Title: Shimmer, Shimmer Vampgopop.
Category: Angst, Humor, Minor Smut
Summary: On a scorching hot day in the dilapidated Hyperion hotel Cordelia confronts Angel about sleeping with Darla and everything falls apart – both the roof over their heads and their lives. When they are trapped together and Cordelia is injured, Angel must use drastic measures to save her life, and in the process he discovers some important truths about his feelings for Cordelia. The hard part comes when he tries to make Cordelia admit the truth to herself.
Disclaimer: Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just Fic, AO, NRP, GTCA ,and wherever Gwen would like since she owns it.
Notes: This is set in S2 after Disharmony but the clothes gift didn’t happen. Cordy is still pissy and Angel, while wanting to make it up to her, can only take so much abuse. A/N 2: This story was based on the following challenge by Psychofilly. Thank you, Becky, for shaking up my muse. Angel’s broody, Cordy’s bitchy and the two are stuck in an unfinished/unfurnished Hyperion room with a faulty door that for some reason, Angel can’t break down. (The reason is up to you, also it’s daytime and no fire escape access.) In no particular order: A secret is revealed; Someone gets a boo-boo; and did I mention no air conditioning? Temperatures rise, two stubborn people butt-heads and sparks fly. A/C, ust or smut. Setting can be either late season two (post beige/pre Pylea) or season three (post Billy/pre Birthday). A/N 3: Much love goes to Becky for her POV bitch slapping and other great suggestions and to Helen for the new scene and hint/wink at pacing. I hope I improved both. This would be even more crap without yous twos.
Thanks/Dedication: To the most generous and lovely person I know, Bertha Blue. She not only paid an ungodly amount of money for my ramblings, but has graciously allowed everyone to share in her winnings. A big round of applause for her kind heart and support of the Angel’s Food Drive. You’re the best!
Coalescence, \Co`a*les”cence\, n. The act or state of growing together, as similar parts; the act of uniting by natural affinity or attraction; the state of being united; union; concretion.
Life Lessons – The Weather and Other Constants
A yellow haze hid the San Bernardino Mountains from travelers along the I-10 leaving Los Angeles. It was a good day to escape the city as a veil of smog and pollen coated cars, skin, throats, and eyes. There was a smog alert, a pollen alert, a heat index alert, and three Sig Alerts. L.A. was nothing if not alerty.
Sitting in front of her window air conditioner, holding a glass of ice water to her temple in deep thought, Cordelia Chase was too caught up in her own thoughts to heed nature’s warning signs. As the grimy blanket enveloped the world outside her apartment, the curtain that had blinded her eyes was finally lifting.
For three days and nights following Harmony’s betrayal at the red-bird theatre Cordelia had been reevaluating her ability to tell truth from lies and the awful reality was she sucked as a human polygraph.
Everyone she had cared about, everyone she ever trusted had lied to her. Harmony, Xander, her parents… But the worst of them all was Angel. She had been positive that Angel was sincere when he said she was his friend and family and yet he had fired and abandoned her. A lie that almost killed her.
No, she could no longer trust her own instincts. That’s why she decided to let someone else judge for her: Samuel L. Jackson.
In “The Negotiator” there was a pivotal scene about eye movement and lying which had stayed with her. The memory of that scene rushed back to her on the street outside the theatre when she and Angel argued about Harmony. After mentioning how crazy he would have been to have slept with Darla, his eyes had shifted up and to the right when he said, “You know I would never do that.”
Seeing his eyes stray from hers at that moment immediately triggered Sam Jackson’s explanation that eyes that moved up and to the right meant the person was searching his right brain for a story to cover his ass. Or was it to the left for the story and to the right to remember the truth? Maybe renting the movie and watching it again would have been a better plan than storming to the hotel and confronting him, but earth logic and doing things the easy way were never Cordelia’s forte.
Besides, the whole theory rested on the flimsy notion that he even possessed a brain, right and/or left, and the jury was still out on that one. Whatever his eyes said today would sway her one way or the other. Maybe. If he was still undead alive after she finished with him.
Part 1 – Unwelcome Guests
The rusted metal hinges swelled in the damp heat and squeaked announcing his visitor. No one was expected and Angel’s first thought was friend or foe. Stealing swiftly to the landing’s edge, shadowed and breathless, he waited.
A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead between his gold eyes and slithered down his nose. It clung to the tip daring him to remove it. But the experienced predator would not give the interloper any warning by swiping, shaking or pushing out his lower lip to blow it off. There it dangled waiting patiently for its eventual fall and splash.
Thwacking footfalls edged closer. Definitely human. No demon would wear flip-flops. The stride was succinct and determined. Female. Pissed female.What woman is mad at me now?
He jerked and the sweat on his nose fell and joined the pool of it suddenly flooding the pores on his chest and armpits. He didn’t know at that moment whether the clammy feeling started because he was anticipating a fight with a demon or because of the woman who approached. These days both were dangerous.
The French doors slammed behind her. Unflinching and focused, Cordy started up the stairs, head down, mumbling to herself about vampires and blonde bitches.
“Ack!” She grabbed the railing and her chest. “Angel, geez. Please. A little cough once in awhile would really be appreciated.”
He almost laughed but considering their current “we’re not friends” relationship, he didn’t think she would appreciate it. The splayed hand clutching her chest brought his eyes to the sweat stain on the white shirt between her breasts. He didn’t think she would appreciate him staring at that either, so he decided to be as unemotional as possible as he spoke. “What are you doing here on a Sunday? Did you have a vision?”
She answered with enough emotion for both of them. “Am I bothering you? Sorry if my visions interrupt your busy brooding schedule. I’ll try to suffer on your behalf when it’s more convenient for you in the future.”
Normally the verbal slap would have had the weight of guilt heavy on his shoulders, but this time he didn’t deserve it and said so. “Don’t do that. You know I’m sorry for everything that happened. I’ve apologized over and over again. I know the visions are important and so are you, so just tell me. Did you have a vision?”
Cordy continued up the stairs, stiff-backed and confident. His shadowed bulk became more distinct the closer she edged. “You could say I had a vision. Oh, no. That’s not the right word. How about epiphany? You like that word. You’re all about epiphanies.”
Angel’s eyes narrowed and jaw muscles tightened when she mocked the most important moment of his souled life thus far. “Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I was kind of busy.”
“Sorry to disturb your nap. Or were you in mid-brood? Hard to tell the difference really. Don’t worry this won’t take long. Just answer one question and I’m out of your hair.”
Angel started inching back as Cordy took one and then another step closer. Her presence was suddenly stifling him more than the heavy humidity of the afternoon which made even the wallpaper sweat.
“I was just about to get some lunch so what is it?” He turned before that finger she was itching to poke in his chest could get cocked and headed back to his room.
He stopped in his tracks when she asked, “Did you have sex with Darla?”
As he turned, his vision picked up the resolute set of her jaw and one hand firmly gripping her hip while the other’s clasp practically shattered a plastic bottle of water. He could see actual steam rising from the boiling perspiration on her skin and the anger that seethed beneath it. It was obvious this question and Cordy were not going away.
He opened his mouth but nothing came out. The lie he was about to repeat got lodged in his throat as he stared into the stubborn glare of her allergen irritated eyes. He wondered for a moment if he could fire her again to get rid of her, but spun around and walked away instead.
Part 2 – House Warming
How did this happen? I was in my room, contemplating my sins because it’s Sunday, and I feel more human doing it on Sunday. I try to do some on Wednesday in case the fundamentalist Baptists have the inner track and Saturday on the off chance this whole Christian thing is a fad. There’s really not enough time to appease all the Gods, but I do try to mope facing East whenever possible.
“Damn it, Angel, you’re ignoring me. Again!”
One of those sins I was seriously brooding over was firing my best friend and lying to her. I am now over it.
“If you’d stop following me, you wouldn’t notice I’m ignoring you.” He quickly opened and closed door after door lining the abandoned, cluttered hallway whipping dust up in his wake. He’d been doing this seemingly senseless task of door opening and closing all over the second and third floors and was now midway through the fourth.
“Angel! Just answer my question and I’ll leave you alone,” she said as she swiped the dusty sweat from her forehead. “Would you slow down for a minute? Please.” The polite word was squeezed out between clamped jaws.
Dropping his hand from the knob, he sighed, turned and lost all focus. She was heaving. Bent over with her hands planted on her knees, he had a clear view down her tank top and the glistening bosoms beneath.
Angel didn’t question why she was out of breath. He was just enjoying it. She was more tired than not these days which he attributed to the stress of getting the business back on track and their strained relationship.
But a year of body-racking visions had begun to stretch her physical limits. Combined with the current heat, humidity and chasing a vampire around three floors of a hotel, her limits were officially passed.
“Angel? Just tell me the truth.” Cordy’s eyes were on the carpet and not the peeping Tom in front of her.
The spell broken, it took him a second to remember the question. “I’ve already answered that.”
“You lied,” she gasped between gulps of air. “Your eyes shifted, Angel. Up and to the right. You lied.”
For a moment he thought she knew. That she had somehow read his mind. Then she’d kept talking and he was just confused. “What are you talking about?” He turned and started down the hall opening and closing the next door in line and then moving on.
Cordy lumbered after him. “Your eyes, Angel. When you said you’d never sleep with Darla. They shifted up and to the right. You were searching your right brain for a story.”
“Don’t laugh at me, mister! It’s a known fact,” she said.
He halted and turned, dumbfounded by what she’d just said. He watched as she took in his disbelief, crossed her arms in front of her and raised her eyebrows.
Angel knew that look. It was her I-don’t-know-what-I’m-talking-about look also known as the Queen C Bluff.
“Don’t tell me,” he said. “You read that in Cosmo probably taking one of those men are so stupid quizzes.”
“No, smart ass. It was in a movie.” She put her hand to her mouth but the dreaded “movie” word was already out.
He snickered. “A movie? You trust something said in a movie over me. Thanks, Cordy. That makes me feel really special.”
Turning from her again, he moved quickly down the hall more anxious than ever to get away. Telling her the first lie was difficult. But she was forcing him to add another and another on top of it. He was about to be smashed under the weight of them all. He needed her to leave. Now.
Cordy followed as best she could, the heat and constant motion depleting her energy. “They do research for movies you know. Besides, it was Samuel L. Jackson!”
“Oh, then it must be true.” He slammed another door and risked a look behind him. She was four doors down and propped against the wall with an outstretched arm. He waited too long and was caught staring when she suddenly looked up.
“Angel? For crap’s sake, why are we up here?” she asked.
Another lie passed through his lips. “Security check. Caught a vagrant in here just last week.”
Angel knew she wasn’t buying it when her head tilted and her lips pursed spraying a patented, “pfft” out between them.
Well, it was partly true. There had been a vagrant. But his real mission was to find a room so disgusting that she would refuse to stay in it long enough to wear him down. He did have vampire stamina but occasionally even he needed help outlasting the Queen.
Turning from her death glare, he resumed his search. “You can always just give it up and leave,” he said over his shoulder.
“Not a chance, mister. I risked heat stroke and a lung infection to get the truth out of you, and I’m not giving up until you talk or I die. And right now my death feels pretty damn imminent,” she said quietly to herself. Moving too quickly, Cordy swooned then settled after she gulped a few deep breaths.
Angel laughed. “If I really thought death would stop you, you would’ve been drained before the second floor.”
“Yeah, yeah, stop trying to seduce me with your sweet talk and just tell me the truth!” She yelled at him as he rounded a corner.
Suddenly the familiar beat of slamming doors stopped. The sizzling stillness was interrupted only by the buzz of flies. “Angel? Angel!!” Cordy’s eyes darted all around in panic. Tumbling forward on stiff legs, she finally caught up to him standing in the middle of what appeared to be the Hyperion’s share of the city dump.
“Yuck! I thought all these rooms were equally disgusting, but this is a new level of ewww,” her scrunched nose and forehead accentuated the revulsion in her voice. “I didn’t know you rented out rooms for fraternity parties.”
“If you don’t like my new home, you’re welcome not to stay.” He sat on what could have been discarded rags left over from the last plague and rested his back against the peeled wallpaper across from her. Lolling his head forward and yawning, he closed his eyes to her fidgeting and began the process of shutting off his other senses to wait her out.
Cordy kicked a rusted pork and beans can from her intended sitting spot. That fact that he flinched at the high-pitched pinging gave her some satisfaction. She stomped on an old newspaper and loudly scraped the floor with it hoping to further irritate him while she cleaned a spot to sit. But when all it did was raise more dust that choked her and his only reaction was to twist his neck to crack it, she harrumphed, folded her legs and sat.
His new “home” was just an above-ground sewer minus the cozy ambiance. One obvious reason he had chosen this room over others was the still working Venetian blinds that sheltered the room from the midday rays. The other reason was equally obvious…ode de squalor.
Cordy fought back the rising bile burning her esophagus. The taste was now on the back of her tongue and she hefted the water to her mouth and sipped. The nearly hot liquid chased most of the acid reflux back to her stomach, but not her ire at the cool, calm and totally relaxed man across from her.
The room looked like someone had lived and possibly died there. A mattress leaned against the crumbling plaster wall with deadly springs poking from the stained and ripped cover. Shredded furniture suggested an inhabitant prone to fits of rage and the heaps of cans and wrapping papers said he apparently ate a lot of beans, chiliburgers and fries from Tommy’s.
The gastric consequences of such a diet and temperament made Cordy wonder if that mountain of crusted brownish whatever in the corner had been his emergency toilet. The fleet of flies hovering there seemed to confirm that theory.
Looking at Angel with his head lowered and his arms crossed seemingly oblivious to the muck and her discomfort, vengeance suddenly seemed more important than truth.
“Don’t even try to out clever me, buster. I can stand the filth as long as you can. Pfft. Longer. Look how long I’ve put up with working for a corpse.” She crinkled her nose at a morbid smell. “Speaking of…is that you?”
Angel’s whole body tightened and twitched at the insult and his chest vibrated with the growl trapped there. He glowered at her, unable to hide his reaction.
“I believe that’s a dead rat,” he replied with a sniff. His mouth loosened into a smirk as he said, “From the direction, I’d say it’s somewhere near your butt.”
“Oh, crap!” Darting up unsteadily, she tripped on her flip and flopped against the door shutting it hard. The rest happened so quickly there was nothing anyone could do. Rotted, swollen wood ripped and explosive booms sounded beyond the door. The entire room quaked from the cacophony in the hall that seemed to last forever.
Angel’s head snapped up at a sound but was too late to move. He could only stare, dead air escaping his lips, as he watched the ceiling beam fall toward Cordy.
“Cordelia!” he screamed. He lunged toward her but was knocked down as chunks of plaster and beams pummeled him from above. The sound of his name howled in terror was the last noise that echoed in the room as he was buried.