Willow looked up from the computer as the library door swung open. "Hi oh, hi."
Xander nodded, looking around all the while. "Hey. Where's everybody? I thought we were having a war council."
"Me too. But nobody's shown up. Well, Giles was here, but he got called to a staff meeting. But no Buffy."
"Or Oz," she agreed. She looked down at her hands on the keyboard, surprised to find them shaking. She had to calm down. Just because this was their first time alone together since that night
"How is Oz?"
"Good. He's good."
"And things are okay between you two?" He walked closer, saddened as his nearness caused her to grow jumpier.
They stared at each other in uncomfortable silence. Willow sighed. "Did you "
"Are you "
They both laughed nervously.
"You first "
"You first "
He smiled and her heart turned over. How many times had they done this growing up? But growing up was over.
She had known this moment would come, this just the two of them. They had done everything they could to postpone it, becoming Buffy's second and third shadow, following her en masse so there was no chance anything could happen.
Because it could. Even though she was back with Oz and she loved him, he'd been right. It was never going to be over between her and Xander.
She'd loved him too much for too long. Still loved him. Always would. And, as much as they'd blithely sworn that night was most definitely their last kiss, she wanted nothing more than to run across the room and lose herself in his embrace.
And she hated herself for it. Oz was perfect and perfect for her. He loved her, respected her, wrote songs for her. In truth, he was the man every woman dreamed about.
Except the woman dreaming about the silly, sarcastic, smart alec boy she'd grown up with. Bad enough her body had betrayed Oz, but her mind and heart were still mutinous.
She started. "Sorry for what?"
"That this is so awkward. It's probably going to be more so now that you guys are " He blushed.
"We're still friends, Xander."
"Yeah." It was his turn to simply stare. Coming to realize that his Willow had grown up had brought all of this down on him - on them. She was going to be happy now. She'd gotten her Xander crush out of her system and was back with Oz. He had no right to impose his feelings on her.
No right to tell her that, although he cared a lot about Cordelia, his overwhelming emotion was guilt. Guilt that he'd hurt her, that she'd gotten hurt, that the whole town had heard about it before they'd found a way to save her reputation.
He had no right to say that she was still the person on his mind, every minute of every day. No right to tell her that he loved her, wanted her, needed her.
He had helped her betray Oz, the man she loved. He had no rights at all.
"Well, I should should go. It would look bad if anyone came in." He backed away, his eyes avoiding hers. "I'm I'm glad you and Oz are good, Will. You deserve that."
Willow watched him bolt out the door. A heartfelt sadness overtook her as he left her standing there.