Title: Possession Is Nine Tenths
Category: Some action and little bit of language
Summary: This is in response to Cali’s S2 challenge and is AU – I wanted to add a little change too in the fact that Angel goes back as Boss!!
Spoilers: Set S2 after Epiphany [AU- no pylea!]
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Please ask
Notes: Challenge: Bottom of page.
Feedback: Yes, Gimme
Angel watched them through the glass of the ‘new’ offices, they were discussing what had happened and he knew he figured in the conversation. His best guess was Wesley was kinda happy about him turning over another ‘new leaf’, Gunn was suspicious and Cordy – well Cordy would be … he didn’t know and that was the worst part because her reaction was the most important.
Why that was, was something he didn’t want to dwell on, all he knew was that when she’d brushed him off at the house, it had cut him deeply. Maybe it was almost understandable, she’d been with him the longest and shared more with him than either Wesley or Gunn, but that didn’t explain the need he felt inside. He wasn’t used to waiting for things and that was one of his biggest flaws; impatience – knowing that didn’t stop it though, he wanted her back and he wanted her now!
Suddenly he couldn’t wait any longer and he got out of the car and crossed the street, pushing open the glass door but then stilling, looking at them look at him. He saw them as if in slow motion, stop talking and face him. Wesley was slightly embarrassed, Gunn arrogant and Cordy – dammit she looked – cold. Something seized inside his chest and he looked down and away from her face as he closed the door behind him.
“Angel, we were just … erm that is to say”, Wesley faltered at the look of hope on Angel’s face, his own eyes flickered and he wished for the hundredth time that he wasn’t spokesperson for the group. He cleared his throat and looked back at the other two.
“We haven’t yet decided if were ready to come back and work for you”, he finished, looking back at the vampire and steeling himself for whatever the reaction would be.
“I understand”, replied Angel quietly, he looked at Cordelia standing behind Wes and just to the side, she looked back at him, her face serene but her eyes were anything but, hot fire shot out of them.
He looked back at Wesley, “If you change your mind, you know were to find me”, he turned to leave and his hand had barely touched the handle of the door, when he heard Wesley ask in a surprised and none too happy voice, “That’s it, nothing else to say”?
He turned back, his expression a mixture of contriteness and calm composure, “What else can I say, I made terrible mistakes and lost your trust so until that changes or you’re willing to give it another shot, there’s little I can say”
Wesley opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Cordelia as she yelped in pain, hands clutching her head, falling towards the floor. Cordy had been watching the two men, well – one man and one vampire; mentally cheering herself and the other two for not caving into Angel as soon as he deigned to show his face at their door.
But then the crushing pain of the vision obliterated all other thought and she knew she was going to be covered in bruises from a fall she couldn’t save herself from. That was the last thing she thought before the images crowded inside, and the feelings, pain and suffering and fear all suffocated her as they took over, until at last it receded and she came back to herself.
“Why am I not on the floor”? She asked with a quizzical look on her strained, pale and yet still beautiful face, then she felt the hands that were supporting her at her waist; they moved to her shoulders once she was steadier and she didn’t need to look to see it was him.
Despite herself, she couldn’t help but think back to a time when that was normal or even expected that he would always save her from hurt, but not now she resolved and moved forward so that his hands fell away from her stiffened body.
Angel felt her stiffen in his hands and was suffused with an almost irresistible urge to tighten his hands and haul her back and make her acknowledge him, even if only to shout, yell or turn round and hit him – anything but the freezing effect of her tight face and body. Instead he let her go; his expression carefully controlled so as not to give his thoughts away.
“There’s a bunch of nasty demony things about to start snacking on some drunken teens in a park, I think it’s the one around the corner from the ‘Sunshine Play center’ not far from my apartment”, she looked at Wesley the whole time but had to concentrate hard not to feel Angel behind her, all along her back.
Gunn stepped forward, “Let’s get going then”, he brushed past Angel on his way towards the door.
“Need any help”? Asked Angel, Wesley and Gunn looked back at him and then at each other.
“We never say no to help,” replied Wesley carefully – avoiding Cordelia’s eyes when they immediately shot sparks towards him.
“Fine you can drive”, Said Cordelia to Angel, her frosty expression still in place, daring him to object to the authoritive tone in her voice. He didn’t, just nodded and gestured to the door, “I have weapons in the trunk, if you want to use them”.
“We know that dumbass, it’s only been what – 3 months since we used to work for you”, this time she didn’t give him a chance to respond but just sailed out the door with her head high.
Angel watched her, chanting an internal refrain about ‘practicing patience’ and not giving in to the desire to *really* give her something to get snooty about. Check that thought, he shook his head and followed them out, closing the door behind him.
Later that night he sat in his favorite chair, fingers folded over his taut stomach as he contemplated the past few days and especially the last night. He sighed using un-needed breath but vaguely comforted by the action.
The fight had been over fairly quickly but vicious for all it’s speed and Cordelia – even now his belly twisted in fear, shit when the hell had she become so damned reckless, he’d had to pick her up and move her out of the way when she’d nearly got herself gutted by a steel pole that had been broken off a re-enforced steel fence by one of the demons fighting for it’s life. Not that she’d appreciated that, afterwards she’d yelled at him to ‘keep your hands to yourself, thank you’.
His brows raised again, identical to his reaction at the time, if she thought that just because he had some serious amends to make that he would let her put herself in danger – well she had another think coming! Especially now Wesley and Gunn had agreed to come back, Cordy had just stood there and glowered but he took her silence for grudging agreement too.
He was only just starting to make headway in getting back into their lives, despite her objections, and he was double damned if he was going to lose all chance to win her back because she was too pigheaded to let him protect her like he was supposed to. He might be late back to the party but hell; he was going to make sure they all stayed alive including his bossy, opinionated but utterly gorgeous and impossibly provocative seer.
He frowned, his? – Hell when had he started thinking of her as his? He cast his mind back and relaxed – thinking about it, he always had, at least as long as she’d worked for him in LA. He ignored the fact that while that was true – Cordy’s reaction to him tonight had somehow made it more personal than that, much more.
It was late and she should be in bed, but her restless mind wouldn’t let her sleep and it was all Angel’s fault. Him and his damned ability to just get forgiven for everything – some guys were like that, you felt an almost irresistible need to just take them back time after time no matter what.
“Well not me, no way Buster are you getting off so easy”, irritated that her thoughts had circled back to him she slapped the magazine she’d been pretending to read back on the table beside the couch and stood up to pace.
“We were doing OK and sure we might have died tonight if not for him – but that was the first time … well OK there have been hairy moments but still I’m sure we could have made it out OK on our own”
Disgusted that she couldn’t convince even herself she flopped back down on the couch and watched as the TV suddenly came on, Dennis’s attempt to distract her, “Thanks Dennis but I’m not in the mood for watching anything actiony – too close to home ya’ know”, so the TV switched off again.
“I will not let him hurt me again – from now on we just work together, no more being friends or trying to pull him out of his shell – he can rot in there for all I care”, she rubbed at suddenly stinging eyes.
“So I’m back working for psycho vamp – well that’s just great”, she crossed her arms tightly over her chest and stared out with hot eyes at nothing, “He better not think he can tell me what to do like before – I’m not the same person as last time and he’s just gonna have to get used to it”
All the same she wasn’t looking forward to pitting her will against his; she hated doing stuff where she wasn’t guaranteed to come out on top. She had a mental image of herself on top of him, pinning him down by those shoulders….
She sprang back up, eyes wide and mouth open in shock at the direction her thoughts had taken her, “WHOAH, what the hell was that – Ewwww that’s gross”.
She flung her feet off the couch after having tucked them under herself and stomped to the bathroom to clean her teeth again, hoping the ritual would trick her mind into feeling tired, but doubting it would. “Dammit Angel – my life is a mess and it’s all you’re fault”.
ANGEL TWO DAYS LATER
“Were not friends anymore, we just work together”
Those words from the day before were drilled into his head and the worst part about it was that she hadn’t actually been trying to hurt him; she’d meant every word and god it hurt!
He hadn’t been able to reply past the knot in his throat but had ducked away and Wesley, sensing that had jumped in and distracted everybody, for which Angel had been grateful. Then the debacle with Cordy’s ex-best friend Harmony had happened further distracting everyone but him, but nothing took the sting away not even the grandiose scheme of an ex-human life coach turned vampire.
She brushed him off or closed him down every time he tried to talk to her about anything not strictly work related and even then she kept is short and to the point, she was driving him crazy. Then there was that sticky and awkward moment when she’d finally opened up enough to tell him some of the reasons for her anger.
Clothes and Darla, dammit he’d forgotten about the clothes and winced at the memory and then there was Darla – If she ever found about him doing the horizontal mambo with Darla before he came to his senses, damn he didn’t want to even think about what her reaction would be.
“How the hell am I going to get past her anger and make it better?”, according to Wesley the only thing was time, Angel had hurt Cordelia and she no longer trusted him – not exactly earth shattering news to the vampire, he knew that but still he needed Wesley on his side so he’d just nodded and waited, hoping the presents he’d brought her would make her soften.
There was yell from the next room and Angel stiffened, she’d found them he squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and crossed his fingers and hoped that he’d done the right thing – he’d deliberated for half the night before finally giving in to the impulse and bullying a shopkeeper he knew into opening his store in the middle of the night.
The door came open and Cordelia walked in with clothes draped over her arms, her face was alight with glee and she looked quizzically at Wesley who looked with utter astonishment at the clothes arrayed in the next room, Cordy’s eyes narrowed at his obvious shock and she swung to face Angel.
He could tell the second the truth sank in, the light went out from her face and she looked uncomfortable for a moment before smiling at him with careful and distant politeness. “Did you buy these”, she lifted her arm to indicate the colorful items.
The sinking feeling had already started in his belly so he just nodded and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his black jeans, rocking back on his heels in an awkward attempt to look casual when he said “Yeah, there to you know….”, he swallowed when her eyes narrowed on him with unmistakable anger, “replace the stuff I gave away”.
“You didn’t give away this much of my stuff so what did you do, throw in someone else’s stuff too and get confused”? She asked him with arched brows.
A stab of irritation at her tone came through the crushing disappointment and he narrowed his own eyes at her, dark brown clashed with Hazel, “No I guess I just forgot”, he said shortly. “If you don’t like them put some aside and I’ll take them back”.
She raised her chin, “Oh I like them” she told him, “You have good taste for someone who’s recently come off a psycho trip”, the sarcasm in that single sentence could have stripped paint.
Angel walked around the desk and past Wesley, leaving the room before he gave in to the urge to throttle her.
It was a hot day and Cordy had gotten sick and tired of sitting back at the office – with nothing to do but surf the net and flip through magazines all day. So she told Wes she was going out and simply left.
It has nothing to do with Angel being due to rise – she told herself; confident she was convincing herself at least, maybe not Wes though, who had given her a resigned and yet understanding look before she’d managed to slip away.
She wandered through the mall wishing she could just go home but knowing that would be the first place Angel tried to get hold of her – so she didn’t.
She came upon a shop she loved and the sign proclaiming ‘sale’ would normally have had her salivating at the prospect of some bargains, but nothing caught her interest as she browsed, totally out of character for ‘shop-aholic’ girl.
She was wandering down the aisle when she heard herself say “Angel’s gonna hit the roof” – Whoa, were the hell did that come from?
“Huh I sooo don’t give a crap” she told herself fiercely, snatching a piece of lingerie off a rail and looking at the tag but not really taking it in and beside it was purple, Oh gross not my color.
Yeah but he’s you’re boss again.
“So what – what’s he gonna do fire me again”! Her eyes narrowed at the thought, so tall dark and broody’s gonna have a fit, because she took off early – well screw him and his overbearing, arrogant….
“Can I help you”? Asked a friendly voice, causing Cordy to blink and focus on the Sales Assistant that was smiling at her cautiously and pointing at the underwear she was crushing in her hands.
He paced the lobby, boots ringing on the tiles and pierced Wesley with another look from under angrily lowered brows, “Did you at least ask her where she was going” he was all but snarling and didn’t give a rat’s ass!
“No” replied Wesley calmly, only briefly looking up from the book her was using as a reference. “It didn’t come up”.
Angel had to bite his lip to prevent the hot words of rebuke that were poised on the tip of his tongue.
He stiffly made his way to the basement door and slammed it shut behind him, on the other side he clenched his fists and raising his face upwards gave a silent growl of frustrated rage.
God, how he hated having to pretend to be all ‘stable and non-emotional’ guy to appease the others. Most of the time he understood why and didn’t resent it – after all it was deserved with all the crap that had happened during the whole ‘beige’ period and Darla insanity.
He was making progress with both Wesley and Gunn – but getting nowhere fast with Cordelia; damn her unforgiving hide – which more and more these days he felt an urge to take a strip off. Infuriating wench!
He felt pumped up and knew that he would end up giving Wes the willies if he stayed up there – so he stripped off his shirt and tossing it over the railing, headed for the punching bag to work off some of his tension.
Cordy was sitting comfortably on the couch, a bag of potato chips next to her feet – tucked up under her bottom in her favorite slouching position, watching a golden oldie on the TV – Who doesn’t love good old Frank in Casablanca.
The lamp lit her perfectly and he could see her through the window from the roof of the building opposite; she casually flicked her hair back and picked up the bag of chips to start munching – intent on the screen and totally unaware she was being watching.
Narrowed dark eyes flickered over her and surveyed the apartment, even from this distance and knowing it was hopeless he sniffed the breeze, helpless to stop from checking it out. From what he could tell – she was alone. He walked away with one final unknowingly, longing look at her.
Cordy’s neck tingled and she rubbed it absently, then something made her look up and stare out of the window behind her – nothing, at least nothing she could see!
She shook her head to free the mental cobwebs and stood up to stretch and meander her way for a nice hot soak in the tub.
THE HYPERION HOTEL – NEXT DAY (AM)
“Angel, you’re up early” Said Wesley in a surprised tone, looking blankly at the dark haired vampire as he strode down the stairs, and heading for the office.
“Yeah” replied Angel uninformatively; disappearing through the wooden frame, dark eyes searching for her and not finding her. He spun around and with hands on hips – glared at the ex-watcher.
“Where the hell is she now”? He demanded, not waiting for a response before stalking around the lobby and checking all of the obvious places, before coming back to stand in front of the Englishman.
“Erm – she mentioned something about a hair appointment” Said Wesley, clearing his throat when the vampire looked like he was about ready to explode.
Angel raised both hands in a gesture of frustrated disbelief, ” A hair appointment”? He tried to keep his voice down but could hear the edge in it himself.
“Yes – exactly” replied Wesley raising his brows and watching as Angel’s narrowed too – before he turned away, hiding his anger and frustration.
“Angel”, Wesley followed him into the office, “We need to talk”
“Not now, Wesley” replied Angel doing his damndest to look busy – too busy for enlightening ‘chats’ on his behavior around Cordelia.
Just then both men heard the clickety clack of high heels on the tiles of the lobby and before Wesley could even blink, Angel was out the door.
Cordelia almost skidded to a halt when she found herself confronted with a broad, black covered chest, appearing like a solid wall in front of her startled face – Angel.
“Angel, what are you doing up”? It was the first thing that sprang to her lips – damn now he knew that she’d skipped out when he was ‘supposed’ to be asleep.
“Never mind that”, he crossed his arms and took a deep breath, trying to loosen the tension her presence always seemed to cause him – “What the hell do you think you’re doing skipping work twice for personal stuff”?
CRAP! “I think I’ve burnt the midnight oil enough in the past to deserve a break when we’re quiet don’t you?” she snapped back, pushing past him to drop her bag on the counter and walk around it to her desk, trying to put some distance between her and him.
She didn’t know he’d followed her until he leaned down, arms braced on the desk to glare down at her, “I’ll be the judge of that – ‘Boss’ remember”?
“As if I could forget that joyous fact – Boss“; sarcasm, deadly sharp dripped from every syllable.
She stood up and faced him, her arms crossed in an identical posture to his and ignoring the fluttering on her belly that she attributed to nerves.
Wesley stood in the doorway of Angel’s office and watched the pair with concern written on his face – wishing he could disappear and not have to witness the pure electrical charge that seemed to arc between seer and vampire again.
It used to be me and Cordelia that fought like cat and dog, but now – well call me insane but I wish that hadn’t changed. He didn’t like this new ‘dynamic’ between Cordelia and Angel – it seemed a little too hot for his piece of mind.
“Don’t you think we should be …” Wesley didn’t get to finish the sentence, an attempt to distract them – before both turned on him.
“Shut up, Wesley” their voices and eyes fierce and full of resentment at the interruption of their feud.
“Well excuse me for interrupting your ‘bonding'” Wesley snapped back angrily and pointing towards the door, “but we have a visitor”
Both Angel and Cordelia had the grace to blush when they saw the timid looking man standing at the top of the stairs and looking down at them with a slightly shocked expression.
“Hi David, how are you”? Asked Cordelia with false cheer, Angel just looked at him and stuffed his hands in his pockets trying not to look embarrassed at being caught having a ‘spat’ with one of his employees.
“What an Asshole”, OK she was repeating herself for about the millionth time, but she was entitled. “Is there any woman out there as unlucky as me – visions from hell, visions of hell, the boss from hell – I mean c’mon, gimme a frickin’ break here” she said appealing to on ‘high’ with rolling eyes.
A quick check of her watch had her cursing under her breath and trying to walk faster in the damn shoes she was wearing – she loved them and all, but damn they we’re not suited to mad dashes over distances greater than twenty foot.
That was Angel’s fault too, she could hardly believe it when he’d actually refused to let her leave early; well OK, at first but then all of a sudden he’d caved in – all charm and smiles, Suspicious much?
Only not early enough and she was still going to be late. Dammit – why had he waited to almost the last minute before deciding she could leave? “Dumbass”.
Luckily the bored security guard at the desk had just told her to go on up and she was finally here, she knocked at the door and took a deep cleansing breath; smiling hard because she’d read somewhere it released endorphins into your blood and made you ‘feel’ happier and – boy! Could she do with some of those right now.
The door was opened by a tall – really big man, obviously a bodyguard and she smiled and introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Cordelia Chase and I’m here to see Mr Bottomson” – ack what a name but beggars couldn’t be choosers and she so needed her acting career to take off right now.
The guard gave her a once over and then smirked at her – knowingly? Huh, what was his problem? “Sure right this way Cordelia” He said smarmily; so incongruous with the way he looked.
She followed his broad black-jacketed back into the apartment and looked around with little interest; trying not to tug at her cropped slinky top, which didn’t quite meet her low-slung brown velvet hipsters. For some reason in this situation she hated the fact that her midriff was bare.
“Ms Chaste, welcome to my home” said an effusive voice, she turned around and frowned at him, “It’s Chase, but thanks”. She took the proffered hand and inspected the ‘industry’ contact that her reluctant agent had arranged for her to meet with.
He was a walking cliché, too tanned, too old, going to paunch with designer gear to cover it up and lots of gold bracelets – Ewwww!
“Apologies, apologies – come in and get comfortable, I’ve just uncorked the wine”. He smiled at her – well not her face just her breasts. “Thank you Donald you may leave now and do make sure you shut the door behind you”.
“Sure Mr Bottomson” He sounded disappointed and cast the now seated Cordelia a wistful look, which unsurprisingly – raised her discomfort level by several notches.
“You understand why I’m here don’t you”? Asked Cordelia, deciding to go straight for the kill – and then get the heck out of dodge.
“Why certainly I do sweetness, you’re yet another wannabe starlet and you want me to pull some favors and get you in the door, am I right”?
Put like that it sounded as sleazy as hell – crap!
“That would be nice – but what do you expect in return for you’re pulling favors”? Asked Cordelia; a sinking feeling pulling at her insides – as if they were weighted with lead or something.
“You look like a smart girl Cordelia so I’ll cut to the chase” – he smirked at his own totally intended pun, “Take off your clothes and we’ll work it out”
Cordelia only just refrained from rolling her eyes; stopped mainly by the fact that she didn’t dare take her eyes off the glistening orbs of the slime ball in front of her. “Like that’s ever gonna happen”.
“I beg your pardon” the slime balls eyes narrowed and lips pursed at her sarcastically deadpan response, uttered with total calm assurance.
“So you should; you are nothing but a dirty sleazy old man and if you try and lay a finger on me – I’ll snap it off and feed it to my dog” or vampire – hah, at least I have one of those!
“I don’t like being teased Ms Case, or having my valuable time wasted – I was told you were desperate”.
Cordelia cut in with a cold tone, “That maybe so – but there’s desperate and then there’s desperate, so you can kiss my a-” She didn’t get to finish before a glass of wine was thrown into her face, she gasped and blinked.
Before she could recover her eyesight, hard hands grabbed her by her shoulders, ripping the thin fabric of her top with cruel twists. She yelped loudly and pulled herself flatter, trying to evade his hands and raising her knees to stop him from pressing his body to hers, but he was so damn heavy that all he had to do was lever in and she was being crushed into the couch cushions.
Before she could scream or sob in fear and anger – she heard a strangled ‘yowdle’ coming from her attacker and looked jerkily upwards as the weight was removed from her in a sudden burst of movement – in a daze she watched as the fat bastard went flying into a wall; landing with a literal splat in a comical splayed pose – before dropping to the floor, face scraping the wall and leaving a trail of blood.
Jerkily she turned her head and stared into furious dark eyes – she looked down his body to the hand that was still clutching the bodyguard by the scruff of his neck. Angel dropped the half strangled man to jerk off his coat and then started to unbutton his shirt.
Cordelia watched in a daze, uncomprehending but too overwhelmed by the past half hour to wonder why he would do that. The question was soon answered when he handed the garment over to her.
“Here, put this on” he told her gruffly, the expression on his face showed he was furious with her – but he wasn’t going to unleash it on her until she was safe and in a better frame of mind to receive it.
Recap of the details: S2 after Epiphany. Don’t want the clothes bribe working. There is major subtext and sexual tension through most of it, where Angel is slowly starting to question his reactions to anything to do with Cordy and how he becomes more aware of her as time goes by. Cordy is still angry and wary of him. Angel alternates between trying to appease her and getting pissed off with her. Gradually the possessiveness/jealousy cant be ignored when she starts dating a guy on a regular basis, and he finds himself stalking them on her dates- relieved to find out it hasnt gone beyond kissing.Though that pisses him off too! Cordy is also questioning her response to Angel. She too finds herself covering hot responses with anger. Tension spirals.