Beauty Effulgent

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Curiouser and Curiouser
Pairing: Spike & Cordy (not quite friendship, but definitely not shagging)
Rating: Adult themes
Notes: Set during AtS 5 “You’re Welcome.” I kind of fiddled with the time line; by the time Cordy is watching videos in Angel’s penthouse, she’s already run into Spike. Vague references to Spike/Angel.
Thanks: To Anelith for the beta and to Darkhavens and Stoney321 for their reference help.
Prompt from: Adis723 who wanted Cordy and Spike watching Queer as Folk.

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.

And 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 the refrigerator.”

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.

Cordy looked from the eyebrow to the finger and back again. “And you think it’s working?”

Spike’s 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.”

“What’s ‘Queer as Folk’?”

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?”

“Cordelia 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?”

Spike 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 it, dude!

“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.”

Spike 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.

Cordy 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.

Cordy lifted it from the shelf, her hand shaking slightly as she ran a fingertip across her own handwriting.

“He saved 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.”

Spike looked 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.

Cordy 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.”

“That 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 in.”

“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.”

“I don’t know,” Cordy said with a half-smile, “he kind of reminds me of Xander.”

Spike rolled 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.”

“And 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…”

Cordy 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.”

“Besides 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 mind.

Spike had his own choking fit. “Er, wouldn’t know about that…”

Cordy’s eyes 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…”

They both 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…?”

Spike,” 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.



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