Title: Draw Back Your Bow
Summary: Buffyverse/_Cupid_ hybrid. But I'm hoping that you won't have to know anything about _Cupid_ to understand this story. Response to the January whiteknight list challenge: Work _Buffy_ characters into another tv show.
Pairing: Xander/Angel Oz/Willow Oz/Giles
Distribution: List archives as applicable. Otherwise, please ask. If nothing else, it will eventually end up on my page -- http://www.geocities.com/meaganola
Spoiler: Not really. And the curse is different. That is explained in the story
Disclaimer: Of *course* they belong to someone else. If they were mine, things would be different. For one thing, _Cupid_ would still be on the air. For another, all the guys (on both shows) would discover that their wardrobes had been mysteriously replaced with boxers and silk bathrobes. Specifically, the Buffyverse people belong to Mutant Enemy, Fox, WB, and anyone else I forgot. _Cupid_ belongs to Mandalay Television, Columbia TriStar Television, Global Entertainment Productions, and ABC. I mean no harm. And I especially mean no insult to Jeremy Piven. I won't bore everyone with a list of things I've watched just because he had a bit part in it, but suffice it to say that I'm a big fan.
Note: The title comes from the Sam Cooke classic "Cupid," of course. Now I must skedaddle home so I can dig out my Sam Cooke albums. Dedicated to Adalisa because I don't think this idea would have occurred to me if she hadn't written that wonderful _Cupid_ series. And dedicated to my friend Dale (who will probably never see this thing) for being _Buffy_- and _Cupid_-addicted with me. Also, he wondered if Cupid would ever attempt to match not-traditionally-happy-on-tv couples--gay couples, for example. The show got canceled before that could happen, but that doesn't mean I can't do this.
DRAW BACK YOUR BOW
Angel sighed. He couldn't remember just how he had been conned into allowing this annoying person to move in with him, but there they were. Roommates. A vampire and a human who didn't know he was living with a vampire but who was under the impression that he himself was a Roman god. Cupid, to be exact. And a slob. "Do you even know what a dishwasher *is*?"
Xander glanced over his shoulder. "Yeah. It's that noisy thing that keeps me awake when I try to take a nap." He went back to reading the personal ads, flipping back and forth between the "Men Seeking Woman" and "Women Seeking Men," circling and numbering likely matches. Angel rolled his eyes. The guy insisted that he could find anyone's soulmate -- *had* to find everyone's soulmate. But, of course, he couldn't go out and get his own girlfriend and spend time at someone else's apartment. No, Cupid would die instantly if he had sex with a mortal. Or so Xander announced,loudly and frequently.
Now Angel's alarm clock sounded. Time to go to work. Both of them. Once again, he wondered what forces of fate he had pissed off. Working *and* living with Xander Harris? Oh, excuse me, Cupid, the Roman god of love, in the human form of Xander Harris. Maybe that psychiatrist of his would have a breakthrough. Soon. *Very* soon, or Angel might have to go back on his promise to not kill anyone. And Angel took his promises very seriously, so this would indeed be a Very Bad Thing To Do.
On this particular evening, the Bronze was having a slow evening. The musical attraction was a polite redheaded young man with a guitar. A similarly polite redheaded young woman sat at a nearby table. Between songs, he would glance at her as if to make sure things were okay between them -- and she would resolutely gaze at the newspaper unfolded in front of her. Xander watched the pair for a good thirty minutes before deciding he should interfere. Angel realized what he was about to attempt and grabbed his arm. "Hey, man. Don't. He'll leave, and then we'll be without music. I don't want to have to listen to you rambling all night."
Xander pulled his arm away, pointedly ignoring Angel's plea, as usual.
And made his way to the young woman's table. "Hello there. Can I get you something to drink?"
She shook her head and began to answer, but the musician interrupted her, slinging his arm across her shoulder and placing a gentle kiss on her temple. "Hey, Will. So how did I sound? Was it okay?"
Now she nodded. "You were great, Oz." She turned back to Xander. "Could we get a couple of Cokes?" Xander nodded and slowly moved away from the table, straining to hear her next words. "Oz, what's wrong? You've been acting weird ever since you started working at the espresso bar."
Oz shrugged and shifted nervously in his seat. Then he grinned. "Must be all that caffeine. Making me edgy."
Xander turned his attention to the soda tap. Gee, someone acting weird after they got a new job -- around new people? Sounded like *someone* had found a new object for his affections. He decided that he had better check out this coffee bar and see what was happening. Just to help out.
The pair had left the bar before Xander figured out a way to find out where the young man -- Oz -- worked. The next afternoon, Xander sighed and trudged up the stairs to his psychiatrist's office. Dr. Cordelia Chase had taken a great professional risk when she had volunteered to take him under her wing, freeing him from the mental institution in which he had been placed when he was found wandering the streets some months previously, but he didn't see what the big deal was. He was a Roman god. He had a mission: Match one hundred couples on earth. As his reward, he would be returned to god status. It was very simple. So far, by his calculations, he had sixty-four to go. He just couldn't figure out why Cordelia had a problem accepting his role in the cosmos.
He breezed through the doors, made witty smalltalk with her receptionist Amy, tromped into Cordelia's office, annoyed the hell out of the woman responsible for keeping him out of an asylum, and swept back downstairs. His afternoon was complete.
As he was meandering down the street, he noticed a small cafe. Taking a chance, he entered -- and found that the barista on duty was indeed the redheaded musician from the Bronze. "Hey, I remember you!"
Oz looked up from the milk steamer. "Oh, hey. How's it going?"
"Oz, when you have a moment, could you call the restaurant supply place and get more cappuccino mugs?" An older British man stepped out of the back room, scribbling something down on a pad of paper. "And these items as well."
To Xander's amazement, Oz's entire being changed when the newcomer entered the room. He stood up straighter, and his face shifted into a broad smile. Xander could swear the guy actually *glowed*. "Hey, Giles. No problem." Oz reached out for the paper, jerking his hand back quickly when his fingers brushed Giles'. Interesting. Xander filed away that information for future reference.
That night, the musician and his girlfriend were back at the Bronze. With the older British gentleman from the espresso bar. Xander made sure they received the best service possible from him -- because he wanted to hear as much of their conversation as possible.
"...So Buffy told him to go away, and he didn't, so she decked him." Willow finished her story with a grin, but the grin faded as she realized Oz wasn't paying attention to her. He was watching Giles. The older man was focused on the action around them, not on either of the two young people with him. "Um, Oz?"
"Huh?" Oz's focus snapped back to his girlfriend. She nodded at Giles. "Sorry." He leaned closer to her, lowering his voice so Giles couldn't hear. But Xander did. "I think I made him mad today. I'm just trying to figure out how to make it up to him. You know I can't afford to lose this job." Oz wrapped his arm around her and hugged her. "Okay?"
Nodding, she relaxed into the hug. "Okay." She leaned forward, raising her voice. "So, Giles, has he conned you into letting him play at the shop?"
To Xander's surprise, Giles' eyes snapped to Oz's, but Oz was gazing at the table. If Xander had to name the emotion on the older man's face, he would have said it was guilt. And then he looked at Oz. Guilt again. Oh, my.
"So let's say you knew a secret about someone. About two someones. A secret that they themselves didn't realize. Would you say something?"
Angel groaned. Xander was at it again. Despite the fact that his plan was doomed to end in failure, Xander was clearly determined to fix up people that, in all likelihood, didn't need to be fixed up. Or *shouldn't* be fixed up. "No, I think I would keep my opinion to myself."
"Right." Xander wandered into his bedroom, but not before Angel heard him say, "Gotta interfere."
Every day for the next few weeks, Xander found a reason to visit Cordelia -- and the coffee shop. The first day, he and Oz came to an agreement: Oz would give Xander free tea at the shop, and Xander would give Oz free soda at the bar. And then after a couple of days, Xander reached a similar agreement with Giles involving scones and beer.
And as he began to get to know that pair, he realized that the two men had feelings for each other -- but refused to admit this to anyone. Even themselves. Or maybe *especially* to themselves. The reason became clear one afternoon when he was settled in his favorite spot. The armchair by the fire. Xander was engrossed in a Stephen King paperback someone had left behind, tea and scone on the table beside him. Since he was the only customer at the moment, Oz was perched on a table, swinging his feet as he chatted amiably with Giles.
Then Willow came sweeping through the door.
Giles froze in mid-sentence, and Oz slid off the table. "Hey, Will." It was clear to Xander that the other two men were not happy that their time alone together -- and he realized that, although he was a third person, the pair felt so comfortable around him that they considered him part of the coffee shop along with the coat rack and each other, but in a good way -- had been interrupted. And when Giles turned abruptly away and went in the back room, Xander realized that this woman -- not just the interruption -- was the issue. Even if none of them acknowledged that fact.
Oblivious to the tension around her, she smiled at her boyfriend. "So, are you ready to go?"
"Go?" Oz stared at her blankly for a moment. Then he remembered. "The museum. I was supposed to go to that exhibit with you. Sorry. I forgot. I have to work tonight. Devon's sick, so I'm covering for him."
Her face fell. "Can't Giles --"
"Can't Giles what?" The man in question returned to the counter, opening a bag of whole coffee beans and dumping them into the grinder.
Oz shifted uncomfortably, gazing at his feet. "I was supposed to go to this museum thing tonight with Will, but then Dev called in sick --"
Giles waved his hand. "Go. I didn't know you had made another commitment before I asked you to fill in tonight." He smiled at Oz. "What kind of evil boss would I be if I made you cancel plans because of something I could easily work around?"
"Thanks, Giles. We really appreciate this." She stepped to the counter, examining the jars of biscotti.
Oz was facing away from Willow, so she missed his face falling when Giles granted him the evening off to spend time with his girlfriend -- the evening that he was supposed to have off anyway. But Xander didn't.
Once more, Oz played the Bronze. But this time, Willow was not in attendance. Giles was.
"What happened? Where is she? A lovers' spat?" Xander grinned in what he hoped was an I'm-really-joking manner. He wasn't, but Giles didn't need to know about that.
Giles accepted the pint glass of stout. "Willow is sick. Since she can't be here, I'm here for moral support."
"'Moral support.' Yeah, right."
Now Giles turned warily to Xander. "What do you mean by that?"
Sighing, Xander pulled up a chair. "Look. I spend a lot of time in that shop. I see the two of you there all the time. Together. Even if you don't want to believe it, there's something going on between you two."
"Willow and I --"
"Are competing for the same guy."
"Look, you know it's true."
Giles carefully lifted his glass, drained half of it, and set it back down on the table before he spoke in a voice that was nearly inaudible. "And so what if this is true? At least for me? He doesn't realize --"
"Did you notice how disappointed he was when you told him to go out with his girlfriend last night?"
"Has he ever talked to you about her?" It was a long shot, but it seemed likely.
Giles shook his head. "Just about what they did."
"Examples." An order, not a request.
Before continuing, Giles finished his drink. "Their dates. Going to concerts and movies. New restaurants." And he stopped there.
"Is that it?"
Now Giles frowned. "Yes, it is."
"Not about how he feels about her." Giles shook his head. Xander turned his attention to the young man on stage. "Don't you find it odd that he'll discuss things like where they went but not what he thinks about when it comes to her?" Giles frowned at Xander, and suddenly things made a little more sense. Willow wasn't sick. She may have *said* she was sick, but Xander was willing to bet money that the two redheads had a 'discussion' -- read: 'fight' -- the previous evening. About Giles.
Time to get Oz alone.
And he found Oz alone in the so-called dressing room. Really just a walk-in storage closet with a couch stuffed inside. "Great set, man."
Oz glanced up at Xander. "Thanks." He latched his guitar case. "So. See you tomorrow."
"Could we talk for a minute?" When Oz didn't respond, Xander tried to remember how concerned people acted. "I'm worried about you. You've been acting kind of weird the past couple of days."
Sighing, Oz nodded. "Okay." And he sat down on the couch.
Xander followed suit. "So. Willow. What's going on there?"
As if he had expected this question, Oz didn't even blink. "We had a fight."
Bingo. "About what?"
Oz sighed again and slouched down into the corner of the couch. "She thinks I like someone else."
"She broke up with me."
"Once again. And?"
"I don't know." He picked at the frayed threads on the arm of the couch. "Things are messed up. I don't know what's going on."
Xander waited for Oz to continue, but when the silence showed no signs of stopping, the brunette spoke up. "It's Giles, isn't it?"
Now Oz's head snapped up, his eyes wide. "How did you know? Did she --"
"No. She hasn't spoken to me other than to order drinks from me."
Oz relaxed against the sofa. "So how did you know?"
"It just..." Xander frowned. He really didn't know how he knew. He just *knew*.
"Is it because of you and Angel?"
Now Xander's head snapped towards Oz. "What are you talking about?"
Oz shrugged. "You two are always bickering. Sniping at each other. Just like an old married couple. And he watches you when you're with other people like he's jealous. I thought you *were* a couple."
Sighing, Xander sank back against the couch. "Let's say you're right. So what am I supposed to do about it?"
"Good question." Oz stood and picked up his guitar. "I don't know about you, but I have to go have a deep, meaningful conversation with a certain Englishman out there."
Angel had reached the end of his rope. Every night, Xander was *there*. In the apartment. At the bar. No matter what Angel did to get away from him, Xander managed to find a way to gravitate to the vampire's side. It was driving him crazy. "Why don't you go out? Find a nice girl and give me one night of peace here?"
"You know the rules. If I have sex with a mortal, I die." Xander sighed, apparently trying to decide whether to continue. He spoke again, his voice lowered to a murmur. "Besides, females aren't the issue at the moment."
Angel gazed at the back of the head turned away from him. For several long moments, he considered his words and what it would mean to say them to this person. Then he decided that he didn't have much of a choice. Either Xander would take the words as an invitation and run screaming away, or else he would take them as an invitation and accept. Angel wasn't sure which option he hoped for, but he knew he couldn't go on living with this man in this manner any longer. "I'm not a mortal."
Now Xander turned to face him warily. "Yeah. Sure. You're just saying that because..." He trailed off as Angel's words hit him, the wary expression changing to one of bewilderment. No way. There was no way Oz could right about this. "Um... Sex? With *you*?" Angel nodded. Xander panicked. "Uh... I don't think so."
Xander shrugged, desperately trying to find a way out of the situation. "How am I supposed to know you're not a mortal?"
Angel sighed. This old issue. Well, if the guy wanted proof, he was going to get proof. After all, even if Xander wasn't really a Roman god, sleeping with Angel wasn't going to cause any harm. "Watch." And with that single word, Angel carefully and slowly allowed his face to shift into the twisted shape of a vampire. Then he pointed to the window behind him -- where they could see Xander's form reflected and Xander's form only even though Angel was now standing in front of the smaller man, blocking Xander's body in such a manner that they should have been able to see only Angel. "No reflection." Xander lifted one hand to Angel's cheek, rubbing his finger over the ridges. "Not a mortal."
Suddenly, Xander pulled away, his eyes wide. "So that's why we don't have any mirrors in here." He began pacing, gnawing on his thumb as he thought.
"Look, I'm sorry. I lied to you. But I definitely didn't want to hurt you."
But Xander wasn't listening. And then he stopped in front of Angel. "So why are you telling me this?"
"If you want to move out --"
"No." But Xander's voice was soft. "That's not it. I... You... We..." Finally, he turned away from Angel, collapsing on the couch. "Oz was right."
"Oz?" Angel frowned and took a seat on the other end of the couch. "That guitarist at the bar?" Xander nodded. "What did he say?"
"Three words. Old. Married. Couple."
They both sat there for a long moment, considering those three words. Then Angel spoke. "So. If we're so married, shouldn't we be doing something that married people traditionally do?" When Xander didn't respond, Angel slid over. Next to Xander. And placed his hands behind Xander's head, pulling the smaller man's mouth to his.
When they finally parted, Xander frowned -- but he had to struggle to force his smile down. "That's not what married people do. That's what horny teenagers do."
Angel shrugged. "Well, okay, then. What do married people do?"
Xander shrugged. And unzipped Angel's pants.
The next evening, when Cordelia stopped by the Bronze to check up on Xander, Angel was ready for her. "I think he's cured."
"What do you mean? Is he over that whole if-I-have-sex-with-a-mortal- I'll-die thing?"
"Uh, I think so." Actually, no, he didn't think that, but Angel had come to the conclusion that it was an issue that was no longer important. Xander had spent nearly an hour 'testing' Angel to confirm that the vampire was indeed, well, a vampire. And then the rest of the intervening hours had involved 'testing' Angel's sheets, the couch, the shower, the fire escape, the kitchen counters...
Cordelia frowned. "'Uh, I think so?' Could you be a little less convincing?"
And that's when Xander strolled in, grinning from ear to ear, and singing. *Singing*. Cordelia and Angel both grimaced and covered their ears. "Xander? Do you think you could tone it down a bit?"
Xander stopped singing -- in the silence that followed, Angel and Cordelia realized he was attempting to croon the Elvis classic "It's Now or Never" -- but continued to grin. And then he batted his eyelashes at Angel. Cordelia stared. And then spoke. "Xander? Angel? You two?" She managed to pull herself out of shock. "Well, that explains why he kept resisting my attempts at fixing him up with a nice young woman."
Finally, she left, mumbling something to herself about missing the signs. Xander wrapped his arms around Angel's waist and rested his head on the larger man's chest. "Angel?"
"Do you think she'll leave me alone now?"
Angel shrugged. "If not, we could always just start kissing in the middle of one of her events. Imagine the scandal at singles' group nights."
At first, Angel's words didn't register. Then his hands moved to Xander's head, and Xander found himself grinning in enthusiastic agreement as his own hands wove through Angel's hair. "Sounds like a plan."
At that moment, the bar owner strolled through the doors. "Oh, stop that, you two. That's disgusting." Mortified at Spike's discovery, the pair separated. Then they actually looked at Spike. The bleached blond was beaming at them. "Hands in his hair? It's about damned time, but wash your hands before handling the glassware." He jerked a thumb at Angel. "All that crap he puts in his hair makes the glasses filthy."
~~~ the end ~~~
And in case anyone was wondering...
Taggerty's (I think that was the name of the bar)= the Bronze
Cupid/Trevor = Xander
Champ = Angel
Claire = Cordelia
Everyone else? Guest stars. There were only three permanent cast members in _Cupid_, and I had to find *some* way of getting Oz in there.