Cowards, Aren't We All?

DISCLAIMER: The characters, except for Grace, belong to Joss Whedon and co.


NOTES: I'm not sure if Bracken demons are peaceful, or violent in relation to the show. We know Doyle was, but I'm not sure about the others. I wrote them the way they fit into my story, so if it's not accurate, I'm sorry but I won't change it.


Thunder crashed outside his window as Angel sat at his desk and impatiently tapped a pen against it, waiting for Cordelia to finish filing the reports and come into his office. They hadn't been very busy lately and, as much as Angel hated to admit it, having Cordelia go around clubs and hand out cards wasn't a bad idea.

"Done!" Cordelia announced, opening his door and coming inside. "I filed all our cases." She smiled. "Which took all of thirty seconds." Lightening flashed and she looked outside at the pelting rain.

"You're right." Angel stood up and twirled the pen in his fingers. "We need to advertise."

"I'm right?" Cordelia asked in surprise. "I mean, I'm right. Of course I'm right Angel, how many times have I told you that?"

"Which is why you and Wesley are going clubbing tonight. My treat."

Cordelia looked at Angel in confusion. "Okay, you just went from brooding to a little strange to really scary in about fifteen seconds. Your treat, Angel what's going on?"

"I'm going to send you and Wesley out for the night." He turned to her and raised both eyebrows. "Granted you hand out cards and do nothing but plug our agency all night."

Cordelia sighed. "I knew it was too good to be true, there's always a catch." She glanced around the room. "Fine, but only if I can dance with good looking guys while I give them cards and plug our agency."

"Whatever it takes Cordelia." Angel answered, then reached into his wallet and handed her a twenty.

"Yeah, like that's gonna cover it." She laughed and held out her hand for more money.

"How much more?" Angel asked, glancing into his thin wallet.

"At least fifty." Cordelia said. "Come on, this is barely enough for drinks."

"I didn't say anything about drinks." He said, handing her another twenty dollar bill. "That's all you get."

She sighed and stared at the money in her hand. "Fine. I guess it'll have to do. But if I get dehydrated and pass out on the dance floor, while I'm handing out cards and plugging our agency, I'm so suing you for any damage."

"Damage to what?"

"My clothes." Cordelia tossed her hair. "God, you'd think you lived through the stone age. Oh, wait, you did."

"Funny." Angel answered, then took a seat in his chair again.

"I'll go call Wesley." She said, then opened the door and slid into the front room.

Angel sat alone in silence for a moment before Cordelia opened the door and motioned to him. "You might want to come in here." She hissed.

Angel sighed, then stepped into the main office, wondering what Cordelia wanted him to see.

A woman stood shivering near the door, soaked by the rain. She was tall and slim, wearing a pair of jeans and a red tee shirt. Her brown hair was matted against her head from the rain and green eyes stared out miserably from under it.

"Help me, please." She said, stumbling toward him.

Angel ran to her and caught her before she fell, holding her tightly. "You're freezing." He said.

She nodded. "The rain, it's so cold."

"Cordelia, get some towels." Angel said, then led the woman to their couch. "Sit here," he told her and helped her sit, "I'll be right back with some blankets."

Wesley chose that moment to enter the office, shaking out his umbrella.

"Wesley." Angel looked at him. "Get something warm for her."

Without asking questions, Wesley nodded. "Coffee?" He asked, moving toward the coffee maker.

The woman stared at him for a moment before nodding slowly. "Please. I'm so cold."

Wesley poured coffee into a mug for her as Angel and Cordelia went to get towels. "Sugar and milk?" He asked.

She shook her head. "It's fine the way it is." Wesley placed it in her shaking hands. "Thank you."

Angel returned with a blanket as Cordelia entered carrying towels.

"Here." Cordelia gave them to her, draping one over her shoulders and another over her knees. Angel moved forward and wrapped the blanket around her, rubbing her shoulders to warm them.

"Now," Angel said, pulling up a chair across from her. "What's your name?"

"Grace O'Doyle." She said.

Cordelia felt her breath catch in her throat. "O'Doyle? As in,"

"Yes," Grace interrupted her, "I'm Doyle's sister. Or half sister I should say, my father was human."

"You're not a demon?" Wesley asked. He'd heard about Doyle, though only a vague account of what had happened.

She shook her head. "I'm fully human," she paused, "though I don't think they know that."

"They?" Angel asked. "Who's they?"

Grace shook her head. "Demons. Doyle owed them money and other things, and since his death they've turned onto my mother and I. I didn't know what else to do."

"Did Doyle tell you about us?" Cordelia asked.

Grace nodded. "He wrote us letters almost every week, mostly telling us about the things the three of you were doing. In one letter he wrote: 'If you ever need help and I'm not around, just go to Angel'. So that's what I did. I came to Los Angeles to find you." She laughed uncertainly. "Which was pretty hard to do with you being unlisted and all."

"So you say there are demons after you." Angel stood up and began to pace. "If I showed you pictures of them would you be able to identify them?"

"I don't need any pictures. They were Bracken demons, which was why Doyle felt he needed to give them whatever they requested. They were full demons though, sometimes they weren't very nice."

"What have they done?" Wesley asked.

"Terrorized us." Grace answered bluntly. "Tried to kill us. What haven't they done?"

"Will they come here to find you?" Angel asked.

Grace nodded. "Most likely. If I'm not at home, they'll find me." She sighed and shook her head. "I hated leaving mom alone at home but I didn't know what else to do. We need your help Angel."

Angel stood up and walked toward Cordelia's desk. "Don't worry. You'll get it."

* * *

"You're about my size," Cordelia said to Grace, "right?"

The other woman nodded. "Probably. We're about the same height."

Biting her lip, Cordelia turned back into her closet and rummaged through it. "I have pants, skirts, tee shirts, tank tops, sweaters. You name it, I have it."

Grace smiled at her enthusiasm. "I'm sort of cold still, so maybe pants and a tee shirt, maybe a sweater?"

"Coming right up." Cordelia said and pushed things around inside the closet. "Now, we have to find something that matches those gorgeous sandals of yours." She looked down at Grace's feet. "Just amazing, where did you find them?"

Grace looked down at her feet momentarily. "You know, I didn't buy them. They were a Christmas present from Doyle, last year."

"Oh." Cordelia's voice faltered and she turned back into the closet. "Here!" She cried suddenly. "Look, this is perfect." She held up a pair of sleek, black leather pants and a blue turtle necked sweater. "This would look just fabulous on you."

Grace cocked her head while looking at the pants. "Are you sure I'll be able to walk in those?"

"Am I sure you'll be able to walk in these?" Cordelia asked, smiling and shaking her head. "Of course I am, the boys are gonna go nuts over you."

"Boys?" Grace looked confused for a moment. "Oh, you mean Angel and Wesley?"

Cordelia nodded. "Well, yeah. Who did you think I meant?"

Grace shrugged as she took the clothes from Cordelia's hands and moved toward the bathroom to change.

"Hey Grace," Cordelia called when the other woman was near the door. Grace turned back and waited for Cordelia to speak again. "Angel's gonna help you. He won't let you down."

Grace nodded. "I know. I trust Doyle's judgement." Then she left the room and the bathroom door closed behind her.

Cordelia sighed and sat down heavily on her bed. Grace seemed really nice and like she really wanted their help but there was something that just bugged Cordelia about her. Maybe it was the fact that she reminded her of Doyle. The dark hair, the pale green eyes, even the way she walked and talked. She had a slight Irish accent, not nearly as noticeable as Doyle's but it was still there. And even though she'd only known the woman for an hour, it already hurt Cordelia to be around her. To know that she was part of Doyle and to know that Grace had a relationship with him that she would never get to have.

"Done." Grace announced, interrupting her thoughts.

Cordelia looked up in surprise and smiled widely. "You look great. Angel and Wesley are going to go psycho." She paused. "Well, not literally."

Grace's smile faded and she sat down on the bed next to Cordelia. "I like this, it's a nice distraction for a little while but it doesn't take away from the fact that my life is in danger." She sighed and stared at the ceiling. "Sometimes I just wish that I could have been part of a normal family. Had a normal brother, not a half demon. Then maybe this wouldn't be happening." Grace smiled slightly again. "But then I remember everything about Doyle and I think that if I didn't have that . . ." she trailed off, "I don't know what I'd do. It was already so hard when we heard he'd sacrificed himself for others."

Cordelia nodded. "That was Doyle, always the hero."

They both remained silent for a moment before the phone rang and Cordelia reached over to answer it.

"Hello?" She paused and nodded to herself as the person on the other line spoke. "Yeah, she's right here with me. Why?" Cordelia listened again as her face lost all expression. "Oh. Okay Angel we'll stay here. No, just come as soon as you can. Bye."

Grace was already by her side. "What is it?"

"Angel and Wesley have already seen your friends. They found out where I live and they're on their way here."

* * *

Angel and Wesley sped down the darkened highway with the top down on Angel's black convertible.

"We have to get to them." Angel said, changing lanes on the highway and swerving in front of another car.

"Yes, but I would like to get to them in one piece." Wesley said, his hands squeezing the edge of the dashboard so hard his knuckles were turning white.

Angel's face was set hard in anger and determination. He had known Doyle's sister for less than an hour and already knew exactly why this case had been brought to him. He couldn't save Doyle, no matter how hard he tried, but now, out of nowhere, his sister comes to Angel with a problem. It was his chance to make up for what happened to Doyle. If he could save Grace and her mother, then maybe he'd feel that Doyle would finally forgive him.

Angel knew that if he let the bad guys win this one, like he had with Doyle, then he would never feel free. He'd never earn his redemption, the forgiveness he had craved since regaining his soul. Now, all he had to do was get to Cordelia's apartment and everything could be right again.

"Oh dear Lord." Wesley breathed as they pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex.

The building was swarmed with Bracken demons.

"Just pretend we're here to see family." Angel said through his teeth before one of them approached the car. Angel shut off the car, got out and put up the roof before turning toward the demon coming his way.

"Hello." Angel said pleasantly before walking by him.

"Hey." The demon grabbed his arm and whirled him around to face him. "I don't think you want to go in there."

Wesley looked concerned. "But my mother lives in that building. I have to go see her every day. My brother and I."

The demon stared at them warily. "Why aren't you afraid of me?"

"Because you're a Bracken demon," Wesley began, "generally you're a peaceful race with the exception of money and personal belongings. I've known a few in my time, nice fellows actually, they,"

"Hey, shut up!" The demon yelled, still holding onto Angel's arm. "You talk too damn much and this guy doesn't talk enough. What is he? A deaf-mute?"

"No, actually," Angel turned toward him in full game face, "I'm just a vampire." His fist slammed into the demon's face and he went down. Angel caught him before he hit the ground, managing not to draw the attention of the other demons. He dragged the demon behind the car where he crouched with Wesley, trying to devise some sort of plan.

"What do we do?" Wesley asked, staring at Angel.

The vampire sighed. "We go in."

* * *

Cordelia's hand had just turned the dead bolt on her door when the banging began. Grace jumped at the first booming noise, then began to back away slowly as it continued.

"Grace, Angel is coming to help us." Cordelia said. "Don't worry, we'll be fine."

Grace nodded, "Okay, we'll be fine."

Another bang at the door began to splinter it, breaking pieces of it into the room. They hit the door again and it splintered inward even further.

"They're going to kill me." Grace said, shuddering at the thought. "They've threatened it and now they're going to do it."

Cordelia walked over to Grace and grabbed her shoulders, ignoring the splintering door behind her. "Angel is not going to let you die. He'll be here."

The other woman kept her frightened stare at the door as Cordelia tried to talk to her. When that didn't work, she grabbed Grace's arm and led her toward the back of the apartment.

"Get in there!" She demanded, pushing Grace into her bedroom.

"I can't hide in a closet." Grace said.

"Where would you rather go?" Cordelia asked.

Grace sighed, then climbed into the closest behind the piles of clothes. Cordelia followed after her and the crouched there. Grace shivered in fear, wrapping her arms tightly around her knees, which were drawn up to her chest.

"He'll be here." Cordelia promised in a whisper.

The door finally gave in and they heard it crash to the floor, then as footsteps crunched over the broken wood, Grace pushed herself further back against the wall.

The footsteps continued, walking through the apartment and branching off into different room.

A pair of footsteps entered Cordelia's bedroom, stopping near the door and the person seemed to look around. The footsteps started up again, walking away from the closest and stopping once more. Cordelia looked over at Grace, surprised to see her eyes squeezed shut and tears falling down her cheeks.

*She's terrified.* Cordelia realized. *I wonder what they really did to her.*

The footsteps started once again, coming closer to the closet door. Cordelia reached over and clasped Grace's hand, trying to be reassuring.

The feet stopped, Cordelia could see the shadow under the closet door as Grace squeezed her hand in fear.

The door opened, light pouring over them both and a Bracken demon smiled down on them.

Grace's eyes opened and she stared into the face of the demon, her demon.

"Found her." He called, still grinning.

* * *

Angel punched one of the demons in the face as Wesley tried to take one down behind him. They swarmed toward the two of them, all scrambling to get in on a piece of the fight.

"There are just too many Angel." Wesley yelled, hitting the demon hard and falling with it.

"I know Wesley," he called back, trying to hold off two demons that were attacking him, "but we have to get to them."

He heard a grunt behind him, and turned to see Wesley brushing himself off and one unconscious demon.

"Fall back!" A demon yelled from somewhere in the building. The others immediately stopped fighting and took off in all directions.

Angel and Wesley soon stood in the empty front foyer, wondering what had just happened. It took Angel only a moment to react before he turned and ran for the stair well. His feet pounded on the stairs, echoing loudly in the enclosed area. The door banged open again below him as Wesley followed.

He slammed through the door and into the hallway. He saw the splintered wood in the hall and ran toward the door. Wesley caught up with him only moments later.

"Where are they?" Wesley asked, breathing heavily.

Angel didn't answer, just stepped over the broken door and into the apartment. The front hall was empty, as was the living room. Angel went one way, into the kitchen, as Wesley went the other, down the hall.

"Angel!" He called. "In here!"

Angel turned at the sound of Wesley's voice and followed it down the hall to the bedroom. There, Cordelia was tied and gagged on the floor near the closet. Clothes were strewn around the room and the closet itself was a mess. Wesley ran to Cordelia and pulled the tape off her mouth.

"They took Grace." She said immediately. "They didn't say where, they just took her."

"Seems you put up quite the fight." Wesley commented as he untied her.

"That was Grace." Cordelia stretched her arms and legs. "She's proof that fear really does make you stronger.

"We have to find her." Angel said sullenly. "We can't let them get away with this. I promised her that we'd stop this and we will." He turned away, fearing that his friends would see the anger in his eyes. He didn't want them to see that and become frightened.

"I can find out where the Bracken demons gather in the city." Wesley offered. "Where there have been extra sightings lately."

"That's a good idea." Angel said.

Wesley walked away, leaving Cordelia and Angel alone.

"Uh, I'll go help him." She said, then ran from the room.

Angel sighed, staring out the window, into the dark. As hard as he had tried, they had still seen the anger in him. They had feared him. All he wanted was to save Grace, to save himself. He just wanted Doyle's forgiveness. That was all.

* * *

Grace was tied to a chair in an old, underground warehouse. Her head was down, her eyes closed and her shirt dirty. The demons stood around her, waiting for her to move, to try to escape.

Instead she just sat there, her head down and motionless.

"Hey there Grace." One of the demons moved forward. "My name is Allan. I was a friend of your brother." He grinned. "Your brother, the coward."

Grace clenched her fists behind the chair where they were tied and her jaw tensed.

"Hey boys," Allan called loudly, "I think we've found her weakness." He crouched down so that he was near Grace's face, then said, "You know it's true. The only reason Doyle sacrificed his life was so that he could escape all his problems."

Grace's head snapped up, her eyes open. "Doyle was not a coward." Her green eyes bore into Allan's orange ones. "He had a great life."

The demon laughed and stood up. "Yeah, just fantastic. He was a half demon who refused to acknowledge his own heritage, a half demon who scared his first wife and only true love away, a half demon who had a severe drinking problem. And a poor little boy whose sister would never accept him."

"This is not my fault." Grace growled, staring up at Allan. "I never meant for this to happen. It's not my fault!" She was breathing heavily now, her anger overwhelming her. As she stared up, her face began to change. Slowly at first, then quicker until she looked like every other demon in the room.

Allan grinned. "Welcome home, Gracie."

* * *

"Angel?" Wesley called, stepping into his office. "Are you in here?" The lights were off and he couldn't see anyone.

"Yeah, I'm here."

"Can I turn on the lights?"

"Go ahead."

Wesley flicked on the light switch to find Angel sitting at his desk, his head in his hands.

"Are you all right Angel?" He asked.

"No, I'm not all right."

"Well, you'll be glad to see this." Wesley tossed a file onto Angel's desk. "There's only been one place in the city where the Bracken demons have gathered. And people in the area have noticed an excessive amount of demons there lately. That's our place."

Angel raised his head and opened the file. "This is great Wesley, thanks."

"Are we leaving now?"

Angel stared at him. "We're not doing anything Wesley. I'm going alone."

"Angel, we've been through this before. We're a team whether you like it or not." He replied.

"This is my chance Wesley, don't you understand that?"

"Your chance for what Angel?"

"To earn his forgiveness."

Wesley looked throughly confused. "Whose forgiveness?"

Angel sighed. "Doyle's."

Wesley was silent for a moment. "Oh." He said simply. "So you think that if you can save Grave, it will make up for not being able to save Doyle."

Angel nodded miserably. "Exactly. I need this Wesley, please let me go on my own."

The other man took a step backward and smiled. He stood there for a moment longer, then turned and left the office.

Angel stood and carefully put on his duster. Then he grabbed the file off his desk and left the office in search of Doyle's sister and his forgiveness.

* * *

Grace strained against the ropes that held her as the demons around her laughed and taunted her. They made comments about her, about Doyle, about the entire family. She didn't understand what was going on. Her mother always told her that she and Doyle had different fathers but it couldn't be the truth. Allan had given her a mirror, she knew what she was.

"Stop it!" She yelled, pulling harder. "Just shut up, all of you!"

She didn't understand why the demon had chosen to rise up in her now, of all times. She had never seen it before, never even knew it was there but when Allan was talking about Doyle she had just been so mad. Something inside of her snapped, something that had been holding back the demon all these years. She was twenty four years old and she had never once seen the demon surface.

Grace stopped pulling and just slumped back against the chair in defeat. There was no way she would be able to escape and she'd have to listen to their taunts until they killed her. Angel wasn't going to come.

"Sorry to break up the party boys, but I think you have something I want," A voice said, and Grace's head snapped up with hope in her eyes.

Angel broke into the circle and grinned, he was in full vampire mode, which scared Grace for a second but Doyle had told her the entire story. She knew.

Allan motioned the other demons back and they moved further away.

"You know, Doyle was a really nice guy and I was pretty pissed off that your buddies, the Scourge, took his life." Angel began, stroking his chin lightly as he went. "But now you barge into our lives and try to take his sister too." He grinned at them and shook his head. "That, my friends, just isn't going to happen."

"And just how do you plan on stopping us?" Allan asked, stepping forward.

Angel smiled at him. "Oh, I was so hoping someone would ask that question." He turned and punched Allan in the face, causing the demon to fall. The others began to rush forward but Allan held up his hand, stopping them.

"This is between me, the vampire and the demon." He said.

"Uh, hate to break this to you pal, but you are the demon." Angel replied.

Grace had never seen him like this. He seemed like he was enjoying the fight, not brooding like he had been doing all day.

"No," Allan said, "that's the demon." He pointed an accusing finger at Grace and she turned her head downward, trying to hide from Angel.

The vampire walked to her slowly and stopped in front of her. Grace turned her head further to the side. Angel reached down and held her chin lightly, then turned her face toward him. He smiled. "Now you remind me of Doyle even more."

Then he turned and walked back over to Allan. "I think it's time you and I had a little talk. Maybe over coffee, maybe over your dead body."

Allan threw the first punch, but Angel blocked it and threw one of his own. It caught Allan in the stomach and the demon doubled over. Angel picked him up by his shirt and hurled him as far as he could, then ran to Grace.

"You're okay?" He asked, while untying the ropes.

She nodded. "I'm fine."

Allan's fists slammed down on Angel's back just as he finished untying the rope. Grace shook them off and stood up as Allan kicked Angel in the stomach, then in the side. The vampire rolled out of the way of his third kick and quickly got to his feet. Allan punched him in the face and Angel came back, hitting Allan's jaw.

"Hey, Allan!" One of the demons on the side was holding a metal pole and tossed it to Allan when he turned toward him.

Allan brought the pole down across Angel's back, then hit him hard in the stomach with him.

*I can't just sit here and watch.* Grace thought. *I have to do something.*

As Allan raised the pole to hit Angel again, the vampire kicked out his legs and they both fell to the ground. The pole rolled away and Grace ran after it, picking up the heavy piece of metal in her hands.

Angel grabbed Allan's neck and tried to break it but the demon managed to get out of his grip and kicked him in the stomach. They both stood up again and faced off.

"Make a move vampire." Allan hissed, staring at him.

Angel placed his hands on his hips. "I won't have to."

"What?" Allan turned to see the pole being brought down on his head. He yelled and raised his hands up, but then it connected with his skull, made a loud cracking noise and then there was silence.

Grace stood on the other side of the dead demon, holding the pole in her trembling hands. When she saw Allan's crushed skull and the blood on the floor she dropped the pole and placed her hands over her face, then cringed in pain when the spikes poked into her.

Angel watched as the other Bracken demons slowly left the building and he let his face melt back to normal.

One turned when he reached the door and called, "You still owe us O'Doyle." Then they were gone.

Angel walked over to Grace, who was standing near Allan's body, shaking and clenching her fists.

"Grace," he said, "if you want to control this, you have to learn to calm down."

She ignored his statement. "He said Doyle was a coward. He said that I wouldn't accept him, now I am him."

"Grace." Angel took her hands in his. "Please calm down. I know what he said to you but we both know that it's not true. Doyle was not a coward, what he did was very brave and more courageous than anyone I've ever met. And you loved him so much, I can see it in your eyes when you talk about him. It doesn't matter than you too have the demon inside you, that just brings you closer to him, lets you understand what it was like."

She stopped shaking and the tension in her hands lessened. Angel noticed the colour from her faces and hands was disappearing.

"Don't let this get to you. You can beat them." Angel moved her closer toward him, wrapping her in a hug. "You did beat them."

"I didn't know Angel." She said into his shoulder. "My mother told me that my father was human."

"She lied Grace, I'm sorry."

"I'm not." She decided and moved away from him. Her face had completely returned to normal. "She was just trying to protect me, hoping that if I didn't know about it, that it might never come out." She smiled. "But you're right. Now I know exactly what it's like to be in Doyle's skin."

"I'm sorry I let them take you." Angel said.

Grace shook her head. "There's nothing you could have done. You saved me now and that's all that matters." She smiled and leaned against Angel again.

"Why weren't you scared when you saw my face?" Angel asked.

Grace sighed. "Doyle told me everything. About the curse, about Buffy." She looked up at him. "I'm sorry Angel. I wish you could find someone to love."

Angel nodded. "So do I. But it's just an obstacle I'll have to deal with."

Grace leaned her head against his shoulder and he raised his arm to wrap it around her. "What do you say we get out of here?"

She nodded. "Sounds good to me."

"And what do you stay you stick around for a while?"

Grace looked surprised. "Are you asking me to stay in LA?"

Angel nodded. "Yeah, I think I am."

She smiled to herself as they walked toward the door. "Consider it done. Maybe I can work on finding a cure for that curse of yours."

Angel removed his arm from around her. "Go out to the car, I'll be there in a minute." He nodded toward the body. "Last minute clean up."

Grace nodded, then turned and left the building.

Angel watched her walk away and sighed. "A cure for my curse? Why did I ask her to stay? This isn't good." He looked around. "First Buffy, now this. Love at first sight. Guess I should start believing."

The End

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