Sleeping with Tigers 5-6

Chapter 5

For the unlife of him, Angel could not keep his eyes from the cute little bundle sitting on the couch

Did she *have* to sit so…so…. casually? One lithe leg thrown over the arm of that lucky couch, the other somehow half-crossed and her head back showing off the very long neck- so flawless his teeth itched.

His eyes slid away from her for what seemed the thousandth time that day, and damn if he wasn’t annoyed with himself

If she caught him, he’d get the raised brow and the “Watcha lookin’ at? wanna picture?” moment he got one of the times he’d genuinely been staring into space- and Cordelia just happened to be occupying that space. Did she own every square inch of the world?

Knowing her, she most likely did. Portfolios being her second favorite word and all- ‘money’ being the first- though not so much now.

She probably had shares in Heaven – and Hell. God help him! No wonder he’d suffered so horribly down there. The sudden image of her dressed like a Dominatrix, brandishing a whip caused him to shift and rearrange the book on his lap.

He was tired; that was it- why else would he be having such strange and twisted thoughts that normally wouldn’t even cross his mind where Cordelia Chase was concerned? But that was before he more or less knew her body pretty intimately- well his chest certainly did!. Hot satin. Good description- and oh, so soft and supple; the plaint to his solidity; yin to his yang…

He let out a sigh, which drew Wesley’s attention and the narrowed, suspicious look on his face realllly made him wanna… but Wes was a friend, and you just didn’t bathe in the blood of friends, did you?

That was the tired talking; there was no way Wes could even guess at the sleeping arrangements in Cordelia’s apartment- and was too busy listening to the outraged little brunette to notice the absence of bedding on the couch yesterday morning. But the way he was looking form himself to Cordelia did make Angel wonder if he was making the big mistake of underestimating the ex Watcher.

Wes looked like he was going to say something, when the door was rapped sharply. All three looked at one another, shrugging and frowning identically. “Yo! Gunn is in the building.”

Cordelia squealed- *squealed* and shot to her feet in a flurry of hair and legs. Angel raised his brows before lowering them in annoyance. She was acting like Gunn’s arrival was the second coming. Then he frowned some more; that word had no place in his head where Cordelia and other men were concerned.

After that arrival, the quiet of the morning was gone. The young black man lounged and smiled widely as he listened to the enthusiastic chat of the bubbling brunette, looking all the world like he’d known her forever- and didn’t that give the vampire craw to swallow. Not that he was jealous, because he would have had to have deeper feelings- feelings that passed the boundaries of friendship. It had to be the protective reaction of a big brother, just looking out for his little sister; that was all.

All he had to do now was convince Mister Happy of that fact.

“I thought I’d venture out into the big wide world today!” Cordelia’s words dragged him back to cold reality and even as his eyes narrowed, his mind located the whereabouts of the cuffs he just knew he’d rescued from his old apartment.

“We’ve talked about this, Cordelia; I still think it’s too soon to think of wandering off by yourself,” Angel kept his tone even yet firm and was graced with a Pfft and an expressive roll of hazel eyes.

“Soon shmoon- and you’ve talked about it, over and over… this little bird is more than ready to fly the coop, Mister Worrypants- and anyway,” her mouth widened into an excited grin, “Gunn here has offered to take me for some eats and show me around the ‘hood’.” Wes snickered at her attempt to speak street, and got a patented glare for his trouble.

“Something to say, Stuffy?” the young man instantly shook his head and dived his nose back into his book; the safest place in the world to be where Cordelia was concerned. “No, no…carry on.” He muttered.

“Good, then it’s settled! Oooh, freedom! So jonesing for some of that.” She dived off the couch and darted to her room, slamming the door behind her. “Dennis? What can I wear?” he voice floated out in the suddenly silent room.

Wes finally cleared his throat and drew the other man’s attention who, so far was unaware of the not so pleasant vibes radiating off the vampire. “So… what will be on your itinerary today?”

“Huh?” Gunn frowned at the man like he’d just climbed out of his spaceship and attempted to speak Alien to the natives.

“Where are you taking Cordelia, Wes meant.” Angel intoned casually, glad that the question had been asked, but dammed if he was going to ask himself.

Charles Gunn shook his head at the English guy and turned his attention to the dark haired hulk spread, comparatively relaxed on the couch.

“Oh, here, there; about. Thought I’d take her to this Taco place they got going in the ‘hood’ where I live- does she like Taco’s” he frowned for a moment then his handsome face cleared. “Yeah, everyone likes those babies.” He stood up the instant the brunette trotted out of her room, “Now that’s what I call sweet!” he eyed the golden length of leg below the thigh-high denim skirt and the gauzy softly draped top that thankfully had a matching opaque camisole beneath it. But Angel was still not at all happy with the tempting picture she made.

“Do you think it wise to walk the streets dressed in such revealing clothes?” Wes got there first, and at the outraged look on the young woman’s face, Angel settled back on the couch quietly.

“I’m figuring you didn’t mean what it sounded like you meant, Wesley Wyndham Pryce, ‘cos if you did, you’re gonna be on the lookout for a couple of new kidneys,” Gunn snorted aloud and stood back to watch.

“It-it was just a figure of speech, Cordelia; not at all meant the way you obviously took it,” he stuttered, his face turning a nice shade of red. Snatching up her purse, Cordelia graced him with one more death ray and walked to the front door.

“Glad we got that sorted. Now I’m outta here- Gunn? Let’s hit the town,” her excited grin returned, and as the young man walked out of the door she held open, she sent one more killing glance at the cringing Englishman and left, with a slam of the door.

“Well…that was rather embarrassing,” Wes tugged at the collar of his shirt. “I have the feeling I got off lightly there.” He glanced over to the still silent vampire, whose dark eyes were pinned on the recently closed door.

“Angel, I’m sure Charles Gunn will take good care of Cordelia,” Wes reassured him firmly. After several seconds of tense silence, the vampire rose to his feet and made his way to the kitchen.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he muttered, low enough not to be picked up on by the other man.


Angel glanced at the wall clock for what felt like the millionth time. It was almost nightfall, and still no sign of that annoying little vixen and the young man. To say he’d been getting a bit too sharp with poor Wes was an understatement, and by now, he could almost see the cogs turning in his intellectual head.

Wesley Wyndham Pryce may be a little naïve in the world of love and women, but he was far from stupid, and Angel knew he was coming across as a petulant lover. Sulking because another sweet tooth might be sucking his sweet little honey-gold lollipop.

The vampire groaned inwardly and wished to the Gods his mind didn’t have that habit of using metaphors that sometimes seemed a little too close to the mark and open to outraged question. Comparing Cordelia to a lollipop was not just dumb it was mouthwateringly suicidal.

Finally! He stood and grabbed his duster the second the sun sank over the horizon, and was in the process of putting it on when he heard laughing behind the front door. Instantly shedding the half on leather, Angel tossed it into the nearby chair and sat back down on the couch, looking all for the world like he hadn’t moved since She’d left.

“That was sooo cool! Gunn, we have GOT to do that again!” Cordelia giggled as she entered the apartment with the grinning youth who strolled in behind her. “Hey, Wes; Angel- had a good day?” She refused to let the grin drop from her face when she was met with a mumbled “huh uh” from the lump behind a large tome, and the steady dark brown gaze of Mister Suck-The-Life-Outta-Everything.

“Well, we did!” she answered her own question and went on to regale the two other men with their escapades of the day, dropping her purse on the side and shedding the engulfing denim jacket she now wore, handing it to Gunn with an even bigger grin.

“We went to the hood and he introduced me to some of his homies, and we even hung out at his crib…totally cool!” Angel raised a brow at her turns of phrase whilst Wes lifted his head from his book and sat there staring at her with his mouth gaping open. “Whassup, Wes?” Cordelia walked over and lifted his chin up with a finger. His jaw snapped shut and he blinked. Whassup? And it got worse!

Wes was always rather pole axed and cringed when it came to how the American people massacred the English language. Centuries of fine tuning it to the point of musical and poetic, stripped down to ‘yo’s’ and ‘homies’.

“Careful Wes, I see drool- so not attractive.” Cordelia moved back and plunked herself on the couch, bouncing the cushions and causing the book Angel had hastily grabbed, to slide off his lap. “Oopsie; did I lose your page?” she grabbed it and opened it, “What number…. oh, no numbers; how uncool -and totally stupid!” Shrugging carelessly she left it where it was opened to and dropped it back into his lap, causing Angel to flinch as the heavy book connected with his tender parts, shutting it and leaning forward to place it on the coffee table.

“Come and sit down, Gunn; plenty of room- if tall, dark and silent shifts his pasty ass a bit,” Cordelia shoved up and used her hip to push at the Vampire’s, who moved without taking his startled eyes from her averted face. Satisfied she’s made enough room, she patted the empty cushion with a sunny smile.

“Yup, take the load off, gotta tell ya, Girl can shift out there,” Gunn accepted the offer and dropped into the seat, causing Cordelia to almost end up in Angel’s lap. With an quick apologetic grin, she slotted herself between them.

“I feel like a ham sandwich,” she giggled, and glared at Wes who muttered, “Well, you know where the kitchen is”. Har har, funny guy.” She turned to look up at the still-silent vampire with a quizzical expression.

“Did you two go on some kind of ancient dig today?” Angel frowned down at her confused.

“I think you mean archaeological dig,” Wes murmured patronizingly and received a stink eye.

“Yeah, Whatever,” she replied, glancing at Gunn and rolling her eyes expressively, causing his face to split into a wide grin.

“Can I ask what drove you to ask such a nonsensical question, Cordelia?” Wes just had to ask, didn’t he?

“Oh, just wondered if that’s where you unearthed the fossilized remains of your humor, stuffy.” Cordelia replied, her sharp reply reminding Wes abruptly that, although Cordelia Chase sometime acted like a ditz, her brain was as sharp as a tack.

Angel couldn’t help the small smile that touched his face at her snarky comments and caught the brunette’s attention. “Ooooh, I’d watch out there, big guy; the cracks are showin’.” The smile disappeared abruptly just as Gunn shook his head and got lazily to his feet, stretching high before turning to look down. The vampire stifled the growl when the girl’s eyes lingered on the brief flash of rich skin as the young man’s top separated from his low-slung pants.

“Well time to hit the streets in a way that don’t include cotton candy and wolf whistles, Barbie.” Gunn winked at the brunette before glancing at the other men. “Got me some wood to sharpen and put out. Later,” with another grin, Gunn made his way towards the front door.

Cordy immediately shot to her feet, and in her haste to show her new friend out, tripped over one of the vampire’s feet, her dark head inches from hitting the coffee table in front until two powerful arms grabbed her and pulled her back. Her balance still compromised, she ended up perched in his lap.

“Really, Cordelia, you are an accident just waiting to happen,” Wes shook his head, glancing at Gunn and nodding again pleasantly. “It was nice to see you again Mister Gunn,” he replied politely.

“Just Gunn; don’t wanna sound like no ass face lawyer dude,” he corrected easily, clicked his tongue and lifted a hand as he turned.

All three watched him exit and close the door behind him lightly, and then Cordelia realized to her mortification that her ass was a little close to parts that would remain forever pushed down into the recesses – but obviously not Angel’s… seemed someone was feeling a little perky today!

“Oops!” scrambling out of his lap, Cordelia walked swiftly to the kitchen. “Drinks on the way.” She called as she made her exit, her face flushing prettily, leaving Angel to grab the book and shove it back in his lap, and Wes to shake his head in disbelief at the little whirlwind that had came, conquered and left in not so much of a wave of glory.

“A complete and utter mystery,” he muttered under his breath, going back to his book and settling back into his chair with a sigh.

Angel kept his eyes on the kitchen archway, shifting uncomfortably at being found out in a not so private moment of a Mister Happy appearance; this couldn’t go on. He knew that- but what the hell was he supposed to do about it?

Maybe it was time to step up his search for another abode before things became too volatile between him and the gorgeous brunette who was slowly driving him crazy.

“After the nightmares”, he promised himself, and then he would start looking. Mister Happy instantly became depressed at the thought of moving out and away from Little Miss Hot’n’Wet.

Chapter 6

The rest of the evening went like a bomb- the kind that could explode at any moment, and Wesley Wyndham Pryce wished he were anywhere but in Cordelia’s apartment right now.

The brunette in question seemed oblivious to the charged atmosphere, and the discreetly sulking vampire; maybe that was a bit strong- change that to being deep in thought? Even as he did so, Wes had a feeling he was right with his first description.

He would have had to be completely deaf and blind not to have picked up on the subtle shift in the last couple of days, and he had to wonder what had caused it, as for two weeks previous, all had been quite calm after the storm they’d endured.

Angel seemed a little tense the past few days, and surprisingly tired-looking, and although Cordelia seemed her usual bubbly self, there was a tinge of discomfort that reared its head whenever within touching distance of the vampire. What had changed? That he couldn’t be sure about. Fair enough, those two had always been so close; familial in fact.

He’d picked that up as soon as he’d seen them together that first time since Sunnydale. And that dreadful incident with the demon pregnancy had shown him a side to the vampire Wes never wanted to experience again. Gentle and supportive towards Cordelia, but out of her range his eyes had shot fire, his broad shoulders tensed with restrained violence. He often wondered how that Christopher guy had fared when Angel had caught up with him.

Today had been a catalyst, and now the English man found all his questions answered in just a few hours of being stuck in the same apartment with the pacing and tense vampire. Angel was the victim of that sometime evil taskmaster, Love, and although Angelus was no longer a threat, it didn’t ease Wes’ worries at all. Cordelia, he reckoned, was oblivious to the subtle signs, and for that he was partly relieved: a nineteen-year-old human woman-child, and a 240-plus vampire… not a good combination at all, in his personal opinion.

Something else he’d picked up on. Yesterday morning when he’d arrived at such a godforsaken time, even through Cordelia’s ranting, he half noticed the lack of bedding on the couch. Now some could say that the vampire was an early riser- and that could be the reason for his tiredness and seeming irritation lately; but no. His own usual arrival time of nine o’clock would often find the Vampire answering the door straight from his makeshift bed. Another thing bugged him too.

Before Cordelia had espied his additions to their newly forming library, he could have sworn he saw anxiety and embarrassment in those hazel depths at his early arrival- plus she had been dressed, which in itself was somewhat a miracle. Normally the brunette wouldn’t surface from her room until at least a few hours before lunch, and even then would exit in her night garments and robe

Something definitely was up, but his fearful mind just couldn’t even formulate his suspicions inwardly, never mind put into a verbal question. Was it his business anyway? This was what he had to decide before an attempt was made to find out what the hell was going on in this apartment in his absence.

Cordelia’s attempts to stifle her yawns dragged him out of his contemplations, and he belatedly realized it was fast approaching midnight. Her first adventure from the apartment since she’d arrived home from the hospital had obviously caught up with her, and with a decisive snap of his book, Wesley surged to his feet.

“Well, I don’t know about you two, but my eyes are rather tired, so I think that is my cue to get off home.” He pronounced diplomatically, and was sure he caught an expression of relief briefly flitting across the vampire’s face.

“Well, must admit I’m pretty whacked myself; long day,” Cordelia agreed with a sigh, rising up from her place on the couch, “I’ll get your coat, Wes.” She offered, walking over to the coat stand where, for once, he’d hung it instead of its usual place amid the piles of growing books.

Angel remained on his own on the couch, head still dipped in seeming concentration on the book in his lap, only glancing up with a “See you Tomorrow, Wes”, before dropping his head back down and leaving Cordelia to open the door as the ex-Watcher juggled a few books in his arms.

Wes let his own sigh of relief puff out when the door closed behind him, glad to leave the tension-filled room, not realizing how bad it was until the weight of it dropped from him when stepping across the lawn towards his motorbike.

This was something he needed to deal with in his own way; observe and absorb until he was sure of his suspicions- then decide if he had the right to verbalize his misgivings. That decided, he strapped the books securely, put on his helmet and rode off into the night


Cordelia turned from the door with her own sigh. “Dennis? Could you put the kettle on, please?” she asked with a smile, and grinned even more when she heard the sound of the tap coming on.

Walking over until she stood directly in front of the sitting, silent vampire, she tilted her dark head. “You want some red goodness, Angel?” his grunt made her frown. What was his problem? So she asked.

“That’s a pretty big bee you got in your bonnet, broody; wassup?” his head jerked up at that and finally met her eyes. Clueless as ever- that was a good thing in a way, as he himself really had no real idea why he was being so grumpy.

Yes he did. Gunn was something he possibly never would be; street smart, able to take care of himself and an ability to protect his loved ones, yeah, Angel matched him and more on those areas. But, Gunn was the one thing he may or may not ever be: human. Some would say that with the news of his coming Shanshu, that was a moot point. But Cordelia could be long cold in her grave by the time that major event happened.

“Nothing,” his single reply only aggravated her more. She tried to recall when the vampire became more broody than usual, and slowly it dawned on her that it had started shortly after Charles Gunn had arrived.

“Is it Gunn? Doncha like him?” her hands crept up onto her hips, pulling his dark gaze to the barely-there skirt she still wore, and his own scowl deepened.

“I have no problem with him, no,” he answered truthfully- well, it was partly true, anyway! He’d always admired the young black man, and he’d come through for him at some pretty bad times; nope, he liked him… just didn’t like his seer’s seeming interest in him.

“So why the grouchy face? Lucky for you Gunn didn’t notice, or you would have put his nose outta joint, what with you making him feel unwelcome in MY home.” Her emphasis on that word stiffened his spine.

“Well, I’ll make sure to find another one just as soon as I can since I’m cramping your style so much,” her eyes widened, then narrowed with annoyance.

“Don’t be facetious, Angel. And if you’re gonna get all hurty feelings every time I have my say, god know how you’ll survive in the long run, cos that’s just the way I am.” she folded her arms across her chest, unknowingly propping up her full breasts and drawing his gaze from her face. “Thought you woulda known that fact by now.” Hearing the kettle boil and bubble, Cordelia turned away from him and stalked into the kitchen.

By the time she’d poured the hot water into her mug, Angel had followed her in and stood a few feet away, his large hands hidden in his pockets. “Wanna drink?” she asked again, glancing over her shoulder in time to see him shake his head.

“I’m sorry,” he finally spoke, but his voice showed anything but apology. Turning round fully, Cordelia clutched her coffee mug and walked over to the kitchen table, but didn’t sit down, merely placed her drink on the Formica top.

“Just say it, Angel, cos, hello? Not as much time as you to wait for you to spit it out.” Folding her arms tightly across her chest again. Angel clenched his hands into fists in his pockets and thought about how to put his feelings of concern into words.

“I just don’t want you hanging around with a guy like Gunn” he finally stated baldy, wincing at the shocked expression on her face.

Cordelia pursed her lips and eyed him caustically before speaking.

“Is it cus he is black?” she asked just as baldly, her way of speaking reminding him again of the day she’d spent with the street talking young man.

“God, no! I-I just meant-“he denied instantly, surprised she’d even think that would cross his mind. Her eyes turned calculating as she deliberately weighed her next words.

“Look, If I happen like a little color in my men, well damn, It has nothing to do with you,” Cordelia cringed inwardly as her own words echoed in the room.

Yeah, she liked Gunn, but hadn’t considered him as more than a friend- and not because of his color; that had nothing to do with attraction whatever the race or color the opposite sex happened to be. But Angel had a nerve! What other reason would he have a problem with it? Sometimes she forgot just how ancient and sometimes old-worldly he actually was.

“I bet he wouldn’t mind having a little color in you, either” Angel muttered under his breath, then swallowed hard, hoping the brunette had not heard that, then groaned when her eyes widened almost comically.

“What did you just say?” her voice a whisper as his comment soaked into her stunned brain. He did NOT just go there!

“Nothing” he denied. Taking a step back instinctively. Fuck, he’d really done it now; Angel the most socially inept being on the planet.

“It didn’t sound like nuthin to me” she returned coldly, ice forming over her beautiful eyes, “And you can just set yo ‘white’ pasty, racist ass on the couch tonight, and think of ‘nuthin’ all night long” she added, forgetting her fresh drink and stalking out of the kitchen, pushing him out of the way as she did so.

Angel stared after her rapidly retreating form, debating what to do next, then sighed heavily; looked like his brief sojourn in her bed had come to an end- at least for tonight, anyway… and as the thought entered his mind, he swallowed again even as he tensed.

Cordelia kicking him out of bed and they weren’t even a couple yet. The ‘yet’ jolted him and he sank slowly into a seat at the table and reached for her discarded drink.

God, was he in trouble!

Cordelia slammed her door and huffed her way over to her bed where she threw herself across it and cursed the already cursed vampire. Well, what’s one more to add to it? She decided angrily. Then it sank in what she’d more of less said a few minutes before.

She had kicked him out of her bed and they weren’t even a couple yet. The ‘yet’ jolted her whole body, and her hands fisted her covers as she hid her burning face in a pillow, groaning when his all male scent hit her in delicious waves.

God, was she in trouble!

Chapter 7


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