SUMMARY: An angsty look into the disconnection between Cordelia and Angel.
POSTED: 1 Sep 2008
FICPIC CREDIT: CydneStorm
1) I have been thinking about returning to a fic set aside some time ago, and need to practice angsty (especially Cordelia) and the A/C disconnection.
In my defense, I believed the only way to win the war was to fight evil with evil. It took me a few months, but I finally got it. Wolfram and Hart figured it out easy enough. All they had to do was show me the door. I didn’t even wait for an invitation, just kicked it down and dove into the abyss. Hell, Darla knew it all along. The evil is always in me, and unleashed it will always destroy any good I’ve accomplished.
My friends believed in me once upon a time, believed that the good in me was stronger than the evil. But given time, I proved them wrong. I strayed beyond their reach, spouting cruelties that blocked every effort to save me from myself.
And now they accept what I am. I’m not a being cursed with a demon. I am a demon cursed with a soul. Not to save me. To deliver pure, unadulterated revenge. I don’t want this soul. I never have, but with cold clarity squalling against my back I can’t risk admitting it out loud.
Almost a week has passed and as each day folds into the next, I’m more convinced that my true epiphany came too late. My mistake wasn’t abandoning the mission or diving headfirst into darkness. My fatal error was thinking I knew Cordelia Chase.
Like with Buffy, some part of me believed that Cordelia’s love out weighed any atrocity I could commit. What I failed to realize was that love comes in many forms. Buffy didn’t believe in me. She believed in us. And in order for us to survive, she separated the demon from the soul. Cordelia loved me without boundaries. She had faith in the man and the demon. Good and evil were parts of the whole and those inseparable components made me complete.
My most recent revelation, a lesson I should have learned with Buffy, is that love does not conquer all. While I was searching for comfort in the familiar darkness of my past, Cordelia found purpose in a mission that continued without me. And if that wasn’t a sufficient kick in the gut, she had a little epiphany of her own. Doyle was wrong. She might be my seer but she’s not my humanizing influence. Maybe our friend’s blemished reflection of what we would become isn’t reason enough for Cordelia to keep her life on hold while I stumble inside a dark tunnel.
I don’t know for sure what our future holds, because for the first time in our relationship, Cordelia isn’t talking to me. She isn’t at my side, encouraging me at every turn, challenging me to choose life over existence.
If this lonely niche I carved wasn’t such a pathetic place, I might smile at that word… Relationship. That doesn’t even come close to describing what we might have become, what we were already becoming. What we had didn’t need a name. It transcended any physical connection between a man and a woman. It was without boundaries, innocent and untainted, and it flourished…for a while.
Nothing is like it used to be. It probably never will be again. When Lorne said I’d find a new place, I doubt this is what he had in mind. At least I hope not, because Cordelia and I are drowning and we’re helpless to save each other.
This new place has a name, and although neither of us wants it, we have no choice but accept it. We had a friendship once. Now we have a
relationship. It may be new, but it’s not exciting and fresh. Unlike a couple, we don’t share intimacies. But like a couple, we’re trying to prevent the inevitable break up that follows unforgivable betrayal. We walk on eggshells. Each step is carefully planned to prevent even the tiniest crack because our fragile union can’t withstand another fracture. Of all the changes that have taken place, that’s the hardest one to face. Cordelia and I could actually break beyond repair.
If we don’t make it, Cordelia will be the one to leave this time. And there won’t be anything I can do to stop her. Remnants of what we once were, we wait with dread and anticipation. But as a sheen of sweat dots her brow, her breath catches and her heartbeat begins to rise; I know that at least one wait is over.
Wanting to widen the space separating us, Cordelia instinctively moves away. Eyes squinted in pain; she searches out a clear and quick path that doesn’t lead to me.
I have no right. As caution sounds inside my head, my arms wrap around her. Helpless against the vision’s wrath, she leans into my embrace. I don’t try to pick her up. I may occasionally ignore my newfound wisdom, but I’m not stupid.
Instead, I gently lower Cordelia to the floor, carefully settling her onto my lap. She tenses as my body folds around her. I stroke her cheek and pretend I’m not violating her with every caress.
Knowing Cordelia, she’s probably cursing The Powers for their bad timing. We’re alone for the first time in… well, a very long time. As odd as it sounds after everything that’s happened, we are getting to know one another. The people we have become. There’s a hopeless out there that needs our help. Cordelia will roll up her sleeves and get to work because it’s the right thing to do. I’ll do it because I need Cordelia to need me.
I shush her whimpers, ask her to let me help. This concession, Cordelia will fight until the bitter end. She doesn’t want to need me. Forcing a quick glance in my direction, eyes glazed with almost unbearable agony deliver a thousand words. Each one slices into my heart and pierces my tattered soul.
“I’m okay. Let me up so we can call the guys.” A shaky gasp follows every syllable forced from trembling lips, but it doesn’t weaken her determination to be free of me.
I can give in and let her go or I can resist better judgment. “The attack in your vision, is it happening now?” Relief running through me when I get a weary shake of her head in response, I wrap my arms tighter preventing her from pulling away.
I know Cordelia’s confused. Some part of her is probably afraid of what I might do. My head dips and I turn a blind eye to the doubts that overwhelm me. My mouth hovers over her ear and my nose nuzzles her hair. “You have to let me touch you.”
Cordelia cringes, but being a master of ignoring what I don’t want to face, I force her head against my shoulder. A breathy, “No, I don’t,” hisses against my neck and I hunch further over her until she rolls completely into the fold of my body.
When you have eternity on your side waiting shouldn’t be a scary proposition. But the truth is, unlike other immortal creatures, I have one lifetime to make this right. I can’t afford to hold my breath and wait, because I wasn’t the only one struck with a lightening bolt of clarity. It’s a moment of truth for us. Cordelia and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Angle’s tense, ready to pounce at the slightest provocation. He wants me to have a reaction to us being alone, even if it’s just to lash out at him. I guess even bad communication is better than no communication. Well, been there done that big guy. We’ve argued until I’m sick of it and I don’t intend to argue anymore. What’s the point? We might be motivated by the same mission, but our reasons are as different as night and day.
Me, I’m a realist. I have visions. I didn’t want them. Sometimes I still don’t, but nobody asked what I wanted, and it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to. If losing my champion didn’t stifle the mystical messages, I doubt wishful thinking will do the trick. If anything, the visions became harder and more frequent. But when two undead bitches wreck havoc and one undead avenger conveniently trails one step behind… Well, there’s really no need to fill in the blanks.
Epiphany my ass. Angel’s timing was pretty damn convenient if you ask me. I’ve seen enough in my young life to believe in the unbelievable, but this one is a stretch even for me. The love of his life was hurting, and suddenly, Darla obsession over and lovesick vampire with a soul to the rescue. Angel epipha-tized that he couldn’t comfort Buffy if he was dark and evil.
If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I’m tired and I’m scared. Did I mention I’m bitter? It’s not like I want to feel this way. I’m not stupid. I know holding onto the hate and resentment slows the heeling process. But it also keeps me from letting him back in, which keeps me from getting hurt again. And that isn’t something I’m willing to do, even for the mission.
I believed Doyle wanted to love me. He probably did, but evidently, trust wasn’t part of the package. Doyle never told me he was half demon. Instead, he showed me because he didn’t have a choice. Our first and last kiss wasn’t about love. It was about the visions. Maybe that ugly empath demon was right. Doyle expressed his love by giving me his greatest gift. All I know is that I’ll never know for sure.
There’s still a part of me that wants to give the visions back, but I don’t think I could stand waking up tomorrow knowing there are people out there that won’t be saved. I don’t just see their pain and fear. I feel it. Sometimes it’s almost unbearable and I worry I’m not strong enough, that The Powers know I’m not.
That’s the new me that slowly emerged over the last few months. The one I’m still trying to embrace. She’s so different, it’s scary. Sometimes I think it scares Angel too. This new me doesn’t need him, at least not like before, and I don’t think he knows how to deal with that. Angel is still looking for that little girl he kicked to the curb. If we were talking, I’d tell him to stop looking.
It’s terrifying how easy it was for Angel to backslide. I was his seer. I was supposed to be his guide. That’s the hardest part in all of this. I promised to stay with him until he shanshued, and I never saw it coming. How could I help Angel when I couldn’t see anything beyond my own tiny world?
I do wonder why The Powers didn’t send me a vision. Maybe they just expected us to take care of our own problems while taking care of each other. If Angel’s dark time was a test, we both failed. That’s right. You heard me. I might be getting in touch with my inner bitch, but I’m not so selfish or blind that I can’t admit my share of the blame.
Looking back, I don’t think I could have actually prevented Angel’s walk on the dark side. That’s the thing about clarity. It’s a blessing and a curse. Nothing I did would have made a difference, because once Darla showed up Angel became obsessed with saving her. And saving Darla didn’t require me or the visions. If anything, we got in the way.
To tell the truth, Darla never struck me as a person that wanted to be saved. Rescued from a short life of suffering maybe, but definitely not saved from an eternity of killing and maiming. I’m guessing that pissed off Angel. Because that’s when he fired us, and his obsession took on a life its own.
I’m not oblivious to his suffering. I know Angel is hurting. He didn’t just want to save Darla, he needed to save her. Darla’s salvation could prove his own was possible. But somewhere in his quest, Angel forgot that the little things are important, and he forgot that sometimes the little things require the most sacrifice. Just as Darla chose immortality over love, Angel can choose love over immortality. He just has to be willing to work for it.
Normally, all this newfound wisdom would have me feeling pretty cocky about now. Luckily, inadequacies and misconceptions have taught me a lesson. I might can help save the people in my visions, but that doesn’t mean I can save the people I love.
Once Angel realizes I can’t save him he’ll leave because he won’t need me. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Oh God, please not now. That familiar but unwelcome tingle is surging through my brain and I close my eyes. For some reason we think God hears us better if our eyes closed. It’s a myth. I’ve endured enough trial and error to know.
Deciding a casual trip to the bathroom is my best maneuver, I shift direction when Angel blocks my path. He knows what’s about to happen, and he can be a real bastard sometimes. I’ve been around him long enough to know those vamp senses can sniff out a vision twenty yards away. There was a time when that little skill was handy to have around. Lately, it’s just another pitfall in our deteriorating relationship.
Yea, we have a relationship now. It’s not much, but it fills the friendship void. I can’t walk away from the visions and redemption is the only way for Angel to earn his shanshu. So we take what life dealt us and do our best with it. That’s the foundation of this new thing we have. It may not be pretty, but there’s not a door number two for us.
We’re learning to go through the motions. Angel cradles me in his arms and I let him. He offers the soothing balm of cool fingers because it’s a means to an end. I accept it because human weakness forces me to comply. The comfort is empty and unsettling. Not what either of us wants or needs.
The span of space between us dwindles from mere inches to nothing. Wrapped in Angel’s arms, listening to my heartbeat echo inside his chest, I don’t get to grieve on my own terms.
I blink against the tears stinging my eyes, press my face harder against his chest to smother the salty aroma. He pulls me tighter against him, thinks I need him. I don’t want to need Angel, but I do. Nothing short of a miracle is going to change that.
All we have is here and now. Neither of us can afford to overreach for tomorrow. I’ve worried so much about what I should or shouldn’t feel that I’ve forgotten to question why. All I know is that if Angel and I have nothing more to lose then we have everything to gain.