15: Flowers & Candy
Chapter 15: Flowers & Candy
Angel pressed a finger to the Summers’ doorbell, holding one hand hidden behind his back. Bearing a bouquet of flowers and coming over for a spontaneous visit had to be up there on the list of romantic things to do. Even if Cordelia carefully scrutinized his choice of flowers before he left the mansion picking out the ones she didn’t like and rearranging them into a more pleasing array, Angel felt certain it was a good thing.
The door opened to reveal Xander Harris rather than Buffy or her mother. Eyeing him coolly, Angel gave a curt nod. “Harris.”
“Angel,” the teenager answered just as brusquely. It was their usual greeting, now almost habitual.
Noting that the dark-haired youth wasn’t moving out of the way, Angel asked, “Are you going to let me in?”
Xander shrugged, “As far as I know we haven’t cast any invitation revocation spells lately.”
Swinging the door open, Xander stepped out of the way.
“Where is Buffy?” Angel saw no sign of her in the living room.
“Upstairs changing her clothes,” Xander explained matter-of-factly as he headed back over to the couch where he plunked himself down. “Wrong outfit for patrol.”
Xander put his feet on the coffee table and picked up the box of chocolate candy lying on the seat cushion next to him. Seeing this, Angel reacted with a start. That pretentious little upstart had his hands on something that did not belong to him. It was out of the question that Buffy would treat his gift so carelessly. He’d left it on the porch last night with a romantic note.
Now Xander Harris sat there with his fingers dipping into the nearly empty box. The boy better not have read the note, too. Demanding furiously, “What are you doing?”
“Obvious, much?” Xander rolled his eyes at the vampire. “Eating candy. Chocolaty goodness.”
“Those are for Buffy.” The vampire’s jaw was fixed in a tight expression of anger. It was all he could do to restrain himself from snatching the box out of Xander’s hands.
Popping another candy into his mouth, Xander tried to cover up his sniggering. “So that’s what Buffy meant. You gave them to her.”
Angel found this response contrary his expectations. “You’re laughing.”
“Obvious again,” Xander continued to laugh just enough to aggravate the vampire.
The boy had always been a thorn in Angel’s side. Time hadn’t changed that. He was an irritant that wouldn’t go away. “Explain.”
Shaking his head solemnly, Xander responded, “Can’t tell you. Vow of silence.”
“Harris,” the name was spoken warningly.
Staring at the vampire’s dark and serious expression, Xander decided that the candy wasn’t worth his life. “The Buffster said the candy was just a bribe. Something about making up for somebody else’s bad behavior.”
In disbelief, Angel gaped at him in fury. “Buffy told you that?”
“Yep. Good listener, that’s me.” A little nervous, Xander rose from the couch and walked around to the other side of the coffee table.
Stalking up to him despite the teenager’s efforts to move away, Angel pulled out the bouquet of flowers from behind his back and shoved them at Xander’s chest. “Tell Buffy I stopped by.”
Wide-eyed and a little relieved that the vampire hadn’t taken out his anger with his fists, Xander glanced down at the flowers and quipped, “Does this mean we’re going steady?”
Angel sent him a death stare.
The vampire was in the process of opening the door when Buffy called out to him from the top of the stairs. “Angel, are you here for patrol?”
Taking in a reflexive, but unnecessary deep breath, Angel let it out as a deep sigh before turning around to face her. Immediately, he found himself softening toward her. So this was her idea of changing for patrol? Her sexy, but sensible Slaying outfit was enough to make him take the bait.
Truthfully, he answered, “No, actually. I came for you. Thought we’d do something together.”
Descending the stairs, Buffy’s blond hair bounced on her shoulders. She gave him a sad-eyed stare, cringing at the fact that she would have to turn him down. “I can’t. Giles needs me to make an early patrol and head back to the library.”
With a shrug, she commented, “Some prophesy date is coming up soon and Giles wants us to start in on the preliminary research. Willow is supposed to join us later. She’s out with Oz tonight.”
Angel considered telling Buffy her comments about the candy pissed him off. That wasn’t exactly the way to start a romantic evening. Even though it appeared that the romantic part was going to be cut off or severely delayed. “I see you got the candy.”
Probing a bit, “Liked it?”
Squirming, Buffy had to admit, “Actually, I haven’t had any yet.”
Xander piped up, “I left one or two pieces.”
Looking over at her friend, Buffy realized that he was holding a bouquet. “Flowers?”
Gripping onto them, Xander joked, “They’re mine. Angel and I are going steady now.”
“Congratulations,” Buffy responded with a wry quip.
Taking the flowers away from Xander who gave her a look of mock disappointment, the blonde immediately made the same connection with the flowers that she had with the candy. It was unlike Angel to give her random romantic tokens. This was so far removed from the very real feelings that surrounded his giving her the Claddagh ring on her birthday.
“Angel, they’re gorgeous,” she gave him a little smile.
“I thought so.” Then adding smoothly, “Just like the one I bought them for.”
Xander gagged at that line. He couldn’t resist saying, “I am kinda cute and lovable. Thanks, Angel honey.”
Laughing aloud, Buffy thwacked Xander on the arm with the bouquet sending a few petals flying.
“You leaving anytime soon?” Angel asked him with a frown.
“On patrol with Buffy.”
Putting the flowers down on the coffee table, Buffy picked up her tote bag of Slayer supplies. Asking Angel, “You coming?”
“No. Seems like you already have a sidekick for the evening.” Angel wasn’t about to put himself in a position of dealing with Xander Harris half the night.
Pouting, Buffy was torn between being irritated with Angel for his attempts at trying get her to forget about the movie theater and thinking that post-slayage activities with Xander were not in the same category. Not that she had ever gotten herself into a frantic state unless Angel was present. It seemed like this would be routine patrol with a chaser of research.
“See you at the library later?”
He was tempted to tell her to forget it. “Later. I’ll find out if Angelus and Cordelia want to stop by to help out.”
Noting her lack of enthusiasm over the idea, Angel queried, “Is there a problem?”
Waiting a few seconds, Angel allowed Buffy time to rethink her quick response. It didn’t surprise him at all when she brought up yesterday evening.
Buffy crossed her arms over her chest, looking at him with a mixture of discomfort and annoyance. “It’s just that I can’t believe that they would do what they did.”
Xander was clueless. Curiously, he asked, “Do what?”
Both Slayer and vampire ignored the question. Buffy commented, “It was stupid and dangerous and gross.”
“Sounds like patrol,” Xander hazarded a guess.
Still looking straight at Angel, Buffy emphasized, “In the movie theater.”
Angel let her rant. In the meantime, Xander kept plugging in little queries trying to get more information. “Patrol in the movie theater?” That doesn’t sound right. Got my wires crossed somewhere.
“Stop staring at me like I’m insane, Angel.” Buffy tagged on, “They might have been caught.”
Xander suddenly connected the dots, a look of horror dawning in his eyes.. “I don’t want to ask anymore questions, do I?”
Angel turned to him, having heard every single query. Feeling a protective urge as he thought of his family, the vampire let out a soft growl. “No, you don’t. Cordy and Angelus are none of your business.”
“Can’t even be a little nosy about my own ex-girlfriend,” Xander muttered low under his breath.
“Emphasis on EX,” Angel responded sharply.
Xander glared at the vampire and muttered some more. “Superhuman hearing. That is so unfair.”
In a commanding tone Angel issued an order and would brook no refusal. “Meet us outside, Xander.”
Turning obediently, Xander headed out the front door while still muttering under his breath. “Bossy vampires.”
Buffy waited until Angel had closed the door behind him. Sounding cross and more than a little confused, she demanded that he change his attitude. “Don’t be mean to Xander.”
“I wasn’t,” Angel pointed out. “Just trying to give us a minute or two of privacy.”
Thinking maybe it was a good thing after all, Buffy asked him, “What’s the problem? The fact that I am disgusted by Cor’s behavior at the movie theater or just the fact that Xander ate your candy?”
Angel stiffened at her snippy tone. “Your disgust is a bit judgmental and hypocritical, Buffy.”
“What?!” She couldn’t believe he would say that to her. “I’m a hypocrite?”
“Can you count the times we’ve had to back off from our own primal urges? All those times in one of the cemeteries where I nearly had you up against a tombstone or a crypt?” Then Angel focused on her own lustful reactions. “How about the times you practically attacked me before your friends were out of sight? Tell me, Buffy, if my soul was bound back then can you honestly say we would have stopped?”
Buffy reeled at the questions. Even if Angel wasn’t yelling, there was an underlying fury that welled up to the surface noticeable in his expression and tone. Defensively, she countered, “There is a huge difference between an abandoned cemetery at 2am compared to a busy movie theater during the evening showing.”
He was standing close, towering above her, making her Slayer senses tingle madly as a result of his response. “Is it really the public location that disgusts you or is it just that fact that Cordelia is having sex with Angelus?”
Faltering without a quick comeback, Buffy answered shakily, “N-No.”
“So that’s it,” Angel’ s voice softened into a near gasp of surprise. Looking a little slack-jawed, he commented, “You’re jealous.”
“What? No! Am not!”
Angel heard her heart racing at the thought. “You’re jealous of the fact that Cordelia is with Angelus. He’s not me, Buffy.”
Answering quickly, “I know that.”
“Is it because he looks like me?” Angel wondered aloud. Could it be something else? “That you’re picturing Cordelia with me?”
Buffy shuffled her feet. “Maybe. I can’t help it. Angelus looks exactly like you and he’s all over her like frosting on a cinnamon bun.”
Melting, sweet, sticky and hot.
Raising a dark brow at her comparison, Angel was almost relieved that he wasn’t the only one imagining Cordelia draped across him. Though he doubted Buffy’s ideas were anywhere near as X-rated as his own. What was he supposed to do now? Lie? Tell her that he had never imagined Cordelia with himself?
“I can’t pretend that the sight of them together is not disconcerting. I’m still getting used to the idea that Angelus is his own person, much less that he has claimed Cordelia,” he admitted without the graphic details.
“Claimed her?” Confused by the terminology, Buffy sought clarification. “You mean that because they’re dating. Or do you mean that he took over your claim?”
Angel reeled at the question. “I have no claim on Cordelia.”
Frowning, Buffy was certain that was what she was told. “You did. That’s what Cor said.”
“Cordelia said that I claimed her?” If that was information she shared with Buffy, it was certain that the brunette didn’t know the true meaning of being claimed by a vampire. She’d know the difference if Angelus had told her what the tattoo meant. Still, he found himself curious. “What exactly did she say?
Unable to remember the exact words, Buffy paraphrased from her memory. “I think it was something about vampires being naturally possessive and that technically we all belong to you. Except Cordelia, of course, now that Angelus is around.”
“Of course.” A dark shadow passed across Angel’s face expressing his discontent at that last add on. “Something like that.”
Buffy found the concept disconcerting. “People don’t belong to other people. Not like that in an ownership kind of way. People certainly don’t belong to vampires.”
“It’s not necessarily about ownership, Buffy,” he attempted to explain. “It has just as much to do with protection as possession.”
“So she was right about it? That Angelus had to ask you for permission to have Cordelia?” After a short pause, Buffy added, “I thought it was just advice.”
Caught in his lie, Angel admitted, “It was both.”
Annoyed, Buffy couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed. “Permission, Angel? And you gave it? To Angelus.”
“I thought we covered this ground already.”
“Then move past it, Buffy,” he urged her to forget about the idea despite the fact that his own voice notched up with each sentence. “Yes, I gave my permission. Cordy and Angelus are together. He’s claimed her as his own and there’s not a fucking thing I can do about it even if I wanted to.”
Wide-eyed, Buffy realized that she was not the only one sounding a little jealous. “Ooookay. You never cuss, Angel. A little anger management might be a good thing right now. I made peace with Cordelia and Angelus. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Angel felt exasperated at Buffy’s continued reluctance to move on with their lives. “Can you give them a chance? The same chance I want for us.”
Sounding a little guilty, Buffy told him, “It’s different.”
“No, it’s not. Cordy has feelings for Angelus.”
“She loves him,” Buffy revealed with a grumble.
Standing as still as the grave, Angel felt gutted by those three simple words. Quietly, he inquired, “She told you that?”
Shrugging, Buffy said, “Yeah.”
“I suppose I knew that.” Why did he suddenly feel like howling? Angel felt his chest burn as though he was holding his breath and forgot to let it go. In some far corner of his brain, Angel had known it all along.
Buffy gave him an odd look. “Why would you?”
It made sense. “Cordelia is the type to put everything she’s got into a relationship, whether that is love or friendship.”
Thinking it strange that Angel knew Cordelia well enough to make that judgment, Buffy realized that his words could also be a reflection on her. “Oh. So what are you saying? That I don’t?”
Angel dragged himself out of deeper thoughts. “No, Buffy. You have some other priorities, but I think we could have something more than what we do if you would give it a chance.”
“Sex in movie theaters?” Buffy queried sarcastically.
“I’m not just talking about sex, but that is a part of it,” Angel acknowledged.
Buffy couldn’t believe that Angel was taking this entire incident so casually. “How can you stand there and tell me you accept what they did? This is all Angelus’ influence. Even Cordelia isn’t that much of a slut.”
“Don’t call her that!” Angel snapped.
“I didn’t say she was one,” Buffy responded while thinking Angel was quick to leap to Cordelia’s defense. “I said she wasn’t.”
Pointing out with a harsh stare, “It didn’t sound that way.”
“Sheesh!” Buffy thought Angel should worry about something that really mattered. “What if Angelus talks her into something else? Something more dangerous. He is a demon, you know.”
“Oh, I know.”
Obviously forgetting for the moment that he was also part demon himself, Buffy was on a roll with her rant. “What if he hurts her?”
“Enough with the ‘What If’ scenarios,” Angel demanded. “They have nothing to do with reality. Angelus has never touched Cordelia in any way that didn’t give her pleasure.”
She looked at him doubtfully. “You can’t be certain of that.”
“I know it for a fact.”
“I can hear them, Buffy. Their bedroom is almost directly above mine.”
Gasping, Buffy’s mouth fell open. “You hear them!”
Angel suddenly wished that he hadn’t taken the argument in this direction. “I’m not spying if that’s what you’re worried about. My hearing is sensitive. Especially when the rest of the mansion is quiet— and they’re not.”
“Omigod! Talk about embarrassing.”
Wondering if he should tell her that it worked both ways, Angel decided against it. If she was angry at Angelus and Cordelia about their spontaneous lovemaking in the movie theater, she would really throw a gasket if she knew Angelus joked about their own bedroom antics. “I usually stay down on the ground floor. It’s not quite as obvious with the two story difference.”
Blinking at him, Buffy found her curiosity suddenly overwhelming. “W-What do they do?”
Hardly believing that Buffy asked him that question, Angel told her, “I’m not sure you want to know, but if you do just tell me. I’d rather show you.”
Blushing, Buffy was almost certain that she did not want to take her curiosity that far. “Uh…I’m late for patrol.”
Angel was unsurprised by her attempt to escape. “Xander is waiting. Impatiently, I might add. He’s wearing a hole in your front lawn with the pacing.”
As they emerged from the house, closing and locking the door behind them, Xander greeted them with a look of irritation. “Took you long enough.”
Buffy hoped her face wasn’t too red. “I’m ready. Let’s start with Restfield and we’ll work our way over to Old Sunnydale Cemetery.”
Xander nodded his agreement with the plan. Not that he would ever question it.
Turning back to him, Buffy asked, “See you later, Angel?”
Watching Buffy and her irritating sidekick head down the street, Angel decided that wooing the Chosen One was going take more work than he originally thought. He obviously needed to change tactics. Buffy was apparently not the flowers and candy type of girl.
There had to be something else he could do to bring a little variety into their lives. Cordy and Angelus certainly were having a fun time with their relationship and that included the hours they didn’t spend in bed together. This Double Dating business was supposed to provide bonding moments according to Cordelia, but that didn’t mean every outing had to include the other couple.
In fact, Angel would be glad of some time apart from the overly-happy pair. He and Buffy needed to spend some time alone together. If they were ever to establish what seemed to come so naturally to Angelus and Cordelia, this was going to take more effort than he had ever had to drum out for a woman.