It’s the year 2035.
Los Angeles needs Angel’s brand of heroism as he continues to help the helpless.
Cordelia returns to reveal his new mission.
CONTENTS: Cordelia / Angel
CATEGORY: Future Fic / Angst / Romance
LENGTH: Short Story / 3,500 words
FICPIC CREDIT: Lysa
AUTHOR’S NOTE: First time writing a post-show fic. I have not read the ‘canon’ comic continuations of BtVS or Angel, so just consider them wiped out from existence. The recent talk of a Buffy reboot or sequel must have sparked something because in my head everything takes a C/A twist. Hope you like it. Kudos & Critiques are welcome.
Angel’s Apartment, Los Angeles
“Alexa, pull up the local police frequency. Audio only.”
The wall display flickered away from the end of the hockey game to an ongoing slideshow of gorgeous panoramic views. As requested, the older model home system followed his command to access the normally securely enforced private communication system used by the LAPD. A little magic allowed the tech to function outside its usual parameters, which was one reason why Angel never bothered to replace the virtual assistant system even though it was severely outdated.
Modern conveniences simplified living for the people who still had a life to live even though it also became more complicated. That’s how it had always been. The world changed. People lived and they died. Angel adapted, but he held the memories of those he had lost close to his heart.
The fall of Wolfram & Hart, that last battle had forced him to start again. Dragon fire had burned the headquarters to the ground, and Angel had fought with the others thinking that it would also be his last battle. He had survived when others did not. During his long years as Angelus it meant little to note the passing of a human’s life; that’s what they did, after all—die. He had no spark of a conscience then. A death meant nothing unless it was the pleasure he gained from causing it.
Angel still mourned those close to him, in some way, every day. With a passing thought, or a feeling that hit out of the blue when he saw or heard something that reminded him of them. Their faces were still sharp in his mind. Voices, too. By closing his eyes he could easily call up the memory of a moment or a whole situation. That he could control by forcing himself to stop focusing on the past, end the self-indulgence, and the brooding that often accompanied such an exercise.
He knew Cordelia would have been the first to call him on it, “Haul your sulking tortured fat ass out of that chair, Angel. Get out there and do something.”
Some days he had to remind himself that he still had a mission of his own. There was no team surrounding him, no seer, no guiding visions, nor the promise of salvation dangling on a hook. He did this for himself, and for her, because he knew somewhere out there in the ether or some otherworldly realm Cordelia was still watching.
“Gonna need S.W.A.T. on this one, Captain,” the officer’s voice cracked across the line as fear made it difficult to speak. “Looks like demons again. Ugly bastards. Why is it always demons? Give me a stray vampire any day.”
The Special Weapons and Tactics unit at the LAPD had changed over the years once the locals had no choice but to open thier eyes to the supernatural. The global agency of Wolfram and Hart somehow managed to suppress what had happened. The devastation resulting from that battle had to be explained. Parts of Los Angeles were in ruins. The world believed it was The Big One that had long been predicted by seismologists. California as a whole had supposedly escaped what could have been the ultimate disaster. For L.A., the reality was disastrous enough. Spells could not fully wipe the memories of those who had been directly involved in the conflict, and the political bigwigs had decided it was better for the world not to know the truth.
Life was far from normal for the locals, but those who lived in the untouched parts of the city went about their day to day business. Others weren’t so lucky. No matter how many demons, vampires, or dragons Angel, his companions, and the local cops took out, there were plenty more that survived. They were still out there even now holed up in sewers, dens, abandoned buildings, and uncleared rubble. Their victims were many. Sections of the city were barely suitable for sustaining life, but there were always people there unable or unwilling to move to safer areas. People who needed saving.
“On its way!” The police captain called out a few more orders and confirmed the location, which gave Angel the information he needed to find them.
Slinging on his well-worn jacket, Angel geared up for the fight to come. His small apartment was located close enough to the trouble spots to reach without the use of a car. None of his rides measured up to the Plymouth Belvedere GTX that had been destroyed along with the rest of Wolfram & Hart. He remembered driving to Point Dume, and waiting for Cordelia to arrive for what he had hoped would be a new beginning for them both. Until that doomed dream came crashing down around him. The car was gone, but the memories associated with it were not.
He would give anything to have that moment back, for Cordy to show up as they’d planned. The scenario had been replayed in his head so many times, showed up in his dreams, and fantasies. It was a kind of torture; one he was unwilling to give up.
The mahogany cabinet in the living room held an array of weapons, but Angel needed only one for tonight’s task—his favorite broadsword. The heavy, well-balanced weapon had done a lot of damage over the years. It still gleamed from the care he gave it. Tonight he expected to bring it back covered in demon blood.
“Alexa,” he raised his voice a notch to activate the system, “end the active program. I’ll be out for a couple of hours.”
Yeah, sometimes the loneliness made him forgot that Alexa wasn’t a person.
“Police communication frequency closed. Stay safe, Angel.”
Headed out the door, he automatically responded, “Thanks.”
The added electronic comment made him pause on the threshold. His head turned sharply to give him a view of the empty living room. Those words in particular instantly made him think of Cordelia. He had been thinking of her anyway, so maybe his imagination was just focused on her. Shaking his head, Angel decided to let it go. What was he going to do—ask Alexa why she was suddenly being chatty?
He arrived at the location where the police had set up a blockade. There were a few gawkers on the periphery, but the demons were too far away for them to actually see what was going on. Angel ran across the rooftop of one building without breaking stride and hopped up on the edge to peer down at the scene below. The S.W.A.T. team had not yet arrived, which was a good thing. Once they got involved it became difficult to do anything without the humans getting in the way. Sometimes it was just best to wait, watch, let them do their thing, and then jump in if it looked like they couldn’t handle it on their own.
The police were keeping their distance, while the two demons were fighting each other over the prey they had dragged into the blind alley behind the building. A human huddled against the brick wall, body curled into a fetal position, whimpering, his blood rushing as his heart pumped fast. Angel could practically taste his fear as the monsters aggressively grappling for the right to kill him snarled and postured for supremacy over the other. Some of these demons just wanted to kill, some hunted for trophies, and others were looking for a convenient meal.
Angel figured he wasn’t going to let that happen. Watching for the right moment, he dropped off the side of the building landing easily on the graveled surface below. Surprise gave him an advantage; one he needed. Their strength was equal to his own, although his speed gave him an edge. He took a few hits that rattled his head a bit. His aim was off after that dragging out the fight longer than necessary to finish them off.
When their corpses lay still at his feet, Angel turned his attention to the man he had saved. He looked just as terrified. “Go home. The cops will get you there. Think twice before coming out again after dark.”
Considering his exit strategy, Angel looked at the rusty drainpipe leading from the roof, but quickly discarded the idea. Climbing it would not be the easiest task while carrying a sword. There was a fire escape precariously attached to the side of the building, but it would do. He did not plan to walk out to where the police were gathered. These days they were armed with silver-tipped wooden bullets.
Halfway up the fire escape, Angel heard whispering voices from above. The pitch suggested they were youngsters, but just how young or how many he was not able to distinguish. One thatch of short blond hair appeared at the edge of the roof, the boy’s face blocked from view by the metal pipes. “It’s him! That vampire. He’s coming.”
Angel supposed they had witnessed the fight and seen his facial features shift after taking the first punch. Oddly, the kid sounded more curious than terrified of the prospect of his approach.
“Run along, kids.”
Three little words, a familiar tone. Was this his imagination again, or was it actually Cordelia? Angel stopped in his tracks focusing on the conversation above and trying to determine if he was suffering from a concussion and a case of wishful thinking.
“But I want to meet—“
“What part of buzz off don’t you understand? Sheesh!”
The broadsword fell from Angel’s grasp clanking loudly onto the metal grate at his feet. Barely noticing, he left it behind as he took the stairs two at a time to reach the top. Her name was on his lips as he leapt up the last flight to reach the roof. “Cordelia!” It was really her. How? Why? So many thoughts rushed through his head, but the one clanging loudest urged him to wrap his arms around her before she disappeared yet again.
That familiar beaming smile practically knocked him off his feet as he walked forward causing a couple of the girls in the scattered group of five to giggle. Preteens, early teens, it was still hard for Angel to guess human ages, but they were definitely on the young side. Much younger than Cordelia had been when they first met back in Sunnydale. Two girls, three guys. His dark eyes flicked back to hers, full of unspoken questions; hers were bright, full of excitement, and a familiar warmth. He gulped deeply suddenly feeling a swarm of nerves building up inside.
The kids finally followed orders by heading down the roof access to the building’s inner stairs. Angel waited until the heavy door shut behind them before he moved again. He skipped the standard greeting needing to know, “How long are you here?” Another minute, an hour, a day? Trepidation colored his thoughts. He did not want to waste a second. Yet he knew it would not be enough, whatever her answer, and it was unlikely that Cordelia had taken the day off from her duty as a higher being to come for a visit. Something was up.
“Hello to you, too,” Cordelia deflected his question with a raised eyebrow and a quip.
Closing the distance between them, Angel simply let his gaze slide over every familiar curve and angle of her beautiful face. He lifted a hand toward her cheek needing to touch her, but saw that it was spotted with dried blood, both his and demon and hesitated. Cordelia’s hand lifted to his pulling him the rest of the way until his palm connected with her skin. She was flesh and bone, warm and pulsing with life, however temporary the guise.
He could not contemplate anything except her mouth’s soft curves tempting him forward. One soft, “Hello,” was almost more than he could manage before settling his lips over hers. Kissing Cordelia again made his fantasies dim by comparison. Feeling her in his arms again, the slight frame with its delicious curves, fitting against him so perfectly caused his body to stir to life. Her responsiveness escalated into a heated whirlwind spiraling between them.
Angel pressed her back against the nearest wall plying her with drugging kisses and caressing every part of her he could reach. He loved those moans she made, the way she arched toward him, as if she couldn’t get close enough. Christ! Her touch set him on fire. He wanted her now, right now. So much that it had to be pretty damn obvious.
“NO!” Staggering back a step barely believing what he was doing, Angel watched Cordelia’s passion-swept expression fade into confusion. He had no idea if there would be any secondchances, especially considering their record so far. “Spend the night with me, at least. Not like this, Cordy.” He knew he was begging and didn’t care. “Somewhere you’d like. High class. Soft sheets. Let me make love to you. All night. As long as you’ll let me.”
A little smirk appeared, which she tried to hide by tugging at her lower lip with her teeth. That only made him focus on her mouth again. “That long? Do vampires have that much stamina?”
He groaned and touched his forehead to hers. “Don’t tease me.”
“I’m not,” she answered back while touching her palm to his chest. “I wouldn’t.” The way her head dipped low signaled he was about to hear something he wasn’t going to like. “There are things to talk about first. Important. Save the world kind of stuff. That’s why I’m here.”
“Of course it is,” a bitter note sounded making him wish he had held his tongue. It was never just for him. Why would it be? That would be selfish. Cordelia had appeared to him twice over the course of the past thirty odd years since she disappeared from his office at Wolfram and Hart. Each time her stay was far too brief, with the business of the day giving them little time to reminisce about old friends much less missed opportunities. There were subtle signs that she had checked in more often, so he had decided, but he often wondered whether it was simply his active imagination producing hidden messages.
Angel closed his eyes, swallowed down frustration both physical and mental, and paced away to gain some measure of control over himself. Inwardly cursing himself for going so fast, and then choosing to stop, he called himself an idiot for making a move in the first place. Did higher beings even do this sort of thing? Cordelia hadn’t complained about it. Cordelia! He realized she hadn’t said anything else and the first thought in his head scared him. Whirling around, he half expected her to be gone.
“I’m still here,” Cordelia stated the obvious, but her dulcet tone provided comfort in the face of his irrational fear. Maybe not as irrational as he hoped since she had a habit of vanishing at the drop of a hat.
Knowing that he was going to have to hear her out eventually, Angel opted to cooperate now. Maybe doing so would give them a little more time before she had to take the mysterious road she travelled that took her away from him. Bitter much? Yeah. Thankful, though, as always that it was these little stolen moments that kept her with him.
Squaring off to face her, Angel subconsciously took a defiant stance, hands on his hips, the position making his frame imposing. “Go ahead. Tell me what it is I need to know.” Recalling that she had not been alone on the rooftop, he asked, “Who were those kids?”
The sparkle was back in her eyes again as if she held a secret. “The next generation, each of them touched by the light. They are our hope for the future.”
Cordelia described Los Angeles in the here and now grounded in the day to day reality Angel knew so well. The struggles people faced. The dangers. Their inability to deal with the growing threats created by the influx of demonic activity. The growth of a brand new Hellmouth beneath the city he had sworn to defend spawning trouble and acting as a beacon for all that is evil. As if L.A. didn’t have trouble enough.
“These kids are going to save the city?”
Clarifying for him, she said, “One day, in the not-so-far future, they’ll save the world—a lot.”
“Then you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I have a brand new mission for you.”
Swept up by a sense of horrification, Angel’s forehead crunched up shadowing his eyes, and his reaction was all too obvious. Cordelia laughed at him. He wasn’t feeling it. “I work alone now, Cordy. You know that. After Faith—,” he broke off not wanting to talk to her of all people about that catastrophe even though she probably saw all of it from her heavenly perspective. “I work alone.”
“Oh, okay then, if you don’t want me around I guess I can look for somebody else.”
A jealous vibe hit stabbing sharply at the prospect. He was growling at the idea in an undertone when Angel realized she had hinted at something else. “I want you,” and not just around. “What are you saying?”
“They’re pretty raw, Angel. New to their calling. Unaware of their potential. It’s different today, a more dangerous world than the one we saw in Sunnydale, and it’s only going to get darker.”
He could see where this was going. “I’m not a babysitter.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes at his discontented whine. “You’re a warrior, my champion, and I need you.”
Said and done. “That’s all you ever needed to say.” His chest burned from withholding a more personal response.
Either she sensed it or he was wearing his feelings on his sleeve. Cordelia gave him a soft little smile, “You’re such a dork! You can say whatever you want to say.”
I love you, Cordelia. Don’t ever leave. If only he could say those words. Instead, Angel told her, ‘I need you, too.” That had been the truth for a lot longer than he thought possible. Maybe she knew the rest.
The smile widened into a grin. “That sounds promising.”
“It could be.” Oh, the salacious direction of his thoughts took him far away for a few precious seconds until Cordelia snapped her fingers in front of his face.
“Hellloooo! We’re going to have to work on your focus.”
“Definitely. Those kids aren’t the only ones who could use some training. You’re out of practice working with people.”
Angel gulped down the growing sense of hope that had been gathering every time she spoke. He might have been reading too much into it. He wanted her around, physically here with him. She needed him. He was almost certain there was flirting. That did not mean Cordelia planned to stay.
“Whatever you want, Cordy, I’ll do it. If it’s a mission, or anything else, I’ll do it for you.”
“Anything, huh? Nice. Don’t think I won’t remind you the next time I want something.”
Somehow, he knew she wasn’t hinting at stopping another invasion. Angel had to know. “Are you leaving soon?” She had told him before that their paths diverged, that she existed outside this earthly plane. All he knew is that she was unreachable, untouchable. In defiance, Angel reached out to prove himself wrong gently pulling Cordelia forward into his arms again. She felt human, and smelled entirely of woman, deliciously familiar right down to her favorite shampoo. He buried his nose in her curled locks and let her scent fill him up.
“I miss this,” he heard her sigh.
Angel felt her arms slip around his waist to squeeze him tight. The hug lasted longer than most, but left him wanting more when she shifted back. Reluctantly, he released her. Oh, God—he thought the words, but they felt like a prayer. It’s too soon. “Don’t leave.” How selfish could he be? Cordelia had places to go, champions to rally, people to save, worlds to protect. If that was the kind of thing she did. Every minute she was here probably caused some evildoer to win the day.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Cordelia pushed at his chest. “I asked to be here. This is my mission, too. It’s only fair that I get to protect my corner of the galaxy.”
Angel could barely get the words out to ask, “You’re staying?”
“Well, duh. You think I’d let you do this without me?”
Elated, but cautious, Angel had a million questions. He wanted to ask all of them, but there were other things he wanted from Cordelia right now and though the future was long, too many opportunities had slipped away, some of them important. Tracing the fullness of her bottom lip with his thumb, Angel followed it with a lingering kiss.
Cordelia smiled against his lips pulling away just enough to say, “Be certain of this, Angel. My roads are many, but they all lead back to you. I’m here as long as you need me.”
Tempting fate, he had to say it. “So—forever?”