08: Sealing the Deal
Chapter 8: Sealing the Deal
Angelus paced across the foyer continuously stealing glances at the front door. This was abominable, he thought. Waiting like this for a woman. A human woman. Cordelia Chase was indeed a luscious specimen, but was she worth the trial and humiliation of having to ask Angel permission to claim her?
Over the past few weeks, Angelus fell into a pattern of behavior that was quite frankly out of the norm. He had stuck to the letter of the rules laid down by the Fates as well as Cordelia’s challenge. At first, it was all a well-acted plan. Even the Scoobies were eating out of his hand. Except for Xander, of course, who had seen more than he should and was suspicious of everything Angelus did around Cordelia.
The vampire had pulled out all the stops and used every bit of his imagination to come up with ways of pleasing Cordelia. Once he had convinced her that the hero tactics were part of his routine, he planned to move into seduction mode. Only something happened and he wasn’t quite certain when or how it occurred.
One day Cordelia stopped assessing his motives and Angelus forgot about his act. Smiles she sent his way came across genuinely. When he returned from Willy’s Bar with crucial information, he felt triumphant that it aided their cause. Cordy no longer shied away from his touch and Angelus stopped fooling himself that he would be satisfied just to breach the invisible wall she put up between them.
There was no doubt that he wanted Cordelia and had told her that fact from the first. What worried him was that this now went beyond lust. Angelus realized that he needed her. The emotion churning in his stomach that clenched the muscles of his shoulders and back until they were tight with tension — it was fear.
Watching the door and listening for footsteps, Angelus hated the feeling. He was once the Scourge of Europe and feared nothing. Darla would roll with laughter if she could see him now. Afraid that Angel would reject his claim on Cordelia. Afraid that she would not want to place herself in his care. It took trust, but had he earned that? Angelus was not so certain. He was not prepared to address the reason the fear existed in the first place.
Angelus suddenly stopped his restless pacing at the sound of the door handle turning. Crossing the threshold Cordelia was followed closely by Angel. The sight of her stunned him. Angelus had not really believed that his twin would bring her to him. The two vampires locked stares for a moment and Angelus realized that Angel was not going to give away one iota of information before he wanted to. Glancing over at Cordelia, her flushed face simply signaled that their discussion had taken place.
“Cordelia—,” Angelus found her name on his lips and stepped forward only to have his twin move in between them.
“Not so fast.”
Angelus frowned at the vampire separating him from Cordelia. It was a dangerous place to be and only the fact that this was the only way he could legitimately claim her stopped Angelus from showing his anger. Realizing that visible fury might threaten negotiations, he let his anger fade.
Now he just marveled, “You brought her.”
“Well?” He demanded one of them tell him something. Cordelia was now reacting to his impatience with a little smirk.
His double informed him, “We need to talk, Angelus.”
Behind the souled vampire, Cordelia piped up. “Should I step out? Maybe I should just go into the kitchen.”
Angel turned, placed his hand on the small of her back and led her forward. “No, Cordy. This concerns you too.”
Eyeing the fact that the other vampire was now touching Cordelia, Angelus only felt his tension increase. That had to be a bad sign if Angel was still playing possessive vamp as Cordy would call it. Curling his hands into fists, Angelus clenched them at his side. It wouldn’t do to suddenly knock Angel out on the floor. At least not until he answered him about his decision.
“When you came to me with this request,” Angel declared, “my first reaction was to kill you. Except that I can’t do that as the deal with the Fates binds us. Still, there are far too many reasons why I shouldn’t let this happen.”
Cordelia tilted her head to watch the vampire speak. His expression was blank so it was impossible to tell if Angel was changing his mind or not. She wanted to say he couldn’t take it back. Not now that she had made up her mind. Strangely, she felt the words caught in her throat.
“Your history is something we don’t need to discuss. We all know what you’ve done in the past,” Angel went on. “Cordelia feels that you have tried to make a change and that you are legitimately joining in rather than playing some kind of game. I do hope that is true.”
“True enough,” he confirmed. “What is your answer, Angel? Yes or no? I don’t need to hear about your angsty decision-making process.”
Angel laughed harshly. “You’ll hear more than that before I’m through tonight. Angelus, I realized one thing that turned my original decision in the other direction. Considering my own relationship with Buffy it would be hypocritical of me to stop this when you both want it.”
“Good point, Angel,” Cordelia agreed with a widening grin that told Angelus everything he needed to know about her wishes. “Glass houses and all.”
It still seemed like a strange prospect to Cordelia that Angel had anything to do with their business, but Angelus obviously felt that his twin’s permission was necessary. Cordelia was all too aware of the cool hand on her back that made her skin feel hot beneath the fabric of her dress. She wished that Angel would hurry up with his speech, lecture or whatever this was so she could go to Angelus. The idea that being near Angelus would quell her sudden nervousness instead of being in a comfort zone with Angel was rather turned around, but the realization kept her smiling.
“Angelus, I have just one demand in return for my agreement to your request,” his double announced.
What demand? Angelus wasn’t certain he would agree to any demands. Especially if they involved Cordelia.
“I don’t want Cordy hurt,” Angel told him with a dangerous gleam. “Not in any way.”
Quick to agree, Angelus replied, “I’m not planning to hurt Cordy.”
“Not intentionally,” snapped Angel.
“Not at all,” Cordelia put in and wondered if Angel was just talking physical or emotional pain as well. Angelus had dealt out both in the past, but that seemed to be over.
“You still have a lot to learn about vampires,” warned Angel as he continued to keep his hand on her. “Cordelia, promise me that you will come to me if things get out of hand. You can tell me anything.”
“Stop frightening me,” Cordy demanded hotly, balling her hands into fists and propping them on her hips. With an exasperated sigh, she fumed, “Angelus isn’t going to hurt me. I won’t need your help to handle him, because I’ll kick his ass myself if he ever tries his vamp tricks on me.”
Angelus chuckled at her response. Feisty, beautiful Cordelia. He willed Angel to go away so that he could follow through with his need to claim her tonight, but his twin appeared to be planted in place.
“Cordy, you have to know that there is no going back,” Angel told her. “Not after you are consciously and willingly accepting his claim. Angelus isn’t going to let you back out of this decision.”
“He’s right,” Angelus agreed. “That means you better be damned careful about who flirts with you, because I might take it too seriously. If you can’t handle the fact, Cordelia, then I suggest you turn tail and run.”
Why the hell did I tell her that? She might do it.
Glancing back and forth at the two vampires, Cordelia remembered that this was not an easy decision on her part, but it was one she had already made. “What’s with the vampire tag team? Angel, this isn’t Father Knows Best. Surely, I don’t have to point out the fact that I can get fatherly lectures at home. I don’t need them from you.”
Angel’s jaw tightened as his twin let out a snort of laughter.
“As for you,” Cordelia whipped her attention over to Angelus, “get over the vampire possessive act right now. I won’t put up with it. There is this little thing called trust that you’ll have to get acquainted with.”
Now it was Angel’s turn to be amused, but it brought down Cordelia’s wrath. “Butt out of my business, Angel. I get the fact that you had to have this— bleh!— property exchange, but I want a real relationship with Angelus, not a carbon copy of your post-slayage bedroom antics with Buffy.”
Gasping aloud as soon as the words left her mouth, Cordelia reeled in shock at what she had said. Even if it was how she felt about the vampire’s interactions with the Slayer, the way they chose to conduct their late night liaisons was not her business. “Angel! I’m—”
There was definitely a growl sounding from Angel’s throat drowning out her attempt at an apology. The space between them vanished as Cordelia found herself yanked up hard against his body causing the pressure points at her breasts and hips to ache in response. Angel’s free hand fisted in her hair holding her still.
Cordelia stared up for an instant into the blazing heat of his dark gaze just before his mouth descended to cover her parted lips. Clinging to his arms, Cordelia moaned against the fierce passion of the kiss. Lasting only seconds, his lips devoured hers.
Moments away from starting a bloodbath, Angelus envisioned rending the vampire limb from limb for daring to touch what he wanted. Even she might be punished for the silky moan that poured from her throat as flashing images in his mind detailed suggestions. With barely contained fury Angelus reigned himself in, now glancing daggers at his double.
It was only the fact that until Angel officially turned Cordelia over to him, he had the right to do anything he damn well pleased. Vampire custom called for a token ritual to seal the deal. This had to be it. This had better be it.
Abruptly pulling back, Angel met her startled and confused gaze. Then his voice sounded and somehow she heard him through the staccato pounding of her heartbeat, “Goodbye, Cordelia.”
Feeling acutely aware of the loss of his touch, Cordelia could only watch as Angel moved away from her. A silent message passed between the vampires full of acknowledgment, fading anger and resolve. Cordelia realized that Angel no longer blocked her path toward Angelus. In fact, the other vampire was already approaching. There was a look of smug satisfaction on his face replacing the rage that was there only moments before.
“Your heart is still racing a mile a minute,” Angelus told her as he held out a hand.
Still touching her fingers to her swollen lips, Cordelia tentatively reached out the other for Angelus. “I-I didn’t expect Angel to do that.”
“Neither did I,” Angelus admitted sending his twin a narrowed glance.
Angel already had his hand on the door handle. The urge to go out and kill something had returned and he almost felt sorry for any vamps or demons that crossed his path tonight. Having his head filled with battle tactics and his hands stained with dust and blood would be a welcome diversion from what he knew was going to occupy his thoughts.
“I’m going out,” he informed the pair stepping into the night. “You’ll have the mansion to yourselves until sunrise.”
The front door slammed hard behind him causing Cordelia to jump in response. Angel had kissed her and told her goodbye. She felt the pinprick of tears threatening, but blinked them back without understanding what caused them. “What was that all about?”
“Angel doesn’t like to share his things much less give them away,” Angelus gave her a crooked smile.
“Tough!” Cordelia dropped her hand away from his to tuck the loose waves of her dark chestnut hair behind her ears. Poking a finger against her breastbone, she protested, “Living, breathing human person here. Not a thing. Not a possession.”
Angelus wanted to roar out the fact than she belonged to him now. Controlling that urge, he suggested smoothly, “Don’t lovers belong to each other? I’ll be yours. Be mine.”
That wasn’t quite how it worked in the vampire world, Angelus thought, but the hazel eyes that were so brightly annoyed flashed impishly at the idea. Then she was back on her tirade, “Angel can’t claim that rule. He’s turning into more of a Jekyll and Hyde than he was when you two were one person. What an ass! Kissing me in front of you.”
“You enjoyed it,” Angelus drolled edging a bit closer.
Cordelia shrugged, “Duh! He caught me by surprise. Angel has never even attempted to kiss me before, not with Miss Slays-a-Lot around. Now he does it? Guys aren’t supposed to lock lips with their brother’s girlfriend.”
“Brother?” Angelus latched onto the word as if it stunned him. It even overshadowed the fact that Cordelia referred to herself as his girlfriend. In his own mind, they were already far beyond that pale descriptor.
“What else would you call him, Angelus?” Cordy asked him seriously. “Besides your double, mirror image or the Good Twin?”
With a smirk Angelus warned her, “Don’t get me started. I could name names all night long. In fact, I could have fun with that.”
“Right now, so could I,” Cordelia felt her lower lip pooch out into a pout. “Why kiss me like that? Why now? It’s just that Angel has never treated me that way before.”
Though something inside him wanted to tell Cordelia that she could drop the subject any time, he decided to be honest. Cupping her cheek so that she looked up at him, Angelus commented, “You’d be surprised at what goes through Angel’s mind sometimes. As for why now— it’s the last time Angel will get to touch you without my permission.”
Cordelia tried to process what Angelus was telling her, but it seemed that Angel had been right about one thing tonight. Grmph! “I do have a lot to learn about vampires.”
“I’ll teach you everything you need to know.”