Chapter Three - Understanding Willow

Buffy took a sip of soda from a can of diet coke as she sat at a table near the window that overlooked the promenade. She glanced across the promenade and spotted what Willow called Oz's cool hair. The shade of orange-red could be seen for quite a distance, and Buffy smiled and thought silently that it was cute how Willow and he were always hold hands. She glanced over at Xander, who was sitting at the same table, and found that he was looking at the very same couple. Her scrutinizing eyes peered at Xander's expression, and she silent counted to herself, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

"Doesn't that just make you sick?" responded Xander waving his hand at the couple in a disgusted gesture.

"Come on, Xander, they've been together for weeks!" said Buffy with a sigh, "It's not like your opinion counts in their relationship, so get over it!"

"How can I if they keep rubbing their relationship in my face? I mean, every time I see them together it's all this touchy-feely stuff!" insisted Xander and Buffy rolled her eyes and put her soda can down, making a soft sound as the aluminum hit the table.

"Right, Xander," said Buffy with an air of sarcasm, "And how do you justify you and Cordy's touch-feely stuff? Which I might add, is about ten time worse than what Oz and Willow do."

"Hey, I resent that comment, Buffy because Cordy and I - " Xander paused a moment to contemplate, and feeling that her eyes were still on him, he chuckled nervously and glanced at her, "Never mind."

"Yeah...that's what I thought," she said with a smile, despite the fact that her acceptance of Cordelia had yet to begin.

Xander didn't reply to Buffy's comment as he continued to stare at the couple. He contemplated that Willow looked happy, but he didn't believe she was because she was with Oz. What was Xander's opinion of Oz? Oz was just an orange-headed villain out to hurt his best friend. Once he reached to the thought of Willow being his best friend, he paused, unsure if that was what Willow was, nowadays. They were friends, Xander knew that for sure, but if they were BEST friends, was a whole other matter in its entirety.

Things had been distant between them for quite awhile, Xander realized. Even before Cordelia and Oz had entered the picture as romantic counterparts, their relationship had been readily changed. Did Buffy have anything to do with it, thought Xander for a moment and then he sighed realizing that she had, but not profoundly. Whatever had cause them to separate happened, and everything, just made it worst than it had been before.

He wanted very much to understand Willow. He would give anything to understand her, and try to make things back to the way it had been Yet, he knew that that way was gone and to return to it was impossible. Xander couldn't believe how much Willow had changed to become a Willow that he couldn't even understand. Still, had he ever understood her to begin with? It still shocked him to think that Willow had been in love with him, and he didn't think he'd ever get use to that idea, and now with Oz, he wouldn't have to.

Oz, thought Xander, what a crazy guy, what does she see in him? Truthfully, he didn't really know what he had against Oz. The weird part was that if Oz was just one of the gang and had no romantic connection to Willow at all, he knew he would be friends with him. But the point was he wasn't just one of the gang, he was Willow's...boyfriend. Sure, Oz being a werewolf didn't make Xander like him any more, but for some odd reason, it didn't make Xander like him, any less. It just gave him more to complain about, more that made some reasonable sense anyway. He supposed a lot of his resentment came form his thoughts that Oz made his friendship with Willow even more strained, even though deep down, he knew that that wasn't true. Oz was only a factor because he was making him a factor, and although Willow was chummy with Cordelia, now, Xander knew that Willow was making her a factor, too. It was as if they were divided sides trying not to be separated, but their efforts just made them even more so.

He thought again about Willow's face and finally realized that she was happy...with Oz. It didn't matter whether he liked it or not, it wasn't his choice to make, as Buffy had told him once. He stepped away from his heart because Buffy was in love with Angel, but Oz and Willow were different, he wouldn't have to step away. All he had to do was be happy because Willow was, and maybe in doing that, he could finally start treating Willow for what she had always been, and what he had always taken for granted, a true friend. Then, maybe, just maybe, he could start understanding Willow.