Title: Dark Corners 3: Secrets
Summary: Third in the “Dark Corners Series”. There are dark corners in every relationship.
Spoilers: General series stuff up to “Rain of Fire“. Probably nothing specific. This story takes place in some nebulous future. I have no idea where Connor is, so don’t ask.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Ask and you shall receive.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
Cordelia, who’d just eased her aching body onto the bed, looked up. “What?”
“You heard me.” Angel folded his arms. His broad shoulders filled the open doorway behind him. “Never again.”
Eyebrows arched in disbelief, Cordelia stared at him. She tried to read his expression, maybe get a sense of what he feeling. She’d gotten good at it over the years. She could read him by the set of his mouth. The narrowing of his eyes.
Usually. At the moment, his face was impassive. Unreadable. It kind of reminded her of how he was back in the day.
“Okay, Angel,” Cordelia began, “either this is your idea of a joke or you’re overreacting. Either way, pfft.”
Okay, there was an expression. He glowered at her.
“No.” He took a step towards the bed. “You’re not going to listen to what I have to say and then do what you damn well please. Not this time.”
He never actually raised his voice. Yet the power of it seemed to fill the room.
“Angel, I couldn’t just…”
“You should never have tried to handle that vision on your own. If you’d called me, I could’ve been there in fifteen minutes.”
“And you would’ve been too late. Don’t tell me you don’t know that?”
“Maybe,” he said with a small nod. “And I can’t say I care.”
Cordelia sighed. That was exactly why she didn’t call.
She was on her way home from interviewing a new client when the vision struck. From what she’d picked up, the badness would happen in a nearby alley in about five minutes. And she could be there in less than three.
She thought about calling the office. But there was no way anyone at the Hyperion would make it in time. And Angel would tell her to wait until he got there…which they both would’ve known she couldn’t do. So, he would’ve worried. And she would’ve felt guilty about making him worry. Emotional baggage she didn’t need to take into a fight.
So, she decided not to call. Instead, she’d wait to tell him after the fact.
If she’d managed to kill the demon without getting hurt herself, things would’ve gone a lot smoother. Oh, Angel still would’ve been upset. But there wouldn’t have been an injury to add feul to that particular fire.
Wincing, Cordelia place one hand over her shoulder blade. She could feel the bandage through her t-shirt. As it turned out, the son-of-a-whatever had a knife. And she let her guard down just enough…
“Promise me,” Angel said, breaking into her reverie. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he took her right hand in both of his. “Promise me you won’t put yourself in that kind of danger again.”
Staring down at there joined hands, Cordy remembered the look in his eyes when she walked in the door. A look she’d seen in the mirror not so long ago. When another vamp plunged a stake into Angel’s chest.
The thought of what could have happened haunted her for weeks. It had been so damned close. What if that vamp had better aim? What if Angel had moved just a few inches to the right? What if…
“Angel, what if I had a vision?”
He frowned at the apparent change of subject. “Cordy, what does…”
“What if I told you I had a vision,” she interrupted, “And, in the vision, there was this demon so big and fierce, I thought you might not be able to beat it. In fact, it looked like it could do you some real damage. So, because I was afraid you’d get hurt, I just up and decided not to tell you when or where it was going to happen, no matter how many times you asked.” She gave him a searching look, one that demanded honesty. “How would you feel?”
He didn’t answer. Just clenched his jaw and looked away. But from his grim, resigned expression, he understood what she was getting at.
Smiling a little, Cordelia rested her free hand against his cheek. “I can’t ‘see’ someone in trouble and not do anything about it. You get that, right?”
After a moment of stubborn silence, he took a deep breath. “Yeah. I get it.” Hands tightening around the one he still held, he turned to her with pleading eyes. “Just…don’t try to handle a vision alone unless you don’t have any other choice.”
Cordy nodded. “That I can do.” Smile turning into a grin, Cordy leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him. Careful not to give away the fact that the movement hurt her injured shoulder.
As Angel embraced her, she could hear him sniffing at her hair. Her skin. Which, once upon a time, would have freaked her out a little. But, now, it was comforting and familiar.
It was Angel.
One of his hands slipped under her shirt, caressing the length of her spine. “I love you,” he said.
Cordelia shivered, both from the coolness of his touch, and the weight of his words. It wasn’t something he said often. But, when he did, it was with so much meaning. So much feeling.
Content, Cordy closed her eyes. “I love you, too.”
* * *
Lying on his side, one hand placed on the other side of her body, Angel studied her face. She looked so peaceful in her sleep. So serene and still.
And with one flick of a demon’s knife, she could have been gone.
For the hundredth time that night, his dead heart lurched in his chest. He’d been like this for the past hour. Eyes going over every inch of her face, lingering over every feature. Hovering over her protectively as he told himself, again and again, that she was alright. She was here, safe in his arms.
Watching her sleep helped. As each moment passed, the panic that held him in its grip let go a little more.
His eyes fell on the bandage that adorned her shoulder. The pristine, white cotton was stained red by the warm crimson that had soaked through.
Angel breathed deep, the scent of her blood filling his senses. It always did, whenever she was near him. With others, he could ignore. Push his awareness of it down so deep, his hunger barely stirred.
But not with her. The scent of her blood consumed all of him. It was the haze that made everything in the room, everyone but her, fade. The sound of it humming through her veins drowned out every other sound.
The hunger was constant. He’d tried to fight against it. To beat it away. And, when he realized he couldn’t, he accepted it. Because the alternative was staying away from her.
And that was something he couldn’t do.
With her blood so close to the surface, the hunger was stronger tonight.
Slowly, Angel peeled back the adhesive tape holding the bandage down. Leaning forward, he ran his tongue across the wound. Savoring the taste of her essence as it exploded into his mouth.
His body ached to drink her. Lured by the traces of blood that seeped from the healing cut, his demon emerged. He growled softly as his fangs scraped against her skin. As they throbbed to sink into her flesh and pull her inside him. Dissatisfied with the occasional taste.
Suddenly, she stirred.
Unhurriedly, he replaced the bandage, pressing the tape back down.
“Angel,” Cordelia mumbled, voice thick with sleep.
Angel pressed his demonic face against her throat. “Shhh,” he soothed. “Go back to sleep.”
As she settled back into her slumber, Angel shifted back to his side of the bed. Laying his head on her uninjured shoulder, he rested his hand against her stomach, his fingertips sliding under the edge of her panties.
A taste, he thought as he drifted off to sleep. All I need is a taste.