Title: Just What the Doctor Ordered
Category: Angst, smut
Summary: Wesley insists that Cordelia and Angel get help for their interpersonal strife.
Spoilers: After Epiphany.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.
Notes: Based on a challenge by DamnSkippy. at end of this first page – avoid if you don’t wanna know yet.
Feedback: It’s what keeps me sane! Please leave feedback!
Hey, my first challenge!(Posted at bottom of page)
“Give. It. Back.”
His voice was so low, so quiet, it nearly disappeared into the thick silence of the room, but the menace in it was unmistakable. His eyes were nearly slits as he towered over her, punctuating his anger as his broad shoulders cast a long shadow across her face.
She wasn’t intimidated in the slightest. She pinned him with her haughtiest glare and stared him down.
“Hell no, jackass! It’s mine, fair and square.”
“I had it first, Cordy. You will give it back to me.”
“’You will give it back to me’?” she imitated, her voice dropping into a low mockery of his. “What are you, Jedi Vamp? The power of suggestion doesn’t work with me, dork.”
“It’s mine,” he growled, stepping closer, his face now inches from hers, his eyes rimmed in gold as he fought his demon. “Fork it over, Cordy.”
When she stubbornly ignored him, he added, “God, sometimes you can be such a bitch.”
Her mouth dropped open in shock. “Bitch? BITCH??”
Her eyes narrowed to slits, her voice dropping to a threatening whisper. Angel was chagrined to realize that it sent chills of dread up his spine. And so it should. An unhappy Cordy was a terrifying Cordy.
She marched right up to him and poked her well-manicured index finger into the solid mass of his chest, repeating the gesture throughout her statement as if to highlight the important words. “Oh, you just signed your death warrant, bucko. You are so, so dead.”
He growled, a deep rumble of pure frustration that reverberated in the room. Desperate, he shot out his arm in a blur of motion, grabbing for the coveted object in her hand.
He missed, and got a handful of firm breast instead. They both froze for a second, then he jerked his hand back as if she’d been drenched with holy water. He glowered at his error. Damn it. He wasn’t supposed to miss.
Cordelia regained her wits and shrieked, jerking back from him. “What, I won’t give it to you, so you try to take it, and you GROPE me when you don’t get it?”
Her eyes flashing hazel fire, she jumped up from the sofa, marched over to the chair and planted herself firmly in its soft depths. She took her prize and buried it deep in the cushions, far from his reach. Crossing her arms over her chest, she stood sentry, her mouth set in a grim line that dared him to challenge her again.
He stalked over to the chair, planting his hands on either arm and shoving his face into hers.
“Give it back, Cordy. Now.”
“Give it! Or else!” he threatened emptily.
“Or else what? You’ll growl me to death?” She snorted indelicately. “I don’t think so.”
“I’ll make your life a living hell, Cordy.”
“Been there, done that,” she yawned widely, uncrossing and recrossing her arms over her chest in a nonchalant display of defiance. “Try again, dumbass.”
He shook his head, a feral gleam in his eye. “I’ll never respect your personal bubble again.”
“I can handle that,” she said, her jaw locked in determination.
“I’ll take back all of the clothes I bought you.”
“Go ahead,” she challenged, her eyebrow arched in defiance. “I didn’t like your lousy K-Mart style, anyway.”
Angel frowned for a minute as he filtered through his remaining options. The right answer suddenly jumped out at him as if it were ringed in flashing neon lights. He stood back, crossed his arms, and smirked evilly.
The expression was so evil that it was Cordelia’s turn to get shivers as she had a déjà vu moment of Angelus before he spoke.
His voice was sinfully confident, a rich velvet resonance. “I’ll call Xander and tell him your still in love with him. I’ll make him believe you have hot, erotic dreams about him every night and that you’re nearly suicidal over losing him.”
Her mouth dropped open in shock. “You wouldn’t!”
He smirked, finally realizing he had a bargaining chip. “I would. I’d even call Sunnydale and tell them how concerned I am, ask them to help me ‘save’ you from your misery.”
She closed her mouth and shot poisoned arrows with her eyes as he grinned his triumph.
Feeling he had won, he stated his demand again. “Give it back.”
She frowned, her mind warring with itself. Was it worth it? Was it worth the trauma that he would undoubtedly cause?
Yes, damn it. It wasn’t even about that, anymore. It was about making Angel pay.
“No,” she said, determinedly. “Take your best shot, freak. I can handle whatever it is you throw at me. I will not give it up, and I won’t let you use your lame ass, demon mafia intimidation tactics to get it back, either.”
He couldn’t take it. He roared so loudly that it bounced off the walls, his face now morphing into the visage of his true anger. He gripped the arms of the chair so tightly that he had ripped holes into the fabric.
“Give it back, Cordy! This is the last time I’m going to tell you!”
“Give it, or I won’t be responsible for your safety!”
“Screw you! No!”
The stared at each other, both breathing heavily, as they each struggled for domination.
Just as Angel began to snap and reach for her to take it back, Wesley’s exasperated voice finally penetrated the thick, throbbing haze of emotion around them.
“Bloody hell, it’s just a damn remote control! You two are worse than nursery school children!”
Wesley’s admonishment seemed to give Angel time to grasp the tattered remains of his control. With great care, he removed his hands from the battered chair and stood back, putting some distance between himself and the pouting brunette he wanted to strangle.
Either that or screw her until she screamed for him never to stop.
He stopped cold at that errant thought. Geez, he really had to get a grip on himself. Wesley once again penetrated the fog of his swirling emotions.
“I don’t know what the hell has gotten into you two lately, but it had bloody well better stop here and now or I won’t be responsible for my actions.” He pinned Angel to the wall with a withering stare, daring him to test their fledgling boss/employee relationship.
Angel weighed his options for a split second. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but the former watcher was actually pretty scary when he was angry. That man knew things. Things about how to make a vampire suffer, ways that were undetectable until it was too late.
“She started it,” Angel said petulantly, not able to resist the barb and feeling a need to defend himself as he bowed under the pressure of Wesley’s menacing stare.
“Ah!” Cordelia gasped, her mouth open in indignation. “I did not! It’s not my fault that you hate Martha Stewart. It just so happens that she’s doing a show about homemade spa treatments, and I have to watch it. I HAVE to! Wesley doesn’t pay me enough to go to Elizabeth Arden. Go find another TV!”
“Martha Stewart is a demon! An evil one! And besides, this TV is the best one. You don’t care about surround sound. Go upstairs!”
“That’s enough, you two,” Wesley said in his best authoritative adult voice, trying to intervene again.
They ignored him.
“No! I was here first!” Cordelia yelled, her two-year-old tone a perfect match for Angel’s.
“But I had the remote in my hand and you stole it!” Angel countered, closing the distance between them again.
“What were you going to watch?” she scoffed, sneering at him. “Mr. Tightass over there won’t fork over the money for cable—”
“Hey!” Wesley interrupted.
“—and the only other shows on are The Munsters and Full House. Don’t tell me you have a thing for John Stamos!”
Angel looked at her like she had two heads, but there was a guilty sparkle in his eyes, like he didn’t want his total lack of cool to be discovered.
“I do not have a thing for John Stamos,” he denied as if it were the most ridiculous idea in the world, “but the show’s funny. And those twins are really cute.”
She gave him a disgusted look. “Yuck! That’s totally gross. They’re like, infants.”
“Ugh, Cordelia! I may be a freak, but not like that.”
“Whatever,” she said, dismissing him with a wave of her hand and a practiced roll of her eyes. “Yours is a rerun. Mine’s an original. So I automatically take precedence.”
“The hell you do! This is my hotel! Find your own damn TV!”
“Yes, damn it!”
“WILL THE TWO OF YOU SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!” Wesley screamed, his voice cracking at the volume. Both Angel and Cordelia jumped, visibly startled by Wesley’s break from his usually calm manner.
“You! Over there!” Wesley growled, pointing a finger at Angel, then stabbing it in the direction of the sofa nearest him.
Cordelia smirked at him as he walked by, smug that he was being ordered around by Wesley and she’d escaped.
Her smugness was short-lived.
“You!” Wesley’s bony finger jabbed in her direction. “There!” he ordered, indicating the chair she’d abandoned. “And give me that!” he said, snatching the offending remote out of her hand.
Wesley began to pace in front of them, pausing occasionally to glare at each of them, obviously seething as he worked out what should be done about them. He paced for so long that both Angel and Cordelia began to feel bad about their argument. Just a little bit, but not enough so that they were ready to apologize or admit that they’d been stupid.
It was just that Wesley was so angry that it made them both nervous. There was no telling what deviousness the man might be capable of when pushed to the limit. Both of them feared they’d pushed him too far.
Of course, they’d been fighting a lot lately. Always over stupid things, like drinking the last of the coffee or messing with each other’s stuff. Until now, all of them had been fights about things that were semi-legitimate, things that any co-workers might be in a tiff about at one time or another. It wasn’t until today that they’d exploded about something so unbelievably foolish. Both of them knew it. Both of them realized that they’d crossed the threshold from annoyingly petty to utterly ridiculous.
Wesley finally stopped and stared at them, his eyes boring into each of them in turn until they squirmed like kindergarteners who’d forgotten to use the bathroom at recess.
“This foolishness is going to stop. Right here, right now,” he began, his tone brooking no hint of insubordination. “The two of you have been bickering like junkyard dogs ever since Angel came back to the Agency, and I’ve had enough.”
“But, Wesley, he—” Cordelia raised her hand to begin, but he pursed his lips and stared her into silence.
“Don’t, Cordy. Just shut up!” he shouted finally when he could see her open her mouth to speak in spite of his visual warning. “I don’t want to hear it. From you, either, Angel!” he said preemptively, shooting a glare at him that would dare him to defy his order. He just glared at them, looking like an 11th grade schoolmaster who’d had his last nerve frayed to nothing by his unruly students.
Angel reluctantly shut his mouth, letting Cordelia’s half-said excuse go unanswered.
“This is how its going to be, and I’m not going to take any arguments. I am the boss,” he stated imperiously. “You put me in charge, willingly I might add, and I’m laying down the law.”
It was obvious that Wesley was just getting wound up, and both Angel and Cordelia suppressed groans at what was bound to be a lengthy lecture.
Wesley surprised them both with the terseness of his ultimatum. “It is abundantly clear to me that the two of you need professional help. Either get some, or you’re fired.”
Cordelia’s mouth dropped open. “You would fire me? After what happened? After everything that we went through together?” Tears stung the corners of her eyes as she realized that he meant it. Wesley firing her would be akin to losing her big brother, her protector.
Wesley’s eyes softened just a fraction. “Yes, Cordy, I would. I love you, but I won’t let this behavior continue.”
Angel took Wesley’s softened features as a chink in his armor. “We don’t need professional help, Wes. Maybe a fifth of Jack Daniels, but not professional help. A shrink wouldn’t help anyway. I can’t tell them my story, so how would that be productive?”
Angel mentally patted himself on the back as he swiftly maneuvered himself out of Wesley’s plan, or so he thought. His face visibly fell at his friend’s next words.
Every ounce of determination was once again firmly in the planes of Wesley’s face. “Oh, I’ll take care of that. I have the perfect counselor for the two of you. I met her not too long ago at a conference on supernatural and paranormal activity.”
“The one in Sacramento last year?” Cordelia asked quietly.
Wesley nodded. “Yes. Her name is Dr. Marsha Van Buren. She is a renowned therapist whose clients are both human and demon. Her reputation is impeccable, and she will, undoubtedly, be able to help you work through some of your issues.”
“We were fighting over a remote control, Wesley. It’s not like its any big deal,” Cordelia rationalized, using her eyes to plead with him to take back his ultimatum. She didn’t want to get all soul-baring with Angel. Not when her feelings towards the enigmatic vampire were so volatile.
“No, Cordy. It’s because you were fighting over something so trivial that you need help. It was clear that Angel was barely able to restrain his demon, and all he wanted was a piece of plastic with some batteries in it. And you were just as clearly unwilling to give it over, when it was not something that should have been so important. No,” he said, shaking his head. “There are obviously some deep-seeded issues here that need examining.”
Angel and Cordy stared down at their hands in silence, both too shocked to say anything. Wesley’s determined tone was rife with sincerity, and they knew, seer and vampire or not, that they’d be out on their asses if they didn’t comply.
Angel was the first to speak. He knew that Wesley was right, but he didn’t want to comply so easily. “How long do we have to go?” he asked gruffly.
“Six months,” Wesley said firmly. “No less. If you quit, for any reason other than your death, you’re out.”
“How about three months?” Cordelia asked, her voice carefully devoid of emotion as she attempted to negotiate.
“This is non-negotiable, Cordy,” Wesley said sternly. “Six months, or you’re fired.”
“Okay, Wes,” Cordelia said, her voice resigned. “Set up the appointments.”
“Angel?” Wesley asked, looking to the vampire for confirmation.
“Do it, Wesley,” Angel said, obviously reluctant. He didn’t want to bare his soul to Cordelia, but he could probably fake it. He had 250+ years experience in manipulating people, and he planned to put that experience to good use.
“Excellent,” Wesley said, nodding. “I’ll make your first appointment for as soon as possible. Please try to stay out of each other’s way until then, all right?” he said, raising an eyebrow at them, then returning to his office and leaving them in uncomfortable silence.
They refused to look at each other, both knowing that this was bound to take them to a level they’d never achieved in their relationship. It remained to be seen whether it would be the seventh level of Hell or the bliss-filled planes of Nirvana.
Two days later found the intrepid duo in the antiseptic, but strangely comforting waiting room of Dr. Marsha Van Buren. The woman was obviously a professional, her office tastefully done in moss greens and deep browns, earthy colors that were both cold and warm at the same time. A receptionist sat behind a gleaming mahogany desk, a hands-free headset facilitating her already anal efficiency. She typed with an economy of motion that mesmerized Cordelia as she watched the perfectly manicured fingers fly effortlessly over the keys.
Absently, Cordelia realized that she was looking at a model of what she should be in her own job. She supposed that Dr. Van Buren’s secretary could be the poster child for “What to Do” and Cordelia the “What Not to Do” in a secretary’s handbook. Cordelia’s inefficiency didn’t bother her that much, but this lazy train of inconsequential thought helped occupy her mind and kept her thoughts firmly away from the stoic figure on her left.
Angel sat just as quietly, his body completely still, his hands folded neatly on his stomach. He stared unblinkingly at a Monet print on the wall, remembering the artist himself when he’d met him in Europe. The man had been annoying, so much so that Angelus had nearly eaten him just to shut him up. But one look at the man’s paintings had silenced the moody vampire, had soothed him like no other artwork had. The smudged colors, the beauty of the work was ethereal. Not a taste one would have readily attributed to a vicious killer, but Angelus had been enthralled. Even now, Claude Monet’s paintings smoothed the wrinkled, nervous soul of the vampire and soothed the irritation of his demon.
“Angel and Cordelia?” The soft, feminine voice came from a door to their left, and both of them turned to look at the speaker. Dr. Van Buren, a petite, chestnut-haired woman in a burgundy sweater and gray slacks, smiled at them and ushered them into her office. She gestured to a leather sofa across from the chair she languidly occupied, and the sometime friends sat down, leaving plenty of distance between them.
“So, shall we begin?” Dr. Van Buren said, smiling at both of them. “I’d like to start with a simple question, all right?”
Her patients nodded silently and waited anxiously for her words.
“This question is for each of you, individually, not about your relationship together, okay?”
Again, they nodded.
She smiled brightly, dangerously white teeth flashing as she asked, “How would you describe your sex life?”
Challenge by DamnSkippy:
This came to me while falling asleep last night.
*After Epiphany. The gang is back together with Wes as the boss. Angel and Cordy are fighting like cats and junkyard dogs. Wes has had enough! Their bickering is affecting the gang’s performance (perhaps Angel is so distracted that he almost gets staked by a baby vamp after a particularly bitter battle with Cordy). They have to get over their differences so they can work as a team again.
*Wes gives them an ultimatum (or somehow convinces them) that they must go to counseling to work through their issues. He picks the counselor and sets it up for them. *Unbeknownst to them and Wes (or perhaps Wes knows, it’s up to you), the counselor is actually a sex therapist. In my mind, the counselor doesn’t realize they are NOT a couple (hence confusion on both parts), but that’s up to you.
*The first few sessions go like any typical counseling session, but eventually the counselor begins giving them “homework” behaviors (like they must hug 5 times a day or they must spend 15 minutes each day touching, etc.) to practice that seem strange to them, but they do it begrudgingly. These assignments should progress from simple and disgustingly carried out, to hotter and hotter and both of them secretly looking forward to not only the assignments but, of course, putting in more effort than necessary. At some point the revelation that the counselor is a sex therapist should be divulged and C/A goodness should be the goal.
*A possible twist could be Wes finding out about the therapist and not telling them, reveling in their homework assignments OR either Angel or Cordy finding out and not telling the other.
Any psychologists or psychology students out there want to flex your muscles??