AUTHOR: FICBITCH82 (aka Christie)
SUMMARY: Challenge given to me one year ago by Kel (starlet2367). How about a post-ep to Heartthrob? The crew goes off the kill Nestor demons in Hancock park and then…? Simple, short, sweet, fun. There must be darts in a pub, Angel patching up Cordy’s wounds and Cordy losing the necklace Angel gave her. You decide if they find it again. 🙂
POSTED: 3 Nov 2005
CATEGORY: None listed
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A Friendship – Everything up to Heartthrob, S3
WARNINGS: None Listed
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
1) Dedication: To Kel for the wonderful challenge and to Califi, who asked for some C/A fic. This is about as C/A as it gets—Without the smoochies, of course.
“Well, where was the last place you had it?” Asked Wesley, spreading his palms upwards as if that were the exact comment she’d wanted to hear right now.
Cordelia had had enough. Aside from wanting to declare that as the single most unhelpful comment on the planet, she’d had enough of the three men in her life – namely Gunn, Wes and Angel – who were standing around looking about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.
She stopped upturning the cushions on the sofa long enough to glare at Wesley. “Why do people ask that?” She asked, shaking her head, “I mean, seriously, if I knew where the last place I had it was, would I really still be looking?”
“I’m just trying to be helpful, Cordelia.” He frowned.
It was good that he was trying to be helpful, really it was. Usually, if Cordelia lost something, she was left to God and good nature to find it. They didn’t usually interrupt her tirades until the books she was throwing mid-search skimmed their heads.
“I know that,” she yanked another cushion upwards, “But I can’t find it. And now it’s starting to bug the crap out of me.”
Sighing, Wesley looked at her, “It’s just a necklace, Cordelia, honestly.”
“Just a necklace… Just a necklace?” She repeated. Before Mr. Condescending could even move, Cordelia had made a grab for his dagger, aptly left lying on the small table next to the ottoman. “Oh, well would you just look at this. Wesley’s 16th century Persian Dynasty–”
“That’s Murshan,” he corrected, looking rather nervous, “And will you watch what you’re doing with it? It’s very–Cordelia!” He shrieked, watching wide-eyed as his precious dagger went crashing down into a sofa cushion.
“Persian, Murshan, whatever dork boy,” Cordelia smirked, taking the dagger from the cushion and bringing a flurry of feathers up with it, “Now tell me that my necklace is just a necklace, pansy ass.”
“Excuse me but my ass is NOT pansy, as I believe we’ve covered,” Wesley huffed, taking the dagger from Cordelia’s grasp when she offered it out, checking it over with the carefulness and precision of someone who spent way too much time looking at those things anyway, “And unlike a necklace, this dagger is–”
“Blah, blah, bliddy blah.” Cordelia waved him off with a hand, “Look, I’m not saying that my necklace is important to YOU, but to me? It has significant value.”
“Sentimental you mean?” He asked, looking at her.
“Whatever,” she frowned, “The point is? I want it back. And to get it back I have to find it. Now.” She turned to look at Angel who’d been watching this exchange with a half-bemused look, pinning him with her gaze. “Can’t you, like, use your vampire senses to sniff it out or whatever?”
“I’m not a sniffer dog, Cordelia,” said Angel, though he smiled. “Did you check your room?”
“Well aren’t YOU guys just all sorts of useful tonight? Of course I checked my–Ah-ha!” She grinned triumphantly, yanking her arm out from underneath the couch, “I found it! I– Ewww!”
She recognised the thing immediately. A contraption devised by Wesley to behead demons, made up of fish wire and other parts that Cordelia so didn’t want to know about. “Damnit, Wesley!” She yelled, tossing it across the room, “God knows how many times you’ve used that thing. I probably have demon neck all over my fingers.”
“Givin’ a new term to the word necklace, huh?” Gunn quipped, promptly moving when Cordelia cut a glare in his direction. “What? I was just sayin’…”
“Well don’t ‘just say’,” she huffed, “I want my necklace!”
Angel, deciding that this was starting to get out of hand, pushed himself away from the wall he’d been leaning on, “I could always buy you another one.”
Cordelia glanced up at him, folding her arms across her chest, “Buy me another one?”
“So you’re going to travel back over, like, nine billion miles just to get me another necklace?” Yeah, right. She had more chance of Jude Law streaking across the hotel naked… And whoo-boy, didn’t that produce some images?
Angel thought about that for a moment, mistaking the dreamy look on her face for slight boredom or the look that bordered on annoyance. “It has to be the same necklace?”
Jeez, thought Cordelia, mentally wincing as naked Jude Law escaped her clutches, did they understand anything round here? “Angel, how often do you buy me stuff?”
The vampire shifted uncomfortably, looking down at the hardwood floor. The other two, true to form, did the same, scared that this was a trick question and they were about to be scolded for missing her last birthday.
Cordelia was good at that. You could be standing there talking to her about something as simple as bobby pins and all of a sudden you were being reprimanded for not buying her something on her two year anniversary of being vision girl or working for Angel Investigations or whatever other anniversary it was that week.
“I can see by your pause that it’s that long ago you don’t remember, so let me give you a little heads up” she smirked, “Darla.” Part of her, the sadistic wanting-to-make-Angel-grovel part, gave out a mini ‘yay’ as he winced. Yeah, Bucko’ll thing twice about taking that head trip again, she thought smugly.
“The last time you bought me something, minus the coffee every morning, was post-Darla. So my point, and yes, I have one in all this, is that you have never bought me a present like that. In fact, if we don’t count the clothes that your severe guilt-trip post-insano-period produced? You have never bought me a gift at all and that, dear manpire of mine, is just wrong.”
“I… But…” Angel tried, in vain, to remember a time when he had bought her something other than coffee and those clothes.
“Breathe, Angel,” she laughed, “You’re going to blow something.”
“How about we retrace your steps?” He offered, determined to help her find the necklace now, “That could help.”
“Yeah, and it could also be tedious and annoying.” Feeling mildly guilty as the wounded look flitted across Angel’s face, Cordelia conceded, he was trying at least, which was more than the other two were doing. “Okay, okay, step retracing. What did we do tonight?”
Earlier that night…
Hancock Park, at the best of times, wasn’t exactly the place to visit in LA. Filled with more homeless crazy people and weirdos than you could shake a stick at, there was really no wonder the Nester demons liked hatching here. It was like fast food on demand.
Cordelia, already peeved at the two very large grass stains on her jeans, shot a glance over at Angel who – true to brooding form – was standing there waiting. “I swear to God, these grass stains don’t come out and I’m gonna be pissed.” She murmured, heatedly, “Do the PTB know how long it took me to save up for these?”
“Cordelia,” Angel sighed, gesturing forward with the tip of his sword, “The guys are waiting.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, what are you worried about? We’re gonna catch up. You walk too fast anyway.”
I walk too fast? Angel looked at her, deliberately slowing his pace once they’d actually set off. “So where’d you guys kill the Nester’s last time?”
“Down by the water fountain. Caught ’em terrorising a bunch of kids.”
Angel frowned, “There were kids in the park after dark?”
“No, dumbass,” said Cordelia. Nester demons, though not as averse to sunlight as vampires, weren’t fond of the sun. They tended to stick to shadowy dark places so Angel could be forgiven for his misconception of there being children in the park way past their bed-time. “We had a bunch of freak weather outbursts a few weeks ago. No sun for three days. Kinda kept us busy, y’know?”
“Yuh-huh,” she nodded, “And kinda hard to shift. It was this whole big thing with the axis of the world and– And you’re looking at me really oddly right now. What?”
Angel smiled, “I heard about that. The axis of the sun, the Sorcerers of Axitul. You guys stopped that?”
“Well, duh. Do you see the sun shining?” She looked up into an impossibly black sky only to find the moon, glaring defiantly back at her. “Okay, I’ll give you that one. Time isn’t on my side, hence your not being crispy fried and all.” She said with a grin, “But yeah, that was us.”
He regarded Cordelia with another smile, impossibly proud of her, his friends, how much they’d accomplished.
“What?” She asked again.
“You guys,” said Angel, unable to drag his gaze away from her. He could remember the rich girl of Sunnydale, the proud, headstrong and completely selfish girl who had never ceased to amaze him with the way she acted. How she’d changed, how she’d grown amazed him even further. “I knew you guys would be okay when I left, but…”
“We did good.” Cordelia nodded, downplaying how much they’d actually achieved while he’d been gone, “Hell, we did great, but that doesn’t mean you can go all retreaty for another three months, Mister. You’ve got work to do.”
Her statement was backed up by the fact that they’d reached the others, effectively cutting the conversation short. Angel hmphed, realising he walked too fast even when he was trying to walk slowly, and came up beside Wesley. “What’ve we got?”
“See that wall over there?” Wesley was all business, pushing his glasses further up his nose, clutching onto his weapons like his lifeline.
“Behind that wall lies a makeshift shed used by the park for storage. Inside live five or six Nester demons. They’re not people’s homes, but I imagine they do in a pinch.”
“And this place is like an all you can eat buffet,” said Gunn, moonlight bouncing off his hairless head, “Ain’t no way they’re gonna shift on outta there.”
“Is this actually romantic?” Three pairs of eyes swivelled onto Cordelia, two puzzled, one half-bemused like they always were.
“Romantic?” Angel pressed, wondering how her brain had shifted from demon killing to romantic in a matter of seconds.
Cordelia gestured to the couple she’d been watching, walking hand in hand down one of the winding lanes that led deeper into the park, “Look at them. All loved up and happy. And in amongst enough wackos to actually make a profit from an Insano Asylum that pays well. Seriously, what kind of vibe is that? ‘Oh, honey, I love you, let’s walk in a park where we have the potential to get raped, murdered, eaten and disembowelled all in one night’, pfft!”
Angel chuckled, turning his attention back to Wesley who was busy rolling his eyes.
“I’m just saying, is all,” Cordelia went on, unaware she’d lost her audience, “Romance my patooty. Give me a guy who doesn’t talk to my boobs all night, forgives my debilitating visions spoiling only like every event we have and I’ll be happy.”
“Cordelia, can we focus please?” Asked Wesley, tersely, unaware that Angel had tensed for a multitude of reasons beside him. “The Nesters are–”
“Out already?” Angel supplied helpfully, leaping into the fray of long legged demons without as much as a look back.
The others followed seamlessly, clutching various weapons. Cordelia, for her part, held a large sword that was surprisingly light for its size. She could swing swift with that, her aim improving after all these years of fighting alongside her friends. “I’ll take the little one on the left.”
Glancing over, Angel almost smiled. They were all roughly the same size, slightly bigger than Angel, still towering above Cordelia. If that was what she called little…
The first ‘thunk’ of a demon fist hit him in the head. He’d been so busy making sure Cordelia was alright he’d gotten careless, provided the demon with a free shot.
“Okay. That hurt.” He frowned, kicking outwards at the demon legs. As a general rule, most demons were huge; especially the ones that liked to eat people. Nester demons however were they exception. What they lacked in height and general hulk, they made up for in speed, agility – and an ability to rip things to ribbons with their claws.
“Watch the claws.” He called out, ducking as a pair of said claws swooshed across his head, just skimming his hair.
He heard Cordelia mutter an expletive under her breath, watched as the claws swung down again, narrowly missing Cordelia’s torso. Spurned into action, Angel grabbed the head of the demon, using a nearby tree to gain leverage, and climbed upwards, hearing the wet snapping sound of the demons neck.
One down, five to go…
Battered, bruised, limping and very sore, Cordelia looked up at Angel from across his office, narrowing her eyes a little as he came towards her with the First Aid kit.
“Y’know, if this is how it’s gonna be when we fight? I want a raise. Or at least a medical plan that’s actually worth something.” She said, sitting down in his chair, trying not to groan. Pain. Lots of it. And this time, not just the vision variety. Usually, she managed to escape most of the fights unscathed, a couple of bruises here and there, but nothing major. Nothing like this, anyway. She’d be out of a bikini for months– If she ever had a reason to actually wear one.
That demon, despite her comment, hadn’t been the smaller of the bunch. In fact, as Cordelia had soon learned, he’d been one of the biggest. Damn hunch-backed things, making them look smaller than they were. Of course her vision hadn’t shown that. Her vision, true to PTB form, had been vague at best. Like it would kill them to send me a vision of my being scratched to hell?
Her stomach clenched involuntary, bringing a fresh deluge of blood and a frown from Angel.
“You need a hospital,” he murmured, setting the bandages and other supplies down on his desk, “I can’t…”
“You can and you are, Angel.” She told him firmly, “I’m not going to the hospital. It’s just a little scratch.”
Little? No. But Cordelia, being Cordelia, had this insane, irrational fear of all things hospital-ish. When it had started, she wasn’t sure. Back when Buffy had been fighting that Kinder Egg demon thing? Maybe. That was her first real foray into the world of wacky demons. Or maybe when Wolfram and Hart had unleashed the slew of visions that had knocked her coma.
Or maybe even the fact that visiting every other week was starting to get annoying.
She didn’t know. But her? Very not visiting the hospital, at least not tonight.
Noticing Angel hovering out the corner of her eye, Cordelia’s eyebrows shot up. “What is it?”
Okay, there was blood, so what? She’d ruined more expensive shirts than this, hadn’t she? Ohhhh, he meant– “Is this a ploy to get me naked?” She grinned, tiredly. “I know you haven’t had any in a while.”
Angel chuckled, forgetting to be embarrassed at her words, and gestured again to the shirt. “Cordy…”
“Geez, all right already.” She murmured, undoing the buttons slowly, trying not to wince, “Guy doesn’t get any for three years and the mention of a hint of breasts he’s all over me.”
She knew the wound was bad from the sharp intake of breath Angel gave. Her shirt was ruined already, her patience stretched thin at the idea of having to go buy yet another one… And yet still, Cordelia’s smile remained firmly in place whenever Angel looked up at her.
“You should have gone to the hospital.” He muttered under his breath, gently dabbing at the wound with a piece of gauze, soaking up the blood. He was probably used to her doing this for him, not the other way around.
“Is Gunn ok?” She looked through to the lobby to where he sat, holding an ice pack to his aching head. That was usually her, sitting with the icepack post-vision, wincing at every movement she made.
Cordelia fell silent, watching him. She was the most seasoned one of the group when it came to patching the others up. Not a week went by when one of them hadn’t gained a minor concussion or a great sucking head wound, a scratch from a demon or a practically severed limb.
Okay, so she was exaggerating on the severed limb part. So far they’d been lucky in that aspect. No loss of limbs yet… Go team Ang–
“Ow, hey!” Cordelia yelped as Angel dabbed a little of the antiseptic spray against her great sucking stomach wound (again with the exaggeration), glaring at him in case he dared to tell her that she berated him for said yelping, like, all the time. “I know you’re used to the whole sucking stomach wound deal… But for those of us who’ve only had it the once could we go a little easy?”
Angel winced. “Sorry.”
“You’re forgiven,” she told him, exaggerating an arch of her eyebrow, “I suppose.”
A smile tugged at the corner of his lips and Cordelia almost forgot how much her stomach hurt. Sure, the pills dulled it a little, and she couldn’t exactly whine about how much they weren’t fighting off her headache when they were soothing at least one pain… But that smile from Angel, well, it was enough to soothe her, just for a little while.
“I’m glad you’re home.”
He looked up from what he was doing, his smile growing wider. “Me too.”
“No,” she shook her head, “I mean really glad, Angel. I get that you had to go be all retreaty and everything, but I’m glad you’re home. I missed you.”
A herd of wild horses couldn’t have removed that smile from his face. He sat there looking at her, his hands stilled at her stomach. Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Okay, now you’re just getting all movie of the week,” she murmured, “Patch me up already. The night is young, my manpire friend.”
“You’re going out?” He began gently wrapping the bandage round her stomach, trying – and not doing very well – to keep the disappointment from his voice.
“Are you kidding me? Friday night, the most social night of the week,” said Cordelia, biting her lip to keep from laughing, “And you want me to stay in?”
“Well I thought…” Angel nodded downwards, uncomfortably, “I mean, you shouldn’t… You should rest. What if something happens?”
Cordelia giggled, wincing, but giggling nonetheless. “Nothing’s gonna happen to me, Angel. I have you there to protect me.”
Angel’s gaze jerked upwards, his hands totally spazzing and knocking the antiseptic off the desk and onto the floor. Thankfully the lid was firmly shut or else Wes’ office would reek of it for a month.
“You’ll be there to protect me, Angel,” she repeated, slowly, mentally declaring him a retard. Again. “We’re going out. All of us.”
“Since about three hours ago,” she beamed, “Sort of like a ‘welcome home you’ thing.”
“Out.” Angel deadpanned, “Out? Where?”
God, sometimes? Retard didn’t even cover it. “A pub, y’know, social kind of thing? Just me, you, Wes, Gunn and Fred – if we can convince her to come out of her room for longer than fifteen seconds.” She got the whole living in a cave thing, really she did. But this was LA, as in… Not Pylea? What was Fred’s deal? “Didn’t you have a talk with her?”
Angel confirmed that with a nod, apparently no longer freaking about the prospect of socialising, “I did. Not sure what good it did.”
Cordelia sighed, “Like I told the guys… Girl’s trading one cave for another up there. I mean, what’s not to love? She has room service whenever she wants it, a built in protection racket and tacos on demand…”
“She had it rough in Pylea, Cordy.” Said Angel, softly, shooting a glance towards the stairs, “No one can blame her for wanting to hide out up there.”
“I get that, Angel,” she shook her head, “Believe me, I do. My three hour stint as a cow? Not fun, I tell ya… Not that the being Princess didn’t make up for it or anything but…”
Oh, she missed Pylea. She missed Groo, the being waited on, hand and foot. Okay, so she hadn’t missed the whole robed guy experience but the rest? Cordelia Chase was so born to be royalty… A few visions on the side wouldn’t kill her. And it wasn’t like–
She looked down at him to find that he was putting the finishing touches on her bandaging. “Et voila…” She grinned, “No hospitals, no muss, no fuss. What was I saying?”
“You were telling me how nice it was to be Princess. Again.”
Cordelia grinned, “Oh please, like you wouldn’t have loved it.”
Angel seemed to think about that for a moment, “Actually? No. The outfit looked like it chafed.”
“Okay, ewww.” Cordelia laughed, wincing as pain shot through her stomach, “And ow. No more mental pictures like that, please.”
She’d seen a lot of things in her time – a lot of bad, awful, disgusting things. Eyeballs popping all over the place, people getting maimed and tortured and a whole other host of ick-fest… But Angel in her Princess costume? Brought new meaning to the word ewww.
He held out a hand and gently helped her to her feet, “Okay, you’re done.”
“And so will you be in about an hour, Broody, unless you prove to Wes that your aim is better than his.”
“Better than Wes’?”
Cordelia sighed. “Angel, I know the whole socialising thing isn’t your scene but, what, do you need a diagram?”
“Stop repeating everything I say,” she admonished, pulling her shirt back on and batting Angel’s hands away when he tried to help, “We’re going out. We’re having fun. It’s what people do.”
“No ‘but Cordy’s!’” Cordelia turned to face him, hands on her hips, and for one moment? It was easy for Angel to forget that she’d just been wounded in a fight. “We’re. Going. Out.” She said, punctuating each word as if she were talking to some small annoying child, “Now can I go get changed because the whole bloody maimed look? So last year.”
Angel still wasn’t sure how he’d been roped into this. He’d tried not to exert the whole over-protective angle in the car when Cordelia had been wounded, had insisted on patching her up when they’d got back to the hotel… And for all that? He’d been dealt with this as punishment.
Oh, it wasn’t so bad, he supposed.
There were worse ways to be spending your Friday night, especially in this line of work, but how exactly he’d got here, he still didn’t know.
A short, sharp nail jabbed him in the side and Angel turned, looking guiltily at his best friend.
“How are we losing?” She asked, darkly, “Tell me again how we’re losing.”
Angel knew that look. Angel feared that look.
He stared at her for a moment, wondering how best to answer. My game’s off, he thought, I took a knock to the head.
Actually, it was her fault. Not that he was stupid enough to say those words to her or anything (a death wish, he just didn’t have) but the reason they were losing? Totally and completely Cordelia’s fault.
He could have blamed it on anything, really. Those reasons he’d mentioned earlier, the alcohol that seemed to be flowing quite well, despite his protests that someone would be sick in his car…
All of those things would have been a contributing factor.
Except Angel knew why he was distracted.
He watched her flicker an annoyed glance in his direction and scrambled for something – anything – to say, and finally uttered words that almost drove the final nail in his figurative coffin. “I’m… distracted.”
Her gaze turned to the groupies. Blondes. Like she didn’t have enough issues with blondes and Angel to begin with…
“Well who wouldn’t be?” She asked, cuttingly, “I mean with your little harpies over there—”
“They are not my harpies.” He insisted, realising that he’d barely given them a look the entire time they’d accosted the trio of men at Cordelia’s side, “Besides, I noticed you’ve made a ‘friend’.”
He cursed inwardly, wondering why he’d thrown out that little statement. He could almost see Cordelia’s sarcastic air quotes round the word ‘friend’ and mentally groaned as she prepared herself for battle.
“Hey, at least my not even remotely serious flirtations got me a round from Mr. Cheap with a Buck,” she hissed, poking him again, “What’s your excuse? One boff then you’re soulless?”
Angel had known Cordelia for three years and if there was one thing she hated more than anything? It was losing. “Hey, I wasn’t even—”
“Whatever,” said Cordelia, holding up her right hand, “My point? Is that we’re losing. To Wesley.”
She didn’t seem to care that Wes had trophies for being a Champion darts player from some tiny pub back in England. Her logic – something he seemed to understand less and less lately – was that she was teamed up with a vampire.
His aim simply had to be good or else the world and its occupants were doomed.
Fine, logical, he thought. More applause…except Wesley didn’t currently have Cordelia sitting next to him.
He wasn’t sure when he’d started to notice her perfume or what shoes she wore. He wasn’t even sure when he’d started to realise that she competed with the lights in the room when she smiled, or that every time she was close to him, tiny little pin prickles stood up on the back of his neck.
He’d noticed fifteen minutes ago – right around the time they’d started losing, actually – how alive Cordelia was, how fierce her spirit.
He’d missed her while he’d been gone. Only Angel hadn’t figured on how much…
She was looking at him oddly. He realised he’d been staring at her and that threw him. He couldn’t be having feelings for—Could he?
He’d returned from Sri Lanka feeling awful about not feeling worse for Buffy – the girl he’d loved with everything he had – and it had been Cordelia there to kick him back into shape.
The girl he’d loved hadn’t even been gone three months and already Angel was—looking at Cordelia waving her hand in front of his face. “Are you okay?”
He had this weird feeling in the pit of his stomach but other than that, yeah, he was okay. Very okay, actually. He felt good, which… Okay, freaked him out, a little.
“I was just thinking, Cordy—”
“Did it hurt?”
The corners of his mouth twitched upwards and as soon as they did, Cordelia grinned at him. “Time to play for real now, okay? No more losing to that Pansy As—Wesley!”
He’d rejoined the table, darts in hand, having just thrown a bull and two treble twenties. “How many times do I have to tell you?” He asked tightly, though he smiled, “My arse is not ‘pansy’.”
“Matter of opinion, dork boy,” said Cordelia, getting up and nudging Angel with her hip, “Angel’s turn, right?”
Wesley smirked. It was then that Angel realised, distractions or not? He had to win this one. No speeches about the gipper… It was all Cordelia and, he supposed, male pride.
The ‘harpies’ as Cordelia had named them, didn’t concern Angel.
The eyebrow did.
He took his stance a few feet away from the dart board and threw three treble 20’s straight off the bat, hearing Cordelia whoop behind him.
“I’m way too classy to do that whole ’180’ voice,” he heard her tell Wesley, “But if I weren’t? I’d so be doing that right now.”
Angel had to bite back his smirk as he went back to the table, Wesley’s ire written plain across his face.
Cordelia whooped again, patting Angel’s shoulder as he sat down, “See? I knew your aim couldn’t have been that bad. Call it woman’s intuition.” She beamed.
An hour later and Cordelia had emerged from The Head of Steam (not a pub she’d chosen by any means) victorious, clutching her manpire’s arm like a lifeline.
Wesley, on the other hand, looked particularly sour. “I was distracted.” He muttered.
“That’s funny,” Cordelia grinned, “That’s what Angel said when he sucked too.”
They both managed to look indignant at that one but Cordelia let it pass, her mood simply too good to be dulled by her two best friends inability to realise that even they sucked at stuff sometimes.
“I notice how convenient it was that you let Angel take all your shots,” said Wesley, shaking his head, “That could be construed as cheating.”
Cordelia’s eyebrows narrowed, “Excuse me, double-oh-dorko, but some of us have stomach wounds. What did you want me to do, bleed out all over the bar? Please.” She noticed Angel’s little grimace – whether it was at the mention of the blood or her being wounded, she wasn’t sure. “Besides, it doesn’t matter how we won. What matters is that we did. We rule,” she grinned, squeezing Angel’s arm, “And now we’re going home.”
“It’s no good,” Cordelia declared, throwing her hands in the air, “We’ve been over everything. Everything! And I know I had it on the ride home from the pub because I kept looking at it in Angel’s rear-view mirror.”
She stopped any would-be chuckles at that with the desolate look on her face. Fred had ventured downstairs a moment ago to join in with the reminiscing of the night, even though she hadn’t been there. Had even tried to help Cordelia look for it (a way to pay her way, she guessed, since she didn’t have any actual money or job prospects or anything) but so far, they’d turned up nothing and Cordelia just kept on looking more and more depressed.
If it were anything else – a shirt, maybe, like one of the ones he had bought her post-insano period, Cordelia mightn’t have minded. They were easier to replace than a necklace that had come from nine-thousand miles across the world. And what were the chances of Angel getting all depressed again and deciding he needed to hide out and brood somewhere? It wasn’t like the love of your life up and died on you every day, was it?
Sighing, Cordelia stood up, mindful of her sucking stomach wound. “I’m going home,” she told them, grabbing her purse and keys off the counter, “I’ll be here bright and early tomorrow.”
She declined Angel’s offer of a ride home. She’d rather walk, she told him, maybe have her own little brood session on the way home and wonder why it meant so much to her.
Oh, she’d explained it alright. The guys never bought her anything. Ever. Not unless she left subtle hints like magazines with things circled and the word “want” written next to them. This gift – aside from the clothes – was the first gift Angel had got her without being prompted by, like, crushing guilt or whatever.
It was the first gift he’d got her since their friendship had got back on track and that was why it meant so much to her. Not the nine-thousand miles or even just the general prettiness of the necklace. It wasn’t flashy or expensive but it was hers.
Picked out for her by Angel, and that was why Cordelia was so damned upset over losing it.
Sentimental value, that was it. It was the one time Cordelia would willingly admit that Wesley was right—And the one time she wished he wasn’t.
She reached her apartment an hour after leaving the hotel, noticing three messages blinking on her machine but not bothering to listen to them. She’d retraced her steps once round the courtyard, once back to the pub and even looked in Angel’s car again before she’d given up and gone home, deciding that Phantom Dennis and a little time with the loofah could maybe make her happier.
Dennis, of course, was transfixed with the current dilemma on screen. Something about babies and infidelity and—Well, things that generally chalked up to the likes of Jerry Springer having a job. Trash, really. But trash her ghost couldn’t keep his eyes off.
“Hey, Dennis,” she greeted him, the corners of her mouth lifting against their will as Dennis flickered her TV in return. “Jerry again, huh?” She wondered if he knew that one of his biggest fans was actually a ghost whose mother had bricked him into a wall when he’d been alive.
Walking to her bathroom, Cordelia began shedding her clothes and trying not to think of her necklace. It wasn’t like she didn’t have a billion others. That one she’d kinda stole from the museum that time, when Angel had dressed up as a Ratpack vampire. That was pretty. And it had some sentimental value, she guessed, if she wanted to remember Angel going all wacko and biting Rent-a-Cop.
“See?” She murmured to herself, annoyed, “It was more than just a necklace!”
Gently—or as gently as she could when she was that pissed, anyway, Cordelia peeled away at the bandage Angel had placed over her stomach, switching on the water.
She felt all kinds of skanky after the brush with the Nestor demons and losing her necklace had only made her feel worse. She stepped gingerly under the spray, wincing as the water hit her stomach but rode it out, waiting until the water started to work out some of the knots in her shoulders.
Tense, thy name was Cordelia Chase.
The shower didn’t work out all the knots. But when Cordelia was suitably shampooed and bandaged up again, dressed in her robe and pink fluffy slippers, she at least felt halfway human again, though she was still upset about the necklace.
She headed back to her living room, smiling as she’d noticed Dennis had picked up her clothes, and let out a yelp of surprise when a dark, hulking figure flanked her from the kitchen, carrying—A tray of coffee?
“Damnit, Angel!” She yelled, “What the hell are you doing?”
He looked pretty guilty for all of a millisecond until he remembered the reason he was here – or so it seemed – and crossed her room to put down the tray of coffee, turning back towards her.
“I just—You looked so upset when you left, so…” He gestured down to the table. There, on its surface, lay three kinds of ice cream. The three kinds Cordelia actually liked.
She blinked at him for a moment, confused. “I looked upset so you went and bought me ice cream?”
“No—” he protested, “—Well, yes but… I just thought you could do with some cheering up, that’s all.”
Cordelia sighed, “Angel—”
“That and I found your necklace.” He reached into his pocket and, much to the amazement of Cordelia, produced the very same necklace he’d brought back from Sri Lanka with him.
Cordelia gasped and rushed forward, snatching the item out of his hands, “How did you—I looked everywhere! Where was it?”
“Under the bench seat in my car,” he smiled, “It must’ve slid back there when I was parking up.”
Cordelia gawped at him again, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek, “My hero!” She declared happily, “I knew you’d find it.”
Angel chuckled and held on for just a fraction of a second longer than was necessary, before pulling away. “I brought some movies too. I thought maybe we could…”
“Hang out?” Cordelia finished his sentence for him, laughing as the TV flickered indignantly, “Think you can put up with Jerry for half an hour before we start with the movies? I’ll even share my ice cream…”
“Deal.” Angel smiled, before growing a little more serious as he watched her sitting down on her couch, “Cordelia?”
“I just… I wanted to say thanks. For what you said earlier. About Buffy.” He paused and Cordelia knew that it still pained him to talk about it, but he was okay. He was getting better.
“I meant it, Angel. I miss her too. Not that we were ever close or anything—” Definitely not like sisters as she’d once suggested, “—But I understand what she fought for and that’s our fight too.”
She waited until he sat down at the other end of her sofa and curled her feet beneath her, staring at him. “You gave me that and that’s why I was so upset about losing the necklace. Not just ‘cause you never buy me anything, I mean you don’t,” she teased, “It’s just—I guess with Fred being here and after everything that happened last year, it’s kinda like our new start.”
Angel smiled. “Our new start. I like that.”
“Me too,” Cordelia grinned, “Of course I’ll like it even better if you keep buying me things, Scrooge…”
Angel chuckled. Only Cordelia could work both a compliment and an insult into a conversation and still have you smiling.
“Okay, kidding,” she laughed, “Well, maybe… It is my birthday soon… And after that it’s Christmas…”