“Don’t say a word.” Cordy refused to turn round and face the silent Vampire.
So much for Harmony turning over a new leaf!
The night had been a disaster. Within minutes of entering the Cinema, the blonde Vampire had changed her mind and betrayed them. They followed her in and were set up and surrounded by more Vampires that could be counted.
Harmony had tried to kill her, but even after that, Cordy couldn’t bring herself to dust the ditzy blonde; the bitter taste of yet another loss had come surging up, so she’d let her go – with an extracted promise of never showing her lying face again.
Angel hadn’t said one word – which, in a way, was much harder to take. He’d been right, and it galled her to the point where she couldn’t look at him. So she walked away quickly and, by some miracle managed to grab a cab that happened to be cruising by. She glanced out of the rear window, watching him watch the cab drive away… …
Angel paced the length of his bedroom angrily. She’d just walked away – Fuck!
He’d had to stop himself from grabbing her and shaking the life out of her. Stubborn little- snarling with frustration, Angel ran his fingers roughly through his hair, and ran their earlier conversation through his mind.
“Just hired muscle”… “Slayer’s little puppy” … he growled with renewed rage; had she really said that to the blonde Vampire? Cordelia also rarely cursed crudely, but lately that had changed when it came to him.
“You still think you’re better than her because you have a soul? – After what you did?” … “Never forget that I’m only here for Wesley, Gunn and the Mission. So leave me the fuck alone!”… “Fuck you, Angel”
“Don’t tempt me,” he repeated softly under his breath. The way he was feeling right now – it was better that he hadn’t followed her home, which was his first instinct when she sped off in that cab; not even wanting to share a car with him.
Well; actually, he had followed her, after dropping off the others, and had sat outside her apartment block for half an hour; a death grip on the steering wheel the only thing stopping his flight to her door…kicking it down and showing her a side she wouldn’t forget in a hurry…
When his thoughts had turned to even darker places, with images of his fangs sliding into the soft warm flesh of her throat, the Vampire knew that the best thing he could do right then was to go home and calm down. A lot!
He flung himself onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. So many regrets. He wondered if things would have gone a little better if he hadn’t given in to the urge to spank her? Considering her words beforehand he doubted it – plus, he just couldn’t truly bring himself to regret what he’d done – better that than what he really wanted to do to her! Just the thought made his body painfully hard. Groaning heavily, he rolled over onto his front; his face rippling until hard ridges took place of smooth lines.
“Yeah right …take her hard and fast – that would have solved ALL our problems.” Angel muttered into the soft coverlet below his face; but the crushing guilt of his earlier, stifled urges didn’t stop his body aching with wretched disappointment.
He would have lost her completely then. That thought was like a drenching flood of icy water in his face.
Time to think of something that didn’t involve physical action. Touching her lately brought very bad thoughts to his confused mind, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore his inner Demon’s wants and needs. There had to besomething else he could do to get things back to how they were…well not exactly; there was something extra he wanted:
Her. Willing. Love shining from those beautiful eyes as she looked at him…from her place beneath his hard, demanding body; taking everything he had to give, and returning it with an equally intense passion-
“Fuck!” sitting up abruptly, Angel shook his head roughly, cursing his body’s response to the images that flooded his brain. There had to be another way. He doubted that little fantasy would *ever* become a reality. Time to think of something more practical.
” You didn’t just hurt me. You gave away my clothes.” her soft, pained voice echoed in his head, and after a moment’s hesitation, he got to his feet and left the room… …
Cordy groaned aloud as she reached out a clumsy hand to halt to shrieking of her alarm clock. Falling onto her back, she stared groggily at the ceiling, going over the scene she’d walked away from last night – well, this morning!
“Don’t tempt me!” the dark threat in the Vampire’s gold-flecked eyes had sent a shudder down her spine. The fact that the sensation hadn’t been all bad, confused her already stressed mind.
“Well the hell is wrong with me?” she muttered angrily. Getting off on a side of her ex- friend that should have had her running from him in fear and disgust.
Well, she had run – but not for the reasons she should have been having.
His manhandling of her earlier that evening still sent a tingle of heat shooting to her groin, almost obliterating the anger and outrage at his actions. Then to have him crowd her against that wall…those sinful eyes whispering bad, bad things to her vivid imagination.
“Dammit! It’s just Angel! Mister brood-a-minute; part time psycho…with a cool hard body like a God, and brown eyes that just eat you up from the inside. I need help!” she finished, whimpering with combined fear and arousal.
Throwing off the covers, Cordy made her way to the bathroom, determined to ignore those traitorous whispers and face the day like any other. She was not going to let him get to her.
“Ignore him; I can do that! Stick close to the others, and do what I’m paid a pittance for.” She turned on the shower and shed her shorts and tank top rapidly before stepping under the hot spray.
“Maybe if I reach deep enough, I could bite my tongue and *not* snipe and bitch.” Although the brunette doubted her abilities do so, she still reckoned it was her best defense against the Vampire. No snark = no comeback. Plain and simple.
Wesley sat behind the desk in his office; looking at some papers when the door opened and Angel stuck his head around the door. Angel:
“You wanted to see me?” He asked quietly. Wes had earlier tapped on his door softly to request his presence downstairs. And he knew roughly what topic of the ‘little chat’ was going be about.
“Yes. Please, come in. Oh, close the door.” Wes didn’t look up from his work and waited for the Vampire to enter and shut the door quietly.
He then laid the papers aside and took a deep breath.
“I just…” he indicated a chair, waiting for Angel to sit, albeit reluctantly, before continuing.
“I just thought we should touch base, ah, before Cordelia arrived this morning. I know things have been, uh… strained between the two of you, and working in such close quarters it’s…”
“It’s- it’s okay, Wesley, really. I mean; Cordelia has every right to feel the way that she does and I’m willing to give her the room that she needs.” Angel interrupted; mentally crossing his fingers at that last bit he had no intention of doing.
Wes regarded him carefully, surprised at the change of demeanor in the Vampire sitting across from him. He would have had to be blind not to pick up on the barely held rage that emanated from him when he and Gunn had returned from checking out the Cinema.
“Good. – Good.” He smiled faintly, willing to accept that maybe it had blown over. He rose to his feet, feeling more confident in his new position doing so.
He may now be the Boss, but Angel still had that air of authority that made him feel like he was trying, unsuccessfully, to wear the other man’s shoes.
“I think that’s just the right attitude.” Angel rose to his feet too, remaining silent and causing the other man to lose that little edge.
“Time and space.” He added, shrugging off the feeling of inadequacy and keeping his tone firm and level.
“Those are really the only things one can give in a situation like this. As long as we both understand that, the healing process can…” the door bursting open abruptly interrupted him.
Cordy charged in with a pile of clothes draped over her arm; her bright Hazel eyes going directly to the hesitantly smiling Vampire.
“Did you do this?” she asked quietly, indicating the clothes, her expression unreadable. Angel hesitated, the smile fading rapidly. The vibes coming off his Seer sent a trickle of dread slithering into his gut.
“I-I just wanted to…replace the clothes I, um-“
“I kinda figured out that it was to do with that – but why? – And why so many, hmm?” Cordy interrupted his stuttering reply tightly.
“I told you; to make up for the others – besides, a woman like you can never have too many.” LAME! STUPID! FUCKUP! Angel cursed himself inwardly at his careless words – and the immediate flare of rage in those beautiful eyes pinning him to the spot.
“A woman like me? – As in a woman who can be bought by a guy who crapped all over her, and then be bribed at the drop of a hat with all of this?” Before Angel could retract his words, Cordy threw the clothes in his face and stormed from the room.
“Well, that went well; time and space, hmm?” Wes had watched the whole horrible scene play out before him and had cringed inwardly. Not that he’d thought the idiot hadn’t deserved it.
Angel avoided the sharp chastising eyes of his boss and silently left the office. Wes sighed heavily, shaking his head in resignation and disbelief as he sat back in his seat.
The Vampire watched as Cordy shoved small items into her bag at her desk, galvanizing into action when she turned and strode towards the main entrance of the lobby.
“Get out of my way, or I swear I’ll stake your undead ass.” Cordy practically growled at the dark-haired figure that had appeared directly in front of her, blocking her exit.
“Look; can’t we just talk about this, Cordy? -“
“Don’t call me that! Only my friends have that privilege – now get out of my way.” She repeated stonily, refusing to take a step back when his deep brown eyes flashed with gold.
“What the hell do you want me to do, Cordelia, get on my knees and beg?” Angel snarled angrily. This time, she did step back. Danger! Will Robinson!
Grasping onto her rage with both hands, Cordy stubbornly ignored the threat and lifted her head, stepping forward and into his face.
“No; I just want you to leave me alone! Is that clear enough for you – or do you want it written in blood?” Frustratingly aware of the man in the office behind them, Angel clenched his hands and forced himself to step back.
If he opened his mouth now, he knew he wouldn’t stop at just words.
Instead he moved out of her way and watched with burning black eyes as she swept past and left the hotel…
Three hours. Three whole hours had passed since Cordy had stormed from the hotel, and not a word from her as to where she was, or if she was okay.
The only thing stopping Angel from going out to find her was the glaring midday sun, and knowledge born out of familiarity that the damned woman was most likely bathing in it to make sure he wouldn’t be able get within a hundred feet of her if he *did* come across her.
Wes hadn’t said a word after she left, staying hidden in his office until half an hour ago. Seeing the Vampire pacing back and forth a few feet from the main steps leading to the front entrance hadn’t really surprised him. Their ‘conversation’ had been loud enough for him to overhear; and Wes had to admit to being rather shocked at the venom in the brunette’s voice. He’d taken one look at the tight, dark features of the Vampire and decided not to ask the questions that swirled around his head.
“Yo, hows it hangin’ English?” Gunn strolled in barely acknowledging the Dark figure hovering by the door; an abrupt nod with cool eyes that instantly turned warm when resting on his friend.
“Do I have to answer that?” Wes answered drolly, but with a glint of humor in his tone. Gunn opened the brown paper bag he’d been holding and dipped in to remove a ham roll before passing it too Wes. Looking around he frowned lightly before turning back
“Where’s Cordy? I thought I’d get jumped as soon as I came in bearing tuna salad with mayo.” Wes became very interested in the roll he was unwrapping with extreme care.
“She, um – Cordelia felt the urge to pop out for a while.” He muttered; groaning inwardly when the young man’s hardened eyes instantly landed on Angel.
“Why? What did he do now?” his voice matched his glare, and the Vampire had to stifle the growl that rolled through his chest at the accusing look. Turning away, he again pinned his gaze resolutely on the main entrance.
“Nothing to be concerned about, Gunn – just a little spat; Angel attempted to smooth choppy waters, and it backfired somewhat.” Wes kept his voice low, but didn’t miss the tensing of the broad shoulders and spine facing him across the lobby.
He sighed heavily. Gunn would have found out sooner or later, and it was better coming from him rather than the hot-tempered, willful young brunette. The young man was just as protective as he – especially these past months when they only had each other. Gunn was just a little more… pro-active in his defense of their friend.
Gunn shook his head in quiet disgust when Wes explained the Vampire’s brainwave, not bothering to comment; instead heading for the door. Wes sighed again, knowing where his friend was going, and rather glad of the fact. He’d been loath to leave Angel alone, not quite sure what he might do in the dark mood he was presently in. Three hours wasn’t that long – but Cordelia usually called in to let them know where she was; the only good thing being that it was daylight…
“Can you believe that jerk, Dennis? Ooh, I know! Let’s buy her half a store of Designer clothes and she’ll shriek with joy and forgive me. Bastard!” Cordy scrubbed the bath furiously as she ranted; her invisible roommate fluttering her hair in an attempt at sympathy – and to help cool her highly flushed face.
“Do you want me to beg, Cordeeeeliah?” Pfft! I shoulda said yes, and then shoved my knee right in that arrogant, handsome face when he got low enough.” Although to be honest, she couldn’t see herself doing something so vicious.
“Maybe I should just tie him up and spank his butt – see if he likes it. – Not good. Bad thoughts – take a mental step back, girl!” her cheeks flared anew with deep rose color at the images that idea flooded her with.
The doorbell rang, making her jump and drop the scouring pad into the bath.
Crap! Cordy froze on her knees, clutching the porcelain in a death grip. She hadn’t expected him to follow her. She could ignore the door, she decided, shrugging off the inner voice that taunted ‘coward’; then remembering he couldn’t enter without her invitation, she rose instantly to her feet and stomped into the lounge until halting a foot from the front door.
“Go take a hike!” was all Cordy could think of saying, having run out of names and curses in the last couple of hours.
“Hey, girl; it’s me.” she deflated instantly, reaching for the door and yanking it open.
“Gunn! I’m sorry, I was expecting – someone else.” She explained uncomfortably. Judging by the look in his bitter chocolate eyes, the young man knew to whom she referred.
“Nope; Walking Dead Man is lurking back at the hotel.” He stepped into the apartment, shrugging off his jacket; thanking Dennis when he was relieved of it before walking further into the lounge.
“You okay? – English gave me the low-down.” Cordy pulled a face and plonked onto the couch, waiting for Gunn to join her before replying.
“Can you believe it? – Gunn; am I really that…shallow?” her wide eyes bored into his for a minute before looking down at her hands.
“I mean, I know I used to be like that, you know – years ago I would have done a happy dance for so many gorgeous clothes. But I’m not that girl any more.” She sighed heavily, raising a hurt face towards the silent young man.
“I know that, Cordy- we all do.” He assured her confidently.
“I thought he knew that too; obviously I was wrong.” Gunn reached forward and hugged Cordy, resting his chin on her soft mahogany hair.
As much as he didn’t trust the Vampire any more, Charles Gunn prided himself on being able to make the best out of a bad situation. Wes wanted this to work – and hell, they needed the extra muscle for the work they did; Cordelia’s safety was another factor.
The last three months had been hard, and the fear of losing the girl he loved like a sister to one of the Vampires or Demons they’d fought together in that time – and not being able to protect her, had been paramount in his mind.
If nothing else, he knew angel had a better chance of that than either he or Wes, and as much as he wanted to curse the bastard until the air was blue, he knew he had to do what was best for them all.
” I’m sure he knew, Barbie – he’s just tryin’ to get back in.” Cordy pulled back in surprise. Gunn felt his cheeks flush a little under her disbelieving stare.
“Look, all I’m sayin’ is…we may have differences, but we go out there and do what needs to be done –I’m not sayin’ what you feel is selfish,” he hastily added at her look of hurt. “It’s just that sometimes we gotta get on with it, no matter how we feel inside.” Gunn rarely made speeches, and it surprised them both.
“Gunn, did I ever tell you I love you?” Cordy leaned forward and hugged him tightly before rising to her feet.
“Back to the grind I suppose.” She wiped her moist eyes and went to change.