Title: Dick Clark with Extra Cheese
Posted here: 08/05
Summary: “Something changed in Cordelia’s face. She quit frowning into her hands and looked up at him. He physically felt the moment when her eyes went all warm. She tilted her head to one side. “You think I’m beautiful?” she asked quietly.”
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Nothing Fancy, anyone else, just ask.
Notes: This is set BEFORE WITW and Birthday. So visions are still painful, no one (besides Lorne and Angel) is demony, and it’s still unclear where Fred’s affections lay.
Thanks/Dedication: So this is for Anni, who writes funny, heart-warming, too-rarely smutty stories. Anni, who has publicly called me out twice now for my lack of posting, and frankly, was starting to scare me.
Feedback:Very much appreciated.
Angel’s head whipped around when the door to his room flew open. He’d been caught totally by surprise, too enraptured at watching Connor try to roll over. Ever since he’d become a father, his reflexes had been a little off. Lucky, it isn’t a vampire cult out to kidnap the miracle child or Lorne asking my opinion on a Speedo again. It’s just Cordelia.
Even as Angel thought that, he was tempted to laugh. “Just Cordelia.” Right. Like Cordelia was “just” anything. Not moving from the easy chair by the crib, he looked her over, taking it all in. She stood in the doorway, one hand still on the doorknob and the other firmly on her hip. She was breathing heavily, so hard that he was momentarily transfixed at the rapid rise and fall of her breasts in the tight black tank top. Then his gaze moved up. To the light sheen of clean sweat on her chest. To the gleaming pinkness of her slightly parted lips. And finally, to the glare of death shooting out of her hazel eyes.
“I am going to kill you,” she announced in a low voice. She probably wanted to scare me. Angel wondered if she knew that that voice did to him. Cordelia happy was a beautiful thing. But Cordy angry, Cordy annoyed, Cordy pissed, that, that was undescribable. Even now, he felt his whole body grow tight as he watched her. Yeah, it’s definitely a good thing she doesn’t know what that voice does to me. But he did have to wonder, what had he done to make her so pissed?
“How could you Angel? Knowing how important it was to me, how could you? How could you not tell me?” she said. Okay, Angel conceded, maybe she was a little bit scary. Sexy, but scary. Did she find out about the two messages from that guy Paul, the ones that mysteriously disappeared before she’d heard them?
“I thought we were friends,” Cordy went on. “More than friends.” Angel’s eyes went wide. “We’re best friends.” Angel’s eyes went less wide. “You owe it to me to be honest.” Oh God, Angel wondered, what if she’d found those sketches. Sure they’re great. Some of my best work. But I doubt Cordelia would appreciate finding naked drawings of her.
“How could you not tell me?” she asked again. She let go of the door and took a faltering step forward. Her voice was less “I’m going to cause your violent death” now and more “I’m going to cry in about thirty seconds if you don’t do something to fix it fast.” He still had no idea how he had so grievously wronged her, but he realized it didn’t matter. He needed to say something. Now.
“I’m sorry?” he offered, in a small, humble voice. Her eyes narrowed, taking on that special glint they got when she was seeing right through whatever he was trying to pull. He quickly stood up. “Okay, I’m not exactly sure what I’m sorry for. But I know that I am sorry. And that it’s entirely my fault. And that whatever it is, we’ll work through it together.” Pausing, Angel took a moment to be proud of himself. That was a speech. That was one hell of a speech. Then the worry hit. What if something is horribly wrong? Is she in trouble with the law? Did an audition go badly? Is she pregnant? Oh God, please don’t let her be pregnant. Wait, why would she be mad at me for not telling her that? She would know that way before me. What if she’s sick? What if the visions-
Suddenly she was there, right in front of him, hot little breaths hitting his neck like tiny kisses. “How could you not tell me that I got fat?” Cordy hissed. Angel could tell that she really wanted to yell, but was far too aware of the child sleeping peacefully two feet away. “I went and became a heifer and you didn’t think that was something worth mentioning to me!”
Angel couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Thank God there was nothing really wrong. “That’s it?” he asked. “You’re upset because you’re fat.” Even as he said it, Angel knew he’d fucked up. He grimaced as he watched her react to his words. Her perfect lips parted as her mouth fell open into a gasp. Her eyes, shadowed and lined and mascara-ed, went wide. And her nails, with the French manicure that he’d paid for yesterday, came at him.
“Woah, woah,” Angel said, taking a quick step backwards and putting his hands up in front of him to ward off her blows. He’d been attacked by her before. Like all girls, Cordy fights dirty. “That’s not what I meant, that’s not what I meant.” Her hands stopped coming at him, but stayed up in the air. He glanced warily at her nails again.
“That’s not what I meant,” he hurried to explain. “You are not fat. Not fat at all. You, you’re, you’re, uh, your body is…” Angel searched for an acceptable word. Amazing? Fantasy-inducing? Getting me hard as we speak? He was taking too long, he noted, as her hands moved within clawing distance again. “Your body is…proportional.” Seeing that wasn’t enough, he went on. “You look very, you know, nice. I don’t look at you and think fat. No one looks at you and thinks fat. Believe me.” She was believing him. She brought her arms down. He gingerly took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. “You’re not fat Cordelia,” he told her.
She looked down at the floor and then back up at him, her left hand coming up and touching where he was holding her shoulder. “Sorry Angel. I don’t know why I was yelling at you.”
“You weren’t yelling,” he pointed out.
“I wanted to,” she said, shooting him a look and letting go of his arm. “If there wasn’t a baby sleeping, believe me, there would have been much yelling. Which is ridiculous. It’s not like it’s your fault that I’m the size of a small country.”
Keeping his hands on her shoulders, Angel shuffled her around until they’d switched places and she was the one in front of the easy chair. Then he lightly pushed her down into it and crouched in front of her. “All right, I’m getting tired of this. You know you’re the most beautiful woman in L.A., so just quit.”
Something changed in Cordelia’s face. She quit frowning into her hands and looked up at him. He physically felt the moment her eyes went all warm. She tilted her head to one side. “You think I’m beautiful?” she asked quietly.
Angel was at a loss. Cordy rarely sounded like that. She got compliments all the time and usually they just seemed to bounce off her back. That’s part of the reason he never gave them to her. And because I’m afraid that once I start, I won’t be able to stop. Seeing his indecision, Cordy let a small smile escape. The tiny closed mouth smile she reserved strictly for flirting. She never gave him that smile. That wasn’t a best friend smile. He was out of his element.
“Sure you’re beautiful,” he babbled, out of sheer nervousness. “A, uh, beautiful person, you know. You’ve got heart….courage…the whole package.” The light faded from her eyes slowly and Angel wasn’t sure if he was relieved or disappointed.
“Oh, I thought,” Cordy smiled more out of embarressment than pleasure, “I thought you meant, with the…never mind. Sorry.” She shrugged her shoulders and tried to dissapear into the chair.
Desperate to change the subject, Angel stood back up and asked, “So, what started this all?” It was the right thing to do. Color rushed back into Cordelia’s face as she forgot about his complete lack of social skills and she slipped back into the righteous indignation of two minutes ago.
She also stood up and started to wander around the room, gliding her hands over books and tabletops. Something deep inside Angel, somewhere very near his unbeating heart, something shifted as he watched her walk around the room, looking so very much at home. He struggled to focus on what she was saying.
“There were signs of course. I just must have missed them. There were those Earl Jeans that stopped fitting somewhere around Thanksgiving. Remember, I blamed you for putting them in the dryer instead of letting them air-dry? Oh, and how when I take Connor to the park, or to the mall, or wherever, people always think I’m his mother. For some reason it never occurred to me that they were saying that I looked like I’d just given birth. And then, today…” Cordelia’s voice trailed off, like it was just too painful to describe. She swallowed heavily. “One day before New Year’s Eve, which is like, THE most important night of the year, today, I try on the John Galliano dress I bought back, in like, August, and does it fit?” Angel guessed the answer was no. “No. It doesn’t fit,” Cordy answered before he could. “I don’t fit in my dress and my hair keeps doing this weird flippy thing, and who’s gonna want to kiss a girl like that at midnight?” she whined. She walked back over to where he stood by the crib. “Honestly, would you want to kiss a girl like that, a girl with three chins and flippy hair, would you want to kiss her on New Year’s Eve?”
I want to kiss her right now. For a second, a split-second, Angel was tempted. Tempted to just lean down and take her into his arms and cover her lips with his. And then he would walk her over to the bed and lay her down and cover her body with his.
“You, uh, you don’t have three chins,” he pointed out instead. Something flickered in her eyes. He wasn’t sure if it was annoyance, or something more. Before he could ask, she shook her head and exhaled loudly and then it was gone.
“It really is kind of your fault, you know,” she told him, but there was no real anger in her voice. The awkward tension from a moment ago was already fading. She was directing them back toward safe, platonic waters.
“Oh really?” Angel asked. “How is that?”
“Oh, Cordy, want me to make you an omelet? I’ll only put ham and bacon and three pounds of extra cheese in. Or, or Oh, Cordy, don’t go to the gym, stay home with me and Connor, you burn enough calories demon hunting. You know, I have to tell you Angel, I think the health benefits of slaying a Kimigali demon are highly exaggerated,” she said, wagging a finger at him.
“Well see, when you avoid the actual slaying and instead you stand next to the wall and yell at me about how I’m doing it all wrong, then sure, you aren’t going to be burning a lot of calories,” Angel said. She giggled. “And you like the extra cheese. You told me next time to use less eggs and MORE cheese.” She actually laughed at that. Then she abruptly stopped.
“Don’t cheer me up. I’m not ready to cheer up yet,” she pouted. “I don’t need you to cheer me up Angel. I need you to make me skinny by this time tomorrow!” Angel drew a blank. They hadn’t trained in a while. He supposed he could offer to do that. “I’m talking drastic measures here.” His mind flashed back to what he’d read in last month’s Cosmo. Which he read for purely professional reasons. He worked with women. He had women clients.They say sex burns more calories an hour than Tae-Bo. Should I offer to have sex with her? She did say she was willing to consider drastic measures. At least sex with him wasn’t as drastic a measure as it once would have been. Not since last week, when Lorne had come upon Angel humming “Silent Night” to Connor and announced that his soul sounded pretty secure. Of course, he hadn’t tested that out yet. But, again, she did say drastic.
“Hello? Earth to Angel? Are you even listening to me?” Cordelia waved her hand in front of his face. “I have a serious problem. In 24 hours I want to be breaking hearts. Not breaking chairs.” Angel wondered if she knew she was breaking his heart a little right now. “I think I even have back fat,” she confided to him. She whipped around so she was facing the door, then looked over her shoulder at him. “Do I have back fat?” Then she crossed her arms in front of her and pulled up her shirt.
Angel’s mouth suddenly went dry. It’s no big deal. I’ve seen millions of women naked. This is just a back. There’s nothing sexual about a back. Everybody has a back. But this was Cordy’s back. An acre of warm tan skin covering firm muscles and perfect bones. He followed the line of her spine downwards, until it was met by the sun. He loved that tattoo. It was the only sun he ever got to see, and sometimes, it was almost enough.
Before he could stop himself, before he was even fully aware of what he was doing, Angel took a step toward her. Then his hand reached out and, with his finger, he traced the same path his eyes had just taken. She slowly turned her head back at him.
“Hold me closer Tiny Dancer, what’s going on in here?” Angel and Cordy both jerked at the interruption. Their heads whipped around to where Lorne stood in the doorway, resplendent in a gold lamé robe. “Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Lorne said, waggling his eyebrows. “I had no idea you two were up here playing Ben and J. Lo.”
“What?” Angel exclaimed, pulling his hand off Cordy like she had some sort of contagious skin condition.
“No way,” Cordy seconded, yanking her shirt back down.
Angel moved to stand on the other side of the room. “We weren’t playing…who is Ben?”
Cordy snorted. “Believe me Angel, you’re no Ben.” She rounded on Lorne. “Why J. Lo? Is that your way of saying I have a big ass?”
Lorne gulped. “Easy slugger. Just an innocent Pylean bystander.”
Cordelia backed off. “Sorry Lorne,” she offered half-heartedly. She wandered over to the bed and sat, putting her head in her hands.
Lorne walked over and stood next to Angel. “What’s with the Pretty Pretty Princess?” he whispered.
Not taking his eyes off the woman slumped on the bed, Angel whispered back, “She can’t fit into her New Years dress.”
“Hello, it’s not like my ears got fat. I can still hear you two,” Cordy said, her voice muffled by the fact that her head was still buried in her hands.
Unlike Angel, Lorne knew what to do in situations like this. He jogged to the bed and gathered her in his arms. “Of course you can hear us, you silly, skinny girl. Now what kind of dress was it? Betsy Johnson?”
Still sulking, “John Galliano” Cordelia sullenly told him.
“Well those always run small,” Lorne said comfortingly.
“It fit last summer,” Cordy whined.
Lorne covered, just like the master that he was. “Well last summer you were practically anorexic. You needed to gain some weight, so you could look as fabulous as you do now.”
Cordy bit her lip. “Fabulous.”
“Glorious. Sexy and womanly and every man’s New Year’s dream.” Cordy shot Lorne a sly look. “Okay, not MY New Year’s dream,” Lorne amended, “but every other man’s. Come on sugar, I’m sure Angelcakes already told you all this.”
Cordy sniffled, mostly for dramatic effect. “Angel told me I was proportional.”
Both of them turned and glared at Angel. “Proportional?” Lorne repeated.
Why does this always happen to me? “Yes. Proportional. That’s a compliment,” Angel defended. “And, and I said other stuff. I told you you were beautiful,” he whined to Cordy.
She rolled her eyes and turned back to Lorne. “He told me I was a beautiful person. That’s what guys tell all fat girls.”
“You’re not fat,” Angel yelled. Everyone froze and looked over at the crib. Seconds passed in silence. Angel gave a sigh of relief. And then one long, painfully loud wail erupted.
“Nice going,” Cordy huffed.
Lorne scurried over and picked up the squalling baby. “Angel-heart, looks like you’ve managed to alienate both the women and the children.”
Cordy slowly pushed herself up off the bed. “Well, I’m going downstairs to not eat,” she announced. “Thanks for all your help Angel.” Before Angel could object, she was out the door. He just stood there, looking at his feet, debating whether to run after her or give her some time to vent at Gunn, Fred, and Wes. I’m tired of being the bad guy. It’s their turn. He’d just stay up here, spend some quality with his son and wait for Cordelia to cool off.
Rocking the baby gently, Lorne tssked. “You really don’t know women at all, do you?”
Angel ground his teeth. “What did you come in here for anyway?” he growled.
“Oh, right, with all the excitement I completely forgot. I got another new Speedo and I was wondering what you—Angel? Where are you going?”
Angel sprinted for the door, chasing after the lesser of two evils.