A Birthday Fic

Written as a joint present for Glossolalia and Glitterboy. As such it involves Giles, Oz and Tara. And a happy ending for everyone.

Big Beat from Badsville

Part Two

He kept in touch with Dawn, of course, telling himself that he would go straight back if he thought she was lacking a responsible adult in her life. He had regular contact with Anya because of the Magic Box. Mostly Giles tried not to think about Sunnydale.

When he had returned to England the first time, Giles had planned to write a book cataloguing some of the shorter-lived slayers. Then he had thought it would help him cope with the loss of his own slayer. Now, as he started work on the project properly, he hoped it would relieve him of the guilt he felt at leaving Buffy to cope alone.

As Giles settled into a routine, and no news of major disasters reached him from Sunnydale, he became more confident that leaving had been the right thing to do. He sometimes wondered if he should call one of the others, just to be certain that neither Dawn nor Anya was keeping important details from him. The book was coming along nicely, though, and he had actual conversations with one or other of his neighbours at least once a day.

Shortly after Buffy's birthday Giles received a letter from Tara. Reading between the lines, she was still grieving over her estrangement from Willow. Something else seemed to be worrying her too; Giles sent her a plane ticket and an invitation to visit him for her spring break.

Tara stayed on after the return portion of her ticket expired, although she would not discuss what was preventing her returning to Sunnydale besides Willow. She said she could always make up the classes she was missing next semester. Giles found her a job in a teashop, and encouraged her to look at brochures for evening classes, and to help him with his research. It would not do for her to get out of the habit of studying.

They went to Cornwall for Beltane, and while Giles was catching up with old friends from a coven in Devon, Tara made new friends, who lived in Bath. She talked about them throughout the drive back, and Giles wondered if she had found a potential replacement for Willow.

Tara was getting ready for her second date in a week - third if you included the moot that both girls had attended - when the entry-phone buzzed. She answered it, then called to Giles that someone wanted to see him.

Giles set his book aside, and walked through to the hall to open the door.

"Hey," Oz said. He looked past Giles at Tara. "And hey to you too. Xander said you were staying here."

"I was just going out," Tara said nervously.

"Look," Oz said. "I'm sorry about last time we met. Giles and I can go for a drink somewhere if you want."

"No," Tara said "I - I really am going out. I'm meeting someone."

Oz looked dubious.

"She's telling the truth." Giles stepped away from the door. "Hasn't stopped talking about it all day." He would apologise for the slight exaggeration later, if it seemed necessary.

Tara grabbed her coat and bag, and hurried out.

"Kind of nervous around me too," Oz said, as they heard the door downstairs open and then close.

"Understandably so."

"We could still go for that drink," Oz said. "But I thought you might prefer this." He dug one hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out a dark brown, clingfilm-wrapped lump. Giles guessed it was a quarter at the very least.

"I've got some tea that would go very nicely with that. Did you want to do the honours, while I put the kettle on?"

"Sure." Oz stepped into the flat. "Sitting room that way?"

After Buffy's aborted homecoming party Oz had taken to visiting Giles' apartment every week or so to smoke pot and listen to whatever music took his fancy. The visits petered out after Oz went to university and moved into a house with his friends, but now it seemed that he had decided to restart the tradition.

As with the last time Oz had made a dramatic reappearance, Giles decided not to bombard him with questions. He simply made a pot of Whittard's Spice Imperial, and carried it through to the sitting room.

Oz was sitting on the floor, leaning against the sofa. He handed the just-lit joint to Giles as soon as he had poured the tea, and sat down on the floor next to Oz.

"I arrived in London last week," Oz said. "Hooked up with a band who were calling at Bristol on their tour, and roadied for them until I got there."

"And they paid you in dope?"

"Dope and a place to crash." Oz took the joint back. "I've got their demo here if you want to listen."

The demo - not bad, but not music to get stoned to either - soon gave way to Oz's choices from Giles' collection. It almost felt as if the past two and a half years had not happened. Or at least nothing had changed about the way Giles and Oz could just sit together, discussing music, books, television programmes only one of them had heard of, and other matters that made the realities of life seem trivial.

"Have you been to Sunnydale?" Giles asked, after giving Oz a brief history of the 1665 Eyam slayer, the subject of his current chapter.

Oz shook his head.

"Thought about it, but everyone's busy with their own problems."

"Is - "

"Nothing big. Just Xander and Anya taking a break from each other, Willow getting her stuff together, Buffy doing the same, and Dawn being busy with school."

"And you?"

"I'm good." Oz lit another joint. "Been pretty much travelling since you last saw me. Seen the world." He took a long draw, then handed the joint to Giles. "Maybe I should have said goodbye to you before I left."

Giles took a draw, and tried to rearrange the words of Oz's last statement. There seemed to be layers of meaning beneath the obvious. He took another draw, and blew the smoke slowly towards Oz.

Who moved closer.

They had done this before, often enough, but Oz had always had Willow then, and Giles had reminded himself every time that it was just a blow-back. This time, though, there was no reason not to kiss Oz. Giles pulled Oz closer still, and dropped the joint into the ashtray to smoulder out.

Finally it was more than just a blow-back.



Disclaimer: I don't know nearly enough about The Cramps, or psychobilly, but the title is from an album by the aforementioned group.