The spray was strong and as hot as she could bear it, beating down on her bent head, the water running in rivulets down her face, neck and body. She’d borrowed Wesley’s shower gel; it was a masculine scent, but nice and she didn’t think he’d mind.
She was clean now but she stayed under the spray enjoying the massaging effect of it on her tired body. Unwillingly the events of the night replayed through her head and she unconsciously rubbed at her neck, where the marks of a vampire bite should be. But found only smooth unblemished skin.
Her thoughts turned to Angel, he was angry with her; she could tell as soon as he picked her up and carried her out of there. He’d been rigid with it, his face stern if unemotional but she wasn’t fooled and she knew him well enough to know there would be a confrontation between them very soon.
She sighed and move back from the spray, reaching up to turn it off and stepping out of the cubicle. She wrapped a towel around her torso and started using another to dry her long legs.
“Oh for the days when his moods where only irritating”, she rubbed her forehead with her hand again in a gesture that was fast becoming habit for her.
Before she’d started to fall in love with him, she would have just brushed off his bad temper and either ignored him, aggravated it further, or coaxed him out of it. But they were lovers now and the all rules had gone and changed on her even more, this bad temper was very definitely going to affect her, whether she wanted it too or not. It was personal now, about as personal as it could get.
“Where the hell does he get off being pissed at me, I’m the one that nearly died, Asshole”. The anger was welcome but short-lived.
“Dammit” She was just getting into the swing of things what with work and her relationship with Angel and now this has to happen. Both had become important to her in the short time she’d been back in LA, She didn’t want to lose either.
“I should have told him when Drusilla first showed up” She thought, knowing that was a big part of what was angering Angel.
“I couldn’t remember, innocent lives at stake. I couldn’t take the risk”, she said out-loud, defensively.
“He’s going to try and insist I stop working cases on my own“
“So what if he does, what can he do”? She told the inner voice, so wrapped up in the conversation she was having with herself, she forgot she wasn’t alone in the apartment.
Wesley shouted from the living room asking if she was OK, “Yeah I’m fine don’t worry just talking to myself”, great way to come off as a mental case, Cor.
“He’s going to say you can’t cope that you nearly died and got vamped and he’s not wrong“
“Oh right and he hasn’t nearly gotten himself staked plenty of times before”
“You know he won’t see it that way, ‘over protective much’ remember“
“Well anyway he is wrong I can cope, I’ve been doing OK and maybe I’ll get some muscle in”, she visibly brightened at the idea.
“Wow won’t that bake his cookies” Both she and her inner self smiled for a moment enjoying the thought.
“Groo, I could try and find him – no wait, that wouldn’t be fair, what with him loving me and me…, well me not feeling the same way”, she’d nearly said ‘being involved with Angel” but she wasn’t feeling very coupley at the moment. She drooped for a moment defeated; no-one else came to mind.
“Ya know what? I don’t care, I won’t let him decide my life just because I’m sleeping with him. This is what I want to do and he’s just going to have to get used to it or get the hell out of my life”, she scowled and resumed drying her feet with rough strokes.
“Oh yeah and Mr Stubborn, Possessive and Over Protective Guy, is really just gonna back off -and anyway, you know you don’t want that“, the annoying inner voice taunted.
“I can stand up to him, it’s not like I haven’t before when he’s been all dark’n’broody”, she said the last with rolling eyes at the memories.
“Maybe, but he’s really, really mad this time“. Big time mad, the look on his face and the brutal fight was etched firmly on her mind.
“Oh shut up”, she slammed the towel down and got dressed, refusing to think about it anymore.
ANGEL THRU THE NIGHT
It had taken him the rest of the night to find the first one. He’d spent hours spent trawling demon hotspots and hangouts, beating up snitches and countless demons looking for the four vamps that had gotten away. Picking fights and generally making the demon underworld know that he was killing mad. He didn’t leave much room for doubt.
He’d taken more than a few knocks himself, but the battered and bruised look only made him look even more dangerous and unstable. Especially as his coat was liberally splattered with blood only a little of which was his own and his face; brows lowered over dark narrowed eyes, glittering with cold fire, was tight with reckless fury.
But now, finally he’d hit lucky and one of the remaining vamps that had hurt Cordelia was dangling by its neck from his clenched right hand, its eyes bugging out of its head with fear.
He brought his own snarling face in close and then without warning pulled back his arm and slammed the vampire against the wall again; its head hit the wall with a sickening thud while its hands still scrabbled frantically at his clenched encircling fingers.
Dust floated freely in the air from the other four vampires he’d found this one hanging out with. They were not the ones he wanted but he dusted them anyway before they’d even had a chance to defend themselves, it being morning and all, they had not been expecting visitors. He’d left this one until last deliberately, he wanted to know where the other three where before he killed it.
“Where are the others? I want names and locations now” Asked Angel with a calm deliberation that revealed the deadly purpose behind the visit. Just in case it hadn’t already figured it out.
“I don’t know”, it gasped around his strangling fingers, vampires don’t need to breath to live but they still need air to talk.
Angel flipped it in the air and slammed it down on its back, before it could recover its wits, one of his boots came to rest with crushing force on its nose and chin.
“Really I don’t know, I don’t know them, only met them for the first time for the job”, it squealed out of mashed lips.
Angel took out a knife from inside his leather duster, his boot still pressed onto the vampires face. He didn’t ask again but bent down and slammed the knife deep into its torso and turned it, the vamp screamed. He stepped off and crouched down beside it.
“You guys must have talked hangouts or favourite hunting spots”, he didn’t raise his voice or bluster, and they both knew he wasn’t bluffing.
“You’re going to kill me anyway”, it whimpered in pain, struggling over broken teeth and split lips.
“True, but I can cut you up first or not, your choice” He removed the knife as he said it, balancing it expertly in his hand ready and willing for the next strike.
It told him what it knew and then he drove a stake into its dead heart.
WESLEY’S APARTMENT (Still the previous night a few hours after getting there)
Lorne arrived at Wesley’s apartment while Cordy was in the shower, he knocked gently, nervously checking up and down the corridor in case any of the neighbours came out and saw him before he could get inside and away from human eyes.
Wesley opened the door and stepped back to let him in, “You didn’t have to come over you know”.
“I know, I just wanted to see her, it’s been a while”, he looked around hoping to see his favourite ex-seer. “So where is she”?
“Shower” said Wesley with a jerk of his head toward the sounds of running water and went back to cleaning the shotgun, currently in pieces scattered around him waiting for a turn with the gun oil and rag.
“Oh and Angel where’s he”? Lorne asked not spotting a large, dark and not so recently broody vampire, “Back to brooding after the close call with vamp Cordy”?
It was a pity thought Lorne with real regret, Angel gets to be happy for a few days after months of sliding back into dark Angel and then this happens. If he knew his boss and he did, this was going to have some very dark repercussions.
“Out” said Wesley, intentionally brief and uninformative, “Is Gunn still keeping an eye on Eve”? he knew he was having only just spoken to him but he wanted to change the subject.
He needn’t have bothered Lorne had spotted the woman on the bed through the door which Wesley had kept open. An axe was propped on this side put there by Wesley, just in case. Lorne walked into the room and over to the bed, looking down at the prone woman.
“Pretty little thing” He said, strangely enervated by the sight of her, “What’s her deal”?
“A friend of Cordy’s” answered Wesley joining the green skinned demon “Drusilla killed her”.
“Oh I doubt that” said Lorne, he sat next to the woman and picked up a hand, “She’s not dead”.
Wesley just stared at him; an uneasy crawling feeling came into life inside him. He suppressed the need to shiver with it “What makes you say that”. His eyes travelled the length of the woman, looking for whatever Lorne could see that made him sound so certain.
She looked the same as when they first carried her onto the bed, pale and still with no signs of life, just horrific wounds on her neck which were now covered with bandages.
“I can feel it, it’s so strong I can almost taste it” answered Lorne cryptically.
“Feel what”, snapped Wesley not in the mood for riddles.
Lorne looked up at him with a smile at his surliness, knowing he was driving the ex-watcher crazy and enjoying it for a moment before relenting, “The life-force Wesley, there’s no way this one has been snuffed out, it’s too strong”.
He placed the hand back by her body and patted it gently before moving back out of the room, they both heard Cordelia come out of the bathroom then, not difficult considering she was all but stomping, her beautiful face flushed and wearing a black scowl.
“Hey there Princess, come and give me a big ole huggeroo” Said Lorne with a big smile and wide open arms. Who could resist Lorne; she went to him and got enfolded in a big bear hug.
“How are you doing” He asked her, leaning back but holding her to look into her face, “Hmm not good then”?
“I’ve been better” she said with a wan smile, pushing her hair back behind her ears and looking at Wesley a little sheepishly.
“So I hear” said Lorne, “nearly got yourself vamped by the bosses daughter is what I heard” and then he gave an exaggerated shudder “What that would have done to the family tree I shudder to think”.
“How’s Cathy” Asked Cordy of Wesley, wanting to change the subject and not get into what had happened earlier, she was going to get enough of that later.
“No change that I can tell” said Wesley genuinely and then genuinely curious “So how does this work with her”?
“She’ll just heal and then wake up” said Cordy simply, walking into the bedroom and over to the bed. Cautious as ever Wesley followed closely behind not wanting to leave her alone with what he still half believed was a vampire in the making.
“You’ve seen this before then”? When she nodded he decided now was a good time to dig for more “What is she Cordy, has she told you”?
For a moment Cordelia looked like she was going to ignore him, she didn’t look up from removing the bandages on Cathy’s neck to check the wounds; she smiled when she found they had closed over somewhat, the skin no longer looking so savagely mauled.
She leaned back so Wesley could see and watched him pale, he looked at her “This doesn’t mean anything; the same would happen if she was being turned”. For a moment it looked like she might actually hit him she was so infuriated. So he held up his hands saying “Look all I can go off is what I know and you’re not telling me anything I can believe in”.
Cordy blew the bangs of her hair off her face and placed her hands on hips, searching his face, for what?
“Don’t you trust me”? Asked Wesley a little hurt.
“It’s not up-to me to trust you, but I will tell you some of what I know, the rest is not my story to tell, OK” She waited for his agreement, which he gave reluctantly.
“For starters this could take days to heal before she comes round. How she got the wounds makes a big difference on how quickly she heals. If she gets attacked herself then she heals very quickly but if it’s a wound she’d taken off someone then it takes much, much longer”.
“So these wounds are the ones that you got from Drusilla then?” asked Wesley, incredulous, he’d actually managed to convince himself that she never got bitten by Drusilla after all. Even though he’d seen it with his own eyes.
“Yes” said Cordy. Even Lorne who had followed them in looked sceptical “I don’t know chickpea, it all sounds a bit biblical to me, but maybe that’s just me”? Wesley and Lorne shared a look.
Cordy laughed then, “I said that once and it was the first time I ever saw her angry, I mean really angry so don’t ever say anything like that to her of you want to keep your head on your shoulders”.
“So how does she do it then”? Wesley was feeling more uneasy not less, thinking of Jasmine and her ‘healing powers’.
“She calls it paying the price, the way she tells it’s like she’s some kind of, oh I don’t know cosmic credit card. Someone’s sick or something she can heal them but she has to pay the price for it, which means she takes on the problem and then she heals herself”.
“Very kind of her”said Wesley dryly “She must be busy there’s a lot of sick and hurting people out there”.
Cordy crossed her arms and aimed on of her dirtiest looks, the kind she only saved for VERY special occasions, like now. “Don’t talk about what you can’t understand Wes, she’s only one person. She has to decide who to help, can you imagine having to make that decision”. She raised a brow and waited until he dropped his own eyes before she was satisfied.
“But what is she”? Asked Lorne, wondering if he’d missed that part.
“I don’t know exactly, she’s never said but she is pretty much human though” replied Cordy, hands up in a ‘take it or leave it’ gesture.
“Pretty much human”? Wesley replied back with a great deal of ‘I beg your pardon’ in his voice.
“Yes Wesley, just, well a little more as well”, Cordy shrugged, what did he want her to say for crying out loud, what was she some kind of encyclopaedia for the strange and unusual.
“What other ‘powers’ does she have”?
Cordy stayed silent for a moment this conversation was not going well as it was, should she mention the other psychic stuff, especially as Wesley’s reaction was bad enough without it and by the same thought what would Angel’s be like?
“That’s all you need worry about”. Better not to risk it.
“Cordelia” Said Wesley in a warning tone of voice, all stern and father figureish, yeah OK Wes.
“I said that’s all you need to know OK, for gods sake she saved me from being dead or a monster, isn’t that enough”? Cordy raised her voice and glared with all of her considerable might at the ex-watcher who she also considered to be a good friend but right now was being a complete pain in the ass.
“Where is Angel anyway? He shot out of here quick enough, what happened did he have a board meeting or something”? Sarcasm and bitterness was evident in her voice and dark scowling face.
“Making sure that the threat is completely taken care of” Replied Wesley, picking his words with care, getting in between these two when they were squabbling was a game for fools.
“What threat? He took care of that with unusual gusto at the lab; by the way has someone been spiking his blood again? cos that was a little too gung-ho for me” She started pacing, was this night ever going to end.
“I want to home now, there’s no point in my being here, I can take Cathy there and look after her”, she told Wesley, daring him to contradict her.
He must have had more gumption than she remembered “NO, not until we’re sure your safe, your apartment is the first place any remaining vampires who worked for Dru would go to find you”.
“Urgghh that’s rubbish Wesley, there can’t be more, she had them all gathered for the show” said Cordy with a great deal of frustration showing through.
“Nevertheless” said Wesley refusing to budge an inch. Lorne could feel the tension rise and knew Cordy was about to raise the roof, so he said “What about the hotel”.
Both Cordelia and Wesley looked at him and said in unison “What”?
Lorne shrugged and looked nonchalant “The Hyperion. it’s empty and available, any vamps of Dru’s won’t go there looking for Cordy and anyway they’d be too afraid of bumping into our very own prince of darkness to try anything”.
As an idea it had merit, Cordy looked back at Wesley and raised a brow “It’s either that or I go home, Wes, so make up your mind and make it snappy”.