Title: Payback, Angel Style
Author: Cordelia’s Destiny
Category: Fluffy Angst? Angsty Fluff? I don’t know how to categorize it.
Content: C/A, X/Anya
Summary: Cordelia makes a request of Angel, and he agrees with a condition of his own.
Spoilers: AtS, Season 3, BTVS Season 6
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: I don’t care where, just let me know.
Notes: No Connor; Visions are painful but not deadly; “Epiphany” anchored his soul.
Before you read anything, know that this story’s had a major overhaul. It started out as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of thing, but that fell by the wayside when I wasn’t able to conjure up an ending. But my muse is back now (yea!!) and so here it is, new and improved.
Feedback: Yes, Please! It keeps me motivated even through the worst of times.
“Oh, c’mon, Angel, please? Please? Pretty please?”
Cordelia’s beautiful hazel eyes threatened to mesmerize Angel as they shone with her excitement. Literally bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, she was so excited her energy couldn’t be contained.
All Angel wanted to do was smile at her and agree to anything, but losing his tenuous control around Cordelia would be disastrous. She could practically push him over with a feather as it was. Angel didn’t need any more excuses to give in to her.
Cordy was oblivious to his inner dilemma, still waiting with sparkling eyes and a cheeky grin that tugged at his un-beating heart.
Sighing long-sufferingly, Angel closed his eyes and shook his head. “Cordelia, I don’t want to.”
“Angel!” She looked shocked, hurt even, that he’d said that. “Please? When was the last time I asked you for something? Anything?”
Angel’s raised eyebrows betrayed his disbelief.
She frowned when she realized what she’d just said. “Okay, so don’t answer that. Silly question. But I really, really need you to do this. You’re my only hope!”
“What about Wesley? Can’t you get him to do it?” Angel asked hopefully.
“Wesley?” She looked at him askance like he’d lost his marbles. “Um, no. No way. Wesley wouldn’t work for this at all. Nobody’d believe him.” Waving a hand in his face preemptively, she added, “And before you say anything, Gunn’s busy. I already tried him.”
“You asked Gunn before you asked me?” The question came out before Angel could take it back. He didn’t want to do this in the first place; why did he care if she asked Gunn first?
She looked at him strangely again. “Yeah. And Fred’s a girl. Can’t do it with another girl.” Her looked turned thoughtful. “Well, I can, but I just . . . no.” Her face scrunched up. “That wouldn’t be in the neighborhood of normal for me. Eww.”
A grunt escaped Angel as he shook his head and stared at her, his arms crossed.
Cordy tried to stare him down, but her impatience finally won out. In a gesture of exasperation, she threw up her hands. “Please, Angel! I promise, I’ll never ask for anything again. Honest! Cross my heart and hope to die!”
He couldn’t help but smile. “That serious, huh?”
“Angel! Pay attention!” Marching up to him, she crossed her arms over her chest and stood up to her full height, as if that would intimidate him. “Yes or no?” She stepped closer to him, nose to nose.
Not to be out done, Angel said nothing, his dark eyes boring into hers.
“Yes or no?” she hissed, eyes flashing.
He sighed again. Why fight the inevitable? “Fine. I’ll do it. But on one condition.”
“Thank you thank you thank you!!!!” she squealed, jumping and throwing her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek and squeezing him so hard it would’ve cracked the bones of a mortal.
Once he’d managed to disengage her from his neck, he held her shoulders and made meaningful eye contact.
“One condition, Cordelia,” he said again.
“Okay, what?” she said, beaming, not really caring what he was going to say.
“You owe me, Cordy. I’m going to cash in this favor, and you’re going to pay me back. In full. And I guarantee you, it will be something you don’t want to do. Do you promise to pay me back?”
“Yeah, okay, whatever!!” she said, shrugging him off. Squealing again, she bounded away, throwing her last comment over her shoulder. “This is going to be the best cruise EVER!”
Her footsteps echoed around the corner before Angel picked his jaw up off the floor.
“Cruise?!?” He shouted after her. “Cordy, you just said a vacation! I can’t go on a cruise!”
“Too late now, Angel! You’re mine!” she called back, her disembodied voice echoing from her desk.
Angel sighed, shaking his head. Taking stock of the situation, he remembered the one bright spot in this craziness and a slow smile spread across his face. Cordelia owed him. Normally, he wouldn’t go anywhere near what she was asking of him. At the thought of being locked away in a tiny, airless room below decks while she partied it up in the sunshine, Angel shuddered.
She was going to pay dearly for this.
“Okay, Angel, these are the rules.”
They were standing in the lobby the day before they were to set sail. Cordelia had dragged Angel away from his weapon’s practice, so he wasn’t too happy already, and here she was, making demands of him right off the bat.
“Rules? Aren’t I doing you a favor just by going with you, Cordelia?” Angel’s face was a disbelieving contortion of arched eyebrows and a furrowed forehead. “I think you’re pushing it a little.”
“Tough luck,” she said, grinning up at him. “You agreed, fair and square, even demanded your little payback, and you’re going to do this my way. That, or I’ll leave you in the cabin all by your lonesome while I lay out by the pool in my itty bitty bikini and flirt with the lifeguards.”
Angel gulped at the image that flashed before his eyes. Cordy. Itty Bitty Bikini. Since when had the idea of viewing so much of Cordelia’s skin become so enticing?
He cleared his throat and pushed the frown firmly back on his face. “Okay, fine. What rules are we talking about here?”
She was all business. “You’d better sit down.”
“I’m fine, Cor.” He was leaned up against the counter in the lobby, black button-up shirt and black chinos. Shiny shoes gleamed in the low lights, his hair spiky and tousled.
She was momentarily distracted by the rugged picture he made. Salty Goodness, most definitely. Too bad he was hands-off to her.
“Well, I’m sitting,” she said, feeling somewhat dizzy. Why did he have to be so good-looking? It interfered with her workplace efficiency. Damn him!
Snuggling back into the couch, she crossed her legs and opened her Cruise Notebook. No harm in being organized for something as important as this. Quickly, she flipped to the “Game Plan” tab and began to review her notes.
“Okay. Here’s the deal.” Her eyes raised to his face. A frown replaced her smile when she saw that his eyes were slightly glazed, fixed on her golden calf, bobbing as she kept a rhythm that calmed her excited jitters.
She snapped her fingers loudly and his eyes whipped up to hers. “Pay attention, Angel! This is important!”
“Yeah, okay,” he said, clearing his throat and trying to concentrate. Maybe he should outlaw miniskirts in the workplace.
“Now, it wouldn’t be my first choice, since I prefer tropical destinations, but our cruise is actually going to Alaska. It’s the last cruise of the season, and it will get dark early most of the time when we get there,” she added for his benefit.
He nodded approvingly. The last thing he wanted was to be cooped up in a stateroom while Cordelia meandered sunny beaches without him.
“This is a couples-only cruise, one that caters to newlyweds and in-love couples who want to spice up their love lives a little bit.”
He frowned at that and shifted uncomfortably against the counter.
“But we don’t’ have to do any of the really coupley stuff,” she reassured him with a sweet smile. It turned to a disgusted grimace as she reviewed the ship’s brochure. “They have some really kinky workshops, like ‘The Delights of Kama Sutra’ and ‘Tantric Sex for Beginners’ and ‘Amateur Home Video 101’, but I think we should steer clear of that.”
He gulped again, images of naked, sweaty sauna sessions and partnered massages popping into his brain. “Uh, yeah. That would be a good idea, I think.”
“Yeah, I think so, too.” She pulled her collar away from her neck, suddenly aware of the thick tension in the room. Was it hot in here?
“Since we’re just pretending.”
God, was her heart racing?
“Ahem, well . . .” Cordelia said with a shaky laugh. “There’s lots of other things to do. Dance classes, massage therapy, spas, parties, and of course, all-you-can-eat buffets.”
“Speaking of eating. . .” Angel said, realizing he’d have to figure out how to smuggle his liquid diet on board.
“Oh, that’s no problem.” Cordelia waved him away with an airy hand. “I already called ahead and said we had to have a fridge and microwave in our room because you’re on a special protein-shake diet. They’re totally into that stuff anyway. No problem.”
“Good.” Angel sounded relieved.
“So, anyway, back to the rules.” She perused her notes again. “It sounds like everyone will be out really late and getting up late, so nobody will blink an eye if we don’t leave the stateroom until late afternoon.”
“So, what, they’ll think we’ve been making hot monkey love all day?” He asked, his face pure innocence.
Hot monkey love? Her Angel just didn’t say things like that. Her face was a shocked blankness, she blinked owlishly at him before continuing.
“So we have to be a couple. Like kiss and stuff, just so we can convince them. They were really insistent about this when I was setting it up. They said that we had to be a couple, had to be together, and sleeping together, or they wouldn’t let us on board. Said it would mess up the atmosphere or whatever.”
Angel just raised his eyebrows at this.
“Basically, I just want you to act like you can’t take your eyes off me, act like you love me. You know, that kind of thing, okay?”
She smiled brightly at him again and he couldn’t help but grin back. The only problem was that his grin was accompanied by a mischievous twinkle in the depths of his brown eyes, and it made Cordelia’s own eyes widen, then dart away nervously.
Oh, crap. It was so unnerving when he got like that. Like a hint of Angelus popping out, all wriggly eyebrows, tight leather pants and half-unbuttoned shirt to say, “Hey, baby, what’re YOU doin’?”
“So that’s it? All I have to do is touch you and kiss you, fawn all over you like you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen?” Angel summed up.
“Yeah, exactly,” she nodded, pleased that he got the picture.
He sighed resignedly, tucking his humor away so that she saw no hint of it behind his eyes.
“Iguess I can do that,” he said dejectedly, shaking his head and looking down at the floor. “If I have to.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself or anything,” Cordelia said scathingly. Geez, like it would be such a freakin’ burden to pretend he thought she was breathtaking.
“What?” he asked, the picture of innocence. “I can pretend I think you’re beautiful. No problem!”
“I am beautiful!” she huffed, her nose scrunched up in irritation.
He shook his head at her again, giving her a pitying look. “Really, Cor, you should watch that vanity thing. It isn’t good to think so highly of yourself. Makes you sound like a snob.”
“Shut up, Angel!”
“Geez, what did I do?” he put on his best hurt look.
“You’re yanking my chain, that’s what you’re doing! Knock it off!” she glowered at him, crossing her arms.
He just smirked at her. “Anything else I should know, honey?”
“No,” she said, still frowning. “I think that’s it. We fly out of LAX tomorrow night at 8 p.m., land in Seattle and take the ship from there. We can board anywhere from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. day after tomorrow, and its supposed to rain so we shouldn’t have any trouble with sun or anything.”
“Sounds good,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”
“You’d better be,” she said under her breath, then turned to walk back to her desk.
“Oh, Cordy?” Angel said lightly, causing her to turn back to him before she disappeared.
“I’ll be collecting that payback sometime on this cruise, just so you know,” he said, a cheeky grin on his face, the twinkle back, sparkling like a diamond in his eye.
She cleared her throat, suddenly nervous. “Sure, whatever, Angel,” she said, then scurried out of the room.
He smiled evilly after her, unable to tamp down the joy his demon was feeling at this very moment. The idea of having Cordelia completely under his control was a heady feeling. Oh, he had so many great options as to how he would make her pay for the hell this cruise was sure to be.
This was going to be so much damn fun!
Docking Pier of the ship Paradise
Eros Cruise Lines
The ship loomed in front of them, a gleaming pearl in spite of the dreary, overcast weather. Looking up at the sky, Angel noted the tightly packed blanket of clouds and was thankful for the ability to be outside during the day, for once. It didn’t happen very often.
“C’mon, Angel! We’re going to miss it if you don’t hurry!”
“Cordy, we have like 7 hours left before they leave us behind. I don’t think we’ll miss it,” he said dryly.
She rolled her eyes and blew her hair out of her face in exasperation. “Well, you’re like super vamp and all, so what’s the big deal with the luggage? Can’t you carry my bags, too?”
Angel looked down at himself. He dragged two large suitcases on wheels behind him, a backpack was slung on his back, two duffle bags hung from his shoulders, and another carry-on dangled from around his neck.
Only one of the bags was his.
“If you didn’t pack your whole damn apartment into this stuff I wouldn’t be so slow, Cordy,” he grumbled.
“Well, duh,” she said, glaring at him scathingly. “You have to bring lots of clothes for a cruise. You have to dress up for dinner, then you have to have work-out and lounging clothes, and casual clothes, and bathing suits. And we’re going to Alaska, so that meant I needed sweaters, and thermal underwear, jeans, pants and scarves, and hats, and gloves, and snow boots. That’s all, Angel.”
“Oh. Sure you didn’t forget anything?” he said sarcastically.
“Well just because you have no body temperature and can’t feel the frigid cold of the Klondike doesn’t mean you have to be prejudiced against my inferior human body.”
He didn’t think he’d go so far as to call her body inferior. Eyeing her curves appreciatively, he couldn’t help but notice her backside swaying enticingly, the muscles in her ass squeezing and releasing as she walked.
Before he knew it, he’d drooled a little on his chin. Feeling like a doofus, he looked around Looking around quickly to see if anyone noticed. These heated thoughts had to be shoved away now.
At his side, Cordy whispered under her breath as they approached the gangplank. “Showtime!” she said, grinning cheekily at him.
Walking up to the fresh-faced young attendant, she handed him their tickets.
“Cordelia and Angel Chase checking in, please,” she said, smiling coyly at the young man. They’d decided last minute that it would be easier to pretend they were married instead of just boyfriend/girlfriend. What with Angel having no last name and all. Gunn had known some guy from his old life who could get Angel the right kind of documentation.
A red flush crept up from the attendant’s neck, spreading over his pale face as the pretty young woman flirted with him. Angel growled low at the insolent young man. Kids these days had no sense of how to treat a lady.
“Here you go, Mrs. Chase,” the young man said, handing two stamped tickets back to her, along with a pamphlet with the ship’s logo in gold foil on the front cover. “Your itinerary for the cruise is in this folder, so please don’t lose it. You’ve been scheduled for several activities while you’re on board with us. Thank you for sailing with Eros Cruise Lines. Bon Voyage!”
The last greeting was said with a flourish of his gloved hand to the gangplank, and Cordelia smiled at him reassuringly. She turned to Angel and winked.
“Of course, muffin,” he said back, then grinned wider when her frown was forced back into prominence by his cheesy nickname.
“Eww, Angel, come up with a pet name sexier than that,” she whispered heatedly.
“Like what?” he asked innocently. “Honey bunch? Sugar Pie? Sweetiekins? Hot Lips?” He whispered them, too, but wasn’t able to keep the laughter out of his hushed tones.
With each name, her eyes flashed brighter. “No! Ew! Those are crusty old married couple pet names, not ‘oh-god-I-want-to-see-you-naked’ newlywed nicknames!” she hissed.
“You want to see me naked?” he asked.
“Angel!” she hissed. “Shut. Up!”
“Okay! Geez! You brought it up, Cor.”
“Just forget it!”
“Fine,” he said, grinning again. “Whatever you want, baby doll.”
The steward took their bags to their stateroom and unlocked it for them, handing them the key card and accepting the tip without a word. Cordelia gasped as she entered the bedroom, stopping just inside the door and staring in disbelief.
Angel came in behind her, then came to an abrupt halt himself.
They were looking at a room that resembled a set used for a porn magazine photo shoot. Absent were the run-of-the-mill floral bedspreads, Formica counter tops, and wood-laminate dressers. In their place was an amazing variety of silk, leather, satin, and fur. Vibrant tones of scarlet, fuschia, royal purple, and burgundy swathed every surface. A huge bed took up the majority of the small stateroom, set on a dais in the middle of lush, thick-pile carpet. It seemed like thousands of pillows covered the bed, luxuriously overstuffed, begging to be snuggled into.
“Oh, god,” Cordelia whispered. “This is straight off the Playboy channel,” she moaned.
“And you know that how?” Angel asked.
“Shut up, dumb ass,” she shot back, casting him a withering glance.
“It looks comfortable,” he said, trying to make it sound better.
“It looks like Aladdin’s boudoir, only he went for the ‘pimp chic’ decor,” she said, not varnishing the truth at all. She eyed the bed again with a practiced eye. “But you’re right, it does look kind of comfy. Kinky, though.”
“Where’s the bathroom?” Angel asked, looking for a door. It was hard to find one, being that nearly every surface, save the floor, was mirrored.
“Over there, I think,” Cordelia said, crossing the room to a small doorway, no door covering it. She entered it cautiously.
Again, she came to an abrupt stop just over the threshold. “There’s a Jacuzzi tub in here big enough for three people,” she whispered, awed. “And a two-person shower.” The toilet was ensconced behind a mirrored door, a tiny closet that she almost missed.
“I thought they tried to save space on a ship like this,” Angel commented.
“They do, usually,” Cordelia said, finally looking back at him. “But the brochure says that since this is an exclusive line; they expanded the space and have fewer staterooms. That leaves them more room for ‘amenities’ like this.”
He walked in behind her and took a look at the bathroom. “The tub’s wall is glass.”
“So?” she said, gesturing her hands for him to get to the point.
“So, you can’t hide under bubbles,” he said, a dark glint in his eye. “You take a bath by yourself, I walk in and . . .” he let the sentence trail off.
“Oh, god,” she said quietly, her eyes wide.
“Yeah,” he agreed, not able to keep his body from reacting to that fantasy.
They backed out of the bathroom and warily perused the rest of the room, opening closets and dresser drawers.
Not three minutes later Cordelia shrieked as she opened the drawer of one of the bedside tables, then slammed it shut and jumped back. “EWWWW!!!” she shrieked, her face contorted in a grimace of pure disgust.
“What?” Angel asked, trying hard not to laugh at her.
“There are. . . there are. . .” she seemed like she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She shuddered. “There are toys in there!” she finally whispered disgustedly.
“Oh, really?” Angel said, purposefully putting on a hopeful, eager look. “What kind? Let me see!”
“Oh, god, Angel. You’re such a perv!” she said in disgust.
He just laughed at her, going over and sitting on the bed, propping back up on the pillows and crossing his arms. He wiggled his eyebrows at her and nodded over at the closet he’d checked. “There are some costumes in that one if you’re interested.”
She gulped. “Costumes?”
“Yeah, you know, for role playing. There was a cheerleader outfit, a fireman’s uniform, a nurse’s uniform, cop’s blues, a catholic school girl get-up—,”
She rushed over and clamped her hand over his mouth, bringing his running inventory to a grinding halt. “Just—Just stop, Angel! I can’t take it.” She shuddered again.
“What, does this den of iniquity offend your delicate sensibilities?” he asked, laughing at her again.
Her standard withering glare was back in place, turned up full volume. “Shut up, Angel. It just makes me uncomfortable, okay? I mean, it’s not like we’re going to use any of this.”
“We aren’t?” He managed to sound disappointed and pouted just a fraction.
“Angel!” She hit him. Hard.
“Ow, Cordy!” He frowned at her.
“Oh, shut up, you big baby,” she admonished. “Scoot over.” She shoved at his shoulder, forcing him to move to the center of the bed.
He patted the opened space next to him. “Bed’s comfy,” he commented. “It’s got a lot of bounce.” He bounced once as if to underscore the point.
She looked at him warily. There had to be a sexual innuendo in there somewhere, but she wasn’t going to encourage him any more. God, what had she gotten herself into this time?
He finally took pity on her and smiled genuinely. “Let’s go explore the rest of the ship, okay? We’re bound to find some normal things around here, things that are less ‘pimp chic’ as you put it.”
Her eyes lit up at the prospect of finding something that didn’t resemble a brothel. “Okay! Maybe we should check out the indoor swimming pool!”
“You got it,” he agreed, and they both sprang off the bed and bounced out of the room.
Angel gave one glance back at the room before he shut and locked the door, smiling inwardly. Good thing he’d kept the pay slot for bed vibration to himself.
Two hours later found the ‘newlyweds’ having a strawberry daiquiri in one of the cafés lining the promenade. The ship had an amazing array of shops, both clothing and otherwise, but it wasn’t without its more risqué elements. Cordy had shuffled hurriedly past two sex shops, a plethora of lingerie boutiques, and one novelty store that advertised “Body Frosting—Buy One, get One Free.” But they’d perused book stores, gift shops, and two pricey jewelry stores, one that even had a great selection of antique rings, pendants, and brooches. Cordelia had looked longingly at that display for nearly twenty minutes before Angel dragged her on to the next store.
They’d been wandering for nearly four hours, and they hadn’t covered more than two decks. There were seven that were devoted to entertainment in one form or another. Good thing this cruise lasted for a week.
Sitting in companionable silence, each of them was left to his or her own thoughts. Cordelia was quietly sipping her drink when she suddenly began coughing and sputtering, pointing shakily behind Angel. Her eyes were wide, and from across the table, Angel could sense her quickening heartbeat. A frown crossed his face that there might be danger nearby, but when he turned around, his own mouth dropped open in shock.
Anya and Xander were ordering drinks at the bar.
“Oh, god!” Cordelia whispered. “Of all the places, we see somebody we know. Here! What the hell are we going to do, Angel? We can’t hide, it’s too late! They’ll see us!”
“Calm down, Cordelia!” Angel whispered back. “Just act natural, okay? Pretend we’re together like we’ve been planning, and we’ll deal with the aftermath after the cruise is over.”
“But if they know that we’re together, that means—” she shuddered at the ramifications, her eyes closed in mortification.
“I know,” he agreed, his eyes serious. “But we don’t want to miss this, right? I mean, it’s a cruise. How often do we get a vacation like this?”
“You’re right,” she agreed. “We’ll have to fool them, too. But why did it have to be them, Angel? Of all the people, it would just have to be these Xander and Anya! The two people on earth least likely to keep a secret!” Her statement was a moan, eyes sliding shut in horror.
Angel’s frown matched hers. This cruise had suddenly turned into hell.