Morning Warm
by Te
September 2000

Disclaimers: If they were mine, things like time would become

Spoilers: None, really.

Summary: Um. Mornings. With Xander, and Ethan, and Angel.

Ratings Note: R.

Author's Note: My valiant attempts to provide schmoop for my brain.

Acknowledgments: Weness Rules!

Feedback: You know it, sug:


It's the morning he wants most.

The sex would be... wonderful, and also, maybe, the sleep, but what
Xander wants is that morning. The one where you wake up, and next to
you is someone who is perfectly happy to see you there. Someone who, at
the very least would consider sleeping in, just to be with you.

Someone whose snores he could listen to.

And the truth is, he has that with Anya, and the other truth is that it's
not enough. She filled the great, big, gaping hole where his self-esteem
should have been as much as she -- or probably anyone -- could at the time,
but he doesn't love her.

So he's never said it, and she watches him closely after *she* says it.
Not so much waiting as... noting.

He wants to believe it's only a matter of time, if only so he could justify
this want. This wandering desire that makes it hard for him to look her in
the face, meet her eyes, even when she's making him angry, or jealous, or
horny, or happy.

The Great Turning Away, first used after every illicit Willow touch,
now damned near perfected. Depersonalization. There's no real Anya, just
a random benign force.

And he's a fucking coward, and he knows it full well, and he's a lazy
coward whose never going to do a thing beyond fade and fade and fade
until Anya gets bored enough, or lazy enough, to walk away. And he'll
regret it, and hate himself, and move on.

And the truth is he can't wait.

So maybe he fades a little faster, and pays more attention to the used
PlayStation he scored for himself than he does to the one person who has
ever used the words "I love you" in reference to *him*.

Fucking sad, pathetic, self-destructive and why doesn't he just off
himself while he's at it? Ultimate failure right there. Don't even have to
learn how to breathe, how to have a heartbeat. Given.

And if you can't even do that...

But he's not so much suicidal as... stupid. Lazy. Can't commit to anything,
or anyone, and yeah, maybe it's his childhood, and maybe he's old enough by
now to learn how to cope.

And Anya is silent beside him, avidly watching skeletons die at the force
of his Holy Bolts. She has her hand on his thigh. It's warm, and soft, and
his for the taking.

And if he can just be a man, there'll be wonderful sex, and warmth, and
a bright, bright smile for him in. The morning.

All for him.

But he'll still want it.


Ethan doesn't miss the mornings at all.

Dirty, grainy things full of mocking silence and increasingly rank
sheets. He remembered wishing to Janus that Ripper would hurry up and
grow out of his punk phase, or at least realize that he could *be* punk
with clean linen.

He didn't want to smell anything but his Ripper, then, his babe-innocent
sleep and his sex and his light night sweat. Everything else was a
distraction to the clean, simple *art* of it. Natural muscle, skin still
damning soft above them. Ripper came from money, and was smart enough
not to deny it.

But he dove in to the lower class rhythms of life, and lived them out
hard. Cheap cigarettes and asskicking on Saturday nights. Of course, he
usually chose to do that with a *stake*...

Which was, of course, what seduced Ethan in the first place.

Walking home, fresh from a night of it, boots *killing* him, and there
Ripper was, dancing and taunting a vampire, stake in one hand, crude spiked
club of a cross in the other. It looked like the carven Jesus had been
ripped right off, leaving the nails -- and that was the first real *hit* of it,
beyond Ripper's flying hair and the magic in his blood -- the blatant,
cheerful blend of the sacred and profane.

And Ethan had just leaned against a relatively clean patch of wall and
watched. It was quick: One roundhouse blow from the disco vampire that
Ripper simply ducked under, stepping through, essentially, a cloud of

And Ripper had turned at his applause, gave him the onceover, and taken
him right against the wall. Spit and pre-come and blood.

That morning had found him alone, makeup smeared on the pillow, arse
sore, and alone in his own bed. No Ripper -- for that's what he'd named the
man from first sight. Didn't it have to be?

Many nights hunting later found Ripper in pretty much the same spot,
smoking and... waiting.

He'd felt it, too, and yes, Ethan warmed.

And Ethan had given his name, freely and forever, and hushed Ripper
before he could give his own. Pride to believe the name Ethan hung on him
would stick longer than the one he'd been born with. But it had been the
night, and warm, and Ethan had ached, so desperately.

Of course, there was another morning, that last one, when he was alone
in the greying sheets, and waking muzzy -- Ripper had drugged him
insensible -- to the bang of the landlord's fist, yelling for cash. Ethan
had left through the window, and only slowly lost his amusement as
morning after morning had found him quite alone.

And still one more morning, or afternoon, or whatever time when the
light could be quite that garish and unforgiving: a letter. Paper and
platitudes and ice cold resolve under it all. No more. The perfect excuse
to sleep in forever after, and claim the night.

Nothing for him under the sun, and the next time he was offered a name
he would keep it, close and safe and his.


And it's an unfocused sort of desire that strikes.

The truth is that Angel sees almost as many days as nights at this point
in his life, one way or another. Sleep is caught rarely, and on the fly, but
that's all right. Because the days are... nice.

He gets things done, he fights evil below ground, and moves through the
thinner shadows.

And there are people.

That fall into neither the avoid nor eat category, and at first it's only
practical. A balm to his conscience to give Cordelia a job, followed by the
pleased shock that she was intensely good at it -- and willing to be
better. And Doyle... Doyle was a seer, and Doyle was *necessary*. Angel
had to be around him, had to learn.

And when Doyle died there was still Cordelia, and then suddenly Wesley,
all grown up. At least in the sense of being utterly stripped of illusions
about the world. Which is always sad to see, if grimly satisfying.

And Wesley was necessary, too, because there's nothing quite like a
trained Watcher, and he was better with weapons than anyone had any
right to expect, and he had something to prove but was old enough not to
strike out foolishly on his own and then there were no more excuses.

Because there were mornings, with eggs, and bacon, and sometimes
pancakes. He likes the way pancakes smell, he hates the bacon aftersmell.
And, for the most part, there are no visions in the mornings, but there is
a Cordelia.

And while there was always another ancient text to decipher, Wesley
rarely brought them to the breakfast table, and while the two of them
were always armed now, no one's ever showed a weapon between taking a
bite and passing the juice.

Angel likes the smell of juice, too.

And often finds himself sitting there while they talk, marveling at the
amount of food Cordelia can and will consume these days -- and the
thought comes that too many brushes with death make everything
important, and yes, that is true. And Wesley smiles, mouth shut. Probably
in case he has food caught in his teeth. And Angel knows he's just sitting
there, with the world's most foolish grin on his face.

And a wanting on the inside, just for more of *this*.

Just this.