Summary: Cordelia goes to the Expresso Pump instead of the Bronze, and sees something new and interesting.
Spoilers: None really, but the setting is the middle of Btvs S3.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I was listening to ASH sing Behind Blue Eyes and got a bug up my butt.
Califi, hun, look away. This is Cordy/Giles.
THE BAD MAN
Going to the Expresso Pump was never her first choice for a caffeine fix, but tonight, she need a latte in the worst way and didn’t feel like fighting the crowds at The Bronze in order to get one.
The café was at full capacity but since the crowd was of the older variety, she didn’t think she’d get a drink spilled down the front of her Calvin Klein cotton tee, or her ass grabbed by some college jerk trolling for high school girls, so she headed in.
There was singing and at first the voice didn’t register.
She’d never heard him sing before.
The tone was smooth, like whiskey, full of things she didn’t understand, and she stopped at the door and looked.
He was sitting on a stool, one foot on the ground, the other propped up on the lower bar, supporting his guitar on his knee.
He wasn’t dressed in his usual flavor, tweed and suspenders and stuffiness oozing out of every pore.
Instead he was dressed in lightweight tanned pants and a button down white linen shirt, with the cuffs rolled up, leaning slightly toward the microphone coming from behind the stool.
She listened, drawn in by the nuances of his voice blending with the guitar. His eyes had a faraway look, blinking slowly when he hit the chorus, then opening again when he got to the next verse.
She could feel her heart pick up as she listened; feeling like something was being stripped back, uncovered, and the heartwood was shining through like a bright light after the gloom.
For the first time, she saw him as something other than Buffy’s watcher.
Instead, she saw him as a man carrying his own wants and needs, which had nothing to do with slaying and research.
He finished, and she watched him smile slightly, pleased at the approving claps from the audience.
Even this smile was different than the one she was used to seeing, more confident and grown up.
She realized suddenly that he was looking at her, his face gone serious as a heart attack, and straightened away from the pillar she had been leaning against, resisting the urge to smooth her already perfect hair.
He made his way over to her.
“Cordelia, is something wrong? Is it Buffy?”
She gazed up at him, shaking her head.
“No, no, nothing wrong with Buffy.”
Her throat was dry and the more he looked at her, the more her heart thumped in her chest.
He looked at her expectantly.
“Oh, I was just here to get a latte.”
“Doesn’t the Bronze-?”
She shook her head, suddenly feeling flustered.
“Suddenly the Bronze doesn’t seem like quite enough anymore.”
She could hear the breathless quality of her voice and wondered if he heard it too.
He stared for a second longer and then blinked.
A buzz began low in her belly, going lower the more he looked at her and didn't speak.
“I see. Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Goodnight, Cordelia.”
He nodded at her and turned to walk off.
Letting go of the breath she held, she watched him go.
She went back after that, every night they had open mike, every time she saw his Citron parked on the curb.
She stayed by the front, behind a pillar, watching him sing, feeling that buzz whenever his voice dipped and went higher.
She searched online for the songs he sung, bought the CD’s so she could listen to them in her room, lying on her bed staring up at the ceiling
Layla was her favorite but Clapton wasn’t god to her.
She didn’t let on when they were at school, never mentioned seeing him at the Expresso Pump to anyone. She felt like his visits to the café were between the two of them, and she wanted very much to keep it that way.
One night in March, she sat at a table, again by the front, and let his voice drift over her.
She ordered a coffee, straight with no sugar or cream, and sat with her jaw propped on her cupped hand, eyes steady on Giles.
When he finished, he nodded to the crowd again and stood up, gathering his things.
He made his way to the front and she stood, prepared to duck behind the large palm behind her table.
But she didn’t have time because instead of stopping to chat with the other patrons, he headed straight for her table.
She froze, knowing he’d seen her already and she wasn’t going to make an undignified leap for a hiding space so she took a deep breath and waited.
He didn’t say anything, just grabbed her forearm and kept going until they were out on the sidewalk.
She tried to yank her arm from his grasp but he tightened it, stopping to gaze down at her, making a slow perusal of her body before settling on her face.
“Are you eighteen yet, Cordelia?”
She looked up at him in confusion.
“Yes, my birthday was two weeks ago, but-“
“Good, things are bad enough; I could do without getting deported for sleeping with a minor.” He said as he led her to the passenger side of his car.
What he said didn’t register for a second.
When it did, she blushed to the roots of her hair, gazed at him dumbly while held the door open.
“Do keep your mouth shut, Cordelia, and get in the car. It’s already eleven ‘o clock and you have school tomorrow. We don’t have much time.”
She got in the car.