Cordy wandered slowly around Angel’s penthouse, letting her fingertips
glide across slick surfaces. Her bare feet sank gratefully into plush carpet, and she dug her toes in, twisting a bit as she
mentally priced the carpet by touch. Her gaze went back to the bed, and she tried to imagine Angel lying there in earth tones,
bare skin washed blue by discreet track lighting.
Her nose wrinkled. Even naked Angel images couldn’t warm this
place up. Everything about these rooms was discreet. Lighting. Color. Angel was indiscretion; everything on the inside
coming out in sketches of dark, Gothic towers he swore he couldn’t remember and everything else overlaid in vampire
shades of black and red. Indiscreet, but interesting. This room was just…slick, she thought again, her fingers
trailing over the black finish of the wall-to-wall entertainment center.
She dropped to a crouch, opened the doors
below the big screen and lifted a brow. Stereo and DVD player still covered in bubble wrap, untouched. That was more like
it. VCR a bit dinged and dented on the sides, like impatient hands had struggled to figure out how to insert the tapes.
there were lots of tapes. Stacks and stacks of black recorded cassettes, mostly unmarked, and then a neatly shelved set, each
carefully labeled in Angel’s flowing – can we say girly – handwriting. She looked down at the titles,
frowning, and then shoved them back, whirling guiltily as the elevator doors hummed open.
Spike strode in with a swirl
of leather, his eyes going first to the bed and then sweeping the room until he spied Cordelia kneeling before the television,
her hands creeping back mid snoop.
He grinned, tongue curling up over teeth. “Looking for a little something
to get the blood pumpin’ before he gets here?” Spike asked, letting his duster slide off of his shoulders and
drop to the floor. He nodded to the tapes her fingers were inching away from. “He keeps the good stuff hidden behind
Cordy raised her hand, covering the still raw spot on her neck. “Come looking for another
snack?” she asked, her eyes following Spike as he walked over to the bed.
Spike perched on the corner of the
bed, arms splayed out behind him as he grinned down at her. “Why? You offering?”
Cordy smiled, a bit nastily,
and then turned back to video tapes, dismissing him. “Oh, I think you know the answer to that.” She watched out
of the corner of her eye as Spike shrugged lightly and then stood, walking over to a wall panel and quickly keying in a code.
The panel slid smoothly open, revealing a decanter of whiskey and several glasses.
Cordy sat back on her heels, watching
as Spike hummed tunelessly and poured himself a drink. “Well, somebody’s made himself king of the castle.”
Spike turned, lifting the glass in his hand. “Stole the keys to the castle, love.” Cordy looked back at
him blankly and Spike smiled. “Was a ghost for bit, you know. Popped up when he least expected it, learned all his tricks,
his secrets, bloody passwords.” He scoffed, lifting the glass to his lips. “Needn’t have bothered, they’re
all soddin’ Buffy.”
Cordelia’s eyes flashed a little at that, her lashes quickly brushing
down to hide it.
Spike swallowed, lowering the glass and looking at her. “’Sides, Angel and I have a…history
of sharing things.” He walked over to her, glass balanced in his palm as he dropped to a crouch next to her, slowly
sliding a finger down her arm. “Course, I always seem to end up having the second go, but what’s that they say?
You can’t be first…but you can be next?”
Cordy looked down at the pale finger sliding slowly up
and down her arm, and then back up at Spike. “I’m sorry, this could be recent coma and slight blood loss speaking,
but are you hitting on me?”
Spike just grinned at her, finger slowly stroking, eyebrow lifting.
looked from the eyebrow to the finger and back again. “And you think it’s working?”
hand lifted, his fingers lightly following the open neckline of her blouse. The glass of whiskey brushed against the curves
of her breasts as his fingers stopped just short of the cream colored bra that peeked from her shirt. “That’s
a very pretty top you’re almost wearing.”
Cordy knocked his hand away, snorting. “Oh, please!
That line’s older than you are.” She looked up at him, eyes widening as she saw the brief look of confusion on
his face before he quickly shrugged it off. “Oh, my God, you did think it was working. You thought that just
because Angel and I…” she shook her head, “not all Sunnydale girls have a vamp fetish, buster. Anyway,”
she said, reaching for the tapes shelved in the back, “I am so not your way to evening things with Angel. You
can’t share something you never had.”
Spike chuckled, standing. “Had you for years in a private
hotel full of empty rooms and Angel still couldn’t close the deal, eh?” Spike’s eyes narrowed as he slid
them slowly down, over and around her again and then shrugged, turning back to freshen his drink. “Can’t blame
him, I ‘spose, lot of potential for ‘happiness’, there.”
Spike paused, his hand on the whiskey decanter, and turned to look back at her. “Demons
aside, there’s not much else queer as folk, is there?” He lifted his glass and then looked at her again. “What’s
with the Queen’s English, Cor…?” he frowned, tilting his head. “Are we on a first name basis, love?
Can’t really call you ‘cheerleader’…and Half-Demon Girl really doesn’t have the ring, does it?”
would be fine,” Cordy said from gritted teeth.
Spike looked at her, considering, and then shook his head. “No,
give me a minute. Somethin’ will come to me.” He glanced down at her breasts again, cocking a brow, and grinning
as she glared harder. “So what’s queer as folk, again?”
Cordy sighed. “That’s what I’m
asking,” she said, lifting the video cassettes in her hands. “What’s Queer as Folk?”
sat back on the edge of the bed, peering at the flowing script that labeled the tapes. “Well, they’re Angel’s
all right,” he said, and then looked away, uninterested. “Probably some costume drama he recorded off the BBC.”
He snorted. “Reliving his youth, and all that.”
“Then why are they shoved to the very back, behind
the surveillance tapes and those Tae Bo things Gunn gave him?” Cordy asked. “And you know…here in America
where we speak English, queer means gay.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Kind of getting old, parroting
this back to you, but - duh.” He looked at her quickly, her meaning sinking in. “Hold on, maybe not all
the good stuff’s behind the fridge…you pop the vid in, love, and I’ll save you a place,” he said,
patting the bed next to him.
Cordy slid the tape into the VCR and then walked over to the bed, sitting down carefully
on the edge farthest from Spike and crossing her legs. She lifted the remote and pressed play.
Spike set his glass
on the floor and leaned back on his hands again, letting his legs sprawl open. He nudged a knee toward Cordy, who crossed
her legs tighter, kicking at him with un-pedicured toes and a frown. Spike smirked and slouched back, letting his t-shirt
tug free of his jeans, baring a glimpse of pale, muscled flesh and the rise of his hipbones. Cordy glanced over automatically,
looked away in disgust, and then snuck another look out of the corner of her eye.
Spike let his hand fall to his belt
buckle, fingers gliding from metal to leather, and then started to slip lower as Cordy hitched further away with an exasperated,
“Spike!” And then…
One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Five, six – shake
“Are those…dancing, half-naked cowboys?” Cordy asked, her eyes fixed firmly on the
TV screen now.
“Don’t think they’re real cowboys, love,” Spike said sitting up, his eyes narrowing,
“although he was oddly fond of Montana…”
They watched as the establishing shot focused in
on what was, to both of their reckoning, obviously a gay night club, since Cordy had spent several years in LA, and Spike
was, well, Spike. They both stared at the screen with puzzled frowns, one trying to understand why Angel would have
recorded these shows, and the other trying to suss out why he hadn’t found them before.
“Hey! I know him!”
Cordy said suddenly, nodding at the character that had been identified as ‘Michael’. “Talk Soup.”
looked at her blankly.
Cordy shook her head. “You know, he used to host…oh, never mind,” she said,
rolling her eyes. “He’s not butch enough to have been in any of the blood-and-gore stuff you vamps can’t
get enough of.”
“Or pretty enough to have been on any of the soaps,” Spike agreed, nodding.
stared at him for a moment, and then tossed the remote onto the bed between them, getting to her feet. “I’m starving,”
she said, walking into the kitchenette. “How many guesses that there’s…” she opened several cabinets
in succession, “nothing!” The last cabinet banged open to reveal a few mugs and glasses and a single packet of
popcorn. A single, dusty, hard-to-the-touch packet of popcorn, with CORDY written on it in vivid pink Sharpie.
lifted it from the shelf, her hand shaking slightly as she ran a fingertip across her own handwriting.
this,” she said quietly, raising her eyes to look at Spike. She lifted the packet, gesturing at the perfectly bland
rooms around them, “there’s nothing else, no pictures, no mementos, but he saved this.”
at her for a moment, and then got to his feet, bending to lift the bottom edge of the duvet and slide a small trunk from beneath
the bed. Opening it, he rummaged carelessly for a few minutes and then drew out a slim book, tossing it on to the bed.
stepped closer, looking at the cracked leather cover of the book, torn and dark in places with that deep maroon-black she’d
tried to soak out of too many blouses not to recognize. And above the blood splatters and tears, a name was written in bold
lashes of fading ink. William.
“He saves things,” Spike shrugged, and then rushed on before any
deeper meaning could be added to that, “turned into a right sentimental bastard.” Spike shook himself, sighing,
and then flung a hand toward the television. “Still doesn’t explain this rot, though.” He frowned. “Or
why there haven’t been any cowboys.”
“I know,” Cordy said, nodding. “The whole time
I’ve known him, the only thing I ever saw him watch was Bonanza. And The Sound of Music…oh, I just
got that. Nuns. Eww.”
She watched as Spike resettled himself on the bed, his hand going automatically to the
leather journal and touching it lightly.
“So!” she said, waving the popcorn packet, “think this is
still any good?”
Spike reached for his glass, raising it. “This makes anything go down, love.”
better not have been a suggestion, Spike.”
“No way!” Cordy said, poking her tongue against her back teeth to dislodge way too chewy popcorn. “Brian
definitely wants Michael!” She tossed a kernel into Spike’s hair. “I think the bleach is finally sinking
“Oh, please,” Spike said, dropping popcorn into his whiskey and pig’s blood cocktail,
“he can’t take his eyes off that little blond bit. He’s tryin’ too hard to give the brush off, means
something, that. Done, er…seen it too many times not to know it. ‘Sides, that Michael’s too needy.”
don’t know,” Cordy said with a half-smile, “he kind of reminds me of Xander.”
his eyes. “Yeah, bad clothes and funny books, that just screams, ‘shag me.’” Spike turned to look
at her, considering. “Forgot about that – you and Harris.” He leaned closer, fingers light against her arm.
“You know, he and I had a history of sharing, too. Demon Girl never had it so good.”
Cordy reached for
his hand, placing it firmly back on his half of the bed. “Okay, again? There will be no sharing of me between you and
anyone. You know,” she said, reaching for her own glass and tipping it, “Angel said that once you go after something,
you never stop, but really, you never stop, do you?”
Spike smiled slowly and Cordy shrugged, reaching
into the bowl of popcorn between them. “And for the record? Xander never ‘had’ me, either.”
a good thing, too,” Spike said, face sympathetic, eyes wide. “’Cause even back then, I could smell Willow
all over him. Probably goin’ at it behind your back, and any sod who’d do that to a woman like you…”
choked, coughing up popcorn and whiskey. “Please! I was over that when you were still evil.” She turned
her attention back to the television, frowning. “Wonder why they call it ‘rimming?’” She stopped,
choking again. “You know, it’s entirely possible that whiskey immediately after coma wasn’t a great idea.”
the obvious,” Spike said, encouraging another drink to clear her throat and watching the slow tongue slide on the television
before turning back to her, “it makes you see the bloody rim around the stars.”
“And Angel likes
this,” Cordy said thoughtfully, watching as Brian’s tongue slid lower and Justin certainly didn’t seem to
Spike had his own choking fit. “Er, wouldn’t know about that…”
rolled to his. “The show, sleaze brain.”
“Oh. Right,” Spike said, lifting his glass
and then chuckling. “Maybe ‘reliving his youth’ wasn’t too far…”
heard the elevator hum at the same moment.
“Right, been lovely,” Spike said, draining his glass and reaching
for his duster. He was across the room, a hand on the door to the emergency stairway before Cordy could do more than hit pause.
Spike turned back, giving her a hopeful look. “What about Harmony? You two ever…?”
Cordy growled, sounding more like Angel than Angel.
Spike gave her a last leer and then leaped through the doorway.
Cordy jumped to her feet, fingers fumbling as she ejected the tape and tossed it to the back with the others. Grabbing the
nearest cassette, she slapped it into the VCR.
Please be Tae Bo, please be Tae Bo, she prayed as she scrambled
back to the bed and pressed play. Her breath caught as the image focused on Doyle’s face.
“If you need
help, then look no further. Angel Investigations is the best! Our rats are low…”
The elevator doors
slid open, and she turned with a soft, sad smile to look at Angel.