Strays 4: Feeling I've Been
by Te
August 2000

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd cook them a nice meal.

Spoilers: General season four-ness.

Summary: Xander and Oz try to live.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: Because, you know, Oz has a wonderful belly, and,
as I was discussing with Deb, God has a fucked up sense of humor.

Acknowledgments: To the rest of my brain, and the glorious Dawn

Feedback: Craved at


And waking up is, OK, definitely not the least painful thing Xander has
ever done. Just uncurling from where he's been pinning Oz all night is
bad enough. His neck is screaming, and sitting up starts a whole chorus.

A mental note: Beer and come, given time to hang around in his mouth
overnight, is a thing of great evil.

Another: There are consequences to being fucked unconscious by a
jealous werewolf.

Xander doesn't bother muffling too many of his groans, knowing Oz
woke up the second Xander's breath or heart rate or something
changed. Oz is, in fact, watching him in that I'm-thinking-too-many-
thoughts-already way that Xander just wants to kiss away.

So he does, closed mouth, because he can't quite get used to Oz liking
his morning breath. Rimming him is fine. Morning breath is a whole
'nother story and since he's already kissing he might as well just
nuzzle down a bit. Oz's skin is this smooth, pale *needed* thing. Not
quite a mystery, but still not something Xander can get enough of.

Moving down the chest, resting his lips there long enough to kiss
Oz's heartbeat, and down to Oz's belly. Smooth, and almost, but not
quite, freckled. Like the freckles maybe need a bit more sunshine
before they can resolve into anything more than different palenesses
just under the milky skin. Oz is moving beneath him now, brushing at
Xander's ears and shifting, breathing in those big gulps of air that
Xander knows means that he's being thoroughly examined.

Xander wonders if his dreams ever sweat themselves out in a way that
Oz can understand. If Oz can feel the tiny nut of doubt, like a tangle
of half-living roots, that's under everything. He'd dreamed of Giles,
touching him, and laughing together with him, and Oz staying aside,
distant and elsewhere. Unsubtle unconscious mind, anxiety dreams
needed no symbolism in the Xander brain and.

And. Can't seem to keep him mind on the warm skin beneath his palms,
the brush of Oz's eyelashes against his cheeks.

And Oz knows it, tugs Xander back up and gives him an Oz special.
Treating Xander's mouth like a wonderful meal, like a plate to be
licked clean, and the only thing to do is let him. It's not like Xander
can honestly be said to *mind* Oz's kisses, especially when they make
Oz hold him like this.

Casually... possessive. Free hand unerringly finding the sorest
muscles and rubbing them loose again.

Finally just pushing Xander face down to the sleep-warm sheets and
giving him a short but remarkably efficient rub-down. Strong, small
hands with guitar calluses. Human hands with a lot of history that
doesn't include Xander, but touch him with the same care and endless
hunger as the half-paws.

Xander glances at the clock, realizes with some surprise that he's
still early. Weird side effect of getting drunk for him -- waking up
as soon as he's fully sober.

Which, if it gets him this kind of treatment, is very, very nice.

"Mmmm, Oz... you're way too good at this."

"So I've been told. Luckily, I only use my powers for good."

"That's a... ohh. That's a relief. I don't suppose you're going to be
able to do anything about the fact that I won't be sitting down very
much today."

An utterly unrepentant "sorry."

Xander can hear the smile, and smiles back, eyes falling closed again
to just feel it. Warmth spreading everywhere under his skin, body
loosening and relaxing and Oz is just *good*. Someone to be cared
for, and cherished, and protected. Frightening and exhilarating to be
given the chance to actually make a difference in the life of someone
Xander feels that way about.

Xander silently promises them both to make it work.


"Present and accounted for, sir."

"Are you worried that I won't respect what you want? That I'll bite
you anyway?"

Which is completely out of left field. "Uh... no. Should I be?"

Oz scooting down the bed, resting on top of him. Soft voice next to
ear. "No. I won't... I won't do it unless you say it's all right."

"OK. That is, not 'OK, bite me,' but 'OK, I trust you.' Um."

"I love the way laughter and fear are wound together with you, that
I can smell your humor and your worry together." Kissing him lightly
on the shoulder. "You're the only person I've ever met like that."

"You'll find your friendly neighborhood Xander comes equipped with
many unique features."

"Including this worry that I keep smelling on you." Another kiss, then
Oz sliding off to Xander's side, still stroking long and soft down his

"Including the worry. What worry?"

"The one I can smell."

"Oh, that worry."

Vaguely demanding hand resting on the back of Xander's neck. Eye to
eye, both of them having pushed the pillows aside for being too warm.
"Let me help."

And it's too early for this kind of thing, and Xander doesn't want to
start anything huge, doesn't want to do. Anything but tell Oz the truth,
all the time. Because hiding is impossible, and... almost like a sacrilege.
Breaking this something that they have where everything is all wide open,
even the dark, shady corners where Oz sometimes wants to eat Xander,
and Xander sometimes wants to let him, so.

"I want you to be a part of my life, Oz. My whole life."


"I mean. I mean I want you to be a part of this new open friendship
thing I'm having with Anya, and... Giles."

Oz pulls his hand away, turns on his back. "Giles wants you."

"He really likes you, too." And also maybe wants to see your
dick, but hey, maybe Xander doesn't need to say that out loud so
he just waits, watches.

"I wish I could take you north again. Hold you against the cold. It's
quieter, there... less evil."

"I like it here, Oz." Reaching over to throw an arm over Oz, kiss his

"I know. Hence the slight melancholy of the wish."

"Giles and I were thinking, maybe get together tonight. You're not
working too late again, right?"

"I don't have to be."

"You know, Giles plays guitar. Sings, too."

Oz smiles. "Matchmaker Xander. I didn't know Giles sang."

"He's good. Almost scary good. It's this, I don't know, his voice is
like something metal, and liquid."


"Too liquid."



"I want you all to myself, Xand."

"I... I'm beginning to realize that."

"Sometimes I wonder what it might've been like if I'd met you first.
God, all I saw was Willow."

"Me, too... too late, though. She's... bright."

Silence for a while. Holding on and Oz is still just so *clear*. Still
oxygen. Xander kisses his chest again for it, and Oz is playing with
his hair again.

"Is Giles good?"

Xander breathes, squeezes briefly. "You're not asking about musical
things, are you?"

"Maybe in a figurative sense. But no."

"Yeah. He's... he's pretty good for a human."

Oz smiling at him. "Those humans'll surprise you."

"Wily things. All with the breathing and no fangs."

"Much too little hair."

"Bald, bald monkeys. Ook. Oooook."

"But not the kind with those weird neon butts."

"No. Well. Not often, anyway."

"Xander, I don't know if I can handle you having a neon butt."

"Well, that's not very tolerant of you, is it?"

Laughing then, and Xander loves the way Oz's eyes crinkle when he
does that. Just one more show-you-everything moment. Warm, warm,

And, OK, it's starting to get to the time when Xander has to get out
of bed. There's no way he can get justify not showering today. Oz may
like his sex funky goodness, but there just aren't enough Xander-loving
werewolves in the world.

But it doesn't stop being nice to be here, just because a long day of
manly construction work is calling.

"I like being here with you, Xander."

"I like having you here."

"It's this really intense like, you know? Sort of the apotheosis of
like. A like that can't be any more like than it is."

"Wow. Weird valley girl philosophy texts."

"Ecce Dude."

"Whoa and Superwhoa."

"The Origin of Bodacious."

And rolling over on top of Oz because he has to. Kiss him and touch
him and tickle him and laugh. And kiss and laugh, too.

By the time it ends, it's *well* past time to get going. The shower is
fast, the breakfast is a cold Pop-Tart, the clothes are thrown on with
even more blindness than usual.

And work is a long, heavily muscular process about heh heh, must be
dating a vampire, eh Harris? And being severely tempted to correct the
guys, but settling for taking his ribbing like a man. And the thought:
North would mean it being cold enough for things like turtlenecks. But
maybe too cold to be able to come out everyday and look at things like

Buildings happening, where no buildings were happening before. And if
it's weird that the Sunnydale population is increasing enough for
new housing, then hey, that wacky new economy is sure moving right
along. Someone's gonna live here, in this house that Xander knows, deep
inside, will stand until the next apocalyptic disaster, at least.

Maybe some happy children sleeping in this very room where he's laying
the wiring. Dreaming about kindly construction workers.

Or not.

Doesn't *have* to be about demonic activity.

Though Xander sometimes wonders about the foreman. Never takes that
hardhat off. Not ever. Probably lots of little horns under there. But
he's a nice enough guy, so Xander doesn't mind.

A bunch of them ride into Sunnydale proper for lunch, hit the Zuma
diner, which has the least surfer-like clientele Xander has ever seen. What
it does have is stuff like home fries, and big yellow eyeball looking eggs.
He doesn't manage to entirely refrain from making them beg not to
be blinded, but Steve, the new kid, laughs, so that's OK.

And Leon-the-maybe-demon-foreman says, "Watch out for Harris, kid,
he's a fucking nutjob." In the nicest way possible, and the other guys
laugh, reach over the bench dividers to slap him on the back.

Xander says: "They're just jealous of my relationship with Gracie."

Which brings out another wave of laughter, because Gracie is the
world's oldest, largest, and heaviest jackhammer, leaving the
burliest construction workers feeling shaky and violated. Every new
guy gets stuck with Gracie as soon as possible.

And it all makes for a nice early afternoon that segues into a nice
mid-afternoon, where he's instructed to buy knee pads and bows his
head in front of Leon, and begs him to be gentle.

Ducks the flying hardhat, which, as it turns out, is hiding nothing more
serious than the reddest red hair Xander has ever seen on a Black

Xander says, "Wow."

Leon says, "Genetics is a funny thing."

As it turns out, Leon is sending him over to the other main site tomorrow,
so he can learn how to lay tile.

Which sends a little *zing* to Xander's brain that later he realizes
means he's getting closer. To that thing he's supposed to be doing
with at least this part of his life. And he can see it, making patterns
with different colored tiles, making floors into puzzles, pictures...

Like how he'd always taken the crayon and divided the page into lots of
looping segments which each earned a different color.

Even if he only did that to give himself lines he could stay within.

And Oz, when Xander gets home, supplies the word mosaic.

Together they muse on Xander's rejection of simple, straight lines,
and talk about what colors would be in their ideal floor.

"But you couldn't make it too interesting," says Oz from where
he's washing his hands outside Xander's shower.

Xander peeks out, absentmindedly shakes his wet hair on the
other man. Just something that had to be done. "Why not interesting?"

"You'd spend all your time looking down."

"Down is a good place to look. You find some interesting little
things looking down..."

Laugh because Oz is thwapping him with a washcloth.

Is, in fact, climbing into the shower fully clothed and attacking
in full force, all happy predator grin and slipping out of
Xander's holds.

They're both going over to Giles' house later, and Oz is going
to bring his guitar and it just feels *good* to finally catch
a laughing, thwapping Oz, pin him against the wall and kiss him wet
and needful and pleased.

Peel him out of the t-shirt, and the eight pound sneakers, and
seven ton jeans and just suck him down immediately, before the
water can wash away his natural taste. And, OK, maybe work
wouldn't be as relaxed and fun if the guys knew his hungry girlfriend
was, in fact, a boyfriend, but when Oz is holding him close like this
Xander can't care.

Taste, suckle, caress with his whole mouth and wrap his arms around
Oz's thighs.

Listen to the echo of Oz calling his name, the quiet squeak of
freshly clean hair in Oz's grasp.

The familiar shift in his mouth, instinctively widening his mouth for
the stretch, the new Oz taste and the good, strong scent of wet fur.
Works the sheath back as far as he can pull it and sucks and tastes
and opens himself for the fuck he loves, that keeps his mouth
permanently swollen and tender to the touch.

"Jesus, Xander..."

Hoarse and... yes, Xander has learned to tell one growl from another.
And this is the growl... that shocked and happy and dazed growl, straight
from Oz's *soul*.

Finally just letting himself be held in place and fucked. Eyes closed
against the water but *feeling* Oz staring down, knowing it for sure
when a gentle thumb wipes away streams of water, but hearing it

"You're so beautiful, Xand..."

is still so *much*.

Sucking hard and trying to be even more open, more ready for Oz and
moaning around his cock and shuddering when he comes. Swallowing
and swallowing and licking him clean until Oz pushes him away.

Kissing again, and giving it all right back to Oz and finally having to
get out of the shower because the water was cold and onto the bed.
Perfunctory use of towels, deliberately getting in each other's way and.

"Is it heavy to have wet fur?"


And Oz making love to him. Hands all over, and Xander thinks he
remembers that song and spreads his legs wide apart the moment
Oz looks up from where he's being attacking a nipple and licks his
lips and Oz grins.


"Definite yeah, Oz, god, please --"

And a pillow under his hips and Oz down and in, muttering something
about Xander being too clean and muttering things feels really, really
good down there. And Oz's tongue is a demon and Xander's starting to
sweat again. Move and push down and get one hand around his cock and
try to force himself to stay to Oz's rhythm.

Circle and in, circle and in, flat animal sound and the prickle of fur
on his thighs seems *way* too soon, like maybe they won't escape
the apartment tonight, but it fades back fast and Oz. Oh.

Using his fingers.

And, you know, maybe there's some subtext in here. About how Oz
can do the human thing, too, and Xander knows, and wants to
comfort, reassure, anything to make Oz *know*. That it's OK, but
all he can do is writhe under the touch and feel himself stretched
and hope and fear that Oz is getting hard again because, oh god,
shame not to take advantage and --

"Fffuck --"

Oz going down on him, soft, wet mouth. Taking mouth and clever
long-enough fingers and it hits about a heartbeat earlier than Xander
expects, making him yell in shock and the wonder of it.

And then just having to bend up and curl Oz into his arms and
taste himself. Dig his fingers into Oz's lean muscle, pull him in
and just

"Oz, *fuck*."

"Yeah, but then we'd be late."

Smiling into Oz's mouth because, yeah, he *is* happy that Oz
really wants to go, has this image in his mind of how it can all
go so *nicely* that Xander doesn't let himself examine, lest he
jinx it all.

Dressing, stopping in the cellar on the way out to throw Oz's
drenched clothes in a miraculously empty dryer and then out into
the breezy, sweet-smelling Sunnydale night, where they have an
almost entirely nice walk over to Giles, interrupted by three
vampires when they were only a block away.

And Xander is getting really good at the 'get knocked down and
bring the stake up just as the vampire pounces' thing, though it
never stops being essentially horrifying.

But looks up to find Oz completely wolfed out. Like, the full, very
large, ripped clothes version who has absolutely no trouble
whatsoever ripping the heart out of one vampire and ripping the head
off the other.

And has a really, really large amount of trouble coming back.

Swiping at Xander when he tries to help, but eventually letting him
get a hand on his shoulder.

And then into an alley, to wait, and wait, and for a while Xander can
see nothing but the wolf in those eyes, and nothing but a confused
hunger in the growl, and Xander has long, long minutes to wonder if
he's going to die tonight. If Oz will spend the rest of his aggression
on ripping *him* apart, and then.


Yeah, dying would be of the bad, but Oz would be so *hurt* and
Xander wants to just hold him against the possibility, and he also
wants to give Michael Johnson a run for his money, but what he does is
stay down, first on his knees, and then slowly onto his back.

Looks away, tries and fails not to shudder uncontrollably when the
wolf leans in, noses at his throat and belly. Snuffling loud, one paw
easily holding him down.

Xander ceases to be amazed at how useful his firsthand journey
into animal behavior has been in his everyday life. And he cries out
when the *wolf* shudders, throws back his head and growls and... shrinks.
Back into an Oz in tatters, and fuck, he looks so good Xander
has to pull him down and hold him.

Risking everything by not letting Oz get out of his hold but *needing*
to, until Oz is finally still, face against Xander's throat and
silently crying.

Staying that way until Xander's beginning to wonder if lightning would
strike twice, but he waits instead, feeling Oz's arms settle around
him, the kisses begin to start. Soft and quick and many, all over his throat
and under his chin and over his face and Xander can taste his tears.

"I saw the vampire knock you down and I just *lost* it, Xander, and,
*fuck*. Trying so hard to protect you and I nearly killed you and and...
oh fuck Xander you should've let me run. Because I don't think I'm strong
enough to do it now..."

"Hey, Oz, it's OK. You didn't kill me. You sniffed me a lot, and you
drooled, but in the end it wasn't that different from normal and I don't
want you to run. We can get through this, I promise."

"Xander... I don't know what I'd do if I ever hurt you..."

"Shh, Oz, I trust you, just shhh..."

And when they get to Giles' they're an hour late, and Giles takes one
look at them and curses. Finds them clothes that are comically too
small and too big, and Xander gets off a few good ones about
Goldilocks and possible transvestitism that almost, almost drags Oz
out of himself by making him wonder, aloud, if dressing as a bear really
counted as transvestitism, or a whole new category of ism.

And Giles produces tea, and really good food that Xander has finished
before he can really acknowledge what it is beyond good.

He knows it involved meat, which makes it even harder to watch Oz
be hollow-eyed and not-eating Oz.

Xander settles a little closer to him on the couch, while Giles pulls
a chair around.

And it's up to Xander to explain exactly what happened, something
leaden and knotted in his belly because... because it sounds exactly
as bad as it was.

When he's finished, Giles just sits there, elbows on his thighs,
hands clasped between his knees. Frowning in thought, and Oz has
got that thousand yard stare that makes Xander want to hold him
with his entire body.

So he does, tugging and pulling on Oz, folding his legs around him and
breathing in the still-electric scent of his hair. Not a bad scent,
but Xander knows it means Oz is still wired much, much too high,
pliant limbs or no.

And if it's also just to make sure Giles knows that Xander will
*not* let anything bad happen to Oz, then that's OK, too.

Giles finally breaking the silence with, "Oz, is there anyone you can
reach who's done the same? Broken free of the moon?"

Oz shuddering in his arms and Xander wants so *bad* to make it

"I... they said I was the first. To be so successful." Brittle laugh,
Oz scrubbing his face with his hands before tucking them back
between his body and Xander's legs.

And Giles hmmms, gets up to pace and the silence lasts much too
long and Xander wants to call all the Scoobies in, *make* them
come up with, God, something.

"I was so proud. I was so fucking *proud*. That I could find
peace and serenity in an isolated Tibetan *monastery*. Jesus, of
course I could.

"*Spike* could."

"Oz-man, you need to be laughing at the image you just conjured."

"Yes, I wholeheartedly agree." Giles chewing on his glasses, pausing
to send a rueful smile their way. "I could look for spells, but
lycanthropy really doesn't fall into the magical, the traditionally
good and evil... but you know that already, I suspect, Oz."

Silent nod, full of a lot of things Xander does and does not want
to know about Oz's family. About what it must be like to not just
be a fuck-up, but a genuine pariah and Xander holds him a little

"I just wanted to make myself safe. Isn't that hilarious?"

"In a really heartbreaking and depressing way, yes."

"Oz... was it at all different from the way you lost control with
Tara? How conscious were you?"

"I could smell myself all over Xander, and it was just so *strange*.
Some creature rolling around in... in my den. And... I just got these
flashes of Xander, over and over... It was like I was trying to
distract myself until another I could take over.

The I that I am, I think. These personal pronouns are going to kill

Giles finally back in the chair, and his eyes are hard. "And what
would've happened if Xander hadn't smelled like you?"

Oz just squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head and "Xander,
please, make me leave."

And there it is, right there. Falling right into the pit of dread
because... because "*No*. Oz, you didn't hurt anyone --"

Oz breaking free and turning to face him. "And how many close
calls are we going to get, Xander? Huh? How many chances?"

"I know you won't hurt me." /I know I'll forgive you.../

"Yes, but Xander... *Oz* doesn't know that. Do you?"

Oz shuddering and Oz refusing to be held and Oz. Standing. "No.
No, I don't."

"Oz, don't --"

And the kiss is hard, and clumsy for the first few seconds and
tastes of acrid fear and want and the tears still there and Oz's
hand in his collar tightens once before relaxing,

Brush of knuckles on his throat and then Oz pulling away. Turning
to Giles.

"Don't let him follow me."

"Don't *let* me follow you? Excuse me?" Standing up. "What the
fuck are you talking about, Oz?"

"Xander, you have to let him --"

"You shut the fuck up, Giles, because I fucking wasn't talking to
*you*." And spinning back to face Oz and he looks so fucking sad
and Xander thinks he's gonna put his fist right through that
sad, sad face. "Nobody tells me what to do, Oz. Not anymore."

"That's fair. Don't follow me, Xander."

"Fuck you, Oz."

"Let me go."

"Fuck. You."

"Xander, please --"

"You never *hurt* me, Oz. You never did and I *know* you won't,
so just stop fucking around and let us... let us do *something*."
And he's losing the thread of the anger but he can't. He *can't*
and Giles' hand on his shoulder makes him jump but he manages,
barely, not to strike out.

Quietly, in soft someone's-died reasonable Giles voice. "He's
not just a danger to you."

Like the ground crumbling out beneath his feet. You just didn't
let a friend go, not *ever*. Not one that maybe left friendspace
light years behind the first, second, or seventh time they used the
word love and oh. "Oz..."

Oz reaching out, and it seems so wrong to be touching *human*
fingers but he squeezes anyway.

And lets go.

And when the door closes Giles keeps holding on and Xander keeps
quiet and the door. Stays closed.

Giles pulling him back into a hug, and holding him. So strange to
have someone taller than him in his arms, someone that doesn't
smell wild and Xander doesn't cry.

Xander turns all the lights off and fumbles upstairs and strips
off Giles' clothes and huddles there. Lets himself be held when
Giles follows because.

Because he has to stay there, because Oz needs to get his things
and be completely absent from Xander's home by the time he gets

And neither of them say anything in the dark, with anything but
their bodies.


Continue to Wild.