From: "Pandora Pandarus" <email@example.com> Subject: [glass_onion] FIC: Chaos Theory (1/1) AtS Date: Sunday, June 09, 2002 2:52 PM
TITLE: "Chaos Theory"
FEEDBACK: Pope. Shit. Woods
ARCHIVE/DISTRIBUTION: Wherever, just ask. SUMMARY: Cordelia becoming computer-literate. SPOILERS: First few episodes of AtS Season 1. RATING: PG
DEDICATION: Thanks to Kassie for Beta-ing
DISCLAIMER: Not even slightly mine. Please don't sue.(This is one of my earlier pieces, but I wanted it to live over at Glass Onion - apologies if you've read it before.)
She'd made a point of not knowing anything about computers, because only dorks knew about computers. Fashion leaders whose biggest future worries - once they'd picked out an appropriately rich and handsome husband - involved choosing the most fabulous place to visit for their next vacation, girls like that did not need to know how to switch on a computer. In the unlikely event that the necessity ever arose, somebody else would always do it for them and be charmed by their feminine incompetence with all things electronic. This was the natural order of things.
Monsters came and monsters went, but some things remained constant. Willow Rosenberg didn't wave pompoms and Cordelia Chase didn't know which bit of a computer was called a mouse or why.
It was kissing Xander that did it. Cordelia had given the matter a lot of thought and she'd concluded that this had been the moment when she sent the world hurtling off its axis by screwing with the natural order of things in the worst possible way. From that point on all the other Bad Things unfolded naturally, inevitably. Small wonder that she soon found herself lying in a hospital bed with a hole in her side and a broken heart; small wonder that she lost her car and found herself working as a shop girl to pay for a lousy dress; small wonder that she made a fool of herself over the Watchers' Council version of Mr Bean. Small wonder that she ended up living off sandwiches purloined from parties and worrying about how to pay the electric bill. Cordelia had heard all about that butterfly-wings- causing-hurricanes stuff and she'd traced the decisive moment of doom to the instant her lips met those of Xander Lavelle Harris - an action so abhorrent to all laws of nature that it had knocked her charmed life from its predestined course altogether.
Cordy was convinced that there was some way of spinning things back on course, but she didn't have a clue what it was. You never did know until afterwards, that was the problem. 20/20 hindsight was all well and good, but what Cordelia really wanted was some way of knowing what little butterfly-flap-type thing it was going to take to get her back to the life she was supposed to be living right now. Maybe it was kissing a handsome prince instead of a frog, maybe it was being spotted at the right party or getting put forward for the right audition or maybe something else entirely.but she was sure there was something that could get her back to Plan A. Back to comfort and stability and clean sheets and maid-service and unpronounceable food and designer clothes and bills that just got magically paid. Back to the way it was all supposed to be.
She hoped that this job was it, or at least part of it. She had a nasty suspicion that she was actually miring herself deeper in all the Bad Things, but she simply needed this too badly, on too many levels, to walk away. OK, secretary of a vampire detective agency really hadn't been part of the original Cordelia Chase gameplan, but it was worlds better than anything else currently on the cards. That was how much her life sucked. A regular income. A place to go every day. People who looked at her instead of through her -who made her feel like a swan again instead of an ugly duckling. Or at least the little Irish man did, and he wasn't much but he was better than nothing. The times they were a-changing and although Cordelia Chase used to have a much better class of admirer, right now she was happy to accept even pathetic Jesse-style adoration. Her ego really needed some TLC.
Not long ago she'd been so miserable that she was resigned to doing pretty much anything Russell Winters told her just so long as he'd help her improve her circumstances. Or at least anything short of becoming Snack- Girl. Secretarial work for a big strong superhero that she could boss around seemed a much better alternative. And it felt good to have people in her life who actually knew her name and would worry if she didn't turn up to work.
As it turned out, Cordelia Chase really wasn't half bad at being the secretary of a vampire detective agency. Who knew? But she actually kind of enjoyed filing and organising stuff - making order out of chaos. If there was one thing Cordelia knew about it was hierarchies. Back when she'd had her own walk-in wardrobe Cordelia had organised its contents with military precision, dividing items by season, subdividing them by designer and sub- subdividing by colour. Granted, Cordelia's system might not be immediately obvious to other people, but there was method to it. She knew where everything was. She was also pretty good on the phone and she'd picked up decent research skills from Giles and Willow. (Not for Cordelia Chase a nailpolish-chipping combat role in the fight against Sunnydale's more mortality-challenged residents.) It was Cordy that got Angel Investigations listed in the Yellow Pages and the Pandemonium Almanac; Cordy that went out and bought Pledge and bleach and cloths (and handed her receipts to a surprised Angel); Cordy that got hold of a second-hand coffee maker and bought fresh coffee every week (and handed her receipts to a less-surprised Angel); Cordy that got business cards printed up with an attractive freehand representation of an Angel that looked nothing at all like an owl or a butterfly (and handed the invoice to a stoically resigned Angel).
But she had always made a point of not knowing about computers, and there was no getting away from the fact that a secretary or office assistant or whatever she was now really did need to be computer literate. She'd borrowed some disks from her agent's secretary, who was quite helpful and sympathetic (unlike her agent) and now had half a dozen tutorial programs, including one for touch typing. She just needed a little help getting started - and since Angel wasn't exactly a master of all things Twentieth Century, that meant asking Doyle for help.
She lay in wait for him with a cup of coffee and when he showed up Cordelia directed her most dazzling smile in Doyle's direction and watched his eyes widen.
"Hi, Doyle!" she called cheerily. "I made you a coffee. Say, is that a new shirt?" He looked pleased, and then a beat later his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"You hate this shirt, Cordelia." Duplicity was really not one of Cordy's strengths.
"Yeah, I really do," she admitted with disarming candour. "Honestly, Doyle, I've seen bag ladies with better shirts. Look, you're kind of a computer geek, aren't you? I mean, not a geek-geek, more of a seedy, downloading-naked-pictures-geek, but you're pretty good with one of these babies aren't you?"
"Good. 'Cause I was wondering if you could help me with this?" He came a little closer and looked at the screen. After a short pause Doyle said in a level voice:
"Um.it's not switched on, Cordelia."
"Well, duh! I know that, Mr Observation Skills. Which part of 'help me' was it that you didn't understand?"
"Alright, princess - sorry, sorry!" he said, bobbing forward obediently to switch it on. "Not to worry, darlin', we'll have you computer literate in no time."
The smile Doyle directed at her was actually kind of cute, and surprisingly he was both patient and good at explaining things. Cordelia found herself thinking fondly that he was really quite sweet - like a small, friendly dog that you were a bit nervous of letting near any furniture or breakables but still wanted to take home.
After a moment she remembered who else that kind of reminded her of and she was very glad Doyle's eyes were on the screen because she found herself blushing crimson. Xander Harris.
Well no way Jose - this girl was not going down that route again in this lifetime. No more fixer-uppers. From now on it was going to be men who used words like "stock options", "tax breaks" and "futures"; men who didn't think Wall Street was just the title of some 80s film. Kissing Xander Harris had got her into this fix to start with, she was sure of it. God only knew what world of trouble she'd find herself in if she ever kissed Alan Francis Doyle, so she wasn't going to start to start to think about thinking about having any kind of warm and fuzzy feelings for the little leprechaun. She was going to be Little Miss Platonic, the Duchess of Platonia as far as Doyle was concerned - it was strictly wealthy hunks only from now on for Cordelia Chase.
She'd just let him help her get the hang of using the computer, that was all.
Absolutely positively nothing else.
Nestra: I mean, Angel and Lindsey were gay, sure. But Smallville is like 52 straight minutes of gay, with gay sprinkles on top. And a side order of gay.
FayJay: Bloody right it is. Served in a sparkly pink cup by a sequin-clad rent boy singing 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' whilst being given a blowjob by a biker. I mean, we are talking The Heterosexuality Has Left The Building, boys and girls.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to FayJay
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