Chapter Seven

The Test

Angel's eyes snapped open. He could see clouds scudding over the night sky. His limbs buzzed and twitched. He felt warm, like he'd fed recently, and the tang of blood in his mouth told him it was true. Human blood. Cara's blood -- he could taste her essence in it. He sat bolt upright. Oh God, what had he done?

"Hey." Cordelia leaned her elbows against the top of the rear passenger door. "I'm glad you're awake. No way am I strong enough to carry you inside."

He looked around. They were parked outside her apartment building. "What happened?" He tasted the inside of his mouth again with growing terror, shifting in the seat, agitated.

"You don't remember?" she said, raising her eyebrows. He shook his head, puzzled and disoriented. Why wasn't Cordy angry, or frightened? Surely she had seen him...

Reaching up with trembling fingers, he touched the corner of his mouth. They came away smeared with congealed blood. "Cara," he gasped. "I killed her?"

"Don't get all amateur dramatic society on me. Cara's fine. Wes and Gunn are with her at the hospital." Cordelia rolled her eyes, but her voice was soft and reassuring.

"But I fed from her."

"Don't worry, you didn't get past the appetizer," she said.

The car felt like it spun for a moment, and he didn't care what or who had stopped him. Just that he hadn't killed anyone. And that Cordy was still talking to him, which was a miracle after what she'd seen him do. Cara, however...

"I -- I should go, apologise to her." He started struggling to get the door open, frantic. His hands shook and he fumbled the lock.

"I don't think she wants to see you right now. Or anytime, well -- ever," she said, holding out her hand. "Come on, you look like hell."

They made their way inside in silence. "Dennis, hot bath please?" she called, tossing the car keys onto the mantelpiece. The sound of running water drifted from the bathroom.

"Why are we here?" Angel stood in the middle of the room, shuffling his feet, wishing he could get over the adrenaline-like rush that came from drinking human blood. It disgusted him that it felt so good. If only he could stop the trembling...

"I don't know," Cordelia said, shrugging. "After Wes and Gunn threw you in the back seat, I just started driving, and here we are. I didn't want to go back to the hotel."

He sat down on the sofa, and rubbed his face restlessly. "What happened?"

"It's my fault." She sat beside him, close enough so her arm was pressed against his. "I wiped Cara's blood all over you." She held out her hands, still tainted with the offending substance, although it looked like she'd tried to wash them.

"She never touched me?" he said, looking up into her face.

"Well, some of her did," she sighed, flexing her stained fingers. "I'm sorry."

She blamed herself. How was it that every time he tried to protect her, he seemed to end up hurting her? He reached out and touched the side of her face gently. "It wasn't your fault. You're the only thing that's kept me sane these last couple of days."

"You weren't going mad, Angel. It was part of the prophecy," she said.

He shook his head, not understanding. "How?"

"The prophecy didn't mean you had to sleep with her -- it meant you had to feed from her. Wesley finally worked it out. Kinda after the fact, unfortunately."

He frowned. "So -- the hallucinations?"

"Would you have bitten her willingly?" she asked.

Of course not. He would never have fed from Cara, not without a one-hundred-percent guarantee that it was the right thing to do. Even then he couldn't have been sure he'd stop drinking in time. And he wouldn't have risked killing her. "You're sure that was it? That it worked?"

"Well, there was a big explosion. And in the ambulance after, Wesley looked at Cara's birthmark, and it was gone. Not even a hole where you..." She made a biting motion. "I'd say that all adds up to a great big 'duh'," she said, her face softening into a smile. "You're not crazy, Angel, you never were. Everything you were feeling was put there by someone -- or something."

"Not everything," he murmured, cupping her cheek. He leaned in for a kiss, and she shrank away, her face screwing up. Of course, she wouldn't want him now, not after what he'd done. He hung his head. So close, and yet...

"No, Angel, I'm sorry." Cordelia took his hand. "I would, but right now there's a really sick twist on 'you've got something in your teeth' that's grossing me out. You wash up, then perhaps after, there could be -- kissage."

She got up and went to the linen closet, getting towels and washcloths, while he watched her from the sofa.

That's when the relief hit, surging through him, combining with the blood-rush and forcing him to his feet. He'd been to the very brink, the precipice of total darkness, and this time his friends were there to pull him back. Cordelia had been right. Letting them in had saved him. Without them, he would have run from this, Cara would probably be dead, and he'd be alone again.

Last time he'd totally blown it, driven them away. This time, he still had his crew, his soul, and most amazing of all, Cordy still seemed to be considering whatever they had between them.

Pacing, he rubbed a hand over the back of his aching neck, feeling the powdery dried blood coming away beneath his fingers. He could smell it, sharp with iron, and dizziness made him lean on the edge of the sofa, leaving red-brown fingerprints on the upholstery.

Images crammed into his mind, jumbled, yet vivid. The fighting, Cara's thigh, quivering beneath his watering mouth, the blue light that filled his being, the sound of the crossbow firing, and finally, one endless moment where he heard Cordelia's anguished voice. 'Gunn, wait!' It rang over and over in his head.

He was on the floor, on his knees, gasping. "Cordy!"

"What?" She came running from the bathroom.

"Get this stuff off me," he said, his voice desperate and breaking. "Please."

"Okay, it's okay." She reached down and took his arms, pulling him up. "Come on." The look on her face spoke so clearly of the hurt she felt, seeing him like that. He stumbled and lurched, grateful when she wound both arms around his waist and guided him to the bathroom.

He tried in vain to undo his shirt, shaking fingers refusing to obey, and then he felt her tugging at his duster, pulling it down over his arms, and he just gave up, letting her undress him as he leaned against the vanity.

She continued, business-like, unlacing boots, peeling off socks, unbuttoning his pants and easing them down. He stepped out of them and stood before her, naked now apart from his boxers.

Cordelia had seen him like this a thousand times before, yet he felt nervous, his throat dry. She was standing back, waiting to see if he would go that last step by himself. He took the moment to turn away and rinse his mouth out in the sink, erasing the taste of Cara from his tongue.

Leaning on the counter top, he felt her hands on his waist, small and warm, just the lightest of touches, and then her thumbs slipping into the waistband of his boxers.

"You ready?" she asked, her voice husky. He nodded, and she slipped them down, letting him kick them away. He turned back to face her, trembling, afraid if he spoke it would break the spell, and she'd laugh, or make a joke, or worse, shove his clothes back at him and leave.

As soon as his eyes met hers, he knew his fears were groundless. Her face was flushed, a picture of desire. She smiled, not the big flashbulb-going-off that she normally used, just the faintest upward turn at the corners of her lips.

Taking his arm firmly, she guided him to the tub. He sank through the perfumed foam with a short sigh. The dried blood -- his own and Cara's, dissolved and curled away in little eddies as he moved his arms, reaching for the sponge. His fingers were still shaking. He fumbled and dropped it.

"Here, let me." Cordelia leaned in and retrieved the sponge, squeezing body wash onto it. She drew it over his chest, under his silver pendant. With firm movements she soaped his shoulders, then ran the sponge up behind his neck, making sure she removed all traces of blood. It felt so good. He closed his eyes, sighing.

Leaning forward, he let her work the soap over his back. "Ouch," he winced, feeling the sharp sting as she scrubbed over what felt like a deep puncture wound. "What was that?"

"Sorry, sorry." She grimaced. "Uh, Gunn shot you. Don't be mad."

"No, he did the right thing," he said, taking a deep, unnecessary breath. They'd tried to kill him, just like he'd asked them to in the car, while Cordy slept. He'd always wondered -- if it came down to the crunch -- if he could truly rely on them to respect his wishes. Now he knew.

Her eyes were moist. "It was really hard, Angel," she whispered. "I had to step back and let him fire."

He nodded. "I'm so proud of you, Cordy." The words felt inadequate. Reaching up, he slid his hand behind her neck, pulling her face to his. He kissed her softly, delighting when she responded in kind, sighing into his mouth, and leaning into him, her hands pressing against his chest. She slipped her arms around him, fingers playing against his back as he tipped his head to the other side and kissed her again, deeper, harder.

He could hear her heartbeat accelerate, feel the heat coming from her flushed face. He sensed her want -- arousal so keen it almost jumped out and bit him. He wasn't going to make it. He couldn't just sit there while she kissed him like that, when all he really wanted to do was drag her, fully clothed, into the water, press her against the floor of the tub, and ...

"Ow," she winced, breaking away, her hand suddenly going to her side.

"You're hurt," he said. The memory of her blood on the demon's talons emerged from the mental fog.

She shook her head. "It's nothing."

"Let me see."

"I'm okay, Angel, really," she protested, as he reached up and grasped her shoulders.

"Turn around," he insisted, twisting her carefully away from him. His hands made wet prints on her top as she gave up, facing the wall while he lifted her clothing. The scent of her blood wafted out as he tried to peel away the fabric. He removed his hand from her shirt, not wanting to hurt her. "You should have shown this to someone."

"I didn't feel it, truly. I guess I had other things on my mind," she said, shrugging. She looked down at herself and laughed. Grass stains, blood, ripped clothes. "Look at me, I'm a mess."

"Hadn't noticed," he fibbed. She was still the most beautiful woman in the world, regardless. He couldn't stop a huge smile spreading across his face.

"Well, I feel gross." She stood, and for one awful second he thought she was going to leave. But, to his amazement, she began kicking off her shoes instead. She looked down at him, eyes shining. In them, he could see fear, affection, confusion, desire and pain, jumbled together in a look that simultaneously broke and mended his heart.

Never breaking their gaze, she began to remove her clothes, tugging the shirt away from the wound on her side, grimacing, but not stopping. He smelled her fresh blood, and it only served to arouse him more.

Within a minute, she was standing naked beside the tub. Her skin puckered into goosebumps, although the room was warm and steamy. He could not tear his eyes away -- she was so beautiful, and she was -- his. All his. A naked goddess, allowing him to see her in her full glory for the first time.

And then Cordelia stepped into the bath, one long, beautiful leg at a time. She turned her back on Angel, sinking into the water between his legs, and lay back against his chest. He looked down her body, taking in her tanned breasts, and the flat expanse of her stomach angling into the water.

"Oh, Cordy," he whispered, slipping his arms around her, bringing his hands up to cup both breasts, feeling their weight, the nipples pressing like hard little buttons on his palms. He brought his face down to her neck, kissing and nipping at the sensitive spot just below her ear.

She sighed and wriggled in his arms, pressing further back against him. He longed for one more inch of skin against skin, but it was too soon. He let go, smiling at the little noise of protest that escaped from her throat.

Retrieving the sponge, he dabbed at the slash on her side. For a moment, Buffy floated into his mind, damp and shivering, the cut on her back rough beneath his fingers. If only he'd known then how fragile his soul was. The fear of losing it again was still so strong. What if...?

"Angel?" Cordelia's voice brought him back.

"It's all right, just a shallow scratch. You'll be fine," he said quietly.

Angel returned his attention to the sponge, brushing it over the back of her neck, down between her shoulder blades, sneaking around under her arms. He flicked the rough foam on the underside of her breasts, making her gasp and arch upwards. His other hand flattened over her stomach, pressing lightly, sliding lower, and disappearing beneath the bubbles.

Her eyes flew open wide as his fingers slid between her legs. He began to stroke and tease, threatening to enter her, but drawing back at the last moment. She threw her head back against his shoulder with a low moan, and his lips closed over hers, his tongue flicking gently, and then taking possession.

With a splash she turned over, causing a small wave of water to slosh over the side of the bath. "I want you, I want you," she whispered, her lips against his.

Angel swallowed hard as her breasts pressed against his chest. He brought his knees up, cocooning her, keeping her still, while he slid his hands over her perfect, perfect bottom. He squeezed the cheeks gently, cupping them, pulling her pelvis against his hardness.

She reached up and wound her arms around his neck, nipping at his lower lip. With a growl he complied, tasting her warm silky tongue, the kiss deepening, becoming frantic.

She was moaning softly, her hands gripping at his neck, his shoulders, and her stomach rubbed against him. He wanted to claim her right there in the bath, make her his in every way.

"Cordelia," he growled, turning his head away.

"What?" She looked up at him, breathing hard, her eyes smoky.

"We need to -- talk." He moved one hand to her back, running a finger along the dip of her spine.

"Now?" Her voice was heavy with disbelief.

"Are we doing what I think we're doing?" he murmured, nuzzling her cheek with his nose and lips.

"Well, duh! I thought you knew all about the birds and the bees." She rolled her eyes at him, but she was smiling.

"If the prophecy didn't work..."

"It did," she cut him off, planting little, warm kisses along his jaw line.

"Do you have a stake?" he asked quietly, struggling to keep his train of thought.

She stopped abruptly, kneeling back, looking at him with wide, sad eyes. "Yes," she said. "But..."

"If I turn, there'll be a minute or two where I'm weak, in pain, disoriented. You have to do it then." He leaned forward, cupping her face in his hands as her eyes filled with tears.

"No, Angel." She bit her lip. "I've already had to face losing you once tonight, and now you're asking me to do it again? I can't."

He pushed her hair back from her damp face. "You were very brave, and you know it was the right thing to do. I need you to be brave for me again."

"I wasn't brave, I was so scared," she said, the words rushing out. "I was going to lose you, just when I..." She put her hand over her mouth, suppressing a sob.

For a second she was silent, and then she took a deep breath. "The prophecy worked. I saw it. I saw her leg, the mark was gone. But if you think it didn't work..."

"No, I think it worked," he said, and he felt in his unbeating heart that it was true. "I'm sure it worked. I just want to cover all the bases. Which means you have to promise me -- just in case. I don't want to hurt you, ever again."

"I promise," she whispered.

Those two small words set him free. Free to finally feel the happiness she brought to him, free to love her with every fiber of his being, free to totally let go and share everything with her.


Cordelia marvelled at the look on Angel's face -- something lifted from it as she spoke. With a groan he drew his legs up beneath him, sliding his arms around her waist, lowering her back against the foot of the bath, reversing their previous position. She sighed as he pressed down against her. She could feel his anticipation growing, every muscle tensing.

He brushed his lips against hers, just once, before wandering away across her face, stopping at her cheekbone, backtracking, then moving purposefully towards her ear. He tripped down the pathway between jaw and neck, lingered in the valley of her throat, and then rushed joyfully towards her breasts. Everywhere he'd been left tracks of fire on her skin, like he'd planted a trail of tiny candles that burned just for her.

She curled her hands in his hair, holding his head to her as he lapped and sucked, fuelling the desire she felt for him. His teeth nipped playfully, teasingly; his tongue circling, dragging over sensitive skin, drawing gasps from deep within her.

And then he was on the move again, turning his attention to her stomach. His chin dipped into the water as he kissed her belly button, and then his whole face submerged into the bubbles.

His hands slid down to her thighs, gently parting her legs, pushing them against the sides of the bath. He nuzzled his mouth at her entrance, and his tongue found the hard little pebble there, his rough tastebuds caressing her into a frenzy.

Cordelia threw her head back, crying his name over and over. He was relentless, driving her closer to the edge. Oh, God, thank-you for a lover who never had to breathe. She was vibrating, her thighs and stomach quivering, and she let go of his head to grip the sides of the bathtub. Just to hang on to something solid as the rest of her world flew away in a whirlwind of sensation and heat.

He was watching her. She gulped in another lungful of air and looked down at his face, chin resting on her stomach, rivulets of water running down out of his hair. Hello, soapy goodness. And that devastating smile spread from ear to ear. Twice in one night -- that had to be a record on the Angel smile-o-meter.

Slowly, he uncurled himself from the kneeling position, splashing the cooling water, and she shivered, just a little.

"Cold?" he asked. She nodded reluctantly, never wanting to leave the sanctuary of the tub again. But that would lead to pruneyness, which wasn't attractive. Best to get out now.

He was already up, in more ways than one, she noted with a smile. Strong arms grasped hers, pulling her to her feet. Gone were the tremors and trembles of earlier, he was steady, solid, hard -- so hard...

"Cordy," he laughed, as she threw herself into his arms, craving to finish what had been started. "I can't dry you like this."

"Don't care," she murmured.

"Well, I do." He unwound her from his chest, stepping onto the sopping carpet.

He picked up the towel she had fetched, raising an eyebrow as he saw the second one beneath it. Cordelia could feel herself blushing. He knotted his around his waist, raising the other like a matador's cape, sweeping it around her and pulling her close.

Gently his large hands began to rub, making slow, wide circles on her back. She felt like a cat, arching against his touch, purring with pleasure. He reached down, cupping a hand behind her knee, bringing it up to his hip, running the towel over the back of her thigh.

She surrendered completely, leaning her head against his chest, hands clasped behind his neck, pliant in his arms as he caressed the water from her skin.


Heat was radiating off her in waves. She was the sun, shining just for him, filling him with light, with warmth. He remembered a time when he would have done - did do the unthinkable -- just to feel anything besides the cold. And now it was gone.

"Angel?" Her voice was thick as honey, dripping over him, coating him.

"Mmm?" He'd stopped moving. How long had he stood there, oblivious in her embrace?

"Enough with the drying already," she whispered, discarding her towel. It flowed down her body in ripples, pooling around her feet. "Come to bed."

He lifted her in his arms -- a feather -- carried her to the bedroom, and laid her on the bed, standing back to admire her.

"Too beautiful." He shook his head. She had no right to be that perfect.

"Less puppy eyes, more touching." She held out her hand, her hazel eyes dancing in the dim light from the hallway. He curled his fingers with hers, and let her pull him down.

"I love you, Cordelia," he whispered, cradling the side of her face with his hand.

"Angel," she sighed, reaching down, tugging the towel away from around his slim hips.


She gazed at him, stretched beside her, propped on one elbow, his long body a study of shadow and light. His skin pale, criss-crossed with cuts, and dappled with bruises and dew-drops of bathwater that the towel hadn't captured. Muscles, taut and hard. Beautiful, beautiful Angel.

"Cordy?" he whispered, his eyes asking permission to pass the point of no return.

"Follow me," she breathed, taking his hand in hers, drawing his fingers over her breast, thrilled at his touch. Shivering, she raised his palm to her face, licked it, tasting soap and skin, drawing his forefinger and thumb into her mouth, sucking hard. His other arm trembled beneath him, and his eyes flashed with desire.

She took his wet fingers; dragged them down her neck, moistening the hollow of her throat. She ached for him even more, watching her proud warrior submitting, meekly allowing her to guide him where she most needed him to be. He must have known, better than any man, how to touch a woman, yet he let her take the lead.

She pressed his hand to her mouth again, running the pads of his fingers around her lips, her tongue darting out to meet them. Arching upwards, brushing the cool roughness of his hand across her breasts, she painted her own salvia around one nipple. Then the other. They puckered beneath his fingertips.

His strength failed him, bringing his face down into the pillow of her breasts. He took a small nip of the flesh, sending sparks flying. "God, Cordy, you have no idea," he rasped.

"Shhh," she smiled, pulling his hand down, over her stomach. Fire erupted beneath it, her thighs dampening. He shifted, drawing himself up over her, kneeling beside her. His free hand curled into her hair, caressing, cupping her head and tilting her face up as he bent to kiss her.

His lips slid away, down her neck, back to her breasts, taking a nipple into his mouth. She felt herself lifting, pressing against his teeth, needing more. She pushed his hand lower, between her legs, fingers entwined with his, plunging them into her. His head snapped up, eyes locking with hers.

"Think I need lessons, do you?" he said, panting, a half-smile playing across his face.

"I want..." she gasped, pushing his fingers -- her own -- deeper.

"I know what you want, Cordy." He thrust, once, sending her hips flying off the bed.

"I want -- more," she moaned.

"You'll get it," he said, his voice coarse. He placed his other hand over her stomach, caressing, pressing gently downwards on her womb, as if he were trying to absorb the heat through his palm. Holding her still, he began to move, his fingers plundering her, his thumb stroking her clit.

Her own hand slipped away, curling in the sheet. Small tremors shook her thighs, her belly. Sparks of heat crackled in her toes, arcing upwards, seeking release.

He must be coated in her by now, dripping off his fingers and wetting the sheets.

God, she was gonna come again, and he was right there, watching her, his eyes so full of love... And then his face went fuzzy and the room turned upside-down. She could hear her own voice, chanting his name, distant, gasping.

When he came back into focus, he was smiling. "Told you I knew what you wanted."

"You forgot something," she murmured, retrieving him from between her thighs. Twining her fingers with his, still slick with her juices, she reached for his cock. She pulled along his length, squeezing, making him touch himself. He gasped, his eyes rolling back, stomach quivering.

"God, Cordelia," he groaned. The want on his face fuelled her own even more.

"I want that, too," she whispered, stilling their hands.

"Then take it, baby," he said raggedly, sliding his arms around her, rolling her on top. She knelt astride him, the anticipation delicious as she hovered over him.

"Angel, I love you." She bent forward, kissing his scarred chest. His fingers laced in her hair, holding her head to him, as she gently lowered herself down, over him, enveloping him.

He filled her completely, and she gasped as she settled all the way.

"Okay?" he asked, stroking her hair.

"Better than," she said, sitting up, leaning her hands on his chest, feeling his hard nipples under her palms. Slowly, she began to move, getting used to his size, his feel. His hands slid onto her hips, guiding her, urging her on. The air in the room began to hum. "Do you feel that?" she whispered.

He sat up, clasping her to his chest, forcing her to stillness. "I feel..." he brushed the tips of his fingers across her face. She could smell herself on him, and it was intoxicating. She crushed her mouth to his, eating him, lips, teeth, tongue. No more playing.

He must have sensed the shift -- one moment she was in a tender embrace, the next, on her back, Angel above her, hovering between her thighs, barely inside her.

"Angel," she whimpered.

"Shhh, baby, I'm yours," he said, and his body came down on her, driving into her. The tenderness was gone, replaced by fever. She clutched at his back, accepting it, wanting it more than the air that was rushing in and out of her lungs. His hips cannoned against hers, faster, higher, harder. She felt his cool tears raining on her face. Heard the incoherent sounds of pleasure rumbling in his chest. Felt the tempest begin where his body melted into hers.

Her whole world exploded in a shower of brilliant white light, and even as she drifted back down from heaven, she felt him flood into her, gasping her name. She forced her eyes open to watch him come, and his expression made her cry. His face, normally heavy with guilt, with sorrow and regret, looked so different in that one moment of release. Pure happiness, unadulterated bliss.


This was the worst part, Cordelia thought -- the waiting. She pulled her robe tighter around her, and drew her legs up onto the chair. The stake clutched in one hand felt solid against her palm -- but not comforting.

The craziness of what they'd just done took her breath away. Weak, weak, weak, she chastised herself. So much for being his rock -- his safe haven. Dammit, he was vulnerable and shaken, and she should have known better.

Even the tiniest little sliver of doubt about the prophecy's validity should have been one tiny sliver too much. They should have just made the best of what they had. No-bone Angel was better than no Angel at all.

Sure, he believed that the prophecy had worked. She knew there was no way in the world he'd ever have risked any of this otherwise. But earlier he'd also believed that he was powdered-wig-boy and that Cara was a Happy Meal. It didn't exactly make for a sparkling track record in good judgment.

She sighed, trying to get off the mental ferris-wheel. Hugging her knees, she waited.

The moonlight had gone now, and the gentle patter of raindrops against her window was almost comforting. Far away, a weak flicker of lightning lit the sky, just visible through the curtains. A gentle, low rumble shuddered around the heavens. Her spine prickled. This had better not be the Powers getting all metaphorical on her.

"Cordelia!" Angel sat bolt upright, gasping. She jumped, almost falling off the chair.

"Angel?" She gripped the stake tighter. He put a hand up, clutching at his chest, his eyes scanning the room. Sweat beaded on his forehead.

Oh God, she couldn't do this, not again. Not now. "Angel?" she repeated, her voice shaking.

"Cordy." He swallowed hard, getting his bearings, his wild breaths subsiding. "I dreamed -- how long have I been asleep?" he asked, glancing at the window.

Okay, not a particularly evil question. Her heart dropped back out of her throat and resumed its proper place in her chest. "About an hour. You dreamed what?"

"It -- it doesn't matter." He looked heavenwards, his eyes misty. "I'm still..."

"Angel." She breathed the word out in a long sigh. He was still Angel. No more Angelus.


"Oh, God," Angel whispered. The sense of relief was palpable. It was more than that. It was totally overwhelming. He ran a hand through his hair. "Oh, God."

"It worked." Cordelia's eyes were wide as saucers. "Angel, it worked!" she shrieked, leaping onto the bed. "Don't you get it?"

He just sat there staring at his hands. What on earth had made him take such a risk? What had made him so sure that his soul wouldn't be ripped from him again?
I think maybe we're not alone in this.

Kate's voice in his head was the last thing he expected right then. But the sudden memory brought clarity. Something had let him into her apartment uninvited that night. Something had tricked him into feeding from Cara. Something had told him it was safe to consummate his love for Cordelia. He didn't know what. He didn't want to know.

"Angel, don't you get it?" Cordelia repeated, her pretty features pulled into a frown.

"Yeah, I get it," he said quietly, and at last, he really felt he did.

Another rumble of thunder made the air vibrate outside. The rain was thick now, enveloping the apartment in a snug cocoon.

"Do you want to celebrate?" Her voice dropped to a low purr, and as she advanced on all fours, her robe slipped open.

He smiled, letting go of all the fear, reaching behind her head and pulling her face down to him. "I think I do."

"I love you, Angel," she said, her mouth against his. He kissed her, lips parting, allowing their tongues to dance together.

His hands entered the tent of her robe, slipping the light, silky garment aside as he cupped her breasts. "Cordy," he moaned into her mouth. Her lithe body descended on his, rubbing against his instant erection through the thin sheet.

"Mmm, deja vu," she murmured, reaching down to push the offending barrier away, curling her hand around him.

"Get used to it," he whispered.