He’s watched Buffy fight, but he’s usually been so busy making the most of every last second – because, unlike most teenagers, Xander’s far from certain he’s immortal any more and he’s fighting for his life too often for the odds to be getting better – that he doesn’t notice more than the fact that she’s good at it. Now, here, tonight, in this alley that has to have been missed by every cleaning crew in town for like ever, he’s watching Angel, and he’s got a grandstand seat.
That’s because he’s hanging by his shirt from a hook on the wall, and the pain as his shirt cuts in under his arms is getting bad enough he wants to throw up, but Angel kicking hell out of the vampires who thought it would be funny to do this to him ...well, that almost makes up for it all – the pain, the humiliation, the fact that he’s playing Andromeda to Angel’s Perseus – and hey, Willow was going to be so impressed he’d remembered that from the time she was treed by Mr Lafferty’s poodle, and he rescued her, and she told him the story to stop him crying because her mother had given him a lecture on rabies as she put iodine on -
Be nice if Angel stopped getting all fancy and just dusted them of course...
Then there’re three holes in the air where there were vampires and Angel’s walking towards him, all heroic swagger, and the coat’s swirling just right, and Xander’s humming appropriate music in his head because he just can’t help himself.
He manages that and he gives him a smile, but he’s high enough that Angel can’t really get the angle right to lift him down, and the box the vampires stood on when they lifted him up is splinters and shards now.
So Angel tries grabbing his thighs and lifting him straight up, but even his hands don’t go around them and he lifts an inch, his hands slip and Xander screams because he’s long past caring if he looks cool and that hurt.
Next Angel wraps his arms around him, so that his face is cool against Xander’s stomach and tries again and it’s close, it’s really close but not quite.
And he knows it’s coming and he sees Angel bite his lip and look a little flustered and that’s enough to send him into a calm, quiet place, so that when Angel’s hand slides between his legs and cups him, when Angel’s thumb moves, questioningly, curiously against what Xander knows is one hell of a badly timed hard-on, he stares out past Angel’s head and doesn’t flinch.
Then Angel grabs a fistful of his shirt – and it’s ruined anyway so he doesn’t mind him touching it – and heaves up, and this time it works and he’s flying free, and maybe Angel was expecting something but Xander’s said thank you once, and Angel doesn’t get any more than that because heroing is its own reward.
He’s half way home when he remembers he got a hug and a grape popsicle. Oh, well. Angel looked like more of a lemon-sour vampire anyway. And the hug was never going to happen.
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