Angel didn’t mean to slam the car door so hard, but he nearly took it off the hinges and caused the driver’s side mirror to crack. 7 years bad luck the superstitious would say.
But what was to be said about the last 244 years? That’d have been 34.8 mirrors, and somehow he knew he hadn’t ever broken that many…had he? Maybe about twenty…but thirty-four? And .8???He blew out a hard, unnecessary breath, and glaring into the glass so painfully empty of his reflection, he chose to just ignore it.
He’d have Gunn stop at the automotive store tomorrow to have it replaced, and the door wasn’t dangling or anything…if anything, a few screws would have to be tightened…or replaced…and either way, it was his car! He could do what he wanted to it! If he wanted to kick in the headlights, he would! He was tempted, but he didn’t. Instead he stomped to the front door, dug his keys out of his pocket, and went inside.
The air outside was misty and black and eerily quiet…it did nothing to calm his nerves. Inside, at least he had Fred upstairs asleep, and Wesley’s clutter about the office, and Gunn’s weapons left lying about haplessly, and Cordelia’s…
He crossed the lobby to her desk and picked up the pair of gold hoop earrings she’d left laying there for a few days. Crushing them into his hand, he growled, and then really crushed them, and looked awkwardly in trouble when he realized he’d bent them into an unfixable mess.
After a few seconds of working at twisting them back into shape, he gave up and tossed them into the trash bin. He’d buy her another, more durable pair later. Right now, all he wanted to do was hate her. If that was even possible.
He slumped down into her chair and thought about what had happened that night. Her face. The smell of her in the air as she stood waiting for her cab. She’d been crying. He hadn’t been sure at first, when he’d found her frantically pushing buttons on her cell phone.
But after listening to her shaky voice sound off directions to Caritas into the receiver, he’d known. He’d known she was crying, but he didn’t do anything about it.
She was crying, and perhaps it confused him as much as it had her. She’d ran out in such a hurry…He knew why. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out…just a dumb vamp.
He’d been kissing Paige. Kissing her. A lot. And as good as it felt to be able to do that, it wasn’t worth it when he found his Seer had run out on them. He was just glad she hadn’t gotten further than the parking lot when he found her.
As upset as she’d apparently been, she still had sense enough not to take off to the street alone. Angel was glad for that. He didn’t want Cordelia out there, alone. Not at all.
And so he unknowingly waited with her as she waited for the cab. Letting her get into the cab alone had been easier than dealing with Paige afterwards. Paige was…well, obviously she was a very pretty girl, that was for sure. And as Cordelia had accused, she had a nice…figure. Any man with eyes could see that.
Well, Angel had eyes. And besides that, she was nice. And smart, regardless of what Cordelia thought.
She was ignorant, yes, of course, to the many atrocities that Angel knew all too well. But then that was the point of it, wasn’t it?She represented everything he couldn’t have and then some. But he did have it. When he was kissing her, he had it. She was innocent, and made him feel a little innocent, too. And kissing her had been like…
Like kissing a stranger, to tell the truth. They’d kissed before tonight, sure. And of course he liked it. But it wasn’t so much the kisses as the feelings of plastic normalcy that came with them.
They’d started off with soft, virginal kisses, polite, careful, and few and far between. Each time they went out, the good night kiss had gotten friendlier and friendlier. Tonight, at the stage…well, maybe she’d felt more than he should’ve led on. He didn’t know what compelled him to lift her off the stage and kiss her like that.
Lust is always a driving force. And he did feel lust kissing her. But it wasn’t what he’d been pretending it to be when he’d allowed Cordelia and the rest of Caritas to see it.
Maybe he’d been trying to prove something to himself…he would never be sure. After that stage kiss, he was in over his head. He felt it coming, but out of fear and want, he ignored it, and just went along for the ride.
“There you are…” A kiss. “Your friends are waiting, what are you doing out here?”
“Getting some air,””Is everything okay?”
“Sure.” A lie.
“Well come back inside. You’ve got to sing for me.”
“Angel! Angel, come on…”
Angel caught himself with his eyes closed, silently reliving that moment. Clearing his throat he opened his eyes, but the feel of her, warm body, hot blood, against him…it stayed with him. It stayed with him as though it were happening again. He didn’t move. Only blinked, gazing softly into the dimly lighted space. He spent the rest of the night thinking about it before finally going to bed at first light.
He’d followed her back inside and finished the evening with her, talking, laughing, drinking…even singing one song, a very short one, just to appease her. And overall, having a good time. Paige was fun.
He had fun with her. He forgot who he was when he was with her, and maybe that was a dangerous thing…oh hell, he knew it was. But when he was with her, living that, it didn’t matter. Not so much.
Only when Cordelia so smoothly pointed it out with her behavior did he actually truly consider the dangerous possibilities… and the impossible.
“Well, guys, it’s getting late,” she said sometime around 1AM, hand gracing his lower back, low enough to make his spine tingle at her suggestiveness. “I’ve got some stuff to do in the morning, so…” She left the suggestion dangling there in the air, not caring if anyone else understood. She stared fixated on Angel, her green eyes large with expectation, and shimmering with a little playful, unbridled mischief.
“It’s still early!” Gunn exclaimed, slightly inebriated with alcohol as he glanced at his watch. But then an equally inebriated Wesley cleared his throat, raising a brow suggestively at Gunn, and Gunn gave Paige a lopsided smile. “Oh, my bad. Excuse me for being the oblivious one. You two wanna be alone, that’s cool. No problem.” Wesley then elbowed him, and Paige giggled.
“It’s okay, really. But I would like a little time alone with my guy.””But how’re we going to get home?” Fred piped in quickly.
“We can take a taxi,” Wesley suggested.
“Yeah,” Gunn lolled.
“No, Angel has to drive us!”
“Nonsense, Fred!” Wesley grinned. His nose always got so red when he’d been drinking. “It’s all right. I’ve got enough money for a taxi.”
“Go on, have fun.” Gunn slurred. He glanced knowingly at Angel. “Don’t get home too late…b’for sun up, if you get my drift.”
“No,” Fred winced.
“Great!” Paige beamed, showing her perfect white teeth framed by stunning lips and an even more beautiful face…if you liked the Hollywood starlet look that is. And at that moment, Angel loved that look.
“Then it’s all settled.” She took his hand and came in close. “You wanna get out of here?” She whispered into his ear. He smiled himself as the table grew silent.
And then he noticed how Fred was staring at him with a dire plea in her eyes that begged him not to go. Angel tried to ignore it, tried to pretend like he didn’t notice, or didn’t care. Maybe he was showing off? He didn’t understand the reason himself.
But maybe there had been something he was trying to prove because when he glanced at Wesley and Gunn then threw them a wink, he was satisfied at the envious chuckle that escaped their drunken throats. With his hand on her back, and against his better judgment, he led Paige away from the table and out the side entrance.
He had been angry with Cordelia for leaving like she did. Maybe he was trying to prove something to her.
Paige was all over him in the car. And things did not change when they reached her apartment. At the door, Angel found himself entangling himself in something much deeper than her arms. He was getting in deeper than he’d ever expected himself to allow. Paige wasn’t holding back. She was pressing herself against him, giving him what they said would be a proper good night kiss, while all along it was clear that her intentions had been for this kiss to be only the beginning, the turning point in their still fresh relationship, the crucial step, the breaking point, to break them into the next level.
That was a place Angel sorely did not need to be. But Angel found himself losing sight of the plan he’d started the night off with: ending the evening by telling her the truth, showing her his true face if he had to, and then getting the hell out of there before he ruined her life any further, when she was sickened and repulsed and disgusted and finally afraid of him for what he was.
But instead…”Come inside,” She whispered, nibbling his ear. And he obliged. Somehow she managed to open the door, Angel didn’t even remember her taking out her keys, and he found himself half way leading, half way being led, into her small apartment and through the darkened hallway towards the bedroom. It wasn’t the first time he’d been here, but he’d never been here like this.
He touched her slowly, purposefully caressing her body and all her curves in just the right places, as he’d learned to do in his past 240+ years. Her heart sped up to an intense but steady beat, and she gasped against him, and nothing else had ever sounded so enthralling. Kisses were slow and deliberate, lips sucking on one another’s lips; fingers were explorative, running through hair, melding into bare skin as clothes were loosened; the darkness seemed to grow darker as the rest of the world fell away into shadow, and shrouded them both into hot, faceless, passion.
The only thing he could hear was the sound of her heart thudding, and the only thing he could feel was the warmth radiating off of her—the need she clearly conveyed as her fingers trailed down to his belt buckle—the want she passed on as her hips crushed against his, leading him towards her bedroom—urging him on as his hands trailed beneath her blouse and up her ribs and over her swells and around her back once again to grip her firmly against him, all the while his lips, teeth and tongue creating a frenzy to course within her. They never made it to the bedroom though.
At some point, Angel had her pinned against the wall, his leather jacket slipping off his arms and his fingers tangling in her clothing and hair all at the same time. He got a hold of the cool feel of silk panties before he realized where he was. Hands slipped into her pants, hanging loose about her waist as the zippers and buttons had been undone; her blouse half raised, showing off her near perfect stomach; hair framing her face, leaving her eyes unguarded as her chest rose and fell and her mouth gaped as she sucked in air in a frantic pant.
Angel only stared at her cupping her face. Her head came forward, lips parted, but Angel dodged them.
“What?” She asked breathlessly. “What is it? What’s wrong?” He contemplated all the things he could tell her; the sound of her heart beating in his ears. When he tried to speak, he couldn’t make his mouth move right.
Still cupping her face, he released his grip and allowed her to stand alone against the wall. He pushed the silky hair aside from her face, and pressing his lips into a thin line, shook his head in silence. Her face fell in confusion, even as she grappled to straighten her clothing and adjust her pants.
“I just can’t.” He said.
“O…Okay.” She was so unsure of herself just then, and he felt awful. But his belt was re-buckled before he ever stepped back.”Angel?” She called out as he turned to walk away.
As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t ignore her. He paused, turning slowly to stare back through the dark.”I had fun,” She said earnestly, stepping forward. “I hope…I hope you did, too.”
“Too much.” He whispered, and she cocked her head, not understanding. “Paige, I’m sorry. I just can’t right now.”
“Oh.” She followed him to the front door.
“Please…it’s not you.”
“If it’s not me, then what is it?” She tried to sound carefree, but it just didn’t work. Angel looked at her, touching her hair again.
“It’s me. It’s all me.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
“Try me.” She smiled, turning back on the seduction. She pressed up against him, toying with his collar.
“There are things you probably wouldn’t believe about me if I told you,”
She tried. “Maybe…maybe we could share some of those things…later. You know…if you…spend the night.”
“I wish I could.” He said prying her fingers away. “Believe me, I wish I could. But if you knew…” He opened the door and stepped across the threshold. “If you knew, you wouldn’t want me to.”
“I don’t get it,” She smiled, troubled, as she stood in the dark way, hand posed against the frame while she leaned and watched at him. “So you have some sort of double life or something?” It was meant as a joke, but Angel didn’t smile.
“Something like that.”
“Let me guess, you’re already involved with someone else?”
“Your job, then…you’re not just a regular detective, right? Is it dangerous? Are you some kind of spy? Some kind of secret agent?”
“It’s dangerous, but not how you think.”
“What then?” She laughed nervously. “I’m running out of options.”
“You couldn’t even begin to guess.” He said sadly.
“Are you some kind of monster then? Jekyll and Hide? Come on, Angel! You can tell me!” The look he gave her cast her into silence. The intense stare, the yearning of truth so ready at the surface, the way he completely stilled as if he weren’t even breathing…it sent shivers down her spine.
Sensing her discomfort, Angel took a step forward, intimidatingly close.”You don’t want to know.” And she believed him. After that, he left. And she went inside and closed the door and watched through the window as his car pulled away.She couldn’t get the taste of him out of her mind.
He was playing Mysterious Guy, she got that. But she didn’t understand why he left when he did. She’d wanted him, and he’d wanted her too, she could feel it. Out of all the night’s they’d been together, tonight was supposed to be the night, she could feel it! She touched her mouth, still tingling and raw from his departure.
What could make him leave like that? At the club, he was ready and willing… What had changed from then to now? She thought about it for only a moment before it finally hit her.