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Pretend

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Summary: Also crosses with 'The Pretender'. Sequel to Convergence.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Angel-Centered > Pairing: OtherKylieFR1316,965011,0417 Dec 037 Dec 03Yes
Pretend


© Kylie




Rating: PG


Disclaimer


I don't own these characters. BtVS and Angel belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy [ahh...grrrr]. Highlander: the Series belongs to Rysher and Highlander belongs to ...well whoever it belongs to. It sure as hell aint me.




Author's Notes:


Sequel to Convergence. This is a Pretender/Angel xover. Ok. For those who haven't read Convergence, Angel and Cordelia are an item. His soul is permanent, and she is a Highlander style immortal. Wesley is her watcher, and Kate has had a major wake-up call delivered by none other than Queen C, and is now friends with the gang.




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Cordelia fumbled with the extra large jar of painkillers, trying to fish out the little piece of cotton wool that the makers insisted on putting in each jar. She had just had another vision. One that gave her the creeps. This time it wasn't about a demon, or an ugly grey blobby thing, or a slimy eww thing. This time it was about humans.


She had seen Lawerboy, and a guy that sounded suspiciously like Darth Vader. Both human. Well, semi-human. It all depended on your definition of the word. And she had seen their next helpless person. Who happened to be a hottie. Not as hot as Angel, but definitely smoking. (Hey, she was taken, not blind.) Dark hair, dark eyes, tall, well built, and a look about him that was slightly menacing.


Giving up on the painkillers, not that they ever did much anyway, she picked up the phone and dialed Angel's cell. He and Wesley were out trying to find the stuff for a spell they needed to perform for their current paying client. Mrs. Mannicadi wanted to exorcise the ghost of her pet snake. She had said something about Adam and Eve and apples, which Cordelia hadn't quite caught.


"Blast!" She slammed down the phone when she got the 'the-number-you-are-calling-is-not-turned-on-or-is-out-of-the-service-area' message. What was the good of Angel having the damn thing if he wasn't going to turn it on? Oh well she would have to do this herself. Writing a quick message to Angel and Wesley to let them know where she had gone, and to tell them to TURN ON HIS PHONE, she grabbed her coat, checked to make sure that the sword Angel had given her was still safely hooked inside and dashed out of the office.


************


She rounded the corner and stopped suddenly. She quickly stepped back around the corner so that she couldn't be seen, and peered at the scene in front of her.


The man from her vision was running, chased by a black man in a suit, carrying a gun. And a woman in heels, also carrying a gun. Ohhh, not good.


"Jarod!" The woman called out and aimed her gun at him. The man didn't pause for a second. Just changed direction and started running toward the corner Cordelia was hiding behind.


This was definitely not good. At the rate they were moving, they would discover her in about twenty seconds. She looked around desperately, trying to find somewhere else to hide. There! There was an open doorway about 5 meters from where she stood. Quickly she ducked inside, waited for the man to round the corner, grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the building and closing and locking the door behind him.


"What the...? Who are you?!" The man demanded, jerking out of her grasp.


"I'm here to help you." Cordelia briefly explained. "And we better get a move on, I don't think that that little trick is going to fool them for long." She began walking through the building - which turned out to be Clarence's converted warehouse. (She was going to have to have a talk to him about leaving his doors open when he wasn't home) - and out into the alleyway.


Slowly the man followed. "Why are you doing this? Why should I trust you?"


"It's what we do, and would you rather take your chances with the MIB's who were chasing you?" She turned to face him, hands on hips.


"MIB's?" He asked puzzled.


"Men in Black." She told him as she began lifting the man hole cover. Silently she sent up a prayer of thanks to Angel, wherever he might be at the moment, for making her memorize some of the tunnels he used.


"Why are we going into the sewer?" He asked as he bent down to help her.


"Would they think to look down there?" She asked.


Mischief lit up his eyes. Suddenly he didn't look threatening anymore. "Oh man, I can just imagine Parker navigating the sewer looking for me." He grinned, and started climbing down the metal ladder. Following him Cordelia placed the man hole cover back into place.


***********


"Damn it! Where did he go?!" Miss Parker yelled in frustration.


"I don't know Miss Parker. Maybe there was a door open and he's in one of the buildings?"


"Well, check them!"


"Yes ma'am."


***********


Jarod silently followed the young woman in front of him. She seemed to know exactly where she was going, which was good, because he didn't have a clue where they were, other than that they were somewhere in LA.


This had been a strange pretend from the start. While doing a pretend as a psychologist in New York a few months ago, he had heard of a case of a woman in LA who had been admitted in the neuropsychiatry ward at St Matthews. Apparently she had been having a psychotic episode, although the cause could not be found. All the tests, including the tox screen had come back negative. It had taken quite a while to find a tranquilizer that would work, but they had found one, and sedated her. She had remained in a catatonic state for about a day and a half, before suddenly just snapping out of it. No explanation had ever been found. That in itself had been interesting, but it hadn't prompted him to start a pretend. Not until he had heard from a friend at St Matthews that the same girl, Cordelia Chase, had been admitted a month ago, suffering from massive blood loss, a punctured lung, a punctured heart and several broken ribs, resulting from a sword through her chest. She had died and had been moved to the morgue, where her body promptly vanished. That had intrigued him enough to start a pretend here as a doctor at St Matthew's. What had happened to her? How had she ended up with a sword, of all things, skewered through her chest? What had happened to the body? What had caused that first episode? The details the hospital had were practically non-existent. Was she abused by her boyfriend? Everyone he had spoken to agreed that the man who had been with her was her 'significant other'. The nurses, however, had flat out told him that it wasn't the boyfriend that was the problem. 'I wish someone would look at me like that' Candace, the nurse on the neuropychiatric ward had told him wistfully.


There were other things that worried him about this girl. During Cordelia's first admission, the staff had run the full gamut of tests, including a DNA test. For what reason, Jarod couldn't figure, but when he had seen the results, his blood had frozen in his veins. Cordelia carried the Pretender gene. She wasn't a Pretender herself, but if that information had gotten back to the Centre.... He had checked the Centre's computers, looking for some indication that they had had something to do with the disappearance of her body, and had come up empty. The Centre hadn't however. They had installed some new security measures that he had tripped. That had led them straight to him. He hadn't got Angelo's warning until it was too late, and he had practically walked right into Miss Parker.


So now here he was, trudging through LA's sewer system, having been saved by a young woman who looked no older than 21.


"Okay. Now we climb." Cordelia told him, pointing to the access hatch above them. "After you."


"Are you sure about this?" Jarod asked as he began climbing the ladder.


"Positive. Don't worry. I know the people who live there." She told him as she followed behind him.


After climbing through the hatch, Jarod found himself in a laundry. He looked questioningly at the woman who was closing the access door behind her. Someone had sewer access from his apartment?


Cordelia walked out of the laundry, into the living area, leaving Jarod to follow. "I work upstairs." She paused at one living room wall, withdrew her sword from under her coat, and hung it back on it's hooks. Jarod was stunned. She had been carrying that?! How had she kept it hidden?


"'Delia? Why did you use the tunnels? Are you alright?" A worried voice came from above them. Jarod looked up, to see a shadow blocking the door at the top of the stairs.


"I'm fine. You however are in big trouble." Cordelia placed her hands on her hips.


"Why? What happened?" The man descended the stairs.


"Cell phone. There's a little button you press to turn it on. I believe it's called the on switch."


Jarod watched as the man approaching flushed slightly, and looked embarrassed. "I...forgot about it. You know how much I hate those things." Angel kissed Cordelia lightly.


"Well, get over it. How am I supposed to find you if there's trouble?"


"Well....uh.....bat signal?" He tried. Cordelia rolled her eyes at him. "Who's this?" Angel asked, gesturing to Jarod.


"This is...uh...oh. Um I forgot to ask your name."


"Jarod."


"This is Jarod. The latest subject of those wonderful, skull splitting, mind numbing, scratch and sniff, visions. And since you didn't have your cell phone turned on, I couldn't tell you about it, so I had to go and find him, and by the way, we really have to have a talk to Clarence about leaving his doors open."


Jarod was amazed. He hadn't thought that anyone could actually talk in sentences that long.


Angel just looked amused. "Fine, we'll talk to Clarence. So why did you use the tunnels? Why not just use the front door like everyone else?"


"MIB's were chasing him, we went into the tunnels to avoid them. You can say I told you so now."


"MIB's were chasing him? People were chasing you? Why?" Angel looked slightly alarmed at the thought of people chasing Cordelia.


"I would not have a clue." Cordelia shrugged and looked at Jarod.


"Ex-employers who won't take no for an answer." Jarod shrugged. "Thanks for the rescue, but I really should be going."


Cordelia just looked at him, an amused expression on her face. "Why? So they can chase you again?"


"Don't worry. I've been dodging them for some time now. I can take care of myself."


"Most of the time." Cordelia added.


"Yeah. Most of the time." Jarod agreed, embarrassed.


Cordelia and Angel shared a look. He shrugged. She sighed. "Ok. We'll show you the front door. Unless you want to try your luck in the tunnels?"


"Front door."


"This way." Cordelia and Angel began climbing the stairs, Jarod following behind. "So, did you and Wesley get the stuff for Mrs. Mannicadi's pet exorcism?" She asked Angel conversationally.


"Yes. She was happy not to have to worry about Herbert anymore."


"Herbert?"


"The snake."


"Oh. Did she pay you?"


"Cordelia. Where were you? We tried to call, but got that infernal recorded message." Wesley asked relieved, as they came through the door. Jarod's head snapped up. Cordelia? Her name was Cordelia?


"Vision." She told Wesley briefly. "This is Jarod. He's leaving now. And we were in the tunnels. No signal." The phone rang, and she walked over to her desk to answer it. "Angel Investigations, we help the helpless."


"Are you alright Mr..uh Jarod?" Wesley asked politely.


Jarod started. His mind had been elsewhere. "What? Oh. Yes thank you." He pulled a business card out of his pocket. "If there's anything I can do for you... Give me a call." He nodded goodbye to Cordelia, who waved as he passed, and left.


"Dr Jarod Russell. St Matthew's Hospital." Wesley read. He looked up at Angel shocked. "Oh my. I do hope that he didn't recognize Cordelia."


**************


Part 2


**************


Jarod sat back in his chair and rubbed his hands over his face. Tonight he had done what he should have done a few days ago. He had looked up Cordelia Chase.


What he had found wasn't very remarkable. She was an average student, doing well in school, but not so well as to attract any unwanted intrest. The daughter of formerly affluent parents, who were now bankrupt after having cheated on their taxes, she moved from Sunnydale to LA after graduation, and now worked at Angel Investigations, a private investigation firm that took...unusual cases. That would seem to mean that the Cordelia who had saved his hide tonight was the same girl who had died in the emergency room of St Matthew's a month ago. It would certainly explain where her body was now. She was still using it. But how? He had seen her file. There was no way she could have survived the injuries she had sustained. Maybe it was a different Cordelia? It would be nice if he could find a photograph. And what was this stuff about a vision? Was she a psychic? And why did she carry a sword?


Leaning forward over his laptop he began a search on the strange symbol he had seen tattooed to the other man's...Wesley's?... wrist. Half an hour later he sank back into his chair stunned.


Immortals. There were such things as immortals. And Cordelia was one. Well that certainly explained how she had recovered from the injuries. And why she carried the sword. He shook his head in amazement. The information he had found was certainly an eye opener. So was the information he hadn't found.


There was nothing on Angel at all. A few mentions in a couple of police reports, his offices had been blown up a few months ago. On the same day that Cordelia had first been admitted to St Matthews. That was interesting. Wesely Wyndam-Price, an Englishman and Watcher, who had moved to Sunnydale about a year and a half ago, another connection to Cordelia, and then dropped off the radar for a few months just over a year ago, reappearing just over six months ago, here in LA working for AI. There were a lot of holes here.


Who were these people?


****************


Det. Kate Lockley looked at the man standing on the other side of her desk. He was a hunk, single if the absence of a wedding ring was any indication, and a doctor. Cordelia would probably tell her that this was a 'catch worth going after, don't let him get away!'. Kate groaned slightly. She needed to get a life. Badly. And she had obviously been spending too much time with Cordelia. The two had become friends after last months little...uh....battle. Which still gave her the wigguns when she thought about it.


"Detective Lockey?"


"Why do you want to know about Angel?"


"Just covering all our bases. We tend to take missing corpses seriously at St Matthews." Jarod told her smoothly. Her gaze sharpened and became more guarded. She knew something.


"Missing corpses?" Oh god. He didn't mean Cordelia, did he?


"Cordelia Chase." Yep. He meant Cordelia. "Angel is given as her emergency contact. No last name, an address of an burned out building and a phone number that's no longer connected. We just want to talk to him. See if he knows anything."


"Shouldn't you leave that to the police?"


"Probably. But we also want to make sure he is ok. If he is going to need a grief counselor, or any help. I understand from the nurses that he and Cordelia were close."


That was an understatement. They were practically joined at the hip. She looked carefully at the man opposite her. He seemed to be telling the truth. What could she tell him that would keep him from looking any further?


"We've been keeping an eye on Angel. He's a friend. He's doing well, all things considered." Things he wouldn't believe. She still had trouble believing them. "As for not being able to contact him. His office and apartment were gutted by fire about three months ago. The address and telephone number you have are from there."


"Do you have current contact details for him?"


"Yes. But I won't release them to anybody without his permission."


"You know both Angel and Cordelia?"


Kate nodded.


"What's your opinion? Would he have had something to do with her injuries? Or her dissapearance?"


"No. Absolutely not. He had nothing to do with the injuries that killed her. I was there. It was a freak accident. A couple of people were sparring, one lost his grip as he swung." This was the story they had come up with to explain the incident to the police. Kate's eyes darkened at the memory of what had really happened. "The next thing we knew, Cordelia had a sword in her chest."


"What about the disappearance of the corpse?"


"I can say with absolute certainty that Angel did not steal Cordelia's corpse." Cordelia had gotten up and walked out. Well, been carried out. But she had been conscious.


"Well, thank you Det. Um, you don't happen to have a last name for Angel, do you?"With practiced ease he attached a small device to the cord of the phone on her desk.


"No. He doesn't have one."


"He doesn't have one? The only people who have only one name are model's, rock stars and popes." And him. Well, he had one, but he didn't know what it was.


"You got him. He's the pope." Kate smiled as she remembered Angel's reaction when she had said the same thing.


Jarod raised his eyebrows. "Oookaaay. It was nice meeting you detective."


"Likewise. Let me know if you need anything else." She watched as he walked away. As soon as he was out of earshot she picked up the phone.


************


"Angel Investigations, we help the helpless."


"Cordelia? You might want to sit down for this."


"Kate? What's up?"


"I've just had a doctor here, investigating your dissapearence from the morgue."


"Oh god."


"Yeah. That's what I thought too."


"What did you tell him?"


"Just that the injuries were an accident, like we came up with, and that there was no way that Angel had stolen your corpse."


"He thought that Angel had stolen my corpse?"


"Yep. He also seemed to think that Angel might have caused the injuries."


"What?! Angel would never...."


"Relax. I told him that. I think he bought it, but you might want to keep your eyes open."


"Thanks. Oh while I've got you on the line, do you know anything about a couple of people running around with guns? People who aren't police I mean?"


"I haven't heard anything, why?"


"Vision last night. Rescued this guy. He was being chased by two MIB's. One black, about six foot tall, the other a woman, about the same height, brunette, killer heels. One of them is named Parker. I don't know which one."


"Doesn't ring any bells. I could check with the FBI, but I doubt they'd tell me anything."


"No. These weren't FBI. If they were I wouldn't have got a vision."


"Good point. And speaking of visions, you haven't seen anything that I have to cover for tonight? No ugly slimy demons that I have to beat the patrol cars to the scene for?"


"The only ugly thing I've seen in the last day or so was the guy in last nights visions. Sounded like Darth Vader. Wasn't pretty."


"Sounded like Darth Vader? Was he hauling around an oxygen tank?"


"Yeah, how did you know?"


"Amanda sent me a little package...."


"You got one too? I can't believe she actually got into Wolfram & Hart's vault without being caught."


"She got into the vault? I didn't know that. I'm going to have to have a talk to her. I got a pack of photo's. Apparently she managed to plant a few micro cameras around the office. There's a couple of a bald man, toting an oxygen tank, meeting with Lindsey. Amanda wrote on the back that he sounded like Darth Vader."


"Lawyer boy again?! When are they going to give up? I don't suppose she wrote anything about what they were meeting about?"


"No."


"If they're trying to kill Angel again, I'll cut off more than his hand."


"Cordelia, we really have to talk about your anger management."


"Hey,I manage my anger just fine, thank you very much."


"I know. I know. Nobody is allowed to kill Angel, but you."


"That's right. And that'll only be if he turns grr again. Which thankfully isn't a problem anymore."


"Does he know what you have planned?"


"Are you kidding? He's the one who made me promise to stake him!"


"I can just see it now."


"Or unless he starts remembering to turn on his cell phone."


"He still afraid of those things?"


"I don't think it's going to be a problem anymore. When he couldn't contact me last night he went a little crazy."


"Taste of his own medicine, huh?"


"Something like that. So what's the name of this doctor we should be on the lookout for?"


"Dr Jarod Russell."


"What?! That's the guy I saved last night! The one who was being chased!"


"Are you sure?"


"Yes! I've got his business card in front of me. Dr period Jarod Russell. St Matthew's Hospital."


"Oh shit."


"Ditto. Can you see if you can find out anything about Dr. Russell and the people who were chasing him? I'll call Amanda and see if she knows anything else about Mr. Darth-Vader-sound-alike."


"I gotta admire the way you name people Cordelia."


"Thanks."


"You're welcome. I'll see what I can come up with. Let me know if Amanda knows anything."


"Will do. I'll call you later."


"Ok. Bye."


"Bye."


**************


Jarod took the earpiece out of his ear and stared into the distance in shock. How could they know about Raines? Who was Wolfram & Hart? Who was Amanda? Other than a thief? A thief! Amanda! He knew that name! Quickly he fired up his laptop and accessed the Watcher's database. There she was. Amanda Darieux. Formerly a professional thief. Apparently not so formerly.


He ran a search on Wolfram & Hart. LA law firm. Quite prestigious. He hacked back into the Centre mainframe, this time being more careful, and ran a search on Wolfram & Hart.


Bonanza! After decrypting the files he began reading. Wolfram & Hart were the law firm that the Centre used when their own legal people were otherwise occupied, or the case had aspects that were shady, even by the Centre's standards.


My god, could even half of this stuff be true? Vampires, demons, prophecies? What was it that Cordelia had said on the phone? That Angel had made her promise to stake him if he ever turned...uh.. grr? Angel thought he was a vampire? Kate Lockley hadn't seemed surprised. She had even mentioned demons. And she believed that Cordelia had visions. And knew that Cordelia was alive and not dead and missing. She had lied to the police about what had happened. Why? Ok so maybe stating that her friend had revived, gotten up and walked out of the morgue would have gotten her locked up in the nut house. He needed to talk to someone. Needed to sort out the thoughts racing through his mind.


*Ring Ring*


"This is Sydney."


"Sydney, do you believe in demons?"


"Jarod. Do I believe in demons? Well in the sense that people have personal demons? Yes."


"No. I mean real demons. Vampires, things like that."


"Vampires and demons are nothing but myths, Jarod."


"Maybe you should tell Raines that. He would seem to believe otherwise."


*Beeep Beeep Beeep* Jarod disconnected the call.


"Oh god!" Suddenly a thought struck him. Kate and Cordelia were about to go digging for information. On Raines. On him. On Parker and Willie. On - and this was the one that really gave him the chills- the Centre. "What have I gotten them into?"


*************


Part 3


*************


"Kate? It's Cordelia. Amanda did hear some stuff, but it didn't make any sense to her. Something about using other methods to find Gemini?"


"What has a zodiac sign got to do with anything?"


"That's what I want to know. What did you find on Jarod and the people chasing him?"


"On Jarod? Not much. He's clean. Not even a parking ticket. He transferred to St Matthews last week from New York. His pursuers? I talked to a friend at the FBI. They haven't got anyone working a case like that in LA at the moment. I gave him your descriptions, he told me that the woman sounds like an old friend, Miss Parker. No first name apparently. She works security for some firm in Delaware. The Centre, Blue Cove."


"So what are they doing in LA? Chasing after a doctor?"


"I don't know. That's all I got. Came up blank on the other guy."


"Oh. Well thanks."


"No problem. So what do we do now?"


"Try and find out what all of this has to do with Jarod. He said something the last night about them being former employers. Maybe he has something they're after?"


"The Centre doesn't show up in his history. Med school, New York, then St Matthews. No hospital or anything else in Delaware."


"Why would he lie?"


"Most obvious reason is that he's hiding something. Be careful Cordelia. This whole thing doesn't feel right."


"And after dealing with demons and vampires, what does?"


"Good point."


"Jarod said that he'd been dodging these people for a while. That means that this started in New York, right?"


"Probably."


"So why did I get visions of Mr Vader, and Lawyer boy? It doesn't make any sense. Maybe..Auggh!"


"Cordelia!? Cordelia?!"


"Kate? It's Angel. I'll get Cordelia to call you back in a few minutes."


"Vision?"


"Vision."


**************


"Kate? Can you meet us at 3546 Green St? Or more precisely, under it?"


"Of course. Are you ok? What did you see?"


"I think I know what Gemini is. It's a person. Mr Vader has used Wolfram & Hart to hire a demon to find him."


"Oh no."


"Angel's on his way there now. I've got to go and pick up Wesley."


"Where is he?"


"Library, he was trying to translate a part of the scroll, we didn't have the books he needed."


"It'll be quicker if I pick him up on the way."


"Thanks. Oh and Kate?"


"Yes?"


"Make sure you bring your gun."


**************


Jarod threw the earpiece across the room, grabbed his coat, and checked that his gun was loaded. Then he ran out of the room, toppling the chair he'd been sitting in.


**************


Angel made his way through the tunnels to the address that Cordelia had seen in her vision. If what Cordelia had seen was accurate, and it always was, this was not going to be pretty. The man she had named Mr. Vader had used a Loreki demon to locate the boy named Gemini. Loreki demons were excellent trackers, adept at blending into their surroundings, they had a very acute olfactory sense, and were extremely intelligent. They were adequate fighters, usually on par with humans who had a basic level of self-defense training. He wasn't particularly worried about the demon. The humans however, were a different matter. Armed humans. He knew damned well that bullets couldn't kill him, but they did hurt. A lot. And the concussion tended to throw him around a bit.


He rounded the corner of the tunnel and stopped. In front of him, facing the other direction, stood the Loreki demon, at his feet an unconscious older man and beside the unconscious form a boy, looking no older than 17, sat, hands and feet bound with rope, a gag in his mouth. His eyes lit up as he saw Angel. Angel motioned for him to stay silent, and silently made his way over to the boy. He had managed to untie the ropes around his feet, when a commotion coming from further down the tunnel caught his attention. Oh god. They were here already. Angel frantically began untying the ropes that bound the boy's hands.


"Hey! What are we paying you for?!" The Loreki demon turned to where the outraged man was pointing. Someone was trying to free his merchandise! Growling low in his throat, he began to attack the stranger. He grunted as the stranger's fist connected with his stomach. Bloody hell this guy was strong!


JJ, or Gemini as the people at the Centre insisted on calling him, recognized the opportunity to bolt, and managed to struggle to his feet, only to hear the clicking sound of a gun being cocked in his direction. He froze. Oh god he was going to die.


***************


"Do I want to know why you're here?" Cordelia demanded as she entered the building.


"I'm here to help." Jarod told her. "Wasn't entirely sure what you meant by 'under it' though."


"Tapping our phones? My you are full of surprises."


"I try."


"So you want to help?" Jarod nodded. "Good. Stay out of it. Stay here, make sure nothing comes out."


"I'm coming with you."


"No."


"Yes." There was steel in his voice. Cordelia studied him for a moment. Now he looked extremely menacing.


"Why?"


"He's my family."


"What?!"


"Gemini. He's my ...brother. Sort of."


Cordelia sighed. "Fine. Do you have a weapon?" Jarod showed her his semi-automatic. "Do you know how to use it?"


"Of course. I used to be a cop."


"What!?"


"I'll explain later."


"You better." Cordelia bent down to remove the man hole cover. "This is what I meant by 'under it'."


Jarod and Cordelia entered the tunnels. Once again Cordelia took the lead. Suddenly she stopped.


"Willie." Jarod identified.


"You know him?"


"We've met."


"I don't suppose he'd just walk away?"


"No."


"Didn't think so." Putting to use one of the skills she had picked up from Angel, (hey, she lived with a professional skulker, she had learned a few things) she silently crept up behind the tall black man, removed her sword from her coat, and whacked him in the back of the head with the hilt. He fell forward unconscious.


"That's a new use for it." Jarod commented.


"You'd be amazed at it's uses."


They continued to silently move through the tunnels until they came upon the small group. Raines and Lindsey were facing away from them. Raines had a gun pointed at Gemini, Angel was standing frozen a dead demon at his feet, Lindsey holding a crossbow aimed for his chest.


Anger flooded Cordelia. Lawyer boy was going to kill Angel! Not if she had anything to do with it! Moving quickly she slashed through Mr Vader's oxygen tube, then grabbed Lindsey's shoulder, spinning him around. She quickly took advantage of his stunned look and placed the blade of her sword against ...uh..a rather delicate organ.


"But...but...you're dead! The doctor...."


"Should have gotten a second opinion." she told him with a smirk. As he shifted his grip on the cross bow, she changed her grip on her sword. "I wouldn't if I were you. I can assure you that you'll lose more than a hand. Something a little more...vital?" She pressed her blade more firmly against his crotch. Lindsey began to sweat.


**********


Raines, out the corner of his eye, saw the lawyer he had used to make these arrangements get attacked. He corrected his aim at the boy. If this wasn't going to work, then he could not afford the boy to be lose. He froze as he heard a distinctive click and felt the cold steel of a barrel of a gun against his temple.


"I wouldn't if I were you." His blood froze in his veins as he recognized the deadly voice.


"Jarod." Raines rasped. He would not let the Pretender win. Before Jarod could react he squeezed off three rounds, then began gasping as the lack of oxygen coming through the tube finally registered on his lungs.


Fortunately, well fortunately for JJ and Raines, Angel had managed to put himself between them, jolting as the bullets buried themselves in his back.


"Angel!" Cordelia cried out. Stuff this! Changing hands, she pulled back with her right, and let Lindsey have it. "Ow! Hard head!" she cried out as Lindsey fell.


Angel turned to confront the man who had just shot him in full game face.


Raines started gasping from more than lack of oxygen as he approached. Both Jarod and Angel hit Raines at the same time. The bald 'Darth-Vader-sound-alike' fell unconscious as Kate and Wesley arrived.


"Taken care of it already I see." Wesley commented surveying the scene in front of them.


"They aren't dead are they?" Kate asked, worried. How was she going to explain this to her boss?


Angel's face regained it's human appearance as he felt Cordelia touch his shoulder. "No they aren't dead. Just unconscious."


"Like the guy back there." Wesley stated pointing behind him.


"Guy back there?" Angel asked puzzled, wincing as Cordelia gently checked his back.


"I wouldn't want to cross her." Jarod commented before moving to check on his 'brother' and father.


"You wouldn't want to cross....Cordelia?"


"Yes?"


"What did you do?"


"Well, I hit him. With my sword. Well, with the hilt. We really need to get you home and tend to these."


"You hit him with your sword?"


"Yes. Oh, he'll be fine. He'll just have a doozy of a headache when he wakes up."


"What about them?" Kate asked pointing to Jarod and his family.


"Dad'll be fine. He'll be a bit woozy when he wakes up though. The stuff they gave him was pretty strong." JJ answered shakily.


"What about you?" Jarod asked quickly checking him.


"I'm..uh ok. Would someone mind telling me what just happened here?"


"Uh...how bout we meet back at the office. We really need to get the bullets out of Angel." Cordelia asked as Angel stumbled slightly. The andrenalin rush had worn off and he was now feeling the effects of the bullets. She threw Wesley the keys to the car. "We'll take the tunnels. I didn't bring a blanket with me."


"I'll uh call this in." Kate told them. "Um, would you mind moving the dead demon? I really don't think I could explain him to the others."


"I'll take care of it." Wesley told her.


She nodded. "Thanks."


"You remember the address?" Cordelia asked Jarod as she helped an unsteady Angel past him.


"Yes. Uh is he...?


"He'll be fine. Get him home, dig out the bullets, in 24 hours there won't even be a scar."


"Talk about me like I'm not here, why don't you?" Angel teased weakly. God he hated being shot!


"Did you hear something?" Cordelia teased back as they began walking through the tunnels.


"Do you know how annoying it is when you're treating me like an invalid?"


"Hey, you're the one who keeps getting shot! Or impaled."


"Look who's talking!"


"Ok, ok. We'll call a draw on this one?"


"Deal."


Jarod and JJ looked at each other amused. Then they looked at Wesley.


"Yes, they are usually like this." he confirmed with a smile. "Or fighting because Angel doesn't want Cordelia to be put in danger. That doesn't usually last long though. She's figured out how to get around him on that one. Most the time."


"Her immortality?" Jarod asked.


Wesley looked shocked. "How did you...?"


Jarod shrugged, motioned to his wrist. "Hacked the Watcher's database."


"Oh god." Wesley moaned. "Joe's going to have a fit."


"Not necessarily."


"What do you mean?"


"I'll tell you while we get rid of this guy." Jarod told him, indicating toward the dead Loreki demon.


"Deal."


****************


Part 4


****************


"Interesting couple of days." Cordelia commented as she and Angel washed up the dinner dishes.


"Yes it has been." Angel agreed.


Wesley, Jarod, JJ and the Major had all gone to Seacouver. Wesley had gone to introduce them, and to see if he could find out from Amanda how she had gotten into Wolfram & Hart. He would be back in two days. Jarod was going to redo the watcher's database for Joe, make it more secure. Before he had left he had given Angel an envelope that contained a business licence for Angel Investigations, a brand new background for Angel, one that would stand up to even the most microscopic inspection, and a check for $100,000. "I figured they owed you." He had told them mischievously.


He had paid them out of Centre funds. And speaking of the Centre, Raines had spent some time in hospital, recovering from oxygen depravation and a broken jaw. He would be drinking his meals through a straw for a few weeks yet. Lindsey had been admitted to the psychiatric ward. He had started babbling about the dead reviving and threatening to cut of a rather important part of his anatomy because he had wanted to kill her vampire boyfriend. In front of an entire squad room of police who had laughed at him. He would be spending some time in a padded room. Cordelia couldn't think of a person more deserving of such a sentance.


"I hope Wesley has his camera."


"Why?"


"I want to see the look on Joe's face when he finds out that the database was hacked. Heck, when he finds out that someone put it online."


"That would be...interesting." Angel laughed.


"Oh, and the look on Duncan's face when he finds out what Amanda did at Wolfram & Hart."


"I still can't believe she did that."


"I can believe it. The part I can't believe is that she didn't get caught. I wonder if she would...."


"No."


"What? I just..."


"No. Teaching you how to pick locks was enough."


"How did you...?"


"Wesley told me. Saw you pick the lock on your apartment."


"That rat!" Angel laughed at her outrage, and bent down to kiss her. She moaned low in her throat, and wrapped her arms around him, deepening the kiss. They were interrupted by pounding on the door to the office upstairs.


"Go away." Angel groaned. The pounding came again. This time more urgent.


"I don't think they're going to go anywhere until we answer it." Cordelia commented breathlessly.


"If this isn't about the world ending, I'm going to kill someone." Angel bit out as they made their way up the stairs.


"And Kate thinks I have to work on my anger management." Cordelia teased.


"Yes?!" Angel demanded as he opened the door. Standing on the other side was three people he had never seen before. Cordelia had though. Well, she had seen the woman. This was Jarod's pursuers.


"Hi. Have you seen this man?" The woman --Parker-- asked showing Jarod's picture.


"Lady, it's 10 o'clock at night and you pound on our door, to ask us if we've seen your boyfriend?" Angel growled.


The balding man nervously took a step back. "Uh..Miss Parker? Maybe we should...."


"Can it Broots." Parker snapped. "We just want to know if you've seen him."


"Yeah. He was here a couple of days ago. Following up on something for the hospital. He left this for you." Cordelia held out a red notebook.


Parker opened the cover. 'So near, yet so far. Just how close? You might want to ask Raines about Gemini and how he got the broken jaw. Oh and Sydney? The demons are more than personal.'


"Great. More cryptic clues from the labrat." Parker ground out. "Thank you." She directed toward Angel and Cordelia and stormed toward the stairs. Sydney had a thoughtful look on his face as he followed her.


Broots paused for a moment, checked to see that Parker and Sydney weren't looking then handed Angel an envelope. "Say hi to Jarod for me." Then he followed the others.


Angel stared at the envelope as he closed the door.


"So that was the three musketeers that's been chasing Jarod. She's a bitch." Cordelia stated bluntly.


"The others with her seemed alright."


"Probably. What's in it?"


"It's a disk of some sort."


"So Broots is actually helping Jarod? I think I could like him. Maybe we should introduce him to David. They'd probably get along like a house on fire."


"Probably. I'll send this to Jarod tomorrow." Cordelia cleared her throat. "Ok, you'll send this to Jarod tomorrow."


"Thank you. I would really rather that you didn't risk getting barbequed. I prefer you as you are." She told him as she wrapped her arms around his neck.


"Oh you do, do you?"


"Yep. Allergy to sunlight, aversion to crosses, problems with holy water, liquid diet and all."


"It won't always be like this. I mean eventually..."


"Eventually you'll be human. And that'll be good too. But for now..." she kissed him deeply. Eventually she had to come up for air. "That's a plus for vampirism. You don't have to worry about oxygen breaks."


"Silver lining in every cloud, huh?" Angel teased as he maneuvered them down the stairs.


"And what a lining!"


"So where were we, before we were so rudely interrupted?"


"You were threatening to kill whoever it was at the door?"


"Before that."


"Oh. I think we were.....just....about.....here." She leaned up to kiss him again.


"Oh, now I remember." He then proceeded to show her just what he could do with that particular silver lining.

The End

You have reached the end of "Pretend". This story is complete.

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