Broken Hearts


AUTHOR: NOBODY’S ANGEL (aka Lily)
SUMMARY: Angel Investigations deal with the possibility of losing the heart of their family.
RATING: R
POSTED: 19 July 2003
CATEGORY: ANGST
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A
WARNINGS: None Listed
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: None
STATUS: Complete


Part 1: Desperate Deception

Cordelia plastered on her dazzling smile and walked out of the bathroom. She didn’t want them to know how bad things had gotten. They had all been so worried when Angel had found her smorgasbord of painkillers, and she didn’t want to relive that conversation again. Actually, you couldn’t really call it a conversation. It was more along the lines of Angel screaming and yelling at her for not telling him what was going on and that he thought they trusted each other.

“We do trust each other. I just…I didn’t want to worry you.”

“Worry me? And finding out when you slip and drop a whole pocketful of pill bottles on the floor isn’t going to worry me? Cordelia, this is serious.”

“You don’t think I know that?! You don’t think I’ve spent the last year trying to fix things, to make all of this stop happening?!”

“Why didn’t you let me in? I could have helped you.”

“And how did you plan on helping Angel? By brooding incessantly about my coming death? Yeah, a lot of help that would have been.”

“I could have tried to find a way. The Powers-“

“Been there.”

“Lorne-“

“Tried that.” She sighed and sat next to Angel on her couch, touching his knee softly. “Angel, there’s nothing we can do. The doctors have been over everything, and technically, I shouldn’t even be alive right now. I’m their miracle girl.”

“You’re my miracle girl,” he corrected softly.

Cordelia rolled her eyes and rested her head against his shoulder. “I don’t want things to be different between us Angel. I like us. I like curling up with you and watching a movie. I like the way that you make me feel safe when you’re holding me in your arms. You make it all go away.”

Angel wrapped his arms tightly around her small form and held her tightly to his chest. ‘But it’s not all going to go away Cordy. It’s not going to go away until you go away and I’m alone,’ he thought to himself.

“Are you okay?”

Cordelia had grown to find comfort in his protectiveness. He’d ask her the same question every time, even though he knew the answer. No, she wasn’t okay. Each vision was bringing her closer and closer to her own death, yet each one left her wondering when the next one would come and if it would be The One.

“I’m fine,” she answered with a bright smile.

He knew she was lying. He knew she always lied when he asked the question. Everyone knew, but no one could bear to not have him ask it or her answer. It was their tiny bit of comfort in the cloud of despair that was hovering just overhead.

“Do you need anything?”

“A couple gallons of Ben and Jerry’s, a long, relaxing massage, and an extended vacation away from all of my troubles, with my closest friends of course.” Her smile was gorgeous and genuine, but beneath it were those troubles she spoke of.

Angel wished he could grant each and every one of her desires, but he couldn’t. He could do the ice cream and the massage, but the extended vacation? It broke his heart knowing that the only extended vacation she would ever received would be her last, and it wouldn’t be with her closest friends.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he grinned at her.

He was being so strong for her and she loved him for it. He had respected her wishes and hadn’t changed his treatment of her, at least not completely. She wasn’t oblivious to how much tighter he seemed to hold her, as if afraid if he let her go, she’d be gone forever; or how at the same time, his embrace seemed softer, trying to soothe everything away and let her be free of her fears. His smile more frequent but sadder, and his brooding was less often but deeper.

She let him support her, as he knew she needed and he walked her to the couch. The action suddenly seemed so strenuous and she stumbled on her own feet. He was there to catch her, as always. She looked up to see the worry creeping into his eyes and she clutched his waist tightly.

“Cor?” He pulled her up and scooped her into his arms, brushing the hair from her face tenderly. He could see the fatigue on her face and feel it in her body. ‘This is it, isn’t it? Please don’t let this be it,’ he pleaded silently with whoever might be listening.

Even the act of breathing was now a chore as she lay in Angel’s arms limply. Her chest seemed to be too small, constricting her heart painfully. She heard him say her name, but all of her dwindling energy seemed to be focused on keeping her lungs and heart working. ‘Please don’t let this be it.’ Her eyes slid shut, her silent plea echoing Angel’s.

Angel listened intently to her erratic breathing and fluctuating heartbeat, the tears forming in his eyes. As long as she remained breathing, he held out hope. As long as he could hear that faint heartbeat, there was a chance of bringing her back. The members of Angel Investigations watched on helplessly as the heart of their team slipped into her desired retreat.


Part 2: Sick Irony

“How could we not know? I mean, this is, how did she hide this from us? Cordy is strong and all, but this? I mean, the visions were one thing because she was taking them pills an all, but, there wasn’t anything to stop this from affecting her,” Fred rambled as she paced in front of Wesley and Gunn.

“Fred, please. We couldn’t have known. I doubt even Cordelia knew about this.” Wesley rubbed his temples tenderly and replaced his glasses.

“We were all too caught up to notice what was happening to her. We failed her,” Gunn muttered, resting his head in his hands, his voice totally void of emotion.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Things could-“

“Could what English? Get better? In case you haven’t noticed, we’re sitting in a hospital waiting room while the strongest member of our family is lying in a bed, totally helpless and dying! She can’t open her eyes and she can’t talk to us, because of what? Because of the visions that the Powers send her are killing her? No! Because some stupid idiot up there decided it would be funny to mess with her heart! Yeah, the sick irony there! She’s the heart of Angel Investigations! She’s the heart of our family and now those doctors are saying that her heart is useless!”

Wesley knew there was no trying to calm the young man down as he finally came to life, his voice growing louder and louder, yelling in the former Watcher’s face. Fred shrank back and felt the tears pricking in her eyes. She hated to see her family falling apart. She had just come to trust and love them for saving her and taking her in and now everything was crumbling. Gunn was either withdrawn and silent or raging. Wesley was rapidly losing hold on anything that resembled control and composure.

And then there was Angel. She hadn’t seen the vampire leave the hospital room in the twenty-four hours since they had brought Cordelia in. She hadn’t even seen him move unless it was to brush her hair out of her face. He was stoic and silent, her ever-ready guardian. She knew it had to the worst for him.

In the time since they had returned from Pylea, she had watched as her two warriors had grown closer and closer. She had been jealous at first, at least she thought she had, somewhere in the frantic scribbling on the walls, but she soon saw that the two had always been destined for each other. She could see it in the way they looked at each other. If only they had seen it.

Fred slipped away from Wesley and Gunn and peeked into Cordelia’s room. Angel was unmoved, still sitting in the spot where he had been for so long now. His eyes seemed to be searching for any thread of hope and she saw him squeeze Cordelia’s hand gently. She wished she could comfort him in some way, but there wasn’t any. All of them had tried to talk to the vampire, but he didn’t even acknowledge their presence. She closed the door silently and walked down the hallway to the cafeteria.

***

Angel sat beside her bed, listening to the constant hum and beep of the machines in the room with her. He held her hand tightly and willed her to come back to him. All this time, they had been too fixed on the visions and what they had been doing to her that not one of them noticed anything else. Apparently she didn’t even notice what was happening apart from the cat scans.

He felt absolutely helpless. At least if it were the visions doing this to her, he could blame himself. He could hate himself for dragging her into this life and taking away her human innocence and ignorance of the things that go bump in the night. But this? There was nothing he could do about this. This was good old rotten luck. She was dying of a human disease and it had nothing to do with the Mission or the Powers, or him. It was the course of human nature and here she lay before him, and there was nothing he could do to make the pain go away.

Why did it have to be her heart? Why couldn’t it have been something that medication could have fixed? They had ways of fixing human diseases now. They had chemotherapy that could eradicate cancers, but what did they have for this? What did they have for a girl that had a silent killer, a hole in her heart? What did they have for the woman that he had fallen in love with when her heart wasn’t strong enough to keep beating on its own any longer?

Angel rested his forehead against the hand that held hers. He turned her hand over and traced the light lines on her small palm. A Gypsy had once told him that he had an unusually long Life Line before he had killed her. Now looking at Cordelia’s, he noticed how short hers seemed in comparison with his own.

It was amazing how different they were. It had taken him so long after he had regained his soul to accept what he was and his path. She had done it so much quicker. When they had first run into each other in LA, he never would have imagined they’d be where they were in two and a half years. But she had pushed herself into his life in her uniquely Cordy way and never left, not even when he had fired her.

He had been hesitant when she had inherited the visions from Doyle, not sure how a shallow, self-centered Sunnydale snob was going to handle the pain and suffering of the helpless day after day, but she surprised him once again. She quickly accepted her lot in life and never took the easy way out, even when it was offered to her, unlike him trying to run away from the Mission by sleeping with Darla.

She had been so much stronger than he had and what did it get her? A dying brain and failing heart. Where was the fairness? Why did she have to be punished for his crimes? Why did she have to suffer constantly for his stupid mistakes and his lousy redemption?

Redemption.

What would his redemption be without her by his side? He knew that she may not have been alive to see it all along, but he had hoped that she might. He had hoped that maybe, somehow, he would convince the Powers that he was worthy to spend a mortal life with this incredibly strong, selfless young woman. But now that dream was obliterated.

Angel rested his cheek on her small palm and let the tears fall, soaking the blanket. He didn’t want to live any life without her. He had to find a way to save her and he didn’t care what the price.


Part 3: Grasping for Hope

Angel had become to find comfort in the constant beeping, the only sound that kept him company. It meant that she was still alive and had a chance of coming back to him. But would she want to come back? What if she was someplace better? Someplace without demons and killer visions. Someplace without him?

Angel heard the doctors whispering outside the door, trying to conceal the facts from the strange man that never left the young woman’s side, but he could hear them perfectly. Surgery. Not just any surgery. Open-heart surgery. Angel’s own heart plunged into his stomach. They were going to cut her open, mar her beautiful, flawless skin.

He felt his anger rise inside of him, anger at himself for not having a reason to be angry with himself. He felt like it should be his fault. If Cordelia was dying, it was suppose to be because of him. That would give him a reason to feel guilty. It would give him a reason to go to the Powers and tell them to help her and stop killing her. It would make him not feel so helpless.

But it wasn’t his fault. It didn’t have anything to do with him. It was something that had gone unnoticed her entire life. And now, when they had all been searching for a way to prevent the visions from killing her, this ups and kicks him in the ass. She was a human. Mortal. She was dying and there was no way for him to stop it. He was helpless.

He hardly moved when a nurse entered to take Cordelia’s vitals. She gave Angel a sympathetic smile and went about her work, leaving them alone again.

Fred waited around the corner until the nurse passed, listening intently as she spoke with one of her co-workers. “It’s so romantic. He hasn’t left her side once since they arrived. He never takes his eyes off her, like he’s trying to talk to her silently. He’s so devoted to her.” Fred smiled sadly at the woman’s words. “It’s so tragic though. I mean, most likely, she’ll need a transplant, but what if they don’t find a donor in time? I don’t know if I’d be able to handle seeing the heartache in that boy’s eyes.”

Fred began shaking and rushed past the two nurses hastily, pardoning herself offhandedly as she ran into the waiting room. She set the cups of coffee on the table and picked up a forgotten magazine, digging a pen from her pocket.

Wes glanced up and watched as the girl began scribbling frantically on the magazine, muttering to herself quietly. He let out a defeated sigh, knowing that the inevitable had happened. Fred’s fragile hold on reality had finally snapped and she was reverting.

Gunn looked at the abandoned cups of coffee and shook his head. He knew that Fred had only been trying to help by constantly going to the cafeteria for coffee, and as a result, over a dozen untouched cups sat on the table, filled to the brim with cold, stale coffee. He turned his gaze to her rushed movements and tried to get her attention. “Fred.” When she didn’t answer, he raised his voice slightly. “Fred.”

“Not now Charles. I need to help. I have to help. I have to find the way to help. Science will help. It has to help.”

Gunn shook his head and leaned against the wall again. He knew he wasn’t going to get through to Fred anytime soon and he just didn’t have the energy to try. All he could think about was the dying girl in the Intensive Care Unit that he had grown to love as a sister. He didn’t want to lose another sister, but this was so beyond his area of expertise. He didn’t know anything about medicine or science.

Science.

Science will help.

“Fred. You want to help Cordy, right?”

“Not now Charles-“

“Fred, listen to me. I need you to come with me. We have some work to do.” He took the magazine from the girl’s hand, tucked it in his back pocket and helped her up. “Stay here Wes. Call if you find out anything.”

“Where are you going?” the other man asked wearily.

“Back to the hotel. Got some shit to research.”

***

“No, I haven’t heard anything yet.”

“It’s been three fucking days! How could they not know anything yet?” Gunn yelled into the phone. “What are they doing, waiting for fucking Christmas?”

“Gunn, please stop yelling…Gunn…for the sake of my eardrums, Gunn, stop your yelling!” Wesley blushed slightly and waved an apology to everyone else in the waiting room before turning his attention back to the phone. “They just took Cordelia for pre-op testing and set the time for surgery. They plan on opening her up to see the extent of the damage and then go from there. There’s nothing else we can do right now. We must wait and see what condition her heart is in.”

“This sucks.” Gunn paced in front of the lobby desk, much to Fred’s irritation.

“Charles, please stop that. It’s makin’ me dizzy and if I’m dizzy then I can’t concentrate on researchin’ and if I can’t concentrate on researchin’ then I can’t help Cordy and if I can’t help Cordy then she’s gonna die and then what will happen to Angel and what will happen to us? We won’t have a job, that’s what! And we won’t have Cordy an’ I don’t want Cordy to die because she’s the nicest, sweetest girl I’ve ever met since I came back from Pylea, well, when she wasn’t callin’ me Crazy Taco Lady an’-“

“Fred, I’ll stop pacing if you stop rambling,” he offered with a small smile.

“Sorry,” she smiled back and looked at the computer screen. “Ask Wesley how Angel is.”

“Fred wants to know how Angel is.”

“The same. He’s still sitting in his chair, waiting for them to bring her back down. He hasn’t moved, he hasn’t eaten, and he hasn’t spoken.”

“Tell him we’re looking into things as we speak. Gotta go English. Fred may have found something.”

The line went dead before Wesley could ask what and he stared at the receiver for a moment before returning it to its cradle. He sat down in the plastic covered chair, annoyed with its squeaking every time he moved. What he wouldn’t give for a nice leather easy chair about now. Something soft and relaxing, something to completely contradict the harshness of the past three days.

Wesley sat up straighter when he saw Cordelia’s bed being wheeled back down the hallway toward her room. When they approached the door, he stood and walked to her side. She looked unchanged. Still small and helpless, and completely unaware of the seriousness of her condition. ‘Maybe it’s better that she isn’t awake,’ he thought to himself and smiled down at her sadly.

He followed the staff back into her room and watched as they worked silently, replacing all of her equipment to where it had been before her tests. They moved around Angel without making much note of him being there, as they were used to him never moving now. Wesley shook his head and looked up as her doctor entered the room.

“What did you find out?” he asked nervously.

She looked from Wesley to Angel and then back again. “Can I speak with you outside?”

Wesley felt like telling her that it didn’t make any difference, but she’d never understand. “Of course.”

“It’s not good,” Dr. Hulsey told him in a hushed voice. “The extent of the damage is just too severe. She needs a transplant.” Wesley’s face went ashen and the doctor nodded solemnly. “I’ve put her on the list, but it’s a matter of finding a match. We can only pray that we find one in time.”

“How much time…?” Wesley wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer.

“In the state she’s in now, she’ll never wake up. Her heart is barely keeping the most basic of body functions working. Maybe a month.”

Wesley walked slowly back into the dark room and glanced at Angel. The vampire was so tired, he could tell. His eyes were red and heavy and his once stiff posture was now slouched and weakening. His friend was breaking down, and Wesley wasn’t sure if he could handle it. It was all he could do not to give up already, but if Angel were to slip away then he’d be truly lost.

“Angel, why don’t you go get some rest. I’ll watch over her.”

“I won’t leave her Wesley.”

“She’s not going anywhere Angel. She’ll be here when you get back. She needs you to be strong too.” Wesley stood beside Angel’s chair and spoke to him quietly. “You need to sleep and eat.”

“You’ll stay with her?” Angel asked, knowing that he was right. He had never been as run down as he was at that moment. He had heard what Dr. Hulsey had said, but he wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. He was too tired to deal.

“Every minute,” Wesley reassured and helped his friend stand up.

Angel looked down over Cordelia sadly and ran a finger through the fringes of her hair. “I’ll be back soon Cor, I promise. Just don’t…stay here, okay? You have to stay here.” There was a hitch in his voice and Wesley felt his own tears prick at his eyes.

Wesley took up Angel’s vigil at Cordelia’s bedside and held her small hand gently in his own. She looked so peaceful, something he hadn’t seen her look in the entire time he had known her. Her hair, although limp still held the shine it always had. He knew if he could see her eyes, they would still be full of life. She’d never give up, and neither would he.

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled as the memories came back to him. He remembered when he first arrived in Sunnydale and she had been the only one to welcome him. Of course, back then she had been a somewhat stuck up rich high school girl, but he had felt something for her even then. He had known it was wrong to have feelings for a mere teenager, but he was a male and she was…she was Cordelia Chase.

She had gone out of her way to seduce him, and even as he fought it in the beginning, he had fallen for her. He had fallen for her smile and the mischievous sparkle in her eyes. He had fallen for her unique take on the horrors of the unseen world and her ability to render even the strongest fighter speechless.

Cordelia had never ceased to amaze him. In LA, she had welcomed him once again with no questions asked and acted as if he had never left. He had watched on helplessly as she had painful vision after painful vision, always a smile on her face shortly after. She was the strongest person he had ever met, even if it was not in physical strength. Her strength was the kind you couldn’t build. You either had it or you didn’t. And Wesley prayed that he did.

His gaze went back to her hand that lay in his lifelessly and he tried to swallow the lump in his throat. His feelings for Cordelia Chase had never changed. He was still in love with her, as he always had been, but he knew that she wasn’t for him. Her heart belonged to someone else, and he could accept that. He could accept it if she would only just pull through. If he couldn’t have her himself, he wanted Angel to be with her. Someone had to be with her. She needed to be happy, and she needed to be with them.

“Don’t give up Cordelia. We’re all praying for you. Just don’t give up,” he pleaded and squeezed her hand softly, hoping for any response. He received none.


Part 4: Flowers, Friends and Family

Gunn walked into the dark room and froze at the sight of her. She was smaller than he had remembered. And paler. She didn’t look real, lying in that bed. She looked like a doll, skin made of porcelain and fragile to the touch. He walked to her side and picked up her hand gingerly. He was afraid if he held her too tightly, she might break under him.

“Cordy,” he finally spoke, hoping she could hear him. “Cordy, why is this happening? You aren’t supposed to leave us.” He rested his forehead against the fingers he held in his own.

“Dammit Girl, I already lost one sister and you’re going to make me do it again?!” His voice was hushed but full of rage. “How can you do this to me?! How can you leave me like this?! Whose ass am I supposed to kick for this?! Don’t you know that if you have to die, you have to do it in a way that leaves me and Angel an ass to kick?! That’s how we operate!”

Gunn lifted his head and looked at their hands. The contrast between them was so striking yet they couldn’t have been closer even if they were biological siblings. Cordelia had become the little sister he was born to protect.

“I’m so sorry I failed you Cordy. I failed both you and Alana. I was supposed to protect you and look what I let happen.”

“I brought you something. It’s Connor’s teddy bear. Lorne said he’s been asking for you. Connor, not the teddy bear. He keeps calling for Mama. You’re his Mama now, you know that don’t you? Are you going to make him grow up without the greatest Mama he could ever have?” Gunn laid the soft bear into the crook of her arm and tucked the blankets around them both.

“I can’t believe you’re going to just give up like this. I thought you were a fighter. Fight Girl. Fight to come back to us. That baby boy needs you to fight. Fred and Wes need you to fight. Angel needs you to fight, and I need you to fight. I refuse to lose another sister so soon!” he told her, his determination to save her rekindled by his own speech.

“I need to get back home now Cordy. I know Fred wants to come see you too, so I’ll go and continue our research. Yeah, that’s right Barbie; you’ve turned me into a research guy. Laugh it up.”

Gunn kissed her forehead softly. “Come back to us Girl. Don’t make me kick your ass into it.”

***

“Hiya Cordy. I brought you some flowers not that you’ll really be able to enjoy them what with the coma an’ all but I thought they’d make the room pretty an’ you deserve to be in a pretty room an’ all because you were always so beautiful an’ strong an’ I don’t want you to die Cordy!” Fred rambled as she ran to Cordelia’s bedside. She felt the tears streaming down her face uncontrollably and made no move to wipe them away.

“Charles an’ I have been working nonstop looking for someway of helping you. Who would have thought that something non-mystical would give us such trouble! We have to help you though. You an’ Angel are meant to be together. Moira and Kyerumption.”

Fred sat up and brushed Cordelia’s hair with her fingers. “I see that Charles brought you Connor’s teddy. He’s getting so big Cordy. He’s trying to talk. He only says Mama right now, but I think it’s ‘cause he misses you so much. Angel misses you too. Wesley made him come home to get some rest, but I don’t know how much he actually got. He was pacing most of the day, an’ I still haven’t seen him eat.”

She smiled slightly at her friend’s and continued to manipulate the flyaway hairs into the style Cordy would have wanted. “I had a dream last night when I fell asleep on my books. I dreamt that you and I were having tacos an’ Connor was walking around an’ giving Angel a hard time, playin’ an’ all. It was such a nice dream. I want it to be real.”

Fred knew she was rambling, but she didn’t care. It made her feel safer if she was talking to Cordy. She couldn’t be in the room with her if things were all silent except for the beeping. She needed to hear a voice, even if it was her own. “Remember how we talked about taking Connor shopping? You said you were going to take him to an expensive baby boutique an’ not tell Angel. I want to do that Cordy. I want to do that with you. So you have to come back, okay?”

She looked at Cordelia’s fingernails and sighed. “You’ll need to go for a manicure again. Maybe I might go with you this time. I was too freaked last time, being Cave Girl. An’ maybe we can make it a girl’s day. You can show me all the best places to shop, we’ll have lunch, I’ll even let you choose something other than tacos! Sound good to you?”

Fred looked up as a nurse opened the door and walked in with a large bouquet of flowers. “These came for Miss Chase,” she told the young girl quietly and set them on the table.

“Thank you,” Fred politely told the nurse and pulled the card from its holder. “I’ll read the card to you Cordy. It says:

Please get well soon Cordy. Everyone in Sunnydale is pulling for you and we all hope to see you when we get there next week. Love, Xander, Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Giles, and Spike. P.S. Spike doesn’t want to be included in the “Love” part, but it’s too late, already been written, so there you go!

They’re a strange bunch,” Fred laughed slightly and put the card back into place. “I wish you could see these flowers. They’re so beautiful.”

The door flew open again and Gunn ran in, pulling Fred into a tight hug. He pulled her from her seat and spun her around excitedly. “You did it Baby! You’re a genius, you know that?!”

“W-what? Charles, what are you talking about?” she asked in confusion at the huge smile on his face.

“I’m talking about this!” He held out the magazine she had been writing on the day they had brought Cordy into the hospital.

“What about it?”

“Look!” He pointed to the picture of a young woman holding a little girl. Fred looked at the woman and the story it pertained to. The woman had been in an accident and was being kept alive on life support. Her family was going to donate her working organs after they let her go…

“Today?” Fred ripped the magazine out of Gunn’s hand. “They’re turning off the machine today?!”

“Yes! And I already called. She’s a perfect match for Cordy!” Gunn told her happily.

“Did you show this to the—“

“Doctors? Yup! As soon as they’ve removed the heart, it’s on its way here. Fred, it’s the answer we’ve been looking for, and you had found it at the beginning!”

Fred smiled brightly and looked down at Cordy. “You hear that Cordy? We’re getting you a new heart so you can get better an’ come home with us!”

***

“I want to be in there with her!”

“Angel, you can’t go in with her. The doctors need room to work,” Wesley tried to reason with the vampire calmly. “They’ll keep us informed, I’m certain of it.”

“I don’t want to be kept informed! I want to be by her side like I promised her I always would be!” Angel sank into the plastic chair and buried his face in his hands. He had been enraged when the nurses had told him that it might be wise to say anything they needed to say to her before she went in for surgery. There was no way he was ever saying goodbye to Cordelia. He’d move earth if it meant keeping her as part of their family.

Fred sat next to Angel and put her hand on his shoulder. “Don’t give up Angel. She has a chance of pulling through this. Sure there’s a chance that she might not, but when has Cordy ever gone with the not pulling through option? Do you think Cordy’s going to give up this easily? Do you think she’s going to let you off the hook without a fight?”

Angel glanced at Fred and gave her a small smile. “I think she’s rubbing off on you,” he told the young scientist quietly.

“And I take that as a compliment. I wish I could be as strong and beautiful as Cordy. And I know I’ll have her to teach me. I refuse to believe that she won’t pull through.”

Wesley and Gunn watched silently as Fred slid easily into the role of Angel’s voice of comfort and reason. They both new that she didn’t want to have to fill that role, but when necessary, she’d do the job, but only until Cordy was well enough to do it again of course.

“Fred is right Angel. Cordy won’t give up without a fight and we cannot give up on her.”

“I know Wes. And I’ve never given up hope. I love her Wes.”

“Bout damn time you admitted it too,” Gunn smiled slightly at the vampire. “She’s gonna hand your balls to you for not telling her first though.”

Angel shook his head with a small laugh and rested the back of his head against the wall. “I’ll look forward to that.”

***

Giles led the Sunnydale group through the hallways and into the waiting area for the Operating Room. They had gotten word that Cordy was having her transplant that day and all decided to make the trip up early to show their support for their friend and former classmate.

They walked through the doors as the surgeon walked through at the other end of the room. The six of them watched on silently as Angel’s head snapped up as the sterile-clad man approached him.

He looked tired and stressed, too stressed for any of their liking, and particularly for Angel’s.

“Where’s Cordy?”

Giles couldn’t hear what the doctor told Angel, but he could clearly see Angel’s body go limp and his forehead fall into his supporting hand. He heard the vampire let out a sigh, but he wasn’t certain if it was from sorrow or relief.

Wesley motioned for everyone to join them and they all took their seats, waiting patiently for Angel to tell them what he had been told about their friend.


Part 5: Remembering Her Sacrifice

Seven Years Later

Angel walked through the cemetery at dusk, knowing his way undoubtedly. He had walked this path so many times in the seven years since that day that he could find her grave in his sleep. Every year on this day was special though. This was the day that his life had changed. This was the day that the woman that he loved had gone into that room for surgery.

He approached the stone and sat before it silently. He would always be grateful to her for what she had done for him. No one would ever understand the magnitude of her actions except him. She had changed his life without even knowing it.

Angel set the white roses on the earth in front of the grave marker and traced the lettering with his finger.

Loving Mother, Sister and Friend

He looked up as the rain started to fall on the roses and let the drops hit his face. It always rained while he was there. It was like her tears falling to let him know that she knew he was there again to see her. He looked forward to the rain.

Angel felt a hand on his shoulder and he placed his own on top of it. “She sacrificed so much. She did so much for me and I’ll never have the chance to thank her properly.”

“You thank her every time you come here and prove that everything that she did has not gone unforgotten. She knows Angel.”

“I hope you’re right. I wish there was something more that I could do though.”

“You’re doing all that you need to do. You’re living. You’re helping. You’re raising a beautiful little boy and you’re fighting to make the world safer. She couldn’t want anything else from you.”

He rested his cheek on her hand and sighed. “When did you get so insightful?”

“I guess about the time I realized that there were people out there willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for a complete stranger.” Cordelia sat beside him on the damp grass, not caring about her clothes.

Angel wrapped his arms around her and held her close to him. He always held her close now that he had her back. He had learned his lesson about waiting too long for things. If you wanted something, you couldn’t wait. Life was too short, maybe even his own. No one could predict what would happen tomorrow and he wasn’t about to waste any more time with the woman he loved.

“I love you Cor.”

“I love you too Angel.” Cordelia smiled against his chest and held him tightly. “Isabella’s coming to visit next week,” she told him as much as the spirit of the young woman that had given her another chance at life.

“She is?” Angel smiled at the thought. “I hope Jessica’s okay with Bella coming to visit us so much. I think Connor really likes having a big sister around.”

“Connor just likes tormenting her and shooting her with the Super Soaker Gunn bought him,” Cordy smiled. “I’m sure Jessica is thrilled. Her family has told us how much Bella is like her mother, and they’re all happy that Bella can find comfort in us as an extended family after losing her mom. And what can I say, I have a special place in my heart for her.”

“You’re amazing Cor. Why did it take me so long to realize that?” Angel asked, caressing her face with the pad of his thumb.

“You’re a dumbass.” She laughed at his look of indignation and then kissed him lovingly. “But you’re my dumbass and no one or nothing will ever take me away from you. You’re stuck with me.”

“Good.” Angel pulled her into his embrace and they sat together, paying tribute to the woman that had given her heart to bring the two of them back together. They sat in the rain, smiling in anticipation of the years to come.


…THE END…


 

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