Cordelia unceremoniously pushed Xander into her room and onto her bed. “Okay, lame-o, spill it. Why the hell do you look like hell?”
So he told her everything. He began with his run to the pharmacy, and she darkened as he explained about needing to procure tampons for Willow, the Red Menace. She rolled her eyes at the hair-braiding and the listening of boy bands. She yawned loudly at the sharing of feelings and heartfelt moments of friendship. Once he sensed she was properly subdued, he explained to her the nature of his latest revelation.
She sat there, staring at him, her eyes narrowed and flinty. She looked him up and down, blew a lock of hair out of her face, and uncrossed her legs. She stood, and he tensed for the onslaught he was sure was coming.
“What the hell do you mean you’re gay?,” she bellowed.
He cringed. “Keep it down! I don’t think they heard you in Argentina
“You can’t be gay!,” she shrieked. “Hello, ex-girlfriend here, remember? I was there when you introduced me to Lil Xander who, okay, not so little, and he was very happy to meet me! You’re mistaken! You’re insane! You can’t be gay. You have no fashion sense, you’re not trendy, and you don’t smell like oranges!”
“Oranges?,” he repeated.
She waved her arm dismissively as she resumed her seat. She studied him critically and he withered under her gaze. “Are you hot for guys?”
He fidgeted. “I never really thought about it until tonight, and now I can’t stop!”
She raised a brow. “Never, huh? Because I seem to recall you thinking Angel was a very attractive man and that he was buff. Isn’t that true?" He blushed and her eyes widened. “Oh my god! Are you hot for Angel
? Your other best friend’s, well, whatever he is? You and Willow might as well be the same person!”
“I’m not hot for Angel!,” he screamed. He cleared his throat. “But, yeah, I think he’s good-looking.”
“Well, at least your taste isn’t in question,” she sneered. “Except, of course, for Buffy.” She didn’t deign to offer Willow as a possibility.
He rolled his eyes. “Now’s not the time for your jealousy, Cor.”
“Jealous? Are you even crazier than I thought? Why the hell would I be jealous of Buffy? For her freakish strength? Her fake blonde hair? Her passion for necrophilia? Get serious!”
He sighed and averted his gaze. “I’m scared."
She stilled, knowing what that admission, to her of all people, cost him. “Well, that’s just stupid," she said, patting his knee. "There’s nothing to be scared about, Xanny. You don’t even know for sure if you are
a pickle jockey." Her eyes widened. "Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”
He choked. “What? A what?”
She gave him a Look. “Xander, what is it exactly that you think gay guys do together? You can’t really be that misinformed. No one is that stupid. I’m taking about butt sex here.”
“Butt sex. Anal intercourse. Fucking
It wasn't so much the words that did him in, but the fact that she said them. He clapped his hands over his ears. “La la la la la!”
She rolled her eyes, leaned over towards him, and forced his arms to his sides.
“Xander, can you even imagine making out with a guy?” He flushed again, and her eyes narrowed. “Xander."
He blinked rapidly and met her gaze, and she almost flinched at the pain residing there.
“Jesse?,” she whispered.
He swallowed heavily and nodded after several seconds. “We were kids, though. We wanted to be ready in case any hot girls, um, basically that was you, decided to kiss us, so we practiced on each other.”
She shrugged. “Girls do it, too.”
“They do?" Then the drooling commenced.
“See?,” she purred, ensnaring him in a knowing gaze. “You can’t be all
gay, Xander. Otherwise the idea of two girls making out wouldn’t cause your mouth to flood.”
He thought about that. “I guess that’s true." He nodded, and was then taken over by fond memories. "And I still have flashbacks of your amazing boobage. It’s like, the most incredible acid trip of all time." His eyes widened. "Not that I’ve done acid." He shook his head. "Who needs acid when your boobs are around?”
“But maybe I should be gay,” he frowned. “Maybe I’d have better luck with guys.”
“You’d have better luck with anyone if you could just be faithful!"
“You’re like a dog with a bone!"
“Did you just call me a dog?,” she howled. “And you sure weren’t complaining when it was your
bone I was slobbering on!”
A blissful smile appeared across his face. It disappeared when she slapped him.
And then they were kissing.* * * * *
She ignored him and stuck her tongue in his mouth before proceeding to grope him. Boy, did he feel good in her hands. He released a noise that was a combination squeal and moan, and she smiled inwardly in triumph.
Oh, wow. Why had she denied herself this? So he had kissed Willow. Big woo. She imagined that novelty would have worn off fairly soon, because no way was that little witch in her league. She wasn’t ready to get back together with him, but she sure liked the fringe benefits. Xander was so...why was he pulling away. He didn't have permission to pull away!
“Stop,” he whispered.
“Excuse me.” It wasn’t question or a statement. It was something altogether different, something quite terrifying.
“This isn’t helping, Cordy.”
“It’s helping me just fine! Now shut up, pucker up, and get back over here!”
He sighed. “Look, kissing you is better than anything. It’s better than ice cream and chocolate and comic books and dusting vamps, but this is our pattern: we get mad, we fight to make up, and then the fights just get worse." He ducked his head to hide the tears in his eyes. "And I hurt you. Really badly." He shook his head. "I still can’t believe I let myself hurt you that way, and you’re not over it anymore than I am.”
She gave him a measured look. “You’re right. You’re gay. No straight guy talks like that.”
“Thanks,” he muttered bitterly.
She punched his arm. “Grow up. I was just teasing. Xander, you responded when I kissed you, okay? I mean, hello, your ooh-hoo was in my hands, and I was more than prepared to give myself TMJ.”
She cupped his cheek. “Thinking guys are hot doesn’t make you any more gay than making out with me makes you straight.”
He blinked owlishly. "Wait, this was a test?"
She nodded. “And, as usual, you scored right in the middle. Congratulations, Xander. You’re bisexual.”
He groaned. “Why can’t I ever just make a decision?”* * * * *
Cordelia decided she needed to take charge of this situation. She was a natural leader, and Xander simply couldn’t be trusted to run his own life. He should have recognized this years ago and saved a lot of people a lot of grief.
“We need to get you a man,” she declared.
“A what?,” he shrieked.
“A man, a guy, a boy, a dude, another penis,” she stated with finality. “You’ll experiment with this person and their penis and discover if you like it. If you do, then you can figure out if you should date a boy or a girl.”
“That’s not going to solve anything!,” he exploded. “It will just make me more confused!”
She shook her head. “Not at all. Maybe you’ll like being with a guy more than you like being with a girl. Or vice versa. You’re spending too much time hemming and hawing over the situation, and no action is being taken." She glared at him. "Gee, Buffy much?”
He put his head in his hands. “Why did I come here?”
“Because you know I’m right. I’m the Slayer of Dating, remember? You’re spending the night.”
“Are you deficient? Never mind. Of course you are. Here
, doofus! Hang on.”
She walked over to her bedroom door and pressed the intercom button.
“Daddy?,” she cooed.
“Yes, dear?,” her father’s tinny voice replied.
“Xander’s going to spend the night. It’s too late for him to go home. Can you have Josephina prepare one of the guest rooms?”
“Of course. One that’s in the wing opposite yours. On another floor.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, Daddy.”
She depressed the button and turned back to her very best used-to-be. “Should you call your parents?”
He shook his head. “They’re probably asleep. I don’t want to wake them up, and I don’t know how they would feel about me spending the night at your house.”
She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, fine. But they don’t have any trouble when you sleep over at Buffy’s or Willow’s? Good to know!”
“It’s not like that! They know that nothing would ever happen between me and Buffy or me and Willow.”
She raised a brow, and he blushed.
“They don’t know about that, and I don’t want them to. They really like you and were very upset when we broke up. And as much as they love Willow, they’d blame her, and it wasn’t all her fault.”
Her eyes clouded and she sighed. “Whatever. You were both selfish assholes." Then she brightened. "Now, let’s get back to making you the best gay you can be!”
Her infectious attitude was obscene, and Xander tried to crawl inside of himself.
“A list,” she added, nodding. “We should make a list of all the attributes you want in a man.”
“You’re being far too accepting of this.”
She shrugged. “Not really. Before we began dating, I had always thought you were just a little bit gay.”
“What? You never told me that!”
She raised a brow. “Look, Xander, I don't ridicule people's sexuality, okay? Because that's lame and beneath me. And after we got together, when would I have worked in that tidbit? When I was going down on you?" She raised a brow. "Gee, Xan, ever check out another guy's package? Choke, choke."
He rubbed his temples. “Like your mouth isn’t big enough to accommodate." He felt somewhat better when a blush crept up her neck. "Why did you think I was gay?”
She stared at him. “Seriously? Your best friend was the mousy nerdy girl. You never played sports; you weren't even interested in them. You listened to weird music. Your only guy friend was Jesse, and he was just as strange as you.”
She realized how it sounded and she held up her hands in surrender. “No offense to Jesse,” she added hastily.
She sighed. “Look, Xan, you’ve always just had this thing about you, okay? You know girls. You know how we think, why we act the way we do, what we really mean when we say things. Buffy was wrong; you’re not one of the girls. You’re just the best friend we all want and usually never find.”
“I hate when you do that,” he whispered.
“Switch from Queen C to Cordy with no warning. It's like you have multiple personalities, but without any tells. It’s disconcerting.”
“You’ve been using the thesaurus again.”
“At least I finally figured out a thesaurus wasn’t a dinosaur.”
“How did I ever find you witty?”* * * * *
“Okay!,” Cordelia brightly began. “Let’s make that list.”
He groaned and fell across her bed. “I don’t know what to say,” he mumbled into her pillow.
“Well, start with what you find attractive in a man,” she prompted.
“This is really hard for me, okay?”
She frowned. “Then tell me what you like in a woman.”
He peeked up at her. He could do that. “Well,” he said slowly, “I like girls who are smart, funny, kind of mean, and well built.”
She smiled, pleased by the description. “You just made your own point.”
“Everything you said could apply to either a boy or a girl.”
He looked shocked. “Wow.”
“So, let’s dig a little deeper, okay?”
He nodded, though it was hesitant.
“What kind of smart do you like?”
His brow furrowed before he understood the question. “Oh. You mean like you-smart or Willow-smart?”
He looked around nervously. “You have to promise never to repeat this to anyone.”
She grinned, nodded, and leaned forward.
“Well,” he began, fidgeting, “it’s like this. Take you and Willow. If the two of you were dropped into the middle of the Amazon, you’d find your way home, but...”
“Poor little Willow would crawl into a hollow log and die?,” she finished.
He flung himself back into the pillows, but she could see him nod.
“I’m really proud of how smart she is,” he added defensively.
She had to strain to hear his muffled words.
“She’s great with the books and the tutoring and the arcane knowledge. But sometimes she gets too wrapped up in it and can’t see the forest for the trees. Books can teach you about life, but they can’t live it for you.”
“So what you really mean is that you want someone who has common sense,” she stated.
“Okay, this is good! Now, what kind of funny? Witty funny? Stupid funny? Potty humor funny? Lame funny?”
He frowned and looked at her with suspicion. “All of those are synonyms for Xander-funny."
She nodded. “They sure are. Bottom line, you want someone with a good sense of humor who can laugh at everything.”
“Oh, please continue, Dr. Cordy,” he drawled.
“Hm, Dr. Cordy,” she slowly repeated. “I like that." Her face lit up. "I could be a therapist! I could get paid for telling people what to do, and if they don’t listen, I could just medicate them!”
He shivered, but she didn’t notice because her thoughts were happily occupied by fantasies of the Doctor Cordy Show, merchandising rights, and world domination. She could be Oprah without the binge eating!
“Angel could certainly benefit from some Prozac,” she added. “Buffy, too, for that matter. And Willow has needed Ritalin for years
. Giles? Definitely some uppers.”
He snickered, but felt guilty about it.
“Get over it! If you can’t make fun of your friends, you’re doing something wrong.”
“Angel’s not my friend."
“Oh. Right. Well, if you can’t make fun of your inappropriate homosexual crush, you’re doing something wrong.”
He dove under her bed.* * * * *
“You’re being ridiculous!”
“You’re being mean!”
“What are you? Eight? Xander, I’m trying to turn you into a Fabulous Gay. A little appreciation for my efforts would be nice.”
“I can’t do this anymore. I shouldn’t have come here.”
“Why not?,” she demanded.
“Why did I ever expect you to be understanding?”
She shrugged and began filing her nails. “Beats me. You know me better than that, which is why you came here in the first place. If you wanted understanding and woo woo, you should have stayed with Buffy and Willow. They like nothing better than to fuss over their wittle Xander." She eyed him. "So grow up, grow a pair, and get it together!”
He sighed. “You’re right. You’re always right.”
She nodded. “That is the natural order of our universe. Well, when we’re not in Bizarro World.”
“Okay, what’s next?” He quietly admitted defeat and rolled out from under the bed. There were no defenses he could muster to counter the reality of a determined and perturbed Cordelia Chase.
She nodded as if his capitulation was expected which, he now understood, it had been.
“Okay, you said ‘kind of mean’. What does that mean?”
He looked at her and snorted.
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. So you want someone snarky.”
He nodded. “I’d like to lie and say that I want nothing more than a nice boy or girl who’s filled with sweetness and light, but that’s a joke. I’m as much of a bitch as you are, and I should just own that. And you’re always honest. I might not always like it, but I respect it." He took her hand in his. "I miss it.”
Her eyes misted slightly before she grinned. “Good answer,” she purred, “but what I really think you mean is that you want someone who won’t allow themselves to be stepped on or kowtow to anyone, including you.”
He was surprised at her insight and felt stupid for underestimating her.
“Also,” she continued, “you like someone who’s aggressive with you. Face it, Xander. You’re submissive.”
His eyes gleamed. “I think I’ve proven that’s not the case.”
He smirked at her blush.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said airily, “you’re the man...when you’re hidden in a utility closet! You like it when someone takes charge and tells you what to do. You like being ordered around.”
“Well,” he allowed, "that’s true. At least as far as you’re concerned.”
“And what about Buffy?,” she prompted, surprised when he colored darkly.
“I don’t like that at all.”
She considered him. He was pissed. Okay, she so
did not want to open that particular can of worms right now, but it might be amusing to bring it up later, say at the next Scooby meeting.
His eyes narrowed. “What are you plotting?"
“Nothing!,” she tinkled.
He sighed. “Whatever. I like when you boss me around, Cordy, but I don’t know if I’d like another guy
to do it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Men! Such fragile egos!”
He groaned and buried his head in her pillows once more.
“Which brings us to well-built,” she added after a moment. “Now, I know that I’m the perfect example of what that means for girls, and Buffy and Willow could do with some serious protein, but how do you like your men?”
“I can’t do this!”
“Oh, please. Do you like guys built like you? Like Angel? Like Oz?”
Once she presented the options, Xander couldn’t help but contemplate the question.
“You’re thinking about it,” she smiled.
He blushed, felt the heat in his face, and cursed himself, Cordelia, the entire world, and demons in general, just because they should be cursed on a regular basis.
“Oz is built nicely,” he admitted. “He’s slender but muscular. Still, he’s a little too short for me. I like being with girls because I like their curves and the way they fit under my arm and, uh, other stuff. But if I’m gonna be with a guy, I want to be with, well...”
“A big hunk of man?”
He bit his lip and nodded. “But Angel’s a little too
big. He’s so hulking. I don’t want to be intimidated either.”
“That makes sense." She nodded and patted his knee, discreetly moving her hand up his thigh. "You’re doing great! So, you want a guy who’s built like you, swimmer’s or gymnast build. In shape, but not a muscle-head.”
He said nothing, staring at the floor.
She scooted over to him and wrapped her arms around him.
“Hey,” she said softly. “You can talk to me about this stuff, Xan. I’m not going to judge you. I’m not going to make fun of you. There’s nothing amusing about your confusion or your fear. You can trust me with this.”
He buried his head in her neck. “I know. Even before we began dating and we did nothing but fight, I trusted you. You can be mean, but you’re not malicious. You have pretty high standards, for yourself and everyone else. I just wish, I wish I could have lived up to them. I wish I was the person you thought I could be, the one who deserved you.”
She swallowed heavily, refusing to admit that regardless of Willow, he was
that person. She just wasn't ready yet to forgive him completely. “I know you tried,” she whispered, “but that doesn’t make what you and Willow did hurt any less. Seeing you like that, with her, hurt a lot more than any re-bar.”
He sobbed. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I did that to you. I’m so sorry you got hurt. I’m sorry I hurt you, for every way I hurt you.”
“I know.” She held him for a few more moments, before pulling back and cupping his face in her hands. She kissed his forehead. “I think that’s enough for tonight. Come on, I’ll show you where you’ll be staying. You need to get a good night's sleep so that you're all ready for tomorrow.”
He blinked in confusion. “What’s tomorrow?”
He sobbed harder.