Bad Timing. 14

Part 14: Memory Lane

So the make them jealous plan wasn’t the best idea.

Cordelia didn’t know why she’d thought it would work. Angel and Buffy hadn’t seemed overcome with jealousy when Cordy and Spike had been on stage.

There had been no tenseness. Angel had appeared vaguely confused and there was no screaming “Get your hands of my man,” from Buffy. She seemed more concerned with relieving her bladder and Angel looked as if he was more bothered by the singing, rather than Spike and Cordelia singing TOGETHER.

They’d both run off before the “I’ve Got You Babe” encore. And I do a mean Cher.

It hadn’t been a total bust thought. She’d had a blast, everyone in the club had offered to buy the two of them drinks, and when Angel came back from wherever he had been, he sat down in the empty chair next to her, much to Buffy’s chagrin.

“Next time I complain about that little vacation I took to Hell, remind me of what I just witnessed,” Angel whispered in her ear, as Xander exited the stage, following an agonizing rendition of “Born in the USA.”

Cordelia giggled. “So you’re saying that hundreds of years of unspeakable torture…”

“Is nothing compared to what has to be the most frightening impression of Bruce Springsteen I have ever been forced to listen to,” Angel concluded.

They both looked up when they noted most of the table was relatively silent. Apparently, vestiges of the initial awkwardness were still hanging around.

“So,” Gunn said, hoping to get the conversational ball rolling again, “what was Cordelia like at 16? Cause I can guess, and what I’m thinking seems pretty scary.”

Willow bit her lip, not sure how to proceed, while Xander smirked, Buffy beamed, and Cordelia looked down at the table.

“Well,” Buffy said with a laugh. “She was all the things you are thinking. A cheerleader, the May Queen, you know the type.”

“Oh, Cordy,” Fred gushed, “I bet you were so popular!”

“Oh, she was popular.” It was Xander’s turn now. “She had a mindless group of followers—The Cordettes. Gunn, you met Harmony, right? Well, imagine a gaggle of them, all worshipping at the alter of Cordelia.”

Everybody laughed. Willow noticed the uncomfortable look of Cordy’s face and felt the disconcerting need to give her a hand. “Should you really be talking Xander? You spent some time worshipping at the alter of Cordelia too, in a closet I might add.” Everyone, even Cordelia and Xander, laughed at that one.

“Damn,” Gunn said. “So y’all managed to have SOME fun on the Hellmouth.”

“When we weren’t out rescuing Cordelia, that is,” Buffy said.

It’s not like Cordelia could deny that. It was true, Buffy had saved her life bunches of times. She would give her props where props were due.

“Yeah,” Cordy agreed. “Buffy saved me from unpopular invisible girls, vampires, and all kinds of icky stuff.”

Buffy wasn’t thrown by Cordelia’s agreement for a second. “The best was Cordelia with Giles—he was my watcher. He couldn’t STAND her. He was always one step away from strangling her. We could never convince Cordelia that the best way to help was to just go away.”

No one at the table quite knew what to do with that comment. There were a few uneasy laughs, but it hadn’t seemed very funny.

Fred decided it was time to change the subject. “Well, Cordy, what about boyfriends? Besides Xander, I mean?”

“Oh, they had a bad habit of dying. Or being evil. Or being evil and then dying. Little bit of both. Call it the curse of Cordelia,” Cordy said. She was thinking that maybe if she made the jokes herself, Buffy might stop.

“Well, there was Angel,” Buffy said, in a strange voice. Everyone at the table looked shocked and turned to Cordy. “Not that he was her boyfriend, but she sure wanted him to be.”

Oh lord. It’s okay. Laugh it off. Show them just how much of an actress you are. “Yes, it’s sad but true. I took one look at everyone’s favorite creature of the night, pronounced him salty goodness, and proceeded to try and make him mine.”

Feeling that surge she always got on when she was on stage, Cordelia continued, turning to Angel. “That was before I realized that I couldn’t compete with a 200-year-old blond fetish.”

“Aww, that’s so cute,” Fred commented.

It wasn’t supposed to be cute Buffy thought. It’s supposed to embarrass Cordelia. Clearly she just needed to try a little harder.

“She made Angel soooo uncomfortable. It was hilarious, with her always throwing herself at him,” Buffy said. “She couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of rejection,” Buffy stage-whispered to the table at large.

“I have a lot of trouble imagining anyone rejecting Cordelia. Damn Angel, were you blind or something back then?” Gunn asked.

Angel shrugged. He knew this was making Cordelia more than a little tense; her heart was pounding so much he could literally see her pulse point jump. At the same time, he liked knowing she once thought he was attractive.

“Hey, I didn’t know she liked me. Cordy, you know how bad I am at the whole subtlety thing. When you think someone is salty goodness, you need to tell them they’re salty goodness.”

Buffy never gave Cordelia a chance to respond. “Back then you would never have imagined Cordelia and Angel would one day be friends. What did we call her that one night, when we were training right before my birthday? Oh yeah, Sporedelia.” Buffy continued on, before Angel could point out only Buffy had called her that. “Angel wasn’t an official member of the “I Hate Cordelia” club though. That was more of a Xander and Willow thing.”

This time there was no uneasy laughter. Only uneasy silence.

Fred finally asked, “But, I thought, I mean, weren’t you all friends?”

Buffy choked back a laugh. “Is that what she told –”

“Well, yeah,” Willow interrupted. “We were good friends. Right Xander?”

“I guess.”

Dawn was disgusted. Her sister was acting like such a bitch and all anyone was doing was ignoring it, while Cordelia just sat there, looking miserable. “Hey, Cordelia, you and Spike were really great up there. Do you wanna do another song?”

Cordelia looked at Dawn, her eyes communicating her appreciation. “No thanks sweetie, but I will go help you pick out a song.” Cordelia was out of her chair before Dawn could say a word.

Angel felt like he was in Bizarro-land. Which is in itself funny, because if Xander had made that Superman reference a few years ago, I wouldn’t have known what the hell he was talking about.

Buffy was turning the night into some kind of battle with Cordelia, which was odd because A, what did they have to fight about, and B, Cordelia didn’t really seem to know they were at war. Where had all those signature cutting remarks been? Where were the cruel one-liners? She was off her game tonight.

Spike came over and took Cordelia’s chair, knocking Angel out of his reverie. “Look mate, you better tell the Slayer to watch her back. Your man Gunn is looking kinda angry again. He’s protective of the cheerleader.”

“Spike,” Angel sighed. “The last thing I need right now is advice from you.”

“Fine. But you know, even I’m getting a little pissed at Buffy now. She’s acting like a baby and the silly bint is really getting to Cordy.”

“Cordy?” Angel asked.

“That’s right, poof. I’ve got ‘Cordy’ rights now too. You play dress-up with a person, you get close. Anyway, my point is, you haven’t said a word. You haven’t told Buffy to shut the fuck up. You haven’t told Cordy that the Slayer is full of shit. It makes it look like you agree.”

“Spike, you don’t know what the hell you are—”

“That’s where you’re wrong, poof. Little Miss May Queen and I, we understand each other. We have a lot more in common than you might think.”

“Oh, I thought it was all opposites attract,” Angel mumbled.

“What was that?” Spike asked.

“Nothing. So, tell me, what do you and Cordy have in common. Besides the fact that both of you aren’t natural blonds?”

“We both are letting Buffy walk all over us,” Spike said, in a quiet firm voice.

Angel looked at him for a moment. Finally he said, “It’s not just sex, is it?”

“You knew?”

“Hello, I’m a vampire. I have super-smell power, just like you.”

Spike grinned. “Cheerleader’s rubbing off on you. You sound just like her.” That got a brief grin out of Angel. “She’s a piece of work, that one. And Christ, the way she smells.”

The grin disappeared. “Spike,” Angel growled warningly.

“Oh chill ya big poof. Look, she’s upset and I like her and so you damn well need to fix it.”

Angel didn’t deny that Cordelia was upset. “How?”

Spike was getting a little exasperated now.

“I don’t know. Tell her she’s beautiful. Shag her against the wall in the bathroom. I don’t care. Just get her smiling again.”

Part 15

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