Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Angel/Cordelia, Fred
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe MC 2: Academia: Angel +/any, somebody teaching Angel something related to technology requested by geckogirl89
Word Count: 2,248
Date Written: 17 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“Are you sure she’s going to like this?” Angel asked pensively from where he stood staring over Fred’s shoulder.
“O’ course she will. Why do you keep askin’ me that?” Fred wondered aloud, glancing up at the computer screen in front of her as though she could see Angel’s reflection in it when she knew fully well that the Vampire could not cast a reflection.
“It’s just . . . “ He hesitated and almost squirmed. There were certainly times when the centuries-old hero reminded Fred of a little boy, and this was one of those times. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Ah know,” Fred said gently. “That’s why Ah’m helpin’ you.”
“And it seems . . . well . . . silly.”
“It’s meant to be a little silly. Th’ silliness helps it to be cute.”
“‘There’s no deneighing you’re purrfect’,” Angel once more read the words inscribed above the horse and the black cat who were touching noses in the picture. “People get paid to make these kinds of things?” he asked her.
“All th’ time,” Fred answered. “They don’t get paid a lot,” she clarified, “but they do sell ‘em a lot.”
“No wonder Cordy says I should charge for my services,” he murmured.
Fred continued to explain as though she hadn’t heard him, “An’ then if they can sell th’ image to a company that makes actual paper cards, they’ll make even more.”
“Maybe I should have gone with a paper card.”
“Ah thought you said you didn’t want her to know it came from you?”
“Well, no, I don’t.”
Fred swiveled in Cordelia’s desk chair and turned to look up at him. “Trust me, this is th’ last thing Cordy would expect from you, Angel,” she assured him confidently. She looked back at the image and eyed the horse wearing the bridal veil and the kitty in a tux. “An’ she’s going to love this. Cordy’s got a thing for horses, ya know.”
“No,” he said quietly, “I didn’t.”
“She doesn’t talk about him often, but th’ one animal that she did have growin’ up was a horse. She lost him when her parents lost everythin’ because o’ that tax evasion. Th’ things people put their kids through,” she added softly, turning back to the computer screen. “You know, it was her momma who always made her think she had to be so perfect.”
“I always suspected,” he said, “that her parents had a lot to do with it.” She didn’t often talk about her family, but he had noticed the way she tried to keep them from finding out exactly what she was doing for a living. He’d even caught her, once or twice, referring to helping a client as a “gig”. He knew they had no idea that their only daughter was a secretary and kept expecting to see her name up in lights on a movie screen. Not for the first time, Angel wondered if he was holding her back, but despite the fact that she always said he was too giving, he could be selfish with those things that mattered most to him. He didn’t want to even consider Cordelia getting a real role in a movie -- because that meant he would surely lose her. The mere thought was unbearable, and he found himself batting moisture out of his dark eyes.
“Okay,” Fred said, clicking a few more times with the strange thing she and Cordy called a mouse. He still didn’t understand the reference. The object wasn’t alive in any way, and it didn’t appear as a mouse on the screen. It also did not have a cat chasing it, so he honestly did not understand why it was called a mouse. Not to mention that humans had a tendency to freak around mice, something he’d experienced firsthand last Winter when a mouse had appeared in the office. Neither Cordy nor Fred had gotten off of her desk until he’d scooped the little rodent up and carried him back outside. He recalled Gunn laughing his head off because Wesley had also refused to step foot in the office during that time and couldn’t help smirking a little himself.
“Now we just need to fix th’ music.”
“Music?’ he asked in surprise.
“Yeah. It’ll play when she opens th’ card.” He watched as she clicked a drop down menu and began to scroll through the options. “They have some classical,” she offered, thinking it would appeal to him.
“No,” he said quickly.
She glanced up at him with her eyebrows slightly raised in surprise. “Okaaaay -- “
“I’m sorry,” he clarified. “It’s just . . . Classical music doesn’t always have a good association for me. There were times when . . . “ He dropped his voice and his gaze. “ . . . when we killed to . . . “
Fred nodded quickly. “Ah understand,” she said, a shiver sliding down her spine at the idea of Angelus and Darla killing while waltzing to Beethoven’s music. “Something besides classical . . . Hum, what else do you like? Do you listen to?”
Angel slowly raised his gaze to the screen as she began to read out titles. He couldn’t do very much with a computer, but he could read its glowing screen. “That one,” he said, pointing to a title.
“You know Bryan Adams?” Fred asked in surprise.
She sighed. “Th’ artist,” she explained.
“No,” he answered honestly, “but I like the title.” She laughed; he was surprised when the sound he usually found uplifting made his pale cheeks burn. “It’s . . . It’s how I feel,” he said defensively.
Fred hushed. “She’ll like it,” she assured him and selected Everything I Do I Do For You. “An’ that’s sweet. Really.”
“Then why’d you laugh?”
“Angel . . . Everybody knows that song. Rather they like it or not, they still know it.”
“Not everybody -- “
“Yes, pretty much everybody.” Fred nodded insistingly. “Even mah folks know it. But it’s okay you don’t know it. Ah didn’t laugh because o’ that.”
“Then why did you laugh?”
“Because . . . well . . . th’ only reason why you chose it was th’ title. It could be about sex or have cuss words in it, an’ you wouldn’t even know it.”
“Does it?” he asked, looking at her.
“Well, no,” she admitted.
“Then what’s wrong with using it?” he questioned.
“Nothing.” She gave him a small, reassuring smile. “Absolutely nothin’. An’ like Ah said, Cordy’ll like it.”
“You keep saying that -- “
“Because she will. Angel, everything about this card we’re makin’ is so Cordelia. Th’ horse, th’ cuteness, even th’ thing about her bein’ perfect. You know how important that is to Cordy. An’ th’ song -- Well, any woman would turn to mush if a guy dedicated that song to her.”
“Yes. It’s literally what th’ title says. You’re tellin’ her that you do everything you do for her.”
“I do,” he whispered.
Fred’s smile grew and turned tender. “Ah know,” she answered him. “Ah’m just surprised you’re willin’ to tell her that.”
He recoiled from the screen. “She’s not going to know I sent this, right?”
“Right.” Fred abruptly got up out of her chair.
“What are you doing?” he asked, his voice pitching a note with his disturbance. “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere,” she answered. “Ah’m just goin’ to let you type th’ message.”
“Me? I don’t type.”
She looked at him. “Do you want me to know what you’re telling her?”
“You already do -- “ he started to say.
“Every word o’ it?”
He shut his mouth. “Hum . . . Okay . . . “ he said uncertainly. He moved around her and sat down into Cordelia’s chair. For a moment, the lingering scent of her perfume wrapped around him. His eyes drifted closed, and he sniffed. It was a heady smell not because of the fragrance itself but because she wore it. He remembered nuzzling her hair, leaning toward her neck . . . She’d thought the entire time his actions had all been about Darla; he’d never once told her how wrong she’d been. Reopening his eyes, he couldn’t help recalling that they had been in this very spot when he had nuzzled her and she had shouted about her “personal bubble”.
“Where do I type it?” he asked, looking at the screen.
“You’re already in th’ right field.”
He blinked. “Field?” he questioned. “Computer language is so strange. First there are mice, and now fields? There’s no grass on here!”
Fred burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it. He’d made the complaint in complete seriousness. She would have thought anyone else would have been pulling her leg to say such a thing, but not Angel . . . Putting a hand over her mouth, Fred forced herself to stop laughing. A moment later, lowering her hand, she told him gently, “Just start typin’. It’ll go where it needs to be.”
“Oooookay . . . “ he trailed out the word as he looked down at the keys beneath his arched fingers. “These letters make no sense,” he muttered as he started hitting one key, slowly moving to the next, and hitting it. “Their order is completely illogical.”
“It’s called Qwerty,” Fred explained. “Th’ letters are arranged that way, because it’s supposed to make it easier to strike th’ ones you’ll use most often.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier and faster if they would simply list them in order?” Angel returned.
He was so serious that Fred had to cover her mouth again to keep from laughing at him once more. It seemed like she waited forever for him to type out the message. She could type over a hundred words a minute with ease, but Angel was taking a full minute to type one to three words. She sighed and fought to refrain from looking over his shoulder or simply taking the keyboard from him. If she was ever going to teach him about computers, she had to learn to have patience with him.
“There,” he finally said, pushing back from the chair.
“You didn’t have to sign it,” Fred commented, resuming her position at the keyboard.
“I thought you weren’t looking?”
“Ah . . . “ She glanced away. “Ah didn’t mean to. Ah just happened to notice that you skipped several lines. That’s all Ah read, really, Angel: ‘a secret admirer’.”
“Fine. Take it off,” he muttered.
Fred shook her head. “We can leave it if you want.”
“That’s fine. Take it off.”
She smiled. Cordy and Lorne were right: the Vampire could be touchy. “Ah just don’t want it to be too obvious that it’s comin’ from someone who doesn’t know a thing about computers. Neither Wes or Gunn would sign a cyber card like that.”
“So you think it might give me away?”
“Yes,” she answered quickly.
“Then take it off!”
“Taking,” she muttered as she backspaced over the last line. “We’re almost done,” she told him a second later. “Ah just have to fill out the E-mail addresses now.”
“But I don’t have an E-mail address.”
“Actually you do, but Ah’m not gonna use it. You have one for work. But if we use it, Cordy’ll know it came from you.”
“Then what are you going to use?”
“Ah’m not,” she replied. “Watch.”
“NoATEmailDOTcom?” he questioned, frowning. “What’s that?”
“No E-mail address,” Fred replied. When Angel continued to look lost, she further explained, “It’s a defunct E-mail address, one that th’ system will accept thinkin’ it’s real but won’t do anything or go anywhere or, an’ most importantly, tell Cordy anythin’ about who sent her th’ card.”
“Ah,” Angel commented as though he got it, which she knew he didn’t.
“You’re goin’ to make her mornin’,” Fred told him sincerely, “or, rather, her afternoon when she comes in.”
“I hope so,” he murmured. His frown this time had nothing to do with any lack of understanding but instead complete comprehension. “She’s been so down since she lost that last audition.”
“Can Ah tell you a secret?” Fred whispered.
“Of course,” he answered, looking down at her.
“Ah’m kinda glad she did. Ah keep worryin’ she’s gonna get a role an’ leave us.”
Angel waited only a heartbeat of a moment before he admitted, “Me, too.” They smiled at each other, and Fred sent the card.
The rest of their morning was spent quietly and separately, but they both looked up that evening when Cordelia, sitting at her computer, suddenly let out a high-pitched screech. “ANGEL!” she cried, leaping up.
Angel’s pale brow furrowed. “Cordy?” he asked softly and uncertainly.
She jumped up and down like she had when he’d bought her new clothes, still squealing.
He glanced meaningfully at Fred. “I thought you said she wouldn’t know?”
“She shouldn’t!” Fred considered the situation for a moment before demanding, “What did you write in that -- ?”
Another squeal from Cordy cut off her words just before she could completely give them away. Cordelia sprinted across the room, as Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne all leaned back in their individual chairs and watched with big grins, and threw her arms around Angel. She kissed him, simultaneously stunning him into silence, making him glad he’d sent the card and she knew the truth, and making both their fondest dreams a reality.
She was still bouncing when her mouth finally lifted from his. “And, Fred, you had to help him!” She was practically glowing. “Thank you!”
“Huh -- “ Fred said uncertainly. “How’d you know?” she finally asked.
“Simple.” Cordelia beamed brilliantly up at a stunned Angel. “He’s the only one who would ever say he’d wanted to be inside my personal bubble!” She threw her arms around her man and kissed him again and again as their friends looked on with smiles.