This Time Its Real. 14-17

Chapter 14

“Damn, signal’s blocked.” Gunn hung up his phone. “Will have to wait until we get out of here.”

***

Angel stared at the heavily curtained window willing the sun to go down faster. Ten minutes, that’s all he would give, if Cordelia wasn’t back in ten minutes he and a blanket were going to bring her back.

Fred glanced nervously at the vampire. Her euphoria that everything was going to be fine was being severely tested. Things wouldn’t be all right, if Angel made a dash out into the sun searching for Cordelia. That wouldn’t be good at all.

“Angel, I could call Gunn?”

The vampire swung around. Damn’t, he forgot about cell phones and Cordelia’s order that everyone carry one. Obviously, Fred and Gunn hadn’t. “Do it.” He growled.

Fred quickly dialed, smiling encouragingly at Angel. The brunette frowned, looking at the phone.

“What?” Angel growled again.

“Busy, which is good,” Fred tried again to think happy thoughts, “if anything was wrong Gunn wouldn’t be on the phone.” Her happy thoughts took a sharp turn downward.

“Unless, something was wrong and he was trying to call us, which would explain why he’s on the phone”, blinking up at the vampire. “I shouldn’t have said that should I?” She whispered to Lorne.

“No, lambkins, you shouldn’t have.”

“Fred, hang up now.” Angel yelled looking at the still flipped open phone.

Fred jumped and hung up immediately. She jumped again as the phone started to ring. She barely got a ‘hello’ out before Angel grabbed it.

***

“Damn, busy. Who could Fred be calling?’ Gunn asked to the car in general.

“Us, dumbass.” Cordelia settled in the back seat. She didn’t want to think about anything. But that never worked for her, she always thought about stuff when she didn’t want to and it was always the stuff she didn’t want to think about in the first place.

The clouds weren’t even helping. Cordelia didn’t want to die, she didn’t want to think about dying and she sure in hell didn’t want to think about leaving Angel, Connor and the rest of her family again.

Cordelia looked over at the young demon sitting next to her. Before she even thought about passing on her visions, she had to make sure that Crystal understood the importance of the family Cordelia would be giving her, otherwise…otherwise nothing. Cordelia had no choices left. She scrunched up her face. Crystal was shivering.

“Are you cold?”

“A little.” Crystal pulled Gunn’s jean jacket closer around. “Clothes would be nice.”

Cordelia scanned the back of the SUV; Wesley had to have a blanket around there somewhere. She twisted around as she noticed the bags in the back of the truck. Stupid, she should have thought about those sooner.

Fred, Wesley and Gunn hadn’t taken their bags out. Cordelia grumbled. She didn’t have one because she didn’t have any clothes except a stupid flowing shimmering white dress crumpled on Lorne’s bathroom floor in LA and the gross, yucky, blood covered crap that was on her back. Cordelia hated demon goo.

Her hands rifled through Fred’s stuff, pushing aside the laptop and pulled out a pair of jeans. “Here,” Cordelia stopped and looked at Crystal again. The young woman was curvy, curvier than Cordelia. Cordelia threw the jeans back in disgust, Cordelia knew that if she couldn’t fit her hips in Fred’s jeans there would be no way that Crystal could.

Cordelia ignored the glances and the questions everyone was asking her as she delved in another duffle bag. Her hands pulled up a soft worn sweatshirt, red, obviously she was in Gunn’s stuff. She searched for some jeans or any pants and she searched some more, pulling out weapons and more weapons. Cordelia bit back her grunt of disgust and headed for the only bag left. Books, books and more books, gratefully she finally hit some material. She blinked as she pulled it out.

“What the hell? I tell you we’re going on a road trip, out of town, and all you idiots bring are these”

Gunn and Wesley both jerked their heads, Gunn’s attention diverted from responding to Fred’s voice on the phone.

***

Angel was about to shout into the phone when Cordelia’s screech of complaint pierced his ears. He shoved down his wince and listened, just happy to hear her voice.

If Cordelia was complaining in that high pitched tone she had to be okay. Angel’s brows wrinkled as he heard the yelling and conversation clearly through the earpiece. Then he fell to the steps with a whoosh, wondering if he should be getting mad.

***

“Cordy, get your hands off my jockeys,” Gunn yelled.

“Tighty whiteys, Gunn? I would’ve taken you for a boxer guy, like Wes here.”

“Cordy, put my shorts down,” Wesley yelled trying to swing his hand around to the back seat, while keeping the other hand on the steering wheel.

“Smiley faces? You wear smiley faces? Geez, Wes, so much for English dignified.”

“Cordy,” both men yelled trying to grab at their underwear.

Cordy eyes fastened on the phone swinging in Gunn’s hand. “Is that Fred, did you get her? Give me the phone.” She grabbed it as Gunn snatched his white briefs out of her hand.

“Fred, your boyfriend is an idiot and so is Wesley. I say road trip and all they pack are weapons and books; at least they believe in clean underwear. Hmmph.” She said into the phone.

Angel stood up a bit happier, whatever was up, he was pretty sure he didn’t have to worry about why Cordelia’s hands had been on Gunn and Wesley’s underwear. “Cordy.”

“Angel.” Cordelia flopped back in the seat. “I was talking to Fred, let me talk to her.”

“I’ll give her your message that her boyfriend is an idiot. Are you all right?” Angel was pretty sure she was but he had to hear it from her.

“I want to talk to Fred not you put her on the phone.”

“No.”

“Angel.”

“No.”

“I’m going to hang up.”

“I’ll call back.”

“I won’t answer.”

“Cordy, please. Tell me you’re all right.”

Cordelia winced. She just knew that Angel was wearing that pouty, puppy dog look. She took a deep breath. “I’m all right. Now, put Fred on I need to talk to her.”

“Why? Why, can’t you talk to me? Cordy, please.”

Fred smiled happily at Lorne. “Everything is fine. Angel’s not growling and Cordy thinks Gunn’s an idiot.” Fred pushed at her glasses. “I wonder what he did?” She shrugged, she find out soon enough.

Xander, Willow and Dawn fall back further on the couch.

“I’ve never seen that, have you ever seen that, have you?” Xander whispered.

Willow slowly shook her head. “It’s weird.”

“Why is Angel not finding out if Buffy is okay? I want to know if Buffy is okay.” Dawn started to get up.

Willow pulled her down. “I’m sure he’ll find out…after he stops whining to Cordelia.” Willow shook her head in disbelief.

Angel was oblivious to the others in the room. “Please, Cordy.”

“Fine, get a paper and pen.”

“Why do I need to get a paper and pen?”

“Because, dorkhead, I’m giving you a list of things we need and I don’t want you to forget anything.”

“I won’t.”

“Angel.”

Crystal stared in interest at Cordelia, wondering who Angel’s was. Buffy just gaped. Dorkhead? Cordy had called Angel a Dorkhead. She looked up to the front seat. Wesley and Gunn weren’t even listening;

Wesley was just grumbling as Gunn laughed at the boxer’s Wesley was trying to stuff in his pocket as he drove.

***

“Fred, pen,” Angel called, picking up a notebook from the coffee table.

Fred hurried, finally finding a pen and handing it to the vampire.

“Hey, that’s my math notebook.” Dawn tried to get up again. Willow pulled the teenager back down.

“Got ‘em,” Angel said back into the phone.

“Ready?”

“Cordy, I got paper and pen.”

“Okay, 2 shirts about my size, same for the 2 pants, size…”

Angel looked down at what he was writing. “Cordy, you want me to go clothes shopping for you?”

“No, I don’t want you to go shopping for me. I told you to let me talk to Fred.”

“Why? I can go shopping for you. I know your size. I bought you all those clothes before, you said you liked them, you squealed and everything.” Angel paced.

“Ow” Willow jumped as Xander hit her. “Shopping? Okay, I get that maybe a priority for Cordelia during a crisis, the end of the world is a ‘special occassion’. But, deadboy? This is nuts.”

Willow opened her mouth to respond but she didn’t have a clue what to say. She just resumed her staring at the pacing, whining vampire.

***

“I didn’t squeal.” Cordelia argued into the phone.

“You did do too, jumped up and down, squealed and “La, la’d’.”

Cordelia closed her eyes at the memory of Angel presenting her with whole new wardrobe to replace the few clothes he had given away. “I la, la’d,” she admitted smiling softly in the phone, tears threatening to squeeze from her eyes. She couldn’t do this. “Angel, please let me talk to Fred.”

“No, I can go shopping for you.”

Cordelia wanted to throw the phone out the window or at least make Gunn take the phone back, but she couldn’t resist Angel’s voice, promising and begging to let him please her. How could she have been so blind?

How could she have missed the love that coated Angel’s need to fix things for her, make them better, to make her happy. Cordelia wasted so much fuckin time and now it was too late.

Cordelia couldn’t hang up on the vampire, but she could control her feelings, she could. Cordelia took a deep breath. “Angel, we need some clothes for Crystal, the victim we saved, okay? She’s about my size. She needs everything as in she is wearing nothing but Gunn’s coat. I’d like also to have some clothes because mine are all bloody, okay.”

Angel heard everything, but nothing computed except that Cordelia’s clothes were bloody. “Blood? What happened? Are you hurt? How badly? Damn’t Cordy why didn’t you say so? Where are you? Lorne,”

Angel pulled briefly up from the phone, throwing the demon his keys, “ get my car. Fred, I need a blanket, now.”

“Angel, Angel,” Cordelia yelled loudly.

“Cordy, where are you? I’m coming.”

“Angel, calm down. I’m fine, not my blood, gross bad guy blood. I’m a magnet for the yucky stuff,” she couldn’t help but grumble.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” Angel said marginally more calm.

“Don’t be a dork, of course, I’m sure.”

“Don’t scare me like that.” Angel growled.

Fred put down the blanket and Lorne sat back down.

“Angel, I’m fine. Everyone is fine, no injuries to report. Gunn has some bruises, but nothing that a little lovin’ from Fred won’t cure.”

“Oh, what about you? Do you have any bruises that…”

“Angel. I said I was fine. No, comfort or care needed, just clothes. Okay.”

“Okay.” Angel said somewhat dejectedly.

“Also, we are going straight to the Magic Shoppe. Wesley wants to look at some of Giles’ books. Get Fred, we have her computer, but we’ll need her. Also, ask Lorne if he knows anything about ‘Drakkus’, another hell dimension, like we don’t have enough. Hmmph.”

“Hell dimension?” Angel growled, his body tensing up again.

“Yeah, that’s seems to be where the danger is coming from- zappy, sparky little portals or something like that, Surprise, uh.”

“You’re leaving Sunnydale, now. I’ll get Connor and pick you up at the Magic Shoppe. You both will stay in the Hyperion until this is over.”

“Angel.”

“Cordelia, I’m not asking, if I have to bind and gag you, you are not staying anywhere near a damn portal and neither is our son.”

Cordelia pushed back the ‘our’ son comment and focused on the rest. If she yelled, there was a very good chance that Angel would carry out his order just to be obstinate. She tried to think.

“Angel, my vision was about the world ending. Last I checked LA was still part of the world, so if Sunnydale goes, so does LA.”

“No. If a portal to a hell dimension is on the Hellmouth, you and Connor will not be anywhere near it. I will not take the chance that either of you will get sucked in again. You’re not staying.”

“Angel, you’re being stupid. Just because I got sucked into Pylea and Connor got sucked into Quor-toth…”

“You died in Quor-toth.”

Cordelia sighed. Maybe Angel wasn’t being stupid. Hell Dimensions did seem to like her and Connor.

“Angel, take Connor away. But, I’m staying. I have to. The Powers…Angel, I’m already dead. It doesn’t matter if I get sucked into a Hell Dimension and the Powers want me to stay and help Buffy stop the apocalypse. They didn’t say anything about you staying, though. They just want you in LA, so go, take Connor and go.”

Cordelia blinked back her tears, as she heard nothing but a violent enraged growl, a crash accompanied by the phone crackling in static and then silence.

Wesley and Gunn had stopped bickering to listen to Cordelia’s side of the conversation with Angel. Their expressions going from smiles at Cordelia’s exasperation at what had to be dorky Angel to stone as Cordelia’s last statement sounded throughout the car.

They stared forward, their angry thoughts and anxious prayers the same. Cordelia could not be dead. She had fought with them, she had teased them, she was in the car with them. Cordelia was alive. She couldn’t leave them again.

Buffy leaned her head against the window. She hadn’t heard anything of what Angel had said, but she heard enough from Cordelia. All the talks in the world with Angel weren’t going to get her back to the place she had been living in for the last six months.

Angel loved Cordelia, not as a best friend but with a love that used to be reserved for only Buffy. Buffy wasn’t at all sure where that left her in the vampire’s affection and life. Buffy needed to get out of the car, she needed to see her family and with a sickening heart she wondered if Angel and Connor had ever been apart of that family.

Crystal looked around at the silence that had engulfed the car. What had been laughter and teasing had turned into an immense weighted tension. There was sadness all around her, no where more evident than from the young woman with the powers of the Glisterian and a human heart, the woman who had said she was already dead.

Crystal tentatively reached out her hand entwining her fingers around that Cordelia’s fingers. “Everything will be okay,” Crystal smiled wanting to help the brave young woman that had saved her life.

Cordelia turned and stared at Crystal. She squeezed the demons hand. “Yeah,” smiling sadly.


Chapter 15

The silence of the room was shattered by sound of smashed plastic bouncing off the wall onto the floor. Angel turned from the broken phone to Lorne.

“What do you know….”

Dawn jumped up tugging at the vampire. Willow got up ready to do- she didn’t know what, but she would do it- if it looked liked Angel was going to hurt the teenager.

“Angel,” tugging harder. “What about Buffy? Is she all right? Why didn’t you ask how she was?”

Angel glanced down and then up to the teenager’s face. He took a deep breath, biting down his reaction to growl and push her aside. “They’re going to the Magic Shoppe, no one was hurt,” his steady voice barely containing the anger that encompassed his body.

Willow grabbed Dawn, as the teenager was about to say something else. “Dawn, Xander can drive us.”

“Right, let’s go.”

“Willow.” Angel stopped the redhead. “Take a change of clothes. Cordy said the victim needs them. It’s seems she was without any when she was saved.”

“Naked? Orgy, right. Okay,” Willow turned back to Xander. “I’ll be only a minute wait for me.”

“Yeah, outside.” Xander pulled Dawn out the door. Xander didn’t like the show of vampire rage and he didn’t want Dawn to ask any more questions about Buffy. Angel seemed to only have Cordelia on his mind and right now as far as Xander could tell Angel’s mind was very angry.

As soon as the front door closed, Angel turned back to the green demon. “Drakkus, hell dimension, ever heard of it.”

“No.” Lorne shook his head.

“Find out, now.”

Lorne blinked. “From the sticks? Sunnyhell burg may be the ‘B’ end all of evil convergences, but I don’t have any contacts here.”

“Stay with Connor and use the phone.” Angel ordered.

Lorne let out a whoosh of air, he felt much more comfortable around Angel’s growls. The menacing, cold calmness of the vampire could scare the shit out of a being. Now, if Lorne could only think of one contact that had a phone.

Fred took a small step towards the vampire. “Angel, if Wesley is researching about this hell dimension, he….”

“He asked that you go. You can wait or go with them.”

Fred looked out the window. The sun had almost fully dipped beyond the horizon. “I’ll wait for you.”

Angel nodded and went upstairs.

***

Cordelia placed a blanket she found in the shop around Crystal. She had already told Wesley to leave the demon alone until she got some clothes on.

“Thanks. Are you better now?”

Cordelia shrugged and sat next to the young demon. “Do you have a family?”

Crystal blinked, her big eyes turning sad. “Not anymore. The Drakkus killed them when I was kidnapped.”

“I’m sorry.” Cordelia reached out holding on to the demons hand.

“Do you want to go back home, the Drakkus don’t look real friendly? This dimension has it’s own share of evilness, don’t get me wrong, but they looked pretty evil.” Cordelia knew Crystal was to be Angel’s new seer, but she couldn’t do it to her, not if Crystal wanted to go home. That wouldn’t fair or right.

“They are.” Crystal nodded. “And I don’t really have a home to go back to.”

“No friends? What about the guy in the cave?”

“Never met him before, still haven’t actually met him. And I do have friends on Drakkus, but Drakkus is dying that’s what this is all about.”

Cordelia scrunched up her brow, holding back all her questions. Wesley would bombard the young demon soon enough. Cordelia leaned up and pointed. “That’s Wesley, I didn’t really get a chance to introduce you probably. He’s the brains of the family; Gunn over there is the muscle. Fred will be here soon, she a brainac too, and Gunn’s girlfriend. Angel’s the champion, he’s also a vampire.”

“A vampire? I’ve heard of them, they’re evil demons.”

“Mostly, but not Angel, he’s good, he has a soul. He’s the champion.”

“Oh,” Crystal scrunched up her nose, deciding to believe Cordelia. “What about her?” Crystal pointed to Buffy. The blonde young woman was sitting on the counter talking to no one, just watching as Wesley and Gunn carried down books from the top floor.

“Oh, that’s Buffy, she’s the slayer, a champion like Angel, but she lives here in Sunnydale, our family lives in LA…another place,” Cordy added at the demon’s confusion.

“We just came to help her stop whatever is going to happen, well actually Angel’s been living here for awhile, too, but his home is in LA, that’s where his mission is-in LA. See, his mission is to help the helpless. Wesley, Gunn and Fred help Angel, Lorne, too, he’s a demon from another dimension just like you.”

“You help, too? You’re very brave.”

“I used to, I’m sort back only on a temporary basis for this world saving extravaganza.”

“Used to? You said you were dead?” The demon looked at Cordelia, frowning.

“Like I said a temporary basis…” She looked up as Willow, Xander and Dawn barged in.

Buffy jumped down and ran to her friends.

“Buffy,” Dawn cried running into her sister’s arms. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” Buffy squeezed tightly. “Angel?” she looked up to Willow.

Willow gulped. “We left him, he was upstairs with Connor. He told me to bring these for the….” Holding out a bundle of clothes.

Cordelia came up. “Thanks.” She looked through the clothes. There was only one set. Stupid vampire, he didn’t write it down. “Crystal,…”

Cordelia was jerked around to be face to face with Xander. “You are alive.”

“Hi, Xander.”

“You don’t look like a demon.”

Cordelia raised a brow. “Well, I am. Good to see you, too. Crystal, here.” She handed the clothes to the other woman and pointed to the bathroom.

“Okay, she did look like a demon, though not the normal gross type.”

Cordelia swung back around. “Prejudice, much, Geez. You say anything like that to her and I’ll kick your ass. I take it Fred decided to wait for Angel?”

“Didn’t you hear, Angel’s not coming. You told him to leave and he’s leaving aren’t you happy now?” Buffy glared.

“Buffy, Angel will go back to LA, but he’s not going now, he won’t leave until all this over. Geez, don’t you even know him?”

“But, you….”

“Angel wouldn’t leave his friends in trouble.” Cordelia turned as Angel and Fred came in. Fred rushed in running first to Cordelia. Angel followed more slowly, his gaze unreadable.

“Cordy, I knew you would be safe.”

Cordelia smiled and once again moved away from the young woman’s hug.

“Stop doing that.” Fred cried, trying to hug her again.

“Fred,” Cordelia held back.

“Hey, girl about a hug for me. I got bruises.” Gunn called from across the room.

Fred looked once more at Cordelia. “You need to stop doing that.” She ran towards her boyfriend.

“Fred’s right.” Angel said. His eyes grazing her body, studying the blood on her clothes.

“Angel, stop sniffing me, I told you I wasn’t hurt.”

Angel jerked the knapsack up that he had been carrying. “Go change, then we need to talk. Go,” he demanded at her glare.

“Fine.” She huffed taking the bag.

“Angel,” Buffy said.

“Not now, I need to now exactly what happened,” Angel went directly towards Wesley.

“But, I was there, I know what happened.” Buffy called after the vampire.


Chapter 16

Cordelia looked at the bag. Well, she wasn’t going to apologize to Angel for thinking he forgot. She grabbed at the clothes and wanted to throw up. She hugged the soft fleece to her chest wanting to cry.

Angel brought her favorite comfy outfit. Actually, she guessed it wasn’t really hers, even though she confiscated them the first night she ever stayed over at the hotel. Cordelia looked down at her blood-covered shirt. It wasn’t that bad. Cordelia blinked away her tears.

Cordelia slumped on the floor, wrapping the sleeves of Angel’s black cotton sweater around her fist. She could do this. She had to. Cordelia got up, rolling the waistband of Angel’s gray sweats up, forcing them to fit in an all too familiar pattern. She took a deep breath and joined the others.

***

Cordelia glared. This would not do. She had passed over Angel’s gaze and fixed on Crystal. The demon looked scared and Cordelia couldn’t blame her.

If Angel had been glowering like that the whole time he was standing next to her, Cordelia would’ve been scared too, well except she would’ve been mad. Cordelia shook her head. A seer couldn’t be scared of her warrior.

It just wouldn’t do.

Cordelia strode up. Angel met her half way. “We’re going to talk now.” Taking her elbow and pulling her back into the room she just came from.

“Angel, we have to go figure this out.”

“What’s to figure out, another apocalypse by way of a god damn hell dimension.”

“Figure out how to stop it, duh.”

“Wesley will tell us, we need to talk.”

“Oh, so you haven’t tried to kill him, again. What is it four times now? Gee, Angel, you sure you’re not melodramatic or maybe you’ve just gotten sloppy.”

Angel growled.

“And don’t growl at me and start being nice to Crystal.”

“Who?”

“Crystal, the pretty demon out there.”

“What?”

“You don’t think she’s pretty, sure she’s gold, but it’s a nice gold and she doesn’t have horns or tail. And she’s got nice hair, real hair. She’s pretty don’t you think?” Cordelia stopped at Angel’s expression.

She blinked as Angel blinked. Cordelia in disbelief that she still was concerned that she might even have the opportunity to turn gold. Angel just blinked in utter confusion at Cordelia’s ramblings.

“I don’t care what she looks like, I don’t care about her.”

“Angel, you have to. Okay, you don’t think she’s pretty, though the gold isn’t that bad, but you need her.” Cordelia argued.

“Who cares about the color of her skin? And I don’t need her, I need you.” Angel growled again.

Cordelia smacked away his hand, “Well, you can’t have me. I’m dead. I won’t be around much longer. The armaggedy thingy has started and soon it will be over and if the world doesn’t end, which it never seems too, I’ll be going to heaven. Skip said so.”

“You’re alive, you’re here with me, and you aren’t going anywhere, fuck Skip and the Powers.”

“Angel, you can’t do this. You have to care about the Powers; you have to care about Crystal. You need to for your Shansu.”

“I don’t care about anything but…What does that demon out there have to do with the scroll’s prophecy?”

Cordelia took a deep breath and prepared to run. “You need a new seer, she’s going to be my replacement.” She took off running for the others, slamming down between Crystal and Gunn on the couch.

Everyone looked at Cordelia like she lost her mind as she scrambled over legs and bodies to get to the spot on the couch. Everyone jumped as they heard the roar and yell of her name from the back room.

Angel didn’t bother to take a breath or count to ten he just turned and headed straight for Cordelia. The legs and bodies that the young girl trampled scattered making a path for the vampire.

“Scaredies,” Cordelia grumbled as Angel stood directly in front of her.

“You are coming with me, NOW.”

Cordelia jumped up on the couch, her hands on her hips “NO.”

“Cordelia.”

“Sit down or stand or sulk or brood or seethe but do not ORDER me around, and get that ‘grr’ face off, NOW”

Angel stepped closer.

“Get back, I’ve got the Power and know how to use it.” She put her hands out in front of her.

Angel raised his brows.

Cordelia glared holding her hands out and concentrated. “Why won’t it work,” she turned to Crystal, stamping her foot on the cushions. “How come you can do it, when you want to. It’s not fair.”

“I don’t know, maybe because your not really a Glisterian, you’ve the Power, but you’re human, too. The ability to control the Power develops, as we get older. Before that the Power just manifests when you are in danger or scared. I guess you’re not either.”

The pretty demon shrugged from behind Wesley’s back. Though, Crystal wondered how Cordy couldn’t be scared or in danger. The vampire looked very frightening and mean, right now.

Angel shot a look to the demon. “Glisterian?”

Crystal moved hiding further behind Wesley at the vampire’s gold eyes.

“What’s wrong with you, it was just a question.”

“Angel,” Wesley waved a hand up to his own face, clearing his throat.

“What? Oh,” Angel’s handsome face reappeared. “What does a “Glisterian’ whatever they are have to do with Cordelia’s demon powers?”

Wesley cleared his throat. “It seems that Glisterian are demons from the Drakkus dimension, Crystal is one of such species. She also has the same powers that Cordelia was developing after the transformation. It is quite possible that the Powers made Cordy part Glisterian.”

Angel looked at the demon really looked at her, noticing the gold skin, the voluptuous body, and pretty face. He looked back at Cordelia still standing on the cushions, her hands no longer on her hips but trying to hold up her sweats, all of her jumping around had loosened the ties.

A soft smile settled over Angel’s face as he leaned in to Cordelia, his finger gently cupping her face. “You’re right, you would be very pretty gold.” He said lowly.

Cordelia jerked back. “That’s not what I meant.” She hissed. “And, anyway, it doesn’t change anything.” She snapped.

Angel leaned back, the soft smile becoming wider. “I’ll just stand over there and brood for now, okay.”

“Angel, it…I..” Cordelia huffed and slumped around to her original position on the couch, diverting her eyes from the vampire. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. She knew he was still smirking, thinking she cared what he thought about her possibly becoming gold.

“What are all you staring at?” she yelled to the room. “Don’t we have bad things to seek and destroy?”

Everybody, well, Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Crystal scrambled back to their original positions taking up the researching where they had left off.

Willow, Xander and Dawn just stood close around Buffy, all wondering what the hell just happened.


Chapter 17

Angel leaned up against the wall, His arms across his chest, his eyes never leaving Cordelia. She was there in front of him trying obstinately to avoid his gaze. He loved how his sweater swallowed her; it gave him a sense of contentment. It always had.

Even that first time, when he saw her stumbling out of the guest room, stretching and yawning half asleep. Angel had grumbled about her stealing his favorite sweater and wrinkling it. She had blinked and stuck her tongue out at the vampire telling Angel that if he had let her go home the night before she would’ve had her own clothes to change into but since he didn’t it was his fault and they were comfy.

Angel couldn’t be mad, because when he watched Cordelia bounce down the stairs wearing his clothes, he knew she was safe.

Till this day, Angel still didn’t know how she got his clothes, he had tucked her in after the battle with the Astras cult in which she almost got killed again and watched over her for most of the night. But somehow, Cordy got his clothes and from then on claimed them has hers. Angel just kept washing them and putting them back into the guest room for her.

Angel closed his eyes briefly, pain settling in his chest. He had worn those same clothes every night after she died, trying desperately to keep her scent alive, if only in his dreams.

It wasn’t until Angel came to Sunnydale that he packed them away. Angel breathed deeply. Cordelia was there. He opened his eyes and stared again. Cordy had her comfy clothes and he had her, he could almost be happy.

Cordelia just needed to let him hold her, let him tell her that he loved her. Angel frowned; he hadn’t actually got around to telling her that and she never said that she loved him. But, Cordy was worried that he wouldn’t think she was pretty if she actually turned gold and that gave him hope.

No, everything would be fine once this current apocalypse was over. Cordy just needed to get those “I am still dead’ crap and the ridiculous idea that anybody could replace her out of her head. Then Angel could be happy.

“Angel, Angel.”

The vampire wanted to growl at the interruption, but he also knew he had to do this sooner or later. Angel glanced down at Buffy.

“I need to talk to you.”

Angel nodded. Sooner was better than later, once the fighting started there wouldn’t be time and once it was over he wanted to take Connor and Cordelia back home as quickly as possible. Angel was just truly sorry that he would have to hurt Buffy. But Angel had no choice- his life was back.

***

Cordelia bit her lip and watched her family. Wesley simultaneously reading his books, writing frantically, studying the disc, and shooting questions at Crystal. Fred was alternating whizzing things in the computer at Wesley’s command and chatting with Crystal about the difference between LA, Pylea and Drakkus whenever Wesley allowed Crystal a breath.

Gunn was sitting on the counter, playing his computer game ignoring the bustle around, just waiting to be told where and when to fight. The only thing wrong with the picture was that they were in Sunnydale, not home.

Cordelia leaned back. It wasn’t fair that she would have to die in this hell pit. She wanted to go back to LA. She wanted her family. She wanted to be hugged and told everything would be all right. She couldn’t do it anymore.

Cordelia knew that she couldn’t have it all, but maybe she could have a piece of it. Cordelia looked up and saw Buffy take Angel into the back room. That little heart to heart/discussion/whinefest would take awhile. Wesley and the rest wouldn’t notice. She looked to the other occupants.

No, Willow, Xander and Dawn wouldn’t either, they were also helping, reading whatever texts Wesley suggested. Cordelia quietly closed her book and got up.

Cordelia slipped silently out the door of the Magic Shoppe, stopping only to get her sword. She may be part demon and soon to be dead, but it was Sunnydale and Cordelia didn’t want her death to come any sooner than need be.

***

Angel forced himself to block out Cordelia’s heartbeat and scent. He needed to concentrate on the young woman before him. Buffy deserved it.

Now that she got him there, Buffy wasn’t sure how to start or how much she really wanted to know. Cordelia kept saying that she was dead that her presence was only temporary.

If Buffy believed that then Angel wouldn’t have a future with the brunette. Buffy’s future wouldn’t have to be destroyed. She just had to make sure that Angel wouldn’t leave her to go back to LA, once Cordelia was gone again.

But do that she would have to be able accept Angel’s answers to the questions she had and not ask the ones that she really needed to know the answers to.

“Angel, I just wanted to have a moment alone with you. We haven’t had one since Cordelia showed up. Understandably, it’s been distracting; our friend just came back from the dead. It’s exciting and wonderful, of course, the news of Armageddon isn’t, but we’ve handled those before. I just wanted to tell you that I understood why…why you’ve been acting a little strangely, she was your best friend, you told me that.”

“A little strangely,” Angel frowned. This was not the conversation he expected. He had expected legitimates demands for Angel to explain the truth behind his actions and words. Answers and explanations that Angel was prepared to make because Buffy deserved the truth.

“Sure, the surprise and everything. We all were. It threw everyone for a loop, especially you. You were close to Cordelia. I understand.”

“Close to Cordelia?” Angel knew Buffy wasn’t stupid. He was began to wonder why Buffy was deliberately minimizing his obvious reaction to Cordelia’s presence.

“She was your seer and best friend. I understand.”

“Buffy, you keep saying that but who are you trying to convince, me or you?”

“Angel, I do understand. I love you. You love me. We can handle this together. I’ll be there for you when she goes. I just wanted you to know that.”

Angel stepped back, thoughts of being considerate, kind and any questions as to why Buffy was denying, fell away from his mind as the urge to throttle Buffy took over. Angel took a deep breath. “Cordy isn’t going anywhere except back to LA, when this is over.”

Buffy shot out a hand, trying to remain calm. “Angel, I know it’s hard to accept seeing her looking all alive, but she’s dead, only here because the Powers want her to help US with this. And I know you’ll grieve again for her, but I’ll be there. I promise.”

“Cordy already made the promise never to leave me, Buffy. And I’m holding her too it. She came back and she will stay with our son and me. That’s my promise.”

“Angel, Cordy said…”

“I know what she said. But she was wrong. Cordy is very rarely wrong but she is about this.”

“Angel, she was in heaven. Heaven is peace from all this. You really want her to give it up when she wants to go back, can go back. I told you what it felt like to be ripped out of heaven. You would really want that for her? You care about her. She was in heaven, Angel. Believe me, she wants to go back.”

“Buffy, you say you understand, then really understand I don’t just care about Cordelia, I love her. And I didn’t rip her out of heaven, the Powers did, I’m not just giving her back.”

“You love me.”

“Yes.” Angel anger was replaced by sadness and guilt. He should have known better; it had always felt wrong. “But, I was able to move on when you died, I could still live, be happy. That didn’t happen when Cordelia died. It couldn’t because I need her for those things to be true and that was a conclusion I came to a very long time ago, even before you died. The love was only a little slower in coming.”

“You did move on, you came back to me. You moved on, you did.”

“No, Buffy, I just loved you. I’m sorry.”

“Angel, that’s…”

Angel growled and stormed out of the room leaving Buffy standing in the middle of the room. “WHERE IS CORDY?”

Buffy fell to the floor, she hadn’t asked him, she hadn’t wanted to know. But the bastard told her anyway. He loved Cordelia more than he ever loved her.

Now, what was she going to do?

Chapter 18

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