Angel forces himself to his feet, following Cordelia where she has told him not to, worry and desire making a mad war in his skull as he watches her small shadow silhouetted by the inky black night.
It’s no hardship to keep up, he could go all night, but soon she’s turning into her street, flying out of the car and up the walk to her apartment.
He stays until the sun forces him home.
The drawings are rumpled from being shoved hastily back into his drawer, and he smoothes the wrinkles out with his hand over the images, one by one.
The shame threatens to overwhelm him again, that she should see what he never meant for her to see.
“Then why didn’t you destroy them, Angelus?”
The voice is whiskey rough and little girl sweet, toying and taunting.
His hand runs over the image of a slumbering Cordelia, her face softened by dreams.
“She didn’t need to know.”
A hand, perfectly made, settles along his shoulder, the weight of her body winding around the back of his chair.
He glances up into Darla’s pixie face before returning his gaze to his sketches.
“You left them in a drawer with curious mortal girls roaming your home – did you really expect she wouldn’t find them?”
He doesn’t answer, his eyes searching the vellum for flaws.
Instead of sleeping he waits, and when the sun falls back behind the horizon, he opens his balcony windows to the cool autumn night, curtains weaving around his bared torso like a lover’s soft touch.
Gazing in the direction of Silverlake yields nothing of Cordelia, but it pleases him to do it anyway.
The ghost in his bed is lounging with ease across his bedspread.
“She needs you.”
“No, she doesn’t.”
That he’s sure of. If it weren’t for him, she would still be an aspiring actress, ruling men and empires with her smile, not having her head torn apart nightly by visions meant to redeem him.
“Poor tortured Angel, guilt has really made you its dog, hasn’t it?”
He doesn’t answer.
In Silverlake, Cordelia huddles on her couch with a blanket wrapped securely around her legs.
Dennis is an unseen presence next to her, smoothing her hair as she stares without seeing at the television.
The images streaking past her mind’s eye are of her own making. Blood and death and Angel, the dark unknowable things that grip him every day and every night, that take him by the scruff of his neck and jam his nose in the mess of his past. She can see him through an unbreakable glass, his soul held by a fragile thread and suspended over the deep well of his demon’s desires and urges and delights.
She lays her head back and brings forth the vision of Angel on top of her, draining and filling her at the same time, and the deep, voluptuous ecstasy of surrendering to the fall.
She turns her head into the cushion and cries.
On Monday she’s the first to arrive.
Angel is sitting on the steps waiting, watching as she slowly opens the door and walks in.
He’s back in basic black, shirt open at the throat so she can see a smooth patch of pale perfection, and the ache begins all over again, an endless lump she has to constantly swallow against.
“Hey.” He says.
“Hey.” She replies as she steps down and walks across the lobby to her desk. He gets up and follows, and she has a fleeting thought of being surrounded by the dead.
“How’s your head?”
full of you
“Doing well enough.”
He pours her a cup of coffee and holds it out to her – long fingers wrapped around the ceramic. Fragrant steam rises from the cup. She looks at it and then looks up at him.
She takes the mug and brushes his fingers with hers, watching the trembling she feels echo in his hands.
She never thought there would be a point in their relationship where he could hurt her with a touch or a look, but here she is bleeding all over the floor of the hotel, his eyes spilling over her like a summer storm, full of thunder and lightning and sulfur.
When did she agree to star in someone else’s tragedy?
“Cordy.” He takes a step towards her, compelled by something he sees in her eyes.
Wesley has arrived.
Angel belays his advance and instead turns on his heel and walks around the counter, away from her.
Wesley comes in with fresh books and fresh enthusiasm and she sits at her desk to boot her computer, hand wrapped tightly around her coffee. Wesley is talking about hearing something from one of his underground sources, Angel answering when spoken to, slowly pacing in her periphreal.
She stares at the black void of her monitor as Wesley fades out.
The only sound she hears is the soft cadence of Angel’s voice.
Angel’s voice, his eyes, follows her as she moves, to her desk, to the bathroom, across the lobby.
She settles at her desk finally, with an ancient book, searching for a symbol, needing a reason not to gaze back at him, to reach out for him.
The vision stays at the back of her tired mind, warning her off, but she’s never needed a warning where Angel’s concerned.
She knows the dangers of loving him.
But now it feels as though she’s on a leash, straining and clawing, reaching for her own doom, aching for a taste of death.
She considers confiding in Wesley, busy translating more of the Wolfram and Hart Scroll, but he’s quietly absorbed in the text. His fingers brush the vellum gently, coaxing answers from the script.
Then a vision reaches for her, and she slumps against her desk top, hands clenched across the surface, eyes closed tight against the raging glimpse of hell.
She rides the tumult as best as she can, picking up what she needs, and when it lets her go the first thing she feels is his hands on her shoulders, sure as the rising sun.
Opens her eyes and sees him down in front of her, eyes searching her face.
Does he see something to draw, she wonders.
“Cordelia?” He prompts her softly, fingers pressing the bones of her shoulders, willing her to speak.
She realizes he’s waiting for her to tell him who needs help and where to go, and shame makes her hot under the skin. He’s still Angel, still willing to fight for good.
Through the pounding in her skull, she searches the disjointed images.
“There’s a vampire waiting for a couple to come home. He’s in the bushes in front of their apartment. 1450 West Circle Blvd.”
Wesley’s warm gaze is full of concern.
“Will you be okay?”
She nods, giving him a small smile of assurance, and he turns and heads for the weapons cabinet, already thinking of the mission ahead.
Angel won’t let her go, pressing his fingertips into her skin.
Wesley waits by the double doors, a sword in each hand.
He slides his palms down her arms in a caress that makes her quiver and shake.
“Go.” She whispers.
“Lie down,” he says as he gets up. “Get some sleep.”
One hungry vamp, and not very bright.
Angel makes short work of it, angry again at the cost to Cordelia, for this one runt of the undead litter.
Swinging the sword in one easy arc, he severs the head and then watches as the ashes settle over the shrubs and grass at the end of the block.
“That was easy.” Wesley says, sounding slightly disappointed.
Too damn easy.
fangs in her flesh, seeping, weeping wound, and she cries but he can’t hear, lost in ecstasy, teeth and cock tearing at her, and she screams but he can’t hear
She jerks from the dream, head up from the cradle of her arms.
Her skin tightens.
She’s not alone.
Something creeping, something craven.
Something floating in the corner of her eye.
Turning her head, she sees a drawing pinned to the cabinet door.
Her, blood drenched and dead.
Getting up, she tears it down, before Wesley or Gunn comes back, before anyone sees it.
She turns, staring into the half open doors of Angel’s office, seeing nothing but darkness and the shadowed outline of his desk.
Then a spot of diaphanous white appears between the wooden doors.
Cordelia focuses her eyes, finally seeing the white limbs and white blond hair.
Blood runs cold in her veins when the woman smiles, exposing her fangs, gleaming and sharp.
The Hyperion is quiet when Angel steps back through the entrance.
But he can smell Cordelia’s blood in the air, and closes his eyes, concentrating on its location.
He ascends quickly, feet barely touching the stairs, and rounds the corner in a blur.
Splintering the wood with his booted foot, he steps through the broken door, coming up sharply at the rich copper scent that stains the air in his suite.
Cordelia is lying across his bedspread, wearing a white nightgown so sheer, he can see the pale peach of her skin through the material.
Everything dims around him; everything important slips to the background.
All he can see is her, smell is her.
There’s a bite on the side of her throat, not a killing wound, but enough to make her bleed down into the empire collar of her gown.
Her head is turned to the side, eyes half open.
He whispers her name, terrified. For the unfocused look in her eyes, for the need that rises sharply in his gut, choking in his throat.
“A seer, darling boy, and yours.”
A hand winds its way around his collar, slipping over his skin as he stands frozen, afraid to move closer, unable to back away. Petite and deadly, Darla sways against his side, whispering softly of all the things he doesn’t dare think of.
“Take her like you dream of, Angelus, and release yourself from the chains that hold you back.”
Cordelia moans low in her throat, and he vamps, teeth aching, eyes coveting. He does want her, and he knows she wants him, though she tries to hide it, it shines from her every minute of every day.
“She does want you. She can lie, but her body doesn’t, her dreams don’t.”
The snake’s voice urges him closer and closer, and suddenly the toes of his boots are against his bed frame.
Cordelia lies before him like a sacrifice on an altar.
“All for you, love.”
He moves hesitantly at first, bending to crouch over her, then with more surety, moving up on the bed until he’s lying over her.
She kissed him once, trying to rid herself of the visions, but her pulse jumped all the same, and her lips tasted like sweet brandied pears.
Bending low, arms braced on either side of her head, he ghosts his mouth along her throat, gathering up traces of blood against his tongue, the taste exploding over his senses.
“Her blood is like wine, Angelus, sweetened by fear.”
Darla is a weight against his side, pressing him down over his seer, and he goes willingly, relishing the feel of her thighs against his, hipbone hard against his erection.
His teeth scrape the flesh of her throat.
“Bite her, give her what she’s been thinking of since she found your drawings.”
Pressing slightly, her flesh gives beneath the pressure of his fangs.
“That’s my boy.”
There is a rush of white noise right before he pushes his fangs in, a spray of blood hitting the back of his throat as Cordelia arches against him, her mouth open and her head back.
For one perfect moment, he is surrounded by her, drowning in her.
And then he’s pulled deeper.
holding her down, drinking from her neck and fucking her as she screams and claws his back, then it’s someone else, screaming and dying and pain ruptures his mind and he’s never been on this end before, helpless and hurt, begging for help that never comes-
The vision lets him go and he rears his head back, gasping with shock, staring down into Cordelia’s wide open and horrified eyes.