“Angel, what are you doing?”
“I… I’m going on the bumper car ride.” Angel stalled his descent into Cordelia’s little car.
“I said boys against girls. Get your own.” Cordelia huffed and pushed on the gas. The little red car moved away from the vampire. Angel stared. He didn’t want to get in a little car, not alone. He saw the ride, couples were jerked and pressed together in the tiny cars. He wanted to get into the little red car that was getting further away.
“Angel, hurry up or you’ll miss your turn.” Wesley and Gunn jumped in the next two available cars, each of their little vehicles heading in the direction of the waving physicist in the yellow car.
Angel growled and pushed the man that had cut in front of him and jumped into the little black car. He pushed the gas heading towards the red car that had left him.
Angel was almost there when the red car shot off slamming into Wesley’s blue car. A loud cheer arose from Cordelia as she lightly bounced back and Wesley went skidding across the rink.
Fred laughed as she turned her car into Gunn’s. “Oh.’ She said as his car pushed her across the floor.
“Push the gas.” Cordy yelled to Fred as she straightened her little car towards Wesley again for another go.
“Gas, right. It has been so long since I’ve driven, but gas, okay.” Fred pushed down on a pedal. She squealed to a sudden stop.
“The other one.” Cordelia yelled. “Ow.” Her car skidded as a little green car bounced into her.
“The other one. Right. One brake, one gas. Left. Right. I’ve got it.” Fred yelled as her little yellow car swirled away from Gunn’s approach. “Sort of.” She mumbled as her car turned in 360 degrees. Steering wheel. Brake, Gas, and Steering Wheel. She got it now. Fred straightened the little car and gunned for Gunn. Giggles erupted from her lips as she realized her dump pun.
“Whoops.” Fred looked around as she was again spun across the rink. Wesley. How could she’ve forgotten about Wesley? Okay. It really all clicked now. Fred hovered in her spot quickly computing the vectors and the speed needed to make the most Bang. She shifted and slammed on the gas going at a 45-degree angle.
Wesley didn’t have a chance. He went spiraling in tailspins across the track. Fred giggled. This was fun. She straightened her car, computed, and targeted Gunn.
“Yeah, Fred..Whoops.” Cordelia spun in her car. She scowled at the grinning driver in the same green vehicle that had sideswiped her earlier. Cordelia was about to yell something, when he disappeared or rather was bumped to the other side of the rink.
Angel grinned happily and waved to Cordelia. He turned his black little car quickly as another car came near Cordy’s. He jammed into it sending it flying. Just as soon as he finished with that one, he went for another car that was heading for Cordelia.
Cordelia sat in her car not moving. She scowled. There was no reason to move. Angel in his little miniature black convertible had managed to bang, bump and she could swear, growl all of the other cars away from her. This was not fun. Wesley and Gunn wouldn’t even get near. They were having too much fun banging and getting banged by Fred.
Cordelia scrunched her face. That didn’t sound right. Whatever. She got out of her car. She stood in the middle of the rink, ignoring the yells of the attendant to get back into her car. Danger? What Danger?
Cordelia didn’t even pause as a green little car made a brave attempt her way or was it suicidal. She didn’t stop. Why should she? The conductor yelled frantically. Cordelia rolled her eyes and kept walking. She shook her head as the oh so dangerous green little car went flying across the rink away from her.
She glared at the black little car that had slowed down to escort her out of the rink. “Cordy, why are you leaving? This is fun.”
Cordelia stared at the vampire looking up at her in his little lethal black car. Cordelia really wanted to yell, but Angel had such a cute, clueless smile on his face. It was his puppy dogface. It was the only face that she wasn’t able to resist. Cordelia shook her head.
“Give me a ride.” She pointed across the ten feet that separated her from the exit.
Angel really smiled. Damn. Cordelia wished he wouldn’t do that. It melted her stomach. She grumbled trying to recapture her anger at Angel for ruining her fun at bumper cars. Really what fun were bumper cars if no cars were allowed near to bump with.
“You didn’t have fun. I had fun.” Angel’s smile got bigger as she climbed into the passenger side of the little car.
Cordelia slumped down in the seat. “Oh, Angel.” She shook her head.
Angel jerked the car to a stop. Oh. That meant something. He just couldn’t remember what. He quickly drew Cordelia out of the car and placed her on the platform over the fence. He barely acknowledged the conductor yelling at his seer. He turned and pulled out Bob’s article.
This word followed by any statement is trouble. Example; “Oh, let me get that”. Or, “Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night”. If she says Oh before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is Fine when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least 2 days. Oh as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get raised eyebrows Go ahead followed by acts so unspeakable that I can’t bring myself to write about them.
Angel shoved the paper back into his pocket. That wasn’t applicable. Or at least he didn’t think it was. Cordelia had said oh. But she had said oh, Angel. That wasn’t a statement and he had nothing to lie about. He hadn’t done anything. What did it mean?
It was going to plague him. Angel had to know. He turned and then growled. Who the hell did that guy think he was yelling at Cordelia? And she was taking it? Angel moved quickly towards the attendant.
“Angel, what in the hell to you think you’re going to do?” Cordelia jumped in his path.
“Cordy, he has no right to yell at you.”
Cordelia stared at the vampire a minute then turned towards the pale attendant. “Go away. Don’t worry. We won’t be back. Now shoo.”
The young man grunted once to show his seriousness, but left very happy that he didn’t have to face the guy in black.
Cordelia swung back around to Angel. “You, come with me.” She tugged Angel off the line platform to an empty spot in the causeway.
“Um, Cordy. Why are you mad? You didn’t have fun?”
Cordelia blinked. “Uh, NO.”
“Angel, the idea of bumper cars is to be BUMPED and to BUMP back.How can I have fun, if you don’t let anyone near me to BUMP.”
Angel turned back to the rink. The little colorful cars were spinning and bumping into each other. The drivers were laughing and shouting to each other. It looked like a big cartoon traffic jam.
“I…” Angel shifted from one foot to another. This would probably be a good time to lie, except Angel had lost all ability to lie convincingly to Cordelia. If he tried, she would just get madder. But the truth was going to make her mad too. “I thought…you could’ve gotten hurt.”
Cordelia closed her eyes taking deep breaths trying to calm down. Finally, she was able to speak. “Angel, I don’t need protecting from a bunch of kids in little toy cars trying to have fun. Half of those dangerous drivers that you catapulted into space were under the age of twelve.”
“Some of those kid hit hard. You could’ve…”
“Angel.” Cordelia stopped and tried to start again. “Angel, you know that I’m serious about learning how to fight, don’t you? Don’t you?”
Angel had no clue how they switched from bumper cars to their training sessions. “Yes.” He said, trying to figure out where Cordelia was heading.
“And you realize that I’m learning to fight, so I can fight, don’t you? Fight demons and other bad guys.”
“I…” Angel paused. He knew where this conversation was going and he didn’t like it.
“That’s right Angel. I’m not spending two hours a day getting sweaty and achy for the exercise. And I expect that you will let me fight, not waste time protecting me.”
“Protecting you IS NOT a waste of time.” Side stepping the issue of whether Angel would ever allow Cordelia to actually use the skills he was teaching her outside of the basement. Avoidance was not lying, it was just avoiding having to lie.
“It is when I don’t need it or when it takes your attention away from saving the real victim. So. No more unneeded, unasked for protection. Got it?” Cordelia shook her head a walked away.
“Protecting you is not a waste of time.” Angel said quietly as he followed. He was not looking forward to the fallout that was going to occur when Cordelia deemed herself ready to be on the frontlines of their battles – sword in hand.
“Angel, Cordy.” Fred came running up breathless. “Wesley and Gunn said that they’re going to win me a big stuff bear. Do you want to come? Come on. Angel you can win something for Cordy. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
“Um, Fred. I’m sure that Cordy and Angel don’t want to play silly games.” Wesley said. “Go do whatever you were planning to do. We’ll meet you later.” He waved Cordelia and Angel in the other direction.
“We weren’t planning to do anything. I don’t know what we can do that won’t set Angel off into Dorkzone.”
“I said I was sorry.”
“No you didn’t.”
Angel scowled. He could have sworn he apologized. Then again, maybe he just assumed he had since he seemed to be always apologizing to his seer for something or another.
“I’m sorry that I ruined your fun at the Bumper cars.”
“The next time, I’ll let the cars hit you?”
“No, stupid. What about the portrait?”
“I’m not sorry about that- the guy wasn’t any good.”
“Yeah, We’ll just meet you later.” Gunn said meeting Wesley’s eyes. They had to get Fred away from Angel and Cordelia before it was too late.
“Why don’t you want Angel and Cordy to go with us?” Fred’s brows shot up.
Too late. Both Wesley and Gunn squirmed.
“Yeah, why not?” Both Angel and Cordelia said.
“Just didn’t think you wanted to go that’s all.” Gunn looked at his feet.
“Cordy, do want a stuffed bear? I could win you one. How about that one.” Angel pointed to a five foot pink fuzzy bear hanging from a booth.
“No.” Glancing at the booth.
“Aw, it’s cute.” Fred said.
“I could win it.” Angel said.
“Of course you could- all you would have to do is use your vamp strength to hit the weight up to the bell. Woo Woo big challenge there. Geez, Angel you’re stronger than anyone out here.”
“That’s not my fault.”
“Come on, let’s go find something with some challenge. Then you can try to win me a prize or maybe I’ll win you one.”
Angel didn’t see why him being a vampire should disqualify him from winning Cordy the big bear. But at least she didn’t seem to be mad at him anymore. He trailed after his seer.
“Fred, you like the pink bear?” Wesley studied the booth and the people trying to win it.
Wesley nudged at his friend. “One of us should be able to win.”
“One pink bear coming up.” The men moved together determined to bang the hell out of the weight and win the prize for Fred.
“How about this one.” Angel pointed to a stuffed Panda. It wasn’t as big as the pink bear, but it was pretty big.
Cordelia shook her head.
“Darts, Angel? Isn’t that just too much like tossing pointy weapons. When’s the last time you missed. Hmm?”
“Cordy, that’s not fair. Being able to aim has nothing to do with being a vampire.”
“No.” Cordelia moved from the row of booths into the arcade. “There.”
“Those are puny.”
“They’re cute. And you being a vampire won’t help you at all. Do you have enough quarters?”
Angel looked into the glass box filled with small animals. “Cordy, don’t you want a big one?”
“Nope. I like the white kitty.” She pointed to the squishy small kitten with a rhinestone collar.
Angel grumbled. “Some challenge.” He fed the coin into the slot and grabbed at the steel claws control. Damn. Angel put another quarter into the machine, then another and another. Angel growled as the claw kept picking up and dropping every prize except the kitten. “More.” Angel shoved some bills at Cordy.
Cordelia started to giggle at the frustration growing on Angel’s face. She went to the change machine and came back with more coins.
“Angel youre going to do it.” Cordelia pointed to the blue cow being towed up towards the hole in the glass.
“Angel?” She watched the vampire release the control and let the cow fall. He put another coin into the slot.
“Not the cat.”
“Shh.” Angel concentrated on trying to capture the stuffed kitten again. His frustration turning into low growls as his grip whitened around the control stick and more quarters went into the machine. He forced more bills at Cordelia with a low grunt.
Cordelia looked at the bills in amazement. “Angel, this is twenty dollars, you already wasted…”
“More.” Angel stared at the kitten. He could’ve sworn it smirked at him. Angel was going to get that feline for Cordelia if he had to spend the last quarter on the earth or until his patience broke and his fist went through the glass. It was a close call.
“Come on, kitty, here kitty, kitty. Ah Ha. Gotcha, thought you could laugh at me did you. Ha.” Angel slowly moved the control stick, the white kitten dangling from the steel claw.
“Angel…” Cordelia amazement turned back into giggles. Angel was talking to the stuff animal. He was such a cute dork.
“Shh. Come here kitty, that’s my kitty. Upsy daisy. Gotcha. You’re mine now.” Angel gave a triumphant laugh as the kitten came tumbling down the hole into his hands. He brought the small stuff animal up proudly. “I got it.”
“I see.” Cordelia beamed at the smile on Angel’s face.
“I didn’t even break the glass.”
“No. Were you planning to?”
Angel’s eyes shifted momentarily. “Maybe.”
Angel smiled again. “Here. It’s not very big though.” Angel gently handed the small furry animal to Cordelia.
“It’s cute and you won it for me, spending tons of quarters and not breaking the glass. It’s perfect. Thank you.” Cordelia leaned up and kissed Angel on the cheek.
Angel shuffled. “Do you want another one? How about the cow? Or the lion, it’s a cat. Or the puppy, the puppy’s cute.”
Cordelia shook her head smiling. “Kitty here is enough. Come on, let’s find the others.” Grabbing his hand.
Angel frowned. He had fun. Well spending the money and standing immobile controlling a rigged metal claw wasn’t fun, but Cordelia’s giggles, smiles and her kiss had been fun. Angel wanted to win her another stuffed animal.
“Wow. Look at Fred.” Cordelia laughed. Fred was walking towards them, her arms filled with the huge pink bear and the big panda.
Angel scowled and looked at the puny kitten in Cordy’s hand. “I could have gotten those for you.”
“I love my kitty.” Cordy released Angel’s hand that she had still been holding and gave the vampire a reassuring hug. Angel stilled as Cordelia’s body pressed into his. Her warmth encircled him. Without a thought, Angel pulled her closer, his face brushing against her hair. “I wanted to give you the biggest.”
“Pooh, who needs the biggest when I got the best.” Squeezing tighter then letting go.
Angel’s hand moved slower, not ready yet to release her.
“Hey ya, look what Wesley and Gunn won for me.” Fred bounded up.
Angel moved further away from Cordelia, but one hand still rested lightly on her back.
“Who rang the bell?” Cordelia asked.
“That would be me.” Gunn pointed to his chest.
“I won at the darts.” Wesley looked at the two bears again. Damn. Darts took more skill than brute strength. His really should have been the bigger bear.
“Angel gave me this.” Cordelia said proudly. “Isn’t she precious? Kitty is squishy and has taste.” Cordelia plucked at the gleaming rhinestones around the kitten’s neck. “She’s going to be much more comfortable to sleep with than those- not that those aren’t nice.” Cordelia’s tone clearly indicated their inferiority.
“Cordy, you’re going to sleep with it?”
“Of course. Squishy.” Cordelia hugged at the small animal, smiling at the vampire.
Angel considered looking again at the two big bears. Not special, definitely not precious, just big. Kitty was squishy. Obviously the best. “I won it.” He was proud again.
“She’s adorable. Can I hold her?” Fred shoved the bears at Gunn and Wesley.
Cordelia scrunched up her face. “Okay, but only for a minute.”
“She is squishy. Aww. And look at this cute collar.”
“I told you.” Cordelia held out her hand to take the kitten back.
“Fred it’s pink and big.” Gunn held up the bear he won for her.
“And look at how cute the panda is.” Wesley pushed his bear in front of the pink one.
“But not squishy.” Angel said.
Wesley and Gunn’s eyes narrowed at Angel’s condescending tone. Angel ignored them. It served them right for not telling him about Bob’s article earlier.
“Okay, where next?” The stuff kitten was safely back in Cordelia’s arms.
“The Rocket was fun.” Angel remembered how Cordelia had clutched on to him as they plunged down at an unnatural speed.
“So were the bumper cars.”
“No.” Cordelia shook her head. “Those jr. Rusty Wallace wanta-bes can be vicious.”
Angel shot a look at Cordelia. She wasn’t scowling, raising her brows or anything. Angel’s eyes widened. Cordelia just winked at him. He smiled. Cordelia giggled.
Wesley, Gunn just stared. Fred leaned into Wesley. “Kyerumption.” She nodded knowingly.
Angel heard Fred. But this time he didn’t yell at her to stop saying it. This time he didn’t mind. His hand slowly reached out. Cordelia’s fingers automatically entwined his. Angel smiled more. Cordelia had been right. Carnivals could be fun.
The group slowed then stopped in front of the attraction directly before them. Each of them looked at the sign then at each other. Their heads all shook and they moved on without looking again at the invitation to enter the ‘Haunted House’.
“How about that one?” Fred pointed at swirling ride ahead.
“I’m on it.” Gunn said.
“If you want to.” Wesley wasn’t about to miss out by commenting that the ride didn’t look much safer than the Rocket.
Angel studied the ride. It was a large disc, people were standing straight up strapped individually along its side. The disc rotated, moving up and down. There was no way that you could touch the person next to you. “I don’t want to.”
“Angel. It could be fun. Those people look like they’re having fun.” Fred pointed.
Angel turned towards Cordelia. The young woman hadn’t said anything. “Cordy?”
Cordelia tore her gaze away from the ride. “I’m with Angel. I don’t like the looks of it. But you kids go have fun. We’ll…”
“Go there.” Angel pointed. That looked fun.
Cordelia glanced to the ride that Angel was pointing to. “We’ll be on the Ferris Wheel.” She smiled.
“Ooohh. A Ferris wheel, I want to go on that.” Fred jumped up and down.
Wesley and Gunn stared at the ride then each other. The ride was another two seater.
“Flip a coin?” Wesley pulled out a quarter.
“Heads.” Gunn said.
The two men watched the coin spin in the air and fall to the ground. Tails.
“Two out of three, man.”
“It was a fair toss.”
“Come on. Two out of three.”
Wesley picked up the coin. Again they watched as the coin twirled and landed. Heads.
“Okay, but no four out of fives.”
“Just do it. No wait, let me.”
“Hand it over, English.”
Gunn rubbed the coin and threw it up in the air. “ Ha. Heads. I win.”
Gunn looked around for Fred. Fred was gone.
“There.” Wesley pointed to the Ferris wheel. Fred was barely visible sitting alone between two large stuffed bears.
“Hey, wait.” Gunn rushed to get to the ride.
Fred waved to the two men on the ground as she started to move upwards.
“Two out of three.” Wesley shook his head in disgust.