Author: Roseveare, email@example.com
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.
"It's Doyle? Yes, Dennis, let him in!" Cordy's voice reached him, sounding more muted from the inside of her apartment than seemed justified by the intervening door, as though she was half whispering. The door opened apparently of its own accord and Doyle stepped inside.
"Thanks, Den," he muttered. A ghostly touch that was evidently meant to be friendly brushed his shoulder and chilled him to the bone.
Cordelia was on the couch. She was sitting very still, because Dinah was asleep across the couch with her head resting on Cordelia's knee.
He noticed as she glanced up at him that she looked like she'd been deep in thought about something, seeming dazed and subdued and contemplative. Not things he was accustomed to seeing in Cordy's face. She also looked as though she hadn't had any sleep at all, dark smudges marking her eyes.
He hoped she didn't have any auditions lined up: she'd probably find some way to blame him for her having to turn up looking like a panda.
"Doyle," she said, sounding a little surprised. And was that a trace of nervousness he detected in her voice? She moved to stand, then stilled and looked helplessly down at the sleeping child. "Uh..."
She gestured towards the kitchen, and began to slowly, carefully manoeuvre herself off the sofa, edging a cushion under Dinah's head in place of her knee.
Doyle followed her into the kitchen and waited while she carefully closed the door. "Angel said you were worried...?" he ventured.
She hesitated. He was bewildered by how concerned and attentive she seemed. Her mouth kept jumping open in little false starts as though she wanted to tell him something. Doyle found Silent Cordy a truly disturbing irregularity.
"I'm glad you're okay," she said softly, finally.
Doyle was taken aback at hearing anything approaching tenderness in Cordelia's voice after the way she'd been lately. He managed to choke out a nervous, "Yeah? Me too. And I'm glad you're glad-"
She cut him off, waving her hands dismissively, and launched into speech quickly and breathlessly before he had chance to respond. "Angel was talking to me earlier, and, you know... well, actually he didn't say much - this is Angel after all - but the not-much he said... it kind of got me thinking about some stuff, and with you getting all kidnapped and not knowing what was happening to you or if you'd be all right..."
Doyle blinked, trying to process this. His brain wasn't exactly at optimum, and her whirlwind speed was making him dizzy. Talking to Angel? What- "Cordelia, I..." I haven't the first clue what you're talking about.
"Anyway," she forged on, "Angel and I, we discussed this question earlier, and I guess I've finally had chance to think on it and make a decision, and I just wanted you to know... you know. The answer."
Completely lost, Doyle said blankly, "Answer?"
The expression which was creeping over her face told him he'd said the wrong thing. With suspicion, she leaned forward and sniffed at his breath. His heart sped up at her face being that close to his own, but she drew back instantly, and her whole demeanour couldn't have shouted out 'annoyed!' any louder.
"You're drunk," she said, the pitch of her voice climbing in furious disbelief.
"Well, I can't deny I may have had a drink or a few." Doyle laughed nervously. "It's kind of a funny story, actually, you see..."
Cordelia flung her arms up. "I don't want to hear it! I was worried about you, would you believe? Worried! I mean, being beat up and kidnapped by horrible gangster demons... only you could turn that into an excuse to get kablooied. Only you! I don't believe this..."
She turned on her heel and stomped out of the kitchen, slamming the door.
Doyle stared at the closed door, blinking. "Cordy?"
He had a feeling it was a good thing that the muffled reply which reached his ears was all but inaudible.
"I did nearly get killed," he called after her hoarsely. "A number of times, might I add?"
He ventured out of the kitchen only to discover the living room was empty and the door of Cordelia's bedroom was firmly closed. Dinah stirred restlessly on the sofa, disturbed but not awakened by the noise. Doyle carefully crossed the room and whispered loudly through Cordelia's door, "Cordy?"
"You can let yourself out."
Doyle sighed and, shaking his head at the mystery that was Cordelia Chase, he wearily staggered off home to get some sleep.
"Will you be all right?" Angel asked.
He hadn't wanted to leave Marlon on his own after what had happened. So, once Wesley had gone and they'd dropped off Doyle at Cordelia's, along with Harry who had to pick up her car, Angel had invited Marlon back to the office, offering him some of Doyle's stash of whiskey. Although his offer had been to talk things through over a drink, most of the past few hours had in fact been spent in silence. Marlon didn't seem to mind silence any more than Angel did, though.
Now, the demon was preparing to make tracks as the first traces of the imminent dawn touched the sky. "Sure, sure," he replied to Angel's question, flexing his injured arm as he drew on his coat, wincing. "I heal quick. One of the perks. It'll be good as new in another few hours."
"That... wasn't actually what I meant."
Marlon nodded, but didn't reply.
"Where will you go?" Angel pressed.
"Not back to the house." Well, they both knew that. They'd agreed the best option was to tip off the police about Hanley, who they'd left there unconscious. Angel had wanted to hide the bodies of the demons but Marlon had said let the police make what they would of them, because whatever they came up with to explain it, it wouldn't be the truth.
Angel supposed he could trust the demon's word on that: Marlon was an expert at playing on human disbelief.
"I've got places," Marlon said finally. He sighed. Angel thought of sewers, and sympathised, but could imagine Cordelia's reaction to him letting a demon crash at the office all too well. "I never thought it would end like this. Tony and Uxzijdxz... I really thought they were decent guys, deep down. I believed in them. Okay, I always knew Hanley was a bit iffy, who wouldn't be who'd make a deal like that with four demons? And poor Gary... it used to be just me and him, at the start, you know?"
"Sometimes people let you down," Angel said quietly. "But better to be surprised by it than to expect it."
"I guess that's true."
"Have you thought about what you'll do, now? I mean, maybe the villain thing wasn't really the right way to go. Maybe you could have a try at playing the hero?"
"You think I should make like you and start a PI business?" Marlon asked. He looked contemplative for a second. Angel imagined him thinking up all the new sources he could dredge for that role, and winced.
But Marlon laughed softly and shook his head. "No, I don't think so. Thanks for the suggestion, Angel, but I don't think I'm enough of the daredevil laughs-in-face-of-danger type. I was always more the figuring-out-how-to-avoid-danger-altogether type."
"Excuse me if I find that hard to believe, considering the things you've been up to," Angel said dryly.
"Believe what you like," he replied with a shrug. "But actually I always had a secret yen to open my own videostore - or even a cinema. A demons-only cinema. You think folks would go for that?"
Surprised, Angel said weakly, "You... could always try."
"That's right, I could." He frowned contemplatively, and nodded. "Yes, I could. I still have a little money, and I know a few people who might be interested in making the investment. Thanks, Angel. Maybe I'll see you around, eh?" Marlon headed for the door, still nodding slowly to himself.
He stopped half out of the doorway, his expression serious.
"I guess... we don't always have to live up to expectations," he said.
In his motel room, Wesley sat slumped on the edge of the ill-made bed sipping at a cup of tea and trying to calm the nerves that were still hyped up and on-edge from the events of the last sixteen hours.
Lacking money or transport, it had taken him the rest of the night to limp back across the city to the shabby motel that, lately, he tried hard not to call his home. He came back to peeling wallpaper, ancient furniture and that odd smell of damp with a feeling disturbingly like relief.
He'd called Cordelia, intending to leave a message to apologise for not turning up. Of course, she knew why he hadn't turned up, but manners cost nothing, after all. Expecting her to be asleep, he'd been surprised when she'd picked up. Then he'd been flabbergasted when, following a brief exchange, she'd irately declared he'd been drinking, gone off into an ear-splitting rant about men, then unceremoniously slammed the receiver down.
Wesley gazed out of the window. Outside, the yellow glow of early morning had already taken over the sky.
He wondered what Angel and the others were doing now. Doyle. Harry. That strange demon. Funny to find a demon that was interested in helping people, he mused, let alone three of them.
Funny to find an ex-watcher and demon hunter helping out a demon.
His father would spit. His father...
But his father was half the globe distant, as was the Watchers Council who'd rejected him. And both, in their own ways, had renounced any investment or interest in his actions. Angel and his people alone, it seemed, still cared to have him around.
The thing about burning your bridges, Wesley thought, was that it cut you free. A year ago, he couldn't afford even civility so far as Angel was concerned. But nobody was responsible for what he did now but himself, and if he wanted to help demons and vampires with souls rid LA of evil - well, God damn it, he would!
He set his shoulders and sat up straighter. The comforting feel of the tea warming his throat and a mellow, satisfied feeling that could have been happiness counteracted his bruises and exhaustion. Outside the window, the forecourt of the motel was beginning to come alive with early departing customers, and cleaning staff.
Although he had not slept in almost thirty hours, he didn't feel sleepy. In fact, he felt like he was just coming awake.
Calmly sipping his tea, Wesley Wyndham Pryce sat quietly and watched the day.