Archive for July 5, 2015

Bad Timing. 18   1 comment

Part 18: Aftermath

Hours later, Angel was staring at a teen pregnancy poster on the wall of the hospital waiting room. He had been looking at it for hours.

There were plenty of magazines on the table and Fred and Gunn were there if he wanted to talk, but all he could handle right now was staring at the girl on the wall. Her eyes looked so sad. At least her eyes were open. When he had last seen Cordelia, her eyes had been closed. Fear gripped Angel.

What if I never get a chance to see her eyes again?

Everyone else had gone home around three, once a doctor had emerged from the intensive care unit and informed them that while Cordelia had not yet regained consciousness, her condition was no longer critical. They had pumped massive amounts of blood into her and she had a concussion, but all signs pointed to a full recovery.

Too bad I won’t be having a full recovery any time soon. Angel had found relief in the doctors words but the intense fear was still there, coloring every moment that passed. He needed to see her. He needed to see those eyes, hear her heartbeat, watch her lips quirk into a smile. He needed Cordelia.

And this time, I’m going to make sure she hears it, how important she is to me. And then we’re going to take her back home and send the Scoobies back to the Hellmouth and I’m going to sit her down and tell her…What? What can I possibly tell her?

That despite the fact that I’m a vampire and despite the fact that she found me kissing Buffy, I’d really like to take her out sometime? That I like her in a more than friends way and that should cancel out the fact that she has suffered more pain than any person deserves in a lifetime? Angel thought back to the question he had asked Lorne the night of the ballet. What could he possibly offer Cordelia?

“Angel,” Fred said quietly. He hadn’t even heard her approach. “The nurse just came out. She said that Cordy woke up. She’s still pretty groggy but you can go in and see her if you…” Angel was already halfway down the hall.

***

In the doorway outside Cordelia’s room, Angel stopped, taking a deep, though unnecessary breath. She was so pale. He watched as she gingerly sat up in bed. She moved one way and must have pulled at the stitches, releasing a small gasp of pain. Angel unknowingly sucked in air too, mimicking her.

“Do you mind making sure those shades are pulled down all the way,” Cordy asked the nurse who had been making notes on her vitals. Her voice was hoarse—a frightening resemblance to when her visions had caused physical manifestations.

Noting the woman’s odd look, Cordelia made up an excuse. “I just don’t feel like seeing the sun right now.” The nurse nodded and moved to secure the shades. Cordelia absently picked at the large white bandage affixed to her side.

“Also, do you think you could go get one of my friends?”

“I don’t think that would be a problem,” the nurse answered, smiling. She walked back over and rearranged Cordelia’s blankets. “What’s your friend look like?”

“Oh he’ll be easy to find. Tall, dark, very hot in that mysterious bad boy kind of way.”

The nurse looked up and saw Angel in the doorway. “Let me guess? A penchant for black leather?”

Cordelia’s mouth dropped open. “How’d you—” she asked before noticing where the nurse was looking. Cordy turned to the door and smiled. “Angel.” Neither of them moved or said anything, and the nurse, who had seen more than her share of day time soap operas, knew that was her cue to leave.

Even then, Angel still stood just inside the doorway, not quite sure how to proceed.

“How are you?” Okay, so it’s not the most original line in the world, especially considering the fact that I had hours to prepare.

“Well, I’m clearly out of the running for that part of bikini-clad extra on that episode of ‘VIP’, but other than that, I’m fine. Alive. So I guess I’m doing better than you.”

“That’s a given.” Of course she’s doing better than me. She didn’t have to watch the person she loves nearly die. She hasn’t spent the last four hours wondering how she would go on living if her reason for living was gone.

“I know I look like hell Angel, but I don’t have cooties. Come over here,” Cordy ordered.

Angel did as commanded, coming to stand next to her bed. She wasn’t yelling at him and she seemed to have forgotten everything at Caritas but Angel had learned enough about her in the past three years to know that wasn’t true and that they would have to talk about it, soon. But if she didn’t want do deal with it now, he would follow her lead.

He would follow her anywhere. Before he could stop himself, he reached for her hand and squeezed, brushing his thumb over her pulse point because he needed proof that she was indeed okay. She squeezed his hand back and closed her eyes and it took all 250 years of willpower to not climb into bed and grab her and promise to devote the rest of his eternal life to keeping her safe and happy.

“Are all those kids from the park okay?” she asked. Angel could only nod. “How’s everyone else?”

“Fine. Worried about you. I sent everyone but Fred and Gunn home. I tried to get them to go, but even without the Cordettes, you still seem to have one hell of a fan club.” Before she could smile at his barb, Angel continued. “How did this happen?”

Suddenly Cordy’s eyes were everywhere, her gaze darting all around the room but avoiding him entirely. “Oh you know. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten in the way of a big slimy demon. You look exhausted Broody Boy. The sun’s up, which means you’re up way past bedtime. Better get home before Wesley grounds you.”

She’s hiding something. Does she really think I won’t notice something’s up?

“Cor,” Angel said but then he looked at her. Yes, they needed to talk, about how she got hurt and about what happened at the bar and about the fact that somewhere along the line he just might have fallen in love with his best friend. But not right now. She needed to rest. Talking could wait. It would have to.

So, instead of pressing the issue, he just leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Get some rest,” he murmured.

“You too. And Angel,” she called, “give Connor a smooch for me.” He nodded and slowly walked out the door.

***

For the second night in a row, Buffy had been unable to sleep. Of course, she had gotten into bed a little before four in the morning, so calling it night was stretching it. Suddenly, the door to her room opened.

She reached under her pillow for Mr. Pointy before seeing the light from the hall shining on red hair. Willow. Buffy motioned her closer and gestured to be quiet as to not wake up Dawn. Willow nodded and sat on the bed.

“Fred and Gunn just got in. Cordelia woke up. They said she’s fine…I mean, considering.”

Buffy only nodded, sitting up with her arms around her knees.

Good. That’s good. Cordelia’s okay. She’s going to be fine and me and Angel kissed and everything is going to be okay. Except for the fact that Angel looked like he wanted to cry when we first got to the hospital and discounting the fact that the kiss itself hadn’t felt, I don’t know, right.

“Buffy? You came here for Angel, didn’t you? To, what, start up again?” Willow peered into the shadows, trying to discern the expression on Buffy’s face when she failed to answer the question. “I’m going to take that as a yes. So, I’ll skip the part about how there’s still a big curse and now he’s got Connor and you two live in two different places which might as well be two different worlds.”

“I appreciate you skipping that part,” Buffy said, dryly.

“But Buffy, there’s something you need to think about. People, they, they change. They grow—”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with him growing—I happen to think Angel looks good with a few extra pounds on him.” Although actually, I so don’t. Who wants cuddly, who needs hulking size? I’d much rather have someone lean, a body carved out of granite, all bone and sinew and oh dear god stop this right now.

“Regardless,” Willow said, “people change physically and EMOTIONALLY. They start to want different things.”

“Angel and I have always wanted one thing,” Buffy blurted out before remembering that Dawn was sleeping less than five feet away. “To be together,” she continued in a more quiet voice. For a moment Willow just looked at her and Buffy wondered why it seemed so impossible to look her best friend in the eyes.

“Buffy. Xander told me. He told me about how Angel was when he saw her get hurt. He said he’s only seen that look once before. That time with the Master.”

“What’s your point Willow,” Buffy asked, having a sinking feeling she knew exactly what Will’s point was. “What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying,” Willow paused, pursing her lips, wondering how the best way to put this was. “Cordelia. I’m talking about Cordelia.” There. It was out in the open.

“What? They’re FRIENDS.”

“Did you know he jumped into another dimension to save her? Twice? Did you know that she sleeps here sometimes Buffy, and when she sleeps here, do you know where she sleeps?”

Please don’t say his bed. Please don’t say with him. Buffy didn’t give Willow a chance to answer the question. Well, even if that’s true, it has to be totally innocent. Angel does have a soul to worry about. Willow’s just misinterpreting. She’s just confused.

“I get that they’re close Will. But, it’s not like that.” It can’t be like that. That would ruin everything. “It’s like a, a brother/sister thing. Like you and Xander.”

Willow had the audacity to snort at that. “I was in love with Xander for years.”

“Okay, so bad example.” Moving on now. “That doesn’t mean—”

Willow held up her hand, cutting Buffy off. “I talked to Fred. She told me lots of things, things you would be very interested in hearing. Things you should hear even if you aren’t interested, actually. Cordy was going to die because of those visions. Did you know that?

She was going to die and she didn’t tell anyone, no one, and she gave up every chance she had of getting rid of them. Does that sound like the Cordelia we know? Or the one we thought we knew?”

Buffy didn’t know what to make of that information. She couldn’t deal with that now. She couldn’t look at Cordelia in that light. Not now anyway. “So? She likes playing martyr now—probably figures she can get more attention that way. People can fawn over how perfect she is, like she’s a fucking saint.”

“How many saints do you know that are half-demon,” Willow asked.

“WHAT,” Buffy exclaimed, again forgetting about her sleeping sister. Luckily Dawn just mumbled something and turned over.

“So she could keep the visions. She let someone make her half demon so she could keep the visions and keep helping Angel. She went demony FOR HIM.”

Okay. Cordy’s half demon. That’s big. I admit, that’s big. But it doesn’t change anything. “Fine. I buy that Cordelia’s fallen for Angel. Been there done that. Remember how she used to flirt with him at the Bronze? But so what? It’s one hell of a stretch to say that Angel likes her back. Trust me. I know Angel, I know him better than anyone.” Maybe if I keep saying it, that will be true. “He doesn’t like her. He couldn’t. Not like that.”

“You honestly believe that? You believe he only cares about her in a friendly platonic way? Cause, you know, Buffy, you’re MY friend but how often do I straddle you on the floor of a hotel lobby? How often do we make goo-goo eyes at each other across the room?”

“Goo-goo eyes?” Buffy repeated, hoping to distract Willow.

Willow wouldn’t be put off track. “Yes. They have been big with the making of goo-goo eyes. You would have seen it. If you were letting yourself actually see them together. Because, I think, and I’m pretty sure Xander and Dawn would agree, that since the minute we walked in the door, you’ve only seen what you want to see.”

That’s completely not true. Does she think I want to see Cordelia playing Mommy to Angel’s child? Does she think I wanted to walk in on Angel sniffing Cordelia’s sweater? Cause, I didn’t want to see any of that. Buffy wanted out of this conversation. NOW.

“Why are you saying all this Willow? What? Are you jealous that Angel and I are together again and I have someone while you…don’t. Are you sure this isn’t all about you and Tara?” Oh god. Why did I say that? I didn’t WANT to see her face look like that again. I made her face look like that. What’s wrong with me?

“Will. I, I didn’t mean that.”

Willow stood up and smoothed out her pajamas. Hurt flared in her eyes, but her voice was calm. “I don’t want to fight with you Buffy. We both need some sleep. I shouldn’t have come here and started this conversation in the middle of the night, or day, or whatever the hell it is. I, I just wanted…” Willow sighed.

“Let’s talk about it tomorrow, err, today. Uh, I give up.” She walked towards the door than stopped. Not turning around, she added, “Things are different though Buffy. You need to be aware of that.” She left.

Buffy leaned back on the pillow. Willow would probably pass out if she knew just how different things had gotten. If she knew how scared Buffy was all the time. If she knew how Buffy hadn’t felt right since she came back. If she knew Buffy had slept with Spike, worse, how Buffy had liked sleeping with Spike.

She’d be sickened. Because I’m disgusting.

Everything had gotten so messy, so very…gray. Buffy missed the black and white. She hated the messy. I’m fixing it though. It’s going to get better. Buffy shut her eyes and tried not to think about how she had kissed Angel and waited for the fire. How the fire never came. Funny how there was always fire with Spike.

So much fire she could get lost in the flames.

Part 19

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 17   1 comment

Part 17: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Buffy wondered how after years spent fighting vampires and demons, after meeting Dracula himself, and after coming back from the dead, how it was possible that she could still be surprised. How anything could shock her.

How she could still look at life and think, “Well, that’s odd.”

Because she was officially surprised, shocked, and the whole situation definitely struck her as odd.

I guess this isn’t the wierdest thing I’ve ever seen. I mean, there was that year that everyone wore those Levi’s T-shirts that said “Button Your Fly.” And that time I caught Giles listening to gangster rap alone in his apartment. Wouldn’t have pegged him as a Snoop fan. But still, this…

“This” was Cordelia. Cordelia fighting. Fighting with proficiency, grace, and more than a little style. Although if you ask me, using a sword is a tad showy. We’re fighting vampires, all you really need to do is stake them. You could use, like, a pencil. There’s really no need to execute a back flip and cut their heads off. And I like to get in one last flippant remark before I kill them. Where’s her biting before-death one liner? It lacks finesse.

The whole operation had lacked finesse. Willow had volunteered to take Dawn home and had left the rest of the group bickering outside Caritas over who would ride with who. Gunn didn’t want to be in the same car as Xander, Xander wanted to sit up front but Spike said no way was Xander sitting next to him. They probably would have been there for hours if Cordy hadn’t silently shaken her head and gone and sat in the passenger seat of Spike’s car.

While Xander whined that Cordy hadn’t even bothered to call “Shotgun” Angel had just watched Cordy while Buffy watched him watching Cordy. His face seemed so stony and impassive. She hadn’t seen him look like that since…well since she and him were dating. The muscles in his jawbone clenched and unclenched in a way that made it hard to tell if he was sad or angry or what.

Wow, he really is reminding me of the good old days. Before Angel got all chatty and able to express his feelings. God that was hot.

Finally Angel just walked up, grabbed a still-complaining Xander, and bodily steered him into the front seat of HIS car. Gunn, Fred and Buffy immediately hopped in the back, even though it killed Buffy to leave Cordy and Spike alone in the car together. They seemed to be having a progressively worse influence on each other.

And bad things happen when a man and a woman are alone in a car together. Bad, naughty things. I will so kill him if he touches her. No wait, I’ll kill her if she touches him. No wait, I’ll kill them both.

At that point it was too late to hop out of the car and commit double homicide, so Buffy just ground her teeth and plotted as the two cars sped off. The drive, at least from her point of view, was quite possibly the most uncomfortable car ride of her life. And that was including the time in high school when Xander had given her a ride home after she caught him giving himself a hand in Giles’s office.

They had followed Cordy and Spike to the park. The entire group had run, weapons out, to a picnic table on the edge of the clearing, where a group of about ten teens were gathered. They had been met with laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.

“What’s wrong with you people? Who are you freaks? Is this some weird role play shit. Get a life you D&D wierdos!”

Of course the laughter had stopped when a group of vampires had arrived. Then it was all “Help! Monsters! Help!”. They had been only to eager to follow Fred to safety while the rest of the group held of the vampires.

And now, here Buffy was, watching Cordy in the thick of the fight. Where’s the girl who worried about her manicure? Who never said thank you when we saved her? Buffy shook off her reflection and noticed that Cordy was actually not in the thick of the fight anymore. She was running away. I would have said that was typical, but this new improved Cordy the Vampire Killer doesn’t seem like the type to run out in the middle.

Buffy looked to where she was running and saw an old wooden playground across the soccer field from the picnic area. Cordy wasn’t running away, she was running to. Because on the two swings of the playground two kids were making out, apparently oblivious to the fact that their friends had just all run for their lives.

Buffy started running after her.

***

Cordelia’s shoes had cost two weeks salary. That was what was running through her mind as she raced toward the old playground. She couldn’t handle worrying about whether or not she would get there in time to rescue the Romeo and Juliet. She certainly couldn’t use the time to begin to process the horribleness of finding Buffy in Angel’s arms.

So I’ll think about my lovely new expensive shoes and the lovely blister that is forming on my heel. If only they made Jimmy Choos suitable for vampire slaying. Who knows. Maybe they do. I should ask Buffy about that.

The thought made Cordy want to laugh. Like Buffy knew designers. Everything about her screamed fashionably low-cost. The girl was Steve Madden, not Manola Blahnik.

Cordelia barreled towards the playground and the two teens finally unlocked their lips to stare at the woman who looked like she was about to have a heart attack.

“You two,” Cordy huffed, “have GOT” (quick breath) “to get out of here. Now.”

The boy snorted. His girlfriend stared disdainfully at Cordy, who was still trying to catch her breath. Damn you and your second hand smoke Spike.

“Um yeah, who do you think you are?” the girl asked. Cordelia noted that unlike Buffy, this girl did know Manola Blahnik. And Prada. And the diamond studs looked a lot like Harry Winston. God she hated LA teenagers. “You aren’t the cops,” the girl continued. “You can’t make us do anything. Maybe YOU should leave.”

I wonder if I was that bitchy in high school? Ha! I was probably worse. . For a brief moment, Cordelia debated leaving the little snots for the undead.

“Look, you two, you really are in danger here. You need to leave.” Cordy tried again, trying to sound authoritative as possible.

“Listen lady,” the boyfriend started, standing up.

“She’s right,” came a voice from behind Cordelia. “You need to go now.” Buffy.

Cordy watched the boy’s face as he looked at Buffy, watched it go white and tight with fear. “Uh, okay. Yeah. Sure. We’ll go. Come on Amber.”

All right. I don’t think so. She comes over, tells them the exact same thing and it works? Why does she have the magic touch?

“Um, hi, yeah, okay.” Cordy just had to ask. “How come when I tell you to go you laugh, but Little Miss Likes to Fight, who doesn’t even know what Earl Jeans are, who can’t tell her Prada from her Payless, you listen to her? What makes her more intimidating than me? She’s only 5’2 you know. She’s like a tiny angry blond midget.”

“Hey,” Buffy said before the young man hurriedly interrupted her.

“She’s not intimidating. The guy with fangs standing behind her is intimidating,” he stated, reaching for his girlfriends hand.

As he pulled her away, she called back to Cordy, “And you really shouldn’t make fun of your friend. YOU look like Vidal Sasson puked on your head. Whatever made you think someone with your complexion could pull off those highlights.” With that, they ran off.

“Bitch,” Cordelia muttered.

“Reminds me of someone I went to high school with,” Buffy said, before choosing to focus on the matter at hand.

Cordy found herself inching closer to Buffy as three more vampires joined the party. It was relatively quiet as the vamps surrounded them, getting progressively more growly and ominous. It made Cordelia nervous.

“So, are we waiting for an umpire or can we make with the fighty,” she whispered to Buffy.

“I was waiting for someone to sing the Star Spangled Banner, but sure, we can start. Now good for you boys?” Buffy asked.

For a while, as kicks and punches flew, both girls stayed relatively silent. Both were aware it wouldn’t last long.

“Cordy,” Buffy said as she dodged a blow to her side.

“Hmmm,” she replied. She was trying not to laugh. The vampire in the vest had just tried to use that Karate Kid move. Vampires and cable television were a dangerous mix.

“Stay away from Spike,” Buffy told Cordy in a faux-nonchalant way.

“Now, why, Buffy, would I do that,” Cordelia replied. Why don’t you stay away from Angel. Why don’t you go home? Why don’t you ever bother to exfoliate? “Spike and I have a good time together. Unlike some people, I manage to relate to the men in my life without all the angst and violence.”

“Spike’s not a man.” Buffy said grimly. “And he’s…you just can’t…Stay away from him.”

“Yeah, well, you stay away from Angel,” Cordy said before she could stop herself. This was not territory she felt like entering tonight.

“What!”

Of course, now that the door was open, Cordy couldn’t very well turn around. “That’s right. Stay away from Angel. Cause you know, there’s no harm that can come from me hanging out with Spike. But every time you and Angel cross paths, it’s like the end of the world. Literally.”

Without turning around from the beating she was giving the vampire in blue, Buffy said, “Ohhhh, sounds like someone’s more than a little jealous.”

Damn right I’m jealous Cordy thought. But that’s not what she said. She said, “Please. I just have a profound desire not to have my boss turn evil and eat me.”

Buffy snorted. “Sure. I don’t believe that for a second. How long have you been trying to get in Angel’s pants? Six years now? I’ve been here two days and he was all over me.”

Cordy hissed as a vampire landed a blow to her thigh. “Yeah, if only I’d known that all it took to seduce Angel was an off-key country song. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Caritas, making out in a bar? That’s soooo freshman year of college.”

“And just how would you know that Cordelia? YOU didn’t ever go to college,” Buffy spat out.

Cordelia half turned away from the vampire, figuring it would be a lot more fun to just beat the hell out of Buffy. While she debated the pros and cons of picking a fight with the Chosen One, the vamp clipped her across the face. Oh no. I don’t think so.

“How many times have I told you guys…NOT THE FACE!” Cordy screamed. WIthout even thinking she reached down and pulled off one of her precious Jimmy Choos and slammed the wooden stiletto heel into his chest.

“Not too shabby,” Buffy said as the vampire turned to dust. “You know, it pains me to say this, but you’re not entirely awful at this,” she continued, flipping a vampire over her back before turning and staking him.

“Thanks,” Cordy replied just as grudgingly, as she tried to adjust to fighting with one shoe on and one shoe off. “Do you know how much money I save by working out this way instead of going to the gym?”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to deal with demon goo when you take a spin class,” Buffy pointed out.

They had been staking while they were talking and Cordy a little surprised when she realized that they had dusted them all. “That’s the last one,” she said quietly.

“Yeah. But, I don’t know. My spidey sense is still tingling.”

Cordy groaned. “More vampires? Yuck. I’m starting to sweat you know. This dress was not created for sweating.” That wasn’t the only reason she hoped the fighting was over. I want to go home. I want to be alone. Alone. Like I am going to be for the rest of my life. Wow, that’s depressing. I feel like I should go eat one of those entire Sara Lee cakes or something. That always seems to work for women in those Lifetime movies.

***

Cordy had asked if it was more vampires but Buffy didn’t think there were. Something, however, was definitely up.

“You know, it doesn’t feel so much vampy as it feels–”

“Like a big yellow-green gooey demon with scary sharp claws,” Cordy interrupted, eyes huge.

Buffy sighed. Questionably cut hair or not, Cordelia was still asking inane questions. Not that much had changed. “Cordelia, my spidey sense isn’t that specific,” Buffy started to explain. Then all of the sudden Cordy was running at her. She barely had time to brace her body for impact when Cordelia slammed into her and sent her flying.

What the fuck? Cordelia wants to fight me? Someone’s gotten a little to big for her brand new slaying britches. Looks like it’s time to teach someone a lesson.

Buffy turned and saw the big gooey demon Cordy had spoken of. It was halfway down the slide Buffy had just been standing in front of when it launched itself at Cordelia. All the training in the world couldn’t have gotten her out of the way in time and one of the demon’s claws sliced into her stomach. Then the demon flung Cordelia to the ground,leaving Buffy no time to contemplate the fact that Cordy may very well have just saved her life.

She hopped off the ground and stood facing the demon. “Why do you guys always have to pick fights? Can’t we all just get along?”

“You killed my minions,” the demon said, surprisingly articulate for a big slimy mess of a creature.

“You have vampire minions?” Buffy asked. She knew now wasn’t the time to question evil alliances, but it really struck her as out of the ordinary.

“A demon needs followers. The cults and militias ate up a big chunk of the available human minions. So I have to make do with the leftovers.”

“Umm, okay. Well. Sorry?” Buffy offered. She didn’t really feel like fighting anymore and she needed to make sure Cordy was okay. “Can’t you just find more followers and we call it a day?”

“Do you know how hard it is to find good minions? Vampires aren’t known for their loyalty, they are very fickle creatures. I was paying those guys. A LOT.”

Buffy was about to suggest he just write it off as a business expense but realized this wasn’t a conflict she could talk through. She would have to fight.Damn, I’ve already broken three nails. Deciding nice nails just wasn’t in the cards for her, she attacked.

Buffy landed a kick to the demons head. Cordy was right. Sometimes slaying was better than Tae-Bo. Speaking of Cordy….

“Hey, are you okay Cordelia?” Buffy asked.

“Oh, just peachy. This is in no way worse than the rebar incident,” Cordy answered. Buffy was a little worried though. Her voice sounded different. Breathy. Buffy narrowly missed being disemboweled and decided the demon needed to die. Soon.

“Hey Cordelia,” Buffy called. “Mister Pointy isn’t exactly effective against this guy. Any ideas?”

Moving like she was underwater, almost drunkenly, Cordelia tossed her purse to Buffy.

Oh well. Better than nothing. Buffy started hitting the demon over the head with the purse. She figured there was probably enough makeup and nail polish in there to slow him down.

“No. IN the bag,” Cordy cried out.

Buffy tore open the purse and pulled out a stun gun. She immediately used it and once the demon was down she used the strap on Cordy’s purse to hang him from the monkey bars. He twitched a little before the lack of oxygen killed him.

God I love it when I get creative. Buffy glanced down at the stun gun. “Oh me likey. Hey, Cor, where did you get this. I gotta get me one of these bad boys.” There was no answer. “Cordelia?”

Buffy looked over to where Cordy was sitting on the ground. Actually, now she was lying down. And the ground around her, all of the sudden, it looked way too RED.

Oh shit.

***

Angel felt old. He was old, but he physically felt old, which was odd for a man who was eternally about 27. But he felt old and tired and beaten down. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the five vampires he had just personally staked.

“I got the last one,” Gunn said as the body in front of him turned to dust. Angel scanned the area to make sure Gunn was right. Honestly, he didn’t want Gunn to be right. It would be nice to fight some more. Maybe go get a late night snack. And then they could all rent a movie together.

Anything to avoid the mess I somehow managed to land myself in tonight.

Xander and Fred strolled over from the parking lot.

“Did all those kids get out okay?” Angel asked them.

Xander smirked. “Yeah, they were fine. I confiscated their alcohol though. It seemed like the right thing to do. Prevent underage drinking.” He took a pull of the bottle of Southern Comfort he held in his hand.

“I get it,” Gunn said, grabbing the bottle and taking a swig himself. “Kind of like our civic duty,” he said.

“Exactly,” Xander replied, although he still seemed slightly wary of the bigger man.

“Hey, toss that over this way,” Spike called out. “You aren’t the only ones feeling a little thirsty.”

Gunn paused, then finally rolled his eyes and gave Spike the bottle. It was the rolling of the eyes that made Angel think of Cordelia. And the fact that she was no longer anywhere in sight. Buffy had seemingly disappeared as well.

“Anyone know where Cordy and Buffy are?” Angel asked, hoping his voice didn’t betray the surprisingly high level of panic coursing through his body right then.

“I think I saw them running over to the playground over there,” Fred told him, pointing to where she had last seen the girls. The entire group slowly started to walk over that way. There was little talking but much passing of the Southern Comfort.

“Hey,” Xander said when they were halfway across the soccer field. “This might just be the drink talking, but doesn’t it look like one of those girls is on the ground?”

Spike laughed. “I’ll tell you what happened. Cordy finally told the Slayer off and Buffy gave her the old one-two punch. Or maybe just the one punch. That’s probably all it would take.”

“She better not have hit Cordy,” Gunn said menacingly.

Angel refused to think about the possibility of Buffy hitting Cordy. “Cordy can take care of herself,” he told them with finality. He was about to explain that Buffy would never purposely hit a human anyway when all of the sudden he froze.

“Did any of you guys get hurt back there?” he asked. No one answered. “Hurt, cut,anything?” They all shook their heads. Angel was confused. Maybe I’m wrong.

“No peaches, I smell it too,” Spike told him quietly. That’s all it took to send Angel racing off towards the playground.

“Why’d he run off like that,” Xander asked. “What did he smell? Is it me? Do I smell that bad? Are people running from me now? Is that it? Just tell me. You can tell me. I want to know, if I smell, I really want to know.” He was silenced when Fred of all people smacked him upside the head.

“Angel smelled blood,” she told Xander. “And if it’s not ours…”

***

“Dammit Cordelia, I told you to keep your eyes open,” Buffy told the girl on the ground harshly.

Think Buffy think. Oh shit. Oh shit. Okay, think of something besides ‘oh shit.’ Apply pressure. Yeah, that’s what you do. Apply pressure to the wound.

“Hey. Cordy. Focus. Stay awake. I think you might be going into shock.” Buffy felt pretty darn sure SHE was in shock. She could feel Cordelia’s blood flowing through her fingers.

“No,” Cordy said softly. “Shock is what I felt when I saw you in that ratty Homecoming dress of yours. This is pain.”

“What were you thinking?” Buffy couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“Well, I thought the color was all wrong for you and the cut-”

“What were you thinking TONIGHT, when you pushed me? Why did you do it?” Buffy needed to know.

“Well, you didn’t see him coming.” It sounded like Cordy was trying to stall.

“And?” Buffy wasn’t letting this one go.

“And…I desperately wanted more disfiguring scars on my stomach. They are going to be THE accessory of 2002.” Cordy’s joke would have gone over much better if she hadn’t followed it with a moan of pain.

“Anything to be trendy,” Buffy told her. “Seriously Cordelia. Why?”

For a moment, Cordelia just stared up at her. Finally she bit her lip and looked away.

“Buffy. He…when you…he couldn’t go through losing you again. I couldn’t handle watching him get over losing you again.” Cordy refused to make eye contact.

Buffy swallowed. “No one is losing anyone here.” I hope.

Cordelia finally met her eyes and smiled grimly at her and it was something closely resembling a moment, or it might have been, had Angel not run up just then. There was a pounding of feet and then there he was, on Cordelia’s other side. Angel didn’t seem to know what to say or do. He just laid a shaky hand on her cheek.

“Hey you,” Cordy told him weakly.

Angel opened his mouth then quickly shut it. It’s like he was unable to talk. His face. The look on his face made tears gather behind Buffy’s eyelids.

“Hey, Broody, I know I look like the buffet table of your dreams right now, but don’t you even think about snacking,” Cordy said. She was clearly trying to tease but Buffy and Angel could both see it was taking all of her effort. And the effort was totally wasted. No one was laughing.

***

Of course he didn’t know what to say. Of course she took the lead, trying to tease him out of his worry, even though the air was growing thick with the scent of her blood, her fear. She had been afraid and of course, I failed yet again to be there for her. Why should anything be different now?

It was ironic, her joking about him wanting to snack on her. Never had the smell of blood made him so very nauseous before.

When he had run up and saw her lying there, it made him want to die all over again. She was so pale. Buffy’s hands were covered in her blood. And all he could hear were her shallow little breaths and the too rapid beating of her heart.

Angel had known fear before. So often before. He had been afraid for himself, for Buffy, for the people he tried to help. For his son. But seeing this woman hurt, it always did something to him. This strong unstoppable woman. Seeing her in a hospital bed screaming, or when her body would shake for hours after getting a vision, or hell, when she got a paper cut.

It sparked something so basic. So elemental. Primordial.

Despite all the things in our way, despite the fact that I have serious doubts about how she feels about me, I’ve never questioned that feeling. It was the need to possess, and subsequently, the need to protect. Whether she knows it or not, whether she wants it or not, Cordelia Chase BELONGS to me.

He couldn’t tell her that. None of that, not now at least. Not with Buffy here and Cordy’s blood on the ground all around her. He couldn’t manage to say anything. He wanted to grab her, smother her, cover her up but he was afraid to move her. So Angel made do. He gripped her hand and tried to convey, with a stroke of his thumb on her palm, just how much he cared.

Spike ran up. “The Harris boy is calling an ambulance from his cell phone. They should be here in a couple of minutes. We should get her over to the parking lot.” Angel didn’t move. “Angel. Angel!” Spike yelled, trying to get the ensouled vampires attention. He didn’t move. He didn’t blink.

Finally, knowing time was of the essence, Buffy bent down and leaned over to Angel’s ear. “Listen to me Angel. I know you are worried about her. But it’s not that bad. Really. It’s not. She’s losing a lot of blood but she’ll be fine. We NEED to get her to the hospital. She needs YOU to get her to the hospital. Do you understand that?”

It seemed to get through to him. Angel nodded his head, as if clearing the fog from his mind. Gently, as if he were holding most precious jewel in existence, he picked Cordy up. Without saying a word, he started off towards the parking lot.

Buffy couldn’t seem to move. Noting the stricken look on her face, Spike put his hand on her shoulder. He couldn’t offer warmth, but he could offer comfort. For a split second, Buffy started to lean her head towards his hand. Then she caught her self, took a deep breath, and slowly reached up and removed his hand.

They both started walking.

Part 18

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 16   1 comment

Part 16: You know your timing really sucks when…

Just when he thought the night couldn’t possibly get more tense or awkward, Angel had turned and seen Buffy staring at him from the stage. At first he was just annoyed, because this was literally like the millionth time something ruined a potential “moment” with Cordy.

Then his annoyance turned to confusion. What is with that yearning smile on her face? He focused on the song and the words she was now obviously singing to him. She was…was she…Did Buffy think there was still something between them? She has been pretty touchy. And dinner could have seemed a lot like a date.

“Dude, she wants you so bad,” Gunn said, disrupting his thought process.

“You think?”

“Um, yeah. Look at her.” How a man could live two and a half centuries and still be so clueless about the female gender was a mystery to Gunn.

“But, I, I think she might be with Spike now,” Angel stuttered.

“The Spike she threatened to stake three times tonight? I doubt the line between love and hate is THAT thin. No, man, she’s all about you. You don’t believe me, ask Cordy. Women can always tell about this shit.”

Angel turned to his other side to do just that, but Cordelia was gone. He immediately scanned the room, before the burst of applause momentarily drew his attention back to the stage. Buffy took a bow before making eye contact with him and waggling her finger, telling him to come over.

“See,” Gunn said, proud to have been proven right. “Aww yeah. I told you. You gonna hit that shit?”

“Hit?”

“My man, are you gonna get yourself a piece tonight?” Gunn said, hoping to clarify.

“A piece?” Giving up on understanding Gunn, Angel scanned the crowd again, spotting Buffy now walking towards him. This was so not good. He didn’t have time to deal with Buffy’s unrequited love right now, he had his own possibly unrequited love to take care of.

Where the hell is Cordelia? Okay, here’s the plan. Tell Buffy nice job, make sure she understands where we are right now (and where we definitely are not), then find Cordy, drag her somewhere no one will ever find us, and end this madness. I’d rather have her laugh in my face and tell me she could never like me like that then go through one more minute of this not knowing.

Buffy reached him, grabbed his hand, and pulled him over to the hall where the bathrooms were. When they reached the relative quiet, she turned to him, still holding on to his hand.

“So did you like,” she asked in a husky voice.

“Yeah. You, you’re a pretty good singer. I didn’t know that about you. You know Buffy, there seems to be a lot we don’t know about each other.” Like why you are still holding on to my hand.

“I don’t know about that, Angel. I take one look in those big brown eyes of yours and I know all that I need to know.”

“Um, Buffy, about that, I—”

She gripped his hand tighter and with the other hand, put two fingers on top of his lips. “Shush. It’s you and me. You don’t need to say anything.”

Oh I so clearly DO need to say something Angel thought.

Buffy went on. “Nothing’s changed Angel. You heard my song. You’re still the one.”

“Buffy, meeting you, loving you, it changed my life. It made me realize that –”

Once again he was interrupted. “That we’ll always be together. It’s destiny.” And before Angel could respond to that, she lunged. Angel tried to swallow his shock as Buffy’s lips pressed against his, warm, insistent, demanding.

Buffy wasn’t consumed in the way Angel’s kisses had once made her . She was working too hard at it. This was the kiss that needed to convince Angel, convince him that they still had the magic they had always had.

Angel brought his hands up to Buffy’s shoulders in order to push her off of him. But he didn’t do that, not right away. The kiss wasn’t unpleasant. Her lips, her taste and smell, they brought back memories that he would always carry with him. For seconds, as she snaked her arms around his waist, Angel lost himself in that kiss.

Lost himself in the past.

***

Cordelia had looked everywhere for Angel. This was getting a little ridiculous. She was finally ready to get her act together and give this thing with Angel a shot and he had disappeared. They hadn’t exactly been lucky in the timing department lately.

But that’s about to change.

Cordy couldn’t believe it had taken a pep talk from Fred of all people. I can’t believe I’ve been so scared. Since when do I get scared of men? Cordelia squared her shoulders and smiled. She had never been this scared before because the man in question had never mattered so much. So much of her happiness, her very existence, was wrapped up in this one man…pire.

“Hey sweets,” came Lorne’s dulcet tones. “Can I help you with something?”

Cordy smiled even brighter. “I’ve had all the help I need tonight, thank you very much. But I seem to have misplaced a certain vampire with a soul. Any ideas?”

“I thought I saw him heading over to the phones by the bathroom.” Cordelia nodded and started to move on. “Oh and Princess,” Lorne added. “Glad someone finally lit a fire under you. It’s about time, kiddo.”

Yes, it is about time. Cordy ran her tongue over her teeth as she walked to the back hall. She felt a confidence that had been missing for weeks seep back into her. It was long past time. She wanted the fairy tale and it was about damn time she got it. She wasn’t asking for a happy ending, she just wanted something.

She wanted one of the covers of her romance novels, she wanted her and Angel doing the whole passionate embrace thing.

She turned the corner and there he was…with Buffy. Here was the trashy romance cover—he had his arms around her and they were kissing in what could only be described as a passionate embrace. The world fell in on top of her.

Cordelia blinked once. It was still there. She couldn’t turn her head. She couldn’t move her feet. She couldn’t close her eyes. She felt like she watched them, frozen, for hours, even though in reality it was probably milliseconds.

This kind of pain, it’s unnatural. Visions, demonization, right then Cordy realized those were nothing. They were nothing like feeling your own heart literally break inside your chest. She was dizzy with the pain. The dizziness also might be a result of the whole forgetting to breath thing.

She forced herself to suck some air in. Angel twitched and ended the kiss, turning her way, arms still around his ex-lover.

***

Angel was about to ease himself out of the kiss. This was a delicate situation. She wasn’t the girl he wanted to be having makeout sessions in the back of Caritas with. At the same time, he didn’t want to hurt Buffy any more than he had to. She was the girl who he had once loved more than he thought possible. He big blue eyes. Her blond hair. Her pounding heart.

Wait a second. That’s not her pounding heart. And it certainly isn’t mine.

Time slowed to a near stop. He registered the heartbeat. Then he picked up the scent. There was the smells of lavender bubble bath and Clinique. Of raspberry flavored vodka and a hint of baby powder.

Underneath all those familiar smells was an even more familiar smell. The smell that made him hot and cold and dizzy and hungry every time he smelled it. Now that smell made him scared. Because he was kissing Buffy and he smelled…Cordelia.

A split second after that came that sound. Not a gasp exactly. Not a sigh. Just a quiet, shocky, hurting breath. He pulled back, pushing against Buffy as he turned to where the sound had come from. There she was.

Angel noted the pain in her eyes. He had only seen that look on her face twice before. Once when he had fired her and once again the day Darla had shown up pregnant. Something inside of him died a little. It might have been hope.

“Cordelia,” Buffy said. She waited a beat or two but Cordy didn’t say a word. “Can we help you?”

Angel knew then and there that hope had died. He saw the hurt in Cordy’s eyes flare at Buffy’s words, saw his best friend swallow and look down at her feet. When she looked up again, he didn’t recognize her eyes.

The hurt was gone. But her eyes were blank. She smiled a smile that Angel hadn’t seen in years. It was a bright shiny smile that was hard as nails. He almost started to cry.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Cordy said. “I was just, just,” inspiration struck, “just looking for Spike. Yup, can’t find Spike. He’s my ride.”

“Oh leaving so soon,” Buffy said, in a way that made it quite clear that soon couldn’t be soon enough. “I guess you have a lot of better things to do than hang out with all of us.”

“You know me, Buffy. Places to go, people to see.”

Angel had finally disentangled himself from Buffy and her Slayer-grip. He reached out and put his hand on Cordy’s shoulder. Just then she flung her head back and closed her eyes. It was a vision.

Subconsciously, Cordelia reached for Angel’s hand as the horrifying pictures flashed before her eyes. It wasn’t until the vision was over that she realized she was gripping for dear life the man who had just torn her dreams apart.

She let go of his hand and opened her eyes. Angel pushed her down into a chair and crouched in front of her, stroking her cheek.

For a minute, one seemingly endless moment, their eyes met. Each looked at the other, each looking for some sign, for something; each coming up empty.

“High school kids,” Cordelia said, preferring to focus on the matter at hand. “Drinking in that park down on Lee Highway. They’re about to stumble into a nest of angry vamps, who seem to have especially brutal preferences for dealing with trespassers.”

This, Buffy knew, was something she could handle. The odd looks passing between Angel and Cordy were not. “So Angel and I will go. Do the rescue thing.”

Cordelia shook her head. “You’ll need everyone. There’s lots of them and they aren’t amateurs.”

“Angel and I aren’t amateurs either,” Buffy huffed. “WE can handle it.”

Angel tried to calm the two women down. “Buffy, we probably should bring—”

Cordy interrupted Angel. “Look. I’m not going to fight with you about this. It may be whatever the Slayer says goes back in Sunnydale, but—”

Then Buffy interrupted Cordy. “Fine. Aughh. You and Fred take Dawn home and anyone who may be remotely useful comes with me and Angel.”

By that time, the gang had noticed the commotion and gathered around their three friends. Fred, overhearing Buffy’s comment, took exception. “Excuse me. You don’t have to live on the Hellmouth to be useful. I go where Gunn goes. And Cordy goes where..”

Cordelia prayed Fred didn’t say “Angel,” prayed she wouldn’t embarrass her like that.

“Cordy goes where the action is,” Spike said, appearing out of nowhere, like a guardian angel. “Now what’s this I hear about a vision, love?” he asked, coming up and throwing his arm around Cordelia. All she could do was stare at him blankly.

“Well lets go help the hopeless and whatnot. Come on, get a move on.

Part 17

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 15   1 comment

Part 15: Get off The Stage Already

Cordelia didn’t need another drink. She didn’t need one, but she sure as hell could use one.

What the fuck happened back there? What the hell is her problem? And what’s my problem? I just sat there, taking it. When did I become Little Miss Victim?

Dawn was on stage, singing her heart out to a ditty by Brittney Spears.

It was nice of her, to save me like that. But I hate the fact that I put myself in the position of needing to be saved. Looks like three years with Mr. Swoop-in-and-save-the-damsel-in-distress has made me soft. I can’t forget how to take care of myself.

The bartender finally noticed her standing there and she ordered a Raspberry Stoli and Sprite. Cordy turned around for a second to check out Dawn, then turned back to grab her drink.

“That will be $6.75,” the demon bartender said.

“Put it on my tab,” came a voice from behind her. Angel. Play it cool Cordy. You can do it. Cordelia slowly turned around, leaned back against the bar, and gave Angel a glance before taking a sip of her drink.

She didn’t say anything though. She swore she had some cool retort on the tip of her tongue, but that was before she had gotten a good look at his eyes. I’ve seen him day in and day out for years, but I’ve never seen his eyes look like that before. Look at me like that.

Angel was trying to call on his inner demon, trying to find vestiges of the sensual, predatory creature he once was. Stuttering idiot wasn’t really working on Cordelia, it was time to try something new. He got as far as one smoldering good look before his plan backfired.

The mistake wasn’t the smoldering part, it was the looking part. God, she made him crazy, crazy with want and need and fear and hope and everything that was good and bad about human emotion. Unfortunately, all that emotion brought Stuttering Idiot back to the surface.

“You don’t look nice,” he blurted out.

Cordelia choked on her drink. She coughed twice. “What?”

Oh shit. What’s wrong with you? “I mean, what I said, before, what I said when you came in. I said you looked nice. Well, I take it back. You don’t look nice. You look breathtaking.” He eyed her warily, hoping he had eased over his blunder.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m breathtaking? Angel, you don’t breath.”

Good point. “Well yeah. And that’s a good thing, or else I would have passed out hours ago, what with all the breathtaking-ness. You look like a—”

Cordelia had a sinking feeling she knew where he was going with that, so she cut him off. “Please don’t say a princess.” I don’t know when I started to hate that word, but I really do.

“No. Not a princess. It’s funny. You were Doyle’s princess. Groo’s princess. Even Lorne lets it slip now and then. But I’ve never really thought of you that way.”

“Gee thanks.” It wasn’t that Cordelia was fishing for compliments. But she wasn’t fishing for insults either.

“Princess,” Angel continued, as if he hadn’t heard her wounded comment. “It’s just not you. Royalty, that implies something distant, removed…”

“Untouchable,” Cordy added.

“Exactly,” Angel said, in that smooth voice he had adopted ever since she’d brought up the princess bit. “A princess would be untouchable. And you, you are very,” he reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, “very,” he tipped her chin up with his index finger so she was looking him directly in the eye, “touchable,” then used the same finger to trail down her smooth bare arm.

Cordelia didn’t smile, didn’t laugh, didn’t move, didn’t think. She did, however, gulp.

Angel leaned in, so his mouth was right up near her ear. “Sometimes,” he confided in a low sexy voice that literally made her quiver, “I can’t NOT touch you.” And then he was leaning down and Cordelia’s heart was going to explode out of her chest and she clenched her hands into fists and it was really going to happen and…

Once again, fate was a cruel mistress. Gunn and Fred walked up. Too late, Fred saw that they were interrupting and tried to tug her boyfriend away. Too late.

“Hey can I get two Bud Lights,” Gunn called out over Cordelia’s head, to the bartender behind her. “Yo, dawg,” he said, sidling up to Angel, “I think someone is trying to get your attention.”

It was like Angel hadn’t heard. He had quit leaning in, but he was still staring down at Cordelia. She was staring right back at him. Fred noted their preoccupation with each other. “Gunn, I’m not really all that thirsty. Maybe after another song.”

“Angel, man, hey. Pay attention. I think your girl is dedicating this song to the one she loves.” Somehow the words penetrated Angel’s mind, though the haze of Cordelia. He was confused. What the hell is Gunn talking about? Then the music kicked in and all four of them turned towards the stage, where Gunn had been pointing to.

There was Buffy. Alone on stage. Staring at Angel.

***

Buffy wasn’t entirely sure about her actions. A few minutes ago, the Karaoke had seemed like a good idea. After all, so far the night had not been going her way. She had gone too far when they were all sitting down. Cordy hadn’t been fighting back, so Buffy had come off looking like a real bitch. She had taken a few minutes to regroup and by the time she was focused again, Cordy and Angel were standing way too close over by the bar and Spike was sitting next to her.

This is all Spike’s fault. If he had just kept his stupid mouth shut. But no, he had to go on and on, about how great “Cordy” was and how she was irresistible. I just wanted to make Angel see me. What better way to get his attention than standing on stage, opening up my heart to him.

But on stage now, Buffy was definitely beginning to regret her decision, especially the song she had chosen. It was cheesy and corny and obvious. But she really needed the message to be clear. So that Angel would get the message. So that Angel, and Spike, and Cordelia would get the message. Maybe, just maybe, so I’ll get the message too.

“Looks like we made it,
Look how far we’ve come my baby,
I’m glad we didn’t listen,
Look at what we would be missing…”

Spike’s breath, unnecessary though it was, had caught in his throat the moment the Slayer opened her mouth. He knew what was coming, he thought he had prepared himself for it, but it was still like being kicked in the gut. Fuck it he thought, and walked out the door. He may be love’s bitch, but he wasn’t a glutton for punishment.

“You’re still the one I run to,
The one that I belong to,
You’re still the one I want for life…”

Cordelia stood silently watching Buffy. She looked good up there. She was so tiny and blond and her voice wasn’t too shabby. The words of the song reverberated in her mind. “The one that I belong to”. Cordy closed her eyes.

It’s true. Buffy does belong to Angel and Angel belongs to Buffy. Always and forever. So what the hell am I doing? She couldn’t compete with Buffy because there was no competition. This whole ordeal, it was so…tired. Cordelia was tired. I’m tired of trying to distract Angel. Tired of coming close and always having something happen. I’m tired of comparing myself to the Slayer and always being found wanting.

It was time to stop. Cordelia grabbed her drink and glanced at Angel who stared, apparently entranced, at the stage. Then she walked away.

Thirty seconds later there was a tap on her shoulder. Cordelia turned to find Fred. Fred was yelling.

“Where are you going? You can’t just walk away. That girl on stage is trying to steal Angel. Fight for him.”

Cordelia sighed. “Fred, what are you talking about?”

“Look Cordy, you and Angel, you know that there is something there. Something was about to happen back there, before me and Gunn interrupted and before—”

“Before Slayer Night at the Apollo?” Cordy offered.

“Yes. You need to go back there and finish that moment.”

“Fred, sweetie, there was no moment. Nothings going to happen between me and Angel. No matter how much you shout kyerumption and moira in my face. Don’t look at me like that. Fine, yes, I admit it. I have feelings, certain feel—Look, I like Angel. A lot. In ways that I shouldn’t.” Cordy stopped for a breath and watched Fred’s face blossom into a huge goofy grin.

“Not so fast there.” She set down her drink and used both hands to spin Fred around so she faced the stage. Buffy had just finished the song and was soaking up the crowd’s applause. “Look at her. It will always be her for him.” Cordelia spun her friend back around to face her. “Don’t tell me to fight. I don’t want to fight. I shouldn’t HAVE to fight. I don’t want to MAKE someone love me.”

“Cordy, he does lo—”

“Fred, it’s done,” Cordelia said, swallowing and running a hand through her hair. “I’m just going to stop. I’ll forget these feelings and we can all go back to normal.”

There. That should get Fred off my back. That will solve everything.

Fred snorted. “Oh wow. And people think that I’m the crazy one.”

Cordelia couldn’t stop herself from arching an eyebrow in response. But that wasn’t about to stop Fred from saying what needed to be said. “Cordy, how clueless are you? You can’t just wake up one day and snap your fingers and say ‘today I’m not going to be in love with Angel anymore.’ It doesn’t work like that.”

“Hey, I didn’t say that I was in love,” was all Cordelia could bite out before Fred held up her hand, effectively telling her to shut up.

“My turn to talk. Look, it’s like, um, it’s like a flat tire.” Up went that eyebrow of Cordelia’s again, this time accompanied by the rolling eyes. Fred was undaunted. “My cousin Lindsay, she’s one of the Louisiana Burkles. Anyway, she once got a flat tire. And she just ignored it. She didn’t have a spare, she was way too broke to afford a new tire. SO she just pretended that it never happened. She drove around on a flat tire for three days! Eventually it got so bad that she couldn’t steer and she ran right off the road and hit a tree and totaled the car!”

“Is there a point to this story?” Cordelia honestly wasn’t trying to be mean. She really just didn’t see the point.

“Love is like a flat tire. There’s never a good time for it, you never plan on it happening, and it almost always screws up your schedule. But most importantly, you have to deal with it. You can’t just ignore it or pretend it isn’t happening or think that it will just go away, or, or…”

“Or I’ll run off the road and get totaled?” Cordy asked.

“Something like that,” Fred said quietly.

“Look Fred. I appreciate your concern. I even appreciate the analogy as helpful as it wasn’t. But we’re done here. I tried and I failed.”

“How have you tried Cordelia? Have you even told him how you feel?”

“No”

“The Cordelia Chase I know and love, the woman who helped drag me back into reality, she wouldn’t give up on something she wanted, not without having done everything in her power to have it.” Cordelia couldn’t help but smile at that.

Fred did have a point.

“Now,” Fred said, reaching for Cordelia’s drink and raising it to her friend’s lips. “Take a big sip, square your shoulders, go find Angel and you tell him that, that, um, that if he isn’t smart enough to realize how perfect you are for him, then, then he and the Slayer with the bad highlights deserve each other.”

Fred really was a genius.

Part 16

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 14   1 comment

Part 14: Memory Lane

So the make them jealous plan wasn’t the best idea.

Cordelia didn’t know why she’d thought it would work. Angel and Buffy hadn’t seemed overcome with jealousy when Cordy and Spike had been on stage.

There had been no tenseness. Angel had appeared vaguely confused and there was no screaming “Get your hands of my man,” from Buffy. She seemed more concerned with relieving her bladder and Angel looked as if he was more bothered by the singing, rather than Spike and Cordelia singing TOGETHER.

They’d both run off before the “I’ve Got You Babe” encore. And I do a mean Cher.

It hadn’t been a total bust thought. She’d had a blast, everyone in the club had offered to buy the two of them drinks, and when Angel came back from wherever he had been, he sat down in the empty chair next to her, much to Buffy’s chagrin.

“Next time I complain about that little vacation I took to Hell, remind me of what I just witnessed,” Angel whispered in her ear, as Xander exited the stage, following an agonizing rendition of “Born in the USA.”

Cordelia giggled. “So you’re saying that hundreds of years of unspeakable torture…”

“Is nothing compared to what has to be the most frightening impression of Bruce Springsteen I have ever been forced to listen to,” Angel concluded.

They both looked up when they noted most of the table was relatively silent. Apparently, vestiges of the initial awkwardness were still hanging around.

“So,” Gunn said, hoping to get the conversational ball rolling again, “what was Cordelia like at 16? Cause I can guess, and what I’m thinking seems pretty scary.”

Willow bit her lip, not sure how to proceed, while Xander smirked, Buffy beamed, and Cordelia looked down at the table.

“Well,” Buffy said with a laugh. “She was all the things you are thinking. A cheerleader, the May Queen, you know the type.”

“Oh, Cordy,” Fred gushed, “I bet you were so popular!”

“Oh, she was popular.” It was Xander’s turn now. “She had a mindless group of followers—The Cordettes. Gunn, you met Harmony, right? Well, imagine a gaggle of them, all worshipping at the alter of Cordelia.”

Everybody laughed. Willow noticed the uncomfortable look of Cordy’s face and felt the disconcerting need to give her a hand. “Should you really be talking Xander? You spent some time worshipping at the alter of Cordelia too, in a closet I might add.” Everyone, even Cordelia and Xander, laughed at that one.

“Damn,” Gunn said. “So y’all managed to have SOME fun on the Hellmouth.”

“When we weren’t out rescuing Cordelia, that is,” Buffy said.

It’s not like Cordelia could deny that. It was true, Buffy had saved her life bunches of times. She would give her props where props were due.

“Yeah,” Cordy agreed. “Buffy saved me from unpopular invisible girls, vampires, and all kinds of icky stuff.”

Buffy wasn’t thrown by Cordelia’s agreement for a second. “The best was Cordelia with Giles—he was my watcher. He couldn’t STAND her. He was always one step away from strangling her. We could never convince Cordelia that the best way to help was to just go away.”

No one at the table quite knew what to do with that comment. There were a few uneasy laughs, but it hadn’t seemed very funny.

Fred decided it was time to change the subject. “Well, Cordy, what about boyfriends? Besides Xander, I mean?”

“Oh, they had a bad habit of dying. Or being evil. Or being evil and then dying. Little bit of both. Call it the curse of Cordelia,” Cordy said. She was thinking that maybe if she made the jokes herself, Buffy might stop.

“Well, there was Angel,” Buffy said, in a strange voice. Everyone at the table looked shocked and turned to Cordy. “Not that he was her boyfriend, but she sure wanted him to be.”

Oh lord. It’s okay. Laugh it off. Show them just how much of an actress you are. “Yes, it’s sad but true. I took one look at everyone’s favorite creature of the night, pronounced him salty goodness, and proceeded to try and make him mine.”

Feeling that surge she always got on when she was on stage, Cordelia continued, turning to Angel. “That was before I realized that I couldn’t compete with a 200-year-old blond fetish.”

“Aww, that’s so cute,” Fred commented.

It wasn’t supposed to be cute Buffy thought. It’s supposed to embarrass Cordelia. Clearly she just needed to try a little harder.

“She made Angel soooo uncomfortable. It was hilarious, with her always throwing herself at him,” Buffy said. “She couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of rejection,” Buffy stage-whispered to the table at large.

“I have a lot of trouble imagining anyone rejecting Cordelia. Damn Angel, were you blind or something back then?” Gunn asked.

Angel shrugged. He knew this was making Cordelia more than a little tense; her heart was pounding so much he could literally see her pulse point jump. At the same time, he liked knowing she once thought he was attractive.

“Hey, I didn’t know she liked me. Cordy, you know how bad I am at the whole subtlety thing. When you think someone is salty goodness, you need to tell them they’re salty goodness.”

Buffy never gave Cordelia a chance to respond. “Back then you would never have imagined Cordelia and Angel would one day be friends. What did we call her that one night, when we were training right before my birthday? Oh yeah, Sporedelia.” Buffy continued on, before Angel could point out only Buffy had called her that. “Angel wasn’t an official member of the “I Hate Cordelia” club though. That was more of a Xander and Willow thing.”

This time there was no uneasy laughter. Only uneasy silence.

Fred finally asked, “But, I thought, I mean, weren’t you all friends?”

Buffy choked back a laugh. “Is that what she told –”

“Well, yeah,” Willow interrupted. “We were good friends. Right Xander?”

“I guess.”

Dawn was disgusted. Her sister was acting like such a bitch and all anyone was doing was ignoring it, while Cordelia just sat there, looking miserable. “Hey, Cordelia, you and Spike were really great up there. Do you wanna do another song?”

Cordelia looked at Dawn, her eyes communicating her appreciation. “No thanks sweetie, but I will go help you pick out a song.” Cordelia was out of her chair before Dawn could say a word.

Angel felt like he was in Bizarro-land. Which is in itself funny, because if Xander had made that Superman reference a few years ago, I wouldn’t have known what the hell he was talking about.

Buffy was turning the night into some kind of battle with Cordelia, which was odd because A, what did they have to fight about, and B, Cordelia didn’t really seem to know they were at war. Where had all those signature cutting remarks been? Where were the cruel one-liners? She was off her game tonight.

Spike came over and took Cordelia’s chair, knocking Angel out of his reverie. “Look mate, you better tell the Slayer to watch her back. Your man Gunn is looking kinda angry again. He’s protective of the cheerleader.”

“Spike,” Angel sighed. “The last thing I need right now is advice from you.”

“Fine. But you know, even I’m getting a little pissed at Buffy now. She’s acting like a baby and the silly bint is really getting to Cordy.”

“Cordy?” Angel asked.

“That’s right, poof. I’ve got ‘Cordy’ rights now too. You play dress-up with a person, you get close. Anyway, my point is, you haven’t said a word. You haven’t told Buffy to shut the fuck up. You haven’t told Cordy that the Slayer is full of shit. It makes it look like you agree.”

“Spike, you don’t know what the hell you are—”

“That’s where you’re wrong, poof. Little Miss May Queen and I, we understand each other. We have a lot more in common than you might think.”

“Oh, I thought it was all opposites attract,” Angel mumbled.

“What was that?” Spike asked.

“Nothing. So, tell me, what do you and Cordy have in common. Besides the fact that both of you aren’t natural blonds?”

“We both are letting Buffy walk all over us,” Spike said, in a quiet firm voice.

Angel looked at him for a moment. Finally he said, “It’s not just sex, is it?”

“You knew?”

“Hello, I’m a vampire. I have super-smell power, just like you.”

Spike grinned. “Cheerleader’s rubbing off on you. You sound just like her.” That got a brief grin out of Angel. “She’s a piece of work, that one. And Christ, the way she smells.”

The grin disappeared. “Spike,” Angel growled warningly.

“Oh chill ya big poof. Look, she’s upset and I like her and so you damn well need to fix it.”

Angel didn’t deny that Cordelia was upset. “How?”

Spike was getting a little exasperated now.

“I don’t know. Tell her she’s beautiful. Shag her against the wall in the bathroom. I don’t care. Just get her smiling again.”

Part 15

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 13   1 comment

Part 13: Shakespearean Kareoke

Angel’s hand dropped away from her waist and immediately she missed his touch. The two of them stood their staring at each other, neither talking for God knows how long, before Buffy walked up.

“Hi Cordy,” she stated. Cordelia jumped backwards, as if she had been caught doing something wrong.

“Hey Buffy. I, uh, I like your skirt.”

Buffy casually fingered the material as she moved to stand next to Angel, so that their arms were brushing against each other. “Thanks Cordelia. Your dress is nice too. I’m surprised though, you’re usually a lot more…obvious.”

It honestly took a minute for Cordy to realize what had just been said. Whoa, wait a second, did she just say that I usually dress like a slut? Does she not remember her wardrobe decisions her first year in Sunnydale? This is so pot calling kettle black.

Cordelia didn’t know exactly how to respond. She was used to initiating the cattiness with Buffy; she had been caught off guard. She looked at Angel, who just looked confused.

“Coming through, coming through,” Spike said as he walked over to where the three of them stood. He set the two drinks down on the table. “So what did I miss?”

Buffy hand started to move for the pink drink he had placed next to his beer. She didn’t like the fact that Spike hadn’t asked her if she wanted a drink, but it was nice of him to think of her.

Spike’s hand swooped down, picking up the glass before she actually reached for it. “One Cosmo for the lovely Miss Chase,” he said, handing Cordelia her drink. Cordy took it, biting her lip to keep from laughing. Every once in a while even Slayers got put in their place.

It’s just nice to know there is still justice in the world. “So, whose up for karaoke,” Spike asked.

***

Angel couldn’t really decide if he was having fun or not. It was definitely better than that time he had gotten impaled by that demon in North Hollywood, and yet nowhere close to as good a time as when he killed those five vampires with only a broken broom handle in the alley behind Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

The fact that he hadn’t had a single moment alone with Cordy since she walked in had a little something to do with his lackluster opinion of the night so far. Spike’s presence, and the fact that at some point his presence had started to not bother him as much also had something to do with Angel’s ambivalence.

But what was really confusing him was Buffy’s behavior. He hadn’t seen her acting this way since the time she came back from spending the summer in LA with her father. Except then she had been all over Xander. This time, he was the object of her weird conduct.

This is not just my imagination. It’s not like I mind her standing next to me, but she gets any closer and I’m going to start yelling “PERSONAL BUBBLE.”

She kept touching his hair or sitting on the arm of his chair or rubbing her chin on his shoulder. What’s her problem?

Cordelia had just about had it up to there. What is Buffy’s problem? The Slayer seemed to have developed an addiction to rubbing herself on Angel. It was such a transparent lesson, one obviously intended for Spike and herself, to show them that Buffy was going to be with Angel and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.

Fine. Go be together forever. But if she doesn’t quit shoving her eternal love in my face I’m going to use some sort of super secret demony deal to beam her ass back to the Hellmouth.

She saw Buffy put her hand on Angel’s thigh and couldn’t take it anymore.

Cordelia stood up without saying anything and walked over to the bar behind her. Why am I pretending that I am such a hard-ass? Why do I keep telling myself to be noble and that this is the way it is meant to be? Fuck that. I don’t want to be noble. I get that I can’t have him but that doesn’t mean I have to help HER have him. And even if Angel and Buffy do end up together, there is no reason on earth for me to sit there passively, like it doesn’t bother me. For I am very bothered. I haven’t been this bothered since the great flannel fad of 1993.

“There, there love. Buck up.” Cordelia turned around to find Spike. “Sure it smarts,” he continued, blowing smoke up in the air, “but that’s because we’re letting it get to us.”

He had a point. “Well, what do you suggest?”

“I suggest we get off our asses and quit telling ourselves we lost. You and I, we haven’t even started to fight but we’re getting all mopey, like the battle’s already over.”

“It is over Spike. Let’s say, for arguments sake—since both of us still haven’t actually admitted anything yet, that I don’t want those two together, that I want Angel, that I want Angel to want me. And let’s say you feel the same way about Buffy. How do we fight?”

Spike walked over to lean against the bar and Cordelia moved to mimic his position. “In love and war it’s best to keep things simple,” he said after a moment. “We need to have some sort of plan. I vote we go the classic route.”

“Which is?” What is it with these guys from other centuries? Why did they always have to be so damn cryptic?

“We make them realize what they are missing,” Spike said slowly, as if he was speaking to a child. Cordelia was too intrigued to be offended.

“Like make them jealous? How are we supposed to do that? Do I go flirt with that blue scaled guy over there in the corner? Oh, and you could hit on that girl with the pointy ears. That is a girl, right?”

Spike ignored the question and turned to the bartender, requesting two shots.

“Alabama Slammers,” Cordelia put out, not wanting any more tequila.

“That’s a girl shot,” Spike whined. Cordelia gave him a look. “Fine. Anyway. What we need to do is pool our resources. Kill two birds with one stone.” He sighed upon seeing Cordelia’s blank look.

“WE FLIRT WITH EACH OTHER.” Before Cordy could react to that suggestion, someone else gave their opinion.

“I vote for that plan,” Dawn said. Spike and Cordelia whipped around, surprised and worried about how much she had overheard.

“Oh please, it’s all so obvious. I don’t care what the two of you need to do, just straighten this mess out. I swear I’ve never seen four people act more adolescent, and I’m in HIGH SCHOOL.”

“Dawn, you don’t—” Spike bit out.

“It’s really not like that,” Cordy said shaking her head.

“It’s exactly like that. That’s why I think you should go for this plan. Just don’t let it turn into some creepy Shakespearean comedy. I can see this going very ‘A Mid Summer Night’s Dream’ on all of us, and I don’t want that to happen.” With a snort of disgust, Dawn walked away.

Reaching for her shot, Cordy smiled. “I like her so much,” she confided to Spike.

“Me too,” Spike said, taking the shot and offering a grim smile.

***

Angel was trying to tell himself not to turn around to see what Cordy and Spike were doing at the bar. He had enough problems for the moment. Wesley was pissed because Angel kept calling to check on the baby and the last time had woken up Connor.

Lorne had just kindly informed him that the entire group had been ordering drinks and telling people to put them on Angel’s tab. Add to that the confounding issue of Buffy “Grabby-Hands” Summers and his plate was full. Maybe another beer was in order. Where did Lorne run off to? Angel looked around until the sound of the demon’s voice directed him to the stage.

Lorne was at the microphone.

“Well, is everyone having a good time?” he cooed. The crowed roared yes. “It’s about to get even better. Folks, I have what could be a real treat for you. May I proudly present, William the Bloody and Cordelia the Hottie, with their interpretation of the Paula Abdul classic, Opposites Attract.”

Angel and Buffy’s mouths dropped open. They traded horrified glances with each other, realized the irony in that, then quickly turned back to the stage.

Cordelia couldn’t sing all that well. Spike wasn’t singing at all, he had settled for basically speaking his lines. They were mostly off-key. They didn’t seem to know all the words. The crowd loved them.

“I don’t like cigarettes” Cordelia sang.
“And I like to smoke,” Spike countered, lighting up on stage.

Buffy wasn’t sure this was really happening. The stage in front of her was like something out of a creepy Twin Peaks dream. Spike and Cordy really were awful, but they didn’t seem to realize it, or maybe they just didn’t care.

And why do they look like they are having so much fun up there? Karaoke is NOT that much fun. Did she just whisper in his ear? You’re supposed to be up there singing Cordelia, not sharing secrets with my…my…with Spike.

“It ain’t fiction,
just a natural fact,
we come together cause opposites attract.”

Angel didn’t know about that. He didn’t want Cordy and Spike coming together in any way, shape, or form. Plus, they weren’t really opposites. They both had a lot in common, with their tendencies to be loud and nosy and tactless. If Cordy was looking for her opposite, well, Angel was a much better candidate. She liked to watch TV while he liked to read. She drank Diet Coke while he drank blood. See, opposites.

The song ended and the audience literally stood up and cheered. It was amazing. Some Rubsa demons in the corner started chanting “encore” and the rest of the crowd joined them. Spike dragged Cordelia in for a bear hug, stuck his tongue out in the direction of Buffy and Angel, then shouted something to Lorne.

Buffy mumbled something about going to the bathroom and Angel felt like if he didn’t get some air he would pass out (which was odd, since he didn’t actually need air). As he walked out of the club, he heard a familiar tune and then came Spike,

“Well, they say we’re young and we don’t know, we won’t find out until-l-l we grow…”

Part 14

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 12   1 comment

Part 12: Another Saturday Night

For the third time in twenty minutes, Angel checked the time on his watch with the time on his cell phone, just to make sure his watch was right. He had been at Caritas for almost an hour.

Where the hell is she? She should be here by now. She knows how I need her to—she knows how I need her.

Admitting that need used to be hard for Angel, it was embarrassing just to think it in his head. But it was true. He liked to be around her. She put him at ease, he discovered new things about himself in those twisted convoluted conversations they had. Where is she?

Lorne came up and placed a foamy glass of Guinness next to the empty one that lay on the table in front of Angel. He was dressed in a shocking purple and yellow, like some sort of freakish Easter Bunny; somehow it worked on him though.

“Thought you could use a refill Angel-heart. You look like you might need it. Hum a little something, let me see why you’re so glum.” Angel’s face registered the chance of that happening. “Okay, so just tell me. Everyone’s having a great time. My club’s been open nearly four hours and has yet to be destroyed. What could possibly be wrong?”

The host was right. Everyone did seem to be enjoying themselves. Willow and Fred were sitting at a table upfront, groaning at the Summers’ sisters and their rendition of “Eternal Flame.” Gunn and Xander were going over the list of songs and Angel shivered at the thought of those two in a duet. But even those guys seemed relaxed and happy.

“Seriously Sir-Broods-A-Lot, why so blue? How was dinner with my second favorite former cheerleader?”

Angel sighed. “It was, it was okay.” That was true. It hadn’t been bad. It was just off, not like when he went out for a bite with Cordelia and the gang. He had been doing that more often this year and while the cuisine wasn’t his thing, it was nice just spending time together. Buffy and he, well, it had been awkward. She had kept on studying him, watching his every move, like she was afraid he might not know how to use a fork or anything.

And the conversation hadn’t been exactly been rolling. What did we use to talk about? Angel saw Lorne wouldn’t be satisfied with just ‘okay.’ “We went to that French place in Hollywood, the one Cordy was whining about going to last week.”

Something caught Lorne’s eye behind Angel. “Speaking of the Seer with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, here’s vision girl now. And isn’t she a vision.” Angel turned around. Cordelia stood in the doorway. Her hair and make-up were perfect, but she still looked touchable in a way she hadn’t two years ago. She wore a simple black strapless dress, but it wasn’t slutty or cheap looking. It came down to her knees, provocative in it’s classic beauty.

Like her.

The spell of her was broken when Spike appeared in the doorway behind her. He leaned in and said something in her ear that made her laugh—Angel thought he could actually hear her low sexy chuckle from across the room, despite the noise from the stage. Spike caught Angel’s eye and offered him a smirk before sliding his arm around the object of Angel’s affection. Angel growled. He had been doing that an awful lot lately.

“Easy killer,” Lorne soothed. “You know that’s not who he’s here after.”

Just Breath. Cordelia told herself as she and Spike made their way over to where Angel and Lorne sat. For some unknown reason, she had really started to dread this night. She had spent over an hour in the bath, torturing herself by imagining what Angel and Buffy were doing on their big date. The thought of them feeding each other grapes had led to a painful shaving cut on her ankle.

Stupid imagination.

Spike had done a little to help her apprehension. The two of them were an odd pair. They still had yet to discuss their entirely too depressing love lives, and yet each clearly knew how the other felt. Like how Spike still wouldn’t admit to feeling anything for Buffy but how he was so clearly worried about the threat Angel represented.

In a weird way, the temporary insanity caused by loving people they could never have had bonded Spike and Cordelia. In Spike, Cordy was finding the snippy girlfriend she hadn’t had since the days of Harmony and the Cordettes, as well as the comic foil role that had made Xander so oddly appealing. In turn, Cordelia accepted Spike without all the conditions the Scoobies made; she made him feel worthy and wanted. It meant more than he could say, more than he ever would say.

Slowly, the bitterness and fear they had left the Hyperion with had melted away. Never in my life would I have imagined getting ready to go out with Spike.

They had blasted a little Britney and then some old school 80’s stuff. They had fought for mirror space while singing “Living on a Prayer” together. They decided that they would start a band called “Love’s Bitch” and tour small college towns across America.

Before they left for Caritas, Spike had even given a little pep talk. The motivational speech basically amounted to “Screw star-crossed lovers,” but the tequila shots they had done proved very “peppy.”

Well, as Spike said, there’s no shame in liquid courage.

Cordy walked passed a group of moderately attractive vampires and saw Angel sitting there in front of her. Despite the plan she had made in the car on the way over, the plan to be all super cool and casual and not at all like a nervous school girl, she got one good look at those hooded eyes and all that black leather and she couldn’t hold back a sigh of appreciation. Spike heard it and quirked an eyebrow.

When they got to the table both demons stood up and Lorne clapped his hands in appreciation. “Well don’t you two look too gorgeous for words,” Lorne gushed.

Angel’s eyes nearly popped out of his head as Cordelia and Spike both flashed smiles, inclined their heads toward each other and said “We know” at exactly the same time. The duo’s obvious affinity for each other was more than mildly disturbing. It went against the natural order of things. Angel recovered from that shock and looked up to find Cordelia staring at him, expectantly.

“Well?” she asked, doing a small pirouette. Oh shit. She wants a compliment. I need a good compliment. Something that’s not the truth, because I doubt “I’ve had a hard-on since I smelled you from thirty feet away,” is what she really wants to hear right now. Beautiful? Incredible? Magnificently arousing and unquestionably perfect in every way?

“Nice,” Angel mumbled.

Cordelia bit her lip. The night of the ballet, she had interrupted Angel when he was complimenting her; she never got to find out what he would have said. That was why she had asked for his opinion tonight. Nice? That was it. Weather was nice. Books by Nora Roberts were nice. Kittens were nice.

No, scratch that, people tell kittens they’re cute. Even cute is better than nice. She had really been looking for something a little more…well just more.

Spike noticed that Angel’s “nice” really wasn’t flying with Cordy, so he decided to create a little distraction. “What about me, ya big poof,” Spike asked, doing a clumsy pirouette of his own. Angel glared at him but it brought a smile back to Cordelia’s face. “Well then, I think drinks are called for. Cosmopolitan for milady?” Spike asked.

“You know me too well,” Cordelia drawled. Spike headed over to the bar, bumping into Cordelia with a clumsiness she knew he didn’t possess. With the heels she was wearing, Spike’s little nudge had her falling into Angel, just as Spike had probably planned. Angel of course caught her in that sweetly strong way of his that always had her heart racing.

“He better not know you too well,” Angel murmured right next to her ear and Cordelia couldn’t hold back a shiver. Most of what could be classified as flirtation between the two of them was said very innocently. It was strictly subtextual, there was nothing overt in their relationship. But Angel’s voice just then, it had been, well, sexy.

Muscles in regions she hadn’t thought about since the ballet had clenched at his dark, seductive tone. What the hell is going on here? Did Buffy and him get groiny at dinner and now I’ve got Angelus coming on to me? Cordelia checked Angel’s clothes, noted the absence of a cool smirk, and decided the man currently making her mouth dry definitely still had a soul.

Angel wasn’t entirely sure why he had said that, especially THAT WAY but he didn’t feel like analyzing it right now, not while he should be savoring the woman he was holding in his arms. He was always amazed at the striking dichotomy of Cordelia. There was the Cordy who could curl up in old sweatpants and un-brushed hair and crack her knuckles just because she knew it annoyed him.

The comfortable Cordy.

Then there was the woman who could walk into the room and make everything stop, make even soulless demons believe there had to be a God merely because no lesser being could have created such a masterpiece.

That Cordy made Angel decidedly uncomfortable, but in a good way. That was the Cordelia he slowly eased out of his arms now. This Cordy smelled like luxury, like hazy heat, like sin.

The night was definitely improving.

part 13

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 11   1 comment

Part 11: Close But No Cigar

Buffy came in and set her shopping bags down by the stairs, while Dawn headed straight for the baby. For some reason, Buffy still hadn’t felt comfortable enough to hold Connor. She wasn’t much of a baby person but she had never actually felt afraid to pick up a child before.

This child. I’m just scared to pick up this child.

His very existence only increased the general sense of confusion she had felt since they walked in the door. Dawn, however, had no such qualms. By the time Buffy walked over to the couch, Dawn was playing airplane with Connor and telling Cordy and Angel about their day.

I don’t like how that sounds. Cordy and Angel.

“So, Cordy, my dad’s new girlfriend told me I should dye my hair blonder. Whatcha think?” Dawn asked.

Cordelia noted Buffy standing behind the young girl, shaking her head ‘no’. “Well you know, Dawnie, I really wouldn’t suggest it. Not because you’re too young or anything,” she added when Dawn’s face fell. “It just wouldn’t work so well with your coloring. Besides, if you’re not trying to catch the eye of any ensouled vampires, why bother with the bleach?”

Buffy coughed. “By the way, Cordelia, have I mentioned how much I LOVE the highlights.”

Cordy looked down. She was getting soft in her old age. She had walked right into that one. She snuck a peak over at Angel. Maybe he hadn’t heard.Yeah, cause those vampires, it’s not like they have super hearing or anything. Angel was smirking and Cordy had the weirdest urge to stick her tongue out at him. So she did. Did he just gulp?

Spike walked out of the basement. His knuckles were torn and bloody and Angel guessed he had been the one to break the punching bag. He seemed to be in a better mood though. Spike had gotten progressively moodier once Buffy left. Seemed fine now though.

“So children, what are we doing this evening?” he asked.

“We, as in everyone except you, are going to do karaoke,” Buffy replied.

Cordy stood up. “Spike of course you are invited to Caritas with us. After all, it’s just a bunch of FRIENDS, hanging out.” There, we’re even for that comment about the highlights.

Buffy wasn’t clear on what to do. She had come to Los Angeles with very specific plans and so far nothing was turning out the way she thought it would. First of all, this was supposed to be about putting Spike behind her, about finding herself again. How could she find herself when all she saw was him?

I mean, when he’s always around. I did not mean that Spike is all I can see. He is not all I can see. I can see many things, things that are not Spike.

Angel had just seemed so distracted. Part of what she had loved about being with him was how focused he had been on her. When she was in the room, she knew she was all he saw, all he breathed. Now, he was definitely distracted and Buffy was starting to get a good idea of what he found so distracting.

Cordelia. The self-professed Dating Slayer.

It was hard to see what he saw in her. Sure, when Cordelia was ruling Sunnydale High, she was attractive to boys but that’s because dating her promised an upward rise in popularity. But in LA she was very small fish in very big pond, so the appeal of that was gone.

And it’s not like she wasn’t still cute, but four years ago, Cordelia was so coordinated, so made up, so perfect looking. Every one of her features had always been exhibited to it’s utmost potential. Now…not so much. Gone was the icy prettiness. Gone was the calculated but powerful beauty. Angel, he was a guy who appreciated beauty. So…why?

Dawn’s laughter drew Buffy out of her reverie. Cordelia was holding Connor, trying to get him to show Dawn how he could stick out his tongue. When he did it, throwing in a spit bubble for an encore, Cordy laughed down at him then looked up and smiled.

It was like being struck by lighting. In that moment, Buffy thought she might know why. Buffy didn’t even really like the girl, but that smile was like being held by someone you loved.

A sudden burst of warmth and comfort. Who knew Cordelia had something like that inside her?

Buffy turned to see if anyone else noticed it. Spike and Angel were both looking at Cordelia with very similar expressions on their face. Like they were shocked. Like creatures like them didn’t deserve to have a smile like that directed their way. A flood of jealousy ran though Buffy’s blood.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was not knowing whether she was jealous because Cordy was being stared at by Angel…or because Spike was looking at her too.

“So, Angel,” Buffy said, moving in front of him to break his Cordy-worship. “Maybe you and I could do something tonight, before we go to Caritas.” She stared at Angel beseechingly. She didn’t see Spike’s frown or the way Cordelia moved to lay a commiserating hand on his shoulder. She didn’t hear Dawn sigh in annoyance and walk upstairs.

She just waited for Angel.

Angel was puzzled. Okay, so he wasn’t that puzzled. He had an inkling of what was going on. Buffy was using him to make Spike jealous. Fortunately, he had better things to do than participate in that ill-fated love affair. He wanted to finish his conversation with Cordy.

I can offer to make her dinner. We can go upstairs to give Connor a bath. And then we can lock the door to my room and get the hell out of this limbo we’ve been in. Angel realized Buffy was still waiting for an answer. “Actually—.”

“Angel, you guys should do something.” Cordelia couldn’t believe she actually said that. But in a weird way, she was sorta proud. She had overcome all those “fight for your man” urges and just given in to the inevitable. She was like that guy, in that Casablanca movie. Who was all noble.

This is the right thing to do. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, yadda yadda yadda. “Go to dinner or something. For old times sake.”

“Cordelia, Angel is a VAMPIRE.” Buffy shook her head, like Cordy had gone retarded.

“Yeah. AND? What, he can escort people to prom and hang out at the Bronze but god forbid he pay for a nice sit down every now and then?” Cordy was not seeing the problem here.

“He doesn’t eat dinner food.” Buffy was having awful images of Angel sipping blood from a flask at the table.

“You’re kidding. Wow! That explains why there’s all this blood lying around all the time. Finally the mystery is solved. Thanks Inspector Gadget.” Cordelia was getting pissed. Buffy was acting like Angel didn’t know how to act in public. Like he was some kind of freak.

Angel put his hand on Cordelia’s shoulder. He leaned in and, under the pretense of kissing Connor on the forehead, he whispered for her to behave. Cordelia gave a “Pffft” and rolled her eyes. Angel turned to Buffy. “Actually, dinner sounds like a nice idea. Cordy’s been dying to go to this new French place. Spike, I’m sure they have an excellent wine collection.”

Cordelia almost had a heart attack. Sweet, adorable, completely dense vampire. How do you live 250 years and not know when you are being seduced. He thought all four of them were going to dinner. Awwwww, why is that so damn cute? Cordy saw the way that Buffy’s face fell.

I should be enjoying that more. But it was hard to appreciate the Slayer’s frustration. It was all futile. No matter how many twists and turns the plot took, Cordelia was still sure how the story was going to end.

Angel and Buffy will overcome all obstacles and blah blah blah. “I think you two should go. I want to head home and take a shower. Spike, you care to join me?”

Spike got a huge smile on his face, Buffy’s jaw dropped, and Cordy swore that Angel growled. “NOT join me in the shower, join me in going back to my place. Heads out of the gutter people.”

Connor had gotten squirmy so Cordelia gave him one last squeeze and put him back on the mat. “Angel, remember to tell Wesley to put on that tape we used last night.” In a last ditch effort, Cordelia had put on the “Last of the Mohicans” soundtrack and Connor had magically settled. It had actually been sorta creepy. “And go over diapering with him again, and make sure he is still certified for CPR.”

While Cordelia went over nine million details with Angel, Spike snuck up behind Buffy. She knew he was there seconds before he spoke She broke out in goose bumps as she felt his cool breath hit her neck, just under her ear.

“I know what you doing Slayer. You think I don’t know why you came here. I suppose I should be flattered. You’re so scared of what you feel for me you ran all the way to LA. Well, you can’t run from me. From us. Because when you stop fighting this lost cause, I’ll still be here, waiting for you.”

Buffy felt like she had been punched in the gut. She didn’t say anything, she just shut her eyes. She kept them closed until Cordelia and Spike walked out the door.

It was shocking to realize that she and Angel were actually alone. And while the lobby of the hotel was no candlelight dinner, or even a romantic stroll through a Sunnydale cemetery, she was pretty sure now was a good time to try a little…rekindling. Angel was sitting on the couch watching his son wriggle around on the floor.

She sat down next to him, curling her legs underneath her and leaning towards him slightly. She got his attention by trailing her finger slowly down his arm. That had always worked before.

“So, I’m really glad I’m going to have some time for just us, you know, you and me,” she started.

From the floor, Connor made a noise. Angel’s face went into worry mode and he leaned over and picked his son up. “Did that sound like a cough to you?” he asked.

Actually Buffy thought the noise had sounded an awful lot like Cordelia’s patented “Pfft”, but she wasn’t about to tell Angel that. “I’m sure it was nothing. Angel,” she tried to get him to focus, “I’ve really been missing you a lot lately.”

Angel gave that small sheepish smile that she had seen so many times before. “I’ve missed you too. We didn’t get to talk all that much after you…when you …the last time we saw each other. You seem a lot better now.”

Buffy leaned even closer to Angel. “I am better. Just seeing you, being here like this again, it makes everything better.”

Angel nodded absentmindedly. “I think I heard that sound again. That wasn’t a cough right? A cough would sound more cough-y, don’t you think?” Buffy sighed in answer and Angel flashed a soft shy apologetic smile. It made him look dorky and endearing and nothing at all like the soulfull brooder she fell for.

“Sorry Buf, I’m doing the over-protective thing, aren’t I? I can tell, you sighed just like Cordy does when I’m going overboard.” Buffy’s noise wrinkled. Was there some sort of rule that he had to mention Cordelia every five minutes? She didn’t want to talk about what “Cordy does” or what “Cordy says.” It was still throwing her for a loop hearing Angel call her “Cordy” in the first place.

Calm down Buffy. Don’t get sidetracked. She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and said, “Ever since, you know, this fall, I’ve been thinking a lot more lately, about life and love.”

“Me too,” Angel said, surprising her. “Ever since this little guy came along, I catch myself thinking about how much life changes in an instant, how amazing it is when life surprises you. When love surprises you.”

“I don’t like surprises much. In my experience, change isn’t always good. I like things I can count on. Love I can count on.”

Angel noticed the weird tone but he had no idea where Buffy was going with this. Was she trying to tell him about her and Spike? He knew they had slept together at least once. Judging by the amount of tension between them since they got there, it had probably happened a lot more than once.

“Buffy, you know you can tell me anything.” If she needed to work through her problems with Spike, he would be there for her. He owed her that much. “Seriously, I’m always here,” he added.

“I just wanted to tell you…” Buffy couldn’t believe it was finally going to happen. She had been waiting two days for this moment. It was now or never. There was magic in the air…and it smelled a lot like…dirty diapers. “I wanted to tell you that I think your son needs a change.”

Angel laughed and started babbling baby talk to Connor as he rose and started to head upstairs. Buffy followed slowly behind him, heading to her and Dawn’s room to change for dinner and mull over how close she had just come to getting what she came for.

Part 12

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 10   1 comment

Part 10: Tell Me Your Story

Hours later, long after her Eureeka moment, Cordelia found herself pretty amazed at how well the day had gone. Buffy and Dawn had left to spend some time with their father and frankly, Cordy thought things started to improve about that time.

She and Willow had taken Connor to the park. Willow seemed to be warming up to her. I never thought the day would come when I would be actively trying to get Willow Rosenberg to like me. But Cordelia was realistic. She didn’t have many girlfriends and the circumstances of her life made it hard to make new friends.

And Willow, it was turning out, wasn’t so bad. They had talked, really talked. Cordelia surprised herself when she had told Willow about the demonization—everybody at AI had agreed it was an unnecessary detail that the group from Sunnydale didn’t NEED to know. Willow had talked a little about how much she missed Tara…and magic. Cordy knew it was like the visions—Willow’s magic was what allowed her to help people and now that was gone—she could definitely relate.

When they came back from their walk they found Gunn and Angel playing video games with Xander, and the only blood being drawn was on the TV screen (thankfully). Cordelia and Xander continued to bicker for most of the day, and neither of them would have had it any other way. He was annoying and could be crude but she still saw glimpses of why she had once allowed herself to love him.

Fred and Wes had basically locked themselves in Wesley’s office. Willow asked what they were researching and it was then Cordelia realized that she didn’t know. Those two were being awfully tight-lipped. It couldn’t be a prophecy or anything big, because then they would have told everyone.

Cordelia shrugged it off, figuring they would tell her if it was anything involving the words apocalypse or Armageddon.

The day had actually gone by rather quickly. To an outsider, the group hanging out might not have seemed like a big deal, but that’s because they never spent twenty minutes removing William the Bloody’s black nail polish. Early evening found the hotel comparatively empty.

Fred and Gunn had taken Willow and Xander of a whirlwind tour of LA (Xander wanted to go see real-life hookers). Wes was making a taco run and Spike had disappeared to god knows where.

All in all, not such a bad day.

It had, however, been exhausting. That’s why it was 7 pm and Cordelia was sprawled on the lobby couch with her feet laying in Angel’s lap. Connor was wriggling around on a blanket they had placed in front of the couch, seemingly fascinated with trying to suck on his toes. They had spent the past several minutes in lovely, comforting silence.

“You know, this wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be,” Angel said, echoing Cordy’s thoughts.

“Tell me about it. I had a heart-to-heart with Willow. And trying to give Spike a makeover was like the most fun I’ve had since Christmas.”

“I can beat that. I got to instruct Xander on how to change a diaper. I wish I could have videotaped it. And I never threatened him with physical violence, not once.”

Cordelia nodded that she was proud of him. “Still,” Cordy added, “once every three years.”

“Oh yeah, that’s more than enough quality time.” They both laughed. Angel looked down as he noticed that he had been stroking Cordelia’s ankles. All that soft brown skin. “One day I’m going to figure out how you see the sun about as often as I do and you stay so tan,” he commented.

Angel was tracing small patterns on her skin, which in turn were creating small explosions in Cordelia’s head. Who knew your ankle was an erogenous zone? Cordelia smiled slyly. “That’s my secret.”

“Is all this color from when you went away with Groo,” Angel asked. Cordelia held her breath, hoping more questions wouldn’t follow. Of course, they did. “Speaking of that, you never really did tell me what happened.”

“That’s my secret too,” Cordy replied. She didn’t feel like meeting Angel’s eyes just then, so she turned her head to look at Connor.

“Cordy, you go away with the Groosalug, you come home after less than a week, and all you tell us is that Mexico was very pretty and that Groo went back to Pylea. You can’t just leave it like that.”

“Oh, I believe I can leave it exactly like that.” Cordy was feeling very nervous but she didn’t know if it was from the inquisition or the fact that Angel was still running his fingers over her ankles.

“What happened?” Angel just wanted her to answer the damn question. And it wasn’t just the fact that he needed to make sure that Groo was gone for good. There was also just the plain and simple fact that she hadn’t confided in him.

And that’s what they were supposed to do. Confide in each other. “I know you told Fred something about an epiphany.” Cordelia merely sighed. “Did Groo do something to upset you? Did he hurt you?” Angel’s whole body tensed at the thought.

Seeing how riled up Angel was getting, Cordelia struggled into a sitting up position, keeping her feet in Angel’s lap. “No, Angel,” she put her hand on his cheek and turned his face towards her. “Groo, he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Angel had to make sure she was physically okay. Even if it meant asking, “Was it, um, the com-shuck, did you—.”

“Please tell me you aren’t about to ask whether it was good for me.”

“No, you, I, I just…”

Cordelia put her hand on top of his, which was actually still on top of her leg. “Look, it’s no biggie. I just came to, oh, realize certain things. I was on this perfect trip with this perfect looking guy and all of the sudden I was wondering why I had to keep reminding myself that everything was perfect. And that got me wondering why I had to keep telling myself that Groo was endearingly naïve, not just dumb as rocks. And I realized how hard it was, what with all the reminding and telling myself stuff. It was too hard. Love, I mean, not that I’m the expert, but I don’t think love should be so hard. It should be something you just…slide into. It should be like coming home.”

Cordelia looked down at their still joined hands and shivered slightly. “So I told Groo that it wasn’t him it was me, we bought some souvenirs, and I sent him home. The end.” Cordy let out a dramatic breath and laid back on the couch.

Angel was smiling widely. Nice to know I don’t have any competition. I mean, it’s nice to know if I wanted to make a move on Cordelia like that, I wouldn’t have any competition. Okay, now I’m lying to myself. Great.

All of the sudden Angel had a thought. He frowned. “Soooo, this epiphany of yours. Was it the kind of epiphany that one has while walking solo on the beach at sunset or—.”

“Or?”

“Or did it happen post, you know, like me, with Darla?” Did you have sex? Was there nekkidness with the Groosalug? Were someone else’s hands in places that only mine should be touching?

“Angel, you just want raunchy details. It’s none of your business whether I commed when we shucked, or whether any shucking went on at all.”

Woman, that is so completely not an answer to my question. “I’m not looking for details. I’m just saying that, hey, with those teeth and his lack of experience with women from this dimension, I could understand if it ended with a perfect despair-induced epiphany.”

I should probably be defending Groo’s skills in the sack, or at least look angry. But it was hard to worry about Groo’s honor when Angel’s fingers were tracing higher and higher up her leg. He had to know what he was doing. His thumb was running over that spot right above her knee. That couldn’t be an accident. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah, sex with Groo. “Angel!”

“What! There weren’t a whole lot of cows in Pylea for him to practice on. It’s understandable.”

Cordelia was having issues with breathing. Angel was definitely leaning towards her now. His eyes held this intent look, like he was after something. And he was looking at her. “Uh, wha, what’s understandable?” Cordy asked.

Angel’s eyes were hooded and he had this sexual smirk on his face that Cordelia had never seen before. It made her insides go all liquidy. Oh shit! Now his hand was on the soft skin of her inner thigh. He was in a restricted area.

“It’s understandable, if you didn’t, you know. I mean, not ALL champions can be good,” his hand went a half inch higher, “at everything.”

Cordy knew she was staring and with her mouth hanging open she probably looked like a wide-eyed fish. He hit a particularly sensitive spot and she couldn’t hold in a gasp. As gasps went, it sounded an awful lot like a moan. She ran her tongue over her bottom lip and Angel’s eyes flared with what looked suspiciously like desire and—

In walked Buffy and Dawn. Cordelia swung her legs off Angel and yanked her skirt down. Angel didn’t move, he just sat there, clenching his teeth.

How many times is this gonna happen? Is there some sort of rule, are we not allowed to ever get to the good part?

Part 11

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete

Bad Timing. 9   1 comment

Part 9: Eureeka

Buffy came up stairs fifteen minutes later. She had broken the punching bag. Okay, so clearly I am having a few issues. Healthy aggression. That’s all. She felt better. She was back to being focused on the job at hand.

Not that Angel is a job. Being with him, that’s not a job…is it? No, it’s just harder for us to find our, uh, groove. But it’s still there. It has to be.

Assuring herself that all was once again right with the world, Buffy walked upstairs and opened the door…and the world was not as she expected.

Wes was walking around the lobby but never looking up from the book in his hand—he even handed Buffy a bottle of water, without even losing his place. He was clearly in high research mode. Fred and Dawn sat on the couch while Spike and Xander took turns holding Angel’s miracle child.

Buffy wandered into the kitchen where Cordelia sat at the table, painting Willow’s nails. Willow had that shy look on her face, one that Buffy hadn’t seen in years. It was like she was in awe of the fact that Cordelia was consenting to talk to her.

Buffy didn’t like that look.

Then there was Angel. The champion of the Powers that Be wasn’t sitting in a dark corner or polishing his antique weaponry. He was adding mushrooms and green peppers to a frying pan. He was making eggs. Alllll-right. So that part’s new. Buffy didn’t feel like commenting on the scene—she didn’t know who to address the comment to.

So she just sat down at the table next to Willow. She listened as Cordelia told Willow about the long-term benefits of getting pedicures on a bi-monthly basis. She watched as Spike laughed, no he almost giggled, when Connor spit up on him. She heard Gunn and Wesley arguing in a friendly way in the doorway of Wes’s office.

She took note of the way Cordelia would sneak icy glares in Angel’s direction and of the way he would bite his lip and look down when he intercepted those looks. Buffy silently took it all in and tried to control the growing dizziness that the scene around her evoked.

Angel was at a loss as to what to do. He could tell Cordelia wasn’t entirely happy with him. He might not be great at reading people, but he wasn’t blind. But I didn’t DO anything. She’s got no reason to be mad. Angel didn’t waste much time pondering that. He just wanted her happy again.

Even if she wasn’t yelling at him or anything, the past twenty minutes had been awful. It made him realize just how much he depended on trading looks and smiles with his best friend. How Cordy’s attitude really could make or break his day. He needed her happy…so he could be happy.

“Cordy, you want a couple of pieces of toast with that. Your omelet’s almost done.” Angel offered up. She didn’t look up from Willow’s pinky, only shrugged and mumbled whatever.

“So what are you in the mood for? Wheat? Rye? We might have some white lying around here somewhere.”

“Angel don’t worry about it,” Cordelia said. She blew on Willow’s nails. “Just forget the toast. I need eggs, now. I’m getting all weak from starvation. I don’t have the strength to discuss bread with you.”

“Right, sure, of course,” Angel stuttered. How did she do this to him? She made him feel like a stumbling idiot. “So,” he said, sliding the omelet onto a plate and placing it in front of her, “think you feel like training later. I have a couple of moves I’d love to show you.”

Angel was walking to the refrigerator when Cordelia’s tone froze him in place. “Don’t you think you’ve gotten enough ‘training’ in today? I’m sure if you haven’t Buffy would be more than happy to… finish you off.”

Angel decided it would be in his best interest to shrug that one off. Change the subject. Don’t talk about food or training. “Spike didn’t try anything last night, did he?” Willow and Cordelia both noted how Buffy’s eyebrows shot up with that comment, but neither said anything.

“No. Of course not. Spike was the perfect guest. Luckily, he doesn’t mysteriously get peanut butter on the sheets, unlike SOME PEOPLE.”

“Dammit Cordelia, that wasn’t me, that was y—”

“Whatever. Anyway,” Cordy said, more to Willow than Angel now, “Spike and I had a great time. He’s so funny. It’s amazing that he’s been around for a hundred something years and he’s so up on pop culture. Certain people are centuries behind on what’s cool.” Cordelia knew she was being beyond catty now but she couldn’t stop herself. She was hurting and angry and she knew she had no right to be angry and that was just making her angrier.

And there was only one person to reasonably take it out on. “And, lordie, that body. I love men with that tight chiseled look. He certainly didn’t put on any winter weight. Some vampires do you know. Put on a few pounds.”

“Interestingly enough Willow, vampires aren’t the only creatures that seem to be putting on weight this winter,” Angel bit out before he could stop himself. He heard the swift intake of breath, and in a move largely motivated by self-preservation, he turned to Buffy. “So, Buffy, do you have any plans for tonight?” Cordelia choked on her eggs.

“Oh she has plans. She has all kinds of plans,” Cordy mumbled so quietly that only a super-hearing vampire could have heard. Luckily there was one across the table from her. He merely glared in response.

Buffy had to focus for a second before she could answer her question. The things Cordelia had said about Spike, it’s just that, well, it was so rare to hear nice things about Spike. From someone besides Dawn that is. It gave Buffy the wiggins.

Wait, Angel wants to do something with me. That’s right. One night with the love of my life and it will stop. I won’t feel so gooey when people say nice stuff about Spike. “Dawn and I have to stop by my dad’s later, but I’m free after that. What did you have in mind?” she asked as seductively as was possible.

“Lorne’s club is having it’s grand re-opening tonight. I think you’ll like the place,” Angel said.

“I’m sure I’ll love it. You know, it doesn’t matter what we do,” Buffy said, reaching for Angel’s hand, “as long as we’re alo—.”

“Great. Fred, Buffy and her friends are gonna come with us to Caritas tonight. Can you tell Lorne we’ll need a table large enough for everyone?”

“Everyone,” Buffy repeated shakily.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to pass,” Wes said re-emerging from his office with Gunn. “I’ve hit a roadblock on my research. Won’t be able to focus until I have that Eureeka moment.” Wes grabbed an apple before heading back to his office. “I’ll be more than happy to watch Connor for you,” he said before shutting the door.

“He actually says ‘Eureeka’,” Xander asked no one in particular.

“Okay, so everyone but Wes. It’s gonna be great,” Angel said.

“Yeah, great. Fabulous,” Cordelia huffed. “I get to watch you make goo-goo eyes all night. Oh, and if I’m really lucky you’ll make a total ass of yourself and decide to sing.” The words were barely out of her mouth before Angel’s hand clamped down on her wrist, with an intimidating grip. He didn’t say anything. He just started walking towards the stairs. Cordy had no choice but to follow him, it was that or be dragged.

***

Neither of them spoke. Angel just went up the stairs and Cordelia didn’t offer any protest. She wasn’t stupid. She knew she had been behaving like a cranky adolescent. Angel had every right to be mad. She was actually a little grateful that he had chosen to go upstairs. There’s no way she wanted to have to kiss his ass in front of that group of people.

Angel pulled her into his room, finally letting go of her arm. He reached behind her and shut the door. The look on his face wasn’t unfamiliar, but it was rare that Cordelia ever saw it directed at her. It was anger. Anger bordering on rage. It was a look she had seen directed at Lilah, even a couple of times at Xander.

Not at her though. Not since all the beige-yness. Cordelia leaned back on the door. She decided it might be wise to stay near the exit. Angel stood directly in front of her, silent and unmoving. Finally he crossed his arms. He opened his mouth, then shut it and closed his eyes.

“Okay, care to explain the attitude,” he said in a hard voice. Cordelia hated that voice.

“Not really,” came her sullen response.

Angle raised one eyebrow in a move reminiscent of herself. “You don’t want to talk about why you’re acting like such a, a….”

“I think the word you are looking for is bitch.”

Angel’s eyebrow lowered and his arms fell to his side. He looked a little thrown that she was actually admitted it. He had expected more of a battle.

“That’s what I’ve been acting like,” Cordelia continued. “I realize that,” she said, now crossing her arms. Angel made a funny face as more of his anger deflated.

“So, yeah, well, why? Did, did Spike tell you something last night? About me? I should have never let you go home with him. I knew he couldn’t physically hurt you but Spike, he has this awful habit of talking. He TALKS and ruins everything.” Neither of them decided to point out that Angel had gone from angry to apologetic in 3.6 seconds.

“No, it’s not Spike. It’s… Look, Angel, I’m not perfect.” Cordy stopped and rolled her eyes as she noted Angel’s smirk. He had raised that eyebrow again, too. “Okay, so you already knew that one. But, it’s just, I get a little wacky around the Scoobies. They don’t like me much and they come here and make everything weird and then they leave and you do that whole post-Buffy brood session and I hate that and,” she trailed and took a deep breath. “I’m losing my mind.”

Angel immediately assumed the role of comforter. “No. You’re not perfect but you’re not losing your mind. This is weird for all of us. It’s understandable.”

“No, it’s not understandable, why I was so mad at you, it doesn’t make sense at all. I can’t understand why I start feeling threatened the minute they walk in the door. The minute SHE walks in the door. I mean, I saw you two…training…and I just, I—it bothered me. It felt like.” Cordelia couldn’t finish. She realized she was actually blushing.

Angel couldn’t believe she had stopped there. Finally, finally, they were getting close to something. He needed to hear more. “Like what?”

“It’s like you were cheating on me in OUR special place. Which is like so completely crazy. Because, number one, the basement is not a special place and, two, HELLO. You and I, we’re not, you know..” She said, making some odd motions between the two of them.

“And there’s no reason I shouldn’t expect Buffy on top of you. She has a perfectly legitimate right to straddle. Star-crossed lovers have straddling rights. I get that. It’s just the whole thing, I don’t know, it threw me. Stupid, huh?”

Angel slowly shook his head. “No, it’s not stupid.” So wait, is she trying to tell me that she’s jealous. That’s what she said. She said she felt like I cheated on her.

“You don’t have to make excuses for me,” Cordelia said. She sighed and walked a couple of steps closer to him. “My moment of insanity has passed. I promise.

Angel was touching her before he could stop himself. He touched the side of her face, then tucked a strand of hair behind her ears. “You are not insane Cordy. You’re not stupid or insane. You—.” Angel didn’t know what to say.

I can’t believe the right moment is finally here and I don’t know how to tell her. Should I mention the dreams? Should I tell her I like her, like more than a friend. Geez, why don’t I just pass her a note during study hall while I’m at it.

“I, what?” Cordelia asked. His hand had moved from her cheek to that spot right where her neck met her shoulder. She felt his hand move behind so it was almost cupping her neck and start to pull her forward. Pull her towards him.

Lorne burst in. “Angelcakes. You’re progeny downstairs is wanting some Daddy time. Aunty Lorne just won’t do.” Angel looked down at the ground and let out an unnecessary breath. He released Cordy’s neck and started to walk around her.

“You better come back down too, your food will be getting cold,” he said softly. Cordy nodded but didn’t move, so Angel walked away. Lorne still stood just inside the room, biting his lip.

“Well, do I know how to kill a moment or what?”

“Lorne, that wasn’t a moment, that, it was—”

“It was you two coming very close to waking up and smelling the kyrumption. Don’t worry sweetie. They’ll be another chance. You should probably admit it to yourself first though.”

“Admit what?”

“Admit that you know why you were acting like such a shrew downstairs. You know exactly why walking in on them upset you too much. It’s not a mystery. You were jealous.”

Well duh. Way ahead of you there buddy.

“And you were jealous because…” Lorne said.

Because I’m protective of my best friend. And our purely best friend relationship. And some small part of me, okay, every single female part of me wanted to be the one straddling him. And then I could’ve leaned down and kissed him and told him…that…oh sweet Jesus I’m in love with him. I love Angel.

Cordy wanted scream, wanted to yell that it couldn’t be, but it was too late, it was. Her vacation epiphany hadn’t been that Angel was a hottie. It hadn’t been that he would make a nice fuck-buddy. It hadn’t been about WANTING Angel at all. It had been about loving Angel.

Cordelia’s legs felt weak and she slumped onto the bed and proceeded to bury her face in her hands.

“There you go. Guess you just had one of Wes’s Eureka moments.” Lorne made the comment in a low voice, then turned around and left the room.

Part 10

Posted July 5, 2015 by califi in Complete