Scenes 91 – 100

Season of Solace

91: Upstairs . . .


Cordelia awoke with a start. Jerking into a sitting position she stared into the shadows completely disoriented. Déjà vu struck upon realizing she was nude under the covers. That old factory. Was it just hours ago? That was over. Angel had already rescued her from Drusilla’s wacky tea party. This was now. Angel’s place. His bedroom. Soft cotton sheets. Sex! What was she doing thinking about a grungy old factory when she should be rehashing every second of Angel rocking her world? Remembering what happened between them brought a smile to her still kiss swollen lips.

Despite tonight’s horrors, Ange had given her a respite from reality by driving those nightmarish experiences away. It was a temporary escape, she knew, her smile fading fast. Bev was still dead, and it was her fault. Tears stung at her eyes. Cordelia blinked until they scattered, not yet ready to face the full extent of the consequences. It was too soon to deal with the idea that the grandmother had she opened her heart up to was no longer around. No more comments about turning life’s lemons into lemonade, or giving her unsolicited relationship advice. Not that Bev was the only one jumping to conclusions about Angel.

What they had done last night would normally have been out of the question. Too dangerous. A soul-risking whirlwind. Angel had been frustratingly careful about maintaining figurative lines that could never be crossed. Pulling away from kisses had always been a necessary act of self-control, but they had it all wrong. It was just mind boggling to realize the truth. Angel didn’t need to guard every action against a moment of bliss. Waking up in his bed would have happened a lot sooner if she had understood the meaning behind Drusilla’s vision. Beyond the dark avenger thing he had going on, there were all the juicy tidbits involving bare skin, and that should have told her something.

Obviously, Angel knew, too. Drusilla had to have told him that his soul was secure. Cordelia wondered if it was just last night, or if he had been mulling over it for a while now. Why hadn’t he said anything? Hello! Girlfriend here. What if she had been clueless? Did he think she would take a chance on waking up to Angelus? Pfft! Not a chance.

Curiosity prompted her to wake Angel. Reaching across the bed only to find it empty, she queried the shadows, “Where are you?” Waking up in his strong arms would have been preferable to find him lurking in some corner watching over her as she slept. No answer came. The room was empty.

While not expecting Angel to hover over her like a crazed stalker, he had promised not to leave her alone. A bad vibe resonated as she realized that he really wasn’t there. For a second she felt abandoned, but quickly shrugged it off. Maybe he knew she had worked up an appetite and had gone to the kitchen for snacks. Maybe he was just checking the locks again. Overprotective bodyguards did that sort of thing.

Thoughts of the demon tracking her down again sent a chill down her spine. Being alone let her imagination run rampant combining with the memories of the fight that left her grandmother lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. No, she didn’t want to think about Bev yet. Stepping out of bed, Cordelia dragged the top sheet along with her focusing her thoughts on her missing boyfriend. The night wasn’t over yet, and she was far too wired to sleep without him by her side. All she wanted was to slide into his arms and pretend that he was the only thing that mattered.

Standing before the open closet as she perused the contents, Cordelia let the sheet pool to the floor at her feet. Her fingers trailed across the greyscale shirts hanging in orderly fashion stopping at one made of black silk. She slipped it over her head, shirttail landing mid-thigh, and hummed off-key while she rolled up the long sleeves. Angel still hadn’t returned. Was he whipping up a gourmet meal down there? It was too quiet to suggest that he was slicing and dicing anything else.

Cordelia suddenly knew without a doubt that he was off brooding somewhere about making love to her. Angel had been protecting her tonight. They had been caught up in a whirlwind of events that neither of them could have avoided or planned. It might have started out in the realm of Comfort Sex, but that wasn’t how it ended. The kisses and caresses designed to erase the pain of her loss had been tempered with concern. Keeping her distracted might have been his main goal, but Angel had been just as needy. He held himself back, trying to be gentle, but craving something out of their control.

Remembering some of the things Angel had said to her brought a flush to her cheeks. Not that she had been quiet. No, she couldn’t seem to shut up even when it was impossible to form words. It was just that incredible. Whatever she liked Angel managed to make it even more awesome even as they spiraled out of control. Had she said too much? Wanted more than expected? Little doubts plagued her all the way to the bedroom door.

It was not until she reached it that Cordelia remembered confessing the extent of her feelings. Gasping, “I said I loved him. Overshare much, Cor?” Following up with a groan, she inwardly debated whether admitting the truth about her feelings had come too soon. That hadn’t been on the radar yet. Angel was supposed to fess up first.

Had saying she loved him caused his disappearing act? Obviously, the attraction between then was a no-brainer. He definitely cared for her as a friend, and felt something more that translated into a night of incredible sex, but Cordelia couldn’t recall him repeating those words. Maybe he was just his usual tongue-tied self. Saying a lot without saying a word. He wasn’t here by her side, was he? That certainly said a lot, and it was not a good sign.

Was he off brooding because he did not really feel the same way? Maybe Angel only intended to provide comfort on a seriously crappy night. The love-making was just sex. The kind of benefits some friends took casually. He had felt sorry for her after Bev’s death and now he felt guilty about taking her virginity, Cordelia concluded. Well, she would have to clear that up right now.

Turning the knob, she jerked open the door and started down the hall. The hell if she was going to let Angel feel badly about what happened between them. Grabbing onto the banister, she took the stairs on a run only to come to a dead stop when a strange noise sounded just ahead. Something stirred in the semi-darkness followed by another snort emanating from a large lump on the floor.

Unless Angel had fallen unconscious and developed a rattling snore, it appeared the mansion had acquired a few uninvited guests. Camped out in the center of the foyer, they were surrounded by duffel bags, an ice chest and several large trash bags. Recognizing the copper mop of hair poking out of the other sleeping bag, Cordelia guessed the noisy one to be Xander. One padded sleeping bag lay open and empty. No need for three guesses or to check for stray strands of bottle blonde hair.

It was not exactly difficult to guess why they were here. That reason started with a B and ended in a why-can’t-she-mind-her-own-business.

Angel’s disappearance from the bedroom suddenly made sense. The light shining from the end of the hall where the study was located made Cordelia wonder if Buffy had cornered him there.Though she did not really think he was the kiss and tell kind of guy, Cordelia didn’t like the idea of having Angel’s ex in the house tonight. She didn’t feel up to giving Buffy an explanation for her presence in Angel’s bed or her current apparel— not that showing up in Drusilla’s gown wouldn’t have been a conversation sparker.

She was 90-percent sure that the three Musketeers were here to protect her from the bad guys, trying to be helpful and condoling with her over Bev’s death. It was the 10-percent none-of-the-above category that irritated. Was it too much to ask for a night alone with her boyfriend away from the insanity that always trailed in the Scoobies’ wake?

With a sigh, she left the sleeping watchdogs behind heading toward the study. It was eerily quiet. There were no voices coming from within, and the door was slightly ajar. She supposed that she would have heard if Buffy and Angel were in there talking.

Cordelia was not certain if the quiet was a good thing. Licking at her lips, she took in a deep breath and pushed at the door with her fingertips. It creaked lightly as it opened.

Angel was sitting on the couch, a closed book in his hand as he stared into the small fire burning in the hearth. He looked up at the noise from the hinge meeting her gaze with stubborn determination. “Come in, Cordy. Close the door.”

92: The Study, Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale


“When did they get here?” Cordelia thumbed in the direction of the Scoobies now blocked from view by the closed study door. Considering the serious lack of screaming, “My guess it was after we…,” she grinned and waggled her eyebrows.

A bare hint of a smile tugged at Angel’s mouth, his dark gaze drifting along the black shirt she had taken from his closet lingering in the places it clung to her curves. He reached up to take her hand in his as she approached. Just the slide of skin on skin as their fingers threaded together gave Cordelia a warm fuzzy feeling.

Angel drew her down next to him, their hands still connected. His silence struck her disturbingly, chasing away her contentment. Tucking her legs up as she angled toward him Cordelia ignored the slipping edge of the shirt. “You’re kind of broody for a guy who just got some,” she joked hoping that it was not the sudden appearance of a certain Slayer that made him look so morose.

“Buffy’s here somewhere,” Cordelia added sharply bristling at the thought that his ex would put a dampener on the one good thing that had happened tonight. “No one else turns you into such a moodmeister.”

Common sense told her that if Xander and Willow were around, Buffy had to be here, too. “Didn’t you tell them to wait until tomorrow?” She had caught one end of his conversation with Giles.

After a short pause, Angel explained that Buffy thought it was better that they secure the mansion against intrusion starting tonight. Even he looked a little skeptical when he said it explaining that Buffy was taking another turn patrolling the grounds around the mansion. Xander and Willow were currently guarding the front door.

“Blocking it, you mean,” she sniggered. “The bad guys might trip over them in the dark.”

Angel raised a brow, “I think the resonant snoring might tip them off first.”

“Guard dogs they’re not,” Cordelia laughed at the idea. She was grateful that they cared enough to be there even if their timing sucked.

“We could exchange them for a couple of Great Danes,” suggested Angel, which made her laugh again. Only a few weeks ago, he did not seem capable of a smile, much less cracking a joke. She squeezed his hand.

Angel seemed to be holding onto hers like a lifeline. Any traces of humor quickly vanished. He was back to serious mode leaving Cordelia to wonder if he was just as overwhelmed as her by their lovemaking. After feeling so lost, so devastated, he had somehow managed to make her feel so safe. She nuzzled her cheek against his shoulder then lifted her lips to his jaw.

A little sound left his throat as if he’d been holding a breath in for a long time. His eyes closed when she shifted to press another soft kiss against the corner of his mouth. Abruptly, he demanded she stop, “No,” and jerked his head away.

Stunned, Cordelia gaped for a few seconds. “What is it…morning breath?” Lifting her other hand, she exhaled into it and then took a deep sniff noticing nothing. Because if it was not, there had better be a good explanation.

“We can’t do this, Cordy. Last night was a mistake.”

Stiffening, Cordelia stared at his profile as he focused his gaze on their still joined hands. His words hit hard and there was no room for misinterpretation. They had breakup smeared all over them. Cordy put two and two together jumping right to the only scenario that made sense. Buffy was out there. Angel had obviously been thinking about what they’d done and realized he wasn’t over Buffy.

All Cordelia could think of was that she’d actually admitted her feelings of love to Angel. They had hot, spine-tingling sex. Despite it being her first time, Cordelia knew there was nothing bad about their experience together. Now he was trying to break up with her? Hell no. No one broke up with Cordelia Chase. No one. It was totally the other way around. She wasn’t about to give him a chance to call it a mistake. No way.

“You’re right, Angel,” she shook her hand out of his grasp to pat his thigh. “Glad we got that out of our system. I suppose I was grateful for the rescue. Don’t expect a repeat. There’s only so much I can take.”

Unfolding her legs, she got off the couch and padded across the shag rug toward the fireplace. She stretched her arms above her head, rolling her spine until it reached a pleasant pull and felt his eyes burning into her. The tail of the shirt slid up her thighs just under the curve of her bare bottom. The springs of the couch signaled Angel’s approach though she heard nothing else to give him away. Not until he was right behind her. Close enough that her body felt an electric charge just before his hands reached out to touch her.

Concern filled his voice overshadowing any anger he felt at her comment. “Did I hurt you?” Angel could barely ask, his voice low and damning.

Physically, no. He’d been vigorous, amazing and attentive giving her pleasure in a way she hadn’t known her body to be capable. Cordelia’s greatest hurt was that she believed they had been making love, but he made it sound like something easily dismissed. Comfort sex meant to help her forget. Worse, it might’ve been pity sex. The fact that Angel never said he loved her proved it.

Yes, he thought she was a hottie, but who wouldn’t? And if it had not been for Drusilla putting those crazy ideas in her head, she was sure she never would have considered doing it with a vampire. But then, Angel was not just any vampire. He was her vampire, or so she thought. Guess she needed a reminder.

Maybe she should’ve told him the pain she was feeling now was far worse, as if he was reaching in to crush her heart with his bare fingers. “Only at first. It’s not like you bit me. I won’t have a scar.” Cordelia might’ve preferred something more visible to remind her that it never paid to let people know you cared. She tried not to let her anger show when faced him. Telling him, “I’m sore in a few unmentionable places.”

Angel was visibly relieved. “It won’t always be that way, Cordy.”

“Not that you’ll ever know,” she snapped, slapping his hands away. So much for trying to control her anger. He looked confused by her outburst, but Cordelia didn’t stop her rant to ask herself why. “Tell me, Angel, do virgins really turn you on or do you just get off on damsels in distress?”

The twitch of his jaw was Angel’s only response. Silence filled the short void when Cordelia sucked in a breath before poking him in the chest as if stabbing at his last nerve. “Maybe it’s really just a Buffy thing. Let’s get one thing straight—I’m nobody’s substitute.”

Storming past him, Cordelia felt his hand close over her wrist. “What the hell?” Angel pulled her hard against him, his eyes dark with hurt and fury. “Buffy’s got nothing to do with this.”

Cordelia slapped his chest hard, but he trapped her hand there against that wall of muscle and the thin layer of his shirt. “Hey! Let go, Brutus.”

“Not until you hear me out.” He growled when she continued to struggle. “Just listen. We can’t do—”

“Lalalalalala,” she sang loudly to cover up his words not caring that it might be childish. When Angel stopped and stared, “I don’t have to listen to you and I won’t,” she smirked triumphantly getting back to the song. “Row, row, ro—”

Trying to reason with her was impossible. Cordelia could not see any other way of looking at Angel’s reaction. She did not want to hear whatever it was he had to say on the matter. Unfortunately, her tactic did not seem to be chasing him off. Angel’s look of confusion changed to frustration and then to anger.

Catching a brief glimpse of it, Cordelia barely had time to catch a breath before Angel’s mouth crashed down on hers. The hold on her wrists tightened. Her arms were pushed down and behind her, wrists grasped in one hand as Angel brought the other up to still her movements. His angular lips stifled the annoying song, capturing her mouth, coming back again when Cordelia opened up to protest.

Then her hands were free as Angel released her wrists, his hand stretching across the curve of her bottom to pull her closer. She reached up to clasp his head, her fingers threading through the short strands of hair, angry that he would try to kiss her into submission. So she gave back just as much as she was getting until they were both moaning and panting.

Angel lifted her, pushed her back against the ornate tile surrounding the fireplace. A soft grunt emerged from her lips at the contact. Surprised eyes opened up to scan his face as she followed his guiding hands to wrap her legs around his waist. Thickly, “Don’t you see?” He pressed his aroused body into hers, moaning at the contact. Lips against her ear, he said, “I want you.”

A river of lustful shivers washed over her skin leaving her tingly and aroused. She was rethinking her pity sex theory and desperately wanting his mouth back on hers when Angel added, “But it’s wrong, Cordy. I can’t take advantage of you this way.”

“Wait, no—,” she uttered her confusion as he guided her back to her feet. “What do you mean ‘take advantage’? I wanted it, too.”

“That doesn’t matter,” his voice was harsh, chiding her in a way that suggested she should know better.

Cordelia was still breathing hard; her mouth, breasts and loins still aching with a needy throb already missing the contact. Nothing changed except that she knew he wanted her. Even that, she had already felt certain. No matter his lousy reasons for it, Angel hadn’t altered his decision. “Are you breaking up with me?”

There was hesitation there. Cordelia watched Angel’s head dip low, his hands now in his pockets. When he looked up again, eyes gleaming in determination, Angel answered simply, “Yes.”

After everything else that had happened to her tonight Cordelia felt devastated, but she was not about to let him see that. Holding her head high, fighting off the tears that threatened to show, she brushed past him pausing at the door. “Fine, it’s over.”

He looked stunned, hit by a ton of bricks at her quick agreement. “We can’t be lovers. It’s impossible. We’ll have to settle for friendship.”

Fuming, “Pfft! You think it’s easy to shove our relationship back into a box?”

Angel did not bother to answer. He knew just as well as she did that they had gone too far to get back to just being friends. Maybe that was his problem, theorized Cordelia, supposing that he had found he couldn’t be ‘just friends’ with Buffy and now wanted their intimacy back.

Well, he could not have both of them. Cordelia Chase was not going to play second fiddle to Buffy Summers. “I thought Angelus was the cold-hearted bastard. Nope, just you. Just because your curse is broken doesn’t mean you can play sex games with me. I thought I loved you, Angel, but I don’t even know who you are.”

Flinging open the door, Cordelia turned to make her grand exit. The shadows leapt out at her forcing a scream from her throat in ear-piercing intensity. She reached out toward Angel who was suddenly by her side, but there was no demon. Xander and Willow fell forward from their leaning positions tumbling to the floor. The sudden shift of the door had knocked them off-balance. Not so the Slayer who was still standing, her eyes opened wide as she stared at them, face pasty pale in the shadows.

“We—,” Xander panicked looking to Willow for help.

Her mouth dropped open, but quick thinking kicked in. “We heard shouting.”

Buffy didn’t bother with an excuse. Her mouth was pressed into a thin line, her jaw tight, stunned gaze traveling slowly from Cordelia to Angel and back again.

“Lurk much?” Cordelia glared back. Practically growling, “You’re just in time for the good news. Angel is on the market again. I highly recommend the pity sex. It gets a five-star rating.”

Shoving her way past Buffy, she headed down the hall refusing to look back. The sound of Buffy’s voice saying Angel’s name was enough to cause her temper to flare. Blood roared in her ears drowning out their conversation.

93: The Study, Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Angel Buffy Confrontation

The last thing Angel wanted right now was company. He certainly did not need any opinions on whether or not he had done the right thing. Buffy should understand. She had been there. Felt the brunt of what could happen when he lost his soul.

“Angel, she’s telling the truth, isn’t she?” asked Buffy in spite of the audience. Her two friends had not budged from their positions on the floor. “I heard her say—”

“Get out,” he could not hold back the growl in his voice. “Go patrol. Do something. Just don’t talk to me right now.”

An audible gulp sounded, “Going now,” as Willow and Xander scrambled to their feet.

“Buff, we should just go. Maybe…maybe I should take Cor to my house,” Xander suggested. “The demon would never find her there.”

“The hell you will,” Angel whirled around to face him. “It’s too dangerous. What just happened changes nothing. As long as Cordelia is in danger, she’s staying with me.”

“But…,” Willow’s protest fell silent under his fierce glare.

When Buffy signaled for her friends to leave them alone together, Angel watched them disappear down the hall. They seemed reluctant to go, worried as if they did not trust him.

The silence grew until it was thick in the air. Angel sensed Buffy’s desire to talk about what she had overheard. It was not her business, but it was clear that neither of them was going to get past this without a confrontation. Fine, he decided. The sooner it happened, the faster he would be able to get outside to begin his patrol of the grounds.

Buffy’s attempt at sounding nonchalant failed. “So, you’ve been dating Cordelia,” her voice smacked of betrayal. “I knew something was going on.”

Angel did not see the need to respond to facts she claimed to know though he did feel sorry for hurting her feelings. That was something he had never planned. A demonic surge of satisfaction burst even as his thoughts denied any pleasure at such an injury. He fought against it closing himself off from enjoying a spark of revenge.

“I-I heard what she said about the curse being broken,” Buffy said it again this time with a little awe. “What happened, Angel? How long have you known?”

Angel stared dumbfounded. It took him a moment to catch up. She overheard that he and Cordy had sex jumping to the conclusion that because he was still himself and not Angelus that the curse was gone. “Broken? Tonight is not the kind of night for pure bliss. Her grandmother just died.”

“Hence the pity sex,” Buffy nodded as if that was making sense.

Angel could not deny that Cordelia might come to that conclusion no matter how far it was from the truth. Maybe it was for the best. It gave him an excuse to protect her from himself. Even if she hated him.

Not bothering to correct Buffy’s assumption, Angel tried to focus on what needed to be done next. He was standing quietly, thoughts turned inward, body tense as Buffy returned to the issue of his curse. Angel half listened as she went on about Angelus and the gypsies. She was like a little blonde terrier nipping at his heels.

“Cordelia said—,” Buffy broke off and rephrased. “I heard Cordelia say that you could have sex anytime you wanted. With anyone. Y’know, as if the curse was gone.”

Angel had heard the words when Cordelia said them, but brushed it off as believing it meant he could have sex with someone he did not love. Buffy had heard it differently. He suddenly remembered something Cordy said when they were making love. It was when he was trying to hold back. She encouraged him to continue. He had listened, of course, being a selfish bastard, not really wanting to stop.

“It can’t be.” Angel realized that Cordelia knew something he did not. She had been so sure that it was safe for them. There had been no fear of Angelus, no thought of danger.

The image of Drusilla saying something to Cordelia filled his head, the blush that flushed her cheeks afterward. Was it possible that Dru had known something and shared it with Cordy? He did not feel any different than usual, but that had to be it. The secret smiles and teasing all added up to the fact that Dru knew something had changed about his curse. Something that suggested it was safe for him to make love to Cordelia. Ironically, he had just broken up with her. Not to mention pissing her off in the process.

“What is it?” Buffy was caught between looking nervous and hopeful.

Angel’s head snapped up. He stared unseeingly as another image came to him. It was that of himself and Drusilla back at Trinity Church. ‘The nasty soul is here to stay,’ she had told him before telling him that it stank of his love for Buffy. At the time, he had been too concerned about Cordelia’s safety to think about what she had said.

Stunned at the realization, Angel’s jaw dropped. “My soul— it’s secured. Drusilla had a vision. She told me weeks ago, but I didn’t get it.”

“No more Angelus?”

He lifted both hands to his chest as if seeking out a difference in the way he felt. “I don’t understand, but it has to be true.”

“Oh my God,” her eyes sparkled with tears. “This is wonderful. Angel, I can’t believe it. Don’t you see what this means? This could change everything.”

Angel hoped that was the case. That it was not too late to start over. “Yes it does,” his fingertips traced the curve of her face, fully acknowledging her meaning, and feeling a hint of regret, “but not between us.”

With a soft-spoken apology, Angel left the study to go after Cordelia.

94: The Factory, Westside, Sunnydale

Spike and Dru_Embrace

This was not one of Dru’s good days. Moments of clarity were rare when she retreated into her own little world. Spike had learned long ago not to rock the boat. It was better to play along.

Having waited her out, Spike finally had the satisfaction of seeing Drusilla emerge from the bedchamber. She ignored him completely and set about making a fresh pot of tea for herself and Miss Edith. The goggle-eyed dolly was certainly getting more attention than he was tonight.

Spike glared at the porcelain-faced doll. If Miss Edith was real or could talk, he had a feeling she would know a lot about what went on in Drusilla’s head. Whatever Dru was up to when it came to Angel and his hot little pet was still a mystery. He only hoped it did not come back to bite him on the ass.

Lucky for them both that Drusilla seemed to be protecting the girl instead of her usual reaction to Angel’s playthings. Jealousy never worked out well for her. The evil sod usually left her begging for the slightest touch. Spike would either be ignored or have her frustrations taken out on him. Not that he minded the latter.

He could even deal with the fact that Dru went a bit goofy in the head now and then. It was just a matter of waiting it out, playing along and making the most of the good days. Hell, at least it was not boring.

“Come to tea,” ordered Drusilla once she laid everything out and was seated at the table. Her hands were primly folded in her lap as she waited. “Miss Edith has something to tell you.”

The curly-cued doll sat at her usual spot with arms outstretched as if expecting a hug. Spike imagined ripping dolly’s head off and throwing her into the incinerator. Grinning at the thought, he crossed the room and lifted a leg over the seat of the chair before sitting down. “And what does dear Miss Edith have to say to Spike?”

“Napkin!” Drusilla scolded him forcing Spike to grab the white cloth and toss it into his lap. He was rewarded with a smile. “Good boy.”

Spike held back his growl. He was really going to have to go kill something if he managed to survive Dru’s little tea party. Still, he said, “Whatever you want, luv,” and meant it.

Leaning closer, Drusilla whispered, “Miss Edith is scared.”

Spike actually glanced at the doll before it kicked in that Drusilla was sharing her own feelings in a roundabout way. “Scared? Did Angel—”

“No, no!” The quick answer cut him off. “Angel wouldn’t hurt Miss Edith. She likes Daddy…most of the time.”

If it was not Angel barging in with accusations and threats, “Then what the bl—” He broke off at the sight of Dru’s eyes widening at his harsh tone. This was not one of those times when it would be easy to get information out of his afflicted sire.

Deciding to take a more indirect route, Spike addressed the doll instead. “No one will ever hurt you— or my Dru— while I’m around. Got it?”

“Spike is strong,” Drusilla nodded. Puffed up a bit at that compliment, Spike sat back, picked up his tea and took a large swallow. Only to spit some of it out when Dru translated, “But Miss Edith thinks Daddy is stronger.”

“Oy! That’s a matter of opinion— and wrong,” Spike barked. “Miss Edith can keep her blasted ideas to herself,” and muttered, “bloody doll.”

Worrying her lip with her teeth, Drusilla reminded him, “Be good. It scares Miss Edith when you are loud. She is afraid the bad men will find her.”

Still glaring at the porcelain doll, Spike took a moment to catch up with what Dru was telling him. “Bad men?” He realized Drusilla had seen something in a vision and this was her way of conveying something that frightened her. Looking right at her, he asked, “Who did you see, luv? What bad men? I’ll kick their arses and drain them before I let anyone touch a hair on your head.”

“What about Miss Edith’s hair, Spike?”

“Oh, bollocks.”

95: Angel’s Bedroom, Crawford Street Mansion


The door clicked closed loudly enough that Cordelia heard it. Whirling angrily mid pace, she turned to face Angel who stepped gingerly into the room. Not bothering to mask the hurt and betrayal she felt, Cordelia let the venom drip into her voice.

“What are you doing here?”

It stung remembering the bliss they had shared just a few short hours ago. They had been connected in more ways than one. Angel could only hope to salvage their relationship before this misunderstanding ruined everything. Especially now that his soul was secure— if indeed Buffy’s interpretation of Cordy’s words was right.

“It’s my bedroom,” he reminded softly unable to resist the challenging comeback despite that it might rile her up even more. Angel watched the light flare in her eyes, skin flushed with anger and something leapt within him.

“Fine. Then you can have it,” Cordelia snapped making a move toward the door only to stop short when Angel refused to budge.

The urge to bend her to his will swept strongly through his system. Nerves itched for action. His senses remained keenly aware of her erratic pulse, the way her breathing shifted her breasts against the thin black shirt that also belonged to him, and the lingering scent of their lovemaking.

Angel knew better than to attempt it. He had a very slim chance of getting out of here with the family jewels intact and the knowledge that she would turn on him with every bit of fury she possessed knotted him up with anticipation. He had a feeling he would enjoy fighting and making up with Cordy, but there was too much at stake to risk bold moves.

This required caution and a gentle hand.

“Stop making like the Rock of Gibraltar,” Cordelia tried to physically shove him aside, “and get out of my way.”

With a sigh, Angel offered a truce, “I’m not here to fight. We were friends first and I know we can work—”

“Friends are supposed to knock. That way they can be told to get lost.” Glaring hotly, she shoved her hands on her hips and impatiently tapped her bare foot on the rug. When he still refused to move or respond, Cordelia pointed to the door. “Get out, Angel. I don’t want you here.”

He’d never answered her question, Cordelia realized. Was he here to rub it in, to tell her the pity sex was great, but he could handle just being friends? If he was going to say anything that had the B-word in it, Angel was going to discover what it was like to fit in a dustpan. The bastard! What a nerve actually trying to break up with a Chase.

Standing there like a brick wall all broad shouldered and lean muscled, Angel was not exactly in a hurry to respond to her demand. He looked to be three seconds away from biting back. Cordelia was ready. Bring it on!

Her eyes narrowed in determination when Angel barked, “Too bad. I’m not going anywhere and neither are you.”

When he stepped forward using his height to loom over her, Cordelia shivered in anticipation. She hated this, dreaded what it would mean, but would not back away from it either. His kisses downstairs proved there was a healthy dose of desire in them, but that did not change the fact that Angel had been planning to break up with her without giving her a chance first.

If he thought he could fix this with kisses, he definitely had another thing coming. Cordelia’s head tipped craned back on her neck to meet his gaze. “Back for more? Not gonna happen, buddy.”

She brushed up against his chest as she stood tiptoed to make her point catching his eyes dropping to her cleavage and whatever else the gaping shirt revealed. “Hope you’ve got a good memory because this body— you won’t be seeing it naked anytime soon.”

Snatching the loose sheet from the floor, Cordelia wrapped herself up in it, feeling smug at the dark scowl and growing impatience that appeared on his face. As if he was imagining ripping the sheet away. A part of her wanted him to do it. To cover her with kisses making her forget all about the fact that he was going to give up on her love for him; to bring her back to that place where nothing existed except the two of them.

They could go there now. Cordelia knew it. And it wouldn’t be pity sex this time. Soreness aside, she knew it would be even better than their first try because she could see the want burning in his eyes, felt the flames licking inside her.

The sound of her name on his lips made her shudder causing a rush of damp heat between her thighs. “No,” she gasped out her determination to ignore it letting a renewal of her anger replace that unbidden desire.

“Listen to me! Please, Cordy,” Angel urged when she tightened the sheet turned her back to him. “At least tell me if it’s true. Is my soul secure?”

Cordelia opened her mouth only to pause her autopilot scurrilous response when his question sank in. “You didn’t know?” Peeking over her shoulder while gauging his response, she saw the stunned look on his face realizing that he had been clueless about the fact.

“But I—,” the wheels were churning now and whether or not Angel knew it, he had just dug himself an even deeper hole. “You’re telling me that we had sex— pity sex though it was— when you still thought you could lose your soul? That’s insane.”

The claim was not even defensible from Angel’s standpoint. He had the same poor excuses he had given himself only a short time ago. None of them came close to being legitimate. The fact was that he had let his desire for Cordy outweigh any danger he thought existed.

“I might’ve been upset tonight,” facing him again Cordelia rattled on, “but not stupid. There was no risk of Angelus popping up when we blissed out. How could you not know? I thought Drusilla told you.”

Angel brow furrowed as he realized his childe had obviously shared the news with Cordy. “She told me, but somehow I didn’t get it. I had no idea,” he admitted, stunned.

“I told you, too,” she reminded him, thinking back to a point where Angel actually tried to slow down, “that we could do anything, everything.”

That had sounded more like wishful thinking, just being caught up by their desire. Shifting his feet, Angel reached up to rub a hand along his neck to ease the tense muscles. “Tonight seemed—I wasn’t really thinking.”

“Not with your brain,” Cordelia’s wry mutter followed. “Dru’s tea party wasn’t just a little get together. She told me that your soul has been permanent since you were in that hell dimension.”

Angel looked a little lost. Asking, “How?” drew a shrug.

“How am I supposed to know?” Cordelia said she was not given details and was not even sure that Drusilla had them. It was something she had gotten with one of her visions. “You came back different than before. Can’t you tell?”

“No. I don’t feel any different.” Although, that wasn’t exactly the full truth, either. It might frighten her to reveal that his demon aspect crawled to the surface far more frequently than before.

He could not remember most of the time he had spent in Acathla’s realm. Angel’s memories of that time were sketchy at best like a fading dream. He had no idea what he’d done there to secure his soul, a trial or test. Or was it something Willow did when she ensouled him?

Cordelia was not sure she wanted to hear it. “How it happened doesn’t matter if you’re going to give up on us so easily.” They had managed just fine when both of them thought he could lose his soul, but he chose now to break up with her.


“Don’t Cordy me,” she warned him that the fight was not over. “Even Xander had a longer track record.”

He had been trying to find a way to steer the conversation toward clearing this mess up, but the mention of her ex-boyfriend’s name incensed him. “Don’t,” he tried to hold back the low growl that accompanied the warning, “compare me to him.”

That one was too easy. Cordelia smoothly responded, “Afraid you might come up short?”

Angel wasn’t exactly slow either. “Not likely.”

Licking her lips, Cordelia glance downward, smirked and let her eyes trail up his torso. She watched with glee as Angel’s brow furrowed darkly. “I guess that’s for me to know, isn’t it.”

Jaw clenching, Angel seemed to be holding back a verbal response. He circled her position as if looking for a better angle to pounce. Cordelia did not turn. She held steady trying to ignore the tingling awareness of his presence. Passing by her one more time, Angel stopped behind her.

Instinct kicked in and Cordelia bolted for the door. Though she heard nothing, his hand slammed against its flat surface as he moved in to reach past her shoulder. Damn vampire speed.

Yanking at the tangled sheet, Cordelia turned pressing her back against the door. “Get out of my way.”

Angel held steady, his raised arm half-blocking her in. “We’re not finished here.”

“Aren’t we?” Cordelia felt the first sting of tears. She did not want to let him see her cry. “Out! I need out.”

He did not stop her when she swept past him again because it put her back in the center of the room. Though she would not face him, Angel sought a final assurance that his soul was now permanent. “You believe Dru was telling the truth.”

Deception was not exactly Dru’s game. Angel knew the answer to that even as he awaited Cordelia’s confirmation. If there were doubt, everything he said to her in the study would still hold true. They could never be lovers. As for friendship, he wanted to hold on to anything he could get, but as Cordy hinted, the temptation would be far too great.

Cordelia could not answer. She hoped Drusilla was being truthful about his soul. But the vampiress had tortured Angel in the past, planning to let Spike kill him in order to cure her illness. That reminder did not exactly make Cordelia feel better about it.

Was it truth or a lie? Cordelia thought back to their encounter at Trinity Church. Her mind instantly filled with rich, colorful images of blood, pain and death; the sounds of the dying; helpless victims crying out in need for a savior— and Angel. She was there entwined in his arms, at his side as— something that was not quite clear to her.

The anger drained from her voice. “Are Dru’s visions ever wrong?” She turned to find him directly behind her again though it came as no surprise.

“No,” Angel answered adding an addendum, “but it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what they mean.”

The future scared her.

Lost in her thoughts, she heard Angel as if from a distance, but did not miss the hope that filled his words. “Cordy, this changes everything. Don’t you see? The threat of unleashing Angelus was just too much to ignore. I knew if we made love again that I—”

Cordelia jumped on the idea that he had been thinking about her that way. Pressing a palm against his chest, she asked for the truth. “So it wasn’t just pity sex?”

“Did it feel that way?” Angel had wanted to comfort her, but that was just a part of it.

Slowly, Cordelia admitted, “No.” It had felt incredible. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. She stared up at the desperate look on Angel’s face.

“It’s not over between us,” Angel lifted his hands to touch her hovering them at her shoulders for a moment before trailing his fingertips down to her elbows. He had never been so close to begging for something in his entire existence. Urging her to answer him, “You know that. So…”

“So we have a problem.” Her lips pursed, eyebrows scrunched thoughtfully.

Warily silent, Angel dropped his hands to his side. Was that a no? It sounded like a no.

“Our little secret is out in the open.” Her sudden smile was a flash of sunlight on the darkest night, brilliantly intense and teasing.

Swamped by relief, Angel smiled back. “That’s a good thing. I won’t have to stop myself from touching you.” This time he grabbed a handful of sheet and dragged her close rubbing his forehead against hers before pressing his lips there.

“Buffy didn’t stake you.” She snuggled against his chest looping her arms around his waist. “That’s another good thing. Xander’s probably waiting for it to sink in before he goes ballistic.”

Strangely enough, Angel realized that if Buffy had not brought up the subject of his soul, he and Cordelia might not have resolved this. He would still be downstairs brooding and she would be up here ripping holes in his favorite sheets. Still, he wished the Scoobies would just go home for the rest of the night.

“I told them to wait until tomorrow to bring your things over,” Angel grumbled, “but Buffy has her own way of handling situations.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia muttered sourly. Then her head came up off its comfortable spot on Angel’s chest. “Wait— you said they brought my stuff? I didn’t see any suitcases.”

Angel stepped back looking a little evasive. “Uh…no.”

Remembering the scene in the foyer with Xander and Willow snoring away in their respective sleeping bags, Cordelia recalled that there were a couple of old duffel bags, a pink backpack with stuffed pig poking out from a pocket, a cooler and several large trash bags. A sharp gasp sounded. Her brown eyes widened in horror as Cordelia realized what they’d done.

“Trash bags?” Cordelia gaped numbly. “They put my clothes in…,” she couldn’t even say the words again nearly hyperventilating over the idea.

Making a move for the door with murder in her eyes, Cordelia stopped short as Angel called out. “Cordy—”

Anger flared again, snapping, “My grandma dies and suddenly I’m a bag lady. Cordelia Chase does not live out of a trash bag!”

Angel recognized that Cordelia was not just angry about this fashion disaster. This was the first time she had even mentioned Bev’s death to him. He caught her just as her legs buckled beneath her letting her fall into him. Angel eased them down to the floor, wrapped his arms around her and held on as Cordelia tried to stifle her tears.

“My parents…,” the words faltered. Cordelia swallowed thickly, then forced herself to speak before she lost her nerve. “Bev didn’t want me to be alone like this. Now she’s dead because of me. If I hadn’t moved in…”

Threading his fingers through her hair, Angel whispered soothing assurances. He had one observation to share. “She loved you, Cordy.”

A teardrop spread its moisture across his shirt, the salty scent of her sorrow in the air as Cordelia admitted. “I never actually told her…”

“I think she knew.”

Cordelia shifted again to look into his eyes wanting to read the truth of his words there. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Angel answered palming her face with both hands, thumbs chasing down her tears. “And Cordy— you’re not alone.”

96: The Foyer, Angel’s Mansion, Crawford Street


Every faint sound from upstairs drew their attention. Anxiously, they listened for a hint of an argument, a sign that the insanity that they had just witness was never going to repeat itself. Only the faint sound of mumbling broke the silence, and that was theirs. There was no screaming, or shouting, no breaking furniture, or even, unthinkably, the rhythmic squeaking of a mattress.

Except that wasn’t quite as unthinkable as one might think…or, um, not think, Willow admitted to herself considering what she’d seen through the keyhole of Angel’s study.

Obviously, that had not been a first-time smooch session. Cordelia and Angel had been dating right under Buffy’s nose. Willow saw that her friend’s lips were drawn into a thin line, her face pale as she focused her attention above. Every now and then, they could hear something that sounded like a voice, but the old mansion’s thick walls muffled almost everything much to her frustration.

Willow was not the only frustrated eavesdropper. Scowling in the direction of the stairs, Xander muttered under his breath, “What are they still doing up there?”

Her green eyes flitted in that direction. “Umm…”

That was an interesting question. If Cordelia’s attitude were any indicator, she would guess that they were arguing. Angel had looked kinda determined to make her take back what she had said about them breaking up. He was not exactly the type to sit around to talk things over.

Nope, Angel was definitely an action-oriented kind of guy. Speaking of action, now that Willow knew that Cordelia & Angel were an item, it made perfect sense to her. The little looks, Angel’s reaction when she had been hurt or kidnapped, the way Cordelia could get him to do anything, all added up. Two plus two definitely equaled four.

“What do you think?” snapped Buffy now glassy-eyed with tears. “Your girlfriend’s got her claws into Angel. He felt sorry for her, that’s all.”

“Hah! Dead Boy couldn’t wait to take advantage of Cor’s misery,” Xander countered just as quickly. “Her grandma just died for cripes sake.”

Shrinking back as Buffy and Xander stood in a furious face-off, Willow suddenly recalled that old saying— about the rock and the hard place and being stuck in between. Ground zero was not exactly a comfy place to be.

Buffy huffed, “Like that would stop her?” cheeks blotching with patches of red.

“Don’t blame Cordelia if your undead boyfriend can’t keep his hands to himself,” he protested. “She’s not like that. You don’t know what it takes for a guy to get into her panties.”

Making a face, Willow let out an, “Eew,” which went unnoticed by both of her friends. The subject of Xander trying to get into Cordelia’s panties was too much information. Not that he had succeeded since she had admitted to being a virgin.


A random spurt of silly satisfaction hit Willow at the thought that she had been one up on her childhood nemesis. Of course that meant they now had something in common in a very weird sort of way, her first time being with wolfy Oz and Cor’s with vampy Angel. Although that meant Cor had the exact same thing in common with Buffy, and so Willow figured it would not be a good idea to point that out.

“This is Cordelia Chase we’re talking about,” Buffy planted her hands on her hips, “self-proclaimed Boy Slayer. Maybe she got knocked down a peg or two after you two started dating, but you don’t get to be Head Bitch of Sunnydale High without knowing how to twist guys around your little finger.”

Xander actually looked insulted by that. The hurt pout appeared and then disappeared quickly. “You’re not being fair. Buffy, you know what he’s like: evil at the core. I’d think you’d be glad to be rid of the bastard.”

“Do you really want him back, Buffy?” Willow finally cut in. Her query forced a pause in the argument, both of them staring first at her and then at each other.

Finally dropping her gaze to the floor, Buffy seemed undecided. Then her head snapped toward the staircase as if she had heard something they could not. “I—I don’t know,” shrugging almost imperceptibly.

Willow’s eyes widened as they followed Buffy’s gaze. Were Cordelia and Angel still arguing? It seemed awfully quiet up there to her. If Slayer hearing was any better than normal humans, she wondered exactly what Buffy could detect.

“When Angel came back from hell you said—”

“I didn’t know about his soul being safe,” Buffy cut her off. “I didn’t know. Somehow, he just seemed different, but I thought it was me. We couldn’t…I couldn’t do that to myself again. All of this time we could have been together, but I—I pushed him away.”

Inching closer, Willow tried to reach out to her, but Buffy deliberately stalked out of touching distance. She hated to see her friend heartbroken, but Angel had seemed pretty certain that he was not going to pick up where they left off. If Buffy had given him a chance when he returned to Sunnydale, Angel would have jumped at it.

It was only natural that she looked at this a little more objectively than either one of her friends. “Technically, Cordelia and Angel are your exes. Think about it for a minute. They’re not your current girlfriend or boyfriend. Can’t they date anyone they want?”

Buffy gaped “No!” as if Angel was supposed to go dateless for the rest of his very long existence.

“Not each other,” Xander glared toward the upstairs again. “It’s too quiet. Maybe he got fed up with her yelling and—” He stopped, eyes widening, and then took off across the foyer.

Dashing after him, Willow caught up with him half a step after Buffy who grabbed his arm and whirled him around. Demanding, “Where are you going?”

A wild guess told Willow that Xander was afraid for Cordelia. After the protective vibes Angel had been giving off lately, that was one thing they didn’t need to worry about. Besides, she was pretty certain, “Angel wouldn’t bite Cordelia.”

“Maybe not,” he agreed a little too quickly to suggest that she was right, “but Cor tends to keep on arguing until she gets…”

Willow and Buffy shared a shrug. “What?”

“Um,” Xander looked rather uncomfortable admitting it. “It’s kind of a turn-on. For a vampire, it’s probably like waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

“Oh, like the study. I could only see a tiny bit through the keyhole, but wow they were…,” Willow gulped at the devastation on Buffy’s face. She chirped, “Or not. It’s not at all like that. Maybe it was just something in my eye. I didn’t mean to suggest that— hey, where are you going? The stairs— no…”

This time it was Xander holding Buffy back. “Don’t let it get to you, Buffster. It’s Angel’s fault.” From his tone, it was clear that he blamed Angel for everything. “What was he doing that with Cordelia if he didn’t know about his soul?”

When Buffy sank down onto one of the bottom steps, Willow followed along. She was close enough to hear the softly whispered, “It’s not his fault. It’s mine.” Her golden hair shrouded her face in shadows as Buffy’s head dipped low. “I did this. I made them patrol together.”

“It’s no one’s fault,” Willow assured her though she could recall that Buffy was up to something when she assigned Cordy and Angel to team up. Guess they teamed up a little more than Buffy intended.

“Nobody can control who they love,” she commented randomly. “I mean, I suppose they’re in love. I’m sure it wasn’t just pity sex, but if it was maybe Angel was just trying to be nice and make her feel better.” Then she paused for half a breath. “Of course, they might just be doing it because they’re both kind of hot, but— you don’t want to hear that, do you?”

Willow came out of her own little thoughtful fog to find Buffy and Xander glaring at her again. Oops! It was back to that rocky hard spot again. “Am I babbling? I think I might be babbling.”

“Trying to be nice?” Icy shivers crept along her spine at Buffy’s cold tone.

“Anyone else would send a Hallmark card,” Xander sneered, “but no— Dead Boy has to get creative with the move making.”

Feeling awkward and sorry for them both, Willow focused on the positives. Even they would not be able to deny the truth. “Gotta look on the bright side. No more Angelus.” Trying to sound perky about it did not seem to be making any headway with either of them.

After a long pause, Xander finally let out a grunt of agreement. “Not gonna miss that guy.”

Willow gave herself points for progress. Now for a little extra credit, “I suppose this lets Cordelia off the hook, too.”

“What hook?” Buffy asked, her eyes narrowing.

“The prophecy hook. Kinda hard to be a virgin sacrifice when you’re not a virgin,” Willow explained her logic.

Buffy unfolded her petite frame from her sitting position to walk back toward the center of the room. Clasping her crossed arms in a self-hugging motion, she sent Willow a rueful look. “Can we not talk about this anymore tonight? It’s late. We’ve got a lot to deal with tomorrow.”

When Buffy’s gaze strayed back upstairs, Willow suggested, “Maybe we should go home.”

“No way,” Xander headed back to his sleeping bag and sat down on top of it as if staking his spot for the night. “I’m not going anywhere until Cordelia comes down here and tells me she’s okay with this.”

Despite pointing out that neither Angel nor Cordelia were likely to come out of the bedroom anytime soon, Willow could not change their mind. “We’re still here for a reason,” Buffy reminded them. “There’s a demon out there who’s got no idea that Cordelia isn’t as ‘pure’ as she was a few hours ago. It may come after her again.”

According to Giles’ research, crosathnam demons were primarily nocturnal. While they could move around in the daytime, it affected their natural tracking abilities. “Whether I like it or not, I’ve got to stick around,” added Buffy somewhat bitterly.

She was still the Slayer. One of them, Willow corrected herself. With Faith in jail for murdering Cordelia’s grandmother, things were going to get even stickier around here. There were trials and publicity and jail sentences and lethal injection in their future unless Faith managed to escape or Giles and the Watcher’s Council pulled off a miracle.

Willow shuddered at the thought, but it made her consider the fact that Angel and Cordelia being in love was hardly their biggest problem. Though telling Buffy and Xander to mind their own business was definitely hers. Honestly, Willow was not that concerned about Xander. He might be a little jealous over the fact that his ex had moved on, but he did not seem to be crushed by it.

As long as Xander did not do anything stupid— like confronting Angel, then he would be okay. It was Buffy she worried about the most.

Buffy put on a brave face that did not fool anyone. Willow only hoped they would not have a repeat of the last time Buffy lost Angel. She had abandoned Sunnydale leaving her family, her friends and her role as the Slayer behind her. Willow found it hard to imagine what she had gone through after killing Angel to save the world from being sucked into hell.

They had talked about it when Xander was not around. She knew that Buffy thought of Angel as a soul mate; tied to her in some cosmic way whether or not they could be together. She had given him up when he returned to Sunnydale because it was too dangerous and had confided to Willow that she could not make it through a repeat of the tragedy that was their love.

Now that Buffy did not have to worry about Angelus, Willow wondered if she was simply going to accept Angel’s new relationship without a fight.

97: Upstairs . . .


A whisper, “I can’t believe she’s gone,” gave way to Cordelia’s tears. Stubbornly, she had held them back determined not to cry. The effort left her breathless, a broken sob cracking the air. Warm droplets clung to her lashes sparking a trail along her cheeks. One by one, they soaked into Angel’s shirt as she melted into his embrace.

Crying in front of others was not her thing. It left her way too vulnerable, and open to judgment. Also, it was hell even on smudge proof makeup. That did not matter when her tears were for Bev and Angel’s arms were a comforting band of steel as he pulled her closer, his hands soothing and gentle.

With Angel, somehow her tears did not seem wrong. That surprised. Yet Cordelia did not question it.

Feelings swamped her with a reality she did not want to face rushing in despite her determination to stay strong. Cordelia had only known about Bev for a short time. They had just started to understand each other. Now she was lost forever. Cordy knew where the fault lay. She had seen it happen, knew who was to blame.

Nothing in Cordelia’s experience prepared her for this. No loss compared. Maybe Angel trying to dump her for her own good qualified— the dumbass. Xander’s betrayal, the loss of the family fortune, her injury, even the totally bogus loss of the homecoming crown seemed trivial now.

Memories flashed, bittersweet pangs immediately following.

Bev’s face was completely clear in her mind. Her bright smile was capable of chasing away gloomy doubts. The twinkle in her eyes seemed both wise and mischievous when she had teased Cordelia about Angel’s hotness. Her style had been a lesson on how to avoid looking like a low-budget hag when deprived of designer labels. The way she had lectured Angel about ‘protecting’ her. How she fought for what was important to her by going up against the mayor.

Now she was gone. Dead. Nothing could bring her back. Cordelia felt cheated. Robbed of something precious. Other girls got to think about prom dresses, but she would be picking out funeral wear instead. More than just the clothes, there were arrangements for the services, too.

Wondering what Bev would want, Cordelia felt panicky. Angel’s assurances that she was not alone, that she had friends to help calmed her a little. After all, Giles knew about funerals. When Angel winced at the comment, she raised her head from his chest and wiped at her moist cheeks with the edge of the sheet before dropping it to her lap.

“I feel responsible for what happened tonight,” he admitted steering the subject away from the Watcher’s experience with funeral arrangements. “If I’d been there—”

“We both know who’s to blame.”

A bubble of anger welled until Cordelia let it go. This was depressing. She did not want to think about this right now even if she accepted that it was not going to go away. Not everything about tonight was worthy of tears. She turned her thoughts to Angel. There were still a few things to clear up between them.

“About us,” she laid her palm against his chest, “we’re not breaking up.” It was a statement, not a question.

Angel’s eyes dropped to her mouth watching her tongue dart across her lips. His fingers tightened subtly as their movement stalled along her back and thigh. The compassionate concern shifted almost instantly. A possessive streak intensifying his gaze, he confirmed, “No, we’re not.”

Caught up in the weight of that stare, Cordelia held her breath, mouth dropping open as she recognized the hot streak of want that slammed into her. Just a look and her heart started pounding. “Good,” she muttered sliding one arm around his neck to lean in for a kiss, a soft peck to claim her territory.

Angel palmed the back of her head preventing her retreat as his fingers threaded through her hair. His mouth brushed across hers coming back to stroke her lips again, and then lifted away only long enough to pull her onto his lap. Cordelia’s legs splayed across his powerful thighs riding up against an insistent bulge.

It made her aware that she wore nothing under the shirt seconds before his big hands slipped underneath to cup her bare bottom. They curved over both cheeks, squeezing and releasing, kneading her warm flesh. Eyes open, transfixed by the look on his face, her mouth formed an open circle for a throaty, “Ohhh.”

She clasped his shoulders. Held on tight. Watched his eyes turn black with want. Cordelia melted under that smoldering gaze. Her hips shifted, a little gasp sounding when she bumped up against that hard ridge just right, the contact igniting a slow burn flickered in her belly.

He licked his lips, guiding her movements in a way that set off pleasure sparks for both of them. Riding him, grinding against him— it felt so damn good. She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and concentrated on that feeling. Angel kissed the soft spot beneath her jaw, nibbled tenderly at her earlobe only to let out a guilty moan against her ear, “I’m sorry.”

Cordelia stilled her movements to ask, “Sorry for what, breaking up with me? Hell yes you should be sorry.”

Saying he meant something else, Angel commented, “I thought we’d decided to forget that.”

“Forget it?” Cordelia traced her finger across his chest in the shape of a large C. Grinning at him. “I’d say there was some serious groveling to be done first.”

The tension in his shoulders got tighter. “I don’t grovel to anyone.” Angel’s voice darkened giving her goosebumps. She had seen far too much of the groveling type when she was with Xander anyway.

“Just don’t think you can seduce me into a case of selective amnesia,” Cordelia pressed her bottom back toward his hands secretly delighting as they tightened their hold again.

Arching under his touch, Cordelia felt another wave of desire shudder through her. Angel gave her ass one last squeeze before sweeping his cool hands upward along her curving spine. “I can’t look at you and not want you,” his voice dipped down to a sexy octave. Cursing softly, “The timing is off. We shouldn’t—”

“Shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t…pfft!” Cordelia looped her arms around his neck. “I think we can,” she leaned in to press her breasts against his hard chest enjoying the way the sensitive peaks rasped against the shirt. Grinning, placed a teasing little kiss on his chin. Adding, “We should,” as she shimmied her hips, “and I’ll bet we will.”

“Cordy,” he chided chasing after her mouth with his own, his laughter swallowed up by a moan as her back arched, head tilted to let his lips graze her throat. Just a touch, a soft kiss was enough to leave her craving his mouth.

When Angel clasped her head with both hands and brought his lips to hers, she knew she would have her way. Nothing else mattered right now except being with him again. Taking back what was hers and nearly lost because her vampire had a bad case of chivalry. She had lost too much tonight already.

Cordelia kissed him hard, her mouth eager against his. A smile formed on his firm lips for an instant before Angel opened up to her eager exploration. Letting her taste him before taking over again, eating out her mouth, devouring her.

The wet rasp of his tongue left her shuddering, aroused to an almost frantic state. God, she wanted more. It incensed her to think that Angel nearly walked away from their relationship, that she had almost thrown it away to save what was left of her shredded pride. Pulling away long enough ask, “How could you think about giving this up?” Cordelia muttered the accusatory question almost breathlessly.

For an instant, Angel stared back lust-glazed, his tongue swiping across his lips. Looking like he wanted to answer, but closer to stealing her breath away again, a hint of topaz appeared in his eyes. Cutting him off at the first syllable, Cordelia curled her fingers around his big biceps pulling closer. “Shut up and kiss me.”

Then they were falling. Angel rolled back taking her with him. She landed on top, clinging to his broad shoulders when he reversed their positions. Legs butterflied, her hands dropped down to pluck nervously at the buttons of her shirt, suddenly ultra aware of what they were about to do, yet also feeling a triumphal thrill that Angel wanted her as much as she wanted him.

Braced above her, Angel’s eyes roaming over her face, lingering at her mouth and throat before slowly drifting down toward the spread of her firm thighs to where his knees were planted on the floor between them. Her eyes were all over him, too. Every sexy inch. The stretch of his dark pants across those powerful thighs and his obvious arousal. His shirt half open where she had somehow unbuttoned it to get at his smooth chest. That handsome face showing hints of his true nature.

One problem: he was too damn far away. Scrambling for a handhold, Cordelia grunted exultantly when she grasped two fistfuls of shirt and tugged hard. The already tangled sheet twisted beneath them as Angel followed her to the floor. The impact stole her breath away again, but having Angel’s weight on top of her felt delicious. Even when he shifted easing away so as not to crush her, she felt his solid strength.

Angel’s head dipped blocking out the dim light an instant before he captured her mouth, their lips meshing feverishly. She clasped him close suddenly fearful that he would stop. When he kissed her, it was all she needed, just him and that mouth, and the hands that coasted along her skin as if they knew every curve. There was something else too, knowledge new to her but vital— she needed him inside her again.

Recognition that she wanted him like that now was enough to make her forget all about the interlopers on the lower level. It was just the two of them there on the floor, Angel struggling to pop the buttons on her shirt without ripping it open and her laughing gleefully at his efforts as her wandering hands reached down to squeeze his ass.

“You don’t play fair,” Angel nipped gently at her exposed shoulder. Pushing the half-open shirt aside, he slid a hand upward filling his palm with her breast. He plumped it, ran his thumb close to the hardened peak, muttered “Cordy” against her skin before taking her into his mouth.

Cordelia arched toward him melting hotly at the wet sensation, “Seems fair to me.” She was quivering at his touch, clasping him to her. Now she wanted to feel him skin to skin. Her hand trembled as it moved between them connecting with the solid shape of his arousal.

He bucked against her hand, growling softly at her anxious motions spurring her on. Spreading kisses along her throat as she cupped and squeezed. He nibbled her neck as she rubbed, stroking him with her fingers, trailing his own hand down to press his long fingers through the soft fur at the apex of her thighs, touching her there, spreading her wetness, fingers thrusting shallowly where it was still a little sore, but felt too good to care.

Her eyes slammed closed, hand stalling its eager actions as she writhed beneath him, her hair thrashing around her shoulders as pleasure closed in. Cordelia let out a shriek as she came feeling the waves vibrate through her. Then his fingers were gone. A zip ripped the air even as she moaned in protest.

Before the sound died on her lips, he was there, the blunt tip pressing thickly along her slick sex. Into her. Filling her with an insistent thrust. It was insane how good it felt this time. Cordelia curled her nails into his shoulders, her eyes shut tight, cheek pressed into his neck. She felt her body clench him as his hips shifted back nearly pulling out only to slam back down.

His dark head shook in denial, “I’ll never give this up,” Angel gritted his teeth as he answered her earlier question. Lifting himself up to free his hands, he stroked them up the curves of her hips, waist and higher to fondle her breasts, bending down to flick his tongue across one velvet peak. “Now that I can have you, Cordy, you’re mine.” Ardently emphasizing it again, “Mine.”

Angel gathered her close again, kissing her, nuzzling his face at her neck as his steadily thrusting hips banged rhythmically into hers trying to be gentle. Sensing him holding back Cordelia knew she needed more than that right now. Something primal rose up inside her demanding release. “Show me.”

Only knowing that she wanted more, Cordelia shifted her legs higher. Scraping teeth across his shoulder, she licked and nibbled her way up to his neck knowing it was dangerous territory, how sensitive he was there. Lashing her tongue over one particular spot made him moan, shudder, pivot harder.

Their pelvic bones connected, curls tangling between them, her clit nudged with each heavy stroke. “Cordy,” he growled a warning. A hand tangled in her hair yanking back to see her sly unrepentant grin. Amusement flashed for an instant before something wickedly hot made his eyes go dark. “You want it like this?” Angel banged into her.

Cordelia keened with pleasure at the change of pace, the way her body tried to slide along the floor, the strength he used to hold her there. She thrust her hips up to meet his. Her hands darted everywhere clutching his shoulders, clasping his neck, dipping down the back of his loose pants to palm the flexing muscles of his ass as his hips worked back and forth.

“Yes,” she hissed confirmation knowing she was close, that he could take her over the edge.

Angel’s hand moved from her hip, slipping between them, his fingers sliding down the wet crevasse where they merged until his thumb brushed against her swollen nub. Lightning flashed behind her closed eyes at the rough little rubs that followed until it rolled through her. “Good, yes, Angel, so—,” her words broke apart into an unintelligible cry as she came.

Her whole body flushed, skin salty and damp with hair tangled and clinging to her cheeks, Angel changed the pace again, drew her orgasm out until it seemed like it went on for ages. Cordelia felt the hard column of his sex moving within her as her body spasmed joyously around it. She opened her eyes to marvel at his gorgeous face damp with sweat, eyes piercing hers deeply.

“Beautiful,” Angel captured her mouth for a kiss. His hands moved up her torso to trail down her arms enclosing her wrists. The light grasp pushed her arms above her head, her wrists now locked together in one handhold.

Her body tensed, eyes uncertain. Angel’s other hand dropped back to move her leg so that it draped over his shoulder. She felt him slip in even deeper, her eyes widening, mouth curling expectantly. Waiting until she relaxed, Angel flexed his hips forward again.

Staring down sinfully, his mouth hovered above hers. Voice dark and throaty in a way that made her melt, “Do you like what I do to you?” Angel stroked inside shallowly and then gave it to her deep. He knew the answer, Cordelia figured, but just wanted to hear her say it.

“What do you think?” Eyes flashing stubbornly, she licked her lips, and tried not to gurgle in pleasure at the way he made her feel.

“I think I’d give you anything you want,” Angel said with certainty managing to surprise her.

Cordelia could not help but smile happily at his admission. She only wished that her hands were free to wind around his neck as he kissed her. Soft kisses full of feeling. “Then I think,” she paused to suck softly on his upper lip, “we’ll be,” and kissed the corner of his mouth, “doing this,” and moaning as his tongue swept across the plump curve of hers, “a lot.”

The almost lazy, controlled thrusts came earnestly now rousing her again to a fever pitch. “Angel,” Cordelia panted his name reveling in sensation at the wet slap of their bodies, the deep penetration, the sight of his hard sinewy body as it worked hers.

Suddenly, he moaned hoarsely, his thrusts shorter, uneven, almost frantic. She knew he was going to come and the thought thrilled her. Before Cordelia could think about her words, she was telling him, “Do it. Let it go, c’mon, Angel,” and crashing her hips against his with as much energy as she could muster.

“Cordy,” he shouted coming hard, filling her up with his essence. Another little burst of pleasure washed through her, not as wild as before, but enough to cause her to squeal in his ear as he collapsed forward. Cordelia reveled in the full body contact.

Angel released her hands. She felt him softening within her, slipping wetly from her body and trembled at the sensation. Panting happily, a smile tugging at her mouth, she palmed his face. “God, that was amazing.”

“You’re amazing,” he corrected smooching the tip of her nose and then moving down for a lingering open-mouthed kiss.

“Mmm,” Cordelia had to agree to that. “I was pretty sensational. Just think about how it will be after some practice.”

Propped on his side next to her, Angel traced a finger around her navel before reaching over to clasp her waist in a lightly possessive hold. He stared down at her with eyes that held the secrets of the universe. She flushed under his stark gaze realizing he was still half-dressed.

They had not even taken the time to get naked. She snorted at the thought. “Too bad it’s over,” she exaggerated a woeful sigh propping herself in a similar position on her side. “Now I suppose that we’ll have to go downstairs and face the Scooby Inquisition.”

A chuckle sounded next to her ear, a sound that was far more sexy than funny. Angel moved with a speed that left her dizzy, scooping her into his arms. “Who said we were finished?”

98: Willy’s Place, Midtown, Central Sunnydale

Anton_Willys Place

Closing time was an hour away. Only the stragglers remained finishing off their games of chance, downing the last of their drinks before heading out the door. Willy wiped off the bar. Only one customer of any note remained, one of his regulars, a particularly ugly bastard who liked bourbon almost as much as he hated his harpy of a mother.

Always a good listener, Willy did not mind hearing about the demon’s family woes. It made him feel better about his own solitary existence. The bar was his home as well as his main source of income. A little barbering on the side brought in a few extra bucks. Not to mention the tidy sum he made by keeping his ear to the ground.

There was something nasty brewing in Sunnydale. Not that the concept was anything new. Just a different sort of nasty that made it seem like something really bad was about to happen. Willy had not quite figured it out. No one was talking, but that was just a matter of time. The bar had been full for the past few nights. Lots of visitors in town, and none looking particularly touristy. His ‘I Survived a Night on the Hellmouth’ t-shirts were usually a big hit, but had not drawn any interest from the closed-mouthed demons.

Tiny had to put two or three of them down permanently when a nasty fight broke out. A couple of fledgling vamps and two newcomers decided to use the pool table as a spot for a bloodletting. Some dumb kid had followed them in, gotten past Tiny when he was on a break. They obviously did not care how hard it was to get blood out of felt.

Still annoyed, Willy was mentally tallying up the cost of tonight’s repairs when the bar door opened. Some guy stepped through with a sneer on his lean, angular face looking more like he belonged in some ritzy city club than a demon dive bar in Sunnydale. Oh, shit! He looked like trouble, all suave and sinister at the same time.

Willy’s hackles went up. Despite his clientele, he usually felt pretty safe in his own place, providing a service for the locals, but he felt a shudder as the stranger’s cold black gaze settled on him. Even if he was not in game face, this was obviously a vampire, one who had seen some time in this world, and not a human who had taken a very wrong turn.

Breaking the tense silence, he greeted the vampire with a simple nod. “I’m Willy. First drink is on the house,” he said sensing that he should keep him on his good side.

A grunt sounded from his regular at the bar, who knew that freebies were not the norm. Willy flashed him an annoyed stare before turning back to the slowly approaching figure. Styled up in some fancy retro black-on-black suit, he was a little too starched up. Willy felt his skin crawl with gooseflesh with each step the vampire took closing the distance between them.

Most of the local vampires had gone to ground over an hour ago. Dawn was coming up anytime now and the sun was not exactly good for their complexion. Then, it occurred to him that might be the problem.

“You lookin’ for a room?”

Willy did not run a hotel. He knew better than to point that out, but was already going to offer the couch in the back room just to keep things civil. The lanky vampire stared for a moment, and then glanced down at the demon at the end of the bar curling his lip as if to flash a fang. A hiss sounded, ochre eyes flared from his otherwise human face striking fear into the pitiful creature, who scrambled off of the bar stool taking his leave.

Making a mental note that his customer had been chased off before he could pay his tab, Willy forgot he was supposed to be nice, and asked with an irritated whine, “What do you want?”

When he spoke, it was with a thickly foreign accent. One Willy had never heard before. “Information.”

Somehow, Willy was not surprised. “That’s comes in spades, but it ain’t cheap.”

The vampire reached into his pocket, pulled out a large roll of currency dropping it onto the bar top with a sneer. Willy’s eyes widened into round saucers. “Whoa, that’s a lot of dough.” He snatched it out of sight before anyone else could see.

“Tonight, I have killed many unworthy opponents seeking information on local matters.” The revelation came with a cool veneer as if murdering a few unsuspecting victims was the norm. “You have been named as one who may have the answers I require.”

“M—m—me?” Stuttering nervously in front of a vampire was never good. It gave them a thrill, confirmation of their intimidation power. They could taste fear itself. “G-getting a little close to daylight for you vamps, ain’t it? Maybe you should come back tonight.”

Gulping down a swig of Scotch, Willy ignored the burn and tried to focus on what he was saying. He silently cursed the fact that he had let Tiny off an hour early once the bulk of the customers had gone home, and edged toward the register where he stashed a stake he kept for emergencies.

“That need not concern you, human,” he gestured in an elegantly European way. “My master desires to find someone of particular importance. I suggest that you reveal all you know.”

99: The Avalon, Regency Street Luxury Apartments

Nicolau and Isobel_Bed

Hues of yellow, pink and orange appeared on the horizon signaling the night’s end. Nicolau felt the dawn’s arrival even before the light peeped through the closed slats of the Venetian blinds. His beloved Isobel lay beside him, half draped across his chest, content and exhausted from hours of energetic sex.

Although tired, he could not let himself sleep without knowing the identity of the one who had stolen their sacrifice. It was not a simple matter of choosing another human to replace her. The powerful magicks involved to identify her had brought down a rain of fire from the heavens. Without her presence, the Rites of Tavrok would fail to open the portal, and the House of Solaris would never achieve the greatness it deserved.

Anger swelled within him. For centuries, the vampires of his clan had followed the path laid out for them by the Master of Solaris, worshipping a demon god when their kindred eschewed such religion. Their link to Amolon promised a power no others possessed. Even now, the demon’s power reached across the dimensional barrier to grant the clan’s master vampires a taste of that power.

Through the centuries, it gave them an edge and a means for survival. However, even the strongest of their minions remained as vulnerable any other to the power of the sun. Anton, voluntarily turned to vampirism over a century ago, had still not returned from his assigned task. Multitalented, he was possessed of a cool head and a thick cock that made him quite useful to both Nico and Isobel on a number of levels.

Their sire bond provided a connection allowing him to sense Anton’s general wellbeing, but it was impossible to tell if he had run afoul of trouble that might prevent his return. With every passing moment, the morning light brightened. Soon it would be impossible to track the human and her vampire captor. No doubt, the dark-haired vampiress would have gone underground by now, or found some dark refuge in which to hide from the deadly rays of the sun.

The others minions he had sent out had returned within the past hour safe and sound. Their discoveries were interesting, but useless. Stories about Slayers filled his ears, but there were none to point directly to the missing sacrifice. One had procured a name for the girl, Cordelia Chase. Knowing it might prove useful, but time was of the essence.

“Anton will return,” Isobel stirred against him trying to reassure him. Propping her chin on her hand as it rested on his chest, she said, “If he fails to bring good news we can torture him until you feel better.”

Mischief glittered in her eyes, but Nicolau knew his lover would happily make it a reality if he so desired it. “Save your enthusiasm for our prey’s captor. I will discover the truth about her involvement one way or another.”

Nicolau had no doubt that he would find the elusive Cordelia Chase. It only angered him that he was inconvenienced into conducting this search. He was already looking forward to making her captor pay for involving him in such a menial chore, especially if she was whom he suspected. The description of her dark beauty matched that of his memory, stirring his insatiable lust, but also trepidation. He did not care to admit that he could feel fear, even to himself, causing anger to bloom inside him.

A knock sounded. Finally, Anton had returned. Rising from the bed careless of his nude state, he issued a clipped order. “Enter.”

The anger he felt remained, but the only hint of it was his stone cold mask of irritation. Anton ignored it with his usual aplomb. “I have news, master.”

“Dragging in at the crack of dawn will not save you from my wrath.” He fully considered taking out his anger upon no matter what information he gathered, or better yet, letting Isobel turn her vicious skills upon Anton’s pale flesh while he watched the action. “Tell me something I want to hear.”

Head bowed, Anton approached and then kneeled before him. “Forgive the delay, Sire. It could not be avoided. You will be pleased.”

Isobel elevated herself onto her elbow, the sheet draping loosely across her hip, leaving her beautiful rose-tipped breasts bare. Pleasing Nicolau was her greatest joy, no matter the form it took. Disappointing their sire often meant facing her wrath as well as his. “Do tell, Anton. Where do we find our missing Varstrae?”

Keeping his eyes on the floor, Anton admitted that he did not have a location. “I have a name,” he hastened to tell his master. “One I think you will recognize.”

100: Angel’s Bedroom, Crawford Street Mansion


The quiet stillness of contentment faded layer by layer. Flashing images of blood, the taste of fear, familiar faces passing in an array of light. Cordelia fitfully stirred in her sleep, a sense of danger compelling her to awaken. Brown eyes darted open wide and scared, a look of panic echoing her inner fears.

Calling out, “Angel,” on a frightened gasp she found him already there beside her. He lay on his side watching her.

Silently, he folded his arms around her slender form, spooning close, wrapping her in a protective cocoon. Cordelia’s eyes shuttered closed again at the touch of his lips to her cheek. He knew as well as she that the demons chasing her in her dreams were all too real. They could not be forgotten with the dawning of a new day.

Snuggling closer, Cordelia slowly realized they were both naked. Angel’s body felt warm as if he had drawn on her natural heat all night. He felt so good against her, his solid muscle, iron strength, gentle hands, and something else thickening insistently along the curve of her bottom.


Cordelia caught her lower lip between her teeth and did not know whether to giggle or groan. He was insatiable, her vampire, but she was still a little sore. A soft moan sounded in her ear when she shifted back. His hand trailed down the center of her torso to palm the flat plane of her belly holding her still.

After a moment where Angel seemed to get it together, he asked her softly, “Bad dreams?”


She waited for the questions to come. Ready to rattle off a quick explanation and a curt, “I’m fine,” Cordelia discovered that it wasn’t quite that easy to lie to him. “I’m scared,” the truth came out instead. “They killed Bev. They want to sacrifice me to their demon god. My life sucks— except for you.”

Angel kissed her shoulder and then rested his chin there as he held her. Just letting her talk. Ignoring the fact that he was still hard. Providing quiet support despite the fact that his libido did not seem to have an off switch. They had made love almost all night. Little cat naps were essential to her, but Cordelia doubted he’d slept.

“I’ve been watching over you,” Angel admitted when she asked. Keeping tabs on the door more like it. Wondering if the Scoobies would come barging in at any moment. God! They were probably still down there.

Cordelia flushed at the embarrassing thought, but a part of her reveled over the idea that Angel belonged to her now. No more hiding their relationship. Buffy would just have to suck it up. Xander, too. She dreaded the thought of facing them, but knew it could not be avoided. Better to get it done quick like ripping off a Band-Aid really fast. It would sting, but the pain would be over faster that way.

“I better get up,” Cordelia really didn’t feel like moving. It felt so good being held by Angel. He was not making a big deal about his morning wood as if sensing she had reached her limit for their first night together. Though she had to admit that despite being sore, it made her hot knowing how much she turned him on.

He had shown her that repeatedly last night. With his hands exploring her sensitive curves, fingers circling, tweaking and expertly rubbing spots that left her shuddering with pleasure. Or the way his mouth and that talented tongue said so much without saying a word. God! The time he had spent with his head between her thighs.

Just the thought of it made her lick her lips remembering the taste of their passion. Angel’s kisses had robbed her of any thought beyond the desire to let him take her. It thrilled her and scared her the way he made her feel. How he filled her up, each time better than the last.

Leaving his bed felt so wrong. Cordelia crawled to the edge. His fingertips smoothed down the length of her leg barely touching her until his hand wrapped around her ankle holding her there. On her hands and knees, she glanced over her shoulder to find him staring with lazy lust darkening his eyes.

“Forget something?”

Cordelia boldly let her gaze drop to the bulging sheet wrapped loosely around his hips. Then flicking her eyes up to meet his smiled saucily, “No, I don’t think so.”

Shifting upward, Angel tugged her back into his lap so quickly that Cordelia let out a short squeal. Her long hair flew wildly around her shoulders landing in a tangled nest of silky strands over her shoulders. Coasting his hand along her spine, he fisted it in the hair at her nape.

Her hands fluttered to a stop at his broad shoulders seeking balance. Angel tilted her head back exposing the long cord of her neck, pressed his mouth there. She felt the blunt scrape of his teeth along a tender patch of skin. That spot just turned him on in ways that were all too obvious. Strangely, after the first flash of panic last night she had not worried about him biting her.

Now he loosened his grip, sliding it around to tilt her chin, to bring her mouth to his. Soft and tender, the soothing press of his lips asked for nothing. It was over all too soon. Little more than a peck that left her mouth tingling. “Good morning,” Angel’s voice rumbled huskily in his throat.

Just an inch or two away, Cordelia murmured, “Morning,” with a little whisper of surprise. That was not quite what she expected. He leaned back on his hands to watch her as she straddled his lap. Aroused, but content to let her go as if sensing that she needed some space.

Indirect light filtered into the ever-brightening room. Cordelia enjoyed staring back at Angel and watching the light play across the pale expanse of his chest. The heavy muscles of his arms stretched as he leaned back. His belly was taut but for that tasty bit that pooched out just enough to sink her teeth into. She’d learned a lot about what Angel liked, but had a feeling it only scratched the surface.

His eyes were eating her up, too, Cordelia noted, blushing at the open appreciation. “You’re staring.”

Angel pointed out, “So are you.”

Cordelia grinned, snatching the sheet around her. “Now that we’ve established that we’re both hot, I think I’d better get moving. There’s stuff I need to do today. To begin with I need to take a long, hot shower. I wouldn’t want to offend any super-sensitive noses.”

Moving off the bed dragging the sheet with her gained Cordelia a long look at Angel stretched out on the bed. Mmm, Salty Goodness! All mine. A little smirk quirked the corners of her mouth into a smile. She continued to back step toward the bathroom, almost reluctant to turn away from the sight of him.

“You know we could try to conserve water,” Angel casually hopped off the bed. He took two strides forward until Cordelia let out a strangled gasping giggle. It ended in a little snort. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” Cordelia snorted again, turning her head away and reddening from head to toe.

Standing with a hand on one hip, Angel scrubbed the other across the nape of his neck. He was so casual about his nudity. As if modesty was something he had never learned or simply forgotten. Considering that she had been staring at his body when the giggles started, she managed to hit a raw nerve.

“You’re not going to say that I’m fat again, are you?” Well it wasn’t exactly his belly that had her attention.

Cordelia closed her mouth and shook her head. Then burst into giggles again when Angel took another step forward. “Sorry! Honest. I-I was looking at— it.”

Speechless, Angel’s gaze dropped in a southerly direction. There was nothing worth giggling about as far as he could tell. Women did not laugh when they looked at his penis. At least no one had until now. His worries over Cordy thinking he was fat were forgotten quickly.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Angel emphasized the last word as she did. He stepped closer forcing Cordelia to lift her gaze upward just because of his proximity.

“Not that I could tell,” Cordelia giggled even harder when realizing that Angel did not exactly get the joke. “It’s just—”

Angel barked worriedly, “What?”

“When you move around like that,” Cordelia walked her fingers across the space in between them, “it bobs. Y’know, like it’s waving around saying, ‘Hellooooo, Cordy’.” She quickly stifled the errant snort that escaped by lifting the corner of the sheet to her mouth.

The tension in Angel’s face vanished.

“That’s fun.” Cordelia wondered if it was evil of her to have Angel and sex on the brain when she should be thinking about serious stuff. Like going with Giles to see Bev’s body, she thought, instantly sobering up. “I’m gonna go shower now.”

Having had his plan for a little water conservation cut short, he tried again with, “I’m good with soap—” only to be cut off.

“No! No,” she softened her response on the next try. “Shower sharing is a little, um, personal.”

Confused by the mixed signals, Angel started to worry that he had moved too fast. He had taken advantage of her vulnerable situation again. No matter that Cordelia had been more than eager to make love last night, it wasn’t necessarily the best choice. Now he was pushing for more than she could handle. The curse reverberating in his head must have been apparent.

Cordelia stepped forward to lay her hand along his face. “I want to,” she told him, “just not now. I can’t ignore what I’ve got to do today. If I’m going down to the Police Station, I’ve got to get showered and dressed. It’ll be faster if we behave ourselves.”

Looking mollified, Angel took her hand in his sliding it over to press a kiss into her palm. “Go ahead. I’ll use one of the other rooms.”


Angel started to turn away, but stopped to say, “I’m sorry I can’t go with you today. I want to help you through this.”

The tears she thought she had locked away seemed to swell up again. Blinking them away again, Cordelia let him know that she’d prefer him there to Giles. “You’d be a crispy critter if I let you tag along, so no thanks. Besides, it’s not like we’re joined at the hip. Mister Melty Face won’t want me as a sacrifice. I’m not a virgin anymore.”

“Cordy, the Crosathnam doesn’t know that.”

“He was pretty quick about sensing my ‘purity’ the first time I saw him,” she sourly reminded him. Those snoopy demon senses were way too sensitive.

Angel hated the thought of letting her out of his sight. Cordelia was not exactly thrilled with the idea, either. It meant that Buffy & Co. would have to take her over to Giles’ place. Her thoughts switched direction. “I suppose they’re still down there wondering what we’ve been doing.”

Scenes 81 – 90        HOME       Scenes 101 – 110

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