He gets a package, care of the monastary, december twenty seventh. post marked Hammersmith, England, and the monks kept it for him almost a month. No name, no return address. Of course.

Oz left most of technology behind when he started travelling. television, radio, telephone. he can't seem to dispose of his battered discman though, because he's a child of the nineties and if some day, Pearl Jam is the answer to his every single prayer, he has to be able to listen to it.

Thailand is beautiful in December, cold and raining sometimes but still beautiful. Oz ended up travelling south, slowly, and thailand is as south as most people ever get in Asia. they end up on the coast and just stop.

The bungalow he rents is about twenty five dollars US a month, and it's right on the beach. Every morning he goes outside and swims, and his skin is pink and peeling. the woman who rents him the building, one room and a toilet, jokes about his skin eventually going brown. Oz tips her well and she cooks for him every other night.

the monastary on the mainland holds his mail. Mostly it's just cheques, newspapers, and those wait until he's out of money again before he goes to pick them up.

this package is light. there's a cd in it, and because he doesn't exist within a world of technology anymore, the boy staring out from the jacket is a stranger. it can't have been meant as a christmas present, since it was mailed in october and besides, Thailand is buddhist and Oz thinks he is as well.

he suspects that it isn't even meant as a present, that it's meant as something else. some thoughtful person has underlined track five and said "there was a bit of a problem with Willow," beside it, inside the case so he has to go looking to find it.

He has to buy new batteries to even hear the song, and it almost seems like too much trouble. but Oz does anyway. it's obviously taken a lot of nerve to abuse the address he left to mail him this message, so Giles obviously has something to say.

it's still not a very good cd.

the only other cryptic comment left for him, Oz discovers as he's eating Pad Thai beside the ocean and watching the tropical sunset. Giles has scrawled hastily, "be careful, for gods' sake" in a hurry. Oz can clearly imagine it, the postscript after the gesture, and it's this part that worries him.

he finishes his dinner and goes next door to the little travel agent. Everything in Thailand is beautiful, laid back, small. the girl who lives next door can book him a flight back to England.