She saw him struggling with himself. Some internal battle. And felt a need to reach out and smooth his brow. To bring him comfort in any way. She waited while he collected his thoughts. Angel unable to sit, began pacing the small living area.
“I’ve only had to do this once before. And it’s still wasn’t under the same circumstances. So I most likely will really screw it up.”
He continued his pacing. Trying to find the least most shocking part of who he wais.
“I know. Just….gimme a minute…”
“You know……that there is pure evil in the world….vampires, demons…..”
“Yeah. Just had a crash course in that subject…”
“But what you don’t know is that there are also demons that *aren’t* evil.”
“No. I’m serious Cordelia. There are creatures out there that go about their business everyday and never harm a soul. Some, even, try and help humans.”
“You’ve got to be kidding? Demons? Help us? Why would they?”
“Just like there can be evil in a human, there can also be goodness in a demon.”
“You *really* are serious about this…..Okay, let’s say there are ‘good’ demons. What do they want? I mean from us? If they don’t want to rip us limb from limb for fun or find us rather tasty with ketchup, then what?”
“They don’t want anything. I mean, other than to live their lives in peace.”
“Live their lives?……. Live their lives?! What kind of ‘life’ do they have?”
“They’re not much different than humans. They work, find mates, have children…..”
“Oh my God. This is really way more then I *ever* wanted to know…..”
“It’s a lot to take in….”
“Hoo boy, it is!”
“Okay, so what does this all have to do with you?”
“Some time ago, I was in Romania…”
“Boy you get around, don’t ya?”
“Yea, I did…..Well I was there and there was a band of Gypsies….”
“Okay, *now* you’re telling fairy tales….”
“I did……..something, to one of the daughters……and because of it they put a curse on me…..”
Cordelia opened her mouth to let fly another flippant comment, when she looked into his eyes. So much pain, so much suffering. She didn’t understand. Why was this man, so young, so tortured? What is it that made her heart ache for him so?
“What was it?”
“They cursed me with a soul…..”
“How could they…I mean, didn’t you already have…I don’t understand….”
It was physically painful for him to speak the next words. He felt his demon dance with glee at what he was about to admit. He knew the next thing he said would drive this beautiful creature out of his life forever.
“The night I was cursed, I *was* a demon without a soul……..”
Disbelief was the first emotion to pass through her. Then came astonishment. And she waited for the revulsion, the fear and panic that was sure to follow….but it never came. She sat, looking at this man, a man that had helped save the lives of herself, the slayer and her friends. A man who had touched her heart and lit her passion on fire with a kiss. A man who was really not even a man at all. And the last emotion to wash over her was compassion. Compassion for the grief and suffering that was now coming off him in waves.
She rose, and he knew she would walk out the door. He couldn’t watch. He hung his head and let the shamefulness engulf him. But he never heard more than a few foot steps, never heard the door open or close. Her tender hand was laid on his head, her soft body, sat, pressed against his side. And her arm reached around him and pulled him to her, laying his head on her breast, his arms coming around her waist. And she held him, for a minute, an hour, a year, he did not know.
All he knew was…..she had stayed.
One arm wrapped around his shoulder, the other hand caressing his cheek, Cordelia cradled this half broken man and in the time he lay against her he slipped quietly into her heart.
Neither knew how much time had passed as they held each other in the stillness of the night. They did know that nothing would ever be the same for them again. Cordelia stood, urging Angel up with her arms and walked him to the bed. She took his coat from him and laid it on the chair, then quietly unbuttoned and removed his shirt. He was still for all of this, like a small child. When she gently pressed him to sit down on the bed his eyes rose and met hers.
“Don’t.” She said. “Tomorrow.” She knelt before him and removed his shoes and socks, laying them neatly by the wall. And then turned and walked into the bathroom and softly shut the door. He took her offer of privacy and removed his pants. Pulling down the blankets and sheets he climbed into bed. Exhausted and disconcerted, unknowing what she was going to do.
He heard the bathroom door open and padded foot steps. The light was switched off and he saw her figure move toward the bed. Silhouetted against the faint moonlight he looked upon the beauty of this woman and his heart ached with it. Silently she slipped under the covers and into his arms. He relished the feeling of skin sliding against skin, her legs entwining in his. Laying her head on his chest, her hair cascading over his arm, she curled into him. Both of his arms encircling her, his cheek settling atop her head and slowly and contentedly they fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Angel came to his senses slowly, which was odd. Normally he came fully awake at once, body tensed, eyes snapping open. Today he felt the need to snuggle down in the covers. To just lay here in the warmth of the bed. Warm bed. Warm body. He flexed his hand and found that it was full with a warm soft breast. He slid his leg up and felt his knee brush soft curls. His erection twitched and realized it was nestled against more warm flesh.
The memories of last nights events rushed back to him. The Bronze, the sensing of her, the dance they shared, the kiss, the talk. A sliver of despair shot through him as he thought about what he had tried to tell her. He felt the familiar pooling of guilt in his gut, he’d made her accept what he really was. No. He hadn’t made her accept it. She just….did.
Cordelia stirred. She felt a heavy weight laying over her side. She was holding a very masculine hand in her own and that hand was cupping her breast. Along with a very manly leg wedged inbetween her thighs.
His deep, sleep filled voice murmured next to her ear.
Turning toward him, she laid on her back, her hand never leaving his, his never leaving her skin. Her eyes blinked slowly as she took in his face, studying it, memorizing it. High cheek bones, square jaw, sculpted lips, deep set, intense, dark eyes. His hair was tousled, his jaw had stubble. And he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.
“Good morning to you too.”
She was soft and supple, radiating heat. His body ached with a fire all it’s own. A need to dissolve into her, become a part of her rose up in him. A wanting his body had never known, alive or un-dead.
Tracing his fingers on the underside of her breast, she closed her eyes and her lips parted in a breathy sigh. Angling his head, pressing a soft open mouth to hers, he gave her the barest of kisses. Her tongue darted out to touch his just as he was pulling away. That small gesture caused him to tremble and languidly plunge into her mouth.
Cordelia’s hands crept up to the back of his head, delving into his hair, pressing him closer. His thumb scraped across the hardened peak of her breast, her back arching in response to his touch. He broke the kiss and nibbled at the side of her mouth, down her jaw line and across her neck. His mouth latched on to a spot just behind her earlobe, alternating between sucking and running his blunt teeth over the area, bringing her to the point of panting. Leaving a wet trail, his tongue traveled the column of her throat to her collar bone and down to her right breast, laving the already hardened nipple. Her hands, still tangled in his hair, dragged him into her. He drew her breast deep into his wet mouth and she could feel the pull of it in her loins making her hips lift in response.
He placed his open hand around the curve of her ribs and with the slightest of pressure he traveled the flat plane of her stomach. His fingers reached the soft curls that rested between her thighs. He delved in and with two fingers parted her folds and exposed the distended nub that throbbed there. Placing a finger on each side he squeezed and simultaneously pulled back. Exerting more pressure his fingers slide back down and up again. Groaning deep in her throat, she tossed her head from side to side, fisting her hands in the sheets. As his hand moved lower again, one finger found her hot, slick opening and delved inside. Her passage was so tight. Her walls clenched down making it tighter as he began a rhythm of moving in and out of her.
The small sounds coming from her mouth combined with the scent of her arousal threatened the release of his demon visage. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold his human face. Raw need ravaged his gut, he had to stop before the mind numbing hunger overtook him completely.
He suddenly rolled his body away from her. Making her feel bereft of its loss. He lay on his back, sheets pooled around his waist, eyes squeezed shut. He tensed his body and clutched his hands into fists physically forcing the monster to retreat.
Cordelia watched him with wide eyes. Seeing his whole body break out in a sweat, it was obvious to her that he was in pain. Her soul cried out to him, wanting to take that pain inside herself. Moments passed and slowly his body began to relax, his face smoothed out but his fists were still clenched at his side.
He heard her speak his name but could not answer. Another wash of shame poured over him. His mind raced, needing to find some suitable lie to tell her but coming up with none. He sat up, putting his elbows on his knees he dropped his head into his hands. Once again he felt her reach out to comfort him, her gentle touch moving soothingly up and down his back. It was too much, her compassion. He shut his eyes and a tear slid slowly down his cheek.
“Angel. Please, look at me…”
The sweetness of her voice, full of caring, sunk into his soul. Touching something in him that he knew he could never have and did not deserve. In a flash he was filled with a rage, knowing what he must deny himself! He leapt out of the bed, dragging the sheet half way with him. Trying to cover herself she pulls her knees up to hide her nakedness, while he turns and stands before her.
“Did you know what you were sleeping next to Cordelia!?! Hunh!?! Did you!?! Well let me tell you! You were letting a murderer, a rapist, a twisted thing with no conscience, a demon! put his hands and mouth on you! Did you enjoy it!?! Because I did! You have no idea the things I want to do to that ripe, lush body of yours! Immoral, wicked things! Things that would make you cry out in pain and pleasure, never knowing which! What about my ‘true’ face!?! You want to see what I really am!?!”
In one stride he had her, grabbing her by the shoulders he lifted her up, her knees barely touching the bed. He let a menacing growl escape his mouth as he let his demon half take over. Squeezing her forearms even tighter, he shaked her so hard her head snapped back.
“Is this what you want touching you!?! Is it!?!”
Amber eyes glow and white fangs glisten, waiting for her to display her disgust. Slowly she raised her head, her eyes blazing with a fury of her own.
Shock loosens his grip on her and she wrenched her arms out of his hold. In his maddened state he had failed to realize that he could not sense any fear coming from her. Her angry stare pierced him as she climbed off the bed. He stumbled back from the raging beauty standing before him. She took a step closer.
“How dare you.”
And another step.
“Did you think you could just bully me into leaving? If you didn’t want me here, you just needed to ask me to leave. If you’re doing this for some perverse pleasure, than guess what? I’m not gonna play your little game.”
Another step closer and she was face to face with him. Bodies only a breath away, she stared him down.
“Your head is so fucked up, you don’t even know what you are. Whatever your deal is, I will not be treated like a piece of dirt to be ground under your foot. You got that?”
Stunned beyond belief, his face morphed back to it’s human form. They stood there, toe to toe in the dusky light filtering through the curtains.
Neither knowing what the other’s next move would be.
Cordelia stood with fists clenched at her side, mouth shut tight in anger, eyes blazing with temper. She watched as the demonic face dissolved and Angel’s human face appeared. Eyes wide, jaw slack he simply stared at her. Cordelia fought the urge to pummel him with her fists as her indignation swelled in her again mixed with the passion he had just so recently stirred in her. That he had dared to shame her, make her feel dirty for sharing her body with him was beyond cruel. She didn’t know why he’d done it but she was sure as hell going to find out.
“What the hell is your brain damage? One minute you’re all over me and the next you go all psycho. I want a god- damned explanation and I want it now. I don’t care if you are half demon or whatever, it doesn’t give you the right to try and make me feel like shit.”
“I’m a vampire.”
“Yea, I guessed that, what with the bumpy head and pointy teeth.”
“I-I’m sorry.” He said, bowing his head in contrition.
“Oh! No way are you gettin off with that! I want to know what the *hell* just happened.”
Folding her arms over her chest she realized she was standing there completely naked and so was he. Her eyes wandered from the crown of Angel’s bowed head, down the front of his very expansive chest. Unable to stop herself she continued down his abdomen and stopping at his very large…
She whirled around and grabbed the rumpled sheet from the floor. Wrapping it around her she then grabbed the blanket and tossed it at him.
His head came up as the blanket hit him in the chest.
The corner of her mouth twitched.
“This might be a little easier if all our bits and pieces aren’t hanging out.”
She returned to the bed, bunching the bottom of the sheet so she could sit with her legs crossed. As soon as she’d situated she looked at Angel again. He was still standing there staring at her with his mouth hanging slightly open.
“What? I told you I wanted an explanation and I expect to get one. Now get your un-dead ass over here and spill it.”
“Just because you’re not getting any older doesn’t mean I’m not. Now sit.”
The commanding tone, which he hadn’t heard directed at him since he’d been alive, spurned his movements. Wrapping the blanket around his waist he trudged over and sat at the bottom of the bed.
“Okay, start at the beginning.”
“Yeah, I wanna know how you got…..like this.” She said flipping both her hands at him.
“Yes. And are you going to echo everything I say?”
“Just tell the story.”
And he did. He told her of a happy child hood with loving family and friends. Told her of a Father/Son relationship that had turned bitter and cruel. He told her of a defiant young man, full of bravado and selfishness. And he told her of the night he died.
Completely immersed in the telling of it, Angel sat completely still as the memories came to him one by one and he formed them into words. He wove a story for her so rich with people, emotions, colors, sounds, that Cordelia sat enraptured with it.
The sun dipped low and turned the California sky a burnt orange and crimson. As dusk fell, the room started to darken. Angel’s last words of crawling his way out from his grave trailed off into silence.
He had watched her face as he told the story of his life. Watched the myriad emotions wash over her. Her look gentle in his remembrance of his Mother and Sister. Her eyes twinkling as he spoke of the mischief he’d gotten into as a boy. The sadness as the rift formed and grew between him and his Father. Her outright laughter at his antics in the taverns. And the sweet, sweet sorrow that filled her as he recounted his death. And he watched as her eyes filled and one after the other of her tears fell down her cheeks. Unheeded, unchecked, she wept for him, as none other had.
Going to her he pulled her onto his shoulder and lay down with her. Soothing her as she had him. Ever so gently she reached up and lay her hand on his chest, covering his un-beating heart.
“how long has it been…..since you felt your heart beat….”
“so long ago.
“and your soul…..”
He thought back on the loneliness, the self imposed isolation. The excruciating journey that had brought him to this day, here, with her.
“where were you all this time”
“hiding. from myself, from the world”
“what made you stop”
“a fulfillment of a promise”
They lay quietly. And he wondered how to tell her about the prophesy. A prophesy about him and a slayer and the destruction of the world. An edict stating that he must stand by her side and give her strength until she could stand on her own.
For if he does not, in her final battle, she will lose and humanity will die