Disclaimers: Not mine (sigh). They are owned by a bunch of people I could not name even if I tried nor do I want to name them lest they show up. I gain nothing but pleasure from writing. No copyright infringement intended. Yes, writing is therapy for me.
Summary: They roadtrip together and drink some beer and talk.
Warnings: drunken games? Some angst, a little violence.
A New Start and Some Fun and Games by Voracity
Xander dropped his keys into Angel's hand, grabbing his last bag.
"Cd's, book, and tea?" Oz asked.
The younger man nodded. "And the emergency clothes, kit, and wallet." He set it down, looking through it. "Or not." He looked in the window of his car, then around the parking garage. "Damn."
The older man walked up behind him. "I see it."
Xander patted his back pocket then shook his head, still looking. "The stash, not that one." Oz nodded as he headed back to the pile of stuff, getting into the bags of supplies. He held it up, waving it, making his friend sigh in relief. "Thanks," he said, putting it into the bag he held.
"Tea." He pointed at the container, picking it up, shaking it. "Empty." He handed the Garfield box over to its rightful owner.
Xander nodded. "I should pick some up, just in case, but I'm trying not to use it." He dropped it into the bag and made one last check before rezipping it. "Grab the cd in the player and we're set."
The older man took the disk out, looking at it as he locked and closed the doors and trunk. "Wondered where this went."
Xander blushed. "Sorry, I needed a reminder of home to pull me back." He looked down as the other man passed, but only grunted at the pat to his arm. "You sure you don't mind?"
"Yup, stole your t-shirt for the same reason." He got in, waiting until he was joined. "Same as Will did."
Xander grinned. "Wondered where my Looney Tunes shirts were." He watched as the cd was popped in. "Which one did you take?"
"The one you took off that night." Oz started the van. "Ready?"
"Yeah, more than." He relaxed into the seat, comfortable and at ease for the first time in weeks.
Oz looked at the historical building then at his traveling companion. "Bored?"
Xander nodded, turning with a small twinkle. "Let's do this our way." He pulled out a quarter. "East or west?"
"North. 'Frisco and the music festival."
Xander nodded, putting the coin back. "Okay, I'm not gonna argue with that. Lots of fun and stuff." He waved a hand at the van. "Your turn so lead on."
The older man shook his head, starting the short walk back. "All right, but you do the highway stuff." He got in, frowning at the cd being slipped stealthily in. "Pink Floyd?"
"Calming mood music?"
Oz snorted, starting the van. "Yeah, if you're high." He pulled away from the building. "Much better," he sighed as they hit the road again.
"Yeah, mostly," Xander said, pulling off his shirt and rolling down the window, something he'd recently discovered he liked. "Now better."
"You're becoming stranger. Congratulations." He patted the bare arm at the next stop sign. "Welcome to individualism."
Xander grinned, a happy look to say the least. "Thanks. It feels good." He frowned momentarily. "Just don't make me give it up at home."
Oz grunted. "Probably should call and tell them we exist." He tapped the wheel in time with the music.
The younger man covered his face and groaned. "Tell me you didn't leave without telling anyone." He uncovered an eye as he turned to look at his silent friend. "Oz? A word in your defense here, maybe?"
"Buffy told me so probably told them too." He pulled over. "Your turn, this always makes me nap."
He grinned as they switched places. "The music or the interstate?"
"Both." He buckled up, tipping the seat back. "Just don't get a ticket. They ruin fun times."
"Gee, Oz," Xander said as he pulled back out, "you sound like you have personal experience in that area." The infectious grin got bigger.
The older man grinned, eyes still closed. "In many areas." He shifted some, getting more comfortable.
None of the people at the table looked up as the phone rang but they all smiled at the happy, drunk sounding, joint, "We exist!" that was the message, followed by Xander giggles.
Buffy looked at Willow. "Sounds like they're having fun."
Willow nodded. "Whole lots." She turned a page. "We should go on one next."
"No," Giles said simply.
Xander was still giggling as he hung up. "Okay, we discharged that duty. Now what?" He bounced slightly.
"Let's go have some fun," Oz said, leading him back to the van.
"But the bar kicked us out and we can't go back, like ever." He pouted slightly. "And that was our budgeted fun."
Oz got in, watching as his friend did the same. "There's plenty of fun things." He looked around the campground. "Just not here." He patted his pockets for the keys. "Uh-oh. We can't go." He giggled and immediately covered his mouth. "Forget you heard that."
"Heard what?" Xander turned, almost falling over.
"You're a real friend." The older man patted his arm. "Hey, you're wearing a shirt. Why?"
"Had to so we could get in," Xander explained patiently. His face lit up. "Let's play a game since you lost the keys."
"Did not. Just misplaced."
"Did too. They're kept right there," he poked at the slightly worn spot on the front of his friend's jeans, "and now they're not. Hence, they're lost."
Oz shook his head. "Put them in the other pocket." He pushed his hips up. "Tha's something else." He drank from his can of beer.
The older man rolled his eyes. "Me," he said, patiently, handing over the can.
"Oh." Xander took a drink and scrunched up his face. "Huh?" He handed back the can, bending over to look at where his hand was. "Hi me," he said, waving at it, earning him a groan. He looked up into the amused expression. "You should always greet new things. A *teacher* told me that."
Oz started to laugh. "You met that part of me before."
He still looked confused. "I did, when?" He leaned back over to poke it again. "I think it's dead. It's not moving." He heard the amused groan so tried to look up from where he was leaning but fell over, his chin landing across the lump. "Oops, I fell." He giggled, scratching his head on the warm belt. "Hey, um, Oz, if I've met that me thing, shouldn't I remember it?"
The older man rubbed across his face, shaking his head. "You met him, just not like that." He killed the beer can, bending down to grab another. Or tried to anyway. "Xan, you gotta move. I need beer more than I do you rubbing me."
Xander sat up, pouting. "But I was comfortable. Didn't you like me being comfortable?"
Oz nodded, opening the new beer to take a sip. "Very much." He sighed as the warm weight returned and his free hand was put into the dark hair.
"I deserve rubbies for making me get up from my comfortable spot." He rubbed the side of his head against the tight stomach. "Don't you like?" He rolled his head to the thigh side, looking up into the bright eyes. "You okay?" His breathing went across the tender flesh he'd been laying on, waking it up more. "Oh, look. Me's awake." The man attached to it groaned. "Wha's wrong Oz?"
"Nothing," he said, rubbing through the soft hair. "You need to find a different comfortable spot though. Something might happen if you don't."
"Xander, take a deep breath and think. Use that brain of yours."
"But it's small." He grunted at the short hair pull. "It is. I'm not Willow. I'm a Xander."
Oz nodded. "Yeah, you're a Xander and Xander's can do things Willow's can't." He put down the beer, using both hands in the younger man's hair now. "Do you know what you're doing now?"
"Wanting to nap and cuddle you?" was the quiet reply, bringing a small smile out on his friend's face. "You look good like that. You should smile more."
"They're like diamonds. I keep them rare to make them more special."
"They're all special to me." He grinned at the renewed groaning. "Oz?"
"Hmm?" He was busy watching his fingers play.
"Why don't you like me like I do you."
"I do but I have to worry about Willow."
"But we love her too." He tried to sit up but was stopped. "Can't I hug you?"
"In a minute. I'm enjoying you in your comfortable spot." He played for a few more minutes. "Okay, now you can move."
"You have a regular cuddle source," he said, crawling into the tense lap, "but I have to do something specific and stupendous to even get a hug. I'm jealous." He wrapped his arms around the tense body. "Can I hug you?"
"All you have to do is ask." He held on tightly, letting the younger body relax against him. "What's really wrong," he asked after a few minutes of intense hugs.
"Just wanted to know why you don't like me, then I wanted a hug before you left me." He pulled back, falling back onto the floor. "See, no bad."
Oz shook his head then decided to make his point in a way the younger man would understand. He stood up, walking back to their sleeping bags. "Xan, come here." When it wasn't automatic he turned to see the hurt look. "Hey, I'm still here, I just couldn't sit up anymore." He patted the air mattress beside him. "Come here, wanna talk to you."
Xander crawled back slowly. "Not going?"
"No, not even at home." He waited until the tense body was starting to relax. "I'm not leaving you. Yeah, I have a regular source of cuddles but if you asked so would you."
He sniffled. "You should go home to her. She'll cuddle and love you." He shifted away, pulling the blankets up over his head.
Oz pulled the coverings away. "You have someone to do that too." He saw the head shake. "Yeah, you do." He shifted closer at the next shake. "Yeah, you do. If you'd ask, I would hug you and so would Willow. Buffy and Giles would if you'd ask too I bet." He moved closer. "Would you like one now?" He saw the nod so opened his arms. "Okay." He sighed as his body was pressed against, it just felt so right. He wrapped them up in the blanket, cocooning the tired body, rocking them for his comfort.
"We need more beer." The older man laughed. "I'm getting sad and I need more beer." He moved back. "Thanks."
"What friends are for." He sat up, grinning. "There's an open can on the console and the rest of the case is in the box. Bring it back and we'll relax while we get sloshed." He watched as his friend crawled forward, dragging back the bag in his teeth. "St. Bernard?" he guessed.
Xander grinned, dropping the bag. "Nope, just me." He sipped the open can then handed it over. "Okay, I'm happier now. I've had hugs and I'm happy now."
Oz grinned, finishing the can. "Yeah, me too. I feel like I've done some good."
"Hugging me was good?"
"Yeah, it was a good." He moaned low as the head hit its comfortable spot again. "Comfy?"
"Yeah," he sighed. He went back to looking up but talking into the firm stomach. "Am I okay?"
"Yeah." He shifted. "Oh, yeah. Just fine."
"Oh, me's back," Xander said happily. He patted it. "Hi again me!" He looked up. "He's happy too I bet. He likes me."
"Very much." Oz went back to his hair rubbing, watching the patterns he was creating and destroying. "We should do something besides drink tonight. Life's too short to waste on just being drunk."
"Game?" came the happy suggestion.
"Don't have any and I refuse to play a drinking one. Nope, no hospitals for me tonight." He finished the beer, pushing the bag around with his foot until he could grab another.
"Girls always have cool non-drinking and non-board games." He pouted briefly then smiled. "Willow always used to play Truth or Dare." Oz choked so Xander patted his chest. "You okay in there?"
"Yeah," the older man said, catching his breath. "You know that game's dangerous, right?" He felt the shake. "I mean really dangerous."
Xander looked around. "Vampires and demons gonna come? 'Cause I'll slay 'em for you if ya want." He blinked his big brown eyes in the dim light.
Oz shook his head. "No monsters, not that sort of danger. Ruining things sort of danger." He finished off that can quickly.
"Please?" the younger man begged. "I'll ask the easy stuff."
Oz relented with his eighth beer full of the night. "All right." He looked around them then at the man on his lap. "We need light and you gotta get up."
The younger man pouted but moved, pulling over one of their candles in a pail that they'd made at the Children's museum that morning. He lit it, grinning. "Okay?" The older man nodded so he got comfy again. "Who goes first?"
"You, your game."
"Okay!" He shifted. "Truth or Dare?"
"Why do you play in Dingoes instead of elsewhere?"
"We fit. The ideals and styles and stuff. Truth or Dare?"
"Truth," he said decisively.
"What did you want to be when you grew up?"
"You." He grinned. "The lead guitarist that was always so cool that everyone liked." He saw the small grin. "Okay enough?"
Xander scrunched up his face. "What're you majoring in?"
"Hmm, not. Undecided." He could see the faint pout. "Still have to pick between stuff I like."
"Oh." He paused, thinking. "Okay. Truth."
Oz took a sip then handed the can over. "Why aren't you coming with us?"
"Not smart enough." He felt the foot nudge. "Well, I'm not."
The older man nodded. "Okay, you're gonna go soon, right?"
"Maybe." He shrugged. "I'm not a school sort of person. Truth or Dare?"
"Nice change but truth."
"What're you getting Willow for her birthday? I'm not sure what to get her."
"Hmm, I was thinking a special night." He looked across the twin lights at the dark eyes. "I'll help you."
"'Kay, thanks." He stole back the beer. "Truth."
"You know, this game is no fun without dares."
"I thought you were supposed to take those when you didn't want to answer."
"Point." He paused. "What's your favorite fantasy present?"
"Anything?" He saw the nod so scrunched back up his face to think. "Um, my own personal cuddle type person that I could wake up next to every morning." He grinned. "Silly huh?"
"Not really. We all wish for that one special person." He stole the newly opened can. "Truth."
"Turn the question and answer it."
"This is it. The chance to be myself without recriminations forever." He drank some and handed it back.
Xander shook his head. "Na-uh, gotta be something you don't have."
"I don't have that. There are still people that have expectations."
"Yeah, and you too." He saw the emphatic head shaking. "Yes you do."
"Na-uh, I only expect you to be Oz."
"But who's Oz?"
Xander squinted. "Well, he looks like you and he does what he wants and he lives a great life with people who want him." He handed back the can of beer.
Oz shook his head. "That's the fairytale. I still have parents that nag and Willow, who's a supreme nag sometimes, and you guys who all expect me to be... me. Sometimes I just wanna laugh and be free, like we are together."
"Make ya a deal," Xander said happily. "You cuddle me and I'll let you be whoever you want to be with me."
The older man nodded. "Okay..." He took a big drink. "Truth?"
"Yeah, safer." He grinned, wiggling.
"What's the wildest thing you've ever done?"
"Dare," he said, blushing and stealing back the can to cover it.
Oz grinned. "I'm gonna make it horrible now, you've piqued my curiosity."
"Dare," Xander said again.
"Wipe your butt and lick your hand."
"Ewww!" The younger man shuddered. "Fine!" He made a gross face. "That was so sick." He pouted but moved closer. "While I was in New York I went clubbing so ran out of money. This guy offered me a daylong job doing...," he finished off the can, "as a, um," the blush got brighter. "Dare!" He reached for his belt.
Oz stopped the hands, holding them. "I'm not going to be upset or grossed. Just tell me."
"I...helped on a movie set," he confessed in a whisper. "Porn movie set."
"Whoa," Oz said, pulling away some. "Guys or girls?"
"Girls." He didn't look at his friend. "You can't tell Will, she'll hate me. Like forever sort of hate. She'd chop me up into pieces and feed me to some mean dog."
The older man pulled him into a hug. "I won't let her make you puppy food. That is so cool," he whispered into a bright pink ear. "I never coulda done that. So out of character for you."
Xander looked up. "Promise?"
"Very promised. She'll never hear it from me." He grinned. "What did you do?"
"Lube for close-up wet shots and helping and stuff."
"You fluffed," he accused with a bigger grin. It got bigger at the embarrassed head shake. "Yeah, you did!" He tickled the tense body. "Yeah, you did, didn't you?"
Xander nodded, blushing so red you couldn't see another color on his face. "Yeah," he admitted. He looked up. "You won't tell?"
"Xan, we've had almost a case of beer between us. I might not remember this." He moved back to his former position. "Truth?" The younger man wiggled his eyebrows and started to grin, downing the next can of beer all by himself in one swallow. "Ah, well, same here, gotta not tell Wills." The younger man nodded. "I borrowed a camcorder and recorded us a few times." He finished the can he held. "Including one while she slept."
Xander choked. "You didn't!" He saw the uncharacteristic blush. "Oh, Oz, man, I won't tell. Not even if you let mine slip." He patted the tense hand. "Your secret's safe man. I'll even help you hide them."
Oz choked. "In your stuff? Did you know she went through your stash of magazines while you were gone?"
Xander nodded. "Figures." He saw the confused look. "After that spell?"
The older man shook his head. "No, doesn't surprise me either once you put it into that context." He tossed over a new can of beer. "Your turn."
"Truth." He popped it open and sucked at the foam when it tried to spill over.
The older man groan groaned as he watched the tongue working over the can, becoming just a little happier at the sight. "Have you been doing...that with another guy?"
Xander grinned. "Danced with one but I wasn't comfortable." He took a drink and handed the can back. "How about you?"
"Aw, spoil sport." He though for a second. "You really don't want to share how you knew what to do?" He saw the head shake. "Okay. Strip."
Oz raised an eyebrow. "We're playing strip Truth or Dare?"
"No, that's your Dare."
"Too easy." He pulled off his clothes, getting into some strange positions to do so. He looked over to see his friend watching and panting. "Liking it?"
"Very. Nice show." He shook his head, looking into the amused face. "Um, truth?"
He thought for most of the can then handed it over. "Who's the one person you wished had slept with you in High School?"
"Hmm, hard. Just one?" He saw the tolerant nod. "You sure you want to hear this?"
"Xander, it's not like you're gonna say me." He saw the blanch and watched the hasty retreat from the vehicle. "Xander!" He pulled on his clothes, running after the younger man. "Xander! Wait!" He caught up with him at the edge of the real woods, not the safe one where the van was. He grabbed the tense arm, turning him around then he saw the pain so pulled him close, wiping off his face. "It's not safe to run around out here. Come back and talk to me."
Xander pulled away, walking backwards. "I'd rather be eaten." He turned, walking deeper into the woods.
Oz followed him, stopping him again. "I'm honored, really. I'm *not* mad." He rubbed over the chilled flesh. "Come back. We'll get more drunk."
The younger man shook his head. "I can't take any more. You already know too much."
"Not really. Well that one thing but I didn't hear that last answer so we're fine." He pulled them down the trampled path, getting them both back to the van. He locked the door as he climbed in then stripped. "I believe it was your turn and we're both much too sober." He moved the candle so he could see the reclining man as he lay next to him. "Truth or Dare?"
"I answered last," Xander pointed out, sucking down another beer - his second in under five minutes.
"I'm ignoring that. It never happened." He pulled away the newest can. "Slow down, I need more too."
"We have four cases still," the younger man pointed out. "Truth."
"Do you still love her?"
Xander groaned, covering his eyes. "Do you need that answered?"
"Will wanted me to ask." He grinned as one eye reappeared. "She found one of your postcards so asked me."
"She's getting freaky in her old age."
"She's exploring all her facets." He finished the can. "She hates not knowing things."
"Ah, yeah, that's our Wills." He looked into the lighter eyes, seeing the acceptance. "Yeah, I do. Probably always will." He grinned at the hug. "No punchies?"
"Only in fun and play." He pulled back, after rubbing against the clothed chest to get another beer. "Truth."
"Are you gonna marry her?"
"Not unless she proposes." He grinned and moved a little closer. "Truth or dare?" he whispered.
"How drunk are you now?"
The younger man grinned. "Not that drunk. It's only been," he counted on his fingers, "thirteen halves and three fulls." He grinned harder. "Not drunk enough to talk to me again."
"Do something, here and now, that you've wanted to do for a while."
Oz leaned close. "You gotta pick harder dares, Xan, this is way to easy. He made it a slow and gentle kiss and was grinning as he pulled back. "Truth or dare?" he said softly.
Xander was still panting, looking at him. He grabbed the can, drinking it and another before answering. "Dare. I need an example."
"Strip and lay on your comfortable spot again."
"I'm not that drunk yet."
"I'll make the question terrible." He grinned as the dare was followed, with much put upon sighing in mock aggravation. "You comfy?"
Xander got himself accustomed to where he was laying so he wouldn't blush when he answered by taking deep sniffs of the flesh he was laying on. "Yeah, nice and comfy. Just a little cold." He wiggled up to grab a blanket, pulling it over his bare body. "Better. Truth or dare?"
"Um, truth." He opened another can to take a drink.
"Do you like me laying like this?" He rubbed over the tense stomach as Oz choked. "You okay still?"
"Dare," Oz moaned.
"Nope, no dare attached here. Want an answer." Xander sat up, taking the can of beer and drinking it mostly down. "Do you?"
"Xander, I wouldn't have dared you to do that if I didn't like it. It's just complicated for me right now." He took back the can, swallowing the last few drops. "Mean, you drank it all."
"Yeah, but you needed the sobering time." He grinned, scooting around to face his friend again. "Maybe you should wait on the next one, Oz. We're both pretty drunk."
"Pretty drunk is good after that question." He pulled out another can but it was taken from him. "Hey, I bought it." He frowned at the hand holding the beer. "Give it back."
"No, take a break. I'm more sober and you're sloshed." He set the can behind him, jumping a little as the cool metal touched his bare back. He grabbed the hands coming around to get it back, holding them in his, entwining their fingers. "Oz, man, drop the beer for a few minutes. Talk to me."
"I can't, all right?" he yelled. He started to stand up but hit his head on the roof, making him sit back down hard. "Ouch." He scowled at the younger teen. "See what you made me do?"
"Oz, you need some sober time." He tilted his head a little and tried to reach for their bond. //See? Your mind's fuzzy. I don't want to hurt her again.// He scratched his chest, not watching the eyes following his hand. "Oz? You still in there?"
"Yeah, I am. And while that makes sense, I'm not caring here at the moment." He looked into the deep brown eyes and smiled. "If you can rationalize that well, you're way too sober and so am I since I could get that out." He grabbed for the rest of the box but it was pulled away from him, making him growl. "Xander," he warned, "it's dangerous to get between a drunk and his drink."
The younger teen raised a brow. "It's more dangerous to do what we both wanted to happen," he said softly. "I was *way* too close to that point again and I promised myself I wouldn't." He reached behind himself, pulling out the hidden can and handing it over. "Here, I'm going to nap this off." He wrapped the blanket tighter around him as he lay down, closing his eyes. //Night, Oz. Sleep safe.//
Oz grunted, watching him. //You too. Sorry.//
Xander sat up and frowned at him. "It wasn't you, it was my head that started it." He leaned closer to Oz's head. "I might want, and want badly, but I won't let it happen. I promised *myself* not to." He brushed through the red hair on his friend, letting his fingers play for a few seconds. "I really did want, but I can't."
"I know," Oz sighed, getting dressed, laying down and pulling the younger teen down with him. "I just wanted to have some fun and then you become all responsibility guy again." He closed his eyes. "No fun at all."
"Yeah, but she'll yell at me," Xander whispered, laying back down and rewrapping himself in the blanket.
Oz woke up and looked around the back of the van rubbing his eyes. It was still dark, he could tell that much, but he didn't know what time it was since his watch was missing. He looked at his friend, who was snoring lightly beside his ear, then at the open case of beer. "Not a good," he whispered. It got an arm flung over him and a cuddly bed monster growing into his friend's body. He turned onto his side, rubbing over the younger teen's stubbled jaw. "Xan?" he whispered.
"Shhh." One eye opened and looked at him. "No more beer for you, she'll kill me." The eye closed and he was back to snoring in no time.
Oz snuggled down into the warm but bare chest, trying to recall the earlier part of the night. Most everything was a blank, but he could see disjointed fragments of a run through the woods and them in the back of the van drinking. And Xander laying his head on his thigh, talking to his... "Hell," he muttered. "She'll kill me."
"I let you get that drunk, she'll kill me. I'll become mean doggy food. Now sleep, I already have elephants in my head, don't need Oz's riding them." The strong arms wrapped around him, making him snuggle in harder. "Thank you. Now sleep, it's way early."
"Night, man. I'll protect you," Oz whispered. He grinned at the snort.
"No one's coming in. All the vamps were downtown. Sleep Oz, you're driving in the morning." He rolled to his other side, resting the older teen's chin on his shoulder as his naked rear dug into the covered groin. The older man's groan vibrated through his head, making him grab it and move away some. He fought a brief war for the blanket then won when Oz realized he was naked underneath it. Really naked. "Night," he sighed finally, heading back to that perfect state of sleep where everything is clear and the dreams have meaning.
Oz lay there and tried to figure out what happened. Why had he been running through the woods? Why was Xander naked? Why wasn't he? He looked down at himself just to make sure but he was even wearing his shoes. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift back into the dream state again. Now if only the naked Xanders running through his head would go away.
Xander moaned as he was nudged. "Better be death worthy," he muttered. He sat up and looked around the back of the van, seeing his friend holding out a cup of... "Coffee, man you are a god." He sipped the strong, bitter brew, burning his tongue but who cared, it was coffee. He took the little packet of painkillers with a nod of thanks, swallowing them quickly. //How's your head?// he sent over their link.
"Don't ask." Oz crawled to the front and retrieved the keys from the floor. "Want breakfast or just the road?"
"Shower first?" He finished the coffee and set the cup into the plastic bag for trash. "I smell gross." He sniffed at his armpit and made a face. "See?" Oz nodded so he pulled on some mostly clean sweats and got out, carrying the little plastic bag of shower stuff. He was happily soaping his chest when the first call came to him.
//Hurry up, we'll get stuck in traffic.//
//Five minutes, Oz. I'm almost done.// He hurried up, rinsing off quickly. He was getting dressed as the next one came.
//It's been ten.//
//Try two and I'm putting on my shoes.// He made sure he had all the stuff then jogged out to the van, getting in the back so he could get dressed. //What's the rush? I thought we were staying for another day?// Xander pulled on a t-shirt and got into his seat as the older teen started the van. "Oz? What's wrong?" He touched his friend's arm but it flinched away from him. "What did I do?" he asked, looking straight out the front window.
"Not you, me." He pulled out, heading down the circular drive to the entrance. "I just don't want to be here anymore. And the music yesterday sucked."
"I thought your favorite band played today."
"Just drop it!" Oz yelled. He pulled over, turning off the van so he could face the younger man. "We made a huge mistake last night and I don't even know what and I don't want to be here anymore. Is that too much to ask?"
Xander shook his head, looking at him for the first time. "Nothing happened," he whispered. "I stopped it and went to sleep." He saw the head shake. "What do you remember? 'Cause I remember everything and nothing happened." He took a deep breath. "We got really drunk, played some Truth or Dare, I took a run through the woods over a question I didn't want to answer that you guessed at, and then we drank some more before I stopped everything and went to bed. Nothing happened." He went back to his looking out the front window.
"You were *naked* when I woke up."
"Don't give me that. You were *naked*!" He threw up his hands when there wasn't an answer. "Maybe this wasn't a great idea."
"Then let's head back to LA and I'll get my car and continue for a while and you'll go home." Xander unbuckled and walked into the back of the van, straightening up and gathering his stuff back into the bags. "I'm sorry, if I'd known I'd never have suggested we drink or play that game." He didn't stop when the van was started again, just deflated the air mattress and rolled it up, getting everything tidy again.
The silence lasted all of half an hour before Oz pulled into a cheap looking diner and turned the van off. "Breakfast?" he asked.
"Not really. Don't have the money for it." He looked over his shoulder from his intense rearranging of his stuff. "I'm sorry, for what it's worth."
The older teen walked back to sit beside him. "Let's go eat. I'll treat and we'll figure out where to go next." He opened the back door, getting out and turning to watch his friend come after him. They walked inside, still quiet, and sat down across from each other in a booth against the back wall. "This wasn't a mistake." He started to tap the table when the snort came. "It's not. The drinking was a mistake. The roadtrip is a great idea." He picked up a menu when the waitress came by to check on them and give them water. He ordered a light breakfast for both of them, respecting the silence between them.
"I'm sorry, I overreacted," Oz said after the breakfast had come and been eaten.
Xander looked up, shaking his head. "The beer was my idea." He drank the last of his water and reached for wallet but his other hand was grabbed. "No, I should pay my own half."
"I said my treat." Oz pulled out his wallet, putting a few bills on the table and stood up. "Come on, let's go find a nice scenic place to fight in." He walked back to the van, expecting to be followed. When he got his door open and realized there was nobody with him he started back toward the inside, only to have his friend walk out into him. "You okay?"
"Yeah, pit stop." Xander got into his seat and pulled out the brochure they'd gotten yesterday of nice sights to visit, flipping it to the listing. "There's a scenic overlook a few miles away," he said, showing the map off.
"I know someplace better." Oz started the van and pulled out of the parking lot, heading for the highway.
Oz pulled onto the ferry and parked, turning to his friend. "Now, neither of us can do more than wander the ship for the next hour or so." He saw the hurt look and shook his head. "We both agree the beer was a bad idea, right?" A silent nod. "And that the game got out of hand?"
"I didn't mean for it to. My questions didn't stay as innocent as I wanted." Xander closed his eyes, leaning the seat back so he could relax. "You should just drop me off in LA on the way home so I can go on alone and you go back to her." He winced as his arm was punched. "You promised not to do that last night."
"Yeah and you promised to talk to me." He turned his chair around, looking at his friend. "What really happened?"
"I got personal with your thigh, got naked as a dare, and you found out some embarrassing stuff. You told me something I'll take to my grave, asked me a few questions I didn't want to answer and told me I could have hugs whenever I needed one." He rolled his head to the side, looking at his friend. "I stopped it before anything happened. I don't want her to kill me."
"She'd blame me," he reasoned.
"She'd blame me. She does for what happened between us." His head went back to its facing upwards position, eyes closed again. "I'm not doing that again. Beat me with something if I suggest that I want to do that again."
"Sure. I'll pick up a broom or a feather duster or something." He grinned at the snort. "Why are we fighting if nothing happened?"
"Because it was close. I stopped me from doing something bad." He sighed, getting more comfortable by wiggling into the seat. "You don't know what I wanted but I wanted it so bad. It was like a craving." He yawned. "Where does this go anyway?"
"Around the bay to all the little islands. Dev and I took it last time we were up for the festival."
Xander looked at his watch. "Your favorite band's going on in two hours. You should go."
"No, I should be on a bus to LA to go get my car. You should have happy times still." He moved away from the punch this time, staring hard at his friend. "Don't do it again, Oz. Never." He closed his eyes again.
Oz got frustrated, and irritated. "If something had happened last night, would it have been rape?" He raised an eyebrow at the shocked look. "If I hadn't wanted it, it would have, right?" A short nod. "And you wouldn't have done that, right?" Another nod. "And was it even close?"
"No," Xander said. He shook his head. "I know we both wanted it but I can't let her be hurt like that again."
"That's my job," he muttered, leaning closer. "Let me worry about what she'll say and you just worry about you." Xander got up, heading for the back door and getting out before he could get close enough to prove his point. He slammed the door of the van as he got out to follow. "What?" he yelled. "What did I say now?"
"How about that it's not my job to care about what she thinks? Does this mean she's not allowed to be my friend anymore?" He spun around, heading for the small lounge area. He didn't expect to be shoved up against the bulkhead by an enraged Oz. "Do you want me to leave when we get back? Never go near her again? 'Cause I can do that if it's what you really want."
"No, I want this *shit* to stop here and now!" He slapped his hand against the metal, right beside the younger man's head. "I meant that it's my job to soothe her when she gets upset over me. Not yours, not Buffy's, mine." He stepped back. "I don't want you to leave her alone anymore than you'd actually do it." He saw the hurt look. "Don't even try it. You're her best friend and it's not happening." He turned, walking back to the van. "Come on. We need to talk."
Xander looked around, seeing the people watching him with obvious pity in their eyes. "Best friends on a road trip," he muttered, heading back to the van. He got into the back, hiding from the windows. "Do you know how much you just embarrassed me?" he asked softly. "How they looked at me when you did that?" He looked up to see confusion. "They think I'm your abused boyfriend now." He looked back down at the rolled eyes. "And I feel like it too."
Oz moved to the back to sit across from him. "You're not. Either actually." He looked at the light red mark he'd caused earlier on the younger teen's arm. "Okay, well maybe the abused part but I don't usually do that either." He saw the small nod. "Listen, I never meant it to sound like that. You're her friend, her best friend, but it's my job to worry about what she'll say." He moved a little closer when there was no answer. "She won't blame you, mostly because she won't know we had this fight, but she won't."
"We called them last night." He looked up. "And I'm supposed to worry what she'll say too. It's part of the friend's part." He looked around the back of the van. "I'm sorry."
"For?" He was really confused now. "You didn't do anything besides get upset because I was stupid."
"No, I shouldn't have done that. Running doesn't solve this." He looked at his friend then back at the carpet. "You should go listen to the music while I run around the city. It'll give us a chance to think."
"No, it'll give you another chance to run." Oz moved closer, taking a tense hand in his. "Xan, I never meant that. Yeah, you have as much right to be upset as I do." He touched the red mark, seeing the flinch. "And I'm sorry I hit you earlier. That was way out of line." He got a small nod. "What do you want to do?"
"Nothing." He looked up, shaking his head. "Go listen to them. You said you never get to hear them play." He wiggled back some, sitting against the wall of the van and taking his hand back. "Just drop me off downtown somewhere and I'll ride the trolleys and stuff." He looked out the front window. "Pretty," he said, pointing.
"Yeah," Oz said after glancing at the view. "But you always had that on me." He moved closer again. "Why are we fighting?"
"Because I'm a stupid and stubborn..." He never got the rest of the statement out, the hand covering his mouth cutting off all avenues of breathing.
"No, you're not." He removed the hand when the younger man's face started to turn red. "Quit that. You did that last night too."
"It's what I've been trained to do." He moved to the side, putting some more distance between them. "Maybe this was a bad idea all around."
"No, drinking was a bad idea all around. I liked everything up until this morning."
"We've only been gone two days."
"Yeah, but it's been okay so far." He looked out the front window. "Did you want to see any of the sights out here?"
"No, you need to get back to listen to them." He looked up, seeing the few people standing in front of the van. "People," he said, pointing.
"Let 'em watch," he muttered. Oz stood up, moving back to his seat. "Come talk to me. We need to get this worked out."
"No, you need to...."
"Xander, I mean it, come talk to me," he said calmly, stopping himself from yelling. He waited until the younger teen was beside him again. "Do I do that a lot? I've never noticed it." He got a confused look so he nodded at the red mark.
Xander shook his head. "No, you usually don't bother to touch me at all and I never hear you yell. I think this is actually our second fight." He sighed, leaning back. "Can we get off so they quit staring at me like I'm some puppy that just got beaten?"
Oz checked his watch. "Twenty minutes." He looked out the window and flipped them off, making the people frown but walk away talking about them. "Better?"
"Xan?" he asked softly. "Am I really that hard to get along with?"
"Just this morning," was muttered around the yawn. "No more beer for you, naughty Oz." He turned his head to grin, a little. "Some separate activities might be good though. Give you a chance to go do the music thing that I don't want to see." He shuddered. "Punk is not my thing."
"I noticed yesterday." He rubbed down the hurt arm. "I am sorry about that. You were right to call me on it."
"Never do it again," he said, firmly. "If it does, you'll be getting it back."
"I don't think you'd even bruise me." He watched as the t-shirt was pulled up, showing off a few old scars. "Damn, I didn't realize."
"And you still don't. I'm just taking off my shirt again." He tossed it toward the back of the van then looked down at them. "Most days I cover them with some good makeup stuff." He looked over to see his friend tracing a long cut with his eyes. "That was from fighting. This one," he said as he pointed at a group of small scars, "was a misguided attempt to straighten me out."
"Xander, I didn't...."
"Shut up, Oz!" He looked into the older teen's eyes. "You still don't know, don't even think about saying it. You'll never know because I'm not telling *anyone*. But if you *ever* hit me again without good reason, you'll wish you hadn't met me. Got it?"
"Very understood." He looked out the window at the regrouping people. "Might want to go get that on again, people are back." He snorted as the younger man flipped them off. "Well, you showed them." He looked back at his friend, seeing him looking down at the marks. "Where's the stuff you use to cover it? I'll go get it."
"No, sometimes it's good to look at them." He looked up. "I've stayed around Willow all this time because she didn't judge me. Even when we fought, she didn't judge. No slurs during our fights, no harshness beyond the cold shoulder. That's what I want in a friend." He got up, grabbing his shirt from where he'd thrown it, then sat down in front of the bags of stuff, searching for his little zippered bag that held the cover-up in it. He looked over his shoulder but Oz was looking out the front window, giving him some privacy. He covered them quickly before changing clothes and taking his seat back. "How long before we reach the city?"
"Um," Oz checked his watch, "about half an hour. We just passed the last island on the return." He looked over at the younger man. "Can we keep going, minus the beer?"
"If you think you can handle it." He looked over. "Just forget it, Oz. It never happened, none of this morning or last night." He looked back out the front window, taking a deep breath. "So, when and where are you going to pick me up?"
"How about in front of that chocolate place you wanted to visit and around one? The band I want to see gets off at eleven and I can make it down there by then."
"Sure, I can do that." He looked down at his watch, his reminder of his time in that little town up north. "If this stays right."
"It should. It wasn't made there." Oz leaned over to look at it then at his. "Forget it, I'm wrong again. It's way off." The older teen's watch was taken off and handed over. "You'll need it."
"I can ask." Xander moved some of the red hair around, grinning. "Just stick it somewhere and we'll show it to Giles when we get there."
"Sure," Oz said, grinning himself now that everything was okay again.
Oz looked at his watch again then at the big clock he was parked beside. He checked the street but Xander wasn't anywhere to be found. He was about ready to go to the bus station and look for him there when the younger man jogged up to him on an obvious sugar high. The older man raised an eyebrow but got into the van, buckling up. "Have fun?" he asked, once he was joined.
"Yup, lots of yummies in there." He pulled a small box out from under his t-shirt, handing it over. "Thought you'd like something from there." He watched, biting his lip, as his friend opened it.
Oz pulled out the small image of two people with their arms around each other that had been carved out of chocolate. "Wow, it's us." He turned to look at him. "Thanks." He slid it back into the box, putting it into the cooler between the seats so it didn't melt. He didn't even flinch as the other candy bars joined it. "How much did you spend?"
"I won it. They had this cool drawing thing and I won!" Xander bounced a little in happiness. "I got mail order certificates for a gift basket a month and a few days worth of candy since I don't live around here."
"Hmm, sounds like you had tons of fun." He started the van, pulling out into the heavy traffic. "Where to now?"
"Not a clue, just head somewhere." Xander leaned the seat back, closing his eyes, blocking out his morning. "How was the music?"
"Pretty good. They switched bassists, which sucked, but it was all right." He pulled off onto an interstate on ramp, speeding up. "What else did you do?"
"I saw where they made it and I went to a few other stores to get some touristy stuff to send back and a postcard for them too." He took a deep breath. "And I called Giles to tell him about that little town and Mary and stuff and he's really pissed I gave her his number." Oz just nodded. "Like gonna cast a spell of mass destruction on the van sort of pissed." He left out what else he'd done, not wanting to get into that issue again or the other incident.
"Figures but he'll deal." He pulled off at the next exit, heading to the little truck stop. "You need food to fix the sugar high," he said as the stopped the van.
"But I *feel* good."
"You had how many candy bars?"
Oz snorted. "Would that be dozen or boxes?" He turned off the engine, looking over at his friend. "Besides, I'm hungry and we're out of the lunch type stuff."
"Why didn't you say something? I could have gotten us something while you musiced." Xander got out, slamming the door. He walked around to the front of the van, waiting. When he wasn't joined, he knocked on the hood. "Oz?" he called. "Food? You were hungry, remember?"
The older teen nodded, getting out. "Yeah, I was." He stopped him from going inside, pulling him off to the side of the door. "Xan, look at your arm," he said quietly, raising the sleeve a little to look at it closer. "I think I really hurt you."
"I'm fine," he sighed, heading for the door. He walked over to a secluded booth, sitting against the wall so he could watch the people. "Oz," he said quietly, leaning a little closer. "I'm not that hurt, I've had worse just from bullies and creatures." He leaned back as the waitress walked up to them. "What's the specials?" he asked her.
"Sandwich platter, ham and Swiss or roast beef, with fries or chips. Four fifty." She handed them the menus and glasses of water, pulling out her pad of paper.
"Sandwich please. Roast beef with chips."
"Ham and can I have American instead?" She nodded. "Cool, with fries." He handed back the menus, waiting until they were alone. "I'm fine, quit feeling so guilty. It wasn't supposed to happen."
"But it did and I am." He looked around before leaning closer. "Does it hurt? I mean, did I do more than bruise you?" The younger man snorted. "Xan, this isn't a laughing matter."
"No, it's not but I doubt that you could have really hurt me like that." He leaned back, looking around. "Cop," he said, nodding.
"We're not doing anything wrong," Oz pointed out. "We're eating lunch before heading East." He glanced over his shoulder as the officer started to walk toward them. "Not that he'll believe it. Have your license with you?" The younger man pulled out his wallet, pulling the card out to put on the table in front of him, mimicking Oz. "Officer," the older teen said, nodding a little.
The rotund, smelly man stopped beside them, scratching over a stain on his shirt. "Boys." He looked at their licenses. "That your van?" They nodded. "What are you two doing up this way?"
"Music festival," Oz said. He looked at Xander, who shrugged. "Summer between high school and college so we're roadtripping."
He grunted, picking up Xander's license to look at closer. "Sunnydale?" They both nodded. "Okay, so what was one of you doing in town today?" He looked at Xander hard. "I think you were a witness to something."
"No, I didn't see the guys that shot her at all, just like they said I didn't," he said quietly. "Same as I'm going to forget that they ever existed or their blue/gray pinto or the pretty new Chevy truck with the third door that was blood red existed." He took back his license. "Anything else?" He raised an eyebrow.
The officer sat down beside Oz, making him scoot over. "I know they scared you son, but you've got to tell us. She was the wife of an officer."
"Like I said, I didn't see the blue/gray pinto or the blood red three door Chevy truck." He looked at Oz. "I want to go far from here tonight. We're heading where?"
"Las Vegas maybe." He looked at the officer. "Do you need more help than what he's just given you?"
"Some descriptions would be nice," he said dryly. "I could probably get a match for the vehicles through the gang database but we need to know who did what." He looked at the waitress as she came back with their plates. "I'm taking them to the back room to talk, Norma, can you bring me some chili please?" She nodded so he took their plates, walking to the back room with them. "Boys, come on."
Oz looked at Xander and shrugged but the younger man got up, following him silently, head down. He made it to the back in time to see the younger man sitting down in front of his food so did the same. The door slammed shut behind them.
"Now then boys, I need to know some particulars." He sat down in front of Xander, taking one of his fries. "Who shot her and the like."
"It was a guy in the back of the truck, that's why I know it had a third door," he started. He picked up his sandwich and took a bite, making a face. "Forgot to tell her to hold the mayonnaise," he muttered as he wiped it off onto a napkin. He looked up at the officer, seeing the light hitting his face a certain way that made his mouth go dry. He looked at the officer then at Oz. "I need to talk to him for a sec, could we please have some privacy?" The officer got up, walking out and leaving them alone. He leaned closer to the older teen. "Get us out of here. He was there. Or if it wasn't him, it was someone really relative to him."
Oz nodded. "Okay." He picked up his plate then stood up. "Let's go, you don't have to answer anything." He walked out, past the officer. "We need to get going. He doesn't know anything more," he said as he passed.
Xander hurried out after him, going to the counter. He walked back to the table to pick up his license, and Oz's since they were both still lying there. He tucked a nice two-dollar tip under a salt shaker before walking out the van, trusting Oz to deal with it.
Oz walked out, handing over the bag as he got in. "We'll stop someplace neutral on the way, 'kay?" He started the van, pulling away.
"Yeah," Xander said. "State police. None of their uniforms showed up there." He closed his eyes, leaning back. "That was just too much."
"We'll be long gone by tonight," Oz promised soothingly, "don't worry. They won't come after you."
"Unless I have to testify," he chimed in. He opened the cooler, putting the bag down into it. "I'll eat later." He sat back up as the van slowed. "What's up?"
"We're here." Oz pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine. "Want me to come in?"
"Nah, I'll go in and do this. You eat." He slid out of his side, walking into the building.
Oz pulled out his lunch, watching the door and the mirrors for the next hint of trouble.
Xander looked up from his bed in the cheap motel. "Why do I feel like we should be paying by the hour?"
"Because we are." Oz tossed an orange fuzzy ball at him. "See? Fun."
"Fun, yay." He picked it up and tossed it back. "Not too bad, over all. It took three officers to believe me and then I had to tell them about six times and identify pictures and give them a stable number and address where they can reach me after we get back. Giles is going to be pissed though." He grinned as the older man choked on his soda. "Think he'll mind?"
"I think you should warn him about that."
"It costs to call collect from in here," Xander complained. "I'll call him in the morning." He got up to get the door, looking at the older man, who shrugged. He was still being overly cautious so looked out the peephole. "Um, cops, Oz." He opened the door, chain on. "Can I help you guys?"
"Alexander Harris?" He nodded and opened the door fully. "Good, we need to talk to you." He pulled out his gun, walking him back inside, his partner turning to lock the door. "What did you do, boy? Why didn't you do what you were told?"
Xander sat down next to Oz, in front of him to shield him some. "I'm not built that way. But I might not have mentioned it all except for your friend that showed up while we were eating." He shrugged a little. "I didn't want to remember. I didn't even tell him. He doesn't know anything."
"He knows us, nice try though," the other officer said. He looked at Oz. "Why you boys traveling?"
"Business," Oz said. "I'm an artist and I'm looking for things to paint and take pictures of." He looked at Xander. "He's a high school friend who's just graduated." He looked at the still open window, seeing another officer walking by so looked away quickly. "Listen, I don't know anything. He told them while I was eating in the van."
Xander nodded. "I made sure he didn't know anything." He started to stand up but was pushed back down. Under his breath he started to recite something, so low nobody knew what it was.
"You prayin' boy?" the first cop asked, smirking. "Good idea. Your friend should too."
"I'm non-denominational," Oz said, moving away. He could just barely hear the words and knew what they were from many nights of hearing them from his girlfriend's mouth. "Do you really want to do this? I mean, there's gonna be questions and things. People know we're here." He looked at the back of Xander's head as the mumbling stopped and nothing happened. "Lots of people know we're here and that he knows."
Xander stood up, looking at the officer. "No, you're not doing this," he said calmly. "You're not hurting Oz and you're not going to hurt me." He said one last word, raising his arms out.
Xander released his low level of abilities in the room, focusing it with his mind on the two cops. A strong wind started, picking up speed. Soon, the room was filled with flying bits of paper and wrappers from burgers and candy bars, and the orange fuzzy ball. He waited until both the officers were unfocused and confused to say something else, tracing a symbol in the air with one hand, touching his new belt with the other. All of them were knocked to the floor, the wind stopped, and a growl came from outside. "Protect us," Xander whispered, getting back up, his eyes almost glowing. "If you're here to help," he called, "I'd come in now." The officer that had been hiding outside the door slammed in, staring in open-mouthed shock at the two men on the floor. He looked at Xander and made fish mouths at him but didn't draw his gun.
Oz cleared his throat. "Xan, enough. I think you proved your point." He waited until the clear and bright eyes were focused on him. "So, what else did you do today?"
"Hm? Oh, I took part in a ritual with Hila to strengthen what I have for a gift so I don't do what I did last time. She melted more of the block of my power." He shrugged and looked at the officer still standing. "Good guy or bad guy?" he asked when there still wasn't a sound from him.
"Good," he squeaked, then looked at Oz. "Does he heal too?" The older teen shook his head. "Okay." He nodded, pulling out his cuffs to hitch the two officers to the small table that held the tv. "I'm... I'm gonna go call this in," he said, pointing back the way he'd come, then running out, asking himself why he wanted to join the Police anyway.
Oz looked at Xander and shook his head. "Might be a bad."
"Cosmic balance. Use a bad to do a good." He sat down on the bed, putting his arms down now. He looked at his hands then shook them. "Okay, I'm numb. We should go do something like run away really fast." He looked at his friend. "Please?"
"Sure, right after I call Giles and see what we need to do to stop anything that's left." Oz's eyes were still pretty wide when he picked up the phone, but his eyebrows raised when all he heard was static. "Um, Xander? There's static blocking the phone. Want to solve that?" The younger man nodded, reaching a hand up to rub out the mark he'd drawn that the older man couldn't see. He just nodded, dialing quickly. "Giles?" he asked, his voice a little high. "Um, hi, no, Xander did. He just created a big wind and then there was this growly thing and he drew something that blocked the phone?" He looked at his friend and nodded. "Oh, okay, so we need to go somewhere else? Sure, not a big." He hung up and then picked back up the receiver, hitting the younger man across the head with it to knock him out. He sighed as the air in the room started to feel normal again.
The good officer walked back in with a few of his friends, getting the two on the floor up and out. "We'll deal with this but you might want to go somewhere else for the night. Just let us know where to come to question you." He walked out, glancing at Xander every few seconds.
Oz nodded, getting up to pick up the fuzzy ball and the rest of the stuff they'd brought up. "Yeah, might be a good idea," he told the room at large. He kept looking at Xander too, the whole time he was packing and getting him down to the van.
TO BE CONTINUED...