FALL REPORT

Disclaimer: the author does not claim ownership to the characters or plot development mentioned from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Angel". These properties expressly belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Greenwolf Corporation, 20th Century Fox Television, WB Network, etc. Any other characters contained in the original story are the author's.

Historical Note: The action in this story takes place after "To Shanshu In L.A."

Author's Note: This is the 8th installment of my series This Week at Angel Investigations.

AN ALMOST-FALL REPORT

by Evan Como

The weather really sucked this week. A little on the cold side. Although, it can never be hot enough for me. Perhaps I need to use a clarifying statement that it can never be hot enough IN THIS DIMENSION for me.

Cordelia called in sick which is really ridiculous because I'm watching her in the middle of her living room shredding her magazines and she looks perfectly fine. She is perfectly fine. She just wanted the day off. Wesley's knocked out on the sofa. I had him out until 3:30 this morning and he just kinda crawled in here and dropped. Dennis was at the ready with a pillow and blanket but Wes was gone the second he went horizontal. I guess I've been forgetting lately that he's just an ordinary human being.

Ooooooh! THAT skirt. No. THAT one. Yes! Lemme see... Shirt. Shirt. Shirt. Ew. Is that slobber? "Dennis! I think Wesley's drooling. Go wipe his mouth." Orange? Nah. OH! OH! OH! Armani Exchange leather shell. Oh, yeah. That's hot. Check out--

Answer the phone, Angel. Answer... Four. Pick it up! "Angel! Get the phone!" What's he-- Writing. "ANGEL!" ERRRRRRRRR.

"Angel Investigations. We help-- Oh, hi David..." Don't shake your head 'no', Angel. You made me... "Ummmmm. Tonight?" What am I hungry for? "Yes, I'm sure we can *all* make it tonight." Don't look like that, Angel. Dumbass. You should have-- "Alright. See you then, David. Um-hmmm. Bye bye now."

"I wish you wouldn't make plans without consulting me first. And what about Wesley? Maybe he won't want to go."

CordyVision attack! Hah! That's what you get for ignoring the phone. "Then you should have answered the phone, Angel. You could have refused." What am I even having this conversation for? "I'm not supposed to even be talking to you right now. I'm going back to being sick."

Cough. Cough.

Blah, blah, blah. Whatever, Angel. Talk to my butt. Get a taste of what it's like to have a conversation with someone who's not listening to OHMIGOD how could I have forgotten about crocodile! "Dennis! Gimme that page over there! The crocodile jacket. Oh, that's sooooo cute. You like?"

"Don't drop him, Angel."

Angel looked up at Wesley, bewildered. The informant dangled helplessly over the chasm of the incomplete freeway exchange, his pleas for mercy increasingly less audible the tighter Angel held his throat.

"But--"

"No, 'but', Angel. You know better than this." A horn blared in protest after a shoe fell into the streaming dual headlights hundreds of meters below. "And rush hour will be commencing in an hour or so, anyway. I don't imagine the PTB will be at all pleased if you close the Southbound 5 all morning."

Politely reprimanded, Angel simply nodded his acceptance and set the frightened being on its feet.

"Now what do you do?"

Lips skewing to one side, Angel squinted at Wesley. "Say I'm sorry?"

"Well don't *whisper* it to me, say it to Pierre."

"I'm sorry, Pierre."

Pierre, too busy attempting to unbuckle his knees for a speedy getaway, said nothing.

"And..."

Angel scuffed at the ground with the toe of his boot, stuffed his hands into his overcoat's pockets, ground his chin into his chest. His brow furrowed deeply. "Do I *have* to?"

Wesley peered over the top of his glasses.

Angel huffed. "I'm sorry, Pierre. And can you *please* forgive me?"

They looked after the being as it scrambled down the ramp and into the construction zone's darkness. Draping his arm around Angel's shoulder approvingly, Wesley related, "you're doing very well, Angel. I'm so proud of you."

The vampire did a poor job of concealing a grin.

Wesley beamed with pride. After one brisk hug he led Angel back to the Plymouth. "Now if I could just get you to keep in mind that the informants *are* meant to be reusable."

So, they're an interesting bunch, I've gotta say. And my Cordy. Ah. If I had met her 50 years ago, life would have been so much more-- Well, alive. No, Cordy. Enough leather, already! And how about some camel instead of all that shocking pink? Hold your horses! I'm getting it! Angel, c'mon. Answer the phone already! Answer... OK. ...we help the hopeless... He'll get the hang of that yet, I bet one day. He's just wrecked. Not that that's out of the norm for him. The whole almost losing Cordy and Churchill, losing his place. It's been his summer of misery. And then whatever happened out there last night with what him and Churchill went to go do. I think Angel killed the guy they went to go meet. I got in on the tail end of the conversation by the time I opened the door. Churchill was pissed, though. He has that look he shoots Angel. Mr. Disappointed is what I call him when he does that. Angel shot him Mr. I-Can-Kick-Your-Ass. Churchill didn't back down, though. He'll get like that, especially when he's too sleepy to argue. He'll let Angel push and push and then he'll get like that--he'll take a stand. Dare Angel. It's the weirdest. Because Angel, mad as he gets, will usually back down. Pick the strappy pumps, Cordy. No, not those. God, woman, you don't have to wear sandals with everything.

-0-

"Your anniversary? Really?" David Nabbit tore off a corner of his roll and slathered freshly roasted garlic across it. "You'll have to let me know exactly when and we'll go someplace where they sing for those kinds of things."

Cordelia, her hair piled into a brunette glob at the crown of her head, spun pageant charm, ignoring Wesley's groan when her smile expanded to full toothiness. "Actually, David, it was super kind for you to invite us to dinner tonight. And you have this table at Spago all to yourself every Friday night? That's so cool!"

"I should have worn boots," Wesley muttered in Angel's direction. "Isn't this rather ridiculous, by the way? You sitting down at a restaurant?"

"I can *do* this, Wesley." The reply, although borderline harsh, was more than effective as Wesley sank into his chair. "I'm sorry, Wes. That came out--"

"Rather rude?" The Brit's grey gaze burned into his menu with Scroll-tending intensity.

Angel rose hastily, feeling claustrophobic despite the nearly-panoramic view of Los Angeles spread below Sunset. Keeping his sight on the door, he tried to ignore the feeling that every eye in the restaurant was focused on his departure.

-0-

"You're calling in sick again, today?" Looking down at Cordelia lotus-positioned in the pile of fashionable scrap, Angel watched her add a bag and shoes to a pant and jacket combination, increasing the ensemble's value by a couple thousand dollars.

Cordelia spread out flat on her back to drop a black and white glossy knee length skirt over her drawstring pajama bottoms. "Guy, it's Saturday, Angel. Or can't I have Saturday's off anymore?"

Angel disapproved of the kaleidoscopic print turtleneck that wafted onto her chest. Cordelia, after craning her neck to examine Dennis' choice, obviously did too, but instead of removing the top, she replaced the skirt with a pair of pants. Smiling into the nothingness above her, a curly lock of her hair was lifted and whisked across the bridge of her nose.

She giggled.

"What are you doing that for anyway? You can't even afford any of those things."

Removing the photographic outfit, Cordy remained supine as she crossed her arms and barred a leg across the vee of the other. "Well, Angel. Since the weather's been all Fall I thought I'd do a little wish shopping. By next weekend, most of this stuff'll be at the Santee Alley so you can stop worrying about my budget. Why'd you blow off dinner last night?"

"I just-- Didn't want to be there. Just didn't feel like company."

"Anniversary blues?" Straightening, she squeegied her arm across the carpet, clearing a space which she patted.

Angel drooped into place beside her, shrugging.

Take a deep breath, Cordy. Let's see. Let's start with what happened with-- "What happened with Wesley the other night?" You know you want to tell me. Just start spilling those vampy guts. Hey! I bet I look pretty laying here, don't I? Which is probably why I shouldn't be laying like this. And a big ol' stretch would feel so good right about-- Cordy! Watch it. Ok. Just be cool. Just be-- Regular. "That's OK if you don't wanna talk about it. He didn't want to, either."

"I-- Just--"

Oh, great. This is gonna take all morning. Shruggy shoulders. Wincey-face. Eyebrowey whatever. Meaning... Meaning... What the hell are you trying to say? OK. Feeling anything? Nope. Nothing. "Angel?"

Whoo! Wounded puppy look. He never brings that one out. When'd he start wincing so much! That's not normal. Angel. "Angel, what'd you do?" OK. I just went vertical way too fast. Losing... Back... Deep breath. "Angel?"

Lemme just put these in order over here. Stack them one by one so she can get to them later. She should really reconsider this silver sequin number 'cause she'd look dynamite in it. Then that David guy could take her someplace she'd be seen. I know he's not her type but Cordy's the type of gal who should be seen. But here she is, holed up in this apartment with a ghost and a vampire. And Churchill spends so much time here he's practically a resident. Seems that Angel *almost* killed the guy Pierre they went to go talk to and he was one of the first guys he met--demon guys Angel met when he got to L.A. last year. He went a little overboard. Is that all? Sheesh! Whadda baby! Cordy's giving him a big hug right now which is probably all he wanted in the first place. He's lucky she's sweet like that. I think he's nuts. Here I am Mr. No-Can-See and I'm accusing someone of being off his rocker. But, I gotta admit for someone bricked up in a wall for almost a half-century, I could be a big looney but I'm not. Cordy should let him have the apartment to himself today. Hug-free. Oh, hey! Lemme go get that Calendar section! There's a free-- Here it is. Concert in the park. Here, Cordy. Concert in the park. Free! Here! Cordy! Well, if you'd pay attention, I wouldn't have poked you in the eye. There. See? She's already gonna dial up a date. Pay nooooo attention to Sad Sack Angel. La dee dee. Ringing. La dee da-- AH! Cordyyyyyy! Anyone but Churchill!

I just got in a zone. Sometimes, it's like a really good workout where everything's loose and all the movement just feels-- Incredible. It seems I hardly move around anymore. I miss those sweaty--for me--kind of workouts as much as I miss my sewer access. It didn't even matter that I was annihilating Pierre. It just felt so good to be like that. Fast. And powerful. One-two-three combos that barely felt like ones. You know? Spinning so fast the air around me whistled. Kicking. And flying. I hardly ever fly. Sweeping and kicking and smashing and before I knew it, I'd picked him up and he was dangling over the edge by my fingers around his throat and he was clutching at my wrist with terror in his eyes. I took a big whiff of that.

I don't know how long Wesley had been screaming at me. I heard a horn and then I heard Wes's voice, pleading not to drop Pierre. Part of me wanted to do it just for spite. And it was like the split second after I considered doing just that, Wes looked at me weird--like he knew exactly what I was thinking. So I put Pierre down and the little pest scurried away faster than the cockroach he is.

Our relationship is changing faster than I can keep up with it. One day he was just Buffy's ex-Watcher at my doorstep and the next he's right along side Cordelia as another reason to even keep trying. And now this Nabbit guy keeps hanging around and I don't need another person that I have to look out for or try to keep happy. That's not even counting the apparition that's probably reading over my shoulder. And now I've got a freakin' anniversary I have to keep track of?

Sometimes I just wonder if I'll recognize when freedom's in the air.

-0-

evancomo@netscape.net

Angel's Journal