The Upper Hand. 16-18

Chapter 16

Cordelia finally gave up trying to get Angel to speak to her. The rest of the walk back to the hotel was done in utter silence.

The vampire wouldn’t even look at her, the only time he even touched her was to lower her down into the manhole near the entrance to the door in the alley and then to pull her up into the entrance of the basement of the hotel.

He let her pass and go upstairs. Angel followed but stopped in the doorway as soon as he saw Wesley, Gunn and Fred run up to Cordelia.

Wesley turned to the vampire. “Angel.”

“Take her to the hospital.” Turning to go back down into the basement, back into the sewers.

“Cordy?” Wesley asked.

“I’m fine. Angel’s just being stupid, really stupid.” Glaring at the retreating form of the vampire. “I just want to go home. Can someone please take me home.” She turned to Wesley and Gunn.

“We’ll take Angel’s car.” Wesley grabbed the keys. Gunn and Fred quickly followed.

“Everyone doesn’t need to go.” Cordelia snapped. Her frustration at Angel’s lack of response towards her was turning into anger.

They needed to talk. But he was being all broody and stupid. And she sure didn’t want to talk about what happened with Wesley, Gunn and Fred.

“Cordy, we were worried. Wesley said it was Angelus. Why does Angel think you should go to hospital?” Fred’s eyes got big. “That was Angel right, and if he thinks you have to go to the hospital… What did Angelus do? Are you all right? Maybe you should go to the hospital. I shouldn’t have left you alone with him.”

“I will say this only one more time- I AM FINE. Gunn, take me home. Wesley, you stay here, if Angel comes back, he may want to talk to you, but I doubt it,” she grumbled.

“And, Fred, don’t ask Angel any of your one million questions, if he does come back. He isn’t in the mood; he’s in a stupid, guilty broody mood. And I’m fine.”

Wesley nodded to Gunn.

***

Gunn turned to Cordelia and started to speak. She cut him off with a glare. “I’m not in the mood to answer any questions, either.”


Chapter 17

“Well?”

“She wouldn’t talk, but she seemed okay. I guess. She ran into her apartment and slammed the door on me. Has the vamp come back?”

“No.” Wesley took off his glasses and rubbed his forehead.

“Something happened.” Gunn said sitting on the counter. “I saw vamp marks on her neck.”

Wesley rubbed even harder. “Let be it for now. They’ll talk when they’re ready. I hope.” He shoved on his glasses.

***

“Go away Dennis.” Cordelia waved at the floating robe behind her. Cordelia stepped closer to her mirror, her fingers touching the bite marks on her body.

She closed her eyes as she remembered the feeling of Angelus’ fangs penetrating her flesh, then his lips and tongue kissing and licking the wounds, easing the sting, giving pleasure just as he gave pain. What were they going to do now?

Her bare feet made no sound as she went to the bathroom. Cordelia settled down in the hot water, letting the water soothe her aching body, wishing it could do the same for her heart and mind.

What Angelus had done had the capability of destroying her relationship with Angel, if they let it. Cordelia was willing to put it behind her, place it with all of the other bad things that Angelus had done.

It was Angelus not Angel. She could keep separating the two. She could, if Angel would let her. But, he wasn’t doing that. He was acting all stupid like he had done those things to her. But it wasn’t Angel.

Cordelia sunk further into the tub, trying to wash away Angelus words, the words that claimed that Angel and he were one in the same. That just wasn’t true. Cordelia needed for Angel to say it. Cordelia jumped up from the tub.


Chapter 18

“Cordelia?” Wesley looked up at the young woman standing in the doorway.

“Has he come back yet?”

“No.”

Cordelia turned and headed for the basement. “Cordelia, where are you going?”

“To find him.”

“Cordelia, I don’t think….” Wesley sighed. “ You should.’ He finished to the closed door.

***

Cordelia looked around in the dark sewer. Where would she go if she was a guilt-ridden, stupid vampire that just lost her soul and bit, terrorized, threatened and almost raped her best friend?

Damn. She was in the wrong place. Cordelia turned to go back to the hotel and stopped again. She would just stay here and wait. If brood guy had been watching her apartment then he would know she left and he would know she came to the hotel.

It shouldn’t be that long.

She looked up as Angel emerged from the dark shadows.

“You should’ve gone to the hospital.”

“I didn’t need to.”

“You were hurt.”

“I’m fine. And going to the hospital would have done nothing but raise a lot of questions.

Angel turned and started to walk away.

Cordelia ran up to the vampire and yanked on his arm. “Angel, stop. We have to talk.”

Angel took her hands off him and pushed her. “I don’t want to talk.”

“You have to,” Cordelia ran back to him. “You have to.” She repeated. “Please, Angel. Don’t let what Angelus did destroy us.”

Angel stopped and faced her. “You want to talk, so talk.”

“Here? It’s gross down here.”

Angel took a deep breath, he wasn’t sure if it was to stop himself from hitting, kissing or running away from the young woman in front him.

“Where would you suggest, then?” He said lowly.

She pointed back to the path to the hotel. She scrunched Wesley was there. “We could stay in the basement or go to your room.”

“My room?” Angel took another deep breath. “Let’s go, then.” He grabbed her arm and pushed her back to the hotel.

“Angel, I can walk. Nevermind.” She mumbled at his glare.

***

Both Fred and Wesley looked up from their books as Cordelia and Angel came through the basement door.

“Leave.” Angel said to them as he pulled Cordelia towards the stairs to his suite.

“Cordy?” Wesley got up, fumbling on the counter for a stake.

“Okay, I’m okay. Bye. We’re going to talk.” She gave an odd smile to Wesley and Fred. “Bye.”

Wesley studied the pair a moment and beckoned Fred to come with him. “We’ll be back very soon.”

“Take your time.” Angel said.

“That’s okay,” Wesley said. “We’ll be back. Come on, Fred.”

Cordelia pulled against Angel’s tug. “Angel, now that they are gone we can just talk here.”

“You said you wanted to talk in my room.”

“I also said the basement.” She countered.

“Upstairs.” He pulled her after him. Angel pushed her into the room and locked the door.

“Angel, why are you trying to scare me?” She glared her arms crossed against her chest.

“Because, Cordelia you should be scared of me.” The vampire moved closer his eyes glowing yellow.

Cordelia smacked him. “Stop it. I don’t know what you’re up to, but just stop it.”

Angel stepped back and reverted to his human guise. “You really are stupid.” He laughed, his voice a perfect imitation of Angelus mocking tone.

Cordelia stumbled back. Angel studied her. “What’s the matter, Cordy, am I frightening you now. Aw, love, how special. Do you know what’s so intoxicating about fear for a vampire? It’s gives the blood such a more intense flavor, the air just becomes drenched in the scent. Quite, wonderful.” He stepped closer.

“What is Cordy, I’ve got my soul, what are you afraid of? Afraid that I will tie you to the bed, rape you, feed off you, hurt you.”

Cordelia straightened and swung at the vampire. “Ouch.” She cried, holding her fist.

Angel placed his hand over his jaw. “Do you really think that could stop me?”

“What is your problem? Why are you doing this? What? Angelus didn’t do enough damage now you want to finish it? Stop it.”

Angel started to laugh again, this time not mockingly but in resignation and sadness. He sat on the edge of his bed, shaking his head.

“Angel, talk to me.” Cordelia sat down next to the vampire.

“Go away, Cordelia.”

“I can’t. You know that. You’re hurting and it’s making you act weird, weirder than usual. I can’t leave you like this.”

Angel shook his head in his hands. “Why won’t you ever listen to me?”

“I do listen to you, but you aren’t making any sense right now.” She placed a small hand on Angel’s thigh. “You aren’t.”

“Yes, I am, Cordelia.” He took her hand off his leg. “You just don’t want to hear what I’m saying. Just like you didn’t listen to Angelus.”

“I heard him.”

“So, you heard him say that we were one in the same, I am Angelus Cordelia, I am my demon. I hurt you, I bit you, and I tried to rape you.”

“Would you stop saying that?” She jumped up off the bed and glared.

“No, not until you understand and leave.”

“I’m not leaving.”

Angel jumped up. “Damn you, what do I have to do to get you understand.”

“I do understand.” Cordelia did understand or at least she was pretty sure she did. Angel just refused to believe it because he seemed to expect that if she really understood, she would leave him.

He was the one that didn’t understand, not her. She waited for his next move. Angel was angry, very angry. His eyes were flashing from brown and gold, his body tense. Well, she would see if she was right or if he was.

But, she wasn’t that worried, he was almost never right when it came to their relationship.

Cordelia stood still as Angel stalked towards her and ripped at her clothes until she was nude in front of him. Melodramatic, that was her vampire. He pulled her in front of the mirror forcing her to look at her reflection; he roughly placed his hands on the evidence of Angelus bites. “This is what I did.”

Cordelia wasn’t looking at her reflection; she was staring at the mirror though. The mirror. Angel put that in after one of her many complaints about there not being enough mirrors in the hotel.

Why hadn’t she questioned why Angel put a mirror in his bedroom? Why hadn’t he? She wondered if he even realized it. She hadn’t until now. “Angel, why did put a mirror in your bedroom.”

Angel stepped back, his anger completely lost in confusion. “Your mirror?”

“It’s not like you need one. Why here? Sure, you put one in the guest room, I use, but why here? I like this one better. Why did you put the best mirror in here?”

Angel just stared at the nude young woman. “Cordelia, I just ripped your clothes off.”

“I know. That wasn’t very nice. I liked that outfit. You could’ve just asked. I would’ve taken them off.”

Angel stumbled even further back, his legs hitting the edge of the bed, his hands clutching at the covers. He closed his eyes as he pulled up blanket. “Here. Sorry.” He handed the covering to her.

Cordelia shrugged and wrapped the blanket around her body and got on the bed behind the befuddled vampire. “Angel, I do understand. I might not have, but I do now, okay. Your little melodrama clued me in okay. So, you can stop with the I am Angelus bullshit.”

“Cord..” He stopped as her hand covered his mouth.

“You are a vampire, Angelus is a vampire, you both share a lot in common, you both are obsessive, prone to over dramatics, a thing for blondes, “ she paused as growl vibrated through Angel.

“A tendency to get growly, when someone says something you don’t want to hear or does something you don’t like, you are both possessive, both like blood, both have a capacity of great and violent rage, but where Angelus is a psychopath in that he’s amoral, no boundaries to curb his actions or desires, you have a soul, a moral compass that allows you to be a good man, allows you to love and be loved. Angelus doesn’t have that and that is why you are different from him. Angelus may be a part of what you are but he isn’t all of you.

Even without a soul, you weren’t the same Angelus that you were 150 years ago or even four years ago. Angelus may have wanted to terrorize me, though it was kind of weak, well, up until that last part, but before that he still wanted me to be comfortable. Rocky road ice cream. He got me ice cream, didn’t have any of course, but he got it. And those curtains, those were almost exactly like the curtains that I wanted for the lobby, but you wouldn’t let me get, said they were too expensive.” Cordelia paused.

“Angel, nobody’s using those curtains now, they’re just hanging in an abandoned warehouse, I mean…” She scrunched up her face. “Nobody was killed for them were they, because if they weren’t then we could get them and hang them….?”

Angel turned to her. “Shut up. And don’t read too much into Angelus desire to make you comfortable before he tortured you. Pleasure and pain that’s what he does.”

“He’s good at it.” Cordelia shrugged. “At least you stopped saying it was you.”

“It was me, Cordy, I hurt you.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Stop.” Cordelia cradled his disbelieving face and stared into his guilt filled eyes.

“Angel, you’ve hurt me more with a soul than you ever could without one and I still love you. I love you because after each back step you take a greater step forward. Watching you learn to accept your humanity, to believe in your right to be happy, watching you begin to really love all of us as a family, not that obsessive blind tragic crap that you and Buffy dwelled in, but real love, love that makes you happy and laugh is beautiful.

That’s why I’ll never leave you, because I have to see the end or at least try to, I want to be there when you finally get to walk out in the sun, I want to take you to the beach and get some color on you. I need to see it, I need to see you happy.”

“Angelus…”

“Angel, you’re missing the point. God, you’re dense. Angelus does scare me, I can’t deny that, he scares me because he means death and pain to those I love, he means that you are further away from your redemption, but he isn’t what really terrifies me, he was once, but you changed that, you changed that when you with a soul, terrified me more.

You hurt me and scared me, when you cut yourself off from us. Angel, with a soul, you have the capacity to cause more harm to your redemption, to me, to all of us than Angelus ever could, all that demon can do is kill us, you could’ve destroyed us and the mission that we believe in by your choices with a soul. You have choices in your behavior, Angelus doesn’t, not really since he’s an amoral vampire.

You are so worried about how I feel about what happened with Angelus, don’t be, be worried about how I will feel if you ever turn your back on your soul again.”

“You said you …”

“No, I didn’t. We’ve never really talked about it. Things and circumstances just happened and we became okay again, better than okay, but it didn’t go away, Angel. It was still there. This stuff with Angelus will go away. Because it wasn’t you, the whole you, but the other was.” Cordelia sighed as she saw Angel retreat back into himself, trying to hid even further from her.

“Angel, don’t. I love you. Don’t go back into brood mode. I forgave you, I just never said it, but I did. I love you and you’ve shown that you don’t want anything like that to happen again. I just mention it so you would put what happened with Angelus in perspective. That’s all.”

Angel gently brushed Cordelia’s hair from her face and stared intently into her eyes. “I don’t understand you. I’ve never met anyone like you before.” He said with awe and disbelief.

“Well, duh, I’m Cordelia Chase.” She quirked a big smile.

He laughed and pushed her to the bed, hugging her close to him.

Cordelia giggled. “If this was a movie, we’d be kissing right now and then making love or at least you would say you loved me too.”

Angel leaned up looking into her eyes; her lighthearted tone couldn’t hide the need for a response from him. “And you think you know me so well,” his lips moving closer. “I love you, my unique, beautiful Cordelia Chase,” ending the sentence with a soft kiss.

Cordelia wrapped her arms around the vampire pulling him closer, deepening the kiss for as long as she thought wise, and then just a little bit longer. With a sigh, she broke the kiss. “Um, Angel.” She whispered, moving away.

“Yes.”

“I’m naked and well….and while Angelus may not be my biggest fear, I don’t want him back.” She scooted back.

“Neither do I, so I’ll avoid all black ooze in the future, but not this.”

“Angel, sex, joy, bad guy.”

“Cordy, you understand more than I do about a lot, but trust me on this, I won’t lose my soul, not from the joy of making love to you.”

“How come?”

“Because to do that now, I would have to be able to forget the risks, and I can’t. You can’t and neither can I, so no matter how much love and joy we feel we both know that it isn’t completely true not while my demon still exists.”

“Hmmph.”

“You aren’t happy.”

“Happy, that I can’t send you into oblivious joy, no, but I’ll settle.”

“Don’t pout. I love you and you do send me to joy, just not oblivious joy and you don’t want that- just know that you are the only one that can lead me to my humanity. Because you are my humanity.”

Cordelia blinked at the tears forming in her eyes. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Her smile turned to a frown as she thought more about what Angel said. She scooted up. “So that means you can have sex whenever you want.”

“That would be great. Can we start now?”

“No.” She pushed at his reaching hands. “I mean you could just go out and have sex with anyone.”

“I always could.”

“Ewww.”

“I didn’t. “ Angel quickly defended. “Not, since well, not since Darla and that wasn’t fun, well not joyful anyway. And no one before that except Buffy and I didn’t know the risks, then.

“Ewww.” Cordelia moved even further away.

“Cordy.” Angel tried to pull her back. “The curse was love, joy and sex and forgetting who I was. I’ve had sex without…”

“Stop. Ewww.”

“Cordy, I’m neither a virgin or a eunuch.”

“Ewww.”

“Would you stop making that sound?”

“Would you stop talking about your blondes…ewww. I can’t make love to you. Ewww.”

Angel rubbed his face hard. Okay, this wasn’t fatal. This wasn’t angst filled Angelus or beige period talk. This was just blond talk. Ewww. Maybe Cordy was right.

“Cordy, you know that I wouldn’t let Darla come between us again. If she ever shows her face back in LA, I will stake her before allowing her to hurt you or anyone else. The reason why I slept with her is non-existent now. I know what I would lose. And it isn’t worth it, it never was, I was just too stupid to realize it at the time, that’s all.”

Cordelia shivered. “Ick, I know that, don’t ever mention that again, it makes my skin crawl.”

“Then…”

“Buffy, the other blonde, you could go back to her now that you’ve figured out the love, joy, sex loophole. I’ve got to go home.”

Angel just stared, his hand shot out as Cordelia moved from the bed, yanking her back on. “Angel.”

“Cordy, now you are being really stupid.”

“I am not.”

“Yes, you are the one that said that my love for Buffy wasn’t real, just obsessive, blind tragic stuff and you were right. Why in the hell would I want to go back to that when I have real love here, love that gives me joy and makes laugh….and frustrates the hell out of me?”

“But, she was the ….”

“If you say the love of my life, I’m going to growl, if you say she’s blonde, I’m going to rip that cover off you and pound into you, until you can’t ever say that word again.”

“Did you just threaten me?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t……I…” she knelt on the bed. “Just don’t,” she pounded into his chest.

“I will, if you keep being stupid.”

Cordelia narrowed her eyes. “She is blonde.”

“That’s it.” Angel grabbed Cordelia throwing her on the bed, his full weight covering her body. “It’s not fate, or a fetish, just a coincidence that the two woman that most effected my life, prior to you were blonde and in the scheme of things, their hair color had nothing to do with it. It was Darla’s bite and Buffy’s willingness to love, and anyway Buffy’s not a real blonde.”

“Of course she isn’t, she needs a better hair dresser; you could always see the roots.” Cordelia agreed automatically. Then she thought about what Angel said. “Ewww.” Cordelia smacked him.

“That’s how I knew too, the root thing.” Angel laughed.

“Shut up. So, I affected your life?”

“You’re fishing now.”

“What? So, I want to hear how wonderful I am, what’s wrong that?”

“Nothing, because you are.” Angel laughed and kissed her. “I love you, you make me feel and laugh. A very special thing.”

Cordelia smiled and looked down as Angel divested her of the blanket. “Um, Angel, are you going to bite more, I mean if you have to okay, but I got an awful lot of them, they’ll go away won’t they? Summer will be here soon, and well they won’t be hidden in a bikini.”

“That’s was the point,” he grumbled.

“What?”

Angel leaned up and traced the marks still apparent on Cordelia’s smooth skin. Guilt and possessiveness overrode the joy he had begun to feel with Cordelia.

“Angel?”

“They will go away. Except, these won’t,” His hand moved to trace the wounds at her neck. The one spot that Angelus made sure would never leave.

“Oh, so I can wear my bikini, then.”

Angel stared down at the young woman. He was very tempted to start the marks all over again. He’d seen her in a bikini and he really didn’t think anyone else should. What was there was his and only his. Angel sighed. Cordelia was right. Angel was just as possessive as Angelus.

Good thing that Angel did have that moral compass.

“Cordelia,” Angel pulled her up so that she was sitting next to him, her gaze on his. “These marks,” he moved to the ones on her chest, abdomen, hip and thigh, “will go away, they will heal, not deep enough to scar, but this,”

His hand drifted to her neck. “Will remain, unless you get it removed. They were made to mark you as the property of Angelus. And any vampire that attacks you knows that he does it at the risk of Angelus wrath.”

“Property? I’m not anyone’s property.” She glared.

“I know. That’s why my moral compass would never allow me to do it. Anyway, it’s not needed, anyone touches you- they’ll feel my wrath mark or no mark.”

Cordelia narrowed her eyes. “Oh, so you wouldn’t do it, but you would still act on the principle that I was your property.”

“Cordy, I am a vampire. You said you understood.”

Cordelia sighed. “So, if I keep them, then the vamps that could attack me might not because they’re all squiggly over the Angelus legend.”

“The younger vampires are a little ignorant of the old ways but they should recognize another’s mark.”

“I don’t like this, Angel. It smacks of ownership and other stuff.”

“Then get rid of it, it’s a scar, it can be removed.” Angel moved a little.

“You don’t want me too.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No, you don’t. You’re an old fashioned vampire. Fine. I’ll keep THIS one, but no more, I can’t have you marking me up and ruining my look in a low cut blouse or dress or what if I want to wear a halter or a midriff or a bikini. It just won’t do.”

Again Angel was very tempted to ignore Cordelia and just mark the hell out of her, keeping her wrapped in a full bed sheet or naked on his bed, but he forced the feeling aside. He knew who she belonged to. And the mark on her neck was sufficient to keep the demons away unless they wanted to face a very vengeful Angel.

“So, can we make love now,” Angel asked hesitantly. If Cordelia said no, there may be a problem with his moral compass, but he was hoping that wouldn’t come into play.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’ve been waiting like forever for you to get over whatever issues that you’ve been brooding about.”

If Angel could’ve thought of a way to strangle Cordelia and make love to her he would’ve, but as it was, he just leaned in and kissed her.

Cordelia reached around and fumbled at his coat. She pushed up.

Angel sat up and growled. Now what?

“Angel, you’re still wearing your coat, sure it’s a cool coat, but get rid of it and the rest of your clothes while you’re at it.”

Strangling was too good for her. Angel tore off his jacket and clothes in an instant. He was back on her in a second. She laughed holding him close. “Better.” She nuzzled into his chin, her lips and teeth nipping at his flesh.

Okay. Strangling was definitely out. Angel growled and pushed her hands away and moved his head away from her lips. He moved his lips to her collarbone and trailed down to her breast. Cordelia wiggled, pulling against his grasp. As soon as Angel released her hands, they flew to his back kneading and caressing, her legs moving up wrapping themselves around his solid body.

Cordelia moaned as Angel’s mouth encased her breast. She pressed her hands and pushed, her legs tightening around him. He was teasing her and she wanted him now. She moaned and pushed.

***

“Wesley, are you sure?”

“They been up there too long, I think we have to check.”

“Okay.”

Slowly they opened the door after no one answered their knock. Wesley eyes shot wide as he saw the bed. He closed the door and motioned everyone back. As they all went down the stairs, Wesley said. “Gunn, get the tranq guns. Fred, go now to Caritas.”

“But, the black ooze?”

Wesley just shook his head. “Trust me. Go.”

Fred bit her lip and ran.

“Wes, man, what did you see?”

“Angel and Cordy. In bed.”

“And…OH, shit. Going.” Gunn ran to get the dart pistols.

Both men went back stealthily going towards the bedroom. They cringed as they heard soft moans, and growls.

“When?”

“Better sooner than later, right, right.” Wesley said as he opened the door. Both men shot.

Chapter 19

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