Title: When Gods Play Games
Category: Smut & intrigue
Summary: This is based in S1 and basically an Idea I had years ago about what would happen if the determinedly celibate Angel was forced to do something he didn’t want to
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: GT, AO.
Thanks/Dedication: Thanks to Cali for beta’ing love ya babe!
Feedback: Yeah feed me!!
Cordelia’s nose twitched and an annoyed frown furrowed her smooth brow when the intrusive noise of the phone threatened to wake her up. Remaining unanswered, it soon stopped and she relaxed back into a deep, dream filled sleep.
“I can’t believe my luck. Anyone else would be neck deep in a bubble bath. Getting ready for a fun night on the town; knocking the guys dead with my latest killer designer outfit and not even remotely sensible shoes. But not me – No. I’m out skulking in shadowy alleys with my creature of the night boss”. Cordelia complained. All the while keeping a sharp eye out for less friendly creatures of the night. Not realising her friendly one was less than happy with her just then.
“Hey” he returned sharply throwing her a moodily offended look before returning his gaze to the surrounding rooftops looking for god knows what. Angel felt edgy, doubly so since he couldn’t actually put his finger on why.
“Hey- what”? She asked him quizzically, truly confused. Once a complaint was out it was out and done- who needs to remember them. “Ya know next time I call up with a lead. Take Doyle with you. He has no social life other than the bookies and that can be done in the daytime”. It wasn’t hard to dismiss the half demon’s less than salubrious drinking and gambling lifestyle. Las Vegas it wasn’t.
Angel ignored her other than to give a long suffering sigh, and then stopped outside a grilled storefront with old posters covering most of the windows and half of the strong looking wooden door.
“Is this it”? Cordelia asked disdainfully. But it was a rhetorical question- duh why else would they stop outside it. Restless hazel eyes scanned the front of the building, skittering over the dark patches and trying to ignore a squiggly ‘run for your life’ feeling.
“Why do they always have antiques store’s in the grotty parts of the city. Charming and quaint it isn’t”. She said in a disgruntled voice, not expecting a response from the taciturn vampire.
“If you want to go home, Cordelia then go” said Angel with an impatient edge to his deep voice. He hadn’t wanted to bring her in the first place. It was Cordelia that’d insisted she come too. Saying he needed backup whether he liked to admit it or not. He could even hear her voice echoing in his head from earlier on.
She’d been standing in front of his desk. Hands firmly planted on her hips and a lofty, arch look on her face that few could get away with. Pulling it off easily with her usual confident style and blunt speaking.
“We’re a team and we need to start acting like one. That means no going off alone for you anymore. Except when it’s really squicky, and then your welcome to it”.
She’d then totally ignored his glowering reaction at being lectured to by her and blithely carried on gathering her purse. Leaving him to stand around looking like an idiot and trying to find excuses of why she couldn’t come.
And now she was complaining!
“Like I’m gonna leave you alone to get yourself in trouble; which by the way I would then have to get you out of. Not gonna happen big guy”. Angel stilled for a second, struck by the sheer gall it took for her to come out with something like that- to him!
Get me out of trouble? Forget it, he wasn’t going to get into a debate on that one. It simply wasn’t worth the aggravation. He’d only end up getting more irritated and confused by the convoluted way her mind worked.
He risked a quick glance at her face and found her grinning at him, guessing what he was thinking. She’d been baiting him and was just waiting for him to say something she could pounce on. Helpless to resist her ‘gotcha’ grin, he couldn’t stop an answering grin from twitching at the corners of his lips.
Cordelia could tell by the knowing look in his cool eyes that he wasn’t going to take the bait and so made shooing motions with her hands. “C’mon then less with the lurkage and more with the get it done. I’m kinda in a rush here. Gotta get back home to my yummy TV-Dinner, a la plastique”.
That sounded appetising- not. He winced; great, now even his thoughts were starting to sound like her. Shrugging off a sudden feeling of reluctant bonding and stirring sympathy he turned his attention back on the dark deserted building in front of them, and changed the subject to one he was more comfortable with. “Who was it gave you this lead again”?
“The guy I interviewed under cover for that fake ‘Antiques in Modern life” article that just so doesn’t exist, cos it would be such a sad yawner. Fit only for dweebs with no life- like you for example”. She tossed out matter of factly, and even more insultingly without actually trying to offend him.
So much for fleeting sympathy, thought Angel as his dark eyes automatically narrowed angrily on her. “Cord-el-ia” he growled out the warning with a heck of lot more of a threatening undertone present this time.
“If the shoe fits buddy. Can you get us in”? Cordelia didn’t bat an eyelid at his obvious displeasure. The day he looked happy was the one she’d have to break out the sharpened stakes. Angry, broody and moody was good in her book.
Battling an urge to wring her neck or some other equally hands on damage to the mouthy brunette. He didn’t bother to answer, just moved with incredible speed and strength, climbing up the pipe attached to the wall. All the while assailed with a desperate need to get this finished so he could go back home and brood alone in peace.
“Ask a silly question” murmured Cordelia craning her neck to keep track of the dark shadowy leather-clad figure. Not exactly easy, she thought with a flash of irritation. The whole building was pitch black and there was a serious lack of street lighting.
One he was out of sight she pushed out a breath and hugged her arms, trying to keep warm and futiley wishing she’d brought a jacket. Her thin blouse and skirt looked fabulous but weren’t much good against the night chill.
A few minutes later the door opened from the inside. Which might have been spooky since no one stood on the other side, but Cordy was well used to her boss’s less than gracious ways by now. Knowing him as she did, he’d be stuck in some other room poking around with his super-duper supernatural senses. Urggh, and he can have them. Just average could be a mite too much in their line of work.
Cautiously stepping inside the store Cordelia couldn’t help wrinkling her nose in an attempt to limit the musty smell and stop the dust entering her delicate nasal passages. “Dammit, I knew I should have put on some overalls or something. Can we never get a job that doesn’t involve dust, dust and more dust? I’m never gonna feel clean again” she complained loudly though the hand now placed firmly over her nose and lips. “I suppose I should be grateful there’s no body parts- yet”!
“Cordelia, though here,” Angel’s voice called out, and not thinking twice she gingerly manoeuvred her way around some bulky unidentified objects and over to a doorway she could dimly make out at the back of the store.
She stepped through and then jumped a mile high when it slammed shut behind her. It wasn’t so much the door that shocked her, cos living with a ghost kinda made that a daily occurance.
No, it was finding herself stepping into another world, or more accurately into a spotlessly clean room with nothing more than creamy painted walls, a roaring fireplace and a white fur rug on a pine wooden floor. All in all it looked homey- except for the fact that Angel was tied and gagged, lying on the rug in front of the fire and looking less than happy at the fact.
“Oh my God, Angel. What happened to you”? Asked Cordelia running over as quickly as she could in her high heeled sandals; to kneel beside him as he struggled to sit up. Figuring out which was easier, she went for the gag and pulled it down. Then sat back on her heels to wait for an answer.
“What the hell took you so long”? He groused, and for some reason refused to meet her anxiously enquiring eyes.
“What do you mean? Geeze it’s only been a minute or two” she returned crossly, then scooted round to take a look at the rope tying his wrists behind his back.
He sighed and went still, craning his neck to see over his shoulder. “No, Cordelia it hasn’t just been a few minutes more like an hour”.
“Erm Okayyy, you must have hit your head. There is no way it’s been longer than 3 minutes tops”. She gave him a searching look and stopped plucking at the tight knots. “I give up. These are too tight and I’m not breaking a nail. I just got a manicure and they are not cheap”. She flashed the impressive display of colour before his face in case he missed the seriousness in her voice.
Angels brows furrowed in deep thought. “They must have messed with the time then. Or this room runs by a different one” he muttered and looking forward again, concentrated on stretching the bonds so he could free himself.
It wasn’t long before he’d got them off and tossed the still knotted but now stretched and unravelled rope onto the fire. They both watched it disappear into the hypnotically roaring flames. Ever sensitive to nuances, Cordelia realised Angel still wasn’t looking at her and for some reason that creeped her out. Not that he did a great deal of that anyway, but this time she was getting the sense it was more than his usual indifference.
“Will you stop with the creepy silence? What’s with you? Are you freaking out cos someone got the drop on you or something”? Cordelia accused, worried and resenting that fact.
“No of course that’s not it” replied Angel a little resentful that she’d think that. He forced his eyes to meets hers and braced himself for some pretty awkward explanations.
“Then what? The worlds gonna end- there’s a new hellmouth- or..not oh my god..another slayer“? Cordelia asked dramatically, using sharp impatience to mask her growing unease. If something was bad enough to make unflappable stoic guy uncomfortable- she just knew she was gonna flip.
Angel pinned her mutinous face with a laser sharp glare. “Will you just stop and let me explain”. Cordelia rolled her eyes at him and crossed her arms but forebore from commenting that’s what she was waiting for – dumbass!
Angel looked away and the fire reflected orange and gold in his dark brown eyes, warming them to soft melted chocolate orbs. He opened his mouth to speak, flicked a look at her expectant face and then shut it again with a frown. Sighing thickly he tried again and still nothing came out.
Oh god, he mentally groaned, how the hell am I ever gonna explain this. He flopped back onto the rug and covered his face with his hands. That was the straw the broke the camels back- or at least emptied Cordelia’s small stack of patience.
“Okay, that is it! You are going to tell me what’s going on, Angel or I swear I’m gonna…gonna… sing- that’s it. Sing and sing until you tell me exactly what the frickin’ problem is here”. God, sometimes she just wanted to shake him until his fangs fell out. Now was one of those times.
Fully prepared to follow through with her threat she took a deep breath and prepared to launch full throttle into a tune. Only to find a large hand slapped over her mouth and the furrowed, less than pleased face of her boss looking up at her with a mixture of consternation and guilt. Guilt, oh that’s just peachy!
“Don’t sing. I give up, okay”. Angel remembered hearing a thing or two about that in Sunnydale.
“We’ve fallen into a trap and this..” he jerked his head to indicate the impossibly clean and homey room with the big fire and soft rug “…is the result”.
It wasn’t even half the story but again he faltered – finding it impossible to tell her the rest and dreading her reaction when he did. She was gonna whig, and then…well they were still left with the same dilemma.
“Whose trap, and don’t get me wrong not happy here…. But ya know- where are the whips and chains and sharp pointy objects”? Only a little appeased, Cordelia surveyed the room just to check she hadn’t missed them the first time round, and then looked back at Angel a clear question on her expressive face.
“The who is- Loki. Used to be big but less well known now”. He stopped again and fell silent as if working out what to say, before doggedly carrying on. “Pretty much the prankster of the universe and not exactly the picture of mental health” he said to the room at large in a raised voice.
Nervously Cordelia looked around again as if expecting some hairy grinning beast to come storming inside the room in response to the insult. “Still don’t get it” Cordelia admitted flatly but she was getting a feeling. “So what does this Loki guy want with us”?
“We have to make a choice, or actually I or… you have to make a choice”. He grimaced and wished he’d kept his mouth shut when his hesitation drove her over the edge and she bounded up to pace around the small space they had. Angel decided to stay where he was on the rug, it felt safer that way.
“Will you just stop with the riddles and tell me it all at once. Geeze it’s like pulling teeth. What choice”? This, no…he was driving her crazy. Cordelia felt a horrible churning anxiety deep in her belly and wanted to scream. Refusing to give into the creeping panic she simply quickened her steps.
Her shoes clickety clacked on the smooth gleaming wood of the floor and from this position Angel had to look away to avoid an eyeful of gleaming tanned thighs under a stylish print skirt that on anyone else would look like an invitation. On Cordelia it was a challenge that you knew you were gonna lose just by looking at the confident brunette.
“I erm” he coughed, she was gonna kill him. “I have to erm…”. If it was possible for Angel to look worried, uncomfortable and creeped out all at once then that’s what he was.
“Spit it OUT”!! She yelled throwing her arms out wide in the universal gesture of ‘put me the hell outta my misery’.
“Okay” he shouted back suddenly irrationally furious with her and vaulting upright himself he stalked over to her until they stood toe to toe; eyeball to eyeball. Narrowed dark eyes met narrowed hazel and Cordelia realised with a jolt that this was the first time he’d ever given her his whole attention.
She wasn’t sure why, but the fact that he was doing so now, wasn’t exactly comforting.
He towered over her much smaller frame with his hands clenched at his sides. Somewhere inside him a little voice was saying he was using anger to shield his fear of her reaction. He ignored the little voice. Was it his fault they where stuck here? This was her lead and she’d insisted on coming along. Why the hell do I always get the blame for everything that goes wrong, he thought bitterly.
“If we wanna get out of here then I either have to kill you…or seduce you. There, are you happy now”? He snarled and crossed his arms over his wide chest. A defensive reaction while he waited for hers. He didn’t have long to wait.
“Come again” said Cordelia , mouth open and eyes almost comically wide in shock. He did not just say what she thought he had. She stayed frozen in mute shock for a full minute while it truly sank into her stunned mind. “You did not just say that- no way. Tell me this is just you, developing a weird-ass sense of humour way late”?
He stayed silent with his eyes downcast and so obviously in full brood mode she had the irrational urge to smash her fist in his face. I would only I’d break my hand trying to impact on that thick hard head of his, she thought as anger unfurled and quickly drove away the mind numbing disbelief.
A thoroughly repentant Angel tried to interrupt her heated thoughts. Cordelia simply held up a stiff hand to silence him before spinning on her heel to stalk over to the door. Just as she got to it she whipped around and with fire shooting out of her eyes, pointed a stiff accusing finger at him. “You… are making this up and it’s…. sick”.
He’d been sorry for losing his temper and putting it so badly but that was out of line. “Hey you’re not the only one who’s not exactly pleased with this you know” he bit out and followed her to the door with a scowl darkening his handsome face.
“Whatever” she tossed over her shoulder and pulled with all of her might on the round wobbly handle. It turned but didn’t open no matter how hard she pulled. Overwhelmed with a panicky feeling constricting her chest, Cordelia started to futilely kick at the door.
Her shoes weren’t exactly fit for kicking down doors and later, when she was calm, she’d be sorry for the damage she was doing to them. Just then she didn’t give a crap about anything other than getting out of this nightmare. Die or die. What choice was that? Except one would be Angel and the other would be..Angelus.
No way! I don’t want to die. Why am I always the one who has to die or nearly die. Somebody up there hates me, that’s what it is. So much for second chances, she thought and felt the sting of tears burn her eyes.
“Cordelia” Angel said from behind her and tentatively touched her shoulders. She shrugged him off and kicked at it again. Taking the hint, Angel backed off feeling helpless to calm the agitated brunette. “Cordy, calm down it won’t do any good. I know”. If she didn’t stop she was going to hurt herself he thought uneasily, and considered just pulling her away.
“Who says? You- hah” She rounded on him and shook her fist in his face. Hers was pale with red splashes of colour high on her cheeks below wide frightened eyes. It was the fright that touched him more than anything else did.
He gentled his voice “I’ve been here before- met him before. For some reason he thinks I’m funny”, he finished with a perplexed frown and an embarrassed shrug. If that didn’t distract her nothing would, he thought looking at her out of watchful, expectant brown eyes.
Cordelia just gaped at him for second before snapping her mouth shut and grinding her teeth. “Well yeah- cos your just a laugh a minute… not! Gimme a break” she shot back sarcastically. It did the trick though. Feeling calmer, Cordelia stepped away from the impervious door and blowing out a breath planted her hands on her hips to give him a half pleading, half suspicious look.
“Okay, so what’s this guy’s story, and don’t give me some crappy half baked tale about Vikings either cos I know that one. Gimme the real deal”.
Angel stepped back too and then needing some distance went to stand with his back to the nearest wall. “The Viking stuff is true as far as I know. Its just not the whole story”. He risked a glance at Cordelia only to find her staring at him with a blank ‘I’m still waiting’ look on her face. He decided to skip that part and go straight for the less known part.
“Thing is and I don’t know this for sure. But he’s supposed to also work for the powers and because of that and the balance he…. supposedly, provides they let him get away with…certain… things that others wouldn’t”. It was the best explanation he could come up that fit the facts as he knew them.
“Things like this”? Asked Cordy, meaning them in this room. “But you work for the powers so doesn’t that mean he’d be in big trouble over this “? Cos BOY! As far as she was concerned this Loki guy better not ever show his face around her.
Angel looked uncomfortable, like he always did whenever she or Doyle made too much of his new status as a force for good working for the powers. Not exactly hard to understand for the former ‘Scourge of Europe’. Yeah and former needs to stay former, no re-emergence of killer-vamp required thanks, she thought and aimed a heated glare upwards at whoever was pulling their strings.
“Don’t know” he replied simply, “Maybe he’s more important to them than a single vampire working for redemption”. He offered simply and laid his head back against the wall to stare unseeingly up at the ceiling.
Urghh! He had that stoic ‘I’m just a monster’ look of modesty on his face. Which never failed to drive her crazy. Geeze could he not just accept that what he did was important. She sighed thickly but decided to just move on.
“So what your saying is that this freakzoid is playing a game with you- I mean us, and the PTB’s will just sit back and do nothing? That sucks”! She exclaimed in disbelief. “Okay, so aren’t dealing with apocalypses. Unlike some who shall remain far away from LA. But what the hell happened to saving souls one at a time and all that stuff”?
Angel just ducked his head and nodded. What could he say, it did suck- big time; more for her than for him. She was the one who… His thoughts veered away from that path and uncomfortable he kept his eyes averted from her. He certainly wasn’t going to kill her. That wasn’t even a consideration, which meant that… He shifted against the wall and then filled with a strange restless and anxious feeling pushed away from it to get even further away from her.
“So what happened before I got here? He knocked you out and then you guys had a big conversation or something”? Asked Cordelia, watching him prowl around the edge of the wall, his impossibly wide shoulders tense as he scrubbed one hand over the back of his neck.
“Pretty much, yeah” Angel admitted. “I walked in. Everything went black and then …he was just there”. Just like last time in fact, he thought, and not for the first time since he’d woken up.