Title: 5 Times Angel and Cordelia Almost Ran Into Each Other (Before They Actually Did)
Summary: That LA can be such
a small town.
Rating: Um, PG, I think.
Disclaimer: I play with them, yet they remain ME's property. So not fair.
Notes: Just a fun writing excercise. 1800 words. My thanks to my beta damnskippytoo
, who remains better than me in almost every way. :D
“Welcome to Los Angeles, California.”
As soon as the bus pulls into the terminal, Cordelia looks out of the high windows.
Not much to see, though, just some lights across the street and the slow shuffle of tired passengers. She waits with tired impatience as it comes to a full stop and the driver makes his announcements, records his odometer readings and generally fusses with his console.
It’s been the same for six long hours, repeated every time they made a stop along the highway between Sunnydale and Los Angeles. She feels like she’s barely hanging on to the urge to snap his head off, reminding herself that this isn’t First Class to Monaco or Nice; it’s below economy class along the desert highway of California, complete with sticky floors and shady-looking passengers.
It’s what she has now - she has to make it work.
And she will.
As soon as the driver says it’s okay, she climbs to her feet and pulls her carry-on across her shoulder, taking stock of her belongings. She has two more suitcases stored in the belly of the bus, and a room at the YWCA arranged. She’s been carefully saving all of her checks from the boutique - minus the prom dress – and sold a few extraneous baubles, hording the resulting pile of money in anticipation of her escape from Undead Central.
She’ll be fine until she’s cast in her first commercial.
She climbs down the steps and pauses, taking in the cold night air and the tall, tall buildings surrounding the bus station. Traffic, even after midnight, is racing along at a brisk pace and she feels the resultant air current along her cheeks.
Anticipation like champagne bubbles sparkle along her nerve endings, and she turns left, around the front of the bus, to get her things.
Another passenger disembarks, tossing his dirty blanket into a handy dumpster.
He surveys his fellow travelers like they were part of a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
It’ll be sunrise in a few hours. Just enough time to pick out one of the ones he’d been eyeing since the bus left Sunnydale.
He watches as an older woman towing two tired kids passes right in front of him, and smirks.
Just as he turns to follow, he feels the sudden presence of another vampire, and then just as suddenly, a jab of something sharp in his back.
There’s no time for a last thought.
Angel retracts the stake and turns, stalking back out into the night.
Cordelia watches as her blood fills the tiny tube attached to her arm.
The phlebotomist expertly arranges the tube and bag and smiles at Cordy before walking away to tend to someone else.
Cordelia leans back against the couch and tries to ignore the growl emanating from her stomach. It’s been a while since lunch, but she needs to shore up her funds so it won’t kill her to wait a few more hours to eat again.
Like tomorrow morning.
She distracts herself from the hunger by thinking about her last job. The director seemed impressed with her performance, if she thought about bouncing up and down for an exercise tape performing.
Screw algebra. Her cheerleading experience had been invaluable as she’d smiled through the movements take after take like it had been her first.
It hadn’t paid much but she has to think in terms of future work. If the director was impressed, her next gig might be a music video for REM or the Foo Fighters.
The phlebotomist wanders back over eventually and checks the bag, squeezing it. She disengages Cordelia and hands her a cookie and some orange juice.
“Wait fifteen minutes, and then you can leave. The receptionist out front will pay you.”
“Fifty dollars, right?” She asks, remembering the flyer at the Y.
The older woman checks her notes and shakes her head.
“Actually, your blood type is rare, so it’s worth more. Double, I think.”
Cordelia smiles as bright as the sun.
Things are looking up.
The phlebotomist blinks, a little bit dazzled, and smiles back before walking away with Cordy’s blood.
She carefully closes the door to the exam room and walks quickly to the back of the clinic.
A dark figure detaches from the shadowed back door, hesitantly coming forward.
“Thank you,” he says, offering her a hundred dollar bill.
The phlebotomist shakes her head, smiling kindly.
“You saved my niece’s life, Angel. It’s always on the house.” She hands him the still-warm bag of blood in her hands. “This is a fresh bag. I’ll be right back with the other three.”
Angel reaches for the bag she offers, trying very hard to still his trembling hands as he takes it. The blood is still relatively hot, fresh from the vein, and it smells so good his fangs hurt with the need to bite down
He had thought drinking human blood would stave off the hunger, enable him to be near humans without bad things happening.
He’s not sure it’s working out that way.
But he still takes the other three bags when the phlebotomist offers them, and slips all four into a cooler in the trunk of his car.
At the front of the clinic, Cordelia pockets the cashier’s check and leaves through the double doors, turning right to the bus stop.
Two minutes later Angel pulls out of the alley behind the clinic and turns left, toward Sunset.
Cordelia swivels on her bar stool, feeling like an idiot.
She took a chance but it looks like the agent
who saw so much promise in her smile was just another would-be pimp trying to get his hooks into her.
Luckily she told him she’d meet him in public and it scared him away.
Only she’s out bus fare and a good pair of pantyhose. They aren’t something she can afford to spend a lot of money on, so she’ll have to be careful going home, and rinse them in the tub.
Air drying is still free, she thinks ruefully.
Taking one last longing look at the bar menu, she hops down and gathers her coat close to her torso, hiding her purse, and leaves.
The other patrons watch her go with disappointment. It’s not the bar in the lobby of the Hilton and girls like her don’t make a habit of waltzing in off the street.
Someone switches on the TV above the bar and soon most of the bar is absorbed in the football game, forgetting the beautiful girl that left.
Angel walks in from the back and stations himself on the bar stool that still feels warm from the last occupant, sniffing delicately at the trace of perfume left behind.
Nice, he thinks distractedly.
He settles in, signaling the bartender, and waits.
She smiles as she walks up to the counter.
“Hi, I’m Cordelia Chase,” she says as she sticks her hand out. The guy with the manager
name tag glances at her slim fingers and then at her face, looking skeptical.
“Margo sent me?” she offers hopefully. “Technically I have no experience with being a waitress, but I have a lot
when it comes to ordering coffee and being a customer, so I know exactly how to treat your patrons.” Manager
is already shaking his head regretfully.
“I’m sorry, miss. I’m not looking for another waitress,” he tells her as the bottom drops from her stomach. She thinks about the three hundred she has left from her last acting job and the rent due on her brand spanking new dive, and tries not to panic.
Panic doesn’t solve problems; it just creates wrinkle-inducing stress.
She holds the smile on her face.
“But Margo said you were looking for more help,” she persisted in a friendly, non-threatening voice.
He holds up his hands apologetically.
“I’m sorry, but I hired the last girl that Margo sent me and now I’m fully staffed. In fact, I’m overstaffed. I don’t have room for you, I’m sorry miss.” He sounds genuinely regretful, looking at her so sympathetically.
She swallows and tries not to wilt.
“Well, thanks anyway,” she shrugs. “I mean, I was hoping for pocket change but at least I don’t have to worry about having to ask time off for all my auditions.” Her throat closes and she stops on a choke, already turning back towards the front door.
“Miss, maybe it’s time to give up and go home, huh? I’m sure your parents are worried about you.”
She throws a goodbye back at him on her way out the door, pausing on the sidewalk to take a breath and collect herself.
Alright, there were plenty of other places she could apply at.
No need to panic yet.
Besides there’s always the party later on, she tells herself. Lots of potential contacts.
The bus stops on the corner just as the sun dips further behind the mountains and Cordelia hurries to catch it. A blond climbs off and she steps back to let the girl pass, giving her an absent-minded smile.
Tina pauses, glancing at Cordelia.
“Have we met?” She asks the other girl. Cordelia looks briefly at her as she climbs aboard.
“Don’t think so,” she replies as the doors close.
Tina shrugs and pulls her apron out as she walks up to the coffee shop.
Angel rounds the corner from further up the street as the bus pulls away from the curb. Exhaust gasps out of the tailpipe in the back and he almost gags on the smell, glancing up at the tinted windows in annoyance.
The air wasn’t nearly as putrid before the industrial revolution, he thinks as he glances in the front window of the Coffee Spot, searching for a particular girl.
Pausing in front of the hotel, Cordelia stops and sits on one of the gigantic planters by the front doors.
She repeats a few affirmations and takes some deep breaths, psyching herself up for the party and telling herself that she will
make something happen.
She’s a worthwhile person and it’s only a matter of time before good things happen.
If she puts positive out into the world, she will get positive back.
She wasn’t that bad, was she? She was maybe mean to a few people but she never deliberately tried to hurt anyone.
Surely she was done paying.
“Cordelia? What are you doing out here?”
Cordy looks up.
“Oh, just enjoying another mellow L.A. evening, Margo,” she replies as she stands up, subtly smoothing her skirt. “Let’s go in.”
She joins arms with Margo and pastes a smile on her face as the other woman leads her in.
She would begin her destiny tonight, she tells herself.
The future starts now.
A few minutes later, Tina arrives with Angel.