Title: Changing Seasons
Category: Fluff and dark
Summary: A glimpse into Angel’s mindset during the beginning of each of the first 3 seasons.
Spoilers: Up to Hearthrob. Also, mild B/A in the past tense.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: These were basically just me tinkering, getting my muse back on, and getting into Angel’s head is always a barrel of monkeys so there was no downside. You’ll notice there isn’t one for S4 or S5 because they are dead to me.
Feedback:Is addictive, constuctive suggestions welcomed.
Los Angeles 1999
Angel stares out of his office, at his secretary sitting at her desk, casually flipping through a fashion magazine. Legs crossed, red flashes from her toenails as she loosely rotates her ankle. He hears the pop-pop-pop of the bones as her foot moves in a circular pattern.
He has a secretary.
Hair the color of rich chocolate spills down her back and shoulders, moving this way and that as she scans the pages.
The business cards she spent so much time designing rests in a holder at the edge of his desk, positioned carefully this morning as he was coming off the elevator.
Doyle wasn’t in yet, and Angel pretends not to notice the hang-over coloring his voice during the phone call. Although, as a boss, he supposes he should say something.
He’s a boss.
The outer door opens and Cordelia looks up hopefully, poised to pull the magazine into her lap if their door opens.
But their door does not open.
The door with his name on it.
He watches the disappointment flicker across her features as her welcoming smile fades. He hears the gentle rustle of her top as she shrugs and bends back over the glossy pages.
He admits to himself that she has constantly surprised him since running into her in L.A. He was aware of her in Sunnydale – he’s dead, not blind – but her personality was too forceful for someone who didn’t do crowds. But here, she’s more open, less with the vicious queen bee attitude that made him, on occasion, wince in sympathy when she targeted Buffy.
Outside the window behind Cordelia’s chair, the suns’ rays slants through the drawn blinds as it sets. In less than an hour, he’ll be free to roam the city again. There’s a nibble, a message left on their answering machine that Cordelia insists on calling voice mail, and she wants him to track down the caller.
He sounded desperate, she says with a brilliant smile.
He has to remind himself that he’s the boss. This is his office. That girl sitting out there is his employee.
And, out there in the city, is a person that needs his help.
Inside his body, the tightness that has gripped his chest since he left Sunnydale eases.
Just a little.
Los Angeles 2000
She was arguing with Wes again.
Their voices were drifting up the stairs and into his room, interfering as he tried to hold onto the dream that was already slipping away. He rose from the bed, eased into his shirt as if he were an old man, and stood for a second, stretching muscles and trying to shake the fog from his mind.
The sharp sound of Cordelia’s rebuke broke through his concentration, and he moved finally, leaving his room and following the voices down into the lobby.
He stopped in the shadow of the staircase, watching his employees go at it like kids on a playground.
Nose to nose, Cordelia used the sharp end of her forefinger as proficiently as a slayer wields a stake, jabbing repeatedly at the air in front of Wesley’s nose to punctuate each point. Wesley just looked more British-Lord-of-the-Realm with each jab.
He paused in the middle of trying to dissimilate their argument, but was distracted by Cordelia’s choice of office wear. Pencil straight skirt, and a paisely printed halter top that plunged low in the front, it fit her as if tailored by hands intimate with the curves of her body. The gleam of her tanned skin and the fresh scent of baby powder suggested that she had showered recently.
He sniffed delicately, and the perfume of her skin broke up the heavier jasmine lingering in his nostrils.
Her long hair drifted over her shoulder, locks streaming over her arms and dancing slightly with each movement she made. If he inhaled only a little more, he could catch the herbal scent of her shampoo. He flashed suddenly to last week, of holding her in the throes of a vision, and feeling the soft mass brushing his bare forearms as she writhed painfully against him.
It seemed wrong to notice something so inconsequential while Cordelia suffered, but he couldn’t help reliving the shiver that slid over his skin at the remembered sensation.
The sudden silence made him focus on the two in front of him, and he realized that they were staring at him.
“You’re arguing again.”
Preemptive strike, to mask the direction of his thoughts.
“Angel, you’re up.” Wesley’s voice was neutral.
“Kind of hard to sleep with the noise down here.”
Wes flushed a delicate pink.
Cordelia’s eyebrow merely climbed higher on her forehead.
“It’s like 9pm, Angel. I know you’re dead and all, but you don’t actually have to sleep like one.”
She turned and walked away, over to her desk on the other side of the counter. Angel didn’t say anything, knowing he had, indeed, slept too long. Instead, he watched the line of her spine ripple before she was hidden by the counter, the pearls of her vertabrae sharper than he remembered. He wondered if she was eating enough. She needed the nourishment in order to keep the vision pain from totally overwhelming her.
Wes stepped into his line of vision and stared hard at him, eyes darkened with worry.
“How are you feeling Angel?”
Over the ex-Watcher’s shoulder, Angel could see Cordelia’s head bent over her desk, making notes. His eyes shifted to the man in front of him.
“I’m fine, Wes, just tired.”
“Still not getting enough rest?”
Angel’s eyes darted around the room again, fighting to recall the soft voice that called to him when he was asleep, exacerbating his exhaustion and arousing him all at once. Vivid dreams weaved by his dead Sire; they made his gums ache with need.
His eyes cut back to Wesley.
“I’m fine.” He repeated, brushing past the man, dismissing the subject with the hunch of his shoulders.
He crossed the lobby, steps slow and easy, stalking quietly.
Standing in the entryway of their office area, he watched Cordelia. Her head was bent forward and to the side, hair cascading over her right shoulder, baring her neck. Her pen made a softly scratching noise against the paper as she sketched the outline of a demon’s head.
Hunger rose up sharp and hard in him, and he leaned forward slightly, swaying with the need to rush her, to push her against the wall and jerk her chin up so he could rub his mouth against the exposed flesh, so soft over her jugular, hear her scream his name.
Smell her fear.
Her head came up, and she glanced back at him over her shoulder, eyes narrowed.
“Do I have something on me, or are you just being weird for no reason?”
That hard voice, those sharp words, they shouldn’t come from such a soft, pliant mouth.
It would be so easy, his demon that sounded like his Sire whispered in his head.
He blinked and focused on her, watched as her eyes filled with concern.
“If there’s something going on, if something’s bothering you-“
“Nothing’s bothering me,” he interrupted her. “In fact, things are starting to make sense again.”
“What are you talking about?” She dropped her pen and swiveled in her chair to face him.
His eyes tracked down the line of her body, lingering on the naked skin of her thighs.
He could sense Wesley coming up behind him, could imagine his head tilting to the side as his heart sped up.
Fear wound through the air, tendrils curling around him, and his demon welcomed it like a long lost friend.
“What am I talking about, Cordelia?” He ducked his head and looked up at her through half-hooded eyes.
Los Angeles 2001
It was a long time before he came out of the tunnel.
He couldn’t remember the journey East too well, a ship, too many moonlights staring at nothing, and there was blood sometimes, none of it human.
He remembers dressing every night and meditating, doing his movements until the sweat poured off his back. All the while wanting to punch and hit and scream. And then the calmness would settle again, and he’d sit and remember.
It was a surprise when he came back to himself one day, out the other side of that tunnel that was so dark. He looked around, blinked slowly and then more quickly, took a breath he didn’t need to take.
He stood and went outside for a walk in the gardens the monks tended with such care.
By the time the monks revealed their true nature, he was ready to go home.
He stood in the basement of the Hyperion, paused on the first step up to the door that led to the hallway. He could hear their voices, his life, up there. Cordelia was asking the guys to bait traps, and getting no responses. Her droll voice drew closer and closer and he found that he was bracing himself as he ascended the steps. Three months away and he hadn’t realized until just this minute how much he missed them. Missed his life and his friends.
His chest tightened as the scent of her drew nearer. She was wearing a different perfume than the one he was used to, but he liked it. Heartbeat strong and steady, voice happliy free of the tension brought on by vision pain. Maybe the Powers had granted her the mercy of peace while he’d been away.
He stood in front of the door; waiting with a smile as she got closer, hands locked in front of him in a loose clasp, ready to envelop her.
The sweet weight of her.
Then the door swung open and light spilled into the darkness of the basement. Her surprised yelp was adorable, and when she smiled, he forgot everything, all the trouble of getting home and the pain of having to leave it in the first place, and smiled back.
He could forget, if only for the moments that she hugged him, that kernel of guilt that stayed through it all, the one that asked in a whisper why he hadn’t followed Buffy into the grave.
She drew back and grabbed his hand.
“Guys! He’s back!”
He was guided into the warmth and light of his home, and back into the embrace of his family.
He knew why, even if he couldn’t admit it to himself just yet.