Payment In Kind
As soon as he opened the door, it hit him. The aroma he knew very well
had not been hanging in the air when he had left earlier, leaving Oz
behind to wait for the news that all was clear again.
"Oh, hey, you're back." Giles watched with amazement as Oz meandered into
the living room, holding a bag of chips, a bottle of water, and a bong.
"Don't worry. I didn't raid your stash."
Oz smirked. "Oh, come on. You know what I'm talking about." He paused
at the record player and dropped the needle before sitting down in the
middle of the floor. "Anyway, my stuff's better." Giles could only
continue to stare in shock as Oz flicked his lighter over the bowl and
inhaled deeply. And then Oz held the tube up in offering to Giles. When
Giles didn't take him up on the offer, Oz shrugged and placed it on a
nearby low table before stretching out on the floor.
"Shh." Oz bent one leg and propped the other on the bent knee, bobbing
his foot in time to the music. "You know, as much as I like this album, I
could really do without Nico."
Now Giles sat on the floor crosslegged, contemplating the green plastic
between them. "Oz, why are you here?"
"Music." He closed his eyes. They remained in semi-comfortable silence,
Oz contemplating the sounds coming out of the speakers, Giles considering
the teen and his drugs, until the album ended. "Your pick now."
"No." Oz opened one eye and gazed at Giles as best he could. "I'm going
to take a shower now. I'll reserve my pick until after." Giles turned
his attention back to the bong. "Are you serious about sharing?"
"Of course." Oz closed his eyes again. "That is, as long as you flip the
record before you go."
"I can do that." Task completed, he picked up the bong. "So, where's the
"Slide carb. Pull out the stem."
He reflected how very long it had been since he had held a bong. Joints
just didn't have the same effect. For one thing, smoke not filtered
through water was harsher. For another... Well, really that was the key
difference. Mellower smoke was easier to underestimate. As he inhaled,
he realized that, while he could see the smoke filling the tube and
moving into his mouth, he couldn't feel anything. Specifically, no
harsh burning sensation in his throat and lungs. He exhaled, observing
the cloud of smoke emerging from mouth and nose. So the smoke had made it
in his system. Just in case the non-feeling was accurate, he took another
Halfway to the bathroom, the hits took effect in a big way. He wondered
how much of it was because of the fact that he was back to a bong for the
first time in years and how much was due to the quality of Oz's supply.
Then he realized that he really didn't care. He briefly contemplated
taking a bath rather than a shower (soaking while stoned was incredibly
soothing, after all), but then he decided that a shower with the lights
off would be like standing outside naked during a rainstorm. Very
enticing at that particular moment.
Twenty minutes later, he was bathed and dressed in sweatpants and a
t-shirt -- perfect lounging clothing. To his utter and complete
non-surprise, Oz was still sprawled on his living room floor. Giles
smiled and turned his attention to the record player.
"Hey, side two. Good choice." So Oz was still alive. "I never did
understand how a barefoot Paul McCartney meant a dead Paul McCartney.
Even after someone explained that corpses are usually barefoot intheir
caskets, it doesn't make sense." He nodded in time to the music. "Hey,
this could be our song."
Giles nodded, reaching for the bong once again. To his surprise, the bowl
had a fresh load.
"This is nice. Can we do this again?"
Giles didn't answer for a long moment. Oz finally sat up and turned to
him in concern, but that evaporated when Oz realized the reason for Giles'
silence. Finally, the older man exhaled slowly while speaking, aiming the
smoke away from Oz's face. "Tell you what. Bring this stuff, and you can
come over any time you want."
"Payment in kind?"
He hadn't realized how harsh pot smoke was when forced through his nose by
snorting laughter. He briefly thanked whatever forces had him not
drinking root beer at that moment. "You've been hanging out with too many
Oz sat up. "Whoa. Head rush. Cool." Now he turned his attention to
Giles. "And just who do you think I get this stuff from?"
"Ah. Point taken." He attempted to think clearly for one moment. "How
about... male bonding?"
"Hmm." Oz mulled it over while he took another hit. "Okay."
Silence -- well, the absence of speech, since the sounds of the Abbey
Road medley prevented silence -- descended once again. Then, finally,
Giles spoke again. "I want some chips. And maybe Jell-o."
Oz grinned. "Cheetos, Doritos, or potato? Cool ranch or nacho cheese?
Barbecue, sour cream and onion, or rosemary? And raspberry, peach, or
Giles stared at him for a long moment. "Oz, I think I love you." Oz's
lack of response made him uneasy, causing Giles to wonder if he had
overstepped a boundary.
But Oz finally spoke, just as Giles was preparing to apologize. "Quoting
the Partridge Family already? So, should I tell you about that box of