Paris By Night
Amanda Wilde (MaybeAmanda)
She is either the deepest shallow person he's ever met, or the shallowest deep one. Considering how many people he's met, that's something, he thinks. Something very, very. . .something.
But he can't remember what that something is, exactly. There's a word for it in Latin, he thinks. Or Mandarin. Something with an 'in' in it.
In in it. Inin it. Ininit.
"What's so funny?"
Is she talking to him? "Me?"
She hikes the baby up on her hip and lifts an eyebrow. "Are you the one giggling?"
He licks his lips, preparing to answer with an indignant 'no,' only he realizes he's not sure. The way he feels, he might very well be the one giggling.
But, wait - he doesn't giggle. After all this time, she should know that much about him.
"Am I?" he says seriously. "Was I?" The ceiling needs painting. Badly.
She purses her lips and gives him a long, appraising look. "You're still stoned," she concludes. "Your father is still stoned," she tells Connor.
"I am still stoned," he agrees, because, in fact, he is.
She puts Connor in the toy-crowded playpen in the corner, then babbles something silly and endearing in a language Angel can't speak.
Can't speak yet, rather. He's working on it. He has to.
Not Latin, he tells himself, and not Mandarin. Not Ininit, either.
"That's a strange expression," he says, pre-empting another giggle.
Her back is to him, and she's bent over the side of the playpen. She peers at him from beneath her bangs. "Hmm?"
Nice view, he thinks. Very nice view.
"Stoned," he says, half to himself and half just to get her to walk back over here. He is competing with his child for Cordelia's attention, and he knows it. Ah well, he gives himself his silent assurance, admiring her little ass just a little harder, he'll hate himself for that later.
She straightens. "What do you mean?"
Women used to have a little more meat on them. Cordy's pretty skinny.
Pretty - -
"If you've ever been stoned, with rocks I mean, you'd know it's not any kind of fun."
"You were stoned stoned?" She sits on the corner of the bed. "With rocks stoned?"
"Couple of times," he answers, but immediately tells himself this is a bad idea, and they aren't going to talk about it.
She carefully peels back the bandage on his chest and examines the wound. Her grimace tells him what he already knows. "What was that like?"
She's always trying to get him to talk, which he finds odd, because it's not like she would listen. It's not like she knows how to listen. It's not like he could sit her down and talk to her, really talk to her.
What? Oh. "It was like getting hit with rocks," he hears himself say. "Only twice."
She's dabbing some salve on the wound with a cotton swab. He can smell lungwart and sulphur and lavender and that stuff stings like a bitch, but he's not going to let her know.
"Hold still, Angel." She's picked up the tweezers she left on the bedside table before and is picking at the injury. "Who'd you piss off so much they wanted to throw rocks at you?"
"I don't remember." That's a lie. But if he told her the truth he'd have to use both the D-word and the H-word, and he's not suicidal. "I was in Prussia, the first time. Crimea, the second. It didn't hurt much, but it wasn't, you know, pleasant. Hey, have you ever been to France?"
"No." She covers the cut with fresh gauze, tapes it to his skin, smoothes the edges down with the pads of her fingers.
"Maybe someday we could all. . ."
She frowns. "Angel, you're hot."
He is not going to giggle.
"And that's funny because?"
Okay, maybe he is going to giggle. Maybe he's giggling.
"And why don't you have chest hair?"
He hears a plumy English voice say, 'Welcome to another episode of Non-Sequitur Theatre, with your hostess, Cordelia Chase.' He scans the room, but Wesley isn't there. "That's weird," he mumbles. Mumbling is better than giggling, right?
She raises a finger to her lips. "Shh," she commands. "I want Connor to sleep so I can get some paperwork done." She lays her other hand on his forehead.
He's going to tell her that he can look after Connor, that he's his son, his responsibility, and that he's grateful for what she's done so far, really Cordelia, I don't know how the hell I would have managed without you, but please, don't feel like you have to --
"Your hand is so cool," he marvels aloud instead, because, in fact, it is. He's not used to flesh - any flesh - being cool against his. Wonderfully cool. Refreshingly cool. Deliciously coo-
"That's because your forehead is so hot." She moves her palm. "And so are your cheeks."
When was the last time he felt this? The last time he felt so, um, he felt -
What was he feeling, again?
She is not happy about this. Whatever this is. Not happy at all.
"Is this normal?"
He nods. "Silver poisoning is nasty." He hopes that's what they were talking about.
She gets a cute little wrinkle between her brows when she frowns like this, when she's concerned and annoyed and not happy at all and being deeply shallowly shallowly deep. Women don't think wrinkles are cute, but he does. Not all wrinkles, of course, but this one, this shallow-deep frown-wrinkle - it's cute. Really cute.
"Yes, it is. Do you shave?"
"Oh. No." There's no need, Cordy, he thinks. See, when you're dead, your hair doesn't grow. Because, you know, you're dead. And so is your hair.
Only he is definitely not going to say that. He'd like her to forget he's dead. When she's touching him, sometimes even he forgets he's dead.
"What are you grinning about?" She unwinds the bandages from his throbbing right hand.
"I'm trying to imagine shaving without a reflection," he says. He drags his left index finger across his neck and makes the time-honored slicing sound.
She nods and grins a little.
Good catch, he congratulates himself.
She used to get that wrinkle a lot when Doyle was around, but Doyle lived to infuriate her. Since Connor's come along, he's sees it every time she thinks Angel's doing something wrong. Which, to her credit, is only about half as often as he KNOWS he's doing something wrong.
It's all different with Cordelia. It always has been. Darla was all about want, and Buffy was all about need. Cordy is all about. . .
She's all about. . .
Um. . .
"I have to run out for formula later." She's finished rewrapping his hand and is putting the cap back on the salve. "Gunn got the wrong stuff. I'll stop at the apothecary's where I got this stuff and see if he - well, it - has something that will bring down your fever." Her lip curls. "While you were sleeping, that slime-bag from the city planning office stopped by and left you some papers to sign and tried to touch me. Again. Oh!" She brightens suddenly and extends her hand. Wriggling her fingers beneath his nose, she says, "Like my manicure?"
He takes her hand. Way too skinny. Feed this girl, he thinks. "Purple," he says.
"Damascus Plum," she corrects.
He has no idea what she's all about, he realizes. Which is probably why he wants to take a big bite out of her every time he sees her.
She pulls back her fingers, squares her shoulders, and blinks at him. "Excuse me?"
"Um. . . " Oh shit. Oh shit ohshitshitshit. Play dead, he thinks. Just play -
No, wait - he is dead. But she's not supposed to know that.
So play, um, play. . . what are those ugly little things called? Badgers?
"Did you just say you wanted to bite me, Angel?"
Play weasel? No. Play pigeon? Pilgrim? Shit.
Dumb. Play dumb.
He rubs his eyes with his unbandaged hand. "Did I?"
The grin is gone. The cute little wrinkle is gone. "Yes. You did."
The ceiling definitely needs painting. Two coats; maybe three. Good quality primer under it, too.
"I didn' t-" Fuck. He clears his throat. "I didn't mean it."
She's silent a moment. She sniffs. "No?"
"No." His voice is firm. Damn, I'm good, he tells himself.
"Oh." She stands. "You're sure?"
He doesn't know what might come out if he speaks, so he just nods.
"Oh." Her face falls. "Too bad."
He *is* stoned. He has to be. Hallucinating, maybe. Going mad, possibly. "Too bad?"
She frowns, all lickable bottom lip and big Bambi eyes. Then she sighs. "I was hoping that meant you were getting your appetite back."
"Oh, I, um -" he starts, but she's gone to the playpen.
"He's such a good boy."
"Yeah, he's -"
But now she's on the other side of the room with her hand on the doorknob.
She stops and turns to him. "France might be fun, Angel. You could show me Paris." She pauses. "Paris by night, I mean."
"It is," he tells her.
He's not hallucinating and he's not losing his mind. "I could."
He's just dazed and confused and dazzled, that's all. Same as always. "I will."
Cordy's all about Cordy.
He likes it that way.
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