Bad Timing. 12

Part 12: Another Saturday Night

For the third time in twenty minutes, Angel checked the time on his watch with the time on his cell phone, just to make sure his watch was right. He had been at Caritas for almost an hour.

Where the hell is she? She should be here by now. She knows how I need her to—she knows how I need her.

Admitting that need used to be hard for Angel, it was embarrassing just to think it in his head. But it was true. He liked to be around her. She put him at ease, he discovered new things about himself in those twisted convoluted conversations they had. Where is she?

Lorne came up and placed a foamy glass of Guinness next to the empty one that lay on the table in front of Angel. He was dressed in a shocking purple and yellow, like some sort of freakish Easter Bunny; somehow it worked on him though.

“Thought you could use a refill Angel-heart. You look like you might need it. Hum a little something, let me see why you’re so glum.” Angel’s face registered the chance of that happening. “Okay, so just tell me. Everyone’s having a great time. My club’s been open nearly four hours and has yet to be destroyed. What could possibly be wrong?”

The host was right. Everyone did seem to be enjoying themselves. Willow and Fred were sitting at a table upfront, groaning at the Summers’ sisters and their rendition of “Eternal Flame.” Gunn and Xander were going over the list of songs and Angel shivered at the thought of those two in a duet. But even those guys seemed relaxed and happy.

“Seriously Sir-Broods-A-Lot, why so blue? How was dinner with my second favorite former cheerleader?”

Angel sighed. “It was, it was okay.” That was true. It hadn’t been bad. It was just off, not like when he went out for a bite with Cordelia and the gang. He had been doing that more often this year and while the cuisine wasn’t his thing, it was nice just spending time together. Buffy and he, well, it had been awkward. She had kept on studying him, watching his every move, like she was afraid he might not know how to use a fork or anything.

And the conversation hadn’t been exactly been rolling. What did we use to talk about? Angel saw Lorne wouldn’t be satisfied with just ‘okay.’ “We went to that French place in Hollywood, the one Cordy was whining about going to last week.”

Something caught Lorne’s eye behind Angel. “Speaking of the Seer with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, here’s vision girl now. And isn’t she a vision.” Angel turned around. Cordelia stood in the doorway. Her hair and make-up were perfect, but she still looked touchable in a way she hadn’t two years ago. She wore a simple black strapless dress, but it wasn’t slutty or cheap looking. It came down to her knees, provocative in it’s classic beauty.

Like her.

The spell of her was broken when Spike appeared in the doorway behind her. He leaned in and said something in her ear that made her laugh—Angel thought he could actually hear her low sexy chuckle from across the room, despite the noise from the stage. Spike caught Angel’s eye and offered him a smirk before sliding his arm around the object of Angel’s affection. Angel growled. He had been doing that an awful lot lately.

“Easy killer,” Lorne soothed. “You know that’s not who he’s here after.”

Just Breath. Cordelia told herself as she and Spike made their way over to where Angel and Lorne sat. For some unknown reason, she had really started to dread this night. She had spent over an hour in the bath, torturing herself by imagining what Angel and Buffy were doing on their big date. The thought of them feeding each other grapes had led to a painful shaving cut on her ankle.

Stupid imagination.

Spike had done a little to help her apprehension. The two of them were an odd pair. They still had yet to discuss their entirely too depressing love lives, and yet each clearly knew how the other felt. Like how Spike still wouldn’t admit to feeling anything for Buffy but how he was so clearly worried about the threat Angel represented.

In a weird way, the temporary insanity caused by loving people they could never have had bonded Spike and Cordelia. In Spike, Cordy was finding the snippy girlfriend she hadn’t had since the days of Harmony and the Cordettes, as well as the comic foil role that had made Xander so oddly appealing. In turn, Cordelia accepted Spike without all the conditions the Scoobies made; she made him feel worthy and wanted. It meant more than he could say, more than he ever would say.

Slowly, the bitterness and fear they had left the Hyperion with had melted away. Never in my life would I have imagined getting ready to go out with Spike.

They had blasted a little Britney and then some old school 80’s stuff. They had fought for mirror space while singing “Living on a Prayer” together. They decided that they would start a band called “Love’s Bitch” and tour small college towns across America.

Before they left for Caritas, Spike had even given a little pep talk. The motivational speech basically amounted to “Screw star-crossed lovers,” but the tequila shots they had done proved very “peppy.”

Well, as Spike said, there’s no shame in liquid courage.

Cordy walked passed a group of moderately attractive vampires and saw Angel sitting there in front of her. Despite the plan she had made in the car on the way over, the plan to be all super cool and casual and not at all like a nervous school girl, she got one good look at those hooded eyes and all that black leather and she couldn’t hold back a sigh of appreciation. Spike heard it and quirked an eyebrow.

When they got to the table both demons stood up and Lorne clapped his hands in appreciation. “Well don’t you two look too gorgeous for words,” Lorne gushed.

Angel’s eyes nearly popped out of his head as Cordelia and Spike both flashed smiles, inclined their heads toward each other and said “We know” at exactly the same time. The duo’s obvious affinity for each other was more than mildly disturbing. It went against the natural order of things. Angel recovered from that shock and looked up to find Cordelia staring at him, expectantly.

“Well?” she asked, doing a small pirouette. Oh shit. She wants a compliment. I need a good compliment. Something that’s not the truth, because I doubt “I’ve had a hard-on since I smelled you from thirty feet away,” is what she really wants to hear right now. Beautiful? Incredible? Magnificently arousing and unquestionably perfect in every way?

“Nice,” Angel mumbled.

Cordelia bit her lip. The night of the ballet, she had interrupted Angel when he was complimenting her; she never got to find out what he would have said. That was why she had asked for his opinion tonight. Nice? That was it. Weather was nice. Books by Nora Roberts were nice. Kittens were nice.

No, scratch that, people tell kittens they’re cute. Even cute is better than nice. She had really been looking for something a little more…well just more.

Spike noticed that Angel’s “nice” really wasn’t flying with Cordy, so he decided to create a little distraction. “What about me, ya big poof,” Spike asked, doing a clumsy pirouette of his own. Angel glared at him but it brought a smile back to Cordelia’s face. “Well then, I think drinks are called for. Cosmopolitan for milady?” Spike asked.

“You know me too well,” Cordelia drawled. Spike headed over to the bar, bumping into Cordelia with a clumsiness she knew he didn’t possess. With the heels she was wearing, Spike’s little nudge had her falling into Angel, just as Spike had probably planned. Angel of course caught her in that sweetly strong way of his that always had her heart racing.

“He better not know you too well,” Angel murmured right next to her ear and Cordelia couldn’t hold back a shiver. Most of what could be classified as flirtation between the two of them was said very innocently. It was strictly subtextual, there was nothing overt in their relationship. But Angel’s voice just then, it had been, well, sexy.

Muscles in regions she hadn’t thought about since the ballet had clenched at his dark, seductive tone. What the hell is going on here? Did Buffy and him get groiny at dinner and now I’ve got Angelus coming on to me? Cordelia checked Angel’s clothes, noted the absence of a cool smirk, and decided the man currently making her mouth dry definitely still had a soul.

Angel wasn’t entirely sure why he had said that, especially THAT WAY but he didn’t feel like analyzing it right now, not while he should be savoring the woman he was holding in his arms. He was always amazed at the striking dichotomy of Cordelia. There was the Cordy who could curl up in old sweatpants and un-brushed hair and crack her knuckles just because she knew it annoyed him.

The comfortable Cordy.

Then there was the woman who could walk into the room and make everything stop, make even soulless demons believe there had to be a God merely because no lesser being could have created such a masterpiece.

That Cordy made Angel decidedly uncomfortable, but in a good way. That was the Cordelia he slowly eased out of his arms now. This Cordy smelled like luxury, like hazy heat, like sin.

The night was definitely improving.

part 13

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