“You had sex with Darla?” Buffy made the mother of all ‘ewww’ faces, to which Cordelia nodded, in total agreement,
“Exactly my reaction, but we got that little guy out of it so…”
It seemed that Buffy was dealing a hell of a lot better than she had before. Of course she wigged – who wouldn’t. Seeing your ex-honey in the process of going down on someone you thought you hated wasn’t exactly fun.
Unfortunately, Connor had taken quite a shine to the slayer – or her finger at least – his little fist wrapped round it like it did Cordelia’s and he jammed it in his mouth, babbling happily.
“You can so tell he’s your kid…” Said Willow with a smile, glancing at Angel.
The grin that spread across his face made Buffy laugh and for the first time since they’d got to LA instead of jealousy burning through her, an ache started inside. Had he ever smiled like that for her? She remembered smiles, sure… But never this.
She could leave herself locked firmly in Denial Land and tell herself that it was all Connor, that just like her Mom and Dad had gotten sappy over Dawn, this was what had happened here. But it wasn’t – and right now, Buffy wasn’t sure she wanted to be seeing this – someone else making Angel happier than she ever could.
Angel, however, wasn’t stupid – noticed the shift in her demeanour, how guarded she looked again – she always did that. In some ways, Cordelia was a lot like her. If there was something she either couldn’t, or didn’t want to deal with, she’d guard herself – tell the world that she was fine and go off, deal alone.
Of course, the fact that he did it too – and had done particularly with Darla wasn’t a factor here. “When Darla got turned again, it felt like everything I had worked for had been for nothing. I gave up.”
It wasn’t exactly easy for Angel to admit this, especially in front of Buffy and her friends – even Cordelia was shocked at how open he was being about it,
“I’m not proud of what I did, of what happened to my friends while I was… Gone. I hurt the people I loved the most but out of it I got a son, a family and it makes me happy.”
“Ohh, come on…” Xander, still having major trouble with the ‘Angel as a Father’ concept, shook his head, “Is anyone forgetting that this man, back in his day, was the definitive bloodsucking fiend?”
“Ohh, not you too!” Said the youngest Summers’ girl, frowning, “It’s bad enough that you’re on Spike’s case ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time… Can’t you leave at least one of them alone?”
“Not but! God,” Said Dawn, snarkily, “Be nice!”
Xander pouted, “So the guy has a kid, what – are we supposed to fall all over him now?”
“Ah, the baby thing…” Said Anya, “Xander hasn’t even took a second look at Connor. He knows that his eyes will fill with… That thing we call, fear.”
“I’ve looked at Connor! He’s… He’s cute and… Baby like!” Xander was desperate to try and cover the fact that Anya was right, not so much so that he’d look again at the child of the evil undead of course, but he could try.
“Xander,” Said Dawn, the picture of innocence, “What colour jumpsuit is Connor wearing?”
“Uh… Uh… Red?”
“Purple.” Dawn grinned, having proved Anya’s point. “Why can’t you look at him? He’s so cute and… Cute!” She cooed over the baby in Buffy’s arms before looking back at Xander, who hadn’t yet answered the question.
“I’ll tell you why!” Said Anya, “Because the minute you mention the word ‘baby’ or ‘diaper’ Xander gets this look on his face. This look which clearly states, ‘I shirk responsibility of all kinds’…”
“I do not shirk responsibility! I have a home, a regular income…”
“And you run at the first sign of the diaper stall in the Mini-Mart… Face it Xander, you… are… a… wimp.” Said Anya, punctuating every word.
The Scoobies sniggered, the Fang Gang tittered until finally, Cordelia stood and held her arms out to Connor, “As much as I’d love to stay and witness this particular bickerfest, I’m starting to smell something that’s increasingly not pleasant…”
Waiting until Cordelia had gone to the office with Connor, Willow slid along the seat she’d previously shared with Buffy, Cordelia and Tara, so she was sitting next to her friend,
“Should I start the vilifying and grousing now?” She asked softly, “Or should I wait until we leave?”
The slayer turned, “It’s not that I’m not happy for them, I really am but…”
“It’s hard, seeing him be happy with someone.” Finished Willow, nodding, “I get that.”
“It’s just – did it have to be her?” Asked Buffy quietly, “I mean, he could have picked anyone and he picked her…”
“Be honest Buffy,” Said Willow gently, “If you had been able to look into the future and see that Angel was with someone else down the line, who would it have been? Would anyone have been good enough?”
Raising an eyebrow, Buffy stared, “You?”
An easy grin slid onto Willow’s face and she laughed, “Hello, kinda gay, remember? Besides, even if you had chosen me, I still wouldn’t have been good enough… It’s the whole, ‘I’m the ex and you’re new’ thing.”
Buffy knew she was right – of course she did. Sighing, she watched as Angel got up to join Cordelia and felt Willow’s hand slide over hers, “She makes them happier than I ever did…” She said gently.
Willow shook her head, “No, she doesn’t. For a start, the hair’s all the wrong colour. Angel loves BLONDES… And… She has no special fighty powers, or at least she had considerably less than you and she can’t do that thing with your mouth that you can do…”
“Will?” Buffy interrupted, looking at her friend, “What’re you doing?”
“Being supportive friend. Telling you how wrong for him she is.”
“That’s just it.” Said Buffy softly, “She’s not wrong for him.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind us crashing here?” Buffy looked at Cordelia who was helping her change the sheets on one of the beds in the hotel, “I mean we could go somewhere else…”
“Are you kidding me?” Asked Cordelia, “68 rooms, 66 vacancies. You could have a room for each one of your outfits… Y’know, if you wanted to.” She laughed, placing the finishing touches in the room that was strategically placed as far away from Angel’s as possible.
Buffy’s request, not her own. “Wait ’til Connor grows up, he’ll have one room for every girlfriend he brings back here.”
“He will not…” Said Angel, instantly, a growl slipping from his lips.
“See, can you say overprotective much?” Cordelia yelped as Angel pulled her into his arms and kissed her, tenderly, leaving Buffy to cough, trying to grab their attention.
“Angel, uhm… Are Tara and Will talking to Wesley?”
The en-souled vampire pulled back, embarrassed – having almost forgotten Buffy was in the room. He loosened his grip on Cordelia but didn’t let her go, stood with his arm locked firmly around her waist,
“Yeah, they’re discussing the spell.”
“Soul-spell…” Said Angel, shuffling nervously on his feet.
“Oh- that spell, huh?” Buffy nodded, “Guess I should go, see what I can do…” She slipped out of the room, her cheeks pink and flushed.
It wasn’t that she was embarrassed, not really – it was that right back in there, she was watching as Angel kissed someone else, hugged Cordelia the way he never had her. She made her way back downstairs to where Xander and Anya were arguing not-so-good-naturedly about babies, to where Dawn, Tara and Willow sat in the office discussing soul spells…
“Can I help? I want to help,” Said Dawn, glancing up as her sister came in the room, knowing full well that that had shot *any* chances Dawn had of helping. Dawn was fragile… Pfft, yeah…
“No.” Said Buffy, Tara, Willow and Wesley in unison, making Dawn frown. “Guys, I’m almost 16 years old! Come on!”
“No.” Came the automated reply. Wesley looked at the girls, “So, you think you can help, yes?”
Nodding, Tara spoke softly, “It won’t be easy. But we’ll try… We can give you that much.”
Wesley smiled, “Thank you. For this, I mean.”
The girls nodded, until Dawn’s gaze drifted up to Buffy’s and she moved, crossing the room to stand with her sister, “Buffy?”
“I’m fine.” Smiled the slayer, turning slightly, “It’s just…”
“Yeah.” Said Buffy, “Mondo-weirdness. But I’ll deal, I always do.”
“I think she’s dealing well, under the circumstances…”
“Excuse me?” Cordelia arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow and stared at Angel, “You think she’s dealing well? Are we in the same hotel?”
“What? She is!” Said Angel, “She’s…”
“Pretending.” Said Cordelia, “Think how you’d felt if you walked in on… I dunno, me and Groo and he was going down on me – would you be pleased?”
Angel growled. He could still hear Cordelia’s “I love you” back in Pylea to which Angel thought his heart, though unbeating, might burst from – and then her, “Not you, dumbass, HIM! I love him!” Groo. All teeth and… Stupid hair and…
“Hello?” Cordelia looked at him, “Earth to Angel, anyone home?”
His gaze slid up to meet hers and he sighed, “Will she be okay?”
Cordelia, as brutally honest as always, shrugged her shoulders, “Not your problem any more, Angel. Buffy’s a big girl… Did she care about you with Riley? Or Spike?”
“Angel, breathe. You’re turning colours.”
“She had sex with Spike?” Angel’s eyes were wide as he tried to process THAT bit of information, “Buffy… Had… Sex… With… Spike?”
“Did I say that? ALMOST – she *almost* had sex with Spike. That demon thing they came here for? A lust demon… Buffy managed to stop herself…”
“Oh,” Said Angel, “Right.”
“Were you jealous?”
“What? No.” Said Angel, firmly. “Just…”
Cordelia smiled, “It’s ‘the whole ex-thing’ huh?”
Angel grinned, “At least you know what I’m talking about, I saw Xander checking you out while we were downstairs…”
“Angel!” Cordelia raised a hand to punch him, which he promptly grabbed, pinning her against the wall with a grin and a growl,
“You’re fast, Chase, but not that fast…”
Grinning, Cordelia raised a hand to unbutton his shirt, peppering kisses on his neck, “Really? I thought I was pretty quick…”
Angel groaned as her tongue flicked across his skin, grinning to himself…
“Didn’t you hear me right? I want this soddin’ chip out NOW…” Growled the vampire, hurling the Doctor against the wall. Thankfully, the Doctor was a demon so Spike *could* get his point across, quite effectively, point of fact.
Dr. Gregson frowned, “It’s not as simple as…”
“I’m making it as simple,” Growled Spike, “Now – can’t stay long. Got to go find a girl… She reckons I’m beneath her, Doc… I’m gonna show her just how beneath her I really am.”
His smirk widened and the terrified Doctor nodded, “O-okay, take a seat…”