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“Hello, Princess.”

Cordy shrieked and jerked her hand upward, causing dry spaghetti to fly out of the box she held. She threw a wooden spoon at the vampire leaning in her window. “Don’t startle me. I am very, VERY dangerous to vampires.”

Spike’s response was to tip his head in that infuriating coy look of his. “Yeah. Just what I love in a woman.” He dropped the rest of the way into the kitchen. “Hadn’t seen you around in a while. Thought I’d check up.” He lifted the lid on the sauce pot and sniffed. “Make sure you hadn’t been zombiefied or signed a studio contract.” He smirked. “Same thing, really.”

Cordelia shooed him back so she could gather up her spilled pasta. “I’m not going back to that horrible office building until Angel sees reason. I don’t know why you stick around there. You’re not even getting paid.”

Spike hoisted himself up on the bar that separated the apartment kitchen from the living area. Somberly, he said, “Someone’s got to provide the voice of reason. They’re all so tied up in their expense accounts and memos they can’t see the evil forest for the evil trees.”

Having gotten the pasta gathered up again – though she had to toss a few noodles that had gotten scorched from the flame under the pot – Cordelia was feeling more charitable and shared a companionable shrug with Spike. “I really hoped Angel would have come to talk to me by now.”

“If you’re worried about this werewolf taking your place in his affections, never fear. He never talks about her like he does about you.”

Cordy stopped, one hand on the counter, one on her hip, and gaped at Spike. “Hey, look, I’ve had mystical visions, I’ve become part demon, I’ve been magically pregnant not once, but twice, and I’ve been out of high school for a little while now. I’m not sitting here worried if Angel wants to be my boyfriend.”

“Part demon?” Spike looked like he was trying to peer through her. “Which part?”

“Ugh.” She turned her attention back to her dinner, though it didn’t need it. She heard the soft thump of Spike dropping off the counter as she poked the noodles still sticking out of the water.

“Angel’s a giant git,” Spike said. He made it sound like an apology.

“I’m not pining away for him. I just want him doing good. Fighting evil. Like he was meant to.”

Spike leaned against the stove next to her. “He tries. He does. But you know how he is – would rather beat a wall down with his forehead than find the route around it.” 

Cordelia smiled. “I think that’s you you’re talking about. Angel’s the kind to sit and think about what the wall means rather than walk around it.” She opened her fridge and set a chilled wine bottle on the counter. “So I take it you’re not going to leave before dinner.”

“Gosh so kind of you to ask.” Spike smirked and helped her get glasses and plates from the cupboard over the sink.

Their arms brushed, skin on skin, but neither mentioned it. Cordy couldn’t help wondering how long it had been since she’d touched anyone. Spike nudged her with his shoulder as they carried the wine and a basket of bread into the sitting area. “So you’re being strong and independent. How’s that working for you?”

“Fuck off,” Cordelia said, without heat, setting what she carried down on the coffee table.

Spike rested his cheek against the back of the couch. “You know, there’s nothing wrong with pining away. Some of us make it a career.”

Cordelia delicately selected a slice of bread. “I still can’t believe you ended up falling for Buffy. What is it with her?”

Spike looked caught out a moment and coughed. “Uh, right… Buffy.”

Cordy raised an eyebrow at him. “Is there someone else you’re pining away pathetically for?”

“No.” Spike gave her his best innocent face, which was so bad it was cute.

Cordy felt something tick over in her mind, two facts aligning. She set her bread down. “Wait a minute – all that ‘Angel is a git’ stuff was you talking about yourself, too! Oh my god, you’re gay vampire lovers.”

Spike scowled at her.

Cordy shifted to face him fully, her arm on the back of the couch. “Go ahead, deny.”

Spike pursed his lips and found somewhere else to look. “First off,” he said.

“Ah-ha!”

He scowled again. “Why are you so gleeful? Weren’t you and forehead destined to be the next it-couple in ‘Heroic Champions Magazine’?”

“Excuse me, I’m just enjoying being right. I do it a lot, but it still never gets old.”

Spike looked down at his hands. “Anyway, we aren’t. Lovers.” He shrugged at her with a sad smile. 

“Yeah, not buying that kind of denial. You’re something.”

“Whatever we are, it’s too bloody complicated and emotionally retarded for that kind of label. Family. Yeah, that’s what we are – the most intense, fucked up sort of family.”

Cordy picked up her wine and settled back again, regarding him thoughtfully. “Doesn’t that make it incest?”

Spike held his hands wide. “Vampire?”

Cordy rolled her eyes and sipped her wine. An awkward silence descended. She put her feet up on the couch between them. “Angel and I had our chance. Well, I think we did, anyway. It was looking like a real possibility there. We shared so much and then…” she shrugged. “Apocalypse, higher beings, amnesia, coma… it was a mess.” She looked philosophically into her wine. “Maybe things would have gone quicker if it weren’t for, you know.” She gave a half-grimace. “The curse.”

Spike nodded in sympathetic understanding, then looked bleakly at his wine glass. “I don’t think he worries about it, anymore.”

They shared a worried glance as the weight and implication of that hung in the silence. Cordy put her feet in his lap. “I can’t make it my job to steer him clear. I tried that. It was exhausting.”

“You’re telling me.” Spike ran a hand lightly up her ankle. It felt good, his smooth palm against her nylon stocking, so she relaxed and let him slip her shoes off. He cupped one heel, then the next, smooth pressure of his fingers working into tension like he was unknotting her hair.

Cordelia sighed. “Good boy.” She nudged him playfully with her toes. “I can see why Angel keeps you around.”

Spike snorted. “Certainly not to massage his feet!”

Cordelia raised one eyebrow, imagining what ELSE Angel might find him useful for, which resulted in another scoff that was SO not a denial. They had a brief mock-fight, her stocking feet against his swats. He looked boyish and charming, and Cordelia wondered how this was the monster she’d hidden from in high school. Of course, she was a lot less naive these days, about vampires in particular. She pushed his nose with the ball of her foot. “If you’re going to give up your massage duties, go bring the rest of my dinner in here. I’m starving.”

“Oi. Not your houseboy,” he said without heat. “Bossy bint.”

“I like the sound of ‘houseboy’.” She scooted back and used her feet to urge him up. “My shoes are off so I can’t walk on the floor, I’ll tear my nylons.”

With a dramatic sigh he got up. “Why do I let myself get bossed around like this?”

“You’re easy?” She offered after him, smiling. This felt good. It felt like she hadn’t felt in eons, since Groo. Uncomplicated.

As Spike carried the spaghetti in, scowling and careful to look utterly un-careful, though he didn’t drop anything, Cordy asked, “So tell me about the Angel thing.”

The plate clattered as it hit the coffee table. “Fetch my dinner. Bare your soul. Do you want anything else, your majesty?”

Cordelia stretched her arms triumphantly. “See? That’s what I like in a man.”

Spike shook his head, undone by her inability to take offense. “Then I’ve no idea what you were doing with Angel.” He sat down as she scooted forward to get her food.

“Angel takes direction. You think he’d have survived operating a small business without my help? And anyway, he’s observant.”

Spike barked a sharp, incredulous laugh. “Angel wouldn’t take a hint if you wrote it on a baseball bat and smacked him with it.”

Cordelia tried not to laugh around a mouthful of spaghetti. She gestured eloquently, however, shaking away Spike’s assessment and making hand-waves of mitigating facts.

“Now me,” Spike said, sliding closer. “I notice things. Like how even a powerful, competent heroic woman who has no need for a man,” his hand slid up her thigh, “wouldn’t be avoiding the sad old git if she didn’t care for him.”

Eyebrows raised, Cordelia looked down at his hand.

Spike shrugged. “I also noticed that you’re gorgeous.”

Cordelia stopped his forward advance with the tip of her fork pressed gently to his lips. “Angel notices what he wants to notice,” she said. “And I don’t think he’s alone in that.”

“Angel’s a dick,” Spike said. He kissed the flat back of the fork, which gave Cordelia some very interesting thoughts. “Can we stop talking about him?”

“So it’s not just for his sake you came to see me?”

He batted his eyes disarmingly. “I have a thing for former Sunnydale cheerleaders, bossy women, and world-savers.”

They shifted slightly until Cordelia was in Spike’s lap. It seemed natural. He slid under, she slid over, her legs wrapping around him while his lips traveled down her arm and then up her neck. “I’m not going to get to eat my dinner while it’s still hot, am I?”

“What odd priorities you have, Ms. Chase.”

He felt very nice to press against, hard in all the right places – coma and all, it had been a long time. And he really knew how to raise goose bumps with his lips and little nips of teeth. She squeezed him with her thighs once and then squirmed around, giving him her back so she could face her dinner. “Well, you can try to convince me otherwise, Mr. The Bloody.” She peeked over her shoulder at him. “Incidentally? Lame name.”

“I didn’t pick it.” He took hold of her waist and shifted her back snug against him. His hands traveled up and down her sides, rumpling her shirt and massaging. Somehow he made that simple motion the most erotic thing she’d experienced since – sadly, Cordy couldn’t think of her last really erotic experience. Probably Dennis and his loofa. She shifted her shoulders to accommodate the shivers, and tried to eat more spaghetti. Two bites and noodles were tumbling down her front as she gasped and arched away from the sensation of an expertly placed hickey on the most sensitive point of her nape.

They ended up breaking the plate and crushing noodles into the carpet, but Cordelia didn’t mind – she’d never planned on getting her deposit back. 

Spike was gorgeous and careful and watched her the whole time, like he was afraid she’d change her mind and smack him. Like she would. Hello, manly goodness! And if she thought a little bit about Angel as she felt cool flesh slide down against her stomach, well, a girl could be forgiven certain comparisons.

Spike’s gelled hair tickled against her thigh as he pulled her nylons down, caressing her legs after them. She mussed his hair with her feet as he pulled them all the way off, and he punished her with a ticklish bite to the instep. Then he was moving back up her leg, and Cordelia felt her breath coming hard and fast. His mouth was slightly open, leering and breathing her in.

Then he was licking her, and oh yes, it had been a long, long while. She gasped and felt herself opening up.

He looked even more obscene than he felt, the talented, subtle tongue hidden but his eyes looking straight up at her across her body.

Cordelia groaned. “Angel… he’s going to know.”

They locked eyes, and he silently agreed as she said, “Good.”