Title:An Evil-Free Commentary
Author: Dusk (dusk@goldserve.net)
Fandom: Angel
Pairing: A/m (Angel/Host)
Rating: PG
Archive/repost: AngelSlash, RareSlash, Songs of Mercy.
Website: https://www.angelfire.com/falcon/dusk/
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money made. Just telling a story.
Summary: Waking up, a phone call or two, a sweaty demon and lunch. Very domestic.
Sequel/Series: Fifth in the set. Best read in order.
Comments: As usual, this contains sappiness. And this time, song lyrics, in context. To Saraid, for naming it, and complaining bitterly about the rating. I complain about that too, so take it up with the muse :)
Posted: March '01

***
Angel stood at the door, one hand on the frame, and looked at the demon in his bed. Still asleep. He looked at the clock; saw it was after ten. Maybe Cary was like him, slept during daylight... or maybe just a late riser.

He hadn't dressed, just thrown on a robe. Nobody was there to see him. He would have liked to stay in bed himself, but hunger had made it's demands.

Cary lay with his back to Angel, half propped up against a pillow. Naked, let's not forget that important detail. No carefully-draped sheets to preserve any sense of modesty. Body heat like that, Angel couldn't blame him for throwing the covers off.

Plus, the view....

He stood a while and watched the tiny movements living creatures made at rest; the rise and fall of ribs, the occasional muscle twitch.

"Having second thoughts?" Cary asked, not opening his eyes.

Okay, maybe he wasn't asleep, then. Angel entered the room and sat on one side of the bed.

"Just... thoughts." He cautiously ran one hand over the exposed ribs, moving down to the hip when Cary made no obvious objection. Strange skin, oddly soft. Gone were the days when being a demon meant scales and hooves. Angel preferred this... more streamlined.

Cary twisted around and met his gaze with sleepy red eyes. "Good thoughts, then?"

"You have beautiful eyes," Angel told him. It was an answer, of sorts.

"Sweet of you to say. So you're not, oh, planning to leave the country, or otherwise freaking out?"

"No, I'm planning on sticking around."

Cary smiled. "Good. Me too. I assume you've done all the requisite checks to be sure Angelus hasn't reappeared?"

Angel ducked his head. "It's not that I didn't believe you..."

"I'm not taking it the wrong way. You had to be sure."

"Yeah."

"And now you're sure."

"Well, when I woke up I had absolutely no desire to kill, maim or destroy. That was my first clue. So yes, now I'm sure. Please don't say 'I told you so.'"

Cary just looked at him. Angel smiled, slightly embarrassed. Rather than say anything, Angel leaned down and kissed him.

Cary wound one arm around Angel's neck, more relieved than he'd like to admit. Oh, not about the soul, that he'd been sure about. But the chance that Angel would panic, revert to the reserved stranger and politely ask him to leave... that had been the risk. Worth taking, it seemed.

"So we're okay?" Cary asked carefully when they parted. He leant back against one elbow.

Angel nodded. They were good.

Cary ran his tongue over his teeth. "I see somebody's had breakfast already."

Angel pulled away from him. "Sorry," he said self-consciously.

Cary could almost see the defences springing back into place and used the arm around Angel's neck to pull him, with much effort, back to where he'd been. He wondered idly if he'd have to do that a lot.

"That was not a complaint, and it was not a suggestion that you get the hell away from me. It was a comment. I comment on things a lot, but the good thing is, I quite often mean exactly what I say, and nothing else. It's really quite easy to understand me."

"I thought it might... most people don't like it. It reminds them that I'm... different." Buffy had hated it. After the first time, he'd made sure she never had to taste it again. To a human, especially to her, the taste of blood meant injury, pain. Death.

"What *have* these humans done to you...." Cary murmured. "I *know* what you are, Angel. I don't want you hiding parts of that. Would you want me to stop singing, stop reading people, or... or to paint myself human-colour?"

"No," Angel said with a frown. "No, that'd be..." he trailed off.

"Incredibly stupid?" the demon suggested, seeing something fall into place in Angel's dark eyes. "Angel, you're an idiot, do you know that?"

"Uh, yes, actually, I think I'm getting that."

Cary slid his other arm around the vampire's waist. Angel allowed himself to be drawn closer to the sleep-warmed body.

"I knew what you were the second you walked into my bar," Cary continued. He lifted one hand to smooth Angel's bed-ruffled hair. "...And I knew *who* you were the second you opened your mouth up on stage. And, oh look, here I am anyway. I fell..." he paused. "Well, actually, I fell in *lust* with you...."

Angel laughed and then so did Cary, still stroking Angel's hair.

"But that's not all it is anymore. And if the price is tasting blood every now and then, and witnessing the gruesome death of music... just kidding... then I think it's worth it."

"Maybe you're my reward for some good deed," Angel said after a few minutes of silence. "Although I think I'd remember a good deed big enough to earn me... this. You."

"I couldn't possibly comment on that," Cary said with a smile. "Maybe I'm your chance to see that you don't have to be miserable all the time to do your atonement thing. The big guys make you pay for your mistakes... but they aren't cruel, as a rule."

"I'm seeing that."

Cary decided a subject change was in order.

"So... the sidekicks have the day off, if I remember rightly."

"Yeah. Do you have anything on today?"

"Nothing that can't be put off. Should I put it off, do you think?"

Angel nodded. "I'd like that."

Cary smiled. "Me too. You got a phone?"

Angel reached over and picked up his cellphone from the bedside table, handing it to Cary.

"Angel, this isn't even on. Do you ever actually use it?"

"I forget, okay? All the.. buttons, and strange beeping noises it makes. If it's off, I don't have to learn what they mean."

"One day we're going to have to drag you into this century," Cary said cheerfully as he tapped in a number. "Kicking and screaming if necessary, but we'll get you here."

"I like my old century fine, thank you." Angel put one arm behind his head to listen to the conversation.

"Hey, Ramone..."

The bartender at Caritas, then.

"I won't be in today. That new microbrewery is delivering at twelve, and then Gagreck's sending over some iced lizard entrails and eyeballs at one. Think you can take care of it?"

There was a pause.

"Great. My undying gratitude is duly renewed. And check the eyeballs, okay, because last time he gave us salamander eyes and people swear they can taste the difference."

More indistinct noise of conversation from the phone.

"I think I'm going to choose not to answer that."

A much longer pause.

"Or that."

Cary grinned over at Angel as he spoke. "Ramone, that is none of your business. And speaking of, who is that I hear?" Pause. "Since when? And you hid this from me why, exactly? No, don't put him on. Don't you dare put... hi, Rico."

"Rico?" Angel asked, enjoying this little drama immensely. He wondered what salamander eyes tasted like, anyway, and who ate them.

"He's one of my waiters," Cary whispered, covering the mouthpiece with his hand for a moment. "No, I'm here. Tell Ramone he can't hide from me forever. I'm not even going to ask what you're still doing in bed at.. what, gone ten? Because then you might answer me, and neither of us wants that. He treating you okay?" Pause. "Good. If he breaks your heart, he's fired, and then I'd have to train up a new bartender. Tell him that." Pause. "Then tell him to wash his mouth out with soap and I'll see him tonight. No, scrap that, put him back on."

He elbowed Angel in the ribs, which just made him laugh more.

"Ramone, you hated him. I hired him and you spent two weeks solid bitching about it. What happened?" Pause. "I shouldn't have worded it like that, should I? Well, at least you enjoyed yourselves. Don't make me get paternal on your ass, because you know I will. And that's really revolting, by the way, don't tell me any more." Pause. "I said don't." Pause. "I'm going to hang up now if you don't stop talking. *Thank* you. And this kettle can be black if it wants to."

Cary rolled his eyes as Ramone apparently had a lot to say on that.

"Yes, yes," he said eventually. "I know. I will. Go make coffee or something, okay? You're all grumpy when you wake up. Rico has my sympathies. Yeah, right. Well, same to you!"

"That yutz," he told Angel as he broke the connection. "That was totally uncalled for."

"What did he say?" Angel was biting his lip, more or less keeping the laughter inside now.

"Nothing I'm going to repeat, that's for sure. Oh, and he says hi."

"To me?"

"I quote: 'tell Angel hi.' And he may have added something about me being a temperamental employer who'd happily overburden his poor subordinates whenever he found something better to do."

"I'm something better to do, am I?"

"Well, I thoroughly enjoyed doing you... ow!" He rubbed his arm where Angel had swatted him. "Here, take your phone back. I'm now free until tonight."

"Your life is like a soap opera, did you know that?" Angel asked with a smile, putting the phone back on the table... turned on, this time.

"Tell me about it. My staff, they're like kids, with me as the somewhat unconventional father figure."

"That's a kind of incestuous family you've got there, then."

"True. The trouble is, people come to me, needing help, I help them, they say what do I do now? And some nasty do-gooder part of me pipes up that I could use another waiter, or somebody to do the accounts, and all of a sudden I have a whole staff full of rescued lost souls."

"You're a good person, I told you that last night."

Cary pulled a face. "I know, I know, don't rub it in." He rolled over, resting one arm on Angel's bare chest so he could look him in the eye. "Since you've already eaten, and I'm not hungry, we really don't have anything to distract us. Got any plans?"

Angel reached down and ran a finger down Cary's face, from horn to jaw. "I don't know. I was thinking of just winging it, seeing what happens. What do you think?"

"Hey, whatever you want to call it is fine by me."

"Smartass." Angel captured Cary's mouth in a lengthy kiss that promised to lead into bigger and better things, and fast.

***

"You know, we should probably get out of bed, at some point."

Cary didn't move. "I'm perfectly comfortable here. I think I'll stay, if it's all the same to you."

Angel's fingers absently wound though the fine hairs on the back of Cary's neck. "I kinda like it, too, but... I have to ask... how sensitive is your sense of smell?"

"I'm guessing not as good as yours."

"Yeah, that's what I thought. Pretty much all I can smell is big, sweaty demon."

"You don't like it?"

"I could get used it, if you really don't intend to move any time soon."

Cary started to answer, but was interrupted by a low rumble. He wrinkled his nose.

"Well, that answers that question. I'm hungry, and if I stay here I'll just make more unappealing noises. Looks like we're getting out of bed." He pushed himself away from Angel's chest reluctantly. "Tell you what. In deference to your delicate sensibilities, I think I'll grab a shower first, then eat. How about that?"

"They're not *that* delicate," Angel protested. Cary grinned.

On the bedside table, the cellphone started ringing. Angel looked from the demon to the phone, and back again, debating whether to answer or argue.

"You answer. I shower," Cary told him, hauling himself out of bed.

Angel picked up the phone. "Yeah, Angel... Investigations...." he said, somewhat distracted by the view of Cary wandering around, still naked, in search of his shirt.

//Angel? Are you okay?//

"Yeah, hi, Cordy... I'm fine. Did you want something? Did you have a vision?"

//No, I'm pleased to report we're evil-free for now.//

"That's good to know."

Cary winked at him and left, clothes in hand. Angel found his mind clearing a little.

//Yes. Look, I was just calling to check up on you, because me and Wes were talking and, you know, we worry about you. Do you have a hangover?//

"I didn't drink that much. Really. You were worried about me?" He tried not to sound too pleased.

//Well, yes, because you've been very weird recently, and we don't want you slipping into a brooding funk or anything.//

"No brooding funk here. Are you enjoying your day off? Get some good shopping done?"

//Oh, there was this great shoe sale on... how did you know?//

"I didn't think you could pass up the opportunity to get paid and shop at the same time. And I was right, wasn't I?"

//I'm not sure I like being that predictable.//

"Live with it. Wesley's there with you?" Angel stood up and began looking though his wardrobe, phone wedged between jaw and shoulder. Black, black... grey... black... decisions, decisions.

//He came over for lunch, because he really has no life at all except us and... now he's glaring at me. Sorry, Wes, but it's true.//

Angel smiled, holding up a black-on-black shirt. Employees like children. He could see where that came from.

//So, you're fine? You can talk to us, even if it's about icky vampire things or some new existential crisis... we wouldn't mind, either of us....//

"I'm good, Cordelia, but thank you. No crisis, no... icky vampire things...."

//But you'd tell us if there were?//

"Probably."

//Not good enough, buddy,// she told him.

"Okay, then yes, I would."

//Good. I'll leave you to... whatever you were doing, then. What were you doing?//

"I was just going to have lunch."

//Great. Oh, that reminds me, want me to stop by the bloodbank on my way in tomorrow? You're probably getting low by now.//

"That'd be nice. Thank you."

//No problem. See you tomorrow, barring visions.// There was a click as she hung up.

Angel tossed the phone onto the bed. The sound of the shower running had been augmented by... he took a moment to identify it.... hmm, Dionne Warwick. He smiled and started quietly humming along as he pulled on the shirt and set out in search of some pants.

***

He was sitting at the table with coffee when Cary finally emerged, towelling his hair dry. The demon threw the towel onto a chair and headed straight for the fridge, which he surveyed at length.

"Okay, I give up. It was unreasonable of me to expect you to have food in here, wasn't it?"

"There's coffee?" Angel suggested, gesturing with his mug.

"You're not going to make me drink that stuff again, sweetie. No power on this earth."

"Or eggs. That's about it. Do you like eggs? I could cook them for you."

"A vampire that cooks? Whatever next... okay, eggs it is."

Angel set about preparing them, moving about the kitchen with the air of much practice. Cary retired to the table to watch him.

"Hey... sing for me," he asked quietly.

Without looking around from the stove, Angel thought for a moment and began singing, almost to himself.

"If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter's night with you.

The fire is dying, the lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are lifting.
The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are drifting.

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter's night with you."

He finished the song and slid the plate onto the table in the same moment.

"The lady has a great voice, doesn't she?"

"I heard it on the radio once," Angel explained. "It stuck in my mind, or most of it did. I think I missed a verse."

"You did good. Thank you." He took a forkful of the scrambled eggs. "Mmm. This is *great*."

"I cook for Cordy and Wesley sometimes. You know, after a long night fighting evil. Least I can do." Angel took the opposite chair and picked up his coffee.

After a moment he spoke again.

"If there's anything... food... that you like, you could keep some here. If you want." He tried to sound offhand. He didn't think it worked.

Cary looked at him. "That's a big step. Think you're ready for that?"

"There's room, and anyway, Cordy has her diet sodas, and Wesley has his special tea...."

"And you still didn't answer the question."

Angel shrugged. "Yes," he said simply.

[end]

Note: Angel sings a few verses from 'Song for a winter's night' by Sarah McLachlan. Lyrics used without permission.





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