The meeting room was bigger then Lilah’s whole apartment.
Cleaner too, Lilah mused, as she ran a well manicured finger along the arm of a leather bound chair, sitting at the head of the table and overlooking forty pairs of sleepy eyes stared at her from down the room.
She still wasn’t entirely used to this newfound position of power, although you wouldn’t think that to look at her. The people gathered around the meeting room looked up to Lilah with respective degrees of fear and awe and admiration, so much so that when Lilah Morgan had stamped, and screamed, and demanded an emergency debriefing at two o’clock in the morning, representatives from every department in Wolfram and Hart came running to her aid.
To the right of her peripheral vision, Lilah could see Gavin Park leaning confidently in his chair as he scrutinised her with his typical ‘Dr Spock’-like enthusiasm. Beside him, an attractive brunette in a too-tight blouse sat scribbling notes and taking the minutes of the meeting.
Lilah eyed this woman, critically. Was this her new secretary? Yesterday, the last one she had decided to quit her job, or maybe she was fired or something. Possibly even eaten, Lilah wasn’t sure – she hadn’t gotten round to reading that particular memo yet.
Anyway, whatever had happened to the poor girl, Lilah decided she liked her better then the new one. The New Girl didn’t look nearly as intimidated as she should have been, and Lilah made a mental note to rectify that situation as soon as her schedule would allow it.
Addressing the room, Lilah leaned back in her chair and steepled her fingers.
“Is everybody here?” Lilah asked, demurely.
Cordelia Chase didn’t bother knocking on Angel’s bedroom door anymore.
Of course, when you’re working with a 240-something year old eunuch, there is little room in your working relationship for innuendo or sexual farce, so why bother with knocking?
As far as Cordelia was concerned, it wasted valuable time when she could be doing something important like arguing with Angel, or manipulating him into giving her money. And why shouldn’t she just barge in?
She and Angel had no secrets with each other, and with him being the King of the Castrated, it’s not like she could catch him doing anything embarrassing.
Well, except for tonight, it seemed.
She had walked straight into his bedroom with every intention of talking to Angel – she wanted to know why he was acting so weird. In fact, everyone was starting to get a little curious as to why he hadn’t come downstairs all day, even Gunn, who was permanently glued to his Gameboy, was vaguely interested.
And yet, Cordelia hadn’t expected to see… that.
Angel was sprawled on his bed clad, quite uncharacteristically, in something that wasn’t black. He was wearing dark blue drawstring pants, something he usually only wore for training or working out. He was bare foot, and bare chested, and dosing quite happily in the early evening, a time when most vampires would be pacing back and forth with anticipation.
But that wasn’t embarrassing in and of itself.
The embarrassing part was the fact that Angel lay with his son snoozing gently on his chest, surrounded in a sea of cuddly toys and baby entertainment equipment. It looked like a Beanie Baby massacre – the French Revolution of stuffed animals.
Amongst the precariously scattered toys all over the floor, a musical night light softly played a lullaby, whilst projecting colourful images of stars, and clouds, and flowers on the ceiling of Angel’s poe-faced apartment.
Cordelia smiled and started gathering up the toys, figuring that the boys must have been through a very difficult and traumatic day of nonstop playing. No wonder they were pooped.
Tucking a teddy bear under one of Angel’s bare arms, she scooped up Connor with every intention of placing him down in his crib. He gristled for a moment, annoyed at being disturbed from his comfortable position of drooling on his father’s left nipple, but quickly settled in his new upright position against Cordelia’s warmer and softer chest.
But on the bed Angel wasn’t so compromising, he grumbled in his sleep and pulled the helpless teddy bear into a death-like hug against his chest. Cordelia smiled.
“Pfft. Scourge of Europe, my ass.”
Lilah paused mid-sentence to stare at the contents of her coffee mug with morbid fascination. The coffee used to taste better than this, didn’t it?
“Anyway…” she continued, “…it’s quite obvious from his behaviour over the past few years that Angel cares strongly for his seer.”
She paused again to make sure everybody got a copy of the glossy photographs she had been passing around the room. The men of the office, upon seeing the photographs, were instantly awake and inspecting them with great enthusiasm – even Gavin, who had a thinly disguised disinterest in everything, unconsciously licked his lips.
But then, Cordelia Chase had that effect on men. Lilah rolled her eyes.
“You should all already be aware of Miss Chase’s statistics, she has known Angel for many years now. A written copy of her profile will be passed around before the end of the meeting.”
“The only reason no one here has tried to use Angel’s own feelings for the seer against him is because of the “Buffy Clause”, excuse the phrasing. With that clause now removed, if we can manipulate those emotions and drive him to distraction, not only should we be able to snatch that miracle child of his, but we stand a good chance of getting him to lose his soul.”
Lilah leaned triumphantly back in her chair, and awaited for the onslaught of questions and comments to begin. Not unexpectedly, the first of which came from Gavin, who regarded her with a skeptical eye.
Clearing his throat, his raised his voice and straightened his posture in an attempt to gain the attention of the entire room.
“You’re forgetting one thing Lilah – we’ve tried similar tactics with Darla before. Angel managed to smoke us out.”
“‘We’? There was no ‘we’, Gavin – you weren’t even there. In point of fact, this really isn’t your area of expertise. If Angel Investigations gets a termite infestation, I promise I’ll page you.” Gavin’s eyes frosted over with annoyance, but Lilah chose to ignore it. She addressed the rest of the room.
“I can guarantee that using the seer should prove much more effective than using Darla. Angel has to work alongside Miss Chase every single day – there will be no escape. It could push him completely over the edge.”
Beside Gavin, the New Girl looked up with vague interest, before she carelessly tossed the notes she was writing onto the meeting table in front of her, causing a noise that drew the entire focus of the room away from Lilah.
“Miss Morgan is right.” She said, speaking for the first time. The young woman pulled her shoulders back, subtly sticking out her chest, “Think about it as The Garden of Eden; it’s the equivalent of taking the apple and forcing it down Adam’s throat.”
Lilah stared at her with disbelief, and crossed her arms. Suddenly she had a vague recollection of seeing this girl from somewhere before, but she wasn’t quite sure from what department. Such a memory lapse was unusual for Lilah, because she liked to keep track of all the people that really annoyed her.
“It’s smart.” The girl concluded.
Lilah nodded, “Yes it is. And your name is…?”
“You can call me Eve.”
“Eve? How appropriate. Say, do you think you can put a lid on those Garden of Eden metaphors long enough to get me a cup of decent coffee?” Eve looked at her, incredulous, “And here’s a little tip – you grind it from beans, not from crap.”
“No sugar in mine.” Gavin added, unhelpfully.
“Everybody else, get to work – I want to hear some decent ideas before the end of the night. And Gavin, why are you still here?”
Connor slept peacefully, Angel – less so.
As Cordelia finally cleared away the last of the toys, she paused momentarily to rub her palms on her jeans, not so much to clear her hands of dirt, but more symbolic of all the hard work she had just endured, cleaning up more of Angel’s mess.
She smiled as she saw the vampire was still lying on the bed, but without the soothing lullaby music he had fitfully rolled onto his stomach and crushed the poor, defenseless teddy bear with his weight. Sleepily, he half-growled at some figment of his imagination in his dream, and Cordelia absently wondered what it was vampires dreamt about.
From the lazy way he was behaving, Angel kind of reminded Cordelia of a cat. She toyed briefly of the idea off waking him up and telling him so, but decided against it. A cranky vampire was never fun.
Instead, Cordy settled for playfully scratching Angel behind his ear, silently giggling at the low growl response she got for her efforts.
Cordelia pulled her hand back, and watched in amazement as the low growl continued for a few seconds, even after she had stopped teasing him.
“What is up with you today?” She whispered, “Do you have some sort of random ‘weird behaviour’ generator that you like to fire up every Tuesday or something? Just to keep things moving?”
By way of response, Angel half-growled, half-muffled-by-pillow something that sounded like her name. Cordelia watched in confusion as he growled again and stirred his hips, rocking against the mattress.
Whatever he was doing was obvious having the right effect in all the right places, because the growling slowed and was replaced by sharp intakes of unneeded breath, as Angel gyrated against the mattress.
Cordelia stood in shock – she shouldn’t be seeing this. This – this couldn’t be what it looked like, could it? She watched him move, slowly and snake-like, as some intangible person in the depths of his subconscious spurred him on.
It would probably be a good idea if she reached out and woke him up, before he did something embarrassing – or, well, evil and Angelusy – but Cordelia found herself oddly fascinated by the little grunts of effort he made, and by the way his tattoo rippled under the strained movements of his muscles.
No – she should wake him up. This wasn’t soft-core porn, goddammit! It wasn’t even a Discovery Channel documentary, this was Angel! Captain Castration!
Her Best Friend! She should either leave him to it and trust that Mr Mattress wasn’t able to give him a moment of true happiness, or face the music, bite the bullet, take a stand and embarrass the both of them by waking him up.
And so, Cordelia gave her bodily limbs their orders; to save her, and her family, from a brutal maybe-massacre by waking up Angel. Yet, her limbs still couldn’t seem to move. She couldn’t even tear her eyes away from Angel’s vivid movements on the bed.
She shook herself, realising it could take nothing less then a slap across the face and a cold shower to get her legs to start moving of their own accord.
“No,” she whispered to herself, “no more screwing around. This is serious. It’s wakey wakey time.”
But then, Angel did something completely unexpected.
He opened his eyes.