Charlie paced back and forth across the cracked cement of the old warehouse, blocking out the noise of the ever growing, restless crowd. He wasn’t an ancient vampire, but he had been sired long enough to know that a gathering of vamps this size was not normal. Questioning his own sanity at having come, he turned to leave, stopping short just as a voice boomed over the crowd.
“May I have your attention?” the large vampire standing atop one of the many rusted, metal storage units asked the anxious crowd.
Charlie turned. So this was the one who had sent out the call. A whispered invitation to all vampires to meet in this place. Charlie had thought it a hoax, possibly a trap, but now as he looked upon the well dressed and mannered figure above them, he knew that this would be a defining moment in his undead life.
The vampire had an air about him, one that exuded power, age. He smiled at the crowd as they all turned to his voice, the picture of old fashioned gentility about his face. When the crowd quieted, the host of the gathering opened his mouth to speak again, closing it and turning his attention to a youthful vampire near the make-shift stage, listening to the youth prattle on to those around him. Ever so gracefully, the older vampire reached down, pulling the other vampire up to the stage by his throat and settling him on his feet right next to him. The youth smiled at the older vamp, thinking himself chosen for what he wasn’t sure. The older vampire smiled back, shoved his hand through the other’s chest, efficiently removing his dead, shriveled heart. The young vamp’s smile disappeared just before his body turned to dust.
There was a rumbling in the crowd, a murmured anger at seeing one of their own kill another vampire. “It angers you, doesn’t it?” the older vampire addressed the crowd. “To see one of your own killed by another of our kind.”
The crowd fell silent.
“Yet you know this has happened many times and have never acted upon this betrayal.”
There were more murmurs. He waited, then spoke again. “How is it that one of our kind can kill us when we are many? He is but one vampire, assisted occasionally by the blond fool. He kills us, yet we let him live.”
“He’s strong….help from the Slayers….Angelus..” the broken calls came from a few in his audience.
“The Slayers have disbursed. Most have fled to Europe. The others are being dealt with. And yes, in his day, he was Angelus. And one, two, even three or four vampires at full strength against Angelus is a risk. The other is younger, but still strong. But where they are strong in body, cunning in battle, they are weak in spirit. Weak with a disease that we shall never contract. A putrid soul.” The older vampire’s face held disgust at the last word. Pacing the stage, he allowed his words to sink into the crowd before turning to them again. “I am Lucius, sired by Mordecai, and I call to you. The Slayers are not a threat, the souled ones are our only obstacle. The only thing standing in our way. We have always been solitary, banding together only with our small families. It is time we stand together, conquer a world in which we should not hide in the shadows, but rule as gods. It is our time. It is our destiny. It is time we begin our attack.”
The crowd of vampires cheered.
The beauty of the garden was blinding, causing Cordelia to blink rapidly against its brilliance. Everyone smiled, played like children. Why were they so carefree? Didn’t they know? Cordelia opened her mouth to warn them, to tell them of the dangers that still lurked in the real world. No sound came. Anger came fast and hard, her face heating with the struggle to speak. They smiled on, laughing. She had to warn them. They had all once been great people, warriors in their own right. The world needed them, needed their help. He needed their help. How could he fight alone? How could they let him fight alone?
A beautiful figure stepped into Cordelia’s view. “What is it Seer? What keeps you bound to the other world?” the voice was music, pure, angelic.
“Why don’t they fight? How can they act as if they don’t know?” Cordelia’s voice came.
“They do not know. Their fight is over, their time passed. This is their reward, their peace?”
“Peace!,“ she exclaimed, outraged. “Ignorance is bliss, is that it? He needs them,” why couldn’t this creature understand? “He can’t fight alone,” Cordelia felt close to tears.
“There will be others that will join the fight,” the beautiful being seemed to tilt her head in sympathy.
“But they won’t know him. They can’t touch him. He’s so alone,” Cordelia seemed to be talking to herself now, her eyes looking far away.
The other’s vanished, only the being of light remained. “Who, Cordelia? Who is alone?” she prompted.
“He is. He’s so lost. He needs…he needs…me.” Cordelia could see his face. Who was he? Why had she forgotten him? Had this beautiful façade really washed away his memory? Was she indeed that shallow? How could she not know him when everything within her seemed somehow connected to him, to belong to him.
“Who, Cordelia? Say his name. Speak his name.”
Oh, God. She had left him there. He was alone. She was alone. “Angel!” Cordelia awoke with a start and jolted upright in bed, her breath coming in hard, deep gasps. She looked up, her eyes finding Angel standing just inside the door to her room.
He seemed shaken, visibly trembling, his eyes looking at hers questioningly in the dimness of the room. “You were talking in your sleep,” he said quietly.
“I….I,” she felt her lower lip quiver slightly. What had shaken her? What had she dreamed? She struggled to see it, reach for it, but it quickly faded into the fog of her mind.
Angel moved in an instinctive gesture of comfort, pacing to the bed quickly. Gently, he sat on the edge, his large hand covering hers, his movements slow, almost cautious. “You said someone was fighting, needed help. Then you said my name.”
Cordelia saw the heart-rending tenderness of his gaze, noticed the small physical signs of the struggle within him to remain gentle, comforting. She stared back at him with a strange relief flooding her to find him whole, unharmed, and with her. “I don’t remember. I can’t remember what it was.” And it didn’t really seem to matter anymore. His nearness was beginning to make her senses spin, chasing away the agony of the mysterious dream, replacing it with a slow, shuddering heat. What was this thing between them? It wasn’t merely lust, at least not for her. There was a tangible bond between them, something real, solid. But Cordelia knew those were her feelings. And as weird and confusing and sudden as they seemed, she couldn’t expect the same rush of emotion from him. He barely knew her.
She fought back her overwhelming need to be close to him, to touch him in the silence of her room. He wanted her, she knew it just in the way he had kissed her before, the way he looked at her now. But Angel was strictly off limits, at least in that area. Besides, she wanted more from him than just sex. As crazy as it made her feel, she wanted his trust, his friendship, his heart, his love. So she would be rational, reasonable Cordelia. She would not rush into this. That was her thought, her vow, even as she felt the very air around them electrifying.
Angel stared at her glistening eyes in the shadows, still feeling a little off balance at being caught in her room. Sure, she had assumed he had come in after hearing her fitful murmuring during the disturbing dream. She didn’t know that he had been there for hours before it had begun, watching her sleep, unable to rest himself knowing that she was just steps away from him, real, alive. So when the dream had began, his intention had been to return to the couch, but then she had spoken, about him. He had every intention of being good, of staying on that goddamned uncomfortable couch, the smell of Cordelia surrounding him, torturing him. But he had never been good at being good. And now he knew, as she stared at him with a mixture of want and vulnerability, that he never would go back to the couch, to what was right.
Cordelia watched as he reached up and brushed away a stray tear she hadn’t even realized was there, his touch stroking an already gently growing fire within her. It rendered her powerless, void of her ever present self-control, her good intentions. Oh, crap. She was lost and she knew it, powerless against whatever glorious discovery or terrible mistake the two of them were about to make. Her fingers ached to reach over and touch him, so she did, placing her palm against the side of his cool face, caressing his cheek gently.
That touch, that gentle caress was his undoing. Desire shot through him, shaking him briefly. Leaning forward, his mouth covered hers, quickly, hungrily, his hands reaching up, burrowing in the thickness of her chestnut hair. She met him with a hunger of her own, giving herself freely over to the torrential storm overcoming them.
Raising his mouth from hers, Angel held her head in his hands, forcing her to look into his eyes. “I love you, Cordelia. I know you can’t believe that right now, but its important that I tell you, that you hear it before….” he trailed off, his eyes staring hard, as if he could convince her of the impossible, will her to believe it.
She shook her head, “You don’t have to say that to me. We both want this. I’m an adult. Whatever happens between us tonight I want to happen. You don’t have to lie. I’d rather you not lie.” He couldn’t love her. He didn’t even know her. So why did it seem to break her heart by the admission that love couldn’t be possible between them?
He tried to speak again, wanting her to know this wasn’t just a one night stand to him or a simple lustful need fulfilled. But when he would have spoken, Cordelia smothered his words with another kiss, unwilling and unable to hear the lie again.
Angel’s spirit sank a little. She would not believe him. Of course she couldn’t. His words were just that to her, words. They held no history, no weight behind them. He closed his eyes, deepening the kiss again. She wouldn’t believe words, so he would show her, make her body feel it even if her mind resisted.
The room was spinning, his kisses drugging, pulling, demanding. She felt his icy hands leave the tangle of her hair, quivered at the brush of them as they began unbuttoning her pajama top with expert skill. The top slid from her shoulders, cool air rushing over her fiery skin as she helped him toss it to the floor. Some alarm kept buzzing in Cordelia’s brain. She tried blocking it out, then remembered its meaning. Placing her hands firmly on Angel’s chest, she pushed him back, his massive body moving back only slightly.
“We can’t,” she breathed heavily. “Angel, the curse.”
“Curse?” his mind took a moment to clear. “Oh,” his stare bored into her eyes, he shook his head slowly as he looked at her. “There’s no more curse, Cordelia. I…um…worked it all out in L.A.. Sorta, faced my own demons, or demon.” How could he explain the entire truth to her? She had been there, or at least the horrible thing that had possessed her had been there. She would not remember calling out Angelus to fight the beast. And he wasn’t sure that even if she did have her memories back that she would believe that facing Angelus in his mind with Faith had been a huge turning point in securing his soul. Defeating Angelus even as he embraced him had somehow merged the two sides of Angel that had always been in conflict. He had fought Angelus for so long only to realized that he needed that part of himself, welcomed it even.
“There is no curse?” Cordelia wanted reassurance.
Angel shook his head.
“So if we…..you won’t wake up and try to eat me in the morning?”
Angel’s mouth watered at her words and he cursed himself for it. He knew what she was afraid of, why she needed reassurance. But part of him did want to devour her, possess her, take everything she had. Angel didn’t answer her, couldn’t. He merely advanced ever so slowly, stalking her the few inches that separated them until she willingly lay back onto the bed.
Angel covered her body, his still clothed. He felt her chest press against his silk shirt, her nipples hard beads pressing against the soft material. His mouth descended, fused with hers again. He was so cold. He had been so cold without her that now her heat, her delicious warmth melted him, soothed him, crept inside of him and nestled itself around his dead heart.
She was burning up, fire shooting through her veins. And why was he still dressed? God, the silk of his shirt brushing against her bare chest was torture. Torture. Cordelia reached up, attempting to rip at the buttons of the shirt.
Standing up, Angel finished the job, discarding the shirt and making quick work with the rest of his clothes as he shrugged free of his pants.
Cordelia raised up on her elbows, stared at him in the weak light from the street lamp outside her window, unable to look away. He was beautiful. Like some long forgotten warrior carved in stone. “You’re beautiful,” it whispered from her lips before she could filter the thought.
He came back to her, covering her body again, the chill of his skin and the weight of him making her shiver a bit, thrilling her.
“Men aren’t supposed to be beautiful, Cordelia,” he smiled slightly, triggering her own smile in response.
Reaching up, she brushed away a few strands of spiky hair from his brow, “Why are you here? With me?” She hated the way she sounded. Those were the questions needy, clingy girlfriends asked when they were insecure. And Cordelia had never been that. At least not until now.
Angel kissed her again before answering. “I told you. I love you, Cordy.”
She closed her eyes in frustration. He could have said anything. “I want you. I need this. I’m lonely.” Anything but, “I love you.” . Because it was the only answer she could not believe.
“Angel-” she started.
This time it was he who cut off her words with a kiss. When she finally was lost again, kissing him back, he left her mouth, trailing kisses to her neck, her ear. “Let me show you how I feel,” he breathed the words into her ear. Excitement surged through her, enveloped her. Her skin tingled as he kissed and nipped at her neck, her eyes closing as she abandoned thought, lost herself in feeling.
Angel leaned up and looked down at her, her chest rising and falling deeply with her quick, heavy breaths. She was so beautiful. His. And he would never let her go again. Her eyes opened halfway, lazy with desire. She loved the way he was looking at her, his eyes roving over her body before returning to her face, a mixture of lust and what she could pretend to be love resting in his eyes. Bending down, he took one of her perfect, hard nipples into his mouth. She gasped. Her hips bucked against him in response, the muscles in her stomach contracting and a hot moan of pleasure escaping her mouth.
God, he loved that sound. He held her there, sucking at her, pulling at her, her body on fire, reveling in the way her body rocked with each swipe of his tongue, each tug of his teeth. Her fingers tangled in his hair, holding onto him as if to anchor herself. He stayed, ravaging her breasts, wanting her to make that sound over and over, feeling himself tighten harder with each little moan that escaped her lips. His hands slid to her tight stomach, to the waist band of her pajama pants.
Cordelia felt the brief rush of cool air as he lifted himself from her body again, stripping the pajama pants from her roughly, taking the tiny scrap of lace underwear with them. His hands strayed back to her hips, one hand sliding between her legs as he leaned down to recapture her mouth. His hand pressed into her heat and she jerked, twisting with pleasure, the need for more. She heard her heartbeat, pounding in her ears, the sound of her own ragged breath in the quiet room. His finger slid through her heat, pressed deep into her.
She shattered, coming so quickly it shocked her. Her eyes opened, met his, noticing the small lines of strain, the thin veneer of control he kept as he watched the orgasm rock her. He added another finger, pushed even deeper so that she could not help the way her hips rode him. Her head tossed back, her muscles no longer in her control. She gasped as his fingers retreated and plunged deep again, cried out in protest when they withdrew completely.
He caught her hips, his thighs wedging between hers. His erection was so hard, painful almost. And watching her come so hard had him teetering on the edge. He needed to be deep inside her, connected to her, bound to her so that she could never leave him again. He pressed against her, so wet and slick and hot, ready for him, needing him as much as he needed her. He looked down at her, stared at her with deep, raw hunger as he pressed into her with infinite slowness, a long stroke that pushed through her tight folds so that she gripped him like a tight fist. A moan escaped his own lips as he waited for her body to adjust, to accept him, waiting to push a little deeper, again and again. Until he was so deep she would never get him out.
They both shuddered with pleasure as he began to move, withdrawing so slowly that she thought she would die before he came back to her. Her nails dug deep into his arms, hanging onto him as he plunged back into her, thrusting hard and deep as she cried out. He didn’t stop, he couldn’t, surging powerfully into her, thick, hard. Cordelia plummeted, fell as stars seemed to explode around her. She couldn’t catch her breath, think. Her body shattered again, fragmented into so many pieces that she thought she might die from sheer pleasure.
He heard her cries, driving him harder, faster. And then she said his name, a sob of pleasure. It was that which sent him careening, following her, chasing her over the edge. Every muscle in his body tightened to the point of pain. Cordelia’s body was like hot silk. Her breaths still coming in soft gasps as she milked him, squeezing and gripping him. For a moment he felt alive as he pulsed inside of her, the rush of the moment shaking him. He had never felt so much, not in life or in death. Her muscles convulsed around him, over and over, his body and mind and soul burrowed deep within her with every pull until his body, so strong and ever-ready, felt as if mush. A weak heap of bones and muscle, gloriously sated.
He laid down beside her, pulling her with him as he went, wrapping himself around her. He kissed her cheek, her mouth, feeding off of her lips gently before nestling her onto his chest.
Cordelia’s arms crept up around his neck, her eyes closed as she spoke softly. “That was….” she breathed a deep sigh. “I don’t think I’ll ever move again.”
Angel’s chest rumbled slightly beneath her ear with a short noise of satisfaction. “Mmm,” his eyes no longer able to open either. “That’s good,” he mumbled. Christ, he was so tired. A kind of contented lethargy overtaking him. When had he slept last? Truly slept since Cordelia had been gone? He couldn’t seem to remember as his mind began to drift to sleep.
A short laugh escaped Cordelia as she nuzzled closer, “Good?” she whispered then yawned.
“If you can’t move you’ll never leave. Never again,” his uncensored thought came as he drifted off to sleep.
Cordelia’s brow furrowed but she was too damned tired to analyze those two last words, even though she knew they held importance. After all, she needed a clear head to decipher just what he had meant by the comment, and her head was anything but clear. It was full of warmth and passion and happiness for the first time in a long while; and for once in her life she would not ruin the moment with sense. Sense could wait until morning. Until she had to face the consequences of what had happened between the two of them. Wrapping her arms around Angel a little tighter, she let her mind drift between sleep and consciousness, wishing morning would never come.
Angel jerked away from the bright light that beamed down upon him, but when he felt no burn, no searing pain, he slowly straightened.
He was dreaming, dreaming of a beautiful garden, full of light.
He never dreamed of the sun anymore.
He looked in the distance across a gleaming lake, watching as seemingly grown souls played as children in a meadow.
“Hello, Warrior,” a voice almost too beautiful to be real came from behind him.
Angel turned, his eyes focusing on a glowing being that held the outline of a feminine shape. Suspicion crept into his mind. He dreamed, but not often. And his dreams were never remotely like the one he was having.
Someone, or something was fucking with him. He tried to conjure up the feel of Cordelia in his arms, tried to will himself back into her room, her bed.
Nothing but the anger of being anywhere but with her. “What is this place?” he growled.
“It is what she gave up to come back to you,” the being answered him honestly.
Angel looked around, taking in the perfection of the water, the trees, each individual blade of grass. The blandness of it all seemed almost sickening. But maybe that was because he didn’t belong. It was obviously heaven, or something close to what humans got when they died. Good humans. Humans like Cordelia. Something twisted inside of him at the thought that she had willingly left for him. That he had been the cause, yet again, of her life changing for the worse. It didn’t matter. She was his. Just as he was hers. They belonged to one another, with one another, wherever that might be. And anyone who tried to pull them apart, good or bad, was an enemy. He turned a stony gaze back to the angelic figure.
“And you’ve brought me here because….?” his voice dripped with annoyance. It didn’t matter that she had been here. She didn’t belong. He would not let her go again.
“Dreams are the only way I may speak with you without others knowing. Cordelia is in danger, Warrior.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Alright, Angel. She is in danger. Her life will be taken. By a vampire.”
A trembling rage made its way through every cell of Angel’s body. “I won’t let that happen. Never,” he ground out the words.
“You do not understand War….Angel. It has been decided. There is nothing that can be done to change her fate.”
“Then why bring me here?” he roared. “What is this, another test, another torture? Haven’t you and your kind had enough of playing with me? I can promise you one thing. I’m through playing. She will not die. And if by some minute chance I fail to protect her,” he stalked close to the being, threatening. “There won’t be any plastic little corner like this one left for you or your kind to hide in.”
“Her life will be taken from her, Warrior,” her voice remained beautiful but solemn. “And you must be the one to do it.”