Title: Familiar Faces
Disclaimer: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and other related characters are all properties of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other related corporations. No infringement is intended. This story, such as it is, was written as a sign of respect and love for the characters, the show, and their creator. I claim no ownership of the aforementioned show and characters.
Explanation: This is my story for the Friendship Ficathon on LiveJournal, and it was written for patintexas.
Summary: A small Portuguese bar was the last place Giles expected to see a familiar face.
Feedback: Comments and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.
A small Portuguese bar was the last place Giles expected to see a familiar face. Days of appallingly uncomfortable traveling, which for some reason had included a six mile ride in the back of a cart being pulled by an donkey, hadn't prepared him for this kind of shock. One minute he was muttering to himself about how Xander would never be allowed to make the travel arrangements again, and the next he found himself stopped in the bar's doorway, his eyes drawn to a hauntingly familiar shock of brightly-colored hair. He collected himself for a second or two, then slowly made his way across the floor, pausing just short of a young man sitting at a table with his back to the door.
It can't be him, Giles thought, suddenly feeling foolish. It's been years since you've seen him, and the likelihood of finding him in a run-down bar like this are slim to none.
Living in Sunnydale for almost seven years had taught him something though. Fate was a tricky thing, as were coincidences. Nothing was truly impossible, especially if it involved someone who had lived over the Hellmouth for any period of time whatsoever.
"Oz?" he asked hesitantly.
The man started and spun around quickly, a startled look on his face. His eyes slowly lit up with recognition, and he straightened up as he stared at Giles. The light stubble dotting his chin and the long scar that stretched from eye to ear on his right cheek didn't make him any less recognizable.
"Giles?" Oz asked, his glass hitting the table with a loud thud as he let his hand drop.
Giles stared at the younger man for an instant. Oz had barely changed since the last time he had seen him, and the scar on his face was the only noticeable difference. If he hadn't known any better, Giles would have sworn that he had stepped back in time and somehow ended up in 2000.
"What are you doing here?" they asked simultaneously.
"So you're in charge of the Council now?" Oz asked. "Huh. Never saw that coming."
"Yes, well, I didn't have much choice in the matter," Giles replied, shrugging and emptying the contents of his glass down his throat. "There are only a handful of the original Watchers left, and with all of the new Slayers…"
Oz gave him a look. "That mean Wesley's some Watcher big shot now?"
The smile on Giles's face faded somewhat and he motioned for the barkeep to refill his empty glass. "He was in Los Angeles… as were Angel and Spike."
"I see," the younger man replied softly, glancing down at his hands. He looked back up after a few seconds, though, deliberately meeting Giles's gaze "Those American earthquakes are killers. First Sunnydale, then Los Angeles, then Cleveland…"
"Very terrible," Giles agreed, his eyes darkened.
Oz studied the other man's face for a moment or two. "Time to change the subject?" he suggested.
"I'd still like to know how Xander managed to turn Spike into a golden retriever that one time," Giles said with a grin. "The spell only lasted a few hours, but the pictures Dawn took that day were priceless."
"Not in the slightest," Giles replied. "You wouldn't believe some of the things they got themselves into back in Sunnydale."
Oz gave Giles a level look. "Like stealing weapons from military bases?" he asked dryly.
Giles let out a snort of laughter. "Dear lord, I'd almost forgotten about that," he said, shaking his head. "You'd only known about Buffy's secret for a few days and the first thing they asked you to do was help them steal weapons."
"Never a dull moment," Oz said, his eyes twinkling. "We were quite the team… for awhile, anyway."
"Quite a team," Giles repeated, a faraway expression on his face. He looked at Oz thoughtfully for a moment. "How much do you know about what's been going on the last few years?"
"Not much," he admitted.
"Did you know Buffy died for a few months?" Giles asked. "Or that Willow became evil for a short period of time?"
The confused look on the younger man's face was all the answer he needed.
"I guess I've missed a lot," Oz said, frowning as he spoke. "It's… hard to take in."
"Life moved on without you," Giles said softly. "Willow, Xander, Buffy, Cordelia… You all went your separate ways."
Oz nodded. "It's been almost eight years since graduation," he said, looking away from Giles and instead focusing on glass of amber liquid that he was holding. "Why does it still seem like yesterday?"
"Because that's part of life," Giles said, unconsciously twisting his napkin in his hand. "Your memories are as real today as they were back then."
"Take care of your memories," Oz said as he brought his drink up to his lips, "for you cannot relive them."
Giles gave him a brief smile. "Dylan was a smart man… at times."
"Well, I better be going," Oz said, standing up reluctantly. "There's a full moon tomorrow, and I want to make sure I'm out of the city… just in case."
"I understand." Giles pulled a piece of paper and a pen from his pocket, writing something that Oz couldn't see. "Here."
The younger man raised an eyebrow as Giles pressed the paper into his hand. He glanced down at it, squinting at the neat handwriting in the dim light of the bar. Eyes widening, just slightly, he raised his head and gave Giles a curious look.
"If you need to get in touch with us, call that number," Giles explained. "It's for the Council's new headquarters."
"Thanks," Oz said, slipping the number into the back pocket of his jeans. "Anything I should know before I call? People I shouldn't trust to deliver messages?"
Giles sighed in resignation. "If someone answers the phone with 'may the Force be with you,' then tell him you need to talk to someone else," he finally said. "The same goes for 'live long and prosper'. And anything else that makes you wonder whether or not you've accidentally stepped into some other dimension without knowing it."
Oz stared at him. "Has Xander become a full-fledged geek?"
Giles laughed lightly. "It's not Xander," he said with a smile just bordering on a grimace. "His name is Andrew Wells. He was a year or two behind you at Sunnydale High."
"Andrew Wells," Oz repeated. "Where have I have heard that name before?"
"His brother, Tucker, was the one who set the hellhounds free on prom night. That's probably who you're thinking of."
"No, that's not it," the younger man said, shaking his head. His eyebrows came together as he wracked his brain, then he snapped his fingers. "Was he the kid who set the flying monkeys loose on the talent show?"
"What?" Giles asked, staring at Oz in confusion.
Oz smiled, thinking back on memories that, while not exactly fond, still struck him as sardonically amusing. He glanced down at his watch. There was time.
Sitting back down, he signaled the barkeep for another round. "It all started when the Spanish department decided to show The Wizard of Oz..."