Oblivious to everything but the skull-cracking vision, Cody writhed in abject pain. As she slowly came out of it the thought that thank God I didn’t lose bladder control was uppermost in her mind. The thought that it could happen caused her to shudder with more than the after-effects of the vision.
The loss of control she had over her body concerned her more and more to a point where some things didn’t bear dwelling on; which she found herself doing right now- slow to surface and even slower to realize who she held onto in a death grip, and who in turn held her to his broad, cool chest protectively.
“I’m okay!” jerking back shakily, Cordy attempted to extricate herself from that all-encompassing bear hug, the scent of his unique and achingly familiar maleness freaking her out.
Angel sensed her awareness and the rapidly following withdrawal, and knew he should comply with her weak demands- but he couldn’t do it; not yet. Ignoring her rather slurred complaints he instead scooped her up, prolonging the contact until they reached one of the couches, then reluctantly released her. For a moment, unreadable brown eyes connected with dazed hazel, then he stepped back and folded his arms.
“Here we go, Cordelia,” Wes appeared at her side with a glass of water and two useless Aspirin, but she obediently took them and washed them down before grimacing as the too-cold water hit the throbbing roof of her mouth. Taking a deep breath, she related everything she’d seen; attempting to ignore the dark figure looming over her; to the side, but still within her peripheral vision.
“Go to it,” she ordered weakly, a shaking hand reaching up to rest against her aching temples, “last minute call’s are so much fun.” Gunn was already at the weapons cabinet whilst Wes disappeared into his office double-checking the demon description, which, luckily he knew of and only needed to find out the best way to kill it-, which left the vampire still hovering.
Angel was still reeling from the feel of her warm body cradled against his mere minutes before; the achingly familiar scent taking him back to the night before in vivid detail, so into his heated thoughts, he abruptly jolted to the present when she continued speaking.
“Watch out for those spikes on it’s knuckles; it’s got a mean back hand.” Still he hovered, his continual silence driving her crazy. “Sheesh, go already! Do your swoopy thing and save the helpless,” his heart both ached and burned at the cold irritation in her normally melodious voice and he took a step forward instinctively.
“Cor” he began, his own voice low and intense.
“Don’t!” Angel jerked back at her soft reply, the unexpected lack of censure throwing him for a loop.
He’d expected anger; venom especially, but the almost tired, pleading word that left her lovely mouth melted away his immediate urgency to push his way back in. Having her try to escape his embrace once was bad enough, but with the addition of the soft plea and obvious flinch, Angel felt his heart wrench.
“Angel?” the soft yet naturally clipped tones of Wesley’s voice pulled his eyes from Cordy’s bent head and with an almost silent sigh, he moved away to approach his boss and retrieve the sword held out to him.
As soon as the three men left the hotel, Cordy groaned and rubbed her aching eyes, wishing she could physically do that to her heart.
This was so much harder than she’d imagined it would be. After the jolt of inadvertently locking eyes with him as she’d instinctively looked around hours earlier, the vampire had hidden in his rooms for, in her opinion, not long enough. Not twenty minutes later, he’d descended the stairs freshly dressed, his short dark hair damp obviously having showered. She couldn’t help but wonder if it had been one of many since she’d fled from the hotel.
After that Cordy been all too aware of how many times his dark, unreadable eyes had rested on her profile as she’d attempted to get to work and avoid catching his gaze; all too aware when his eyes drifting from her face down her taut body to her feet and back again as he reclined at his desk, not far enough away in her opinion to be comfortable, and almost in direct line with her own.
Wes and Gunn seemed oblivious to the quiet tension raging between the co-workers; perversely more relaxed at the distinct lack of angst of the last few weeks. Angel found it easy to observe her since he’d been assigned half a dozen books to read through by his boss.
Each time she’d escaped to the downstairs washroom for a break from those darkly intense eyes, her heart had been in her mouth on exiting, half expecting his big body to be hovering outside in the off-to-the side corridor the room was situated in, but he hadn’t attempted to get too close for which she was eternally grateful.
But Cordy knew that the inevitable talk they so desperately needed would come up and bite her on the ass. Knowing the vampire, he’d wait for an opportunity to confront her when the others had daytime business away from the hotel; something that was routine due to Angel’s obvious difficulty with sunlight.
Gunn was always in and out, and Wes frequently made trips to various antique bookstores, and as time had gone by, walk-in clients had become more routine, so that was another possibility as the human males dealt with early fact-finding and appointments.
Either way she looked at it, it WAS inevitable, and a large part of her needed that resolution even as a tiny voice inside her head still screamed at her to run fast and far.
But, God, she couldn’t run- especially not now she had bought that shocking, mind-blowing clue! Loving the vampire changed everything even as it made things so much harder than it would have been…
“Crap!” Angel glanced down at his latest-for-the-trash-shirt with an angry grimace.
“Well, Cordelia did warn you,” Wes unhelpfully reminded the vampire, who shot him an irritated look and dived right back in to finish off the demon; slicing off the creature’s hands at the wrists before hooking a heavy arm around its neck and twisting until the crunching crack made the other two men wince.
“Don’t think I’ll ever get used to that sound,” Gunn gave himself a shake as he bent down to retrieve his axe.
“I try to think of a chicken leg when I hear it…. never seems to work though,” Wes muttered, tucking away the crossbow and pulling out a long knife. “Right! Let’s get to the even better bit!” his mouth quirked at the young black man’s growl of discontent.
For a moment, Angel straightened up and stepped back, letting the other men get a start on the disposal of the demon.
While he couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel, Angel felt chilled to the bone at the inevitable cool silence that would greet him when he got there. Her beautiful eyes haunted him even now. Had he done that to her? Wiped out her spark, her inner love for life? And how could he possibly attempt to put it back?
For the millionth time, Angel cursed his hot temper- his total lack of control. When she’d confronted him last night, he should have took her hits and cutting tongue; but no, he had to get all offended and righteous- and so hot for her that he’d thrown all common sense out of the window, letting his body win his internal battle.
Far more than that, he cursed his lack of regret. How could he regret the warm press of her soft lips against his? – The heat of her stunning body pinned beneath him…or the melting burn of her core as he devoured her arousal like a man dying of thirst? Angel shook his head roughly and finally joined the others in their unpleasant task.
“No; the only think he regretted was his taking something that, whilst her body unmistakably craved his, her mind and soul rejected him.
He had to make it up to her, if that was at all possible. The vampire’s mouth twisted bitterly- even if it meant only renewing their bond of friendship and nothing else; he’d blown any chance of anything more with his possessive behavior.
By the time the three weary men had made their way back to the hotel, Cordy was curled up and fast asleep on the couch they’d left her on.
Even tiptoeing around her, they couldn’t help but make sounds with clanking weapons, but the brunette slept on oblivious. Angel kept glancing at her as he tidied up, finally assuring the others he’d make sure she got home okay once she’d awoken.
As soon as the two men left, Angel walked silently over to the couch and just stared down. Several minutes passed before he drew in an unneeded breath and finally stooped over her, pushing sense down deep and scooping her sleeping form up.
If he and Cordy were going to confront this problem, and, hopefully put it behind them, where better to start than her waking up in his bed? Angel decided grimly. Even though he had a fair idea how she’d react to his move, the vampire wasn’t shy of using underhand tactics to his advantage.
Settling her gently on his bed and pulling the covers up to her shoulders, Angel stood and looked down at her, before backing away and turning towards his bathroom, shedding his torn shirt on the way.
Losing her was just not an option.