Darkness Within Author:
Cat a.k.a Sidewalk Doctor Posted
: 8/21/05 Rating
: PG-13 Email
: QueenC4707@splintered-dreams.com Category
: Action/Adventure/Romance Pairings
: Cordelia/Doyle, Clark/Lana Summary
: Set during “Exile.” Pretend Smallville S3 occurs concurrently with Angel S1. What if Kal disappeared to L.A.? Spoilers
: Smallville, up to “Exile.” Angel, umm… not a whole lot. lol Disclaimer
: Not mine. Don't sue. Distribution
: You want it, you got it. Just let me know first! Notes:
This fic is on hiatus for a bit, seeing how I have the writers block from heck. If you want to read it anyway, please be patient! Feedback
: Is better than cheese.Chapter One
It was Friday night and the Beauty Bar was in full swing. The trendy West Hollywood club was a popular haunt among young Californians, and tonight was no exception. The bar was lined with hip young singles while still more crowded the floor and congregated outside the door. The interior of the club resembled a retro beauty salon more than a bar, with an overabundance of pink and various forms of beauty paraphernalia as its chief décor. During happy hour, customers could lounge on chairs and sip a martini while getting a manicure.
Normally, this would totally be Cordelia's kind of place, but tonight she was here on a mission—which would explain why she was stuck hanging with a broody vampire and a badly-dressed Irishman instead of her girlfriends. Well, she didn't exactly have any girlfriends in L.A. yet, but that was a minor technicality that would surely be solved soon. Heaven forbid I ever get to go out for fun anymore, she reflected morosely. No, the only time I ever get to see the inside of a club is when the Prophet of Doom here has another one of his visions. Save the damsel in distress, defeat the latest creature of the night, yada yada. Just another day in her exciting life working for Angel Investigations.
“That girl over there… is that her?” Cordelia asked, pointing to a slender brunette standing across the room, by the door. She and Doyle were sitting at the bar where they could easily scope out the room for the girl in his latest vision. After he had shared the details of the bar he'd seen—lots of pink and “those chairs with hair dryer thingies on them”—Cordelia had pretty easily identified the Beauty Bar. However, finding the girl presented a bit more of a challenge.
He shook his head. “Nope… the girl I saw was more… I don't know, exotic. Strikingly beautiful, you know?”
“Yes, I know. You've only stressed that point about a zillion times.” With a bored expression, Cordelia took a sip of her appletini.
“Well, I only figured it would help us find her.”
“Oh yeah, a hot girl in L.A. Really narrows it down.”
Doyle looked faintly amused. “Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”
“Please! Like I've ever been jealous of anyone in my life.” Cordelia dismissed the notion with a toss of her hair.
“Somehow, that doesn't surprise me,” Doyle replied dryly, but his blue eyes twinkled with mirth.
“I just wish Helen of Troy here would show up, get in trouble, so we can save her and get on with our lives,” Cordelia grumbled. “Who knows, maybe she'll fall madly in love with you and I can have a moment's…”
The words died abruptly on her lips when she spotted the figure entering the bar. Instead, she interrupted her own sentence with, “Well, hello, salty goodness.”
“Salty what?” Doyle swiveled his head to follow Cordelia's gaze to where a young man stood in the doorway of the club. He was tall, a good six two or three, with a slim but muscular frame beneath his blue shirt and tailored slacks. His dark hair was thick and wavy, falling in curling tendrils across his forehead. He had the kind of chiseled good looks you saw all over Hollywood, mostly on actors and models, which he most likely was. With those perfectly sculpted cheekbones and intense eyes, he had WB Show star written all over him.
The guy walked into the bar, casually taking in his surroundings as though he were clearly used to this kind of scene. His eyes skimmed across the scantily clad women all around him before coming to rest on Cordelia. He didn't smile, but the look in his eyes was clearly an invitation.
Well now, Cordelia thought, holding his gaze, this evening just got a lot more interesting.
He'd seen a million places like this before. OK, well, maybe not a million per say, but a lot. There wasn't really anything remarkable about the Beauty Bar, except perhaps that it was the pinkest club Kal had ever seen. But it attracted a good crowd. It was fun. It gave him something to do to take his mind off the emptiness that surely awaited him once he walked out the door and returned to his life.
What there was of it.
So Kal scoped out the place as he usually did, looking for a sweet young thing to spend some time with, share a dance and a drink, make him feel alive for a few hours. He never did take any of the girls home, even if several were more than willing. He couldn't say what stopped him. Maybe he couldn't stand to use them that way, to see the same emptiness reflected in their eyes that he felt in his soul. Or maybe he knew that in the end, there wouldn't be any real connection. It was all a shoddy substitute for something he had left behind, something he could never have…
Some one he could never have.
Unnerved, Kal brushed away the memories of a life he'd left behind. There was a reason he'd fled to L.A. Even in Metropolis, it turned out he'd still been too close to home. But here, this massive city that millions inhabited but no one called home, he could disappear. He'd be swallowed up by the glitter and the gloss and the bright lights sparkling amidst the shards of a million broken dreams. Including his own.
But tonight—no, tonight he wasn't going to think about that. Tonight was about escape. Tonight was about finding that one glimmer of light in the darkness he craved. It'd keep him warm for a while. And in the end, it was those little moments that he lived for.
God knew he had nothing else to.
He spotted her across the room, reclining on the barstool like a cat, elegant and impeccably beautiful. She was tall and lithe, with a knockout body and long dark hair cascading in thick, luxurious waves around a striking face. Parts of her reminded him of Lana—the effortless beauty, the spark in her eyes and genuine sweetness that seemed to glow from within. But unlike Lana, something about this girl told him she'd seen a lot, far more than most people her age. While there was a part of her that he was sure remained innocent, she'd lived. What innocence was left, well, L.A. would likely see to that.
Certainly not that shmuck by her side. Oh, Kal was sure he was a nice enough guy—but it still caught him off-guard that this beauty had chosen someone so… well, average. Or maybe not. Maybe she wanted someone safe. Comfortable. Predictable. Someone like he used to be, back in another time and another life. But then, he hadn't even had dependability to fall back on. He was sure the biggest burden this guy shouldered was how he was going to pay for his princess's next shopping spree, since it was evident from his battered leather jacket and scuffed shoes that he wasn't exactly rolling in money. As it was, the guy fixed Kal with a wary glance, edging ever so slightly closer to the brunette as if to say, “Mine!” Well, he needn't have worried. He'd not be without her for long.
Kal strolled up to the bar, flashed the female bartender his most dazzling smile. It had the desired effect. “What'll it be?” she asked.
“I'll have a Crown on the rocks, and send another appletini to the brunette over there.” He nodded in the general direction.
And so it began.
“From the gentleman over there.” The bartender nodded toward the guy Cordelia had spotted earlier, who lounged casually against the bar with the easy confidence borne out of being ridiculously good-looking and knowing it.
“Oh wow, he sent me a drink.” Grinning, Cordelia took a sip of her appletini, despite the fact that she hadn't finished the first one yet.
Doyle scowled. “Well, that was slightly rude.”
“Awww, don't feel bad. I'm sure he'd have sent you a drink if he rolled that way.”
“How did he know you weren't with me?” Doyle demanded.
Cordelia arched an elegant eyebrow. “Because I'm not?”
“But he didn't know that.”
Cordelia set down the glass. “Whatever. Where is your girl, anyway? Don't you have a damsel to rescue?”
“Just as long as I don't end up having to rescue you. ”
“Please,” Cordelia retorted disdainfully. “I can take care of myself—oh God, he's coming over.”
“Goody,” Doyle muttered.
It was almost midnight, and by now, the Beauty Bar was coming to life. The small floor area was rapidly filling with couples dancing to the hip-hop music blaring out of the speakers. Cordelia's latest admirer wove easily through the crowd, no doubt due to his height and stature as well as the effortless grace with which he moved. Everything about him screamed sophistication. She was willing to bet his clothes were all designer, and he drove a Rolls or Bentley and had some gorgeous pad in Brentwood or perhaps Laurel Canyon…
Way to go, Cordy, she thought, mentally congratulating herself for somehow reeling this gem in.
The guy sidled up to the bar and, without so much as a word, held his hand out to Cordelia. Doyle adopted a would-you-believe-this-guy expression, and looked at Cordelia. Cordelia, however, was completely enraptured. Slipping her hand in her admirer's, allowed him to lead her to the floor.
She was feeling good; the appletini she'd drunk before was kicking in, Mariah's latest dance hit was playing, and she was the envy of every girl who'd spotted the guy by her side. He was an excellent dancer, moving with a natural rhythm and grace as she had predicted he would. Adrenaline—or maybe she was just buzzed--flowed through her body like liquid heat, warming her within and spreading through her limbs. His hands skimmed her slender waistline before coming to rest on her hips, pulling her closer to him, enough to nuzzle her hair. The booming bass echoed through the room and seemed to beat within her, her movements matching his almost without having to think about it. He was close enough that she smelled his cologne, blending with a clean and distinctive scent that was his alone. She wondered what it would be like to run her fingers through his hair—it was somehow appropriate that his hair was almost as good as hers was—to be surrounded by those strong arms and just breathe him in…
Now, Cordelia wasn't prone to romantic daydreaming. It was true that as of the moment her attraction to this guy was purely physical. But there was something about him that was powerfully charismatic, incredibly tempting… besides, he was just so hot.
What did she have to lose?
Several minutes later, Kal was seated at the bar with his latest conquest. He didn't know where her boyfriend went—probably still skulking around somewhere. Whatever. He bought her a drink and dismissed the thought from his mind. “You know, I just realized we haven't introduced ourselves,” he said as she sipped daintily from her appletini. “I'm Kal.”
“Cordelia.” She flashed him that dazzling smile of hers, the one that would surely have brought a weaker man to his knees. For a second he actually felt kind of sorry for her boyfriend.
“Nice to meet you, Cordelia,” Kal replied, taking a sip of his Crown on the rocks. “So what brings you to the City of Angels?”
“How do you know I'm not from here?” she asked, hazel eyes glinting teasingly.
“Is there anyone from L.A.?” Kal countered.
“Good point,” she acknowledged with a wry smile. “I'm an actress.”
“Interesting.” He was willing to bet she'd never made it past a commercial on a local access channel or some po-dunk theater in NoHo.
“So what do you do?” Cordelia asked, seeming a little bewildered at his aloofness. It didn't surprise him. She was probably used to men tripping all over themselves around her.
“My work,” he said vaguely.
“Really? What do you do?”
“Oh, cool. Who do you work for?”
Damn, but she was a nosy one. “Free agent.”
“Ahh, I see.” She seemed to buy it, and he relaxed slightly. Time to change the topic of this conversation.
“You know, it's really loud in here. What do you say we head someplace more quiet?” Kal asked, turning on the maximum charm. “That is, unless you have to go back to your boyfriend.”
“My boyfriend?” Cordelia looked blank, and then it dawned on her. “Oh, Doyle. He's not my boyfriend. We just work together.” She extracted what looked like a business card from her purse. “I have a second job at Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless for a small but reasonable fee. If you or any of your friends ever needs help, feel free to give us a call.”
“I'll remember that.” Kal glanced down at the card. “What is that, a bird?”
“Ummm… it's not important. You have the number.”
“That I do.” With an indulgent smile, Kal tucked the card in his pocket and stood up. “Shall we?”
Flashing her sunny smile, Cordelia stood up as well. “Sure.”
On the way out of the club, Cordelia figured she was obliged to tell Doyle she was taking off. Or course, she planned on coming back—it was just looking more and more like this vision was a bust, and maybe the Powers that Be weren't exactly on it tonight. Either way, she wasn't about to waste this opportunity for the sake of hanging around a bar listening to Doyle prattle on about the racetracks and then start singing weird Irish drinking songs when he had enough beers in him. Once again, how had she ever ended up with this life?
“I'm tellin' ya, I have a bad feeling about this guy,” Doyle warned Cordelia when she finally tracked him down, sitting on one of the aforementioned “chairs with hair dryer thingies” and nursing yet another consecutive Guinness.
“Why, he wasn't in your vision, was he?”
“I don't know,” Doyle admitted hesitantly. “He could've been… it was hard to tell.”
Cordelia sighed. “Yeah, like he's the only tall, dark, good-looking guy in L.A. Whatever. Anyway, I'm going, and I just thought I'd tell you so you didn't think I got waylaid by some demon or something.”
“How do I know you're not about to?”
“Kal is not a demon!” Cordelia insisted. “He's rich, he's hot, and I'm sure he has a really nice car. Do not ruin this for me because you're jealous.”
“My being jealous has nothing to do with it,” Doyle fired back.
“Oh, please. It's a good thing you're a seer and not an actor.” Cordelia rolled her eyes.
“I'm not jealous!” he insisted, scowling. “OK, well, maybe a little. But that's not why I have a bad feeling about him. I just like… I don't know, picked up on somethin.'”
“Ahh, that's right, you have some kind of demon spider sense, right?”
Doyle was looking increasingly uncomfortable—either that, or he was getting plastered, the more likely explanation. “Just… just be careful, OK?”
Still annoyed, Cordelia got up. “Fine, I will. And don't worry, it's not like I'm going to take him home or something. I'll be back.”
But as Cordelia flounced off, Doyle still wasn't convinced.