7: Ancient Boring Guy
Ancient Boring Guy
The rickety sound of the elevator making its descent from the office level drew Angel’s attention. He glanced at his watch. Closing time. Right on the dot. Cordelia usually headed on a beeline for the door into her own place, but not tonight.
“Angel? Angel! Come look at this. You’ve got to see it!” There was excitement lacing her voice, not fear, so he did not break any limbs getting out of his chair. In ran Cordelia a couple of seconds later waving a check in the air.
Beaming at him, she held it up close. Angel recognized the name of their most recent client. “It’s a check.”
“Our client finally paid up. Look at the zeroes. Nice, right? And we so deserve every penny.”
Angel hated the idea of charging people money for something he considered to be a form of penance. That was why he let Cordelia handle the billing. When she tried to discuss setting up a menu of billing information he wanted to stay as far away from the subject as he could.
“Should we charge more or less for demon slaying than vampires?”
“There are usually more vampires…”
“Should we do a head count and charge by that,
or rate the demons on a scale of nastiness?”
“You’ve been asking for a new computer,” Angel thought that might placate her, but the check was just part of the reason she was here.
“We need to celebrate. I’ll call Doyle. He says he has something going on tonight, but I’ve never known him to say no to his favorite pub.” Grabbing his right hand, she took a step back trying to drag him along too.
Angel was not budging. He couldn’t. Not tonight. The pub would be packed with people. He was still a little on edge from last night. Healing from injuries he had received from a brawl he had no business starting. They were nothing more than a few insignificant aches now, but it seemed like enough of an excuse. When he told her that his plans were already set for the night, that he wanted to stay in, Cordelia called him a stick-in-the-mud and dropped her hold on his hand taking the warmth of her touch with her.
“Fine. Doyle is busy. You’re busy. I’ll just have to go find some fun of my own.”
Not that club again. Sooner or later she was going to meet up with a real version of this Jude guy and for some reason he wanted to make sure it was later rather than sooner. “Stay in tonight,” he urged before really thinking the idea through. “We could make you dinner and then do something afterward.”
Still absently fiddling with the check, Cordelia’s almond eyes narrowed marginally, challenging him to come up with a real idea. Jokingly asking, “Something like what— play Monopoly?”
“Board games? I don’t actually have any of those,” Angel pointed out a little glumly not exactly missing the sarcasm. Vampires generally played other kinds of games with their companions, none of which would be appropriate here. With Buffy, their hours together usually involved patrol, slaying, and kissing. That was out. He was suddenly struck with the idea that he had no idea what he could do to convince Cordelia to stick around for the evening.
“We could talk.”
Cordelia’s brow arched sharply. “Talk. You? Right. Like all of the other times when I do all the talking and you try to make sense of everything I say?”
Taking no mercy she stepped closer to say, “Face it Angel. You’ve been alone way too much down here in the dark. You don’t like to talk to people. All you do is read and brood, brood and read. You’re like some boring ancient guy stuck in a century without television or movies.”
Television. He did not have one of those, either.
“How did people exist back then?” Cordelia shuddered. “Maybe we should invest in cable. I’d keep the TV at my place, though. We could have a Movie Night once a week,” she brightened instantly, a smile spreading across her face.
The idea of sitting on the couch watching movies with Cordelia appealed far more than he was willing to admit to himself. It sounded so normal, a word he did not associate with himself.
“Doyle could come! We’d have to stock some of his favorite beer,” she added making Angel feel guilty that it had not even occurred to him to include their friend and co-worker in this Movie Night scenario. He figured she was just being inclusive, inviting friends over for a night of fun, and not avoiding alone time with him.
Angel swallowed down the idea like a bitter pill. Tonight was supposed to be about keeping Cordelia safe. She did not need to go back to that club. Being here allowed him to relax and forget about the fact that wherever she went there would always be men or demons wanting to take advantage. Although Cordelia was not the type to believe every line thrown her way and could probably talk her way out of many situations, he was not ready to admit to himself why he was being so over-protective.
Not even noticing that he had not even agreed to the Movie Night plan, Cordelia animatedly carried on with it. “I’ll make some phone calls tomorrow and get things set up. Doyle should be by sometime in the afternoon, so we can talk to him about it then.”
“Geez! Get a grip on your enthusiasm.” Finally noticing that he was underwhelmed by the notion, Cordelia rolled her eyes and pushed a hand against his shoulder. “The excitement might cause a stroke or something.”
Vampires don’t suffer strokes. “Cordelia, it’s fine. I like the idea. Really.”
After staring at him for a moment, her face hiding none of the incredulity or irritation she felt, Cordelia walked away heading toward their adjoining apartment door. Angel moved so fast he blocked the door by the time she reached it. “So you’re going out. To that club again?” He asked aloud this time wanting confirmation, but also thinking that he might tag along despite his healing injuries. Not to dance, of course. He would just watch over her from a shadowy corner of the club away from everyone else. In a way that was not at all creepy.
“I thought you wanted me here.” Those words seemed to take on a new meaning even though she meant them innocently enough.
Angel’s thoughts immediately shifted back to the other night when she came home from the club and the extent to which he had let his desires take him. It was fortunate that Cordelia could not remember what happened, but he could not erase the memory of her passionate response. Impaired by the alcohol in her system she did not even recognize him. Although it felt like she had taken a stake to his ego, he could only be relieved by the fact.
Or just yesterday, when he stripped off her clothing in the shower using any excuse his muddled mind could come up with to keep her next to him, and stealing opportunities to touch her beautiful body. Nothing obvious that might earn a well-deserved slap or accusations of copping a feel. He would never treat Cordelia in such a tawdry way, but he ached to explore every inch of her with his hands and his mouth.
Perhaps it was a very good thing that his body had been too drained of blood to function in any sexual capacity. He had been spared making any excuses for getting hard and enticing them both with something they couldn’t have. Angel berated himself for even considering it, but he was selfish enough that he still wanted her company.
When the only words he could think up in response echoed hers, “I want you here,” sounded quite lecherous in his own head, Angel opted for stony silence letting her come to her own conclusions.
“Don’t wimp out on me now. You did offer to have dinner with me. Unless this is another one of those times where I slave over a hot stove only to have you sit there and watch me eat.”
That would be one more thing he had not really thought through, but he did have one thing to say. “You don’t cook.”
Growing up in the Chase household never required the know-how. “True, but I can order takeout with the best of them. And I even learned how to boil water the other day,” she joked managing to bring a smile to his face. “Tell you what, Broody. We can both have something liquidy. Soup for me. Blood for you.”
“Cordelia. . .”
Stopping him before he could remind her that he was not comfortable consuming blood in front of her, she let out a soft pfft. Putting the same emphasis on his name as he had hers, “Angel . . .don’t be a dumbass. I know that you’re a vampire. It’s okay, really.”
Reluctantly, Angel agreed. He could probably tolerate the soup, but that would just be an unnecessary pretense that Cordelia did not seem to need. He felt as if a weight had suddenly been lifted off his shoulders. Self-torment was a daily doctrine and this easy acceptance gave him one less thing to worry about. Before he could think about it, his hands were out of his pockets, fingers sliding through the soft waves of her hair as he cradled her, tilting her face up, staring down at the temptation of her lips.
“You’re blocking the door, Angel,” her mouth formed words that seemed so out of place when he was thinking about rubbing his lips across hers until they opened beneath his. Angel changed his plans as reason set in, softly pressing his cool lips against her forehead.
A tiny sigh escaped Cordelia’s throat as he let her go and they maneuvered around in the doorway to stand on opposite sides. “What was that for?”
Lost for words, Angel shrugged and tried not to look like an idiot as he said, “Being you.”
Cordelia’s beautiful smile made him smile too. Her radiance was irresistible.