Deal with a Demon. 1

Title: Deal with a Demon
Author: ficbitch8282, aka Christie/angelicgal82
Posted: Feb 07
Rating: PG-13
Category: Angest, humour
Content: C/A
Summary: Minor angst, humour and a couple of revelations of the C/A kind. When Cordy’s father was a teenager he made a deal with a demon. In exchange for financial success and power, he’d hand over his firstborn daughter to be the demons mate. Several years have past and now Cordelia’s 21, the demon’s called to collect…
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Everything up to Disharmony S2
Notes: Based on a challenge issued by Luckylyn . Basically a chance for me to leap back into the fandom with a fic. Hopefully it’ll work out
Notes 2: Cordelia turned 21 this year instead of 20. Sue me, I’m playing with fandom. Also, I’ve used Groo as my own character in this. It’s not really the Groo we know and *ahem* love. But he is here and… Whether Cordelia comshuks with him, remains to be seen. *G* Thanks/Dedication: To Califi, my darling beta-lady. Because she betas my shizz so tirelessly. 😉
Feedback: Always appreciated

Chapter 1

“What time is it?”

Cordelia’s brow furrowed, “Eight forty-two, Angel. And officially two minutes and 17 seconds since the last time you asked me. Can’t you find someone else to annoy?”

He glanced up over the top of his newspaper and gave her a look that would have a normal girl simpering around him like an idiot. Cordelia was no normal girl, however, and Angel officially had seven days, five hours, thirteen minutes and counting to go on the whole ‘make it up to Cordelia for going semi-evil and giving away her clothes’ thing so she wasn’t cracking. At all.

At least not for a while yet.

She admitted fully that the clothes he’d bought on his little guilt trip were nice. The guy had really outdone himself, thinking about something that wasn’t blonde skanky and, oh, dead for five minutes. It showed he was really thinking about what he’d done, the gravity of the situation… And yet it still wasn’t enough.

Cordelia, of course, had taken them with both hands. Who turned down clothes like that when your own closet was suffering the aftermath of too much demon goo and not enough dry cleaning? Cordelia, that was who…

But it sort of pissed her off that Angel just thought he could buy her clothes and that would be it – hurt over with, forget about the whole feeling like crap because she’d thought her best friend had gone evil again.

“Any visions brewing?” He asked hopefully, receiving the death glare for his troubles.

“I get that you’re bored,” Cordelia scowled, “Really. But if you ask me that one more time…” She left the rest of the threat hanging and watched as he slumped further in his seat, pretending to read the same page of the paper again.

It’d been like this since the minute she’d walked in here tonight. Wesley was translating some prophecy or other down at the local voodoo store, Gunn was out hacking and slashing some demon…and Cordelia had been left to deal with an extremely bored Angel, who clearly wasn’t accustomed to having a night off since he’d got back.

Cordelia, she was glad for it. There was a little too much noise in her head these days and she was welcoming the chance of nothing happening… Until the phone rang. Angel got there before Cordelia’d even got out of her seat and she scowled again at him as he fudged up their snazzy slogan.

“Angel Investigations,” he said, a little too eagerly, “We hope you’re helpless!”

Help the hopeless, dumbass,” she reprimanded, coming up behind him and swatting him over the head with the notepad he’d neglected to collect in his haste to answer the phone.

What good was he answering the phones if he forgot, like, the simplest of things?

“Oh…” Angel’s shoulders sagged, “That’s okay. Well if you ever–“

Even Cordelia heard the dead-tone. “What was that?”

“Wrong number,” he huffed, replacing the receiver in its cradle and rubbing the back of his head. For just one second, Cordelia felt marginally sorry for him.

He really did look bored and kind of pathetic standing there and-No! She reminded herself firmly. Angel was in the doghouse – a place he most definitely deserved to be after the last few weeks. It wasn’t her fault he couldn’t amuse himself.

“Y’know, you were much easier to deal with when you used to brood all the time,” she pointed out huffily, crossing the room to sit at her desk again, “Now you’re just high maintenance.”

The irony that this sentence came from Cordelia wasn’t lost on Angel, but he said nothing. Trying to hold the tatters of their friendship together was hard enough, pissing Cordelia off would just make him lose his grip even further. “Uhm… Sorry?”

Cordelia wasn’t listening. In the split second it’d taken her to get from one end of the room to the other, she was clutching her head and going down like a ton of bricks. A week after Angel had got back from his little insano-period ala Darla and she still wasn’t used to not hitting the floor, so that when Angel caught her Cordelia had something else to concentrate on.

“I don’t know, Wesley,” she said tersely, nursing the glass of ice chips against her forehead like it’d just zap the headache away, “All I got was a spiny-headed looking demon, chasing some girl down a street.”

“You don’t know what street it was? Any familiar markings?”

“No,” Cordelia snapped, “And geez, don’t you think I would, I don’t know, tell you? It’s not like I enjoy having these headaches for God’s sake…”

Angel, playing mediator between the two, stepped forward, “Look, guys… Stop, okay? We’ll figure something out.”

Cordelia honestly didn’t see how. The vision had been thirty seconds of vague at most – how the hell they were going to get anything from that? She could tell Angel was skirting around the issue, trying to please both her and Wesley at the same time, to not push his luck on either scale and to be perfectly frank? It was pissing her off. She was tired of grovelly Angel.

Okay so she hadn’t been completely against it at first. An Angel who brought her coffee on any level was just kind of nice but… Maybe she was just tired. She felt sore and headachy, her eyes hurt from the light and her body felt like the Powers had zapped all the energy away. And the guys just kepttalking…

“I don’t get it,” she said after a moment, when they’d both been waiting for her to supply something helpful, “I really don’t. There was no time-frame, nothing… Just some girl – in totally the wrong shoes, by the way – running away from Spiny-Headed Guy. What’s the point of the visions if they give me nothing to go on?”

She knew the guys shared her frustration, really she did… But they absolutely did not share the headaches and those, really, were the hardest thing to bear. They were getting worse, Cordelia knew. Every time she visited her doctor he started going on about hot and cold spots and how they really reallyneeded an explanation to this ‘condition’ of hers.

“We’ll figure something out, Cordelia,” Angel repeated.

Cordelia wanted to slug him. She hauled her ass out of the seat, knowing she had to go home before she did something about that impulse and nodded at Angel, “If you could do it while I’m young? I’d be grateful. I’m going home.”

“You want me to drive you?” He asked immediately.

“I still have enough basic motor functions left in me to walk, Angel,” said Cordelia, rolling her eyes as she shrugged on her jacket, “You work with Brainiac here on that yellow spiny-headed looking thing. I’ll be in tomorrow.”

He looked a little miffed as she walked up the stairs but Angel could stow it. She was tired, she kind of felt like she could hurl a little…and every time they talked it felt like little bombs were going off inside her already ache-y head. Not of the pleasant. Besides, she figured she could do with the fresh air.

Cordelia knew she should have taken the ride from Angel when she’d taken a short cut those last couple of blocks to her apartment and that noise sounded behind her – like two giant boulders scraping together – and holy crap, Cordelia knew now why those shoes in her vision had seemed vaguely familiar in the whole inability to run in them aspect.

She was damn well wearing them!

Cordelia took off, risking a glance behind her to confirm exactly what she already knew. Spiny-headed guy was loping after her, one arm outstretched and growling, its fangs dripping spittle and something Cordelia didn’t intend to get close enough to find out.

She yanked her phone out of her pocket, hitting the little green button for the last number called and grabbed her pepper spray with her other hand. All of a sudden the demon was there, pushing her up against a wall and holy God, it stunk… Cordelia’s heart leapt in her chest as it leaned closer and she sprayed it full force in the face, causing it to scream and fall backwards.

She took that as her cue, dropping under its arm and running again, her phone finally connecting with the Hyperion and cutting Wesley off as he started butchering their slogan too, “Wesley, help!” She breathed out heavily, shooting a look over her shoulder to make sure she was still gaining distance on the thing, “I found the demon, and it was me it was chasing!”

She was absolutely, 100% not cut out for this, post vision. Wesley asked where she was, assured her they’d be there in a minute and Cordelia was a whisker away from her apartment – literally – when an arm snaked around her waist and yanked her backwards. Cordelia screamed all of once, before a sharp pressure against the back of her neck started to make her view of the world go a little wonky.

She whimpered, still struggling against the grip of the thing as it growled behind her– And felt its body arch as something was shoved into it from behind. Something sharp, she hoped, as she pushed herself away – the demon giving out one last mighty roar as it fell to its knees and then she was faced with Gunn, holding her up as her legs threatened to give way on her.

“Damn Barbie,” he frowned, watching it dissolve into a whole mess of ick outside her apartment once he’d yanked his axe out of the thing, “I’ve been trackin’ that thing all night. If I’d known all it would take was for you to play bait…”

He stopped abruptly. Girl sure didn’t look like she was in the mood to play tonight. “You okay there?”

“Peachy,” Cordelia informed him, batting his hands away, “With a side of keen.” Something was… Off about this. She looked at the puddle of goo that was steadily disappearing, and then back up at Gunn.

Funny, she hadn’t felt danger in her vision… And aside from the entire spittle thing which was gross on a level Cordelia didn’t even want to think about, she hadn’t felt danger then either – just a burning desire not to get slimed or something.

Angel and Wesley pulled up in the car just as Cordelia was opening her door. They both hopped out to get the cliff notes version from Gunn and headed towards the apartment where Cordelia was popping a couple of pills and trying to stop her damn hands shaking so much.

“Well that was bracing,” she murmured from her counter as Angel came to stand next to her.

He let his eyes sweep over her, placed a hand on her shoulder and brought her gaze up to his, “Are you alright?”

Usually, the question would have pissed her off – are you okay, Cordelia? Can we get you something, Cordelia? Do you need anything, Cordelia? – right now, Cordelia was just glad the thing hadn’t caught up with her.

“I’m okay, Angel. It just… Caught me off guard a little, that’s all.”

“Thank God you had a vision,” Wesley supplied from the other side of the room.

“Uh, hey? Kudos to the guy who swooped in with the big shiny axe?”

Angel spared Wes and an almost petulant Gunn a glance, before turning back to Cordelia, his gaze worried, “What is it?”

Cordelia frowned, “I just… I didn’t feel any danger in my vision. I-I don’t think it was there to hurt me.”

“Sure looked like it was gonna hurt you when it had its hands round your neck like that,” said Gunn, shaking his head, “Trust me, Cordelia. Thing’s better off dead.”

She wasn’t convinced. Despite the headache and the fact that she really needed sleep, Cordelia was wired now, determined to find out what the hell was going on.

The Powers That Be, while she was sure they didn’t want to lose one of their most valuable employees – her, of course – weren’t exactly prone to giving visions that would help her like that.

So something else had to be going on. Something big.

“I agree with Cordelia,” said Wesley, once he’d considered their options, “Perhaps we should be exploring this a little further.”

“You should stay at the hotel tonight,” Angel told Cordelia.

She gave him a ‘huh?’ look, then scoffed, “What? Why? Because icky-spiny thing decided he’d play Chase the Cheerleader? Angel, I have Phantom Dennis here, I’m fi–“

“You’re not fine, Cordelia. If Gunn hadn’t been here, who knows what would have happened,” he pointed out, clearly irked by her attempted brush off, “Now either you come home with me or I stay here so I can protect you.”

Cordelia frowned, “Okay, fine. Stay here. But don’t blame me if Dennis gets all pissy with you for being hoggy-manpire of the couch.”

It took a good hour and a half for Wesley to find anything. He’d headed back to the hotel, looked through a multitude of books and when he’d called Angel back, Cordelia was taking a ‘long hot soak in the bath and if anyone interrupts me, so help them God…’

“How is she?” Wesley asked, the slight waver in his voice showing his true concern for the brunette.

“Still pretty shaken up,” said Angel, “But she’ll be okay.”

“Of course.” He nodded. She was made up of strong stuff, Cordelia. “I-I found something, Angel.”

“What is it?”

“You’re not going to like it.”

Angel frowned, “What is it?”

“I looked up Cordelia’s demon. I’ve only ever come across one of these before while in employ for the Watcher’s Council, back in England. There was a demon, you see–“

“Wesley, the point?” Angel pressed.

“Right.” Wesley sighed, “Have you ever heard of a Belzor demon, Angel?”

He thought for a moment. The name vaguely rung a bell but he couldn’t recall entirely.

“They’re henchmen,” Wesley pressed on, once Angel hadn’t spoken again, “Mostly a peaceful race, but they’re employed by other demons to do their bidding. Collections of sorts, I suppose you’d call it…”

“Collections?” A knot was forming in Angel’s stomach. “What kind of collection?”

“I, ah, I’m not sure,” said Wesley honestly, “But from the looks of things, the reason that this thing was pursuing Cordelia was to settle an old deal.” He could practically hear the muscle in Angel’s jaw tensing on the other side of the line,

“And that’s not all, Angel. Belzor demons, they don’t go away. They just send one after another until the debt is paid…”

She emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam, hair wrapped up in a towel, body in her robe and fluffy slippers, her skin pink and flushed. She looked refreshed, Angel had to admit, but the dark circles under her eyes still remained.

Guilt twinged at him, like it did so often these days, but he tampered it down with a clench of his jaw, watching from the shadows of her kitchen as she took a seat on her couch, closing her eyes for a moment.

Belzor demons, they don’t go away. They just send one after another until the debt is paid…

Angel didn’t understand. Even as he watched Cordelia, thought about everything he’d known about her these last five years, he couldn’t come up with one reason as to why she’d make a deal like this.

He watched her a while longer until her face changed, the corners of her mouth twitched upwards and she opened her eyes to fix him with an amused glance,

“Y’know, I know you said you were going to protect me? But I didn’t think you meant giving in to your whole voyeuristic tendencies and actually watching me all night. What’s going on?”

Okay, she’d called him on it. He stepped out of the shadows and came to sit opposite her, trying to keep a tight reign on his anger. How could you have been so stupid? “I know about the deal, Cordelia. What was it?”

A puzzled look passed across her face. “Uh, what?”

“Don’t play games with me,” he told her sharply, “If I’m to fix it, I need to know what it is.”

It was the wrong tone to take with an already pissed off Cordelia. Her gaze narrowed and she stared at him for a long moment, the air between them growing icy,

“Don’t play games with you? Oh, that’s rich, Mr. I’ll Go Evil for a While and Not Let My Friends in to Help. One, I have no idea what deal you’re talking about. Two, the tone? Can it. Not appreciating it.”

Angel flinched, but only a little. “You’re telling me you didn’t make a deal with a demon a few years ago?”

Cordelia’s surprise was palpable, “Are you kidding me? I grew up on Hellmouth Central, Angel. I might have acted a little bit ditzy at times but suicidal, I’m not. What’s this about?”

Angel was officially puzzled. Cordelia had somehow managed to turn the tables on him – quite effortlessly, too – and both insult him and make him feel guilty again in the process. “Wesley called,” he murmured, palming the back of his neck uncomfortably, “That demon of yours… It was a Belzor demon.”

He paused for a moment – dramatic effect, eat your heart out – and Cordelia frowned, “Right, Belzor demon. Got that. Did it affect you somehow ’cause at least that’d explain while you’re acting all insane right now…”

“They’re collection demons, Cordelia. They work for other demons. Demons who’ve made deals with people…”

“So what, you just automatically assume that I went nutso x-amount of years ago and made some kind of deal with the devil?” She asked, highly miffed that he thought she was capable of that, “Do you even know me at all?”

“Well I wasn’t… I mean, I’m not sure…” Angel sighed. There was no way he was getting out of this one unscathed. “With everything you had…” He finished, lamely.

“You mean money,” said Cordelia, flatly. The disappointment in her voice sounded like a dead weight. Yes, she’d had money. Correction, her father’d had money until Mr. IRS had got all huffy about him not paying his taxes in the last ever.

“Don’t you think that if I’d wished we’d been rich all our natural life, I’d have included some kind of… I don’t know, foolproof?” She asked, coldly, “Do you really think that I’d have willingly come to live here if I didn’t have to?”

Okay, cheap shot, but the fact that Angel shared the view of almost everyone who’d ever met her back in high school…well, that stung a little. Best friends were supposed to know you better than anyone. Best friends weren’t supposed to jump to conclusions – especially not conclusions on this grandiose a scale.

“You just automatically assumed that because I had things other people didn’t, I’d struck up a deal with the devil to get it?”

Angel was stumped. What was he supposed to say to that?

“Because, y’know, Angel… I didn’t have important things,” she continued, clearly pissed at him and his logical leap that seemed like a whole trip around the moon right now, “I had credit cards and cars and clothes coming out my ears but you know what I didn’t have? I didn’t have friends,” she frowned,

“I didn’t have family. So, maybe you wanna rethink your outsider’s view and start looking elsewhere for your deal-maker ’cause honestly? Not me.” She got up off the seat and headed towards her bedroom, giving off serious ‘leave me the hell alone’ vibes.

He tried to come up with something ; anything – to say. Mostly because he’d fucked up and hurt Cordelia but also because he was tired of seeing her back like that – when her shoulders were all scrunched and she was pissed at him. But Angel could come up with nothing and her parting shot, right before she slammed her bedroom door, cut deeper than he’d imagined.

“And even if I had struck up a deal with the devil asking for those things I’d been missing… Right now? I’d be seriously thinking about asking for a refund ’cause it’s like you don’t even know me, Angel. It’s like you don’t even know me at all.”

Well, that was smooth, Angel thought to himself later, when Cordelia had been gone from the living room an hour and a half and the sound of her muffled breathing had filtered through the bedroom, letting him know she was asleep.

Angel had paced the floor all of twice until Dennis – clearly pissed at him too for upsetting his roommate – had tipped a couple of vases in his direction and Angel had just managed barely to catch them, thankful ’cause he didn’t want to apologize for smashing up her apartment as well as hurting her feelings.

He felt like a world class ass. He’d just jumped to conclusions, thought that because Cordelia’d had everything she’d wanted… God, he was dense. And now she was pissed at him and everything he’d tried to do over the last two weeks had just gone up in smoke and she’d made it quite clear that no amount of clothes would ever make up for this hurt.

“World. Class. Ass.” He muttered to himself under his breath, keeping one eye on her door as he sipped his blood.

When she’d started restocking her fridge he wasn’t sure, but when he’d gone into her kitchen to get something to eat and found his cup there on the bench like she hadn’t hurled it in the trash when he’d went all, well, evil… His dead heart had threatened to burst.

Angel had fucked up. Royally. Again.

There weren’t words for some of the things he’d done as Angelus. The emotions he’d toyed with, the people he’d killed, tortured, maimed and just plain hurt… It always seemed so much worse when he was doing the hurting as Angel.

He hadn’t cared for a long time when Darla had been brought back by Wolfram and Hart. He’d been obsessed, he knew, pushed his friends away… But he had no excuse for this.

It was all his own doing. Stupid jumping to conclusions and making rash decisions and being so goddamn worried about Cordelia and wanting to fix this, no matter what, because he’d already lost her once and he wasn’t willing to do it again.

Angel sighed, taking a sip out of his glass and wondering if the faint twang of cinnamon was just his imagination.

“I-uhm-I think it’s gone bad…” He said quietly, gazing at the dark liquid in the glass, “It’s starting to coagulate…”

“Huh?” Cordelia picked up the glass, looking puzzled. Her blood had so not gone bad. She’d got it fresh that morning and– Oh. “No, that’s cinnamon,” she told him, handing it back with a bright smile,

“What? I can’t try something?”

Cinnamon in blood. Angel’d been polite for a while (not wanting to incur the wrath that may or may not have been lying dormant) until he’d drank some blood with ginger and the taste had stuck to the roof of his mouth for weeks.

Cordelia had stopped experimenting after that. Or maybe it was after the peppermint experiment, he wasn’t entirely sure.

He’d called Wesley three times since his argument with Cordelia. Not that Angel was bored this time – he had something new to brood about and dissect like it’d actually make a difference – he was worried, that was all.

Only Wesley was cranky and trying to cross reference this demon with something he’d read in a prophecy and– Basically, Wes was a whole lot of nowhere with Angel hot on his heels in Nowheresville.

And Angel was tired.

He rubbed a hand over his face and folded his arms over his chest, shooting one look at the window to make sure the drapes and blinds were closed. Cordelia might be pissed at him but he wasn’t sure she’d welcome waking up to him and a Melba toast experience.

She’d have nobody to yell at…

Part 2

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