Author: Dazzle (RhinestoneDazzle@aol.com)
Archive: Wherever you want
Spoilers: Through the ATS third-season episode "Couplet"
Summary: Cordelia tries to revel in her newfound freedom from fear and responsibility -- and to come to terms with her confusing memories of her night at the ballet with Angel. Sixth in the Prism Series, which follows Cordy and Angel's developing feelings throughout the previous year.
Thanks: To Inamorata for the great beta-read and encouragement and to everyone who's sent such great feedback at the AC-angst list
The symbolism of orange: warmth, enthusiasm, vibrancy, showiness, attention, demands
This -- this is everything a kiss ought to be. Long and warm and wet and slow, making my knees tremble and my body flush hot and cold --
"Does this please you, Princess?"
Groo smiles down at me as we stumble toward the bed, where -- thanks to some Love Potion #9 -- I am about to deflower the biggest hunk of he-man since Schwarzenegger went out of style. "It pleases me just fine," I whisper, and we tumble down onto the mattress. His hands feel good against my back, and his mouth is closing over mine again, and his body is so strong and heavy and oh-my-God --.
God bless Pylea, and God bless the potion, and God bless Sealy Posturepedic.
So, Catalina Island is perfect. I've been here before, when I was little and on a few high-school trips, and I remembered that it was pretty. But I was so spoiled then; I focused on the downside, like the little narrow streets and the long ferry ride to the mainland. Now that only seems to make it more perfect. It's like a little European village and a tropical island rolled into one. The water's just cold enough to cool you down after a long day in the sun. The sun is shining from a brilliant, cloud-free sky. Even the sand is great -- soft and pale and grainy, more like a field of flour than anything harsh or gritty. And with a fluffy beach towel spread out over it, it feels as good as any bed.
I grin wickedly. Okay, not quite as good as the bed felt last night.
"We are only to lie here?" Groo looks kinda puzzled as he stretches out next to me on his own towel. In his brand-new swim trunks and sunglasses, he also looks amazingly hot. "We do not -- do anything?"
"That's the whole point, Grooie," I sigh blissfully. "No hacking at beasts. No running after demons. No trying to scrub some new kind of slime or blood off the hotel floor. Just you, me, peace, quiet and Coppertone."
Groo beams at me. "You are all I require to believe myself the luckiest of men, Princess."
"And we haven't even gotten to the part where you rub suntan oil all over my body." I watch his delighted face, feel his anticipation make my own skin tingle.
I still don't know what part of me is a demon, but if it's not going to keep me from having days like this one -- and nights like the last one -- you know what? I don't care. All I know is that I'm alive and well, and for the first time in so long I can think about the future. Thanks to Groo, I can even look forward to it. No more headaches. No more fear. No more denial.
Like I said, perfect.
Day two, no visions. I guess Angel must have sent the Powers That Be my vacation schedule.
Angel. I'm trying not to think about him because -- cool act aside -- that situation is WAY awkward. I mean, we're just friends, which is a good thing, seeing as how Angel getting past the friends stage with a girl is a good way to end up with a lot of dead people. (Or, more recently, with a brand-new, diaper-wearing, live person.)
Sure, sometimes in the past things were, shall we say, confusing. When you don't have anyone in your life, romantically speaking, it's easy to let yourself project on a friend. Angel and I, sometimes we flirt a little, and I know it, but it's no big deal.
The night of the ballet -- okay, that got a little past the 'flirt' stage. I would say that, once a guy takes your dress off, whatever's going on, it ain't flirting anymore. Of course, it wasn't really US; it was Stefan and Marguerite, emotionally speaking. But that was definitely my thigh and Angel's extremely large --
Well, trying not to think about Angel. No point in flashing back to last week, or a century ago, or however you'd put it. What's going on today suits me just fine.
I glance over at Groo for a moment before turning my attention back to the road that leads from the Hotel Saint Lauren. Groo's grinning, looking around from side to side, taking in this whole new world. Poor guy -- if he thinks all of Earth is like Catalina, he's due for some serious disappointment.
"This vehicle is far superior to a car or train," Groo says. "It is quieter, and it allows for cool breezes and sunlight."
"Golf carts are the bomb," I agree. "But they don't go much faster than a slow jog. They're great for this little island, but you wouldn't want to try a 20-mile commute. It would take all day."
"How long is 20 miles?"
"This island is right around 20 miles long."
Groo looks shocked. "Why would anyone wish to travel more than 20 miles in a day? That is an arduous journey, not to be taken lightly."
I laugh out of sheer joy. Why do I find social cluelessness a turn-on? "Remind me not to take you anywhere near the interstate at rush hour, okay?"
"How can we rush an hour?" Groo says, puzzled. And there's the turn-on factor again. I feel a very wide, very stupid smile spreading across my face.
I take a deep breath; the crisp sea air fills my lungs, and I can feel my heartbeat speed up just a bit from the oxygen. My body feels healthy and strong and alive. Who knew how good just that could feel? Right now, I'm not part-demon. I'm not somebody who prowls around in the night stalking bad guys. I'm just a girl on vacation with her lover, out in the sunshine, ready for surf and sun and sex and fun. It feels great. It feels, well, a little like my life used to feel all the time.
Not that I want my life back the way it used to be! This might be really bright and fun and sexy and very, very enjoyable in a lot of ways that Planet Cordy hasn't been in a long time -- but this doesn't matter, not really. Not compared to being Angel's Seer. I remember what's important.
Still, as long as I'm here, I guess it wouldn't hurt to look into renting a jet ski --
After snorkeling, we wander up and down the beach, looking in the little shops, snacking and talking, asking questions (Groo) and answering them (me). But mostly I'm just enjoying being in the moment, wearing a bikini that's the color of a parking cone and capable of stopping traffic for other reasons, and sipping my mango-papaya-guava smoothie, which is just about the greatest beverage on earth.
A family is walking along the beach too -- mommy, daddy, two little boys that look to be about four and six, and a baby girl over the mommy's shoulder. I sigh, and Groo looks over at me. "Is there a problem, Princess?"
"No problem. I just miss Connor a little bit."
"Connor is Angel's son, yes?" I nod, and Groo squeezes my hand. "You help care for him. You are a good friend."
"Well, yeah, I try to help Angel out. But I enjoy being with Connor just because, you know? Babies don't get neurotic or complain about the love lives or give you their political opinions. They just eat and sleep and poop and cry and play and snuggle. It's nice to be around babies. They make you get back down to basics."
"You -- like children, then?"
This smoothie is so good, and I'm almost out -- would it be piggy to get another one? And what was it Groo just said? Oh, yeah. "Of course I do. Hey, maybe we could buy Connor one of those little T-shirts. I think they have baby sizes --"
"Whatever you wish, my Princess." Groo takes my arm and we head back to the T-shirt stand -- which is conveniently located very near the smoothie stand.
Maybe it's the fact that we spent all day together half-naked, or maybe it's the fact that, on his third night of non-virginity, Groo's seriously catching on, or maybe there's some mysterious aphrodisiac effect to mango smoothies. Whatever it is, we can't keep our hands (or our lips, or our tongues) off each other. We don't sleep. We almost don't stop. It's like I can't get enough of him. I'll be sore tomorrow, not to mention tired, and it just doesn't matter.
We left the lights on the first two nights -- I figured that Groo's first time ought to include the best view I could give him, which is a pretty damn great view, if I say so myself. But tonight I turned the lamp off, and for some reason the darkness seems to have set me free. Not that I wasn't having fun before, because I absolutely was, but this is different. This is -- more intense. More real.
In the shadows, all I can see is the black outline of his body, the angle of his broad shoulders and his muscular arms, as he lowers himself over me.
Day four, and still no visions.
This is still a good thing, of course. I'm on vacation here, and I've spent months doing nothing but fighting evil, so taking a week off isn't wrong. It doesn't mean I've abandoned my duty. It just means I'm -- recharging. Getting into shape for yet more evil-fighting in future. And besides, I've gone as long as three weeks without a vision before; it doesn't necessarily mean anything.
But one eensy-teensy vision wouldn't be so bad.
Nothing major! I don't want to go home again just yet. But, you know, maybe something I could have an excuse to call in -- demon on Wilshire, how's it going, see you in three days. (Right now, with the whole Angel situation, I feel a little weird about calling out of the blue.) Or maybe something supernatural Groo and I could take care of right here; Catalina is too drenched in sun to have any vampire problems, but maybe there could be some kind of snorkel demon or something.
I'd just like some proof that the potion worked. That I'm still Angel's Seer, and I didn't spend the last few nights com-shuking my gift away.
I mention this to Groo as we sit in an oceanside, open-air cafe, sipping our tequila sunrises. He nods sympathetically -- big sweetie, he's so nice about everything -- but then he says, "If you had lost your powers -- would it truly be so terrible?"
"What? Of course it would!" I glare at him over the top of my sunglasses. "I'm Angel's Seer. That's -- who I am."
"You are not only a Seer," Groo says. "Your sacred duty, and the courage with which you bear it, are very impressive, Princess. But you are also a good friend, and a beautiful woman. Surely these things are just as important."
"Those aren't the things that save lives."
"Do not be so sure," Groo says. "As a warrior, I know that many great feats are achieved in battle. But sometimes destiny does not turn on the outcome of a fight. Many a warrior has been helped through friendship." His expression is gentle as he covers my hand with his own and adds, "Many a warrior has been made strong through love."
He's so wonderful. But he just doesn't get it.
Oh, well. I smile back at him and squeeze his hand. Not even my Groosalugg can be perfect.
On day five, I suddenly go completely insane.
We're strolling through the shops in Avalon, and I see a beauty salon. Groo peers in and says, "They are cutting hair, Princess. Much as you cut mine."
He's just the teeniest bit sad as he says it, and for the first time I realize -- Groo liked his long hair. Sure, to me and the rest of the civilized world, it looked way too Motley Crue, but it was probably the coolest thing going in Pylea. I feel a little guilty, and then the insanity takes over, and I say, "Why don't I cut my hair, too?" When he looks at me, I say, "You got a brand-new style, so why shouldn't I?"
Why shouldn't I? I remember how it felt when I got the super-long hair trimmed; sure, I had a little cry when I saw it all lying on the salon floor, but I also felt so light and free. Hair is heavier than you think, particularly when it reaches your elbows. My hair's not all that long now, but still -- this whole week is about lightening up --
"Let's experiment," I say, and we duck into the salon to see if they take walk-ins.
They do, and I find a style and color that looked good on Cameron Diaz. Then, for the next hour, Groo has to while away the time looking at Vogues while I get my brand-new do.
Then I look in the mirror.
"Groo?" I can hear my voice break a little. "Do you like it?"
"Of course!" Is his voice just a little too hearty? "It is -- lovely. Like the shade of the lemons we saw in the market."
"This IS the color you picked out," the stylist says, sensing trouble.
"You betcha," I answer weakly. Okay, sure, this cut did look great on Cameron Diaz, but her head isn't shaped quite the same as mine, and apparently I am a natural brunette for a reason. But, you know -- it's just hair.
For the first time in my whole life, I realize that it doesn't matter how I look. All that matters is how I feel. But still, as I toss my head that first time, I kinda miss the weight.
Angel kisses me, slow and deep, and I can taste myself on his lips. As our mouths part, I gasp, "He'll find us --"
"He won't." Angel's voice is low and rough against the hollow of my throat. "He can't touch us. I'm the only one who can touch you. The only one."
Together we pull off his tuxedo shirt; as Angel shrugs it away from his wrists, I slowly unfasten his belt, unzip his pants. He pushes me gently back down onto the velvet couch, takes hold of my thighs with his broad, strong hands. "I love you," I whisper, as he enters me in one smooth stroke.
Oh, God, oh, God, he feels so good, and I've waited so long, and his mouth is open in pleasure and wonder, and I can't feel anything but him inside me, can't look anywhere but at the muscles of his lower abdomen working as he thrusts --
I wake up and gasp -- oh, man. Just when I thought I had that whole ballet thing behind me. For a few long moments I can only lie there, panting for breath. I try to push the dream aside -- if you don't think about it those first few moments after you wake up, it fades so fast -- but I can't do it. The image of Angel and me, locked together -- making love -- me crying out for him --
Quickly, I glance over at the other pillow. Groo's sound asleep, thank God. If I said anything in my sleep -- well, I guess I could have been yelling for Stefan or for Angel, and neither option would have made Groo really happy. But he's still in REMland, and I breathe a sigh of relief. What happened at the ballet was just so much supernatural weirdness, and there's no point in Groo ever even knowing about it, especially when it's just something embarrassing between me and my best friend, no big deal at all.
But what IS a big deal is ending up in your bra and panties, lying beneath said friend while he kisses his way down your belly. Oh, God. I know what Angel's hands feel like on my breasts. I know what his tongue feels like in my mouth. How am I supposed to go back to him and act like nothing ever happened?
Because that's the way it's got to be. And I'm not thinking about this anymore.
"Groo?" I run my hand across his chest.
He stirs and opens his eyes. Then he smiles and murmurs, in a low voice, "How may I serve you, my Princess?"
"Oh, I like the sound of that." My body's so amazingly ready, and he really doesn't have to know why.
"Your suitcase has been enchanted," Groo insists. "It would contain all your items when we arrived."
I press down on the lid again. No go. "That's just suitcases for ya. That and the fact that I bought Connor about eight presents."
"We can put some of Connor's gifts in my bag," Groo suggests, holding up the duffel bag that has the few clothes he owns in this world and still has plenty of room. Good idea. How come I didn't think of it?
"Okay -- you get the beanbag dolphin, and the toy boat, and the little sombrero that Angel will let me put on his kid's head exactly never." Groo catches each thing as I toss it, grinning at our impromptu game. And now, sure enough, the suitcase closes just fine. Now we can leave and get back home -- and for all that I needed this trip something fierce, I'm gonna be glad to be home. Awkwardness or not.
Groo's not quite as eager to leave our tropical paradise. "We still have a few minutes before the ordained time of check-out," he says. "Should we not enjoy the view one last time?"
"Sounds good," I say, and we step out together onto our tiny balcony. The hotel is near the top of one of the island's highest mountains, so we get an amazing view of the hills and the coast of the sea.
The sun is bright -- so bright. I'm not used to this much sun. I close my eyes, but it still shines through, red-gold and so wonderfully, unexpectedly warm.
Continue on to 'Black'...