The top down on the convertible, the night air felt good rushing against his unusually warm skin. Vampires were rarely affected by temperature changes but his room had definitely heated up taking his normally cool flesh in its rise.
Angel had not called Wesley as Cordelia had asked. What good would come of that? Wesley would likely be asleep by now; and any discussion of the vision would lead to other topics. The would be conversation ran through his thoughts.
‘Is Cordelia alright? I assume she was home when the vision hit.’
‘No actually she was with me, but don’t worry Wes, I tucked her into bed before leaving.’
Wesley would definitely insist they build a cage in the basement. Though considering their evening maybe a cage wasn’t such a bad idea…just in case. Angel had lost focus on the point of his objective. It was true he didn’t think David Nabbit was a suitable companion for Cordelia but thoughts of any man touching her were becoming intolerable.
This was not the time to mull over the cans and cannots with Cordelia. Having refused to involve Wesley, Angel would need his mind clear when taking down the vampires. His confidence was high as usual when it came to battle. Fighting skills honed razor sharp from long years of use and his evil reputation equally disciplined gave him an edge against most opponents.
Parking the car a couple of blocks from the warehouse Angel chose to continue on foot. His prey unaware of his approach would be in his favor. Any shifting of the odds would aid his team of one. Turning the corner into the dark alley keen sight scanned the short distance. Head cocked he listened to silence blanketing the path instead of attacks and screams.
The woman eased into the room, sleep and the trickery of magic protecting her silent intrusion. Bending over the bed, she hovered over Cordelia’s sleeping form. Small fingers with modest length nails shining of clear polish stroked through the long, brunette strands spreading them out across the pillow.
“You remind me of Drusilla when she was fresh and new…and reeking of innocence.” Her voice a wicked rasp alluded to the evil horrors to come. “You must be my boy’s current obsession. I approve,” she whispered as fingers trailed a visible cheek. “I’ll be back in the game soon enough but until then…” Blowing across her outstretched palm glittering dust of blue crystals swirled above Cordelia fading into the air. “…join my dear boy in his wickedly sweet dreams.”
Straightening up she rubbed her hands together ridding them of any clinging crystals. She moved through the doorway leaving the sleeping girl undisturbed by her visit. “See you in dreamland.” The quiet murmur floated beside her laughter into the room. Her escape as silent as her entry she turned the lock before closing the front door behind her.
Exiting the old hotel the young woman waited by the curb, her blonde hair glistening under the light of the street lamp. The black limo pulled up only seconds later, the door opening to allow her to slip inside beside before speeding away.
A wary stalk toward the alley’s hub caught the muffled mumbles of three, a fourth moving away. His hand slipped inside his coat’s outer pocket fingers circling the stake; its tip filed to a precision point, the wooden weapon felt comfortable in his grip.
“Yo man what’s up?”
Senses narrowed to the path’s dead end but becoming distracted as scattered thoughts lingered on his return home smothered any instinctive detection of an approach from the side. Angel stiffened then lurched facing his attacker and stifling the yelp stuck in his throat. Its release would only give credence to his being caught unaware.
“Damn it Gunn; what the hell are you doing here?” Angel hissed rubbing his fingers over the imprint left on the wood from the tight clinch of his fist.
“Uh…killin’ vampires? What’s your excuse.” A cheesy smile spread across Gunn’s face. He had rattled the vampire, not an easy task and he intended to strut.
“Cordy had a vision,” Angel huffed unsuccessfully hiding the release of a held breath, “a small nest of vampires attacking some teenagers.”
“The vampire nest is a heap of dust and I guess me and my crew must be the teenagers. That was twenty minutes ago; what took you so long?”
“Gunn the visions don’t come with a time chart. Cordelia sees the attack and I take down the attacker, that’s about as complex as it gets.”
“Well maybe you should tell these vision senders not to bother Barbie if the vamps are in my neighborhood.”
Angel looked at the pensive muscles trying to hide behind the forced smile. Gunn’s protective exterior was coming back full force. The alley had felt familiar and Angel recalled the worst night the young man would ever likely experience. His sister had died near here, twice. Once at the hands of a vampire and again at the hand of her brother. “Gunn we agreed, you’d help me and I’d help you. What’s with the I’m on my own routine? I thought we were past that.”
“We are, just lookin’ out for my own. If the vamps try to chow down I can’t be waitin’ for the white hat to come galloping in to save the day. So…” Gunn wanted to change the subject and move away from this place echoing his torment, “looks like we did your job tonight; what’s the plan til sunup?”
“Home and bed,” guilt, Angel instinctively categorized and pushed back; another skill honed by years of practice. Angel caught Gunn’s quizzical look. It made sense, a vampire anxious to get home with hours of darkness to stave off the sunrise. “It’s been a long week, you know, getting the hotel ready.”
“I hear you man; want me to walk you to your car? You know even a big superhero can be sneaked up on in the dark.”
“Funny Gunn and in case you’re wondering, I’m laughing on the inside.” His expression a droll irritation as Gunn’s wiry smile returned, Angel headed toward the alley’s entrance.
“So you guys aren’t still keeping camp in the warehouse are you?”
“Nah man, the young ones are sleeping at Anne’s center. We catch up with them during the day but the nights are usually spent patrolling and staking.”
“Yea fighting evil is definitely not a day job.” Angel answered reaching his car and sliding behind the wheel.
“You got that right.” Already turning around to join his crew in the alley Gunn lifted an arm waving it in the air.
“You guys want a ride back to the shelter?” Angel asked before Gunn could disappear from view.
Gunn stopped at the alley entrance declining the offer. “Nah man, we’ll do a few more sweeps before headin’ back.”
“Come by the hotel tomorrow, the new computers arrived today and I know Cordelia could use some help. I’ve already been told I was interference not help.”
“You got it, catch you later,” Gunn yelled disappearing behind the turn of the wall as Angel pulled onto the street, thoughts of home and Cordelia keeping him company as he traveled the dark streets.
Angel jiggled his key inside the old lock impatient for its compliance. The silence of his fast-paced trek up the stairs, purposely missing every other rung, evidenced a skilled predator in action.
His coat dropped over the hook as he moved toward the bed to check on his overnight guest. Her dark hair spread across the pillow encased in red silk, a hand resting beside her face created the perfect pose. Grabbing the half finished sketch from his closet, Angel settled in the large chair positioned near the foot of the bed. He slipped off his boots resting his feet on the ottoman before unrolling the sketch on his lap.
The charcoal danced across the parchment capturing the innocent beauty that eluded him just weeks ago. What had produced the impetus, Angel was unsure but the uniqueness of woman and child was now crystal clear.
The faint glow of the small lamp left on while he was away illuminated the finished sketch. The innocence, beauty and perfection captured for eternity belonged to him. Should he leave it out for Cordelia to see? Hiding it now seemed foolish. Ignoring her protest and demand for a reason, Angel had insisted the section of wall opposite his bed remain empty. It was the perfect location, a direct line of his view.
“Angel?” Cordelia rubbed the sleep from her eyes attempting to focus on her friend slumped in his chair.
“Hey,” Angel answered immediately approaching to reach for her outstretched hand. “Sleep good?”
“Oh yea, like a rock. This bed is better than a sleeping pill.”
“Glad to hear it. I look forward to finding out for myself.”
“Hummm, it’s in use at the moment big guy.”
“I see that, but you might have to share.”
Remembering the vision Cordelia jerked up, “the vision.” Angel leaning close, her unexpected action caused their noses to touch and he cupped her cheeks stilling her movement.
“I can’t believe I forgot about the vision.” Her hands slipped under his shirt checking for wounds. “Are you Ok, what about Wesley?”
“I’m fine and…I didn’t call Wes,” Angel thought it best to give an honest answer. “It was late and Gunn was there to help.”
“So Gunn and his crew were out vamp hunting; was anyone hurt? You took care of everyone; right?”
“Of course,” Angel soothed Cordelia’s worries rubbing his cheek against her forehead.
Cordelia’s hands still under Angel’s shirt pressed against his stomach, the warmth seeping into his skin. Releasing her face from the cradled of his palms he wrapped his arms around her pulling her closer and keeping the warm hands in place.
Too tired to consider right and wrong Cordelia snuggled against Angel’s chest, lulled by the safety she had come to equate with Angel being near. Tomorrow she would deal with the right and wrong of her decision.
“I want to go back to sleep,” her drowsy voice announced and much too soon hands pushed against his muscular form as her body rolled back into the soft, plump covers. “You should get some sleep too,” the words barely out before she rolled onto her side as sleep took her again.
Angel eased up from the bed tugging off his socks. Fingers worked in a fast motion pulling buttons from their holes. This wasn’t wrong; Cordelia had invited him to share her warmth. With a quick jerk, the leather belt slid from snug fitting loops. His hand resting over the button of his trousers Angel paused to consider the removal of that last piece of clothing. Sliding under the covers, he scrunched her half-curled form inside his regretting he had not removed his trousers. He wanted to feel her warmth; he needed her warmth.
“So, Darla, anything you care to report; like maybe everything went as planned?” Lilah Morgan asked filling their glasses with the third round of champagne.
“Oh, it was much more than I ever imagined.” Darla cooed never taking her eyes from the passing view as the limo traveled through the heart of Hollywood. “Not as many hookers as I would have expected.”
The cigarette long and slender pulled from her pursed lips to dangle between small fingers. Lindsey MacDonald thinking it looked too large in her small hands wished Darla would toss the foul smelling tobacco twig out the window. “You know, you’re human now and that nasty little habit isn’t very healthy for human lungs.”
“An inconvenience which will soon be remedied Lindsey but I do appreciate your concern.” Darla looked at the man sharing the opposite end of her seat. “Who is the woman and why was I not told about her?” Even human the narrowed intent of her gaze caused a nervousness Lindsey rarely felt.
“Care to elaborate,” Lilah interrupted seeing her partner trapped under the gaze of the recently resurrected ex-vampire. “I know Angel doesn’t get much action with females so if there was one at the hotel we may not know about her yet.”
“Young and innocent…very innocent,” Darla added with a hiss unworried by her companion’s reaction, “long, dark hair, maybe athletic, hard to be sure with all the bedcovers.”
“That would be Cordelia Chase, we told you about her,” Lindsey finally spoke.
“Nooo, you told me about Angelus’ seer.”
“Right,” Lindsey gritted out wondering if maybe Darla had been the wrong choice for taking Angel down. “Cordelia Chase is Angel’s seer, graduated from high school about a year ago so ex-cheerleader, quite stunning actually, a brunette, and long.”
Darla slowly turned her head eyeing her companions doubtful they’d ever understand the inner workings of her boy. “A warrior will protect his seer, but a man only prepares his home for his woman. This girl is important to my boy.”
Lindsey lifted his arm presenting the hard, unyielding thermoplastic doctors expected him to pretend was a hand. “I have proof Cordelia Chase is important to that psycho blood bag.”
“My Angelus always was demonstrative in his activities.” Darla chuckled at the man’s anger uncaring of his loss or need for revenge. She wanted Angelus back, the way he used to be before the gypsies interfered in their evilly happy life.
Despite her intentions Lilah laughed out loud at Darla’s declaration. She didn’t find pleasure in Lindsey’s loss but she didn’t waste time worrying about that loss either.
Lindsey listened as the two women laugh at his miserable situation. “This is just great. It’s not enough that I lose a limb, I have to be saddled with two crazy bitches. The hand I can deal with but Wolfram and Hart don’t pay me enough to put up with you two.”
The woman began to laugh again, Lilah reaching for the almost empty champagne bottle before remembering she had intended to correct Darla’s assumption. “Darla, Angelus goes by Angel now. The way we understand it, he’s Angel when he has a soul and Angelus when he doesn’t.”
“Soul of no soul, there’s one thing the gypsies will never change, he will always be my boy.”
Lindsey tucked his excuse for a hand against his leg gulping down the last of his champagne. “Maybe you could come up with a plan for your boy not to have a soul.”
“I’m working on it lover.” Darla closed off from any further conversation with her companions returning her attention to the blurry view passing across the dark tinted window.
“I ran into Lord Nichols, a horrid little man. He was propositioning a streetwalker and dickering over the price; can you imagine? I told him I’d do him for nothing.”
Angelus looked down at the body lying at Darla’s feet, bite marks on his neck. “You’re a very charitable woman,” he cooed kissing and licking the blood from Darla’s lips.
“I have a surprise for my boy but you’ll have to guess.”
Angelus scanned the busy street finally spotting a family with three young daughters. “The three daughters and all virgins.”
“There’s more my love. The one in the middle has something delicate and unique. She has the sight.”
“Visions, she sees the future. Pure innocence, yet she sees what’s coming, she knows what I’m going to do to her. I really shouldn’t keep her waiting.”
“Down boy, let the plum ripen.”
Angel rolled back and forth across the bed, the covers twisting around his sweaty body. He could taste the blood, human blood linger in his throat and he wanted more. It was sweet…like his seer. He wanted to feel her surrender beneath him as he drained the life from her body. She would be his for all eternity.