That First Time Thing
Willow: I-I'm ready.
Oz: Okay. Well, don't take this the wrong way... but I'm not.
Willow: Are you scared? 'Cause I thought you had...
Oz: No, I have, but this is different…... I want it to be because we both need it to for the same reason.
- Amends, season 3.
Oz left Willow's on Christmas afternoon. He missed her as soon as she shut the door against the chill that made her teeth chatter as she waved, even though she wore two sweaters and three pairs of socks. He pulled up the collar of his jacket, thrust his hands into his pockets and bowed his head against the snow.
His fingers closed around something soft and he pulled out a pair of soft black gloves, decorated with silver snowflakes. He glanced back to see Willow watching him out of her living room window. He raised the gloves with a smile and she rubbed her hands, indicating she put them there so he wouldn't get cold. He smiled again and turned back to continue on his way home. He ran his fingers over the gloves and put them back in his pocket.
Willow was something else. He had known that when he had first seen her. To everyone else she was inconsequential, but the moment he had laid eyes on her, he had started falling. He didn't see the plain hairstyle, completely unfashionable clothes, the nervous way she nibbled her lip and her all round adorable nerdish-ness. He didn't see any of Willow the way everyone else did; he saw an individual beauty who would show everyone one day.
He saw her.
But it was not really Willow that occupied his thoughts. Now that he was no longer in her presence, no longer had his arms wrapped around her waist and his face buried in her hair, his thoughts drifted back to what had happened a long time ago.
Something he hadn't thought about in ages.
It was because of Willow that he was remembering. When she said she thought he'd done it before and he had answered that he had. It brought it all back.
It had been a year ago. It hadn't been planned. When he woke up that Saturday morning, he didn't think that this would be the day he would lose his virginity. It was kinda unexpected and it certainly wasn't the way he thought it would be.
The Dingoes had been practising in the Bronze all afternoon and after an hour of practice, Cordelia Chase walked in. All glittering smiles, smouldering eyes, silky hair and the kind of dress that would make a eunuch sit up, take notice and seriously consider putting their eunuch-ness to one side.
She wasn't Oz's type. That's not to say he didn't like Cordelia, she was dating Devon and Oz thought she was ok. She came to watch them practice and she wasn't too much of a nuisance, unlike Harmony Kendall had been. And Oz had to admit that she was a hottie. She wasn't his type, but she looked good.
Not that she would ever have looked at him even if he did like her like that. She didn't ignore him, as far as she was concerned, he was in a band, he wasn't the little-known drummer, he had a few guitar solos and in Cordelia Chase's Book of Cool, that made Daniel Oswald cool.
So if she saw him in the hall as she passed with her Cordettes, she'd say hi and on the rare occasion she was without her entourage, she would even chat to him. Admittedly, their conversations were limited to Devon, the Dingoes and their latest gig, but he didn't worth noticing.
If Cordelia thought you were cool, then everyone did. But Oz didn't crave this most wonderful of gifts. Way he saw it, if Cordelia wanted to talk to him, that was fine and hey, if she didn't, it was no great loss, it wasn't like they were best buds. Or even real friends, just acquaintances.
But it changed that Saturday. Cordelia had hitched herself up onto a table to watch them practice and in a break, Devon went over to her. Oz saw them arguing in hushed voices, but he figured it couldn't have been too bad if she didn't leave.
He didn't even know what the problem was until that evening after they'd finished their set. Devon and Cordelia argued again in a darkened corner of the Bronze, resulting in her walking out.
Back then, Oz didn't know anything about the Forces of Darkness, if you'd asked him about it, he'd say their guitarist was great, but their lead singer was nothing to write home about. But he did know that Sunnydale was dangerous after dark and if Devon wasn't going after her, he would.
He had followed outside, running to catch up. She was surprisingly quick in her heels, he supposed she'd had a lot of practice as she rarely wore anything else. He caught her elbow and turned her and she stared at him with damp eyes.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"Checking you were ok," he replied with a shrug. "Thought I'd walk you home, see you got there safe."
"Did Devon send you? Because if he did, you can just go because I don't need taking care of!"
"I know. He didn't send me; Devon can do his own dirty work. Come on, it's dangerous in this town."
She had followed him with a sniff. They walked back to her place with her ranting on about Devon, while Oz made non-committal noises that she took to mean he supported her. Apparently, Devon was too busy to come to her house for a family dinner. Oz guessed there was more to it than that, but Cordelia didn't care to elaborate.
They reached her house and she had turned to him, something sparking in her eyes, but he didn't know her well enough to be wary of that look.
"Come in and have a drink," she offered. "Mom and Dad are out at some dinner party."
He had gone in, figuring it couldn't do any harm and she still looked kinda upset. She had poured him wine with a flourish and he had briefly thought it was a waste of good wine, as he had no acquired taste for it.
And it had gone from there really. Oz had never been drunk before that night or since. But suddenly, after four or more glasses of red wine - "Vintage," she had assured him - Cordelia seemed to be a lot more like his type. And the feeling seemed to be mutual.
She had drained her glass and sighed.
"You're the only one that even tries to understand me, Oz," she had said, taking his hand. "I think we're really connecting."
"Yeah," he nodded.
He didn't know who kissed who, but he knew he kissed back. He was also pretty sure it was her first time too, as her fingers shook slightly as they went to his pants.
"We don't have to," he had told her, taking her hand. But as he said it, he realised - whether it was the wine or not, and at that moment he didn't care - he wanted her very much. There was no one else in his life that he wanted his first time to be with and Cordelia was a very nice girl, there was more to her than the girl that ruled the hallways in designer dresses and high heels.
"I know," she nodded. "But I like you. You're way short and not exactly top of the Sunnydale A-List, but you're cute and unlike some people, you actually listen to me. And y'know, I think there's more to you than bad nail polish and hair dye."
"Same here," he answered and she kissed him.
It wasn't bad. It didn't change his world, the earth didn't move. But it… It was nice. He had heard horror stories about first times, how nerves meant you couldn't get it up or halfway through the girl changed her mind. It wasn't like that. They obviously weren't as drunk as they thought 'cause it was pretty good. It could have been worse.
But when he opened his eyes, he got that sinking feeling, 'cause he'd always thought that he would have his first time with the girl he loved. And, nice as Cordelia was, he didn't love her.
And she didn't love him.
He left before she woke up, scrawling one word on a pink piece of paper with a gold pen.
He saw her again on Monday and she smiled at him, pretending like nothing happened. He was quite happy to go along with that, though part of him wanted to talk to her about it, make sure she was ok. She had gotton back with Devon on the Sunday, so Devon told him and Oz wanted to tell her that he wouldn't tell anyone.
But all those thoughts of talking to her were blown out of his head by a small redhead.
He and Cordelia did talk about it. Well, it wasn't an in depth talk about the whys and wherefores, but they did talk about it.
He had thought it ironic that the very people they loved, they people they should have had their first times with would throw him and Cordelia together again.
When she fell through those stairs, she had the strength to push Xander away and Oz hated to see her just laying there on her own while he, Xander and Willow looked on, waiting for the ambulance. He had knelt beside her, gripping her hand and stroking her hair off her forehead. He had ignored Xander's cries that he should go with her in the ambulance and Oz didn't look at either of them as the paramedic closed the doors of the ambulance on he and Cordelia, leaving Willow and Xander outside.
He left once Cordelia was at the hospital, pausing only to call her parents.
He visited her though. Took her chocolates.
"Xander visited," she said quietly after a moment's silence. "I've still got his pictures in my locker," she laughed at that, wincing in pain. "His stupid picture is still in my locker."
"I'll get them for you," he promised her.
"Thank you," she took his hand then. "For everything. For coming to the hospital. Have you… seen Willow?"
"Yeah, but I haven't really talked to her," he shrugged, turning his face away before forcing a small smile as he added. "But I've seen Xander and he's not a happy guy."
"Good," she spat, angry tears welling in her eyes. "You know the worst thing? I actually thought I loved him. I gave up my friends, my status for him and look what he went and did!" she saw the pain on his face and sighed. "Sorry. I forgot. Willow. We both lost out, we're both in pain."
"Yeah, but you've got the whole impaled pain thing going on," he gestured to her stomach.
"Mmmm. Y'know what I've been thinking about a lot lately?" he was silent so she continued, figuring if he didn't care, he would have said so. "I thought that if I was with you and not with Xander, this would never have happened. You wouldn't cheat."
"I'm not saying I want to date you. I just got to thinking 'cause of what happened between us last year. Weird, huh? You and me are together again, in the sense that it was our partners that…"
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"Do you ever think about it?" she asked after a silence. "Us, I mean? Do you ever think about that night?"
"Was it so bad?"
"What?" he turned to her, frowning.
"You left before I woke up and you wouldn't talk about it after. I just figured that you didn't like it."
"It… It wasn't that. I thought you wouldn't want to talk about it, you'd think it was a mistake. It wasn't bad. It was… good."
"Is that why you were sorry? 'Cause you thought it upset me?"
"Y'know… I never thought of it as a mistake. It was just something that happened that was right at that moment… Like the first time Xander and I kissed…"
She fell into depressed silence and he stood up, squeezing her hand in reassurance.
"You ever want to talk, I'm right here for you."
"Thanks. Same here."
He bent down and kissed her forehead, smiling as he left the room, pausing in the doorway to turn back and say, "It's going to be ok."
She gave him a grim smile and popped one of chocolates into his mouth.
By the time he remembered that exchange from just a couple of weeks ago, he had turned into Cordelia's street and paused outside her house. He looked into the window and saw her curled on the couch watching an old black and white movie on her own in the golden glow from the fire. He thought she was going away. He frowned and climbed the porch to her door.
Cordelia was proud, he knew that. So instead of knocking, he turned away and walked down the porch to the street.
He had gone only a little way when he heard his name being called.
He turned to see Cordelia bundled into a large coat and snow boats running after him.
"Hi," she said.
"Hey," he replied. "I thought you were going skiing or something?"
She blushed and lowered her head, shrugging.
"I didn't want to go. Mom and Dad went, I told them I needed some alone time."
"You know about Christmas, right?" he asked. "The whole family thing?"
"They'd be going to some party as soon as the presents were opened anyway," Cordelia answered. "It's no big deal. Anyway, it's nice, I can do what I want and Mom can't disapprove if I have too much cake. Here, I got you something."
She handed him a small package that he unwrapped with fingers so cold they were almost blue.
It was a box of chocolates with a golden guitar decorating the front.
"Thanks," he said sincerely. "You didn't have to… I didn't get you…"
"That's ok," she waved her hand. "I, er, I heard you and Willow got back together?"
"Yeah. I've just come from her house."
"That's good," Cordelia stated firmly. "You two are good together. That's great. I'm pleased for you."
"Thanks. Y'know, maybe you and Xander could…"
"No. I've come to the conclusion that we wouldn't have worked even if he hadn't - well, we could still be friends maybe. And I'm good with that."
Oz nodded and ran his thumb over the embossed gold outline of the guitar.
"You should get in, it's freezing out here."
"Yeah. I'll see you back at school then?"
"Yeah," he shrugged. "But, y'know, the Dingoes are playing the Bronze next Friday."
"Guess I'll see you there then," she treated him to that famous Cordelia Chase 100 mega watt smile before she turned back to her porch.
He started walking again, thrusting one hand into his pocket while the other gripped his gift. His fingers found a small packet and he pulled it out with a smile.
She turned back to him from the first step of her porch and he tossed the unopened packet of gum. She caught it and looked at it, rolling her eyes and shaking her head with a little laugh.
"Thanks!" she called.
He didn't answer and watched her climb up onto her porch. She reached the door when he called out again.
She glanced back at him, her fingers gripping the packet of gum tightly.
Her face relaxed into a warm smile.
"Merry Christmas!" she returned, disappearing into the warmth of her house as he turned back to his route home.
Y'know, he wished his first time could have been with Willow, but right now, he was kinda ok with the fact it was with Cordelia. It wasn't love, but it was friendship. The way he saw it, their time didn't really count because they hadn't been in love.
But if Cordelia thought she could turn to him when she needed to talk because of what happened between them, one good thing had come out of that one night.
And Oz was pleased.