Discord 4

Part 4

Angel watched through narrowed black eyes as Cordy finally appeared and descended the stairs.

From his vantage point in a shadowed corner out of sight of the others, he could stare openly without being caught. Over ten minutes had passed since he’d left her sprawled across that stripped mattress, and his groin tightened as the scenario replayed through his mind. At times like this, he was both glad and angry that he possessed a photographic memory, as every sight and touch and smell invaded his mind in full scratch and sniff – with full stereo accompaniment.

When she’d pushed him aside and walked away, scorn in every word dripping from her luscious mouth, all reason had fled. Before he let himself have second thoughts Angel had grabbed her and literally carried her through the nearest door with the intention of carrying out his threat regardless of repercussions.

The scarf Cordy had worn was a bonus when she’d collected herself enough to scream for help. The combination of gagging her and restraining her struggling body had filled his mind and body with thoughts of sexual ‘punishment’ too – only the presence of the others in the hotel stopping him – barely!

As he’d thrown her across his lap, and the continued struggles which had caused her short suede skirt to ride up over her hips, he’d diverted the rapidly building lust into spanking her with measured force, careful not to do more than bee-sting the satiny golden skin that silently beckoned more.

Her muffled cries of outrage and the slight scent of salty tears had stopped him from invading her hot core so close he could feel it’s heat; instead throwing her onto the bed and away from him before he gave into the dark temptation – as his gold eyes had taken in her partially spread legs, and barely covered groin, Angel snarled a few words then practically shot out of the room before he gave in and tore the flimsy scrap of silk form her lower body and replaced it with his lips – and then his throbbing shaft…

Her face still held a soft blush, and he read the conflicted emotions that flitted across her expression as she slowly entered the lobby; her beautiful hazel eyes widened warily as she glanced around her, before joining the others. She didn’t see his hiding place, and he noted the tiny droop of her stiff shoulders as she relaxed a little.

His mouth curled slightly with almost sadistic pleasure on hearing the gasp of discomfort that left her lips when she sat at her desk, too low for the others to have picked it up.

Wesley was pushing pins into a map, while the others watched.

“Next?” He asked Gunn.

“Two USC students grabbed in a parking garage. Fourth and Figueroa.”

“Got it. Next.” Wesley repeated, pushing another pin into the map.

“Guy was snatched two blocks over on sixth.” Wesley turned at Gunn’s reply, his brows raised in surprise.

“Really? When was this?”

“Last night. Heard about it from one of my guys.” He shrugged casually.

Harmony came to sit on the edge of her desk watching her intently.

“What?” Cordy couldn’t keep the irritation out of her voice, still furtively looking around out of the corner of her eye. Where the hell was that Bastard? his absence was making her more nervous than having him there – at least she’d know where he was, she thought, trembling slightly.

“Nothing. It’s just – I can’t believe this is what you do now. We always said we were going to do something cool with our lives. Now look at us. You’re an office manager and I’m dead.” Harmony answered her curt question, seemingly unaware of the undercurrents or tension that assailed every one of Cordy’s muscles.

“Yeah, well, life takes some funny turns sometimes. – Maybe I’m not where I though I would be, but it’s still…” her mind drifted back upstairs and into that empty room…”different.” She finished vaguely, her cheeks again flushing a little.

“You know what? I’m gonna ask Angel if I can work with you guys!” Harmony grinned in excitement – stopping her slide to the floor when Cordy gripped her arm to halt her.

” See the tall, slightly eccentric English guy there?” Harmony looked over at Wesley, then nodded, confused.

That’s who you ask – the Boss of this Agency – Our resident Vamp is just hired muscle – he got demoted for bad behavior.” Cordy almost jumped out of her skin when she turned back to find their ‘hired muscle’ now standing inches from her side.

She gulped at the brown eyes rimmed in gold staring down at her – but refused to retract her words. The Bastard deserved it! Giving him a snarky fake smile, Cordy focused her attention on her computer screen, browsing the net and trying desperately to keep her fingers from trembling as he hovered over her. Her heart raced at the almost imperceptible growl she felt, rather than heard vibrate through his torso.

Angel couldn’t believe it! What was wrong with the infuriating little … After what had happened earlier, he’d assumed his Seer would think a little more carefully before opening that full, wide mouth of hers – but no; her insults continued as if nothing had happened. How Angel kept his hands to himself and not lift her off her feet to take her somewhere for yet another, more ‘informative’ lesson, was beyond him. Clenching his hands convulsively he stepped back a little, with a silent promise to himself to deal with their ‘problems’ once and for all at a later date.

When she wasn’t expecting it – give her time to relax, drop her guard; and then use the element of surprise. Satisfied with his decision, Angel wiped his expression clear.

“Ho! Hey! Hello! Guys? Found something.” Cordy pointed to the computer screen, a small smile of victory on her face – her mind temporarily away from her immediate problems.

Wesley and Gunn joined Angel at her desk to look at what she’s found.

“And there is nothing mystical about this. Department of Justice website. It’s a logo for a defunct pyramid scheme.” She indicated the symbol that was identical to the one on the robe they’d kept.

“Vamps running money scams now? That’s low.” Gunn raised his eyebrows in surprised disgust.

“This particular one was run by a motivational speaker and – ugh, lord help me – self-described ‘life-coach’ named Doug Sanders. Held meetings all over the city until the feds caught up with him.” Cordy read out the legend below the symbol.

“He was arrested?” Cordy tensed as Angel’s deep voice sounded a little too close to her ear, not realizing he was leaning over her shoulder, and bursting her personal bubble.

“According to this he disappeared. Still at large.” She replied, trying with difficulty to keep her voice level- but Angel didn’t miss the cold tone, or her shrinking forward to put distance between them. He deliberately edged further forward, and smiled inwardly at her tiny shiver of reaction.

“Sounds like he has the makings of a cult leader.” Wesley surmised – completely oblivious to the thick atmosphere between Champion and Seer, as were the others.

“Oh, hold on. Here is something: a list of his known meeting sites – and a picture!” Cordy leaned even further forward as she opened another window of the Site.

“Now we’re talking!” Gunn grinned in optimism – the thought of some physical work lacing his tone with eagerness.

“Oh, let me see!” Harmony pushed between Wesley and Gunn to get a closer look, a cup of pig’s blood in her hand as she leaned over to get a look at it. The blood spilled all over the keyboard and screen, causing it to spark and fizzle and the screen to fade out.

Cordy jumped up and away, letting out a squeak while Harmony gave her an apologetic smile.

“Okay, that was my fault.” She said blithely. Cordy frowned at her, then stiffened when she suddenly realized she’d backed up against Angel’s body; his large hands now resting on her small waist. Pulling forward immediately, her heart lodged in her throat when those hands tightened this side of painful before sliding away, taking a step backwards and releasing her fully.

“Get her out of here. Now.” Wesley’s venom-filled voice pierced her muddled mind, and Cordy moved away from the Vampire to grab Harmony’s arm.

“Come on, Harm.” Pulling her around the counter, Cordy glanced briefly at Angel, who hadn’t moved from where she’d left him: shuddering at the dark eyes that pinned hers for a moment, the promise of further retribution still lingered as strongly as the feel of his cool hands that still felt like they were closed around her waist. She glared back defiantly before turning her eyes towards her friend.

“Such a fitting nickname.” Wesley muttered, loud enough for all to hear as he picked up the keyboard and held it sideways to let the blood drip out. “Oh, bloody hell.”

Harmony pulled away from Cordy’s hand and went to sit on one of the chairs in the lobby.

“This was a mistake. I should never have come here. I’m just getting in the way. Messing up, like always.” Cordy followed her to sit down beside her

“Don’t talk like that.” She patted the girl’s arm soothingly.

“Easy for you to say. You’ve got friends. – I don’t have anyone who understands what I’m going through.” Her mouth turned down pitifully. Cordy looked over at the three guys clustered around her desk; lingering briefly on the Bane of her life before turning back at Harmony.

“I know someone who understands a little something about pain. -We’re going out!” She called to the others, rising to her feet and pulling Harmony up with her before making for the main doors. – And hoping against hope her feelings weren’t picked up in the process – some ‘pain’ she’d rather keep to herself… …

***

“Memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember we choose to forget…” Harmony sat on stage singing “Memories” – badly!

“So, ah, – what do you think?” Cordy was sitting at a table with the Host.

“I think your friend should reconsider the name Harmony.” Lorne pulled a face, looking like he was sucking lemons as Harmony continued assassinating a song that used to be a favorite of his.

“…the way we were. The way we were.” Harmony laughed and held as she ended. There was some sporadic clapping as she left the stage and made her way over to Cordy and the Host, sitting down and leaning her elbows on the small table.

“That was so – fun! I can’t believe I did that!” not hearing the “neither can I!” that Lorne muttered under his breath.

“Well, color us incredulous.” He added loud enough for her to hear; the sarcasm unnoticed by the ditzy blonde.

“Harmony is looking for a little guidance.” Cordy explained, nudging the green Demon with her elbow surreptitiously, whilst stifling her grin of amusement.

“Yeah, I’m picking up on the ‘betwixed and between, got to find my corner of the sky’ vibe loud and clear, kitten.” Lorne replied vaguely.

“So you can help me.” She asked, smiling flirtatiously at him.

“No.” Both Cordy and Harmony stared at him , surprised by the curtness of that single word.

“But I *can* treat you to a complimentary carafe of plasma. The AB-negative here is superb – or so I’m told.” He added hastily on seeing the glint in the brunettes eyes – she had so many vibes coming off her already – his eyes had nearly fallen out of his head when he’d read her aura half an hour earlier, but on seeing the ferocious warning in her beautiful eyes, Lorne had kept shtum.

“Wait a minute. That’s it?” Although the Host could be vague at times, she was surprised at just how ‘vague’ his reading had been.

“Yeah. You’re supposed to do some mind mojo, show me my path.” Harmony demanded in what she hoped was an intimidating tone – failing miserably, judging by the gleam of repressed amusement in those red eyes.

“You’re already on it my little cacophony. Only I’m not your travel agent for this trip.” He inclined his head towards Cordy:
“Brown eyes here is. Stick with her and let your pal be your guide.” Lorne blew Harmony a kiss then got up and left them.

“Cacophony. That’s pretty. What’s it mean?” Harmony asked Cordy, who just rolled her eyes then smiled, shrugging lightly, feigning ignorance.

The smile faded the moment she saw Wesley, Gunn and Angel walk into the bar. Just great; can’t have five minutes to myself before Big and Broody shows his spanky self! her cheeks flamed as she realized just where her thoughts had taken her, and turned her head away, pretending interest in the Slime Demon dissecting “It’s My Party” on the stage.

“Cordy.” Wesley called her, indicating she come over to them alone. Throwing a reassuring smile to the blonde, She got up and walked over reluctantly; avoiding the dark unreadable eyes of the manpire to his right.

“I realize you have, ah, other concerns at the moment, but we need you.” Wesley glared briefly towards their table before pinning her with an impatient look.

“Why?” She’d done her bit – the bit they’d let her do anyway; have the Vision, tell them what she saw. Period.

“Most of the attacks been taking place within a ten blocks radius. Now we figure the cult’s headquarters must be somewhere near the center.” Gunn answered, then looked at Angel who had walked forward to stand directly in front of the brunette.

“And look, we want to drive around the area. Maybe you can pick up some – vibe from you vision or see something?” He kept his tone neutral – now was not the time for personal conflict, and his eyes conveyed that warning.

For a long moment Cordy stared right back defiantly, her whole demeanor screaming out the fact that she didn’t even want to be in the same room as him, let alone have to verbalize. Seeing Wesley and Gunn looking a little confused by her reaction caused her to drop her gaze and relax her taut features- no way did she ever want them to know about what had happened between Angel and her earlier!

“Like a red bird.” Her eyes turned to Wesley, ignoring the dark man facing her.

“For instance.” Angel replied tightly, slipping his itchy hands into the pockets of his leather jacket before they developed a mind of their own and shook his seer until her teeth rattled.

“Okay.” Still not looking at him, Cordy turned on her heel and walked back to the table.”

“Harmony. I have to go. Work stuff. Uh, you’re okay here?” she asked lightly. Harmony grinned back.

“You kidding? Free blood; potato skins. Hey, I’m thinking about doing another number. Now what do you think: Candle in the Wind or the Princess Diana Candle in the Wind?” she asked, ignoring the three men who shifted impatiently. Cordy flicked them a glance, then nodded to the girl, smiling.

“Go nuts. Do ’em both.” She suggested lightly.

“Ooo. Yeah. Okay. Like the green guy said: you’re my guide.” The blonde grinned then looked again at the music menu she was holding. Cordy walked back over to the guys.

“Hey, hold up. Just so we’re on the same page. When we find this vampire cult, we are gonna kill ’em, right?” Gunn asked for reassurance, with just the right amount of sarcasm lacing his tone as he pointedly glared at the blonde.

“Let’s do it.” Wesley replied shortly as he turned to leave the club.

***

The two men, the Vampire and the Seer walked along the sidewalk. To Cordy’s irritation, Angel purposefully walked next to her, practically rubbing shoulders with her. She was so angry she almost missed the fact that someone had joined them and was walking directly behind her. Stopping abruptly, she turned around.

“Harmony?” The others stopped too, and walked back staring silently at the young female Vampire with irritation.

“I just got it. He said, stick with you. I understand now where my place is.” Harmony explained to Cordy, smiling widely. Angel looked over at Gunn and Wesley, confusion replacing annoyance.

“Where?” Cordy folded her arms, wondering what was going on in her bubble-headed friend’s head.

“With you! I’m one of the good guys now.” After gaping for a second, Cordy was struck by an idea. Hooking an arm through the blonde’s, she put her between herself and Angel and set off down the sidewalk.

Angel glared at her back darkly for a second, realizing her move, and also realizing he wouldn’t be able to walk on her other side as she was already walking close to the curb. Growling under his breath, he caught up and contented himself with walking directly behind her silently. His mouth turned up in a grim smile at the sight of her slim shoulders tensing under his intent gaze.

Yes, he’d gone too far earlier – but he was sick and tired of the constant blame and accusing looks/words. He knew Wesley and Gunn still had their reservations where he was concerned, but, dammit! What else was he supposed to do to show her how much he regretted throwing away her friendship for those months – stake himself in front of her?

Cordy shivered, aware of how close he was to her – if he’d breathed she was 100% certain his breath would have been blowing against her nape! Could he get any closer? A little Demon in her was tempted to come to an abrupt halt and ‘accidentally’ elbow him as the sharp heels of the boots she’d changed into also pierced his foot. Prudently, she decided against such an action – her verbal assault seemed to cause much more damage – she hoped! …

***

Cordy piled into the back of Angel’s Plymouth with Gunn and Harmony, making sure she sat directly behind the oppressively silent Vampire – although he’d be able to see her through the mirror, it helped that she wouldn’t be able to see himglaring at her. She had no doubts at all of what the expression in those telling eyes would be – they’d burned into the back of her head all the way to his car. But she kept her face averted anyway.

Angel glanced in his mirror as he pulled away, seeing her cool profile and bit back the surge of renewed anger at her behavior. How long was she going to punish him for firing them? – scrap that. he thought, with a savage twist of his lips; after that spanking he gave her, he seriously doubted she’d forgive him HIS entire lifetime! –But on reflection, he grimly decided that he didn’t regret his action after all!

“Who-hoo! This is gonna be great! I am an evil fighter! That’s why I suck at being evil. I was meant to fight evil! It’s so clear to me now.” Harmony turned towards Cordy excitedly.

“Is this what it feels like to have a purpose? I mean, wow! Look at us. We’re working together. I’ve never had a job before. We can meet at the water cooler and gossip.” She hooked a hand in the crook of Cordy’s arm, squeezing it tightly; causing the brunette to catch her breath at the twinge of pain – drawing Angel’s eagle eyes at the sound.

“Harm, I’m trying to concentrate.” Cordy threw a pained smile towards the blonde then continued to check each building they drove past.

“Harmony, keep your hands to yourself – you’re hurting Cordy with that grip.” Angel had to keep the snarl out of his voice as he captured the girl’s attention: if she hurts even a hair on my woman’s head… he caught his thoughts; surprised at just how strong his possessiveness was getting when it came to Cordelia – then shrugged it off just as quickly.

After all, at the end of the day, he was a Vampire – and vampires were notoriously possessive over what – or who they considered their property; regardless how that person felt about it!

“Oh. Sorry.” Harmony instantly released Cordy’s arm and turned to Gunn, unaware of the sigh of relief her friend let out as she did so.

Cordy had to stop herself from thanking Angel, biting her lip in an effort to keep from showing some form of gratitude. Instead she resolutely kept her eyes pinned outside of the car, and away from the dark figure sitting directly in front of her – not unaware of the flexing of his shoulders at her telling silence.

“So. How long have you been fighting evil? I mean, I just started but, you know, I’ve got some moves.” Gunn rolled his eyes and also kept his eyes peeled to the right to search for ‘Red Bird’, ignoring Harmony as she continued prattling non-stop.

“Angel!” Wesley had had enough, and his last nerve was stretching out of all proportion. His fingers itched to grab a conveniently situated stake and turn the pain in his rear to dust.

“It’s your place to tell her.” Angel reminded his new Boss abruptly, keeping his eyes firmly forward. He hadn’t really expected a thank you – but it still stung.

Gradually his feelings on the unfairness of it all pushed aside his real anger and resentment of her behavior towards him. And he knew instinctively, that it could only get worse. The Demon in him reveled at the thought of increased conflict – but his Soul cried out at the whole sorry mess that was now his and Cordelia’s relationship.

“She won’t listen to me.” The Englishman spat out wretchedly.

“Welcome to my world.” Angel replied tellingly, sneaking a glance in the rear-view mirror to shoot a hot glare at the brunette’s profile, not really caring at this point that she missed it.

“That would be so funny. Oh – do we get paid vacations?” Harmony continued on, then sat up straighter to ask Wesley.

“Well, Mister Boss Man – you are in charge; well, since The Slayer’s little puppy got the axe – that’s what Cordy told me. Do we?” All eyes turned to the Seer in stunned horror.

“Stop! Stop the car. Pull over here.” Cordy yelled abruptly. She’d tuned out Harmony’s incessant prattle and had missed what she’d said – and had finally seen something similar to the image in her vision.

Angel pulled the car over instantly, quenching the rage and hurt; filing away Harmony’s last words for future ‘discussion’. They all squinted up at a sculpted phoenix decoration above a theatre marquee with the words ‘closed for repairs’ on it.

“Is that…?” he asked her shortly, keeping his tone at a normal level and pitch.

“I don’t… I’m not sure.” Cordy stared hard at the sculpture, at this moment too focused on the Mission to let her personal angst interfere with it. All of them got out of the car.

“The bird you saw was red.” Wesley reminded her, staring dubiously at the bird.

“It is. I mean; it was…” She replied, confused. This was definitely the bird, but it was grayish – not red.

“Looks more like a puke green.” Gunn added, titling his head as if changing the angle might make it change color before his eyes.

“And nothing like a duck.” Harmony shot in, folding her arms and leaning against the side of the Plymouth as she too eyed the bird.

“There’s just – something familiar.” Cordy muttered softly, not noticing Angel look over at her before walking towards the building.

“Well, we passed this place before. Maybe that’s all it is.” Gunn suggested lightly.

“Cordelia?” Wesley prompted her gently. She stared hard at it a little longer before shaking her head slowly.

“No. No, I guess it isn’t it.” She sighed and turned away from it; disappointed that it was the wrong one.

“Right – back in the car. We’ll keep… ” Wesley looked around in surprise. “Where’s Angel?” he asked – suddenly a red neon arrow sign comes to life, throwing a red glow over the bird.

“Electronics store forgot to turn on its lights.” Angel explained, appearing out of an alley running along side the store

“Ha, I told you this was it!” Cordy smiled at the others; the grin fading when hazel eyes collided with telling dark brown.
Wes and Gunn grabbed some weapons out of the trunk.

“Right. Angel, Cordelia, cover the front. Gunn and I will go around the building, see if there’s another way in.” Wesley instructed as he handed out weapons.

“What about me? What’s my job?” Harmony asked in a whining voice that grated on everyone’s nerves.

“Uhm… Guard the car.” Wesley flinched and backed away.

“You got it, boss! Harmony grinned and sat on the edge of the hood. “Anyone comes near this car, I will rips his throat out.” Everyone’s mouth dropped open in reaction to her casually spoken words.

“No. No killing.” Wesley stuttered, stepping forward again.

“Oh. Okay, maiming only.” She agreed lightly.

“No!” Wes and Cordy shouted together in shock.

“Hey. Can we yell a little louder? I’m not sure the crazed cult of vampires heard us sneaking up on them.” Gunn reminded them sharply, swinging his axe loosely and glancing around the deserted street.

“Just go. I’ll talk to her.” Cordy sighed heavily in exasperation.

Wes and Gunn moved off, and she walked towards Harmony – only to have Angel grab hold of her elbow and pull her over to him, away from the blonde.

“Hey! Touching! With the hands.” Cordy struggled to pull her arm out of his firm grasp, her other hand pushing at the hard broad chest inches from her face. His hand tightened slightly before releasing her, but continued to loom over her. Cordy took a step back, and came up against a wall of a building.

“You know, I’ve tried not to say anything more.” Angel took a deep unneeded breath before continuing. The way she shrunk away from him every time her stood close to her was really pissing him off, or maybe it was the painful constriction it caused in his chest that was pissing him off.

“I’ve tried to take a step back and just let things sort themselves out, but – Harmony cannot work with us.” Cordy’s mouth dropped open at his words.

“Take a step back? Do you call what you did to me, taking steps back? Fuck you, Angel!” she practically snarled at him – to find her pathetic attempt at animalistic sounds overshadowed by his answering growl of anger.

“Don’t tempt me!” he hemmed her against the wall, and his face was so close to her own she felt the cool expelling of breath against her mouth. They eyeballed each other for a long minute, until Cordy decided that now was not the time to read into what he’d said with such threatening clarity.

Leaning her head against the wall to put a little more space between them, Cordy sighed, and decided to play this one placatory, anything else was just too explosive right then – plus she wasn’t too sure if Harmony could hear their low, heated conversation.

“Look – it’s just temporary. I mean, look at her. She’s really loving this. Giving her a reason to go on.” Her wary eyes flicked his tight face, finding him staring at her with a dark unreadable expression. She held her breath – letting it out quietly when he stepped back a little.

“I don’t want her to go on. Neither should you. – She’s the enemy.” He finally replied. Fine. She wanted to back off; he’d let her – for now!

“Now you sound like Wesley.” She didn’t bother to remind him of his own words earlier; there was no need.

“Because he’s right. – Harmony will turn on you.” He again reiterated. What would it take for her to understand the difference between himself and a Soulless Demon?

He ignored the not-so silent taunt of how his own behavior had been far from unthreatening. Cordy looked over to where Harmony was still leaning against the hood of the car, then turned her eyes back on him.

“Why? Because you did?” She curled her lip, and Angel took another step back: now was not the time…he could wait.

“Because it’s her nature. She’s a vampire.” He bit out harshly.

“So are you.” Cordy knew they were only repeating an argument they’d already had, but she couldn’t stop herself from doing it. All the nights she’d cried herself to sleep because of what he’d done to them – her; and, yes, she still had issues about it, God Dammit!

“She doesn’t have a soul.” Angel gritted his teeth. She wanted to do this again? He carried on even though it tore at his heart just that little bit more – as a part of him still hoped to hear her say something different this time. He was disappointed.

That one again? You still think you’re better than her because you have a soul – after what you did?” she reiterated snippily. Angel remained silent, just watching her intently. She couldn’t read his expression, and didn’t bother to try – she was on a roll, and even if he wasn’t prepared to defend himself – well, that was just tough!

“I noticed yours didn’t get in the way of betraying the people who worked with you, who cared about you.” She added harshly. Cordy had no problem reading the rage that literally poured out of every pore of his body this time.

“I never…” Angel’s head reared at that one, taking a step forward. The way Cordy spoke was as if he’d fallen off some pedestal she’d put him on – what did she think he was – a fucking saint?

And you know, you didn’t just betray me, Angel. You didn’t just hurt me. You gave away my clothes.” She cut in, and the hurt in her voice cut him to the quick.

“To the needy.” He defended weakly, easing back as a knot of pain built in his gut at her wounded expression. At the time he hadn’t really thought about it – too intent on inveigling himself into Anne’s world at the Shelter to think of the ramifications of giving away items of clothing his Seer had left behind.

“I am the needy! I’m not Queen C with a Gold Card anymore – or had you forgotten that just as quickly as you forgot we were friends – family? – Pfft!” before he could reply, Cordy moved forward and poked him hard in the chest.

“Do you know how scared I was you were on you’re way to becoming Angelus again? Imagine what could have happened if you’d gone nuts and slept with Darla.” He didn’t have to imagine – she would have been first on Angelus’ To-Do list; and death would have been a long time coming, with what Angelus would have had planned for her!

“You know I would never do that…” Angel lied quietly, not meeting her eyes: The guilt came rushing back. if ever she found out about that night, he knew he might as well kiss even their association goodbye. He didn’t even try to argue with the inner voice scoffing at the thought of him letting her go again, knowing it wouldn’t be an option – regardless of her feelings.

“Well, thank God for small mercies – you were jonesing over her enough to probably have done it – if not for your ‘Epiphany'” she snorted in disdain – then twisted the knife a little more.

“Never forget that I’m only here for Wesley, Gunn and the Mission. So leave me the fuck alone!” Cordy got in his face and stifled the shiver that slid down her spine at the burning fury in those gold tinted irises.

Angel stopped himself from grabbing her only because of the sudden return of Gunn and Wesley. Cordy breathed a silent sigh of relief as he moved away from her, thanking God for the men’s interruption. She hadn’t missed the calculating look that had crossed his face as he’d eyed the alley inches away from where they stood.

“Building’s shut tight. No way to see what’s inside.” Gunn informed angel as the Vampire stepped towards them.

“Or how many.” Wesley added, shooting a curious look towards Cordy as she pushed away from the wall to walk over to Harmony, who was totally immersed in admiring the bubblegum pink varnish on her long nails.

“Okay, You know what, I’ll go in, uh, pretend like I want to join, get a head count, lay of the land.” Angel concentrated with difficulty, painfully aware of the brunette’s rigid back pointedly facing him.

He’d been so close to dragging her into that dark alley and teaching her a lesson she wouldn’t forget in a hurry, and he couldn’t push down the resentment at being interrupted. Shaking his head roughly, he pulled himself together and made ready for any battle they may have to face.

“Come on, Man. You’d get made ten feet from the door. Too many night crawlers in this town know what you look like.” Gunn reminded him pointedly.

“Some can sense your soul.” Wes added seriously.

“Right.” Angel had to agree. Thing weren’t looking too good at all.

“Harmony!” Cordy’s exclamation had them all turning to face her, including the girl in question.

“Yeah?” she smiled; the boredom she’d been feeling sliding away rapidly.

“She doesn’t have a soul and nobody knows her here. She could be our inside spy. Tell us what’s the what.” Cordy returned her friends smile excitedly. She’d show Angel just how wrong he was, she thought angrily.
“Me?” The smile wavered then disappeared, uncertainty taking over.

“Out of the question.” Wesley instantly disagreed, frowning darkly at the blonde.

“I got a bad feeling about this.” Gunn added his two cents worth too. Angel remained silent, not completely unaware of what Cordy was up to.

“Come on. I know she can do this.” She turned to Harmony. “You can do this, right?” she wheedled gently.

“Well, – I kind of thought I’d start out with some light typing, car guarding, something low pressure?” Harmony bit her lip nervously.

“This is the chance you needed. To find a purpose.” Cordy turned on her megawatt smile and grabbed Harmony’s hands in her own.

“But I thought I had purpose guarding the” Harmony took a deep breath, and then smiled back.

“Yeah. Okay. I wanna do this.” She finally agreed, almost bouncing up and down in excitement now she’d made up her mind. At last! A chance to prove she was more than a dumb blonde Vampire that another dumb blonde Vampire had called her!

“Alright Harmony. You’re on.” Wesley finally agreed, sighing heavily, and knowing her was going to probably regret it for a very long time.

“Watch out Evil” Harmony smiled at Cordy before morphing into her Game Face. “Here comes Harmony.” She strode towards the theatre.

“Hey. We’ll meet you out back!” Cordy called after her…

Part 5

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