By suricata

Cordelia skittered around the corner, wincing as she felt her heels crack. Another pair of shoes, lost. And you know I'll never get the PTB to pay for new ones...

Those thoughts ended abruptly as she spotted her quarry. Ugh. Okay, only one, I can do this... But one became two, and then a third showed up. Cordelia barely had time to make sure she had enough stakes before the first one abandoned its prey and leapt at her...

Then, suddenly, it was over. The vampires were dust, and she was free to check on the woman half-slumped against the far wall of the alley.

"She's lost a lot of blood."

"Why do you even care?" Cordelia had felt him show up, had known whom it was fighting at her back. But she wasn't going to give him any satisfaction in acknowledging it. He was supposed to be here, damnit. This was his job, not hers.

"They're part of a pack in this neighborhood," she told him, not waiting for a response that wasn't going to come. "Wes and Gunn are cleaning it out, I guess these guys got away. Rumor has it, Darla was grooming them for something." She finished binding up the woman's wounds, then pulled out a penlight and checked her pupils. "Concussion, at least" she said with hard-won experience. "She's not going to remember a thing about tonight, are you?"

Angel sounded tired. "Take her to the hospital, then go home Cordelia. Tell the others to let me take care of it. This is nothing humans should be involved in."

That got the anger, barely banked for the moment, up and firing again. "Hello? Human here! And there," as she indicated her patient. "Very much involved!"

"Stop getting involved. Stay out of dark alleys. Go on auditions. Find a job with a real paycheck. Something that doesn't destroy your wardrobe or put you in danger."

Her jaw dropped open, then snapped shut. "You think it's that easy? 'Cause it's not. This was never a game, Angel. It wasn't a hobby or a sometimes when we felt like it thing. You may have fired us; They -- being you-know-who -- haven't. "

Angel didn't seem too impressed by that, although she thought he looked a little worried at her announcement. For about three seconds.

She thought about it and got even angrier.

"And who the hell are you to say we shouldn't be involved? Not every Warrior is a demon, you know. Or a Slayer. Sometimes they're just...people. Humans. Doing what they can. Because it's right"

"This isn't about right, Cordelia." His voice was flat, almost uninterested. "It's about settling debts. About -"

"Revenge? Vengeance? Or are you just trying to get yourself dusted, so you don't have to deal with the mess you've made of things? What did Doyle die for, then? He gave his life- not for revenge, Angel. He gave his life so other people would live. So you would live. You're spitting on his gift."

Angel drew back his hand, the slap taking them both by surprise. She recovered first.

"Feel better now?"


"You think you're the only one who can stop them. That it's your fate, destiny, punishment, whatever. Fine. Go the whole Dark Knight route. And when you finally atone to your satisfaction, when you've gotten Darla totally out of your system -- then maybe you'll be satisfied.

"Or maybe you'll just be alone."

She gathered the woman under one arm and helped her up, moving slowly out of the alley. She didn't look back.