16: Night Game
Chapter 16: Night Game
Xander and Willow walked with the rest of the crowd along the wide edges of the Sunnydale High Football Field. The school was too small to have a real stadium and their opponents tonight came from Palmdale, home of the Fighting Falcons. A night game, the field lights shone brightly over the grassy turf and the stands. As usual, the other team had bussed in their students to rally on the players. The green and white colors were easy to pick out in the sea of burgundy and gold Sunnydale fans.
“Tell me why we’re here again,” Willow asked curiously.
Xander was eyeing the crowd, but could not see the others. “Because Cordelia told us to come.”
“Ah, yes. The all powerful Queen C has spoken.” The redhead was not impressed that Xander was so eager to fulfill any request made by his former girlfriend. Ever since Angelus and Cordelia started going out, he had been acting strangely. Well… more than usual kind of strange.
“We’re here for the game,” Xander told her with a grin. Letting out a loud whoop so the crowd milling about could hear, he shouted, “Go Razorbacks!”
“Since when do you care?” Being his best friend since their days in the sandbox Willow knew Xander was not into football. Cheerleaders were another story, but with the single fluke exception of Cordelia they were not into him.
Xander stared at her for a few seconds trying to come up with a reasonable excuse. Finding none, he opted for the truth. “This is the first chance we have of seeing Fang Boy in public. I wanna see if he makes an ass of himself.”
“Are you referring to Angelus or Angel?”
“I meant Angelus,” Xander admitted, “but it could apply to Angel, too. I’ve never really seen him out in a crowd either except for the Bronze. He usually makes like a shadow and fades into the background.”
Willow knew what he meant. “Angelus isn’t the shadowy type. He’s a little more—”
“In your face?” Xander suggested.
“Yeah. It creeps me out to know Cordelia is in his clutches.”
“If Buffy says it’s okay—”
Xander cut her off, “Buffy did not say it was okay. She made a truce with the vamp. That doesn’t mean she trusts him.”
“Maybe Angelus is in Cordelia’s clutches,” Willow teased. “Ever think of that?”
While Willow and Xander stood in line at the concession stand, Angelus, Angel and Buffy were already seated near the home team 40-yard line just in front of the cheerleaders. Cordelia was down there in her cheerleader outfit issuing orders to her teammates.
Angelus stared down at the field where Cordelia and her group of nubile cheerleaders prepared to warm up the crowd with some opening cheers. “This could be fun.”
“Interesting view from these seats,” Angel commented wryly knowing exactly where his brother’s thoughts were directed.
Letting out an exaggerated blast of laughter, Buffy reminded them that she was still sitting there. Poking at his side with her elbow, she told Angel, “You’re not supposed to ogle the cheerleaders with your girlfriend sitting right next to you.”
“I wasn’t ogling,” Angel denied it. “Just pointing out that these are good seats. We’re near the— uh…middle.”
“Near the cheerleaders, you mean,” Buffy corrected with a wry twist of her lips. “You guys are such…guys.”
Angel was glad to see that Buffy was interacting with him in a less hostile manner than earlier in the week. When his flowers and candy routine came to an end, so did her seeming suspicion that Angel was attempting to make up for something that was not his fault in the first place. She had greeted Angelus and Cordelia coolly that night at the library, but had not mentioned her feelings about their misbehavior in the theater.
“You were a cheerleader,” Angel commented having heard that at some point.
Nodding, Buffy told him. “Before I moved to Sunnydale, at Hemery High. My Slayer duties interfere too much these days and considering the tryouts, I don’t think it was ever a good idea.
Encouraging her to tell them about it, Angel got Buffy talking about the whole tryout fiasco. It was the first time she had ever dealt with a foe whose weapon was magic rather than a pair of fangs.
“Catherine Madison was a witch,” Buffy was explaining. “She did a Freaky Friday with her daughter Amy. Totally body-snatched her so she could relive the good old days as Sunnydale’s champion cheerleader.”
Angel wasn’t certain why Friday was freaky in comparison to the other days of the week, but thought he understood the mystical possibilities of bodysnatching. Or what he assumed to be body-switching in this case.
“Nobody suspected— I mean who would? Next thing we know one of the candidates is going up in flames and Cordelia goes blind during Driver’s Ed.”
Having only been half-listening to the Slayer weave her little tale of woe, Angelus jumped out of his seat and turned his full attention on her. “Blind? This bitch made her go blind?”
“Sheesh! Calm down,” Buffy motioned for him to return to his seat on the bench next to Angel. “Obviously, she’s no longer blind. Though Cordelia nearly bought it that time. She drove through a fence and then walked into the path of an oncoming truck.”
“You saved her,” Angel realized. “What happened to Amy and her mother?”
“Yeah. Where is the witch?” Angelus looked like he wanted to reap some revenge for Cordelia’s sake even though it happened two years ago.
Buffy told them. “Mrs. Madison ended up a victim of her own magic and disappeared. Amy is a rat.”
“A rat?” The twins parroted together drawing a blink or two from Buffy as the mirror images spoke in tandem.
“Long story. That’s one for Willow to tell you,” Buffy revealed with a shrug.
Angelus settled down once he knew that the witch was no longer a threat to Cordelia in any way. He couldn’t get over the thought of what might have happened if the spells had been permanent. “Imagine Cordelia blind and helpless.”
With a snort, Buffy commented dryly, “Cordelia is never helpless. She’s armed with her tongue.”
“And she knows how to use it, too,” Angelus returned smoothly.
“Yeah, she’s a talker,” Buffy agreed and then stalled realizing that she had once again walked right into one of the vampire’s sexually-charged teases. “Oh. That wasn’t what you meant, was it?”
“Eew! Too much information,” Buffy gave him a harsh stare. Then she noticed the approaching figures of her best friends making their way through the crowd and her expression changed, her frown turning upside down into a welcoming smile. “Over here!”
Xander and Willow arrived with snacks and sodas, climbing over legs and feet of the other students to get to their saved seats next to Buffy.
“Is the game over yet?” Willow asked in a hopeful tone.
“Hasn’t started,” Buffy pointed out.
The redhead pouted looking downtrodden at the idea of sitting through an entire game of football. “I was hoping we missed it.”
After the game finally got underway, Angelus looked to the group questioningly as he concluded, “So this is basically a pansy-assed version of Rugby.”
Willow was the one to answer. She chipped in, “Basically.”
Wondering if that was just random trivia, Xander asked, “How would you know?”
“I heard Giles say the same thing when he was here with Ms Calendar,” Willow told him. Then her eyes opened wide as she stared toward Angelus as if the mere mention of the woman he killed would cause him to rip through the crowd in a fit of raging bloodlust.
Xander was obviously thinking the same thing. He could barely get out, “Oh.”
The vampire was leaning forward a bit, his gaze locked on Xander’s silently daring him to say something. When he didn’t, Angelus smirked and then turned his attention back to the field. Xander was not so quick to let go of the thoughts that resurfaced at the mention of Jenny Calendar’s name.
That bastard! Look at him sitting there with that smug expression. A killer in our midst. With Soul Boy sitting next to him treating him like he’s his long lost brother instead of his darker evil half. And Buffy— the Slayer— making truces and double dating with something she should have dusted long ago.
Xander didn’t care if the little voice in his head was starting to sound like Giles Junior. He only knew that Angelus had no right to exist and certainly had no business dating Cordelia Chase.
Buffy was too distracted to notice Xander’s angry stare. She was trying her best not to react to the fact that Angel’s arm was around her shoulder again. Just like at the theater. It wasn’t that she didn’t like his touch. God, no. Normally, having his big, strong arms around her was wonderful.
Just lately it seemed like there was pressure coming at her. So much so that her inner senses seemed to reel in protest when Angel touched her— unless she was the one touching him. Weird. It was just weird. It gave her the wiggins and if it kept up, Cordelia would have the satisfaction of telling her that she had a whole face full of wiggins wrinkles.
This was all Cordelia’s fault. If Cor wasn’t so touchy-feely with Angelus, then she wouldn’t feel she was doing something wrong by not being so publicly demonstrative with Angel either. This was peer pressure of the cheerleader kind.
Maybe it was Angelus’ fault instead. Obviously, Angel saw how Mister Double Trouble was acting around Cordelia. Mister Kissy-Smoochy, Touchy-Feely, Grabby-Gropey had to make Angel feel that he wasn’t giving her enough attention. Mister Flowers and Candy Vampire made Angel think he could buy her forgiveness. Huh. Mister Egomaniac couldn’t take his eyes off Cordelia…and neither could Angel.
At least, it seemed like he kept looking at the brunette. Buffy conceded that it might simply be the fact that from their position on the bench seating, Cordelia was directly in front of them. Stealing a sideways glance, Buffy found to her embarrassment that Angel was actually looking down at her instead.
It’s a good thing vampires can’t read minds.
“Something bothering you?” Angel inquired thoughtfully.
“No,” she was quick to respond.
Angel frowned slightly. “It’s just that you have that look.”
“The look you get when you’re about to stake something.”
Buffy stared back with surprise on her face. “I don’t have a look like that.”
Sensing some tension, Xander swallowed his last bite of chili cheese dog and piped up with, “Speaking of looks…Cordelia sure looks great out there.”
“Keep your eyeballs to yourself, Harris,” threatened Angelus almost pleasantly. “Otherwise, I might have to hand them to you so you can keep better track of them.”
“Did I say Cor? I meant Harmony. Harm sure looks great out there,” Xander lifted a finger to point out the blonde who was blowing kisses to a passing football player from the other team.
Angelus barely noticed Xander’s response. He had gotten into the game and jumped to his feet so suddenly that the others reacted with surprise at the move.
“Hit him!” Angelus yelled so loudly that Angel felt his ears ring. The corner guard was face to face with his opponent attempting to block the oncoming blitz, but he merely held the other player off rather than tackling him to the ground. “Hit him harder than that. Shove him into the ground.”
Buffy exchanged a concerned look with Angel. “Next time, please talk Cordelia into picking something with less of a chance of bloodshed.”
“Angelus could turn Chinese Checkers into an act of bloodshed given half a chance.”
Not even noticing their exchange, Angelus turned his attention to the quarterback who seemed to be dancing uncertainly in the pocket. His receivers were all covered down field. There was a small opportunity to rush down the middle. Angelus saw it, but the quarterback failed to react.
“No! Don’t throw it away,” Angelus shouted toward the field. As the ball was tossed in the direction of the sideline, the vampire growled, “Wimp.”
A time out was called by the Razorbacks who were down 21-7 just before the half. The group of Falcons fans sitting in front of them were cheering and slapping each other with high-fives. One of them, having overheard Angelus yelling at the guy from the home team, decided a little heckling might be in order.
“Gotta agree with ya, bud,” the burly middle-aged man told Angelus. “The Razorback quarterback is a wimp. He can’t take a hit and he probably can’t keep track of his own balls much less the one made of pigskin.”
The others watched warily as Angelus responded to the man’s remarks. “Normally, I’d tie your tongue in a knot…bud. Ya see, it’s okay for me to call my player a wimp because he’s mine. You on the other hand have no freakin’ business coming to my territory making derogatory remarks.”
Angel cleared his throat catching his double’s attention. Giving him a look that told the other vampire to shut up, he hoped Angelus would sit down without resorting to violence over a football game.
“You’re twins, huh?” The guy stared back and forth at the identical faces, although he was quick to note that one looked significantly angrier than the other. Getting the feeling that his friendly heckling had gone too far, he decided to change the topic to something any red-blooded male would enjoy. “Speaking of twins…my favorite part of the game is watching the way those cheerleaders bounce. Check out that one. The brunette. She can shake her pom-poms at me anytime.”
The next five seconds passed in a flash. Angelus lunged at the human who had dared to make suggestive comments about Cordelia only to reel back in agonizing pain. His twin grabbed for the other vampire pulling him back to the bench and simultaneously latching on to the Falcon fan’s green and white jersey. Buffy launched herself to her feet thinking she was going to be stopping Angelus when now it looked like Angel was the one needing to maintain control. In their places further down the bench, Willow and Xander merely gaped openly at the scene before them.
Gazing down at the human with eyes rimmed with gold, Angel fought for control as he felt the urge to vamp out. “You have one minute to haul your ass to another part of this football field. Any longer than that and you will be sorry for opening your mouth.”
Angel released him, causing the man to stumble against the guy next to him spilling his half empty soda on the ground. Seeing that Angel was not going to kill the guy, Buffy moved over to see to Angelus who was still holding onto his head and moaning in pain.
“Angelus,” she began in a somewhat worried tone. “This is what happens? You didn’t even touch him. It was just the thought that triggered the pain.”
“Fucking Fates,” Angelus mumbled as he shook off the pain and straightened himself on the bench.
The Falcons fan and his buddies weren’t about to stick around for explanations or apologies. At Angel’s continued death glare, they grabbed their stuff and took off down the steps. As they disappeared, several Razorback fans cheered their departure. “Way to go, man! Teach them to mess with Queen C’s boyfriend.”
Someone had obviously seen Angelus with Cordelia before, realized Angel. He scanned the crowd, but did not see who had made the comments. Then he turned his attention to his double.
“I didn’t realize the pain would be so severe,” he told Angelus.
“What did you expect?” The other vampire practically growled in response. “Just a tickle every time I get the urge to kill someone?”
Buffy switched places with Angel again. “I’d say the Fates’ leash was nicely intact.”
“What the hell is going on?” Cordelia’s voice came from the steps beside their row. Having kept an eye on the group from the sidelines, she saw the entire scuffle and the Falcons fans’ hasty departure. Closer now, Cordelia noticed the look of pain on her vampire’s face and her irate expression immediately softened into one of utter love and concern. “Angelus?”
Rising to his feet, Angelus swept her into his arms covering her mouth in a kiss of pure possessiveness. He branded her mouth with his own sweeping across the slant of her lips with his tongue and encroaching into her warm and welcoming cavern. Crushed against his chest, Cordelia wound her arms around Angelus’ neck holding him just as tight and returning his kiss with equal passion.
Wolf-whistles sounded around them, ignored completely by the kissing couple. Eventually, Angelus let her up for air only to stare down at her with a gaze so intense that Cordelia was mesmerized by its power. She was about to lean in for more when Buffy’s voice cut through the warm haze surrounding her like an icy rain.
“Shouldn’t you be down on the field? Halftime cheerleader antics are coming up.” Buffy could care less about seeing Cordelia climb to the apex of the pyramid. She had to say something, anything to put an end to that tongue-dueling kiss.
Cordelia didn’t bother responding to Buffy. She was totally focused on Angelus. “Wow! What brought that on?”
“He was jealous,” Xander revealed feeling somewhat queasy after watching Angelus macking on his former girlfriend. Unless that was the chili cheese dog.
Asking, “Jealous of what?” Cordelia looked from Xander to Angelus who refused to reveal why he felt it so necessary to claim her in front of half of Sunnydale with that scorching kiss.
“Everyone,” Willow chimed in.
Glancing at up Angelus again, Cordelia smiled in reaction at the idea. “Jealous of everyone? Why?”
“For staring,” the vampire told her with a growl. “All of ’em watching you bounce around down there. I was doing fine until that prick from Palmdale made comments about you.”
Rolling her eyes, Cordelia pursed her lips. “Let me guess. It was something about my boobs, right? One of the trials of being a cheerleader.”
“As of right now, you can hang up your pom-poms. No more cheerleading if I have to put up with guys leering at you.”
“Pfft! Do I have to remind you that you like this outfit?” Cordelia was obviously amused and didn’t seem to take his demand to quit cheerleading very seriously.
Angelus did like the cheerleading outfit. Unfortunately, “So does everyone else, apparently.”
“Let ’em look,” shrugged Cordy. “You’re the one who gets to take me home.”
With a smirk, Angelus had to agree he had the better deal. “There is that.”
“Careful,” Buffy warned the vamp. “Cordelia is known to twist minds like pretzels. Soon, you’ll think it was your idea to let her back on the field.”
Xander and Willow started laughing as they saw Cordelia’s smile widen into megawatt brilliance. She obviously knew the effect she could have and it didn’t take Buffy to point it out to anyone. “Would I do that?”
Her friends all answered, “Yes.”
Then Cordelia was laughing in response.
“It wasn’t funny,” Angelus pointed out to her. “That bastard was saying things about the way you bounced when you were doing your cheers. And then when you all did that dance it really got out of hand.”
Leaning in to him again, Cordelia suggested, “How about if I dance just for you later on?”
Angelus thought he might go for this kind of deal. “How much later?”
“After the game.” Still laughing softly, “When we get home.”
“I can deal with that,” Angelus responded as he closed the short distance between them to kiss her again.
Buffy rolled her eyes in reaction. Down the row, Xander was having more stomach trouble. Couldn’t be jealousy. It was really just indigestion. Blushing, Willow found herself wondering whether Oz might enjoy a private dance.
The redhead wasn’t the only one turning the suggestion into something personal. Angel couldn’t stop the rush of images that popped into his head of Cordelia stripping down to her skin. Just for him. The thought made him hard and Angel silently cursed himself for his traitorous imagination.
It should be Buffy dancing that sexy shimmy in his head, not Cordelia. He had no right to think of Cordelia getting naked for him. Certainly no right to think of all of the ways he would take her once her beautiful body was bare. So what if he’d never actually seen her unclothed body— his two hundred plus years of experience could fill in a few details for his overactive imagination.
Angel berated himself for having lustful thoughts about his brother’s lover. This was unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. Buffy knew how to dance and he had seen her put on her little show with Xander at the Bronze just to make him jealous. Where the hell had that gone? Now Buffy was more likely to demand sex than try to tease him into giving it to her. She seemed to prefer getting straight to business and taking care of her basic needs. He always had to make her come twice before she’d even think about letting go or trying something different.
They had been sitting through this game with her talking to Willow and Xander more than him. Almost to the point of ignoring him, which only pissed him off even more. Angelus was too into the violence of the game or keeping an eye on Cordelia to make any attempt at conversation.
Then again, Angel had done quite a bit of watching himself, so maybe he needed to keep his complaints to himself.
Cordelia seemed to sense his troubled thoughts. “Not enjoying the game?”
“No,” he admitted.
Grinning knowingly, Cordelia suggested, “Next time we’ll do something you want to do.”
“I get to pick?” He asked the question almost eagerly.
“Sure,” Cordelia answered with a shrug. She glanced at Angelus and Buffy pointing out, “Nobody said I had to make up all the rules and pick the places.”
Buffy let out an indelicate snort in response.
“You can pick, too,” she told the blonde.
“What about me?” Angelus asked. “I could suggest a few ideas.”
Raising an eyebrow, Cordelia suggested that some of his ideas might not be suitable for public discussion. “We’ll talk about it, Bad Boy.”
Xander let out a snigger as Cordelia called the vamp Bad Boy. It made Angelus sound like he was naughty Little Jack Horner about to be sent to his chair in the corner. Although, he had to admit, the inflection in her voice gave it a different meaning altogether.
“Why do you call him that?” Xander wondered aloud, scratching his head. “If you’re so intent on us thinking he’s one of the good guys… why say that?”
Cordelia blushed. “I have to get back to the field.”
It wasn’t like Cordelia to run out on a question. Xander watched her escape down the steps. Angel sat down on the bench trying to ignore his own Bad Boy while thinking he had put up with Cordelia calling his double that pet name long enough without adding Xander’s clueless questions to the mix.
Angelus merely smirked at the teenager. “You’re as thickheaded as you look, Harris.”