Temple Of Love

by Kate Bolin

Oz cursed under his breath and slammed the front door hard. He didn't care what happened. He didn't care where he was going. He just wanted OUT.

He drove around in his van for awhile, not really paying attention to anything but the road and the Sisters of Mercy tape blaring out of his speakers. After a few minutes, driving from his house to around the school to around the Bronze, seeing all the happy young couples walking from the club, he sighed and stopped the van.

"Fuck it," he said to himself, pulling the Sisters of Mercy tape out of the deck and tossing it in the back. He scrambled in the glove compartment, pulling out a stubby eyeliner pencil and his Smiths tape. He leaned up, looking at himself in the rear view mirror as he smudged the black eyeliner over his eyes. After a few minutes, he slid back into the driver's seat, popped in the Smiths tape and drove to the edge of town, "Girlfriend in a Coma" blaring from his speakers.

He stopped his van in front of the building and got out. He rang the doorbell, then impatiently waited for a few minutes. He heard a faint clacking noise on the stairs, then a bemused chuckle.

"Oz!" Alexa said, her green-gray eyes twinkling. "I wasn't expecting you here, darling..."

Oz looked at her, his eyes tracing over her silver miniskirt clad body. His eyebrow quirked up. "Ms. Kensington's future dress?" he asked.

Alexa grinned, her silver lips curving into a smile. "Damn, you're good."

"Just don't ask me if I'm starting an evil petting zoo." He looked at the door. "You gonna let me in or what?"

Alexa opened the door and stepped aside. Oz kissed her gently on the cheek, smiling. "So how are you tonight?" he said, walking up the stairs in front of her.

"Scrumptious, sweetie. Three clients today, and then your friend showed up tonight."


"Yeah, you know....that delicious British guy..." She looked up at him. "Giles, right?"

Oz's eyebrows joined together. "Yeah...." He looked down for a second, then looked up. "Is he still here?"

Alexa nodded. "Well, yeah...I'm afraid I'm still with my third client, you know, the one that wants me to be in a space suit and stick my 'phaser' where it shouldn't go?" She shrugged. "So he's still here waiting. I think he's off in the movie room..."

"That's cool, I'll..." The doorbell buzzed again. Alexa rolled her silver-rimmed eyes. "Duty calls again," she said tiredly. She turned back to the front door.

Oz grabbed her shoulder. "Hey, I'll get it," he said cheerfully, sliding down past Alexa. He walked down to the front door. He looked at the person standing there and his eyes widened. "Oh Christ," he said quietly. "Cordelia."

Cordelia stood there, her eyes rimmed with black and wearing a dark sweater and skirt. "Hey, Oz," she said quietly.

"Cordelia, wha...what are you doing here?" Oz said, extremely confused.

Cordelia shrugged. "I saw Willow and Xander at the Bronze. They made me really upset, so I came here." She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "Is this a bad thing?"

He shook his head. "Oh no, it's fine. Come on in..." He opened the door. Cordelia walked in, smiling softly.

"Cordelia, you have to pay Alexa...I need to go and do something really quick," Oz said, already dashing off to the movie room.

Giles sat there, his eyes widening when he saw Oz. "Oz," he said, standing. "What are you doing here?"

"No time to talk, Giles. Cordelia's here."

Giles paled. "What?"

"She just came in. You have to find a room to hide in."

"Oh God," Giles said, walking quickly. He moved from the movie room to the latex room, his eyes darting around as he hunted for a place to hide. "What is she doing here? Where is she going to go? What is she going to do? I can't be seen here...."

Oz grabbed the man's shoulders. "Hey, it's okay," he said. "Last time she was here, she spent two hours watching 'Pandora's Box'. She won't go looking around, and she won't see you. All you need to do is hide out." He led the older man into the dance room, his eyes wide and searching. "Okay, great, she's not here," he yelled into Giles' ear. "Stay here until I can make sure she's somewhere."

Giles nodded, retreating into the corner. Oz walked through the rooms, coming up with a variety of curses in his head and muttering several of them. He found Cordelia at the bar, fending off the attentions of what appeared to be a midget in black velvet. After frowning for a few seconds, he sidled up to her, wrapping his arm around her waist, effectively deterring the midget.

Cordelia smiled at him widely. "God, thank you. If I had to hear any more poetry, I was going to kill someone." She held up a five dollar bill. "Want a drink?"

"Please," he said softly. He looked at the bartender. "Chartreuse," he said to her. When he got the drink, he took a long swig. He turned to Cordelia. "So what do you want to do tonight?"

Cordelia shrugged. "Well, I saw a movie last time..."

Oz nodded. "Movies are good. I think they have Cabinet of Dr. Caligari playing tonight..." He grasped her elbow and led her towards the room. "And then I think it's The Phantom of the Opera, and that's actually not black and white, but color..."

Cordelia interrupted him. "Oz, what's going on?" she asked, her eyes narrowing.

"What do you mean?"

She frowned at him. "You're not going to be beaten again, are you? Is that why you're trying to distract me?"

Oz blinked, then shook his head. "No! I'm just..." He shrugged. "I want you to enjoy yourself. Because you had such an awful time at the Bronze."

Cordelia thought about it, then smiled sweetly. "That's so nice, Oz," she said quietly. She looked towards the movie room. "So...something about 'Caligari'?" she said happily.

Oz grinned and led her to the room. After getting her settled, he left that room and moved to the dance floor. Giles was still sitting there, watching the girls dance. He stood when Oz appeared.

Oz waved him back down. "Cordelia's safely watching a movie," he said calmly. "All you have to do is avoid the movie room."

Giles visibly relaxed. "Great," he said, taking off his glasses and wiping them. "I was quite worried there for a moment...I definitely did not need my...activities to be spread around the school. It could lead to serious problems, and who knows what Buffy would think about it and I....Oh my God it's Faith."

Oz followed Giles' eyes to the dance floor. Yes, that was Faith there, her legs straddling a thin man's body as her breasts pressed up against his chest. Her arms were raised, her eyes closed, and she apparently didn't realize there were other people in the room. Just the guy and herself. And, as long as she stayed that way, it was good.

And then she turned around.

Giles literally shrieked and ducked, hiding behind the shorter man. Oz sighed and, once she turned back to the man, made him stand up. "Go into the other room," he said quickly. "NOW!"

Giles ran into the other room just as Faith walked towards Oz. Faith paused for a second, vaguely recognizing the streak that appeared to be a person, but then shrugged it off, walking right up to Oz. "What're you doing here?" she asked.

Oz looked straight at her. "I'd ask you the same thing."

Faith grinned. "Met Rex outside of the Bronze. He knew a place that was a little more...interesting, you know? I figured it ought to be fun." She looked him over. "I should've known you were a Goth at heart..."

"Right," he said quietly. He looked at her. "So are you going to be here for awhile?" he asked.

She shrugged, her breasts jiggling. "I dunno. Maybe. Depends on whether or not Rex decides that this whole 'knowing a girl for two weeks' rule is breakable." She winked at him and moved back to the dance floor.

Oz took a deep breath, then ran into the next room. Giles stood there, getting nervous. "I should go," he stuttered. "I should leave right now and go home and none of this will ever be mentioned."

Oz shook his head. "You can't. Cordelia's in the movie room, remember? And you can't reach the front door except by the movie room. So until she leaves, you can't leave."

Giles swore loudly. "What do you suggest?" he asked, his voice tinged with desperation.

Oz frowned for a second, then snapped his fingers. "You came here to work with Alexa. I'll just find her and you'll go to her and then no one will know it's you up there. That works out."

Giles nodded. "All right. Find Alexa." He looked around. "I'll be in the main room."

Oz nodded and walked off. He walked through the main room, then the movie room, waving to Cordelia, who barely glanced away from the movie.

He found Alexa at the bar, sipping slowly at her drink. "Oz!" she said cheerfully as she saw him. "Where's that friend of yours?"

"That's what I'm here for, dear," he said quietly. He leaned forward. "He's all ready, but there's a problem. There are two people here we weren't expecting to appear. He's trying to hide from them right now."

Alexa frowned. "Why doesn't he just leave?"

"One of the people he's trying to hide from is in the movie room."

Alexa cocked an eyebrow. "Oh, that poshy girl you came with that one night....yeah, I saw her." She took a drag from her cigarette and sighed. "So what's the plan, darlin'?"

"He's in the main room right now. It should take awhile for you to work with him, and by then, the two people he's avoiding will have left. So..."

Alexa nodded, putting her cigarette out in the ashtray. "Lead the way, sweetie," she said, standing up. She followed Oz into the main room, where Giles nervously stood. Her demeanor changed when she made eye contact with him.

Giles straightened up. "Ma'am," he said, his voice low.

Alexa smiled widely and turned back to Oz. "Don't worry, babe...I'm in charge now," she said, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. "Now go...distract your friends."

Oz grinned thankfully and dashed off to the movie room. Cordelia sat there, her eyes riveted to the wall. He sat next to her. "Enjoying yourself?" he said quietly.

Cordelia looked over at him, her eyes wide. "Yeah, actually, I am." She leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm a little drunk, and watching a fun movie. Beats moping at the Bronze any day."

Oz patted her head. "That's good." He paused for a second. "I have to go check on something," he said. He slowly moved her head away from him and stood up.

She blinked at him and smiled. "Sure..." she said, her eyes going back to the movie.

Oz nodded and walked from the movie room. He glanced through the main room, seeing that Giles' face was turned away from the crowd, then went back into the dance room. He scanned the floor, looking for Faith.

She wasn't there. He mumbled a curse, and started walking through rooms, checking every dark corner, every shadowy area. He even climbed up into the loft and looked up there, interrupting a young couple who were not Faith and "Rex".

He finally went back to the main room, and saw Faith standing next to Rex, watching the show avidly. Oz closed his eyes, gave a quick prayer to whatever gods would listen, and then walked directly up to Faith. "Hey," he said, his voice nonchalant.

She looked at him, her eyes shining. "Hey." She looked back at the scene before her. "Isn't he just amazing?" she said, pointing at the man on the stage, his back to the audience as hot wax was dripped down him.

Oz nearly fainted, then recovered before she noticed. "Uh....yeah..." he said, trying to sound noncommittal. "Do you...uh....do you know who he is?"

She turned to him, grinning. "Hell, this is my first time here. Like I know anyone." She leaned over and whispered in his ear. "So who is he?"

Oz closed his eyes in relief, then shrugged. "I don't know," he said. "Could be anyone."

Faith nodded. "Yeah..." She grinned widely, then leaned back against Rex. After a few seconds of whispered discussion, she turned back to Oz. "Rex and I are gonna head on out....I think I got him to ignore that two-week rule..."

Oz nodded. "Sure," he said quietly. He watched Faith leave, her hand slipped into the back pocket of Rex's jeans, then sighed in relief. One down, one to go. He left the main room and went back to the movie room, only to find Cordelia dozing slightly.

He leaned down next to her. "Cordelia," he whispered softly.

Cordelia woke up with a start. "What? Oh! Oz...what..." She blinked, looking around. "Did I fall asleep here?"

Oz nodded. "Yeah, you did." He patted her shoulder. "Maybe it's time to go home, Cordelia..."

Cordelia nodded slowly. "Yeah...I guess I didn't realize how late it was..." She looked up at him, frowning slightly. "No marks on your back?"

Oz turned and lifted up his shirt. "See?" he said.

Cordelia smiled. "Good." She glanced over at the doorway to the main room. "I kinda do want to see what's going on in there, though..." she said, standing and walking over there.

Oz grabbed her shoulder. "No, wait, c'mon Cordelia, it's late. You ought to go to sleep. Class tomorrow, remember?"

She disentangled from him quickly. "You're up, I can be up." She walked into the main room, raising an eyebrow when she saw a whip crack down on the man's back. "Wow...he really can take it, can't he?"

Oz peeked from behind Cordelia, relaxing when he saw that Giles was still facing the wall. "Yeah..." he said.

Cordelia watched for few minutes, peering. "You know...there's something familiar about that coat draped over there..." she said, pointing at a chair. She giggled. "It looks just like the one Giles was wearing today." She turned back to Oz, a twinkle in her eye. "Hey, wouldn't it be really funny if Giles came here? I mean, to a Goth club? In tweed?"

Oz blinked.

Cordelia looked at him. "You have no sense of humor," she finally said. She looked back at the scene then turned to the doorway. "I'm going. See you tomorrow at school," she said cheerfully as she walked out the door.

"Yeah, bye," Oz said automatically. He stood there for a few seconds, still blinking, then slowly shrugged. He found the nearest seat and sat down, watching the show in a daze.