Title: Windows of Night
Pairing: Cordelia Chase/Angel
Summary: Wake me up, please, she said, when this life is over.
Angel dreamed of hell most nights. There were dozens of versions of hell, those he had dwelt in and those that he'd only glimpsed. There were pokers and spikes and red, glowing coals. There were stolen children, lost loves, and world endings not averted.
And one night, he dreamed he was in his office again, that cage of sun-tempered glass and courtesy. He pressed his hands against his desk, the oak dense and cool under his fingers, and realized he was sitting on the wrong side of it.
He looked up again, and Holland Manners was grinning at him. "Hello, Angel."
"Holland." Angel leaned back in his chair, slowly, artfully. "I can't say it's good to see you."
"You wound me." Holland leaned his head in his hand, his thumb tapping against the jagged red line tracing his throat. "I thought we'd come to an understanding, you and I."
"Have I been sucked into hell again?" Angel smiled. "Because honestly, it's getting a little old."
"You're one to talk about old, Angel." Holland flipped open a manila folder, then flapped it closed again. "I have a proposition for you."
"I'm not interested." Angel stood. "I'm done with this conversation."
"Nice try," Holland said, "walking out of a dream."
His back to Holland, Angel sighed. "Still not interested."
Holland chuckled. "Then let me offer you a gift."
Angel spun on his heel. "I don't want--"
He woke up, and Cordelia was sleeping beside him.
His hands trembled as he reached out, his fingertips barely brushing her forehead. "Cordelia?"
"Sleepy," she murmured, shifting across the mattress until her head rested against his shoulder.
"Cordy," he said, but she wrapped her arm around his waist, snuggling closer. "This isn't real," he told himself. "It's a dream."
"Shut up," Cordelia mumbled. "I'm trying to sleep."
Angel laughed. He couldn't help it. He pulled her closer and she breathed, warm, against his skin.
He opened his eyes. Cordelia was draped over him, her chin poking the center of his chest, her smile bright in the shadows of the room. "Good morning," she said. "I hope you don't have blood breath."
"Blo--" Angel asked, before she slid up his body and pressed her lips against his. He froze for a moment, surprised at the taste of her, alive and, yes, with a bit of morning breath. Her nails pricked his ribs, and he arched, slid his hand up the naked length of her spine. He twined his fingers in her hair, and she rose on her arms, wriggling in a way he found entirely unfair.
"So was it a spell?" she asked. "Some mumbo-jumbo, hemlock and nutmeg thing to please the PTB and get me cast out of eternal, blissful boringness?"
"Uh." Angel caught her hips to still them. "What?"
"It must have been something," she said. She ducked her head to nip his jaw, then his throat. He chuckled. "There's always something in those big, disgusting books Wesley's always digging through."
"Wesley?" Angel jerked, in a way that had nothing to do with Cordelia's wandering hand. "Wesley's--" He paused, and Cordelia's eyes widened before she rolled to her side, off him and away. "He's not," Angel tried again.
"He's gone," she said. She pulled the blanket over her chest. "When?"
Angel counted backwards from ten. "Cordelia," he said. "How did you get here?"
Her gaze snapped to him like a blade. "You didn't do it?"
"No, I didn't." Angel started to reach over, then dropped his hand. "I didn't."
"It was a spell, right?" Cordelia bit her lip, nervous. "Someone did a spell."
"I think it's a deal," Angel finally replied, "they want me to make."
"God." Cordelia closed her eyes. "Oh, god."
He couldn't stop himself; he looped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her into an embrace.
When he slept next, he found himself in his old office, his hands braced against the desk once more. A contract fluttered between his hands, the print dark and fine, and he looked up to see Holland's grin.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Mary Jo Bang's Ode to History. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.