“Wow,” Gunn repeated over and over again. “That girl is DAMN hot. You messed up that- man that sucks.”
“Yes, Charles, Cordelia Chase is a very attractive young woman and I’m eternally heartbroken that our brief non-relationship didn’t evolve into an happy ever after fairytale.”
Gunn shrugged at Wesley’s caustic tone. “Just saying, she’s hot.”
“Cordelia is a client and friend in trouble can we please concentrate on that particular issue.”
“Why didn’t you want her to see Angel? Given his reaction to Cordy on the box, seeing her live might just be what the vamp needs to keep him this side of reality.”
Wesley nodded. “True, ‘The Cordy Show’ does seem to have a calming influence on Angel. However, one cannot be assured of his reaction to actually seeing a live Cordelia. His interest is borderline obsessive as it is. There is no telling how he would react. Cordelia Chase already as one overly enthusiastic fan, I don’t believe we should give her another and it’s that fan we need to be concerned with now.”
“Are you even going to tell him about our new case?”
“What new case?”
Gunn and Wesley started at Angel’s quiet question coming from the darkened doorway.
“Angel, how are you doing? You look well.” Wesley studied the vampire. Angel did look much better. The Cordy Show, sleep, blood and the successful completion of his previous vision seemed to bring Angel back to reality.
Wesley shook his head. Hopefully, Angel wouldn’t receive another vision for a while, allowing the vampire some period of lucidity.
Angel merely nodded, moving slowly to the armchair sinking into its depths. “The case?”
“Angel, you needn’t concern….”
“Wesley, I’m fine for now. I would like to do something productive for as long as I can before another vision hits. Please.”
Wesley took a deep breath and made his decision. He knew that when Angel was able to have coherent thoughts, the vampire hated the knowledge of his bouts of insanity and feelings of uselessness.
“Angel, you remember Cordelia Chase.”
Gunn looked up in surprise- 0ne because Wesley seemed to have changed his mind regarding telling Angel about Cordelia hiring them and second- why Wesley would ask the vampire such a stupid question. Remember her? The vampire watched The Cordy Show every week. Angel couldn’t get the woman out of his mind.
Angel blinked, slowly nodding at Wesley. “From Sunnydale. She’s in LA acting. I’ve…I’ve seen her show.” The vampire frowned as if he was trying to remember something else.
“Yes” Wesley agreed. He had suspected but hadn’t been sure until now that Angel wasn’t completely cognizant of his obsessive habit to watch Cordelia’s show.
“What does she have to do with our new case?” Angel said his speech still slow his face now expressionless.
“She is our case. Cordelia’s assistant contacted us, it seems that she has acquired a stalker. Gunn and I met with her earlier today, she gave us the copies of the letters she has received.”
“Cordelia is in danger?” Angel looked up, something akin to anger flickered in his solemn gaze.
“That is not clear at this point but the letters are disturbing in content and unsettling in that they have the ability to show up in highly secure locations as well as her home. Whoever is sending them has access to her.”
Angel stood. “Where is she now?” looking at Gunn and Wesley. “You left her alone?” His voice uncharacteristically tinged with anger as well as being disapproving.
“I was going to check in on you, then go over to her house. Though, Cordelia was highly unreceptive to the idea of a bodyguard. Tomorrow, Charles is going to her studio to watch over her and question those there.”
“Angel, it’s true that as a vampire you possess the greatest strength however we can not be sure when a vision will hit. And under those circumstances it would be best for you not to be around Cordelia.”
Angel closed his eyes, his body becoming stiff; he turned on his heels and retreated back into his stark bedroom. A large resounding crash came from behind the closed door.
Gunn glanced worriedly over to Wesley. “He didn’t take that well.”
Wesley shrugged. “Angel’s inability to control the effects of the visions angers and frustrates him when he can actually remember that he’s not a useless lunatic. They’re killing him. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Angel paced in the darkened room. He knew that Wesley was right. The unpredictability of the visions and the debilitating effects of them made his usefulness outside the safety of his locked bedroom and comforting restraints practically non-existent.
Yet, he couldn’t just stay in this room waiting to see if Wesley could protect Cordelia. Angel didn’t understand, he and Cordelia hardly knew each other in Sunnydale. He just remembered the beautiful teenager standing on the outskirts of Buffy and her friends, sarcastic, tactless, and lovely- and having the unique ability to make him laugh on a few rare brief instances.
Angel remembered more, Cordelia Chase, the star of The Cordy Show, even more beautiful and…god forbid…making him laugh when he wasn’t out of his mind from the visions. An act, not real but it called to him. Angel couldn’t identify the feeling or know the source of his need but Cordelia must be protected at all cost.
It was as if her existence, even through a TV show, held the remaining portion of his sanity. The vampire strode to the iron bars sealing the lone window in the room.
For the first time since the bars had been secured, Angel tugged using his strength to remove the barrier to him and the world.
“Oh, hi,” Cordelia let Wesley into her multimillion dollar home.
“You don’t have any guards. A security gate would at least be expected.” Wesley dropped his duffle bag filled with weapons in the foyer.
“I’m rich not a prisoner, eww.” Cordelia waved away Wesley’s concern. “Anyway, this is the first time anyone has actually bothered me here.” Cordelia sighed, sitting on the leather couch. “So, have you solved the case yet?”
“No,” Wesley sat. “It’s only been six hours.”
“Hmmph.” Cordelia leaned back crossing her arms against her chest. “I don’t like this.” Cordelia sat back up. “Are you guys any good?”
“We’ve been known to solve a case or two.”
“Losing the arm was that a successful case.” Cordelia raised an elegant brow.
“It was a miss calculation.” Wesley squirmed, getting up. “You have too many windows in this place.” The man walked around the room studying the expansive windows overlooking beautiful scenery.
“I told you I’m not a prisoner, Geez. So what’s Angel, the broody dead private eye doing? No offense but a vampire, while ‘eww’ would be just the thing to scare away any crazy fan.”
“He’s still resting off the effects of the visions.”
“Visions, too weird. I can’t believe I’m being subjected to such weirdness again. Hmmph. Want some wine or anything?” Cordelia moved to the kitchen.
“No thank you.” Wesley took another turn around the living area. “Do you have any help, live in or otherwise?”
“Cleaning crew comes in every day, sometimes Nevin stays over if stuff gets too busy.” Cordelia shrugged. “I’ve been having to go to a lot of talk shows and stuff for the pre-Emmy press-fest. Tonight, he’s at the Bel Air Hotel, setting up the commendations for the ‘A Season Is More Than A Time Of Year’ premiere. Though, why I can’t just sleep at home, I don’t understand, but Nev says I have to go to all the parties and stuff.”
“You have a part in that movie.”
“Yeah, the female lead’s best bitchy bimbo girlfriend. Almost on the ‘A’ list, but not quite. But, at least in this movie I get to stay alive for the whole thing.” Cordelia flashed a great big smile, convincing Wesley that Cordelia and the ‘A’ list were not long to be separated.
“Maybe until we find out who has been sending you those notes, you shouldn’t go.”
“Not go to a top ‘A’ list movie premiere. Duh. Don’t think so. Hey, did you hear that.” Cordelia left the kitchen area and wandered to the large plate glass window.
“Cordelia,” Wesley pulled at the woman, placing his body between the young woman and the glass.
Cordelia pushed and peered again into the darkness. “Hey, isn’t that the dark dead guy?” pointing out into the darkness.
Wesley looked more closely, slowly opening the plate glass door. “Angel?” Wesley pulled back as the darkness materialized into the form of a man.
“I needed to be sure. I’m alright.” Angel said stepping closer into the light from the living room.
“Angel.” Wesley’s concerned tone was obvious.
“Wow.” Cordelia stepped up. “It is you. Still ‘grr’ and everything, uh.” The young woman faced the vampire.
“Cordelia.” Angel stepped even closer to the young woman.
“Angel,” Wesley said again. “I don’t think…”
“I told you I was fine.”
Wesley blinked back at the anger in the vampire’s tone.
Cordelia looked back and forth at the men. “Well, are you going to come in or just lurk and blend into the darkness?”
“I have to be invited.”
“Oh, right.” Cordelia scrunched up her brow. “You haven’t received the joy or anything have you? No way am I inviting the evil ‘grr’ guy in.”
“Oh, good. Okay, you can come in. But hey, wipe your feet.” She pointed to Angel’s mud coated boots.
“Yes, Cordelia.” Angel obediently brushed his feet against the outdoor mat before coming in.
Cordelia nodded. She moved towards the counter as her phone started to ring.
“Angel, I thought we…”
“No, Wesley, we didn’t. Look, I’m okay. I just needed to make sure that Cordelia was safe.”
“I…Angel, I understand that you would be worried since she is a remembrance of a better time for you, but you two were not close in Sunnydale.”
Angel turned looking at the beautiful brunette holding the phone to her ear. “I know.”
“Nev, I don’t know. Okay…. I ….who? No way. Of course I can’t go alone, but I’m not going with him, egoistical idiot, I’m not. Anyway, the Private Investigators you forced me to hire don’t think it’s a good idea that I go to the Premiere. I realize that…. Hold on.” Cordelia covered the mouthpiece of her phone.
“Okay, which of you stalwart protectors will go with me to the premiere tomorrow night.” Cordelia looked straight at the vampire, jerking away as she realized that she was silently wishing the dark handsome man to say he would be the one.
“I’ll go,” Angel said over Wesley’s attempt.
Cordelia bit her lips. “Okay.” She turned back into the phone. “I’m going and I already have a date, a tall, dark and broody one, so tell what’s his names’ agent to go find a ditzy blonde. Hmmph. What? No, that’s a go. The breast cancer commercial needs to get on the air as soon as possible. I’ll be there tomorrow. Bye.”
Cordelia hung up the phone. “Well, I’ve got plenty of rooms, make yourself comfortable, I’m going to bed. Night.” Cordelia went up the circular staircase.
“Angel.” Wesley said again to the vampire.
“Christ, Wesley, I said I’m fine.”
“For how long?”
“If you feel the need to stay than stay. But, I’m not leaving.”
Wesley narrowed his eyes at the conviction in Angel’s words. “Okay. I’ll take the couch.” Wesley slumped down on the sofa.
Angel nodded as he sat in the corresponding armchair.
Cordelia tossed and turned. Wow. Weird dreams. Dreams of her and Angel actually being…she didn’t know….close…like friends…like almost more…Cordelia shot up in bed. She blinked around, her gaze settling on the chair. “Angel?”
“Oh.” Cordelia scrunched up her face and pulled herself up against the backboard of her bed. “You’re in my bedroom. Why are you in my bedroom? Is Wesley here too.” Cordelia looked around. “Okay, he’s not. So why are you? You sure you’re not evil? Damn, I threw out all the vampire killing stuff when I moved away from Sunnydale. If you’re evil stay put while I scream for Wesley.”
“Cordelia, I’m not evil. I…I just ….Wesley said that you received the last note in your bedroom.”
“Oh.” Cordelia wrapped her arms around her legs. “So, how are you? Wesley said you were getting really weird nasty visions and you broke up with Buffy, again and you’re still dead, but not evil just a bit insane. So, other than all that- you doing okay?”
“I’ve not seen Buffy in three years.”
“Eek, hence the craziness. Yuk, guess that explains the whole Angel whacked years. Why not? Granted, that love wasn’t a barrel of laughs more like a Shakespearean tragedy, but you left Buffy?” Cordelia scrunched up her nose.
“I…Go to sleep Cordelia. Nothing, no one will touch you. Sleep.”
Cordelia stared at the dark vampire. “Okay, don’t want to talk about it- still playing the dark mysterious loner card, uh,” lying back down. Cordelia shot back up to the seated position.
“You said you would be my date tomorrow night. You’ll need a tuxedo. Not that you don’t look good in the skulking leather ensemble, but tomorrow night a tuxedo- don’t worry- tuxedos are black.” She watched as the vampire reluctantly nodded. “Good night then.” Cordelia curled up into her covers.
Angel watched as the young woman settled into sleep. He tentatively reached up bringing a hand to his mouth. He was smiling.
“Can I help you?” Lindsay stood at the open doorway.
Gunn looked up from the drawer he was searching. “No,” going back to his search.
“I’m calling security.”
Gunn straightened. “Who are you?”
“I believe I’m the one that has the right to ask the questions.”
“Yeah, whatever, who are you? Do you work here?” Gunn moved his larger frame towards the smaller man.
“Oh, Mr. McDonald, I see you’ve met Mr. Gunn.” Nevin ran into the office. “Here, Mr. Gunn, these are all the personnel files.”
“Thanks.” Gunn took the papers.
“Nevin, who is this.”
“I thought you met, this is Mr. Gunn, he’s one of the private investigators Ms. Chase hired.”
Gunn raised his head. “Just Gunn, two ‘Ns’ no mister, damn man.”
“Private Investigator? When did Cordelia do that?”
“Yesterday,” Cordelia entered into the office. “Nevin, could you please go and make those phone calls we talked about earlier. Thanks.” She said as her assistant ran from the room.
“Lindsay what are you doing here? Did we have an appointment?”
“No, I just wanted to make sure that you hadn’t received anymore letters. I told you the firm would investigate the matter there is no need to hire outside help.”
“Who are you?” Gunn repeated his earlier question.
“Lindsay McDonald, Ms. Chase’s lawyer. Your services are no longer required.”
“Ain’t that for the lady to decide.”
“Yes, it is.” Cordelia glared at the lawyer. “And they are staying on the case until the creepy letter writer is caught.”
“Of course, I apologize, Cordy. It’s just that I’m sure that Wolfram & Hart has the better resources to identify the stalker. There’s no reason to waste your money on yellow page investigators.”
“That’s my decision. If that’s all,” dismissing Lindsay with her tone.
“Of course it is, again I apologize. But, also I was hoping that you would allow me to escort you to the premiere tonight.”
“What doesn’t Wolfram & Hart get free tickets?” Cordelia raised a brow.
“I think that you shouldn’t go alone, especially with the stalker about.”
“Who said I was going alone.” Cordelia raised both of her brows.
“Nevin informed me that you refused the studio’s request to go along with their choice of a publicity date.”
“Well, then he should’ve also told you – I have a date and protection. Angel.”
“Angel?” Lindsay frowned.
“Angel of Angel Investigations. I’m sure you heard of us. We’ve got the lady covered, Wolfram & Hart can just sit their evil asses out on the sidelines. Cordy’s protected from the stalker and anything else skanky and vile.” Gunn promised.
Lindsay studied the other man then slowly turned to Cordelia. “You hired Angel?”
“Sounds like you know him.”
“He’s worked on some of the cases that Wolfram & Hart has had interest in. It was my understanding that Angel wasn’t the most mentally stable investigator out there. Really, Cordelia, if you want to hire a private investigator, I’m sure I can provide you with a sane recommendation.”
“Angel’s not crazy, just reclusive and I bet he looks damn good in a tux.”
“He’s potentially very dangerous, there are aspects of his personality that you are unaware of.”
“Is that your round about legal way to warn me that he’s a vampire? If it is don’t bother- knew it- know it. Still trust him. He’s saved my life and the lives of my friends on more than one occasion in Sunnydale.”
“It seems you do know him.” Lindsay considered the young woman.
“Yeah, soul and everything- Angel’s one of the good guys. Oh, and Lindsay, this seems the right time to tell you, at this moment Nevin is making the arrangements to cut all ties between me and your evil law firm. You’re fired. Tootles.”
“Cordelia, I’m sure that any information Angel has told you about any prior dealings that he may have had with Wolfram & Hart have been exaggerated. I’m sure I can explain away any concerns you may have been misled into believing.”
“I’m sure you can’t. Wesley and Angel say you’re a bad guy -that’s good enough for me. Angel- Wolfram & Hart,” Cordelia lifted her hands weighing her next words in the air. “Who to trust.” Cordelia studied her hands, her right palm dropping.
“Look, not Satan’s law firm.” Cordelia shrugged. “Out, Lindsay, and as of now, I’m telling security that you or any Wolfram & Hart employees are not welcome in the studio.”
“You’re making a grave mistake, Cordelia. Wolfram & Hart can be a great benefit to your career.”
“Hey, evil shyster, you heard the lady, leave.” Gunn stepped up closer to Lindsay.
Lindsay shot a look at the black man. “You’re kidding aren’t you, physical intimidation?” You are so out of your league. Remind Angel of that if he’s attempting to get back into the game.”