Fandom: Buffy

Title: Outsider

Rating: G

Genre: Introspective

Character: Oz

Summary: He had been a part of many groups... but nothing was quite like being an accepted scoobie.

Disclaimer: They belong to Joss.

They were a tight group, supposedly. It had to be, for them to save the world so much - you need to trust each other; (well, no one really trusted Spike - even though he helped them more often then anyone was comfortable with). Bound by uncounted nights of shuffling through dusty tomes (in languages even Giles couldn't quite understand), the lies they wove (Cordy was at Buffy's, Buffy was at Willow's, Willow was at Xander's, Xander was at Oz's, Oz... well, it didn't really matter), and the unshakable knowledge that oh-god-oh-god-we're-all-going-to-die-tonight.

Oz raised his eyes from the faded Samoan text regaling the tail of some Lord Exabash of Mangled Children that managed to be utterly boring, despite the rather gruesome descriptions of how exactly he gained his title. He was siting at the table, back to the library cage (always with his back to the cage, like it didn't exist, like it didn't haunt his dreams, like he was human and didn't have to have developed claustrophobia because he was locked in a small jail three times a month to keep him from killing his own girlfriend), observing the "Scoobies", as Xander had dubbed them (after his famous scoobie dance, one Oz never had the privilege of viewing, being the outsider that he was in the relationship between Willow and Xander, as jealous as it made him).

Oz had been a part of many groups... the Dingos, his computer class, Mr. Shacklem's detention regulars... but none were quite like the Scoobies. No other group let members in so quickly, and yet retained such an alienation.

It always came down to the four. The Watcher, The Slayer, The Witch and The Zeppo. Giles, with his database's worth of knowledge, his language skills, his weathered tweed and bloodstained handkercheif to clean his glasses. Buffy, with her quips and her strength and her sarcastic attempt to have a normal teenage life. Xander, with his silly mentality, his open heart, his teenage hormones and his close friendship with the Donut lady.

And Willow. Willow with her red hair and rosy blush. Willow with her green eyes and her gentle lisp. Willow with her vast power and vulnerability. Her soft lips and sweet spirit.

Yes, Willow was his favorite.

The only reason he hadn't been killed the moment they found out what he was.

The only reason they accepted him.

That was about the only way you could be an accepted appendage to this incredible bond. You had to have one of The Four in love (or at least lust) with you.

Oz.

Cordelia.

Ms. Calender.

Angel.

Occasionally Spike (though he was afraid to try and guess the required relationship).

You never became a Scoobie. You helped them research, sharpened weapons, shaved stakes, covered absences, provided money for the Donut fund, and even sometimes fought. But you were never one of them. It began with those four, and as sure as he loved Willow, it would end with those four.

Sometimes he wondered why they stayed with the fantastic four, knowing that they could never be fully accepted. Willow certainly had been his reason, but he wondered at the others. Cordelia had been with them even before Oz - did she actually care enough about innocent lives to risk hers to fight it? Or was she simply living the glamorous Movie life as befitting a wealthy Californian? Did Ms. Calender truly need to spend time with Giles, or did she simply need somewhere where she could be valued? Did Angel want to redeem his sins, or was he simply looking for someone to back him up when past enemies came calling?

Did they really believe? Or did they just pretend to, in order to escape the reality of Missing Parents, unwanted labels, and bleak future? That certainly seemed to be something they all had in common. So was it love for their scoobie? Belief in Buffy's strength, Gile's knowledge, Willows power and Xanders heart? Was it their faith that friendship and love could overcome all obstacles? Or was it just some twisted spell the Hellmouth had cast on them, making them believe themselves to be hero's of a Kingdom that didn't exist?

Xander walked through the door with arms overflowing with sugary goodness. Donuts and caffeine were passed around. Groans echoed through the stacks as teenagers stood and stretched, casting forlorne glances as unfinished homework and piles of research yet to be done. Giles was in a quiet disagreement with Ms. Calender over the virtue of books versus computers. Angel lurked in the bookcases, keeping an ever present eye on Buffy, who was drooling over a hot cruller.

And Oz sat, a jelly in one hand, Willows fingers in the other, with a Samoan tome releasing dust into the air as he observed, and noted, and pondered.

Please Read and Review! This is my first Buffy fic, and I need to know how I did. If you reveiew mine, I'll review every one of yours that's in a fandom I know in the least – I promise!