Notes: First of a series of half-ficlets (quint-drabbles? 500 words, anyway) presenting the beginnings of relationships for Xander. Next up: Andrew.
Summary: The title pretty much says it all. :o)
A tall black man slunk against the wall next to Xander, close enough that their shoulders brushed. “I’m not the only one who finds this terrifying, right?” the man said.
Xander grinned. “Anyone with sense would find this terrifying,” he agreed. He pushed away from the wall with one foot and turned toward his sense-having new companion, holding out a hand. “I’m Xander.”
“Charles.” Charles had a firm handshake and a warm smile. And a shaved head that made Xander kind of want to lick it. What? He’d had the same fantasies about Jean-Luc Picard as everybody else. “I don’t know,” Charles said. “A lot of folks seem pretty lacking in fear.” He waved a hand at the other Watchers and chaperones dotting the room’s periphery, and Xander saw that he was right; most of them looked bored to tears by the chaos of the Annual Watcher’s Council Conference. (Xander called it “The Big Sleepover,” but Giles insisted that wasn’t official enough.)
“Maybe we should start a club or something,” Charles suggested with a grin.
“The ‘Properly Afraid of Slayers Hopped Up on Hannah Montana and Twizzlers’ Club?” Xander nodded. “It’s catchy. Can we have badges? Because we had badges in the ‘We Hate Cordelia Chase’ Club, and it raised the whole organization to a new level.”
A line appeared between Charles’ eyebrows. “You hated Cordelia?” He didn’t sound overtly judge-y, but he didn’t sound approving, either. Xander’s shoulders tightened defensively.
“Hey, she didn’t spend all of third grade calling you Lame-o the Dumb-tacular.” Charles’ mouth twitched at the corner, and Xander couldn’t help smiling sheepishly. “At the time, that qualified as biting wit.” He sighed. “She got better at the insults.”
“Yeah, she did.” Charles watched him for a moment, and Xander tried not to fidget. He pretended to be interested in the way a cadre of the younger girls had banded together to choreograph a dance routine that was half hip hop and half combat. “I don’t know about badges,” Charles said finally, “but we could have meetings, maybe.”
Xander licked his lips and noticed the way Charles’ eyes flickered to his mouth in response. “I can do meetings,” Xander said. “Meetings are good.”
Charles grinned at him and Xander grinned back, and it would have been one of those shining, perfect moments if one of his girls hadn’t chosen that moment to burst into tears and fling herself at Xander. “A meeting might have to wait,” Xander said resignedly, patting Steph’s back.
“That’s okay.” Charles’ smile was softer, but still there. “You gotta take care of your team.” He didn’t even look like he wanted to mock the fact that Xander’s team was prepubescent. “I’ll be around.”
“Okay. I’ll find you later, then.”
“You better,” Charles said. He touched the back of Xander’s hand and left, crossing the room with all the care of a man traversing a mine field.
Xander ducked his head against Stephanie’s hair so that no one could see his stupidly huge smile.