Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon and Angel the series.
A/N: Okay things are not going to be pretty this chapter. I am horrible at keeping the line for censorship and ratings so I'm going to try really hard to keep things as safe as possible. No details, however there are going to be plenty of things alluded to that might still squick the readers, and for that I apologize. To do this realistically, in my mind, there was no way for it not to get to this point.
As soon as they'd gotten into the car Angel had barked at Wesley to call Gunn. They knew that Gunn would call if there was a problem, but they didn't doubt Lorne's advice. Wesley tried several times and shook his head. No answer. Lindsey had pulled out his phone and called the hotel itself, wincing as Cordelia's smile filled voice came on. Answering machine. Angel pulled up out front, not wanting to waste time and ran in, they saw Gunn on the floor, blood pooled under him. Wesley and Angel checked for a pulse and finding one Angel looked up at Wesley.
"Call an ambulance, stay with him."
"Stay with him!"
Lindsey was on his way to the stairs but Angel pushed past him. Taking them two at a time and putting on a burst of speed that made him all but a blur he pushed open the door to his room. Hoping, praying, and knowing it would do no good. The room was empty.
He raced out of the room and closed his eyes, listened, smelled for her. Her fear led from the room and down the hall, to the back of the hotel. Lindsey made it up the stairs and looked at him.
"It's fresh, I think she's still here. Take this floor, I'll go up one more."
Lindsey started room by room, screaming her name and alternately Robert's. Identifying himself in hopes that he'd come out for him.
Angel took to the third floor. Little used as most of it was in dangerously bad condition. He picked around the rooms, silently. Trying to tune out Lindsey as he listened for her, her breathing, her heartbeat, anything. He heard something and headed in the direction it came from. As he got closer he recognized two heartbeats, one much faster than the other.
Time had stopped meaning anything. Cordelia had been pulled from sleep into a nightmare and this time she knew that he'd kill her. She'd seen Gunn on the floor and yelled, but he stopped her from going downstairs. He wanted that game of hide and seek and so she raced. Running through rooms to the top floor. She knew it was dangerous up there, but she wanted to buy herself some time. She also hoped that he'd stumble into the wrong room and hurt himself. Her luck hadn't held out and once he found her she had stumbled in an attempt to run. Her foot going through the floor and jagged wood had made the first cut. It wasn't the last. The first time had been nothing but violence. At times she couldn't breathe from the pain and he covered her mouth, to silence the hoarse cries and sobs. She thought it was over then and was honestly looking forward to a quick death. Except it wasn't. He'd whispered it in her ear and the words would follow her until the end of her days.
"My last shot in L.A. Want to make it last."
He'd started again. Letting her think he was tired, that she could get away, only to make small cuts and corner her. When she stopped fighting slammed her to the floor again. This time he left her mouth uncovered. Other uses for his hands, his nails. He whispered the entire time. Telling her what he really thought about her. What a tease. What a slut. Getting what sluts deserve. Enjoying it, always enjoying it, but playing the game. Pretending she's a good girl when she's anything but. But wasn't he just giving her what she wanted. Didn't she just love him for it.
She stopped crying, she thought she had no more tears. But she was wrong. Before he could continue they heard it. Angel called her name. Her body jerked under his, suddenly she was fighting again and he was not happy. He covered her mouth again and warned her. Her friend downstairs was dead. He'd kill the others too. Getting up he hauled her farther into the room. Stay quiet, stay still. But her legs barely held her up. Fresh bruises already blossoming and every muscle screamed. She grabbed his arm as he lifted her off her feet and backed into the room, eyes on the door. Her breathing was hard, but not loud. He warned her about being loud. All she could do was stay still. One arm around her waist the other over her mouth. Her toes scraping the ground as she heard other voices. She heard a siren.
She might have heard the footsteps, but her heart was pounding. So hard she felt it in her head, in her throat and let out a small whine.
Angel heard the ambulance, and knew if he didn't find her soon, the police would deal with Robert. Or worse, he'd use Cordelia to get out of here and away. Kill her later. He stayed silent and turned down the hall. It was this way, he knew, he could hear the heartbeats, he just needed to find the right room. Hand on the handle of a door he heard a whimper, soft, and a hiss after it. He let go of the door handle and moved down one more door, then kicked it in. The light from across the street glared into a broken window and lit the room in nothing but shadows and a pale blue. Still, the scent and sight of blood was stark and he was in game face before he took his first step. Robert's eyes went wide, anyone would think he didn't know he wasn't the only monster out there.
"Let her go!"
Robert dropped the hand from her mouth and reached for a knife. Angel heard the click and froze, eyes darting from the knife at her throat and Robert's face. Robert just grinned.
"What, and ruin such a lovely game?"
She barely breathed it, but he looked at her and saw the tears start again. Her eyes were puffy, and red, one barely open. He took a step forward and Robert took one back.
"Ah ah ah! That's not how we play."
Angel growled and Robert took another step back, the floor boards groaned and Cordelia gasped, it was too fast, even for Angel. The floor gave way and the two went through the floor. Angel ran forward, arm out for her, but she closed her eyes and tried to curl up to brace for impact. They fell back, down into an unfurnished room on the second floor. Leaning down he watched, listened, for heartbeats, for movement. Cordelia went to roll away from Robert but screamed, her arm was hanging lifeless and Robert was coughing, blood coming from his mouth. Angel swung himself down to land to the side just as Cordelia found the knife. Robert saw her and reached for her, spitting blood as he screamed.
Angel turned and reached for him. Grabbed his shoulder but he'd already had fingers in her hair. She yelped and then screamed at the touch. Turning she slammed the blade into his chest. Practice with stakes helping her to drive it straight into his heart. His fingers tightened in her hair then dropped and she kept screaming, now holding her arm that wouldn't move and scooting away. Angel let go of Robert's shoulder as he dropped to the floor again.
The noise had been heard, and Cordelia was caught between screaming and crying. Lindsey ran into the room and stared, he walked slowly towards her.
She whimpered and raised her head to look at him. Legs sprawled oddly in front of her as if she was a newborn foal unable to stand. She began shaking and Angel suddenly noticed her state of undress. He stood up and slipped off his coat. Lindsey shook his head and with dead hazel eyes staring at him, turned to fall to his knees and vomit. Angel saw her wince and walked over, blocking her view from the body and wrapped the coat around her. She flinched and he pushed the hair from her face.
"Cordelia. It's me. It's Angel."
"Angel? Angel he, killed Gunn, he, he -"
"Shh, Gunn's alive. There's an ambulance downstairs. I'm going to take you downstairs okay?"
"No! No, please I-"
He scooped her up anyway and held her close.
"I won't leave you alone You have to see someone."
"Robert, Robert's here, he's going to, he said, "
"He's gone. For good. I promise."
Lindsey looked up and wiped at his mouth. He just gave Angel a nod and let him take Cordelia downstairs to the waiting EMT. He was still sitting there when they came upstairs and asked him if he was all right, then rushed to check on Robert.
"Sir, Sir! Do you know who this man is?"
Lindsey nodded dumbly.
"He's my client."
Angel had kept to his word and didn't leave her side. Wesley volunteered to take the car and followed. Lindsey stayed until they came with another ambulance to take Robert, but told them he'd be there as soon as possible. They had insisted on separating Angel when they went to check on Cordelia but she started screaming and they sedated her. So he was again stuck in the waiting room with Wesley. Gunn had been taken in for surgery, so now they just waited. Wesley got them both some cheap coffee and Angel took it with a nod of appreciation.
"No major injuries I think. Dislocated her shoulder, some cuts, bruises and -"
"And he's dead."
"I wish I'd done in the bastard myself."
Angel closed his eyes, replaying it in his head. Her blind eyes, fear and hate as she simply stabbed her tormentor. No other thought then to get him to let go of her.
Wesley jerked and looked at him.
"Then you didn't?"
"No, she did. I don't think she knows it, she was, kind of out of it."
"What will we tell her?"
"That it's over."
Wesley nodded and leaned his head against the wall.
Lindsey joined them not long after, he said the police would be by in a bit, but not to worry about it. Wesley snorted at that but said nothing. The doctor's arrived to talk about Gunn first. He was out of surgery, he'd lost a lot of blood, thankfully, no major internal organs were hit. Angel asked about Cordelia but the doctor only said they would let them know when she was able to have visitors and moved to a room. Meanwhile they were welcome to go visit Gunn while he was waking up from the surgery.
Lindsey offered to stay, believing correctly that Gunn had no wish to see him there. Angel and Wesley headed to the room and saw him. He was groggy, but asked about Cordelia, apologized a few times. It wasn't until Angel put a hand on his shoulder and told him not to worry about it. They explained the Cordelia was alive, and Robert wasn't.
"You just worry about getting better."
Gunn nodded, but only because he was too tired to argue, and he drifted back to sleep pretty easily. Angel and Wesley stayed with him, Wesley in the chair and Angel pacing until Lindsey showed up.
"We need to go. Lilah is here and she's bullying her way into Cordelia's room."
Angel growled and Wesley shot up as they headed out into the hall. Ready to stop any nurse or doctor to find her room, but Lindsey had already found out which one she was in. Lindsey knocked then opened the door and headed inside. Angel and Wesley right behind him. The nurse was poised to give Cordelia something to sleep so Cordelia stopped her.
"Not yet. Please, I need, to see my friends."
She looked between them then glared at the men.
"Don't stay long, she needs her rest."
With a promise of not taking long and a smile, Wesley won her over and she left them alone. Cordelia looked at them all but Lindsey glanced away from her and she closed her eyes.
"You don't have to be here."
"Yes I do."
Lindsey glanced to Angel and Wesley and debated asking for a moment alone but knew he wasn't getting it. So he walked over to the bed and took the seat right there. Reaching for her hand he ran his thumb over her fingers and lowered his voice as if it would give them some privacy.
"This, should never have happened. I know, I can't possibly say I'm sorry enough. I know it can't mean anything, just words. But Cordelia you have to believe me -"
She turned her head to look at him. So exhausted both mentally and physically that her eyes were emotionless.
"Are you here as Lindsey or as a representative of Wolfram and Hart?"
He winced at that and nodded.
"I'm just asking because I already gave the police my statement."
Angel and Wesley both jerked at that.
"What? What did you tell them?"
Cordelia looked at Angel and she felt her throat closing.
"What, he did to me. Tonight. I couldn't tell them about before. I kept thinking it was just a dream before. Just, nightmares, but this was, was real, and I don't know what they're going to do to him, but he's just going to get away and he'll -"
Angel quickly walked to the other side of the bed. Lindsey wouldn't let go of her hand and so he wiped at the tear that escaped and brushed his hand over her forehead.
There was more, so much more, but right now, that's all she needed to hear and he knew it. Her eyes widened and she looked at him.
He shook his head and she went to turn and look at Lindsey then stopped. Her head dropped back onto the bed.
"Oh god. It's over. He killed Gunn and, now it's over."
Angel frowned, and Wesley moved to stand beside him.
"No, no Cordelia, we just saw Gunn. He's alive and well. Oh, well, not well, but the doctor's assure us he'll be fine."
Her eyes opened and she looked at him as if she wasn't sure, and he nodded. She looked at Angel and he nodded as well.
"And, Robert's dead. I, I killed him didn't I?"
Angel smiled softly and ran a thumb along her cheek.
"You proved me wrong. You finished it, all alone."
She broke a sob and slapped a hand over her mouth. Lindsey winced and held her hand, bending to kiss at the knuckles. They weren't there a few more seconds when the nurse came and shooed them away. She sedated Cordelia and the three men headed out to the waiting room to decide what to do next. No one wanted to leave her alone in the hospital. Unfortunately, they had little choice.
Lilah was right there wanting to get at Cordelia to press charges in the death of a rather lucrative client. She mentioned that she was only doing the leg work for Lindsey then smiled and mentioned that he was there awfully fast, the Senior Partners would be impressed. Lindsey growled something to Angel, but he didn't understand. Wesley did and quickly dug out a five dollar bill, the smallest he had, and shoved it in Lindsey's hand. Just like that, the man had tendered his resignation and taken Cordelia's case.
He knew the ins and outs and as angry as the Senior Partners were, they were willing to not only let this go, but settle for a tidy sum and all medical expenses. That way, they could keep the bulk of Robert's estate in escrow for themselves. In the end, parting with medical costs and half a million dollars for punitive damages, all on the assurance that Cordelia would not press charges, was still a pittance compared to what they'd get.
Cordelia would be kept for three days, and Gunn a week. They visited every day and no one mentioned to Cordelia just yet about the sum she would come into for the murder. It was enough to know there would be no charges against her because of it. No one wanted her to be alone and the truth was, she didn't think she could handle it. So with a spell Wesley found, he moved Dennis to a set of rooms at the Hyperion and they got her things brought over for her. The marks were healing, but she was going to need more than time to deal with it all.
Even Angel was surprised to find her packed and ready when they came to pick her up. Lindsey dealing with paper work, Wesley gone to check on Gunn for a moment, he expected to find her still in bed and ready to order him to help her pack. Instead she was sitting there, dressed in the clothes they'd brought before and a bag next to her. He stopped, and tried for a smile.
"Hey. You here alone?"
"Oh, um Wes is checking on Gunn and Lindsey is doing paperwork."
She nodded and took a deep breath.
"That's good. I, kind of wanted to talk to you anyway."
He moved over to the bed and sat down next to her. Neither looking at each other, staring at their hands in their laps.
"Yeah. About, living at the Hyperion, and work and -"
"You don't have to work. I mean, we would love to have you back but, it's fine. We all want you to just, take your time."
She smiled and reached for his hand. He looked at their hands then over to her a bit surprised. She'd been trying, but was still skittish on being touched.
"I want to work. I think, I need to. And I wanted to thank you, for letting me move in. I know no one said it but, I really, didn't want to be alone. They, gave me some pills. To help me sleep. But, "
"Cor, anything you need."
He interrupted softly. She looked at him and her lip trembled but she bit it to stop.
She closed her eyes and nodded. Her voice shakier now.
"Don't leave me. I know I'm, messed up now and, not good for, well, anything anymore but please. . . "
He let go of her hand and wrapped an arm around her, kissing the top of her head.
"I'm not going anywhere. I promise. Cor, nothing is more important then you right now. Whatever you need to get better, to get stronger."
She gave a small laugh and he pulled back enough to look down at her. She glanced up then rolled her eyes.
"You said strong-er. You have to be strong before you can get strong-er."
He lifted her chin and frowned down at her.
"Cordelia, you are strong. You are, the strongest person I know. For years you've hidden it behind this not caring attitude but it's not that you don't care, it's that you care too much. You say what you think, you only offer to help when you want to, which is almost always. You sacrifice yourself all the time. Not just for us, but for strangers. You are, so strong. And if you don't feel it right now, then, lean on us. We've leaned on you enough times, it's our turn. Okay?"
She nodded and reached up for his hand.
His eyes drifted to her mouth and he leaned in just slightly. It wasn't the time, it was never the time, and before he could talk himself in or out of kissing her, the door opened and he leaned back again. Lindsey frowned then gave him a dirty look before turning to Cordelia with a smile.
"Paper work is done. You ready?"
Cordelia licked at her lips but tore her eyes from Angel to look at Lindsey.
"I just want to see Gunn first."
In order to stop any arguments, Cordelia rode in Wesley's car. Angel's was older and Lindsey's was a sports car, so the logic was that the easiest, smoothest ride, would be in Wesley's car. They all arrived at about the same time and Wesley waved her away from carrying anything of hers in. Lindsey took her arm and wrapped one of his around her waist to head inside. Angel, not to be outdone, opened the doors for them and followed them inside, where they all stopped in the lobby.
"Well, here we are, home sweet . . . . . . "
He saw what stopped them. Willow sat on the couch and when she raised her eyes, they were red and puffy with tears. She glanced confused to them all but when she caught Angel's eyes, they softened and the message was clear. At least to him.
A/N: I know I know, what a horrible place to leave it! However, in order to stop this from dragging out, I am ending it just as the series ended! Not to worry, the unfinished business is hammering at me so there will be a sequel! I'm kind of liking the sequel idea rather than really long stories that you have to stay up until four a.m. to finish reading. Or is that just me?