15: The Truth is Out There
The Truth is Out There
Hugging him tight, Cordelia was reluctant to let go. “G’night, Doyle. See you tomorrow.” She closed and then locked the door behind him while wishing that he had stayed longer uncertain that she wanted to be alone with Angel.
A bizarre feeling tickled at her nerves leaving an odd jumpiness that felt foreign. Being with him usually made her feel safe. It did not help that she could sense him watching her from across the room.
This was not exactly how she had expected things to go. For one, Angel was actually here instead of Sunnydale. Did that mean the old zing wasn’t there with Buffy or that he was actually coming home to L.A. without strings attached? He certainly hadn’t thought about her or their pre-apocalypse makeout. Not if the lack of contact over the past week was a clue.
No phone calls.
Not even to say he wasn’t a big pile of dust.
The big jerk.
Annoyed at the thought of being ignored even if the world might have been in jeopardy, Cordelia turned around to glare his way. He was looking back just as she suspected, Mr Poker Face with the impenetrable stare. Was he just pissed off that Spike had trashed his apartment while searching for the Gem of Amarra? Maybe he blamed her because she had insisted on trying to confront their burglar, managing to get herself and Doyle kidnapped in the process.
That one was probably on his ‘To Do List’ of lectures.
Unless it was more personal and he realized she had slept in his room last night. Gulping at the idea, she tried to remember if she had put the borrowed shirt into the hamper or left it on the floor. Crap! It was pathetic enough missing him so much that she crawled into his bed, but for him to find out about it after his romantic rendezvous at the Hellmouth made her queasy.
With a little strategic planning, she might be able to fix things before he noticed. “Guess we should get stared on the cleanup, huh?”
Moving fast, she intended to pass him in the doorway, but Angel’s big hand wrapped around her upper arm to hold her there. “It can wait. Are you sure you’re okay? Your heart is racing.”
Cordelia wanted to die on the spot. Not fair using the vampire senses! “I’m just excited,” she said, which was definitely true. Telling him that it was because he was touching her was not on the cards. Opting for a different truth, “You’ve got that nifty new ring. No more Florence Nightingale duties for me. Now I won’t have to worry about you coming home after a fight looking like hamburger meat.”
“That’s not all it can do.” Angel started to tell her, but Cordelia interrupted, a big grin on her face.
“Oh, I think it’s great! You can walk outside without the sun sending you up in flames,” Cordelia was genuinely thrilled. There were so many things he could do when he was not limited to lurking shadows. He might actually like the beach. “Doyle and I were talking about going to the beach. Now you can come, too.”
Frowning, Angel quickly let go of her arm as if he could not bear to touch her any longer. She stayed close for a moment until he said, “Good thing Doyle was here when Spike showed up,” strangely sounding ticked off about it.
Doyle’s presence was not exactly unusual. “He’s always here.”
“Sure.” What was so surprising about that? “Hello, Doyle works here, too. Besides, his cable TV is still on the fritz and ours works just fine.”
Grabbing his wrist, she pulled him into her living room to show off their new television and doing a little dance. “Go Cordy, go Cordy! Movie night is on. Doyle and I have been working out a few kinks over who gets control over the remote.”
“As long as those are the only kinks,” Angel quipped back in a way that wasn’t quite as amusing as it should be.
The television was still on in mute mode. “Bikini babes and speedos,” Cordelia let out a laugh remembering that awkward moment with Doyle as she grabbed the remote to turn it off.
There was a hint of a growl in his voice as he asked, “Has Doyle said anything to you…?”
Okay, so she had a few angry vibes of her own to shake off. Jumping in with, “About being a demon?” She had almost forgotten to be mad at him for not telling her. “Thanks for the heads-up. Not! I love finding out that the people in my life lie to my face about who they are. You included!”
Looking like she had backed him into an unexpected corner, Angel came out fighting. He growled out, “That was different. I wasn’t keeping anything from you, Cordelia.”
Huh. That was so not true. “Buffy had to tell me that you were a vampire. You were keeping that little secret all to yourself. Guess that goes for your demon friends, too.”
“Doyle is only half demon,” Angel snapped back with a little more truth that had not been previously revealed. He took another step forward, riled up, his irritation showing in the way he crowded her forcing her to step back more than once just to get some breathing room.
Poking him in the chest with a finger, she goaded him on. “You knew all along. That is so unfair. Just like you keeping the truth from me.”
Angel countered quickly, “You didn’t even know vampires existed when we first met. The truth wasn’t even on your radar.”
Well, admitting silently, for a while she had thought those goons at the Bronze were gangbangers. “Finding out that way hurt.”
As she pushed futilely against the wall of his chest, Angel growled quietly, “Harris helped you get over it pretty fast as I recall.”
Cordelia gaped at him for a second for daring to bring Xander into this.
“Crushing on a vampire who was already in love with someone else—I wasn’t sticking around to get caught in the middle of that mess.”
“Face it, Cordelia,” he cupped her jaw tilting it up, “you ran from the truth as fast as you could even though you wanted me.”
She swiped at his hand noting the way he chuckled at her ineffectual attempt at dislodging him. When that did not work, she squirmed and pushed some more, failing to budge him an inch. His thumb swept across her lower lip as he stared down at her with a growing hunger in his gaze that left her trembling and weak at the knees.
God, he was right. So right. “Smug much?”
Angel gently released her jaw, but kept her close as his big hands closed around her waist. “If you say so. All I remember is you flirting every chance you could get…”
Cutting in, she huffed, “Obviously, your memory is faulty.”
“…trembling in my arms whenever I rescued you from the latest danger you’d managed to get into…”
Whoa! That was total exaggeration. Plus, there was a medical explanation for that. “Adrenalin rush.”
“…or the way you let me catch a glimpse inside that icy bitch exterior to see the real you. Beautiful, vulnerable, surprising and always tempting.”
“Oh? In what way? Not as a late night snack, I hope,” she tried not to think of how she hoped he was tempted. Or that he had also fantasized about her, which would be totally shocking consider his all-consuming true love for you-know-who.
Angel dipped his head low to nuzzle the smooth skin of her throat, his cool lips brushing against her pulse. The sensation made her sigh and lean into him, her hands sliding up his arms to cling to his broad shoulders. “Every way.”
“So you’ve though about…”
“Being inside you, tasting you,” he moaned the words against her ear before hissing his confession, “yes.”
Melting on the spot, her body softened, creaming at the sensual images he was stirring up. She licked at her lips wanting more. Needing his kiss no matter how much she was angry. It occurred to her that she did not have to wait, that she could just kiss him, but he jerked her away from him all of a sudden.
Angel ground out the words looking entirely pissed off at her. “I’m a vampire, Cordelia. You were smart to run. The things I could have done to you Angelus would have done far worse.”
Hooboy! Anytime a conversation touched on Angelus and what his soulless self did or might have done it sent Angel into a tailspin of doom and gloom. Warding that off she pressed a finger against his lips to stop him from going there. “Oh, no you don’t. This is a no brooding zone.”
Irritated, Angel pulled her hand away, but held it close to his chest. Softly, he added, “You started it.”
“Did I? Well, I just wanted to know why you never told me about Doyle. You’re supposed to be my friend.”
He didn’t answer right away, his attention caught by the abrasions on her wrist where the rope had rubbed it raw, busy sweeping his thumb across the sore flesh in a way that made her want more. When he looked up again she felt the impact of his gaze as physically as his caress, dark and intent, touching her deeply. A jealous tone laced his words seeming to come out of left field, “Why are you so interested in Doyle’s secrets?”
“He’s my friend, too. His secrets are my secrets. That’s how it works.”
Cordelia squirmed to get away suddenly feeling like the Inquisition had come along. “You practically ran him off tonight. It wasn’t his fault Spike broke into the apartment. Now he’s all alone after our kidnapping trauma.”
“If he needs some comfort he can go home to his mother.”
What? Huh? “Doyle has a mother?”
Angel’s mouth twisted into a reluctant smile, “You’ll like his mother.”
Cordelia mentally added one more thing to her list of things she had been left out of the loop on. “Just call this Betrayal City because I have totally been living in it. Nobody tells me anything. Alone together for a week and he doesn’t even mention that he has family living in town.”
“Alone together?” Somehow Angel latched onto those particular words managing to look sick to his stomach as if she had added something spicy to his blood supply. “Have you…has something…,” he fumbled around for a while until he finally spat out, “Has he been staying here?”
“Once or twice,” she shrugged considering it was no big deal. “Just for an all-night marathon or two. Once I get started, I’m like the Energizer Bunny. We were planning our next play date when Spike showed up.”
Angel looked murderous for a second before he backed away into his own apartment, almost tripping over the toppled lamp and doing a good impression of one of the Three Stooges. He grabbed the lamp and set it upright so fast it caused the shade to shake wildly. Standing there with his back to her, he said nothing else, just visibly holding his anger in until he had it under control.
“That ring doesn’t have any creepy side-effects, does it, like turning you into a raving madman? Because you’re scaring me.” She warned him to tone it down. Although it was clear what had set him off, she wanted him to tell her straight up. “What’s wrong about me spending time with Doyle?”
He gave her a look that suggested she was crazy, but he stayed silent, digging in his heels and waiting for her to finish. As if he was waiting for the last straw to break.
“There’s no need to be such an ass about it,” Cordelia tried to ward it off by being inclusive. “You can join in, too. That was the plan.”
Angel’s stare intensified.
“Doyle’s choices are a little skeezy,” she warned, “but don’t worry about it. You’ll get your turn to be in charge if you think you can handle it.”
Stalking back to where she stood, Angel gave the impression that he could handle just about anything, even if it included a confusing array of buttons. “Cordelia,” she shivered when his fingers slipped up to trace the curve of her collarbone, “you should know by now that I don’t like to share.”
“Pfft! No surprise there.” Cordelia teased him, “Sometime if you’re really good, I’ll let you have the remote all to yourself.”
Confused, Cordelia spoke slowly, as if redirecting him back to the discussion. “As in TV remote, dumbass. For our movie night marathons.”
Angel seemed clueless as if they had been having two separate conversations. Though, knowing his tendency to be way behind the times about anything involving entertainment, the world of high fashion, or new technology, it shouldn’t surprise her one bit. So, what was he talking about? Not movie night. Backing up the whole thing in her head, Cordelia reviewed the highlights.
All-night marathon? Check.
Inviting Angel to join in? Check. Check.
Taking turns being in charge. There would be power trips. Check.
Angel not wanting to share with Doyle…
Oh ho, hell no, he so did not go there!
Realizing this was not about rights to the remote, Cordelia tried not to freak out at the direction she believed his thoughts had taken. “Let me get this straight. Somewhere in that dark swirling space between your ears you’ve been imagining that Doyle and I have spent the entire week in bed making with the wild monkey love.”
Angel grunted, “Not necessarily in bed,” just as she suspected pretty certain that he was far from limiting sex to between the sheets. Well, back in the day when he could do that kind of thing.
This is what he had on his mind while he was in Sunnydale? “And this deranged thinking includes me issuing an invite to join the fun?” There was only one threesome she had ever dreamed up, and impossibly, it included both Angel and his alter ego. What should have been more of a nightmare with Angelus involved had only been hotter for it. Insane, duh, but it was not like she could control her dreams. Maybe Angel was not the only crazy one.
“How can you possibly be jealous of Doyle?”
Angel did not bother to answer. Nor did he deny what was driving this insane idea along. He just looked at her like he wanted to devour her whole.
“I don’t understand.” Cordelia felt genuinely confused.
Reaching up, he cupped her face in both hands, his fingers threading through the silken strands of her hair. Raw passion thickening his words as he leaned in close, he said, “I want you.”
A shaky intake of breath preceded words that sounded far steadier than her nerves. “Just like that.” It physically hurt to deny herself the pleasure of giving into that confession, especially when the distance between them was rapidly vanishing. “Not so fast, horn-dog. I’m not here just for your convenience.”
“Don’t pretend this desire is something new. You feel it too.”
“What I feel isn’t up for debate. You’re cursed. End of discussion.”
The intense scrutiny of his dark gaze made her feel like he was reading her every thought. Testing out her words for hidden promises. His heated stare fell to her lips, and he inched closer, almost close enough to kiss. An ache centered at her mouth, and she wanted nothing more than to move into that tiny space still keeping them apart.
“What happened back in Sunnydale?” She whispered the words just as he lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her with just enough pressure to shut her up. Leaving that initial tenderness behind he repeated the mind-numbing move. “Did Bu—,” barely a breath between and he made her forget how to do anything except kiss him back.
Angel fastened his mouth across hers for a series of delicious, searing, hungry kisses. With her head spinning, heart pounding, hands trembling, and knees shaking, she was totally out of control within seconds. Unable to get close enough. Writhing closer, a moan escaped her throat at the hard, insistent press of his arousal revealing the truth of his words, and making the hot, empty space inside her ache to be filled. Sliding her hands up the wide frame of his shoulders to clasp his face, she kissed him this time, excitement making her bolder, leading her to slide her tongue into his mouth, tasting him.
Without a hint of warning, he pulled back suddenly leaving her chasing his mouth, hers feeling bruised by the intensity of their kisses. His hands gently pushed her away leaving her to fall back against the nearest wall for support. Confused. Panting for enough air to say something, anything that did not sound like she was begging for more.
When her eyes opened he was standing several feet away, his hands balled up tight, straining for control. “You want me, too, Cordelia. You want more than just our friendship. Think about it,” he challenged before striding into his bedroom and forcefully slamming the door shut behind him.