Almost three months later
Angel’s scarred knuckles brushed back the wisp of hair caught in her eyelashes. They fluttered slightly but didn’t open.
His worried eyes locked on the handmade metallic ring resting on her collarbone. It was a mixture of wires, plain and gnarled like an ancient tree root – obviously created in a rush and by an inexperienced craftsman – aka Wesley. It wouldn’t do for the long run and there would be a long, long run now he hoped.
After they’d been released from the truth spell and after some yelling at and some thanking of their friends, Angel’s first priority was finding a way to save Cordy.
They had battled long and hard that first night together over whether or not he would allow her to keep the visions. The moment the word “allow” had left his mouth both he and his demon realized how gigantic a mistake that was. However, he wouldn’t back down and neither would she.
They finally compromised and agreed to talk to Wesley to see if anything could be done to let her keep them without further harm, but she still refused to even consider giving them up.
No matter how much he had pleaded with her not to die and leave him, she had only soothed his brow and cajoled that she didn’t want to leave him but she also didn’t want to become just his girlfriend and be useless again. He understood that; the feeling of having a place in the world and not just taking up space. So he had shown her again and again with his body and soul just how important *she* was to him, but she never succumbed to the point that she would agree to give them up entirely.
It was Wesley who had finally changed her mind and even though it irked him that she wouldn’t agree for him, he could only be thankful that someone had been able to convince her.
And his argument had been so simple; Angel couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of it. It reached to the very core of the woman Cordy had become. The woman Angel had come to love with every part of him, but the one he couldn’t see because his love had blinded him to everything but his own fear of her loss.
It boiled down to the fact that Cordy was now one of the helpless they tried to save every day and if they weren’t allowed to save her in whatever way they could, then they would have failed their mission. But the best part was that if they failed, then Angel’s redemption and shanshu would be just that much further away.
And that was one thing Cordy would never allow to happen. His redemption and shanshu was her ultimate goal and she would do anything – including sacrificing the visions – if that meant reaching that goal. Of course, she wasn’t a fool. She argued that keeping the visions would allow them to help even more of the helpless and make his redemption that much sooner, so she gave them three months to find a cure before she would allow them to even begin to look into a method to rid her of the curse.
And now Angel prayed they had found it and, as always, it was just in time.
Wesley, Lorne, Gunn, Fred – hell, even Lilah – had helped in that and Angel vowed to show them his thanks every day assuming it worked. Except Lilah. She owed him so she was just lucky to be alive. But the rest of them had come through for Cordy, and he was counting the seconds until she opened her eyes and told him the words he couldn’t wait to hear.
**Shake her. She’s not a china doll; she won’t break. Damn it, I can’t take the waiting!**
Patience never was your best virtue.
**For the hundredth time…demon…virtues…none! If it wasn’t for that stupid vision fight, we’d have known if it worked hours ago. And how big of an idiot to you have to be *not* to be able to work a cell phone?**
I can work a goddamn cell phone. I just left it. I wanted to get the vision taken care of and get back. Excuse me if I was in a hurry to stop her pain.
**You never minded a little pain before you were in love, you candy ass.**
“Just shut the fuck up!”
“Talking to Angelus again I hope, because I don’t think I talk in my vision induced comas,” Cordy said as she tried to sit up, “and I’m not so weak I can’t bop you one.”
“Hey. How you feeling?” Angel felt clumsy, not knowing where and how to touch her to help her move – afraid he would hurt her more.
“I’m…actually…pretty good.” Her smile was slow to form but once it did, it was a tentative one of surprise and relief. “I think the magic necklace of pain suckage worked.”
“Really? You’re sure?” Angel was just as afraid to hope as not.
The necklace was a combination of metals and spells roughly hewn and cast at the last minute. The combined brains of Wesley and Fred had deduced that the priest’s books brought back from Pylea might hold some knowledge of the visions and a clue to saving Cordelia. After all, they knew she could pass them to Groo if she had comshucked with him, so it stood to reason they might know of another means to take the visions or lesson their pain.
Not that the priests would have cared about a cow’s pain, but they might have cared if their champion was weakened by them.
After weeks and weeks of deciphering the language with Lorne’s help and translating the books, they’d finally stumbled on a possible answer. Unfortunately, the resources they required could only be found in the vaults of Wolf, Ram and Hart.
That’s where Gunn, Angel and the reappearance of a trusty rod of rebar came in. Angel assumed correctly that Lilah would remember his promise after the vision hell she’d put Cordy through and his accurate placement of the rebar through the psychic’s skull. All it took was shoving the tip of the bar into Lilah’s temple for her to freely offer not only where in the building’s bowels the necessary ingredients could be found but the building blueprints as well.
She couldn’t keep security from trying to stop them though, and Angel and Gunn had to make three bloody attempts at the fortress to succeed. It wouldn’t have mattered to Angel if it had taken three hundred tries. He was not giving up until that building was ash or he was.
The theory was that the metal would serve as a sort of lightening rod. A blend of common ores would conduct and serve as a circuit ground for the pain, but it took the spell cast with the ingredients from Wolfram and Hart to make it work. Cordy would still feel pain as the vision came through her, but the device would capture the energy, absorbing it before it could find a home in her brain and fry it.
This was the first test of the contraption. They had finished it, performed the spell and placed it around Cordelia’s throat minutes before this last vision had struck.
Angel felt as if he were holding his breath as he waited for Cordy’s final assessment.
Cordy felt her head. It was still there which was the first good sign. Rattling it a few times just to make sure she wasn’t imagining it, she smoothed her hands over her face and ears and checked them for red. Then the smile that broke out was genuine and brilliant.
“Yes! No pain, no after vision demon jackhammers, no swirly, pukey feeling in my stomach, and, thank God, no blood seeping from eyes, nose or ears. I think we have a winner!”
**What are you waiting for? Hug her you asshole.**
Angel flew at her and wrapped his arms so tightly around her she began gasping for air.
**I said hug not crush. If I wanted her dead, I wouldn’t have torn down half of Wolfram and Hart – my evil Mecca, by the way – to get the fuckin’ cure.**
“Oh, sorry. I’m just so happy it worked. I got excited.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling. It’s my head that didn’t explode.”
“It’s a beautiful head. A beautiful, funny, intact head that I plan to begin kissing and never stop in about three seconds.”
Angel zeroed in for her lips but was stopped just short.
“Whoa, big guy. We have things to figure out first. Like this monstrosity,” she said pointing at the clunky device that had just saved her life.
“I know, it’s ugly, but I’ve got a plan.”
“You? You have a plan for jewelry?”
**You just couldn’t be any more gay, could you?**
“Yes. No! I mean, shut up and not you,” he palmed her face to sooth any hurt before she had a chance to slap him. “I know a jeweler, more of an artist, and I’ve already called him about designing some pieces for you. Whatever you want – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, toe rings…”
“Toe rings? Angel, you really have to work on your fetish. I mean I like a good pedicure now and then, but it’s too much work to keep feet looking pretty especially with the hours we keep.”
**Why don’t you offer to give her pedicures, too, Bruce?**
How about I offer to tear down the other half of Wolfram and Hart and find a cure for you?
**Hmmmmmm. Nope. Just not scary coming from a guy with a thing for toe sucking.**
“Angel? Where’d you go?” Cordy asked, pulling his face from staring at the ceiling down to look at her.
“Sorry, I had to deal with the demon. Again. He gets pretty chatty when I’m with you.”
“Well, block him out for a few more minutes. I want to get back to this jewelry guy. So, can I have actual jewels, too? I mean silver and gold’s nice, but a little bling never hurts. And it won’t interfere with the magic, will it?”
It was nice. This was nice, Angel thought. Talking about materialistic, silly things like jewelry instead of life and death matters like his lover’s head being blown off. There had been almost three months of that talk since coming back from the house of truth and now that the constant fear of losing her was over, the simple joy of planning – of having a future to plan – was almost overwhelming.
He had decided if this worked, he wasn’t going to put off for another moment having what he wanted. Saving her from the visions was no guarantee that he’d have her forever. There was always death from demon, death from illness, death from moving vehicles – death surrounded them all the time. But he was tired of thinking in those terms.
It was time for thinking about life and the one he wanted with Cordy.
He looked at her expectant expression and had to smile. She was still such a young girl sometimes and trying to use guilt and at the same time seduce him into buying her expensive gems for her life-saving jewelry was one of the things he adored about her.
He took her hands in his and began smoothing out the worry that had taken over her entire body, even in the thin skin covering her fingers. The fingers that were bare.
“You can have any gems you want. But I was thinking – hoping – you’d save the diamonds for a special ring.”
“What kind of special ring? Like a nose ring or belly button ring? Oh! You weren’t hoping I’d get one of those rings that they put…you know…down there were you? Because I’ve had enough pain to last a couple of lifetimes and that’s just not happening.”
“They put rings…down there?”
Cordy nodded and made her eww face.
**Ouch and interesting. Maybe…on second thought. Fangs might get in the way and man what a mood killer.**
“No. I’m talking about… Cordy you know I love you more than anything and you know how crazy our lives are. I just want to have something…give you…us…something special but normal to always remember.”
“Angel, are you trying to tell me you want to go steady? Because I think we’re a little past that in age and bedroom activities.”
“No, of course I’m not talking about…”
“And if you’re trying to talk me into some other weird vampire ritual in addition to the whole painful but sexy neck biting, claiming thing, then there’d better be some pretty darn big diamonds and rubies involved and an emerald or two wouldn’t hurt…”
“Damn it, Cordy, I’m trying to ask you to marry me if you’d just stop talking for second.”
Cordy didn’t say anything, but her eyes sparkled with triumph.
**I think you’ve been had. Are you sure we can’t turn her, because that woman makes Darla look like a saint?**
“You knew. You little…”
“Watch your mouth, you’re talking to your fiancée now. And of course I knew. Diamonds…ring…kind of a big clue, dork face. You’re just so cute when you squirm.”
“Angelus is right. You were born to be a vampire.”
“Nah, you just bring out the evil in me.”
“And you bring out the good in me, so I guess we’re perfect for each other.” He leaned in slowly, heading for those lips that drove him mad in every way.
“Yin and Yang,” she teased.
“War and Peace…”
“Peanut butter and jelly…”
“Cinnamon and blood…,”
**Kill me and now. For Satan’s sake, just fuck already!**
Sometimes you do know what you’re talking about.
Angel smiled brightly once more before taking her mouth and his demon’s advice.
A week later
“Angel!” Cordy yelled through the bathroom door. “Is this the right stuff to use?”
Angel cracked open the door trying not to let all the steam out. “What? What stuff?”
“This stuff.” She held up the small round, almost flat tin. “It says it’s for silver but I wouldn’t want to use the wrong stuff and hurt your babies.” She flashed her teeth and batted her eye lashes.
“My babies? What are you talking about Cor?”
“Your swords and knives and other weapons of evil destruction. I was just going to get started on polishing them.”
“Why would you want to…oh!”
“Yeah, oh. Our bet. Which apparently, according to Lorne and his whacked out sense of time, said I lost by mere minutes. I mean really, how you could have *not* fallen in love with me the moment we met is beyond all logic, but you have been known to be slow at times.”
Angel snorted at her insult, a definite sign that they’d been together too long. He was beginning to not only understand her but act like her.
“Yes, it was tough fighting your many charms. Thank you for showing me the folly of my ways.”
“No problem. Now get dressed so you can show me how to polish all these things. Is there a special rag? Should I use water or some kind of oil? If I rub too hard, will it lose it’s pointy power? I didn’t realize polishing swords was such a complicated business.”
“Cor, I haven’t even started my shower yet. Can’t you wait?”
“Well, I guess. I might not be in the sword polishing mood by the time you finish, though. I might be in the shopping or eating mood and you will have missed your chance at being shiny and sexy while saving the world.”
“If I show you how to polish a sword, will you let me take my shower in peace?”
“Of course. I’m not unreasonable, Angel, just demanding.”
“Great.” His hand snaked around the door and grabbed her elbow. In an instant, she was yanked inside the bathroom and the door shut behind her.
“Angel, it’s all foggy in here. My hair’s going to frizz.”
“Stop complaining, and start polishing.”
Angel guided her hand to his cock. It took her a second to realize what he was doing and then her fingers wrapped around him.
“Angel, that’s too corny for words,” her voice said but her hand had begun to stroke him and he wasn’t hesitating to respond.
“Then you won’t mind being quiet and just…polish me off.”
“No, I won’t mind, babe. Is this how you want your weapons cleaned every month?”
“Oh, yeah. Just. Like. That. Mmmmm.”
“Okay. Never let it be said Cordelia Chase welches on a bet.”
“Cor. Stroke and kiss. Stroke and kiss.”
For once in her life, Cordelia did what she was told.
**That’s my bitch.**
(praise the Lord and pass the Vodka)
Again, thank you all for reading and sticking with me. You all deserve something special but this is all I’ve got.