Chapter 19: Misunderstandings
“I can’t believe you were going to show your tattoo to that little weasel,” Angelus paced behind her as Cordelia brushed her hair at the vanity in their bedroom.
“Xander’s not a weasel,” Cordelia defended her friend. “What’s so wrong about showing off my tattoo?”
“It’s private,” Angelus snarled with leonine tones. “I don’t care if you think the mark is fabulous. That little— Xander has no business putting his hands on you. As your ex-lover, he’s lucky to be allowed in the house.”
“Ex-boyfriend.“ Cordelia stressed the difference. “I told you we didn’t get much past groping.”
“Yeah.” Cordy put the brush down on the vanity and swung around on the stool to watch him pace back and forth. She was wearing a short silk nightie and its matching blue robe and Cordelia found herself fiddling with the end of the unbelted tie. “So is it really Xander you’re mad about…or someone else?”
Angelus stopped pacing and whipped around to face her. “I’m not mad at you.”
He released a short growl. “Jealous of Wonder Boy, the Slayer’s sidekick? Not likely.”
“Then what is it that has you acting all Snarly Bear?”
“Is that one of your Care Bears?” Angelus barked.
Finally the vampire was getting around to talking about what was really bothering him— Angel. “So you’re pissed at your brother.”
“Don’t play coy, baby,” Angelus raked a hand through his short hair. “I have a right to be pissed. Angel opened his big mouth when he should have kept it shut.”
Raking her eyes over his half-dressed form, Cordelia allowed herself to enjoy the view while dealing with Angelus’ little tantrum. While Angel tended to get broody and hunker down as he had in the living room prior to the Scoobies’ arrival, Angelus got growly and paced like a caged tiger whenever things didn’t go his way.
Then Angelus asked her, “And how the hell does Angel know about your tattoo in the first place?”
Cordelia thought about teasing him and saying something along the lines of her being in the shower, but the vampire was a little too close to the edge to take it right now. The truth sounded like a safer option. “He saw it at the movie theater.”
Now that Angelus was stirred up, he was actually enjoying the anger. It had been a while since those emotions gripped him. “What was he doing staring at your ass?”
“Probably the fact that you had your hand down my skirt.”
“Oh.” That did explain it.
Cordelia walked over to stand in front of him, a smile curling her lips. Lightly scraping her fingernails down his bare chest, she settled them at the button of his leather pants. Then her other hand came up to join the other in unbuttoning it.
“Satistfied?” Cordelia asked distractedly as she contemplated whether she really wanted to have this discussion or to continue removing his pants.
“No,” Angelus was quick to say. “Blabber mouth obviously told you something. What did he say about the tattoo?”
Now it was Cordelia’s turn to be a little irritated. Dropping her hands to her hips, she told Angelus, “Nothing that you shouldn’t have already explained.”
“You said it.”
“Let’s go,” Angelus said while grabbing her hand and pulling her along behind him. Cordy didn’t bother to ask where as he led her down the stairs to the second level of the mansion.
“I’m not allowed in there,” Cordy reminded him that Angel’s rooms were off-limits to her baring a specific invitation.
“Fuck that!” Angelus snarled. “I deserve an explanation and you’re gonna be there to stop me from ripping his head off.”
“First I’m bait girl, now I’m a referee. Are there any safer jobs in this little vampire family?” Cordelia was joking, but she saw that Angelus maintained his pace toward Angel’s bedroom.
Before Angelus’ raised fist could pound on the door, it swung open. Angel stood on the other side of the threshold dressed only in his black boxers as if they had come right when he was getting ready for bed. Cordelia gaped at the sight of his hard body marveling at the fact that it was indeed identical to his twin’s. As far as she could tell considering the fact that she hadn’t inspected every inch of him.
Hello, Salty Goodness.
The thought kept her heart racing at a faster pace for a few seconds and Cordelia was a little relieved that Angelus had run down the stairs so quickly forcing her to keep up the pace. It seemed a bit extreme that her own hunk-o-vamp had to come down here to growl at Angel about something he should have told her about in the first place. Cordelia knew better than to try to stop him and was frankly curious to find out what her— uh, mate— was going to say to his brother.
Without casting a glance in her direction, Angel met his double’s angry gaze. “I told you not to bring Cordelia here.”
“We came to talk,” Angelus barely controlled a snarl, “not borrow the bed.”
Angel practically bared his teeth. “Good thing considering I plan to be in it shortly. We can talk downstairs now— or wait until morning.”
“Here and now.”
That was good enough for Cordelia. She wanted to get this little confrontation over with and move on. “I promise not to contaminate your room with my scent.”
Too late for that. Angel’s senses had been focused on Cordelia before they even arrived at the door. Now his eyes soaked up the sight of her baby blue robe as it lay open to reveal the lace-trimmed gown that skimmed the top of her supple sun-kissed thighs. Carrying his glance back in an upward direction, Angel noticed her breathing came slightly faster causing her nipples to rasp across the front of the thin silk gown.
Cursing his fascination with the way her body reacted to his attention, Angel pushed the door open wider to admit them into his bedroom. “Come in.”
Following Angelus into the center of the room, Cordelia extracted herself from his handhold. She plopped down on the bed to await the outcome of the aforementioned pissing contest— er, talk. Realizing both vampires were staring at her, Cordy nervously twirled the end of her belt.
“Go on,” she encouraged. “Don’t mind me. Have your little testosterone challenge. I’m just here as the referee.”
Angel’s jaw tightened at the sight of Cordelia on his bed. “Sorry that there’s no other place to sit.”
“Pfft!” Cordelia waved a careless hand in the air. “This is comfy.”
“Guess you’d know that.”
The forceful reminder brought back the memories of what happened between her and Angelus in this bed. Blushing at the thought of having sweet vanilla sex in the same bed that Angel slept in, Cordelia found herself dreamily nibbling at the tip of her finger. Then she remembered that this was also the bed of the wild chandelier sex with Buffy Summers and suddenly Cordelia wasn’t feeling so comfortable.
“Can we get this started?”
Angelus wondered what was going through her head. “This won’t take long, baby.”
“I can’t believe that you’re putting Cordy in the middle of this,” Angel commented somewhat angrily.
“In the middle?” Angelus raised a dark brow. You wish, Soul Boy. “Is there something you have to say that Cordelia shouldn’t hear?”
“Not from my perspective.”
His eyes narrowed at that answer, but Angelus responded, “Mine either.”
Cordelia let out a loud sigh. “Good, because I’m not leaving now that you’ve dragged me down here.”
“Referees don’t interfere in the game, sweetheart,” Angel pointed out motioning for her to stay out it by miming a closing zipper across his mouth.
Angelus barely waited for Angel to look in his direction. “You’re the one who needs to zip it. Where’s the family loyalty? Since when did Mr. Stoic Guy turn into Big Blabber Mouth Vamp?”
“You’re starting to sound like Cordelia,” a laugh sounded from Angel. Then he turned serious again. “Family loyalty? Don’t go there right now, Angelus. You won’t like my point of view.”
“Just tell me exactly what you told Cordelia,” Angelus stuck to the plan. Though he had a sneaking suspicion there was a good reason to kick his brother’s ass instead of talking to him.
Nodding his head in her direction, Angel asked, “Cordy can’t tell you?”
“Love to.” Cordelia piped up. Angelus’ little tirade had bypassed her own question and answer session. Or was it the distraction of unbuttoning his pants that did that?
That top button was still undone, she noticed, while Angelus slowly enunciated, “I want to hear it from you, Angel.”
“I just gave Cordelia a little history lesson,” Angel explained. “Told her the tattoo is a sign of the Order of Aurelius. That in effect, you made it your mark— your claim.”
Cordelia nodded in agreement. It was all true in a very basic cut-out-the-details kind of way. She summarized, “It’s a vampire thing.”
“It’s a vampire thing,” repeated Angel with a casual shrug as if his conversation with her hadn’t been serious.
“Too easy. I know you, Angel. Once you get started on your little historical mind trips, you don’t stop with semantics. You lay it all on the line.” The soulless vampire was getting impatient with his double.
Angel was close to telling the other vampire exactly what he’d told Cordelia, but felt that he needed to restrain that urge. In the back of his mind, the souled vampire knew it was necessary to acknowledge Angelus’ claim before he could ever override it. Not that he would, Angel assured himself. After all, despite their recent problems, he still loved Buffy, didn’t he?
“We had a conversation about the differences between being a lover and a mate,” he broached the subject vaguely. Then he added for his own satisfaction, “And some of the rules about Claiming within the vampire hierarchy.”
A long silence fell between them as Angelus accepted the news that Angel had told Cordelia everything he suspected about the tattoo. In his eyes, Cordy was his mate. He’d intended to tell her soon, but there was something he wanted to give her at the time and it wasn’t ready yet. Now Angel had left him to deal with the fallout of one brassed-off May Queen.
Except that Cordelia didn’t seem to be taking the news the way he expected. Soft laughter sounded from the direction of the bed and Angelus turned in time to see the mischievous light in her eyes disappear. They closed behind the lids as her head tilted back and her breathy laughs became hearty chuckles.
“You find it funny?” Angelus stared at Cordelia with disbelief. He had expected any reaction other than that. A gut punch couldn’t have had greater impact.
Cordelia grinned openly, thinking about Angel’s stupid jest that he was at the top of that vampire hierarchy. Calling Angel master was so not on her list of things to do. All she could manage through her chuckles was a resounding, “Duh!”
Angelus reacted instantly, believing that Cordelia was rejecting his claim upon her. He snarled loudly at them both and swept out the door. After reacting in shock at his sudden fury, Cordelia jumped off the bed running over to Angel for an explanation of whatever it was she missed.
“What’d I say?” Cordy gripped his bare bicep as she pleaded for an answer. “It was funny! In a stupid joke kind of way.”
If there was ever an opening to drive a wedge between Angelus and Cordelia, it had just showed itself. Angel stared down at the confused brunette, taking her by the shoulders. “Angelus doesn’t know about my— joke. He thinks you were laughing over the idea of being his mate.”
“What? No!” Cordelia gasped in horror. No wonder Angelus reacted the way he did.
Angel felt the hurt reach his own heart as he saw the depth of love shining from Cordelia’s eyes. She felt so much for Angelus that it was obvious despite the fact that Angel didn’t want to see it. Concentrating for a moment during the silence that followed, Angel determined the path his double was taking out of the house.
“He’s headed for the park,” Angel gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and stepped back. “Just go after him, Cordy… before I change my mind.”
She didn’t think to ask about what. Cordelia simply ran out the door and down the steps to the ground floor. Barefoot, in her short nightie and open robe, Cordelia followed Angelus into the night careless of her attire knowing only that she had to set him straight.
In his room, Angel flipped off the light and climbed into bed once again surrounded by the temptation of Cordelia’s lingering scent. This time he lay back, staring toward the ceiling overhead, brooding in the darkness.