Chapter 11: Confrontation
Angel felt Buffy’s head shift against his shoulder as they lay together in bed, stark silence adding to a palpable tension between them. Maybe it was just guilt weighing down on him. After all, Buffy had just walked in on him when his thoughts were on someone else and he’d taken what she freely offered. Rationalizing his behavior wasn’t helping. Using his girlfriend to ease a sudden irrational lust for Cordelia was deplorable, but he hadn’t bothered to consider that at the time.
He suspected that Buffy knew something. Though her finger made random designs across his muscular torso, and her soft, even breathing gave nothing away, Angel sensed that her thoughts weren’t focused on the past two hours. Speaking would only get him caught in a trap of his own making, so he stayed quiet and unmoving.
Predictably, Buffy broke the silence, though the question was only one of many that he figured he had in store. “You knew about Angelus and Cordelia, didn’t you? This is that bad thing you were worried about.”
“Yes,” he answered simply. It was the truth, but it prompted him to ask her how she knew. Buffy missed the dark glower that shrouded his face for an instant before his expression switched back to a neutral form.
“I saw Cordelia downstairs. She was wearing a bathrobe,” Buffy’s tone suggested that she had come to a rapid conclusion after finding her that way. Confessing, “I thought it was yours.”
Angel grumbled irritably as he focused on his belongings and not on the twist Buffy was giving the scenario, “It was mine until Angelus took it,” despite the fact that he had more than one.
“Sunnydale’s version of the California Community Property Law? Separate from your evil alter ego and lose everything that’s yours.”
Toying with a strand of her soft blond hair, Angel commented, “Not everything. Just some things more important than others.”
As Buffy shifted to look at him, pulling the loose sheet with her, sitting with her arms around her knees, a look of horror appeared, her eyes wide with it. “Cordelia told me that she spent the night with Angelus.”
Embracing silence again, Angel simply let her get out what she wanted to say on the matter. The subject left him chilled, a feeling that swept him despite the close heat of her body. He neither confirmed nor denied what Cordy said. After all, Buffy had seen evidence enough.
“You knew,” Buffy accused as if he had failed to share a vital secret, “that they had something going on. This might be Cordelia, but I wouldn’t wish Angelus on my worst enemy.”
Ignoring the little reminder that Buffy and Cordy had never been close friends, Angel simply said, “I knew. That’s why I needed to talk to her last night. Angelus had told me he wanted to pursue a relationship with Cordy and asked for my… advice on the matter.”
Surprised by the news, Buffy’s jaw fell slack. “Angelus asked you for advice? What did you tell him?”
Annoyed, Angel tensed up again. What the hell did she think he would say to him? “I told him to forget it. I told him that he had no business lusting after anyone that was mi— my friend.”
Hiding the truth only made Angel feel worse about the whole thing. Maybe he should just tell the Slayer that he was angry because Angelus dared to ask permission to have what was his, that he had given said permission because of his own sense of guilt and that it led to a crazed bout of jealous rage. Such truth wouldn’t change the outcome now that he had given in to Angelus’ plea.
“If you told him to buzz off then why the need for the Cordelia lecture?”
The fact that it was a duty he had to perform wouldn’t sit well with Buffy. He doubted that she would appreciate Angelus’ need to go through ritualistic channels to be with Cordelia. She certainly wouldn’t like hearing the reasons Angel had to see it through or that he had to reassure himself that Cordy would be happy.
Buffy didn’t seem to resent his friendship with Cordy, but neither did she understand it. Even Angel had to confess that there were times he didn’t understand it either. A gruff rumble emerged harshly, “Would telling either one of them to forget the idea really make a difference?”
“Nope,” she admitted. “Can’t say that either one of them are good at taking orders.”
“I just needed to make a few things clear to both of them,” Angel rationalized. That was factual enough.
“But you still let it happen. This is Angelus!” Gesturing wildly, Buffy acted as though the simple invocation of the name was enough to cause the next apocalypse. Angel let her rant, even when she snatched the sheet as she jumped off the bed.
Totally nude, Angel simply plumped the pillow beneath his head and then drummed his fingers against his stomach as he watched her pace around the room. For just a moment, she reminded him of Darla and the reflexive response of tuning her out was almost too strong to ignore.
Finally, she said something that caught his attention. “You took his side.”
Denial fell flat as Angel realized that his consent was, in a way, exactly that. “Cordy wanted it, too. I was concerned at what might happen if I tried to keep them apart. This way I can keep an eye on them.”
“What’s the difference?” she snapped. “That doesn’t change who and what he is.”
His fingers paused in their rhythmic beat. Angel rose from the bed in one smooth motion, walking up to Buffy before responding with a dark undertone, “A vampire?”
Buffy’s eyes dilated at they met his gaze, instinctively sensing his predatory nature and reacting automatically. She pressed her lips together and he could tell she was searching for an appropriate response. “No, just that vampire.”
As his gut twisted at the thought, Angel turned his back to her. “Some things are just inevitable.”
“Cor falling for Angelus was inevitable?” Buffy rolled the idea around on her tongue. “She did have a crush on you a long time ago before she knew you were a vampire. If this was just some random vamp, I’d be laughing myself to death. Can’t you see her taking Spike to the prom?”
“No,” Angel’s clipped answer was lost on her as the giggles hit and she toppled over onto the mattress.
Grabbing his pants from the floor, he shoved his legs into them and zipped up, not bothering with anything else. Maybe the idea of Cordy being in love with a vampire came as a shock considering her vocal opinions on the subject of his relationship with Buffy, but Angel didn’t find it funny.
Interrupting the annoying squeals, he managed a tight reign on his patience as it stretched thinner and thinner. Taking in a deep breath, he released it slowly. “This isn’t a laughing matter. I know this seems like a big turn-around for Cordy. Not for Angelus, though. He always wanted her.”
The smile on Buffy’s face disappeared. Angel angled his gaze away upon realizing that he had said too much. Even before the deal with the Fates, Buffy had always referred to Angelus separately from himself. He’d encouraged that, but she had to know their existence wasn’t quite so simple.
“You know that because you share Angelus’ memories, right?” Buffy held a tenuous grip on the sheet as she sat up on the edge of the bed. “He went after Cordelia that night in the cemetery. Cor never told us what he said to her, but you must know. When your soul was restored, you remembered what happened between them.”
“I remember it all.” The memory spawned none of the guilt that usually accompanied it. Tackling Cordy, taking those few stolen moments to touch her while whispering wicked promises in her ear now stirred emotions that had nothing to do with remorse.
Now plucking nervously at a fold in the sheet, Buffy asked, “What were you thinking about when I came in?”
Angel knew Buffy meant the moment she caught him easing his arousal. He’d been wound up by Cordelia’s intimate scent in his territory and on his possessions. After ripping off his clothes, he lay down on the bed where her scent surrounded him and immediately lost himself in fantasy. Now his girlfriend wanted to know what was on his mind.
After an awkward pause, he answered, “The things that have gone on in this bed.”
Relief spread across Buffy’s crimped features accompanied by an unmistakable sigh.
Technically, Angel had spoken the truth, but he knew she would mistake his words and think he was talking about them. It made him hurt inside to lie to Buffy, but he didn’t want to upset her. These random possessive thoughts and feelings for Cordy were all temporary, just some vampire instinct surfacing. Once he got used to the idea of Cordy and Angelus being a couple, he felt certain things would get back to normal again.
“Afternoon, Bro,” Angelus greeted him almost cheerfully as he entered the kitchen.
Stopping stiltedly in the doorway, Angel blinked twice before asking, “What did you call me?”
“Bro,” the clarification drew a look of irritation. “Would you prefer that I called you sis?”
Angel gritted his teeth, glaring at the other vampire. Not amused, he deadpanned, “Funny, but it’s not getting you off the hook without a damn good explanation.”
As he folded the newspaper and set it down on the table, Angelus explained with a grin, “Cordelia suggested it so I’d stop calling you my pain-in-the-ass twin.”
“I’m not talking about that. You know what I’m talking about.” Angel didn’t want to play games. He wanted to get this over with. “You and Cordy. My bed. Ring a bell?”
“Well, I rang hers a few times,” Angelus smirked at him. Upon seeing the dark look on Angel’s face, he added only slightly less jokingly, “We were touring and didn’t quite make it to the third floor. I can’t tell you enough how hot that g—”
Holding up his hands to fend off the rest of the sentence, Angel growled, “I don’t want the details.”
“I wasn’t going to give you any,” Angelus gave him a look that suggested he was nuts for not wanting them. “I’m just saying that Cor is hot.”
Tell me something I don’t already know. Angel didn’t need the added fuel for his already sidetracked mind. Looked like his brother— hah— just needed to get in the last word.
“Keep the descriptors to yourself as well. If Cordelia is so precious to you, don’t talk about her like she’s a commodity.” Angel narrowed his gaze upon his double. “In the future, stay out of my rooms. All of them.”
Silence fell between them as Angelus reigned in his urge to thrash Angel for daring to order him around. Then he wondered why the hell he was trying to hold back. Why not just forget about this stupid talk and throw down? Pushing back his chair, Angelus rose to his feet, turning to meet the souled vampire face to face.
“By rights, half of this place is mine,” Angelus moved closer. “What I do in it is none of your damn business.”
Gazes locked, Angel reminded coldly, “When your property rights spread Cordelia’s scent all over my bed, I’d say you were making it my business.”
“Leave Cordelia out of it.”
Angel moved automatically moved closer, his hands balling into fists at his side. “Think about it. Would you want Buffy and me borrowing your bed?”
With a shrug, Angelus honestly didn’t care. It wasn’t like he wanted the Slayer. Besides, he was used to Buffy’s scent around the mansion. “You’ve already wrecked the furniture in your room. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were working your way up to mine.”
His sarcastic tone led Angel to believe that it didn’t matter what he said to Angelus, the vamp was going to do whatever he pleased. “I’ve given you this chance with Cordelia, so don’t push me too far. You know I can keep her out of the mansion if I decide to do so and you’re tied here for as long as I am.”
Rage built behind the already dark glare as Angelus listened to the threat. The fact was that Angel wasn’t exaggerating. He had the power to do what he said, but if it happened, there would be hell to pay. “Cor warned me you were pissed.”
“She told you about our little chat?” Not totally unexpected, Angel had never known Cordy to keep quiet when prudence would have been a better option. Then again, prudence wasn’t a word normally associated with the brunette.
Angelus poked a finger into Angel’s chest, which the souled vampire took standing like a wall of stone. His counterpart growled dangerously. “I don’t want Cordelia upset. If you have a problem come straight to me.”
The jury was still out on that idea, but Angel decided that Cordelia Chase might still be a candidate for that spanking he had envisioned earlier. “Was using my bedroom your idea or Cordy’s?”
Eyes glinting, Angelus reminded him, “I already told you that we were taking a tour of the mansion.”
Angel believed it. His own senses told him that they had visited nearly every room in the house. Remembering what Cordy had revealed, “Everywhere except the laundry room.”
Then Angelus added, “I didn’t take her to the basement training room, either. We were just focused on getting upstairs at that point. Not sure why she’d be interested in your stuff, but she was just curious. I couldn’t stop her.”
“Wouldn’t stop her,” Angel corrected him, his anger now diffusing with the realization that neither one of them had planned their bedroom antics just to drive him crazy.
Countering quickly, Angelus rolled his eyes in a rather Cordelian response. “Have you ever tried to change her mind once she gets something in her head?”
“Point taken. Next time keep her out of my space.” Angel bypassed Angelus to walk to the cabinet and pull down his favorite mug.
His soulless twin looked disappointed. “So we’re not going to fight?”
“I’ve already worked out my anger, Angelus. Just remember what I’ve told you.”
“Cordelia is going to be here a lot, so you might as well get used to it.”
“I know,” Angel understood that his double wouldn’t want to be apart from Cordelia any more than necessary. “If you want Cordy here, keep her out of my bed. Then there won’t be a reason to fight.”
Angelus was far from the anger-free zone of the mansion. He didn’t take readily to the threats Angel kept dishing up. If his double didn’t watch it, Angelus was going to feed those threats right back to him. “Yeah, Bro. I’ll keep her out of your bed. Just remember that even when she was there…Cordelia was with me.”
His hold on the ceramic mug was so tight Angel heard it crack under the strain. Just before the breaking point, he set it down on the counter. “Cordy is my friend.”
“If you can keep it, Angel, you can have her friendship, but the rest is all mine.”
“I’m worried about Cordelia,” Buffy’s statement had the Scooby Gang gaping open-mouthed at their Slayer. Expressions of concern in regards to Cordelia Chase were rare occurrences.
After a quick glance at Oz, Xander and Giles who were all gathered around their research table in the library, Willow was the first to ask, “Worried about what?”
It was Xander who reluctantly hopped in with, “Angelus, right?”
Buffy looked at him with surprise. “How’d you know?”
Xander remembered that he wasn’t supposed to be talking about it. Shoving both hands in his pants pockets, he slumped against the table and opted for his usual brand of humor, “Psychic Friends Network.”
“We don’t need to hear about your fascination with 900 numbers,” Giles commented drolly, trying to stay focused on his Slayer’s concerns.
The way Xander clamped up and didn’t respond to Giles was enough to make Buffy a little suspicious, but she went on to confirm his theory. “Yeah, this is about Angelus and Cordelia. They’re together.”
Giles listened to the words with trepidation. Conveniently negating his first reaction, he decided that their togetherness could only mean one thing. “So Cordelia is giving Angelus a lift?” At least that was the box he was going to put it in.
“Not the way you mean, Giles,” a huff of disbelief sounded as Buffy shook her head. Her Watcher wasn’t normally that clueless. “Cordelia is sleeping with him. Y’know, I think someone your age would know about s-e-x.”
Mumbling under his breath, Xander lectured himself about not telling Giles what he had seen despite Cordelia’s wishes. He never thought things would get this far. This had obviously gone beyond simple attraction and flirtation as he had imagined. He figured Angelus wouldn’t stand a chance with Cordelia even if he was serious about pursuing her.
Angelus was a vampire and Cordelia had always had a healthy fear of them…even Angel to a certain extent. It hadn’t occurred to Xander to be concerned about what Cordelia might do. Their own stint as boyfriend/girlfriend never reached the bedroom stage; Cor had told him that she wanted to be certain of their feelings for each other before things got serious. They’d broken it off badly, but Xander was fortunate to keep her friendship. If Cordelia was really doing it with Angelus, then it was a sign her feelings were already deeply involved.
As for Angelus, Xander doubted he was capable of feelings. At least none that didn’t involve certain deadly sins.
Willow couldn’t manage speech. Only a single utterance left her throat. “Eep!”
She looked over at Oz for support. The werewolf put his arm around her shoulder, but said nothing to indicate surprise or the lack of it. Typically stoic, Oz simply waited for more information to be presented. He appeared the least shocked when the sound of Cordelia’s voice immediately followed the squeaking hinge on the library door.
“Nice going, Motormouth,” the sardonic tone made it obvious she overheard Buffy’s announcement to the group. Making eye contact, Cordelia strolled almost casually, staring her down with a look that would have shriveled any other teenager’s will to respond with more than a plea for forgiveness. “I see that keeping quiet is way outta your league.”
After swallowing down her initial shock, Buffy pointed out, “Hello, but I don’t recall any vows of silence, not even a pinky swear.”
Coming to a stop in front of the group, Cordelia tossed her pom-poms down on the floor, feeling like she was gearing up for a fight. Defending her decision to be with Angelus was not something she planned to do without him by her side, but she was not about to let Buffy Summers trounce all over it. Though it wasn’t the Slayer’s opinion that mattered even if she did influence the rest of them.
Giles cut in, seeking confirmation of this disturbing news. “Is this true, Cordelia? Was this just a one-time indiscretion, I hope, or are you actually in a r-r-relationship with Angelus?”
The disbelief and horror in Rupert Giles’ voice just about set Cordelia off. She clung to her cool by a thin thread. They stared at her like she’d grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead. From their perspective, dating Angelus was obviously just as bad.
Defiantly and with a hint of pride, Cordelia said, “Yes, I am.”
Erupting into a tirade, Giles charged up to the cheerleader demanding to know if she had suddenly lost all common sense. “Are you bloody insane? This is Angelus we’re talking about. Evil Angelus.”
Cordelia’s gaze darted to Buffy who wore a smirk across her face. It was definitely an I-Told-You-So expression that only riled Cordelia into commenting, “Giles, are you a Watcher or a parrot? Your Slayer said the same thing.”
Buffy crossed her arms and stood by her decision to tell the others, pointing out that she had not slurred Angelus’ name without cause. “For good reason.”
“Angelus is still dangerous,” Willow’s pale face was a mask of concern. “He’s a killer.”
“He’s changed,” Cordelia felt there was an apparent difference in the vampire that should be obvious to all of them.
Giles agreed with Willow. With a hand on Cordelia’s shoulder gripping a little tighter than intended, his clipped voice reminded, “He murdered Jenny in cold blood.”
“That was before,” Cordelia stressed. “Angelus is different now.”
“He’s a vampire. Angelus is too evil by nature to change so quickly.” Giles shook his head in disbelief. “A leopard doesn’t change its spots. More likely Angelus is playing this for all he can get out of it…including you.”
Outraged by that suggestion, Cordelia fired back, “Look, I don’t think you’re qualified to lecture anyone about changing spots…Ripper.”
Scalded by the comparison, Giles dropped his hand from her shoulder. There was a difference, he wanted to argue, but Cordelia had certainly made her point. Turning abruptly, he whipped off his glasses to slowly circle the lenses with a handkerchief.
Xander let out a guilty moan. “I knew I should’ve said something.”
“You knew,” Buffy gaped at her friend who quickly backpedaled away from his words.
The picture of guilt, Xander babbled away, “Uh…not exactly knew, as in knowing that they were doing it, I only suspected they were thinking about it, or that Angelus was thinking about it, cos that’s what I… well, geez, Buff, it’s Cordelia.”
So he still thought she was a hottie. Cordy doubted that was going to get him out of hot water when it came to his little slay-pal. Predictably, Buffy looked more irritable.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Buffy demanded as she approached Xander who was cringing at the confrontation.
Even Willow had to add her two cents worth, “Yeah, what’s that mean?” She gave Oz a questioning look, but her boyfriend wisely answered with a silent shrug.
“Nothing,” squeaked Xander, peeking over the blonde’s head toward Cordy who was building up to a slow boil. “It’s just that Cor…it’s just that Angelus…okay, so maybe I might have seen them plastered together against the lockers.”
Grumbling something indistinctly, Buffy then demanded to know how Xander could keep such news to himself. “You said nothing to me…zip…nada.”
“I really didn’t think we had to worry,” Xander confessed. “Angelus is still Angelus, Fang Guy, Dead Boy, the Soulless Wonder. I thought Cor would come to her senses. Guess I should have remembered who I was talking about.”
Cordelia listened to them talking about her life and her decisions, and still referring to Angelus as if he was a monster. Not that her love-life was any of their business, but since they were determined to make it that way, she wasn’t about to let them get away with it.
“What’s it like being so two-faced, Xander?” Coming to a halt directly in front of him, she let her gaze slide over to the Slayer. “Does it let you kiss Buffy and her ass at the same time?”
A familiar peep sounded and Cordelia turned her head to see Willow slapping a hand over her own mouth to cover the sound. Narrowing her gaze, Cordelia stalked slowly around the room, passing each one of them. “Where the heck have you guys been for the past month and a half? Since Angelus has been here, none of you have any cause to doubt him.”
Stubborn silence answered her.
“It’s true that the Fates have forced him to fight the Good Fight,” Cordelia admitted, “but that deal is all the more reason you should trust him.”
A snort sounded from the group causing her to eye Xander and Buffy with suspicion. “Hello, people! What’s with the instant amnesia? Guess you’ve forgotten how many times he’s helped us.”
Xander had to say, “Angelus gets off on a good brawl. If the only way he can get one is to fight along side Buffy, then that’s what he’s doing.”
“And how many times has he dragged your ass out of the frying pan, Xander Lavelle Harris?”
Several, thought Xander rather reluctantly. Hearing Cordelia use his full name that way suggested that if he wanted his ass to remain intact he better back off. There was a look of brilliant defiance in Cordelia’s hazel eyes and her flushed skin glowed with the color of her fury, but Xander had to admit that Cordelia had always looked beautiful when it came to defending the guy she loved.
He missed that.
Crap! Now he was going to have to agree with Cordelia about Angelus. He didn’t want to agree. The vamp was still not someone he wanted anywhere near Cordelia Chase, former girlfriend or not. “The guy knows his way around a demon brawl. There isn’t much that he can’t do in a fight, but Angelus is still a vampire.”
“I have eyes,” she countered with a huff. “I’m not going into this blind. Yeah, I know that he was more than a typical Bad Boy in the past, but that’s exactly how we need to look at it: In. The. Past.”
Xander doubted it. “Angelus would be right back to his old tricks if he didn’t have the leash the Fates placed on him.”
“So not true!” Cordelia snapped back. “You don’t know that.”
Willow interjected with her overly logical tone, “His historical pattern suggests that he would. Angelus nearly killed you, Cordelia. He’d do the same again if he had the chance.”
“Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Cordelia waggled her head along with her response. “What Angelus might have done once upon a time doesn’t matter. That has nothing to do with what we have right now. Despite everything he’s done to help, you all treat Angelus like a pair of Xander’s dirty socks and I’m tired of it. The only stinky thing around here is you guys nosing into my love life.”
Giles replaced his glasses on the bridge of his nose and turned back to Cordelia with a much softer tone. “Vampires don’t love. They are incapable of that sentiment. They are highly possessive creatures whose behaviors remain tied to their bloodlust and their…sexual proclivities.”
“Hah!” Cordelia pounced on his words. “I supposed you’d say the same thing about Angel.”
Even Buffy had to protest her Watcher’s response. “Giles!”
“Angel may be a lone exception,” came his reluctant admittance. “He has a soul. Angelus does not.”
Placing her hands on her hips, Cordelia took that a step further. “I see. Love takes a soul, does it? What about all those soul-possessing humans out there who wouldn’t know love it if fell out of the sky and dropped on their heads?”
“That is not the point.” The glasses were back off and now Giles was pinching the bridge of his nose to stave off a rapidly growing headache.
“No, the point is that you people suck!” Cordelia was more hurt by Giles’ inability to understand than any of the others put together. At least he had the excuse of not spending any free time with Angelus, unlike the others. “You’re all willing and ready to let Angelus defend your life in a fight, but take a chance on letting him be a real person and you run like scared rabbits.”
Oz quietly commented, “We played pool once.”
“Yeah,” Cordelia nodded, but wasn’t about to let him off the hook either, “but did you ask him or was it his idea?”
Cordy knew that she was overtired, that being up all night with Angelus and all day at the game had stretched her temper rather thin, but it seemed like they had their heads stuck where the sun didn’t shine. “Lately, you’ve let him join in. You laugh at his jokes. You’ve been…friendly and I don’t want him to find out you’ve been faking it.”
Guilt started to show in their eyes as Cordelia looked at Willow, Oz and Xander. Buffy and Giles, on the other hand, remained stalwart in their obstinate expressions. After all, they hadn’t been friendly to begin with, fake or otherwise, so had nothing to feel guilty about, apparently. “Being with Angelus is my business. Get used to it. Learn to live with it. Because Angelus is not going away and neither are my feelings for him.”
Wigged out by the idea, Buffy blurted, “You can’t be in love with Angelus.“
Cordelia whipped around to face the Slayer. “Since when did you crawl into my head, Buffy Summers? Were you slimed by another mind-reading demon?”
“Then don’t tell me how I feel.”
Cordelia watched as Buffy straightened up to her peanut height and stuck her nose in the air as she tried to hand out unwanted advice. “I have experience being in love with a vampire. Angelus is a master of mental as well as physical torture. He may be leading you on. Trying to get back at me through my friends.”
“All roads lead back to Buffyville? Angelus’ feelings for me have zilch to do with you.” She couldn’t believe the other teen was trying to make out that this had anything to do with something personal.
“Maybe,” Buffy admitted reluctantly, “but I know vampires. I know Angelus.”
Cordelia decided that Buffy didn’t have a clue. “You might know vampires, but you obviously don’t know my vampire. Angelus is romantic, sexy and sweet. He writes me poetry, gives me flowers and candy, and makes my toes curl just by talking to me.”
The loud snort Buffy emitted told Cordelia her opinion even before the blonde opened her mouth to speak. “Poetic, romantic and sweet? Hah! Angel isn’t even like that— except the sexy part.”
Shrugging slowly, Cordelia smirked as she shrugged one shoulder, “Then maybe you don’t know your own vampire as well as you think you do.”
Buffy’s eyes opened wide at the inference. “You know nothing about what Angel and I are like when we’re alone.”
“More than you realize,” Cordelia returned smoothly as she recalled them sneaking away together after successful battles. Not to mention the chandelier shaking back in the dining room of the mansion.
“Flowers and candy— who needs that!” Buffy paused long enough to make Cordelia realize the other girl was jealous. “I’ve got Angel. That’s plenty romance for me.”
“You’re looking a putrid shade of green. You wouldn’t know real romance and passion if it bit you on the ass,” Cordelia was on a roll and couldn’t seem to stop herself. “All you have with Angel is a way to let your tension out after a fight.”
All around, the Scoobies and Giles were standing agape, now more shocked than they were when Buffy first told them about Cordelia and Angelus. Their legitimate concerns over Cordelia’s safety had suddenly turned into a slanging match over the two vampires.
“Cordelia! That is quite enough.” Giles clapped his hands together. “If this is Angelus’ influence, then it proves my point.”
“Just talking truth.”
Buffy stood cross-armed and silent after Cordelia threw those words in her face. It was true that her boyfriend was not your normal guy. Maybe there were no flowers or candy, but Buffy really didn’t care about those kind of things. Only recently, it seemed that her relationship with Angel was either about avoiding sex or having it.
Where was the romance? Buffy wondered about that for a few seconds. Then recalled the fact that Cordelia suggested she was jealous— of Angelus. Not! Somehow, she’d prove it to Cordelia that she did too know about romance and passion. There was no way Queen C was going to sound off in front of their friends and get away with it.
Just outside the library doors, both Angelus and Angel decided it was time to make their presence known. They had arrived not long after Cordelia entered the library and started to defend Angelus from the accusations of her friends. At first, Angelus wanted to storm into the room and demand to know why the hell it was anyone’s business if Cordelia was his, but Angel stopped him.
Suggesting that they listen in, Angel wanted to hear more and felt it important that Angelus know where— to his mind— the legitimate concerns of the Scooby Gang were settled.
Angelus was actually feeling proud of the fact that Cordelia would declare her feelings to her friends and defend him so vehemently. He didn’t care what the others thought about him as long as Cordelia wasn’t going to remain upset by their lack of understanding. He silently cheered on his girlfriend as she responded to their every dig.
Reacting quite differently, Angel felt his fury well from deep within. Things were fine when Cordy was just answering her friends’ concerns about her affair with Angelus, but the cheerleader had gone too damn far when she brought up his relationship to Buffy. First she’d nosed her way into his bedroom and was now negatively comparing him to Angelus.
Both vampires reached for the doors at the same time and yanked them open, startling the group gathered within the library. Buffy’s head turned sensing waves of dark vampiric energy flowing from one of the vamps. Angelus, obviously. With a smirk, Buffy decided that she would show Cordelia that the passion she shared with Angel did not only come after a demon brawl.
She stalked up to the vampire who wasn’t causing her Slayer senses to tingle and thrust herself into his arms. His hands automatically came around her waist and Buffy wrapped her arms around his shoulders pulling his head down into an energetic and enthusiastic kiss. It lasted only seconds as Buffy felt herself hurled to the floor.
“What the hell was that?” Angelus demanded as he towered over her with a look of pure disgust on his face. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, the vampire queried with a harsh tone, “Can’t you tell us apart, Slayer?”
“Omigod!” Buffy’s voice was barely a whisper as she turned her gaze from the angry vampire she had kissed over to the other one. “Angel?”
This was Cordelia’s fault, Angel decided. Her words had forced Buffy into acting out some silly show of proof. He glanced down at the pink cheeks of his lover and felt her embarrassment. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Angel was asking himself why it was Buffy couldn’t tell them apart when Cordelia found it so easy.
Before he could offer Buffy his hand to help her to her feet, the blonde scrambled to a standing position. There were tears glistening in her eyes as she met Angel’s gaze. “I-I need to be alone.”
When Buffy darted out the door, Angel stalked over to Cordelia, who stood shocked at the Slayer’s major faux pax. They were inches apart as Angel seared her with a look that left her trembling in its wake. Cordy realized he was more furious now than about his bed. Realizing that the vampire must have overheard what she said to Buffy, she felt trapped by his captivating stare.
Feeling the sudden need to apologize, Cordelia opened her mouth to speak. Only Angelus came up and twirled her into his arms, giving her a smile that made her heart leap by looking at it. “You are amazing, Cordelia Chase. There is something too damn sexy about a lady defending her dark knight.”
Forgetting all about the gasping audience, Cordelia met his mouth with her own in a kiss that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they had passion. Angelus’ lips captured hers in a soft, but urgent caress. Moaning against his mouth, Cordelia opened up to the cool dart of his tongue against her warmth. A countering heat flamed up inside her as Cordelia wound her fingers into his hair and gave back to the kiss just as much energy and need, their mouths meshing together and growing urgent.
“Oh dear.” Giles almost felt dizzy.
“I may have to call out the fire department,” muttered Xander unable to tear his eyes away from the scene.
“Wow!” Willow glanced over at Oz with a tiny smile lifting the corners of her mouth.
Clearing his throat, Giles finally caught Angelus’ attention. “We came here for a meeting, not to argue with each other and dilly-dally around.”
Sighing as their lips parted, Cordelia murmured to her vampire, “You can dilly with my dally anytime for a kiss like that.”
Angelus let out a laugh as he released her only to react with an instinctive growl as he saw Angel’s hand curl around Cordelia’s wrist with inhuman speed. Not caring that he had just crossed the no-touching line, Angel pulled Cordelia toward him so that she had to grab his other arm just to keep her balance. “Ouch! Watch the vamp-strength.”
Glaring angrily at his double, Angelus issued a warning, “You’d better be damned careful about what you’re doing.”
Giving the soulless vamp a look that would rival his inner darkness, Angel wasn’t going to respond to threats just now. Already angry, the sight of Angelus and Cordy kissing caused a swift flare of jealousy. The fact that he recognized it as such was enough to floor him. He would have to get used to the sight of those two kissing. If that was all he was going to be subjected to at the mansion, Angel figured he’d be lucky.
“You’re coming with me,” Angel informed Cordelia determinedly, glaring down at her with dark pools that held her rapt attention and caused her to quake in sudden fear. This was not a request, she realized breathlessly. Then he lifted that gaze back to Angelus and told him simply, “You too.”
“Try and stop me!” Angelus was about two seconds away from forcing his twin to release Cordelia when Angel started moving to the door taking her with him.
Xander started to follow along, but stopped abruptly at the sound of the growl emanating from Angel’s throat. Without turning around, Angel ordered, “The rest of you stay here.”
“Good idea. It’s comfy here in the library,” Xander rubbed a hand along the surface of one chair. “And look— research! Just what I wanted to do tonight.”
“I don’t suppose anyone brought jelly donuts,” Giles muttered as he took a seat at the table. He had no choice but to resign himself to this situation.
Oz opened the box and offered him the donuts.
Following Buffy’s scent, Angel tracked her to the school lounge. They found the Slayer with her knees curled up to her chest and streaks of drying tears on her cheeks. Seeing her that way made Angel react more forcefully than intended. Swinging Cordelia into a wide arc, Angel flung her onto the couch next to Buffy so that she literally bounced against the cushions. Her yelp of surprise elicited another sound of discontent from Angelus.
Angel glared down at the two young women. “What the hell just happened back there?”
Rubbing her sore wrist, Cordelia fired back, “You went psycho and grabbed me.”
“Before that,” Angel gritted his teeth exasperatedly, “with you and Buffy.”
Cordelia glanced toward Buffy who had her head turned in the other direction refusing to look at her. The action sparked irritation causing Cordelia to forget about the fact that she shouldn’t have to explain herself. “Buffy told everyone about Angelus and me.”
“That’s a bad thing?” Angelus frowned a bit wondering if she had planned to keep their relationship a secret.
“No! I wanted to do it when you were with me. The right way,” Cordelia clarified. “Not blurt it out like she did.”
Angelus nodded. His grin returned as he told her, “I heard what you told them.”
The intimate look they shared made Angel’s stomach clench into knots. Ticked off at himself and Cordy, he declared, “So did I.”
Cordelia decided that she wasn’t going to feel guilty. She’d attempted to apologize, but why should she feel sorry because she told Buffy the truth? “I meant what I said, Angel.”
Piping up, the Slayer turned her steely gaze upon the brunette. “Angel and I are none of your business, Cor. What you said was harsh. You don’t know what goes on between us.”
“I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” Cordelia tried to get off the couch only to sink back into the cushions as Angel stepped up to block her move.
Their knees brushed together as the vampire demanded information. “Meaning what?”
Cordy smirked defiantly as she held up her hand like a stop sign. “Sorry, but I don’t do details.”
Growling low, Angel spoke her name as a warning, “Cordy.”
“Just following orders.” Completely unintimidated by his vampiric growl, Cordelia told him, “No details of anyone’s sex life. Not my business, remember?”
Buffy snapped, “You should have thought of that before.”
“So should you.” Cordelia returned just as quickly.
Angelus had to agree. “Slayer, you should keep your nose out of my affairs.”
“Don’t threaten Buffy,” Angel gave his double a dark stare.
“You’re one to talk,” Angelus countered furiously. “Keep your hands off Cordelia. I’ll be seriously pissed if you’ve marked her flesh with a bruise.”
Agreeing, Cordelia rubbed her wrist again, “So will I.”
“Did I hurt you?” Angel’s angry mask instantly fell away leaving only a concerned look.
“Yes, dumbass! That is what ‘ouch’ normally implies.”
Reaching out for her hand, Angel circled his thumb over the soft skin on her inner wrist. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”
Buffy, who had been watching the apologetic move, suddenly reeled at the way Angel’s voice went all soft with concern when he spoke to Cordelia.
Sweetheart! What the heck was that? Angel never even called her sweetheart and she was his girlfriend. Here she was embarrassed, tear-stained and Cordelia-battered and it seemed all Angel could do was fondle the cheerleader’s bruised wrist.
The Slayer suddenly wondered if Cordelia wasn’t right. Maybe she didn’t know Angel as well as she thought she did.
“S’okay,” Cordelia shrugged as she felt the shiver run from her wrist all the way down her spine.
Angel released her wrist telling himself that he needed to fight these impulses that compelled him to touch her. Especially now that he had no right to do so. Seeing Buffy’s confused and hurt expression, he moved over to tuck a finger under her chin. “You okay? I know you wanted to be alone, but the four of us have a few things to hash out.”
“M’okay,” she gave him a convincing look despite the drying tears.
“Good,” Angel stepped away in order to bring all three of them into his view. “The fact is that we’re going to be existing together in a close sphere. The insults and injuries need to stop here. What happened tonight needs to be put behind us.”
Angelus wanted to protest that he wasn’t done with what happened tonight, not after the other vamp had his hands on Cordelia. Seeing reason behind Angel’s words, he chose to keep silent. Facing Buffy, he told her, “I know you’re worried about my past. That I’ll do something to hurt Cordelia.”
“You won’t!” Cordy interjected.
The vampire flashed a grin before turning back to the Slayer who regarded him with the intense eyes of a hunter. “The Moirae fixed it so I can’t kill humans. Even if I wanted to turn Cordelia, I couldn’t do it.”
Buffy suggested he’d try underhanded tactics, “You could get someone else to do it.”
“Never!” Angelus denied with a roar causing both Buffy and Cordelia to jerk in surprise.
Angel calmly explained, “That would place Cordy under the power of the one who made her. Buffy, I can guarantee that Angelus would never do that.”
“Well that’s a relief,” Cordelia joked with mock concern. “I would hate to have to answer to Spike.”
Even Buffy found herself giggling at the idea. “Maybe he would have asked Drusilla.”
“Leave them out of this,” Angelus narrowed his gaze at the Slayer. “Suffice it to say that I have no intentions of hurting Cordelia in any way.”
“Doesn’t mean I won’t be watching,” Buffy warned the vampire.
Glowering, Angelus laughed darkly, “Watch all you like, Slayer. You might learn a thing or two.”
“No watching! Eew!” Cordy rolled her eyes. “I hope we won’t be seeing that much of each other.”
Buffy grumbled, “You already know what Angel looks like, so what does it matter?”
“Buffy!” Cordelia flushed a bright shade of red, not daring to look in the direction of the souled vampire. “Remember that thing I told you about keeping quiet?”
Clamping her mouth shut, Buffy realized that Cordelia was probably right about that one. Then she locked gazes with the brunette and once again they were giggling together over the idea of their vampire twins.
“What’s so funny?” Angel asked them.
Angelus frowned at the sound of their laughter. It sounded almost conspiratorial.
“Nothing!” Buffy and Cordelia chimed simultaneously.
“Highly doubtful,” Angel shared a knowing look with his double, “but I’m not going to question it further. I’m glad you two are in agreement over something— whatever it is.”
As Cordelia’s laughter finally faded, she asked Angel, “Can I get up now?”
The vampire realized he was still blocking her in. Holding out a hand, he helped Cordelia to her feet and then released her in the direction of Angelus who quickly moved to put an arm around her shoulder. Taking a look at her wrist, Angelus kissed her pulse point and held her wrist against his cheek for an instant.
Buffy uncurled herself from the couch and rose to her feet to stand next to Angel. She had to admit to herself that the way Angelus held Cordelia was certainly tender. Almost loving in his own possessive vampire way. The idea of those two simply gave her the wiggins and her entire body seemed to stir in unrest, protesting the fact that Angelus had Cordelia in his arms.
Then Angel’s voice yanked her out of her private musings. “Between the four of us, we need to come to an understanding. All of the suspicion and griping needs to stop here. I have to trust that Angelus will keep Cordy safe as he’s promised.”
“I will,” vowed Angelus with firm resolve. How many times did he have to say it before they believed him?
Angel continued on despite the interruption, “And that Cordy will come to me should he ever break that promise.”
“Won’t,” the vamp stressed.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Angel, I already told you not to worry about that.”
“Pfft! Okay, I will.” The souled vampire who regarded her with a serious gleam in those dark eyes. His gaze didn’t stray until she repeated her promise with a more serious tone. “I’ll come to you.”
Buffy turned to Angel, “So they promise to behave. Can we go back to the library now?”
“Why not?” Buffy heard the tone in his voice that suggested he was going to extract some kind of pledge from her as well.
Angel lifted a hand to her face and his voice gentled as he said, “I know that you were concerned for Cordy when you told your friends about Angelus. You cared enough to share your fears with them.”
Shifting in Angelus’ arms, Cordelia felt a little guilty for her harsh response earlier. Angel’s words made her realize that Buffy wasn’t just being a tattletale busybody. She had actually been trying to be her friend and letting the others know she had reason to be worried. Still, that didn’t give her the right to let everyone cut down Angelus after he’d been laying it on the line for them.
Somehow, Buffy sensed that Angel wasn’t finished. She darted a glance toward Cordelia, but quickly turned her gaze back to Angel who proceeded to tell her, “From this moment, Buffy, no more sharing family secrets until the rest of us give the go ahead. That goes for all of us. This is going to be difficult enough without having to deal with the fallout of causing each other pain and anguish.”
Family secrets? Surely that was a strange way to put it. Buffy glanced over at Cordelia and Angelus to gauge their reactions. Neither one seemed overly surprised by the phrase.
Buffy couldn’t ignore the strange twinge that had her balking at the idea. “Sorry I jumped the gun, Cor. Next time you start an affair with a potentially deadly vampire, I’ll talk it over with him before I tell my Watcher.”
“You’d stake Angelus if you could,” Cordelia’s eyes flared hotly.
“You bet I would!” The Slayer snapped back instantly without even thinking about it.
Angelus tucked Cordelia behind him and stood before the Slayer. “You wanna have a go at me, Buffy? Anytime, anywhere.”
“No!” Cordelia tugged at his shirtsleeve.
“There’ll be no fighting,” Angel stepped up to them. “You both know why. Maybe you two don’t like each other, but dammit, you’ll learn a little toleration.”
“Toleration?” Buffy would rather tolerate a slime demon living in her bathroom than put up with Angelus. “I have no choice, do I? He’s part of the soul binding deal with the Fates, which I remind you was not my choice either.”
“Buffy…,” Angel thought they had dropped that argument weeks ago.
“Angelus not only has your support about Cordelia, but you’re setting all this up to include me in your version of some happy little vampire family!“
Cordy muttered, “Family Feud is more like it.”
Continuing her rant, Buffy commented, “The next thing I know you’ll be calling Angelus your brother and we’ll be double dating.”
A burst of laughter erupted from Cordelia’s throat. Buffy ranting was just too funny to ignore. “Hey! I like that idea. We should talk.”
“No way!” Buffy returned with a look of horror.
“What do you think, Bro?” Angelus asked his double, amusement etching his features.
Drolly, Angel answered, “I think I have a burning desire to do demon research.”
Without another word, Buffy zipped out of the school lounge and headed in the direction of the library leaving the others to follow.
“Angelus!” A throaty cry sounded from Cordelia as the vampire nibbled at a sensitive spot along her neck.
Alone downstairs, Angelus had pulled her across his lap on one of the kitchen chairs so that she straddled him. Her long sun-kissed legs were bare and exposed as her silk robe flowed behind her. “Mmm. Move your hips a little, baby. You feel so good on me.”
Cordelia moaned at the sensation of his body beneath her. All she could do was comply with his request, her body moving rhythmically against him despite the barrier between them. She held onto his shoulders as Angelus kissed his way down to the hollow of her throat.
“Oh, yessss,” she hissed in delight as Angelus’ large hands curved around from her back to cup her silk-covered breasts.
“Ahem!” The sound of a clearing throat from the doorway caused Cordelia to leap off of Angelus’ lap. With her loose hair flying in all directions, she frantically straightened her robe. Turning her attention to Angel, she noted he looked like he was trying not to laugh at her efforts.
“Good morning,” she plastered an overly bright smile on her face. “Or is it already afternoon? Hello, whatever time it is.”
“Early afternoon,” Angel clarified as he strolled into the kitchen. He was wearing sweats and a white tank that showed off his strong arms.
Conversationally, she asked, “You’ve been working out?”
The vampire nodded. “Down in the basement training room.”
“You have a training room?” Cordy was surprised. “It wasn’t on the tour.”
Angelus grabbed for the front page of the Sunday paper and opened it up. From behind it, he explained, “Basement was in the wrong direction.”
“I guess it was,” Cordelia’s mouth curled into a smile as she thought of the details of their house tour. Then she remembered what she was planning to do before Angelus distracted her with kisses and caresses. “Sit down, Angel. I hope you’re hungry.”
Pausing as he pulled out the kitchen chair directly across from Angelus, he asked warily, “Why do you ask?”
“Cordelia is experimenting today,” warned Angelus.
“With her own food?”
“No,” Cordelia clarified cheerfully. “With yours.”
Angel looked scared. “It’s pig’s blood, Cordy, not a base for soup. You shouldn’t mess with it.”
“I want to. It’s gross. I mean— eew!— how can you drink this stuff?” Cordelia made a face that left Angel laughing. “Angelus was saying how it didn’t taste like the real thing, so I thought I’d try to spice it up a bit.”
Cordelia pulled down two mugs, grabbed a bag of blood from the fridge and proceeded to spin the spice rack around until her eye caught on something that looked good. “Yum!”
Angelus dropped the newspaper on the table and leaned forward conspiratorially. “If we both run at the same time maybe there’s a chance one of us will escape.”
“The sun’s still shining.” Angel gestured toward the light peeking through the kitchen windows. “Cordy would track us down, trust me.”
“I can hear you!” Cordelia pressed the buttons on the microwave and then turned around to face the vampires.
Crossing her arms on the kitchen island, she leaned toward them as they gazed back at her with their identical faces. It brought a wide smile to her face as she thought, I could get used to seeing double everyday.
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