SUMMARY: Angel is gone and LA burns without him.
POSTED: 23 Jun 2008
CATEGORY: ANGST / CORDELIA POV
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A subtext
WARNINGS: None Listed
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
1) Certain phrases are borrowed from Bruce Springsteen’s Worlds Apart. Hopefully, it’s vague enough not to be a song!fic. Takes place early s2.
Angel is gone, and LA sinks into a heat wave.
Cordelia doesn’t really believe the two are related but she wishes he’d hurry with his business and come home, before the city tears itself apart from the miserable heat.
It’s not because she misses him, or feels as if they’re worlds apart instead of just two hours. He doesn’t belong to her; she has no right to her feelings of possession. She’s just the girl with the visions, his Lassie.
But the visions hurt more when he’s not there to catch her, hold her up.
Or so it seems to her.
Angel promises to call but the first two days go by and the phone does not ring.
Not that she’s waiting for it to ring. She’s got things to do, files to update, auditions to attend. There is no time to worry about what Angel is doing or why he hasn’t called.
She hopes that Giles and the others appreciate Angel taking the time out of his busy unlife to help Buffy avert another apocalypse. She hopes he’s not tied up in Buffy’s knots again. She hopes he knows what’s important, hopes he remembers what the past is and what he has in LA.
On the third day of Angel’s absence, the temperature is a hundred and two degrees. Cordelia has a vision of a vampire preying on the homeless.
Gunn and Wesley spend the morning in the sewers searching for its nest.
She follows because her head aches with the need to see it finished.
The grit in her teeth is all that’s left of the vampire when they’re done, and she wiggles her toes against the dust that settles in a fine layer over her sweat dampened skin.
Wes and Gunn laugh in the aftermath, and it sounds distant to her, as though she’s hearing it through a tin cup.
On the fourth day of Angel’s absence the temperature climbs to a hundred and six degrees. Cordelia gathers her hair into a knot at the top of her head and descends into his exercise room with rags and cleaning supplies.
The air is stifling, not cool like the cave she’s called it, but she finds it comforting to be in his space, if not his presence.
When she’s done she’s wet with sweat, but the corners are clean, and his things are arranged neatly for his reach.
She thinks she’d like to watch him down here some time, when he’s not aware of her.
On the fifth day of Angel’s absence, the temperature is one hundred and eight degrees. Cordelia stares at the phone with her fingers pressed against her temples, and debates whether she should call him.
Things are the way they are.
On the sixth day, the temperature is one hundred and nine. The sun reflects off the windows of the Hyperion, scorching on her skin.
She stands in the meager shadow of a plant she doesn’t know the name of, and wonders about the desert between LA and Sunnydale. If there was a cool, shadowed place to meet in the middle of all that distance, where she can touch his hand, ask how he is.
She doesn’t dream about him at night. The heat stays even when the sun goes, and she can’t sleep to dream.
On the seventh day she doesn’t bother to check the temperature. The vision she had before she even turned on the coffee pot earlier is urgent, and she loads a bag with weapons from Angel’s cabinet. Gunn is almost dancing on the balls of his feet, eager to kill another demon.
They find it in the sewers, and the fight begins.
Pain explodes across Cordelia’s temple and she slumps to the grimy sewer floor as the demon’s tentacle slithers away from her body. She pulls herself into a sitting position, waving away Gunn and Wesley’s concerned looks, steadying her voice to tell them she is fine. They nod and close in on the dying monster, hacking and sawing, until it stops moving.
She sighs with relief, feeling the pressure in her head lessen.
They help her up, and Wes takes her home where he settles her on her couch with a cool glass of water and a bottle of aspirin.
He pauses on the way out the door and asks her if she’ll be all right, and through the pounding in her head she replies she’ll be fine. There is no way to tell Wesley that her pain has more to do with the distance between Sunnydale and Los Angeles than with the ache in her head.
Silence can beat like a hammer, merciless and unending.
Her apartment does not have central air so all she can do is bring her fan out and set it on the highest setting. She lies on her couch feeling the heat suffuse every cell of her body. It makes her head pound harder and her throat scratchy with thirst.
She longs for the coolness of fall, for the autumn wind to sweep across her body like the touch of Angel’s hand.
She drifts off to sleep and the heat follows her there, too.
She stands in the middle of the sun, stands facing an Angel she cannot touch, cannot reach. He tells her, in the distance between them, that he isn’t hers, never was, and he is leaving, going back to the life he never wanted to leave, and she will have to be brave and continue the mission without him.
She feels the tears trace a scalding path down her face, hot enough to burn.
She could reach for him; grab fistfuls of his coat and tell him with her eyes if not her words how much she needs him.
Instead she watches as the distance grows between them and the sun burns and burns her. In her grief, she thinks it would be a good thing to burn up, to not feel the pain squeezing her body, her heart, to free Angel in all ways.
To free herself from the ache of visions that never end, from the pictures of the dead and dying that stay with her long after she saves them, or doesn’t save them.
But even as she watches Angel walk away, she knows that she’s not going anywhere.
With or without him, she is a seer, and part of the fight against evil.
There is peace in the assertion, and she feels the approval of something bigger than herself, like puffs of cooling air that feel like caresses on her cheeks, her brow.
She comes back to herself and opens her eyes.
The first thing she sees is Angel’s concerned face hovering over her.
“Angel,” she whispers through a cracked throat, her tongue like cotton. Her limbs are weighted with wet heat, and she feels like her yoga pants and t-shirt are suffocating her in cotton and spandex.
“Hey,” he greets her as though no time has passed. “I knocked but you didn’t answer. Dennis let me in.”
“When did you-“She tries to get up but finds she’s too weak to do it, though the ache in her head is gone. Angel grabs her arm, hand cupping her elbow, and pulls her to a sitting position. His skin feels as cold as the snow in Aspen, and her flesh nearly hisses at the contact. “When did you get back?”
“About five minutes ago?” He scrutinizes her, his face lined with worry. “How long have you been sleeping? Wesley told me you took a hard knock today, he shouldn’t have left you alone.” He gets up and walks away, a long figure in a black coat, heading for her kitchen. She watches him with something like wonder.
He’s really in her apartment, the time he was gone already fading like a memory.
She gets up on legs like noodles and reaches over the back of her couch, tugging on the latch of her windows until they give.
Cool air rushes in at her and she closes her eyes in bliss, feeling as though God’s blessed rain has found her in the middle of a desert.
The heat wave has broken and Los Angeles sighs in relief.
She turns and watches as Angel comes back with a glass of ice water in his hand.
He gazes at her with something like longing, though it can’t be.
“I missed you, Cordy,” he says in the quiet between them.
The cool air swirls around her.
She sighs in relief.