Author: Roseveare, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, bad language and bad jokes)
Summary: "Of all the options I was weighing for the evening, being held captive by gangster demons alongside *you* was not exactly a feature on my list..." Wesley and Doyle are having a Really Bad Day.
Background: An episode of Angel: the Cyber Series, set in an alternate universe where Hero never happened. In the previous episode, Doyle almost died from a demon illness caught off Dinah, the demon child Cordy has been looking after. Wesley showed up in LA but has not yet met the AI team, only Harry. Read previous stories by various writers at http://www.haelen.org/cleocalliope/atcs/
Disclaimer: Joss and co own all Angel the series characters and concepts, not me. I make no profit from this. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Author Note: Roseveare attempts to write action comedy. And original Buffyverse characters. Ye gods... just shoot me now.
Note: Marlon the demon would like to thank his agent, his mum, the inspirational stars of all those old classics, and the other nice people who made his guest starring role possible.
From the outside, the office of Angel Investigations looked every bit like the workplace of a vampire, Wesley Wyndham Pryce noted, staring up at the imposing, dark building which seemed to dominate that stretch of the street.
Remembering exactly how well his encounters with Angel had gone in the past gave him cause to hesitate, and he'd been standing outside for several minutes now, debating whether or not to risk going in. But, according to Harry Doyle, Cordelia now worked here alongside that particular vampire, and that had to be one mark in the fellow's favour at least. Overcoming his impulse to turn around and walk in the opposite direction, Wesley pushed open the doors.
The journey up in the elevator seemed unreasonably long before it finally shuddered to a halt and he stepped out tentatively into a hallway where staircases branched off to floors above and below. The door leading off the stairwell into Angel's business premises was open, and the area immediately visible from outside was empty, although he could hear voices from somewhere. Two distinct voices, he noted, in slightly heated discussion. They were too muffled by the intervening walls for him to make out the words. He craned his body around the half-open door, trying to keep his toes from crossing the threshold, but he couldn't see the speakers.
Looking into Angel's office now, he re-evaluated his opinion of the place, finding the rooms incongruously sunny, and with far too many windows to be an obvious choice as the abode of the undead.
He was tempted to wait where he was, nervous of progressing further uninvited, but he doubted Angel's business had the manpower to have somebody on duty at reception in the outer office all working hours and realised he could be waiting a long time. So he steeled himself and headed towards the source of the voices.
The woman's voice he recognised as he drew closer. It took his mind back to that one last wonderful night in Sunnydale before his world came crashing down around him. And also, less pleasantly, of one hideously embarrassing parting kiss he'd rather had remained locked in the depths of his brain along with a great many other recent events.
The man's voice, on the other hand, he didn't recognise. It certainly wasn't Angel, not unless he'd acquired a strong Irish brogue since last Wesley had encountered him. It was an expressive voice, but with years of hard living ingrained in it. He recognised humour in it, and a slightly defensive edge.
From the sound of things Cordelia was delivering a singularly bossy tongue-lashing to her unknown companion. Wesley frowned, hearing that tone in her voice. He'd been aware in Sunnydale that she had her abrasive side, couldn't have missed how she dealt with other people, but that attitude had never been aimed at him.
"So you think you're well enough to go out and get killed now, do you?" she was saying, her tone a distinct nag. "You think one near Doyle-death experience wasn't enough for my nerves?"
"Look, Cordy," came the reply, "I appreciate all the concern but I'm all right now-" she did something that made him break off and a there was a *whump* sound "-ow! Okay, so I'm mostly all right now, and was that really necessary? Anyway, I reckon I'm close enough to all right to help out a little with more than just bloody bookwork, at any rate. There's only so much coddlin' a guy can take, y'know... not complainin', mind, I mean there's nobody in the world I'd rather be coddled by an' all -"
"Flattery will not distract me. You were really, really sick. You could've died. You still look lousy."
"You better listen to me, buster, 'cause that macho crap does not impress me, and if you go get yourself killed, I'll... be really, really annoyed..." Her voice trailed off as she seemed to realise that wasn't much of a threat.
Wesley took the opportunity of the lull in their conversation to peer around the corner and tap politely on the wall. Both occupants of the room looked up. Cordelia was standing by a coffee machine, her companion was slouched in an old chair close by.
He was taken aback by Cordelia's appearance. The mental picture branded into his mind was of her in that remarkable silver dress which had made her glow like starlight at the prom, and he knew fashion was important to her in some mysterious way beyond the understanding of the likes of him, so to see her now in battered denims and a shirt that looked like somebody else's was something of a surprise. She looked older somehow, too, in a way that was nothing to do with physical aging.
"Ah... the door was open, and there was nobody on reception," he said, apologetically. "I hope you'll forgive the intrusion."
Her mouth worked without sound for a moment. "Wesley," she said finally, and stretched a grin across her face that he was disappointed to realise wasn't entirely genuine. "Erm... hi. Harry said you were in LA."
"Hello, Cordelia," Wesley said hoarsely. She wasn't happy to see him. He supposed that meant it truly was over. He had known, really, that it had been over with that kiss, although the residue of their attraction had been enough to provide a few pretty memories and fantasies within all the shreds of his life the last few months. He pulled his spirits back up with determination. She was still his friend, or at least the closest thing he had to one in this city. "I trust you're well." He glanced around the room. "This seems an unusual environment to find you in, I must say."
"Wesley?" Cordelia's companion, a dark-haired man in shabby clothes whose pale skin did indeed have the appearance of lingering illness about it, straightened up in his seat, leaning forward to scrutinize him distrustfully with clear blue-green eyes. He turned to Cordelia and repeated the question meaningfully. Obviously he hadn't missed whatever they had of an 'old date' vibe. "He knows Harry?"
"Um, Wesley, this is Doyle, he works here with Angel too. Doyle, this is Wesley. I knew him in Sunnydale. He was... my prom date. I thought I'd told you how Harry met him at her conference?"
Wesley, similarly, didn't miss the 'new date' - or maybe it was 'potential date' - vibe coming from this scruffy individual as Cordelia placed her hand on Doyle's shoulder. He didn't look much like Cordelia's type.
"Must say, you look a little old to have gone to High School with Cordy," Doyle remarked.
"Funny man. He was Buffy's watcher. For a while. He worked at the school."
"I'm pleased to meet you," Wesley said, stepping forward to hold out a hand despite his reservations. Doyle stood up to shake with obvious reluctance. "Any friend of Cordelia's..." He allowed the phrase to trail off uncompleted.
He'd hoped for chance to speak with Cordelia alone, but could tell he wasn't going to get that. Not at the present time, in any case. He said, neutrally, "So, you're working for Angel now? Where is he, then?"
But that was apparently not the safe, polite query he had thought. A realisation seemed to cross her expression, and she bristled with defensive aggression. "Harry said you were a demon hunter now," she said darkly. "Well, you can keep your demon hunting well away from these offices. Just so's you know - and I cannot stress this enough - Angel and Doyle are strictly no-hunting territory. Get that?"
"I had no intention of -" Wesley began indignantly. "And it's rogue demon hunter, actually." He hesitated as the implications of what she'd said sunk in, and glanced at Doyle.
"Cordy!" the man - demon? - spluttered in horrified protest. "Just 'cause I maybe neglected to divulge that particular piece of information quite so soon as I should've doesn't mean you hafta tell every stranger that walks through the door! Especially the ones who do the demon-huntin'!"
"He's not a stranger. He's Wesley. And come on, I mean if he killed you by mistake, how embarrassing would that be? Duh."
Doyle turned his gaze on Wesley with a disbelieving look that said, You dated this? and Wesley bemusedly returned a look of, You want to date this?
The connection lasted for all of a second before they each looked away, mutually irritated to have found any common ground.
It occurred to Wesley that maybe he hadn't known Cordelia terribly well. Certainly the person he was speaking with now did not match the woman of his recollections. From the way she was also studying him in return, quite probably neither of them had seen the other very clearly in that brief besotted time at Sunnydale.
Wesley forced his brain to return to more serious matters. His eyes returned to Doyle.
"He's... a demon," he said, having difficulty adjusting to the fact. The rather short man in front of him did not look terribly demonic - although he knew that meant little. But why would Cordelia hang around with a demon? Angel, well... Angel was an exception, or at least everyone in Sunnydale had seemed more or less to think so. And apparently he'd got quite the reputation for helping people in LA, with this investigative firm of his.
"I'm bloody not," Doyle said indignantly. "I'm half demon. Difference being the half human part."
"Uh, yeah." Cordelia's eyes flickered between them, in faint awkwardness. Evidently it was a sensitive subject. She waved a hand as though conjuring the matter away, and looked around, apparently for some form of distraction. Which she found in the form of the coffee mug she held up with a dazzling grin. "Wesley. Do you... want coffee?"