Cordelia stood at the curb stomping from one foot to another. She should be relieved, evil vampires dead everyone safe, but she wasn’t she was angry. All those really old vampires had creeped her out, especially Dracula.
The way she had responded to Angel’s kisses and caresses had confused and freaked her. Spike’s appearance and comments had annoyed her to no end. She was creeped, freaked, confused and annoyed and that made her angry.
And now this. “The limo is gone. The LIMO is gone.” She swung and glared at Angel.
“Uh, I’m sure Gunn or Spike will give us a ride.”
“I am NOT riding with that bleached blonde dead asshole. He ruined my dress.”
“Great. Right, ride in the back of a pick up truck, I think not. I HATE MY LIFE.”
“Cordy, you don’t mean that.”
“Of course not. But it felt good.” She sighed and just stared at Angel.
“Uh, Cordy about…”
“Angel, I’m tired, hungry and not in the best of moods. Talking about anything more substantial than food or sleep is not a good idea.”
“I’ll call a cab.”
Cordelia hadn’t spoken since she said thank you. She had just got silently into the cab as soon as it pulled up. And now she was leaned up against the back passenger window staring out into the night.
Angel couldn’t gauge her mood. So, he also remained silent. The quiet in the cab was deafening.
Suddenly, Cordelia swung around. “Kiss me.”
“UH.” Angel jerked back in surprise and confusion.
“Kiss me, Angel. I need to know the difference. Do it.”
“The difference, Angel, between when you kiss and touch me 1) while possessed 2) during the vamp marky thing and 3) just kissing me. Do it.”
“Um, Cordy.” Angel blinked.
“And don’t you dare say you won’t because it’s horrible, kissing me is NOT horrible.” Glaring.
Angel moved to her, his hands cupping her face, his thumbs caresses her jaw line. “Of course it isn’t. It’s…” Angel stared at the young woman trying to understand what was going on in her head. Cordelia was nervous, scared and she wanted him to kiss her. Angel couldn’t figure it out. But he did want to kiss her.
“Just do it, do it now.”
“Then be quiet.”
“I can’t kiss you if you keep talking.” Angel leaned in quickly preventing anymore words from leaving her mouth, his tongue taking advantage of her parted lips to penetrate and explore, his hand sliding down to the small of her back to press her closer, the fingers of his other hand entangled in her hair.
Cordelia’s hands had nowhere to go except around the vampire’s back. Her hips scooted shortening the distance between their bodies even more. Her arms tightened around the vampire as her hands caressed the width of Angel’s back; her tongue met Angel’s eagerly. A soft whimper vibrated in her throat. It was happening again. Cordelia’s hands suddenly clutched at Angel’s shoulders and shoved. Her head shot up as she moved away from the vampire, her eyes wide and staring.
“How do you do this to me?”
“Do what?” Angel blinked at Cordelia. Now what was going on? She wouldn’t answer. She just kept staring. Cordelia’s face was flushed, her heartbeat elevated, her breath expelling in small gasps, her scent was the same but more, it was vibrant, thick. Angel could taste it.
He blinked. Cordelia was aroused….by him. It had to be him. Angel was the only other person there. Except for the cabdriver and he didn’t count or at least Angel hoped not. He shot a glance at the cabdriver. The man was 50 if he was a day, fat and balding. Angel felt a little more confident. He turned back to Cordelia. She was speaking again.
“You said you didn’t know how to do the vamp mind thingy. Is it because you bit me? Or is it just some old expert experience? Do you even feel anything?”
Now she was making Angel mad. Why couldn’t Cordelia just accept that she was attracted to him? Granted, Angel was still a little floored at the concept, but the evidence was there and he was more than willing to accept it. “Cordelia, shut up.”
“Don’t you dare tell me to shut up. Answer me.”
“Cordy, if you were really my property, if I could do the mind thingy on you-you would shut up, but you didn’t shut up did you? Do you ever shut up when I tell you to? no. As for feeling anything, I don’t know, you tell me.” He grabbed her hand and brought it directly to his obvious erection or at least now obvious to Cordelia.
Cordelia yanked her hand back as if she was burned. Cordelia was beginning to feel trapped as Angel’s body leaned over hers, not touching but encompassing all the space around her.
“If I could make you do what I want, believe me your body would be under mine, I would be inside you filling you, my hands, my mouth would be touching, tasting slowly, so slowly, so not to miss an inch.” His voice low and rough.
Cordelia gulped, she felt the warmth in her belly solidified in her womb at Angel’s words. She was getting lost in the intensity in his dark eyes. She couldn’t get lost. “Why?” she managed to squeak.
Angel sat up. The intensity remained in his eyes. Cordelia scrunched up her face. She also saw a touch of humor in the dark orbs.
“Why?” Angel gave a small laugh. “Because you are beautiful, sexy as hell, more than that you are courageous, remarkable, loving, strong, loyal, frustrating, annoying and I….”
“Hold on. I blanked out after sexy as hell, start over only you can skip the frustrating and annoying part.”
“No, Cordelia, I don’t think I can. I…”
The small smile that had been forming on Cordelia’s countenance halted. “Stop, Angel.”
“Angel, Buffy and Spike are having sex.”
“I heard what you said, I just have no idea why that is relevant to the here and now.”
“Angel, obviously you didn’t hear me, I said BUFFY and SPIKE are having sex. He didn’t actually tell me, but it’s true.”
“Angel, BUFFY AND SPIKE, sitting in a tree KISSING. Buffy and Spike, sex, two backed beast, horizontal mumbo.”
“I doubt it was in a tree, Cordelia. But who knows?”
Cordelia stared. “Why aren’t you mad?”
Angel sighed. “Cordy, I’m not pleased that Buffy and Spike are together, especially since I don’t think that they are really together.”
“Angel, I think…”
“Cordy, Spike came here to talk to me about Buffy, to get advice. I’ll never be Dear Abby or Oprah and we’ve never been pals or buddies, even when I was Angelus, but he came here, which means he’s desperate. Spike’s a rarity, a soulless, evil, pain in the ass, romantic. He loves. And if he’s not obsessively happy right now, it’s because Buffy doesn’t love him back. And if she is having sex with him, then she’s not in a good place right now. Buffy’s the slayer, she’s not going to choose to have sex with a vampire that she doesn’t love, not unless something is really wrong. And that doesn’t please me. What?”
“Nothing, it’s just that- that was the most words I’ve heard you ever say, it was almost deep. There were so many. It was very weird in an amazing way.” Cordelia scrunched up her brow again. “Don’t you want to go running to Sunnydale to find out what’s wrong with her?”
“No. Spike will tell me. If I can help, I will. But I’m not leaving.” Angel paused. “Cordelia, could you ever fall in love with a vampire?”
Cordelia turned away from the intensity that sprung back into Angel’s eyes and stared out the window of the car. She was in danger of getting lost again. She thought about it, trying to ignore Angel’s silent gaze. He was waiting. Cordelia sighed her eyes searching the darkness of the passing night for an answer that they both could live with.
There was something comforting about denial and something very heartbreaking when a two-ton truck full of realization crushes that carefully honed denial.
“I don’t know.” Cordelia started slowly, her forehead never leaving the glass plane. “Maybe. The vampire would have to have a soul. I don’t know why, I just think it would be important. He would have to be good, brave, strong- a champion, ” She smiled sadly at her reflection on the glass.
“A dorky champion, who I trusted with my life.” Cordelia paused and turned to Angel. “I guess my answer is no. Because you see, that vampire doesn’t exist. Angel, you’re the closest thing, but you’re not it, because if I were to fall in love with a vampire with a soul, he would have to love me as much as I love him. I couldn’t be the consolation prize because the love of his life was unavailable. And our love couldn’t have the power to destroy him, couldn’t be what makes him turn back into a soulless killer. I wouldn’t, couldn’t put him, my family, myself in that kind of danger. But, Angel, I can say that I will stay with YOU as long as I can, because I do love you. You’re my best friend.”
Cordelia smiled. She could live with it. She studied Angel. The handsome vampire was smiling also. Good. Everything would be fine and back too normal. Just no more kissing. Cordelia couldn’t help it- she frowned.
Angel had been nervous and fearful waiting for her answer. Cordelia’s ‘I don’t know’ and ‘maybe’ hadn’t completely alleviated either, but it was much more promising than the unequivocal no, he had half expected. Then she said she could fall in love with a vampire. One with a soul. Angel had a soul and better yet he was a dork. Cordelia called him one all the time. She could fall in love with him. Angel almost reached for her, but then he heard it, the unequivocal no.
Cordelia said he wasn’t the vampire she could fall in love with. That wasn’t right, Angel was positive that he was the only ensouled dorky champion vampire in existence. Cordelia had continued to speak, his mind had to catch up with her words. He was on track when she finished. Cordelia was in love with him or at least she would acknowledge it after he cleared up a couple of things for her.
If Angel had known that not telling Cordelia that his soul was permanent would cause him to go through 5 minutes of excruciating torture, he would’ve told her, then maybe they would be kissing some more, instead of just looking at each other from the opposite sides of the back seat.
“Cordy…” Angel was interrupted by the shout of the cabdriver to get out. Angel looked out the window; he hadn’t even realized that they had reached the hotel. He tried to think of his options. Killing the cabdriver wouldn’t do any good, Cordelia would get mad and they would be stuck in a car going nowhere.
He could tell the driver to take them to Cordelia’s. That would work and he did have to get his car. Angel could talk to her there. But, then Wesley and Gunn would probably get anxious; they hadn’t been real pleased when they saw his mark on Cordelia. And then there was Spike; Angel really didn’t want the blonde vampire wandering around the hotel and Connor without Angel being there. Angel didn’t believe that Spike would necessarily be a danger, but Spike had a tendency to cause trouble just by being able to walk and talk.
“Angel, come on, we can’t let Spike around Connor without one of us there. He’ll probably start smoking or something. Let’s go. Pay the man.”
Angel nodded. His decision had been made for him.
“Peaches, it’s about time, these idiots won’t show me my room won’t even let me up the stairs.” Waving to Wesley and Gunn.
Both men were standing between Spike and the staircase, their weapons still in hand. Angel noticed that Fred had somehow ended up sitting on the bottom of the stairs. She jumped up as soon as she saw Cordelia and Angel. “Can I go into the kitchen now.” She glared at Wesley and Gunn, her hands on her slim hips.
“Angel, go check on Connor, then make up a room for Spike on the third floor the furthest one from Connor. You,” grabbing at the blonde vampire. “I want to talk to.”
Angel shrugged and went up the stair.
“I’m staying.” “I ain’t leaving.”
Cordelia shot a look at Wesley and Gunn. “Did anyone tell you to? Hmm. You know where your rooms are. Geez. Come on.” She pulled Spike into Wesley’s office and slammed the door.
“Can the poof be even more whipped? Ow.” His hand going to the spot on his head that Cordelia smacked.
“Angel says that you’re here to talk to him about Buffy. So talk. Cuz unless you tell me exactly what you are planning to say, you’re not getting near him. I won’t let you upset him.”
“You can’t keep me from him.” Spike growled showing his game face.
“Don’t kid yourself, I tell Angel, really tell Angel to throw you out, you’re gone. I won’t ask him to stake you, just kick your blonde dead ass to the curb. But, you know what? If you piss me off enough, I’ll stake you and he won’t kick me out. So talk. And wipe that face off.”
“You’re just being a bitch because you know about the chip in my head.”
“Right. Spike can’t hurt humans, I heard. But guess what? I not human, well I’m not all human. So, if you want to try your vamp scare tactics go ahead. Come on, just try to hit me.”
“You smell human.”
“Eww, don’t smell me.”
“It’s not like I can help it, you reek of… the Poof and ….So, what, Peaches got a kid and a permanent soul now. He got you all hot and bothered. Or, is it just that you can’t give him the big happy. Wow, I guess I really did hit the nail on the head. I was joking.”
“Stop hitting me.”
“Then watch your mouth. And put that cigarette away. You’re not smoking in here.”
“The kid’s upstairs. Come on, let me smoke.”
“Not in here.” She grabbed his arm. “The garden.”
“So, what do you mean you aren’t all human?” Spike sat on the stone bench next Cordelia.
Spike wasn’t sure why he was putting up with the young woman. But it seemed if he was going to talk to Angel, he was going to have to go through the young woman. And Spike needed to talk to Angel, Buffy was driving him nuts. Angel was his last hope.
Cordelia shrugged. “Part demon. Don’t know the type. Wesley’s researching.”
“With books.” She smiled at Spike’s look. “I made a choice,” answering seriously.
“You chose to be part demon?” Spike stared at the young woman. This was not the same cheerleader from Sunnydale.
“You didn’t see my other choices. Death or TV stardom.” Cordelia shrugged again.
“Right. TV stardom is a really bad choice all that money and fame. I get it.”
“No you don’t, but it doesn’t matter. I do.”
“You’re really okay with it.” Buffy needed to take a lesson from this woman.
“Sure, though honestly, I do still wake up some mornings checking for horns and a tail. It’s the not knowing, you see. Go to bed looking like me; wake up with horns and green skin. A little unnerving. But Wesley doesn’t think that will happen since it hasn’t happened. Spike, why are you here? What do you expect Angel to do? If your sex life with Buffy is all screwed up what do think Angel can do to fix it? Why do you think he would fix it and not just kill you? You’re talking about Buffy. Buffy, you know, the love of his life, soul mates forever, the tragic undying love story of all time. Spike, I’m serious, I don’t want you upsetting him. He’s been getting better.”
“Smiling, he tells jokes, bad ones, but still they’re jokes, he wears clothes other than black, I won’t let you go putting him back into brood mode.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Unfortunately, I think I do. Did Dracula really do the mind zap on Buffy? That I don’t understand.”
Spike shrugged. “He bit her. It almost worked, but she ended up coming to her senses and running him out of town.”
Cordelia’s eyes got big. “Eww.”
“I’m with you. That old vampire is a pain in the ass.”
“That’s what Angel says. You know, Buffy must be the only slayer in history that vampires are clamoring to boink rather than kill and she must be the only one that lets them.”
Spike smirked. “I like you.”
Cordelia sighed. “Don’t, that was mean. I really don’t hate Buffy, everyone thinks I do, but I don’t. I know she’s brave, courageous, superhero material, it just gets tiring sometimes to know that you’ll always be second best, if that, when she’s around. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. Spike, you may be having the best sex of your undead life with her but it will always be Angel. He will always be first with her, just like she will always be first with him. Get over it, being a consolation prize is not fun in the long run.” Cordelia looked down at her hands as silence fell over the garden.
“Cordy, go upstairs. Connor needs you.”
Cordelia jumped up. “Is something wrong? Angel, is Connor okay?” Running to the vampire standing in the doorway of the garden.
“Yes, he’s fine, he’s just looking for someone to Blurslurp on. I won’t do. So, that means you.”
Cordelia smiled brightly and ran into the lobby.
“So, are you going to kill me?”
Angel went into the garden taking the seat that Cordelia had vacated. “I gave you my conditions.”
“I think I might’ve of upset her.”
“No. I did that. Spike, I can’t help you. And if it’s my blessing you came for I can’t give that to you, either. All Buffy wants is a normal life, I couldn’t give that to her and you sure and hell can’t.”
“She’s driving me crazy, she says she wants me, but it’s wrong, I’m evil, but then she comes back fucking the daylights out of me. I can’t take it anymore.”
“You are evil, it is wrong and what- are you losing your stamina?”
“Spike, what’s wrong with Buffy?” Angel’s tone changed to one of concern.
“What? Something has to be wrong with her because she wants me. You the only vampire she can want?”
“From what I heard, she wanted Dracula for an enthralled minute. Cordy may be right, Buffy is the only slayer in history that boinks vampires rather than stake them.”
“Jokes…. you really aren’t going to get violent over this are you?”
“About Buffy and you, no. Touch anyone in the hotel, yes.”
“Don’t you mean the cheerleader?”
“Cordy and Connor go without saying, the others I’m reminding you.”
“Chip,” Spike pointed to his head. “No biting, allowed.”
“I’ve confidence in you Spike, you can cause damage even without biting.”
“Thank you, someone appreciates my full range of talents.” Spike came back from his pacing and sat next to Angel.
“You’ve really chosen the humans?”
“Haven’t you? You’re still in Sunnydale helping them. I’ve got a soul, what’s your excuse. Have you even tried to get rid of the chip?”
“No. Not really.”
“Then I would really be the monster she accuses me of being. I miss hunting and feeding.”
“Yeah, so do I.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Spike, Buffy doesn’t want to love a vampire, I don’t know if she ever can.”
“She loved you. What makes you so special?”
“She was sixteen; didn’t know that I was a vampire at first, then she rationalized that it was okay because I had a soul. A fake vampire. It was never the same after Angelus, once she saw what I was capable of. Kind of brought the whole fake vampire myth crashing down around us. We said we still loved each other and we did, but it wasn’t the same; the hesitation that she originally felt turned into distrust. Neither of us forgot what I was after that. We were in love for what, 3 years and in all that time, I could count on one hand how many times I drank in front of her- smiled, laughed- never. Does she keep blood in the refrigerator for you?”
“The watcher did.” Spike jerked off the stone bench and started pacing again.
Angel shook his head. “Cordy spices mine, says it’s boring. Keeps the refrigerator in her apartment stocked just in case I come over. Not only forgave me for majorly fucking up, but became even a better friend as a result. A friend, Spike. Is Buffy your friend, she wasn’t mine. I loved her, she loved me, but we weren’t friends.”
Spike stalled in his pacing. “She’s told me stuff, stuff that she didn’t tell the Scoobies- about her dying.”
“That’s definitely one up on me, she just told me she was fine, but she’s not is she, Spike.”
Spike plopped back on the bench. “She said that she was in heaven or someplace peaceful, safe, happy, then she was ripped from it, put back on hell.”
“She’s working at a hamburger joint trying to take care of the Nibblet, be all grown up, strong, but she’s not happy. She’s dying inside, she said that’s why she was with me, just to feel something for a little while. She’s forgotten what she is, she doesn’t remember that she’s strong, confident, beautiful, special, all she sees is…the hamburger joint. I don’t know how to fix it. That’s why I’m here. I want you to fix it. You can tell her who she is, you love her, she loves you, go tell her.”
Angel stared at Spike. “You’re truly an oddity, Spike. A vampire willing to give up something you need to possess and love. I’ve done it, would do it again, did do it, luckily Groo was an idiot, but I did it, because I’ve a soul, Angelus never would’ve considered it. But you have. I’ve changed my mind. If you need my blessing, I’ll give it to you. I don’t know what good it will do you, but I give it.”
“I didn’t ask for your blessing.”
“I know, but I won’t do what you are asking me to, I won’t because it would be a lie, a lie to Buffy, to me. We’re over. We’ve been over a long time ago. My life is here.”
“You bastard, you said you loved her, Angelus was obsessed with her because you loved her, soul mates, even yourcheerleader said so.”
“I never said Buffy was my soul mate, everyone else said that and Cordy….Cordy is… I loved Buffy, ask me four even three years ago, I would’ve said it was forever then I would’ve gone to brood alone. But, now, when I hear Buffy’s name, I think about her and I’m just grateful that she loved me at all.”
Angel looked back at the hotel. “I thought it would be forever, but it wasn’t. But this has to be forever, it has to be, I could leave Buffy, I could move on when I though she was dead, I don’t think….” Angel turned away and looked up at the stars. “They don’t need us, Spike. We don’t deserve them. They need normal. Sun.”
“Problem is they aren’t normal. The Cheerleader actually seems to have accepted it. Buffy, is still fighting it. Do you remember when we brought terror to the countryside? Those were the days. Could you ever imagine that we would be sitting here scared of two twenty-year-old mortals? It’s fucked up, I tell you.”
Angel laughed. “Yes, it is. But, I wouldn’t change it. Spike, love Buffy if you want and maybe it will be okay, stranger things have happened. But, if you push her or hurt her, I may have to get violent. I do still care very much about her. But, you know if it gives you any hope, she told you her pain, she trusted you. It’s a start, it may not amount to much, but it is a start.” Angel got up and headed for the hotel.
He stopped and turned. “Spike, how long can you stay?”
“My calendar is clear, no pressing engagements.”
“Stay at least until we know what Dracula is up to.”
“Hell, Peaches, you know what he’ll be up to, he’s going to go after the Cheerleader. It’s payback time and she’s hot.”
“The last time I fought him…”
“You didn’t win. I’ll stay. What the hell, it’s not like the home hearth is being tended waiting my return.”
“Did you tell Buffy you were coming here?”
“Hell no. What, you think I’m crazy?”