Summary: Cordelia and Gunn talk about the aftermath of Harmony's visit to L.A.

Disclaimer: These characters are all the property of their owners/creators (not me).

Rating: PG-13, for themes.

Time Frame: Second season "Angel", just after "Disharmony." (spoilers!)

Archiving: Please do. . .but e-mail me at eilandesq@aol.com to let me know. . .I like to know where my stuff ends up. . .and I might want to see what else you have got.



THINKING OF RO


Gunn walked into the hotel, still a bit achy from the few shots he had taken before the newbie vampires created by the pyramid scheme fled en masse. * Damn. . .wish the vamps in my neighborhood had been that wimpy * Dismissing the thought, he saw Cordelia working at her desk and wandered over. He noted the somber look on her face and asked, "What's up?"

Cordelia shrugged, then replied, "Not much."

Gunn saw Cordelia's expression darken slightly and disbelieved her. He glanced around and saw the pile of clothing sitting behind her desk. He whistled and commented, "Looks like a mall exploded in here."

Cordelia smiled, then replied, "Angel replaced the clothes of mine that he sold."

Gunn raised an eyebrow and commented snidely, "Cool. . .think I could get him to steal my truck and replace it with a Ferrari?"

Cordelia blinked, then directed a truly nasty glare at Gunn. Gunn looked back calmly, and after a moment Cordelia sighed and responded, "I know. . .he's overcompensating for messing up. . .and from Wesley giving me a dirty look and holing up in his office all day, so did I."

Gunn saw Cordelia look away, then prodded, "Hard to blame him for getting a little carried away. . .you told him flat out you weren't his friend any more. As screwed up as he's been, you know he still cared about us."

Cordelia nodded involuntarily, then replied, "I know. I don't think I really got it until I was saying almost exactly the same thing to Harmony last night before I told her to get out of town. I was so pissed off at Angel that it was making me treat a vampire who used to be someone I didn't even think of as a friend any more when she was alive as if she were my best friend. . .I was trying to think of a way to tell him that when he came in with all of the clothes. . .and I panicked a little."

Gunn smiled in response to Cordelia's admission and commented, "Well. . .you can make it up to English later." He frowned, noticing that Cordelia's expression remained grim, then asked, "If you didn't like her that much anyway, why didn't you stake her? I mean, I know her attempt to sell us down the river turned out to be pretty weak, but she's still a vampire, Cordy. . .she's going to kill people."

Cordelia paled slightly, and she whispered, "I know. . .but I just couldn't do it." She came out from behind her desk and began pacing, and Gunn waited patiently until she looked over at him and elaborated, "She seemed to be trying so hard to be good. . .and I think I screwed up her chance to do something good with her life. . .or her unlife, anyway."

Gunn blinked, then commented, "Cordelia. . .you took her into your home, stuck up for her, kept Wesley from staking her annoying ass, and gave her a really important job to do. . . after which she promptly tried to feed us to the vamp version of Amway. . .what more could you have done for her?"

Cordelia frowned, then replied, "I still think that Angel was wrong. . .if Harmony was just an evil demon with nothing else going for her, she would have killed me, or turned me if she wanted an evil friend, not hung out with me and talked about making her life more purposeful. She wanted some goal to make her existence meaningful, and I just didn't think about that hard enough before sending her in to infiltrate that loony vampire cult." She paused again, visibly searching for words, then asked, "Gunn. . .did you ever watch 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'? No rude comments, please."

Gunn smiled, then nodded and responded, "Yeah. . .I loved that show when I was a kid. Seeing people that look like you going out and exploring the galaxy was pretty cool. . .Picard was a much cooler captain than Kirk was, and that Dr. Crusher was pretty damned fine." Gunn noticed Cordelia's nose wrinkle slightly at the last comment, and nodded for her to continue.

Cordelia paused a moment, then continued, "There was a character they introduced near the beginning of the fifth season. . .her name was Ro Laren. They originally were going to give her the spot that Major Kira got on Deep Space Nine, but the actress didn't want the role." Gunn nodded, remembering, and Cordelia continued, "When she came on the show, she was a total screw-up that everyone despised, forced on Picard by the corrupt higher-ups at Starfleet Command. . .until Guinan stuck up with her to Picard, and he discovered that she had a lot of potential."

Gunn nodded again and commented, "That was a good episode. . .showed how much Picard trusted Guinan, and that he was capable of seeing things for himself."

Cordelia nodded, then continued, "Anyway, Picard took her under his wing and made her his protégé. . .and even though they didn't do that many episodes with her, it was pretty clear that Picard was helping her out, and that she really came to admire him. Then, right near the end of the series, they did an episode where she had received advanced tactical training and been promoted to Lieutenant, and the first thing they did was send her on a mission to infiltrate the Maquis."

Gunn frowned, seeing where Cordelia was going, but remained silent as Cordelia went on: "Picard knew that it wasn't the safest thing in the world to do. . .he confronted her directly about it and asked if she could do it. . .the Maquis had attracted a lot of good Starfleet officers with way less reason to hate the Cardassians than Ro had. But she desperately wanted to make him proud of her, and she insisted on staying on the mission, and did some amazing things to keep it going in spite of all the obstacles. It got to be too much for her, and she joined the Maquis. . .it was really hard on both her and Picard. . .the last shot of him in that episode was him sitting in his quarters looking sad and guilty about the whole thing."

Gunn took a minute to think about what Cordelia had said, then replied, "Cordelia. . .Ro started out as someone who had some baggage. . .but she had only made one real mistake, and everyone judged her for it. Picard and Guinan saw the potential in her, and they decided to give her a shot. She may have fallen short in the end-depending on whether you think the Maquis were justified or not-but it isn't the same as Harmony. From what you've said, Harmony was pretty much useless when she was human. . .why do you think you owed her anything as a vampire, much less one who tried to sell you down the river?"

Cordelia blinked, then looked at him and responded, "Because she tried to tell me she wasn't up to it, Gunn. . .I don't know whether she knew, or whether she was just afraid they'd stake her, but she said she wasn't up to it, and she was right, damn it." She shook her head and continued, "We could have given her things to do that wouldn't have gotten in the way. . .gotten her used to the whole idea that doing good was something that would give her a purpose in life. . .but I just had to send her straight into a place where everything she heard would tell her otherwise. . .she was doomed the second I sent her in there, Gunn. . .and it almost got us all killed."

Gunn sighed, then led her over to one of the lobby benches where they sat in silence for a moment before he responded, "Cordy. . .maybe part of her wanted to do good, but if she was going to stay that way, there were going to be a lot more temptations than some idiot running a pyramid scheme. . .I would have been cool with it if she had managed to pull off the whole redemption thing, but she just didn't, and I think that would have been the case no matter what you did." He reached out and squeezed her hand, then concluded, "Cordelia, if she really is capable of doing good, just have faith that she'll figure that out on her own. . .in the meantime, do what Picard did. . .grieve a little, then let it go."

Cordelia nodded, and a single tear slithered down her cheek as she looked up at Gunn and whispered, "Thanks." She blinked, then seemed to return to her old self as she grinned at Gunn and asked, "So now how do I make it up to Wesley, who hasn't betrayed me to the forces of darkness?"

Gunn grinned, then replied, "Well, it's about time for lunch. . .and taking English out to a decent restaurant and being nice to him in general would be a clue that you don't take him for granted. . .and you could take the opportunity to let him know why you went so ga-ga over those clothes."

Cordelia grimaced, then responded, "I guess I could do that. . .do you want to come along?"

Gunn grinned and replied, "Three's a crowd. . .and I want to get a good workout. . .thought I'd roust Angel up and get some good training in."

Cordelia snickered and commented, "You have a seriously weird idea of a good time, Gunn." She stood up, smiled at him, and headed off toward Wesley's office.

Gunn watched her go, then started upstairs in the direction of Angel's room. Truth be told, he wasn't as ticked off as Wesley and Cordelia had been at Angel, but he wasn't beyond exploiting whatever guilt Angel had about him to get Angel to show him a few more moves with that nasty collection of weapons Angel had stashed in his room. Grinning, he picked up his pace, dismissing the question of how Cordelia would settle things with Wesley from his mind.


As always, comments are welcome and desired.