Title:Coffee and Conversation
Author: Dusk (dusk@goldserve.net)
Fandom: Angel
Pairing: A/m (Angel/Host)
Rating: R
Archive/repost: Angelslash, Rareslash.
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money made. Just telling a story.
Summary: Coffee. Later.
Series/sequel: Fourth in the series. I'd really recommend reading the others first for this to make any kind of sense. :) The series needs a name - answers on a postcard. (You may have noticed that naming things is my weak spot.)
Comments: Feedback always appreciated. As always, for the people who keep my ego afloat :)
Posted: March '01


***

Cary held the steaming mug in both hands and tasted the brew with some misgivings.

"You don't like coffee?" Angel asked, in response to the demon's expression.

"I love coffee. *This*... this isn't coffee. It's paint stripper with cream."

"Sorry. I can't really tell. My sense of taste is a little more attuned to... uh...." he trailed off uncertainly.

"...Things of the animal persuasion?" Cary finished for him. Angel nodded across the kitchen table. Cary, taking note as always of the shift in Angel's mood, changed the subject.

"You know, this is nice. Quiet."

"I'm good with quiet," Angel said.

"I know you are, sweetie. You're doing really great with the socialising but you prefer this, don't you?"

"Is it that painfully obvious?"

"You're not subtle, Angel. You sit in my bar with a big neon sign flashing over that pretty little head of yours. It says 'Back off. Talking to me will give me an excuse to kill you.'"

"It doesn't say that," Angel protested. "It says... 'I like my space'. Or possibly, 'I'm just here for the entertainment.' In no way does it threaten violence."

"Mmmhmm. The important thing is that *you* believe that."

"Maybe... small amounts of violence. A severe being glared at. No bloodshed."

"With those ice-on-fire eyes?" Cary grinned easily at him. "Glaring could give a person a bad case of frostbite."

"I'm glad you came. I just don't get insulted enough these days." He smiled to take the edge off his words.

"That wasn't an insult, Angel-face. I'm envious. Red eyes just don't give the same effect." He took a mouthful of the bad coffee. "So you endure night after night in a loud, crowded bar. Given that you hate noise, cocktails and being around people, I can only conclude that it's me you stay for."

"It is."

"So, no more dancing around the issue. Why? What do you see in me that makes all that worth it?"

Angel started to answer, then stopped. Cary accurately gauged his thoughts.

"And I'm not some needy female who needs reassurance at every step, so don't answer as if I was. I'm just curious, and when you can see as much as I can in people, not knowing something can really kill this cat. I mean, look at you."

Angel looked down at himself automatically.

"Idiot. You've got that dark, handsome hero-in-the-night thing going on. More importantly, you're human. Or close enough to pass, which is what counts," he added when Angel started to correct him. "What does a mostly-human, quiet, brooding type like yourself see in a loud, outgoing, not-even-vaguely-human old queen like me? It's not every day I get a big slab of superhero making eyes at me, you know."

"I wasn't making eyes at you," Angel protested.

"Yes, you were! Answer the question."

"I don't think you realise just how attractive you are," the vampire replied after a moment's consideration.

Cary snorted inelegantly. "Green and red, my friend. That's not pretty, that's *festive*."

"I like it. But that's not it. You're a good person. You can change how you deal with things without changing who you are. You care about the people you help. You even care about me, despite the fact that I slaughter your favourite songs and on occasion, have been known to get... testy."

There was a long minute of silence.

"You big oaf, you're making me blush." Cary busied himself with his cup.

"You asked."

"Well, I didn't know you'd go all verbal on me! Who knew you had such a silver tongue...."

"I'm not very good at saying what I mean. That was close, though."

"It wasn't easy for you. I appreciate that."

"Do you appreciate what I'm saying?"

"You want me," the demon half-queried.

Angel took a deep, if unnecessary, breath. Some habits were hard to break.

"Yeah. I do."

"I'm pretty pleased about that. So are you going to do anything about it, or what?"

Faster than human or demon eye could follow, Angel stood and was next to him; Cary felt himself pulled effortlessly to his feet and his mouth captured in a kiss that could only be described as soul-searing.

"Well, look who's gone all alpha male!" he murmured against Angel's lips. "Gotta love that vampire strength."

Just as quickly, Angel was backing away. "I didn't... I'm not..."

Before he could get too far, Cary caught a handful of shirt and hauled him back into his personal space.

"I didn't ask you to stop," he whispered. "Get back here."

"I didn't mean to do that! I mean, I did, but not... like that."

"Not... like a vampire? You think that gives you an unfair advantage?"

"No!"

"Unfair disadvantage, then?"

"...no...."

"Angel, honey... don't limit yourself." Angel found his skin being gently stroked through his shirt and he reacted by pushing against Cary almost desperately. "You know what?" the demon continued softly, "....you're not human. You don't have to pretend to be. More to the point... nor am I."

"I know."

"Do you?"

Angel didn't answer. He ran his hands through the cropped blond hair, tracing the patterns of green scales surrounding the small red horns set into each side of Cary's forehead. He knew.

The demon closed his eyes and let the caress pass without comment, keeping his external reaction to a small shiver he couldn't quite hold back. Angel's fingers moved again, following the lines of each cheekbone and ending up cupping his jaw.

He kissed Cary again, taking the hands moving under his shirt and over his back as the invitation it was intended as. Cary responded with enthusiasm, teasing open Angel's lips with his tongue and doing his best to pull the vampire even closer. It wasn't enough. Full body contact, hands on skin and tongues entangling... never enough.

Angel pulled back just enough to meet Cary's eyes.

"Stay here tonight."

Cary took the opportunity to breath, with a small flash of envy for people who didn't depend on oxygen. "That's an invitation I'm definitely not going to turn down. But..."

"But? I don't like buts. What but?"

"But, what about Cordelia and Wesley?"

"I don't want them to stay."

Cary kissed him. "For a sober guy, you sure do goof around a lot. I meant, are you going to be all right with them coming into work tomorrow and seeing me here?"

Angel shook his head. "They won't be in tomorrow. I gave them the day off."

"Hmm. Was that a little presumptuous of you, or just coincidental?"

"Can I not answer that? Even though I presumed accurately." Angel gave up on eye contact, choosing instead lip-on-skin contact.

"Hey. Heyyy...." Cary reluctantly dragged Angel's head away from his neck. "Not that that isn't nice, but the talking we're doing, or rather, *I'm* doing, we should do that."

"Actually... Cordelia was on my case and it seemed like the easiest way to distract her."

"So, in other words, you get to procrastinate a while longer on the little talk you need to have with them?"

"It's not really an urgent talk... is it?"

"Not if they don't figure it out for themselves. Of course, if they do, you're going to wake up with dear Cordy holding a cross in your face and a stake in your chest because she thinks you're all soulless again. And I don't even want to think about what she'd do to me."

"That's an interesting point. Maybe I should explain before things get that far."

"Might be wise," Cary agreed.

"I'm really not trying to hide this from them. It's just..."

"...easier," Cary finished softly. Angel nodded.

"I'll stay," the demon said. He looked down at Angel's hands, which had found their way inside his jacket and were playing with the buttons on his shirt. As he watched, another came undone and the hands moved up to the next one. He looked back up into Angel's eyes. "You just keep doing that."

***

Angel lay with his eyes closed, listening to the steady heartbeat directly beneath his ear. The small part of him that remembered such things told him it was too slow... for a human. His other senses - smell, touch, a memory of taste and, if he opened his eyes, sight - reminded him vividly that the owner of the heartbeat wasn't human.

Cary slept almost silently, one hand cradling Angel's head against his chest. He'd fallen asleep playing with the rumpled hair. Angel found he really had no desire to move, found the rhythm and the touch... restful.

And new. Completely new, something a man his age didn't experience too often.

Apparently it was a time for new experiences.

The hand against his hair moved, gently stroking it for a few seconds before settling again. Cary slept on.

The gentleness. A definite first. He'd been on both the giving and receiving ends of brutality, rampant sexuality, animal instinct... once or twice insecure fumbling, and occasionally he'd had reason to treat a new lover with cautious tenderness... but he'd never been treated that way himself. As if he'd break under pressure, he'd been given complete control without a word being said by either of them about it.

Such care. He was starting to see how typical this was of the demon. But then, Cary knew everything... who he'd been, what he'd done... who he was. All seen, noted and used to adapt behaviour as appropriate. He cared.

Angel didn't have the same advantages. Didn't know much at all, in fact. He knew Cary's name... well, not his real name, but *a* name. He knew how to make a Sea Breeze perfect enough to keep the demon happy. He knew Cary could sing every song in the lyric machine's database and preferred people not to try Patti LaBelle unless they knew they could carry it off. He knew Cary liked loud shirts and was openly planning to make off with his, Angel's, leather coat if the opportunity presented itself.

Not a lot to know about a person sharing your bed.

Under his fingers he felt the smooth skin of Cary's stomach. Pretty good shape for somebody who spent his days and nights in a bar. Great skin, completely different texture from human, or vampire for that matter.

Maybe he'd take a look through the books tomorrow. Even without a name, Cary's species was distinctive enough that he should be able to identify him.

Maybe. Right now, he wouldn't have moved for anything short of the world ending. Possibly not even for that. He inhaled deeply, taking an almost guilty pleasure in the hot scents of spent arousal, sweat and flushed skin that were still heavy in the air. They were both badly in need of a shower.

Tomorrow. Well, that could be fun....

[end]



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