PART TWO- The Living
Wesley stooped down to help Gunn back to his feet.
“Great, Prince Charming,” Gunn mumbled under his breath, wiping off his pants. “I thought you closed those damn holes into never-never want to go there again-land,” the black man shot to Fred.
Fred nervously pushed at her glasses. “The mathematical equation should have closed all the portals. But, there were some unknown exponents that I had to…well, guess at,” she tentatively shrugged.
“Super. Does this mean just any old unwanted family members or faux royalty can just drop onto my stage, disrupting business, bringing up all sorts of childhood nightmares, just plain making this fashion conscious, music lover, one miserable green demon.” Lorne glanced around at the other startled patrons.
Some had already ran for the door, without paying, of course.
“The previous portals were the result of Winifred’s attempts to reopen the passage way between the dimensions. I don’t believe that this is at all the same circumstances,” counseled Wesley. “Angel?” Wesley tried to get Angel’s attention.
Angel hadn’t moved from his spot, he heard the voices of the others, but he didn’t hear their words. His whole concentration was fixed on Cordelia and Groosalugg. The Champion of Pylea had her cradled in his arms.
First Gunn, now this walking Ken doll from another dimension. Was everyone trying to horn in on his job to comfort Cordelia? Angel grumbled. That had to stop. Angel quickly knelt down. “Cordy? Are you all right?
Groo shot a look at Angel. He jumped to his feet in alarm and anger. “The beast.” The Pylean warrior cried.
Angel rolled his eyes up at the warrior. “No. The Cow. Cordy?” Ignoring Groo’s perplexed look. Angel took advantage of the space that the warrior left and slid next to Cordelia, gently placing his hands on the trembling young woman. “The vision?” he asked tenderly.
She groaned and blinked her eyes. “A Lancienus demon, doing what it does best butchering…Ah,” she gasped.
Cordelia’s palms dug into her eye sockets, pressing against her face, trying to smother the fire that singed her brain. Angel clutched at her rocking body offering Cordelia his comforting caresses.
Groo fell to his knees at Cordelia’s cry of pain. He shoved Angel aside, grabbing at the young woman.
For the second time Angel regretted that he wasn’t a vampire. Or better yet, Angel wished that he had allowed his feral beast free reign to rip the so-called champion limb from limb back in Pylea. He was getting on Angel’s last nerve.
The host took in everyone and everything. He turned quickly to the few remaining on-lookers. “Okie dokie Kids the floor show has closed for the night. Go on, go home, kill, maim, eat body parts, cry, make love do whatever makes your demon heart’s sing with pleasure. Enjoy. Thank you. Come again.” Lorne waved and ushered the rest of the patrons out. The green demon rolled his eyes.
Subtlety was a lost art for the Powers, that was for sure. Only thing more obvious would have been to transform the beautiful seer into a piece of raw meat and dangle her between to untamed wildcats.
Though, in this particular instance one of the cats had been effectively neutered. The PTB just don’t seem to want give the big handsome lug a break, Lorne sighed.
Well, Lorne would do what he could for Angel, but he didn’t think it would be much help. Angelcakes was going to have to figure this out on his own. Lorne just hoped that the human Angel was a bit less clueless than the vamp version.
The host needed a drink. All this drama reeked havoc on the stability of his nerves. Where was that bottle?
“Princess, let me relieve you of this burden. Please let me save you from this debilitating pain. Please, I beg of you.” Groo cupped Cordelia’s pain-racked face.
Puzzlement broke through Angel’s anger. The Pylean could take the visions away from Cordelia? How? “Cordy?”
Wesley and Gunn looked quickly at each other then away. Their eye’s traveling everywhere but at the trio sitting on the floor.
They hadn’t gone into much detail with Angel about the Pylean prophecy or the vision absorbing benefits of Cordelia com-shuking with the half- demon. Wesley and Gunn had felt the less said about Cordelia’s infatuation with the champion the better.
“Okay, that’s enough kiddies. This is merely a PG-13 type of establishment. Maybe NC-17 on Madonna wanna- be night. But that’s not tonight, so no sex show and tell, let’s just stick to violence. Not here, I remind those with screaming Y-chromosomes and not the `teeth’ to back them up. But on the docks with the Butcher from hell. Duty does call.”
“Sex?” Angel asked his gaze shooting from Cordelia to the handsome warrior holding her.
“Smooth,” Gunn grumbled to the host.
“Big guy, didn’t know did he?” Lorne grimaced. “No,” hissed Wesley.
“Secrets are a bad thing, not at all healthy, bad for the heart. Anyone else feel the need to get numb.” Lorne swished to the bar to grab his bottle of gin.
“Cordy?” “Princess.” Angel and Groo said at the same time.
Cordelia could barely hold her head up or open her eyes. The pain was ripping her apart and Angel and Groo were just exacerbating it by tugging at her like dogs with a bone.
“Ow.” Cordelia shouted. “Not now. Not important. Important is going to save those people in need of immediate saving. And would someone please get me some aspirin,” she groaned, trying to shout.
“Aspirin, Aspirin. I’ll get some,” Fred squeaked, running back to the table to grab Cordelia’s purse.
“Ow, never mind, just give me of what he is having,” Cordelia moaned pointing to Lorne’s gin and tonic.
“Honey, I think you may need something stronger.”
“Whatever,” Cordelia struggled. “Anything, to make it go away,” she groaned to the green demon.
“Highness, just let me. I can take the pain away.”
“Tequila, double shot,” screeched Cordelia. “Groo,” she blinked. “You have to go to the docks, kill the demon, and save the people. Okay? Okay. Is my drink ready, yet?”
“Of course, fair one. I will slay your demon. I am yours to command,” vowed Groo.
Wesley and Gunn rolled their eyes. A green color spread over Angel’s face. Fred looked wistfully at the adoring champion. Cordelia just snatched the bottle of tequila from Lorne, gulping at the contents.
Cordelia’s body shook as the fire in her brain transferred to her throat. She coughed, banging her fist against her chest. “Okay,” she whooshed. “Um, Wesley, Gunn?”
Wesley and Gunn looked again at each other than they both nodded at Cordelia.
“Thank you. Groo go with Wesley and Gunn. And please hurry,” she said as she took another swallow trying to numb the pain.
“I don’t need aid. I am Groosalugg the brave and undefeated” asserted the longhaired warrior.
“Not to cast dispersions on your abilities, but you do need us.” Wesley stated.
“You doubt my prowess?”
“We doubt your ability to drive.” Gunn shot.
“Come on, Kevin Sorbo from never-never land, let’s go kill a demon.” Gunn rolled his eyes.
“Highness, I will return with the offending demon’s head on a platter as a tribute to your beauty.”
“Not necessary, please. Just kill it,” Cordelia groaned and grimaced at the same time.
Angel got up. Cordelia’s hand shot out dragging him down. “Angel, stop. The vision wasn’t for you. You don’t have to go. You can’t go. You’re human, now. It’s over for you.”
“I….” Angel watched as Gunn and Wesley led Groo out of the club. “I can still fight.”
“But, you don’t have to.” Cordelia reminded him. “It’s over. You have done all that the PTB have asked. You made it.”
“I won’t abandon Wes and Gun,” he said affirmatively.
“Angel, you will have to when you go to Sunnydale. Leave it be.”
“No…Cordy, the visions were suppose to stop….”
“Angel, you are human, alive. That means you can die, really easily now. You have a second chance with Buffy, don’t screw it up. Don’t go. Groo can handle it. He’s the new warrior now.” Cordelia refuted.
“Groo’s seer is right, Angel cakes. Your time is come and gone. Live.” Lorne added. “Want a drink?”
“No. I’m going” Angel turned to Fred. “Make sure Cordelia is okay.” He ordered.
“No. Angel. If you are going then I’m going,” cried Cordelia.
“No. Fred.” Angel ordered the other woman to watch over Cordelia.
“Cordelia, you’re not any condition to go. Everyone will just be worried about you,” Fred mumbled practically.
“The little kitten is right,” Loren added.
“Angel,” Cordelia started to argue.
“Lorne.” Angel reinforced his order.
The green demon shook his head. “They’re leaving without you,” he commented shaking his head.
“Hurry. We will be fine, getting drunk.” Lorne shrugged, ignoring the knives Cordelia was shooting at him in her piercing gaze.
“Angel?” Wesley asked.
“More room in my car.” Angel gestured everyone away from Gunn’s truck.
“Angel, the vision. It was for Groo. He is the warrior now, not you. You are human.”
“Why does everyone think that means I’m helpless? I’m not. And we don’t know that Groo is the PTB’s warrior. It could just be someone playing with the portals in Pylean. Anyway, human or not, I’m don’t want to miss out on the fun.”
“Fun, this is not fun. It is sacred to champion the princess and a great honor,” Groo said with disdain at Angel’s comment. “I do not need your aid, beast.”
“Cow,” Angel grunted, clenching the steering wheel. He really didn’t like the champion. He was a pompous Ass.
Angel wished he could growl or show a little fang, either or both would be very satisfying about now. So would throwing the half-demon out on the street and pounding into him. “You need us. Or does your `prowess’ include knowing how to get to the docks? Get in.”
“You will show me, then I will defeat the demon for the princess,” conceded Groo.
“Does Pylea even have Lancienus demons,” commented Wesley.
“I have never been defeated no matter the foe. I’m the champion.”
“I beat you,” Angel mumbled under his breath.
“Why didn’t you stop him,” Cordelia scolded Lorne.
“I’m a demon of song and peace, not fisticuffs. And violence would have been the only way to stop the big lug from going.”
“But, Angel is human now. He could be killed.” Cordelia scrunched up her face. “The Powers wouldn’t let him die, right. I mean, they wouldn’t shanshu him just so he could be killed.” She groaned. “Who am I kidding, those higher idiots are twisted.”
“Yeah, twisted as a corkscrew,” Lorne agreed.
“Why is this happening? I sang, what did you see?” Cordelia demanded.
“I can only tell you what you know. Macho medieval man is Angel’s replacement”.
“I’m suppose to have visions for Angel. Angel is human. The visions were supposed to stop. I don’t want to be a seer for Groo. And why him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the Powers have a hunk quota for warriors. You have to admit he’s not sore on these red eyes, not as gorgeous as the big guy, but he’s good looking, helluva bod. Those biceps, the way he wears that S & M sleeveless leather garb. Not everyone can pull that off. And think of the money saved on hair gel.”
“Now, Princess don’t say that. I seem to remember you getting all a tingle over the hair, eyes and bod.”
“I…that wasn’t real,” Cordelia gulped and took another swallow of the harsh liquor.
“Whatever you say,” shrugged Lorne.
“It wasn’t,” Cordelia protested. “It was a fairytale, a really horrible, yucky one, but a fairytale. One where I was a princess and Groo the shiny knight that fawned all over me. But it wasn’t real. Real is here with Angel.”
“That’s not real anymore either, kitten. Angel is going to back to Sunnydale to live out his own fairytale with his own princess”
Cordelia’s large eyes blinked at Lorne, filling with tears. “Nothing is real anymore,” she whispered, defeated, her head falling to her knees and her shoulders shaking in silent sobs.
“The Lancienus demon is a large creature. It is vulnerable at the…” Groo jumped out of the vehicle as soon as it pulled up to the dock, not listening to Wesley’s recommendation.
Groo momentarily stopped at the size of the demon. Angel, Gunn and Wesley scrambled to the car’s trunk to gather the weapons.
“Hey champ, how about a sword,” called Gunn. “I guess not,” Gunn added as Groo charged full head into the Lancienus path.
“He has a `whip’,” commented Angel. “I’d rather have a blade.”
The demon lunged back swinging Groo to the ground.
Angel ran up behind the Lancienus, preparing to plunge his sword into its back. Groo jumped up and pushed Angel aside.
“The demon is mine,” Groo cried, attacking the demon again, ramming it with his body. Angel stumbled to his feet.
“Groo,” Gunn called. “Over here.” The young black man stood with his axe raised. Groo ignored the young man and continue to struggle with the Lancienus.
“The demon is vulnerable….” Wesley yelled as he tried to move closer, attempting to find an opening to strike. Again, the Pylean shoved aside any aid, cutting off the rest of Wesley instruction.
Wesley joined Gunn and Angel at the car. Angel leaned up against its side as Wesley and Gun made themselves comfortable on the hood. “He really should listen,” Wesley said.
Angel and Gunn just shrugged.
“Wes, how can Groo take Cordelia’s vision’s away,” Angel asked.
“Angel, this really isn’t the time.”
“Are you busy?” Angel retorted. “Because, I’m not.”
“The champ really doesn’t know the meaning of team playing does he?” agreed Gunn, jerking his legs up as Groo came crashing into the car.
“Groo, the demon is…” Wesley tried again.
“English, he ain’t hearing.” Gunn shook his head. “Ow,” Gunn winced as Groo took a hard blow to his chest. The warrior rebounded snapping out his whip at the demon’s legs. The Lancienus dropped to the ground.
“Not bad,” Gunn added. “Hey champ go for the knees.”
Angel rolled his eyes. “I would have finished this three blows ago.”
“Yes, well. That’s not an option.” Wesley commented. “If he would just listen. Groo take the sword.” Wesley threw the blade towards the warrior. Wesley shook his head as the demon grabbed the leather strap and yanked Groo to the ground.
Angel scowled. He felt useless and angry. Only a few hours ago he had been basking in the joy of being human and in the relief that Cordelia would no longer have to suffer the pain of the visions. He hadn’t liked the idea of leaving her, but he had understood why she didn’t want to go to Sunnydale with him.
Cordelia wanted to be an actress. She couldn’t do that in Sunnydale. . And he had to go to Sunnydale because that was where Buffy was.
But over the last thirty minutes, that joy disappeared. Once with the reoccurrence of Cordy’s visions and again when Groo whorled into Caritas. Things were not going as he expected it. And he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t see how to change it.
“Knees, knees,” Wesley yelled.
Finally, Groo seemed to be listening. He grabbed at the sword next to his feet and swung at the demon’s knees. The Lancienus howled in rage and pain, crumpling to the ground. Groo raised the sword and swung.
“It’s about time,” Angel grumbled.
“He’s not, is he?” Wesley groaned as Groo sliced off the demon’s head. The champion of Pylean held of the severed bloody head by its hair.
“For the Princess.”
“I don’t think….”
Angel struck Wesley in the stomach. “Do you want a silver platter?” Angel asked.
“For the Princess,” Angel offered the trashcan lid to the proud warrior.
“Angel,” Wesley gasped.
“Quiet, Wesley.” Angel shushed.
“That is not a very grand platter.” Groo looked doubtfully at the bent and dirty item.
“It’s what we have in this world,” Angel shrugged.
“I will have it. Take me to the Princess.”
“I’m not riding in the back with that,” protested Gunn.
“The demon is dead.” Groo scoffed at the other man’s protestations.
“And it’s dripping yellow goo, besides that it stinks.”
“….will find it to be a fitting tribute.” Angel finished for Wesley. “Bring it along, Groo.”
“Angel,” Wesley interrupted.
“Time to go.” Angel said getting in the car. “The Princess awaits the return of her champion bearing gifts.”
“The beast is right,” nodded Groo.
“Cow,” all three humans yelled.
Wesley pulled Angel back as Gunn and Groo entered the Caritas. “Why, Angel?”
“Cordelia is not going to like that,” Wesley pointed to the severed head that Groo was proudly carrying into the club.
“Cordy likes gifts.” Angel shrugged.
“Yes, jewels, clothes, flowers or even candy, but not a dead demon’s head. Why did you encourage him?”
“Ewwwwwww, gross. Get away from me.” Cordelia’s loud screech came from inside the club.
“Gee, I guess you’re right, Cordy didn’t like it,” Angel smiled innocently.
Groo kept moving closer to the scrambling young woman. “I have defeated the demon,” He urged the severed head and trash can lid closer to the pale brunette.
“I get it….Now get that gross, Eck!” Cordelia held her stomach with one hand and her mouth and nose with the other.
“Uh, handsome buff one, the princess doesn’t seem to appreciate your gift. In fact, none of us adoring meaningless subjects do either. Please deposit that …thing outside” Loren winced, waving his hand in front of his face, trying to fan away the putrid smell that filled the club.
“Nope, I was definitely wrong. Cordelia didn’t like it,” Angel smiled as a confused Groo went past he and Wesley to toss the demon head outside.
“Really, Angel. That was just juvenile,” Wesley scowled.
“Yeah, but you have to admit it was funny.”
“Yes…Well…actually, there was a certain humorous aspect to the whole inappropriateness.” Wesley couldn’t quite hide the smile that was forming on his face. “Groo is a little…. much…. isn’t he?”
Angel just rolled his eyes and went inside. He hurried over to Cordelia. Angel gently took the bottle of Tequila from her firm grip. “Cordy?”
“He brought me a head. A gross, disgusting, stinky, dead gooey head, Gross,” Cordelia yanked back at the bottle.
“I’m sure he meant well.” Angel shrugged, taking the bottle again away from Cordelia.
“You never brought me dead, yucky things. I want you back,” she whined and slurred at the same time. The Tequila was finally hitting her full force.
“Let’s go home,” Angel answered. He gently pulled the intoxicated seer to her feet. Home? He thought. Why did that sound so right? Angel couldn’t dwell on that, he just had to get Cordelia back to the Hyperion away from the ‘hero’ from the other dimension.
“Princess,” Groo asked, rushing to Cordelia’s side.
“Enough,” Angel frowned. This was getting to be unbearable. What Angel wouldn’t give for just an ounce of his vamp abilities.
“The Princess belongs to me,” Groo cried, shoving at Angel.
“Oh, dear” “Oh, shit” “That’s not real intelligent” “A hottie, but really dense.” filtered up through the room from its other occupants.
The room stilled as Cordelia struggled against Angel. All but Groo and Angel stepped back from the blazing scowl of the young woman.
Angel stayed because he knew that Cordelia’s lethal gaze wasn’t directed towards him and Cordelia needed help standing. Groo, well the Pylean just didn’t know better.
“BELONG…” Cordelia’s voice and eyes shot flaming daggers at the clueless warrior. “I don’t belong to anyone buster…Get over yourself.” She stumbled menacingly closer to the startled half demon.
Angel tugged at Cordelia’s arm.
“Umph,” she grumbled. ”Angel take me home…. Wes, introduce Dennis to the Power’s gift,” Cordelia ordered, not evening comprehending that she just designated where her home was, with Angel.
“Princess?” Groo shouted in a mixture of indignation, confusion and whininess.
Angel began to feel sorry for the half demon. Cordelia could have that effect on beings. She had brought out same emotions in Angel many times before.
But, Angel shook himself, Cordelia was banishing Groo away for the night, and that was what Angel wanted. Right?
Angel struggled; he didn’t even know his mind anymore. He was going to Sunnydale tomorrow, why was it so important to him that Cordelia go home with him tonight? Angel knew the answer was floating around somewhere in his mind.
He caught glimpses and sketches of the answer to that question and to others. All, Angel had to do was concentrate, but for some unknown reason, he was fearful of where such exploration would lead him.