Hot-headed: Jesse snapped at Anne and confronted Xander about his choice of a date...
The ringing phone woke Jesse up at 8 am in the morning. Since he hadn't gotten home until 2 am, he was pissed.
“What?” he snapped as he flipped the phone open.
“Whoa, bro,” Xander said. “You don't have to bite my head off! I heard you botched things good with Red last night.”
“Yeah, she was pissed at me. Hopefully she's calmed down today,” Jesse said, burying head head in his hand. “Do you think she'll still come to Ace's birthday party?”
“Who knows? It's Red!” Xander said cheerfully, then hesitated a moment. “So... look... I was wanting to ask you. Is it okay if I bring a date to the shin-dig?
“Sure. It's about time your love life turned around!” Jesse teased. Even if mine's in the toilet, he silently added.
“Great. See you there, bro,” Xander promised.
When Jesse heard the knock on the door, he didn't even glance up. "It's open," he called out, trying to set up all the birthday crap. When he looked up, he felt as though he'd been hit with a sledge hammer.
It was Anne!
“What are you doing here? I thought we were over?” he said gruffly. He couldn't believe she'd shown up!
Anne glanced down, looking embarrassed. “I didn't want to miss Ace's birthday party," she said softly. "I didn't realize I'd been uninvited."
Jesse laughed bitterly. “Yeah, well, you should've thought about that before you dumped me. But feel free to stay, have some cake, find a way to break my heart again!” he snapped.
“Nevermind.” Anne snapped back, heading for the front door. "This was a bad idea!"
"You're damn right it was!" Jesse shouted at her as he followed her to the door.
Just then, something caught Jesse's eye.
Xander and... ZELDA?!
Holly Alto noticed where Jesse's gaze had landed and hurried over to intercept. "Not at Ace's birthday party," she said quietly, placing her hand on his arm. "This is his day."
Jesse took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Holly was right. This was Ace's big day. He didn't want to ruin his kid's birthday party!
Glancing down at her hand still on his arm, Jesse cocked an eyebrow. Holly hurriedly removed her hand and Jesse stalked past her to get Ace. “Come on everyone, time to blow out the candles!” he called out, avoiding eye contract with Xander and Zelda.
Ace leaned forward and blew the candles out with minimal spitting.
"Cake! Cake! Cake!" Ace said excitedly, rubbing his hands together with glee.
“Calm down there, bud,” Jesse said with a laugh. “You'll get some cake in a sec. But, first, I wanted to give you this! A present from me... to you!”
“A football! AWESOME, Dad! We can go play all the time, right?”
Jesse chuckled. It seemed his boy was easily impressed. “Yeah, bud. We'll toss the ball a few times.”
Jesse noticed Xander and Zelda slip out the door together. “Hey. Why don't you go get some cake? I need to go talk to Xander real quick before work. Bedtime by 10 pm, right?” Jesse said.
“Got it!” Ace said cheerfully as he grabbed a piece of cake.
Xander sighed heavily as he opened the door. “Are we going to do this now?” he asked.
“You're with Zelda?” he said incredulously. “You know how she is!”
Xander shrugged. “It's not like I'm going to marry her... or have kids with her!” Xander said pointedly.
That only stoked Jesse's temper. “You know she's using you to get back at me, right?” Jesse snapped. "I told her I was dating Anne and now she's just trying to make me jealous!"
Xander colored. “Shut the hell up!” he yelled. “Why the hell would you say something like that to me?”
Jesse buried his face in his hands. “God, I don't know. She's just so... so... self-absorbed and childish!" Jesse reached up and tugged on his hair. He felt like pulling his hair out! "Man, she just drives me so crazy!”
Xander narrowed his eyes. “I thought you were over her, bro.”
“I am over her!” Jesse said.
“Then act like it,” Xander snapped."You don't own her. I can date her if I want. Get over it."
Jesse stormed out before he said anything else he might regret.
When he got to work, his stomach was twisted up in knots. He thought about his fight with Xander. It's not that he cared who Zelda dated... She was free to live her own life. But, man.. What else could go wrong this week? Red was pissed at him, Anne dumped him, his best friend and his ex were dating each other...
Things had pretty much gotten as low as they could get...
On the way home, he stopped off and got some ink to remind him how much trouble relationships were.
At least at the end of the day he still had Ace...