Closing the door to the room at the Hyperion she sometimes used for quick naps and showers when a case became never-ending, Cordelia let out a breath of loud air. She’d been doing the calm, stoic, ‘yes it will be all right by morning’ routine for Laura – when inwardly she was anything but calm and stoic.
She felt riled up and ready to go. That’s how she felt, safe and sound, and more awake than she had in ages – and she was also starting to panic. It’d been hours, hours… the sun would be rising any hour now and there had been no phone call from Angel. Gunn and Wesley had long since gone home, when they’d foolishly bought her reassuring smile that she and Laura would be perfectly fine.
Didn’t they understand she was worried about Angel and only acting brave for the ‘helpless’ in their midst. Men had no clue, Cordelia reminded herself as she walked down to the lobby and started to pace the floor.
Her heels clacked, a loud racket that she pretended were calming her worried nerves. Who knew how old or good of a fighter this vampire was – or crazy. The crazier they were they harder they were to stake, she’d seen it with her own eyes more than once. And this guy was smart, using a real job to lure women into his traps, the man was probably some player before he was turned. Cordelia got a small thrill at the idea it was some vampire female who’d used his own confidence against him to kill him — though why she’d had to turn him and send him loose on poor women to not only play but kill Cordelia didn’t know. Damn, she’d love to stake that vampire bitch.
Where was Angel?
Cordelia kept pacing, her worry growing with each turn she made in the lobby and her mind whirring about all the realizations she’d come too the past couple of days because of the case. Or maybe it just because she was ready? She didn’t know. All she knew that it was time to…
The door opened stopping her train of thought, and she spun toward the noise pouncing on Angel. Her hands on his coat, helping him pull it off his body and noticing quickly the blood and the wince of his jaw.
“Is he dust?”
“How bad is it?”
“It’s deep,” Angel said, “but it’s not bad, I can take care of…”
Cordelia started tugging up his shirt to find where the hole in his torso was this time and screamed when she found it, shrilly with pure terror. He covered her mouth with his hand.
“You’ll wake up Laura, she is asleep right?”
Cordelia nodded and arched an eyebrow at him glaring at him.
He lowered his hand and she started hitting him in the stomach.
“hey, stabbed here!”
“Two millimeters from your heart!”
“Cordy, it’s not that close.”
“Not that close my ass!” Cordelia shouted back, tugging at his shirt and using her eyes to tell him to lift his arms. He did with another wince and she pulled it off completely. “Splinter!” she shouted grabbing a big splinter out of his chest and waving it in his face. “You could have been dust. Is the asshole dust?”
“Was it painful?”
“Good. Go upstairs and shower. I’ll be right up with blood.” Cordelia hit his arm hard one more time before he got out of her reach. “You could have died,” she yelled again.
She blew air through her nose and stalked off to the kitchen. The panic she had felt earlier becoming stronger instead of lessening as she made her way to the kitchen. He could have died, the only thought in her head as she pulled out a mug, blood and made it reflexively from years of practice. Died. Died. And he wouldn’t know, or have seen… he could have died, that fucking dead bastard. Muttering, fucking dead bastard under her breath, she went to her desk with the mug, dug out the first aid kit and made her way upstairs.
“Fucking dead bastard.” She announced walking into his room.
“I heard you all the way up the stairs, Cordy. And it wasn’t like I asked him to almost kill me.”
“Right, because you are mister cautious in a fight Angel. I’ve seen you, you get all swaggery, I can never lose. And you always end up with big gapping holes. You need to me more careful,”
“Cordy,” Angel muttered taking the mug, as she grabbed the towel he had in his hands, “not dressed yet.”
“I don’t care. I don’t care… you need to drink and be patched up. You could be in a diaper right now or a dress and I’d make you sit and put up with it. And you like being nude. Wesley told me about finding you in bed naked one night. I think you traumatized him for life – or made him feel inadequate. Never could tell for sure,” Cordelia lectured, not listening to a word that came out of her mouth as she ranted. “Sit!”
“Is that like good dog?”
“And people put down your intellect.”
He winced as she started to touch his chest, looking for more splinters of wood. “God, Angel you could’ve died.”
“Stop saying that like it wasn’t a close call!”
“Why are you so panicked.”
“I am not so panicked!” Cordelia lied, then she took a deep breath and grabbed the peroxide to clean out the stake sized hole in his chest. “I was worried. Worried and then there are other issues…”
“I told Laura we’d help her get back home. She needs money. I thought maybe she could dust or something, you know help me make this place habitable again. You let it go to hell during my sabbatical.”
“That’s what we are calling your insanity from now on. My sabbatical. You only fired Wesley and Gunn – I’ll go to my grave denying that Angel.”
Angel laughed and then winced again as she pressed into his wound, applying the gauze.
“This is so nasty. I swear I still almost barf and pass out every time still.”
“I remember you saying that those first weeks working for me.”
“I remember you saving my life and I never knew if I could pay you back.”
“Cordy, you don’t owe me anything.”
Cordelia captured his gaze with hers, she felt her breath catch at the look in his dark eyes and forced herself not to avert her eyes. She’d decided to give him another chance, and she was now admitting she’d been giving 100% and was going to from now on. “It’s not really that…it’s that Laura. I see me in her.”
“I do too,” Angel whispered.
Cordelia smiled. “I was really so lost, Angel.”
“I was too,” he admitted to her and Cordelia smiled because she heard no hesitation in his voice and it meant so much. That he could do that, but especially with her.
“You saved me, not just from a vampire, or having no money. You gave me a place I could always go to. A friend, and so much more,” she breathed in deeply and bit her tongue. She wasn’t going to cry, this was a happy thing she was trying to say. If a bit mushy. “And to be a bit too much Wesley, and be a sentimental moron…I really love you know and I haven’t said this yet, and well I think I should. I forgive you for your bout of insanity during my sabbatical.”
She covered his mouth. “Don’t you dare, dumbass. God, don’t be dork. I can too forgive you. Now I’m not going to forget, so don’t get your fangs in a knot. I know your vampire, and believe me I know you have mental issues. But I love you and therefore you are forgiven. And that is final, Angel.”
Cordelia finished and moved around him onto the bed, her hands running down his back, relief finally flooding her when she saw no wound there but her heart stopped for the second time that night. The stake had been so close. “God, Angel, you almost died,” she whispered again moving to sit next to him on the bed. This time he didn’t say anything stupid, just slung an arm around her shoulders and pulled her into him.
Forgiveness but no forgetting, or judging. Angel held a breath he didn’t need because he wanted to remember this moment. Cordelia was against him, pliant, relaxed, relieved he wasn’t dust and she’d forgiven him? The barrier was down, because of memories. The case had effected her too, he wasn’t quite sure he could believe his luck, he didn’t deserve it. He knew that much. Cordelia had remembered that first case too because of Laura, while it’d been a dead body and then Laura that had caused him to re-examine the beginning of their friendship. If not their whole relationship.
He’d known her so long, as long as Buffy and he’d never have guessed having her saying one sentence to him would be enough to make his day. Or year.
“I’ll be more careful,” he whispered.
“Better be,” she grumbled.
He smiled. She cared if she died, she still cared and she’d said so much tonight. She’d made his blood like she used to all the time, he wondered if she even knew she hadn’t since he’d come back from his breakdown. He closed his eyes. “Doyle,” he said but trailed off not sure what to say next, wanting to make sure he said the right things.
“Doyle?” Cordelia repeated, sitting up and touching his face, making her look at her. “What about him?”
“Gave me you,” Angel whispered.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Right, he put a bow on me and everything.”
“Listen,” he said, his voice edgier than he’d meant it to be.
Her eyes widened, but she stayed quiet. A miracle, Angel realized and proof she’d forgiven him and it wasn’t just words. “He came to me and told me he was a messenger for the Powers. He gave me Tina’s name, but I couldn’t save her. But you…you were at her party and Winters he picked you out of a million other girls at that party, Cordelia. It was you. I needed you and that vision was about you. He said after I hired you that you’d be a humanizing influence. He was always muttering about that… and you were. You are. I need you. It was always about you. Him being sent to me, the vision, Winters, it was all about you…”
He trailed off his mouth going dry as Cordelia’s cheeks blushed, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever seen her blush before, damn she was beautiful and he was way too naked to be thinking of her that way. “And I don’t deserve you.”
Cordelia’s eyes rolled. “First, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that much at one time before. Congratulations. Second. Wow. I think I’m flustered and third, you better finish your blood and get some rest. I need to make some phone calls, see what the cheapest airfare to Peacock, Utah is.” Cordelia smiled and then lunged forward hugging him fiercely.
And Angel gripped onto her for life, just in case she decided to put up a wall, but she didn’t.