Wavelengths. 10

Part 10

Unbidden it stirs
Unseen it flows from the heart
Rising from the soul

Now trapped by shadows
A flame flickering to life
Hope lighting the way

It burns through the cold
Leaving behind winter’s chill
Existing unnamed

Still unrecognized
Welling from the darkest depths
Unspoken but there

Called by many names
Soaring to heights unmeasured
Bolstered by dreams

Enlightened by pain
Out of the gloom of despair
Truth clouded no more

Destiny or chance
Bounding to its pinnacle
To be acknowledged

A heart reaching out
Offering tokens of trust
Seeking a return

Revelations lost and found
Speaking from the heart.

Love for the asking
Where desire burns brightly
Awaiting response

Entranced by the truth
As resounding echoes sound
Time for acceptance

To spurn or embrace
The heart’s most precious secret
Love everlasting.

Cordelia waved one final goodbye toward the crowd gathered on the Summers’ front porch. The actual farewells had been less mushy than she imagined.

Considering the shocking theory about Angel’s soul and the fact that Buffy happened to be in the same room at the time, she was a little surprised that there had been a goodbye from those two at all.

Buffy’s, “I’m happy for you Angel. Hope everything works out,” seemed understated and suspiciously final in Cordelia’s eyes. There had to be more to it than that. On the surface, it certainly didn’t sound like an invitation to a Slayer-Invisible Vampire boinkfest.

Nor did Angel’s response, “Thanks again for everything, Buffy. Just be careful.”

Where was the drama, the lovelorn angst at parting even for the short time it would take to get this straightened out? Maybe Angel was just focused on getting back to L.A. to find out what the old gypsy wrote in that letter, Cordelia figured.

Immediately after that cryptic little exchange, Angel practically shuffled them into the Plymouth, barely giving anyone time to scarf down dinner.

It amused Cordelia to see Gunn in the driver’s seat, a spot that Angel had given up without argument. Wes occupied the front passenger side and Fred sat in the middle. Cordelia was in the back on the opposite side of Connor’s car seat from Angel. Their hard-won spoils, the Trio’s invisibility ray with the Eye of Dakronn, remained tucked safely in the trunk.

It wasn’t until the car zipped past the Now Leaving Sunnydale signpost that Cordelia let out an audible sigh of relief. Naturally, Angel picked up on it. “Glad to be headed home?”

“God, yes,” Cordelia admitted without hesitation. “I’m gonna call ahead when we get closer and ask Dennis to run me a hot bubble bath.”

“You’re staying with me tonight,” Angel’s unyielding tone left no room for argument. The real impact came when Cordelia’s head started swimming with forbidden images of spooning up next to him, and Angel hastily made it clear, “With us. You’ve just gotten out of the hospital. It’s better to stick around where we can keep an eye on you.”

Then remembering she had her own room, Cordelia figured he was only trying to be sensible by suggesting that she stay at the Hyperion. Though, truthfully, Dennis watched over her just as well as any of her other friends could.

An exaggerated sigh escaped her lips, “I don’t know. Dennis’ special TLC is hard to beat.”

Glancing at the empty space where he sat, Cordelia pressed her lips together while waiting for Angel’s response. He had none. At least not one she could see or hear. Stoic silence tended to suggest she’d hit a nerve and that was just too irresistible to ignore.

“He always gets the water just the right temperature, adds in my favorite scented oil and bubbles,” Cordelia told him. “If Dennis wasn’t so corporeally challenged, I might have to keep him.”

Eavesdropping on the conversation, Fred turned to wink at Cordelia. “He’s kinda like your Beck and Call Guy,” she paraphrased a line from ‘Pretty Woman’.

“Besides, he’s great with a loofah,” Cordelia couldn’t resist that little admission, her smile beaming as she shared a feminine giggle with Fred.

Angel muttered just loud enough for her to hear, “Good thing for Dennis he’s already dead.”

If she didn’t know better, Cordelia would say Angel sounded jealous of the ghost. No doubt he was still in his overprotective mode. Cordelia reassured him that she’d be in good hands, albeit phantom ones,

“Dennis is a great roommate and takes good care of me and tucks me in nearly every night. He’s an experienced tucker-inner.”

“Cordelia,” the use of her full name was sign enough that he was determined to get his way, “you’re staying the night at the hotel. I’ll do the tucking in if you need it.”

“Well, I suppose it’s just the difference between having one invisible dead guy versus the other doing the tucking in,” she conceded with a shrug. Though being tucked into bed by Angel instead of her ghostly friend no longer seemed like an equally balanced proposition.

Angel’s dislike of that comparison was clear. A grumpy growl rumbled along with his words, “I think I can handle it.”

Having Angel back after believing that she’d lost him, Cordelia could not deny that the thought of spending a night away from him right now left her a little rattled. No matter her fun in teasing him about Dennis, she had no intention of going back to her apartment until all of this was cleared up.

“Good, because I’m staying until we find Madame Bozo and get you univiziblized.”

Wes corrected her from the front seat, “BO-sha. Madame Bosha, with an emphasis on the first syllable,” he sounded it out again for good measure.

Leaning forward, Cordelia ruffled his already messy hair. “Whatever, smarty-pants.”

“Aren’t you excited, Cordy?” asked Fred, grinning at her as she turned around to face her. “The gypsy’s letter, the soul theory, the whole invisible Angel thing?”

Fred’s bubbliness was cloyingly sweet as Cordelia realized that excitement was not a word she could associate with her feelings. Not that she could name them. “I’m still getting used to the fact that Angel’s not a pile of dust and Connor isn’t up for bid at a demon auction.”

“Really, you’re not excited about it?” Those big brown eyes slid toward Angel’s side of the car. Cordelia noted that Angel stayed silent as Fred went on about the reasons why Angel’s invisibility was such an interesting phenomenon, scientifically speaking. Lucky vampire; it was easy not to appear bored when you were invisible.

Cordelia later found herself laughing at Gunn’s description of Warren’s capture. “We swooped down on the van, Angel surfing on the hood of the car. Too bad I couldn’t see it. I bet he looked like Batman with that leather jacket flapping behind him like a cape.”

“Would that make you Robin driving the Batmobile?” sniggered Cordelia. “Bet you’d look good in tights.”

After a spasmodic coughing episode, Gunn hinted dangerously, “The Batmobile has an ejection seat,” sounding like he wished he had one.

“Tights aren’t so bad once you get used to them,” Angel piped up for the first time in ages. “They’re just snug.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Dork! Please tell me that’s you remembering the oh-so bad fashions of yesteryear and not you taking a scary interest in my lingerie drawer.”

Once again the peanut gallery chipped in. Wes lifted a closed hand to his mouth and cleared his throat while Fred giggled in the wake of Gunn’s, “She’s got you pegged, Bro.”

That led to five minutes of horrible jokes about demons getting into her underwear, which had Cordelia howling. Even Angel managed to get in a few good ones and the sound of his laughter made her yearn to see his face.

There was a possibility she would never see it again. Wes might be right about the magic rock. Exposing Angel to its power a second time might make him visible, but it might also strip his soul away. Better to have Invisible Angel around than Angelus… like way better.

Invisibility could be cool, Cordelia mused in attempt to convince herself of the fact. It would be easy to sneak up on the enemy in a fight. Easy to get into a movie theater, assuming he was alone and not dragging his visible pals along.

Not that Angel would stoop to sneaking in anyway. A: it was tacky; B: paying gave him the opportunity to grumble about going and about the ticket price.

The fun stuff would never occur to Angel. He was probably busy thinking about that little bonus revealed by the Eye, his permanent soul. Cordelia had kept Angel in a distinct ‘No Bone’ category in her mind for ages, probably as long as his return from Hell to Sunnydale and certainly as recently as their reunion in Los Angeles.

Not that her conscious thoughts and her bedtime fantasies always matched.

Cordelia had always categorized the dreams and stray thoughts as wanting what she could not have, just the temptation of forbidden fruit. After all, Angel was her best friend. They’d been through a lot together building back what they’d lost when he had ripped her feelings apart, deserted them for three months, and finally come back to them.

He wanted what they had before he got back in touch with his dark side, an easy-going friendship that had no strings attached.

Except that there were too many strings binding them, Cordelia admitted to herself. Despite her determination to shut Angel out, she couldn’t shut down her affections. The clothes he bought her should have infuriated her, but they didn’t.

She seized that moment to jumpstart their friendship again. It was the easy, selfish way, but she found that forgiving him was far more rewarding than maintaining her contempt.

Who could resist the way Angel hugged back, as if each hug was his first experience or the flash of those pearly teeth when one of those rare smiles appeared? Cordelia hoped she would have more than just the memory of those smiles. Not seeing Angel again would be more than strange, it would change everything.

For now, that invisibility and its side effects opened up a world of possibilities that Cordelia could no longer push out of her mind. Back at the house, what was that hot whisper in her ear all about? ‘Have some in mind?’ Duh! Cringing inwardly at how obvious that answer had to be, Cordelia remembered that she’d demonstrated that fact by practically feeling him up back at the hospital.

It had started out as an innocent exploration at the time, but the way his muscular thigh felt beneath her hand gave her other ideas. Cordelia still didn’t know what to make of that tiny kiss of gratitude back on Buffy’s front lawn. She could still feel it tingling like a ghostly sensation against her lips, almost like she had imagined it to begin with.

Was it bad to wonder what it would be like to feel those lips against hers for real? It was just a kiss for Connor’s sake, a quick thank you between friends.

Geez, Chase. He’s got a permanent soul for five minutes and you’re already planning to jump his bones. Pathetic, much?

Connor started to fuss and Cordelia gratefully let the baby distract her from her thoughts. She rummaged through the diaper bag until she found one of the bottles of formula Fred had fixed earlier in the day.

“Want to feed him?” she asked Angel who readily took the bottle from her hand.

The baby’s eyes tracked the bottle seeming to float in front of him. Cordelia let out a laugh as Connor latched onto the plastic nipple after Angel’s voice encouraged him to go for it. “He seems okay with the invisibility thing.”

Angel reminded her that his son also liked seeing his face in full vampire mode. “That is all that calms him down sometimes,” he added worriedly.

“Wes says we just need Madame Bubbalicious to confirm or dispute his theory. You might stay invisible and have a permanent soul, go back to the way you were, or…”

He filled in the pause, “Get lucky?”

“Optimistic, much? Two seconds with a permanent soul and you’re already thinking about sex?” That wasn’t exactly what he meant, but watching Cordelia’s irritation as she crossed her arms and glared in his direction made him wonder why she was so quick to bring up the subject. “You are such a guy, Angel.”

That only brought a grin to his face, one she couldn’t see. While lucky meant lucky in his mind, Cordelia obviously had latched on to some other meaning. For once, it was his chance to tease her a little. Angel pointed out, “Being simultaneously visible and having a permanent soul sounds lucky to me.”

Cordelia snorted, “Maybe I was giving you too much credit.”

“About being a guy? Or getting lucky?” It wasn’t often he got to see his seer squirm in her seat. Normally, the tactless brunette wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the subject of sex. Cordelia sat at an angle in the corner, trapped and staring as if he’d caught her at something.

“Pfft! Take your pick,” a careless shrug followed.

Angel’s predatory instincts tingled madly. He couldn’t let her little insult sit there. Proving that he wasn’t quite that clueless, Angel pounced back with a low whisper, “Luck has little to do with it, Cordy. It’s all about skill and timing.”

Heat bloomed in her cheeks, a sudden response that surprised him. He almost felt guilty about openly flirting with Cordelia with the others only a couple of feet away, but only almost. Wes, Fred and Gunn were too preoccupied discussing their meeting with Madame Bosha at the boardwalk and the possible contents of her letter to take notice.

Even Connor was innocently unaware of the tension his father just created, the baby continuing to chug down his formula at a healthy pace.

Getting an actual tongue-tied reaction out of Cordelia Chase was a noteworthy event. Speechlessness was only part of it. Cordelia’s pulse throbbed, beating a visible tune just under the flushed golden skin of her throat.

Her body shifted to rasp against her clothes, showing signs of arousal that his senses honed in on with unerring accuracy. Not that he’d purposefully tried to wind her up, but Angel felt the satisfaction just the same.

If it wasn’t for the crowded car, the baby between them and this blasted invisibility, Angel figured he’d like to show her exactly what he meant. Gently, of course, since she was still bruised. The thought made him study the deep yellowing discoloration marring her face, fury flaring inside him that resulted in an involuntary growl.

As if the sound acted like a bucket of ice water, Cordelia snapped out of it so quickly that Angel thought that he might have imagined her reaction. Her eyebrows arched over those hazel eyes, “Since when does doing it twice in the last hundred years make you the next Don Juan?”

Meaning Buffy and Darla, he assumed correctly. Obviously, Cordelia figured he had been celibate since his ensoulment back in 1898. Wrong. He’d never cared enough before Buffy to actually experience a moment of true bliss. The curse hadn’t been a factor, and certainly not with Darla.

The curse and it’s dangerous out-clause had nothing to do with sex, Angel had long since decided. It was about happiness, about forgetting who he was and why he had been cursed to begin with. He wondered, if that was the case, how he hadn’t lost his soul a hundred times by now.

There seemed enough opportunity. Moments alone with Cordelia, with the rest of the gang, with Connor. Little instances where he’d felt totally relaxed and happy. Was it just because even during those times a part of him was still consciously aware that he was a vampire? Unless his soul was already permanent.

When had it happened? Willow re-ensouled him during the Acathla incident. She might have tweaked the spell, but Angel doubted it. Angel’s memories of the hell dimension were sketchy, but he didn’t think it happened there. Events since that time suggested otherwise.

It all seemed to come back to that night with Darla when he could have cared less about the soul or his redemption. He just wanted to feel something other than the cold and thought she could give it to him. Strangely enough, she had and it came in the form of his epiphany.

Maybe, just maybe, there was more to it. Truthfully, Cordelia was his epiphany. The shock of it had knocked him off his feet; he felt the same emptiness when his soul had departed his body that first time, only it seemed to be happening in reverse. Angel was filled by it, warmed by it, and the haze of what he thought he wanted dropped away to reveal what he needed instead.

Angel had thought it was all of them: Cordelia, Wes and Gunn. Their friendship, the companionship that had developed and to some extent, that was true. The truth was that it was always about Cordelia; winning back her friendship, her loyalty, her trust.

She’d made it too damn easy for him, letting him back into her good graces. Angel realized that and his need to accept her forgiveness far outweighed his curiosity in finding out the reason for it.

“Earth to Angel, I can practically hear the cogs churning in that head of yours. What are you thinking?” Cordelia broke through his thoughts apparently realizing he had no intention of responding to her Don Juan comment. “Maybe Fred should’ve asked you about being excited.”

The possibilities of a permanent soul went beyond excitement, but it was a feeling that he couldn’t let himself acknowledge. Not now, not yet. “I’m reserving that for later,” he explained, “when I believe it’s true. When Lorne and Wes prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Angelus is no longer a threat to my friends.”

Cordelia’s hand fiddled with Connor’s tiny bootie-covered foot as she added, “To your family.”

“That’s right,” Angel stared at the two of them, his voice thick with emotion. Angelus was still a legitimate threat, especially to her. “Until then, I’m reserving any bursts of happiness.”


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