When Oz died, he looked puzzled as the last words fell from his lips. “Oh. Huh.”
Giles pushed Oz’s surprised eyes closed and laid him down on their bed, walking to the closet to get his shovel.
No need to buy a plot. No room left in cemeteries, anyway. He could burn the bloody sheets later. Or put them in the grave.
Giles dug a hole in his garden, barely registering who he was burying.
He knew what was happening, still. He wasn’t that far gone. The Master reigned and those who sat at each hand were dangerous, bloodthirsty killers, more twisted than he’d imagined possible. Children turned, schoolmates of those they slaughtered.
When Oz died and Giles buried his lover, it was finally time to cede the Hellmouth.
Returning to London was eerily easy. Giles just started Oz’s van and started toward L.A., midday, midweek. He had no farewells left, nobody left to miss him.
He had graves to tend, but the corpses probably wouldn’t notice his absence. He’d stayed long enough to ensure that Oz didn’t rise.
He had kept blinking as the journey moved smoothly. Drive to LAX, abandon the van in the best parking spot in long-term parking (Oz would find it amusing, anyway), purchase a ticket with a never-used credit card, present passport, get on an airplane.
He hadn’t realized that he was crying until the steward was asking him if he needed anything, sir.Something familiar
, he thought frantically.
“No, thank you,” he said formally. “I am fine.”
He was becoming intimately familiar with the pubs and bars in London again. It had been ages since he’d been a bar fly, not since the days of Ripper and a reckless youth.
He supposed that he was getting a bit reckless again. This time, however, he felt justified in the self-destruction.
“Last one standing wins,” the young man in the corner of the pub called out loudly before motioning his friends to drain their pints.
Giles stared briefly, not quite comprehending. The last one standing was the only one to remember, the only one with the weight of the truth. Giles hacked out a brief, acid laugh. God, if only they knew. The last one standing loses.
Giles started at hearing a bitter chuckle that sounded deceptively similar to his. Turning his head toward the sound, Giles caught a glimpse of a thin, worn man with hair that was probably once auburn, but had since been streaked with gritty grey. This was not the graceful changes of time, he thought, pulling his hand across his own prematurely aged face. This was being worn out, worn down, worn thin.
Sliding his eyes down the hunched figure, Giles tried to catch a glimpse of the man’s face. Slumping forward as he was while motioning to the bartender for another two fingers of whiskey, his face was cloaked by the fall of his ragged hair.
Giles shook his head slightly to clear the haze that floated around him. He wanted to know ... to see ... just to have a moment where this world wasn’t so bright and cheerful and perfect.
He wanted to touch someone else who’d been broken.
Making his decision, he stood up from his stool and strode two quick steps toward the other man. Putting his hand over the fiver that had been slapped down on the bar, he pushed the note toward the man.
“I’ll have what he’s having,” he answered in response to the landlord’s raised eyebrow.
The man turned, then, at the sound of a voice so near to him. His eyes were ... intense. Intense and somehow familiar, though Giles knew he never would have forgotten meeting someone with a stare that piercing. His face was lined, as expected, but weaving between the expected wrinkles of age and strain were smaller, angrier scars.
Sitting down, Giles took a much-needed additional breath. He didn’t know how to do this anymore, how to interact normally, how to introduce himself, how to not be embattled and embittered.
The man seemed to sense Giles’ discomfort and his thin lips quirked upwards briefly. “Well, if you’re going to buy me a drink and try to pull, shouldn’t you tell me your name?” he asked in a harsh, raspy voice. Another man might have heard dismissal in it, but Giles saw the stool turn slightly toward him and a hand move marginally closer to his.
Oh. Well. So he didn’t have to stop being embattled and embittered. Good, then.
“Giles,” he responded clearly.
“Remus,” the man responded, his head tilting in acknowledgement as the bartender brought Giles’ glass of Jameson.
Remus was tougher than he looked, Giles noted as he ground his hips and mouth against him in the entryway of Remus’ sparse flat.
“You shouldn’t be taking strange men home with you,” Giles said against wan, thin man’s lips, stroking his bicep. “You can’t always tell danger from its face.”
Remus grabbed his shoulders roughly and shoved him up against a wall with far more strength than someone of his size should have. He put his up-tilted face mere centimeters from Giles’ and met his eyes with a barely-audible snarl. “Neither can you.”
Giles’ eyes widened. This was something he knew. Not necessarily something he’d thought he’d be finding here but ... something of the supernaturally familiar in this strangely normal world. “Werewolf,” he breathed.
Remus’ eyes closed quickly, in pain or shock or some kind of emotion that needed to be hidden. He jerked away, only to find Giles’ restraining hand on his back. “Don’t care,” he clarified. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Remus’ amber eyes snapped open to meet his.
Giles shrugged with a quick quirk of his shoulders, leaning down. When his lips met Remus’ fading snarl, he nipped at the bottom lip and pulled him toward a darkened door.
Whatever room it was, it would have a surface. Something flat, something less painful than walls and corners of tables.
He’d never needed much comfort, anyway. Just a lessening of pain.