Story Notes: Canon up to The Kiss in AtS 3.11, then goes off into Cordyverse.
Author’s Note: answer to Marcus Rowland’s Cordyverse challenge (TtH #842)
Disclaimer: Angel the Series and all associated characters are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, and Warner Brothers. Beverly Hills, 90210 is property of Darren Star, Aaron Spelling, and Fox Television. This work is not for profit and no ownership of aforementioned copyrighted material is implied, nor any infringement intended.
* * *
Kick. Jab. Roundhouse.
“Quit patronizing me, Billy. It was sloppy.”
“Okay, so your jab was half an inch off. You’re tired; it’s been a good session.”
“I know, just don’t bullshit me. I don’t need you to blow sunshine; I need coaching. And if anyone asks-“
“Yes, yes, I’m giving you private lessons in Tae Bo.” Billy paused “Look, not that I’m not flattered and all, but you don’t strike me as the frivolous type. In person.”
Cordelia smiled as she toweled herself off. “Thanks for not voting me as flaky as my character. But you’re wondering...” she prompted.
“I’m wondering what your motivation is. I know it’s not just to get in shape. The way you keep showing up, rain or shine, like you’ve got a mission. You have the drive I’ve seen in the best competitors. You’re not fantasizing about going pro, are you?”
“Hah! No, no delusions of an alternate career as a world karate champion. I’m just working on my self defense skills.”
“Glad to hear it. Most people--men and women, both--don’t give a thought to their safety until they’re in a bad place. Then it’s too late. You aren’t being stalked or anything are you?”
“Nope. Just want to be ready if badness happens.” The actress drank greedily from her water bottle. “Same time Thursday?”
“You bet. See you then.”
* * *
A freshly showered Cordy walked out of the Sherman Oaks center and hit speeddial 1 on her phone. “Hey Nev.”
“Cordy, ET’s making noise about another spot because you got the part for Wonder Woman.”
“Mmm. What’d my agent say?”
“Susan said that it’d be great coverage, not to blow any plot twists, and not to snort if they say something funny.”
“Ha, ha. She knows I haven’t even seen the real script yet, right?”
“That’s not the impression you’re supposed to give,” Nev grumbled. “C’mon, Cordy, this isn’t like you. You normally have people lined up, eating out of your hand. What’s with you lately? And I mean that in the most professionally respectful and platonically caring way, of course.”
“I’m fine, Nev, really. Thanks.”
* * *
Twenty minutes later Cordelia entered the office of Angel Investigations. “I got your message, Wes. What’s going on?”
“There have been some nasty rumors from both the human and supernatural community.” The one-armed demon hunter paused dramatically. “Demons selling drugs to humans up in Beverly Hills.”
Cordelia sat in one of the (new, leather upholstered) chairs and crossed her legs. “Isn’t that a little obvious?”
“Like a famous actress traipsing around L.A. with a samurai sword, dispatching demons?” Wesley’s delivery was so dry that Cordelia couldn’t help but guffaw.
“Fair enough,” Cordy said as she kicked off her pumps and massaged her feet.
Wesley leaned back in his chair. “Many of the customers are from Beverly Hills. Based upon some admittedly sketchy details, I believe the drugs are magically treated to make the users more susceptible to demonic possession.”
Cordy sighed. “Oh, joy.”
“I was actually thinking the opposite, actually. I assume you want to be there when Charles and I go to confront these unsavory characters?”
“Ooh, how Clint Eastwood of you. And yes, of course.” Cordelia paused, considering how to frame the next question. “So, how’s everything else going?”
Wesley sighed. “And by that I presume you mean, ‘How is Angel?’ His visions haven’t been quite as debilitating lately. We haven’t had to chain him up for some time.”
“Can’t slip anything past you Watcher types,” grumbled Cordelia as she rose and went to see Angel. At the end of the hall she took the key from the hook next to Angel’s door. Cordelia peered through the peephole in the door for a moment, then unlocked both deadbolts and entered.
Angel smiled at his visitor. “Cordelia.”
“Hey, Angel. How’s tricks?”
“I’m safe today,” he said quietly.
“I’m always safe around you.”
Angel dropped his eyes to the floor. “I’ve missed you.”
“I missed you, too, big guy,” Cordelia said softly as she stepped forward to embrace the vampire.
Downstairs, Wesley chewed his lip as he pored over the case file from Beverly Hills. The front door opened and Gunn entered, paper bag in hand. “Hey, Wes. Brought blood for our resident blood-sucker.”
Wesley said nothing, but frowned slightly. Gunn looked around curiously. “I saw the car out front. Where’s our favorite star and bill-paying partner?”
“Upstairs. With him.”
Gunn shook his head and put the two containers of blood he carried into the fridge, then flopped into a chair. “Man, that shit can NOT end well.”
“Yes, I’m well aware of the risks,” Wesley said. “And I’ve spoken to Cordelia several times. She’s assured me that nothing...improper will happen.” Gunn raised his eyebrows skeptically in response.
Fifteen minutes later, a somewhat mussed Cordelia reentered the front office. She noticed the stare from both men. “What? He had a vision.”
“Oh, I see,” Wesley said. “I didn’t hear him this time.”
“Wasn’t that great a vision,” Cordelia griped. “Less helpful vision, less pain. I guess it’s a trade off.” She sighed.
“So, what’d he say,” asked Gunn.
“Beware the stone troll,” Cordelia said. The other two waited expectantly for her to continue. “What? That’s all he said.”
“Mmm, thank you,” Wesley said. “Cordelia, you’re sure he said nothing else? Sometimes he mumbles during visions.”
“That is all he said,” Cordelia enunciated each word clearly. “Beware the stone troll.”
Wesley frowned in concentration. “A Tolkien reference, perhaps?”
Charles stood and went over to the fridge. He pulled one of the styrofoam containers of blood and went to heat it before carrying it up to Angel. “I’ll take the stone foxes,” Gunn commented. “You two can have the stone troll.”
Cordelia shook her head in mock exasperation. “Thanks, Charles.”
* * *
The night was lit by an orange glow from sodium-vapor streetlamps and the blue-white headlights of passing cars. Even in January, the leather trench coats worn by the three Angel Investigations teammates were a bit much for southern California.
“Are you kidding me? ‘After Dark,’” Cordy scoffed. “Who comes up with these stupid names? At least ‘The Bronze’ was original.” She led the other two to the edge of the parking lot where a sleazy looking man leaned against his van.
“Hey, want to buy a little happiness, sugar?”
Cordy slapped the hand proffering the drugs. It looked like a scene out of a movie: the vial arced through the air before clinking down through the metal grate of a storm drain. She sneered at the drug dealer and asked, “And you are?”
“Shane. And are you’re gonna be sorry you did that, bitch.” He pulled back his hand to slap Cordelia but she stepped closer, inside effective range of the slap. When only the inside of his arm hit her head it didn’t even hurt; she used the chance to knee him in the groin, hard and fast. Three times.
There was a strangled scream and Shane dropped to the ground, curled up in fetal position. Cordelia stepped back, breathing hard, and turned her attention to the van. The side door of the van slid back, and a large creature stepped out with a tire iron held in one massive hand.
“Great,” Cordelia mumbled under her breath. “Why do I always get the ugly ones?”
Cordelia was so focused on the monster she was only dimly aware of Wes trading shots with a woman who had just come out of the club. The troll stepped closer and Cordelia got a whiff of pungent smoke. “A stoned troll, great, I get it,” she griped.
The thing swung a tire iron like a nun swinging a ruler: effortlessly and precise. Cordy just managed to block with her katana, but the blow nearly numbed her arms. The clang form her blade told her it was almost certainly notched. Notched swords were usually fixable; dead heroes weren’t. *All right, no more brute force approach.*
Cordelia stepped around to change her angle of attack. As the troll swung the tire iron backhand she cut downwards with perfect timing. The monster’s severed hand, still holding the tire iron, flew through the air to land underneath a parked car. The troll roared and clubbed her with its other massive fist.
“Oh, sh—” Cordelia managed as she somersaulted through the air, before impacting on the plastic body of a Saturn. Her katana clattered to the ground nearby.
“Cordy,” Gunn shouted. He used the haft of the axe to strike the slowly recovering Shane in the head, rendering the drug dealer unconscious. Then Gunn stepped up behind the troll who was closing in on Cordelia. Gunn’s axe hit the troll in the middle of the back, but the wide blade gave little penetration.
It did take the attention off Cordelia long enough for a Good Samaritan to reach down and help her to her feet. “You’d better get out of here,” the stranger said.
The man stepped back as Cordelia picked up her katana. “Get back,” she said to him. “Keep people back!”
Cordelia moved up to the troll that was doing its best to strike Gunn with its single remaining hand. “Hey, dope fiend, I’m not done with you!” Cordy smacked the troll on the head with the flat of her blade to provoke the reaction she wanted.
As the troll tuned to face her again Cordelia thrust with the point of her sword, edge held horizontally. She timed it so the point entered the monster’s chest as it turned towards her. The troll’s own movement caused the blade to slice through its chest, splitting its heart in two. The troll groaned as it sank to the ground, mortally wounded.
Cordelia was pulled forward when she didn’t let go of her katana. “Hey, give me back my sword, dammit!” Cordelia finally let go and stepped back as the corpse made a sound like crackling ice. The body turned to stone along with the sword still embedded in its chest.
A bystander—the one who had helped Cordelia up—stepped up to her. “Miss, are you okay?”
“Yeah, just give me some space for a minute,” she said as she strove to return her breathing to normal.
The man remained where he was, but looked at her carefully. “Do I know you,” he asked.
Cordelia looked him in the eyes. “I don’t think so.”
“I’m Dylan,” he said, extending his hand. “And you are?”
“So tired I’m not even flattered. Look, just go home. Or when the police show up to investigate this one—” Cordelia said.
“You were some blonde midget, got it. I think your sword’s a loss.”
“Yeah, but you should see the other guy.”
“I can,” Dylan said. “Was that a—”
“Circus freak,” Cordelia interrupted. “Darn carnies just show up, and there goes the neighborhood.”
Dylan bit his lip to keep from laughing. After a momentary silence he said, “Okay, then. Good night.”
Cordelia walked over to where Gunn and Wesley had tossed the unconscious-but-alive human drug dealers next to their van. “I think we need to get the truck out of Dodge,” the actress joked.
* * *
“Cordy, some package just arrived.”
“Thanks, Nev. Did you put it in my dressing room?”
“Of course. But I had to—”
“Good. Gotta run,” Cordelia said, and hurried off to resume the dress rehearsal of the show.
At the end of the day a weary Cordelia entered her dressing room. She saw the package and frowned when she read the address label; it was one of her favorite shops. Cordelia opened the top of the heavy cardboard box and peered at the long rectangular wooden case within. She lifted the case from the cardboard, set it down on the dressing room table, and carefully opened the lid. Cordelia inhaled in surprise at the katana within. There was a note tied to the scabbard.
Cordelia opened the note and read aloud, “Keep fighting the good fight. Hope you find this useful. Dylan.”
* * *