Archive for July 15, 2015

What the Dickens?   Leave a comment

Title: What the Dickens?     WtD ficpic
Author: Lysa
Posted: 12/04
Rating: PG
Email
Category: Holiday Insanity…Pure Spirit-of-Christmas Silliness
Content: Content: No Pairing, just Angel, Cordy & Wes
Summary: A client shows up at the Hyperion on the day after Christmas begging the Angel Investigations crew to take his case.
Spoilers: Late Season 1 / Early Season 2
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. The song used in this fic is by Dr. Elmo. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: here…please let me know.
Notes/Reading Tips: ***1) I had a crazy idea at 3am one morning & this is the result. It wouldn’t go away until I wrote it.***2) The main body of the story is told with the same rhyming cadence as “The Night Before Christmas” and has nothing whatsoever to do with the story by Major Henry Livingston, Jr. Be warned: there’s rhyming ahead (sorta).***3) The italicized words in green are the lyrics from the song and represents… Their Client’s Story.
Thanks/Dedication: Thanks to Lissette for the gorgeous ficpic!
Feedback: Absolutely! Any way, shape or form.


Twas the day after Christmas, when through the front door
Came a man dressed in black, tracking mud on the floor.
Here for their help, he begged to be heard;
Angel nodded his head and said not a word.

Wes encouraged the stranger to tell them all,
To include every detail, no matter how small.
While Cordy took notes and without further delay,
Asked how the new client intended to pay.

Into his pocket, he reached with a flash
To pull out a wallet and its large wad of cash.
I’m Charlie, he said, and I’ve come a long way;
There’s a killer out there I want you to slay.

What monstrous demon was this, Wes had to ask;
Angel considered weaponry for the gory task.
Evidence was clear, Charlie explained with a shout;
As to the culprit, there was never a doubt:

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walking home from our house Christmas Eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and grandpa we believe.

Not a snigger was heard as they gaped in reaction,
Then recovered quite quickly, taking immediate action.
As Angel easily hauled him to his feet,
Charlie begged not to be tossed out on the street.

Explaining he’d pay them for their time,
He told them the details of the crime.
Counting their money, Cordelia gave him a smile,
Encouraging Charlie to stay a while.

Would they take the case, he awaited their answer
About tracking down Santa, Blitzen, Donner and Prancer.
The details he gave them left no room for debate,
But for his dear old grandma, it was simply too late.

She’d been drinking too much eggnog,
and we begged her not to go.
But she forgot her medication, and she
staggered out the door into the snow.
When we found her Christmas morning,
at the scene of the attack,
she had hoof-prints on her forehead,
and incriminating Claus marks on her back.

Wes asked the others, with a reasoned veneer
To consider things might not be what they appear.
The police came and went, Charlie said, with a frown;
He’d gotten his hopes up and they’d let him down.

No one at headquarters believed his theory;
Santa was supposed to be old, fat and cheery.
Not murdering helpless old women he meets;
Or hit and run victims he sees on the streets.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walking home from our house Christmas Eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and grandpa we believe.

Away to his bookshelves, Wesley gave thoughtful pause,
About identifying a demon disguised as Santa Claus.
With a roll of her eyes Cordy balked at his decision,
If this was real, she’d have been given a vision.

Angel leaned into the doorframe in a cross-armed stance,
Observing their visitor with a curious glance.
Giving Wes time to find clues demonic, mystic or mundane,
Or to simply conclude that the man was insane.

Now we’re all so proud of grandpa,
He’s been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
drinking beer and
playing cards with Cousin Mel.

With an arch of a brow, an I-told-you-so,
Cordelia suggested they let Charlie go.
No, no, Wes insisted as he skimmed through the book,
Requesting more time to research, he continued to look.

The books came up empty, no hints or a clue,
But taking the case was still something to do.
Charlie’s grandma was dead, no matter the reason,
No matter what happened this Christmas season.

Seeing that Wes planned to let him stay,
Cordelia looked for something else to say,
While Charlie sat miserably, a tear in his eye,
His hand absently strayed to rest on her thigh.

Patting his hand, Cordelia gave it a nudge,
With Angel glowering openly when he didn’t budge;
A huge sigh sounded as Charlie finally let go,
And spoke of his misery, depression and woe.

It’s not Christmas without Grandma,
All the family’s dressed in black
and we just can’t help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts,
or send them back?

Cordelia called out, Send them back?!

Now the goose is on the table
and the pudding made of fig
and the blue and silver candles
that would just have matched
the hair in grandma’s wig.

Choked up by the sad story, Wes gave him a pen,
Asking how they might contact Charlie again.
They’d investigate more fully and get back a.s.a.p.,
To let him know if they made a new discovery.

Charlie jotted his name and phone number down,
To find Wes staring at it with a deepening frown.
Something wrong, he asked, as he tugged at his tie,
Nervously wondering as to the reason why.

Gaping with shock, Wes repeated the name:
Charles Dickens? He stared at the card, face aflame.
No coincidence, this, he finally concluded
Realizing he’d been completely deluded.

Yep, that’s me, Charlie said with a smile,
The glint in his eyes charming, designed to beguile.
Charlie told them he was impressed with Angel Investigations,
And he planned to inform the rest of his relations.

It was certain his uncle would come some time today
To tell them of his own Christmas troubles, and pay,
Apparently, he was haunted by a ghost,
Just one, Charlie said, two or three at the most.

Without having to ask him, Wes knew the old geezer
Would no doubt be the famed Mister Scrooge: Ebenezer.
Angel put his original plan into action once more
By hauling their visitor through the front door.

Before he said his farewells and drove out of sight,
Leaving Angel, Cordy and Wes to call it a night,
Charlie left them with one final thought
No matter the anguish or confusion he’d wrought.

I’ve warned all my
friends and neighbors
better watch out for yourselves,
they should never give a license
to a man who drives a sleigh
and plays with elves.

~*FIN*~

Lysa

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 6   1 comment

***

Angel awakened mid afternoon to Cordelia’s scent surrounding him. Gathering the pillow closer, he breathed deep and in his mind separated out each minute scent that made up the essence of her still clinging to the pillowcase.

Smothering his own laugh upon realizing he was sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, Angel guessed he had moved over to where Cordelia’s body had lain during her nap. Could he be any more pathetic, he wondered just before noting the way the sheets tented over his erection.

That answers that, Angel groaned remembering that he’d also been dreaming about her.

Flinging the covers aside, Angel stared down at his aroused body willing himself to relax. Not that it had ever obeyed him before, but it was worth a try. Get a grip you randy prick, he tried to focus on the random thought, but it only seemed to come out as a lewd suggestion.

“That’s what I’m trying to avoid,” Angel growled. There would be no gripping of any kind as long as the only thing he could think of was his best friend.

Certainly not while she went around pretending he was big brother material. Blast it, if Angel wasn’t close to tracing the Chase family tree just to prove to her that he was not on it. Launching himself out of bed with a frustrated move, Angel stalked naked into the bathroom.

Emerging almost an hour later, Angel discovered Cordelia standing at his bedside. He hastily belted his robe before she turned around to face him. For some reason, she was changing his sheets as if she knew he’d been wallowing in her scent all night long and come to steal them away before he really made a fool of himself.

Angel tried to keep his voice steady as he asked, “What’s this?”

“A little modern magic,” Cordelia told him as she met him at the end of the bed. “My gift to you for taking such good care of me yesterday.”

“Sheets?”

“Not just any sheets,” she quirked a brow and smiled. “I promise you’ll never sleep the same way again.”

Glancing at the pile of discarded bed linen on the chair, Angel realized she was right. Unless Cordelia’s scent came with the sheets, it wouldn’t be the same. “Were you so uncomfortable with the old sheets?”

“No comparison, Angel,” she told him as she reclined on the bed letting her hair fan out behind her. The top she wore was sleeveless and had thin crisscrossed straps across her back leaving most of her skin exposed. “Mmm, it’s heaven.”

Angel felt certain that was a fair description of what he was seeing right now. It was not like Cordelia hadn’t been in his bed before, but there was just something sensual in the way she spoke and how her tempting curves stood out across the blue cotton sheets.

“Go ahead,” Cordelia encouraged. “Touch them.”

Reaching forward, Angel barely managed to figure out that she was talking about the sheets and not the delicious swell of her breasts. He picked up the edge of the loose top sheet running his hand along the fabric. Admittedly, he had to agree the quality surpassed anything in the Hyperion’s linen closet.

“Nice.”

“Is that all you have to say?” Cordelia bounded off the bed to stand beside him, her eyes sparkling with mischief and gazing intently into his. “They’re more than nice.”

The purr behind those words caught him off-guard. Did friends talk to friends with a throaty promise in their voice? Curious to find out, Angel answered back, “Guess I could give them another chance. Test them out.”

“Then lose the robe. I won’t peek,” she promised crossing her fingers up near her collarbone in plain sight. “Feel them on your bare skin.”

Her fingers toyed with the end of his belt, but Cordelia made no move to tug despite her curiosity knowing that there was nothing beneath that robe except Angel. She licked at her lips with nervous excitement as she watched a dawning light appear on Angel’s face.

Cordelia could not hide the want in her eyes and for the first time Angel allowed himself to see it.

Lifting his hand to her face, he traced her cheek with his fingers brushing his thumb across her lips leaving them tingling. Throwing caution to the wind, he responded, “I’d rather feel them on your bare skin.”

Desire darkened in his eyes as he spoke and Cordelia could only gasp at the impact of his direct stare. All she could do was listen to the sound of her own thundering pulse as it filled her ears. Her moment of triumph in realizing that Angel did want her was eclipsed by her own escalating need.

Leaning into his touch, Cordelia murmured his name like a caress against his hand. “Angel.”

“That excites you? My touching you,” Angel felt as if the blinders had finally been lifted off his senses.

Softly, she confirmed his discovery, “Yes.”

“Oh God.” Was it even possible for a vampire’s prayers to be answered? Seemingly, yes.

Angel closed his arms around her tucking his head down on her shoulder as relief washed over him like a sudden downpour in the desert. His hands moved over her shoulders and back, pressed flat, his fingers splayed open to touch every inch he could reach.

“You smell so good,” he drank her scent in deep. “I’m like a bee buzzing around the perfect rose. I can’t get enough of you, Cordy. Guess you noticed.”

“No,” Cordelia admitted, puzzled by his confession. “You’ve been ignoring me.”

Angel corrected, “Trying too. Pretending my body doesn’t react every time you come near. You know how much your friendship means to me and I don’t want anything to ruin it. Not again.”

“Then don’t let it,” Cordelia inched her fingers along his chest beneath the navy robe. “Best way to do that is to give me what I want.”

Reacting to her impish smile as she brushed her fingers across his nipple, Angel let his own finger curve around her shoulder, one knuckle circling around her nipple as it puckered up against the thin material of her red top. Then his hand splayed open against her ribs moving back up to map the curves of her breast.

“What would that be, Miss Chase?”

“You.”

Infinite slowness brought them to their first kiss. It lasted moments, only a touch of their lips, a taste of curiosity. They parted no longer than it took to gaze intensely into each other’s eyes, communicating recognition of the feelings that kiss evoked.

Then hungry need took over as voracious kisses followed. Those deep devouring clenches came interspersed with soft nips and the tender sucking of her lips and tongue as Angel explored her mouth with his own.

Cordelia moaned her pleasure at the sensations he evoked, her body humming with a desire that fed the ache low in her belly. Reacting on instinct, Cordelia returned his kisses inventing a few of her own along the way. Her hands were everywhere as they tangled in his short spiky hair, gripped his shoulders and snuck under his robe to curl around to his muscular back.

Angel’s delight in her enthusiasm was evident in the smile that flirted at his lips in between kisses. His touches were more deliberate and designed to heighten her arousal as well as his own. When his hands slid beneath the stretchy red top, Angel found nothing to hinder his touch as his fingers curved around the full globes of her breasts.

“How’s that for titillation?” Cordelia sounded a breathy laugh into his ear just before nibbling on his earlobe and sucking it into her mouth.

His smirk appeared as Angel plumped her breasts in his skillful hands, his fingers teasing her sensitive flesh and tweaking the soft velvet tips into hard little points. Angel bent down and sucked one into his mouth fabric and all eliciting a sharp cry from Cordelia who grabbed him by the head to pull him up to her mouth.

Deeper & desperate their kisses became. Cordelia shifted her hips against him as she felt his hard member pressing into her thigh. Her leg hooked over his and Angel let out a groan of need as she moved her hips to bring herself into closer contact with his engorged sex. Reaching between them, he deftly unbuttoned her low-waisted pants and unzipped them with ease slipping his fingers through the downy curls.

“Wait!” Cordelia’s sudden cry startled them both. She hadn’t planned to say that, but her mouth opened and the word came out.

Angel slowly moved his hand back up to her waist now worried that she was having second thoughts about being with him this way. Then it occurred to him that Cordelia might be afraid of the likelihood of waking up tomorrow with Angelus.

“Do you not want this?” Angel asked despite the ache in his chest and loins. “We can stop. We’re taking things a little fast.”

“We’ve taken forever,” she told him smiling. Then with a husky promise, claimed “I do want this and you so much.”

He smoothed his hands up and down her nearly bare back, asking confusedly, “Then why stop me?”

Good question. she asked herself even a she circled her arms around his neck. “I just need to know. Is this just for now, today, something to stave off the cold? I want to know what to expect tomorrow.”

“More of the same,” Angel answered cupping her face in both hands. He kissed her until she melted in his arms. Starry-eyed, she trailed her fingers down to the ties of his robe starting to release the belt from its knot.

One large hand clamped down on hers. “Wait.”

Arching an eyebrow, Cordelia did just that even though the temptation to keep on pulling at that belt made her fingers itch. She dropped it, sliding her hand back up to his chest where the demon claw marks were now barely visible.

“There’s no reason to be scared,” he assured her. “You know I’d never put you in any danger. Even from me if I can help it.”

“I’m not scared,” Cordelia drew a random pattern on the hard wall of his chest with her fingertip. Thinking this was the beginning of the big Angelus-is-no-threat speech, she lowered her eyes and tried not to give away the fact that she already knew his secret.

“Cordy, I love you so much,” his words stunned her. Cordelia’s eyes darted back up to meet his. Angel curled his finger under her chin. “You’re my blunt voice of reason, my humanity, my heart. You complete me. For so long, I thought there was nothing I could give you. Not even myself.”

Tears of happiness glistened brightening the hazel orbs to a golden hue. “But…”

Cutting off her protest, Angel swept his thumb across her lips. “I have to tell you something. My soul…it’s safe now. There are no more worries about losing it. It’s secure permanently.”

As Angel dropped his hand away awaiting the response to everything he’d said, he didn’t have to wait long. A smile of megawatt brilliance appeared along with the return of that flirtatious glint in her eye. “So you’re saying bliss can be had by all?”

“I can give you a lifetime of fleeting moments of bliss, Cordelia,” he told her with a confidence that only wavered when he added, “but can I make you happy?”

“You already do. Angel…,” she stood on her tiptoes to whisper in his ear, “I’m in love with you too.”

“Really?” He just looked so cute asking for more confirmation that Cordelia caught herself rolling her eyes.

“No, I was joking,” she told him. “Love a homely vamp like you? Pfft! As for bliss, there’s probably nothing to see under that robe anyway.”

Then she snagged the belt and yanked until the robe fell open. In a small wondrous voice though she was aiming for amusing quip, “Nope, nothing at all,” but managed to sound close to breathless.

Nothing except Angel all impressively impressive, she gaped. When her gaze finally lifted back to his face, Cordelia saw passion burning in those sinful eyes. He’d let her look her fill without saying a word, but she wasn’t done yet.

“Let me,” was all she asked.

Staying just out of arms reach, she moved behind him, curling her hands over his shoulders to grasp the collar of his robe. Pulling it over his massive shoulders and down his arms, Cordelia watched as the robe slid into a blue puddle around his feet.

Angel’s chest rumbled with a deep moan as Cordelia’s hands, warm against his cool skin slid across the bunched muscles of his back. Her fingers traced the edge of the ‘A’ in his tattoo. Then her lips scorched his flesh at the center of his spine between his shoulder blades.

Moving again, Cordelia met Angel’s hungry gaze halfway there letting her hand trail down his back to palm the solid curve of his ass. Back to the front again, Cordelia appreciatively let her eyes wander up and down the hard male body that was even more spectacular than her imagination.

All that salty goodness…mine, Cordelia lifted a finger to her mouth sucking on the tip.

Angel didn’t need a reflection to confirm Cordelia’s impression. He could read it in her eyes and in the impish smile that flirted over her mouth. “Like what you see, baby?”

“I see a lot I like.” Cordelia watched him step closer and shivered in anticipation of his touch. Taking that last moment to glance down again at his aroused flesh and up the length of his sculpted torso to his eyes, she added with a cheeky grin, “Baby.”

The moment her wandering fingertips grazed his hard flesh, Angel wondered if he’d be able to pull off playing the masterful lover to this sensuous vixen when he suddenly felt like a horny teenager wanting nothing more than to bury himself inside her. Not to be outdone Angel distracted her with drugging kisses as he undressed Cordelia.

Then turning her in his arms, Angel kept his hands on her belly one above the other as he nuzzled her neck. His hands lifted to cup her breasts as he whispered words that spoke to her beauty in her ear. Cordelia held onto his thighs, her bare bottom pressing against his hard shaft, a moan on her lips as Angel took a step back.

Dropping down on his knee, he pressed his lips to the tattoo gracing the small of her back, the faces of the sun and moon entwined. There was only one mark that might be more appropriate, Angel knew, but this wasn’t the time to delve into his demon’s fantasies.

As Angel rose to his feet, he stepped close to the bed to pull the loose top sheet from its spot on the mattress. Wrapping it around them both, playfully reminding Cordelia, “I think we’re supposed to be testing these sheets. Was this what you had in mind?”

Cordelia realized too late that he was backing her up toward the bed and she let out a squeal of laughter when they both tumbled onto the mattress. Holding on to the edges of the sheet, Angel whipped it over their heads completely covering them up. Light filtering through the sheets saved them from complete darkness.

“Is this an undercover operation?” Cordelia giggled, but soon stopped laughing as Angel’s hands and mouth came into contact with her body.

Tickling and teasing in between kisses and touches that left Cordelia drenched with wanting, Angel intended to memorize every millimeter of her smooth skin before allowing himself release. Above them, the sheets slid over their bare flesh adding another level of stimulation.

The cotton threads shifted over her face as Cordelia cried out in want pleading with Angel as his mouth teased close to her center, pressing kisses into her inner thigh and the soft forest of chestnut curls. Cordelia stared straight down the length of her torso between the valley of her breasts and along the sloping path ringed by her navel directly meeting Angel’s potent gaze.

His knowing fingers worked their magic and his agile tongue played like a Riverdance on her silken folds. So close. So close to the edge, but not quite. Angel kept building her pleasure earning raves as Cordelia noisily encouraged him. Her hands wandered from her breasts, down to her inner thighs alternately tangling in his short hair and gripping at his shoulders. Slowly driven to frenzy, Cordelia looked straight down into his eyes again, this time as he sucked the swollen bud of her clit into his mouth.

Then Cordelia’s orgasm spiraled to its peak as Angel fingers moved along her slick channel curving in just the right spot to send her flying. Her head thrashed along the mattress as Angel’s tongue lapped up the liquid ambrosia of her sex.

Cordelia’s flushed face brushed against the sheet clinging to her dewy skin as Angel prowled up the length of her body. She whipped the sheet aside tossing it to the end of the bed and curled up on to her knees as he came up onto his leaving them face to face again.

“My turn,” she flashed that teasing grin.

Angel thought of her going down on him and nearly fell over. He didn’t want her to think it was expected and almost suggested to her that it was not necessary for her to reciprocate. Making him, he felt certain, the only man—pire in existence to refuse such an offer from his mate, especially considering his current state of arousal.

Mate? The thought caught Angel by surprise, but somehow it brought a warm feeling along with it. They’d have to talk about that when he finally let her out of his bed. Sometime next Tuesday, maybe.

Reconsidering his plan to simply take her now, Angel decided they had all the time in the world tonight for anything they wanted. Since Cordy hadn’t been specific, Angel decided to play along. “Just give me a hint. Tell me what you want.”

“I’m way past subtle hints,” Cordelia poked a finger in the center of his chest and gave a tiny push. Cooperating, Angel fell back on the mattress propping himself up with his elbows for support as he waited to let her have her way with him. “I want what I want and I plan to take it.”

Angel licked at his lips as he controlled the urge to lift her into his lap and let her ride him. “Go ahead. Just don’t expect me to keep my hands to myself.”

Looking head to toe at the long expanse of his body, Cordelia hardly knew where to begin. Trailing her fingers up from his feet to his thighs, she felt the heavily corded muscle beneath her touch and sounded out a little moue of delight at the sensation.

The direction of her hands suggested she was just going for it and Angel watched as her fingers crept closer and closer to his hard shaft. Other than the sensual rub of the sheets against it as he lay in the cradle of Cordelia’s hips and thighs, it remained eager for attention.

Then Cordelia surprised him. Her hands moved to his outer thighs and then propped on the bed on either side of his hips as she crawled up to kiss just the corner of his mouth. “Do you like my kisses?”

“You have to ask?” Angel curled a hand into the cascade of her hair as he captured her mouth again.

Parting on a moan and reminding himself that he was letting Cordelia play a little, Angel contented himself with toying with her hair as she moved her mouth to yet another sensitive area. She sucked softly at the flesh of his neck eliciting a deeper groan and her hands wandered over his broad shoulders.

“Are you as sensitive here as I am?” she queried curiously as her tongue lashed across one flat nipple and the small brown circle around it. From his body’s reaction, it seemed clear. “Mmm, you are.”

By the time Cordelia worked her way down his torso, Angel was close to losing it. His control was quickly crumbling under the onslaught of her hands and mouth. There was a hint of topaz in his eyes as he spoke next, “Practice teasing me later, vixen. If you don’t put your mouth on me right now, we’re going to skip the rest of your turn and move on.”

Reminded of his predatory nature, Cordelia realized it wasn’t really in that nature to give her the freedom to explore her curiosity with his body. Giving her this chance to play came on a knife’s point edge of control and Cordelia suddenly wanted to find out how far she could push him. She gripped him moving her hand in a tight ring along the shaft marveling at his smooth hardness while her eyes feasted on Angel’s every reaction to her touch.

Cordelia felt the impact of Angel’s lusty encouragements and urgent undertone with the inward clenching of her loins. Her mouth brushed over his velvet tip tasting the salty drop of fluid beading there. Licking her lips, she met his intent gaze with a quick glance before taking him into her mouth. Her head bobbed up and down as she hollowed her cheeks and sucked on the broad crown, her fingers curling beneath and working along the rest of his shaft.

Whether seconds or minutes ticked by, Angel neither knew nor cared. He kept his eyes glued on Cordelia, watching her wet mouth move over him. Until finally, Angel pulled her up the length of his body setting her down so that she pressed fully into him.

One hand stayed low on her back, keeping her hips and belly in tight contact with his erection. The other tangled in her hair as he savagely claimed her mouth, his tongue invading and dueling with hers. Flipping them both over, Angel spread her thighs taking a moment to gaze down at the swollen pink folds of her sex still glistening with her arousal.

“Baby, I can’t wait a minute more to have you,” Angel explained needlessly. That was all too apparent and Cordelia was far from being upset that her turn had come to an end. There would be more time for fun and games later.

“Please, Angel,” she wanted him badly enough not to care that it sounded like begging. Lifting her knees a little higher, Cordelia dropped her hand to her aching center, fingers sliding along her slick flesh as she hissed at the sensation.

Fisting his turgid length, Angel rubbed the tip along her folds and the feminine fingers that moved to assist his entry. He rocked his hips back and forth, his hand now cupping her bottom tilting her hips higher, thrusting steadily through the hot core that clenched down against his intrusion and alternately opened up to let him in.

Wrapping him in her intimate hold, Cordelia circled his shoulders and tucked her legs around him as her hips bucked upward meeting his in that timeless rhythm. Heaven and Earth could have come crashing down around them unnoticed. Words of love and lust crossed their lips between succulent kisses on this first journey of passion.

The ecstasy they found in each others arms peaked almost simultaneously. Cordelia cried out nearly unintelligibly, her eyes open and making pinpoint contact with his as she crashed over the edge into oblivion. Her inner muscles fluttered around Angel’s engorged member as he pistoned in and out thrusting deep until he threw his head back and called out her name.

They held each other tightly, Angel’s face buried along the curve of her throat as he listened to the steady pulse against his ear, breathing deeply to memorize the scents surrounding them at this moment. Cordelia palmed the nape of his neck as he softly kissed the pulse at its strongest point, a little gasp at her throat as she felt it quicken in curiosity and anticipation.

Angel read the question in her eyes as he slowly withdrew and shifted his weight to the side. His thumb trailed over the spot that would one day bear his mark. “Maybe later.”

“What else comes later?” Cordelia asked as her fingers tapped on her hip as she was propped up by one hand on her side.

“You again.”

Eyes sparkling, she grinned, “How soon might that be?”

“Maybe sooner than you think,” Angel leaned forward to kiss her. “I only hope we won’t have Wes and Gunn barging in on us. Immovably chained to this bed is not what I have in mind.”

“Dunno. That could be fun for a little while,” laughed Cordelia who knew they had nothing to fear from their friends. Not tonight anyway. “Lucky for you that Fred has convinced those two busybody friends of ours that she wanted to go to the carnival tonight.”

Wondering how Fred got involved, Angel asked, “What’s she got to do with it?”

“Genius, remember? Fred helped me formulate my Angel seduction stratagem. Only you managed to elude all of my sure-fire attempts to get you to notice me,” Cordelia revealed with a laugh.

“Trust me, I noticed.”

“Then I discovered the secret weapon,” Cordelia reached behind her to pull up the blue top sheet tickling under his chin with the corner.

Trying to keep a straight face, Angel nodded, “Sheets.”

“Nine hundred thread count Egyptian cotton,” she sighed running her hand along the part of the sheet tucked between her breasts drawing his eyes there. Quipping, “No man can resist ‘em.”

Angel smirked in agreement, “Especially when they’re wrapped around you.”

End.

Lysa

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 5   1 comment

Cordelia had her chin on his shoulder as Angel carried her the last remaining steps to the car. The others had stopped back at the table to pay for their meal using the company card and to gather their belongings.

“You’ll tuck me into bed?”

That question sounded like the start of one of his many Cordelia fantasies. Holding her while discussing anything related to his bed was definitely dangerous as subjects went. “That’s where you belong until the demon is dead and your migraine goes away.”

I belong in his bed, Cordelia twisted his words to suit herself. A smile curled the corners of her mouth at the idea that he’d said so. Now if only she could get Angel to read between the lines like she did. Unfortunately, her manpire was as thick-headed as he was handsome.

Angel opted to drive, though it was a toss up between that and continuing to hold Cordelia. He’d left that up to Wesley and Fred. Gunn took shotgun while Angel sped all the way back to the hotel.

Then he had her in his arms again and this time she did protest considering that time was short. “I’ll just go upstairs myself. Maybe Fred can get me my purse and a glass of water. It’s almost time for big ugly to show up.”

“I’ll tell her,” Angel promised, but he made no move to stop until he had deposited Cordelia on his bed. “I want you to rest. We’ll deal with the demon.”

Bending over, he ran a hand down her calf along the sheer silk nylons to remove her shoe and repeated the move with the other. Angel set them down beneath the bedside chair as Cordelia sat on the side of his bed watching him and wondering what it would be like to be here without the vision headache and him having to rush off to save the patrons of Taco Haven from a nasty demon.

Angel was about to tell her to slide under the covers when he noticed the bulky clip at the back of her head holding her hair up. Reaching out to remove it, he simply said, “You can’t sleep like that.”

Cordelia felt her hair tumble down her back and across her shoulders. The moment Angel combed his fingers through her soft tresses, Cordelia felt her decision to grow it out again after her return from Pylea was a good one.

Even if his touch was meant to minister to her pain with kindness, Cordelia wanted it to mean something else. She turned her face into his open palm, closing her eyes for an instant as she slipped her legs onto the mattress.

As promised, Angel tucked her into bed pulling the covers up high and tucking them under her arms. For a moment, he simply looked down at her, hovering close as if he was considering something. Cordelia wanted nothing more than for him to close that distance and press his cool lips against hers. They tingled with need despite the ache in her head.

“Make it better, Angel,” she whispered. “Make it go away.”

With his hand against her cheek, Angel brushed his mouth against her forehead like best friends and even big brothers might do, though he mentally wiped out the latter consideration as soon as he’d thought it.

“Time to go, but I’ll be home soon.”

***

Cordelia knew the moment the demon was dead. The last remnants of her migraine vanished as if it had never existed. While she really wanted to stay snuggled up in Angel’s bed, she was too concerned about the boys coming back with injuries that might require patching up.

She was down in the lobby with Fred, the First Aid kit at the ready by the time they arrived back at the Hyperion. Fred had changed into casual clothing, but Cordelia hadn’t bothered to look for anything. She was still wearing her short black dress, but only brought the shoes as far as the lobby rather than putting them on again.

“What are you doing out of bed?” Angel asked as Cordelia rushed over to meet them at the door.

Not bothering with an answer, Cordelia was too busy checking the three of them for signs of injury. She was appalled by the amount of blood coating their clothing. “Tell me that’s demon blood and not yours.”

“We’d be lying,” Wes confessed as he limped toward the couch. He was pressing a handkerchief tinged with red to his shoulder. “Angel took the brunt of it as usual. I think Gunn and I escaped with contusions and superficial lacerations.”

Fred was wide-eyed as she looked at the trio. Turing to Cordelia, she asked, “How can I help?”

“You take Gunn while I patch up Wes,” Cordelia pointed to the peroxide, antiseptic and bandages. “I’ll deal with Angel in a minute.”

“He’s the worst,” Fred pointed out. “Shouldn’t we fix him up first?”

Angel assured her, “I can wait.”

“But…”

Cutting in, Gunn reminded her, “Living Dead over there is already healing. You won’t be able to tell he was injured in the morning. Wes and me ain’t so lucky. So being first in line for a little TLC is justice.”

“That does seem fair,” Fred agreed with all seriousness. Then asked, “How’s Taco Haven? Did it survive the demon attack?”

It hurt when Angel laughed, so he kept quiet as Gunn assured the taco-loving Texan that after a few days her favorite restaurant would be back in business. Her relief at the news was visible.

Cordelia and Fred quickly tended to the minor cuts of their human companions and then it was Angel’s turn.

“Stop squirming, you big baby. It can’t be that bad,” Cordelia complained dabbing hydrogen peroxide onto the angry red claw marks crossing Angel’s chest.

Protesting, Angel answered, “You’re not the injured party.”

“Sit back and don’t move. How can I clean this properly if you keep moving around like that?”

“It stings,” he told her as he flexed his shoulder and shifted his legs again. “Maybe you should blow on it.”

Rolling her eyes, Cordelia pursed her lips and blew air across his chest. “Better?”

“Not really,” he might have been pouting, but Cordelia had seen him injured far more seriously to believe that. Angel rubbed at the open area on his chest as if to wipe away the irritating antiseptic.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Cordelia sounded incensed as she pushed on his uninjured shoulder to keep him steady. “I’ll have to start over.”

Angel honestly gave her an out, “I’ll be fine.”

“Pfft! Like I haven’t heard that before,” she waved off the suggestion. Grabbing more clean cotton balls, she moistened them with the cleanser and started her task over. “I saw that. You moved.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“Nope.”

“You asked for it, buddy,” Cordelia harrumphed as she climbed onto his lap to stop him from squirming across the couch. “I told you to hold still.”

Angel realized he got more than he bargained for by teasing Cordelia. She always took her Florence Nightingale routine very seriously. He almost hated to admit to himself how much he looked forward to these little first aid sessions.

Not that he had ever considered getting himself injured purposefully; it was just nice that Cordelia cared enough to take care of him as if he was a man and not just a vampire.

Like a friend would, Angel issued himself a stern reminder even as his hands grabbed onto her hips to steady her as she balanced on his thighs. Realizing that his fingers were pressed into the firm globes of her bottom, he moved them away only to settle on her upper thighs. His thumb brushed against something and Angel’s eyes darted down to see that her the edge of her dress had hiked up to reveal a black silk garter holding up her stocking. All he had to do was press his thumb up just a fraction to touch her skin.

That’s not on the list of things to do tonight, he reminded himself. Friends do not feel each other up, dammit. She just smells so fucking good. Bet my bed will be full of that scent tonight.

“Almost done,” Cordelia told him oblivious to the position of his hands or the reason for his sudden stillness. She was too focused on measuring out the right length of tape to stick to the 4×4 gauze sponges covering his wounds.

“Good, just hurry,” his voice sounded almost gruff.

Cordelia paused long enough to ask, “What’s your rush? Don’t tell me you have plans to patrol around the shelter again.”

“No,” Angel denied quickly. “I think that situation is resolved.”

Taping the last 4×4 in place, Cordelia raised a brow and tried her best to sound only vaguely interested. “Really?”

“Definitely,” he answered realizing that if Cordelia didn’t move soon she was going to be find out just how friendly some parts of him could be.

Angel lifted her to her feet and stood up at the same time. She looked a little puzzled by his hasty actions. Stepping closer, Cordelia commented, “We were cheated out of our dance. You owe me one, broody.”

“Maybe when we all go out again in six months or so,” Angel nodded to her dismay.

“Six months,” Cordelia actually believed he meant it as she fisted her hands on her hips. “You’re like the Scrooge of Fun. Bah Humbug! You wouldn’t know fun if it came and bit you on the ass.”

“Actually,” he defended himself, “I’m planning a little fun right now. Your three-eyed demon has made me miss most of the hockey game. If I hurry, I can catch the end of it.”

Cordelia thought Angel’s idea of fun needed some serious work. “Hockey again?”

Just as Cordelia was actually contemplating taking up an interest in…*shudder*…ice hockey, Gunn called out, “Yo, Barbie! Ready to hit the road? Thought you might want a lift home.”

“Yeah,” she called out over her shoulder. “Be there in a sec.”

Angel felt certain Cordelia was going to call him on his escape routine. Hell, it was so obvious that he had to get away from her he could already hear the accusations.

Say something, he urged himself trying to think of words that would reassure her that he was in no way lusting after her. That arched brow and defiant stance had him worried. Had she guessed that he wanted nothing more than to drag her up to his lair and discover every delicious secret her body had to offer?

Even if Angel didn’t have a hope of convincing himself that he felt only friendship for Cordelia Chase, he was determined to keep her unaware of that fact. “You’re such a pal. Thanks for the patch up job.”

Cordelia watched as Angel bounded up the stairs. Glancing around the lobby seeking denial of that state of being, she found that Wes and Fred had already vacated the area. Gunn was leaning up against the front counter as Cordelia queried, “I’m a pal?”

“A good one too,” Gunn walked over, slung his arm around her shoulder squeezing tight. “Grab your shoes, woman. Let’s roll.”

“I so need my own car,” muttered Cordelia suddenly hating her dependence on the bus or one of her vehicle-owning friends. “Maybe a jeep. A yellow one.”

Gunn only laughed, “You planning on asking Wes for a raise? Good luck with that. I think you’ll stand a better chance hinting to David Nabbitt that your birthday is coming up.”

Following Gunn out to the curb, Cordelia thwacked him on the back of the head. “I’ll settle for a shopping spree. After tonight, I think I deserve one.”

A pal? Cordelia stared blindly out the truck window as Gunn drove her home. After all of the subtle hints and open flirtation, Angel had no idea she was in love with him. Lately, it seemed like he tried to avoid looking at her even like the other guys did.

As if he found her so commonplace she was hardly worth glancing at unless it allowed him to play the part of the big brother or the dashing hero.

Cordelia waved her hand toward Gunn as he drove away, but her thoughts were all on the vampire back at the Hyperion Hotel. “Just you wait, Angel. Tomorrow, the kid gloves come off.”

***

Bright and early…almost too bright and too early…Cordelia dragged Fred on her carefully planned shopping spree. “I’m tired of being subtle. If that stubborn vamp wants to think of me as his pal, then he’s damn well gonna think of me as his sexy playmate.”

“Oh my,” Fred followed Cordelia around from shop to shop.

“I practically straddled him last night,” Cordelia realized suddenly. “He was thinking about his hockey game.”

Fred pointed out, “Angel is used to having you in his lap and holding you in a non-romantic way. Y’know, with the visions and all. You were just treating his wounds.”

“I practically drooled on his naked chest when I was patching him up. All he did was sound grateful that he had time to watch the game.” Cordelia shrugged, “Who knew vampires liked hockey so much anyway.”

Reasoning easily, Fred responded, “It’s an indoor sport played mostly at night.”

“Hmph!” Cordelia was not impressed. “I know of one indoor sport played mostly at night he’d be interested in if he ever opens his eyes. Just for a second last night, when he was tucking me into bed, I thought he wanted me. It was the way that he touched my hair.”

Fred hurried to keep the pace as Cordelia strode along in front of the stores. “Maybe he’s tactile rather than visual. Reacts to things more by touch than sight.”

Coming to a rapid halt, Cordelia glanced into the storefront window, her mouth curving into a conspiratorial smile. “Fred, did anyone ever tell you that you were a genius?”

“Yes, actually,” Fred nodded quite seriously. “Many times. Mensa has it documented using the Stanford-Binet, Wechsler and Cattell scales.”

Rolling her eyes, Cordelia grabbed Fred by the wrist and pulled her into the store, “I have an idea. C’mon.”

Now standing directly in front of the store’s exclusive bed linen display, Fred gaped at the scene forming in her head. Suddenly, Cordelia’s idea seemed all too clear. “Oh my.”

“Oh, yes. This is it, Fred. I’m pulling out all the stops for this and before the night is over, Angel will be mine.”

“Well that’s certainly a tactile way to go,” Fred considered. Her voice vibrated a little with nervousness as she pointed out, “You seem certain my theory will work. It’s just a hypothesis, Cordy.”

“Fred, I told you I’ve learned a lot from Cosmo,” Cordelia assured her. “That includes more than just a few flirting tips and makeover advice.”

Clueless, Fred could only ask, “It does?”

Picking up the corner of the top sheet on the display, Cordelia ran it across Fred’s arm and watched her mouth form a circle of surprise. “That’s really nice.”

With a smirk worthy of Angelus, holding the sensually smooth fabric up to her cheek and letting her fingers trace down the folds, Cordelia explained, “No man can resist 900 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.”

Continue

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 4   1 comment

***

Armed with a stack of magazines and bearing a large bag of assorted tacos, Cordelia knocked on Fred’s door.

A little girl talk, even if it was with a lunatic physicist, looked like a good thing at a time like this. One-sided conversations with her corporeally-challenged roomie were not quite the same.

Half an hour later, Cordelia looked woefully at Fred who was chowing down on the last taco. They were both sitting cross-legged on the bed, napkins spread out as a makeshift picnic blanket between them.

Though still eating, Fred was able to listen to Cordelia’s story and continue to work on her latest theory about time-shifting. Just call her good at multitasking.

“Have I lost it or is Angel totally blind?” Cordelia was still edging toward blind. She’d been vampire bait too many times to think it was some supernatural ability to avoid noticing when a sexy woman can barely keep her hands to herself.

“Gosh,” Fred considered the possibilities and answered with that Texas twang that usually made Cordelia smile, “I really don’t think the answer lies with either choice. Never knew you before, but you certainly don’t seem to be missing anything. What with you being a Princess and his seer and just look at you. Angel certainly isn’t blind when it comes to you Cordelia.”

Cordelia harrumphed. “How would you know, Fred? You spend more time with your dry erase board than you do with us.”

“I’ve been watching,” Fred assured her that even a small percentage of her time was enough to hazard a theory. “Just look at the way Angel fought for you in Pylea. He’s so heroic. Handsome man fighting for the hand of the Princess.”

The dreamy expression on her face was enough to make Cordelia want to gag… or choke the other woman’s scrawny little neck. “Pfft! Don’t be ridiculous, Fred. He may be your big fat hero, but Angel was just doing his thing.”

“Lorne told me that Angel threatened him into finding a way into Pylea just to get you back. That he would’ve moved heaven and earth to find you,” Fred revealed in a conspiratorial whisper even though they’d shut the bedroom door.

“Oh?”

Fred nodded and then decided Cordelia would be better off knowing the absolute truth considering what she’d said about her reaction to Angel and Darla. “Actually, Lorne said he’d move both drgplyx and myzldrf, which are only accessible by trans-dimensional portals and would actually require the power equivalent of a blackhole to actually move any distance at all, but I figured you’d understand it a little better if I explained it that way.”

Smiling, Cordelia could only say, “Er, yeah.”

“I just know this is all about Moira.”

“Moira? Who the hell is Moira?” Cordelia sat up a little straighter on the bed. “Was she that blond floosy who hired Angel to investigate her haunted bed last week?”

Looking puzzled, Fred watched as Cordelia’s golden skin flushed in reaction. Before the Texan could explain, Cordelia had already started to calm down. “No, that was Milly Walters. I remember because I filed her case under ‘F’.”

“For floosy,” Fred giggled. From what she’d heard during the time she had been here at Angel Investigations, Cordelia’s filing system was uniquely her own. “Moira’s not a person, Cordy. Moira is…just Moira.”

“More of what?”

“It’s a Pylean word meaning the gut physical attraction between two larger than life souls,” Fred explained. “You and Angel.”

Rolling her eyes in reaction, Cordelia commented, “The only thing I’ve attracted from Angel are requests to pick up his weekly blood supply and a demand for an inventory of his precious weapons. Just to make sure I didn’t lose any of them when I stored them in the basement.”

Fred knew that she was hardly the expert in personal relationships, but all of these flirtation games seemed like they were getting Cordelia nowhere. “Why don’t you tell Angel how you feel?”

Walk up to Angel, put her arms around him and simply say that she loved him? Not a chance. That vampire was going to be the first to do the kiss and tell thing assuming he even had feelings like that. Until she was certain of that possibility, she would just continue going by the book.

Even if she had to flirt with him until she was old enough to need one of those motorized scooters to get around the office.

“I’m not ready for that, Fred,” she admitted. “Until then, I have my resources and I have you to help me.”

“Me?” Fred looked a little nervous at the prospect. Trying again to convince Cordelia, she pointed out, “The straight-forward approach is often the most successful. Not that I’ve applied that theory very often. Not in the last five years, certainly. Mostly, I’m talking about the laws of physics. Except that it’s sometimes necessary to work problems backwards or take a round about method in order to reach a solution.”

Holding up her hand, Cordelia finally caught Fred’s attention. “Thanks, but let’s stick to the experts for advice.”

“Experts? There are experts for seducing vampires?” Fred wanted to know.

“Pfft! Angel may be a vamp, but he’s all man,” a smile curled at Cordelia’s lips and for a moment both women were lost in a private little daydream. Snapping out of it, Cordelia pulled the stack of Cosmopolitan magazines over onto her lap.

“That means everything I need can be found right here.”

***

Down in the laundry room, Angel sat in a chair reading while waiting for the last load to finish drying. He had a book in his hand, but his thoughts were elsewhere. The same place his thoughts always seemed to be lately.

Focused on Cordelia.

The more he tried to avoid thoughts of her, the more she filled them. Every fantasy he had involved her touch, her kiss, her scent, her sex, her beauty. Fighting against the urge to satisfy his body’s cravings kept him frustrated and squeaky clean. Soon, Cordelia would no doubt demand to know why their water bill had skyrocketed.

Cordelia was far more than a fantasy. She was his family, his friend and meant too much to him to risk changing that even with the happiness clause being history. She was so full of life and in the end he was still the vampire who brought her suffering. As his seer, Cordelia endured excruciating pain to bring him the visions sent by the Powers that Be.

He’d take that pain if he could, but as it was impossible to do so all Angel could do was to promise himself not to cause her any more pain. Certainly none that came at his own hand through his selfishness and the base desires that gnawed at his being. It wasn’t his demon reacting, Angel knew, just the part of him that was a man recognizing the woman he wanted.

Just as the dryer cycle ended, Cordelia popped into the room. Angel tossed his book down on the chair beside him and stood up. Having her come in when the direction of his thoughts had taken him straight back to the daydream where he had her in his bed and writing beneath him clearly distracted him.

Awkwardly, he said hello asking why she was there.

“I’m just here to commune with your equipment,” quipped Cordelia before laughing at his strange expression. “Hope you don’t mind, but I snuck down earlier and threw a couple of little things in the wash. The laundry room at my apartment is closed for repairs.”

Warily, Angel asked as he recovered his equilibrium and went about folding clothes from the dryer, “I’m not going to end up with pink boxers again, am I?”

“That was an accident,” Cordelia huffed defensively. “How was I to know my red blouse would bleed all over your clothes? Besides, who’d see them anyway.”

“You never know,” he responded cryptically, reaching in to pull out the next item.

Cordelia realized that Angel continued to remain silent on the issue of his soul. It bothered her that everyone continued to keep her in the dark about it. As if telling her would set something in motion none of them could control.

Maybe hearing about it had done just that.

Asking him, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Maybe I’ll get…lucky,” Angel tried to joke only to realize that he was holding a lacy strapless lavender bra.

Snatching the bra away, Cordelia held it up against her. Get lucky? “Maybe you will. You like? I’m gonna wear it tonight with my new dress.”

A little bug-eyed as he stared unavoidably at the lavender lace cupping the curves of Cordelia’s breasts over her cream-colored shirt, Angel managed to ask her, “You’re going out?”

His distracted tone sounded almost bored. Cordelia yanked the bra away reminding him, “You promised to take us all out to dinner tonight.”

Turning back to the dryer, Angel said, “Guess I did.”

“Senility has finally set in,” Cordelia sighed dramatically. Wiggling her fingers as she held her hand out, she told him, “There’s one more thing of mine in the dryer.”

Considering the nature of the first item, Angel decided to play it safe. Stepping back, he motioned for her to fish through the clothes to find it herself. Cordelia bent over practically sticking her head into the opening as she waded through his clothes. The effort caused her bottom to stick out at a tempting angle, which he promptly turned his eyes away from.

“Find it?” Angel asked when he sensed Cordelia standing up again.

Cordelia nodded and looked ready to move away when Angel felt something drop onto his shoe. With an airy laugh, Cordelia shrugged her apology, adding, “Oops!”

He knew what he’d find before his downward glance confirmed it. Since it was his shoe and as Cordelia wasn’t budging, Angel bent over to pick up the flossy matching lavender thong. Lifting it on a finger, he held them out to her while doing his utmost to maintain a straight face.

The glint in her eyes warned him that choosing to say nothing would be as damning as stroking the panties across his cheek. Denial of all interest was the only possible way to go.

“Women’s underthings have certainly changed since back in the day.” Angel let out a tone of disapproval. “It used to be about titillation. Now it’s all about leaving nothing to the imagination.”

“Titilation?” Cordelia gaped openly at the blasé tone and the use of the old-fashioned word that somehow made her shiver.

Angel suddenly seemed to get lost in a world of examples, “Like unbuttoning rows of tiny round pearls down a woman’s back.”

The baritone deepened in her ear as Cordelia caught a breath and held it. His words sounded like silk rasping across her skin as she pictured his nimble fingers moving to undress her.

“Unlacing corsets that propped and nipped in such a way that these hands,” he held them up as if to show her, “could span her waist and caress her curves, peeling away the layers hiding her skin from my touch.”

Peel me, the crazy little thought popped into her head and the effort that it took just to keep the simple request from falling from her mouth nearly killed her. As it was, Cordelia blinked away the images forming in her head wondering if Angel had any idea just how seductive he sounded.

At that moment, Angel was sounding off a number of curses as he realized he’d just dragged Cordelia straight into one of his fantasies. It didn’t take much effort to know that she was not unaffected by his words since the scent of her arousal came to him.

He breathed deep, his dark eyes raking across her body in search of other signs that proved Cordelia wanted him.

He licked his lips in response to finding them too many to count.

Dammit, Angel forced his gaze back to Cordelia’s eyes even if they were dilated and shining with sudden arousal. It was the surprise accompanying her intoxicating scent that gave him the strength to ignore the stirrings of his own body.

This had to be an automatic female response rather than one specific to him.

Returning to their conversation, he lifted his broad shoulders into an unimpressed shrug, “These days it’s all Wonder Bras and dental floss panties.”

Snapping out of her daze, Cordelia waved the lavender lace between them. “I’ll have you know I don’t need a Wonder Bra or a corset, for that matter, propping anything I own.”

Silence seemed the most appropriate response, so Angel shoved his fists in his pants pockets, rocked back on his heels and waited out the storm.

“Who the hell has been talking to you about Wonder Bras?” Cordelia demanded to know. It had better have been Buffy and not whatever blonde bimbo Gunn was trying to foist off on him.

“Actually, it was Gunn,” he confessed readily not at all feeling guilty about shifting some of the blame.

Cordelia wasn’t certain whether she was relieved by the news or angry that Gunn was preparing Angel for the wonders of modern female undergarments. No doubt in telling him to be wary of hidden props or giving pointers on front-closure devices.

“Since he’s so interested in women’s underwear, tell Gunn I think he’d look great in my pink thong,” Cordelia fumed before storming out of the laundry room.

Her fury only left him smiling in its wake.

*

“Earth to Angel,” Cordelia curled a hand around his arm to draw him out of the deep thoughts that seemed to be pulling him away from reality.

Gunn and Wes continued to lavish attention on Fred who wore a burgundy dress and looked nothing like the burlap-garbed fugitive she had been only a few months ago. Cordelia was especially proud of the way her friend had turned out having managed to drag her shopping and to the hair salon.

“It’s good to see Fred out of her room,” he commented knowing that he was staring in that direction. It was just that Cordelia had been over there too just a minute ago cooing over the other brunette.

Truthfully, Angel had been far too busy looking at the zipper that ran down the back of Cordelia’s little black dress and imagining pulling it slowly down until that fabric pooled at her feet. He already knew what he’d find beneath that silk.

Her satiny skin would be all but bared to his hungry view, creamy and golden with a small band of lavender lace at her back and a tiny triangle with its connecting string enhancing the taut globes of her rounded bare bottom.

Tendrils from her upswept hair kissed the back of Cordelia’s slender throat while the design of her dress left her shoulders bare. The combined temptation of them both made him want to trace her bare skin with his mouth and let his hands wander over her curves.

Looking back at Fred, Cordelia was sufficiently distracted not to noticed the faraway look in Angel’s eye had nothing to do with Pylea or rescued physicists. “Yeah, I think she’s finally coming out of her shell. Not to mention the fact that she looks gorgeous tonight.”

Angel grunted an agreement.

That was a hint dunderhead, Cordelia let out a sigh that finally drew Angel’s attention down to her. So tell me, big guy. How do I look?

Apparently vampires possessed no mental telepathy, Cordelia reasoned, because Angel was certainly not mind-reading tonight. He glanced at her bare shoulders with a frown on his face. “Should you be wearing a coat? It’ll be cooler when we come out of the club.”

“Big brother strikes again,” Cordelia grumbled as she left his side to snatch her coat from the cloak closet. Walking back over, she smirked, “Satisfied?”

He was still reeling from the big brother comment, but managed a nod.

Then Cordelia decided to try out alluring lure number twelve. “Before we go…smell me.”

“What?” Angel figured he’d done enough of that down in the laundry room.

Cordelia rolled her eyes impatiently. “Smell me. I’m trying out a new perfume. Use those vamp senses. Okay or too overpowering?”

She’d showered since then, he reasoned. Such a harmless little request would be safe enough. After all, she’d just referred to him as her big brother. The favor was obviously just that…not some obtrusively sneaky ploy to drive him insane.

Despite the fact that Angel could have told her his opinion without moving an inch, the subtle tilt of her chin exposing the soft curve of her throat had him closing the distance between them. Cupping her neck, Angel gently pulled Cordelia closer and bent his head until his face brushed her throat. A soft gasp sounded in his ear and Angel heard the quickening tempo of her racing pulse.

He could sense every spot Cordelia had dabbed with that perfume. Very nice, subtle and blending in with her natural scents making him want to press his lips against those hot spots. Realizing that, Angel jerked back letting her go so swiftly that she almost stumbled out of his embrace.

“So?” she demanded a response.

“Ever heard a vampire sneeze? I think I may be allergic,” Angel told her determined that she not subject him to that intoxicating scent. “Maybe you should wash it off before we go.”

“I will not,” Cordelia refused. “You are so exaggerating that. Vampires aren’t allergic to perfume.”

Angel shrugged, “You wanted an opinion. Maybe you’d better sit on the other side of the table at dinner.”

“So it’s me you’re allergic to?” That insinuation bought him silence all the way to the Starlight Terrace.

At the restaurant, Angel held out the chair next to him for Fred trying to put some distance between himself and Cordelia, but she had already plopped herself down between Wes and Gunn.

“Guess you’re stuck with me,” Cordelia sank into the chair looking like she wanted to stick her tongue out at him. “Good thing you don’t have to breathe. Cos maybe then my perfume won’t cause you to choke since you’re sitting so close.”

Fred’s enthusiasm for the evening and the club bubbled over and soon Cordelia and Angel were completely distracted by it. “My first real restaurant since Pylea. Taco Haven doesn’t count.”

Throughout dinner, they all talked about reintroducing Fred to the realities of life in L.A. Wes and Gunn talked about taking her to a carnival. Fred quickly suggested that they go at night so Cordelia and Angel could come too never noticing that she paired them up in saying so.

After Fred finished off her own dessert and the remaining half of Cordelia’s raspberry ganache, she saw the seer longingly eyeing the dance floor. “I think Cordy wants to dance.”

Cordelia couldn’t deny it. “This music is too good to resist,” she grinned putting her hand down on Angel’s thigh. “Dance with me?”

Before Angel could respond, Wes raised a voluntary hand, “I’ll dance with you.”

Gunn gave Wes a nod of approval for fast thinking. “Barbie, you know the vamp doesn’t dance.”

“Not to this song,” Angel agreed and hunkered down in his chair thankful that Wes was going to be the one to dance with Cordelia and not some random man out there on the dance floor.

“Gee, thanks, Wes,” Cordelia stood up and managed to bump Angel’s shoulder with her hip before heading away from the table.

Angel attempted to ignore the sight of Cordelia moving rhythmically to the beat of the music, but Fred and Gunn were too busy talking about it to hold any other conversation. They laughed merrily at the sight of Wesley moving around her and dancing enthusiastically if not with any skill or talent.

Cordelia threw her whole body into it and her love of the music showed in the energy bounding off of her.

They returned to the table, Cordelia holding Wes’ hand and pulling him behind her. “I think I need someone with a little more energy. Wes is running out of steam.”

“I am not,” Wesley adjusted his glasses.

Laughing, Cordelia held out her hand for Gunn who took it enthusiastically. “Think you can keep up?”

“Just try me.”

Angel watched them scurry back to the dance floor. The warm sheen on Cordelia’s skin heightened her scent. She pulsed with life, adrenalin coursing through her veins. He had to be content to sit and watch. Touching her now might prove too much for his resolve.

“I think Cordelia is disappointed that Angel won’t dance with her,” Fred commented to Wesley though she said it entirely for the vampire’s benefit.

Angel didn’t so much as stir, his eyes focused on the pair on the dance floor. Even he could tell that Cordelia and Gunn moved well together. Unlike Wes, Gunn possessed a natural rhythm that kept him moving in sync with Cordelia as they danced.

Angel wondered absently why he wasn’t feeling jealous. Considering all of the inappropriate feelings he’d had about Cordelia, he expected to want to rip Gunn apart considering some of the moves he was making out there.

The rational part of Angel’s brain registered that they were dance moves not flagrant attempts at touching Cordelia. Besides that, Gunn treated her like a sister. Somehow that was apparently how Cordelia seemed to think he also felt about her.

Big brother? Pfft, Angel rolled his eyes at the thought. Then he started to think that might be how Cordelia wanted him to treat her. Certainly, she wouldn’t want to know that he lusted after his best friend.

No doubt, in her words, that would simply be… eew.

After the third song, a ballad began and the lights over the dance floor shifted to the level of soft candlelight. Gunn and Cordelia were still out there laughing their way through a debate about the latest blockbuster movie.

“You just wanna jump his bones,” Gunn challenged her as their talk turned to the star of the movie.

Cordelia slapped him on the shoulder, “How shallow do you think I am? I’d jump his bones and admire his acting.”

Gunn scoffed, “Right.”

Naming his favorite singer, Cordelia came back with, “And if you thought you had a chance? What about her?”

“Unlike your lame actor, my girl can sing,” Gunn returned and then felt a tap on his shoulder. He started to warn off the interloper, “Buzz o— Angel?”

“Do you mind if I jump in on all of the boning, acting and singing going on to dance with Cordelia?” he grinned at the two of them having listened in as he crossed the floor to their position.

Still holding onto Cordelia, Gunn seriously thought about saying no. Then realizing Angel had been on good behavior ever since their little chat about respecting Cordy, he decided this was just the vamp taking a turn during a song he could actually move to.

Glancing at Angel who moved in expectantly, Cordelia commented, “He can act, can’t you, broody boy? Can’t sing worth a damn. As for the rest, well eunuch vamps can’t bone anyone.”

Gunn decided to escape that conversation before it happened. Nope. No worries at all about those two. Lorne must’ve had a few too many Seabreezes before coming into the office that morning.

“I’m not a eunuch,” Angel growled low under his breath.

“Will I contaminate you if I get too close?” Cordelia kept talking. “Those new allergies might get worse. You don’t have to dance with me. Don’t feel obligated just because Wes and Gunn know how to have fun and you’re al—”

“Just shut up for once and dance with me. I’m here, aren’t I?” He pulled her closer, his hand between her shoulder blades pressing her forward.

Realizing that she was snapping at Angel about being in his arms when that was exactly where she wanted to be, Cordelia put her hand in his sliding the other around his neck. “This song is still kinda snappy. Think you can keep the pace?”

“I lead, you follow,” Angel reminded as he maneuvered her around the floor.

With a little huff of frustration, she asked, “Going anywhere in particular or just in circles?”

“That isn—” he broke off as Cordelia suddenly cried out.

“Oh no!” Cordelia felt it coming, the flash of light and pain that signaled the coming of a vision. Within seconds, she found herself lost in the images, scents and sounds that would herald their next mission.

Already there, Angel whisked her up into his arms and over to an open space at the edge of the dance floor. Writhing with the shock of the vision, Cordelia slowly came out of it finding that she was cradled in Angel’s protective hold as he gazed down at her in concern.

The club’s manager inquiring after Cordelia’s condition joined curious onlookers in standing around the couple. Wesley quickly intervened having rushed across the room with Gunn and Fred close behind. “She’ll be fine. It’s just a common seizure disorder. Please just give us a little space.”

Left alone, Cordelia was finally able to impart the details of her vision. “Big ugly demon. Four claws on each hand. Three beady eyes. Has a taste for Mexican food.”

“He’s down in the Barrio?” Gunn inquired.

“No,” Cordelia groaned painfully as little flashbacks popped up like aftershocks. “He’ll be at Taco Haven in about forty minutes; looks like the owner has been doing a little demon worshipping on the side to increase business.”

Fred gasped, “I knew those tacos were extra tasty.”

Cordelia was still unsteady on her feet, so Angel effortlessly lifted her into his arms again carrying her across the room toward the club exit. For once, she didn’t protest the move simply tucking her head against his shoulder and holding on. “I’d rather be dancing,” she muttered.

“I’ll get you home first before we go after the demon,” Angel told her wanting her to be safe.

“We don’t have time,” Cordelia reminded him. “My apartment is too far out of the way.”

After a pause, Angel said, “I meant the hotel.”

Lifting her head, Cordelia focused on his profile and imagined him carrying her up to his room and setting her down on his bed. It always seemed to be his bed and not the one she used on the rare occasions she stayed at the hotel rather than heading back to the apartment.

Despite the herd of elephants tromping in her head, Cordelia found that realization gave her a spark of hope.

“To your room?”

“Yeah,” Angel answered automatically never considering that there was any other option.

Continue

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 3   1 comment

Having determined that he had to come out of his room sometime, or else be a bad example to Fred who still kept to her bedroom seventy percent of the time, Angel settled on the couch in the lobby trying to focus on the newspaper.

Cordelia had told Wes she was just going to be gone the rest of the morning, which suggested she’d be back.

The fact that they had argued left him unsettled. Though disagreements between them were hardly uncommon and the occasional verbal battle wasn’t even unprecedented, Angel knew this was different.

To top it all off, he had no clue what Cordelia had come to harp about to begin with. He’d just gone off and assumed the worst thinking she’d somehow discovered the fact that he’d slept with Darla after telling her that he hadn’t. Outside of the blonde vampiress herself, there was nobody else who knew they’d had sex that night.

So unless Darla was in communication with Cordelia, which seemed highly unlikely, he would’ve been fine just keeping his mouth shut and playing dumb.

As if he didn’t have enough on his mind worrying that the revelation had damaged his recently renewed friendship with Cordelia, he was paid a little visit by Gunn and Wes. Now sitting alone in the lobby, Angel wondered if the hotel hadn’t been taken over by another paranoia demon.

Cordy was after him about his lies while Gunn and Wes seemed to have grown concerned about his treatment of Cordelia.

After letting them do most of the talking, having earlier been reminded not to open his mouth in the presence of his friends without careful forethought, Angel realized that neither one knew about the nature of his argument with Cordelia.

Whatever they were trying to say for the first ten minutes or so came out in vague questions and too-subtle hints that only left him baffled.

“What are you getting at?” Angel finally gave up trying to guess.

“Barbie is off limits,” Gunn cut to the chase.

Wes nodded vehemently. “Absolutely. I completely agree with him. Consider Cordelia sacrosanct.”

“You hurt her again and I’ll stake you.” Gunn had his arm around Angel’s shoulder and then gave it a friendly punch. “That said, bro, we gotta work on gettin’ you some.”

Some what?

Angel had a sneaking suspicion that he’d just caught onto the gist of this convoluted conversation. Avoiding the topic, he switched back to Cordelia just to reassure his friends, “I have no plans to hurt Cordy. Not in any way. We just had an argument, but I’ll fix it…somehow.”

“No doubt,” Wes commented dryly remembering quite well how Angel settled things between them the last time. He recalled being quite put out at how easily Cordelia had accepted Angel’s apology. The vampire certainly hadn’t worked very hard to earn it. “Just remember what we told you.”

I might if I understood any of it, Angel gave them a smile which was apparently enough to convince them of his agreement with whatever they were trying to say. All he could get out of it was that they all agreed Cordelia was a beautiful young woman and that he needed to avoid hurting her.

Gunn and Wes, secure in the fact that they had done well, went off on a Starbucks coffee run. They hadn’t been gone fifteen minutes when Cordelia arrived back at the hotel. Wondering what he was supposed to say,

Angel kept staring at the black print on the newspaper even though it blurred before his unfocused gaze. He heard the clickety clack of Cordelia’s shoes along the lobby floor until she stopped directly in front of him.

“Does making like a lump on a log actually work with some people or do you think I’m that unobservant?” Cordelia tapped her foot expectantly.

“Hi, Cordy,” Angel slowly lowered the newspaper to his lap. “You’re back.”

“Relax, broody boy,” she told him with a smile curving the corners of her lush mouth. “I’ve decided to let you off the hook. I forgive you.”

Angel pulled his gaze up from the long expanse of bare leg flashing beneath the tiny black skirt she wore. Forgiven so soon and without the groveling or gift-buying? He wasn’t certain what happened to change her mind in the last couple of hours, but he wasn’t going to knock it.

“Okay.”

“Okay?” Cordelia had anticipated a little more than that. At least a lousy apology, not this quick agreement to her terms for his surrender. Since starting another argument was likely to ruin any attempts at flirtation, Cordelia realized she had better drop the subject. “Yes, okay. Behind us. Completely forgotten.”

“It might help if you stop mentioning it,” Angel pointed out bemused by her behavior as she tucked her hands behind her back and sashayed closer.

Cordelia left out a long sigh, staring into his eyes for a moment before letting them dart away as she nibbled on her lower lip. It drew his gaze to that plump lower lip, which was just her intent.

She wondered, was it just an automatic response or was he thinking of kissing her?

“I just had the longest, loveliest soak in my tub,” Cordelia commented. “All that hot water sluicing over me and the bubbles piled high. I could’ve stayed there forever.”

Angel dragged his eyes away from her mouth to say, “You needed it considering the fact that you looked more like a mud wrestler than my seer.”

They laughed over the incident, Cordelia flashing him her megawatt grin and Angel responding with a smile so wide that it had her mesmerized. Just when she was about to say more, he turned back to his newspaper. “Guess I’ll get to work. I’d hate to take you away from your…sports news?”

“Hockey scores,” Angel pointed to the section of the paper where he figured the box indicating the game results would be. Catching the headline from the corner of his eye, he told her, “Kings versus the Dallas Stars.”

“Huh,” Cordelia raised her eyebrows and walked over to her desk. She hoped a quick glance over her shoulder would reveal Angel staring at her swaying hips, but he was completely engrossed in the paper.

He’s so used to ignoring signals that subtlety is lost on him. Cordelia sucked on the tip of her pen as she stole glances at Angel from across the room.

When the phone rang, she perched on the side of her desk knowing that the sound of potential business always grabbed Angel’s attention. Flashing that much leg was not her usual style, but it seemed that she might need to take the obvious route when it came to making Angel realize that she was way more attractive than any blonde Gunn and Wes could come up with.

There was an audible rustle of papers as Cordelia straightened back up, but it was impossible to tell if Angel had been watching her or if he simply straightened out a crease that detracted from his reading.

She waved the post-it note in the air, but Angel still had his nose in the newspaper. Walking over, Cordelia felt a little irritated by the lack of attention. Any other time she wore this top, Angel’s eyes would be glued to her chest. Not that she’d made a big deal about him looking. It was a guy thing and Angel was most definitely male.

“I have a message for you,” Cordelia told him. “Potential client. Wants you to call him back in five minutes at this number.”

Angel always looked happy about business. “Great!”

“Whoops!” The yellow post-it note fluttered to the floor before she could hand it to Angel who still had his hands on his paper. Bending over from the waist, she reached for it at the same time he did putting her cleavage at face level. Cordelia wondered if that tactic wasn’t blatant enough to get noticed.

For an instant, Angel was tempted to forget the note and bury his face between the soft pillows formed by her breasts. Her fresh womanly scent was just a little stronger there, drawing him in. Then recalling his own determination not to do anything that would potentially harm their friendship, Angel reeled his libido back in and focused on picking up the post-it.

“You’re a clutz today, Cor,” Angel laughed sitting back on the couch spreading out and looking completely comfortable. He didn’t so much as glance at the perky way she filled out her tight top. “First the mud-slinging fiasco and now you’re dropping things.”

Cordelia blinked a couple of times as she stared down at his smirking face, “Clutz.”

So much for studying that article on flirting. This was so not what Cosmo had in mind by ‘Baiting Him With Your Body Language’.

Moving, Cordelia attempted to make a fast exit so Angel wouldn’t see her frustration with his apparent blindness. Her foot caught on his ankle as she tried to step over his outstretched legs, unintentionally sending Cordelia tumbling toward the floor. The newspaper and post-it went flying as Angel grabbed her in a midair catch.

He held her close to his chest after shifting her into a normal hold, his arms around her waist and under her thighs. Never mind the hasty movement of his hands across less acceptable zones, Angel simply sounded concerned, asking, “You okay?”

Cordelia’s heartbeat thundered in her chest having not expected to go flying like that. Not wanting to admit that maybe she was distracted by her own plotting, she commented seriously, “Fine. I was just testing your reflexes.”

Meeting his dark brown gaze, now twinkling with amusement, Cordelia’s mouth gave a reluctant twitch before she broke into a wide grin. Hugging him, she couldn’t hold back her own laughter. Giggling into his ear and cupping his face with her crimson-tipped fingers, told him, “I didn’t think it was possible to exceed your clutz-factor, broody boy. Guess that just proves I’m the best at everything I do.”

“What happened?” Wes’ voice called out from the door. Concern sounded, “Vision?”

Gunn was thrilled at the possibility of a little demon bashing. “Alright!”

“No vision,” Cordelia told him to reign in his enthusiasm for something that resulted in mind-splitting migraines. Then noticing what they brought back with them, “Ooh! Starbucks.”

Wes had a to-go tray with five Grande coffee cups. “We took a chance that you’d be back.”

“So what’s with this?” Gunn pointed a finger at them making Cordelia realize she was still in Angel’s arms.

With one last laugh, Cordelia slid to her feet enjoying every millimeter of hard torso and thigh that brushed against her. She ventured a peek from beneath her eyelashes only to find Angel focused on the mess on the floor. His strong hands were on her hips, but only to move her out of his way as the vampire squatted down to gather up the newspaper and stray post-it note.

“It wasn’t a vision,” Angel told Gunn as he held up the yellow square of paper, “but we may have a client.”

Back to business, Cordelia let out a tiny huff walking across to take her coffee from Wesley.

Watching her footing, she headed back to her desk where she tossed the plastic coffee lid into the trash can and sat down in her chair. Crossing her legs, she bobbed her foot up and down noting that the action and the position of her mini skirt against her supple golden thighs was certain to draw male attention.

Only it seemed to be just Wes and Gunn who were incapable of keeping their eyes in their heads. Angel was too busy concentrating on the numbers she’d written down on the post-it note.

Glancing at the whipped cream topping her coffee, Cordelia decided to find out if Cosmo was right about the benefits of calling attention to your mouth. She took a hasty sip, smearing foamy coffee across her upper lip just as Angel held out the note for her perusal.

“Is that a one or a seven?”

Blinking, Cordelia glanced forward to confirm, “A seven, I think.”

Angel rubbed the back of his neck as he looked down at the note again. “Guess I’ll try it both ways. Cor, you’ve got coffee…,” he motioned with his hand across his firm male mouth.

Cordelia’s eyes followed the path of that finger and watched as his tongue swiped along his upper lip. Thoughts of kissing those lips weren’t far behind as she managed to find her voice, “Here?”

She licked slowly at her lip, letting the pink tip slide across its plump surface. “Did I get it?”

Having picked up the phone on her desk, Angel looked distracted. Not by her mouth, Cordelia realized, but by thoughts of a prospective client. He gave her lips a quick glance, “No, you didn’t get it all.”

“I can’t go around the office all day with coffee on my face,” Cordelia complained with just enough of a hint in her voice that Angel dropped the phone into its cradle long enough play the chivalrous hero.

“Let me take care of it,” his voice sending anticipatory shivers down her spine.

How would he do it? Use that slightly calloused male thumb to wipe her lips clean? Kiss the evidence away with those lips she suddenly ached to taste? Maybe just a long cool swipe of his tongue over her mouth tasting her and the creamy coffee at the same time.

With a confident move of pure efficiency, Angel snatched a tissue from the box of Kleenex on her desk and dabbed twice. “All gone.”

Then he was back at the phone again dialing up the numbers she had scribbled down on the yellow post-it. Maybe if she wrote ‘Kiss Me’ on a post-it and stuck it to her own forehead, Angel might just get the hint.

Unfortunately, Cordelia was determined not to brashly force the issue into the fore. That might prove disastrous. She wanted to be certain that there was a chance for something more than friendship before she revealed her love to him.

Sure Angel loves me, but can he LOVE me, love me? What’s not to love? Extreme want might be acceptable. Unfortunately, the rest of the day and most of the evening were tied up with Angel Investigations’ new client.

As were the next three days & evenings following.

Flirtation took a back seat to work though Cordelia grabbed every opportunity that came along to touch him. She wasn’t happy unless she had her hands on him, a fact that Angel seemed totally oblivious about.

If anyone was being seduced around this office, Cordelia was convinced she was seducing herself.

Tonight signaled the end of their contract with their new client. They’d finally tracked down the metaphysical source of his problem and vanquished it. For once, they were triumphant and there was no demon goo involved to muck up her appearance.

“We did it,” Cordelia gave Wes and Gunn a quick celebratory hug and then wound her arms around Angel’s neck. Naturally, he hugged right back, but Cordelia leaned close needing to feel his strength against and surrounding her. Mmm, he felt good.

Angel let go the moment Cordelia’s warm breath emerged as a sigh against his throat. The temptation to smooth his hands up and down her back pressing her even closer came as something he found difficult to resist, but he was determined to do so.

Cordelia’s natural tendency to touch seemed ever more pronounced the past few days, but Angel was certain that it was just him imagining it. Focusing on every little move, every heartbeat and breath, only served to drive him mad with wanting.

It made Angel all the more determined to ignore what he thought his imagination was stirring up. Feelings for Cordelia Chase that went beyond the bonds of their friendship were forbidden. He needed to do something to fight these emotions that threatened the one thing in his life that truly meant everything to him.

As his hands dropped away, Cordelia pulled back just a little, her eyes sparkling with the knowledge that it was time to turn up the volume on her little seduction game. Her hands curled over his shoulders, lightly running down the length of his arms and back up again. That little move had him staring down, his eyes dark and intent.

“Don’t look so glum now that the case is over,” Cordelia told him. “Tonight, I’m on search and rescue, broody boy. My mission is to save you from a dull night.”

Angel’s left eyebrow quirked upward just a fraction until she named a popular dinner club, “I say we all go celebrate at the Starlight Terrace. Wes, go get Fred.”

Wesley was strangely quiet. Normally, he’d jump at a chance to bring Fred anywhere that got her out of her room for more than an hour at a time. His silence did not go unnoticed by Cordelia who realized that none of the guys seemed to have an opinion on her suggestion to celebrate.

Finally, having moved to a safe distance, Angel revealed, “Tonight isn’t such a good night.”

“Why not?” Cordelia gaped at him. “I was just joking about you being broody, Angel. That’s no excuse not to have a little fun.”

Gunn assured her, “Oh, he will.”

“Angel… have fun?” Cordelia’s eyes narrowed as they turned on the vampire. “How?”

“It’s really just work,” shrugged Angel trying to downplay the fact that he knew Gunn was trying to set him up. “We’re patrolling around the East Hills Teen Shelter. Gunn asked me along to check things out.”

“So this is about Miss I Help the Homeless,” Cordelia plastered a bright smile on her face knowing exactly what, or rather who, Angel would be checking out. “I haven’t seen Anne in… forever. Why don’t we all go patrolling and then we can head to the club afterwards.”

Angel let Gunn do the fast talking. He was already feeling tongue-tied and wasn’t at all certain that this was a good idea to begin with. Thoughts of dating, other than the fact that he hadn’t done that in a while, seemed almost like he’d be cheating on Cordelia.

Ridiculous idea, but there it was. Angel couldn’t get it out of his head and that made him all the more determined to go through with it.

Seeing that Gunn had all the bases covered, Cordelia decided that it was best to pull back and let her vampire take care of their friend’s matchmaking ploy with his own social ineptitude. Waggling her fingers in a wave of goodbye, she told them. “Have fun at the shelter. Watch out for stray Zombies.”

Then muttering under her breath, “And if you lie to me about what you do tonight I’ll personally kick your ass back to the Himalayas.”

“I thought you’d forgiven me,” Angel commented quietly as he stepped closer feeling the need to say goodbye.

Damn vampire hearing, Cordelia realized he overheard her threat. “You’ve used up your Get Out of Jail Free card, buster.”

Cordelia caught her lower lip between her teeth, nibbling on it as her gaze darted up to Angel’s dark, penetrating eyes and down again to his tempting mouth. The urge to kiss him goodnight caused her heart to flutter in her chest.

Damn, she wanted to curl her fingers in the lapels of his jacket, pull him close and devour those lips like he was hot fudge on her ice cream sundae.

“Wes can give you a ride home,” Angel suggested as his fingers grazed her elbow.

He looked sheepishly guilty about something. Enough that it made Cordelia’s eyes dart away in anger at his determination to let Gunn fix him up with the very blonde Anne who, let’s face it, had a lot more in common with the vampire having a mission all her own, than Cordelia wanted to admit.

“Actually, I think I’ll do a little catching up with Fred,” she commented airily. “Wes probably wants to catalogue the details of our triumph in his journal anyway.”

“That would be a smashing idea,” Wesley cut in. “I’d like to record everything while the details are still fresh in my mind. I can give you a ride back to your apartment when I’m done.”

“See,” Cordelia told Angel brushing her hands together. “One loose end all tied up.”

Angel wasn’t oblivious to the neat little smile that stretched too tightly across her beautiful face. She was pissed at him. Again. “Dammit, Cordy, you’re not a loose end. I’m not tying you up.”

Snorting, Cordelia’s little smile turned devlish, “I’d like to see you try.”

“C’mon, dawg,” Gunn urged. “Will you stop messin’ around with Cordy. We got to be at the shelter in fifteen minutes.”

Continue

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 2   1 comment

***

“I’m home, Dennis,” Cordelia bellowed to her resident ghostly roommate. The usual tinkling of the glassware that normally greeted her was absent. “Stop staring. Trust me when I say that I’ve had better mornings. Run me a bath, would you? Make it hot.”

Splashing water sounded almost immediately following her request rumbling through the pipes into the bathtub. By the time Cordelia reached the open door, Dennis was already adding bubbles and scented oils to the mix, the containers floating midair.

“Oh God!” Cordelia gasped as she stared into the rapidly fogging mirror. “I look like a reject from skid row. Rat woman. It’s no wonder Angel didn’t take me seriously.”

Pulling out the clips from her hair, she let it tumble down, grabbing her brush and stroking through the thick tresses until the tangles were gone. At least it was still clean, she thought. Grabbing a scrunchie hair band from the counter top, Cordelia tied her hair up in a high doubled-up ponytail.

The taps turned off when the tub was full, bubbles piled high. Cordelia shimmied out of her clothing, kicking it into a pile in the corner where the ghost immediately swept it away. He was back by the time she sunk into the tub, a long sigh sounding on her lips.

“You won’t believe what I found out today,” Cordelia told him as she reached for the loofah floating in front of her.

After Cordelia imparted the entire story to the ghost, Dennis responded by drawing on the foggy mirror. When he was finished, Cordy found herself staring at a heart with the initials C and A written into the center. Gaping, Cordelia determined not to think about that anymore.

“Don’t even suggest it,” she scooped up a handful of bubbles and blew them in the direction of the mirror’s message. “I was crazy for thinking about it in the first place. Angel has that whole blonde fixation. Plus, I’m mad at him right now.”

The mirror steamed over again and the word, “SO,” appeared across its surface.

“What if he isn’t attracted to me?” Cordelia asked and almost immediately detracted the question. “Pfft! What am I saying? I am Cordelia Chase.”

Several candles piled at the corner of the bathtub flamed to life flickering high. A sign that Dennis agreed. “It’s just that I’m supposed to be in love with Groo. He’s back in Pylea. I’m here. I haven’t thought about him in months.”

The candlelight died leaving a smoky trail behind. Dennis never much liked Cordelia’s stories about Pylea. At least not the ones involving the Groosalugg.

She stared at the dark puffs of smoke, thinking back to Pylea and how quickly she’d let herself get caught up by Groo’s kindness, honesty and innocence. Seeing him fighting Angel and knowing Groo was an undefeated champion, she’d been afraid to face the feelings that battle stirred up inside her.

Leaping between them, Cordelia attempted to put a stop to it before one or both of them were killed. Then her own traitorous voice had called out claiming to love Groo. For the moment, her heart and mind had believed it, but now Cordelia wondered if it wasn’t all just avoidance.

Running into Angel’s arms that night and telling him that she needed him would have been, in Wes’ words, completely unacceptable.

The vampire bought the act if it was one even when Cordelia chose to return with him rather than remain in Pylea as a princess. That might have clued Angel in if he’d chosen to pay attention, but he had his own distractions upon getting home again. Willow had been waiting with the terrible news of Buffy’s death and he’d taken off for the snowy mountains of Tibet.

Maybe three months was just a bump in the road to a vampire at one with eternity, but it was more than enough time for Cordelia to realize that Groo wasn’t important to her in the way that Angel was important. She had a life and a mission here with Angel.

More than that.

The whole eavesdropping experience made it clear that Cordelia didn’t think anyone was good enough for Angel. Unless it was her. She’d raced upstairs so angry with him for keeping information from her and then discovering he’d lied to her about Darla. Her anger wasn’t all about the lie itself.

“I was jealous, Dennis,” she finally admitted aloud. “Even if it meant nothing, there was something there. It saved his soul.”

Cordelia curled her arms around her bent knees hugging them close to her chest. “I wasn’t part of that. Shouldn’t I have been part of that?”

The ghost had nothing to say.

“Geez, just listen to me. I sound like I’m in love with him,” Cordelia rolled her eyes and stared up at the ceiling laughing at her own observation.

Only the words didn’t sound so amusing when she thought about it again and stared silently back at the mirror where Dennis was again drawing a heart. Maybe she’d thought about the possibility a few times, but always ruled it out as being the bonds of their friendship. “No, no, no, I can’t be in love with him. He’s a hottie. Yes, I find him attractive. I even fully admit that I don’t want him to have sex with anyone else, but love?”

The more she thought about it, the less weird it sounded. When had her feelings of friendship changed? This morning when Gunn, Wes and Lorne went all matchmaker? No, it had to be before then. Before Pylea when Groo became a convenient way of keeping the line between friendship and something more firmly in place.

Even before Darla’s return.

Cordelia admitted to herself that her reaction to the news about Angel sleeping with Darla was all about anger and jealousy. It was the reason she’d asked him the damn question in the first place. She’d been so relieved when he’d answered no.

“Omigod, Dennis! This can’t be true,” Cordelia realized that being in love with her best friend would change everything.

Her momentary wild thoughts about not letting anyone except her have him returned with a determination that drowned out the remaining shreds of her anger.

Full of wonderment, she whispered acknowledgment of the feelings tucked around her heart like a warm hand, “I’m in love with Angel.”

The candles flamed to life again startling Cordelia who kicked out her legs sending a wave of bubbly water dousing the flickering light. The sudden deluge brought a smile to her face and the bathroom resonated with spurts of giggly delight.

“Do you believe it, Dennis? I’m in love with Angel.”

If the ghost could have sounded a sigh, he would have done so. He’d known that for months.

“The guys seem to think Angel is ready for a new relationship,” Cordelia told Dennis as the happiness of discovery turned serious. “I guess there’s only one way to find out.”

Continued

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

Threads of Love. 1   Leave a comment

Title: Threads of Love      ToL ficpic
Author: Lysa
Posted: 03/25/04
Email
Rating: NC-17
Category: Romance, Humor, Smut
Content: C/A
Summary: Cordelia realizes that she’s in love with Angel and sets out to seduce him, but our vampire doesn’t seem to be taking the bait.
Spoilers: AtS Season 3 between Heartthrob and That Vision Thing
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made. Neither the movie ‘Uptown Girls’ nor Cosmopolitan Magazine belong to me.
Distribution:
Notes: The Challenge by Impress: Details at bottom of page.
Thanks/Dedication:
Feedback: You really expect me to say NO? Of course I want feedback.


Sunlight filtered through the doors flung wide by Cordelia Chase as she limped into the Hyperion Hotel lobby.

Shining upon the chestnut waves of her hair, the dappled beams highlighted the messy tangles poking out at odd angles on her head. One half remained upswept and tidy while the other stuck to the stylish clips falling in a web down to her shoulder.

Little demons. Silently complaining, Cordelia reached down to yank her left shoe off her foot and looked woefully at the broken heel. This was so not the way to start the day. Just lying in wait for some unsuspecting woman to come along and tempt her with their innocent eyes and sweet smiles. Definitely demon spawn.

Removing her other shoe, Cordelia straightened her mud-encrusted skirt and padded barefoot around the front counter slinging her purse down on her chair. Wes will just have to give me the rest of the morning off after this.

She heard voices coming from behind the nearly closed doors to Wesley’s office. It sounded like Gunn and Lorne were in there. No doubt they were discussing the next apocalypse or the wonders of cable television, but too bad. This took priority.

When she explained how those conniving little eight-year olds had conned her into participating in their double dutch jump roping game, Wes would understand. All it took was looking at her to get the point.

How was she supposed to know that Jimmy Choos could survive demon attacks, but not the wily tactics of elementary school kids? The little monsters actually giggled at her as she twisted her ankle, tumbled to the ground tangled in their jump ropes and rolled into a damp patch of dirt, the origins of which she just did not want to think about.

Get ready to shower me with sympathy, fellas, cos I so deserve it, Cordelia moved toward the door only to stop short of flinging it open as Gunn’s voice sounded out in surprise.

Shock resonated as he exclaimed, “Get out! You tellin’ me Angel coulda been gettin’ some in Las Vegas, but he picked some monk retreat in Tibet?”

Angel had recently returned from his three-month vigil to the Himalayas following Buffy Summer’s death. Cordelia knew Gunn had suggested that the vampire go to Las Vegas instead, but Angel had insisted he needed to find a little inner peace and come to terms with his former girlfriend’s passing.

Besides, what could Angel possibly ‘get’ in Las Vegas besides a severe case of debt? It’s not like sex was on the agenda considering Angel would have his own personal Mr. Hyde coming out to play if that ever happened. Nope, monk city was a far better choice for a eunuch vampire.

“Gunn, there are far more significant matters to consider if Lorne is indeed correct,” Wes pointed out far more rationally. “If Angel’s soul has been secured, we no longer have to be concerned with an appearance of Angelus.”

“I’m with ya on that, bro,” Gunn agreed quickly enough. “That is one dude I don’t ever wanna meet.”

Lorne told him, “Consider yourself lucky that you haven’t, sweetmeat. Flashbacks of Angelus are enough to cause me to shiver in my shoes, but reading Angel won’t give me nightmares anymore. Normally, I wouldn’t breach confidentiality, but the Powers picked this time and place for me to tell you, so here I am.”

Shellshocked, Cordelia stood outside the door to Wes’ office unable to move. Angel’s soul was permanent. Wondering what had happened, she continued to listen in on the conversation, too awed by the revelation to barge into the room and demand the details she wanted.

“It amazes me that something good actually came out of the whole Darla debacle,” Wes commented, his use of the vampiress’ name making Cordelia’s head spin with a sudden dizzy rage.

Just the thought of Darla was enough for the anger and hurt to surface again. That blonde bitch has something to do with securing Angel’s soul?

Darla had been so intent upon losing her own soul and taking Angel with her that Cordelia didn’t know how it was possible that such a miracle could come of it. The guys were as surprised by the news as she. Gunn seemed to be channeling her own thoughts on the subject, “Man, I can’t get over Angel not saying anything. To think he’s actually known since then and hasn’t said a word to anyone.”

Yeah. Hasn’t said a word, Cordelia frowned at the realization as she continued to eavesdrop. This wasn’t a new reading, but one Lorne had made some time ago if she heard right. One Lorne talked him into not long after rejoining them at A.I. Angel had known all this time and told her nothing. What’s with that?

A thoughtful moue sounded from Wesley’s throat while considering the fact, “Angel has always been rather reticent about that sort of thing.”

“Nothing’s changed,” Gunn complained that Angel wasn’t taking advantage of the new opportunities awaiting him. “If it weren’t for that Slayer girl dying and him going off on some lameass trip to the far side of the world, he’d be here brooding about it. Damn, that boy needs to get out there.”

Cordelia’s eyes narrowed as she gazed through the tiny gap in the door. Even Wesley seemed wary as he responded, “Angel is hardly a boy. Consider that he has taken the time to mourn his loss. He hasn’t been brooding like he used to. As a matter of fact, lately he’s been almost…cheerful around the office. What precisely are you suggesting?”

“A guy like him,” Gunn suggested, “the girls already crawl all over him. He could be gettin’ it every night. Gotta tell the vamp to get a life.”

Her jaw fell wide open and Cordelia thrust her hands on her hips in a subconsciously defiant move. Since when did Gunn concern himself with Angel’s love life? Who did he think he was kidding? Getting Angel out for anything but a demon brawl would be miracle enough. Gettin’ it? Hah! Except that he was right about members of the female sex fawning all over the sexy vampire.

Enforced celibacy made it necessary for Angel to ignore their come-ons, but that was apparently no longer an issue. So why was it that she felt a sudden wave of nausea at the idea?

“No need to push Angelcakes into things,” cautioned Lorne much to Cordelia’s relief. “The Powers just need you to know; they don’t need you to act as their champion’s matchmaker. Actually, I’m fairly certain that’s my job,” he joked.

Pfft! Yeah right. Rolling her eyes, Cordelia strummed her fingers against her hips as she pondered Gunn and Lorne setting Angel up with blind dates. Blondes, she guessed, eager to get their hooks into all that salty goodness.

Lorne seemed to dislike the idea and Cordelia suddenly felt like hugging the Pylean. “Our resident hero doesn’t need a lineup of lap-dancing Las Vegas showgirls or club-hopping twenty-somethings.”

“Says you,” Gunn returned pointing out that there were other benefits to be had by this new development. “Those twenty-somethings usually come with friends.”

Wesley suddenly perked up at the idea. “I must say that I tend to agree with Gunn. Now that there is no further danger of Angelus, it would be quite healthy for Angel to explore possibilities.”

Explore possibilities, my ass. They’re just thinking about getting laid. Let Angel do all the hard work by walking in the door looking…okay, admit it…pretty damn hot and then they reap the benefits by latching on to the cast-offs. Cordelia restlessly paced in front of the office door. Wes is just as deranged as Gunn. There will be no exploring of any kind, dammit.

That would be like taking unfair advantage of the female population of Los Angeles, she reasoned. They needed to mind their own business and let Angel keep it in his pants where it belonged. He wasn’t ready to explore any possibilities even if his soul was no longer in danger. That idea was just so wrong in too many ways to count.

For a second, Cordelia thought she caught Lorne staring at the door, but another peek through the crack that allowed her to overhear the conversation showed he had his back to her. “Did you ever consider that the Princess might make a good match for Angel?”

Cordelia grabbed onto the wall for support, her heart shooting up into her throat at the question. It was something she hadn’t really considered since Sunnydale before she knew Angel was a vampire and long before their friendship really developed. Not that she wasn’t attracted to him. Hello! Who wouldn’t be? Those little indulgences of thought were usually fleeting and the times when thoughts threatened to turn into fantasy, she quickly buried them. After all, Angel was a no-bone.

Until now.

Laughing hysterically at the idea of Angel and Cordelia as a couple, her two friends made it seem the suggestion was utterly impossible. Then almost simultaneously, Gunn and Wesley’s laughter died as both scowled darkly at the Pylean.

Finding his breath, Gunn gruffly complained, “That ain’t funny. You don’t bring Barbie into a conversation where we’re talking about Angel gettin’ laid.”

“Really, Lorne,” Wesley sounded shocked. “That suggestion is unacceptable. Cordelia and Angel have gone through too much to complicate things in that manner. They’re friends. Nothing more will ever come of it.”

“Don’t be so sure about that,” Lorne stood his ground. The two of them were far too involved in their sudden denial to consider he might have a reason to suggest it.

“Office romances can become problematic,” added Wesley as he glanced toward the ceiling thinking of Fred again.

Catching him lost in thought as she peeped through the opening in the door, Cordelia found it all a little hypocritical. Wes felt he could moon over their resident waif when he found anything more than friendship unacceptable between her and Angel. Did they doubt her ability to snag him if she wanted too? Maybe she wasn’t a blonde bimbo, but obviously Wes had forgotten what Cordelia Chase was like when she turned on the charm. As for Gunn, he was clueless and might be forgiven.

“You don’t think the vamp would get it in his head to mess with Cordy, do you?” The sudden concern sounding in Gunn’s voice came with a strong brotherly protective vibe. Normally, Cordelia would pretend to be ticked off by it while inwardly basking at his concerned attention. Now, it just sounded like interference. “I might need a little one-on-one time with Angel just to make sure he doesn’t get any ideas.”

Still, Cordelia had to figure the odds of Angel getting ideas about seducing her were as likely as him betting his soul on a game of cards. Not gonna happen.

“Cordelia is certainly capable of fending off any untoward advances from men,” Wes seemed confident. Then considering further, “As for Angel…better the both of us talk to him.”

Now Lorne seemed to change tactics. “Maybe you’re right. Those two together? It’s a terrible idea. Absolutely the worst. Forget I brought it up. Besides, isn’t Cordelia still hung up on the Groosalugg?”

Her head shot up at the mention of Groo’s name. When was the last time she had even thought of that big hunk of male? Not in months, she realized almost guiltily. Not really since they’d come back from Pylea and Angel had gone off on his quest.

“Perhaps you’re right,” Wesley commented. “I haven’t heard Cordelia mention Groo in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean she’s no longer in love with him. Perhaps it’s best not to mention Lorne’s revelation to Cordelia.”

Staring hard at the door, Cordelia was not happy with the idea of Wes’ subterfuge. It was all one big lie by omission. Just as bad as Angel not telling her about his soul to begin with.

“I’m not worried about Cordy,” Gunn didn’t think that was an issue. “Angel is another story. One of these days, Angel is gonna wake up and realize there’s a lot more to sex than just spanking the monkey.”

Eew! Cordelia figured it was her own fault for eavesdropping, but did he have to put these images in her head?

Wesley drolled, “Angel has probably forgotten more about sex than you’ve ever known.”

“Don’t dis me, dawg,” Gunn harrumphed. “Do I wanna know how you know that?”

Sounding offended, Wes explained, “Research, of course. There are several volumes dedicated to th—”

“No, I don’t wanna know,” Gunn decided. “I say we start strategizing a way for Angel to get out there and get some.”

Cordelia felt like throwing her shoes at the door, barging inside and telling her so-called friends that they were out of their freaking minds. Instead, she whirled on her bare feet and headed straight for the stairs leading to the second level of the hotel.

Get some? They’re gonna help Angel to get some? Cordelia stomped all the way up ignoring the twinge in her sore ankle. Wes actually agreed with Gunn’s idea. Agreed with it!

Reaching the top of the stairs, she paused wondering why Lorne would suggest stuff only to change his mind two seconds later. Angel and I terrible together? Pfft! Two hotties having sweaty, mind-numbing, body-bending go-all-night wild sex. That’s not terrible.

Outside of room 217 Cordelia paced along the carpeted hallway mumbling under her breath at the notion that Angel was somehow ready to move beyond this broody stage of mourning for his star-crossed lover. If they were so sure about it, maybe it was time to find out.

“If anyone in this office is gonna help Angel get laid,” she mumbled glaring back over her shoulder at the stairs, “It’ll be me. Personally. Assuming I don’t stake him for not telling me about his soul.”

Cordelia put a hand on the doorknob, “Get laid, pfft!”

The door suddenly swung open dragging Cordelia inside along with it. She bumped into Angel’s solid frame and he quickly moved to steady her. “Did you just say that you wanted to get laid?”

Angel’s amused eyes twinkled as he took in her appearance. He let his dark gaze travel from the top of her tangled hair along her mud-enhanced garments to her polished bare toes.

“Laid?” Cordelia’s eyes flashed as she realized she’d awakened him with her pacing and muttering outside his bedroom door. Thinking fast, she commented, “Waylaid. I was waylaid on the sidewalk by two eight-year old demon children.”

“I can see that,” he smirked while shutting the door behind them. It wasn’t often she barged in on him when he was asleep, but Angel figured this might be enough to do it.

Taking her by the elbow, he started to maneuver her into the bathroom. Cordelia had mud streaked on her face and Angel couldn’t imagine her not wanting to clean up immediately. Only she wretched her arm out of his gentle grasp and whirled on him like a mini tornado sucking up all of the good humor he was experiencing at the sight of his beautiful seer in a less that perfectly coifed state.

“Don’t you try to be nice to me, buddy,” Cordelia poked him in the chest with her broken-heeled shoe. “You’re supposed to be my friend.”

She got him right on his breastbone showing in the gap between his hastily donned robe. Angel ignored the urge to rub the sore spot while responding, “I am.”

“Lies,” she huffed tossing the shoes on the carpet where they bounced haphazardly. “It’s all lies.”

Frowning, Angel thought hard. He was obviously on his way to the doghouse about something, but he couldn’t recall anything that might have pissed Cordelia off in the past twelve hours. “I haven’t lied about anything…recently.”

That statement only incensed Cordelia even more. “Hello! Darla. Isn’t there anything you want to tell me?”

Angel felt a moment of pure terror like none he’d felt since his soul was lost to bliss. The expectant look in Cordelia’s eyes made it seem clear. She knew. Only Angel was mistaken about one thing. She knows I slept with Darla. All that muttering about being laid…that was all about Darla.

“Cordy,” he reached out a hand to graze her arm, not quite holding her, but needing her to feel his sincerity through his touch. “It just happened. I felt nothing. There was only the cold left inside me and I needed something, anything to help me feel again. The darkness was in me and I only knew that I wanted it out.”

“Cryptic as ever, Angel,” Cordelia rolled her eyes as he spouted what sounded like nonsense. “Just tell me… why Darla?”

What possible connection the vampiress could have in securing his soul? How did she make it happen? Those were the questions Cordelia wanted answered, but Angel was on another tangent altogether.

“Darla— it was just meaningless sex,” Angel promised her only to watch as Cordelia’s hazel eyes opened up into wide saucers.

“Sex,” Cordelia felt her blood run cold and then hot again with anger. “Sex with Darla? Actual sex. You’re telling me that you had sex with Darla.”

The sudden escalation in her outrage confused the issue. It sounded as if Cordelia knew nothing about it. Angel realized that he’d somehow managed to tell Cordelia the one thing he’d been determined that she never know.

“Wasn’t that the lie you were talking about?”

“No,” she answered so slowly that the single syllable was drawn out extensively, one eyebrow arching dangerously. “I referred to an omission; not telling me something that you should’ve told me because that’s my right as your friend. It was something else entirely, even something forgivable. Quite the opposite of this outright, blatant, in-my-face lie about you sleeping with that vampire slut.”

“Shit.” The curse crudely made its way to his lips, a word rarely released by his own inner monologue, but the utterance of which only made his guilt more apparent.

Hands on her hips, Cordelia toes curled angrily into the carpet. The expression on his face combined with the visible cringing irked her. His lie about sex with Darla went a lot deeper than getting some. Cordelia could practically see the cogs churning in his head as he searched for something she would accept as an explanation.

“Don’t even try to get out of it,” she snapped at him. “The crap has already hit the fan, Angel.”

Asking for a little credit, Angel reminded her, “I’m trying to be honest now.”

“Scoring points a little late in the game, are we?” Cordelia rolled her eyes and huffed at the nerve he had in attempting his patented innocent puppy dog stare. “Try again. Meaningless my ass. To think that I…”

“What?” Angel asked hoping the question would throw her off track while he came up with a reasonable excuse. Only he felt certain an eternity of trying would still leave him empty-handed.

Cordelia bit back the words that would have revealed she had actually contemplated ‘exploring possibilities’ with him. A glance toward the rumpled bed behind them made her angry at herself for thinking about it. “I trusted you, Angel. Again, dammit. Even after everything you did. Firing us and being such a jerk. You lied to me!”

“It’s all in the past, Cor. Can’t you just let it go?” Angel’s eyes begged forgiveness as his hands moved along her shoulders. “We’ve come a long way in the last six months or so. Things have been okay between us lately. Haven’t they?”

“Until now,” Cordelia glared hotly and moved away from him. “What is it with you and blondes? Darla, Buffy, Kate and the list goes on. You’re like a super-conducting magnet attracting trouble in the form of clingy blondes.”

Angel wished she would just leave this alone, but after latching onto an argument it was unlikely that Cordelia would let it go. The only thing he could do was ride it out and hope for the best. Considering the subject matter, he wondered if it would take more than just a spontaneous gift of designer wear to mend this particular fence.

“You’re exaggerating. Besides, there was nothing like that between me and Kate,” he assured her.

Plopping down on his bed, Cordelia stretched out her legs in front of her, missing the vampire’s flinch as her mud-covered skirt contacted his sheets. “So cop lady isn’t the clingy type and apparently not into vampires, unlike certain other blondes.”

“Don’t bring Buffy into this,” warned Angel. He wasn’t about to get into a slanging match with Cordelia just to have the slayer’s name bandied about.

Cornelia stared down at her bare feet long enough to see that the mud had gotten into other places as well before glancing back up. To her, it seemed clear that Angel would never be completely over Buffy Summers. No matter what the guys might think. “It’s been more than three months, Angel. You say you’re alright, but are you? I just don’t see you ready to move beyond it. Certainly not as quickly as you moved beyond Darla.”

Angel crossed his arms over his broad chest, the move stretching the robe across his shoulders. The two situations were nothing alike. “I know you’re mad, but I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.”

“Sure you do,” countered Cordelia stubbornly. “Friends share things. Like truth. Like insights into their stupid behaviors.”

With a deep sigh, Angel pointed out, “Darla was my sire. I thought that I could save her, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t a happy time for any of us and I didn’t want to drag you down into the dark with me. Not any of my friends.”

Especially not you.

Cordelia’s anger simmered. “We belonged at your side, helping you.”

Walking over, Angel took hold of her chin tilting her face up to him again when she darted her eyes away. “You wouldn’t want to be there in the dark, Cordelia.”

“We were all there,” Cordelia told him. “None of us missed out on it.”

“Maybe you got a taste of it, but you have no idea how close I came to…,” Angel was unable to finish as Cordelia cut in on him. Just as well. She didn’t need to know how close she came to being the one he went to that night.

“Losing us forever?” Cordelia was oblivious to the angst in his eyes. “Wes, Gunn and I deserve to hear the truth when we ask for it, Angel.”

Angel nodded. “Your friendship is important to me and I won’t risk it again. Not for anything.”

“Just you remember that,” Cordelia leapt off the bed and stormed out leaving Angel behind.

She was already half way across the lobby when Wesley wandered out of his office. There was no sign of Gunn or Lorne within. Looking at her, Wes exclaimed, “My lord, Cordelia. What happened? Were you mugged?”

“Don’t ask,” Cordelia snapped as she stopped in her tracks, turning around to grab her purse from its place on her desk chair. “I’m taking the rest of the morning off.”

“Certainly,” Wes watched her go and then found himself turning to look over his shoulder. Sure enough, Angel was standing at the top of the stairs gazing in the direction of the doors.

Maybe sooner rather than later was a good time for that little chat.

Continue

Challenge by Impress:

While watching the movie ‘Uptown Girls’, Impress saw “a scene that screamed C/A”. To be set during BtVS 3, but I can put it anywhere (umm, so I did…AtS S3). Cordy attempts to seduce Angel, but all her attempts fall short because Angel is purposefully playing dumb. Then she remembers a secret weapon…Egyptian cotton sheets. Must include the line: “No man can resist 900 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.”

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

The Mirror Crack’d. 6   1 comment

****

Wesley turned on his heel and dashed out of the office. Watching him go, Cordelia couldn’t stop the grin that followed. Telling Angel, “He gets that dramatic exit thing from you.”

The smile faltered when her eyes moved forward again, meeting his. Harnessing the stormy sea of emotions within him, Angel admitted his mistake. “I should never have kissed you.”

Maybe it was selfish to be more concerned about them than Alice Waterhouse, but it was impossible to stop thinking about it.

Cordelia obviously had issues with it, too. Unlike him, she wasn’t prepared to face the fact that ignoring their feelings would’ve been preferable to this. “Don’t.”

“It doesn’t matter what we want.” Shoving away from the desk Angel walked around to her side. “Just forget it happened.”

Typically defiant, Cordelia had ideas of her own. “No, I can’t,” she shook her head. “I won’t. Are you telling me that you can, just like that?”

Angel had to walk away unable to look in her eyes. He stood at the office threshold rubbing his hand over his mouth and remembering the way her lips felt beneath his. “It was pure reaction, Cordy. The effects of the mirror had us both worked up. We’re friends. We have a mission.”

“That’s a lameass excuse, Angel.” She dumped her partially eaten sandwich and its open wrapper on the desk. “I’m not just going to accept some line of crap because you think it’ll be good for me.”

Tight jawed, dark eyes glittering intensely, he stared back wordlessly for several tense seconds before heading toward the stairs.

“Dammit, don’t you dare walk away from this.” The chair toppled to the ground unnoticed as Cordelia darted after him. Catching up to him behind the front desk, she yanked on his arm. “I want you to take that back.”

Circling around, Angel walked her back until she was caught between him and the desk for no other reason than he wanted her there. Intimidation came naturally to him and when it came to butting heads with Cordy, he had to fall back on instincts.

“That’s not what you want.” The demon in him liked it mean & nasty and right now that suited his purpose. “You want me inside you.”

Cordelia shuddered, but not in fear. It was true. They both knew it and that only made it worse. She’d wanted to talk about their feelings, not beat each other up about it. Outraged that he would throw their mutual desires in her face, she shoved at his chest, “Bastard,” and tried to squeeze out from her trapped position.

Reaching up before she could escape Angel took a fistful of hair and held her in place while she squirmed and scratched at him like a yowling kitten, and demanded that he stop acting like a jerk. “You’d have to put up with a lot more to be with me. Not that it’s possible.”

“I put up with you everyday,” she countered.

Focused on her mouth he leaned closer intent upon reminding her it was different now. Only he stopped short, his lips hovering above hers. Angel abruptly let her go. “I’d want more. That’s exactly why we need to forget this ever happened. Let it go.”

Softly, stubbornly, Cordelia refused, “No.” Her hands slipped up between them to slide around to the nape of his neck, her fingers brushing against the short strands of hair. “Maybe it does take a magic mirror to show us what we want. Yes, it sucks that we can’t have it all. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have something.”

Angel let his forehead drop to hers, and opened up his fist to let her silken hair fall through his fingers. He grabbed onto the edge of the counter with both hands and closed his eyes silently vowing to find some way around the curse.

Deciding that he would say nothing about that plan, make no promises he couldn’t keep, Angel opened his eyes and pulled back enough that he could see her face. “I don’t know how that will work, Cordy, but I’ll try.” The instant he said it, a smile lit her face, hope shining in her eyes.
****

Upon Wesley’s return, he found Cordelia and Angel sitting outside in the courtyard. They were side by side, their arms and legs touching, heads bent close. They looked like a couple in love. He had to trust them to do the right thing by abstaining from total intimacy. They both were well aware of the risks involved, but it worried him nonetheless.

“Angel, Cordy,” he called out to them. Having prepared everything before disturbing them, he was ready. “It is time to begin.”

They gathered in the lobby noting that the mirror once again reflected all three of them. Angel put his arm around Cordelia’s waist and watched his mirror image press a kiss to her temple. He’d wanted to do that, but had chosen to stick to pulling her close.

“What is all this?” Looking around at the items Wesley had neatly arranged, it didn’t seem like he was preparing a communication spell. The theory that Alice Waterhouse was still alive might be true, but they still had no direct way of talking to her, Angel pointed out.

Wes picked up a mortar containing crushed glass. “You’re right. I plan to repair the mirror.”

With the aid of a spell and the waving of a few stinky herbs, the cracks on the glass surface sealed. No sooner had Wesley’s incantation ended than the lobby lights went dim again and a bright green glow began to shine from the mirror. Mist poured into the room clinging low to the floor swirling around their feet and a gust of wind blasted from an open dimensional vortex.

Papers from the desktop went flying. A short scream sounded as Cordelia’s hair whipped around her face. She wrapped her arms around Angel’s waist tucking her face into his chest for protection. He held her tightly, standing against the force of the wind.

Wesley held his arm up to block the most of it from hitting his face as he tried to stay focused on the aperture.

As suddenly as it opened the vortex closed with a schwoop. The mist dissipated and the lobby lights flickered back to full power. The mirror’s surface no longer reflected three figures, but four. An elegant redhead in a silk nightgown stood behind them, a glittering necklace of gold and emeralds at her throat.

“Thank you.”

The husky tones were real this time. Not in their heads. They turned to find Alice Waterhouse smiling at them, tears of gratitude streaming down her face. “You’ve done it, Wesley.”

“Y-You know me?”

“Of course,” a slow nod followed. Her light grey eyes scanned Wes’ face before they slid across to Angel and Cordelia. “I have been aware of everything that has passed within a certain radius of the mirror since my entrapment.”

Instantly fascinated by the concept, Wesley started to rattle off questions.

Cordelia interrupted him. “Stop pestering the woman, Wes. She’s been trapped in some weird mirror for decades. All she wants now is a hot shower, some food and a change of clothes, not to be interrogated.”

Ordering Wes to go fetch his uneaten sandwich, she told Angel they’d be borrowing his rooms for a while. “I probably have some stuff you can wear,” Cordelia offered. “Of course they might be a little loose up top.”

“I am grateful.”

“Oh, we do this all the time,” Cordelia shrugged it off and started to usher Alice in the direction of the stairs.

Wesley ran back in from the other room carrying the club sandwich. “Can’t you at least explain how you were trapped or whether the necklace protected you?”

“I can see that you are resourceful,” Alice touched her fingertips to the necklace. “If you know of the necklace, then you must know about me.”

“Very little.”

With a proud countenance, Alice announced, “I am a daughter of Amara, a race of sorcerers, healers and mystics who strive to protect the weak and to vanquish evil where we find it.”

Angel realized that her stay at the Hyperion was not coincidental. “You were here to defeat the Thesulac.”

“Yes, though it evaded me for quite some time.” She explained some of the demon’s history, that it had been there far longer than the hotel itself. Its non-corporeal state made it difficult.”

He remembered the fact that she was there with the mob. “It affected you, too.”

Again, Alice answered in the affirmative, shame and embarrassment making her pale and flush within the space of a few moments. “I sincerely regret the outcome of our first meeting. My actions then were deplorable, but out of my control.”

“Ah, the necklace protects against physical harm, but not so mental forms of attack.”

“That is correct.”

“So where does the mirror come in?”

Alice smiled. “It is an antique belonging to my family. I take it with me when I travel. For me it provides a little taste of home and shows me what I am missing when I am away.”

“We got the Skinemax version.” Cordelia’s tone was enough to explain what she meant.

“Hidden desires are easily revealed by its magic.”

“Duh.”

“What else do you desire, Cordelia? My release earns you anything within my powers to grant.”

Snapping at the chance, “Angel’s soul—,” she was cut off before she could finish.

“It must be something not tied to the others here. They will receive their own chance to gain something they desire.”

Thoughts of stardom, designer clothing and tons of cash flashed through her head. It was exciting to think about it, but Cordelia wanted to think big. She glanced over at Angel and Wesley asking for advice, “What do you think about Dennis being able to hang out at the Hyperion whenever he wants? I’ll be spending more time here in the future.”

Angel noticed that she wasn’t asking for his permission, just stating that as a fact. “I think that’s a great idea.”

“Really?” Cordelia let out a squee. Hugging him, she kissed his cheek and turning in his arms to face Alice explained, “Phantom Dennis is a ghost. I hate to think of him spending so much time alone.”

“You surprise me,” Alice smiled and agreed to the request. “I expected something quite different from someone so young.”

Cordelia wasn’t sure if that was an insult or a compliment. “Thanks, I guess.”

Turning to Wesley next, she held out her hand to him. “You are a treasure. Thank you for repairing my mirror.” Alice squeezed his hand. “When the demon confronted me, feeding upon my own fear of failure, I attempted to use the mirror against it. I opened a gateway wherein I hoped to imprison the thesulac.”

She released him and walked to examine the mirror. “Instead, I fell into the trap of my own making. The necklace protected me from harm, kept me alive, let me live through the mirror’s magic.” The memory of it was clear despite the years that had passed. “My escape route was cut off. The demon was furious that it could no longer reach me. Its tentacles struck out at the mirror cracking it.”

“What will you have of me, Wesley?” she walked back to him. “You are man of many talents and possess knowledge of the true world. If information and understanding are so important to your happiness, might I choose a gift for you?”

Curious, but content to let her do so, Wesley nodded. Any answers she gave him to the many questions buzzing in his head would be worth it.

Alice grinned delightedly at his decision. “Then you must accompany me for a night and a day when I make my journey home.”

“Where exactly is home?” Cordelia’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Not that I don’t trust you, but you know what they say about gift horses.”

“Close by.”

“Evasive much?” Behind Alice’s back, Wesley was giving Cordelia the sign to shut up. “Fine, okay, sheesh!”

Then it was Angel’s turn and Cordelia’s bristles went up again. She wasn’t sure why, but Alice Waterhouse gave her the shivers. Maybe it was the spooky grey eyes that seemed to sense what she was thinking. Or the fact that she’d witnessed some very private fantasies that were none of her business.

Whatever it was, Cordelia tried to convince herself to shut up. If the woman had the ability to do what she promised, then things would be a lot different. It was scary to want something so much. Sensing her nerves, Angel threaded his fingers through hers as Alice approached them.

“My people and I owe you a great deal, Angel. You have taken part in saving my life, yet I attempted to deprive you of yours.” The irony of it played across her face in a wry smile before she continued. “You have vanquished the demon responsible for the accident that trapped me when it was my duty to end its existence. And today I have learned that you destroyed the lost ring which was the shame of my people, created at the behest of a master vampire who threatened to wipe out our bloodline.”

There was far more to that story, Angel realized, but the thickening of her voice as she spoke suggested now was not the time to ask for details. Maybe Wes would find out during their night and day, though he had a feeling that providing knowledge was not the only thing Alice had in mind by arranging an escort home.

“Thrice have I indebted myself to you and so must I repay it in kind.” Alice’s words called for his attention.

“You know what I want,” Angel wasn’t going to dance around it, “but it’s impossible.”

Observing him quietly for a moment, Alice agreed. “Wesley suggested that the Gem of Amara might secure your soul. He was right, vampire, I believe that it would.”

Cordelia loosed herself from Angel’s hold pulling away to face them both. “I don’t understand. Why is it impossible? You just said that it would work. That necklace has two emeralds.”

Giving one to Angel would still leave her with one, Cordelia pleaded to no end. “You said you owed him.”

Trying to calm her down was useless. “I can’t take it, Cordy.”

“Nor is it mine to give,” explaining that the necklace belonged to her people. “The gemstone Angel destroyed was originally part of a larger emerald. It provided its wearer a method of attaining vast power. Greed and jealousy led to betrayal and the ring fell into another’s hand and then another’s at the cost of many human lives. I cannot allow that to happen again.”

“But Angel isn’t like that—not with his soul.” Cordelia had to concede that Angelus would’ve loved to be indestructible. And the thought of what he would be capable of if he could walk in sunlight without turning to dust gave her an instant understanding of Alice’s fears.

Angel reminded her about Spike’s betrayal. “Word would get out if I had something like that ring again. I can’t take the chance, Cordy, not with you—or Wes. And before you say that the two of you face dangers every day, I already know that. This would be different.”

Gulping down her frustration, Cordelia knew it was selfish of her to want Angel’s soul to be secured, but she couldn’t help it. Was it really asking too much to be able to be with Angel? To show him how much he meant to her when now it seemed dangerous to say the words.

Everything they’d talked about in the courtyard seemed like a distant memory now. Promises of openness, decisions to let things progress slowly, to do things that didn’t always start out with stakes, crossbows and a patch up job.

If Alice couldn’t give him one of those emeralds, that actually changed nothing. Their plans were still the way they’d left them.

Only it seemed like they’d been cheated. A way around the curse was within their grasp and yet denied them. One more bump on the horny toad of life, she decided, miserable about it.

“There may be another way,” Alice seemed hesitant about bringing it up. “Curses are not exactly my forte as they are more like prayers for harm rather than magic.”

Her comment left them all a little confused. “A young Wicca of our acquaintance was the one to reinitiate Angel’s curse after his soul was lost for a time,” Wesley told her. “It was a spell she cast using the information collected about the original curse.”

A grin dimpled Alice’s cheeks, a light laugh bubbling forth. “Then I can help. If your soul was lost that means the curse was broken, Angel. Giving it back to you was an act of magic, not a true curse.”

“The original curse contained a soul-lossage loophole,” Cordelia explained that Willow had to use all of the words she’d found in Jenny Calendar’s notes. “She was afraid it wouldn’t work.”

Alice moved toward the mirror again, speaking a few words that Cordelia recognized as Latin, but didn’t understand. The mirror reflected the four of them. A green glow appeared within the glassy surface separating out into two balls of light that hovered over Angel’s head and her own.

“What is that?” Cordelia swatted at the light until she realized that it only appeared in the mirror. She also knew that she was the only one in the room who had no clue about the words Alice had used in that spell.

Angel cleared it up for her. “It’s a detection spell of sorts.” The puzzled look he gave her turned to one of deep concern. “Cordy, are you okay?”

Hesitating for a moment too long, she answered, “I’m fine. Ticked off, but fine.” She glanced nervously toward Wesley who stepped closer with that same look of concern on his face.

“That spell was cast to detect illness.” Alice told her that she thought the condition of Angel’s soul might respond to a mystic cure. The glow indicated her theory was right.

Cordelia backed away from all of them. “Then why is the glowy ball above my head? I’m not sick.”

A dire tone sounded in Alice’s voice, “Yes, I am afraid that you are.”

“A-Angel?”

“The visions,” he thought about the effects they had. Asking Wes, “Could the effects be cumulative?”

He’d never considered it, but it now seemed clear what Angel would ask from Alice. Doing so in his stead, “If they are life-threatening or harmful, you must help her,” Wesley hoped that she would agree. Technically, it would be helping someone other than Angel, which might not fit within her little scheme of rewards.

Luckily it seemed that Alice had her own way of getting around the rules. “Cordelia’s health is your happiness and so I will make it the second of your gifts. A healer from amongst my people will attend you both.”

“Cordy will be okay?”

“Whatever her ailment it is within our power to cure permanently.” Confident of it, Alice assured them that it would not affect Cordelia’s visions. As they had explained that they were from the Powers that Be, she smiled somewhat secretly and promised that all would be well.

Cordelia was still a little rattled about the fact that she had some weird vision trauma and didn’t know it. “What if we hadn’t found your mirror—I might’ve gotten sick.”

If it was possible for Angel to be any paler than normal, the thought that he had no idea that Cordelia was being affected by the visions was enough to do it. The selfish thoughts of the life they might have together once his soul was permanent were nothing next to his desire for her to be safe from harm.

“The visions are painful.”

“I do not know if the pain may be diminished,” Alice admitted. “That may be part of the vision itself that our healing powers cannot change. But the harm they cause can be eradicated.”

The news added to the hefty burden Angel carried close to his heart. “Cordy, I’m so sorry. I should’ve noticed. Done something.”

“It’s not your fault, Angel, and even I didn’t really think anything was wrong.” The post-vision headaches had always been bad and had seemed to get a little worse, but Cordelia hadn’t really thought about it much.

Putting up with the pain was just her part of the mission. “Besides, Alice says I’m fixable, so it’s all okay. I get to keep the visions at no risk.”

Quietly pleased that she was making progress in discovering how she might repay Angel for what was considered an immeasurable debt, Alice prompted him, “What of your third gift? State your desires.”

Looking down at Cordelia who was once again sheltered in his arms, Angel had only one wish that came to mind, but he knew what Alice’s answer would be even before he mentioned the Shanshu Prophesy. “I cannot grant you humanity. That is beyond my abilities. Redemption must be earned and that is between you and the Powers.”

It was the answer he expected.

Wesley suggested Angel hold off on answering. “You might need a favor one day.” But the idea did not sit well with the sorceress who claimed to dislike owing someone a debt.

Pushed to decide on the spur of the moment, Angel caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. The novelty of seeing his reflection hadn’t worn off. “I don’t suppose you’ve got another one like that hanging around somewhere?”

“No way,” gasped Cordelia slapping his arm. “Some client will walk in and it’ll be in full fantasy mode.”

Bending closer to her ear, Angel murmured softly, “I didn’t say we had to hang it in the lobby.”

Cordelia blinked and then his meaning finally sunk in. “Oh. That could be fun.” She smirked at the direction her thoughts were taking.

“Good heavens,” Wesley slapped a hand over his eyes. “Angel will you please get Cordelia away from the mirror before she dreams up something else.”

“Uh, Cordy—”

“Oops!”

On the circular couch in the mirror, Cordelia was straddled across Angel’s lap kissing him enthusiastically. Watching, wide-eyed, Alice muttered, “I never thought of using it that way.”

“Is it voyeuristic to watch yourself making out?” Cordelia wondered just before Angel kissed the tip of her nose.

He let out a short laugh, amazed that he could after all that had happened today. It was a knack she’d always had with him: the ability to make him smile. “Maybe we should save that question for later.”

“The mirror is yours,” Alice claimed to have seen more than enough of that particular looking glass. She assured them that no danger existed. Its magic was quite simple.
****

When lights of the taxi disappeared around the corner, Cordelia let out a sigh. “That was a let down. Not exactly a flashy exit. I thought a sorceress would use some kind of hocus pocus to get home.”

“Like what?”

Shrugging, Cordelia rolled her eyes at her own folly. “I don’t know. Come to think of it just getting a cab at this time of night was probably magical enough.”

When Angel turned to go back inside the hotel, an idea she’d had earlier came back to her. “Hey, let’s stay outside for a while. We can stroll around the block or go get some ice cream or something.”

“That’s not a very exciting first date,” Angel mused as he jogged down the steps and held out his hand to her.

“Pfft! That depends on the person you’re with.”

The slide of his cool skin along her fingers made a little zing of electricity shoot down her spine. Surprised, she jumped and laughed at the way her body reacted to such a little thing. The way his much larger hand engulfed hers clasping it to his own was so simple and real that her heart thumped happily.

Angel guided her down the Hyperion steps and onto the sidewalk that wound around the block. The old hotel was really a beautiful building despite its dilapidated state. Its foundation had survived countless quakes and mystical phenomenon.

Though the inside was a little rotten in places, with sections left unexplored, Cordelia found her plans for renovation popping back into her head.

Only now she was confused about what to do. The whole dynamic between her and Angel had changed today. Earlier this afternoon she’d been planning to spruce up the place, looking for a bedroom that was far away from Angel’s second floor domain. She stopped in the glow of the corner street light to search his face for any sign of Angel having second thoughts. Her stomach was twisting in nervous knots.

“What is it?” he asked lifting a hand to caress her face.

“Doesn’t it seem strange to be doing this?” Cordelia’s free hand settled on his chest. “Things change so quickly and it’s hard to keep up. When I woke up this morning I had no idea that I—I’d be in danger of falling in love with my best friend.”

Stunned was the only word she could come up with to describe Angel’s expression. Admitting attraction was one thing, but—oh, God—she’d just used the ‘L’ word, hadn’t she? Cordelia’s nervous knots were joined by a swarm of butterflies that melted away under the sudden onslaught of Angel’s kiss.

They were locked together in an out-of-control mesh of roving hands and mouths and moans.

Lost in a hungry haze of sensation, Cordelia let out a tiny mewl of protest when his lips pulled away. “Neither did I,” Angel muttered against her lips. His eyes were full of wonder as Cordy slipped hers closed again lifting her mouth back to his for more kisses.

Angel’s grip slipped to her shoulders and pushed her away as gently as he could. “I think we should stick to the hand-holding, Cordy. Hearing you say that, being able to touch you, to kiss you—I don’t know that the curse is just about sex.”

Dawning understanding forced Cordelia to step back. “I guess my kisses are just that good, huh?” she teased feeling too happy to stop smiling even when reminded of the curse. “Guess you’ll just have to learn to be patient.”

“I’m not the one who needs the lesson,” he smirked as his meaning sunk in. Angel had practiced control over baser urges and reigning in his emotions for a long time. Cordelia, on the other hand, tended to want things her way and pronto.

“Are you suggesting that I can’t keep my hands off you?” Cordelia raised a brow as if he’d just issued a challenge. “You’re not that irresistible.”

She took off down the street at a brisk pace only to find him in front of her seconds later. “No fair sneaking up on me with the vampire speed.”

Reminding him that they were supposed to be out for a walk, Cordelia tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and nodded in the direction they’d been going. “Think we can make it around the block without ripping each other’s clothes off or getting into a fight?”

Angel closed his hand over hers, his thumb circling slowly, just that slight touch enough to make her tingly all over again. “It’s worth a try.”

A little hitch of anticipation sounded as Cordelia answered, “I think so, too.”

The End

Lysa

Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

The Mirror Crack’d. 5   1 comment

The first six tries got Cordelia no closer to finding any relatives of the mysterious Alice Waterhouse.

When one man, C Waterhouse according to the phone book, asked if she was single, Cordelia kept him on the line instead of hanging up on him like she normally would any other sleazy guy more interested in her bra size than helping her.

So what if it was a deliberate attempt to annoy Angel. He deserved it for being such a jerk. She chatted with Chuck for about five minutes before she felt the hairs rising on the back of her neck. The phone line went dead.

“Oops!” Spinning around, she saw the phone cord in Angel’s hand. He shrugged and tried not to smile too much. “Must’ve snagged it.”

Seeing red, Cordelia gritted her teeth ordering Angel to, “Put that back right now. I wasn’t finished talking to Chuck.”

“You are now.”

“Jealous?”

Angel held himself perfectly still. “Hardly. Certainly not of Chuckie. You don’t need to throw yourself at strangers to prove you’re not interested in me.”

Outraged, she slammed the phone back in its cradle. “I was not throwing myself at him. I was trying to loosen him up a little. He was hiding something.”

“Notice you didn’t deny being interested.”

So maybe she couldn’t deny it anymore. Angel’s super-sniffer made it impossible to hide her body’s reaction. “Okay, so maybe under way, way different circumstances I might find you really hot, but it’s not my fault that mirror turns our reflections into something from late night cable.”

The guilt in his dark brown eyes was an early indicator of Brood Mode. That wasn’t the reaction Cordelia expected from her confession. Gloating, yes, but she certainly wasn’t ready for him to say, “I know. It’s my fault.”

“Huh?”

“Not what the mirror does,” Angel rubbed a hand over his forehead, “but I think it’s reading my mind.”

Cordelia’s gaze narrowed. “Your mind?” That was all kinds of wrong. “Do you think you’re being chivalrous or something for taking credit for it? Thanks, but I’ll suffer with the consequences.”

Obviously, Angel hadn’t been the one reading Cosmo and thinking about mapping out his erogenous zones. Cordelia nibbled on her fingertip as the image popped into her head again. Or better yet, letting him map hers with a trail of touches, kisses and the wet slip of his tongue.

Now that was worthy of one of a long, hot bubble bath where she liked to close her eyes and let the cares of the day fade replacing them with something made of pure fantasy.

When her daze faded, Cordelia noted that Angel’s brooding expression had turned darker still. She turned away ashamed of thinking such thoughts about someone who was her best friend.

Crossing her arms at her waist, she walked away from the desk and pretended to be interested in one of the plants by the window.

The creak of the chair hinges sounded as Angel got up to follow her. “You don’t get it.”

Suppressing a shiver as he came up behind her, Cordelia shook her head. No, she was missing something from the big picture, but, “What?”

“None of this is your fault,” Angel assured her gently taking hold of her shoulders and pulling her back against the rock wall of his chest. She melted into him letting her head fall back onto his shoulder. “It’s both of us, Cordy. There’s some sort of sorcery involved. Whatever feelings exist—I think this mirror can bring them to the surface.”

A soft pfft sounded. “So you’re saying none of it is fake. That I really do want you.” Cordelia supposed there was no use trying to deny it anymore.

“No Cordy,” he turned her around to face him, his hands coming up to slide through her hair and cup her face, “I’m saying that I want you, too.”

With her heart thudding madly, Cordelia’s eyelids shuttered softly closed as the light dimmed and the space between them slowly slipped away. One feathery kiss, soft and sweet touched her lips. Another, determined, yet full of tender care.

A gasp left her lips as she moved closer into Angel’s arms, her hands seeking out the strength of his arms and shoulders, holding on for fear that she would fall into the waking world, that this was only a dream.

Angel slid his lips over hers, teasing, urging her to kiss him back. Her mouth chased his, capturing it with searing heat, opening up to the shallow dip of his tongue. She licked back, their mouths meshing hotly, a moan sounding between them. Cordelia arched into his hands as they swept down her spine and up again beneath the hem of her shirt, but going no further than the soft skin at her waist.

Kisses turned frantic.

They bumped into the back wall, the sudden contact knocking them both to their senses. Cordelia’s panting breaths drew his attention down to the rise and fall of her breasts. Frustration sounded on their lips, both wanting more, but aware that they’d already crossed a dangerous line.

A point of no return where there would be no putting their feelings back into Pandora’s box.

Quivering, “We can’t do this,” Cordelia planted both hands against Angel’s chest needing some support just to hold herself upright. Her legs wobbly rubber bands. Salty tears stung her eyes, a sob catching in her throat.

Just as devastated, Angel kissed her one last time, his free hand moving up to caress her damp cheek. He pulled her tight into his embrace, resting his cheek on the top of her head. “I know.”

That’s how Wesley found them some time later. Standing locked within each other’s embrace. After a slack-jawed moment where he could do nothing but stare, he made a loud rattling noise in his throat and rapped his knuckles on the door. “Ah, I see you two have, ah, made up.”

Cordelia lifted her head from its place on Angel’s chest and he tenderly combed his fingers through her hair smoothing it behind her ear. They were lost in each other’s eyes, a stormy sea of lingering emotions too tangled to clearly decipher except for one.

And that realization filled Wesley with gut-wrenching dread.

“Good heavens,” he muttered and then tittered at the words he’d chosen, the irony of it reminding him that this might be an appropriate time for prayer. For all of his bandying about with the crossbow earlier on, he’d never honestly suspected either one of them to possess anything more than a superficial attraction for each other.

The subtle supportive squeeze of Cordelia’s hand did not go unnoticed. Wesley was just waffling over the idea that something serious had happened between those two since he’d stepped out of the office. Angel headed back to his chair as Cordelia did hers.

A hint of ruthless determination sounded in Angel’s voice as he ordered Wes, “Have a seat.”

Wordlessly, he sank into the nearest chair already calculating the chances of Angelus making another appearance. His gaze shifted over to Cordelia who sat far too quietly compared to the norm, stunned, a little smile tugging at her lips.

“Might I suggest that whatever insanity happened whilst I was gone not recur for all our sakes?” Wesley knew better than to remind Angel about the curse especially as the vampire was looking rather hostile. Gulping, he tried to ease the tension with a joke, “And Angel—that’s not your color,” circling a finger around his lips.

Angel silently wiped the glossy smudges from his mouth and took a long look at the color against his fingertips. His eyes strayed back to Cordelia, a purely male smirk on his face despite the angst that was still palpable to everyone in the room. Cordy was grinning, too, and yet Wes found it difficult to bear watching silent messages passing between them.

If they were any other couple Wesley would be thrilled for two friends discovering hidden feelings for each other. No other pair had the threat of Angelus hanging over their heads. He could only hope that their mission and their friendship would win out against attraction. One misstep could be fatal.

“We’ve discovered how the mirror works,” Cordelia blurted when she couldn’t put up with Wesley’s wide-eyed stares any longer.

Getting back to business was the best strategy to distract him from delivering a lecture. The last thing she needed right now was a reminder that she had to put Angel’s kisses behind her because they could never have anything more.

Who needed Wesley’s old lecture anyway? Cordelia realized she had all of the facts. Having been face to face with Angelus was plenty of incentive to keep her hands to herself. Knowing the consequences didn’t make it hurt any less.

“It projects what you want to see,” Wesley commented before she could state her theory. “Deep-rooted thoughts, fantasies, small truths, little lies, an illusion brought to life through the power of a spell.”

Cordelia looked perturbed by his commandeering of her announcement glaring at him from the neighboring chair. “How’d you know that?” He’d been focusing on the spell to communicate with Alice Waterhouse, not the mirror.

“Simple observation,” Wes told her smugly. “However, I haven’t quite figured out which one of you—”

Snapping, “Nevermind,” Cordelia asked him what came next. They now knew where the mirror got its peep show material, but not any specifics on how that brand of magic connected with Alice.

“Actually, I was going to suggest a short break.” Patting his stomach, Wesley asked her if she wouldn’t mind arranging something whilst he continued researching.

Now that she thought about it, Cordelia realized she was hungry. “How about if I run over to the deli and grab some sandwiches?”

Angel was halfway out of his chair. “The sun set a while ago. I should go with you.” But Cordelia wouldn’t put up with him tagging along now any more than she would have before they kissed.

“I don’t need a babysitter.” After grabbing her purse from her own desk drawer, she took one last look into the office. “Besides, how is Mr. Worrywart going to have that little man-to-manpire chat he’s brewing up if you’re with me?”

Just how Cordelia managed to figure that out unnerved Wesley a bit. Disagreements with Angel over business matters were hardly the same as cautioning him about his personal relationships. Since Wes had joined Angel Investigations, his brooding boss never seemed in real danger of loosing Angelus upon them—excepting that one dire happenstance when that actress slipped him a drink laden with doximal.

Lecturing Angel against the dangers of falling in love with Cordy was not going to be pleasant. He’d been hoping for a few moments of quiet reflection before speaking to him about it. The odds of pinning Cordelia down for a similar chat were rather poor. And he quite liked his family jewels intact.

Given the odds of survival, Wesley would rather face Angel than Cordelia any day.
****

Lifting a hand to block her view of the mirror, Cordelia scurried across the lobby. No way was she going to get caught for another round of perv-o-vision. She slung her purse strap over her shoulder and dashed out the front door. The evening air, a little cooler in mid-October, felt fabulous after being cooped up all day doing research.

On nights like this couples went out on leisurely strolls, holding each others hands and stealing kisses under the glow of street lights.

God that was such a depressing thought.

Head down and lost in thought, Cordelia walked down the street toward Manny’s Deli almost on automatic pilot. Having admitted that she was attracted to Angel was one thing, but to know he felt the same way was both wonderful and earth shattering at the same time.

She loved Angel as a friend and her champion, in so many ways that it made her heart hurt. Being in love—was she?—wasn’t exactly hearts & flowers when a curse was involved.

Cordelia almost wished she’d taken Angel up on the offer to accompany her to the deli. She imagined doing nothing more than holding his hand, or snuggling on the couch, and maybe, just maybe, signing up for more of those kisses.

It didn’t seem possible to work with Angel every day and know that he was thinking about making love to her without jumping his bones.

It was official. Her life sucked big bumpy horny toads.

Arriving at the corner store that was half-delicatessen, half-butcher shop, Cordelia pushed open the door barely noticing the jingling bells that announced her arrival.
Like most of the store owners in the area, Manny knew her by name and benefited from being situated in close proximity to Angel’s territory near the hotel. She was the girl with the friendly smile who liked her deli sandwiches with extra cheese and always took a ‘Sanguine Special’ to go.

“What ya doin’ here, doll?” The beefy butcher had moved to L.A. from New Jersey because he wanted to act and preferred the West Coast to Broadway. He’d actually gotten bit parts in three local commercials.

Cordelia leaned up against the tall counter resting her chin in her hand. “Oh, the usual.” Maybe it was strange that the butcher who supplied them with toasted deli sandwiches and pints of fresh pig blood would be a source of inspiration to her, but she always thought of it as proof that anyone could make it in the business.

While Manny layered the contents of one deli club together, he chatted about his day and finally got around to asking, “Troubles, toots? You look like you lost your best friend.”

“No, I found him,” Cordelia answered with a wobbly smile.
****

Minutes passed by after Cordelia’s departure without a single word being spoken. It wasn’t a pleasant silence. Wesley started to squirm and then went still as he fell back on his training. If this was Angelus instead of Angel he would know precisely what to do. He wondered where friendly concern crossed the line with interference.

Still, he felt compelled to say something. Surely Angel would hate him for bringing it up, but honor demanded that he not let this go.

During the entire time, Angel’s steady gaze had been fixed forward in his direction, ready for confrontation, aggravation and anger bubbling just beneath the surface. “Just say it,” the order growled out when Wes babbled in effort to speak his name. “Once and get it over with.”

It was a free pass that wouldn’t come again. “Be careful.” Both a warning and a plea, the two words were sufficient to get the point across.

Angel scowled darkly as if imagining dastardly deeds that involved his throat. Slowly, the anger faded away to a look of lost hope. For a startling moment, he thought the vampire might actually shed a tear.

He didn’t, of course, swiveling his chair back to center himself at his desk, carefully paging through Meader’s Guide of Incantations and Enchantments.

Slumping back in his own chair, Wesley started to wonder if the loophole in the curse was actually a loophole at all. Being denied true happiness was just as torturous as the deep remorse Angel felt for his past. He couldn’t walk away from Cordelia like he did Buffy.

There were ties between them wrought by the Powers that Be and nothing as mundane or extraordinary as love would break them.

Wesley watched him for a few seconds longer contemplating the nature of the gypsy curse. He asked himself if it was possible to remove the curse, yet keep Angel’s soul intact. Inklings of ideas and possible avenues of research started to swarm around in his head, but he shook it off. That would have to wait for later.

Right now they had a mission.
****

“Take a look at this,” Angel passed the book into Wesley’s outstretched hand. There was no need to point out which particular illustration he wanted examined. “Maybe this can shed some light on the situation.”

Before murmuring affirmatively, Wesley carefully studied the sketch’s design and thoroughly read the short description. “The emerald necklace.”

“Alice’s necklace is in that book?” asked Cordelia walking into the office carrying a paper sack containing the sandwiches and blood. “So I’m guessing that it’s not some cheap knock-off.”

Wesley paraphrased the information in the text as he translated it from the original Latin. “Apparently, the emeralds are of ancient Roman origin once possessed by an emperor. He gave them to his mistress when she gave him a son.”

“Huh, men,” Cordelia rolled her eyes as she started to unpack their dinner. “Typical.”

She put Wes’ sandwich down on the corner of the desk. He paused long enough to glance at the white paper wrapping “Rye or pumpernickel?” smiling delightedly when she gave him the answer he’d hoped for. “Good job.”

Shrugging, she admitted, “I’m a woman who likes to take care of her guys—even if some of them are chauvinistic little oinkers.” Before Wes could do more than look affronted, “That reminds me: one Sanguine Special,” she lifted the pint out of its separate plastic covering. “It might’ve gotten a little cold on the way over. Want me to heat it up?”

“It’ll be fine, thanks,” Angel took it from her carefully ensuring that their fingers did not touch. Right now even that slight sensation would be more than he could take.

“Angel knows how to say thank you,” Cordelia pointed out. Taking her own sandwich out of the bag, she grabbed a napkin and sat down.

Wesley reached for his sandwich. “Thank you kindly for fetching it.” He yelped as she slapped his fingers faster than a striking cobra. “Ouch! I said thank you.”

“Finish the story first.”

“It’s rather vague,” Wesley explained after deciding that the quickest way to get to his sandwich would be to continue. “Although a Roman slave, she was a noblewoman in her native land. During the chaos after the emperor’s untimely death in battle she escaped, returning to her homeland where she was reunited with her family and her future husband.”

Thinking that it sounded like the plot of a cheesy romance novel, Cordelia swallowed down her first bite to ask about the baby. “Did she escape with her son?”

Wesley scanned the text again. “No mention of him. The woman’s family belongs to a matriarchal society. A bastard son, even one of an imperial ancestry, would be of little consequence to history.”

“Yeah, who cares,” Cordelia agreed. Babies were something of an adorable mystery that she really didn’t want to think about. “Get on with the part about the emeralds.”

“Over the course of time they were passed from person to person along the maternal bloodline. The gemstones were discovered to contain various protective properties further enhanced by mystical energies to render the wearer nearly invulnerable.”

Cordelia had to point out, “That didn’t help Alice.”

“No.”

“Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” Angel raised a brow and waited to see if either of them would make the same connection he did.

Nearly dropping her sandwich, Cordelia gasped, “The ring you destroyed.” Snapping her fingers as she tried to recall the name, “Alpaca, Ampata—no, that was that Incan mummy girl. Am-something.”

“Amara?” Wes enunciated the word carefully forgetting about any interest in food.

“Yes! That’s it.” Cordelia relaxed again. Remembering that Wesley had already left Sunnydale by then and hadn’t yet joined them, “Oh, I guess Angel forgot to tell you about Spike’s little visit.”

Angel didn’t exactly want to reminisce over that. “It’s not important.”

“I tend to disagree,” Wesley was of another opinion on the matter. “Vampires down through the centuries searched everywhere for the Gem of Amara because its power could protect them from their natural vulnerabilities. Please tell me that you haven’t destroyed it.”

“I had to.” Since Wesley wasn’t going to let the topic drop, Angel needed him to understand why he did it.

“As long as I was in possession of the ring, Spike and any other power-mad lunatic would be after it. I couldn’t take the chance that somebody else would go through Cordelia or Doyle to get to me.”

Angel surprising capacity for heroism went up another notch in Wesley’s estimation. There were not many out there who would give up something so powerful. He had to say it, though he suspected Angel might already know. “It might have protected your soul.”

A little gasp sounded from Cordelia.

The cool detachment on Angel’s face gave away none of his inner turmoil, but his two friends knew him far better than that. “That changed nothing, Wes. It made the temptation to keep it harder because of Bu—because of what I thought I wanted at the time.”

“You can say Buffy’s name, dumbass,” she snorted. “I know who she is. Just keep in mind that every time you say it gives me the okay to talk about Xander.”

Sending him a high-wattage smile, Cordelia enjoyed the scowl that flashed across his face at the name of her ex-boyfriend. They stared at each other for a few seconds until Wesley cleared his throat to remind them they were onto something important.

If there was a remote possibility that the Gem of Amara originated from the same emeralds in Alice’s necklace, it needed to be explored.

Cordelia heard Wes’ voice, but was too caught up in thinking about Angel being safe from harm, and from the effects of the curse. “You should’ve seen Angel standing on the beach after taking out the asswipe who tortured him. He looked so—”

“Heroic?”

“Pale.”

The thought of it glimmered with temptation, but Angel knew that it didn’t matter. He would choose the same thing again for the same reasons. To protect the people he cared about the most and to prevent anyone dangerous from using it for evil.

“This whole conversation is pointless. Whatever happened to Alice Waterhouse it is clear that she wasn’t invulnerable despite wearing the necklace.”

Taking the book, Cordelia looked at the illustration. “It looks exactly like the one we saw around her neck. But Angel’s right. If that necklace is magic it didn’t save her.”

“Actually, I think it a distinct probability that it did,” Wesley rose from his chair and walked to the door. “There are some supplies I need. If I’m right about this, Alice is not only alive, but she can save herself.”

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Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete

The Mirror Crack’d. 4   1 comment

****

“Stay here, woman” Cordelia mimicked Angel issuing orders twisting her expression into a stern mask and curling her fingers up into fangs. “My obsession with blondes forces me to do stupid things.”

She rolled her eyes.

Pfft.

If Angel thought he was going to get any information out of Kate Lockley, he had another thing coming. She blamed him for her father’s death. Hated him for what he was, hated herself more for helping him. Angel was the last person Kate would want to see.

Cordelia wasn’t even sure Kate knew that they had moved into the Hyperion. They’d had no contact with her in several weeks. The fact that Angel was probably right about tracking down Richard Waterhouse using Police Department resources was the only thing that helped stifle the rampant irritation she felt at the idea of him seeing Kate again.

The cop was trouble. And Cordelia didn’t want her anywhere near Angel.
****

Los Angeles contained a labyrinth of tunnels connecting almost every major building. The route to the downtown precinct of the LAPD was one Angel had traveled before. It smelled foul and rank just as a sewer should, hardly pleasant, but it was better than risking the sun.

He tried to use the time to think of ways to convince Kate to get him the information he wanted. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get Cordy out of his head. Angel arrived in the lowest section of the LAPD parking garage twenty minutes later, no closer to concocting a plan.

It wasn’t difficult to make his way into the depths of the station where the detectives had their desks. He’d done it before. Even after the incident with the talking stick. No one bothered to stop him to ask questions. There were new faces amongst the few he recognized.

It wasn’t until Angel reached Kate’s desk and found a brass name plate with “Det. Jack Couser” emblazoned on it that he realized she wasn’t around. The mustached man sitting behind the desk was someone he’d seen before, but never met.

“You here looking for Detective Lockley?”

Angel gave a curt nod and watched his face turn grim.

“Thought so. I’ve seen you before.” Angel had seen him, too, but never spoken to the man. “I think she mentioned you’re a P.I.?” The detective seemed to know a lot.

“Yes.” Brevity had its virtues. But he wanted answers, too. Angel got the feeling that Couser was reluctant to talk about her. “Is Detective Lockley okay?”

“That’s the kicker, isn’t it?” He rubbed his fingers along the length of his mustache looking disturbed by the query. “Since you’ve worked with Kate before, I’m gonna trust you.”

Calling Kate by her first name suggested Couser considered her a friend. “Just tell me where to find her.”

“Kate won’t be much help to you. She’s taking a little sabbatical. Been assigned to another precinct, but hasn’t reported for duty.”

The news was troubling. Since her father’s death, and her discovery that the LAPD didn’t know the half of what went on in their own city, Kate hadn’t been herself. It was a bad sign. Angel might’ve considered going after her, checking in to see if she was alright, but Kate Lockley was too hard-nosed and stubborn to accept any shred of concern he might offer.

Best to leave her alone, give her time to lick her wounds and heal. Maybe someday she would recognize the fact that he wasn’t the sum of all evil.

Angel decided to head back to the hotel. He was about to leave when Jack Couser held out a hand motioning for him to stop. “Hold up, buddy. You came here for something. Was it just to see Kate or were you looking for information?”

Seeing that he might not have wasted his time, Angel described the nature of his request.
****

His arms laden with a box of books, Wesley pushed open the door and entered the Hyperion lobby. Having decided to cross-reference with some of Angel’s resources, he’d brought several key compendiums and spell books.

A fresh set of sharpened pencils and some new legal pads were also packed in the box.

“Cordelia?” Stopping short, he saw her standing in the center of the lobby gaze transfixed on the mirror. A hesitant glance in that direction showed her lying on a bed of cash frolicking whilst covered only in a sea of $100 bills. “Oh my!” his jaw dropped open.

Taking care not to look again, Wes shouted her name snapping Cordelia out of the trance. “What are you doing back?” she asked as if he’d been gone only minutes instead of an hour.

“How long have you been standing there?”

Cordelia glanced around, eyes widening, seeming to realize that she was standing in the center of the lobby directly in the mirror’s path. “Omigod!” She grabbed Wesley by the elbow and tugged him back toward Angel’s office nearly causing him to lose his grip on the cardboard container.

She let go when he slowed her progress darting inside and waving her hands for him to hurry. Wes calmly set the books down on the front counter before following. “I don’t suppose you care to explain that little romp,” he chuckled lightly. “That was quite a show.”

“Very funny,” Cordelia plopped down in a chair looking anything but amused. “It’s not my fault if that mirror turns everything into some lewd display.”

“Our tug-of-war game wasn’t lewd,” Wes popped the bubble on that theory. “You did make an adorable five-year-old.”

Cordelia conceded that part wasn’t quite as depraved as everything else they’d seen so far. “That mirror is evil.”

When he asked why she was in the lobby instead of staying in the office as planned, Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I had to pee,” she admitted. “I think it caught me on the way back from the bathroom.”

She would’ve had to cross part of the lobby to get back to the office, Wes realized. “And where did the money come in?”

A shrug followed as Cordelia’s normally straight-forward responses became a series of vague grunts and gestures. Instead of making direct eye contact, she evasively let her gaze wandered. Finally, Wesley stomped his foot down and demanded answers. “Pay attention. Please try to be more succinct. This could be important.”

After a moment, Cordelia let out a sigh, slumping in her chair and resting her cheek on her hand. “I dunno,” she shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe I was thinking about the fact that this is like a case we aren’t gonna get paid for.”

Wes started connecting the dots. It was Cordelia’s self-appointed job to worry about the money that was collected for their cases. Not that they’d seen much thus far. So it was not much of a stretch to believe that she had been concerned about it.

“I also might’ve been thinking about the fact that we’re not exactly rolling in money,” she pointed out unnecessarily. Wes had made that leap himself. “And that’s when Robert Redford came in with his Indecent Proposal.”

“The actor?” His tone dripped with disgust. Wes leaned back toward the office door to glance into the lobby area. They were the only ones there. “What did he say to you? Good heavens, Angel will have his head.”

Cordelia laughed like mad. “Sheesh! And I thought Angel was bad about that kind of stuff.”

Clearly confused, Wesley asked for clarification, blushing furiously when he learned that Cordelia was merely referencing one of the actor’s films. “I am not exactly a film buff.”

“Movie buff,” she corrected him, still chuckling lightly.

“Back to Robert Redford,” he waved his hand to prompt her to continue. “You were saying…”

The laughter died quickly as Cordelia got back on track. “Oh, yeah, right. Indecent Proposal. I was thinking about us not rolling in money and that led to me thinking about the scene where Robert Redford tells Demi Moore that he’ll give her a million dollars to sleep with him.”

Wes was starting to get the picture as to why Cordelia thought the mirror produced lewd effects. “You imagined yourself taking him up on it.”

“Eew! No, he’s not my type.”

“But you were rolling in cash,” Wes had seen that much. He was just curious to know if there had been anything else to what she’d seen. “Did someone issue you a similar proposal?”

Cordelia shrugged. “I can’t remember,” she lied badly. “One minute I was thinking about money and the next thing I knew the mirror was doing its thing.”

Trying to overlook the potentially embarrassing details, Wesley focused on the fact that the mirror had produced images of something Cordelia had been thinking. “Is it possible that the earlier aberrations were induced by something you or Angel—”

“No!” Cordelia cut him off so fast he leaned away from it. “Shouldn’t you be looking through those books of yours? I’ve got a few more police reports to research.”

There was only one way to take that response: as positive proof that Cordelia might have thought something that led to one or all of the previous manifestations. Though it was quite disturbing to think about considering what he’d seen. Further questions would get him nowhere. For now, he decided to begin sorting his books and to start organizing a plan of attack where the research was concerned.

“Find anything?” he asked before heading out in to the outer office.

Cordelia had already scooted forward in her chair and was browsing through an old document. “Yes, but we should wait for Angel to get back. I’ll finish these first.”

They didn’t have to wait long. Angel turned up before either of them expected. He informed them that Richard Waterhouse had died in 1983.

Not long after revealing the news they heard crying coming from the direction of the lobby.

Bent over on the lobby floor, a vaporous figure swirled in a foggy green mist, cries echoing softly and tears dripping at a hundred times the norm. The lights were low barely illuminating the area despite that all of the other hotel lights were set to full brightness.

In the mirror, the seemingly solid form of Alice Waterhouse held out her arms in supplication to whisper her same mournful words.

I am lost. Help me.

White light beamed from the mirror and the mist swirled toward it as if a vortex pulled it in. When the last echo of her crying filled their ears the lobby chandelier flickered back on.

The three of them high-tailed it back into Angel’s office.
****

Angel had seen a lot in his time, but nothing quite like this. He took a seat at his desk, leaning back and propping his feet up. Upon seeing the book he was reading earlier, he allowed himself a wry smile. It seemed like ages instead of only a few hours that he’d been relaxing with that book.

If Cordelia hadn’t barged into his office wanting to redecorate the hotel, they might never have discovered the mirror. Naturally, she blamed him for taking her up there even though he’d wanted her to choose a room on the second floor. Hell, truthfully, he never wanted her to pick a room of her own.

The images produced by the mirror were plain proof that having a room far away from his was probably a good idea. He dared to glance over to see what she was doing. She’d abandoned the police files in favor of the phone book.

Flicking through it page by page, she walked over and plonked it down on top of his once-tidy desk now covered with an array of scattered swatches, old newspaper clippings and Xeroxed police cases. “There are only 16 entries for the Waterhouse name in the Los Angeles area. Assuming the family doesn’t have an unlisted number, maybe we could track them down by making a few calls.”

“Good idea.”

“Better than asking Detective Blondie,” she snorted softly. “I’ll handle the phone calls and try to convince folks we’ve found their long lost cousin—or aunt. Maybe Richard had kids.”

At this point, Angel was open to anything.

Before getting on with the phone calls, Cordelia showed them the articles and police reports she’d found. “There are five other reports of spooky stuff in the Helios Suite. One even mentions the mirror. I found one newspaper clipping from the 1960s that listed haunted places in the Los Angeles area.”

“Long list?”

“You betcha,” Cordelia confirmed. “The Helios Suite at the Hyperion was on that list. The article mentioned that it hadn’t been used since the mid fifties and that the hotel never bothered to refurbish it when they renovated the rest of the hotel.”

Wesley, who had been deep in thought and only half-listening to their conversation, admitted that he might have been wrong. “Originally, I believed that we were not dealing with a ghost, phantom or any other kind of supernatural phenomenon. After this latest experience, I may have to reassess the situation.”

“Hah! Told you,” Cordelia felt a spark of triumph. Then she realized what that meant. Sobering, she quietly asked, “So you think Alice is dead?”

Answering the only way he could, Wes shook his head. “I cannot say with any degree of certainty. There are certain tests. Perhaps I can find a spell to communicate with her. She might be able to tell us what happened.”

Cordelia suggested, “Ask her if the mirror has an off switch. I’ve had enough of those ridiculous look-alikes of mine behaving like raving nymphomaniacs.”

The fact that Cordelia seemed to get more and more upset about this made Angel irrationally angry about it. He knew he shouldn’t feel that way because he didn’t like it any more than she did—his secret desire for her visible for everyone to see. But it wasn’t exactly flattering that she was so disgusted about it.

Demanding, “Why is it so ridiculous?” Angel suddenly didn’t care if Cordy found out that he had been the direct cause of the manifestations, and that the mirror picked up on his sub-conscious thoughts.

Wes raised a brow, sitting on the edge of his seat frozen to the spot as he awaited Cordelia’s response. Considering what information he had already garnered from her description of her last individual encounter with whomever replaced Robert Redford, he was beginning to form a rudimentary idea of some of the mirror’s functions.

It might be helpful to hear what Cordelia had to say about this—not to mention bloody fascinating.

“Hello!” Cordelia raised her hands up in the air as if waving for attention and nearly shouting, “You cursed vampire, me non-nympho seer,” as if that made any sense at all in the scheme of things.

A crash sounded as Angel’s chair hit the back wall. He was on his feet and leaning toward her across the desk. He was damn tired of being filed away under Unfeeling Eunuch in the Cordelia Chase classification system. “Just because I have a curse doesn’t mean I’m incapable of—”

Cordelia reached across the space between them to clamp a hand over his mouth. “I really, really don’t want to know if things are still fully functional. Really, I don’t. It’s not like you can do anything about it anyway.”

He dragged her hand away, but kept a firm grip on her wrist tugging just enough to stretch her closer across the desktop, forcing her to stand on her tiptoes. “I’m not incapable of feeling,” Angel finished what he’d intended to say and watched the resulting tint of red creep up her throat.

“I-I know that,” Cordelia shivered as Angel moved in closer brushing his cheek up against hers to whisper in her ear.

“Don’t think I can’t tell that you want me.”

She jerked back and yanked at his hold on her. “That’s a big fat lie.” Cordelia wanted to crawl into the nearest hole. Geez, how embarrassing and totally unfair considering Angel had preternatural senses. She rubbed at her wrist glaring hostilely as he took his seat again.

Inwardly panicking, Cordelia’s mental litany of OhGodOhGodOhGod broke off into scattered thoughts of self-blame and mortification. He knew. Damn vampire senses. He blamed her for those manifestations.

Somehow he had figured out that she was the cause. That somewhere in the depths of her brain she thought he was really hot and wanted them to have wild monkey sex.

There was a dark smirk on Angel’s face, a smug, satisfied look that Cordelia wanted to wipe off. He looked like he’d just rid himself of a heavy burden and was too caught up in the idea to realize that it was pissing her off.

Wesley tucked a finger into his suddenly too-tight collar. It was definitely getting hot and hard to breathe in here.

He had no idea what Angel had whispered to Cordelia, but it was clear that it upset her. And he wasn’t so out of touch that he couldn’t recognize rampant sexual tension when he saw it. Angel and Cordy were practically smoldering with it. He cleared his throat to get their attention.

“Perhaps it would be best to get on with the research as quickly as possible. Cordy, I suggest that you ring the Waterhouse listings from your desk,” he nodded toward the outer office.

“No way,” Cordelia stubbornly sat down in the seat she had vacated and yanked the phone book onto her lap. “I’m not going out there again. I’ll use Angel’s phone.”

That wasn’t helpful in trying to separate them before someone got hurt and Wesley wasn’t counting Cordelia out in that respect.

“Then perhaps, Angel, you could give me a hand by going through this book,” he walked over to pick out a particular leather-bound volume: Meader’s Guide to Incantations and Enchantments. “There is an entire section dedicated to the use of mirrors.”

Angel took the book from Wesley’s hand, but turned around to walk back into his office. “Where are you going?”

“It’s my office, my desk and my chair,” Angel growled unreasonably. “If Cordelia is uncomfortable about being around me, then she can find another place to make her calls.”

Stubbornly, Cordelia didn’t budge.

“Fine,” Wesley gave in deciding that it would be simpler just to get on with the work. He needed to figure out a way to contact Alice Waterhouse either in the spirit world or upon whatever dimensional plane she existed.

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Posted July 15, 2015 by califi in Complete