Sleeping with Tigers. 1-2

Title: Sleeping with Tigers          
Author: Califi
Posted:  Rework (July 2021). Ongoing. Will leave up the original work as go through it a chapter at a time (or more, if I have time).
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Rating:
Category: humour, growing romance. very slushy/silly in parts, but meh.
Content: C/A
Summary: Cordelia is suffering from insomnia, and she receives an offer she cannot refuse.  ~ Cheesy fluff, I know, but dairy is, unfortunately, my limit. *g*
Spoilers: S1 just after TSiLA
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes: Cos I can’t be bothered with finding a way, I decided that Willow closed the loophole, but B/A still didn’t work as at the end of the day, B couldn’t get over Angelus or the fact that Angel was a vampire. I understand that it is unrealistic to many that Angel and Cordelia could develop as a couple in this timeline, but it’s purely a fluffy, hopefully, funny fic.
Thanks/Dedication: Big thanks to Frazi & Scorch for talking me into this, and their support in helping me and encouraging me in my effort to be able to write again. and DamnSkippy for my faboo ficpic, Love you all, mwah! & licks.
Feedback: Not expected, but loved. 🙂

 


Chapter 1 (this chapter reworked)

Yet one more night of crappy insomnia- just wonderful. Cordelia dragged her strained eyes from the ceiling above her bed and groaned at the relentless ache behind her lids.

How long could this go on? The guys were already looking at her with growing concern, and if they continued to keep asking how she was, Cordy swore to either commit hare Kari or stab one of them to death.

Knowing she couldn’t lie in bad all day, and that fact that Wes would no doubt be around in a little while- maybe a few gallons of coffee and a brain enema would help? With this in mind, Cordy threw back the covers and dragged her tired body out of bed. Sneaking a peek around the door, she was glad to find dark and seriously broody was nowhere in sight.

“You’re up early.” Damnit!. Cordy swiveled on her heel and turned to face the shadow that detached itself from the corner of her lounge. “Sleep well?” he asked, all nonchalance as he was wont to do, and she forced the widest smile, which caused him to almost flinch with the brightness of it.

“Like the proverbial log, Angel,” her smile dimmed a little at the instant narrowing of those too-dark eyes that could suck you in and make you pray for rescue…. or not.  Nuh-uh, SO not going there, she thought with a surprised gulp. I must be more tired than I thought.

“It’s still pretty early.  The others won’t be coming over for a while, so why not grab a few more hours?” Angel lightly suggested with his pale face a lovely shade of blank. He did it so well.

Turning back to the kitchen with a rigid spine, Cordy walked in and switched on the light. “I’m not tired! I went to bed early last night, what with no visions to slice ‘n’ dice my brain,” she kept her voice light, aware that he’d followed her in, like a guard dog that took his job way too seriously.

“Coffee? Or the red stuff?” Reaching above for the cabinet door, she nearly jumped out of her skin when a sizeable pale hand got there first. “Will you stop doing that?” she grumbled, swearing blind he was out to wear her down and tell him all. Well, he had another thing coming!

“It’s only been a fortnight, so naturally, you’re still going to feel a little shaken, Cor.”

Cor? the shortening of her name by the usually stoic vampire had her spinning around- then regretting the move as her unbound breasts under the thin T-Shirt brushed lightly against his hard chest. Offering to let him stay at her apartment seemed to be coming back to bite her; no pun intended. And in a way that she’d never thought possible.

Well, not since finding out in SunnyHell that he was a vampire. At the time, that particular factoid had squished her crush in an instant. But things had undoubtedly changed after bumping into him in LA. Cordy got to know him and gradually looked beyond the surface.

It had to be some form of cabin fever. It had to be. With a snap of teeth, Cordy lifted her hands and pushed. Mount Everest had nothing on this wall of rock. “Angel! Human. Need to breath here?” relieved when he finally stepped back. “And please stop with the mother hen routine. D.i.D I’m most definitely not,” she told him with a tilt of her chin before turning back to the worktop.

“D.i.D?” And if he didn’t move forward again! Hadn’t Angel ever heard of a personal bubble?

“You know; Damsel in Distress- and this kitchen? Not exactly big on space,” praying he hadn’t picked up on the slight hitch of her breath. “So go sit or something.” Flicking a quick look over her shoulder, Cordy blew out a silent sigh of relief to find he’d moved.

As she prepared the coffee and blood, Angel sat back and observed the brunette. He would have had to be blind not to have noticed the dark shadows that grew daily under her eyes, and he knew he was crowding her. He knew because it was deliberate.

Cordelia was not sleeping. Ever since that gut-wrenching two days of endless visions, she hadn’t slept much at all. Her refusal to talk to them – him, of all people, hurt a lot. So all he had left was his inherent intimidation tactics. Being aware that most humans had personal space issues- especially his Seer, turned out to be a bonus.

Soon, she’d crack, and when she did, he was more than prepared to pick up the pieces and help put her back together. He could do that. And no, there were no ulterior motives at all – couldn’t a friend be there for another friend?

More than that. Cordy was the family he no longer had.

It had taken nearly losing her for Angel to realize just how important she was in his life – and nothing would ever get in the way of that again. He was so deep into his thoughts that Angel missed the woman’s subtle approach, actually jumping a little at the sound of the soft thud of a mug set in front of him.

“Wow! I’m going to mark this down in my personal Book of Amazing Feats.” She grinned, plopping herself in the seat opposite him. “Me making you nearly lose your skin. Now you know how it feels, maybe you’ll not do it to me, hmm?” with a pointed lift of a nicely arched brow, Cordy lifted her mug to take a sip.

No matter what you threw at her, she eventually came out with that delicious megawatt smile, the one that turned strong men into puddles of mush, although a particular part of him was most definitely not mush right now.  He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wishing Cordy had at least put on a bra before exiting her room. Although it wasn’t exactly a new habit, Angel had honestly  never really noticed such things regarding his Seer the last time he’d shared her apartment.

“Hello? Earth to Angel. Are you with us?” Cordy asked with amusement, waving a hand in front of his preoccupied face.

“No, I’m just,” He attempted to think of a reply that wouldn’t get her back up.

“Brooding. Yeah, I get that. Gotta do at least ten hours a day of it, huh?” Cordy ignored the warning look he threw her way and snickered softly into her coffee.

“Are you still having nightmares?” his blunt question threw her for a loop, and for a moment, she floundered like a fish on land.

“What? I don’t have nightmares anymore. Have to sleep to-” uh oh. That’s right, Miss foot-in-mouth,  drop yourself in it!

“I knew it.” Angel leaned forward, his mouth set in a thin line, his tone was as dark as his handsome face right now, and Cordy gulped a little before leaning back in her chair. Suddenly she felt like a butterfly squirming on a pin.

“I am sleeping! I just meant…” she trailed off, wracking her brains for a way to turn her words around. “I just meant I’m not dreaming, like-like – that log I was telling you about earlier. Logs don’t dream.” she pulled out a unique smile- the smile of ‘you’ve got to believe me, and you forget what accidentally let drop’.

Crappity crap! It wasn’t working.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Cordelia?” Uh-oh, back to the full name; that did not bode well.

“It’s no biggie,” hiding behind her coffee cup worked for all of five seconds until his hand reached out and took it away. Her bottom lip pooched out, but Angel ignored it.

“It is a biggie, as you so nicely put it”, he replied with a hint of steel, and she inwardly cringed. “The visions take a lot out of you as it is, and lack of sleep will only add to it. It would help if you had taken the tablets a little longer-” her hand darted out to cover his mouth.

“No more drugs- please!” those beautiful autumn shaded eyes stared into his, and for a moment, he softened. “I hate taking drugs; bad enough that I keep the Tylenol Corporation in profits, and I refuse to take anything else.”

Flipping his hand to capture hers, Angel just stared into her eyes for several seconds and then let out a short breath. “Okay, no more drugs- but!” his expression brooked no argument, and Cordy found herself holding her breath and waited for an anvil to fall.

“From now on, I’ll sleep with you.” Was that thud the sound of her jaw hitting the table? Nope, that was the anvil- although her mouth did gape.

“You’ll what with me? No way!” she refused, making to rise to her feet- stopped by his grip on her wrist.

“I’m not going to argue with you over this,” he warned her softly. “We’re friends – family, and it’ll only be until you can sleep through the night, okay?” It did sound reasonable, but Cordy had a bad feeling about this half-brained idea. How could she voice that bad feeling without sounding pathetic- or worse, hearing him scoff at the thought of it leading to certain -physical- feelings?

Not as if the slayer-loving vampire would think of her that way- not in a million years. It was an entirely different issue for her.  It would only be for a short time, and  Cordy was pretty sure she’d be able could deal. Not like she was some half-crazed nympho.

“Okaaay. But there will be no telling Wesley- or anyone, for that matter, right?” Cordy pulled her hand away, snatched back her mug, and turned to the coffee pot muttering under her breath. If she weren’t so damned tired, no way would she have so quickly folded like a damp towel?

Angel’s mouth tilted up as he watched her pouring a fresh drink with jerky motions and not-so-quiet curses; then, the amused smile faded as the import of the task ahead sunk in.

Sleeping with the fiery brunette was NOT a good idea. Angel wasn’t blind to her charms- her scent alone was enough to attract his attention most of the time- But if it would help in her quest for peaceful sleep and a quicker recovery, then he would push aside his reservations and do it.

Tense silence reigned over the small kitchen as their new sleeping arrangements plagued their thoughts.

 


Chapter 2

By the time Cordy had hid in her room on the pretext of getting dressed [which she had, but finished ages ago], Wes had arrived and she could hear the quiet hum of male voices through the wood paneling. Unable to think of a valid reason for refusing the vampire’s kind offer, Cordelia finally drew herself together and exited the bedroom.

A small shot of relief flowed through her when her entrance only attracted an absent greeting from the English man, whilst Angel pored over yet another old book Wes had brought along. Soon enough, her apartment would look like one of those musty, smelly bookstores stuffy tweeds oohed and ahhed at. Her thrillers and romance paperbacks had made their way to a space under her bed less than 24 hours after coming home from the hospital.

“Tea Wes?” That brought her a look of mild dread, and she folded her arms defensively. “What? I’ve been practicing; I think you’ll be impressed.” With a sligh huff, she stalked into the kitchen. Sheesh, anyone would think she was completely useless in anything that related to the kitchen!

“As you can see here,” Wes was pointing to a depiction of a demon Cordelia had seen in her last ‘normal’ vision that Angel had dutifully slain before rushing back to check on his new patient.

“The claws that run down its back have quite unique qualities; for example, various rituals and spells that could have come in handy in our line of business. Pity we hadn’t known this before you disposed of the carcass,” he lamented.

“Which you would have taken to your stuffy apartment, right, Wes?” Cordelia added with a grimace. Books were enough, thank you very much. Wes nodded instantly.

“Of course. Not something to be left in the hands of the ignorant- not that I’m saying….” He stuttered, blushing a little. Cordelia merely pffted and dropped the tray onto the table before deciding where to sit.

Reluctantly curling up in the corner of the couch the vampire sprawled on, she replied tartly. “Don’t worry, Wes, I’m blissful in my ignorance.” Taking a sip of her coffee, she flicked a look over the page of the book resting in Angel’s lap. “Ewwe, black and white makes no diff to its grossness, does it?” A small yawn punctuated her observation, catching the vampire’s beady eye. Averting her gaze to her hands, she made a show of checking her nails.

He remained silent Cordelia couldn’t help but breath a small sigh of relief. No more lectures – for now, at least.

Angel’s sharp eyes went back to his book, his full mouth tightening a fraction. He knew for a fact that the brunette was most likely going to spend the day figuring out a way to get out of their new arrangement, and he was ready for whatever excuse she gave. To be honest, her couch wasn’t built for a six-two frame of dense bone and muscle, and the thought of being able to stretch out was something else to look forward to- not that he was looking forward to sleeping with the willful brunette who was also a bed hog.

In his habit of checking on her every other hour when she’d first arrived back from hospital, Angel had found her often sprawled in the middle of the big bed, her arms and legs grabbing every available inch of mattress. That would be fun. Visions of himself hugging the edge of the bed was hopefully something that wouldn’t happen. He’d merely have to manhandle her back to her side- gently of course.

Wes brought his attention back to the book, and the rest of the day was spent researching various demons and was thrown in with the odd argument with Cordelia in her attempts to leave the apartment and escape ‘boredomitis’ as she so succinctly put it. After telling them they couldn’t keep her locked up forever and a day, Angel had merely thrown her a look and she’d harrumphed and stalked into her bedroom for a good few hours of sulking.

Evening crept up on them pretty quickly, and Cordelia’s alarms were going off by the time Wes was readying himself to leave- then a vision kicked in and all else was forgotten but the pain and ickyness of cinema with surround sound stereo.

“Don’t forget those claws,” was the first thing Wes said when she finally related that it was yet another of the same demons she’d envisioned a few nights before. Angel glared briefly his way before settling her on the couch gently, eliciting a slight flush over the Englishman’s features.

“It’s okay, Wes, ” Cordelia jumped to his defense sending her own glare, not so patented at the hovering vampire, adding, “And don’t even think of bringing them here, kay?” with a short nod, Angel reluctantly straightened and walked over to grab his duster. “I won’t be long,” he assured her just before they left.

“Don’t rush back, she muttered, closing her eyes and resting her head against the back of the couch, missing the small quirk of the vampire’s mouth as he closed the door softly

***

After a long and relaxing bath, Cordelia settled into bed garbed in warm T-Shirt and long pajama bottoms- just in case, and closed her eyes in readiness to sleep. Instantly, her inner vision began a kaleidoscope of horrific faces of torment and tormentors. Her eyes shot open and groaning, she turned onto her back.

Breathing deep in measured beats, Cordelia attempted to settle her racing heart- then her door opened- just great! Her eyes snapped shut and she turned on her side to curl up. Maybe if he thought she was asleep he’d go away. No such luck. She could feel his eyes drilling into the part of her head visible for several minutes before he disappeared into the bathroom.

Angel bit back a grin as he shed his ruined clothes and stepped under the shower. Cordelia’s heart had been racing ten to the dozen and hadn’t fooled him for a second. He’d tasted the fear rolling off her in waves as soon as he’d entered her room, and instinctively knew that part had nothing to do with him; although he couldn’t say the same for her rapidly thudding heart.

It couldn’t be easy for her to have him, a vampire, in her bed, but Angel refused to back down. This insomnia was bad for her health. On top of the visions, her lack of sleep would eventually compromise her mental state and he couldn’t have that. Thinking back to her fear and pain at the hospital, it still sent shivers of dread and helplessness down his spine, and for a moment, he leant against the tiled wall, attempting to center himself.

He was doing the right thing. If he repeated that to himself a few million times, the tight knot in his belly would hopefully dissipate.

Angel couldn’t recall the last time he’d actually slept with someone- just slept, that is, and a small part of him felt vulnerable at the thought of being observed deeply asleep and unaware. Shaking his dark head, he reached up to turn off the shower and stepped out of the bath. After drying himself off and roughly rubbing a towel through his hair, he retrieved the sweat pants he’d brought in and pulled them on.

That was yet another thing. Since having to bunk up with Cordelia, wearing clothes to bed had become a necessity. He doubted her still rather innocent sensibilities could take the sight of him walking around nude. Too long had gone by for him to feel even a modicum of embarrassment, but needs must. But he still missed the freedom of sleeping unrestricted.

Switching off the light before opening the bathroom door, Angel soundlessly entered her bedroom. Her heart still gave her away, even though she’d seemingly remained in the same position, curled up- except now she hugged one side of the bed. His mouth quirked again as he rounded the bed and pulled back the covers. Gone were the standard pajama shorts, and the T-Shirt she wore engulfed her body.

Narrowing his eyes, he recognized it as one of his old ones- pre-blown up building. The little minx must have swiped it when she’d stayed at his basement apartment all those months ago. A small part of him actually liked her wearing his clothes, as she smelled of him, and as vampire’s were naturally possessive about their possessions, of which she was one [though He’d never tell her that, of course!], it felt good having her wrapped in his scent.

Lying flat on his back, Angel regarded the ceiling for several minutes before turning his head and eyeing the tip of dark, rich hair still visible above the covers.

“Good night, Cordelia,” grinning openly when the small lump tensed even more, and a muttered ‘night’ was returned.

Closing his eyes, Angel relished being able to stretch out his long legs, happy to find that her bed was generous enough for his feet not to dangle over the edge of the mattress. Within minutes, his brain shut down and sleep crawled over him.

After what seemed an eternity of wide-awakeness and painful awareness of the big hulk lying inches away from her, Cordelia’s eyes finally fluttered closed and, for once in what felt like forever, her mind finally took her to blessed dreamland…

Chapter 3

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