Archive for June 2017

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Title: Want A Picture?
Author: Califi
Posted: 28 Dec 05
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Rating: R for language
Category: Angstish fluff (if that’s possible, lol)
Content: C/A tentative friendship
Summary: “It might last longer”…. A silly little ficlet that popped into my head last night, so I quickly wrote it today. All typos (which I hope I’ve caught) and sappy/crappy stuff are mine.
Spoilers: S2 Post-Epiphany.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: This is a little break from finalising Breathe Again (which should be posted soon, once tidied and betared). I needed to doodle with something light and fluffy for an hour. Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks/Dedication:
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He was doing it again.

The universal warning system built into every human on the planet was blaring away, demanding she take notice.

Cordy took notice, hooboy, did she!

Ever since they’d come back to the Hyperion- albeit with different Bossman/Hired Help dynamics, Angel, the-now Office Boy had seemed to have found a new hobby: boring a hole into the back of her skull.

At first, it hadn’t been so bad- until she told him in no uncertain terms that they were no longer friends, and then it escalated after his failed attempt at bribery- though she grudgingly admitted to herself that the vampire had darned good taste in women’s clothes. But still it had stung that he thought she was still the shallow spoilt girl of days gone by.

Pshaw, Cordy had soon put him in his place…. shrugging off the ache she’d felt at the stricken expression on his face as he’d turned away.

Damn prickly alarm system! Batteries should have been required. That way she could have merely let them drain of power until they were as dead as a doornail. And most of all stop bugging the hell out of her.

Why she didn’t go over and demand in no uncertain terms that he “Stop with the creepy staring already!” Cordy wasn’t sure -but was getting close to doing that. But she wouldn’t- because then Angel would know she was not only aware, but that he was getting to her.

Rubbing her hand over the back of her head in irritation, Cordy leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. Deep breath in….long breath out…. Her tense shoulders began to relax. In…Out…. The tight line of her mouth softened, eyes less scrunched… PRICKLE.

“Dammit!” she cursed under her breath and shot upright in her seat. There had to be a way to deal with him without making a major drama out of it. Cordy could still clearly see that wounded expression and it bugged her that it bugged her.

Wes was out meeting a client and Gunn spending the day with his crew, which had left herself and Angel alone in the hotel for the past three hours. With no sign of a bone-crunching vision, her mind was made up.

Reaching for her purse, she rose quickly to her feet, swivelling gracefully as she did so. On her way to the main door her gaze turned to the left and landed smartly on the figure half hidden by a floor plant and shadows cast by the dim lights of the lobby.

“I’m off.” She declared in a deliberately bored tone, ignoring Angel’s startled expression. “Tell Wes If I have a vision I’ll call.” Cordy added, forestalling his attempt to respond.

As the door swung shut behind her, Cordy wracked her brains for a way to nip Angel’s creepy new hobby in the bud before he ended up on more than the sharp end of her tongue.

***

Cordy was running late.

Angel shifted in his new chair, cursing under his breath when he knocked his knee against the edge of the too-small desk his estranged seer had pointed out as his on their the first day back.

He knew she’d been waiting for him to complain, especially after the first time he’d cracked his knee, just like he had now, but not one word left his lips.

His eyes remained on the main door as he thought back.

“We’re not friends.” That still caused Angel to want to cry like a baby. A big strong vampire such as himself nearly brought to tears by a slip of a woman- a human woman at that. Such a weakness would have normally set his demon off, but not that time. And it had almost got her killed.

His fall to the ‘beige’, as Cordy called it, was more of a human failing rather than a upsurge of his demon that was always just beneath his skin. And some of his actions towards his seer went against those instincts. As Angelus he was possessive of anything and everyone he regarded as his sole property, but the soul had broke that rule and not only let her go, but also let her roam free and away from his protection.

That usually loud and demanding part of him had kept quiet when Cordy had rejected his olive branch, and he wasn’t that surprised. He’d deserved it and more. The clothes bought to attempt to breach her frozen walls were still piled high in the back of his closet. Angel knew he could have taken them back- got a refund, but he’d kept them as a reminder of his blind stupidity.

“She’s late,” he muttered anxiously.

“Pardon me?” Angel jumped at the voice and turned his head to see Wes pausing in his stride across the lobby.

He hadn’t realised he’d spoken out loud. “Um, nothing,” Wes looked at him strangely for a moment before nodding and continuing on to his office. Angel waited until the door had closed behind him before turning his eyes back to the main door.

Maybe the way he stared at Cordy constantly was getting to her? Maybe that’s why she still hadn’t come into work? He knew he should stop. He also knew that he couldn’t stop if his unlife depended on it.

It was all he had left right now.

The constant visual of the back of Cordelia Chase’s head.

At his new desk Angel was rewarded by the sight her delicate profile, but she kept catching him staring unblinkingly, and the first time she shivered and glared, he limited himself to that view and took to loitering in dark corners, which only allowed him to stare to his content at the back of her head.

The fact that Cordy unerringly located Angel the instant she turned to look no matter where he was hiding indicated clearly that she was aware of his ‘creepy new hobby’ (he’d heard her mutter that once or twice), but it didn’t deter him. It was better than nothing, he miserably told himself, even as he hoped he’d either build up the courage to confront her again or simply get over it.

Angel sighed wearily then sat up a little straighter when the woman plaguing his thoughts came strolling in through the door.

Soft sunlight surrounded her like a halo for a moment before the released door thunked shut behind her. Angel swallowed and shifted in his hard, uncomfortable chair and waited for her to saunter past with her head held high directly to her own desk. But she didn’t.

“Hi.” He blinked. With her hands behind her back and head tilted to the side she stood directly in front of him, only his too-small desk between them.

“Uh.” Clearing his throat, Angel tried again. “Hi.” Cordy just stood there; seemingly sizing him up and then took a deep breath.

“This can’t go on, you know. – The staring,” she elucidated when he did exactly what she’d decided to confront him about- stared at her. But this time his unreadable expression melted away to reveal embarrassment.
“Though now it’s different ‘cos, hello? You can’t not look at me while I’m yammering on at you, but you know what I mean.” She added pointedly.

“I’m, uh…” swallowing again nodding, kicking himself for sounding like a retard, he just closed his mouth.

“Anyway, “ Cordy scrunched her brow and took another deep breath. “I don’t like it.” She blurted out. “Your staring is messing about with my built in warning system and I can’t have that, because say if it gets so messed up that it stops working- or worse, I start ignoring it, hmm?” Her brow arched at the befuddled expression that overtook the embarrassment in his deep brown eyes.

“Don’t you get it?” Angel shook his head dumbly and watched as she rolled her eyes and let out an annoyed breath.

“If I start ignoring my warning system, then one day it could get me killed. And I don’t want that, thanks very much! So I thought of a way to solve both our problems.” An arm came from behind her back and she slapped something on the desk, but Angel was still distracted by the word ‘killed’.

Cordy stepped back and propped her hands on her hips. “I’m still mad at you, and still don’t really wanna share air chatting niceties, but if you leave me alone to get over it, then…maybe I might.” She paused as his eyes suddenly became focused and intent on her face.

“So…” Cordy chewed her lip and seemed to shake herself.” I found a way that you can keep up with your creepy staring hobby and I can work in peace without getting yucky prickles on my neck every five seconds. Okay?” With that, she nodded to herself and turned away to walk towards her desk, her step a little lighter.

Angel watched her go with a bemused look on his face, waiting until she’d sat down before finally glancing down at his desk.

There on the surface lay a thin strip of pictures- the kind that came out of a photo booth. A slight smile tilted his lips as he looked at each image.

Left profile. Right profile. Back of head…. And best of all, the full face of a smiling Cordelia Chase

FIN

Califi

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Sleeping with Tigers 8   1 comment

Chapter 8

The demon had been a little friskier than the norm, and by the time Angel killed and disposed of it, it was pretty late and he had a nasty wound on his side that would be a bitch for at least a day, and his shirt was totally ruined- not to mention the blood covering his leather jacket!

He wasn’t too surprised to find the lounge deserted when he entered the apartment. As he shrugged his jacket off carefully and walked towards the outer bathroom door, Angel frowned when he distinctly picked up the sound of two heartbeats. That they were both coming from behind the closed door of Cordelia’s bedroom gave him pause.

With a low growl, he threw his jacket into the bath and opened the connecting door to be greeted by tranquil yet concerned blue eyes of the ex-Watcher. “Angel.”

Wes closed the book in his hands after saving his place but didn’t rise from the bedside chair. The vampire’s eyes darted to the bed to find Cordelia curled up on his side of the mattress, the scent of salt in the air. “What’s up?” going immediately over to loom over her still figure and find traces of tears streaking her sleeping face.

“Cordelia went off to bed shortly after you left, and woke screaming twenty minutes later,” Wes explained quietly. “It took quite a while to settle her down, and I decided to stay and watch over her.” Wes left out the part where she called repeatedly for the vampire whilst his attempts to calm her down took a little too long; at least half an hour before she fell into a fitful sleep.

He eyed the hovering vampire curiously. “You don’t seem that surprised, Angel.” He finally spoke again, the question in his voice apparent. Angel slowly straightened up, not taking his dark eyes from the girl as he replied.

“Cordelia has been suffering nightmares since that incident with Vocah.” Wes raised a brow as slowly things began to make a little more sense; the vampire’s tiredness of late and the almost imperceptible edge to the brunette.

Maybe he’d read Angel wrong? Possibly confusing feelings of love with pure concern. “I’ll take it from here, Wes; it’s late and I’m sure you’d like to go home and rest yourself. “Wes narrowed his eyes and rethought that. The air of possessiveness was not lost on him.

Nor was the almost tangible feeling that he wasn’t entirely welcome in Cordelia’s bedroom. Pursing his lips, Wes took in the vampire’s appearance more carefully before commenting, “Not only are you practically covered in your own blood and most likely the demon’s, you are obviously in no fit state to watch over Cordelia tonight.” Before Angel could do more than open his mouth, Wes continued on.

“I suggest you clean yourself up and recuperate on the couch. Don’t worry, I’ll keep watch.” He glanced at his closed book. “No doubt I would be up all night reading this very interesting thesis of the Glockinal and it’s natural habitats anyway, so it really doesn’t matter if I read it at home or here.”

Angel was unable to find a way to refuse without it coming out either like he was pushing out the other member of their team/family, or being the savagely possessive vampire/man he was when it came to Cordelia. With one last look at her sleeping face, he reluctantly acquiesced and silently returned to the bathroom, closing the door quietly behind him.

Fifteen minutes later clean, and his wound slowly closing, Angel lay on the couch and attempted to get comfortable, but for a long time his attention rested on the slow, steady sound of the female heart in the other room. It was going to be a long night.

***

Cordelia’s eyes shot open even as she stifled a cry. Her brow scrunched up in confusion, wondering why something felt wrong in the scenario. It took her a few minutes to realize what – or who was missing.

Cool strong arms and an equally cool, protecting body that strangely enough warmed her and kept her safe at times like this. Her drowsy eyes darted anxiously around the dark room, finally resting on the slumped figure in the chair pulled up beside the bed.

Wes was dead to the world; a book resting in his lap and his hands clasped over it loosely. Cordelia attempted to settle, but every time she closed her eyes, the demon that at present was haunting her dreams popped right back into her inner vision.

Where was Angel? She wondered fretfully, and then it slowly dawned on her the fact that the last time she’d seen him, he was on his way out to fight the horrific- and big demon in her last vision. She sat up abruptly, her heart in her mouth. Had he come home? Was he hurt?

“Oh god” she whispered. What if he’d… without waiting to end that thought, Cordelia pushed back the covers and tiptoes to the closed door, glancing nervously at the sleeping lump in the chair before easing it open. Just as quietly, she let herself out and closed it carefully.

Turning round her worried eyes immediately went to the couch, her breath coming out in relieved gasps to find Angel’s big body curled uncomfortably and lying on his side.

Angel’s eyes flickered open the instant he heard the sound, his perfect night vision picking up her figure by her door. Keeping still, he watched her silently to see what she wanted. By the rapid thump of her heart, he gathered that she’d had another nightmare, but what he couldn’t understand was why she’d left her bed and entered the lounge.

After the slight tension between them yesterday, the vampire didn’t want to make his awakened state known until he was sure why she was here. Then his whole body tensed as the brunette walked over to him, and after a second’s hesitation, climbed onto the couch and moulded herself along his body.

As soon as they connected, he felt the fine tremor of fear that affected her whole body, and without pause, he raised his arms and pulled her snuggly into him. The deep ache in his chest blossomed when he realized she’d sought him and him alone for comfort rather than turn to the man much nearer to her. Tucking her dark head under his chin, he half smiled in contentment as she nuzzled for a comfortable position and quickly settled down into sleep.

***

“Uhh!” Wes was jolted awake by the thump of his book hitting the floor, and for a moment was a little disoriented. As he looked blearily around the shaded room, recollection returned and his eyes immediately rested on the bed, finding the covers pushed back and the occupant missing.

Dear Lord, had he overslept? Glancing hurriedly at the bedside clock, Wes was partly relieved and rather concerned to find it not quite past six in the morning. Rising stiffly from the chair, he stretched his cramped muscles and shook his head to clear the fogginess in his brain before making for the door.

For long moments after he closed the door behind him, Wes stood in that spot and just stared at the sight before him.

Angel lay half on his back dead to the world, an equally unconscious brunette sprawled partway across his muscular form. Her head tucked into his throat and a leg thrown across the vampire’s hips .One arm was wrapped across his chest, her hand disappearing under his arm, which was draped across her with his large hand resting on her buttocks. His other arm hung over the side of the couch whilst her other hand rested, gently curled against his shoulder.

The whole scenario was extremely intimate, and Wes actually found himself feeling like he was intruding on a private moment. The ease in which they held each other hinted at a connection he could no longer ignore as merely anxious suspicion, and it suddenly occurred to him that after all, did he really have any right to interfere in their lives in such a way?

No one really had much choice in who their hearts decided to become attached to, and no amount of warnings and interference from him would change that; more of a chance to ruin two friendships he’d become unexpectedly dependent on.

And that was yet another thing. These two people, the vampire with a bloody past and now with a compassionate soul and the young brunette with a tongue as sharp as the finest blade, but a heart the size of Great Britain had accepted him, faults and all- and didn’t he owe them that same loyalty- to stand by them whatever their personal choices?

With a deep sigh, Wes tiptoed to the door, retrieving his coat on the way, and with a final glance, let himself out with a quiet goodbye to Dennis.

A discarded blanket was lifted from the floor and gently draped over the sleeping couple by the resident ghostly flat mate and silence once again settled in the apartment.

***

Cordelia half woke shifting a little uncomfortably as something poked her hard in her hip. For a few seconds she wiggled trying to find a more comfortable spot- then froze.

Oh crap. the two familiar words echoes through her head as she finally clicked onto what exactly the ‘hard’ obstruction was, and her cheeks flushed a bright red.

Should she move, get up? Cordelia debated her options even as she still wiggled around, and when Angel’s morning erection finally settled against her belly, Cordelia shrugged her shoulders and dropped her head back down and snuggled under his chin. So what if Angel after all was prone to such normal bodily reactions? It didn’t really mean it was caused by her body against his … even though a big part of her wanted that to be the case. With that shocking thought echoing in her head, she closed her eyes tightly and eventually let tiredness take her back to the land of clouds and sweet dreams.

Angel waited with baited breath when she’d first woken up, feeling her stiffen almost as much as his erection had. He’d waited silently to see what she would do and was more than surprised when, after a few seconds, merely wriggled around until her belly pressed into his erection and then settled back down to sleep.

Once her breath and heart had evened out, he finally let the unneeded breath go. Figuring that if he got up now she’d still be aware enough to realize he’d been awake, closing his eyes, he waited for another half an hour to go by before finally easing himself out from under her and tucking the blanket back over her sleeping form. For several minutes, he knelt next to the couch and watched her somberly.

Okay, Angel knew he could be as dense as the thickest planks of wood at times, and his bouts of Denial-a river in Egypt, but he could no longer ignore his feelings for his seer, his friend and his family. Yes, he loved her for all those things, but it was time to admit that he also loved her as a man would love a woman.

But who was he to ask for a return of that love? What had he really to offer her? The vampire sighed heavily. As once before, love with human women never worked out. Unable to take them into the light and give them a normal life … His lips quirked in wry humor at that, because at the end of the day, did Buffy have a normal life?

In some ways, Cordelia was in the same boat as the Slayer where normality came into it. Her visions would always keep her fully from normality. But the difference between Buffy and his seer was that the latter young woman accepted her calling after the initial shock and fear.

Being compared and found similar to the Slayer would not have been taken well by the sleeping brunette, and was something he would never, ever repeat out loud.

No, it wasn’t just about that; it was the fact that he was a blood-drinking vampire who would always have to live in the shadows… but again, Cordelia had slowly dragged him out of those shadows and made him feel worthy around others. She’d brought the sun to him. She watched him drink blood, had even prepared it and served it to him, and on occasions had fed it to him when he’d been too injured to feed himself.

Cordelia Chase was a unique person in so many ways, and that was one of the reasons he’d found it so easy to fall under her spell.

But accepting his demon didn’t necessarily mean she’d be willing to have him completely and utterly in her life, or her bed on a permanent basis. Being possessed by a vampire had many ramifications she knew little about. But he also couldn’t ignore that she found him as attractive as he did her. Her delicious body gave her away… and more importantly, her deep trust in him to keep her safe, and to search him out for comfort gave him hope.

Sighing deeply, he leaned over and gently placed a kiss on her forehead then rose to his feet gracefully and made his way silently into the kitchen.


Chapter 9

Cordelia yawned, her mouth stretching wide even as her eyes remained closed. As her limbs stretched too, she became aware of her solo state on the couch at the same time as picking up quiet rattling noises coming from the kitchen.

Debating whether or not to stay where she was, clear thoughts slowly filtered through her brain, and after a few seconds her eyes snapped open. Shit- Wes! Cordelia strained her ears for the sounds of muted male voices, but heard nothing accept crockery being shifted.

Could the man still be asleep in the chair by her bed? Biting her lip fretfully, she finally sat up and rose to make her way over to the closed door. On entering she found it empty and instantly glanced at her bedside clock: 11.15 am. Pushing her hair out of her face, Cordelia groaned.

No doubt Wes walked in and saw them all cuddly on the couch. Blunt teeth tortured her lip yet again as she imagined the scenario when he returned later that day; in the meantime she had Angel to face.

What had Angel thought about her joining him in the early hours? Although Cordelia had felt his arms gather her closer, she wasn’t sure if he’d been awake at the time and just going through motions he’d become used to. Had he had an unpleasant shock finding her practically draped over him like a human blanket yet again when he finally woke up?

That fact that he’d slept on the couch gave her pause for thought- maybe he’d asked Wes to watch over her because he’d needed a break from her clinging neediness? She swallowed hard with mortification, now regretting her impulsive action. It didn’t feel so reassuring with the doubt that he might have needed some time away from her arms. All she could do, she guessed, was not mention it and insanely hope he’d thought she was sleep walking.

Who was she kidding? Blowing out a resigned breath, Cordelia straightened her spine and exited the bedroom, making her way to the kitchen before the bathroom seemed like a much better option.

Pinning a bright yet slightly reserved smile on her face, Cordelia entered the kitchen with a cheery good morning.

Angel glanced up from the book he was half reading to quietly return the greeting, his dark eyes attempting to capture hers, but it seemed the she was either purposefully avoiding his gaze or was genuinely more interested in grabbing a cup of coffee from the fresh batch he’d made.

Hearing her go into her bedroom earlier and stay there for a good ten minutes, Angel had assumed she was in the process of getting dressed first, but as she’d entered the kitchen still in her pajama bottoms and loosely fitting t-shirt- yet another of his [making him wonder with amusement just how many she’d swiped in their year together], he couldn’t help worry a little over her delay before joining him.

Was it that she regretted her impulsive action hours ago? Was she in fact half asleep and driven by her nightmare to someone more familiar? After all, Wes was still not as close emotionally and had only recently being ‘accepted’ into the familial relationship between the vampire and his seer.

Familial -hah! Angel chewed his bottom lip as he realized that wasn’t exactly a word that matched their actions and his feelings of late. He watched from hooded eyes as Cordelia still hovered around the counter in front of the coffee maker, her back to him.

“I made you some breakfast,” he finally spoke again when it seemed she was content to stay where she was in silence.

Rising to his feet, Angel quietly made his way to the stove, his shoulder brushing hers when he stooped to open the warm oven. Her body instantly tensed, and a small gasp escaped her mouth at the same time as she retreated to take a seat at the table. Grabbing an oven glove, the vampire removed the plate and took it over to the brunette, placing it in front of her and turning away to retrieve cutlery.

“Mmm, eggs, bacon and toast; what a nice thing to wake up to,” Cordelia announced brightly, and then flushed a deep red as she recalled what she’d woken to up a few hours before. That too had been kinda nice. The flush deepened and she reached out to take the knife and fork off the now sitting vampire and dipped her head to tuck in.

Angel sat back in his seat, drinking the coffee he’d also brought over, eyeing her over the rim discreetly. Her flush reminded him of his earlier predicament, and guessed that show of Mister Happy had possibly brought the high color to her face.

“Cordelia-” almost as soon as her name left his lips, the front door knocked lightly, and seconds later Wes’ tired voice could be heard thanking Dennis who’d obviously let him in. Cordelia kept her head down and concentrated on eating.

He sighed inwardly and decided that maybe the ex-Watcher’s interruption wasn’t such a bad idea really. To be honest, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was about to say to her anyway.

“Good morning; or should I say afternoon?” Wes bustled into the kitchen, his chipper tone grating on both occupants’ ears, but he seemed oblivious to the rather strained atmosphere.

Angel rose to his feet instantly, a half smile touching his otherwise austere face. Tea, Wes?” he asked, going over to the kettle and busying himself with cupboards and cups.

“Oh, that would be most appreciated,” Wes smiled gratefully. “Would you believe I’d ran out at home? But it was a little too early to go trotting off to the local convenience store, so, yes, that would be lovely, Angel,” Wes pulled out a chair and sat next to the brunette who looked up from her half-finished plate with a tentative smile.

“Morn-afternoon, Wes- you hungry too?” catching his yearning glance at her more than generous cooked breakfast.” Wes instantly pulled his greedy eyes away, shaking his head, then gaped when she shoved the plate in front of him, rising to throw her cutlery in the sink and grab a clean set. “Angel, I think is trying to get me into a size twelve; which I really can’t see working for me- so eat up,” handing over the cutlery, she threw both of them a blinding smile, mentioned getting dressed, and hastily left the kitchen for the safety of her room.

With a shrug, Wes licked his lips and dived into the remains of eggs and bacon. Angel placed the cup of tea on the table and went back to the counter to add bread to the toaster; eating meant no awkward questions, and he hoped Cordelia didn’t take too long in the bathroom so he too could escape the man’s watchful eyes for a short while.

“Thank you, Angel,” Wes lifted his head to give another grateful smile when the vampire shortly placed butter-laced toast next to his tea. Well aware of the diversionary, tactics, the ex-watcher was content to keep quiet on the happenings of the previous night.

To be honest, he wasn’t sure that it was his place to comment on it- it would not be unlike the vampire questioning his intentions with a member of the opposite sex, and did either have that right? Fair enough, Wes realized; this was rather different. The lady in question wasn’t someone Angel had recently met and expressed an interest in- this was Cordelia.

When he’d first joined them, Wes hadn’t been able to ignore their deep closeness; in fact, it had taken him a while to get used to the almost brother-sister vibes coming off the both, and had spent a fair time feeling like the third wheel. It wasn’t intentional, not at all. He doubted either were aware of their little ‘clique’, and Wes was just happy that for once, in a very long time, that he finally felt useful- and needed.

After the debacle with Vocah, Wes had been unofficially promoted into that clique and the difference was overwhelming. Suddenly, he had a family and when he thought about it sometimes- especially when alone, his throat clogged with emotion that, finally, he had been accepted into the fold. Cordelia’s fretful requests for the vampire the first time she awoke screaming from her nightmare, and then her actions later were the catalyst to his suspicions, and, as thought earlier before he left; was he really in any position to bring the subject up? It wasn’t as if Angelus was a threat, after all. But at the same time he was a friend- a caring friend who only wanted the best for both of them.

Yes, he would broach the subject with Angel, but only when he’d worked out exactly what he wanted to say…. and, naturally, at a time when the sometimes volatile brunette was either out or sleeping, he decided prudently.

Angel’s broad shoulders relaxed when the book the vampire had left on the table instead took up Wes’ interest; and the next hour was taken up with discussing the ramifications and fact over fiction regarding the Holy Grail.

By the time Cordelia had dragged enough courage together to face them, the debate had became rather heated- well, on Wes’ side anyway, and she just rolled her eyes whilst making Angel some blood and Wes another cup of tea.

“Really, Wes, life’s too short to have a hissy fit over a cup,” putting their drinks on the table, Cordelia returned to the counter to make fresh coffee, rolling her eyes yet again when he spluttered outrage as he picked up his teacup.

“It is not just a cup, Cordelia, it is a very important Holy relic that, I may add, has been researched and sought for centuries- even by religious factions.” He explained in his best teaching voice to a kindergarten child. Cordelia shook her head and poured her coffee as he carried on relentlessly.

“The term “grail” actually comes from the Latin gradale, which meant a dish brought to the table during various stages (Latin “gradus”) or courses of a meal. ” Angel opened his mouth to intervene, but Wes was on a roll. “In medieval romance, the grail was said to have been brought to Glastonbury in Britain by Joseph of Arimathea and his followers. In the time of Arthur, the quest for the Grail was the highest spiritual pursuit-“

“Well, I’ve been around for a long time,” Angel finally interrupted as the brunette’s hazel eyes glazed over; ignoring the brunette’s snort; “And although I’ve heard the usual rumors, I’ve yet to set eyes on It- or know of anyone who has.” This time Wes rolled his eyes, which brought the hint of a smile on the vampire’s chiseled mouth and a snicker from Cordelia as she finally sat down to join them at the table.

“Angel, you are merely two hundred and fifty; whereas the origins of the Holy Grail, well, we are talking of times when Jesus Christ last walked the earth.” Wes replied, annoyed at not knowing off the top of his head the exact year of the Last Supper to throw in the vampire’s face.

“248, Wes,” the dark haired vampire corrected the Englishman with a scowl and rose to his feet, more than ready to exit the kitchen.

“All this fuss over two years!” Cordelia snorted inelegantly, adding mischievously, “Careful Angel, you’re beginning to sound like an actor.” The vampire’s scowl increased and with a small growl left them to it.

“Surely removing two years from one’s age would be pointless,” Wes considered with a frown, “I mean, it isn’t as if there would be a noticeable difference in the aging process in such a relatively short amount of time.”

Cordelia reached forward and patted his hand. “Wes, Wes, ” her hazel eyes expressing sympathy for his naivety, “you have so much to learn; it depends on what side of Thirty you’re looking at, especially when you’re an actor playing opposite borderline jailbait.”…

***

By the time Angel had returned freshly showered and fully dressed, both occupants had moved to the lounge; Cordelia curled up on the couch with a coffee mug cradled in her hand and Wes tucked into his usual chair with his nose stuffed in a book.

As the vampire walked hesitantly over to join them, he noticed a fresh mug of steaming blood set on the coffee table in front of his usual seat next to her. Taking his lead from that, he settled down next to the brunette, unable to resist glancing at her as he reached for his drink.

Their eyes connected and a charge of electricity flew between them for a split second, both being transported back to that moment hours before…. Angel cleared his throat and indicated his drink.

“Is this payback?” he asked, referring to her earlier comment about him overfeeding her; his voice a touch husky. Her pupils instantly dilated even as she replied with a “huh?” “Another mug so soon after the last” he elucidated. Her brow lifted with amusement.

“No, actually; like I’d want you bursting out of your pants,” Angel had just taken a swig of his drink and blood shot out of his nose, even as Wesley’s head jerked up at the comment. Cordelia blushed ten shades of red and didn’t know where to look. She doubted she could make it sound any better by explaining what she meant, so remained silently mortified.

Instead she focused on the blood smearing down Angel’s chin and shot to her feet, making her way rapidly to the kitchen. By the time she’d pulled off some kitchen roll and swiveled round to return, Angel had followed her in, unintentionally blocking her way.

“Oomph!” her body connected with his abruptly, nose hitting off his broad, hard chest. Instantly she felt her nose fill with fluid and drip onto her upper lip. “Owwe!”

“Sorry; hey, are you okay?” his concerned voice sounded above her, and Cordelia turned watering eyes upwards, his face a blur. “Oh, god; I’ve hurt you!” Angel lifted her chin, taking some of the reams of kitchen towel she held in a vice, and dabbed at her tender nose gently. When she glanced down, she was surprised to see blood forming on the white tissue. Then she began to giggle.

“Oh, God, now she’s hysterical,” Angel groaned, looking helpless, which made her giggle morph into an all out belly laugh. He held loosely onto her arms as she howled unrestrained until a concerned Wes entered the kitchen at a run.

“What on earth’s the ma-? – Oh, dear Lord!” he stared from one to the other, his words drying up at the sight of both faces. The men waited out the laughter until; finally, Cordelia wiped her eyes with a giggle.

“I’m sorry,” she gasped, looking anything but, “It’s just…well, look at us- we match!” Finally Angel got it.

Both the vampire and the brunette sported bloody noses, and as Cordelia giggled, pointing back and forth between them, Wes clicked and started to grin, then tittered. Both brunettes turned to stare at the Englishman as his high-pitched giggle grew until he too was howling and clutching his belly.

“It’s not that funny, Wes,” Cordelia literally growled as the ache in her nose grew uncomfortably. “I think it’s broken,” she whined, touching the tip and wriggling it carefully. This seemed to only make the man worse, and she was sure the vampire was now attempting to stifle a grin.

Annoyance grew as Wes showed no sign of letting up. Her pain was not something to be laughed at. Men! “Here!” she shoved the remaining tissue into his hands and stalked out of the kitchen with her injured nose in the air.

***

After that incident, earlier tension dissipated somewhat, and clean noses and faces later, all three congregated in the dining area and knuckled down to some research; well, Cordelia concentrated intently on the cosmopolitan she had stashed inside one big tome that she cradled in her arms in an attempt to hide the evidence.

“Have you had any luck finding the Haute Couture demon, Cordelia?” Wes finally asked innocently, and for a second the brunette flipped her magazine closed and made an attempt to check the cramped text of the tome she held up- then the penny dropped and her hazel eyes lifted to throw daggers at the smirking man.

“Har de har,” Cordelia stuck her tongue out him and then released the book abruptly, ignoring Wes’ flinch as it hit the table with a thump.

“Careful! That book is over two centuries old, and should be treated with utmost reverence,” he chastised, his frown pushing his glasses down his nose. Cordelia snorted.

“No wonder it smells all moldy like Xander’s socks,” her own nose crinkling. Angel’s head lifted at the sound of the dark-haired boy’s name. The boy he’d never really liked, frowning himself at the unpleasant reminder of her ex boyfriend.

Cordelia rarely mentioned Harris’ name unless it was to insult his clothes or intelligence, and now was no different. But usually it had brought a slight grin to his face. But not this time. She shouldn’t even be thinking about Harris any longer, never mind talking about him- and didn’t he feel like a pouty, jealous teen himself? Maybe it was the fact that it felt like they were a couple- even though they weren’t he attempted to remind himself, and her reference made him feel like a possessive boyfriend- which he of course wasn’t.

He frowned. All this self-reminding was giving him a headache.

“Jeez, don’t tell me you’re gonna whine at me too,” Cordelia rolled her eyes and made a point of removing her magazine and closing the book with exaggerated care.

Angel’s frown deepened, “I don’t whine,” he whined, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms. The brunette pffted and rose from her seat, stretching her cramped muscles unaware of the dark brown eyes hungrily taking in the exposed line of golden skin displayed as her short top separated from her low-cut jeans.

“I don’t get why we have to do this when I haven’t had a scratch’n’sniff vision today” pushing back her chair and walking towards the archway. “I’m gonna make a drink and watch some TV; my brain needs some lighthearted vegging for once,” she added before disappearing out of sight.

Wes sighed theatrically and bent his head over his book, muttering about young, flighty women as he did so. Angel stifled a smile and wondered if it would be too obvious if he made his escape too. Shifting slightly, he looked back innocently at Wes who’d instantly looked back up suspiciously.

“Would you like a sandwich, Wes?” he asked in an even tone, and let out a silent sigh of relief when the man thought about it briefly then nodded with a smile of thanks.

“Actually, I wouldn’t say no to a little sustenance,” he replied. “Researching builds quite an appetite, doesn’t it?” he waited for the vampire to nod before going back to his book. Angel shook his head in quiet amusement and rose to his feet. Pausing in the entrance of the kitchen, Angel watched as Cordelia busied herself with the coffee maker, smiling softly as the young woman grabbed the teapot too, and a carton of his blood already on the counter in preparation.

“Sandwich, Cordelia?” Angel walked in, hiding a grin as she jumped a mile at the sound of his voice.

“Jeeze, Angel! Skulk much? I don’t think you’ll be happy until you’re having to peel me off the ceiling.” Cordelia threw him a glare over her shoulder, a hand on her heart. “And yes please” she added with a blinding smile, then turned her head back to concentrate on pouring blood into his mug.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he commented as he went to the fridge nearby, catching her look of exasperation. He still couldn’t get used to Cordelia preparing his blood so casually; not like it had ever happened to him before she came into his unlife.

“Like I’m gonna just make myself a drink; what do you take me for? – No, don’t answer that,” Cordelia added with a grimace, leaning over his stooped figure to place his mug into the microwave that rested on the counter above the fridge.

Angel breathed deep as her hip nudged the side of his head and was almost overwhelmed with the pure scent that was all Cordelia; a little moue of disappointment curling his mouth when she all too soon moved back to the coffee maker. Although relieved that the she seemed more comfortable with him now than she had earlier, at the same time, he didn’t want her too comfortable, as it brought little doubts into his mind that possibly he was the only one affected by the deep attraction and feelings he was hoping were mutual.

“Why would I say anything bad?” he finally asked, rising from his haunches and moving over to a clear run of worktop to set out the fillings for the sandwiches.

“Well, my track record isn’t that good, is it?” she replied, removing his blood and placing it near him before pouring boiling water from the kettle into the teapot, then flipping the switch on the coffee maker and lifting the glass jug to fill her own mug.

“You make it sound as if you have a rap sheet; you don’t do you?” Angel’s dark brow lifted even as his face reflected mock horror, quickly changing to pain as she reached out and whacked his arm, “Oww.”

“Oh, don’t be a big baby,” she grinned cheekily, then frowned as she replaced the coffee jug. “And what’s with Rap sheets? methinks you are spending WAY to much time with blonde Coplady,” Cordelia added with a tinge of jealousy. She often wondered if anything more intimate had ever happened between the two; but judging by her sucking-lemons face, she doubted it….

She, on the other hand would certainly be grinning stupidly for weeks- stop; rewind and forget you ever thought that, Miss Cordelia Chase. she inwardly berated herself. Glancing back at him she then winked. “Anyways, I have many secrets, my dear Mister vampy, and I’m not telling you any of them, so there!” her tongue poked out.

Angel had to resist the urge to lean over and capture it with his teeth. Something must have shown in his face, because hers clouded over for a second just before she turned away. dammit! the atmosphere changed abruptly, and tension skittered through the air yet again.

The rest of the chores were done in an awkward silence, and he watched from the corner of his eye as she placed a cup, saucer and condiments onto a tray, and then followed up with the teapot and her coffee mug before balancing it like a professional waitress and disappearing out of the kitchen. By the time he’d finished the sandwiches, Cordelia was settled on the couch flicking through channels when he placed her plate on the coffee table in front of her and Wes was pouring a cup of tea in the dining room.

Handing over his plate, Angel returned to the kitchen, finished off his blood and then poured a mug of coffee before re-entering the lounge. Deciding to take the bull by the horns, he walked over and sat in his usual place on the couch. Cordelia immediately tensed. Purposely ignoring her, he sat back and sipped his coffee, his eyes trained on the channel-hopping TV.

His iron resolve lasted all of three minutes. “How’s the nose?” he finally asked conversationally, turning his head to look at the nose in question. Cordelia lifted a hand and touched the tip delicately.

“Oh, it isn’t aching anymore, so I don’t think it’s broken, “She replied; a small gasp spilling from parted lips when he leaned over and touched the tip himself. She held herself still as he gently ran a fingertip along the bridge, lingering for a few seconds before removing his finger and sitting back.

He just had to touch, didn’t he? He groaned silently. “I can’t feel a break; I’m really sorry about that, Cordelia,” guilt surfacing as he recalled the sight of blood pouring out of her nose an hour or so before.

“That’ll teach you to sneak up on people, won’t it?” she pointedly replied but her smile took the sting out of her words, then she leaned forward to reach for her plate. Angel moved at the same time and their hands clashed. Both froze for a moment, fingers brushing until Cordelia pulled away, rising to her feet. “I’m gonna eat this in the kitchen; don’t want lettuce everywhere.” She explained hurriedly, indicating the generously filled sandwich before walking past him and disappearing into the kitchen.

Angel let out a heartfelt sigh and sat back on the couch, staring blindly at the flickering TV screen. He was trying, reallllly trying to maneuver the conversation around to last night, but each time he thrust, the brunette parried and retreated, and the vampire became more uncertain about her feelings towards him. With a helpless shrug of his broad shoulders, he decided to back off for the time being and give her the space she obviously wanted. Plenty of time, he reassured himself as he finally rose to his feet and traipsed back into the dining area.

***

“I’m gonna leave you guys to it and have a long soak,” Cordelia rose from the couch and smiled tiredly at Wes and Angel before making her way to her bedroom. Although it was only around 10pm, the previous night had caught up on her, and it was with relief that she was finally able to make her excuses without looking like she was hiding from the vampire. Both men looked up from their respective books and nodded before Wes went straight back to his book even as Angel quietly watched the brunette until she disappeared into her room.

The day had gone surprisingly quickly, and after the little scene on the couch, neither had been alone. Although the vampire was finding himself agreeing with the ‘brain-drain’ that was tedious research, in a way it was easier than attempting to make Smalltalk with Cordelia, who slowly became antsier as the day progressed.

By the time she’d made her excuses, he found himself rather relieved from the tension too. This couldn’t go on, he realized with an inward groan. It had gone beyond mild awkwardness now and the only way forward was to confront their feelings before things became difficult between them.

“Between you and I, I’m not sure I can take the rather fraught atmosphere pervading every inch of this apartment.” Wes’ conversational words dragged Angel’s attention from the bedroom door and his neck popped at the speed with which his head snapped back to face the ex-Watcher.

Making contact with the sharp blue eyes of the young man made his head clear and defenses came up in an instant; his handsome face becoming deliberately blank. “You’ve lost me, Wesley,” he eventually replied with an equally cool tone.

At the extended use of his name, Wes gulped and almost backed off- almost. This had to be said, he inwardly decided, otherwise things at Cordelia’s apartment would eventually degenerate and things would become impossible for all of them- him included.

“Angel…. I’m not about to sit here and list all the reasons why I consider any kind of relationship with Cordelia to be unacceptable, as you are in no doubt assuming right now.” Wes began; watching as confusion slowly replaced the vampire’s closed off expression. “If Cordelia is as eager as you apparently are then I must tell you now, that I wish you both well and am fully supportive of your impending … ‘couple’ status,”

The vampire’s confusion changed into pleasant surprise, and for a moment he inwardly berated himself for ever coming to the conclusion that Wesley Wyndham Price was totally oblivious to the workings of the human- and not-so human animal. His respect for the young man also grew.

Wes’ eyes momentarily hardened to blue ice as he added quietly, “One little thing I will add; if you hurt her in any way, I will hunt you down and not hesitate to dust you.” Angel’s respect grew by the second.

“Nothing’s actually been said between us, Wes,” Angel finally admitted quietly, “And this… thing might not come to anything anyway.” He added with more than a tinge of regret coloring his tone. Digesting that bit of information, Wes doubted that. Feelings obviously existed on both sides. They were just too busy denying it, – Correction; it seemed the vampire had experienced some sort of epiphany overnight, but Cordelia was obviously still at that stage of fear and refusal to acknowledge her burgeoning feelings.

“Are you in love with Cordelia?” Angel was so taken aback by the Englishman’s sudden question that he nodded mutely, his mouth agape. He pulled himself together quickly.

“I’m not so sure about Cordelia,” he admitted, a frown marring his handsome face. “The attraction is there- and the trust, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she feels the same way.” Even as he spoke, Angel couldn’t believe he was speaking so freely with the man, but at the same time felt an inordinate amount relief at being in the position to be able to do such a rare thing. Wes snorted with disbelief.

“Believe me, Angel; I may be somewhat ‘romantically challenged’, as Cordelia so succinctly puts it, but observation is my forte, and I have every confidence in my belief that your… tender feelings are returned- but,” he leaned forward in his chair, “this is something you need to discuss with her- and please,” he added, tugging at his shirt collar even as his face expressed anxiety, “for the sake of my future health, never, EVER divulge this conversation to Cordelia.”

***

Cordelia stepped out of the bath and wrapped a fluffy towel around her warm, rose-tinted body, and then bent over at the waist to squeeze the excess water from her long hair over the bathtub before pulling out the plug. Grabbing a head towel, she rubbed vigorously at her wet locks. It was times like this that Cordelia sometimes wished for a style that was practical- maybe a sleek bob? Then she shrugged the thought off.

Her hair to her was the only luxury left from the days of plenty, when all she had to worry about was what outfit to wear and the accessories that went with it. Putting her ear to the bathroom door, she listened for any sign of activity in her room. Pulling a face and shrugging, Cordelia then wondered why she was bothering. Angel was not unlike a big cat; silent on his paws and moving with a stealth that still had her heart shooting to her throat when he did his usual skulk.

Checking her towel, she lifted her chin and opened the door; good, no sign of him. Creeping over to her bedroom door, she listened again and this time heard the muted male voices in the lounge. Going over to her dresser, she grabbed her body lotion and high-tailed it back to the bathroom. Since he’d begun entering her room without knocking she knew she couldn’t risk dropping her towel and applying her lotion. That was all she would need- him walking in on her, buck nekkid with one leg propped up on the bed! Just the thought had her whole body flushing; and not all of it was mortification.

Cordelia frowned as she dropped her towel on the bathroom floor and began applying her lotion. This was the thing. Sometime she was almost certain Angel felt the same as her; head over heels and panting like a lovesick randy dog. Then other times it was as if she’d just imagined it. Was it worth destroying their close friendship by declaring her feelings and finding out too late that sadly, all these new emotions were one-sided? If she thought it was awkward now, his knowing how she felt and not returning them would cause real problems. Maybe it was best to just continue on as they were and keep their platonic relationship intact?

Easier said than done when the aforementioned ‘platonic friend’ was sharing her bed every night, holding her intimately in his arms close to his delicious body….

“Somebody shoot me now!” she groaned aloud, placing the cap back on the bottle of lotion and pulling on a pair of bed shorts and matching ribbed tank top; thinking that having a rest from wearing his t-shirts might make it easier, and then realizing his t-shirts covered a hell of a lot more than her tank tops.

Entering the bedroom, she went to turn off the light, this time not hearing anything through the door. With a gulp of trepidation- or was it anticipation? Cordelia scooted to her bed and slid under the covers, hugging her side of the mattress like a woman hanging from a cliff fearing losing her grip and plummeting to the abyss below…

***

Angel paced the lounge silently. In fact he’d been pacing since Wes had left over half and hour earlier, and although he’d heard Cordelia exit the bathroom and switch off her bedroom light, he still remained in the lounge pacing.

What did he say? How did he broach the subject? And more importantly, what if she laughed in his face? Just the thought had him shuddering with fear and embarrassment. How could he ever face her again if that happened? No amount of stoic-face would fool her after that kind of confession:

“Cordelia, I love you- I am in love with you; in fact I have been for a while now, but didn’t realize it until today….” Hell, no matter how many times he rehearsed his little speech, it didn’t sound any less vulnerable or pathetic.

Or he could go back to his boyhood days and say “Wes said you liked me- I like you too, so can we kiss now?” – Arrgh! He raked his fingers through his hair and abruptly tuned to pace the length of the lounge yet again.

Maybe he should just leave it for now- in fact; maybe he should also sleep on the couch again tonight? Recalling the night before, he realized that wasn’t such a good idea. He’d never forgive himself if she had a nightmare and he wasn’t there when she woke up. It seemed as Cordelia was catching up on her sleep, her tendency to awake mid-nightmare was more and more likely, and Angel really didn’t want her waking alone.

No, he’d have to join her- when he was completely sure she had fallen asleep first, he decided. As for confessing his feelings…well that could wait a little longer; maybe once the nightmares had become a thing of the past and he had his own place to go an lick his wounds in private if she rejected him.

Wes might well be right and the vampire could be missing an opportunity to be with Cordelia sooner rather than later- but whilst there was the chance that he was wrong, Angel’s courage just failed him. Dropping onto the couch, he decided to wait another half an hour before going to bed himself.

***

Exiting the bathroom freshly showered and clothed in clean sweats, Angel trod stealthily to the bed, noting her death grip to her edge with a wry smile as he slid under the covers and lay on his back, his dark eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling as he waited for sleep to overtake his senses…

***

Her scream had hardly left her mouth before the vampire had gathered Cordelia in his comforting arms, and as she slowly awoke, she felt surrounded by him; his unique male scent wrapping around her as close as his limbs and big body. She shuddered as he whispered soothing words of comfort in her ear, his large hands stroking her hair and spine gently but firmly, and eventually her body relaxed into him.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” she finally murmured, swallowing convulsively, and although she fidgeted in his arms, she made no move to pull herself away. Then abruptly tears fell.

Angel froze as wet warm splashes hit his throat, and he eased away slightly to look down into her face. “Cordy?” His concerned whisper drew her wet eyes to his. “Shhh, I’ve got you; it’s gonna be okay,” he reassured her gently, but she shook her head.

“No it’s not,” Cordelia hiccupped before continuing. “I just wonder sometimes if these will ever end, ya know?” although sounding like a question, Angel remained silent. “How long can I go on like this, Angel? – How long can I put you out like this?” Stunned chocolate eyes bored into hers as her words sank in. then he cupped her face in his palm and leaned down to brush his nose against hers.

Believe me, Cordy; you aren’t putting me out at all.” He paused, then pinned his gaze with hers, grabbing every piece of courage available before continuing. “To tell you the truth, I really, really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than here with you- ever.”

Cordelia stared into his face, seemingly searching for something, then her beautiful eyes widened as realization finally flooded into her drowsy head. The light that softened her eyes to rich honey sucked him in until, if Angel had been able to breath, he would have lost the ability at that very moment.

Slowly, so very slowly, he dipped his dark head until his lips met and pressed gently against hers, unmoving and tentative, and after a long moment, Cordelia’s softened beneath them and partially opened. That was all he needed to push ahead, gently sipping kisses from her eager mouth. Their mouths gradually built up heat until both felt as if they were being burned from the inside, mutual moans slipped between them. Angel gasped and eased back a little, unsure right now how far to take this. What had begun as tenderness was fast approaching all out desire and he’d learned a helluva lot from things spoken that night after the Wilson incident: Cordelia had been innocent.

He’d had felt pretty bad at the time, because he’d just assumed, after many comments by Buffy and the others in Sunnydale, that she’d been sexually active. He also knew for a fact, due to close proximity and slipped comments that that had also been her last sexual adventure, stating with a shudder that it had put her off for life.

Angel had always been a sensual animal, from human onwards, and although he’d had to repress those urges when the clause was still an issue, since that worry had gone, he’d begun to relax the restraints as time went on. But recalling her words and expression right after the Wilson episode, the last thing he wanted was for her to back off. Then he stifled a grin, her soft moans of encouragement and writhing of her warm body told a different story, and he groaned throatily, his passion intensifying.

Gentle fingers slipped along her spine until they reached the hem of her tank top, then eased it up slowly, inch by inch gauging her reaction. His sex hardened to the point of pain when, after the shortest of pauses Cordelia eagerly lifted her arms to enable him to remove it. Once done, Angel rolled her onto her back and propped himself up on one elbow and looked his fill.

Up until now, he’d only been able to guess what lay under her clothing, and recently had had the pleasure of the generous mounds crushed against his hard chest. Seeing them in all their naked glory was entirely different. Full, rounded and surprisingly firm and high, her breasts were perfect. He licked his lips hungrily then reached out and ran his fingers along her butter-soft skin before circling her tightly puckered areola, ending with a slight pinch and gentle tug of the enticing nub. a pleased smile quirked his mouth at the resulting moan that sounded out.

Cordelia drew in a sharp breath when his dark head dipped low and a turgid nipple was sucked deep into the cool moist cavern of his mouth. Her shorts by now clung to her rapidly drenching core -and he hadn’t even started yet! The realization that they were actually going make love to her hit her between the eyes. Finally! her mind did the happy dance even as she lifted her hands to run urgent fingers through his short, surprisingly soft hair, massaging and lightly scratching his scalp even as she moaned and pressed her aroused flesh against his voracious mouth.

Laving and tugging at her nipples over and over, Angel fought between wanting to linger and explore other places. His hand molded and plumped her breast as he continued suckling the budded tips until he was unable ignore her writhing hips and fragrant arousal any longer. Lifting his head, he took her mouth in a stormy kiss, cupping her hip and pulled her against him, grinding his sex into her pubic bone in an attempt to ease the ache.

Cordelia wasn’t helping matters, what with her hot little panting moans and frantically gyrating hips that rubbed against his shaft with a precision that had his eyes rolling into the back of his head. Releasing her mouth, he scattered moist kissed over her face and under her chin; the kisses turning into gentle nips that he soothed with his tongue. Pausing for a moment over her rapidly throbbing pulse, he couldn’t resist sucking hard on the skin covering her pulse point. The urge to mark Cordelia was strong, but a natural knee-jerk reaction of being a vampire first and foremost, regardless of the soul.

But he held back. Mainly due to the ramifications of such a claim. Not once in his two hundred and forty eight years had he instigated a claimed a woman as his own. Darla had been his sire and Drusilla … Creating a childe was completely different than that of claiming a mate.

Biting Buffy had been entirely different too. He had been driven to bite her due to delirium, anger and hunger. The mark on her throat was clear to any vampire seeing it, as purely the urge to feed, nothing more. Even thinking of claiming he had never occurred to him. He’d put that down at the time to the natural conflict between vampire and Slayer. Memories of his ex melted away, leaving nothing but thoughts of the young woman he caged with his aroused body.

Working his way down, Angel held her still as his mouth trailed from her collarbone, lingering over the sensual curve of her breasts before moving on. His large hands held her hips steady as impatient fingers tangled in the fabric of her soft cotton shorts, tempted to rip them away. Instead he swirled his cool tongue around her navel before dipping in and delighting in the abrupt jerk of her captured hips. They had plenty of time, he reasoned, and he wanted their first night to be something to remember with heated pleasure.

Cordelia’s head tossed restlessly on the pillow as he slowly drove her crazy. Who knew that ‘other’ places could make her ache and arch with so much intensity, and when his fingers finally drew her shorts down, she blew out a breath of relief. When Angel halted, she groaned out aloud in frustration- then her ass left the bed when his satiny tongue ran across her hip bone, following it up with small nips and suckling Jeeeeesus!.

Angel grinned at her reaction; the hip bones could actually be very sensitive and going by the way she’d had lurched up, hers were definitely so. He alternated between the two, ignoring the call of her rich, intoxicating heat, enjoying dragging her pleasure out and driving them both crazy in the process.

“Angel… please,” her guttural words brought sharply to his memory that scorching dream and his wholly inappropriate groping, and unable to help himself he fell back into that erotic dream.

“Please what?” he murmured against her belly, deft fingers running along the edge of her shorts. “Touch me,” she moaned in response, pressing her belly into his face.

“Tell me where and I will, ” he nipped gently at the silky soft flesh, , fingers sliding lower and running along the join of her thighs lightly. He could taste her want in the back of his throat, and a moan of answering need left his panting mouth; a breath of damp air moistened her lower abdomen. Moaning in frustration, she pressed her hips harder against his hand in silent demand, but he refused to be rushed.

“Uh uh!” he shook his head, holding her hips in a firm grip just out of reach.

“Touch me!” she growled, eliciting a chuckle. Angel shook his head and nipped her belly teasingly. Cordelia wriggled in his grasp, panting heavily, her face flushed with both arousal and heated annoyance. He simply looked up at her expectantly and she dizzily realized he could be as stubborn as she. He wanted to hear her say it, and giving in, she finally took courage in both hands.

“Down there – My…my clit…touch me there; God, Angel, do it!” she moaned, her expression warring between desire and shyness. Chocolate orbs gathered heat until amber irises met hers.

Angel felt the change slide over his features, but instead of turning away, which had always been his instinct since cursed with a soul he continued to hold her gaze that by now was full of yearning impatience. Her expression didn’t alter and it sent a shudder through his large frame, at her voiceless acceptance of his demon.

“Angel, please,” she repeated on a burning needy whisper. A low growl left his moist red lips as he let his hand slide under the hem of her shorts and slid between her quivering legs. He continued to watch her as the pad of his finger circled and rubbed her swollen clit. The response was immediate; hips bucking sharply into his hand as she mewled aloud.

Abruptly the last barrier became too much, and removing his hand from her heat Angel rose up onto his knees, drawing the shorts down those long, long legs until they left her feet and were discarded over the end of the bed. Instead of returning to cover her, he instead clasped her ankles before sliding his hands along her inner legs, not stopping until he reached the apex of her thighs, lifting her knees along the way until she lay splayed open to his avid eyes.

Cordelia leaned up on her elbows with a gasp of fearful yet excited anticipation. Even though she’d done the ultimate with spawny-guy, it had been short on foreplay and except for a quick grope; he’d got right down to business. To be so vulnerably open like this- especially to Angel, felt deliciously naughty yet so very right.

A moan slipped from her parted kiss-swollen mouth at the look of naked lust stamped on his shadowed features, and his amber eyes lifted to meet hers for a second. Even in full vamp face, Angel was beautiful, and her belly quivered even as her heart expanded and ached with emotions.

The vampire looked his fill, the dim light of the bedroom not hindering his acute sight at all. Pink, wet, swollen folds beckoned him, and when a gush of pre-climatic fluid burst gently from her, Angel moaned gutturally and dove in for a taste.

At the first touch of the flat of his cool tongue running along the length of her sizzling sex, Cordelia cried out, her hips jerking high and pushing against his face. The sight of him buried between her thighs, and the magic of that darkly wicked mouth had her arms collapsing and she fell onto her back; her neck arching as he laved and suckled every dripping inch of her.

Hands scrabbled for purchase as his deft tongue plumbed her hot depths over and over again until incoherent cries filled the air and his chest rumbled with growls of answering passion. His large hands held firmly onto her thighs as he ground his painful erection into the mattress, refusing to move as his mouth took complete control of her writhing body; his own needs would have to wait. There would be plenty of time for that later, he hazily thought. For now, he simply wanted to continue to take everything her body had to give.

As her body quivered and convulsed, frantic jumbled words flew from her panting mouth Angel continued to drive her over the edge, nibbling and lapping at her slick folds At the first tiny flutter of her tight walls around his invading tongue, Angel withdrew and sucked her swollen clit into his mouth. Cold fire ripped from her core and spread out to the extremes of her body at that final catalytic touch, and Cordelia screamed his name hoarsely as she first stiffened then thrashed, pulling against his hands. Angel would have none of it and held her close to his face, practically sucking her clenching womb dry.

Only when her body flopped limply did he ease his grip, gently lapping any juices he’d missed before quickly backing off the end of the bed to shed his sweats, a gasp of relief left his mouth when the confining material was finally tugged over his painfully throbbing erection. He slid along her body and nestled snugly between her liquid thighs, resting on his elbows to sip kisses from the dazed and highly flushed love of his life. When Cordelia came down from her high, the first thing she noticed was that his demonic face had melted away, and she frowned a little as she touched his cheek.

“You didn’t have to do that, you know- dropping the grrr face,” she added at the lift of a disbelieving dark brow. “Not the… other thing,” she grinned feeling oddly shy, considering what had just happened between them.

“That’s good to know,” Angel dropped a short hard kiss on her mouth, taking pity on her little burst of shyness by changing the subject back to his face-change. “The demon isn’t the only one to want to be a part of this, Cordy,” he explained softly, and she nodded, understanding what he was saying.

“Good to know,” she repeated his words, “that the both of you want me.” Angel’s spontaneous smile was so bright he took her breath away at the pure beauty of it, then it softened a little as he dipped low and brushed her nose with his.

“This isn’t just about want,” he finally spoke, his voice low and intense. “I’m in love with you, Cordelia… this isn’t a one time deal, and if we take it further, you’ll be stuck with me whether you like it or nor, ” he warned her, only half joking.

“That’s good to know too,” Cordelia finally answered when she managed to get past the humongous lump wedged in her throat, “Cos I love you too, and have no intention of letting you escape- ever!” she emphasized her point with a sharp prod of her finger against his chest, which he instantly grabbed and brought to his mouth.

Sucking the digit deep, Angel shifted a little, letting her feel the evidence of his turgid desire, and she gasped even as her legs widened and drew up to hug his hips. Pulling free her captured finger and draping her arms around his thick neck, Cordelia leaned up and kissed him deeply, pulling away to look deep into his eyes.

“Make love to me, Angel,” she whispered, and for a second his eyes flared pure gold,

“I thought that was what we were doing already,” he whispered back. As she absorbed his tender words, Angel slipped a hand between them and readied his shaft at her wet entrance, then slid the hand to her hip, “Wrap your legs around me, baby; I wanna feel you surrounding me; my heart, my life,” he moaned as she complied, then began the slow slide into her hot, tight and very welcoming body…

The End

Califi

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Sleeping with Tigers 7   1 comment

Chapter 7

Angel’s eyes opened, and for a minute he wondered why he was awake. It had taken him several hours before blessed sleep had crept up on him, the couch feeling even more uncomfortable than before his little break from it. So why had he woken up now?

Then he heard it: a muffled but distinct whimper.

It was not unlike a tidal wave, gathering speed softly until it reached its crescendo and gushed high and strong, and before the shrill scream pierced the air, Angel was already on his feet and in her room. This was a bad one. Sweat dampened her hair and glistened on her distraught face, her body thrashing about and pushing down the tumbled covers.

Without a second thought, Angel climbed onto the bed and pulled her into his arms, slipping into the routine of soothing and whispering soft words in her ear. But this time, although Cordelia settled, her eyes opened drowsily, slowly narrowing when they locked onto his dark, concerned orbs.

“Another nightmare, jeez, lucky me,” her voice shaky, then her mouth tightened as she attempted to shrug him off. “All better now, so why don’t you just toddle off back to your couch?” Even as his large body stiffened, Cordelia felt a wash of shame; he’d come in to help her and what did she do? Throw it back in his face.

“I’m not going anywhere, Cordelia.” He finally replied, his voice husky with hurt feelings. “I promised to be here for the nightmares, so suck it up.” He added, his own mouth firming with stubbornness. When she merely shrugged and settled down next to him, he couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised. Where were the outraged yells, or the pushing and poking she so enjoyed inflicting on him?

“I’m tired, so shut up and go to sleep,” she muttered instead, and closed her eyes, tucking her face into his throat. With a deep sigh of tired confusion and relief, Angel did just that.

***

“Please, Angel, please; touch me,” Cordelia groaned, Angel chuckled low and held her warm body closer to his.

“Tell me where and I will, ” he nipped gently at her throat, one hand between them both, fingers playing with the edge of silk panties that were now damp with her want. She moaned deep in her throat and urged her hips closer to his hand, but he refused to play. “Uh uh!” he shook his head, holding her hips slightly away with a firm hand.

“Touch me!” she growled, eliciting another chuckle. Angel shook his head and lathed her throat with a cool, hungry tongue. Cordelia arched into him, panting heavily and throwing a long silky leg over his hip. When she realized he stubbornly wanted to hear it first, she finally took courage in both hands.

“My…my clit…touch me there; God, Angel, do it!” she moaned, nipping on his ear lobe and sending a shudder through his large frame.

Pleased with her compliance, Angel let his fingers slide into her panties and rubbed her throbbing clit with the pad of his fingers. The response was immediate; hips bucking sharply into his hand and she mewled aloud. Her heat called to him, and with a quick sharp flick of her clit, he slipped the finger lower and gently slid it deep into her core…. God! So hot, tight and wet! He didn’t stop pushing until he was in to the knuckle. He had to see her face, see those moans rounding her full, delicious lips….

Then he blinked.

“Shit!””

Yes, she was draped over him like a human blanket, and yes, his finger was embedded deep into her heat…. but Cordelia Chase was fast asleep.

It had all been a dream; an incredibly hot, melting dream- but still a dream his subconscious mind had made up as it went along. And now he lay there with his hand down her panties, the pad of his thumb on her throbbing clit- and a finger plumbing her tight wet depths.

A soft feminine moan jolted his big body, and he quickly checked her heart shaped face again. Still asleep, and probably thinking she was having a wet dream, going by how drenched her core was right now. He just hoped it wasn’t a certain street kid she was dreaming about. An involuntary growl slipped past his lips before taking a deep breath.

Gritting his teeth, Angel slowly slid the offending finger from her heat, watching her face carefully as he did so. With the care a collector of fragile glass ornaments would have been impressed with, he rearranged her mussed nightclothes and laid her onto the mattress, sliding out of the bed and padding silently to the bathroom. Once there, he knocked his forehead against the wall repeatedly and groaned softly.

God! He was a pervert of the worst kind. He’s taken advantage of a young woman in her bed- when he was supposed to be there, protecting her from monsters that attacked her in her sleep. His mouth twisted bitterly at the irony of that. Opening his eyes, he raised the guilty hand and stared hungrily at the offending digit.

Her creamy juices coated his flesh, and without even realizing it, his hand had crept closer to his mouth, until with a choked moan, the finger disappeared between his lips. Her taste exploded on his tongue, and Angel realized he’d done the second most stupid completely wrong thing tonight. Now that he’d had a taste, the vampire knew he wouldn’t be able to rest until he had more.

He’d once told the Slayer that it wasn’t the vampire who was the problem here; it was the man. Always weak and governed by his body’s needs; he’d thought that weakness had been safely tucked away out of sight and mind. Ha! That was a joke. But the demon in him played a part too. His unreasoning jealousy had been to the forefront for most of yesterday, twisting his gut and planting thoughts of blood, death and revenge against his male friends and acquaintances. It had to stop.

There was no way at all he could climb back into that bed with her tonight- if at all, ever again. His subconscious desires had tipped the odds, and his control was a hair trigger; knowing what or who could set it off wasn’t helping here. The nightmares were still a nightly occurrence, and he couldn’t suddenly go back on his words just because he was a dirty old man who should know better.

Could his unlife get any worse? Angel figured not.

***

The room brightened enough to drag Cordelia out of her deep sleep and she blinked owlishly as she took stock of her surroundings. Two things hit her: no sign of the big undead lug…. And her panties were really, really icky. Her face flushed ten shades of red as she imagined him waking up and scenting her, giving away the topic of her dreams last night. She could still feel his hand touching her there, a thick, long and slightly calloused finger penetrating her welcoming, overheated core- God! How was she going to face him today?

Glancing at her bedside clock, Cordelia was surprised to see the hour hand creeping up to 11am, and with a shocked gasp she shot out of bed and dived into the bathroom. Suddenly- with a large sense of relief, his absence made more sense; especially as she’d belatedly heard the soft murmur of male voices as she made her rapid way to the beckoning, get-rid-of-the-evidence shower.

***

“Drink” Cordelia slammed it down in front of him and it slopped over the edge, hitting his fingers as he’d reached out to grab it.

Without thinking, Angel absently slid two blood-spattered fingers into his mouth and sucked them clean. When he looked up, Cordelia’s eyes were transfixed on his mouth. He swallowed and slowly dropped his hand until it rested on the tabletop, not missing the way her dilated eyes watched its descent. Then she seemed to snap out of it, swiveling on her heels and stalking out of the dining room.

“ohcrapohcrapohcrap” the two words that had become her best friends tumbled rapidly from her lips as she made her way unsteadily back to the kitchen, sliding numbly into one of the chairs and dropping her dark head into her hands.

“I might as well wear a sign around my neck stating ‘Angel fingered me in my dreams” she muttered softly, nearly falling off her chair when a dark shape appeared in her line of vision. Angel almost stumbled as he caught her words; the brunette had no idea just how true those words were -that is, if you changed ‘dreams’ to ‘sleep’!

He swallowed convulsively several times; truly glad Cordelia seemed suddenly fascinated by the light Formica top of the kitchen table.

“Cloth for the spill, he hastily explained, marveling at his steady, even tone. Grabbing a tea towel, he left as silently as he’d arrived.

Holy cow!. Hey! That was good! New words; Cordelia concentrated on that fact rather than consider the idea that the vampire of the amazing, supernatural ears had heard her little oopsie. “Hmm…maybe I should introduce them to ‘oh. Crap’?” She seriously considered, still refusing to think beyond her trips of temporary insanity. Well, they said talking to yourself was the fist sign of insanity- and giving social lives to words must be up there in the fifth stage at least.

“That’s it, I’m officially insane” Cordelia rose from the table with an erect spine and a firm expression. “And as such, I’m gonna walk in there and act like nothing was said- and if he dares to mention it, I can tell him I’m a psycho and therefore not responsible for what my psychotic brain makes me say” she finished breathlessly, and walked regally back to the dining room, smiling brightly at the two men who’d glanced up at her entrance.

Taking a seat at the far end of the table, Cordelia reached out to grab a book and pinned her eyes to it, absolutely refusing to look at the large, pale hand that rested casually on the tabletop. This fixation had to end now! If she was to get any peace of mind, and with the coming night oh so quickly creeping up on them insidiously, she had to find her center… well, maybe a little bed-edge hugging tonight was in order if she were to keep what little sanity she had left!

Angel had watched the industrious brunette with hooded eyes all through the late morning and afternoon, as she’d flitted around the apartment, barely sitting down since she’d got up. The fact that her had eyes refused to meet his made him quickly realize she still hadn’t forgiven him for the night before.

He was also truly grateful that she’d showered before joining them. If he’d had to put up with her earlier arousal attacking his senses, well, lets just say, she would have ended up being manhandled into the bathroom and held under the shower until every trace had been washed away. He would have naturally left her clothed when he’d done it, of course, ‘cos that was just…. hell, he was a vampire, not a robot, for chrissakes! But no doubt her clothes would have become transparent, and what was a vampire to do? Yes, thank the Gods Cordelia enjoyed her showers, that all he could say.

The thought of Wes hammering on the door demanding to know what the hell he was doing wouldn’t have done much for his libido anyway, so maybe he would have been able to manage that little task without totally embarrassing himself and giving the brunette a coronary. All this thinking soon made him realize Cordelia was on his mind far too much to be healthy.

He valued his family jewels, regardless of the fact they’d been left to gather dust since that eye-opener of a night with Buffy Summers. He wondered how bony the brunette’s knees were, and instantly regretted the thought, as a personal version of Cinemax shot into his slowly frying brain: long, golden and going on forever- so not the image he needed right now when self control was as necessary as feeding. No longer being a soulless vampire had it’s disadvantages.

Back in the day, he would have taken what he wanted and blow the repercussions… but then again, Cordelia would have ended up dead or worse; undead like himself.

Angel could imagine too well what kind of vampire the feisty brunette would be, and shuddered in awe and a tinge of fear at the thought. And people thought she had an evil streak now! Shaking himself discreetly, the vampire shrugged that thought out of his head- it was the last thing he wanted; her heat was something he selfishly wanted to keep.

Then there was this thing: Was she actually aware and waiting to drop her knowledge of his dirty little secret at a really, really bad time; or was that muttered comment merely due to her own x-rated dreams? No way would she be sitting there now all seemingly relaxed and casual if she’d known where his fingers had been last night. Stakes would have most likely been somewhere in that particular scenario.

So what was with the sudden hand obsession? Maybe Cordelia had developed this fascination with hands in general? But as he’d covertly watched her all afternoon, it seemed more and more that his hands were the only ones that drew her absorbed attention; never once looking at the Englishman’s – and she did mention his name in that hot little sentence. He’d heard that loud and clear.

Had she been dreaming about him? Could it be possible that he would feature in such a highly erotic dream? And could there be a chance she was attracted as much as he? If vampires had had the ability to flush and sweat profusely, his growing arousal at that thought would be a neon sign to all present- being forever grateful for the cover the table afforded.

So uncomfortable with her presence and his thoughts, he found himself actually relieved when his seer abruptly had a vision minutes later. Not that the relief lasted long as she convulsed with pain and small screams in his confining, protective hold. It seemed their quiet period had come to an end, but it was probably a good idea for him to get out for a while anyway. Sitting around her apartment wasn’t helping clear his head.

Or maybe he should start keeping a journal again? Angel shook his head instantly at that thought as he left her apartment. Cordelia was naturally nosy, and if she ever came across a journal that would most probably end up looking like a personal version of the Karma Sutra… he shuddered at the thought. Nope, he would just have to spend a bit more time away from her home, or else a bit of quality time in the bathroom alone with Mister very, very Frustrated.

Chapter 8

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Sleeping with Tigers 5-6   1 comment

Chapter 5

For the unlife of him, Angel could not keep his eyes from the cute little bundle sitting on the couch

Did she *have* to sit so…so…. casually? One lithe leg thrown over the arm of that lucky couch, the other somehow half-crossed and her head back showing off the very long neck- so flawless his teeth itched.

His eyes slid away from her for what seemed the thousandth time that day, and damn if he wasn’t annoyed with himself

If she caught him, he’d get the raised brow and the “Watcha lookin’ at? wanna picture?” moment he got one of the times he’d genuinely been staring into space- and Cordelia just happened to be occupying that space. Did she own every square inch of the world?

Knowing her, she most likely did. Portfolios being her second favorite word and all- ‘money’ being the first- though not so much now.

She probably had shares in Heaven – and Hell. God help him! No wonder he’d suffered so horribly down there. The sudden image of her dressed like a Dominatrix, brandishing a whip caused him to shift and rearrange the book on his lap.

He was tired; that was it- why else would he be having such strange and twisted thoughts that normally wouldn’t even cross his mind where Cordelia Chase was concerned? But that was before he more or less knew her body pretty intimately- well his chest certainly did!. Hot satin. Good description- and oh, so soft and supple; the plaint to his solidity; yin to his yang…

He let out a sigh, which drew Wesley’s attention and the narrowed, suspicious look on his face realllly made him wanna… but Wes was a friend, and you just didn’t bathe in the blood of friends, did you?

That was the tired talking; there was no way Wes could even guess at the sleeping arrangements in Cordelia’s apartment- and was too busy listening to the outraged little brunette to notice the absence of bedding on the couch yesterday morning. But the way he was looking form himself to Cordelia did make Angel wonder if he was making the big mistake of underestimating the ex Watcher.

Wes looked like he was going to say something, when the door was rapped sharply. All three looked at one another, shrugging and frowning identically. “Yo! Gunn is in the building.”

Cordelia squealed- *squealed* and shot to her feet in a flurry of hair and legs. Angel raised his brows before lowering them in annoyance. She was acting like Gunn’s arrival was the second coming. Then he frowned some more; that word had no place in his head where Cordelia and other men were concerned.

After that arrival, the quiet of the morning was gone. The young black man lounged and smiled widely as he listened to the enthusiastic chat of the bubbling brunette, looking all the world like he’d known her forever- and didn’t that give the vampire craw to swallow. Not that he was jealous, because he would have had to have deeper feelings- feelings that passed the boundaries of friendship. It had to be the protective reaction of a big brother, just looking out for his little sister; that was all.

All he had to do now was convince Mister Happy of that fact.

“I thought I’d venture out into the big wide world today!” Cordelia’s words dragged him back to cold reality and even as his eyes narrowed, his mind located the whereabouts of the cuffs he just knew he’d rescued from his old apartment.

“We’ve talked about this, Cordelia; I still think it’s too soon to think of wandering off by yourself,” Angel kept his tone even yet firm and was graced with a Pfft and an expressive roll of hazel eyes.

“Soon shmoon- and you’ve talked about it, over and over… this little bird is more than ready to fly the coop, Mister Worrypants- and anyway,” her mouth widened into an excited grin, “Gunn here has offered to take me for some eats and show me around the ‘hood’.” Wes snickered at her attempt to speak street, and got a patented glare for his trouble.

“Something to say, Stuffy?” the young man instantly shook his head and dived his nose back into his book; the safest place in the world to be where Cordelia was concerned. “No, no…carry on.” He muttered.

“Good, then it’s settled! Oooh, freedom! So jonesing for some of that.” She dived off the couch and darted to her room, slamming the door behind her. “Dennis? What can I wear?” he voice floated out in the suddenly silent room.

Wes finally cleared his throat and drew the other man’s attention who, so far was unaware of the not so pleasant vibes radiating off the vampire. “So… what will be on your itinerary today?”

“Huh?” Gunn frowned at the man like he’d just climbed out of his spaceship and attempted to speak Alien to the natives.

“Where are you taking Cordelia, Wes meant.” Angel intoned casually, glad that the question had been asked, but dammed if he was going to ask himself.

Charles Gunn shook his head at the English guy and turned his attention to the dark haired hulk spread, comparatively relaxed on the couch.

“Oh, here, there; about. Thought I’d take her to this Taco place they got going in the ‘hood’ where I live- does she like Taco’s” he frowned for a moment then his handsome face cleared. “Yeah, everyone likes those babies.” He stood up the instant the brunette trotted out of her room, “Now that’s what I call sweet!” he eyed the golden length of leg below the thigh-high denim skirt and the gauzy softly draped top that thankfully had a matching opaque camisole beneath it. But Angel was still not at all happy with the tempting picture she made.

“Do you think it wise to walk the streets dressed in such revealing clothes?” Wes got there first, and at the outraged look on the young woman’s face, Angel settled back on the couch quietly.

“I’m figuring you didn’t mean what it sounded like you meant, Wesley Wyndham Pryce, ‘cos if you did, you’re gonna be on the lookout for a couple of new kidneys,” Gunn snorted aloud and stood back to watch.

“It-it was just a figure of speech, Cordelia; not at all meant the way you obviously took it,” he stuttered, his face turning a nice shade of red. Snatching up her purse, Cordelia graced him with one more death ray and walked to the front door.

“Glad we got that sorted. Now I’m outta here- Gunn? Let’s hit the town,” her excited grin returned, and as the young man walked out of the door she held open, she sent one more killing glance at the cringing Englishman and left, with a slam of the door.

“Well…that was rather embarrassing,” Wes tugged at the collar of his shirt. “I have the feeling I got off lightly there.” He glanced over to the still silent vampire, whose dark eyes were pinned on the recently closed door.

“Angel, I’m sure Charles Gunn will take good care of Cordelia,” Wes reassured him firmly. After several seconds of tense silence, the vampire rose to his feet and made his way to the kitchen.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he muttered, low enough not to be picked up on by the other man.

***

Angel glanced at the wall clock for what felt like the millionth time. It was almost nightfall, and still no sign of that annoying little vixen and the young black man. To say he’d been getting a bit too sharp with poor Wes was an understatement, and by now, he could almost see the cogs turning in his intellectual head.

Wesley Wyndham Pryce may be a little naïve in the world of love and women, but he was far from stupid, and Angel knew he was coming across as a petulant lover. Sulking because another sweet tooth might be sucking his sweet little honey-gold lollipop.

The vampire groaned inwardly and wished to the Gods his mind didn’t have that habit of using metaphors that sometimes seemed a little too close to the mark and open to outraged question. Comparing Cordelia to a lollipop was not just dumb it was mouthwateringly suicidal.

Finally! He stood and grabbed his duster the second the sun sank over the horizon, and was in the process of putting it on when he heard laughing behind the front door. Instantly shedding the half on leather, Angel tossed it into the nearby chair and sat back down on the couch, looking all for the world like he hadn’t moved since She’d left.

“That was sooo cool! Gunn, we have GOT to do that again!” Cordelia giggled as she entered the apartment with the young grinning black man who strolled in behind her. “Hey, Wes; Angel- had a good day?” She refused to let the grin drop from her face when she was met with a mumbled “huh uh” from the lump behind a large tome, and the steady dark brown gaze of Mister Suck-The-Life-Outta-Everything.

“Well, we did!” she answered her own question and went on to regale the two other men with their escapades of the day, dropping her purse on the side and shedding the engulfing denim jacket she now wore, handing it to Gunn with an even bigger grin.

“We went to the hood and he introduced me to some of his homies, and we even hung out at his crib…totally cool!” Angel raised a brow at her turns of phrase whilst Wes lifted his head from his book and sat there staring at her with his mouth gaping open. “Whassup, Wes?” Cordelia walked over and lifted his chin up with a finger. His jaw snapped shut and he blinked. Whassup? And it got worse!

Wes was always rather pole axed and cringed when it came to how the American people massacred the English language. Centuries of fine tuning it to the point of musical and poetic, stripped down to ‘yo’s’ and ‘homies’.

“Careful Wes, I see drool- so not attractive.” Cordelia moved back and plunked herself on the couch, bouncing the cushions and causing the book Angel had hastily grabbed, to slide off his lap. “Oopsie; did I lose your page?” she grabbed it and opened it, “What number…. oh, no numbers; how uncool -and totally stupid!” Shrugging carelessly she left it where it was opened to and dropped it back into his lap, causing Angel to flinch as the heavy book connected with his tender parts, shutting it and leaning forward to place it on the coffee table.

“Come and sit down, Gunn; plenty of room- if tall, dark and silent shifts his pasty ass a bit,” Cordelia shoved up and used her hip to push at the Vampire’s, who moved without taking his startled eyes from her averted face. Satisfied she’s made enough room, she patted the empty cushion with a sunny smile.

“Yup, take the load off, gotta tell ya, Girl can shift out there,” Gunn accepted the offer and dropped into the seat, causing Cordelia to almost end up in Angel’s lap. With an quick apologetic grin, she slotted herself between them.

“I feel like a ham sandwich,” she giggled, and glared at Wes who muttered, “Well, you know where the kitchen is”. Har har, funny guy.” She turned to look up at the still-silent vampire with a quizzical expression.

“Did you two go on some kind of ancient dig today?” Angel frowned down at her confused.

“I think you mean archaeological dig,” Wes murmured patronizingly and received a stink eye.

“Yeah, Whatever,” she replied, glancing at Gunn and rolling her eyes expressively, causing his face to split into a wide grin.

“Can I ask what drove you to ask such a nonsensical question, Cordelia?” Wes just had to ask, didn’t he?

“Oh, just wondered if that’s where you unearthed the fossilized remains of your humor, stuffy.” Cordelia replied, her sharp reply reminding Wes abruptly that, although Cordelia Chase sometime acted like a ditz, her brain was as sharp as a tack.

Angel couldn’t help the small smile that touched his face at her snarky comments and caught the brunette’s attention. “Ooooh, I’d watch out there, big guy; the cracks are showin’.” The smile disappeared abruptly just as Gunn shook his head and got lazily to his feet, stretching high before turning to look down. The vampire stifled the growl when the girl’s eyes lingered on the brief flash of rich skin as the young man’s top separated from his low-slung pants.

“Well time to hit the streets in a way that don’t include cotton candy and wolf whistles, Barbie.” Gunn winked at the brunette before glancing at the other men. “Got me some wood to sharpen and put out. Later,” with another grin, Gunn made his way towards the front door.

Cordy immediately shot to her feet, and in her haste to show her new friend out, tripped over one of the vampire’s feet, her dark head inches from hitting the coffee table in front until two powerful arms grabbed her and pulled her back. Her balance still compromised, she ended up perched in his lap.

“Really, Cordelia, you are an accident just waiting to happen,” Wes shook his head, glancing at Gunn and nodding again pleasantly. “It was nice to see you again Mister Gunn,” he replied politely.

“Just Gunn; don’t wanna sound like no ass face lawyer dude,” he corrected easily, clicked his tongue and lifted a hand as he turned.

All three watched him exit and close the door behind him lightly, and then Cordelia realized to her mortification that her ass was a little close to parts that would remain forever pushed down into the recesses – but obviously not Angel’s… seemed someone was feeling a little perky today!

“Oops!” scrambling out of his lap, Cordelia walked swiftly to the kitchen. “Drinks on the way.” She called as she made her exit, her face flushing prettily, leaving Angel to grab the book and shove it back in his lap, and Wes to shake his head in disbelief at the little whirlwind that had came, conquered and left in not so much of a wave of glory.

“A complete and utter mystery,” he muttered under his breath, going back to his book and settling back into his chair with a sigh.

Angel kept his eyes on the kitchen archway, shifting uncomfortably at being found out in a not so private moment of a Mister Happy appearance; this couldn’t go on. He knew that- but what the hell was he supposed to do about it?

Maybe it was time to step up his search for another abode before things became too volatile between him and the gorgeous brunette who was slowly driving him crazy.

“After the nightmares”, he promised himself, and then he would start looking. Mister Happy instantly became depressed at the thought of moving out and away from Little Miss Hot’n’Wet.


Chapter 6

The rest of the evening went like a bomb- the kind that could explode at any moment, and Wesley Wyndham Pryce wished he were anywhere but in Cordelia’s apartment right now.

The brunette in question seemed oblivious to the charged atmosphere, and the discreetly sulking vampire; maybe that was a bit strong- change that to being deep in thought? Even as he did so, Wes had a feeling he was right with his first description.

He would have had to be completely deaf and blind not to have picked up on the subtle shift in the last couple of days, and he had to wonder what had caused it, as for two weeks previous, all had been quite calm after the storm they’d endured.

Angel seemed a little tense the past few days, and surprisingly tired-looking, and although Cordelia seemed her usual bubbly self, there was a tinge of discomfort that reared its head whenever within touching distance of the vampire. What had changed? That he couldn’t be sure about. Fair enough, those two had always been so close; familial in fact.

He’d picked that up as soon as he’d seen them together that first time since Sunnydale. And that dreadful incident with the demon pregnancy had shown him a side to the vampire Wes never wanted to experience again. Gentle and supportive towards Cordelia, but out of her range his eyes had shot fire, his broad shoulders tensed with restrained violence. He often wondered how that Christopher guy had fared when Angel had caught up with him.

Today had been a catalyst, and now the English man found all his questions answered in just a few hours of being stuck in the same apartment with the pacing and tense vampire. Angel was the victim of that sometime evil taskmaster, Love, and although Angelus was no longer a threat, it didn’t ease Wes’ worries at all. Cordelia, he reckoned, was oblivious to the subtle signs, and for that he was partly relieved: a nineteen-year-old human woman-child, and a 240-plus vampire… not a good combination at all, in his personal opinion.

Something else he’d picked up on. Yesterday morning when he’d arrived at such a godforsaken time, even through Cordelia’s ranting, he half noticed the lack of bedding on the couch. Now some could say that the vampire was an early riser- and that could be the reason for his tiredness and seeming irritation lately; but no. His own usual arrival time of nine o’clock would often find the Vampire answering the door straight from his makeshift bed. Another thing bugged him too.

Before Cordelia had espied his additions to their newly forming library, he could have sworn he saw anxiety and embarrassment in those hazel depths at his early arrival- plus she had been dressed, which in itself was somewhat a miracle. Normally the brunette wouldn’t surface from her room until at least a few hours before lunch, and even then would exit in her night garments and robe

Something definitely was up, but his fearful mind just couldn’t even formulate his suspicions inwardly, never mind put into a verbal question. Was it his business anyway? This was what he had to decide before an attempt was made to find out what the hell was going on in this apartment in his absence.

Cordelia’s attempts to stifle her yawns dragged him out of his contemplations, and he belatedly realized it was fast approaching midnight. Her first adventure from the apartment since she’d arrived home from the hospital had obviously caught up with her, and with a decisive snap of his book, Wesley surged to his feet.

“Well, I don’t know about you two, but my eyes are rather tired, so I think that is my cue to get off home.” He pronounced diplomatically, and was sure he caught an expression of relief briefly flitting across the vampire’s face.

“Well, must admit I’m pretty whacked myself; long day,” Cordelia agreed with a sigh, rising up from her place on the couch, “I’ll get your coat, Wes.” She offered, walking over to the coat stand where, for once, he’d hung it instead of its usual place amid the piles of growing books.

Angel remained on his own on the couch, head still dipped in seeming concentration on the book in his lap, only glancing up with a “See you Tomorrow, Wes”, before dropping his head back down and leaving Cordelia to open the door as the ex-Watcher juggled a few books in his arms.

Wes let his own sigh of relief puff out when the door closed behind him, glad to leave the tension-filled room, not realizing how bad it was until the weight of it dropped from him when stepping across the lawn towards his motorbike.

This was something he needed to deal with in his own way; observe and absorb until he was sure of his suspicions- then decide if he had the right to verbalize his misgivings. That decided, he strapped the books securely, put on his helmet and rode off into the night

***

Cordelia turned from the door with her own sigh. “Dennis? Could you put the kettle on, please?” she asked with a smile, and grinned even more when she heard the sound of the tap coming on.

Walking over until she stood directly in front of the sitting, silent vampire, she tilted her dark head. “You want some red goodness, Angel?” his grunt made her frown. What was his problem? So she asked.

“That’s a pretty big bee you got in your bonnet, broody; wassup?” his head jerked up at that and finally met her eyes. Clueless as ever- that was a good thing in a way, as he himself really had no real idea why he was being so grumpy.

Yes he did. Gunn was something he possibly never would be; street smart, able to take care of himself and an ability to protect his loved ones, yeah, Angel matched him and more on those areas. But, Gunn was the one thing he may or may not ever be: human. Some would say that with the news of his coming Shanshu, that was a moot point. But Cordelia could be long cold in her grave by the time that major event happened.

“Nothing,” his single reply only aggravated her more. She tried to recall when the vampire became more broody than usual, and slowly it dawned on her that it had started shortly after Charles Gunn had arrived.

“Is it Gunn? Doncha like him?” her hands crept up onto her hips, pulling his dark gaze to the barely-there skirt she still wore, and his own scowl deepened.

“I have no problem with him, no,” he answered truthfully- well, it was partly true, anyway! He’d always admired the young black man, and he’d come through for him at some pretty bad times; nope, he liked him… just didn’t like his seer’s seeming interest in him.

“So why the grouchy face? Lucky for you Gunn didn’t notice, or you would have put his nose outta joint, what with you making him feel unwelcome in MY home.” Her emphasis on that word stiffened his spine.

“Well, I’ll make sure to find another one just as soon as I can since I’m cramping your style so much,” her eyes widened, then narrowed with annoyance.

“Don’t be facetious, Angel. And if you’re gonna get all hurty feelings every time I have my say, god know how you’ll survive in the long run, cos that’s just the way I am.” she folded her arms across her chest, unknowingly propping up her full breasts and drawing his gaze from her face. “Thought you woulda known that fact by now.” Hearing the kettle boil and bubble, Cordelia turned away from him and stalked into the kitchen.

By the time she’d poured the hot water into her mug, Angel had followed her in and stood a few feet away, his large hands hidden in his pockets. “Wanna drink?” she asked again, glancing over her shoulder in time to see him shake his head.

“I’m sorry,” he finally spoke, but his voice showed anything but apology. Turning round fully, Cordelia clutched her coffee mug and walked over to the kitchen table, but didn’t sit down, merely placed her drink on the Formica top.

“Just say it, Angel, cos, hello? Not as much time as you to wait for you to spit it out.” Folding her arms tightly across her chest again. Angel clenched his hands into fists in his pockets and thought about how to put his feelings of concern into words.

“I just don’t want you hanging around with a guy like Gunn” he finally stated baldy, wincing at the shocked expression on her face.

Cordelia pursed her lips and eyed him caustically before speaking.

“Is it cus he is black?” she asked just as baldly, her way of speaking reminding him again of the day she’d spent with the street talking young man.

“God, no! I-I just meant-“he denied instantly, surprised she’d even think that would cross his mind. Her eyes turned calculating as she deliberately weighed her next words.

“Look, If I happen like a little color in my men, well damn, It has nothing to do with you,” Cordelia cringed inwardly as her own words echoed in the room.

Yeah, she liked Gunn, but hadn’t considered him as more than a friend- and not because of his color; that had nothing to do with attraction whatever the race or color the opposite sex happened to be. But Angel had a nerve! What other reason would he have a problem with it? Sometimes she forgot just how ancient and sometimes old-worldly he actually was.

“I bet he wouldn’t mind having a little color in you, either” Angel muttered under his breath, then swallowed hard, hoping the brunette had not heard that, then groaned when her eyes widened almost comically.

“What did you just say?” her voice a whisper as his comment soaked into her stunned brain. He did NOT just go there!

“Nothing” he denied. Taking a step back instinctively. Fuck, he’d really done it now; Angel the most socially inept being on the planet.

“It didn’t sound like nuthin to me” she returned coldly, ice forming over her beautiful eyes, “And you can just set yo ‘white’ pasty, racist ass on the couch tonight, and think of ‘nuthin’ all night long” she added, forgetting her fresh drink and stalking out of the kitchen, pushing him out of the way as she did so.

Angel stared after her rapidly retreating form, debating what to do next, then sighed heavily; looked like his brief sojourn in her bed had come to an end- at least for tonight, anyway… and as the thought entered his mind, he swallowed again even as he tensed.

Cordelia kicking him out of bed and they weren’t even a couple yet. The ‘yet’ jolted him and he sank slowly into a seat at the table and reached for her discarded drink.

God, was he in trouble!

Cordelia slammed her door and huffed her way over to her bed where she threw herself across it and cursed the already cursed vampire. Well, what’s one more to add to it? She decided angrily. Then it sank in what she’d more of less said a few minutes before.

She had kicked him out of her bed and they weren’t even a couple yet. The ‘yet’ jolted her whole body, and her hands fisted her covers as she hid her burning face in a pillow, groaning when his all male scent hit her in delicious waves.

God, was she in trouble!

Chapter 7

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Sleeping with Tigers 3-4   1 comment

Chapter 3

The air was rent with a shrill scream, and Angel bolted upright. All senses alert, his eyes taking in every corner of the dark room, before darting down to rest on the heaving bundle still under the covers.

In an instant, the covers were ripped off and a writhing brunette was hauled into his arms.

A low, soft voice penetrated Cordelia’s tortured mind, pulling her away from the demon tearing her apart limb by limb. The low, soft voice soothed and reassured her that everything was okay and… safe.

Blurry hazel eyes opened and looked into concerned brown. Her tired and distraught mind only aware of the strong arms that wrapped around her and the soft voice that rolled on and on, sleep crept back gently, until her eyes fluttered closed and her taut body relaxed into his.

Angel stared down at the sleeping and now relaxed face of his Seer, and tenderness welled up as he gently stroked away slow-to-dry tears that mapped her golden skin. Settling back down on the mattress, he tucked her close to his body and smoothed her spine in long slow sweeps. Her hands clutched at his shoulders and a long supple leg lifted to hook around his hip as she nuzzled her face into his throat.

It took a long while before the vampire found sleep once again, warmer than he’d ever been in a looong time, and aching with a feeling he couldn’t put a name to for the vulnerable brunette held close to his body

***

Oh, crap. That sentence just kept rolling around her rather refreshed brain, and refused to go away.

Waking up wrapped around a sleeping vampire akin to the latest fashion blanket was a good enough reason to think those two words. Oh. Crap. Yup, her day had just started on a low note.

Easing away an inch at a time seemed to work pretty well, and eventually freedom was found. Scooting across the mattress, Cordelia crept out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom, where she let out a big breath of relief and sagged against the wall.

The fact that her t-shirt was in the region of her throat, and her naked beasts had been flattened to a wall of solid muscle was also more than enough reason to keep on saying those words. In fact, she intended on thinking them all through the day until they made no sense whatsoever.

Tea for Wes: oh, crap, researching until she went blind; oh, crap- sneaking glances at the vampire who’d leeched her body heat all night; oh, crap!. The best – or possibly worst words in the world to describe her feelings right now.

Humming a tune to them, Cordelia washed, rinsed and repeated with her shampoo and conditioner, and put off the inevitable returning to her room where she’d stupidly left a fresh change of clothes. She could only hope Angel slept like that log she talked about so enthusiastically yesterday- that terrible day when her mouth ran away with her and put her in that crappy position in the first place.

A day to mark in her diary in big red letters: The day I opened my big mouth, Angel slept with me, and I found the poetic meaning to the words, Oh, Crap!. Yup, that said it all.

By the time she’d plucked up the courage to return to her shaded room, the two words had finally begun to make no sense whatsoever, and other thoughts popped in instead- thoughts she refused to take heed of for fear of her barely held sanity. Relieved to find Angel the proverbial log; in fact, looking deader than a doornail- a very handsome looking doornail, but still…. Get your mind out of that bad place, Cordelia Chase, and get your clothes NOW!

Grabbing her things for the day, she retreated back to the bathroom and dressed like a tornado in Texas, then crept back out and through her room to the relative safety of the lounge. Just as she got to the kitchen, a soft rapping made her jump a mile, and when she peeled herself off the ceiling, she realized the sound was coming from the front door.

“Wes! You’re… bright and early!” And, oh, crap, there’s a vampire in my bed. she smiled a bit too brightly and double checked his face to make sure she hadn’t said that out loud; nope, still clueless, which was usual for the brainiac with an F in male-female interaction.

“Yes, I am rather- also, I am well on my way to a slipped disc if you don’t let me in right…now.” It was then she noticed the pile of books he almost lovingly held to his chest like he had a Jones the size of his country. Her hands went to her hips and she refused to budge from her place directly in front of the struggling Rogue Demon Hunter.

“No way in hell are you setting foot in my home with yet more grubby, probably mite-infested books, buster, so you can turn around and take that little hiney of yours back to your little den.” The tight line of her mouth melted when she was bodily lifted and moved to the side.

Her lips parted in a mixture of shock and annoyance on seeing the vampire reaching out to relieve the man of his merchandise and retreat back into her shadowed apartment. Swiveling on her heel, Cordelia stalked after the vampire and poked him repeatedly in his back as he made his way to her already overloaded coffee table and put them down,

“Get those stinky books outta my home right now! I swear this apartment is gonna smell like Dennis’ mother- sorry Dennis, if you keep bringing more and more-” her jabbing weapon-finger was grabbed firmly when he abruptly turned and faced her blandly.

“Good morning to you too,” Angel watched for a moment as she struggled to retrieve her finger, and after seeing the color of temper start to rise in her delicate face, her released her just as abruptly and walked around her. “Morning, Wes.” With an almost growl, Cordelia surveyed the books with a death ray glare, and when they didn’t sizzle and turn to ashes, she turned it on the men before stalking to the kitchen in a huff.

“Looks like someone got out of bed the wrong side this morning,” Wes commented, his voice floating into the kitchen and bringing those two little words back to the surface, and she oh, crapped her way through the entire process of preparing coffee, blood and tea, resisting the temptation to put chili powder in the latter two with great difficulty.

One good thing; at least said vampire was in the land of nod when she’d availed herself of his big body. For such a chiseled, hard frame, he made a good mattress, and didn’t that just make her feel so much better! That called for at least one addition to his blood, and Cordelia eased her conscience by telling herself at least it wasn’t her original added extra.

Scooping up the tray with three cups balanced perfectly, she gathered herself and exited the kitchen to find them ensconced in the dining area, knee-deep in books [as usual].

“Hot, wet goodness; what a way to start the day- even if it IS 7am,” throwing a pointed look at the Englishman, which was wasted as he didn’t even bother looking higher than the tea cup when he reached for it with a murmured thanks. Angel reached for his mug, took a sip and shuddered.

“It’s gone bad” Angel grimaced as he peered down into the mug as he took a quick sniff, then gave the brunette a suspicious look. Was this revenge for aiding and abetting Wes, he wondered?

“What?” Cordelia asked distractedly as she swallowed a sip of her own morning drink.

“It’s coagulated… See” Angel showed her the mug, where lumps floated on the surface of the steaming blood.

“No, that’s cinnamon!” Her eyebrows raised a little as she pinned him with a slight glare. “Do you think I would give you bad blood?” she demanded, affronted. Instantly, Angel adopted the patented puppy dog expression glanced at the mug.

“No! I just… Cinnamon?” he asked, his deep voicing rising a touch, which sounded rather strange, and any other time would have made her giggle and wind him up rotten. But not this time, uh-uh!

“And you said it’s gone bad. Do you think I don’t make sure my friend has food that hasn’t gone past it’s drink-by-date?” Cordelia was getting pissed now- fair enough, she’d done it partly… well, completely to annoy him- but bad blood? What kind of friend did he think she was?

Angel didn’t have a chance to look horrified as he watched the brunette dip her finger into the mug, swirl it around before popping that finger between her lips. Both Angel and Wesley were stunned into silence as Cordelia sucked the blood from her finger.

Oh God! That stuff was just… well, it should be outlawed. She struggled to keep herself from gagging at the cold, bitter taste that now lingered on her tongue.

“See?” Cordelia forced a grin onto her lips, “fresh as the day the pig was squealing in its death throes.” Then her mouth turned down at the thought. “Poor piggy,” she added softly, then casually sauntered from the room – and hightailed it to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth and use copious amounts of mouthwash.

“Well…. that was educational,” Wes murmured, clearing his throat and removing his glasses to wipe away imaginary dust as his mind absorbed the total awe of seeing an insight into a potential Cordelia-shaped vampire.

“Definitely.” Angel’s eyes were still glued to the archway that the brunette had walked through a second earlier, still reeling from the sight of a bloody finger going into her mouth and being sucked dry by those perfect pink lips.

That young woman amazed him every single moment, and with each little quirk, he found himself falling deeper under her spell. Cordelia Chase was a witch, a temptress, and must be stopped at all costs- or this vampire was going to end up snatching her up and keeping her for himself for a long, long time!

Then his mouth quirked as he distinctly heard her hewing and icking in the bathroom over the rush of tap water. What a woman! Every vampire should own one. When his mind took a diversion and started thinking of other things she could do with that mouth, Angel realized he had to get a grip and remember that that woman was also the closest thing to family he had, and he must not, under any circumstances, imagine her mouth wrapped around lower parts of his anatomy. He grimaced and shifted subtly; glad the brunette was taking her time returning.

Five minutes went by before Cordelia entered the dining area, her smile in place and exuding mint like over-used perfume. Wes sniffed the air and sent her a sly look.

“Rather nice air freshener, Cordelia,” Wes coughed theatrically, “but using a whole tin is overkill, wouldn’t you say?” Angel darted the brunette a quick look, waiting for a mini explosion, as she was wont to do on occasion with the young man, but was surprised to see her mouth remaining relaxed- and closed.

Cordelia kept a bland expression on her face with amazing control and reached for a book. “Maybe we’ll forget the cinnamon in future, Angel; sticks to the roof of your mouth, doesn’t it?” she commented, her hazel eyes pretending interest in the cramped text on the page she’d opened to.

I am sooo mature! Kudos to me. she stifled a victory grin at the scowl on Wesley’s face and attempted to keep her eyes from crossing as the gobbledygook on the page glared sluggishly back at her.

After getting a warning look from the vampire opposite, Wes let the subject drop, and began an intense and excruciatingly boring description of the Demon of the Day. Okay, eyes were definitely crossing now, but Cordelia couldn’t really complain, as the day took a turn to their brand of normality and all sleeping arrangements and oh, craps were tucked away- until that night, anyway.


Chapter 4

Ahh, there go the walls; up up up. Angel watched discreetly as the brunette became more and more antsy and quiet as the sun dipped below the horizon, and this time, before Wes had even suggested calling it a night, Cordelia had said her goodnights and scooted to the relative safety of her room.

Shortly after that, Wes decided their discussion might keep her awake and prepared to leave, which was no mean feat as he was practically surrounded by large books. With Angel’s help he was finally able to make his way into the lounge and stretched until his back popped before searching for his jacket.

That took several minutes, but was eventually found wedged between yet more books. With a rather anxious and guilty look around the beleaguered lounge, Wes wondered aloud if he should attempt to tidy up a little before leaving.

“No, that’s okay, Wes; I’ll clean up before going to bed.” Wes nodded as he took in the pile of books littering the large couch.

“It doesn’t really look as if you have much of a choice, since your ‘bed’ is rather cluttered,” he observed quietly, and then straightened up and made his way towards the door. “I’ll leave you too it then- if you’re sure you don’t want me to assist?” At the shake of the vampire’s head, Wes made his escape, his mind already on a certain book he still had at home.

Angel double checked the locks behind the man and then turned to regard the untidy room with expressionless eyes. His acute hearing picked up the soft spray of the shower and decided it was best to delay his arrival just a little longer to at least give Cordelia a chance to get ready and pop into their bed…. Nope – her bed..

“That’s right; keep reminding yourself of that,” he muttered as he began the gargantuan task of clean up duties.

By the time all the books but the relevant ones were piled besides the crammed book case, the shower had long turned off and silence met his ears… well, almost silence; Angel could hear her hammering heart from where he stood at the far end of the lounge. Taking time to straighten the dining area into some semblance of order, he was feeling a little less guilty about the sleeping arrangement he’d more or less forced on the brunette- the slower pace of her heart helped with that.

Opening the door softly, Angel was relieved to find her heartbeat remained steady, and almost chickened out to instead return to the couch; but recalling the night before; he closed the door and silently walked towards the bathroom. On re-emerging when he’d finished showering, he found the little lump hugging one side had graduated towards the middle, and with a small sigh, he walked round to his side and carefully pulled aside the covers.

Bending over her sleeping form, Angel gently scooped her up ready to move her over, but the plan backfired when her arms immediately wrapped around his neck almost making him lose his balance. Great. Now what did he do? So much for decorum!

Easing his knees on the bed one at a time, Angel settled down on his side and rearranged her limbs until she was comfortably tucked into his body, their final position not unlike the night before. He had to admit that he kind of liked sharing her body heat- and as long as her flesh remained covered through the night, he was sure he could cope.

Waking up at the crack of dawn and slowly becoming aware that her full breasts were literally stuck to his chest without the modesty of her t-shirt, had come as a shock. That it was a very pleasant shock had had the effect of Mister Happy making an unexpected appearance, but even though Angel had attempted to peel her off him, she’d merely tightened her arms around his neck and flexed that golden leg over his hip until Mister happy eagerly nestled against her lower belly.

He was surprised to find sleep crept back over him, and had a few anxious moments when finding himself alone and wondering if Cordelia had noticed the hard time he’d been having. But, beside the odd look of discomfort, Angel had seen no sign of mortification on her lovely face.

Settling down, he unconsciously cradled her nape and assisted her in her search for the best spot for her face against his neck, and willed Mister Happy to be a good boy and stay down. As he drifted off to sleep, the thought of maybe purchasing a large teddy bear for her popped in his drowsy mind- then was expelled instantly at the thought of said teddy bear getting the heat and attention she was bestowing on him

***

Angel was awoken abruptly yet again as the warmth he was cocooned in disappeared when Cordelia’s body pulled roughly away. His eyes snapped open to find her thrashing under the covers, which soon fell away as she tugged and finally kicked away her pajama bottoms.

When her frantic hands went for her t-shirt, movement kicked in and the vampire loomed over her to grab her hands. The long length of golden legs that went on forever ended with a tiny pair of black silk panties. The sight of her tanned flesh contrasting with one of his two favorite colors was more than enough for him thank you very much.

As soon as his hands latched onto her wrists, Cordelia freaked out even more. “Get it off meeee!” she wailed, pulling at his grip on her until Angel finally released them and instead grabbed her in a bear hug.

Rolling onto his back and taking her with him, he softly soothed her until, eventually she calmed down, shuddering in reaction- but her eyes stayed firmly shut. Angel marveled how Cordelia could sleep through such an obviously traumatic nightmare, but on thinking of it, taking into account her serious lack of sleep over the past few weeks, it wasn’t really that strange, he supposed. The weight of what she’d been dealing with alone hit him, breathing slowly but heavily Angel felt his chest ache for her. Stubborn, beautiful, vixen Cordy; always thinking she had to go it alone.

When she finally settled against his chest, Angel took stock of their new position. Things were not looking good. Maybe if her t-shirt wasn’t wrapped around her waist it wouldn’t have been so compromising; with this in mind, he eased the fabric down until it covered her to the tops of her thighs, then turned back on his side and settled her into her usual position with only a murmured complaint before draping herself over him and relaxed.

With a deep sigh, Angel closed his eyes, eternally grateful for the sweats he wore.

***

Angel stared sightlessly at the thin thread of light that made its way across the ceiling and contemplated the things he’d sacrificed for the sanity of his Seer and not to mention the chance to sleep in a comfortable bed. He sighed heavily, and looked at the dark head resting on his shoulder, face burrowed into his throat.

Well, for a start he’d lost what little privacy he had left. Not to mention total control over his body. The face, well…he’d got that down pat, and no one could beat him when it came to an implacable, unreadable mask that he wore pretty much all of the time. Stillness was also something he had down to a fine art, and most of the time, his voice came out at just the right tone and level he wanted.

But that was easy; that was above the waist!

Waking up to find his seer again plastered to his chest, somehow managing to move his big body onto its back remained a mystery. Nobody moved him when he slept. Which meant his body had betrayed him. That was completely unacceptable. Skin melded to skin from the waist up and when he dared to look along her supine body, it was pretty obvious why he could feel every inch of her torso.

That damned t-shirt had ridden up yet again and her breasts were now flattened against his chest. A tattoo Angel hadn’t even been aware of, graced her lower back, and its rich colors beckoned him. Beckoned him to look lower, where that scrap of black silk Cordelia dared to call underwear rode low on her hips and revealed an incredible, equally golden ass. This girl definitely sunbathed nude; no question about it.

Angel groaned silently, and attempted to ignore the way erect shaft nudged and pulsed low against her belly. One more inch and Mister Happy would have hit pay dirt and met Little Miss Hot’n’Wet on the brink of something that would most definitely change everything between them.

The groan slipped out involuntarily when the little sleeping vixen slid up that inch, one leg curling high to flank his waist. Jeeezus! Time to move before he liked this new position a little too much. Trouble was, his betraying skunk of a body wouldn’t comply. Gritting his teeth, Angel eased her thigh down and went through the motions of gathering up the too-hot, tight, luscious and lithe body and eventually succeeded in pulling down that t-shirt, sliding her onto her back with only a few compromising moments that had made his head explode. The head in question had no right even going there.

Rolling off the bed, he trod stealthily to the bathroom, refusing to look at the wanton pose the brunette now lay in; arms splayed out and one thigh bent at an angle that just begged him to dive in. He looked- and moaned. When the door shut behind him, he rested against it with his eyes closed; snapping them open when the image engraved on his retinas became even clearer.

Cold shower; yup, a cold shower was the answer to all of his problems. Once in there, the icy spray running down his chest and body, the vampire looked hopefully down. Nope, still there.

Go away! he prayed- actually prayed for this stark pointer to his arousal to take a hike, disappear desist and deflate. He sighed again. It had been a while since spanking monkeys had been an issue; Hell kinda did that to you, but a vampire’s gotta do what a vampire’s gotta do.

It was either that or hide in the bathroom for the rest of the morning. His start to the day just couldn’t get any worse…he hoped.

Chapter 5

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Sleeping with Tigers. 1-2   Leave a comment

Title: Sleeping with Tigers          
Author: Califi
Posted:
Email
Rating:
Category: humour, growing romance. very slushy/silly in parts, but meh.
Content: C/A
Summary: Cordelia is suffering from insomnia, and she receives an offer she cannot refuse.  ~ Cheesy fluff, I know, but dairy is unfortunately my limit. *g*
Spoilers: S1 just after TSiLA
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes: Cos I can’t be bothered with finding a way, I decided that Willow closed the loophole, but B/A still didnt work as at the end of the day, B couldn’t get over Aus, or the fact that Angel was a vampire. It is unrealistic to many that Angel and Cordelia could develop in this timeline, but it’s purely a fluffy, hopefully funny fic, and if you are looking for perfection- don’t bother reading my fics. 😉
Thanks/Dedication:Big thanks to Frazi & Scorch for talking me into this, and their support in helping me and encouraging me in my effort to be able to write again. and DamnSkippy for my faboo ficpic,Love you all, mwah! & licks.
Feedback:

 


Chapter 1

Yet one more night of crappy insomnia- just great! Cordelia dragged her strained eyes from the ceiling above her bed and groaned at the relentless ache behind her lids.

How long could this go on? The guys were already looking at her weirdly and if they didn’t stop asking how she was, Cordy swore she’d either commit hare Kari or stab one of them to death…. a wooden object for her resident vampire; splinter him to death maybe?

Well, she couldn’t lie here all day, and Wes would no doubt be around in a little while- maybe a few gallons of coffee and a brain enema would help? With this in mind, Cordy threw back the covers and dragged her tired body out of bed. Sneaking a peek round the door, she was glad to find dark and seriously broody was nowhere in sight.

“You’re up early.” Damnit!. Cordy swiveled on her heel and turned to face the shadow that detached itself from the corner of her lounge.

“Sleep well?” he asked all nonchalant as he was wont to do and she grinned her widest smile, which made him almost flinch with the brightness of it.

“Like the proverbial log, Angel,” her smile dimmed a little at the instant narrowing of those too-dark eyes; eyes that could suck you in and make you pray for rescue…. or not- so not going there, she thought with a gulp.

“You still look a little tired and it’s pretty early; why not grab a few more hours,” he suggested, his face a nice shade of blank. He did it sooo well.

Turning back to the kitchen with a noticeably straighter spine, Cordy walked in and switched on the light. “I’m not tired! I went to bed early last night, what with no visions to slice ‘n’ dice my brain,” she kept her voice light, not bothering to turn around as she knew he’d followed her in, like a sentinel that never took a vacation.

“Coffee? Or the red stuff?” Reaching above for the cabinet door, she nearly jumped out of her skin when a large pale hand got there first. “Will you stop doing that?” she groused, now aware that he stood directly behind her and swearing blind he was out to wear her down and tell him all. Well, he had another think coming!

“It’s only been two weeks, so naturally you’re still going to feel a little shaken, Cor”

Cor? the shortening of her name by the usually stoic vampire had her spinning round- then regretting the move as her unbound breasts under her thin T-Shirt brushed against his hard chest. His staying in her apartment offer seemed to be coming back to bite her – in a way she’d never have thought possible. Well, not since finding out in sunnyhell that he wasn’t human, anyway. that had kinda squished her crush instantly.

But things had changed after she’d bumped into him in LA. Got to know him and looked beyond the surface…

It had to be a form of cabin fever. Had to be. Snapping her mouth shut, she lifted her hands and pushed…. Mount Etna had nothing on this wall of rock! “Angel! Human. Need to breath here,” relieved when he finally stepped back.

“And please stop with the mother hen routine. DiD I’m definitely not,” she told him with tilt of her chin before turning back to the worktop.

“DiD?” and if he didn’t move forward again! Had he ever heard of a personal bubble?

“You know; Damsel in Distress- and this kitchen? Not exactly big on space” hoping he hadn’t picked up on the slight hitch of her breath. “So go sit or something.” Flicking a quick look over her shoulder, Cordy blew out a silent sigh of relief to find he’d moved.

As she prepared the coffee and blood, Angel sat back and observed the brunette silently.

He would have had to be blind not to have noticed the dark shadows that grew daily under his Seer’s eyes, and he knew he was crowding her. He knew because it was deliberate.

Cordelia Chase was not sleeping. Ever since that gut-wrenching two days of endless visions, she hadn’t slept much at all. Her refusal to talk to them – him, hurt a lot. So all he had left was his inherent intimidation tactics. Aware that most humans hated to be crowded; especially his seer, it turned out to be a bonus.

Soon, she’d crack, and when she did, he was prepared to pick up the pieces and soothe her pretty little ass off. He could do that. And no, there were no ulterior motives at all – couldn’t a friend be there for another friend?

Forget that. Cordy was the family he no longer had.

It had taken nearly losing her for the vampire to realize just how important she was in his life – and nothing would ever get in the way of that again. So into his thoughts, Angel missed the quiet approach of the woman in question, actually jumping a little at the soft thud of a mug being placed in front of him.

“Wow! I’m gonna mark this down in my Book of Amazing Feats.” She grinned, plopping herself in the seat opposite him. “Me making you nearly lose your skin. Now you know how it feels, maybe you’ll not do it to me, hmm?” with a pointed lift of a nicely arched brow, Cordy lifted her mug to take a sip.

Always smiling. No matter what you threw at her, she eventually came with that delicious megawatt smile that turned men into puddles of mush. And made vampire’s like him want to keep her forever…beautiful breasts and all. Bad thoughts, Angel. Although, to be fair, it was her fault for reminding him intimately of that fact lately, what with sharing the same living space, which lead to regular sights of her parading round in night clothes. Casual they may be, but giving adequate cover? That would definitely be a no.

“Hello? Earth to Angel. Are you brooding?” Cordy asked with amusement, waving a hand in front of his preoccupied. face.

“No, I’m just…” He attempted to think of a reply that wouldn’t get her back up.

“Brooding. Yeah, I get that. Gotta do at least ten hours a day of it, huh?” Cordy ignored the warning look he threw her way and giggled softly into her coffee.

“Still having nightmares?” his blunt question threw her for a loop and for a moment she floundered like a fish on land.

“What? I don’t have nightmares any more. Have to sleep to-” uh oh. That’s right, Miss foot-in-mouth! Angel instantly leaned forward, his mouth set in a thin line.

“I knew it.” his tone was as dark as his handsome face right now, and Cordy gulped a little before leaning back in her chair.” Suddenly she felt like a butterfly squirming on a pin.

“I am so sleeping! I just meant…” she trailed off wracking her brains for a way to turn her words around.

“I just meant like-like – that log I was telling you about! Logs don’t dream, do they?” she pulled out a special smile- the smile of ‘you just gotta believe me so you forget what I said’.

Crappity crap! It wasn’t working.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Cordelia?” Uh-oh, back to the full name; that did not bode well.

“It’s no biggie,” hiding behind her coffee cup worked for all of five seconds, until his hand reached out and took it away. Her bottom lip pooched out, but the vampire wasn’t swayed.

“It is a biggie as you so nicely put it” he replied with a hint of steel in that rich deep voice, and she cringed inwardly. “The visions take a lot out of you, and lack of sleep will only add to it. You should have taken the tablets a little longer-” her hand darted out to cover his mouth.

“No more tablets- please!” those beautiful hazel eyes stared into his, and for a moment he was lost. “I hate taking drugs; bad enough I keep the Tylonol Corporation in profits, I won’t take anything else, Angel.” Flipping his hand to catch hers firmly, Angel just looked at her silently for a long moment, and then let out a short breath.

“Okay, no more drugs- but!” his expression brooked no argument and Cordy found herself holding her breath and waiting for some kind of anvil to fall.

“From now on, I’ll sleep with you,” was that thud the sound of her jaw hitting the table? Nope, that was the anvil- although her jaw did drop a fair distance.

You’ll sleep with me? No way!” she refused, making to rise to her feet- stopped by his grip on her wrist.

“I’m not going to argue with you over this,” he warned her softly. “We’re friends – practically family, and it’ll only be until you can sleep through the night, okay?” It did sound reasonable, but Cordy had a bad feeling about this half-brained idea…. but how could she voice that bad feeling without sounding pathetic?

Not as if the Buffy-struck vampire would think of her that way- not in a million years.

“Okaaay, ” she finally relented with a sulky pout, then shot him a hard look. “But there will be no telling Wesley- or anyone, right? I have a reputation to consider.” Pulling her hand away, Cordy snatched her mug and turned to the coffee pot muttering under her breath. If she weren’t so damned tired, no way would she have folded so easily.

Angel’s mouth tilted a little as he watched her pouring a fresh drink with jerky motions and not-so quietly cursing him…then the small smile faded as the import of the task ahead sunk in.

Sleeping with the fiery brunette was NOT a good idea. He’d be blind not to be aware of her delicious charms, and just her scent drove him crazy most of the time- but this was for a friend; family. If it would help in her quest for peaceful sleep and a quicker recovery, then he was all for it.

Silence reigned over the small kitchen as both thought about their new sleeping arrangements that night, and both attempting to stifle their misgivings over something offered so innocently.


Chapter 2

By the time Cordy had hid in her room on the pretext of getting dressed [which she had, but finished ages ago], Wes had arrived and she could hear the quiet hum of male voices through the wood paneling. Unable to think of a valid reason for refusing the vampire’s kind offer, Cordelia finally drew herself together and exited the bedroom.

A small shot of relief flowed through her when her entrance only attracted an absent greeting from the English man, whilst Angel pored over yet another old book Wes had brought along. Soon enough, her apartment would look like one of those musty, smelly bookstores stuffy tweeds oohed and ahhed at. Her thrillers and romance paperbacks had made their way to a space under her bed less than 24 hours after coming home from the hospital.

“Tea Wes?” That brought her a look of mild dread, and she folded her arms defensively. “What? I’ve been practicing; I think you’ll be impressed.” With a sligh huff, she stalked into the kitchen. Sheesh, anyone would think she was completely useless in anything that related to the kitchen!

“As you can see here,” Wes was pointing to a depiction of a demon Cordelia had seen in her last ‘normal’ vision that Angel had dutifully slain before rushing back to check on his new patient.

“The claws that run down its back have quite unique qualities; for example, various rituals and spells that could have come in handy in our line of business. Pity we hadn’t known this before you disposed of the carcass,” he lamented.

“Which you would have taken to your stuffy apartment, right, Wes?” Cordelia added with a grimace. Books were enough, thank you very much. Wes nodded instantly.

“Of course. Not something to be left in the hands of the ignorant- not that I’m saying….” He stuttered, blushing a little. Cordelia merely pffted and dropped the tray onto the table before deciding where to sit.

Reluctantly curling up in the corner of the couch the vampire sprawled on, she replied tartly. “Don’t worry, Wes, I’m blissful in my ignorance.” Taking a sip of her coffee, she flicked a look over the page of the book resting in Angel’s lap. “Ewwe, black and white makes no diff to its grossness, does it?” A small yawn punctuated her observation, catching the vampire’s beady eye. Averting her gaze to her hands, she made a show of checking her nails.

He remained silent Cordelia couldn’t help but breath a small sigh of relief. No more lectures – for now, at least.

Angel’s sharp eyes went back to his book, his full mouth tightening a fraction. He knew for a fact that the brunette was most likely going to spend the day figuring out a way to get out of their new arrangement, and he was ready for whatever excuse she gave. To be honest, her couch wasn’t built for a six-two frame of dense bone and muscle, and the thought of being able to stretch out was something else to look forward to- not that he was looking forward to sleeping with the willful brunette who was also a bed hog.

In his habit of checking on her every other hour when she’d first arrived back from hospital, Angel had found her often sprawled in the middle of the big bed, her arms and legs grabbing every available inch of mattress. That would be fun. Visions of himself hugging the edge of the bed was hopefully something that wouldn’t happen. He’d merely have to manhandle her back to her side- gently of course.

Wes brought his attention back to the book, and the rest of the day was spent researching various demons and was thrown in with the odd argument with Cordelia in her attempts to leave the apartment and escape ‘boredomitis’ as she so succinctly put it. After telling them they couldn’t keep her locked up forever and a day, Angel had merely thrown her a look and she’d harrumphed and stalked into her bedroom for a good few hours of sulking.

Evening crept up on them pretty quickly, and Cordelia’s alarms were going off by the time Wes was readying himself to leave- then a vision kicked in and all else was forgotten but the pain and ickyness of cinema with surround sound stereo.

“Don’t forget those claws,” was the first thing Wes said when she finally related that it was yet another of the same demons she’d envisioned a few nights before. Angel glared briefly his way before settling her on the couch gently, eliciting a slight flush over the Englishman’s features.

“It’s okay, Wes, ” Cordelia jumped to his defense sending her own glare, not so patented at the hovering vampire, adding, “And don’t even think of bringing them here, kay?” with a short nod, Angel reluctantly straightened and walked over to grab his duster. “I won’t be long,” he assured her just before they left.

“Don’t rush back, she muttered, closing her eyes and resting her head against the back of the couch, missing the small quirk of the vampire’s mouth as he closed the door softly

***

After a long and relaxing bath, Cordelia settled into bed garbed in warm T-Shirt and long pajama bottoms- just in case, and closed her eyes in readiness to sleep. Instantly, her inner vision began a kaleidoscope of horrific faces of torment and tormentors. Her eyes shot open and groaning, she turned onto her back.

Breathing deep in measured beats, Cordelia attempted to settle her racing heart- then her door opened- just great! Her eyes snapped shut and she turned on her side to curl up. Maybe if he thought she was asleep he’d go away. No such luck. She could feel his eyes drilling into the part of her head visible for several minutes before he disappeared into the bathroom.

Angel bit back a grin as he shed his ruined clothes and stepped under the shower. Cordelia’s heart had been racing ten to the dozen and hadn’t fooled him for a second. He’d tasted the fear rolling off her in waves as soon as he’d entered her room, and instinctively knew that part had nothing to do with him; although he couldn’t say the same for her rapidly thudding heart.

It couldn’t be easy for her to have him, a vampire, in her bed, but Angel refused to back down. This insomnia was bad for her health. On top of the visions, her lack of sleep would eventually compromise her mental state and he couldn’t have that. Thinking back to her fear and pain at the hospital, it still sent shivers of dread and helplessness down his spine, and for a moment, he leant against the tiled wall, attempting to center himself.

He was doing the right thing. If he repeated that to himself a few million times, the tight knot in his belly would hopefully dissipate.

Angel couldn’t recall the last time he’d actually slept with someone- just slept, that is, and a small part of him felt vulnerable at the thought of being observed deeply asleep and unaware. Shaking his dark head, he reached up to turn off the shower and stepped out of the bath. After drying himself off and roughly rubbing a towel through his hair, he retrieved the sweat pants he’d brought in and pulled them on.

That was yet another thing. Since having to bunk up with Cordelia, wearing clothes to bed had become a necessity. He doubted her still rather innocent sensibilities could take the sight of him walking around nude. Too long had gone by for him to feel even a modicum of embarrassment, but needs must. But he still missed the freedom of sleeping unrestricted.

Switching off the light before opening the bathroom door, Angel soundlessly entered her bedroom. Her heart still gave her away, even though she’d seemingly remained in the same position, curled up- except now she hugged one side of the bed. His mouth quirked again as he rounded the bed and pulled back the covers. Gone were the standard pajama shorts, and the T-Shirt she wore engulfed her body.

Narrowing his eyes, he recognized it as one of his old ones- pre-blown up building. The little minx must have swiped it when she’d stayed at his basement apartment all those months ago. A small part of him actually liked her wearing his clothes, as she smelled of him, and as vampire’s were naturally possessive about their possessions, of which she was one [though He’d never tell her that, of course!], it felt good having her wrapped in his scent.

Lying flat on his back, Angel regarded the ceiling for several minutes before turning his head and eyeing the tip of dark, rich hair still visible above the covers.

“Good night, Cordelia,” grinning openly when the small lump tensed even more, and a muttered ‘night’ was returned.

Closing his eyes, Angel relished being able to stretch out his long legs, happy to find that her bed was generous enough for his feet not to dangle over the edge of the mattress. Within minutes, his brain shut down and sleep crawled over him.

After what seemed an eternity of wide-awakeness and painful awareness of the big hulk lying inches away from her, Cordelia’s eyes finally fluttered closed and, for once in what felt like forever, her mind finally took her to blessed dreamland…

Chapter 3

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete

Visiting Hours   Leave a comment

Title: Visiting Hours
Author: Califi
Posted:
Email
Rating: R for language
Category:
Content: C/A tentative friendship
Summary: Angel visits Cordy in hospital…and sees another side to ‘Queen C’
Spoilers: Set right after Lovers Walk -BTVS S3.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes:
Thanks/Dedication:
Feedback:


 

“How do you deal?”

“Huh?” Angel’s head shot up from his contemplation of the grey floor tiles, fixing his confused eyes on the young woman in the sterile bed.

He wasn’t sure why he was here. After a few days of moping around the Mansion, broken only by the occasional trips out for blood, Angel’s morose thoughts had eventually drifted to another walking wounded of that unforgettable night.

After bumping into the Redhead on the way to one of his trips, she’d spilled the whole sorry story of her fall from grace.

He still wasn’t sure why Willow had shared such personal information with him- maybe she just needed someone outside the Scooby gang to listen; more likely trying to show him that he wasn’t the only one to suffer consequences that night.

And that’s why he was here now, sitting by the hospital bed of another casualty of love.

When he’d arrived, Cordelia had been sleeping, her body curled half on her side; her hand unconsciously resting protectively over- where he assumed, was her Rebar wound.

Angel had never cared for Xander Harris- who he personally thought of as a complete Prick!

-And on looking at the sleeping form in front of him, it only confirmed his opinion!

Her face pale, shadows like bruises under those eyes…his jaw had clenched as she’d whimpered in her fitful sleep. As he watched her, it slowly dawned on him just how classically lovely she was!

With rich mahogany hair, spread silkily on the starched white pillow; tendrils softly framing her milk-pale face- how the ravages of trauma hadn’t detracted from a beauty that he instinctively knew would grow even more as the years passed…

“Well?” Angel brought his attention back to the now-awake Cordelia Chase.

Her clear Hazel eyes stared into his, a single brow lifted in query; a hint of amusement in those striking eyes.

“I’m sorr-”

“I asked: – HOW DO YOU DEAL!” rolling her eyes, as she enunciated each word.

“Deal?” the eyes rolled again- this time with the accompanying rise and fall of exasperated hands.

“You know, with the whole “ you’re only here ‘cos of the semi-jonesing, sorta-what-the dear-god-in-heaven-am-I-thinking-of-slayer, and the put-up, shut up; skulk in the corner-but-don’t-expect-us-to-like-you-deal?”

Angel stared mutely, inwardly digesting her blunt description of his relationship with the Scoobies.

“I… “ She cut him off before he could formulate a sentence.

“Look, Angel, Con. Cen. Trate! Since they found out about the whole grry thing, deciding-but then not staking your ass- the major willies of having you around, lashings of distrust and various ‘dead Boy’ comments- not to mention you’re sudden embracing of the dark- The ‘Oh-let’s-kill-Buffy’s-friends’ fest; followed by you’re seriously kicked ass, loaded on the bus to Helliday Camp; not forgetting your ‘Semester’s-Over’ welcoming home party… how do you deal with all the crap thrown at you’re seriously spiky head?” she drew a deep breath, before folding her arms; wincing slightly-and getting annoyed at herself for doing so!
The brow lifted yet again.

“Well? You want me to repeat that? – cos, one word- PFFT!”

Angel’s hand lifted automatically to his gelled vertically challenging hair, defensively- not noticing the quick smirk thrown his way at his worried action.

From the tips of that cute spiky hair, to his…well NOT going there! He was HOT -for an Undead creature-of-the-night, anyway! Cordy thought- wondering why he was here?

Angel caught her look, which rapidly melted to a deliberately innocent wide grin.

His breath hitched for a moment, unevenly, at the blinding beauty of it- the dull room’s personal ball of sunshine, lighting every nook and cranny around them. He shook his head -an almost imperceptible movement, before answering this bewitching creature.

“I suppose I-‘deal’ by not thinking too much about it.”

“Pfft! That’s just a copout, Vampy!” Angel’s brow furrowed slightly, her expression openly displaying disgust.

He sighed heavily. At least she now wasn’t the huddled, forlorn figure of his initial scrutiny.

“Okay…In my entire life- and unlife! I’ve never been accepted; you can’t hanker for something you’ve never experienced.” his tone matter of fact. He wasn’t looking for sympathy; it’s just the way it was -had always been.

But Cordy’s heart clenched none the less. “How sad is that!” she thought before speaking.

“Buffy cares about you- she still does, right?” he shook his head.

“Caring isn’t acceptance, Cordelia.” Not answering her previous question.

Angel wasn’t sure about their ‘relationship’ any more- and a small part of him was fed up of the whole “Love is meant to be painful” crap.

“Anyway, I’m not exactly a part of that…giving crowd any more” surprising her with his, rare humour, a depreciating smile gracing his wide angular mouth.

“What about you?”he asked, as she tried to ignore the slight flutter in her belly, as his smile enhanced his already handsome face.

Buffy was a complete Bonehead! – She thought, scathingly -then registered his query.

“What about me?” She wasn’t expecting that!

Two could play at this game- plus, Angel wasn’t as far up Buffy’s ass as certain people liked to believe!

He’d observed the almost cruel, on occasions; way the ‘scoobies’ treated her.

Fair enough, Cordelia thoughtlessly hurt people’s feelings; bringing up subjects that were awkward- and sometimes, downright uncomfortable!

She could be-and was often-a complete bitch!

But 99% of the time, she was spot on- and some things truly needed to be said!

She was as much as an outsider as he was-if not more!

Buffy may not be able to ‘deal’ at all that well with their…’association’- but she’d never shown him the complete lack of decency and respect that The Harrison Boy had carelessly dished out to Cordelia, on a regular basis!

“The trick is to rise above it; which is way easy for me- as I am so totally above those Freaks!” ‘Queen C’ reared her lovely head proudly.

But he detected the hurt not quite hidden in the far recesses of her eyes.

“I mean, look at them!” she continued, needing to vent, more than she realised.

“A self-absorbed ‘I’m-so-not-enjoying-this-cool-power’ Slayer, A Werewolf with so many issues, his Pedigree papers would be a trilogy long-” she ticked them off slim fingers, eyes darkening to coffee brown.

“A Brainiac in a Dead End-and-yes-I-so-hear-the-irony-in-that-description!-job – Not to forget the wannabe Bad-Ass Wicca Geek…and the wannabe loser -cos he even has trouble aspiring to that level!” Angel’s lips twitched at her harsh but perfect sum up of that seriously irritating little Shit!

The room became silent- but not oppressively so, as they both became temporarily lost in their own thoughts.

Angel’s eyes fixed on the slender tanned hand that had again crept up to gingerly rest on her injury, her face poignant. Catching his gaze, she saw the soft sympathy, and something else, in those dark eyes; though not quite able to put her finger on it

Her features hardened defensively in a heartbeat. Cordelia Chase didn’t want pity! – Especially not from him!

-Not quite sure about the ‘especially’ bit, though.

“He visited once, you know.” They both knew who she meant. Angel remained silent.

“He mumbled and stuttered, trying real hard to look like he regretted the major lip fest with Geek Goddess! Pfft! Told him what dark place he could shove that pathetic posy he brought!” not caring that she was exaggerating. A lot!

“Those are beautiful.” He gestured to the large bouquet of roses and carnations; Babies Breath nestles generously through them.

“My Parent’s offering. Had them delivered! – They’re away for a month; an early return was out of the question!” she shrugged uncaringly. her eyes told a different story!

Angel’s dead heart broke for her.

Except for that little Bastard who’d put her here, he had been her only other visitor.

He burned with the instinctive knowledge that Harris would one day regret losing Cordelia Chase.

Angel knew he would, in his place.

Confused by the new feelings and thoughts going through his mind as he watched her settle, Angel fidgeted.

“I’d better let you rest.” Angel finally rose to his feet, strangely reluctant ot leave her alone- but her eyes were slowly drifting closed.

“Yeah…Like I’m lacking in that department, Grr Guy!” a slight smile touched her pink mouth. He paused, awkwardly shifting his feet. Cordelia raised that now-familiar slim brow.

“Would you…can I visit you tomorrow night?” he found himself asking hesitantly. Cordelia closed her eyes.

“Why not! You’ve Gotta be better to look at than these seriously depressing walls!”

A faint smile touched his beautiful mouth as he turned to the door.

“Angel?” glancing over, he noticed her lids still covered those exquisite Hazel orbs. He waited.

“Thanks.”

FIN-?

Califi

Posted June 3, 2017 by califi in Complete