Notes: Third of a series of half-ficlets (quint-drabbles? 500 words, anyway) presenting the beginnings of relationships for Xander. Next up: Riley.
Summary: The title pretty much says it all. :o)
“Hello.” Xander spotted Darlene trying to smuggle a whole bag of Doritos out in her lunch, and he had to hold the phone away from his mouth to yell at her. In other houses, it might just have gotten her disappointed looks from a calorie- or budget-conscious parent, but here it could start a riot. You had to nip these things in the bud. Once Darlene had surrendered the chips, Xander turned back to the phone. “Sorry. Let’s try that again. Hello.”
“Xander?” The voice on the other end was familiar, which was unexpected. There weren’t a lot of people left in the world whose voices would ring a bell for Xander after only one word.
“Yeah. Xander Harris. Who may I say is calling?” Xander smacked himself in the forehead, but he was careful to make it quiet. No need to advertise his loser status to people who couldn’t even see him.
“It’s Oz.” Xander’s his entire abdomen flipped over. Only not literally, because they didn’t let anyone practice magic without shields anymore.
“Oz. Wow.” They’d been emailing and IMing for months, but Xander hadn’t expected to get a call from him for another … ever. “How are you doing?”
“Good.” There was a long pause while Xander waited for him to elaborate.
Finally, he said, “You know, this whole nonverbal thing works a lot better when I can see you.”
“I get that,” Oz said amiably. “Actually, that’s why I was calling. I was thinking about doing that.”
“Going nonverbal? I think you’ve got that down, man.”
“Seeing you.” There was a smile in Oz’s voice, and it made Xander want to jump around a little. He didn’t; there was a cluster of girls gathering their backpacks five feet away. He had to maintain some dignity.
“Really?” Xander asked.
“I‘ll be in town,” Oz said. “And I was thinking, ‘What would make Cleveland bearable?’ And you just seemed like a natural answer.”
“Making Cleveland bearable is a skill of mine,” Xander told him modestly. A couple of the girls who were within earshot shook their heads at him disbelievingly, but Xander just flapped a hand to shoo them away. They were going to be late for school if they didn’t leave now, anyway.
“I thought that about you.” Oz’s voice was warm, and Xander felt a flash of recognition. Oz used to sound that way in high school, when he was happy and relaxed and talking to Willow.
“I thought you were in New York for a while,” he said. Oz had emailed him a bunch of pictures of his guitar propped up against walls in different parts of the city. “What are you coming to town for?”
“Got an old friend to see.”
“Oh?” Xander asked. And then he said, “Oh,” soft and low.
“Hypothetical. If I were out front right now being stared at by preteens, what would you say?”
It turned out, Xander wouldn’t say anything, because he was too busy running for the door.