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Who's Talking to Xander?

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“Xander!” Buffy was leaning over him. Xander could almost see down her blouse. It was a sight for sore, heterosexual eyes. He might have cried for sheer relief. “Are you all right?”

“Oh, you’re not all right, mate,” Spike said. He was leaning against the locker, shirtless. Looking entirely too good shirtless. A sight for anguished, closet case eyes. It was all Xander could do not to scream in sheer terror. “Or maybe you’re more all right than you’d like to be.”

“Xander?” Buffy said. She was frowning at him in a puzzled way. Not reacting at all to the shirtless vampire behind her. A strange reaction for both a woman and a slayer. Unless the rumors about her were true. You’d still think she’d be reaching for a stake. “Talk to me, Xander.”

“No, talk to me, Xander.” Cordelia scowled at Buffy, pushing in front of her. She, too, took no notice of the shirtless Spike.

This was not like Cordy at all. She would have screamed, or ogled. Possibly both. Unless the rumours about her were true, no. Cordy would have noticed, regardless.

“Why are you staring into space, as if Faith suddenly materialized and decided to do a strip tease there?” Cordelia put her hands on her hips and glared at him.

Buffy turned bright red, as if she were feeling Xander’s shame for him.

“Oh, if only she knew,” Spike said, running his tongue over his lips, in a manner, which was smug, vampiric, and male all at once. It made Xander want to smack him. No, not that way!

All right, brain, stop thinking about it!

“Yes,” Xander mumbled, trying to concentrate on that Definitely Heterosexual and Manly Image. “Faith, strip tease. Right!”

“Wrong!” Buffy snapped, giving Xander a look which was so savage, he wondered if she wasn’t going to take off his head, right then and there.

“Yes, wrong!” Cordelia agreed, although she gave Buffy a puzzled, irritated look. Agreeing with Buffy was never something she did, readily. “What’s wrong with you, Xander? You’re even clumsier than usual.” Concern for him mingled with social concern over dating the kind of boy who stumbled in the hall.

One would think she’d be over it by now.

“Well, let’s face it,” Harmony chimed in. “He’s had a lot to deal with, hasn’t he?”

Everyone stared at Harmony as if they’d forgotten she was here. Xander wasn’t entirely sure how she’d gotten here.

Harmony smirked, smug in her safety surrounded by Former Cordettes. Not a good sign.

“What exactly is that supposed to mean?” Buffy and Cordelia demanded in the exact same moment. Again, they exchanged an uncomfortable glance. Being in synch wasn’t on either girl’s To Do list.

“Aww, isn’t that cute?” Harmony giggled, looking knowingly at each of the Former Cordettes with shining eyes.“You’re finishing each other’s sentences!”

The other girls giggled, but their lips curling in a nasty twist of contempt? Disgust? Xander was used to seeing both whenever Cordelia’s former ‘friends’ saw him with Cordelia.

This time they weren’t looking at him.

“It is cute.” Spike eyeballed both Cordelia and Buffy, giving them a slow, appreciative once over. “Makes you wonder if the rumours don’t have a little truth to them.” His slow, appreciative once over returned to Xander. “After all, old Larry turned out to be on the right track, didn’t he?” His chest did a flexing ripple, which Xander realized he’d never be able replicate.

Angel might, except he wasn’t going to think about Angel, either.

“Yes, he was.” Spike smirked, his expression quite like the Cordettes. “Quite the poof you’ve turned out to be.”

“I am not!” Buffy and Xander said, at the exact same time.

The two of them stared at each other, unsure if they were comfortable with this or not.

“Who’s talking to you, lamebrain?” Harmony demanded. Her smile withered a bit around the edges. “You think, because you’re Cordelia’s bread, you can speak to me as if we were equals?”

“Beard,” Aura muttered in an undertone to Harmony. “The word is ‘beard’.”

“That’s what I said,” Harmony said, scowling at Aura, who was ruining her moment of triumph over Cordelia. “What do you think, that I’m stupid or something?”

“Yes,” Buffy, Cordelia, Xander, and even Aura said in a low undertone.

“Fine!” Harmony snapped. Her lower lip trembled a bit, but she managed to keep up her sneer. “I’d rather be stupid than a dyke!”

With her parting sally, Harmony made a grand exit. Aura and other Former Cordettes followed her, shooting Cordelia and Buffy glances as they did.

It took a moment for Cordelia to process what they’d said.

“What?!” she cried, staring from Buffy to Xander to Harmony’s departing back. “What are you talking about?”

Buffy looked down, as if she couldn’t bear to look at Cordelia or Xander.

“And it keeps getting better,” Spike observed, before he vanished.

Wait, since when had he been able to do that?