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Mistakes, Accidents, Miracles and Disasters

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Sunnydale, CA, February 23, 1998

 

On Monday, Giles was up and hard at it in the library before dawn came.  At least he wanted to be hard at it.  He tried to bury himself in his work, but he couldn’t sustain the enthusiasm to carry through any sort of action. Three miles away, at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, the womb of the Earth had been breached to admit the mortal remains of Jenny Calendar. He had not been allowed to come. “There are reasons,” Jenny’s aunt had explained darkly, piously, “why the Kalderash and the Councilmen stay out of one another’s business.” There was an unspoken sense that death was what any woman could expect of getting involved with the likes of him. By force of will he pushed from his mind the images of his fallen Slayers and of the torn and savaged body of Celeste Pummil.

“God! What fools these mortals be!” Giles murmured, choking on the ashes of all the days he’d burned stoking his righteous anger at Jenny for failing to open her deepest secrets to him. When a woman, the woman, says to a man that she loves him and that if only she could get right with him she would be right with the world, what an ass he must be to say anything but ‘all is forgiven!’ What a fool he had been even on the last day of Jenny’s life, at the moment of his triumphant surrender, merely to smile and hint that there would be a time and place for their love soon enough! It had not come soon enough. Never again would he hold her, never touch her hair, never kiss her lips this side of heaven or hell. He would never make love to her even once as he should have done again and again and again, every day and twice on Sunday for the past twelve months. Because he had thought that it could wait!

He should have known better. He should have grabbed her and fucked her where she stood! If he’d have done that, he’d have still been with her when Angelus came. He might have saved her. He might at least have died trying! And even if she had died and he had lived, it would have been the right thing to do. It would have made a fact of truth. They would have been lovers forever if he but once had been inside her.

Because he had never laid her down on his bed, or the floor of her classroom or the damned and bloody ground, had never pealed the clothing from her body like the wilted outer petals of a flower, had never spread her thighs and gazed upon the beauty and the mystery of her most sacred place, had never tasted the acid tang of her cunt, never thrust her open with the wood hard shaft of his penis, never poured forth his life into her in the holy sacrament of orgasm; the universe was poorer, less as it should be. In his excessive moderation, his reckless caution, his ridiculous dignity, he had robbed her, robbed them both, of what should have been the ecstasy of that most perfect union. Confused though he was by his feelings for Buffy, Giles was certain of Jenny. She was the one and always would be. But she would always be gone.

And that still, small voice that told him Buffy was ‘the one’ too? Could the sun rise and set at the same time? No! It could not be! He had spread Buffy open and impaled her on his broad cock, had poured himself into the heart of her, only out of his frustrated desire for Jenny. What his depraved heart now wanted to call ‘love’ was mere transference. Or a convenient self-justification for the crimes of lust. It would fade away. It would dwindle in perspective. And if not? God help him! A Watcher in love with his Slayer? There was nothing poetic about that. It was worse than maudlin. It was... insoluble.

The mere fact that he had made love to Buffy was an unsalvageable disaster. The universe was forever less or more or other than it should have been because he once had been inside her. As if that were not horror enough, some unfathomably small portion of him remained inside her still, some microscopic germ of information in that sacred alphabet comprised of four letters wherein was writ the revelation of his doom: “Thou hast fucked thy Slayer and thou shalt surely be the father of thine own destruction!”

A mere second’s contemplation of what might happen if Buffy actually bore his child was enough to make him feel truly ill. From the Council’s point of view, Buffy was meant to be a martyr, not a mother. She was to remain a living sacrifice. Until she became the dying kind. If they ever decided that she’d lost sight of what mattered, if they ever felt that she was in danger of betraying her sacred calling, if they thought their lamb was ‘crawling off the altar’...

An image forced itself upon Rupert’s memory: A young woman, her dark hair hanging down across her pale face against the good green table cloth in the big dining room downstairs. Her cloudy green eyes looking through him at nothing. Her voice, singing, calling him, now silent. His father’s loud voice and angry eyes. “Hush, Child,” Grandmother says, “Go back to bed, it’s alright.” He pushed the recollection back where it had come from the way he always did. Never saw it. Never heard it. Never say a word.

Giles reached a trembling hand into his jacket pocket and fingered the tiny packet within, reassuring himself that it was still there and would surely abate the need of any such... maudlin poetics. Even if some rogue particles of himself were still radiating through Buffy’s body seeking the means of fusion and of fission, to collide and join with her own particles then split again, starting a chain reaction that would bring worlds to their ends; he now had the means to disarm them. Surely Buffy would be released today, would come to school, would seek him out. If not, he would have to find a way to deliver the goods to her. He resisted the urge to call her home again. He had left three messages already, at least two too many. One more would show a level of concern uncreditable in anyone but a lover. Or a parent.

The last he had heard, from Xander,as of Sunday night, twenty-four hours after he had left Buffy naked, injured and incapacitated with drink at the Pacific Coast Motor Lodge, she and Willow were still being held for ‘questioning.’ Giles was no expert in American law, but that struck him as much too long. Unless the police actually were trying to force a confession to murder from their lips.

Giles racked his brains, trying once again to think of something, anything he could do for the two girls that would help and not hurt them. He was frustrated by a lack of knowledge. If they were to be charged with murder, his testimony as to what they were really doing in that bathroom could be essential. But if they were ‘only' being charged with forging a prescription, he would be doing nothing but confirm their guilt by exposing himself to prosecution. Nonetheless, he grappled with the injustice of Buffy and especially Willow being punished on account of his failure to restrain his cock while he seemed certain to get off.

Of course, it had been touch and go at that. His sturdy and serviceable Citron was hardly built for speed. So he’d hotwired a sporty little red number instead. With silent apologies to his latest victim, he had gently eased out of the parking lot, emerged onto the two lane blacktop at a measured pace, put two or three miles between himself and the motel, then drove as hard and fast as he could into the vestibule of hell. When he’d gotten all the use he could from the stolen vehicle, he’d dumped it in the alley behind Willy’s Bar, exactly as he imagined Angel might have done, wiped away the evidence of his invasion and sprinted home through the mean back streets of Sunnydale. His own car had been impounded for evidence, having supposedly been an instrument of criminal abduction.

In the clear light of day, he realized he hadn’t done Buffy any favors. She might just as well have gone straight to the police as to have hidden in a motel only a few miles away. The only difference being that they would each be guilty of a few less crimes and the lies they had to tell would’ve been simpler. And he might not have learned that he was perfectly capable of abandoning Buffy to save himself.

****

“Come on honey,” Joyce was able to say at last,“let’s go home.” She had been at Buffy’s side through one nauseous, interminable night in the hospital and a still longer day and night of intermittently intense ‘voluntary questioning’ by every law enforcement officer in Del Bacco County and a State Police polygraph examiner who’d come down specially from San Diego. After he’d repeatedly challenged Buffy on her ‘deceptive’ responses about Angel, she’d told him with a straight face that Angel was a 240 year-old vampire who had killed literally thousands of people and that she’d fucked him to the point of such ecstasy that it had destroyed his very soul. When both claims scored as one hundred percent honest, he had resigned in frustration. It had been strongly hinted that if ‘voluntary questioning’ didn’t get the cops what they wanted soon, they were ready to break out the shackles. But evidently they had finally admitted defeat, declaring that they had learned everything about the murders that they expected to from Buffy and Willow and that they were not prepared to charge either of them. Not that they didn’t still believe the girls were involved, they just couldn’t prove it.

Joyce knew Buffy was lying about her sojourn at the Pacific Coast Motor Lodge. She’d told Xander she was ‘safe’ long before she had been ‘rescued’. She’d also told the police that Angel was with her at the motel until well past the time of his assault on the house. Clearly he had been gone long enough for Buffy to have left the motel if it wasn’t where she wanted to be. Joyce tried not to parse this fact too closely. It was hard enough being forced to show herself a liar and a fool by contradicting her earlier identification of Angel. She didn’t want to think about the fact that she had raised a daughter who would willingly subject herself to the sexual attentions of a monstrous, dead-eyed, raper of corpses in the name of ‘love’. Not that anyone could ‘prove’ that either. Buffy had adamantly refused to have anything but her leg examined insisting that Angel had kidnapped and battered her but never laid a hand or anything else on her in a sexual way, no matter how many witnesses confirmed that she had lost a pair of torn panties while crawling through the ceiling of the Mall Twin Theater with Angel at a time when he was clearly still holding Dr. Rosenberg hostage.

Not all of the questioning had been so fruitless. Both girls had readily confessed to stealing the prescription pad, each claiming the transgression as her own. Apparently, they had had the bright idea to put themselves on the Pill without telling their parents they were having sex. Once it was clear that had nothing to do with the murders, no more had been said about it. Confident that that part of the ordeal was over, they’d just emerged from the station when two uniformed officers came up behind them. “Buffy Summers,” they not-asked.

“What now?” Joyce demanded, exhausted and exasperated.

“We have a warrant,” the taller officer explained, “to take this juvenile into custody.”

“What?” Buffy sputtered. “They just said they couldn’t—”

“On what grounds?” Joyce demanded loudly, silencing her daughter with a gesture. The shorter officer, a bald, fat man whose thick neck and double chin made his head look just a little like the head of a penis, began to read out a long list of charges that included everything from forgery and theft by deception to attempted prescription drug fraud, but nothing whatsoever about murder. Other than a charge of public drunkenness and one of indecent exposure, it was all about the prescription pad. “But they just said I could take her home!” Joyce protested.

“Not at this time,” said the dick-headed officer. “We have to be take her to the JDC in Fondren to get processed. Of course we have our hands pretty full, working on quite a backlog, but we should be able to get her done in... oh... about twenty-four hours.”

“Oh, no!” Buffy protested looking panicked. “I don’t have twenty-four hours!” Three adults stared at her. “I mean...” she fumbled, “I have to go to school! I have to... do things.”

“The only thing you have to do” said the lengthier but much less penis shaped cop, “is come.”

**** 

London, UK, March, 29, 1925

The persistent tapping at Peter's front door didn't go away, no matter how much he ignored it. It just got more and more insistent. The women and the servants were out, of course, except for cook, who was busy in the kitchen and not responsible for the door.

Tiredly, he glanced up at the Cookoo clock on the wall of his study, before he remembered he had disabled it (or perhaps more accurately disemboweled it) the last time it had cheerfully suggested that he take note of the fact that it was two in the morning. Once he was asleep, Peter Travers could sleep through anything. But when he was uselessly flailing his way through a night of 'vital and urgent research' waiting for dawn, he hated to be disturbed.

Cursing, he shrugged into his sport coat and went downstairs. He more than half expected to see the vicar coming to have another 'man to man' talk with him about missing services and how important it was to be an example for one's family and not to try to shoulder ones spiritual burdens alone. He'd give him that knowing, understanding, big brotherly look again. Idiot. He didn't know. He couldn't understand. They were not brothers.

But no, the service must still be going on. He suddenly remembered they were having guests for lunch, Myrna’s Aunt Clara and her Uncle Archibald, who sat on the Inner Council along with Peter's father. And Helena's.

Helena! It was not strange that he should think of her, for he had thought of nothing else, one way and another, for days on end. Thirty-seven dark days punctuating one impossibly restless night that never ended. But it was strange indeed that she should be standing at his front door. It was as if he had turned a corner in Baghdad or Istanbul and found her there. She was a vision in her drab 'modern' woman's calf length suit, her sensible bun and businesslike expression. An apparition of something long lost to him. Peter could have wept for joy or for sorrow.

He opened his mouth to ask her how she'd been! God the irony, never mind the stupidity! How'd he think she'd been? And yet she looked perfectly well. Calm. Pleasant. Serious. A long, unspeakably painful moment passed. “Won't you come in?” Peter said at last, hardly knowing how else to greet her.

“Good grief, Peter,” She said, with an unnerving little smile, “if I didn’t know any better I’d think I was the one who’d attacked you, the way you’re acting.” There was something in her voice, a sort of casual contempt. She might have been discussing the weather with someone she didn’t much care for.

“I'm sorry if I off—if I—I mean—I didn't mean—not not I'm not—” Peter stammered, uncharacteristically at a loss for words. She laughed at that, a laugh that sounded very unlike Helena. Peter hardly knew if it was his heart that lurched or his stomach. He felt... afraid? “Did you... want something?” he asked.

“It’s been over a month since you raped me,” she reminded him matter-of-factly, as if he could have forgotten. “I thought you’d want to know the results.” It was definitely his heart this time. He waited for her to say the words, praying without real hope that he'd misunderstood her obvious implication. But he hardly knew what to make of the answer to his prayer. “I’m not pregnant,” she said and laughed that strange, brutal laugh again. “To everything there is a season, Peter,” she reminded him, still sounding at once hostile and amused yet within hailing distance of total indifference. “I could have told you the timing was not the best.”

“Thank God!” he gasped, overcome with relief.

She laughed again, sharper, crueler than before. “Do you think it’s as easy as that?” she asked. The HARDNESS in her eyes and in her voice chilled him.

“I don't understand,” he said.

“You promised to give me what I was asking for,” she reminded him. “You failed in that, but the time is now more to my purpose and I will have what you have promised me.”

“God have mercy!” Peter gasped, falling to his knees, looking up at her in pitiable horror.

“It’s not God you need to beg for mercy, Peter!” she scolded him harshly, pulling him to his feet and holding onto him by the collar, “It’s not God you have wronged. Your soul’s debts are owed to me and you will pay them on my terms.”

“Gods and Demons,Helena!” Peter demanded, “Are you mad? You'll be ruined. Don't you realize that!”

She gave him that horrible laugh again, shaking her head. “You don’t understand,” she said, “but you don’t have to.” Her voice was hard and casual again. “Come on,” she added, nodding toward the stairs, “we haven’t got all day.”

Peter knew he should refuse her, but unaccountably, he could not. Was it that he felt she was entitled to what she asked? No! How can a madman be entitle to his madness? But he knew he deserved to have to comply though it did only harm and no good to anyone. He had earned the disgrace she now demanded of him.

“You'll have to explain it all to me again,” he told her apologetically, "what you were saying...” he couldn't look at her, “... the other day. About modern methods of Agriculture.” God, how was he ever supposed to manage to have an erection, let alone an orgasm under these circumstances?

Helena brought forth yet more brutal laughter. “Do you really think it could be that easy to redeem yourself?” she hissed, sounding positively diabolical. “No, Peter, you will sin and be damned and go on sinning until I tell you you have paid the debt you owe me!”

Suddenly, horribly, Peter realized what she meant for him to do. Not what she had asked, but what he had accuse her, so unjustly, of asking. He shook his head. “You don't want that!” he told her earnestly.

Without warning, Helena's hand was on Peter's cock. She grabbed him through his trousers and squeezed him painfully hard. “Don’t tell me what I want, old friend,” She said quite calmly, then laughed a merry, haughty Helena laugh, which startled and confused him. It was as if he were being tormented not merely by this present, bitter, adult woman but also by the child that she had once been, by her whole self, with out regard to time. He tripped through the tall grass of Aunt Katernine's country place, beyond the barn and the mill pond, through the endless jumbled summers of an eternal, ephemeral, momentary childhood his beloved playmate at his heals, lightly bounding after him, to devour him, a wolf, with innocent laughter on her lips.

“Upstairs,” she ordered. Her voice was hard and flat. He followed her up. She lay down on his bed, Myrna's bed, fully clothed, waiting. Peter stared down at her, no notion of what he should do next. “Your wife will be home in an hour,” she reminded him impatiently.

He could see she wasn’t intending to make love with him in any active sense. She expected him to do in cold blood what he had done in the heat of passion, to violate her while she lay there neither inviting nor resisting him. “I don't think I can do this,” he half pleaded, half apologized. “Physically, I mean. The... act itself. I don't think I can … become aroused.”

“I have confidence in you, Peter,” she said with hard, flat heavy irony. “If it helps, imagine that I'm begging you to stop.” Peter felt a stab of guilt and, paradoxically a flash of anger, of resentment. She was stabbing him with his guilt deliberately, after all.

He could hear the clock in the upstairs hall ticking. He wanted her gone before Myrna and the girls came home for certain. And Uncle Archibald. Just imagine! Clearly, he had to do whatever he was going to do quickly. Turning her away unsatisfied wouldn't be a swift process.

Without looking at her, Peter stripped himself from the waist down and walked over to the bed. Helena ran a cool, appraising eye over his exposed genitals, then made clear with a contemptuous snort that she was unimpressed. This scrutiny wilted what little progress Peter had made towards an erection. But it also made him angrier with her, and anger is a feeling that tends to push guilt and shame out of its way.

Peter pushed up Helena's skirt and found that she wore nothing under it. He smiled grimly at the physical pun involved and lay down on top of her body. He rubbed his unimpressive penis against her much more inspiring vulva, trying to ignore the fact that her body was as ridged as a two day old corpse. His heart quickened as his body began to respond to hers at last, despite his anguish and regret.

Unbuttoning her jacket and blouse, Peter slid his hands under her camisole and squeezed her breasts. He closed his eyes to keep from seeing the tears in hers, the hard set of her mouth, her hands twisted in the sheets, knuckles turning white. He thumbed her nipples and they responded to him, just as if to the touch of a welcome lover. “If you let me kiss them,” he whispered, “I think it might speed matter up considerably.”

“Do whatever you like,” Helena said, somewhere between indifference and contempt. Hating himself, knowing better, Peter took her invitation at face value. He lifted her camisole and buried his face in her chest, rubbing and nuzzling her, lapping like a puppy at a bowl of milk. His cock was more than half hard now. His blood began to boil with the anticipation of thrusting it once again inside her. But the memory of her cries of pain disturbed him, restrained him. He needed reassurance that, no matter how sordid the circumstances that had lead to the sexual act, this time she was his accomplice rather than his victim.

Peter slid his hand between the outer fold of Helena's sexual parts, finding only the very slightest hint of lubrication. Exploring a little deeper, to the surface of her inner lips, he found much the same. Worse still, her already ridged body, impossibly, stiffened further at his touch, threatening him with the opposite reaction.

Peter persevered. Only slightly embarrassed at the indignity of the act, given what he has already done, Peter inserted the first two fingers of his left hand, the hand that had not yet touched her, into his own mouth and pulled them out, slick with saliva, which he rubbed into Helena's intimate parts until she softened just a little, physically at least. He glanced hopefully, helplessly in the general direction of her face, praying to see a look of mild anticipation or at least of calm acceptance.

This time, his prayers were not answered. Fat tears rolled down Helena's cheeks. Her eyes were shining with rage. “Damn it, Peter,” she said, “get on with it!” If he was going to, he had better. As it was, he had to spread her open with his fingers in order to penetrate her. Still, once he was inside, the act itself aroused him and he was better able to continue. Despite her less than receptive emotional state, Helena was a little bit more prepared, physically, for his carnal attentions. The balance of fluidity and friction was more as it should have been, not that it could easily have been much worse than the first time.

Peter tried not to think about that. Tried not to think at all, to locate his consciousness entirely in is body rather than his mind, to live presently in the physical sensations of that moment. It was hard for him. He was not usually a-present-in-the-physical-moment sort of person, although in the act of raping Helena, he certainly had been. But now the life of the mind had returned to him with a vengeance. It was as though he were being punished, plagued by inescapable, eternal contempativity for the abominable acts he had committed in that one moment of blissful thoughtlessness.

But wherever his mind wandered, his cock was still thrust deep inside Helena, sliding to and fro with the short, swift, clumsy, uneven strokes of an man whose concentration is elsewhere. At last, it stiffened a little more fully and then released. With something between a groan and a sigh, Peter rolled off of her. Helena stood and began arranging her clothes back into place. This time her hair hadn't even come undone.

**** 

Sheila hung back a moment at the station’s entrance, not wanting to insert herself into the situation of the Summers girl’s arrest, not willing to endure another moment of conversation with that Harpy mother of hers. Buffy was shamelessly jerking the officers around, blocking their efforts to penetrate to the truth, yet Joyce insisted on shielding her. It was more than the surviving Dr. Rosenberg could handle.  Her own daughter’s insistence on backing up the girl’s ridiculous version of events was tearing her up inside. What could you say to a child whose misplaced loyalties were so strong that she would stand by the degenerate who’d been caught sexually pleasuring her father’s killer in celebration of his murderer? Sheila could say nothing to her daughter, could hardly stand to look at her. She had sent her lawyer on a head to Fondren to deal with Willow’s business while she handled her own. 

As Joyce brought her tirade to a screaming finish, Sheila hurried unnoticed to her silver LexusShe refused to cry. Moisture wasn’t going to do her any good right now. Of course, she would have told anyone else in her position that crying was healthy, cathartic. But Sheila did not have time to hurt or heal. She had to remain firm, to try to keep a hold on what was left of her family, to force her daughter, however unwillingly to face reality. She had things to do.

After stops at the synagogue and the school, Sheila drove home and pulled into the garage. She sat there for a long while not moving, not wanting to go the rest of the way inside, dreading the violation she was about to commit. There was no avoiding it. She mounted the stairs and entered Willow’s room. At first she assumed that the books and papers spilled across daughter’s bedspread were the evidence of an interrupted bout of homework. But as she looked more closely she found that all of this material was actually her husband’s. Sheila examined the mess carefully. Each of the articles her daughter had been reading had the same, very specific, topic: the prevention of pregnancy after the fact of sexual intercourse. 

So Buffy had had a brush with truth in claiming sole responsibility for theft. She had spread her legs for her homicidal paramour when abuse of that poor woman’s corpse had been insufficient to sate the perverted lust he felt upon taking a human life.  She had done it again twenty-four hours later, becoming a receptacle for the semen he had produced in his ecstatic enjoyment of taking Ira from her.  It changed nothing, Sheila decided. Both girls had robbed her husband regardless of who was to benefit. Willow was as much a principal in the crime as if she had invited Ira’s killer to come inside her own body.

God! Why had her husband ever insisted on bringing another person into this evil world, into their lives, their home, their marriage? Why had she let him? He had been enough for her, the only person she’d ever needed or wanted to care about. But he had been so full of love. He needed more than one outlet. Her emptiness aching inside her, Sheila carried Ira’s things back to his study, put them away and locked the door. Mechanically, she walked downstairs, sat at the kitchen table and steeled herself to await her daughter’s return.  She had nine more months until Willow became an adult responsible for her own welfare.  Nine months was not such a long time.  As she had done once before, for Ira's sake, she would ride it out.

****

By mid-morning, Giles had run out of things to do in his office. He was sitting at a table, books spread before him, trying to distract himself by cross referencing Judeo-Christian descriptions of demons with their Classical Egyptian and Greco-Roman counterparts. Feeling himself the object of quiet, intense oculation, he looked up. Oz’s eyes silently penetrated him with a resolve that would not be denied.“Erm... how are you... this morning?” Giles fumbled awkwardly.

“How am, I?” said Oz in a tone that his most intimate friends might have recognized as indignant. “I just got through teaching a class? In computer science? Which is cool because apparently it gets me out of doing my math class for some reason? The only thing is, I got asked to do it because my girlfriend wasn’t here to get asked, I guess? Because she’s... in jail? Okay, so here’s the thing. She’s in jail, apparently, for stealing something which I know for a fact she does not need, and which, from what I’ve been told, I kind of didn’t think Buffy needed either. But, see, I don’t know for a fact about Buffy, and if anybody does, it’d just about have to be you.”

This was followed by what Giles studiously avoided thinking of as a pregnant pause. “What do you want me to say?” he finally managed.  Oz’s glare intensified, forcing Giles to look down at his lap, which seemed to stare guiltily back at him.

“You know,” said Oz contemplatively, just a bit contemptuously, “Willow really looks up to you. She practically worships you. In fact,” he added with a small, bitter exhalation in the direction of a laugh, “You could probably get her on her knees pretty easy if that’s what you’re into these days. She thinks you’re some kind of hero, some great intellectual warrior in the battle between Good and Evil. And, I don’t know, maybe you are.

"But what I see? From where I’m sitting? Men with guns put my girlfriend in chains so you could get away with getting your knob polished by a girl who’d have to stand on a milk crate to reach half your age. So it looks to me like you’re using Willow—and Buffy for that matter—to fight your own personal battles, and putting them in harm’s way to do it. I have a real problem with that. See in my book, that’s not something a hero would do.”

“You're right,” Giles admitted, burying his face in his hands. “This entire... situation is... I should never have let this happen.”

Oz’s features betrayed a tiny hint of grim amusement. “You Brits aren’t called the kings of understatement for nothing,” he observed.

“You aren’t going to try and...erm... ‘pound’ me are you?” Giles asked.

“Probably not,” Oz mused. “I’m thinking I might eventually bite you, though, depending on how things go.”

Giles made an unpleasant face as he contemplated this, then shrugged philosophically. “Fair enough, I suppose,” he admitted.

“Fair enough,” Oz repeated. With a slight nod, he backed towards the library door and withdrew.