After Cordelia, Buffy and Riley reached their destination, Cordelia called Wesley to assure them they had made it.
"Don't worry Wes. We've got two rooms, we're checked in. We're going to get some rest, then start demon hunting."
"Very well. Be careful. The demon is-"
"Yeah. Scary. I got it Wes."
"All right. Now, if Angel wakes up-"
"He won't. I gave him double doses of cough syrup and Vicadin and he's exhausted. He should be out for a while. And if he wakes up and is in a lot of pain, just re-dose him."
"Okay." Wesley didn't understand why he was taking orders from the young woman. Yet he was agreeing.
"Oh yeah. Just lay off the holy water."
"But if it's spreading."
"It's going to spread anyway. All that's going to do is put him in even more pain. I don't think he can handle it anymore."
"All right Cordy."
"Take care of him Wes." Wesley smiled softly on the other line.
"I will. Goodbye Cordelia. Get some rest."
"You too Wes. Bye." She hung up and Cordelia sat there in the darkness of her room. She'd rather be back in LA. Anywhere but this room, Buffy and Riley arguing in the room beside her about Buffy trying to lure Angel back to her.
Cordelia closed her eyes and blocked out the bickering couple, exhaustion taking over her body.
Angel laid still, silk sheets and comforter up to his waist, his mind in a blissful daze. Everything felt like it was in slow motion and suddenly, he had no pain. But despite the feeling, he was still missing something.
He took in a deep breath. He missed Cordelia and she had only been gone...how long had she been gone? Everything was a blur.
Angel tried to sit up, but it felt like he couldn't move. Yet for some reason, he didn't really care. He laid back down and let sleep wash over him, a deep uneasy feeling coming over him and making his sleep restless.
An angry, frustrated and discouraged Cordelia was nearing the brink of tears as she spoke into the phone with Wesley.
"Cordelia. Please. Just calm down."
"Wes. We've looked. Everywhere. And I mean everywhere. We've exhausted every resource we had."
"What are you saying?"
"It's not here."
"Wesley. It's not here. We've looked and looked."
"But everything I've read-"
"Is wrong. It's not here Wes." Wesley grew quiet on the other end. His insecurities and feelings of failure fighting their way to the surface. "Wes!"
"I said, 'What now?'"
"I, I don't know." Cordelia let out a sound that was part sigh, part sob on the other line.
"He needs this Wes."
"I know." Wesley sighed. "Just...come home Cordelia. If it's not there, it's not there. By the time you come home, we'll still have about three days. We'll figure something out. I'll start looking." Cordelia nodded on the other end slowly, Riley and Buffy's eyes on her.
"Okay. Bye Wes." She hung up. Wesley stared at the phone. He hadn't been expecting this. He took of his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had to find something. Soon.
"What'd he say?" Buffy asked, saddness in her voice.
"He said come home. It's not here, so no point in staying here. If it was here, we would've found it. We've been here for four days. He said they're going to start looking for something else. Anything else."
"What else is there?" Riley asked. He almost felt sorry for the vampire. Cordelia shrugged.
"I dont' know. But we need to get back. We're running out of time." The two nodded in agreement.
The three made their way back to the hotel, got their stuff and headed back to Los Angeles.
After talking with the group for a while about their lack of findings, Cordelia made her way up to Angel's room. She opened the door quietly, even though she knew he'd still wake up, if he wasn't already.
Sure enough, when she walked in, he watched her as she made her way next to him. She laid down beside him and he held her close, inhaling the scent and basking in the warmth he had been deprived of for the past several days.
"I take it you missed me?"
"Like crazy." He mumbled. "I hated being away from you."
"I know the feeling." The two exchanged a smile, though Cordelia's didn't quite meet her eyes and didn't possess the brightness Angel loved.
"So, where's my demon daiquiri?" Cordelia frowned. "What's wrong?"
"We couldn't find the demon Angel." Off his stoic expression, she elaborated. "We looked the entire time, all over the damn place. But we couldn't find it. But Wesley and the others are looking for anything they can find. We're gonna find a cure Angel. I promise you." She told him convincingly. He nodded, taking in the information. When he finally looked back up at her, she almost grew dizzy with the powerful mixed emotions in his eyes.
"Cordelia, I have something I need to tell you. But you can't respond, okay?"
"Angel, I don't-"
"No. Just listen. Whether you feel the same or not, don't say it. Because if I die-"
"Cordelia." He said, voice almost scolding, but eyes pleading with her to let him finish. "If I die, and you tell me you feel the same, I'll have left you with a broken heart. But if you don't say the words, maybe it'll be easier for you when I'm gone." Though she didn't agree and didn't like his pessimistic tone, she didn't argue.
"I'm listening Angel."
"I love you Cordelia." She froze, startled by the words.
"I love you Cordelia. I love you so much..." She looked at him, surprised by the sincerity. His voice was hoarse from the ever increasing pain from the demon attack. His eyes shone with emotion, a vulnerability he never let her, or any of the group, see. His face that of a demon admitting to his weakness.
"I..." she wanted to tell him back, but he wouldn't allow it.
"I know." He told her in a low pitched voice she almost didn't hear. "Just, don't say the words, okay?" She looked at him, suddenly frustrated. She didn't know whether to cry or scream. He always made things so difficult. She looked back at him, his damn beautiful chocolate brown eyes staring at her.
"What [I]can[/I] I say?" She asked, needing to express her love for him.
"A kiss wouldn't hurt." She smiled and complied, showing him how much she loved him in return in that one kiss. Angel kissed her back, giving into the desperation he felt. If he was going to leave this earth, at least he'd leave with the knowledge that Cordelia loved him back, even though he wouldn't let her say it.
He pulled away from her, then kissed the tip of her nose. He pulled her closer to him, laying her on her back, then resting his head above her heart. The beating beneath him was like soft, soothing music and he sighed contently, knowing he'd made the right decision in telling her. He smiled, eyes closed as he took comfort in her body beneath him.
"You know, when you get better, you can't take what you said back." He looked up at her, amused. "I'm serious. When you get better, you're kinda mine." Her tone was light and amused, but held no room for argument.
"Deal." He agreed, hoping that his friends would find something to cure him so he could live up his side of the deal. Exhaustion over took his body, and he fell asleep, Cordelia's hands running softly through his hair.
Downstairs, Wesley, Gunn, and the Scoobies searched frantically for a clue of where the demon might be. They had no leads and hoped seemed lost.
"This can't be it." Wesley said desperately to no one in particular. Giles looked up sadly at the younger watcher, someone he never expected to show actual emotion for a vampire he used to despise and fear.
"We've looked through everything." Giles said.
"We got in touch with The Council and they couldn't find anything other than what the books said."
"There's nothing else."
"I know, dammit!" Wesley said, frustrated, slamming the book closed and standing up, pacing. Gunn looked up at him, polishing Angel's favorite sword for a reason he still didn't understand. It kept his mind off the fact that everything pointed to the death of his friend. Normally a dead vampire wouldn't make Gunn so upset, but as much as he wouldn't admit it verbally, he really did like Angel and the little group they had.
A phone ringing startled everyone out of their deep thoughts. Wesley answered.
"Hello?" He said, voice indicating he really didn't want to be on the phone.
"Wesley, sweetie, I got some-"
"Who the hell is this?"
"Look, I know I'm not Darth vamp's favorite company, but I got some info on Brown Eye's condition...and cure." Wesley straightened.
"Recent immigration sweetheart. California's the thing. Check out Olivera Street."
"Olivera Street? Just have demons running around amongst the diners?"
"Do I have to explain everything? You're the brain. Underground. But I'd get on it. From what I've heard, the Big Guy don't got much time." Lorne hung up and Wesley stared at the phone.
"What's up English?" Wesley side glanced at Gunn, then answered his question.
"That was Lorne."
"The green dude?"
"Yeah. He's got some information-"
"And we're actually taking it?"
"Gunn, letting me finish would be good." Gunn went back to polishing the sword, but still paid attention. "According to him, the demon we're looking for is under Olivera Street."
"He isn't really reliable when it comes to information Wesley." Gunn said. Wesley sighed.
"I know. But really, we don't have any other lead. We have no other choice. It's worth a shot."
"I'm for it." Gunn said, twirling the sword. It fell to the floor with a loud clank. He smiled sheepishly, then reached for his home made hub-cap sword. "Let's bounce."
Wesley walked up the stairs to Angel's suite, anxious to give Cordelia the hopefully good news. Buffy followed Wesley. She needed to talk to Angel, needed to apologize for what she tried to do several days ago. The two stopped in front of the suite, opened the door, then stared at the couple laying on the bed.
Cordelia lay on her back, arms wrapped around Angel's body loosely. Her head was tilted to the side, facing down toward his face. Angel lay above her, one leg swung over her two. His arm brushed her shirt up in is sleep, his hand sprawled out against her abdomen, bringing the heat into his own skin. His head was buried in her neck, her pulse teasing his senses, but her breathing and the way she held him keeping him calm.
Wesley and Buffy stared at the two, feeling as if they were interrupting something extremely intimate. Buffy watched Angel and Cordelia, everything becoming all too obvious. Angel didn't need to go to Sunnydale to find love. He had already found it here in Los Angeles, in the arms of Cordelia Chase.
"Wesley. I'll um, I'll be in the car, okay?" Buffy knew, some where deep down, about Angel and Cordelia. But when faced with it, well, she wasn't quite ready to handle it.
Wesley nodded, understanding. He felt just as awkward in the presence of the two people on the bed. He approached Cordelia quietly, then shook her shoulder with just enough force to wake her. She opened her eyes, blinking the sleep away.
"Wes?" She whispered.
"I need to speak with you. Meet me downstairs." He retreated, closing the door quietly. She lifted her head and looked down at Angel's face. She smiled. He looked so peaceful. And the small smirk on his face was so sexy...
Cordelia reluctantly slid herself from beneath him and sat up, swinging her legs to the side of the bed. Angel muttered something in his sleep; his arm reaching out, hand closing around her wrist. She held her breath, waiting until the bite of his fingers lessened.
When it did, she pulled her hair from her face and moved down the stairs. The closer she got to the lobby, the faster reality came back to her. Angel loved her, or so he had said. She wasn't sure she believed him though. His love seemed to have come at the worst time, at his most needy time...
Cordelia shook those thoughts away. Just the thought that Angel might love her filled her heart with something she couldn't even define. But the chances of him surviving the week weren't good, and it ripped her heart to shreds.
"What's up Wes?"
"Cordelia. Lorne called." She scrunched up her face.
"He thinks he may know where to find the demon." Cordelia's heart stopped.
"It's not for sure."
"Olivera Street. Everyone's basically there now. Buffy and I are going to go check it out too. She's waiting in the car. Hopefully, we'll find what Angel needs."
"I hope so."
"Should I go with?"
"I think you should stay with Angel. He seems to have a powerful attachment to you Cordelia." She gulped.
"I know. He trusts me Wes. I've been here-"
"You don't have to justify yourself Cordy. Seeing you two together is enough of an explanation for anyone."
"I think there's definitely something beyond friends."
"I think so too."
"I'm going to go find that demon so you both can figure out what your hearts probably already know." He gave her a quick smile, then left.
Cordelia helped a semi-conscious Angel down the stairs. She prayed Wesley, Gunn and everyone would burst through the doors. So when they did, she wasn't sure if it actually happened, or if it was just extreme wishful thinking.
She realized it was reality when the stench of dead demon hit her nose in powerful waves. She nearly gagged at the intense stench. Angel did it for her.
"Oh God. What is that?" He asked, the smell too much for his vampire senses. His voice sounded like that of someone delirious with a fever, bordering on consciousness. [I]Duh Cordelia! He's basically passed out on top of you.[/I] Cordelia shook her head.
"Let me go talk to Wes, okay?" Cordealia slipped from his arms and went to the group, nose scrunched up. "Wes, what the hell?"
"Cordelia, we found it." Wesley said almost breathlessly. Cordelia stared at him.
"The demon Cordelia. We have it. Well, parts of it. Thus, the horrible stench."
"Yes, well, all we have to do now is prepare everything, then we'll give Angel the treatment. He'll probably be out of it for a while after, but he'll be recovering." Cordelia had no idea what to say. She was so happy, she just went up to Wesley and hugged him tight. He was startled for a moment, then hugged her back.
"I kind of love you Wes." He smiled at her.
"Love you too Cordelia. Just make sure Angel doesn't hear that. He's very possessive over the women he cares about." He gave her an un-Wesley-like wink, then went to go help Willow prepare.
Cordelia walked back to Angel. He smiled at her as she sat next to him, wrapping his arms around her. She snuggled into him. Everyone was busy doing...whatever Wesley assigned them to do in the other room, none of them paying attention to the two on the couch.
Cordelia grabbed Angel's hand, fingers lacing with his. She brought his hand up to her face and kissed his knuckles lovingly. He brought his hand up to her face, cupping her cheek, and bringing her mouth up to his. They pulled away, Angel looking even more dazed than before.
"I love you." She smiled.
"I like hearing you say that. And soon, maybe I'll be able to tell you back?"
"Angel. Wes got the demon." He smiled.
"Well, if it works-"
"Must you always be so damn pessimistic?"
"I'm just saying-"
"I don't want to get my hopes up yet, okay? After it works, then we'll talk." She frowned, but understood his reasoning.
Buffy watched from a darkened corner. She couldn't hear what he had said. But she didn't need to. The affection between the two was obvious. They were both so comfortable with one another and when Angel was with her, it was as if nothing else existed. Not his pain, not Buffy, nothing but Angel and Cordelia. Despite herself, Buffy smiled softly. The two did look cute together. Buffy took in a deep breath. Though she didn't want to, she'd be the bigger person and try to be happy for the two.
Time passed and eventually, the group gathered around and gave Angel a bottle that resembled a vase full of a very foul looking, and smelling, purple-gray liquid. Angel sniffed it then turned his head.
"I gotta drink this crap?"
"Or you could just let the poison eat away at the rest of your body." Wesley said in such a tone that Angel just glared at him. He stared at the liquid and tried to swirl it. It jiggled and he nearly gagged.
"Angel. Drink it." Cordelia said. He nodded. With one last look, he downed it as quick as he could. The face of disgust made Cordelia snort with amusement. The last thing he saw was the sparkle of amusement in her eyes before he blacked out.
Angel's head fell forward limply, body doing the same. Cordelia held onto him, then looked up at Wesley.
"I told you he'd be out of it for a while."
"You didn't say he'd knock out like he'd been hit over the head with a crow bar."
"He's fine Cordelia. This is good." She glared. "It means that this stuff," he said, indicating the now empty vase-like bottle, "is working."
"Well, you guys help me get him upstairs." She commanded, leaving no room for argument. Gunn and Wesley got to it. Cordelia was about to head up when a strong grip tightened around her wrist. She turned, some what surprised to see Buffy staring at her.
"Cordelia. I need to talk to you." The Seer looked confused, but nodded, leading them to Angel's office. The door closed behind them.
"What's up Buff?" Cordelia said, then grimaced. "That just don't sound right coming from me, does it?" Buffy smiled.
"Not really. I um, I wanted to tell you that we'll probably all head out. Since we don't know when Angel will wake up, tell him bye and get well soon from all of us, okay?"
"Yeah. But, why you guys leaving so soon?" Cordelia didn't really want them here, but she didn't want them to leave without saying good bye to Angel.
"Well, we're not really need here, you know? Plus, I'd really like to get back to my mom."
"Yeah. I get that." Buffy nodded, wrapping her arms around her body tightly.
"That, amongst other things."
"What other things?"
"When I talked to Angel-"
"You mean tried to bribe him to go back to Sunnydale?"
"It was hardly bribery." Buffy said, then frowned. That was not the point of this conversation. "Anyway, he said that he had a life here and a bunch of other things. I thought about it a lot. I couldn't understand why he'd reject the love I was willing to offer-"
"Buffy, I don't understand what this has to do with me."
"Let me finish. I couldn't understand why he'd let love go." Buffy finally looked up at Cordelia. "But when I saw you two asleep together," Cordelia's eyes widened, "and when I saw you two talking and cuddling on the couch..." Cordelia was thinking of anything she could do to ward off the hostile attack that was sure to come. "I guess it all just made too much sense."
"Huh?" Cordelia was lost.
"You two just looked so...perfect together. I didn't want to see it, didn't want to acknowledge the connection you two had but, it was too obvious to not. I've never seen Angel look at anyone like he looked at you, not even me." Buffy's voice was thick, eyes shining with tears she refused to let fall. "He doesn't need to come back with me to find love. He already found it with you."
A tear escaped Cordelia's eye just as one fell from Buffy's. Both wiped at them at the same time, then exchanged a small smile.
"Anyway," Buffy said, letting out a deep breath, "since I'm trying to be a good person, I figured I should leave. Staying here and seeing you two, as much I really am happy for Angel...and you too, having to see you too cuddled together and whatever, it's kind of like salt in an opened wound, you know?" Cordelia smiled sadly.
"I get it."
"Well, keep us updated. Any new apocalypses, give us a ring, okay?"
"You too." The two looked at each other, then embraced one another in a quick hug.
"Good bye Cordelia."
Buffy walked to the door, put her hand on the door knob, then turned to face Cordelia, looking very serious.
"Take care of him Cordelia."
"If you hurt him..." Her voice cracked.
"Buffy, if I hurt him, I'd kick my own ass." She said with a smile. Buffy nodded, then walked out. Cordelia took a deep breath, then smiled shakily. This, she did not expect.
Angel was back in that place again. Where everything moved so slowly it was almost stopped. He laid back and enjoyed the simplicity of it. But this time, nothing was missing. He opened his eyes, vision blurry. As it cleared, he turned his head and starred into the hazel eyes of his love.
"Hey." Cordelia said, happy to see him awake.
"How you feeling?"
"Little light headed, but good."
"You look good." He smiled. "The wound is almost completely scabbed over. In a few days or so, it should be gone."
"Good." His reaction wasn't very enthusiastic, but she knew he wasn't usually one for words. He grabbed her hand, lacing his fingers with hers again like he had...he didn't know how long ago. "How long have I been out."
"You slept through the night and most the day. It's about 10:30."
"You sleep last night?"
"A little. In here. But I couldn't sleep very well. I was worried. I wanted to be here and awake when you woke up " He grinned. She returned it. "So," she said, running a finger over his bottom lip, "can I tell you I love you back now?" Angel's grin turned to a full out smile that brightened the room.
"I love you Angel." He nearly blissed out then and there.
"I love you too Cordy." She smiled and hugged him to her. He brought face up to his and kissed her with a slow, all-consuming sweetness that she couldn't resist even if she tried.
Cordelia knew she had things to tell him. About the removal of the happy clause that might never happen. About Buffy realizing Angel's feelings for her. But when he kissed her, everything but her love and need for him evaporated.
She broke away from him with a smile. Looking in his face, despite all the problems that they would face, she knew they could make it work. But not if he kept sending her that look, a mischevious grin on his face...
"I know." He said. "Wesley needs to find that spell or whatever to get rid of the happy clause. Eventually, this is gonna get hard." He said, referring to having her so close to him. "But for now, I like just holding you."
Cordelia nodded in response, then yawned, her lack of sleep catching up with her. He brought her above him, her head rested on his chest. He kissed her hair and wrapped his arms around her. With someone like Cordelia, only holding her for eternity was an incredible intimacy in itself, one he never experienced with someone else.
He smiled as she fell asleep, eventually, joining her, his body taking her warmth and her love into his own.