Setting: "Some Assembly Required"
Summary: Sometimes Angel is just a jerk. Let's not make excuses for him.
Angel brightened when he saw a female in the parking lot, but another second’s observation told him that it wasn’t Buffy. She was, however, familiar: that friend of Buffy’s that she didn’t really like. Cordelia. He swallowed his disappointment and moved to hurry on before she caught sight of him and started making those overt romantic advances that she considered small talk.
Then he stopped. Why should he hurry? If he didn’t want to be seen, he wouldn’t be seen. He wasn’t that out of touch, was he? Just the previous night, Buffy had chided him for surprising her in the cemetery, and she was on the hunt and magically imbued with the power to sense vampires.
On the other hand...he remembered the events that had followed that one, and winced. One newly risen vampire, and it had almost gotten the best of him and endangered Buffy on top of it. His relative weakness could no longer be an excuse. He still wasn’t anywhere near his peak, but he had been back in the game for nearly a year; he and Buffy together should be able to dispatch a single opponent without falling all over each other. He hated to admit it, but he’d been distracted. Buffy calling him jealous of Xander. Buffy defending Xander. Buffy dancing with Xander...
Cordelia moved toward her car. Angel followed, letting the fence conceal him but making enough sound for her to hear. When he saw her look nervously around herself and say, “Hello?”, he told himself to consider his point proven and move on, but by then he was having fun. After all, he wasn’t going to hurt her. Maybe she could even use a reminder to stay on her guard in Sunnydale at night.
She ran to her car. He approached silently. She dropped her keys. He let her see his feet. In the old days, this would have been the point where he closed in...
”I’d take you on a fox hunt, run with you over the hills..."
“Whyever would you want that, dear boy? Such a human sport, no real purpose to it. Hardly even a kill at the end, just some poor vermin hiding in its burrow.”
“Aye, and there’s the beauty. Imagine its fear, Darla. The horses and the hounds, the men with their guns, and all of them pounding after one fox. Imagine how it dies alone, yearning for its home.”
“Hmm, that does paint quite a picture. I believe we can improve on this dream of yours, Angelus. Take away the horses and hounds and guns...”
“And trade the vermin for another kind of fox. Yes, you see it now.”
When he cornered Cordelia, it was not into her own home, but instead a dumpster. He laughed to himself and walked by as if he hadn’t seen – a novice trick; she’d need to learn not to fall for that one.
The smell of garbage on her when he finally came face to face with her and ended the game was terrible, but the residual smell of fear was sweet enough to cover it.
In truth he’d hardly even felt a temptation to kill this one, and he had no problem feigning humanity for her and subtly assuring her of her safety. But the next time he met another vampire, he was going to remember this: he was the hunter.