AUTHOR: LUCKYLYN (aka LYN)
SUMMARY: Cordy takes action when she worries the gang is too consumed with the job.
POSTED: 24 Nov 2008
CATEGORY: HOLIDAY FIC (HALLOWEEN) / CHALLENGE FIC
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
1) Written using a prompt for the Stranger Things 2008 Halloween ficaton.
2) Thanks to I Heart Dirt and Stormy for helping me come up with Wes and Lorne’s costumes.
3) Dedicated to Livvie: I’ve been a bit blocked but your prompt clicked for me. Thanks for the idea.
Angel Investigations was everything. Cordelia got a vision and they went into battle. Maybe a client would come in, and they’d have a case to handle. Then those quiet times happened with no visions or clients. The job consumed them so much lately they didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves. Cordelia sat at her desk trying to be interested in her magazine and savor the down time. But none of them could quite enjoy it. They were always waiting restless for the next battle to fight. Wesley handled the anticipation by sitting in his office hunched over ancient texts he pretended to read while he covertly watched Fred. She sat in the middle of the lobby working on some new invention but her eyes would drift to the doors as if she expected a client or she’d look at Cordelia wondering when the next vision would give them something to do. Gunn hung out by the weapons cabinet practicing for the next fight. And Angel paced around like he was trapped in a cage. Cordelia wondered when it happened. When had the job taken over everything?
Angel was thinking the same thing. For a while there they were super busy with visions, clients, Gunn’s old gang hunting innocent demons, Wolfram and Hart targeting Cordy, and Billy. Now that there was no work to do, it was awkward like they didn’t know how to be without a battle to fight.
Looking at her friends, Cordelia decided that she was going to have to do something about it and quickly.
She was lost in thought when Angel approached her and asked, “You ready?”
“Very,” she replied with a smile. Cordy followed him downstairs to the basement. She was starting to think of it as their place.
Angel was amazed at how much he looked forward to training with Cordy. There was a time when training meant brooding and anger. Now, there was conversation, laughter, and sometimes a spark he had no idea how to handle. He remembered the sexual tension laden training sessions with Buffy, but this tension with Cordy didn’t seem to have the same bittersweet tinge. He felt alive when he entered the basement with Cordelia. This was their place to be in the moment and not just wait for the other shoe to drop.
Cordy picked up a sword and asked, “What are we going to do about the group upstairs?”
“I don’t know,” Angel replied. “Is there some sort of intervention for boredom?”
Angel came up behind her to adjust her stance. It wasn’t necessary for him to do that anymore, but he couldn’t seem to be able to stop finding excuses to touch her. Cordelia hid a smile and she wondered if Angel’s adjustment was really necessary anymore. Was he just using it as an excuse to touch her? She was tempted to tease him but resisted the urge. It was better to wonder than know for sure if he wanted her or not. Romance wasn’t something they could have. But the wonder and anticipation Cordy felt when they got close, she would allow. That was all it could be. She tried to ignore her disappointment.
“But it’s more than boredom,” Cordy said as they moved side by side through the sword movements.
“I know,” Angel said frowning. “We used to be different.”
“We used to have lives outside Angel Investigations,” Cordelia said. “And when we got too busy for friends outside we at least had each other. But it’s like we’re just co-workers now and not the friends we were.”
“Things aren’t great, but it’s not that bad,” Angel said pausing. They weren’t co-workers to him or even friends. This was his family.
“Maybe, but it could get bad,” Cordy said continuing with the sword movements. It helped her focus. “This isn’t just a job it’s…”
“…a family,” they both said at the same time.
“We can’t lose that,” Cordy said.
“We won’t.” Angel said moving and getting in sync with Cordy again.
“So any ideas?” She asked.
“Not one,” he replied. “You?”
“I’ve got nothing,” she said. “We suck.”
“Yeah,” Angel said. “But at least we suck together.”
Cordelia smiled at him and teased, “Look at you and your silver lining.”
“Optimism is just my nature,” Angel replied smiling back.
This was the great part of training. They got to connect and talk things out. Somehow even if things were unresolved they still felt some relief. They were in this together.
“Look, we’ve got plenty of time to figure something out,” Angel continued.
Cordy stopped mid movement and the smile left her face. Time was something she didn’t have.
She shook her head and replied, “We have to fix it now before it goes on too long and we can’t get things back.”
Before Angel could reply, they heard Gunn yell from upstairs, “Cordy! Someone’s on the phone for you.”
“Brainstorm later?” Cordy asked heading towards the stairs.
“Definitely,” Angel promised unable to forget the worried and almost scared look in her eyes. They had to save their family.
After talking on the phone for half an hour Cordy charged into the lobby and announced, “Everybody we’re having a meeting!”
The others stopped what they were doing to gather in front of her. Angel noticed that she seemed to be radiant.
“Vision?” Wesley came out of his office to ask almost eagerly.
“No, this is something good,” Cordy said. “We’re going out.”
“Out there?” Fred asked in a worried tone. Cordy patted her shoulder marveling at how Fred had less fear fighting demons than at the thought of an outing with friends.
“What if a client comes in?” Gunn asked.
“Come on guys,” Angel said standing by Cordy. “We haven’t had a client in days. Let’s just follow Cordy’s lead.”
“Let’s go,” Cordy said charging out the door expecting the others would come along.
Angel took his cars keys out of his pocket and ran to catch up with her to ask, “So what are we doing?”
She smiled mischievously, grabbed the keys out of his hand, and said, “I’m driving.”
Fifteen minutes later Cordelia parked the car and lead her friends to a costume shop.
“Why are we here, Cordelia?” Angel asked suddenly worried.
“Come on,” she said grabbing his hand dragging him inside. The others followed in as well.
“So, Rachel from my old acting class called, and she can get us into this Halloween party. I…” Cordelia began.
“Oh God!” Gunn said shaking his head. “This isn’t what I think it is.”
“A costume party,” Wesley said in horror.
“No,” Angel said stubbornly.
Cordelia walked through the shop arm and arm with Fred and kept talking like they hadn’t said anything. “I thought we could go. It’s going to be at the most exclusive club in town. You know the one that doesn’t even have name.”
“Cordelia…” Wesley said sternly.
“It’ll be fun,” Cordy insisted.
“Cor,” Angel said pleadingly.
“We’re going,” Cordelia said turning to face them.
“Why are you making such a big deal out of this? It’s just Halloween.” Gunn demanded.
For a second Angel glimpsed sadness in her eyes and then Cordy smiled brightly, “Cause there’s more to life than visions, demons, and battles. When was the last time we just went out and had fun?”
She looked around at her friends as none of them replied.
“If we don’t remember that there’s a life out there we’ll burn out and forget why we fight. I don’t want you guys to loose yourselves in the job,” Cordy said.
Finally, Fred spoke, “A party could be fun.”
Cordy smiled at her in relief.
“We don’t have any clients or visions to deal with.” Wesley said giving in.
“Dibs on the cowboy costume,” Gunn said racing Wesley to the pile of costumes down the aisle.
“Good, because I don’t want any of us having any beige ‘let’s push my friends away cause I’m consumed with the fight’ issues in the future,” Cordy said noting Angel who seemed to be inching away from the costumes.
“Hey,” Angel said annoyed at being singled out.
“Why aren’t you picking a costume?” Cordy replied with a raised eyebrow.
Angel looked around to make sure no one was watching, went into vamp face and replied, “Already have one.”
“You’re going in grr face and your regular clothes?” Cordy asked incredulously.
“I’m not wearing a costume,” Angel practically growled.
“Angel…” Cordy began.
“Not going to happen,” Angel said walking out of the store.
Cordelia’s radiant heir of confidence deflated at bit. She thought they were in this together. They had agreed an intervention of some sort was necessary.
“He’ll come around,” Fred promised.
Later that night, Cordy stormed into Angel’s room to say, “You’re a dumbass.”
“Hello to you too, Cory,” Angel replied putting down the book he was reading.
“I thought we were a team, and you just bail,” Cordy vented. “I thought you wanted to do something for our friends. How can you skip this party after I convinced them to go?”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t go to the party,” Angel said. “I just don’t think a costume is necessary.”
“It’s a costume party,” Cordy said. “They won’t let you into the club without one.”
“What’s wrong with my grr face plan?” he asked confused.
Cordy sat on the coffee table in front of the couch he sat on.
“It’s like cheating. You going as yourself basically even if the other people at the club don’t know it,” Cordy sighed. “You missed out of the fun of all of us together hanging out. Putting on ridiculous things, teasing and encouraging each other ; just being fools. We actually laughed tonight, and you weren’t there.”
She looked so forlorn that he wanted to pull her into his lap. Angel resisted that impulse and just took her hand.
“I’m sorry,” Angel said. “I left because if I stayed I thought you’d talk me into a costume. I wasn’t thinking about the friends bonding factor.”
“So, you can face horrifying demons, but I’m so pushy you felt the need to run away,” Cordy said crossing her arms over her chest.
“Yes,” Angel said.
“Dork,” She replied rolling her eyes.
He was smiling at her in that dangerous way that made her want things she shouldn’t. Cordelia stood up before she did something stupid like lean over and kiss him.
“Okay, you can go in vamp face,” Cordy said. “You have nothing to fear from big bad Cordelia.”
“I can sleep easily now,” Angel replied and laughed when Cordy threw the couch pillow at him.
“I hate you,” Cordy said affectionately, walking out of his room.
Angel just smiled.
Angel rushed into the club. He was late and hoped his friends wouldn’t be angry. His eyes scanned the club, and he was able to pick out Gunn wearing a cowboy costume chatting with someone.
“Hey,” Angel said coming up behind him.
“Hey man. Where have you been?” Gunn asked and then he noticed Angel’s outfit. “Zorro?”
“The Dread Pirate Roberts,” Angel corrected his eyes scanning the crowd for Cordelia.
“Your Buttercup is at the bar,” the man Gunn was talking to said and Angel was shocked to realize it was Lorne.
His green skin was covered by nude colored make-up and his horns were covered by a hat. Lorne looked like a 1920’s gangster with his grey suit and fake tommy gun.
“Wow,” Angel said taking Lorne’s costume in and then getting back on his mission. “Cordy’s at the bar?”
Gunn nodded and answered, “It’s Barbie’s turn to buy the next round of drinks. Try not to have a heart attack when you see her costume.”
“I’ll be right back,” Angel said going to find the bar. It was a surprising challenge. The club was ridiculously crowed.
Angel finally spotted her at the bar and stalled in shock. He recognized the cliche witch hat on Cordelia’s head, but the black dress looked more like a slip than a dress. He wished he brought his jacket to cover her with. No one should see her that way. No one but him. Angel was so distracted by his line of thought that he bumped into someone.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Zorro?” the woman asked. “I love that movie. Zorro’s so hot.”
Suddenly, she was pressing against him. That’s when Cordy looked over her shoulder and spotted Angel. Her pleasure at seeing him in the costume was diminished by seeing the busty blonde in the playboy bunny outfit practically climbing on Angel. Cordelia was able to resist the urge to charge over there because although the bunny was all over him his eyes were steadily staring at Cordy.
The bunny finally noticed Angel’s efforts to gently push her away and pouted, “You’ve already found the one you want to spend the night with.”
“Yes,” Angel replied unable to take his eyes away from Cordelia. “I mean no. We’re just friends.”
“I don’t look at my friends the way you look at her,” she replied walking away.
“We’re just friends,” Angel muttered to himself, trying to shake off his possessive instincts.
He spotted a man staring at Cordy and heading in her direction. Angel growled at him, “She’s taken.” So much for shaking off his instincts.
Finally, Angel made it to Cordy’s side at the bar. Cordy looked Angel over noting he was dressed all in black with a mask covering his head and eyes.
She smiled at him and said, “You wore a costume.” It amazed her how touched she could feel by her best friend dressing up for Halloween.
“Yeah,” Angel replied a little sheepish. He felt like some junior high kid trying to impress a crush.
“Zorro?” Cordy wondered.
Angel frowned and said, “No, I’m the Dread Pirate Roberts.”
Cordy looked at him blankly.
“From the Princess Bride,” Angel explained.
“I’ve never seen that movie,” Cordy said.
“I’ll rent it one night. You’ll love it.”
Angel looked over Cordy’s from her toes to her face. It was like he was undressing her.
He asked with that dangerous smile of his, “Are you a good witch or a bad one?”
“I’m very good…” Cordy replied leaning towards him. “…at being very bad.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Angel said wondering what she’d do if he reached out to touch her like he wanted to.
It hit Cordelia suddenly. We’re Flirting! She had to stop it.
“You should have been here earlier,” Cordy said changing the subject. “We were doing the time warp and Wesley nearly killed me.”
“He is a dangerous man,” Angel said imagining what he missed.
“Fred is a brave woman,” Cordelia said gesturing to the dance floor where Wesley and Fred seemed to be dancing to a song other than what the rest of the club goers were hearing.
Fred looked like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Wesley was dressed as Indiana Jones.
“Have you seen Lorne?” Cordelia asked.
“Yeah, amazing,” Angel answered.
“It’s been a good night so far but now that you’re here it’ll be even better,” Cordy said feeling like a dork. It was crazy to be so excited to see Angel. Crazy to be pleased that maybe he was wearing the costume for her. Crazy to wonder what that might mean.
“What would you like?” the bartender asked when he finally reached Cordy’s spot at the bar.
“One amaretto sour, two mojitos, and three beers, please,” Cordy said taking some money out of her little purse.
“Let me get that,” Angel said reaching for his wallet in his back pocket.
Cordy shook her head, “You’ll get the next round.”
As they waited, more people came up to the bar pressing Cordy closer to Angel. Not touching but close enough for her to feel his coolness and him to feel her warmth. Their eyes locked. Just one little movement, and they’d be touching.
“Here you go,” the bartender said shattering the moment.
Cordy paid the bill and said, “Fred and Wes were supposed to help me carry everything after their dance but since you’re here…”
She wanted them to escape from the sea of people at the bar and avoid anymore accidently pressing against each other moments.
“Yeah,” Angel said grabbing some of the drinks and following Cordy away from the bar. He didn’t know whether he was relieved or enraged at the bartender’s interruption.
When they found Gunn and Lorne again, they had managed to find a booth they could all sit in together. Cordy and Angel slid in next to Gunn and Lorne passing the drinks around.
“Thanks, Cordy,” Gunn said.
Lorne took a sip of his drink and said, “I love it when the alcohol doesn’t taste like alcohol.”
“Me too,” Cordy said clinking her glass with his.
“I’m okay with the alcohol tasting like alcohol,” Angel said.
“Me too,” Gunn replied, clinking his glass with Angel’s.
Cordy and Lorne exchanged a look and rolled their eyes. Fred and Wesley finished their dance and joined the gang.
“We looked for you at the bar,” Wesley said.
“Angel helped me with the drinks,” Cordy explained.
Fred took one look at Angel’s costume, hugged him and exclaimed, “I knew you’d come around! Is this why you were late? How’d you find the costume at the last minute? When did you decide to change your mind? What…”
“Breathe, Sweetie,” Cordy interrupted.
“You make a great Dread Pirate Roberts,” Fred concluded.
Angel smiled and said, “You’re the only one who figured it out. Everyone else thought I was Zorro.”
“No, you’re not a Zorro,” Fred said wisely. “You’re The Dread Pirate Roberts being a hero for his true love.”
She looked back and forth between Angel and Cordy, beaming at them. Cordy and Angel pretended not to notice.
“Thanks for thinking of this, Cordy,” Wesley said smiling at Fred. “It’s been a great night.”
“We needed this,” Gunn agreed his eyes drifting to Fred.
“Well, I’m amazing. So of course this idea was great,” Cordy replied.
“I’m awed by your humility,” Angel dead panned.
“You inspire us all,” Lorne teased, raising his glass and winking at Cordelia.
“Yes, we bask in your gloriousness,” Wesley joined.
“As you should,” Cordelia replied trying to be haughty and not laugh.
Gunn and Fred were too busy staring at each other to play along.
“Look, we really need nights like this more often,” Cordy began. “With everything going on it’s easy to let Angel Investigations take over everything. So we have to promise that no matter how busy, crazy, or bad things get that we’ll still hang out like this.”
“Are you about to get ridiculously sentimental?” Wesley asked.
“Yes, so bear with me,” Cordy replied raising her glass. “To family.”
They all raised their glasses and said, “To family.”
“Ok the sentimental part of the evening is over. Let’s get back to the regularly scheduled silliness,” Cordy said to Wesley who smiled at her affectionately.
“Wanna dance, Pretty Lady?” Gunn said to Fred doing a John Wayne impression.
Fred smiled and grabbed his hand leading him to the dance floor for a slow dance.
“I like this song,” Cordy said.
“It’s okay,” Angel replied and then felt a kick to his leg. “Ouch!”
“You okay?” Cordy asked concerned.
“Fine,” Angel said shooting Lorne an accusatory stare.
“Oops,” Lorne said insincerely. “Did I bump your leg?”
Angel gave Lorne a confused stare.
When Cordy looked away to talk to Wesley, Lorne mouthed the words, “Ask her to dance.”
“Oh,” Angel said and turned to Cordy. “Dance with me?”
The smart answer was no but she said, “Okay.”
“You might want to remove the hat, Kiddo,” Lorne advised standing up to remove it. “Wouldn’t want to poke our champion’s eye out.”
Cordy let Lorne take the pointed witch’s hat and then turned to Angel. They didn’t talk as he lead her to the floor. Angel pulled her close as they swayed to the song.
“I should be filling the silence and talking a mile a minute,” Cordelia thought, but she stayed quiet and rested her head on Angel’s shoulder. She wasn’t in the mood to pretend she didn’t love being in his arms. After all, it was just a dance.
Angel tried to tell himself that it was just a dance. He placed her hand over his heart and their bodies pressed closer together. Her heart was beating so fast. If his heart could still beat, he knew it would practically be bursting out of his chest. But it was just a dance.
It wasn’t dancing anymore when the song changed, and they just stood there staring at each other while the others around them moved to the next fast paced song. They were going to have to do something about this need to be closer.
“Did you know there’s a snack bar with candy apples, pastries, and stuff over there?” Gunn said interrupting the moment.
Noticing the way Angel and Cordy were standing close together, Fred pulled Gunn’s arm and said, “We’ll just got back to our booth to see if Lorne and Wesley want anything.”
As Gunn walked away with Fred he yelled over the music, “You better get to the snack bar before Fred if you want to find anything!”
Angel and Cordy barely paid attention as Fred and Gunn left them on the dance floor. There were dozens of things left unsaid, and Cordelia thought they were going to let the moment pass. She moved to step out of his arms, but Angel strengthened his hold to keep her with him. He needed to know what she was feeling. If she wanted to try for more than friendship.
“What do you want?” Angel asked looking at her intently.
You “I’d love a candy apple,” Cordy said instead, breaking eye contact.
“As you wish,” Angel replied in a sad tone as he let her step out of his arms. He gave her this almost shy smile like he had a secret as he walked away.
A wave of disappointment came over Cordelia as she lost her view of him in the crowd. It could never happen for them regardless of what they wanted. She wished she could blame Buffy or the curse, but she couldn’t. Cordy couldn’t blame her doctors who told her she’d be lucky if she survived another three months. Every vision she had could be her last. She couldn’t let things progress between her and Angel only to have her leave him. Cordelia slowly walked back to their booth looking at her friends. She needed to know they’d be okay when she was gone; needed to know that they would have each other. Cordelia pushed the sad thoughts away so she could laugh with her friends. This intervention had gone better than she hoped.
Prompt: Candy apple, a crowded club, disappointment
A/N: For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Princess Bride. “As you wish” is another way of saying “I love you.”