Haunted


AUTHOR: NOBODY’S ANGEL (aka Lily)
SUMMARY: Cordy wakes up to find that everything has changed and the world has gone on without her.
RATING: R/NC17
POSTED: 2 Dec 2003
CATEGORY: ANGST
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A – AtS S4
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: None
STATUS: Complete


Part One

Angel turned in bed for the millionth time that morning, rubbing his face roughly. The days of restless sleep were finally taking a toll on him. Even if he didn’t look his 255 years, he felt twice that. Nearly five years of fitful sleep was bound to catch up with anyone, even a vampire.

As he pulled on his black dress pants, he couldn’t push away the nagging feeling that something was different. “It was just a dream,” he reminded himself while he slid his pale, muscular arms into the sleeves of the sapphire blue silk shirt. She would have approved, he found himself thinking. He didn’t know why he tortured himself. She was as good as gone.

For months he had tirelessly searched for a way to cure her, to bring her back. But he had failed her once again. It was over; no one had the answer. So why did she keep haunting his dreams? Why did she always appear to him with that accusing stare? Maybe it was because he had stopped visiting long ago. He would she know though? Lorne and every other person he could find with psychic abilities told him she simply was not there anymore. Her body was a shell, an empty vessel. He couldn’t bear to see her that way, to know that her soul was floating somewhere in oblivion, at least that was the theory that he could stomach slightly. The thought of her soul destroyed by the events of years ago was more than his own soul could handle.

It still didn’t answer the question that plagued him day and night. What was she trying to tell him?

Help me

Angel whirled around in the large bathroom, looking for the source of the plea that sounded like wind in his ear.

Help me

“Who are you?” he asked cautiously. It was rare that his vampiric senses didn’t pick up on a presence, but there was none there.

Help me Angel

“Cordelia?” he gasped in disbelief. “Where are you?”

Help me Angel. I’m still here

Angel shook slightly as his memories of his most recent dream rushed over him. That was what was different; she had spoken. After five years he had heard her voice and as sad and haunting as it had been, it was the most beautiful sound. His eyes grew wide in recognition. She was asking him to help her. She believed in him still. Most importantly, she was still there!

“Cordelia!” he called to her as he ran out the door. “I’m coming Cor! I heard you! Please don’t let this be a dream.” He pushed past a group of employees as he rushed into the elevator, ignoring their concerned voices and gazes. He didn’t care what they thought. He only cared about reaching her side before he awoke from this hopeful dream.

Angel ran through the doors before they could open fully and then paused momentarily in the deserted hallway. What if it as just a dream? What if he was just setting himself up for even more heartache?

The memory of her voice quickly brought him back to reality, or what he hoped was reality. Cordelia was asking him for help. She still needed him. Upon opening the door to her room, he received another shock…Cordelia was gone.

******************************************************

Every muscle in her frail body screamed in pain as she huddled in the small, dark supply closet. Tears stung at her dry face as she relentlessly rubbed the raw skin of her hands that had until recently housed IVs and medical tape. Her body shook violently as she tried to take in everything, all of the senses bombarding her.

She knew where she was, vaguely remembering sneaking into the law firm building with Angel and Wesley after the prophecy scroll. What she didn’t know was why she was there and how she got there in the first place. Why was she left alone in the heart of the enemy? Where was Angel? And the rest of the gang?

Horror rushed over her at the thought that she was the only one left. What if Wolfram & Hart had somehow killed them all? But then why not her too? Why would they keep her alive? She was nothing special, except for being a Seer, but surely they had plenty of those on their payroll.

Cordelia climbed to her feet shakily and peeked out of the closet door. She wasn’t getting away by hiding until someone found her or she starved to death. Seeing that there was no one around to halt her escape, she began the strenuous trek to freedom.

Upon turning the corner, she saw the wall lined with pictures. The first set were nothing of surprise to her. Pictures of Lilah Morgan, Lindsey MacDonald, and the other human monsters she had helped Angel fight against. Around the halfway mark, what was left of her world came crashing down on her. Sitting behind the big, regal desk was her best friend, surrounded by the rest of her friends. Underneath the frame was a plaque that read:

Welcome to our new CEO and members of the staff
2003

“CEO?” Cordelia gasped and traced her finger along Angel’s face in the picture. “Members of the staff?” She looked at each of their images: Fred, Gunn, Lorne and even Wesley. They were all there. And they had all joined the enemy.

She walked stiffly to the next group of pictures and her jaw tightened in even deeper betrayal. There, once again behind the large desk, sat Angel, a young woman with dark blonde hair perched arrogantly on the corner.

Mr. Angel, CEO and Eve, Liaison to the Senior Partners

“My, my, she certainly looks comfortable,” her raspy voice sneered as she glared at the strange woman.

The further she walked, the less Cordelia cared about escape. What did she have to escape to now? Her family now worked for the enemy in a place where she vowed she would never be caught dead in. And Angel looked to have moved on with some ditzy blonde, again.

The tears slid down her cheeks again, but they didn’t last. She was soon walking blindly, her eyes unfocused, as her soul had all but given up the idea of freedom. She didn’t care anymore. She didn’t care when she walked into the crowded lobby and into the clutches of Wolfram & Hart.

“Where the hell is she?!” he yelled at the group, ready to shake each and every one of them lifeless if they didn’t give him the answer he wanted.

“Mr. Angel…” The young intern couldn’t bring himself to point at the sight that he saw before him, only stare.

“Oh…” Wesley turned his gaze in the direction of the other man and then back to Angel. “Angel!” he yelled and caught the vampire’s attention. “Look.”

Angel turned and wasn’t sure what it was that he was seeing. Halfway into the room stood a woman, a plain white gown hanging shapelessly from her slight frame. Her hair was matted and stringy, her skin ashen. Her lips were cracked from dryness and she looked nearly dead. She stood motionless, staring at him and at the same time nothing at all. As his eyes met hers, he saw all he needed to see; the haunting, accusing stare that had tormented him for 5 years.

“Cordelia.”


Part Two

“How is she?” Angel asked as he approached the door to his penthouse.

“Her eyes are open…” Fred answered and blushed slightly under the vampire’s curious expression. “What I mean is that she’s awake an’ all, but she’s just…she seems really lost. I keep trying to talk to her, but she doesn’t answer. She doesn’t even look at me. I mean, she looks at me, but she’s not really looking at me. An’ I’m rambling, aren’t I?”

Angel gave her a small, reassuring smile and looked through the doorway into the bedroom. Cordelia lay on his bed, wrapped tightly in his velvet comforter, but it didn’t look to be giving much comfort. She stared at the dark wall blindly and showed no signs of movement beyond breathing. It was a sharp twist in his gut as the realization that this was why he’d stopped seeing her hit him. Fred was right. The only difference was now her eyes were open. “Cordy?” he called gently when he walked in the room.

He knelt next to the bed and tried to make eye contact with her. “Cordelia, can you hear me?” He searched her face for any sign of recognition but was rewarded with a blank expression. “Cor, I’m so sorry for everything that has happened. I swear I tried to help you. I wanted nothing more than to bring you back. I searched and searched…but there was nothing. No one knew how to help you and then I…I gave up Cordy, and I don’t know how to make that up to you. I never should have given up. You of all people would never have given up on me and I should have had the same respect for you.” He reached out and took her hand in his. “Can you forgive me Cor? Can you forgive the horrible things I said and my giving up and leaving you?”

Angel waited for what seemed like hours before sighing and standing back up. He walked to the window and tried to choke back his tears. “I know everything must be confusing and scary right now, but it’s been five years. Things have changed. They had to. I just hope that you can find it in you to stay with us here. We want you to stay. And I need you.” His last statement was whispered; he wasn’t sure that he was ready for her to hear those words from him just yet. Even after all the years, the events of her possession were still an open wound for him.

“I’ll let you get some rest now. I’ll be right outside.”

Upon hearing the click of the door, Cordelia’s tears fell down her cheeks.

**************************************

Wesley stood in Angel’s office, waiting for him to answer his question. “Angel? We still have this situation to handle. What are we going to do about this client?”

“What?” Angel turned his attention back to his friend, completely unaware of his words. He had been too busy watching his newly replaced monitor on the edge of his desk. The camera had been moved from her make-shift hospital room to his own room so he could keep an eye on her at all times. He was hopeful that she’d make progress soon. He wouldn’t let the past few days discourage him…not again. He wouldn’t give up on her.

“Angel,” Wesley repeated. “We have clients that need—“

“Deal with them Wes. Do whatever you think should be done. Get them acquitted, kill them, I really don’t care.” The vampire continued to stare at the screen. The harsh duotone colors worked hand in hand to enhance her beauty and fragility. Her skin took on an unnatural paleness and her dark eyes held secrets whose depths were even unknown to him. If he didn’t know better, able to detect the slight movement of her frame with every breath, he’d think she was a corpse lying in his bed. He couldn’t disguise his sigh of relief every time he saw the slightest shift in her body, signaling her life.

“Angel, we still have a business to run. I’m just as pleased as you are that Cordelia is—“

“Is what Wesley? Alive? Yeah, she’s alive. She’s been alive for the past five years and what have we done? Not a damn thing. We left her there to wake up alone. I can’t even imagine what that must’ve done to her,” he snapped and stood up, his chair rolling back angrily. “And don’t tell me that you’re just as pleased as me. I’m not pleased. Not pleased at all. Yes, she’s alive Wes, but she’s not living. I won’t be pleased until she’s living the life that she deserves.”

The vampire stormed out of his office, slamming the door behind him. He made an unmistakable path to the elevators, his posture daring anyone to try to distract him from his destination. His large hands pushed the doors open enough to accommodate his frame before he pushed the door close button and slammed his palm against his penthouse button.

His temper was raging. He hadn’t meant to snap at Wesley, but he refused to let anyone take his mind away from his Seer. She needed his help and he was determined to help her this time. There were plenty of people that could oversee the workings of the firm until he had Cordelia back in the game.

Angel opened the door to his bedroom and was instantly calmed by shock. She wasn’t on the bed. She was huddled in a small patch of moonlight on the floor, her knees hugged tightly to her chest. The long gown he had given her to wear was pooled around her bottom, exposing her too-thin legs that lacked the sun-kissed glow they used to possess. His eyes looked over her frail arms, various scars from IVs marring her pale skin. Her forehead rested on her knees and her lifeless hair fell over her shoulders.

“Cordelia?” he asked tentatively as he walked closer to her. He saw the unmistakable stiffening of her body at the sound of his voice. It delighted and saddened him in the same moment. “Cordelia, are you okay? Okay, stupid question. Do you want anything? Is there anything I can do?”

“Kill me.” Her words were barely audible, but Angel heard them well enough.

“What? Cordy, why would you—“

Her head whipped up and stopped all sound from coming from him. “Kill me, please? If you want to help me, then kill me.”

“I can’t—“

“Why not?” The tears fell of their own accord and she made no attempt to hide them or wipe them away. “This…” She waved her arm weakly around the room. “This isn’t my world. This isn’t the world that I remember. I don’t…it’s all different, and not in a good way.”

“Things have changed Cordy, but—“

“Did I say I was finished?” Her hollow glare caused him to clamp his mouth shut. “I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t know how things ended up the way they are. There are a lot of things that I don’t know right now. But I’ll tell you one thing…I don’t want to be here.” Her icy façade began to melt as quickly as she had built it. “I want my world back. I want to be home, and before you tell me this is home, this is not home! This is evil! This is Hell! This is the place that we’re supposed to be fighting against! I want be at the Hyperion! I want to be in my apartment with Dennis! I want to be holding that sweet baby of yours in my arms again, but I can’t, can I? I can’t because five years have been stolen from me, and for what?! I don’t even know!! And now my family is working in this nightmare and have all turned evil on me! I don’t want you to be evil! I want you to be the Champion again! I want you to be my Champion! I want everything to be like it was again!” Her ranting words had progressively turned into sobs as she screamed at him, and then she simply broke down.

He sat on the floor beside her and pulled her into his arms, trying to comfort his hysterical Seer. “It’s okay Cor, I understand. It’s going to be okay.” He continued to whisper softly as his hands stroked her hair lovingly. Angel kissed her head tenderly as she cried into his chest, her body shaking uncontrollably. He couldn’t help but admit to himself that he was glad for this moment. It broke his heart to see her hurting, but it was something to see her feeling anything at all…and to hear her voice again.

As her sobs softened to a whimper, Angel tilted her chin to look into her eyes. Yet again he was faced with the haunted look and it took every bit of courage in him to form sentences. “Cordelia, you don’t know what it means to me to have you back. I’ve waited for this moment for so long.” He smiled sadly at her and wiped her tear-stained cheek with the pad of his thumb. “I wish things were different, I really do, but there are some things we just can’t change now. I just want you to know that I’m here. We all are. And you are home. Just think of it as redecorating…in an evil sort of way. There’s a lot we need to tell you.” He caught her stifled yawn and slumping body and verbally decided, “But that can wait. You need rest.”

Cordelia protested as he began to lift her off the floor. “No!”

“Just to the bed Cordy, then I’ll leave you to rest.”

“No, please don’t. I don’t want to be alone anymore. Just please sit with me. Hold me? Can we just pretend that nothing’s changed? Just for tonight?”

Angel smiled at her again and pulled her back into his embrace. “Nothing’s changed Cordelia,” he obliged and kissed her forehead. He held her small form against him, determined not to let anyone ever take her away from him again.


Part Three

Cordelia stared at them all in utter disbelief. “Are you all completely insane? Am I the only one that sees the incredible wrongness of all of this?”

“Nice to see you too Cordy,” Gunn winked at her.

“Oh, don’t you even think you’re off the hook. You…you have hair!” she scolded him and looked around the room. “So what you’re saying is that because of stuff that happened and because of my coma, which I’m still unsure of how I woke up in one, and you say one word Wesley and you’ll regret it, you all decided to just give up the ghost, speaking of which, has anyone even thought to check in on Dennis, and just take the enemy’s offer and…work for them?! Have you all completely lost your minds?!!”

Angel scowled, trying to wrap his brain around her nonlinear ranting. It was partially his own fault. He had wished that she return to her normal self, and although she was still far from 100 percent, she had regained her unmistakable ability to confuse him and make him feel unbelievably guilty at the same time. “We didn’t just jump into this. We thought long and hard—“

“Oh yeah, long and hard, as in what…6 hours tops? Someone please remind me why I woke up.”

There had been a time when each of them would have known she was joking, but now it was more difficult. The look of deep betrayal in her eyes hid any signs of humor. “Five years huh? And you’re going to tell me that you’re not evil?”

“We’re not,” Angel defended and caught her eyes rolling. “What?”

“Okay, you’re CEO of Wolfram & Hart. Hello! Big Evil there!!!” She turned her gaze to Wesley. “You’re playing Master Librarian in the big library of All That’s Evil. You’re representing actors and actresses that I thought were just incredibly talented…I’ll never look at those cute Olsen twins the same again, although it makes sense because they were homely babies,” she continued on to Lorne. “Crazy Taco Lady is running the lab here, no offense Fred, but the last I remember you, you were barely coming out of your taco shell. And Gunn is a lawyer? Okay, that’s the most evil of all I think. And hair? You have hair…evil hair.” She took a breath and looked at each of them individually again. “Did I get that all straight?”

Gunn touched his head self-consciously. “Evil hair?”

A thought dawned on Cordelia and she looked at Angel. “It’s been five years? Where’s Connor? He must be in what…Kindergarten now? Oh, I missed out on all his baby stuff…” Cordelia was too deep in thought to notice the gang’s questions and Angel’s quick damage control.

“I can assure you that we’re not evil,” Angel told her, changing the subject before anyone could ask anymore questions.

“Oh, you can huh? I have one word for you: Harmony.”

“Huh?”

“Your new secretary is Harmony. Well, not new I guess, five years and all.” She looked around the room and then leaned back in her chair, the conversation draining her of what little energy she had. “I think I need some time to think.”

“Of course Cordelia,” Wesley smiled and kissed her cheek. “Just let us know if you need anything.”

She watched as they all left the room. “Answers would be nice,” she muttered.

“She deserves to know the truth Angel,” Wesley spoke firmly as they all stood in the elevator. “She’s getting stronger all the time, and it’s time.”

“Yes, she does,” Angel agreed solemnly. “And you all do. It’s time that you all know the truth.”

“Truth about what?” Gunn asked suspiciously, not sure he liked where this was going.

“The truth about my son and how Cordy actually ended up in that coma.”

****************************************************************

“Okay, lemme get this straight…” Gunn started after Angel had finished telling him the most unbelievable story he had ever heard. “You had a son. With Darla?”

“I think we’ve established that…a few hundred times over Gunn,” Wesley sighed.

“Yeah, but he’s a vampire and he had a kid…with another vampire…Okay, run that by me again, from the beginning.”

“Charles,” Fred groaned and looked at Angel. “Where’s Connor now?”

“Hopefully living a normal life. The last I knew, he was planning for college with his…family.” It was all Angel could do to choke out the word.

“All I have to say to you Dumpling is…I’m so glad that I’m not your hot little ass when you tell this story to Princess,” Lorne spoke up and raised his obligatory SeaBreeze. “Good luck.”

“I think I’ve gotta agree with the green guy,” Gunn nodded. “Cordy’s gonna kick your ass and then hand it to you, right before she castrates you and hands your balls to you too.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence guys.”

Gunn looked pitifully and painfully at Angel. “Man,” he shook his head and blew out a sharp puff of air. “They used to castrate horses using two bricks and no numbing cream.” He shrugged after a few seconds of contemplation. “Anyone for Monopoly?”

Fred placed her hands behind her back, looking unsurely around the room as Gunn spoke and then spoke up herself. “I get dibs on the Plymouth.” When everyone looked at the one time timid brunette, Fred shrugged “What? Once Cordy gets through with him, he isn’t going to need it.”

************************************************************

“Cordy, can you tell me what the last thing you remember is?” Angel asked as he sat on the edge of the bed nervously.

“It was my birthday. I was holding Connor and you were giving me a present and then…I think I had a vision. Did that vision put me into my coma?” She sat up straighter against the headboard, thankful she was finally getting her answers and scared of what they’d be at the same time.

“Wow…that means…there’s a lot you don’t know Cordy, about Connor…and you and what happened. After you had that vision—“

Cordelia raised her hand to cut him off. “Wait a minute. Do I really want to know all of this?”

“Probably not,” he answered honestly.

“Okay, just wanted to prepare myself.”

**********************************************************

Cordelia sat there, staring at him, speechless. As her brain tried to process all of the information he had given her, her anger and betrayal, by him and by herself, rose inside of her.

“Cordy?”

“Get out.”

“But Cor—“

“I said get out Angel. I don’t want to see you right now.” She pulled the blankets up around her defensively.

“No Cordy, I’m not leaving. We’re going to talk about what happened. It’s something that we should have talked about five years ago.” Angel pulled her hand into his and sighed when she pulled away.

“And how would we have done that? Coma, remember? Look, I need some time—“

This time, it was Angel interrupting her. “No, we’ve already lost too much time. I want to talk about this now, and we’re going to.”

“Fine. You wanna talk? How about starting with how you could possibly mistake that train wreck of a Fallen Power to be me? Hello, did she not give you every possible sign that it wasn’t me captaining the ship? And if the strange behavior and totally non-me clothing didn’t give it away, sleeping with your apparent Miracle-Gro son should have!! And can I just say that waking up pregnant, slash finding out I was pregnant with yet another evil spawn is just getting really old. One of these days, I hope I just get pregnant the regular old way. By having hot, sweaty sex with someone that I love and have it not be evil! Would it be so much to ask to have a nice moment that doesn’t revolve around something evil and demonic?”

Angel’s head hung in shame at her words. He knew that she was right. He had been blind not to see that it was her and maybe she was right about having something that didn’t revolve around something ‘evil and demonic’.

“And before you get any crazy ideas about doing the same thing to me that you did to Connor, forget it. And now that we’ve talked, would you please leave me alone?” Her eyes met his and he knew there was nothing he could say to fix things with her now. It would take time to heal.

“Cordy, I’m—“

“Don’t. I don’t want to hear it. I want you to go and let me think.”

Angel reluctantly stood and walked to the door. He didn’t want to leave her like this, but he didn’t see any choice in her dark glare.

Once the door closed, Cordelia assumed her previously abandoned position, curled in a tight ball on Angel’s bed. How could all of this have happened? How could Angel have mistaken that thing for her? How could he have let all of this happen? How could he have let her do all of that damage and cause all that destruction? All the people she had hurt…and Connor. A poor, innocent baby that had everything ripped away from him and now she would never be able to hold him again.


…THE END…


 

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