At Last


AUTHOR: CydneStorm
SUMMARY: Cordelia’s date takes her for a clandestine picnic in the woods around Angel’s mansion, and leaves her there when darkness falls and the vamps come out to play. An AO/FSB Challenge.
RATING: PG/PG13
POSTED: 15 July 2005
CATEGORY: Fluff, Humor and a Little Romance
CONTENT/PAIRING: A/C during BTVS S1
WARNINGS: None listed
AUTHOR’S NOTES:
1) Song Inspiration: ‘At Last’ by Ella Fitzgerald
2) Story Backdrop: The story takes place in early BTVS S1, but the similarities pretty much end there. Angel has been in Sunnydale only a short time, has met Buffy and disclosed he’s a vampire and his reason for being there. Their partnership is tolerated at this point with no real camaraderie yet established. Cordelia is 100% Queen C, oblivious of things that go bump in the night until she meets a special night bumper. I’m not one that gets into character flaming, but…I figured as early as the story is set the Scoobies would be rather inept with their vampire patrolling and staking and since Angel doesn’t instantly worship Buffy he’d likely find her and her cohorts annoying.


Squinting against the lingering rays of the evening sun, Cordelia slipped the sunglasses onto her face. Not even the blaze of the sun could penetrate a pair of Costa Del Mar.

Gazing at her date, Cordelia flashed a brilliant smile. Her date, yet another reason wealthy, influential parents were on her must have list. The small sports car, a Miata Italia glided over the narrow road. Its driver, Ashton Weatherby, a junior at UCLA and summer intern with her father, a new must have.

Winding down its speed to a slow crawl, Ashton veered the small car from the rough payment onto a makeshift path of lumps of bumps. “It’s a little out of the way, but I think you’ll like the spot I selected for our picnic.” The words rattled up his diaphragm under the joggles and jolts of the lumpy path.

The car stopped and Ashton leaped over the closed door, Cordelia stifling a snort when his shoe hooked under the steering wheel leaving him momentarily hanging over the side. Both feet on the ground, Ashton quickly regained his composure retrieving their blanket and basket from the pocket-sized trunk. Opening Cordelia’s door, he reached out his hand, “we’ll have to walk from here; it’s not far.”

Taking the offered hand Cordelia pushed from the low seat. Standing on the mound of dirt clods suggested as a path she took in the scenery seeing nothing but tall grass, trees and too little sunlight. “When you said out of the way, you weren’t kidding.” Cordelia declared, the disapproving wrinkle of her brow gracefully hidden behind the rim of large, designer eyewear.

Clutching his hand tighter for support, all thoughts of romance under the moonlight momentarily set aside; Cordelia hobbled along, four inch strappies rebelling with every step. God, are equal parts looks and brains too much to ask for? I could be in Tuscany with my parents, but nooo, I’m hiking through the jungle because this idiot wants to have a picnic in the middle of the night.

“We’re almost there,” Ashton announced looking down at his date.

You said that twenty minutes ago. “Great,” Cordelia piped out a little too excitedly, eyes locked on her shoes having given up any attempt to view the dark path in front of her.

“Here it is,” another announcement and Cordelia bit her tongue holding back a thank God shout.

Ashton spread out the blanket brushing out the wrinkles. Cordelia stood to the side, hands on her hips, a right foot embellished with red painted toenails and powdered in dust tapping impatiently for a place to sit.

Within minutes the picnic connoisseur had their smorgasbord laid out, including two chilled bottles of Dom Perignon Rose. Cordelia was quickly on her way to being impressed again, Ashton may have picked an asinine time and place for their picnic but he hadn’t skimped on the cuisine. The basket was from Gourmet Celebrations in LA, he must have had it couriered to Sunnydale.

Thirty minutes later, experience little more than sipping during special occasions, Cordelia’s face felt flushed. Determined not to remind Ashton of her tender age, she ignored the tingling in her fingers and toes, presenting her empty glass for its second fill.

“Yummm, Dom Perignon Rose,” Cordelia enthused at her handsome date. Thoughts of dumping him as soon as she returned to civilization diluted by her second glass. “A woman appreciates those little efforts of the finer things.”

“You have no idea how your appreciation affects me.” Ashton leaned over whispering in her ear. The moisture she felt from his whispered words making Cordelia wonder if she might have a little spittle in her ear.

Giddy laughter and male chuckles wafted into the darkening quiet as the couple enjoyed their private celebration for two.
More teenagers, he silently grumbled as chuckles and giggles intruded on his private sanctuary. Angel squirmed again; yet another attempt to settle his mind and body into a good book and comfortable chair.

His eyes wandered from the page, the visual of his last trespassers replaying effortlessly in his head. Too young and inexperienced to appreciate a woman’s body, the boy had jerked and fumbled his way to a speedy finish while the young girl wriggled in frustration, left on the losing side of that finish line. Angel grumbled again, wasted youth, he should have turned the hose on them instead of watching the show.
Cordelia smiled at her date ignoring the mosquitoes nibbling on her ankles. “I’m sure you’ll show me how my appreciation inspires you ,” she whispered her reply foolishly anticipating their next meal to be at Sunnydale’s finest, and only bistro.

“My thoughts exactly Cordelia,” Ashton cooed. His fingers gripping her shoulders he pushed her onto the blanket, the liquid remnants of her glass streaming onto her dress.

“What-” Cordelia struggled against the over indulgence of champagne numbing her senses. “What do you think you’re doing?” She tried again, relieved to hear the indignation ringing in her voice.

“Enjoying your appreciation.” Ashton leered, snatching the empty glass from her fingers and rolling on top of her.

He attacked her mouth, the pressure of the hard kiss preventing her from turning away. Mind racing, Cordelia considered her options, or lack of acceptable possibilities. Curling her fingers at Ashton’s neck she dug with all her strength, white tipped nails tinting red as they scraped across sensitive flesh.

Ashton yelped from the pain, yanking away from her mouth. “You bitch,” he yelled drawing back an open palm.

“You don’t like it rough give me a try.”

The young man turned toward the intruder prepared to warn him of his intrusive mistake. Instead a shrieking howl erupted sounding his deadly fright into the night.

Reacting quickly, Cordelia scrambled away from her attacking escort making her escape. She released a harrowing scream of her own when the move gave her opportunity to view the cause of her date’s retching shriek.
The harrowing screams sliced into the solitude the dark mansion. Reacting on instinct Angel threw the book from his lap as he leaped from the chair and raced outside.

He grabbed one of the three vampires, tearing him from the throat of his victim. Ashton rolled away, obscenities spewing from his fear twisted mouth.
Cordelia huddled on the blanket, muscles paralyzed by the shockwave of nightmares coming true.

One vampire dusted with a stake and one from its impalement on a tree branch, Angel wrestled with the third. The last stronger than the first two and in momentary falter of strength, Angel vamped out boosting his advantage. Large hands with nails sharp and long crushed his opponent’s throat, and with a twisting jerk the fight was over.

Only one survivor and one monster remained. Nowhere in sight was her lily-livered date, having dashed down the trail determined to save his own hide. Still vamp face Angel stalked toward Cordelia.

“Get away from me,”

“Cordelia? Cordelia Chase?

“Great, the dog-face boy knows my name.”

“It’s me Ang-” His head whipped to the side giving way to the hard impact of the champagne bottle.

Angel staggered back, dropping to his knees; the unexpected blow rattling his senses. Cordelia froze in her stance, arm stretched over her head ready for another strike. She watched in shock and dawning amazement as mad-dog features faded and softened into rugged, salty goodness.

“Angel? What the…?” Eyes rolling back, over-taxed nervous system succumbing to the too much to handle revelation, Cordelia collapsed, weapon of expensive bubbly still clutched in her grip.

Dark clouds heavy with trapped moisture broke open releasing their downpour. Angel pushed to his feet, shaking the lingering fuzziness from his head. He grabbed Cordelia’s limp form throwing her over his shoulder, his free hand snatching her purse and the deadly, uncorked bottle of Dom Perignon.
Both soaked before Angel could escape the drenching downpour, his boots squished as he stepped onto the dry floor of the kitchen. Dumping the bottle and purse onto the table Angel continued into the main room searching for a place to dump his rain-soaked house guest.

The rug in front of the fireplace; it would stave off the chill of the rain and the rug would easily dry from the warmth of the fire. A place selected, Angel eased the unconscious girl onto the floor. Adding wood to the dwindling fire he stoked the flames into a roaring blaze. Keen senses scanning vital signs, he was satisfied the young woman had only fainted from the frightening attack and shock of his vampire visage. With any luck the overindulgence of overpriced champagne would prolong her sleep until he could figure out what to do with her.

Cordelia’s immediate comfort seen to, Angel took off upstairs anxious to be rid of his own waterlogged clothing. Deciding against a hot shower, he settled for a brisk towel-drying of his wet skin. The change to dry clothing complete, Cordelia’s wet state was in need of consideration. Not yet sure how he would accomplish the feat Angel draped a clean towel around his neck then grabbed a shirt and pair of boxers. Heading from his room he snatched the blanket from the foot of the bed as inspiration hit.

After covering her upper body with the blanket Angel straddled Cordelia’s hips, reaching underneath until he found the straps of her dress. He slid the dress from her body careful to bring the protection of the blanket in the downward sweep. Reaching her hips, fingers brushed against another layer of silk stuck to wet skin. Throwing better thought aside he continued in his task snagging the skimpy waistband with his fingers. Scooting down her legs as he slid the wet clothing away Angel pulled them from under the blanket tossing them aside.

Easy part over, it was now time to dress the young woman while respecting her privacy. If he dressed her on the wet rug, dry clothing would be short lived. Shirt in hand Angel scratched his head waiting for another brainstorm of inspiration.

Decision made Angel grabbed the towel and slipped his hands under the blanket again. He dried the length of her front, careful to keep fabric between itchy fingers and soft, moist skin. Rolling Cordelia onto her side, he ignored the bare bottom coming into view, the flames of the fire licking its warmth against creamy skin.

Concentrating on the task at hand, Angel dried her backside, keeping the blanket firmly pressed against the front of her body that would offer the more tantalizing view. Easing Cordelia onto her back and straddling her again, Angel scrubbed the towel into long, damp hair.

Slipping his hands under her, Angel scooped Cordelia’s blanket covered body into his arms. The couch, set close to the fireplace, would offer a warm and dry place for her to rest. The drying off not as difficult as he feared, he now needed to figure out a way to dress her with equal simplicity.
Brainstorm inspirations used up Angel returned to scratching his head. This would definitely prove to be a trickier endeavor and require a second, more concentrated head-scratch. Kneeling beside the couch he considered his options.

I could just remove the blanket until I’m finished, she’ll never know. Besides, she should be grateful I brought her inside instead of leaving her to the storm and two-legged predators. Forging ahead Angel gripped the blanket between tense fingers; lifting it up, the concealing material hovered above her sleeping form. Screw this; I’ve seen more women naked than most men have fantasized about. I won’t be intimated by this girl…that’s not even conscious.

Sufficiently riled, Angel swept the blanket back baring the naked form which silently but insistently contradicted his assumption of girl. Time seemingly frozen, Angel stared at the beautiful, naked body stretched before him.

A model waiting to be immortalized by the artist’s brushstroke, Aphrodite, Sleeping Beauty; all captured the essence of this perfectly sculpted creature. Eyelids fluttered resisting the call of commonsense to shut out the tantalizing view. His body hummed with a hungry passion long believed buried. Fingers itched with aching need to touch the warm, soft flesh of intimate places.

His hand hovered over a breast, wavering and trembling against desire. A finger curled and dipped toward a pert nipple embellished with a rosy hue. Eyes dark with lust scanned down the length of her feminine form until reaching the dark, curly patch at the apex of her thighs. Angel groaned, snapping his eyes shut and fisting the hovering hand.

The battle forged, its strength faltering against desire until a weak whimper ripped him from his agony. Angel jerked back, his body drawing into itself as though burned by her disapproval. Cordelia shifted and whimpered again; lush, pouty lips quivering against the chill.

Grabbing the dry clothing, Angel dressed her quickly; all lustful thoughts properly shoved into the dark recesses of a souled vampire’s mind. The last of his required attention complete, Angel covered Cordelia with the blanket and moved away placing a safe distance between them, and waited, and paced…and paced.

Thunder cracked and rumbled; lightening flashed, electrical streaks surging its light through the heavy fabric covering the windows. Cordelia awoke from her nightmare eyes wide, body seized by heavy pants. She blinked, lashes fluttering at shutter speed focusing on her surroundings. The wide form, a blurry statue slowly came into view; hands shoved into pockets it stood stock still, face void of emotion.

“What’s going on? Did you hear me screaming?” Cordelia continued to rattle. “God I probably have the neighborhood in a frenzy-you won’t believe the dream I just had.”

“You’re safe now, just try to relax.” The statue spoke but didn’t move.

“I remember you.” Cordelia gazed inquisitively at the stoic figure on the opposite side of the room. “Umm, Angel…why are you in my room?”

His rigid form stiffened against the absence of a calming answer, blending further into the shadows. “This isn’t your room, you’re-you’re…this is where I live.”

Events rushed to the forefront of her befuddled brain. Not a nightmare, well yea, a nightmare; just not the kind you can wash down with a midnight snack of chocolate and cherry kool-aid.

Another flash of electricity followed by a heavy rumble and Cordelia jerked upright clutching the blanket around her. The room spun momentarily, her head aching, mind fuzzy and heavy. Champagne, whether imported or purchased at the local convenience store, the hangover was the same.

“You found me…is Aston all right?”

“I think so, he took off during the fight.”

“Figures, looks rarely keep company with intelligence…and honor, I’ve given up looking.”

So that’s why she only socializes with the elite, that empty, adolescent bunch that wouldn’t recognize an unselfish act if it bit them on the ass. Cordelia doesn’t have faith that compassion exists in humanity. I proved that point tonight; compassion only if rewarded.

“So you live here?” Cordelia asked looking around the dimly lit room, its spaces dark except for the fire and a few scattered candles. “Did the storm knock out the electricity?”

“I don’t think so. I rarely use it, being here by myself. If you want to take a bath, I’ll check if the water’s hot.” Stupid-stupid-stupid. The last thing you need is her naked again.

“Bath,” Cordelia practically squeaked. “No, no bath,” she stammered reaching a hand from under the blanket and squeezing a fistful of damp hair. “I feel like I’ve had a bath already.”

“Yea, uh, that, it started raining before I could get you inside.”

“You saved me…from those…things. Why’d you do that, risk your life like that; you don’t even know me.”

“I heard you scream and I reacted.” Angel’s tone matter of fact, as though no other action were acceptable.

Cordelia smiled at Angel, it was small but real, not like the fake ones he had witnessed at The Bronze. The honesty of it invited a reaction and the corners of his lips twitched up in response.

Leaning against the far wall, cloaked in the shadows, her rescuer seemed unreachable. Cordelia stood from the couch wrapping the blanket snuggly around her, toes curling under when feet felt the cool, bare wood underneath.

“Are you afraid of girls…or is it just me?”

“What-no.”

“Well then, are you holding up your wall so it won’t fall down?”

“What-no.” Idiot, make a complete sentence, you’re not one of those pups nipping at her heels.

Her eyes widened in question; waiting for proof, Angel reasoned, the wall wouldn’t collapse. He straightened from the wall, hands digging deeper into over-taut pockets, dark eyes staring back and shoulders slumped. “See.” Oh yea, that was suave.

Dork. Cordelia smiled again, its light breaching the dark distance between them. Ignoring wobbly legs numb from her ordeal and too much champagne, she approached in a slow saunter.

Angel tensed, nails digging through his pockets scrapping flesh as Cordelia laid a hand against his cheek.

“Thank you,” she whispered gazing into eyes full of confusing contradiction. “You risked your life to save me, you have a good heart Angel.”
Her hand slid down, fingers lightly caressing his neck in their sweep. Angel gripped her hand stopping its descent and lifting it from his body before it could reach the hollow silence of his chest.

“You should lie back down.” Eyes widened questioning his hasty intervention. She thinks I don’t want her to touch me. The back of curled fingers brushed up a cheek, reaching her hairline he tucked the damp strands behind her ear. “You’ve been through a lot tonight, you need to rest.”

His words opened the door for reality, its return surprisingly unwelcome but necessary. Cordelia stepped back, pulling her hand from his grip as Angel’s hand fell from her cheek. “I should go, I need to get home. Do you have a car?”

Angel debated, doing the right thing and trudging through the pouring rain to the shed housing his car or taking a chance that the wrong decision could prove to be right. “No,” he whispered his choice.

“Do you at least have a phone?”

Angel eyed the young woman. Her hair was beginning to dry, hanging in wavy layers, large dark eyes and pouty lips, and full, ample breasts. “No.”

Another whisper but the more resolute tone elicited a barely suppressed gasp. Cordelia didn’t know this man. He had saved her and for that she was grateful but other than a few stolen glances at The Bronze she knew nothing about him. The Bronze, Buffy Summers, he spends time with that weirdo girl who hangs out with losers. I so need to get out of here. “Well I have one,” Cordelia flashed a sweet smile, finger pressed to her chin pushing up at her bottom lip; she twisted her hips first right then left. “But it’s in my purse…which is outside.”

That smile Angel recognized as well as the hypnotizing sash shay of her hips. He had watched Cordelia use the seductive maneuver on those boys gorged with an overrun of hormones and reeking of pimple cream. “Unless your purse is waterproof I don’t think your phone will be useful.”

Cordelia took another step back hoping distance from her handsome but mysterious rescuer would make weighing her options easier. Nope didn’t work. Dashing outside in search of her purse was quickly shelved due to weather, even with the second floor above her she could hear the heavy downpour pounding against the roof. Shoulders slumped, she yielded to her present situation and examined the dim path leading back to the couch.

Her eyes fell on the scrunched up wad of wet silk; the color looking too familiar. Cordelia jerked the blanket away from her front spying the oversized, black shirt that had managed to elude her earlier. Frantic curiosity getting the better of her, she risked holding the blanket with one hand and allowed the other to discretely lift the tailored tail of the shirt. What the… Boxers, much too big, secured to her trim waist by the tightly drawn drawstring tied in an equally tight knot.

Cordelia concentrated on the feel of fabric against skin. My underwear is definitely missing. What the… Searching eyes flashed at the stiff frame that had again taken refuge against the wall. I can’t go out in public like this and these boxers are gonna bunch under my dress cause that thong ain’t ever touching this skin again. Lord only knows what he did with it while I was passed out.

Angel could hear her heartbeat soar, throbbing underneath luscious breasts his fingers itched to uncover; blood ripe with fear gushed threw veins hot and tender. He shook the image from his mind, the action appearing almost violent to Cordelia.

“Did you…” Cordelia turned pointing an accusing finger, a stranger except for their possibly one-sided familiarity. “You-you-you–”

“Nothing happened,” Angel quickly defended, pushing himself from the wall with an equal swiftness that propelled him too close in Cordelia’s frenzied opinion. “We were both soaked…I had to get us into dry clothes.”

“Us!”

“Not together, I did me first then I did you.”

“Did me!”

“Will you stop,” Angel demanded scrubbing tensely crooked fingers through his air-dried spiked hair. “You make it sound dirty when you shriek parts of it like that.” He half turned avoiding Cordelia’s doubting glare. “Yes,” he tried again spinning back, armed with the truth. “I changed you out of your wet clothes but,” he hesitated, his truth losing its credence. It’s not a lie…just a partial truth. “I never touched you except to dress you.”

It was Cordelia’s turn to avoid the indignant glare. Eyes lowering, she half turned mulling over his words. Angel risked his life to save her, had put her in warm, dry clothing and covered her with a blanket. She should be grateful instead of accusing him of taking advantage of her situation.

“It’s been a really traumatic night.” She whispered, eyes still glued to the floor. “If those things hadn’t attacked us my date would have…and if you hadn’t…then…”

Her voice trailed off again but it didn’t matter, Angel understood the unspoken ramifications. The spicy savor of her innocence would be obvious even to a fledgling and Angel released a held gasp of air as relief flooded. Until this moment he had believed Cordelia to be a willing partner in the moonlit one-night stand he had come accustomed to witnessing lately, but Cordelia had no intention of giving her innocence to that low-life; considered human simply by his breeding.

Anger dueled with relief as it swelled up tightening his chest even more. One broad step and he closed the distance between them; an arm swept around her waist turning her into his body as his hand gently cupped her face lifting it to his. “I would never have allowed that to happen. Even if the vampires hadn’t shown up, I would have heard you struggle and I would have stopped him.”

Cordelia had never felt such a inviolability before and the brief reference to vampires faded into the background without notice. Sinking into the safe
harbor of Angel’s strong arms, she surrendered the weight of her emotions and allowed the tears to finally come. The hand at her cheek slipped around her back joining the other creating an invincible haven.

Stretching up her tear-stained face she kissed the edge of his cheek, then pressed her soft, moist lips against his neck. “I’m sorry.”

Undone by the simple action Angel buried his face in the crook of her neck, her pulse a steady thrum against his mouth. Passion swelled from his belly, rising and choking any linger of judgment. Bone and muscle shifted as control weakened and gave up its struggle. It had been so long since he was touched, over two centuries without soft, feminine warmth freely given. Angel shook against the change, drawing her closer to hide the monstrous visage that would take the warmth away.

Cordelia wiggled against the tightening embrace, lungs laboring to bring air into their constricted space. Forcing her head up, eyes widened as the fire’s light flicked against a long, sharp fang protruding below a tightly stretched lip. The hot breath of her scream blew against his face and his arms banded tighter instead of withdrawing.

“Cordelia wait, I can explain.”

“Explain…You’re-you’re…what-what are you?” Cordelia half asked, half accused struggling harder against the steel bands that held her.

Desperation relinquished allowing the frightened young woman her freedom, which she instinctively grabbed scurrying to the far side of the room.

Passion dowsed by cold reality, mad-dog features melted into the handsome guise that had enchanted Cordelia just minutes before.

“Cordelia just calm down,” Angel urged, muscles clinching; this wasn’t the way he wanted to tell her. “I’m a vampire,” Angel announced with heavy regret.

“Like those things outside?” Cordelia asked, voice chattering; her body cold with fear she wrapped the blanket tighter finding little solace in the piddling distance or hard wall pressed against her back.

“No-no, not like them,” Angel defended. “I have a soul.” OK good, I’ve told her. Now she’ll calm down and we can talk. “I don’t hunt humans.”

“Hunt!”

OK not calm, said too much.

“That’s what they were doing…hunting?” Like big game hunters?”

Angel felt a smile tug at his mouth. Twice in one night he had smiled from genuine enjoyment, another missing facet in his existence. “Humans aren’t exactly big game.” Angel corrected, enjoying how the grin felt and having no intentions of hiding it.

“Allow me to wallow in my disappointment for being paltry prey for the flesh eaters.” Cordelia spit, eyes flashing her resentment of Angel’s opinion as anger took charge over fear.

“Humans eat cattle.” Angel countered flashing Cordelia a smug look with his comparison.

“You’re comparing me sitting at the table and eating a steak to what went on out there!” Cordelia shrieked, insulted beyond belief that an occasional burger could label her a vulture. “I might eat meat, I might enjoy a juicy slab on the grill now and then, but…I don’t chase cows around the pasture.”

Angel watched as the young woman stalked back and forth on her side of the room, hands alternately releasing their grasp on the blanket to wave defiantly above her head. God she’s beautiful. Like a stealthy predator he seized half the distance separating them. Renewed passion began to smolder but he squelched the growl that threatened to rumble from his chest when…

“Does Buffy know you’re a vampire?” Angel’s mouth opened but cut off before he could answer snapped shut against her continuing rant. “Of course she does. What would she care? She’s a freak. Why would a freak-ass boyfriend bother her? You know, she tried to jab me with a sharp stick once.”

Angel waited in silence determining his opportunity for response. Is she taking a break? She should, her heart’s racing again. “Look Cordelia, things are complicated for Buffy. It’s not my place to tell you about Buffy’s life.” Crooked fingers returned to his head scrubbing through thick hair. Buffy Summers’ covert life as slayer wasn’t a secret he had a right to divulge. Angel didn’t want to discuss the other girl with Cordelia, he wanted to talk about them.

“Back up buster; who said I wanted to know anything about Buffy Summer’s personal life? Believe me, I wish the weirdo had never come to Sunnydale.”

“Then stop bringing her up,” Angel bellowed, his voice threatening to echo through the large, mostly empty fortress. He was a vampire and there was nothing he could do to change that, but Cordelia’s regression to Queen of Quips and Complaints he could handle. “And stop acting like a spoiled brat!”

“Brat! Bite me!” Cordelia cringed as the impact of her ill formed barb hit full force, a nervous giggle escaping trembling lips. “That was a euphemism,” was offered as she fidgeted with a corner of her blanket.

“Actually it wasn’t,” Angel corrected in a controlled tone. “It was a harsh response to fear and anger. He stalked closer cautiously narrowing the expanse. “A euphemism for bite me would be have a snack.”

“Whatever,” Cordelia reluctantly conceded. “Thanks for the vocabulary lesson but there’s still no need for you to rush over here, I’m not…” Don’t use anymore food words. God I hope he had his supper-what if I interrupted his supper-Jesus freakin Christ, I’m delivery. Cordelia eyed the dwindled space separating her from her rescuer turned captor. “What are you doing over here? I told you already, the diner is closed. Besides this is my side of the room.”

“Actually Cordelia,” the eerie, in-control voice corrected again, “the entire room is mine. In fact everything in this room…is mine.” This is fun, so wrong, but fun. If Cordelia thinks I’m like the animals that attacked her, who am I to convince her otherwise?

“Wha-wha-pfftt.” Cordelia’s attempt to deny fizzled into a defeated huff of air. No need to rile the hungry mad-dog.

“It’s getting late,” Angel reached out a hand making no attempt to move closer, “time to turn in.”

“Turn into what?” Cordelia asked scrunching into the cramped space of her meager corner.

“Let’s go to bed Cordelia.” Angel’s demeanor deceptively calm, he casually suggested sleep as a cure for their stressful night.

“Bed! You’ve got to be kidding me.” Cordelia challenged, frenzied panic urging her to figure out an escape. Think damn it, think…yes! “I thought vampires used the dark to prowl.”

A smidgen of relief rose as Angel’s brows arched in question. Yes! “That’s right buster, I watch dracula movies. Now you just go on, do whatever it is your kind does. Don’t let me change your routine-go on, be like a bat-flap those wings-fly into the belfry. You do have a belfry don’t you-of course you do, no self-respecting vampire would be without a belfry.”

Angel stood stock still, watching and listening, mesmerized by the beautiful vision huddled before him and blithely flustered by the undaunted innocence defying defeat. “I’m going to bed,” Angel quietly announced turning toward the stairs. Halfway up he slowed his step continuing his upward trek.

“Normally vampires can’t enter a human’s home without being invited…but since this place is owned by a demon, any human-feeding lowlife can slither in. If you change your mind my bedroom is third on the left.”

Change my mind, yea right, that’ll happen. Cordelia watched as Angel slowly ascended the stairs leaving her unguarded. What difference does it make? Where am I gonna go in this monsoon wearing king-sized underwear?

“Goodnight Cordelia. Sweet dreams and don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Angel bid never looking back before closing the door quietly behind him.

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Just my luck, kidnapped by a comedic vampire. Bastard’s more like it.” Cordelia scoffed hurrying across the room to stoke the dying fire. Using the poker she rolled a small log over checking for spiders before heaving it into the rising flames. Her exhausting endeavors doing little to interrupt her frustrated spiel, “A gentlemen would have checked the fire before going to bed.” She looked up the span of the old staircase seeing nothing but dark, hearing nothing but silence, “Bastard.”

Angel grinned into the dark space. That’s three times, maybe four he thought before deciding it didn’t matter since he’d be having many more. Maybe his punishment was finally over or maybe fate had found a new way to punish him. That didn’t matter either, Angel realized; because the prospect of his future was suddenly looking brighter. The saucy wench downstairs would see to that.

Another grin stretched across his face, hands sliding down his chest to his stomach until reaching his groin. Angel jerked his hand away rolling back onto his side. Any relief his hand could offer would be a unsatisfying substitute. He would wait, experience genuine pleasure when they make love.

“Make love,” the words whispered into the silence that didn’t feel as lonely as before. He’d had sex hundreds of times as a human, thousands as a vampire but he’d never made love. It would be a first for both, something they’d share only with each other. The anticipation echoed in his thoughts lulling Angel into a peaceful slumber.

The rain continued it relentless downpour, thunder rolling overhead shaking the old, rickety structure at its foundation. A shadow fluttered through the heavy drapes hanging over the window. Great, probably relatives swooping in for a visit. The front door, loose on its hinges, rattled as the howl of strong wind slapped against ramshackle wood.

Cordelia paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, afraid to wonder from the small light of the flames. She cursed the man-vamp-manpire who had left her alone in the dark to fight off flesh-eating intruders.

Lightening struck, guided by nature’s precision the heavy limb was sliced from the large trunk crashing through the window closest to the sanctuary of the fireplace. “Crap,” Cordelia shrieked. Blanket abandoned in a heap, she raced toward the stairs; her fright stretching the distance to the length of a football field. Damn that vampire, I’m gonna kick his ass. Cordelia shrieked again, this time calling out to the only safety her house of horrors had to offer. “Angel!”

Reaching the top of the stairs, she halted taking in the dark alcove barely shadowed by the light of the fireplace. How the hell am I suppose to count three doors if I can’t see anything. “Angel!”

Angel had heard the crash of wood shattering glass, had heard the fumbling scutter up the stairs, but waited in silence until hearing the surrendering shout of his name. A stealth rise from the bed and Angel was in the hallway scooping the frightened girl into his arms. “It’s alright baby, you’re safe.”

“But the tree-the window-splat,” Cordelia babbled wrapping her arms around Angel’s neck and holding on for dear life.

“I know, but you’re safe now. I’ve got you.” Angel cooed in a protective voice, moving them into the bedroom and closing the door with a gentle shove of his foot. “Nothing can hurt you now.”

He slipped them under the bedcovers settling Cordelia beside him and folding his body around her. “There now, that better?”

“Uhum,” she mumbled, her faced pressed against his chest. “The window’s broken, those-those things can get in. You know the ones that don’t have souls, the ones that eat pretty girls.”

“Technically you don’t have to be pretty for them to eat you.”

“Well great, I’m just a fancy desert then-not making me feel better dumbass. Now go downstairs and barricade the window.”

“Cordelia nothing is out in this storm, not even vampires.” Angel soothed swiping his lips against the pulse of her temple. “Besides, all the demons in
Sunnydale know I live here,” he added pressing his mouth against her forehead before sliding his lips across her eyelids and descending to plant a kiss on the tip of her nose. “They know better than to challenge me.” The promise was whispered against pouty lips, their trembling cajoled by the gentle pressure of his mouth.

“OK, but you better be telling the truth.” Cordelia warned snuggling deeper into he shelter of Angel’s embrace. Cordelia felt the rather long, hard object press into her stomach. If he’s a vampire and other vampires are afraid of him, why does he sleep with a big stick? “Angel? What’s that?”

“What’s what,” Angel muttered rubbing his face against the top of Cordelia’s head.

“That big stick that’s poking me. Why do you have a big stick in your bed?”

“Oh that,” Angel chuckled flexing his hips. “That’s me, I’m naked.”

“Naked!” Cordelia jerked away jolting upright. “Why the hell are you naked?”

“I sleep naked,” Angel announced sitting up to join his bed partner, “and stop cursing.” She might as well know, he surmised since he’d soon be informing her sharing his bed was to be a permanent arrangement.

“Stop freaking me out and I will.” Cordelia responded advising Angel he was to blame for any foul language spewing from her tender-aged mouth.

The bed shifted its warning only seconds before the wall sconce flared flickering a shadowy trail down his backside. God he is like a statue…a Greek god statue… Probing eyes molded around two perfectly shaped butt cheeks, flawlessly chiseled marble, cool and slick. Cordelia’s eyes snapped shut, the seductive trance broken when wandering eyes detected the swerve of lean, muscled hips. “Don’t turn around, I’ll go blind.”

“What?” Angle swung around finding Cordelia’s face scrunched and eyes squeezed in a tight clamp-hold.

“I said I’ll go blind…Mrs. Caffarelli said so.”

“Who the hell is Mrs. Caffarelli and why would she think you’d go blind?”

“Oh, who’s got a dirty mouth now? And cursing a sweet, old lady like Mrs. Caffarelli,” Cordelia chastised, eyes remaining tightly clinched.

“Tell me who Mrs. Caffarelli is and maybe I won’t need to swear at the poor, old woman.”

“Mrs. Caffarelli was my nanny and when I was twelve she told me if I looked at a boy’s…rod of sin I’d go blind.” Cordelia crossed her arms in
supposition, certain Mrs. Caffarelli would never lie to her. “So I never looked,” she added with a resolute, “hump.”

Wait, Caffarelli! “She’s not a gypsy is she?”

“How should I know? She did move around a lot after her husband died; until she came to live with us, that is. Oh my God, Mrs. Caffarelli, she must be worried sick by now!”

“You’re nanny still lives with you?”

“Yes, Mrs. Caffarelli is very old, probably over a hundred and has a heart murmur. She took care of me when I was little and now I take care of her.
Does the flesh-eater have a problem with that?” Warnings momentarily forgotten, eyelids flipped up flashing an angry glare. “Oh my God,” Cordelia shrieked at the shameless, bold nakedness standing beside the bed. “I’ll have to learn braille.”

Infuriated by Angel’s nanny remarks, Cordelia had unwittingly opened her eyes. Her mistake proved to be a provocatively eye-opening experience. If Angel’s butt was the artful chisel of marble then that…was granite, sculpted and buffed into smooth, glistening perfection.

Cordelia’s eyes clamped shut again, hands slapping over her face for added security. “That old woman was confused. The word she was looking for is skewered.” Cordelia exclaimed swinging her head back and forth in undeniable awe.

“Sweetheart, you are precious.” Angel crowed as his ego swelled, probably growing bigger than the lustfully robust tool over embellished by a naïve girl still holding onto the narrow-minded, if virtuous, counseling of an old woman.

The bed dipped and Cordelia gulped as large hands circled her arms pushing her onto her back. Angel straddled her hips careful to keep his hearty member from pressing against her. “Cordelia, look at me,” Angel gently but sternly demanded.

“Nuh-uh,” she refused clinching her eyes tighter.

“There are a lot of things my …” Angel pressed his forehead against Cordelia’s, suppressing a rising chuckle as he recalled her nanny’s words. “…rod of sin is going to do to you, but I promise, hurting you isn’t one of them. Now look at me baby, please.”

“Oh yea, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Cordelia rebuked, eyes flicking wide to glare at the hovering, naked vampire’s face.

“Cordelia, listen to-”

Heavy fisted pounding wailed into the private upstairs chamber as the front door strained against the relentless and steady whacks of super-human strength.

“Uh Angel, do vampires or demons or mad-dogs, whatever the heck they are; do they knock when they visit?”

“No,” Angel groused, disgruntled by the interruption after having just settle back into the bed.

He raised his head, dawn; spellbound by his beguiling, new roommate, Angel had missed the scent of the sun rising above the horizon. He inhaled the air again, deeper this time. Humans, not just humans, The Slayer.

“Angel? Someone’s knocking, that means go down stairs and answer the door.”

“Just ignore it, they’ll go away.”

The door rattled and clanged, loosening further from its hinges as the pounding continued.

“Doesn’t sound like it. Go see who it is. Oh God, what if it’s Mrs. Caffarelli?”

Angel pushed up from his elbows, frustration propelling him off the bed. If Mrs. Caffarelli is with them, the old woman’s going blind cause I’m not about to risk shoving this thing behind a zipper. Angel stalked toward the door, Cordelia thinking him just a little too ballsy with his buck-nakedness.

“Uh Angel, pants; you don’t want to rile the neighbors.”

“No wouldn’t want to do that,” Angel grumbled grabbing his robe from the chair and slamming the door behind him.

Whew, he’s proud of that thing, but why wouldn’t he be. I’m not blind and I definitely got a good look at it. Mrs. Caffarelli must have had a really bad experience with one. Could it have been bigger than Angel’s? God I hope not, for her sake. Her sake, what about my sake? Angel said his was going to do stuff to me. Good Lord how do I get myself into these messes? This is all Ashton’s fault.

“Where is she Dead Boy, where’s Cordelia?”

Xander, what’s Xander Harris doing here and why is he looking for me?

“Buffy what the hell is your boy spouting off about now?”

Great, weirdo girl is here and I’ll bet she’s got that pointy stick with her too.

“Look Angel,” Buffy warned bringing her freshly sharpened stake into view.

Foolish girl, learn how to hold it before you point it at a master vampire.

“Mrs. Caffarelli called Willow’s mom looking for Cordelia. She said Cordelia never returned home from her date.”

“Yea, Undead Liar Guy, we tracked down Ashton Weatherby and after a little slayer convincing-”

“Xander,” Willow whispered in a shrieking timbre, “if Cordelia is here she might hear you. Ixnay with the slayer-ay.”

Yep mousy Willow’ s here too, squeak-squeak. Good ole Ashton, leave me in the lurch and then tell the loser squad where to look in their Cordelia Chase treasure hunt.

“Oh, sorry; anyway, not-so-pretty-anymore boy admitted to running off and leaving Cordelia in the woods after they were attacked by mutant goons.”

Buffy jumped in reclaiming the reigns of leadership. “After this Ashton guy told us where he took Cordelia…” Buffy lowered her stake hoping their less than desired partnership in fighting the big bad would prevail Angel to help her find the girl. “I knew your place was the only shelter close enough for her to get to.”

Idiots, do they actually think Cordelia would have survived long enough to find shelter?

Silent seconds ticked away and Buffy forged ahead deciding a more forceful approach might work better. “Look Angel if it’s too late for Cordelia, don’t make it worse by trying to protect one of your own.”

Cordelia sprung from the bed. Crap, someone is gonna lose an eye! Forgetting her attire of borrowed clothes she dashed down the stairs. “What’s all the freakin’ hullabaloo about people? And since when does Cordelia Chase need the loser squad coming to her rescue?”

“Cordelia,” Willow shouted, “look everybody, it’s Cordelia.”

“Yes Willow, it’s Cordelia, safe and sound, and peeved at being woke up so early.”

“Cordelia,” Buffy stated in an acerbic tone, “we were only looking for you because your nanny was so upset.”

“How thoughtful of you; and does the weirdo with a kinky wood fetish have a problem with me having a nanny?”

Angel gulped, then visibly choked spinning away from the small crowd as he stifled the erupting snort.

“Yes I have a problem with it, any sane person would. You’re sixteen years old, you don’t need a nanny anymore.”

“So I don’t need a nanny,” Cordelia challenged, hands slapping against her hips, “that doesn’t mean the woman has outlived her usefulness. God Buffy have some compassion, not all of us are lucky enough to go through life with dumbass and-and…geekass by their side.”

“Well excuse me for thinking Queen Snob needed to be saved.” Xander announced crossing his arms in resentment of her bestowed dumbass title.

“I don’t need you to save me Xander Harris. I’ve already been rescued.” Cordelia announced stepping closer to Angel. Sharing a quick smile with the hottie manpire, she ran her fingers down the front his robe hoping to discretely seal the small gap before a sinful rod could rear its big head. There that’s better, we don’t want Buffy going after it thinking it’s wood. “Angel is my hero,” she proudly proclaimed, “he saved me, loaned me some dry clothes and offered me a safe place to stay until the storm passed.”

“So you want to stay here then?” Buffy asked, certain Cordelia was oblivious she was the houseguest of a vampire. “I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“Of course I do, I’m Cordelia Chase. I always know what I’m doing. But no, I need to go. I have to check on Mrs. Caffarelli, and let her know I’m OK.”
Cordelia fidgeted, shifting from foot to foot. She wanted to talk to Angel before she left but risking the freak trio knowing she and Angel had been playing slap and tickle was unacceptable.

“I hope one of you losers thought to bring a car. I can’t walk around in public wearing men’s underwear.”

“Yes Cordelia, I drove my dad’s car; without a license I might add.” Xander grumbled to the girl who hadn’t bothered to look his way.

“Angel,” Cordelia jerked her head up willing him to read between the lines, “I don’t really care about the dress, it’s probably ruined anyway; but if you find my cell phone maybe you could return it to me at The Bronze.”

“Sure,” Angel nodded.

“OK people lets make this quick,” Cordelia ordered. “I don’t know which is worse, cool people seeing me in underwear or loitering with the geek-fest.”

“You could have saved us all a lot of misery if you’d eaten her when you had the chance?” Buffy admonished following Cordelia’s swift exit, Xander and Willow tagging close behind.
TWO WEEKS LATER

The Bronze was buzzing with energy, a psychedelic rhapsody resonating around lithe bodies bumping and grinding to its strumming cadency. And Cordelia Chase was devoid of its tantalizing inflection, immune to the enthralling addiction ravaging the desperately groping couples.

It had been fourteen days since she had walked out of the old mansion, Angel watching in stiff silence as she fled to her sanctuary of status quo. Sanctuary, the thought would be comical if not for its absurdity.

Her imitation friends were making her loony with their pubertal male swooning and incessant gaggling of silly, girlish giggles. Cordelia had been tempted on one occasion to find a vampire and pay him to bite off their swooning, gaggling heads.

She had corralled Rupert Giles, school librarian by day nerd leader by night, forcing his endowment of the truth with threat of proclaiming to anyone who would listen, the existence of vampires, demons and any other mutated goon that sparked her fancy. And the truth he did bestow, with tales of Angel’s lurid and evil past, his curse of a soul and subsequent disappearance for the better part of a century before turning up in Sunnydale to help The Slayer. The Slayer, Buffy Summers, head weirdo and slayer of things that go bump in the night.

And what did Rupert Giles’ harrowing tale, a bedtime story too grisly even for the devil’s offspring accomplish? Cordelia Chase was in love with a vampire; a beautiful, compassionate man that by a stroke of bad fate fell outside the unforgiving graces of social acceptance.

What difference did it make now if underlings were privy to her private affairs? She had tasted love and passion and with one small mouthful had fallen victim to the alluring hunger. Just like the mindless, groping bodies on the dance floor she was addicted; the only difference, she had run into the shelter of sunlight and now she was alone.

“Hey.”

“Angel?”

Barely a whiff of whispers above the melodious hum of blues wafting from the stage.

‘At last…my love has come along. My lonely days are over…and life is like a lovely song.’

“I missed you.”

“I missed you too, but I didn’t think you wanted to see me…it’s been two weeks.”

“Had a lot of thinking to do. I don’t want loving you to be a mistake.”

“So you decided?”

“Yea…it’s a mistake…for you anyway, but I can’t stay away.”

“Good, a woman likes certain weaknesses in her man.”

“Dance with me?”

“For how long?”

“One song…eternity…you decide.”

‘At last…the skies above are blue. My heart’s wrapped up in clover…ever since the night I looked at you…and found a dream that I can speak to. A dream to call my own. I found a thrill to press my cheek to. A thrill like I have never known. When you smile, when you smiled at me…that’s how the spell was cast. And now here we are in heaven. I found my love at last. And you are mine at last…’


…The End….


 

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