Pixie Sticks

~ this was co-written as a response to James' offer on fandom_charity to write fiction in exchange for donations towards any organization sending relief and assistance for victims of the recent tsunami. Written for jadelennox in acknowledgment of her contribution to Doctors Without Borders.

Cordelia arrived at work at the bright and early hour of half past ten. There was no one in the lobby that she could see, hear, or smell. Just the way she liked it. One thing she really enjoyed about working with vampires was that no one but her kept morning hours.

Unless they'd been up all night and hadn't gone to bed yet -- but while it was true that two of the five people who lived in the hotel were vampires, neither of them were likely to be down here bothering her at this time of morning, and neither were the humans who shared their beds.

Well, Wes might be -- his sleep cycle never quite synced into 'vampiric' despite how long he'd been sleeping with one -- but he was quiet enough and Cordelia didn't really mind him hanging around the office. Xander, on the other hand, had actually grown into more of a morning person than she -- or even Phantom Dennis, who was always up at least an hour and three waffles earlier than Cordelia -- was. But by ten thirty Xander had either been at his own office for three hours, or was still trying to get away from Spike long enough to get dressed and go to work.

Cordelia wrinkled her nose as she realized she'd just thought about Spike, Xander, and sex. In the same sentence, and voluntarily. "Ew."

"Bloop?" said the purple thing on her desk.

"Exactly. It's too early in the morning to think about things like that, and I haven't had nearly enough ice cream. Which in this case would be any, because it's also too early for ice cream." Cordelia set her shoulderbag down on the counter and walked around behind it to pour herself a cup of coffee. From the espresso machine. Which Angel assured her was a Christmas present *to* her and not a commentary on her coffee-making skills. Uh-huh.

"Bloop," said the purple thing on her desk.

"Ok, fine, it's never too early for ice-cream, and anyway it'll be lunchtime in a couple of hours, which is definitely not too early for ice cream. But I don't *have* any ice cream at the moment, at least not any in the communal fridge and it's *always* too early in the morning to contemplate eating any *other* ice cream you might find around here, so sue me if I prefer to pretend I don't want any rather than dwell on the complete lack of ice cream I'm currently eating." Cordelia turned around to look at it. "Also, what the hell are you, why am I talking to you, and what are you doing on my desk?"

"Bloop?"

Cordelia folded her arms and glared at the shapeless...globby...thing -- slightly larger than the telephone it was currently globbing beside -- silently demanding that it either answer her coherently, or vanish in a cloud of sparkly purple dust never to reappear. She didn't have time for nonsense. She hadn't had her coffee *or* her ice cream.

The purple thing vanished, with an audible 'plop', in a cloud of sparkly green dust.

"Good enough." She nodded to herself, sat down at her desk, ignoring the piles of paperwork and weapons, and started drinking her coffee.

It did occur to her to wonder if the purpley bloop was something that someone would want, later. Maybe it was something the guys had captured last night for a client. Maybe it *was* a client. If so, it would be back. No one else offered the same services for a better price.

If it was something she didn't want to think about, that certain people had dared to leave on her desk instead of the places that things she didn't want to think about belonged, then she didn't want to think about it. Or what it might do. Or why it needed to say, "Bloop."

Morning was *her* time, not bloop-time. It was her moment to relax, read the paper, then read the new issue of Demon Lovers -- if there was one, which there wasn't -- and only for the articles, really -- *behind* the newspaper. And then Better Lairs and Nests, this time publicly and really for the articles. If the bloopy thing was important to somebody -- not her -- then they could deal with it later, and maybe they could explain why they'd left it on *her* desk if it was so important.

Matter settled to her satisfaction, Cordelia proceeded to get on with her workday. In blissful, globless, silence. She was halfway through the paper and her second donut when the phone rang. She glared at it for a full two rings, before putting down the paper and picking up the receiver. In a cheery, don't-want-to-kill-you-unless-it-turns-out-you-aren't-a-client tone, she said, "Good morning, thank you for calling Angel Investigations. How can we help you today?"

No one had decided, yet, if the agency was still being called Angel Investigations, or Pryce Investigations, or Chase Investigations, or something else. They'd been arguing over it for three years, now. Cordelia had solved the problem, in the interim, and if they didn't like it they could pick 'Chase Investigations'.

Today was Thursday, so she answered 'Angel Investigations.' Wesley got Mondays and Saturdays, because he'd bought her a year long membership to Andre's Day Spa. Tuesdays belonged to Gunn. Wednesdays and Sundays, and *why* again didn't Evil take weekends off? -- were Chase Investigations.

Fridays were technically her day off. That tended to mean they became "Whoever Answered The Phone Investigations" unless that happened to be Spike, in which case it was "Whoever Snatched The Phone Away From Spike Investigations" or "Wildo's Gargoyle Delivery and Pizza Repair Shop" if nobody got there fast enough. Sometimes Cordelia came in on Fridays just to see who won.

"I've got pixies in my plumbing system, and don't you dare laugh and then hang up on me. At least do it the other way around." The voice of the woman on the other end of the line was shaky, but with a core of firmness, as if desperation had given her newfound strength. Or at least better phone chutzpah.

"There is *nothing* funny about pixies, ma'am," Cordelia said firmly. Hell, she'd had them herself twice. "I can have someone out there this afternoon--" She paused. "Tonight. As soon as the sun is down."

Because Spike was, after all, the one with the most experience with pixies. He'd put them in Cordelia's closet; he'd gotten rid of them afterwards. He could get rid of these and earn his keep. Besides, if she went along, she'd get to watch Xander laugh at his husband. Again.

Husband. Oh, dear god she hadn't had enough coffee, ice cream, or sleep to deal with that one.

"Can I have your address?" she asked the woman, firmly pushing away other thoughts and concentrating on how much she could charge. Not as much as she'd charged for the gargoyle they'd delivered three Fridays ago, unfortunately.

"We're on Lafayette Square, in West Adams," the woman replied. Cordelia smiled wide enough to be heard over the phone, she was fairly sure. For West Adams, they *could* charge gargoyle delivery prices. "But can't you get someone out here sooner than nightfall?" The client's voice dropped, and took on a more ragged quality. "They've started *singing*."

As if set off by the comment, a chorus of chirping voices swelled up in the background. "Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me....." There was a flushing sound, but then the voices began again, with a distant, watery echo.

"Well," Cordelia began, with a show of reluctance, as though she were flipping through a schedule or something. As though she didn't have the schedule memorized -- and not written down, because that was just begging someone-named-Spike to erase things and scribble in stuff about Xander and animal noises. "I *could* send someone out this morning. I'd have to charge you for an emergency visit, though."

And it would be payment on delivery, which meant Cordelia could swing by the bank then head to lunch -- at Georgette's. For the rest of the day, as reward for her hard work. But not too hard; after watching Spike remove pixies from her apartment -- twice -- Cordelia felt confident she could get rid of this batch.

"So what's that exact street address, ma'am?"

*****

Her lunch reservation was in one hour. Plenty of time to drop off the bag of squirming pixies, grab a shower and a change of clothes at home, and arrive fashionably but not lose-your-reservation late. She'd already called Lorn and he was meeting her at her place in exactly forty-five minutes.

That should also be enough time, if she played the radio while she showered, to get the incessantly repeating loop of "High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd, lay-dee-o-de-lay-dee-o-de---arrgh" out of her head. The magic bag might mute the little bastards, but it couldn't mute the *memories*. Cordelia shuddered as she stalked through the Hyperion lobby, bag in hand.

Spike stood next to her desk-counter, picking things up and putting them down again, shaking his head and muttering. Normally she'd assume that meant he wasn't quite awake yet, and was looking for Xander, who must've managed to slip out of his clutches and away to his office, but that didn't seem likely in this case. Not because it would mean he was looking for Xander under the newspaper -- that was all too likely around here -- but because his hair was gelled back, and if he was awake enough not to have bed-head, he was too awake to be searching for his ice-cream-word-thing under objects that were smaller than said ice-cream-word-thing.

Unless Xander was a newt, of course, but in that case she didn't want to know. Wait, she didn't want to know anyway. She just wanted to hand off the squirky squirmy bag of pixies to Spike and get out of there. She walked towards him, and he looked up, then gave her a confused expression. "Did you know your hair's green?"

Cordelia changed direction, heading for the stairs. "Yes." Luckily for her, pixie dust was easily wash-out-able. Unluckily for Spike, or rather for his soon-to-be-occupied-by-more-than-just-a-pair-of-scooby-doo-boxers-and-a-glow-in-the-dark-cockring underwear drawer, he should've known better than to *notice*.

"Just thought I should mention it in case you didn't. By the way, have you seen my new pixie trap? Had it delivered yesterday, and it should be somewhe--" He was cut off by a recently-familiar sound.

"Bloop?"

Cordelia gripped the bag of pixies tighter, and narrowed her eyes, but didn't look back.

"Right! Got it, nevermind!" Spike called after her.

She climbed the stairs without responding. People who told her about green hair and didn't tell her about new pixie traps that might have made her not have green hair didn't *deserve* responses. They didn't even deserve pixies in their underwear drawer. Pixies in their underwear drawer were too *good* for them.

Actually, maybe the emphasis was wrong there. She tried it again. *Pixies* in their... no. Hmm. Ah! Pixies in *their* underwear drawer were too good for them. Yeah. Much better.

Cordelia didn't bother tip-toeing up to the door. If, god forbid, someone answered it, she would simply hand the bag over and leave.

Luckily for her -- and not luckily for Spike -- there was no one running to the door as she pushed it very carefully open. No signs of anyone doing Anything She Didn't Want To think About in the bed or on the floor. She could hear the shower running, which meant she had at least twenty minutes to do this.

Not that she was going to *take* twenty minutes, because shower-of-her-own, pixie dust, lay-dee-o-de-lay-dee-oh-de-argh cetera. She walked quickly to the bureau next to the bed, opened the third drawer, and dumped the pixies in, making sure the drawer slammed shut before any of them escaped.

From within the bureau, she heard the opening strains of "Won't you play me Le Jazz Hot, baby..." It could've been worse, she supposed. The last pixie infestation had been fixated on Streisand; after an entire day of having Evergreen stuck in her head because Spike had it stuck in *his* head and wouldn't stop humming, Julie Andrews was almost a relief to deal with.

Except she didn't have to deal with it anymore, did she. Cordelia sneaked out as quickly and quietly as she'd entered, any sounds she made undoubtedly covered by the shower and the muffled but increasingly louder pixie jamboree.

She made it as far as the foyer, happily thinking of songs she might hum during lunch that would get her and Lorn's minds off pixies and Spike and everything else related to the life that was still all Buffy's fault as far as Cordelia was concerned, when she heard Angel scream.

"SPIKE!" reverberated angrily through the walls, and with a satisfied smile, Cordelia headed out into the sunshine.