In the Dark. 12

Chapter 12

The phone rang. And rang. And rang. It rang 27 times before it stopped. Cordy knew, because she counted. She sat on the sofa and stared at the cordless receiver laying on the coffee table and counted each ring. She didn’t answer it because the caller ID said Angel Investigations.

It had said that for each and every phone call all last night and all day into this afternoon. She had finally turned her answering machine off after hearing Angel asking her nicely to pick up…..telling her less nicely to pick up….telling her to pick up, dammit….and finally telling her to pick up or he’d be right over.

She had snatched the phone up, said she was fine, quit calling, she needed a break and hung the phone up before he could get a word in edgewise. Then she turned the answering machine off. And now she sat like some stupid girl….who was a seer….and was having conflicted thoughts about her friend/former boss/vampire who wanted to further their relationship.

Into the bedroom, apparently. She shook her head. Jerry Springer wouldn’t even buy into this one.

The phone began ringing again and she sighed, laying down and pulling a pillow over her head. No, no, no. Go away. She had to think. God please just let her think. Think about her life. Her freaky, wacky life. She heard the muffled ringing stop and she lowered the pillow, slowly reaching over to turn the ringer on the phone off.

Nothing like a little passive aggressive action to show ’em what’s what. That was her. Cordelia Chase, Queen C if you’re asking. Queen of the passive aggressive tango. She breathed deeply. That was so not her.

There wasn’t a passive bone in her body. She wasn’t passive when she asked for her first bra at the age of 8. She wasn’t passive when she was 15 and she told Derrick Watson that kissing him was like kissing a wet squeegee and to call her when he had improved. She wasn’t passive when she was 18 and more or less wormed her way into a job with Angel Investigations. She wasn’t passive when she dealt with Angel at all….till now.

Now she hid in her apartment with only Dennis for company and pretended that by not picking up the phone, she was avoiding dealing with the problem of What To Do When You Were Caught In Between Doing a Vampire and Being Celibate Girl Forever. Hmmmmm. What to do…what to do.

She had called Aurora, now at USC, hoping for clarity, but realized that sharing your Vampire dilemma with a girl whose biggest worry was discovering her true color palate before Spring Formal really wasn’t going to provide any kind of insight. Her life had taken some really strange turns, and she realized sadly that the pool of people she could turn to who would understand was really, really small.

A wading pool, actually.

So here she was, alone with a ghost, contemplating the hotness quotient of a souled Vampire and wondering what would happen during intercourse if Angelus appeared, or if she had a pesky vision.

Would that count as visionous interruptus? Was there anyone else on the planet who had this problem? Because she needed a little coffee chat with them. She needed to know….what to do. What to do if she was more than friends with Angel. What to do if she just closed her eyes and leaped.

She rose and wandered into the kitchen, absently thanking Dennis when a glass floated to her out of the cupboard. She filled it with water and wandered back into the living room. It would be nice to have some kind of template for organizing her life. But truth be told, her life was more beyond the edge than anyone she knew.

God. Torn up over Angel. Dorky, snarky, monochromatic Angel. He of the broody silences. King of solitude. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound but unable to share a single thought or feeling that wasn’t a command. She sighed. Maybe Derrick Watson had improved his kissing technique. And had grown past 5’3″. Maybe she should give him a call.

Because, a little corner of her mind mocked, that would the wrong number to be dialing. You want to dial it up, not down.

Yeah, Cordelia thought. Dial it up to what?

There was the question. Suppose she and Angel….hooked up. She grimaced. Dated? Courted? Pitched woo? She couldn’t think of the euphemism for a contained relationship with a two hundred year old vampire who was possibly bipolar and had a double personality thing going.

Suppose she and Angel got together. Was he just lonely? Desperate? Oh, please, she smacked her head. No one settled for Cordelia Chase. They hit the lottery just right if they got her attention. She giggled. Right. The lottery in hell, maybe.

Maybe Angel had glommed onto her because who the hell else would get him…would understand his life? Maybe she was convenient. She didn’t realize she had spoken aloud till a piece of paper floated down and rested on her knee. She picked it up. “Books not convenient” was scribbled on the scrap. She looked up.

“Dennis…what do you……oh…..” she frowned a bit. “The whole books thing wasn’t convenient…to me?” A large sofa pillow rose and smacked her on the head. “Um. OK. It wasn’t convenient to Angel?” she felt a soft whisper of caress against her cheek. “Well, yeah, that little incident took some planning and daring do. He just wanted to irritate me.” She sighed.

“And boy, did he. He just wanted me there…he wanted me….” Her voice trailed off as she remembered. She remembered feeling the determination in him. She remembered the way his eyes had held hers as he removed his shirt. And oh god…she remembered the way he felt stretched out over her, taunting her, teasing her into a frenzy.

He had wanted her that day, beyond just wanting a sheet tango. He had wanted something from her soul….she closed her eyes, remembering the begging husky voice….
You want to take my empty soul and fill it up…. you want to save me. C’mon, Cordy, save me.

Was that it? He wanted her for…..for her. Because she was Cordy and he was Angel and somehow he started writing Cordy hearts Angel in the little notebook in his mind and now….her eyes flew open. And now he was making it real. He didn’t want to get laid. He wanted her heart. She clapped a hand over her mouth. And ohgodhowdidithappen….she wanted his. His little, dried up, unbeating heart. OK, dead guy, but she could deal with that.

She looked down at the silent phone, lit up with “Angel Investigations” in the caller ID readout. The man had patience, she had to give him that. She took a breath and reached for the phone, hesitating before answering it.

“Hello.”

Silence.

“Um. Hey. Sorry. Didn’t think you were going to answer.”

“But you called anyway.”

“Yeah. Thought there was a chance…..” His voice trailed off. “So…what’s up?”

Cordelia grinned to herself. “Nothing. Hanging out. Chatting with Dennis.”

“Kind of a one-sided conversation, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, well, that’s the way I seem to like my men. Strong and silent.”

And she got a strong silence from the other end of the line.

“Angel? You there?”

“Yeah. Listen…” there was a pause. “Um. I want to apologize…”

Cordy sat back on the sofa. “Yeah? For what?”

“I’ve been a little….”

“Demented?”

“Um, I was going to say overbearing, but…”

“OK…I completely buy overbearing. So…you’ve been overbearing…..”

“Yeah. I just came to some realizations, and I think I may have come across too strong….”

“Noooooo….” Cordelia drawled out.

“Really. I know. I’ve been a lot. I saw a need in my life and I didn’t consider your feelings at all. I just….” He seemed to fumble for a moment. “I feel like I know what I want, and I just want it to happen.”

Cordelia was silent. This was good. Way better than she expected of him. He went on. “I think…..I think about you all the time. We’ve been through so much, Cordy…so much. I think our experiences…our life in the past…has….laid the groundwork for a future. I think we have a future. At least I want to try and see if maybe…..” His voice trailed off, unsure….a little lost. “Say something.”

Cordelia was silent, feeling a lump in her throat. This man…..this man, for having a nonfunctioning heart, had the best heart in the world. Her voice came out husky when she finally spoke.

“Angel. God. I…..I….I don’t know what to say. This is…this is new for us. I mean…shit.” She felt tears in her eyes. “I just assumed when I fell in love, it would be with someone who, you know, was studly and handsome and funny and rich. With a tight sixpack. I didn’t think about how great it would be….” She broke off.

“Cordy?” His voice was a whisper.

“How great it would be if I fell in love with a friend. Someone who was a FRIEND. I mean, how great is that?”

Angel was quiet for a moment. “I’m coming over.”

“No.” Cordelia thought a moment. “This is too fast. Too much. I want to do this right. I want to be sure….” She closed her eyes. “Ok. I know. Meet me at Patricios…you know, the Mexican food place with the little courtyard out back? Meet me there tonight and we’ll talk.” Angel was silent. “C’mon, Angel. Let’s do this right.”

“Alright. Patricio’s. 8:00 ok?”

She smiled softly. “Perfect.”

“Cordy…” She waited, holding her breath. “You’re not just my friend. You’re my best friend.”

Oh, jeeze, it would be hard to get up off the sofa if she completely melted into a puddle of goo. She muttered a goodbye and hung up, taking in a deep breath. Looking at the clock, she saw that it was 3:30. She rose and wandered into her bedroom, deep in thought. He’d called. And said just the right things.

He cared. He cared about her, not just for her.

She was his best friend. Oh god, how many women heard that? He was Angel, champion to the world, and he wanted her. She felt her heart racing as she paced impatiently across her room. Screw doing it right. Screw Patricio’s. Screw 8:00.

This was the real deal, and she didn’t want to wait any longer. She slipped her feet into her skeechers and trotted to the front door, snagging her car keys on the way. Turning to the empty room, she called out,

“It wasn’t convenient at all, Dennis. And I don’t think this will be, either. But I gotta know instead of just wondering.” And she was out the door.

***

35 minutes later, she was standing in the silent lobby of the Hyperion. The office lights were out and all was still. She looked at the stairs. The long flight of stairs. That went up. To a hallway. That led to his door. She slowly gripped the rail and climbed the stairs, her feet silent on the padded floor.

Up the stairs…down the hall. Outside the door. She paused, her hand on the knob. This was it. Go on in. So she did.

Angel’s suite was softly lit, and fresh clothes lay on the bed, ready to be put on. She paused, hearing the shower running in the bathroom. Oh jeeze, this was a little more than she had planned on. She sat down on the bed, thinking. Maybe she should go back downstairs and wait.

Because sitting here while he scrubbed up and then trotted out naked…..she frowned, seeing some index cards next to the phone with Angel’s scribble all over them. She picked them up and thumbed through them curiously.

‘Say hello. CONTRITE’ Cordy frowned. What the hell?

‘OVERBEARING. INCONSIDERATE. Pause for Cordy to get in her digs.’

‘IT’S YOUR FAULT. Try to sound sincere.’

‘do not push. Make her come to you.’

‘life experiences…common ground’

‘try to get a commitment for drinks tonight. Be charming. Agree to meeting….get to her place after. Get the invite.’

A slow rage had begun to build in Cordelia. Angel had used fucking CRIBNOTES? He had to remind himself to be contrite? TRY TO SOUND SINCERE? Fuck. Fuck a duck.

Oh, yeah, she had an invite for him. An invitation to go to hell. Fuming, she turned the card over. Suddenly, a red haze covered her vision as she read the back.

‘Make her think she’s in control. Drinks, charm, invite, and BINGO. She’s all mine.’ Followed by several doodles of Spongebob Squarepants.

Sonofabitch. Asshole. Bingo? She was a bingo? He had planned that conversation? His little off the cuff agreement to meet for drinks was planned? So he could get her home? So he could get the invite? So he could…..oh dammit.

She took in a deep breath, trying to keep herself from grabbing up a stake and dusting his pasty ass. But she wasn’t going to do that. She was in control. She didn’t just think it, Dracula, she knew it.

She glared at the bathroom door before rising, her mind made up. Carefully placing the cards back on the table by the phone, she thought a moment. She didn’t have much time.

***

Angel leaned into the warm spray of the shower, letting water sluice down his cool body. Tonight. Tonight, tonight, tonight. Suddenly his favorite word. Tonight, he’d have Cordy at his side, in his bed, under his body…..he frowned as his body stirred at the thought.

Okay, hold that thought. He grinned as he stepped out of the shower and toweled off. Not a problem. Cordelia had held all his thoughts for weeks now. He grinned into the empty mirror above the sink. Ah, the blank look of a man in want.

He walked out into his bedroom and towards the bed, frowning at the space where his clothes should be. Maybe he forgot to set them out.

He turned to his dresser and pulled a drawer open. Empty. As was the next drawer and the next and the next. He furiously yanked open the last drawer quickly and slammed it shut, turning to the closet. Pulling the door open, he stared into the empty space.

A couple of empty hangers were scattered on the floor, and there was one hanger hanging off the rod with a card taped to it. He frowned, pulling the card off. It was his phone call notes. Written across the back in black marker were the words ‘come and get ’em.’

Fuck. He was so screwed.

Part 13

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