The lack of gross cobwebs surprised her.
So long left abandoned and yet not one cobweb in sight. What; was Angelus so feared that even spiders were afraid to spin their sticky little webs in a place he owned? He did own it, didn’t he? Wow… Mister Evil was kinda handy to have around if you had an irrational fear of eight-legged little fiends. Not that you’d have to worry about the creepy little beggars once he’d got his hands on you…though Mister Soul hadn’t done too bad a job had he?
God, and the sheets…soft but a little dusty even though they’d been laundered and folded up all nice before being put away…they smelled of him.
How was that possible? All this time- and they’d been laundered, and yet there was no mistaking that smell. Her nose had been pressed against his sweaty collarbone more than long enough for the scent of him to be forever etched in her nasal memory. But she still nuzzled deeper into the soft pillow.
Face down on his bed, fully dressed with strappy shoes still on her feet, Cordy drifted off into a fitful sleep, her last semi coherent thoughts on the friends she’d left behind and the unpalatable fact drumming through her exhausted mind that if she’d wanted to forget a certain tall dark and darker vampire, this maybe wasn’t the best place to do it…
A week or so later…
“As I keep on telling you, Angel; so far, we haven’t been able to ascertain Cordelia’s whereabouts” Gunn glanced over and sucked in an irritated breath.
Ever since that morning, the vampire had either rang or turned up to ask the same question. Gunn couldn’t understand it. A week ago the dude didn’t want to share his space with them anymore, so what was with him now? He turned over the card in his hands, smoothing out the edges where his friend and colleague had creased them by continuously getting it out to read.
The postmark was from a place about an hour outside LA, and when they climbed into the truck to check the place out, all they’d found was a gas station. One of those stop-only places that sold everything under the sun at exorbitant prices. There weren’t any residential places nearby and it hadn’t taken a genius to realize Cordy must have thumbed a ride out from wherever she was laying low, just to post the card. Eyeing Wes’ face when they’d located the area, Gunn figured the man probably had a fair idea where she was.
The card didn’t say much- just the usual ‘I’m okay, don’t worry. Take care-watch your backs” kinda note, but it meant a lot. Especially to Wes. Further down had been a message care of the PTB. Seemed she was still vision girl, and still for LA. What was up with that? His smooth dark head lifted at the sound of the receiver being replaced, and he let out a breath he wasn’t aware he was holding.
“Are ya gonna tell him?” Gunn finally asked, and Wes leaned back in his chair and rubbed a weary hand across his face.
“Good, let him sweat.” Wes almost frowned in censure then stopped himself. Gunn was right. Angel had lost all rights the night he’d fired them- plus, regardless of the vampire’s unusually emotional reaction to the news, he still blamed him for her abrupt departure. Any clues as to the whereabouts of Cordelia were strictly their business now.
Angel dropped the phone and rolled his broad shoulders until the bones in his neck cracked satisfyingly. The second call of the night had left a bitter taste on the back of his tongue.
“Angel? Hi!” the almost ecstatic pleasure threaded through with uncertainty in that oh, so familiar voice brought back memories he’d long ago pushed down with great difficulty. Tensing, he’d waited for the burn, and had been more than a little surprised to feel only the faintest tinge of regret in his heart, and the ease with which he managed to shove those memories aside now.
“Is anything wrong?” She’d added after a pause, her tone gaining an edge until Angel reassured her all was well.
“No, we’re good, just wanted to – make sure you and the others were okay. He’d grimaced when her voice instantly warmed to his response. Dammit!.
After several minutes of listening to her summary of the goings on in her life Sunnydale, then assuring her again all was well his end, he’d ended the call, promising to call again soon at her insistence.
His long fingers tapped absently on the counter top, his eyes unfocussed and features grim. Regret at his decision to call Buffy ate into him, but at the same time he needed to know.
If Cordelia had turned up in Sunnydale, he didn’t doubt it would have come up in conversation.
A small part of his brain was telling him that this was what he’d wanted- for her to keep far away from him. That was why he’d done what he had. Angel raked shaky hands through his dark hair, swallowing the bile of self-hatred down hard. It was for the best – it was! Even the smallest chance of Darla finding his weakness… what Cordelia meant to him -and especially where she was…. But, hell, he hadn’t expected his seer to disappear completely from his radar. He’d fucked up.
“Dammit!!” his hand swept roughly across the counter, knocking the phone to the floor before turning to stride across the lobby towards the stairs. He didn’t have time for this. Things were heating up, and now that Darla had been turned into a soulless demon yet again, wreaking havoc upon Los Angeles with Dru, Angel needed to focus on his game plan. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, he forced himself to clear his head.
But his almost obsessive need to find out where Cordelia was, refused to dim. “Where the hell are you?” he muttered under his breath, tugging on his torn and soiled sweater and yanking it over his tousled head, discarding it carelessly as he rapidly ascended the stairs.
“Seven Ninety-Eight, Miss,” Cordelia glanced from the small pile of goods to the young man who served her, a frown marring her smooth brow.
“Are you sure you worked that out right?” she asked, chewing at her full bottom lip when he nodded. “Okay,” she muttered, opening her wallet and pulling out a ten-dollar bill. Her funds were dwindling at an alarming rate, and she’d only been here just over a week! Cordelia grimaced, thinking of the unexpected crash-diet hovering threateningly on the horizon.
Retrieving her change after stowing the items into a bag, she thanked the young cashier and turned to exit the store- and bumped into a wall of firm flesh and bone. Startled, she took a hasty step back, looking up to apologize, but the word stuck in her throat even as her mouth dropped open in shock.