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The Wrong End of the Stake

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Summary: Cordelia ends up on the wrong end of Dean Winchester's stake. Literally.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Cordelia-CenteredficbitchFR1317,572381,78624 Feb 0924 Feb 09Yes
Title: The Wrong End of the... Stake
Author: Christie
Summary: Cordelia ends up on the wrong end of Dean Winchester's stake. Literally.
Spoilers: Everything up to Shadow in Supernatural. Up to before the gang get sucked into Pylea in Angel.
Pairings: Cordelia/Dean. Cordelia/Sam friendship.
Content: Mild vision-related angst.
Disclaimer: Absotively posolutely not mine. I'm just writing them because my muse feels like playing. Angel the Series belongs to Joss Whedon, the WB, etc. Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke and the CW.
Authors Notes1: My very first attempt at writing Dean. For which I possibly suck. Please don't mock too hard.
Authors Notes2: Not betaed. Sorry.



Being bait is not exactly the easiest task in the world, but Cordelia recognises the need for it when she sees it.

At different corners of the club, her friends are watching. She knows because she can feel their eyes on her wherever she goes.

It's easy to blend in with the crowd, even though she hasn't been dancing in a while. She takes to it like she used to take to Prada before her father lost all their money, gliding in between bodies, pressing herself up against a guy and then spinning away again before he can get any ideas.

Cordelia's not here for that. Cordelia's here to work.

They're working two cases this week. Not an altogether alien concept to the gang at Angel Investigations, but an annoying one all the same. That damn shapeshifter that Angel had been tracking and her vision.

The vision she'd had yesterday was different. Vague still, sure - Cordelia didn't think they'd ever lose that - but the delivery was different. She can't put her finger on it, exactly. The way she dropped the carafe of coffee was no different to the other ten thousand times she'd done it in the last year. Angel catching her? Not so unfamiliar. Add another thousand to the number of times she'd dropped the coffee pot and you had where Cordelia was right now, it was just the feel of it that was different.

Her skull still felt like it was splitting open. Even now, though the haze of music and people dancing flush up against her, Cordelia's head still throbbed. She'd cut one of the stronger pills in half, knowing that she needed to be alert tonight and praying it'd be enough to not make her want to head to the bathroom and cry at the thumping bass of the music.

Turned out it worked quite well, but Cordelia's getting restless, knowing that something's about to happen.

Again, she can't put her finger on it. She can still see the guy there in her head, searching for something -- she's not sure hunting was the appropriate word -- and then something else. A demon with yellow eyes, old... And something awfully like pain, blistering across her stomach. Cordelia knows it's bad. The experience with the rebar was enough to let her know that any kind of stomach wound is bad, but that vision...

Something catches her gaze from across the club and she sees him, standing with a slightly smaller guy, wearing a leather jacket and a smirk. His companion is watching her. She licks her gloss-slicked lips, wondering if that's her opening, if being bait really has paid off this time, when a scuffle breaks out behind her and the music scratches off to a halt, the DJ looking perturbed.

There's a scream and Cordelia forgets about the guy in her vision for just a moment when she sees another flash of black. Angel. Her loyalties are divided for all of a split second and when she follows the fight outside, she doesn't realize guy-in-her-vision is right behind her.

Angel's in full-on vamp-face when she gets out into the alley and Cordelia's not sure how she knows, but the guy he's fighting isn't entirely human. The shapeshifter.

Angel has weapons in his jacket - Cordelia knows 'cause she saw him put them there - and when the thing tosses Angel against the wall outside of the club, she hears a couple of ribs snap. He hasn't quite mastered the art of grabbing a weapon while being flung against a wall.

He recovers quickly, just like he always does, and he's getting to his feet to fight off the damn thing again when Cordelia sees it.

Vision-Guy, his companion--And she's not sure how they know about vampires or why they're even here but the flash of stake has Cordelia's heart leaping into her throat and she steps forward.

Somehow, she ends up in the middle. And she loves Angel - he's her best friend, of course she does - but dying for him was never in the equation and Cordelia's mouth makes this soft 'o' of surprise as she realizes she knows exactly what the thing in her vision was. It was her, being fucking skewered by someone's stake.

Cordelia stumbles backwards and she's really really thankful that the guy's aim was a little off, or that her stepping in was last minute and *so* not altogether thought out because the stake sticking out of her stomach would have been really fucking inappropriate if it was sticking out of her heart and--Her hands are covered in blood.

She slumps against the wall as the shapeshifter roars at Angel, begins to shift-shape or whatever the fuck those things do, and time kind of slows down around them because Cordelia feels groggy and all she can be thankful for is that the pain at the base of her skull is starting to throb less as she floats away to somewhere dark.



******


Dean Winchester did not feel guilty. Sam'd had a vision and they'd spun the car around from being on their way from mindfuck central (Stanford, not an easy place for little brother to go on the anniversary of Jessica's death) only to find themselves in the bar featured in his vision, watching as the hottest brunette in the club made her way through the crowds.

Dean Winchester did not feel guilty. He'd had this conversation with his father before, back when Sam'd left for Stanford and Dean had been hunting his first Bruja down in Columbia Falls. He'd killed the Bruja alright, but a girl had been caught in the crossfire and Dean had become obsessed with learning everything about her because that shouldn't have happened.

He was supposed to save the girl, not kill her.

"People die, Dean," said his father, the words sounding thick and heavy even from his own mouth, "You can't save everybody and you can't dwell on the one's that get caught up in what we do."

Dean Winchester was trying not to feel guilty. He'd reacted quickly to the situation outside, seeing the vampire toss that guy around. What the hell was he supposed to think, given that the apparent shape shifter was wearing its human guise? He didn't expect a girl - a human girl, no less - to be hanging round with a vampire and he certainly didn't expect her to step in front of his fucking stake.

For once, Dean was glad his aim was off. Staring down at the stake he'd crafted himself while blood oozed from the wound in her stomach, Dean's own gut had twisted. And that was when he first learned of the girl's name, when a British voice behind him screamed it.

Cordelia.


******


They hadn't really dealt with vampires before. Sam'd leafed through their father's journal after they'd escaped from that alley, while Dean was washing the blood from his hands. Sam was kicking himself. He'd seen the girl in his vision, seen her go down like a ton of bricks, hand pressed to her head and screaming... Had seen that club.

What he hadn't seen was his brother shoving his stake into her stomach. That was a little unfair, he knew. She'd stepped out of nowhere - he'd seen it himself - and when the shape-shifter had started to shift, dropping skin and teeth everywhere - Sam had known that something was off about this situation.

The vampire had been fighting it.

When the girl had stumbled back against the wall, the vampire had surprised them both, turning yellow eyes on them before shock made them bleed back into brown as he stared at the girl. His human features had appeared and all of a sudden the guy looked scared.

He'd dropped to his knees beside her and Sam and Dean had taken that as their cue to go. When the other two had appeared, one of them screaming the girl's name, the vampire had caught up with them, slamming Dean up against the wall and getting the drop on Sam with an elbow to his face.

"She dies," he'd growled at Dean, "And I'll snap your fucking neck myself."

He'd flicked Dean away like he was no more than a fly and gone back to his friend. They'd ran then. Not the most dignified of exits, Sam would admit, but she was being looked after. And they had to go, see what the hell they were dealing with here.


******


It took a couple of days of asking questions, but Sam finally began to learn some things about the girl in his vision.

She hadn't died in hospital. They'd took a chance and called the nearest one to that club the day after it had happened and with some sweet-talking from Sam and an insistence that he was family but his 'sister' was a runaway and he wasn't sure what name she was going by these days or if she'd stick around when she knew he'd found her, the Nurse had acquiesced.

She'd come out of surgery early that morning, a little worse for wear, but she'd be fine given a few days. Dean thought that should be it. Sam thought different. She'd still been in his vision, he told Dean, and just because his brother felt guilty - even if he didn't want to admit it - there was still something there. Something Sam couldn't put his finger on.

Her name was Cordelia Chase. They found a demon who was willing to give a bit of information for money through a friend of a friend - someone Dean had met on a hunt in LA before, when Sam had been off in Stanford. A Sunnydale, California reject, she'd come to work for Angel when she was 18 years old. Now 21 and she was still with the vampire... But this was no ordinary vampire.

It seemed to be a bit of a sore spot with the green demon, who lisped that the guy had put him in therapy for months when he'd 'fallen off the rails' but by all accounts, the guy was good, something Sam was having immense trouble with.

"You've never heard of him?" Merl asked, "Kinda famous in these parts... Or infamous, if you know what I'm sayin'..."

"So one minute he's good, the next minute evil?" Sam had asked.

Dean had lost interest in the conversation a while ago - as far as he was concerned, if it was evil, you killed it, simple as.

"Not exactly," said Merl and explained all about his apparent soul and the lawyers who liked to mess with him on a regular basis. "But that Cordelia. Man she's sweee-eeeet," he murmured, whistling long and low, "Now if I could only get her to give a guy with a bit of green a chance..."

Sam resisted a snort and placed Dean's well-earned-at-playing-Poker bills on the counter. "Thanks for your help, man."

"She works for a vampire," said Dean as they got outside, heading towards the Impala, "A freakin' vampire."

"A good one," Sam pointed out, then added, "Apparently."

"Dude, c'mon," Dean frowned, "How many times have you heard of something evil changing its ways and going good?"

Sam had to admit he had a point. But he also had to wonder how much of this was Dean making up for what he'd done to the girl. Making her out to be some kind of whack-job 'cause she'd stepped in the line of fire for a vampire. "I think we should go see her," he said after a beat.

That made Dean stop in his tracks, "You've gotta be freakin' kidding me."

"I'm serious, Dean," he said, staring at his brother from across the top of the car, "She was in my vision. And every time I get one of those--"

"It's connected to the demon, I know," he snapped, "I just don't see how the conversation is going to go when we walk in there. What am I supposed to say, 'hey, sorry I imapled you on the business end of my stake?'"

Sam actually hadn't thought that far ahead. "Nothing says I'm sorry like a big-ass bouquet of flowers," he tried.

"Smooth man," Dean scowled as he yanked open the door to the Impala, "Real smooth. No wonder you're such a chick magnet."



******


Cordelia Chase hated hospitals. She remembered scoffing once, back when Angelus was on the loose and the flu that had taken out half the school had caught up with Little Ms. Likes to Slay, that nobody could possibly hate hospitals that much. Of course, back then? She hadn't known exactly why Buffy had hated hospitals and she herself hadn't spent every other week in one, listening to doctors rambling about hot spots and cold spots that weren't of the tourist-y variety.

The whole hospital thing was getting very old - especially when she was on the business end of having something shoved into her stomach.

The police had grilled her for over an hour on that this morning, but it had been nothing compared to Angel, who was perturbed at the fact that she was getting visions of the guy who'd done it. "Not the actual guy," she'd murmured, once he'd flapped enough to remind her of Wesley, "But he was with him, yeah."

Which was sort of what worried Cordelia. Okay, so she was pissed at being run through with a stake and her insurance policy would probably never forgive the guy (it wasn't like the pay at Angel Investigations covered it or anything) but still, Cordelia got the feeling that it wasn't over.

It took time and a lot of convincing to get Angel to go home and shower. He'd been there for two days, avoiding the sunlight and not letting Cordelia out of his sight until she'd happened to mention that honestly? He was kind of starting to smell a little and grow stubble in a way that wasn't exactly pretty. She'd found herself alone for the first time in two days and had just closed her eyes to take a little break from the whole conversation gig when the door opened and a big bunch of flowers walked in. "Angel, didn't I just tell you I didn't--"

She froze. Behind the bunch of flowers was the guy. The one who'd stabbed her with a stake. Beside him, the one from her vision. Cordelia opened her mouth but the guy got there first.

"Please don't scream," he started, looking a little more than nervous, "We're not here to hurt you."

"What, you mean again?" Okay, so that came out a little snippier than Cordelia had intended. The guy deserved it! She'd be out of a bikini for weeks... Well, okay, that didn't matter when she didn't really get any sun anyway, but still...

"About that..." Dean started, looking irritably at the flowers, "Those were his idea, by the way."

Cordelia's mouth twitched until she remembered she was supposed to be angry at the guy. "How the hell did you know where I was?"

"It's the closest hospital to that club," Dean pointed out, "And--We may have asked around a little."

O-kay, thought Cordelia. "Who are you?"

"I'm Dean and this is my brother, Sam," said Dean, being honest with a woman for maybe the first time since he was five and he'd told his teacher that he'd been late for school 'cause Dad had been up hunting demons all night. They'd left that town two days later. "We came 'cause--Well, Sam here--We thought you were in danger."

Cordelia's eyebrows shot up into her hairline, "What?"

Dean was officially at a loss for words, "Well, we'd been watching you... In the club, I mean, and when we went outside and saw that guy..."

"Angel?" Dean's head tilted and Cordelia guessed he hadn't got that part, "The one with the fangs?"

"So it's true? You really work for a vampire?"

The disgust in his voice made Cordelia bristle visibly and her gaze darkened, "He's not exactly your regular vampire, Mr. I'll Shove A Stake In Him Before I Ask Any Questions. Had it escaped your attention that he was fighting a shape shifter? And that he wasn't even getting remotely bitey while I was standing there?"

Truthfully, it hadn't, and the thought made Dean squirm a little under her close scrutiny.

"So what are you? Demon hunters or something?"

Dean and Sam shared a look before glancing back towards the girl sitting in the hospital bed. She looked out of place in the white-washed room. "We're... I'm... We..." Dean shook his head. For someone who was as good with the ladies, he was sure having trouble talking to this one.

"Yes," said Sam, amused at the way Cordelia seemed to continually catch his brother off-guard, even in the short space of time they'd spent with her, "We're demon hunters. I, uhm... I know this sounds crazy but I had a vision. About you."

Cordelia blinked, "Say that part again?"

Sam was almost used to that look. "I know it sounds crazy," he started, but Cordelia shook her head.

"Not about the crazy. About the visions, 'cause... I had one too. About you."


******




Sam and Cordelia were bonding and it pissed Dean off. From the minute she'd said she'd had a vision about Sammy, Dean had been alert. He'd listened as they'd explained what they'd seen respectively, and watched as they indulged in some kind of muted awe that they were both giant freaks with visions.

In Cordelia's defence, she was a hot freak at least. He'd watched her lick her lips in that club and almost immediately had to adjust his crotch area a little but this--This was different.

"How long have you had them?" Cordelia asked, eyes wide.

"A year now," said Sam, "They started when--Before my girlfriend died."

He swallowed hard and Dean could still see the pain in his eyes. Some days he wished Sam'd never had to go through it, though he was selfish enough to be glad Sammy was by his side where he could protect him.

"How about you?" He asked Cordelia, causing Dean's gaze to flicker to her again.

"Just over two. Passed on from a--Well, friend, I guess. Potential boyfriend, maybe," said Cordelia and there was pain there too. Dean could feel it. "He died and gave me these visions. I-I help people. We help people, my friends and I. That's why we were there trying to kill that shapeshifter the other night. Y'know, before we were rudely interrupted."

He felt her gaze on him again and wondered why it always felt like she was evaluating him. He tried his smile - the winning one that always seemed to work on most girls - and felt it flounder before it even reached his lips.

"Not that I'm not pissed off," she continued, "Or kind of grateful in case I had been about to become vamp-dinner... But you really should research what you're killing a little more, y'know?"

Dean frowned at that.

"I had a little trouble with it at first too," she explained, turning her gaze back on Sam, "I mean, I grew up on a Hellmouth and we were always taught 'vampires, bad', y'know? But Angel has a soul. And on the days when he's not losing it to every evil harpy that comes along? He's a good guy."

She sounded like she believed it, which really got to Dean. At first he'd thought that maybe she'd been brainwashed but Cordelia Chase didn't seem like the kind of person who could ever, in her natural life, let herself be brainwashed. Then he'd thought she was just stupid but the way she talked - even if there were occasions where she sounded vaguely like a valley girl - he just knew there were smarts there. This girl had layers and despite the fact she was more interested in his brother and his freak-o visions... Dean wanted to know what more of them were.

"So, what? The guy just wakes up one day and decides he won't bite any more?" He scoffed. He couldn't quite figure out why he was trying to get a rise out of her - maybe to make an impression?

"Gypsy curse," said Cordelia, rolling her eyes, "Pretty lame one as curses go but... Hey, gypsies."

Dean went to say more but the sound of the door crashing against the wall jarred him out of his thoughts. For the second time that week the vampire had the drop on him and that plain pissed him off, so when Angel had his hand around his throat and him thrust up against the wall, Dean took the cheap shot and went for a hard kick between the legs.

Angel dropped him quickly and slumped backwards amidst a yell from Cordelia about him not jumping to conclusions about every "Sam, Dick and Dean that happens to be talking with me in my hospital room!"

The admonishment from Cordelia looked to have cowed him more than the kick from Dean, so he gave the guy the once over, rubbing his hand at his throat, "And you're not evil?"

"Skewered any more innocents lately?" Angel asked darkly.

And though Dean knew the deal with Angel (more than he'd like to know, if truth were told) he didn't like the guy on sight.

"What are they doing here?" The vampire asked, turning to Cordelia who was regarding him with a sharp look on her face, "Did they hurt you?"

"Jesus Christ, Angel," she frowned, flinging her hands up in the air and wincing as pain sparked across her stomach, "Don't you think I would have, I don't know, screamed or something? Pressed the bell? We were talking..."

Dean liked that the guy was pissed at their presence, though he wasn't sure what that was. "Yeah, Angel," he smirked, "We were talking."

"Hey, you can shelve it too," Cordelia bit at him, turning her glare his way, "You're still not totally forgiven for the stake thing, Buster. Do you know how much my insurance premium is going to go up?"

He looked down at his feet, truly chastised now, and murmured another sorry.

Angel smiled.

"Angel, this is Sam and Dean. Sam gets visions too," she told him.

Once again, Dean was pushed out the conversation.


******


What pissed Dean off more about working with the damn vampire was that he had to spend more time around Cordelia and she unsettled him. Dean wasn't used to this. Little old ladies, kids and people in authority Sam could handle, but women? That was Dean's thing, yet Cordelia hardly spared him a second look some days.

He figured that maybe she was harbouring some grudge over his skewering technique. He understood that, if it irked him a little. He hadn't expected her to stand in front of his stake while he'd been trying to take out something he thought was evil. Nonetheless, Cordelia didn't pay him much attention which made Dean want to grab it more.

The vampire seemed to laugh at him a lot. He didn't do it outright where the brunette could see, but sometimes Dean would be talking to her and he'd catch a glimmer of amusement dancing in Angel's eyes and that pissed him off too.

They hadn't told the others about the demon. They hadn't told them that Sam's visions were connected to the yellow eyed son of a bitch who'd killed their Mom and Sam's Jess... But he could see the question there in Cordelia's eyes when she'd asked how come they'd started on this fight.

Dean hadn't wanted to get into it. He needed air, he'd told them, and headed off outside to the courtyard where he'd stood wishing he smoked so that he could have something to do other than try to breathe.

He heard the door to the hotel open and close fifteen minutes later and looked up to find Cordelia there, holding her stomach. Movement still pained her a little, but she was getting better by the day. "Hey," she said, coming to sit next to him at the bench next to the old fountain.

"Hey yourself." It wasn't the smoothest thing he'd ever said, not by a long shot, but she didn't laugh at him or look at him with scorn so he guessed he'd passed whatever Cordelia Chase Test she was bestowing on him now.

"I didn't mean to stir up bad memories in there," she said after a beat, "I'm just... I guess my curiosity gets the better of me sometimes."

"Didn't you hear what curiosity did to the cat?"

"In vivid detail," she shot back, "But I've only used up seven of my nine lives so... I can afford it."

They fell into silence then, Dean searching for something to tell her. Anything. Until Cordelia spoke again. "I remembered something, about my vision. And since Sam's gone with Gunn to grab some food, I get to talk to you about it."

"What was it?" Dean asked. She'd said her visions were different to Sam's - he hadn't asked how. It just seemed too personal, like the only person she'd ever share that with would be Sam because maybe he knew what she was going through.

"A demon," said Cordelia softly, "Yellow eyes. Old. Wesley's looking it up..."

Dean swallowed reflexively and avoided Cordelia's gaze, "So why are you talking to me about it?"

Cordelia chose her words carefully, not wanting to push him any further inside that damn shell he was wearing, "Because I think it's connected to you, Dean. Or Sam, maybe... I don't know how but it is."

He sighed. He wasn't sure what Cordelia expected here - he'd never been sure of that the entire time he'd been around her - he only knew that whatever it was, he couldn't give. "Sam told you about our Dad." It wasn't a question. Dean knew it would have come up.

Cordelia nodded, "He was airing on the side of vague, but yeah. He was the reason you got into this fight."

"Not him," Dean shook his head, "Our Mom. That demon you saw in your vision was the thing that killed her. The thing that killed Sam's girlfriend."

The look of surprise on her face tore at him. He'd seen that look once before and had never wanted to see it again, the only difference this time was that there wasn't a stake sticking out of her stomach.

"So it's kind of a vengeance deal," said Cordelia carefully, missing the uncomfortable look on Dean's face, "I get that."

Dean thought about that for a moment, shook his head. He wished it were as simple as that, but things had stopped being so simple a while ago. "The demon... It's connected to Sam. Whenever he has a vision it means the demon's involved somehow and with you getting the same vision..."

"You think it's here? In LA?"

He didn't answer. He honestly wasn't sure what to say. A few moments of silence passed between them until the sound of Sam and Gunn returning with food filtered through to the courtyard. Cordelia placed her hand over his, squeezed just once, and then stood. "I'm starving. And I don't think well on an empty stomach. You coming, Dean?"

He looked at her, smiled a little, and then got up to follow her inside.


******


They talked a lot more over the next couple of days. Sam - geek boy to the core - spent a hell of a lot of his time with Wesley, pouring over texts and manuscripts and other things that bored the hell out of Dean.

He spent his time with Cordelia. She was easy to be around, he'd learned, when her defences weren't completely up and she'd pulled a little of your own down too. He'd never admit that to her, of course, but all the same...

It helped that she was gorgeous and had an amazing rack.

He found himself watching her while she worked, tapping at something on her keyboard. Found himself thinking Sam usually goes for the smart chicks until she looked up and dazzled him with a smile that wouldn't have been unwelcome on a movie screen. Cordelia wasn't just a smart chick.

Cordelia wasn't 'just' anything. She continued to catch him off guard, something that both unsettled Dean and made him like her more, and he realized just how much that was on the day he first saw her have a vision.

The visions were never easy to watch - Dean knew as much with Sam. He always felt so helpless, crouched beside his brother while pictures flashed inside his head and Dean couldn't do anything... But watching Cordelia, made something hot and sharp rattle round inside his chest and he wondered if Sam would get like this after two years. If Sam would be the one spasming while pulled flush against his body and then he felt guilty that he wasn't focussed more on Cordelia because he was the only one around, damnit, and there wasn't anyone else there to help her.

They'd gone for coffee. They'd been trying to research the demon to no avail for the week since they'd got to LA and now Dean was both cranky and lumbered with a crick in his neck. It was Cordelia who'd suggested the coffee break. She was getting cranky too, she told them, and there was 'only so much of these musty old books a girl can take'.

Dean was with Cordelia in every sense of the word when she stood up. He stood too, ignored the glare he got shot from Angel, and grabbed his jacket from the chair, falling into step beside her as they headed out of the Hyperion.

It was balmy outside, felt kind of like rain was approaching - the kind of hot, sticky summer shower that didn't actually cool the place down, just made things wet.

Dean frowned. He hated the rain, especially if there was a fight involved. Just made things messy.

"And what's with you?" She asked, trying to keep the hint of amusement out of her voice.

"What?"

"Frowning," said Cordelia, with a grin, "My company not good enough for you, Dean?"

"It's good enough," he drawled, then deflated when he remembered that shit didn't actually work on Cordelia. "Looks like rain."

She nodded, gaze turning up to the stars, and Dean couldn't help but stare. Plump lips, dusted with a hint of colour, hazel eyes... And he was not lying in the slightest about the amazing rack. The girl was definitely his type and it perturbed him greatly to know he'd been around her for a week and hadn't been able to make good on his advances.

Maybe he was losing his touch.

It was with that thought, that Dean stepped a little closer. In the end he was thankful he did because they were six blocks away from the Hyperion, most of the cars that vacated the city were nowhere to be found, and when Cordelia shrieked like she did, Dean was put immediately on alert.

He only just managed to catch her in time. Only just managed to lower her spasming body against the ground, keeping a gentle hold on her head as he cradled it in his lap.

She whimpered in his arms when it was done and turned, burying her head against him. Her entire body was as taut as a livewire and this Cordelia was a world away from the one Dean knew already.

She let him help her to her feet, tried to avoid his gaze. His phone hadn't rang and Dean could only assume that Sam hadn't had the same vision, that he hadn't seen what she had. "What was it?" He asked, itching to reach into his pocket and call to see if his brother was okay. He felt guilty about that and he didn't know why.

"A demon, I think," she murmured, her voice a ghostly whisper of what it had been earlier, "I-I couldn't see it. I just felt it. It killed her, Dean."

Dean's pissed. He's pissed that Cordelia sees it and that it hurts her so much. He's pissed that he doesn't know if this is what Sam's going to be like in a year because the pain is etched on her face and he knows the damn visions are different but if the outcome's the same-- "We need to go back to the hotel, I don't have any weapons," he tells her and starts leading her back there with one hand on her elbow as she tells him what she saw in her vision.

She gets into the hotel and immediately goes to the bathroom, Dean's gaze following her as Angel and the others come out of Wesley's office. He explains quickly what she saw and leads Sam off to one side, asking him if he's had a vision.

Sam answers in the negative, somewhat surprised at the look of concern on his brother's face, and peers at him more carefully. "She's not okay, is she?"

Dean shakes his head, gripping one of the weapons he'd left in the hotel 'just in case' as Angel is fishing his broadsword from the weapons cabinet. "It's a deiva," he tells Angel, and he's honestly not sure how this is going to work because they have to find out who the hell is controlling the damn things first. He'd put his money on Meg but since they shoved her out of a seven-storey window not three weeks ago, he's guessing not.

"You think it's something to do with the demon?" Sam asks sharply and it's probably kind of weird to other people that they're both on the same page so quickly. To Dean, it just proves that they're good at what they do and they've been doing it for a long time.

"I don't know," he frowns, because if this is some kind of trap - some other kind of trap - there's no way he's bringing their Dad into it, "Maybe it's unrelated. You didn't get a vision about it. And maybe--"

His sentence halts as Cordelia hand-walks her way out of the bathroom, her skin pale. She looks kind of like she's thrown up but when she walks past Dean, all he can smell is her perfume, so he guesses not. "Are you--"

"Do not ask me if I'm okay," she snaps. She gets enough of that from her friends and she honestly can't stand it from him too. "You guys better hurry."


******


The guy controlling the deiva's is a jackass who Dean wants to toss out of a seven-storey window on principle because no idiot should be messing around with magicks like that. As it is, they settle for destroying his altar and setting fire to his apartment and when Wesley utters a spell that Sam makes a mental note to take from him, the demon inside him bursts out his mouth in an air of furore, and the guy's body slumps to the floor.

He can barely talk while they're asking him questions, only manages a series of nods and shakes of his head that makes Dean pissed off. He's irrational when he's worried and right now? Dean's worried.

Angel explains the cleaning thing on their way back to the cars, when the guy is safe in the ambulance and on his way to forget. When they get back to the Hyperion - Angel, Gunn and Wes in the Plymouth (and even if Dean doesn't like the guy, at least his car is pretty decent), Sam and Dean in the Impala - Cordelia will have cleaned. She'll have cleaned so much that the smell of disinfectant will probably knock them sick but that's okay 'cause it's what Cordelia does post-vision.

Dean looks at Sam at that. He doesn't have much of a routine post-vision and he wonders if that's what having them for almost two years does to you.

When they get back, sure enough, Cordelia's cleaned. She's sitting on the round sofa in the Hyperion and flicking aimlessly through a magazine, looking mighty uncomfortable. "Is it done?" She asks as they come in, the hitch in her voice evident when she speaks. When Dean nods, she breathes out a sigh and he can literally see the weight lift off her shoulders.

She nods, stands up, and pulls her hair into a tie that sees loose strands fall at the nape of her neck. "I'm going home."

"I'll drive you," says Dean, thinking for one moment that she'll refuse. Cordelia doesn't, however, just nods her head and walks outside with him.

"Thanks," she says after a beat, when the classic rock in his car has petered out into REO freakin' Speedwagon and is he seriously kidding with the 'gonna keep on lovin' you' crap? She thought he was at least marginally cool.

"For what?"

She's honestly not sure to be honest. Could be the fact that he saved her from losing yet another outfit on a gravelly surface, or the fact that he took out that demon. Could be anything. So Cordelia just shrugs.

When he meets Phantom Dennis, Dean is really freaked out. "You live with a ghost?"

It makes her smile a little, "Yeah. Not until we'd got past the real uncomfortable situation of his Mom terrorizing me for a week when I first moved in but--Yeah. Dean, this is Phantom Dennis. Phantom Dennis? This is Dean."

He feels like a schmuck nodding towards a ghost, but he does it anyway, following Cordelia into the kitchen as she flicks on her kettle to make them the coffee that they missed.

"Are they always like that?" He asks from behind her. He can't tell if she flinches or if she's even heard and it's not until she opens her mouth to speak, that he knows she has.

"Sometimes they're different," she says quietly, keeping her back to him, "But they all hurt. I don't just see it. I feel it. What it's like when the big freaky whatever is ripping into them or... Or how scared they are when they're backed into a corner and there's no-one there to help them."

She pauses and Dean goes to speak but he's not honestly sure what he can say to that, so he just keeps quiet. "It's worse when we don't save them."

He wants to ask her how, wants to know everything about the visions, about how much they hurt - as much for Sam as he does Cordelia - but that sunshine smile is back on her face and even though it's a little tired, it's enough to tell him this conversation is over. "Y'know, you can tell a lot about a guy from the way he takes his coffee..." She tells him, and Dean knows how good an actress she is - despite what she says - because it's like she doesn't even know what the visions are, never mind just had one, and the only way Dean knows she did is by the dark circles that still hang around under her eyes.


******


The trail for the demon has grown stale again and that frustrates the hell out of both Sam and Dean. They've been in LA two weeks now and there've been no more visions on Sam's side. Three and counting on Cordelia's, and even if Angel won't admit it, the added help in the demon fighting capacity is somewhat welcome.

More often than not these past two weeks they've won. One time they didn't and Dean could swear that Cordelia had been crying when she walked in the next morning, her lips painted red this time. She always overcompensates with the make up on the day after a vision and she still manages to look fantastic.

It's 11am on a Tuesday and Cordelia's bitching Angel out for touching her filing system because 'Mrs. Stone clearly goes under 'F' because of the Freak Factor - Geez!' when Dean gets the text.

Co-ordinates.

He and Sam share a look and for the first time in ever, Dean has a place that he doesn't want to leave.

"Co-ordinates?" Cordelia echoes, looking over his shoulder, "For what?"

He sort of explains about the deal with their Dad - how he sends them co-ordinates for places they should go - and Cordelia makes a face, "Can't he just call or something?"

Dean smiles a little at that, but he knows she's right and he knows Sam agrees with her and he's not sure whether that should irritate him to fuck or make him happy because maybe somebody knows him. They haven't spoken with Dad since those deiva's back in Chicago and though their reunion was welcome, it was also bittersweet because Dean had to make him leave.

He sighs a little and glances at Cordelia, "I guess that'd be our cue to go."

"I guess so," she nods, and goes back to sorting out her files.

He wonders if she'll miss him when he's watching her later. He also wonders why he cares so much, when he's throwing a couple of books that Wesley said they could take into his holdall.

Angel doesn't say much when they're about to leave but he shakes Dean's hand nonetheless and he thinks they've come to some kind of stalemate - they don't hate each other, but they're not about to be best friends either.

The closest Dean's got to Cordelia in two weeks - and he wanted to get a whole lot closer but didn't - is when she's hugging him goodbye and he swears her scent is going to linger with him for weeks. He's only ever loved one girl before and the way that ended...

Cordelia, too, is a realist. She hugs them both - more because they're both hotties and both her friends now and she kind of likes that she has someone to talk to about the visions. Mostly Sam, but Dean too. And when she steps back, she tells them that they both better call and check in every so often, just so she knows that Dean hasn't staked someone else by accident.

He laughs at that and Cordelia thinks that he's a lot like Angel - that the times he does laugh and it's genuine and not a come on, he's really kind of beautiful. She imagines what it would be like to kiss him. She knows she shouldn't - hello, realist - but the curve of his mouth is too pretty and it's hard not to wonder.

Cordelia is definitely a realist, she thinks, once she's said goodbye just like the rest of them and when the hotel doors close and Dean and Sam are on the way to their car. A realist with an ironic sense of martyrdom that she didn't realise she had until two minutes ago. She can hear her heart beating loudly in her chest and she turns, sprinting up the stairs of the Hyperion and out the door--To find Dean at the bottom of the outside set, foot at the ready to head back up them.

"Hey," she says.

She doesn't get the next sentence out.

Dean kisses her because he wants to.

Cordelia kisses him back because she wants it more.

It's not perfect--Well, the kiss is perfect. All kinds of perfect, because it's clear they've both done this before and it's clear that one side hasn't forgotten in it's, well, abstinence.

But Dean is leaving and the part of Cordelia that's scared of what comes after the kissing is really kind of glad.

She knows how sad that is. She's really never got over her brush with demon impregnation and she thinks some day, maybe in the future before she dies from the fucking visions, she might get over that. And maybe Dean will be the one to help her. She presses herself against him, burying her hands in the leather of his coat as they kiss and when they pull back, Cordelia's eyes are locked on his.

"Come back and see me, okay?"

It's not going to be tomorrow. They both know that. It could be weeks from now - years even. And if Cordelia's still around, she'll probably wait for him too. "Say goodbye to Sam for me?"

Dean just looks mock-horrified, "Like that? Sorry sweetheart, I don't swing that way..."

Cordelia laughs and kisses him again. "Definitely not like that. Now go. And be careful. And don't forget to call."

She watches him go this time, the look on her face a little sad. He turns back to wave once and Cordelia realises she's going to miss him. And that she has another scar, another reminder of something, but this time? It's something she doesn't exactly want to forget and that's okay.

She heads back into the hotel once the Impala is a blip on the horizon and smiles at Angel as she notices him putting Mrs. Stone's file back under F. "Thanks, Angel," she tells him softly.

Angel just nods.



Fin

The End

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