BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
Cordelia’s alarm sounded loudly, almost, but not quite, rousing her from her wonderful demon-free sleep.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
The brunette forced one eye open, groaning as her entire body complained as her every muscle stirred in contradiction when Cordelia rolled gently onto her side to reach the offending item.
The rude alarm clock swiftly followed her water glass crashing to the floor, that one open eye glared as the other eye opened in companionship. “Rude!” Cordelia snapped in a sleepy, husky voice as she fumbled her arm out of her quilt to rub her eyes of sleep.
A few grazes on her elbow were the only scars visible from last night’s battle with three vampires. “Owwww!” she complained as she woke up a little more and sat up slowly and frowned.
They had sort of coped with the fighting but without a champion, without Angel, they hadn’t coped as well as what they would have obviously. Cordelia had given up her couch to a bruised Doyle as he was too beaten senseless to walk back to his own apartment. And judging from her body’s reaction to only waking and sitting up, she wasn’t in much better shape either.
Not that she had done much fighting last night, more along the lines of grabbing the woman and getting the hell outta dodge as Doyle laid as much as he could into the fight. He had surprised her last night, she hadn’t thought he would be able to hold his own as good as he did. Even though he had received a far worse beating than she had, the first thing Doyle had asked was if she was okay, not even thinking of himself.
Thinking about the Irishman made a smile cross Cordelia’s face and his words yesterday floated through her mind.
“Ya didn’t think I’d run out on ya did ya Princess?” he asked with that quirky little grin of his. Maybe she could count on Doyle not to abandon her.
n though they had tried their best last night it still hadn’t been good enough. Only one of the vampires had gotten killed, the other two had simply ran away and Cordelia had no doubt that word about Angel would be out by now. That left a Northern Hemisphere-sized problem for them.
A knock on her bedroom door caused Cordelia glare at the noise that intruded her staring-into-space-while-waiting-to-wake up time. “Go away, I’m still asleep,” she answered with a yawn.
“Princess?” came Doyle’s equally sleepy response through the door, “Whiskey?”
She shuddered at his request; “I have diet sodas in my fridge or a bottle Chianti in my way-too-empty wine rack but no whiskey”
He pushed her door open slowly, secretly hoping to spy on her getting changed, “Are ya decent?” he asked as he peeked round her door.
Cordelia rolled her eyes, “What are you hoping to hear? That I have clothes on or that I’m naked?”
Doyle gave her a sheepish grin as he pushed her door open wider, “You okay this mornin’?”
“Fine but we need somebody who can fight” Cordelia said bluntly.
“I thought I did pretty well considerin’” Doyle responded as he stood in her bedroom doorway, leaning against the wooden frame.
“You did, well, until you got the ever holy crap beaten out of you. We need another vampire with a soul who won’t just up and leave with the first blonde he sees” Cordelia snarked. Yes, she hoped that Angel was happy, yes she hoped that he was enjoying his new humanity and yes she was bitter that he had decided to leave them.
Doyle nodded in agreement, “No problem, I’ll just nip down to the local Soul Vamps R Us store and pick up one”
Cordelia glared, “There’s no need for sarcasm, I was only stating a fact. We need another vampire, preferably one that doesn’t want us for a midnight snack. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find some local gypsies that could curse some poor, unsuspecting vampire right?”
Doyle shook his head hopelessly, “C’mon Princess, get outta that bed, I got an idea”
“Is that what the burning smell is?”
Angel walked through his mansion in Sunnydale, his body still feeling the after effects of helping Buffy patrol last night. He stretched his body, uncurling his muscles and popping his back. It seemed so quiet, there was no little sounds penetrating his ears, there was no scents teasing his nose and there were no small, little movements catching the corner of his eyes.
The ex-vampire stood still half-way to his bathroom contemplating the silence and stillness around him, half expecting Doyle to pop out of the woodwork trying to coax him into going to the sports bar he mentioned. Angel shook his head, Doyle without a doubt liked the ladies that’s for sure. His thoughts moved from the half demon seer to Cordelia, he knew if she was here, the silence would be completely shattered. Noises would be heard, smells would be smelt and movements would catch his eyes.
His mental reverie was interrupted by the sound of people downstairs; they were loud enough for his human senses to pick up. Angel tugged his shirt into place, smoothed down his pants and made his way downstairs, passing memories randomly floating through his brain as he walked past rooms that belonged to Spike and Drusilla.
Buffy stood in the large living room observing the fact that her boyfriend hadn’t had time to tidy up properly or unpack the single suitcase he had brought with him. The burgundy curtains that had been present since Angelus were still decorating the windows, although they were now drawn back. The antique oak furniture still dotted about the room and each piece had a hefty layer of dust on the top.
She glanced up when she heard Angel clear his throat and winced when she saw his black eye and bruised cheekbone. “I brought breakfast,” Buffy explained as she took a few steps towards him, “I figured you hadn’t had time to go shopping for groceries yet”
He nodded in response, “Thanks, I appreciate it” he told her as he took a few steps towards her. Angel watched as Buffy pursed her lips and waited for him to make the first move, he leaned down and placed a chaste kiss on her lips before pulling away and taking the bag from her.
The little kiss brought a dreamy smile to Buffy’s face as she followed him through the living room and into the kitchen. “We can get Willow to perform a healing spell on you if you’re hurt”
He didn’t really want to be reminded of last night’s patrol which ended up as a beating of a lifetime for him. “No, I’m good” Angel replied trying not to let his stiff posture show as he walked to the table to deposit the bag of groceries.
“You don’t look like you’re fine Angel” Buffy pointed out, “If you were fine why are you holding your back?”
“Slept in the wrong position” Angel replied as he took his hand away from his aching lower back. He had received a vicious kick to his coccyx from one of the vampires and now he hurt like hell, but his pride wouldn’t let her know that.
“Oh” Buffy responded as she leaned against the table, an awkward silence filled the air as Angel unpacked the grocery bag and she shifted on her feet. She looked at him, her blue eyes drinking him in, his dark hair ruffled up from sleep, his still pale skin standing out against the bruises spotted around his handsome face and his eyes as dark as ever.
She cleared her throat, “Have you given any thought about what you’re going to do?” she asked lightly as she tried to keep going with their mature plan and take things slowly.
Angel shrugged, “I’m not really sure to be honest, maybe I could have another detective agency here”
“That’s one option” Buffy supplied supportively, “I still can’t believe Cordy made you charge for saving people’s lives”
“We all have to make a living” Angel replied, “It was a good idea”
“Sorry” Buffy told him as she pursed her lips, “Do you have a license or anything?”
He shook his head, “I think that would be an obstacle in opening up an agency here now that I think about it”
“I guess it would be” she looked at her watch and sighed, “I hate to love you and leave you but I have to get to college in half hour”
“Right, you coming here after?” Angel asked hopefully as he looked at her pretty face, “That is if you don’t have anything else planned”
Buffy smiled shyly up at him, relieved that the awkward silence was being broken at last and he was asking if she was coming to see him. “There’s no place I’d rather be. You’re back home and we’re together again, I couldn’t be happier”
Angel gave her a tight smile, “Good, I couldn’t be either. Happier I mean”
“Great, so I’ll see you tonight after college?”
“Sure, I’ll be waiting”
Buffy walked up to him, leaned up and gave him a kiss which quickly deepened before she pulled away. “Tonight” she told him with a meaningful smile and nod.
“Looking forward to it” Angel replied with a lopsided smile.
She waved before skipping out of the kitchen and mansion leaving Angel alone inside as she ventured off into the daylight. Somewhere not off limits to him now that he was human.
Angel ruffled his hair a little more and winced when he caught a bruise close to his hairline and sighed, “This is gonna be tougher than I thought” he said. The flooring felt cold to his feet as he pitter-pattered upstairs to get ready for his first day in the sunshine and his first taste of life after 200 plus years. He would start by calling Doyle and saying a general hi before thinking of something to actually do.
“I beseech access to the knowing ones” Doyle sprinkled the dust at the gateway underneath the post office.
Cordelia watched, unimpressed, as the dust flew around the air, “That dust is a health hazard, I’m choking here” she complained as she looked around in disgust. “If I was a higher being, I would demand a suite at the Ritz or the Hilton at least. Or a luxury condo with built in spa”
The Irishman turned an exasperated gaze to her, “Princess will ya keep it down, you don’t wanna seem disrespectful to the Oracles”
“Oracles Schmoracles” she waved away his warning, “I know a fortune teller who could give us this information without making us splutter on dust”
“The Oracles are a little bit more then fortune tellers” Doyle told her, “It isn’t info we need like ya said, we need another vamp to do the fightin”
“I know, you started off pretty good before you used your head as a way to break your fall” Cordelia agreed bluntly. “I still can’t believe Angel just up and left like that. Buffy blows into town and whoosh! Off he goes all for what’s under her fake designer skirt. I hope she wears clean underwear, I’d hate to think he went all that way only to find musty vamp dust lodged up there”
Doyle shook his head, for a girl who other people saw as being very snobbish and uppity, Cordelia could be crude when she wanted to be. The funny thing about it was she did it so innocently, like she didn’t really understand what she was saying and implying. He turned back to the gateway and threw more dust at it, “I demand to see the Oracles, I beseech access to the knowing ones”
She opened her mouth to make another retort, but her words were stopped as they both got sucked into a white room with a male and female dressed in gold togas standing in front of them.
“Come forth lower beings” the female spoke.
“What do you bring us?” the male asked directly after.
Cordelia slowly turned to look at Doyle expectantly, “You never said anything about any presents so I never brought anything. What are they expecting? Matching His n Hers mugs or something nice to wear? Because those weird dressy things so don’t do anything for their complexion”
Doyle ignored her as he removed an ancient coin from his pocket and tossed to the male, “We need another champion” he told them. “Angel, the vampire with a soul, is human and has gone to live his li…”
“With the blonde Slayer by the name of Buffy Summers” Cordelia interjected, “You might have heard of her actually. Steals the souls of all those who dare sleep with her…”
“Silence” the woman told her, cutting off the rest of Cordelia’s comment that threatened to spill from her lips. The Oracle looked back to Doyle, expecting him to continue.
“As I was sayin” Doyle began again, “We can’t fight your cause without a champion, we need another vampire”
The male glanced at him, “Another vampire with a soul? I am unaware another exists”
“Me either” Cordelia spoke up ruefully, “I can safely say the world would be a much safer place if all vampires had souls. Why can’t you do that?”
“It is not our place to interfere with the way things are” the woman replied, her tone implying she agreed with Cordelia’s words.
“I thought you were all big and powerful. The Powers That Be and all that mojo”
“We are merely guides lower being, we do not grant life or death, we do not have the power to give the power of free will to those who do not deserve it”
“I don’t care if you can or can’t grant whatever to whoever, we need another vampire and we need one now” Cordelia told her determinedly. “If you won’t give us one then I’ll go and curse as many vampires as I want and you can’t stop me”
Doyle covered his face, he knew it was a bad idea to bring her along to meet the Oracles, but when she turned those eyes of hers on him, no seemed to escape his vocabulary. “With Angel human, you don’t have a champion in L.A. We can’t fight on our own”
“All will be revealed in time” the male responded.
“Life comes and life goes. That is how it works,” the female added.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Cordelia asked then gasped, “You mean Angel’s gonna have a heart attack or a stroke and become a phantom champion? If that’s the case then Phantom Dennis could be a champion, the enemy wouldn’t see him and he could whack the bad guy over the head with a big heavy book while Doyle and I roll them over a cliff”
“We shall speak no more” the female told them as she looked at Cordelia.
A few seconds later, Doyle and Cordelia found themselves back under the post office with a thud. She got off the floor, “You couldn’t have transported us a little harder could you?” she yelled at the wall. “Now my bones are rattling and I have dust in my hair and you told us nothing. Give me that coin back, you didn’t deserve it!”
Doyle raised his eyebrows in amusement as he got off the floor himself and dusted his clothes down. “How about some lunch?” he asked, hoping to stop her tirade.
It did. Well, stopped her tirade at the Oracles anyway, Cordelia turned on him, “With what exactly? We didn’t get paid last night, I used up all my savings on a new I-am-boss outfit. I’m pretty sure you don’t have a secret stash hiding under that horrendously lame Hawaiian shirt you seem so fond of. God knows why you wear those things, whatever happened to men wearing suits I’ll never know”
Doyle pushed the door open and hurried to the ringing phone, “Angel Investigations, we home the helpless… No we don’t, we help the homeless… We hope you’re help…”
“Doyle it’s me, Angel” Angel spoke down the phone, stopping his friend’s hopeless greeting.
“Angel man, how’s life been treatin ya for the last day?” Doyle asked as Cordelia shut the door he left open in his hurry to answer the phone.
“Born a barn were you?” Cordelia asked as she pushed past him.
“Princess, it’s Angel on the phone” Doyle told her.
“Wow, we haven’t seen him for almost 24 hours and already he’s calling. Then again if I was in Sunnyhell I’d be doing a lot more than calling after spending 24 hours there” Cordelia replied with disinterest as she plopped down on a chair.
“How’s the little lady?” Doyle asked as he looked at Cordelia’s crossed legs appreciatively hoping he wouldn’t get caught.
“Buffy’s fine, at college at the minute, but she’s fine” Angel replied, “Are you and Cordy doing all right?”
“We’re fine man, don’t sweat it”
Cordelia scrunched up her face and performed a childish imitation of Doyle’s words to Angel earning her a look from Doyle.
“Ya decided what ya gonna do now that yer outta the fightin gig?”
Angel shook his head, frowned and then spoke, “I don’t know, I was thinking of opening up another agency”
“I copyright the name,” Cordelia yelled when Doyle repeated Angel’s words to her.
“Why don’t ya open a sports bar?” Doyle suggested.
“Why don’t you join a perverts anonymous group?” Cordelia shot back. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed you staring at my legs for the past five minutes” she told Doyle knowingly.
“You checking Cordy out?” Angel asked in humour but felt a little concerned about a young woman being alone with an older man. Just look at him and Buffy, not that there were any similarities between Doyle and Cordelia and his relationship with Buffy.
Doyle and Cordelia hadn’t been and were not involved in an intense relationship like he was with Buffy and Angel was pretty sure that they weren’t even in love. He doubted anyone felt anything like what he felt for Buffy.
“I was before I got busted” Doyle confessed with a disappointed sigh.
“Do you have any ideas about what I should do?” Angel asked hopefully because he didn’t have a clue. He had often thought about what he would do if he ever became human but now that he was human, he didn’t know where to start.
“A walk in the sunshine, hang ten off the coast of Malibu, go have a cappuccino at an outdoor café, stay away from vampires…” Doyle left that one hanging sensing Angel glaring at the other end of the phone. “Get a sense of humour”
Cordelia rolled her eyes, got out of the chair and headed into her office, “How is Cordy doing?” she asked sarcastically. “She’s fine man, she’s says hi” she mimicked, “Tell her I miss her company” “Will do Angel, she says have a nice day” as she imitated Doyle and Angel, her voice alternated between a high and a low pitch.
“That woman” Doyle sighed down the phone to Angel, “Not a dull moment with Cordy around I can tell ya”
“I don’t doubt it” Angel replied, “Listen I’m gonna go so I think of something to do. Take care of her okay” it wasn’t a question. “I’ll call soon yeah?”
“Yeah, catch ya later man, an tell that blonde piece ya have to make sure ya get a tan, you’ll be beatin the females off with a stick. I guarantee it”
Angel rolled his eyes at the typical Doyle comment before saying good bye and hanging up his cell phone. What did he want to do?
“How’s Angel?” Willow asked Buffy as they walked across the grass at the college campus.
Buffy gave her friend a wince, “Bruised but good. I still can’t believe he’s human Will, words can’t describe how good it felt when I saw him in the sun” she replied with a smile. “It was like something out of a fairytale, he just…walked right up to me and took me in his arms”
“Uh” Willow squeaked romantically, “I’m really happy for you Buff, I’ve always known you and Angel were meant to be together”
The Slayer nodded happily, “I know we are, none so true as a love between a vampire and a slayer”
“I remember how he used to look at you like you were the centre of his universe and no one else existed. He was the tall, dark handsome stranger and you were the cute, little blonde girl who captured his heart” Willow got caught up in the romance of Buffy and Angel. “I was always a little bit jealous because I don’t think I’ll ever have what you two have”
Buffy beamed happily, “It is pretty intense isn’t it?” she shrugged, “Even still, I can’t help but feel there’s something missing between us” she sighed. “I’m happy he’s back and we’re together again but last night on patrol, he got really beat up Will and I didn’t know how to handle that”
“He isn’t a vampire anymore Buffy, he doesn’t have his super strength anymore” Willow reminded her. “You can’t expect him to be able to fight like he used to now he’s mortal”
“I know, it’s just going to take some getting used to. When we were with each other before he left, we fought side by side and now he can’t fight like that anymore and I’m going to have to get used to it” Buffy responded. “I know he can’t go on patrol now”
“He’d be too much of a liability, I’d be too distracted because I’d be worried about him getting hurt and I can’t take that chance” Buffy replied as she bit her lip.
“We help you with patrol” Willow pointed out meekly, “Are you saying you don’t get distracted when Xander and I are there?”
“It’s different, you and Xander aren’t used to having extra strength then having it taken away. If you’d have seen Angel last night Will, he was fighting as if he were still a vampire and it got him hurt”
“How are you going to tell him he can’t patrol with you anymore?” Willow asked as she held back from saying what she was thinking because she didn’t want Buffy to think she wasn’t on her side.
“That I don’t know” Buffy replied with a grimace.