The Swimsuit Issue


AUTHOR: NICKLE (aka BRENDA)
SUMMARY: It was a teeny weeny itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini…and Angel can’t take it.
RATING: R/NC17
POSTED: 20 May 2004
CATEGORY: HUMOR / SMUT
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content and Language
FICPIC CREDIT: Califi
AUTHOR NOTES:
1) AU from the beginning of Belonging on. Based on a challenge by Sach.
STATUS:


ficpic_theswimsuitissue


Chapter 1
Wesley and Angel clambered up the stairs from the basement, grimy and tired. Angel held a cloth to his head, over a shallow gash that had long stopped bleeding. Opening the door, they walked into the lobby, stopping short at the sight of Cordelia sitting in a miserable huddle on the seat in the middle of the room. Angel looked at Wesley then back at Cordy.

Wesley spoke first. “Cordelia.”

Angel looked at her a moment, seeing her in his mind in that swimsuit. That really little swimsuit. The one that….he shook himself mentally. “Hi.”

Cordy looked up at them and glared at Angel momentarily before looking back down at the floor, silent. Angel shifted uncomfortably. How was it that he could stand up to Haklar demons, the worst firepit in hell, even 80 year old power walkers with only minor scrapes to mark the meeting; but faced with an angry Cordelia, he was a towering rock of jello. He stepped closer to her, uncertainly.

“Look, I just want to say….if I was out of line today….”

“If you were out of line?” Cordelia’s voice rang out incredulously. She looked up at him, her eyes narrowed. “If? You’re pretty comfortable with the use of the word ‘if’ here, aren’t you?” She rose and stalked past him, wandering aimlessly across the room, as if walking was the only thing she could do to keep from slapping him. Angel watched her, torn between groveling and simply grabbing her by the hair and hauling her back to his cave to put her in her place. And that place would be…..

“I ended up getting fired, thank you. Freakin’ fired.” Angel flinched at her harsh tone. “My first shot at national exposure, and it was blown by a Vampire with the social skills of Charles Manson.” Angel opened his mouth to speak and Cordelia shot him a venomous glare. “Shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You were gonna. You were gonna say how…..oh….gee, Cordelia, they shouldn’t treat you that way, or gosh, Cordelia, you were practically naked.” Cordelia heard a choked breath from Wesley and turned her glare on him. “You got something to say, Head Boy?”

Wesley shook his head, and turned towards the office. “Um. Need to file this…um….Haklar demon….file it, yes indeed.” And he disappeared into his office, sliding the door quickly shut behind him. Cordelia watched him, then turned her glare back to Angel.

“You had no right. None. Do you even get that?”

“I get it. But Cordy, c’mon. I mean, the thing…” he gestured with his hands in a classic ‘boobs’ gesture. “and, you know…the thing…” and he waved his hands across his crotch frantically. “You’re….it’s……”

“Oh god. Just shut up.” Cordelia threw her hands up. “Just please please please shut up. Because I can’t take any more of your strange Vampire logic. I got screwed on this deal, Angel, but let me tell you…..the next time I have a commercial….”

“There sure as hell won’t be a next time.” Angel listened dispassionately as the words hung in the air between them. Somehow, the switch between his brain and his mouth had been turned off. Either that, or he was morphing into Cordy. If he suddenly grew 34C breasts and developed a need to head to the mall he’d know it was the latter. Cordy stared at him as if he had suddenly grown a second head.

“I’m sorry?” Her voice was flat.

“There won’t be a next time. You’re not doing that again.”

The front door opened just then and Gunn breezed in, blissfully unaware of the tense current of the room.

“Guys. I got a bar-b-que hankerin’ for some drippy meat slapped on a bun. Who’s in?”

The office door slid open an inch and Wesley’s voice called out weakly, “Gunn. Want to come in here and help…”

“No, he fucking does not.” Cordelia’s voice shrilled out over the large lobby. “Wesley, get out here.” There was a soft groan before the doors opened and Wesley strolled out, trying to go for casual and somehow looking frightened. She looked from him to Gunn.

“Tall, dark, and stupid seems to think he can chart my career path for me. Either of you have the same delusion?”

Gunn looked back and forth between Cordy, Wes, and Angel, beginning to wish he’d just gone on to get dinner on his own. Wesley looked at Angel, sighing as he turned to face Cordelia.

“Cordelia.” His voice was gentle. “There’s a general feeling….among those who truly care for you and wish only the best of artistic endeavors….”

“Spit it out, Wesley. There’s another century turn in 96 years.”

“Um. Yes. Well.” He glanced at Angel, who stood by with a stubborn expression creeping over his face. “I would ask that you…think of the agency.” Cordelia blinked. “Yes. I would want you to only take those…projects….that would reflect well upon the agency. Projects that would require ample…coverage….” He trailed off at her expression.

“Who died and made you boss?”

“Uh…well, as a matter of fact, Angel did.”

“I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!! I can’t take this life….shit. Shit. Shitty shit.” She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. “Are you telling me…” her voice was the unnatural calm that Wesley imagined serial killers used when addressing their victims. “Are you even trying to tell me that me being in a suntan lotion commercial would make the DEMON DETECTIVE AGENCY LOOK A LITTLE BAD? Because, gotta tell ya…”

“Cordelia.” Angel’s voice was implacable. She turned to him in mid-sentence, glaring. “I don’t want you doing that kind of thing ever again. I mean, c’mon. Were you even listening to that guy?” his voice became a whine. “ohhh….it’s all about the boobs….I have to wanna sleep with her….turn around, let’s see the goods…” his voice became normal. “You’re way better than that, Cordy. You deserve better. Much better.”

Cordy looked at him without expression. “You don’t get it. It’s a commercial. National. It could have been….” She broke off. “Nope, you don’t get it and you don’t care. As long as I’m here, flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water while mind-numbing visions tear my brain apart, you’re all fine. But let me try to have a life that doesn’t include daily encounters with beings who have scales and bleed green and you’re suddenly all about what’s best for the agency. Fuck that, Angel. And fuck you.”

A small muscle twitched at Angel’s clenched jaw. “Watch it, Cordy. I did you a favor…”

“Yeah, thanks. I love the favors that involve ruining my life. Thanks, Angel. My birthday is next month…can I book you to ruin that now?”

Gunn had strolled over to stand beside Wesley and they watched the bickering couple fascinated, much like they would stare at a car wreck as they drove by. Gunn reached into his pocket and pulled out a package of Twizzlers, handing one to Wesley before munching down on one himself.

Angel stepped closer to her, towering over her slight frame. “You’re not demeaning yourself like that again, Cordelia. You’re better…hell, way better than that.”

“Fuck…” Cordy started to say.

“DON’T.” Angel’s voice was low and snarled out between clenched teeth. “Don’t say it. Don’t say it again, Cordy. I do not want to hear the words.”

Cordy looked at him a moment and slowly raised her arms, flipping him off with both hands. Angel felt the blood in his body boil with a warmth he hadn’t felt in..well, ever. He was almost sure steam was pouring out his ears as the sound of sniggering caught his attention. He turned to Wesley and Gunn, who each looked quickly away, intent on other points in the room while they munched their Twizzlers thoughtfully.

Cordelia turned soundlessly and stalked over to scoop up her bag, tossing the strap over her shoulder before looking at Angel and throwing a look he had seen before and nicknamed the Chase Gamma Death Ray Glare. She clicked on high heels out the front door and slammed it behind her, leaving the three men standing behind.

Silence reigned for a moment before Gunn spoke. “So…..who’s up for bar-be-que?” Angel stared at the front door, unresponsive, before turning to stalk up the stairs to his apartment without another word.

Wesley and Gunn stood still, leaning against the counter and silent for a full two minutes, munching their Twizzlers. Finally, Gunn spoke. “Got a twenty that says Cordy wins.”

Wesley chewed and thought a moment. “Thirty back at you says that before this is done, she dismembers the family jewels.”

“Not touching that one. That’s a done deal.” Gunn chuckled. “C’mon, English. Chow time.” They headed for the door and out, their voices trailing off.

“Ya know, Barbie in a bikini…..shame we missed that….”


Chapter 2
Grim. Grimmer than grim. The atmosphere in the Hyperion made the Fisher Family Mortuary look like party central. Cordelia glared down at her desk, occasionally sighing a deep, soul felt sigh of despair. Angel sat nearby, silent and unmoving and staring off into space. Wesley was holed up in his office, probably playing online literati with someone named something like ‘Hotnwet4U’. And Gunn. Gunn was the small child in the middle of the custody battle. Cordelia had begun funneling all her communications to Angel though Gunn, and at night, Angel suddenly wanted to treat Gunn to a friendly beer after the sun went down. It had been like this for two weeks, ever since the teeny weeny bikini episode, as Gunn and Wesley called it.

Two weeks of hostility, silence, and death glares had taken its toll, and Gunn was about to snap. He had moved his desk out into the lobby just to be away from the Angry Assholes…the Fighting Fangers….the Terrible Twits. That last one had been Wesley’s contribution. Gunn rolled his eyes as he heard Angel speak. The fun had arrived.

“Cordy, knock it off.”

There was a silence and then Gunn winced at the sound of a soft swoosh followed by the sound of smashing pottery.

“That was my favorite mug.” Angel’s voice sounded like it was issued through clenched teeth.

“You told me to knock it off. I did.”

“I meant the tapping of the nails. You know that drives me crazy.”

“Yeah, that’s a short trip.”

Gunn got up, sighing and walked to the office, head bowed. If he or Wesley weren’t ready to step in at some point, fangs would emerge, stakes would be pointed, it could get ugly. He poked his head in the doorway in time to see Angel and Cordy, almost nose to nose.

“Did you overdose on your daily fix of bitch? Because Cordy, the whole pouting and snarking thing is getting real old.”

“Nothin’s as old as you, grandpa, so you would know.”

“Nothing’s as bitchy as you, Cordy.”

“Asshole.”

“Whiner.”

“Eunuch.”

“Ok, that’s it.” Angel took a step closer, his eyes blazing a fiery gold. Cordelia grabbed at the length of her hair and pushed it aside baring her throat.

“Go ahead! Help yourself! I dare you. Do it. Doitdoitdoit.” Angel raised his hands as if he was going to strangle her and Gunn quickly stepped in between them.

“HoooKay now…” His voice was falsely jovial. “Looks like Uncle Gunn needs to impose a little time out.” Angel glared at him while Cordy peeked around his larger body and stuck her tongue out at Angel. Gunn caught her and casually flicked her on the forehead. Ignoring her disgruntled “ow” he turned back to Angel. “This has got to stop. You two….I don’t know what exactly hell was like, man, but it can’t have been worse than hanging around you two during a spat.”

“This isn’t a spat.” Angel’s voice was calm. “This is one calm, well-thought mind dealing with one self-centered shrill whine.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Angel. You’re not shrill.” Cordy’s voice was just as calm. He glared back at her.

“OK, gonna go out on a limb here. Angel, man, take the afternoon off. Go upstairs. Brood. Watch some tv. Ya got that MGM musical collection, watch a movie.” Angel stiffened as Cordy rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, Bernice. Go watch Judy Garland sing and dance.”

Angel raised one finger and pointed it at Cordy. “Hey. The woman was a goddess.” Cordy rolled her eyes again. He thought a moment. “Gunn, you’re a wise man. I’m going upstairs and relaxing. Hanging around this toxic environment is keeping me from dealing with my true self.”

Gunn stared at him. “Bro. Ya gotta quit watching Dr. Phil.” Angel looked embarrassed. “I’m just sayin’. Let’s have a little p and q around here, because you two….jeeze.”

“Gunn’s right.” Wesley’s voice sounded from the doorway. He walked into the room ramrod straight, his arms folded over his chest. “I think the best thing would be a break for the two of you. Angel, take the rest of the afternoon off. Cordelia, finish the day out and take the next couple of days off.” Cordelia opened her mouth to protest. “With pay.” She shut it again. “I think a little distance….a little time away will be good for you both, and for the agency.” Angel and Cordelia stared at each other silently and then Angel turned without a word and walked up the stairs to his suite.

Cordy watched him, her eyes narrowed. Wesley awkwardly patted her shoulder. “See. Everything will be fine.” Cordelia turned to glare at him.

“No, Wesley, it will not be fine. He has ruined my career. I’ve called my agent every single day since the suntan lotion shoot, aka invasion of the pale bloodsucker, and the word is out. I’m unreliable, I’m not professional, and I’m dating a psychopath. They’re not lining up for me, Wes. I can’t even get a damn audition. Because of him.” She plopped down in her chair. Wes and Gunn looked at each other, and Wes leaned on the corner of her desk while Gunn sat on the sofa. Cordy sighed and buried her head in her arms on her desktop.

Wesley looked down at his hands a moment and then up at her, concern on his face. “Cordelia, I know acting is your dream…”

“No, it’s not.” Her voice was muffled. Wes looked at her, startled.

“What was that?”

She raised her head and looked at him, resigned. “It’s not my dream, Wes. It never was.” She sighed. “My dream used to be just to be famous and have everyone like me and have nothing but buff studmuffins surrounding me, offering me nice diamondy stuff in little blue satin boxes. I really didn’t care how I got there….acting seemed to be the pond to cross.”

Wesley listened, glancing at Gunn. She looked up them both. “We all know that’s not going to happen in any way.” She sighed. “And, really, ya know…somehow….” She looked around. “…the dream changed. Now my dream is….just to have something that says I’m normal. That I have a normal life.” They were all quiet a moment. “God. I’m just sad.”

Gunn looked at her a moment before speaking. “Barbs, we’re all in a big fight here by our little lonesomes. No one can understand what we do. Hell, I have a hard time buying it sometimes, myself. But what you do, standing beside us, right there with us….you’re incredible. You don’t need the jewelry and the boxes and the studmuffins for us to know that.”

Cordy smiled a little sadly. “Aw, Gunn. I did get one out of three.” He looked at her blankly. She wiggled her eyebrows at him and made him laugh. “I got me the buff studmuffins standin’ right here.” She rose and hugged Wesley before turning to grab a cup of coffee.

Wesley watched her. “Um. Cordelia. If you don’t mind my asking, if the deflated acting dream isn’t that big a deal to you, why the fight to the death with Angel?”

“BECAUSE.” She waved a hand impatiently. “He ordered me around. You guys heard him.” She wrinkled her brow and growled out, “You’re never doing that again.” She shook her head. “Jeeze. Like I’m some clueless little sister or something.” Wes sucked in a breath. He was pretty sure Angel’s demand had not been made in sibling interest.

He looked at Gunn, who rolled his eyes, thinking the same thing. Wesley turned back to her, treading very lightly as he spoke. “Well, Cordelia, I think, and I’m sure that Gunn agrees, that Angel….was…um….startled…at the sight of your…um…swimming attire. Do remember that, you know, ‘back in the day’, that was considered, well, not at all.” He thought a moment. “Goodness. I never thought of that. I mean, the difference among social mores alone must be difficult to grasp, but going from layers of head to toe clothing to…well….a bikini, that must be extremely hard to get past. Angel must have had a tremendous shock at seeing you in a bikini.”

Cordy looked at him over the rim of her coffee cup. “Well, he needs to get over it. And while he’s at it, he can just lose that whole boss of me mindset.” She sipped, lost in thought, and just then the phone rang. She looked down at the caller id and blanched.
“Not answering that one.”

Wesley looked over her shoulder. “Isn’t that your agent?”

“Yeah. I bet he’s going to let me go. The weasel. Can’t even talk to me in person….he’s such a bottom dweller.”

The phone stopped ringing as the answering machine picked up. Cordelia sipped at her coffee again, listening to the recording of her voice on the outgoing message. After the beep, the voice of Sid, her agent, boomed out.

“Cordy! Baby! Listen, honey, a local brewery is doing some local ads and wants local talent! Great chance, sweetie, ya need to….” Cordy shrieked and snatched up the phone.

“Sid!!! Sid! I’m here!…….yeah………God yeah!………He’s not my boyfriend, Sid. Gross. And yeah, I’m up for it. Really up and Ready………….God, Sid, you’re like the best. My favorite, wonderful person in the whole world! Meet you there…thank you, thank you, thank you!” And she hung up, a huge grin on her face.

“Yea me!!!!!!! I got a commercial. A local brewery is doing an ad and they want local talent, I guess, and Sid got me a slot! I have to go now…oh, yeah, oh yeah….” She sang a little as she scooped up her totebag and slung it over her shoulder, running around her desk.

“Cordy…” Wesley spoke up. “We’re, of course, happy for you, but don’t you think maybe you should stop and think…”

“That this is going to put a little spark of cranky in the Dark One? Yeah, I do believe it will.” She busied herself, grabbing up her shoes and tugging them on. “Here’s the thing. I’d do it if it were NAKED, Wes, just to show him he’s not the king of me. I have to take this, or he’ll think he’s right and I’m wrong and he can tell me what to do and I’ll just bleat along like some stupid sheep and then we’ll just keep on fighting….do you want that?” Wesley shook his head no, caught up in her rambling. “Good. I’m doing this for US….” She gestured at them. “Can’t let him have the upper hand….” And she breezed out the door, leaving Gunn and Wesley standing there in complete silence. Finally, after a moment, Gunn spoke.

“What just happened?” Just then, they heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Wesley sighed as he watched Angel strolling into the office, looking at the front door.

“We got screwed.” He whispered to Gunn. “That’s what just happened.”

Angel gestured nonchalantly towards the door. “Was that Cordy? She go home already?”

“Um…not exactly…I mean, eventually, I believe home is her destination…but, not at the moment, till, of course….” Angel looked at Wesley a moment before looking at Gunn.

“OK, let’s give the coherent one a try. Cordy leave for the day?”

“Yeah. Don’t think she’s coming back. The days off thing, ya know.”

“Yeah. Sure. For the best.” Angel tried to be casual. “Because, you know, she was totally out of control here. I tried to maintain some dignity, but some people just can’t, you know, take the mature road.” Wesley sighed and turned to go back into his office and Angel crossed to sit at Cordy’s desk, glancing at the phone.

“Message, guys. What…Cordy won’t answer it and now you guys won’t either?” He shook his head and reached for the answering machine. Wesley stopped, shocked, and turned seemingly in slow-motion as Angel leaned over to press the play button on the answering machine. Wesley opened his mouth to say something when Sid’s voice sounded out loudly in the room.

“Cordy! Baby! Listen, honey, a local brewery is doing some local ads and wants local talent! Great chance, sweetie, ya need to….”

“Sid!! Sid I’m here!”

“Listen Cordy, Baby, ya know that new brewery down on the front? Mad Dog?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re doing a local ad and want local talent. Interested?”

“God, yeah.!”

“Gotta tell you, sweetheart, it’s another swimsuit shoot. Ya up for that? Your boyfriend isn’t going to…”

“He’s not my boyfriend, Sid, gross. And yeah, I’m up for it. Really up and ready.”

“Okay…they’ve seen your pic and they want you there like now. 3712 Emery, down off the pier. Get your little hiney down there now. I’ll meet you there.”

“God, Sid, you’re the best! You’re like, my favorite wonderful person in the whole world. Meet you there…thank you, thank you, thank you!” Click. The room seemed to dip in temperature all of a sudden. Wesley had the urge to run into his office and to close his door, and Gunn was thankful at that moment that he wasn’t Cordelia Chase. Because the Dark One in front of him looked as if he were ready to tear someone a new one. Someone in a bikini.

“Angel…” Wesley’s voice was low. “She really wants…”

“That’s just the thing, Wes.” Angel reached for his coat and shrugged it on. “she doesn’t want the right thing. And she doesn’t seem to care. I’m not going to let her sit there in some little next to nothing while a bunch of losers savor the image to take home and wank off to later. She’s way better than that. No one can see her that way. No one appreciates who she is except…” He stopped, choking a little as he realized what he was about to say. He looked at the two men, pressing his lips together, before turning towards the basement door. “I’m outta here. This stops now.” And the door slammed behind him.

Wesley and Gunn stayed still a moment, lost in thought. Finally, Gunn spoke up, his voice casual. “Oh yeah, baby. Jewels are getting smashed tonight.”


Chapter 3
Cordy looked at herself in the large mirror that hung over the sink in the women’s restroom, her mouth a small ‘O’ at the sight of her reflection. Her almost bare reflection. Perhaps there should be a sign on the mirror that read Caution: Swimsuits viewed in this mirror are much larger than they appear. Because this…..this was small. This suit was tiny. It was beyond tiny. It was….miniscule. It was a mini-miniscule swimsuit. It was fire-engine red, and consisted of two small triangles hooked together for a top that didn’t even cup her breasts fully, and a small swatch of fabric almost too small to cover her pubic area.

She stared at herself in horror. The back. Oh, god, the back. She turned and looked over her shoulder at her butt. There was no back. Just a small red string that rose from between her ass cheeks and connected to a thin waistband. She had plenty of thong panties in her dresser, and none of them were this revealing. Holy crap. She couldn’t wear this out in front of all those people who were out there waiting to film. Shit, forget that; she couldn’t be seen like this on television. She had to step out there and tell that pasty director that she wouldn’t…

“Ms. Chase? We’re ready for ya.” The voice on the other side of the door sounded a little impatient. “He wants a lookie before we set the lights. Ya ready?”

Cordelia looked around a little frantically. There was no exit. Nor was there a robe. She was stuck. She looked back at her reflection and sighed deeply, then made a mental note to self to not sigh deeply anymore when her breasts pushed up even further over the top with the movement. She pasted a cheery smile on her face and pulled the door open with a wide sweep. She could do this. She could do this. She could….

Three men arranging lights stopped talking and one poked the other as she walked by. She felt her skin grow warmer as she walked straight to the director, looking at no one else. She could feel all the eyes in the room turning to her when she stepped to the director, tapping him on the shoulder.

He turned to her and looked her up and down critically before motioning her to turn around. Biting her lip she did. She really hated this part. She spun on the stiletto heels and let him see her back, resting her eyes on the crowd of crewpeople and gawkers. That guy, the dark one with greasy hair, he was actually licking his lips while he looked at her. Gross. That other guy, the one with the toolbelt and the jeans that rode low and showed a bad moon rising, he was looking straight at her boobs. And that guy, the one with the big black overcoat…the one who looked really ticked. Holy crap. That guy was Angel.

She sucked in her breath just as her gaze settled on his. He wasn’t staring at her as if he lusted after her. He looked at her as if he lusted after her painful, bloody death. She backed up a step just as he started walking towards her in a slow, measured tread. His eyes never left hers, and his eyes were rimmed in that gold that told her that his demon was alive and kicking, just under a very fine, sheer surface. He stopped right in front of her and looked down, keeping his hands in his pockets as he thought a moment.

She was naked. All he could hear in his head above the roar of his demon shouting to be let loose was the mantra, she’s naked. She’s naked. She’s naked, and all these men are looking at her. She’s naked and all these men are looking at her and I must now blind each and every one of them. Because she’s naked.

“Hey, buddy….can we help you?” A woman wearing fatigues poked at Angel as she walked up to him. He didn’t even move. His eyes raised up to meet Cordy’s.

“Yeah.” His voice was low, almost a whisper, and his gaze never strayed from Cordelia’s pale face. “I just need to speak to my wife here.” A squeak sounded from Cordelia and Angel grinned suddenly, turning to the young woman who stood beside him holdling a clipboard. “Ya know, just worried about her taking too much on, not getting her rest. The baby, you know.” He turned a sappy, puppy grin on Cordelia. “Honey, ya gotta take care.”

The director hustled over to them and looked at Codry accusingly. “You’re pregnant? No one told me. Because this is the first in a planned series. I need you back. Skinny. Without mom mams.” Cordy winced.

Angel nodded seriously. “I was just worried about her, ya know, taking care of herself….”

The girl with the clipboard looked at Cordy suspiciously. “You’re pregnant? You don’t look pregnant.”

“Yeah” Angel beamed. “She didn’t show early the first five times, either.” Cordy’s eyes narrowed to slits as she tried to get a grip on her temper and think of a way to set the record straight. Angel backed away, holding his hands up.

“Hey, I feel better now. Just wanted to make sure you were, ya know……okay. Not hurling like you were this morning. Boy was that a mess to clean up. Eggs, not pretty going down…even uglier coming up.” He nodded sagely at clipboard girl and ignored Cordelia, who had buried her face in her hands. “Honey, I’m just going home now. Little Tiffany has a cold, gotta take care of her ya know.” He blew a kiss at her. “Come right home right after, ok? No more bar-hopping for you. That’s why we had to do those DNA tests on the first two.” He blew Cordelia a kiss and disappeared down the back hallway of the restaurant. Cordelia listened to the absolute silence in the room and finally raised her head to meet the stunned gazes of the dozen or so crew members milling about.

The silence was thick and heavy, and Cordelia felt her last ditch chance at fame slipping away with each ticking minute. She remained absolutely still, and finally looked at the director. He didn’t meet her gaze and leaned over to whisper, “Take care of it” to clipboard girl before turning and walking away.

The young woman looked at Cordelia apologetically and opened her mouth and Cordy raised one hand and said, “No. I know. Don’t worry. I’m going.” She turned and walked back towards the restroom, feeling like she was walking some kind of gauntlet of shame as she felt all eyes now looking at her furtively, as if the words ‘lowlife tramp’ were stenciled on her forehead.

Just as she turned the corner to go to the restroom, the front door of the restaurant opened and she heard Sid, her manager, call her name. Relieved, she turned back to call to him when all of a sudden the world went black as a black cover was thrown over her head. Startled, she tugged at the cover but was ignored as she was lifted and tossed over a large, hard shoulder and carted off. She tried to call out but a voice growled out “don’t even think about it” and she quickly shut up. That low, cranky, dangerous voice. That was Angel. He had the large, hard shoulder. He was the father of her six nonexistent kids. And apparently, he was her kidnapper.

Cordelia heard a door slam and the sound of shoes slapping concrete. There was a grating metal sound, and then she felt Angel carefully climbing down, balancing her body on his shoulder as he stepped into……Cordelia groaned. They were going into the freakin’ sewer. Damn it. She was stuck in the sewer with the world’s most clueless dork and she was wearing the smallest swimsuit ever made and stiletto heels. This was bad on so many levels.

They walked a bit and she held still, knowing that squirming and fighting would be useless, because that arm was made of steel and that vampire was really ticked at her. Okay. Okay. She could do this. She could fight the good fight and let him know that he just couldn’t bust into her life and……you know…take over. She sighed. Yeah, that light bulb was never ever gonna go on.

After walking a bit, he stopped suddenly and gently set her down, steadying her as he pulled his coat from over her head. She grabbed it from him and held it to her as he looked impassively down at her.

“Why so shy? Didn’t seem to bother you when a bunch of fat greasy old guys get several eyefuls of all you have to offer. You don’t want me to have the same little slice of joy?”

“Back off, batboy. What is your huge, massive problem? I was leaving. Your little paternal concern worked. I was fired. Wanna tell me what the deal is where you have to pull the pirate routine on me?”

“Sometimes you need to take a little action when someone you care about is being stupid.”

“Yeah? Well, lemme think about that a moment. ‘Cuz I’m pretty sure I should be taking some big ass action on you right about now.”

“Do not push this, Cordelia. I told you before that this wasn’t going to happen again.”

“Hello, not my dad.”

“Hello, don’t care.”

“Aaaaiiiyyyyeeeee” Cordelia’s voice screeched out in echoes down the sewer tunnels. Her face was flushed with anger. She yanked off his coat and threw it down, stomping on it with her heels. The sound of tearing leather under normal circumstances would have pushed Angel right over the edge. But these weren’t normal circumstances. The woman having the hissy fit was wearing the world’s smallest bikini, unless one was two years old.

Angel could only stare, wordless, as Cordy ranted on.

“I quit! I quit! I’m tired of visions and demon slime, and headaches.” She turned and began to stalk off, and Angel felt his eyes widen till he thought they might pop out of his head. The front was tiny. The back was…..damn. The back was just not there. “I’m freakin’ tired of having the damn chess club for my closest buddies. I’m tired of having no life. I’m tired….”

“Shut up, Cordelia.” His voice was low.

“Shut up yourself, loser. I hate my life. And I hate…”

“Shut up, Cordelia.” She didn’t pay any attention to the fact that his voice was closer, or more desperate sounding.”

“….you. I hate you. I hate your damn brooding, and your angsty noble mission, and your stupid black coat.”

“Cordelia…” He grabbed at her arm and spun her around. His voice was a lethal whisper. “I said shut up.” And he yanked her up onto her toes and crushed his lips to hers, taking her mouth in a frenzy of wet heat. A garbled mmfffff escaped her mouth and disappeared into thin air as his arms wound around her like steel bands, holding her body flush with his. She tottered on her shoes, her arms crushed to her sides by the strength of his grip.

All the anger drained out of her in a swoosh as she lost the ability to think coherently. His mouth….ohgod his mouth. It rubbed and caressed and nipped and his tongue….mercy. Please have mercy. Because that tongue was doing wicked things to her tongue, and she was starting to lose the ability to stand. Time seemed to stand still…till finally, he raised his head slowly and opened his eyes, looking down at hers. She stared back up, her mind a blank.

“Shut up.” He whispered softly.

“OK.” Her voice was a reedy whisper back. They looked at each other. His arms relaxed around her and she stumbled as she stepped back a little, breathing heavily. He looked down at her body and shook his head a little.

“The truth?” His voice was low and contained. She stared at him; those pesky cognitive wheels hadn’t started turning again yet. “The truth, Cordelia, is that I don’t want anyone else seeing that.” He gestured at her body. “Because it’s mine to see and mine alone.” He waited for the inevitable shriek followed by the probable raising of the knee in anger, but she continued to look at him blankly. “Say something.” They were both silent for a while. She thought a moment, and then smiled slowly.

She pointed up over the top of her head. “See that?” He looked up, confused. “It’s a big ol’ light bulb, Angel, and it just went on.” Angel looked at her a moment, not getting it.

“Cordelia, I just want…”

She cut him off, grinning at him as she rose up and hooked her arms around his neck, leaning in towards his mouth. “Angel….you shut up.” And he did.
Epilogue
It was, quite possibly, the longest walk of Cordelia’s life. The dank sewers echoed with eerie drips and gushing noises, and the sound of her heels clacked loudly as she followed Angel through the city’s underground maze. He held her hand tightly in his, and every once in a while she felt his hand stroke her fingers softly, as if checking to make sure he really held her hand in the waking hours, and not in the depth of his dreams. They both stared straight ahead, and walked quickly, like-minded in their quest.

Eventually, Angel helped her up the ladder and climbed up after her, reaching up past her to shove the manhole cover aside so they could climb out, Cordelia first. Not a word was spoken, and hadn’t been since they had broken apart breathlessly from a kiss that was so hot it teetered on the edge of insanity. Angel had pulled back and Cordy had moaned in protest till he had stroked her face with his gentle fingers and leaned down to whisper in her ear.

She shivered as she remembered. “Cordelia. I want this. I want you. But not here, in…..damn. Not in the sewer.” She had looked up at him, still reeling from the heat of his kiss, and he had sighed. “Home, Cordy. We’ll talk more at home.”

Cordelia had stared at him a moment and grinned a little, letting him know she was ok. “Yeah. You’ll talk. I’ll tell you…”

“Shut up.” He finished for her. “Yeah. Have a feeling I’m going to be hearing that a lot.” They had stared at each other for a long moment, leaning in…lips parting slightly….before Angel shook himself and straightened back up, grabbing at her hand and turning to march through the sewers, a determined scowl on his face.

So here they were, entering the basement of the Hyperion. Cordelia had assumed home meant her apartment, but it somehow felt right to be climbing these stairs after Angel said he was taking her home. Home was here. She was beginning to think home might be wherever Angel was. Because in his eyes she had seen more than lust. Ok, there was definitely lust, not a bad thing, but there was more than just that. He didn’t want the girl in the red bikini. He wanted Cordelia. She knew the difference. And she knew that Angel didn’t want lightly.

She climbed the stairs ahead of him wordlessly and opened the basement door to the lobby. She tugged Angel’s black coat tighter around her as they looked around for Wesley and Gunn. Angel turned to her after surveying the silent lobby and motioned to the stairs.

“Go on up. I’ll be up in a minute after I check in with Wesley. I want to…..” He seemed to falter. “I want to make sure we have privacy.” She nodded calmly and walked upstairs, lifting the coat as she climbed so she wouldn’t trip over it. He watched her a moment and walked into the office, snatching up the phone and stabbing at the numbers.

“Wes? Yeah. No, it’s all good. No. No. NO….I did not kill her. Jeeze.” Angel looked around impatiently. “No, she’s not dead. No, she’s not undead. Nice trust ya got going there, Wes. If I had a heart, it would be warmed by your……yeah, I know. No, kinda tired. Why don’t we call it a weekend? ‘Kay. See you Monday morning.” He paused a bit, listening. “Yeah, I know she’s special. Funny thing is….she’s been special all along, Wes. I just…..I think I just saw it now. No, I do not need…..Damn, Wes. What are you, her father? Right. Fine. Whatever.” And he hung up. How had that happened? Wesley, going all Father Knows Best on him. It was intrusive. It was annoying. It was…..nice. It was what friends did. Hell, it’s what families did. He let the unfamiliar feelings of contentment at his life pour through him. Wesely was family. So was Gunn. So was….

Cordelia. Up the stairs and down the hall and through the door was Cordelia. Waiting. For him. Waiting for him wearing the world’s smallest bikini. And it was red. And she was…..and he was….he was running up the stairs, two at a time. He paused at the door, knocking gently and waiting for her to answer. He had to get this right, because this wasn’t wanting some touchy feely of the flesh for a quick moment; this was a whole new part of his life. He had to get this right.

“Angel?” Her voice sounded confused as she opened the door.

“Expecting someone else?” He looked down at her. She still had his coat wrapped tightly around her body, and those red stiletto heels peeked out from the long length of black leather.

“Um…no. Just the knocking thing…this is your place.”

“I know. I want to know I’m invited in.”

“You don’t have to be invited into your own…”

“No.” His voice was gentle, but firm. “I want to know this is what you want. This isn’t about me, Cordelia. It’s about us. If you want us, invite me in.”

Cordelia stared up at him, all serious eyes and firm chin. He knew that expression well. It was usually followed by her talking him into something. Usually, something he didn’t want. But this time….this time he wanted. She leaned up and kissed his jaw softly and whispered, “come on in, Angel.”

He stepped in and closed the door behind him, watching her the whole while. He slowly walked to her, his eyes never leaving hers. He leaned back against the closed door, trying to maintain some semblance of control. He lowered his head for a moment and then raised it, his jaw clenched.

“O.K. Let me see it.”

Cordelia looked at him, her expression neutral. “What?”

“The swimsuit, Cordelia. Let me see it.”

“Oh.” She tilted her head a bit and wrinkled her brow. “Hmmm. Thought you didn’t like the swimsuit.”

“Honey, I liked it fine. I didn’t like other men…..” A fine red haze seemed to filter his gaze as he remembered all the eyes that had glued to her body as she walked through that restaurant. “I just didn’t like other people seeing it, that’s all.”

“Oh.” She spoke as if reasoning it out. “So……no one else can see it, but you liked it just fine.”

He remained still, leaning back against the door. His voice was a growl. “Cordelia.”

“Because, you know, if I had known that yes, indeed, you enjoyed seeing the little red suit….” She tugged his coat tighter around her. “…I wouldn’t have taken it off.”

He stared at her a moment, his mind gripped by just one thought. “So…under that coat….under my coat….you’re….”

She leaned in slightly and whispered, “Nekkid. Bare. Naked as a….well, a naked woman. Completely unclothed. Totally…” She stopped as he straightened up and stalked over to her, slowly circling her. She thought a moment, feeling the heat of his gaze on her as he walked behind her, almost as if he could see right under the layer of black leather. “So……at the suntan lotion shoot, it was really about…..”

“About others seeing what belongs to me.” His voice in her ear was a dark whisper. “About other men having thoughts about this flesh.” A shiver ran down her spine at the words. He was still and silent for a moment. “Give me my coat.”

Cordelia held the coat in a death grip as she slowly turned to face Angel. Her lips slightly parted as she looked into his eyes for a bit, as if looking for something. He held perfectly still, meeting her gaze impassively.

“Is this right now?” She whispered. He smiled a little.

“Wanna find out?” His voice whispered back. She watched him a moment longer and then slowly raised her hands to the lapel of the coat, parting it wide open and shrugging it off, letting it drop to the floor.

Angel felt as if he’d been punched in the stomach. She was all sleek lines and soft curves and firm flesh, and a light flush covered her from head to toe. His gaze swept down her body as she stood still before him. Her legs….damn. Her legs seemed to go on forever without shoes on. But in those red screw-me stilettos, her legs were gently muscled and mad a man think of just how they’d feel wrapped tight around his waist. A feral growl sounded as he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to him, leaning down to crush her mouth in a frenzy of wet heat. His tongue licked at hers, and stroked at the sweet lines of her lips. She moaned softly as she felt the rigidness of his arousal pressed to her, firm and thick even through layers of clothing.

He spun her around and pushed her onto the bed, groaning as she fell onto the surface on all fours. His eyes were drawn to the finely etched tattoo on the small of her back that flexed gently as she rolled over to sit on the edge of the bed, facing him as he undressed. She watched, her eyes never leaving his hands, as he pulled his shirt off over his head and then reached for the buckle of his pants. Absently, she reached down to unbuckle her shoes. He stopped, and his voice was like the crack of a whip.

“Leave them on.” There was a tone in his voice that made her sit up quickly, and her eyes narrowed as she watched him. His face softened and he let a small smile escape as he tugged his trousers off, kicking them aside. “Good girl.”

Cordelia rose in a huff and faced him, feeling a familiar tingle grip her. “Hey, you just can’t…” her voice was muffled as he swooped in and kissed her again, gently this time. This time, he wooed her with his mouth. His hands gently traced over her shoulders and down her sides. He felt her soften and raised his head.

“Cordelia…shut up.”

“OK.” Her eyes were wide as he pushed her back down onto the bed. He fell down beside her and raised up on one elbow, looking down into her eyes as his hand slowly cupped her face. She looked back up, and there was trust and wonder in her expression, and he felt his body grow even harder, realizing that he shared that wonder with her. His hands trailed down her body, cupping and stroking and caressing her skin with the softest of touches. Over the soft curve of her stomach, down over her hips. His hands stroked at the vee of her legs and smiled against her mouth as her legs parted at his insistence.

Cordelia felt her body arc into Angel’s, his hands stroking at her wet core. Groaning, he raised his head and looked down into her face, her lips all swollen and rosy from his kisses. “God, Cordelia. You’re…” His fingers stroked through the wet folds again till he found her clit, hard and wet. He circled it gently. “You’re so ready for me…..you want this…”

“Well, yeah.” Cordy panted. “Kinda the thought behind taking the suit off, big guy.”

“Cordy” His voice was ragged. “I just want…..ohgod….” He broke off as she pushed her hand down between them and gently circled his erection with her fingers. He pushed his hips up and down, letting her fist his cock. He looked down into her eyes and she smiled, leaning up to kiss his mouth.

He was so close……he grabbed her hand from around him and grabbed at her other hand, anchoring on the bed on either side of her head. She panted as she watched him, her eyes almost challenging. Angel settled his body between her thighs and gently parted her legs even wider with a nudge of his knee. Slowly, he pushed into her body with his….the blunt tip of his cock a welcome pressure to her. Her legs rose and locked around his hips as he drove into her with one firm push, smiling at the “whoosh” that left her throat.

He held still and looked down at her, both bodies locked together. Taking a breath, Cordy slowly rocked her hips, sighing as he slid out and back in with her movements. Angel held still, letting her rock a bit, before his body began to rock with hers, meeting her thrusts with harder thrusts of his own. Their bodies grew damp, and flesh slid against flesh with a sweet friction that both felt down to their souls.

Faster and faster….a sob was torn from Cordelia as her movements became more frantic…his hips bucking in a frenzy. Just as she felt the licks of fire begin to race through her mind, Angel’s body stiffened, a guttural moan sounding from his throat as he came, pouring into her all he had. She held, suspended, as she came, clenching around him and under him and all over.

She felt weightless as her mind floated back to earth. Angel still lay on her, his face buried in the crook of her throat. His body was damp and glistening, and they both lay still and silent before Angel laughed softly into her ear. “Breathe, baby.”

Cordelia giggled weakly, and sucked in a breath, feeling her heart thundering in her chest as she gulped in air. Angel rose up and rested his weight on his elbows, looking down at her.

“Yeah, Cordy, this is right now.”

Cordelia grinned, and he grinned back, brushing damp tendrils of hair off her brow. “Is this us?”

He nodded. “Yeah. It’s us. I think its been us for a while now. We’re going on from here. You know that.”

She nodded. “I couldn’t do this…..I don’t do this….you know….casually.”

“Nothing casual about you, Cordelia.” She grinned up at him and yanked his face down to hers.

“Shut up.” And she kissed him.


…THE END…


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