Disclaimer :: The characters herein are the property of their creators. I make no profit from their use.

:: b a b y l o n ::

written by Starlet2367 { e-mail // livejournal }

If you want it, come and get it, crying out loud
The love that I was giving you was never in doubt
Let go your he
art, let go your head
And feel it now

--David Gray, Babylon

Angel had gotten so used to seeing Cordelia walk through the lobby with a Groo-inspired bounce in her step that when she came in looking wilted and sad-eyed he felt like someone had spiked his breakfast with Dom Perignon.

 Not that he was happy that she was sad, but just… Maybe she and Groo hadn’t gone at it quite so hard last night.

He winced, wishing he could wash that picture out of his head. Like he needed to imagine the go-all-night puppy dog getting his paws on Cordelia…again.

Cordy angled past him and reached for the coffee pot, which was down to the thick sludge of yesterday's leftovers. She upended it and the coffee sloshed over the rim and onto her hand. "Dammit!"

Angel doused a napkin with water from Fred’s leftover bottle and had it wrapped around Cordelia’s hand before the last syllable left her mouth. "You okay?"

She glanced up, eyes hot, face flushed. "Do I look okay?"

He stepped back. Ohhh-kay. It was gonna be one of those days. "Vision?" That would explain the slumped shoulders and full-on bitch mode.

"Hmph." The backs of her knees hit her chair and she collapsed into it. Her ridiculously small purse dragged along the ground, hanging limp from her hand. "No."

How in the hell could she carry anything in that purse? Where were all her stakes? What was it with women?

Oh, right. He watched the pulse twitch in her throat. Sometimes he forgot he was dealing with the live ones now. Which could make it…. "PMS?"

She cut him an ugly glare.

Oh, God. Had he really said that?

He must have because she stuffed the midget purse in the desk drawer, powered up her computer and put on her headphones. All with shoulders that were as stiff and sharp as the blade of an axe.

He’d just about decided to go work out when the lobby door jangled and Wes walked in. "Good morning, all." Coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other, he looked as fresh and as ready to face the world as the first robin of spring.

Angel wanted to shield his eyes against all that morning cheer. No one should be that chipper before twilight dawned. It just wasn’t right.

"Morning, Cordelia," Wesley said, as he passed her desk.

She grunted.

Wes, humming, dropped his stuff on his desk and folded himself in his chair. Then he picked up his pencil, opened the nearest book, and began reading.

Fun morning, Angel thought. He loved humans.


That workout was looking really good. "Training," he said, by way of explanation, though neither of them bothered to acknowledge it. So he grabbed his boxing gloves from the cabinet under the reception desk and took himself to the basement.

Where it was shadowy, quiet and cool as a cave. He sighed, happy to be away from the freaky people aboveground, and laced on his gloves.

He hit the bag, working up a rhythm as familiar as the moontide.


He jumped. "Shit," he said under his breath. He wiped the sweat out of his eyes and homed in on Fred, who was standing on the bottom step, trying to find him in the gloom. "You move quiet."

She shrugged. "Pylea."

"Ah." Angel looped his arms over the punching bag and leaned his damp face against the still-quivering skin. "What’s up?"

She sat on the step, curling into the v-shaped blackness of the stair tread like a cat he’d once had. "Groo left."

He blinked. "Huh?"

She waved her hand. "You know. Left. As in, broke up with Cordy and went back to…Pylea, I guess." Fred shrugged. "Lorne just called. Said he’d been up half the night with him, trying to help him figure out what to do."

"Lorne called here?" Angel was still trying to put the pieces together, but all he could really think was, Groo… Left Cordy? Broke up? Groo was gone?

The moon broke through the clouds. The Powers made his soul permanent. He had a fountain in the courtyard that bubbled O-neg.

"You think this is funny?" Fred shot him her Danger Mouse glare.

Angel shook his head, mushing his face into the punching bag to try to wipe the smile off. "No. No, of course not." But he was having a hard time not laughing. Because, Groo! Gone!

"Good. Because Cordy is acting like she’s gonna drink the special Kool-Aid up there and—"

"The what?" Angel’s forehead wrinkled.

"What, what?"

"Special Kool-Aid?" He shook his head.

Fred sighed, stood, and brushed off her jeans, all in one long, rangy motion. "Angel. God—the Powers, whoever—is giving you a chance, here." She pinned him with a gaze so direct he actually found himself looking away.

"Uh…." What was she talking about?

"So don’t blow it, okay?"

He dropped his arms to his sides and stared at his shoes. Surely she didn’t mean….

He had a feeling he’d just been busted.

"Oh, and Angel?"

He glanced up. She was a black outline against white-harsh light.

"Turn on some lights down here. It’s like you like being in the dark, or something."


When he came up awhile later the lights felt like sharp sticks poking him. He blinked against them and put his hand over his face until his eyes adjusted.

The first thing he saw was Cordy’s back. She was typing something and the clack-clack of the keyboard sounded like chattering teeth. Fred sat a few feet away, propped on a stool next to the reception desk, reading. Her foot tapped against the rung, a brush on a drum. Wesley’s voice, as he used the phone, anchored the office noises, the tenor soloist against the quiet, percussive backdrop.

All his chicks in one place, Angel thought. Except Gunn, but you couldn’t really call him a chick. And there was Cordy, scratching the back of her neck, her nails leaving a barely-visible trail of red on the olive skin, a trail he followed now, a trail he *could* follow now, now that Groo was….

He shook it off, shook off the bubbling grin and the springy step and was careful to move lots of air as he came into the room. The girls glanced up at the sound of his feet on the tile then went back to what they were doing.

Angel slowed down as he neared Cordy’s desk, let his eyes trail down her arms to her fingers, moving quickly over the keys. Caught a hint of cleavage under the low-riding tank, and yet he found himself drawn to the shadows of her face, like he’d been drawn to the dark downstairs.

Had she been crying? Her eyes were puffy, the tip of her nose pink. She looked vulnerable, like she needed a friend.

He could be a friend. He was a friend, right? Angel spotted the coffee pot and, grateful for the excuse, grabbed a mug. He kept Cordy in his peripheral vision as he poured coffee, added sugar—

"Would you *stop* it?"

He jolted, spilling sugar. The sticky granules scattered onto the counter and showered his feet. "Huh?"

Cordy looked like a Valkerie, all flaming eyes and heaving….

Angel kept his gaze well above her collarbone, careful not to get locked into the old heaving bosoms trap.

She waved her hand at his coffee cup. "Like you even drink coffee. And then you’re all, skulky and—"

Fred was staring, eyes wide, pencil eraser caught between her teeth.

Wes leaned so he could see into the office. "What’s going on?"

Cordelia grunted. "Angel’s being all creepy vamp."

"That’s not true. I was just getting some coffee. I was…" He sipped and got a mouthful of coffee-scented sugar. "Thirsty." He grimaced as he swallowed.

Out the corner of his eye, Fred shook her head.

He ground his teeth. "I mean—I’m sorry, Cordy. You’re right. I just…." And there it was, a golden slide of warmth in his gut, the same feeling he always came back to—the need to make her happy. "I was…worried about you. When I heard…." He glanced down at his feet. "You know, about Groo."

Cordy’s chair rocketed back against the wall. "Who told you?"

"I—uh—" He glanced at Fred. Then realized his mistake as a quivering Cordy rounded on her.

"You told him? YOU?"

Fred put her pencil down. "Yes. And before you get all hyper, Lorne told me." She stood. "He was worried about you, sweetie."

"Well, it’s none of his business. It’s nobody’s business." She glared at Wes. "I suppose you knew, too?"

Thank God Wes looked as confused as Angel felt. Angel wanted to hold up his fist in a show of male solidarity.

"Groo?" Wes asked.

Cordy hissed. "We broke up, okay? He left, OKAY?" She whipped around, glared at Angel.

He looked down at the sugar on the counter, st
art ed brushing it into a neat pile. "Sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you."

"Right." She banged her desk drawer open and grabbed her purse. "Whatever."

Fred’s words came back to him. Don’t blow it. Don’t blow it. "What if you have a vision?" He winced. Crap. Way to not blow it, Angel.

"You can keep your freaking visions." She pounded across the floor, stopped just short of the door, and turned. "Your freaking visions ruined my life." The door slammed behind her.

Angel, breathing hard, tried to control the shooting pain in his chest.

"She didn’t mean it," Fred said.

Wes leaned on the door between the rooms. "She’s really upset."

Angel shot him a look. "You think?" He slid into Cordy’s chair, still warm with her body heat. It wasn’t much comfort when he thought about what she’d said.

"She didn’t mean it," Fred said, again. She knelt in front of Angel and put her hands on his.

He stared at their twined fingers. "I know." He laughed, a huff of air. "I think."

Fred squeezed his hands. "She’s just hurting. You should go after her."

"Daylight," Wes said.

She made an exasperated sound. "Men. Is idiocy programmed into your DNA, or do you teach it to each other in school?" She stood. "I’m telling you, Angel. The gods are offering you—"

"A chance. So you said."

"Actually, Lorne said. But still—"

Angel winced. "He promised not to say anything."

Wes leaned a hip on Cordy’s desk. "A chance?’

Fred wrinkled her brow. "To go after Cordy?"

Wes tilted his head the way he did when he was translating a difficult passage of text. After a moment of humming silence he said, "Oh." His face grew stern. "Angel—you know better than to risk love. After all, your soul—"

Angel felt something pent up in him burst. "Yeah, Wesley, I know." He broke free of Fred’s hold and stared at them both. "I’m going back downstairs now."

At least there he could do things he understood, like hitting a bag and swinging a sword.

Where were women like Darla when you needed them, he wondered, as he sorted through the weapon trunk. Maybe it was that he knew her so well, but he was comfortable with her ability to keep him guessing.

Cordy was…always a step of him, he thought, as he swung a broadsword over his head. And not in a good way.

She was loud, vain, bitchy and nosy. You couldn’t keep a secret around her. Couldn’t lurk or skulk. Couldn’t sit alone in the dark without being offered a Prozac.

He glanced toward the stairs, wondered if he’d known about Groo first thing…would he have handled things differently?

In his mind, he was Cary Grant and John Wayne and Arnold Palmer, all rolled into one. Suave, manly and a freaking genius, good at his one thing, the one thing that made him stand out above everyone else. He was a light in the window, and women would flock to him like moths…or something.

The image of Fred, silhouetted against the door, came to mind. That’s what he was like. The light in the door…. Yet when he tried to picture himself, haloed in light, all he saw was Cordy.


Who was the sun, bright, hot, annoying and he could survive without it but some days he wanted it more than anything, more than blood, more than Buffy, more than--

Cordy was….


He put the sword down and sat on the step.


Cordelia adjusted the hem of the red blouse in the dressing room mirror. It was chiffon, with a high neck and slit sleeves that gathered at her elbow. The hemline hit somewhere above her belly button and with the rose at the throat it looked floaty, feminine and altogether romantic.

Which she totally didn’t need.

She let out a huff and stripped it off, then pulled her own clothes back on. She’d pulled them out of the hamper, and they felt limp, like pajamas that had been slept in, but they were comfortable. And she was tired. She stared at herself, in the yoga pants and hoodie, her hair pulled back in a headband.

What had convinced her that going blond was a good idea? She yanked at her bangs, ran her hand around the nape of her neck and blew out a breath. Groo had, that’s who. She’d done it on a whim and he’d loved it. Loved how it brightened her face and made her look sunwashed and lazy and….

Now he was gone, and she was left with morning-after hair. Bad decision hair. God, she thought, as she stared at the blond that turned her face ashen, she had walk-of-shame hair.

Could life *get* any worse?

Cordy left the store feeling hot, hassled and sorry for herself. She pulled her sunglasses out of her pocket and slapped them on then stood just outside the door of the shop wondering what to do next.

She was never out in the middle of the day anymore. She was either getting ready for work, or she and Groo were—

Her hand tightened on the strap of her purse, a little butter-colored confection she’d bought on the island, a Kate-Spade style girlie-girl purse that was too small to carry anything but her cards and one lipstick.

Groo’s fault again. Why, he’d asked, should she carry those sticks of wood when she had him to protect her?

She’d been so enthralled with the idea of playing Whitney in her own version of Bodyguard that she bought the bag. And now, here she was, bad haircut, limp hoodie and a purse too small to—




It wasn’t like she’d loved him. She just liked the companionship. And the whole "My princess" schtick. And the…. She felt her eyes glaze over as the sense memory of him kissing his way down her throat washed over her.

Her body throbbed.

She squeezed her eyes closed.

Behind her the door jangled and a couple jostled her shoulder as they passed, the woman holding a candy-striped shopping bag and smiling up at her boyfriend.

This was stupid. Just because everyone else had a boyfriend who bought them things didn’t mean she had to stand around moping. She should do something. Something else.

The last time she’d had this much time on her hands was when Angel ditched them. And the Musketeers, missing D’Artagnan, had usually wound up at the pub where Wesley played d
art s.

The Mad Dog was dark inside; there was always some weirdly comforting British sport on the TVs; and most importantly, there was beer. Plus the thought of throwing d
art s was therapeutic.

Too bad she didn’t have a picture of Groo’s face to put on the board.

She found her JEEP where she’d parked it a couple of blocks away, climbed in and navigated toward Wesley’s neighborhood. Hoobastank blasted, making the speakers vibrate, and for the length of the song she almost forgot about the night before.

The afternoon sun bounced off the cars as she pulled up to the pub. It took two circles of the block before she found a spot—someone was pulling out just a few feet from the door, which never happened.

Maybe her luck was improving. Or maybe an anvil was about to fall from the roof, courtesy of Wyle E. Coyote.

At the bar, Cordy ordered a Jameson’s, neat, and a Harp as a chaser. She shot the whisky and took the beer to one of the high tables next to the d
art boards. One of the many TVs, anchored in the corner of the ceiling, played rugby with the sound off, but she could see the match was brutal.

It suited her mood.

She watched strong-legged men, without helmets or pads, drag each other up and down the field. The love of violence was ingrained deep, she thought, leaning her chin on her fist.

The light of whisky burned bright in her belly and she decided to nurse the buzz, so she picked up her beer and took a long pull. After she’d downed about half of it she took her eyes off the television and looked around.

The room was filling with the after-work crowd in suits with their loosened ties and tidy dresses with work-appropriate heels. She looked down at her sweats and wondered what she’d do if she had a real job. Where she wore the kind of clothes she’d worn in high school, when she’d looked like a Stepford Wife.

Which made her think of the great hair she’d had back then, which totally depressed her all over again. Cordy flagged the waitress and pointed at her beer. The door opened again, and the sun had moved enough that the open maw let in a slash of light. It blinded her and when she got her sight back, there was a man standing in front of her table.

Her he
art jolted.

"Cordelia." But it was only Wesley, who slid onto the barstool across from her.

Suspicion narrowed her eyes. "How’d you know I’d be here?"

"I didn’t. I hit a stopping point and craved a pint." He glanced at the empty table across the aisle. "I can move if you want."

Cordy sighed. "No, that’s okay." Her shoulders slumped. "Though I’m not the best company."

Wes nodded to the waitress who dropped a pint of Guinness in front of him and set two more Harps in front of Cordy.

"I didn’t order two." Cordy shoved one of the beers toward back toward her.

"Happy hour," said the waitress, who took off, tray in hand, for the next table.

Wes clinked one of the Harps with his mug and took a sip of Guinness. He came up wearing a latte-colored mustache of beer foam and wiped his mouth with his napkin. After a minute he propped his head on his hand, a familiar pose from their days as a crime-solving threesome.

"When Virginia broke up with me--" Wesley said.

Cordy glanced up at him. "Don’t."

He looked down at his hands. "I know you liked him. That’s all I wanted to say." He rolled the beer back and forth in his hands.

Her he
art softened. "Sorry. I should go to BA, or something."

"BA?" His eyes were a blue flash.

"Bitch-a-holics Anonymous?"

The skin around those blue eyes crinkled as he smiled.

"You’re pretty cute. Why didn’t we ever go out?" She swallowed another mouthful of beer.

Wes snorted. "You’d have castrated me?"

"Oh, please. I don’t castrate." She wrinkled her nose. "Much."

He patted her hand. "I hear Groo went back to Pylea."

She shrugged. "Probably. He didn’t say." Cordy bit her lip, wondering just how much she *should* say. Then the beer and the sullen day got the worst of her. "He did, however, say he left because—" She took a deep breath.

Wesley leaned forward.

"I’m in love with Angel." It came out in a burst, sounding more like gibberish than English.

Wesley’s facility for language must have helped him over the hump because his eyes closed and his hands clenched on his glass.

"You look queasy."

"Yes, well." When he opened his eyes, he looked like Pylea Wesley. The leader, not the follower. "It’s a difficult topic, isn’t it?"

She sucked in a breath. "Why? It’s not like he’s in love with me."

Wes leaned back in his chair. Glanced up at the rugby game. Got entranced by the scrum. When his attention returned, Cordy was on her second beer and feeling no pain.

"Where were we?" he asked.

"Love stinks?"

That look crossed Wesley’s face again. "It’s a problem, you see. Maybe more than you even realize."

"Stop talking in riddles, Wesley. I’m grumpy enough to break the bottle over your head."

He tapped his carefully manicured nails on his glass. "Maybe I shouldn’t attempt to decipher it for you, then. Better all around if I don’t, frankly."

She blinked. "What?" A thought whooshed by, almost too fast for her to catch. But her stomach caught it and sent up butterflies in response. "You’re kidding."

Wes finished his beer and wiped his mouth again. "I wish I were."

Looking at his face, Cordy finally understood the word "rueful."

Her head was spinning and she put up her hand to stop it. "How long?"

"Does it matter?" He shrugged. "The fact is, he thinks this has given him a chance with you. I’m not sure why now, rather than before. But—" He leaned forward. "Cordelia, you know you can’t possibly encourage him, right?"

She deflated. He was right. Those long nights of anatomy-by-Braille with Groo? Totally off-limits with Angel. "He’s the original no-bone. And we all know how much I like a good bone."

Wes winced. "Please."

"Sorry." She rubbed her forehead. "I’m drunk. I’m dumped. I’m wearing an unwashed hoodie in public. Can my life get any worse?" She folded her arms on the table and dropped her face into their cradle.

After a minute she felt Wesley’s hand in her hair. "For what it’s worth, I’m truly sorry. For you both." He blew out a breath.

Cordy raised her head. "We’ve never even tried to figure out if there’s a way around the curse."

"Besides resouling him? No, we haven’t. He’s never asked, and I’ve never been inclined to meddle."

"But we found the prophylactic that would keep me from losing the visions to Groo. And that worked great."

Wes winced again. "If you could not speak so enthusiastically about your sex life, I would greatly appreciate it."

"Sorry. It’s just—"

"I know." He raised his hand to the waitress. "Want another?"

"Probably wouldn’t hurt."


Cordy waved good-bye at Wes, who’d driven her home, and trudged up the stairs to her ap
art ment. She shouldn’t have maxed out on the alcohol so early in the day. Now she’d have a hangover before midnight, she thought, as she pushed open her front door.

She stopped just inside the foyer. The ap
art ment smelled…amazing. Cordy drew in a breath. What was that? Pasta? Bread?

Her stomach rumbled. Then her eyes narrowed. "Who’s there?" Because Dennis, amazing as he was at moving soda cans and handing her Kleenex, had never quite mastered the
art of lifting her saucepans.

She waited, keys pushed through her fingers, arms raised in a defensive posture, until Angel came around the corner.

"Hey. I didn’t hear you come in. The music—" He gestured.

Now she clued into the sound—some kind of light jazz. Her
Bruce Hornsby CD? Cordy slit her eyes at him. "What are you up to?" The butterflies were back, tickling the underside of her ribcage with their fast-moving wings.

Angel wiped his hands on the kitchen towel he’d tucked into his waistband. "Cooking you dinner."

She moved slowly into the living room, eyes still narrowed. "You haven’t cooked me a meal since we moved into the Hyperion."

"So, maybe it was time." He smiled at her, a friendly, unaffected grin, and disappeared back into the kitchen.

What the hell? Cordy put her bag down next to the couch and followed her nose to the kitchen.

Where Angel was mixing a salad in her wooden bowl while mouthing the words to "Walk in the Sun."

Okay, this was just weird, she thought. "Angel, this is just weird. You show up here unannounced, cook for me and—" She glanced at the table, which was set with her nicest Salvation Army china. "Did you bring wine?"

He set the salad tongs in the bowl then went to the stove and dipped a wooden spoon into the steaming pot. "Here. Make sure I got the spices right."

Cordy opened her mouth to say, "You’re kidding, right?," but ended up with a mouthful of spoon. The sauce was…. "Oh, my God." It came out on an ecstatic moan.

He pulled the spoon back and smiled.

"Is that fresh basil?"

He waved the spoon toward the ingredients on the counter. It looked like a recipe for Marinara 101—he’d even chopped garlic.

"You chopped *garlic*?" Her first instinct was to check his hands for burns. Instead, she stumbled to the nearest chair and sat. A sudden thought had her tensing. "Are you trying to seduce me?"

He shook his head, stirred the sauce. "I can’t cook you dinner without you thinking I want to seduce you?" Took a sip of wine. Watched her with a lazy smile over the crystal edge of the glass.

In an easy move, he set the glass down on the counter and took two steps to the table. Their knees brushed and she jumped.

Angel leaned in close, closer…and it was like time got caught in a warp. Her senses distilled everything to its very essence. Suddenly she smelled him, incense and basil; saw the spread of his chest, the little pooch of his belly, covered by a layer of white cotton. When the bright silver of his belt buckle came into view, she turned her head, closed her eyes, overwhelmed by his nearness, breath catching in her throat….

When he didn’t touch her, she opened one eye in a squint. Saw him holding a glass of wine, the color of burgundy velvet.

He offered it to her.

She thought about that hangover she was gonna have at midnight. About the cottony feeling she already had in her head.

Then she looked at Angel, wearing of his long-sleeved shirts, untucked and open at the cuffs, like a jacket over a t-shirt. His feet were bare, his hair perfectly rumpled.

Her hand rose, took the wine, and brought it to her mouth. She barely felt the glass on her lips, registered only that there was liquid on her tongue. When she set the glass on the table, her he
art was thumping. "Why are you wearing leather pants?"

Angel glanced down and ran his hand over his thigh. When he looked up again, he seemed sheepish. "They were the only ones I had clean."

"So you didn’t suddenly get happy?" Inside she was braced to run. None of this added up—not the music, or the food, or his pants or suspiciously bare feet.

Hurt flashed in his eyes. For a moment there was nothing but
Bruce Hornsby’s voice and the smell of the simmering sauce.

Then he stood, head down, hanging limp at his sides. "I was just trying to make *you* happy," he said, in a voice that barely broke the sound barrier. He scrubbed his hands over his face and said, "I knew this wouldn’t work."

A wave of hot shame crashed over her, kept her immobile even as Angel took the towel out of his waistband and dropped it on the counter. Even as he walked out of the kitchen.

Cordy sat, holding her wine, unable to take a breath as she tried to process what just happened. She waited for him to come back, waited for him to call out to her but all she heard was the quiet click as the front door closed behind him.

She stared at the window, at the closed curtains and the line of light filtering through. Remembered the hot glint off the car windows at the bar.

It struck her, then, that he’d come over here in the middle of the day. Chopped garlic and herbs and bought her wine.

How’d he get the groceries up? There was no sewer access to her ap
art ment.

He’d risked his life to cook her dinner?

She fumbled the wine onto the table and ran into the living room.

But when she opened the front door to yell his name, he was already gone.


Cordelia slipped her feet into her black stilettos then stood and picked up her short, fitted black leather blazer. She didn’t bother looking in the mirror again; she’d picked her outfit with the same care she had back in high school. Clothes were a tool, and this tool was going to help her get something she’d finally realized she wanted.


She took her cards and lipstick out of the ridiculously tiny purse and transferred them to her larger, more familiar bag. The one with the stake and the mace –style can of holy water in the pocket.

Angel would never ask her to leave those behind. Would never ask her to depend on him for protection.

Angel trusted her to take care of herself.

And now she was going to take care of him.

She flipped through her credit cards until she found the one with the highest limit, prayed it’d be enough, and stuck it in her wallet.

Then she pocketed her keys, took a final glance around the room to make sure she had anything, and said, "Bye, Dennis. Don’t wait up."


Angel used the jump rope like therapy, whipping it around his body, moving faster and faster, until all that was visible of the rope was a blur. It forced him to focus, to jump or fall, to regain dominion over his body and mind.

The basement was completely dark, no concession to light, no bothering with what anyone else needed. He liked the dark. He could be himself in the dark, and that’s how he wanted it.

He jumped rope until his legs gave out. Then he st
art ed doing push-ups, losing count after 200. The pumping action of his shoulders and back kept him focused, too, kept him from thinking about Cordelia, about how she’d accused him of being Angelus just because he’d tried to do something nice for her.

That’s what he got for being nice. Vampires weren’t nice. He should just stick to being what he was, a mean bastard who liked the dark and didn’t pretend otherwise.

Angel struggled into another push-up, forced himself into the full body extension, forced himself to hold it until he was quivering, until the sweat ran down his body in rivulets.

Finally he lowered himself, slowly, slowly, to the floor. The cool concrete felt good against his quivering skin and he lay there, smelling dirt, until he could roll over.

He did one sit-up, two, and stopped. This was ridiculous. Why was he punishing himself for trying to help a friend? All he’d done was risk his life to cook some chick dinner and she threw it back in his face. That was her deal, not his. He didn’t have anything to be ashamed—

"How’d it go?"

Angel jolted. "Dammit, Fred."

"Sorry." She flipped the switch at the bottom of the stairs and the lights came on. "You’ve been down here for hours."



Angel looked through his fingers and saw her slumped on the bottom stair, her chin in her hands. "Yeah, well, I had some stuff to work out." He sat up, wincing at the pull of muscles in his back and arms.

"Guess it didn’t go so well."

He stood and found his towel. St
art ed wiping sweat off his forehead and chest. "Guess not."

Fred sighed. "Wanna tell me what happened?"

He leaned against the table and guzzled blood-tinged Gatorade. "Not really. But thanks." He felt himself flush at the memory of leaning over Cordy to pour her wine—like some soap opera star trying for seduction.

He ran his hand over his face. "It was stupid. I was stupid to try."

Fred kicked her legs out in front of her. "You were not. I’ll bet you did great, too. Cordy just wasn’t ready for it. Coming off a break-up, maybe it was too soon—"

Angel shook his head. "Whatever. Look, I tried. I did everything you suggested and it didn’t work."

"You can’t let one setback—"

"Look, Fred, I appreciate what you tried to do. Really." He ran the towel over his head then draped it around his shoulders. "But it’s just not my style. Besides, I’m not sure Cordy’s…interested."

Fred sighed. "Angel, look at you. Who *wouldn’t* be interested?"

He glanced down at his chest, at his arms and hands. Tried to imagine what other people saw. "You really think I’m good-looking?"

"Shoot, yeah. I’d do you—" She put her hand over her mouth. "Sorry, that came out wrong."

Angel laughed then crossed the room and held out his hand. "C’mon. I need a shower." God, did that sound like an invitation? How in the hell was he ever gonna get it right--

But Fred didn’t seem to pick up anything seductive in his comment. Instead she waved her hand in front of her nose. "Yes, you do."

They st
art ed up the stairs. Fred said, "Don’t give up, okay? Cordy’s…complex." She turned to look at him. "And she does love you."

"Even so—" Angel stopped, blew out a breath. "Fred, I can’t…give her what she needs."

"You mean sex?"

A nervous laugh bubbled up. "Uh, yeah."

Fred put her hands on her hips. In her shorty pajamas with her hair in ponytails she looked like a child demanding a bowl of cereal before bed. "From what I’ve heard, you’ve never even explored a cure."

"For the curse? Fred, there is no cure. That’s why they call it a curse." He gave her a little push to st
art her up the stairs again.

"How do you know? Have you even looked?" She opened the door to the shadowed lobby and crossed it gracefully, like she was wearing night-vision goggles.

God only knew what she’d learned in Pylea. Seeing at night was probably just one of her scary skills.


"What?" He pulled his mind away from night-vision goggles and back on the conversation. "Uh, no. No, I’ve never looked." Angel shook his head. "But it doesn’t matter, anyway. After tonight, I could be, uh…who’s that guy from that movie? With Roller Girl?"


"Yeah, him." They st
art ed up the lobby stairs toward their bedrooms. "You know, all well-endowed and porn-star-ish, and whatever, and she wouldn’t even look."

It irked him that she’d chosen Groo—dressed Groo in his clothes, given him his weapons—and that she still didn’t want him. Where was the sense in that?

Fred stopped at her bedroom door. "I’m sure you’re well-endowed." She patted him on the shoulder. "Besides, it’s not the size of the pen, it’s how you sign your name, right?"

Angel snorted. "Where do you get this stuff?"

Fred shrugged. "I’ve been around. Anyway, I think you should get a good night’s sleep. After you shower of course." She waved her hand in front of her nose, again. "And things will look better in the morning." Now she scratched her nose and looked owlish. "Well, it already is the morning, and you don’t generally get up first thing like the rest of us, but, still—"

"I got it, Fred. Thanks."

Angel sipped his Gatorade as he went to his room. As always, Fred’s craziness made perfect sense. Things would look better after shower and a nap.

And he was fine, just like he was. Cordy did love him, he knew that. Maybe not *that* way, but still. It was more than he’d ever had. More than he’d ever *hoped* to have.

Definitely way more than he deserved.

Angel settled into his armchair, the bottle dangling from his fingers. He sighed. God, what if he’d ruined everything by trying to seduce her? He was such a putz. Such a wanker.

He scrubbed his hand over his face and thought about calling her to apologize. But it was after midnight and she was probably conked out. He’d call her tomorrow.

Things would be better in the morning.


Cordy maneuvered her JEEP into the parking lot then sat behind the wheel, the engine running. Her stomach was a ball of tension, her breath coming in fast bursts.

This was totally stupid. What was she thinking?

Then she remembered the look on Angel’s face just before he left. She had to make it up to him. To both of them.

Because she *did* love him.

Groo, damn him, had been right. He’d just been an Angel substitute and really, who could blame him for leaving?

She took a deep breath, locked up the JEEP behind her. The moon cut through the haze, a hopeful curl of silver.

Cordy stopped at the front door to the mansion. Did you knock at places like this or go right in?

Better safe than sorry, she thought, so she knocked, banging the big, brass knocker against the even bigger door. After a minute, it opened. A woman stood there in a negligee, her dark, glossy hair combed carefully over one shoulder. "Can I help you?"

Cordy cleared her throat. "I’m looking for the owner.’

A perfectly plucked eyebrow arched. "And you are?"

"Cordelia Chase. I need to talk with her about a…prophylactic."

The woman’s gaze dropped to Cordy’s feet, raked up her bare legs to her short black skirt, tangerine tank and black jacket. "Identification?"

Cordy sighed. "You’re serious?"

The woman stood, waiting, one shoulder blocking the door.

She should totally knock her down and go on in, Cordy thought. But that would probably greatly reduce her chances of getting what she wanted. So she pulled out her driver’s license and held it out.

A tail, long and tufted, whipped out from behind the woman and wrapped around the card.

Cordy squeaked. "What the hell?"

The woman smirked, then glanced at her ID. "Fine. Come on in."

Cordy took the ID back, wiped it on her skirt then stuck it back in her purse. She followed the waving tail into the lobby. The ceiling soared overhead, creating a sense of both openness and intimidation. There was expensive
art , expensive furniture and a feeling of corruption under the wealth.

Since this was exactly the sort of house Cordy had grown up in, she relaxed. She could do this.

She took a deep breath, only to find herself st
art led when another woman appeared in front of her.

The woman, clad in a suit the color of dawn, held out her hand. "I’m the owner. How can I help you?"

Cordy steeled herself. "I need a prophylactic."

The woman’s eyebrow arched.

"For a vampire. With a soul."

The eyebrow arched higher. "Seems I’ve met him. Recently, too. With another fellow. His p
art ner, maybe?"

Cordy snorted. "Hardly."

"He must have gone through that first one awfully quickly." The woman crossed her arms. "Can you pay?"

God, she hoped so. "Yes. Do you take credit?"

A man and a woman ran by. His shirt was open, his pants unbuttoned. Her negligee hung off one arm. They were giggling like children.

The woman sighed. "Of course." She waved a hand toward her office. "Let’s go somewhere we can talk."


Cordy used her key to unlock the door to the hotel lobby. She slipped off her jacket and dropped it and her purse on the round couch.

Her he
art was pounding so hard that every vamp in a 20-mile radius could probably hear it. The bottle in her hand trembled so she clutched it to her chest and climbed the stairs, being as quiet as she could. She didn’t want to wake Fred and have to explain what she was doing, tiptoeing in, wearing "date" clothes before dawn.

Besides, she wanted to surprise Angel.

She stifled a giggle. Surprise, hell. He was gonna be the happiest dude on the planet if this worked.

At his door, she stopped. Her hand hovered above the knob. "You can still back out," she whispered. "He’ll never know you were here."

But what if it worked? She tried to imagine how it would feel to finally kiss him and--

What if it didn’t work?

"Oh, shut up," she muttered. The elixir had worked perfectly on her and Groo. Why wouldn’t it work on her and Angel?

She turned the knob and went in before she could lose her nerve. When she saw him in his chair, she stuttered to a halt. "Angel?" Her voice came out in a whispering croak.

He didn’t answer, so she took another step and saw that he was asleep, his head resting at an angle against the cushion, a bottle of sports drink balanced precariously on the floor beneath his limp fingers.

Perfect. She crossed the room and stood in front of him, waiting to see if he’d awaken. When he kept snoring, she grinned.

She set the potion on the bedside table a safe distance away, then leaned forward and slipped the Gatorade out of his hand. She waited, breath caught, to see if he’d wake up.

God, he slept like the dead, she thought, as she set that bottle aside, too. She could pull a fire alarm and he’d probably sleep through it.

She took a deep breath. Now or never.

She knelt in front of him, trying to decide what to do first.

But she found she couldn’t rush it. Because this was Angel, her friend, the guy who caught her when she visioned, the one who cooked her dinner, even risking his life to do it.

She smiled, loving the way it felt to be cradled by his open knees. So close to him, close in a way she’d never been. Free to do anything she wanted to him, without fear of reprisal from Slayer or demon.

Her hand rose and she found herself gently stroking the familiar slant of his cheek, the soft bottom lip—

So soft under hers, so soft between her teeth, under her tongue.

Angel didn’t move, so she kissed him again, enjoying the sleep-slack feel of his mouth. She cupped the back of his neck, smiled against his mouth when, in sleep, he moaned.

She slid her tongue along his bottom lip, sucked it.

Knew instantly when he came awake, even though his eyes didn’t open. Knew because his body changed, going from relaxed to tense, his mouth opening on hers as he kissed her back.

He pulled a sound from her, a little gasping moan that she hadn’t ever made before. Her he
art was doing the 4-minute mile in her chest, nearly coming out her throat. Her stomach was so tense--

His arms came around her slowly but then he locked on to her tightly, pulling her up and in and close. And, oh, God, this was really happening….

Angled across his lap, she couldn’t get close enough, couldn’t get enough of his mouth, of his hands. Turned off that p
art of her brain that habitually screamed about gypsies and curses and tried to crawl inside him.

She pulled his hair, ran her hands over his face, over the cheeks and the nose and the forehead that felt completely new to her. While he ate her mouth, she found his hair again, matted and soft on his head, like he’d showered and hadn’t taken the time to fix it.

Now he was making little noises, soft sounds of need, of pleasure, noises she hadn’t even know he could make. It pulled a curl of lust right up from her toes.

God, she wanted him. How had she ever thought she wanted anyone *but* him?

Cordy wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close, burying her face in his neck. She wasn’t going to let herself think about anything but him.

In this moment there were no consequences.

So when he picked her up by the hips and hitched her legs around his waist, she simply rolled her head back and let him find her collarbone with his teeth.

When he shoved the comforter off the bed and dropped her onto the mattress, she latched onto him again.

She bit his lip, his chin, his throat. Tongued the skin there. Bit him again, feeling the way he gave beneath her.

He tensed, arched into her teeth.

Her fingers, hungry for more, yanked his t-shirt out of his pants. God, she knew his skin was smooth, but now, quivering under her touch, he felt alive, more alive than anyone she’d ever known.

His hands copied hers, riding high under her shirt. The tangerine colored tank was like a sunburst, a shock of color next to his arms.

They wrestled it off and the tank slipped from her fingers and fell to the floor in a hush. Angel’s gaze followed the lines of her tangerine-colored bra.

When he finally met her stare, she could see his hunger…and humor. He ran a finger under the thin bra strap. "You have an orange bra?"

"Everything else was dirty."

He let out a breathless laugh.

She grinned up at him and reached around her back to undo the clip.

His hands manacled hers, stopped her motion.

Cordy’s breath caught when she realized he was staring down at her up-thrust breasts, at the nipples pressing against the satin.

The way he looked at her….

She moaned. Her nipples tightened.

Angel loosened her hands and eased her back onto the mattress. Then he stepped away and looked at her, in her bra and skirt and fuck-me pumps.

"We can’t do this," he said, sounding as scratchy as an overplayed record.

Cordy toed off a shoe, let it fall to the floor.

His eyes followed her foot as it drifted it up his thigh, stopping just short of his crotch. "Cordelia—" He sounded tortured, miserable.

She couldn’t stand it anymore, so she rolled, grabbed a bottle and handed it to him. "Here. Drink this."

He stared down at the bottle of Gatorade. "What is this, a joke?" Now he looked confused and a little mad.

"Oops." She rolled again, came up with the glass perfume bottle of potion. "Wrong bottle." She pulled out the stopper with its long, glass dropper, filled with glowing green elixir. "Stick out your tongue."

His forehead wrinkled. "What is it?"

Cordy sat up, careful to keep her foot on his leg, and held out the dropper. "Magic." She grinned and wriggled her toes.

Angel wrapped his hand around her foot. "I don’t do magic."

"This kind, you do. It’s a prophylactic. Guaranteed to keep your soul intact, no matter how happy you get." She wriggled her toes against his palm. "And I aim to make you pretty damn happy."

Angel went still. "Don’t play me, Cordelia."

She gestured with the dropper. "Stick out your tongue."

He leaned forward slowly, his mouth half open. Then, a suspicious look on his face, he pulled back. "Where’d you get it?"


"Same place you got mine." She grinned. "And while I realize this isn’t the most appropriate moment to bring it up? It worked like a charm." She waggled the dropper at him. "Come on, Angel, get with the program. We’ve got some boot-bumping to do."

"We’re not wearing boots," he said, but his mouth turned up at the corner. "So, if I—" He leaned forward. "If I swallow that, it’ll keep me from losing my soul?"

She nodded and held the dropper out to him.

His hand tightened on her wrist. "What if I want to lose my soul?" He smiled, an evil glint in his eye.

Her he
art crashed. She dropped her foot to the floor and stood, stoppering the bottle. "Deal’s off, then." She was toeing her foot back into her shoe when he took the bottle from her, tilted his head back and dribbled the potion onto his tongue.

He swallowed, then stood, waiting. "I don’t feel anything. How do I know it’s working?"

She stopped, foot half in her shoe. "You just have to have faith."

He smiled at her, an open, beautiful, smile. "Why have faith, when I have you?" He put the bottle on the table, handling it like a religious
art ifact. Then he turned to her. "Now, where were we?"

Cordy gasped when his hands found her shoulders. When he pushed her back onto the bed, so she lay on the soft drift of his sheets—Angel’s sheets, that smelled like him--watching as he smoothed off her skirt, as he hooked his fingers under her thong and drifted it down her legs.

He ran his fingertips from the tender spot inside her knees, down her calves, to her ankles. Palmed her other shoe off and dropped it to the floor.

She felt shivery, her stomach a knot of need. Fear’s fingers tickled the back of her neck, fear that the potion might not work.

Fear that it would, and she’d have to live with the results of this one thing. Which could change the way she and Angel were, forever.

But she shook them off. Because Angel had knelt in front of her and was kissing his way up her leg. She moaned, grabbed a handful of sheet and hung on.

When he kissed her thighs, she arched up, crying out. When his lips cruised over her stomach and his tongue brushed her nipples, she bit her lip.

He pulled back, stood up. His wife-beater drifted off and landed somewhere on the floor behind him. And then it was just Angel in low-riding sweat pants.

Her brain fried. "Jesus Christ," she whispered.

His fingertips played from her collarbones, down over the tips of her breasts, tickled her belly button. Touching everything, touching nothing.

She sat up, body steaming, aching from the center out. Her hands fumbled with his drawstring and she pushed until gravity slid his pants down his legs. "Angel," she said. "I want you."

She wrapped her legs around his waist, pulled them center to center and looked down at him. He was…Angel. She’d seen every p
art but this one, but it made perfect sense, fit perfectly with the rest of him. Big, smooth, the color of moonlight.

Cordy bit him on the shoulder, her teeth clamping deep as she guided him inside her.

His hands tightened on her hips and he dropped his temple to hers. The room was shrouded in silence, and out the window, dawn was breaking. She held him against her, not moving, just…feeling.

Until need got the best of her.

He throbbed inside her, muscles bunching with the need to move.

It was too much, like she’d been painted with salt water and tapped with an electrical current.

Cordelia groaned and grabbed his biceps.

Angel let out a burst of breath and jacked her up against him. Then she was spinning and her back was hitting the wall and he was pounding into her, fast, hard, brutal.

She planted her hands on the wall above her head and rocked her pelvis, finding his rhythm, letting him do whatever he wanted with his hands, his mouth.

Letting him tell her how he hated her, how he loved her, how he needed her, how she was…everything.

She vibrated from the core with every thrust, felt him so deep, all the way into her he
art . The friction and heat that built between them felt like lightning, like storm clouds building.

She felt thick, wet, heavy and she wanted him in, in, in deeper. Cordy’s hands dropped to his shoulders and her thighs tightened on his hips. It condensed his movements, changed the angle again so his range of motion became a single path, a track that hit her soft spot, the spot that left her breath behind.

"Oh, God. Oh—" She arched her throat as he filled her, leaned her body into an arc that brought his thrusts home.

The orgasm she’d been tending since she first kissed him bloomed like a poppy, red-hot and wild. She rode him, rode it out, body tense as it shuddered through her.

Then he was turning her again, turning her and kneeling so her back met carpet. She hooked a leg around his hip and their pace lengthened, languished. From here she could bend, angle her hand under her leg, and find the core where there bodies met.

Her mind contracted when she felt him, felt his most vulnerable point. She stroked the underside of his cock, found his balls, cool and heavy, and filled her hand with them.

Angel’s mouth opened when she cupped him. She stroked him, stroked the little patch of skin between his balls and his cock, pressed her finger there.

He lost it, then, fucked her like she was a drug he couldn’t get enough of. He was ramming, ramming, and he grabbed her knees and hauled them up to his chest, made a tunnel of her body. She cried out, shocked at the contact, at the instant arousal, at the itch, the mouth-watering pleasure….

Oh, God—

She exploded, lights going off behind her eyes, getting lost in the lights, in the sweet, spiraling snake of joy that jammed her body into overload.

Angel thrust once, twice, then dropped her knees. She butterflied against the mattress, legs flopping limply as he bit her shoulder, as he came. He cried out into her skin, a yelp, a whimper, a moan.

When he collapsed onto her, he was eerily silent. No puffing breath, no he
art beat, just his weight, the coil of his muscle under her hands, the softening penis between them, leaving its silken trail on her thighs.

But when he raised his head and looked at her….

Oh, God, he was alive.

Those eyes, electric with lust, wet with tears.

She ran her bent knee up his side, kissed his face. She felt like she was flying. Light, insubstantial. Totally blessed.

He glanced around the room and his brow wrinkled. "How’d we end up here?" They were on the floor, in a tangle of clothes. The Gatorade bottle had fallen and lay on its side, blood-tinted liquid decorating the carpet.

Under her shoulders the rug was itchy, rough. "I’m not sure." Then it hit her. "Did it work?"

Angel dropped his face into her shoulder. Was quiet for so long, she was st
art ing to get nervous. Then he looked up. "I’m sorry I said that earlier. About wanting to go evil?"

She let out a breath and stroked her hand down his back. "It’s okay. You owed me."

"It doesn’t bother you?" As he spoke, his lips cruised over her collarbone to her throat.

"That we’ve been lying here a whole minute and haven’t st
art ed again?"

He lifted his head. "What? No— I meant--" His pinched look eased into a sly grin. Then he rolled and pulled her on top of him. His hands found her breasts, his thumbs brushed her nipples, and his hips thrust up, all at the same time.

Cordy groaned. Arched herself into his hands, and reached between them to find *his* soft spot. "Think you can keep up?"

He cupped her head and pulled her to him. "Think *you* can?" He licked her bottom lip, nipped her chin. Angel kissed her gently, his mobile mouth sucking her lips, drawing his tongue across them. "Let’s find out."

She gasped as he moved his mouth over her throat, stalled out at her pulse point.

He kissed his way around her breast, like he was walking a labyrinth of her body. He thrust upward again and this time he was hard.

Cordy closed her eyes and tilted her hips, and there he was, all of him, buried deep.

They smiled at each other. "I do love you," she whispered.

He cupped her cheek. "I know."

"And I know it’s hard for you to say it. So for now, just show me."

Angel’s thumb stroked her lip then he bent to kiss her. He mouthed something against her lips then thrust once, bottoming out.


He woke up alone, knew it as soon as his eyes opened that she was gone. But the bottle was there, on the bedside table. And next to him, on the pillow, was her orange bra.

Angel fingered it, drawing the satin across his skin. Remembering how it had looked on her, how she’d looked as he took it off.

His body tightened. God, he thought, as he scrubbed his hands over his face. If she hadn’t left it behind, he’d wonder if last night really happened.

When was the last time he’d woken up sore from having so much sex? That bordello in Spain, just before he’d lost his soul?

Angel shook his head. Talk about going all night, he thought, as he edged toward the bathroom. He was worn out. But, damn, he missed her, like an ache in his belly. He just wanted to hold her.

She was making him crazy.

He showered, dressed and ate breakfast. Then he hauled himself downstairs, hoping she’d be there.

Just Fred and Wes, heads together over a book. They looked up.

"Good night?" Fred asked.

He glanced at his shoes. "Uh, yeah. Seen Cordy?" He carefully didn’t look at Fred as he angled toward the coffee pot.

He didn’t know what Cordy’d been talking about yesterday. He totally drank coffee all the time.

He took a sip, grimacing at the awful taste, then turned to Fred, who was smirking.

"Sounded like a great night to me." She elbowed Wes.

"What?" Wes glanced up, focused on Angel. His forehead wrinkled. "Did they--?" He glanced at Fred.

She grinned. "I’m’a go call Lorne. He’s gonna plotz!" She hopped off the desk and st
art ed for the phone.

Angel grabbed her arm. "Please don’t."

Wes moved, yanking Angel off of Fred and pinning him to the wall. He poked a stake deep enough into Angel’s chest that Angel’s ribcage bent. "Don’t touch her. Fred, get back!"

"Wes! Wes, it’s okay." Angel used his most soothing voice. "She—Cordy had—" God, why was his sex life always on public display? "She got a potion to keep my soul anchored. It’s okay. I’m not Angelus."

The stake drilled into him. "I don’t believe you."

Cordy appeared around the counter and slapped the stake out of Wes’s hand. "What are you doing?" She got between them, pressed her backside against him and flung her hand out to stop Wes. "Leave him alone. I love him."

Fred giggled.

Wes’s eyes narrowed.

Cordy’s shoulders heaved in a sigh. "Oh, Wes, he’s fine. You think I’d have risked my life for a shag?"

Angel’s hands, which had been creeping around her hips, stilled. "A shag?"

She looked over her shoulder. "Okay, more than a shag. But still—" Cordy crossed her arms and shot Wes a glare. "He’s fine, Stake-meister."

But Wes wasn’t ready to let it go.. "Show me your neck," he said.

Cordy pulled out of Angel’s arms and faced Wes. She turned her head back and forth, even pulled the open neck of her shirt ap
art to expose the tops of her breasts.

Angel slapped his hand over hers, closing her shirt. "What are you doing? Don’t show him that."

She rolled her eyes. "They’re mine to show. Besides, he’s just making sure you didn’t bite me or something, right, Wes?"

He nodded, eyes glazed. "You found a way to anchor his soul?"

"Well, for short periods. Long enough to, you know…." She reached up and took Angel’s hand.

Angel groaned. God, this was what he got for falling in love with Cordelia. Darla would never have done this. Their sex life was theirs, well, unless they chose to share it with other people of course—but this was different. This was…gossip.

"Okay, enough," he snapped. "We’re fine. I’m fine. Thank you for your concern. Now everyone, please leave." He dragged Cordy toward the stairs. "Except you. You come with me."

She squeaked and pawed at his hand. "Will you let me go? I have work to do!"

"No, you don’t." They finally made it out of their co-workers' range of vision. He stopped, pinned her to the wall. "You left."

"So I could shower. Duh." But she was licking that lip, the one she’d taunted him with all night, the one she’d wrapped around him and—

Angel leaned down and sniffed her. "You smelled fine to me." He edged one of her feet to the next stair up, slid his knee between hers.

She rocked against him. "Angel," she whispered. "We’re supposed to be working." But her hands were crawling over his shoulders, down his back, under his arms.

He was already hot, already hard. Angel grabbed her hand and pulled her up the stairs and to his room.

He closed the door behind them and they stood, grinning at each other. "Give me another hit of that stuff," he said. "Better yet, give me two."

She kicked off her shoes, took his hand, and pulled him to the bed.

He lay down beside her, opened his mouth, and kept his eyes on hers as she dribbled the elixir on his tongue. He licked his lips at the sight of her shoulder, clad in see-through fabric, as she put the bottle back on the table.

He put his hand on her nape, trailed his fingers over skin and the harsh rasp of her blouse to the back of her hand. With his other hand, he pushed her head forward and put his lips on her neck.

She shuddered.

He bit her gently, and the feeling of her skin between his teeth had him hard enough to cut steel. He slipped her skirt up, found the cord of a thong nestled in the warm, dark space between her legs.

She was wet, hot as sunlight, and when he pulled the thong aside, she moaned his name.

Angel was lost in her body again, lost in the perfect, peach-shaped ass, in the way she found her knees and let him run his hands over her.

His zipper was killing him, so he unzipped it and set himself free. It was like going into a dream to push into her soft folds. He went slow, knowing she was sore, too, but he couldn’t stop, couldn’t wait, couldn’t—

"Jesus," she said, pushing back against him. She reached between them and he could feel the beat of her hand on her flesh.

It made him hotter, harder, tighter. He was going to come this way, it was gonna be over too soon—

"Give it to me, give it now, Angel, please, give me—"

The words whited him out and he was jerking into her, slamming into that amazing ass, feeling the ebb and flow of her fabric-covered breasts in his palms.

When he came to she was shivering around him, making those little sounds that turned him on. He rose up and ran his hand down her back to her ass, cupped her cheeks, then pulled out and lay down.

She collapsed next to him, giggling. "We still have our clothes on." She propped up on her elbow and ran her fingers over his shirt, up to his mouth. "I missed you." Her brow wrinkled. "It was stupid. I wasn’t even gone, like, two hours, and I still missed you."

He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead. "I don’t like waking up without you."

There was a knock on the door.

"Go away," Angel said. "I’m busy."

Cordy giggled. "I’ll say."

"Angel, Cordy? Wes and I are leaving. Y’all have fun."

"Thank God." Cordy unbuttoned his shirt and found his skin.

He arched up into her hands. In the far reaches of the hotel he could hear the front door slam. He pulled Cordy on top of him. "I wish I had something pithy to say."

Her eyes widened. She stopped sliding his pants down his thighs and looked up at him. "Pithy?" She grinned.

"Yeah, you know, important?"

She leaned over and kissed his chest, dragged her tongue across his nipple. "’Let’s fuck’ isn’t pithy?"

He groaned. "Cordy…."

"Aaaangel." She st
art ed back on his pants, got them down to his knees.

When her mouth wrapped around him, he fisted his hands in her hair. "You make me happy," he said. "In dangerous ways."

"Mmmf," she said, mouth full.

He jumped. "You keep doing that and this will all be over way too soon."

Cordy shimmied up him, one hand still playing with the head of his cock. "I have a feeling this will never be over."

He blinked. "Okay, that was pithy."

"Better now?" She stroked him with her thumb, squeezed him gently.

"Oh, yeah." Already he was lost in her touch, in the warm scent of her body, crazy with the idea that he could do this to her every day and not risk their lives. "I just want to make you happy."

Cordy brought her hand up to his face. "You do." She kissed him. "And you could make me a whole lot happier if you do that thing with your tongue again." She grinned.

He slid his hands under her shirt, trailed his fingers along her laddered ribcage. Through the curtains he could see a sliver of daylight that made his eyes ache and burn. But not as much as when he looked at her.

He kissed her. "Thank you."

She wrapped her arms and legs around him and squeezed. "Any time."


Notes: For angelicgal82 who requested an AU post-Tomorrow fic that explored what might have happened after Groo left…if there had never been a Skip. For good measure, I erased Connor, too. After months of working on two very long, very dark stories, it sure was nice to take a walk in the sun.

Thanks: Thanks to angelicgal82 for the challenge and to psychofilly for the thumbs up on the first section. Otherwise, this is unbeta'd, so if you see any errors, write me at the email addy above and point them out for me.