“The dreaded five-par cuckoo clock,” Xander spoke with dramatic flair. “So many have come. So few have conquered.”
Ted chose that moment to ask one of those perfectly normal questions that Buffy couldn’t answer truthfully.
“So, Buffy, I’m sure boys are lined up around the block trying to get a date with you.”
“Not really,” she answered. Buffy had been on enough dates with Angel at the Bronze that most of the school knew she was not single. There was plenty of gossip about who Angel was, none of it even close to the truth.
Willow tried to cover as she took her shot. “Oh, they are, but she’s only interested in… uh… her studies. Book-cracker Buffy, it’s kind of her nickname.”
Ted lined up his shot. “Glad to hear that. I bet that means your grades will be picking up soon.”
“My grades?” She moved next to her mom. “How does he know about my grades?”
“I told him. He wants to know all about you. He’s concerned, that’s a good thing.” She saw Ted shoot. “Nice shot, Ted!”
“Thanks, Joycee,” he replied. Joyce lined up her shot, and Ted held her arms from behind.
“Steady swing, lead to the right.”
They hit it together.
“Perfect,” Ted commented.
“Thanks to you,” Joyce smiled.
Buffy lined up her shot next.
“Eye on the ball… watch those elbows…” Ted instructed.
Buffy applied a little too much Slayer strength (which might have been an advantage in regular golf), and sent her ball into the bushes.
“Bad luck, little lady,” Ted commented.
“We won’t count it,” Joyce shook her head.
“We won’t?” Ted looked at her.
“Well, it’s just miniature golf.”
Ted got a serious expression on his face.
“It is, but the rules are the rules. What we teach her is what she takes out into the world when we’re not there, whether it’s at school or an unchaperoned party…”
He smiled at Buffy.
“I don’t mean to overstep my bounds, this is between you and your mother. I just think right is right.”
Buffy looked at her mother for support.
“He has a point…” Joyce said.
Not what she wanted to hear.
“Yah, I’ll just go hit from the rough.” She disappeared into the bushes and retrieved her ball. Looking around and not seeing anyone, she dropped the ball near the hole and kicked it in.
“Hey, how ‘bout that, I got a hole in two!” she called back over her shoulder.
“Beg to differ,” Ted said from right next to her.
Okay, how did he get that close without her noticing? He was like Angel – well, aside from not being a vampire, incredibly hot, or nice to her.
“Okay, so fine my score or whatever…” Buffy tried the “total admission of guilt” method.
“I think you’re missing the point here, little lady. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Why don’t people see that?”
“It’s just a game.”
“Right. It’s just a game. Do your own thing. Well I’m not wired that way. I’m here to tell you it is not a game, it does count, and I don’t stand for that kind of malarkey in my house.”
He was seriously creeping her out.
“Then I guess it’s a good thing I’m not in your house,” she retorted.
“Do you want me to slap that smartass mouth of yours?”
Buffy’s adrenaline spiked. She gripped the golf club tighter. If he laid a hand on her, she intended to show him the error of his ways.
Joyce, Willow, and Xander came into view. Ted instantly reverted to his friendly self. The rest of the game went fine, but Buffy was permanently wigged out.
She needed to do something about Ted.
Angel answered the knock at his door, and was greeted with the not unwelcome, if slightly unexpected, sight of his girlfriend.
“Angel.” Buffy came in, and sat down on the couch. She had a sour expression on her face, and Angel had a guess as to what it was.
“Problems with Ted?”
“We went mini-golfing today. Xander, Willow, Mom, Ted, and me.”
“Ted threatened to slap my face after I kicked my ball in.”
This got Angel’s attention.
“I don’t get why everyone else likes him so much. He’s a total control freak, and Mom’s been completely different since he’s been around.”
“OK, but why did you come by at 3:00 in the morning to talk about it?”
Buffy looked down.
“I had a dream – could be a Slayer vision. I was coming back from patrolling, and Ted was in my room.”
“Buffy…” Angel took her in his arms.
“I’m just… I’m worried that he’s going to find out about me going out at night – or worse, about the slaying itself.”
“Don’t worry.” Angel kissed her on the cheek. “We’ll work it out. You and me. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
They simply lay there for a while, until Buffy got up suddenly.
“I have an idea.”
“What if, I told Mom and Ted about us – not the whole ‘you’re a vampire’ part, but about us dating. That way, if Ted ever catches me going out at night, I can always say I was with you.”
Angel smiled. “So, I’m your cover story.”
She nodded. “I mean, half the time, I’ll be telling the truth anyway.”
She smiled back, and kissed him.
Joyce was humming to herself when Buffy came down the stairs.
“Good morning, sunshine,” she greeted Buffy. “I’ve got juice, I’ve got sticky buns. Don’t they smell good?”
“Hi,” Buffy took a bun.
“Ted made them.”
Buffy immediately replaced the sticky bun.
“What?” Joyce put her hands on her hips.
“I’d just like to eat something around here that Ted didn’t make.”
“What kind of an attitude is that?”
“Look, Mom, I know you think he’s great and all but –“
Joyce didn’t even let her finish the sentence. She was frustrated with how her daughter was acting towards her boyfriend.
“He’s gone out of his way to be nice to you, and you couldn’t find two words to say to him on Saturday. Now I don’t expect you to love him right away like I do, but I do expect you to treat him decently.”
Buffy pounced on her mother’s choice of words. “You… love him?”
Oops. “I don’t know, that kind of slipped out… but I guess… it’s not exactly like men beat down the door when you’re a…”
“…single parent,” Buffy finished.
Joyce composed herself before continuing. “I would never have anything to do with anyone who didn’t care about you. But he does, I don’t understand why you can’t see that.”
“He threatened me,” Buffy deadpanned.
“What?” Ted would never do such a thing.
“He said he was going to slap my face,” Buffy explained.
Joyce smiled. “He never said any such thing. Ted told me what happened. He caught you cheating, didn’t he?”
Buffy got a guilty expression on her face. “Yes, I kicked my ball in, so put me in jail, but he wigged –“
“And he didn’t say anything about it in front of the others, did he?”
“No, but –“ Buffy stammered.
“I think that was pretty decent of him.”
She began eating pieces of the sticky bun, swallowing before continuing.
“Ted says we're just going to have to give you time to come around. Speaking of which, he's making dinner for us tonight, please be here promptly at six.”
Buffy was quiet for a minute. “Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Uh-oh. “What is it?”
“You remember Angel?”
“Angel…” she tried to remember. “Uh, the college boy who was tutoring you in history?”
“Right. Well, he’s… and I’m…”
Please don’t tell me you’re pregnant.
“We’ve been dating for the past three months.”
“Oh.” Beat. “And, you kept this from me because…”
“Well, I wasn’t sure you’d approve. He is older than me.”
“Too old, if you ask my opinion,” Joyce replied. “Why are you telling me now?”
“Fairness?” Buffy replied. “I walked in on you making out with your boyfriend, it’s time I told you about mine.”
“Well, can he come to dinner tonight?” Joyce asked. It would be easier to deal with this with Ted there.
After school, Buffy went over to Angel’s.
“Hi.” She gave him a quick kiss. “OK, here’s the sitch. Ted’s making dinner tonight, and you’re coming.”
“Well, I told Mom about us this morning, and she’s pretty insistent that you come to dinner.”
Angel took it in stride. “So, what should I do?”
“First, you need to wear something nice. I’d prefer you make a decent impression on my Mom, and possibly Ted.”
Angel opened his closet, and pulled out a red silk shirt.
“Good. Next, we need to work out a cover story for you.”
“A cover story?”
“Look. Mom’s going to be asking all kinds of questions about you, and most of our answers will have to be lies. For instance, we can’t tell her your real age.”
“So, we’ll make that up.” She hesitated before asking the next question. “How old were you – when you were turned?”
“Great. We’ll use that. Next, she’ll want to know your full name…”
Joyce was rather agitated at the moment. She had planned this as a simple dinner with her boyfriend and daughter. Now, Buffy was bringing home her boyfriend, a boy Joyce had only met briefly, and almost a year ago at that.
All Joyce could remember about Angel was that he was a college student, he had tutored Buffy in history, and he was significantly older than Buffy. Admittedly, none of Buffy’s previous boyfriends had been much, but at least they were her age.
To make matters worse, Buffy hadn’t come home yet. She had called to say that she and Angel would be there at six o’clock. Which meant that the next time Joyce saw her daughter, she would be with her boyfriend.
At 5:59, the door opened. Buffy was there, wearing her favorite leather jacket. Standing next to her was an older boy – or perhaps man was the better word – wearing a red silk shirt and a black jacket on top of that.
He dressed nicely, Joyce had to give him that.