Season of Solace. 42

42:     Shady Hill Cemetery, North Central Sunnydale

Having borrowed Bev’s car, Angel parked the Plymouth at the small parking area at the bottom of the hill. It was a short walk up a curved path to the top where they picked out a grassy spot slightly away from the cemetery itself. The trees were behind them, the lights of Sunnydale below with the sky stretching almost endlessly toward the horizon.

“Here is fine,” Cordy told him. It was far enough away from the cemetery not to interfere with her enjoyment of her dinner plans.

She opened up the large navy blanket her grandmother stored in the hall closet to use as a ground cover. These might only be her exercise clothes, but she had no intention of ending up with grass stains.

Angel set the picnic basket down in the middle after Cordy settled down on one side of the blanket. He backed off looking awkward about joining her there. “Get down here, doofus.”

Bev had gone out of her way to prepare for Cordelia’s little surprise. Now that she thought about it, Cordy figured that her grandmother’s enthusiasm for picnics by moonlight might have led to the fact that she thought Angel was her boyfriend.

It was just food, after all. What was so sexy about that? This was not the beach. It was a cemetery for crying out loud. Not exactly a romantic spot despite the skyline view. Cordelia simply thought Angel might like to try out a few new tastes. After all, he had liked the fries.

“You know I don’t like to eat by myself,” Cordelia patted the spot beside her. He knelt down next to her, silent as always, just watching as she opened the basket. “Besides, tonight you get to taste everything.”

“Everything?” he asked with a dark glint in his eyes. “I’m sure I remember that you declared yourself a no-snacking zone.”

Cordelia busted out laughing just over the sheer fact that Angel had tried to crack a joke. “Not me, you dork!” Reacting, she pushed at his chest with both hands until Angel let her have her way and tumbled down to the blanket. “Keep your fangs to yourself.”

For the next half hour, they nibbled their way through the contents of the picnic basket. The little sandwiches were all different. Cordelia would tear off a bite of one and then hand it to Angel for a taste. She adored watching the expressions on his face when he found something he liked or hated.

The chocolate pudding was a mutual favorite, though Cordy had been too busy watching the ecstatic way Angel licked and “mmm’d” his way through his to care much about her own.

He drank down a cup of blood while she sipped on a Capri Sun. When he was done, she handed him the remainder of her drink. “Take this. You’ve got blood breath and I’m not going to—”

“What?” asked Angel with the straw still in his mouth. Removing it, he licked at a stray drop of juice clinging to his lip.

Cordelia straightened up from her side-lying position so close to his. “We’re going to train next, right? I don’t want you breathing on me with blood breath.”

“I don’t breathe, Cordy,” he pointed out, brow furrowing.

“Oh, yeah, well,” Cordelia shrugged while nervous butterflies swarmed inside her. She knew why, too. Exactly why. “Whatever.”

Picking up the trash that had accumulated, Cordelia shoved it back into the picnic basket and closed the lid. Angel was on his feet by the time she finished and was staring down at her. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Training? Honestly, that had been her plan, but it was not exactly on her mind at the moment.

Watching him take pleasure in something as simple as food made her wonder about other things. Like the way her skin had flushed hot at the soft rumble of delight purring from his throat, or the velvet softness of his tongue scraping across the seam of his lips. Her own lips tingled, feeling swollen. She pressed them tightly together and lifted her fingers to them as if to stave off the sensation.

Good thing Angel was already standing because Cordy felt like grabbing him, running her fingers through that spiky hair of his and finding out what his lips felt like under hers.

“Get a grip,” she counseled herself. This was Angel. He might be Buffy’s ex, but the Slayer was hardly out of the picture. Throwing herself at him was out of the question.

“Cordy?” Angel was looking at her strangely, a mixture of confusion and amusement wavering across his face. “Am I supposed to be gripping something?”

Answering hastily, “No,” Cordelia stared back somewhat indignantly.

There was no question that he was teasing this time. “Then it’s something you’re suppo—”

“That’s right,” she snapped back. Cutting him off, Cordelia could not believe where her imagination was taking her. If she did not know any better, she would think that he was flirting with her in a dirty old man kind of way. “I’ve gotta get a grip on this training thing. So let’s get started.”

Angel held out a hand to help her up. “We’ll start with something simple and go over some basic moves together.”

Suddenly, she was nervous about it. “Maybe you should just show me first.” It was not a lack of trust. Cordy knew he would feel her trembling if he touched her.

The thought that she was no longer completely in control of her feelings or the situation thrilled and scared her. Certain that he could hear the way her heart was racing made it beat even faster. She felt nervous in his presence for the first time since they started patrolling together, and not because he was a vampire.

A puzzled look settled on his face for an instant, but Cordelia caught it just before it vanished behind the emotionless mask he usually reserved for the Scooby Gang.

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed something intangible down. Agreeing with her request for a demonstration, Angel simply said, “Okay.”

Removing his coat, he folded it neatly and placed it next to her on the blanket. As Angel leaned down for a moment Cordelia could not prevent the slow sniff of tantalizing scent wafting close, some kind of combination of vampire, manly goodness and cologne. He noticed, of course, but Cordelia said nothing. A girl had to breathe, after all. It was not her fault that he smelled good. The crazy idea about wanting him to rub that scent all over her, well that might have been her issue.

Their eyes met again as Angel began to unbutton his shirt revealing a white undershirt stretched over the tightly compacted muscle below. She tried to look away, to focus on the grass, the fringe of the picnic blanket, or the shiny lacquer of her clear nail polish, but it was impossible not to watch as his fingers nimbly pressed each button through the holes.

“I didn’t know there would be a strip show,” Cordelia joked, feeling the tension drain away a little. “Too bad. I would’ve brought some cash for your g-string.”

“Too bad I’m not wearing one.”

Muttering, “That was evil,” she watched as Angel pulled the material of his shirt out of his waistband and shrugged it off his broad shoulders.

“Here,” he held it out to her.

Cordelia tossed it onto the pile created by his coat as if it scorched her fingers. He stepped back onto the grass silence settling between them until the only sound was that of the birds in the trees. She leaned back on her hands to watch him closely as Angel gracefully stepped through a series of motions.

Watching Angel as his body stretched and condensed with such harmony of movement caused her to relax. There was strength in every simple move, in the line of his pale body against the darkness beyond, each motion fluid and even.

Knees bending, he crouched slightly causing his pants to stretch tightly across his powerful thighs. Cordelia stopped studying the grace behind the exercise and was suddenly caught up by her sensual response to it. Watching the play of muscles beneath his taut skin, the hands that stretched open-palmed toward her, Cordelia shifted her legs together pressing the ache between them.

Capturing her bottom lip between her teeth, Cordelia let them sink in to the point that she could no longer stand it. The distraction was not enough to put a stop to her wandering imagination. She knew the strength he could wield, the gentility of his touch, and wanted both.

An uncontrollable need to feel him against her brought her to her knees, and then to her feet. Cordy took a step forward stopping when Angel straightened up, facing her. His eyes dropped to her mouth and then to her breasts before sliding up to her throat where his gaze lingered before meeting hers again.

“God, what am I doing?” Cordelia cursed her own stupid hormones. Half-turned away so that she stared out into the darkness of the trees lining the cemetery.

She sensed Angel step up behind, felt his presence closing in. “Tell me,” Angel’s voice cracked with need.

Looking back toward him, she saw his hand hovering at her shoulder before he dropped it to his side. “Obvious, much? You’re a hottie. Momentary insanity, I guess.”

The purely male smirk on his face widened into a grin. “You think I’m a hottie?” Angel pointed out further evidence, “Your grandmother called me edible.”

“Don’t let it go to your head,” Cordelia warned playfully. “Bev doesn’t know you’re a eunuch.”

His grin faded fast. Seconds passed by during which he looked like he was going to explode. Cordelia held her ground, meeting his furious gaze over her shoulder. It might be mean, but at least Angel was no longer looking at her as if he was going to help her to fulfill her every fantasy.

Starting loudly, “I am NOT a—,” Angel could not even repeat the last word.

“Pfft! Like it makes a difference?” she asked with a sad twist.

Angel assured her otherwise. “Oh, it does.” Though her eyes shifted away from the intensity of his, she felt his hunger spiraling again threatening to consume her. “It makes a hell of a lot of difference, especially for you.”

So close.

He was as close as he could be without actually laying a hand on her. Cordelia’s heart thumped heavily in her chest as she shifted around to face him. “Why for me?”

“Do you really have to ask?” His mouth was just a whisper away, tempting her without deliberately leaning in.

He wanted her, too, in the same insanely hungry way.

The word was hardly a sound on her lips, “No.”

Part of her knew it long before now, but she had been avoiding the truth. The fact was that Drusilla’s crazy predictions scared her. She might want Angel, but she couldn’t risk Angelus when the vampiress had seemed so certain that Cordy could make him happy, perfectly so.

“I’m not going to lose control, Cordy,” he promised solemnly while his fingertips followed the curve of her cheek, thumb moving to press against her mouth. “You can trust me.”

Wrapping her hand around his wrist, she dragged it down to thread her fingers through his. “Angel, I do trust you, but I—”

The subtle roaring in her ears grew louder and Cordelia suddenly realized that it was not internal. She turned with Angel to look skyward. Lights arced across the night sky, some trailing streaks of fire as they hurtled to the ground.

“Oh, a meteor shower,” Cordelia realized having never seen one except on television. It was breathtaking, and despite what it meant this night, still seemed romantic. She was standing under a starry sky, holding hands with Angel, and watching the shooting stars fly by. “Maybe we should make a wish.”

Cordelia could not see his expression as his gaze was focused to the sky, but she caught the way his jaw tightened. He was all business when he directed his gaze back to her to say, “This is it. Watch for the crash sites. The prophecy indicated the sign would reveal another sacrifice.”

Cordy found it difficult to switch gears with her fingers still entwined with his. “I suppose so. Let’s hope no one goes up in flames this time.”

“They’re falling into the ocean.” Angel noted that most of the meteors were beyond the distant line of the beach and the lights of the harbor.

Not so sure about that, Cordelia watched as a distant point of light got larger and larger in the sky above them. “Why doesn’t that one have a tail like the others?”

Glancing up, Angel simply yelled out a warning, “Run!” The bright ball of flame was headed straight for them.

Their path took them through the middle of the cemetery. In her running shoes, Cordy managed to avoid the perils of the sticklers growing around the edges of the stones, but the ground was uneven. Angel had a tight grip on her hand and pulled her along a little faster than she could manage. It was not until she looked over her shoulder that she stumbled.

The source of the heat and roaring sound was almost on top of them. She lost Angel’s grip as she fell toward the ground, but he caught her. Lifting her into his arms without a hitch, he kept running toward the gully at the other side of the hill.

They reached it a moment too late.

The meteor slammed earthward with devastating force obliterating the east side of the cemetery, throwing up rock, dirt and dust as it punched a small crater into the ground. When the dust settled the only noise was that of the squalling birds settling back into their nests.

Moonlight dappled bright light across Shady Hill casting its spooky mysteries as long shadows. On the edge of the gully, covered in dust and hidden by the deep shadow of the trees were Angel and Cordelia. She lay sheltered in his arms, but unmoving, a trickle of blood dripping from her forehead onto the rocky ground below.

Scene 43

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