Fine Tuning. 2

Chapter 2

“Cordelia. Claiming is a sacred and ancient…..no. Ok. Cordelia. A bond forged in the passion of two hearts…..no. That sucked. Ok, ok, ok. Cordelia. Some, a lucky few, are among those who find something that….um…..rises above….transcends….climbs….ascends…..”

“Increases. Augments. Grows. Escalates.” Angel closed his eyes at Wesley’s amused voice. “Really, Angel, we can break out the thesaurus, if you think it would help.”

“Don’t you have someplace to be?” Angel looked at him, his gaze narrowed, as Wesley lounged in the doorway, arms folded across his chest. “Someone to annoy, or just plain piss off?”

“No, no, no. There’s no place I could be that would be nearly so…entertaining.” Wesley grinned. “Practicing to tell Cordelia?”

“Practicing what?” Angel groaned as Gunn strolled into the lobby. Perfect. Now, if only Lorne came in, his misery would be….

“Angelkins. Got a little job….” Lorne breezed in, his canary yellow suit momentarily blinding the three men. Angel often wondered if one day, merely the brightness of one of Lorne’s suits would be enough to dust him.

Lorne stopped, his gaze bouncing between Wesley and Gunn. “Am I interrupting some kind of confab?”

“Nope. Just watching Angel practice. He’s going to tell Cordelia all about what she’s signed on for tonight. Got any advice for him?”

Lorne looked over at Angel. “Yeah. Wear a cup.” Gunn and Wesley both laughed out loud and stopped as Angel glowered at them all and stalked over to sit on the sofa, resting his head against the back and closing his eyes.

“I am so screwed.”

Wesley nodded his head. “I believe I did warn you that you should be upfront…”

“Yeah. Got it. You told me so. Shut up.”

Wesley glanced at Gunn and leaned against the corner of the desk. “Angel, all you need to do is to be gentle and tactful. Cordelia is…resilient. This life has given her a certain, well, perspective that automatically precludes acceptance of certain…”

Gunn leaned over and smacked Wesley’s head. “What the dictionary is trying to say, Angel, is that Cordy’s going to be ok. She hangs with demons and all that, and this is going to be kinda a surprise, because you have no spine when it comes to her, but I think she’ll be cool.” Angel’s eyes opened and he glared at Gunn.

“I have plenty of spine. I’m the scourge of Europe. I’ve had six of you for breakfast and then took a break from that to quip at the Master before going out and leveling whole families before it was even noon, so don’t go there.”

Wesely looked at him blankly. “As resumes go, Angel, I’d leave all that off.”

Angel stared at him. “I am so screwed.”

“Yeah, we got that.” Lorne spoke, sitting opposite Angel. “Here’s what you do. Be nice today. Quit bugging her about moving in.” he raised a hand as Angel opened his mouth to speak.

“No, no, I mean it. You got bigger fish to fry right now, ‘licious, and you need to reach back into that big ol’ memory of yours and pull out Mr. Suave. Set up a little dinner for dos here, maybe out in the courtyard…”

“That’s it….” Wesley jumped up. “We still have that card for that caterer, the one…”

“With the possessed dog!” Gunn reached over and opened a desk drawer. “Got her card…..right……here!” He yanked it out triumphantly. Lorne took it, thinking a moment.

“OK. Here’s the plan We call and set up a little soiree ala Cordy, then we’ll vamoose for the evening and leave you two crazy kids alone so that, well, Cordy can beat the crap out of you, then you’ll apologize, grovel, beg forgiveness, and all will be well.” He grinned at Angel. “I’ll call….” He looked down at the card. “Um….Jacque. She’ll take care of everything.”

“I don’t eat.”

Lorne’s smile became a little forced. “Cordy does, Angel. Stay with me, here. You need to charm, wine, and dine her. Settle this little, tiny, huge thing that is, incidentally, affecting us all, and we can get back to kinda normal. Comprende?”

“Yeah. Got it.” Angel sighed. “I just want….I want this to be done. I want her here.” They were all quiet a moment. Finally, Gunn spoke, his voice resigned.

“Dead man walking.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re a gonner. You’re whipped. Prancin’ around here, tryin’ to make the Barbie happy like a puppydog. That is just sad. My heart breaks for men everywhere.”

Angel chuckled.. “You’re just jealous because this particular Barbie is all taken….” He grinned at Gunn. “And I’m getting some and you’re not.”

“Damn straight.” Gunn’s voice was a little disgruntled. “All the Barbies I ever saw on the toy shelves had friends. Cordy…..she hasn’t brought a single friend in here for us.”

“Ah, those would be the friends I hang with at my Visions Anonymous meetings.” Cordelia breezed into the office and set her huge tote bag down with a glance at Gunn. “Tell you what….right after I say ‘my name is Cordy and I have painful visions’ I’ll try to scope out some women for you.”

Lorne pocketed the business card and looked at her.

Gunn grinned, leaning back in his chair and resting his feet on her desk. “Thanks, Cordy. Every Ken needs a Barbie.”

Cordelia grinned back before looking over at Angel, who frowned a little when he saw the circles under her eyes. She wasn’t sleeping well. He could see that. That would change when he moved her into….

“What? Is there something on my face?” Cordy’s voice broke him out of his thoughts.

“No, no, no, nothing, you just look bad today.” He blanched as Gunn leaned over and thumped him on the head. Lorne shook his head sadly and turned to go.

“Oh yes. Suave.” And he was gone.

Cordy looked at Angel like he was something that she had stepped in. “Excuse me?”  with a murmured ‘excuse us’ Wesley hustled Gunn out the front door. Cordelia sighed and sat down at her desk, leaning back in her chair.

“Ya know, I can’t even get that worked up about it. I actually can see myself in a mirror, and this morning I was jealous of your gift of not being able to see your own reflection. I mean, Jeeze. Look at these…” she waved a hand at her face. “You could pack a weekend wardrobe in these bags.”

“You haven’t been, um, sleeping?”

“No, I’ve been, um, having marathon sex with my studmuffin boyfriend.” Cordelia grinned up at him. “Just not used to the whole, you know, rigor thing. No biggie. Just need to get a little shuteye tonight. Home early, sleep of the….tired people who have sex all the time….”

Angel grinned. “Studmuffin, huh?”

Cordy grinned back, shaking her head. “Men.”

Angel popped up suddenly. “Oh. You mean, go home…”

“Uh, yeah….to where I live. To, you know, sleep.”

“Oh. Because, I was thinking….I haven’t really wined and dined you, thought maybe I could, you know…” He thought a moment. His voice dropped. “You could maybe…stay over. Just for tonight.”

Cordelia looked across her desk at him. “Oh. Oh. Ok. I could do that.” She thought a moment. “Angel, it’s not that I want to be away…this is just….new. I want us to get it right. I think that means, you know….taking it slow.”

“Slow.”

“Well, slower.” She grinned. “C’mon, Big Guy. I do know you love quickies…” Angel grinned back. “…let’s take it….easy. Find our way together.”

He looked at her, feeling a tug at his center….a kind of pull of his soul. All his impatience at the slowness…all his annoyance with taking it easy….all disappeared with one word. Together. They could do this. Side by side.

“You’re right, Cordy. You are. Let’s have dinner tonight and talk about it.”

“Where are we going?”

He grinned at her. “It’ll be a surprise.”

***

Down below, across town and into the depths of a no longer used sewer tunnel, small, golden eyes glowed in the darkness, malevolent and beady in their intensity. Waves of cool soulless hate poured through the air, casually worn like a fine perfume.

“First thing….get a better place to stay. Maybe I should check into a hotel. A fine one. Just like the one my dear dear boy has.”

Part 3

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