Can't Touch The Sun

"I can't do this anymore, baby. I'm sorry."

"Oz...please...don't go."

Oh God. This can't be happening. I...fuck. Oh god. Please, don't let this be happening. I don't want to be responsible for Oz leaving her.

"Why? What reason do I have to stay?"

"I love you. That...Oz, that has to be enough. I love you. I want to be with you."

Listen to her, Oz. She does love you. She said so.

She said so while she was lying in my bed. In my arms. Oh God...I did this. I should have said no. Should have told her to go home. Should have called him. Something.

"No you don't."

"I do. Oz...please believe me. I love you."

"Dammit, Willow, don't fucking say that! You don't love me. You never did."

I can hear her crying and I want to go in there and hug her. But that's what started this whole thing again. She had a fight with Oz, came running to me, and we kissed.

We kissed and she looked up at me and she was crying and I...

Don't dwell on it, Harris. Don't think about it.

"How can you say that?"

Oh, Will. Stupid question. Even I know that.

"You...touch him, look at him in a's something else, Will. It really is."

I'm so sorry, Oz. I never meant...

I fucked up. Wow, did I ever.

"He's my best friend!"

"That's a wonderful thing. He should be your best friend. He's a good guy. You just shouldn't sleep with him while you're engaged to someone else. That's just a bad, wrong thing."

"I didn't mean to."

"No, you never do, do you?"

"It just kind of happened, I swear. I didn't know we were going to..."

"Have sex?"


"I need to go, baby."

"We can work through this. You can't just give up on us."

"Watch me."

Oh, shit, Oz...don't walk out. Come on, you're a smart guy...don't just leave. I don't want this on my conscience. You two are so...right together. Please, don't throw it away. Not because of me. I'm not worth it.


"Let go, Willow."

"Oz, please."

"Don't you get it? Do you understand how much it hurt to see you in his bed? To know that I wasn't good enough for you? To know that no matter what I did, I never would be? Do you even realize what that feels like? I loved you. I still do. But I'm not staying here and letting you walk all over me. I deserve better."

Christ, he's coming my way. Okay, act cool, Harris. Pretend you weren't just listening to your two closest friends rip each other up. Yeah, I'm cool, I'm suave...

And there he is. He looks so...tired. I put that look on his face. Me.

"Hey, Oz."

Nothing. God...I feel sick.

The door opens behind me and I just know Willow is standing there, looking fragile and wounded. I can see it in Oz's face. He wants to go to her and protect her from all the badness, and he can't.

And we're all just standing there, not saying anything. I mean, what can I say that won't make things worse? I thought that maybe I could explain or something, There's not a single thing I can say that's going to make this all right.

He's looking at me with this expression. Nothing hostile, nothing angry, just really sad.


Well, he's talking to me. That's good right?


"She's all yours."

I can't think of anything to say. I just watch him walk away and try not to throw up. I don't want Willow. Not this way. How could he think that I would?

Oh yeah, because I slept with his fiancee. That's right. Because I'm a bastard.

I have to fix this. It's my mess, and I will fix it. I need to.


It's funny, but I never thought Oz was a museum going type of guy. I figured him for concerts in the park and stuff. But here he is, walking through an exhibit of ancient Roman porn. Statues and paintings and things. Like the Spice channel, except without the editing.

But here he is, and here I am, and here we are together. Except we're not. Because I'm stalking him.

Okay, I'm not. I'm just following him without his knowledge because I want to talk to him, and I'm on the afraid side of doing that. He has a temper like you wouldn't believe. He gets all quiet and deeply scary and Spock-like and then wham! something goes flying into a wall. But anyway, I'm rambling. I'm not stalking Oz. I'm just trying to work up the nerve to talk to him.

Yeah, that's it. Yeah.

I'm not afraid of Oz. Suck it up, Harris. You're bigger than he is. And he's never hurt a person, except for that one time after Valentine's Day...

The first time me and Willow hurt him.

Dammit, why couldn't he just hate me? It would be so much easier. I wouldn't care, and he wouldn't care, and I'd be with Willow right now celebrating her near-miss with the wrong guy. Except...he's not the wrong guy. And we all know it.

He treated her so well.

God, that sounds so lame.

Oz treated Willow like a goddess. He...lit up every time she turned and smiled at him. And he was always just touching her, or stroking her hair or something like he couldn't believe she was real. It was so unreal to see my Will with someone else. Someone who looked at her like she was just the most amazing thing since sex.

And she didn't notice. She was so busy being New and Improved Witchcraft Willow, Eradicator of Evil, that she didn't notice the little things. Like how Oz looked so proud every time he saw her, or how Giles got so giddy sometimes. Or even how I grew up.

I mean...I like to think that I've grown up. That I've matured into a tolerable human being. That I'm not like Super Oblivious Guy anymore. And I think I'm right. But to Willow, I'm still goofy Xander, her best friend. And I find myself being that guy around her, because that's what she wants, and because I love her.

But I don't want to be that guy anymore.

I want...I want Oz to not be mad at me, even though he has every reason to be. I want Willow to be happy. I want to be happy. And I think I will be happy with Willow. But not with Oz standing between us like he is. Which is why I'm here. To ghostbust a little and pave the way for some bliss.

Okay, I see him. And I'm walking and there he is, and oh God he's looking at me and I want to turn and run far, far away. Can't do this, sorry Will. I can't face down your ex-boyfriend after I took the first opportunity to screw him over that presented itself.

So I turn to go, not saying a word, and I half expect him to stop me. Before, he would have. Oz would have made some smartass remark and I'd laugh and then talk about whatever was bothering me. That's what we did. And it was a comfort to be able to talk to someone about some stuff. I mean, there's just some things you don't talk to your female best friend about. Ever. So it was nice, y'know? To have a guy friend again and stuff. I want Oz to stop me, and I want things to go back the way they were.

But he doesn't come after me, and I feel like I've lost Jesse all over again and it's not fucking fair.

I go back to Willow. To the apartment that she and Oz shared, and to being who she wants to see. And I can't help but wonder why my life has turned into one big, cosmic joke. I finally have the girl I want...and I don't want her. I mean, I do want her. But not at the expense of losing my other closest friend. I want them both in my life. Is that really so much to ask?

And I can't help thinking, as I lay back on his bed, with his fiancee in my arms, that yeah, it's way too much to ask.


Oz was at the museum again today. Either he's way more perverted than anyone thought, or...well, no, he's just way more perverted than anyone thought. Because even if there is a valid reason for him to be around the stuff, it's still kind of wanky. And I should know.

We're going to talk. I've decided that. No matter what happens, we're going to talk today. So I square my shoulders and stand up straight and walk over to him and I say hello in my manliest voice.

He laughs.

I'm thinking I should be really offended. But I'm not. Because Oz always does that. But he's not mean about it. It's like he knows when it's okay to laugh at me, or mock me, or whatever and when it's not, and he doesn't cross that line.

And if he can still laugh at me, then maybe he doesn't hate me completely.

So I wait for him to stop laughing, and I smile, 'cause I'm back on familiar territory and it feels good. This isn't so bad after all. What was I afraid of?

Then he looks up at me and it all comes rushing back. That's what I was afraid of. That look. He's still sorta smiling, but it's's not real, I guess. Like he was laughing more out of habit than anything else. And there's something weirdly empty about his expression. He's not all there. Not the Oz I thought I knew.

He also looks like crap. On a bad day for crap.

And oh shit, I think I said that out loud. But it makes him smile, a real one this time, so it's not all bad. I sit down next him and look down at my hands. Shockingly enough, I don't know what to say.

"So...uh..." Wince. Brilliant, Xander. Way to start an apology.

Oz just kind of shakes his head and makes a move to stand up. There's a little voice in the back of my head telling me that if he leaves, that's it. No more chances for me. So, for once, I listen to that voice and I grab his arm. "Oz. Please."

I don't know what I'm asking him. But he must, because he nods slowly and sits back down. He doesn't look at me though, and he pulls away until there's some distance between us. Okay, I'm down with that. He doesn't want to be touched.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes. "Okay, um. I'm sorry. Really, really, you-have-no-idea-how-much sorry. Which sounds really lame, I know. And it's not going to make things right, I know that too. But...I swear, I never meant to hurt you like this." I look over at him, but he's all hunched over and looking down at the ground. "Oz?"

He flinches a little when I touch his shoulder, but he looks back at me and his face is so serious and it hurts. So I say the only thing that I can think of. "I would take it back, if I could." And in that moment, I mean it with all my heart. I would give up any chance with Willow if it meant that everything would be better.

But it won't make everything better, and we both know that.

Oz doesn't say anything. The silence stretches out until I get fidgety. Quiet is all well and good, but I need some reassurance here. Or rejection. Something. So I try again. "Oz?"


"I know you're there. But were you there while I was apologizing?"

He half-smiles again. "Yeah. I heard you."

"Are you going to say anything?"

"'s's weird, y'know? Give me a sec."


Knowing that there will be a reaction, that Oz won't just up and leave, makes waiting a lot easier. I want to know where I stand with him, and I'd rather it not be a big pile of nothing.

He sighs and I look up. "Okay," he begins, "here's the thing. When I got back together with Willow the last time, I told her that I knew there was something between you two. And that it wasn't over, and that it probably never would be over. That's fine. It's something that I made the choice to deal with."

I start to answer and he leans over and covers my mouth with his hand. "Let me finish, please."

I nod.

He sits back again and closes his eyes. "You love her." There's a long pause, and I wonder if I'm supposed to answer, but then he's continuing on, and I guess I wasn't. "And she loves you. She's always loved you, I think. I can't compete with that."

"She doesn't love me, Oz." It's the only thing I can think of to say.

He shrugs. "I can't go back to her, Xander. If I do...she still won't love me. And this'll end up happening all over again, and another little part of me will just shrivel up and die until there's nothing left." Oz laughs then, and I don't know what to say. It doesn't matter though, because he starts talking again. "And you...what do I do with you, Alexander Harris?"

"I'm guessing forgiveness is a bit much to hope for." I try to play it off like it doesn't matter. But that's a lie. I wouldn't be sitting here if it didn't matter.

Oz shrugs again. "You're a friend. That makes me want to forgive you. knew, Xander." God...he's giving me that look again. "You knew, and you still slept with her. That's the part I'm having trouble with."

"I'll understand if you don't forgive me."

"Will you?"

"Yeah." I grin and shrug. "I'm used to it."

There's an odd expression on Oz's face, like he doesn't know what to think. "You shouldn't be."


"Used to it."

"Been there, done that, got the t-shirt." Yeah, Harris. Make jokes. Way to deal with things. "Hey, you know what? It's okay. I'm sorry I bothered you, and I'll just go away--"

He grabs my arm in one of those quick movements that I forget he's capable of. "I didn't say I didn't forgive you. But I need time to figure things out."

"Time." I nod. "I can do time." I sit back down. "Um, how much time are we talking?"

He smiles a little. "I'll let you know."

"Okay." I look down at my feet. I really should waterproof these shoes. They're like the only pair I have that fit. "Hey, Oz?"


"Are you like, really into ancient Roman porn, or something?"

Oz stands up and I just know he's trying not to laugh at me. "Or something. My Uncle Ken got me a gig here arranging the porn."

"Oh." I look up and grin at him. "I just thought you were a pervert."

He's laughing as he walks away, and I feel something in my chest get a little bit lighter. He doesn't hate me. It's a start.


What is it that they say about dreams? That if you know you're dreaming, you can control it? Something like that, anyway. Well, it isn't true. If it were, I somehow doubt that I'd be watching Will and Oz get it on.

I feel kinda weird, just standing here watching them. I like my pornography conveniently on a screen, with a remote control to mute the sound if I want, thank you very much. Seeing it live, if I'm not in on it, is just not my bag. But I can't leave, and I can't wake up, and I'm stuck watching them have sex.

And as I'm watching them - watching Oz smile down at her, watching Willow stroke his hair, watching them kiss - I realize a few things. Most of them really uncomfortable.

"You might as well sit down," comes the voice from behind me, and I turn to face whoever it is in my dream with me, and I damn near fall over. It can't be Oz. Oz is having sex with Willow. With my Willow.

So I turn around again, and sure enough, there he is, stroking his fingers along her stomach, stroking lower, and lower... She's so beautiful when she's like this, all hot and bothered and stuff. And I can't help but think that it should be me on that bed with her.

"Go to them, then," Oz says softly from behind me. I turn around to face him, and he puts a hand on my chest and pushes me back, toward the bed. "Take what you want."

"Isn't that what caused all our problems to begin with?"

He smiles at me, and I feel something inside me twist. I close my eyes, and he leans over, his hand still on my chest, and kisses me. Lightly, softly, so that I can barely feel his lips against my own. I'm not gay. I'm not. And there is no reason that this should feel so...nice.

"Open your eyes."

I do, and it's not Oz standing in front of me anymore. It's Willow, and god damn but I hate dreams like this.

But at least I feel better knowing that it was Willow kissing me.

She smiles at me, her expression almost exactly like Oz's in that moment, and I don't know what to think anymore. Willow pushes me back onto the bed and smiles again, and then she's Oz and I think I should be waking up now.

He looks at me, that sad expression back on his face. "You have to understand."

"Understand what?"

Oz shrugs, and he's Willow again, and she touches my cheek. "What do you want from us, Xander?"

"For starters, I'd like you to pick a body and stick with it."

She looks at me, and lifts an eyebrow. "Who do you want us to be?"

Oh. Right. My dream. But even as I'm thinking that, Willow's changing again, until Oz is looking at me quietly. He's more serious than she is, sadder. The Oz that I made.

He sits down next to me, and smiles. "Xander, you have to look."

I don't want to look. But I do, because he's asking me to. It was weird watching Oz and Willow. It's even weirder watching Willow and myself. "Um. What am I supposed to be seeing?"


Oz's hands are on my shoulders, and it seems so natural to just reach up and grab his hand. We sit there, watching me and Willow, and he's holding on to me like he's never gonna let go. There's a part of me that knows I should feel strange about this. That I shouldn't be holding Oz's hand against my chest. I shouldn't be leaning back against him, or feeling so comfortable like this.

He just looks down at me, a lot like he used to look at Willow, and he's still smiling a little. I turn, sort of, and I'm really, seriously, wigged by what I think I'm about to do. I reach up and touch his cheek, his lips, I stroke his hair and I can't believe I'm doing this, because I'm not gay. I like girls, I really, really do. And then Oz is grinning, like he knows what I'm thinking. I like it when he smiles like that, so I smile back.

I lean closer, just a little, and I kiss him. Not lightly, like he did me. No, I go full out, lips and tongues and roaming hands. I figure, why not? It's just a dream, after all. Then he's kissing me back, and I know it's still him, because he doesn't have breasts and for one brief moment, I think I understand what the dream is all about. I pull away to make some remark, 'cause I just can't keep my mouth shut at times like this, and it's not Oz anymore.

Willow is looking up at me with this pleased little smile on her face, and whatever grand epiphany I just had goes tumbling right out of my mind when she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me down to kiss her again.

I fucking hate dreams. I really, truly do.


Okay, so how do I treat Oz now? I mean, it was awkward enough before I started having dreams about him. Now...what do I say? How do I keep from turning bright red and stammering like an idiot?

I can try denying it. It seems to work well enough for Will. She wakes up crying sometimes, and I don't know what to do for her. She does love him, no matter what Oz believes.

God help me, I think I do too.

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. That's not good. I am not in love with Oz. He is a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a friend.


I clench my jaw, my fists, clamp down on every insane feeling swirling around in my head. I do not love him. I won't.

I stand up to leave, shoving my hands in my pockets and hunching my shoulders. I can't face Oz right now. So I leave, ignoring the little voice of reason shouting that I'm being a stupid shit-for-brains. I am being stupid. But fuck it. I ignore my conscience, my reason, everything that's telling me not to go.

I leave, I go back to Willow, to the relative simplicity she offers me. No great truths to be found with her, nothing to challenge me, or to make me question myself. No need to face an inconvenient truth when there's a much nicer, more soothing lie available.

I don't see Oz for over a year, after that.

When I do see him again, me and Willow are sitting in a dingy little club, making jokes and being silly, like we did before Buffy came. The band starts setting up on stage, and I look up, not really expecting anything, and I see him.

He looks...good, I guess. Not much different than before. Harder, maybe. A little thinner. Devon says something and Oz grins, that same, slow, familiar grin that does funny things to my insides. I thought...I had prayed that I had set this behind me. Willow and I are happy. Willow...

I look sharply at her and she shrugs, an embarrassed look on her face.

"I had to, Xander," she says softly. I can barely hear her over the rushing in my ears. I walked away a year ago to avoid this. She covers my hand with her own. "I need to talk to him. You need to talk to him."

No, I don't. I look up at the stage again, and there he is, staring at us with his version of a shocked expression. Then, after like a minute, he just...shuts down. I've seen him do it before, when he's trying to hold on to his temper, or trying not to let things get to him. He doesn't seem very happy to see us. Gee, I wonder why that could possibly be.

I turn back to Willow, and she's staring at him too, with this awful expression on her face. I start to say that there's no way I'm staying, but then she turns that look on me and I can feel every resolve I ever had just melting away. "Please, Xander. This is important to me."

Okay. It's for Willow. I can do things for Willow. That's the only reason I'm staying. Yeah, and monkeys just might take over the world.

We watch the set, not talking or doing much of anything except thinking, and staring at Oz. Or at least, I'm thinking and staring. He's such an odd looking person. I mean, no one would call him a traditionally good looking guy. He's...quirky. But there's something about him -- the way he moves, the way he smiles, the way he focuses totally on you until you feel like the most important thing in the world -- that makes me want to go up to him and beg. Don't know for what, though.

Okay, that's a big freak of a lie.

I want what I've always wanted from him. I want him to like me. More than that, I want him to respect me. I had that before, and it made me feel so very good about myself. He's a smart guy, and he's brutally honest with himself and everyone around him. If he hadn't wanted to be my friend, he wouldn't have been. It's that easy.

And let's not forget the dream. The stupid dream. The one that made me run like a scared little kid and pull Willow in front of me like a shield. Oz is honest, I said that before, and he's never hidden the fact that he's kinda into guys. Or, well, he's never hidden it from me. He doesn't go up to someone and say, "Hi, I'm Oz and I'm a bisexual," because let's face it, that would just be really weird for everyone involved. Okay, fine, he's never even mentioned the possibility that he might like boys, but...he treats me like he always treated Willow. Except without the sitting on his lap thing.

Oh my God. I'm actually considering the idea of me and Oz. There shouldn't be a me and Oz. Ever.

And then the set is done, and the band takes a break. Willow grabs my hand and tugs me along behind her like I might run away if she doesn't keep a hold on me. We end up at the end of a line of screaming girls, and some not-screaming guys, and Willow makes this sound. She drags me forward, through the line, ignoring the angry looks she keeps getting.

Oz is standing up ahead, looking slightly panicked at the mob. He's never dealt well with groups like this. He gets really uncomfortable and shy, which is weird, because I don't think he normally has a shy bone in his body. But I guess girls trying to get at him like he's a sideshow freak will do that to a guy.

We finally make it through the girls, and he's looking at us like we're some strange new life form that he doesn't know how to deal with. And maybe he doesn't. Oz isn't exactly Mr. Social.

Willow smiles at him tentatively; he doesn't smile back. "Oz...we need to talk."

He looks at her for a long moment, then his gaze flicks up toward me. He hesitates, then says, very firmly, "I think we've all made everything pretty clear to one another."

Shit. That was for me, I think.

"We haven't resolved anything, Oz. We need to." Willow's persistent. I'll give her that.

"Are you sleeping with Xander, baby?"

She nods.

Oz gives me a long look, before smiling at her. "Then there isn't a whole lot that needs to be said, is there?"

No, there's really not. Willow starts to say something else, and I touch her shoulder. She stops and looks back at me. "Xander?"

"Will," I start, trying not to notice Oz flinch, "could you uh, go somewhere else for a sec?"

"What? But what about..." I give her my best pathetic puppy-dog expression and she trails off. What I want to do is going to be hard enough without her watching. I only hope it works. She nods, squeezing my hand before she leaves. Oz watches her go, and for once, his defenses are down. There's something in his eyes when he looks at her that makes my heart hurt.

Then he's looking back at me, and he doesn't quite have his defenses rebuilt, and I can see everything that he's so good at hiding. As easily as that, I know what to do.

He leans back against the wall, his hands shoved in his pockets as he looks at the ground. I reach out, my hand shaking, and I touch his hair lightly.

God...I take a deep breath. I can do this. I can. I owe this to him. All he ever asked of me or Willow was honesty, and that's pretty much the one thing we never gave him.

He looks up at me in shock, lips parted a little as he takes a breath. I lean forward then, and I kiss him. I try to imagine that it's Willow I'm kissing, like that'll make everything okay. But I can't forget that it's Oz. I never could.

I find myself pressing up against him, holding him against the wall, and he's making a strange sound in the back of his throat. It could be a protest, so I start pulling away, but then he's kissing me back and I can't go anywhere. I reach around and pull him closer, sliding my hands just under the hem of his t-shirt and stroking the smooth skin of his back.

He makes another sound and shoves me away, hard. We stare at each other, breathing harshly, and I start to panic. This was a mistake. Such a mistake. And oh my God I think he's crying, or about to start and what do I do now?

I'm nervous and I don't know what to say, so I start babbling about whatever comes to mind, and it's like the little censor that's supposed to keep me from saying stupid things has just taken a vacation. "Oz, I'm sorry, you probably hated that and oh God I fucked up. I'll totally understand if you hate me forever and um..." I trail off as he starts to laugh.

I watch him slide down the wall, laughing and half-crying, and I crouch down in front of him. "Oz?"

He just shakes his head and keeps on laughing. This isn't funny, and I feel myself starting to get angry. Why is he laughing? Does he think I'm some sort of joke or something? I end up glaring at him, except I'm not really upset. Just hurt. Okay, I can't deal, so I'm going to leave. I messed up. Again.

Oz grabs my shirt as I move to stand up, and suddenly he looks deadly serious. I crouch back down and he gets up onto his knees. He smiles at me and lets my shirt go, reaching up to cradle my face in his hands. Then he moves closer and kisses me. Nothing hard, or heavy, or passionate. A simple kiss. A blessing and an apology and a promise all rolled up into one.

This time, I pull away first. "So."

He blushes. "Yeah. Um. I'll meet you guys after the gig?"

"That sounds about right." I nod like I have any idea what I'm talking about. "Willow..."

He flinches again and I touch his cheek, my thumb brushing the corner of his mouth. "She loves you. She really, really does." I don't know that my telling him this will help at all, but it can't hurt.

"Did you do this for her?" Oz asks quietly.

"No." And it's the truth. This, all this, wasn't for her. It was for me, and for him. It's ours alone. And it feels right.

Oz stands up quickly and looks down at me. "I need to go back outside now."

"Yeah." I smile at him. "We'll talk. Afterwards."

He nods and walks out the door. I fall backwards and take a few deep breaths. Of all the things I thought might happen tonight, this was so not anywhere on my list. And the night's not done yet. Whee.

I make my way back outside and join Willow. She tilts her head and raises an eyebrow. Well. That's nice. She knows that I kissed her ex boyfriend.

She knows.

Can I just die of embarrassment, please?

I blush bright red and she grins. Willow gets up and moves around the table until she's sitting next to me, as close as we can get without sitting on each other, and she leans over, whispering into my ear. Well, okay, she was shouting, but it's really hard to hear over the music, so that's all right.

"You like him."

My first instinct is to deny it. But as I look at her, then up at him on the stage, I can't do it. They both deserve better than that. So I nod, because I can't speak, and she wraps her arms around me and holds on tightly. I bury my face in her hair, and let myself be comforted. She knows how hard this is for me.

"Do you love him?"

I focus on her. Always her. "I love you," I tell her softly. It's entirely possible that she doesn't actually hear me, but she knows. That's enough.

She smiles at me and brushes my hair back from my face. "That's not what I asked, Xander."

"I think I do." What can I say that's not going to hurt her? "He's uh...he's different from you."

"I know." She pauses for a minute. "Would you be mad if I told you I love him too?"

She loves him. Damn, I'm good. "No. But...what do we do?"

Willow rests her head on my shoulder and looks up at the stage. Oz isn't looking at us, focusing on the guitar and on the crowd in general, playing them both easily. He's got a way laid back stage presence, content to let Devon have the spotlight. For a brief instant, I let myself enjoy the feeling of new love, and lust, that he inspires. I feel all giddy now. And incredibly silly.

So I look back at Willow, noting the soft smile on her face. "Will?"


"What do we do?"

"Get him to love us both back?"

As a plan, there have been better ones. But right now, it seems easy enough. We get him to love us. Sure, easy as pie.

They finish playing and pack up all their stuff, and Willow and I still haven't moved. Oz comes over to us, an unreadable expression in his bright green eyes. He pulls a chair over and straddles it, resting his folded arms across the back of it and staring at us silently.

Willow smiles. "Hi."

"Hey," he answers.

They don't say anything else, they just stare at each other. Okay, awkward. I clear my throat and they both look at me. "Um. Maybe we should go somewhere else?"

Willow nods and stands up, holding a hand out to Oz. "Coming?"

I hold my breath. He looks at her closely, then at me, then back at her. He sighs softly and takes her hand; Willow pulls him to his feet and they're standing so close that I can feel the tension between them. I try not to move, or breathe, or exist in any way while I'm watching them. Earlier, it was about me and him. Now, it's about them.

Oz reaches up to touch her cheek, and she turns her face into the caress, resting her cheek against his hand. He strokes his thumb along the curve of her cheekbone, and she smiles at him. It's a beautiful, tender smile and I exhale slowly at the sight.

They both look at me, matching expressions of surprise on their faces. Oz pulls back quickly, looking almost guilty and I grin at him. It's all right. He loves her, and I love her, and I love him, and it's all okay. He smiles back at me, embarrassed still, and I wrap my arm around his shoulders and we all walk outside together.

We make our way to Oz's van, distinctive as ever, and I look at the two of them. Willow is frowning thoughtfully, and Oz is very carefully not looking at either of us. She turns to me and kisses my cheek. "Xander, could you go um, get us some wine or something? Food. You know."

What the hell is she talking about?

"Things. You know. Things. That we need from the store." She gives me a meaningful look and it clicks.

"Oh. Right. Things." I nod solemnly, and she smiles at me.

"I'll get a ride with Oz."

I nod again and Oz gives me this panicked look when I start to walk away. I ignore it the best I can and get into my car. I watch them get into his van and pull out of the parking lot before I start the car and drive away in the other direction.

It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

The grocery store is a fascinating place when you're there late at night. It's filled by the wackiest people imaginable doing their grocery shopping. Like there's this guy behind me in the liquor aisle who's talking to his briefcase. Buying wine is not my thing. Willow knows more about bouquet and stuff. I tend to go for the cheapest kind available. Or the stuff in a box, because it just fascinates me.

Anyway, that's what I end up getting. That and a box of Hostess cupcakes. I drive around for a while after that; Willow and Oz need time to talk and get over things. So I try my best to give them that. I go home an hour later and they aren't talking to each other.


I toss the box of wine onto the table and pull out the cupcakes. "Chocolatey goodness anyone?"

Oz nods and I toss him one of the packages. Willow is just sitting back and watching us.

"So, what's up?"

Oz shrugs and Willow frowns slightly. "He doesn't want to have a relationship with us."

I blink. Okay, that wasn't something that I thought he'd say. I turn to Oz and ask, "Why?"

"Why should I?"

I sit down next to him on the couch. "Because?"

He looks at Willow for a moment. "'s kind of sudden, y'know? I left because you two were together. Because you wanted him. You always have."

She leans forward, sighing. "I love him, Oz. But I love you too."

"I can't...I want to believe you, Will. But..." He shrugs and looks down at his hands. "I can't."

I lean over and rub the back of his neck, and I swear, he purrs. Willow raises an eyebrow and I shrug. "Oz?"


"Will you believe me?" I ask him quietly.

He looks at me. Just looks at me like he's weighing everything I've ever said to him, everything I've ever done.

"I don't know," he says, very softly.

Ow. Fuck. I close my eyes and pull back. "Damn, Will. What did you say to him?"

"Nothing, Xander." It's Oz who answers. "She didn't say anything. But, I got to thinking--"

"Oh. See, that's the problem," I interrupt. "Thinking is bad. Thinking makes you do stupid things."

He stands up. "Okay. Look. I loved Willow. Past tense. I loved you. Past tense."

"But you kissed me back."

Oz runs his fingers through his hair. "I never said I wasn't attracted to you. To both of you. Because I am. But..." He makes a helpless sound of frustration. "Why should I trust you?"

I open my mouth to answer, and I can't think of a single thing. There is no reason he should trust us. At all. And from the look on Willow's face, she realizes that too.

"I'm sorry," he whispers, and turns to go. I just sit there, frozen. I seemed so plausible earlier. I don't understand what happened. He's at the door before I can even think to move, and I start to get up, and the door slams.

Willow is frowning at Oz. "No," she says firmly. "You are not leaving till we work this out."

I walk over to him and he takes a step back, panic shining in his eyes. I don't stop to wonder why he looks scared, I just know that I have to make things better. Not for Willow. Not even for him. I grab his shoulders, and he's shaking a little.

"I love you." Oh. Fuck. I didn't mean to just say it. Where's divine inspiration when you need it, huh? I wanted something pretty and eloquent to say. Willow walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and kissing his neck lightly. I feel him shiver and I step closer, supporting him against myself. "Oz..."

He shakes his head. "You have each other. You don't need me."

Willow and I look at each other over Oz's shoulder. She reaches up and strokes his hair lightly, and he shivers again. She's got this fond smile on her face, like she knew that would happen. And I guess it makes sense that she would know how and where to touch them. I flash on the dreams I keep having about them, about us, and I move before the thought finishes swimming up through my mind.

I tilt his face up, and I have to smile because he looks so damn calm and I know it's a lie. I can feel his heart pounding, and I lean down to kiss him. I want to know if the same things that make me happy do the same for him. I want to know how he likes to be kissed and touched. I want to know what he looks like when he's close...

He whimpers when I pull him closer and the sound makes me grin. I can hear Willow whispering to him, telling him that we do need him, that he makes us happy. He is our stability and our voice of reason; he makes us feel...good. It's not like burning passion or anything, but it's something that's been missing from me and Willow.

I don't know how to tell him that, though. And I'm scared that if I don't, he'll walk away and we won't ever see him again. We need him, and judging from the look on his face, he needs us too.

I pull away, cradling his face between my hands and I kiss his forehead. "Trust me?"

He touches my mouth, and I can't tell what he's thinking or feeling because he's Oz, and he's better at being Vulcan than Spock is. But he nods, and for now, that's enough. I'll work on getting a verbal declaration later. Much later.

"Do you love me?" Okay, maybe not later. Maybe now.

"Yeah," he says really quietly, so that I can barely hear him. He sounds like he's trying desperately not to scream, or cry, 'cause his voice is all tight and controlled, and I'm suddenly taken with the perverse desire to just demolish his control. It's not the nicest thought I've ever had, but...see, it's like this. If we need him to be our stability, then he needs us to be his passion. He has it, he just doesn't know what to do with it.

"Do you love Willow?"

He turns to face her, and I wrap my arms around his waist. Like I told Willow before, touching is more a comfort thing for me than anything else. I feel connected, I guess, when I'm touching someone. And if there's one thing that I know about Oz, it's that he likes touch. He was forever touching Willow: stroking her hair, or holding her hand, or something like that.

Oz touches her cheek, and Willow closes her eyes, swaying closer to us. She stops when she's just barely pressed up against him, and then I feel her hands on top of mine, and we hold him between us while she kisses him.

Then he's falling, and I support his weight against me so that he doesn't go crashing to the floor in a heap.

I brush my lips against his ear and whisper, "I'll take that as a yes."

He laughs, but it sounds weird, like he doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. But that's okay, 'cause I'm right there with him.

I don't...I don't know what to do now. I mean, with Willow and Faith I had some idea of what to do. Now, here I have this great guy, that I care about, and I want to please him and I don't have clue one how to start. Okay, that's sort of a lie, 'cause I know what I'd do to myself if I were in some freak dimension, but Oz isn't me, and I don't...

Oh. Oh...good god damn...that's nice. Willow's curled up in my lap and she knows me so damn well. For a moment, just a moment, I forget that Oz is here and that it's anything but me and Willow. I lean in, tilting my head down just a little to meet her lips. Kissing her makes me feel warm, and happy, and kinda tingly.

She's sighing, and I pull her closer. I can feel her unbuttoning my shirt, and pushing it off my shoulders, and then she's pressing up against me, and I want skin on skin here, not angora or whatever her sweater is made of. Willow pulls back and grins at me with this wicked little twinkle in her eyes. Why is she--

Good God. Okay, breathe, Harris. Oz is behind me and he has his hand on my waist, and I can feel his mouth on my neck. He moves his hand up to rest over my heart, and I don't know if he's trying to keep me from jumping out of my skin, or if he's just holding me still. Then his tongue is flicking along my shoulder, and up my neck, and then to that spot just below my ear that makes me break out in goosebumps. And then he's pressed up against me and he's radiating heat, which is, y'know, on the weird side. So I call him on it. "'re hot..."

He smiles, and kisses my neck again. "Thank you."

"No, I mean it. Ooooh, temperature-wise."

"Oh." Oz pauses a moment, then shrugs. "It's a side-effect."



I nod like I have any idea what he's talking about.

"Xander?" Willow sounds breathless. "Now is really not the time for a discussion on lycanthropy."

"Oh." Okay, I get it now., I don't. But Oz will explain it later. He's good about stuff like that. "Carry on."

"Yes, master." Oz says it like he's joking. And he is. I know that. But still...those words, in that tone...fuuuuck.

He's rubbing my shoulders, and he's not being gentle, but he's way thorough and if he gives backrubs like this, I honestly don't know why Willow would ever risk her relationship with him. This is worth it. And he's pulling away again, and I have to stop myself from yanking him back to finish what he started.

Willow laughs at me, and I grrr at her. She just smirks at me and says, "Toldja he had great hands."

Oh yeah, he does. I tilt my head back, looking for him, already missing his warmth. He's standing just behind me, hands in his pockets, and I can't read his expression. I hold out my hand to him, and Willow scoots off my lap. Oz just looks at her, then kneels down in front of me, his knees on either side of my hips. His hands are on my chest and he's looking at me serenely.

Then he's kissing me, slowly, like he has all the time in the world. But he's still too far away, his hands between us, making this artificial distance that I don't like at all. So I pull him closer, until I can feel the soft cotton of his t-shirt against my skin, and it's still not enough. He squeaks, or something, in surprise, and for a minute I can see a flash of...something in his eyes but then it's gone, and he's back to being serene. And I don't like that either.

If my world is being tossed on its ass, then his should be too. He shouldn't be calm, or amused, or detached in any way. It scares me, it really does. Because if he's keeping bits of himself back, then he can walk away from us whenever he wants. And that...

It makes me feel empty.

He's looking at me again, a puzzled expression on his face. I reach up and cradle the back of his head, kissing him roughly. Oz doesn't kiss me back at first, but I don't stop, because I want him to lose it. I want...I need him to be open and defenseless, and out of control. I need him to fill all the empty spaces that Willow can't.

I pull back, and he looks wary. Well...hell. That's not what I wanted. I touch his cheek with my hand, stroking my thumb along the corner of his mouth. There's a tension to his mouth, a sort of resigned unhappiness that I can't brush away. And I want to.

He closes his eyes and tilts his head forward until his forehead is resting against mine, and then he moves his hips, just a little, enough to let me know that he's not entirely upset with where he is. Oz sighs, then he's kissing me again. I lie back, taking him with me, until he's lying full length on top of me, and it's almost like Willow doing the same thing, but there's a difference - the way the weight is distributed, the fact that Oz has that Willow doesn't - and it's all so weird.

Oz kisses like he enjoys it, not just as a pre-show or something, but as something fun in and of itself. With me and Cordy it was almost always about something more, and with Willow, there was this thrill about kissing, 'cause we weren't supposed to be doing it. And then, when Oz left, kissing was all about guilt, and feeling bad. So it's not really something that I want to linger on, but he does, and right now I'm pretty willing to give him whatever he wants if it means he'll just stay here.

I stroke my hands up his back, and his t-shirt kinda bunches up under my fingers which is, y'know, annoying. So I grab the hem and tug at it until he gets the message and pulls it off. And then it's skin on skin and I sigh 'cause he feels good, and apparently he likes it too, 'cause he's back to kissing me, and it's not nice, or delicate, or gentle or anything like that. This kiss is all about sex and wanting and people rolling around on a bed like there's no time left in the world. And that's what I wanted from him.

Except...funny thing...I still want more. There should be moaning, and wriggling...oh yeah...wriggling is good. I grab him by the waist, and roll until he's beneath me, and really, this can't be comfortable for him. 'Cause he's all thin and stuff, but he's not complaining, and I don't have the patience to move us. to get him to wriggle?

He reaches up, curling his fingers through my hair and pulls my head down, and I swear to God the boy licks my tonsils. Maybe I won't need to get him to wriggle. Maybe he'll do it all on his...own. Okay. Um. hands in not-really-new-anymore places. I don't know what made him change his mind about being reluctant guy, but I'm really, really happy he did.

I sit up, straddling his legs and studying him. He just stares at me, not-so-in-control anymore, and I think it may be one of the nicest sights I've seen in a while. I lean over and kiss his neck, right above the pulse, and he gasps. He blushes too, full body, which I didn't think anyone could do. Oz smiles a little, and it's not at all a nice smile, and stretches, keeping his hands above his head. He's letting me have my way right now, but that smile says that I'll pay for whatever I do.

Oh well. I stare at him some more. His body is so different from Willow's, all lean muscle and bone where she's softer and ah, rounder. But hey, some parts are the same. Or...I think they are, anyway. And there's really no way to tell except to experiment, which I proceed to do. See, Will? I learned something in science.

I bend over and kiss him again, my hand resting in his hair. He does have great hair, all funny textured 'cause he keeps dying it and stuff. I touch his cheek, run a finger down the bridge of his nose, touch his mouth...he smiles at me again, a lazy, happy smile, and I wonder how I could ever have thought him expressionless. It's all in his eyes, and in the curve of his lips, and his smile does funny things to my stomach.

He grabs my hand and moves it, down his neck, across his chest, until he stops with my hand resting just above his heart. I can feel his heart beating, and the heat of his skin, and the way his chest moves when he takes a breath. I scoot down and grin at him. He lifts an eyebrow in challenge and wriggles; I get the feeling that he knows exactly what he's doing, introvert or not.

Oz pushes up with his hips, letting me know that my time on top is running out. Good Lord no...can't have that, can we? I stretch out until I'm lying on top of him, and then I set to exploring. Lewis and Clark have nothing on me, baby.

My lips brush a nipple and he hisses. Funny. That's almost exactly what Willow does. It makes me wonder if he'll react to the same things she does.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

Oz looks up at me, still smiling. And damn that is an evil little smile. He slides one leg out from under me and braces himself. Oh. That's what the smile is all about. We lie pressed against each other, chest to chest, leg to leg...groin to groin. And then he's moving slowly, not a lot, just enough to drive me nuts. Yeah, I'll get you back for this, see if I don't.

He moves again, stretching and rubbing himself against me. I try not to laugh, 'cause that would be rude, but he reminds me of a cat when he does that. Oz moves like a cat, I think. More than he does like a wolf. He's all about looking lazy and slow and supremely confident, and then he's still able to do whacked out things that are almost too fast to see. I don't know if that's him naturally, or something the werewolf gave him, or what, but it's there and it can be fucking scary. And yet...

"You're beautiful, you know," I whisper. And he is. Not beautiful in a Willow way, or a Buffy or a Cordy way. Not even in that "I'm not gay, but that is a damn fine looking man" way. He's beautiful in that way that makes things feel all tight and heavy.

Oz reaches up and touches my cheek, stroking it lightly with the backs of his fingers. He's not smiling or anything, not now, but he's not...unhappy, I guess. I don't know. He's Oz-ish.

I lean down and kiss him slowly. He sighs, and pulls me closer, until I'm resting on top of him. "Xander..."

Oh...I like the way he says my name. Softly and tenderly, and so that his voice almost breaks. Yeah. That's why we're doing this. Because I need someone to say my name like that. Because he does. Because he always will.

I can feel his fingers in my hair, pulling me down, holding me still. Then he's moving -- and for someone as small as he is, he's really strong -- and I'm suddenly on my back with him looking down at me. much as I hate to admit it, it's taking everything I have not to push him off and run like hell. It's different when I'm in control. Less scary. And this is scary.

He touches my neck and I can barely feel it. Works his way down to my chest, still light, still barely-there. I grab his hands and he lets me; Oz sits impossibly still, just looking at me calmly. "I don't know that I can do this, Oz."

"You don't have to," he says softly. "I'll go away, and you won't ever have to remember that tonight happened."

Willow makes a sound of protest, but I ignore her. This isn't about her, not anymore. I don't know that it ever was. "Oz."

Just a whisper. Just his name, but it makes him shudder. I don't know what to do, how to reassure him that it's not him. It's me. Oh God, I can't say that. That's trite and silly and...

Oz is looking at me, and it's like everything comes to a crashing halt inside of me. It's Oz. Oz, who I trust more than anyone else. I trust him more than I trust myself. He's not going to hurt me. Why this is a revelation, I don't know, but it is. I repeat that to myself. He won't hurt me and I trust him. He wants me and I...oh God, I want him so much it makes my heart hurt.

"Say my name," I whisper, and I can barely recognize my own voice.

He smiles. "Xander."

I touch his face, pull him down until I can feel the heat of him sinking into me. "Again."

Oz kisses me softly. "Xander..." It's barely a sound at all, but it's enough. I smile up at him, and he half-smiles back. "Are you sure?"

I nod. But he still looks uncertain, and y' never occurred to me that Oz would be unsure about this. " have...haven't you?"

"No. Well...not all of it. Some of it, I have."

"Oh." Okay...

Oz smiles suddenly. "We're bright. We'll figure it out."

That makes me laugh and some of the tension goes away. We kiss again, and spend a lot of time just touching and exploring. It doesn't take long for us to get all hot and bothered again and I wonder, distantly, what Willow is doing while we have our fun, but then Oz is pressing against me and his hands -- his wonderful, amazing, incredible hands -- are just everywhere and thinking becomes just way too difficult. So I stop, and just let him do his thing.

He pushes me back against the floor and sits up. He reaches for the fastening of my jeans and he pauses. "Last chance to stop."

"If you stop now, I'll make you pay."

He quirks an eyebrow. "Promise?"

I grin. And I just know it's goofy looking and silly, and I can't help it. "Yeah." Then talking becomes too much of an effort. Hell...breathing becomes too much of an effort. He stops, and that's just not good, so I glare at him. "I said don't stop."

"Gimme a sec." His eyes are darker than normal now, and his breathing is shallow. "You're..."

"Most impressive?" I ask in my best Darth Vader voice. Which, admittedly, isn't that great. But hey. Anything for a laugh.

Except he doesn't. Laugh, I mean. He just looks at me with that expression he always gave Willow. Not quite a smile, but happy anyway. I like that look.

"Yeah, Xand. Most impressive."

Oh yeah. I can feel his mouth on my stomach, and lower, but not where I want him to be, dammit. I grrr at him. He laughs and rubs his cheek against the skin of my hip and he hasn't shaved...then he's stopping again, and god dammit Oz just fucking use your mouth already, would you?

He laughs again, and I guess I said that out loud, and I don't care. "Patience, grasshopper."



I close my eyes, because I don't think I can handle watching. He's touching me then, stroking gently, and I push forward, 'cause friction is a good, and it's not quite, dammit, don't stop and oh my God he's using his mouth now and --

I should be embarrassed, I think. Okay, I am embarrassed. But...his mouth, and his hands...and his mouth...and my ability to last as long as a fruit fly. Sigh.

Oz laughs and I open my eyes and glare. "Shh. I'm enjoying the afterglow."

"Well...good." He smiles and licks his lips, and wow, there went all the blood from my head. Oh no. I'm not embarrassing myself again. No sir, not me.

I push him against the base of the couch and grin. "My turn."

"Be gentle," he says.

Yeah. Right.