Author's notes: I’ve wanted to write this since the first time I saw Full Throttle back in 2003. Finally I’ve done it. Haven’t written fanfic in forever and a half, but I hope this doesn’t have too rusty a feeling. Also, I have no idea if anyone reads Charlie’s Angels (movies) fanfic. Then again, this was written purely for my own entertainment.

The Toy Crown Incident

With a gasp, he wakes from a nightmare. It’s not the one that has plagued him since he was a child. In this nightmare, this replacement, there is no fire licking at his legs as he runs. He doesn’t hear his mother’s screams as she calls for him. He doesn’t turn around to watch her and his father die in the explosion that rocks the world until he falls.

In this nightmare, there is hair the color of fire and bright eyes – and red blood pouring from wounds as she falls to her death. Over the ledge, into black darkness, her eyes fixed on him, accusation in her eyes as though he’s failed her. O’Grady stands on the roof, triumph in his eyes, cackling.

The laughter echoes in his mind as he wakes.

With a sharp intake of breath, he returns to consciousness. A beeping noise next to his ear takes the place of O’Grady’s laughter. He frowns, forcing his eyes open to take in his surroundings. He cannot be unconscious; he knows the dangers of not constantly being aware. A single match in the wrong place, lit and falling to the ground when he’s sleeping, or a sword, glinting in the starlight – it all ends the same way: with pain.

The pain is with him now, even though he can tell that he’s been drugged to keep the discomfort at bay. Or maybe simply to keep him calm. He knows he doesn’t rest easily.

The light is dim and he is glad, feeling a headache at the base of his skull. He looks around the room, taking in each detail, from the chair to his left and the blinds across the windows, not closed. Beyond the glass panel people in white pass, doctors and nurses, all looking important and very busy. To his right a heart monitor gives off the steady beeping noise. He notes it with a speck of interest, because a heart monitor must mean he has a heart. He wasn’t sure; it’s been so long since he felt anything.

His mother’s screams mingles with O’Grady’s laughter and the angel’s bright eyes and—

No, not so long ago since he felt anything. He remembers her lips against his. She stared at him as he held her torn hair to his cheek, inhaling deeply to catalogue the smell for the rest of his life – and then she hesitantly did the same with his hair. He’s never met anyone who’s done anything like that; he’s never met anyone who has so much as tried to understand him. Not since his mother. At the orphanage, they feared his obsession with hair and ever since he left, he’s made sure to stay far away from human interactions.

Yet he couldn’t keep from kissing her on the rooftop, a force stronger than the need to hide himself away taking over. Her lips were warm against his, her entire being so filled with vitality. It was as though she breathed life into him.

He tried to tell her, tried to use words, though it was decades since the last time he spoke.

But then there was searing pain and disbelief as he stared down at his own sword, rammed through his chest – and then he’d been falling, falling, falling.

The memories were shattered after that, the world a burning inferno of blood pouring from his body. He remembers O’Grady being skewered on the same sword that had impaled him. It was luck, in a way: the sword slowed O’Grady’s fall enough that he wasn’t crushed beneath O’Grady’s weight.

At least he knows O’Grady is dead; he had watched as O’Grady’s eyes turned glassy and unseeing. The sign had crushed the last bit of life out of him.

He couldn’t remember more than glimmers after that: red and blue flashing lights that he had to assume had been ambulances and police. A woman telling him to be still. The weight of O’Grady gone. Breathing was difficult, staying conscious even more so.

He raises a shaky hand to move his hospital gown aside. His body doesn’t cooperate the way he wants it to, the way he’s used to, the way he’s taught it to. His fingers pull clumsily at the fabric of the gown. Beneath it, there is a large piece of gauze taped over the left side of his chest, which he doesn’t see so much as feel as he runs light digits across it. It’s hard to angle his head down, hard to move at all. His other arm is immovable and in the corner of his eye, he can see that it’s in a cast. Broken, then.

The door opens suddenly and there is a nurse. She says something he doesn’t care about and leaves again, returning after a moment with a woman in a white coat. Doctor something, he reads, not bothering any further than that.

“You were lucky,” the doctor tells him. “Surviving a fall like that, and the sword – you must have a guardian angel.”

He doesn’t have a guardian angel, doesn’t believe in guardian angels – if they existed, they should have protected his parents.

Red hair and a soft smile crosses his mind again, reminding him that there are other things than guardians. Dylan. Helen. Angel, he resolves to call her; the other names aren’t enough to describe her. Not that Angel is either, but it’s as close as he can get. He’s never before had a reason to work on his vocabulary.

The doctor has stopped speaking and is looking at him expectantly. He realizes she’s asked him a question. He has no intention of answering; why would he? He hasn’t spoken since he was a child.

The doctor has ugly hair, tied back in a ponytail. He doesn’t care about her, wants her gone. She tries to talk to him again and he thinks that he could kill her in a second if he was himself, but now he feels sleep wash over his senses, his eyelids heavy all of a sudden. His limbs feel as though they’re made of lead. There is darkness at the edges of his vision now, tugging at him towards comfortable oblivion. He doesn’t feel safe here, but then when did he last feel safe? The doctor’s voice blurs in his mind into a buzz and he gives in to unconsciousness, whether he really wants to or not.

new scene

He dreams of shades of red. Red blood. Red fire. Red hair, tousled in the wind.

He wakes to the beating of his heart registered on the heart monitor. It’s a little faster than he thinks it should be when he’s resting, but the dreams have him unsettled. He hasn’t dreamed so much in years.

He’s in a different room now. There is another bed, empty and perfectly made, next to his. It’s brighter and it hurts his eyes. He feels weak and hates it. He’s not supposed to be weak. He decided when his parents died that he would never again be weak, never again would he depend on anyone.

Now his life depends on the hospital staff. There is an IV in his hand, a bag on a hanger next to his bed. He wonders how long he’s been here, how long it was since he last ate. He doesn’t even know how much time has passed since he was last awake.

He stays awake longer this time, but when the nurse comes by and speaks, he still doesn’t respond. She asks for his name, for an emergency contact, for his social security and he answers her with a blank stare.

The time after that when he wakes up, they have brought in a translator who speaks four languages, maybe thinking that he’s not American. That he doesn’t know English.

He stays silent.

When he sleeps, he dreams of Angel, her red lips and red hair, her body warm in his embrace. He dreams of her smile, the smile that lights the world. Then the dreams turn into nightmares where she is the one impaled on the sword while he holds her in his arms. Or O’Grady sends her flying off the ledge. Or O’Grady strangles her before he has time to react.

Each time, she looks at him with accusation in her eyes.

When he’s awake, he wonders if she’s alive. Did she survive the fight? Even with O’Grady dead, there was the lady. The woman with the golden guns. She had the same style in her fighting as they did, was just as strong and fast, although never as beautiful as Angel.

The days pass and the nurses force him out of bed, force him to start moving around. They lessen the pain medication and the wounds burn. He has more broken bones than he first realized. When he listens to them, they tell him that he will be needing months of physical therapy. He knows he can do it faster, that he heals better than most, but then he realizes that there is no need. He doesn’t have anything waiting for him. He doesn’t know if the one thing, the one person, that he really wants, is still alive at all.

new scene

He wakes up one morning and he doesn’t realize that he’s awake at first. She’s sitting in the chair next to his bed and he thinks it’s an odd dream, because she has never been so calm in his dreams before. She’s gazing at him intently, green eyes fixed upon him. He stares back.

“Hi,” she says, as though it’s as simple as that.

She never speaks in his dreams, as mute there as he is. With a start he realizes that this is no dream and he hears the heart monitor start to beep faster as his heart races.

“No, no, don’t.” She stands up, placing a hand over his. “Don’t be— I’m not—”

She might be talking, but she can’t find the words any more than he can.

She’s stunning, like in his memories and dreams. Truly, she’s even more beautiful in real life; his imagination could never paint her a fair picture. Her hand is warm on his.

“I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner,” she says. “I thought—I didn’t know you—Charlie told me you were alive. I don’t know how he knew, or how he knew that I wanted to—but I guess he knows everything.” She’s rambling and he only hears every other word. He wonders why she thinks she needs to ask for forgiveness. He failed her, not the other way around.

But she’s alive.

“I don’t even know if you want me here.” She smiles ruefully. Her lips are painted red. He wonders what she looks like without makeup. “I—I brought you this. Since you don’t talk. I thought maybe you could write.”

She pulls a small notebook and a pen out of her bag with her free hand, the hand that isn’t on his, and places it on the blankets covering his abdomen.

“I shouldn’t even be here. You’re a bad guy.” She smiles again. “But Alex says I always fall for bad guys.”

She sits down again, letting go of his hand. He feels the loss of her touch as though someone stripped him of a body part and he marvels at how quickly she has made him go from hating the sensation other people close to him to craving it. Then again, he still hates others; he just wants her.

She looks uncomfortable. She looks around the room, taking in the boring interior that he has stared at for days and weeks. She’s dressed in all black, her t-shirt tight and her clunky heels high. For the first time since waking up in the hospital, he feels self-conscious, lying there in the unshapely hospital gown which shows too much skin. His hair is, no doubt, in disarray, although a nurse combs it once a day with a plastic comb.

Angel’s black attire contrasts against his pale white skin, a mockery of good and evil. She is pure, white, her soul unblemished even though she can render a man or six unconscious with her hands bound behind her back. He is darkness, evil tainting his soul, a paid killer although his job has never been about money, but about trying to feel.

He almost gasps under the intensity of the feelings she brings forth, like no kill has ever done. No amount of adrenaline during fighting stands a chance against this onslaught.

She stands, looking indecisive. “I should go. I shouldn’t have come. You don’t want me here, obviously – I didn’t mean to intrude. I just wanted to know that you were all right. Or that you will be, I guess.”

She trails off and with a final gaze at him, she turns to leave.

He’s not even aware of making the noise; it sounds strange to his own ears. Like an injured animal, a frightened child. All he knows is that he doesn’t want her to go.

She turns and stares at him. “Do you—want me to stay?”

She sounds hesitant, as though she doesn’t realize that anyone would be lucky to have her so much as look at them.

He tries to form the word, tries to say it out loud. Yes. It isn’t a hard word, a single syllable, but after years and years of silence, it is impossible. He gives a minute nod instead, that too more difficult than it should be. He hates admitting weakness, but it would be worse to have her walk out.

“Okay.” She gives him a half smile and returns to her seat. He wants to touch her again, but can’t figure out how to communicate that to her. He has no right to ask anything of her. He’s tried to kill her – it was nothing personal, just a job, but he doubts she sees it that way. Then again, she’s here now.

“I wanted to thank you,” she says once the silence has stretched into minutes. Her words surprise him. “You saved my life. Seamus would’ve killed me if it wasn’t for you.”

He remembers the light in O’Grady’s eyes flickering out as death claimed him. He thinks that he has never met anyone who deserved death more.

“I mean, you’ve tried to kill me too.” She rolls her eyes with a contrite smile, continuing, “But like I said, that’s pretty much a necessity to get me interested.”

I always fall for bad guys.


He wants to ask what those words mean, but he doesn’t dare.

He grabs the pen with awkward fingers, not knowing what he’s going to write but knowing he has to tell her. Something. Anything to keep her here.

What comes out is, I’m sorry.

He holds it up, his hands shaking.

She has followed each movement with interest and now she gazes at him with unreadable, beautiful eyes. Her hair hangs in red waves around her face and he longs to reach out to touch it. Stroke it. Smell it. He remembers his mother’s hair, black like his own, remembers playing with it when he was just a little child. She let him braid it for her and he always loved the texture of it beneath his fingertips.

“You didn’t do any permanent harm to anyone I care about,” she says quietly. “Fighting you was a challenge and—well, fun. And Alex told me that you helped her. Just like you helped me.”

He remembers fighting the Japanese girl in the castle. She’s as good as Angel at fighting, all passion and black hair spread like a halo around her head.

He almost died there in the castle as well, only just managing to throw himself off the side of the building before the explosion. Vivian Wood hadn’t been so lucky as they’d jumped; the chain around their waists had snapped her back and she’d hung limply like a broken doll while he had been able climb down, worse for wear but still alive.

He’s survived more things than anyone ever should.

She speaks again. “I’m not the one you should apologize to; I’m sure there are lots of kids out there who are fatherless because of you.”

He’s always pushed such thoughts out of his head. In the search to feel something, he has pressed aside that what he does has consequences for other people and not just for the ones he’s killed. He has given money – a lot of it – to the orphanage where he grew up, perhaps in an unconscious effort to weigh up for the damage he has done.

He looks down at his hands, hands that have done such damage. Now simply holding a pen hurts. Maybe it’s payback.

Self-pity has never helped. He pushes the depressing feelings aside resolutely. There has been more tragedy in his life than he cares to recall, but all that has taught him is that there is no use wallowing in it. It doesn’t get him anywhere.

He writes instead, Police? in shaky letters that a six-year-old would have done better.

She reads the word, frowns as she deciphers it, and then shakes her head no. “You helped us, this time. And I’m not doing the police’s job for them. Not this time.”

He wants to tell her that he isn’t good. That he is truly right up there with the worst of them; up there with O’Grady, although with class instead of looks.

But he looks at her and he knows that she already knows all that. She knows what he’s capable of, has fought him and survived, and she’s still here. She kissed him willingly up on the rooftop, even though that was probably more because of the adrenaline coursing through her body, than because she felt the same connection that he did. Then again, she is here now, sitting at his bedside, his black-clad Angel.

“Listen, I—” she starts suddenly, but trails off just as quickly, looking to the side with indecisiveness written across her features. She takes a deep breath and looks at him resolutely. “I don’t know what happened on the rooftop, but—that kiss. It was—” She hesitates again and he finds himself holding his breath. It feels like waiting for absolution, though he’s never believed in such a thing. Finally she exhales. “—sensational.”

It’s like the world opens up around him. Like he can suddenly see colors in a world that has always been monochromatic grey. He breathes again, lighter now than he can ever remember.

She stands. Her fingertips brush the back of his hand and send electrical shocks through him.

“Don’t pull my hair, okay?” she asks. “You can touch it all you want, but I’ll be bald before you know it if you keep pulling it out. And it hurts.”

He gives a single nod, mouth dry. He’s never felt this way before. Distantly, he hears the heart monitor racing beyond the rush of blood in his ears. She leans over him, allowing her hair to fall across his skin where it is naked and exposed by the hospital gown. It tickles him in that way that it always does, sending spikes of pleasure through him. He feels himself harden, all the self-control he has worked up for decades now gone. He hopes she doesn’t notice, or if she does, that she takes it for what it is: pure want for her.

Her lips meet his and she’s so warm and deliciously sweet-tasting that he doesn’t think he’ll ever get enough. She smells of strawberries. She opens her mouth, running her tongue across his lower lip and taking it into her mouth, sucking gently. A moan escapes him and he thinks briefly that she brings sounds out of him like no one else. Maybe, with her, he’ll talk again.

Then the thoughts are gone as she prods his lips open, her tongue mapping the landscape of his lips and teeth and then, when the shock releases him, his tongue duels with hers in a dance not unlike what they’ve done when they’ve fought in the past, but slower now. Needy but content to continue on. Their breaths come in short bursts but neither break contact. He doesn’t know what he’s done to deserve this – in truth, he really doesn’t deserve this – but he gladly takes what she has to give and tries to give back with equal fervor.

She changes her weight and a groan of pain escapes him when she puts pressure on his barely mended ribs. She draws back and he mourns the loss of her warmth.

“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” She sounds worried. He wants to comfort her, wants to assure her that he’s all right, he’s fine, come back.

She pushes aside the hospital gown instead to see the bruised ribs and bandage across his chest. He has barely looked at himself, hardly ever does, but he knows his skin is colorful, purple and blue and green, bruises in various stages of healing. Beneath them are scars from his life, knives and bullet wounds and marks of fighting. He knows it isn’t pretty, but then he’s never been a good-looking man.

“I still can’t believe you survived,” she says. “I know we’ve both survived some pretty amazing stuff, but still—that fall. And the sword. And then I pretty much threw Seamus on top of you. And the sign.”

He doesn’t know either. The doctors have spoken about guardian angels enough times. They’ve said things about the sword somehow managing to avoid his heart, aorta, and the major arteries, which saved his life for sure, but he hasn’t listened much. No one knows how he survived the fall.

All thoughts are banished from his mind when she climbs very carefully onto the bed. Taking care not to put any pressure on his ribs or touch any broken bones, she aligns herself at his side, her head resting on his shoulder so that her hair floats out across the pale skin of his chest and arm. He barely has to turn his head to bury his nose in her locks. His good arm wraps around her and it feels unfamiliar but so good. He’s never held anyone before and yet she fits so well to his side as though she was created just for him.

She sighs softly, her breath ghosting across his skin, and an arm sneaks across his abdomen to rest there lightly.

He wonders when he’ll wake up to realize that this is all a dream; he’s sure he will. He isn’t worthy of anything so good and perfect as her. But he’ll keep her, hold her, memorize each line of her body for as long as the dream stays. He’ll live for her, breathe for her, for as long as she will have him.

Sleep claims him once more and he tightens his hold on her minutely, hoping against hope that she will still be there when he wakes up.

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