Anticipation by Princess Twilite


Summary: On her lips a brilliant splash of scarlet red. Vivid color.


Spoilers: Early Season Three.


Notes: Short piece because my Cordelia and Angel muse kicked me to write it. For anyone I promised I'd continue writing C/A-ish stories. And then didn't. Here you go - this is for you... such as it is. Beta by WesleysGirl. Much love to her for taking on this story.



It starts in the gut. Anticipation.

There are problems being a vampire in a human world. Problems beyond the nine to five, sun-crisp atmosphere. They cannot be counted on all his fingers and toes. Angel leans his body against the shower wall, closing his eyes and pretending the water can make him warm again. He pretends that it can heat him on the inside.

But everything is so still behind his ribs and it's hard to remember anything else.

It doesn't matter. Every choice has a consequence, although most consequences don't last for centuries after the choice has been made. Angel opens his eyes and surges forward to jerk the shower knob toward the left, stopping the flow of hot water. His skin continues to thrum for a moment, and then begins to cool.

Out of the shower, stepping onto the soft, damp bathroom mat, he looks down at where his foot squishes against the fabric. Obviously, he'd been in too long, letting the steam turn into condensation. It drips like freshly formed tears down the wall.

Angel grabs a towel from the sink shelf, dragging it across his head and scrubbing the cotton roughly against his scalp. Water sleeks his body, making even *him* clumsy. Angel nearly falls when he steps off the mat and onto the tiled floor, only catching himself at the last moment.

Doesn't look in the mirror while he does his hair. Can't bear to. It's one thing Angel has never been able to get past. The inability to see his own reflection haunts him like a ghost limb. Cordy can call him a dork all she wants, but there are still hundreds of years he has to account for until the possibility of more is within reach.

The anticipation for such a time only makes him ache, so he tries not to think about it. Prefers instead to go through the motions, day by day. Sometimes it's hour by hour. It all depends on how bad things get. And on how hungry he is. Everything is dependent upon something else.

Something dies so something else can flourish.

Drying his body off, Angel reaches for his clothes draped across the hook on the door. Boxers. Pants. Undershirt. Dress shirt. It doesn't matter what color they are as they slide across his skin. His life is lived in black, whites, and grays now. There is the endless torture of waiting for color.

Just... waiting.

Angel shakes his head at himself, dusting his palms down his torso and smoothing away the small crease lines on his shirt. Vanity is a vice he allows himself, though sometimes it gets out of control. Good or bad, it's something to focus his endless attention on. So much time spent halfway alive makes him weak to the wanderings of the mind.

Pulling open the door, Angel counts how many footsteps it takes to get to his bedroom, where he has left his shoes. Not so many that it matters. If he was alive, his heart would have pumped blood 6 billion times by now. Based on the average person that is. And there it is, that pain twisting in his belly. He hungers for the average all too often; it's ache more acute than his need for blood. White picket fences not included.

Sits on his bed. Slips on the socks he has left bunched up on the mattress. All the time wondering what the vampire population would think of the "scourge" if they saw how he wiggles his toes beneath the black cotton socks. It is not a comforting thought so Angel vows next time he will not give in to the compulsion. Shoving his feet into the shoes, Angel bends down to the tie the laces.

Motion number forty-two in this cycle has been completed.

Everyone is downstairs but Cordelia by the time Angel joins them. Gunn is lounging on the lobby couch, slouched down like he has no bones. There is something liquid about that boy, something in touch with the inner predator. It's funny really, because sometimes Angel has to avoid Gunn because of the simple fact that his bald head reflects the sunshine like a mirror. Or maybe it's not funny. Most people don't get his sense of humor.

"Hello Angel," Wesley greets him, passing him as Angel moves off the last step. Wes has a handful of pencils in his hand. Carefully, the vampire nods, chest puffing out with a small sigh that is filled with nothing. Muscles move and shift, but only by his will. No necessary bodily reaction.

He'd give anything to pass gas.

"Morning Wes." Angel tries for a dorky grin. It always seems to make everyone think he's okay, handling all the ins and outs of his demon with ease.

There are things he would like to tell them.

"Wesley, when you have sex don't come to work the next day. I can smell it all over you."

"Gunn, when you're thinking about killing me, close your eyes so I don't have to see it. I know the day is coming. But it's not here yet."

"Fred, Jesus! Stop looking at me like I'm a hero. I'm not. And you have no clue just who exactly you're dealing with, Pylea or no."

"Cordelia... Cordelia..."

Caught on her. There seems to be nothing and everything to say. Of course Angel says none of these things at all. Ninety percent of the things he'd like to do, he doesn't. And they all smell so good most of the time that it's hard to conceal the thirst. Unquenchable, strong, it is forever throbbing between his throat and his stomach.

Angel turns his gaze down, avoiding Wesley's speculative one as the ex-Watcher stills to see what melancholy lies behind the vampire's face. That's Wesley all right, always trying to categorize what won't fit into a box. Angel moves on, toward Wesley's office and the wall of books that beckons to his eyes. It's easy to escape your own demon when you have someone else's life at your disposal.

And maybe there is a brief thrill buried somewhere inside his motivation. Voyeurism is another vice, but he so rarely allows it. All things must be satiated eventually. Angel wonders when Cordelia will learn to say the word 'deviant' instead of 'dork'. That will be a very cold day. He shivers just thinking about it.

Angel hears her enter the Hyperion long before she actually does. It's odd, the way he feels the need to breathe. Odd how he turns his back to the office door so he doesn't have to watch her walk inside. The clicking of her high heels against the floor is hard enough to take.

Tension. Spiraling up - up - his stomach is contracting.

"Morning!" Cordelia calls brightly. She smells freshly showered and perfumed, but beneath that there is something heavy and she can't hide it. Cordy has been leaking pheromones for days and it coats his tongue, tickling his thighs. What is this? What *is* this?

It's a new dimension of awareness that Angel can't understand or account for.

Everyone greets Cordelia as they go through THEIR morning motions. He is always jealous and absent from this, standing cold on the outside. He should be sleeping but he is thumbing through a book with pages that blur before his eyes. Waiting, because he knows...

Their motions are distinct and even *Angel* can't make them change.

"Hey brood-boy," Cordelia says to him, swinging into the office, but not really. She's still holding onto the side of the archway, head tilted so that her hair falls against her cheek. Angel turns, looks at her over his shoulder. Wonders what she'd do if he licked her.

"Morning, Cordy. You're here..."

"Perfectly on time!" she laughs, face bright. Angel smiles at her. Can't help it really. But his tongue feels thick in his mouth and he's nearly afraid of her these days. Then the muscles in her belly shift beneath her shirt and her neck is twisting. Preparation for departure. Angel's breath catches, smile fading as Cordelia moves away. On her lips is a brilliant splash of scarlet red. Vivid color.

It ends in the gut. Anticipation.



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