Long Time Coming. 5-6

Part 5

Cordelia tuned out the sound of her teacher as he droned on about Pearl Harbour and America’s subsequent involvement in the Second World War. The brunette stared out of the window, flashing back to when she had woken up in Angel’s bed that morning.
Earlier that day …

Cordelia opened her eyes to find the room still enveloped in pitch-black, even though her body clock informed her it was morning. The unfamiliarity of the room was unsettling, and only made her agitation worse. Cordelia was afraid of the future, of being alone in the world with no-one to guide and take care of her. Her parents may not have been attentive, but she used to have a home, financial security, and a housekeeper to cook her meals and do her domestic chores. Now though, all that was gone. Cordelia realised she didn’t even know how to boil an egg; let alone cook herself anything more substantial.

There was a quiet knock on the door, and Angel’s muffled voice addressed her through the thick wood. “Cordelia – You awake? It’s 7 o’clock.”

Cordelia pulled herself up to a sitting position, tucking the sheets and blankets around her. She reached out, fumbling to turn on the lamp. “Yes, come in.” she called to the vampire.

The door opened, and Angel’s head appeared around it before he stepped into the dimly lit bedroom. The vampire was dressed much the same as he had been yesterday – dark pants and a dark blue, almost black, shirt. The vamp seriously needs some colour in his life, Cordelia thought.

“Good morning. I made some coffee – you want some?” Angel held out the steaming mug to her.

“Thanks.” Cordelia took the drink, and sipped at the hot liquid.

“I’m making breakfast too – eggs and toast all right?”

“I didn’t know vampires ate; I thought you just sucked blood.”

Angel gave her a small smile. “We can eat; we just don’t need to, so most of the time I don’t bother. Anyway, I meant I was making breakfast for you, not me.”

Cordelia peered at him thoughtfully over the rim of her coffee cup. “You know how to cook?”

Angel nodded. “Yeah. It’s a skill I picked up a while back.”

“Will you teach me? Mrs Franklin always used to cook my meals, but now ….” Cordelia’s voice trailed off, and she looked down. “I don’t know how to do anything!”

Angel felt an overwhelming desire to take care of the abandoned teenage girl, to shelter her from all harm, but he knew that Cordelia needed to learn to stand on her own two feet if she was ever going to move on with her life. “Sure, I’ll teach you, but today I make you breakfast. Okay?”

“Okay.” Cordelia agreed, then frowned. “Hey, if you don’t eat, where did you get the eggs and bread from?”

“Oh, I went down to the 7-Eleven last night and stocked up. I didn’t really know what you liked, so I got a selection of everything.”

Cordelia’s eyes filled at his thoughtfulness; maybe, she wasn’t so alone after all. At least, not until Buffy found out that she was staying here and forced Angel to throw her out, then what would she do? A single tear escaped and ran down her cheek.

“Hey” Angel said soothingly. “I know this is hard for you, but you’ll make it through. You are a lot stronger than you think.” The vampire sat down on the edge of the bed, cupping her small chin in his hand as he gently brushed her tears away with the soft pad of his thumb.

Cordelia looked up into his sympathetic deep brown eyes. “What about Buffy?”

Angel sighed. “I’ll tell her tonight. Don’t worry about it.”

Cordelia laughed weakly. “That’s easier said than done, buddy. It’s not you who’s going to end up with an ass kicking.”

“Buffy won’t hurt you.” The vampire reassured her, then glanced at his watch. “You need to be getting to school soon; I’ve left you some towels in the bathroom. Breakfast will be ready in twenty minutes.”

Angel got up from the bed, and backed out of the room, leaving Cordelia to get showered and dressed.
Back to the present …

Cordelia looked over at Buffy and decided that Angel had seriously underestimated the slayer’s reaction to their new living arrangements. The cheerleader was convinced that the fallout would involve a considerable amount of pain – mostly hers. Cordelia wasn’t sure she could trust Angel to stick up for her, especially when faced with his girlfriend’s wrath, despite his reassurances to the contrary. In then end, Buffy was Angel’s true love, and the vampire would do anything for her.

That didn’t bode well for Cordelia; she was more than likely going to be homeless in a few hour’s time, and Sunnydale was hardly the safest place to sleep rough. Cordelia tried to ignore the churning feeling in the pit of her stomach as she returned her attention to her History Class.

***

Wesley and Faith exited the magic shop, laden down with purchases. “You know – my super slayer strength is supposed to be used to stake vamps, not carry books.” Faith complained, as she staggered under the weight of the two encyclopaedic volumes she was bearing. “How long is it going to take you to read these things anyway? We need to be doing something about this apocalypse now, not in a decade.”

“I was thinking I’d check the indexes rather than reading the whole book cover to cover.” Wesley replied.

“Oh right, of course.” Faith said sheepishly. “Guess I didn’t think of that – all brawn, no brains me. That’s the reason the slayer has a watcher though, isn’t it? You’re the Smartass and I’m the Kickass.”

Wesley laughed. “So I’m your watcher now, am I?”

Faith grinned cheekily at him. “At first, I figured you were kind of pansy ass, but I’ve changed my mind. You could still use some work, but I think you’ll do.”

“I’m not sure Buffy shares your opinion.”

“Well, I think she’s with me on the pansy ass thing.” Faith laughed at Wesley’s indignant expression. “Look Wes, B and Giles have got this whole slayer/watcher clique thing going on. You can’t break into that anymore than I could. Don’t beat yourself up about it; it’s not worth it.”

“I’m failing as a watcher. I always believed that this was the one thing I could be good at, but Buffy has no respect for me whatsoever.”

“To hell with B! You’re doing just fine. If we avert this apocalypse, then it will be down to you. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re the one who has got this end-of-the-world crap in hand – not Giles, or Buffy. “

Wesley swallowed the lump that arisen in his throat at Faith’s words and looked quickly away from the brunette slayer, trying to hide his reaction from her

“You’re not getting all emotional on me, are you?” Faith drawled. “Cus I don’t do the hugging thing.”

Wesley returned his gaze to meet Faith’s and they both smiled, each silently acknowledging the new level of understanding between them.

***

Angel made his way to Sunnydale High by way of the sewers; school was over for the day, but it was still twilight outside so, unless he wanted to get burnt to a crisp, the souled vampire had to take this underground route to the high school. Angel entered through the basement and stepped out into the deserted hallway, his acute hearing immediately picking up the muffled sound of voices emanating from the Library at the other end of the corridor.

Angel had expected Cordelia home a couple of hours earlier, but the young girl hadn’t shown up. Angel decided that she had probably gone to the Library straight from school, but, try as he might, he couldn’t shake the memory of Cordelia’s comment from the previous afternoon. Daddy will not let me go so easily. He’ll try and get me back once he realises I’m gone.

So, instead of waiting for the cover of darkness, Angel had set out for the school determined to check whether the young cheerleader was safe. As he got closer to the Library, Angel was able to identify individual voices, and he sighed in relief when Cordelia’s clear timbre rose above the general buzz of conversation.

The dark-haired vampire stopped in his tracks as he arrived at the Library doors, a disturbing thought striking him. His attention had been entirely focused on making sure Cordelia was unharmed, and he, therefore, hadn’t even considered how he would tell his girlfriend about his new house guest. Angel sighed; it didn’t really matter how he told her, Buffy was going to be apoplectic. The vampire took an unneeded breath, then went to meet his fate.

“Hey, you’re early. I wasn’t expecting you until later.” Buffy bounced over to greet him, planting a quick kiss on his cheek.

The young slayer was wearing a light grey pair of low-slung jogging pants and a tight peach vest top that left her midriff bare. Her blond hair was caught at the back of her head, secured with a grey scrunchie. The wound that the Kryzlic demon had inflicted on her was covered by a small bandage and looked to be almost healed. Angel reached out to run his finger over the tender flesh. “That looks better.”

“Yeah, pretty much all gone now.” Buffy’s smooth skin was covered by a light sheen of sweat, the result of a recent training session. “I can’t really feel it anymore, so it’s not slowing me down any.”

Angel’s deep brown eyes surveyed the room seeking out Cordelia who turned out to be sitting on the steps leading up to the book stacks; her eyes lost in thought. The vampire returned his gaze to Buffy. How am I going to explain this to her and not divulge Cordelia’s secret?

“I … Umm … I have something to tell you” the vampire began. “Cordelia – uhh – she has some family problems, and needs a place to stay. I’ve got plenty of spare rooms at the mansion, so …” Angel trailed off as he watched his words register on Buffy’s countenance. The young slayer’s expression went through a full gamut of emotions – shock, disbelief, and doubt before, finally, settling on pure unadulterated rage.

“You’re letting Cordelia Chase stay with you? Are you out of your tiny mind?” Buffy’s raised voice garnered the attention of the whole room. “Why would you even …” Buffy broke off. “All right, so what fake sob story did the little bitch give you?”

“That’s non of your business.” Angel firmly replied. “Cordelia told me in confidence.”

“I can’t believe you’re falling for this, Angel. You know what she’s like; family troubles – yeah right.” Buffy snorted. “The only family trouble Cordelia has is deciding what to spend Daddy’s money on next!”

“Don’t act like you know me Buffy because you haven’t got a clue.” Cordelia interrupted Buffy’s tirade. “You don’t know anything about my life.” She gathered her things and turned to Angel. “I’ll go get my stuff; I guess I can find a motel room somewhere. I can’t carry everything though – you don’t mind if I leave the rest of my things at your place until I find somewhere more permanent, do you?”

“Cordy – you’re not going anywhere. I said you could stay, and I meant it.”

“But Buffy …”

“Buffy needs to grow up and get over herself” Angel told the cheerleader, then turned back to the petite slayer. “Not everything is about you, Buffy. I offered Cordelia a place to stay because things are pretty bad for her at home right now. I am going to help her, and be her friend whether you like it or not. If you have an issue with that, then I’m afraid it’s your problem. It’s not mine, or Cordelia’s. You’re the slayer, a champion, and it’s about time you started acting like one. You’re supposed to be above such petty behaviour.”

Buffy stared at her boyfriend open-mouthed; he had *never* spoken to her like that before. “You don’t know what it’s like.”

“What? Being different? Oh, I think I do. You’re not the only one who doesn’t have a ‘normal life,’ Buffy. Take a good look around you. I’m a 243 year old cursed vampire with a soul, Faith’s a slayer just like you, Giles and Wesley are watchers, Willow’s a witch, Oz is a werewolf, and Cordelia and Xander are two ordinary people who have been sucked into this crazy supernatural world. Yet, they are all here today helping you fight this year’s apocalypse. Not one of them has complained, or expects anything in return. It’s only *you* who thinks that you are owed something. You’re nearly eighteen years old Buffy; it’s about time you grew up, and stopped acting like a spoilt little girl.”

“Wow! You can talk in words of more than one syllable – who knew?” Faith broke the overwhelming silence that had descended following Angel’s declamation.

Angel grinned at the brunette slayer. “I’ve been practising.” He stepped towards Cordelia, who was gaping at him in stunned disbelief, and removed her book bag from her nerveless fingers. “You are staying with me; I got you a room ready today. There is absolutely no way that you are going to some dodgy motel, okay?” The vampire gently ran the backs of his fingers down Cordelia’s cheek as she nodded.

“Right, everyone get back to work; the Kryzlic demon killed another person last night. We need to make some Balthrim asap because this cannot be allowed to continue.” Wesley turned to Cordelia. “I need someone to assist me with translating some text from The Niazthian Codex – maybe you can help? Willow, Xander, Oz, continue with your research into the origins of Balthrim – Buffy can help you. Giles is trying to locate a particular text concerning demon raising rituals, and should be back in Sunnydale tomorrow. Faith, Angel – how about you see if you can locate where the Kryzlic Demon is residing? We need to know where to find it once we have the means to kill it.”

Angel nodded at the watcher, then followed Faith towards the Library doors pausing as he passed Buffy. “I’m sorry, but it needed to be said. I know you don’t mean to be, but you can be pretty selfish at times. They’ve all given up their normal lives too; try to remember that.” The vampire leaned down, and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you.”

Buffy watched silently as Angel left with Faith; the young slayer felt like her world was being pulled out from under her. Buffy had always relied on Angel to be there for her, no matter what, but he had essentially just chosen Cordelia Chase over her. The vampire knew how she felt about Cordelia, but he had still invited the girl to stay. It didn’t matter that Angel just saw it as helping someone in need, as far as Buffy was concerned it was a betrayal of his love for her.

The slayer would bide her time for now, but if Cordelia Chase thought she could move in on Buffy Summer’s boyfriend without any consequences, then she had another thing coming.


Part 6

Faith looked over at Angel as the two of them retraced his and Buffy’s patrol of two nights ago. They were hoping that the vampire could pick up the scent of the Kryzlic demon, so they could track it to its hiding place. “You do realise you could have ended up a eunuch back there, don’t you?”

Angel smiled. “The thought did cross my mind. You don’t think I was too harsh?”

“Yes, but you needed to be.” Faith hurried on, following Angel’s stricken look. “B has got this major poor-me attitude going on. Everyone is just too chicken to confront her with it, or else they think it’s justifiable because she’s *the slayer*” Faith emphasised her ‘slayer’ statement by making quotation marks with her fingers. “Like that’s an excuse for her to behave like she’s superior to everyone else, or something. Gotta admit though; I thought you were one of them. When did you grow some balls?”

“Always had them, honey.” Angel replied wickedly, his voice adopting Angelus-like undertones. “Just kept them hidden this last couple of years. Well, most of the time anyway. Kinda caused a whole lot of trouble last time I got them out though.”

Faith laughed incredulously at the vampire’s risqué witticism. “You don’t talk to B like that do you? I can’t imagine Miss Prim-and-Proper tolerating that kind of smutty talk, never mind joking about her tragic love life. Gotta say though; as far as losing your virginity goes, B’s must’ve been right up there with the best of ’em. She can’t say it wasn’t memorable.”

Angel felt the guilt wash over him as he remembered one of the most unforgettable nights of his life. With Darla, the sex had been good, amazing even, but that’s all it had been – pure, physical sex. Angel had never felt as alive as he had in the slayer’s arms that night. It was the first, and only time that he had truly made love to a woman, and, despite Buffy’s inexperience, their coupling had far surpassed the thousands of times that he and Darla had shared a bed. Nonetheless, the loss of his soul and the re-emergence of Angelus had followed, shattering the idyllic nature of that moment in time forever. Angel closed his eyes in shame as he recalled Angelus’s cruel taunts to Buffy the following day; the young girl had given herself to him so completely and that had been her reward. Faith was right, Buffy couldn’t say it wasn’t memorable; it was, just for all the wrong reasons.

“It wasn’t your fault.” Faith asserted, noticing the vampire’s pained expression. “You didn’t know what would happen; you can’t be held responsible for what came next.”

Angel sighed, “I wish I could believe that Faith, but it’s not that simple. Angelus is always there, deep inside of me; we’re not two separate people. It’s just that with a soul, I’m the one in the driving seat and without a soul – Angelus is.”

Faith nodded as understanding dawned on her. “I guess it’s kinda like the rush I feel immediately after a fight. My slayer blood is pumping around my veins and I feel like I’m going to explode. Sometimes, I have this desperate urge to kill something, anything – demon or human – just to satisfy that craving. It takes a significant amount of willpower to not give in to that impulse. If it’s that close to the surface in me, I can’t imagine what it’s like within you. I can let off steam in … umm … other ways, but you can’t even do that.” Faith looked at the tense vampire curiously. “You walk a fine line Angel – I don’t know how you do it.”

“That’s because you’ve never murdered anyone. I can still remember every one of those innocent people that I killed. I can still smell their fear, see the pain I inflicted on them, and hear them begging for me to stop. When the gypsies cursed me with a soul in Romania, I thought I’d go insane from the memory of what I was. I guess I did kind of lose it for a while, but in the end giving in to that insanity was way too easy. I eventually found a way to offset all the pain that I’d caused.”

“By fighting for the opposite side.” Faith surmised, “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction – see I did learn *something* in school.”

Angel nodded, “That’s the theory anyway, but the scales are still a long way from being balanced. I’m not sure if they ever will be; after all I have a hundred years of untold evil to make up for.”

“Well, this is an uplifting conversation isn’t it? Excuse me while I just go and slit my wrists.” Faith wisecracked, then looked at Angel sheepishly. “Sorry, can’t help it. Conversation gets all heavy – I make a funny.”

“There are worse ways of dealing with things, I suppose.” Angel replied solemnly.

The vampire came to a halt as his nose picked up the scent of Buffy’s blood, mingled with that of the Kryzlic Demon. Angel looked around; he had been so engrossed in his conversation with Faith that he hadn’t been paying attention to his surroundings. The two of them stood on the southern edge of the graveyard, the only light coming from the moon, and a street lamp that threw an orange hue over everything. To the right was the huge tree that the Kryzlic Demon had leapt out of two nights ago, surprising both the blond slayer and her vampire lover. The overhanging branches cast dark shadows across the consecrated earth.

“This is the place isn’t it? You can feel the aftermath of evil hanging in the air.” Faith shuddered, a chill running through her. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have slayer senses.”

Angel nodded, his predatory eyes scanning the area. He was determined not to get caught out again.

“Anything?” Faith asked.

The vampire shook his head, “Not really, but I think it went that way.” He pointed towards a row of dense shrubs. “There’s still a faint scent. It’ll be easier to track once I get away from the smell of Buffy; slayer blood is pretty potent stuff.”

“And I *so* did not need to know that.” Faith murmured, as she followed the tall vampire into the bushes.

The two of them made their way through the thick undergrowth, cutting away the more stubborn branches that blocked their path with Angel’s axe. They eventually emerged into a small clearing that was completely surrounded by trees and bushes, making it virtually inaccessible. Angel came to a sudden standstill without warning, and Faith ran into the back of him unable to arrest her forward momentum. “What? What is it?” she whispered, clutching the back of his leather jacket to steady herself.

“The scent goes off every which way from here.” Angel kept his voice low, realising they were probably very close to the Kryzlic demon’s lair.

Faith walked slowly into the centre of the small clearing; her knife held at the ready up near her shoulder. “There’s nothing here,” she stated, “Unless it lives in a tree or something.” The brunette slayer looked up warily.

Angel shook his head. “No, too conspicuous. Wait!” he said, holding up his hand with his palm facing outwards. Faith stopped. “Move back the other way.” The vampire instructed, indicating where she should go with his fingers. The slayer did as he asked, then stopped when Angel again raised his hand. “What?” she hissed.

“The ground sounds different, more hollow.”

Faith tapped her boot against the grass, and listened to the faint echo – Angel was right, there was something here. She knelt down on the ground, and felt around with her fingertips realising there was a circle of turf that had been cut away from the rest of the earth. She slowly peeled back the amalgamated mud and grass to reveal a wooden trapdoor. The brunette slayer caught hold of the loop of rope secured to the door, but stopped as Angel grabbed her hands preventing her from opening it.

“But …”

“No sense in giving the thing a heads up, we need to hold onto the element of surprise.” Angel patiently explained. “We know where it lives now, so we’ll come back when we’ve got the poison. We’ll be sitting ducks if we go in there unarmed.”

Faith nodded in agreement. “All right. Let’s go.” She carefully replaced the turf, then followed the vampire as they retraced their steps back towards the graveyard.

***

When Angel and Faith returned to the Library, they found Wesley and Cordelia sitting at the central table poring over Angel’s copy of The Niazthian Codex.

“Where did everyone go?” Faith asked, searching the room for Buffy and the others.

“Home – Willow cracked it.” Cordelia replied, holding up a pad with Willow’s scrawled handwriting all over it.

“We just need to obtain a few supplies tomorrow and then we will be ready.” Wesley continued, as the slayer and the vampire sat down in two empty chairs on the opposite side of the table.

“Good job we found where the Kryzlic is holed up then, isn’t it?” Faith interjected. “And when I say holed up – I mean quite literally. I think the thing might have aspirations of becoming a Hobbit.”

“We’ll need to find a way to lure it out.” Angel pondered, thoughtfully scratching at his chin. “It’ll have the advantage in its own habitat.”

“Another job for Bait Girl then.” Cordelia said, somewhat sarcastically. “I’ll just stand there looking pretty and wait to be attacked.”

Angel frowned, “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

“Why?” Cordelia replied. “How is it different to any other time?”

Angel looked guiltily at the young cheerleader. It wasn’t, of course. It was just that this girl was now part of his life, and on her way to becoming his friend. His need to protect her was now paramount whereas before it had been a non issue. The vampire sighed, he couldn’t believe he had stood by and done nothing while Cordelia was used to draw out all manner of demons. It would not be happening again. “I’m sure there’s another way to flush it out. We need some tear gas, or at least a demon equivalent.”

“I think I can probably come up with something.” Wesley said, “There are plenty of demon disabling potions around. I’ll just need to find the most suitable.”

“Hey Guys!” Faith interrupted the discussion, “Are we bonding? Forming our own little Scooby Gang?”

“No way! I mean – Scooby Gang – that’s *so* last season.” Cordelia hurriedly explained her outburst, as three pairs of eyes swung towards her. “We’re the ….” she looked around the little group, her eyes finally settling on Angel, “…Fang Gang.” she finished with a flourish.

“I don’t have Fangs.” Faith protested.

“I wouldn’t say that.” Angel mumbled under his breath.

“Hey! I heard that.” Faith whacked Angel on the arm. If the blow had been aimed at anyone other than the vampire, then it would have knocked them clean out of the chair.

“Oww!” Angel cried, rubbing at his shoulder. “That hurt!”

His brown-eyed gaze turned to Cordelia as she began to laugh. “What?”

“You’re such a dork! I thought you were supposed to be a badass vampire. Scourge of Europe – isn’t that what they called you?”

“I’m semi-retired.” Angel quipped, a rare smile crossing his face. Cordelia beamed back at him causing his smile widen.

Faith observed the little exchange in silence; Cordelia hadn’t seen Angel fight. The vampire usually played back up to Buffy and herself, but he fought with extreme skill, and a certain amount of viciousness. Faith knew that Buffy trained with the vampire regularly, but she was quite sure that Angel had never really shown the blond slayer everything that he was capable of.

Wesley looked at the vampire thoughtfully. Cordelia was right; Angel’s personality did not seem to fit with what he had read about Angelus. The watcher knew, however, that this was the vampire that had terrorised Sunnydale only last year. He was the fiend that had tortured Giles and murdered Jenny Calender. Wesley didn’t know if a soul could really make that much of a difference, but Angel had given him a chance, so he decided that he owed the vampire the same courtesy. The young watcher wasn’t sure whether they could ever be friends, but that didn’t mean they had to be enemies.

“Buffy didn’t give you a hard time after we left, did she?” Angel asked the cheerleader worriedly.

Cordelia shook her head. “You could have cut the frosty atmosphere with a knife, but no she didn’t say anything. I’m not yet ready to believe I got off so lightly though.”

Angel sighed; he wished he could say that Cordelia was wrong, but he knew Buffy and he was well aware that his girlfriend was not going to just let this go. It bothered Angel that Buffy’s feeling’s weren’t uppermost in his mind right now. He supposed it came down to what he had said to Faith about needing to atone for all the pain he had unleashed on the world. Angel wanted to do the right thing, which meant helping Cordelia out of the mess her life had become. If he turned his back on the girl, then he was betraying that mission. Buffy had always swiftly changed the subject whenever he had tried to talk to her about his life before they met, so she would never understand his motivation.

“I’ll talk to her again when she’s cooled down a bit. Come on, we should get going. It’s kind of late.” The vampire turned to Wesley. “What time tomorrow?”

“I suggest we reconvene here at 7pm. Mr Giles should be back by then, and I’ll have purchased everything we need to make the Balthrim.”

Angel nodded and picked up Cordelia’s book bag, “Okay, see you tomorrow.”

“That is so going to end badly.” Faith commented, as the vampire and the cheerleader left the Library together.

Wesley nodded; he couldn’t help agreeing with his slayer on that.

***

Cordelia’s eyes filled with tears again. Stop crying for god’s sake.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Don’t you like it?” Angel asked her with mounting concern.

“No . . I mean yes . . I just didn’t expect . .” Cordelia trailed off as she looked around the bedroom that Angel had decorated for her. Dark, navy drapes still hung at the windows, but the walls had been painted a pale blue colour, giving the room much needed light; she could still smell the fresh paint in the air. Crisp, white sheets had been put on the double bed together with a lilac coloured throw, and her teddy bear stood propped up against the pillows. Her clothes had been unpacked, put into the chest of drawers next to the bed, or hung up in the wooden closet that stood in the corner of the room. A circular mirror had been fixed to the wall above the solid oak dresser, and her toiletries were neatly stacked up in rows on the dresser surface. Two vases of fresh flowers filled the room with their heavenly scent. “How did you …?”

“Wal Mart has underground access.” Angel shrugged, as if that explained everything.

“Oh.” Cordelia paused; nobody had ever done anything like this for her before. She was used to presents from her parents, usually the best that money could buy, but the gifts had been given with little thought. Angel, it seemed, had thought of everything even remembering to get her a mirror. Cordelia wiped her tears away with her fingertips, then crossed the room to where the vampire stood near the door. “Thank you.” she whispered to him sincerely, took his handsome face between her small hands, and pressed a warm gentle kiss to his full lips.

Angel felt a shock run through him at her touch; he wasn’t used to human contact. Apart from the brief hug that Cordelia had bestowed on him the previous day, Buffy was the only person to have touched him in decades. Before he even realised what he was doing, Angel pulled the pretty teenager closer, one hand going to the small of her back, and the other cupping the back of her head in his palm holding her to him to prolong the kiss.

Reality kicked in when he felt Cordelia’s lips part slightly under his, and she gasped at his unexpected actions. Angel quickly released her and stepped back. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I … I’m sorry.” he repeated, not really knowing what to say. “I’ll leave you to .. umm .. well, .. Good night.” The vampire quickly turned and left the room, the door closing with a soft click behind him.

Part 7

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