Buffy placed the rented videos on the ground for a moment so she could knock on Angel’s front door. Her attempt at home cooking had failed rather miserably forcing the Slayer to retreat to the local Chinese take away for their dinner. She knocked a few times and waited for her boyfriend to answer. “Hello in there” Buffy called through the door after waiting patiently.
She got no answer.
Knocking again, only louder this time when Buffy realised that Angel might not have heard her knocking since he no longer had vampire hearing. Her eyes rolled when she heard him call out for her to wait a minute, “Sure, I don’t mind waiting a few more minutes. After all, I’ve waited almost a year” she muttered as she picked up the videos.
Angel finally, and breathlessly, answered the door and smiled when he saw the blonde standing there, looking at him with curious eyes. “Buffy” his voice denoted the surprised delight he felt when he saw her standing there. Quickly, he kicked the cleaning apron behind the door thankful he had taken the time to take it off before he answered the door.
“Angel” at the sight of his little pleased smile, Buffy’s curious eyes tried to see what he appeared to be hiding behind the door.
“I brought food” Buffy held up the bag of Chinese take-out, “I figured since we haven’t spent much time together since you came back that you might like dinner and a movie” she explained hurriedly. “But if you have plans I can…”
“Dinner and movies sound good” Angel stopped her nervous chatter mid-sentence as he stood in the doorway, blocking her entrance.
“Great, can I come in?” Buffy asked, pointedly looking at him blocking the doorway indicating she couldn’t get in unless he moved.
“Sure” he moved away from the door to allow her into his home, not that it yet resembled a home of course but decorating wasn’t really a priority right now. Getting his life together and getting his relationship with Buffy on track was at the top of his list before anything else. “What did you rent?”
Buffy followed his lead into the kitchen where she set the videos and food down on the table. “Um, I got Devil’s Advocate and The Craft, Willow recommended it”
“Oh, what are they about?” Angel asked as he got his newly-bought plates and cutlery out for use with the food. He glanced over his shoulder as he spoke to her, trying to think up ways he could entice her into talking about patrolling with her without Buffy changing the conversation.
“Devil’s Advocate is about some evil lawyers or something and The Craft is about witches” Buffy explained as she sat down at the heavy table, watching his movements. He was beautifully sculpted, the broad shoulders in perfect proportion to the rest of his muscular body while his chest seemed to be set in marble. His hair was nicely styled, if a little messier than what it normally was.
“Evil lawyers” Angel mumbled with a petty frown, even in Sunnydale he couldn’t escape evil lawyers. He placed the plates and cutlery on the table as a little problem arose for their night, “Um, I have no T.V”
Buffy cocked her head to one side and looked at him, “You have no T.V?”
Angel shook his head sheepishly in a silent answer.
“Oh, well we can eat the take out and maybe go to my place… Scratch that, no privacy there” she countered her own suggestion.
“How about we just eat dinner and talk?” he asked with a small smile. “I’m sure we can think of something to talk about” like slaying, patrolling and finding out why she had been avoiding that specific conversation.
Buffy smiled at him, “Sure, talk is good” she agreed. They ate in a slightly awkward silence before Angel broke it.
“Did you have a good day at college?”
She nodded, “I did, got good marks for my assignment, Riley said…”
“Riley?” Angel asked curiously, he looked at Buffy and watched her face closely, ignoring the jealousy ebbing away at him. Who was Riley? What was he to her? How did she know him?
Buffy paused eating for a second, “He’s a teacher’s assistant in one of my classes, he’s just a friend” an extremely cute and hunky friend but still just a friend.
“Blonde hair, big built?” Angel questioned when a feeling of déjà vu crept up on him, the image of the kid he met at Buffy’s college entered his mind. As did twinges of jealousy at the thought of her spending more time with Riley than him.
“Yeah, how do you know?”
“I think he was the guy who told me where I could find you at the picnic tables” Angel answered. He took another bite of the Chinese food, “He told me to tell you hi”
“I’m surprised he didn’t ask about my assignment. He’s a good guy even if he is a slave driver” Buffy commented with a light smile, trying to draw some humor into the awkward situation. A pink tinge coated the apples of her cheeks as she remembered the cheeky wink her T.A had given her earlier.
“Which class does Riley help teach?” Angel asked after he swallowed a not-very-nice bean sprout. He watched her expressions closely and saw the little hue of color that coated her face. He couldn’t help but be jealous, this guy was making her blush. Making his girlfriend blush and he didn’t like it.
“Chemistry, he has a way with hydrochloric acid” Buffy replied ruefully as she began to toy with her food when her appetite left. She wasn’t sure what she had expected of their dinner together, but dealing with Angel’s jealousy wasn’t one of her expectations.
In another attempt to lighten the mood the slayer changed the subject “So, did you enjoy your Chop Suey?” she asked teasingly, knowing full well he hadn’t. His expressions had clearly told her he had found the dinner rather horrible.
”Yeah I did,” Angel fibbed with an unconvincing smile as the subject of Riley was mutually forgotten, he didn’t want her to think he wasn’t grateful. “Thanks”
Buffy nodded, totally unconvinced, “You’re welcome. I knew you would love it,” she told him innocently. “We can go to a restaurant and get it made properly next time if you like it so much”
He tried not to recoil from the thought of eating it again, “It was crunchy but not, I did like it because you bought it. I don’t want you thinking that I’m not grateful…”
“Relax Angel, I’m just kidding. I know you didn’t like it very much and I take no offence, you can’t be expected to know what you like to eat this quickly” she reassured him, letting her teasing show with a grin.
“I’m sorry” he apologized unnecessarily, “I know you were being thoughtful and…”
Buffy treated him to a big smile. “Don’t apologise” she told him, “I can see how you might find it difficult to adjust being human again. But all that matters is that you are, and we’re together now.” She wanted her and Angel to work out and knew they could if they tried, really tried this time and not run from each other like last time. He was the one thing, the one person, she would have given anything to have.
“Right” he smiled back at her, he stood and walked round to where she sat, “We are, here together” Angel repeated her words, wrapping his arms around her, trying to ignore the way they both stiffened slightly at the contact. He tilted her face up and placed his lips gently across hers in a tender kiss. They would work out, like all things it would just take time.
Buffy pulled away from his lips, her eyes showing how shy she felt at this turn of events. She smiled again as Angel leaned down for a deeper kiss, silently wondering if she would have time for a quick patrol and tried to think of a good reason why he couldn’t go with her.
It was early afternoon when Cordelia reached Sunnydale, the sunglasses hiding her red eyes and the concealer hiding the shadows under those red eyes. The oak jewellery box containing Dennis sat on the passenger seat, rattling in frustration of being kept in something similar to a hamster cage. “We’re almost there Dennis and you’ll be out soon, do you think I should have called first? Of course I shouldn’t, that would make Angel ask why I was coming and I can’t tell him over the phone can I? Of course not”
The oak box rattled quieter as Dennis tried to give her what comfort as much as he could. “How am I going to tell him?” her voice going from sarcastic to soft, unsure and noticeably sad. “I’ve never had to tell somebody anything like this before; I don’t know what to do or say”
The box became still as he listened.
She turned on a familiar corner, trying to remember the way to the mansion, having only dropped Buffy there once before, it was a little difficult to remember which side road to take. “Do you think I could write a letter or a note maybe? That way I won’t have to look at his face when he finds out and I won’t have to deal with his sorrow and guilt. Mine’s already enough to handle without me having to comfort him too” Cordelia’s lip began to wobble and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.
Dennis gave an unfelt cuddle to the grieving, young woman and in turn felt his own none-existent heart break for her. He couldn’t help but damn the ex-vampire to hell for leaving Cordelia even though he knew it wasn’t Angel’s fault Doyle had died.
“Once I tell Angel, I can start making plans to get on with my life” Cordelia stated after clearing her throat for the millionth time. “I won’t go back to L.A, maybe New York or someplace exotic like Europe maybe” she allowed a grin to cross her face. “Scratch Europe, knowing my luck I’ll probably bump into one of Angelus childer that he turned during his Scourging days”
It came to something when she would rather talk about Angel’s past then discuss her future. “I know what we could do” Cordelia exclaimed as she pulled her car to the side of the road and killed the engine. Dennis braced himself when he heard the word ‘we’ come from her. “We could open up a haunted house, you could get in touch with some of your little, ghost pals. We’d make a killing on Halloween!”
Dennis sent an invisible look of disbelief through his box.
“You don’t have to decide just yet” Cordelia told him matter-of-factly, “Just think about how much fun you could have rattling chains and flinging sheets around. Hey, we could even make a small T.V movie. Angel’s mansion would be the perfect setting, oooh!” she said as waves of ideas hit her.
There was a lot to be said about bathing in denial, he thought, and Cordelia was happily sinking in that river. He let her stall, once again quietly listening to her meaningless words waiting for her to finish getting herself together. And once again, Dennis found himself hating the fact he was physically unable to do anything but listen quietly.
Cordelia’s brain finally caught up with reality after a few more moments of rambling on about their future. She took a deep breath, held it, and exhaled slowly. “Come on Chase, this is a get-in get-out situation. Just go in, tell him the news, get out and never come back” all the while secretly praying Angel wouldn’t let her be by herself again.
Clutching the oak box closer to her chest, she climbed out of the car and made her way up to the front door of the mansion. “Okay, here I come ready or not” she uttered, trying to gather her courage and get rid of her panic. Knocking on the door loudly, she waited for Angel to answer.