Title: Family Ties
Rating: R to NC-17, depending on the chapter.
Category: AtS S.2, BtVS S.5
Content: B/R romance, angst, A/Darla angst, A/B angst, A/C friendship, angst, romance
Summary: A vision sends a beige Angel and Cordelia to Sunnydale after Darla, Drusilla, and Wolfram & Hart.
Spoilers: Everything up to Angel locking the W&H employees in Holland's wine cellar. As far as BtVS, I'm not great with that timeline. Sorry.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't claim them.
Distribution: Want some? Get some. =D
Notes: Wes stays in LA with Virginia, Gunn stays with his crew. Riley's still with Buffy, but they're on their way out. Spike cares for Buffy, but her constant ridicule and hostility is quickly wearing on his nerves. Willow is neither with Oz, nor with Tara.
Thanks/Dedication: My readers/commenters. Thanks for the support and the e-mails. =D
Feedback: Hells to the yeah.
[B]Chapter One: Angel's Epiphany[/B]
Angel sat behind his desk with Wesley, Gunn and Cordelia sitting on the other side of it, all staring at him with stunned looks on their faces.
"And you…just walked away?" Wesley asked, surprised.
"No. I walked to my car and then I drove away." Angel said, unmoved.
"You didn't do anything?" Gunn asked, tone the same as Wesley's.
"You allowed Darla and Drusilla to have free reign?" Wesley continued.
"I didn't bring either one of them in to this." Angel responded, his tone defensive. "They did."
"You could have stopped them."
"And I will."
"When?" Cordelia finally interjected. "After they've finished off all the people you don't like?" Her tone held anger, frustration and disappointment. Angel didn't even blink.
"Angel," Wesley took over. "While it's certainly true that these lawyers brought this on themselves, what you did is…"
"Is wrong." Cordelia said flatly.
"You went too far." Gunn said. A moment of silence fell on the group as they watched for any reaction from the vampire. When they got none, Wesley signed and spoke up again.
"We've all been worried about you, and I guess it's fair to say we all share some of the blame. We should have spoken up sooner."
"And louder." Gunn agreed. Cordelia looked at Angel, a frown marring her pretty face, eyes concerned.
"You have to change the way you've been doing things. Don't you see where this is taking you?" Angel's gaze shifted to her, his eyes blank. Wesley frowned; it wasn't sinking in.
"Listen to her! Right now the three of us are all that's standing between you and real darkness."
"Best believe that man," Gunn said. Angel stared at them, fed up with their lecturing.
What do they want from me? I'm a vampire, damn it. We don't do nice, don't care. Angel felt his demon smirk.
[B]That's what happens when you run around playing the hero, Soul Boy. Starting to miss the simple life, aren't ya? Eat, maim, burn down some villages…good times.[/B] Angel's eyes narrowed. Angelus' voice in his head had been growing increasingly louder over the last few months.
"I do," he said.
[B]They're right, you know?[/B]
[B]The pansy ass Watcher and his "real darkness" speech. They're in the way. That's why you're in here being lectured, and Darla and Dru are out there having fun without us. You still want that hindrance?[/B]
I'm not sure that I do.
"You're all fir…" Angel stopped when he felt that small tickle of electricity in the air. He looked at Cordelia, feeling her heart rate and breathing pick up like it always did right before a vision hit.
Angel bolted up from his chair and was around his desk in an instant, catching Cordelia before she fell. The scream erupted from her lips, her body thrashing as images wracked her brain. He caught her wrists in one strong hand, trapping them between their bodies as he held her tight to him, keeping her close as the vision continued.
She jolted, her head coming forward and up, head butting him in the nose. Angel's eyes watered and he felt the tear of cartilage and the rush of blood simultaneously, his hands slipping from her. He blindly reached for her as she fell back, hitting her head on his desk.
The scent of blood other than his filled his nostrils. They flared, his eyes widening, his vision blurry as he fell to his knees, cradling her now limp form. He checked her head, blinking the moisture from his eyes, his broken nose far from his mind. Angel noted that the wound wasn't bad, just served to render her unconscious. He carried her up to his room, Wesley and Gunn in tow, waiting for her to wake up.
Angel placed Cordelia gently on his bed, resting her head on the pillows. He instructed Wesley and Gunn to keep an eye on her while he walked into his bathroom to tend to his broken nose. He ran his thumb and index finger along the sides, frowning at the disfigurement. With a breath to brace himself, he snapped it back into place.
He grabbed a towel and ran it under the sink's facet, wetting it before scrubbing it over his face to remove the now caked on blood. He grimaced at the once white, now red, cotton and tossed it in the sink. He'd worry about it later. Now, he needed to check on his seer.
Angel sat on his chair, bringing it right up to his bed. He frowned as he caressed Cordelia's hair, sighing. She was so fragile and she dealt with so much. He couldn't leave her to deal with this all on her own, especially since this was because of him, for him.
Things were already dangerous for her with them together. If he wasn't by her side, she might not make it. Angel couldn't have that on his conscious. He rubbed his hands up and down her back, relieved when she stirred and blinked up at him.
"Angel," she called for him, just like she always did. He smiled and joined her on the bed, noting that he was always the first one she called for after a vision, even with Wesley and Gunn right there as well. He gathered her in his arms, holding her so she rested her chin on his shoulder as he whispered to her.
"What did you see?" She opened her eyes, then blinked as the images came rushing back. Her head felt heavy and throbbed. She glanced at Wesley and Gunn, and then looked back to Angel.
"Pack up. We have to go." He blinked, confused.
"Go where?" She looked at him apologetically. She didn't say anything right away. "Cordy?"
"Sunnydale." Angel tensed before the word made it all the way out of her mouth.
"Why?" His tone was almost a whine. She granted him with a small smile.
"Your girls are headed there. Not sure why."
"Can't we just call Buffy? Tell her to handle it?" Wesley suggested. The less Angel was involved right now, the better. He frowned as Cordelia shook her head in the negative.
"You have to be there," she told Angel. "Things are going to get ugly. The Powers say this one's yours." Angel groaned, running a hand through his hair in frustration.
"This is gonna suck. Buffy and I didn't exactly leave off on the best of terms." Cordelia rolled out of his arms and off the bed, bracing herself against the night stand as she staggered. She patted Angel's shoulder comfortingly.
"Suck it up Big Guy. And get packing. I'm going to head home and do the same. Meet back here in a few hours?" Angel nodded, eyes distant as his mind wandered.
"I'm gonna stay," Gunn said, gaining a look from Cordelia and Angel. "My crew hasn't seen me in a while. They need me. I've been neglecting them with this gig." Angel nodded in understanding.
"I'm afraid I'll have to decline as well," Wesley said, gaze faltering as all eyes fell on him. "I have some prior engagements to tend to with Virginia. Besides, someone should stay here, hold down the fort, so to speak."
"Okay. Good idea. We'll keep you updated." Angel told them, turning to Cordelia. "Just you and me then?"
"Yeah. I'll be back soon." He nodded, watching her walk to the door. Angel gestured towards her retreating form with his head, and Wesley and Gunn nodded, following her downstairs, making sure she was all right.
Angel closed the door behind them. He turned to his large, empty room, hands on his hips and sighed. Fuck. He thought, then growled as Angelus' laughter echoed in his head.
Downstairs, Cordelia assured Wesley and Gunn she was fine to drive. The two weren't convinced.
"I'll drive you home and bring you back. You can leave your jeep here during your trip." Wesley said, leaving no room for argument. Cordelia relented with a nod. The three looked up the stair case. "I don't know if this trip will help, or make things much, much worse." His tone was quiet. He exchanged a worried look with Cordelia and Gunn. She sighed, the thought alone of the days to come exhausting her.
"Wesley, take me home." Wesley and Gunn exchanged a worried look, then followed the brunette outside.
[B]Chapter Two: Home Sweet Hell[/B]
The drive from Los Angeles to Sunnydale had been long. The trip was mostly a quiet one, but not uncomfortable. Angel's mind focused on the inevitable confrontation with his Sire. He barely registered the thought of Buffy's reaction. He had more important things to deal with than a soon to be pissed off ex-girlfriend.
Cordelia sat in the passenger's seat, worried about the days to come, questioning the Powers' decision to send Angel to Sunnydale instead of letting Buffy deal with it. They just forced an already mentally unstable vampire into a situation that could only make things worse. Angel and Buffy would only lead to angst. That was the last thing they needed right now.
Angel pulled the car up to the hotel. Cordelia smiled, pleased to see he'd taken her advice in the hotel choice. It wasn't complete luxury, but it wasn't the run down Sunnydale motel either.
"They only had one vacancy, so we'll have to share a room." Cordelia shrugged.
"No different than when you lived with me. Not really, anyway."
"Okay. I'll go get our keys." He came back moments later, their two hotel keys in his hand. He walked over to her side of the car and opened the door for her, handing her one key before taking her hand to help her out of the car. She smiled, still occasionally thrown off by the old worldly gentleman in Angel.
He popped the trunk and the two retrieved their bags. Angel carried his suitcase, along with the larger of the three Cordelia had brought. She followed him, her other bags in tow. The two entered the lobby and got into the elevator, making their way to their room on the fourth floor.
Angel opened the door, holding it open for Cordelia. She got just inside the door when she stopped, frozen. Angel came in to stand behind her, letting the door close behind them.
"Okay. Maybe a little different than when you stayed with me. There's only one bed. And no couch." She turned to him, eyes wide. Angel could see the nervousness, but a part of him was curious as to why. She didn't look repulsed by the idea; she looked scared.
"I'll go talk to the manager," he said, then left the room. Cordelia sat on the bed and buried her head in her hands. The prospect of sharing a bed with Angel petrified her. Not because she was afraid of him. She knew that wasn't it, even though no one would blame her, the way he'd been acting.
Even still, she knew Angel would never hurt her. She just couldn't be alone and so close to him right now. The way he'd been acting lately made her realize that he wasn't just Angel, her boss, no bone, Buffy's ex-lapdog. He was growly, dangerous, mysterious, and God help her, sexy. Something she hadn't thought of him as in a long time.
And he was wanted, not just by Buffy, but by other women. Darla seemed willing to do anything to get him back to her. Curiosity couldn't help but make Cordelia wonder, in detail, why? With a groan, she fell back onto the bed, praying Angel could get them another room, despite this being the only vacancy.
Angel walked down the stairs, enjoying the time to think. He understood Cordelia's discomfort, but the fear he sensed surprised him. Surely she knew he'd never hurt her. He cared for her too much. She had to know that, especially after Vocah.
As he came closer to the lobby, Angel realized he wouldn't blame her if she was afraid of him. The way he'd been acting lately, he knew there was no excuse for it. He had been pushing all of them away. He couldn't afford to lose them, to lose her, especially after Doyle.
A more primal instinct in Angel considered a different prospect. Deep down Angelus taunted him.
[B]She's not afraid because of us, she's afraid of herself. She knows she can't control herself. God, she was practically dripping at the thought of just being in bed with us! She wants our cock. Always has.[/B]
Angel growled lowly and pushed those thoughts away angrily as he approached the lobby desk. The man behind the desk smiled too brightly and spoke with a too cheerful voice. Angel cringed.
"Good evening Sir. How can I help you?" Internally, Angel shook his head in pity for the overly polite twit. [I]Jackass has no idea how easy it would be for me to just reach over this counter, take his neck between one hand and…[/I] Angelus kept quiet, pleased that the soul, the good one, seemed to be having thoughts that inched closer to his own.
"Um, I requested a room with two beds. This room only has one." He placed the key on the counter, ignoring his internal monologue, something he'd been doing a lot more of lately. Angel focused on the man's voice, not even realizing he hadn't been listening.
"We truly are sorry for the inconvenience, but there are no other rooms available. I can let you know as soon as we have a vacancy." Angel blinked.
"Yeah. Thanks. Good night." He barely acknowledged the man returning the sentiment from behind him.
"Good night Sir."
Angel headed up the stairs, key in hand. He feared her reaction. His soul ached with the thought of her pushing away from him, like he had been doing to her. Angelus reveled at the thought of having her all to himself. Angel sighed as he reached his room. It was going to be a long few days.
"No. Last room. Said he'd let me know if there's a vacancy." Cordelia blinked, taking in the information, and then turned to look at the bed.
"I can take the floor Cordy. It's not a big deal." She turned to him, so fast and so sharply, he froze.
"No, it's fine Angel. We're both mature adults, we can share a bed. It's not a problem." She didn't sound so convinced, but he didn't argue.
"Okay." Then her eyes softened and she smirked at him.
"But don't even try to cop a feel." His eyes widened and he looked at her, stunned. "Yeah, I know you were thinking it. Perv." She smiled. A slight quirk tugged at his chiseled mouth and he looked at her with a small, amused smile on his face.
"Okay then. Not that that's settled, we should go."
"Talk to Buffy." He plopped onto the bed, suddenly winded.
"Tell her we're here and why."
"I was thinking I could just patrol and tell her when we ran into her why we're here." Cordelia blinked, then gave him a look that clearly said she thought he was insane.
"You really think that's going to go over well?" He seemed to consider.
"Can't we go tomorrow?"
"Angel, you shouldn't put it off."
"I won't. It's just been a long day. For both of us. The drive, your vision, my broken nose," he said with a teasing tone. She rolled her eyes, refusing to smile.
"Whatever. It's almost completely healed."
"I just think we should get some rest. We'll be more level headed tomorrow." She sighed, sitting beside him.
"Fine. But as soon as the sun sets, we're going."
"Gives me some time anyway."
"Time for what?"
"My parents are in town for a couple months. I told them I'd visit eventually. Talked to my mom today after the vision, told them I'd be down for a few days and that I'd stop by."
"You sure that's a good idea? What with everything that happened?"
"They're my parents Angel."
"I know. I just don't want you to get hurt." She glanced at him and smiled, touched by his concern. She let her hand rest on his.
"Thank you. I'll be fine though. It's been so long since I've seen them. I need this." He nodded in understanding.
She went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. Angel changed, deciding on the sweat pants he'd brought. She'd have to deal with him not wearing a shirt, but he figured after living together during the summer, she'd be used to it.
Angel was comfortable, lying on his back, hands behind his head when Cordelia emerged, clad in pajama pants and a t-shirt. She joined him under the covers, facing away from him. He heard her erratic heartbeat and turned to her.
"Want me to go with you tomorrow?" She turned to face him, smiling sleepily.
"I'd like that."
"Okay." She didn't turn back away from him, just closed her eyes and tried to sleep. Angel did the same.
Angel had to admit, Cordelia's afternoon with her parents had been a good one, even if a little awkward. She had visited with her parents, smiled over old stories, and laughed together over the memories in the scrap book Cordelia started in high school.
Her mother, Katherine, questioned Cordelia on the relationship she had with Angel, before insisting that she should work on something more after Cordelia said he was her boss and they were just friends. Angel tried to ignore the conversation while sharing a drink with her father, Richard.
Usually, Angel had no problem blocking out Cordelia's dismissal of anything romantic between them, something especially easy given that the feelings, or lack thereof, were mutual. But Angelus' ever louder thoughts were beginning to take their toll, and this morning didn't help.
Angel wasn't blind. Never had been. Cordelia was a beautiful girl with a body that would make any man crazy. Physically, she was every inch what he was attracted to, whether alive or dead, evil or not. But her brash personality and sharp tongue had never appealed to him. She wasn't his type, but a deeper, darker side of him had been taking notice. He had resisted those desires with increasing struggle.
This morning though, he woke up to a feeling of warmth he hadn't experienced in centuries. He was on his back, arm wrapped around her. She was on her side, facing him, curled up into his side. Her head rested on the bare spot where his shoulder and neck met. Her arm was draped across his chest.
He had basked in the feeling, contemplating whether or not he should move. After a moment, he closed his eyes and fell back into peaceful sleep. When he awoke later, she was in the shower.
Of course, she said nothing about their intimate position, just urged him to get ready once she was out of the shower. He didn't argue, but he hadn't been able to get the feeling out of his mind.
Now, they were on their way to Buffy's house to explain why they were here. He should have felt nervous, dreading the wrath of his slayer ex-girlfriend and the war that would be raged with another.
[I]I really do need to avoid blondes.[/I]
[B]I've always been more of a brunette kind of vamp anyway.[/B] Angelus spoke back, seemingly in agreement.
Instead of anxiety, he felt at peace. All the tension he'd held in his body since returning from hell, and even more since Darla was back, seemed to disintegrate. His skin tingled, making him long to have Cordelia in his arms again when he woke up the next morning.
Angel pulled the convertible up along the curb of the Summers' home. He turned to Cordelia, and she met his gaze.
"We could just turn around. Run into her when we patrol." He sent her a hopeful grin. She gave him an exasperated, though amused, look.
"No. Come on." He got out of the car and she followed. Angel stood before the door while Cordelia stood to the side, leaning against the wall. He knocked on the door.