Posted: Dec 06-Jan 07
Rating: Not for kids, but nothing explicit. Yet. (overall R/N-17)
Summary: Mutual obsession and need come to a head when Cordelia discovers Angel’s sketchbook.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Ask first, please.
Notes: It’s Thanksgiving, and no one’s posting. Left to my own devices, is it any surprise I went straight into the gutter?
Feedback: Always appreciated.
He was Buffy’s. In her mind was always the picture of them at Buffy’s seventeenth birthday – nearly stuck together, hands brushing, eyes meeting.
Cordelia’s an observer, and she saw the signs of a lost cause.
Three and a half years later, she still thinks he’s a lost cause, but something in her has changed.
Before she could look at Angel like a pretty painting, two dimensional and completely untouchable.
Now he’s living color, drawing forth from her the storm and thunder of emotion as effortlessly as he coaxes images from charcoal and paper.
Tonight, as she is thrown back up to the surface after a vision, he is leaning over her, eyes intent on her face and the clench of his fingers burning the skin of her back.
“Angel!” She gasps because his name is all that’s anchoring her, yanking her back from the horror in her head.
“Tell me.” His voice is low, urgent with purpose and anger.
“Vamps hunting – car?” She closes her eyes and envisions again what she saw. “No, surrounding a car. They’re waiting for the driver to get out.”
It’s then she realizes she’s half in his lap, both of them sitting on the lobby floor of the Hyperion. The smell of the industrial strength cleaner they’re using to clean the floors is mixing in her nostrils with the musky scent of Angel.
She tries to move off but he holds her closer, hands tightening in a grip she can’t break.
Behind his shoulder, Wesley stares down at them with worried eyes and Gunn just looks focused. He wants to kill, gripping his axe tighter, seeing his sister in every one of her visions.
“On the corner of – uh,” hesitates again when Angel’s breath brushes the skin of her cheek and she loses the thread of what she’s saying. “-12th and Vine.”
Peers up finally into his steady gaze so he understands this next part.
“You have to help them.”
Easing her gently off his lap, he helps her onto the round couch before they leave in a noisy blur of purpose and weapons.
She curls up and waits for them to complete their mission, knowing her pain will end when they finish the job.
Twenty minutes later, it dulls and fades until she’s left with aching, dry eyes and half moon crescents in the palms of her hands.
Getting up slowly, she heads for the stairs, wanting to clean the last of the lingering vision off of her body before going home. It’s a ritual – hot water, towels, and a shot of whatever Angel keeps in his kitchen.
Wiping the soft towel across her face one final time, she straightens the burgundy cloth and hangs it back up.
Angel’s apartment is dark, with only one lamp turned on for light.
The boys wouldn’t be back for another half hour and Angel’s things draw her with the same fascination Pandora must have felt, having that box of sin so close to her at all times. She pads silently over to his dresser, plain dark wood, and pulls open the top drawer.
Inside is a spill of rich fabrics, silks and whole cottons, dark colors every one of them. She runs her hands over the shirts, missing the feel of luxury at her fingertips. She used to wear the same kinds of clothes, from Italy and New York. Feeling the perfect fit against her skin as she walked through the halls of Sunnydale high school, she felt as if nothing could touch her.
Until something did.
The ghost pain flairs briefly to life, and she pushes it away with practiced ease. The rebar was kindness wrapped up in pain, opening her eyes to certain painful truths. She should see the incident as a much needed lesson, but every now and again, she can only feel the acidic burn of betrayal in the back of her throat, forever imprinted on her skin.
Her fingers brush something hard and she hesitates before grabbing the edge and pulling it up.
He keeps his art mostly to himself, only now and again drawing a demon as she describes it. But his art stays in his room. She recognizes what she’s doing is a horrible violation, but her fascination with Angel won’t let her put it back down and walk away.
He keeps so much to himself, indulging in long brooding silences as she stands in his doorway and watches him. He doesn’t know she’s there half the time, lost in the blood drenched memories of his past, looking for some fresh way to feel unworthy of the discovered Shanshu.
Opening the hardcover, she sees what she expects to.
The Slayer is smiling, hazel eyes wide with mirth.
The next few pages are of Buffy fighting, sleeping, and angry. Every emotion is represented in Angel’s talented hands.
Then she flips to the fifth page.
At first she doesn’t understand, and then the shock of recognition needles through her flesh at a rush.
She’s on her back, spine arched and head thrown back. She’s never seen herself in the midst of a vision before, and never like this. The O of her mouth is bracketed by lines of pain, and her brow is creased sharply over her closed eyes.
But it looks like she’s having an orgasm.
Her hands are shaking as she flips to the next page.
She’s smiling in this one, eyes bright. He even got the mole on her cheek. Her hair is swept back, off her shoulders, and her neck is prominent.
The striated veins are detailed.
The next drawing makes her breath strangle in her throat.
She’s dressed in a short spaghetti strapped slip, on her knees with her hands bound behind her. Her hair hides her face, but not the rivulets of dark liquid running down her shoulder, staining the dress.
The next sketch is of her asleep on her bed; sheet slipped half way down her hips and one arm over her head.
It’s drawn as if the artist is peering through her bedroom window.
In the next, the sheet is gone, and she’s on her side, nightgown rucked up to her thighs. Her eyes are half lidded and she’s smiling a sleepy smile of invitation.
She slams the sketchbook closed with shaking fingers and stuffs it back into the drawer, heart pounding a frightening rhythm behind her ribcage.
She turns to leave and runs right into Angel’s chest.
His hands come up to grasp her elbows, immovable as stone, and she can’t tug them free.
“See something interesting?” He asks in a quiet voice.
He waits a moment and then lets her go, stepping back and going around her. She turns, keeping her back to the door, and stares at the stiff lines of his body as he seats himself in his chair.
There is a cool rush of wind through her body as she waits.
“Angel, talk to me.”
He peers up into her questioning eyes.
“Have you already made up your mind?”
She shakes her head slightly, not taking her gaze off him.
“Not really capable of higher thinking at the moment. Blind panic, on the other hand, is a distinct possibility.”
He nods, and leans back against the wing backed cushion, eyes on her face.
She wants to tell him he’s not making it better, but when he looks at her like that, she loses the thread of her thoughts, forgets her outrage, her shame, forgets everything but the urge to take his hurt from him. She is suddenly, frighteningly aware of how deep the water is around her head, and staves off the panic by focusing on him.
She goes to the edge of his bed and sits, aware that she’s already making a choice.
“Tell me, talk to me.” She keeps her voice soft, willing him to tell her something she can live with, something to replace the dysfunction their friendship has sunk into in the last few minutes.
“When you’re having a vision, Cordelia, it scares me.”
The soft tone of his voice has the hushed quality of a confessional, and for a moment, sitting in the half darkness of Angel’s bedroom, the scent of incense smoke is heavy in her lungs.
She rubs at the tattoo on the inside of her left wrist, waiting for him to go on.
“You’re convulsing so much, and your eyes will roll into the back of your head and I’m trying to hold onto your body to keep you from hurting yourself.”
She remembers his arms around her, keeping her anchored, keeping her safe, and doesn’t tell him how many times she wished he would squeeze harder, make it hurt so she knew she wasn’t dying.
“But,” he pauses for a moment, chin buried in his chest. “There’s another part of me that loves your pain.”
He glances over; watches her with shame in his eyes, and she has to stop herself from reacting, but she can’t stop the way her heartbeat picks up, surging hard at his words.
“I’m not a man, Cordelia, I’m a vampire and the demon craves the agony that you go through. Every time you see something I can’t, I want to know what you feel, what you see.”
“Angel-“she falters, not knowing what to say.
“I can’t tell you I don’t want the things I drew.” He gets up and crosses over to her, kneeling in front of her clasped knees. “I can’t even tell you that I won’t ever hurt you or that I don’t want to hurt you, but-“
He stops and she waits for more, but realizes that there really isn’t anything more to add, no reassurances or promises, just his confession that she forced by violating his trust. She brings her right hand up and cups the side of his cheek, just under his ear, thumb soft over the stubble that grows over his jaw.
His face is raw with need and fear, and she knows he’s afraid she’ll get up and leave, reject him for being what he is.
“Angel.” She whispers his name because it’s still her safe word, and leans down and touches her mouth to his.
He tries to pull back but she won’t let him, using both hands on the sides of his head to bring him forward, deepening the kiss but he yanks his mouth away just as quickly, to the side, and her lips drag across his cheek.
She stops and presses the spot, arms around his shoulders, holding him, giving him the absolution of her touch.
She can feel him shudder against her, mouth against the bare flesh of her shoulder and though his touch is cold, it burns all the way through her.
Then the burn reaches up through the back of her skull and suddenly she is thrown out of her body and into a vision of hell –
Mirrors within mirrors and she’s dizzy with pain, the world spinning in sickening circles, her brain frying with heat and blood
she realizes that someone is screaming Angel’s name but she can’t connect to the voice at all, and just holds onto the rock holding onto her, watching Angel take her blood as she shudders on the bed, dying, his eyes gold with lust and grief and even now she wants to comfort and hold and then nothing but pain and pain and hot, scalding pain….
is thrown back up and screams once, her throat closing in.
Angel is staring down at her and she realizes he is pressing her into his bed, palm cupped to her forehead, forcing her head back so that her throat is arched tight.
She struggles then, wanting out of his hold before she throws up, rolling off the bed when he releases her and stumbling over to the door.
He makes to follow her –
“No, don’t, please-“
Lurching through the door, she runs away.
She still feels his hard cock pressed between her legs, the way her thighs clenched his hips closer as she watched him take her blood, the rushing intensity when she finally came, thrashing in the throes of her vision.
He killed her, and she orgasmed as she died.