Being the youngest of five children, all girls, Lucy had grown up in second hand clothes. As a child, she hadn’t minded, too busy gazing at the stars and talking to the moon to care about the holes in her sneakers. Her hair was dishwater blonde, her eyes an uninspiring green, fingernails short and chewed to the quick. They called her a tomboy, and that was fine, she had better things to do than read magazines that taught you how to kiss boys and curl your hair, anyway.
When puberty hit, the body that had once climbed trees and made mud pies in the back yard, suddenly had curves and dips that made her mother worry and her father frown. Yet, she was still little Lucy Marsh to the people in their small town, with her head in the clouds and feet in second hand sneakers.
And that was OK, too. Just because her socks were odd and her T-shirts were faded, didn’t mean that her dreams were second hand.
When she was eighteen, Lucy packed a bag and watched the sun rise up over the fields one last time. With a note left for her parents on the kitchen table, the small town girl left for the lights of the big city with Bobby Hopton’s hand clasped in her own.
No one had known about her and Bobby. Like the money saved in her jewellery box, they’d been a secret hidden from the world. She’d never had to lie because she was little Lucy Marsh with dishwater blond hair and holes in her shoes, reliable and unassuming, not the kind of girl who’d runaway with the boy next door.
It hadn’t been easy, they’d barely eaten a full meal that first year in LA. It wasn’t a fairy tale, money was short, tempers often shorter, they lived hand to mouth in apartments shared with cockroaches and damp.
With her first paycheque, Lucy bought a pair of shoes from a real shoe store.
When Bobby finally got the raise they’d been praying for, they moved out of their one room apartment and into an actual home in Silverlake. It wasn’t grand, no crystal chandeliers or gilded mirrors, just a bedroom, a bathroom, kitchen and lounge. It was small, but it was theirs, and they loved it.
Their first Christmas in the apartment Bobby had made her a coffee table. It had been the most beautiful thing she’d ever owned. More beautiful than the shoes in her closet or crisp white Gap T-shirts in her dresser, because like the life they had crafted together, it was simple and perfect.
It was the last thing Lucy saw before the intruder that had burst into their home twisted her neck sharply to the right.
The scream that filled her mouth at the sight of her sweet Bobby, laying bleeding and broken on the kitchen floor, was silenced before it could fill the room. Knocked down from behind, coffee table within reach of her desperate fingers, if she could just touch, feel the wood that was so lovingly shaped for her, everything would be all right.
Twist, snap, nothing.
“There, don’t you feel so much better now?” Daniel wiped his hands on his neatly pressed chinos, frowning at the sticky red splatters of blood that speckled his clothes.
“Dennis, open the drapes,” Cordelia murmured. Her bedroom was darker than it should have been at this hour in the morning. When the sun still didn’t shine through her closed eyelids, Cordelia forced her eyes to open and searched her bedside table for her alarm clock.
The alarm clock wasn’t there.
“Dennis?” she said a little louder this time.
Frowning with equal parts concern and annoyance, Cordelia rubbed her hands over her face, trying to chase away the soporific fuzziness from her brain. Something wasn’t right, her room was too dark and she didn’t remember moving her clock. Also, the mattress didn’t feel like it should and the bed sheets didn’t smell like her laundry detergent. In fact, they smelt like-
Cordelia’s eyes widened as understanding dawned.
As her eyes slowly adjusted to the gloom, the cause of which she realized were the heavy sunlight proof drapes, Cordelia let the pieces of the night before fall into place. Like drops of mercury, her memories fused together. The vision, seeing Amy’s brutalised body lying in a puddle of her own blood, vision sex with Angel.
Cordelia let her eyes drift over the sleeping form beside her. Angel lay on his front, his arms buried beneath his pillow and his jaw slack with slumber. Rolling carefully onto her side, Cordelia studied him. In sleep, the vampire’s face was free of the usual dark cloud he hid behind, there was no scowl, no forced blankness, just the smooth planes of a man born over two hundred years ago. Sometimes it was almost impossible for Cordelia to believe that her best friend was so old, that he’d witnessed two centuries of invention.
Before she knew what she was doing, Cordelia fingered the soft spikes of his dark hair. They were still slightly sticky with gel and prickled against her fingertips. Her thumb trailed lightly across the width of his forehead, his brow was smooth and unmarked without the sharp ridges of his game face and cool to the touch.
Not cold, but not particularly warm either.
Cordelia tensed, her fingers frozen in their exploration against his temple as Angel stirred, his face creasing with a frown. When an eternity ticked by and the vampire showed no further signs of waking, she brushed her thumb across his bottom lip.
It may have been a fleeting moment, and maybe she’d just imagined it, but Cordelia was almost sure Angel was going to kiss her last night. She’d felt so safe as he’d surrounded her, love and protection shining in his often unreadable eyes, the press of his thumb against her bottom lip. He was going to kiss her, she was sure of it.
And Cordelia had wanted him to, wanted Angel to kiss her like he did in her visions, like he burned for her, like he existed for her and her alone.
Like she was all Angel could see.
The realization terrified her. She closed her eyes and drew her hand back. Get a grip, Chase. Cordelia scolded herself, don’t start to think like that. It was just a moment, you were scared and Angel was worried.
Nothing more than that.
It can’t be anything more than that.
I don’t want anything more than that.
With her wayward emotions beaten into submission, Cordelia leant up on her elbow and looked at the alarm clock on Angel’s side of the bed. Eleven twenty three am blinked at her in a neon red glow.
Maybe she could get out of bed without waking Angel, sneak downstairs, hopefully Fred would still in her room, or better yet, at Lorne’s. With any luck Wes and Gunn-
“Hey,” Angel’s sleep rough voice brought all her plans about stealing unseen out of the Hotel to an abrupt halt.
Cordelia startled at the sudden sound, quickly tugging the bedcovers over her chest. “How long have you been awake?” she asked, embarrassed that he might have not have been asleep while she’d been touching him.
“Since just now,” he lied.
“Oh,” Cordelia nodded, wondering why she was nodding and saying ‘oh’.
“So….” Angel trailed off. The conversation floundered as both Angel and Cordelia struggled to find the right thing to say. For all his years, the vampire hadn’t experienced that many morning afters with someone he actually cared about. Darla didn’t count, even if they spent a century in each others arms. He didn’t like to think about the morning after with Buffy. For obvious reasons. The last morning after Cordelia had experienced involved her waking up almost nine months pregnant, so she was doing no better.
“Sleep well?” Angel finally said after what had felt like hours but was only seconds.
“A little too well,” Cordelia smiled over her shoulder with uncharacteristic shyness as she pinned the bed sheet tightly beneath her arms, “we slept half the day away.”
“It was a long night,” he shrugged, his gaze drawn to the slender expanse her bare back.
Blood, so much blood. Lifeless eyes and torn flesh, too late, too damn late. Angel’s hands grazing over her breasts, the rasp of his jaw against the inside of her thighs, Cordy, come for me….
“Yeah,” Cordelia agreed, her mouth dry as flashes of the night before ricocheted through her mind. “Um, I should probably get going before the guys turn up.”
“They’re already here.”
Cordelia gave him a questioning look over her shoulder but he was busy staring at the intricate tattoo that painted the small of her back. The brunette cleared her throat and Angel snapped his gaze to hers like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“How do you know?” the corners of her lips twitched with an amused smile.
“Super hearing,” Angel tapped a finger against his temple.
“Oh, right,” Cordelia nodded, feeling a little foolish that she’d forgotten such a thing, “still, I should….” she gestured to the bedroom door, wondering how on earth she was going to get out of the Hotel without being seen.
“I guess,” the vampire agreed, hoping the disappointment he felt wasn’t audible in his voice. Angel had woken to the feel of warm fingertips skating over his face, a soft female scent surrounding him and a heartbeat echoing in his ears. It had taken almost all of his control to keep his eyes shut and not nuzzle his face into the warm flesh.
He’d liked it.
When Cordelia laid back down, the vampire blinked with surprise. Angel hadn’t expected her to stay, in fact he’d expected her to bolt out of the room as soon as she’d woken up. The smile that threatened to curl his lips disappeared though when he saw the frown that was shadowing Cordelia’s face.
“I spent the night,” she told the ceiling, her thoughts brought to life.
“You did,” Angel nodded.
“I’m not meant to spend the night,” Cordelia clarified in case he didn’t understand completely. The vampire didn’t know what to say to that so he said nothing at all.
Cordelia tore her eyes away from the ceiling and looked at Angel, “staying the night wasn’t part of the plan.”
“There was a plan?” Angel frowned, propping his head up on his hand so he could see her face better.
“Well…no, but if there was a plan, me spending the night wouldn’t be part of it,” the brunette smoothed her hands over the bed sheets, chasing away the wrinkles in the material.
“Why?” he asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“Because, because we’re not…this isn’t…it’s too..too….”
“Intimate?” Angel said the word Cordelia was struggling with.
“Exactly,” she agreed with a loud puff of air, but there was a small voice in the back of her mind that told her she was being ridiculous and that she and Angel had passed intimacy town a few miles back. The voice sounded a lot like Fred though, so Cordelia tried her best to ignore it.
Unfortunately, Angel appeared to be able to read her mind.
“But me spending most of the night with my head buried between your thighs isn’t?” he asked innocently.
The blush of embarrassment didn’t creep up Cordelia’s neck slowly like the sun slipping across the dessert landscape, no, instead it announced its presence across her face in an explosion of mortified pink.
“That’s, that’s different,” why didn’t the world ever open up and swallow you when you wanted it to? “It’s different and, and, not the same and I said you shouldn’t have done that again…” why was Angel smirking at her?
“It’s fun to watch the usually verbose Cordelia Chase struggling for words,” he teased her affectionately, laughter dancing in his eyes.
“Bastard,” Cordelia narrowed her eyes dangerously at him. The effect was somewhat undermined by the smile that slipped like honey across her lips.
The awkward tension that had been threatening to rear its ugly head and squeeze the air out of the room fizzled like a spluttering candle. Cordelia knew she should leave now, but her body was refusing to co-operate with her brain.
“A few more minutes, then I’ll get up,” Cordelia promised herself as she nestled deeper into the pillow, looking very much like she wouldn’t be leaving the warmth of the bed anytime soon.
And that was just fine with Angel.
The vampire let his unguarded gaze roam over her. She was beautiful in the morning, Angel realized. Of course, Cordelia was beautiful all the time, whether it was when she lit the room with a smile or was scrapping purple demon goo out of her hair or rolling her eyes at his poor attempt at humour. The kind of beauty that turned heads when she walked down the street. Had turned Angel’s head on more than one occasion.
But with her face free of make up and her hair an unbrushed mess of tangles, Cordelia had never looked more beautiful to Angel and it made his chest tighten with another growing realization that he had no choice but to ignore.
“Earth to staring guy?” Cordelia waved a hand in front of his face.
“Sorry,” Angel apologised.
“Careful, you might strain something,” Cordelia folded an arm behind her head, not noticing how the bedsheet slipped, revealing the supple rise of her breasts. Angel noticed, but managed not to stare like a slack jawed teenager. Mostly.
“Well?” two perfectly shaped eyebrows were raised in his direction and Angel realized Cordelia was waiting for him to tell her what was going through his mind.
The words left his mouth before Angel could stop them.
“I was thinking about how beautiful you are first thing in the morning.”
Cordelia’s eyes widened in surprise and Angel mentally kicked himself.
“Er, I mean-”
“I haven’t felt very beautiful lately,” Cordelia cut him off before he could make a mess of a perfectly good compliment, “what with the whole slowly dying from vision pain thing an’ all,” she shrugged and the sheet slipped a little more.
Angel was too busy frowning at her glib tone to notice though.
“You’re not going to die.”
“Maybe not today, but-”
“No,” Angel refused to let her finish the sentence. He ran his fingers through the wild tangles of Cordelia’s hair, smoothing it out against the deep crimson pillow. “You’re going to live a long, long, long life, Cordy,” his large hand cupped the side of her face, “I won’t let you die.”
Cordelia covered Angel’s hand with her own and pressed a kiss into his palm. “I’m not going anywhere,” she whispered a promise they both desperately wanted to believe.
Angel let out an unneeded breath that licked across Cordelia’s face, it made her lips tingle and she found herself licking them unconsciously. The vampire watched the slide of her tongue over the plump pink flesh like it was a particularly tasty morsel that he wanted to sink his teeth into.
Cordelia could feel her heart beating in her ears. Angel had that look in his eyes again, like he was on the verge of doing something either incredibly stupid or incredibly brave, and usually with Angel they were one and the same. Thoughts of visions, friendship and uncrossable lines scattered away like confetti in the breeze, all that was left in Cordelia’s mind was that yes, she wanted him to kiss her.
She licked her lips again.
Angel suddenly understood why Cordelia spending the night probably wasn’t a good idea. Waking up next to her, feeling her warmth so close while the lingering scent of sex permeated the air, was too tempting. It made the vampire want to keep her.
But she wasn’t his to keep.
Not that that ever stopped me before, Angel thought as he traced the curve of her cheekbone with his thumb. But you never had a best friend before, his soul piped up like Jiminy Cricket.
Sometimes he really missed the clarity that came with not having a soul.
“We should probably get up,” Jiminy made him say as his gaze lingered tortuously on her lips.
“Oh, right,” Cordelia nodded, effortlessly hiding the disappointment that coursed through her body. She didn’t care what anyone else said, she was a damn good actress.
When long seconds passed and Angel was still half towering over her, his hand apparently glued to the side of her face, Cordelia said, “getting up kinda involves you moving,” she gestured to their position.
“Right,” he nodded slowly, he hadn’t realized just how close together they were, “there might be a problem with that, though.”
“Problem?” Cordelia frowned and Angel wanted to lick the small line that creased between her eyebrows.
“Yeah,” he sighed, “you see, I don’t think I want to move,” the vampire said honestly before his better angels could tell him not to.
“You’re such a putz,” Cordelia rolled her eyes, not letting herself listen to the voice in her head that told her that Angel was being serious. Easiness flooded the room as the tension dissipated like an early morning fog. Cordelia felt herself relax when Angel’s eyes crinkled with a smile.
“You dare to call one of the most feared vampires to ever walk the earth, a putz?” he raised an amused eyebrow at her.
“Yep,” Cordelia grinned, “I can think of a few other names too, if ya want.”
“I think I’ll pass for now.”
“Well, anytime you need that enormous ego of yours taken down a peg or two, you know who to call,” she patted him cheerily on the shoulder.
“I don’t not have an enormous ego.”
“Oh, you really do.”
“What are we, in kindergarten now?”
“I know you are, but what am I?”
“And we’re back to you being a putz,” Cordelia rolled her eyes, “c’mon, shift your butt,” she nudged his shoulder until Angel reluctantly flopped onto his back. Sitting up, bed sheet once again pinned demurely beneath her arms, Cordelia voiced the problem that continued to nag at the corner of her brain.
“So, how am I gonna get out of the Hotel without being seen?”
“You could shimmy down the drain pipe,” Angel shrugged, folding his arms behind his head.
“As fun as that sounds, I don’t think so.”
“Well, there’s always-” the rest of his suggestion was cut off rudely by an insistent knocking at the bedroom door.
“Cordy, Angel, there’s something down here you need to see,” Fred’s harried voice filtered through the wood. “Now,” the Texan added before the almost imperceptible squeak of her sneakers announced her retreat down the corridor.
A minute ticked by as Cordelia and Angel realized their secret was, most likely, no longer secret.
Dennis was a happy ghost, or as happy as a ghost could be at least. The moon waxed, the moon waned, life went on around him and that was just fine with him. As things went, Dennis knew he had a good afterlife. Cordelia was the best friend he’d ever had, dead or alive. She didn’t shout at him, didn’t listen to Mariah Carey and in return he looked after her as best he could.
He had been quietly worried about Cordelia recently, the visions were leaving their scars across her soul and he’d wondered if her other friends were aware of it. He’d contemplated hitting one of them across the head with a large book with a note attached to it, just to get their attention.
When the vampire stayed the night, Dennis had been on the verge of leaving the Englishman a silent message on his answer phone, but Cordelia had said she was fine, not to worry, and Dennis believed her.
But today, Dennis was beginning to realize that there really was something to be worried about. He was scared. It took a lot to make a ghost scared, what did they have to fear? Not death, pain or taxes.
There was evil floating on the air.
The sickly scent of blood and violence seeped from the next door apartment and it was making Dennis feel sick, even though he hadn’t eaten, or had a corporeal body, for decades.
Something was trying to get into his home and Dennis didn’t know if he could stop it.
“I came by last night but you were out,” Wesley said carefully as he rearranged the papers that were scattered over his desk.
“I was busy,” Gunn grunted, eyes focused everywhere but at the Englishman behind the desk.
Wesley laced his hands together so he wouldn’t be tempted to drum them on the desktop.
“Just the usual,” the black man shrugged.
The office clock ticked loudly in the silence. Wesley cleared his throat. Tick. Gunn stared steadily at a worn patch of carpet by his feet. Tock.
“Don’t, man. Just…don’t.”
“You don’t even know what I was going to say,” Wesley sighed and took off his glasses.
“Doesn’t take a genius to figure it out,” Gunn forced his gaze to meet the ex watcher’s. The Englishman wished he had a glass of something strong in his hand.
The silence was a scream that echoed inside the office walls, unwise words filled the air like a poisoned gas, choking the life out of a relationship too fragile for the Englishman’s hands. In Gunn’s eyes, Wesley saw what he’d tried so hard to ignore, tried to pretend wasn’t there even when it had been made real with three small words.
Gunn loved him.
“I never meant….” he impotently struggled to find the right words. Words were usually Wesley’s comfort, their cadence soothed him, whether it were the Queen’s English or ancient Babylonian. Since the first day he’d walked into the council Library, words had been his strongest weapon. He wasn’t the best fighter or the best sorcerer, but he knew words.
Yet they failed him now.
“I’m sure they’ll be down any minute,” Fred said smugly as she barrelled into the office like the skinny Texan tornado she was, dropping down into a vacant chair with a quiet thud. “I told ya Cordy stayed the night, her car’s still parked outside too….” she trailed off as her gaze flicked back and forth between the two men.
Gunn stood, leaning casually against the wall, arms folded lazily over his chest, legs cross at the ankle. Wesley sat, cleaning his glasses with a handkerchief while he absently scanned the front page of the newspaper that sat on top of the open files that littered his desk.
Fred winced at the tension that radiated from both.
“I interrupted something, didn’t I?”
“Nothing to interrupt,” Gunn muttered, almost as though he wasn’t aware the words had actually left his mouth. Fred frowned at the bleak resignation that laced his tone but didn’t question him, she didn’t need to, the answers were in the lines of Wesley’s face.
The ex-watcher cleared his throat and slipped his glasses back on. Gunn stretched the muscles in his neck and studied the spot of ceiling above his head with as much intensity as he had the floor. Fred shifted uncomfortably in her chair and prayed that Cordelia and Angel would hurry up and get their butts downstairs.
Fortunately, someone seemed to be feeling sympathetic to the Physicist’s awkward plight as a hushed argument heralded the vampire and seer’s descent down the staircase.
Fred strained to hear their fervent muttering.
“Just let me handle it.”
“Oh, yeah, sure. ‘Cos you’re renowned for your conversations kills!”
“Will you calm down, please?”
“I am calm, I am so calm, if I were anymore calmer I’d be-Hi guys!” Cordelia squeaked as they stepped into the office, coming face to face with three pairs of curious eyes.
The vampire nodded his greeting with one sharp jerk of his head. Angel’s contented mood had left the building as soon as Cordelia scrambled out of bed like a woman possessed, dashing around the room in search of her clothes as though they’d been caught by her parents.
He scowled at Fred but the young brunette didn’t seem to notice or care.
“So, what’s up?” Cordelia asked with false brightness as she attempted to tame her hair into a something that resembled a ponytail.
“I wasn’t aware you’d stayed at the Hotel last night,” Wesley laced his hands together in front of him on the desk, happy that he had something that wasn’t his car crash of a relationship.
“She had a vision,” Angel answered shortly.
“Cordelia has a lot of visions, she doesn’t usually spend the night after them. Especially not in your room, Angel.”
“Well last night she did,” Angel crossed his arms defensively across his chest, his eyes boring unflinchingly into the ex-watcher’s.
“Is that so?” Wesley raised a suspicious eyebrow.
“Yeah. You got a problem with that, Wes?”
Cordelia’s gaze darted between the overprotective Englishman and the overprotective Irishman. Angel’s jaw ticked with annoyance while Wesley looked like he was about to embark on patronising lecture.
Just as he was silently reciting the reasons why he shouldn’t beat the holier than thou look from Wesley’s face, Angel felt a hand settle on the small of his back. “Down boy,” Cordelia ordered him quietly.
“Cordelia-” Wesley began but she didn’t give him the chance to finish.
“Fred said there was something we needed to see?”
“Right,” Wesley relented, much to her relief, “have you seen the newspaper this morning?” he slid the LA Times across the desk
“No, I haven’t had the….” Cordelia trailed off as she saw the heavy black headline.
Third woman found dead.
Beneath it, Amy’s smiling face stared out at her from beyond the grave. Cordelia didn’t read the article, she didn’t need to, she’d already seen it in her mind, with glorious Technicolor and surround sound.
“You don’t seem surprised?” Fred cocked her head to the side as she watched Cordelia pass the paper to Angel.
“That’s ’cause I’m not. The vision I had last night? It was of that,” she jerked a thumb at the newspaper.
“I don’t understand,” Wesley frowned.
“Join the club,” Cordelia muttered as she sat down next to Fred.
“Amy was already dead by the time Cor had the vision,” Angel said succinctly.
“Why would the Power’s send a vision when it was already too late?” Fred wondered, “it doesn’t make sense.”
“What did you see?” pressed Wesley.
“Blood, mostly,” Cordelia shuddered at the memory. “Blood and fear and the woman we were meant to be protecting being torn apart by a monster we know nothing about. Not that it mattered, by the time we got there most of her insides were outside and he was long gone. Go PTB!” Cordelia punched the air with fake zeal.
“Shit,” Gunn shook his head.
“That about sums it up,” the once Sunnydale May Queen nodded, burying her face into her hands.
“Was there anything else?”
“Wes, I really don’t want to think about it right now,” Cordelia pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes. She wished she and Angel had stayed in bed and pretended that it hadn’t happened for a little longer.
“I know, but there might have been a clue you missed last night, something that could help us catch this man,” Wesley urged her gently.
“Don’t you think I’ve already gone over and over it in my mind? That I haven’t dissected every single moment, every smell, every feeling? That maybe there was some teeny tiny little piece of information that slipped by me, something that could have saved her? Of course I have!” her voice rose, anger dripping from every word.
A sharp silence swept through the office like a tumbleweed, interrupted only by the clock ticking its intrusive song. Cordelia pressed her fingers against her temples, even though the vision pain was gone it didn’t mean the memory of it no longer lingered. All the sex in the world couldn’t erase the second hand fear she’d felt.
“The paper said third woman found dead, so this wasn’t his first?” Angel broke the tension as he stepped behind where Cordelia was seated, resting a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
“And probably not his last,” Wesley surmised grimly, “we need to find out about the others. Gunn?”
“I’m on it,” Gunn nodded, personal problems put aside.
“It would help if we knew exactly what this guy is,” Cordelia added, distracted by the way Angel’s thumb occasionally swept along the back of her neck, leaving behind it a trail of goosebumps.
“Fred and I will take care of that,” Wesley looked at the Texan, who nodded her agreement.
“I’ll pay Merle a visit, see if he’s heard anything about this guy,” Angel declared instead of waiting for his orders from the Englishman. It wasn’t that he had a problem with Wesley being the boss, he just wasn’t very good at being told what to do.
“Do try not to threaten Merle too much, Angel. You catch more flies with honey,” Wesley voiced what they were all thinking.
“You have your ways, I have mine,” the vampire shrugged.
Cordelia deftly tuned out the discussion of Angel’s questionable people skills and let herself enjoy the soft kneading of her best friends fingers against the tense muscles in her neck. She wondered if he was aware of what he was doing and decided she didn’t care. Letting her eyes drift shut, Cordelia thought of nothing but the soothing massage that could easily turn her to jelly.
“Fine, I promise. No death threats or random acts of violence,” Angel relented after Wesley had listed the reasons why it was unwise to beat their best snitch to a bloody pulp.
“Cordelia, perhaps you might-” Wesley stopped as he realized she wasn’t paying any attention. “Cordelia?”
“Cordy, you OK?” Fred asked her friend quietly, shaking the ex cheerleader’s arm when she got no reply.
“I’m awake,” Cordelia’s head snapped up like it had been jerked on a rope.
“Maybe you should go home and get some sleep,” Wesley offered, believing she was suffering form a PTB induced hangover.
“I’m fine,” she replied automatically, this time truthfully, “but I think I might go back to my place and take a shower, if that’s cool with everyone?” Cordelia stood and Angel’s hand trailed down the path of her spine until it rested on the small of her back, over where they both knew her tattoo sat.
She couldn’t stop the shiver that raced through her body.
“Of course,” Wesley nodded, darting a question filled look at Angel, which the vampire ignored as he followed Cordelia out of the office. Leaving behind them the queries both would refuse to answer.
Angel caught her hand before she could leave the Hotel.
“Want me to come with?”
“Naw, you should stay here and not burst into flames,” Cordelia said dryly, a hint of a smile playing at her lips.
“Yeah, that’s probably the smart thing to do,” Angel bowed his head bashfully, running his free hand through his still bed mussed hair.
“I’ll be fine, Angel. I’m big girl, remember?” she squeezed his hand reassuringly before she slipped it out of his grasp. “And be nice to Merle!” Cordelia called over her shoulder as she walked out of the hotel and into the day.
“I’m perfectly civil to the little weasel,” he muttered as he ambled back across the lobby, careful to remove the smile from his face before he walked back into the lion’s den.
His patience was beginning to wear thin.
Daniel waited, picking dried blood from his fingernails with a toothpick. He kicked the lifeless body at his feet and contemplated dragging it into the kitchen with the other, but he didn’t want to leave his sentry position.
“This is a lovely home you have here,” he said conversationally to the dead body on the floor, “shame you had to leave it so abruptly.”
A slow smile crawl across his face as his patience was finally rewarded, “but you see, my dear, you have such a perfect view.”
Cordelia Chase stepped out of her car and was headed directly his way.