|Kissing, Mmm Kissing
Rating: PG 13
Summary: Just what the title says. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, or an educated Watcher, to get that one.
Spoilers: Absolutely none. But it does take place anytime after Wesley got shot. But Angel's still the boss! Oh. And Wesley's still dating Virginia.
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but the story is!
Distribute: You have my permission to post this wherever you'd like.
It was nearly ten o'clock.
"This is a wild goose chase," Angel said tiredly. "I've been up all day working on this, and nothing's come up."
"Maybe we're just not looking hard enough," Cordelia muttered, rummaging through a crate marked 'Lucky Wok Fortune Cookies'.
"No, I think whoever this demon is, is long gone."
"You think?" Cordelia said hopefully. She pushed back a stray strand of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear and exhaled a slow breath. "Ok, I'm really tired and I want to go home."
"Yeah, me too."
"Yeah, lets go."
"Sounds good to me!"
Cordelia gladly followed Angel towards the door that opened up to the restaurant. The little kitchen of The Lucky Wok Chinese Restaurant was greasy and dirty, and Cordelia looked around disgustedly.
"Remind me NEVER to eat here again."
Angel glanced at the sticky floor. "No problem."
"Guys," Wesley said, bounding through the swinging kitchen door and almost knocking into Angel. "Sorry..." He said apologetically. Angel shook his head and waived it off.
"Don't worry about it...find anything?"
"NO." Angel and Cordelia said in unison.
"Oh..." Wesley looked at his watch and raised his brow at the time. "I'm late. Virginia will have my head if I don't get there soon..." He looked at Angel hopefully. Angel gave him a slight, tired frown and shrugged.
"We're calling it a night. Go on. Get out of here,"
Wesley started to oblige when a sudden clanging came from somewhere deep in the kitchen.
The three spun around and listened silently.
After a moment Angel said, "Better check it out."
"No!" Cordelia whined. "It's probably just a rat, or a giant roach, or...or..." She cringed, a slight shiver running up her spine. "Something as equally icky!"
"Or it could be a Spontoon demon," Wesley sighed. "Oh, Virginia's going to have my head!"
"Nah, Wesley, go on." Angel took a step back in the direction from which the sound had come. A slow frown was making its way across his features, but he grit his teeth. "I can handle it on my own...go on. Go to your dinner party."
"Thanks," Wesley said in relief. "I owe you one. If I leave now, I might just make it for desert,"
"Since you owe me one," Angel added, eyes glued to the back of the kitchen. "Can you drop Cordy at home?"
"Oh," Wesley started, less than enthusiastically. "Um...sure."
Angel didn't answer; he crept quietly down the aisle back towards the freezer.
Cordelia turned towards Wesley.
"Go on, have fun."
"Are you sure?"
"YES. Now get out, go, before I change my mind."
He glanced back; Angel had disappeared into the shadows at the back of the room.
"Thank you. I'm sure Virginia will thank you also..."
Cordelia smiled sweetly. "Sure! But HEY! Now you owe me one! So call Gunn," Cordelia took her cell phone out of her purse and handed it to Wes. "...and tell him to forget about stopping by. I know I need some sleep, and I think Angel's going to hit the hay...er, grave, early, so give Gunn the word, and tell him to take the night off. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out."
"Will do." Wesley smiled, quickly grabbing her and giving her a nice, appreciative squeeze. Cordelia squeaked. He released her and turned to go. "Goodbye!"
In a run he was off, and Cordelia curiously watched the door.
It nearly got him.
She grinned to herself, but quickly retracted it and rolled her eyes.
"Geez!" Cordelia huffed. "Hurry much?" She folded her arms insecurely then turned around in the suddenly silent space. She took a second to survey her...yep, it was icky... surroundings. The rest of the restaurant was, pardon the expression, dead, having to have closed early that night, what with the demon issues and all. And so, besides the also dead Vampire at the back of the room, and the probably very much alive, oh that's not a good thing, rats and giant cockroaches, Cordelia Chase was all alone.
The bare bulbs that hung from the ceiling cast an unholy light over everything, making it look dingier than it already was. The sinks and stoves were dirty and stained, the walls were yellow and the paint cracked, grease stuck in a congealed film on practically everything with a metal edge, and the bare white lights emphasized it all ten fold. And Cordelia bet her skin didn't look good in here. That, more than anything, bothered her to the point of psychosomatic hyperventilation and as she took out her compact and frantically checked her worried appearance, she started to notice the eerie shadows casting out in all directions; hiding corners of the dark kitchen, and possibly, hiding things in those dark corners.
Cordelia quickly became very nervous...
"Angel?" She called out in a dry whisper. No answer. "Angel???" Louder. She glanced behind her quickly and then started to move forward, her heels clicking lightly on the hard, concrete floor.
It sure was a long walk back.
Cordelia started to walk faster. By the time she had reached the freezer she was near running; her purse swinging over her shoulder, and her sweater dangling from her arm.
"Angel!" She hissed. "Angel! ...where the hell are you!"
"I'm back here," His voice confirmed. She stepped around a corner and found the freezer door wide open. Angel had gone inside.
"Did you find anything?" She questioned hopefully...hopeful that he hadn't, and they in fact, could now head home.
"I thought I saw something duck in here," He whispered.
Cordelia grew silent and watched cautiously as Angel stepped around large slabs of meat hanging silently from hooks overhead. The only sounds were Angel's boot soles squeaking against the cold floor as he stepped, and the soft whir of the freezer fan in the background. One step and then another.
Cordelia was holding her breath.
Angel froze when he noticed a side of pork swinging ever so slightly in the otherwise still space. He motioned silently with his hand for Cordelia to stay back. Cordelia was more than happy to oblige. Angel disappeared into the darkness through the rows of meat, and then again, silence.
Cordelia leaned forward, straining to hear or see anything in the cold, dark room, but it was impossible. Angel had his vamp-o-vision, Cordelia didn't have squat. She gave up looking, and tried just listening. But no sound emanated from within.
It all started to worry her.
She bit her lip and took one small step forward. Was that something moving around inside, or just the sound of blood in her ears? As she finally took a breath, she thought she heard something move, and still not sure, took another step forward. Then she heard a loud thunk.
Cordelia stepped into a cold, thin chain hanging from the ceiling, and realizing it went to a light above, pulled it down. A bulb flickered on, and though it didn't reach back very far, it was enough to see Angel lying on the ground, body face up and cast in shadow.
"OH MY GOD! ANGEL!" She ran through the meat to him and finding he wasn't unconscious or torn into a million pieces, reached down to help him up. "Geez! What happened?"
He looked up at her disgustedly and dusted himself off. "I tripped."
Angel cocked his head to the side to read the box next to him. "Shrimp."
Cordelia looked down, and grimaced. "Ew, expired shrimp. AGAIN, Remind me NEVER to eat here again."
"There isn't anything here," Angel growled, rubbing his shin in resolve then standing back with a sigh. "Let's just go."
They turned to head back out when they heard a loud click.
"What was that?" Cordelia asked suspiciously. Angel gave her a look before rushing to the door. It was closed. ‘Oh, crap.' Cordelia mouthed as she stood by idly while Angel tried the handle. Sure enough, it was locked. Angel pushed on it a few times, kicking it hard when it wouldn't budge, then held out his hand in frustration.
"Cordy, Give me your phone."
"Uhh..." Cordelia laughed nervously turning away from the reformed blood-sucker.
"What?" He demanded.
"I gave it to Wesley when he left so he could call Gunn."
"Well, Gunn should be here any minute so..."
Another nervous giggle, and when he eyed her reluctantly, a groan. This time, she took a step back and looked to the floor, afraid to make eye contact just yet...
"What?" Angel growled impatiently.
"I, uh...hehe," She smiled innocently. "I told Wesley...well, I asked him..."
"Cordelia, get to the point!
"I told Wesley to call Gunn, and tell him not to bother coming by because we were heading home anyways!"
Angel's head slowly lifted as he stared at Cordelia in disbelief.
"CORDELIA!" He roared.
"I SAID I'M SORRY!!!"
Angel ran his hands through his hair and started to pace the floor. "Dammit, Cordelia! How stupid—"
"How was I supposed to know we'd need him to show up after all!"
"Why on earth—"
"GEEZ! It was a mistake, that's all! It's not a big deal!"
"Not a big—God, Cordelia! We're stuck in here, until someone comes to get us! Until morning! I'M STUCK IN HERE WITH YOU UNTIL MORNING!"
"MORE LIKE I'M STUCK WITH...oh my god! We ARE totally stuck!"
The severity of the conclusion hit her, and she flew to the door, kicking it and beating it with her hand.
"HELLO? HELLO??? IS ANYONE THERE??? SOMEONE LET US OUT! PLEEEEASE, SOMEONE LET US OUT!"
"Its pointless, Cordy. Everyone's gone."
"No! No, no, no!" She whined. She gave the door one last good kick then winced in pain, hopping around on one foot. "OW!"
"Don't hurt yourself," Angel scolded, not the slightest hint of amusement anywhere in his voice. He walked around in a circle examining the walls of their prison...there had to be some way out...
"Damn shoes," Cordelia muttered looking down at her hard-soled Dolce And Gabbanas. They looked great on, and very expensive. But they weren't very good for much else; especially kicking down doors. Hell, even walking in them sometimes kinda hurt...but if asked, she'd never admit it.
"Angel, can't you just use your special vampire powers to get us out of here or something?"
"Oh, yeah," Angel said dryly. "Let me use my special laser vision. Or, I know! I'll just teleport us out of here using the power of my mind! Gee, Cordy, I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner." Angel rolled his eyes and looked away.
"Don't be snide, mister!" Cordelia huffed, starting to pace the floor like a caged cat." I don't need your sarcasm right now...and besides, the wisecracks are my territory!"
"Sorry, excuse me," Angel replied, scathingling.
Cordelia winced, though the pain in her toe was subsiding. She was more worried about the door and so had nearly forgotten about it. She walked to and fro, racking her brain for ideas, though nothing sensible came to her.
When you can't think, do the next best thing, blame someone.
She shook her fist at Angel and let out a hiss.
"This is serious. Can't you just bust down the door or something? You do it all the time with wooden doors."
"In case you haven't noticed, this door isn't wood. It's reinforced, insulated steel."
"So...break the lock!"
"The locking mechanisms are on the outside. There's no way I can do anything to get us out of here. We're stuck until morning, or, until someone comes and lets us out."
Cordelia stared at the ground, falling into a daze. She circled the floor helplessly.
"Trapped." She murmured. "Like rats...EW! OhMyGod! THERE AREN'T ANY RATS IN HERE, ARE THERE???" She hastily searched the ground around her feet and took a step backwards towards the protective area known as ‘Angel's space'. Rats...ew. This would so not be fun if there were any rats in here!
"No," Angel said calmly, finally taking a seat on a large box. "No rats. Not live ones anyway...they couldn't live in this temperature."
Cordelia almost smiled, but cocked her head as she slowly spun around to stare at him.
"And just what temperature is THIS?" She demanded. Angel shrugged nonchalantly.
"I don't know, probably about 10 below when the fans kick on..."
Now Cordelia was the one to stare in disbelief.
"ANGEL!" She screeched.
"WHAT???" He asked dumbly.
"HELLO!!!" She exclaimed, panic building up on her features. "In case you haven't noticed...I am not DRESSED for the NORTH POLE!"
Angel's eyes rose to take a good look at her for once; now standing before him; scantily clad in a pale, frilly, knee-length summer skirt, a little purple, and awfully cute, spaghetti strapped tank top, and designer four inch heels, just perfect for dancing in, or breaking your neck as you attempted to dance, with only a delicate cashmere cardigan draped most casually over her arm.
She'd already begun to get goose bumps. Angel did a double take, eyes widening.
"Oh crap is right!" She hissed. "Oh my god, I am going to freeze to death!" Cordelia began to shiver considerably. She tugged on her thin cashmere sweater and started to pace.
"No, you're not going to freeze to death," Angel swore, getting up and again examining the room for a possible way out...or at best, a way to remedy the immediate dire situation. The wheels in his head had already begun to spin...
"Easy for you to say!" Cordelia went on. "You don't mind the cold! But I'm a warm-blooded all-American girl! And I need heat!" Cordelia's voice trembled as if she were about to cry.
Angel took off his long, leather coat and gave it to her, and she took it without hesitation. Once on, although it was vaguely warmer than without it, the protective leather did nothing to calm her nerves, and she imagined her feet were starting to feel like blocks of ice. Whether she was starting to shake because the cold had finally reached her bones, or she was starting to shake because of the thought of the cold finally reaching her bones, she was right to be scared.
Just then, a loud whirring noise started up, and several drafts of cold air hit them from all angles. Cordelia jumped. Angel looked up to the walls.
‘Those must be the fans,' Cordelia thought. "Angel?" She cringed helplessly.
He took one look at her and decided on a plan. He walked the perimeter of the front of the freezer and found what he'd been looking for: a long, curved meat hook. He went along the walls, and one by one, smashed the small, built in fans. They spit and sparked as the hook smashed into them again and again, slowly but surely stopping them, and reducing the cold air flow effectively.
Steel on whirring steel... It was a horrible noise, and Cordelia covered her ears.
When he was done, Angel dropped the bent hook with exasperation and came back to where Cordelia stood.
"That should keep it from going below freezing...but we'll still have to keep you warm."
"But the fans," she mumbled questioningly.
"There's a main fan in the back that's constantly running." Angel explained. "It's inside the wall behind a steel grate. I wouldn't be able to get to it. So it's still going to be really cold."
By now, she was truly shivering, goose bumps running up and down her skin, and her teeth chattering slightly with each cold breath she took. Another horrible thought invaded her mind and she reached out and clutched Angel's sleeve. "I wont suffocate, will I?"
"No." Angel promised. Cordelia felt a little better. "That's one good thing about the fan...it circulates air from outside. So you should be fine, in that aspect."
"Angel..." Cordelia sighed in a frightened little girl voice. "I'm sorry I gave Wesley the phone..." Her face started to crumble. "I'm cold! I don't want to be here!" When she started to sniffle, Angel felt bad. Girls crying...what could he do? He was a sucker. He took a step towards her and opened his arms.
"I don't want to be stuck in here all night!" She heaved.
"I know," He sighed, pulling her against him. "It's okay, I wont let anything happen to you." He let her lean her face against his chest and he tucked his chin against her forehead. She took a deep breath and forgot about her tears. If there was one thing Cordelia Chase knew, it was that crying never solved anything...
She grimaced then, finding something suddenly disturbing. Cordelia pulled away and looked up at him.
"You're cold." She stated, touching his shoulder through his black sweater, grimacing more. "Angel... It feels like frozen meat under there."
"I can handle it," He said easily.
"Yeah! But if you're cold, DUH! No body heat, then WHO'S GOING TO KEEP ME WARM???"
Angel was quiet.
She had a point.
"I'm screwed!" She cried out. She did start to cry then, and dramatically, taking deep breaths of air and then sobbing them out. Angel tried to make her stop.
"Cordelia! Look at me! Stop it!" He shook her slightly, but she shook her head.
"I'm going to probably die in here!" She yelped.
"No, you're not going to die,"
"And tomorrow morning, when they open the door, they're going to find you sitting there, a little frosty, but otherwise fine, and me! Frozen like a Popsicle! Oh my god! It'll be like that episode of I Love Lucy! Except no Fred to start the furnace!!!" She started bawling again and came back into Angel's arms. He patted her back, rocking her softly.
"It's not going to be like I Love Lucy," He promised, trying to hush her. "We're more sufficient than that...I would hope... We've got all kinds of stuff in here to get us through the night."
"Like, what? Expired shrimp!" Cordelia pulled away and wiped her nose. The tears on her face were drying in the cold. She assumed that if she didn't stop crying pretty soon, she'd have icicles on her face.
She stopped crying.
"No..." Angel said, looking around for something to back up his claim. He spotted the perfect thing. "Look..." He let go of Cordelia and walked over to a lump of hanging meat. It was sheathed in a long plastic wrap. "We can use this like a blanket."
"Ew. I am NOT putting that thing over my body," She shivered. She crossed her hands over her chest defiantly and started hopping up and down to warm herself up. "Its covered in icky meat stuff, and it'll get my clothes all messed up!"
"Cordy, you'll be warm."
"Look. You can keep warm, or die of hypothermia and when they open up the door tomorrow, you'll already be dressed for your funeral."
It didn't take much to make a decision after that. She came up next to him, gripping the plastic, and struggled to pull.
"Here," He said, moving her aside and yanking it hard. In one swift move, it was off the meat and on the floor, ready to be used as a makeshift sleeping bag. Cordelia gripped it to her happily. Maybe she wouldn't end up a frozen pea after all...
Angel went over to a pile of empty boxes and started breaking them apart and laying them out on the floor against the wall.
"We might as well get some rest," He said. "We've got a while before morning."
"What're those for?" She asked, eyeing the dirty cardboard boxes.
"To sit on...duh."
Great, now he was mocking her. Cordelia frowned. "What a waste of a Saturday night."
Angel put the finishing touches on the cardboard pallet. It didn't look that impressive, but it looked a lot more comfortable than the bare concrete floor. Angel sat down and motioned Cordelia to sit next to him. Cordelia joined him, and both leaned back against the wall, Cordelia pulling the plastic sheet around her.
"Cozy, huh?" Angel tried.
"Yeah, sure." Cordelia said blandly.
It was going to be a long night...
An hour later:
"Angel, I can't sleep."
Angel glanced over at the frustrated and tired girl. She sat leaning against his shoulder, staring at her fingers, which were by now a nice pale shade of blue. She squeezed her hands together in a fist and blew on them.
"I can't sleep sitting up..."
"You can lay your head in my lap if you want," Angel offered.
"Nooo." She groaned, raising her head from his shoulder and sitting up straight. "Then I'll get a creak in my neck, and I'm still cold, and even though you're not much better than a lump of..." She eyed the hanging stock disparagingly. "...meat, I'd still rather sit together and try to at least imagine being warm."
"The plastic isn't helping?" Angel asked tiredly.
"It is." Cordelia sighed. "But I can't get comfortable in this position. My ass fell asleep and I haven't been able to feel it for what seems like days. I'm warmish, but..." She groaned. "...still miserable."
It was Angel's turn to sigh. He was good at waiting. Cordelia wasn't. He had a feeling that no matter what he did, it wouldn't be good enough; she was still going to complain and they'd never get any rest. He did feel sorry for her though. He wasn't as affected by the cold, but he still felt it. And it was cold in here.
He still didn't want to listen to her complain all night.
"Do you want to lay down?" He suggested.
"Could we?" Cordelia asked, looking over at him expectantly.
"Sure." He finally huffed.
Cordelia smiled and scooted over so he could stretch out, then she stretched out beside him. The floor was hard, and the cardboard left little padding, but at least they were stretched out. "Better?" He murmured.
"Yeah," She said. "I think the bloods starting to cycle through my body again. I should be able to feel my toes any minute."
"Are you all covered up?" He then asked, sitting up and making sure the plastic was spread over her entire body, minus head.
"Yeah, Angel, thanks."
Cordelia glanced away and smiled. He was being really nice. Nicer than she would've expected him to be in a predicament like this...after all, this could easily be misconstrued as her fault. Though Cordelia knew true and true it couldn't be. Nothing was ever her fault. Well, not much anyway...at least, nothing she would admit to.
Okay, so this was like 33% her fault, but it was still 66% accident. Don't ask about the other 1%...maybe that could be Angel's fault.
And still, he was being nice. And that made her feel better. She scooted towards him as he lay back down, and then to his surprise, she wrapped her arm around him and pulled him closer to her.
"Maybe if you get under too, I'll be warmer," She suggested. Confused, Angel stared at her.
Cordelia frowned. Maybe he'd gotten the wrong idea.
In truth, she wanted to be able to lay up against him because he was the softest thing in here. Maybe he'd let her use his arm as a pillow, and maybe he could keep her warmer. If she shared her body heat, he'd warm up, and if he warmed up, they'd both stay warm. Cordelia decided to ignore the slight embarrassment evident in his eyes and pushed a corner of her plastic cover towards him. After a moment, he reluctantly pulled it over himself.
‘What would Wes and Gunn say?' He thought, curling under the plastic and pressing himself to Cordelia. If he could have, Angel would've blushed.
Cordelia smiled, and unashamedly snuggled closer to his cool body. With each passing second, she could feel his body temperature rising to match hers. Finally Cordelia could congratulate herself on having a good idea.
"Angel?" She murmured.
"Can I...borrow your arm?"
He was silent for a moment. "Fine." He finally groaned, knowing exactly what she wanted out of him.
She lifted her head slightly and he slid his arm beneath it. Cordelia pressed even closer to him, letting her outer arm fall across his chest. Angel settled in acceptance.
Pillow. Fine. It wasn't the worst title he would deal with.
She was still wearing his coat, and between the leather, the plastic, and him, she Cordelia now could honestly say she was at least minimally comfortable. Angel rested his free hand behind his own head and stared at the ceiling in silence.
To his dismay, Cordelia started talking chattily. Angel rolled his eyes.
"At least its not dark in here," She quipped, glancing up at the bulb overhead.
"Yeah, I guess."
"The light makes me feel...I don't know...safer? Hey. This is weird. We're sleeping together."
"We are NOT sleeping together,"
"Well, not sleeping...as in the big "O", but ‘sleeping'...like, I'm laying next to you, and you're laying next to me."
"We're not sleeping yet," Angel said sternly. "You're talking and I'm waiting for you to stop talking,"
"Don't you think its weird though? I mean, boy, if I'd have known I'd have ended up here, well, I wouldn't have ended up here."
"No way. No how. Would've DEFINITELY ended up somewhere else."
"If I had my pick, I'd be at home in bed,"
"And you'd be in bed too, yours though, not mine, duh!"
"And by the way. I forgot to say, ‘thanks'...for giving me your coat, I mean."
"And for making at least an effort to make me feel better,"
She snuggled further into him, quite pleased with how she was making out.
"And thanks for not totally getting mad at me for not having my phone, cause if it were the other way around—"
"Cordelia?" Angel said, turning his chin down to face her and finally getting her attention. She watched him expectantly.
"Not a good idea to bring it up just now,"
"Oh. Sure. Of course! Sorry." Cordelia recoiled slightly.
"That's okay..." He sighed, looking back to the ceiling. "Now, lets get some sleep."
Angel closed his eyes, and felt Cordelia finally start to relax beside him. Angel pulled her close again. This wasn't as bad as he'd feared; her body moved with her breath, and Angel found himself counting her breaths; inhale...exhale...inhale...exhale...inhale...exhale...
Twenty minutes later, Angel had finally dozed off. Cordelia lay with her cheek pressed against the side of his chest, his arm wrapped around her protectively, as she stared up at the bare bulb hanging above them.
She silently counted sheep...or actually, she counted imaginary shoes. She listened to an imaginary hum stuck in her head, of some childhood song that maybe her mother used to sing, or didn't.
Mrs. Chase wasn't exactly the singing type after all...
Either way, Cordelia stared up at the light, glad it was there, knowing that as long as it was there, she'd feel better. The light definitely made her feel better... Well, that and Angel. She knew she'd be okay with Angel. But the light just made being stuck in the scary, cold place so much more bearable. Even in the midst of frostiness, its glow somehow shed some warmth.
Her eyes had just started to feel lazy when the light bulb flickered. Cordelia sat up with a start, and the light went out, permanently.
"No!" She whispered, glancing back and forth. It was pitch black and she couldn't see a thing. "ANGEL!" She shrieked. Angel sat up with a start.
"WHAT?" He retorted, slow to recover his still-sleeping senses.
"The light!" She said frantically. "The light!"
"What about the light?"
"It's off! It burnt out!"
"SO! I can't see squat! I can't see my hand in front of my face! That sorta scares me, doesn't it scare you?"
"What do you mean..."
"I can see. Cordy, I can see your hand and it's still there."
"Well, duh! Of course it's still there!"
"Cordy! Quit fiddling around, and get some sleep!" He lay back down.
"I'm not ‘fiddling' around," Cordelia heaved. "I'm just...I don't really want to sit in the dark, is all!"
"So don't sit, SLEEP."
"I can't sleep!"
"Because it's too dark!"
"You sleep in the dark all the time!"
"But not in some dark, musty freezer, and not with you!"
Angel growled and sat up again. Even now, she wouldn't shut up. He looked at her, and frowned. She sat, eyes blinking in total darkness. She truly couldn't see a thing, and feeling blind, she looked sort of...lost. How is it that no matter how annoying she was being, she always had a way to make him not stay mad at her?
"Cordelia," He surrendered, and reached out to her. She flinched at the first touch of his cool fingers against her neck, but then realized it was him. Angel's lips curved slightly, but Cordelia continued to stare into nothingness. Angel rubbed her shoulder. "Come on, it's okay. I'm right here." He saw her relax a little. "Come on," He said again. He tugged at her sleeve.
To his relief, she lay back down. He lay back also, and again, gave her his arm as a pillow. She cuddled closely to him, completely wide-awake, but stayed quiet. After a few moments, Angel said, "I know you're not asleep."
"And just how do you know?"
"I can hear your heartbeat. It's too fast for you to be asleep."
"Since you can't sleep, what do you suggest we do?"
"We could talk..."
"Of course. Great." His voice had come out just a tad bit droller than he'd meant it to. Cordelia immediately scowled.
"OH NEVERMIND!" She said in a huff, and twisted away so as not to face him. She didn't have to give him the satisfaction of annoying her, but she still pressed her back up against him. He was too warm not too.
"I'm sorry I bothered you. Just go back to sleep! I'll be fine...alone...awake in the dark..."
"I wont be able to sleep until you do, so if you want to talk, just talk."
"I don't want to BOTHER you..."
"You're not bothering me...come on."
"Cordy, come on. When else do you think you're going to have my full and complete attention for a minimal six hours? I'm all yours...go ahead. Let's talk. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I LOVE to hear you talk. Please, Cordy? Talk? For me?"
Okay, now he was just laying it on thick. Cordelia fell silent, then slowly turned back to face him. Even though she couldn't see him, she looked up at where she thought his face would be and gave him a small smile. Angel smiled to himself and she settled back, but not without a quick shove to his ribs. It was a small warning, and he took it seriously.
"So what do you want to talk about?" He asked.
"Tell me a story." She said.
"Yeah, why not! I'm sure you've got plenty to tell, and we're not going anywhere for a while...what better way to put me to sleep than to hear one of your boring stories..."
"I didn't mean it that way, exactly...come on, Angel! Just tell me a story."
"What do you want to hear?"
"Well, not The Three Little Pigs," She sighed. "Something old...something from back before...before I was born, maybe...or even before the twentieth century. I'm sure you've got a lot of old tales to tell. Just pick one."
"Where do I begin?"
Angel's old stories led to less sleeping, and more laughing, mostly by Cordelia and at his expense.
"Oh my god! You did NOT do that!"
"Yes, I did," Angel said.
"Oh my god...no, you didn't!"
Cordelia laughed harder.
"Mexico in the 20's...the only place to get a decent drink during the Abolition."
"I still can't believe you got that drunk!"
"At least it wasn't daylight yet."
"Yeah, no kidding. If it were, you wouldn't be here..."
"Yeah, no kidding..."
"And at least you found where you'd left your pants."
"Lucky for me... I don't think I could've faced Boone without them."
"God, Angel," Cordelia giggled. "I never knew you were so...so..."
"I was going for free spirited."
"Well, if you want to call it that, I guess."
"Yeah, that's what I want to call it! The only Angel I've ever known was the broody one. Anything different can only be labeled as ‘free spirited'. Brood, brood, brood...that's all you've done in the last, oh, DECADE! Of course, I bet it's all that blonde's fault..."
"Oh. Yeah. I guess I have been kinda broody since her,"
"KINDA? No, VERY."
"But, I really can't blame it all on her,"
"Oh, sure you can!"
"No, I had guilt issues way before she came along."
"But at least you still knew how to let loose once in a while..."
"That summer in Juarez was the first time I'd let loose since the curse." Angel said.
"Oh. Well, every once in fifty years shouldn't hurt that much..." Cordelia snorted.
"But it's been over seventy years now."
"Then maybe its time to let loose again,"
"I thought this was letting loose,"
"Then you are a sad, sad man."
Angel let a small chuckle escape him. Sure, she was picking on him, but it was better than the complaining.
Cordelia sighed, liking the way the conversation had headed; away from the fact that it was her fault that they were locked in here and more along the lines of actual bonding! She was enjoying the way Angel was letting her in. And she especially reveled in the surprising ease that came with it. She could talk like this all night...regardless of the fact that she'd started to yawn twenty minuets ago, and couldn't stop for the life of her.
"God, Angel!" She said with a roll of her eyes. Another yawn. "There's so much to live for...in your...‘un-life'..." Cordelia stretched, inadvertently pressing closer. "You've had so much time...more time than anyone could ever have hoped for, and you've had so many opportunities to see so many things... I'm surprised you haven't done more!"
"Yeah, between the battle of Good and Evil, and trying to atone for my past in order to get my humanity back, yeah, I've had lots of free time to do recreational things,"
"You know what I mean!"
"Think about it!" She said, raising her head and pulling herself up to rest her chin on his shoulder. "You've had centuries to see the world. You've been all over Europe; you came to America when it was still new... You saw World Wars pass, and not to mention, you've lived through every fashion scene since, like, the dawn of taste!"
"Cordy...you forget." Angel sighed, rubbing her shoulder absentmindedly. "When I saw Europe, I was leading a massacre. And I only came to America because...well, Ireland was...home...it...there was nothing left for me to go back to because I... Well...you know...I had no one,"
Cordelia closed her eyes and pressed her cheek into his arm. "I know, you murdered your family," She said lazily. "But look, you're making up for it. Don't feel so bad."
Angel was silent.
"Shit!" Cordelia gasped, suddenly coming alive. "I'm sorry! That was a terrible thing to say,"
"No, its not. I've got a big mouth, and I just didn't think. I'm sorry."
"Yeah, you do have a big mouth, and stop swearing."
"I'm sorry, Angel. I really am. I am SO sorry I said that,"
"No! I swear...I am so sorry."
"I know you are."
"Seriously. I'm sorry I said it, Angel."
"But I'm sorrier I did it, Cordelia."
Angel had gone stony. Cordelia sighed, pressing her face into his sweater. They'd never talked about this stuff before, not like this, and just when he was really opening up, she'd ruined it.
"Angel...I'm really sorry."
"Cordy, forget it. Let's talk about something else."
"But you were on a roll. And I want to hear more."
"I don't know if I can handle much more,"
"Ah, come on." She pleaded, tracing a finger absentmindedly over one of his shirt buttons. She was still kicking herself for saying that about his family. "Tell me another story Angel. I want to hear another."
"Well," He said thoughtfully, his limbs suddenly relaxing around her again. "Maybe I would rather hear about you."
"Um..." Cordelia thought hard.
"Tell me stories about you, Cordelia. Stuff that happened before you moved from Sunnydale."
"You knew me there...there's not much to tell."
"Oh, come on. I bet there's plenty of stuff you could tell me about. I really don't know a lot about your life before all of...well, this. In fact, I know nothing about your childhood."
"Angel, believe me. There is nothing special about my childhood."
"What about your family?"
Cordelia huffed. "Believe me when I say there is nothing special about my family."
"Come on, Cordy," Angel pressed. "Tell me what life was like growing up in Sunnydale...What the Chase family did for summer vacation, or for Thanksgiving, holidays, that sort of thing."
Cordelia was silent, thinking about her family; her old life in Sunnydale prior to the Scooby Gang; realizing what it was he was really asking of her, and she realized that she didn't really want him to know what things were like for her before. If she could help it, she'd leave her past in her past. What good could it do talking about it now?
Angel sensed her hesitation. "Come on, Cordy," He whispered. "You can tell me anything."
Maybe it was the ‘you can tell me anything line'. Maybe it was the guilt over making him share his past that made her decide to reveal. Or maybe it was the way his fingers traced circles over her shoulder as he held her in the dark.
"Sunnydale," Cordelia sighed with a roll of her eyes. She tugged at the sleeve of Angel's jacket, pulling it further over her wrist as she suddenly remembered the cold. "Um, well, let's see..." She took a deep breath and closing her eyes, plunged ahead. "Growing up in Sunnydale, I was neglected and ignored. Summer vacations were usually spent in your typical beach resort... Jamaica, The Bahamas, wherever. Mom would be off getting facials and massages and mud baths and getting drunk off of margaritas while Daddy played golf with potential clients or took off on his yacht for a few days or chased young girls in bikinis around the pool, and I'd spend the days typically alone, usually just blowing money like crazy in the shops. You know, Daddy was always quick to hand over the credit cards when there was mention of any sort of ‘quality family time'..." Cordelia frowned to herself. "And Thanksgiving. Ah, Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving, if they weren't on a ski trip to Switzerland, or jetting off somewhere else without me, Mom would have Anita...she was the maid...set the biggest, most impressive table she could. Then she'd invite all her snotty little friends from the Country Club over for cocktails. Dad would get drunk in his game room, and mom would get smashed on white wine... I'd end up eating alone in the kitchen, and then, after all the guests left, mom and dad would have an argument, or pass out in their separate rooms, and I would spend the evening helping Anita clean up. That was when I was five... When I was ten, Mom just quit trying all together... She and dad would leave for the weekend, and since Mom fired Anita the summer before, I was pretty much left alone in the house, watching TV and eating leftover cold-cuts, or any other kind of remote meat product I could find in the fridge, pretending to have...god, I was pathetic," She laughed a little at this part. "I pretended to have Thanksgiving dinner with Raggedy Ann and Andy, Perfume Pretty Barbie, and the neighbors cat, which I am ashamed to say I had so unmercifully abducted out of the neighbors yard when they weren't looking because I craved companionship and couldn't bare to be completely alone... Oh, now! Thirteen! And this was a hoot...thirteen was a whole different story altogether..."
Angel stared at her in the darkness. Her voice was steady, but her features were beginning to crumble, as she let her true face show forgetting he could see her, and a look passed over her face that made him want to hold her. But then, he was already holding her. Angel, already wrapped tightly around her, held onto her until she was finished.
"Switzerland is over rated," He said finally, tilting his head towards her and pressing his lips to her forehead. Cordelia sank into him.
"Yeah, I guess it is, I'm sorry. I don't mean to throw my own pity party, I just got kind of carried away."
"Do you miss them?" He asked.
She paused slightly, pursing her lips. "Do you miss yours?"
"Sometimes...but usually I can't remember what they look like, its been so long."
"Yeah...I miss mine."
"I'm sorry things were so rough."
"Don't pity me," Cordelia smiled slightly, making the serene attempt to shrug off her feelings of resentment. "I can pity myself on my own just fine. I don't need any additional help,"
"I didn't say I pity you...Empathize; yes. Pity; no."
"And besides, I don't need them. I've been just fine without them."
"But everyone needs someone."
"I've been better off without them."
"But Cordelia...everyone needs someone. It's not good to be alone."
"I'm not alone," She said defensively. "I have you." She bit her lip. "And Wes and Gunn and Phantom Dennis of course."
"Of course," Angel said. He then reached over and brushed a strand of hair back from her eyes. "And we have you. Which is a good thing, because if we didn't, who would handle all those invoices."
Cordelia beamed and hid a smile against his chest. She fidgeted, playing with the texture of his wool knit pullover as he added, "Besides, you're good for other things too, not just invoices,"
"This fits you really well," She mumbled, changing the subject. Angel's eyes moved down over his chest, and rested on her fingers.
"Of course you always look great in black,"
"It is sort of my color."
"I really like it though when you wear that blue shirt of yours...it looks really good, makes you look, I dunno, less ‘moody'." Cordelia sighed, letting her thoughts run out of her mouth unchecked.
"Thanks," Angel said awkwardly. "I'll wear it more often."
"It's a Donna Karan, right? I LOVE her stuff..."
"You have some of the best taste in clothes on a man I have ever seen."
"I mean it. Sometimes I see Wesley in these horrible striped shirts and I just want to...GRR." She made a gesture as if she were going to choke someone. "And GUNN! Sometimes his pants just hang so low!"
"They're guys," Angel mused. "And isn't that the style? Sagging pants?"
"Yeah, if you're an MTV VJ..." Cordelia grinned. "Or a gangster...Gunn's not exactly either."
"But he looks normal, not overly...saggy...or anything. He's a guy, he looks fine."
"You're pretty fine yourself,"
The pause made Cordelia quickly reiterate.
"I mean, you dress well. You look good...even for being two hundred and fifty." She raised a brow in the dark, not realizing he could see it, and blew out a quick breath. "Really good, Angel. You don't even know."
"Two hundred and forty-eight," He corrected her.
She smiled lazily, and rolled her eyes. "As if there's a difference,"
"There is! Two whole years,"
"You crack me up."
"You! Worried about your age! After all this time!"
Angel sighed. "I may be a vampire, but I'm still a man."
"Yeah!" She giggled. "You sure are! Boy, you sure are..."
"And what about you?" Angel inquired, turning the tables. "Look at you,"
She grew quiet. Now he had her attention. Angel grinned to himself.
"You walk around dressed like a supermodel, Cordelia...flaunting your looks and eating up the attention it gets you,"
"Oh! I do not!" She pushed down on his chest.
"Oh, yes, you do."
"I do NOT dress like a supermodel...I'm too poor to dress like a supermodel."
"But you dress nice. Admit it,"
"I dress thrifty okay, don't beat around the bush,"
"You don't look thrifty. You look...glamorous."
"Glamorous???" Cordelia smirked at him. "Me? Okay...sure..."
"Seriously. You're always dressed...like...nice. I can't even remember the last time I saw you in a pair of jeans."
"I wear jeans! All the time!"
Angel gave her a look. She couldn't see it, but she sure could sense it.
"Well...I wear jeans at home all the time!" She swore. "Ask Dennis! He'll tell you!"
"WELL, I DO!"
"Fine. I believe you," Angel said. Then added smugly. "I bet they're designer,"
"SO WHAT!" She said defensively.
"Designer jeans... Jeans are jeans! What's the difference!"
"JEANS ARE NOT JEANS!" Cordelia snapped. "I LOVE the way my Todd Oldhams fit...besides! What's wrong with designer??? I like to make a good impression! I can't help it if I like the finer things in life!"
"Designer jeans are NOT the finer things in life," Angel stated. "There are things much finer in life besides designer jeans...and regular jeans are just as good. Plus, they're cheaper."
"It's true!" He shot.
"As if you would know!" She shot back. "I've never seen you in jeans. Ever."
"Bell bottoms in the seventies don't count." She smirked, moving to lay on her back beside him. She was so involved in their discussion, she'd forgotten to be afraid of the dark.
"For your information, I never wore bell bottom jeans in the seventies!"
"Oh. Right. Just polyester suits,"
"I DIDN'T WEAR POLYESTER SUITS!"
"EVERYONE wore polyester suits," Cordelia said matter-of-factly. Angel couldn't retort. She had him there.
"I BET YOU WORE BROWN LEISURE SUITS!" She suddenly shrieked. "I saw Saturday Night Fever! I know what it was like! I can just see it!"
"I NEVER WORE BROWN!" Angel exclaimed.
"OH MY GOD!" Cordelia sniggered. "I bet you used to grease your hair all back and wear big, gold medallions! EW!"
"I did not!"
"And you went to discos to try to pick up hot chicks!"
"NO, I DIDN'T!"
"OH! You SOOO DID!"
"Cordy, I swear I didn't!"
"UH HUH! SURE! Whatever you say!"
Cordelia was rolling with laughter as she teased him mercilessly.
Angel felt himself growing flustered. He said nothing, but let Cordelia continue on in her reign of terror. He lay still, and would be blushing profusely if only he'd fed a little heavier earlier that night.
Cordelia continued. "And I bet you watched Shaft like every week! And all those weird old 70's shows...Oh! I could just imagine! The Mod Squad! Charlie's Angels! Laverne And Shirley!"
"I did not," Angel said now matter-of-factly. "And The Mod Squad was 60's, not 70's."
"Only you would know!"
He smiled despite himself. Cordelia kept laughing.
"I'm glad you are enjoying this," He said. This made her hysterical, and soon she was clutching her side in pain. "You're going to make yourself sick," He said dryly when it escalated. Angel felt his mouth widening into a grin as her brilliant, warm laughter rung out in the dark, enclosed space.
It was still a few minutes later before she could control herself to calm down.
When she was done, she rearranged her hair, and settled back into him, a little chuckle still held in her throat. Cordelia grinned from cheek to cheek, and Angel found it becoming. He sat and stared, admiring her smile in the dark.
"I think that's the most I've heard you laugh since we left Sunnydale." He commented.
"I think that's the most fun I've had since we left," She sighed. She quieted down, and another silence filled the air. "Angel?" She said finally.
"Remember when we stumbled into eachother that one night... I just wanted to say that I'm really glad I ran into you at that party. I mean, what were the odds that we, of all people, would run into eachother after...after...after all that's happened."
"I remember." He said.
"It was so strange how we ended up in the same city. I'll never forget how surprised I was..." Cordy sighed. "It's all so strange...how you found me there...How it all happened... Oh, and then Doyle. I mean, he'd found you. He was looking for you before you'd even arrived there, and you were supposed to meet him, he was meant to be your seer. But he kissed me, and so then I was your seer, and how I ended up in the equation, I will never understand. I'm restating the obvious here, but still..." Her eyes fell a little, and she tensed. "Angel...he was looking for you. I wasn't. Was it just a coincidence, or what?"
"We were meant to find eachother, I guess..." Angel murmured. "You, me, and Doyle, we were all meant to find eachother. If I've learned anything in my two hundred and fifty, er, two hundred and forty eight years of living, everything happens for a reason."
"I wanted to ask you something." Cordelia said quietly. Angel listened.
"Anything." He said.
"Doyle..." She said; all laughter having left her voice now. "He...he died." She went on, her words slower, not so rushed as they'd been a moment before. "I mean, when he died, and wasn't your seer anymore...Me. He passed his powers on to me. Was I meant to be it...the seer? Your seer? Was I in the books, or could it just have been some random person, the one to lead you down your path? Was it something I was chosen for, or just something that just happened to happen?"
"So am I going to lead you to victory, or what? And am I going to do a good job???"
"Will I even be alive when this big fight takes place?" Cordelia's fingers locked into the material of his sweater as her voice rose and quavered. Angel's brow furrowed as he listened to her go on. She was starting to sound thoroughly upset. "Or am I just a temporary replacement for the next seer? I mean, how long is this gonna take, Angel. How many seers are you going to have? Do you think when I die, I'll pass my powers on to someone else??? Or is all this going to blow over before the time I'm thirty??? Or what if it lasts longer than that, and I'm carrying these visions through my midlife crisis, and through...oh my god, menopause! Angel! Am I ever going to have a normal life? Or am I stuck with these damned visions forever! How old am I going to get while you stay young and fight! Am I going to start walking with a cane and peeing in a bucket before you even get close??? I don't want to be 90 years old and still having visions! And I don't want to be 90 while you still look 25! That more than anything scares the living crap out of me! I don't want to be old and decrepit while you're still young and able! And you're all I have! That means you'll be the one tucking me into bed at night, and putting my teeth in a jar besides my bed! EW! I don't want you to see me like that!!!" Cordelia looked thoroughly frightened. "Oh my god! You're going to have to plan my burial!"
"Cordy," Angel said, hugging her against him. "Hey, take it easy."
"Oh my god! How can you live like this! Seeing the people around you grow old! The people around you, die! How can the Powers do that to you! HOW CAN THEY DO THAT TO ME!!!"
"Cordy! Shh!" He held her close.
"I'm sorry!" Cordelia huffed, closing her eyes and leaning into him. "Angel, I'm sorry! It's stupid, I know! But, seriously, it's...it's...it's so out of control."
"I know, Cordy. I know it feels that way,"
"You're stuck with me, Angel. You're stuck with me, and I'm stuck like this! We've been predetermined...we have these predetermined paths, and I am a seer! I never would have thought... I don't know how long I can handle it! Oh, and you! You're a champion! You have to save the world! How can you handle that! Doesn't that ever wig you out?"
"It wigs me out all the time,"
"I never imagined... Did you? Angel, two hundred plus years ago, when you met Darla in that dark alley, did you ever have any idea of what kind of roll you would play? In history, in time I mean? In the fate of the world?"
"No. Not a clue."
"And me! Believe me when I say that back in Sunnydale, I had no idea that by sharing my book with the new, blonde girl in school that I was being drafted in the war for the world; good against evil...not that it's a bad thing. If I'm gonna take part in it, I definitely want to be on the good side! I'm just, I mean, I guess that after all...through Buffy, through Xander, through many various injuries and faces of death...of all things, of all people, I just can't believe... God, Angel, you've become such a big part of my life. It's so bizarre that you and me were predetermined. I mean, two years ago you barely even noticed me, and now we're like family. It's just so weird. You. Me. Wes. Gunn...So many things," She concluded. "So many things...little, big, scary, scarier...so many things, all leading up to one big event,"
"Getting stuck in a freezer is an event?" Angel asked. She smiled. Good. He'd lightened her mood.
"No, silly! I meant, the war between good and evil!"
"Oh. I knew that."
"I just can't believe it...Here we are, and I still can't believe it."
"I try not to think about it."
"You never think about it," Cordelia said. "Come on, admit it. You've been too busy doing your vampire thing to think about trivial stuff like the meaning of life,"
"You're right," He said. "I haven't really thought about it...not in that degree anyway. If I did, I might end up insane again. Like that time after escaping Hell? Sure don't want to do that again...I guess I've just been more focused on making the goal, then the reason for getting there. I mean, I was...is...was, a demon. That right there is enough to blow anyone's mind, once you stop and think about it."
"Tell me about it!" Cordelia huffed. "When I first saw you, I had no idea...and to think of how badly I wanted you..." She stopped then, slightly embarrassed.
Angel looked at her in the dark.
"You wanted me?"
"Don't act like you didn't know," She said defensively.
"I didn't," He said, hiding his smile. Not that she could have seen it anyways...
"Don't you smile at me!" She snapped. Angel gave her a funny look. "I can tell, I can feel you smiling...so stop it! And yes...I wanted you. Why else do you think I used to follow you around the Bronze trying to get your attention."
Angel smiled again, slightly amused and also slightly, no greatly, flattered at the idea. He thought briefly back to those days; how she would constantly approach him when he was alone...ask him to dance, sit with him a the bar, and never flinch away... Of course, she hadn't known what he was. She said it herself. Angel suddenly realized that she had had a crush on him. And this, more than anything, made him smile widely. The more he thought about it, the more he remembered. Something about salty goodness...? He'd heard it. He'd heard the comment. He just hadn't realized it came from Cordelia. He'd been too busy searching for Buffy, but now he recalled the exact words that had come out of her mouth, and it had been her voice alright.
"I had such a crush on you," She admitted. "But every time that little slayer walked in, I didn't even exist... That just made me want you more...until I found out the truth, I mean."
Now Angel was beaming, trying hard to withhold his laughter. That's all he needed to do was laugh now in front of her. It might crush her. Or offend her. Or piss her off. And Angel didn't want to do that. So instead, he apologized. It was what he was good at.
"Cordy, I'm sorry, I had no idea,"
"No," Angel interjected, so many memories of the past flooding back into his mind. "No one should want to have to go through that. I'm sorry I put her through it."
"What happened between me and Xander hurt enough...I couldn't imagine falling for you and then having what happened, happen."
Angel fell silent.
"No," Angel said soundly. "I'm fine. Things are fine. It happened, I've dealt with it."
"You really cared about her, I'm sorry I reminded you,"
"Don't be. She's moved on. So have I. So have you. What were we just saying...? That all of this has seemingly happened for a reason..."
"Everything that has happened has brought us here. I'm glad for that... Well, not the part about getting locked in the freezer, but you know,"
"Yeah," Cordelia said, smiling to herself. "I know. I'm glad I'm here in LA. But I am sorry I was such a bitch back in Sunnydale, and I'm sorry I didn't give you a chance just because you were a vampire."
"Cordy. I was...am...am still a vampire. You had a right to be afraid of me. In fact, you should still be afraid of me."
"What!!!" Cordelia exclaimed, sitting up and looking down at where he lay, but still not able to see in the dark. She frowned.
"You should still be afraid of me," He said.
"Because I'm still a demon."
"You're not a demon, Angel."
"Only because I have my soul."
"But I still have a lot of issues that are really...dangerous, especially for a woman, like yourself. You shouldn't be here with me."
"What?" Cordelia said absurdly. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. As long as there's no..." She felt her cheeks blush. "Sex—"
"You shouldn't even be working for me." Angel interrupted, not even acknowledging that she'd said the ‘S' word. Angel shook his head, suddenly suffering at the knowledge of what he was. He moved away from her, pushing the plastic aside and moving as if to get up. He did start to get up, but sensing his movement, Cordelia put a warm hand on his cool wrist and stopped him. He stayed sitting, but continued speaking caustically. "You really shouldn't even be in this line of business, you know. You shouldn't even know demons exist, You've seen...you know...things that happen around me. I'm surprised you're even still hanging around...you and Wes and Gunn... I'm a hazard. Not exactly a great guy to associate with,"
"Now who's having the pity party," Cordelia mumbled.
"In the last two years,Doyle died. You got those damned visions. And then ended up in the hospital. And then, when I wasn't there, when I was being selfish and stupid, Wesley...Wesley got shot!"
"Angel!" Cordelia said, suddenly realizing how serious their conversation had just turned by the sheer frustration and disgust in his voice. Angel pulled away from her. She heard him rustling slightly, shifting his weight to turn away from her, then he lay back down quietly. Cordelia reached out and nudged him. When he didn't respond, she nudged him harder. When he still didn't respond, she shoved him and said, "Angel! It wasn't your fault!"
"Cordelia...if I could take it all back, I would."
"I don't want you to take it back!"
"I would have never gone to Sunnydale." He said, sitting up again. "I would have never bothered Buffy and her friends, I'd have never bothered you,"
"Angel, stop it!"
"I've been witness to far too many things, too many awful things,"
"Even Gunn's sister..."
"That was NOT your fault! You weren't even there!"
"That's the problem, I wasn't there."
"Angel, if you hadn't come across Gunn, what happened to his sister would probably have happened to him. He has a chance now. Better than he ever had out on the street."
"Wesley would still have been a watcher...he still would have ended up watching Buffy and Faith. Faith! God! She still would have been crazy, and for all we know, Faith could have ended up killing him, regardless of how or why! Wes is still here, working for you, so apparently things are right!"
"And what about you?" He asked. He turned in the dark and stared at the girl. She couldn't see him, but she sensed him. And she frowned. Angel's gaze lingered on her down turned lips before he went on, slower, more carefully. "You would have been in college right now, planning out your life; making goals and looking forward to normal things...instead of fighting night after night, risking your life against monsters and evil, fighting the good fight." The last words came out forced; snipped.
"But it's who I am." She answered.
"But it's my fault you're this way. I don't like that."
"Well, I do! I'm happy with who I am!"
"But you shouldn't be...you should...well, you should have your innocence."
"Innocence is over rated," She said sternly.
Angel paused. Cordelia felt for his hand in the dark, finding it and squeezing it confidently.
"Angel, I'm right where I want to be, freezer aside. I'm with you, and I want to be here. Okay? So stop beating yourself up over it. After I'm long and dead, feel free to blame yourself for anything, but for now, while I'm still here. Be glad that you have a friend. FRIENDS. You have FRIENDS."
"How can you people stand to be near me after what I've done?"
"We love you, Angel. We always have."
"I don't deserve it."
"You deserve it. Trust me."
Cordelia listened, waiting for his response. She was surprised when he didn't say anything else. She took it as a cue that he was still questioning himself.
"Angel, I can't see you, but you'd better not be crying,"
"I'm not crying," He answered.
"Okay," She said, and then, again, waited. Nothing. "Well, what are you doing?"
"I'm staring at you."
"Why?" She asked, suddenly self-conscious.
"Because..." He started softly. "Because..."
And then she felt his arms wrapping around her and drawing her closer, gathering her to his chest.
"I haven't been this close to anyone in so long," He confided in a whisper. Cordelia nodded her head, rubbing her cheek against the soft fabric of his sweater where it pressed against his shoulder. "Not anyone, Cordy, especially not..." He rendered himself silent.
A moment passed.
She closed her eyes and breathed in the undeniable scent of him. He was calm now. She could feel the difference in his demeanor. She always could, though. He ran his hand down her back softly, closing his eyes as he pressed his face against the top of her hair. And then his other hand was cupping her face, and she could feel his lips brush lightly against her temple.
It was faint, but it was a kiss.
She lingered, before pushing herself closer, sliding her hands from his waist up his back. She felt the skin on the back of his neck, strangely hot against her fingers where they hesitated briefly before running up into his hair. He shuddered; her breath touching his skin as she turned her face up to meet his. He opened his eyes and looked at her. She looked back, unseeing yet completely trusting against the darkness, and feeling something within her swelling to consume him. She leaned forward, rubbing her face against his.
"Cordy...We can't..." He managed to say.
Cordelia ran her fingertips over his lips. "I'm not afraid of you, you know."
"I know that."
"Angel...I'm not afraid of you. I...I...in fact, I...trust you more than anyone,"
"You can, Angel,"
"Touch me," She breathed.
"Angel, touch me."
"If I fall for you now..."
"If you fall for me...I swear...I wont let you down."
"But I'd let you down."
"I wouldn't let you."
"You couldn't stop me."
"I wouldn't have to."
"I want this..." He sighed. "I really, really want this, but..."
"Then don't stop it."
He pressed his forehead against hers and held her hand to his chest, over the place where his heart sat silently.
"There's nothing in here," He said.
"There is. I know there is."
"You don't know."
"But it's something you can't have. I can't let you have it."
Cordelia pulled back, trying to pull her hand with her, but he held it firmly in place. She stopped, staring intently into the dark, wanting to see him, to see the look on this face, to see her hand on his chest, but she couldn't.
But she did feel him watching her.
"Don't look at me," She said. "I don't want you to see me. Close your eyes."
Angel said nothing, but did as she had asked. Cordelia held her hand against his chest, against his still heart, and waited. But there was nothing. No sound. No movement.
He was the undead.
"I get the point," She finally mustered, taking her hand back now as he finally allowed her to. She lay back against the cold, hard floor, turning away from him and hoping he hadn't been watching her or the looks of confliction and want and lust and fear passing over her face. ""We should get some sleep," Cordelia sighed, letting herself go, letting her tension go and resigning to the fact that she had just made a complete fool of herself. Had she really expected him to kiss her? Did she really think that he...that she...that they...had she really thought it a possibility?
But the moment she had lain down her head, he was turning her back to face him. And without so much as a sound he was on top of her...and running his hand over her hair...and touching her face tentatively...and he was kissing her; kissing her soft. And deep. And imploringly. And anxiously.
She felt herself slowly react from the lethargic state she'd suddenly been cast into when he'd first surprised her with the kiss. She exhaled slowly into his lips and suddenly they were running their hands up and down, and over and across, and around and below. And then their lips were biting and nipping and foraging, and eager. And her body came alive with impatience, and she felt herself press further into him. And he pressed back. And then she realized the sheer weight of him was upon her and he realized how perfectly she fit there beneath him as she curled up into him, clutching him and rubbing against him, and they were kissing, truly kissing, and their heads were spinning in confusion and amazement.
When he finally pulled away, she was breathless, and suddenly embarrassed he said,
"I don't know if it's you, or all the raw meat,"
She caught her breath, and found herself wanting more.
"Must be the meat,"
He rushed forward again and they clashed together. Minutes flew by as they swallowed one another in a dizzying spiral of kisses and gropes. Angel pulled back, their lips still interlocked, and she rose forward with him. He grasped her around the waist, turning over, falling on his back, and pulled her on top of him. She half straddled his waist, half way shrugging out of his long leatherjacket, one leg following the length of him, the other curled at his thigh. She let the full form of her body fall against him while her hands caught at his clothing. He rose up, his lips traveling to find the nape of her neck and then Angel began to kiss her again in such a way she thought she would melt. Shivers ran up her skin, and the heat seemed to collect just under the patch of skin caught in his kiss. Cordelia made up her mind right then and there that if he initiated it, she would sleep with him, Angelus placed dangerously aside.
His lips moved against her aggressively, but not that aggressively, and she sank against him when she realized he was so caught up in the kissing that he wasn't focusing on going any further. It was good; kissing was good. But she had to hold back when she felt her body naturally expecting more. She felt the sheer steel of muscle in his arms about her, and she moaned slightly when he started to suck faintly at the place below her ear. The fear of teeth never entered her mind; they were just kissing, making out actually, something Cordy hadn't done in a long, long time, and Angel even longer. She suddenly realized how junior high it all was and smiled.
She broke away when she felt a hickey starting to burn, and then decided to return the favor by locking her lips over his skin in the same place. Angel shuddered, bucking slightly but then gripped her harder against him. Apparently, whatever she was doing, he liked it.
They were interrupted by the sound of a lock clicking, and the darkness broke as a thin trail of light cut through from the doorway.
Breaking apart, Angel, already on his feet, had already moved to shield Cordelia, who although stunned, was quickly getting to her feet. Angel shoved her safely back towards the wall, and as his dizziness dissolved, and his fight kicked in, he became very aware of every movement and every sound within the small space and within the doorway before them; waiting and listening, and anticipating their attackers first move.
And then Gunn and Wesley stepped inside.
"There you are!" Wesley said. "We've been looking all over the place for you! Where's Cordelia?"
"Didn't you hear us calling you?" Gunn asked as the light from his flashlight bounced off the vampire's chest. He lowered it to the floor respectively.
"No," Angel answered truthfully. He looked away shyly, rubbing a hand through his hair.
"Reinforced steel," Cordelia explained, trying to appear as normal as possible as she stepped around Angel to reveal herself. Gunn and Wesley raised their flashlights, and the faint light bounced briefly across her face. They paused at her appearance, noticing the swollen pucker of her lips and her disarrayed hair, but said nothing. The beams fell to the floor, and there was just enough light in the room for the humans to stare at eachother. Angel folded his arms. Cordelia glanced at him and then gestured around the enclosed space. "We couldn't hear anything outside of this freezer..."
"How on earth did you survive!" Wesley remarked as the cold came over him, and goose bumps trailed down his arms.
"Angel gave me his coat," Cordelia said shortly, stepping past them to exit the confined space.
"What happened to your hair?" Gunn finally asked.
Cordelia said nothing but left, and Angel followed her, out into the dingy kitchen. Wes and Gunn trailed after them, leaving the freezer door wide open.
"What are you doing here anyway?" Cordelia snapped, an obvious annoyance in her voice, though both Gunn and Wesley thought it was because she'd been trapped in a freezer, not because of...well, what they didn't know was happening with Angel at the time they'd decided to bust on in.
"After the dinner party, I decided to stop back at the hotel to pick up some research materials and found that Angel hadn't come home. I called your apartment and no one picked up, so I called Gunn and we came to investigate. We found Angel's car still parked out back."
"It's a good thing we came along, or you'd still be stuck in that freezer," Gunn commented. Cordelia gave him a dirty look.
"Oh, Damn!" She said sarcastically.
Now Gunn gave her a dirty look. "Am I missing something here?"
"She's cranky, as usual," Angel said as convincingly as possible, passing them all up and heading out to the main dining room. "You know how Cordy gets when she doesn't get a full eight hours of sleep..." He glanced at her, blankly at first, mortified if she guessed correctly, but then Angel did something completely uncharacteristic; he smirked, a private amusement on his face. He arced his brow at her and she felt herself blushing hot and looking away. "I'm glad I'm out of there..." he then said, letting the smirk fall away. He looked at Gunn and Wesley seriously. "You know, one more hour with her, and I don't know what I would've done."
Boy, didn't that imply something.
"I'm glad it wasn't me," Gunn said. "I don't think I could have handled it."
Cordelia gave him an icy glare.
"I meant the cold, Miss Thang!"
"Yeah, sure ya did!"
"How did you get locked in there anyway?" Wesley asked. They were now heading outside to the parking lot where Gunn's truck and Wesley's new Alero were parked next to Angel's classic Plymouth.
"After you left," Cordelia said, still bundled up in Angel's leather coat. "I went in to see what Angel was doing, and then he tripped,"
"On shrimp." Angel said.
"On expired shrimp...And then when I was helping him up, someone closed the door and locked us in."
"Expired shrimp?" Gunn said disgustedly. "Remind me never to eat here again,"
"Ditto," Cordelia said.
"Was it the Spontoon Demon?" Wesley asked.
"It had to be." Angel said. "He somehow got passed me, and when Cordy came in, he slipped out."
"I can't believe I was that close to a demon," Cordy shivered. Angel gave her a direct look. "A Spontoon demon, I mean."
The subtext was getting thick.
"You two could've been in a lot of trouble," Wesley said worriedly. "It's a good thing I went to the hotel."
"Yeah," Cordelia said nervously. "It's a good thing you found us when you did. I don't know how I would've felt in the morning..."
"Huh?" Wesley asked.
"I mean, I don't know what would have happened to me, what you would have found, in the morning. I might have froze to death, you know."
"Angel wouldn't let that happen," Wes said.
"No," Cordelia said, smirking at her boss as he was busy fishing for his keys. She reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out his key ring. "He sure wouldn't." She slipped them into Angel's hand and let her fingers linger just enough for Angel to tell she'd meant to linger. She let go, and passed him to go around to the passenger's side.
"So, what are we going to do?" Gunn asked, looking at Angel.
"Should we go after it now?" Wesley asked. "It's trail may still be warm."
Angel looked to Cordelia, swallowing slightly.
"No. I want to get Cordelia home. Make sure she doesn't get sick. We can hunt it tomorrow."
"Okay," Gunn said with a shrug.
"It's your call," Wesley replied.
"Yeah, just head home," Angel looked up at the sky. "We'll go after it later. He's probably long gone by now anyway."
"Later, then." Gunn said. He walked away.
"Good night, Angel, Cordelia," Wesley said, going to his car.
"Night, Wesley." Cordelia called. Angel waived and the ex-watcher climbed into his car.
The parking lot came to life with the two distinct roars of their engines. First Gunn pulled out of the lot, speeding off into the street traffic, and then Wes.
Alone now, Angel and Cordelia climbed into his car. In the moments of silence that followed, the air suddenly became unbearably thick and Angel coughed. Cordelia cracked the window and looked outside. Angel checked the positioning of the mirrors; anything to avoid what was so ready to boil to the surface after what had just taken place. Satisfied with the mirrors, Angel finally decided to get the car moving.
"Cordy," He started as he slipped the key into the ignition. Cordelia pulled on her seatbelt and looked straight ahead. Angel waited for a reaction, but got nothing. "We..." He said meekly. "We probably shouldn't have..."
"Right." She interrupted. "Totally right."
"I only...it was...I didn't mean..." He looked flustered. "It wasn't what...oh. This is hard. We...you...we were sleeping together...and...it just...well, you know."
"Not sleeping," Cordelia corrected him. "Just ‘sleeping'."
"Oh, right. Right."
"And things got kinda intense, what with the conversation and all..."
"Yes, the conversation was...intense,"
"And I really didn't mean..."
Cordelia sat up straight in her chair.
"Well, I didn't mean...either!"
"And we're still friends, right?" Angel slumped in his seat and stared at her.
Cordelia stared back, and nodded. "Of course. Always."
Angel sighed and started the engine.
"Sorry, go ahead."
"No, you go ahead."
"Um, okay." Angel looked down into his lap and cleared his throat nervously. "I just...I want to thank you, for everything you've been to me. You've been a bigger part of my life the past two years than I might give you credit for, and I couldn't have come this far without you. I'd never risk losing that for anything, and even though something...really weird and bizarre, happened tonight, between us, it doesn't mean that I don't feel the same...way, about you that I always have. You're my friend. You're my seer, and...my point is, we're family. We, er, kissed, that's all. Nothing catastrophic, right! We...we...we can get through this, right?"
His eyes rose to meet hers.
"We'll get through this."
"But I want to clear something up here! You were really warm and comfortable so I'm glad it was you I was stuck with. And yes, we're family, and I love you. But, if you tell anyone about what happened in that freezer, I'm going to personally stake you!"
Angel smiled at her from the drivers seat.
"I wont tell," He promised, sitting back. "As long as you don't tell anyone about the leisure suit thing."
"I promise I wont," Cordelia smiled.
"Good." Angel sighed in relief.
Cordelia's smile widened into a grin.
"So..." He started, nervously watching her out of the corner of his eye. He drummed his fingers across the steering wheel multiple times before finally resting his hands in his lap. He looked over at Cordelia, and after clearing his throat, in a soft and slightly anticipating voice, asked, "Your place, or mine?"
Cordelia arched her brow, and taking one good, long look at his pale, cool lips, thought of all she'd been missing. Kissing. Mmm, kissing was good. Kissing wasn't catastrophic, right? He'd said so himself. They could get through it. Later. Maybe tomorrow. But what about tonight?
Cordelia pushed a stray stand of hair back from her eyes, and turning in her seat to face him, she answered,
And they kissed happily ever after.
Hey, why not, right?
Kissing. Mmm, kissing.