by Tesla


Angel's car smelled of smoke, because he had what was left of his possessions in the trunk. He'd gone back inside, somehow, and got some weapons and his other pair of boots. The salvaged stuff from their office was in her dining room in a couple of file boxes. Cordelia couldn't really care, because despite the loss of her Prada flats---okay, that did sting---Wesley and Angel weren't blown up or burned in the explosion, and nothing could have replaced them. Angel could, of course, replace the shoes, and she fully planned on having him do so.

But the car still smelled rank.

Cordelia and Wesley were discharged from the hospital on the same evening, which made it easier for Angel to take them both home. "How long did the doctor say for you to rest, Cordelia?" Wesley asked, turning stiffly in the front seat.

"At least a week. They pumped a lot of drugs in me, and I bet he still thinks I was having a bad acid trip."

"Psychotic episode, actually," said Wesley, smiling.

"I told them we thought someone had spiked your coffee," Angel said, his head raised to the rear view mirror. Cordelia could tell that he was looking at her, but, of course, she couldn't see his eyes.

"That was good thinking, since the coffee pot burned up," she said, impressed. "Very sneaky. I must be rubbing off on you."

Angel snorted, and pulled up to the curb in front of Wesley's apartment.

Cordelia leaned forward and kissed Wesley on his unburned cheek. "Don't get on that bike. Take a taxi. If you need anything, call us, since I have a baby- sitter. Angel, weren't you going to give Wesley some money for taxis?"

Angel was already outside the car and opening the passenger door. "I was going to be discreet about it," he said, gently taking Wesley's arm and helping him out. "Cordy---no---wait--"

Cordelia was already scrambling out of the rear seat. She had a sudden head rush, and leaned against the car. "Whoo. Dizzy."

Angel took her upper arm in an ungentle grasp and steered her into the seat. "Don't move. I'll be right back."

"Yeah, you're discreet," she said, rubbing her arm. "Call me, Wesley, to see if we're still alive! Well, if I'm still alive."

Wesley turned and grinned at her behind Angel's back. Which, now that she thought about it, was pretty nice.

Angel came back in a few minutes, and got in the car without speaking.

"So, did he have any food in there?" she asked, poking him in the arm.

"No, but he ordered Chinese. He'll come over tomorrow." Angel started the engine and put the car in gear. "I'll go get your dinner after I take you home."

"Blood, too," she said. "If you're going to stay for a week, I don't want you looking at my neck." At his frown, she said, "I joke, yet you don't laugh. Well, it'll take time before I'm back at full quip strength."

"I think you're doing just fine," he said. "You know, David Nabbitt offered to hire a nurse for you, and I started thinking, maybe I should have done that, rather than impose---"

"Are you crazy? A nurse? With Dennis?" she yelped.

"Oh," Angel said. "Would he be a problem?"

"Well, I'd have to pretend he wasn't there, because a nurse will tell my doctor, 'That girl's still psychotic,' if I don't. Besides, where will you stay? And don't tell me you'd rather stay with Wesley than me and Dennis!" She summoned up what she thought of as the killer pout. "Fine. You'd rather be reading moldy old books and brewing tea with him, and I thought you could help me move my couch since you have the super-strength, and ---" she ended on a pathetic, breathless note.

His shoulders were hunched. "Okay, okay, I'll stay. I'll move your couch."

"And cook breakfast?"

"Oh, I knew there was more," he grumbled, but he didn't mean it. Angel loved cooking. It was odd, since he almost never ate. Once in a while, he would absent-mindedly crunch a triangle of toast or a strip of bacon. She thought of how Xander always said, "Mm, bacon," like Homer Simpson.

She hadn't thought of Xander for a long time. How weird was that?

Cordelia wouldn't admit it, but the sedatives and psychotropic meds had made her feel a little strange.

She nearly went to sleep over the soup and sandwich Angel had brought her, and didn't realize it until he was pulling her out of the kitchen chair and propelling her to her bedroom. "I'll clean up," he said firmly, and she had gone to sleep listening to him washing her dishes. The ones that had been in the sink when she left for work, that last day in the office, she remembered with horror, with the burned spaghetti sauce all crusted in the pan.

Oh, well. Vampire. Not going to go to sleep, soon, anyway.

The visions were flickering in and out of her dreams, almost enough to wake her up. Then, the dreams changed, and she was back in Sunnydale. Only, this time, Xander was impaled on the rebar, and she couldn't get to him. He lay with his hand curved around the bar, bleeding, and he looked up at her and kept apologizing. "I'm so sorry, Cordy," he said, his eyes wide. "I'm so sorry."

Then he exploded into ash.

"Xander!" She said, sitting up in bed.

It wasn't a vision. Her head didn't hurt.

"Cordy?" Angel's voice was very soft, outside her closed bedroom door. If she wanted to, she could pretend she was still asleep. She started to tell him she was fine, it was just a dream, but when she opened her mouth, a sob came out instead of words.

The door opened, "Cordy?" He came into the room, the soft light from the living room lamp falling across the foot of her bed. "Did you have a vision about Xander?"

She wiped her eyes with the corner of the sheet. "No, a dream about old stuff."

Angel sat down beside her, and smoothed her hair from her forehead. "Old stuff?"

"Yeah, I dreamed he got impaled instead of me. Then he got dusted." She hitched up a pillow and leaned back. "I really loved him, you know. And then when I found him with Willow---it broke my heart." Her voice broke

"I remember. You almost got killed." He put his hand, palm up, on her knee, and she put her hand in his. He squeezed it.

"It hurt so badly that I wished I had died," she said. "I wished Buffy had never come to Sunnydale." His grip tightened.

"Well, I would never have come to Sunnydale, and we wouldn't have met, so maybe that wasn't such a bad thing to wish," he said, his thumb rubbing over the back of her hand, over the bruise from the I.V. needle.

"Well, my Daddy would still not have paid his taxes, and I'd still be here, only I'd be in that roach motel of an apartment instead of here with Dennis---and you."

Angel half-smiled. "Not sorry, then? Even after last week?"

"Hey, buster, not every girl has two dead roommates! And the visions-- -sure, they're no picnic, but the Powers let me have them for a reason. Even if I could get rid of them, I wouldn't---you're not getting rid of me that easily."

"I don't want to get rid of you," he said, putting her hand back on the covers. He bent, and, after a fractional hesitation, kissed her forehead. "Go back to sleep, Cordy."

She slid down under the coverlet, smiling.



The next evening was nice and mild, so Cordelia talked the guys into going to the beach. "If I don't get out of the apartment, I'm going to scream," she said. "And you know I can scream."

So here she was on a blanket, on the sand, watching Wesley drink tea from a Thermos, and Angel watch the crowd on the tiny boardwalk.

"I'm going to get an ice cream cone," she announced, and got her feet under her.

Predictably, the big brooder looked up. "I'll get it. What flavor?"

She narrowed her eyes. "I wanted to see the flavors. Surprise me." She handed him a couple of dollars, and she and Wesley watched him walk off. No doubt, she was with two guys who had no clue as to what "casual wear" meant.

"I bet he gets me vanilla," she said, sitting back down on the edge of the blanket.

"I'm still researching, " Wesley said in his quiet voice, "but, you know, in a strange way, I'm not as concerned about him as I was before---" he coughed.

"Wolfram and Hart attacked us? I was thinking the same thing. Who knew that he didn't need a puppy, when he had us?"

"I think we were wrong. Angel was connected to the world all along, we just didn't realize it," Wesley said. "I must say, when I woke up and saw Gunn looming over me, I didn't know what was happening. Gunn said that Angel was extremely worried."

"I would have thought pissed off," Cordelia said. She smiled. "He did cut off that lawyer's hand to get the scroll." She batted her eyes. "Kind of super-hero movie- ish."

"Yes, Angel's very territorial. I didn't realize that I was part of the territory," Wesley said.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Oh, please. We're his family. You and I." She wriggled her toes in the sand. "Which is kind of sad, actually."

"What's sad?" Angel said, behind her.

She twisted her head to look up at him. "You are," she said. He was smirking, and she took the ice cream suspiciously. In the half-light from the boardwalk, she couldn't see the color plainly. She took a cautious lick. "Peach," she said, surprised.

"That's right," he said, sitting down between them, and stretching out on his back. He looked up at her, innocently. "You thought I'd bring you vanilla?"

She held the cone over his shirt. "This whole super-hearing and super- smelling thing---- so unfair."

"Hey, don't drip---"

"Oops. Too late."

Angel sat up, frantically dabbing at his shirt front.

"Psych," Cordelia said, and slurped a bite of ice cream.

Wesley started laughing, and had to hold one hand on his ribs.

"Yes, I so got you," she crowed. "I rule, and you da fool!"

Angel very deliberately tilted the ice cream towards him and took a long lick.

Cordy had to swallow hard. Down, girl. It was just Angel. Vampire, dead, your boss?

"Oh, great, now it's got vampire cooties. Wesley, don't vampires have cooties?"

"I may have to research it," Wesley said, straight-faced. "It's possible."

"Look, you got something on my cone!" she said, examining it. "Great."

"I did not---" Angel began. He took it from her hand and started to look at it. Just as she snaked her hand out to shove it in his face, he pushed the ice cream in her face.

The entire scoop fell into her cleavage.

Wesley stopped laughing.

Cordelia looked up, with an awful expression, but at the sight of the guys' horrified faces, she burst out laughing. With two fingers, she flicked the lump of melting ice cream out onto the sand. "You two are pathetic. And, might I remind you, Mr. Destiny and Restitution, that payback's a bitch and so am I?" She licked her fingers, smiling inwardly.

Oh, yeah, she still had it.



Even in the horrorific visions and the mind-bending pain, Cordelia had known that Angel was with her. She just couldn't see him, push past the sights, the smells, the agonies of the lost and the endangered, to get to him.

She could hold his hand, though, and she knew that an infinitely long amount of time passed in the terror between the time he first held her hand, and when he returned. The second time, though, the visions faded, and she was able to see his strained, pale face above her. Then she felt a second, warmer hand, and Wesley, burned and bandaged in a wheel chair, sat holding her right hand.

The nurses said that her boss had barely left her side, except to go check on Wesley. He had said he was family. She had teased Wesley out of his sentimentality, but she kind of got a lump in her throat, too. Angel was family, and the prophecy said he was going to die.

If someone had appeared to her during Angelus' reign in Sunnydale, and told Cordelia that she'd be sniffling at the idea of him dying, she'd have asked them if she could have some of their drugs.

Now, she sat up in bed, and reached for the clock. One in the morning. Well, she knew someone else who would be awake.

She pulled on a long sweatshirt over her pajamas, and went out into the living room. Angel was sprawled on the couch, head propped on his fist, watching an old movie. He had part of the newspaper under his elbow. In the flickering blue light of the television, he looked like an ordinary guy, sitting at his girlfriend's apartment.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

"Bad dreams again?" he asked, raising his head.

"Sorta," she said.

Angel scooped the newspaper up and made room for her to sit down. He looked at her, and swiped his thumb along her temple. "You've been crying again," he said. "Wanna tell me about them? Dennis, can you get---thanks." A box of tissue floated to his hand. She closed her eyes and let him wipe her face.

"Were you dreaming about Xander?" he asked.

"No," she said, opening her eyes in surprise. "I think I forgave him a long time ago... when he bought me a dress for the prom. He didn't tell anybody that I was working, that my family had lost their money. That's when I knew I couldn't hate him any more."

She crossed her legs under her on the cushion. "Xander was sorry. He begged me to forgive him a hundred times, but I couldn't. But I haven't felt angry at him for a long, long time. I think it has something to do with being a new person, now. Not the same old one I was before I went to the hospital."

"I think you were changing for a long time before that," Angel said. His arm was across the back of the couch behind her, and she felt his fingers pet her hair. "People can't help but change."

"Even you change," she said, smiling. "You're not so much with the broody, now."

"Well, I lost the bat-cave, didn't I? Isn't that what you and---Doyle- --called it?"

She tilted the back of head against his stroking hand. "You heard us?"

"I couldn't help but hear the two of you, sometimes," he said. "I still think of him."

"I do too. But Wesley's pretty good to have around." She pulled the cushion out from under her knees. "I'm not sleepy. You mind if I stay out here for a while?"

"Nope," Angel said.

Cordelia put the cushion on his knees, and lay down on it. She felt Angel's hand lightly stroking her hair. "That feels good," she said, her eyes closing.

The next thing she knew, it was morning and she was in her bed.

Who knew that Grumpy McGrump, the mayor of Grumpytown, could be so sweet?



After the first few days of Angel's stay in the apartment, Cordelia realized that he wasn't taking his turn sleeping in her bedroom. She was vastly irritated. She didn't need to lie in bed any more, and in fact, had most of her energy. back. It only made sense that he slept while she was up, because, hello? Vampire? Creature of the night? And besides, when she had stayed at his place, he'd given up his bedroom to her. After she'd made him feel boorish if he didn't, of course.

He sat on the couch, at ten A.M., his eyelids closing like he was some large kid past his bedtime, and only murmured in response when she said anything.

"So Wesley'll be over Wednesday after he gives birth to the demon spawn," she said, briskly, sitting down beside him and patting his knee. "Then we'll drown 'em, okay?"

"Mmph," Angel agreed. After a moment, he said, "Huh?"

"Angel. Stop being a pain. It makes me tired to see you. Go to bed."

"What about Wesley?" he asked, sitting straighter.

"Wesley will be over on Wednesday morning, because he has to be get his stitches out today. If I have a vision first, you can call him. I want to enjoy my time off, and you're making me feel tired. Go. Lie. Down."

With a weary sigh, Angel stood up and went down the little hall to her bedroom. She followed, suspicious. She heard the mattress creak, heard two thumps--the boots--and silence. After she took a load of laundry downstairs, she opened her bedroom door a sliver.

He was lying on top of the covers, sound asleep and fully dressed.

She frowned to herself. Weird.

The next morning, she stripped the bed and asked Angel to help her turn the mattress, which he did easily. She tossed the end of a fresh sheet to him.

"Here, help me, since you're standing there," she ordered, in her best bossy voice.

Smiling slightly, he helped her make up the bed, and his corners were tighter than hers were. She smoothed the comforter over the sheets. "I love fresh sheets on a bed."

Angel straightened up, and tossed the pillows back against the headboard. "Cordy, you just got out of the hospital a few days ago. If you want to---"

"Why don't you go to bed? Is the room not dark enough?" she demanded. "It's your bedtime, Angel! Don't you like my bed?"

Angel looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "No! I mean, yes, it's fine." He took a breath. "Why are we having this conversation?"

"Because you're acting all uncomfortable and weird! I'm not gonna molest you, if you go to sleep like a normal---person."

He sighed, so put upon. "Okay," he said.

At noon, Dennis helpfully opened her door so she could check. Angel was a lump under the bedclothes. Snoring. Which was kind of cute and cuddly for a vampire.

"I guess he has to get broody about something," she told Dennis. Dennis shook the door a little before closing it, which didn't tell her anything. "Maybe I should get a Ouija board."



Things were as normal as they could be with Cordelia going on auditions now and then, and the three of them running Angel Investigations from her living room.

Then, a couple, no, three weeks later, Angel started the weirdness again with not wanting to sleep, not wanting to go to her bedroom.

This time, she felt embarrassed, and then, irritated. Again. She waited until Wesley went home, and then sat down on the couch with Angel. He raised his head, his finger on his place in "The Fountainhead."

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked bluntly. "That you don't want to sleep in my sheets when I'm having my period?"

He blinked. "Not that you can do anything about it. It's just a...vampire thing. Blood. You don't like thinking about me, and what"

"I can handle what you are," she said coolly. "You can't handle what I am, which is, female. I'm not all, ew! Can't talk about menstrual cycles! I did a tampon commercial!"

"I thought you didn't get that---"

"Well, I spent two hours holding a tampon and cooing like it was made by Versace! I'm not thirteen! All you had to say was, clean sheets!"

"Look, Cordy, the idea was to keep you from any going to any trouble. I didn't want to get into it," he sighed, "and yet, here we are."

They sat in silence, Angel looking back down at his book, Cordelia looking at him.

"What?" he asked, not lifting his gaze.

"Me. Bleeding. Does it make you want to bite me?"

He closed the book. "No more than when you have a cut." He looked straight into her eyes. "Makes me want to do other things." He stood up, tossing the book on the couch where he'd been sitting. "I'm going out." He snagged his coat from the hall and was gone.

"Oh, that went well," she told Dennis.

He ruffled the pages of the book in reply. "The Fountainhead? He reads the weirdest stuff."



The next day, she had a vision as she was coming into the living room. She had a brief instant of seeing that Angel was back on her couch, before the seizure.

harbor/monster/beach/under the pier/sea monster/two horns/kids/three/tonight

She came back to reality, as she had so often, cradled in Angel's arms. She was weeping.

"I've got you," he said, smoothing the hair from her face. "Take a deep breath. Dennis, water?"

"Tonight, a monster is going to come out of the water, just under the pier. It has two horns, and three teenagers are up for his next meal." She took a breath. "Right where we went for ice cream when we got out of the hospital."

"Okay, Wes and I will get it tonight. Take these," he handed her two painkillers, and then held the bottle of water to her lips. He smoothed her forehead with his palm, and pressed his lips to the space between her eyebrows. "I hate how you suffer," he said.

She sighed, and nestled her head on his shoulder. He picked her up and carried her into her bedroom. Dennis had already pulled the blinds and curtains shut, and he turned on the bedside lamp.

When Angel bent to lay her down, she clung to him. "Stay," she said. "Just until I go to sleep. You've been up all night."


"Dennis will let him in," she said. "Please, Angel. It bothers me."

"Okay," he said, and she let go of his shirt. He bent and untied his boots, and then lay down beside her.

She put her head on his shoulder, pulling up the comforter over them both.

"Just so you don't worry." His voice was already sinking.

"I know," she sighed, feeling his skin warm under the cloth of his shirt. She put her hand on his chest, and his arm came around her.

"Because I don't enjoy snuggling up with you one bit," he said into her hair. He yawned.

"And you're not sleepy at all," she said, her eyes closed. She heard the bedroom door click shut.

"Nmh-uh," he murmured.

They slept.



Later that night, the sea monster was messily dead, and Angel was off with the car at the all-night car wash. Wesley was cleaning his axe in the kitchen sink.

"That demon goo isn't corrosive, is it? I mean, yeah, ghost, but still---rental." Cordelia still had a faint ache across her eyebrows. She drew her fingertips across her forehead, remembering how she had awakened alone in bed, feeling unaccountably lonely.

Like she needed to be all pathetic crush-girl on her boss. Vampire, curse, undead.

Ignoring her question, Wesley sat down with his ax and paper towels. "Something on your mind, Cordelia?"

"Yeah, actually, there is. Do you think it's possible for Angel to ever be perfectly happy again?"

To his credit, Wesley didn't stop polishing the ax blade. "No, I don't. I think it's the very nature of perfection to be ephemeral. Angel was in a completely different set of circumstances in Sunnydale. Then, he had no friends, and he was completely invested in his romantic relationship with Buffy. Now, there's...more. The possibility of Shanshu, the work here, you, me, Gunn, Kate. Lindsey McDonald and the rest at Wolfram and Hart; we all connect him to the world and he's concerned about it. He thinks about people as individuals to help, instead of abstract humanity to save."

Cordelia didn't change her expression. Looking at him through her fingers, she said, "Basically, I meant, would he go evil if---"

"Yes, yes, I understood. I don't think so." He looked up. "I wondered---he was so distraught---hm."

She traced an invisible figure on the table top with her finger. "Funny that you and I would be having this conversation, huh? After everything in Sunnydale?"

Wesley smiled, and covered her hand with his. "Believe me, as much as I admired you then, it's nothing to how much I admire you now."

Cordelia thought she was going to cry. Again.

Dennis rattled the silverware in the dish rack.

"I think Dennis agrees," Wesley said, letting go of her hand and inspecting the ax blade.

Cordelia sniffed. She leaned back and addressed the air. "What d'you think, Dennis? Think Mr. Don't-put-that-in-the-dryer likes me? I mean, likes me as a girl and not a war buddy?"

The silverware rattled emphatically.

"Well, now it's conclusive,' Wesley said dryly. He raised one eyebrow at her. "War buddy?"

"We've been through the wars, haven't we? All the way from Sunnydale."

They heard Dennis open the front door.

"Hiya, Dennis," came Angel's voice. "Hey, guys? I got ice cream!"

"What could be more wholesome?" Wesley asked her.

"Oh, yeah," she said. "Just an all-American dead boy."



Realizing that Angel had a little crush on her made Cordelia feel more like the old Queen C than she had for months. 'Cause, that's what guys did, whether human, half-demon, and now, vampire: have crushes on the fabulousness that was Cordelia. Okay, that was a little over the top, she thought, but now she realized, she didn't have a crush on Angel. She was just reacting to his crush on her.

That lasted until about three. "I don't want him to have a crush on me," she told Dennis. "He's my boss, and a vampire, and my roommate right now."

Dennis rattled the silverware in the dishrack. "Yes, but you're not going to get all icky on me, Dennis. We're pals." The coffee cup clacked emphatically on the counter. "Exactly. I think." The coffee cup moved from side to side. "We're not pals? Dennis, I can't stand here and guess all day."

"Guess what?" Angel said. He came in, towelling his hair. "Cordy, if you like my shower gel so much, I'll buy you your own bottle."

Cordy snorted. "Yeah, right, Mr. Big Spender." She pointed at the refrigerator. "And you owe me for the blood, so we're even, 'kay?"

As she expected, mentioning his blood made him back off, for a second. "How much do I owe you?" he asked.

"Nuh-uh. Like you have any money on you, buster."

"I have money," he said, his expression closing up.

"I'd smell it," she said triumphantly. "You said so, yourself. That's how I used to find the petty cash."

"I used to hide it so you could find it," Angel said, looking at the fridge. She knew he didn't want to take the blood out and heat it up with her standing there.

Too bad.

"Oh, like a pet, huh? Hide the dog biscuit, see how long the puppy can find it?" Cordelia saw his eyes flick towards the fridge again. "Hey, want me to nuke your blood for you?"

"I'll do it," he said shortly.

"Okay," Cordy said, and went to the living room to pick up her coffee cup. She heard the refrigerator door open, then heard the pings of the microwave pad. She went back in the kitchen. Angel was leaning on the counter, arms folded. He looked at her under lowered brows, but didn't say anything.

She poured herself a cup of coffee. The microwave pinged.

Angel took the mug of blood out, and stood there.

"Hey, we can have a cup together," she said, sitting down. "C'mon."

He looked at her, and she saw comprehension dawn. "You're baiting me."

"Well, duh."

He sat down with her. "Why, Cordy?"

"Well, we're back to blood. You can't deal with it, can you? I mean, I'm okay with you being a vampire."

He stared at her.

"You know what I mean," she said impatiently.

"Not even half the time," Angel said, and absent-mindedly took a drink of his blood.

The front door opened, and she heard Wesley say, "Hello, Dennis. Still only two dead people here? Or, no bits of vampire dust in the carpet? Excellent."

"In here," Cordy called. "You want a cup of coffee or one of blood?" She gave Angel a soliticious look. "You choke on something?"

"No," he sighed. "Hello, Wesley."

Wesley smiled at them. "I got an unexpected telephone call this morning," he said, sitting down. "Oh, Cordy, you don't have to---thank you." He took a drink of his coffee.

Cordelia sat back down. "Wes, you look positively gleeful. It's scaring me. Give."

"Giles called me. It seems that he needed a very rare book---and I'm the only one on the West Coast who owns it."

Angel raised an eyebrow. "Score one for the ex-Watcher."

"Yes----I mean, no, naturally one doesn't gloat that a mere civilian's personal library is more thorough than----well, of course, he's a mere civilian, too." Wesley suddenly grinned. "Yes. It was very gratifying. Nothing urgent, of course, just some research he's working on. And, Cordelia, guess who's coming down to fetch it?"

"Giles?" she asked. She put her hand on Angel's forearm. Giles wouldn't be crazy enough to send Buffy, would he?

"No, Xander Harris," Wesley said.

She let go of Angel's arm. "Xander," she said, surprised. Then she smiled. "Xander!"

Angel got up and washed out his mug, his back to her.



If Xander had any trepidation about going to Cordelia's apartment, he didn't show it. When she opened the door, there he stood, just as tall, broad shouldered, dark mocha chocolate eyed, and badly dressed, as ever. In her mind's eye, Cordy saw the "paid" ticket on her evening gown, and threw her arms around his neck.

Maybe Xander had been a little worried, because she felt him relax in her arms, and hug her back, hard. "Cordy," he said. "I missed you, Cordy!"

"Me, too," she said. She let him go, and took his hand and pulled him inside. "Did Giles tell you about Dennis?"

Xander looked wary again. "Uh, no. Boyfriend? Roommate?"

"Kinda sorta----he's my ghost roommate."

"Oh. Glad to meet you, Dennis," Xander said to the ambient air. Cordelia was obscurely pleased. It took more than ghostly roommates to faze a Scooby, as she was constantly telling Wesley.

"Hey, Wes! So you're out-Giling Giles these days! Way to go!" Xander looked sideways at Cordelia. "So, you two still dating?" He darted a look of pure Harris devilment at her. Way to lose the warm fuzzies, Xander.

"Good lord, no," Wesley said, unblinkingly. "That would be terribly incestuous." He took off his glasses and looked at an imaginary speck. "You're the one with the taste for the extremely outspoken women, I seem to remember. How is Anya?"

Xander ducked his head, acknowledging defeat. "She's fine."

"Delightful woman. Most interesting stories," Wesley said, putting his glasses back on. "Let me get the book for you."

She had forgotten that Xander and Angel didn't like each other. Angel covered it well, but she could tell by the stiffness of his shoulders that he wasn't happy at all.

"Still got cold hands," Xander said, shaking Angel's.

Angel smiled thinly. "Can't do a lot about it," he said.

Cordelia opened her mouth to say something diplomatic, but what came out was, "Angel," in a tiny voice, as the vision crashed across her eyesight.

A creature in an alley, that night, and Xander cut off its head with Angel's sword. "Santa Monica," she gasped, "Xander has to go with you." She put one hand on her mouth, and turned her head into Angel's arm, throat burning.

"Xander," she heard him say, "could you bring her a glass of water? Wesley, the good pills are on the mantel." Then, his voice gentler, Angel said, "Bed or couch?" to her.

"Couch," she said, nauseated. "And a Coke."

Angel scooped her up and set her on the couch. She didn't want to open her eyes, and after a second, he stayed beside her, gripping her hand. "Xander kills it, tonight," she said.

"Sh, sh," Angel murmured. "In a minute."

When she opened her eyes, though, she saw Xander kneeling in front of her with a Coke. She took her hand away from Angel's to reach for the glass.



"So I was in the vision, killing a monster?" Xander said, pleased. "Cool."

"Well, you've certainly had years of experience doing it," Wesley said. "And he was using Angel's sword."

"How do you know it was my sword?" Angel objected. "It could have been---fine."

"Once again, key guy," Xander said. "Funny how that is."

"No, usually people starring in Cordy's visions are the victims," Angel said. He was looking through the tiny coat closet. "Cordy, where're the swords? And I know my throwing ax is here."

Her bedroom door opened.

"Dennis says it's in the bedroom," Cordy said, her feet up on the couch. "Yeah, I think they're all under the bed, wrapped in that tapestry from your place.

"Does he live here, or something?" Xander asked her, as Angel disappeared into the bedroom. "I mean---his clothes are in the closet. There's guy stuff in the bathroom. And, speaking as one who's had a vamp roommate, blood in the fridge."

"You're quite the detective," Cordy said, rubbing her forehead. "Yeah, actually, Angel does live here. For now. Since the bad guys blew up his building. And I got zapped with psychotic visions and needed someone here with me."

"Yeah, but, him? Why not, and I can't believe I'm saying this, Wesley?"

Wesley didn't look up from his map. "A concussion, broken rib, 10 stitches and, I seem to recall, a nasty sunburn."

"Wesley was in the building when it blew up," Cordelia said. She sat up, shuddering. "I still can't believe it. I can't believe we're all alive." Her eyes went to Angel, coming back in with his sword and ax. "Or, more or less."

Wesley folded his map. "Xander, you can come back to my place for the night. There's no telling how long this will take, and it's best if you don't start right back for Sunnydale."

"Uh---" Xander said, giving Cordelia a Look. Help me, it said. Save me from English Breakfast Tea.

"Oh, but I wanted Xander here," she said. "We need to talk and everything."

Angel tucked the ax under his arm. "Then I'll stay with Wesley," he said smoothly.

"Really?" Wesley said. "Well, I must say----I'll have to get some blood."

"I'll eat before we go," Angel said. "You still have Guinness, don't you?"

"Oh, of course. My couch is quite comfortable, and it's westward- facing."

"And Angel's just dying to take you on in Boggle," Cordelia said. She laughed as Angel gave her a very old-fashioned look.

"I think we need to head out and get this thing," Angel said. "Come on, key guy."

So, as usual, there she was at one in the morning, covered with demon gunk, having fought the good fight and banished the last headache pain from her vision. Xander was still hyped up from his success at demon-killing. It was amazing how guys did all act the same. He and Angel and Wesley were still discussing how the thing had popped out of the sewer and used the manhole cover as a Frisbee. All Cordelia wanted was a bath and bed. She remembered, with dismay, that she'd swapped roommates. Instead of the broody, quiet one, she had Xander, who'd never stopped talking since kindergarten.

She groaned inwardly, as Angel came up with her and collected his few things in a gym bag, and a clean shirt. "What's up?" he asked. "Head still hurt?"

"No," she sighed. "I---take that pillow, you know Wesley won't have two. What about towels?"

Angel gave her an opaque look. "How long were you planning on me staying with Wesley? Do you want me to leave?"

"That's a big leap. You---" she looked him up and down. "Don't have any goop on you at all." She pushed at his arm. "Why are you clean?"

"I ducked," he said. "Cordelia. Cordy, I---" The front door opened, and Angel stepped back. Xander came in, all hyper good cheer.

"Okay, point me to the shower," Xander said. "Wes is in the convertible." He displayed a bundle of clothes. "He lent me some sweats. Is that guy always prepared, or what?"

"See you later," Cordelia said wistfully to Angel.

He didn't seem to hear.



Actually, it wasn't bad. Xander took a shower, and Cordy dozed on the couch waiting for him to finish. She knew what it was like getting demon goo out of your hair, and actually, once she washed her face and hands in the kitchen sink, she found that it was only her clothes that were dirty. So, while Xander was thumping around in her shower, she stripped and put on her robe.

It was two in the morning. A weird time to be awake, unless you were from Sunnydale.

Xander came out, drying his hair, and she had an odd sense of deja vu. "Hey, Cordy, is this what life in the big city's like? 'Cause it's kinda exactly like Sunnydale, except you have to drive to get to the monster."

She slid her feet up, making room for him on the couch. "Pretty much. The Powers That Be aren't that great with the timing, either. So far, Angel's always been there to catch me when I fall."

"Yeah, you seem pretty cozy with Dead Boy," Xander said. "Kinda weird having him stay here."

"I hear you've had a vampire rooming with you, too," Cordelia said coolly. "At least my vampire has a soul."

Xander winced. "Yeah, Willow talks too much. But, Spike's all chipped, courtesy of the government. Kind of a fangless wonder, now. He can kill other demons, and that's cheered him up a bit. But he's not--- okay, he's not Angel." He perked up. "Riley's kind of a cool guy, though."

"Oh, yeah. Buffy made sure to rub Riley in Angel's face," Cordelia said. Something about Xander made her want to argue. Like a reflex. She fluffed the little pillow up. "And, Wesley's cracks aside----how is Anya?"

Xander gave her a lopsided grin. "She's a trip, all right." She felt him study her. "You've changed, Cordy." At her raised eyebrow, he added, "It---looks good on you."

She raised both eyebrows. "Duh!"

They burst out laughing.

Cordelia eventually dozed off again, and woke up, near dawn, to find herself curled at one end and Xander at the other. Stiffly, she got to her feet, and pulled Xander's feet down. He didn't wake up, just stretched out, and she dropped the throw blanket on him, before staggering to finish out the night in bed.

About two hours later, Xander got up and brought in Egg McMuffins. They were still eating when Wesley came in.

"Gotta say, Dennis, you're handy to have around," Xander said. "So, you can see who's out there? You're better than a security system." He wiped his mouth and hands off with the paper napkins. "Well, Cordy, Wesley, it's been, uh, just like home." He shook hands with Wesley. "Didn't bring Dead Boy with you?"

Wesley shook his head. "He's asleep. We stayed up for quite a while. Playing Boggle, of course," he said to Cordelia.

She choked.

"I remembered a cross-reference I discovered, and I made a copy of it for Giles," Wesley continued, and gave Xander a manila folder. "You will take care of the original, of course."

"Gosh, Wes, I hope I don't forget and leave it on top of the car like I did with my English book, that time." Xander grinned at Cordelia. "Remember?"

"How could I forget?" She stood up and hugged him. "Give my love to everyone in Sunnydale. Except Spike, of course."

"Spike!" Wesley said. "Good God!"

Xander carefully tucked the papers and his book into his old book bag, and they walked him to his little car.

"He seems----very much the same," Wesley said diplomatically.

"Yeah, well, he thinks I'm all haggard and aged," Cordelia said, leading the way. "Have you eaten? There's still an Egg McMuffin."

"Cordelia, now you're just fishing," Wesley said. "Where's the McMuffin?"



Angel returned promptly at dusk, just after Wesley left on his motorcycle to play darts somewhere. He hinted at money being wagered, and Cordelia had wished him luck.

"Money," she told Dennis. "Hah. Maybe Angel and I should go down and see exactly what he's up to with those...dart sharks." She looked in the refrigerator. "Well, he has to come home soon," she said, not bothering to define "he" to Dennis. "His blood is here." There was a knock at the front door. "And so is he," she said. "Let 'im in if it's him."

Angel came in, muttering, "Thanks, Dennis." He was carrying the spare pillow in his bag, and his coat over one arm. He had pink slime in his hair and on his shirt. "Sluger demon," he said. "This shirt is dry clean only." He dumped his coat and bag on the couch, and stood there for a second, an odd look on his face. "Xander gone?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "No, he's hiding in the closet. He's long gone."

Angel stood there looking at the couch for a moment. "So---everything okay with you two?" he asked stiffly. He sat down on the couch to unlace his boots, head down. "Never mind."

"Sure," she said, leaning in the doorway. She watched him take off his shoes and run his hand over the couch. "Why?"

"Nothing happen?" he asked, expressionless.

"What's with the twenty questions, Angel?"

"Nothing," Angel said. "I'm gonna shower, if that's all right." He got up, and, not looking at her, went into the bathroom.

She looked at the closed door with narrowed eyes. If she didn't know better, she think he was jealous of Xander.

She got a small, pleased smile on her face.

He was jealous of Xander. He could smell them both on the couch.

The water started in the shower. Cordelia straightened up and crossed to the bathroom and knocked on the door. No response. "Angel!" she called. He ignored her.

She opened the door. "Angel!" The shower curtain moved slightly. She stepped to the toilet and flushed it.

Angel yanked back the curtain, holding his towel up with one hand. "Jesus, Cordy! What?"

He looked kinda cute with his hair all wet.

"I wanna talk to you!" she said. "Now!"

He wrapped the towel around his hips and stepped out onto the mat. "What the hell now?" he asked. "Huh? I'm listening, Cordelia!"

"Why are you being so weird?" Cordelia demanded. Her eyes kept straying to Angel's poochy tummy. Weird that he'd be so lean, but still have that cute little roll----she jerked her eyes up to his face.

"You came in here and started yelling at me," Angel said, one hand on the towel, and both, almost visibly, on his temper. "I don't think I'm the weird one."

"Yes, you are, you're being all broody and pissy and---and a bad roommate!"

"I don't come in the bathroom while you're in the shower, " he said. "I don't know why---" he backed her up against the door. The shower was still running.

"Listen, buster! You've been weird since Xander came, and he's gone now, and you're still weird, and I don't like it!" She poked his bare chest. "I just want you to know---" she stopped.

He looked thoroughly irritated. "What? What the hell do you---"

"Vision," she said, and pitched forward.

Oh, God, kids. Scared little kids. A night-time daycare and a minivan full of little kids, and vamps surrounding it and breaking the windows. The kids were so scared, so scared, and the driver thought it was a carjacking and was trying to let them have them have the vehicle, but they wanted the kids--- she felt their terror and their tears even more than the headache. The street sign---the cross street---the name of the daycare----a vamp had her by the throat, and she was so afraid and she wanted her mommy, her daddy, and she was so afraid.

"I'm afraid," Cordelia was sobbing into Angel's bare shoulder. He was rubbing her between the shoulder blades, shushing her, rocking her. Her numbed fingers could only find his bare skin to clutch, and it should have been odd but it wasn't.

"I got it, Cordy, I got it all," he said, rocking her. "I'll call Wesley and Gunn, we'll take care of it." They were crouched on her wet bathroom floor.

She brought up one hand to swipe at her nose, and that's when she realized she was clutching Angel's bare hip with the other. She jerked away as if she were burned. He was staring at her, his eyes big and soft and brown--- she wouldn't look at him as she scrabbled away. "I'm still mad at you," she sobbed, yanking a length of toilet paper from the roll and blowing her nose.

He stood up, and his long strong calves were at eye level. "I'm sorry, Cordy." He was pissed off again, and he stalked out of the bathroom to get dressed. She heard the shower turn off, and the door click.

"Thanks, Dennis." She lay on the damp bath map. Her pills floated down to her hand, and a glass of water. "You're the best. I'm just gonna stay here for a little bit." She curled up, and felt her robe drop around her.

She went to sleep.

She woke up to Angel's voice, and his hand on her shoulder. "Cordy!" Angel sounded frightened, and she sat up, a hand to her head. He was kneeling beside her, his black coat around him like Batman's cape. "You scared me," he said unnecessarily, and before she could say anything, he was hugging her. "I didn't know---I wouldn't have left---" he broke off to peer at her, and damn that vampire eyesight. "Have you been crying all this time?" he asked.

And he kissed her.

They drew back from another, shocked. "Do that again," Cordy said. So he did.

God, she thought, now I know why Buffy always had that grin on her face. Angel kissed the tearstains on her face, he kissed her eyelashes, and then she felt his lips on hers again, and she opened her mouth to him. His mouth wasn't cold, it was warm. Oh, God. They were both on their knees, straining against each other, and he was slipping her the tongue, and she wanted it. Wanted him, and she slid her hands under his coat so she could feel the muscles of his back. She grabbed the silk shirt in her fists and started pulling it out of his waistband.

He pulled his mouth off hers. "Cordy," he murmured. "What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to get your shirt off," she said, nuzzling his neck. "And I'm thinking that the tile floor is kinda hard on my knees." She let go, and reluctantly took her hands out of his coat. "C'mon."

"Okay," he said, and helped her to her feet. He moved in for another long kiss, and there was that talented tongue again, doing that---thing---and boy, she'd like to feel that mouth on the rest of her.

It took awhile to walk into her bedroom, because they were holding onto each other, and because Cordelia was stropping herself against Angel like a cat. She had an idea that she wanted to get him so worked up that he'd forget to fold his pants, because, well, it would prove that she still had it. Angel would no sooner leave his pants on the floor than he'd drink holy water, and she---kinda--- wanted to----God, he was hard----make him mess up the couture.

The coat was already on the hall rug, so go Cordy! Go Cordy! He leaned against the footboard, and she carefully took the cufflinks out of his sleeves, clicking them together in her hand before tossing them on a scarf on her dresser. He slid his long fingers up the back of her blouse as she unbuttoned his shirt, and she felt her bra unclasp. She raised her arms, and he pulled blouse and bra off in one motion, before setting his hands on her waist and bending his head to her breast.

She arched her back as he delicately tongued each nipple, and pulled at his shirt until he let her pull it off and toss it behind her. Skin to skin was so much better, and she hooked her arms around his neck, standing between his spread legs, as she rubbed her breasts against his chest. "Oh, God, Angel," she whispered in his ear, against his mouth. "Oh, Angel," and when he unzipped her skirt, she stepped out of it and put one knee on the bed. He was right behind her, murmuring her name, stroking her breasts, her belly, her hips, her head flung back against his shoulder, feeling his erection on her ass.

When he put his hand between her legs, and pushed aside her thong, it was soaking. "Want you," Angel said, "want you right now," and they fell on the bed together.

She forgot about her joke with herself, as she helped him push his pants down, and she climbed on top of him, his pants and boxers still around his ankles, his boots still on. "Gonna ride you," she promised him, and his eyes closed as she took him in, and it was----absolutely---the best----as she ground her hips on his, and her breasts into his cupped hands, until he got one hand between them and began rubbing her clit right there, right there, oh god, Angel you're the fucking best and he was just moaning and she came and came and he came.

They collapsed, side by side, and Angel tried to kick off his boots and pants without letting go of Cordelia. They started giggling at it, and she crawled down the bed to yank the bootlaces and boots. He sat up and pulled off his socks and boxers and pants. Somehow it wasn't ridiculous, but just how hot they found each other. Angel pushed her back on the pillows and raised her knees, and lay down between them, and she twitched before he even put his talented tongue on her.

So what could she do beside return the favor? And Angel promised to get her a new lamp. She got up to get some water because screaming made her hoarse, and she brought a bottle of water and a cup of blood back with her. And Angel just drank it down, and then he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

She couldn't help it if she had to follow him in and wrap her arms around his waist. It wasn't like you could sneak up on a vampire.

After the third time, they lay, sleepily, together under the covers. Cordelia was spooned against Angel's broad back, rubbing his belly, her face against his tattoo, his butt tucked into her lap. His arm was thrown back along her thigh. He suddenly seemed to wake up, as if remembering something. "Be right back," he said. She lifted her arms and he slid away.

Hey, he couldn't be going to the bathroom, because, vampire.

"If you get up and pick up your pants," Cordelia murmured, "I won't sleep with you again."

Angel froze, then got out of bed anyway, bent down, and draped his pants across the footboard. Then he got back under the covers and smirked at her.

"Yes, you will," he said. "We're roommates." He rolled over onto her, still grinning.

"Shut up and kiss me," she said, crossly.


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