Cordelia’s eyes snapped open. “Wha…t?”
“You fell asleep.”
Her head jerked up at Angel’s low voice. “Oh.” She blinked taking in her position. She was neatly tucked into his side and feeling entirely too comfortable.
“Entertaining is tiring work.”
“Hmmph.” Cordelia grunted at his sardonic tone. “It is when you’re dealing with Miss Twittle,” she countered as she tried to scoot out from underneath his arm.
But Angel refused the hint. His arm stayed glued to her shoulders while his long legs remained outstretched on the coffee table.
She took a deep breath. “Hey, big guy,” she said lightly as she gave his leg a pat. “Let me up.”
“I’m comfortable.” His tone was teasing but the darkness of his gaze caused her belly to knot into a tight ball.
Cordelia braced her shoulders and pushed off the sofa. “Pfft, big baby,” she chided, deciding to take it as a joke and ignore the rest.
The air seemed to freeze. She turned to look down at Angel. He was still in the same relaxed position, but any signs of playfulness were gone. Cordelia forced herself not to run as his black stare captured hers.
Then just has suddenly as it had come, the coldness was gone. Angel slid fluidly to his feet. His hands reached out to cup her shoulders. “So, you want to go to bed,” he murmured, looking down into her eyes.
Cordelia fretted on her bottom lip. The warmth in his brown eyes made her wonder if she had imagined the whole weirdness. “You don’t want me sleeping on you all night, do you?” She joked.
“Come on,” he said, smiling as he gently led her to the stairway.
Her heart jumped as she tried NOT to take his words as an invitation.
Angel placed her hand on the curve of the banister. He then covered it, preventing her from going up the stairs. “Cordy, do you want a cat?”
Cordelia stopped in mid-step and pivoted to face him. “Did you just say a cat?”
To her disbelief, Angel nodded. “Miss Twittle said that they make good companions.”
Cordelia knew her mouth was gaping but she couldn’t seem to close it.
“Don’t you like them?”
He was serious. She took a deep breath. “Yeah, I like them. I guess. I never had one.” Cordelia paused, thinking back. “When I was little I found a kitten by the stables but my mom wouldn’t let me keep it. She said it would scratch up all of the furniture. It was really cute.”
Cordelia eyes wandered to Angel’s couch. It was already pretty ruined a cat couldn’t do any worse to it.
“So, do you want one?”
“What?” Cordelia shook her head, bringing her attention back to Angel. “No.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Don’t be silly, I can’t take a cat to live with me in a motel.”
“You don’t live in a motel, Cordelia.”
She shivered as the earlier coldness crept up her spine. She wetted her lips. “Um, sure not now.” Cordelia cleared her throat. “But, it’s only for a little while until we can tell Miss Twittle that Damien isn’t a danger. I won’t be here long enough for a pet.”
Angel didn’t respond, nor did the chill in the air disappear. “Um, Angel.” She tugged at her hand until it was free. “I’m going to bed.” She ran up the steps. “Good night,” she mumbled, continuing to move, not wanting to face his darkened gaze again.
Angel paced as he gulped down the blood. Infuriating girl. His body cried just to take her and end all the games
He flung himself on the wooden bench against the basement wall. His fists clenched and unclenched he forced his body to calm. He had to think.
Memories of Cordelia sleeping in his arms flooded his mind. The warmth of her breath, the lure of wildflowers, and the gentle beating of her heart against his chest were as potent in memory as in reality. His body slowly calmed.
Angel rested his arms on his knees. That pleasure would not happen again if he acted rashly.
He took a deep breath and stood. He had to have patience.
Shaking his head, he reached down to grab another container of blood from the cooler. A cat? It had been a nonsensical notion to keep her in his presence.
Angel paused, bringing the container down from his lips.He hadn’t noticed at the time but Cordy’s expression had been wistful when she had described finding the kitten.
Thinking about her expression, he absently tossed the empty container aside. The he smiled. He just may have found the perfect way to bind Cordy to him even more.
Angel cocked his head up to the ceiling. Cordelia’s preparations for bed were over. He’d wait a little longer before he went upstairs to her.
“Geez, Angel, what lit a fire under your butt?” Cordy whined, as Angel snatched her cereal bowl away.
“You were done.”
“I had milk left.”
“You’re going to be late for school.” Angel finished rinsing the bowl and turned towards her.
“What are you a truant officer now?” Cordelia didn’t budge from her stool.
“Cordelia, you’re already facing detention. Do you really want to get in more trouble?” Angel said sternly, crossing his arms against his chest.
“Ugh,” Cordelia got up. “You know, maybe you should sleep in from now on. The early hours are turning you into Principal Snyder,” she shot over her shoulder as she left the kitchen.
“Don’t forget your essay.” Angel called after her.
“I won’t, Mr. Grump,” she yelled back.
Angel smiled and gathered up Cordy’s bagged lunch and went into the living room to wait for her.
“You will remember to call what’s his name about my tires won’t you.” Cordelia stood outside the entrance to the school’s basement.
“Go.” Angel pushed the lunch bag into her hand. “You’ll be late.”
“Go.” Angel opened the trapdoor and pushed her towards it. “Education is important.” He smiled as Cordelia grumbled low under her breath and went into the school.
Suddenly, he frowned as stared at the door. His palm rubbed tight circles on the middle of his chest. He didn’t like her out of his sight. Still frowning he dropped his hand and turned back into the sewers.
Cordelia flipped her ponytail over her shoulder and patted down her mini-skirt. She nodded at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. There were no signs of her sewer-travels on her unless you counted her boots. She scrunched up her nose and started scraping the sludge off with a damp towel.
That was better, she thought, dumping the towel into the trash. Then she hurried off to the library.
“Again?” Xander sat on the library table.
“Seems so,” Willow answered as she sat next to him.
“Giles, what’s going on?” Buffy demanded.
Giles’ glasses were in one hand, the other rubbing his forehead. “I do not believe it’s demonic.”
“Giles.” Buffy brought her fists on her hips. “Everybody’s lockers have been broken into – not to mention the school’s office – again. “If its not demonic, then what is it? Maybe I should call Angel.”
Cordelia stopped halfway through the library doors and turned around. Sure enough, all the lockers were smashed. Great. Hers would never get fixed. Her attention was drawn back to the voices in the library.
“That won’t be necessary, Buffy. The school’s administration has labeled it as vandalism. There will be security guards patrolling the school and its grounds, both day and night. And I can see no evidence to contradict their conclusions.”
“Are you sure?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes at Buffy’s question. It was pretty obvious that she wanted a reason to call Angel.
Cordelia nodded. Yea, Giles. It was clear by his firm answer that he read through Buffy’s question and wasn’t going to help her.
“Hello, Erik.” Angel leaned over the makeshift cubicle wall.
“Angel.” The Bandox demon stumbled to his feet. “What are you doing here?” Erik looked around Angel, pulling him in his office area. “Did anyone see you?” He took another look out into the hallway.
Angel ignored Erik’s nervousness and sat down, swinging his feet up on Erik’s desk. “You still going to Willie’s for Monday Poker night?”
Erik scurried closer to Angel. “You know I don’t talk about that stuff at work.”
Angel’s hard gaze followed Erik’s fidgeting. “Make an exception.”
“Okay. Okay.” Erik wrung his hands. “Yeah. Why? Since when are you interested?”
Angel refused to rub the tension in his shoulders. “I take it you have your stash ready?” he asked sharply.
Erik nodded. “Why?”
“I want to see them.”
“They’re at home.”
“I can’t leave work.”
“I’ll wait.” Angel repeated, picking up a paperweight and tossing it back and forth between his hands.
“Okay. Okay. Meet me in the parking garage in twenty minutes.
Angel tightened his fists. His headache was getting worse the longer he stayed in the stuffy garage. A low growl vibrated in his chest. He needed to get to Cordelia.
He leaned away from the cement post just as Erik’s car pulled into the parking space.
“They didn’t want to come.” Angel eyed the various scratches on his hands.
“I still don’t know why you wanted to see them.” Erik pulled out a squirming, mewing cardboard box.
Angel ignored him, looked in the box, and studied the kittens. He had no idea, which Cordelia would like best. He frowned at the all black one. It looked smaller and more lethargic than the rest. He listened as he held the kitten in his palm but its heartbeat was strong. Angel decided that all it needed was care and attention. And he was pretty positive that Cordy would be willing to give it to the kitten. “I’ll take him.” Angel cocked his head at the loud-purr that rumbled through the kitten. It seemed that he knew he was being saved from kitty poker.
“Hey, I spent over an hour trying to catch him. I had to climb in a dumpster.” Erik reached out to take the kitten back.
“I said I’d take him,” he growled.
Erik quickly dropped his hand. “Okay. Okay.”
Angel nodded. “Have someone drop off a television at the mansion today.” He palmed a large diamond.
“This should cover it.” Erik snatched the jewel. Angel grabbed his hand, enclosing the diamond and Erik’s hand in his fist. “I expect change.”
“Sure thing, Angel. You know I’d never cheat you. No way.” Erik assured him. “What kind of TV?”
Angel shrugged impatiently. “I don’t -” Angel paused. If he chose wrong he never hear the end of it from Miss Twittle. “Check the ‘Consumer Digest for the best.”
Erik nodded as he pocketed the diamond. “What size?”
“Regular,” he said as he moved away.
“Regular size.” Erik shook his head. “Hey it may take more than a day.”
“Just get it done,” Angel shot over his shoulder.