Title: A Conflict Of Interest
Rating: R for language
Summary: Cordelia runs a ‘help the helpless’ agency. Angel runs an evil law firm. And yet, they’re both happily married to each other. Conflict arises when Cordelia’s potential client turns out to be a former (and unhappy) former client of Angel’s.
Spoilers: Slightly AU S5.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Please ask first
Notes: Okay, this really is terrible. In fact, if I was you – yes YOU, reading this right now – I’d just ignore this thread completely. I wrote this WAAAY back so the POV’s all over the place, there really isn’t much of a plotline and quite frankly, it’s a little shite. But hey, I asked Dawnie to beta it a while back, she is brilliant and therefore gave it some much needed attention, and I just wanted to get it off my chest so here it is. It’s a little AU, just presume Cordy didn’t die after YW, her and Angel got hitched and she started up her own agency because W&H? Ew.
Thanks/Dedication:To Dawn because I still owe her a fic which is due in March – and unfortunately it’ll probably be nothing like what she wanted!
Feedback:Meh, if you actually feel this story deserves it…
The telephone beeped and Leann’s voice sounded through the speaker. “Miss Chase? Katherine Williams is here to see you.” Just like Cordelia had to Angel, Leann had come to her by chance – a young woman she’d saved, a girl who’d been looking for a job with a decent pay that stopped her from sleeping in roach infested apartments.
Cordy pushed the button. “Send her in.”
Katherine was a small, frail looking woman, the grief she had suffered in the past few weeks making itself evident in her tired, weak appearance. Yet, despite the severe bags under her eyes and the way her flesh seemed to almost hang off her fragile bones, Cordelia could tell she was quite attractive.
“Ms Williams,” Cordelia offered her hand with her smile, gesturing towards the seat opposite her desk, “Please have a seat.”
“Katherine is fine.” The woman tried to smile but it came out more as a grimace.
“Katherine then.” Cordy smiled at her, opening the file that had been placed on her desk and flipping through it. She paused on a page, her smile quickly disappearing. She looked at Katherine. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Katherine nodded, clutching her handbag and trying to not to cry. “Thank you.”
Cordy stayed silent for a while, unsure of what to say. Then she placed the file down and walked around her desk to stand next to Katherine.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Cordelia asked softly, “I want to help you.”
Katherine nodded, licking her lips. “I – ” Her voice croaked and she quickly cleared her throat. “I’m being sued.”
Cordelia’s eyes widened. “What?”
“My son…my son was kidnapped three weeks ago…by something…it wasn’t human.” Katherine swallowed, staring at Cordelia as though afraid the latter would think she were mad. Cordy only nodded, handing her a glass of water. Katherine took a sip, gathering her strength before continuing.
“I hired some people to find him…some sort of detective…law agency.” Katherine blinked a few times, unable to stop the tears from escaping. Cordy squeezed her hand. “They couldn’t…they couldn’t save my son. His body was found five days ago.”
Cordelia’s heart sank. “I’m sorry.”
Katherine shook her head. “The agency that I hired insisted that I pay for the time they put into the case. But I didn’t feel that I should have to – since they said that wasn’t their policy and they couldn’t help me anyway.” She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Anyway, when I said that I wouldn’t pay, I got a letter a few days later saying they would take me to court.”
Cordy rolled her eyes. “Bastards.”
Katherine managed a smile. “Yeah.” She glanced around the small Hyperion office. “I used to live in the neighbourhood…this hotel used to be the place a person would come to for help with this sort of trouble. I heard that you might be back in business. Besides, it’s not like I could afford to hire an attorney and this isn’t exactly the kind of story you tell to the folks down at legal aid unless you want a mental health referral.”
Cordelia patted her hand and stood up, walking back around the desk. “Well, don’t worry about a thing. We’ll make sure they stick their court order where the sun don’t shine.” She glanced at Katherine. “Do you have the letter?”
“Oh, yeah.” Katherine quickly took out a piece of paper from her handbag and handed it to Cordelia. “Here.”
Cordy took it, reading over the print. Her heart jolted in her chest. She stared at the piece of paper for several seconds to make sure she hadn’t read it wrong.
Katherine frowned. “Is something wrong?”
Cordelia gaped, aware that she must have looked like a fish. “Uh…”
Cordy looked up. “I’m sorry. I just…” She looked back down at the sheet of paper, then at Katherine. “This…this is my husband’s company.”
The elevator doors slid open and Cordelia stormed through them, heading straight for Angel’s office, nearly knocking over four employees on her way.
“Watch it, I’m walking here.” She snapped at a short, ginger haired man who scrambled away from her. Cordelia flipped her hair over her shoulder and found herself facing the main desk, and the smiling face of Harmony Kendal.
“Is he in there?” Cordelia shoved her thumb in the direction of Angel’s office.
Harmony frowned. “Yes, but – ”
“Good.” Without waiting for her to finish, Cordelia breezed speedily towards the doors.
“Wait, he’s in a meeting!”
The doors slammed open with a bang when Cordelia barged through them. Several heads jerked towards her, eyes wide at the intrusion. Angel jumped up, growl at the ready, but relaxed when he saw Cordelia standing there, only to tense at the livid look on her face.
“We need to talk.” Cordelia spoke slowly, angrily. Angel swallowed, shooting Gunn a glare when he whistled lowly. Cordy turned towards him. “You too lawyer boy.”
Gunn’s head shot up and he gulped. “Me? What did I do? Whatever it is, I didn’t do it.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes, walking into the room and standing behind the chair of a red, horned demon in an Armani suit, clearing her throat. The demon glanced at her, once, twice, before getting the hint and offering her the seat. Cordy sat down, glaring at Angel.
“Is everything alright?” Wesley asked.
“Oh yeah.” Cordy replied. “Just peachy.” She waved the piece of paper in her hand in Angel’s face. “What the hell is this?”
“Uh…” Angel cleared his throat, shooting apologetic looks to the gathering of demons and lawyers. “We’ll uh, finish this later.”
He received several simultaneous groans in response, before Wesley encouraged them to get out of their seats and follow him. Angel shot him a thankful look when he shut the main doors. Then he turned to Cordelia, his mouth drawn into a grim line. “This better be good babe.”
Cordy got out of her seat and handed him the paper. “I repeat – what the hell is this?”
Angel took it from her, glancing over it. “What is it?”
“You tell me.” Cordy raised an eyebrow. “A client of mine came to me this morning claiming that a detective agency slash law firm that she hired is taking her to court because she refuses to pay them for being unable to save her son.”
Angel looked at the logo on the top right corner of the sheet. “Wolfram & Hart.”
“Bingo, give the vampire a cookie.” Cordy said angrily, swivelling to point an accusing finger at Gunn. “And you – ”
“Me? Oh, noooo, leave me outta this. The two of you can do your whole ‘let’s fight so we can have make-up sex later’ routine without me; because, I have absolutely nothing to do with – ” Cordelia crossed her arms and shot him a withering look just as Angel held out the paper so Gunn could see it clearly. Charles Gunn, Esquire appeared in clear type beneath the familiar masculine scrawl of his signature. “Oh.”
He glanced at Cordy, looking genuinely apologetic. “I’m sorry about her kid Barbie, but we did our best.”
“Did you?” Cordelia raised a deadly eyebrow, stepping up to him. “How could you charge her for this when you couldn’t even save her son?”
Gunn frowned. “We *did* our best.”
“Well, it wasn’t good enough!” Cordelia found her voice rising of its own accord. “So that’s what you do now? Sue a woman for the privilege of not saving her dead son?” She turned on Angel. “Nice move, champ. Especially since we all know that Wolfram & Hart wouldn’t deign to know that Katherine Williams or her son ever existed if there wasn’t something in it for them.”
Angel’s brow creased at her shaken tone. “Cordy – ”
“What is wrong with you guys?” She yelled, her eyes pricking. “This isn’t what we do! This was never what we were about, Angel! We’re the good guys, we’re not supposed to make money out of the misfortunes of innocent people!”
“Okay,” Angel tried, gently gripping her shoulders, “Ssh – ”
“No, don’t fucking shush me!” Cordelia swatted his hands away. “You’ve lost it, all of you. You don’t even care anymore. There is no right and wrong, as long as it brings in the dough – ”
“Hey, you used to be pretty fond of cash not so long ago, Cordelia.” Angel reminded her, his tone slightly defensive. “Weren’t you the one that suggested we start charging our clients?”
Cordelia’s eyes blazed. “I never sunk this low, Angel.”
Angel sighed. “Baby, when a company provides services for an individual, they’re expected to pay.”
“Funny, I don’t remember that being the tagline.” Cordy shot back. “Wasn’t it something about helping the helpless? Or have you forgotten that too?”
Gunn pinched the bridge of his nose in a Wesley style manner. “Cordy – ”
“Do what the hell you want hot shots.” Cordelia pulled her arm out of Angel’s grip and spun around. “But if you take Katherine to court, you’ll have to fight me as well.” She opened the door, pausing, “The man I married, the man I love, would see the wrong in this.” She stared at Angel. “I just hope you find him in there before it’s too late.” With that, she spun on her heel and walked out the door, leaving them silent behind her.
Neither Gunn nor Angel spoke for a few moments, both lost in thought and unsure of what to say. Then,
“If we go ahead with it,” Gunn wondered out loud. “We’d win. No doubt about it. She doesn’t have a – ”
“No.” Angel said, keeping his eyes on the door. “She’s right. Drop the case.”
Gunn shook his head. “What? But Angel – ”
“Drop it.” Angel said lowly, glancing at Gunn once before turning around, grabbing his coat and walking out through the main doors.
Cordelia’s eyes fluttered and she felt the bed dip behind her as Angel slid under the covers. His hand curled around her shoulder, and he pressed his lips to her skin, sliding the fallen strap of her nightdress back into place.
“I’m sorry…” He whispered, kissing the tip of her collarbone, “I’ll drop the case.” He kissed the curve of her neck, the line of her jaw… “I’ll drop the case for you.”
The warmth that had begun to coil in Cordelia’s belly quickly dissipated, only to be replaced by sudden anger. She sprung out of his arms and off the bed, glaring at him.
“That’s not the point, Angel.” Cordy snapped. “My God, I don’t want you to do it for me. This is about YOU!”
Angel frowned, sitting up. “Cordy – ”
“You don’t get it, do you?” Cordelia asked, “You’re supposed to *help* the helpless. Not charge or sue them for money!”
“I told you I’d drop it.” Angel tried, kneeling and reaching for her. Cordelia jerked her arm away.
“But why? You’re only dropping it to get out the doghouse. God Angel, do you even care?”
“I do – ”
“Like hell you do!” Cordy crossed her arms, flipping her hair haughtily. “You couldn’t care less. It’s like, nothing we’ve done for the past four years matters. All that matters to you now is money and power.”
“You matter to me.” Angel whispered. Cordelia ignored him, despite the twang of guilt that went through her, continuing her venting. Still, her voice softened.
“You used to be a champion, Angel. You used to be a good man.” She closed her eyes when Angel’s face fell, his shoulders slumping. She didn’t know what she hated more – the fact that she had put that look on his face or that she felt guilty about putting it there.
“Angel…” She murmured, her heart clenching when he made no move to respond. “I’m sorry.” Cordelia crawled onto the bed and kneeled opposite her distraught husband. “You *are* a good man.” She cupped his face in her hands and forced him to look at her. “You’re *my* good man.”
Angel’s arms wrapped around her and he buried his face into her neck like a lost child. “I don’t know what to do, Cordy.”
Cordelia stroked his hair, kissing his forehead and sighing. “I don’t either, Angel. I can’t make your decisions for you. That’s up to you.” She wiggled around until she was comfortable. “Suing that woman was crazy and wrong and we both know that. Next time, make sure you do something about it. Don’t let it happen.”
Angel glanced at her. “What if I can’t?”
“You can.” Cordelia smiled at him, squeezing his hand. “I know you can. Because I’ve always believed in you, Angel.” She stroked his cheek. “I always will.”
His expression was still miserable and Cordelia frowned, brushing dry kisses over each eyelid. “You just lost your way.” Her fingers played with the open collar of his shirt. “Doesn’t mean I love you any less.”
It took a few moments but then she felt his lips open over her shoulder, and a trail of wet kisses was placed up her arm until his teeth dragged the thin strap of her negligee down. The air shifted, the moment changed and she recognised the change in mood as she breathed in deeply, letting her head fall back. He kissed her throat, her chin, his fingers running under the silk material and tracing the tattoo on her back.
Cordelia shivered, closing her eyes as his lips brushed her neck, and then again, softly latching on to the curve above her shoulder as he began to suckle.
She groaned. “Angel – ”
He suckled harder, as though trying to leave a mark. Cordy felt him shift, a deft, sudden movement and her body tightened, shaking as his erection brushed her inner thigh.
Sly fingers crawled up her leg, his free hand pushing her closer as he traced the edge of her panties, teasing her through the cotton. Cordy bucked, moaning. “Oh – ”
Tight, hot, wet – she whimpered as he slid a finger into her, her mouth opening against his cheek. Angel caught her bottom lip between his teeth, growling low in his throat. She palmed his face and kissed him hard, fervour building inside her as she ground against his hand, eating his mouth.
Hands ripped, pushed and pulled at clothing, fingers intertwined, tongues battled and when Angel laid Cordelia back, sliding slickly into her, she smiled, pleased to see a certain peace behind his dark eyes. Skin slid against skin, chests heaving, feet tangling beneath the covers.
Angel thrust, clinging to his saviour, flinching in pleasure as the sensation overwhelmed him. Cordy pressed a kiss to his nose, his cheek and finally his lips, groaning when he shackled her wrists, driving his mouth desperately against hers. He craved her like a drug, an addict unable to fight the addiction. It was too hard to quit – the lure of acceptance, love, warmth and friendship – too strong.
He curled a hand around her shoulder, pushing her up so he could trail kisses over the soft skin. He nipped her jaw, and when he looked into her eyes she was staring at him, her lips curled into a knowing, satisfied smile.
He felt a grin slide over his face – it always came so easily with this woman – as he sipped kisses from that smirking mouth. “What?”
She bit her lip. “I’m just…happy you’re happy.”
“I’m with you.” Angel kissed her fingers. “That’s a big happy.”
“You’re a dork.”
“You’re amazing.” He kissed her again, palming her chin. “Cordy, about Wolfram and Hart – ”
“We’ll talk about it in the morning.” Cordy murmured, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder. She curled up into his side, sliding a leg between his and throwing an arm over his chest. Angel spooned himself around her, kissing her temple.
“I love you, Cordy.”
“Mmm, love you…” Moments later, she was asleep.