Baby I’m Back. 12

Part 12

“You have five minutes to get dressed and get downstairs or I’m gonna eat your pizza!”

Cordelia stared at the locked door. “How long do you think Spike was standing there?”

Angel finished cleaning his mark before lifting his head. “I don’t know but the others got here about fifteen minutes ago.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m not as dumb as you think I am. You would’ve wanted to stop or at least hurry.”

“Hmmph. It’s just like a vampire to think..” His hand covered her mouth.

“I’ve been waiting too long. Believe me when I say Wes and Gunn will understand.”

“Muph mike ma manp”

“What?”

She removed his hand. “I said just like a man.”

“Is that an insult?”

“It was an observation. C’mon. We need to get dressed.”

“Who’s the one who said ‘patience is overrated’?”

“Whatever. If Spike eats my pizza, you’re going out to get me another one.”

“Don’t worry. According to Gunn, you’re the only one who likes fruit on their pizza.”

“Hmmph. Of course you’re not in a hurry. You just had your dinner.”

“Cor”

“Geez. I’m kidding. You have a permanent soul now. You don’t have to be afraid of laughing and joking anymore. It’s time to get yourself a sense of humor.”

“I have a sense of humor,” Angel pouted.

“Yeah. You’re a laugh a minute.” Cordelia had slipped on a pair of jeans and one of his shirts. She ran her fingers through her hair. “Ready?”

Angel finished lacing up his boots and looked up at her disheveled appearance. His shirt was swallowing her form. Gone was the hollow look in her eyes. Her face was devoid of makeup but her skin seemed to be glowing and not in a semi-demonic way. His renewed claim was peeking out from her collar, as a reminder of their lovemaking and their bond.

“I’m ready.”

***

Wesley couldn’t hold it in any longer. He had already waited until everyone had finished eating. “I’d love to hear all about the trials. It will be interesting to see how it compares to Spike’s experience. My research indicates..”

“Wes, that can wait. He just got back. Give him some time before you start your interrogation. OK?”

“Of course”

“Wes, I will tell you all about it after I get some rest.”

“Now that Angel’s back, things can go back to normal.” They all stared at Fred then burst out laughing. “Okay maybe normal is too strong a word. I meant..you know..normal for us.”

“I vote for abnormal. I’d like some peace and quiet.”

Angel lifted Cordelia into his lap. “That sounds good to me.”

She whispered in his ear, “We have your permanent soul that really should be tested.” Spike was smirking at them when she looked up.

Angel ignored the other vampire’s amused stare. “So have you had many cases?”

“We had one interesting case. There are no pending cases. I’m afraid we’ve been rather…distracted as of late.”

His thumb absently stroked Cordelia’s tattoo. “I want to apologize for everything I put you guys through.”

“All things considered, your behavior was rather..”

“Cordy-whipped. I gotta say meetin’ the evil vamp was nothin’ like I expected. He was almost as whipped as you.”

“I must agree with Gunn. It was rather surprising.”

“Not for me. I always knew you were a poof at heart. You just needed to find the right woman.”

“I thought it was sweet, the little I got to see anyway.”

Cordelia kissed his cheek. “You were pretty sweet.”

Despite the light atmosphere, Angel couldn’t help but add, “I shouldn’t have just left like that. Cordelia told me about the apartment you leased. I imagine you’ve been looking over your shoulders.”

“I was rather shocked by your sudden disappearance. I truly believed you had genuine feelings for Cordelia.”

“Me too. ‘Course that didn’t stop me from watchin’ my back.”

“Mine too. Charles wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He even waited for me outside the ladies room the one time we went out to eat. He wanted to come in with me but I put my foot down.”

“What? I wasn’t gonna let anything happen to my girl.”

“I can understand that.”

“Angel, about our decision to relocate while Cordelia remained at the hotel…”

“I already told him I didn’t give you guys a choice.”

“True. Nevertheless I would have remained but in my opinion Angelus wasn’t the threat, at least not to Cordelia. The real danger was Wolfram and Hart, and I believe we proved ourselves to be more of a liability than an asset in that department.”

“Wesley”

“Cordelia, you know it’s true. You could protect yourself better without us around.”

“Yeah. English is right.”

“Hey! I’m standin’ right here.”

“What of it, Blondie?”

“In case you bloody forgot, I was here to protect her.”

“And what pray tell did you protect her from? Eating?”

“Look Watcher..”

“Guys! Just stop. There will be no fighting. We’re celebrating.”

“Cordy’s right. So behave.” Fred gave the men a stern look. “Speaking of eating though, I’ll go to the butcher first thing in the morning. This way you two can..sleep in.”

“Thanks Fred”

Cordelia turned in Angel’s lap so she could face him. “Is that even necessary?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well..” Her fingers rose to stroke his mark. “Do you think you’re going to need it?”

“Woah. You’re not suggestin’ Angel snack on you, are ya?” When Cordelia turned to glare, Gunn noticed the puncture wounds on her neck. “What the fuck?” A stake quickly appeared in his hand. “What happened to your neck?”

“Gunn put that stake away now!”

“Not until I find out how you got what looks like a vampire bite on your neck.”

“Your overreacting.”

“No. You’re..underreacting. What? He gets his soul back and suddenly starts bitin’ people?”

“Not people. Just me.”

“How do we know that? Are we even sure he got his soul back? Maybe this is evil vamp’s way of gettin’ his teeth in you.”

“Gunn, Angel isn’t lying. This is between us.”

“If he’s feedin’ off of humans, it’s very much our business. In case you haven’t noticed, we make a livin’ off of staking vamps who do exactly that.”

“Charles”

Spike backed away from the rising argument. Somehow he didn’t think Gunn would react any better than Angel did about his own experience tasting Cordelia’s blood. The determined brunette would have to handle this argument without his support. Hopefully neither she or the watcher would drag him into it.

“So now that he’s got a permanent soul, it’s okay to feed off of Cordy? I’ve seen how Angel gets when he’s had just a drop of human blood. I don’t really want a repeat performance.”

“I’m not exactly completely human, in case you forgot. You don’t need to worry. My blood doesn’t effect Angel the way normal blood does.”

“It’s only been less than an hour. Give it a few days and he’ll be ripping the arms off of the nearest demon.”

“Gunn, my blood didn’t make Angelus hostile.”

“What?! You let him feed off of you too? Are you crazy?”

“Gunn, calm down.”

“Did you hear her, English? How can you tell me to calm down?”

“It’s not as bad as it sounds.”

“You knew?” He turned his glare to Cordelia. “Is this the real reason you wanted to keep me outta the hotel? You knew I’d stake him.”

“Over my dead body! I realize you’re upset and I understand your concerns. Especially considering what happened when Wolfram and Hart messed with Angel’s blood supply, but this is different.” Cordelia started rubbing circles on the silent vampire’s back. “My blood is different and it is MY blood, MY decision.”

“Cordy”

“Gunn, I am in love with a vampire. There is no need for you to go into protective mode. I would never do anything that I thought would jeopardize the safety of our family. You have to believe me.”

“It’s not you..” Gunn studied the couple for a moment. “You really have your soul?”

“Yes”

“And Cordy’s blood is different than regular human blood? You won’t go all psycho on us?”

“It is very different and it won’t make me violent. I promise no more biting until I sing for Lorne. When is he supposed to get back?”

“He ran for the hills. We called him after Cordy informed us of your return. He should be back soon.”

Gunn relaxed his grip on his stake. “OK. I’ll let it go but I reserve the right to change my mind.”

Fred reached over and squeezed her boyfriend’s hand. “It will be all right, Charles. I just know it.”

Cordelia could feel how tense Angel was. She knew her vampire was struggling with the moral implications. He’d had his doubts before Gunn’s tirade. She continued to gently rub his back. Their celebration had been seriously derailed.

She blurted, “Angel asked me to marry him.”

Fred squealed and launched herself at the couple. “Kyerumption! You’re gonna get married? I’m so happy. I knew you were meant to be. How did he ask? What did you say? When are you gonna get married? Are you gonna do it here in the hotel?”

“Need to breathe”

“Sorry” Fred released her death grip and returned to her seat by Gunn.

“Congratulations to you both.”

“Yeah. Congratulations”

“So where’s the ring? Don’t tell me Cordelia Chase accepted a proposal without a ring.”

“Very funny, Wes. There’s no ring yet but he did give me this.” Her hand snaked into Angel’s pants pocket. “Check this out.”

“Oh my god! Wow!”

“What? It’s a rock.”

“Charles, that’s an uncut diamond. A really big one too.”

“Yup, hence my desire to start pinching pennies. Angel needs to save his money. We still need to get this cut and buy the setting. Plus we’ll need wedding bands. Oooh I need a dress and we’ll need flowers. You’ll need a dress too, Fred. A maid of honor always wears a special dress. I promise not to pick anything too hideous.”

“Do ya mean it?”

“Of course silly. I don’t want you looking ridiculous. It will ruin the pictures. Oh we’re gonna need to find a photographer who won’t scream when he or she sees Lorne.”

Fred launched herself back at Cordelia. “I’m gonna be your maid of honor. We’re gonna have so much fun plannin’ this wedding. I bet Momma and Daddy will want to come.”

“Ya think?”

“Of course. They adore y’all.”

“I’d really like to have some parents there. God knows mine won’t be.” Fred released her grip. Cordelia turned away from her sympathetic look. “You, mister, are gonna need a tux. The same goes for you two.”

“I think we’re going to need a lot more cases.”

“You’re damn right. A girl only gets married once. Well until her second marriage anyway.”

Angel growled, “The ONLY way you will go through this more than once is if you want to renew OUR vows.”

“Duh”

“That reminds me, Fred. To answer you’re earlier question, when I asked Cordelia to marry me she was too busy focusing on the diamond to actually answer me.”

“That sounds like Barbie”

“Then when I refused to give her the rock until she answered me, she blanked on the question.”

“I did not! I knew the question.”

“Sure you did after I asked you again. Do you know what she said?”

“Angel”

“She said ‘duh’.”

Fred started giggling. “She didn’t?”

“What? My answer was obvious. Of course it was yes. I mean..duh.” She ignored her laughing friends. “Marriage or not, I plan to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“Duh”

Cordy wrapped her arms around Angel’s neck. “Did you just ‘duh’ me?”

“Yes”

“That’s so cute.” She began kissing his neck. “You sounds so adorable when you talk like me.” She kissed her way to his mouth.

“He definitely has his soul. Only Angel has that goofy grin.”

“Yes well perhaps we should call it a night. It is rather late. Today’s battle was fairly exhausting and I’m sure Angel and Cordelia are..tired.”

“Yeah. I’m not really wantin’ to see a demo of the whole mating thing. C’mon Fred.”

“OK. Cordy and I can talk tomorrow..er..today.” The three friends scurried out of the hotel as the couple’s kissing grew more passionate.

“Don’t make me get out the fire extinguisher.”

Cordy broke the kiss. “Sorry. We..where did everyone go?”

“They went back to the apartment. They weren’t enjoyin’ the floor show.”

“So why didn’t you leave?”

“Well Peaches, I wanted to ask your girl why she told the chit not to go to the butcher’s.”

“You know as well as we do..”

“Yeah I get that but in case you forgot, I happen to be a vampire too. Is your plan to let us both drink from you.” He ignored the flash of yellow in his sire’s eyes.

“I’m sorry, Spike. I wasn’t thinking. Are you out?”

“I finished it today. So much for hospitality. Is this your subtle way of tellin’ me my services are no longer required?”

“No. You know I want you here. I’ll go as soon as the shop opens.”

“Don’t worry, Pet. I’ll go. I know my way around the sewers by now. I wouldn’t want you to quit shaggin’ on my account.”

“Good night, Spike.”

“Good night, Luv. Peaches.”

“Wait a minute. Cor, why don’t you go on up? I’ll join you in a minute.”

“OK”

Angel waited until they were alone to speak. “I wanted to apologize to you. You were the only one on the receiving end of my taunts. I said some things that were out of line and untrue. You came here to help and protect Cordy. The stuff you said to me really did make a difference.”

“I’m just sorry I didn’t do a better job of protectin’ her.”

“If you had returned to the hotel with Cordelia, you would’ve been used against her too. They already had the others held hostage. You wouldn’t have been able to do anything but watch. They weren’t expecting me so I could sneak up behind Lilah. The fact that Cordelia’s life was the only one I placed any value on, at the time, also helped.”

“How are you handlin’ the killing?”

“I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In theory I should be torn up about killing humans but I can’t seem to feel bad about killing Lilah or any other Wolfram and Hart employee. If anything I wish I’d killed her sooner. Then Cordelia wouldn’t be having nightmares every night.”

“That’s what…fuck! I’m such an idiot. I didn’t think..I should’ve..”

“I’m back now and I’m going to take care of her.”

Spike nodded. “I spoke to Buffy.”

“So?”

“She’s pretty confused.”

“She’ll figure it out.”

“You do realize you’re partly to blame for the way she thinks.”

“I know. She got through her brush with Angelus by telling herself it wasn’t really me. I got through it by telling myself I’d never let it happen again. It’s hard to forgive someone if you refuse to let yourself admit they did anything wrong. I know I told you about the time I waited for the sunrise.

She truly believed the First was the only reason I was on that hill. She never quite understood I felt guilty because I was guilty. Don’t get me wrong, the First definitely made it feel worse. Having everything in your head is bad enough. Giving it form and a voice is worse.”

“It’s weird. She holds everything I did as a soulless demon against me. She decided to give me another chance because of my soul but she doesn’t pretend like I never hurt her, never tried to kill her. Yet she draws a line between you and your demon.”

“When you tried to kill her, you simply came straight at her. When you hurt her, you weren’t actually trying to hurt her. Hell you even tried to help her. Dealing with you isn’t that difficult. When she loved me, she did it with her whole heart, no past hurts holding her back. After I lost my soul, I tried to break her. I tried to kill everyone she loved simply to weaken her. As evil as you were, you never compared to me.”

“That’s true. So are you sayin’ that you’re not..”

“I’m still mad but I’m willing to admit my part in all this. I was the one that made Cordy question herself. I left without saying anything but Buffy kicked her when she was down. I’ve apologized to Cordelia. So should Buffy.”

Part 13

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