Senior year, Cordelia had once overheard Willow and Buffy talking in the locker room. They were gossiping about Faith. Willow had said something about how much she liked those leather pants (which makes a lot more sense now with the benefit of hindsight).
Then Buffy had mentioned Faith talking about how slaying made her hungry…and horny. Now at the time, I chalked it up to her being a crazy freak-loving psycho bitch, just like Buffy. But now…
From the very beginning, when Angel had first started training her, Cordy had noticed it. At first she’d ignored it. The quickening in her stomach was from skipping breakfast. She blamed the tightening in her nipples on the cold damp basement air.
Told herself that her dry mouth was merely a result of not drinking enough water. At some point, she’d admitted it. Training made her…horny’s not the right word…training makes me feel…ready. That’s it. . Ready. Primed.
There was just something about it. The heaviness of steel in her hand. The whoosh the sword made when she slashed it through the air. It made Cordelia feel powerful. And power and sex, well, they could go hand in hand.
Sure she complained to Angel. Whined about being sore or how she preferred low-impact cardio aerobics. But deep down… Knowing that her body was being laid siege to, knowing that it was up to her to defend herself, use herself as a weapon…she liked it. God sometimes she could taste it. The anticipation.
Angel talked a lot about awareness of surroundings. Gave long boring lectures on how Cordelia must always know where her attacker was. Part of that awareness always made her focus on herself. Training, fighting—it made her supremely conscious of the intricacies of her own body.
The feel of each long muscle as it flexed and released. The lingering smell of perfume and prespiration that blanketed her. The way her chest expanded, the burst of oxygen as it raced to her lungs. That little tickle, as a single drop of sweat ran down the small of her back.
And that’s what it was like BEFORE the ballet. Now? Woah baby.
Now, all that awareness was suddenly, strangely, focusing on Angel. It was like, before, Cordy had just been walking around in the dark and now someone had flicked on the switch, leading her shocked and blinking into the light. And for a while, it was blinding.
The leanness of his hips. The way his tongue darted left, peeking out of the corner of his mouth as he parried and thrust. The faint sprinkling of baby powder in his hair. His hair? How did he get it in his hair? Before Cordy could hazard a guess, she was distracted by other things. By the small male nipples she could just make out through his thin undershirt.
By his forearms, the way the muscles corded as he swung his weapon. By the way the awful lighting in the basement made his cheekbones more pronounced. Cordy wanted trace the line, curl her tongue around it. No I don’t! I don’t want that. I can’t want that.
When she’d first come downstairs, watching Angel workout had made her take notice. She’d appreciated. But now, training, almost dancing like this, with Angel…she was so hot. It’s burning up. Is it always so hot down here? She felt too warm and too tight, and…
Drunk? I feel like I’m drunk. Maybe Groo slipped some sort of Pylean roofie in my orange juice this morning. This isn’t normal. Something is making me feel this way.
“Pay attention Cordelia,” Angel said through his teeth, as their swords clashed so hard she practically spun around. That was also different. The teasing casual edge that had marked all their previous training sessions was missing. Angel’s eyes had been dark and unreadable ever since they began sparring. It was unnerving. She could tell he was angry, but she wasn’t clear as to why. More unnerving, however, was how his anger was affecting her.
I’m getting off on it. What the hell is wrong with me?
Cordelia had never been one for kinky sex. No fantasies about whips or pain. So why was she finding herself oddly thrilled by the thin veneer of violence that penetrated all his movements? It’s not like she wanted him to hurt her. Instead she was getting off on the fact he could hurt her, he could want to hurt her, but he never would. Not on purpose. Not knowingly.
“Yikes,” she muttered as she desperately leaned to the right, avoiding his swing. Angel was right. She did need to pay more attention. She needed to not be thinking about him, or his body, or what she wanted to do with his body. She needed to concentrate on something she was not in the least bit excited about.
“So, why do you hate Groo so much?” she asked, panting slightly.
“Who says,” Angel moved the line, forcing the fight in a different direction, “that I hate Groo?” he finished. Other than a miniscule tic over his left eyebrow, there was no reaction
Angel had a tendency to announce the direction of his attack, a small movement of his hip that gave his intentions away. Cordelia smiled slightly as she blocked his thrust. “Are you jealous?” she wondered.
That got his attention. He gnawed unobtrusively on his lower lip. He almost looks nervous.
“Why, ah, why would I be jealous?” Angel asked, attempting to inject a casual tone in his words, and succeeding well enough so as to not set off Cordelia’s radar. His movements were slower now, though, less focused.
“Um, maybe because he can go do champion-y stuff under the bright L.A. sun, when certain ensouled vampires are out of commission,” Cordy huffed, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. Her eyes flickered over him, confused, when she heard his sigh of relief.
Angel spun left, putting her on the defensive. Ohhhh, look who got his groove back.
“I am not jealous because Groo gets to play outside when I’m not allowed to,” Angel said, going all smart-assy and making Cordelia frown when she found herself liking it.
Cordelia should have noticed that Angel never actually came out and said he wasn’t jealous. But she did, after all, have a lot of things on her mind. She was holding a deadly weapon. There was a half-naked hottie with a weapon of his own. It was understandable when the subtext flew over her head.
They were really picking up speed now. Usually Angel would interrupt the sparring, to impart wisdom or tell her what she was doing wrong or even to let her get a sip of water. It’s like we really are fighting. And I’m not sure WHY? Cordelia was sure, however, that it was a fight neither wanted to lose. She wasn’t as certain how they would go about determining a winner.
Either way, the dance isn’t stopping anytime soon.
“Why don’t you like him?” Cordy persisted.
“Why is it so important that I like him?” Angel countered.
Good question. Well you’re my best friend. I care what you think. I want you to lend him those leather pants for when we go out Thursday. Those reasons were all quite valid. Unfortunately, none of them were true.
Even though Angel had helped her in the quest for her little blue bottle, Cordelia wasn’t unaware of his animosity for Groo. It was probably due to that little spat the two of them had back in Pylea. Or maybe attractive guys resented other attractive guys? For whatever reason, it bothered Cordy. It bothered her more than it should. She wanted him to approve of Groo. She needed Angel to like Groo.
Maybe if he does, it will be easier for me to like Groo. And maybe then I can finally get laid. Soon, before I become some sort of famous poster-child for sexual frustration.
Angel must have noticed that Cordy hadn’t answered the question. Instead of pressing her, he asked another. “So why do YOU like him so much?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Have you SEEN him?”
“How could I NOT have seen those teeth?” Angel shot back. Cordelia pressed her lips tightly together to avoid laughing.
“Angel, he is gorgeous.”
“I guess I just never pictured you being all about looks,” Angel said.
“I don’t like Groo because of his body,” Cordy informed Angel. He made a face and even she cringed at the ridiculousness of that statement. She tried again. “I don’t like Groo JUST because of his body. I like him for lots of reasons.” Angel just raised an eyebrow.
They were both moving at half-speed now, giving her time to think.
“He’s genuinely a good person Angel. I’ve never met someone like that. He’s, like, innocent.” Although, sometimes, and I know this is crazy, I think Angel is an innocent too. He fights so hard, for total strangers, and he does it because he believes they are worth saving. He forgives so easily. Gives people second and third chances.
Cordelia went on. “Uh, Groo, Groo is very loyal.” Course, you look up “loyal” in the dictionary and you get a picture of Mister Broody Himself. It’s such a shame he doesn’t photograph well.
“Let’s see, what else do I like about Groo? Hmm, well, duh, he’s a hero. He can protect me. He cares so much about me. He thinks I’m worth crossing dimensions for.” Okay, but you already have a hero who protects you and cares about you and jumps blindly through portals after you. And your hero has better hair. And nicer pecs.
Cordelia was so caught up in the conversation she was having with herself that she totally forgot about what she was supposed to be doing. Angel took advantage of this. There was a clattering of noise as the steel flew out of her hand and into the wall. Cordy just looked down at her now-empty hand.
“He’s not all human,” Angel said, and the sound of a voice not coming from inside her head caught her by surprise. She looked up at him, blinking. Then her brain clicked back on.
“Hello. Not really in the position to care about someone being half-demon now am I?” Cordy embellished her words, waving at herself dramatically. Angel nodded. “Besides,” she softly told Angel, who still gripped his sword tightly, “who you are, it’s not about WHAT you are. It’s about what you DO.”
There was a message there, in her words. She hadn’t intended it to come out, but it was there, nonetheless, and Angel had gotten it. And for the first time since he’d handed her the stupid sword, the ice melted from Angel’s stare.
The warm chocolate of his eyes reminded her of spending winters in Aspen.I’d come inside and stand by the fire and start shaking. I never noticed how cold I was until I came inside where it was warm.
Cordelia felt it, a deep pull in the pit of her stomach, she felt it when his eyes changed. When warmth gathered into heat. Suddenly there were things in Angel’s eyes and they looked a lot like things that could get them into a whole heap of trouble.
Things like passion. Need. Want. Cordelia’s eyes went wide. She looked even closer and swore she could see flames dancing in his eyes.
Flames scared her. Flames seduced, they urged people to forget the risk, encouraged them to jump into the fire. Cordelia was not sure she could handle being burned. Not by this man. Not when I have a safe, flame-retardant guy waiting for me at home.
If before, with the weapons, they had been dancing, then now was more like a game of Chicken. Who would pull over first? Because if neither of them got out of the way, they were going to hit each other head on. And that will probably make the apocalypse look like a pizza party. They would both go down in flames. Cordelia was positive of this.
He took a small, uncertain step forward and she was the one who blinked. Cordelia wasn’t ready to play with fire. Not until she figured out why she wanted to so badly. So when Angel moved closer, survival instinct kicked in. She twisted slightly to the left and then kicked her right leg out, making contact at just the right place on Angel’s wrist.
His sword flew back into the corner behind him. My God. If I wasn’t sure before, I’m sure as hell sure now. I fucking rock.
“Look’s like I’m not the only one who needs to pay attention,” Cordy told him smugly.
For a brief moment, dissapointment flickered over Angel’s face. Then he broke into one of his trademark half-smile. Despite her interrupting whatever it was she had just interrupted, Cordy could tell he was proud of her.
Then, suddenly, the half of his mouth that had managed to smile faded back into frown.
“Where’d you learn how to do that?” he asked, but it sounded like some kind of accusation. “Did Groo teach you that?” Angel put a strange emphasis on Groo’s name, which Cordelia found very irritating. Angel repeated the question. “Did HE teach you that?”
“No. That, my friend, was all courtesy of Mister Billy Blanks. And you were the one who told me those Tae-Bo tapes were a huge waste of time! Who’s laughing now?” Cordy giggled for emphasis. “Oh, wait, that’s me. Not only did they help me lose two inches from my waist, but they apparently taught me how to kick your ass.” Angel squinted at her, but she saw his lip twitch.
That jackass. I can tell he wants to smile. “I was like some sort of Terminator. Or like that chick that helped the Terminator. That chick with the guns?” Angel’s lips pressed together in a wobbly line. “Oh come on. I know you’ve seen it? The immortal classic Terminator Two? I know you know. That Linda Hamilton chick seems like the sorta girl you’d definitely have a hard-on for.”
Ahh, there we go. I knew he was no match for my feminine wiles. Of course, as usual, Angel’s smile, when it was real and relaxed, had only one effect. It made her grin like a big dopey jack-o-lantern.
They just stood there, dueling goofy smiles, for God knows how long. All Cordy knew was that at some point during the exchange, her heart started to pound. Her palms started to sweat. She started exhibiting all the classic signs of…Oh no you don’t Cordelia. You stop that right now! I’m serious Chase, get it together.
Wipe those hands on your pants. There you go. That’s better. Oh shit. No it’s not. Your heartbeat! He’s a freakin’ creature of the night Cordy. He can hear your heartbeat. Make it normal. Stop it. That’s right. Just stop breathing. That should bring your heartbeat down. Okay, bad idea, bad idea. That’s gonna make your heartbeat stop. We don’t want that. Breath. There’s a girl. Now, make a hasty exit. Hello? I said HASTY!
Cordelia whirled around, away from Angel and his dorky smile and his flamey eyes and everything else she was all-of-the-sudden noticing about him.Ooops
She was facing the wall. A proper hasty exit would have entailed actually going AROUND Angel and up the stairs. By turning around, the only way to get out was the door that led deep into the sewer system. And I’ve done enough time trudging through that crap, thank you very much.
Cordelia was still thinking of escape alternatives when all of the sudden she was grabbed from behind and yanked back against Angel’s hard length. And that’s about the point that all rational thought stopped.
It was like leaning up against a cool white column. He wasn’t holding her hard, or very tightly, but Cordy felt totally surrounded. There was only his undershirt separating him from the damp skin on her lower back and she could make out the hard ridges of his stomach pressed against her. He invaded all her senses, causing them to overload. Cordelia knew she was shaking, but she couldn’t seem to stop.
“That Tae-Bo guy should have also taught you to never turn your back on your opponent,” Angel said in a low voice. His words whispered across the back of her neck in a cool shivering kiss that made her toes curl. Her mind raced. She saw them, against the wall, his hands on her bare ass, squeezing hard enough to bruise. Pictured taking him into her mouth, feeling him buck and shudder and grunt her name. His hand on her thigh, the contrast of the cool whiteness on warm brown skin. She blinked repeatedly, to try and clear the images from her mind.
Why is this happening? Why now? Why him? Angel felt it too. That much was obvious. He was running his hands up and down her bare arms. She felt him exhale a shaky breath. Cordelia unconsciously leaned back and there he was, “rising up” to meet her.
Cordy had never been so affected just by being near a guy. Except for that time at the ballet.
That’s it! Oh my God, that’s totally it. I know why! I know why I’ve been drooling over Angel. I know why he’s three seconds away from humping my ass! It all makes sense now!
At the ballet, they’d been possessed by powerful magic. Infused with the spirits of two people who had shared a grand love affair. Clearly they were both still partially under the spell. That’s all it is. Leftover mojo!
Cordelia wanted to tell Angel that she’d figured it out. But he was so near. He was too close. Her chest felt tight. She could barely breath, let alone talk. So she did what any rational person would have done, under the circumstances. She hit him.
Or, more accurately, she jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow. Cordy cringed as a grunt of pain and surprise breezed over her right shoulder. It had the desired effect though. Angel’s arms fell away, freeing Cordelia to hook her leg around the back of Angel’s leg. It should have immediately sent him toppling to the ground.
Except this wasn’t something she’d learned from a Tae-bo tape. This was a move that Angel had taught her. He reached for Cordy’s shoulders even as she pulled on his leg and when he went down, he took her with him. She landed hard. Face down. On top of him.
It took both of them a moment to get their bearings. Angel must have recovered first. Cordelia was occupied with wheezing for air and trying to shake off her blurred vision. Suddenly they were rolling and them boom, there she was, underneath him.
Angel. Is. On. Top. Of. Me. Oh. My. God. It was hard to believe. And yet there he was. His legs between hers. His hands, palm down, on either side of her head.
Neither of them moved and neither of them spoke. They just lay there.
Angel was not exactly a lightweight and Cordy still hadn’t totally recovered from the fall, so it took effort to breath. Both of them seemed to notice the deep rise and fall of her breasts at the same time, looking down where his chest met hers. Every time she inhaled, she pressed more intimately against him.
Okay, this is not a big deal. This is fine. Normal. There is nothing sexual about him just lying on top of me. Keep calm. Angel is gonna wait to see how I react. Where I lead, he will follow.
Except right then, for the first time in, well, ever, Angel took the lead. He grabbed both of her wrists and handcuffed them over her head. Okay, maybe there is something vaguely sexual about him lying on top of me.
Be cool. Be cool. Aiming for nonchalance, Cordelia casually blew at the long bang that was hanging over her eye. She wanted him to smile and roll off of her. And then they would both get up. She would explain about the lasting effects of the possession. And life would get back to normal. She flashed a smile.
Angel didn’t return the smile. He didn’t roll off of her either.
“Well,” she said, giving a short raspy laugh, “you gotta give me points for trying.”
“Yeah but look where it landed you,” Angel pointed out. “I should probably subtract points.” Cordelia was too unnerved to think of a witty retort. She tried again to blow the bangs out of her face.
Angel shifted to hold both of her wrists in his left hand, and with his right, he carefully tucked the strand of hair behind her ear.
I don’t know how much longer I can take all of this. Cordelia needed to leave. She wiggled her hips experimentally. In retrospect, that was a mistake.She heard his soft groan, felt him harden. Thoughtlessly she shifted again and the friction, the firm ridge of him against her pubic bone had them both groaning.
Angel’s eyes dilated. With his free hand, he traced a finger over her lower lip. Once. Twice. On the third time her lips parted, just enough for the tip of his finger to slide onto the warm wet part of her lip. His finger is practically in my mouth. Holy shit! Even worse, he was leaning down.
All Cordelia could see was Angel’s mouth. She could practically feel it on hers. She could picture the way his lips would fit over her fuller, softer ones. Saw the way his mouth would master hers, how he would use his firm lips and tongue and weave a spell, making her tremble and reach for him. He was so close now. Another inch and—
“Angel no,” she whispered. He froze in his descent. He didn’t move, he didn’t blink. He waited. She freed her hand from his loose grip and gently cupped his cheek. “This is wrong,” she said.
Half a second later, the weight, which Cordy had to admit she’d been getting used to, was gone. Strangely, it wasn’t any easier for her to breath.
“Right. Of course. It’s all wrong. I’m, I’m sorry,” he mumbled, reaching down, offering her help up. Cordy took his hand and popped up, brushing at imaginary dust on her pants and then adjusting her ponytail. Only then did she take a good look at Angel’s face. He looked…shaken.
Oh God. I didn’t tell him. He doesn’t know why!
Angel was already headed for the stairs when Cordelia reached out and laid her hand on his chest, right over his unbeating heart.
“No, Angel, I, I felt it to,” she hurried to say. He looked at her intently before smiling softly. His hand came up, resting on top of hers.
“I’m guessing it’s just some leftover mojo from the ballet. It must take a couple of days to work out of our systems or whatever. I’m sure it will be gone soon.” Angel abruptly dropped his hand and took a step back, out of her reach.
“Yup, it’s just those wacky dead lovers, still trying to have a little fun in our bodies,” Cordy rambled. “I mean, think about it Angel. It’s the only rational explanation. For, for this…us,” she said, waving her hand between the two of them. He still didn’t say anything. Cordy forced a smile and nervously twirled a stray lock of hair.
Finally Angel nodded. “Sure Cordelia. Whatever you say,” he told her dully. “I’m just gonna, uh, go check on Connor.”
“Sure. Right. Of course,” she said quickly.
By then he was on the stairs. “I guess I’ll see you around later. Or, you know. Whenever,” he mumbled. Cordy nodded even though he wasn’t watching.
For a long while she just stood there, looking up at the door to the lobby. Wondering why she was suddenly overcome with the urge to cry.