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Playing at Love

I thought about making this longer, but I think I'll leave it where it is for now anyhow. Takes place after Connar was kidnapped, after Cordy gets back, but before teen Connor show up.

Part One
If I had known what was to happen, I never would have asked him to go on this assignment.
 
I had come back from vacation with the Groosalug to find the office in a
shambles. Wesley was in the hospital, barely clinging to life. Fred was
desperately trying to keep the office order while Gunn went out to fight the bad guys. Angel, oh god Angel, hadnt left his room since it had happened. Not since the night that Connor had disappeared through the portal. he refused to leave his despair to even attempt a rescue, not that there had been any chance of it.We exhausted every book, talked to every informant, begged every God we knew of. We even called the gang in Sunnydale to help, which after the events sunk in they were more then willing to do what they could, but even they had no luck. Groo, with the help of Lorne, returned to Pylea in a vain attempt to find answers there almost the vast library of the monks that had once ruled. I think he must have realized I couldnt be for him what he needed, there was too much for me to do here. We grew apart, quickly, silently. I didnt even realize it till he was gone.
After a few weeks of my passionate begging I finally got Angel to eat.  I
refused to leave the hotel, I dont know what it was, but I couldnt leave
Angel. I had to be there for him, if he ever decided to open up to someone,
anyone, me. The visions were few and far between during this time, i guess the
PTB decided we needed a break, our champion was down for the count and our morale was beyond low. Slowly, it took a couple months, Angel finally left his room. He didnt talk about it, he just came out, and sat in the lobby. Hed go out and do the whole Good Fight thing with Gunn, but no emotion ever crossed his face. We tried to be light hearted around him, we had already put away all evidence Connor was ever there at all. We didnt burn it or throw it away, we just carefully packed it up and put it all in storage till he came back. If he ever came back.
One night, while I was working late, an excuse to still be there really, Angel
spoke to me about it. He let loose his grief and weeped. Curled on the floor of
the lobby I just held him, I cried with him, as he let it all out. After that he
started to improve. The passion returned to his fighting, he even smiled on
occasion. We grew close. I stayed late almost every night, and wed talk, after
everyone had gone. Sometimes wed talk about Connor, most times we just talked. Small talk, the weather, a new movie I had seen, whatever we could use to string a sentence or two together. I was closer to him then I had ever been, closer then any of the friends I had claimed in Sunnydale. Sure there was love between us, but the love of friends. That was what he needed, a friend, nothing more. So that was what I gave him.
 
Then Margaret Godat came, with her ring covered fingers and designer handbag. Her son had disappeared after a dance at there country club. He hadnt been the first either. It seems that something was targeting the club members. As many as five people had disappeared in the last six months. No connections between the victims, different age ranges, different backgrounds nothing to tie them together as a clue, except their membership. So I came up with the idea to infiltrate the club as a wealthy young couple and gain a membership to fully explore the grounds. I would have asked Wesley to play the husband but he was still weak, barely able to stand for more then a few minutes at a time, and Gunn would have been too scandalous. The club only had a few african american members, an interracial couple would have stood out like a sore thumb. Angel was the only other option, everyone agreed that it was a good plan, and Margaret even offered to vouch for us to better integrate ourselves with the other members. Fred was more then happy to come up with a story of our background, names and occupations, where we were from and such. It was a perfect plan, and a perfect excuse for some expense account shopping, not that we had all that much money to work with, but Angel always looked good in a nice suit. That right there should have been a big bright warning signal to me, I was actually appreciating how attractive he was. Bad, Cordy, bad, and it only got worse from there.
 
 
 
Part Two
How did I ever let her talk me into this.
 
"Mr and Mrs Evans how nice of you to consider joining our little club, Mrs.
Godat has had so many wonderful things to say about you both", Martin Williams, the president of the club, was a kindly looking man in his late 60s, plump and happy with a neatly trimmed mustache above his top lip. His blue suit fitted him well but was slightly wrinkled and worn, obviously his favorite of his outfits. The tie, however, was a hideous yellow and black checkered design that his wife most have begged him not to wear, if she had any sense at all. Cordelia smiled warmly as she took the mans hand, but I could tell she was holding back some comment, that I was sure I would hear later.
 
"Well, I'm sure she exaggerated. Were really not that special".
 
Thats right, down play it Cordy, not that that brilliant smile of yours is going to
keep us from being noticed.
 
Every man in the room had taken note of her the minute walked in, even in the slightly more dowry black gown she had worn. It wasn't too flashy, but it clung in all the right places, excentuating ever curve and rise and my god what am I thinking about. Move the eyes back to Martin, stop leering at Cordelia like a common drunkard.  I have to keep my head, I may have to hang all over her like a loving husband, but that doesn't mean I can think like one. Although, loving her, in that way, would be easy. Loving her period would be easy.
 
"So you are in Real Estate, is that right Rob?" Mrs. Williams is looking right
at me, right Im Rob, gotta try and remember that.
 
"Yes, I am", I nod and smile, hopefully she bought it. I was never a very good
liar.
 
"And you've moved up here from San Fransico? I love San Fransico, especially Ghiradelli Square, their chocolate is divine, dont you think?" You could tell by looking at the woman, she's had more then her fair share, and then some.
 
"Oh yes, and their coffee is too die for too". Thank god Cordy took over, I
think I'll just stand by and be that strong silent type. She can keep up the
facade during all this inane small talk, and prehaps I won't feel the need to
shot myself in the head.
 
'Do you too have a house yet, being in Real Estate yourself, you can probably
get a really good deal, huh".
 
"Well, not yet, were still looking for just the perfect place", Cordy is hanging on me, Cordy is hanging all over me, oh God, "Until then were renting this quaint little apartment in Silverlake".
 
Martin hands me a glass of scotch, just what I need. "So you too have any kids yet?"
 
 And thats all it takes, to bring everything thats happened back. I can practically see the cloud hovering over my head.
 
Cordy looks at a loss, but she covers well, "Uh, no".
 
I can't take anymore and wander off to a dark corner, where I can sit and brood for awhile. I"m sure Cordy can come up with something, by their glances of pity and sadness, I have a feeling she may have overdone it. After a few more minutes of small talk, Cordy wanders over to where Im sitting.
 
"You okay? Stupid question of course not. God I didn't even think about .. well that they'd ask about that. God, I should have known better. I'm so sorry. I told them the story, well not exactly. I left out the part about the vampire mom and the time tripping maniac who jumped through a portal to an alternate reality but, I should really just shut up now".
 
She's knelling in front of my chair, with such concern in her eyes. I want to
take her in my arms and run my fingers through her hair until the pain goes
away, but instead I just look at her. "Im okay. We should get back to the
party".
 
"Are you sure?"
 
"Yeah". She smiles at that, one of those million dollar smiles. She stands and
holds out a hand to me, I take it and we wander back towards the other guests.
 
"Good, because you've been invited to a poker game in the trophy room, and I"m going off with the other wives from some gossip in the lounge".
 
"Are you sure its a good idea to split up like that? What if something
happens?"
 
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine".
 
Martin walks up to us then and grabs me by the shoulder, "So you ready to lose your shirt to me in some poker. Just kidding, its just some harmless fun with Brandy and cigars. Do you smoke?"
 
"Only during the day".
 
"Right, uh okay, lets leave these lovely ladies to their chit chat and go have
some fun". He leans over a gives his wife a peck on the cheek before heading to the door.
 
Cordy looks up at me, still holding my hand, "Go on honey, try not to have to
much fun without me".
 
"Not a chance in hell". I say it with a smile, but it's all sarcasm. Then I do
something I immedietly wish I could take back, I lean in and give her a quick
husbandly kiss. Okay maybe it wasnt so much quick as soft and loving. The shock in her eyes is almost enough to cause me to break character, but I play it off and hurry out of the room.  I can't help smiling, It was a nice kiss,
comfortable. It felt like the right thing to do, for so many reasons.
 
Oh geez, she's gonna kill me.
 
 
 

Part Three
And then it happened...
 
It had been hours since I had left the club. I just couldn't stay after that. After he kissed me like that. My god what was he thinking? He was thinking that's what married people do, he was acting, just like I asked him to do. It's my own fault, and he probably doesn't even care. Didn't mean a thing to him, I'm sure.
 
God I could kill him.
 
Here I am pacing the apartment, wearing a goove into the floor, again, wondering where he is, and what's going on. And the more I pace the more I think about that kiss, and it meaning nothing, how it was all an act, and the madder I get. Why! I don't understand myself, it was acting, something I do for a living. Or at least I would if I could get a decent paying job at it. So why was I so upset about one little kiss. I wasn't, it wasn't the kiss that had me upset, it was the thought of it being only acting and meaning nothing to him. I'm insane for thinking this way. Where is he?
 
"Argg!"
 
 
 
 
So here I am, standing outside her door, getting ready for the inevitable screams and accusations. And the begging for forgiviness I'm bound to have to do. I've been standing here getting ready for about thirty minutes now. I can hear her pacing just inside the door, man she must be really mad. The demon was nothing compared to what I'm about to face in that little apartment. I should just get this over with. So I knock. Moments later the door swings open and I can see it on her face, this is going to be a long night.
 
"Where have you been! I've been waiting for hours. Who the hell do you think you are!"
 
"Cordy," Angel stammers over the words, "Can I come in?" Almost afraid she'll say no.
 
"Get your undead ass in here!", she grabs me and pulls me inside, almost making me lose my balance, "You've got a lot of nerve buster!"
 
I stand there, looking very much like a wounded puupy, wringing my hands, unsure of what I can say to improve this situation." Cordy, I'm sorry.."
 
"You're sorry!"
 
"I was just.."
 
"You were just what Angel?!"
 
"I was acting, like you asked me to!"
 
"Like I asked you too! I don't remeber ever asking you to kiss me!"
 
"I just thought that's what I should do in that moment, we were pretending to be a happily married couple, what did you want, for me to act like we didn't care for each other in that way? I don't think they would have bought it if I hadn't acting like I..."
 
"Like you what?"
 
"Like I loved you."
 
"Oh, of course you were acting like you loved me so they wouldn't be the wiser!"
 
"What did you want me to do!"
 
"What I want.. what I want.. I...I..." suddenly she wasn't quite sure what she wanted. Actually she knew exactly what she wanted, but that was something that she could never have.
 
"Cordy?"
 
"Never mind.", she turns to walk to the kitchen and away from the whole conversation.
 
I grab her by the elbow and turn her to face me, holding her arms gently as I look into her eyes. Her eyes that I expected to be full of rage but find that they are full of conflicting emotions, "What do you want me to do."
 
"I ... I can't talk about this anymore.", she turns her head away from her concerned friend's face, a friend who truely cares about her, but not for her.
 
"Cordy, look at me," I gently lift her chin so she's looking at my face, I can see the tears welling up in her eyes. It's all I can do to keep for pulling her into a tight embrace. Seeing her upset is killing me. "Tell me, what do you want?"
 
"Damn it Angel," she pulls away from me and takes a step back, " I want you to kiss me and actually mean it!"

Her eyes go wide at the realization of what she has just said. She looks at her best friend who seems as shocked as she is. All they can do is stare at one another. The silence between them is almost deafing. For a moment that is all they can do.

Part four

The two stared at each other. Cordelia couldn’t believe that had just come out of her mouth. Of course it was true, but that didn’t mean she wanted him to know it. She didn’t know what to say next, how to take it back without being to mean about it.

Angel stared at her, unsure what to do next, unsure if what she had said was what she really meant or if maybe he had misheard her. Should he take her in his arms and kiss her the way he wanted to, had wanted to for so long, did he dare risk it.

Suddenly there was a crash in the kitchen which broke the silence. Dennis wasn’t too fond of that particular mug anyhow, and he felt he should do something. The staring was getting annoying, something had to happen or he was going to go nuts. Watching these two dance around the subject for months and he was wishing for a bright light to head towards to get away from it.

Cordy jumped at the noise and immediately took the chance to sprint from the room, anything to get away from the awkward silence. Her favorite pink mug with the kittens on it lay in pieces on the floor. “Dennis, if you weren’t already dead I’d kill you”, she screamed at the empty air. She began to pick up the shattered pieces till one particularly sharp edged piece sliced her palm, “Ow!”

“Cordy? What happened?” Angel rushed into the kitchen to see Cordy wrapping her hand in a dish rag. “Let me look”, he reached for her hand.

Cordy pulled away, “It’s nothing, just a scratch, I’m fine”, but Angel could see her wince in pain.

“Cordy, let me see it”, just then he was hit in the back by something hard, turning he saw the first aid kit from the bathroom laying on the floor behind him, “See even Phantom Dennis thinks I should have a look”.

“Phantom Dennis doesn’t know how to keep his nose out of other people’s business”, but she finally relented and took a seat on the sofa so Angel could take care of her cut. As he gently unwrapped her hand, the smell of the blood hit his nose; part of his mind perked up at the scent and wanted a taste. It was a part of his mind he continuously told to shut up and then ignored.

The cut was shallow but long, crossing her entire palm. The bleeding had almost stopped already. Angel took one of the antiseptic wipes from the kit, dropping the wrapper in the trash pail that had floated down beside him, and slowly cleaned the wound, making sure there was nothing still inside the cut from the cup. He then covered the wound with gauze and wrapped it carefully with the medical tape.

“There, it should heal easily, it wasn’t a deep cut. But you lost a good amount of blood, you should take it easy for a bit, maybe drink some juice”, at that a glass of orange juice floated out of the kitchen to Cordy.

“I’m fine, both of you, it’s nothing stop mothering me”, she stands up to leave the room, but too quickly. She immediately feels light head and begins to sway. Angel jumps up and steadies her, “Okay, maybe sitting is a good idea”, slowly she lowers herself back to the couch.

“I’m not trying to mother you, I just worry about you, your wellbeing”, he hands her the juice for her to drink, “I should go, let you rest”.

“Yeah rest”, there will be little sleep for her tonight, Cordy thinks to herself as Angel closes the door.