Maybe something bit Xander too, because he's turned into somebody else. A sex freak. A pervert who keeps looking at Oz's lips. Somebody who volunteers to wolfsit, whose heart gets thumpy towards sunrise when the wolf melts to Oz, to naked sleeping Oz.
Class, locker room. Xander watches Oz, makes himself not watch, and either way he gets confused looks from Oz, knowing X-ray gaydar ones from Larry.
"What's up?" Oz asks, eventually. His mouth is fleshy-pink, and Xander's mouth is dry and cold, and they're alone in the library stacks, and Xander blinks, slow and hard, and says, "Nothing."
There's a bruise on Xander's jaw, but he won't let Oz apologize: "I'd've hit me, too."
Oz decides he's starting to get why Willow loves the guy.
Somehow they end up driving around, talking about girls and magic and not mixing the two, and whether Buffy is technically a superhero and if so, who should do the comic. They have hamburgers and root beer at the world's last drive-in A&W, arguing over whether Batman and Robin are gay.
"A guy can like another guy without . . . without kissing," Xander says.
Oz has to admit that this is true.
Willow's kissing Oz now, on one of the Bronze's stained couches. They look weirdly alike: red hair, little bodies in bright shirts.
Half an hour ago, Willow was kissing Xander. He can still taste her chapstick.
Love triangle, people say (well, people on TV). But this isn't a triangle. It's two lines, Willow to Xander, Willow to Oz.
Seeing Oz hold Willow's face and kiss her hard, Xander can imagine drawing that third line. Kissing Oz, making a whole, giving this mess a shape.
Xander could do it right now. If the whole world was different. If kissing was geometry.
Trying to piss with a hard-on is already no fun, and then Xander walks in, talking about Veruca, asking to be introduced. Oz zips up in a hurry, still hard.
He loves Willow. That's the truth, not how his dick gets stiff for Veruca. Not how he'd like to fuck them all, Veruca and Xander and Buffy and even Giles, one after another, and then sleep peacefully next to Willow. Those are lies, just testosterone and wolfishness.
If he touched Xander now, kissed him . . . Willow'd never know.
At the sink, he scrubs his hands until they hurt.
Oz stinks of blood and fear-sweat, and he hisses when Xander hugs him.
They've never hugged, but you've got to when somebody's going away forever.
"Call me," Xander says, lips almost touching Oz's ear. "Anytime. Collect's okay."
"Sure." Said without sureness, and Xander keeps hugging him, hugs and hugs until it's not a hug anymore, until it's outgrown any name he could give it.
He could kiss Oz now, finally, even though Willow's waiting in the van and Anya's jingling her keys. It's not like he'll get another chance.
But no kiss at all is better than a kiss goodbye.