Title: Celestial Ink
Summary: Angel has artistic tendencies. Cordy has a tattoo. I have zero imagination left for a compelling summary.
Disclaimer: Not mine, not now, not ever.
Dedication: Many happy returns to you, tesla321! Hope you get some well deserved time off, and that you enjoy this little slice of Cordy/Angel cake for your Birthday Ficathon!
Feedback: Hello, feedback ho here. Don’t hold back.
A/N: I apologize for the bad French. It should translate to ‘lazy eyes’ but if it doesn’t, somebody correct me! And thanks to Joni Mitchell, and the cut line lyric from “Blue.”
Noontime. Angel is in the courtyard garden, deadheading a cluster of buttery yellow roses. Curled brown petals drop to the cement around his feet and stick to the tops of his battered Fluevogs.
Cordelia had picked out the low-slung shoes, elbowing Angel in the ribs as if he wouldn’t have found them without her. “Youhave to get these. They’re even called Urban Angels. They’ll make your clown feet look a hell of a lot less clodhoppery.”
He scoops the mad spatter of blossoms from the ground and carries them out to the curb, depositing them into the trash. The traffic is slowed by the massive puddles that swamp Hyperion Avenue, a collection of two days’ worth of rain that shows no sign of stopping. He doesn’t mind that his shirt and jeans are soaked and clinging to his skin; it’s a welcome change from demon blood and fear-induced sweat.
At first she sounds like a mother, perturbed and superior. When he ignores her call a third time, her tone shifts. So Angel stays rooted to the spot, feigning interest in the passing cars, pretending not to hear. The sound of his name rises from the breath at the back of her throat and lingers on her curled tongue, and without looking he knows her mouth is shaped as if to kiss rather than to speak.
When he feels her touch on the back of his shoulder, he jumps, genuinely startled.
“So much for vamp hearing, Mister Beltone. Where the hell do you go when you take these little mind trips of yours?”
She is holding her jacket over her head. Kissing is the last thing on her mind.
Angel gestures to the courtyard. “It’s a good day for yard clean-up.”
“Sure is. For you and Martha Stewart’s insane little brother, maybe.” She pulls at his elbow. “Let’s go. In the house, Gene Kelly.”
As she turns to dart back toward the hotel, he glimpses the cerulean blue swirls on the small of her back, snaking up from beneath snug linen capri pants. Sun rays and moon beams, entwined. It’s been there for months; acquired in the days when she worked across town with Wes and Gunn. Without him.
It was still healing the night he came to their office for the codex. Hints of new skin and India ink mingled with the scent of body heat, anger and a sudden flash of desire.
“Hey, hold on,” he calls, suddenly behind her in one step.
Shrugging the jacket back on, she shakes invisible rain from her hair and turns around.
“You got a tat,” he tells her, gesturing at his own back.
“You catch on quick,” she laughs. “I’m one of the cool kids now.”
“Nice,” he says, nodding. She doesn’t offer him another glimpse, just watches him. “What’s it supposed to be?”
“If we’re going to swap ink stories can we do it inside?” Fat raindrops surrender their hold on the balcony above their heads and sink into the sodden pavement. Cordelia grabs Angel’s wrist and pulls him up the steps, stops, and turns her back to him. Lifts her jacket. Twists her hips a little.
“It’s the moon and sun. And some stars. See?”
He does, and lets his fingertips trace the corneal loops visible just above her low waistband. She is still beneath his touch, holding her breath.
“It’s just your standard girly tat,” she insists brightly, letting her jacket fall over his hand as she pushes the door open. “Nothing special.”
There’s nothing Angel can say now. Just “Oh.”
The representation is larger on the page than on her skin. Angel’s sketch captures what detail he has actually seen, plus some he intuits. As he adds crosshatching to the curve of her hip, he senses her coming up the stairs. He thinks about flipping the sketch book sheets to cover this latest work, and realizes that all of the other pages hold drawings of the tattoo and its owner.
Instead, he concentrates on shading the swell of her bottom and chuckles softly, imagining the tirade he will suffer when she peers into the book and reacts to his newest artwork. Well worth it, he thinks, to see her eyes narrow in an imitation of fury, to watch her storm away from him in a glorious shower of electricity.
His own personal lightning show.
He waits for her, listening to the rain. Water etches the glass balcony doors, scratching like graphite on vellum.
Cordelia hesitates in Angel’s open doorway for a moment. She steps in and closes the door at her back.
Two hundred-odd years of practice comes in handy. He doesn’t look up.
“That’s not bad.” Cordelia leans over his shoulder and points to the illustration. “It’s not so, what would you call it? Victorian?”
“Too ornate?” He looks up and smiles. Lies through his perfect teeth. “Fair amount of guesswork going on this one.”
“The real thing’s much funkier.” She flicks the page with a sigh. “You’ve got it in the wrong spot. And if my ass was that high it could double as a drink tray.”
Angel closes the pad and drops it to the floor. “Yeux paresseux.” Cordy is perched on the corner of the bed. “Maybe Degas was right. He used to say I had lazy eyes, idealized my subjects too much. Cranky bastard.”
“Yeux need a new hobby.”
“I thought it was pretty damn good for never having seen the whole thing up close.”
She leans toward him, takes a deep breath.
“Angel, when I was seven, my father commissioned a portrait of my mom and me. We wore silly matching dresses. Yellow dresses. Pearls.”
Her laugh rings through the room, warming Angel with a sudden rush. “No, you big shit. Close. I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever painted. Until I was in high school, anyway. Then, just…yuck.” She shudders at the memory. “Anyway, I’ve always wanted an artist to do a real portrait of me.”
There is a book filled with sketches of Cordelia that Angel started when Doyle was alive. There is still another, each page a study of her arms, her torso, her face, all made in the weeks between banishing Darla and reclaiming the trust and acceptance of his team. And there is the volume with studies of her back that rests next to his chair.
“I want you to draw me,” she tells him.
Angel retrieves the sketchbook and joins her on the side of the bed. He opens it to the beginning, and she leans into his side. Her voice is thick, breath warm on his shoulder.
“Angel. I want to model for you.” She studies his profile. Leans closer. “I want you to draw the real me, not what you think is under my clothes.”
Angel shifts on the bed, and laughs. “I haven’t drawn with a live model since…”
Cordelia opens the distance between them, snapped back to the real world. “If you say Darla I will stake you to dust,” she warns. Angel can hear her heartbeat thrumming in her chest, feel her struggle to hide what she wanted. What she’d hoped for.
“The twenties. The nineteen twenties.”
She jumps from the bed and strides to the door. Thunder rolls in the distance, off to the west.
“Fine. If you don’t want to do it, just say…”
“Cordelia.” He draws out her name, a long and languid command that stops her in her tracks and roots her to the floor. In a breath he is behind her, and lets his palms brush her shoulders as he takes a deep, heady draught of her scent. “Cordy.”
His touch glides over her, deliberate. Firm. Shoulders to forearms, elbows to wrists, then her waist fills his hands, warm and taut. As he buries his face in her hair he pulls her against him, and she doesn’t resist.
Later, after he has memorized the swirl of her sun and moon with fingers and lips and tongue and cock, after she has drifted off to sleep, curled in his bed as though she has spent endless nights there, he opens the book to begin a new sketch. After long moments of staring at the page, pencil poised and ready to capture her essence, he abandons the exercise, climbs into bed beside her and pulls her close.
“Love you like the sun,” Cordelia murmurs, burrowing into his arms.
He answers with a kiss and a whisper. “Love you like the moon.”