Title: Lovely, Dark and Deep
Author: hold_that_thought
Summary: Cordelia helps a vampire who loved Buffy cope with her death. It's just not the vampire she'd planned on helping.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Through Angel 3x01 - Heartthrob
Feedback: Greatly appreciated (APostModernSleaz@aol.com)
Archive: More than likely okay, but please ask first.
Disclaimer: The characters used within are the property of Mutant Enemy, Twentieth Century Fox, and of course Joss Whedon. It's their sandbox, I'm just playing in it.
Notes: Written for Elinora the Winter Book of Days challenge. Much thanks to the ever-lovely Soda for the beta! (Completed 2/21/04)


"You think dry-cleaning for clothes covered in demon goo is tax deductible?" Cordy asked, limping into the Hyperion.

"I should hope not," Wesley replied. He lifted his sword to his face and scowled. "Unless....perhaps I could receive some form of reimbursement for all the corrosion caused to my best weapons."

Gunn rolled his eyes and pushed past the both of them. "See, this is why I patrol in jeans. There's always gonna be something gross flying around."

"Right, because Mr. My Car Is Held Together With Duct Tape is so concerned with fashion in the first place," Cordelia said.

Gunn raised an eyebrow. "I know you did not just insult my girl."

"Well, would it kill you to wash the thing once in a while?"

"You mean between getting all hack and squish on every demon in Los Angeles? 'Cause I don't know about you, but I don't exactly have a lot of free time anymore."

"True." Cordelia sat down on the couch and pulled the bottom of her jeans up, hissing as the blood-caked material rubbed against the gash along her calf. Nice souvenir from the latest screaming ugly. "It's like all the L.A. underworld knows Angel's in Sri Lanka."

Wesley came back from the kitchen with the first aid kit and sat down next to Cordelia. Pulling her leg onto his lap and dabbing the cut with antiseptic, he said, "Yes, there has been a marked increase in demonic activity as of late."

"Gee, isn't that what I just said?"

"Don't mind her, man." Gunn put the axe down and headed for the stairs. "You know how she gets when she's hurt."

Cordelia stuck her tongue out at him. "Yeah, because you were such a treat to be around last week, with the second-degree burns and all."

"All set," Wesley said, gently patting the bandage down.

"Thanks." She gave him a grateful smile. Then, to Gunn's retreating back she said, "Where are you going?"

"Time to see if Fred wants to come out of her room yet," he called over his shoulder, disappearing up the stairs.

Cordelia looked at Wesley. "That'll happen." She stood up and stretched. "I'll order her the usual from Arriba. What do you want? Thai?"

"Oh, honey, Thai is so passé," Lorne said, closing the door behind him. "Everyone knows the beautiful people are dining Cajun these days."

"Lorne, this is a surprise." Wesley snapped the first aid kit shut and stood up to meet him.

"For both of us, muffin. I didn't expect the world to be in peril until you-know-who was back from his sabbatical."

"Oh, crap." Cordelia sighed. "I was just about to take a shower and clean off this demon goo. Can't the end of the world wait?"

"What do you mean, world in peril?" Wesley asked, frowning.

"The world, Los Angeles, same diff. My point is, there's a big bad out there and I need your help."

"If it's that yicky green demon with all the fur, we already took care of that," Cordelia said.

"Wish it was, Princess. No, this is much worse. You ever hear of a Nabara Ku-tek demon?"

Wesley nodded. "Ancient race of warrior demons. They forged their weapons from human bones. I was under the impression the last of their kind died out several decades ago."

"Well, people said the same thing about Volkswagen Beetles, and look how that turned out. Point is, they're back, they're here, and they've already killed three people in their quest for bones."

"Dear lord." Wesley turned to Cordelia. "Cordy, go get Gunn. We have to take care of this, now."

"Now? Can't I shower first? I mean, these demons can't kill that many people in an hour or two, right?" He stared at her. Sighing, she raised her hands in the air and said, "Okay, okay, I'm going. Hey, wait a minute." Cordelia crossed her arms and looked at Lorne. "If these Abracadabra demons are so bad, how come the PTBs didn't vision me up? Not that I mind skipping the migraine, of course, but it's their job to give us the head's up on these things, right?"

Lorne shrugged. "Can't answer that, sweetness. Mysterious ways and all."

"Hmph. Well, you know, if they want these things taken care of, maybe they should start...oh, crap." Her knees buckled. Damn, we really need to sweep this place more, she thought, eyeing the floor just before the vision pushed most logical thought from her head.

When the throbbing pain from her vision receded enough for her to breathe again, Wesley helped her stand up. "What did you see? The Nabara Ku-teks?"

Cordelia shook her head, wincing as the movement caused aftershocks of white-hot pain to web through her skull. "No, not them. Something worse."

"Worse? How much worse?"

Sitting down on the couch and closing her eyes, Cordelia said, "A lot worse."

***

"Eew." Cordelia looked around the room, lips curled in distaste. "This place is...I mean, god, I thought demon bars were bad."

"Hey!" Lorne glared at her.

"Sorry. I meant other demon bars. Caritas is nice." She paused. "Maybe a little more neon-a-riffic than I would have gone, but hey."

"Well, if you're done insulting my life's blood and toil, maybe we can get on with it?"

"Yeah, yeah." She scanned the bar patrons. "Okay, no, no, no...god, you wouldn't think someone with day-glo hair would be so hard to...there!"

"With the leather jacket?"

"Yup. Gotta give evil its due – being a black hat definitely helps with the dress sense. I mean, okay, dated, that's a given. But long lines never go out."

Lorne nodded. "So, do your thing."

"My thing? Why is this my thing? I'm just the messenger."

"If I'm not mistaken, you and Billy Idol are already acquainted, which makes you the primo candidate in my eyes."

"Acquainted, yeah." Cordelia tossed her hair and started across the bar, Lorne following behind. "We're like this," she said, holding up her fingers. "After all, he only tried to kill me a couple times, kidnapped my then-boyfriend and held him in a rickety old warehouse, leading to my fetching rebar-shaped scar. Oh, and he vamp-napped and tortured Angel for hours on end."

"I thought he was--"

"One of the good guys now, I know, I know. We all saw him at Buffy's funeral. Still. There's this whole weird history. And after Angel's little freakout a few months ago, I think it's reasonable to be afraid Spike's gonna go all psycho on us, too."

"Good to see you as well, Cordelia," Spike said, not turning around to face them. "As you can see, I'm in a very important meeting with Mr. Daniels, so kindly sod off."

Cordelia looked hopefully at Lorne and mouthed, "Can we?" Lorne shook his head, so she sighed and slid onto the stool next to Spike. "Listen, Spike, we have to talk."

"Save it. Already know why you're here. Tell your boss I'm not in his town to destroy anything besides what's left of my liver."

"That's nice. Listen, are you in danger or anything? Do you need saving?"

At this he looked at her, one eyebrow halfway up his forehead with mouth hanging open slightly. "Only danger I anticipate's a bit of a headache from what I'll have to do if you don't get lost."

"What I'm sure Cordy meant to say, in her refreshingly candid manner, is that everyone needs help sometimes."

"That so? Who the hell are you, and what's with all the green?"

"Lorne, and you should know that where I'm from, my skin's considered fairest in the land. Not that my mother meant that as a compliment, of course."

"Meant your suit."

"Oh." Lorne ran his hand down the front of his neon polyester nightmare, and Cordelia had to suppress a giggle.

"Anyway, I appreciate you stopping by, but I don't need help. Doing fine all by my lonesome." He turned around to the bar and knocked back another shot of whiskey.

"When I said everyone needs help sometimes, I didn't mean you, sugar." Lorne looked meaningfully towards Cordelia.

"Oh! Right." She nodded. "We need your help."

"Angel needs my help like I need another chip in my head."

"Angel's gone." That got Spike's attention again. A few emotions fought for control over the drunken vampire's face. Confusion finally won. Backpedaling, Cordelia said, "Not, you know, kktht," dragging a finger across her throat and crossing her eyes. "Just on vacation. And there's a bunch of demons...."

"Nabara Ku-teks," Lorne supplied helpfully.

"What he said. Anyway, we could use a big, strapping...." Cordelia bit her lip. "Well, you don't have to be strapping to be strong if you're a vampire, right?"

"I have not had enough to drink to put up with this," Spike muttered. He motioned for another drink.

"We really could use your help," Lorne said.

"And I could use another drink."

It was like pulling teeth. If Cordelia had known how much fun talking to Spike would be, she would have given the assignment to Wesley, and instead gone with Gunn to shake Merle down for info. Trying another tack, she gave him her most dazzling smile and said, "We have drinks back at the hotel. Why don't you come back and we can talk?"

"Think we've done enough talking for the night."

"What?" Cordelia crossed her arms. "You're too busy brooding to help save the world?"

Spike glared at her. "Angel broods." A sniff, and another sip of his drink. "I ruminate."

"To-may-to, to-mah-to."

"I'll have you know, little girl--"

He was interrupted by the bartender shouting, "Last call!"

"Bugger." Spike looked mournfully at his near-empty glass. Then he looked at Cordelia and sighed. "You say something about drinks at a hotel?"

***

"One Whiskey Sour, on the rocks, coming up," Lorne said, moving to the liquor cabinet in the Hyperion's lobby.

Spike nodded, flopping onto the couch. "Yeah, great. But leave out the lemon, sugar, and ice."

"Uh, right. One...whiskey, coming up."

"Man, how many has he had already?" Gunn whispered. "I swear I can smell the alcohol all the way over here."

Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn sat midway up the stairs to the second floor, watching as Lorne hurried around playing host to their unlikely houseguest.

Wesley turned another page in the Suskosath Codex. "Did he say why he's in Los Angeles?"

"Probably drank up everything in Sunnydale and needed more." Gunn watched Spike knock back the drink Lorne handed him and immediately stick the glass out for a refill. "Seriously, am I the only one that thinks drinking this much is unnatural?"

"Guy's a walking, talking, peroxidizing corpse. What isn't unnatural?" Cordelia said. Then, to Wesley: "He didn't say. I'm guessing it's a redux of Angel's sabbatical. But with less meditating, more drinking."

"I think Spike's got the better idea. Freaky amount of drinking aside, I give him props. He shoulda gotten Angel to go to Vegas with him or something," Gunn said.

Cordelia waved her hand. "Nah. Way those two bicker, they probably would have ended up getting sloppy drunk and married or something."

"Dear lord!" Wesley said.

"Ugh, yeah, scary mental image, sorry--"

"No, not that. This." He pointed to the book on his lap.

Cordelia and Gunn leaned over to look. Gunn squinted, then shook his head. "Yeah, sorry, I still can't read Sumerian."

"It says Nabara Ku-teks can only be killed on the night of the full moon."

"Which is tomorrow," Cordelia said.

Gunn shrugged. "So? Merle's tracking down info on their nest, we got an extra pair of hands to help. We're good. What's the big?"

"'The big' is, if we don't succeed tomorrow, they'll continue killing until the next full moon, and there's nothing we'll be able to do to stop them."

"That's...bad," Cordelia said. "But, hey! We'll be fine. We'll kill the baddies, then we'll figure out how to fix Spike."

Below them, Spike was sprawled in an ungainly position on the couch, one arm flung over his face and legs splayed in opposite directions. Lorne gently placed an afghan over the sleeping vampire. As he felt the wool settle over his lanky frame, Spike swatted at Lorne and mumbled something Cordelia couldn't hear, then rolled onto his side and fell back asleep.

Gunn raised an eyebrow. "Why do I get the feeling killing the baddies is gonna be the easier part?"

***

"Fred, honey, I've got dinner." Cordelia knocked on the door again. "You there?" What am I saying, of course she's there. "Fred, hello?"

A second later, the door finally opened a crack. Fred poked her head out, long hair covering most of her face. "Oh, hey! Didja get--"

"Tacos, what else?" She smiled and held out the paper bag. Fred snaked an arm out and snatched them, giving Cordelia a shy grin. "We're going out tonight for a little while. You gonna be okay?"

Fred nodded and promptly slammed the door in her face. "I'll be okay!" came her muffled reply. "Thanks for the tacos!"

"Uh, don't mention it." She shook her head and started towards the stairs. "Weird, weird girl."

"Yo, Cordy, phone!" Gunn shouted from the lobby.

"Coming!" When she got to the desk, she picked up the phone and said, "Hello?"

"Hey, Cordelia." Willow's voice crackled across the line. "Dawn said you called before?"

"Oh, yeah, hey! Thanks for calling me back."

"No problem. What's going on?"

"I was hoping you could tell me." Twisting the phone cord around her finger, Cordelia took a moment to appreciate the oddity of asking someone how to play therapist to a depressed vampire. Odd because, hello, she'd worked for the Sylvia Plath of vampires for over two years. She should have been a pro at this point. "You guys kinda know Spike, right? I mean, you know more about him than we do."

"Spike?" Willow sounded surprised. "Is he there?"

"Well, yeah. Didn't you know?"

"No! Dawnie's been going crazy, not knowing where he was. Um, between you and me, the rest of us just assumed...."

"He'd taken a long walk in the sun?"

"Yeah. He's been kind of...broken. Since.... But he's in L.A. now?"

"Yup. Safe, sound, and passed out on our couch since last night."

Crash. Across the room, Wesley was gesturing wildly to a pile of weaponry on the floor and yelling at Gunn. Gunn was yelling back, and even from far away Cordelia could see the vein in his temple starting to throb. Spike continued to sleep, oblivious to the ruckus.

"Oh, good," Willow said. "I mean, good, right? He's not hurting anyone or anything?"

"Nope. But that's why I called." Cordelia started straightening the business card holders on the desk. Casting a quick glance towards the boys to make sure they were still occupied with their own drama, she grinned and pushed her holder to the front of the pack. "I got a vision starring him, and the Powers That Be only send them to me if someone's in trouble. Since I don't think he'll be the one doing the troublemaking, I'm thinking it's intervention time or something."

"Good thinking. Jeez. So what do you need me to do?"

"Well, any idea what might cheer him up? Any favorite movies or anything?"

"Cordy, the woman he...loved? Is dead. I don't think a Monty Python marathon is gonna cut it."

"It couldn't hurt. More than what I have now. Anything can help."

"Hm...oh! He loves snack food," Willow said. "Buffalo wings, potato chips, onion rings...."

Wesley tapped her on the shoulder. "Cordy, have you seen the Litturga file?"

Cordelia glared at him and pressed a finger to her lips. "Uh huh. Snack food, good. What else?"

"Television. He likes soap operas and teen drama things."

"Ooh, good, okay." Cordelia snapped her fingers in Wesley's direction, then mimed writing.

"Check?" he said, brows furrowed.

"Pen and paper, dumbass."

"Oh." He handed her a pad and pencil. "About the file?"

"In your office, second drawer down. Now shush. Oh, not you Willow." 1. Snack food – fried. 2. Bad television. 3. Ice cream? Ben + Jerry = good. "What else?"

"Dawn. He really cares about her. Which is why we all assumed the worst when he went missing. No one thought he'd ever let the last remaining Summers woman out of his sight."

4. Appeal to creepy stalker side. "Dawn, okay. Good. I think we're good here." She checked her watch. "Besides, it's almost seven, so the sun'll be down soon."

"Patrol time."

"Always." Cordelia sighed. "How are you guys holding up over there?"

"We're...holding. Some days are...you know. But we're doing okay." Willow paused, and Cordelia heard her hand cover the phone. A few muffled exchanges, then she was back. "Sorry, that was Dawn," she whispered. "I'm not telling her Spike's fine until we know he's actually fine."

"Good plan."

"And Cordy? Take care of him, okay? Dawnie could really use him around right now. And the rest of us are starting to miss him, too."

"Does the rest of you include Xander?"

Willow giggled. "Well, the rest of the rest of us, then."

"Gotcha. Thanks for the help!"

"Anytime," Willow replied.

Cordelia placed the phone back in the cradle. Okay, time to wake Spike up, and hopefully avoid being berated in the process. Walking around the counter and across the lobby to the couch, she stopped just at the foot and watched him sleep. Angel always looked, well, angelic when he was asleep. Carefree and just this side of perfectly content. But Spike's face kept twitching, screwing itself into a pain-wracked mass, then straightening out to a defeated slack. And his lips kept moving, mumbling something Cordelia couldn't make out.

"Hey, Spike," she said. Nothing. "Spike!" Cordelia clapped her hands in front of his face.

"Muhngwy...."

"Once more, in English?"

One eye cracked open and fixed itself on her. "I said, go away."

"Sorry, no can do." Cordelia shoved his legs aside and sat down next to him, ignoring his martyred groans. "We have to talk."

"Look, I'm flattered that you've taken a sudden interest in my well-being," Spike said, pushing himself up. "You just caught me at a bit of a low point last night. I've slept it off and now I'm all better, so I think I'll be shoving off." He started to stand.

"Nuh uh." Cordelia grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back onto the couch. "First of all, in exchange for all the booze you could suck down and a cozy, sun-shaded place to crash, you said you'd help us with our demon problem. Second of all, we're gonna talk about why you're here, instead of back in Sunnydale with the people who need you."

Spike snorted. "Fairly certain no one there's too broken up by my absence."

"Dawn is." That made him wince. Good. "Why'd you leave her?"

"Wasn't doing much good staying, was I?" he muttered, raking a hand through his hair. "Not like I could bring her sis back, make everything right for the Bit."

"Well, no, but what does that have to do with anything?"

Spike covered his face and rolled his shoulders forward, trying to close in on himself. They sat there for a few minutes, Cordelia trying to wait patiently while Spike figured out what he wanted to say. Across the lobby, Wesley had located the Litturga file and was using it to illustrate a point to Gunn. In reply, Gunn was making a gesture that definitely wasn't PG-13.

Finally, Spike let his hands drop and fixed his gaze on the floor. "Girl's got enough beasties snapping at her. Doesn't need a piss-poor excuse for a creature of the night hanging around. 'Specially if he can't even protect her from all of those beasties."

"Who says Dawn needs a protector?" Cordelia said. "She's not the Key anymore, just a scared little girl who lost her sister. What she needs is a friend."

"What she needs is me outta her life. That's why I came to this pissant town."

She didn't think anyone could possibly take Buffy's death worse than Angel did, but even he'd been less zombieriffic after. Poor Spike. He looked like someone'd run over his puppy. Repeatedly. Cordelia just wanted to give him a hug, and god, what was that about? Nurturing a psychopath? She'd been working for Angel way, way too long.

Still, the Powers obviously thought it was her job to help him, and ignoring visions always ended badly. "Look, I don't think--"

"Head's up," Gunn interrupted, tossing a sword to Spike. "Time to go make some demons dead."

Cordelia looked at him. "We'll finish this when we get back, okay? Maybe over a plate of onion rings and some vintage episodes of 90210?"

A ghost of a smile flickered over his lips and he nodded. "You're on."

***

As Angel's convertible came to a screeching stop, Cordelia did a double take. "No way this is the right place."

Wesley put the car in park and pulled out his notebook. "This is definitely the address Merle gave us."

"Way he's been bitching over how Angel treated him, not sure I'd put it past the little skeeze to mess with us a little," Gunn said.

"Seriously," Cordelia nodded. "No way in hell these scary demons are holed up in a McDonalds."

"Nabara Ku-teks, right?" Spike asked. "Little buggers love fluorescent and grease."

"And short of certain West Hollywood bars, I'd say McDonald's is the top choice for those elements," Wesley said.

"A'ight then, let's go kick some Hamburglar ass," Gunn whooped, hopping out of the car.

Cordelia rolled her eyes, grinned, grabbed her axe, and followed.

"Okay, discretion is the key," Wesley said, joining them on the sidewalk. "We have to evacuate the patrons in an unalarming manner--"

"Anyone in there got a demon problem?" Spike shouted, brushing past them and storming into the restaurant.

Gunn shrugged. "That works, too."

When they got inside, Spike already had one demon dangling off the point of his sword. Most of the customers were streaming past them towards the exit. The remaining few were huddled in the corners, while the workers dove for cover wherever they could get it.

Cordelia hefted the axe in front of her face, tensing her shoulders and bending her knees. Demons, big whoop. She could totally trash some ugly, skinny yellow demon. With blood-red teeth and clotted-cream eyeballs. "Yuck."

The demon rushed towards her, teeth clacking and foam dribbling from the corner of its gaping mouth. She shrieked and swung the weapon forward. Surprisingly, Cordelia hit the neck perfectly, lobbing the head right off.

Less surprisingly, the head went flying in a wide arc, colliding squarely with Gunn's shoulder.

"Damn, Cor, watch the flying parts!"

"Sorry," she said, grimacing.

"Cordy, maybe you can make sure the people are okay," Wesley shouted over the din, sidestepping demon claws and almost slipping in a puddle of luminescent green blood.

"Gotcha." Leaving the boys to their business, Cordelia walked over to a young couple curled up in a booth with a look of abject horror on their faces. "Hi, I'm here with Angel Investigations." She smiled and handed them a business card. "If you ever need saving again, we're here to help."

"W-what are those things?" the boy said, blinking furiously.

"Oh, those? Don't worry about them. The Angel Investigations team will take care of them."

Gunn was having a great time hacking the demons to pieces, and even Wesley was getting into it. Spike alone was keeping with the gloomy, grimly jabbing at the massive yellow demons and amassing a neat pile of dead bodies at his feet.

It was finally down to three and three. Gunn nodded to Spike, then to Wesley, and together they raised their swords.

"This is always the best part," Cordelia whispered to the couple beside her. The girl buried her face in her boyfriend's shoulder, while he just gave her a dubious look before turning his attention back to the guys.

Spike wasn't Angel. He wasn't the one who'd been fighting next to Gunn and Wesley for almost two years – give or take a little beige detour – but he somehow fell into synch with them, all three killing the last demons simultaneously.

It would have been perfect had that fourth demon not suddenly crashed through the ceiling.

"Spike, behind you!" Cordelia shouted, jumping to her feet and readying her axe.

In a flash, the creature had plucked a young girl from her seat. As he hoisted her into the air by the throat, her feet kicked uselessly and her big, blue eyes shimmered with tears. At the moment Spike spun around, the demon tucked a lank of her long, brown hair behind her ear, almost tenderly. Of course, he probably did that to make the whole ripping-out-her-bones thing easier.

The demon growled, and they all waited for Spike to do something really heroic and brave. Which made his deer-in-headlights impression a little annoying.

"Spike!" Wesley shouted, but he didn't elicit any response from the vampire.

Just as Gunn and Wesley started towards the girl, she fixed her eyes on Spike and choked out, "Help me!"

With a roar, Spike spun into motion, raising his sword high in the air and driving it down the center of the demon's skull. As it fell to the ground, the girl tumbled forward into Spike's arms.

"Oh my god, thank you, thank you!" she said, pressing her face against his chest and grinning through her tears.

Spike looked helplessly at Cordelia, unsure how to react. He finally settled for awkwardly patting her hair and murmuring something that was hopefully comforting.

Wesley and Gunn joined her at the booth.

"We ain't cleaning this all up, right?" Gunn asked, gesturing to the eight demon bodies.

"Nah," Cordelia said. "I'm pretty sure the workers here deal with worse on a daily basis."

Wesley flicked a piece of demon flesh off his sword, oblivious to the abject horror his action seemed to cause in the still-huddled couple next to them. "Besides, we should probably concentrate on Spike now. The Powers That sent you a vision because he's in trouble, yes?"

Cordelia watched Spike gently place his arm around the girl's shoulders and steer her towards her grateful parents. Then she smiled and said, "Not anymore."

***

"We never did get our 90210-and-onion-rings-fest," Cordelia said as she walked Spike to the hotel door.

Spike gave her a sad smile. "Regret's all mine, but I've got business to attend to." He paused, lips curling into a wolfish grin as he looked her up and down. "Now, if you're open to a 9 ½ Weeks-and-whipped-cream-fest...."

"Now there's the Spike that Willow's told me about," Cordelia said, rolling her eyes.

"Spike, shall we call ahead and let them know you're heading back?" Wesley asked, making his way over to the door with Gunn following.

"Nah. Much more fun to catch the Scoobs by surprise."

Cordelia arched an eyebrow. "Because that will in no way lead to you getting your ass staked."

"Like to live dangerously, pet."

"Yeah, well, don't be a stranger, man." Gunn clapped Spike on the shoulder and grinned. "Kinda nice having a fighter out there who isn't worried about chipping their manicure."

"Um, excuse me? I've sacrificed tons of outfits helping the helpless. Including a really nice pair of Jimmy Choos. Besides," she said, crossing her arms, "whenever Spike and Angel end up in the same room, badness happens."

"Girl's not wrong," Spike smirked. "'Sides, I've got enough back home to keep me occupied for a long time. So, unless you lot've got another intervention planned?"

"We're good," Cordelia said.

"Then I'm off."

Spike gave a slight bob of his head, winked, and swept out the door.

As they all started heading towards the desk, Gunn turned to Cordelia. "Notice how I'm not pointing out that Spike swiped at least two bottles of expensive-assed scotch from the cabinet."

"That's very big of you," she said.

"Ain't my expensive-assed scotch."

"Well." Wesley leaned against the desk and smiled at them. "I'd say job well-done. Los Angeles is safe for another night. Now we can all relax and--"

He was interrupted by the phone ringing.

"You realize this is your fault," Cordelia said.

Gunn scowled at him while snatching the receiver from the cradle. "Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless. Yes...no...yes...yes...."

Wesley grimaced and busied himself re-arranging the business cards. Like she really wouldn't notice he'd bumped his to the front again.

"Uh huh," Gunn said, scribbling notes on a pad. "How many? In your what?"

Cordelia sighed. "If it's something slimy and outfit-ruining, I am so putting in for reimbursement."