Season of Solace. 57

57:     Thousand Oaks Drive, Sunnydale

Sunset left behind a biting wind that whipped along Thousand Oaks Drive. A storm front was moving into town, its dark, heavy clouds randomly obscuring and revealing glimpses of the nearly full moon overhead. Cordelia tugged her jacket closed, but the chilly air breezing around her legs and under her skirt made her wish she’d changed into her exercise outfit before leaving April Fools for the night.

Faith walked at a brisk pace next to her seemingly unaffected by the first taste of winter. Dressed in her jeans and matching jacket, it did not look like the slayer was in a hurry to get to a hot date, but it certainly seemed like she was in a rush.

“Slow down, Speedy,” Cordelia jogged a few paces on her high heels and reached out to catch the edge of Faith’s sleeve. “I’d like to get there without looking— or smelling like crap”.

A dimple appeared in Faith’s cheek an instant before her smile followed. “You’re planning to get hot and sweaty anyway, right? This is just a warm-up for your workout.”

The double-entendre was not lost on Cordelia who had had to tell someone about her make-out session with Angel. It was just too juicy to keep all to herself. Of course, she had sworn Faith to secrecy on the matter and had confidence that she would not spout off to the Scoobies.

The only thing was that there had not been any real decision between herself and Angel about what happened next. What was the next step and was it possible to even have one considering where that next step might lead? They were supposed to be friends, after all, she reminded herself.

It was a fact she had told herself many times since her release from the hospital two days ago. Most of her time had been spent at school, work or squeezing in a little time with Angel. Last night after the Scooby Meeting had ended, Angel brought her straight home. Giles had told them of the expected lull in demonic activity, a brief period of time when the demon worshippers were gathering strength before things started up again with a bang.

Despite the fact that Cordelia felt fine, Angel had wanted her to wait another night before they resumed their training sessions. Faith was not planning on taking over bodyguard duty until after midnight, so Cordy had convinced Angel to spend the evening inside the house with her instead of patrolling the perimeter.

He had given in to her plea for company only after she smiled and warned him of the potential dangers to her young psyche. “Bev is out,” she had explained that no one was home. “This is her Bingo Night. Or what used to be. She’s on a crusade now that the mayor has closed down the bingo hall. Pfft, somebody should tell him that Willy runs a demon bar.”

So they had ended up on the couch watching the Turner Classic Movie channel, a compromise between Cordelia’s choice of her favorite reality TV show and Angel’s discovery of a Charlton Heston flick. It had taken a while to get Angel to relax as he was in high-alert mode, but Cordy managed to convince him that he would hear something if one of the bad guys was breaking into the house.

A rush of warmth bloomed at the memory of curling up on the couch next to him and at the moment when Angel finally gave in to the urge to put his arm around her shoulder. How his eyes darkened to reveal an instant of longing that Cordelia could only begin to fully comprehend. All she knew was her own need to kiss him was overwhelming.

Angel moaned against her mouth as she palmed his face and pressed her lips against his, a throaty mix of pure want and defeat. He gave in to it long enough to make her melt inside, for the tingles of excitement to become an unbearable need to touch and be touched.

Somehow, she had ended up straddling his lap. Cordy could not recall exactly how she had gotten there. It just felt right to have him between her thighs. The thought caused a flash of heat that seemed ten times hotter against the cool night air, but she could not stop thinking about it.

Kisses, hot and hungry, lasted only minutes numbering far too few for either of them, but too inflammable to let continue. Cordelia let out a short gasp against his throat as his hands cupped the weight of her breasts through the thin barriers of her blouse and bra.

Lifting her head a fraction of an inch, Cordelia’s eyes flicked down to watch as his teasing thumbs brushed lightly across the cresting peaks. Then Angel’s dark head obliterated the view as he leaned in to rub his cheek against one hardened tip before sliding his lips across her flushed skin to the bounding pulse point at her throat.

Cordelia shifted her hips, leaning closer. She could feel him getting hard beneath her. With her boyfriends, she would normally be the one to put on the brakes when things got to this point, but Angel was not just another guy and she was far from wanting to stop.

He must’ve seen it in her eyes because he looked all smug and male for a second before dropping his head to the back of the couch, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around her. Cordelia tucked her head against Angel’s shoulder and tried to fight off the urge to protest. The soothing movements of his hands against her back tended to linger low on her spine; ineffective in curtailing the needy ache centered so close to its cure.

Cordelia shifted into an upright position propping her hands on his shoulders for support. Her bottom settled directly over Angel’s arousal causing him to buck upward in automatic reaction. His hands flew to her hips, holding her there as they both moaned in response, staring into each other’s eyes. Angel’s were full of unhidden desire, regret and guilt.

Deciding she was not going to let either of them regret anything that happened or let Angel start brooding about it, Cordelia pointed out, “Y’know, we’re missing the movie.” Not that she really cared about an old film that was not even in color. That just gave them an excuse to stop without mumbling apologies that neither one of them meant.

Moving back to his side, Cordelia deliberately reclaimed her previous spot, looking at Angel expectantly until he dropped his arm back around her shoulder. “Watch the movie,” she prompted when he kept looking at her instead. Someone needed to tell him to patent that smile.

Dragging her thoughts back to the present when Faith’s laughter filled her ears, Cordelia commented, “The only workout we have planned is a little Tai Chi. I’m supposed to be learning to center myself, to gain awareness of my surroundings and an understanding of body movement.”

“Uh huh.” The quirk of her brow suggested Faith had something else in mind.

Cordelia protested, “Does your mind always move in such skanky directions?”

“You bet,” Faith quipped.

They walked on passing the crossroads at Maple Court where The Magic Box, a creepy store Willow frequented, was located. Unlike Mrs. Finkle, the store offered late night hours. Cordelia was grateful that dear old Finkface liked to get home to her ten cats. The woman was a stickler for closing right on the dot.

Actually, she was a stickler for just about everything and had her eye on every employee, customer and item in her store. The dress shop was not exactly full of haute couture, but Cordelia liked being surrounded by pretty things even if she could no longer afford them.

“I had to stop Mrs Finkle from calling the cops on you,” Cordelia revealed with a laugh.

While Faith had been fulfilling her promise to Angel by keeping an eye on Cordy, Mrs Finkle’s overly suspicious nature had gone on full alert. She had gone as far as warning Cordelia to, “Watch out for that one.” Apparently, Faith was not the type who normally frequented the shop.

“Yeah, I believe it,” Faith shrugged. “Your boss-lady is a snob. She took one look at my boots and for a sec, I thought she was gonna faint.”

Cordelia glanced downward noting the slightly mud-encrusted edge of said boots. “Um, yeah, they’re very…sturdy; no doubt a good way to hide your hammertoes.”

Joking about the whole bodyguard situation, they kept the subject light despite its serious nature. After an interior sweep under Mrs. Finkle’s watchful eye, Faith had retreated to the perimeter of the building making frequent patrols of the area. Loitering nearby had not gone unnoticed.

“No offence, Cor, but guarding your ass is a bore,” Faith admitted.

“That’s fine and/or hot ass to you,” Cordelia corrected with a grin.

Faith played along, teasing her, “Angel thinks so.”

After a pause, “Does he?”

“You’ve got to be kidding. Do you really have to ask?”

Well, no, but Cordelia liked the confirmation. Though she had to wonder if Faith was just basing her observations on what she had witnessed at Shady Hill, or if it was obvious to everybody. Cordelia purposely had not done a lot of thinking about Buffy having pushed all thoughts of her to the back of her mind.

Only it was not that simple. Explaining things to Buffy seemed complicated. Not that she owed Buffy an explanation. It was just that they were friends of a sort. And Cordy had a thing about girls macking on other girl’s boyfriends.

Ex-boyfriend, Cordelia emphasized the point. “Whatever. I just want to be ready if this demon attacks me again. This is so not how I imagined the whole bodyguard scenario. That usually involves stardom and a limo.”

Complaining about the lack of action, Faith punched a fist into her open palm. “I hate waiting around. We ought to be doing something. Search this dude out and kick his ass. There’s too much going on in this town for someone not to know where to find him.”

“The usual snitches aren’t giving us anything,” Cordelia reminded that Buffy and Angel had already questioned Willy. “Nobody’s talking. Now we don’t even have the nightly disasters to clue us in to their evil schemes. Until the crap hits the fan again, things are dead around town.”

“Tell me about it,” muttered Faith who suddenly seemed to be in the mood to kill something. She kicked at an empty garbage can neatly upturned at the end of a driveway sending it flying onto the lawn.

Raising an eyebrow, Cordelia suggested, “Take it easy and save it for the demon. The only troublemaker out on the town tonight is probably Bev,” she added with a wry laugh as she told Faith about her grandmother’s plan to picket City Hall first thing in the morning. “She is out and about trying to drum up supporters from her bingo crowd.”

The subject did not seem to lighten Faith’s mood. “You should tell her to back off.”

Puzzled, Cordelia asked, “Why? It’s just a bunch of old ladies. The mayor isn’t gonna make a big deal about something like that.”

“No, he won’t make a big deal, Cor,” she agreed. “It’s politics. Guys like him just sweep things under the rug.”

Confident that Bev could handle it, Cordelia figured that her grandmother would have her bingo parlor open again by sunset tomorrow. “Mayor Wilkins won’t get away with it if Bev has her say. Just wait and see.”

As they turned north along the sidewalk on Crawford Street, Cordelia changed the subject. She had heard Faith talking about the mayor before, saying that he seemed like a nice guy. That she did not meet many nice guys that didn’t want something from her. So Cordy shrugged the whole thing off as Faith defending Mister Nice Guy.

It was easy to forget because the closer they got to the mansion the more her thoughts were focused on Angel. Slayers, mayors and grandmothers were not high on the priority list. For all of her intentions about getting some real training in, she could not help but wonder whether Angel would kiss her again, touch her in a way that left her wanting more.

Inwardly, Cordelia chided herself for wanting what she could not have. More like should not have. Angel was off-limits for so many reasons, the main ones being: cursed and vampire. Although the latter did not turn her off half as much as it should.

The front door swung open almost as soon as they had reached the steps to the mansion. Angel stood in the shadows of the doorframe, “I heard you coming,” he explained casually.

Faith cleared her throat and nudged Cordelia with her elbow. “Guess I’ll be taking off.”

“You could come in, too,” Angel invited, a little too awkwardly to be mistaken as completely genuine.

“Nah,” Faith declined the offer explaining, “I’ve gotta bolt. Gonna check out the Bronze. It’s been ages since I’ve hit the dance floor.”

Saying nothing, Cordelia just sent her a meaningful glare. Faith’s dimpled grin returned as she told them, “Have fun, you two. Since B gets day-watch, I’ll be at Bev’s by sunset tomorrow.”

A rumble of thunder sounded as Cordelia watched Faith jog down the pebbled drive, her dark brown hair bouncing around her shoulders. When her friend turned the corner out of sight, she let out a long breath she had not realized she was holding. Excited about the idea of being alone with Angel again, she felt a rush of nervous energy.

Not taking her eyes off of him, she heard the click-clack of her heels against the marble steps as she walked up to meet Angel. He was dressed for their training session in a black top and matching low-riding sweat pants, his pale skin starkly contrasting with his clothes.

“H-how was your day?” Angel’s tongue fumbled over the words as his eyes swept over her wind-swept hair before settling on her face.

Cordelia did not bother with a description of school or Mrs. Finkle’s suspicions. She stepped within arms length, still hugging her arms across her chest in effort to keep the cold out even though it was the last thing on her mind. “I missed you.”

For an instant, Angel’s body tensed, his eyes rapidly darkening until it seemed they would swallow her up. He reached out, his fingertips caressing her cheek with the barest touch before he dropped his arm back to his side. Cordelia felt a stab of disappointment hit when she realized no kiss was to follow.

A little confused, she stepped past him into the foyer as the breeze whooshed in through the open door. Angel looked out at the dense clouds, “The wind seems to be picking up. Smells like rain.”

Watching as Angel closed the door, shutting out the cold, Cordelia realized that she was not used to having to hint to be kissed. The guys she was used to were all mouths and hands. Though admittedly they were amateurs compared to Angel. A tiny little hello smooch would not have been rejected, or a long, hot welcome kiss for that matter.

Cordelia tossed the backpack that was slung over one shoulder onto the floor as she removed her jacket. “I see you’ve been practicing small talk,” she sounded a bit miffed. “Now that you’ve mastered the weather, maybe we can move on to more daring subjects— like your health, for instance.”

“Um,” Angel frowned looking ultra-serious as he reminded her he had no pulse.

Rosy lips fell open, “Oh, right, got me on that one.” Silence ticked between them for a few seconds. Cordelia Chase did not beg anyone for kisses, but she decided to give Angel a break. After all, his social skills were a little underdeveloped to the point of being almost non-existent.

Stepping close, she grabbed a handful of his cotton shirt and tugged him the rest of the way. Tilting her head up to meet his curious gaze, “Kiss me,” Cordy issued her little directive.

Angel’s brows lifted, mouth quirking at one corner. “I thought we were going to take things slow.”

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Cordelia remembered agreeing to that. After all, it had been her idea— sort of, but it had nothing to do with hello kisses. Angel did not wait for her to comment. His arms wound around her, reeling her closer so that her breasts pressed into his chest. Big hands slid across her silk blouse, one pressing between her shoulder blades, the other wandering up to claim a fistful of chestnut tresses.

Pliant lips covered hers, soft in their exploration, as cool as her wind-chilled skin. Cordelia’s lips parted beneath his. Her living breath warmed them both. Angel’s tongue dipped in gently, his mouth worshipping hers until she moaned into his.

The hands clutching at his sides slid beneath the cotton shirt he wore. Cordelia pressed her palms open wide spreading upward from the waistband of his sweats. Hard muscles rippled beneath her touch as she moved them up the smooth contours of Angel’s back. Clasping his shoulders, Cordelia tiptoed instinctively to press her belly closer still, a deep throb building within.

Angel ate at her mouth. He nipped gently at her lower lip, tongue licking at the soft inner flesh. The hand on her back slid down to cup her firm bottom, two long fingers pressing the material of her skirt into the cleft between her thighs where her rapidly dampening panties wedged against her, not moving, just holding her there.

She hooked one ankle around his calf, the heel of her shoe catching on his black sweats. Her short skirt edged higher. A whimper escaped her throat as the action brought her up against a hard ridge. Cordelia’s eyes flew open for a second as their lips parted, long enough to catch the steady, determined control masking Angel’s handsome face.

Cordelia pressed her flushed cheek into Angel’s shoulder, holding on as he rocked their bodies together once, twice and again. He shifted his hold, untangling them and Cordy’s legs felt like spaghetti as she stepped back. Angel let her go, but he looked as if he might snatch her back into his arms and forget all about the idea of going slowly.

Pfft, they seemed to have skipped a few steps along the slow route. Not that Cordelia minded. She had never felt so wanton before, so out of control. Angel’s touch was addictive. Though she did not consider herself a novice when it came to making out, his experience totally eclipsed hers. While that made her a little nervous, Angel was obviously just as affected by their kisses.

Kinda hard to hide the fact, she smirked inwardly as her gaze trailed southward. The visible tenting was a little more than Cordelia could handle, especially when Angel did not bother to try to hide it.

“Boy howdy!” Hazel eyes darted back up as a mischievous grin spread across her face. “I guess you do know how to say hello, after all.”

Amusement flitted over Angel’s face for a moment before settling back into that expression of controlled desire. Physical reactions aside, there was not any doubt in her mind that he wanted her, too. Under normal circumstances, Cordelia knew she would not hesitate to go all the way with him.

But these were not normal circumstances.

The reminder weakened her smiled. Cordelia sucked her lower lip into her mouth, catching it between her teeth. She looked away, her eyes darting around in effort to find something to say that was not, ‘I want to touch you now.’

“Great,” she muttered, turning and reaching down to snatch her backpack from the floor. “One little kiss and I’m a raving nymphomaniac.”

Straightening up, Cordelia noticed Angel rubbing a hand over his mouth. Her eyes narrowed and then widened dramatically as she realized he had overheard her little observation. “Maybe we should get to the Tai Chi stuff. I think I could use a little distraction.”

Angel reminded her, “Tai Chi is about focus and self-awareness,” his voice deeper than usual.

“Pretty self-aware at the moment,” Cordelia chimed. “Maybe we should skip to the ass-kicking part of my training.”

“You’re not ready to get rough and tumble.” Angel might not have intended his words to have a double meaning, but Cordy’s imagination had other ideas.

The room had not gone into total blackout the way it had the first time after Angel shut the door. Previously unnoticed, the glow of several candles brightened the semi-darkness of the foyer. The candlelight shone golden across Angel’s skin and deepened the shadows in the corners of the room. She glanced toward the end of the hall where a glimmer of light showed beneath the closed study door. “I need to change into my training clothes.”

Angel’s gaze flicked down to the backpack guessing, “The blue cling—,” when Cordelia’s amused snort cut him off.

“Eew, no,” she rolled her eyes. “Not the blue clingy one. As if I would actually wear that one again. It has meteor stains.” Adding on for good measure, “and that creepy demon touched it.”

All perfectly good reasons why that exercise outfit deserved to be burned in an eternal hellfire as far as Cordelia was concerned. “Can I change in there?” she pointed toward the study.

“Sure,” Angel answered and then quickly shut his mouth.

Cordelia paused in front of him, unable to resist commenting, “It’s the red one.”

She felt his eyes on her all the way down the hall, a notion Cordelia confirmed before opening the door. Tossing her hair over her shoulder, peeking back at him in the process she felt a burst of feminine pride as she realized he could not take his eyes off her.

If only that feeling wasn’t at war with her practical side that kept reminding her of Drusilla’s dark vision of the future. As the memories of that shared vision flashed through her mind’s eye, Cordelia shuddered.

 Scene 58

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