The Colour of Her
STATUS: In progress
CATEGORY: C/A Friendship/Romance
SPOILERS/SEASON INFO: General Angel Season 2, Buffy Season 5.
ARCHIVE: Please contact me first! Mostly I'm going to agree.
SUMMARY: Angel and Cordelia's friendship is changing, evolving. But in which direction?
DISCLAIMER: All characters on 'Angel' and 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" that
appear in this story are owned soley and exclusively by Mutant Enemy,
Twentieth Century and Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. The author is in no
way appropriating these characters for monetary gains, and any infringement
on the rights of the aforementioned companies or individuals is wholly
unintended. References to place names and plot lines that have appeared on
'Angel' and 'Buffy' are likewise the property of the above companies or said
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is set about 6 months after 'There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb'. Buffy has died but she has been resurrected (thereby bypassing Angel angst). Fred is there but since I haven't seen anything past Dead End I can't write her too well.
Copyright (c) Vivian Ngan June 2001
Part One ~*~*
Wesley's fingers drummed incessantly on the counter top, his face contorted into an agonised expression. His clear intelligent eyes stared fixedly onto the deceptively chirping figure in front of him, who was scurrying about their small office area preoccupied with last minute filing. Her cheerful, almost bubbling energy inexplicably grated on his nerves, and it was all he could do to unleash his pent-up frustration on the table and not onto her. Behind him he could hear Angel's familiar pacing, his footsteps even, treading the well-worn Hyperion Hotel lobby floor to almost marble-like smoothness. Faintly in the background he heard the sound of softly sipped coffee; Wesley estimated that Gunn must be onto his fourth cup by now.
Cordelia turned around, sensing Wesley's frustration behind her. A perfect eyebrow arched in inquiry.
"Wesley, go home. It's not like there are any demons to fight. There's no research you can do, no big bad bringing the apocalypse to our recently renovated, and might I say, really expensive door. I'm vision gal and *I'm* bored." She stared pointedly at him, taking in his tired glare without flinching. "Go home and annoy someone else, okay?"
Wesley was about to retort indignantly, but thought better of it. Especially in this case when Cordelia happened to be, well, right.
He sighed almost dramatically, already revelling in the knowledge that he might be able to spend a rare evening at home, reading up on the latest archaeological digs in Peru. He wasn't really all that keen on going out tonight; somehow between their return from Pylea, Buffy's surprising resurrection, and the recent rash of demon activity in and about the city, there had been little time for him to do anything *but* think of work. A man could only read up on so many demons before he got well and truly sick of it.
"You're right Cordy." He stood up, happily feeling the blood returning to his slightly cramped legs. He stretched his arms about him as an inadvertent yawn escaped. "It's been a long day, and I am rather tired. I think I might head home."
He heard Gunn's chair scratch on the floor behind him. "I think I might be heading out too. Might check in on the neighbourhood, see if this no-demon thing is happening there too." He looked over to Wesley who was busy putting on his coat. "Okay if I hitch a ride with you English?"
"Of course." Wesley looked back to Cordelia who had resumed her filing. Sometime during the excruciatingly boring week, she had decided that their filing system needed to change. That is, she thought they should actually start to have a system that actually made sense.
"Cordy, what about you? Those files could, ah, wait until Monday you know." Wesley looked towards the younger woman who was still busy reorganising their piles of recent work into a single, orderly heap.
"No it's okay Wes. Think I might finish up here and then head on home."
"Are you sure?" Wesley said hesitantly, feeling like he was treading on very thin ice. "It's Friday night you know, and ... well, you should go out ... or something. You know, enjoy the night life. Get out there, have some fun." He stepped forward, his eyes shining earnestly. "The work can wait." He added softly.
Her gaze softened; she realised what he was trying to do. She knew it had worried all of them that she hadn't been going out, being the old Queen C of Sunnydale High days. But honestly she wasn't unhappy about her current lifestyle. It might sound ludicrous coming from her, but Cordelia actually preferred the quieter moments spent in the silences of her apartment to the deafening beat of some ultra trendy, ultra hard to get into club, where men's eyes roved over her body like it was some piece of meat, and where women made fatal judgments about her just by the shade of her clothes. There was something about the quiet stillness of being alone, being silent ... peaceful, alone in her head without the noise or pain or fear from her visions. Cordelia actually found herself being able to savour the silence of stillness, the silence of just ... being.
"Wesley ..." She let her voice trail off, thankful for his concern. She didn't mind that he or Gunn or even Angel liked to harp at her about going out more. It showed that they cared. "I'm good. Honestly. If I want to go out I will, *believe* me. I just want to stay in tonight."
Wesley nodded in acknowledgment. "All right." He grabbed his helmet and headed out the hotel doors. "See you on Monday."
"Catch ya later Cordy!"
"See ya guys." With that they were gone, and Cordelia had a moment to savour the absence of Wesley's annoying drumming on the counter top. A moment .... before Angel sauntered over to her side, carefully avoiding the rays of the late afternoon sun in his path.
"You know Cordy ... " She put down the files she had just picked up and looked squarely at him. His tone was deceptively casual, but Cordelia could always tell when he had something specific on his mind. Sometimes he could use three, up to five sentences to come around to the point, especially when he was apprehensive about how she'd react to whatever he was saying. She waited patiently as he continued.
"... You should really listen to what Wes says. I mean ... we've all been worried about you. Once or twice a week it's good to stay home, but ... I mean, we, I, that is, we --"
She cut him off, unable to let his painful stammering continue. He had been really good lately, keeping his stammerage to a minium. But now it was back in full force and as his Seer and his friend, it was her sacred duty to stop him - fast.
"Angel, stop." He paused obediently, wondering if he had succeeded in offending her in record time. Usually it took upwards of three sentences for him to do that. Not that he had been counting. Or even, wondering for that matter.
"Look, I know you guys are worried. It's fine okay ... it *really* is." She sighed as she took a small step to the side, plonking herself on the soft, slightly lumpy hotel lobby couch. "The truth is, I just haven't felt like going out. I've ... learnt to feel content with myself, you know? It's like ... maybe it's because of my visions or whatever, but ... I can really ... appreciate *life* more now, more than when I was May Queen, with my Cordettes or whenever." She paused as he sat beside her, his expression softening, a preclude to what Cordelia secretly referred to as his endearing puppy-eyed look. "This sounds lame but ... the time's I've been the loneliest are the times I've been surrounded by people. In high school I was all like, surrounded by these bunch of sheep who'd agree with me no matter what I said. They weren't listening to me ... not really, they didn't care about *me*. Angel, I'm happier now than when I was at Sunnydale High. So okay, it might've had something to do with the whole going to school on the Hellmouth thing, but ... " She smiled sheepishly. "I don't think I've ever really told anyone that."
He smiled at her, his chocolate brown orbs warming her heart. "That doesn't sound lame at all Cordy. Makes sense." There was silence as they both basked in the tenderness of the moment, with Cordelia secretly wishing that it could go on forever. Angel may not have been the most forthcoming vampire in the world, but she discovered that when he paid attention to her, when he really showed that he cared about *her* - it felt like the beginning of a new world. A world where she would never be without a friend ... a world where she would always be there to take care of him. Different from the one where he had fired her and she had just ... left. Left him alone with his demon, forcing him to near self-destruction.
She brushed that momentarily distressing thought aside as he spoke up. "I mean, I understand that, believe me I do. It's just that ... I can't help thinking that you *should* be out there ... having fun. Living life ... You know, 'cause you actually have one."
"You're worried about the vision thing, aren't you?" She asked him bluntly. "About how it's affecting me? And before you say anything else - it's not your fault. It's never been your fault."
He smiled gratefully, slightly comforted that she could read his mind so well. "I know." He paused, searching for the right words. "It's just that ... I want you to be happy."
She jumped in to reassure him, "Angel - I *am* happy. Especially with the way things are now." Cordelia gave him her trade marked thousand watt smile, and he felt his unbeating heart tremble slightly. Things *were* good for them at the moment - it had been a year since he had fired his three friends and he felt that just in the past couple of months they had really started accepting each other for the people, or in his case, the vampire that they all were now. Buffy was alive again ... slightly different, but she was still Buffy and best of all - she wasn't dead. And now they had little Fred to take care of ... Angel felt like they truly were 'a family'. One that would last.
His mind returned to the present, observing Cordelia's gentle brown eyes gaze penetratingly into his own. "I know. I just ..." He smiled sheepishly, not really minding that his emotions were plainly etched across his ageless face. "... I like to see you smile."
Cordelia smiled at that; she couldn't help it. Angel was so adorable when he had that puppy dog look ... one that suggested that he'd do anything to see her smile, or laugh, or grin, or some other happy word that made her feel really good.
They were both grinning like idiots now.
"So anyway ..." Angel trailed off, breaking her reverie. "I was thinking, that, you know, maybe ... if you weren't too tired, or if you weren't really doing anything, I mean, if you wanted to ... We could ... you know ..." He looked at her, struggling to get his almost absurd suggestion out, "We could ..."
She looked at him expectantly. She had no idea what he was trying to say.
"... maybe have dinner? Or something ... else." As her feeling of surprise diffused over her expressive features, Angel blundered on feeling more foolish by the moment. "I mean, if you want to, that is. I mean, I know I'm not the most sociable person, or the most happy one for that matter, but ah ... yeah." He finally succeeded in clamping his rambling mouth shut.
Angel took one look at her face and knew it had been a mistake to open his big ... fat ... mouth. What had prompted him to even make such a ridiculous suggestion to her? In the past if she had wanted to spend the evening with him she would always just tell him to come over to her place, cook her some food and rent a couple of movies with 'some Hollywood hottie' in it. Or maybe come fully stocked to his room at the Hyperion, with the same aforementioned movies. And possibly some popcorn, blood, and a change of clothes for the next day.
He sighed. Judging by the look on her face, she was surprised, no doubt about it. What was he going to say now?
"I mean, we could you know, get some take-out and watch some videos. Or something." He paused. "I'll just shut up now." He was so good at making judgment calls during battles. Why couldn't he have the same good judgment in this life ... stuff?
Cordelia tilted her head to the side, pretending to think it over. Dinner with Angel ... alone? Those big chocolate brown, puppy dog eyes twinkling and sparkling over a really nice, gourmet meal for two? Hmmm ... Was the choice all that hard?
She unleashed her full-blown, Queen C smile. "No."
Angel did a double take, his heart plummeting to the depths of his stomach, through his shoes and making a bizarre squishing noise on the floor as it splattered and splintered into a thousand pieces. Why not?
"Because ... " She smiled mischievously, feeling slightly bad that she was putting him through even a few brief seconds of torture. "Because, I'd rather go out to a really nice, *expensive* restaurant with a certain vampire with a soul who wears *way* too much black but has really good taste in clothes and loves to pay for whatever his favourite seer likes to eat?" She smiled winsomely at him, batting her eyelashes to good effect.
Angel gulped for unnecessary air. "That's ... that's me, right?"
She wacked him on the chest. "Yes, dorkhead it's you. How many vampires with a soul do *you* know running around L.A?"
He smiled, his dark eyes shining. This was good. This was ... interesting. Dinner with Cordelia. Alone. Maybe with some candles. And food, and maybe ... even wine. Maybe flowers? Should he bring some flowers? A nice bouquet of blood red roses, because Cordelia looks really nice in red ... it was definitely her colour ...
"Angel?" His mind snapped back to the present.
"I said, pick me up at seven-ish?"
"Ah ... sure." He looked at his watch. "Are you going to be ready on time? 'Cause you know Cordy, you have this habit of ah, you know ..."
She gave him a steely gaze, a dangerous glint evident in her eyes. "Yes?"
"You know ... you kinda ... tend to be, sort of ... late."
"Oh that." She brushed his concern off as she stood up to collect her coat. "Angel, one thing you have *got* to learn about women is that we're *always* late. And that we like good food and nice clothes." She paused and smiled. "But I guess you already got that last part."
"Learning's good." He helped her put her coat on as he stood up, herding her towards the door.
A slightly awkward silence ensued, in which Angel suddenly started feeling the extreme warmth that was emanating from his Seer in front of him. She smelt ... she smelt so good, a heterogenous mix of sun-drenched warmth and apple-scented shampoo. And there was something else too, something decidedly alluring at that moment about Cordelia and her vixen good looks, her expressive and mischievous brown eyes that were staring straight into his own as he leaned closer and closer ...
She broke off the moment by stepping away slightly, confusion colouring her features.
"So, I'll see you around seven?" She said with false brightness.
"Sure." Angel felt anxiety rising up within himself. What the hell had just happened? Had been about to happen? "Around seven." He repeated autonomously.
"Okay. See ya." Cordelia took a deep breath as she hurried outside. She felt funny. There was a funny though not unpleasant churning in the pit of her stomach. It felt icky. She and Angel had spent a *lot* of time alone in the past, and it had never felt like this. This felt like ...
She gulped. It felt like a date.
Oh God. Was it a date? He kinda asked her out to dinner, and she kinda sorta said yes. And he was kinda picking her up at her place. At seven. And they had just ... kinda been about to do something ... else. Something decidedly date-ish.
Checking her watch and realising that she only had two hours to get back to her apartment and get ready, she hurried along. Whatever tonight was, or was not, she was going to look damn good; she would guarantee that. Cordelia Chase always looked drop dead gorgeous a night out, date or no date. And Angel might just have his eyes opened to that for the very first time.