Disclaimer: These characters still don't belong to me
Hearing a tapping sound at the window he turned toward it and fell out of the bed in shock at seeing Angel's face at the window.
Angel winced as he saw Xander fall out of bed and then fall again as he tried to negotiate his way out of his bedcovers.
"Are you ok?" he asked looking genuinely sorry for frightening him
"Yeah, I'm fine. What the hell are you doing outside my window anyway Angel? I thought you went home ages ago once you walked me back." Xander noticed Angel definitely looked bashful this time.
"Well...you see I was, going home that is, but I heard a bottle smash and shouting when you went inside so I came back to...you know...check you were ok." Angel babbled back.
Xander didn't even know Angel could babble; had never known him to be anything other than calm and collected, except for when they found Buffy face down in a pool of water in the Master's cave and this halloween when soldier-Xan was threatening him with a gun.
Xander got slightly side-tracked at that thought, mentally smirking, remembering Halloween, and the horror on Angel's face when he threatened to shoot him. Then he remembered what they had been talking about and he glared at Angel, eyes narrowing
"So you what...saw I was ok but decided to what...hang around anyway?" Xander asked suspiciously knowing that Angel must have heard everything with those damn vamp senses of his. "You heard everything didn't you?" Xander said with a sigh.
"I really did just want to make sure you were ok, but I'm glad I heard what happened," Angel admitted quietly.
"Why? So you can tell everybody how crap Xander's life has been fucked up again?" Xander shouted.
"No..I-I didn't, I mean I-I wouldn't," Angel stuttered out wanting, needing Xander to believe him.
Xander sighed and breathed deeply calming himself down and sank back onto the bed.
"I know, I'm sorry I'm just...I don't know what I am...just, I've had a shit load just dumped on me in the last 30 mins. I've found out my parents aren't my parents, my biological mother is dead and my dad is god knows where, and could be dead as well for all I know, and I have less than 24 hours to find a new place to live when I have no job and, and no money, I have to be at school by 7 for swim practice. DAMN everything was going so good. I mean I have Cordy who is the best friend a guy can have, and people at school don't hate me anymore. I'm the captain of the swim team and I won the 1st gold medal for Sunnydale in 10 years, for something other than mortality rates. I mean wasn't it enough for me to have bug lady and mummy girl and have the damn soldier that won't leave my head and now nearly getting fishified-"
"Xander stop, breathe ok?" Angel said sounding worried and looking at him with concern, and Xander didn't think he had ever had that particular look aimed at him before and especially not from Angel. "Listen to me Xander, just breathe for me ok. It won't help if you pass out from lack of oxygen," Angel said with a smile and still a touch of concern in his eyes. "I don't think you took one breath in that whole mini speech of yours."
Xander returned his smile and said, "Ya know you can come in if you want. I know it isn't comfortable on the roof out there."
"Thank God," Angel said while climbing through the already open window feeling both saddened by the fact that Xander knew that and immensely happy that Xander trusted him enough to invite him into his house. "It isn't all that steady out there and I wasn't in the mood to fall off and into an embarrassed lump in your back yard," Angel said to try and lighten the mood a bit as he didn't want Xander to think he pitied him. Xander was stubborn enough as it was and Angel needed him easy going enough to listen to him and agree to what he was going to say.
"Oh my god, Angel made a joke, a funny joke," Xander said faking shock and then spoiling it by laughing, but he had to admit to himself Angel could actually be a pretty funny guy when he forgot about all the brooding and angsting crap.
"Funny guy," Angel retorted, smiling, while feeling pleased that his plan worked. His smile started to fade when he heard Xander speak again, he could barely hear him he was so quiet.
"Sorry about the 'mini speech' thing, it's just that in the last half hour my life has been turned upside down and I don't know what I'm gonna do. I don't have anything or anyone-"
"NO Xander," Angel said cutting him off and just a bit loud.
He walked towards where Xander was perched on the end of the bed and sat next to him taking Xander's hand in his he carried on, pleased that Xander hadn't flinched away from him or removed his hand.
"You have Cordy now and Willow and Buffy," he ignored the snort Xander made at the mention of Willow and Buffy but made a mental note to ask about it later. "You have your new friendship with Oz. You know Giles already thinks of you as the son he's never had and Miss Calender, everyone knows you're her favourite she thinks of you like a little brother."
"I really am her favourite," Xander inserted with a smile.
Angel finished his heartfelt speech, "and, you have me."
Xander looked up at Angel with tears in his eyes, gratitude for Angel showing clearly.
Angel just continued on. "Now Xander you are going to listen to what I say next and not interrupt. When I am done you are going to say 'Yes Angel' and do as I say, OK?" he said seriously.
Xander's eyes narrowed and a smirk spread across his face as he looked at Angel. "But what if you say something I don't like, like say I have to use the same amount of hairgel as you because ya know Cordy puts enough of the stuff on me as it is and has started picking out my clothes and-"
Angel cut him off with a hard look and said, "What ever I ask you to do will be for your own good OK?"
"Yeah well Cordy always says that, and it's not reassuring in the slightest," Xander muttered back, while pulling at his tight top.
Angel sighed thinking it had been too easy going. At the same time he admired the good job Cordy had done on Xander's wardrobe, especially today's tight black jeans and long sleeved, forest green tee, which was clinging to an impressive six pack and toned chest that surprised everyone when they saw him at the swim competition. Well, except for Cordy who had been to every practice to encourage him and not as Xander pointed out to make sure he didn't leave.
Getting his mind back on track he said, “Look I promise it'll be nothing to do with fashion or gel." As he said it he smirked to himself, and then his eyebrows went up when he noticed that Xander actually relaxed when he said those words. 'Damn what did Cordy do to him? Take him shopping with the Cordettes or something?' He realised he said the last bit out loud when Xander snorted.
"Worse, I went back to her house the other day after the Gold medal and she introduced me to her mother again, this time mentioning that I was Sunnydale's new swim team captain and her best friend. After her mother congratulating me on the win and becoming captain she congratulated Cordy on at last having a decent best friend not 'those awful sheeple you used to hang around with. Honestly they are even worse than the women at the country club',” Xander said mimicking Cordy's mother's snobby accent perfectly.
Angel tried not to laugh, but found it impossible after Xander started. When Angel finished, he asked, "It doesn't sound too bad-"
"I haven't got to the worst part," Xander interrupted. He shuddered and continued, "Her mother thought that seeing as I'm the captain of the swim team I should dress the part as I would be 'representing the school and the town' and most importantly I have to look the part for when I'm around her daughter, and for when she showed me off and the country club next weekend."
"They didn't?" Angel exclaimed.
"They bloody well did...and Oh. My. God. I have been spending waaay too much time with G-Man recently." He shuddered at the thought of wearing tweed and drinking tea all day. “But yeah they did. It was decided on a shopping spree the next day on Mr. Chase's dollar, and I couldn't get out of it because they insisted I stayed the night in one of the guest rooms. We didn't hit Sunnydale mall, oh no, we had to go to LA and we were there from opening to closing," Xander finished trying convey to Angel the totally justified horror he had of anything to do with clothes and fashion. "That's why now I just tell Cordy to get whatever she wants me to wear and she comes by early to drive me to school so she can dress me."
At Angel’s raised eyebrow and smile, Xander rushed on while blushing, "Not literally dress me. She just picks the stuff out. I dress myself thank you very much, and then she accessorises, which I didn't think was actually a real word. I thought it was just something girls say to justify how long it takes them to get ready, oh and then she fiddles with my hair...lots.
"OK we got waay off track then, what did you wanna say before that I HAD to say yes to, no questions asked?" Xander asked quirking an eyebrow at Angel
"Oh OK...yeah I...um, well I was...er," Angel stammered now unsure of himself.
"OK you were a lot more forceful last time you started," Xander said with a smile at Angel.
Angel relaxed when he saw Xander's smile and continued, hoping that Xander would be ok with it. "Well, you need somewhere to stay and I have a couple of spare rooms doing nothing, and we wouldn't really be in each others way too much because I sleep all day and you? You go to school all day and have swim practice and meets and whatever else Cordy will rope you into in the new capacity as best friend and the country club with her parents thing and, and we would be patrolling with the others in the evenings and then you would be sleeping...so...what do you think?” Angel finished with a hopeful look and Xander.
"Well I think I'm glad you don't have to breathe or I would have been worried, and oh my God you don't really think Cordy will rope me into other stuff and make me go to the country club?" He snorted and continued, "Who am I kidding? She'll bully me to try and get on as many teams as I can and I'll be a permanent fixture at places like the mall, and the country club, oh my god she'll bring me to the beauty parlour with her and make me gets tints and and highlights and and manicures and and-"
"XANDER!" Angel shouted as loud as he dared so as not to bring the adults upstairs, even though he thought it would take more than some shouting to drag them from the alcohol. "You need to calm down, and for the love of God breathe!" he said while amazed at Xander's ability to both talk for so long without breathing and think of the most inane things, although, with Cordy you never know.
Xander did as he said and took some deep breaths and said, "OK, I'm calm"
"Are you sure?" Angel questioned. "You're not going to have another panic attack are you?"
"I did not have a panic attack," Xander insisted. At Angel's look of disbelief he continued, "OK, I may have panicked slightly, slightly." Angel just continued giving him 'The Look' and added a raised eyebrow for good measure. "Fine, OK, I had a panic attack, but I will point out that it was a completely justified panic attack. If it was you in my shoes you so would have had a panic attack too," Xander said glaring at Angel.
Xander smirked when he saw Angel shudder and knew he was right. Then he digested the rest of what Angel had said before. "You want me to move in? To yours? With you?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yeah, I mean, why not? I have the extra room like I said," Angel replied. "And company would be nice...you know...sometimes" he admitted quietly.
Xander just looked shocked that Angel actually seemed to actually want him there, and not out of some kind of pity from what he overheard earlier, but genuinely because he liked his company. Xander could feel a lump in his throat, apart from Cordy and Miss C nobody wanted him, just for him. Willow and Jesse started to hang with him because he was a bit of a loner and didn't get picked on much because he was from the bad part of town.
Buffy came to be his friend through Willow to start and because everybody else thought she was weird. He was sure that if Cordy and the Cordettes had wanted to hang then she would have dropped him and Willow without a second thought. Giles seemed to like him well enough but he always had the feeling that Giles wished he was a bit more like Willow; more mature and with the book stuff. Oz he didn't know well enough yet to make up his mind but he seemed like a nice guy, if a tad stoic.
But Miss C seemed to like him just the way he was. She laughed at his jokes and Angel was right, she treated him just like a little brother. Miss C had also lent him the use of her couch on odd occasions for when he didn't want to go home. She was the only one, besides Cordy and now Angel, that knew about his crappy home life.
And Cordy, ever since helping that time those jerks tried to make her into Frankenstein's bride, she would look at him funny sometimes as if she was trying to figure him out but couldn't, and then after Halloween it got even worse. Eventually a couple of days after Halloween he broke and asked her what her problem was. He was confused when all she asked was why? Why he had saved her over and over and asked for nothing in return when all she was always a first class bitch to him?
He just told her the truth, that he knew she wasn't just a bitch, she just had to believe it herself. She asked him how he knew that, he just replied that he wasn't just a joker. She replied, "I know," before she broke down in tears and sagged against his chest. He just held her until she wore herself out and then walked her to her car.
He didn't really think anything would change, but the following morning she came by his house early to pick him up, drove him to school and told him that he was right. She didn't want to be just a bitch. He could help her from becoming that and in exchange she would keep him from being just the joker because he was so much more than that. And that was the start of a beautiful friendship. A month and a half later, because of her belief in him, he tried out for the swim team and did it no worries just like Cordy said.
He told Buffy and Willow he did it for the sake of the team to find out what was happening, but the truth was Cordy believed in him, told him he was good enough and could do it and it was the first time anybody ever had done that and he couldn't, wouldn't let her down. Now look at him: Captain of the swim team and Gold medal winner.
He came back to the present and realized that Angel had taken his silence as a rejection and was trying to pull away from him. He realized that they were still holding hands and had been pretty much since Angel climbed into his room, and he was shocked to find that he didn't care. He held on tighter as Angel tried again to pull away. That was when Angel seemed to notice their clasped hands. Xander watched him look down at their hands and saw the look that passed over Angel's face that he couldn't place. Then Angel relaxed, not moving his hand.
"Yes, Angel," Xander said quietly, and he knew Angel had heard when he felt Angel's hand tighten on his, and Angel's eyes came to meet his. He could see confusion, shock, amazement and what he thought was hope. Xander's breath caught with the emotions he could see in Angel's eyes.
"You'll come stay with me?" Angel asked just as quietly. He wanted to be sure they were on the same page.
"Yeah," Xander admitted. "Sorry if I freaked you out back then I was just thinking back on some stuff. I think you might qualify as my second best friend about now," Xander said with a grin.
Angel swore if his heart was beating, it would have stopped just then at Xander's quietly spoken words. Not just the words he said but the meaning behind them and the emotions he could see expressed in Xander’s eyes when he said it. He wanted to ask about Buffy and Willow but decided against it for now; he would ask another time. He mentally smirked to himself: He could ask him when they where home, his home, THEIR home now.
"It's an honour," Angel said with a slight bow and large smile, "and with Cordy, a hell of a rep to live up to." Xander smiled at that
"Do you want to go now? We can take some stuff and get a head start for tomorrow. I heard you say you had practice before school so you would actually need to sleep before then."
"Yeah sleep would be of the good," he replied. "I'll just grab my kit and books for tomorrow, and some clothes and get the rest tomorrow...actually you better pick something for me to wear for school tomorrow 'cos I won't have Cordy here to tell me what to wear and don't want a lecture from her. That reminds me, I'll have to call her so she doesn't come by in the morning."
They both stood at the same time and let go of the others hand both slightly reluctant to let the contact go.
Xander handed Angel a hold-all and directed him to the closet. He went to his desk, grabbed his gym bag and headed toward the bathroom. After collecting a couple of towels, his speedo and everything of his from the bathroom. Xander went to the hall cupboard and grabbed two more hold-alls and a large suitcase, and made his way back to the bedroom.
"I brought these," Xander said indicating the bags he brought in. "I thought I may as well get everything packed tonight, and it'll be ready just to pick up after school tomorrow."
"Good idea," Angel agreed, "but how about once everything is packed, we take the necessities back to my place...our place, and I'll come back with my car and grab everything else while you get some sleep?"
"Really? 'Cos that'd be great. I don't know if I'd trust them two with my stuff once their sober," Xander replied gratefully.
Angel smiled saying, "It's not like I'd be sleeping." As he said it Xander smiled at him.
Angel went ahead and grabbed the suitcase and started putting the rest of Xander's clothes inside while Xander, on the other side of the room, was emptying out drawers and cupboards of everything; CD's, DVD's, videos, comics, collectibles, books, computer and video games and what looked like to Angel a stash of junk food. Angel smiled when he noticed it was mainly made up of Twinkies. Xander decided he would wait until he was at Angel's to decide what he wanted to keep and chuck away to save time.
10 minutes later Angel had finished with all the clothes and the closet was empty. He looked around and started packing various odds and ends that were lying around including a bag of weapons from under Xander's bed. Angel saw that it wasn't just axes, stakes and holy water; there were guns of varying sizes, masses of ammo and some pretty wicked looking knives, all of which looked well kept and clean.
He cleared his throat to get Xander's attention. When Xander looked over at him and saw what he had found all he said was, "Soldier Guy," and turned back to what he was doing. Angel shrugged to himself and added it to the list of things he had to ask Xander about at some point.
30 mins later the room was bare of everything of Xander's and everything was lined up beneath the window.
Angel looked around to check to see if anything had been forgotten. Concluding that there was nothing, he turned back to
Xander and saw him on his cell leaving a message for Cordy
"Hey Cor it's Xander. Just letting you know I don't need you to pick me up in the morning. Everything's fine and I'll explain it all tomorrow. Meet me after swim practice and we'll talk over breakfast, my treat. Love ya," He tried to leave a message that wouldn't leave Cordy worried, but no matter what he said she would probably worry anyway because it was just the way she was with him.
Xander swayed on his feet and Angel caught him "You ok?" he asked.
"Yeah I'm fine probably just tired and worn out from everything from earlier," he answered with a vague hand gesture at the door, "We good to go?" he asked.
"I think you have everything" Angel said indicating the empty room. Xander's reply of, "Oh, one more thing," confused Angel as he couldn't see anything else left. He was even more confused when Xander started to move the bed, as Angel had already taken everything from under it. Once Xander has shifted the bed two feet to the left, he bent down, lifted up a loose floorboard, and took out a metal box, slightly larger than a shoebox, from the hole beneath and then replaced both the floorboard and the bed to their rightful places.
Angel looked at the box curiously but didn't want to push. Xander saw the look and said, "It's my savings. I couldn't put them in an account because I was under 18 and I needed a parent or guardian to co-sign but I didn't want either of them to have access to it. It also contains some other important stuff I kept like photos and stuff." He said shyly, "If you want I'll show you later?"
Angel smiled. "I'd love to, but only if you want to show me," he replied. Xander smiled and placed the box in the hold-all nearest the window.
Angel indicated that they should leave by the window. He grabbed two bags and went first, leaping to the ground. Xander turned out the light, grabbed his jacket, and shimmied down the drainpipe in an obviously well practised fashion.
"Hey you made it down and you're not in an embarrassed lump in my back yard," Xander said as he walked towards Angel.
They shared a smile at that. Xander took one of the bags from Angel and they turned down the street toward Angel's, no their place.
Without conscious thought their hands reached out towards each others at the same time. They linked together and each looked down at the joined hands in surprise and then smiled looking at each other and continued walking in the direction of the apartment.
Angel squeezed Xander's hand and they turned to face each other. "Happy Birthday Xander," Angel said quietly with a small smile, which got larger when he heard Xander's answer.
"Ya know what Angel? I think it will be."
End Chapter 2