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Recruiting

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Life After". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Cordelia’s Plans are ambitious and she’s going to need help. It’s time to assemble a team. Sequel to Reaching Detente.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Cordelia-CenteredKylieLFR1334,539054,54125 Oct 0831 Oct 08No

Riley Poole


Title: Recruiting: Riley Poole (Washington)
Fandom(s): Angel / National Treasure
Rating: pg
Summary: A Vision leads Cordelia to a meeting with a treasure hunter – Riley Poole.
Disclaimer: (Made to save ones own ass) Angel and all associated characters belong to joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. National Treasure is owned by Disney. No profit made from this piece of fiction.
Author’s Notes: Takes place in my Détente-verse. Sequel to Reaching Détente




The first Riley knew about the supernatural in the non-fiction sense, was when the mugger holding him at gun point burst into ash.

Riley dropped the box of books he was holding in shock.

A very attractive woman stood before him, holding a sharpened piece of wood.

“Huh. You know what?” she asked after a moment of shocked silence, tilting her head. “You’re exactly what I expected.”

Riley’s mind was too busy processing the fact that a rather large man had gone ‘poof’ and disappeared to monitor what his mouth was saying. “Are you a stalker?” He blurted out, and promptly wanted to kick himself.

She blinked at him in confusion for a moment then a disgusted look crossed her face. “Eww. No.” She waved a hand at the books spilling across the pavement at their feet. “I only read your book because it annoyed Toby. He called it ‘Conpiracy theorist rubbish, written by a barely literate monkey.’”

He had heard worse criticism, but still. “Nice to know your friend has a high opinion of Harvard’s educational standards.” Because although he could let the ‘conspiracy theorist rubbish’ comment slide, the ‘barely
literate monkey’ remark was a slur against his alma mater and the English professor who had proof read his thesis.

Her lips quirked into a mischievous grin. “Well, he is a bit of a language and grammar Nazi. You should see him wince when I break into full Valley Girl mode. He’s managed to restrain himself from a full blown rant so far, but I’ll get him to crack yet.”

He can’t help smiling at that. Despite the mysterious Toby’s animal based criticism, it’s obvious that this woman is fond of the man, yet has no problem making fun of him. It makes him feel a little better, picturing
her provoking his unknown critic.

He starts picking up the fallen books, brushing grit off of the book jackets. The orange glare of the streetlamps throws her features into shadowed relief as she squats down to help him.

“I am curious—” she begins, handing him a book, then stops.

He looks at her and can see the question on her face. Strangely he feels like answering her. Usually he just makes a glib remark or two, but she’s already had to save him from a mugger, so it’s not like he can be
unmanned any further. “Why write a book when I had a share of a fortune in treasure?” he finishes the question for her standing, his arms full of books. The box is a total loss.

She nods, handing him the last book. “It’s obviously not one of your…uh…strengths.”

“Well that was a diplomatic way of putting it,” he said, feeling insulted.

His sarcasm seems to go over her head. “Thanks. I’ve been working on it.” Or maybe it hadn’t, he couldn’t tell if she was serious, so he just started to explain.

“I bought a house and a Ferrari—”

“Nice car,” she commented.

“Very,” he agreed. “Then my accountant did some financial trickery with an offshore bank account, because ‘that’s how rich people do it.’”

“Ah.” She looked pained. “The IRS came after you?” she guessed.

“Yeh. Apparently the tax on 5 million dollars, is 6 million dollars.”

“The IRS took the house?”

“And the car,” he confirmed, mournfully. “I loved that car.”

“Yeah. I still miss mine.”

“You’ve had a run in with the IRS?” he asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “Back at the end of my senior year in High School. It turned out that Daddy hadn’t paid his taxes for 12 years and the IRS swooped in and took the lot.” She sighed heavily. “The house, my car, my Jimmy Choos. And my ex paid for my Prom dress, so my dignity was pretty well shot as well.”

“How did you get back on your feet?” he asked, curious.

“I moved to LA to become a star.”

Well he didn’t recognise her. “I’m guessing it didn’t work out.”

“No,” she said shortly, looking annoyed. “Obviously. Diplomacy is also something you’re working on, huh?”

Touche. “Maybe we should go to classes?”

She scoffed. “I already tried that, Diplomacy in Real Life and Business by Toby Ziegler. I think I’m a lost cause. I’ll leave the diplomacy and tact to those who are good at it.”

Toby Ziegler. He knew that name. Where did he know that name from? Hmm, it’d come to him later. Probably at 3 in the morning, just to be annoying. He prompted her to continue. “So, when stardom didn’t work out, what did you do?”

“Hit rock bottom,” she admitted.  “Then an old friend helped me out. Gave me a job and a calling.”

He thought about that and her ease with her weapon. “Does this calling have anything to do with muggers going ‘poof’ when you stab them with a stick?” he asked indicating to the stake that was now tucked into the pocket of her sweat shirt.

“Yeah,” she confirmed slowly. “It does.” She looked at him expectantly. “You’re the conspiracy theorist, let’s see if you can put it together.”

Hmm. Wooden stake. Exploding mugger. ‘Vampires’ jumped into his head, but he pushed the thought away, until she helpfully hinted, “The Initiative.”

His brain froze.

No. Way.

This wasn’t the Twighlight Zone, it was Washington DC, and The Initiative was a conspiracy that he’d discounted as too fantastic to be remotely believable.

The woman is nodding at him, with an apologetic grin. “Yeah, ‘fraid so. Demons, Vampires, Apocolypses. All true, my friend.”

“Uh…” A thousand thoughts swirl through his head as his brain starts working again, the loudest being ‘Are you nuts, lady?’ but he couldn’t get any words past his tongue. He ummed a few more times instead.

“Welcome to my world.”

His tongue finally untangled itself. “I’m not sure I want to be in your world. And why are you telling me this?”

“The PTBs wanted me to save you from becoming lunch for a vamp. Usually they have a reason for that. Not that they tell me what the reason is…”

He interrupted before she could get too far off topic. “PTBs?”

She sighed. “If I’m going to have to do the full spiel,” she said instead of answering, “I’m going to need coffee. You’re probably going to need alcohol.”

“Alcohol sounds good,” he agreed. He briefly catalogued the local bars for suitability. “I know a place.”

***

 ‘I know a place’ is his place. With how crazy this conversation is likely to sound, eavesdroppers weren’t something he wanted to deal with. So instead there’s a beautiful woman curled up in a corner of his sofa with a glass of red wine. They’ve done the introductions and he finally knows her name – Cordelia Doyle. It was good to know who he was drinking with.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Riley said, pouring the last of the bottle of Glenfiddich that Abigail had bought him for Christmas into a glass. “Vampires are real.”

“Yep.”

“Demons are real.”

“Yep.”

“There are witches who do actual magic.”

“Yep.”

“And you’re a seer who gets visions of people in trouble.”

“Yep.”

“The visions are sent to you by higher beings.”

“Yep.”

“And you have to help stop demons from ending the world.”

“That pretty much sums it up, yeah.”

 “Huh.” Strangely enough, he wasn’t having a lot of problems accepting the whole vampires and demons thing. He was, however, having a bit of a problem with, “And you actually make a living doing this?”

“Ye—Ah, no. Not exactly.”

He collapsed into his favourite chair and stared at her in disbelief. “You mean, you have a day job? All that, and a day job?

She nodded. “Yep. Although it’s not so much a day job as an anytime-of-the-day job.” She laughed a little at her joke. At his confused look she elaborated. “I have a private investigation firm in Gotham. We do the
normal PI stuff, but we also take supernatural jobs.”

“So you’re a supernatural demon assassin?”  he asked, still trying to get a grip on how she managed to make it all work.

Cordelia sighed. “No. You’re going to make me explain, aren’t you?”

He blinked. He’d had more than a few drinks. At the moment he had a rather vague notion that she was a supernatural cross between Mike Hammer and the John Cusak character from Gross Point Blank. Hmm. She seemed annoyed by the idea. He must have said that last part out loud. “Yes. Explanation is required.”

“Ok.” She refilled her glass then sank back into the sofa. “You’ve got that things that go bump in the night are real?”

“Got that. No problem there.”

“Vampires are real.”

“Got that. And a demonstration too.”

“Then the next thing that you need to know, is that not all demons are bad. Some are just like us, trying to live their lives with as little trouble as possible.”

“Well not us. For the two years, I keep finding trouble – well Ben keeps finding trouble, I just follow him. And you don’t seem to be trouble free. You know, seeing as how you go around staking vampires.”

She shot him a glare. “Like most people, then.”

“Oh.” He considered what she’d said. “You know. I think I’m going to have a problem there. I mean you think Demon, you think evil.

“You’re a smart guy, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

She seemed annoyed. “You want me to shut up and let you talk
now?”

“Yes.”

“Ok.”

“Thanks. I run a PI firm in Gotham, Doyle-Oracle Investigations—”

“Who named that?”

“I was drunk,” Cordelia ground out. “Jo got me drunk, then she and David ganged up on me.”

“Oh. Well then it’s a good name.”

She glared at him suspiciously for a moment, before continuing. “As far as most people are concerned that and its sister firm in New York—“

“Were you drunk when you named that one too?”

“No!”

“What did you name it?”

“I didn’t. But it’s Oracle Investigation New York. Can I continue now?”

“Sure. But it isn’t very imagina… imagai…” He tried to get his tongue to work properly, then gave up. “Not much thought went into that one, huh?”

“I’ll be sure to tell Lennie you said so,” she said, exasperated, ploughing on before he could comment again. “As far a most people are concerned it’s a couple of PI firms that deal with the usual. Missing persons. Cheating spouses. Pre-Employment background checks.”

“But that’s not all you do.”

“No. We also work for the peaceful types of demons, doing the same sort of schtick. And yes sometimes we do have to go hunting, and put demons down. We try to make sure that we only kill the demons who are into the chaos and carnage.”

“So the business is a cover for your supernatural related activities.”

“Yep. Mine and others. Not to mention it pays the bills, and puts food on the table.”

 “What about the demons in the visions?”

“Usually it’s a case of killing the demon in the vision, but it does depend on what the vision is about.”

“Oh.” He thought about that. She’d mentioned something earlier, “What about the others you mentioned earlier?”

“There are other people out there who do a similar job to me.” She shrugged. “Hunters, Slayers, Witches.”

“You guys are big on the one word titles aren’t ya?”

“Well it’s not like we named ourselves you know!” she huffed, exasperated.

“Obviously, ‘cause when you name yourselves you come up with names like Doyle-Oracle.”

“Riley!” She glared at him. “Do you want to hear this or not?”

“Yeah. But I want to comment too.”

Cordelia rubbed her forehead. “Oh, I haven’t had enough to drink for this,” she muttered.

“So, the others?” he prompted when she showed no signs of continuing.

“I’m trying to help a few of them out. Provide information, backup, a place to heal or decompress when they need some time.”

“And you do that by hiring them?”

“Yeah. It’s a bit more detailed than that, but yeah.”

Details would be good later, but for now he was probably a bit too drunk to really take them in. Still it seemed very… organised.

He told her as much and she snorted. “Pfft. You should see my
desk.”

***

He was awoken the next morning by a pounding on his door.

He startled awake, and rolled over. And off the sofa. Groaning he clambered to his feet and stumbled to the door.

There was a dull throb at the back of his head that indicated that he hadn’t drunk enough for a full blown hangover, but had drunk enough to make him fuzzy. He rubbed his eyes to try and clear his vision of spots as he opened the door to find Cordelia leaning against the door frame, holding a tray with coffee.

“Can I marry you?” he blurted out as the aroma of coffee teased his senses. The woman was a saint.

“Good Morning to you too, Riley,” she greeted him, amused. She pushed past him into his apartment.

“Well come on in,” he said, closing the door behind her.

“Riley. What did I tell you last night?”

“That you shouldn’t name things when drunk?”

She glared at him. “Never invite anyone into your home.

Ah yes, he remembered now. That was the first rule she’d announced when he’d invited her in last night. Although, last night she hadn’t glared at him when she’d said it. “I should be rude instead?”

“Stand back and indicate for people to come in instead,” she said, clearing a space on his coffee table for the tray, then handed him one of the cups.

I think we can count on me forgetting that one a few times,” he commented, taking the cup gratefully and inhaling the aroma. “Beverage of the Gods.”

“Possibly. A caffeine high would explain a few things.”

He took a sip and savoured the bitter brew. “Not that I’m not grateful for the caffeine fix, but what are you doing here?” he asked.

She pulled an apple out of her purse, and bit into it before answering. “Last night when I got back to my hotel I did a bit of research. You have no objections to doing things that aren’t… exactly legal, do you?”

“That would depend on what I was being asked to do,” he answered carefully. He wasn’t sure where she was going with this. “I’m not a big fan of being arrested.”

“Yeah, me either. But I had a bit of a brainwave.”

“And you want to act on something you came up with while drunk?” he asked in surprise. In his experience that was always a bad idea.

“It’s worked out well for me before,” she told him. “And I wasn’t drunk, I was…merry.”

He frowned in concentration, as something occurred to him. “You spend a bit of time around English people, don’t you?”

She blinked in surprise. “Yes. How did you know?”

“Some of the words you use,” he explained. “They’ve rubbed off on you a bit.”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

“Anyway, what was this brainwave of yours about?”

“Do you want a job?”

“I’m not interested in going back to working in a cubicle farm,” he said quickly. After all, it wasn’t as if he was without options, he’d decided to write the book because he couldn’t face the idea of going back to a
corporate environment after being rescued from one by Ben.

“No, nothing like that,” she assured him. “Not that I really know what a cubicle farm is.”

He briefly explained. “Ah, no, nothing like that. David Nabbit, my friend who—”

“You have David Nabitt working for you?” Riley stared at her in disbelief. “That name he knew. The guy was a major geek who’d developed a piece of software that had made him a fortune. Nabitt wasn’t much of a cracker to Riley’s knowledge, but as a software developer the man had serious cred.

“David’s a friend,” she explained, “but he’s usually on the other side of the country, and his own business keeps him busy.”

“So, what? You want to hire me as your technical support?”

“Kind of. I’d like you to be the head of our Digital Services division.”

“Is that code for tech support?” he asked suspiciously. Because it sounded like it might be.

“At first,” she admitted, with a small grin. “But it’ll branch out. The plan is to have all of our people -- some are mobile, and there will be branches across the States -- able to access the same information, to be
able to share information with each other, request back up etc. Plus it would be useful if we had someone who was good with security systems and telecommunication systems. Also someone who doesn’t mind doing things that aren’t entirely legal for a good cause would be good as well.”

She’d just pretty much described him, so he’s pretty sure the he knows what the subject of her research was. “Well if you wanted me to do something illegal you’d have to have a pretty good reason, one I’d agree with.”

“I can give you three,” she said and began to count off. “How does helping the helpless and protecting the innocent sound? Or giving my guys the tools and support that they need to do their jobs without ending up dead? Or, keeping the world from being sucked into hell because some demon with delusions of grandeur decided he wanted the world to end?”

Well, they were good reasons. They were also ambitious. “No world domination?”

“Nah. I’m having enough problems with only one business. I don’t think I could handle the entire world.”

“Good point.” Well the offer was intriguing. “What would happen next if I agreed?”

“You come to Gotham for a week or so, and we get you up to speed on our existing systems and the business. We’ll go over the basics of dealing with the supernatural, and give you some basic fight training so you can get yourself out of trouble if need be. Then, I suppose we’ll sit down and work out what you want to do next.”

“And if I decline?”

“I have your number and address, and I will annoy the hell out of you every time my computer so much as freezes.”

“Interesting negotiation technique,” he noted dryly.

“It’s worked well for me recently.”

He was silent for a few moments. “Give me some time to think about it?” he asked.

***

In the end the decision is easy.

Riley loves his country. Not the same way that Ben Gates does, with reverence for every detail, but with respect for her institution, a degree of cynicism about her politics and a realistic grasp of her faults and foibles, as well as her strengths.

What Cordelia was trying to do was ambitious, but could very well find her or her hunters being hunted by the government and it’s alphabet soup of agencies. She was going to need help.

Not to mention that being able to make that kind of a difference was attractive and that there was a paycheck involved that didn’t require him to sell his soul to corporate America.

The phone call is short and to the point.

“I’m in.”
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