“We haven’t done this in a while,” Cordelia murmured, her voice taking on a dream-like quality.
Angel was moving a soapy sponge in long smooth strokes over the golden expanse of her back, and her eyes were closed, her chin dipped down towards her chest. The seer could feel the tension draining from her muscles as her body slowly relaxed under his tender touch, the effect of his ministrations utterly hypnotic.
“No – I don’t suppose we have,” Angel concurred quietly, taking down the showerhead and rinsing away the surplus suds with the warm jets of water.
“I missed it.”
“Yeah, me too baby.”
Showering or bathing together had become a regular ritual for the couple during the months that they’d been together. They used it as a way of reaffirming their emotional closeness and, while the habit often led to lovemaking, it sometimes did not. This private pastime had fallen by the wayside during their estrangement, and they both were keen to re-establish it in the wake of their longed-for reconciliation.
As the vampire leaned over and replaced the showerhead on its hook, Cordelia twisted around to face him, tilting her head back to look up into his deep brown eyes. Angel smiled down into her honeyed gaze, stroking the pads of his fingers over the dewy skin of her back until his hands came to rest in the hollow at the base of her spine.
“I love you,” he whispered, bending to capture her upturned mouth in a sweet kiss.
The seer and vampire’s lips moved harmoniously together in a slow, sensual glide, their tongues slipping out to curl possessively around each other as their embrace deepened in its loving intensity.
Cordelia’s need to breathe eventually overrode the magnetic draw of their kiss however, and the two reluctantly pulled apart, releasing twin sighs of regret. Standing with their arms loosely around each other and their foreheads touching, they smiled goofily at one another, looking deep into each other’s eyes.
Cordelia finally lowered her gaze and leaned forward to kiss the hard muscle of her boyfriend’s breastbone, her soft lips caressing the healing wound marring the pale skin of his chest.
“You’re not even going to have a scar,” she groused, circling the tip of her finger around the swollen and reddened flesh.
“It’s not fair; I got stuck with this eye-sore,” she added, wrinkling her nose in distaste as she indicated the silvery rebar scar on her lower abdomen.
“Cordy, it’s hardly even noticeable,” Angel reassured her, dropping to his knees and pressing his mouth to the circular mark on her belly to emphasise his point. He lightly circled the small scar with the tip of his tongue, cupping her round bottom in his big hands to hold her still.
Lifting his lips away from her silky skin, the vampire mapped out her hourglass shape with his hands, slowly rising to his feet as he did so. His cool palms skimmed over her shapely thighs and curvy hips, lingering briefly in the dip of her waist before continuing onwards on their voyage of discovery.
As his thumbs teased the sides of her full breasts, Cordelia sighed in pleasure, her nipples tightening to hard peaks in response to his soft caresses. His gentle fingers delicately traced out the vertebrae in her back, danced down the length of her spine, then swept over the smooth curve of her bottom before finally settling on the tops of her hips.
“You’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen,” he huskily remarked, once his tender exploration of her body was complete.
“Flattery will get you everywhere, big guy.”
“I certainly hope so,” Angel replied in jest, his chocolate eyes sparkling merrily at her.
He was rewarded with a light slap to the buttocks for his trouble. “Hey – I’m more than just your sex toy, you know.”
“You are?” he asked, all wide-eyed and innocent. “Damn – where did I go wrong?”
“You are *so* not funny.” Cordelia rolled her eyes in a long-suffering gesture before playfully sticking her tongue out at the smirking vampire.
Angel chuckled and engulfed her in a big bear-hug, affectionately nuzzling at her neck with teasing lips. “I love you,” he murmured against her skin.
“I love you too,” the seer returned sincerely.
When he released her, Cordelia stretched up on her tiptoes and pressed a soft kiss to his mouth, then reached out to retrieve the discarded sponge. Lathering it up with fresh shower-gel, she ducked under her boyfriend’s arm, shifting position so that she could wash his back as he had hers.
As she moved the sponge, in small circular motions, over the muscular planes of his shoulders and upper back, Angel sighed – he had missed this ease of intimacy. Shutting Cordelia out had been a defensive mechanism, an automatic response to his fear of losing her. In the end though, it had only caused him – and her – further heartache; he couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted out, all of a sudden.
“It’s okay – I know you were only kidding about the sex toy thing.”
“No – I didn’t mean that.”
Cordelia looked down at her feet, shifting uncomfortably – she wasn’t sure she was ready for the big talk just yet. Forcibly swallowing her apprehension, she resumed her washing of the vampire’s broad back, steeling herself for the conversation that was to come.
“You really want to do this now?”
“It’ll be much easier once we make it over this first hurdle, I promise. We have to start talking about the reasons why we let what happened come between us, Cor. If we keep putting it off because it’s ‘not the right time’ or whatever, we may never get round to it, and letting things drift would be a serious mistake.”
The seer nodded, then realising he couldn’t see her acquiescence in their current positions, voiced her agreement instead. “Alright – so start by telling me what you’re sorry for.”
“For being such a complete idiot and taking out all my internal frustrations on you. For shutting you out when things got rough – you tried so hard to connect with me and I wouldn’t let you in.”
“Okay, so pushing me away was a big ol’ dumbass thing to do, but you did have a right to be angry with me. I should have told you about Styjasimok’s prediction, and I didn’t.” Cordelia sighed and wrapped her arms around his middle, laying her cheek against the tattoo on his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
Angel covered her hands with his, squeezing her fingers gently. “I know you are, baby. I was very angry with you for a while, but it honestly didn’t last very long. After a few days, all the pent-up fury, that I directed your way, didn’t really have anything to do with you personally.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I think it’s the total injustice of the situation that really gets to me. The pain you go through because of the visions – it’s not right. You don’t deserve to suffer like that.”
“I thought we agreed we would be completely honest with each other from now on,” Cordelia gently chided him, knowing there was significantly more to it than simple anger at the unfairness of her vision headaches.
Angel immediately tensed up at her quiet reproach, so she switched tactics, deciding to approach the issue from a more oblique angle.
“That test in the Gauntlet – the one with my double – why did you have to face that?” she asked, deliberately softening her tone, since she knew that acknowledging his fears was extremely difficult for the naturally reticent vampire.
Angel tightened his grip on her hands before eventually answering her query in a low hesitant voice. “You don’t know Cordy – you can’t see,” he choked out painfully. “The visions have a much worse effect on you than they ever did on Doyle. He was half-demon, he could handle the pain, but you…”
The vampire broke off and shook his head before continuing. “I’m so scared that being human makes you vulnerable to physical effects from the visions. The inevitability of losing you is something that I’m going to have to face sooner or later, but I want it to be much, much later. It’s way too soon right now.”
“The PTB’s wouldn’t have let Doyle pass the visions on to me if they were going to hurt me,” Cordelia told him assuredly. “Styjasimok said it was my destiny to become your seer, and I truly believe he was telling the truth. What we’re doing – Angel Investigations, your mission – it feels so right inside; I can’t explain why, it just does.”
The vampire let out a short laugh, “I wish I could be that trusting Cordy, I really do.”
“If you can’t trust your own instincts, then try to trust in mine Angel, please. Maybe the visions are more painful for me, but I can handle them, so quit worrying so much. And what makes you think that losing me is inevitable? I plan on sticking around for a *very* long time, broody boy.”
Angel turned around and drew her close, burying his face in the wet, silken strands of her hair. “Time is relative when you’re immortal and over two hundred years old,” he explained quietly. “You’re not going to live forever. You’re human so you will die eventually – there is no escaping from that fact.”
“Life without you is something that I’m going to have to prepare myself for, but I don’t want to ruin what we have by dwelling on it right now. If I seem over-protective sometimes though, that’s the reason – I have to do my utmost to keep you safe from harm; I need you in my life too much to lose you prematurely for no good reason.”
Cordelia tightened her arms around him; wishing she could ease his angst over her eventual death, but knowing it wasn’t possible. He was right, someday she would leave him; that was a certainty that she could do nothing about. Since there wasn’t anything she could say to make things better, she held her peace on the heart-rending subject.
“I thought you didn’t want me to be your seer, cus you thought I wasn’t good enough for the job,” she admitted to him instead.
Angel was silent for a moment as he absorbed this information. “So that’s what Wesley was getting at,” he eventually replied.
“He told me that you were making all sorts of wrong assumptions, but he never got round to filling me in on what they all were. I guess I can see how you could construe that from my behaviour – it couldn’t be further from the truth, mind.”
“Yeah well, I get that *now*” Cordelia mumbled into his chest, sighing as she ran her hands up and down his bare back. Pulling out of his embrace slightly, she tipped her head back to look up at him.
“I think that’s enough heavy talk for the time being,” she decided. “First hurdle is over with – we should take a break before we face the second one.”
“Alright,” the vampire agreed softly, tenderly brushing a few damp strands of dark hair out her eyes. “We’ll talk some more tomorrow, okay?”
“It is tomorrow,” Cordelia reminded him with a teasing grin.
“Well the day after tomorrow then,” Angel said, crossing his eyes in mock irritation at her nit-picking.
They both laughed, each grateful to release the tension that their emotive conversation had built-up inside. As their merriment died down, they instinctively leaned in to share another kiss, drawn together like opposing poles on a pair of magnets.
This second kiss turned out to be more passionate than the first, and Cordelia smiled when she felt Angel stir against her belly in involuntary response. Moving her hand downwards, the seer actively encouraged her boyfriend’s lower body reaction to their embrace, and was exorbitantly pleased when his sex twitched and swelled in her teasing grasp.
My gorgeous vamp is so easy sometimes, she laughingly observed to herself.
The aroused vampire let out a tortured groan, and firmly removed her playful hand from his raging hard-on, anxious to stop himself from erupting all over her fingers like a pubescent teenager.
A second later, Cordelia felt her back flush against the shower wall, and her eyes shot open when her warm flesh collided with the disparate temperature of the cool tiles behind her. A wave of goose bumps travelled the length and breadth of her body, pleasantly prickling at her skin.
“Can you be quiet?” Angel asked, bending low to whisper in her ear, sending shivers down her spine with the seductive tone of his voice.
The seer grew hot, his words reminding her that Faith was asleep in the other room, literally a few metres away. Making love with the possibility of discovery excited Cordelia more than she cared to admit, and she nodded her consent before the more conservative side of her nature could put the kibosh on the naughty idea.
Insistent fingers immediately slipped up between her thighs to trace out the moist opening to her body with a light touch, and she gasped at the deeply erotic sensation. Biting her lower lip to hold back the loud moan that threatened to escape her throat, she squeezed her thighs around the probing hand between her legs, silently begging for more.
Angel duly obliged, pushing two fingers up into her slick core while he expertly circled her throbbing clitoris with his thumb. With his free hand, he cupped the heavy weight of her right breast in his palm and bent to draw the distended rosebud nipple into his mouth.
Pressing her palms flat against the tiled wall, Cordelia arched up into his touch with a breathless moan, her body in sensory overload from the twin sensations of his suckling lips on her breast, and his fingers and thumb stroking at the juncture of her thighs.
Unable to help herself, she began to gyrate against his stroking fingers, hooking her tanned leg over his hip to aid her wanton movements. While his mouth suckled hard at her turgid nipple, Angel instinctively swept his hand around to her back, pressing firmly between her shoulder blades to help her to maintain her balance.
Now their naked bodies were in much closer proximity, Cordelia could feel the cool steel of his erection digging urgently into the soft flesh of her belly, and she purposely rubbed herself against him, the friction triggering a ten-fold increase in the vampire’s ardour.
His self-control pretty much deserting him, Angel released her breast with a wet pop and buried his face in the warm valley of her cleavage, letting loose with a groan of frustration. The guttural sound buzzed against the seer’s hypersensitive nerve endings, sending shooting sparks of desire down towards her moist centre.
“I need to be in you,” he demanded in a gruff tone.
“Yes,” Cordelia agreed, her breath coming in sharp pants. She was more than ready to have him inside her, regardless of the brief amount of foreplay.
The instant her breathless consent left her lips, Angel gripped her around the waist and effortlessly lifted her up against the shower wall. Caught off guard by his sudden actions, Cordelia wound her long legs around his hips for balance and clutched frantically at his shoulders, her fingers digging into the ropy tendons there.
“Angel…” she gasped nervously, conscious of the jets of water raining down over them, making the shower surface slippery underfoot.
“It’s okay, I’ve got you,” the vampire grunted in reassurance.
Wrapping one arm firmly around lower back, he placed his other hand flat against the tiled wall for leverage, and then slowly lowered her down over his thick length, groaning as her hot channel enclosed him in its familiar tight-fitting embrace.
He couldn’t quite believe how well their bodies fit together sometimes – his full length filled her to the edge of discomfort, but not beyond. This meant that he didn’t have to temper his penetration for fear of hurting her, and he delighted in his freedom to savour their bodies’ exquisite fit with a gratifying lack of inhibition.
As Angel began to thrust into her, his hips pumping in a steady rhythm, Cordelia looped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, trying to stifle her fervent cries. The delicious friction from his deep, hard strokes, made her toes curl and her eyes roll into the back of her head, and she had to fight the desperate urge to scream out her spiralling pleasure at the top of her lungs.
Angel’s mouth latched onto her throat and suckled hard at her pulse-point, his lips drawing her sweet blood to the surface and marking the skin. The vampire’s fascination with her neck didn’t scare the seer in the slightest though – he had never bitten her, not once, not even when his demon came out to play during some of their more passionate lovemaking sessions.
In an attempt to better understand the man that she shared her life with, Cordelia had done some reading up on vampire-lore, and was aware that if Angel marked her as his human mate, it would be different to a normal type of vampire bite. She wasn’t quite ready to make the commitment his claiming of her would entail however, so she had yet to broach the delicate subject with him.
The seer knew she would have to be the one to ‘propose’ – Angel would never ask her; not because he didn’t want to, but because he probably thought she’d find the whole idea repulsive. She didn’t though – he was a vampire and she loved him, period. She just hoped he could do it in a way that didn’t leave a too visible scar on her neck.
Cordelia gave only scant thought to the subject of his claiming of her now however. Her present focus was entirely on her boyfriend’s rigid sex, and the way in which it was driving deep into her molten core, stretching her vaginal walls to maximum pleasurable effect. His hard thrusts were growing more erratic in nature, and she realised that he was getting close to the brink.
“Touch yourself, baby,” Angel suddenly growled in her ear.
Responding to the vampire’s hoarse demand, the seer slipped her hand between their bodies and sought out her throbbing nub, stroking it with two fingers and coaxing her spiralling arousal to match her lover’s in intensity. As he continued to plunge into her with reckless abandonment, her circling fingers brushed against his swollen shaft, and she could feel the wetness of her feminine juices easing his passage into, and out of, her welcoming body.
“Oh Shit – I’m gonna cum!” Angel warned harshly, ploughing into her at an increasingly frantic pace, his self-restraint vanishing into thin air. “Oh yeah – here it comes baby!”
The incoherent vampire slammed into her one last time, and then his body stiffened, the chords in his neck straining, as he exploded with strangled moan. “Cordy! Oh yeah! Oh, feels so good!”
Cordelia felt his sex pulsating rhythmically inside of her as he ejaculated hard and repeatedly, bathing her hot core in his cool essence. She was skirting on the periphery of ecstasy herself, but needed something more from her partner before she tumbled over the edge.
Completely spent, Angel forced his hips to move in a few clumsy thrusts, but it was enough, and the seer finally splintered apart in his arms, crying out her pleasure while her inner walls fluttered blissfully around his softening erection.
“Oh Angel! Oh God, I love you!”
When his girlfriend sagged in his hold, Angel gently pulled out, supporting her as she lowered her trembling legs back down to the floor. With their arms wrapped tightly around each other, they rocked together under the luke-warm spray of the shower, slowing recovering from their emotional and physical high.
“I’m gonna need another shower now,” Cordelia grumbled, once she’d caught her breath enough to speak. “You’ve made me all hot and sweaty again.”
“And I should feel bad about this, why? Really not gonna complain about having to wash that gorgeous naked body of yours again, you know.” Angel replied, with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows.
“Raging nympho much!” the vampire laughingly countered his girlfriend’s semi-indignant exclamation.
The sharp resonance of a slap sounded first, and then peels of tinkling feminine and deep masculine laughter rang out, setting up a joyous echo that bounced off the four walls and reverberated endlessly around the small room.
Riley rolled onto his side and propped up his head on his good hand, keeping his injured arm tucked close to his bare chest. Buffy sat on the windowsill, gazing unseeing out into the early morning sunlight, her thoughts obviously elsewhere. The warm yellow glow shone through the slightly grubby window, allowing him to see the silhouette of her nude form through the thin cream robe that she wore.
At the sound of her boyfriend’s voice, the petite slayer turned to regard him with wide, glassy eyes, their azure hue seemingly rimmed with a violet melancholy. Riley wasn’t stupid; even though she had participated enthusiastically in their lovemaking, he had sensed her emotional detachment. He needed to know what was going on with her.
“Are you all right?” he asked quietly.
“I’m fine,” Buffy replied, her strong, sure tone giving no hint of the conflicting emotions that churned inside. “Just too tired to sleep, I guess.”
Riley relaxed a little when her lips curved up into a faint smile – maybe he was imagining things; maybe this wasn’t about him at all. He didn’t know Faith, but he understood that Buffy shared a deep affinity with the girl. They were both slayers, the only two of their kind in the world. If things had not gone according to plan, Buffy would have been forced to kill her friend tonight. No wonder she seemed so psychologically off balance.
“Come back to bed,” he encouraged in a soft mellow tone. “You should try to rest up a bit, even if you can’t go to sleep.”
Buffy sighed and hopped down from her perch, crossing the room on silent feet to stand by the king-size bed. She untied her robe and pushed the satiny material off her shoulders, letting the thin garment slither over the smooth contours of her body to pool about her feet on the floor.
Climbing onto the mattress, she turned her back to him and lay down on her side, her cheek resting in her upturned palm. Riley inched forward and spooned his muscular body around hers, placing a hand flat on her toned belly and drawing her back into his embrace.
He could feel the slayer’s underlying stress in the way that she held herself, her muscles still taut and her body tensed up. Trying to relax her, he dropped a gentle kiss on her bare shoulder and another in the crook of her neck, as he trailed his fingers up and down the pale golden skin of her arm in a calming gesture.
They lay still together like this for a long time, neither saying a word as they watched the fiery golden ball of the sun rise higher and higher into the bright blue sky. Riley savoured the contented feeling that came from holding his beautiful lover within the circle of his arms, whilst his girlfriend desperately tried to convince herself that it was in his arms that she truly wanted to be.
Buffy’s unrequited love for Angel was turning into an out-and-out obsession that was gradually consuming her from the inside out. Denial didn’t work; her heart and soul yearned for the dark, mysterious vampire with an intensity that would not be ignored.
Unbeknownst to the oblivious couple, who were enthusiastically making love in the small room across the way, the young slayer’s inability to let go was starting to pose an insidious threat to their renewed happiness. Buffy’s blind fixation was a silent peril that neither Angel, nor Cordelia, were fully aware of.
The door creaked open and two figures tiptoed into the shadowy dimness of the bedroom. The heavy drapes were thick enough to block out the daylight from the outside, so that the only illumination came from a small night-light that stood on the dresser.
Faith had rolled over onto her side, curling her lanky frame into a foetal position, the self-protective pose indicative of her fragile state of mind. She was still fast asleep though, undisturbed by the sounds of pleasure that had filtered through the bathroom door, despite the vampire and his seer’s efforts to hold them in.
Angel steered Cordelia gently over towards the couch, a guiding hand on the small of her back, while she rested her head wearily against his supportive shoulder. Once she had settled back against the blue sofa cushions, he tucked a spare quilt around her exhausted body, and then brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheek in a warm, loving gesture. The seer made a discontented sighing sound when he bent to kiss her forehead though, and he pulled back, an expression of concern crossing his handsome features.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, keeping his voice low to avoid waking Faith.
“I want you to sleep here with me,” Cordelia demanded, her tiredness making her petulant.
The vampire scanned the couch – the piece of furniture was long, so at least his feet wouldn’t hang off the end, but it was also very narrow. “There’s not enough room for two,” he pointed out.
“There is if you be my Angel mattress.”
Angel smiled – he didn’t want to sleep alone either. Thanks to his insomnia, combined with his deliberate avoidance tactics, they’d spent far too many nights apart in the past few weeks.
“Okay,” he quietly agreed.
Cordelia pulled back the quilt, shifting to allow him to slip under the covers. Once he was comfortable, she settled herself on top of him, her head tucked under his chin and her warm legs tangled up with his. Angel arranged the quilt over them, and then wrapped his arms around her slim waist, resting the tips of his fingers on the curve of her butt.
“I guess I could get used to having a Cordy blanket,” he remarked drowsily, dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
The vampire felt his girlfriend’s warm, wet lips caress the skin of his throat in response, and then her breathing lengthened as she finally succumbed to the potent pull of the Sandman. Sighing contentedly, Angel gathered her closer in his arms, drifting off into the land of nod himself, a few short minutes later.