1. Because she always wants what she thinks is best for the people she cares about. And contrary to what some people think, she does care about Buck.
"You should go out with Rick Everett," she told him over lunch one day.
He blinked at her. When it was clear she wasn't going to elaborate, he said tentatively, "Isn't this more Zanna's terr—"
"He suggested it, but I think it's a good idea. You'd be cute together. And you know, Rick's pretty okay."
Resounding approval, he thought, except that for Candy it kind of was.
"And then we could double date," she chirped. "Won't that be fun? You and Rick, and me and Suzie!"
"Uh, Candy, aren't you – " jumping the gun a little?
"Zanna says Rick thinks you're cute," she added in a faux-confidential tone.
Well. In that case.
"Are you going to finish your Coke?" Candy asked.
2. Because when push comes to shove, she pushes back. Harder.
"I will not put up with this!" she snapped, looking so completely outraged that he almost wanted to laugh, despite feeling more completely miserable than he ever had before.
"Candy – "
"He cannot get away with this, Buck! I won't allow it!"
"Candy – "
"Who does he think he is?" she fumed. "This is outrageous. This is beyond outrageous. No one cheats on my best friend and gets away with it!"
Honestly, he didn't really want her to stop. It made him feel a little better, to know that someone was so completely on his side.
She tossed her hair and dropped her clipboard on top of all her textbooks – which he was, of course, carrying for her – and said, "I'm going to go give him a piece of my mind! Wait here."
That, on the other hand, might be going too far. "Candy!"
But she was already gone.
He chased her through the school – damn, but the girl could move. It probably didn't help that he was still carrying her books, on second thought, but it was a little too late to do anything about that now. He caught up with her in front of Rick's locker, where she was already berating a shell-shocked Rick.
"You do not cheat on my best friend! What on Earth is wrong with you? You have this fantastic guy who's completely committed to you and you cheat on him? If my girlfriend were as stupid as you, I'd dump her right then and there – do you have any idea how lucky you are that Buck has been wasting his time with you?"
"Um," Rick squeaked.
Buck couldn't help being a little satisfied that for once, it was someone else Candy wasn't letting finish a sentence. Plus, seeing his cheating (ex-)boyfriend so at a loss for words because of a girl half his height was just really, really funny.
3. Because she knows when to not be around. Sometimes, anyway.
So, he was spending the evening with Tank, doing a guy's-night-in thing. The complete series of Buffy on DVD and double fudge brownies, who needed anything more? And they were having fun, cheering on Buffy, bitching about their pathetic love lives, and Tank seriously had to do something about his crush on Zanna soon or Buck was going to have to strangle him, best-guy-friend or not.
His phone rang halfway through "Once More With Feeling" and he kind of picked it up without checking the caller ID first, mostly because he was halfway hoping it was Gary, the cute guy from his swim team, and the next thing he knew Candy was complaining that Suzie had bailed out on their date for some kind of family thing and then inviting herself over while Tank (who didn't hate Candy but also didn't particularly like her) was desperately miming at him no no no over and over again. What could he do?
He said, "Well, Candy, actually – "
"Great!" she said. "I'll be over in half an hour!"
Tank shook his head sadly as Buck hung up the phone. "Man," he said, "We gotta teach you how to say no."
Buck shrugged helplessly. What was he supposed to do?
Candy showed up precisely thirty minutes later with signup sheets for next year's school musical, which she was already working on. She pronounced their brownies underdone and turned off Buffy so she could bitch about Suzie bailing on her. Tank made faces at her every time her back was turned, and Buck desperately bit his cheek and tried not to laugh.
"Uh, Candy," Buck tried to say when she paused to take a breath, "this is kind of suppo—"
"I really appreciate you letting me come over, you're like the best friend ever, Buck." She gave him a hug, and he, well, he just sort of melted. He couldn't throw her out after that, no matter how much she was intruding on his guy time.
And, bless her selfish little heart, somewhere around the time she was trying to convince both of them to sign up for the school musical despite Buck's inability to act and Tank's preference to stay behind the scenes, she started to realize that she was, in fact, intruding. Probably in large part due to Tank's less-than-veiled hints, but still.
"You should have just said," she told Buck with mock irritation. "I can entertain myself for an evening. I have things to do for the drama club anyway. You need to speak up more!"
"But I – "
"Have fun with Tank. He's kind of cute, I guess," she added doubtfully. "I'll see you tomorrow, bright and early!" And she was gone before he could even try to point out the complete ridiculousness of implying that anything would ever happen between him and Tank.
So instead he laughed and went back to Buffy.
4. Because he kind of envies her.
He'd never been the guy people really noticed, since long before he had Candy interrupting him on a daily basis. He was quiet, kind of dorky, not one to like being the center of attention. He always had an instinctual, bone-deep feeling that nobody really cared what he thought about any given topic.
Maybe that was why he got along so well with Tank, who was never really comfortable unless everything was set to music.
Ever since he and Candy became friends and he became her unofficial assistant, he could see firsthand what it was like to be so completely sure of yourself, to have opinions and be confident that the rest of the world should know and share in them. And it was...deeply attractive. He started trying to voice his own opinions – which didn't always work, admittedly; as many good qualities as Candy had, listening to others wasn't listed among them – but sometimes it worked; sometimes people heard him; sometimes he could even finagle Candy into hearing him.
Even if she didn't always realize that was what she was doing. Maybe especially when she didn't realize that she was listening to – even agreeing with – what he thought about something.
But that didn't matter.
What mattered was that even when she really ticked him off, he always wanted, on some level, to be her. Or to be like her, at least. To not be afraid of anything.
On some level, he always hoped that by following her around and being her friend and helping with every cause she happened to pick up he would somehow figure out how she did it.
It hadn't happened yet, but he kept hoping.
5. Because she's his best friend.
Maybe it is just that simple. Is that such a bad thing?
The weekend before school started, they holed up at her house for one last end-of-summer sleepover with popcorn and cheesy movies and Candy's stack of back-to-school activities and controversies. Heather Has One Mommy and One Daddy. The first issue of the school paper. Coach Addison's baby shower. ("Yes," he assured her, "I reminded Gary about our gift.") The school musical. (He finally promised to audition, but nothing more concrete than that. Maybe he could get an ensemble part. Or work on the costumes.)
She asked him about how things were going with Gary and he asked after Suzie. They threw popcorn at each other and raided the kitchen for her mom's fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. They discussed the upcoming school year and decided to make an effort to support Heartsville in its less successful sports endeavors, like football. He asked what the rules of football were, and she tried to explain them as best she could – he had a feeling she didn't know, either. But she said there was dancing involved, so that could be fun? And Tank would probably tag along, and he'd convince Zanna, and wherever Zanna was there was usually a crowd.
She was already making plans for the senior prom.
Sometimes Buck was pretty sure Candy was completely crazy.
But he loved her anyway.