Cordelia bypassed the questioning looks of her friends and headed up the stairs.
“Angel, I need some answers and they better not be as stupid as the Powers.”
Angel stared as the young woman strode over to sit across from him on the bed. Angel wasn’t surprised that she was still angry but he didn’t understand her reference to the Powers. “The Powers?”
Cordelia waved away his question. “I’ll get to them in a minute. I’ve some questions that you need to answer truthfully.”
Angel sat back in his chair. “I explained. I wasn’t lying.”
Again Cordelia waved away his words. “I know. My questions aren’t about why you chose to do such a destructive and insane thing.”
Cordelia took a deep breath. “You marked me as yours. How serious is that to you.”
Angel felt his stomach drop. He knew he should’ve lied about that. “Very.”
“That’s pretty vague. Does it mean my choices are gone- just how possessive do vampire’s get over what they consider theirs, does the so- called possession have any say in it? Are you going to kill any guy I decide to date?”
“You’re going to date? Who?” Angel was too shocked to even growl at that information.
“Why, so you can kill him?” Cordelia snapped.
Angel narrowed his eyes, studying the young woman. She wasn’t here to tell him she was starting to date again, but she was asking a serious question. “Vampire’s are very possessive demons, they don’t share, Cordelia. But, I wouldn’t ‘kill’ anybody you decided to ‘date’, I wouldn’t have to.” Angel said pointedly.
Cordelia stared at the vampire for a long moment. Cordelia shook her head blowing out a burst of air. She got up and started to pace. “The Powers want me to forgive you so as to not risk any more ‘beigey’ behavior on your part or some nonsense like that and you tell me that if I don’t you will beat up or at least scare to death anybody I date. What if I don’t want to forgive you or can’t. What if I don’t want to be your possession? What if I don’t love you anymore.”
Angel’s fingers tightened around the armrest, threatening to shatter the wood. Angel pushed down his growl and urge to just take Cordelia, forcing her to realize that she didn’t have a choice in the matter- she was his.
Cordelia stared at the vampire sensing the violence in the still form. “Would you make me?” She asked in a soft voice.
Angel tensed even more, scenting the fear that was growing in the young woman standing before him, the one he wanted to just grab and take. Angel gulped, hating the brief hesitation before his honest assurance. “I can’t make you love me if you don’t, Cordelia.” He said lowly.
“But, you could take me and lock me in a room, what did you say, keep me for yourself- BE Angelus,” she stood before the vampire.
Angel’s eyes locked on the hazel gaze that was searching his- for what he didn’t know. But Angel could see and feel Cordelia’s body radiating in tension and fear. A stake would be welcomed about now or a soulless state. Since, it looked liked he would get neither Angel took a deep breath and answered. “I could.”
Cordelia leaned a bit back, her frame slightly relaxing. “But you wouldn’t.”
Angel shifted puzzled by the change in the young woman’s demeanor. “No.”
“Why not, you could.”
Angel not only shifted again, he blinked not at all sure what he was scenting now from the young woman. It was a very welcomed and recognizable fragrance but not one expected or understood at this moment.
Angel shook his head trying to focus on the woman’s question not her scent. “I love you, Cordelia, forcing you wouldn’t get me what I need.”
Cordelia moved to sit cross-legged on the bed, her chin on her fist, studying the vampire. “But you want to.”
Angel stared at the young woman, taking a deep breath and then cursing as he did. The vampire was definitely getting whiffs of arousal from Cordelia. It was confusing and he needed to think. “Yes.”
“But you won’t.”
Angel grabbed onto the arms of the chair. This time he did hear the crack of the wood. He gulped rather than breathed. Angel wasn’t at all sure he would stay in the chair if he took in the air floating around the young woman.
The fear was losing the battle with arousal, leaving Angel very frustrated, confused and wondering about his sanity. “Cordelia, what’s going on? Do you want me to? I smell fear and a lot of desire. Since when did fear turn you on?”
“What?” Cordelia scooted back. “You can smell that?”
Angel shrugged lifting his finger to his nose. “Vampire”
“You were just talking about shampoo, lotion and such, not THAT. EWW. THAT’S an invasion of privacy or something, stop IT.”
Angel took a breath, thanking god for Cordelia’s unique rants they could always distract him. He was almost thinking logically again, almost, he didn’t want to get carried away in believing that he knew what the hell was going on with the young woman. “’THAT” is definitely not ‘EWW’ or something I can stop when it comes from you. You haven’t answered my question.”
“Hmmph. It’s not fear.” Cordelia scooted back on the bed cupping a pillow close.
“Oh, give me a break with you super vamp nose, would ya’.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “It’s not fear, stupid. It’s…You’re a vampire…No not that…. that’s actually kind of creepy. But the vamp instincts- strength, power, danger, violence that you could use to harm- you use to help and save- not even mentioning the over the top not average sexy vibe that comes with it- is kind of attractive.”
Cordelia slightly shivered, unconsciously licking at her lips. “It’s not just the leather coat and good looks that make all the damsels saved swoon, buster.”
“You still think I’m creepy.”
Cordelia blinked and shook her head at the hurt expression on the vampire’s face. Her shakes turned into sudden movement and wide eyes as Angel’s expression changed. Cordelia gulped scooting further back, her hand held out in front of her as the vampire and his gleeful sexy dangerous grin stalked onto the bed. “STOP” Cordelia yelled. “Don’t.”
Angel paused, the knowing grin still on his face. “Creepy, maybe, but you want me.” He reached out gripping a graceful firm denim-clad calf.
Cordelia stilled. “No, you wouldn’t use force, you wouldn’t have to. But, Angel, be warned, you use my weaknesses and feelings for you against me, without respecting my right to be angry or to say NO beforehand, I will be mad afterwards, no matter how pleasurable the act.”
Angel’s hand trailed off the leg to the bed. “How mad?”
Cordelia drew her legs away from the vampire up against her chest, her arms hugging at her knees. “Permanent unforgivable-type mad,” she vowed into the dark eyes.
Angel leaned further away from the young woman. “What do I need to do?”
“I don’t know, Angel.” Cordelia signed. “You did the unimaginable, but when you fired us, that was unimaginable….what are you going to do next to top yourself. Without a soul you wanted to take fun and blood to greater heights, outdoing yourself with each terror and kill, with a soul, will you do the same trying to break the trust more spectacularlly all in the name of good or for the sake of the one’s you love. How do I trust you?”
Angel clenched his fist tight to his side. “I…Cordelia, I want to be what you believe I can be, I will try, day by day to prove that, but I am what I am.”
“Angel, being a vampire doesn’t excuse or even really explain what you did. It wasn’t some ‘dark’ instinct you couldn’t control, you thought, planned and did it.” Cordelia gulped and brushed at the tears that were starting to fall.
“I really don’t know, Angel, I do want to know.” Cordelia looked at the vampire, her eyes closed involuntarily at the pain she saw reflected in his strong body suddenly so weak at her words. “Angel, please.” Cordelia knew then she was a goner and she hated it, but she had to reach out to him, he was fading away in front of her.
“Angel,” she grabbed his hand. “Know this, please. I do love you. But, I’m scared. But, no matter, it will be all right. I don’t hate you. I can be your friend… I do love you. …” Cordelia pulled away going back to her position against the backboard. She took a deep breath, wiping away her tears.
“Angel, I do need to tell you that I went to the Conduits.”
Cordelia waited until the vampire looked up at her before she continued. “I wanted to find out why I didn’t understand my visions-the one before I was kidnapped and the one of Angelus.” Cordelia brushed back her hair.“ Like you said, not really batting a thousand with the vision stuff lately and I was fairly certain that it didn’t have any thing to do whether I was ‘fucking’ or not, so I went.”
Angel winced at Cordelia’s use of his own harsh words. “And…”
Cordelia shrugged waving away his look of guilt. “Angel, the Angelus-words I’m not worried about, it’s the reason that they were said and who said them that’s the problem. Anyway, somehow I was supposed to figure out that my vision of me saying I loved you was a warning not to love you or at least not tell you.”
“The Powers warned you about loving me? They don’t want you to love me.” Angel felt as if he just got suckered punched after already being gutted. He blinked clinging to an earlier statement made. “You said they wanted you to forgive me.”
Cordelia shrugged. “I think it goes back to something Skip originally told me- the Powers aren’t real up on emotions and stuff, not much use for them and they think that emotions, love, gets in the way of the purpose of the mission. So, no love. But, then I guess they figured it was too late, so the vision of Angelus- only it wasn’t a warning of Angelus appearing but that you and Angelus were one in the same. Skip said it was to prepare me for the consequences of my choice. You know, sleep in the bed you had sex in and all that crap. The Powers and their whole ‘free-choice’ line is bullshit. They want me now to forgive you. Otherwise they say that I’ll be a whoa major-weakness, possibly push you to make decisions that would effect your role in the up coming apocalypse- for the worse.”
Angel stared trying to gather his thoughts, pushing aside the selfish thought of using the Powers wishes to convince Cordelia to love him.. “I…. Cordelia, I don’t want…I don’t want you to forgive me just because the Powers say too. I need you to mean it.”
Cordelia gave a soft smile. “I wouldn’t. And the Powers are wrong, you don’t need me to make the right choices, you have it in you- remember you do have the best heart of anyone I know.” Cordelia sighed and got off the bed. “Day by day, uh.”
Angel gulped, again at the change in Cordelia’s demeanor. “Yeah,” Angel watched the young woman go to the door, small tendrils of hope rekindled in his being. Angel scowled as he thought more about what Cordelia had said. “Up coming apocalypse?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Like they gave me any more useful information. Hmmph. Just know one’s coming, but hey, what’s new about that?”
Angel nodded. “You’re leaving?”
“I’m tired, haven’t slept yet. Good night, afternoon whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow. You should eat and get some sleep too.”
“I will.” Angel said rooting himself to the bed refusing to say anything more. He didn’t want to take the chance of ruining the soft smile on Cordelia’s face.
Cordelia nodded again, closing the door as she left.
Angel stared at the door. Cordelia still loved him, she was his friend, she said so and she was still worried about his well-being. Oh lord, Angel’s hope was jerking into tentative happiness. Tomorrow, first thing, Wesley needed to do the spell, just in case the real thing came as unexpected as the beginning.
Cordelia stretched, yawning as she got up. New day, new what? Cordelia rubbed her face heading for the shower. Her mind wasn’t necessarily more settled but she did know there were a couple things she had to do before she could concentrate on putting everything back to normal.
No. Shaking her head. Putting them back – better than normal. With determination, Cordelia got dressed and headed for the Hyperion.
“Hey,” Gunn sipped on his coffee as Cordelia came in.
“Hey.” Cordelia looked around. “Where’s Fred?”
“Still upstairs, this day was a big sleep in for everyone.” Gunn nodded to the clock showing the afternoon hour.
“Yeah, is she asleep…”
“Nay, just slow moving. Why?”
Cordelia shrugged. “Girl stuff,” she smiled.
“Oh,” Gunn shivered a little before going back to his coffee.
Fred opened the door. “Cordy? Do you want to use my shower? Is something wrong with the one in your apartment?”
Cordelia smiled. “No. I wanted to talk to you for a minute.”
Fred puzzled and opened the door wider allowing Cordelia to enter.
Cordelia sat in the chair twisting her fingers together. Fred sat on the bed watching Cordy’s nervous actions with interest. “Cordy?”
Cordelia chewed at her lip, glancing up at the other woman. “I meant it when I said that you’ve been a good friend.”
Fred scrunched up her brow. “I know.”
“I lied to you. I’m sorry.”
Fred scooted back on the bed leaning her back against the wall, taking a deep breath. She had been prepared to forget that small fact to keep the peace in the family, but she was actually very relieved that Cordelia brought it up. It kind of made her happy, even though the lie had upset her.
“I trusted you, both of you,” Fred blurted out. “Defended you to Wesley even.”
“I know, thank you.” Cordelia sighed. “I…” Cordelia brushed at her hair. “We thought we found a way. It was ours and Wesley would’ve…” Cordelia rubbed more at her forehead.
“He would’ve been right.” Fred said more calmly. Cordy had come to her and apologized. Fred would’ve let it go, but Cordy hadn’t. It kind of made Fred real happy.
Cordelia laughed softly. “Yeah. I am sorry, Fred. We’re friends and I lied, betrayed your trust in me by ignoring the potential dangers of what I was doing and I hope that you can accept my apology and forgive me.”
Fred smiled. “I can do that.” She jumped off the bed and hugged Cordelia.
“Fred,” surprised by the other woman’s easy acceptance.
“Pooh, Cordy, had you told me, I would’ve been on your side not Wesley’s. Anita’s checked out through the computer and Lorne.” Fred shrugged. “I would’ve been wrong too. Though, I wish you could’ve trusted me.”
Cordelia smiled. “I do and did. It was just that…” Cordelia leaned back a twinkle in her eyes. “It…well, it was kind of fun, sneaking around.” Cordelia scrunched up her nose as she jerked a shrug.
Fred smiled with a responding twinkle and shrug. “I can understand that.”
Angel left his room heading straight for Fred’s. He stepped back as Fred opened the door. “Angel, hi.”
“Hi,” Angel looked around the young woman into her room searching for the scent that had overcame him when woke up. He frowned and looked back down the hall, slowly moving towards the lobby.
“Cordy left, she wanted to go talk to Wesley.” Fred called after the vampire. Wow. She was getting good at this. Fred wondered though was it that she knew that the vampire was smelling or was it just that lost little boy look whenever he wanted Cordelia and she wasn’t around.
Fred studied the vampire. Hmm. She need to fine-tune her observations of human/demon behavior, reading beings was an essential talent for good detectives.
Angel turned. “Why?”
Fred shrugged. “Probably to apologize.”
Fred tsked at the vampire. “She apologized to me and then Charles, now she’s going to Wesley’s.”
“Why? She didn’t…..”
Fred stared at the vampire. “Cordy understands that your sneaking around could’ve been very dangerous to ALL of us, she’s apologizing for lying.”
Fred shook her head, gratified that the vampire had the decency to at least look a little guilty.
“Don’t bother, Angel. Cordelia explained that it was fun for you both to sneak around.”
“Right,” Angel said slowly and started to move to the stairs.
The vampire turned.
“Did you smell Cordelia in my room, or did you just want her to be in my room.”
“Uh.” Angel gulped.
“Reading people is important in the detective business. Now, I say you smelled Cordelia when you woke up, even though she left like an hour ago at least. But see, also, you do kind of look upset that she’s not her because you expected it, but then again you look like you want her to just pop around the corner, like a big nice surprise, so which is it, smell or expectation or want or anticipation. “
Angel turned looking at the eager cute brunette. “Which do you think?”
Fred shifted, tugging at her t-shirt. “I can’t decide, if it was multiple choice I’d say all of the above, but that’s…”
“Then you would be right.” Angel interrupted giving a slight smile as he headed down the stairs.
Fred bumped against the door. Wow. She had been right and not only that she had a 30 second super meaningful conversation with Angel about his love for Cordelia. Wow. Fred went back into her room to finish getting dressed.
“Hi, can I talk to you.”
“Of course.” Wesley opened the door wider for Cordelia.
“I’ll be quick. No more secrets.”
The young woman shook her head. “I’m not bitching. I know we were wrong, potentially VERY dangerously wrong, but no more secrets. Angel and I needed to know that you were working on a spell, it would’ve avoided a lot. By the way, great job on that.”
“Cordy, nothing ….”
“Wesley, a lot did happen. Angel realized that even without sex he could lose his soul, so he concocted a dim-witted plan to break us up. It almost worked, but he can be pretty stupid at times and I figured it out. But, if you had told us then it wouldn’t have happened. “ Cordelia held up her hand.
“And if we had told you about Anita’s you would’ve disapproved, yelled and worked even harder to find a solution. I know we were wrong too and I’m sorry.”
Wesley cocked his brow at the woman. “Are you okay? What did he do?” Gunn had been right, there had been something wrong with the vampire.
“I will be.” Cordelia gave a wide smile. “Do the spell quick would you. I don’t want to ever have to worry about Angelus without a soul again.” Cordelia leaned up to peck a kiss on her friend’s cheek. “Bye. I do love you and am very glad you’re back where you belong,” Cordelia trailed a soft caress over his jaw.
Wesley watched the young woman leave wondering about her use of the name Angelus. He shook his head; his hand going to the path on his cheek that Cordelia had left. Wesley smiled. He had been working back at Angel Investigation for awhile and it had been good but it hadn’t quite felt like home, until now.
Cordelia accepted him back totally which meant he was home for good.
“So, no more secrets….does that mean I’ll be invited to the next family dinner.” Lilah leaned up against the bedroom door.
“No, that means that this whatever it is – is REALLY over.” Wesley turned.
“Right.” Lilah swayed towards him.
Wesley grabbed at her out stretched hands. He quickly pulled her hand to his lips, placing a harsh kiss on her palm. “Yes.” He pushed her back. “No more. You are the embodiment of Wolfram & Hart; my family’s worst enemy….I will not betray them anymore. I…Lilah, you are amazing, but you also choose to have no conscience and I really don’t want that. Goodbye.”
“I don’t believe you, you’ll come back.”
“No. I won’t. Lilah, ours is not a relationship that is possible now if it ever really was. I’m not even sure what you want, if it’s sex- go to more bars or walk your fingers through the yellow pages. If you want a puppy dog to jump when you command, then get a puppy, if it’s unconditional love you want- then just get any pet- warm blooded would be the best for growth, if you want a real relationship get a conscience. Goodbye.“
Lilah straightened staring into his unwavering blue eyes. “You’re serious.”