Your Not-So-Private Dancers

Author: Antigone Unbound
Rating: Eh...let's go with PG.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters but I think about them all the time and sometimes, in my mind, they do naughty things.
Summary: This is an epic tale of pain and redemption and the indomitable nature of the human spirit. Oh, wait--that's "War and Peace." This is just a fun little story wherein Willow and Tara provide a valuable service to some very memorable women.
Author's Notes: Thanks so much to the "Elemental" writers for inviting me to be a part of this project. Particular thanks go to Watty and Car for having both the vision and the organizational skills to bring this to the fruitiest of fruition. Chris, you're just ever-so-graphic! And finally--thank you to all the Kittens who read this and any story and leave feedback. You keep the board going!
Required Elements: Nine ladies dancing; no parking spaces; holiday/office parties.
Feedback: Please leave feedback on the Once More With Fruitcake thread on the Kitten Board.

"God, Tara, I love your pie," Willow moaned, savoring each incredible taste of the creamy succulence upon her eager, grateful tongue.

"You're sweet," Tara murmured. "Carleen down at the co-op likes it, too."

Business was thriving at Hot Buns catering. Willow and Tara had started the venture four years ago, fresh out of college and two years into their relationship. Willow was a business major and amateur cooking enthusiast; Tara, a graduate of the Southern California School of Culinary Arts.

They had actually met while Willow was moping over a break-up. Harmony, her girlfriend of just over a year, had been named a Rhodes Scholar and left to continue her political science studies at Oxford. "I just don't see us navigating this terribly well," Harmony said in her eternally pragmatic fashion. "Such a decision hardly seems tenable."

Willow had been lured into Francesco's by the almost wantonly come-hither waft of exquisite Italian food. For the first time in three weeks, she actually felt hungry. When she asked her server to relay her compliments to the chef, Tara emerged ten minutes later, flushed from the kitchen and gracious in her reply. They chatted easily, as Willow learned that Tara was working as an apprentice of sorts, earning college credits as well as income. Finally, the lovely blonde turned regretfully to go back to work.

I'd like to add another compliment to the chef, Willow thought, watching her walk away. Nice ass.

She went back to Francesco's the next night, and the night after that. Four nights and six pounds later, she finally summoned up the courage to ask Tara out on a date. "Oh thank God," Tara sighed in relief. "Employees aren't allowed to hit on the customers."

Willow quickly realized that Tara was her ideal mate: talented, generous, funny, and sexy as hell. Sure, Harmony had an incredible mind, but there was more to life than heated political discussions and lengthy analyses of Foucault's impact on gender construction.

They began their business with money that Willow won in a lawsuit when then-Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger tried to grope her after her valedictory speech from UC-Sunnydale. Years later, she still couldn't see clips of "Kindergarten Cop" without wanting to vomit. Indeed, who could?

Now, looking at Tara across the kitchen on a late Monday afternoon, Willow gave an impish grin. "Guess who asked us to cater their holiday party this Friday?"

Tara looked up from the tomatoes she'd been dicing. "The Travers Foundation?" Quentin Travers was a tireless advocate for tougher child safety laws, and a frequent customer.

"Pshaw," Willow sniffed dismissively as she gathered supplies for balsamic vinegar. "He's a given. No ma'am, prepare to be shocked: UC-More."

"The strip club?" Tara asked incredulously.

"I believe the correct term is 'adult entertainment lounge,'" Willow said in a prim tone. "I spoke to the owner this afternoon. A Mr. Richard Wilkins, by name."

"What'd you tell him?"

"Well, I said I needed to talk to you, of course, but I hinted that we were pretty busy and might have a hard time fitting it into our schedule. I mean, it's only five days from now."

Tara looked at her in confusion. "I don't get it. We've taken jobs with less notice. Why wouldn't we do it?"

"Because it's a strip club!"

"I know. It's where we met, remember?"

"Tara, don't even joke about that," Willow yelped. "What if somebody hears you?"

Tara looked around the empty kitchen, mystified. "Who's gonna hear us, Will? It's not like a bunch a people we don't know are just fascinated by our every move and can't get enough of us."

"I just think that if we agree to cater a party at a strip club--"

"Adult entertainment lounge."

"Fine. If we do a job for an adult entertainment lounge, we're saying we condone the exploitation of women."

"No," Tara countered, "we're saying we aren't a couple of elitists who prefer not to be reminded that for some women, this is their best option to make a living." Tara was all about class issues.

"Maybe..." Willow was unconvinced.

"Besides," Tara added, pressing her advantage, "if we do the catering, we can guarantee that they'll get a good meal and they won't get ogled by the caterers. You really think they'll get the same treatment from Harris's Meat & Greet?"

Willow thought about their competitor. Xander Harris was a lecherous, foul-mouthed miscreant if ever she'd known one. Anyone unfortunate enough to run into him on the streets of Sunnydale was forced to listen to him go on and on about his meat. "Everyone should have some," he bragged. "God knows I've got enough for the whole town." Willow and Tara had heard through the catering grapevine, though, that the people who sampled his meat often found that the serving was smaller than advertised, and rarely filled them up. Harris seemed oblivious to the information, however. The extent of his arrogance was exceeded only by its utter inexplicability.

The two catering services had a fierce and bitter rivalry. Hot Buns tended to attract people who had fairly discerning palates; who liked a bit of nuance and complexity to their dishes; who enjoyed trying new things. Harris drew the folks who voted for Bush.

The only thing that kept Willow and Tara from doing their utmost to totally bury their rival was his wife, Anya, a figure of almost legendary generosity who could never turn down an appeal for financial assistance. A former missionary, she insisted that 10% of her husband's profits go to charitable causes.

"My wife just gives it away," the notorious skinflint often railed. "To anybody!"

Willow finally relented. "I wanna do the right thing, Baby, and if that means giving scantily clad women hot muffin, so be it."

At Tara's bemused glance, she quickly amended, "Muffins. Plural. Of course."

Two hours and a phone call later, they were tooling through Sunnydale. Willow consulted her map. "Wilkins said it was just south of the crematorium, across from the funeral home, diagonal to the memorial grounds." She looked up with a thoughtful air. "People sure do die a lot around here."

"Don't they though?" Tara nodded, then glanced to her right. "Oh--here we are: 69 Watson Street."

"What's going on?" Willow asked, taking in the exterminator's truck that was double-parked in front of the club. Several workers raced in and out of the adjacent furniture store with various hoses and tanks.

"They've made a little space for the fleas crisis," Tara frowned, pulling around the truck and up to the next block.

Walking into UC-More, its doors spread wide open to anyone who wanted to enter, Willow and Tara were gripped with a sense of something alien and deeply unsettling.

"Testosterone," Willow muttered, looking at the twenty or so men scattered throughout the bar. They were clapping appreciatively at a very well-rounded, dark-skinned woman with truly impressive breasts. She moved in ways that crossed all known lines of decency and set up shop in Naughtyville.

The show continued for several minutes, during which time the two life-partners had remarkably little to say to each other. When the act was finally over, Willow turned to her mate, wondering absently who had sucked all the air out of the room and whether her face was as flushed as Tara's.

"If I give you all the money I have, will you do that for me some day?" Willow squeaked.

Tara gazed back at her, eyes not quite focused. "Only if she gives me lessons."

This tender moment was interrupted by an ingratiating voice that with two martinis would probably turn unctuous. "Ladies! And lovely ones at that!" The delight in his tone suggested that looking upon them was quite possibly the supreme moment of his life. "Richard J. Wilkins, proud proprietor of UC-More!" His suit was Brooks Brothers; his shoes, Prada; his smile, blinding.

"Mr. Wilkins," Tara began, "it's nice to--"

"Oh, I don't stand on ceremony," he interrupted them, casting an automatic look in the mirrored wall and running a manicured hand over perfectly coiffed hair. "Call me Richard." He leaned forward with a conspiratorial twinkle and added, "No Dick, though."

"Not a problem," they answered as one.

"Thank you for coming over. Why don't you join me in the back?" Charting a course between a drunk man slouched over his beer and a sober one slouched over his erection, Wilkins led them to a spacious room appointed in deep leather chairs and sofas. Brass fittings gleamed in the half-light. Several women--nine, to be exact--lounged about in various stages of undress. It was the most wonderful display of nubile athleticism they'd seen since catering that end-of-the-season party for Sacramento's WNBA team.

Wilkins smiled so brightly that the mirrors sparkled. "Girls, this is Willow and Tara, of Hot Buns fame."

"Um, catering," Tara added as several of the dancers craned their necks to assess the validity of Wilkins' pronouncement.

"Allow me to introduce these fine women," the owner continued, his voice as smooth as Kentucky bonded bourbon which, Willow realized, she could really go for right now. "Kendra is the young woman you admired upon your arrival."

"Hi," Willow said, giving her a frank but friendly stare. "Say, we don't get many Black people in Sunnydale."

Kendra frowned. "It's true. They have strict zoning ordinances for minorities." Her rich voice suggested pina coladas and warm sand.

"Tell me about it," Willow replied, grimacing. "We filed our paperwork early and we still almost lost the last gay spot to this other couple, Cam and Ang, who got to the courthouse just as we did. If Tara hadn't laid a killer hip-check on Cam, we'd be living in Chico right now."

Tara smiled affectionately at her mate. She still pulled out her high-school field hockey uniform for special occasions. Willow loved it so.

"And this is Faith," Wilkins went on, indicating a dark-haired woman with sensuous lips, and breasts that were perhaps as remarkable as Kendra's. Her heavy-lidded eyes practically purred, "Wanna play?"

"We'd love to," Willow blurted.


Practically, Rosenberg.

"We'd love to make your acquaintance," Tara interjected smoothly, fixing Willow with a wry grin.

"Likewise I'm sure," came the amused reply.

"And this is Buffy." A very nicely built young woman who had healthy curves and a natural glow gave a friendly nod.

"What a cute name," Tara smiled. For a freakin' beagle.

"Oh, that's just my stage name. My real name is Agnes."

God help your tortured soul.

A tall brunette stepped forward. "I'm Cordelia," she informed them, her voice tinged with boredom.

"Oh--like in King Lear?" Tara asked, interest piqued.

"That's the one. My parents were Shakespearean scholars in the UC system until funding cuts forced them to build a meth lab in their basement."

"And I'm Amy!" A perky young woman practically bounced over to seize their hands. "It's so great to meet you! My mom was an exotic dancer, the best one ever! I just hope I can live up to her image!"

Oh God...A dancer with mommy issues. But Tara just smiled graciously.

"I'm Glory," a voluptuous woman said haughtily, with a shake of her platinum tresses. "And I am a god."

Yeah, yeah... Willow gave a mental roll of her eyes. You and every other bottle-blonde on the West Coast.

Suddenly, a figure of surpassing petulance flounced out to greet them. "I'm Dawn. I should be studying ballet at Juilliard but they kicked me out."

"Kicked you out?" Willow echoed, taken aback. "Whatever for?"

"Excessive whining." She crossed her arms over her chest, lower lip protruding half-way to Baja. "They just looked at me and screamed, 'Get out get out GET OUT!'"

"I can't believe they did that," Tara said, frowning. I'd have thrown you under a snowblower.

Willow turned to see a sullen young woman with a truly unfortunate hair-cut skulking up to her. "I'm Veruca," she muttered, her voice inexplicably challenging, before sidling up to Tara and sniffing her.

"Um, I'd appreciate it if you didn't do that," Tara requested politely.

"I can smell your--"

"Say it and die."

"Fair enough," Veruca allowed, and slunk back to her seat.

One last woman emerged from the shadows, dark hair cut in layers that accentuated her stunning bone structure and deep-set eyes. She carried herself with an almost predatory air, a leopard of supreme assurance, devouring anyone she desired while her victim savored having been chosen for the honor. She looked them over, head to toe, in one long, appraising gaze. They both gave an involuntary shiver. Finally, in a voice that redefined sultry, she said, "And I am Miss Calendar."

Oh yes ma'm, you certainly are, Tara gulped. Monday through Saturday and twice on Sunday.

They stood there dumbly until Wilkins said, "So--what do you have for us?"

Willow forced herself to concentrate. "Right. OK. Well, we thought it would be good to learn your preferences and ascertain the manner in which we can best meet your needs." She found herself inexplicably preoccupied with her grammar and syntax in front of the imposing Miss Calendar.

Tara flashed the group a bright smile. "So--what do you like to eat?"





"Sometimes fish, sometimes meat."

"Foie gras."


"I'd like to eat you."

"What?!" Willow spun around, aghast.

"I said I'd like a meat stew," Veruca mumbled, her eyes never leaving Tara.

"How can I know if your offerings would please me?" Miss Calendar demanded archly, fixing them with an enigmatic gaze. "You would need to prove yourselves."

"Hey now, these girls have catered some of the biggest events in Sunnydale," Wilkins admonished her, wagging his finger from a safe distance. "The police department's 'Willful Ignorance' gala, the kick-off to the fire department's 'See No Evil Campaign,' the opening of the hospital's Sudden Inexplicable Throat Rupture Center..."

"Certainly an august collection," Miss Calendar murmured.

"So why don't we take your ideas, head back to our kitchen, and come back on Wednesday with a possible menu and some samples?" Tara asked. This suggestion was met with universal agreement.

"I look forward to your submissions," Miss Calendar said with a faint smile, and Willow wondered how someone's eyes could be ice-cold and blazing at the same time.

A few minutes later they were heading back to their business on Skippet Street. "I'm glad you talked me into this," Willow said, just a bit too brightly. "I mean, I think it's the right thing to do. I feel better about myself and at this time of year it's so important to--"

"Want me to pull out the field hockey uniform?"

"Oh yes please."

Early Wednesday evening, they headed back to UC-More loaded with various sample dishes that someone with more knowledge of cooking could describe in greater detail. What matters is that it was all delicious because Willow and Tara were very, very good at what they did.

Nearing the shop, Willow noticed a cheese vender setting up a sidewalk cart. She had taken up two parking spaces just to place advertisements for her huge discounts.

"They've made a little space for the brie's prices," Tara frowned, pulling around the display and up to the next block.

Up on the stage at UC-More, Faith was interacting with a pole in ways that early metallurgists could never have envisioned. If Kendra's act had bordered on obscene, Faith's crossed that border and applied for citizenship. She was wearing a shiny crimson number, the total square footage of which might have covered an aspirin bottle--two, perhaps, since it was spandex.

"She's an...athletic girl, isn't she?" Willow asked, her voice flipping completely off the track of normal tonality.

Some of the patrons were momentarily distracted by the wonderful aromas that occasioned their arrival, but visual cues soon reasserted dominance over olfactory ones, and Faith was again the center of attention.

Wilkins greeted them with the expansiveness that was quickly becoming his trademark. "My goodness, you're both so lovely I could just skip your dishes and eat you!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands in delight.

And you, sir, are a very well-groomed freak show. Aloud, Tara observed, "Oh, but cannibalism is so 1800's Donner Pass. Let's just go with the things we brought, shall we?"

They wended their way back to the same room, where they were again greeted by flesh of almost mythic perfection. "I'm glad we're on this job," Willow declared once more with a pious air. "Harris would be saying the most disgusting things."

"That's right," Tara nodded. "We're just thinking them."

As they set out their various offerings, several of the dancers wandered over. "Smells great!" Amy enthused. "My mom didn't spend much time in the kitchen, you know. She was too busy perfecting her routine. I mean, sure, I wish she would've been around more, but when you're a first-rate performer there are sacrifices to be made."

Cordelia gave a snort of infinite exasperation. "If you talk about your mom one more time, Madison, I swear I'm going to dig her up and kill her all over again. She was a crappy mother, and you know it. Always coming around here talking everybody down--you most of all. We all hated her, especially Veruca."

Willow and Tara were horrified, but Amy seemed to take it in remarkable stride. "You're just jealous because the only thing on your mom's to-do list for the next eight years is 'Be cell-mate's bitch.'"

"Amy, what...what happened to your mother?" Willow asked even as she realized that she probably didn't really want to know.

"They think she was attacked by wild dogs," the dancer replied matter-of-factly.

Veruca darted forward and grabbed a slice of rare roast beef with her bare fingers.

"For the love of Emily Post, you freak, use cutlery!" Glory said, rolling her eyes. "Were you raised by wolves?"

"Leave her alone," Amy snapped, reaching out to scratch Veruca behind the ears.

Spooning generous samples of risotto, cous-cous, and hummus into serving bowls, Willow leaned in close to her mate. "Is it my imagination, or has Buffy lost weight since Monday?" The blonde, who'd looked so healthy two days before, seemed remarkably thinner.

"Nah, I noticed it too," Tara frowned. "Wonder what's going on..."

A burst of raw sexuality slammed into the room. Faith had finished her act and was ready to sample their wares. She slapped two coconut shrimp and a crab leg onto a small plate, then plopped into a chair, one leg dangling over the side. Various inarticulate noises in the gratification family told them that she was enjoying their efforts.

"You girls got a way with seafood," she said admiringly, cracking open the crab shell and sucking the tender flesh into her avid mouth.

"We practice a lot," Willow acknowledged proudly. "So many variations, you know?"

Tara, meanwhile, was watching Miss Calendar take slow, deliberate bites of her salmon nicoise. Is it worthy of her attention? How can I know if it pleases her? Why does my interior monologue sound like something out of a pornographic novel?

Suddenly the door flew open to reveal a glowering Xander Harris. Outrage poured off of him like cheap olive oil on overcooked pasta--or so Tara thought, appraising him with a seasoned eye.

Harris took a threatening step toward the proprietor. "What's the idea of these lezbos doing the holiday gig? I've always given your girls what they need."

Wilkins shook his head as if it pained him to do so. "With all due respect, Mr. Harris, the fine ladies in my employ have requested something a little more refined this year. I've learned to be responsive to what the women in my life tell me they want." He paused to pull a small manicure set out of his inside breast pocket and began to work on his cuticles. "You might do well to follow my example."

The furious caterer turned to the nine dancers. "You know these two are homos, right? You sure you want them to actually see you working?"

An icy voice cracked across the room. "In the first place, Mr. Harris, I find both your words and your tone insulting. In the second, you split your infinitive. While the rules of grammar have relaxed somewhat, it's still best to avoid such practice if possible." Miss Calendar stepped forward, one perfect eyebrow arched.

Harris was taken aback, spluttering for a reply that, much like his wife, simply wouldn't come. Finally he cast Willow and Tara a venomous look. "This isn't over," he spat, fury dripping from his voice like gravy off a standing rump roast--or so Tara thought, appraising him with a seasoned ear. The culinarily cuckolded misogynist turned and stormed out of the room. Behind them, Tara heard a small growl that seemed to emanate from somewhere deep in Veruca's throat.

"Pay him no mind," Wilkins reassured them, snapping shut his manicure case. "Word has it his lovely wife just wrote an enormous check to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. He's a little touchy on the issue of Sapphic splendor these days."

Neither Willow nor Tara were easily frightened--witness their sitting through the entire showing of "Gigli"--but Harris's words unsettled them.

Dawn, meanwhile, left Unsettled in the dust and took the express route to Greater Agitation. "Did you see the way he turned his back on me?" she cried. "Nobody even notices me!"

"He turned his back on all of us, you whiny little snot-nosed brat," Buffy replied in exasperation. "He sort of had to, to leave the room."

"You're so mean!" the pasty-faced teenager wailed. "If you had a younger sister, I bet she'd be miserable!" She shifted into flounce and stormed off.

"If I had a younger sister like you, I'd hire me some minions to toss her off the nearest tall building," the blonde retorted, digging into her eggplant relish with, well, relish.

"Do not let the angry white boy upset you," Kendra said, helping herself to a portion of lemon pepper fish. "He had hopes of establishing a non-professional relationship with several of us, it seemed."

"And no one was interested?" Willow asked, setting out more seltzer water.

Cordelia looked up from her burgundy beef tips and gave a sardonic laugh. "First of all, he's married. Second of all--ugh. I mean, even those of us who shop in his section of the grocery aren't interested. You'd have to be, like, stuck in a basement in a life-or-death situation just to consider it."


Tara wheeled about to see Faith smack the dancer sharply on the nose with a rolled-up section of the Sunnydale Prevaricator. Veruca, who had edged unnervingly close to Tara, gave a pained yelp and slunk away.

"If you're not careful, she'll try to hump your leg," Faith explained. At Tara's incredulous expression, she shrugged. "Hey, she's a loonball, but you should see her get after that pole."

Without warning, Miss Calendar appeared before them. She fixed them both with a steady, searing gaze. "Your offerings meet with my approval. You may feed me."

Tara swallowed heavily. "Thank you, Miss Calendar," she murmured, unable to look the older woman in the eye.

"I particularly enjoyed the salmon. Prepare it as you did today."

"Yes, Miss Calendar."

And then the haughty figure disappeared back into the shadows.

A short while later, they had arrived at a final menu for the party: spinach and artichoke dip; spring rolls; coconut shrimp; salmon nicoise; sirloin tips; portabello mushrooms with goat cheese; and Caesar salad.

"Make the dessert a surprise!" Wilkins requested, glee splashing over every syllable. "I love surprises!"

Back at Hot Buns, Willow couldn't shake the unpleasantness of the encounter with their rival. "Are you worried he'll do something?" Tara asked as they cleaned up the kitchen.

Willow frowned. "I don't know that I'd say worried. I'd put it in the 'Mildly Disconcerted' family."

"But clients have switched to us before," Tara reminded her. "Why get so tweaked about it this time?"

"Maybe he's more interested in this gig than most ones," Willow shrugged. "You heard Kendra. Maybe the idea of two lesbians servicing nine incredibly hot women kills him and yes, I know I just said 'servicing' instead of 'serving.' Let's try to stay on task here, shall we?"

"Certainly," Tara consented, with an accommodating smile. "But speaking of Harris--was it just me, or did he look heavier today?"

Willow looked up, startled. "You noticed it too? I thought I was imagining it. I mean, we just saw him on Saturday at the SoCal Fettucini Festival." She shook her head, frowning. "Weird."

The rest of the day passed without incident, unless you count the "Mistress of the house/Serving wench" fantasy which was an incident possessed of both energy and creativity.

They began their day on Thursday as they did every morning: sipping coffee and poring over the newspaper. Suddenly, Willow sat bolt upright in her chair, eyes wide. "Did you see this headline?" she asked, stunned.

"'Dewey Defeats Truman'?" Tara yawned. "Yeah. Why do we even subscribe to this rag?"

"No--this headline!" Willow folded the paper sharply and slapped it on the table in front of her partner with a flourish.

Now it was Tara's turn to gape: Local Caterer Attacked by Wild Dogs, the paper blared. "Only My Virility Saved Me!" ran the smaller headline beneath that one.

"Mother of miso soup," Tara muttered. "What the..."

The story told of an attack by feral dogs that left Harris with several lacerations along his arms, legs, and face. According to the ER physicians who treated him, the injuries were serious but not life-threatening. Harris told reporters that 'about a dozen raving, frothing dogs' set upon him as he walked to his van in the early evening, the story continued. "It's just a good thing I'm so strong, or I'd have been torn to shreds," the caterer said, adding that his meat was unharmed.

Tara looked up and gave a low whistle. "Wow...I mean, I don't like the guy, but that's harsh." A bizarre thought suddenly occurred to her. "Didn't Amy say that her mother was killed by wild dogs?"

Willow was shocked for the second time that morning which, let's face it, is a rough way to start your day. "You think there's a connection?"

"Willow, this is an upscale town where the locals' idea of wildlife is an unregistered Corgi. Do you really think there are packs of wild dogs just running around in the Land of Relentless Suburban Pretension?" She pushed the paper away from her, troubled.


"Where?" Tara yelped, instinctively tucking her legs beneath her on the chair.

"No--what if Veruca's behind the attacks?" Willow asked excitedly. "Cordelia said she hated Amy's mom, and I heard her growl at Xander yesterday."

"Veruca's hardly a pack," Tara argued.

"Well, Amy just said that they thought it was a pack. And you know Harris--do you really think he's gonna admit that one petite dancer took him down?" Willow had clearly sunk her teeth into the issue and yes, the author knows that's just an awful pun. "OK, think about this," she said, eyes gleaming. "Let's say Veruca feels protective of certain women. Like, maybe they're her pack. Anybody who threatens any of them meets a grisly end, torn to pieces by a ferocious woman-beast who rips their--"

"OK, first of all, you're getting just a tad too excited about this and secondly, Harris's grisly end was of the non-ended variety." Tara glanced down at the paper. "He was scheduled to be discharged later today, in fact."

"Fine," Willow pouted. "Not everybody dies. But you gotta admit, it's a decent theory."

Tara mulled this over. Truth to tell, Veruca's behavior had been pretty wigsome. Finally, she said, "Well, even if it is her, there's not much we can do about it."

"Maybe not," Willow replied slowly. "But it does give me an idea." And she would say no more on the subject.

Willow and Tara approached their upcoming gig with a mixture of anxiety and curiosity.

"If it is her, d'ya think she actually eats her victims?" Tara mused. "Like, is she a cannibal? Because I know our card says, 'We accommodate unique dietary requests,' but I just don't see us pulling that one off."

"Mmm..." was all Willow would say, which really wasn't saying anything at all.

At 5:30 on Friday, they left for the party. As they neared the establishment, they saw workers unloading several containers of sea salt from a truck that was double-parked in the two spaces closest to the club.

"They've made a little space for the sea's spices," Tara frowned, pulling around the display and up to the next block.

Wilkins had told them that UC-More would be closing at 6 that day for the party. He cheerfully reassured them that all of the dancers would be paid for the time off. Cordelia, it appeared, was the club's equivalent of a parting gift and from what they saw, she was giving the regulars something to get them through the next 24 hours. She danced with a combination of sensuality and unapproachability. In your dreams, her routine seemed to say. But I promise they'll be good dreams. She accepted their monetary testimonials to her skill, gave one last bow, and then disappeared behind the heavy sateen curtain.

"Moves pretty well for someone with a stick up her ass," Willow commented.

Wilkins appeared on the stage as if from nowhere. "As always, a delight to see you all," he exclaimed, beaming as if he were addressing a convention of dentists instead of a bunch of grown men who paid good money to watch women take their clothes off. "We're closing early tonight, but please--join us again tomorrow for a delightful evening with friends."

"And Sister Sally will read some of her favorite Scripture," Tara muttered. "Honestly, you'd think he was inviting them to a barn-raising." She shook her head, then turned to Willow. "Let's get to it."

It took eight trips to their van, but finally the back room of the club was set up with tables of steaming, savory dishes as well a variety of soft drinks, coffees, and seltzer waters. Dessert was stashed beneath a far table, hidden by the draped cloth. Per Wilkins' request, none of the party attendees, including him, had any idea what it was.

In addition to Cordelia, they saw that Glory, Buffy, and Faith were already at the club.

"My God," Willow whispered tersely, "I can't believe it."

"I know," Tara muttered. "I know." Buffy was even thinner than she had been two days ago. In the space of 5 days, her body had gone from attractively curvy to slender to gaunt. Her clavicles, newly prominent two days ago, could now serve as walking relish trays if necessary.

By six o'clock, the rest of the dancers had arrived. They all seemed to be in good spirits, with the exception of Dawn.

"This will be the first time in eight years I haven't been in a production of 'The Nutcracker Suite,'" she said dolefully.

"Sweetie, you crack some nuts every time you go out there," Faith reassured her. Surprisingly, Dawn didn't find this perspective uplifting.

Wilkins tapped a knife against his glass. "If I might have your attention..." He glanced around the room, his gaze at once beneficent and boastful. "This last year has been a very, very successful one for UC-More. So much so, in fact..." (and here he paused for dramatic effect) "that I've decided to give you all raises, effective immediately!"

This had the desired effect, as various whoops, hoots, and demure acknowledgement ensued.

"So now," the odd yet strangely appealing man continued, "without further delay--let the fine dining begin!"

The dancers, with the notable exception of Miss Calendar, jostled up to the food line. She merely sat down and crossed one ankle demurely over the other. "I'm disinclined to jostle," she explained. "When the madding crowd dissipates, I shall sample your remarkable dishes."

Tara hadn't felt such a rush of pride since she gave Willow her first multiple orgasm. Moving to the older woman's side, she asked shyly, "Would you like me to fix you a plate, Miss Calendar?" She was rewarded with a smile and a soft hand upon her wrist. "Aren't you lovely...I'm fine for now--but perhaps later you can offer me something."

"Yes Miss Calendar," Tara replied, heart pounding. She turned to find Willow grinning at her, a sly look in her eyes.

"Teacher's pet," she whispered, running a hand down Tara's side and along her hip.

"If the teacher wants to pet me, who am I to argue?" Tara countered with her own wicked grin. She and Willow would never bring a third person into their relationship, and they certainly wouldn't cheat. But there would be some fun play-acting later on...

It was immediately apparent that the food was a huge success. "Girls, I'm not one for idle praise," Glory said, dropping a shrimp into her mouth, "but this is utter ambrosia."

"So glad you like it," Tara beamed, basking as she always did in a job well done. Just imagine if Harris had been in charge of this gig...

As if on cue, the door burst open and a wild-eyed Xander Harris stood before them festooned in bandages. Strange as it seemed, he appeared to have put on considerable weight in the last two days.

Wilkins rose casually and moved to intercept him. "Now, now, Mr. Harris," the owner almost purred. "We don't want any trouble here. I know you certainly don't." Willow heard the low growl that rose once more from Veruca's throat, followed by a whispered "Heel!" that seemed to come from Amy's side of the room.

"I'm not here to cause trouble," Harris said quickly, looking around as if searching for one particular face. When he found it, a horrible cry escaped his lips.

"It's happening!" he shouted hoarsely. "Do you see it? Do you see it now, Agnes?"


Willow and Tara wheeled as one to see a red-faced Buffy glaring at the caterer in front of her. "We agreed we would never tell anyone!" she hissed

Harris gave a strangled laugh and turned to face the rest of the room. "That's right. I know Agnes...I've known her for over twenty years." Pausing for dramatic effect, as characters in this story seem wont to do, he added, "We're twins."

OK. Never saw that one coming.

"Twins, linked by more than birth. A horrible curse was laid upon us by a jealous aunt who resented our mother's good posture. Her curse: the two of us must share a total maximum pound allowance. Every time she loses weight, I gain it. You can see the effects for yourself."

A rather stunned silence greeted this announcement. Finally, Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. "It's true. As curses go, it's sort of a weird one." She gave her twin an apologetic shrug. "Sorry, but it should reverse itself soon. I just saw this fantastic little dress in Justin's Boutique and decided to drop a couple." At the sea of arched eyebrows that waved up around her, she added, "OK, I got a little carried away." Turning back to her brother, she cajoled, "Listen, it's been--what--five days? I'd say it'll be at its worst tomorrow, and then start to stabilize on the seventh."

Harris glared first at her and then at the straining buttons on his own shirt. "Damn good thing I don't have to fit into a cummerbund any time soon," he muttered. "Just knock it off, OK? I've gone up two pants sizes in the last week and this is getting expensive."

Buffy waved a coconut shrimp in his face. "See this, bro? I'm munching down on their seafood for all it's worth, and I plan to be in there a while. So lighten up."

"Fine," Harris muttered, only slightly mollified. "Sorry to bust up the party," he added grudgingly. He walked to the door, then looked back over his shoulder at his sister. "You coming to Christmas Dinner?"

"Can I bring a friend?" she asked sweetly, taking Faith's hand and pressing a kiss to her fingers.

Harris's disapproving frown made Dick Cheney's habitual snarl look like a toddler opening birthday presents. Finally, he gave an exasperated sigh. "Of course. You know how Anya always looks forward to your visits." And then he was gone.

The tension in the room was dispelled with his exit. Everyone enjoyed the food immensely; it was clear there would be virtually nothing left over. At one point, Tara saw Willow take a seat next to Veruca and chat companionably for several minutes. Now what is that about? she wondered, but she was too busy replenishing the salad to go over and find out. She turned to find herself staring into the fathomless brown eyes of Miss Calendar. "You have done well," she murmured, and her voice was like soft satin draped over Tara's flushed cheeks. "I will send for you again."

Finally it was time for dessert. "Everybody take a little break," Willow said, shooing them out of the room. "We'll call you when it's all set up."

Fifteen minutes later, they threw open the door. Nine dancing ladies (and their boss) walked into the room to see a chocolate fountain, its base illuminated with soft golden lights, flowing with dark Ghirardelli. Several nearby silver trays were laden with deep red strawberries, slices of ripe kiwi, banana sections, and marshmallows.

"Ladies--the piece de resistance," Tara announced. And even Dawn had to admire it.

"I will never, ever leave this room," Amy murmured. Beside her, Veruca gave a happy sigh and flopped onto the floor.

Within seconds, the entire room was awash with the sweet smell of cocoa-based decadence. "Oh, you just have to try this," Faith murmured to Buffy, dipping a plump strawberry into the fountain and brushing it against the blonde's full lower lip. Buffy's eyes glittered as she slid her tongue over and around Faith's offering, finally sucking it into her mouth. Faith discarded the stem and then leaned forward to kiss the remnants of chocolate from her lips.

A few feet away, Glory pushed Cordelia down into a chair and then straddled her, breasts level with the brunette's eyes. The blonde reached back and grabbed a banana slice, swirling it into the dark chocolate. "I know how you like it," she murmured, meeting Cordelia's amused eyes with her own. Her left hand snaked around to slide into the dark hair, while the right held the sweet fruit just beyond the reach of her lips. "Want it?" she whispered.

"You know I do," came the husky reply, and Glory eased the firm flesh into Cordelia's open, willing mouth. Cordelia sucked it gently until she had taken all of it, down to Glory's slender fingers, and then those, too, were caught up by the pouting lips. Swallowing deeply, she took two fingers onto her tongue and sucked them clean.

Willow and Tara managed to look away from this to see Wilkins, carrying a plate of fruit and a small cup of chocolate, heading toward the door. Willow caught him just as he reached out for the handle.

"Is everything OK?" she asked anxiously.

"Oh, it's wonderful--simply wonderful," he beamed. "Best party ever! I just know when my services aren't required." He gave them a blinding smile, then left the room.

"Wonder how it works on nipples," they heard Buffy ask Faith.

"Really well," Willow said encouragingly. "Just be sure to wash thoroughly later on, or you may get a rash."

"Thanks for the tip," Faith said, dipping a small cup into the fountain and pulling Buffy back into the darkness.

I wonder if Miss Calendar is enjoying this, Tara thought hopefully. She soon got her answer as the elegant woman dipped a kiwi slice into the fountain and brought it to her mouth. She caught Tara's eye, and with the barest of smiles, she took one, and then another lick of the chocolate, her tongue sliding deliberately past her lips and grazing the soft, juicy flesh. "So good," she murmured, almost inaudibly, and then sucked the sweet fruit into her mouth.

Tara heard Willow come up beside her. "Nice view," she said, feeling her own breath catch in her throat.

Tara looked at her, head swimming. "In my mind, you have three fingers buried all the way inside me," she managed.

Willow glanced around quickly. "I think our clients are taking good care of themselves," she observed. "How about we go take care of you?"

When they emerged from the coat room twenty minutes later, chocolate dripping from their mouths and several critical regions of their bodies, they took in the scene before them.

Dawn, for once, seemed completely happy, chatting with Amy and Veruca. The former was in the outermost realms of ecstasy in ways that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the pure joy of cocoa consumption. Veruca lounged happily beside her, head in Amy's lap.

Kendra and Glory were pressed up against Cordelia, moving sinuously to the dusky strains of Billie Holliday. Kendra stood behind her, palms flat against the taut belly while Cordelia reached back to pull her close. Glory fed both of them chocolate from her fingers.

Faith and Buffy were nowhere to be seen, which is not to say that they were nowhere to be heard. Low moans echoed from the far corner of the room.

Miss Calendar was now watching it all from a serene perch, fingers brushing lightly over her own nipples. She turned and favored them with a slow, elegant smile, letting one hand linger over a full, pouting breast before squeezing the swollen nipple. Her back arched slightly as she drew in a quick, labored breath.

"Back to the coat room," Tara squeaked.

The party finally wrapped up three hours later, concluding with an impromptu lap dance for each of them from Faith and Buffy.

"Any gig from here on out, you guys got my vote," Cordelia said with something akin to graciousness, lifting the hem of her dress to brush an errant chocolate shaving off of her thigh.

"Ladies, it was a tiny slice of heaven," Glory yawned, arm draped loosely around Kendra's waist.

They hugged each of them goodbye, even Dawn. As Tara embraced Amy, she saw Willow slip a doggy bag of sirloin tips to Veruca, winking as she did so.

Faith and Buffy were the last to leave. Chocolate was visible beneath what little attire they were wearing. "Don't forget to wash," Willow reminded them. "The attending physicians have a field day with that little visit, trust me."

It was another two hours before they had returned the room to its original condition and loaded up their van.

"Now--aren't you glad we took this gig?" Tara said through her haze of work- and sex-induced exhaustion.

"I certainly am, ma'am," Willow replied. "It was a learning experience in the best sense of the phrase." She returned to humming "Werewolves of London" under her breath.

"Say--what were you talking to Veruca about?" Tara asked suspiciously as she slammed shut the back door of the van.

"What? Oh, you know...Just current events," Willow answered, sliding into the passenger seat.

"What kind of current events?" Tara pressed.

"Politics--you know, how Bush has been such an irretrievable asshat, especially for minorities and poor people," Willow replied around her yawn. "And how upset he makes you."

Tara gave a shudder of pure loathing. "That he most certainly does." She paused, then turned to her mate. "Say--isn't he coming to San Diego next week?"

Willow gazed back at her, eyes wide and innocent. "Is he? I guess he is." And then she reached out to her mate's hand. "Merry Christmas, sweetheart."

Author's Notes:

1) The preceding is not meant to imply that the author would like to see the President of the United States torn apart by a wild beast.
2) The preceding is meant to state quite clearly that the author would like to see the President of the United States torn apart by a wild beast.
3) When using chocolate in sexual encounters, test the chocolate first on a hidden part of the skin to ensure that the user does not have an allergic reaction.



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