“Morning, Wes! Is the Grumpmeister up yet?” He glanced up at Cordelia from the pad he was writing on and frowned.
“Please, comments like that are really unnecessary.” The gentle chastisement reflecting in his face made her pause in her tracks across the lobby, and she had the grace to look apologetic.
“Sorry,” she sighed, continuing to walk over to him. “I brought you tea!” She held out the polystyrene cup with a repentant smile when he looked back up and took the proffered olive branch and smiled his thanks. Then it faded.
“I just think we should tread a little carefully for the time being,” he explained softly, glancing behind him at the vampire’s office, the door firmly closed. “Angel obviously has issues he is attempting to deal with, and continued inappropriate comments from you are just making it more uncomfortable for everyone.”
Cordy grimaced before pffting. “Angel’s always had issues. What’s so different this time?” She waved a hand in the air dismissively, and then caught Wes’ eye. “Okay, I’ll try not to do the ‘inappropriate’ thing,” she air quoted before puffing out a resigned breath and turning towards her desk.
As she did so, the office door opened and Angel emerged. “Have you seen the Evans file?”
His seer, who was busy rifling though her desk drawers, missed the irritation on Angel’s face, but she’d picked up his tone. Stiffening in annoyance, a small rebellious part of her refused to reply.
“Aha!” She held up the claret nail polish triumphantly and started opening the lid. Angel walked over to her desk impatiently.
“Cordelia! The Evans file?” Hazel eyes turned towards his and for a moment Angel was lost in the fire bringing out the flecks of gold in them. That wasn’t the kind of fire he wanted to see and for a split second, his mind wandered to memory of the hotly passionate gaze that held his in his dreams. A mental shake followed.
“Oh, you were talking to me?” she asked sarcastically, ignoring Wes’ soft sigh of exasperation and rising to her feet.
Shoving his clenched hands deep in his pants pockets, Angel watched her walk over to the filing cabinets. Right at this moment he honestly didn’t know whether he wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled or simply show her a new use for the flat surface of her desk. Either way, he had to contain the urge to put his hands on her.
He wondered where the hell these feelings came from when the reality before him proved his point, She’s irritating, self-centered, pushy, certainly not the soft, warm, willing, passionate woman of his dreams. Taking a step back, he resisted the urge of both and glanced longingly towards the stairs. He was just so damn tired, and didn’t need this right now.
But at the same time, he knew what would most likely happen if he went up and climbed into his bed. The Cordelia he really wanted would soon join him, or so he hoped. That shook him to the core. Angel could no longer deny that he wanted her. Not to himself. Not with the evidence that had left him aching and hard between his thighs, nor the explosive climax he’d had afterward just thinking of her heat, her mouth…. her blood. She was certainly passionate by nature, though not toward him; except for her tendency to snark.
It was the willing part where the line was drawn. He saw nothing of the raw passion he felt in her eyes. Not in the cold light of day. She seemed completely unaware of him as a man. To her, he was just a eunuch vampire. She’d said as much to his face and the urge to prove her wrong was just too damn much right now. Although bone-tired, Angel needed to quench the surge of adrenalin and he knew exactly how he could accomplish that safely.
“Wes, check that the details to the case are in order. I’ll be in the basement if I’m needed.” He turned his back on them both and walked quickly across the lobby, disappearing from sight, the basement door closing behind him seconds later.
As soon as the click sounded, Cordy changed direction and handed the file to Wes who instantly looked up and opened his mouth to speak. “Don’t say a word,” she ordered quickly. “Give me at least two long coffee moments first, ‘kay?” She didn’t wait for his reluctant nod and went over to her desk, plonking herself down a little too forcefully and reaching for her coffee, yanking off the lid, and taking a big gulp of the steaming liquid.
The heavy punching bag swung effortlessly at a regular pace as Angel hit it with restrained force. The last thing he wanted was a curious eye if the bag tore from the beam above and hit the wall behind.
Especially if it happened to be the curious eyes of a certain seer.
He moved around the bag as if dodging a foe, connecting time and again with measured blows. Muscles stretching, flexing, extending. The hard rap of his bare knuckles against the smooth leather surface. One, two. Side-step. Three, four. A practiced dance of skill, one his body knew so well that it took over.
The physical exertion felt good, but he couldn’t shake off the fog of tiredness that made his head ache constantly. Add that to the lingering memories of his dream. Remembering the way Cordelia felt straddling his thighs, her tight heat engulfing him as he savored her rich sweet blood… couldn’t get the image out of his head and his punches became erratic, making the bag judder drunkenly.
Several minutes later, his mind was yanked back to the present abruptly when the heavy weight of the bag swung back, hitting him solidly in the torso. He’d been so lost in his thoughts that he’d left himself open and caught the back swing. Good thing it had been the bag and not the sharp end of a sword.
Christ! What the hell was happening? Now he couldn’t even focus or concentrate on a simple task. With a disgusted grimace, Angel turned away from the bag and composed himself. Rubbing the back of his neck, he stared down at his boot-shod feet unseeingly. Several minutes of deep breathing accompanied a mental list of all the things that annoyed the crap outta him where the object of his lust was concerned. Then finally, he made his way up the wooden stairs.
“There’s no need to keep looking at me like a disappointed daddy,” Cordy leaned back in her chair and folded her arms tightly across her chest, but the expression on Wesley’s face didn’t waver.
“Okaayy, I’m sorry. Geez!” she huffed out looking both annoyed and penitent. “But would it have killed Angel to at least make an effort? He remembered your name okay.” Wes merely lifted a brow mutely.
“You can be so…” rising to her feet jerkily, Cordy began to pace back and forth angrily. “That manpire is getting on my last nerve. And how the hell do you do that?” she finally asked.
“Do what?” Wes folded his arms and leaned back in his chair as she waved her arms about erratically.
“Give me a total lecture without saying a word,” she said, glaring at him before pivoting on her heel and continuing with her restless pacing.
“Cordelia, please sit down, you’re making me dizzy,” unfolding his arms, he leaned his elbows on the desk, slouching forward, relieved when she heeded his words and pulled out a chair to sit opposite him.
“I’m really trying, you know?” Cordy scowled at his answering smile. “I mean, I’m trying to be the grown-up here; and believe me, I’m so not ready for that kinda mental strain,” she sighed dramatically. I’m just so fed up of seeing his grouchy face every time I come in,” she admitted, and the now serious expression on her lovely face wiped the faint smirk off his.
“With his nasty little comments and angry glares that just happen to come my way all the time,” she pointed out and raised a brow when Wes opened his mouth to dispute it; then closed it again with a snap when he realized it was actually true.
“And what’s with all this sleeping? It isn’t normal. Not that Angel is the poster boy for normal, I know, but you get what I’m saying, right?” She ran an impatient hand over her hair, brushing away wayward strands that had escaped her high ponytail. “All he does is sleep, fight the visions and take out his bad mood on me, which I already said, I know,” she got in quickly, “but it’s worth repeating.”
Wes resigned himself to merely listening as the words of resentment poured out, interspersed with threads of genuine worry. Better out than bottled up inside, he decided.
Pausing to draw breath, Cordelia took a moment to think about other things that hadn’t been ‘normal’; like Angel’s increasing habit of invading her personal bubble. The hair-sniffing had been bad enough. Feeling his cheek pressed against the top of her head, him openly inhaling her scent and the hands that had cupped her shoulders firmly, keeping her pinned to the chair. Only releasing his grip when she freaked out loud enough for Wes to hear.
That was one incident Wes was fully aware of, but there were many he wasn’t. Like the various times Angel had caged her in at the filing cabinets with his chest pressed against her back as he supposedly retrieved files. Looming at her desk, again crowding her in her seat. The frequent touching in itself was so unlike him. Angel had never been a touchy-feely kinda guy and Cordy had always been the one to invade his space in the past. But her touches had always been innocent and impulsive, like a hug of relief and so on, whereas his were most definitely not.
Then the other morning made all of that seem insignificant. Heat rushed into her cheeks and loins at the memory. That definitely was of the no-no kind. The worst thing was, each time he got close, her body responded, and then she’d had the task of reminding herself of all the reasons why a touchy-feely vamp-with-a-tenuous-soul was a bad, very bad thing.
“Cordelia? Are you still with us?” Wes finally asked as the silence dragged on a little too long. Watching her face as she’d sat there lost in her own thoughts had been interesting, as well as mystifying. The myriad of emotions that ran through her expressive eyes, and finally the rose flush that now stained her golden cheeks had him wondering where her thoughts had taken her.
“Gah! Sorry,” she grimaced and pulled her thoughts together. Note to self: no deep and inner scaries unless all alone.
“Basically, I’m fed up, which I think you got somewhere along the line of my Fed Up speech?” Wes nodded in agreement and she rose to her feet. “Well, I promise, I will to try to keep my temper and think before I speak; which I hope you realize is like asking an elephant to tiptoe,” she promised and watched the relief take over the earlier expression of concern.
“Thank you, Cordelia. That is all I ask—,” Wes began, only to be interrupted by her.
“But,” she warned, “I don’t know how much more I’m gonna take before I end up clonking him upside his grouchy head,” she walked across the lobby and made straight for the coffeepot, leaving him staring after her with a groan of exasperation.
The sturdy metal of the door handle began to bend out of shape just as Angel released it. Having overheard every word of Cordelia’s little rant, he stared at the paneled door for a long time, trying to decide whether or not to open it and enter the lobby, or go back downstairs to train some more.
He opted for the latter, turning abruptly, the defined lines of his face and body taut with strained control. Cordy’s voice echoed through his head as he descended and anger slowly boiled to the surface; the emotion eclipsing reason as he went over her words again and again, completely overlooking the concern lacing her acerbic tone.
As he again pummeled his fists into the punching bag, he thought about Cordelia being fed up with him. Talk about being tired and frustrated: he had the patent on that right now. Just once, he’d like to show her exactly how ‘not normal’ he could be. It was lucky for the little hellcat that he had a soul to restrain him!
That gave Angel pause. Dark and unacceptable thoughts whispered through his mind care of his demon all of the time, but lately those thoughts had gotten louder and hard to ignore, especially when he found himself considering just how easy it would be to follow through with them. He shuddered and renewed his assault on the bag almost desperately.