In the Dark. 10

Chapter 10

Lorne grinned down at Cordelia. “S’matter, sweets? Tequila not on the menu tonight?” Cordelia shuddered, ignoring Wesley’s chuckle.

“No, no, no. And more no. Been there, done that, upchucked bunches.”

“On my shoes.” Gunn muttered.

“Yes, and I said I’d get you a new pair.”

“They were vapor trainers, Barbs. You can’t afford ’em.”

“Neither can you.”

Gunn finally grinned at her. “Don’t sweat the small stuff….and compared to what we do, your ralphing on my shoes is small stuff. Forget it.”

Cordelia grinned back and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “I love you.”

“Back at ya. Can we be done with the Oprah moment now?”

Cordy laughed and looked back up at Lorne. “How ’bout a raspberry tea?” Lorne shook his head.

“Such a waste, Cordycakes, but you got it.” He sauntered off to the bar and Cordy grinned at Wesley and Gunn.

“Wow. We’re out on the town. For fun. No drowning of the sorrows, no Lifetime channel movie of the week drama, no angst….we’re just, for once, normal friends out for a drink, like normal people, in a normal place…” She trailed off as a green, scaly hand set her tea down in front of her on the table.

She looked up into the demon server’s one eye and smiled. “Thanks.” The server shuffled off, and Cordelia sighed. “Ok, not so normal.”

“Maybe its our normal.” Wesley’s voice was thoughtful. “Maybe people like us have a different normal than other people.”

“People like us?” Cordelia thought a moment. “You mean, all the other people wandering around who slay bad evil demons, have head-splitting inducing visions and have bloodsucking nonliving friends? People like that? ‘Cuz I kind of like thinking we’re in a minority here. Nine to five burbsville, that’s normal.”

Gunn snorted. “I’ll take this life, thanks.” Wesley glanced at him. “I will. Flexible schedule….casual Friday every freakin’ day…” their server set a new longneck down in front of Gunn; he sighed, staring at the scales stacked on its hand. “Ya meet lots of interesting people…and nonpeople.”

They all three sat there, drinking, lost in thought. Cordy trailed her fingertip listlessly around the rim of her glass. Looking at Wesley, she took in a deep breath. “So, Wes…how’s it going?”

Wesley paused, his hand gripping his drink halfway to his mouth. “Um…alright.” He looked at Cordy, then at Gunn. Gunn looked back, a little confused. “I suppose one could say I’m doing pretty well. Back in the saddle, so to speak.”

Cordy nodded, impatiently. “Yeah, great, whatever. The thing is….how’re we doing? The team?”

“Oh. Fine, I suppose. Business is a little down, but that’s only to be expected, what with the reorganization, and all.”

Gunn spoke up, “Yeah, and I personally think a downturn in demon happymaking is a good thing. Call me crazy, but a little break from snapping necks and being sprayed in goo….I’m tight with that.”

Cordy sighed. “Yeah, I just meant…..Angel. We doing ok with Angel? You both good with him?”

Wesley and Gunn exchanged glances. Wesley seemed to gather his thoughts before he spoke. “Yes, Cordelia, we’re fine. The transition has had its bumpy moments…his tendency to take control for example…but overall, I’m quite satisfied….”

“Satisfied…yeah, that’s it.” Cordelia broke in, lost in thought. “I’m satisfied. I mean, there was the thing, and I had the fear, and then there was the other thing, and the whole silence, and then that thing with the voice, that low one, ya know….” She trailed off and came back to the present, seeing Wesley and Gunn staring at her.

She smiled brightly. “Yeah, it’s good.”

Her friends looked at each other and seemed to reach some conclusion, nodding to each other. Gunn leaned forward. “Cordelia, you know we love you.”

“OK, yeah, I love you two, too.”

Wesley spoke up, “But we’re concerned that your anger with Angel….well….it has been a little distracting.”

“Yeah. I know.” She met each gaze. “It has been with me, too. Really distracting. Kind of….all involving, you might say.”

“We do say.” Cordy shot Gunn a disgruntled glance.

“Got it. I’m over it. I’m moving on.” She was quiet a moment. “It’s good.” Wesley smiled at her and Gunn leaned back in his chair, drawing a long pull of beer. “It’s just….does he seem different?”

“Angel?”

“Yes, Kojak, Angel. Does he seem a little different to you guys?”

Gunn thought a moment. “Well, he seems a little more…relaxed. He seems happy. But aren’t we supposed to ixnay the appyhay?”

Cordelia started. “Well, yeah, he can be, you know….oh, I love the rain happy, just not, why thank you, I’ll be glad to play hide the salami with you.happy.” Wesley grimaced.

“Well put, Cordelia. You’re almost ready for tea with the Queen.” Cordelia rolled her eyes and sat back, thinking.

“So…he’s in a better place, wouldn’t you both say?”

“Uh, news flash…we all are, Barbs.” Gunn raised his beer in a toast. “A better place in which we can buy cool beer instead of cheap beer.”

Cordy spotted Lorne chatting up a customer in the corner. Rising, she made vague ‘I’ll be right back’ motions with her hands as she walked to him.

“Well, no, can’t say that happiness waits just around the corner, pal, more like down the block, through the town, on the train, across the country, but hey, hang in there!” Lorne smacked the demon on the back and chortled, turning and grinning as Cordelia stepped to his side.

“Cordycakes! Light of my life, sea in my breeze, what can I do for you?”

Cordy shifted nervously from one foot to another. “Oh, you know. MOTS, Lorne. I just wanted….I have this teeny little thing….on my mind…kinda….hooookay……” She set her jaw and her brows drew together as she suddenly opened her mouth and belted out “Everybody run….Homecoming Queen’s got a gun…Everybody run….Hooommmmeecoming Queen’s got a gun….”

Her voice trailed off as she looked around, noting the appalled stares. “Hey, it’s a comedy classic. Cut me some slack.” She looked back at Lorne. “So?” Lorne stared at her a moment. “OK…the song is goofy….” He remained silent. She began to fidget. “And my singing isn’t great..ok…good….” she sighed. “I suck. I know.”

Lorne shook his head. “No, no, sweetie…well, yeah, but more to the point….YEAH.” He laughed and threw his head back. “It’s about time.”

“What?!!! What’s about time?” Cordelia waved her hands in the air. “Kinda a need to know basis here.”

“Yeah. What’s about time?” That low, quiet voice, there it was. Just behind and above her ear. Cordelia stilled, and slowly tilted her head back to look over her shoulder at Angel.

He grinned down at her. “Kinda funny. You singing a song about a homecoming queen. One with a gun yet.”

“Yeah, well, it was Sunnydale. What Can I say?”

Lorne chuckled. “Gotta mingle. You two crazy kids mingle, too.” His eyes met Angel’s over Cordy’s head. “Mingle away, the night is young.” Cordy’s gaze went back and forth between the two before Lorne walked away, whistling. Cordy looked back up at Angel.

“I think he wants us to mingle.” Angel said down to her, deadpan.

Cordy looked back at Lorne’s back as he walked away. What the hell was it about time for? She sighed, and motioned with her head for Angel to follow as she went back to the table.

“Angel.” Wesley’s signaled to the server and pointed at Angel. Gunn tipped back in his chair and sipped more at his beer. He looked at Angel for a moment.

“So, I hear you’re distracting Cordy.” Cordy choked on the sip of tea she had just taken and Angel leaned over and helpfully whacked her on the back. She glared at him and swatted his hand away.

“Really? I had no idea I had…distracted her.” Angel sat back in his seat and looked seriously at Cordelia.

“You know, with the Queen C, time has to heal the wounds. But she’s back.” Gunn grinned. “Long live the Queen.”

Cordelia sent him a withering glance and frantically tried to think of a way to change the subject. Wesley watched her a moment before speaking.

“So….Angel. Patrolling?”

“Yeah. Walked the docks and came by to see if you all were here. Kind of quiet lately.” He smiled slightly. “It’s kind of nice.”

“Hey, I’m on the same page.” Gunn grinned and clinked his beer against Angel’s. “Quiet and tame is good.”

Cordy played with the rim of her glass. Angel watched her quietly, drawing on his beer. Wesley and Gunn began telling Angel stories about Angel Investigations, the Lost Months.

“So then, Wesley jumps up all Lord of the Manor and begins wailin’ on this poor schmoo. I’m trying to not let my buggin’ eyes rest on his trophy wife’s massive cleavage, and Cordy…” Gunn let out a snort.

“Cordy finally loses it and stands up, telling everyone to shut the hell up and then she just marches over to Miss Clevage 2004 and yanks the icon right out of her purse. It was priceless. I thought Wesley was going to have a stroke.”

“Yes, well, Cordelia didn’t follow the plan.” Wesley muttered.

Angel grinned. “Does she ever?”

“Hey.” Cordelia managed a frown. “I can follow the plan plenty well, when it doesn’t involve my evening turning into a bad episode of Masterpiece Theatre.”

Wesley pretented to ignore that and continued on, “That was a good case, yes. It reminds me of….” He droned on and Cordelia listened halfheartedly. Angel was nodding and laughing along with Wes and Gunn, but he seemed a little fidgety. His knee kept brushing up against her leg. It was…..distracting. She started, sending him a look.

He wasn’t fidgety. He was flirting again. He suddenly looked at her and winked. She sat back, eyes wide, and looked at Wesley and Gunn to see if they had noticed. They hadn’t. She snuck a look back at Angel and he was once again looking at Wesley, nodding as Wesley talked.

Okay. She looked around and spotted Lorne, leaning against the bar. He was watching her. She looked at him, a question on her face and he grinned and waved.

Either she had something slipped into her tea causing some kind of funky dreamtrip, or…..she took in a breath. Or Angel was hunting. Angel was hunting her. She popped up from her seat and yanked at Angel’s arm. “Hey. I need to talk to you.”

All three men stopped talking and stared up at her. She ignored Wesley and Gunn. “C’mon. I need to talk to you now. About….” She glanced at the other two. “Um. “Filing. I need to speak to Angel about filing, because, it’s….um….” She looked at Angel, hoping for a save.

“It’s all filey?” Angel offered, helpfully. She glared at him and dragged him off, leaving Gunn looking confused, and Wesley looking thoughtful.

Cordy stalked through the crowd and down the back hall, stopping outside of the door to Lorne’s apartment. Turning around, she blew her hair out of her eyes and glared up at Angel. He grinned down at her.

“Look, muffin. I think there’s been a misunderstanding, here. What with the thing and all, and the, you know, the thing, and you kissing me….”

“It was mutual, Cordy.”

“Ok, but I was surprised…so really that doesn’t count as kissing you back. I was….taken aback.”

“Yeah. Taken aback for 5 minutes.”

“Shut up. I’m onto you. You want…..you want…..” She blew out a breath, exasperated. “Just what the hell do you want?”

Angel stared down at her for a long moment. “So so many things, Cordy. Right now I want to grab you up and hold you close and kiss you stupid, but I think that would make you mad. I want….” He paused, thinking.

“I want a lot, a fucking lot. And I’m going to get it. But it’s going to be mutual. You’re not going to be able to play that ‘I was taken by surprise’ card.” He leaned down so that his lips brushed against hers. “I want the whole package.”

She held still. He raised his head and smiled down at her. “I’m walking towards the light, Cordy. Deal with it.” And he turned and walked back to the club. Cordy leaned against the wall, stunned. Deal with it. Deal with…what? What did he want?

OK, she had the general picture of what he wanted, but….really….what did he want? She looked down at the floor, lost in thought. A pair of yellow patent leather shoes came into her view. She sighed.

“Hey, Lorne.” She looked up at his green, grinning face.

“Sweetiebabyhoneycookie, I hear your song without you singing a note. Loud and clear.”

“Yeah? Is the song you’re hearing called ‘what the hell is going on here because I am totally lost and confused’?”

“Cordy, they’re playing your song. Well, the song you’re heart’s singing but you’re not seeming to hear.” Cordy looked at him blankly. “It’s a little ditty called ‘c’mon, Angel, how about a little hot monkey love?’ I think it’s destined to be on your top ten list.”

“Are you crazy? I can’t….we don’t…..” She broke off. “He doesn’t…”

“Yeah, he does. He does really really mucho.”

“We can’t. I’m mad at him.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Oh for gods sake. We can’t. The curse. The not making with the happy thing. How fun would that be? Do I look like a character from some fifties soap? Oh jeeze.” She covered her face with her hands. Tears filled her eyes. “Oh jeeze.” Lorne patted her back softly. “Oh jeeze.”

“Yeah, I got that one, poopsie. You know, I think you better go to the source for this one. Something tells me this is a situation best sorted out in the 1st and 2nd person, leaving the 3rd person out altogether.” He leaned over to kiss Cordy’s forehead. “Don’t fret, Cordelia Gertrude Chase.”

Cordy buried her face against his shoulder, giggling through the tears. “Gertrude?”

“Yeah, I figure the ‘rents that tortured you with ‘Cordelia’ followed it up appropriately.”

Cordy wiped her tears away, smiling up at him. “What’s wrong with Cordelia?”

“Oh, bonbon, if only we had time to answer that.”

Cordy swatted Lorne on the arm and took in a deep breath. “OK. I wanna go home. Tell the guys I left, but give me a few minutes, ok? I don’t want company. From any of them.” She looked at him. “Any of them at all. I need to think.”

“Princess, you got it. Anything at all.” Lorne’s voice turned serious. “Anything, Cordelia Chase. You’re a special girl. I’d do anything for you.”

“Oh, Lorne. Marry me.”

Lorne laughed and backed away, hands in the air. “No. Numero uno, don’t want to burden you. Once you go green, nothing’s as keen.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “And B, C, and 4, you are so taken you’re never coming back. Even if you don’t know it yet.”

Cordelia held his gaze and nodded, walking to the back door and leaving to go home alone.

Lorne stared at the closed door a moment and shook his head. Better get the popcorn; the show was about to start.

Part 11

PS: The song Cordy sang is Julie Brown’s Homecoming Queen’s got a Gun. I don’t mean to offend anyone; I know every school idiot seems to be toting heat lately and I certainly don’t want to be dismissive of that, but this song, written in the ’80’s, is a stitch.

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