Filling In The Blanks

"It's okay, Will."

She frowned and climbed off the bed. "I feel like I'm intruding here. I'll just go and then you two can do whatever it is you do."

As she pulled her clothes back on and walked out of the room, Xander felt his heart leave with her. Until Oz had brought it up, the idea of the three of them together hadn't even crossed Xander's mind. But once it had been proposed, it seemed like a really, really good idea. Until they actually tried to do it. Then their assorted inhibitions and insecurities took over. And then Oz pulled on his own clothes and stood to follow her, and Xander discovered that he could indeed feel more pain than when she walked out.

Oz left the door open, so Xander could hear the conversation while he dressed as well. "Will? Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Rustling noises. "Where are my keys?"

"Here." A jingling sound. "No, you can't have them. Not yet."

"Please, Oz?" A small, sad voice. "Just give me my keys, and I'll leave you two in peace. You won't have to split your attention between him and me. We can talk later if you still want to."

A long moment of silence. "Xander? Can you come out here?"

Xander walked into the living room to find Willow covering her face with her hands and Oz just standing there with a lost look on his face and her keys in his hand. Xander took the keys and wrapped his arms around Willow. "Hey. It's okay. Here are your keys." When she didn't move, he dropped them on the floor rather then let her go. They stood there, his arms embracing her quietly crying body, for several minutes until Oz finally moved to them, standing beside them with his arms at his side. Now Xander moved one arm to reach out to Oz, pulling the smaller man to the pair. "Remember when we were little and it was the Three Musketeers? You, me, and Jesse? All for one and one for all?" She nodded. "Well, that's what this is. Except I need you in a different way than I need Oz, and he needs you and me in different ways. We're not replacing each other. We're just... filling in the blanks. If you leave, there will still be holes I can't help with. And I'll have spaces he won't fill, and I'm pretty sure the same goes for you. And I'm not talking about sex. When I thought you had been turned into a vampire, I couldn't do anything. Giles insulted me, and I couldn't even work up any sort of indignation. Even thinking about it now, even though I know you're okay, I just get this sick feeling. I need you. And so does he. And I know you need us."

She smiled half-heartedly. "When did you get so smart, Xander?"

"When I needed him." Oz tightened his arms around the other two. "There are some things I haven't told you. I can't tell you. It's not that they're secrets. It just hurts too much to talk about some things. But Xander happened to be there when certain things came up, and he helped me through them."

Now she pulled away a bit. "So he knows stuff about you that I don't know?"

Oz nodded. "But it's stuff that I can't tell you about. It's not that they're secrets, but I just can't tell you about this stuff. And it was really, really hard to talk about this stuff once with Xander. I can't do it again. He was like my therapist."

"Is it about me?"

"No. In fact, I think that's why I can't tell you. It's, well, guy stuff, I guess. Stuff that happened before we met." She continued to frown. "And nothing to do with any other female that I'm not related to. It's family stuff."

She was silent for a long moment. Finally, she relaxed a bit. "Okay. I guess I can handle that. But no secrets about me?"

"Agreed." The two males spoke simultaneously.

She smiled, a bit more tension draining from her body. "Sharing a brain?" The two males nodded, prompting her to laugh. "Obviously."

"So what do we do now?" Xander's voice shook ever so slightly. "I mean, just trying to jump into things didn't work. If it had, we wouldn't be standing here doing the group-hug-after-tense-discussion thing."

Willow pulled away from their arms completely. "Can we take things slowly? I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the Bronze, but now things are..."

"Weird?" She nodded. Oz sighed. "Yeah. I know what you mean. It's like we're trying to force something that will happen, but since we're pushing, things are going wrong."

"So you think this will definitely happen?"

"Of course." Now Xander's fingers ran down the side of her face. "Just not today. I don't want to push you into anything that makes you feel weird or forced, Will." He grinned. "Unless it's forcing you to watch weird stuff."

She eyed him suspiciously. "What are you talking about, Xander?"

Now he attempted an innocent expression. He failed. "Wouldn't you like to know?" At Oz's stern look, Xander relented. "Okay, so it's not that weird. Movies, Will. And regular movies. Oz picked them out."

"I didn't trust his taste." Oz rested his arm across Xander's shoulder to show he wasn't serious about the insult.

Willow grinned. "Good move. He's forced me to sit through some truly horrific things. I think some of them have marked me for life." She sighed. "So what are we going to do now? Tonight?"

Oz shrugged. "Watch movies? We're here, the tapes are here, and I can make popcorn."

"Hmm... Decisions, decisions." She pretended to consider the many more exciting options they had. Truthfully, it sounded good. Just the three of them, cozy on the couch in front of the television. "Okay. So what did you get?"

"The Trigger Effect and Billy Madison."

"Oh." She tried to hide her frown but failed.

"What's wrong?"

She sighed. "Next time, Xander gets to pick out the movies."

Oz feigned injury. "You'd do that to me?" She nodded. He shrugged. "Okay. But can I still make popcorn?"

"Yeah. After we go back and get different movies."

Oz sighed heavily. "All right. If you insist."

"I do." Willow picked up Oz's hand and headed for the door. But then she turned back to Xander. His expression -- lost and abandoned -- reminded her why they were there. She dropped Oz's hand and moved back to Xander's side, wrapping her arms around his waist and propping her chin on his chest. "Come on, save me from his taste in movies?" She inhaled sharply as his hands moved to her head and trailed through her hair.

Oz cleared his throat, and the two longtime friends pulled apart. "Oh, no, you guys were okay." He sneezed. "Allergies." He coughed again.

Xander spoke up. "We can stop and get something for that while we're out, okay?" Willow watched as Xander shifted into protective mode, moving away from her and hovering over Oz. It was an amazing thing to see -- Xander, acting like an adult. Suddenly, she realized that whatever brought the two males to this point really did have nothing to do with her. But what was happening at that moment -- as well as whatever happened after -- involved them all. Oz sniffled, wiped his nose, and nodded. "Oz, I think it's more than allergies. I think you need to just take it easy this weekend, okay? Will and I can go get movies and cold stuff while you stay here and sleep."

"No. If I go get the stuff, maybe it will scare the cold away." Reluctantly, Xander nodded, accepting the fuzzy logic and realizing that there was no way Oz was going to stay behind while Xander and Willow had the power to select the movies for the evening. "And then you can come back here and drop me off, and I can try to keep my germs to myself."

Willow shook her head. "We share. If we're going to spend lots of time together, we're going to be exposed to all the same germs anyway, so there's not much point in avoiding each other when someone's sick."

"Will --" She cut off his objection with a kiss. "Well, okay, I guess you've made up your mind."

She nodded, stepping away. "Xander? Your turn." He stared at her blankly. "You have to get exposed if you want to build up an immunity." Cautiously, he pulled her against him, gently pressing his lips to hers. When he released her, she nervously glanced at Oz watching them. "Um, that's nice, but it's not quite what I meant."


"I think she means this." Oz pulled Xander's head down to his, lacing his fingers through dark hair while kissing not quite as chastely as Xander and Willow had just seconds before.

"Yeah. It is." At the sound of her voice, the two males pulled apart. She glanced at the clock. "We need to go now if we want to get any good movies." She picked up Oz's previous choices and walked out the door.

Catching up with her while Oz locked the door, Xander carefully grabbed her elbow. "Are you really okay with this? I mean, we've got a big shock here. All of a sudden, your boyfriend is neither heterosexual nor monogamous." He took a deep breath. "And neither am I."

She gazed at him with serious eyes. "I think it will be okay. I mean, yeah, it's going to take getting used to. A lot of getting used to. But it's you, and it's Oz. It's not like it's some random person, and it's not like he's leaving me. He's just bringing you to us. And we're all sharing each other. It's just... I want to take this slowly. I mean, Oz and I went out for over a year before we, well, you know. So right now, I think this is enough."

"Hey, are you two talking about me?" Oz slipped his arms around their waists.



He was so happy with their acceptance of the situation that he missed the conspiratorial look that passed between Willow and Xander. But there was no way he could miss the result of the unspoken discussion.

And no way the pair could hide their giggles when they goosed Oz.

Oz sighed. "This is what I get for getting involved with lifelong friends." He tightened his arms around their waists. "Thanks."