“Welcome back to earth.” Wesley came up to Angel.
“Yeah.” Glancing at Cordelia. The young woman hadn’t looked up from the ground since they disembarked from the Ferris wheel and poor kitty was going to need a new head soon, if Cordelia didn’t stop wringing the animal’s neck. Angel wished that they were back on top of the world, alone.
Being back to earth would likely become more complicated than he or his demon wanted to deal with right now. But he would have to. Cordelia’s feelings and insecurities came before anything else.
“Ready to blow this Popsicle stand.”
“Popsicles? Where?” Fred spun around, her armful of stuff animals turning with her.
Wesley put a hand out stopping the spinning girl. “Gunn simply meant are we ready to leave. Of course, if you want we’ll see if they have Popsicles.”
“Lord, girl how much food can you shove in to that pint size body of yours.”
“Are you saying I’m a pig?” Fred’s brow rose.
“Now, I’m sure Charles didn’t mean anything like that.” Wesley shot a disbelieving glare at the young black man. Gunn didn’t see it though; he was too busy blanching at Fred’s expression.
“Of course not, I…I’m just impressed, that all. Really.” Gunn said.
Angel ignored the two men’s bumbling attempts to get Fred’s eyebrows back to normal.
“Cordy, you do want to go home, don’t you?” Cordy still hadn’t said a word.
Cordy kicked at the trash on the ground. Angel was right- carnivals were dirty and crowded. If she got pushed once more she was going to scream.
“Cordy, do you want to go home, don’t you?” Angel repeated, gently touching her on the arm.
Startled, Cordelia looked up. Had Angel just asked her if she wanted to go home and have sex?
“What?” She managed to squeak out.
“Do you want to go home? We can stay if you want. Maybe go on more rides or something?” Please say no. Angel really wanted to get out of this crowded place and be alone with Cordelia. But he would do whatever she wanted. She just needed to tell him.
Cordelia bit her lip. Okay, she added the last part. Cordelia glanced up at Angel. His expression was patient, willing and wanting to please her. Cordelia started chewing on her lip. Except for his eyes, they weren’t patient at all. Okay, she hadn’t added the home equals sex part.
But he would accept her decision. What was her decision? Anticipation, fear, love and desire swirled around in her mind. “I want to go home.”
“Come on we’re leaving now.” Angel herded everyone to the exit.
“Fred, I’m sure Angel won’t mind stopping to get a Popsicle somewhere. Will you?” Wesley turned to Angel. His expression hopeful, pleading and demanding.
Angel ignored it all. “I mind.”
“Angel.” Wesley’s scowl almost matched the one on Angel’s face, but Angel had the advantage of being able to growl.
“Angel.” Cordelia raised her brows.
Angel stopped his growl. He still wasn’t sure what Cordelia wanted. The usually forthright and painfully honest young woman was hesitant and subdued. “We can stop. But Fred wouldn’t you rather just go home. We have ice cream there. You like ice cream, right?” Angel was still hoping for the best.
Fred’s eyes widen. “We’ve got rocky road don’t we. Ice Cream it is. Hey, let’s rent a movie, that’s will fun. Cordy, do want to see a movie, we could all watch a movie and have ice cream. I could make popcorn. I know how to make popcorn.”
“Fred, aren’t you tired. I’m sure everyone else is tired. I’m tired.” Angel said.
“Pooh, you’re a vampire, you don’t get tired. And I don’t want this night to end, it was so much fun.”
“I get tired.” Angel adamantly disagreed. But Angel did agree that he didn’t want the night to end, but he sure and hell didn’t want to spend it with the gang. Unless Cordelia did. “Cordy?” Angel knew he had to be alone with Cordelia, if for no other reason than to talk this all out, though he wanted, needed to finish what was started on the Ferris wheel. Angel glanced at Cordelia.
That’s if she wanted to, if she wanted to watch a movie than he would watch a movie.
“That’s a great idea Fred.” Gunn and Wesley said, ignoring Angel. Fred was smiling, her normal sunny disposition back. But neither man wanted to take a chance.
“I’m tired, too.” Cordelia managed to say over Gunn and Wesley’s enthusiastic agreement. Her anticipation and desire were rapidly overcoming her fear. The idea of spending two hours watching a movie with the gang was now what scared the hell out of her.
“Oh, Cordy, you don’t want to go back to the hotel and watch a movie with us?”
Cordelia did want to go back to the hotel, just not with everyone. And she didn’t see herself running up to Angel’s bedroom and holing herself up there, while the rest of the group was downstairs watching a stupid movie.
God forbid, actually being alone with Angel in his bedroom with everyone at the hotel.
“No. Angel you can just drop me off at my apartment, I guess.” She would much rather go home alone and throw things at the wall then watch a movie.
“I don’t want….okay.” Angel said.
“So, you’ll watch the movie with us?” Fred asked.
“Lets just go.” Angel pushed everyone out of the exit towards the car.
“Cordy, are you…” Fred leaned up to the front seat as Angel drove up to Cordelia’s apartment.
“NO.” Cordelia didn’t mean to slam the car door or maybe she did. Her anticipation and desire had quickly turned to frustration then to anger.
Angel turned off the engine. “I’ll be back. I just want to make sure Cordy gets to her door.”
“Since when has he needed to tell us that, the vamp barely lets Cordy cross the street alone.”
“Whatever, but it didn’t happen tonight. Angel must’ve screwed up again- bad. Cordelia would barely speak. She wouldn’t even look at Angel.” Gunn said.
“I’m afraid you’re right. They will never admit their feelings for each other if he keeps messing up.” Wesley said.
“I don’t think Cordy’s mad at Angel.” Fred watched the vampire disappear into the apartment complex after his seer. “Though, he does seem anxious and she was awful quiet. Maybe, I should go talk to her, maybe she needs a girlfriend to talk to. Cordelia said I’m her friend. Maybe…”
Wesley pulled Fred back down into the seat. “Fred, you are Cordy’s friend, but Angel is going up there now. Let’s give him a chance to try to make things better.”
“Yeah, they always make up. Movie and popcorn, remember?” Gunn said.
“Cordy.” Angel rushed up as the apartment door was about to close. Cordelia must have run.
“Don’t you have a hotel full of movie watchers to entertain?” Cordelia kept walking, the door remaining open. Finally, she turned her brow arched high.
Angel was actually very grateful to see it. Cordelia’s tense silence in the car had started to make him very nervous. She hadn’t even been able to look at him. Regardless of what Bob said right now the eyebrow thing was helping him regain his confidence.
Angel had been fearful that Cordelia had been changing her mind. That she was starting to have doubts. But she was mad. That was good. Angel began to wonder how good.
“A movie would be fun, you sure that you don’t want to join Wesley, Gunn, Fred and me. Popcorn, ice cream. Maybe, we can watch two.”
“YOU ARE NOT watching that movie with them.”
“I don’t see how I’ve much choice; they’re coming over. It would be impolite not to let them. It wouldn’t be very social and you want me to be social. Wasn’t that the whole point of tonight, for me to have fun and be social? Isn’t that what you wanted.”
“WHAT I WANT is to MAKE LOVE WITH YOU, you dumb ass.” Cordelia’s mouth dropped open as her face turned beet red. She couldn’t believe it. She had just yelled at the top of her lungs that she wanted to have sex with Angel. Cordelia hid her face. She was doomed and she was an idiot. “My neighbors, oh god.”
“Wesley, Gunn and Fred probably heard it too.”
Something in Angel’s tone made Cordelia’s head shoot up. “You son of a bitch.” Kitty went flying into the pleased smirk on Angel’s face.
“You’ll hurt kitty.” Angel cupped the stuff animal gently in his hands.
“You did that on purpose. When did you get to be such Mr. Funny guy? And give me back Kitty.”
Angel was in front of her in a flash of a second. “I’ll be back as soon as I drop the them off at the hotel. Please. I really want to make love to you too, may I?”
Cordelia wasn’t sure if Angel’s soft question referred to whether he could come back or whether he could make love to her. Though, it didn’t matter her answer was yes to both. Except. “What are you going to tell Wesley and them? You’re not going to tell them that are you? Please.”
Angel wanted to shout it as loud as Cordelia had. Only louder so all of LA could hear and know that he was in love with Cordelia and she loved him. But obviously, Cordelia didn’t want them to know or she would have demanded that they all take their movie and shove it.
“You don’t want them to know that we love each other?”
“Angel, I’m still getting use to it and…I just want tonight to be about us…we tell them and Wesley will be all with the soul questions, Gunn with his ‘oh mans’ and Fred jumping up and done screaming Kyerumption or whatever that stupid word is.”
“It’s a very nice word, very appropriate.”
Angel didn’t even care what that meant anymore. It was just adorable the way her nose would scrunch up whenever she said it. It made him want to kiss it. So, he did.
He leaned up taking Cordelia in his arms. “You’re still nervous.”
“Not as much, just a lot.”
Angel smiled. “I love you.” Angel captured her smile with his lips, gently pressing and teasing her mouth until it opened and accepted his tongue. His kiss became more persistent as Cordelia melted into his embrace. Her lips and tongue moving with his. With a groan, Angel finally released her. His eyes heavy with desire.
Cordelia licked at her lips. “I can kiss.”
Angel took a deep breath, to give him time to beat down his need to rip off all of Cordelia’s clothes and take her where she stood. “Yes, very well, too.” He couldn’t help it. He had to taste her again.
This time Cordy moaned as their mouths parted. “I better go. The sooner I go the sooner I come back.” Angel stood still his eyes fixed on her lips. He leaned in again. Cordelia pushed him back. “Go and hurry.”
With a frustrated nod, Angel turned.
“Angel.” Cordelia was back in his arms before he made it to the door.
Repetitive and blaring horn blasts finally forced Angel to release Cordelia. “Soon.” He was out the door before Cordelia could say another word.
“He was awful quiet.”
“High dosage Brood stuff. He must’ve not been able to square things with the princess.”
“Do you think someone should go talk to him.” Fred looked up the stairs.
“No, let him be. I imagine he is up there now trying to figure out how to make up with her.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Princess gets new clothes.”
“Maybe, but definitely a late night stalker.”
“Angel doesn’t know that we know, but he has a habit of going to check up on Cordelia. It started two years ago, when she was attacked by Vocah.”
“Vocah? Oh, I read about him in Cordy’s file. He’s the demon that gave her the everlasting visions. She has so much courage.”
“Been busy, haven’t ya.”
“I don’t like to be out of the loop. It helps with the clicks.”
“Very smart, Fred. Anyway, Angel’s nightly check ups seem to increase whenever Cordelia’s been in danger or when she’s mad at him.”
“Which is almost every friggin night.” Gunn shook his head.
“That’s sweet. Angel is so chivalrous.”
“He’s a damn nitwit. If Cordy ever found out, she’d have him for dust. Ready for that movie?”
“She doesn’t know?”
“Nay, that’s why it’s called stalking.”
Cordelia looked at all of the clothes strewn on her bed. “Dennis.” Cordelia tightened the towel around her body. Damn it where was that ghost? Why wouldn’t he come out and help her choose. “Dennis.”
A large sweatshirt and the accompanying bulky pants were flung on the top of the pile. “Are you nuts, I’m not wearing those. Angel is coming over. How about this?” Holding up a red silk camisole set. The sweat combo came flying up to her face.
“Dennis.” Cordelia knocked the shirt and pants down. “Angel and I….” She stared as her bedroom door slammed shut. “Oh. Nevermind. Maybe you should just stay in your wall tonight.” Cordelia winced as another door slammed.
Cordelia picked up the silk. It was…too much. Cordelia tossed the garment aside. Why was this so hard? What does a girl wear to make love to the man she loves who she never thought would love her when she was scared to death. The sweats were beginning to look better and better for her peace of mind.
Oh this was stupid. Angel would be over soon and she would still be in a towel. That might work. No, way too obvious. Errgh. Cordelia picked up a white lacey shift. White lace? Yuk. What possessed her to buy it? It was so not her. She tossed on it on the floor. Well, no decision was a decision.
Cordelia grabbed her favorite pair of cotton pajama pants and a sleeveless t-shirt, both worn down and soft from repeated wear. If she was going to make a fool of herself, she was going to be comfortable. Cordelia pulled her hair up into a makeshift ponytail. Make up or no make up? No. Comfort was a priority. Sexy didn’t seem to be possible right now.
Cordelia glanced at the clock. Crap. Cordelia quickly gathered up all of the rejected clothes and tossed them into her closet. Cordelia looked at her bed. Shit.
“Dennis did you change the sheets? Big pouter.” Cordelia said, as she got no response. She hurried and looked in the hamper. Dirty sheets. Whew. Cordelia was just glad that Dennis had done it before knowing that Angel was coming over. Okay, she took a shower, picked out…her favorite jammies with zip sex appeal. Maybe, she should go with the red silk.
Cordelia flopped on the bed, rubbing her palms into her eyes. It wasn’t the choice of an outfit that was making her frantic, she was just plain scared and nervous. Cordelia had been serious when she told Angel of her fear that she couldn’t do it. Cordelia knew that making love to Angel would cement their love, but it would also strip her of any self-protection that she had remaining towards the vampire. She was already vulnerable enough to his decisions and moods. Her life was already connected and centered on the vampire.
Could she also give him her heart and in doing so, give up herself. If she let herself love Angel, really love him; she would never be able to distance herself from the vampire. He would own her lock, stock and barrel.
She flung herself down on the bed. Angel would be there soon, expecting Cordelia to make love with him. Why shouldn’t he, she had pretty much told him that she loved him, yelled out that she wanted to make love to him. Oh god. Cordelia had no idea what to do. But she would have to decide something; she couldn’t put her or Angel through anymore of her indecisions and denials caused by fears and insecurities.
The rapid knocks on the door signaled that she had no more time to not make a decision. “Dennis.” Oh, stupid ghost. “Coming. Sorry,” Opening the door. “Dennis doesn’t seem to want to be helpful.” Cordelia shot a scowl over her shoulder to the empty air.
Angel just stared. His eyes took in every part of the young woman before him. The pants were tied falling low emphasizing the swell of her hips and the flatness of her belly, the female version of a muscle shirt hugged her full breast, one loose strap hung down, leaving a smooth shoulder bare. Soft tendrils of silk graced her neck and shoulders as dark hair escaped from the ponytail on top of her head. He took a deep breath. Angel had never seen Cordelia look so beautiful, cute and sexy. He finally found his voice.
“Can I come in?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes, looking to the floor and moving away resisting the urge to slam the door and run. “Duh, invite given a long time ago.” Cordelia refused to let the purpose of why Angel was here freak her out. Maybe if she just pretended it was like every other time that he came over, it would be okay.
Of course, every other time, she didn’t rush around like an idiot, worrying about taking a shower, what to wear or clean sheets. God. She had no idea what she was doing.
“I thought maybe Dennis revoked it.” Angel smiled slightly. He knew that the ghost was protective of Cordelia. And the vampire wouldn’t have blamed the ghost if he had tried to keep Angel away. Angel would have exorcised him, but Angel wouldn’t have blamed him.
“So. Everyone settled in to watch a movie?”
“Engrossed, didn’t even see me leave.”
Cordelia nodded and bit her lip. “Um, You want some blood or something?”
“Or something. Cordy?”, reaching and turning the young woman around to face him. True a back view of Cordelia was as enticing as the front, but Angel needed to see her eyes. Cordelia had avoided looking at him since her initial greeting.
“Angel.” Cordelia couldn’t keep the catch out of her voice.
“Trust me, please.” Caressing her soft cheeks down to the smoothness of her neck.
“I do.” Stepping back away from his touch.
“Cordy? What is it? It’s more than you just being nervous, you’re still scared.” Angel didn’t understand. He had only been gone for a short time. What had happened? Angel knew that articles would never be enough to figure Cordelia out. Maybe there was a book out there somewhere.
Cordelia turned away, fumbling and wringing her hands. When Angel wasn’t being dense, he really did know her. Cordelia felt coolness of his touch on her shoulders pulling her into his chest. She tensed, and then allowed herself to lean back into his embrace. “If we do this, it will change everything.” Her words soft.
“Everything is already changed. But if you don’t want to. I understand.”
“You don’t understand. Here I was thinking that you knew me so well.” Cordelia’s soft laugh coating the words with warmth.
“You’re right, as usual, but I want to. Help me. I love you.”
Cordelia briefly hugged his arms around her and then moved away turning to face him.
“I am scared. Not of you, not even of my….inexperience.” Cordelia blushed. She couldn’t help it.
“That’s not something to be embarrassed about.”
Cordelia shook her head. “It is- not that I haven’t been a ‘ho- just talking about it. But, I’ll get over it. No. I’m scared because making love will change everything- “
“-For me. Angel.” Cordelia bit her lips wondering how to put her fear into words wondering if she could even expose herself that much. Angel looked so lost. Now he was beginning to look scared. He deserved the truth. Cordelia just wasn’t sure how to explain. Where was her trademark blunt honesty when she so desperately needed it? “Angel…I…I am your seer, your friend-“
This time Angel didn’t interrupt. Cordelia was trying to tell him something. Something that just may change everything again. Angel didn’t want things to change. He wanted and needed Cordelia to love him, really love him. He also needed to listen.
Cordelia shook her head starting over. “Your life is my life. I have no other outside of your- our mission. I’ve accepted that. You have my life, I don’t know whether I can give you my heart.” Tears welled up as she saw the expression on Angel’s face.
Fear overcame Angel’s guilt. “You said you loved me.”
“I said probably.”
“You love me.” Angel’s fear became anger. For the briefest moment Cordelia saw the gold of the demon’s eyes. Angel calmed his demon, trying to understand. Cordelia did love him; he just didn’t understand that’s all.
Cordelia struggled with her tears. God, she really did love Angel. He was right. It was too late. Things had already changed. But, she wasn’t ready to concede. “I don’t know if I can.” Cordelia took a deep breath. “ I haven’t had the best track record with relationships, romantic or otherwise.”
“Cordy-“ Angel had to convince her; he wasn’t about to lose the feeling of being on top of the world. “I’m not Xander or anyone..”
“No. You are the one person that can already hurt me the most. I don’t know if I can give you anymore power over me.”
Power? Over Cordelia? Angel laughed. He couldn’t help it, even when Cordelia glared at him. He choked trying to stop. “Now who’s being clueless?” Angel started to laugh again.
“Angel.” Cordelia couldn’t believe that Angel had the gall to laugh at her. Here she was being heart wrenchingly honest sharing her fears and he was laughing.
“I’m sorry but it’s funny. Cordy…” Angel stopped laughing. He was smiling but his tone now serious. “Cordy. Think about what you said-your life is my life- well that works both ways- it always has and always will. And as for power- Cordelia you have the power over me, hell all of us. You are the heart of AI, but more importantly you are mine. You connect me to life. Without you I’m nothing but a demon. I can’t do this without you, not because of the visions, but because of you and who you are. You have the power to turn me into a blithering idiot. I went shopping for you. That’s power.”
“You only did that because I was mad.”
“Yeah, and I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand that you said I wasn’t your friend. I had to do something. You wouldn’t listen to me. You wouldn’t let me close. I had to do something to make you smile at me. To make you see that I needed you back. You didn’t see me giving Wesley or Gunn a new wardrobe.”
“You didn’t give away their clothes.”
“No. But I did hurt them, but it was YOU that I needed forgiveness from. I wanted it from them but I needed it from you. I stay up all night watching your apartment to make sure your safe, I jump through portals, I …”
“You what? You stalk me?”
Angel gulped, then glared. “And you make me gulp. Vampires aren’t supposed to gulp. No reason to. But because of you I’ve developed some sort of nervous habit.”
“I make you gulp?”
“Yeah, face it’ you control my conscious and unconscious actions- I have. If I have any power over you it’s minimal to what you have over me. My life is yours; my soul is yours and my dead heart, whatever that is worth. I don’t deserve you. And if that were the reason that you said you couldn’t love me, I would accept it. But not this, it’s just wrong.”
“It’s worth everything.” A smile started to creep over Cordelia’s face. There was something very heartwarming and convincing about Angel’s frantic pacing and ranting. Angel had said everything had already changed.
They had, but they also remained the same. Cordelia’s life would always be intertwined with Angel’s, just as his would be with hers. And obviously, they both had the power to hurt each other. Those things would remain whether Cordelia admitted her love or not.
Angel was right, it was pretty clueless of her to think otherwise. Denying her love and Angel’s now that she knew it existed wouldn’t give her any self-protection; it would just make them both miserable. And maybe just maybe now they would also have the power to bring each other real happiness.
“What is?” Angel stopped mid pace.
“Your dead heart, silly.”
“Silly? I’m silly?”
Cordelia nodded. “Not thinking I loved you. Silly.”
Angel gaped, then slammed his jaws shut. “Did I forget to mention that you also drive me insane.”
“It’s a gift.” Cordelia giggled. “Um, Angel can we make love now that you’ve gotten that all out of your system.” Lifting her eyes up.
“Insane.” Angel growled not even hesitating in his stride to pick up the giggling love of his life.