Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel or any of the characters mentioned in the cannon.
A/N: A big thank you to those that reviewed last chapter it is very much appreciated and inspired me to get this chapter completed despite the trouble I had with it in a few places. So thank you for the little nuggets of golden inspiration that had helped me get this chapter up for your viewing :)
Buffy straightened and a groan escaped her even as she leaned against the pole of the mop she was using as much as she dared. "Buffy, are you alright?" Angel asked as he looked up from his own mopping.
Buffy nodded, one of her hands going to her back. "Yeah, I'm fine." She murmured with a grimace. "Big places are great, but they sure do take a lot of work." She observed on a sigh as she looked around the large entrance hall that they were attempting to clean up and she couldn't help, but feel disappointed by the fact that it looked as if despite all the work they had already put in… they had hardly accomplished anything and her shoulders slumped as she stopped trying to knuckle the ache from her back.
"Uh, maybe you should take a break." Angel offered, able to tell from the way she was standing that she was tired and aching.
"Well, I could use a coffee… or a hot chocolate…" Buffy admitted.
"And some food," Angel added. "You haven't had anything since breakfast and it's almost dinner now."
Buffy looked at him surprised. "Has it really been that long?" She asked and as if in answer her stomach gave a loud hungry grumble. "I guess it has been that long." Buffy looked around the room and sighed again. "And we still haven't even started on setting up our room."
Angel raised a hand to scratch at the back of his head. "I guess buying this place was actually a bad idea, huh." He murmured a little sheepishly.
Buffy shook her head. "I didn't say that. It's just gonna take a bit of work," She gave him a smile and moved towards him; her walk more of a limp as she tried her best to ignore the pain in her back. "All the best things do."
Angel smiled, her words setting his mind to rest once again. Raising a hand he cupped it around the back of her head and kissed the top of her head. "Go on take a break, you deserve on."
Cordelia who had been watching the display of affection with annoyed eyes from her spot behind the desk were she had spent most of the day watching Angel and Buffy go about their business whilst she was on and off her phone. At Angel's continued instance for Buffy to go on a break she stood. Seeing no reason why she shouldn't go on a break as well. "A break sounds wonderful." She exclaimed drawing their attention.
Buffy scowled as she watched Cordelia yawn as she walked around the desk and headed for the coffee pot that was waiting in the small room that they had, or rather Cordelia had designated the break room. "You'd think that she hadn't spent the entire day like it was just one big break." Buffy muttered with irritation.
Angel scratched at the back of his head once again feeling sheepish; knowing full well that Buffy didn't care for the tall brunette that had inserted herself into their lives. He would send her away except that there was something about her that just told him that she needed to help staying on her feet… at least for now… and he didn't want to send her back out where she could very well get attacked again. "Well, at least she's trying. She has been here all day."
"Yeah, just sitting on that chair she claimed as hers. She's done nothing to help get this place on its feet."
Angel turned his gaze to Buffy. "I'm sure she just isn't sure on what to do. Cordelia doesn't strike me as the type to have done much cleaning."
Buffy nodded her agreement. "Or anything else, aside from powdering her nose," She grumbled as she crossed her arms over her chest.
Angel stroked his hand down her hair in an attempt to calm her. "Well… she might just grow on you."
"Yeah, like an itchy smelly kind of fungus." Buffy grumbled.
"Well, I was thinking along the lines of something nicer… like friendship." Angel suggested.
"Well, I suppose bigger miracles have happened." Buffy admitted. "And yes I know, I'm acting like a big mean ogre." She sighed.
"Hardly," Angel reassured her. "Ogres are big brutes with barely a thought between them." Buffy's smile turned into a pout, before she laughed.
"Ok, well maybe not an ogre then, but something just as horrible and judgy." She muttered, before taking a deep sighing breath in the hopes of bracing herself against the brunette's abrasive attitude. "I'm going to get something to eat, before I do something embarrassing like faint."
Angel watched her walk away for a moment. "Ogres don't judge either." He murmured quietly. "You could never be something so terrible. You're too pure." He practically whispered under his breath. Turning his gaze to the two mops he now held in his hands, he sighed as he headed over to the closest wall. Resting Buffy's mop against the wall, before he made his way back over to the bucket of soapy water. Plunging the mop back into the bucket, he set back to work on cleaning the floor; hoping to get the task finished before Buffy came back from the break he had talked her into.
Buffy walked carefully back down the stairs, the last half of a salad sandwich clutched in her hand as she headed towards the break room, feeling the need for a mug of hot coffee. Something that she had woefully realized had yet to be stocked in their shambles of a room. A room that she was attempting to air; to get the musty closed up smell from it. She supposed that for a room that hadn't been used in however long it could be in worse condition, but right now the idea that the place that according to Angel was to become their new home needed so much work before they could even begin moving their belongings into it… and not to mention the fact they needed to buy so much to refurnish the room and get the essentials… things that had been so helpfully provided in the previous places they had been staying at.
It made everything seem so hard and amplified the fact that she didn't have a job… and was now completely out of her savings! She no longer had anything to offer to help pay for the things they needed. It had her guts twisting in anxiety every time she thought of it. Pulling her mobile out of her pocket, she checked it somewhat hopeful that she would see that she had missed a phone call, only to see that no one had made a single attempt to contact her. Stuffing it back into her pocket she opened the door to the break room, and paused in the doorway as she took in Cordelia's form as she sat at one of the chairs; a coffee in front of her. A coffee she wasn't paying any attention to as she talked into the phone she had pressed to her ear. The brunette turned her gaze to Buffy out of curiosity for a moment, before she rolled her eyes at seeing it was just her and continued talking into the phone completely ignoring the blond's presence.
Buffy took a deep breath, smothering her irritation as she stepped into the room, wanting coffee more than she wanted to avoid the brunette and her self-absorbed chatter. Her ears rang with the brunette's voice and no matter how hard she tried not to she couldn't help but hear every word. And with each word, Buffy felt her irritation grow! Grabbing down a mug she felt her eye twitch as Cordelia continued to prattle on to the person on the other end of the line. 'How can anyone put up with that conversation for so long?' Buffy thought, a sudden image of another Cordelia talking to a woman that looked exactly like her entered her mind. The image made Buffy shudder at the idea of having to deal with not one but two Cordelia's… Buffy turned her mind from the thought that filled her with a sense of dread as she picked up the kettle. She gave it a small shake and sighed quietly as she realized that the thing was almost empty.
Cordelia gave Buffy an irritated look as the short blond turned on the tap; the sound of water filling the metal kettle loud and annoying whilst she was on the phone. "Hold on a sec." She told her friend. Placing her mobile against her shoulder, she glared at the back of Buffy's head. "Do you mind not being so noisy?! I'm on the phone here!" She groused snottily.
Buffy felt her shoulders stiffened in her irritation, looking over her shoulder; a scowl darkening her brow. She would have said something in response except that Cordelia was once again paying her no mind as she had once again turned her attention back to her phone conversation. The brunette not deeming the blond worthy of waiting around for a response.
Buffy felt her eye twitch in irritation once again as she turned her gaze away from Cordelia and turned off the faucet, having filled up the kettle. Placing it back on its stand she flicked the switch, not caring one bit about Cordelia's desire for quiet whilst she was on the phone… something that she was on so often the device almost seemed glued to her ear. The two did their best to ignore each other as Buffy puttered around making her coffee and Cordelia focused her attention on the conversation that to her was the most important conversation she had had all week, since she had last managed to wrangle an invite to one of the parties that could help land her a role. But as Buffy sat herself down on a chair across from where Cordelia was seated, the brunette said her goodbyes and hung up and once again focused her attention on Buffy. "So, they're still actually selling that these days?" Cordelia asked, meaning to start a friendly-ish conversation with the petite blond, but her tone was just as snobby and condescending as always.
Buffy looked down at the old and comfortable clothes that she had decided to wear in the early hours of the morning before the sun had risen so that she could accompany Angel over here and start the long process of cleaning it up… suddenly feeling more than a little self-conscious about her choice of attire. Looking back up she didn't get a chance to say anything in response as Cordelia ploughed on, not really interested in anything the blond had to say in her defence. "Anyway, I have to go get ready for an important party tonight, so I'm going to have to go." Cordelia stood. "Tell Angel for me." She demanded of Buffy as she flicked some hair behind her ear, she took a step towards the break room door, before she paused suddenly remembering something. "Oh and give this to Angel for me would you." Cordelia pulled out a small envelope from her handbag and held it out to Buffy.
Reluctantly Buffy took the envelope from the brunette. Once Buffy had taken the envelope from her, Cordelia headed out the door without a backward glance at her 'co-worker' as she headed out on her way home; her mind already going over all the dresses she had in her wardrobe and which would be the best choice for tonight and what accessories she should chose to accompany it!
Buffy looked down at the envelope and out of curiosity she flipped up the unsealed flap of the envelope and pulled up the small piece of paper that had been placed inside. A full blown scowl darkened her brow as she took in what had been carefully printed on the piece of paper. Cordelia's account information! Buffy's fingers tightened around the piece of paper as she fought the urge to screw up the paper and throw it into the closest bin. The arrogance of the woman, demanding to be paid, when all she was doing was sitting at the desk and talking on her phone… organising parties that she could go to! Forcing herself to slide the paper back inside the envelope she flipped it closed once again and threw it down onto the table. Glaring at it as she picked up her mug of coffee and taking a large swallow of it. She had to remember that it wasn't up to her, that this was Angel's redemption… not hers… and he believed that Cordelia needed help to get on her feet…
Buffy took another swallow of her coffee before rubbing her eyes tiredly. 'Why did it have to be Cordelia though?' She thought, all it took was five minutes in the tall brunette's company and she felt like leaping across the table and strangling the woman!
Buffy sighed in irritation as she rolled over on the mattress that tonight she just couldn't get comfortable on. Reaching over she turned on the bedside lamp and looked around the apartment that she was for the moment alone in as Angel; to her surprise after staying up all day working on the hotel, was out on a patrol. Sitting there for a moment longer, before she threw the blankets off her and got up off the bed giving up on the prospect of sleep for the moment.
Cordelia sat on a cold stone step; her shoulders slumped in misery. She was dressed spectacularly, but her once expertly applied makeup was smudged from her tears; leaving her mascara to run down her cheeks in a black mess, but at that moment she couldn't care less about her makeup! She couldn't believe her awful luck! Why did Kale have to be there tonight! He hadn't been at any of the parties she had attended since the incident in her dressing room. But despite the time that had passed he had been true to his word! Slandering her to people she was looking too to get a leg up and the looks she had been getting from them… it had almost made her feel like she was back in high school and having one of those dreams where she had for some reason or another had turned up to class naked.
She had done her best to put on a brave face and solider through it, determined not to be beaten by the odious man that she had once called boss. But after that no one that she needed to be seen by would talk to her… if she'd tried to approach they had quickly found something else to occupy their time. Like she was some kind of pariah, and soon it had felt like the entire party where giggling and pointing at her from behind hands. Never before had she felt like a social outcast! She had always been the social queen, from elementary school to high school, she'd ruled everyone had deferred to her… never had anyone been able to knock her off her throne though a few had tried… and now an odious little upstart had been able to finally unseat her!
Los Angeles was supposed to be her ultimate time to shine, where she could finally shine as brightly as the star that she was meant to be… but it hadn't turned out the way she had expected it to! Her name was supposed to be in lights by now and her face should be on the sides of busses and on the sides of building. She should be auditioning for a the leading role in the next highly anticipated movie! Cordelia hiccupped wetly as she tried to smother the undignified sob that threatened to escape her and fresh tears escaped down her cheeks. Wiping at them with the back of her hands; smearing her makeup even further and getting a mixture of black mascara, foundation and blush of the back of her hands.
Buffy paused in her slow steps surprised to find Cordelia sitting miserably on a staircase… a staircase that had been empty when she had walked past it on her way to the supermarket that night. She stood there for a moment longer contemplating trying to find another way back to the empty apartment that was waiting for her. Before she could make up her mind on what to do when faced with the surprising image of the headstrong, self-obsessed Cordelia crying brokenly on the cold steps of a large law firm, the brunette looked up as if sensing her gaze. Cordelia's gaze instantly hardened at seeing Buffy and she wiped determinedly at her cheeks. "What are you doing here?" She asked shortly, not at all appreciating being seen in the state she was in, not even by a nobody like Buffy.
"Uh, well… on my way home." Buffy replied a little awkwardly, the tears that were still falling unbidden from Cordelia's eyes causing any irritation that she might have felt at being so rudely spoken to, to be none existent.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and turned her gaze away from the blond. 'Of course it's just my rotten luck that she'd come across me right at this moment!' She thought with irritation as she wiped at her traitorous eyes once again; the tears refusing her silent demand to stop!
Buffy hesitated a moment, knowing that this was her chance to walk on by and leave Cordelia to her misery and she was sorely tempted to do so, but instead she found herself walking towards the steps, drawing Cordelia's attention once again; the annoyed frown still darkening the brunette's gaze as she stared up at Buffy, having expected and wanted the blond to leave her be. "I've got three tubs of ice cream here, if you wanted to come back to mine and indulge in some comfort food." Buffy offered shifting the shopping back in front of her so that Cordelia could see the three different tubs of ice cream she hadn't been able to decide between.
Cordelia stared at the three tubs in the plastic bag surprised as she swallowed past the sorrowful lump that had formed in her throat due to the strength of her subdued sobs. "What flavours are they?" She asked as she looked up at Buffy once again.
"Uh, Chocolate mint chip, cookies and cream and strawberry." Buffy replied as she looked down at the bag, to make sure that she had chosen those flavours.
Cordelia wiped at her eyes once again as she contemplated her answer for a moment longer, before nodding; a little reluctantly. "Alright then." She agreed as she got a little awkwardly to her feet.
"It's not that too much further." Buffy assured her as they began walking along the foot path together. "How did you end up sitting alone like that?" She asked with concern and a small amount of curiosity. Breaking down didn't seem to be something the tall brunette did on a whim.
"Just because I've agreed to eat ice cream with you doesn't mean that I'm going to open up to you. We are most definitely not friends." Cordelia said shortly as she walked stiffly beside Buffy.
Buffy closed her eyes for a moment to stamp down her irritation, already regretting her invitation to the tall brunette. She didn't know why she had expected anything other than contempt from the snobbish woman who looked down her nose at anyone who couldn't benefit her in some way.
Giles walked with a quick stride towards the check in station of the London airport. One hand gripping the trolley filled with most of his luggage, whilst his other hand grasped his briefcase that held important documents to The Watchers Council. He paused in his stride as he heard the unmistakable sound of a trolley tipping over and the luggage loaded on it spilling to the floor. Looking over his shoulder he sighed at seeing that it was indeed as he had feared. Pushing down the break on the trolley with his foot, before he turned around fully to face Wesley as the younger man scrambled about as he tried with a bit of effort to set the trolley back on its wheels. "Really Wesley, I know that going to the Americas isn't the most pleasant prospect, but I do wish that you would pull yourself together. You are attracting unwanted attention." Giles grumbled as he stepped towards the younger man.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Giles. I didn't mean to, but I kind of tripped over my feet and the next thing I knew my trolley was overturning." Wesley explained sheepishly as he began dumping his luggage back onto his trolley.
"Alright," Giles sighed with exasperation as he picked up a bag and placed it on top of another one. "Let's just get this done. If we miss our flight because you couldn't keep your luggage on your trolley Mr. Travers will no doubt take a huge chunk out of our hides."
Wesley nodded his agreement and swallowed thickly at the idea. There was no way that he wanted to be summoned to Quinton Travers office again to be on the receiving end of disciplinary action. It was scary enough the first time.
Throwing the last of Wesley's luggage back on the trolley Giles went back to his own and began walking towards the check-in station once again. "This time try not overturning your trolley before we get there." He grumbled under his breath as he balanced his briefcase on top of bag that was closest to the handlebars of the trolley so that he could reach into his left inside jacket pocket so that he could pull out his ticket as he walked up to the counter. Beside him Wesley did the same thing as he stood in front of another airport employee. Giles rolled his eyes in annoyance and exasperation as he saw Wesley searching his pockets for his ticket. 'Why me?' Giles thought, why couldn't have been paired with someone that was at least a little more competent and wasn't a nervous wreck about heading to America?!
"I mean Los Angeles was supposed to be my big break after having the misfortune of being born in a dead end little town like Sunnydale!" Cordelia complained as she dug her spoon into the tub of strawberry ice cream.
"Sunnydale?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah, it's a small little town that barely makes it on the social map… if at all. I mean, it only has one Starbucks! It tormented me that I was born just two hours away from such a great town like this and my parents refused to move or send me to school up here. Despite the fact that there was absolutely no way that Sunnydale would be able to realize my dreams." Cordelia sniffled and reached for the tissue Buffy had given her. "And now it seems like my dreams will be crushed before they can even come true!" She wailed.
Buffy gave the brunette a sympathetic look. "This Kale guy seems like a real skeever." She murmured. When she'd first walked into the apartment with Cordelia she had thought that their time together would be spent in awkward silence as they both ate ice cream. Considering the reaction she had gotten out on the street she had never thought that the brunette would decide to open up to her about what had happened.
"Oh, he is and what makes it worse is that I've been working so hard to get where I need to be and land even a role in another commercial and now that skeevy skeever has just about ruined everything!" Buffy opened her mouth to contribute, but Cordelia continued on. "And even worse! I'm being ruined before I can even begin, by a guy that isn't even all that highly regarded! He's like on the bottom of the acting world. I'm beginning sabotaged by a bottom feeder!" Cordelia put another spoonful of ice cream into her mouth. "And now I don't know what to do! I doubt that I'll ever get into another one of those parties and there's no way that I want to be a secretary type for the rest of my life. Not even for a hunk like Angel." Cordelia paused in her pity party as she gave Buffy a look. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna steal him from you. As hot as he is, I need an a live person. There's no way that I could deal with having a guy that couldn't take me shopping during the day."
Buffy frowned a little at the insinuation that Cordelia would be able to steal Angel from her, but decided not to make a big deal about it as she was sure that Cordelia meant it as a kind of reassurance. Cordelia continued on once again resuming her pity party, something that didn't seem to require much of a response from Buffy. Another half an hour past like this; the two of them eating ice cream whilst Cordelia talked, venting her frustration at being sabotaged and Buffy listened and put in the required response here and there realising that Cordelia didn't want any kind of real response from her.
The door opened and Cordelia trialled off as the two women looked towards the door, Buffy smiled in relief at seeing Angel; who was looking at the two surprised. Not having expected to see anything like this when he had stepped into the apartment. In face he had expected to find Buffy asleep… not talking to a woman whom she disliked with a passion. "Am I interrupting anything?" Angel asked as he stepped into the apartment closing the door behind him.
"No," Cordelia replied as she stood. "I was just about to leave." She said, surprising Buffy who had had the feeling that the tall brunette had been revving up for a long one. Closing the lid of the strawberry ice cream, Cordelia picked it up and headed for the door.
Angel waited until the brunette had closed the door behind her without even a backwards glance. "Did I miss something?" He asked curiously.
Buffy shrugged as she closed up her own tub of ice cream having had enough of the icy goodness. "Just what could possibly be Cordelia's version of female bonding… I think." Buffy murmured as she stood up from the chair. Angel smiled in relief as he watched Buffy walk over to the fridge with the tub of ice cream. Glad that the two were beginning to get along.
Faith walked down the street with a confident swagger that she wasn't feeling. It was a swagger that she hadn't felt in weeks, but her pride refused to allow her to show just how vulnerable and scared she was! Her shoulders stiffened as she heard the unmistakable sound of steps following behind her as she walked along a deserted street on the way back to the cheap motel room that she was renting. Her hands clenched into fists as she forced herself to keep her calm pace not wanting her pursuer to know that she was onto them. She heard the footsteps quicken and her hand slipped inside of her jacket, her hand closing around the reassuring wood of the stake. A frown of concentration darkened her brow as she slipped it free, the familiar feeling of anticipation thrumming through her as she waited for her moment even as nerves curled around her stomach in knots that threatened to distract her.
The moment she felt the hand touch her shoulder she spun around her stake raising high as she grabbed her attacker and slammed him up against the pole of the street light, her stake beginning to come down only to freeze in shock and surprise at seeing the scared looking on her attackers face. "Wow, I just wanted your number you crazy bitch." The guy she had been dancing with at the club got out in a voice that was high with terror at being threatened by the sharply pointed stake that she had been about to plunge into his chest.
Faith's hand shook as relief and annoyance coursed through her as she looked at the guy that looked her was about to piss himself with fear. "I wouldn't give you my number if you were the last guy on earth, you puny little pipsqueak! I get hot for men, not whimpering little boys like you." Faith pushed him away from her making him stumble and fall on his ass. "Now get out of here before I change my mind about thrusting my weapon so far up your ass that you'll feel it picking your snotty little nose." She growled waving her stake at him threateningly.
The guy that Faith didn't even know the name of swallowed thickly as he stared up at her in terror for a moment before he scrambled to his feet. "Crazy bitch!" He cursed as he ran away from the girl that not even two moments ago he had been hoping to perhaps get lucky with. Faith watched him run away for a short moment as she stood her stake now lowered to her side the deadly tip pointed towards the ground as her limbs shook as relief filled her, it hadn't been them, just some horny guy… a horny guy that she had almost skewered, instead of taking home like she would have done before…
Faith gave her head a shake and wrapped her arms about herself protectively a dark scowl darkening her face as she remember the terror they had put her through. "Bastards!" She grumbled under her breath, before she turned and began on her way again, her stride less cocky and more hurried now as she just wanted to get to the safety of her makeshift home.
A/N: Alright Chapter 15 finally completed. Please let me know what you think of this chapter. :)