Title: What We Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Us
Author: ficbitch82 (aka angelicgal82)
Content: A/C (who else)
Summary: Following a visit from a member of the Council, things are revealed about Wesley’s past and a new threat to the Fang Gang and everything they hold dear is unveiled, reminding them that the past doesn’t stay dead when you bury it.
Spoilers: This fic is set Pre-Pylea – so everything after Angel’s dark “Beige Period”… Uhm… spoiler for Dead End, pre-Belonging.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know where it’s going.
Dedication: To Penny, Florrie, Aya and all the other people who make the wonderful Stranger Things a HUGE part of my Purple-Heavenous life… (Is Heavenous even a word? lol…) You guys are the greatest!
“God, I wish there were more girls around here.” Said Cordelia, sighing for the hundredth time that day. She sat, her legs draped over the edge of the chair in her expensive-looking but not costing sandals and tapping her feet mindlessly to a tune that drummed in her head. One she’d ironically heard on the radio that morning while getting up to go to work. Again. It wasn’t that she was bored or anything, it was just… Harmony being here had showed Cordelia that she missed the simple company of a woman. Someone’s toe-nails to paint… Someone to laugh at the in-jokes about the whole period thing… Granted, at times she could use a good whine about the vision pain but, Phantom Dennis provided a good sounding board (and an ice pack) for those troubles, for which Cordelia Chase was eternally grateful. Sure, Harmony was evil, but she’d been a good friend back in the day and now, Cordelia was left wanting the company of a friend… A girlfriend.
“Hey, I know,” Said Gunn, “Why don’t we invite your friend Harmony to stay again? Now that was my idea of fun…”
Scowling, Cordelia tossed the magazine she’d been reading across the room, missing Gunn’s head by an inch, “Funny,” She frowned, “I’m serious. I’m tired of there only being guys around here… I’m outnumbered… And if any of you would actually dare doing it, you could effectively outvote me on some important, life-changing decision.”
“Ah, but would you actually do what we outvoted you on?” Asked Wesley, rationally.
“Well no, but…”
“Well then!” He said with a smile.
“Who died and made you Logic Boy? I’m having a crisis here and you guys are just… Joking around!”
“Morning!” Angel’s voice floated down the stairs ahead of him as he entered the lobby of the Hyperion, picking up the paper. “Nooo,” Said Cordelia, “That would be sundown. You slept. Most of the day away. Again.”
“I’m a vampire!” Said Angel, nervously, “And besides, who kept me up until eight this morning telling me how great it would be to have another woman around here to talk to?”
“Seems to me like you have all the woman you need over there in Angel…” Observed Wesley, casually, “I’ve noticed that these after-hours talks of yours have gotten more frequent as of late…”
“You’re calling me a woman?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Asked Cordelia, frowning.
“He’s calling me a woman!”
“Get over it!” Said Cordelia, “He’s not a woman. Whatever his taste in clothes may suggest… And anyway, so I can talk to Angel, big deal! That might be on account of his lack of being here over the past few months.”
Angel’s face fell at that, making Cordelia sigh, “I need someone to… To shop with! To bitch to when you guys are annoying me! I need someone to let me paint their toenails!”
“Nuh-uh, no way and also NO…” Said Gunn, “I am NOT letting you paint my toe-nails, no matter how much you beg.”
“It was a metaphor, dumbass…” Cordelia sighed and got up from her seat, grabbing hold of her purse, “I think I’ll go shopping, look at the things I want to buy but can never afford on my pittance here and watch as happy friend-shipped girlie couples walk down the street, holding hands…”
“Can I join you?” Asked Gunn, teasingly.
“Bite me!” Tossed the brunette over her shoulder as she left the hotel.
* * * * *
“I think she’s lonely.” Said Wesley softly, “Having Harmony here can only have aided in the sense that Cordelia has no one of her own age and certainly, her own frame of mind to turn to.”
“She has us…” Said Angel, “Shouldn’t that be enough?”
For all the things Angel was… Good, noble, strong, caring, loving… All of that – at times he could be rather blind to what was right in front of his nose. “Happy with us she is, Angel. But she lacks a female friend, one she can turn to throughout anything. With us she has a 250 year old vampire…”
“248 year old vampire!” Said Angel indignantly, “I’m not that old…”
“Fine.” Said Wesley, “With us she has a 248 year old vampire, a tough, streetwise kid and a ruggedly handsome ex-watcher…”
“Ruggedly handsome? English, are you trippin’?” Asked Gunn, shaking his head, “Now the ruggedly handsome tough, streetwise kid I’d buy…”
“Hey, what’s wrong with the strangely alluring, sometimes brooding ensouled vampire?”
Just before the full-scale argument broke out, a knock came at the door. A tweed-clad man with a briefcase stepped inside, “Excuse me, I was told I’d find a Mr. Wyndham-Pryce here, is that true?”
Wesley stood immediately, thinking first and foremost about his parents, wondering if some tragic incident had befallen them, his heart trip-hammering in his chest. “Yes?”
“Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, would it be possible to speak with you for a moment, alone?” Asked the man, pointedly. “Official Council business…”
The frown was on Wesley’s face quicker than he could blink, “I’m afraid not. The Council and I haven’t had dealings in a very long time, it would be best if you’d turn round and leave…”
“Sir, I’m assured that this you’ll need to hear.” Said the man, shuffling nervously in front of the vampire, there was talk rife among the Watcher’s Council that Wesley had reverted to the ‘other side’ aiding the vampire, releasing the rogue slayer, the list was endless. Still, that didn’t mean that the brit hadn’t served his purpose back in the day and this was important.
Acquiescing with a sigh, Wesley gestured to the office, “We’ll talk in there then?”
* * * * * *
“Oh, I would *kill* to live in LA, that close to that many shoes?”
Cordelia frowned. Evil just compounded evil. Right now, she lived that close to that many shoes and on her pittance of her wage from Angel Investigations… She could afford to live, quite comfortably in fact. She could afford to look half-way decent every day but… Oohhh, those Neiman Marcus shoes in the window would look SOOO right on her! Strappy, little wide on the heel, black – being the new black – was THE perfect colour and she couldn’t afford them. They weren’t a *little* out of her price range. They were so far out of her price range that even back in the day, Daddy would have balked at the charge on his card for them.
Cordelia sighed, “Who needs those shoes anyway?”
“You by the looks of things,” Said a voice, laughing from behind her.
Cordelia turned to see and auburn haired girl standing, laughing at her, “Oh, I’m sorry – does my pain strike you as amusing?” She asked, coldly.
Chuckling, the girl shook her head, “No, it’s not that – you just… You were looking so desperate for those shoes, then you turn away and you’re… Who needs those shoes anyway, girl… Sorry, I just know that’s an exact replica of me for the same shoes in pink. On my pittance of a wage, I can always dream that the Neiman Marcus Shoe Fairy’s gonna drop them right in the bottom of my closet…” She offered with a smile.
Okay so her colouring was a little off. Pink in those shoes with her hair colour could clash depending on the tone but… The girl seemed kinda nice. Cordelia smiled herself and extended a hand, “Hi, I’m Cordelia. Cordelia Chase.”
“I’m Kelsi.” Smiled the girl, “Kelsi Leoni… And it’s nice to meet you, Cordelia Chase.”
“Likewise.” Replied Cordelia, nodding, “So uh… Do you wanna go look at more things we can’t afford? Or are you content to stay here and risk drooling over the fall collection that’s over in that corner.”
“Coffee,” Suggested Kelsi with a laugh, “How about a coffee?”
“Gotta be better than the one I made this morning,” Said Cordelia, smiling, “Lead on.”
* * * * *
“And you’re certain that it’s her?” Asked Wesley, quietly, his gaze drifting out into the lobby. His friends stood, talking about something and Wesley knew for certain that he’d have to tell them, have to let them know what was going on, what had gone before, what would come. “You’re sure you haven’t got the wrong girl?”
“Look at the signs,” Said Scott, the rather pompous Watcher from back in England, “You know what it is… What’s to come and yet you won’t accept it. She’s back. She wants revenge.”
“And she’ll take that revenge on the people that don’t bloody deserve it, like my friends,” He frowned, “She’s already started on the people that do, the people that forced her into this barbaric rite of passage that no person should ever be forced to endure.”
“It’s a time…”
“A time honoured rite of bloody passage that must be adhered to. Save it.” Said Wesley coldly, “I’ve heard this.”
Scott frowned, he’d been told to inform the ex-Watcher, aid him as best as possible – not put up with abuse. “Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, with all due respect, I made the trip down here to help you in any way I could. I don’t appreciate being talked to in such a fashion…”
“Tell me something,” Said Wesley, “Have you had a Slayer? Have you faced a vampire in anything other than controlled conditions? Stopped an apocalypse, perhaps? Lost someone you hold dear?”
The pause was enough to make Wesley continue, “Didn’t think so. The council are, put bluntly, a bunch of wankers who don’t know the first thing about the war they wage but don’t fight. Instead, they call judgement upon me for working with a vampire when in all actual fact I’ve done more good working for this vampire than I did in my whole time with the Council…”
“Well that would be right, wouldn’t it? Considering the fate of your first charge?” Asked Scott, pompously.
Wesley’s gaze darkened, “I think perhaps it’s time you left. Take your help, useless though it was and get the hell out.”
Scott stood, hurriedly and hastened in his retreat, leaving his file sitting on the desk of Wesley’s newly-acquired office. As he bumbled his way past Gunn and Angel, Wesley stepped into the main foyer of the hotel and sighed, “There’s something I have to tell you.” He said quietly.
“Is this a ‘we need to talk’ speech? ‘Cause I don’t think I could handle you breakin’ up with me right now,” Joked Gunn. Then, the smile slid off his face, “Wes, what is it?”
“I’m afraid it’s rather grave…” Said Wesley quietly. For a second, there was silence. For a second, nothing was said. Thinking of the best way to word what he was about to say, Wesley was rewarded by the broken, bloody body of John Scott, now deceased member of the Watcher’s Council being tossed back through the door, briefcase and all.
“Yes,” Said Wesley, “Rather grave indeed.”
“I used to live in a little town called Sunnydale but… I like to repress.” Said Cordelia, “It was awful… A one Starbucks town, I hated it.”
“Sunnydale?” Kelsi’s eyebrows shot up, “Wow! I know that place!”
Cordelia frowned, “I see its reputation exceeds its homely stature…”
“No,” Laughed the other girl, shaking her head, auburn curls bouncing softly around her face, “I went to UC Sunnydale for a couple of months, nothing heavy, just to take a little… Side course, sorta…”
“I’m so sorry,” Said Cordelia with a grin, “That must have been hell for you…” Hell being the operative word, She thought, dryly.
“Nah, it wasn’t so bad, the night life kinda sucked… There was only this one place that actually had any potential – you probably know it, having lived there and all… The Bronze?”
Tossing her Styrofoam cup into the bin, Cordelia nodded, “Yeah, the Bronze – God, we used to go there every night! When were you there, in Sunnydale I mean?”
“A couple of years ago, not too long. Long enough, I’d say though… My Uncle used to live down there… Until he… Well, that reputation you talked about? Kinda caught up with him…”
This time, Cordelia’s voice was sincere, “Oh, I’m so sorry…” She said softly, “What did your uncle do?”
“Librarian, stuffy, kinda cute if you’re into that sort of thing…” She smiled, “But generally a good guy.”
Ironically, Cordelia thought of Giles – librarian who, okay, was kinda cute, sort of… But then, he wasn’t dead. Then, her thoughts tripped to Wesley and Cordelia was put into a weird, scary place of where Wesley was cute. This was Wesley! Sure they’d kissed and she’d felt the burgeonings of a growing attraction but… Hello, Wesley! Shaking herself, both mentally and physically, Cordelia smiled, “Believe me, I know the stuffiness of a good man…” She said teasingly, “He’s a good guy too but sometimes he could do with lighting up a little…”
“What do you do, Cordelia?” Asked Kelsi, genuinely intrigued.
“Office Manager on a pittance of a wage, I work for a PI…”
“Yeah, y’know, Private Investigator… He’s pretty good at what he does, a bit of a dork at times but… I’ve known him for so long it doesn’t even seem to register when he’s in Dork Angel mode now…”
“Dork Angel mode?” Kelsi laughed, “Sounds like fun…”
“Yeah, well – after a few months of him having uhm… Issues, I guess it’s better than nothing.” She shrugged, “Honestly, he worries too much, we have this sort of…” Cordelia stopped, winced once and screamed as the vision knocked her to the floor. It was like a thousand hot pokers stabbing her between the eyes and the pictures… Oh holy God the pictures… Everything switched to surround sound and Cordelia cried out, her body twisting painfully on the floor of the shopping mall, Kelsi standing back in something akin to abject horror. “Cordelia! Cordelia, what’s wrong?”
Cordelia never heard. When the vision ended, she was left with a group of people standing looking at her like she were crazy and lets face it, if she’d seen anyone in the throes of a ‘vision’ when she’d been out shopping, she’d have thought they were crazy too. “Cordelia, are you alright?” Her face was pale, almost like she’d been crying but not quite. Her eyes looked haunted by something Kelsi couldn’t quite pinpoint, “Oh God, are you okay? What was that?”
“Uh… Nothing, just… I need to uhm… Go to the bathroom, wait here or… Feel free to run in horror…” She said, hand-walking her way to the huge communal bathrooms. When she got there, she locked the door behind her and flipped open her cellphone, “Come on, Angel… Pick up…”
The shrill sound of the telephone cut through the hotel like a knife – Angel and Gunn on edge from what Wesley was certainly about to say but hadn’t quite gotten round to it.
“What’s wrong?” His voice was immediately placating, having a calming effect on the vision-after effects, but not much of a one. “What did you see?”
“Wesley,” She whispered, “I saw Wesley and… And a girl, Angel she’s coming after him. It isn’t today but…”
“Where are you?”
“In a bathroom in the mall, GOD that was embarassing, Angel, people SAW me! People saw me drool! I don’t drool!” She whispered into the receiver, “I’d actually made a friend too, I’d like to bet she’s gone now…”
“You made a friend?” Asked Angel, instantly suspicious, “Who?”
“A girl… Called Kelsi, she was nice. Angel, stop being so melodramatic, not everything’s all darkness and back-stabby, y’know…” She frowned, God he was so panicky! He should be thankful she was making a friend! That might at least stop the late-night-talks that had gotten more frequent, according to Wesley.
“I know,” Said Angel, gently, “I just worry about you.”
Great, now he had her feeling all mean and everything! As if the vision hangover wasn’t bad enough. Sighing, Cordelia shook her head (even though he couldn’t see it), “You dont’ need to worry, okay? I’ll… I’ll be home shortly, can’t see this shopping trip lasting much longer, not with this vision-brain, I got going on right now. Do you need blood?”
This last question, struck Angel as amusing – a few month ago back in Sunnydale and the mere sight of Angel’s liquid diet would have brought an ‘eww’ ringing from the brunette’s lips, now though, she didn’t seem to mind – had actually tried to ‘liven’ his diet up with a little cinnamon. Angel shuddered, ah but for the grace of fresh pigs blood – without lumps in. “No Cordelia,” Said the ensouled vampire softly, “I don’t need anything, just you.”
Smiling slightly, Cordelia shook her head, “Just me, huh?” She asked, “Well, in a few minutes, you’ll be getting me. Plus shopping bags.”
“I thought I only paid you a pittance!” Said Angel, indignantly.
“Hey, a girl’s gotta shop somehow! Didn’t you learn anything in your 250 years of unlife?”
“248!” Said Angel, a hurt tone stinging his voice, “I’m not 250 yet!”
“Whatever,” Laughed Cordelia, “The only guy in the world who’s actually worried about his age when he’s been witness to a bicentennial and I hook up with him…”
The click of the phone left Angel with a smile and standing, Cordelia worked her way out of the bathroom to where Kelsi still stood. “You’re still here?” Asked the brunette, puzzled. She’d have thought Kelsi would have bolted at the first sign of vision brain.
Instead, she ignored the question, “Are you okay? God, I was so worried! You don’t… You don’t look too good.”
Well wasn’t that the understatement of the year? Cordelia smiled, “Yeah, I’m fine, but I gotta go uhm… Headache, y’know?” Watching as Kelsi’s face got the look that Angel’s did, she was taken aback. “Hey, I’m okay…”
“I’ll take you home.” Said Kelsi, “You can’t go alone, not after that.”
“I’m fine,” Cordelia lied, “I’ll be fine.”
“Listen, my car is parked right outside the mall, it’ll take me what, fifteen minutes, providing you’re not going back to your roots of Sunnydale of course…” She smiled.
“I wouldn’t if offered if I wasn’t,” Said Kelsi, “Come on.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Is Cordelia alright?” Wesley’s voice broke the silence that had reigned the hotel since the body had been tossed back inside. Angel had checked the area, of course, it now being sundown – but to no avail, he’d found nothing… Much to Wesley’s silent relief. Not that he wanted Scott dead, or even hurt – too late though it was now. But more to the fact that he wanted the opportunity to tell his friends what was going on before someone or something else did.
Angel shook his head, “Cordelia saw you, Wes. A girl, coming after you – what’s going on?”
Rubbing a hand tiredly over his face, Wesley realised that keeping secrets from your friends was not only bad but detrimental. This was something he’d managed to keep to himself for the longest of times, not only at the request of the Council, but also because of the sense of shame that burned deep within him. Sighing, Wesley began, “You know that before I came to Sunnydale, I worked for the Council.” He said quietly.
Angel shot Gunn a look but said nothing, let the ex-Watcher continue the story that would, unbeknownst to him, mould and shape the next few hours of his life or unlife as the case was. “I was assigned to Sunnydale, under the pretense of Buffy and Faith being my first slayers. They were not. My first slayer was a girl, no more than 17. She was called when the previous died, as goes the line. Buffy would be the one to take over from her,” He said softly, “On the night of her eighteenth birthday, after spending one year with my slayer, I was contacted by the Council. She was to take part in something called the Cruciamentum. I’d… Hypnotize her with the use of crystals, inject her with something that would weaken her defenses… Take out the Slayer, if you will, leave only the girl.”
If he was honest, Angel knew where this was going. He remembered the Cruciamentum first time round, with Buffy, remembered what it had done to her, what it had done to Giles. From what had happened and the way Wesley’s hands were shaking, this hadn’t ended good for any concerned.
“She was locked in an old, ramshackle house with a vampire.” Said Wesley quietly, “By all accounts, my slayer fought well – outwitted the vampire at first… Then, something happened. No one was ever sure what. My Slayer was turned by the vampire she was confined with. She died that night and her soul was taken.” Looking up, directly at Angel, Wesley sighed, “I’m not sure if you know what happens when a Slayer is turned…”
“Her soul, doesn’t flee the body. It stays, only… Not to do good. The soul is broken. It turns dark. Like it or not, she has succumbed to the thing that she faces every night. I killed the vampire, avenged my Slayer’s death. She was never found again…”
“Until now.” Said Angel, quietly. “Wes, we never knew… I…”
“That was the way it was supposed to happen,” Said the ex-Watcher quietly, “I was sent to Giles, not only to watch over Buffy and Faith in official position as Watcher, but so that Giles could aid me in my duties as Watcher, oversee what I was doing. Perhaps even keep an eye on me. They knew Giles wouldn’t leave Sunnydale or Buffy behind, they placed me there knowing that even if it was only a little, I was getting help. I was being supervised.”
“No,” Wesley shook his head, running a hand through his hair, “As far as everyone was concerned, Buffy and Faith were my first charges. Going to Sunnydale was a chance to prove myself, not only to the Council, nor to my father, but to myself. I’d failed my Slayer in the worst possible way – in effect, I’d been the one who’d killed her, made her what she was, if you will. I needed the chance to do good again. After it happened, I worked in the offices of the Council for a while and then, talk of Giles and what had happened during Buffy’s Cruciamentum began. Quentin Travers approached me himself, told me that I was to go to Sunnydale, act as Watcher for the two current Slayers and never speak of what had happened, as was the previous arrangement. The Council had made a mistake, they were eager to cover it up.”
Gunn looked at him, really looked at him. The guy was shaking, this was big. “You never told anyone about this?”
“No-one.” Said Wesley, “My parents knew… At least my father did, that something had happened but he never knew the extent. In his eyes, I’d been demoted from Official Watcher to… Office Boy, General Dogsbody.” He said, bitterly. “In a way, I suppose I jumped at the chance to take Buffy and Faith under my wing, try to prove to him that I wasn’t the failure he thought I was…”
Letting out a breath of air he wasn’t aware he’d been holding in, Wesley sighed, “And now, she wants revenge. What sparked it all off right now, I’m not sure, but she’s killed and she will again before she gets to the thing she wants most. Me.” In silence, he went into the office, picked the folder up off the desk and returned, handing it to Angel.
“What sparked it off?” Said Gunn, “Wes, the Council killed her – I think I’d be pretty pissed myself…”
“Well there had to be a chain of events that… Wait, you said the Council.” He said quietly.
“That’s because you’re not to blame in all of this,” Said Angel, calmly, thumbing through the manilla folder the dead Council member had brought Wesley, “You did what you were supposed to. Any other kind of situation, this could have been Giles.”
Wesley, taken aback by this, stood, his mouth open, “But…”
“Hey, the guy’s gotta make sense sometime.” Said Gunn with a small, but not forced, smile. Standing near Angel, he winced, “This chick’s got some serious rage, huh?” He asked, glancing down at the photos. He imagined the Council members in the photos hadn’t realised what was coming. Scorch marks adorned their body, apparently, she was into the Five-Basic-Torture-Groups – as seen in the evidence they’d been provided. “Don’t look like any kind of human could ever do that…”
“She has all the powers of a Slayer, combined with all the powers of a vampire,” Said Angel, shaking his head.
“So what? That ranks her high in the ‘kinda-unkillable-stakes’?” Asked Gunn.
“No, but you’re not far off…” Said Wesley, quietly, “I’d imagine she’s a match, even for Angel…”
“Plus, if Cordelia had a vision about this and it’s happening soon? We’re gonna need a plan, right?”
“We need a plan for what?” Her voice drifted from the staircase, where she stood at the door, Kelsi at her side.
“Oh God…” When Angel turned, Wesley’s face had paled, considerably.
Kelsi smiled, “Hello, Uncle…”
Okay something was going on! Sometimes, she might be clueless as to… Well, some things but she wasn’t a complete dumbass. “Wait, you said your Uncle was dead!” Said Cordelia, indignantly, “You two know each other?”
“I rather think so,” Said Wesley quietly, “Angel, Gunn – meet my Slayer.”