Explanation: A little comic relief amongst all the stress and angst. I've had way too much fun at Xander's expense, but I couldn't help it. I've been in a silly mood--this is the result.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Characters (at least the ones resembling those I've written about here) belong to Joss and company. I've only borrowed them to relieve my angst. No money. Don't sue.
Thanks: To my roomie for all her great ideas and lines and stuff. And for letting me giggle over this thing waaaay too much. I have my own fun.
"Explain to me again the insane hormonal urge that led you to believe this was a *good* idea?" Cordelia Chase was perched delicately on a picnic table outside the Sunnydale Miniature Golf Course, checking her makeup for at least the tenth time.
"The same hormonal urge that led me to big smootchies in the closet with the Wicked Witch of the West?" Xander was feeling testy enough about this evening, he didn't need Cordelia to give him a hard time.
"I don't have to be here you know. I have had other offers for this evening."
"Bidders you mean?" Xander quipped, then giggled. Cordelia met his amusement with a glare.
Xander quickly swallowed his glee. "I'm sorry. We said we weren't going to do this. I promised Buffy we'd stick together tonight, so it's best behavior for us -- not that we could get much worse."
Cordelia snapped her compact shut and hopped of the table with a smirk of satisfaction. "Fine. So where are they?"
"I dunno. Maybe this place doesn't allow dogs so they had to sneak Oz in." Xander smiled again at his own humor.
"Fine, fine. Sorry. I like Oz. Really. He's cool. Hairy, but cool. I just don't like Oz & Willow. They're so.... Oz & Willow. It's the basic twoness of them that just...."
"Sends your jealousy meter into the stratosphere?" Cordelia snapped with exasperation. "I swear, Xander Harris, if you don't start appreciating what's ...." Cordelia stopped mid-rant as she realized that Xander had stopped listening and started staring at his feet. She turned to see that Oz & Willow had finally arrived for this disaster-waiting-to-happen, better known as a double date.
"Hi." Willow was fidgeting nervously, looking distinctly unhappy to be there. Oz was just... well, who could ever really tell how Oz was?
The foursome exchanged greetings and then stood in awkward silence for a few moments, not quite sure what to do next.
Oz finally broke the tension. "Let's golf."
Xander and Oz stood back as they let the girls putt first. Xander, jealousy firmly in check, took advantage of the opportunity.
"So Oz." He threw his arm over Oz's shoulder in a friendly, yet oddly domineering gesture. "Almost graduation time for you isn't it? What are your plans for the future? Gonna take that band of yours on the road... do the roadie thing?"
"Nah. I'm kinda letting the future sort of, be the future. Ya know?"
Willow, keeping careful tabs on events, piped up. "Oz is really smart Xander. He's got lots of offers from schools and stuff."
"Schools and stuff?"
"Yeah." Oz got ready to putt. "All these recruiter types keep trying to wine and dine me and ask me to study in their science departments and whatnot. It's annoying." His first putt landed about three inches from the hole. "Free food though."
"And you are bothered by this?"
"Well, I just don't like all the pressure to decide what I want to be. I'd rather just... be."
"So you're going to just be." Xander, seeming a tad overanxious, hit his first ball a tad hard. The ball bounced off the farthest border, rolled back by the hole, and landed about six feet away from it.
"Yeah. That and I'm gonna take a few classes at the local U until I see something that interests me." Oz smiled slyly at Willow, who blushed but flashed one of her own brilliant smiles back. She was definitely learning how to take the Oz treatment with style. Xander fumed and hit his second shot--which ended up in almost the exact same spot.
**** Hole 4
Cordelia and Oz waited patiently while Willow tried valiantly to help Xander get his ball up over a slope and somewhere in the vicinity of the hole. To her credit, Cordelia attempted to strike up a conversation.
"So, Oz. When you.... change. What happens to your clothes? Not that there's any great loss, but do they, like, rip all up Incredible Hulk style? Is that why you dress like that?"
Oz smiled. "Yeah, Cordelia. I actually have a hidden stash of Armani men's wear. But, I've got to keep this secret identity thing going, ya know? Can't be calling attention to myself. People might notice something's different." He lowered his voice. "You know how observant the citizens of Sunnydale can be."
"Oooh. Right. Well. Your secret's safe with me." She smiled conspiratorially, then lowered her voice to a whisper as well. "Still. You might consider wearing fewer of those...um... shirts are they? Grunge really is so last year."
Xander and Oz had gone off to retrieve some refreshments. While waiting, Cordelia whipped out her compact for another touch up. Willow watched with fascination. The amazing thing was that Cordelia didn't look any different when she was done. Willow never would quite get the hang of all that fancy girly stuff. Buffy tried to help her, too, but Willow really wasn't comfortable being anyone but herself.
"So, do you think that fleas will be a problem?" Cordelia asked.
"With Oz. Fleas?"
"Cordelia, it's only three days out of the month. And he's staying locked up then. I really don't think grooming will be an issue."
"Right." Cordelia nodded. "Other than that werewolf thing, he seems like a nice enough guy. And the senior factor is a definitely plus. You've done well for yourself Willow. "
"Me on the other hand. I'm just not sure that this isn't a giant step backward."
"Hmm?" Cordelia was focused on carefully applying some lipstick.
"If you don't like Xander so much, why are you with him?"
Cordelia stared into her mirror for a moment--her face showed evidence of an actual thought process taking place, but Willow couldn't be sure with all that make up.
"I ...uh... he's a great kisser." Cordy immediately began fiddling through her tiny purse as though it was the size of carry-on luggage.
"I wouldn't know," Willow mumbled at her sneakers. "Anything else?"
"Well, Willow. You know Xander. He's just so.... Well. Once you've gained a little more experience, you'll understand these things. How long *does* it take to buy a soda?" Cordelia made a show of looking for the guys--anything to avoid looking at Willow.
Willow really wanted to push the discussion further, but she was just too irritated to try. "Well you know Xander. He's probably had to go back at least twice."
Just then the guys rounded the corner. Xander, whose shirt looked a bit damp, was complaining loudly. "I just didn't see the bench.... the first time. The second time there were just too many people watching. I can't take that kind of pressure."
"So, Xander." Oz was standing guard while Xander fiddled with the lighthouse, trying to figure out how to get it apart and get at the ball he'd somehow managed to get stuck inside it.
"Yeah?" Xander replied distractedly.
"You were a hyena?"
"Well. Possessed really." Xander got the top off of the lighthouse and started reaching around inside it. He somehow managed to contort himself to a point where he was almost halfway inside.
"Oh. So you didn't have to go through any transformation or anything?" Xander made a sound that sounded like a negative response. "Cool. What was it like?"
With his head stuck in the lighthouse, Xander didn't see Willow approach. His voice sounded funny as it echoed out the lighthouse window.
"Pretty wild actually. I could sort of see what was going on and what I was doing, but it was like I had no control. Which is a good thing because I did some pretty horrid things to Willow and Buffy. Not to mention poor Herbert. I told them I didn't remember any of it. I'm a man. I can admit that I'm a wimp. It just seemed easier to pretend it didn't happen and move on then to go through the awkward, pitiful apology stage. Man did I feel guilty though."
Willow took advantage of the opportunity. "You should have."
"Tell me about it, Will. I .... Ow!" Xander rubbed the spot on his chin that he'd hit when he'd jerked his head out of the lighthouse. Everyone was staring. Especially Willow. Xander smiled.
"Found my ball."
"Xander? Xander it's your shot!" Willow sighed and made her way back to the tee, which was up a slight incline and behind the large clock. "Cordelia...." She halted as she rounded the clock and saw Xander and Cordelia locked in one of their big, messy smootches.
She made a hasty retreat back around the clock, then stopped to lean heavily on the side of the thing. She would never ever understand it. *Boys.* She looked back down the slope at Oz, who was flirting playfully with a small girl in the group ahead of them while he waited. She smiled. *Yeah. Boys*
Willow sighed once more, pushing herself away from the clock, and called out--a little louder this time. "XANDER! IT'S YOUR SHOT!"
She heard muffled sounds and a distinct thump as someone, probably Xander, dropped a club. Seconds later, one of Xander's wild, errant shots went zooming down the slope followed closely by a ruffled Xander and a slightly flushed, but otherwise pristine, Cordelia.
Willow stood at the end of the hole, pencil gripped tightly. She had to struggle not to write too hard or she'd break the tip. And then what would she use to poke Xander's eyes out?
"Scores?" She asked impatiently.
"Eight. But that third shot really shouldn't...." Xander trailed off as Willow glared. "Eight."
"Found it!" Xander yelled as he came crawling out of the bushes with his ball. "You won't believe where I managed to hit...." He was talking to absolutely no one. "Where'd everyone go?" He spotted Cordy heading for the bathroom--did she have to check her hair and make up after *every* hole?--but Oz and Willow were nowhere in sight.
Xander figured that the others had probably finished the hole already and moved on. *I'm surprised they stuck around this long.* He looked around again, dropped his ball next to the hole, and then tapped it in.
"Whoo hoo! Hole in three! A new Harris record!"
He did a little Xander-dance around the hole. Then stopped. It just wasn't any fun cheating when there was no one to catch you. Xander shrugged and headed down the trail to the next hole. Then stopped in his tracks.
Oz and Willow were sitting on a bench along the path. Oz was holding one of Willow's hands, and he was tracing the lines on her palm. *Of course. He reads palms, too.* Xander sighed and stepped back so they wouldn't see him. But he kept watching.
They sat there, foreheads almost touching, as Oz told Willow her future -- or something. Willow giggled when his finger tickled her palm. Oz said something else. Willow blushed, but her smile widened.
*I am *such* the idiot,* thought Xander. *She used to smile like that for me.* Xander took another step back and then slouched to the ground. He was sitting there, contemplating his various friendships, when Cordelia returned.
"Finally found the ball Harris? Let's move on."
Xander had been doing everything he could possibly thing of to make Willow smile. Cordelia was very obviously ticked off that he was ignoring her, and Willow was very obviously avoiding him. He was feeling very much like he'd lost his best friend--which, he guessed, he had.
This called for drastic measures.
"Hey Willow!" He called over to her.
Willow sighed. "Yeah Xander?" She took another sip of her soda.
Willow blinked, then soda came spewing out of her mouth as she burst into laughter.
Xander beamed. Willow continued to giggle uncontrollably for a few minutes. Her giggles were infectious and Xander joined her. They ended up supporting each other as they fought to compose themselves and catch their breath.
Cordelia stared. Oz stared.
Willow noticed their non-amusement first. In between gasps for air she attempted to explain. "See... whenever one.... if we let things.... if things... too serious."
Xander stopped her. "Sorry guys. Childhood joke. Couldn't possibly explain."
Cordelia just rolled her eyes and headed for the next hole. Oz smiled, then followed. Xander and Willow exchanged glances, fought to keep from giggling, failed, and followed the others--arm in arm, matching each other giggle for giggle.
"Damn. Water hazard. Whose bright idea was it to put these things in anyway? They're so ... hazardous." Xander grumbled.
"That's kind of the point, Xander. They make things more challenging." Willow answered helpfully.
"Are you kidding? This course is challenging enough on it's own." Xander looked to the others for confirmation. "Right?"
"Sure. If you've got the coordination of a hippo on roller skates." Cordelia rolled her eyes, wondering yet again how she'd gotten herself into this mess.
"Uh Xander, what are you doing?" Oz asked.
"Xander," Willow cautioned. "That's not a good idea."
Xander waved them off. "I can get it."
"Xander, you're supposed to call the attendant to bring a net."
"Please. I can ... almost... reach...."
"Hey man. You're dripping on my ball." Oz waved Xander away as he got set to sink his ball in two.
"*This* is a brand new Tommy Hilfiger." Cordelia snapped as she rung out the hem of her designer golf outfit. "My daddy's credit card paid for this. You had better have some serious laundry skills Mr. Harris."
"Well, you shouldn't have been standing so close to the water hazard!" Xander attempted, unsuccessfully, to deflect some of his blame and embarrassment.
"And how was *I* supposed to know that you were going to try to impress me with your Free Willy imitation?" She rolled her eyes and moved off to watch Willow as she took her next shot, leaving Xander dripping pathetically on the green.
"Who knew I could make a splash that big in a foot of water?" He muttered as he got set to take his fourth--or was this the fifth?--shot. ****
A hush fell over the group. Well, except for Xander who could be heard muttering to himself about various injustices that had befallen him -- unexpected breezes, a bad ball, sticks and bumps in his path, yadda yadda yadda.
Everyone else watched as Oz prepared to join the ranks of Best Scores for the Sunnydale Mini-Golf Course. Willow had all her fingers crossed. Cordelia was just hoping he'd get a hole in one so she could get out of there and find a hair dryer and clean clothes.
Finally, without much pretense, Oz lined up, took a swing and.....
"A hole in one!" Willow cried.
"A hyen yun ya!" Xander parodied, rolling his eyes.
"Thank god." Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief and started to head for the gate.
Xander stopped himself from saying more when he saw the joy in Willow's eyes. "Congratulations man."
A very bored looking attendant approached and began to recite a practiced spiel in a rushed monotone, "Congratulations on your great score. On behalf of the Sunnydale Miniature Golf Course, I'm thrilled to reward your Hole in One on Hole 18 with a free round of golf." He handed a voucher to Oz, turned on his heel, and made a beeline for his hut. He had to get back to "South Park."
"Coolness. Anyone want to play again?"
Oz quickly ducked the flurry of golf balls hurled his way.
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