Part 14, continued…
Cordelia still hadn’t left town, it was six in the evening, well beyond the time she had expected to be speeding down the highway in search of a place where to hide from her problems for a while. Her suitcase was still next to her bed in the Sunnydale Motel waiting for her to make up her mind.
School had ended only for cheer leading practise to begin and Cordelia had never wanted to crawl under a rock as much as she did when the people she had once considered friends revolted against her. Yet she’d stayed and whipped them into line, she might be dirt poor and homeless but she was still the Queen.
They were nothing but shallow sheep and Cordelia would be better off without them but cheer leading was something she adored and no one was going to take that away from her.
High on adrenaline from the exercise and the little influence she still held Cordelia had driven home with Xander’s words still in her head, distracting her to such a degree that she’d found herself pulling up on a familiar street outside and even more familiar apartment.
Fight or flee.
Run and hide or listen to her heart.
Take the easy way out or be brave and knock on Angel’s door. She’d sat in her car once she’d parked it, drumming her nails on the wheel because what she’d was beginning to question what she’d thought to be truth.
She loved Angel and he said he loved her. Why did she keep running away from him? She was scared, that’s why.
C’mon idiot, make a decision! She scolded herself as she stood outside his apartment. The choice was taken out of her hands when Angel suddenly opened the door.
“Hey.” The vampire said trying to keep reign on the happiness and relief that had swelled within him as soon as he’d smelt Cordelia’s light perfume drifting in from outside as he’d exited his bathroom.
He’d stopped attacking his hair with a towel scrambled to the door like a mad man, knocking his knee on the table and scattering paper across his floor but he didn’t care because the woman he was in love with was standing on the opposite side of his door.
“Hey.” Cordelia parroted his greeting, her heart did a little skip and thump at the way Angel was looking at her, hope and love in his eyes that she had so desperately tried to not see the night before.
The fact that he was pretty much naked expect for the towel that was riding low on his hips had a different effect on her all together. “If you’re busy I can come back later….”
“No! I mean, no, now is fine. I was just getting out of the shower.” Angel tried to sound casual and failed dismally. There was no way he was going to ask Cordelia to call again another time because he didn’t want to risk the chance that she wouldn’t ever come back.
“Yeah…I can see that.” Cordelia murmured despite herself as she watched a lone bead of water slip down his neck and over his chest. Memories of the last time she’d seen Angel wet in this apartment assaulted her at full force and caused her face to colour with remembrance.
“Do you want to come in?” Angel opened the door wider and gestured for her to enter, not missing the reaction he elicited in her.
“I haven’t decided yet.” The young woman said truthfully as she mentally shook the desire away.
“Oh. Well, how was school?” Angel leant casually against the door frame and crossed his arms so they wouldn’t reach out and drag her inside like he wanted to.
“It was kinda what I expected.” Cordelia shrugged away his concern.
“Doesn’t make it any less hurtful.” Angel said pointedly and just like that Cordelia’s mind was made up.
There were no great drawn out thought processes involved, she’d done enough of that in the last week. In fact Cordelia felt that if she were to think deeply about her relationship with Angel for one more second her brain would implode.
She was gonna take a chance for once.
“OK, I’m coming in because we need to talk, actually I need to talk and you need to listen.” She declared and walked past the vampire and into his apartment.
“OK.” Angel fought to hide the grin that threatened to spread across his stoic features, just because she was here didn’t mean she wasn’t going to stay Angel reminded herself. Just don’t say anything to screw this up.
“Huh, you’ve been busy….” Cordelia said as she noticed the sketch paper littering the floor, she bent down to get a closer look at what he’d spent the day drawing.
“I had some time to kill before I spent another night outside your room.” Angel confessed, he’d caught a couple hours sleep once he’d returned to his apartment but once he’d woken the day stretched out painfully before him. All he had been able to think about was how much time was left before the sun set and he could make his way to the motel.
“These are me.” Cordelia said as she leafed through the drawings of herself, page after page of her smiling, laughing and generally looking as though she didn’t have a care in the world. “A lot of me.”
“Yeah.” Angel bit his lip nervously and shifted from foot to foot hoping she wouldn’t notice the-
“Some of naked me.” Cordelia noticed. She raised an eyebrow at him in question, he could practically hear her thinking ‘Perv‘.
“I have a good memory when it concerns the woman I love.” Angel said softly hoping that her discovery wasn’t going to cause her run away from him again.
“Do you mean that?” The brunette asked him as she stood up.
“Do I mean what?” Angel stepped towards her, grateful beyond words that she didn’t step back.
“That you love me? Do you mean it?” Cordelia swallowed nervously, hating that she felt so vulnerable.
“I mean it. I love you.” The vampire whispered sincerely and tucked her hair behind her ear. She didn’t flinch and pull back like the last time he did that, didn’t punch him in the chest and question his parentage, she was still here and looking at him with open eyes.
“OK.” Cordelia nodded and let what was left of the wall around her heart begin to crumble.
“I need to say something and I need you to not interrupt me ok?” She told him and gestured for him to take a seat on the bed. Angel nodded mutely and sat down, desperate to drag her down next to him but he didn’t because the look on her face as she paced the floor in front of him told Angel without question that what she needed to say was important and would either break his heart or steal it for good, so instead he fiddled with his towel and made sure he was relatively decent.
“First of all I’m sorry I keep running away from you.” Cordelia started once she’d taken a moment to get her thoughts together. It was all amazingly simple once she’d opened herself to the possibility. “I was angry last night and when I’m angry I have a tendency to be insane. This has all been kinda new for me, you know, with the sex and lies and the falling in love with another girls boyfriend.”
“You-“Angel pounced off the bed at her declaration.
“Shh, lips moving, still talking. Sit.” Cordelia pointed back at the bed and held her ground until the vampire once again seated patiently.
“You hurt me Angel.” She continued her pacing and speech. “Maybe you didn’t mean to, hey, maybe it was all in my head, but I was hurt all the same and I’m not the kind of girl that will just fall at your feet with a few well chosen words. Granted, I didn’t exactly let you say very much but that’s beside the point.” Cordelia dismissed that last thought with the wave of her hand, Angel bit the side of his cheek to stop himself from saying anything.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. Never known anyone like you before. You’re my best friend and I don’t have that many friends cos most people are stupid and I’m not gonna waste my time with that shit so when we became friends…it was a big deal for me. I don’t open up to people too often, see above statement regarding people being stupid. But I opened up to you and…well you ripped my still beating heart out of my chest and nailed it to the wall in front of a girl that now wants to tear me apart with her bare hands. Thanks for that by the way, you sure no how to make a girl feel wanted, dumbass.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes at him not breaking a step. Angel hoped she’d stop walking a groove into his floor soon because it was making him feel sea sick and all he wanted to do was kiss her and hold her and promise her the world.
“Angel in case you haven’t noticed I have a few trust issues, what with my parents leaving me and all. They love me but left me with nothing but a note. Is that what love is? Will I wake up one morning and find a note from you?” She asked him pointedly but didn’t give him the chance to answer.
“If you’re gonna change your mind and beg Buffy for forgiveness you really need to tell me now Angel because I don’t think I can wake in your arms again and ever let you go. I know that sounds needy and pathetic but I’m needy and pathetic right now. I have no money, no friends, well apart from Xander apparently but I don’t want to think about that too much cos that’s beyond depressing. I am the centre of every single piece of gossip and rumour at school, I’m the official Sunnydale High pariah, I miss my stupid parents, I miss my expensive things, I can’t afford to go to college, I have no future ahead of me….” Cordelia ran out of breath and stopped her pacing, she had one more thing she needed to say though and it was the easiest and hardest thing she’d ever done.
Cordelia sat down on the bed next to a nervous looking Angel and took his large hand in hers.
She took a deep breath and finally said…
“….and I love you so much it hurts when I’m not near you.”
Her words came out barely more than a whisper but Angel heard them, they would be etched into his heart and soul forever and nothing could erase them.
“You can say something now.” Cordelia said as a long moment stretched into infinity, she’d just put her heart on her sleeve, faced her fear and with a crooked smile on his lips Angel said….
“When did you and Xander become friends?”
“Angel!” Cordelia huffed and punched him on the arm, the vampire didn’t even wince at the blow instead he grasped her upper arms and pulled her against his chest, his lips claiming hers before Cordelia even knew what was happening.
Not that she was going to stop him.
Angel was kissing her with every ounce of his love and desire and it was making her head spin, it had only been a few days since she had felt the passionate press of the vampires lips on hers but it had felt like an eternity. Cordelia moaned and gripped his shoulders as everything in the world slipped into place and finally made sense.
They were in love.
“I love you too.” Angel murmured against her lips when they finally parted, his voice was thick with emotion and the ever present stirring of desire he felt whenever he was in the same room with this woman. “I’m sorry I hurt you, I never meant to Cordy, I really didn’t. I’m in love with you and I should have told you that days ago.”
“It would have saved us both a lot of hassle.” Cordelia smiled softly at him and snaked her hands around his neck, nipping the angular flesh of his bottom lip with her teeth.
“Yeah…I’m really not very good with women.” Angel said by way of explanation.
“I noticed.” Cordelia laughed and Angel had never heard a sweeter sound, he wanted to capture it in a jar and listen to it forever…then he realised that he didn’t have to because Cordelia loved him and he loved her.
“So what changed your mind?”
“Something Xander said.”
“I spend the night sitting in the rain repeatedly telling you I love you and you refuse to believe me but some how the Harris boy holds the key to getting you to listen?”
“Boggles the mind doesn’t it?” Cordelia gave him a perfect hundred watt smile and Angel forgot his own name let alone what they were talking about in the first place. Angel leant forward to catch her lips again and pouted when she pulled back.
“We still have things to talk about.” Cordelia reluctantly untangled his arms from around her and separated them.
“We do?” Angel blinked at the beautiful brunette sitting next to him, he’d had a feeling there was going to be a ‘but’ around here somewhere. There always was.
“We do.” Cordelia nodded and smoothed her hands over her skirt. “Angel I think we should take things slowly. Like I said before, this is all new to me, you’re the first man I made love to-“
“First and only…ever.” Angel growled his ownership without thinking, Cordelia just rolled her eyes at his possessiveness and carried on with what she was saying.
“I haven’t been in a relationship like this before. We’ve had a rocky start, you and Buffy have only just broken up, I think we need to take a while and find our feet before we plunge head first into us.” She said with determination even as her thumb mapped circles on the inside of Angel’s wrist.
“OK.” Angel nodded, more than a little distracted by the long amber legs crossed next to him. He couldn’t resist the temptation to reach out and feel her soft skin under his fingertips…so that’s what Angel did and innocently placed his hand on her knee.
“I mean, it would be easy for us just to fall into bed now but I don’t think it would be very smart. We should be smart about this.” Cordelia said as she traced a path over his forearm.
“Smart is good.” Angel nodded in contradiction to what his body was telling him and seemed to be doing as an innocent touch turned into something much more and his hand started to move up the outside of her thigh.
“Yeah…smart is good.” She agreed as Angel’s lust filled gaze held hers, their lips close enough for the vampire to feel the warm puffs of her life against his.
“We should take things slowly.” The vampire’s tongue sneaked out and tasted Cordelia’s bottom lip as his fingers found the elastic of her underwear.
“Maybe go on a few dates, see a film…get coffee…maybe dinner….” Cordelia’s breath hitched in her throat when Angel’s fingers slipped beneath the cotton and kneaded the firm globe of her right butt cheek.
“Dinner sounds good.” The vampire’s voice came out gravely with want letting Cordelia know exactly what he was thinking of eating, she felt a crimson flush of desire creep up her neck and prickling her skin, the brunette bit her bottom lip to contain the whimper that bubbled up in her throat.
“We need to build the trust and sort out our problems…and all that other Oprah crap….” She murmured as her hand walked a path over Angel’s shoulder and down his chest, her nails scraping lightly over his nipple and making the vampire growl into her neck he had at some point began to kiss.
“We’ve only known each other for a week…we might be in love but there’s still so much we don’t know about one and other….mmmm.” Cordelia’s eyes closed of their own volition as Angel licked the sweet spot behind her ear.
“Angel?” She murmured huskily.
“Yeah?” He dragged himself away from neck and lost himself in her hazel eyes.
“Slow is so overrated.” Cordelia declared and dragged Angel’s mouth hungrily to hers. Her lips were honey in his mouth, soft and sweet and wonderfully familiar. Just as every part of her was, from the inside of her elbows to the curve of her ankles.
Angel had worshipped and revered every centimetre of Cordelia in the few days they had had together and the vampire knew he would never get bored with relearning every inch of her. The very feminine moan that hummed in the back of Cordelia’s throat fired up the demon inside Angel as he pressed her down on his bed and set about showing her just how much he loved and wanted her.
Angel trailed his fingers through Cordelia’s hair as their passion made way to sated ease. Her head laid resting on his still chest, her warm cheek pressing against his cool skin and infusing him with borrowed heat. She was life in his arms, vulnerable and wild and Angel would do everything in his power to keep this girl safe and happy.
In the morning Cordelia would have to go to school, face the gossip and rumours, see the mess he had made with Buffy and rebuild the life her father had so easily lost to the IRS.
She was young and he was eternal, they had so much against them, they couldn’t hide away from life in a motel room or dimly lit apartment, it continued on outside the locked door no matter how much they wished it away.
A week ago they barely knew each other.
A week ago he was in love with Buffy.
Well a lot can happen in a week.
“Cordy?” The vampire broke the soft silence.
“Hmmm?” She murmured, her body quickly falling into a happy sleep.
“I don’t have to be friends with Xander, do I?”
“Maybe.” Cordelia yawned and snuggled into the his chest. “It depends on how much you piss me off in the future.”
And that, as they say, was that.