The Next Steps
Disclaimer: “Angel”, along with all related characters and concepts, was created by Joss Whedon and Co., so they don’t belong to me, while “Charmed” characters and concepts belong to Constance M Burge. Anyway, enjoy
Feedback: As always, I’d appreciate it
AN: This story begins during the events of “A Witch’s Tail”; whatever you don’t see here- such as the confrontations with the Sea Hag, Mylie and the demon or Mylie’s meetings with Craig and Phoebe- happened the same as they did in the showThe Love of a Vampire
As she slowly opened her eyes to look out of her window at the rising sun, Paige couldn’t stop a slight smile of simultaneous relaxation and disappointment from filling her mind; relaxation at the thought of another calm day at work- things had been pretty quiet on the demon front over the last few months after the vanquishing of the Source and the Seer, to say nothing of them managing to stop Alcathla from sucking the world into Hell-, but disappointment at the realisation that Angel had once again not stayed the night.
Ever since he’d regained his soul, Paige and Angel had made a genuine effort to rebuild their original relationship- she’d never expected that they could just pick up where they’d left off, given that Angel still had to deal with Angelus’s memories of the last few months on top of his own pre-existing guilt-, but they had yet to take their relationship back to the physical level. They’d dated, they’d danced, and they’d shared dinner on more than one occasion over the last few months, but they still hadn’t ‘picked up where they left off’ as far as the… physical… side of things went; they’d both, by an unspoken agreement, decided to wait until they more comfortable to take things all the way.
After all, the last time- hell, the only
time- they’d… done it
… Angel had lost his soul and become a remorseless killer; just because they’d taken precautions to stop that happening again didn’t stop them being nervous about having to deal with it again.
Neither of them had even needed to talk with Phoebe about it; both of them had silently agreed that it would be best to act like they were starting from scratch with this relationship and take everything from there. The dates had been straightforward and fun, their training sessions as Paige learned further combat skills from Angel were challenging without risking crossing the line, and their occasional shared demon-vanquishing experience was enjoyable without pushing them into going up against anything too big (With Piper’s pregnancy they were trying to avoid ‘Power of Three’-level demons and problems).
Admittedly, Paige still had some way to go with some of her spell work; it hadn’t been anything serious yet, but she’d made more than the occasional mistake while working on potions for any occasions when she’d needed some extra help vanquishing the current bad guy. The red hair she’d picked up from the recent potion mishap in particular had been an unexpected surprise; she’d just put a couple of the wrong herbs in while preparing another standard vanquishing potion, and then she’d looked in the mirror and found out that her hair had turned a brilliant shade of orange-red.
It looked great, of course- Angel had certainly said that he liked it, and she’d come to know when the guy was lying well enough, to say nothing of Piper and Phoebe complimenting it as well once they’d recovered from the shock of the initial ‘explosion’-, but she’d still have preferred it if she’d actually planned
for that to happen, rather than it being the freak accident that it was.
Still, freaky cosmetic potion accidents aside, things were going pretty well as far as their personal lives went. Leo had Piper had gone to great lengths restructuring Piper’s old closet to turn it into a nursery for the baby- Angel had volunteered to help out with sorting out some of the materials necessary before Leo got around to installing the window that would naturally limit the aid the vampire could provide-, she and Angel were making at least some
progress in rebuilding their old relationship even if it would never be quite
the same as it had been, and Phoebe’s new job as an advice columnist was definitely
taking off over the last few months.Yep; it’s official
, Paige reflected, as she sat up in bed, stretching slightly as she glanced over at her wardrobe, already picking out the day’s clothes in her mind. Life is
Looking back on that moment later on as the events of the next few days unfolded, she would always wonder if she’d jinxed it with that thought.
As Paige walked into her office, still dripping wet from the sudden storm that had started while she was out, she shook her head slightly at the memory of how things had turned out after waking up.
She still couldn’t believe it; she was really
getting the hang of this magic thing. True, she’d needed Piper to take out that Borneo demon earlier today- she’d initially been orbing to see about grabbing one of the weapons she’d taken to keeping in her room, but then she’d accidentally orbed into the nursery (Her best guess was that she’d instinctively gone to the location of what could do the most damage to the demon) and Piper had just taken over before she could shift her location-, but she’d picked up a stake and taken a quick detour to take out a small vampire nest- only a couple of the suckers- on her way here to ‘prove’ that she still had it on her way to the courthouse to drop off some files.Maybe I should give Angel a quick ring to ask him to check that out
, she reflected as she walked over to her cubicle, trying to brush the damp out of her hair as she did so. After all, in this rain it’s not like there’d be much risk of him being hit by sunlight before he can get there, and the ‘enhanced senses’ thing he’s got going on would
definitely help him find anything interesting…
“Matthews!” Mr Cowans’ voice yelled, cutting off Paige’s train of thought. “In my office, now!”
Pushing thoughts of her boyfriend aside for the moment- whatever Mr Cowan wanted to see her about, it wouldn’t do her any good to look like she was distracted during the conversation-, Paige turned away from her cubicle and walked over to Mr Cowan’s office, grateful that the water was at least slightly warm as she walked through the door; she might be wet, but at least she wasn’t too cold.
“Weather advisory?” she said as she looked at Mr Cowan, trying to wring the remaining water out of her top as she spoke. “If you're gonna go outside, bring a paddle.”
“Where were you?” Mr Cowan asked, sitting back in his chair as he looked critically at her.
“Had to run the Mackenzie papers over to the courthouse,” Paige replied briefly, indicating the door with one hand as she continued to try and drain the worst of the water away from her clothes.
“You’ve been gone an hour
,” Mr Cowan said, his tone slightly incredulous as he looked at her.
“Yeah, well,” Paige replied, shrugging as nonchalantly as she could while still trying to dry herself off, “there’s a freak rainstorm; the entire city’s
flooded.”And taking out the vampire nest probably didn’t help matters
, she reflected silently to herself; that alone had probably cost her around fifteen minutes, given the time she’d taken to come up with the quickest possible means to take them out and the subsequent time to heal, but having found them she hadn’t felt right just abandoning them.
“Well, you should’ve let someone know where you were headed,” Mr Cowan continued, shaking his head slightly as he looked at her. “You have this habit of coming and going as you please.”
“‘As I please’?” Paige repeated. “No; I come and go as other
(Which was true enough in both her lives, now that she thought about it; she was subject to the orders of her superiors here at the office, and she was forced to go to wherever the demons and vampires were in order to take them out; in neither case did she
get to pick where she went or when she did what.)
“That’s what assistants do
,” she continued, a part of her grateful that she’d been here as long as she had been as she placed her hands on her hips while looking at Mr Cowan; you could get away with a lot
more when you’d been here as long as she had than you could in the beginning. “They run errands. I’ll tell you a little secret; they don’t like it.”
“Well, your behaviour’s got to change,” Mr Cowan replied, shaking his head slightly as he picked up a cup of coffee on his desk.“Maybe it’ll change if you promote me to social worker,” Paige countered, making sure to keep her tone light; even if she would
enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with Angel, it wouldn’t do her any favours in the future.
“I already did,” Mr Cowan replied, a slight smile on his face as he looked at her, his tone still making his authority clear even as his expression became slightly softer as he looked at her. “You start tomorrow.”
Paige could only stare incredulously at him as he sipped at his cup of coffee.
Whatever else she’d been expecting to hear from him, she hadn’t
been expecting that
As he slowly blinked his eyes open- he hardly ‘slept like the dead’, but he could still be a deep enough sleeper when the time came, particularly after the previous night-, Angel briefly wondered what had woken him up, before his ears finally detected the familiar sound of his cell phone; it had been one of the things Paige had insisted he buy after his soul had been restored to him, so that she could check on him whenever she wanted.
True, he sometimes forgot to charge it- you tended to lose touch with the world after spending the better part of a century hiding in alleys and eating rats, but he was getting better at it…
“Hello?” he asked, as he tapped the ‘Accept Call’ button and held the phone to his ear.
,” Paige replied, her voice, as it always did, making Angel feel better about the day ahead (Angelus’s newest memories still haunted his dreams at night, but hearing the warmth in Paige’s voice always helped him deal with that particular issue). “How’s things
“Is something wrong?” Angel asked, sitting up in bed as he listened anxiously for Paige’s response. She might be one of the most compassionate people he’d ever met, but Paige knew him well enough to know that he would let her know if something had happened to him since they last parted company, which could only mean that something was wrong at her
“Well, depends on your definition of ‘wrong’, really
,” Paige replied. “My boss just promoted me to full-time social worker
“He did?” Angel replied, smiling slightly as he sat up in bed. “Nice work; congratulations.”
” Paige replied, her tone sounding uncertain.
good news, isn’t it?” he said uncertainly, nearly moving the phone away to look at it in the absence of Paige before he remembered that Paige couldn’t hear him if he held it too far away. “I mean, you’ve worked so hard at that office, and now they’re finally showing their appreciation…”
“Well, Cowan gave me this big speech about responsibility and not coming to work late, no long lunches, things like that
,” Paige admitted, sounding like she was sighing over the phone. “I just… well, seriously,
how am I going to manage that if I’ve got my witch-related duties to deal with? Piper might be lucky enough to own her own business, and Phoebe can pretty much work on her column whenever she wants- even if she’s got a
lot of other stuff to deal with to publicise it-, but me? It’s hard enough finding time
now; how am I going to do the job right
and protect innocents
“I… as much as I wish I could help you, Paige, I’m really
not the best person to ask for career advice,” he said, shaking his head in frustration at his inability to help the woman he loved with this latest problem. “I never really had a job myself when I was alive, and as for after I was sired…”
“Yeah, I know; not really easy to get a job where you can
guarantee you won’t be exposed to sunlight at any point these days, is it
?” Paige replied, allowing herself a slight chuckle before she continued. “I don’t know… I think I just wanted to tell
someone, you know
“Yeah,” Angel replied, nodding sympathetically as he reached over to grab his clothes, shrugging on his shirt even as he continued to listen to Paige. “Sometimes, we all need someone to-”
“Hold on; I’ve got a call on the other line
,” Paige said, cutting him off mid-sentence as she put her phone down. Angel could just about pick up the sound of her talking on another phone over the line- electronic distortion over the phone lines always made it that little bit harder for him to hear what was going on at the other end, and the phones were never that sensitive to begin with anyway-, before she put the other phone down and picked up the one she’d been talking to him on again. “Sorry, but it looks like we’re going to have to cut this short; I just got a call from Piper that Phoebe’s found something we need to deal with
“Right,” Angel said, glancing out of the window as he stood up from his bed; with the rain the way it was, he could probably make it to the Halliwell’s house without even needing to use the sewers (A fact that he was particularly grateful for; with the water the way it was he had a feeling he’d have been forced to swim if he tried going via the sewers). “I’ll see you when we get back to the mansion, OK?”
,” Paige replied before she terminated the call.Slipping his phone into his pocket, Angel stood up and grabbed his coat, walking over to the cupboard where he kept his weapons even as he shrugged it on.
Whatever the situation Phoebe had discovered, Angel wasn’t going to go in unarmed; even if he couldn’t do much against the Charmed Ones’ regular class of demon, he was still going to at least try
and do what he could.