“Buffy, why did you never tell me about this?”
“What do you mean?”
“This.” Angel indicates with a wave of his hand.
Buffy glances at the object of Angel’s attention before turning back to him in confusion. “What, you mean the tv? Angel, honey, I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to tell you about television. After all, you’re parked in front of it every Saturday for football.”
Did he hit his head last night when he was wrestling with their son before putting him to bed? God, she was not in the mood for a trip to the emergency room.
He shakes his head in frustration. “No, Paula Deen!”
Buffy’s look of confusion turns to one of shock. “What? Let me get this straight. You, the man who practically runs screaming from the room whenever HGTV or the Food Network is on? Or the man who fussed and fought like a child—yes, a child,” she emphasizes at his glare, “when we designed the house or hired Candice for the holidays? The man who is perfectly content to have a room with brown walls, brown floors and brown furniture? You wonder why I never clued you into the wonder that is Paula Deen? Hmm, Angel, I wonder why.”
Angel’s scowl deepens at his wife’s teasing. Okay, so what she said might be true (although he firmly believes he did not act like a child. Maybe a sullen teenager, maybe), but there is a world of difference between the endless decorating shows Buffy insists on watching and Paula Deen. Angel can’t tell the difference between any of the shows—a makeover is a makeover is a makeover, in his opinion—but Paula is one of a kind.
“There is so much wrong with what you just said, I can’t even begin to tell you,” he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest as he focuses on Paula’s newest recipe for fried chicken.
Buffy laughs and scoots closer to Angel, who shuffles further down the couch. Her mouth drops in surprise at his move, and, not willing to give into his petty behavior (their son get his stubborn nature from Angel, Buffy swears it), she follows him, swinging her legs into his lap to trap him. His hands automatically come to rest on her calves, gently massaging the firm muscles beneath her flannel pajama pants. She’s not much of one to brag, but, for being a former Slayer of a certain age, and with a six-year-old son, she looks damn good.
“There is a world of difference between HGTV and Paula, and you know it,” Angel mutters as he studiously avoids her playful grin even as he continues his massage. “Those HGTV shows you watch are so loud and obnoxious and Paula is—“
“Loud and obnoxious, too.”
He whips his head around so fast they both swear they hear his neck crack. Without conscious thought, her hand stays to his neck, rubbing the sensitive skin of his nape. Angel’s head drops forward slightly, but he still manages a pretty good glare.
“She is not loud and obnoxious. She’s Southern. They’re, you know, enthusiastic about their food.”
“Angel, I love Paula, possibly more than I love you, but she’s more than enthusiastic. I swear, one episode I thought she had an orgasm after trying a double chocolate chip fudge pie she made.”
“Buffy,” he admonishes as he glances around to make sure the innocent ears of their son weren’t eavesdropping.
Buffy sidesteps his concern off with a wide grin. “Relax, Ryan is playing next door with Steven. No need to worry about him overhearing something he shouldn’t.”
“You’re wrong about Paula. She’s—oh yeah, that’s good,” he sighs when her fingers caress a particularly sensitive spot. Lost in the sensation, he misses her question but the resulting pinch brings his attention to sharp focus. “What?”
“I asked when did this fascination with Paula Deen start? I’m not even sure you know where our kitchen is, much less how to cook. I don’t think a couple of centuries of surviving on blood equals a four-star chef,” she teases, erupting into laughter at his mock pout.
She loves that they can tease each other, that they have reached the comfortable security so long denied them. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that her beloved husband gives her so much ammunition to use against him.
“Hey, I cook.”
The protest is weak and he knows it. Although he does know where their kitchen is, the extent of his culinary expertise is scrambled eggs for Ryan in the mornings and maybe a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. He may not know his way around the kitchen, but he at least knows where Buffy keeps the fire extinguisher. Buffy is the cook in their family, and although she’s no Paula Deen, she certainly doesn’t have to keep the fire department on standby whenever she steps foot into the kitchen.
“Angel, my darling husband…”
Her tone is sickly sweet and they both know she’s mocking him. With love, she always says but sometimes he swears there’s more glee than love in her voice. “You char, you burn, you even set on fire, but you, love of my life, do not cook. Aww, why did you stop?” she asks when he removes his hands from her legs.
He ignores her pleas and attempts to pull his hands back to her calves. “I used to be able to cook,” he reminds her pointedly. “Did it all the time for Wesley and Cordelia back at the old apartment. Cordelia loved my eggs.”
Although they can talk to each other about anything, he knows the mention of Cordelia will drive Buffy crazy. She’s usually not a fan of being reminded that she hasn’t been the only woman in Angel’s life but hey, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. He grins at her terse response. Bulls-eye.
“That’s not all she loved,” she huffs in a manner eerily reminiscent of his outrage a few minutes earlier.
“Is someone jealous?” His voice is light and playful; evidence of how, after eight years of marriage, the fact that Buffy can still be jealous of a not-quite relationship he had over a dozen years ago still amuses him.
She shakes her head, not willing to concede. She is not jealous. In fact, she doesn’t even care that her husband made moon eyes at Cordelia and basically acted like a gibbering idiot around her, that. . . Okay, so maybe, just maybe, she’s still a little jealous, but she sure as hell will never admit that to him.
She tries to resist his attempts to pull her further into his lap, but like always, it’s hard to resist her husband. She’s pretty easy when it comes to Angel, but she doesn’t hear him complaining.
He settles her across his thighs, his arms naturally circling around her waist, and grins. “Sure you’re not jealous? I don’t know, ‘love of my life,’ I think I detected some jealousy.”
“Now you’re just being mean,” she pouts, and for a moment, he is reminded of their son’s pout when he doesn’t get his way. Angel swears Ryan gets his stubborn nature from Buffy, though she is quick to remind him he’s the Stubborn McStubberson one in their relationship.
“So seriously, what brings on the fascination with Paula Deen? Do I need to start worrying that you’ll leave me for her?”
“Probably. After all, she can make a mean country fried steak.”
Her response is an elbow to his stomach. “How do you even know what country fried steak is?”
He nods to the television where Paula is enthusiastically discussing her love for all things involving cream and butter. “From my soon-to-be second wife, of course. Did you know the trick is to dip the steak into flour, then the egg wash and then dredge it in flour again?” Buffy stares at him with an expression akin to horror. What on earth has happened to her husband? Maybe he did hit his head last night. . .
“I’m just. . . Angel, did you hit your head last night?”
“Well, you’re sitting here talking about country fried steak. You don’t find that a little strange? When you can’t even cook?”
He sighs. “I told you I can cook—“
“No you can’t.”
“—but since I became human, I seem to have lost my mad culinary skills.”
“Okay, one. I’m not sure you ever had ‘mad culinary skills,’ and—“
“And two, I can’t believe you just said you had mad skills.”
He shrugs with an easy grin, delighted with their easy banter. A decade after their reunion, it’s still sometimes hard for him to believe that this—curled up together on the couch on a lazy Sunday morning, the sounds of their son playing next door with his best friend echoing quietly in the distance—is their life.
Buffy rolls her eyes, but snuggles closer to him. She lazily runs a hand up and down his chest (and it’s a very good chest, she thinks to herself) as they enjoy the quiet sounds of the television for a few minutes. Well, as quiet as Paula Deen can be.
Having nearly dozed off in the silence, he is startled by the question. “Wh-what?”
“I would have thought you’d be more into Rachael Ray or Giada than Paula. I mean, they tend to fix the food you usually prefer. I didn’t know you were so into butter and cream.”
He laughs, the deep sound rumbling against her sound. “Who doesn’t love butter and cream? Well, besides Miss Skinny here,” he says as he tickles her side.
“Hey! I’m not too skinny! Do you think I’m a bag of bones or something?” She turns to him with a glare so deadly, Angel is thankful there are no weapons around.
He holds his hands up in protest and possibly to ward off any attack. “What? No. Love, I was just teasing. I think you’re gorgeous, you know that.” He moves his hands to her hips and squeezes. “You’re perfect, Buffy.”
“Damn straight,” she retorts before leaning forward to press a gentle kiss to his lips.
As always with them, it quickly turns into a heated make-out session with wandering hands, muffled groans and sighs of pleasure. In the back of his mind, Angel knows that the curtains are open, leaving them visible to their neighbors, but when his wife is snaking a hand into his loose pajama buttons while the other is sliding up his t-shirt, he can’t really find it in himself to care. Give the neighbors a show, who cares? Maybe it’d loosen up the crotchety woman across the street.
Just when Buffy is about to make him very, very happy, she pulls her hands away and sits up. “You never answered my question.”
He bites back a curse as he stares at his wife, who is gazing at him with a pleased smirk. Score one for the Mrs.
He’s never really thought about why he’s drawn to Paula Deen’s show. Although the food is certainly appealing (he recently watched an episode featuring Paula’s ooey gooey butter cake that he’s dying for Buffy to try), he knows it’s more than that. For so long, he searched for his place in this world, for a family, and while he found it with Connor, Cordelia and the gang, there was always a sense of the inevitable end to it all. When it did end, he feared he’d never find it again. Then he did, and it was more than he ever thought possible, and watching Paula’s show when her friends and family join her, he is reminded of the family he has with Buffy and the family he had. He recalls dinners with Wesley and Cordelia, watching Fred and Gunn as they danced around one another, raising Connor with the motley family that had gathered around him, making a life with Buffy and Ryan, and with those memories, there is finally peace.
Oh god, listen to him. Waxing poetically about a woman who once made a bacon cheeseburger with Krispy Kreme doughnuts for buns.
“About why I like Paula Deen? I don’t know, I just do. Maybe because she fixes comfort food, food that puts me in mind of family and dinners and holidays shared with loved ones,” he admits quietly. “It reminds me of what I had and what I have with you and Ryan, and that’s not something I take lightly.”
“Oh, Angel,” Buffy says as she turns to straddle him, her face mere inches from his. She can see the hint of pain in his eyes, but outshining it is love. Love for her and their son, love for his fallen family and friends. She presses a kiss to his forehead. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, Buffy. Oh, and Paula is pretty hot. There’s just something about the silver hair that really turns me on.”
Her mouth opens in mock anger and, with a raised eyebrow firmly in place, she reaches into his pajama bottoms. Angel lets out a whimper and his eyes flutter shut.
“Yeah, well does Paula know what to do to cause you to make that noise?” She whispers in his ear before showing him that while Paula may be an expert when it comes to cooking, Buffy is the expert when it comes to Angel.
Feed Lee Visit Lee
Summary: Angel has a new crush and it isn’t Buffy.
Author’s Notes: Written for the IWRY Ficathon. Thanks to Chrislee for hosting.