Posted: Nov 05
Category: Angst, smut
Summary: This is the second in a trilogy. The first is Indisputable. It *is* necessary to read Indisputable for this to make sense. This part explores the ramifications of the incident in Indisputable.
Spoilers: I pretty much go off into my own little world fairly quickly. But if you haven’t ever watched AtS then I guess there are some spoilers so stop if you don’t want to know.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: TIO/GTCA only.
Notes: This fic is from the forum Darkness Within, based at TIO. You won’t find it posted anywhere else (and if it is, It will be without my permission and I WILL be miffed.) DW is a forum strictly for Beige Angel fics (C/A), and some fics posted there explore areas not all readers will find to their taste, thus a membership by request-only forum.
With that clearly in mind, Be warned – this is a story about Angel in his Beige period. If that’s gonna short your circuits don’t read it cause I will pay no medical bills for those who do not heed my warning.
Thanks/Dedication:This story is part of Cali’s birthday present so it’s hers to do with as she pleases.
Feedback:Always appreciated, never discouraged
“…and that’s when the vamp showed up.”
Cordelia’s face scrunched up in confusion at Gunn’s recounting of the fight that followed her vision earlier that evening.
“A vamp? I didn’t see a vampire. The demons had a vampire? How unfair is that?”
“Not their vamp.” The young fighter qualified still seemingly shocked by the day’s developments. “Our vamp. Well, not our vamp, but-”
Whatever was said next was lost on her as the situation became painfully clear.
She’d pushed him out of her mind; refused to think about him since that night over a month ago. It had taken every shred of willpower she possessed to force her thoughts away from his touch, his passion, his promise.
I’ll be back for you.
When he’d said it she’d believed him. She’d stopped working alone at the office after dark. And while she loathed feeling like she was hiding, she hated that edginess that had her jumping out of her seat at every little sound even more. But as each day passed with no contact from the vampire and no end in sight to the evil that was Wolfram & Hart she’d begun to slowly relax.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the black duster hanging in her closet at home she might have convinced herself that it was all a dream; like the vivid, erotic dreams that caused her to wake every morning with a deep, relentless sense of emptiness that nothing could fill except him…
Arrgh! Her mental scream resonated in her head. She didn’t know what the stupid vamp was up to, but if he thought he could barge back into her life and she would just fall in line then he had another think coming. Cordelia Chase didn’t belong to anyone, least of all the Neanderthal ex-champion who’d abandoned her.
As far as she was concerned they didn’t need him; they were doing just fine!
Only they weren’t doing fine; a small voice whispered. Wesley had been shot and still wasn’t well enough to do much about the visions. And Gunn was a strong and resourceful fighter, but he couldn’t do it alone. More and more often he was being forced to rely on help from his old gang which was steadily pushing him back into the place from which she had worked so hard to rescue him.
She was almost crazy with worry about her little family and no matter what it meant for her personally she had to admit that deep down, way far down, a part of her was relieved that Angel had helped out, might continue to help.
Just as long as he didn’t think that he was part of that family again. He was welcome to get back to working at his redemption now that he could apparently fit it in to his busy vengeance schedule, but he didn’t get to be a part of their life, her life ever again.
Gunn’s voice broke into her internal tirade. She knew he’d been concerned about her lately. He and Wes both. She’d tried to act normal, but between learning she was dying and the unbelievably mind-blowing night with Angel she’d been hard pressed just to make it through each day, much less pretend that everything was hunky-dory.
“Sorry. It just took me by surprise is all. I didn’t think he’d – I just thought – It’s unexpected, you know?”
And Gunn did know. Although he was relatively new to Angel Investigation the bond he’d formed with both Wesley and Cordelia was stronger than anything he’d felt since his sister’s death. He knew how much the vampire’s desertion had cost them; he saw proof of it every day. Though both of them presented themselves to the world as strong and in control, Cordelia having far greater success at that endeavor than Wesley, he knew that the image they struggle so hard to maintain hid vulnerabilities and insecurities that stemmed from years of disregard and marginalization by those around them.
Because of this pattern of rejection they were careful who they gave their loyalty, their trust. But they’d heaped both of those things on the vampire. And no matter what kind of curse there was, what kind of soul he had, Gunn knew that he was still a demon and shouldn’t be trusted to that extent.
And yet Gunn understood why they had. It wasn’t just that Angel was a champion; it wasn’t just that he protected them, saved them. No, when they spoke about what happened, which they rarely did, he could clearly read between the lines. They trusted Angel not just because they cared for him so deeply, but because they’d thought it was safe; they’d thought not that he wouldn’t leave them, but that he couldn’tleave them.
Cordelia, and to a lesser extent Wesley, had believed that they were intrinsic to Angel’s redemption. After all, he could never complete his mission without the guidance of the visions, and Wesley’s knowledge of all things demon was often the deciding factor in the success or failure of those undertakings. And so they convinced themselves that they were indispensable. That it wasn’t possible for Angel to leave them and still travel his path of atonement.
Of course they’d never considered the idea that Angel would choose to leave that path. It never occurred to them that he would turn his back on his redemption, his chance to regain his humanity. And they still often seem to loose themselves in a fog of shock at the idea that he had done it. It was that shock he saw in Cordelia right now.
“I know, girl. I was as surprised as anyone to see him, much less helping us. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this…So, how do we feel about this?”
Cordelia smiled wanly at the sincere young man before here. Although he hadn’t been overly close to Angel at the time of their firing he’d understood and respected both her pain and Wesley’s. And though he’d urged them to let their former boss go, he never belittled or made light of their feelings. He’d been a true friend and he was being one now by letting her take the lead in this new development. Heaving a weary sigh she faced the question head on.
“Frankly, right now I’ll take any help that we can get. But he’s not our friend, Gunn. He gave up all rights to that when he threw us out of his life and left us alone to fight the visions. Who knows if this was even about us tonight? For all we know this had something to do with Wolfram & Hart and it just so happened that your paths crossed. Whatever. Even if he’s decided that he can spare some time for his redemption, well whoop-dee-do. How long will it be before something more important, and by that I mean something blonde, comes along and then we’re history again?”
“No; we’ll take what help we can get, but we won’t depend on him again. We can’t.”
Gunn could see the determination in her eyes and he was glad. His friends had been hurt enough. He, like Cordelia, was secretly glad for the vampire’s help, knowing that anything that kept them all alive a little longer was definitely of the good, but that didn’t mean he had any goodwill for the vampire and his second-rate soul.
“So, did you tell Wes?”
Ever since the shooting Cordelia had been almost insanely protective of the Englishman. It wasn’t just his physical health she closely guarded, but also his mental well-being, often editing information before it reached him believing that absolute calm, well as calm as it could get for them, was the key to his recovery.
“Nah, not yet. But you gotta stop with the mama bear routine soon. You worry too much, Barbie; it’s gonna give you wrinkles.”
Gunn laughed at the scowl that transformed Cordelia’s face from breathtaking to adorable in an instant. Playfully he reached over and nudged her shoulder.
“That look really will give you wrinkles.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes at her friend’s teasing grin.
“Ha ha. You know, sometimes you’re really funny. Any idea if it’s gonna be one of those times soon?”
Gunn chuckled as he rose from his chair, ready to end another day of fighting evil.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist. I’m gonna stop by Wes’ on my way home. I’ll let you tell him about the fair-weather vamp, but it’s got to be tomorrow.”
He could see the wheels turning in Cordelia’s head. In fact if he listened hard enough he was sure that he could hear them. Wanting to curb those thoughts before they started he clarified himself.
“I’m serious, Cordelia. Tomorrow morning, well let’s not get crazy, we’ll make it tomorrow afternoon, you need to get your cute behind in here and put Wesley in the loop. Promise me.”
The mutinous look on Cordelia’s face told Gunn he’d been right to be more specific. Now he just needed her promise and he could head out.
“Hmmph. Fine, but if Wesley has a relapse he won’t be the only one in the hospital.”
Gunn fought the urge to gulp at the tone of her voice. He wasn’t sure how one former cheerleader could be that scary, but she more than managed it. He often thought that they should send her to face the demons, sure that even the most evil of beings would flee in terror at her glare of death.
“Alright then. I’m outta here. Want me to drop you home?”
Cordelia nibbled on her lip, as she weighed her options. All this talk about Angel was bringing back her anxieties and she really didn’t want to be there alone. On the other hand, she still had a little paperwork to do so she could deposit one of their rare checks and every moment that Gunn stayed there he wasn’t with Wesley. And really, that decided it. Although her mind understood that Wesley was well on the road to recovery, her heart couldn’t be convinced, the trauma of nearly loosing him hadn’t faded. Disregarding her head and listening to her heart she turned to Gunn.
“No, you go on. I only have a little more to do so I’ll be right behind you.”
“You sure?” Gunn questioned uncertainly. Both he and Wes had noticed her nervousness lately, both in and out of the office. She’d been skittish and he wasn’t all that sure about leaving her alone.
Cordelia smiled brightly, wanting to send Gunn on his way but understanding his need for reassurance.
“Have I ever been unsure about anything?”
Gunn laughed at the delicate brow that arched as if taking offensive to the very thought.
“Nah, you were probably born sure.”
“Damn right!” Cordelia replied smugly. “Now get out of her so I can get back to work. At least one of us should earn our keep around here.”
“That’s just not right.” Gunn shook his head in mock hurt but smiled to see Cordelia’s good humor. A happy Cordelia made for a happy everyone else in the vicinity. So, cheerful, he found himself whistling as he made his way out the door to his truck.