TLC


AUTHOR: SCORCH (aka JUDI)
SUMMARY: Angel finds out Wilson Christopher was Cordy’s first and he decides to make it up to her by showing her exactly how it’s done.
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 25 Jan 2004
CATEGORY: CHALLENGE FIC / SMUT
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: The Challenge— Angel finds out Wilson Christopher was Cordy’s first and he decides to make it up to her by showing her exactly how it’s done. Just so you know, I’ve worked my ass off on this and I’m so bloody proud of it!
STATUS: Complete


Part 1:
His large hands carefully cushioned the back of his head as he glanced unseeingly up at the ceiling, counting the slight chips in the paint. Another day for him to figure out if he should tell Buffy the news about his soul or if he should just let that part of his life rest. Blocking out the sounds on the street outside, Angel didn’t blink as the weight of indecisiveness made sighing a necessity.

Did he even want to go back? Did he want her back? Was, could there be a future for them? Somehow he didn’t think so.

A snort of laughter interrupted his musing causing Angel’s lips to quirk up at the edges as his mind wandered off the topic of his newly secured soul and wondered what his seer was giggling at. The vampire quickly turned his thoughts back to his soul, Buffy and the question at hand.

What was he going to do?

Not that it was a question which needed an answer of course, he already knew what he wasn’t going to do but he wasn’t quite ready to say it aloud just yet. His and Buffy’s love life had ended when she had clearly told him she had someone new just to hurt him. Love wasn’t supposed to make people hurt each other, love was…

Angel sighed again as he realized he didn’t really know what love was supposed to make people do. Had he ever truly loved someone with everything in him? Had he loved Buffy like that? Once over, the answer to that question would have been yes, but now that he looked back he could say he wasn’t sure.

The Slayer had been the first person to touch his soul, give him a purpose and give him what she could. She had been his savior and hero, had he loved her like a man would love a woman or had he simply been grateful for she had done for him? Looking back on how they had been, Angel could honestly say he didn’t know.

Rubbing his tired face with his palms, the vampire’s third sigh escaped through the cracks in his fingers before ruffling the short spikes of his hair rapidly as though that would help him. Rolling onto his side, Angel’s view changed from the ceiling to the calming peach shade of the bedroom wall and thought of his seer.

Seeing her laying there, strapped to the hospital bed surrounded by a world of pain opened up to her, almost destroying her from the inside out had crushed him. Even now, when Angel knew she was safe in the next room, the tear in his heart was enough to make him squeeze his eyes shut trying to banish that image from his mind.

Her face so pale, beautiful eyes seeing things he couldn’t imagine, lips moving and silent, incoherent words pouring out the witnessed anguish. Screams so pained not even the demon inside him had reacted. Over and over, the vampire was filled with living pictures of her young, humanly fragile body pulled taut against the onslaught of hell while the bonds meant to protect her from self-harm only served to turn her wrists red.

The only thing keeping him sane was the knowledge he had saved her and himself, brought her back and now she was safe with him.

Another snort of laughter, this time a scoff of puffed air accompanied the giggle and Angel was yet again brought out of his thoughts to wonder, more curiously, what was so amusing.

“Uh-huh” he heard Cordelia deadpan disbelievingly “And there’s a pig taking off from LAX every twenty minutes” the sarcasm in her voice was unmistakable.

His eyebrows scrunched up a little and he pushed his lethargic body up, Angel cocked his head to one side to hear what she was so obviously unimpressed with but he couldn’t hear.

This time, instead of a snorted giggle came a loud and definitely sarcastic laugh from the brunette in the living room and heightened his curiosity. Concentrating really hard, Angel unsuccessfully tried to figure out what had her laughing like that.

“Oh sure, like that happens” his seer scoffed, openly conveying her contradicting thoughts on whatever it was that had her attention. “Pfft!”

Another half smile flirted at Angel’s mouth when he heard the familiar funny little sound she made, something must be highly amusing to her. Getting up from the soft mattress, the vampire strode towards the bedroom door to try and hear better without disturbing her. Pressing the side of his face to the back of the door, he made the attempt to figure out what she found humorous.

All he could hear was the gentle lull of her heart beat and breathy laughter coming from that mouth of hers. While those were musical sounds, they still didn’t tell him what she was laughing at. Carefully, Angel turned the handle round as quietly as possible and inched the door slightly ajar to see if it was something on TV.

His warm, curious brown eyes peeked round the edge of the door and Angel darted a glance over at the TV just beside the fire place. Though the side of it was facing him, he could just make out the outline of people but couldn’t see what they were doing and it was now obvious the sound was turned off.

“Cordelia?” Angel exited the bedroom, unsure if he was intruding on private time “Everything alright?” even though she was laughing, he couldn’t help but ask if she was alright. After the last two weeks and her hospitalization, taking of his seer had become second nature to him.

If it hadn’t been for the creaking of her bedroom door, Cordelia would have jumped at the sudden sound of the vampire’s voice. As it was, the only thing she had to worry about was changing the channel before Angel noticed what exactly it was she was watching.

Snatching the remote from up next to her feet, Cordelia immediately changed the channel before she responded to his enquiry. The hazel irises looked mildly guilty as she shifted on her couch cushion to make room for him at the other end.

“I didn’t mean to wake you” the channel button was clicked and the images on the screen changed. “Sorry”

Edging further into the living room, Angel bit his lower lip as he was still unsure whether or not he was intruding on something. “You didn’t wake me” his voice was usually quiet as he slowly made his way towards the comfortable leather couch. “I was just thinking”

Cordelia gave him a knowing expression, “You mean you were brooding” her lips quirked up in an amused smile as her slightly guilty hazel eyes locked onto his tired brown ones.

“Thinking” Angel corrected “There’s a difference” like his statement would mean anything to her.

“Thinking is when you ponder the differences between day and night, brooding is when you stay holed up in my room and wallow in whatever it is ensouled vampires wallow in” the young woman replied matter-of-factly with a stern glance up at him. “What were you wallowing in?”

Leaning his hip against the back of the couch, Angel pretended not to hear her question about his wallowing and instead focused on what was playing on the television. His rich gaze conveyed the confusion he felt when he saw the little mouse being chased into the hole by the grey cat. Surely Tom and Jerry couldn’t have been what had her sarcastically amused.

Nudging his head towards the cartoon, the vampire made a move to ask why she was watching it without sound. “Why is the sound turned off?”

Cordelia didn’t look at him and so he missed the light pink hue which decorated the apples of her cheeks. “I didn’t want to wake you Angel” she explained, “You haven’t gotten much sleep since the whole vision hell and office catastrophe so I decided to be considerate girl and let you get some rest”

He may not have seen the flush paint her skin but he didn’t the miss the slight quickening beat of her heart and the tiny, barely noticeable hitch in her breathing. Simple curiosity gave way to intrigue. “You like cartoons?” Angel enquired as he moved round the edge of the couch to sit next to her.

“They provide some much needed light entertainment in our world of gloom and doom” she supplied as she curled her legs up under her thighs, making room for him to get comfortable. “Besides, Jerry is too cute for his own good!” anything to not confess what she had been watching.

It wasn’t hard to tell she was trying to fib her way out of something, the interjection of humor gave the game away completely. Instead of calling her on it, Angel simply let nature take its course. In other words, he’d wait until she couldn’t keep quiet anymore and told him herself.

After a few moments of companionable silence, Angel’s patience with his seer was rewarded when he caught her shooting little side glances his way. Inquisitive hazel irises kept peeking at him through darkened eyelashes, the silent debate over whether or not she could and should confide in him evident on her face.

A few more moments passed and Cordelia was now tilting her head at him, dying to say and ask him something but the question of should or shouldn’t she remained heavily on her expression. The vampire barely held a straight face as his seer began to nibble on her lower lip as her willpower started to fade into oblivion.

The sucked in breath of courage told him she was ready to cave and possibly spill all her deepest, darkest secrets to him. When her fingertips moved to fidget with the hem of her nightshirt, Angel sighed unnecessarily and took the plunge.

“What is it, Cordelia?”

“Nothing” the answer was given too quickly and he gave her a knowing look which caused Cordelia to turn her gaze towards the floor. “Well, almost nothing anyway… Just drop it okay?”

“If there’s something bothering you…” Angel’s voice trailed off and his concern hung around her like a protective blanket and made her feel safe, like nothing could hurt when he was there.

Twisting her whole body around to face the dark haired vampire, Cordelia looked at him and dove in at the deep end. “There is and there isn’t” the two words were a complete contradiction to the expression on her face and Angel again waited patiently for her to continue. “You’ve been not alive for centuries now and have obviously been around the block a few dozen times, right?”

It was a good thing he knew her well enough not to read any insults into the words, Cordelia was just Cordelia and when she was uncomfortable with something, the first thing in her head was usually blurted out.

Not pretending to misunderstand her words, Angel shifted a little as his earlier thoughts were pulled back to the forefront of his brain. “I don’t sleep around” he told her truthfully, “Well, not anymore” he quietly mumbled the addition.

“I wasn’t implying that you did” she quickly reiterated, “I just meant you’re pretty experienced in all things, you know, sexual.” Not waiting for him to give her any sort of reply, Cordelia turned to the channel back to the lightly erotic movie she had been watching.

If vampires could blush, Angel suspected he’d be a pretty shade of plum right about now. Fidgeting on his part of the sofa, his fingers traced invisible patterns around the cream colored arm and his gaze was fixated on her floor. “Cordelia” she had to know how uncomfortable this made him. He tried to keep his attention off of the television and the look of pleasure on both the man and woman.

It only made him want things he couldn’t have.

“Angel” Cordelia stated and made a calming gesture with her hands and regained his interest in the matter at hand. “Look” she started again after a second’s hesitation. “That just isn’t true” one slender finger pointed in the direction of the television screen where a man and woman lay entwined under the sheets. “It doesn’t happen like that, does it?”

Angel wished it did. “Not in my experience” he mumbled regretfully, his thoughts drifting to the last time he’d performed in the ritual of love making and the day that he alone remembered. It surprised the vampire when that particular memory didn’t hurt as it once did, it held a bittersweet pang but not crushing heart break.

“Didn’t you have the fireworks, romance and all that crappola when you were with Buffy?” Cordelia asked, oblivious to the direction of his thoughts at that precise moment in time.

“No” the vampire sighed as he was once again hit with another bittersweet pang at another memory of his ex-girlfriend. “The romance and fireworks came after” off her look, Angel elaborated “Angelus”

“Oh. Sorry” she offered sheepishly, feeling a little silly for not thinking before she asked the question. With an intake of breath, she changed the topic away from the evil version of her best friend to a lighter portion of the current conversation. “At least you didn’t impregnate her with your demon spawn”

A smile flickered at the edges of his lips at her attempt at cheering him up at her own expense. Angel remembered all too well the situation with Wilson Christopher and the pregnancy. He also remembered the incredible restraint he showed when he left him alive, mentally disturbed but alive nonetheless. “You got the romance and fireworks too, huh?”

“In full, glorified techni-color with added enlarged stomach” Cordelia’s smile was full of grim amusement as that not-so-nice and recent memory of her life rattled around in her brain.

“You never did tell me how long you’d known him”

“Not long enough evidently” off Angel’s urging to continue, she told him about the disaster-like fling. “You remember Serena? Well, I’d gone to a club, met her first and she introduced me to Wilson” her heart-shaped face held regret. “I’d known him a few weeks before anything happened, I didn’t sleep with him on the first date”

“I don’t doubt that” Angel knew Cordelia well enough by now to know she wasn’t like most girls who slept around for the hell of it. “If it makes you feel any better, I knew a girl for a few hours and ended up dead”

Her uncolored lips curled up in a smile as she shook her head, “Men are so easy no matter what the century” the expression on her face and the gentle teasing in her hazel orbs took the sting out of her words. “That was the blonde girl who tried to kill Mrs. Summers right?”

“Darla” Angel supplied in a hefty breath, “That was her name. She was my sire and I killed her”

“Good” Cordelia stated firmly, “She tried to kill Mrs. Summers so it’s good that she’s dust. You must be the envy of men everywhere, you actually got to kill your ex-honey”

Her blunt statement earned her another flicker of a smile, a little bigger than the last one. “What about Xander?” Angel enquired, why a young woman like Cordelia would ever date a guy like Xander Harris was beyond his comprehension. “Didn’t you have the romance and fireworks with him?”

There was a brief pause as Cordelia figured out how to answer his answer question without resorting to the use of high profanity. It didn’t hurt like it did once but she still bore the scar of what he had done to her with Willow. “Romance and fireworks with him? Not likely. His idea of romance and fireworks was shacking up with Willow behind my back”

“So you never slept with him?” Angel was surprised at the sound of her indignant yell of denial. He’d always been under the impression that his seer had been with Xander, they’d seemed pretty serious in high school. From the way Buffy, Xander and Willow occasionally spoke about her, Angel was under the impression Cordelia was a stereotypical cheerleader. “Your first time was with…” he couldn’t bring himself to repeat the name.

“Wilson?” Cordelia finished his sentence for him with a slight grin quirking up at either corners of her mouth “Unfortunately so, yeah.” The revelation she had been a virgin before Wilson shouldn’t have come as a surprise but it did and the vampire inwardly berated himself for judging her because of what others had said.

Angel lowered his gaze from hers, what right did he have to judge her? Even back in high school when he hadn’t known her, hadn’t wanted to know her. Cordelia must have realized what he was thinking and a swift elbow to his ribs quickly snapped him out of it. “My reputation certainly got around I take it” there was no bitterness or anger in her voice as she called him on his judgment, only an acceptance that made him feel for her. “Don’t worry about it, there’s wasn’t just you who thought I was the school bike”

“Wilson Christopher wasn’t a great accomplishment, I admit but at least I didn’t get impaled on a rebar” the vampire’s gaze was drawn to the left side of her stomach when she lifted her shirt an inch or two, showing the healed scar. The vampire found himself wanting to reach out and touch that scar, erasing the hurt but it was part of what made her who she was today. “As much of an ass as Xander was as a boyfriend, he still had a good heart and he could be really sweet”

Angel couldn’t help but doubt that, Xander along with Spike was a thorn in his side. “When my parents got busted for tax fraud, Xander paid for my prom dress and when we were dating, he bought me this locket with our pictures in” there was a wistful sigh in her voice when she told him that.

“I gave Buffy a Claddagh ring for her birthday” Angel told the brunette unnecessarily, “That was a few hours before Angelus, I, made everyone’s life a misery”

Cordelia sneaked a glance at the vampire, feeling a wave of heart-felt longing on his behalf. Neither of them had a good track record with romance by the sounds of things, she’d been impregnated and impaled, he’d gone evil twice and been sent to hell. “You shouldn’t blame yourself Angel, that wasn’t you. Well, not the whole you anyway. Besides, Angelus wasn’t so bad if you discount the dead puppies, people and the torturing of Giles”

“Thanks” Angel deadpanned dryly with a slight smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

“Well” Cordelia looked at the clock on the mantle piece with a tired sigh and stifled yawn. “It’s pretty late so I’m gonna hit the hay. Goodnight Angel if you go out, leave a note or wake me up when you get home to let me know you’re okay”

He nodded his goodnight and watched as she hauled herself up off the couch, her bare feet made shuffling noises along the carpet. Angel let his head flop back to rest on the edge of the couch, thinking about what Cordelia had confided in him. It was a shame that her introduction to love making had been with a creep like Wilson Christopher and not with someone who cared for her.

Angel’s attention once again centered on the television screen and he watched as the man lit candles, smoothed bed sheets and generally set the scene to seduce his woman. That was what Cordelia deserved to have had for her first time. Love, friendship, romance and everything else that with it.

She was a beautiful young woman, barely twenty years old and bound to a 248 year-old vampire with a soul by painful visions. It seemed she hadn’t known much love in her life, even from her parents who had pretty much thrown money at her to keep her out of their way. Cordelia was an incredible woman and any man would be lucky to have her.

He wasn’t blind to her faults, but then she never tried to hide them from him either and that just made her a little bit more special. Cordelia was naturally blunt, tactless to a fault sometimes and too stubborn for her own good and not forgetting the way she never listened to a word he said.

This past year, Angel had noticed a considerable change in the young woman’s attitude towards herself and other people. She was calmer, more at peace despite what she sees in the visions and it was as if she’d grown into this remarkable person over night. Maybe she had always been this remarkable person and he’d just never noticed until now, until he was faced with the possibility of life without her.

Fear was all he’d felt at the thought of no Cordelia in his life, even now his throat closed up with panic. Angel’s gaze flickered over to the closed bedroom door, reassuring himself she was in there safe and unharmed.

What did she dream about at night? When she was laying there in her bed under the covers with the world shut out. Her body warm to the touch, hair that smelled like fresh rain and skin cloud soft to the touch.

The fruity bath foam she had used still hung in the air around him, the now empty spot on the couch was still warm and the cushions held the scent he knew uniquely as Cordy. Picking up a small throw cushion, Angel let his eyes drift shut as he inhaled deeply and committed it to a part of his memory that could never be taken away or replaced.

Covering his closed gaze with the cushion, the vampire tightened his grip on the soft knitted material and let the humanity warm his skin. It wasn’t right Angel thought, for Cordelia to go through that for her first time just like it hadn’t been right for Buffy. The similarities between the girls’ first times were very different but both had held an equal effect of wrongness. They both deserved better, Cordelia deserved better.

Tossing the cushion back to its original place, Angel sighed unnecessarily before pushing his body up off the comfortable couch. He squeezed the bridge of his nose, rubbed his hands over his face and through his hair.

“I need to kill something”

*~*~*

It wasn’t the first time he had to force himself to kill and he doubted it would be the last. So what if he had a soul and fighting the good fight was his sworn duty, Angel still felt it every time he had to stake one of his kind. Seeing the game face of other vampires immediately made him thought of his own and what he had looked like to the people he had killed.

A monster, that’s what others of his kind looked like to him and so that’s what he looked like, no matter what Cordelia said. Ugly, evil and hideous; if he had the ability to reflect, he would see the epitome of evil.

The concrete paving was solid beneath his footsteps, smells of fast food stores and food carts filled the air around him, making this a typical weekday night in Los Angeles. Exhaust fumes of vehicles mingled with the burgers, hot dogs and whatever else was cooked on a Wednesday night. Above him, the stars were overshadowed by the artificial street lights and spotlights on the rooftops of the bigger hotels. Everything was so normal.

Walking along the still busy street, Angel passed open stores with late-night shoppers who hoped to beat the daytime rush. Some people walked hand in hand, some arm in arm and some were by themselves. He doubted that even half of those people knew about the demonic underworld, he didn’t know whether to pity them or envy them.

Ignorance was the one thing that didn’t discriminate in the modern world and that fact never ceased to amaze him. Humans could put a man on the moon yet they couldn’t treat each other as equals. There was so much about humanity that he didn’t understand. The way they shamelessly killed their own species for the sake of one man’s ideals was in the top five of his top ten things about humans that didn’t add up list.

He’d fought with the British in World War 2 and during his time as a soldier, he’d seen humanity at its worst. Oradour was one Angel would never forget, an entire village with a population of around 4,000, the men had been taken to a barn, the women and children had been put in a church. The men were the first to be slaughtered and, after hearing their torturing death, the women and children had been burnt alive.

To this day, what remains of that village stands untouched as a reminder of the atrocities that the human race is capable of.

In their own way, vampires were no different except they don’t hate their victims and they don’t commit acts of terrorism just because they have ideals on how things should be run. Well, most vampires didn’t anyway.

His deep thinking was interrupted by a large truck beeping the horn at another driver who’d missed a red light. Glancing at the idiot in the car as it zoomed past him Angel shook his head, shoved his hands into his pockets and continued his slow walk along the City of Angels.

He stopped suddenly when a warming, delicious scent from inside a shop caught his attention. Snapping his intrigued brown eyes through the window, Angel saw a colorful display of a variety of candles. Red, yellow, blue, gold, silver and green decorated the shelves in the window. They were all in different shapes and sizes; round, square, curved, triangle and some looked like waves. Angel just knew Cordelia would love some of these for the apartment.

Staring at the colorfully shaped wax, the vampire’s thoughts once more drifted back to the conversation Cordelia brought up earlier. The regretful and wistful tone in her voice had been unmistakable as she told him about the Wilson situation and the way her eyes glazed over as she watched the movie.

“What am I doing?” Angel whispered and leaned his forehead against the glass window when he realized where his thoughts were going. It didn’t matter if he had a permanent soul now, he was still a vampire with a not-so-good past and the occasional violent tendency. Cordelia wouldn’t lower herself to be with him, she saw him screw things up with Buffy so why would she even think of being with him.

“What? Do I think I can make it up to her? Give her something she never had?” Angel almost laughed out loud at the way he was seriously thinking. If he couldn’t make up for a hundred years’ worth of destruction, how could he make something like this up to Cordelia?

“Stupid” Angel blew out on an unneeded breath of air and pushed away from the window. Buffy didn’t need him, she basically said as much when she came for vengeance and maybe he didn’t need her. He had a family of his own now, friends and his own purpose in life and that was more than he’d ever had.

Remembering the way he felt at seeing Cordelia laying bound to the hospital bed, Angel knew where he needed to be and he knew by all that she had given up where he was wanted. Could there be something more between them? He wasn’t sure. Would she let him be with her? He doubted it. Did he want to be with her? He knew he couldn’t be without her.

Maybe it was worth finding out and maybe the beautiful brunette would give him the courtesy of, did he dare think it? Making love to her? Angel knew he could make the physical aspect of it good for Cordelia but that wasn’t the problem, the problem was being left alone the morning after. Could this really happen?

So many questions and there was only one way to find out the answers.


Part 2:
The comfortable grey cotton pajama shorts clung to her toned thighs as Cordelia wearily shuffled towards her kitchen, yawning and rubbing the last remnants of sleep from her eyes. A hair band held her long, wavy hair off her face in an unkempt bun with lots of wispy strands floating messily all over. Still a little pale off her stay in hospital, the skin on her face was dewy and a slightly puffy from sleeping for the last eight hours.

“Morning Dennis” the seer greeted through a large yawn, “Did Angel get back alright?” she asked as her body moved automatically towards the coffee pot. Her hazel eyes were drawn to the attention of a piece of paper her roommate rustled. Grabbing it, Cordelia read the few lines her other dead roommate had written.

“Got home safe and sound. See you when I wake up. Angel” she scowled at the miniscule note. “That is not a note, that is a-a- I don’t know what it is but it isn’t a note” Cordelia yawned again and gave up making herself some coffee. Her fingertips were still tingling from her position in bed and she fumbled with pulling a chair out from under her kitchen table. “Uhhh” she groaned and flopped down onto it “It’s too early”

A quick glance at the wall clock told her it was almost twelve in the afternoon, with a shrug she cast the fact that it was almost time for Angel to get up aside and concentrated on waking up.

She must have ended up taking a catnap for the vampire softly shook her awake about five minutes later.

“Hey” Angel stated quietly, a half smile lifted the edges of his mouth upwards “Cordelia” her name came out on a lilted singsong voice that was full of amusement. “Wakey, wakey”

“Hmmph?” Cordelia’s eyes blinked open and her head rose off her crossed arms, she curled her mouth up in disgust when she noticed a small drool spot on her forearm. “Oh morning Angel, isn’t it early for you?”

“It’s one thirty in the afternoon” another quick glance at the wall clock confirmed he was indeed telling the truth. Stepping away from his seer, Angel looked at the woman half asleep at her kitchen table and wondered if her sleep was still restless. “Not much sleep?” he enquired without asking for too much information.

“Oh no, plenty of sleep” Cordelia replied honestly, “It’s just one of those days where I feel like I could sleep forever and still be tired” the barely held open hazel eyes was confirmation enough.

“Why don’t you go back to bed for a while?” Angel suggested, it would give him some time to work up the courage to ask the brunette if she would go out with him sometime. As it was, the female species wasn’t known for its mercy towards men for Cordelia declined going back to bed and opted for batting those sleep-dewed irises at him.

When she smiled gently like that, the tiniest dimple appeared just under the left corner of her mouth. Why had he never noticed that before?

“Dennis?” Cordelia was oblivious to the direction of his thoughts as she called out to her ghost. “Please can you make me some coffee?” caffeine would make everything better, as it always did.

“No it’s okay Dennis. I’ll make it” the sudden thought of Dennis attending to his seer’s needs didn’t fill him with the usual feelings of amusement. Angel turned his back to the brunette and set about completing his self given task. “Two sugars, right?” at her affirmation, he added two sugars and waited for the water to boil.

A companionable silence followed, leaving Angel with perfect time to approach Cordelia.

Clearing his throat, the vampire got her attention and could feel her eyes rest on him as he prepared to speak. “Do you have any plans later?” how his voice came out steady, he would never know but he was grateful that it did. “I need to talk”

It was unusual for Angel to come right out and say he needed to talk so Cordelia figured it must be really serious if he said that. “My social life is avoiding me right now so my night is free, you wanna rent a movie and order some take-out? It’s classic ‘talk’ food” she silently wondered what he could want to talk to her about.

He didn’t answer as he finished off making the coffee for their morning caffeine hit and sat down. Dark timber gaze settled nervously on open, trusting hazel orbs that shone with friendship and a host of other emotions he didn’t understand. Her smile was encouraging, warm and soothing, the apples of her cheeks were puffed up a little and he wanted to brush his thumb over the small slope down to caress the full lips.

“Angel?” Cordelia’s voice cut through his study, “What is it? You can tell me anything, you know that”

“Can I?” Angel asked gruffly, forcing his gaze away from the increasing attractiveness of his seer’s heart-shaped face. That forced away gaze was snapped back to her when he felt her small, warm hand close tightly around his cool one, slender feminine fingers wrapped around his roughened palm.

Her voice turned throaty and low while her orbs blazed with meaning. “Yes” Cordelia stated simply and easily, “You’ve saved my life more timed than I can count Angel, since I doubt I’ll ever save yours, the least I can do is listen to you. Besides, we’re friends, more than that we’re family now and that’s what families do… I’m available now as it happens”

A small chuckle came out in a hissed breath as Angel tried to figure out where to start. Even the beginning sounded complicated to his ears. “I…” this was hopeless, he was hopeless. “Cordy” his rich dark brown eyes flickered nervously across the worried features of his seer. “It’s nothing bad, don’t worry” the worried expression receded somewhat and she settled back in her chair.

Her face was so expressive, the way the perfectly shaped brows arched in the middle and the way the hazel seemed to melt into toffee. How had he missed that?

“I was thinking about what we talked about last night”

Cordelia gave him a quizzical glance as she went through what she could have said that would make Angel this troubled. “I’m sorry, not following here. What we talked about?”

“Us” Angel elaborated “Our bad track record with romance”

“What about it?”

“You were right” there was a lot to be said for stating the obvious and from the expression now crossing Cordelia’s face said it all for him. Angel shifted uncomfortably under the weight of her stare. “Maybe Xander didn’t understand you, like” he struggled to get all this out the way it was supposed to “Buffy didn’t understand me”

Cordelia sighed heavily and her coffee cup landed on the table top with a quiet thud. She was unusually quiet as she leaned her cheek on one clenched fist, gazing at the vampire with a serious expression. “That wasn’t the problem with Xander and I Angel, the problem was he didn’t love me. I was just too stupid to see it. That was a far cry from your problem with Buffy. Your only problem was the losing of your soul”

She knew that wasn’t the only problem with Angel’s relationship with the blonde Slayer but Cordelia was not going to voice out what her opinion. If he didn’t know the problem then it wouldn’t make any difference if she enlightened him, he would only deny them.

Though pensive, Angel’s expression was quiet disbelief as he contemplated the brunette’s statement regarding his past relationship. “No it wasn’t but I appreciate your rare moment of tact” his dry comment had a quirky smile forming on her lips.

“Less tact, I was merely trying to save precious breath” the teasing glint in her gaze took the sting out of her words and she made a motion for him to continue talking to her.

“It wouldn’t matter if I had lost my soul with her” Angel fully intended on telling her about his soul. “None so true as a love between a vampire and slayer” his use of dry sarcasm wasn’t lost on her. His own lips twitched at the corners, the pangs of heart break never came. Instead of continuing to talk about their respective ex’s, the vampire drank the rest of his now tepid coffee and changed the subject. “What are you looking for?”

It took Cordelia a moment to adjust to the sudden change in the conversation. “In a man? Oh um, if I was in high school or even six months ago this would be where I’d say tall, handsome and with enough money to keep me in blue boxes for the rest of my life…”

This time, Angel did smile “Tiffany’s”

Cordelia’s entire face lit up, her lips curled up completely and a sparkle appeared in the bright hazel orbs as he correctly identified the name of her favourite jewellers. “But now I don’t know, all of a sudden personality is this big, important thing that’s missing from the male race. On the rare occasion I go out, most of the guys I meet are either trying to stick their tongues down my throat or they’re spouting the lamest chat-up lines ever and I don’t get me started on the groping”

Angel was lost as soon as she mentioned males trying to stick their tongues down her throat until the word groping left her mouth. “Groping?” his eyes fully spoke the way he felt about that bit of information. “You get groped? Some guy touches you?” was it safe to let her go out on her own?

“Geez calm down” Cordelia rolled her eyes in exasperation, totally missing the envy mingled with the distaste in the vampire’s voice. “They think a quiet word in the ear combined with a quick squeeze of my ass is enough to get me into bed. I hate it when a guys just takes things like that for granted” her little vent was ended the same way it started. On a deep sigh and sip of now cold coffee. “What about you?”

“What about me?” Angel enquired, wondering if he should tell her about his soul now or later and drop the hint that he would like to see if they could make it work between them. “I don’t have a type that attracts me in the way of blondes, brunettes or red heads. I like spirit, strength of character. A unique personality draws me in more than outer beauty. You could have the most beautiful woman in the world but she could have as much fire in her heart as a sponge”

He’d tell her now, while they were alone. Well, as alone as they could be with a ghost roommate.

The seer saw the seriousness once again darken his gaze and her curiosity began to heighten as did her impatience. “Look Angel” Cordelia expelled a large breath, “If there’s something you want to tell…”

“My soul” that got her attention “It’s permanent”

“Oh” whatever she was expecting him to say, it wasn’t that. Sitting further back in her chair, Cordelia blinked and stayed silent as his news sank into her brain, her fingers tapped against the coloured ceramic mug while her lips pursed and un-pursed. “That’s what all this talk about romance is about isn’t it?”

Her question had Angel a little confused and he expressed as much with a simple glance.

“You want to go back to Sunnydale, back to her” Cordelia all but snapped, not caring how jealous she must have sounded to him. Hearing his soul was permanent was a big deal and if him going back was what he was building up to, well he could forget it. “Well, you can’t leave to go back. You can’t leave me to deal with the visions on my own and I won’t go back so you’ll just have to deal”

No, Angel couldn’t leave her. Not now, not after everything they’d been through together. Cordelia made up her mind there and then that if he tried to leave, she would keep him chained up to his bed and only let him up for fighting the visions. She could feed him blood through a straw, they could listen to music and watch TV together and Wesley could be the new secretary.

She would rather walk through hell rather than let him leave her.

Angel saw and heard the determination Cordelia had to keep him with her in L.A and in that moment, he knew he was making the right choice to both tell her and stay. This was where he was needed and clearly this was where he was wanted, truth be told this was where he felt he wanted to be too.

The dark haired vampire patiently waited for a few moments to let the overwhelming feeling to subside before speaking to his seer about his plans to stay with her. “Cordelia” Angel cut her off when she opened that mouth, “I’m not going back there. I want to stay here”

Humanity had never felt as hot as her hand right then, Angel sucked in a deep breath and smoothed his palm over the delicate feminine hand until his fingers grazed hers. “I want to stay in L.A. with you”

Hazel eyes slowly looked down when she felt the cool pressure of his hand cover hers, the roughened skin on his thumb moved in soft, slow circles over the back of her hand uncertainly. Cordelia snapped her eyes back up to see Angel lower his gaze away from hers, not wanting to see the rejection on her face.

“Angel?” she glanced down at the sight of his pale skin contrasting against her bronzed complexion. “I don’t…” Cordelia frowned, he couldn’t be meaning what she thought he meant, he was too nice to toy with her like that.

“Yes, you do understand” Angel countered her unfinished sentence, “Do I… Is there a chance for us? For me to be with you”

Under his touch, her hand curled into a relaxed fist and her face entirely lost the sparkle of earlier, leaving him with no doubt she was going to reject him. “Angel” Cordelia began calmly, taking her time to speak slowly and clearly. “If this is just a dramatic way to get sex…”

“No Cordelia!” the dark haired vampire’s grip tightened around her hand “This is not some lame ass chat-up line o-or me looking for a quick fix from you. Don’t confuse me with Wilson Christopher or one of those little boys at the clubs you go to” he was hurt that she would even think that but he could understand why the thought was there.

Not for the first time in his existence, Angel damned Xander Harris for being the first one to use her and he damned Wilson Christopher for being the second to use her. What Wilson did to her far outweighed what Xander did by a long shot, not only did he impregnate her with demonic babies but he also gave her the connotation that sex and love equaled pain and a broken heart.

“I just want a chance, Cordy” Angel stated simply, “Just a chance to see if we could have something”

“You’re too nice a person to be playing with me and we’re both too old to be playing games” Cordelia slipped her hand out from his with a little resistance. “I was… Let me finish” she told him when he opened his mouth to defend himself again. “Xander once told me that the only way I’d ever stand a chance with you was if Buffy died. Once upon a time he would have been right. Why the sudden change in personal taste? Why do you want a chance with me?”

“Because I think we could have something good” Angel answered honestly, “You’re my best friend, I care about you so much and I know we could be good together” destiny and fate didn’t come into the equation. “Because I need you in my life just like you need me. You weren’t going to let me go back to Sunnydale Cordy, you couldn’t let me go anymore than I could you”

Before Cordelia had the time to be taken aback by his half growled statement, the breeze around the vampire and herself rustled and the front door to her apartment opened. The arrival of Wesley effectively cut off the rest of their conversation.

“I didn’t think it was so late” the seer quietly muttered as she fanned her flushed face with the hand Angel had been caressing. “I better go get some clothes on, can you make some more coffee please?” there was a hint of a shy smile decorating her lips as she directed the request towards Angel.

“Just tell me if there’s a chance”

The only answer he got was a bigger shy smile before Cordelia waltzed past Wesley and into her bedroom. Leaving Angel wondering if she was just playing hard to get or if she wanted some time to think it over.

*~*~*

It was almost six that evening when she got the vision that sent Wesley and Angel to the park in order to save some teenagers from vampires. The battle was short, vampires dusted, teenagers saved and their alcohol confiscated.

Careful of the sharp deadly points, Wesley placed his axe into the shoulder bag and took a deep breath in preparation to ask the vampire a very important question. All day he’d witnessed the glances exchanged between Angel and Cordelia, the prolonged hand touches and the shy lip biting performed by the brunette seer.

“Angel, what is going on between Cordelia and yourself?” Wesley decided to take a page out of her book and go with tact. Nudging his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, the ex Watcher side-stepped a disgusting looking puddle on the path as he listened to the vampire clear his throat.

“Maybe nothing” Angel was reluctant to give any premature information away until he’d gotten a definite answer from the beautiful seer regarding his courtship. He grimaced, thinking of how she would react if he’d actually used the word courtship to her face. He doubted she’d even dignify the old-fashioned term with a reaction.

“That’s not an answer” Wesley paused his slow walk and turned his companion to face him. “Need I remind you about a certain curse and what happens when that curse is lifted?” it was a very real concern in his world.

“No need to worry about it”

“I think there is”

Angel took an unnecessary deep breath, wondering what business it was of Wesley’s if Cordelia and him were dating. “The curse isn’t an issue Wes so there’s no need to worry about it” curling his tongue around blunt teeth, the vampire studied the younger man intently. “Something tells me it’s not just the curse that you’re worried about”

“Cordelia is young, Angel and she may be mature beyond her years but she is still just a young woman with her whole life ahead of her” he believed he had very real concerns regarding the emotional welfare of the girl he considered one of his own family.

“She’s still capable of making her own decisions and knowing what she wants” Angel refused to argue about this with the Englishman. He wouldn’t hurt Cordelia and there was no way in hell was he going to leave her because of someone else’s opinions.

“Angel…”

“Look, I appreciate your concerns Wes” the dark haired vampire cut him off, “But you don’t have to worry”

Wesley wondered differently.

*~*~*

The engine was killed after the car came to a stand-still outside the apartment building. Angel sat back in the drivers’ seat, going over what Wesley had said earlier that evening and wondered if he’d been right. Was he being selfish in wanting to be with Cordelia? Was it wrong to want her to be with him?

The vampire shook his head; no it wasn’t wrong to want a relationship or to want a chance to be happy now that he could be. What was wrong was Wilson Christopher taking Cordelia’s first time and turning it into something ugly, something she wanted to forget about. It was something he couldn’t forget about.

She should have had rose petals on her bed, chilled champagne, those scented candles filling her room with soft light and silk sheets. That was how her first time should have been, that was what Cordelia deserved to have.

Angel made a slow walk back to her apartment, a slight movement caught his eye and when he looked closely, he saw his seer peering out of her window holding a mug and wiggling her fingers at him. A smile flickered across his face as he looked back at her and returned her greeting then watched as she disappeared from view.

He found her door already open and walked in, offhandedly noticing the homely décor. “Cordy?” the door closed behind him with a quiet click, the soft human heart beat came from the direction of the kitchen and went there.

Angel saw Cordelia sitting at the kitchen table, her hands wrapped around a mug of coffee with two extra mugs opposite her. She was glancing up at him through dark eyelashes that hid the expressive hazel irises with a hint of a twinkling smile flirting on her lips. “The vision headache’s gone so I take it everything went well?”

“Yeah” he sat down and eyed the two mugs dubiously, one was coffee and the other was pigs’ blood. “What’s this?” Angel tried to keep his gaze away from the mug that held blood; he was hungry after the fight but didn’t want to drink in front of her.

“I figured you might be, you know, hungry after fighting and since I was already making coffee, there ya go” Cordelia shrugged, not wanting a big deal made out of her gesture as it would embarrass her. She’d never really put much thought into a guy before but he wasn’t just any guy, it was Angel and he was good. He deserved to be taken care of and deserved to be accepted for who he was.

From the way he spoke about his past love, she’d gotten the distinct impression he’d never had acceptance before. It was a lot like her, Cordelia had realized with startling clarity, she’d never known real friendship or had acceptance. Her friends in high school had wanted to be around her because she was rich, popular and had a pretty face not to mention the fact her family had been powerful.

But that didn’t matter to Angel so why should his demons bother her when hers didn’t bother him? Besides, if he hadn’t been a vampire he wouldn’t be able to do as much good and fight her visions the way he did. To most people and to herself, vampires were the embodiment of all things evil but like everything, there were exceptions to the rule.

“You didn’t have to” Angel told her, uncomfortable and overwhelmed with her show of acceptance, “Not that I’m not grateful” he quickly added in case she thought he didn’t appreciate it. “But…” he didn’t have a clue what to say.

“Angel, relax” Cordelia stated with a little smirk, “I’ve been thinking about what you said, about us being together”

She got his undivided attention, “And?”

“I’d like too with you” that was what Angel wanted, her trusting him with her heart and giving him a chance. Before he could say anything to her words, her expression became serious. “You so much as hurt me in anyway and I promise you’ll need your balls surgically removed from your body”

“Trust me not to hurt you like Xander and Wilson” Angel it was a big request he knew that but it would only work between them if she did. Watching his fingers toy with the mug holding the blood, the vampire waited for her to respond and took the silence as her contemplating exactly what he was asking of her.

“I think I can do that” Cordelia paused to take a sip of her coffee and yawned, “I was gonna watch a movie in bed if you want to join me”

“I’ll drink” Angel nodded towards the mug he was holding, “Then I’ll join you”

“Okay, see you in a little while”

*~*~*

It was half an hour later when Angel joined his seer in her room by which time she had succumbed to sleep with the movie still playing on the TV. He placed his jacket over the back of the vanity dresser chair and couldn’t help but notice how nice it was to have something of his in her room.

He eased himself onto the edge of her bed, watching her sleep and listening to the soothing sound of her even breathing. Her cheek was resting on the back of her hand, the soft skin of her eyelids fluttered with rapid eye movement and her lips were parted. If he was laying next to her, the warm flutter of air would brush across his skin teasingly and her mouth would graze his in a testing kiss.

Stripping his sweatshirt over his head, Angel folded the soft material into a neat shape and placed it on her floor. His boots came next, the laces were undone and he quietly placed his shoes next to his sweatshirt. Though he removed his belt, the vampire left his pants on and turned to lay down next to Cordelia and continued to watch her sleep.

His seer appeared so peaceful and relaxed, so different to what she could be dreaming about. Often, the relaxing demeanor of sleep hid a storm of emotion that was released through dreams that left people troubled over the meaning.

Curling his larger body into a fetal position, Angel watched as Cordelia instinctively turned into him and her small hand moved up to touch his chest. A soft murmur escaped her lips and a frown marred her peaceful expression making him question what he’d done to disturb her sleep. His silent question was answered when he felt her hand move his arm up and slide round to grip his back.

He allowed her to pull him closer to her until she nestled herself completely against his body. Rounded breasts were pushed up to his chest where her hand had been, a strong slender leg was curved over his thigh and chestnut hair tickled his neck. Despite the sensual position Cordelia had initiated, Angel didn’t respond in a physically sexual way. His response was so much more than that.

“Night” the vampire whispered, allowing himself the honor of gracing her soft mouth with a little kiss.


Part 3:
Resting his left cheek on his curled up fingers, Angel contentedly watched as Cordelia continued to sleep peacefully next to him. Her breathing and heart beat were even, the soft sound served to calm the ever-present struggle within. The skin on her face held only one flaw, the little beauty spot on the side of her cheek and that wasn’t exactly a flaw as it was a part of her characteristic features.

All over her body, her skin was dewy with the hours of sleep, making her smooth and soft to his touch. Angel skimmed the tips of his fingers lightly down the slender length of her arm, from the feminine slope of her shoulder to the hand that had healed him so many times. The nails were exceptionally cared for, practically short but perfectly shaped and shaded with a clear varnish that added a healthy shine.

It never ceased to amaze him that Cordelia spent as much time in the sun as he did and still held a glowing, lightly bronzed hue to her complexion. Lowering his lips to the tantalizing arc of her throat, Angel brushed his mouth over the skin and relished in the taste of day that salted his lips with sunlight.

A silent, heavy breath poured out of his parted mouth as Angel swept his lips across the expertly carved curve of her neck. His hand glided further down her arm to graze her stomach, his fingers tickled around the sensitive belly button and smiled a little when the feminine abdominal muscles twitched with the soft stimulation. He marvelled at how much of the tiny waist his hand covered and continued his careful touching.

Cordelia inched her body back into the vampire’s, making him increase the gentle pressure bestowed on her throat and making his forming erection burn at the sexual position initiated. Angel kissed his way smoothly down her shoulder, enjoying the physical and mental closeness between him and his seer. His fingers glided over the flat of her stomach, the backs of his knuckles occasionally skirted the edge of her pubic mound.

She made the slayer seem like she had an eating disorder, such an innocent yet mature young woman with the body a Greek goddess would have been proud to have. Curves in all the right places, grace, poise and a sense of royalty were exuded in abundance from the sleeping young woman. Her hair was a rich shade of chestnut; the silky strands always caught in the light, the thick waves fell down past her shoulder blades like a luxurious water fall.

The ends tickled the skin on his chest as he curled his body tighter around hers, his hand touching her stomach slid across the butter-soft skin until he could use his arm to hold her back against him. Angel felt a small, breezy caress on his cheek and he raised his warm obsidian gaze to sleepy hazel irises.

Cordelia was still blinking away the final remnants of sleep when she felt herself being tucked into a solid male body behind her. A cool yet hot hand was smoothing over her side with a gentility she only became aware of when her eyes opened. Naturally-colored lips quirked up in a hazy smile when he trailed the back of his index finger down her sleep-washed cheek.

“Hey” Angel’s voice was rich, throaty and held a husky hint of desire, “Sleep well?”

The seer snuggled further back into the vampire and her fingers traced the defined contours of his face, stubble rasped against the sensitive skin on the fingertips. “Morning… Or is it afternoon?” if it was afternoon then Wesley would show up soon and she didn’t want him seeing them in bed together. She didn’t want her relationship with Angel to become public knowledge until she’d had a chance to get used to it herself.

“It’s still early” Angel whispered after a quick glance to the softly glowing clock on the bedside table, reading it was only 6:30 am. He felt strangely rested after only sleeping for a few hours, adrenalin from the vision fight yesterday had worked him up a little more than usual. No doubt that could also be due to the possibility he could have another way to burn off that adrenalin.

“What time is it?” Cordelia asked, her voice was sleepily hazy with a quiet husk to the feminine voice. Her hazel eyes blinked rapidly two or three times as she peered at her clock for an answer to her question. “6:30, wow!” she exclaimed sarcastically enthusiastic, “This has to be the earliest I’ve ever woke up, including my school years.”

Rubbing the back of her finger over her eyes, she wiped away the remaining fog and glanced up at the vampire who was still watching her in silent amusement. “What?”

Angel’s mouth flirted in a small smile, the hand still resting on her hip moved back to her stomach, stroking soothingly. As he looked at the brunette, he memorized everything visible to him. Glazed irises that sparkled with every fiber of her nature, the mouth that rarely stopped except to take a breath and the way her entire face expressed her thoughts.

“Nothing” the vampire’s reply was simple but no less descriptive, in the word ‘nothing’ the definition clear in it was ‘everything’ “Why don’t you go back to sleep? Still early” he wanted to spend a little more time watching her sleep.

“Am awake now” Cordelia sighed, not that it was all bad of course, there was something nice about waking up with him. When Angel looked like he was about to apologize for waking her, she rolled her eyes and cut him off. “Don’t, it’s too early to be listening to you say you’re sorry!”

“Oh… Sorry”

“Dork” the brunette shifted so she could stretch out the kinks in her back, the movement taking her closer into his body until his chest cushioned her completely. Settling back on him, Cordelia tilted her face to the side, peering up at Angel with a slightly shy smile. She wanted to kiss him but was unsure how he would react; the intimate and relaxed position might have been ruined, made awkward if she kissed him.

Angel didn’t miss the expression waving across her sleep-washed face and once again he noticed how expressive she was. Taking the initiative, the vampire slowly lowered his lips down to hers and gently brushed the soft, full mouth once before moving away. It was a simple kiss, nothing overwhelming or filled with heady sparks of passion but it was enough to leave him wanting more.

Sweeping her tongue over her lips, Cordelia relished the light male taste infused on her mouth. The natural rosy hue glistened with moisture, looking delectably tasty to Angel as warm breath fluttered over the harder lines of his lips. Her hand caressed the well-structured face of the vampire, the day-old stubble made her fingertips tingle with the male texture.

This time, Angel let his mouth linger on hers for a moment longer, allowing the feminine warmth to soak into his cool lips, heating him slowly. Cordelia’s eyes closed as her mouth parted, a quiet drawn in breath alerted him to the fact she also wanted more. Dipping his tongue into the heated cavern, his own eyes snapped shut when he felt her respond shyly at first.

She massaged his fuller lower lip with both of hers, gasping when he increased the pressure and deepening the kiss. Angel swept his tongue all around the warmer, softer one and the rush of pleasure made him tighten his hold on her body. Her moan was lost and her breath lodged thick in her throat when she felt his body react in a sinfully male way, hardening against her thigh.

Cordelia curled her hand around his cheek, pulling his mouth harder onto hers and shifted her hips until she felt the growing erection firmly against her ass. Angel groaned, a low sound that made his chest vibrate, when she moved into his body and reluctantly began to decrease the pressure on her mouth. A final tug on her bottom lip hinted that the kiss was over and she too pulled away.

Looking down at the brunette, Angel ran his heavy gaze over the reddened, swollen mouth with approval, wondering if she had ever been kissed with such care and attention before. He wasn’t sure if he had; the shared kisses with Buffy had always been in stolen secretive moments either in a graveyard or hidden away in his mansion. This was different in so many ways, this hadn’t been a stolen hidden moment in the dark, this was…

Angel knew he had made the right choice for him, Cordelia was something special and their first kiss had proved that. The girl in question was staring up at him through dazed, hazel orbs that slowly blinked once, twice, three times before an amazing smile breezed across the lips he’d just made his own.

“I could get used to waking up like that” Cordelia treated the dark haired vampire to another smile that was impossible to resist. Just as he was about to replace his mouth on hers, a hand to his chest stilled his movements. “Lemme brush my teeth first” was the answer to his questioning look, “My mouth feels awful, morning breath is so not attractive”

“I like the way you taste just fine” a smile flickered over his lips, “You should try and get a few more hours sleep” Angel shifted his body away from hers, removing the evidence of just how much he liked the kiss to save any awkwardness that might arise.

Shaking her head, the seer rolled onto her side so she could fully face him. “Nah, not tired now” Cordelia rubbed her eyes a little, peeking past her finger with a hazy grin. “I could go for some coffee and breakfast though. You want?” she didn’t doubt he expected her to ask him to make the coffee and breakfast.

Angel nodded unsure if she meant making him blood or plain, old coffee. “I’ll make you some scrambled eggs if you want” on occasion, he’d seen what she could do to a kitchen and it scared the hell out of him, besides he still felt a little overwhelmed at her making blood for him. That acceptance was hard to get used too, especially when you’d spent half your existence hiding it, and himself, away so others wouldn’t be put off by it.

“You’re offering to cook me breakfast?” Cordelia asked, a hint of a delighted smile flirted her lips as equal delight poured from the hazel beams. “Doesn’t it, like, gross you out? You know, cooking solids?” off his questioning and confused expression, the seer elaborated what she was trying to find out. “What I mean is, meatloaf grosses me out and I wouldn’t be able to cook it, let alone eat it. Don’t you get weirded out cooking human food?”

Thinking about it now that she’d mentioned it, there were a few things humans ate and he would never be able to understand why, nor did he want to be able to understand either. “It’s been so long since I’ve tasted food as such” Angel spoke wistfully, his mind drifting back to the forgotten day with Buffy when he’d tasted ice cream for the first time.

The taste had haunted him, both making him smile that he’d finally knew what chocolate chip cookie dough was like and making him long to be able to experience that all over again. “Cooking it, smelling it is the closest thing to eating as I’ll ever get”

“For now” Cordelia reminded him softly, the promise of Angel becoming human made her warm inside and she wondered what he would do once he got there. She firmly believed that no matter how long it took, he would work his way out. “Who knows, maybe in ten years you could be sipping Pina Coladas in Barbados or eating Thai Chicken with me on my couch”

“Maybe” Angel seemed to be indulging her in the little attempt to stop him from thinking about his none-tasting taste buds. She might be right, he just may end up sipping Pina Coladas in Barbados but he doubted she would be with him that long. He kept waiting for the day when Cordelia announced she was moving on and leaving him, waiting for the day when she realized she was worth more than a life fighting demons and being with a tormented vampire like himself.

“No ‘maybe’ about it Broody” the old nickname fell easily from Cordelia’s lips the instant she recognized his patented brooding expression. “I’ll be in the hottest two piece bikini, lounging by the outdoor heated pool” her voice grew slightly distant, making Angel quirk a smile at the silly fantasy she was thinking of.

“The sun will be amazingly hot and Jude Law will be rubbing tanning lotion allllll over…!” she cast a sneaky glance at the vampire, inwardly smiling when his expression went from half amused to a jealous frown. “Kidding! Well, about the Jude Law part anyway” she wanted Angel to be the one to be oiling her body up with lotion.

The vampire felt like bringing up one of the many beautiful female actresses to get a little retribution on the wily brunette next to him but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Besides, he had breakfast and coffee to make her. “You never did say if you wanted me to make you some scrambled eggs” Angel brought the earlier topic up, clearly insinuating all talk about male stars were off limits.

“Is Brad Pitt hot?!” the seer cheekily replied, off Angel’s pained look Cordelia took pity on him and changed the subject. “Do I get it in bed?”

“You can’t eat in the bed” a scowl furrowed his brow, wrinkling his nose and scrunching up his eyebrows “That isn’t right”

“It’s my bed” Cordelia retorted haughtily, “I can eat in it if I want too”

“Not if you want me sleeping in here” as soon as the words passed his lips, Angel’s entire body stilled with disbelief at what he’d just said to her. From the light flushing of her cheeks, the tiny flicker of a smile and the lighting up of hazel, it didn’t seem like that bad a thing to say but he couldn’t help but feel a tad embarrassed about just coming right out and declaring an ultimatum.

Brown eyes searched Cordelia’s face for any signs of anything other than thrilling anticipation of him sleeping with her; he relaxed when all he saw was open trust, friendship and a mischievous twinkle flirting in the depths of her toffee irises. “I didn’t mean…”

“I guess that means I’ll be eating breakfast in the kitchen from now one” her voice was laced with a sultry subtext that made him want to purr and his skin to flush out in goose-bumps. Licking his pale mouth with a long, slow sweep of his pink tongue, Angel moistened his rapidly drying lips and couldn’t stop the shiver than ran through his body at her implication. This between them was supposed to go slow, but if Cordelia kept saying implications like that then slow would have to wait.

*~*~*

“Good afternoon all” Wesley greeted cheerfully as Dennis closed the door after his arrival, his attention was immediately drawn to the young woman and vampire who wore identical expressions of guilt on their faces. Angel’s hand appeared to be wiping his mouth and Cordelia’s cheeks were flushed with a light pink hue.

“Afternoon Wes” Angel greeted with a small nod, trusting the Englishman not to voice his relationship concerns around the seer. If she wanted to be with him then it was her decision not Wesley’s.

“Hi, want some coffee? I was just about to make some” Cordelia’s voice was bright, chirpy but there was an underlying throaty purr that told ex-watcher just what he had walked in on. “I have that tasty English tea you like and I’ve been learning how to make it too” making tea the ‘proper’ way was apparently only something the British could do. It was almost like they owned the corner of tea making.

“Tea would be lovely, thank you” Wesley watched as the young woman flurried away into the kitchen before turning his attention to the silent vampire who had lipstick painting his mouth. “That colour suits you” the Englishman commented without disdain and judgment.

After spending half the night thinking about all his worries regarding Angel’s interest in pursuing Cordelia, he’d come to the decision that if the curse was no longer a factor then he should be happy for them. After all, it wasn’t often happiness was found every day and if they could be happy together, then who was he to argue?

“What? Oh” Angel placed his fingers to his mouth, still feeling the hot pressure of her lips melting around his and the taste of her breath tickling his tongue. Pulling his fingers away, he saw the red shade tinting the pale skin. “Yeah” he didn’t know what else he could say when it was obvious Wesley knew what was going on.

“Look Wes” he spoke up cutting off whatever the Englishman was going to retort, “I…” Angel went o explain unnecessarily.

“There is really no need” the Englishman cut him off with a warm smile, “I wish you both luck Angel. Just know that if you ever break her heart, I will make you suffer before I put you out of your misery. Understood?” The words and calm, easy voice in which Wesley expressed his promise made the vampire take serious notice and respond with an agreeing nod.

“If I break her heart then you won’t need to” Angel spoke with as much seriousness as the ex-watcher.

The sound of shuffling feet quickly cut the line of conversation off before the two men could get it into it furthermore. Both glanced at the brunette who was balancing three mugs, a pile of sandwiches and what looked to be a bar of chocolate on a tray not close to being big enough for the cargo on it. “A little help wouldn’t go amiss” Cordelia glared stonily at Angel and Wesley, telling them what she thought of their lack of gentlemanly gesturing to her plight.

“Let me” Angel moved before Wesley had a chance too, unnecessarily making a point of being the boyfriend towards the other man who merely rolled his blue eyes heavenward and wished Cordelia all the luck in the world. The poor girl was going to need it. “Mine?” the vampire held up a coffee-holding mug quizzically, “Or yours?”

“Makes no difference to me, take whichever mug you like best” Cordelia shrugged as much as she could without disrupting the already precariously balanced things on the little tray. “Here Wes, I made you some lunch if you want. Its ham salad loaded to the eyeballs with mayo and French mustard”

Wesley smiled approvingly at the improved caring attitude of the young woman, though he wished it had surfaced under better and happier conditions. As it was, they had Vocah to thank for her change and the ‘new’ Cordelia Chase. The young woman was now as firmly attached to the mission as anyone before her.

In the beginning she had been more for Angel because he was her friend and now it was because of what she had witnessed in the visions that held her prisoner. Cordelia Chase had become a hero in her own way, vowing to help everyone she could and doing what it took to fight evil. He was proud of her, of who she was growing to be.

Angel smiled knowingly, catching the expression on Wesley’s face as he looked at an unknowing Cordelia; he knew what the Englishman was thinking of and it was true. His seer was a truly remarkable person, she probably always had been but only needed to feel comfortable enough to show it. “Why don’t you go sit down, Cordy?” the vampire suggested lightly, she’d done enough to warrant a little rest.

“You know what?” Cordelia gazed at him with a studious expression, “I think I will. Here, you get this while I go put my slippered feet up!” if they insisted she take a break then she wasn’t going to argue. Looking at each Wesley and Angel in turn, a soft smile graced her lips as she watched them drink their coffee as they discussed battle tactics.

They’d been through a lot in a few short months, going from total strangers into a family where they belonged. If only they’d realised they could be like this in Sunnydale, if only she’d thought to be friends with both of them then maybe her senior year wouldn’t have been so bad.

Instead, all she’d cared about back then was having a handsome, rich man escorting her to the latest in a long line of school dances. Looking back on things now, Cordelia realised, with a sad ache in her chest, of all the times both Angel and Wesley could have done with a friend. Better late than never she thought with a sigh, there was no sense in walking down memory lane when nothing could be done about it. They were a family now and that was what mattered.

Angel had practically nothing but a dark shadow in Sunnydale, always and never far behind Buffy Summers. Ready to help the blonde fight when she asked, or told him as the case had been more times than not. Cordelia recalled him brushing off her charms more than once and cringed inwardly, God what he must have thought of her back then, she dreaded to think.

There were so many things about the dark haired vampire that came to her mind, too many for her catalogue the only way she could describe him was… Angel.

Then there had been Wesley-Wyndham Pryce, replacement watcher for Rupert Giles after he had been fired by the council following Buffy’s eighteenth birthday. He hadn’t been a good fighter and had been scared out of his wits when he came face-to-face with demons and vampires. Each of them had grown in so many ways since leaving the Hellmouth far behind in Sunnydale, only to cross paths in Los Angeles in a way that could have been coincidence or fate, not that it mattered which.

Cordelia was happy with her life now, she was happy with the person she had become and she was proud of her family. Drifting out of her thoughts, the young woman noticed Angel and Wesley looking slightly worried at her “What?”

“You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said, have you?” Wesley deadpanned exasperatingly, there was one thing he doubted would ever change and that was her low attention span to his highly important lectures.

“I was thinking” she said defensively.

“Oh, is that the burning smell?” Wesley muttered with a teasing glint shining through his glasses.

“Actually smart ass” Cordelia smirked at the Englishman, “I was thinking of how happy I am, being here with you two oddballs as my family”

Discounting the oddball remark, Angel stole a glance at the brunette and grinned privately, he was happy here too. This was more than he’d ever had, more than he would probably ever have and that was something he could live with. While he caught the brunette’s soft gaze, Wesley couldn’t stop from blinking rapidly and turned away from his family it seemed.

“I must have something in my eye…!”

*~*~*

Her bare feet quietly padded against the thick carpeting as she walked around the table, picking up used glasses and a plate. Sighing, Cordelia popped her back and glanced at the simple clock on the mantle, wondering what time Angel would get back from wherever he had gone. The apartment seemed empty without Angel and Wesley there now that they’d both gone, suspiciously leaving her with the mess to clean up. Cookie and bread crumbs fell onto the carpet, making the brunette grimace and sigh again, dreading the inevitable vacuuming she would now have to do.

If she had eaten in bed, she could have just brushed the crumbs off the bed onto the floor and strategically kicked them under the bedstead so they would go unnoticed. As she had all but promised Angel that eating in the bed would happen no more, Cordelia guessed she’d have to stick to that or he wouldn’t sleep with her again. “Anal retentive vampire” she grumbled on her way to the kitchen.

This morning had been one of the best mornings in her life, waking up to find the man she deeply cared about looking at her as if she were his world. Angel had seemed so content to just be next to her, cuddling and kissing languidly and softly but never attempting to hide to hunger behind them. His erection had felt so hard as he rocked lightly into her hips, the low moan expelled had made her shiver deliciously. Cordelia wondered if he would want to make love with her tonight…

Berating herself, the brunette reminded her hormones she and Angel hadn’t even gone out on a date yet let alone talked about sex. Were they already past the dating stage? Cordelia wasn’t sure, it would be nice to wait a little while longer, just to build this romance, if that was what it is, up between them.

Maybe they were just two best friends who were making a terrible mistake in crossing the point of no return, what if they were? Things would never be like how they were if it turned out they were in fact making a mistake. It didn’t feel to her like a mistake, being with Angel simply felt right, like she was exactly where she was meant to be in life.

Shaking her head, the young woman continued to clear away the plate and glasses, wanting to make a good impression on the vampire when he got back. She couldn’t have him thinking she was a slob all the time. Cordelia brushed a loose strand of hair away from her forehead and finished the tidying, deciding to leave the dishes to drip-dry while she had a nice, long hot bubble bath.

Before exiting the kitchen, the seer halted for a second “Blood” Angel would be hungry when he got back, especially if he’d been on a quick sweep of some known vampire nesting grounds near-by. It didn’t take Cordelia long to pour some pigs’ blood into a large novelty mug, just as she was about to stick in the microwave, the brunette stalled again as her gaze landed on the spice rack.

“He did say he couldn’t taste solid food, maybe he could taste a little something…” Cordelia’s voice trailed off thoughtfully as she tapped her finger rythmically against the mug of cold blood. “A little something like Cayenne pepper? No, don’t wanna give him a heart attack… Cinnamon. Dennis, give Angel this note as soon as he gets back please? I’m gonna go take a bubble bath and then go watch some TV, I think Poltergeist is on cable. You up for it? Just no funny tricks this time okay?”

*~*~*

Angel had just dropped Wesley off at his apartment and now the vampire sat in his car staring up at a well-lit, well-known hotel. Would it be too tacky to bring Cordelia here one night? All he could think of was how perfect it would be to have a large, deliciously comfortable bed covered in the finest of silk sheets, champagne on ice and rose petals decorating the mattress. He wanted to treat her like a queen, make her feel special and warm and safe, show her she meant more to him than what she gave herself credit for.

That’s what Cordelia should have had on her first time, a feeling that told her she was special, of love and not what she got. He would give her that, one day soon, Angel decided firmly, he’d give her the world if he could. A small grin flirted over his mouth, he’d give her blue boxes for the rest of her life if it would make her happy but somehow he doubted that it would. So many people only saw what she allowed them to see, a selfish, superficial girl who thought nothing of others before herself but he knew her better than anyone.

Angel knew she just wanted to be happy in life, yes Cordelia may love the little present now and then but she also wanted to feel like she meant something to someone. Presents, gifts and whatnot just wouldn’t cut it with her, not the person she had become anyway. Angel was sure if he went home with a gift for her, she’d want to know why. Maybe he would get her something, just because he wanted too but the truth was he wouldn’t have a clue where to start. What did you get the girl who had everything once upon a time?

The vampire wondered if his seer had indeed ever been given a blue box, he wondered what she would do and say of he got her a blue box. Angel wondered how much something in a blue box was. Glancing at his watch “8 pm” Angel muttered, wondering if Tiffany’s would still be open this time of night.

Of course it would, this is Los Angeles, what wasn’t open at 8 pm? The next thing he glanced at was the wallet pulled from the inside pocket on his leather jacket, once he looked inside and winced, the vampire glanced back up at the hotel. The Hilton Metropol was artistically displayed in bright lettering that stood out against the evening sky, making it an instant attraction for everyone to look at.

The entrance was surrounded by palm trees, giving a very exotic feel to the building, it was easily 20-30 stories high and the rooms at the top would no doubt be expensive, but the view would be worth it. Thinking of views made him remember how much Darla, his sire, had loved a good view and when the sun had gone down, the view from her apartment was the first thing Cordelia had pointed out to him. Of course that was after he had been firmly instructed not to do anything to Dennis’ wall.

Making a decision, Angel stepped out of his convertible fully intent on going inside the hotel to check if it was what he wanted. He knew it could possibly be a bad idea on his part to presume Cordelia would want to make love with him, but this was something he couldn’t let go of. Not that he wanted to make love with her out of pity or use her for his own sexual needs, Angel just wanted her to give him a chance to prove how much he cared for and, dare he think it, love her?

His footsteps were usually silent as Angel entered through the glass doors, taking care not to let them slam behind him. The vampire felt incredibly out of his depth as he found himself suddenly surrounded by all kinds of people.

Men, women and children were flittering back and forth in the grand lobby, all going about their own business. Some were probably on holiday, some were on business and some were probably just here to use the hotel’s leisure facilities.

No sooner had the vampire realized how many people there were then his bloodlust began to stir, making him cringe inwardly and he wanted to run and hide, keep these strangers safe from himself. The strangers in the hotel kept looking at him like he was an alien, making paranoia a loud emotion within Angel. His blackening gaze darted this way and that, subconsciously looking for a shadowy corner to hide in until everyone had gone.

A breathless gasp left his suddenly parted mouth when Angel realized he was standing directly in front of a large mirror, the black gaze formerly flitting all over became wide and he cursed his careless behaviour. Swiftly moving from his current standing place, the vampire bumped into a short man with a rounded face and glasses.

“Good evening sir” the round-faced man spoke with seemingly forced politeness that the vampire could understand, “What can I do for you?”

Reminding himself he was hear for Cordelia, the elder man took a deep breath that did nothing to calm the bloodlust screaming inside. Luckily for the hotel worker, the years of practice had a good effect and Angel was able to control it. “Good evening” he replied somewhat stiffly, “I need to book a room, who can I speak to?”

“You must excuse if I seem a little ragged sir, we have been very busy all day” the smaller man replied genuinely, “If you would like to come with me”

Angel looked all over the lavishly but tastefully decorated lobby, right from the comfortable looking sofas down to the flowering potted plants. Patterned marble was the flooring material, it looked in pristine condition despite how many people walked over it every day.

The ceiling was high, arched and paintings of cherubs in three colours of gold stood out against the picturesque background. A chandelier dropped down from the peak of the arc, lighting the lobby area with a warm, softly glowing light that didn’t hurt his eyes.

Cordelia would be enamoured with the structure of this building, Angel knew that for a fact and he would love to see her face when she saw this. He could imagine the way those hazel irises would light up and sparkle, that warm mouth would part as she drew in a breath of admiration and she would look at every little aspect and take it all in. So far, this hotel was perfect.

“Sir? Sir?” the other man brought Angel out of his thoughts, looking up at the dark haired man, the hotel worker smiled knowingly. “It is beautiful isn’t it? My wife loves to come and watch the fountains in the rear courtyard” a wistful smile spread across the younger man’s face as his gaze grew dreamy. “This is the main reception office, I will pass you over and they will take care of whatever your needs are. Good evening sir, I do hope you find the hotel right for you”

“I think it is” Angel smiled down at him, “Thank you, I’ll make sure to tell my lady about the fountains”

“Make sure you do, it is guaranteed to get your lady in the mood for romance” with a little smile, the man left Angel to the services of the receptionists.

Turning around, the vampire once again studied the décor in the lobby with an approving gaze and artistic view. He might draw this place, as a memory for him to remember the place where he first made love to Cordelia. Not that he would ever forget but it would still be nice to see it down on paper.

“Excuse me sir?” a light, breezy female voice made him turn back round to face the receptionist, “I’m Fiona, what can I do for you this evening?”

Angel shuffled on his feet for a few moments, wondering how he could get what he wanted without letting go of the privacy. “I have a special occasion with my girlfriend, I’d like something a little bit special with a view…”

The receptionist beamed, she had just the thing.


…THE END…


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