Disclaimer: I do not own any recognizable characters (if I did things would be different). I am not making any profit.
Author's Note: This story takes place right after Fallout. While it is not necessary to read Fallout to follow the story below, it will help (especially for later parts of this story). The story that Angel tells is from a New Warriors annual, and the polite word for what she whispers is castrate. This is NOT Marvel canon. Let me know if Vance is actually likable. Apologies for getting NY teacher certification incorrect, as I undoubtedly did.
Vance glanced at his watch, only two minutes later than the last time that he looked. He had a date with Angel tonight, their fifth since they had gotten back together. He wasn't sure how much she trusted him yet, but in his more secure moments he was sure that she liked what he called the new Vance. At the end of the semester, he would suggest a weekend getaway, perhaps to a B&B up state. Thanks to Nita's ingenuity, the Warriors were actually getting a paycheck, not a large one, but enough. And the team, by and large, was getting closer. He felt happier than he had been in a long time.
Focus, he thought, trying to turn his attention back to the book he needed to read for a paper. The inflated prose didn't help. He had thought working at the library would help, but it didn't. This was what he got for deciding to double major in science and education. Despite the extra work he had put in during his time in the Vault, he still had to do another year to make up the education credits for his certification. After working for Child Watch, he had discovered that he actually liked working with children. He wasn't sure who would hire someone with a criminal record, but the people at Child Watch had been encouraging.
Focus, he remained himself. Perhaps if he switched books and read another for a little bit, he would be able to go back to this one. He reached into his backpack. Along with the book out came an envelope with his name on it.
He stared at it. Where had it come from? He glanced around the library. There were only a few students on the other side of the room. With some hesitation, he opened it carefully and shook the folded piece of paper out. He used a pen to unfold the paper so he could read the typewritten note. "You do not know me, but I care for you. Your girlfriend doesn't. If you don't believe me, ask her what happened the weekend you went on the Child Watch trip". There was no signature.
He frowned at the note. A stalker? No, it must be some kind of sick joke. He thought back to that weekend. It had been shortly before Angel had left and when he was being a complete ass to her. When he had returned from the trip, he thought, she had been quiet, and Rich had been attentive to her. It had been why, in part, Vance had lost it when he had seen her leaving Rich's apartment. Had something happened between them? He shook his head; he didn't think so. But there was a small worm of doubt.
He shoved it aside. The better question was who had sent the note and how he or she had known about Angel. His secret identify was somewhat compromised with the trial. And as Siobhan had said, if you knew the secret identity of one, you could figure out the others. He had spent time after his release at Angel's home.
He slid the letter, envelope, and books into his backpack. It was still early, but he wouldn't be able to study. He could meet Angel after her class, and they could figure out this whole thing. If they didn't, they would take it to the rest of the Warriors.
It was, after all, most likely nothing.
Vance waited outside Angel's art history class. He perked up when the students started to leave the classroom. His eyes scanned the rather small crowd, looking for Angel. Apparently not many students took a 300 level art history course. He saw her the minute she left the room. She was talking animatedly with one of her classmates, James, if he remembered the name correctly.
She saw him and with one last word to James, who nodded at him, came over. "Hey," she said as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in for a kiss. "I thought I was supposed to meet you at the library," she finished when he let her breathe again.
"I finished early and thought I would meet you."
She frowned at him. He had that worried expression on his face, the one that he had worn so often after the Vault. "What's wrong?"
He looked around; they couldn't talk here. The answer came out before he thought, "Later."
Her whole face closed itself off from him. She took a small step back. "Oh," was all she said. So we're back to that, she thought.
Vance realized that he would to ban that word from his vocualbary; he had said it far too much to her before. He pulled her back to him, "I meant, not here. Too many people. Can we go back to your place and have dinner there instead of going out?"
"As long as you don't mind pasta," her blue green eyes scanned his face. "The others?"
"Are fine. I've got my bike. C'mon."
The water for the penne
was on the stove and the doctored sauce was simmering away. The loaf
of bread that they had picked up from the local farmer's market was
in the stove warming up. Vance and Angel sat at the small table.
"Someone," Vance said, pulling the note from his back pack and
sliding it over to Angel, "Put this in my backpack today."
The color drained from her face as she read the note. "Angel," he said gently, "Did something happen that weekend?" He couldn't get a good look at her face for she was staring down at her hands. She nodded slowly.
He moved his chair closer, took her hands into his; they had gone cold. He tried to peer at her face. She was frightened to tell him that much was clear. "What? Was something to do with Rich?" If something had happened between her and Rich, Vance thought, it was his own fault for pushing her away.
She looked at him, "No, though Rich knows what happened."
He felt a little relief poke though the worry. "So what happened?" he asked still keeping his voice gentle.
"Jupiter and I went to a frat party. This guy," her voice tightened and the word was all but spat out, "she liked was throwing it. When we got there, she went off with him."
"Did anything happen to you?" he asked. If someone had slipped something into her drink, he thought, his blue eyes watching her carefully.
She smiled wanly and shook her head. "I thought the party was horrible. But Jupes," she paused. The anger from that night was still raw. "The guy raped her. I didn't find out until after we left."
Vance exhaled slowly. "Did she go to the police?"
Angel shook her head, "She was drunk, and . . . "
"And what?" he asked.
"I asked her if she wanted," Angel's voice had gotten smaller. "If she wanted me to take care of it, and she said yes. So . . ."
"You confronted him," Vance interjected, his eyes not leaving her face.
"Yes. I waited until after he left. And . . . "she stopped trying to figure out how to describe what she had almost done next. Uncertain as to what his reaction was going to be, she feared that he would either lecture her or storm out, raging about how she had let him down.
"Put the fear of god into him," Vance supplied.
She nodded and looked back down at her hands. "Yes, but I almost . . . I wanted to . . ."
She whispered something that he couldn't quite catch.
He almost asked what, but then he understood. "But you didn't."
She nodded, "Only at the last moment, though."
He pulled into her his arms, seating her on his lap. She put her arms around his neck and buried her face into his shoulder. She wasn't crying, but she clung to him, surprised at his open acceptance.
"Jupiter's getting counseling?" he asked, rubbing her back gently.
"Controlling our powers is tough sometimes, huh?"
She moved so she could study his face, "The only other times I felt like that was with Frost and when I found my father bleeding out."
The hiss from the stove as the water started to boil over startled them. Reluctantly, Angel got up and turned down the heat a little before adding the penne.
"Do you think anyone saw you?" Vance asked as he took out the plates and the silverware.
"No. I made sure he was alone," she replied, uncovering the sauce and stirring it.
He frowned, "Then whoever sent the note must have known, at the very least, that you went out."
"Or when I went back to the Crash pad," Angel replied. "That's where I went afterwards. Rich arrived later."
Vance nodded, "I can understand how the person knows about me. But you, to follow you or to monitor the Warriors that way, that long …" He couldn't finish. He pulled out his phone and called Thrash. By the time he had finished calling the Warrior's erstwhile sometime leader, Angel was draining the penne. "Thrash and Nita are going to call the others. But neither of them have seen anything," Vance said. "And I'm staying here tonight, just to be on the safe side."
"What?" Angel said, looking up as she put the penne on the table. "I can take care of myself."
"Whoever it is, knows who you are. Knows we're back together. I'm not leaving you alone."
"It's you the person cares about," she replied fishing the bread out of the oven. "Unless it's some sick joke. You're more at risk, especially if you spend the night."
He shook his head as he moved the sauce to the table. "Whoever this is, doesn't like you. If I act like we had a fight, then whoever it is could think attacking you is a good idea. Anything we do could be the wrong thing to do. I'll feel better knowing you're okay. I'm staying."
Not entirely displeased, she handed him his glass. "The note is wrong," she said quietly.
"I know," he replied, kissing her.
"The penne's going to get cold," Angel softly
"Not really a problem is it?" he kissed her again.