Blinded with Love
Cordelia ends up in Angel’s care after she is blinded by a spell.
- CONTENTS: C/A in BtVS
- RATING: R
- LENGTH: Short Story / 13,000 words
- STATUS: Completed
- FICPIC CREDIT: Lysa
- WARNINGS: None
“Are you in the Crime Club, too?”
—Cordelia to Angel / Blinded with Love
Blinded with Love
“I’m blind!” Cordelia felt a pair of small hands helping her to her feet. “Oh, God! I can’t see a thing.”
Buffy wasn’t sure what was happening, except that Cordelia had driven through the school fence in the Driver’s Ed car taking Mr. Poole and her fellow students with her. She darted out of the car arms flailing helplessly in front of her directly into the path of a Mack truck. Only Buffy’s enhanced Slayer speed and a quick acrobatic move saved the brunette.
At the nurse’s office, the school RN was frankly puzzled by the white haze that appeared over the teenager’s eyes. It seemed to be fading leaving Cordelia with normally looking eyes, but she remained unable to see. Buffy had her own suspicions. This seemed magical rather than natural. Something weird was going on and Cordelia was obviously the target of someone’s scheme.
Figuring Cordelia Chase probably had a lot of enemies, Buffy had to narrow down the list to the ones that might have something recent to complain about. Amy Madison was the most likely candidate since she was vying for one of the cheerleader positions and bitchy Cordelia was a probable shoo-in. Considering the spontaneous combustion of one of the girls at the cheerleader tryouts, it was possible that these two events were related.
The school nurse explained that they would have to notify Cordelia’s parents and that she needed to see her physician today.
“My parents are in Europe,” Cordelia told her. “They might be in Paris or London right now. Is it Thursday? Maybe it was Lisbon.”
“Oh,” the nurse seemed put out. “Who else do we have listed for an emergency contact?”
Cordelia shrugged. She couldn’t think of anybody except maybe Harmony’s parents and that would not be a good thing. Whatever this was, she did not want the whole school talking about it. Cordy figured she could handle the driving through the fence situation with a story or two.
Sitting next to Cordelia, Buffy let out a long sigh. “Cordelia can stay at my house until my mom can talk to her parents.”
“Good! That’s good. Shall I contact your mother now?”
“No,” Buffy hastened to say. “I’ll deal.”
Leading Cordelia out of the nurse’s office, Buffy kept a hand on her elbow. “Take it slow so you don’t trip over anything. It’s the end of the day, so we can head straight to Giles.”
“To the library?” That made no sense. “I thought you were going to take me to my doctor.”
The school librarian, Rupert Giles, was rather curious about Cordelia’s condition. Buffy seemed to believe that he would be able to find a cure. Cordy knew that Buffy Summers was way strange. Just look at the weirdness at the Bronze the other night where those ugly guys from those rival gangs were fighting for turf. Buffy knew them.
Now she was talking to the librarian about her sudden blindness. Cordelia figured he was the faculty for Buffy’s little Crime Club or whatever after-school activity kept Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg and Buffy closeted up in the library for hours at a time. They were into such gross things. Buffy was all into looking at the extreme dead guy found in Aura’s locker.
“Mr. Giles, are you sure you shouldn’t take me to the Emergency Room?” Cordelia called out in the direction she last heard his voice.
From another side of the room the Englishman spoke, “They can’t help you. I believe that your affliction is mystical. Likely a result of magick very akin to voodoo.”
“Huh?” Cordelia could not see his face to tell whether he was joking or not, but the man certainly sounded serious. “Did you say voodoo?”
“My research has thus far proved fruitless,” Giles revealed. “I can find no specific spell that brings on such sudden blindness. Considering the information Buffy provided about Amy Madison, I think we should look to her.”
“Klutzy Amy? The one who nearly blew my cheerleader tryout?” Cordelia was suddenly believing the girl was responsible. “She is *so* jealous of me. Are you saying she’s— a witch?”
“Quite possibly.” Giles insisted upon looking through a few more books, but found nothing helpful. “If it is what I think, the only way to end the spell is to destroy the source.”
“No. There would be a doll representing Cordelia.”
Finally, Giles offered to drive them to Cordelia’s house. “I can only drop you off. I— have something I need to do tonight.”
“That’s great,” Buffy thanked him. “Saves us walking. I don’t have my license yet or a car and the buses don’t run that frequently at this time of day. It was already past six o’clock and sunset would soon be upon them.
Giles let them off at the gate to the Chase estate. Cordelia held onto Buffy’s elbow and instructed her on the correct code to enter. Once inside, they headed up to Cordelia’s side of the mansion to collect some things for her to stay overnight at the Summer’s house.
“Nice house, Cordelia,” admitted Buffy gazing around at the rich furnishings. Still, it seemed awfully big and empty. Shouldn’t a house this size have lots of servants. “Where is everybody?”
“There is only Rosaria and me,” Cordy told her. “My parents don’t keep a lot of servants around when they’re out of town.”
“Rosaria?” Buffy pressed for more information.
“The housekeeper. She comes in and keeps things going.”
“Does she live here?” Buffy wondered if this Rosaria could keep an eye on Cordelia instead of having to drag her home to her house. It was going to be time to patrol soon and Buffy needed to get rid of— uh, get Cordelia settled before then.
“No. She goes home at six,” Cordelia explained. “We probably just missed her.”
Buffy drooled a bit as she walked into Cordelia’s bedroom closet. It was almost the size of a small room and filled with designer clothes. Trying not to sound jealous, she talked to Cordelia about shopping. It seemed a safe subject for the two of them. Soon, Buffy had gathered the clothes and personal items that Cordy needed to bring with her placing them all into a gym bag.
“This should be good for a night or two.”
“I hope this doesn’t last longer than that,” Cordelia looked horrified at the thought. “Are you sure I don’t need to go to the ER?”
“That is *so* not reassuring!”
They called a cab to take them back to Buffy’s house. They waited and waited until finally, Buffy suggested that they walk. She needed to patrol. Not that she was trying to give herself extra time to run into the mysterious guy who gave her jewelry and cryptic warnings, but if she accidentally found him following her— that wouldn’t be so bad.
“We’ll take the shortcut.”
Cordelia was agog. “You plan to drag a blind girl through Sunnydale Park after dark?”
“No,” Buffy answered. “I was gonna take you through Restfield Cemetery. If we cut down the middle it will take almost fifteen minutes off. We’ll be closer to main street then and can grab a cab or hoof it over to my house.”
“Yeah. No big.” Buffy shrugged then realized the brunette couldn’t see it. “I’ll keep you safe.”
“Why do I get the feeling this is not a good idea?” Cordelia grew up here in Sunnydale. It was common knowledge that ruffians hung out in the cemeteries after dark. “Two hotties strolling through gang-infested territory. We should just post the ‘victim here’ signs right now.”
With a sigh of frustration, Buffy tried to convince her, “Nothing will happen that I can’t handle.”
“You may have a black-belt, Miss Karate Girl, but I can’t even see much less defend myself. Unless— you’re planning to meet one of the gang that terrorized the Bronze.”
“What? Is that what everyone is saying?” Buffy still couldn’t believe that nobody realized the attackers were vampires. “Sunnydale is full of blind idiots— no offense.”
“I didn’t realize the spell affected your hearing, too,” Buffy’s mouth twisted into a wry smile realizing that she had walked right into that one.
Cordelia caved into Buffy’s ranting since there was still no sign of the cab arriving. They headed off in the direction of Restfield Cemetery with Buffy carrying Cordy’s gym bag and leading her along the sidewalk. About ten minutes into their journey, Buffy’s Slayer senses quirked at the sensation that there was potential danger nearby.
“Shh!” Buffy hushed Cordelia who had been talking her ear off ever since they left the mansion. Picking up the pace, they were walking faster. “I think we’re being followed.”
Whispering furiously, Cordelia ranted, “I told you this was stupid.”
Buffy stopped suddenly, pulling the brunette to a halt next to her. Glancing around, she saw no sight of trouble. She just felt that someone was watching. “I know you’re out there.”
Letting out a hiss, Cordelia demanded she be quiet. “What are you doing?”
Ignoring the cheerleader, Buffy continued to scan the perimeter. Then a familiar form stepped from the shadows. “It’s Angel.”
“An angel?” Responding in confusion, she could only wonder if that was the nickname of Buffy’s scummy gang-member boyfriend or something as otherworldly as the spell she was under. “Of the heavenly variety?”
“Not quite,” an amused male voice sounded in front of them.
Despite the fact that she could not see him, Cordelia experienced a strange shiver along her spine at the sound of his voice. He didn’t sound like a scummy gang-member, but then again he had only said two words— and he was hanging out near the cemetery. That could not be good. If he was one of those guys from the Bronze, Cordelia wasn’t about to let him intimidate the blind girl.
“Too bad. I was hoping you were a Guardian Angel. We could use one about now,” she quipped while tagging on a mega-watt smile.
Entranced by that smile, Angel found himself staring. A stunning beauty, the brunette’s fit frame had curves that wouldn’t quit and legs that went on forever. The long waves of her chestnut hair fell loosely beyond her shoulders looking so soft and touchable that he got the urge to bury his hands in it. At least until he moved on to cup those luscious breasts. He imagined burying his face in the cleavage her top just hinted at. Not like he needed to come up for air.
Raising his gaze back to her face, Angel finally realized that while she was turned in his direction her gaze wasn’t really focused on him. It seemed to shift around as if trying to pinpoint his location. Slowly, it came to him that the girl was blind and he felt a burst of feeling in his chest at the realization. To be so beautiful and not be able to see it— that was a tragedy.
“If you need a Guardian Angel, I’ll volunteer for the position for tonight. Where are you ladies headed?”
“My house,” Buffy answered still frowning. Catching herself pouting at the attention he had garnished upon Cordelia, she made an effort to pull her lower lip back into place. “We don’t need help, but feel free to tag along.”
She started moving only to realize that she left Cordelia behind when the other girl called out her name. “Buffy? Hello— blind person here.”
A hand was instantly at her elbow to lead her safely forward, but it did not belong to the petite blonde. The hand was large, strong and decidedly male. Cordelia felt his arm brush against hers and got the impression that he was tall.
“Thanks,” she gazed into the darkness wishing she could tell if this tall guy was as scary ugly as the other gang-members Buffy seemed to know. “Your name is— Angel?”
He nodded, and then realized that she couldn’t see it. “Yes.”
“I’m Cordelia.” Best not to mention she was a Chase. That might flash a few dollar signs around this potentially dangerous man, even if he did go around volunteering as Guardian Angel to blind girls and blonde weirdoes.
Within a couple of minutes after that Angel knew that she was a cheerleader at Sunnydale High School, loved dancing at the Bronze and was recently blind due to a spell cast by a jealous witch.
“But it’s only temporary,” Cordelia assured him. “That’s what Mr. Giles says.”
“The Watcher,” Angel connected the name.
“The what? He’s a librarian.”
Angel glanced over at Buffy who gave him a silent warning. Cordelia did not know anything about her status as a Slayer, but Buffy found it interesting that Angel obviously knew about Watchers and Slayers. He knew the drill. He’d been trailing after her during the past week or so keeping an eye on her Slaying duties, hinting at upcoming trouble as if he had an inside scoop.
“Uh— librarians watch their books,” Angel rushed to fill the void.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Don’t be a dumbass! Is ‘Watcher’ the title you’ve given Mr. Giles as the head of the Crime Club? I know Buffy and her little cronies have something going on with him in the library. They try to keep it secret, but I am just too observant for that.”
Buffy and Angel exchanged another look. The blonde cupped her hand over her mouth trying not to laugh at Cordelia’s conclusions. Changing the subject, Angel offered to carry the gym bag that Buffy had over her shoulder.
“Let me carry that.”
A guardian angel *and* a gentleman? Impressed, Cordelia figured that he was no ordinary scummy gang-member. Had to be the leader of the gang. Unless, “Are you in the Crime Club, too?”
Cryptic much? Cordy never realized how much a person’s face gave until she could no longer see their expressions. “Hmm.”
They were halfway through the cemetery when Buffy sensed danger. Before she could say anything, Angel’s head turned to look to their right catching movement amongst the gravestones.
“Buffy—,” he started to issue a warning, but the Slayer was aware of the problem.
“Stay back, Angel,” Buffy gave him a nod toward Cordelia. “I need to take care of this. If I’m not back in five minutes, would you make sure Cordelia stays safe?”
Cordelia had no clue what was going on except that she seemed to be leaving her with this Angel guy. Calling out to the other teenager, “Where are you going?”
“Uh— she’s already gone.”
“That girl has a lot of nerve dragging me into a cemetery and just leaving me with you— some stranger.”
“You can trust me,” Angel promised and the truth of his words carried to her ears. “I’d never let anything harm you.”
“So what now?”
“We wait five minutes.”
About three minutes later, the Slayer reappeared outside the crypt she had entered. Its steel door had been broken off the hinges. Immediately following her into the open was a large red and black demon with a horned browline and spiky fur lining its back and haunches. Even from this distance Angel knew that Buffy needed help.
“What’s that growling sound?” Cordelia asked. “Did Buffy find a big dog? Is that why she ran off— to catch it?”
“Cordelia, I need you to sit here,” Angel gently pushed her down onto a tombstone. “Don’t move. I have to help Buffy with that de— dog.”
Sitting blindly, Cordelia could do nothing except await their return. Off in the distance, she heard the occasional growl and what sounded like the serious mistreatment of animals. Then, much closer, the sound of shifting earth caught her ear. Was there another dog? Scratching at the dirt? Burying a bone?
“Puppy? Nice puppy,” she hoped the creature would respond to her positive tone and be a good dog. “There’s no need to bite me. No need to bite Cordy.”
“Bite you? I’d say its going to happen,” a stranger’s voice sounded in front of her.
Instinctively, Cordelia let out a blood-curdling scream that pierced the night. Buffy and Angel saw what was happening even as they dodged the demon they were fighting. “I have to finish this,” Buffy told him. “Just get Cordelia out of here.”
Angel was already running at breakneck speed across the distance separating him from Cordelia. The vampire in front of her was a fledgling, newly risen and hungry. No match for Angel who shifted into game face and attacked. “Get away from her.”
“Saw her first,” the fledgling complained as he hit the ground.
“Like hell,” Angel grabbed onto his head and twisted it sharply until a snapping sound immediately preceded a cloud of dust. He stood over the small pile on the ground and glared at it triumphantly.
*Cough! Cough!* Cordelia waved her hands in front of her face trying to get the flying dust out the way. “Gross! What happened? Is that you, Angel?”
“It’s me,” he confirmed just before snatching her from the tombstone into his arms. “Are you okay? Did he bite you?”
Before Cordelia could answer, Angel’s hands were moving over her body checking for injuries. At least, she assumed that was what he was doing. Although it seemed that he spent a lot of time at her throat.
“Was that the dog catcher?” Cordy asked. “Did he take the dog to the pound?”
“Uh, he’s gone.”
Angel looked over toward the crypt, but there was no sign of the Slayer or the demon. “I think she ran after the other one.”
Still holding her within the circle of his arms, Angel pulled back to run his hands down from her shoulders to take her hands in his. “Cordelia, I know that you don’t really know me, but I need you to trust me. I have to get you out of this place.”
“Take me to Buffy’s. The address is in the phone book— unless you already know it.”
“Revello Drive,” he indicated that he did know. “It’s too far. There is no time for that. I need to get you to safety quickly because I need to get back to Buffy.”
“So where are we going?”
“My apartment. It’s just on the other side of the cemetery,” Angel explained.
Realizing that she really had no choice in the matter, Cordelia agreed to go. Besides, there was just something about Angel that made her feel safe when he was at her side. “So— is this what Buffy does in the Crime Club? Chase stray dogs in the cemetery?”
Angel gave a moment’s pause before answering, “Something like that.”
“I knew she was weird.”
A sort time later, Angel led her into his apartment building in such a way that she would have no clue that it was otherwise abandoned. “Just plunk me down on the couch in front of the television and I’ll be fine,” Cordy told him. “Oh— and show me the bathroom.”
“Uh— I don’t have a television,” Angel admitted.
“What? Are you a space alien? Everybody has a t.v. these days.”
“Except me, apparently. I prefer to read the newspaper.”
With a grin, Cordelia pointed out, “There are other things on television besides the news.”
He was giving her such a different picture than the one she first conjured about being Buffy’s scummy gang-member boyfriend. That had another question popping into her head which she immediately asked, “Are you dating Buffy?”
The query caught him off-guard. “N-No.”
Geez! The guy stammered like he wasn’t sure about the answer. “Just asking.”
“Look, I need to get back out there. Let me show you where the bedroom is located. You should be comfortable enough and I have less stuff in there to trip over. The bathroom is connected.”
Angel guided her around orienting Cordelia to the room. “I’m putting your gym bag here on the edge of the bed.”
“Okay. I’ll be fine,” she assured him. Touching his forearm, Cordy fought off the insane urge to wrap her arms around him and kiss his worries away. It seemed obvious even to her sightless self that Angel was concerned about Buffy’s wellbeing and her own safety. “Go my Guardian Angel.”
His mouth quirked into a smile at the playful expression on her beautiful face. Palming her cheek, Angel leaned forward and pressed his lips against her forehead. Cordelia let out a little gasp of surprise immediately followed by a soft moan from her throat. Angel tilted his head noting that hers instinctively raised to give him access to her lips.
Angel’s mouth hovered in the space above Cordelia’s slightly parted lips for moments that seemed like forever. Gaining control over his urge to kiss her, he pulled away not wanting to take advantage of her situation or scare her. “I better go.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Cordelia heard the front door open and close realizing that she was now alone in Angel’s apartment. She found her way back to the bathroom to wash off any traces of remaining dust from the cemetery. That activity took some time as she had to feel around the walls to find the towels. Afterward, Cordy wandered back into the bedroom and crawled into the middle of the bed flopping over onto her back.
Now that she was alone in this ultra-quiet apartment and staring into the blackness before her eyes, Cordelia felt the impact of the day finally hit her. Fear crept up from the place she had pushed it to encompass her. She started to cry and then couldn’t seem to stop as her sniffles became sobs.
“So— nobody else lives here?” Buffy was asking as she looked around the building halls.
“Just me,” Angel confirmed.
Angel opened the door to admit Buffy into his apartment. He had found Buffy at the far end of the cemetery in the process of finishing off the demon. Afterward, they talked about what happened with Cordelia in more detail.
“I’ll just get her bag and we’ll be out of your hair,” Buffy told him glancing around the empty living room. “Where is Cordelia?”
“I put her in my bed— room. Less cluttered in there.”
Buffy found that Cordelia really was in Angel’s bed. On top of it, anyway. She was fast asleep and it looked like she had been crying. A twinge of pity surfaced as Buffy looked at the sleeping teenager. Then Angel swept around the side of the bed with such a quiet move that Buffy jumped at the sight of him bending over Cordelia. Using a hand to gently brush away long strands of chestnut hair, Angel softly called out her name to awaken her.
“Cordelia,” he repeated a little louder finally eliciting a response. “We’re back.”
She reached out to confirm his presence with the touch of her hand over his. A contented sigh sounded at the contact as Cordelia realized how relieved she was to be within reach of him. “You’re here.”
“I’m here,” Angel confirmed as his eyes swept over her tear-stained cheeks. The thumb of his other hand brushed along one striped trail to the point where it dropped off her jaw to the still damp spot where her shirt met her collarbone. He wanted to follow that same trail with his mouth, but stopped himself with more reminders that this girl barely knew him.
“We’re here,” Buffy corrected reminding him that she was also in the room.
Cordelia flinched almost imperceptibly at the sound of irritation in the blonde’s voice. “Hi, Buffy. You’re okay?”
Pulling the hand cupping her face into her lap, Cordelia gave it a soft squeeze. “And you, Angel? You’re okay, too?”
“Not a scratch.”
“Good,” she smiled. “I guess I fell asleep in your bed.”
Angel curbed his tongue at the sudden urge to respond that she could sleep there anytime. “You should stay here tonight, Cordelia. This has been a stressful day, it’s late and there is still a long walk ahead of you.”
“Okay,” Cordelia was quick to reply.
Buffy was not so happy with the idea. Asking Angel, “Where will *you* sleep?”
“On the sofa.”
The Slayer could not deny that normally she wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to be in Cordelia’s place— minus the not being able to see—, but the truth was, “I don’t really know you that well, Angel. I’m supposed to leave Cordelia here? Giles would say that was highly inappropriate.”
Grmph! Cordelia didn’t really care what the old fuddy-duddy librarian would say about this. She wanted an opportunity to get to know Angel better and if Buffy dragged her away, that was unlikely to happen.
Buffy let out a big sigh. “I forget that other people get tired faster than I do.”
“Hey!” Cordelia sat up a little straighter. “This body is in top shape, detecto-girl.”
“I’m just saying that I agree with Angel,” Buffy put her hands on her slim hips. “Not that I wanna challenge you to a mud-wrestling contest.”
Angel suddenly found himself smiling at the image that popped into his head— until he felt a hand slap at his chest. Cordelia turned her head toward him, “Stop grinning like an idiot.”
“Can you see?”
“No. You’re a guy. I know what you’re thinking.” Cordelia felt certain she was right and rolled her eyes as if to say his thoughts would be obvious even to a blind girl.
“Going back to the point I was trying to make,” Buffy cleared her throat. “Cordelia, I can tell that this has been a hard day on you. Maybe it was dumb to drag you through the cemetery. It’s further away from home than I realized.”
Reluctantly, Cordelia suggested, “You could call your mom to pick us up.”
“Uh—,” Buffy realized that her mother would have to be told about Angel and how they came to end up at his otherwise abandoned apartment building. “Probably not a good idea, Cordelia. Maybe you should stay here tonight.”
Sensing Buffy’s hesitance, Angel suggested, “If you are concerned why don’t you stay here, too? I’ll be out on the sofa.”
“Can’t. My mom would freak.”
Cordelia couldn’t believe that Buffy was giving up that easily. “Just tell her you’re staying at my house.”
“She’s never met you before,” Buffy pointed out.
Cordelia was agape. “Like that matters? What? Your mom needs to know my medical history and bank balance before allowing her daughter to grace my presence?”
“She’s overprotective.” Had been ever since Hemery where she burned down the gym.
Not that Buffy could blame her for it. Joyce Summers did not know that she was the Slayer or anything about her mission here in Sunnydale. Buffy wanted to keep it that way.
Buffy suddenly worried that Cordelia would let something slip to her mother about the reason for her blindness or the encounter in the graveyard tonight, even if the brunette had a totally clueless take on what really happened. Besides, she had no reason *not* to trust Angel. He’d been watching out for her, helping her with his cryptic messages.
“You know— maybe Cordelia should stay here,” Buffy suggested. “I’ll be at school in the morning and mom will be at work. What about you, Angel. Are you going to be home during the day?”
“So you’ll be okay, Cordelia?” Buffy wanted to make sure she wasn’t pushing the other girl into this just to keep Mom from finding out.
“Fine. You’ll call tomorrow, right? To let me know what happens with Amy?”
Nodding her head, Buffy asked Angel for his phone number. He had to admit, “I don’t have a phone.”
Cordelia wore a strange expression. “No phone or television— you are lacking essentials, Angel. How do you survive without a phone?”
“I haven’t been in town long,” Angel told her. “Just haven’t bothered to set it up.”
“Oh.” Cordelia knew she would go through withdrawal if her phone was taken away. “I’ll give you my cell number, Buffy. Use that.”
Buffy left soon after that still wondering if she was doing the right thing by leaving Cordelia Chase with this admittedly hot and helpful almost-stranger. He was supposed to be here to help. This was helping. Wasn’t it? Still, Buffy felt a twinge of jealousy as she left the apartment despite her concerns.
“I better turn my phone on,” Cordelia told Angel after Buffy’s departure. “I turned it off because I knew Harmony and Aura would be calling about the accident in Driver’s Ed. Can you grab my phone from my purse?”
“You want me to open your purse?”
Laughing, Cordelia promised, “Nothing in there will bite.”
“Good,” Angel sounded doubtful. Opening the zipper, he fished around until he found her cell phone. Pulling it out he saw that there were a lot of buttons not only with numbers, but also symbols.
Putting the phone in her hand, Angel hoped she could figure out how to turn it on. Cordelia took two seconds to find the appropriate button. “I’ve used this thing in the dark so a little blindness isn’t gonna get in my way now.”
She leaned over and felt for the nightstand Angel had told her was there and placed the phone on the edge. Angel asked her, “Are you still tired? Do you want to go straight to sleep?”
“Actually, I’d like to put my stuff away and take a shower.” Cordelia felt him move off from the edge of the bed where he had been sitting since returning with Buffy. “Could you help me?”
Help you shower? The silent question popped into his head. Definitely. “With your stuff? Sure. You don’t have much with you. Come here to the dresser and choose the easiest drawer.”
Cordelia got out of bed and followed the edge around to the other side. “This way?”
“Turn left and go about four steps forward,” Angel instructed
Feeling in front of her, Cordelia had to take a fifth step before she came into contact with the wooden high-boy dresser. There was a ridge separating the second and third drawers. Pulling at the handles of the third drawer, she told Angel, “I’ll take this one.”
Angel quickly cleared out his neatly paired and folded socks moving them into another drawer. Then he helped her to take her things out of the gym bag and place them in the drawer. He latched on to the last piece of clothing in the bag and pulled out a nightgown of hot pink silk and matching lace.
“Is this what you’re wearing to bed?” There was a choking sound accompanying Angel’s question.
“What is it?” Cordelia asked, curious at what had brought on that reaction. “Buffy just grabbed stuff at random.”
“It’s a short pink thing— with lace.”
“Oh,” she knew the one. “I don’t suppose the matching robe is in there?”
Angel peered into the bag already knowing it to be empty. “No. I have an extra robe. You can use it.”
With a snort of laughter, Cordelia held out a hand for the nightdress. “If you’re concerned about drowning in your own drool, then let me borrow a t-shirt.”
“No, I can handle it as long as you wear the robe.” Angel figured having her dress in his clothes would be even worse.
Cordelia felt around in the drawer planning to grab a pair of clean underwear while Angel was distracted, but he was apparently following her actions. He snatched the panties out of her grasp and gave her a second pair. “Not those.”
“The other ones were emerald green,” Angel explained. “These have little pink flowers that match your— uh, nightgown.”
Certain that she was turning red, Cordelia requested, “Can you take my other stuff into the bathroom? I need you to show me where everything is.”
Angel gathered her shampoo, conditioner, brush and comb, toothbrush and lotion into one armful, guiding her with the other into the adjoining bathroom. “Stand there for a second,” he instructed while putting everything in a location he thought she could find. Grabbing his extra robe from the hanger behind the door and some clean towels from the cupboard, he placed them on the towel rack just outside the shower.
Then stepping behind Cordelia, Angel led her around the bathroom to show her where everything had been placed. Cordelia never knew that a tour of a person’s bathroom could be so exciting. The feel of his tall frame leaning against her back as he moved her from place to place made her want to sink into him.
“So, a couple of steps from the door is the sink,” Angel moved her forward until her hips touched the edge of the counter. “Reach for the handles. Hot is on the left. Cold is on the right.”
“As usual.” Cordelia found the water faucets and gave them an experimental twist, turning them back off after she heard splashing water hit the ceramic bowl of the sink.
“Toothbrush is hanging on the wall holder to your left. Mine is there too. I put yours on the left.”
Cordelia repeated, “Toothbrush and toothbrush holder on the left. Got it.”
“Toothpaste on the counter just below.”
Angel continued with the orientation, showing her where her brush and comb had been placed. Then moving down the space beyond the sink. “Toilet ahead on the left.”
“That reminds me,” Cordelia interrupted. “You’re out of toilet paper.”
“Oh.” Angel hadn’t thought of that. “I’ll run out and get some later.”
Come to think of it, Cordelia would probably want food at some point and he had none of that in the apartment either. He had been so quick to suggest she stay with him that he had forgotten she might need some human necessities.
Moving forward again, “Three steps to the shower stall. Towels and robe on your right. Uh— give me your night things. I’ll hang them here too.”
She had bundled the panties and nightie into a ball and kept it in the crook of her arm, so he had to straighten things out in order to drape them over the towel bar. “Angel?”
“Yes?” He stared down at the beautiful face with its unfocused hazel eyes.
“You’re being so patient with me,” she smiled. “I just wanted to say thanks for putting up with me. I mean— it’s not like you had to help. Unless the Guardian Angel thing is some mandatory requirement for you night owl types.”
Cordelia shrugged. “Just figured. First off, you were roaming around the neighborhood cemetery. Not exactly Sunnydale Park if you know what I mean. Second, you suggested that you’d be home all day to take care of me.”
“I do prefer the nighttime,” Angel admitted. “Kind of allergic to sunlight.”
“Oh. I think I’ve heard of that,” Cordelia thought she had seen something on t.v. about it. “Photosensitivity?”
“Similar,” Angel figured he wouldn’t go into the details of bursting into flame. “Come here. Let me show you the shower.”
Cordelia held her breath as they stepped into the shower stall together. They were sandwiched up against each other and it was all too easy to think about being in there minus their clothes. She kept reminding herself that Angel was a virtual stranger, that these were dangerous thoughts, but she felt so safe in the circle of his arms and her whole body tingled at his closeness.
“Soap is here. I took out a new bar,” Angel lifted her hand to the soap holder. “Your shampoo and conditioner are straight ahead on the shower caddy. Yours is on the—”
“Left?” She guessed.
“Yeah. Just keeping things consistent,” Angel smiled into her hair as he leaned close to look at the two bottles. “You know which one is which?”
Feeling the containers of shampoo and conditioner, Cordelia correctly identified each one. As she put them back in place, Angel found himself reaching down to her waist to touch the hint of bare skin peaking from her midriff top.
She felt so good, her skin so smooth there. He imagined she would be smooth all over. Just touching her silken flesh, soaping her wet silken flesh with his hands. Cupping those tantalizing breasts and washing them until they were foamy with soapy bubbles. Then letting his hand wander down the flat surface of her belly to the curly forest at the apex of her thighs, his fingers brushing through it to find what secrets lay between. Touching her there, making her cry out his name with the pleasure she received. Feeling the wet curve of her lush bottom against his groin just as he positioned himself to take her.
With his eyes closed, Angel could picture it all. It was a fantasy he would give anything to make reality, but that was not going to happen. Cordelia was here for his protection, not to sate his lust. Forcing himself to pull away, Angel realized he needed to put some distance between them before Cordelia felt the proof of his lust— he was so hard and engorged it was close to being painful.
Sensing him move back, Cordelia turned around to face him. Angel couldn’t have gone far since the shower stall was small for two people. “Angel, this may be a strange place to ask, but suddenly I’m curious.”
“About what?” Angel managed not to groan aloud as she took a step toward him.
“What you look like.” Cordelia had been wondering about it, thinking at first that he had been one of the ugly guys from the Bronze. Now she wasn’t certain he was involved in the gang at all, just an acquaintance of Buffy’s through the school Crime Club. “What color is your hair?”
It had been a *long* time since Angel had thought about his coloring. He was always scrupulously aware of his clothes and hair, but having not seen himself in a mirror for nearly two and a quarter centuries he wasn’t certain how to describe it. “Brown.”
“Brown hair,” Cordelia nodded. “Eyes?”
“Brown hair and eyes. Complexion?”
“Uh— pale. My family is Irish.”
“Also allergic to sunlight,” Cordelia remembered. “Can I touch you?”
“What?!” Angel’s thoughts immediately descended into his pants.
“Your face,” she clarified. “To see you Helen Keller style.”
“Oh, my face.” Angel cursed himself silently for letting his brain fall into the gutter. He wasn’t certain that letting her touch him anywhere was a good idea, but could not deny her anything she wanted. “Go ahead.”
Reaching up, Cordelia’s hand moved up uncertain of its destination until Angel lifted it higher pressing it to his face. She had to step a little closer to reach the top of his head where she felt the short spiky hairstyle. “You use mousse?”
“You’re how tall?”
Cordelia’s mouth quirked into a smile as she let her fingers wander over the angular features of his face. Feeling the shape of his nose, she moved outward to his cheekbones and then traced her fingers over the curves of his ears.
He let out a laugh, squirming a bit. “That tickles.”
Then her fingers moved down the curve of his jaw, meeting at his chin. She licked her lips in anticipation of touching his. Angel watched the sweep of her tongue over her lush mouth fighting the intense need to taste her, to cover her mouth with kisses until she was so out of breath that she saw stars. Then her thumbs softly touched the curve below his bottom lip moving along its sweeping length to the corners. She repeated the action with his upper lip before both thumbs together pressed his lips closed in a mock kiss. He pursed his lips to caress the pads of her thumbs.
Cordelia’s hands dropped to his chest as a silent gasp left her throat. Had she imagined it? That soft kiss? Then her thoughts were diverted by the feel of a hard sculpted torso under the cloth of his shirt. My, but Angel was certainly well made. Her hands wandered over his chest and up to his broad shoulders.
Suddenly, Angel snatched her hands away holding her wrists to the side. He could read the arousal in her eyes and knew that he let this go on too long. “Do you know what you are doing to me, Cordelia? This needs to stop.”
His abrupt move jerked Cordelia up against him. Her full breasts were pressed hard into his chest, their pointed nipples aching at the contact. As her hips connected with his it became rather obvious exactly what she was doing to Angel. His large hands immediately fell to her hips holding her there for a moment as she instinctively wiggled against his tumescent arousal.
Setting Cordelia away from him, Angel turned and stepped out of the shower stall. She was looking embarrassed by what happened. In fact, Cordelia hurried to apologize, “I am really sorry, Angel. I didn’t mean to—”
“Turn me on?”
His voice was so husky that Cordelia’s insides curled with tingling pleasure at the sound. “I just wanted to feel— see you.”
“I know,” Angel answered before admitting, “Maybe it was a mistake to convince Buffy to let you stay.”
Cordelia did not want to admit that he was right. She was greedy and wanted to be around him. “You mean at the end of the day, when you hang up your Guardian Angel attire, you are really just a—”
Just a leering vampire with lustful intentions? Angel’s thoughts whizzed by in his head.
“— a normal guy?” Cordelia finished. “I shouldn’t have touched you. My bad.”
“Cordelia, you would tempt a saint,” Angel wanted to make certain she knew he was not rejecting her. “I’m no saint. Take your shower. I’ll be outside until I hear the water turn off and then I have to go out for a while.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“I’ll be back soon. There is an all-night supermarket nearby,” Angel explained. “We need a few things. I wasn’t as prepared for overnight guests as I thought.”
“Sorry to be a burden,” Cordelia now felt like she was intruding.
Angel cupped her face, his thumb roving over her cheek. “Don’t think that. If I didn’t want you here, I would have sent you away with the Slayer.”
“The who? You mean Buffy?”
“Uh— yeah. That’s her name in the Crime Club.” Angel hated lying to Cordelia, but he knew that Buffy’s status was supposed to be a secret.
“So, Mr. Giles is the Watcher and Buffy is the Slayer?” Cordelia thought she had it right. “What are Willow and Xander? Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum?”
“Erm! Secret identities. You have to be part of the club to know that.”
“Party pooper!” Cordelia was smiling again flashing him her megawatt grin. “So who are you, the Dark Avenger?”
“Guardian Angel, remember?”
“Yeah, yeah.” She waved a hand at him shooing him out of the bathroom. “So go guard the door from the other side. I’ll see— talk to you later.”
Other than dropping the soap one time, Cordelia successfully made it through her shower. She toweled off and reached for her short nightie and panties. After slipping them on, she felt for the terrycloth robe that was also where Angel said it would be. It was huge, the arms way too long and the material below the belt falling to her ankles. Still, it gave her a strange feeling of satisfaction to know that she was wearing something that belonged to him.
After combing out her long hair, Cordelia turned to open the door finally locating the doorknob after a couple of attempts. She picked up her clothes from the pile she had made right beside the door in order to easily find them again and moved out into the bedroom. Normally, she just dumped her clothes on the floor until Rosaria came and got them for the laundry. That wouldn’t be right here in Angel’s apartment.
She felt her way across the room to the chair that sat next to the chest of drawers. Putting her shoes on the floor under the chair, she left the rest of her clothes in a neat pile. It took some time to accomplish the task, but Cordelia felt good about her efforts not to mess up Angel’s bedroom.
Cordelia sat down on the bed for a few minutes, crunching her bare toes into the carpet. It was extremely boring waiting for Angel to return. She didn’t want to call any of her friends because they would demand to know what happened at school. So no phone. There was no television. Angel said nothing about owning a radio, but since it did not seem to be here in the bedroom it was possible he had a stereo in the living room.
Not that she was supposed to go there. She was supposed to stay here in the bedroom where things were less cluttered. The kitchen was out there too. Surely Angel had not intended to let her die of thirst or drink bathroom water.
Resolving to try to find the radio and the kitchen, Cordelia made her way around the perimeter of the bedroom until she found the door.
“Okay, Cordy. Which way?”
She found bookshelves full of books, many of them with old fabric covers and a slightly musty smell. Angel collected old books— huh! He hadn’t seemed like a fuddy-duddy like Mr. Giles. Exactly how old was he? Angel certainly *felt* like a hottie, but that did not mean he was anywhere near her age. She had assumed he came here to attend Sunnydale University.
“I’ll have to ask. If that doesn’t count as prying.” Cordelia cautioned herself. “Not that I pry.”
After a few minutes of searching, she finally located a stereo system. There were lots of knobs and buttons, but Cordelia took an educated guess and pressed the one on the top left of the machine. Classical music began to pour forth from the speakers filling the room with instrumental sounds.
“Not my favorite,” Cordelia sighed, “but it’ll do.”
She did not want to press too many buttons and not be able to turn it off again. “Now for that drink. I need water or orange juice. Something!”
Cordelia had no idea what Angel liked to keep in his refrigerator, but she was so thirsty it didn’t really matter. Cutting down the middle of the room, she felt her way across the front of the living room couch figuring that the kitchen was probably on the other side. Just as she reached the end of the couch, her hand connected with something on the end table.
It crashed to the floor and shattered into pieces. “Oh, no!”
Moving onto her knees, Cordelia tried to find the broken pieces and place them in a pile, trying at the same time to figure out what she had broken. They were rough and heavy in some places like stone and smooth and metallic in others. Just as she was reaching across the carpet for another piece, her hand slipped across part of the object slicing it open.
Angel returned to the apartment ten minutes later to the sound of music and the scent of blood in the air. He opened the door, dropping the grocery bags to the ground as he caught sight of Cordelia. She was kneeling on the carpet surrounded by the broken remains of his Chinese sculpture which he had acquired during the Boxer’s Rebellion. The belt of his white robe was wrapped around her wrist in a knot tying off the flow of blood.
“Cordelia!” He was at her side in a second sweeping her up into his arms and carrying her into the bedroom. She opened her eyes to look at him, close to fainting from the sensation of pain and sudden blood loss. “I shouldn’t have left you alone.”
“S-Sorry.” Her voice sounded weak. “Hope it wasn’t something expensive.”
A priceless and irreplaceable sculpture? “It was nothing. Just lay back. I need to look at your wrist.”
He released the knot on the belt at her wrist. The cut wasn’t so deep, but it kept oozing fresh blood with each pulse of her heart despite her impromptu pressure dressing. Angel figured he could try to get her to the hospital, but it was not close and finding a cab would take time. Too much time. There was only one option.
“Do you trust me, Cordelia?” Angel touched her face pleading for a positive answer.
“Yes,” she whispered still a little fuzzy.
Angel only hoped that he could do this. “I can help you if you let me. If you trust that I’m keeping you safe.”
“Just relax,” Angel’s voice softened. “I promise I’ll explain later.”
As her head was quite dizzy, Cordelia merely answered, “Okay.”
Cordelia barely registered the fact that Angel’s mouth closed over her slender wrist, his tongue sweeping across the bleeding wound. Actually, it felt kinda good.
Carefully, Angel lapped at the oozing cut cleaning it out until her blood ran free. The taste of her made him pause long enough to gain control of himself. He was close to vamping out. He wasn’t doing this to endanger her, but the sweet human blood in his mouth made it difficult not to want more.
Vampire saliva had dual properties that could either thin clotting blood or hasten healing. It made blood flow free when the demon wanted to drain its victim. Alternatively, it also aided closure of the wounds if the intent was merely to snack now and leave more for later. Now, Angel used those healing properties to clean and close the bleeding wound on Cordelia’s wrist.
He continued his ministrations until the wound appeared to be closed. Looking up, he saw that Cordelia was unconscious. Angel lifted her wrist to his mouth, pressing a wet kiss upon it and breathing in their combined scent. Moving off the bed, he maneuvered her out of the bloody robe tossing it onto the ground so that he could arrange Cordelia more comfortably on the bed.
Angel was about to pull the coverlet over her when he realized he was seeing her in her pink nightgown. Not much of a gown coming only to the tops of her thighs. A hint of the flowered panties peeked out from below where her leg was bent. The lacy part of the spaghetti-strapped nightie molded itself to her breasts hinting at the darker areolas and nipples that even in her unconscious state seemed to beg for his mouth.
Reaching out, Angel clasped her left knee which was bent upward. His hand slipped up to her supple thigh and back again to move the leg into a flat position. Then he grabbed for the covers before the sight of Cordelia tempted him into any other deplorable behaviors that took advantage of her vulnerability.
Just one more, perhaps. Tucking her in, Angel bent forward to press a kiss across her lips before moving away to deal with the groceries and the broken sculpture. He reentered the bedroom, took a quick glance at Cordelia’s wrist to ensure the wound was still closed and then went into the bathroom to shower.
Dressed in clean boxers and his dark navy robe, Angel walked back into the bedroom moving her clothes out of the chair and sat back with his eyes focused on the young woman in his bed.
Whispering, “Sleep tight, Cordelia. I’ll watch over you.”
Sometime before dawn, Angel sensed a shift in Cordelia’s breathing. She was awake. He did not want to startled her so remained silent. Sitting up on the bed, Cordelia felt the smooth skin of her previously injured wrist. There was no sign of a scab that she could detect. Maybe she had imagined that part.
Sitting there in the dark for some time, thinking about what had happened, Cordelia could not remember much except injuring herself and Angel asking her to trust him. What had happened? Strangely enough, Cordelia could feel his presence. It seemed like he was so close. Maybe that was wishful thinking. With a slight frown, she moved her hand along the surface of the mattress half expecting to find him stretched out next to her.
The other half of the bed was empty. She let out a little sigh, pulling her knees up to wrap her arms around them and the covers. Cordelia rested her head on her knees, staring into the utter darkness that blinded her. She had a peculiar feeling that she was not alone.
“Angel? Are you here?”
“Yes,” he told her. “I’m in the chair.”
“Why are you way over there?”
Angel wondered how he was supposed to take that question. “I wanted to make certain that you were okay. No more bleeding.”
When Cordelia attempted to apologize again for breaking his sculpture, Angel repeated what she had obviously forgotten. “It was nothing. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay.”
“How can you tell from way over there?” Cordelia asked. “Are the lights on?”
“No, I turned them off.”
“Aren’t you planning to sleep tonight?”
“I should be out on the sofa,” Angel glanced toward the door with a frown, “but I’m not leaving you tonight. If that wound opens up, I’ll have to take care of it again.”
Cordelia touched her wrist again. “I don’t feel anything. It barely even hurts.”
“Yeah? That’s fairly cryptic. I’ve had enough magic to last a lifetime, thank you very much,” Cordelia referred to the spell causing her blindness. The thought of it scared her. “What if this is permanent, Angel? What if I never see again?”
Instantly, he was out of the chair and on the bed at her side pulling her into his embrace. Cordelia hugged him close turning her cheek to rest upon his strong shoulder. Angel’s hands were cool against the bare flesh of her upper back as they moved up and down along her spine soothing her.
“I can’t predict the future, baby,” Angel told her. “I wish I could fix this for you, but I’m afraid it’s too late for me to venture out. If Buffy can’t find your cure tomorrow, then I will.”
Cordelia shuddered against him at the vehemence in his voice. Amy Madison beware. “I don’t want anyone else hurt,” she pointed out hoping that Angel wasn’t planning to do anything that would get him into trouble.
“The little witch either removes the spell or she’ll have to deal with a side of me that I’m sure she doesn’t want to meet,” Angel vowed.
So the big macho lug thought she wanted him to defend her against the witchy forces of darkness? Cordelia found herself smiling in spite of her own independent nature. Okay.
Angel started to pull back, but Cordelia held onto his arms. “Don’t go!”
“I’d better go back to the chair.”
“No. I want you here,” Cordelia pouted. “Stay and talk to me.”
“I can talk from the chair,” he pointed out.
“Stay with me. You said you’re not going to sleep and I’m awake now.” Cordelia flopped back on the pillow and rolled to her side. Tugging at the edge of the covers, she told him, “Get in. It’s not like I can see anything.”
That’s a good thing, Angel thought glancing down below the elastic waistband of his boxers. Go away, he willed his erection. Just go away.
“I can see,” Angel countered her argument.
Cordelia huffed. “You’ve been watching me all night. What does it matter now?”
“Good point,” Angel gave in to what he wanted to do by discarding his robe and crawling under the covers beside her.
Angel kept her distracted from conversation that was too personal in nature by discussing some of his travels. With her parents, Cordelia had been to a few of the same places. In different eras of course, but Angel kept a focus on the things he knew would be the same. They talked for over an hour before Cordelia started to yawn again.
“Hmm!” Cordelia confirmed, her eyelids drooping shut.
He raked his fingers through her silken chestnut hair trailing down to grab the edge of the comforter. Angel pulled it back up around her shoulders. “Get some more sleep. I’ll go back to the chair.”
Cordelia mumbled a protest. “Stay.”
So he did, but it was a long time before sleep came for Angel. His thoughts were too deep and too troubled to find sleep easily. As he listened to the soft sound of her breathing, he knew that he had never wanted a woman more than he wanted Cordelia Chase. It was impossible of course. She had no clue what he really was— a vampire with a soul. Even Buffy did not know the truth and it was for her that Angel had been sent to Sunnydale.
The sun was already high in the sky when Cordelia awakened though the room was dim since it had no curtains. Before opening her eyes, Cordelia realized that during the night she had somehow migrated into Angel’s embrace. They were tangled together on the bed, her head resting on his shoulder, his arms curling around her possessively, one large hand tucked into the waistband of her panties and resting at the top curve of her buttocks, and their legs entwined.
As her eyes flashed open with surprise, Cordelia realized that she could see. Then she let out a soft gasp as she saw Angel. He was so handsome. His name suited him perfectly, because he had the face of an angel. Geez, what a hottie! To think she had been worried that he might look like one of those creeps from the Bronze.
She couldn’t help but reach out to touch his chest, but it was then that she noticed that Angel was not breathing. Checking again and realizing that she was not making a mistake, Cordelia felt a flash of panic.
Omigod! CPR— how does that go again?
Launching herself out of their tangled embrace, Cordelia initiated the first steps to CPR by pinching his nose and blowing a breath into his mouth. There was no rise and fall of his chest, so she tried to reposition his head.
Suddenly, Angel awakened and moved Cordelia’s hands away from his face. “What are you doing?”
As he sat up, Cordelia felt tears well in her eyes. Throwing her arms around his shoulders and hugging him tight, she cried out, “You’re alive. Omigod, Angel. I thought you were dead.”
Pulling her back so he could look at her face, Angel realized that she woke to find him not breathing. Normal for a vampire. Not so normal for a human. He felt that the time to tell her the truth was fast approaching.
Before he could speak, Cordelia grabbed his face and pressed her mouth to his, kissing Angel voraciously as if to prove to herself that he was not a corpse. As her plush lips covered his, Angel could only respond with equal veracity. He wanted her kisses and he was not about to stop anything she initiated of her own free will.
Well maybe not anything, Angel thought as she climbed up onto his lap to get closer to his kiss. The lace covering her breasts rasped across his bare chest eliciting a moan from his throat that echoed into Cordelia’s mouth. She pulled up for air gazing down at him with a sparkle of intense desire in her hazel eyes as her hips settled down over his thighs covering the bulge in his boxers.
The contact made them both groan. Angel was trying to maintain control, but he found that the wriggling feminine hips were driving him insane. “I want you so much, Cordelia. You are so beautiful, so sexy and so alive. You have no idea what a temptation you are.”
“And you’re no saint,” Cordelia grinned down at him gazing directly into his eyes.
Then it finally dawned on Angel. “You can see.”
“I spy with my little eyes something that is brown,” she sing-songed leaning in to kiss one of his eyebrows.
With her arms around his shoulders, Cordelia held the back of his head with her hands and turned her own to run her tongue along the outer shell of his ear remembering that it was a sensitive spot. Angel shuddered in pleasure, grasping her hips and rolling his own beneath her.
Cordelia’s head lolled back at the incredible sensation and found Angel instantly pressing wet kisses along her throat. His hands moved up to cup her lace covered breasts palming them so the nipples pressed into his hands. Then he moved up holding her head in place as he continued to taste the skin of her throat while their hips moved into a slow grinding rhythm below.
The scent of her, the memory of her blood on his tongue, it was so hard to resist taking what he wanted. Just a bite. Just a few sips of the precious ambrosia that was Cordelia’s lifeblood.
Quickly realizing where this could lead, Angel balked. “Stop! That’s enough, Cordelia,” he dropped his hands from her head to still her hips. “I shouldn’t be doing this. You don’t know me.”
“Yes, I do,” Cordelia had her hands on his chest. “It doesn’t take forever to know people. Sometimes it happens right away.”
Despite the fact that Angel knew he should move her away from him, he kept her there on his lap. Somewhat harshly, he asked, “What are you saying? That you woke up and experienced love at first sight?”
“N-No.” Cordelia wasn’t certain that it was love. Though, it kinda felt that way. “It’s what you said, Angel. I want you. I trust you. You are so beautiful, so sexy and I can’t stop myself from touching you.”
What the hell had he done to deserve her? Left her alone in the cemetery and immediately she was attacked. Left her alone in the apartment and she cut herself. Lapped up her blood just because he couldn’t resist a taste even though there might be another way to stop the bleeding. Climbed into bed with her because she said so while half-asleep.
He made one final half-hearted try to convince Cordelia that this was wrong. “You are here under my protection. You have just recovered from a spell that left you blind. You were injured, lost blood and were unconscious for a minute last night.”
“I feel fine,” Cordelia ran her hands across his chest then added, “and so do you.”
“There are things about me that you don’t know.”
“Can’t you tell me later?”
“That would certainly get me what I want right now,” Angel admitted, “but I don’t want to deal with the anguish that will follow afterward. There was a time in my life that I would take what you’re offering without hesitation, Cordelia. I’m not that person. I do not want to take advantage of you.”
“So tell me now,” Cordelia pleaded anxious to get back to the kissing and touching. “What is so important?”
Angel took a deep breath despite the fact that he did not need it. Somehow it reassured him that he was doing the right thing. Reminded him of a time when breathing was necessary and how his life might have been different if he hadn’t let himself be led around by urge to bed everything in a skirt.
“How long have you lived in Sunnydale?”
“All my life,” Cordelia answered.
“Have you never wondered at the strange activities in this town? Never seen things that you cannot rationally explain? Never noticed that Sunnydale has a dark side?”
“No.” Cordelia frowned at his questions. “There are weird things all of the time, but nothing that can’t be explained. I’m sure every town has its dark side.”
“Not like this one,” Angel told her. “I don’t want to scare you Cordelia, but I am a part of that darkness.”
Oh. So maybe he was the gang leader after all, Cordelia mused. She could deal with that. “So?”
“Don’t be flippant. I came to Sunnydale because of Buffy Summers— the Slayer.”
“You came here for her?”
“To watch over her, Cordelia,” he corrected. “She is not just a normal teenager.”
“Duh! Everyone knows Little Miss Crime Club is into weirdness,” Cordelia pointed out. That was no surprise.
Angel realized this conversation was not going well. “Baby, please listen to me.”
Baby? Cordelia wetted her lips as she stared at his mouth. Geez, he made her want to kiss him all over.
“You will find this unbelievable, but Buffy was born to be a vampire slayer. To stop the spread of darkness. Her mission here in Sunnydale is to guard the Hellmouth, which is an opening into the nether-realms and home to chaos itself.”
Angel held her hands to his chest. “There is more. Not just about Buffy, but me.”
“So are you a slayer too?”
“No, Cordelia,” Angel decided he needed to be frank. “I am a vampire.”
Cordelia was motionless for a second before she started to get angry. Then she started to wriggle trying to wrest her hands lose so she could get off his lap. “I can’t believe that you are telling me this. What a load of bull! If you didn’t want me, Angel, just say so.”
“I do want you,” Angel told her. “That’s the problem. I want to feel you from the inside as you clamp down around me. I want to taste your orgasm on my tongue. I want your blood in my mouth again.”
“Eew!” That would be really gross if it didn’t also leave her tingling all over. “So you say you’re a vampire? Prove it.”
“Will you trust me, Cordelia?” He asked her with a softer tone. “One last time. Trust me to keep you safe?”
She saw the truth in his eyes. Whispering her response, “Yes.”
“Close your eyes and keep them closed. I want you to touch me like you did last night in the shower. Just start with my chest and work your way up.”
“Just close your eyes,” Angel instructed, “and remember that I would never hurt you.”
The moment she did, he slipped into game face and released her hands. Cordelia sat still wondering what this exercise was all about. What would be different in the way he felt now versus last night? Different than what she saw this morning?
The first thing she noticed was the stillness of his chest, the same thing that had caused her to start CPR. It seemed he could hold his breath for a long time. Then her fingers crept up to his neck and around the back of his head brushing her fingers through his bed-tossed spiky hair. Cordelia’s hands moved forward covering Angel’s ears noting nothing different that her tongue had not earlier explored.
Cordelia hesitated there for a moment forcing herself to keep her eyes closed. Why was she suddenly nervous? He was doing this to prove a point. What was the point? That she was an idiot for letting him spin this story or that he was really a vampire?
Angel felt her hands tremble as she moved them again, this time to brush her thumbs across his cheekbones. Though Cordelia’s eyes remained closed, her eyebrows darted up in surprise as she found the hard ridge of bone curved up from his cheek to his brow. She followed the curvature with her fingers across the slope of his forehead meeting at the indentations above his nose.
Her heart thudded in her chest, Angel noted. She was scared, but kept her eyes closed. Now her thumbs were following the outline of his nose down to the corner of his mouth. She touched the lower curve of his lip and then the upper noting a difference in the shape of his mouth. Pressing her thumbs down on his lips, Cordelia felt his purse into a kiss against her thumbpads.
“Can I look?” Cordelia dropped her hands to her thighs. She felt kind of numb. Angel was obviously telling her the truth. She should probably be screaming, but found that she couldn’t. Not when this was Angel.
“Open your eyes.”
“A vampire.” She gave a little gulp as she looked into his golden gaze. “I guess seeing is believing after all.”
Nodding, Cordelia admitted the truth. “Just a little. Maybe more than a little. Angel, are you telling me that there are more vampires in Sunnydale? That Buffy Summers is here to kill your kind and that by some weird twist you have been called up to be her Guardian Angel?”
“Yes. Only, she doesn’t know that I’m a vampire.”
“Good. Don’t tell,” Cordelia suggested. “She’ll be less likely to kill you— supposed to be her job, right?”
It was a good sign that Cordelia wasn’t screaming, Angel figured. “Right, but I’ll tell her when the time comes.”
“Are the stories about vampires true? Is that why you’re allergic to sunlight?”
“Some of them are true,” Angel admitted. “Many of them are simply stories.”
Hesitantly, Cordelia lifted her hands to curl around his biceps. “What does this mean, Angel. I mean for us?”
Shifting back to his human face, Angel asked, “Is there an *us*?”
A sudden pounding on the apartment door startled them both. Shifting Cordelia off of his lap, Angel turned his attention to the front room. “It’s Buffy.”
“You can tell?”
“Vampire senses,” he explained while picking up his robe. “You better get dressed.”
Grabbing a pillow from the bed, he brought it with him tossing it on the couch as he went to answer the door. He heard the bathroom door shut behind him even as more knocking came from the front door. Unlocking the bolts, Angel then turned the knob to admit the blonde Slayer whose eyes darted around the apartment obviously searching for Cordelia.
“Angel, hi!” Buffy caught a glimpse of his bare chest as he tied the knot on his robe. “Is Cordelia ready to go?”
Trying not to sound irritated at her unexpected and untimely appearance, he commented, “I thought you were going to call.”
“Well, I figured with the spell being broken that was enough of a message,” Buffy looked confused at the gruff sound to his voice. “Wait until you two hear what happened to me at Amy’s house and at school today.”
Cordelia appeared suddenly at the bedroom doorway looking slightly tumbled as if she had not yet brushed her hair nor bothered to put her clothes on straight. Buffy frowned at the sight having never seen the brunette looking less than picture-perfect. Her gym bag was slung over her shoulder.
“Where have you been, Buffy? Angel and I figured you’d call first. I’ve just been waiting for ages.” She tagged on a brilliant smile and crossed the room to put the bag down on the kitchen table. “Geez! I’m really thirsty.”
She started looking through cabinets finding most empty until Angel pointed her in the right direction. “Oh, yeah.”
Taking one down, she stepped over to the refrigerator and asked Buffy, “Hey, do you want some—”
Blood? There were bags of blood on the top shelf. Right next to the—
“— orange juice?”
Grabbing the juice, Cordelia slammed the refrigerator door drawing a strange look from Buffy who declined the offer. When her hands started shaking, Cordelia had to put the juice carton back on the countertop. Angel noticed, coming over to pour her a glass.
“Just drink it slowly,” he told her. “Your blood sugar is probably low.”
“You can tell?”
Angel reminded her, “You never ate dinner last night and haven’t had anything today, either.”
“Oh. I thought—”
“Drink your juice.”
Buffy talked to them about her encounter with Amy and the real witch who had caused Cordelia’s blindness— Amy’s mother Catherine Madison. As she prattled on about the horrors of the day and how it took Giles to rescue her from Catherine’s spell before Buffy could defeat her, the blonde never noticed the way Angel and Cordelia kept staring at each other.
“Finished with the juice?” Buffy asked. “Cause I figure we can get you back to your house before school lets out for the day. You wouldn’t want anyone seeing you like that.”
“I’ll tell you later,” Buffy pulled her toward the door grabbing her gym bag along the way. “Bye, Angel. See you the next time you have bad news or feel like babysitting.”
Cordelia could only glance over her shoulder as Buffy pulled her away. She met his gaze and shifted it back toward the bedroom hoping that he would get the message.
Angel felt like ripping Cordelia out of Buffy’s hands and pulling her back to the bedroom where she belonged. But he didn’t really know if she felt that way. She hadn’t proclaimed him to be a vampire while Buffy was present. Damn the Slayer’s bad timing. Unless it was really the Slayer’s *good* timing and her instincts told her to show up just at that moment.
Turning back to the bedroom, Angel felt like crawling back into bed and smothering himself in the scent of Cordelia that was certain to be on the sheets. He stopped just in front of the bed as he saw the object in the center of the bed. It was Cordelia’s cell phone.
A week later, Cordelia was at the Bronze with the Cordettes. They were standing in the corner by the bathroom waiting for the line to clear in order to check their makeup and hair. Then Harmony pointed over Cordelia’s shoulder. “What a hottie. Pick up the phone and dial 911.”
Cordelia turned on her heels to see Angel entering the Bronze and scanning the room. He was focused on Buffy, she noted as the vampire stepped past their group. Trying to catch his attention she called out, “Hello, Salty Goodness.”
Angel stopped in his tracks. What was that? Something about salty goodness? Whatever she meant, he recognized the voice. “Cordelia.”
“You didn’t call me,” she flashed a dark look in his direction placing her hands on her hips. Angel simply stared at the way she filled out her stunning red dress. “I left you my cell phone for a reason.”
“I don’t know how to use it,” Angel admitted sheepishly.
Agape, Cordelia found herself laughing. “Is that why you didn’t answer when I called you?”
Stepping up to him, she curled her fingers into the fabric of his shirt. “I can’t believe that you made me think you didn’t want to talk to me.”
Then questioning, “You do want to talk to me, don’t you?”
“I think you know what I want.”
“Oh.” She stared up into his eyes as her hands moved around his waist. “Is it possible, Angel. I mean— the two of us?”
“Is there an *us*?”
Cordelia told him, “That’s what I want.”
“Then anything is possible, baby, because I’ll always give you what you want.”
Oblivious of anything else, Angel and Cordelia stared into each other’s eyes and then leaned in for a kiss that seemed to have no end. From across the room Buffy turned to her date, Owen Thurman. She pointed out the kissing couple. “See that? I introduced those two a week ago. Now they’re all over each other.”
Near the door, another group of onlookers gaped in awe at their leader. Aura was amazed at the quick work. “I am so worshipping Cordelia right now. What is her secret? Hottie magnetism?”
Harmony was pouting in the corner. “It’s so not fair. I saw him first.”