Pairing: Xander & Tara (friendship), Xander/Anya (implied)
Word Count: 2158
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Joss
Summary: During a girls' night, Tara relates a story about Xander
“No, no, no!” exclaimed Anya. “This is going too far. I can understand Willow. They were kids together. A lot of boys at that age… And I can even kind of accept it happening with Buffy, during a rescue attempt. But, you?”
“Yep,” said Tara, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary.
“Sweetie, how… when did this happen?”
“Maybe we should send Dawn out of the room for this.”
“No, it’s cool. I want to hear.”
“I promised Xander I’d never mention it.”
“It’s too late for that, missy. Now spill,” Anya demanded.
“All right,” Tara launched into her story. “This was before I settled in Sunnydale. I had registered for classes, met a girl, who helped me find a job at a club in Southern California. I was into my second week as my job as a cook when Jan – that was my boss - came up to me and said…”
“I’ll need you to show the new dishwasher the ropes.”
“We’re practicing bondage on the first day now?”
“Smart ass. I’d do it myself, but there’s a Mary Kay convention in town and those girls can get a little wild if left unattended for too long.”
“No problem, Jan.”
“So,when Alex gets here, you’ll-“
(“Alex?” Anya interjected. “Who’s this Alex? Is this a lesbian story? And when does Xander get here?”
“Just listen. As Anya insinuated, I was all set and ready for some exotic-looking woman to walk through the kitchen door. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled when ‘Alex’ finally did show up.”)
A throat cleared, knocking Tara from her fantasy of Alex. She glanced up to see a guy about her age, wearing a plain white tee shirt and jeans, standing in the doorway. “I said ‘hello’, but I guess you didn’t hear me.”
Tara wiped her hands on her apron, sizing him up. He was a little on the skinny side, but who knows what appealed to these women. “If you’re here to audition as a dancer, they’re held on Tuesday.”
“If I… no. Not me. I’m not… I mean, I don’t dance… unless you’re talking about this.” The young man demonstrated something that looked like a spastic chicken about to take flight.
(“That’s definitely a Xander move,” said Buffy.)
“Oh. You’re Alex.” She couldn’t keep the disappointment out of her voice.
“Normally, people wait a day before they look unhappy to see me. Guess you’re ahead of the curve. Jan said I had the necessary qualifications for the job – two hands, the ability to differentiate between hot and cold, and twelve years experience at the Harris kitchen sink.”
(“I’ve been doing dishes for months since Xander said he didn’t know how. He is so going to suffer with dishpan hands after today.”)
Tara pointed in the direction of the sink. “Soap and towels are kept underneath. You won’t have much to do during the first hour or so. It doesn’t get really busy ‘til the middle of the second show, the one at seven, and then we work like crazy until right around midnight.”
“Yeah. Just the standard fare. Nachos, onion rings, buffalo wings, taquitos, and sometimes I go a little crazy and make artichoke dip, but people really don’t come here for the food.”
“And here I thought you could be a Fabulous Lady.”
“Me? No, and this is a-“
A man pushed through the side door. “Hey, Tara, can I swipe a carrot stick? My blood sugar’s kind of low.”
“Sure, Jase, you know where they are.”
Jason leaned into the refrigerator. Xander caught a glimpse of long, muscular very male legs leading up to the G-string, and yelped.
“Whoa! Eyes!” Xander spun around to face anywhere but Jason’s direction.
Jason turned and narrowed his gaze on Xander. “What’s his problem?”
“S-soap. H-he’s the new dishwasher. There was a freak accident with the detergent.”
Jason leaned on the counter next to Tara. He shrugged. “That’s weird.” He nudged Tara with his arm. “How about you and me get together after work?”
“W-well, Jase, I…”
“She’d already planned to show me around this beautiful city.”
Tara quickly hid the look of relief that crossed her face. “T-that’s right. I did. Sorry.”
Jason grabbed another carrot from the refrigerator on his way out.
“Every night,” Tara muttered under her breath. She started at the sound of Xander’s voice.
“Don’t worry. I won’t hold you to anything.”
“Alex,” she began.
“Actually, it’s Xander.”
She smiled. “So are you traveling incognito?”
“Something like that.”
“So… should I call you Tara or would you prefer something more exotic, like Cecile?”
“Ugh. I knew a Cecile once. No thank you.”
“We could both be Alex.”
“Too confusing. I guess I’m stuck with Tara.”
“So, who the hell are the Fabulous Ladies?”
“The patrons. Everybody in the local area knows about it. ‘Prime entertainment for fabulous ladies.’ There are ads in the ‘L.A. Weekly’ Are you an actor?”
“No, I’m supposed to be going on an adventure across the country.”
“Like ‘On the Road’?”
“Exactly. But my stupid car broke down and it’s going to take a couple weeks and money I don’t have in order to fix it. Hence the job and my newfound residence at the twenty-dollar-a-night rat-trap across the street.”
“Have you been around town?”
“I’ve been to the liquor store, but other than that, no.”
“Then, I’ll have to give you the grand tour.”
“Really, you don’t have to.”
“Yes, I do,” she smiled.
(“You two went out?”
“Nothing happened. Well, not really.”)
“Xander, wait,” Tara said, putting her hands against his chest.
“I’m sorry,” said Xander, taking a step away from her. “I’m not much better than Jason or Reynaldo or Tony. I just thought that we’d been having a good time together and, well…”
(“Wait a minute, he tried to kiss you?” Anya accused.
“Holy shit,” Willow whispered.
“Go, Xan!” cheered Dawn.
“Hey! That’s my boyfriend you’re talking about.”
“And my girlfriend.”
“Is there anyone here that Xander hasn’t kissed?”
No one raised their hand.
“Dawnie!” Buffy squeaked.
“I was doing a test. I wanted him to rate how I kissed.”
“When was this?”
“A couple of years ago.”
“Oh? Just because it was part of whole monk mumbo-jumbo doesn’t mean I don’t remember it. I’ll bet Xander remembers.”
“I bet Xander wants to forget,” Willow said, under her breath.
Dawn caught the remark. “Hey!” She turned to Tara, “So was Xander the first boy you-“
“No. And that’s another story for another day.”)
“It’s not you,” Tara said.
(“Of course, it wasn’t Xander. He’s a very good kisser.”
“He’s alri- Dawnie!”
“Do you want to hear the rest of the story?”
“Wait, just let me get done processing this image,” said Dawn.
“Dawn. Go. To your room. Now.”
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Tara asked, a knowing smile on her lips.
“Wait, Dawn. Stay here. But not another word. I had enough trauma dealing with Mom and Giles kissage. I don’t want to add you and Xander to that category.”
“Go on, sweetie,” prompted Willow.)
“No,” Xander said. “It’s me. I should have known I’d never be able to attract a normal girl.”
(“Hey!” said both Anya and Willow in unison.)
“But that’s just it. I’m not who you think I am.”
“Maybe if you were a demon, I’d have a chance.”
“What?” Tara asked, paranoid that he might have discovered the secret that had only seemed part of family legend.
“A-ah, I meant, not demon exactly. But those girls that seem nice on the surface, but then you find out they’ve spent a lot of their spare time eviscerating men and could destroy you if they wished to.”
(“Oh, that’s nice. He was thinking of me.”)
“Some women can be unbelievably cruel.”
“I once went on a date with a woman who thought a good time would be biting my head off.”
“You haven’t had much luck, have you?”
“Not in the girlfriends department. In the friends department, I’m doing pretty good though. I’ve got two of the best friends ever, Willow and Buffy. Wil’s smart. I’ve known her since kindergarten. And Buffy. We’ve only known each other for a few years, but she’s definitely the strongest girl I’ve known. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.”
“That’s rare. Guys don’t usually have girls as best friends and you have two. Are you sure you’re not…?”
“No! No. A hundred percent heterosexual, that’s me. I mean there’s nothing wrong with being that way.”
(“Ooh, wrong thing to say.”)
“I knew a gay person.”
“You know two.”
“I’m pretty sure it was just Larry, but there was that quiet kid that worked for the paper. Maybe…”
Xander’s mouth dropped open for a moment. “Oh. Oh! Is that why you’re always pointing out the pretty women in the club? I thought you were just being really cool.”
(“He really said that?” laughed Willow.
Dawn shook her head. “Boys are so oblivious.”)
After their talk, Xander appointed himself Tara’s protector, chasing away some of the more persistent suitors, but never giving away Tara’s secret.
One evening, Reynaldo came into the kitchen and put his hands on Tara’s waist. Tara’s yelp caught Xander’s attention. Xander pulled Reynaldo away from her and then punched him in the nose, hard enough to break it.
(“That’s my Xander. Always rushing headfirst to defend women in trouble,” said Buffy.
“Hey! That’s my Xander!”)
So, Reynaldo had to go to the hospital and the club was down a dancer. Needless to say, Jan was not pleased.
“Alex Harris!” Jan yelled. “You made this mess. You’re going to fix it.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Xander said.
“Go down the hall to the dressing room. Pick out something your size, I don’t care what. One of the others can show you how the breakaway works.”
“How the who-the-what?”
“You, Alexander the Great, are going on stage and you will do a good job.”
“But I don’t dance,” Xander protested.
“Sweetie, all you need to do is shake this,” Jan patted his ass, “and the rest is natural.”
“Well, you see, I mostly just dance with my arms. Like this.” He demonstrated. “Unless I’m doing the Snoopy dance and I only do that for special occasions.”
Jan wasn’t listening. “Adapt. You cost me a dancer, Harris. You will replace him.” She started to leave, then stopped at the door and added, “And, Alex, you adapt well enough and we’ll talk about you having a share of the tips.”
(“So that night…”
“No, it wasn’t that night.”
“I thought when Xan mentioned his time in Oxnard, he said he substituted only for one night.”
“How many nights was it?”
“Thirteen. I caught the performance the second to last night.”
“So, half the women in Oxnard saw Xander naked before I did.”
“Oh no, probably only a third.”)
Tara left the job the Tuesday before classes started. She needed to get settled in Sunnydale. “Well, this was…”
“Are you going back to Sunnydale any time soon? I could really use someone to show me around town.”
“I don’t know if I’m going back at all. The only thing about Sunnydale that you really need to know is don’t go out after dark. Also, don’t invite anyone in.”
“It’s nice that you’re still protecting me.”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt, that’s all. And if you happen to cross paths with Buffy or Willow, stick with them. Just don’t say anything about me.”
“O-okay.” Tara hugged him, got into her car, and drove away.
“So, Xander is responsible for…” Willow began, just as Xander walked into the room.
“Hey, what’s everybody talking about?”
“Tara was just telling the story of how you two met.”
“Thanksgiving. Willow intro-“
“The real story.”
Xander paled. “Oxnard?”
“She’s seen you naked.”
Xander’s eyes seemed to bug out of his head. His mouth opened and closed. When he spoke, it was only one word. “What?!”
“I looked out the door one night to see how you were doing.”
“Oh God.” Xander hid his face in his hands for a moment, then whispered, “Well, what did you think?”
“I thought you danced very well.”
Tara leaned over and whispered something in Xander’s ear that made him blush. “Thank you,” Xander choked out.
“That’s it?” Anya whined. “She’s not going to tell the rest of us?”
“No,” Xander said with finality.
An uncomfortable silence fell on the room. It lasted for several minutes until Dawn broke it with a question.
“So… am I the only one who hasn’t seen Xander naked?”