Angel In A Bottle By Angie

Angel glared at the gloom, there was someone here, he knew it. A beating heart, the sort he wouldn't normally pursue except as his evil alter-ego, except this heart wasn't afraid. Racing with adrenaline, perhaps, but the man wasn't afraid, he was revelling in the confrontation.

Which was strange, because he had yet to show his face.

An hour of tracking the guy, and he still hadn't seen his face. Angel wondered if he was losing his touch, or if this guy was somehow less human than he'd assumed. Hard to guess, without a quick taste at least. Angel smiled at the thought, then waited as a wave of guilt washed over him.

He wasn't supposed to think that about humans, not even bad guys.

And this was a bad guy, the trail of bodies left him in no doubt about that.

So what? When would he stop hiding if he already knew Angel was there?

"You know, I'm not having the greatest day, do you think we could get on with this?" Angel decided it was time to try to elicit a response.

"Have it your way, Angelus."

Angelus? Oh crap.

The thought remained unfinished.


The sun had been streaming through the blinds in Buffy and Willow's dorm room for hours, but after a heavy night of patrolling, snuggling, studying and moping between them, neither Buffy nor Willow was ready to believe it was morning. The knocking continued.

In any other town, in someone else's dorm room, the easiest recourse might have been to invite in the knocker so that he, or she, at the very least wouldn't have anything left to knock on. But this was Sunnydale, and somehow even in broad daylight neither of the two semi-conscious girls considered random invitations a good move. Finally, after mentally trying to jar Willow from her continued dozing, Buffy struggled from beneath the covers and went to open the door.


"Buffy Summers?"

Buffy raised her one functional eyelid to regard the young man stood at her door. He didn't look like a demon, but then most things didn't in broad daylight. And when did the daylight get this broad? What does the broad even mean? Is sunlight kind of fat? Buffy blinked, question for Willow later maybe. "Uh, yes."

"These are for you." The man thrust a small bunch of flowers, carefully wedged into some sort of rather elderly looking vase, into her hands.

"But I don't even know you!" Buffy was pretty sure this would all make sense as soon as she was awake. Unless she was dreaming anyway. Balancing the vase in one hand she pinched herself, hard.

"Delivery, they're from Angel." The man was already backing down the corridor, apparently quite hurriedly, causing Buffy to briefly wonder whether there actually was something wrong with her that Willow and Xander had never quite got round to mentioning. Could there be something that terrible? Then she remembered - Riley. No, there was no terrible, flower delivery men were just one of those things that were going to have to wait until later, during regular Buffy waking hours.

Preferably with the support of Willow waking hours.

But why would Angel be sending her flowers? It was a puzzle, and not one that Buffy really wanted to get into in detail - which was likely to become quite tricky just as soon as Willow came round.

"Will! How is my best bud this morning?"

A rumpled, sleep deprived red head stared at her slightly vacantly. "Are you OK, Buffy?"

"I am," Buffy beamed at her. "And so are you." She held out the small vase gleefully. "You have flowers."

"For me?" Surprise and hope warred for space on Willow's face for a moment before they gave way to suspicion. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely, 100% guaranteed Willow flowers. In a little vase!" Buffy insisted, brightly.

"Oz?" Willow's forehead crinkled as hope flared up again, this time more cautiously.

"Sorry, Will." Buffy's face fell slightly.

"But there's no one else who...."

"You have a secret admirer," announced Buffy.

Willow's face fell, "I'm a source of fun and ridicule? I only just got to college. I can be a geek and fit in here, that's the whole point. Why would anyone...?"

"Or possibly someone likes you? You said it Will, it's not high school, secret admirer doesn't equal torment and pain. Well," Buffy paused, remembering Parker, "not necessarily anyway."

"Is it Xander? Is he trying to make me feel better? Coz it's sweet, but then I feel kind of guilty again about all the demons and stuff. And you and Spike, with Riley there. And that whole thing with Giles! I'm not deserving of sweetness. Except possibly in cookies, and then only if I share."

"Slow down, Will, isn't it possible that there's a guy out there on campus who happened to fall for those Wiley Willow charms we talked about?"

"Not usually," protested Willow.

"But possibly?" suggested Buffy. "Just maybe?" Buffy grinned. "Ha! Yay me - I have a plan. I might not know who these are from, but if I help you prove that it's a no-making-fun-flower then you have to promise to enjoy. Deal?"

"OK." Willow still looked suspicious, but Buffy could tell she was wavering, and if she could just get Willow to believe that someone other than Oz would find her attractive, it was bound to have a huge effect on how Willow felt about the whole Oz thing in the first place. Plus, big bonus, Buffy wouldn't find herself explaining to anyone how her ex came to be sending her flowers. It was the perfect plan.

"Here, you can start with Xander." Before Willow could even respond, Buffy had pressed the speed dial.


Willow stared at the flowers, daisies. She wasn't doing magic, exactly, just trying to persuade them to give up their secrets through the sheer force of her mind. More fifth grade hopefulness than magic really, which was probably why it wasn't working. The flowers remained stubbornly silent. Switching to her resolve face, in the theory that it could bend the will of the most determined animal, Willow proved conclusively that vegetables and minerals are not subject to the same forces.

Still nothing. And she had no clue who they might have been from either, it was infuriating. Nice, because even if it was a fantasy the idea that someone liked her made her feel all giddy inside and not at all thinking about Oz, but frustrating. And a little nerve-wracking, what if she was subjecting him to Xander like ignorance? Or if he really was laughing behind her back? What if it really was just Xander and he was a better liar than he used to be so she couldn't hear it in his voice anymore?

What if it was Giles??

Willow shuddered, scary thought. Giles was great, but flowers from Giles was right up there with, well, other scary things she didn't want to think about. Like vampires, and Armageddon, and frogs.

"Come on flowers, you can do it." Willow glared at them some more.

"Do what?"

"What?" Willow nearly fell off the bed in shock. The flowers spoke! It worked!! "Tell me who..." Wait. She recognised that voice. "A-angel?"

"Ah, no." A pause. "Who's Angel?"

Willow frowned. "Don't lie to me, mister. I recognise that voice. You're Angel, in the flowers.... Unless you're outside and you've got really good at ventriloquism." Willow peered cautiously out of the window and into the darkness. Buffy would be patrolling by now, or possibly out with Riley somewhere. "You've not got into ventriloquism have you?" she demanded.

"Willow? OK, it's Angel, I admit it. You can stop the inquisition now."

"Sorry," Willow briefly looked abashed. "Wait, we have to get you to Buffy - o-or Giles. We have to get them to help you! You can't beat up demons from a plant pot!"

"Will? Can't we just..."

"What?" Willow asked cautiously.

"Can't we just figure this out on our own, it's, umm, not something I want to tell Buffy about right away."

"But..." Willow frowned. "But Buffy missage, you have missage. You both have. Oooooh, but there's Riley, and... Wait, why don't you want to see Buffy? Is this like that Thanksgiving thing?"

"No! Nothing like that, it's just...."

"Oooooh." Willow grinned, she couldn't help herself. "You're embarrassed aren't you?"

"I'm not.... Well, OK, yeah. I'm trapped in a vase full of flowers and I can't fight my way out. Xander would be embarrassed." Angel grunted.

"Well sometimes he's easily embarrassed you know, like that time Buffy saved him from Larry, or when.... I see your point. B-but still, Angel, don't you want to get out more than you want to no, err, blush. Do vampires blush?" Willow pondered for a moment, then added, "Are you still a vampire in there? What happened to you?"

Willow could practically hear Angel's reluctance to explain. It was several minutes before he spoke again at all, to the point where she'd started debating whether she was imagining the whole thing, or whether she should just ignore his request and silly probably-still-vampire embarrassment and get help. It wasn't like she was really qualified to do this sort of thing on her own.

Finally, he muttered, "I'm still a vampire."

"Great! Well, not great, but... you know what I mean. So what happened?"

"There was a warlock."

"Pffft, there's always a warlock," Willow shrugged, rolling her eyes. "Can't they think of something new?"

"You've seen a vampire in a vase before?"

"Well not strictly seen before, but... It seems very unoriginal. Vampire genie. Although, also very cute - a little bitty Angel genie, in a vase. Do you get a costume?"

"I'm not a genie."

"Oooooh, are you sure? I could rub the vase and check?"

"I'm not - oh fine, you might as well try it," Angel sighed.

"Are you really sure you don't want Buffy here? Or Giles? I bet he'd be great with vases, probably knows every enchantment there is, Giles is a genius you know. And you know he can not tell Buffy stuff, coz of that other time." Willow's hands inched towards the vase, almost afraid to pick it up at all, despite already having handled it several times. "So how do people usually do this? They just rub the side with their fingers?"

"Pretty much, if you follow the stories," agreed Angel, still sounding distinctly grumpy.

Closing her eyes tightly, Willow rubbed the side of the vase hard enough to give herself mild friction burns, just as the dorm room door was flung open.

"Angel?" Willow jumped, not expecting him to appear away from the vase.

"No Will, that was last week," her best friend informed her authoritatively. "He's gone back to that city we love so much because it's far, far from here."

"Xander!" Willow sheepishly tried to edge in front of the vase, even as she heard Angel grumbling.

"I'm not here," Angel hissed.

"Sorry, Will? Didn't catch that. Ooooo, you have flowers. The Buffster mentioned secret admirer, is it someone I know?"

"Is it someone he knows... the boy's a moron." Willow heard Angel mutter in the back ground.

"Err, Xander, that's why they call it a secret admirer, because it's secret," Willow told him gently, ignoring the fact that her secret admirer had become distinctly unlikely since she'd discovered Angel in the vase. Something she was going to have to have words with Buffy about - if she could do so without breaking her promise to Angel.

"Ah, but he's a great friend of mine already, made my Wills look much happier and with less Oz missage. This is of the good. Although, I came prepared with excess ice cream to help this fantastic development along, what do ya say Will. You, me, Indian TV and Ben and Jerry?"

"Kill me now," Angel cursed.

"Did Anya kick you out?" asked Willow cautiously.

"Can't I just want to spend time with my bestest bud? Cheering her less than cheer that she's been having, making all well in the world, hanging out, soaking up the college vibes... and some ice cream," pouted Xander.

"You're not paranoid I'm going to make you a demon...?"

"Whoa, stop right there Will, not even wanting to hear those words again, and no, I'm not, I just thought I'd stop by. Is it really that unusual?" Xander looked slightly hurt, and it was starting to make Willow feel guilty.

"Well... it's just you haven't been around that much, with the college thing, a-and the Anya thing, it's a surprise. A good surprise." Willow beamed at him.

"Oh no, Willow you have to be joking!" exclaimed Angel from behind her back, thankfully still out of range of Xander, but loud enough that Willow once more found herself blushing.

"It's nothing," she spluttered.

"What's nothing?" Xander looked puzzled, and slightly concerned. "Are you OK, Will? Coffee?"

"Yes, because I had to study. A-and now I've finished studying," she added.

"That's my Wills," grinned Xander, plonking himself down on Buffy's bed hard enough to shake several of Buffy's ornaments and reaching for the TV remote. "So which channel do ya fancy?"


Buffy still wasn't back.

Admittedly, sharing a room with the slayer was bound to make for some unusual hours, but Willow was pretty sure the sun was beginning to rise. Shouldn't the vampires have gone to bed by now? Also, she was no closer to working out how to get Angel out of the vase.

Not to mention Angel wasn't exactly being forthcoming about exactly how he came to be trapped in there in the first place. He was too busy being embarrassed and trying to pretend that he wasn't in fact shrunk down to the size of Willow's thumb. Willow sighed, at least Xander had been good company, all the vampire seemed to be managing was getting increasingly tetchy.

And was tetchy better or worse than embarrassed? Willow wasn't at all sure, although she was vaguely hoping that tetchy might bring the opportunity to tell Buffy what had happened, possibly even Giles. Giles could do with a good project to get his teeth into anyway.

And maybe that was a poor choice of words, even words in her head.

Willow turned her attention back to the flowers.

"So," she announced to herself, "rubbing didn't work. OK, no great surprise there, although I'm a bit disappointed about the whole costume thing. Time and Xander-triggered annoyance didn't make Angel burst out - although, also fairly unlikely... Removing the flowers didn't do anything... Ha!" Willow beamed at the world in general, currently observed only by Mr Gordo.

Gripping the vase tightly in her hand, she flung it to the ground, watching as it smashed into a dozen small pieces and the flowers scattered over the floor of her room.



"Willow, are you OK?"

"Uuunnnghh," groaned Willow, wishing she hadn't waited up for Buffy. "Is it morning already?"

"Willow, it's Angel, are you OK."

The voice seemed increasingly insistent, and somehow rather dissimilar to even early-morning-got-no-sleep Buffy. "Huh? Where? What's.... Oh."

Not that Angel wasn't nice to look at, but somehow Willow didn't feel all that pleased to see him. Unless, of course, she'd freed him and he was currently waking her up in her room - that would be nice. Maybe she'd fallen on the smashed vase and bumped her head, or something equally klutzy.

Willow opened her eyes fully, and avoiding the concerned vampire took in her surroundings. Nope, no room, just a whole lot of, well, empty space.

"Hey, Angel. Guess I can't tease you about being tiny anymore," Willow grinned ruefully. "You're not too upset about that are ya?"

"No, Willow, it's fine, I'm just sorry I got you involved in this at all. Are you OK? You were out for quite a while."

"I was out?" Willow frowned. "I thought the point was I was in?"

Angel smiled. "Unconscious, I was worried about you. It was rough enough for me, when I, umm, arrived, and you're well..."

"Weak and pathetic?" sighed Willow. "It's OK, I'll deal."

"I didn't mean - ." Angel started to apologise.

" - It's fine. Not like I managed to save the day is it? Nope, good old Willow, managed to get herself in trouble again," she grumbled.

"You may have had a little help," pointed out Angel, smirking at her slightly.

"That's a good point, this evil found me, not remotely a Willow-blunder," she perked up as quickly as she'd got down. "Sorry, issues."

"You want to talk about it?" he offered, bravely Willow thought as he had no idea what he was getting into. "Was it Xander?"

"Not really," Willow told him, watching as a flicker of disappointment crossed Angel's face before he smiled again.

"Damn, I was hoping I could maybe get an excuse to hit him."

"You'd hit him for me? That's so sweet!" smiled Willow. "Oh, except, wait, you can't go round hitting my best friend," she poked him in the chest. "I'll turn you into a rat."

"Ow!" grumbled Angel, rubbing his chest. "Have you turned Amy back yet?"

"I think I'm getting closer." Willow's face fell.

"Then I definitely won't be hitting Xander and inducing your wrath," promised Angel, his eyes meeting hers as he checked that she understood the joke.

Willow grinned. "You told a funny!" she declared. "I don't think I've ever heard you tell a funny before. I like it."

"Are you really OK?" Angel's concern was touching.

Exaggerating every motion, Willow checked her limbs, groaning slightly as she discovered just how stiff they felt. "Ow! Yes, I'm OK, how long was I unconscious?"

Angel shrugged, holding out his wrist to show her his watch.

The hands seemed to be almost vibrating. Sometimes stationary, then other times leaping forward in a burst of motion.

"Oh, I see." She struggled to her feet, aided slightly by a good tug from Angel. "What are we going to do?"

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