Index Of Possibilities
by Scy

Oz knew that it was something of an unspoken truth that in the Sunnydale Library the group could relax. It was the one place where a superhero could meet with her less invulnerable friends and be honest about their common ground. This was where it was clear that she had to have support in order to come out on top.

In the cemeteries, morgues and on the trail of the evil of the moment they followed where Buffy led them. The difference was that this year they had proved in her absence that they could work together in on their own terms. Yet, in spite of other changes, the library was still their headquarters and brainstorming center. Somehow it had also become his de facto place to think. The Bronze was closed in the wake of recent cockroach infestation and home was too quiet for him to think without hearing echoes. Therefore Oz headed out in search of someplace where the chances of doing some work on potential song material were better. He had a couple songs to review; the lyrics were okay but he wasn't entirely pleased with them. Devon had ribbed him about perfection but Oz had just shrugged and pointed out that the better they sounded, the more gigs they got.

The library seemed like the best place to go, not only because he wouldn't have to worry being bothered by students; the number of times they'd been interrupted by people looking for materials for class were so infrequent that those people seemed like intruders, but because on a Saturday, the chances of running into one of the Scoobies were small. It wasn't that he didn't want to hang out with them, but he needed some space and didn't want to have to say as much. Very infrequently Oz thought about trying to explain why it was even more important during interesting times to appreciate the spaces in quiet.

None of the other Scoobies were hanging around, and even Giles wasn't in his office. He didn't expect Giles to stop by; Wesley was out trying to make the two Slayers respect him as a leader or at least listen to him while he lectured. Oz wasn't one to discourage a good in-depth discussion but Wesley didn't seem to have been clued in on when to stop talking. He guessed that Willow had probably tagged along as support or a 'recorder' just so that she could give Buffy moral support. Giles would be around in some capacity to restrain Buffy and Faith as they considered ditching training altogether. So in all likelihood, Oz could look forward to a quiet afternoon alone.

He took possession of a table and spread out his notes and tapped his fingers on the tabletop in time with the music he was trying to compose. The muted sounds of people working on the myriad of landscaping tasks that were basic upkeep became a buzz that Oz more or less tuned out.

Oz had been pushing his pencil around his paper in an aimless scrawl as he struggled to make words and music agree when he felt a prickle down his spine. It wasn't the sort of itchiness he got in the days before the full moon. This was closer to his own version of an warning bell. Something had changed in the library and his instincts had pulled his focus back to the immediacy of a warm, if somewhat stuffy room.

Sitting up straighter in his chair, he thought that it was possible that a teacher was coming in to reference a book for a lesson plan that they were struggling with. When nobody appeared carrying a book or looking to offer a series of pleasant observations about students who sought out every opportunity to improve their grades, Oz began to feel uneasy.

"Is someone there?"

He reached for his bag, going for the pocket where he carried a couple stakes and turned.

Angel was standing in the stacks behind him, looking apologetic.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"No problem, I just didn't think anyone else was in here." Oz slid the stake back where he'd found it and sat down again.

"You're kind of stealthy, you know that?"

"It's a thing I do."

"Don't worry about it, you're supposed to be sneaky, like a big cat, right?"

Angel didn't stare at Oz the way Devon did when he'd said something that seemed to come from further a field than Pluto, but he did blink.

"A cat?"

"Lion or tiger, one of the bigger cats."

Angel still looked more confused than anything else so Oz waved it off. "Anyway, was there something you needed?"

"Wanted to check a source and I need to reference it with another text."

"Well, there's plenty of alternate places to find information," Oz agreed and when Angel didn't shift a muscle, added, "I don't mind, you've got work to do and it won't bother me,."

"Thanks." Angel stepped back into the stacks, and when a few silent moments had passed, Oz figured that the vampire had found what he needed and then headed home.

Just when he was sure that he was alone, Angel appeared again. It shouldn't have been that easy for such a big guy to walk so quietly, but Angel moved like a hunter, no matter how tame anyone claimed he was. Without speaking, Angel took the seat across from Oz and began flipping through a book.

The arrangement was a little funny when Oz thought about it. In a less abnormal world Angel would be anywhere but a small town library. He had the looks and experience to compensate for his lack of social skills and he could probably make a lot of friends if he cared about that sort of thing. But the world being what it was, and events having followed the course that they did, he was left to hang around a library with a teenage werewolf.

"Did you used to do stuff like this?"

Angel glanced up. "Like what?"

"Research, stay after school."


Oz knew that there must have been a school of some kind near where Angel grew up, though whether or not he'd attended regular classes was a mystery. Since Angel hadn't expanded on his answer, Oz figured that the topic wasn't one that he particularly wanted to dwell on.

Angel got up once and came back with another book. He didn't seem in any hurry to be somewhere else, it was still mid-afternoon so it could be that the vampire wasn't interested in trying to negotiate the sewer tunnels. The library was warm, but not quite sweltering, and the shades kept the sunlight from doing anything more harmful than outlining the bookshelves in a golden haze. It was comfortable and the warmth made Oz sleepy. When he realized that he couldn't remember the last couple bars he'd written, he decided to take a break. Making sure that the fan was switched on, he pulled his backpack out from under the table and unzipped the smallest pocket. Inside were his supplies and he pulled them out. He'd brought a bottle of metallic green nail polish along with an old towel and he put them on the table.

He'd done this exact routine enough times that he had the steps memorized. Somehow, during one particularly memorable night, he'd managed to intrigue Giles with his choice of colors to the point that the man had, between records and cups of tea, told a highly edited anecdotes from his wild younger days. Oz had been delighted to watch Giles unwind a bit and had kept quiet, hoping he would follow the first story up with another. Instead Giles had seized the comfort of duty and excused himself with a comment about early rising and Oz hadn't heard anything more about the glamour of the Seventies through Giles' eyes. All the same, he'd gotten Giles' opinion on his nail polish and a compliment on how neat he kept the finish.

At that point Oz had suspected that Giles was just a little bit unguarded and that he'd slipped a few drops of something stronger than honey into his Earl Grey. The result being, Oz knew what Giles thought about certain fads and fashion choices and didn't disapprove. And since then, if Oz happened to be painting his nails in the library and Giles stopped in, he knew that there might be another chance at tea and conversation. Whereas, in Angel's case, Oz had no idea what to expect and had no particular plans.

It was probably a cliché to be thinking about seeing what would happen if he leaned and brushed against Angel just one time more than was accidental. The urge wasn't entirely self-serving; Angel didn't act like a guy who got much in the way of friendly hugs or casual contact, and from what he'd gleaned from Willow-babble, the vampire and slayer were doing their best to avoid being alone in any close quarters. That seemed sad to Oz; nobody, not even the most self-sufficient sort of person should be entirely alone.

Without seeming to notice that he was under Oz's scrutiny, Angel flipped through his book. He didn't make any notes from what Oz could see, but every so often his lips would move as he repeated some word. Oz could see the scratches of ink on the old paper, and although it was upside down, he could tell it wasn't written in English. As Angel seemed to have no trouble reading it, Oz wondered exactly how many languages he understood.

He stared at Angel for a couple seconds longer and then resumed tracing the brush over his nails. When Oz was done, he sat back and glanced at Angel again. This time, the vampire looked up after scanning a few lines. "Something you need?"

"I was wondering if you want to get something to drink after this?"

"Like coffee?"

"Yeah, or tea, the Bronze has a few choices. Or, we could go someplace else, if you're not in a hurry."

Angel shook his head and considered Oz's suggestion. "Sure."

Being unable to read Angel's rather noncommittal answer might have worried Oz if he was hoping from some big reaction, but agreement was just about all he wanted. It wouldn't hurt for Angel to hang out with someone whose priorities weren't romantic and Oz was open to having some company.

Running a hand over one last page, Angel closed the book and looked up at Oz. "So you have a plan."


"Alright." Angel appeared willing to go along with whatever Oz had planned and he let Oz lead the way.


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