It comes to Xander in a blinding flash of clarity one three a.m. Specifically, it's a Saturday night – and they're all on the graveyard shift. Again.
Angel's here. Again.
Only this time he lost the coat several hundred metres back and the demon they're wrestling has shredded his t-shirt – in all the wrong places. And Giles is playing a torch over the scene. And therefore over Angel's shoulders.
He is sickeningly reminded of the Halowe'en Playgirl issue he's never looked at the same way since joining the Scooby Gang.
It's always dead – except for Will, who is there because she's finished her homework... and has thoughtfully brought his with her.
Angel saunters up while she's vanished to the bar to get more coffee.
"Buffy's patrolling," Xander snaps.
Angel bares his teeth. He probably thinks he's smiling. "That's not what I came for," he murmurs silkily.
"You see," he says, "I just thought you should know that I have a very sensitive nose. I know what you were thinking Saturday night. I know what you were feeling."
"Fuck off," replies Xander.
"Xander, you're a teenage boy. You're excitable. You're hormonal. You reek. And after that substitute teacher, I'm guessing demons don't do it for you. Which just leaves me."
Xander's mouth is dry. He can't think about anything but the canines glinting at the corners of Angel's grin.
"Oh, hi Angel," Willow says over his shoulder. "Buffy's patrolling."
Angel's face blinks back to bland and brooding. "I'll go look for her."
And he vanishes in a swirl of trenchcoat.
Xander tries not to gape too obviously; tries not to regret only having had a front view of Angel's too-tight jeans.
And then he starts showing his face again, and it's business as usual, and the lack of awkwardness is really somewhat unsettling. Cordelia is obnoxious; Buffy is oblivious; and Willow gives him worried looks, and occasionally says that while she loves Buffy and all, she's concerned he's making himself sick.
It's only when footsteps wake him up that he realises that this is Sunnydale, and there's a Hellmouth, and what the fuck did he think he was doing spending the night outdoors and unarmed.
He stiffens. He slits his eyes open. And he finds Angel smirking down at him, upside-down, crouching at his head. Angel's knees are hovering above his shoulders.
"Not quite," says Angel silkily.
Xander sits bolt upright. "What," he says, "is your crotch," he hisses, "doing so close to my face."
"You looked cold," Angel said. "Doesn't seem safe for you to be out here by yourself. Thought it might be good to get you indoors."
"If you think I am going back into that house," says Xander.
"I was thinking of somewhere a little more comfortable," says Angel. "There's a sofa at mine. Come on."
"I have hot chocolate and blankets," replies Angel.
Is that what you say to all the pretty girls, thinks Xander, staring blankly at Angel's ass. He's startled out of his reverie when Angel turns from the counter and thrusts the mug of hot foaming liquid into his hands. "I'm not that easy," he grumbles.
"Apparently, you are."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Shut up and drink up," says Angel, tosses some covers from the bed, draws the curtain. There is the sound of disrobing.
He realises he needs the bathroom.
He grits his teeth, bunches the blanket around his shoulders, and sticks his head around the curtain.
Angel is lying shirtless on his bed, propped up on the pillows, reading. Something dry and dusty and old.
Angel looks at him.
"... the – the b-bathroom?"
Angel raises an eyebrow. "You didn’t use it before leaving your parents’ house for the night?"
"There are bushes," yelps Xander indignantly.
"Teenagers," murmurs Angel. "Well, we’re not in LA. So you can’t use the wall of the bar. And you are definitely not pissing in the stairwell."
Xander gapes at him.
"Door by the fridge. Don’t go poking around." (Is that a winsome smirk? ... can smirks even be winsome?)
"I have some survival instincts, thank you," snaps Xander.
"News to me," says the smarmy bastard, and puts down his book. His biceps flex. Xander is lost.
Thirty seconds later Angel bursts out laughing. "You got something to tell me, kiddo?"
"Staked a club kid," says Angel.
"... should I be worried?"
"You're not that cool."
"Says the dude still wearing socks."
"What?" says Angel, wounded innocence from every pore. "My feet get cold."
It's just fuel for the fire, really, when Angelus returns, and Xander swears to God he is never telling anyone why he's so furious.
He's hurt. He's rejected. His pride, not to put too fine a point on it, has been severely dented. He's pretty sure Buffy couldn’t have been any better - technically speaking. A small part of him wants to say something snide about heteronormativity; a larger part (... his crotch) wants to toss Angel onto the nearest flat surface and show him what about a dozen more sexual experiences will do for a man. Then he realises Angel is 240 and is probably already intimately familiar with the concept.
Not that Angel seemed to have learnt much, Xander thinks bitterly.
He gets to his late twenties before he realises just how lucky he was that Angelus never told anyone either.