Dingoes Ate My Baby, the poster says. This Friday at the Bronze!
It's tattering and starting to fade. Giles carefully pulls it away from the lamppost it's wrapped around, and only loses a couple of corners.
"Dude," says a voice behind him. "You were a fan?"
Giles jumps and reaches into his pocket for a stake, then realizes it's still daylight. There's nothing to fear but the embarrassment of being caught doing something he's far too old for. The incriminating poster in his hand, he turns around. "Of sorts, yes."
The boy is every bit as young as Giles feared, and he's wearing a shirt with blue-and-orange swirls that would've done justice to Ethan in his heyday. "Don't think I ever saw you at a show." It's not a hostile question, just an idle one. Slumped against the wall, hands in pockets, the boy might as well wear a sign declaring: I am bored.
Giles only shrugs. He never saw the Dingoes play. He never even particularly wanted to. It was just an impulse, born out of how dull and strange he's been feeling, that made him take the poster. "I'm sorry that the band broke up."
A little life comes into the boy; he shakes his head and stands up straighter, still limp with ennui but at least on his feet. "Unbelievable. Fucking Oz, man. The band was it, everything. Since we were thirteen. And then he ditches town on account of chick troubles. Never seen a guy so pussy-whipped in my life." He takes the poster out of Giles' hand, look at it blankly for a minute, then gives it back. "We were gonna be famous."
"Well, there are more important things in life than music," Giles says. Demons, beasts in the blood, staying human. Little as he knows about Oz, he knows more than this boy who's been Oz's friend since childhood. Which only makes Giles' dullness sink a little lower, grow a little colder and heavier, into what must be sadness.
"No." The boy shakes his head again, not in wonder but in flat denial. "There really aren't."
Let him believe it. If Sunnydale hasn't knocked sense into him by now, Giles certainly doesn't have the energy.
Giles has half-turned to leave when the boy says, "Hey. Wanna get high?" He laughs when Giles looks up and down the street. "Not here. My place. It was the band's house, when there was a band."
Whatever made Giles reach out to pull the poster away from its staples now makes him nod and fall into step beside the boy, who starts telling him stories about great gigs in Los Angeles and Monterey, and how they almost got to open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers once. Giles doesn't say that he's never heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He also doesn't say that he has no idea of the boy's name. Whoever he is, he's assumed that Giles must know him. It goes, somehow, with the bright shirt and the stories that he's clearly told a hundred times: this boy's been practicing to be a celebrity until it's second nature. He never asks Giles' name.
Small-town stardom may not have done much for the boy's manners, but, Giles discovers, it's certainly got him good weed. Sitting with his back against the bed, passing the joint back and forth, Giles starts to feel like a teenager again. He doesn't recognize the music that's playing, or like it much, but he's relaxed, mellow, his backbone going loose until he's slid into a sprawl that matches the boy's.
At the end of a long story about a cop in San Diego and how the whole band almost ended up in jail because Oz had to try and reason with the guy, the boy stops, silent for the first time in what seems like hours. "I miss the little fucker," he says finally.
Yes, Giles thinks. That's what it is, this blank restless feeling. That's why he's taking posters and using illegal drugs with a boy he met in the street. It's the feeling of missing someone. Or having missed something. Getting the smell instead of the feast, watching the film with the sound off. He doesn't think he ever had a proper conversation with Oz.
"Hey," the boy says. He stubs out the tiny remnant of the joint and puts his hand on Giles' knee. "Wanna, like, make out? It'd be fun." Maybe he's run out of stories; he looks bored again.
It probably would be fun, with this good-looking boy and the slow languor of marijuana that always makes sex better. At least, it would be something to do, to pass a little time until that dull sense of loss goes away. "Yeah," Giles says, sliding a palm up the boy's thigh. "Why not?"