Cable --*

*it's not --*

*Fuck, you *want* him!*

Oz grabs Nate before he can move, knowing it wouldn't make a difference if Nate really wanted to go, but needing to anyway. Other hand still on his cock, and he starts to stroke. No words for this, just whatever the tangle in his head is offering Nate and his own body. 

Leans into it when Nate shoves a hand into his hair and tilts his head back. Lets the cock against his lips push his mouth open, slick and hot and fucking its way in, Nate holding him still for it and God, yeah, it hits him. Backstage on his knees for the star of the show, and Oz hopes Nate gets it.

But it's too good to worry about, too good not to just swallow Nate down and let himself be fucked. 

*oh oh god Oz*

*do it*

Jerking himself faster and letting the moans go, humming around the length of Nate in his mouth and needing him to thrust faster, fuck him a little harder in that way, that one incredible way that turns his mouth into a vagina, something specially designed to be fucked just like this, just now, just right here and his cock is leaking steadily and drool is ribboning down his chin and

*God, *Nate*, don't stop*

*can't I can't oh *God**

Nate holding his head now with both hands.  Fingers around his jaw and the base of his skull, somewhere between forcing and worshiping. Rubbing under his chin and trailing into the spit-wetness.  Soft whisper of *Oz* sliding through his brain, totally at odds with the desperation of this.  Fucking his mouth, obliviously brutal and it's *good*.  Some kind of pleasure in this, in the act itself rather than just in Nate's reactions, some new awareness of his mouth that's wired in to his cock, makes him jerk almost perfectly in time to Nate's thrusts.

There's glitter all over the knees of his jeans.  It's all over the floor.

Tilts his head to the side and take a breath and goes *in*.  As fast and fierce as he can until he's got his mouth pressed against Nate's actual body, long swallow to make it possible and then the prickling *scent* of him, male and wanting and sweating and bleeding lust all over Oz's senses.  Soft, almost red hair against his nose and mouth.  Hands in his hair.

Nate moaning as he comes. Not as dramatic as Oz vaguely thinks it should be, considering, but he knows how good it feels.  Wet mouth and soft hands and Nate's hands *convulse* in his hair.  Massage him and trace thumbs over his ears, and there's an actually vocal whisper between *sweet* and *thank you*.

Oz catches Nate before his knees give.  He's still hard, still jerking himself, but it only take a second to boost Nate onto the table, watch him lean back with a sleepy-sweet grin and his jeans pushed down around his thighs.  Edges of glitter where his jean cuffs and sandals meet.

*Hey, c'mere.*

Reaches out one white hand and catches Oz's hip, pulls him in close.  Takes him in hand and jerks him off.  Carefully, pausing twice to wet his hand.  Trading Oz's own slickness for his mouth's, obviously hanging onto the taste.  Head against Nate's chest while he comes, white onto Nate's bare skin.

*Didn't you have a shirt on?*

*Aren't you glad I got rid of it?*

*You probably shouldn't do too much of that around my friends at first.*

*You're ashamed of me, I knew it all along.*

Oz bites his nipple hard and holds it between his teeth for a long moment. 

*Is that supposed to make me behave?*

*It was a thought.*

Hand in his hair, gentle now.

*I need to do something about that. What color do you think I should dye it?*


*Simple, elegant choice. I think I can work with that.* Pictures his hair as it should be, dyed brittle and spiked to within an inch of its life.

*Oooh, cool.*

*My house? You can see what my parents look like fully clothed.*

A snicker inside his head, and Nate moves to get a better hold on him.
*No, wait. Let's just. Walk there.*

*We could fly.*

*You fly?*

*We don't have to. I mean, if you want the full reality experience.*

*No, flying would be pretty cool, actually.*

*I don't want to mess with your *head* or anything --*

Oz, knowing what's expected, simply bites a little harder. *Tease.*

The look he gets in answer is decidedly crooked.  Nate pushes himself back up to sitting and jumps down, pulls his jeans up.  Long slide of his hand inside his boxers before he buttons up.  Pulls his shirt on.

*Hang on, where'd that come from?*

Nate wiggles his eyebrows in answer. *Salt Lake City.*

Oz looks.  The shirt says REPENT in black, sans-serif capitals. Takes in his own shirt-free state. *Do I get one?*

*I'm tempted to fetch you the one that says PROUD YOUNG LUTHERAN.*

Hands him a balled green shirt, instead.  When Oz unfolds it, it says BLUE in bold, forest-green letters.  Shrugs and pulls it on.

Crawling out the window's something he hasn't had to do for a while.  They could probably get out the door (or through a wall, or any hole in the space-time continuum, whispers his brain), but there's something he needs in the act of scrambling up onto the '30s radiator and boosting himself through, while Nate either helps or attempts to grope him, it's not clear which.  Oz lands in a heap in the overwatered California grass and stares up at Nate, who's managed to land without messing up his hair.

*OK, Mr. Too-Good-to-Fall-On-His-Ass, show me flight.*

Nate holds out a hand.  Wraps Oz around him once he's got him standing and radiates something invisible yet somehow golden for a moment.  And lifts.

Oz gets a flash of something.  Another world, raw and dirty and burned.  In the woods, doing this for the first time.  A child's elation and a desire to 

*tell Forge*

that immediately shies away.  Glowing pain in his head and blood on his face and the universe fracturing open for a second to show him things that he wouldn't be able to touch again for years.

Comes back to himself and they're flying. Crouched in a kind of friendly tangle, hidden by the graze of Nate's mind across the world and the stretching light. Late afternoon in the winter-cold Spanish-colonial jungle of Sunnydale. Burned-out school, university campus, cemeteries. Nate's wrapped around him and peering curiously downward. Utterly inattentive to what he's doing.

*Superman you're not.*

*I have a Fortress of Solitude.*

*About that Fortress...*


*Did you know it talks?*

*You talked to my fortress? Man, I need a better name for it. Castle Nate? Casa del Nate? The Hizouse?*

*I'd like to strongly recommend not naming it The Hizouse. You're really much too White to have a Hizouse. It's okay, I am, too.*

Something like a psychic raspberry. *Seriously, it talked with you?*

*Yeah, actually. Seemed kind of.*

*Lonely. Yeah, OK. I don't know what to do about that.*

*I'd say something about talking to it every once in a while, but when I put it in words like that, I realize just how incredibly unhealthy that would be. My house is the last one on the right.*

*I'll think of something. Don't want it to crack up or anything. Or it would be me. Or something.*

*Yeah. Hey?*


And Oz kisses him thoroughly, which makes Nate flub the landing. Thankfully, they weren't very high up. *Remind me not to do that again while you're flying.*

Nate snickers at Oz from his section of the lawn. There's grass in his hair, and Oz wishes he had a camera ready.




*Fuck off.*

*Not before I meet the other Osbournes.*

*Oh, hey, about that. Don't let anyone bite you.*

*Got it.*

He's struck by how aggressively normal the house is.  Just like he doesn't live there.  Or didn't.  Ever.  Though there's probably something deeply psychological linking the current state of Oz to this three-bedroom ranch-style detached bungalow and its wide vinyl siding.

His keys are long gone, but there's one in a frightening urn of his mother's in the back yard.  He's not entirely convinced that it doesn't contain the ashes of some long-dead relative.  Ashes in the bottom, then some potting soil, then the current plant, the latest in an army of short-lived greenery.  The key's duct-taped to the rim, on the inside.

Catches the screen door to keep it from crashing. The last traces of hydraulic cushioning on it are gone. And just stands on the little landing of the basement stairs, looking into the dark and feeling Nate close behind 

*Where's your room?*

*Down there.*

*They made you sleep in the *basement*?*

*I don't know how it works in your part of the world, but here it's some kind of male coming-of-age ritual to move into the basement.  Less daylight, more opportunity not to clean.  Mostly nobody cares if you stink up the basement.*

*Jean and Scott keep *Marrow* in the basement.*

*Maybe she likes it down there.*

*They keep her in the basement so she won't kill everybody in their sleep.  There's a lock on the door.*

Oz stares at him. *Seriously?*

*No.  Well, yeah there's a lock, but she actually does like it.  She used to live underground.  And there are tunnels and stuff.*

Oz nods. Shows Nate a brief mental picture of his room, the way it was when he lived here. Messy bed that was just a mattress and old box spring on the floor with assorted blankets, posters covering as much of the wood-veneer walls as he could manage.  Clothes on the floor, warm pot-smell that lingered and that his mother carefully chose not to identify. The old recliner and his guitar and the hundreds of albums that he loved and his mess of a turntable and pictures of the band and school books piled in a corner.

Nate wraps his arms around Oz's neck, grinds against him from behind.  Not hard yet, but threatening.  Kisses his neck.  *I wanna fuck you down there.*

*I cleaned before I left.  And I think after I left my mom probably sent in a biohazard crew.*

Nate kisses him again. Pushes him up against the wall and makes the kiss a serious one.

*What time is it?*

*Time is fleeting.*

*Nate, what *time*?*

*Four-fifty, five-ten, something like that.*

*My parents are going to walk through that door in about five minutes.*

*Good.  Then they'll be even with you and we can all be happy.*

*This thing with you and sex and parents is more disturbing than I can begin to express.*

Nate pulls back and sighs.

*OK, what would you suggest we be doing when they get home and discover you're back like the prodigal son?*

*I was thinking we could watch TV and eat nachos.*

Finds that this was a good suggestion.  Sprawled somewhere between sitting and supine with Nate's head on his stomach, eating a handful of salty chips and swirling them occasionally in the salsa jar balanced on Nate's chest.  Watching the latest of a string of cartoons, and it looks like he doesn't know his parents quite as well as he thought, because it's actually six-thirty before they come in.  Talking to each other and fumbling with keys, loaded with groceries and.  Kissing.  In the doorway.

Broccoli falls out of one shopping bag and rolls unevenly across the floor.

"Um, hi."

He thinks... he wonders if they should have smelled him.  He's not entirely convinced that his parents don't have wolfen blood.  Something about the shape of their faces and his, and the ease of the transition into wolf form.  Some people take hours; he takes seconds.  And it's relatively easy.

"Hello, Daniel."

Nate twists to look at him. The salsa flies off his chest, makes a run for 
the floor and gets caught telekinetically before it hits.

"Yeah." He pushes Nate off his stomach and tries to sit up, pulls the salsa 
jar out of the air before anyone can notice it. Pauses, while he tries to 
think what he's supposed to say in these moments. "Mom, Dad, this is, um, Nate."

"We've met."

"You did."  Pause. "Oh.  Right.  Sorry about that.  His fault, though."

Continued in Part Two