The Clock Ticks


Tale of a broody, penny-pinching old miser.

  • CONTENTS:   Angel-pov in AtS
  • CATEGORY:   Holiday Fic / Christmas
  • RATING:   G
  • LENGTH:   Short Story / 1,000 words
  • STATUS:   Completed

The Clock Ticks

Embraced by the supple leather of his favorite chair, Angel had spent the past several hours reading. More precisely, he’d spent them not reading and it wasn’t for the lack of trying. The distraction of his thoughts made the words swim on the pages.

He usually enjoyed the quiet lull of the hotel when the others were away. Time was his own and he would let it slip by careless of its passing. Lately, the quiet became a void where peacefulness turned to restlessness. The silence seemed lonely.

Before Cordelia, there was a time getting lost in a book always served to pass the hours, but not recently. Not since Cordy became a necessary part of his daily routine. Angel recognized that his contentment with such solitary activities had dwindled.

He’d become accustomed to the noise, the interruptions and the general chaos that ensued. Cordelia had ways of turning his ordered world topsy-turvy. Things seemed too quiet without her around.

According to the post-it note on his door, Cordelia and Fred had gone Christmas shopping. He’d been pleased that the girls were out having a little holiday fun for once. Wes and Gunn never bothered with cute little post-it notes. Their absence from the hotel wasn’t so distracting, either.

Before Cordelia, Angel would have been grateful for a few hours of solitude. Now he didn’t even find reading relaxing. The words on the page blurred. He’d re-read one particular paragraph several times, but his interest faded. Closing the book, he leaned his head back onto the plush leather staring at the ceiling.

Angel found his attention focused on the wall clock emitting a measured beat he usually filtered out as background noise. Now a loud irritant, tick, tock, tick, tock, it sounded out the passing of seconds that merged into minutes he counted one by one.

Then the front door opened jolting him out of his stupor. Angel heard the rustle of shopping bags and the unmistakable sound of Cordy’s laughter. She was back. He felt himself relaxing, tension that he hadn’t noticed before now fading away.

“Looks like Scroogey McBrood is still upstairs,” Cordelia complained to Fred. Angel found himself smiling and imagining the expression on Cordy’s face. That led to picturing her wind-kissed cheeks and the rosy hue of her lips which caused him to miss Fred’s response.

A twinge of guilt steered him clear of anything remotely resembling a Cordelia fantasy. Besides, he should be irritated at the suggestion that he was a brooding, penny-pinching old miser. He didn’t have enough money to be a miser. So it was only natural that he spent it prudently.

Nor was he up here brooding. Angel glanced down at the closed book in his hand. He was reading— or trying to read.

“Get out the wrapping paper, Fred,” he heard Cordy say. “Let’s do this quick. You never know when the guys will be back. We’ll start with Angel’s presents.”

The clock’s ticking faded as Angel focused on her voice, a smile spreading across his face as he realized the last few words were spoken even more loudly than the others. It was either an invitation to join them or a warning to stay away.

Curiosity won out. Despite making no noise on the way down the stairs, Cordelia turned just as he reached the bottom step. Carrying a roll of wrapping paper, she walked over and lightly jabbed him in the stomach with one end.

“What kept you?” Her warm smile tugged at his heart. “I expected you down here thirty seconds ago.”

Explaining that he’d been reading, Angel watched as Cordelia’s brows arched high with disbelief. “Hah! Eavesdropping, you mean.” She jabbed again, playfully.

“I heard noises,” Angel said making a grab for the end of the roll. He tugged until she fell forward into his arms still laughing at him. “We wouldn’t want to miss a client.”

Snorting, Cordelia threw her arms around him, hugging him. Just a few seconds of feeling her warmth seep through his clothes and the sensation of her curves pressed against him made his head spin. The temptation to draw her closer was almost overwhelming, but he let her go.

Cordy snatched the wrapping paper away and twirled it like a baton. “Go back to your book if it’s so awful to keep us company,” she shrugged and then shouldered the paper roll. “Fred and I can handle this on our own, can’t we, Fred?”

“Sure,” chirped Fred wisely siding with Cordelia.

There was a time Angel wouldn’t have hesitated to take Cordy up on the offer to escape back to the quiet solitude of his room. Not anymore. It was impossible to ignore his need to be near her even if he ended up tangled in wrapping paper and ribbons.

Once, he would have squandered such a potentially silly experience, but that was before Cordelia. Without him realizing it she’d brought life into his existence. With Cordy around, Angel suddenly felt like no longer letting it pass by.

The End.

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