He sat down beside her, dropping a bucket of probably the greasiest Buffalo wings known to mankind at her feet.
“Oh, c’mon,” he muttered sourly, pointing towards them as if they would sway her mood in his favour. “You can’t stay mad at me forever.”
“Really?” she asked, arching a perfectly shaped eyebrow, “because I’m doing pretty well on that.”
“Even when I’m doing this much grovelling?”
Cordelia gave him a withering look, “FYI, Spike, Buffalo Wings? Not the way to this girl’s heart. That might have worked with Little Miss Likes to Slay, but me? Not so much.”
He sobered completely at the mention of Buffy and got up, the drop of his shoulders irking Cordelia and making her feel sorry for him all at the same time, “Oh for God’s sake…”
He turned and grinned, dropping next to her on the circular sofa that just wasn’t God’s way of letting you be comfortable. “Wing, pet?” he offered, holding out the bucket.
Cordelia wrinkled her nose and shook her head, “Not in this lifetime.”
Spike sighed and delved into the greasy portions himself, tearing into one and asking through a mouthful of food, “You still mad at me?”
“Let’s see, are you still an asshole?” she asked, only semi-disgusted at Spike’s eating habits these days. Sad to say, but she’d actually gotten used to the guy – the only Champion in her rolodex these days, and she used that term loosely.
“Always have been an asshole,” he murmured around his food, “Ask Ang–” He cut himself off before he said that name, knowing damn well that it was a sore subject where Cordelia was concerned. “Where’d Percy go?”
Cordelia looked up. Wesley had made himself scarce right around the time that Spike had appeared at the lobby doors, not wishing to get ’embroiled in yet another fight with you two’. She’d huffed silently at that, but she’d had bigger fish to fry, namely Spike. Only she hadn’t quite fried him in the sense she’d first meant. “Translating something, I think. Shocker, huh?”
Spike pulled a face. Two months he’d been working at this little venture and if Wesley wasn’t moaning about the state of the lobby, he was out reading something, checking out a new book from the demonic library of crap.
The bloke seriously needed to get out more. “So, I hear Angel dropped by.”
He dropped this into the conversation so casually that Cordelia was almost shocked by it. Almost. She’d learned not to be shocked by certain things these days. Angel turning up where he was least expected was one of them.
“Yeah,” she nodded, “He was less than happy about my current living situation.”
“You told him to piss off, right?”
“Not quite like that,” Cordelia shrugged slightly, “but I think he got the general gist of it.”
From the look on her face, Spike gathered that Angel had more than got the gist of it. He’d left, and so he should, with his proverbial sodding tail between his legs and it’d been about damned time he got a dressing down.
Spike was only slightly miffed that he hadn’t been round to see it. “He say anything interesting?”
“You mean, ‘did he ask about you’?”
Spike grinned, “Well, that too. What’d you tell him?”
Cordelia met his gaze, “I told him we were comshukking like bunnies, Spike,” she said deadpan, “What d’you think I told him?”
“That you’d seen me naked?” He asked, deflating visibly when Cordelia gave him that look again. “C’mon, pet, gotta have some fun with the big poof.”
Yeah, fun… thought Cordelia, rolling her eyes. Angel had been at his broodiest, picking his way through the lobby and casting an almost critical eye at it. It had been as clean as the day she’d left it, at least, no dust bunnies clawing their way through the hotel to sneer at.
“I hear you’ve got a new addition to the family,” he’d tried to bait her, enjoying the way she flinched, even though she’d done a more than stellar job at hiding her uncomfortableness.
That was his problem – he knew her more than anybody else ever had, than anyone else had ever tried and that just pissed her off.
“Is that why you’ve come here?” She asked, pretending to look busy as she cleared away folders, “Because if it is you can just stow it, Angel, I’m not in the mood.”
“So how’s it going?”
Conversations between them had been strained at best since she’d come back. They started out civil enough but before long they were back to the bitterness, to the recriminations that just wouldn’t settle.
More than once, Cordelia’d had to bite her lip where Angel was concerned, stop herself asking why he just hadn’t noticed that there was something up with her. Why, when he knew her better than anyone, hadn’t he noticed that there was something very wrong?
“How’s it going?” She repeated. “You took time out of your busy CEO schedule to come ask me how it’s going?”
Angel stiffened. Every time he got close to Cordelia, close to talking to her about what happened, she threw Wolfram and Hart and his current status of CEO in his face. It was bad enough that she’d left, taken Wesley along with her – he saw it as more of a blessing that she’d taken Spike –
but for her to bring it up every single time, knowing that he simply didn’t have an answer for it…well, that was just playing dirty as far as Angel was concerned, because he couldn’t stoop as far as the level that he wanted to go, that he could go if she pushed him far enough. Angel knew he never would.
“Do we have to do this again?” He growled.
Cordelia just stared at him. “Are you still working for them?”
“You know I am.”
“Then no,” she shook her head, “we don’t have to do this again ‘cause we don’t have all that much to say to each other,” said Cordelia coldly. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”
She started to walk away from him and Angel was across the lobby in three short strides, grabbing her wrist and spinning her towards him so that she was flush up against his chest.
“What?” She demanded, seeing the flash of anger in his eyes, “Hit a nerve, Angel?”
She was maddening, infuriating, the biggest pain in his ass he’d ever known…and he loved her desperately. Loved her so much that at times he couldn’t stand it, knowing that they were playing on opposite sides of the battlefield these days, that Spike had taken his place as her friend, her Champion.
She didn’t waver, didn’t even move or let a hint of fear show on her face, but Angel heard her pulse quicken, watched her tongue creep out to moisten her lower lip.
“Why him?” he asked, his voice husky. “Why Spike?”
Cordelia’s gaze remained on his, “You see many other Champion’s beating down my door?”
“He’s not a Champion,” Angel growled.
“He cares,” she retorted. “That’s enough for me.”
“And I don’t? Is that what you’re saying?”
“I don’t know, Angel,” she said, her voice sounding weary all of a sudden. “You used to. Maybe you just lost too much and decided it was easier this way.”
She really had hit a nerve with that one because Angel had shoved her away, knocking her into the desk as he’d stormed out of her hotel. She hadn’t been hurt, not really, but there was a bruise on her thigh to add to the list of general aches and pains of this fight.
“That well, huh?”
Spike’s soft voice broke into her thoughts and Cordelia glanced up, so painfully aware that she’d ‘gone off on one again’ as Spike liked to call it. “Yeah,” she nodded, “That well.”
“He tell you about Lorne’s bash?”
Cordelia shook her head, “Bash?” They’d been too busy arguing to have anything resembling a normal conversation.
“Halloween thing. Fancy dress.” Spike’s mood soured a little at that.
“What, you’ve got something against fancy dress?” She asked.
“It’s not that,” said Spike, “it’s bloody Harmony asking if I’ll be her date. There must be a dozen birds in that law firm who could’ve asked me and instead I get her.”
“Yeah, well, you know what they say, Spike. You made your bed…”
“Hey!” He snapped, “I haven’t shared that bed in at least three years. More, actually. So don’t go starting in on that. You going?”
“To a Wolfram and Hart Halloween Bash?” Cordelia gave him an incredulous look. “You’ve got more chance of me eating one of those wings.”
Spike shot a baleful look in the direction of his bucket, “I was sort of hoping we could…”
“What, go together?” Cordelia blinked, “Look, Spike, I like you but—”
“It’s not a date,” he murmured, seeming flustered. “I just…well, don’t you wanna wind Captain Forehead up a little? It’s a chance to get dressed up as well, pet, let our hair down, so to speak. And you know as well as I do that it’s the slowest night of the year.”
“Yeah,” she muttered, “like that’s stopped the Powers before.”
“We’ll answer their visions if they send you one. C’mon, love, girl I’ve heard everyone talk about wouldn’t dream of passing up a party.”
“Again, I say Wolfram and Hart,” Cordelia scowled, “Not looking to make with the merry in that building.” And she very much did not like the impression that she’d turned into some kind of killjoy or something.
They’d had different things to worry about, just because she hadn’t been all ‘Yay, Party!’ since she’d woken up, didn’t mean she didn’t know how to have a good time any more. Did it?
“It’d do you good, y’know.” Wesley’s voice from the other side of the lobby made Cordelia look up.
“How long have you been here?” she asked, wondering why it was they were suddenly ganging up on her.
“Long enough to think Spike’s right,” said Wesley, ignoring the incredulous looks he was shot by the two. It wasn’t often he agreed with Spike so when he did, it came as a shock to them all. “We could go. It’d be a chance to catch up.”
“You want to see Fred,” Cordelia accused.
His cheeks flushed slightly, “You’ve got me there. We could also use it as a chance to see what Wolfram and Hart are up to. I don’t think they’ll have thought of revoking my security pass.”
“Trust Percy to think of work,” Spike rolled his eyes.
Looking affronted, Wesley hung his coat on the back of his office door, “I don’t think we can afford not to. Those Bendril demons were a client of Wolfram and Hart’s.”
Cordelia glanced at him sharply, he hadn’t told her that, and it just seemed to drive it home that they really were on opposite sides of the battlefield these days. They were fighting the things Angel was representing and that was still kind of bewildering.
“Yeah, and since someone let one of them get away…” Spike smirked, knowing full well that the bloke would bite. He was wound tighter than Cordelia, some days.
Wesley frowned, “Its mate was standing on my face, Spike. It was rather hard to contain anything, never mind a bloody demon. And I don’t recall you stepping in to help.”
“That’s a shoddy excuse, that. And besides, I had my own demon to contend with,” Spike shook his head, before turning his attention back to Cordelia. “C’mon, love. You heard what he said. It’s all for the good of the team.”
Cordelia sighed, maybe they were right. “Fine. But I’m gonna need a killer costume.”
“You done yet?” Spike’s voice filtered through the curtain of the costume shop, sounding bored, annoyed and reverent of the fact that she could totally kick him when she came out.
“I’m…looking.” She decided on one finally, turning this way and that to see her best angle – currently her ass right now, since she’d been working out.
She’d checked the credentials of the guy she was buying from three times already, telling him that if she even got near changing into her costume de choice, she’d be back here kicking his ass so fast his head would spin.
Truth be told, he looked at her like she was a little crazy but Cordelia was oh-so-used to that. Years of having visions in public places had kind of set her up for the ‘let’s stare at the Crazy Lady’ parts of life.
“You’ve been ‘looking’ for twenty minutes,” said Spike, “What’s up with it? It can’t make you look any scarier than that last costume.”
The last one had been a costume dress, period piece in red and black that’d really brought out Cordelia’s, uh, better assets. Spike had shaken his head, looked up to find her grinning, and then realised who she’d looked like.
Spike had shuddered imperceptibly, avoiding her gaze.
“What? You don’t like it?” She asked, biting her lip uncertainly. She hadn’t been sure when she’d pulled the costume from the rack, even though red and black were totally her colours.
“It’s…it’s not that I don’t like it, pet. It’s—”
“What?” She glanced down at the corset, smoothing her hands over the lacy fabric. “What’s wrong with it?”
“You just look like someone, is all.”
Spike glanced at his feet and mumbled a name that had Cordelia retreating right back into the dressing room to change. Drusilla.
“So what’s wrong with this one?” He asked again.
“I’m trying to decide on your next biggest insult,” she shot back.
“It wasn’t my fault,” he groaned, catching the eye of some hapless idiot across the way who looked just like he did, trying to placate his better half through the filmy curtain separating them. “You looked fantastic, pet.”
“Yeah, I just reminded you of a blood-sucking vampire, is all.”
The salesgirl walking near shot Spike an odd look and he gave a resigned sigh, muttering “old girlfriend” as she passed. “Cordelia—”
“Okay, okay.” The curtain flipped open and Cordelia stepped out, making Spike’s mouth fall open.
She grinned, spun to give Spike the full view and arched an eyebrow, “Well?”
“Gonna be a lot of guys adjusting their crotch area tomorrow night,” he observed, making her laugh.