Splintered 2

Chapter 2

“Stand back, people! Sugar highs are here and the chocolate icing with extra sprinkles is mine.” Gunn’s entrance into the hotel, followed by his words was met with a: “Pfft. Dream on, buddy,” and a blur of silky brown hair and bright colors.

“Whoa, girl, let me get in before you jump on me,” Gunn grinned and held the confectionary box just out of reach until Cordelia changed tactics and stomped on his foot. “Ouch! No fair!” he whined, a tug of war now commencing on the slowly crumpling box.

Wes looked up from the book he was reading and rolled his eyes at their mini battle. He rose to his feet and approached them rapidly. “Now, children, there are enough here for everyone,” he chastised. Adding, “Let me settle this. I get the first one.” Grabbing the box with a smirk on his face, he walked quickly towards the counter while the others stood watching him with their mouths hanging open in disbelief.

“Dibs on the toffee filling!” Cordy galvanized into action, giving Gunn a shove and almost skipping across the lobby, a determined expression on her face.

Wes snatched his chocolate donut and quickly backed away from the box before she got there, smiling at the gleeful grin spreading across her pretty face as she grabbed two, before rushing to her desk and poking her tongue out at the young man who was now scowling into the box.

“Damn, how come I’m the one who picks these up, but ends up with the sugar-coated jelly ones?” Gunn pouted before shrugging fatalistically and taking a bite of one; holding another in his spare hand and turning towards Cordy.

Propping a hip on the corner of her desk, Gunn started explaining his role in the events of the previous night. Using the spare donut as an imaginary weapon, he described some of his cool moves. Wes went back to his book and left them to it, while Cordy leaned back in her chair and listened avidly, a big grin on her face.

He finished with a flourish of the donut, peppering his clothes with the powdered sugar in the process. Cordy burst out laughing, “Mister macho guy and his killer donut. Not feeling the fear, here.” She giggled, skimming her fingers over the donut and smearing the powder across his face.

Gunn growled and instantly rose to his feet, causing Cordy to dart out of her seat and run squealing across the lobby. He followed close behind, grinning evilly as he brandished the donut, tsking and shaking his head when she hid behind Wes.

“Take it like a man, Chase,” Gunn snickered, squeezing the donut a little until jelly oozed out of the side of the pastry. Wes instantly slid lower in his seat and held his book out of harms way.

As Gunn shot around the chair, Cordy shrieked and ran blindly- brought up short by a brick wall. “Oomph!” The arms attached to the brick wall reached up and latched onto her upper arms, putting a little distance between them. Cordy looked up, still giggling and slightly winded, her dazed gaze meeting very cool brown.

“Gunn brought donuts,” she said, feeling like a naughty child caught by a stern parent. Though the way her body reacted to his touch was hardly familial.

Angel had heard the commotion from his office and had eventually risen to his feet and entered the lobby to see what the hell was going on. The sight that met his eyes had left him not exactly happy. In fact, the easy atmosphere between Gunn and Cordy left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Nope. He didn’t like it. Angel didn’t stop to wonder why the scene twisted his gut. When Cordy had barreled into his body, and then looked up at him with an open, happy face, still giggling, it just made him angry, especially when all signs of those emotions faded and were replaced by discomfort as soon as she realized who she’d bumped into.

With a slight gasp, she pulled away from his grasp and looked down, making a show of straightening her blouse and skirt before hurriedly trotting back over to her desk. Gunn, still grinning, took a bite out of the squished donut and joined her to prop himself back on the corner of her desk.

For a split second, rage blinded Angel, “Don’t you have work to do?” his voice tight and hard. Cordy grimaced then leaned towards Gunn.

“Geez, what crawled up his ass?” Although the words were low, Angel heard them clearly, his spine stiffening when Gunn chuckled in response.

She just didn’t know when to keep her pretty little mouth shut. Irrationally, Angel started to think about ways to make it happen and stopped abruptly when he realized what he was doing. He put it down to being so damn tired. Too tired to deal with her properly right now.

That thought passed over his head, not even registering the import of his words. “I’m going back to bed,” Angel turned towards the stairs, not even waiting for a reply, but one was given nonetheless.

“You already got out of bed on the wrong side one time today. Are you trying for round two?” Cordy asked, even as she glanced at the lobby clock and frowned. It was only 3pm. He’d only been up for a couple of hours and even then he’d shut himself in his office.

Angel didn’t bother to reply, but his hand tightened against the banister, fingers curling in reflexive response to her words, until he felt the creak of wood beneath his palm. Instantly he released it.

Halfway up, he heard Gunn speak. “Time to go, need to do that follow-up for English.” He straightened up and stretched until his spine popped.

Cordy nodded and smiled, watching him walk towards the main exit, and then he turned back abruptly. “Don’t forget. Eight o’clock, right?”

Nodding, Wes added, “And it’s Cordelia’s turn to buy the first round,” resulting in her reluctant harrumph of agreement.

Giving him the thumbs up for remembering, Gunn nodded with a smirk, “Catch you then. Later.”

Angel had paused as soon as Gunn’s words registered. So they were going out on a regular basis. He couldn’t even remember the last time Cordy had attempted to persuade him to go out socially. Not that he enjoyed going; it was the fact that she didn’t even ask him anymore that got to him. He chalked it up to yet another thing on a long list of things that annoyed the hell out of him where Cordelia was concerned and continued up the stairs with heavy feet.

***

Sleep… he longed for it, but it was elusive. Finding that deep, dark sanctuary where he was free of guilt and rage and desire. The place he could rest. Silk sheets clung to Angel’s skin as he tossed and turned. Consciousness drifted. Images free-floated in the midst of his mind and suddenly she was there again.

“There’s my boy,” honey tones dripped as Darla sinuously approached from the periphery of his vision.

Angel stood at the outer boundary of a sun-dappled garden, shadows along its edges blending with the deepest of starlit nights. She came to him from the darkness. He turned his head, the slow-motion effect blurring until his vision cleared and he knew she was there beside him. Beautiful and deadly, a golden goddess of the night dressed in a black satin sheath. His lover. His partner in death whose taste for viciousness was exceeded only by his own.

In his mind, he didn’t question the fact that she should be dust. Darla was there with her perfumed pale skin and expert touch. Her words tempted him, taunted, and reminded him of nights of ecstasy and death when those things were one and the same.

“Come to me, my Angel,” she said, curling her fingers along his jaw to keep his focus. “Let me show you the kind of pleasure you’ve been missing.”

He kissed her first, not giving up control. If she wanted it, she’d have to take it from him. Darla shoved him away, laughed and circled around. “You know what you want, darling.”

“I know,” he started to say as his sire vanished behind him, her hands smoothing over the planes of his back. Yes, he knew what he wanted.

Turning his head, Angel waited for her to reappear on his other side, but it was Cordelia who twirled around into his arms. Life and laughter filled her face with joy, a smile blooming across her lips. She palmed his cheek in her hand. “I’ve got something to show you.” Grinning, she proceeded to tug on his arm as she led him toward her garden.

Angel couldn’t follow. He pulled her back toward him, shocked that she would try to bring him there into the light. Tumbling her back into his arms, he encircled her waist, hands roving over the ivory satin sheath she wore. “I can’t. Stay here with me,” he pleaded with a sense of urgency.

She indulged him with a smile, those plush lips tempting him. Angel wanted them crushed beneath his. He had to kiss her and the need to do so now was suddenly more than he could bear. Slipping along the gentle curve of her spine, he pressed Cordelia close so that the natural warmth from her body heated his. One hand spread between her shoulder blades while the other wandered up to stroke his fingers against her cheek.

“So beautiful,” Angel muttered softly, allowing himself the pleasure of looking as long as he wanted: golden skin, lustrous dark hair, her warm and sparkling eyes, those luscious curves that seemed to be made for his hands. Her face tilted to his and Angel’s mouth came within a whisper of hers when Darla’s voice, still molten honey, sounded in his ear.

“Remember Romania? In front of the fire with the gypsy girl,” she made it sound almost romantic. It wasn’t, just hedonistic. Taking whatever and whomever they wanted as they always did in what manner that pleased them. Darla reminded him of that, too. “She was bound and gagged. You took her right there.”

Angel glanced down at Cordelia who quietly regarded him with those warm hazel eyes. He felt a frisson of fear leap inside him, but she sensed it. “That’s not you anymore,” she promised and moved again to pull him toward her sunny garden. “There is so much good in you if you’d only believe in it.”

A husky laugh followed from his left. Darla grabbed onto his other arm to hold him in place. “She doesn’t know you like I do, Angelus. What’s deep down inside you: the darkness. It festers there. It wants out.”

His inner demon; Angel knew what she meant. The instincts she’d created within him. The drive to kill, drink, create pain and wallow in pleasure: it was all far too easy to remember. Part of him missed that, craved it.

“You remember that gypsy girl,” Darla purred as he tensed in reaction, his body taut as she sidled up to him. “You sucked down her blood until she was dry.”

Sounding her complaints, “Can anyone say ‘eeewww’?” Cordy drew an amused smirk from Angel. She moved close again, her palms against his ribs. “You’re a hero now. Just come with me. I know what you want. Be a man. Come with me.”

Darla started nibbling at his ear, her lips sucking at the fleshy lobe even as Cordy urged him to ignore his sire and follow her. Instinctively, he leaned closer to the woman in his arms. Tempting, something about Cordelia was so tempting to him. So warm. So beautiful and full of life. Just touching her made his body stir as he let his fingers trail across the silky bare skin of her shoulders and down to the full curves of her breasts.

But the hand that dipped below the waistband of his boxers wasn’t hers. Angel’s head whipped in Darla’s direction; he was annoyed at first until her ministrations and lustful expression distracted him. “You and I are one,” she said. “Take me, just take me. You can have anything you want. I’ll even give you her.”

Anger returned as Darla stepped back, moving further into the darkness behind her. He followed, intending to tell her precisely what he wanted, but the night swallowed him as he moved away from the garden’s shadowy boundary. It only seemed right to shed his human mask here in the dark. If his irritation showed when he shoved Darla back onto the bed so conveniently placed there, she was too eager to pretend that it bothered her.

“Don’t threaten Cordelia,” he spoke to her for the first time, a snarl sounding as he pushed Darla backward.

Golden hair splayed out against the blood red sheets as she gripped his arms. Darla pulled him closer still. “Always the protector,” she murmured against his mouth. “Who takes care of you?”

Angel stared down at her, silent. Confidently, Darla smiled at him. “I do, my boy. Not that silly seer. I know what you want. Take it.” She used a fingernail to open up a streak of blood along her throat. “Take it.”

He resisted for countless seconds, just scenting it on the air, until the thick blood pooled in the hollow of her throat. His head descended slowly, tongue lapping up the lukewarm liquid, his mouth following the open trail to latch on and sink his teeth into her flesh.

That taste. He remembered it: dark and familiar. Angel yanked her closer, sitting them up with her legs straddling his lap as he drank down long, slow gulps. One hand fisted her hair, holding Darla in place.

“Everything you want,” she promised him on a husky moan, letting him take it.

Yes, the thought resonated in his head as the blood warmed in his mouth. What he wanted. The thought caused a sudden hot rush of blood to pulse along his lips, its taste pure ambrosia; sweet, succulent, full of life & endorphin-rich with pleasure and just a hint of fear. His fangs tingled at the buttery softness of the warm living flesh surrounding them and accompanied the dual ache down low in his loins.

He knew this wasn’t Darla anymore. Cordelia’s scent surrounded him. He was awash with it. From her blood to her arousal to the soft sheen of feminine sweat glistening across her skin. Her taste was in his mouth awakening buds dulled by years of animal blood. Her lusty keening sounded in his ears as her tight heat held him inside her, their bodies now merged and moving as one.

Yes, it was almost everything he wanted. Only he wanted more. Angel gripped her to him, drinking deeper. At the first startled sound of pain, he realized just what he was doing. This was Cordelia. Cordy. It was Cordy.

Horrification and panic hit like lightning. Not again. Not like this. He awakened with a shout, eyes sweeping across his bed expecting to find her sprawled out next to him, unconscious or worse. Only, she wasn’t there. She’d never been there. It was just a dream.

A very vivid dream.

Angel ran a hand over his face, rubbing at his tired eyes. He felt so drained and yet one part of him was obviously not feeling it. It wasn’t dreaming about Darla that did this to him. Realizing that Cordy was the target of his lustful, demonic-driven dreams confused and scared him even as his body ached with need.

Though his legs were tangled in the top sheet, the tenting effect beneath the thin barrier was all too clear. Angel threw the covers aside and glowered at the source of his frustrations. Staring at it did not make his erection disappear. Beneath his boxers, it twitched for attention, but he was determined to ignore the temptation to touch himself and ease the low ache gripping him.

He’d been dreaming about Cordy. This was no time to indulge in fantasies he had no place considering. All that long, glossy hair filling his hands. If he just lay here quietly long enough, the matter would go away on its own. Her golden skin. Just how long he had no idea. Those curves his hands longed to explore.

So maybe he’d considered it before. Briefly. Now and then. Never dreamt about it. He’d certainly never imagined her naked in his arms, with him buried inside her as she bared her throat for him. He couldn’t want that. Not from her. Not Cordy.

One cold shower, he thought. It might wake him up; bring back the sense he had so obviously lost when he crawled into bed. Only Angel didn’t feel like moving. He was too tired to stop himself from letting his hand rub along the aching stiffness of his erection. A deep purr rumbled in his chest; that felt good. So good. Too good.

Angel’s hand darted away as he lectured himself again, but he could still hear the echo of Cordy’s pleasured moans in his ears, still feel the warmth of her touch on his skin. She’d been so close, surrounding him, her body pressed along his. Her fingers splayed across his chest just over his unbeating heart as the other hand curled around the nape of his neck and then she had offered him the turn of her throat. He could see it all again, it was so clear in his mind.

The flat of his hand pressed down on the taut muscles of his abdomen, inching downward past his navel and beneath the elastic waistband of his boxers. Slowly, his fingers slid through the springy bush of curls to grip his turgid shaft, seeking release. Stifling the growl that threatened, he let out a long, slow breath. Blood stirred, creating a false pulse in the taut flesh beneath the palm of his hand, swollen and sensitive.

Arching into it, Angel closed his eyes and pulled off the boxers with his free hand. He dropped them on the bed, hardly noticing where they fell, his mind already turned to the pleasurable slide of his hand up and down the thick column. Fingers teased the crowning tip and its foreskin, wandering down to the heavy sac below as he pumped with a steady pace.

No matter that he tried to think of nothing but the sensation, Angel kept flashing back to the dream, to images of Cordelia. Standing there in his arms. Smiling at him. Straddling his lap. Her name was a whisper on his lips as he stroked himself. A needy sound full of want, confusion, even desperation.

“Think of Darla,” he growled in anger, knowing that he had no right to think of his friend this way. He’d been dreaming about her, too. His sire was the subject of enough lusty memories to fuel countless fantasies, but he couldn’t even picture her face.

The more he fought it, the more elusive his climax seemed to be, but Angel was not ready to just accept the fact that he wanted Cordelia. She might be beautiful, she might be his friend, but how much friendlier was she with them these days. She could also be an irritating pain in the ass determined to have her way with things. Always talking too much. Never listening.

Oh, the things he could do to get her to stay quiet. That mouth, so lush, tempting with its soft curves. No trouble envisioning her. So vivid. So real. Cordelia kissed her way along his jaw and down the column of his throat, her hands smoothing over his chest. He flipped her over, tumbling them across the mattress until he lay above her. Those long golden legs wrapping around him as he made a feast of her mouth with deep, wet kisses.

Gruff denial sounded as his hand gripped tighter, his teeth clenching together as he reacted to the increasing friction. Angel knew that his dream alone might have desecrated his own definition of their friendship, but this: consciously thinking of Cordelia while bringing himself off to her imaginary moans and eager actions… he couldn’t deny how good it felt.

Even that had been good, so good. The taste of her blood in his mouth, her pulse beneath his lips, her life pouring against his tongue. He would never really… but it felt so… he needed… she’d be so… with her tight heat taking him in.

His body flexed, curling up as his hand pumped furiously, eyes rolling back as his climax hit with such intensity that he lost all control of his features. Bone shifted, fangs elongated and the added physical release only made the aftershocks of pleasure even more intense. Angel collapsed back against the pillows, breathless because it took too much energy to keep up the pretense of it.

Physically and mentally drained, Angel was far from satisfied. Sated, perhaps, for the moment, but now his curiosity was piqued. Why Cordelia? His seer seemed far too occupied with their newest ally. Angel had only himself to blame as he had been the one to bring Gunn into the fold.

Recognizing that it was jealousy gnawing at him, Angel shook it off even as he shook off his vampiric features and returned to his controlled human appearance. This was all ridiculous. There was nothing to be jealous about. He’d make sure of that. Right now, he just needed to sleep. Yes, to sleep. It eluded him, that deep, dark, dreamless place where he could rest.

***

Darla stood with her back to Lindsey, who watched her almost hungrily as the sunlight framed her body, turning her fair hair into a halo of spun gold. “He’s falling apart,” her naturally sultry voice was laced with satisfaction.

Walking around his desk, Lindsey stopped only when scant inches separated her slender back with his chest. “That’s wonderful.” And he meant it. “Unhinging a man with his particular… strengths and weaknesses takes a lot of work.”

As she glanced over her shoulder, looking up at him with a slight smirk on her lovely face, Darla preened, “I created a lot of those strengths and weaknesses. I think I have a pretty good handle on them.”

“We’re counting on that.” Irked, the young lawyer took a step back. The passion she obviously felt for the vampire reflected in her eyes. “You’ve given us more information on Angel than we had when he first got here. Nobody knows him better than you do. Especially the side we’re interested in,” he added, pulling his mind back to the purpose of their project.

Darla turned to face him and closed the gap. “So, what is the plan exactly? I tease him to death?” running her fingers along his lapel and watching with mild interest at the slight flush that quickly tinted his cheekbones.

“We don’t want him dead. We want him dark,” he reminded her softly, “and there is no better way to a man’s dark side than to awaken his… nastier urges, is there?”

Pouting with annoyance, Darla dropped her hand and turned back to the window. “We have a little problem, though, my dear Lindsey,” her voice slithered along his skin and he reveled in it. As a human, she drew out emotions and physical wants with ease. He shuddered to think of the power she’d hold over him if ever she returned to the demon she once had been.

“From where I’m looking, everything is going as planned,” he finally replied confidently, and then paused, “but tell me anyway.”

“His seer.” Her hand reached out towards the glass, fingers spreading until her palm lay flat against the sun-warmed barrier. “She’s lately had guest spots in his dreams,” her mouth twisted with jealousy. With her face averted, Lindsey missed it, but couldn’t fail to notice the emotion reflected in her soft voice and it burned. “In fact, I lost him last night. He preferred to tango with his new chew toy.”

“I don’t see that as a problem. More as a potential opportunity,” Lindsey grinned with pure delight as various scenarios filled his imagination. Lifting his good hand to squeeze her fragile shoulder soothingly, “Just imagine… the Power’s champion loses it and drains his link dry.” The very thought twisted his smile into pure malice.

Continuing, he chuckled close to her ear with barely stifled glee, “If we’re lucky, he’ll go as far as turning her. The Senior Partners will be ecstatic.” Lindsey imagined the rewards, but his own ambitions blinded him to Darla’s cold reaction as she stared out of the window with unseeing eyes, her pale face outwardly expressionless.

Chapter 3

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