Pairing: Xander/Angel
Rating: R
Summary: Angel knows he doesn’t have a chance with expendable!Xander who has been left behind in LA. After all, it’s Xander Harris, right?
Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss and Co.
Written for silkensky for the Xander round of maleslashminis



The Treachery of Images


by
Kimalis


The week that the Scoobies went to LA, couldn’t have been any further from Xander’s expectations that it actually was. Giles tempted them by calling it a mini-vacation. Xander scoffed. For him it was out of the frying pan and into the skillet. He was merely exchanging one basement for another, one demon’s playground for another. But, there was work to be done, and he would grin and bear it. And have a damn fine time baiting Broody Brows.

Angel had called them when an alliance between a group of vampires, and a breakaway band of normally peaceful Porosji demons, had been discovered. It was still in the early stages, but they had ridiculously grand plans for taking over LA, and branching out to the Hellmouth. The Scoobies and Angel spent the week infiltrating the group, staking out their poorly planned meetings and, by the fifth day, had learned the location of each cell, and were able to destroy the entire alliance.

After spending the week camped on the living room floor of Angel’s basement apartment, they had all packed and climbed in to Giles’s car. And not before time, Xander had thought. Another day there, and he might really have started to believe in the awkward and inappropriate dreams he’d been having about Angel. Time to get back to normal life, where everyday Joe six-pack, Xander Harris, did not have lusty dreams about a vampire who hated him, and more importantly, who he didn’t like in any way, shape or form. Nope, not at all, no matter what some parts of his anatomy may think.

Xander knew it was only dreams; people couldn’t control dreams could they? So as soon as he was away and back home, they would stop, and he would be normal Xander again. Not that he had an issue with the orientation of his dreams. He was the most disoriented person he knew. But it was Angel. He just wanted to get home and be the Xander who enjoyed making fun of the non-living status of the vampire he loved to dislike. Hate was such a strong word, especially in light of that one dream where-. No, don’t encourage them. Home soon, Brain back to its regularly scheduled, non-vampire related dreaming program.

So, with Xander telling himself he felt enormous relief- not disappointment, in no way could that aching feeling in his gut be disappointment- they’d said their goodbyes, and headed off.. The car made it all of two hundred feet towards home, before loud clanking noises and billowing smoke from under the hood cut their trip short.

Everyone was absolutely too busy to stay behind, and wait for the very expensive, and difficult to obtain parts for Giles car. Buffy and Willow had to get back to college, and Giles was in the middle of some important research that simply couldn’t wait any longer, without spelling all kinds of doom.

That left expendable Xander, single Xander, unemployed Xander, fifth wheel Xander, standing on the sidewalk with Angel, bag at his feet, watching his friends drive off home in a rental, while he had another week on Angel’s couch to look forward to.

Xander glanced at Angel warily. “Hi roomie.” As Xander bent down to pick up his bag, his shoulder brushed Angel’s arm and the vampire let out a gasp, jerked away and was gone in a swirl of coat. Great. Witness how happy he is to see me staying.


~**~


Angel had been looking forward to them all leaving. He would never understand why Giles wouldn’t just spring for a room. It was more disruptive than he liked, sharing his bathroom with so many people, human people. Then there were the cushions, blankets, duffle bags and endless pairs of shoes he was constantly tripping over.

He wanted rid of that and he wanted Xander gone. Xander Harris, bane of his existence in some way or other. Xander Harris who couldn’t stand him, who constantly baited him, insulted him and taunted him. Xander Harris, who smelled so fresh, who was ridiculous but funny, who fought bravely and wholeheartedly, even though he had little strength or skill, who smiled with his whole face, from cupid’s bow lips to pointed eyebrows.

Angel cursed himself for a fool, for noticing these things about the boy. Attraction was a fickle thing though, and Angel well knew the conscious, reasoning mind had little choice in the directions the heart took it. Behold the folly that was the slayer. Usually, common sense had to just sit back and say, what the hell? This was one of those times.

There was nothing immediately endearing about Xander. He wasn’t any great masterpiece, or Mr Universe. He was just Xander Harris, goofball. Angel began to wonder if perhaps he had a soft spot for those. But, no, he definitely wasn’t soft when he accidentally walked in on Xander in the bathroom. He didn’t know who had gotten the bigger shock. Xander had wrapped the shower curtain around his naked body, while he flailed about for a towel, and Angel had backed quickly out of the room. The moment was brief but the images lasted, and fuelled a simmering desire.

So, in point of fact, he didn’t really want Xander gone as much as he wanted Xander in his bed. But that was not going to happen. Angel would have to satisfy himself with the odd accidental touch in the too small kitchen, or in the elevator, or passing in the passageways.

Good, he thought, as they drove away. Pack him off back to Sunnydale, get Xander Harris well and truly out of his head. This was a good thing. It was a good thing, wasn’t it? If life was going to be easier, if he was finally going to get himself back on track and stop mooning around over Xander Harris of all people, then why wasn’t he happier?

Why did he have the urge to throw something sharp at the rear tire and delay their trip? Why was there this hollow feeling developing, where before he’d felt a tiny warm glow beginning?

Angel tried to keep his face neutral as the car sputtered to a stop amidst a cloud of smoke. Was there a deity who smiled on besotted vampires? Doubtful, but nonetheless, Angel thanked the god of automotive lemons for his stroke of good fortune. He stood silently as they argued over the situation, and bit his tongue as Xander was declared the one with the least important life, and therefore the most obvious choice to wait for the repairs.

Xander’s wounded expression didn’t last more than an instant, but it was the waves of hurt and disappointment, mingling with a dash of fear, he sensed, that really got to Angel. And worse, was the knowledge that any comfort he offered, would be brushed off with a scornful insult. It was not going to be an easy week.

Angel was lost in thought, staring after the rental car when Xander bumped his shoulder. The brief warm touch caught him by surprise, and Angel gasped as he fought the urge to reach out and touch the young man. Instead, he quickly pulled away to rush inside, before Xander could see his reaction.


~**~


Xander settled himself down on the couch in Angel’s tiny living room. It had been an awkward afternoon. Angel so very obviously didn’t want him there; the vampire had seen him back downstairs, then vanished for several hours into his office.

Great. Stuck in LA. No cash. Nothing to do. No cable. No one to talk to. Xander wandered the apartment. Not a great deal to look at either. Perhaps he could go upstairs and see what was happening in the office.

Cordelia had already left. The lights were all off, except for Angel’s office. Xander tapped lightly on the door.

“Hey Dead-, ah, Angel,” he said. “What’s doing?”

Angel’s head jerked up and he looked startled to see Xander there. Strange, Xander didn’t think it was that easy to sneak up on the undead. Angel must have completely forgotten about him. What was the opposite of an ego boost? Oh yeah, his life.

“Xander. I’m pretty busy. What do you need?”

Xander took in the tone, and the frown on Angel’s forehead. “Gonna be a thrill-a-minute week,” he muttered and headed back downstairs.


~**~


After the others had left and he’d taken Xander back to the apartment, Angel had gone immediately to his office to avoid any difficult situations alone with Xander. He pulled out files, took some heavy volumes off the shelf and settled himself in for an afternoon and evening of losing himself in work.

That grand plan had lasted all of fifteen minutes. After that, every little thing reminded him of Xander. The dark brown leather of the book bindings; wasn’t that the same shade as Xander’s hair? The way the lamp light caught the paperclips on the files, bright flashes of light not entirely dissimilar to the mischievous gleam in Xander’s eye when he was bantering with his friends.

Mostly, though, it was hearing Xander’s footsteps downstairs, pacing around the apartment. Angel imagined Xander making himself comfortable. Maybe taking a shower, rubbing dry that thick hair, slipping slowly into some old jeans and a too-small t-shirt.

He was startled from his fantasy by the real Xander knocking on his door and stepping inside. Angel tried to look busy, tried to wipe any evidence of his thoughts off his face; he definitely did not stand up, and thereby reveal the extent of his thoughts.

Maybe Angel had done too good a job of it. When he’d spoken to Xander, the boy had rolled his eyes, mumbled something under his breath and walked out, slamming the door behind him. On the one hand, Angel was disappointed to see him go; on the other, it wouldn’t do to keep spending time with him, risking Xander noticing Angel’s attention. Last thing he felt like dealing with was getting the brush off from Xander Harris. And that was the best case scenario. Worst, may well be Xander being completely disgusted, and attempting to introduce Angel to the business end of a stake.

Angel sighed. He knew he was handling this badly.


~**~


Stupid vampire. Xander had no idea why his brain was giving him naked dreams of Angel. His brain shot him a few images to remind him; his body responded. Stupid body. Stupider brain. He threw himself down on the couch and flipped the TV on. Reruns of reruns would be better than trying to make nice with that guy. Xander tried to find an interest in the old programs, but boredom and the soft cushions conspired against him and he was soon dozing.

Again, the images of Angel filled his head. Angel smiling and kissing him when he went into the office. Angel bending him over the desk and undoing his jeans. Angel panting cold breaths against the back of his neck.

Xander moaned and shifted in his sleep, one hand going to the front of his jeans.


~**~


Okay, enough stalling. Angel packed away his files and books and returned to his apartment. He couldn’t stay locked in the office for the next week. Well, he could, but his blood was down in the kitchen, and he had no spare clothes up in the office.

It was quiet down there, except for the television. Angel stopped. He could hear the regular, deep breathing that told him Xander was asleep. Good. No need to avoid looking at those big, brown eyes and wishing they were filled with anything but indifference. Even a touch of hate, would be welcome, at least that would be some kind of feeling directed at him.

Angel walked silently over to the couch and reeled as he was hit with a wave of pheromones from Xander. The burst was accompanied by little moans and sounds of pleasure from Xander’s twitching lips. Angel shoved his hands deep into his pockets so that he wouldn’t reach out and touch those lips, stroke his fingers over them, maybe slip one inside. No. Stop looking there.

He followed the line of Xander’s arm and soon realised that it had been a mistake to take his eyes off those lips. Xander’s hand was cupped over a sizeable bulge in the front of his jeans. He was obviously dreaming. Angel wondered who it was. Cordelia perhaps? Buffy? Judging by the sounds, it was someone Xander was having a very nice time with.

Angel tried to tear his eyes away. Tried really hard, but they just wouldn’t go. Instead he backed away, small steps towards the kitchen. If he was quiet, Xander would keep sleeping and Angel could sit at the table with a cup of tea and just listen. Listen and scent. Definitely scent. The boy smelled incredible.

He backed off, paying too much attention to Xander’s long fingers that every now and then twitched against his crotch. As he took another step backwards, Angel’s leg caught the corner of the coffee table and the vase balanced carefully in the centre, toppled over, knocking his spare set of keys from the table’s edge to the floor.

Damn it. Angel cursed himself and tried to snatch the rolling vase before it made any further noise. If vases were alive, and looks could kill…


~**~


Xander jumped as he was pulled from the pleasant dream, by the sudden crash and tinkle from right next to him. His eyes flew open and he saw Angel glance at him with a disgusted look on his face.

He suddenly realised where his hand was, and what it was covering and knew the reason for Angel’s expression.

“Angel?”

“I’ll be in the kitchen,” Angel said quickly, not looking at Xander as he turned at strode away.

Oh, nice job Harris. Way to make the vamp puke. Did vampires even vomit? He doubted even the Watcher’s Journals could tell him. Stupid Giles’s car leaving him in this position.

Xander sat up and ran his hands through his hair. The dreams were becoming more vivid. They lasted longer and stayed with him well after he woke. This time was no exception. Stupid brain. Where the hell were these dreams coming from?

He surreptitiously watched Angel in the kitchen. Sure he was tall, well-built, well-dressed- odd hair, but it wasn’t too bad. But Angel hated Xander, as evidenced by the repulsed expressions whenever the vampire hazarded a look at him.

Maybe the dreams were a metaphor for something. Xander stretched his brain. Metaphor for what? He gave a soft snort. Unlikely Xander Harris, oh he of the literal, would decipher the meaning of a metaphorical dream.

Xander dropped his head back against the couch cushions and looked at his watch. He willed it to speed up; to get him to the end of this week faster. No luck. He groaned.


~**~


They both managed to look as though they were staying out of each other’s way.

That first night, Xander heated up a frozen meal, Angel, a mug of blood, and they sat awkwardly at the table to eat. There was stilted conversation, recapping the events of the last week, before Angel excused himself and left to do a sweep of the local area.

Xander, set himself up on the couch with pillows and a blanket, and was asleep long before Angel returned.

The next day, Angel lay in his bed listening to Xander in the shower. Xander tried to forget the last dream that insisted on playing through his head as he soaped himself. Angel made no attempt to block out the sounds and scents of a wet and slippery Xander taking matters in hand, and silently followed suit.

Angel spent the day in his office, not looking at Xander wandering around outside talking and laughing with Cordelia. Not noticing the way his voice rose and fell as he made the happy sounds. Not admiring the way his shoulders flexed as he helped Cordy move cartons of files. And certainly not carefully observing the way Xander’s jeans stretched when he bent to lift those boxes. No, he was much too busy for that. Very busy.

Xander busied himself chatting with Cordelia, reminiscing over school days and exploits in the closets. He did not recall that dream where Angel had taken him up against the filing cabinet. Nor did he pause and look longingly at the chair that was the centre piece of last night's dream. He most certainly did not feel a stirring in his gut when Angel came out of the office and gave him a quick sideways glance. No chance. Those feeling were for crazy insane dream land. Not real life. Down boy.

As the week dragged on, Xander and Angel skirted each other. There was minimal conversation, but much in the way of sly glances. They made little eye contact, but by the third day, each knew more about the other’s body shape, size and patterns of movement than they would care to admit to themselves.

Xander’s sleeping hours were still overrun with fanciful scenarios that spilled over into his conscious mind as soon as he woke, and stayed with him for the day. Angel’s waking hours were long and tortuous periods of tantalising scents and sounds that assailed him whenever Xander was near, and sometimes even when he was not


~**~


Xander was beginning to cave. He defied anyone to be bombarded with images such as he had and not be affected. Angel was a handsome man. And, if Xander’s dreams were anything to go by, a talented and well-endowed man. Was he really such a bad guy? He was letting Xander stay in his apartment. Supplying food and hot running water. He could have kicked Xander to the curb and not even blinked. Xander wondered why he hadn’t.

Buffy. That must be it. Angel just wanted to stay in the slayer’s good books. And the way to a girl’s heart was to be nice to her friends. Well, not nice exactly. Angel still had these pained looks whenever he saw Xander. He still couldn’t bring himself to make more than two minutes of conversation, before having to rush off somewhere. So why was that idea starting to bug Xander so much? Why should it bother him that Angel paid him no attention? Why did he want it so badly?


~**~


Angel was frustrated, both with himself and with Xander. Himself, because really, he thought, who would be so attracted to someone like Harris? But then he berated himself. There was nothing wrong with Xander Harris that a good long separation from his non-appreciative friends wouldn’t cure. He just needed to find himself, and Angel wanted to help.

He was frustrated with Xander, because the boy was giving out increasing amounts of such alluring hormones that Angel was having a hard time controlling himself. Literally, a hard time. He knew that Xander must be lusting after Cordelia again. That would explain why just this last day or so, Xander’s heartbeat and scent changed so much when he came up into the office. Angel considered firing Cordelia.


~**~


Yet again, Xander found himself alone, as Angel went out on the LA version of patrol. He would have liked to have to gone too, but was reluctant to spend so much time alone with Angel, having to watch the vampire trying to avoid him. That kind of thing didn’t do much for a guy’s self confidence.

So he spread himself out in front of the television, sighed and groaned over the crap he had to choose from and wondered how Angsty Pants could stand the limited channels. Then again, Xander didn’t think he’d ever seen Angel watch TV. Strange guy. Good looking, good fuel for fantasies, but strange.

Xander persisted with some reality TV for an hour or so, but then stopped himself from putting his foot through the screen by picking up the phone and inviting Cordelia over. She arrived half an hour later with his favourite pizza and a bag of junk food, which he gratefully accepted and ploughed his way through in no time.

It was fun. They talked about school again, gossiping about who wore what, and who dated who and which teachers were hot for each other. All round a very mature evening in. They talked of Cordy’s love life, or lack thereof, Xander’s too. Then talk eventually turned to Angel, and Cordelia filled him in on daily life with the vampire with a soul for a boss. Xander listened intently.

They were rolling on the couch, laughing, hours later, at another of Cordelia’s irreverent anecdotes, when Angel returned. He stood stock still, took in the packets and boxes lying on the floor, and Xander and Cordelia, lying on the couch. He formed his shocked face into a very neutral one and just stared. Xander and Cordy straightened themselves and met his gaze.

“Hi boss. We were just killing time, you know,” Cordelia said as she picked up her shoes and bag.

Angel didn’t speak, just looked at Xander with that inscrutable expression.

“Yeah, don’t worry about all this, I’ll pick it up.” Xander waved his hand around at the remains of his snacks. “Good patrol?”

Angel nodded, gave another brief look at Cordelia, a longer one at Xander, and disappeared into his bedroom.

“Geez. What’s up his ass?” Cordelia whispered.

After clearing his mind of the automatic image that followed her question, Xander shrugged. “Apart from the fact that he hates me being here, can’t stand the sight of me, never speaks to me and leaves a room as soon as he can when I’m in it? No idea.”

“Xander Harris, why do you have your hurt face on when you say that?” Cordelia stood hands on hips, eyebrows raised. “You don’t even like Angel.”

“My what? I don’t have a-. No, not hurt. Pissed, in a very manly, annoyed way.” Xander grabbed an empty bag and began shoving the rubbish in. “Of course I don’t like Angel. You know I don’t. Big, stupid, pointy haired, lurking, undead, um, guy.”

“Protest much?”

“Okay, you know what? Time to go home, CC. Too much junk food is messing with your brain. Go, sleep it off.” Xander ushered her upstairs and out the office door. “Don’t worry about the mess, I’ll clean up, thanks for the pizza. ‘Night!”

Xander did not want to see the look of comprehension that was dawning on Cordelia’s face as he waved and closed the door behind her.


~**~


All night, while he was out, cleaning up the streets, taking a proactive stance, Angel had taken his frustrations out on the hapless demons and vampires who got in his way. Damn Xander Harris and his hormones. Damn his laugh, damn his smile, damn his terrible jokes, damn him. Angel was too old for this. Too old to be feeling a pull towards someone, and yet be too wary of the response to act on it.

When he thought enough time had passed, and Xander would be asleep, Angel headed home. A few minutes watching him lying on the couch, breathing slow and deep, maybe mumbling, maybe moaning again, as he often did. That would send Angel off to sleep with pleasant dreams.

As he let himself back in through the office, Angel noted the sounds of laughter from downstairs. When he pushed the door open, his unbeating heart sank just a little. Xander and Cordelia were on the couch, arms around each other, laughing. He’d been right. All those emotions from Xander were for Cordy. He should have fired her when he first thought of it.

Angel carefully pushed aside the pain and just stared at them. Hopefully they would get the message and move their ‘party’ elsewhere. Back to her apartment maybe? No, he didn’t want to think about that.

Xander was saying something, but Angel didn’t hear the words, he just nodded, glanced at Cordy and flicked his eyes to Xander. He wanted to look away, but the thought of what Xander and Cordelia may have been doing was eating at him, and his eyes lingered on Xander just a little longer than he intended. Maybe tomorrow, he should pay for the boy to get a motel room somewhere. That might be for the best.

Angel left them alone and went to bed. He lay there, listening. There was a whispered conversation; Angel strained but caught only the odd word. They both left, and Angel sighed in disappointment. He was mentally running through the list of motels nearby when he heard a noise. Xander was back. Angel could hear him clearing up, taking off his clothes- hold that thought- and settling in for the night. He wasn’t going to go with Cordelia? Confused, but satisfied, Angel drew on the image he’d set aside, and slept.


~**~


When Xander woke, he phoned the mechanic for an update, discovered the part still hadn’t arrived, swore a bit and slammed down the phone. Finding nothing in the kitchen, he decided to get dressed, go out for breakfast and do a bit of sightseeing. He’d managed to borrow some money from Cordelia on the promise that Giles would definitely pay her back, so he had a bit of cash that could tide him over. Surely he could find enough to do to keep himself out of the office for the day.

Xander grabbed a jacket, Angel’s spare keys and left with a smile. It was a good day. He’d found a tourist map and spent the day looking around. Nothing exciting, just relaxing. No avoiding vampires, no pretending he didn’t see the distaste on Angel’s face when he looked at Xander.

Yep. An all round nice day. Good day. Oh, hell, Xander couldn’t even hide it from himself. He’d wandered in circles, reliving his dreams of Angel. Wondering why he was never enough for people. Angel couldn’t stand him, that much was clear. It wasn’t a good day. Yes, he saw the sights, but he couldn’t have described one of them. Yes, he’d walked the city, but when he looked up in the late afternoon, he’d ended up back outside Angel’s office.

This just wasn’t going to be bearable much longer. Stupid damn dreams making him want Angel. Stupid damn body betraying him every time Angel was nearby. Stupid damn Angel not wanting him back. It was time to go. Maybe Cordelia had a spare couch. Or, failing that, perhaps the mechanic wouldn’t mind him sleeping in Giles’ car until it was ready.

He pushed open the office door, planning to go downstairs, pack his things and leave a note for Angel. Not like he’d even notice Xander was gone. He’d probably just wake up one day and say ‘hmm, is something missing?’ Xander was debating with himself about whether to even bother with the note when two strong hands grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Where the hell have you been?”


~**~


Angel slept well. Xander hadn’t left with Cordelia so that was something. Not that it even mattered. Xander hated Angel. Whether or not he’d gone with Cordy made no difference there. He lay still listening for the sounds of Xander in the living room. Silence.

Okay, maybe he was upstairs for some reason. Angel listened carefully. Nothing. He was alone. Normally that was a good thing. It usually suited Angel perfectly. But now, no. Not good. He jumped out of bed, pulled on his clothes and without a thought for his hair, searched his small apartment.

Empty. Xander, his clothes, his shoes, Angel’s spare keys. All gone. Only one place he could be, Angel deduced. He’d woken during the night and gone to Cordelia’s. Angel resisted the urge to kick something and instead, slammed his fist into the wall. It gave a very satisfying sound of cracking and crumbling plaster.

Fired. Cordelia was fired. It wasn’t as though she were even competent. What did she actually do? Angel asked himself these questions, knowing that even he wasn’t game enough to ask the woman herself. He headed upstairs, into his office and attempted to concentrate on work. He managed for a short time, until Cordelia arrived for work. Then he was out of his seat, ready to give his soon to be ex-receptionist her marching orders. From a safe distance.

“Geez, Angel, what happened to you?” Cordelia asked as she reached for the coffee pot.

“Cordelia, you’re fi-. What? Nothing happened to me.”

Cordelia looked at him doubtfully. “Um, excuse me. But I think I know a lack of hair product when I see it.” She looked him up and down. “And your clothes are creased. You look like a hobo. A tall, muscular, almost well-dressed hobo.”

“Cordelia, I need to tell you something-.”

“Yeah, later. Where’s Xander? I bought him some food.” She held a supermarket bag in her hand.

“Xander’s-.” Angel froze. “You don’t know where he is?”

“Well no, Einstein, if I did, why would I ask?”

Angel’s heart lightened with relief. Xander hadn’t gone to Cordelia’s. They weren’t-, they hadn’t-. Then it immediately took a dive. If Cordelia didn’t know where he was, and Angel didn’t know, then who did? Where was he? All kinds of scenarios raced through his mind. Not a one of them a patch on his previously constructed scenarios involving Xander.

“Okay, now you’re not generally big with the whole visible range of emotions, but even I could see those.” Cordelia put down the coffee pot and poked Angel’s chest. “What’s going on here with you two, mister?” She didn’t wait for an answer before jabbing him again and forcing him to back into his office. “First Xander is all ‘oh woe is me, Angel doesn’t even know I’m alive’. Then you’re all beaming smiles to tortured frowns in, like, three point two seconds. Spill, Angel.”

Angel was stuck on one thing. “Xander thinks I don’t notice him?”

“Hello? Have you said two words to him this week? Two nice words?”

“Ah, no. He hates me.”

“For an old guy, you can be really stupid” Cordelia had successfully backed Angel up to his desk and now she pushed him down into his chair. “Xander Harris does not hate you.” She punctuated the sentence with more poking.

“But-, yes, he-. I know he-.” Angel watched Cordelia’s head slowly shaking side to side. “He doesn’t?”

“No. But he thinks you hate him.”

“I don’t-. Okay how do you know all this Cordelia?” Angel’s eyes widened. “Did he say something about me?”

“Oh please, what are you? Like thirteen?” Cordelia sighed and dropped into the spare seat. “Angel, I’ve known Xander for a long time. I’ve dated Xander. And let’s never speak of that again. But my point is, I know how he thinks, I know what he looks like when he thinks it. He doesn’t hate you. In fact I would go so far as to say he likes you.”

“Xander Harris likes me?”

“Yeah, you know, as in likes likes.”


Angel scoffed, trying to hide his feeling of hope. “Now who’s the teenager? Did he pass you a note too?”

“Okay.” Cordelia stood up. “I have work to do. You sort it out. Cause you know what I think? I think you might like him too. That would explain a lot wouldn’t it? Like why you’ve been avoiding him this week, but why I catch you looking at him all mopey, when you know he can’t see you. Why you’re even letting him stay here. Don’t even bother to say I’m wrong.”

Cordelia flounced out of the office, leaving Angel stunned. Had he been so obvious that even Cordelia of all people noticed? She might be brash and irritating but when it came to these things, she was often right. But Xander? Could Xander really be interested? Angel decided to bite the bullet and discuss it further. He casually wandered out to hover near Cordelia’s desk.

“So, Cordy.”

“Don’t give me the casual act mister.”

Angel sighed. “Cordy do you know where he is?”

“No, I’m not his mother.”

“What if he’s gone home?”

“Did he take all his things? Was Giles’ car ready?”

Angel pictured the apartment. “No his bag is still downstairs. I don’t know about the car.”

Cordelia gave a put upon sigh and dialled the number off a business card in front of her. In less than a minute she had determined that no, the car wasn’t ready, and wouldn’t be for another few days yet.

“So where is he then? What if something happened? What if he doesn’t come back?”

“Serve you right for being so-.” Angel’s less than impressed stare stopped her. “Angel if you’re that worried, go look for him. But-,” she waved her hand at the warm morning sun. “Might be more effective if you waited, unless you had your heart set on drifting with the breeze.”

“Wait?” More waiting. But no, that might be good. If Xander walked back through the door at this minute, Angel didn’t know what he would do or say. If he waited then he could plan. Cordelia could help him plan.

“Angel, he’ll be fine. He has to be bored out of his mind though doesn’t he? You haven’t spoken to him, you haven’t taken him with you on patrol. You’re so tight you don’t have cable. What’s he meant to be doing? Sitting and staring at the wall?”

“He could have gone out somewhere, gone to a movie or talked or something, I don’t know.”

“Angel, he tried to talk to you a couple of times. You brushed him off. And he has no money. He doesn’t have a job and Giles left him nothing. He’s been stuck here. I gave him money last night. He’s probably just gone out to get away from your blue funk.”

“He had no money? None at all?” Angel knew he’d been handling it badly, but he’d no idea just how much till now. “Damn.”

“Yeah damn. You know, we talked about you last night. And it didn’t click then, just how interested he was. You don’t know him that well anymore Angel, if you ever did. You might be surprised.”

Angel had a suspicion that she was speaking the truth. Not that he could do anything about it. Xander would come back when he was ready and not before. He hoped Cordelia had read Xander right, he had no reason to doubt that, after all, she’d read Angel easily enough.

He threw himself into his work, but put off a couple of jobs that required him to tramp through the sewers; he didn’t want to be gone if Xander came back. The day dragged interminably. Angel had spent a good portion of it planning what he would say to Xander. It was carefully choreographed and scripted to minimise embarrassment should Cordelia prove to be wrong. It all went out the window the minute Xander walked back through the office door.

Angel was out of his seat and across the floor before even he himself realised. He gripped Xander by the shoulders and stared eye to eye with him and growled. “Where the hell have you been?”


~**~


Xander’s body jerked at the surprise touch. It was firm but not unpleasant. In fact, it was more than pleasant. But, hey!

He pulled himself away from Angel’s hands. “I’ve been out. No business of yours though is it?”

“You left before I was awake.”

“So? I was hungry. Human here and there was no food in the kitchen. I needed to eat so I went out.”

“You didn’t leave a note,” Angel said, stepping back and lowering his hands. “I didn’t know where you were.”

“Why would you care? Not like you’ve given me the time of day this week is it?” Xander was torn. Angel was worried about him. Angel had noticed he was gone. But Angel had shut him out all week. What the hell was he doing, thinking he could be so demanding now. Xander wished Angel would grab his shoulders again.

“I-. No, I-, ah-.”

“Oh for the love of-.” Cordelia grabbed her bag, stepped between them and turned on her most impatient face. She spoke to Xander first. “Look. He likes you. He does not hate you.” She turned to Angel. “He does not hate you either. Comprende?” She threw her hands up in the air at the expressions of surprise on their faces. “You’re hot for each other, deal with it. I’m going home, so I won’t be able to hear you.”

The door slammed behind her, and Xander and Angel were left alone.


~**~


Xander looked nervously at Angel. “Um, what the hell was that?”

Angel smiled. “That was Cordelia.”

Xander snorted. “Yeah I remember.” Then he was all nerves again. “So, um, what she said. The first thing, not the other thing. Or, yeah, all of the things. Is she right? She usually is and even when she isn’t no one is game enough to tell her.”

Angel smiled tentatively. “She was right.”

Xander frowned. “You’ve been avoiding me, that makes no sense.”

“I thought you hated me. You used to”

“Maybe once upon a time I didn’t like you much. You never liked me either. Things change though. I don’t hate you now.”

Angel gave a soft sound, almost a laugh. “Me either.”

“You just growled at me.”

“I was worried. I didn’t know where you were all day, if you were okay. I’m sorry I growled.”

“Nah, its, it was, I kinda liked-,” Xander waved his hand vaguely and blushed. “I didn’t mind so much.” He looked at Angel as though he’d only just heard something. “You were worried about me?”

Angel nodded and took a cautious step towards Xander. “It’s a big town, a lot of demons, a lot of humans, not so nice people. I was worried you wouldn’t come back.”

Xander took a tiny step forwards. “You wanted me to come back.”

Angel nodded again. “I hoped you would.”

“Huh! And I was going to leave.” At the look of worry on Angel’s face, Xander smiled. “Might have to change my plans though.”

“You’ll stay then?”

Xander considered him for a moment. “Well here’s the thing. I’ve been having these dreams-.”

“About Cordelia, I heard them.” Angel said, with a disappointed sigh.

“About-?” Xander curled his lip. “No, geez, ew, no. About you, idiot. I’ve been dreaming about you.”

Angel’s lip twitched into a tiny smile and his eyes shone. “Me?”

“Yeah, you. So if I leave now, how will I ever find out how accurate those dreams are, you know?”

“And how will I know if those sounds you make in your sleep are the same as the ones you make when you’re awake?”

“Now you’re getting it,” Xander teased and closed the gap between them, putting one hand on Angel’s chest, the other curled gently around his hip.

Angel’s hands reached out to Xander’s arms and slid slowly up to his shoulders. “I think you need to tell me more about your dreams.”

“I can do one better. If we go downstairs, I can show you.”

“Much better.” Angel smiled, slid one hand up behind Xander’s head, drew him in to a soft kiss and walked him backwards to the elevator.


~**~


The next morning, a Saturday, Xander woke to the sounds of shuffling drawers, banging cupboards and whispered curses. Then there was the dinging of the microwave, creak of the fridge door and the whistle of the kettle. He tried to ignore it, tried to go back to sleep, but there were pangs in his stomach, the bed felt huge and empty, and on the other side of the wall was a vampire, a really hot vampire, a really hot vampire who had, just hours ago, been doing things to Xander that previously, had only been the stuff of dreams.

Xander climbed out of bed, pulled on a pair of jeans and headed out to the kitchen in search of said vampire. He had a brief moment of self consciousness, of wondering if his appearance in the kitchen this morning would be welcomed, or met with awkward embarrassment. Xander cast his mind back to the events of last night, and recalled Angel’s enthusiastic, and surprisingly loud, participation. He smiled and walked confidently out of the bedroom.

Xander found Angel at the counter, in game face, staring into the toaster. One look at the ridges and planes of Angel’s demon visage, and Xander almost forgot he was hungry. Almost, not quite. Food first, then ravage the demon.

Xander leaned on the counter next to Angel and smiled as he bent in and carefully kissed him, avoiding the fangs.

“This ridiculous appliance is trying to ruin everything,” Angel grouched. “It just doesn’t want me in the kitchen.”

“I highly doubt the toaster is scheming against you.”

“Well why not? The microwave was, and I think the dishwasher has something up its sleeve too.”

“Angel? Anthropomorphism, personification, metaphor; all those things are best left to the professionals. It just sounds insane coming from everyone else.”

Angel gave him an impatient look, and then turned back to the toaster. “Damn it!’’

“What now?”

“The toast is trapped. I was right about this thing.”

“No you weren’t, just stick a knife in.”

“Oh very funny. I may not eat, but even I know you don’t do that.”

“Go on, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Angel gave him a sour look. “I catch fire.”

“Oh,” Xander said. “If you don’t eat, why are you trying to make food?”

Angel sighed and let his human face slip back into place, mumbling something incoherent. .

“I didn’t catch that. Human hearing, you know.”

“I was making it for you, so you wouldn’t have to go out again. I wanted to make up for this week, I was just trying to do something you’d like.”

“The twinge in my ass says you already did.” Xander grinned at him and ran a hand under Angel’s shirt, over his stomach.

Angel forgot the belligerent toaster and turned to face Xander. “You know what I mean.”

Xander smiled. “Yeah I know. But you don’t have to, I know the preparing and eating of food isn’t your thing. But it’s cool that you tried.”

“I didn’t work out so well.”

“Then that’s something I can teach you.”

“You’re implying I taught you something?”

“Damn straight you did. Or less straight, more bent, well not that you’re in anyway bent, but you know that thing you did? That was definitely not straight. With your tongue, you can’t do something like that with your tongue and say it was straight, not when you stick it-.”

Angel growled as Xander pressed up against him and began a slow swivel of his hips. “Xander, why don’t you forget the food, we go back to bed and you can show me exactly what you mean?”

“Food? What food? Did someone mention sex?”

Xander dragged Angel out of the kitchen, into the bedroom and very carefully showed him what he meant. And then again for good measure.

For the remainder of the weekend, Xander and Angel stayed in. Both upstairs and down, they carefully enacted Xander’s dreams and made some new ones. Both were pleased to discover just how much they did not hate each other.


~**~


On Monday morning, Cordelia arrived for work, noticed the overturned furniture, the distinct lack of a boss in his chair and immediately left again, with a satisfied smile.

Mid morning the mechanic called. Xander rolled over Angel’s body to grab his cell.

“So it’s done huh?” Xander said into the phone, after exchanging the necessary pleasantries. “All ready to leave?” He looked at Angel’s wary expression, kissed him swiftly and lay down, sharing the pillow. He pressed himself back into Angel’s side, smiling as the long arms came around him.

“Yes, Mr Harris, you can pick her up when you’re ready.”
“So, um, how much is the bill?” Xander asked, then cringed as the mechanic read the itemised account and total. He thought for a moment. “Okay, how does this sound? You add an extra two hundred, have one of your guys drive it to that Sunnydale address, and the owner will fix you up for that. There’ll be a rental there he can drive back to LA.”

“I think we have a deal there Mr Harris. Thanks for your business.”

Xander flipped the cell shut with a smile.

“You’re not taking Giles’ car back?” Angel asked, his confusion evident.

Xander settled himself on Angel’s chest, his head propped up on his hands. “Nope.”

“You don’t need to get home?”

“Nope.”

“They won’t worry about you?”

Xander snorted. “No.”

“You’re staying?”

“Yep.”

Angel considered this. “Why?”

Xander gave him a simple, easy smile. “Someone needs to protect you from the evil kitchen appliance conspiracy.”

Angel nodded and pulled Xander up to kiss him. “That’s a good place to start.”

Silkensky requested the line "I highly doubt the toaster is scheming against you", clueless!Xander and pining!Angel.




The End



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