Cloying tension wrapped like a steel cable around Angel’s shoulders as soon as he and Wesley had left the Hyperion. With every step they took the niggling thought that he should be back at the Hotel, with Cordelia, ate away at his mood and patience. The ride to Silverlake, which he’d spent hunkered down in the back seat hiding from the bright Californian sun while Wesley drove over every pot hole on the West Coast, hadn’t helped.
Straightening his spine, Angel rotated his neck until the sound of bones meeting and clicking made Wesley wince.
It made him feel a little better.
“How romantic,” said Wesley as he retrieved the beaten bouquet of roses that sat pathetically at the foot of Cordelia’s door. His lips curled with distaste at the sight of the dark, flaking blood that marred the silky yellow petals.
“I don’t think romance is high on this guy’s list of priorities,” Angel said, the now familiar scent of Amy’s blood mixing with the soft perfume of the roses. Memories of a hundred years spent spilling the blood of the innocent assaulted his senses, sweet, tempting ruination that made his eyes flicker to a dangerous yellow.
Pulling a long breath into his lungs, Angel realized that the scent was too strong to just be from one bouquet of flowers.
“What is it?” Wesley frowned.
Wesley raised his eyebrows in an unasked question.
“Vampire, remember?” Angel grunted defensively.
“Cordy, fear,” his mouth, filled with teeth that had torn apart flesh and lives, twisted with disgust, “the bastard got off on it.”
“This just gets better and better,” said Wesley as he attempted to unlock the door with Cordelia’s keys. The lock held stubbornly fast, just as Cordelia had said. “Dennis?”
Thirty long second of silence ticked by.
And then another thirty seconds.
“Let me,” Angel brushed the Englishman aside.
Wesley gestured to the door. “Be my guest.”
“Dennis! Open. The. Damn. Door!” Angel hammered his fist against the door, making it rattle on its hinges.
“Fine,” he said as he took a step back.
His boot connected with the wood violently, splintering the lock from its home with a crack that echoed through the entryway.
“Well, I could have done that,” Wesley huffed indignantly as he followed Angel into the apartment.
“Sure, but we needed to get inside sometime today,” Angel muttered beneath his breath as he walked from room to room. “I don’t think Dennis is here anymore,” the vampire declared as he came out of the bathroom.
“He must be, where else is he going to go?”
“Dennis, Cordelia was hurt!” Angel called out.
Not a flash of overhead lights, a rattle of saucepans or even a whisper of air interrupted the stillness of the apartment.
“See, not here.”
“I don’t like this.”
“Lets just pack a bag and go, I don’t like leaving Cordy on her own.”
“She’s not on her own,” Wesley frowned.
“She may as well be,” Angel said as he made his way into the bedroom.
They worked in silence as Wesley pulled out the bag from where Cordelia had said it would be in the closet and placed it on the bed. Without discussion, Angel took control of the dresser while Wesley tackled the intimidating row of clothes that hung in the closet. With a shrug that only the male of the species were capable of, Wesley chose the random approach of pulling out whatever caught his eye.
Angel tugged open the top drawer in the wooden dresser and began to pull out handfuls of clothing. It wasn’t until his brain registered the delicate material that slid between his fingers that Angel stopped to see what it was he was unearthing. Soft silks, fragile lace and comfortable cottons were mingled together like an erotic salad, bright and muted colours cohabited happily side by side in the box of delights that was Cordelia’s underwear drawer.
Angel’s eyes widened as he looked at the plum coloured lace brassiere that dangled from his index finger.
“You and Cordelia seem very close at the moment,” said Wesley, his voice muffled from within the deep confines of the closet.
The hand that was holding Cordelia’s bra tightened on the delicate material as Angel tensed at Wesley’s unasked question.
“What of it?” Angel tilted his head so he could see the ex watcher out of the corner of his eye.
“I just hope it’s not too close,” Wesley said as he grabbed a pair of sneakers from the floor.
Angel slammed the dresser drawer shut, causing the collection of elegant perfume bottles to tumble over with a clatter that cut through the heavy silence. Folding his arms across his chest, Angel turned to face the ex watcher.
“Do you have something you want say to me, Wes?”
“You’re a vampire with a curse, Angel. I don’t need to remind you of that,” Wesley said calmly, so calmly that it made Angel’s jaw to clench and tick with anger. He didn’t need this, not when he was worried about Cordelia, not when there was a too tempting scent of blood clinging to the air, not when there was a killer on the loose that they should have already caught.
“And yet, for some reason, you are.”
Hearing the hard edge that laced Angel’s voice, Wesley battled his way out of the closet to face the vampire. He threw the sneakers on the bed and forced himself not to whither under Angel’s glare. “Cordelia is a young woman, with her whole future ahead of her.”
“I know, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure she has that future,” Angel said through gritted teeth, “spit it out Wes, what do you really want to say to me?”
Wesley folded his arms over his chest, mirroring Angel’s defensive stance as he finally said what had worried him ever since he’d joined Angel Investigations.
“Falling in love with you wouldn’t be a smart thing for Cordelia to do.”
The words sliced through his stomach like a broadsword. Angel’s eyes narrowed dangerously, “Cordelia and I are just friends,” he lied.
“You may well be just friends now, Angel, but relationships change.”
“You’re right, they do,” Angel nodded, “tell me, how’s Gunn of late?” he asked silkily, raising his eyebrows and tilting his head to the left.
A burn of embarrassment declared itself on Wesley’s face and neck. “That’s none your business,” he pulled off his glasses with indignation.
“Just as Cordelia and I are none of your business,” Angel signalled the end of the conversation by turning back to the dresser, slamming open and shut the drawers with more force than necessary.
“If you hurt her….” Wesley began but seemed to think better of finishing whatever he was going to say.
“What?” Angel snapped over his shoulder.
Wesley pressed his lips into a thin line and took a moment to find the right words. “If you find happiness with Cordelia, true happiness, and Angelus touches a single hair on her head? There will be no orb of Thesula or resouling spells this time. I’ll kill you.”
The edge of the dresser crunched beneath Angel’s grip.
“Last time, Wes. There’s nothing going on. We’re friends. Nothing more.”
“Good,” Wesley nodded.
“Are we done here?”
“I’ll just grab her toiletries and then we can go.”
Once Wesley had left the room, Angel pried his hands off of the wooden dresser. He winced at the spike of wood that had embedded itself into his palm. Angel hoped, for his own sake, that the piece of furniture wasn’t an antique.
After one last silent, tension filled sweep was made of the apartment, where they could find no outward signs that Daniel had been there, or that Dennis was still currently there either, they finally exited the apartment. When they stepped out into the warm afternoon air, Angel stilled, every muscle and instinct in his body screaming at him.
“Wes, earlier, when I said I could smell blood?” he said as Wesley attempted to wedge the broken door shut.
“I should have said I can smell a lot of blood.”
It surrounded Angel, invisible temptation permeating the air until he could taste its thickness on the back of his tongue. Dodging the occasional shard of razor sharp sunlight, the vampire followed his nose towards the source of the scent that was exciting his demon.
Apartment 211. Cordelia’s neighbours.
“Should we knock?” Wesley asked from behind him.
Angel kicked the door open with a splintering crunch.
“Apparently not,” Wesley muttered under his breath as Angel walked through the doorway uninvited. “Can we please not break anymore doors today, we can’t afford it,” Wesley rubbed his hands over his face, too many nights without sleep were quickly catching up with him and the desire to mainline a bottle of Scotch and pass out for a few years had begun to sound like heaven to him.
“Jesus,” Angel hissed as he was hit completely by the smell and sight of blood and death littering the apartment.
Long sprays of red marred the beige carpet and eggshell walls, once loved furniture was smeared with bloody hand prints, every surface soiled with one mans hate and obsession.
“Bloody hell,” Wesley grunted as he stepped around Angel, glass from broken picture frames crunching beneath his shoes. His stomach lurched painfully, vomit stinging the back of this throat as his eyes burnt the scene before them into his memory forever.
“Maybe I give off some kind of stalk me vibe?” Cordelia wondered out loud as she stared at the office ceiling. It needed a new coat of paint. “Is it the hair? Does it scream please try to kill me, I enjoy the adrenaline rush?”
“Uh huh,” Gunn nodded.
“You could at least pretend to listen,” Cordelia huffed, rolling up the sleeves of the sweater she’d ‘borrowed’ from Angel, it swallowed her smaller form, making her feel like she was drowning in it’s surprisingly soft material.
“M’listenin’,” Gunn murmured, engrossed in the rhythmically beeping world of his Gameboy.
“Shyeah,” she scoffed, jabbing her toe sharply into his thigh to get his attention.
“Fine,” he tossed the Gameboy onto Wesley’s book cluttered desk, “you are one high maintenance woman, ya know that?” Gunn’s lips quirked with amusement.
“Yes, yes I am,” Cordelia nodded with a self satisfied smile as Gunn began to rub her feet. She let out a long, grateful sigh and felt herself begin to relax, her shoulders melting like butter into the back of her chair. Cordelia let her head flop loosely on her neck, enjoying the numbing effects of the Vicodin she’d swallowed. The world began to take on soft glow as the stabbing pain in the back her scalp began to recede and Cordelia thanked whatever God is was that had invented painkillers.
The office clock ticked its ever present chime, familiar and unchanging as they waited for Angel and Wesley to return, hopefully with a clue or two. After the initial spurt of fury and activity that had accompanied Cordelia’s arrival back at the Hotel, the slow grind of research induced boredom had quickly set in.
Fred, ever diligent and not as easily distracted as her friends, was the only one still trudging through the foot thick books that were scattered over the lobby floor. Sitting amongst them like a kid in a candy store while Lorne dozed on the one of the sofas. Cordelia gave the Texan ten more minute before she gave up. Or fell asleep too.
“How’s that feelin’?” Gunn nodded at the dark bruise that mottled the side of Cordelia’s jaw.
“Like a homicidal maniac backhanded me across the face,” Cordelia said lightly, brushing off the concern she saw in Gunn’s eyes with a sweep of her sleeve covered hand. “I’m fine, Gunn. Really. My week just doesn’t feel complete without some sort of psycho chasing after me. I’m used to it, I grew up on a Hellmouth, remember? This is nothing compared to the time I was kidnapped by a mad genius science geek,” she shrugged and pressed the melting ice pack to her face.
Gunn pinched her toe. “Liar.”
“Wesley needs to clean up in here,” Cordelia changed the subject quickly. It wasn’t that she felt she couldn’t talk to Gunn about how she felt, she just didn’t want to. She’d cried her eyes out of Angel’s shoulder. She didn’t need to do it again. Cordelia began to rifle through the books and paper that she could reach on Wesley’s desk, telling herself she wasn’t just being nosy because she was bored, but because she was concerned. “It kinda weird for Wes to-” Cordelia stopped when her eyes fixed onto a familiar notepad and book at the centre of the mess. “Is he still trying to figure out this prophecy that might not even be a prophecy?”
“A lot of help you are,” muttered Cordelia as she scanned the Englishman’s distinctive writing. It made about as much sense anything in her life did.
“I’ve given up trying to figure white boy out,” Gunn murmured mostly to himself.
Cordelia replaced the notepad amongst the debris on the desk. “You two still all pissy with each other?”
“No,” Gunn shook his head, a frown marring his handsome face, “we’re fine. S’all good.”
“Riiiight, and pretending there’s nothing wrong is working so well for both of you,” Cordelia rolled her eyes, “I don’t get you two. OK, fine, it’s no ones business but yours and it’s totally up to you if you don’t want to be marching in the Gay Pride Parade-”
“I’m not gay.”
“-but you’re making each other miserable. I can see it, hell, even Angel can see it and most of the time he doesn’t even know what day it is. No one’s gonna judge you, Charles. I mean, hello? Fred is getting cosy with Lorne-”
“-and as physically terrifying as that relationship is, you don’t see anyone running after them with pitchforks and torches-”
“Fred and Lorne?”
“-so you should just be happy and not care what others think, because, lets be realistic here, happiness is kinda sparse in our line of work and I am totally about to have a vision!” Eyes wide, Cordelia jerked forward as her head snapped sharply backwards.
“Shit, a little help here, guys!” Gunn yelled as he caught the seer before she could tumble to the floor.
“What is it?” Fred asked breathlessly as she ran into the room, finding the answer to her question.
Blind from the images that tore through her body, Cordelia jerked and twisted in Gunn’s strong hold, her hands grasped madly at her hair, at the black man’s sweater, at anything that might somehow anchor her as the PTB sent yet another cerebral time bomb.
…cold metal slicing through too soft flesh, not enough time to scream, not enough time shout out a warning, just the burn of the blade, oily laugh in his fading hearing, a future with so much hope draining away…
…fingertips trail lazily over her collar bone, skin on skin with no secrets in between, a smile that says more than any words ever could, he doesn’t need to say it, she already knows…
…the coffee table, handmade by the man she loves, loved, dead now, his body sprawled on the kitchen floor-oh god, Bobby, too late, who, who, you, *him*, knocked to the ground, vision blurs, foot on her neck, no, please, please, don’t, please…
…yes, please, don’t stop, never stop, swollen lips and trembling hands, whispered words that would make her blush at any other time, but not now, not when the air shimmers with heat and the headboard rattles with the rhythm of their bodies…
…twist, snap, nothing. Another body falling impotently to the floor. Again and again until she belongs to him, when will she learn, when? He always gets what he wants in the end….
Gradually, Cordelia’s shaking began to subside to a continuous tremor that vibrated through Fred and Gunn as they softly spoke to her, trying to draw her out of the horrors she’d witnessed.
“Oh God,” Cordelia choked into her hand.
“What was it? Should we call Angel?”
Cordelia shook her and battled out of their protective circle, stumbling to her feet as the room spun around her. “No, there’s no point.”
“It’s too late,” she snapped at Fred, as though it were the Physicist’s fault that people, people she knew, were already dead.
Lucy and Bobby. So young, filled with so much love and hope for the future. Necks broken, stomachs sliced open, blood flowing from their bodies like a river.
The seer swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. “It’s too damn late.”
Cordelia closed her eyes as the shower’s hot spray rained over her, the water pricked like needles at her overly sensitive skin, plucking at nerves that had been simultaneously bruised by the vision that had ripped through her brain.
Again and again the images of Lucy and Bobby’s lifeless bodies flashed before her minds eye, their blood, their terror, their pain and loss. It was too much, too much out of her control, too close, she’d known those people, passed them everyday, nodded and smiled hello but now they were dead and it was her fault.
Tears burned like acid behind her eyes as Cordelia struggled to swallow the sob that wanted to well up from her toes. She pressed her hands against the now warm white tiles of the shower wall and let the water beat down on her face, hoping it would wash away more than just dead skin and sweat.
“Get it together, Cor,” the brunette muttered, craning her neck from side to side, making the tense muscle and bone grind and click sharply. Steadying her breathing, Cordelia forced the pain and horrors that came with every vision to the far corners of her mind. Over the last three years it had become easier to repress the PTB’s messages, to bury them along with many of her memories of Sunnydale.
Cordelia concentrated on the rhythmic thrum of water hitting the shower floor to clear her mind, she let the pitter patter beat quieten the screams that echoed in her ears and the hot spray ease her muscles. The tension bled out of her body slowly as Cordelia forced a deep breath out of her mouth. She let the outside world drift away, leaving just the sound of the water, the beat of her heart and the lingering desire that had mixed confusingly with the flashes of death in her vision.
Cordelia lathered the soap between her hands as though the fate of the world depended on this small act being performed to perfection. Its foam slipped through her fingers while its soft, almost impercievable scent began to fill the room. It was a comforting smell, not sweet and flowery like the soaps she often used at home, this was clean and sharp, with a citrus edge.
It was Angel’s scent before nights spent saving lost souls stripped it away, replaced by blood sweat and leather.
A mercurial shiver raced across Cordelia’s nerves and her stomach crowded with hungry butterflies. The deep throb that had suffused her body along with the second hand pain of the vision, refused to be ignored. While the blood and broken bones could be suffocated in her mind, her body’s response to the way Angel touched her in the vision wasn’t as easy to chase away.
Cordelia didn’t have the strength or will to pretend that the ache between her thighs was caused by anything else than the way Angel had touched in the vision. Even if she did have the mental fortitude at this moment to ignore her body’s demands, her body didn’t.
Eyelids fluttering shut, Cordelia let the floodgates of her mind open with a trembling breath.
….lips, smooth as whiskey and just as intoxicating, trail a path of promises up Cordelia’s spine, fleeting kisses, a scrape of teeth, a thousand small earthquakes that splinter the universe from the inside out. Fight roughened hands own her hips as she fists the crumpled bed sheets in her grasp and presses her face into the thick pillows….
Cordelia’s mouth fell open into a silent ‘O’ as her fingers skittered across the hard peaks of her nipples.
….so good, so good, so good, her mantra as sweat slick flesh and demanding hands become lost in the roar of the storm. Stilted gasps of air caress the back of her neck, her name gasped like a prayer, again and again, possessed by the hard, relentless flesh buried so deeply inside her. Grunts of raw pleasure, torn from his chest, the animal so close, so close, oh god, oh god, meaningless words splinter the air as Angel shatters every wall she worked so hard to construct….
Steam coiled around her limbs, hazy hands of mist that tickled the small of her back and the insides of her thighs, a ghosts touch when what her body ached for was hard flesh and cool skin.
….sharp pain, teeth in her skin, blood on his tongue, no more barriers, no more half said words, just oh sweet God, yes, Angel, don’t stop, mine, yours, mine, again and again, his hips a whip-crack of need crashing into her, nothing better than this, nothing better than the stabbing pleasure that swells and builds towards the indefinable rush of *everything*, of sweet liquid perfection, the burn pulling tighter and tighter and tighter and so close, oh, so close Angel, edges blurring and eyes blind, nothing but him exists, nothing, nothing ….
Cordelia’s breath shuddered as image after image flowed through her brain, a fire storm of need electrified every cell until the throb turned to a burn that screamed to be sated.
Soapy fingers slid slowly over her stomach, abdominal muscles to jumped and twitched beneath the touch. In her minds eye it wasn’t her hand that danced through the wiry curls at the apex of her thighs, but Angel’s, the thick fingers and strong palms that teased and excited Cordelia in her visions, the sword callused flesh that made her hips jerk in his bed. It was her best friend who parted her desire slick folds and traced the swollen nub of her clit, the hot water hitting her breasts was his lips, teeth and tongue, the warm mist was his body enveloping, protecting, wanting her-
Cordelia’s eyes slammed open with shocked realization of what she was doing and who she was thinking about.
People were dead, because of her, and she was getting herself off by thinking of Angel.
She wrenched her hand away from herself, hating the ache that was left behind with her fingers absence and began to scrub her skin with the soft citrus soap that smelt like Angel until it hurt. With eyes wide and unblinking, Cordelia washed, shampooed and rinsed her hair twice, frantically thinking about everything and nothing that involved her best friend.
By the time she stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around her body and one around her hair, Cordelia’s heart was beginning to beat at its usual speed.
That was until she opened the bathroom door and walked straight into the solid wall of Angel’s chest.
His nostrils flared as he cloud of steam that followed Cordelia out of the bathroom assaulted his already overloaded senses. Angel could still feel the ghost of blood on the back of his tongue, whispering at his demon to take what he’d been denied for so long. The sweet perfume of arousal that swirled around them both threatened to push him tumbling over the edge.
He clenched his jaw and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“Jesus, Angel, you scared the crap out of me,” Cordelia snapped, swatting his chest as she willed her heart to remove itself from her throat, “how many times have we discussed you not lurking behind closed doors?”
Angel frowned, not hearing anything she said as his eyes were drawn to the trickle of water that slipped down the side of Cordelia’s neck like an invitation. He wanted to lean down and taste it, see if was as sweet as he imagined it would be. The desire to lap his tongue across the shallow dip of Cordelia’s clavicle made his hands fist tightly in his pockets.
“What wrong?” asked Cordelia as she watched the wince of pain that flashed across the vampire’s face.
“Nothing,” Angel shook his head to clear the red haze, “Cor, I have something I need to tell you, it’s about your neighbours-”
“I already know,” she stopped him, touching her fingertips to his chest for a fleeting moment, “I had one of those time delayed visions the PTB have recently decided to send my way. I gotta say, really not seeing the point of those,” Cordelia said wryly as she attempted to step around the immovable vampire.
Angel’s hand shot out to grasp her arm before she was able to take a step. Cordelia’s heart began to race in her chest once again as he stepped into her personal space. The look in his eyes made her swallow, loudly.
“Are you OK?” his voice was a low tremor that made goose bumps skip across her skin.
“Not really,” she admitted honestly with a shrug.
“I’ll find him,” Angel promised her, running his hand up and down the length of her shower damp arm.
“You damn well better, big guy,” Cordelia attempted to lighten the atmosphere that was quickly choking the air out of the room, “because if you don’t, you’re the first person I’m coming back to haunt,” she poked her finger into his chest, trying to make him smile or even frown, anything other than the unreadable mask he currently wore. Something sharp snagged at her skin beneath Angel’s palm, making her flinch at the slight sting.
“Sorry,” Angel frowned, letting go of her arm.
Cordelia reached for his hand but he alluded her grasp. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” he shrugged off his jacket and threw it over the back of his leather chair.
“Don’t ‘nothing’ me, there’s something in your hand, let me see.”
“Cor, really, it’s nothing, just a splinter-” Cordelia snatched his hand, effectively ignoring him.
“This isn’t just a splinter, this is an infection waiting to happen,” she grimaced at the shard of wood that had buried itself into the soft flesh of his palm.
“Vampires can’t get infections,” he reminded her.
“Which is a good thing, seeing as evil you shlup’d half of Europe back in the day. Because syphilis? It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” Cordelia took advantage of his confused stare and nudged him until the back of his legs hit the side of his bed.
“Sit,” she pointed at the bed.
“Good vampire,” she refrained from patting the top of his head. Barely. “So, where did this come from?” Cordelia nudged his thighs apart with her knees and knelt down between the V of his legs. She held his hand between her own and examined the small wound, tracing the reddened skin around the piece of wood gently with the pad of her index finger.
It was sore but Angel didn’t feel the slight discomfort of Cordelia’s ministrations as he found his eyes inexplicably drawn to the inviting slope of her breasts. Although mostly hidden by the white towel that was wrapped demurely around her torso, the luscious curve of cleavage hinted at what he knew lay behind the flimsy material. He wanted to run his knuckles over the skin there, still glistening with beads of water, flushed with the heat of the shower. She was Venus in a bath towel and Angel’s fingers itched to capture her in charcoal and light.
Cordelia’s voice broke through his silent desire. “You’re staring,” she said quietly, her tone light, without accusation.
“I am,” Angel nodded without apology, a smirk curling the sides of his angular mouth.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and poked her nail into the tender flesh. “Tell me how this happened.”
“I owe you a new dresser.”
Cordelia raised her eyebrows.
“Wes pissed me off, it was either your furniture or his neck,” Angel said with twisted rationality.
“Ever heard of just counting to ten?” asked Cordelia as she grasped the splinter between her nails.
“I’ll try that next time,” Angel hissed as the sharp shard of wood was pulled far too slowly out of his palm, a thick line of blood welled up out of the small gash, making the vampire twitch at the sight. Cordelia unravelled the towel from her head, letting her hair fall in un-brushed waves around her shoulders and pressed the damp material to his palm.
A soft blanket of quiet filtered through the bedroom, only the sound of Cordelia’s breathing interrupted the easy silence as she tended to the barely there injury. Angel touched the damp ends of her hair with his free hand, twirling the silky strands around his fingers while he watched a thousand unspoken thoughts flutter across Cordelia’s expressive face.
She sighed and leant against the inside of his leg. “They were good people.”
Angel tucked her hair behind her ear. “They were,” he nodded in agreement, even though he’d never spoken to Cordelia’s neighbours.
“I really don’t understand how the powers could just stand idly by and let them die like that, like they weren’t important enough to save. They were important. They were going to try for a baby, Angel. They were good, normal people. This shouldn’t have happened to them,” Cordelia let out in a rush, the ache of repressed tears burning at the back of her throat. The flood gates threatened to open again when Angel stroked his thumb gently over the line of her jaw, careful not to irritate the angry bruise.
Cordelia swallowed the lump in her throat and rubbed her hand over her face. Her head felt as though it was being continuously squeezed inside a vice, the lancing pain of the vision had developed into a monotonous ache that made her eyes sensitive to even the muted bedroom lights. She wanted to swallow a painkiller or ten, but knew it was to soon after the last ones she’d taken after the attack.
“Any sign of Dennis?” she changed the subject because thinking about Lucy and Bobby, their blood, their bodies, their future snuffed out like a candle, was too much to deal with along with the pounding in her head.
“Not that we could find.”
“He probably just got spooked, the big scaredy cat,” Cordelia snorted and rolled her eyes.
“Probably,” Angel agreed, though he wasn’t entirely sure that was true. Cordelia peeled the towel away to reveal his already healed palm and, without agonising whether or not she should, pressed a kiss to the unmarked skin.
“All better,” she smiled up at him, making Angel’s face light up with a smile of its own. Their eyes caught for a moment too long and Cordelia’s stomach flipped over as she remembered the way he looked at her in her dreams and visions.
“I see us in my visions,” she blurted out before her brain could filter out the thought.
Angel blinked. “You do?”
“Um, yeah,” Cordelia lowered her eyes in uncharacteristic shyness. Angel hooked his index finger beneath her chin and tilted her face up to meet his gaze.
“What do you see?”
“I should probably get dressed,” Cordelia smoothed her hands over the short hem of the towel that sat high up her thighs, suddenly feeling far too exposed.
“No, wait,” Angel stopped her from leaving the space between his legs, “Cordy, tell me. What do you see?”
Cordelia sighed and sat back down on her haunches, wishing she’d learn to think before she spoke.
“You, me, what we, ya know, do,” she waved her hand casually at the bed. Silent seconds ticked away as Cordelia waited for the awkward response she was sure would come from Angel. Unable to stand not knowing his reaction any longer, Cordelia dragged her gaze to meet his.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention.
“Do you like it, what you see?” Angel asked, not sure why he needed to know, why he needed reassurance that not everything in his best friends life was tainted by his presence.
Cordelia felt a pink flush spreading across her shoulders and inching up her throat. “I….” she trailed off uncertainly.
Angel threaded his fingers through Cordelia’s. “No more secrets, remember?”
Cordelia sucked a deep breath into her lungs and nodded. No more secrets.
“Yeah, I do, I like it, a lot,” she nodded, her heart beating like a nervous butterfly in her chest. “I don’t understand why I see us, what we do, but the way you make me feel….” Cordelia closed her eyes and let the erotic slide show flash across her mind.
Angel tensed as the lingering scent of arousal that had settled around Cordelia like a shroud intensified.
“….s’pretty damn good,” she whispered. The slow honey of her words shot a bolt of heat through Angel’s body, hot, demanding nerves crackling and cock hardening. His hand tightened its hold on hers and Cordelia opened her eyes.
Maybe she should have kept it a secret.
“Cordy….” her name fell from his lips for no other reason than he wanted to feel its cadence in his mouth.
“We should go downstairs,” Cordelia said, but it sounded weak even to her own ears.
“But you had a vision,” Angel’s unspoken words said more than the words he did say.
“I did,” she agreed, freeing her hand from the vampire’s strong grip as she knelt up on her knees between his legs. His muscles twitched as she smoothed her palms over his thighs, chasing away the wrinkles in his pants. “But the guys are downstairs and-”
“They won’t hear,” he whispered.
It was dangerous, the need he knew Cordelia could see in his eyes. He knew she didn’t understand why his shoulders where tight with tension, why his teeth were itching, why there were still small flecks of yellow dotted in the brown of his eyes. She could see it but didn’t understand it and Angel would stake himself before he admitted that the scent and sight of so much blood, the blood of her friends, had made him ache with a hunger he couldn’t sate.
He couldn’t have that. Not anymore. Not for so long.
But he could have her.
Angel brushed Cordelia’s hair away from the slope of her shoulder, his thumb tracing lightly along her collarbone.
Cordelia’s breath caught sharply in her throat.
This is wrong, she panicked silently as she found her self trapped in his dark eyes, this so is wrong, he shouldn’t be looking at me like that, it’s wrong and oh god, I really don’t care right now.
Even if it were just for a little while, he could make Cordelia forget.
The material of Angel slacks bunched slightly as Cordelia ran her hands up the hard lines of his thighs, the quiet rasp of fabric sliding against skin echoed in the vampire’s sensitive ears. When her knuckles brushed against the tent at his groin, Angel couldn’t stifle the groan that rattled like a freight train through his chest.
“Shh, quiet, remember?” Cordelia whispered, nerves and amusement reduced her voice to a husky tremor.
“Kinda difficult when you do that,” Angel groaned again as her warm hand cupped him through his pants.
Biting the full flesh of her bottom lip, Cordelia unbuckled his belt and slid it out of its loops, letting the leather strip half to the floor with a thud.
“Cordy, what are you-”
The metallic grind of his zipper being pulled down killed Angel’s question in his mouth.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Cordelia admitted with a wry smile as her fingers followed the line of silky hair that crept down his abdomen, “I don’t know why we have to do this,” she scratched her nails gently over the sensitive skin, Angel grunted at the sweet torture, “or why I see us…I don’t understand most of what’s going on in my life right now,” Cordelia’s hand dipped inside his pants and wrapped around his cock, freeing it from the confines of his clothing, “but this…us…makes me feel good, makes me forget. Even if it’s just for a while.”
The slide of her hand over his hard flesh made the room spin around Angel, he knew he should stop her, he couldn’t quite remember why, but he knew he should. His eyelids wanted to close, his fingers wanted to bury themselves in her thick hair and his cock wanted to feel the hot wet heat of her lips.
Angel stilled Cordelia’s hand while he still had the will to do so.
“Stand up,” he murmured.
“Shh,” Angel let one side of his mouth quirk into a half smile to reassure her, “just stand up.”
Once Cordelia was finally on her feet, Angel curled his hands around her slim waist and tugged her closer to him. He needed a moment to think, to remember why it was they did this, why they had to do this, for Cordelia, to keep her with him, no, he amended, to keep her alive.
It was so hard to when her scent, as dark as night blooming flowers, taunted his demon. Angel nuzzled his face into her belly, his cheek grazing across the worn fabric of the towel. He breathed her in deeply, his hands walking over the landscape of her hips until they found a home on the small of Cordelia’s back.
Cordelia ran her hand through the tough gelled spikes of Angel’s hair, unsure what was being hidden behind the midnight storm that swirled in his eyes. Unsure of all of this, of the intimacy that she wanted to wrap herself in, of the desire that radiated from her best friend, that throbbed between her legs.
Terrified of the line she suddenly longed to fall over, to melt into the embrace of her best friend, to close her eyes and let everything but the knowledge of what they could be drift away on the breeze.
“I want to make you feel better, feel good, help you to forget,” Angel said as his hands slid to the front of the towel, fingers dancing over the hem with a question, even though it could so easily be slipped from her body.
With more confidence than she felt in a long time, Cordelia unknotted the towel and let it fall to her feet. She didn’t blush or hide her eyes when Angel whispered that she was beautiful, didn’t flinch when his hands cupped her breasts, his thumbs pinching and pulling at the hard peaks of her nipples. She just breathed.
Angel buried his nose into the crease beneath her breast, her scent was deeper there, the musky aroma of woman that no amount of perfume or soap could ever disguise. He felt Cordelia shiver, her short, manicured nails scoring the back of his neck as he laid open mouthed kisses down the ladder of her ribs.
Cordelia gasped with surprise when Angel drove his fingers through the slick, full flesh between her legs. The urge to grind down against the touch, to ride the strong hand that teased her bloomed like a flower in her belly, liquid coils of heat flowing along with her blood, it was a drug, a drug to forget, to feel something else, anything else and she wanted to become addicted.
She didn’t resist as Angel pulled her onto his lap and rolled them onto the bed, the mattress wheezing beneath them like an old man. Cordelia snaked her hands under his sweater, fingertips learning the ropes of muscle and tendon that strained in his back, his cool flesh a balm to her beaten mind and body.
Angel pulled off his sweater with one hand, letting it pool on the bed beside them as he nipped at Cordelia’s collarbone with blunt teeth. The need to take, take something, anything, built and built in the small of his back, pressure borne of a day he just wanted to forget.
Wesley’s cold words, Cordelia’s painful tears, innocent blood that he longed to smear across his chin.
It was too much for the fragile leash he held on his demon.
His eyes burnt gold and his forehead ridged as Angel slid inside the tight wet glove of Cordelia’s body. She hissed at the invasion but didn’t push him away, she toed down his pants with her feet, binding her arms around his back as though she was scared he might stop, that she might be forced to think, to remember.
Angel hid his face into the curve of her neck, unneeded breath painting her moist skin as his hips, a whip crack of need, thrust in a jerky rhythm that felt so damn good that Cordelia could do nothing but go along with the ride. Didn’t want to do anything else, wasn’t sure there was anything else but this, this moment. No pain, guilt or secrets. No lies to the people she loved. No death stalking her with silent footsteps.
Just the overwhelming ache of being filled so sharply that her back arched and her thighs trembled.
“Cordy,” Angel grunted against her ear, his voice a whiskey thick purr that pulled tightly at her gut, “is this what you feel in your visions, is this how I make you feel?”
Eyes screwed shut, bottom lip bitten sharply between her teeth, Cordelia nodded. It was but it wasn’t and Cordelia didn’t know the words to tell him the about the love she felt amidst the pain, death and desire.
“Please, Angel, don’t stop.”
The vampire growled, his hands clutching her hips like an anchor as he crashed against Cordelia, animal instinct winning over friendship as he let loose a brutal riff that would leave her sore once the mist of need had cleared and reality once again returned. Cordelia keened like a bitch in heat, muscles tense as she strained towards the coldhot burn that rippled through her nerves and exploded sweet ambrosia inside her womb, pinpricks of light exploded on the edges of her vision as the world shattered with a rush and a cry. The clenching of her walls around his cock tore away the rest of Angel’s restraint, stripped him bare and broke his control, made his body buck, searching for a home, something, anything, Cordelia, his best friend’s name torn from his chest as he came with a roar that he managed to muffle into her shoulder.
Angel was shaking, or maybe it was Cordelia, he wasn’t sure, but the tremors that ripped through both of them in the growing silence felt like little earthquakes rattling his bones.
“Angel?” Cordelia asked quietly, voice unsure, forcing him back to the real world where they were just best friends who had sex because the powers had deemed it so.
Even though he knew he had to, Angel didn’t want to go, didn’t want to leave this moment. Angel tightened his arms around her back and kissed her shoulder, trying to urge the demon to loosen its grip on his body. Floating on a cloud of painless release, mind finally clear and body sated, Cordelia sighed, scratching her nails lightly over his scalp as she waited for Angel to come back to himself.
“I’ll tell the guys you’re sleeping,” Angel said, his eyes darting everywhere but at Cordelia as he buckled his belt.
Cordelia nodded, fiddling with the hem of the sweater she wore. Angel’s sweater. It could become a habit.
“You need anything?” he asked over his shoulder as he rifled through his closet, he pulled an innocuous black shirt out and shrugged it on.
“No, I’m good, might take another shower though,” she frowned, pulling her hand through her sex messed hair.
“OK,” Angel nodded, stuffing his hands firmly into the pockets, “Oh, I put your bag next door, but you can take any room you want-”
“Next door is fine,” she said quickly, picking invisible lint from the rumpled bedcovers that she was seated on.
Silence swept through the room with heavy footsteps, neither sure exactly what to say to the other.
Angel cleared his throat.
Cordelia tucked her hair behind her ears.
“You OK?” he asked, afraid of what her answer might be.
“I’m fine,” Cordelia replied automatically, forcing a smile to her mouth.
“Right then, I’ll, er, see you later,” Angel rocked on his heels and to Cordelia’s relief, finally left the bedroom.
Cordelia let out a tired, un-feminine grunt as she flopped back on to the bed, arms spread wide as she stared at the ceiling.
She pretty sure what they’d just done wasn’t part of the plan.