Doyle looked at the two lumps of brick, freshly cleaved in half, which sat
on either side of an undamaged Gem of Amarra.
"That woulda been more impressive it ye'd actually killed it."
Angel, clutching the now painful hand that had held the brick, furrowed his
brows. "I did hope it would die easier."
"Well, I s'pose you don't get to be as old as that thing is by bein' fragile."
Angel picked up the ring and gave Doyle a sombre look. "I still want to
destroy it, Doyle."
The smaller man nodded. "I know."
"The question is, how?"
Doyle gave Angel a long-suffering stare. "We'd be in research mode, then?"
Angel offered him an apologetic smile. "Sorry."
He pressed his palm to the window and the wore an expression of awe, watching as the sunkissed landscape sped by, cacti waving back at him through the shimmer of afternoon heat. He had never seen the desert by day and it was more beautiful and grander than he had ever imagined it would be.
Oz had indulged Angel by driving by the coast again before striking inland, so that Angel might get to look at the ocean one last time, the dazzling azure waters such a clear reflection of the sky that they nearly obscured the horizon. The privilege of all this was not lost on the vampire, and it had filled him with joy to see it all.
But not too full - in using the Gem's power Angel indulged in a guilty pleasure. He knew it was the easy way out of things and he didn't want to get used to its convenience, he didn't want to be tempted to keep it. It was Oz and Doyle who convinced him if he should use it at all - as Oz had noted, "the journey'll involve less cramp and better conversation if you
can sit in the front seat."
Cordelia had laughed at the notion of conversation between him and Oz.
She had a point; Oz and he had barely said a word since they'd left LA. It
was a companionable silence, though, Oz leaving Angel with his thoughts, whatever the smaller man was thinking hidden behind a neutral expression and
a pair of sunglasses, seemingly concentrating on holding the van steady on its course.
They were on the road to Las Vegas; off to meet an Abradic demon named Tallulah of Doyle's acquaintance. She apparently ran the Temple casino there - and the research had identified her species of demon, though otherwise harmless as demons go, as having one of the most brutal and corrosive digestive systems around. It was a simple if surreal solution - she would eat the ring, and it would be destroyed in her stomach through digestion.
As far as Doyle could make out, she wouldn't even get heartburn.
It had taken 'til early the next afternoon to figure all that out and track
her down, so they had been lucky that Oz was still about.
Oz offered to take the ring to Vegas on his own, but Angel insisted on going
with him - Spike was still about, and he'd have no second thoughts about attacking Oz to get the Gem back. For a short while Doyle was going to come
too, but then Cordelia announced that she had parties to attend and, "hello?
Las Vegas is where you go when your career ends, not when it begins. Do I look like Sheena Easton?" Of course, if Cordy was staying then so was Doyle.
Angel had tried to tell Oz that he didn't need to drive him, but Oz shrugged
and pointed out that he was slacking from college anyway, and a few more days wouldn't matter. Besides, Angel was still weak from the torture inflicted on him by Marcus, and there was safety in numbers. Even if Devon and the rest of the band weren't pleased at having to get the train home.
The van jerked as Oz hit another pothole.
They hadn't taken the main highway to Vegas, but a series of winding, smaller roads so that it wouldn't be easy for Spike to follow them, even if
he knew where they were headed. Which he didn't, Angel was sure, but it was
better safe than sorry. In any case, these roads weren't as well maintained
as Highway 15, littered with potholes, cracks and tumbleweed. But the view was definitely better.
It was also a quieter route; there was only the occasional car or truck coming in the opposite direction - though perhaps this was magnified by the
silence of his driver. It would have been a different story if Doyle were with them. It was nice, after the incessant chattering of his employees, to
be with someone who didn't feel the need to fill a silence.
It was an odd paradox. Thanks to the ring on his finger this was the closest to a proper vacation he'd ever been on. But it was because of that same ring that it wasn't.
The sun was low in the west when Oz pulled over onto the side of the road.
Angel turned from the window to look at Oz for the first time in . . . hours, maybe. They were both bathed in golden light, as the last long fingers of the sun reached out to touch them.
Oz took off the sunglasses and rubbed an eye. "I'm getting pretty beat,
Angel. Do you want me to keep going 'til we find a motel, or . . .?"
Angel thought about this for a second. "Actually, no. I think . . . I'd
like to sleep under the stars. It'd be good to know I don't have to get up before the sun rises."
"Cool." The engine was turned off, and the hot metal ticked and pinged
as it cooled down.
They made their campsite; Angel took the blankets from the back of the van
to lay them out on the ground, and Oz gathered together some scraps of wood
and lit a fire.
"Looks like we're sleeping cowboy style," he said. For a moment he
examined the fire. "Pity we don't have some sausages."
Angel looked perplexed. "Sausages?"
"You cook them, over the fire." Oz paused. "Actually, you burn
them over the fire and risk food poisoning by eating them. But I figure the principle's the same. It's. . . outdoorsy."
But as they didn't have sausages Oz found a packet of chips in the van and
ate them instead, whilst Angel drank blood from a thermos flask that Cordelia had helpfully made up for him before they left. By the time all this was completed the sun had long since disappeared from view and the indigo sky stretched above them, studded with stars and a crescent moon. Angel watched by the light of the fire as Oz pulled off his tee-shirt to reveal a smooth, lithe torso, not quite as pale as the vampire's own but not
far from it. Then the werewolf crawled under a blanket and laid down his head.
Angel responded in kind, aware of Oz's eyes upon him as he removed his shirt. He lay back and looked upward, watching shooting stars flash across the night. The crackle of the fire seemed to be the only noise, and for once Angel felt the need to fill a silence.
"Do you ever do this? Just watch the sky?"
"Sometimes. I used to, before I got bit. Now. . . well, I see the moon,
and it just represents . . . lack of control. The wolfy side of me. That . . . kinda spoils it."
"Yeah. How are you coping with that?"
Oz didn't answer at first. Then, "You know that you're the first person
to ask me that in . . . since the first couple of months."
"I guess so. I try to push it to the back of my mind. The wolf. . . isn't
me. Just my body with more hair. Some days I think I'm just kidding myself, 'cause. . . if I can smell better, and hear better. . . that's down
to the wolf, right? So there's probably more there than I want to think about. But. . . so far, so good, I guess."
"I know what you mean."
"You would. I guess you could write the book."
A perverse smile crept across Angel's lips. "So long as I stay away from
Buffy. . . I have nothing to fear. And days like yesterday? Unhappiness isn't really an issue."
"You feeling better?"
"It's better, yeah. I heal quick."
Another pause, before Angel said, "Drusilla - she used to try and teach
me all the constellations . . . the real ones. Ursa Major and Cassiopeia, and Orion. I used to hate it. I wish I'd listened now."
"I know a few. Not many. Although - I can see satellites. Like, the non
geo-stationary ones? You can see them if you look hard enough."
Angel squinted. "You can?"
Then Oz suddenly loomed over Angel, blanket in hand. "Mind if I lie next
to you? I can show you where they are easier."
Angel nodded, letting Oz be nearer the fire because his undead body didn't
need the heat. The werewolf pushed close to him so that they were almost touching and he could feel the warmth generated by the mortal body.
Oz extracted a hand from under the blanket and pointed skyward. "See the
little white dot moving in a straight line? A satellite."
"Well, either that or my dad was lying all this time."
The arm dropped into the space between their bodies and brushed against Angel's own. It just seemed natural to clasp hands then, and they did, squeezing tight. Oz put his head against Angel's shoulder, and they lay there, watching the sky, until the fire had died down to glowing embers and
Then Angel finally summoned the courage, and leaned over, almost expecting
Oz to be asleep, but met the werewolf's open eyes, glittering in whatever light was provided by stars and crescent moon. Angel moved his free hand around to touch Oz's face and marvelled at how the elfin features looked so
small and delicate with his own large, pale hand cupping the jaw.
Oz just maintained the stare, closing his eyes only when Angel ducked in his
head to allow their lips to meet. The touch was soft and hesitant, pressing
at the flesh, but neither man opened their mouth. Angel slipped his hand underneath Oz's body and lay back, pulling Oz onto his own stomach. Oz eyes
opened at that moment, and he broke the kiss.
Angel spoke first, panic providing a timbre to his voice. "Sorry, I'm
sorry, I didn't . . ."
Oz shook his head almost imperceptibly, moving a hand up to Angel's face to
trace the features with a finger, nose and cheekbones and lips. "We both
know what we're doing."
And Angel nodded; dimly aware of feeling a desire he hadn't felt since Buffy
had spent her last night at the mansion. Oz lowered his head once more and they kissed again, still so soft, as if both thought the other was a china doll that might break if the treatment was too rough. Oz's slightly sweaty hand still stroked the side of Angel's face, rubbing the jawline and caressing an ear. Angel moved to gently rub Oz's smooth back, feeling the muscles move beneath the skin, and Oz moved his hand to push through Angel's
hair, the gel-stiff strands catching only slightly on his fingers. Angel then responded in kind, eager to find out what his partner liked in return.
Oz's hair was dry and brittle, the result of so much hair dye, but it was thick and Oz moaned quietly in seeming appreciation, so Angel carried on.
For a time it was exploration, kisses landing gently on the stubbled skin around the mouth and on the lips, noses rubbing and hands nervously touching
hair and skin. Even if his own was still, Angel could feel the rapid pace of Oz's heart against his chest and the blood rushing beneath the skin, and
the thought of it only increased his arousal. He wanted to touch Oz everywhere at once, and taste the contents of his veins, and be inside him,
and be a part of this delicate creature that touched him now.
But he had to control this multifaceted lust and instead settled for pushing
slowly at Oz's now slightly swollen lips with his tongue. The smaller man opened his mouth, and Angel tasted the salt from the chips and the sweet flavour that was simply Oz. The kissing became more passionate now, and the
sweat was beginning to gather on Oz's skin, although Angel remained cool.
Oz stopped the kissing, finally, and began to slide down Angel's torso, caressing the muscled body beneath him, and using his mouth to feast upon first the hard column of Angel's neck, then the pink nipples that crowned the vampire's pectorals. He was careful too, to attend to the scars and marks left by Marcus the day before, and though they were mostly healed they
remained sensitive enough for Angel to groan in pleasure, pushing his body up, up, into Oz's mouth, demanding more attention. Oz grinned, showing too many teeth, and lavished that attention on him.
The werewolf moved his head further down Angel's body to the hard stomach and began to rain kisses on the flesh there, whilst slightly callused hands
stroked the still damp chest and neck, fingertips circling around the most sensitive areas and eliciting further noises of appreciation from Angel.
When he reached the top of Angel's pants Oz paused briefly, and felt Angel's
hand on the back of his head guiding him back up to be level with Angel's own.
A whisper drenched in lust. "Not yet."
He felt like one touch from Oz's mouth would make him climax, and he did not
want that now. Instead he waited until he and Oz had kissed some more, writhing against each other in bliss, before carefully taking his partner and laying him on his back. Then, Angel performed the same service on the werewolf as had been given to him, lapping first at the beads of sweat that
gathered at the top of Oz's chest and on the skin of his neck, tracing the veins and arteries with his tongue, enjoying and scared by the temptation to
bite that he felt. He moved down, and gently took each soft nipple in his mouth 'til the slow, erotic nibble from his teeth made them hard and deliciously tender, reddened by a thousand burst capillaries.
When Angel reached the waistline of Oz's pants he did not stop as Oz had been made to, despite Oz's half-hearted protestations, but popped the top button and slowly pulled them down until Oz lay in just a pair of boxer shorts that strained to hide his arousal. Angel kissed his way back up Oz's
legs to the material of the shorts, and kissed them too, licking and running
his lips across the cotton that stretched over Oz's erection. The werewolf whimpered above him, wanting more, and Angel, in a quick tug, pulled them off too.
Angel looked at the naked form in front of him, even paler in the twilight,
beautiful and vulnerable, yet arousing and strong. He wanted this to be more than just sex, even though he knew it could not be love. He tried to express this in the only way he knew how, and dipped his head to Oz's skin,
and licked and kissed all around Oz's cock, not quite touching it, attending
instead to the sensitive flesh on the inner thighs and the scrotum and the dark red corona of curls at the base. Oz bucked his hips in response and demand, and clear liquid dripped from the tip as proof of his need. It was then that Angel's body reminded him of his own.
Quickly, the vampire got to his feet, to an almost surprised expression on
Oz's face. Angel just smiled and undid his belt, pulled down the zip and in
one fluid movement pushed pants and trunks to the ground, sighing with relief as his own erection was released.
"It was getting sore," he said by way of explanation.
Stepping out of his clothes, he returned to the naked body beneath him, and
slowly took Oz's length into his mouth. Oz stifled a loud moan as the cool wet feeling of Angel's mouth consumed him. His arousal cleared long enough for him to realise that Angel was unattended to.
"I could be doing something too," he breathed, and in response Angel
moved his body round until his own crotch was level with Oz's face. The werewolf ran a hand up the hickory hard length, pushing the foreskin - for him a new
addition to a male - up over the head and back down again, then placed his lips on the end of Angel's cock and slowly took the shaft into his mouth.
It started gently for both, sucking and licking and tasting without rush, trying to extend this bliss for as long as possible, but movements became more and more frantic as the climax began to build in both their bodies, the
rush gathering strength as the mouths gathered speed.
Angel was first to release, Oz simply opening his throat to the fluid ejaculated. Within moments the werewolf too was sent over the edge and though Angel caught it all he spat it into the fire as soon as Oz's hips stopped bucking, the liquid hissing against the still-hot embers. Angel smiled and quickly spun round to kiss Oz on the mouth.
"Guess that's the difference between us."
Oz gave no verbal reply, but simply kissed back.
For the first time in over two hundred years, Angel awoke to the feel of the sun on his skin. He was on his side, Oz spooned in beside him so that Angel's chest was against Oz's back, and the blanket wrapped around their lower bodies.
It was early morning, so the vampire simply lay there for a while enjoying the feel of the sun's rays and warm flesh, and knowing that he probably wouldn't experience either in this way again for a long, long time.
Eventually Oz stirred in his arms. "Hey"
Angel pushed his lips onto Oz's shoulder, running up the freckles to the base of his neck. Oz arched into the kiss, and Angel held the younger man in place whilst he reached around to rub his hands up and down the hard stomach, smiling as Oz squirmed in appreciation.
His fingers then closed around Oz's stiff cock, and slowly began to stroke, and Oz groaned in response. His lips still kissed down Oz's shoulder, and as his hand picked up speed, he felt the blood pulsing ever faster under that sweet skin. Both began to breathe heavy, Oz from lust and Angel, he realised, from bloodlust. In the back of his mind panic began to rise, but Oz suddenly thrust forward and came, a sigh escaping his lips, and Angel could stop, rolling away from Oz's body.
He felt Oz's lips on his own back then, fingertips caressing his tattoo, but whispered, "No."
Oz stopped. "What's wrong?"
"I think I could be enjoying this too much. I don't know if it's safe."
He felt Oz move away slightly. "Understood."
Angel got to his feet and stretched, scratching at his chest and looking to the sky. "We need to get to Vegas anyway."
Oz nodded, and stared at Angel's pale, naked form for only a moment before making to get up too.
The sun had just set when they arrived back outside Angel Investigations. The Gem was eaten, destroyed forever, and the mission completed.
From the back of the van, Angel addressed Oz. "Do you want to come in?"
Oz turned in his seat. "It's cool. I need to get back to Sunnydale. College . . . and Willow."
Angel nodded. "I won't be telling anyone."
There was a short pause. Then with a trace of a smile on his lips, Angel said, "Thank you."
"Really my pleasure."
And Angel moved up and they kissed one last time. When Angel opened his eyes again, Oz was slipping off one of his cord necklaces, with a few jade coloured beads running along it. He handed it to Angel. "A memento."
Angel took it in his fist. "I don't have . . ."
"I wasn't expecting."
Angel nodded, and opened the door. "See you around?"
Oz nodded, "Sure. I'd like that."
Angel stepped out into the night again, and forever. "So would I."