The Painting




Concept: Angel does a nude figure study with a little help from Cordelia.

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Yeah right. Like I own these guys! Funny stuff.

My Notes: This is one of those fics that just pour of out of you before you know what's going on. My hands had a hard time keeping up with my mind on this one. Also, this is my first C/A fic. Be nice.

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It started in his hands and travelled across his body, finally settling in his heart. A familiar itch that couldn't be denied. He flexed his thumbs and fingers, curling them around a stray pencil as he shifted in his chair. He wanted to draw something, to sketch out the planes of some object or person. And the feeling always started in his hands.

So he sketched the flowers on the countertop, just past his desk. It wasn't enough. He balled the sketch in his hands and threw it into the wastebasket with a disgruntled sigh. No, not sketching. He wanted to paint.

He had gathered his things, stretched a new canvas and coated it with fresh white paint. The naked canvas invited him like a virgin opening her thighs, but what to paint? He knew what he was thinking about. A pair of hazel eyes swam before his vision and he felt a familiar tightening of his chest. As he stared at it, head tilted in thought, a knock came on his door and he jumped slightly. The door swung open moments later and he smiled despite himself, his heart lurching.

"Hiding out again, eh?" Cordelia said, a smile on her face.

"Sort of. I was going to paint." Angel responded, his itching artistic eye trailing over Cordelia's body. He noted the swell of her breasts, the curve of her hips and the slender column of her neck. Hands that rested on her hips called to him and he saw every line, every wrinkle in her flesh as she moved.

It had been so long since he'd done a human landscape and she called to him in more ways than one.

"Painting? Wow, something besides brooding. Color me shocked." She said wryly, stepping into the room and regarding his blank canvas with a smile. "So, what are you going to paint?"

"Don't know." He lied through his teeth.

"Paint me." The words burst out of her, much to his surprise and her own.

"What?" He said, his mouth falling open slightly. He knew she could be blunt, but this was more than he had expected.

"Paint me. A nude figure study. Afterall, who looks better nude than me?" She said with a laugh and a twinkle in her eye.

"Well, I wouldn't know..." Angel said, flustered by her words. He secretly agreed though. But the thought of painting Cordelia, while being exactly what he had been thinking, was a little more than he could handle. A blush crept up his neck and made a home just behind his ears. Cordelia chuckled and smacked his arm.

"Don't go all chivalrous on me. Its not like I haven't done one of these before!"

"What? When?"

"A girl has her secrets. So, where you wanna set up?" She replied, looking around at Angel's room.

"I think I know a place." Angel said, giving up the ghost of protest. He grabbed his supplies and gestured for Cordy to follow him.

Ten minutes later saw them in an empty room of the Hyperion. This one was nearly bare of furniture, except a small chaise lounge with faded red cushions. From behind the door, Angel took out a bright red curtian that was frayed and moth eaten. He draped it over the lounge carefully, appraising it with an expert eye.

Cordelia watched him, plucking at the bathrobe Angel had given her. She was suddenly nervous, her heart fluttering in her chest like a trapped butterfly. She sighed heavily, squaring her shoulders and closing her eyes. She could do this. It was just Angel. Of course, the fact that it was *Angel* was what was making her throat tighten and her guts twist. He was going to see her naked. Her eyes snapped open.

She suddenly wanted to bolt from the room, but she kept her ground. Cordelia Chase wasn't afraid of anything. She forced a smile on her face and unloosened the belt of the robe, her teeth clamping down on her lip.

"There, that's about right. You can, um, lay down or whatever." Angel said, turning back to her. She nodded and walked past him, the scarred floorboards creaking underfoot.

Angel picked up his pencil, intending to sketch her out first, so that he wouldn't have to correct any problems later. He looked up and stopped mid-gesture. The robe slipped from Cordelia's shoulders, revealing a slender back that was unmarred. Lower and lower the robe slipped until her buttocks was revealed to him, plump and firm. Her long legs curved, calves tensed and quivering as the cold air hit them. From across the room, Angel saw gooseflesh rise up over her body and he wanted to wrap her up and make her warm again.

Instead he looked back down at his hands, the familiar itch even stronger as he remembered the soft, tanned planes of her body.

Cordelia looked back over her shoulder and saw Angel blushing a quite uncharacteristic shade of purple. She smiled to herself and turned to face him, the butterfly in her chest beating against her ribcage with the force of a thousand cannons.

"How do you want me to pose?" She asked, looking out between her eyelashes. She saw Angel's face as he devoured the sight of her fully unclothed. A fire sparked in her belly as he tried to find his voice.

"Ummm. Lay down on your stomach and face me." He muttered, opening his acrylics and avoiding her gaze. He was feeling oddly warm and he felt sweat on his upper lip. He licked it off and forced himself to calm. "Just another flower....Just another flower...." He told himself, but he thought that no flower in his knowlege had such beautiful petals.

Cordelia settled herself down onto the lounge, her stomach sliding against the old, velvety drapes. They smelled slightly musty, but she ignored it and tilted her face up to Angel's. He looked up and appraised her position, eyes slitted as he sucked on a tooth. He shook his head and approached her like she was a wild dog.

"Tilt your head like this, and draw your leg up like that." He said, hands hovering above her skin like he would poison her with a touch. She did as he commanded, shifting
her weight and resting hand against her temple. Angel took her hand in his own, curling the fingers in her hair with a gentle touch. He took her other arm and wrapped it around her chest, hiding her breasts from view, the fingers splayed across the red velvet curtain.

He took a step backward and tilted his head once more, eyes trailing over the curve of her hips to her legs. "Stretch your right leg out, sweetie." Cordelia did as she was told, eyebrows rising slightly at the use of the the word sweetie. The fire in her belly grew and her cheeks dimpled.

"That okay?" She asked him, catching his gaze with intense eyes. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips and he nodded ever so slightly. With that, he turned on his heel and walked back to the canvas.

"Hold that pose." With that, he picked up his pencil and started his outline.

His eyes flicked from her to the canvas and back again. Every line of her body sprang to life before him and he wondered if he even needed to look up at her; his mind was seared with the image of her lying there. Finally, there was nothing left to plot, no plane left to put in place.

"Okay, you can relax for a little bit while I paint the background." She nodded and he picked up his paintbrush, the paint coating the bristles thickly. With a useless intake of breath, he dived in, ignoring the way she moved her arm so that he caught a peak of petal pink nipple.

The background sprang to life as his hand flew across the canvas, brushing the wood into place, the browns and pale burnt umber shadowed and fleshed out before he knew it. A flowered drape he hand't really noticed was added into the painting, the details springing out before him. Stripes of light from the lamps he had lit cast shadows and he painted them thick and velvety, swirling away from the penciled lump that would be the lounge chair. Finally, he stopped, eyes squinting, flicking from the canvas to the real walls and back again. He stroked once more and dropped the brush.

Immediately, he picked up another one and started in on the lounge chair, his eyes dark as he tried not to look at the woman on the couch, her skin glowing in the lamplight.

Cordelia's nose itched, but she refused to sneeze, thinking it might upset Angel's concetration. She was slowly getting used to the temperature of the unheated room, the gooseflesh that had risen on her skin slowly disappearing. As she watched Angel paint, his shirt slightly open, his mouth set and his eyes shadowed, the fire that sparked in her belly swirled to other parts of her body. To her chagrin, she was becoming aroused by his proximity, the furtive, shadowed glances he kept sending her making her nipples tighten and her breath to quicken. The butterfly got more frantic.

Thick red paint smoothed out across the canvas, velvet to the sight and he wondered if it would really feel that way. He wondered if she would feel that way. He stopped his train of thoughts with a tooth to his tongue. He forced himself to go back to the folds of the moth-eaten curtain, shadowed with touches of darker red and brown, mixing it with a hurried hand.

He worked, eager to finish, to stop the torture that was growing inside himself. This was too much. He knew this would not work. He couldn't do this with her. Not her. He worked, more frantically, paint flying from his brush as his thighs tensed. He fought the urge to spring across the room and gather her up in his arms. No. Not her. He tried to tune her out, but the sound of her heart beating was captured by his ears and his brow furrowed.

Her heart was thumping rapidly, her pulse quickening with every short breath she took. He took a subtle sniff of the air and smelled her scent, rich and inviting and human. Perfume and soap and something else teased his senses. Something he knew, but couldn't name assaulted him and he wanted to growl at it and bath in it.

Finally, he bared his teeth and threw down the brush. the lounge chair stared back at him, an empty white woman-shaped space glaring out at him accusingly. He followed the curve of a hip not yet flesh and bone and looked past his half-finished painting at the real thing. She met his eyes and opened her lips slightly, as if she knew his thoughts. That heady mixture of her greeted him again and he closed his eyes, hands fisted at his sides. She had no idea whats he was doing to him.

Upon opening his eyes once more, he saw she was staring down at the floor, a frown creasing her brow. He heard her heart beating again and saw her swallow.

"Look at me." He commanded in a tight voice, as if his voice had a distance to travel in order to get out of his throat. She looked up at him, the frown loosening its grip on her features.

"We almost done?" She asked, her voice slightly hoarse as she took her original pose once more. She realized that they had been here for quite awhile. At least two hours by her reckoning.

"Almost. Don't move." He answered, staring at her as if he could eat her with his eyes, if only she'd ask him to. He looked down at his itching hands and opened a soft white and a light brown. A yellow was also opened and he smiled, mixing it to a creamy whip.

He picked up a new brush, a finer one that he had saved just for this. The lines of her body curved under the bristles of the brush, soft and hard and beautiful at the same time. He painted her legs, the calves he imagined kicking at him during a training session leaping out before him, like his brush was wiping away paint to reveal that they had always been on the canvas. Her arms came next and he molded the paint like clay, her splayed fingers glistening against the bright red of the velvet curtain. He imagined those hands splayed across his chest, over the place where his heart was.

The soft swell of her breast sprang before him and he wanted to move her arm out of the way to paint them in all their glory. He chewed on his lip and ignored his wants. Her shoulders were soft and shaded with a rosy hue. He dipped his brush in it and stroked smooth, transparent paint through the clefts of her body, dark in the deep places, light in the smooth places. His eyes followed the curves of her other arm, the one with the hand curled in her hair. Details poured out of him and he wondered if she was a part of him somehow. He knew her too well. This was too intimate, somehow.

Every stroke brought him closer to her face and he stopped, studying the fine, strong line of her jaw befor diving in. Her eyes stood out and he wanted them to stare back at him the way the real woman did. He wanted to capture that hunger and passion there. His brush brought them to life and his hands itched to paint the red slash of her wide, pouty lips. Lips he wanted to crush against his own. Her scent caught him again as he followed the line of her lips, a ghost of a smile haunting his own mouth. Her nose was next and he thought it was a perfect match for the perky, pointed original. One more stroke and she looked back at him.

Breathing hard, he stared at the painted woman before him, the real thing hammering in his ears and making his loins quiver. He gulped and swiped in a few strands of hair, chocolatey and tinted with red from the lights. It touched her shoulders and slid into the black darkness behind her. She stared up at him and he wanted to jump into the painting.

Cordelia watched as Angel's features were lost in a brooding expression. His fingers were splashed with paint, his shirt as well. The gleam of a white chest glittered in her eyes and she licked her lips. This was too much. He was looking at her with that longing, the look of a man possessed by something. The butterfly screamed at her and she gripped the musty curtain as the fire in her belly raged out of control. She wanted him. And she couldn't have him.

Angel stroked once more, head tilting as he looked from his Seer to the canvas. Yes, it was perfect, every detail, every line was in place and real. Too real. He slowly lowered the brush and took a shuddering, useless breath. Too much. Her scent caught him again and he shooed it away with half a heart.

"I'm done." He said, opening his eyes and fixing her with an intense stare. She sat up immediately, stretching her tired limbs, rewarded by a cracking sound as her back popped. Angel looked at her once before casting his eyes back to the painting. He was aware that she was approaching him, the sound of her blood pumping in her viens almost deafening. This close to her, her scent was overwhelming and he caught the rich, velvet aroma of her once again.

Cordelia had slipped the robe back over her naked form, hiding herself from his hungry eyes. Not because she didn't want him to look; because she didn't know if she could be near him so vulnerable. She wanted to throw herself at him and she marvelled at her reaction. "Its just the nakedness, its sexy and of course you're aroused." But that hadn't happened last time she posed nude, back when she first moved to L.A. and she needed the money. No, she had been slightly embarrassed and a little bit shy. And that man had been a professional artist. Not her friend and boss and Champion. He hadn't been Angel.

Still, she kept telling herself it was the nakedness. That was what made her want to rip his shirt off all the way and kiss him and draw him down on the lounge chair beside herself. Just the nakedness.

She approached him, belting the robe and smiling slightly to cover the fact that she wasn't looking at the painting. She met his eyes and she wasn't surprised to see his were dark and clouded, the blush behind his ears creeping up his cheeks. His chest rose as he pretended to breath for her. She tore her eyes away from his and looked at the painting, her mouth opening and a soft gasp escaping her throat.

She knew he was talented, his drawings always bearing a remarkable resemblence to his subjects, but his painting skills were beyond measure. The colors were bright yet not harsh, the soft folds of the flowered drapes and the musty curtain were detailed so finely she marvelled at the fact that it hadn't taken him hours to do it. She took in the background, the wood finely detailed and looking as hard and grainy as it did when she looked up.

Then her eyes trailed down to the glowing form that was herself. Soft flesh stood out in contrast to the dark background and she looked at the face and saw fire in the eyes, arousal in the the way the lips smiled back at her. The curl of her fingers was intricate and awe-inspiring. Cordelia was speechless, but she grasped at words anyway.

Angel, this is...this is beautiful." She said in a breathy voice, the butterfly settling in her throat on its way out. Angel moved up behind her, faux breath stirring the short hair on her neck, his hands sliding onto her shoulders with ease. She leaned back against his chest and turned her head to the side, her cheek touching his, electricity sparking at the contact.

"Thank you." He said in her ear, his voice deep, shivers running down her spine. Angel smelled fear mixed with her arousal. "The subject was quite remarkable." His hands slid down her arms and linked with her hands. They shook in his strong, painted fingers; her heart threatened to beat its way out of her back and it echoed through him as well.

"Angel?" She said, so soft her voice was almost lost to her pulse. She turned, her eyes meeting his for a split moment. Angel leaned down to kiss her, but she stepped away.

"I have to get dressed. Fred said she wanted to go for something to eat." Cordelia said, the butterfly painfully stroking its wings. Her heart squeezed and she looked at him a moment, her expression unreadable. Then she turned on her heel and walked out of the room. Cordelia gulped back heartache. She couldn't have him. Never.

Angel watched her go, wanting to stop her, to grab her and do the things he imagined. But he stood still, as inanimate as a statue, the ghost of her scent making him lightheaded. He clamped his teeth over words he could have said and sighed.

The painting caught his eye and he smiled. She stared back at him with those fiery eyes and ruby smile. His Seer, perfect, naked before him forever. The paint was drying rapidly and he followed the curve of her hip with a fingertip. She was his and he loved her.

It started in his hands and travelled across his body, finally settling in his heart.

FINIS.