The man took off his overcoat and rested it on the hotel’s bed. He went over to the window, his hands caressing over a simple brass goblet.
He looked down to the brown envelope that lay next to the cup. He pulled out the pictures and spread them out on the table. Angelus or rather Angel with his new family. Soon. But first he had to rethink his plan.
He had been in Nicaragua when he first heard that Angelus was still alive. He had given up hope. The vampire had seemed to disappear off the map around the end of the 19th century. But he had seen her in that bar. The bitch hadn’t even recognized him. He guessed that she had killed and terrorized too many to remember one family she and Angelus had butchered on the outskirts of Yorkshire or the man that got away.
Truthfully, though he had almost missed her, a pregnant vampire wasn’t something that was suspected. But he had seen her true face as she killed the man from the bar. He had followed her to the shaman’s hut and waited. Before she died, she had told him where Angelus was. Her swelled belly hadn’t deterred him from the torture or the killing. A vampire giving life, what a joke. Not a joke more like an abomination.
Now here he was in LA. But his original plan of torture and death for Angelus didn’t seem to be enough. Not now. Not when he knew that Angelus was no longer a soulless demon. A soul for Angelus, that was even more of a farce than a pregnant vampire. No, the soul wouldn’t deter him but it would make reconsider the means to his goal.
He wanted Angelus to suffer and die. But this Angel- torture seemed too merciful for a vampire with a soul. He had watched the vampire for weeks and he had noticed. Angel cared about his new family, one in particular. He picked up a picture of Angel standing close to the young beautiful brunette.
They were concentrating on each other, oblivious to the environment around them and they were smiling. It was a private moment between the two. One that said it all. No. Angel wouldn’t die. He wanted the vampire with a soul to live forever knowing the agony of ultimate suffering.
Knowing that he couldn‘t save his true love. He wanted the vampire to suffer the same loss he had suffered daily for over two hundred years, starting the day after Angelus and Darla killed his one true love and the children that he adored.
“Bye Dennis.” Cordelia locked her front door. She hadn’t slept well and it had nothing to do with staying up most of the night hunting and killing the Vesta demon. She was still worried.
Angel hadn’t said anything more about her thoughtless statement. In fact, he didn’t even seem to be upset or mad. But Cordelia hated that she had said it. Some things were just better left unsaid. But leaving things unsaid had never been her strongest trait. No. It was talk first; think later.
Admittedly, a lot of the times they were things that needed to be said, but no one wanted to. So, Cordelia would. But not in this case. This case she could have hurt Angel. And that’s something she never wanted to do, unless he deserved it. Cordelia would have to make it up to Angel.
What do you do for a 248 yr old vampire with a soul? Cooking dinner was out. The waffles weren’t a big hit. Though, he didn’t seem to mind too much, but Angel wasn’t much of a food guy. And warming blood wasn’t special, Cordelia did that for him all the time and Angel didn’t like it when she tried to jazz it up some.
Man, it must be boring only to taste blood. She would hate it if she couldn’t enjoy peanut butter or ice cream. Okay food was out. Cordelia could buy him a new shirt- a non black one. But, honestly that would probably be more for her than him. Not that Angel didn’t look good in black. He did black better than Wesley. The movie character, not the friend.
Well, Angel did black better than either one of them. But Cordelia liked to see Angel in other colors. To her it was sign he was lightening up and not being so broody. Cordelia scrunched up her face. She couldn’t remember the last time he wore a black shirt. Did he wear one with the leather pants? Cordelia couldn’t remember.
Oddly, she couldn’t remember anything about Angel’s outfit that day except the leather pants. Cordelia shook her head. Eww. Her stomach was starting to feel funny. That had been happening a lot lately.
Whump. “Hello, excuse me, me on my side of the sidewalk.” Cordelia looked up at the person who bumped into her.
Whoa. The man was really, really good looking. She loved the coat. It wasn’t leather, but it was expensive and did nothing to hide the breadth of his broad, broad shoulders. “Sorry, I must have been daydreaming.” Her tone became appreciative as she smiled into the man’s blue eyes.
“No. It was all my fault. I was on the wrong side. I still can’t get use to which is the ‘right side of the road’ here. “ It was a stupid joke, but Cordelia laughed anyway. Men liked it when you laughed at their jokes.
“British?” Cordelia noted the man’s accent. It was slight but present.
“That obvious? I‘m trying to blend, failing uh.”
Cordelia shrugged. “Accents are nice.“ It was Wesley’s accent that had first attracted her to him in the first place. It sure wasn’t his overwhelming presence and confidence. Wesley had been somewhat of a dunce back in Sunnydale. And every once in awhile, Angel slipped back into his native brogue. Irish accents were nice. Cordelia shook her head, her hand unconsciously going to her belly.
What was wrong with her? She didn’t like that she was getting woozy. She took a deep breath. Cordelia smiled at the strange man. “Moving to the neighborhood?‘’ She nodded to the real estate section of the paper he was holding.
“My job brought me to Los Angeles. I have a weekend to find a place. Do you live here?” He pointed to her apartments.
“Yeah, but no vacancies. I only got mine because the previous tenants died. That’s how it is here. People stay until they die, sometimes longer.” Cordelia figured that’s what would happen to her. No castles for her or houses with white picket fences.
Eww. Who wanted a white picke fence? Cordelia wondered if she and Dennis would just hang out together in the apartment. That wouldn’t be too bad, though she would have to have first right to reject any new tenants. She wasn’t going to spend her ghostly existence with jerks. Maybe they could figure out a way to haunt the Hyperion.
That way Cordelia could still stay with Angel until he shansued and take care of him. She could do stuff like Dennis does for her now, she could clean, draw Angel’s bath. Nay, Dennis could clean, she hated to clean. Cordelia would stick to the bath drawing. She wondered if Angel even took baths. Her stomach was feeling funny again. She was probably getting an ulcer.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?’’ The man was looking strangely at her. Geez, there was a gorgeous man in front of her, talking to her and her mind was going all scatter brained over nonsensical stuff. She was obviously hanging around Fred too much. Cordelia smiled encouragingly at the man.
“I said my name is Randall Montgomery and would you like to go get some coffee and possibly tell me about some of these places.” He held out the paper and pointed to the ads circled in red.
Cordelia took the paper to stall for time rather than to look at it. Okay. It was daylight; they were in the open under the bright sun. He wasn’t a vampire. She checked his fingers. Not for a wedding band but for the Ring of Amara. Sure Angel said he destroyed the only one. But really who knew. Cordelia wondered how she could check to see if he had his heart cut out.
She stumbled and grabbed the man’s hand. Warm. Okay, she was going with her first assumption, not a vampire. Okay that left only one of the other thousands of demons. Cordelia wondered how she could get Wesley to check him out in the next 2 seconds. She couldn’t so she gambled. He really was good-looking.
And he had an accent, not Irish, but hey it’s not like Cordelia could be picky.
“Okay. There is a coffee shop around the corner. Just let me call my work and tell them I’ll be about an half hour late.” Cordelia smiled brightly. Angel wouldn’t even be up yet. She would only have to deal with Wesley.
“Hi. Fred. Is Wesley there?” Cordelia didn’t want to deal with Angel, but she did want him to know when to expect her just in case this gorgeous guy turned out to be a gorgeous evil gross demon. And well, Fred just might be a tad unreliable in delivering the message.
“Hi, Cordelia, how are you. When are coming in? Wasn’t the movie the other night great? I had so much fun. ‘Fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The first is never get involved in a land war in Asia’…Oh, sorry, I just get so excited. I loved that movie. Wesley is so handsome…Right, you want our Wesley. Wesley.”
Cordelia winced as Fred’s yell pierced her ear.
“Hi, Wes. I’m going to be about an half hour late. No, I’m fine. Just going to have coffee with a new friend. As in brand new.” Cordelia held her hand over the phone. “He’s like an older brother that’s wants to be my dad.” Cordelia shrugged rolling her eyes.
“Randall Montgomery, I literally just ran into him outside in the sun. He’s looking for an apartment. I’m helping. We’re just going around the corner to get coffee. It’s only for a half hour; you all can manage with out me until then. Of course, I’ll keep my cell phone on, I’m not Angel, Geez.”
Cordelia hung up. “Silly, uh. I’m the one that got him the job and he gets all older brother on me. Silly. Ready.” Cordelia beamed.
Randall returned her smile and nodded.
Wesley hung up the phone. A half hour wasn’t so bad, but a new friend. A new male friend. He glanced up at the stairs. Angel would want to know. But it was only for an half hour and Cordelia did deserve some sort of social life.
But then again, they hadn’t known about Wilson Christopher until it was too late. Wesley went up the stairs.
“What do you mean she has gone to have coffee with a new friend?” Angel growled.
Wesley winced. How could something so innocent sound so dangerous? It must be the growl Angel ad-libbed.
“Angel it’s just coffee, I’m sure everything is fine. Cordelia deserves a life outside of us. She’s a young vibrant woman. Of course she will meet men. And they all don’t have to be demons.” Wesley completely forgot his own concern in face of the vampire’s angry reaction. Really, this tendency of Angel to over react when it came to Cordelia was becoming quite frequent.
Angel glared. “Of course she is a vibrant beautiful young woman.”
Wesley started then stopped. Beautiful? Well, yes Cordelia was beautiful. Wesley shook his head. “Yes, well. Cordelia made a point to mention that she met this person in the sun. So he isn’t a vampire.”
“And that leaves how many other types of demons that can take human form, exactly?” Angel growled.
“Um. 1228. But that doesn’t mean this person is a demon. There are over 3 ½ million non-demon persons in LA. Some of them are un-doubtfully human males. The odds are in her favor.”
“Odds? Tell me Wesley what are the odds that Cordelia would be impregnated twice by demons, kidnapped countless times, suffered a demon induced vision coma, sucked…”
“Yes, I get you point. I’ll look up Randall Montgomery in the computer.”
Wesley winced at Angel’s biting tone.
Angel got dressed hurriedly. He couldn’t believe Wesley would just let Cordelia go out with some strange man. Angel shuddered.
Did Wesley have no concept of how important she was? And so what if this guy wasn’t a demon. Angel used to be a human male and he had seen a lot of them over the centuries, they weren’t necessarily safe either.
“I can’t seem to find him through the Department of Motor Vehicles. But all that means is that he doesn’t have a license.”
“Or that he is a demon that hasn’t gotten false papers. How long has it been? Why isn’t Gunn back yet?”
“He could be stuck in traffic or Cordelia has left him for dead because he interrupted her date.”
“Um, Angel it’s been 31 minutes.”
“Fred, I told you to tell when the thirty minutes were up.”
“Angel, don’t growl at her.”
“I’m sorry, Fred.” Angel turned and growled at Wesley. “Give me your phone. Now.”
Angel pushed at the cell phone. He paced as the phone rang. “Cordy, where are you?” Growling into the receiver as soon as she answered.
“Geez, Angel, I’m a minute late.” Cordelia walked into the hotel holding her phone up in one hand and waving her watch-clad wrist in the air.
Angel looked at the phone in his hand and then at Cordelia. Angel slammed the receiver down and strode towards her.
“What did I tell you about going out with strange men?”
“Hey Cordy, safe and sound. Told you.” Gunn came in the hotel. “Whoever the cat was he was sportin some hip wheels. That’s for sure.”
“It was a cool car wasn’t it- a classic Mercedes convertible.” Cordelia beamed.
“He gave you a ride? You got into a car with a strange man? Don’t tell me you invited him into your apartment?”
“Angel, you’re starting to piss me off. Cut with the over protective wiggin.” Cordelia and Angel stood glaring at each other.
Wesley, Gunn and Fred backed further away
“Um, I seem to have forgotten some….paperwork …yes paperwork that needs to be …found, yes. I think I’ll go into my office and look for it.” Wesley quickly went to his office door.
“Hold up, English. I’ll help. “ Gunn followed.
“Me, too.” Fred ran.
Sometimes it was just better not to be in the same room during Angel and Cordelia’s discussions. They could get loud.
“I told you…”
“You told be to believe the dream. Well, to find my ‘true love’ I have to at least date.”
“True love.” Angel yelled back. “You just met him, you nothing about him. I know nothing about him. What are you talking about?”
“Ah, I know enough. It was true love at first sight. We flew to Vegas in the 31 minutes and got married in a cheesy Elvis chapel. He wore velour and I wore sequins. Now I’m back to tell you that I am leaving to start my happily ever after.”
“You are NOT going anywhere. And you did NOT marry this guy.”
“Gee, duh. Man you are stupid sometimes. COFFEE, Angel, I went and had coffee with a perfectly normal guy.”
“I don’t know that. You don’t know that.”
“He wasn’t a vampire. No spikes or green skin. Now, I didn’t cut him to see the color of his blood, but I’m betting it was red.”
“I don’t know that. Wesley didn’t find anything on him in the DMV computers. He could be a demon.”
“He’s British- from England. Therefore, not a U.S. Citizen, therefore not licensed to drive in the State of California. He is a freelance reporter. He’s been published in National Geographic, Archeologist Digest and the Smithsonian. He has moved to LA, because he is considering working for the Times. I saw his passport; it was stamped from all over. He’s not married nor does he have any kids. He is 32 years old. He wants a dog, but as yet been able to stay in one place long enough. He was raised Presbyterian but hasn’t been to church since he was a kid. In the last election he voted Labor. He listens to U2, Ramones, and Elvis Costello and owns all the Beatles- LPs, not CDs. Is there anything else you need to know? Oh, yeah he likes dancing and long walks on the beach.”
Angel stood like a fish, his jaws opening and closing. “He told you all that?”
“He also likes to talk about himself, all men do. Well except you. You have to be pried open with a crow bar.” Cordelia stomped to her computer.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m searching his name. If he’s been published then it should come up in the magazines’ archives on line. I’m not stupid Angel.”
“I never said you were.” Angel tried to keep the whine out of his voice. He shuffled over to her desk and leaned over her shoulder. “I was just worried that’s all.” He said quietly.
“I know. It’s sweet- annoying and unnecessary- but sweet.” Cordelia patted the hand he had placed on her shoulder.
“There see. If he’s a demon then he’s a published demon.”
Angel scowled as a list of articles under Randall Montgomery scrolled down the screen. “Well, he could still be a demon. Demon’s can write, those with fingers anyway and some are assimilated.”
“Angel.” Cordelia swung around in her chair. Her hands captured his face that was still looking down. “I don’t even know if he will call me. I’ve not had real luck on second dates. You can’t even classify a 30 minute coffee between strangers as a date.”
“Angel. Why don’t we just deal with it when the blue moon rises, okay.” She spoke slowly and clearly, her hands forcing his head up and down in a nod.
“Okay. But if he calls. I’m meeting him.”
Cordelia dropped her hands and swung around. “Sure, dad.”
Angel grabbed her chair and swung it back around his hands braced on the arms, imprisoning Cordelia. He leaned in close. “I am not your father.” He said slowly and clearly.
Cordelia stared. Her stomach felt weird again. She was going to have to go to the doctors. The swishy feeling in her belly was becoming a regular thing. “I know.”
Angel nodded and stepped back. Cordelia swung quickly back around. Angel just stared at the back of her head. Why did he feel like he just did something stupid and potentially dangerous? Why was it so important that Cordelia didn’t think of him as a father figure?
She was driving him crazy that was the only explanation. He nodded. “Good.” He nodded again and practically ran to his room.
Angel paced back and forth in his suite. Okay, now that he knew he was crazy, he could deal. Cordelia was safe. The guy seemed to check out. And maybe he wouldn’t call her. Call her? She gave him her phone number? What was Cordelia thinking? She probably told him where she lived too. This was not helping him regain his sanity.
Okay, Cordelia was where she belonged. She hadn’t made any future plans with this Randall person. And maybe he wouldn’t call; maybe he didn’t think Cordelia was bright, funny, or beautiful. Maybe he wouldn’t notice how special she was. Angel flopped down in his chair. What was the guy blind? Cordelia didn’t say anything about the guy being blind. He would call.
Maybe if Angel could just figure out what kind of attention Cordelia needed she wouldn’t want to date anyone. Then his sanity would return. Angel picked up one of the other magazines that he had taken from Cordelia’s desk. It looked promising. It’s cover boasted of a reader’s poll- The Ten most popular ways a man can say he cares.
The magazine was a woman’s magazine, therefore the poll would have to have been completed by woman and Cordelia was a woman. Angel flipped through the pages until he got to what he was looking for. He scanned the first couple of results. No good.
He already cooked for Cordelia. Though, he hadn’t ever fed her or served her in bed. But, she always got up before he did. And somehow, he couldn’t picture Cordelia letting him shove a fork full of food at her. Angel shook his head. He stopped at the next one- no. He already bought her clothes. And that was uncomfortable enough.
All those women asking what size Cordelia was. He didn’t know- he had to just go to store to store making hourglass motions with his hands.
It was embarrassing. How would he able buy her lingerie like the magazine suggested. Angel shuddered as he pictured using his hands to guess the size of her breast. What would he say that they would fit perfectly in his palms? Angel jerked his hands down from the cupped position that they had crept into.
No. Angel’s eyes popped at the result following. Scrub her back and/or wash her hair? Angel pictured Cordelia in a bath full of warm water, his hands…NO. Angel’s mind clapped down the imagines of Cordelia nude and wet. He definitely couldn’t do that for her. Maybe if he closed his eyes, he could and just do it by feel.
His hands….NO. Angel tentatively looked at the last result. So far, this wasn’t going well. Massage, full body or at least foot. Full body? Cordelia’s body? Were they nuts? What kind of magazine was this?
Startled Angel looked up, the magazine still clenched in his hands.
“Angel is there something you want to tell me?”
Cordelia pointed to the Comos in his hand. “That magazine rarely has recipes in it, unless it is something to place on a woman’s body and lick off.”
“Uh” Angel gulped.
“You know, whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate syrup. Pretty much anything wet, sticky and sweet.”
Angel’s mind shut down as the picture of Cordelia lying nude covered in whip cream flashed through his mind. It was…NO. He didn’t even like whipped cream. Angel tried to get a grip. “You said I needed to dress better. This is a fashion magazine.” Angel had seen a lot of clothes in it, while he was flipping through.
“Yes. A woman’s fashion magazine.”
Angel’s eyes widen as Cordelia’s hand reached to pluck the magazine from his hands. He hid his sigh of relief as she closed it, without looking at the page he had been studying.
“Are you planning on cross-dressing now? Leather not exciting enough for you?” Cordelia raised her brows.
Angel refused to react. “What do you want? I’m busy.” Angel said with as much dignity as he could muster.
“Right, busy. I just wanted to be the one to tell you that I’m going out tonight with Randall.”
“He called? Here?”
“Please, Angel like I would give a stranger my home number.”
“You’re going out with him?” Angel started to panic.
“Yes. And before you start on me. I told him to pick me up here. Satisfied.”
Angel nodded. He wasn’t at all reassured.
“Um, Cordy?” Cordelia had turned to leave.
“Yes, Angel.” Cordelia rolled her eyes and faced the vampire.
“Um, do you want a foot massage?”
“Do I WHAT?”
“A foot massage.” Angel started to stammer. “You were up on your feet a lot last night, all that running through the sewers, you know to find the Vesta demon. And you don’t always wear the best shoes for that sort of thing. You’ve been complaining about how your feet hurt. Do you want a foot massage? It will make them feel better.”
“I have?” Cordelia scrunched her face trying to remember whether her feet hurt. She didn’t think they did.
Angel nodded vigorously.
Cordelia bit her lip. A foot massage from Angel. Cordelia liked foot massages, a lot. And for Angel to give her one. Her legs resting on his lap while his strong fingers rubbed her feet, maybe moving up to her legs.
Her stomach was acting weird again. Cordelia looked down at her booted feet. She had meant to give herself a pedicure last night, she really had. But, with the demon and everything, she just hadn’t felt like it. She stared at her feet shaking her head. Her polish was chipped, her feet all dry and rough.
There was no way she was going to let Angel see that disaster area, god forbid let him touch them. “Um, no thanks.” Cordelia mumbled. Cordelia limped out of the room. All of sudden her feet really did hurt.
Angel watched as she left. As soon as she was out of sight he grabbed the magazine and ripped it to shreds. He stared at his wall trying valiantly to figure out why he had suggested such a stupid thing.
Angel looked at the clock. Okay, five hours of figuring nothing out was enough. Anyway, he wanted to be downstairs to meet this person that was taking Cordelia out. If the man even twitched weirdly, he was out the door, head first, smack on the cement. Angel quickly showered. He grabbed the first black shirt he saw. He strode down the stairs, pulling the shirt over his leather pants.
Angel jerked to a stop on the bottom steps. Cordelia and Fred were hovering around a bouquet of red roses. Angel moved slowly towards the young women. Wesley and /or Gunn sent Fred flowers. Angel sped up reaching the women quickly. Wesley or Gunn better have sent Fred flowers. “Fred, you got flowers.”
The women jumped.
“Angel, I told you to stop doing that, and no they’re mine.” Cordelia smiled, fiddling with the blooms. “Aren’t they pretty?”
Angel glared at the roses. Pretty? They were Cordelia’s? Stupid magazines, Angel could have sent flowers. Flowers. He knew about flowers, he had just forgotten. None of the stupid magazines mentioned flowers, just bubble baths and body massages. Women liked flowers.
Granted the last time Angel sent them he was Angelus and the flowers were dead and a warning to the victim of what was to come. But Angel did remember that flowers had another purpose than one of a threat.
Cordelia happily nodded. “ Randall. Wow uh.”
Angel stared at the flowers then at Cordelia. “What are you wearing?”
“A dress, stupid. You would think after your new interest in women’s magazines you would have figured that one out.”
“You weren’t wearing that earlier.” Angel gawked at the bright red slip dress. There wasn’t any material. And what there was hugged every curve…Angel growled. “You aren’t wearing that.” It wasn’t a question but an order.
Cordelia didn’t hear it though. “Does it look bad? Guys, you said the dress was looked good. Gunn, you even said hot.”
Wesley and Gunn peeked around the corner. They looked at Cordelia’s expectant face and Angel’s glowering one. They ducked back around the corner.
“Fred, you said it was pretty?” Cordelia turned to the other young woman when she got no response from the men.
“It is. You look like the princess in the movie. Not blonde and she didn’t wear a red short dress, but you look wonderful. Doesn’t she Angel?”
The tall man started as three faces turned towards him.
Cordelia was the first to regain her speech. “Randall, hi.”
Wesley and Gunn were out in the main lobby in an instant. Whether to appease Angel for giving the okay to Cordelia to wear that dress or just because- the men glowered at the strange man.
Cordelia had to give Randall bonus points, he only squirmed a couple times as the three men slowly looked him over.
She gave him even more points by answering their stupid questions. But enough was enough. She was hungry and Randall was cute.
“Bye, all. See you tomorrow.” Cordelia hooked her arm under Randall’s and dragged him to the door.
“Bye, Angel. Tomorrow. Bye.” Cordelia waved and glared at the same time.
Angel glared at Fred, Gunn and Wesley.
“He seemed nice enough.” Wesley rubbed his glasses.
“I though he was handsome.” Fred said.
Angel growled and stared at Wesley and Gunn.
They shook their heads in unison. “No way.” “Angel, I don’t think it would be wise to follow Cordelia.”
Angel said nothing, but continued to glare. Wesley shot a look to Gunn. Gunn nodded. “Hey girl, let’s go see what’s to eat.” Gunn beckoned Fred to the kitchen.
“Angel, Randall Montgomery checked out. He’s just a guy, not a demon or vampire. Cordelia will be fine. She is a twenty-year-old young woman, she should be allowed to date, enjoy herself in peace. She deserves it.”
Angel glowered then went back up the stairs.