Archive for December 13, 2015

There is No End 8   1 comment

Part 8

“Johnny, Johnny why are we here?” Sara asked her voice shaky with confusion and building fear.

“Because, I wanted this moment to be special.”

“Special?”

“Johnny? You’re freaking me out. We are in a cemetery after midnight – and you’re not looking at me. Johnny, please…tell what’s going on?”

“I told you, tonight is special.”

“It’s Prom Night, I know but why are we… Johnny, look at me?”

Johnny turned towards Sara letting out a snarl – or what one might classify as a snarl and revealing that what had been the face of an All-American boy now had red eyes, a face the color of white frosting and red-tipped fangs that were so huge he couldn’t have closed his mouth if he wanted it.

Sara’s eyes grew huge, her mouth dropped open and she started to laugh hysterically.

“CUT!” a voice boomed and a man stepped onto the set of a makeshift cemetery, lights clicked and “Sara” stood clutching her stomach, and teetering on the three inch heels that wardrobe had made her wear, still laughing. “Cordelia, this is the tenth time this happened. We need to get this shot, could you possibly pull yourself together and scream next take?”

Cordelia inhaled deeply, trying to steady herself but under the now bright lights the ‘Vampire” before her looked even more ridiculous and she started to laugh even louder.

“Cordelia,” the director admonished, his short-temper evident in his voice and posture. “Perhaps you could explain just what it is that is so hysterical, and we could stop with this childish behavior and GET THE SHOT DONE.”

“I’m sorry,” Cordelia bit the inside of her cheek and forced her eyes away from the “vampire” standing next to her, rolling his ridiculous red eyes and crossing his arms. “I really am. I’ll get it under control.”

“What exactly is the problem?”

Cordelia sighed, her mind working over time for what exactly to say. Not like she could say that she knew first hand what vampires looked like and the bad make up job standing next to her was just comical for her handle. Going out for a horror movie had seemed like a good idea a month ago, but now that she was here to shoot being Victim Number One for the movie’s teaser, she was realizing that her first hand knowledge was actually more of a liability. She knew she should have gone for the surfer movie instead but had she listened to herself? No.

“Well?”

“I just think – well you can tell it’s contacts, and why does the entire turn red anyway, shouldn’t it just be the iris. Also what’s with the facial hair additions, and why is the make up so white. I mean vampires are pale. I get that, but they aren’t walking Flour advertisements. And it’s flaky and powdery – I mean look at it,” she motioned toward the deep pink prom dress they had her in that had the white powder from the make up all over it. “In other words, It’s just so fake that I can’t really get myself to feel scared enough to even want to scream in terror.”

The director was glaring at her and she felt her temper start to flare, he’d asked, if he hadn’t wanted her to explain her problem with the scene he shouldn’t have asked her.

“You think that doesn’t look like a scary vampire?”

“I know it doesn’t.” Cordelia said holding her ground but fighting the urge to roll her eyes.

“Well. You claim to be an actress, pretend it’s scary and scream your empty, pretty head off the next take.”

Cordelia winced and opened her mouth to tell the director just where he could go but one look into his pissed off face and she remembered she really needed the check and a movie – even a bad horror movie – on her acting resume. “I will. I swear.”

“Fine. Let’s take it from when Sara says: It’s Prom Night,” the director shouted.

Cordelia stepped back into place, took a deep breath and decided to pretend that the fake thing front of her was a real vampire, or Daryl Epps, or maybe that reptile demon that almost ate her once. She could do it, just picture the real baddies of the world and remember real fear. It was why she’d thought that a horror movie would be a piece of cake. Yep.

Oh god, the red eyes, the ridiculous fangs that made it so the actors could only snarl and growl – and badly too – the laughter flew out of her mouth again and the director’s scream of ‘cut’ was fresh with more anger; all directed at her. Cordelia felt her stomach fall, and a real fear started to gnaw through her, if she didn’t stop this she was going to get fired. Fired from a bit part in a horror movie of all things. She inhaled deeply and faced the director. “I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again, I promise.”

She was not going to lose a job over cheesy make-up.

***

Angel sprang to his feet, his vamp face taking over and he glared at the younger vampire in front of him who had grabbed the young woman again. The kid had knocked him on his ass – twice. And sure he’d been stabbed in the stomach by the kid’s lucky shot with a steel pipe, but there was no way in any hell dimension that Angel was losing a fight to some stupid cocky neophyte vampire.

“Playtime. It’s over,” Angel growled tackling the other vampire with full force, freeing the young woman from his grasped. “RUN!” He yelled at the girl, who just stood there staring but Angel paid no attention to the paralyzed victim. He had a kid to teach a lesson too.

A dusty lesson.

***

Cordelia, as the victim Prom Queen Sara let out a blood-curdling scream. Her inspiration the nightmare image of her, Cordelia Chase, getting fired from a horror movie that was more likely to go straight to video than any movie theater.

***

Angel dusted the vampire with relish and a smile. Of course, he’d pummeled the kid in the head and stomach with a lot hard kicks with his trusty hard leather boots before finally staking him. The kid had stabbed him and no neophyte, stupid vampire who couldn’t handle witty banter while fighting was getting the best of him. Turning toward the victim, he changed back to his human face and stepped toward her and it was then the woman screamed out to God and fainted. Angel caught her just before she fell into a puddle of something he was pretty sure wasn’t water or any type of natural substance

***

“You knocked out the victim?” Gunn said, getting out of his convertible as Angel came toward it carrying the woman from the alley.

Angel looked up at his co-worker and just glared. “She screamed and passed out. After I saved her.”

Gunn snickered. “Guess you were scarier than the vamp who wanted her blood.”

Angel chose not comment and shot his eyes from Gunn to the girl in his arms. “Help me get her in the back. We can drop her off at an emergency room or something. She’s fine, but we can’t leave her here and we aren’t taking her back to the hotel.”

Gunn stepped forward and together they managed to put the poor unconscious woman into the back of the convertible. Angel slipped into the driver’s seat and glanced at Gunn. “You call Merle?”

“Yep. He wasn’t happy we were going to be late. Said just because the blood-sucker smelled danger doesn’t mean we can miss appointments.”

Angel bit back a growl and started the car. “Whatever, the stupid parasite can wait for us. Caritas has a good atmosphere. Wesley call about the other case?”

“What, the one you and he think are monthly ritual sacrifices of some Chaos-worshipping demon clan?”

Angel gave him a what-do-you-think look, wondering if his night could get any worse and the sun had just set less than hour ago.

“No.”

“Damn it,” Angel growled, realizing the answer was yes. He pulled out onto a main street, toward the nearest hospital. If they didn’t get a lead on how and where the Ycuchbn were luring the young women they were sacrificing, they’d never stop the monthly killings.

“English will figure it out. He’ll find a link, we’ll get to their nest or altar or whatever and kick some demon ass.”

Angel glanced at Gunn. “I don’t want more women dying.”

“I get ya, man, but can’t do much until Wes does his shriek of ‘Ah Ha!’”

Angel turned onto street the hospital was located too sharply, driving too fast in an attempt to keep his temper in control. It still hadn’t been a year since Darla had taken over his dreams, and his waking hours…making him obsessed with saving and then killing her. And in the end he’d done neither.

All he had succeeded in doing was nearly losing his soul by giving into the emptiness and had for a time lost the two people he called friends. Maybe Wes and Gunn had let him back in, but it wasn’t the same and might never be so saving a few women a night wasn’t enough. Angel felt like he had to stop all the evil he could find in the dark corners of LA. It was something to do, it was the right thing to do, and he could do it. He’d never forgive himself for his far past or his recent past, nor would he ever earn atonement but the he could at least do something. So, there was no way he was letting any demon cult continue to sacrifice young women every month during the new moon.

He slammed on the brakes and glanced at Gunn. “Take her in. I’ll wait.”

Gunn gave him a look but then just shook his head, as he got out, moved to the back and picked up the poor woman from the alley that had fainted from fright. “When I get back, I hope you’ve stopped driving like a crash test dummy out on a mission.”

Angel ignored him and closed his eyes and decided to breathe, hoping the inhales and exhales would calm him down, so he didn’t accidentally kill Gunn, or wreck his Plymouth.

***

Cordelia stood in front of her freezer, staring at the two containers mocking her from inside of it. Frozen low-fat yogurt or tasty yummy double chocolate fudge ice cream? She knew what she wanted, she wanted the ice cream, covered in chocolate syrup and whipped cream, and she wanted to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

Hadn’t she earned it? Putting up with a cranky director, a bad actor in the worst vampire make-up she’d ever seen – and she’d seen a lot of bad monster make-up since starting her acting career. Granted this had been the first part she’d gotten in a monster movie, because of her penchant to crack up at the so-called ‘horror’ fiends. Was it her fault she’d grown up on a Hellmouth? No. Her parents for some odd reason had chosen to live in Sunnydale. The why of that would always make her wonder? In fact she sometimes wondered if her father had worshipped a demon of some sort and Buffy had killed it, thus causing her family’s financial woes.

Cordelia huffed at herself, pulled the ice cream out of the freezer and finally closed the door. What the hell did it matter? She only wanted the movie because a rising star was the heroine of the piece. She was only going to be in it for two seconds, screaming and that was if she got lucky and didn’t cut her out. Even during the final three takes where she’d managed to scream at the end, with the last ‘scary snarl’ of the ‘vampire’ she’d ended up giggling. The fake teeth were so screwy, fangs on the top and bottom, they barely fit the actor’s mouth, and how the heck was he supposed to suck her blood? She shook her head and furrowed her brow.

“Be positive, Cor,” she told herself. “You will be in the movie, you will be victim number one. And you can claim to have done a movie that whats-her-face has done. Damn it what is her name? I never even get to see the movies with all the up-coming actors anymore, I don’t even know their names?” Cordelia slammed her mouth shut and stared at the still unopened canister of ice cream. “And I’m talking to myself. I’m going loony.”

On cue, as if agreeing with her statement her phone rang. Cordelia looked over at it and sighed. “Not answering it unless it’s a call back for a real movie, or a television series.”

“Cordelia? It’s Lisa. I just wanted to warn you, Darlene is on the warpath. Clients got upset you weren’t around; she couldn’t remember crap or find certain things. Pretty sure she blew a few deals. So she’s pissed at you, blaming you for her lack of people-skills. Does she even have Interior Design skills? Well, if I were you I’d show up early tomorrow and not leave until late. She was making noise again about not working things around an actress’s career.”

Cordelia closed her eyes and resisted the urge to scream. Once she was sure she wouldn’t scream or worse breakdown crying like a girl, she grabbed a spoon and took off for her living room with it and the ice cream.

Flopping down on her couch, she flicked on her TV and flipped stations until she landed on what looked like a cheesy movie of the week. It was better than nothing she decided, loading up her spoon with melting chocolate with chocolate chunks of fudge throughout, she smiled inhaling the aroma. “Come to me, baby,” she whispered to the spoon just as there was one sharp knock on her door.

Looking toward the door as it swung open; the spicy, expensive smell of her boyfriend greeted her a second before she found herself looking at his face. He smiled and gave her a quick wink. “Thought I’d surprise you.”

Cordelia smiled, telling herself that it was really sweet and the only thing better than chocolate had to be a loving boyfriend. This was good. “I’m glad!” She said, standing up from the couch.

Alec smiled again, put down his briefcase and met her halfway with a small kiss hello. “Is that ice cream?”

Cordelia winced. “I know I shouldn’t eat it… I just…”

“You should give up acting and then you could eat all the ice cream you want.”

Cordelia laughed. “Sure, you want to date a girl as round as the ice cream container herself?”

“I’m just saying that you don’t need to act.”

Cordelia bit her tongue. This was a normal argument between them, he just didn’t understand. No one from his social set, or her old social set did. “I do need it.”

“You need to get upset over auditions and eat too much ice cream?” Alec asked, looking back at her after hanging up his jacket in the closet. “Cordelia, sweetheart, I don’t think so. You could, you know move in with me. Get rid of this tiny apartment, in this questionable part of town…”

Cordelia furrowed her brow. “I’m not going to live with you, Alec. Don’t start that discussion up again…”

Alec frowned and he walked around her and started to massage her shoulders. “I just think it would be a good step in the right direction for us.”

Which means he doesn’t want to shell out the money for the ring, until he’s sure he’ll enjoy sex at all hours and sharing a bathroom with you, a voice in the back of Cordelia’s head told her. “Alec, don’t,” she whispered, falling into the trap of his hands. He was an expert at shoulder massage, she had to give him that.

“I could take care of everything, Cordelia.”

“I don’t need you to take care of everything, Alec. I have a job and my acting career.”

Alec sighed. “You know, I realize after your father’s problems that you had to become self-sufficient for awhile. But you have me now, sweetheart.”

“I already had a bad day, Alec. Must we fight?”

“I don’t want to fight,” Alec moved them both over to her couch and turned off the television. “What happened at the audition?”

“It wasn’t audition. It was a shoot. That horror movie I told you about.”

Alec rolled his eyes, and Cordelia had to fight the urge not to snort. Alec didn’t believe in anything he couldn’t see. Demons, Santa Claus, Easter Bunnies, God. He thought her going after horror movies was ridiculous, he didn’t understand the cult following that so many had at all. “What happened?”

“I kept laughing.”

“Why?”

“The vampire make-up was horrendous… they looked like white walking doughnuts and the teeth! There was no way those teeth could suck blood.”

Alec laughed. “Sweetheart, what do you know about monster make-up?”

Cordelia stiffened in his arms at the condescending tone in his voice. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“I just mean, what do you know about monster make-up?”

“I know plenty!” She shot back.

“About beauty and how to enhance it with regular make-up. But not make up for make believe creatures.” Alec touched her face. “I don’t mean to make you more upset, but really if you find it all so fake why do you want to act anyway? Live with me, Cordelia. Quit this silliness, quit that job where they give you nothing but trouble. I love you; I can give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, that you deserve. You don’t have to take care of yourself anymore. Sweetheart, come on move in with me?”

Cordelia screamed and shoved Alec’s hands off of her and then she took off to her bedroom slamming the door closed. Once it was closed she looked at the doorknob and quickly locked it. What the hell was wrong with him? She’d asked him more than once to shut up about them living together. God, he’d been in the apartment less than fifteen minutes and how many times had he ignored her wishes. Who the hell did he think he was? Didn’t he get the fact she wasn’t going to live with him? It wasn’t a hard thing to swallow. He wanted her forever and ever, he had to go out and get her a ring… which she was seriously wondering about accepting now.

She sat down on her bed, ignored Alec’s calls and knocks on the door and held her head in her hands. This was supposed to have stopped, going to Sunnydale and remembering why she’d left was supposed to have stopped all the restlessness brewing inside of her about her life. But instead, instead it hadn’t helped at all. Sometimes it felt worse, like it was getting worse and worse everyday.

The most confusing thing of all was she hated her job, her apartment, and the acting was more of a frustration than a fulfillment but the idea of giving it all up made her feel nauseated. Alec would take care of her, he had a great apartment, more like a penthouse really – he had money, he would buy her anything she wanted, and he wasn’t so bad of a guy. He talked to her, let her whine and he was trying to help her feel better. So what was the problem?

“Cordelia? Sweetheart? Cor, come on let me in?”

She looked at the door, pictured Alec behind it, still in his three-piece suit looking like a model for a business magazine. He was perfect: good-looking, rich and like most men completely clueless. She should get up and open the door and apologize. She wouldn’t say yes though, but she should apologize for being so weird about it. Right?

Cordelia stayed on the bed.

Part 9

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

There is No End 6-7   1 comment

Part 6

He’d expected it to take him longer. The memories and emotions about Buffy were tumultuous and random. They covered the hundred years before her, the century before that and the random years of hell after her. There was the freshness and freedom he had felt about seeing her as she learned of her destiny and of her powers. The knowledge that she was where he had to head, to help, to aid her and against all rationale fallen in love with her.

And he loved her still, would love her always. Yet, he was at her grave, he was standing a few feet away staring at her name etched in stone. It meant he was ready to say goodbye and he felt surprised by the ease in which the decision had been reached. To stop his thoughts of her, to leave the mansion and make his way to the cemetery to the patch of earth that held her body. That held a body that would never hold her soul again. She wasn’t even here, just her name in stone, just the dates of a short life – shorter than his own human life – and the epitaph that showed she’d done more than most imagine.

She’d saved the world. A lot. Angel supposed she’d lived, she’d had family, friends that would die for her, she’d loved him and even loved another. And she’d given him more than he could explain. More than he could even fully understand, because until he’d met her. Angel had had no clue how to live. He’d just been a monster, stopped by a conscience and drowned by his own guilt. He’d made attempts at life, he’d made attempts to care about the lives he found he could no longer taunt, maim and then finally kill… but he’d never found the strength or emotion to care until Buffy.

She was the first. The first to make him care. The first to make him love. How was it he was here, at her grave, already, willing to say a goodbye and move on? It startled him but he couldn’t deny the truth of it.

He’d been standing there for an hour now, remembering her. The first time he’d seen her, watched her take in and accept her calling to fight the darkness of the world. So young, so free and suddenly with so much on slight shoulders. She’d awed him with the determination and heart she’d taken on the duty. Unable to turn her back, unable to not care about the people around her. Right and wrong seemed so easy to her. It amazed him and fascinated him. It was still a struggle for him, which was the right and wrong turn to make and he still slipped.

Her mistakes, her judgments and her assumptions were never moral slips. She’d never tasted true darkness, though she lived trapped inside it with the monsters. He had envied it, wanted her to remain untouched by the heavy pound of evil-done that clouded him daily and would’ve done anything to assure it. He’d walked away once thinking it would, denying it was his own fear that had driven to run.

He closed his eyes, he’d once thought if they could’ve been together that nothing would stop him from taking her and keeping her forever. Angel laughed and wondered if she knew now, about the one perfect day they’d had together. About his heartbeat and his love of chocolate and peanut butter? He wondered if her death had given her the gift of that memory back? Or was he still the only one who remembered those moments, that day and the decision to take it back?

A decision Angel found he didn’t regret, because he hadn’t earned it, because they would have to leave the bed sometime and her life was still tied to the darkness. Things wouldn’t have remained steady, perfect and he had yet to earn blood that pumped through his heart. He may never earn it, it may never come but it didn’t matter. He had no regrets, but he couldn’t help but wonder why?

There was no more chances for him and Buffy, hadn’t he always thought in the back of his mind that maybe someday the timing, the moment would be right. That maybe they’d get a one last chance? Angel dug his toe into the dirt and wondered about her soul. Where did it go?

His own soul had been pulled from somewhere and placed inside of him, a vampire. Buffy’s? Where had it gone? He knew so much, but he didn’t know that answer – he just hoped it was bright. No, he knew. He knew she was someplace where the darkness he’d wished she hadn’t had to know was never going to touch her again.

The only thing he regretted was the time he’d been soulless, the guilt of his actions then would always burn him but he had no regrets about him and Buffy. The choices they made, the fights they had, the pain they inflicted and the happiness and love shared. He felt okay, it confused him, but it felt right to be at her grave with a goodbye on his lips and the knowledge he’d love and miss her until the day he was dust.

“Buffy,” his voice was harsher than he expected, he cleared his throat knowing it was fruitless but he wanted to sound clear. He laughed at himself, clear for what the dirt and grass? No, she’d hear him. “Buffy, I…”

“Aww, ain’t it sweet…tell you what, man, what if I make it so you can join this Bunny person?”

Angel tensed at the intruders voice and he sniffed the air. He wasn’t surprised to smell the telltale scent of another vampire, or that mold and dirt was still a part of his clothes. He turned and took in the younger demon, a very young demon from the stance he had and the overly arrogant confidence spread across his vampire visage.

“It’s Buffy,” Angel said before launching himself at the other vampire.

~~

Angel brushed the dust off his leather jacket and shirt, grumbling at the grass stain marring the silk of his shirt and wondering again why he kept buying silk shirts – he just couldn’t seem to help himself. Rolling his shoulders, he started back towards Buffy’s grave intent on finishing what he’d started. He wouldn’t feel right until he did, the lump in his throat and the constriction in his chest wasn’t going to fade until he’d told he loved her, would always and said his goodbye. It was going to hurt, he might cry and he knew it but he knew it was right and it would be worth it. Somehow.

Moving around a tree, he stalled mid-step when he realized that there was a shadowed figured near Buffy’s grave. He frowned, hoping it wasn’t another damn vampire and stalked forward utilizing his skill of stealth. The smell of plums mixed with coming rain told him instantly it was Cordelia. Her scent had always reminded him of a coming rainstorm and he had to admit it fit what he knew of her personality from the time he’d known her before moving to L.A. She’d come to the grave, he’d thought she would have done that sooner but perhaps she’d spent most of the day with Willow and Xander. Disappointment flooded him, as he realized he’d have to wait longer to speak one last time with Buffy.

He finally stopped walking, thinking for a moment of where to go to wait when Cordelia started to talk.

“Hey. I would have been here sooner, but I ended up in The Bronze. Remember when you almost staked me there, I don’t know; I ended up outside the bathroom thinking about that. I thought you were such a freak. You nearly killed me. But then… you saved me from the poor girl, the sociopath who turned invisible and hated me. Then there was so many other things, but I guess I remember the almost staking and Homecoming the most…” Cordelia trailed off and squatted down on her heels, reaching out she touched the epitaph on the tombstone.

“You didn’t save the world that night – but you kept us alive. Then we both lost Homecoming Queen to those two stupid nobodies. I would have way preferred losing to you. Not because you were The Slayer, not because you saved my life, or anything, but because you were worthy competition. I had to step up and fight, I had to keep on my toes. I never bitched at you, or gave you a hard time because of disliking you – well, I did sometimes. But mostly it was, you were my equal Buffy. Truth is if you hadn’t had be out saving the world and beheading demons, you would have given me a run for my money every day in the halls of Sunnydale High. That’s why I couldn’t stand you. Think it’s why I got on your nerves too – why you got so mad I forgot to tell you about the school pictures. Why I didn’t tell you about them? You said that night, while we were hiding that you wanted to win Homecoming because you wanted to be chosen for something besides Slayerdom…” Cordelia trailed off again and took a long deep breath.

“Yeah, I didn’t get it then, don’t know if I get it now, Buffy. I never had time to react that night, there was the damn demon and then that bomb-thingy…and the running and that vampire I scared off, then the damn guys with the guns…then we lost. And I just wanted to take a bath to be honest…” Cordelia laughed. “And I’m totally getting off subject. You want to know what I was going to say, Buffy? What I was going to tell your damn chosen little ass? That you were a blind stupid bitch that’s what.”

Cordelia made Angel jump as she stood up swiftly to punctuate her sudden shift in tone and emotion. “I was thinking, who is this girl… Chosen for more than the freaky things in the night. Doesn’t she know my boyfriend talks about her consistently? Doesn’t she get that Willow and Giles would probably die for her, facing a whole bunch of danger they shouldn’t have to see? Doesn’t she get that she had Angel; this totally to die for boyfriend who sure he went evil and all but it was because of bliss – because of you. Damn Buffy, you had a mother who gave a damn for you. She fought for you. Me, my parents never noticed if I came home or not. I never had to call and lie about staying over at your house or Willow’s for all night cram sessions. And while we were fighting for our lives, Willow and Xander were all worried and guilty about kissing and cheating on me and Oz. They only put us together, because of guilt, because their guilt about me got things screwed up with you. It was all about you. You inspired all this loyalty and love and it sure as hell wasn’t because you can stake vampires. Every single animosity between you and me had nothing to do with your freaky nature Buffy. It was all just life, real life and petty, stupid, childish jealousy on my part. Because you had people who loved you and were loyal to you without any doubt or wonder about it. You could count on them and I hated seeing you take them for granted. Why I did things, why I said things, why I was such a bitch.”

Cordelia took a deep breath and squatted back down. “But, damn it I really did like you too. And I got what your life was like, how hard it had to be with all that pressure and I knew after Homecoming that when you saw me, you saw this normal part of being a teenager you thought you wanted. Being crowned Queen, having popular friends, homework and only cheating boyfriends and not homicidal ones to worry about. I get that. More than I did then, but I got it then. And I never forgot Homecoming, Buffy. Our competition or what you said in that shack. And well, I went to a flower store today. Was going to get you yellow roses to match your yellow hair or something. But there were all these flowers and I looked at them and all could I think of was that they weren’t quite right. And then I walked out of the store and went to dollar store and found this. It’s kind of close to what you or I should’ve won Homecoming night. I remember you said you looked good in a tiara. And I knew you were right. I mean what pretty girl doesn’t look great in a tiara? And I just wanted you to know, that no one is mourning the destiny you were called for. Willow’s mourning her best friend, Dawn’s mourning her sister, Xander’s mourning his friend and his first real crush. Giles is mourning someone that was like a daughter to him. I even saw Angel, Buffy. He’s mourning his love. And me. I’m mourning the only real competition I ever had in Sunnydale High School. So here you go, I dub you Homecoming Queen. Here is your tiara.”

Angel had become transfixed, he’d known at first as he listened he should have left but he hadn’t. Then Cordelia had switched gears so many times in her tone and her body language toward the grave that he couldn’t move. And then she’d given Buffy in her speech something he knew would mean the world to her. Cordelia had told her that she saw Buffy as a normal girl. His mind reeled at it and then he saw the tiara Cordelia had pulled out of a bag, glistening in the moonlight on the tombstone and he stepped forward. He wanted a better look; he wanted to imagine what it would like in Buffy’s hair and the smile she would have getting to wear it. His foot crunched against a fallen branch on the ground and it punctured the silence that had fallen around them.

Before he knew it a cross was in front of him and Cordelia was yelling something about knowing how to use the stake in her other hand. He held up his hands in a protective gesture and shook his head. “It’s Angel. Cordelia it’s me.”

The cross lowered and Cordelia cursed at him. “Fuck. Angel, don’t sneak up on a girl in a Sunnydale cemetery unless you have a death wish…” her eyes widened. “Oh! Oh my God! You don’t do you! Buffy wouldn’t like that and don’t make me have to suicide watch you I don’t think I have the stamina for that.”

“What? No. I just wanted to look at the tiara…” Angel heard himself stammer.

Cordelia stared at him, her mouth opening and closing; he heard her blood swishing through her veins as it got hotter from her embarrassment. She glanced at the tiara and back at him and then her eyes flashed with anger. “You were eavesdropping on my private conversation with Buffy! You dumbass!”

Angel stared at her, what had she just called him. “I am not.”

“Are too. You don’t eavesdrop on people when they are talking to the dead.”

“Well, I didn’t mean to but you were here when I came back – I wasn’t done talking, I hadn’t even gotten to start talking to her when a vampire showed up thinking I’d make a good snack.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “So? I don’t see how a vampire dusting gives you a good reason to eavesdrop on me.”

“It didn’t, I just… you were talking and then… the Homecoming story… damn it I just want to see the tiara okay?”

“What? What the hell, should I have bought you one too? Could had a certain pizzazz but it wouldn’t really look right with the leather.”

“Everything works with leather.”

“Just keep telling yourself that, dumbass. Maybe it will make it true.”

Angel closed his eyes and wondered what the hell to do. How did he stop this never-ending conversation and get to what he wanted. A better look at the tiara, so he could imagine Buffy in it and then say goodbye to the brilliant image of sunshine and gold he was sure it would make. “Cordelia, I still need to… I didn’t get to be alone with her…” he trailed off and looked over her shoulder at where he knew the grave was but Cordelia was blocking.

“Oh!” Cordelia’s eyes grew round and she nodded. “Sorry, I…well you can apologize to me later.” She bent down and grabbed her purse, and the empty bag that had held the tiara, then she breezed past him.

Glancing over his shoulder, he watched until she disappeared from his sight then he hurried to the tombstone and picked up tiara and smiled. “She’s right, Buffy. It looks good on you,” he whispered settling it back down, the image he’d wanted burned into his mind. “Buffy, I…”

And Angel said goodbye to his first love.


Part 7

Angel felt weird. Grief and sadness mixed with relief and acceptance were the emotions that weighed down his chest and it was the last thing he expected. It was weird, weirder even than the fact that Cordelia Chase was sitting in the passenger side of his Plymouth, her feet on the dashboard, munching on a candy bar. Frowning he stepped up to the car, slapped her legs and then glided to the driver’s side and slipped in, quickly readjusting the seat and the wheel to his satisfaction.

“Rude,” Cordelia snapped at him.

And he turned to see her glaring at him and assumed she’d been holding the same expression since then. “You’re getting crumbs on the leather.”

She stared at him and then followed his gaze to her candy bar. “Whatever. I didn’t realize you were Felix Unger.”

“Who?”

“Never mind. Pop Culture. Vampire. Stupid Cordelia,” she muttered to herself and started to settle her feet back up in front of her.

“Hey,” Angel snapped, and slapped her lower leg again. “Feet on the floor of the car.”

“Okay, okay, don’t go grr on me,” she moved back in her seat and proceeded to knock her purse off the seat and topple all its contents onto the floor. “Oh, wonderful, look what you made me do, Angel.”

Angel rolled his eyes and prayed that none of the things a woman like Cordelia carried around with her would end up stuck or staining the floor of his car. “Just pick it all up.”

Cordelia made some sort of sound at him that Angel supposed was the human form of a growl. He chose to ignore her and started the engine and drove quickly out onto the road.

“Oh. Before I forget. Faith wants you to meet her,” Cordelia said, as she straightened up from grabbing the contents of her purse.

“What?” Angel looked over at her blankly.

“Faith. Brunette. A Slayer. Kind of feral in nature. I guess she got out of her coma and everyone forgave her, or something. She wants to meet you. Some tomb by the cemetery near the mansion.”

Faith knew he was in town? How? Damn it, he didn’t want to see anyone. He just wanted to grieve and say goodbye, and be done with it. Why didn’t anyone seem to get that this was a private trip. “How the hell does she know I’m here?”

“The car. Duh. I didn’t tell a soul. She just knew this was your ride.”

“What tomb?”

“Balling, Bearing, Barstool…Barrington!” Cordelia stuttered, stammered and then suddenly smiled as she remembered and caught his eye.

Angel glanced away from her and focused on the road, accepting the fact he was going to have to go talk to Faith. “She didn’t mention why she wanted to see me did she?”

“Do I look like a secretary?” Cordelia sighed. “Wait, don’t answer that, I probably do.”

Angel gave her a sidelong glance; she looked like she always had, stunning and way too pretty for any ego to handle. “Just wondering if she said why, I hope it’s not demons or something. I need to get back to LA.”

“Don’t think it was Hellmouth related. Got the feeling it was about…well… you know,” Cordelia trailed off, her voice lowering and her face turning completely to the right and away from him. It got the point across loud and clear though without making any big deal about. Faith wanted to discuss Buffy. Angel growled.

“Whoa. You aren’t going to bite the messenger are you?” Cordelia’s hand fell into her purse and the cross she’d shoved in his face at Buffy’s grave started to poke out from its lips.

“No,” Angel swallowed. “Didn’t mean to do that out loud. I just don’t want to talk about…”

“Oh, I get that,” Cordelia said, cutting him off before he finished the sentence. “If it is any consolation, I think that Faith may want to talk about her feelings and not yours.”

Angel growled again.

“Okay, right, you do the silent broody thing. Guess you don’t want her feelings on the subject anymore than airing your own to other people…And Hey!”

Angel felt himself tense, Cordelia’s voice had risen to an odd tone and it was angry one. He felt her body coil and spring toward him in the moving car, and her breath was suddenly on his neck. And he had to stop for a stoplight, he slowly hit the car’s brake and waited for Cordelia’s next move.

“You completely, and very rudely eavesdropped on my private feelings on ‘said unnamed subject’ in the cemetery. And then proceeded to put your grubby hands over my special gift for her! You owe me a major apology tiara-man.”

Angel cringed, he had eavesdropped but how could he not have. He’d liked the speech, and he’d liked the tiara, though not in the way Cordelia kept implying. “I am not a tiara-man.”

“Are too.”

“Am not… and you were loud, and I have very sensitive hearing…”

“Don’t play the vampire hearing card with me bub,” she slapped his shoulder. “The lights green.”

Angel glared at her and then looked at where she’d hit his shoulder. She’d really hit him, it had hurt – not much but it had hurt. He pulled through the intersection and took a reflexive breath to help figure out how to get her to stop yelling at him.

“Look, I couldn’t help listening and the tiara was a nice gesture…”

“That’s a compliment not an apology. Not that I am hating the compliment but I rather have both.”

“Cordelia, look…I’m sorry.”

“Thank you. See, was that really so hard.” She poked him in the shoulder then and then settled back on her side of the car. Angel gave her a long sidelong glance as he slowed the car to take the left turn onto Crawford where his mansion was located. She was leaning back and biting haphazardly into her candy bar again, chocolate crumbs falling down from her mouth, missing her clothes and hitting his leather interior.

“Chocolate on the leather, Cordelia,” he muttered.

“Chill out. Shouldn’t be hard you have no body temperature.”

He pulled into the long winding driveway to the mansion and slammed on the breaks by the front doors. “Yeah, well will you be okay alone?”

“In a eerie dark mansion?” Cordelia said getting out of the car. “I don’t know…” she bit her lip.

Angel started to worry, God she wasn’t going to make him take her to the cemetery with him. He wasn’t sure he could stand another car ride with her – oh God, what if he had to bring her back to LA? Oh, God he was driving her back to LA, he could feel it in his bones. He had to get away from her now and figure out how to get his bearings. Of course how he was going to do that while trying not to talk to Faith about Buffy he didn’t know.

“Gotcha!” Cordelia’s loud snort of laughter broke into Angel’s thoughts. There she was standing outside the car, her mouth wide open and her head thrown back in raucous laughter. “You should have seen your face. Your brow was so furrowed as you tried to think of a way to get rid of me for a few hours. Ha! Classic. You are so easy.”

Angel stared at her and felt torn between laughing himself or just driving away without another word. Instead he said. “I don’t want to get rid of you.”

“Yeah right. You want me to shut up and let you brood. Don’t worry; when you get back I’ll be asleep. And I’ll try not to be chatty when I wake up,’ Cordelia laughed again and then winked at him. “’Night Tiara-man, thanks for the use of the car today.”

***

Angel leaned against the Barrington tomb, straightened his leather jacket out before stuffing his hands into the pockets as he watched Faith expertly and swiftly take care of three vampires. She was moving quicker and with more grace than she’d fought in the past, and with a lot less anger. He couldn’t help but feel proud of her, since their time together in LA she’d come a long way.

Faith gave him a wide grin as she wiped dust off her black jeans and strutted up to him. “Didn’t think CC would give you the message. Then I was a bit concerned you might not show.”

“Almost didn’t.”

“Had to get away from CC?”

“She was getting chocolate all over my car.”

Faith snorted through her nose. “You are anal as hell, man.”

Angel closed his eyes and let his head hit the hard wall behind him. He was not in the mood for another woman who would keep giving him snappy comebacks. There had been a reason he’d wanted to be alone. “Look Faith, what is it? It’s not demon problems or something is it?”

“No, no. I got the Hellmouth guarded, got Giles doing the Watcher thing. It’s…okay. I mean I think they all accept me. Some more than others, namely Dawn. Which is good, she’s everyone’s main concern.”

Angel nodded but grew concerned, Faith’s posture was tightening up and she was getting the look she got when she was ready to attack. It made her eyes glint, like a wild cat or dog, she had so much pain inside of her that it wouldn’t do for anyone to forget it. Last time it had gone unchecked she’d gone rogue and done a lot of damage to herself and innocent bystanders. “Faith? What is it?”

Faith groaned and lifted her hands above her head and cracked her back. “It’s all this tension. All this pressure. I just… she’s gone – and I know you get that, better than most. But she was keeping me sane. She didn’t get everything, she couldn’t but it was okay because she got the slayer thing just enough. Now it’s just me. And unless I’m willing to die for two seconds there will be no other Slayer ever. There were two of us; I wasn’t alone. She and I we got close. We were really getting to be something…” Faith grunted and rolled her eyes. “Listen to me I’m like all Hallmark card or something. It wasn’t that mushy. She and I still got on each other’s last nerve but there was a working relationship. A balance. I’m scared.”

“That you’ll lose the balance without her?” Angel asked, beginning to understand why he’d been called to the cemetery for the late night chat. Cordelia had been right; it had been about what Faith needed. It wasn’t really even about Buffy which meant this was something he could do without having to fight his own selfish wants. Relief flooded him. “You can.”

Faith leaned next to him against the tomb and leaned her head toward him. “I can?” She asked her voice uncharacteristically void of arrogance.

“I did. Been a fight but I found my way without Buffy to keep me remembering the right and wrong of things. I knew them on my own, and some of those gray areas too. And I had friends. Let them in Faith, as much as they’ll let you. All of you will get things done. Day after day.”

“And one day after the other, right – cliché but true, huh?” Faith asked him.

“Yeah.”

“And I can call you?” Faith asked.

“Always,” Angel said. “If you need a reality check, or just a lecture. Wesley will be willing, too.”

Faith sighed. “How is he?”

“Fine.”

“Why ain’t he with you?”

“Didn’t let him come. Wanted to be alone.”

“And instead you got stuck with CC.”

Angel laughed. “It isn’t so bad.”

“She’d make me freaking nuts. Want to rip that big mouth right off of her to shut her up.”

Angel laughed. “Long as she keeps talking about nothing I don’t care.”

Faith laughed with him and then took a deep breath. “I think I might.”

“What?”

“Call you and the Wes-man. Keep in touch. I mean Giles is okay. Dawn’s great. But you two are more on the level. I mean I beat you both up, you both hit back and still offered to help me back in LA. I just… what you two did meant something.”

“We both had our reasons.”

“And I did too,” Faith whispered. “Folks in Sunnydale, except maybe Giles, don’t much get the guilt as motivation thing. What do they have to feel guilty about, schoolyard pranks?”

Angel shook his head. “You know where Wes and I are.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” she moved away and looked around. “Well, going to finish my patrol and head back to make sure the kids in her bed. She sneaks up to wait for me, lately. I guess it’s a thing…”

“Take care of her.”

“With my life,” Faith said and she winked at him, then ran away into the darkness.

Angel stared after her, into the void that had wrapped her up and he smiled. She had a handle on things, she knew her limits and he felt sure if she really needed help or thought the pressure was getting to her she’d call the hotel and talk to him or Wesley. Sunnydale was safe, something he’d been sure of anyway but seeing it did bring about a certain relief.

Standing straight, he cleared his mind and made his way back to his car. As he got nearer he heard the distinct sound of a phone ringing and he sighed. He could have sworn he turned the ringer off of his cell phone. Wesley had made him bring it but had promised to only call if something really huge happened. Frowning he got into the car and fumbled around, finding the phone under the seat and wondering when the hell it’d fallen there. It could have been anytime; he never paid much attention to the damn contraption.

“Yeah,” he barked into the phone. “This better be good.”

“Cordelia?” A male voice asked sounding confused.

“What?” Angel said, pulling the phone away from his ear and realizing that it wasn’t his at all. Damn it, it must have fallen out of her purse earlier and he rolled his eyes. “She isn’t here,” he said lamely into the phone. “I’ll have her call you back, who are you?”

“Uh, who are you?” The man asked, his voice now containing anger along with his confusion. “She told me she was with her girlfriends seeing a play some of them were in.”

Angel raised his eyebrows; she’d lied about her whereabouts interesting. Wonder why she hadn’t told this guy she was going to Sunnydale to see her old friends because of Buffy? “Uh, look who are you and I’ll just have her…”

“I’m Alec. Alec Pendergrast, her fiancé. Who are you?”

“Angel, look she’s not around. I’ll just have her…”

“Angel? Angel who? You one of her acting friends?”

Angel sighed and figured it wasn’t up to him to tell this man the truth. “Sure. I mean yeah. I’m in the play. She’s out with her friends, somehow her phone got in my car. I’ll have her call you back, Alex.”

“Alec.”

“Alec. Pendergrass?”

“Pendergrast.”

“Well Alec, she’ll call you in an about an hour or so.”

“So, you are in the play? How long have you known her, she’s never mentioned you?”

Angel leaned back in the seat of the car frustrated, would this guy just shut up and let him hang up. “Nor you, look I need to go, so I can get her back her…”

“Look, do you know about my car?”

His car? Angel took the phone away from his ear and contemplated hanging up when he remembered why the man was wondering about his car. “Look it had a flat…”

“Oh. Well it’s being towed back to LA now. I can leave now to pick Cordelia up if that is what she wants. Just give me directions would you?”

He should have hung up, Angel thought and he gripped Cordelia’s phone tighter. “I’m driving her back up. I live in LA too.”

“Who are you again?”

“Angel.”

“An acting friend of Cor’s?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’d rather pick her up.”

“Look, she has a ride.” Angel snapped. This guy was really starting to bug him and Cordelia had lied to him for a reason, he wasn’t about to break her cover by giving him directions to Sunnydale. Him coming for her was Cordelia’s call. “If she wants to change our plans I’ll have her call you. In fact I’ll just tell her to call you.” Angel clicked off the phone before the man could say anything and smirked.

***

“Call your fiancé.”

Cordelia looked up from where she was sitting on the bed in the mansion and stared at the vampire. He was standing at the foot of the bed, holding out her cell phone and looking at her expectantly, only she was too confused to take the phone. “Call who?”

“Your fiancé?” Angel said but he suddenly sounded uncertain. “I’m pretty sure he said you two were engaged.”

“Who? What? Where?” Cordelia scrunched up her nose, feeling a sudden weight on her chest that she’d thought her trip to the graveyard had released from her body. Fiancé? Engaged? Her? To Alec? He had to be talking about Alec; he did have her cell phone but how. And she wasn’t anyone’s fiancée; she wasn’t engaged. Not yet, and Alec though he was bound too hadn’t been showing any signs of asking for her hand in marriage complete with a big sparkling diamond.

“Alec Pendergrast. He called you on your phone after I talked to Faith. I thought it was my phone at first. Anyway it must have rolled under the seat when you dropped your purse.”

“Alec called me his fiancé?”

***

“That bastard!” Cordelia sat up more fully on the bed and glared at Angel, since Alec wasn’t there. “Where the hell does he get off saying that I’m engaged to him? He hasn’t even asked me, and he’s going around telling people that I’ve said I’d marry him. Sure of himself much? That arrogant son of a bitch.”

Angel stepped away from the bed and set the phone down on a nearby chair. “Yeah, so, not going to call him back soon I take it.”

“Call him back. God, no,” Cordelia said and then she felt all the blood rush out of her. “Angel! Please, please tell me you didn’t tell him where I was, or why I was here. I told him I was going someplace else, a girl’s weekend with acting friends to see a play.”

“Yeah, I know. He thinks I’m an actor friend of yours you’ve never mentioned.”

Cordelia felt both relief and laughter run through her, she could just picture Alec’s face when Angel had said he was a friend of hers on the phone. Alec let her come and go as she pleased, mostly, but she had noticed he got a bit possessive when she mentioned anyone male. She liked it a bit, only because it wasn’t anything crude or out of control.

Hearing Angel on her phone must have driven Alec nuts and that’s what he deserved going around saying she was already his fiancée. “Well that I like. He’s probably fuming about this mysterious guy named Angel. Serves him right. Um, why did he call? Was it just to say he loves me?”

“Uh, no. He heard about his car. Must have been towed in by the police. He’s had it towed back to LA already. Wanted to come get you.”

Cordelia clenched her jaw and could feel her body temperature start to rise up in that restless and uncomfortable way it did sometimes when she was in Alec’s apartment. She climbed off the bed and walked over to a window, fumbling with the heavy velvet curtain over it, trying to get to the glass. It had to be cooler than the air in the room. “You told him I didn’t need one right,” she whispered still trying to fight with the curtain.

Suddenly Angel’s hand brushed her shoulder and the curtain was pulled away from the window. “I told him I was bringing you back, and if you wanted to change our plans you’d call him. Actually, I told him you’d call him back more than once. He kept cutting me off.”

“He’s like that sometimes,” Cordelia whispered, leaning her forehead against the glass, thankful it was cooler than her. She focused on the smooth surface and on making her breathing more even. “And thank you for covering for me.”

“Wasn’t my place not to.”

Cordelia nodded and felt herself start to blush. Angel was standing right behind her, he’d opened the curtain for her and he could probably hear the blood rushing through her body making her hot and uncomfortable. This was beyond embarrassing; she took a deep breath and forced a smile on her face. It was time to save some face.

“Well, sorry for my outburst there and everything. And the phone thing…so, um. I’m just going to rest and everything. I take it we leave at sunset tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”

“Great. Well until then I’ll just stay out of your way, and you stay out of mine. I’m sure we both still have some processing to do, you know with everything…” she trailed off and kept up with the unspoken rule they both had to not say anything about Buffy’s death.

“Right,” Angel said. “Thanks. And you’re welcome.”

Cordelia felt like his eyes were boring through her, was he buying her line about Buffy. It wasn’t true, not anymore anyway. Right now all she wanted to do was remember why she was dating Alec, why she planned to say yes when he did finally ask her to marry him and why she liked her place in his life and his place in hers. There were reasons, she was sure of it, she just wasn’t sure what they were but by the time Angel dropped her off at her apartment complex tomorrow night she would remember them all. And she’d be able to clear everything up with Alec about Angel with few lies and a bat of her eyelashes.

“Ditto, Angel,” Cordelia said.

Angel nodded. “Okay, see you at sunset tomorrow.”

“Great.” Cordelia kept the smile on her face until Angel left the room. Then she turned back to the window and once again let her forehead hit the glass.

Part 8

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

There is No End 4-5   1 comment

Part 4

Cordelia hadn’t allowed herself to think once she started the car and she kept the promise to herself until she’d pushed the doorbell at the house. Willow had said ‘they’ were staying there with Dawn. For the first time since then Cordelia wondered who Willow had meant. The door swung open and there stood Faith her entire body language saying ‘I’m-the-dog-guard-and-ready-to-bite” rather than ‘Hi-I-live-here, welcome’.

“CC? Red said you weren’t going to show,” Faith said.

“Hi to you too, Faith. I went insane, and here I am.”

Faith stared her down and then stepped back. “Well then come…” then she stopped mid-sentence as her eyes focused on what was behind Cordelia on the street. Her expression became suspicious and she shot a glare at Cordelia. “That’s Angel’s ride.”

Cordelia looked back at the convertible, her eyes wide in shock and then quickly back to Faith. “He doesn’t want anyone to know he’s here,” she said quickly, his favor the first thing to pop into her mind.

“How the hell do you know he’s here?” Faith snapped.

“My car broke down on the road, he found me.”

Faith stared at Cordelia a smirk spread over her face. “You on the side of the road, helpless. Yeah, I can see it.”

“I was not helpless.”

“Whatever, CC.”

She walked into the house, and Cordelia stepped inside behind Faith. Cordelia’s mind started to whirl. Faith’s presence was bizarre but she was sure there were good reasons. Maybe she’d come to her senses after knocking herself into a coma. Part of Cordelia kept insisting she didn’t care about the story of why, while most of her realized she wished Faith hadn’t stopped her dog guard act.

Because she was inside now, which meant she had to face everyone and talk about death. Talk about Buffy. There would probably be hugging. And hugging was an intimate moment with people that had always left Cordelia feeling on edge, had her at her most defensive and it wasn’t a good feeling at all. A weight seemed to pull down all her limbs and she slowed down into a standstill.

Faith turned around and stared at Cordelia. “Red’s in the kitchen.”

That’s nice, Cordelia thought and suddenly she remembered she had a bag of clothes with her, of make-up. “I need to shower first, Faith.”

Faith eyebrows shot up but then she seemed to really look at Cordelia, and Cordelia braced herself for the inevitable insult. “You do look like shit, CC. Go on upstairs. I’ll just tell them you’re here.”

Them. Cordelia gulped and ran up the stairs.

***

Applying her lipstick Cordelia held her own gaze in the bathroom mirror and silently told herself that she could do this. She’d come all this way and dealt with flat tires and ick-infested mansion, she could do the grieving thing with Buffy’s family, friends, whatever they wanted to call themselves.

She’d made the stupid decision to do this because she felt like she needed to and Cordelia Chase didn’t not follow-through on the things she started. She decided something and she did it. She’d decided to move LA and now it was her home. She’d decided to become an actress and she’d had gotten jobs. She’d decided to land Alec as her boyfriend and they were in a committed relationship. She’d decided to return to Sunnyhell and deal with the weirdness Buffy’s death had churned up within her and she’d do it.

And then maybe the weirdness would go away. Cordelia smacked her lips together, put her lipstick into her make-up bag and shoved it into the bag where the clothes she slept were in all their wrinkly-glory. Open the door the bathroom, she nearly screamed in fright.

“Oh my God! Cordy,” Dawn said looking startled herself, “I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

“Didn’t mean to,” Cordelia muttered, looking Dawn in the face. “Then don’t lurk about the hallway.”

“Sorry, sorry, I just wanted to see you, I didn’t believe it when Faith said you were here.”

That makes two of us, Cordelia thought and then she realized that Dawn had grown at least a foot since the last time she’d seen her. “You’re so tall!”

Dawn smiled and then immediately broke out in tears. Cordelia felt a complete sense of panic hit her. This wasn’t at all good, this was beyond bad and how the hell had she made the kid cry, she’d just said she was tall.

“But you know it’s not like you’re a giant, you’re you know still pretty short just not as short as you were… you know you got bigger, not big, big…” Cordelia stammered and then suddenly, like she’d forgotten why she was here she realized she was being a fool. “This isn’t about your height is it?” She said more to herself than to Dawn and grabbing Dawn’s hand she pulled her into her own bedroom. By habit she grabbed a hairbrush off of Dawn’s bureau and sat behind her on the bed.

Odd memories of the million of times she had somehow gotten stuck with the babysitting duty. First it had been because it was Xander’s girlfriend, then even after they broke up and he couldn’t watch her due to whatever evil of the moment, Dawn would insist on her. It was because Cordelia would do her hair and let her put on her make-up. It was their secret. Their secret bonding ritual and Cordelia without thinking had pulled them both into something familiar, praying that it would stop the tears. She started to brush Dawn’s hair, noting how long it had grown but managed to bite her tongue before she said anything. The younger woman had calmed down even though tears were still rolling down her cheeks.

Cordelia focused on the brush, through the light brown hair, searching for something to say that didn’t sound empty, or strange. Nothing seemed right in her head. ‘I’m Sorry’, felt like something insincere and empty to really explain how she felt. She didn’t know what she felt except lost, confused and weird. But she didn’t want Dawn crying the entire time she was with her. She wasn’t going to stay long, she’d promised herself. In, out, deal with Buffy and back to L.A. That was the plan, she was sticking to it.

“I’m sorry,” Dawn whispered suddenly.

“Don’t be silly,” Cordelia chastised lightly. “You have nothing to be sorry for,” she explained, giving Dawn a small smile. “I think propriety declares I should say that, but I never got that term. Seems selfish really and since I’m selfish I know selfish. What does it have to do with me; it’s your…”

“She died for me. To save me. Did they tell you I was a Key?”

Cordelia rolled her eyes; she’d gotten the password-protected email Willow had sent her with top-secret Scooby Gang information. She’d wondered why Willow bothered, but had opened it anyway. And immediately not cared, memories were memories and she remembered Dawn. Didn’t much matter to her either way how they’d come to be. “It seemed like way too much to wrap my brain around so I decided to dismiss that information.”

“I’m not worth dying for.”

Cordelia felt her breath hitch and an odd anger surround her. “Don’t say that,” she dropped the brush on the bed and turned Dawn to face her. “Don’t ever say something so monumentally stupid, Dawn Summers. You are a Queen. You remember that?”

Dawn stared at Cordelia but started to nod. “You crowned me and everything. Said that I was the Queen of my whole world.”

“Yep. No one can put you down or dethrone you because you are the Queen. And shall always be.” Cordelia nodded.

Dawn sighed. “It was a game and it doesn’t make… Buffy, she…”

“Did what she had to do, Dawn.”

“Because she was the slayer.”

“Because she was your sister. She had to save you, slayer my ass, it was about saving her sister.”

Dawn grew quiet and started to shake her head. “But I’m not.”

“Yes you are.”

“I shouldn’t be, I should have jumped.”

“No!” Cordelia shook her head looking at the teenager, realizing she was holding Dawn’s face and that tears were hitting her hands. “Listen to me. You can’t do that what if, or say I should’ve…” Cordelia trailed off. “Dawn, I don’t have a clue how incomprehensible the pain is, or any idea what to say to make it better. But don’t say stupid things. Saying you weren’t worth it or stupid playing the stupid should-have game won’t make anything better.”

“I know but…”

“But what?” Cordelia huffed. “But I said stop it, and you want to go back to it after I leave fine but not in my presence. Now, I’m going to finish brushing your hair.”

Dawn sniffled but moved into the brush as Cordelia started to brush her hair again. “This is what I miss most about you being here.”

“Of course you do,” Cordelia said. “No one makes with the pretty like me.”

***

Dropping her bags into the convertible, so she didn’t have to carry them around the house or forget them later, Cordelia prayed to whoever was listening that the rest of her visit wasn’t as hard as seeing Dawn cry and blame herself. Cordelia swallowed over the lump in her throat and wondered why she’d felt so damn driven to do this to herself. Watch a teenager blame herself for her sister’s death. It was all wrong.

“You aren’t trying to avoid me are you?”

Cordelia tensed. She’d heard Xander call after her from the living room when she’d come down the stairs. She’d just pretended she hadn’t and hightailed it to the car. To put her stuff in it, at least that is what she decided when she found herself standing next to the driver’s side. Maybe she had been thinking of fleeing, she wasn’t sure, all she knew was she wasn’t going to. Apparently she didn’t have enough sense at the moment to do something that smart.

“Hi, Xander,” she said turning around and facing him.

“Hi,” he said.

And they stood, staring at each other, until someone Cordelia didn’t know appeared in the door of the house and yelled. “Tea and cookies are ready.”

“I’m there,” Xander shouted. “Thanks, Tara.”

“Girlfriend?” Cordelia asked, glancing at the house where Tara had been.

“Willow’s yes,” Xander said with a smirk. “Come on the tea is made by Giles himself.”

“Ooh,” Cordelia said.

“Oh and my girlfriend is in there and she’s….”

“I’m marrying him, Cordelia. And if you try to get him back I’ll find a way to wreck vengeance on you.”

Cordelia looked at the woman who’d met them just inside the house. She was pretty but had intense eyes that were glaring at her with a dare. And the dare was about Xander. Cordelia almost wanted to laugh.

“Shh, Anya, don’t say that we can’t tell them yet.”

“Wouldn’t it cheer everyone up?”

Anya. The name seemed familiar. “Oh, weren’t you new to Hellmouth the last year of class? You showed up, right after Xander and I broke up. I told you all sorts of things I wish would happen to him.”

Anya flinched. “And I couldn’t grant a single one, well I did grant one, but you did something there and made it so Giles could fix it. He broke my power center and human I became. And now I’m getting every human girl’s dream and you can’t have him.”

Cordelia stared at the woman. “Every human girl’s dream? Xander?”

“Um, Anya, honey why don’t you go tell everyone Cordy and I will be in, in a minute.”

Anya glared. “No Xander for you,” she said one more time to Cordelia before leaving the room.

Xander pulled Cordelia into the dinning room and gave her a half smile. “She’s a bit…”

“Wacky.” Cordelia suggested.

“Yeah.”

Cordelia swallowed and felt tense again. This was Xander and she didn’t know what to do or say. He was the first boy she’d been with she’d thought she might love. And maybe she had and it had ended so badly, yet he was Xander. He’d helped her buy her prom dress and kept her secret about her father. Well, until she left town anyway. Soon everyone else found out about her going from riches to rags. “I…don’t have a clue what to say about Buffy,” she finally blurted out.

“I’m surprised you’re here. I mean Wil said you said…”

“I couldn’t come for the funeral. That would have been…. I didn’t even really. I just had to come here for some lunatic-like reason, I guess.”

“Well, you know since you are feeling crazy, let me hug you?”

Hugs. Cordelia held back the urge to roll her eyes, she had known there would be hugs. But then again, hugging Dawn had felt nice before she left her room after saying goodbye. This was a drive-by-condolence call after all. “You better, Xander, I’m not going to be here all day.”

Xander stopped short before hugging her and met her eyes. “You really mean that don’t you? I really did hear you upstairs telling Dawn goodbye already?”

Uncomfortable didn’t begin to describe how she felt, Cordelia decided and she reached behind her and sat down with a thud in one of the dinning room chairs. Xander quickly sat down next to her and started to shake his head. “You can’t stand to talk about her for more than five seconds, even now, when she’s…dead.”

Cordelia heard the break in his voice and stubbornly kept her eyes locked with his brown. Even though they were accusing and betrayed. “What did you think Xander, I sit and listen to you all tell Buffy tales between the crying and blaming of yourselves?”

“There had to be another way… another way besides one of them having to die.” Xander ground out through his teeth. “And what is wrong with thinking that? With wanting to talk about her, and share. You knew her, Cordy. The hero she is.”

“Yeah, and maybe that’s why I’m here, because it sucks and it’s sad. And it got to me more than I ever expect. Hell, I cried. And I denied. And I got mad but then I remembered. Slayers are supposed to die and what does that change about my life.”

“And your life is all that matters, right Cordy? What about Buffy’s.”

“What about yours,” Cordelia snapped. All of them had wrapped their world around Buffy Summers and she knew it was too soon for them to not be grieving and thinking about her none stop but she had to wonder. Would they ever stop? Why had she wanted to step into this place of grief? And would she ever stop asking herself that question.

“She’s my best friend,” Xander whispered, voice breaking and brown eyes full of tears and Cordelia closed her eyes.

“I know. She was…well my friend. In a way. And special and brave. And a bitch.”

“Hey,” Xander said sharply.

Cordelia ignored his anger. “Deny it if you want Xander, Buffy wasn’t perfect and I call it like I know it. I’m not happy she’s dead, I’m not happy Dawn is blaming herself, that you are and I’m sure Willow and Giles are too. But it’s what it is and I think…” Cordelia trailed off and she sighed. “I don’t know what I think and do you know how irritating that is?”

“If it makes you shut up,” Xander said, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand but his mouth had turned up a bit into a small smile.

Cordelia rolled her eyes at him but bit her tongue, figuring that in his grief Xander Harris deserved the last word. Then suddenly she was swallowed up by his arms and very aware suddenly that Dawn had not been the only one to grow while she was away. He was all broad and big, strong really, she felt like she was being hugged by a man, and the fact it was Xander Harris nearly fried her brain.

“I miss you, Cordy,” he whispered into her ear.

Her heart tightened and she squeezed him a bit, blurting out the truth. “I miss you too.”

Xander held on for a moment longer and then let her go and leaned back in the chair he was still sitting on. “So, bye?”

Cordelia nodded. “Yeah, bye.”

“Willow and Giles are both in the living room. I’m going out back, Anya will want to know.”

Cordelia watched him stand up and decided what the hell. “Xander?”

“Yeah?”

“Anya’s got herself one sexy man.”

The grin that got her was almost worth the madness of the trip, she thought for a moment but then Xander ruined it by pointing to the living room and saying Willow and Giles with his eyes. She looked away from him and down at her lap, once again reminding herself that Cordelia Chase didn’t quit.


Part 5

The living room wasn’t more than a few steps away, less than a minute of walking and she’d be in there facing Willow and Giles. Cordelia couldn’t move and she bit her cheek and focused on the slight sting of pain, willing her determination.

Two people left, two people left and then she could leave – the house, not Sunnydale she thought with fear. Talking to Willow and Giles wouldn’t signify the end, it was only two more stops on this crazy, un-thought trip brought on by Buffy’s dying. Grief? Was she really grieving, Buffy? Was that why she was acting so weird? Why she felt like she had to be here and nowhere else right now. Cordelia wanted to leave but she knew she couldn’t, and a part of her didn’t even want to – and that was what was so confusing.

She’d really thought Buffy, her watcher, and her scoobies hadn’t had an impact on her life. Yet here she was afraid, scared but certain of what she was doing, as insane as it made her feel. Cordelia started to walk and wondered if it was really possible to feel sure and uncertain simultaneously.

“Where is Xander?” Anya’s voice barked, the second Cordelia entered the living room.

“Outside.”

Anya smiled. “Remember…”

“No Xander for Cordelia. I know,” Cordelia reassured the strange woman and shook her head. “Geesh.”

“I need…I mean we…the tea is cold,” Willow babbled and she grabbed the teapot and ran out of the room.

“I’ll go help her, “ Tara said, following her girlfriend and giving Cordelia a small shy smile for a hello.

Cordelia returned the smile and then left it there on her face. A mask that she felt she needed as she let her eyes find Giles’ face. “Hi.”

“Cordelia.”

Cordelia shift her weight from foot to foot, mentally shook herself and then moved to the couch and sat down. Her eyes fell on the coffee table and all the cookies spread out on a plate. “That’s a lot of cookies.”

“Willow and Dawn keep making more,” Giles said and cleared his throat. “Cordelia?”

Cordelia looked away from the table and at him, felt his gaze on her and felt all the questions he had in them. And his grief, his confusion and that he really didn’t know what to say to her anymore than she had any clue what she wanted to say to him.

“I had to come. Not really sure why. I tried not to but then there I was driving and then here I was. I’m leaving right after I talk to Willow. I just… I had to come,” she babbled suddenly. “Buffy wasn’t really my friend, well she was but it was complicated by who we were. That was no secret. I guess I just needed to come and see everyone, say something. Not that there is anything to say but that I know you all miss her. More than me. It affects you all so much more than me and here I am intruding – again. Just like I always did in the library. The honorary Scooby who never really belonged.”

“You belonged Cordelia,” Giles said softly. “In your way you belonged. You helped, you kept things in perspective and they, I even, sometimes needed that. You kept her secrets.”

“No one would have believed me anyway,” Cordelia laughed. “Stupidity reigns supreme here in Sunnydale. Guess it’s really the only way to survive the Hellmouth though. Denial.”

“You kept it for far more better reasons than that,” Giles said and sighed. “Though, I am surprised to see you here.”

“Me too.”

Giles nodded. “Grief manifests itself in surprising ways sometimes.”

“Is that why I’m here?” Cordelia asked bluntly.

Giles straightened his posture and Cordelia realized she’d shocked him. He thought she was sad and grieving Buffy, as much as the rest of them. Was she? She didn’t even know. She knew she felt sad, she knew she felt that it was unfair that someone her age had been taken from life so soon. But she also knew that Buffy had been the Slayer. Wasn’t it right that she had died saving the world and better yet her sister? Why grieve something that had happened for what mattered?

“Yes.”

Cordelia gasped. Giles voice had been so sure and she blinked, realizing that tears were falling down her face. She hadn’t cried since listening to Willow’s message why was she crying now. He was right, Giles was right, damn it. She was grieving Buffy. Her stomach flipped on her due to the realization but confusion still screamed throughout her mind.

And then Giles hugged her. It was awkward, short and it made her feel better, stronger, more sure and okay in the fact that she could miss Buffy, that she could mourn for her. He pulled back as quickly as he had hugged her and handed her a handkerchief, which she wiped at her tears with and sniffled.

“I just totally ruined my make up.”

“I won’t tell a soul.”

Cordelia smiled and handed him back the handkerchief. “Thank you. For the truth.”

Giles smiled back at her. “Of course. Thank you for stopping by, Cordelia.”

“I’m going to tell Willow, I really don’t want any tea.” She stood up and steeled her spine. “Goodbye.”

Giles nodded. “I do hope to see you again.”

Cordelia nodded and smiled as she walked toward the kitchen. It would be nice to see Giles again but a part of her couldn’t help but think that she didn’t really want too. The circumstances would probably be just as bleak as the current situation and bleak was something she really didn’t want in her life. Bleak had been one of the things she’d left Sunnydale to get away from.

“Cordelia!” Willow exclaimed jumping out of her girlfriend’s arms.

“I don’t want any tea,” Cordelia said. “I mean, thanks for making it and all but…”

“I’ll leave you two alone.”

“You don’t have to!” Both Cordelia and Willow said to Tara.

Tara continued her retreat and gave a wise smile. “It’s Willow’s turn with you. I’m going to go check on Giles, then Dawn.”

Cordelia crossed her arms and uncomfortably glanced at Willow, who was looking just as uncomfortable. There was so much to cover and nothing really to say, at least that was what kept spinning through Cordelia’s mind. What could she say to Willow? Sorry about Buffy? Well duh, of course, it didn’t really cover anything and even though Cordelia realized she was in her own grieving process now. As weird and as foreign as it felt to her, she still didn’t know why she’d come here and suddenly she was facing the most important person in the house. Willow.

And who the hell had made Willow the most important? Cordelia asked herself and looked at her nails and realized with horror she needed to repaint her nails. “What is will all the chipping?” She muttered to herself.

“What?”

“The chipping. My nail polish.” She showed Willow her nails. “I didn’t pack any nail polish, or anything. God, I was so pathetic in my planning on this trip…”

“So, you did mean it. The not coming?” Willow blurted out.

“Oh. Yeah. I did. And I didn’t. Because well…”

“Well, obviously, there you are. I mean here you are and…”

“We are being sad. We are being lame, and frankly I’m tired of it,” Cordelia said and she took a deep breath. “Only, I really don’t know what to do. This isn’t the type of situation I really know how to deal with. Give me a guy to flirt with, or a fashion faux pas to fix and…”

“Well, how’s my outfit?” Willow suddenly said. “Maybe we can discuss the disaster that is me with clothes?”

Cordelia stepped back, as Willow moved closer to her and did a bit of a spin to show off the dress she was wearing. Cordelia raised an eyebrow and studied it closely, checked on Willow’s hair, make-up and felt a smile form on her face. “You know being a lesbian has totally helped your fashion sense. It’s a bit Renaissance Fair for me but it suits you, very wicca-y without being all black. I like the soft colors and your make-up – as in you wearing it – very nice. You’ve come such a long way from the Softer Side Sears jumpers you used to let your mom dress you in Wil? Is Tara doing the dressing now?”

“Wow. That was like 4 % compliment. Cordelia! You’ve grown as a person.”

Cordelia nodded. “And you have grown as a shopper. It’s all good.”

Willow nodded and her eyes grew big. “That was fun. I mean I laughed, I really laughed. Wow. It was… okay. It was actually okay to laugh.”

“Well, duh.” Cordelia said. “She died Willow, not your sense of humor.”

Willow bit her lip. “It’s just, there is no Buffy. It’s not right. It feels very not right. Something happens and I think I have to tell Buffy. I see shoes she’d like in a window, or I think I see a Vampire and I’m like… I have to tell Buffy. But there is no Buffy. Now I can only tell Dawn or Anya about the shoes… and I don’t like to talk to Anya about shoes. Anya is not a person to talk to about shoes. Not that she doesn’t have good taste in shoes. She has your taste in shoes. But she’s not Buffy. And then there is Faith. Faith is the only Slayer now. One and only Chosen One. But no Buffy…and see I laughed. And you complimented me and I want to tell Buffy. I want to tell Buffy that Cordelia Chase likes my make-up.”

“Anya has my taste in shoes? No wonder Xander’s with her.”

Willow laughed. “See! You made me do it again.”

“It’s okay, Willow.” Cordelia stepped closer to the other woman, praying that Willow wouldn’t start crying or some such thing. She didn’t want more tears, Dawn’s and her own were plenty.

“My head knows, my heart not so much. But I won’t blubber. Not in front of you. Can’t cry in front of Queen C. You’d do something treacherous.”

Cordelia smirked. “Take a picture of your running mascara and get some geek to post it on the Internet for me.”

“See! Evil!” Willow said.

“Or, get it on the Sunnydale Evening News. How Not To Wear Mascara? Willow Rosenberg, Exhibit A-Z.”

Willow giggled. “Down right satanic.”

Cordelia nodded and then nearly toppled over when Willow had her arms wrapped around her in a tight hug. She responded similarly, shocked by the weight of the emotions that were hitting her.

“It feels all real now. Someone who wasn’t here but knows is here and not it’s all real.” Willow whispered.

Cordelia felt her throat close and her eyes start to sting and realized too late that she was going to cry again. “I know. Makes it all too real for me too. I think it’s why I came. I couldn’t believe it unless I…”

“I don’t want to believe it. I keep trying not to believe it. But it’s all true. No more Buffy. But still there are things…”

Cordelia tightened the hug and just nodded against Willow’s shoulder. Willow squeezed her back and then moved backward, letting her hands run down Cordelia’s arms and she grabbed Cordelia’s hands.

“There are things… that are still… like you are still funny.”

“Something has changed. You just totally copped a feel of my breasts.”

Willow blushed, “I well, they are… don’t tell Tara!” Her eyes widened in alarm and she started to laugh. “See! I feel so much better and all guilty.”

“Don’t be guilty. Lord, what is it with all of you and the guilt. There is no guilt to be had here. Everyone is guilt-free. Well, except you and the copping of a feel. Even Xander didn’t cop a feel.”

Willow took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. “I think you are a bad influence on me, Cordelia.”

“Better than being a good influence. Who wants to be that?” Cordelia asked, and she sighed. “I need to go now Willow, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I just… you understand right? Plus, I still need to see Buffy.”

Willow’s face fell and then grew concerned. “I could go with…”

“God, no! No offense but I want to do it alone. She and I… it’s personal.”

“Right.”

“I still don’t know what to say to you. You lost so much more than me.”

Willow shook her head. “We all lost her. The world lost her.”

“World Schmorld, Willow. She was your best friend. Screw the Slayer thing and be selfish about it. You deserve that.”

Willow wrinkled her nose and then got a determined look on her face. “Well, okay…but Cordy? I refuse to say goodbye to you. Do you have an email?”

Cordelia stared at the red head and saw the look on her face. Willow’s determined face. Cordelia knew it, she’d seen it for the first time in kindergarten and even she had known to not argue with it. “Yeah, at work,” she muttered and took the pen and post-it Willow seemed to have grabbed out of thin air. Quickly she wrote down her email address and handed it to the girl. “There you go.”

“Okay, good,” Willow nodded. “We’ll keep in touch.”

Cordelia nodded, hugged Willow one more time quickly and waved goodbye – not wanting to be yelled at for saying it and hurried out of the house as quickly as she could without running. And found Faith leaning up against the hood of Angel’s car her arms crossed.

“Took your damn time, CC. Figured you’d be faster.”

“What the hell do you want?” Cordelia asked the other Slayer. Faith was not part of her journey of Buffy-Grief. Her last stop was going to be Buffy herself and no one else.

“Angel.”

“Well take it up with him,” Cordelia snapped and wondered if the woman was still a bit evil.

“Look, he helped me out a while back. Got Buffy to even give me another shot and now here I am. I’m working hard to keep it together, keep things safe. Keep Dawn safe for Buffy… and I ain’t going to say this more than once. You are going to tell Angel to meet at the Barrington Tomb in the cemetery by his mansion. Got it.”

Cordelia shrugged. “I’ll give him the message but I’ll be honest, he didn’t look sociable. He looked like he might want to jump into the fire place – even before he had a fire in it.”

Faith shrugged. “Whatever, just tell him I want to see him.”

Cordelia got into the car and started it, staring at Faith who still stood crossed armed in front of it. “I’ll tell him, now move or I’ll run you over.”

Faith laughed and moved to the side and Cordelia gunned the engine and roared off the street. She didn’t even know where she was going, not back to the mansion, not yet. Not to Buffy’s grave, she wasn’t ready too and her head was spinning with Dawn, Xander, Giles and Willow’s faces and everything that had been shared in the last hour or so.

Part 6

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

There is No End 2-3   1 comment

Part 2

Angel hesitated before starting the car, looking sideways at the young woman sitting in his passenger seat. It felt wrong that he didn’t mind. He’d argued with Wesley for an hour that he needed to go to Buffy to… he wasn’t sure what he would do when he got to the cemetery, but he’d been insistent that he go it alone.

It was about her and him, their connection and whatever happened, whatever came over him had to be done in private. Including the journey, which he was planning on taking his time doing, driving slowly, tempting dawn to come before he reached Sunnydale so he’d have to wait longer. Prolong his visit.

But now his journey wasn’t alone and it wasn’t with a stranger. Nor was it with a friend, which in some way and manner Wesley had become. In his passenger seat sat Cordelia Chase, in the back seat of the convertible was her suitcase and she was now staring at him, expectantly and he thought maybe impatiently.

“Are you going to start the car?”

“Oh.” He ignited the engine and pulled back out on the road, glancing at the Mercedes stranded on the side of the road. “Are you sure about just leaving your car?”

“It’s not mine.”

Angel stared at her.

“I didn’t steal it. Geesh. Think much of me.”

“Well…” he trailed off realizing she hadn’t meant did he remember her but that he didn’t think highly of her. “I mean I was surprised to see you, you know on the side of the road.”

“I’m just glad you weren’t looking for dinner.”

He smiled wryly she never had been very tactful, choosing to go to the point of things and he had to admit it was refreshing after days of Wesley and Gunn walking around him on eggshells. Not sure what to do or say about Buffy.

“It’s my boyfriends. I’ll call him as soon as this damn thing gets a signal.”

Angel glanced over at her again and saw she was fiddling with a cell phone. “Mine is always dying.”

“You have a cell phone?”

“Wesley insisted all of us have one for quick communication in dire circumstances. Usually it doesn’t help much.”

“Wesley?” Cordelia’s eyes widen. “As in Wesley? Giles’ Meek and Stuffier Twin?”

Angel laughed. “He’s gotten less meek. Actually, he’s not bad in a fight. Useful with the research. He helps me out.”

“Out?”

“In L.A. I have an agency. Private Investigations but we specialize in supernatural stuff… I try to help.”

“You mean, you help us L.A. citizens not get eaten by vampires and other stuff?”

“I try to,” Angel gripped the steering wheel tighter. Buffy’s face and then Doyle’s flitting through his mind followed by a brief second of Darla. Anger and emptiness filled him and he forced himself to remind himself why he hadn’t fallen to pieces. “It’s all that matters, I guess,” he whispered.

“Well what else are you going to do? Go into movies, they’d wonder why you insisted on only filming at night. Some guys have big egos but they only cater to the unknowns so much you know…” Cordelia trailed off and Angel heard her swallow. “It’s good you still help fight the big bads that are out there,” she said her voice softer than usual.

Angel had to agree, it was good he was helping, but he didn’t know what to say. Instead he kept his eyes on the road and tried not to think about why Cordelia had been heading to Sunnydale. It was for the same reason as him and he was reminded again that he’d wanted to do this alone. Yet, was Cordelia really company? He looked over at her and realized she’d never think of going with him to the cemetery, she’d probably go to the house first. She’d be out in the daytime and not lurking at night in any shadows.

He was still on his own journey, to Buffy, on his own. The way he wanted it and that was why it felt okay to have her in the car. She hadn’t brought the reason they were both there up once and he had a feeling she wouldn’t.

“Where do you want me to drop you off?” He asked.

“Oh. Um. My mom’s I guess. She has a guest room, I think. I forgot to even call her. I wasn’t really planning…” she trailed off and smiled at him. “I don’t always think ahead when I decide to visit Home Sweet Hellmouth.”

“Where it used to be?”

“Oh. No. Government took that away when they got my dad on paying his taxes. That and everything else. No my mom left him and found a smaller place and a new husband. It’s on Emery Street.”

Angel nodded. “Okay.”

“Angel?”

Angel glanced at Cordelia and waited.

“Thank you for saving me from the side of the road and for the ride.”

Angel shrugged. “Wasn’t going to leave you out there in the dark.”

Cordelia nodded. “No, right. You’re a dark avenger. Saving people from the big bads of the world.”

Angel looked at her and felt something tug at him. He would have helped anyone in her situation, especially so close to the Hellmouth, but he had felt a small sense of relief it hadn’t been a stranger, he’d liked seeing a familiar face and hearing a familiar voice. It had been nice. “It was nice to see you. See a familiar face.”

She smiled brightly at him but suddenly turned away her smile fading away. “I never wanted to come back here.”

Angel nodded to himself, turning his focus back to the road toward Sunnydale. He felt the same way, he never liked visiting Sunnydale and this time was especially unwanted.

***

Angel pulled his car in front of the house Cordelia pointed out as her mothers and looked at it. It was sterile. There was nothing on the lawn or the front porch that showed the tenants were even human.

“It’s ugly,” Cordelia said as she turned and pulled up her suitcase. “No wonder I’ve never visited before and didn’t think to call her first. At least Daddy has a sense of style,” she paused and face him with a smile on her face. “You know, a sense of style due the fact he had large sums of cash from not paying his taxes.”

Angel gave her a wry chuckled and figured it was part of how she dealt with her parent’s choices. “I’ll wait.”

She moved out of the car and looked at him. “For what?”

“For you to get inside.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes as she straightened up but she didn’t turn around. Instead she stayed standing, facing him and he realized her breathing was getting louder and more controlled.

“Thank you,” Cordelia said as if it was one word and the she spun on her heel. Angel watched her make her way onto the porch, realizing with each swing of her hips that she was building up her determination to get through whatever would happen after she rang the bell.

He heard the doorbell when she rang it and started a bit. He’d forgotten how quiet towns like Sunnydale could be after being in the city so long. The sound of a doorbell at night could be heard by him at this hour of the night. So much could be heard at this hour in a small town, yet no one spoke of the screams that had to punctuate the air of the city over the Hellmouth. He frowned and wondered at the oddness of the world, how humans remained so ignorant of their surroundings and what was around them.

He jumped in his skin again when he heard a loud knocking and focused his gaze toward the porch. Cordelia had put the suitcase down and was now knocking on the door. A loud insistent, constant rapping the kind that made the most reluctant hurry to open the door to stop the sound. Cordelia knew how to be annoying, Angel thought, waiting for her mother to answer the door.

The door swung open a full minute of knocking later but it was a man in a ratty brown robe and a sour expression. The un-welcoming body language of the man made Angel uneasy and he found himself hoping Cordelia hadn’t picked the wrong house. She had said she’d never been there before.

“It’s me, Cordel…”

“Who?”

Angel closed his eyes and realized that Cordelia’s conversation with this man wasn’t going to go well at all.

“Cordelia. Chase. Your wife’s daughter.”

“Oh. You. She’s not here.”

“What?”

“She said she was restless, paid for her to go to Paris.”

“What!” Cordelia shrieked and then she just blew out some air. “Well, Frank, I’m in town for a few days, so if you could just let me in I can settle myself into your guest room.”

Frank stared at her, Angel watched and he could see Cordelia shifting her weight from foot to foot. Then her stepfather burst out laughing and shut the door in her face.

Angel hopped out of his car and made his way up to the porch, listening to Cordelia curse out mother’s husband with hopes that all his hair fell out and with the fact she knew a witch who would curse him with boils if she asked. She jumped when she saw him and let out a small squeal of shock.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that.”

“Sorry, just thought I’d carry this back for you. You seemed busy with the boil-cursing.”

“Whatever. I knew I hated that man. He’s beneath my mother, he just makes a lot of money so she… and she took off to Paris without telling me? And worse not asking me to with her!”

Angel tossed her suitcase into the car. “Getting back in?”

“Where am I going to go? I don’t have enough money for the sleazy motel Faith used to live in.”

Angel stared at her. “No?”

“No.” Cordelia sighed. “I told you I didn’t plan this trip home very well. I didn’t plan it at all. In fact I had decided there was no way I was…” she trailed off, looked down at the ground before suddenly opening the door and getting into the car. “This sucks.”

Slipping behind the wheel of his car Angel looked straight ahead, he had an idea in his head but was it really the right idea? He wasn’t sure but it seemed to be the only thing he could do and he wasn’t about to leave Cordelia alone. But there was one other place he could take her and they would let her in. He wouldn’t even have to wait to be sure of that. “I could take you to…Rivello.”

Cordelia gasped and her mouth hung open as she stared at him and he heard her heart beat speed up and could smell the tang of aroused fear.

“Or you can stay with me.”

And as quickly as he’d scared her she calmed down and nodded. “Choice number two. That one.”

He nodded and turned the key in the ignition. He didn’t blame her, the last people he wanted to see were the people sleeping in Buffy’s house right now. He had no plans to see them at all but he wondered about Cordelia. He didn’t think she’d really come all this way because of Buffy and not see them. She probably just wasn’t ready to see them but he had to admit it puzzled him.

She’d dated Xander and she’d spent more time with them all than he ever had. He’d only been connected to Buffy. He shook his head mentally and focused on the drive to where he planned to the spend the daytime hours before he finally found the strength to go to the cemetery.


Part 3

The awareness that he didn’t breathe flooded Angel the moment he stepped into the mansion. All the reasons he’d left Sunnydale were in the dust-filled air bringing up the days he’d lived in these rooms. The urge to inhale in to steady the slam of emotions was instinct, a tangible thing within that hadn’t died when he’d been turned. It was like the memories of his human life, and right now memories were thick in the air around him arousing pain and guilt. He was trapped unable to move, or do anything but remember.

In this mansion he’d been evil.

He’d lived here and shown no mercy to the human life living around him. He’d felt glee in the violent deaths of men and women whose names he hadn’t known. By chance, luck, or reason he’d been restored his soul, sent to hell and then returned. And found his world dominated once again by Buffy, the protectiveness he felt along with admiration of her strength. He’d fallen even more in love with her and never thought to question why he’d been returned to the world until The First.

The First Evil had used both his guilt and the incessant craving for blood to try woo him back into being Angelus. It’d been harrowing, the vivid dreams of his past, the memories, seeing The First manifested as Jenny Calendar near Giles, other people of his past he’d emotionally tormented and murdered. He’d been weakened by the guilt, let it eat at him and had almost fallen for the trapped and then resolved to give up. He’d almost killed himself, tried to take himself out of a world his guilt told him he didn’t belong.

And again because of chance, luck, or reason he’d been saved. And he had learned things about what it really took to be a hero. The inner strength and determination that it took to do what had to be done not only because it had to be done but because it was right. Once again Buffy had been his salvation. She’d opened his eyes to what he could do with his second chance at existence and that maybe he could make some difference, maybe make up for the evil he’d done.

He’d been brought back from Hell, a place he rightly belonged and it had become clear that it hadn’t been to love Buffy. His reasons for being at Sunnydale never had been about a love affair. Loving Buffy had been a gift but it hadn’t been the purpose for their meeting, or maybe even their connection. And days passed and he saw more and more that he was hurting Buffy by being in her life but not a part of if. He was hurting too, seeing it, feeling selfish and weak for wanting her and he knew he had to leave. He’d had to leave to find out why he he’d been returned to the world, to find out if he could do something to atone and he’d had to leave to allow Buffy to go out into the world and find out who she was apart from the dark world of vampires and slayers.

And In the years since he’d gained friends, lost one and nearly lost the rest. He’d faced his past in more ways than he’d thought possible. Recently he’d fallen into his own darkness and invited the evil inside of him to take over, feeling bitter and unable to care enough to maintain control. But instead he’d found a deeper capacity inside of himself and more knowledge of who he really was and why he was fighting evil in L.A. and with his newfound clarity he’d felt stronger.

But back in the mansion, where he’d made the decision to leave, the reason he was became heavier and pushed against his chest. Irrational thoughts raced through his head; what if scenarios about not leaving, or staying in touch with her more often. It all mixed with the denials he hadn’t allowed himself to acknowledge but had been flitting through his mind since Wesley had told him the news.

He had been hoping when he got here and stepped into a part of his Sunnydale world he’d see her again. See Buffy standing in front of him smiling, laughing and embracing him. Again he felt an odd sensation in his chest as he took an unneeded jagged breath. It wasn’t harder to breathe, he didn’t breathe, it was that he thought what he hadn’t let himself think in days. What he was feeling was grief and for the first time since Wesley had told him the news he allowed himself to think the words.

Buffy was dead and he’d come here to say goodbye.

“Hello!” Cordelia’s voice startled Angel and he blinked, realizing that the woman he’d picked up on the side of the road was standing next to him staring at him with a look he couldn’t read.

“Cordelia,” he said, feeling for the first time since he’d found her that he didn’t want her around. Maybe she’d be more intrusive than he’d thought, what did he really know about her.

“Not only is this place covered in dust but there are spider webs everywhere, you know in between the cobwebs and dust bunnies. I mean I appreciate the offer but I think I rather sleep in your car than on that bed of dusty-ickiness.”

Or she’d keep it superficial, he thought. “I have stuff in the car, in the trunk, some linens to cover up the dust and crap. I didn’t want to sleep on it either,” he admitted to her. His mind falling on the bed, on him and Buffy falling asleep on it once and the next day her mother coming over to remind him how young Buffy really was, how much life she had left.

“Keys.”

“Huh?”

“For your trunk, dumbass. If you are going to brood I’m getting the damn sheets and stuff. I’m tired.”

He met her eyes and she held the gaze and raised her hand palm forward for him to put the keys into and something about it all comforted him, and the doubt he’d had when she’d intruded on his thoughts earlier vanished. He fished into his pocket and handed her the keys. She flashed him a smile and then walked away and even before she’d left the room he’d stopped hearing her heels on the hard floors. His mind back on Buffy, thinking about what had been and why he was here.

***

It was weird, Cordelia thought, slipping the key into the trunk of Angel’s convertible. Not once had either of them mentioned why they were in Sunnydale. Cordelia knew he was here to grieve, to mourn, to do whatever he needed to do to accept, or maybe even not accept Buffy’s death. And she was here to…Cordelia sighed and lifted up the trunk. Her eyes sparkling with happiness at what she saw. A rolled up futon cushion that looked as though when freed from the confines of the twine would be as wide as the bed-bug ridden bed inside the abandoned mansion. Plus sheets and three pillows.

“Three pillows,” she whispered to no one and giggled. Who knew Angel was a pillow vamp, she thought her nose wrinkling as she tried to figure out how she was going to carry everything. She couldn’t ask him to, he’d already started his grieving; she’d seen everything hit him the moment they stepped into what had been his home. She wouldn’t invade that, not when he was being so nice to her, at a time she was sure he’d wanted to be completely alone. She wanted to be alone herself and whatever it was she was feeling about Buffy’s death, wasn’t close to the pain that Angel was feeling.

“At least he managed to plan ahead for his sleeping quarters,” Cordelia said to herself, berating herself for not thinking that far ahead. She’d been so busy not planning to be here at all she’d never really thought that her mother might be out of town. And even her mother had been in town the door could have still been slammed in her face. Only instead of her stepfather laughing, her mother would have been saying an insincere apology. Cordelia shivered, she was getting cold.

Pushing away all thoughts she grabbed the bedding materials, putting them momentarily in the back seat of the car, before closing the trunk and locking it up again. She put the keys in her pocket, wondering briefly if Angel would let her borrow the car tomorrow and then figured out how to load her arms up. Quickly she made her way back up from the road to the mansion, dumped everything on the bed, scrunching up her face in disgust at the dust. It was then she noticed Angel had lit a few candles and had seated himself near the fireplace. He had a lighter and she saw the logs but he had yet to light it. He was just staring into it and she bit her tongue, hard, to stop herself from saying something but it worked against her. “Ow,” she snapped, rolling her eyes at herself.

Angel looked over his shoulder at her.

“I was going to ask you something stupid, about the non-existent fire you are staring at…and well, I tried not to and all it got me was pain. You know, since to shut myself up I have to draw blood…” she trailed off, realizing she’d just said ‘draw blood’ to a vampire and then she throw up her hand in a gesture that said to ignore her. And Angel did turning back to the fireplace.

Cordelia sighed and looked around the room, trying to look for anything that made it seem less icky to focus on. The candles were nice, the sun rising outside was lovely too, she thought and then she tensed. She glanced at Angel and then the outside, the dark night turning to gray. The pinks and purples shining in the east. Taking her focus off the outside, she saw the curtains, thick curtains that had been closed at all times while Angel lived her and she wondered who’d opened them for about two seconds, before her mind went to what she had to do.

He couldn’t even decide if he wanted to start a fire, and she mentally rolled her eyes at him and walked to the door they’d used to get in. It had curtains too, since the door had long been kicked in or rotted away, she didn’t know or didn’t care. She grabbed for the fabric and cringed as her hand went through a cobweb.

“Eww,” she whispered under her breath closing them. And it became a mantra as she went from window to window closing out the coming light until she was sure she’d gotten them all. It taken her around the room and she ended up on the other side of Angel who was still staring into the unlit fireplace and she watched him for a moment but knew there was nothing she could do. And even if she thought there was she wasn’t so sure she would do it. He knew why he was here, he was feeling everything probably and she almost envied the fact that his mind was clear about it. Grief. Pure and simple. She still didn’t even really know what had driven her to come. She started toward the bed, intent on making it decent enough to sleep in.

“Is it necessary?” Angel suddenly asked her, just as she started to pass him.

“Huh?”

“A fire? Are you cold? Or would it make you too warm?”

Cordelia stared at him and realized she didn’t know. She didn’t feel warm, she didn’t feel cold. She felt…confused. “I don’t think it’ll bother me either way, Angel.”

He nodded, leaned forward and started to start a fire. Cordelia watched for a moment and then walked to the bed. “Feel free to get on the bed with me, I mean it’s huge for one thing and “B” no one should sleep on the layer of dust and dirt on the floor.”

“Thank you,” Angel said as the fire roared into life and he moved back and finally staring into flames.

Cordelia stared at him, something in his voice made it clear he hadn’t meant about the bed. After all it was his bed, she was just assuming he was going to be a gentleman and let her have it. She was Cordelia Chase after all. “For…”

“The curtains.”

“Oh.” Cordelia bit her lip and suddenly she felt too vulnerable. Everything about this situation was too intimate, she could see right into his raw grief. “I didn’t do that for you, I can’t sleep with the sun staring at me.”

Angel turned away from the fire and looked at her. She held his gaze, forced her facial muscles to remain unfazed. She had to look like she meant it and who was she fooling. She did mean it. She hated sleeping in the daytime, or with lights, the candles were okay. They were so few and closer to him anyway. She didn’t want the sun on her; it hadn’t been about her. She focused on the thought and it became real. Then she smiled. “I’m going to bed now, Angel.”

***

Cordelia woke up cold and disoriented. She pushed at the soft blanket that seemed to be plastered to her, feeling sticky and gross, and sat up looking around her disoriented. Then she remembered, shivered and made a face. Moving out of the bed, or rather off the futon on the bed, she grabbed her suitcase from the floor and flung it onto the bed. Looking through it, she chastised herself for the millionth time since she’d packed it, she hadn’t packed a sweater, or her robe. Nothing to warm herself up with. She hugged herself and stared at the thin shirts, and pants in the suitcase feeling more confused and as empty as always.

“Take my jacket.”

Angel’s voice startled her and she turned to see he was still where she’d last seen him. At the fireplace, the fire had died out and the sun had risen, it was probably close to setting by now she thought. She looked at her wrist and found she’d slept from a 5 am-ish sunrise to 1 in the afternoon. She sighed and rolled her shoulders, what the hell was she doing here. A rustle in front of her made her start and she stepped back realizing that Angel had moved. He was standing right in front of her holding out his leather jacket. A jacket he hadn’t taken off until now she realized and offering it to her.

“No thanks,” Cordelia said, making a decision. She wasn’t going to waste anymore time. It wasn’t really what she wanted to do, but something was making her do this so she might as well start. Plus she had a feeling she wasn’t going to get a shower, or get to pee in this place. “I need your car.”

“My…car?” Angel asked looking and sounding apprehensive.

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Do we have a working toilet?”

“No.”

“Well, I don’t like to urinate in the woods or in front of vampires. Also I feel gross. I need a shower. And I know where I can get one and I’m going there. Now.”

He stared at her.

“You know, I didn’t even have to ask, Angel. I have your keys.”

He continued to stare.

“Okay, taking the silence as a yes.”

“Where are planning to urinate and shower?” He suddenly asked, his mouth turning up into a small almost smile at the end of the sentence. Cordelia supposed at the oddness of the question.

“The house,” Cordelia said, simply, running her hand over her slept-in and severely wrinkled clothes from last night and frowning.

“Oh.”

Cordelia looked up from her clothes and met his eyes. She felt jolted by how dark they were, nearly black brown full of things she had no right to be looking into, the instant she thought it Angel closed the door she’d peeked into. His expression shifted first to unreadable and then it was anxious. “Could you not…”

“Mention you? Please. I don’t even want to mention me.”

He looked at her, apparently baffled by her last statement but then he just shrugged. “Thanks.”

“Whatever. I need to at least brush my teeth before I leave. And it will be in your car by the way, not that you have bothered to say: Yes Cordelia, go ahead and drive it. Not like I can use a convertible in the daytime anyway.” She pulled out her toothbrush and toothpaste from a small bag in her suitcase and quickly started to brush her teeth.

“Yes Cordelia, go ahead and drive my car,” Angel suddenly said. “But be careful, don’t grind the gears – you can drive a stick right?”

Her mouth full of toothpaste she stared at him; rolled her eyes and nodded. Then she started to look around for a good place to spit, wondering what on earth she was thinking. Spitting in front of a man, well vampire, but still not very classy and totally embarrassing.

“You’re sure. It sticks a bit going into third.”

She looked over her shoulder at him, motioned at him to step back and waited for him to follow the direction. When he did, she opened the curtained the door, stepped into the afternoon, let it close behind her and spit out the toothpaste. Wishing she’d thought to walk out there in the first place. Plastering on a smile she walked back into the mansion. “Angel?”

“Yeah,” he said walking over to the bed and sitting down.

“Your car is in safe hands with me,” she smiled even wider.

He nodded, his expression growing unreadable again. “Shouldn’t be worrying about it anyway…” he muttered before his eyes grew vacant. Cordelia realized he’d fallen back into Buffy-Mourning mode.

It was why he was here. She was here because, she still didn’t know why but she wasn’t going to waste anymore time. Grabbing a change of clothes out of her suitcase and the bag with her soap, shampoo and other essentials she left. Outside she looked up at the sunshine and thought for a moment that it looked like any other day but it really wasn’t.

Not for her. She was way out of her normal schedule, her normal actions, her normal thoughts. She’d be on lunch break right now back in Los Angeles. She’d be sipping a class of water with lemon and eating a salad. Instead she was gross, in need of a shower and had just had a conversation with a vampire in mourning about his car.

She shook herself mentally and then headed for the car, slipped into the drivers seat, fixed the seat so she could reach the peddles and slid the key into the ignition. Fear gripped her and in turn she gripped the steering wheel. She didn’t want to see them. She didn’t want to see their pain anymore than she’d felt okay seeing Angel’s. She didn’t want to do this but the feeling she needed too that she had too kept burning in the pit of her stomach and the back of her mind.

She had to do this, didn’t matter that she didn’t want to. “Damn you Buffy Summers,” she said, as she turned over the engine.

Part 4

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

There is No End 1   Leave a comment

Title: There is No End
Author: WritingPathways
Posted here: 05/2004
Email
Rating:
Category: AU
Content: C/A
Summary:
Spoilers:
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Please ask
Notes: Hi. This is my first Angel/Cordelia story ever and it’s an AU. Some things will be very different but other things won’t be. Also it’s starts as an Angel/Buffy crossover. Everything on Buffy happens as is up to the end of Season Five and Buffy will stay dead. As for the Angel verse. Cordelia and Angel never met up in L.A. so her life is completely different and Angel’s life is close to the same but he has no seer because when Doyle dies Cordy wasn’t there. Only other huge change I feel I should mention is Faith is in Sunnydale, she went back with Buffy instead of going to jail after Angel helps her.
Thanks/Dedication:
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Part 1

Cordelia woke up wired, from an unknown energy, in the arms of her boyfriend, Alec. They were tangled together their bodies entwined from the sex that come before sleep, and it made Cordelia hot. Uncomfortably hot and she felt suffocated from the weight of his body. She moved without any care that she may wake him up, she didn’t care if he did or didn’t, not that it mattered. A banshee could scream directly in his ear and he’d stay asleep. Out of the bed, Cordelia quickly got dressed, grabbed her purse and left the apartment, not once pausing or looking back at the sleeping form of Alec.

She frowned as she stepped out of the apartment, it wasn’t cool enough outside to cool her off. But there was no use wishing that California weather be colder for her and out of habit she checked the time. Her watched said 3 a.m.. She cursed under her breath at herself and wondered for the briefest of moments why she hadn’t just stayed in Alec’s bed. Then she remembered she woken up wide-awake, wired by something inside of her and way too hot. It had happened before and the only cure she knew was to sleep in her own bed.

It would only be a few hours, before she had to wake up and go to her job, but it would be time in her own home, in her own space. Where the restless heat wouldn’t fade and she’d feel like herself again. Cordelia’s nose wrinkled, one second of doubt flickered through her mind but she pushed it away. It would work; it always did didn’t it? She focused on the walk to the parking garage, and held her purse close but ready to open. Her senses aware of anything out of the ordinary just in case she ran into someone, or something, dangerous.

She didn’t breath easily until she was home. Her apartment wasn’t as large as Alec’s and it wasn’t in an upscale neighborhood but it was her place. Within seconds she stripped down and curled onto her bed loving the coolness of the sheets. No thoughts, she told herself burrowing her head into her pillow, no thoughts, just sleep.

***

The morning was bright and Cordelia woke up, slowly and with a purposeful smile on her face. A brand new day, she said to herself out of habit as she showered, dressed and then gathered the clothes and jewelry she’d left on the floor to put away. It was when she walked into her kitchen to grab her morning coffee that Cordelia noticed the blinking on her answering machine. She grinned with instant giddy-anticipation and with well-trained optimism she thought, ‘it’s a job, or an audition, either way it’s good news’ and pushed play. As the tape rewound she started to sugar her coffee and forced herself not to hope too hard that it was about the part in a sitcom she’d had a second audition for.

Cordelia… you aren’t home are you?

Willow? Willow Rosenberg from Sunnydale. The high school’s bookworm who had no taste in clothes and had turned out to be a witch. The girl Cordelia would always in the back of her mind think of as the other woman? Willow? Willow who was both her enemy and her friend. On her answering machine? Cordelia felt panic start to roll through her, Willow would never call her unless…

You aren’t picking up…I guess you aren’t home… I just thought…I can’t say it…she’s…I thought you should know…I thought you should know that she…

Willow’s voice broke and turned into a loud squawk that made Cordelia jump. The sudden sob startling her. She’d been listening intensely hoping for news that would make Willow’s drama seem ridiculous. But the sob cut through her pretense and Cordelia glared at her answering machine daring Willow’s recorded voice to continue. Because she had to know, she had to hear it…but she didn’t want to believe it.

It happened doing what she did…Buffy…Buffy’s gone Cordelia. Call her house if you want to…we’re staying there with Dawn.

And then came the click of Willow hanging up and the sound resounded in Cordelia’s ears. The message had finished. And it had told her that Buffy Summers was dead.

Buffy. The girl who saved the world. The girl who was neither friend nor enemy; and yet in some way had been both. Someone who’d saved her life. Someone who she’d fought with and fought against. Buffy who was annoying, bitchy and a hero. The Slayer. The Slayer had died. Doing what she did? Cordelia felt dizzy and realized she wasn’t breathing and let out a breath and a sob came with it. Shock filled her at the sound and the tears that joined it, stinging her eyes and burning her cheeks. She shook herself; she shook her head. No.

There had been no mention of death. No mention of dying. Willow hadn’t made it clear; Cordelia told herself as she picked up her phone and dialed a number she’d thought long forgotten.

“Summer’s Residence.”

Cordelia felt more panicked at the sound of the voice. She knew who it belonged too but couldn’t place it and she needed to talk to someone she knew. Willow, Giles, hell even Xander. “Who is this?”

“Who is this?” The woman on the other end shot back.

“Cordelia.”

“Oh. It’s Faith,” her voice softened from uncertainty. “Do you want Willow or Giles?”

Fear and confusion gripped Cordelia; why Faith was answering the phone? But she shook herself, it didn’t matter, they didn’t matter, none of them. Well this call mattered because she wanted to find out she had misunderstood Willow. She’d find out for sure and then she could forget about them all, again. “Willow. Get me Willow,” she ordered.

There was no answer but Cordelia heard the phone being put down and soon after Willow’s voice was in her ear. “Cordelia?”

“What did that message mean?” Cordelia snapped wishing she had felt relief at the sound of Willow’s voice. But it sounded so far away, so pained that she started to fear that she hadn’t misunderstood anything.

“She’s…” Willow broke off. “I can’t…”

And she hadn’t misunderstood, or assumed anything. It was true. Buffy was dead. It was true. “It’s true,” she whispered into the phone. “Oh, God.”

“She didn’t want… much. We are,” Willow’s voice broke and she took a moment to compose herself. “ We’re burying her tomorrow morning…Hope Field Cemetery. Near her mother. She didn’t want anything but if you want to come down…”

“I don’t think…but, I’m so sorry Willow…” Cordelia winced at her words, that didn’t seem the thing to say at all. But what was the thing to say? What was she supposed to do? Go there? To Sunnydale. No, no way. “I can’t come, I mean I have…”

“I understand. I just thought…” Willow trailed off.

“Thank you. For telling me. For letting me know.”

“You knew who she was,” Willow said.

“Bye,” Cordelia said, hanging up quickly.

Buffy was dead. It was the death of a hero but she’d deal with it. Her life would go on. This didn’t change her life. It was just bad news about someone from her past. Buffy’s death, though sad, didn’t mean that Cordelia had to react to it by driving to Sunnydale. Cordelia’s life had no room in it for her to drive to Sunnydale. It hadn’t been her life that had ended.

***

Cordelia flashed a smile as she hurried into the office of Whitney-Roberts Interior Design Firm where she worked as a glorified office assistant, at least that was Cordelia’s term for her job. The other glorified office assistant looked up from her desk and immediately asked. “Why are you so late?”

“Someone died,” Cordelia explained without thought and she sat down, booted up her computer and started to sort through the pile of things that were already on her desk. “She very mad?”

“She seemed too distracted to be…wait! What? Someone died? Cor, are you all right?”

“As always,” Cordelia looked up and grinned. “Lisa, really it was just a death of an old friend – we weren’t all that close – and I’m fine.”

“From that small town you are from? Sundell?”

“Sunnydale, and yeah, someone from there,” Cordelia said and she started to arrange the things on her desk in order of priority for the day, praying there would be enough to do to keep her busy until six.

“Who?”

“What?” Cordelia looked up and stared at Lisa. “We should work, aren’t I in enough trouble?”

Cordelia could feel Lisa’s eyes on her, full of sincere concern, and not at all like the people Cordelia actually called her friends. She never called Lisa a friend but she probably was her only real friend in Los Angeles. And was the only person Cordelia knew she could count on if needed – except to let her drop the subject of friend’s death. Cordelia cursed the short circuit she seemed to have in her brain that made her say things out loud without thinking and waited for the inevitable. She’d get the conversation done with and then she could forget all about Sunnydale, and everything that came with it.

“Who died?”

“Her name is, oops, was Buffy. Buffy Summers.”

“Buffy?” Lisa asked, “Did her mother hate her?”

“Her mother loved her actually. Mrs. Summers was really nice,” Cordelia said, and she wanted to throttle herself. Reminiscing was not on her list of things to do, nothing regarding Sunnydale was on her list of things to do.

“And you weren’t close?”

“Not really.”

“But you were friends?”

“Yes. We were,’ Cordelia said and her stomach knotted up and she closed her eyes not wanting Lisa to see her face the truth. Buffy was her friend. In ways that mattered more than all the ways they didn’t get along. Maybe they didn’t talk and maybe they’d never laughed for hours over nothing. But they’d faced things together, and they knew things about each other, and it was those things that made them friends. Odd friends, not close friends but friends nonetheless. “But not close. Haven’t talked to her since graduation.”

“Well, it’s good someone called you. Someone I was never very close with in school died and I didn’t find out until years later when I asked a mutual friend how she was doing. It was her best friend too, made her cry it was embarrassing and not at all fun.”

“I had to be told,” Cordelia heard herself say and then started busying herself by looking over a fabric order, once again trying to escape Lisa’s gaze and the conversation. She didn’t even know what that had meant, she just knew it was the truth. Willow had called her because everyone who had known Buffy had to know about her passing because, Cordelia furrowed her brow. It was there in her mind why Willow had even thought to tell her about Buffy’s death.

If she just thought on it long enough…Cordelia shook her head and took control of her thoughts again. She didn’t want to know, Sunnydale and all its baggage were out of her life. Buffy’s death was news and news didn’t change her life. It was simply news, bad news but news nonetheless and nothing more.

“Good thing they thought to tell you then…sometimes the people in the midst forget about people they don’t see.”

“It’s not that. They were thinking of her not me. I mean I’m probably one of the few that were called…” Cordelia groaned, wishing she didn’t like Lisa so much because then she wouldn’t be babbling on about something she wanted to put behind her as soon as possible. “It’s that Buffy, annoying as she was, was special.”

“Special?”

“Can we not talk about it?” Cordelia begged, feeling desperate to stop the conversation. She couldn’t talk about Buffy’s death without wondering if her car could handle the trip to Sunnydale or if she should borrow Alec’s Mercedes. She was not going to Sunnydale. She wasn’t going to go… do what? Watch them put a hero into the ground? She shuddered at the thought and there was not going to be a wake or anything, Willow had said they weren’t doing anything but a funeral. And she wasn’t going to go there and look at everyone’s red eyes or just stare at a tomb. It was depressing, and plus it had nothing whatsoever to do with her.

“Of course,” Lisa smiled and turned back to her own work and Cordelia thanked God and started to focus on the work she had to do. She had a life to lead, work to do, auditions to ready herself, an acting class, people to charm and a boyfriend to keep. The last thing she needed was to make a depressing trip to a woman’s grave. It didn’t matter that she’d admired Buffy as much as she wanted to bitch-slap her, going back to Sunnydale wasn’t an option.

***

“You want to borrow my car?”

Cordelia nodded, afraid to speak, afraid that if she said anything out loud she’d remember her promises to herself and that a certain blonde’s death didn’t mean she owed her anything. And she didn’t, Cordelia thought now, she’d always thanked Buffy for saving her life, or whoever else had done it and she’d helped save the world more than once, yet there she was standing in her boyfriend’s bedroom, fiddling with the strap of her purse persuading him to loan her his car. “Yes,” she gave her widest and most charming smile. “The Mercedes is such a smoother ride and it’s in better condition than my silly car.”

“If you’d just let me buy you a…”

“Could we not have that argument now?” Cordelia forced herself to continuing with the persuasive smile and stepped forward, dropping her purse on the bed and grabbing Alec’s hands. “Please? I really have to take this trip.”

“Why? I mean where are you going?”

“It’s just for a few days,” Cordelia said, her mind racing for a story, she couldn’t tell him the truth. He’d start asking questions because whenever he had heard her talk about Sunnydale it’d been to swear it off like it was hell itself. Not that that was far from the truth, she thought.

“I don’t know…maybe I should take some time off and go with you,” Alec wondered out loud. “You did say you were going alone.”

Cordelia wanted to scream, the last thing she needed was Alec tagging along and all the questions it would raise but not only that she didn’t even want to see Willow, Xander, Giles or the town itself. She wasn’t even sure why she’d decided to do this. She’d spent a day telling herself she wasn’t going to drive down there.

The funeral had been taking place as she got ready for work and went in and pretended that the design ideas her boss took credit for hadn’t been her own. But here she was, searching for things to tell Alec, so she could take his Mercedes and start toward Sunnydale. The last place she wanted to be but was going to drive too anyway. No matter what. Mercedes or not.

“Cor?”

“You can’t come. I’m meeting some girlfriends. Some girls who graduated from the acting class I take. They are doing this play at some small college. It’s a girly gathering of solidarity. You’d be bored and you know how my car makes all those noises which your car doesn’t…”

“Okay. Okay. You can take the car.”

Cordelia squealed, the sound of absolute glee shocking her but not more than that she was happy to finally be able to leave. She’d already packed; she’d already loaded the car before coming up and asking. She hugged him and took the keys that he’d pulled out of his pocket and handed to her. “Thank you, thank you!” She exclaimed and gave him a quick kiss.

“Whoa, wait, Cor, you are leaving now?”

Cordelia didn’t even turn her head, “Sun’s setting soon, I’m already late I got to get moving. I’ll call.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

For about an hour the odd feeling of giddy relief stayed with Cordelia, as she drove the car towards a place she had left without ever looking back. She didn’t miss Sunnydale, and she’d barely given Buffy, Willow, Xander or anyone else from her past a second thought. She and Aura had kept in touch at first but soon they’d lost contact and neither had tried to reestablish it. She had gone to Los Angeles intent on not letting the fact she couldn’t go to college get her down, intent to prove that she had never needed her trust fund or money to get by and that she could take care of herself.

Sure her job sucked mostly because they used her ideas without giving her credit or bonuses, and maybe she wasn’t a star yet but she loved her acting classes and she was getting more and more auditions. The people who needed to know who she was knew the name Cordelia Chase, or was starting to learn it, things were going well. Also there was Alec. Rich, young, good –looking and he would buy her a elephant if she wanted him too. He wanted to take care of her and it was only a matter of time until he asked her to marry him, complete with a ring as big as her smile, she was sure of it.

There was no reason to return to Sunnydale, even taking Buffy’s death into consideration. No reason at all. Yet, there she was on the road at night, driving toward the very place she didn’t want to be and didn’t need to be. And she really didn’t know why. It had something to with Buffy, or rather who Buffy had been, someone who saved the world.

Cordelia had seen that right away, the importance, it was why she gave Buffy the time of day as person and not just as pretty competition – her only Sunnydale competition. It was why she’d found herself wrapped up in the supernatural and usually world-ending crises that arouse, working with Xander, Giles, and Willow. It was why when Xander had broken her heart she hadn’t ended up completely away from it all and had been able to help unite the school against the mayor.

The only problem was she’d never really understood why. Why it mattered to her that the world was being saved, that monsters were real…she’d seen her high school friends outside of the Scooby circle forget and rationalize. She’d watched Aura and others do it after Graduation. To them all that had happened was that there had been a bad fire that singed the diplomas.

It’d been enough for them, they didn’t want to know about Vampires, or Zombies, or Hellmouthy-weirdness. Cordelia after all she’d seen the first year Buffy had been in Sunnydale hadn’t been able to forget that Vampires existed, and that the Hellmouth was underneath.

And even years later in Los Angeles she’d kept her eyes open for the things no one else saw. It was because she knew too much not to, that was what she’d told herself and it’d proven to be smart. Cordelia hit the accelerator harder as she remembered that because she carried a cross, stake and holy water in her purse she’d been able to save her friends’ lives.

Two different friends; two different memories but both similar experiences. And both women had forgotten what they’d seen and rationalized the situation. Cordelia had been thanked for scaring off muggers. The reality had been she’d scared off one vampire with the cross and mentioning Buffy. The other time she’d somehow gotten lucky enough to stake the vampire before he bit her instead of her friend. Luck had been with her both times; she knew it because it’d been lucky both of the vampires had been alone.

Yet she’d been able to make those two occasions faded memories of her first year in Los Angeles. She created a monster-free, Sunnydale free existence for herself and she’d vowed to never look back. To never go back because Sunnydale had held nothing for her. Now she wasn’t only going to Sunnydale, she was remembering vividly the faded memories of two vampires that had painfully reminded of one of the reasons she’d left.

Cordelia frowned, “Stop thinking about stuff you don’t want to think about. Just do whatever craziness Buffy’s death has put in your head and get back to your regularly scheduled life,” she muttered to herself. Then the car lurched out of her control and she realized one of the tires had gone flat. “Perfect. Buffy, why did I let your death do this to me!”

Cordelia groaned as she turned off the car, she was on the side of an empty barely traveled highway toward Sunnydale in the early and dark hours of morning. “This is just perfect. You never did anything but make my life suck!” she yelled to the sky where she pictured Buffy looking down at her laughing her blonde butt off.

Getting out of the car Cordelia found the tire that had blown and she growled, “I knew, I knew I should have learned how to change a tire. On the list of things to learn but did I get to it?” She pulled out her cell phone and groaned realizing it had no signal. “Well, of course,” she muttered.

Then she heard a car and her heart stopped for a second and then sped up, she felt her stomach knot. Did she hope it stopped or that it passed her by? Did she go show some leg, she was wearing a skirt? Or did she grab her spray can of mace and the spray-bottle of holy water? The headlights grew closer and Cordelia dug into her purse and started looking for the mace and the holy water. This close to Sunnydale a vampire was probably more likely than a rapist or a serial killer but she believed in covering her bets. Searching she glanced up, hoping the car would pass her but instead it pulled over and parked behind her car. She prayed it was a Good Samaritan but kept searching through her bag and finally wrapped her hands around her mace. It was better than nothing she thought.

“Do need…help?” a man asked her from the other side of the car.

Cordelia took a breath, readied the mace in her hand and looked up over the car and felt her eyes pop out of her head. “Angel?”

“Cordelia?”

“Are you evil?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Cordelia.”

Cordelia breathed out in relief. “Thank God! Because I so need help.”

Part 2

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

Seamless 1   Leave a comment

Title: Seamless
Author: Writingpathways
Posted:
Email
Rating: R
Category:
Content: C/A, pre-romance/romance
Summary: I suck at these. Let’s just say it’s about A/C’s relationship, okay? Okay.
Spoilers: Angel/Cordelia end of season 2ish for a timeline.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes: This is a sequel of sorts to And Know the Place, however I’m writing it as if it can stand on it’s own. It’s just in that same universe, post Angel’s beige period, no Fred with a few changes I made for hell of it really. The visions aren’t killing Cordy, but they do hurt like hell. And Kate’s still on the police force and around. This chapter is pretty much just some set up of a few things and a start. Hopefully, I’ll have more very soon. And also, no I’m not forgetting my other stories, it’s just been so long since I wrote on them (or wrote for that matter) I’m doing this little story to get my feet wet again. Thanks and hope you enjoy.
Extra NOTICE:This is a complete rewrite. I didn’t reuse one word of what was posted at the end of August. Now I’m planning to tell the same exact story I have in my head, but I really hated how I started it last time — it was all wrong, completely wrong but I realized it too late because I posted it too soon in a moment of weakness. So, while it has the same title, and will be the same story — totally different beginning and I believe a much better beginning.
Feedback:Yes! Please!


First things first:

One

A curse on a subject by any member of a Gypsy Clan is a complicated matter. Gypsies as a whole tend to operate on a very old world logic that doesn’t always make sense to our more modern senses. A curse from such clans, such as the Kalderash or the Monamar, are nearly as complex as a spell performed by the most cunning of witches. This is due to the fact that a curse upon a subject by a gypsy clan tends to be situational due to the clan seeking vengeance for a specific act by the subject.

The most famous Gypsy Curse known to modern man is of the one the Kalderash Clan of Romania circa the late 1800’s performed on the vampire known as Angelus, the one with the angelic face…one of the most vicious vampires to ever walk the earth. Facts are vague, but it is known that Angelus viciously murdered the clan’s favored daughter. The curse bestowed upon the vampire was a soul…

“Angel?”

Angel’s insides flew out of his body and hit the ceiling before slamming back – at least that’s how it felt. Cordelia’s voice had more than startled him but he recovered quickly, slammed the book shut and tossed it with vampiric precision under his bed.

Calming his shaken nerves he made his way to the door and silently yelled at the woman on the other side. She told him he needed a bell? The woman was uncannily stealthy for a human who wore high heels.

“Are you brooding?” Cordelia asked, pushing past him and starting to walk around his room, her hands on her hips. She started walking towards the furthest corner but stopped suddenly and turned around. “Well? Are you brooding, because there will be no brooding buddy? You understand? I thought you had snapped out this bad habit… hmm.”

“I…what are you…”

Cordelia was suddenly standing right in front of him, nose to nose, the point of her finger pressing into the center of his chest. “Don’t give me the stutter, mister. You’ve been holing yourself up here for a week. Not coming down stairs except to grunt, and ask if we have any cases, and when we mutter ‘nope’ you’re back up here using your vampy speed. So what’s got your over-hanging brow all furrowed up this time? Hmm, broody boy? Inquiring Seers need to know so I can tell you to get over it, then kick your undead ass out of this cave.”

Angel liked to believe he wasn’t stupid, in fact he knew he wasn’t stupid but there was something about Cordelia that caused him for brief moments to believe that he was in fact a dumbass. Confusion at her accusations didn’t begin to describe how he felt, so he stood there staring at her, replaying her words in his head as she stared at him, her eyes growing more and more narrow by the second. Damn she was getting impatient, he realized and blurted out.

“I have not grunted at you guys.”

“Close enough,” Cordelia said, then she closed her eyes and took a step back. “Are you denying that for more than a week you have been hiding up here and doing God knows what. Only coming down stairs when you run out of blood up here, hear me scream from a vision, or we call you because of a case.”

Angel winced because it was true and he hadn’t realized it.

“And you do remember that last time you acted a lot like this, it was because someone was messing with your head, you were dreaming of Darla and then you went completely obsesso-stupid vampman.”

He cringed and stepped forward and grabbed Cordelia by her shoulders, he needed her to look at him directly, it was important. “I didn’t realize. I’m sorry. I swear it’s nothing like that, I promise.”

He studied her studying him, wishing for the millionth time he could read her mind, like it felt she could read his sometimes – at least she seemed to read him better than anyone he’d ever met, maybe even himself. Her eyes were intense, still narrowed and it felt her inner regality was growing stronger and stronger by the minute as she made her conclusion.

“Then what is it, Angel?”

Shit.

“Don’t give me that ‘oh shit’ look.”

“Are you sure you aren’t telepathic,” he said, let go of her and walked towards his bed, his eyes zooming in to the space between it and the carpet. Underneath were books, essays, archaic and modern treatises about curses, hexes and Angelus the Vampire cursed with a soul. There were so many reasons for it and a lot more questions – and he still wasn’t sure he was asking himself the right questions.

It all started a bit over a week ago – something said by a stranger – a client really – and his instincts started to overload and he started to read and read and think and think. Hell, maybe he was brooding – but he still wasn’t sure what he was looking for, what he was thinking, if he was coming at from the right angle. He running on a gut feeling that it was time to start asking and that was the only thing he was certain of; it was time to research his curse.

“Angel?”

“I can’t…”

“You can’t?”

Ouch. He cringed and turned around, saw the fire and hurt in Cordelia’s eyes. “Cordy…”

“I thought we were past this. Past you keeping secrets, pushing me, us, away.

“You’re right, you are…it’s just…”

Her hands landed on her hips, her head lifted up and her eyes were wide and blazing – and Angel couldn’t help thinking she looked like a Queen and damn if he didn’t feel like her subject.

“Tell me.”

He wanted to, it was so clear in his head, he wanted to take her by her waist and sit her on the edge of his bed, scoop out the books and explain everything about the case and the client that had lead him to this, investigation, for lack of a better word. But he couldn’t, not yet, it was too soon, it was still too vague even to him what it was that was driving him, what answers he was hoping to find – and he knew he may not find them at all.

“Not yet.”

Her eyes narrowed.

He hurried on with his explanation. “But Cordy, I swear I will tell you, I will tell you everything. You and Wes, you’ll be the first two people to know what’s going on…as soon as I figure things out better…right now, it’s just…instinct.”

“Wesley?” Cordelia said, her hands dropping and her body language softening, yet not losing the regal air that was simply her and Angel was realizing more and more was one of his favorite things about her.

“Yes.”

“Something that Wesley and I will be the first to be told? Angel…”

“Don’t worry.”

“Shouldn’t I?”

“No, it’s not bad. It’s not dangerous…” he trailed off and decided he was right. He wasn’t going to do anything stupid, not without them knowing his plans anyway. “You and Wesley will know, everything, just not yet…I need to be sure what it is I’m sharing before I do.”

Cordelia stepped forward and grabbed his hands, he squeezed hers and looked into her eyes. She was doing it again, somehow reading his mind enough to help her figure out how to handle him – why couldn’t he do that with her, it might make his life easier. She was so hard to handle – not that he didn’t mind, she kept him on his toes.

Then she smiled, full wattage and Angel felt his stomach dip to his feet and wondered at the beauty of it – no one should have such a perfect smile he thought and was a creature as damned as himself so blessed to know the soul who did?

“Okay, I’ll trust you. But don’t make me regret it, Angel.”

“I won’t. Cordy, I won’t,” he said and knew his voice had come out edgier than he’d meant it but he needed her to believe in him, to know he would never betray her trust again.

She nodded. “Soon, soon you will tell me and Wesley?”

“Yes.”

She nodded and he saw her bite her tongue, swallow a million questions, quench her natural curiosity and probably a lot of worry…but she did it, for him and he was reminded yet again how lucky he’d been to have her in his life, and to have earned her forgiveness after his betrayal.

“Okay, so since whatever this is, isn’t dangerous, and hopefully not stupid…I think that you should come with us to the shelter tonight.”

“Shelter?”

“Yeah, you remember it. Anne runs it, for runaways, a few of whom are running around in the few brand names I managed to buy on my pittance of a salary…” her eyes glinted with humor but he still felt guilt at giving away her clothes.

“I’m…”

“Don’t. You got it was wrong, you got me new clothes – and it’s so lucky you have a gay man’s taste, but why you can’t use it to buy yourself some bright colors,” Cordelia said, her hands coming up to his neck and she started to straightening out his collar, mouthing ‘it’s crooked’ to him.

“thank you,”

She smiled again and continued on with her work on his collar and her explanation. “We’re going over there tonight to help out Anne. She’s realized the kids, especially the girls need some self-defense lessons. Gunn offered and Wesley volunteered, and so did I…” she winked at him.

“Common sense, but why now…”

Cordelia’s hazel eyes darkened with pain, the type of pain he usually saw after one of the more violent visions of carnage The Powers sent her. “Rapes. A lot of rapes…some serial rapist is on the streets, targeting runaway teenage girls.”

His hand reached up and cupped Cordelia’s face without thought. “I’m there.”

The sadness vanished, not completely but enough, as she smiled broadly at him again. “I knew you would. We leave at sunset…but since you say you aren’t brooding, maybe we could see you downstairs before then?”

He nodded and watched her hands trail down his chest, trying to ignore the heat of them searing through the silk of his shirt onto his skin. She tugged at the hem, straightening the shirt out, making everything even and then she surveyed her work.

She then made her way towards the door to his suite, her eyes not leaving him and she paused when her hand hit the knob. “Soon?”

“I promise.”

And then she was gone and Angel couldn’t help but feel like the room had lost a lot of light. He turned back to the bed, looked at the floor and thought about the books and the conversation he had with her. He then turned around and went to the door – he could research and remember to spent time with his family at the same time…she was right, he was being too reclusive and that was something he’d promised her he would fight after the Darla Debacle.

He was going to keep that promise, all the promises he made to Cordelia were of the highest priority. His soul would keep, the books wouldn’t disappear… he’d read more later tonight, after he helped out at the shelter. Helped those girls fight the evil that lay in men – it was part of their mission, whether it was demon or not.

TBC…

WritingPathways

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

Kaleidoscope 6   1 comment

Part 6

Buffy scrubbed the dirt off her face, wondering if Maybelline would ever come up with graveyard-proof products – or at least a facial care line. Of course what did it matter if her make up was messed up, or hair had dirt in it she wasn’t supposed to want to impress Angel. Lifting up she met the mirror and watched her face fall into a frown at the thought of …her…her? Ex-boyfriend it sounded too normal and her life wasn’t.

She wished.

Her heartbeat had returned to normal, her focus was no longer on the demons she’d been slaying in the graveyard after a full day of tracking them. Instead she didn’t have focus. Her mind was wandering from, how she was going to pass Snyder’s prohibition if she kept having to slay during school hours. Didn’t demons have any sense of decorum anymore. They were supposed to wreck havoc after sunset. Then her mind would fly to Angel, then it would remind her she had a new boyfriend now – Scott.

She was supposed to care if Scott saw her hair a ratted nest of dirt and grass after Slayage. She was supposed to care if Scott missed her when she ran out to stake something. She wasn’t supposed to have her mind constantly on Angel. She didn’t want to miss him. She’d never wanted to miss him. She’d wanted him with her, always and forever, they were in love. But she’d lost him, first because of a curse and then because of her own sword. Curses and swords, who had break ups like this in a normal life?

She just wanted normal, or one normal thing, and that’s where Scott came in. Of course every time she’d crossed paths with him today as she sneaked on and off school grounds, she’d had to say ‘Bye’ before the ‘Hi’ had even left his mouth. It wasn’t fair.

And then there was Giles, which led back to Angel.

It always led back to Angel. She should check on him, she didn’t think he was doing as well as he claimed, despite seeming fine. Buffy couldn’t even remember if she’d said she would, or wouldn’t tonight. But she wanted to, but it was already so late and she’d promised her mother she’d try to be home early. Again. Her mother was so scared and confused now that she knew Buffy was the Slayer. She’d hated lying to her mother all those years but now that the secret was out the guilt hadn’t abated.

Her mother worried, and Giles worried too because of Angel – and that was why she kept Angel a secret. His return a secret, because she didn’t know how to tell Giles. She was afraid he’d want Angel dead, take Angel away from her again – and she wasn’t supposed to allow herself to think about ‘having him back’ because that could lead to what ifs about a relationship and a future. And they didn’t, couldn’t… because there was a curse. Curses, parents, vampires and slaying.

It wasn’t fair. She wasn’t fair.

Giles said there was trouble and he wasn’t sure if it was vampires or not, and she’d immediately thought it was Angel. He wasn’t quite well yet, he’d been feral when she found him. She’d blamed Angel without thought, but only vocalized against it being vampires. It’d turned out to be true and the relief that it was another type of demon she’d felt had been palpable. But shouldn’t she have trusted that he wouldn’t harm anyone?

Buffy closed her eyes to her reflection. She didn’t want to see it in her eyes, the truth to the voice in her head. You can’t trust Angel. He’s a vampire. A killer, a murderer, and he’d tortured your watcher, he tortured Giles. But he was also Angel, always Angel, the man she loved who didn’t know his curse could be undone. He hadn’t know what would happen…and the soul was back in place. Angelus was gone…Angelus had to remain dead. And for that to remain true she had to keep her distance. She had to grab onto what was nice and safe and normal.

A boy whose faults would have nothing to do with blood, fangs and gypsies. Yet, could she really stop her feet from walking to Angel’s? Could she really make herself go home and not go and see if he was all right?

The door to the bathroom opened, the noise startling her out of her thought. Buffy prayed it wouldn’t be a teacher because she couldn’t think up an excuse for being in the school after hours. Luckily it was Cordelia, which for once caused Buffy to feel extreme relief. Cordelia hadn’t gone home yet either, Cordelia could give her a ride home and help her avoid the mansion.

“Hi, Buffy. Snyder’s yapping at Giles. He’s such a rodent.”

Buffy grimaced, now she really had to get out of the school fast, the last thing she wanted to face was Synder. “Uh, look, Cordy, I kind of…”

“Uh, huh?” Cordelia asked distractedly as she raised her hair off her neck and stared at it in the mirror. Buffy watched for a moment and rolled her eyes, thinking ‘vain much, Cordelia?’ before asking, “Could you give me a ride?”

Cordelia remained silent, fixated on her reflection one of her hands raising to touch her neck, which was red from what Buffy guessed the other times Cordelia had run her fingers over her skin.

“Cordy!”

“Huh, oh, Buffy! What?”

“Ride. To my home. Can you give me one?”

Cordelia turned, her hair falling over her shoulders with the actions, causing Buffy stifled the urge to rip it out. It fell perfectly over her shoulders and looked all brushed and shiny. How did the girl do it? It wasn’t fair. If she was the Slayer she probably wouldn’t be covered with dirt. She’d been in the graveyard, she’d been bait, why wasn’t she more dirty? Realizing what she was doing, Buffy quickly shoved the envious thoughts away. She couldn’t let Cordelia push her buttons, she needed that ride home.

“Yes, that’s a great idea,” Cordelia said suddenly with such sincerity and a weird look in her eyes.

“It is?” Buffy asked, feeling confused it had been so easy. Cordelia usually wasn’t so nice after spending the night in the graveyard.

Cordelia gave a half-smile and then turned toward the door. “Let’s go. We don’t want to run into Snyder.”

The seat belt snapped into place and Buffy found herself once again fighting the feelings of envy that Cordelia Chase always evoked inside of her. Cordelia had a drivers license, but more than that she had an amazing car. Her mother had yet to let her go for her license, saying she wasn’t ready yet, her driving wasn’t good enough, however Cordelia was speeding haphazardly through Sunnydale everyday. Buffy bit her lip and realized she should never let her mother see how Cordelia drove, she’d probably not be allowed in the car and that would really cause a problem since Cordelia was the chauffeur on a lot of her slaying missions.

Not for the first time since returning home from her time in Los Angeles Buffy felt a huge surge of regret for her actions at running away. While she’d been able to mend things with Willow and Xander everything with her mother was still out of sorts and she wondered if it would settle back into place. Running away after her mother was hit with the news she was a Slayer during a fight for the world…it had just compounded everything. She had royally screwed up with her mother and things, though better, weren’t really great with Giles either. Yet everyday she looked at Giles and kept a huge secret one she knew she shouldn’t be quiet about. It was her duty as a Slayer to tell and beyond that she owed Giles the truth for much better reasons. She loved Giles. He wasn’t quite like a father, but he was more than a Watcher to her. He was Giles.

Buffy breathed out purposely, damn it, her mind was going in the same constant circle. She felt like a gerbil stuck on a wheel. She glanced at Cordelia and realized the other girl wasn’t talking to her nonstop, or irritated at Buffy for not paying attention. That wasn’t normal, things should be normal, she wanted inane Cordelia chatter to stop the constant loop of her thoughts and the urge to tell Cordelia to turn towards Crawford Street – and how would she explain that one to the ever curious chatterbox.

“You’re quiet,” Buffy stated. “Did the demons hurt your tongue?”

“Buffy…” Cordelia said but Buffy didn’t hear she was too busy talking in a sudden decision that she couldn’t keep sitting in silence and if Cordelia was going to be weird she’d have to be the chatterbox.

“Do you think Scott is mad at me? I mean when I call him what should I say about all those ‘Hi-Byes’ I gave him all day today, when we managed to be, you know actually in the school for a few glasses. I mean it’s not normal for your girlfriend to be flitting in and out, not explaining… I just don’t know. I wish I could just tell him the truth, but then again he probably couldn’t handle it. I mean Xander and Willow are different, and well you…you handled it okay but you’re not exactly the average Sunnydale student. Scott’s nice and average. I really like that about him, I know it doesn’t really sound all that nice. What is your advice?”

“Buffy? I…”

“Juliet, Cinderella… is that a move up or down?” Cordelia said, her voice edgy.

“Oh.”

“Buffy, I really…Uh, what’s up with your street?”

“Well, thanks for the ride, Cordy.” Buffy said quickly, climbing out of the car, feeling as if she’d had her fill of the girl for the day.

“Uh…yeah bye.”

In a blink of an eye Buffy slammed the door, forgot Cordelia and headed down her street all the while building up her courage to smile and talk to her mother about her day – with the inevitable barrage of worried questions in regards to slaying.

Then her heart stopped. Angel was in front of her house, hands in his pockets, head hunched down looking at the grass. Right in front of her house, where lights blared out of uncovered windows. Happiness at the sight of him quickly changed to fear and confusion, she swung forward, grabbed him and pulled him around a tree at the edge of her yard.

“Angel, you shouldn’t be here. My mom could see you.”

He stared at her, his back to the trunk of the tree and then glanced toward the house for a moment. Looking back at her his eyes clouded with guilt. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to tell you…you didn’t show up at the mansion today?”

“Was I supposed too?” Buffy asked, her arms crossing over her chest. She wanted to touch him. “I really wanted to… I almost did, now, but since you’re here. There was this demon problem today. Mom is probably freaking….I really did want to see you…” she trailed off and stepped closer to him, feeling hypnotized by his eyes, his smell, his very presence.

“So, you didn’t stop by because of…”

“Slaying. Giles had everyone on it, even Cordelia was in and out of the school, driving us and being bait.”

“Bait,” Angel repeated.

Buffy stared into his eyes, they were still so clouded by guilt and she felt awful for hiding him behind the tree. “I’m sorry. I just, I’m not ready to tell. My mother especially, she’s so freaked out by things and my running away made thing so much worse. I don’t know what to do, Angel.”

He reached out and touched her face, Buffy wanted to turn her cheek into his touch, feel his palm against her cheek but instead her body tensed. Angel quickly dropped his arm. “I’ll go.”

” “Okay. I’m so glad you’re doing so much better. I’ll try to drop by the mansion soon… we can talk…figure things out, right?”

Angel nodded. “Right.”

“Right,” Buffy whispered, biting back tears. How was she going to stop herself from crying, she thought as running into her home.

***

Cordelia stared at her shut passenger door. She’d been a wuss, a total pussyfooting wimp and now the Slayer wasn’t in her car, a captive audience for the information that Cordelia knew she needed to tell. She had to tell about Angel, what had happened, what he’d been like, the things he said. She had to tell.

Because good news or bad news, she really wasn’t sure what it was, Angel was back from hell and with a soul. But he wasn’t okay, and no matter how much blood she’d stolen for him her instincts told her that Hell had to make a person – vampire, whatever – not okay.

“Far from okay,” Cordelia muttered to herself and unbuckled her seatbelt. Not telling Buffy when she had her in the car about Angel had been wrong, it’d been a wimpy. And she Cordelia Chase was not a wimp, if only she’d had two minutes alone with Giles during the day, this would be over with. But no, the demon problem kept the library, the Scoobs, and herself busy for the entire day. Then when she finally found herself alone in the library with Giles, Snyder came in with his weasel eyes and started questioning all the notes Giles’ had written for her and the others. And he’d kicked her out or threatened detention.

Finding Buffy still in the school and in need of a ride, at felt like a blessing. Only she hadn’t been able to spit out the words, like she was some shy and retiring girl. She didn’t get it but she didn’t know how to tell Buffy about Angel. It’d been why she’d chosen Giles in the first place. Alone in her car with Buffy, all she could think about was how close she’d come to getting bit by Angel, her hand constantly flying to her neck.

She hadn’t been able to keep her hands off of it all day, she could feel the paper thin cuts, but they weren’t noticeable unless you really looked for them. Which she’d kept doing, in fact she’d been doing it in the bathroom so lost in the memory of that terrifying moment she’d barely heard Buffy give her the opening to tell her.

Then she’d kept her lips shut like she was fraidy-cat. She’d just managed to shake some sense into herself when Buffy started babbling about Scott Hope and his average loveliness, trying to create some fairy tale to use for their relationship, much like Angel and Buffy had resembled Romeo and Juliet. The snipe at that had left her mouth before she could think. It’d been stupid, she should have blurted out, ‘Forget Scott, he’s bland and plus Angel’s back and I’m pretty sure he’s all soulful.’

Instead she’d nearly run into a road closed sign blocking Buffy’s street and dented her car. Then Buffy was gone.

She snapped herself free from her seatbelt, grabbed her purse thinking solely of the stake and cross inside of it. She didn’t really think vampires would be lurking on the Slayer’s street, but then again a lot with low IQs seemed to be turned. Everything inside of Cordelia screamed that Buffy and the others needed to know about Angel, and if she had to start with Buffy then that was what she had to do.

Hurrying down the street, she finally caught sight of the back of Buffy’s head, thankful the Slayer hadn’t used her supernatural speed. When suddenly, the blonde sped up into a blur, that stopped on the side of her house, pushing a dark figure against a tree so they’d be hidden from the house.

From Cordelia’s place on the street though it was very clear that the dark figure was Angel. Her steps sped up stopping only when her brain caught up with her, that getting between a Vampire and a Slayer wasn’t a smart move. She stopped short, why was he here? Had he come to confess? Or was he crazy again? Had she gotten him enough blood to stop the insanity of hunger? Was that possible with a vampire?

Cordelia stood still, leaning forward and blinked when she thought she heard Buffy say something about ‘not ready to tell’, was that right. She moved closer, silently, praying that neither of them heard her, that they were too caught up in each other.

“I don’t know what to do, Angel,” she heard Buffy say.

Cordelia’s brow furrowed, her nervous dissipating with confusion as the obvious floated through her mind that Buffy should tell Giles.

“I’ll go,” said Angel.

“Okay. I’m so glad you’re doing so much better. I’ll try to drop by the mansion soon… we can talk…figure things out, right?”

A click resounded through Cordelia’s head. She knew, Buffy knew, had known that Angel was back. They weren’t talking like two people just reunited, the shock was gone. Buffy knew Angel was back and she hadn’t told Giles, most likely she hadn’t told Xander, because he would have gone ballistic he hated Angel. Willow? Cordelia wondered, could Willow keep a secret like this? Probably for Buffy.

Buffy. That bitch had known Angel was back, that he was dangerous and starved, probably crazed from whatever happened to a soul in Hell and she hadn’t said anything. It was all her fault, all her fault Angel had nearly killed her and that poor guy from the butcher’s. What was the Slayer thinking? Why wasn’t she telling?

“Cordelia?”

She gasped, startled out of her thoughts and once again could see where she was staring. Angel was about a foot away from her, looking right at her with intense dark eyes. Her hand flew to her neck, unconsciously, and she stepped backward.

“I won’t…I’m sorry. Please just let me apologize.”

Angel took a step toward her as he spoke but went still in an instant. He studied her, his senses on alert to the sounds and sight of Cordelia Chase. Rapid heart beat. Healthy dose of fear. Heavy breathing. Really wide eyes. Beautiful, wide eyes, they were a swirl of ambers and golds, and stared at him with distrust. Yet there was just enough curiosity to give Angel hope.

“Why? So you can alleviate your guilt?”

Shit. Angel dug his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, glanced behind him at Buffy’s house before meeting Cordelia. Too sharp for her own damn good, he thought frustration tensing his muscles. “Look, let me walk you to your car okay?”

“Don’t want to talk in front of Buffy’s house? Really? Why? Not like she doesn’t know you are back? Though, I bet she has no clue that an innocent butcher and me were almost your supper last night.”

“Cordelia.” He could hear his teeth grinding against each other. “Just…she had reasons.”

“Reasons?”

“It’s not easy on her.”

“Right. Death. Carnage. Sending her boyfriend to hell — after he killed her classmates, a teacher and then tortured her Watcher. Oh, wait, more than once. Or was leaving Ms. Calendar in the bed just a pre-show.”

“Car. Cordelia. Walking you to it,” Angel said, stepping closer to her, using his bulk to get her to move back down the street. She met his eyes, her heart rate the only sign he had any intimidating effect on the woman, but she was more angry now than scared. Yet she stepped into place next to him and started digging through her purse.

“I thought you wanted to get some guilt off your shoulders, Angel, not boss me around?”

“I get that you’re mad.”

“How long have you been back?”

“I, uh, the days blend. A while.”

“How long has Buffy known?”

“A few weeks, give or take,” Angel guessed.

“But you were starving?” Cordelia snapped, stopping short in her steps and pulling out a cross. “And personal bubble, Angel, out of it!” She thrust the cross into him and he nearly escaped it being slapped against his chest.

He nearly smirked at her actions but guilt at his own stopped him. “I didn’t tell Buffy how bad it was.”

“So she wasn’t feeding you enough, because you were what? Being Mr. Strong Vamp Guy, protecting the little Slayer Woman from your pain?”

Put like that it sounded extremely stupid, Angel thought, but it was much more complicated than that. Buffy had been through hell, sure he’d been in it, but he’d at least deserved it. A monster. He was a monster.

“Pfft.” Cordelia breathed out and moved to lean against the road closed sign near her car. “And Buffy didn’t see through the macho act?”

“Usually, I had blood in me around her. Easier to seem strong and getting stronger.” He watched her, she was calmer again but on guard. Protected and defensive, Cordelia had the two actions honed to a science he realized. Was it just a growing up on the Hellmouth thing? No, Willow and Xander weren’t this practiced at hiding the signs of fear. It was Cordelia being Cordelia, he realized. It was why she’d been able to save herself by helping him. “I owe you…”

“I accept.”

“…a thank you.”

“Oh,” Cordelia started, she hadn’t expected that and the result on her expression was priceless. Unguarded and shock vulnerability was there, for a split second before anger, distrust and confusion sprung back. “What? You are supposed to be alleviating your guilt.”

“I am,” Angel said and he stepped closer unable to stop himself from raising his eyebrows as the cross was thrust up again. “You do know I can knock that out of your hand, little girl?”

Cordelia’s own eyebrows arched and her mouth lifted into a curve. “But we both know you won’t.”

Angel nodded and got as close as he could with the cross erected between them. “You’re right. I was wrong to hide things from Buffy, she would have made sure I had enough blood – and what happened wouldn’t have…I can’t take it back. I can never take anything back…” guilt overwhelmed him. “I’m sorry, it’s all I can offer. And I owe you thanks, because you didn’t run away, you helped me.”

“Was that the right move?” Cordelia whispered, staring at him before her eyes fell onto the cross. “Did I make the right choice?”

Angel’s jaw clenched and he inhaled the night air around them but he refused to take his eyes off of Cordelia. He waited for her to lift her head back up, and look at him. Maybe he’d find an answer in her eyes, he’d know what she wanted from him, what she needed or the truth. Moments ticked by, it almost felt like another century in Hell, but he waited because he didn’t know what to say. Finally Cordelia lifted her head up and their eyes locked and Angel knew if he’d been human the breath would have been knocked out of him. Her eyes held nothing but expectation. All she wanted was his answer.

“I don’t know,” he said, it was all he could give her.

And she smiled and he had to close his eyes to it for a moment, blinking away at what had to be a mirage. But it was still there when his eyes focused on her Cordelia. An open, though tired, sincere smile. “I get that,” she said. “I saw it you know.”

“Saw what?”

“Your soul. Willow, she did the gypsy curse, we thought it wasn’t working, but suddenly her eyes changed, her voice changed, I think she was speaking Romanian or something…and the Orb. It got gold. A shiny gold and it floated, then it vanished. I guess that’s when it went into you. I don’t know. I just know that I knew that she’d conjured your soul.” She drew in a deep breath. “It was terrifying.”

“You saw my soul?” Angel echoed before her words penetrated his mind. “Willow has power, to be able to do…”

“That’s what scary.”

“What?”

“Power like that? It’s the one thing…” Cordelia sighed. “You scared me. Almost as much as Willow did that night. I put those up there with the most terrifying nights of my life. Right on the same list as the time you almost bit me in the cemetery, when they grabbed Giles from the library. It’s funny how there are actually times when I was kidnapped and near death that aren’t on the list, huh?”

“Um, yeah,” Angel said, feeling dizzy trying to keep with her. “Cordelia?”

“I know I went off on a tangent. Anyway, you scared me, Angel. A lot. I thought…then you didn’t.”

“Kill you.”

“Right.”

“You saved yourself. The blood.”

Cordelia met his eyes. “You held back. So, in good faith. Because of what I saw Willow do, what you didn’t do that night…and the fact this isn’t my secret to tell anymore. I won’t say anything. Just count yourself and Buffy luckyy I never got a chance to tell Giles about last night. Stupid ugly green demons that were rampaging the town, saved your dumb asses.”

Bait. Buffy’s words about her Slaying duty of the day came back to him, guilt and concern took over his actions and without thinking he stepped even closer to Cordelia. Completely, unaware that he could because she’d lowered the cross and touched his fingers under her chin gently. Slowly his fingers moved to her throat, to where he had sliced into her soft skin. He felt the wounds, his eyes latching onto the thin slices no human could see. “I am sorry, Cordelia.”

Her heart was racing, he heard her gulp. “I already accepted.”

“You had to play bait,” he said.

She looked at him confused by where he was going, her heart slowing down as she grew used to his nearness, his fingers on her skin.

“Were you okay, was it okay? I mean…” Angel struggled to find the words for what he wanted to say. He couldn’t find them, he’d already apologized and more words wouldn’t do any good. “You shouldn’t had to have done that after…” he trailed off and forced himself to pull his hand away from her neck.

“Almost being the real victim?” Cordelia finished for him, her eyes following his hand as he pushed it into his coat pocket. She exhaled noisily. “Please! There is a huge difference. I mean for one, Buffy was there. Slayer. What’s better protection. Second, Giles, Xander, Willow and Oz all there too, with weapons. It was no big.” As she spoke she stepped backward, and for the first time he noticed her car had been right behind her all along. “I’ve got to get home.”

“Are you going to tell…”

Cordelia cut him off. “Buffy? That I know about you? Please. No way.”

Angel nodded, thankful and confused by her decision. He hadn’t alleviated any guilt, but he felt a bit better because he’d learned something new. Cordelia Chase impressed him.

Part 7

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

Kaleidoscope 4-5   1 comment

Part 4

All he had to do was take it. Take the blood from the trembling young thing in his grasp and fill his hunger. Fill it with the sweet yet salty blood, pungent with fear and clear with youth and purity. Yes, yes, this was what he needed, the flesh in his hands was the only thing that could sate him. The need hummed inside of Angel more instinct than thought, a force from the deepest depths that whispered to him that this was the way to the satisfaction he craved.

He growled the anticipation inhaled with his nose deeply and started to pierce the frail skin of the girl’s flesh. A cacophony of noise, scents and memories flooded his senses. First it was the scent of the blood, in the last deep inhale it went beyond it’s virgin pureness, beyond the health of the girl and became unique, earthy, flowery and familiar. The sense of familiarity was coupled with her scream, her scream was loud, terrified but informal, pleading, with knowledge that astounded him.

She screamed. “Angel! No. No. No. Angel?” her last shout of his name tentative and insecure.

Instincts still held him though, instincts clamped a hand over her mouth without tearing his own mouth away from her neck.

“Usually, I enjoy the screaming of my name, baby, but right now I want you to shut the fuck up.” Her voice, her knowledge of him, her familiar scent unsettling him, sending up images and visuals he didn’t understand.

He licked her neck, tasting the beads of blood the pricks his fangs had made left behind. Heady, sweet but not too sweet the perfect elixir but he pushed her harder against the surface behind her and inhaled more deeply. He’d been denied the taste before, he’d been denied the decision to turn this writhing body under him that was fighting and still whispering his name.

He knew her. He’d wanted to turn her, for a brief second he remembered now. To taunt, to torment The Slayer but doing it in front of her to shatter her mind and laugh all the way… Yes he’d wanted to use this girl to taunt The Slayer.

Buffy. The Slayer had a name. Her name was Buffy.

Instinct and hunger pulled strong still but Angel felt his grasp on the woman against the car loosen. His mind whirring, who was she that he’d decided to use her as a pawn, decided she’d be a pawn he’d turn? Memory told him it was a whim but a whim he’d liked. It would have hurt, Buffy, fragile small Buffy that a part of his mind wanted him to hate and the other part of him screamed that he loved. Nothing felt clear. Was he still in hell?

Hell?

He’d been in hell. But there was flesh, against him tempting his bloodlust hot and heated and afraid. He pulled back, kept his hand against the girls mouth. She was fighting, her teeth blunt against his hand to try to free herself, to scream, he felt as if he would usually laugh at the sass, at the strength, and relish breaking it down as he drained her all the more. And then he felt nauseated. He growled, he needed the blood why wasn’t he taking her blood?

Her eyes were wide, hazel, fearful but he felt no recognition despite the familiar scent and a flash of memory of staring into those eyes, laying on top of the body pressed against him ready to bite, turn, and use for his pleasure and Buffy’s pain.

Pain. Buffy, a sword fight and torment and then he was back. Back and starving. His felt his face shift, to its human form his mind trying to figure things out, knowing now he couldn’t, wouldn’t bite this young girl for a million reasons but he still wanted too. He moved closer to her again, scenting her neck, lapping up more beads of blood with his tongue and then he stepped back, letting go of her, his knees buckling out from under him.

It tasted so good, so right, but no it was wrong. It was what he couldn’t have because? He couldn’t remember but he knew. He was certain, he couldn’t have her blood. And yet, he was on the ground the taste of blood in his mouth, shaking, dizzy, lost in a haze of hunger and with knowledge that contradicted survival. Angel looked up and realized he was staring into the wide eyes of Cordelia Chase.

She stood still, plastered against a car and stared at him, her hand on her neck where he’d pricked her skin. Tiny pricks, small as paper cuts but bleeding steadily still. He could smell it, still taste it on his tongue, on his lips, it was a layer over his teeth, Cordelia’s blood. He looked down and away from her, he couldn’t move all he could do was shake. He didn’t even know where he was or how he’d gotten there. What had he done? What had he been thinking of doing?

Blood. The word, the instinct, the need. It screamed into his head again and he vamped out and growled. Cordelia screamed, he saw her jump but she couldn’t move and neither could he. Blood. It was what he needed, wanted, and there was more nearby, more than just hers. Animal blood. Animal blood was what was okay, a voice whispered against the harsher whisper tempting him to spring up and take Cordelia’s.

“Blood,” Cordelia whispered and she was staring at him. Angel nodded, wondering if he’d said something out loud but he started to fall, fall into the hum of her rapid heartbeat, she was so scared – it was exhilarating – her hand had moved away from her neck. Blood against her throat, blood on her fingers… Blood.

No. Not hers.

And she took off, ran past him but he could hear her heart, the thrum of it reminding him of what she offered. Cordelia was nearby, she hadn’t run away.

She’s close. Chase her, grab her, take what you need.

Move. Leave. Get far away from her, away from her blood.

Two choices that were both right, both of them instinct, both of them torturing him in his mind in harsh whispers. Angel was struggling and trying to get to his feet without thought to which path he would choose. Would he turn away from the scent of Cordelia or run toward it? Would he take her or let her go?

He made it to his knees but faltered, his hands hitting the pavement hard scrapping the skin of his palm. The pain stabbed him, first dulling and then heightening the pangs of hunger pricking through him. Hunger the very thing that had driven him toward Sunnydale, to this parking lot. It would, could drive him after Cordelia, to treat her like prey and take her despite the whispering instinct screaming at him not too.

Angel started to try to struggle to his feet. He would turn away from her heartbeat. He would. He couldn’t. God, it was so loud and it felt like it was getting louder, tempting and tempting him to chase. What was the fool bitch thinking? Why hadn’t she run to Buffy, told her to get her stake ready? Why hadn’t she run as far away and as fast as she could.

Louder and louder it came. A fearful heartbeat coming toward him instead of trying to run away. Angel spun, it was his hunger, it was the temptation and he wanted to fight it but he didn’t remember how. He would stand and he would stalk her. Grab her. It wouldn’t take long she was so close. In fact she was right there.

He blinked. Cordelia kneeled; pale, wide-eyed, a smear of blood on her neck, and the sound of her heart a siren call under her breasts, right in front of him, her own knees on the pavement. She stared at him and her hand came toward him, shaking and in it was a quart of red blood.

“I agree. You aren’t taking my blood. Animal all the way for you.”

Her voice was shaky, unsure, she looked terrified and ready to run. To really and truly run but she held the quart in front of him. He stared at her but then grabbed the blood, drank it down…

It wasn’t enough. But he looked up and she was holding another one. He stared and grabbed again, and thought he heard a distinct sound that sounded both like a snort of disgust and a sound of relief.

He finished and hoped she had more. “More?”

“Yes.” She moved and grabbed another quart out of a large cooler. Handed it to him, her eyes seemed smaller, her heart rate was slowing.

“You are stupid, little girl,” Angel whispered, draining the third of blood.

She flinched. “Buffy told Willow her spell worked,” she whispered. “Of course, Buffy also said you went to hell.”

“I did.”

Cordelia flinched again, then laughed the nervous laugh of someone terrified. “This can’t be real. Can’t be real… I mean what, did hell spit you out? Was your soul too good for them? Because I got say you seem evil enough for it to me…” Cordelia stopped with a gasp, jumped to her feet and kicked the cooler toward him.

“On that note. I filled this thing with ice and all the blood I could find in the butcher shop, why I don’t know and really am going to try not to over-analyze.”

Angel had moved on to a packet from the cooler and watched her as he swallowed mouthfuls of cow’s blood. She took more steps away from him, backwards, and then stooped down and picked up a garment bag from the ground. She started to turn but kept one eye on him and that’s when he realized her shirt had been torn and it really hit him that smear of blood on her neck was his doing.

“Cordelia,” he called out. His voice was low and it cracked, the animal blood she’d given him clearing his head enough for him to know which voice, which instincts he wanted to listen to.

She didn’t stop moving but she nodded at him.

“Sorry,” and Angel felt weak and ashamed, that word was too small and it had no power, he’d nearly killed her. He would have. He knew it. She’d be dead right now if she hadn’t gotten blood out of the butcher shop. He didn’t understand why she had, what had driven her. But it saved her life and he knew she had only herself to thank for that.

Cordelia didn’t respond to him, she just got herself into her car and had driven away in a flash. He closed her eyes. She’d go to Buffy, wouldn’t she? Or Giles? Maybe by sunrise he’d be dust.


Part 5

Paper thin cuts dripped a small amount of blood, adding to the dried layer of blood marring her neck. She fingered the area around the cuts and felt half-relieved Angel had sliced instead of bitten, but it didn’t quell her fear that the tiny cuts wouldn’t stop bleeding. Wouldn’t stop staining her neck with the rusty-pink crust that covered more than half her neck and glared at her from the bathroom mirror.

She turned on the hot water tap, then she took off her ripped and ruin blouse, and winced at the frayed ends of the expensive soft silk as she tossed it into the trashcan.

Cordelia shivered and crossed her hands over her chest for a moment then looked her reflection in the eye. A scared little girl stared her back with mussed up hair, running make-up and blood covering her neck. Cordelia didn’t recognize the person looking back at her with familiar shaped eyes and that had to be fixed. She grabbed a towel and dunked it in the hot water. The water burned but Cordelia didn’t care, it was the only way to clean off the touch of near death. She soaped up the towel, tilted her neck and began to roughly scrub.

Her neck scrubbed cleaned Cordelia stepped into a hot shower and found the bruises. A large hand sized bruises on her right hip and her upper arm, Angel’s hands. He’d grabbed her tightly and pinned her hard against a car, he memory was a blur but there was the evidence. They wouldn’t wash off, she’d have to wait for them to fade, wait for them not to hurt at the slightest touch but before then she could clean off her skin. Of the fear and helplessness that had filled every pore, she had to clean it off because it didn’t belong.

She felt raw from scrubbing, from the too hot water, from being assaulted when she stepped out of the shower and ignored the towels hanging nearby. She went to her closet, she opened it and pulled out her favorite towel. Large, yellow and soft, it’d be the most comfortable against her skin. It’d be safe against her bruises and keep her warm from the constant shivers even the hot water couldn’t stop.

Wrapped in the towel Cordelia left the bathroom. There was her bed, with her school books waiting for her. She’d had homework to do, she remembered and it made her start to shake. Breathing in deeply she took a step forward but her eyes fell on her answering machine. It blinked. She had a message. Xander had said he would call, hadn’t he? Xander. Sweet, loyal, funny and lame. Her sweet and safe Xander. She started to shake more, her heart rate speeding up and her lungs felt like they were closing. Cordelia gasped for a breath and closed her eyes.

She wanted to listen to Xander’s message. Hear him say a bunch of normal and silly things that a boyfriend should say to his girlfriend. It would be so simple and so normal but she couldn’t take the step. She hadn’t had a normal night, she hadn’t had a normal night in a long time since she’d opened her eyes to the demons of the world. Her night had been more abnormal than her normal abnormal and ultimately confusing…and Xander was sweet, safe and loyal but not where she needed to turn.

Cordelia fought to breathe and tried to step to her bed. It would be soft, she could sleep, she’d knock her books to the floor. She’d sleep and then she’d face the questions that were the consequences of her night. Cordelia faltered, she fell to the floor, shaking and suddenly hot. Her heartbeat had sped up like it’d been in the parking lot. Grabbed, pinned, her neck sliced open – tears stung her eyes and she moved herself against the closest wall, pulled her knees under her chin and started to rock.

“It will be okay,’ she whispered once, to herself, then Cordelia let go and began to cry.

~~

The sun rose and found Cordelia’s uncovered windows, creating a room of bright yellow and waking her mind. She hadn’t slept, and she’d run out of tears, but she hadn’t been able to stop remembering, or stop thinking about Angel.

***

Through the night, her knees still tucked under her chin and her own arms hugging herself tight, Cordelia had run through the entire situation a million times.

First her fear, her helplessness, and the certainty she’d be dead if Angel hadn’t suddenly pulled away from her. That was why she’d cried. Sobbed, rocking and hugging herself until she got sick of the sound of her own sobs. Then she swallowed them back, stilled her rocking but found it still hard to breathe, and forced herself to focus on her breath. In and out, she focused on her breathing and told herself that she hadn’t died. She hadn’t died, and she’d taken control of the situation. She’d smiled wryly at that – control of a situation with an obviously insane and hungry vampire, if that wasn’t an oxymoron she didn’t know what was. Yet, she’d gotten the blood, she’d handed it to him and then she’d run. A slice on her neck, a few bruises, a bit of a fright – those were getting off easy in the face of Angelus.

Cordelia knew that, which brought her to the third conclusion. It hadn’t been the soulless version of the vampire she knew in that parking lot, she’d seen his soulless half. He’d never have gotten off of her on his own accord, Angel had let go and fallen broken to the ground. He’d been talking to himself and muttering one second about wanting to kill her and the next about how no, he wouldn’t, no not human, not Cordelia. She knew, she’d recognized the soul within him because he’d recognized her as someone he knew.

Fear still spread throughout her, her muscles were taut and she could still feel his hands pressed into her, where she knew bruises were gaining more ugly colors. But confusion became the strongest emotion rushing through her as she sat awake, hugging herself for comfort and strength, against the wall. Buffy had killed him, she’d said so, Buffy said she’d had to impale him with a sword and send him to hell to stop Acathla from swallowing the whole world. How was it possible he was here in Sunnydale?

And as the sun brightened her room, reminding her that there was a day to live, this thought was in the front of her mind and the back of it. But her eyes started to blink and she realized she had to move. She stood up slowly, stretching her legs and letting the towel fall to the floor.

Instantly she investigated the bruises on her arm and hip, and frowned at their ugly appearance blotching and marring her skin. Then her hand slipped up against her neck, the spot where he’d sliced into her felt tender and raw. She feared it would be bruised too, ugly and marred and impossible to hide from prying and un-understanding eyes. Seconds later she was in front of the mirror, breathing in relief, they’d healed like ultra thin paper cut. Thin cuts, slices, that only if you knew they were there could one see it. Cordelia sighed, this was good, this meant that only those she chose to tell would know about her night.

She’d get to pick and choose how much to share, and how much to leave out. Cordelia Chase didn’t over-share, she reminded herself. She frowned realizing she’d have to tell someone about Angel. Giles. She’d tell Giles first, then the rest of them, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Oz. Giles would tell the rest of them, well maybe she’d tell Xander, Cordelia frowned at the thought and stepped out of her bathroom to look at the time.

It was later than she’d realized, she was running late, she squealed and started running around her room. She couldn’t miss cheerleading practice, and she needed another shower. And the decision was made: shower, dress, go to cheerleading practice, and tell Giles about Angel. The other thoughts running through her mind she’d worry about later – much later.

***

Xander grinned, near maniacally, as he watched Cordelia kick her legs nearly over her head through the fence that blocked him from walking across the field for a much closer view. He heard a few other boys nearby make a mention of his girlfriends legs, and how she could high kick for them anytime and he grinned.

“Yep, that’s my girlfriend,” he said, too loudly but he didn’t care. “My girlfriend!” he repeated when the two guys talking, football players, looked at him. Xander grinned. “All mine.”

“Enjoy it while you can, it won’t last, Harris.”

Xander shrugged, deciding to ignore the jock, he knew nothing about Cordelia. Few people did and he was one of the few who knew there was a bit more to her than high fashion pumps and great legs. But what great legs they were, he thought, ogling her again. Until the one of the jock’s voices permeated his thoughts and ruined his plans to get Cordelia alone in a closet.

“And then I’ll get my hands on that delicious body and do things to her your amateur hands could never had dreamed of, Harris.”

Xander spun around and glared at him. “Don’t talk about her like that, that’s my girlfriend.”

“What Harris?” the guy laughed. “Going to defend her honor, or have your pal, that freak, Buffy do it?”

Xander started to see red, first they were talking about Cordelia like she was a piece of meat and now they were bringing Buffy into it? He lunged at the jock, only to have himself immediately pulled off and corralled into the High School.

“Picking fights first thing in the morning, is not good for your health, Xander,” Buffy said.

Xander felt like all the air had been squeezed out of him and he was flat balloon on the ground being trampled on. He was now sandwiched between Willow and Buffy walking down the school hallway; this was not good for his already bad reputation. “He was saying things. Things about Cordelia. And you, I might add…and damn it Buffy you did it again. You made me look like a wimp that needed to be saved by a girl!”

“What? I didn’t hit anyone, I just grabbed you off of him. I saved him, from you. I made him look like a wimp.”

“Yep. One jock, looking like a total wimp,” Willow agreed, as they came to a stop by Buffy’s locker.

Xander let his head hit the locker next to Buffy’s with a hard thud. “No, no, no. You girls don’t understand…that’s…ugh. I’m going to be the laughing stock of the school today.”

“And this will be different from yesterday because?” Buffy asked.

Willow stifled a laugh and then patted him on the back. “You are still dating the head cheerleader.”

Xander smiled. “True, true. Cordelia was looking mighty fine too, all glowy and kicky in her tiny skirt. Yep, that’s my girl and soon she’ll she sidling up to me all soapy and showery-fresh and we can go to a closet where…” but as usual Buffy interrupted him when he got to the good part of his fantasy.

“So, last night I didn’t get to patrol. Mom and her bonding stuff…but tonight I definitely have to or Giles will probably threaten to have babies or something. So what about it guys, you two, me, Mr. Pointy?”

“Mr. Pointy?” Scott’s voice interrupted them and he glanced at Buffy questioningly.

“Oh, I, uh…” she glanced at Xander for help and Xander smiled brightly.

Yes, he was Xander and he would now save her from having to lie to keep her Slayer status a secret. Though, he was of mind to think maybe Scott would be okay with being told. He seemed like a straight up guy, worthy of Buffy’s time and affections.

After all he didn’t make Buffy seemed like a crazed obsessed girl who only talked about her boyfriend 24/7 like Angel had. But the best part was Scott didn’t drink blood. Yep, two things that made him an okay guy to be dating your best friend. Like Oz, sure he was a werewolf, but he went into a cage. He was housetrained. Plus he was good to Willow. Scott was like Oz, less the werewolf thing and the guitar, Xander decided.

“Her invisible friend!” Willow suddenly said, interrupting Xander’s train of thought and making him realize he’d forgotten to save Buffy, and Willow had just possibly made it worse.

“What?” he said in chorus with Scott.

“Sure. Buffy, she has this invisible friend, from when she was little. I mean she doesn’t have him now. But his name was Mr. Pointy-Finger. She just says Mr. Pointy for short and she had a dream about him last night and she was just telling us about how it was her, Jay Leno and Mr. Pointy doing a skit about pilgrims on national television…” Willow trailed off and stepped behind Xander to hide her flaming red cheeks and whispered. “Why didn’t you say something before I did?”

Xander looked from Willow to Buffy, and shrugged before looking Scott straight in the eye. “Never ask a girl if she had any good dreams, you find things out about them you never wanted to know.”

“And things they didn’t want you to know,” Buffy added turning to Scott with a smile. “I swear I haven’t thought of Mr. Pointy-Finger since I was seven years old.”

Scott smiled. “It’s okay, I think it’s kind of cute really. All of us have tales of things from when they were kids. Which is why you will never meet my mother.”

Buffy smiled. “So, what brings you by my locker.”

Xander watched smiling as the two of them continued to talk. Yep, Scott was a good guy, made Buffy smile instead of worry. He needed to get to know him better. Maybe more triple dates like they’d had last night, he could talk Cordelia into it, wasn’t like her friends ever wanted him around. Least she could do was continue to be nice to Buffy and Willow since they were nice to her.

“We should get to the library, tell Giles our plans to patrol, before he yells at me,” Buffy said a moment after Scott left. She then grabbed his arm, and soon Willow latched onto his other arm.

“I’m so sorry about the whole invisible friend thing, Buffy, I don’t know what…”

“It’s okay, I think he really did find it cute. Way to help me score points.”

“I like him. He’s a good guy,” Xander said, making his thoughts known.

Willow and Buffy shared a glance and giggled, dropping his arms and walking into the library ahead of him.

“What? Don’t you appreciate my opinions. I bet Cordelia would…”

They laughed louder and Xander opened his mouth stammering for another retort. He didn’t get to think of one, because Giles walked out from the stacks with a worried look and way too many books in his arms.

“There was a terrible attack in town last night – it doesn’t look good at all. Buffy, the article is on the counter. I’m going to need all your eyes. Xander, doesn’t Cordelia have first free as well? Go get her quickly, Willow as soon as he can I want Oz in here, I’m afraid this might take a lot of research…”

“Was it a vampire?” Buffy asked.

Giles looked up. “I’m unsure at the moment.”

“Unsure?” Buffy echoed.

“Xander. Cordelia, please.”

Xander looked at Willow, then Buffy, they both looked as worried as he felt at Giles seriousness and he turned on his heal. As the doors to the library closed behind him he heard Buffy rapidly firing questions about how one could be uncertain if an attack was vampires or not.

Part 6

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

Kaleidoscope 2-3   1 comment

Part 2

The overpowering smell of her mother’s perfume filled the foyer and Cordelia wrinkled her nose and quickly found the bright side to inhaling the fumes – it warned her that her parents were home.

A rarity for a Sunday but one she was noticing was happening more and more often. Maybe they were finally mellowing in their old age like Harmony’s parents? Cordelia’s nose wrinkled and she wondered if she really wanted that to be the case and made her way towards the back parlor where her mother was the most likely to be found.

Helene Chase’s voice greeted Cordelia five feet before she even reached the archway leading to the room and she sighed when she heard her mother ordering them something French for dinner. That meant that her parents had sent Ellen home, which meant dinner was going to be overpriced and from a restaurant instead of something that she’d like. Suddenly, Cordelia regretted not getting what she hadn’t finished at the diner as a doggie bag like both Buffy and Willow.

“Hi, Mom,” Cordelia called out announcing her arrival and smiling when her mother’s eyes glanced her way.

Helene raised a finger at her daughter and started to shake her head. “And this can be delivered at precisely half-past seven? Good, I despise having my dinner be late.”

Hanging up the telephone Helene crossed the room toward Cordelia, and Cordelia started to once again say hello, when her mother walked right past her without a blink.

Ignoring the sudden tightness in her throat Cordelia pushed past it and called out again, to her mother’s back. “Hi, Mom.”

“Oh. Hi, darling. Did you know that Ellen wants two weeks off for Christmas?”

Cordelia followed her mother into the kitchen and watched as the older woman went through the refrigerator randomly pulling out items. “Doesn’t she always get two weeks off?”

“Dear lord, Cordelia, of course she doesn’t.”

Cordelia raised an eyebrow, her mind calculating all the past years where Ellen had not be around for Christmas, and it was always two weeks if not longer. “Mom, I…”

“If she thinks she’s getting paid in full to taking fourteen days off during winter she is sadly mistaken. We may be gone for most of that time, but this house needs to be taken care of in our absence. I will not have it be empty.”

“We always leave it empt…”

“We most certainly do not, Cordelia. What crazy things are in your head these days. We never leave this house unattended.”

Biting the inside of her cheek Cordelia decided it was best to just give up and go along with her mother. “Right, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“One does have to wonder what is with you lately. Are you inhaling products or whatever the trendy drug is these days?”

“What?” Cordelia snapped appalled at her mother’s sudden question.

“Do not raise your voice with me,” Helene snapped, closing the door to the refrigerator and walking away from it empty handed. “I’m just concerned about the people you are spending you’re time with lately.”

“What do you mean?”

“Aura and Harmony stopped by. Didn’t you tell me you were going out with them to lunch?”

“I said I’d be with Xander. My boyfriend and his friends.”

“No. Cordelia you said your friends, which are of course young women from upstanding families like Aura and Harmony. And this Xander, boy, this isn’t the Harris boy is it?”

“I told you Mom, I’m dating Xander Harris and he’s really sweet and wonderful guy.”

“Of course he is darling, now…” she trailed off. “Cordelia, you are not going to be beautiful forever. Your looks will only let you slide by for so much longer, you have maybe ten years but really by the time you are twenty you should have landed a husband from a worthy family.”

Helene raised a finger again and shook her head. “Remember, your father and I met my senior of high school. You really should be going to the college campus, I was so proud of you last year when you took the initiative but then you’re not dating anyone and then this thing with that boy…I really thought over the summer you would have come to your senses. I introduced you to plenty of worthy and attractive young men, didn’t I? I know that Allan Dennison’s son took quite a liking to you.”

A wave of pure revulsion hit Cordelia at the thought of the grabby bastard her mother was referring to; she’d kicked him in the shins a million times before finally kneeing him in the groin. After which he’d finally gotten the point and stopped mauling her on a daily basis.

“Well, do you have anything to say?”

“When were Aura and Harmony here?” Cordelia asked, not wanting to discuss her love life with her mother. She didn’t want to defend Xander, she didn’t want to defend her interest in Xander because she knew it would be pointless.

“Oh, I don’t remember. I just found it odd you weren’t with them.”

“I told you I went out with Xander and his friends.”

“Whatever, dear,” Helene said and she walked out of the kitchen leaving nothing but perfumed air in her wake.

Cordelia stood where she was for a full minute trying to decide if she wanted to scream, cry or pretend nothing at happened at all. Deciding finally that it was best to pretend, she squared her shoulders and went to the refrigerator and grabbed a diet soda.

***

“I have to go, Giles. Dinners together complete with family bonding is all the rage in the Summer’s house these days. I told her I’d be home before sunset for tons of time to bond before I have to go dust the evil vampires,” Buffy bit her lip. “Okay, I didn’t mention the slaying of evil, but I think it’s for her own peace of mind that I still sneak out the window. Right?”

Without turning away from the library cage where he was putting back the protective gear he wore while training – for all the good it did not do him – Giles made a noise. “While it may not be prudent to condone such shenanigans it probably is for the best you don’t discuss the dangers of your calling with Joyce often. I do trust you two have worked out things since your return?”

Buffy shifted uneasily on her feet as she studied Giles’ back. “I guess so. She’s just being a mom, maybe overly so but I guess since I took off I can’t… I was just so wigged out about Angel.”

“Anymore dreams?”

Dreams? Buffy’s mind went completely black on her as she tried to figure out what Giles was getting out before her lie about dreaming about Angel’s return flitted back into her mind. God, she hated lying. How had she lied to her mother for so long about being The Slayer? Survival she supposed. “No…but um…”

Giles turned around then and gave Buffy a smile that was so understanding she found herself wishing that hole that never did appear and swallow you up to save you from a situation or yourself. Her thoughts filled with everything she had already done wrong, running away, keeping the fact Willow’s spell had worked and returned Angel’s soul a secret for another week or so after her return, and now – now keeping the fact that Angel was in Sunnydale, very alive and very obviously not stuck in a hell dimension.

She had to tell Giles, she had to tell him; she owed him that after everything she’d put him through. He was the person she had to share this amazing and terrifying secret with and maybe he could help her make it make sense. Or maybe, maybe she’d actually wake up from the crazy dream it all had to be – but she knew it wasn’t a dream. It was real and she was afraid to admit it. But she had to try and she started to formulate the question but never got it out.

“Buffy, it was a very difficult moment, one I doubt I will ever understand fully myself but you showed great courage and did what you had to do as The Slayer. I am quite proud of you and also quite proud that you have chosen to go on with your life…” he cleared his throat trailing off. “Which brings me to one last point I wish to discuss with you before you go off to bond with Joyce.”

She stood silent, she’d heard his words but they weren’t processing but he was talking again and Buffy realized as he was halfway through a sentence that she was being given a lecture. A practice well thought out Giles lecture, and she wasn’t listening to it because she was relieved he’d interrupted her confession and more than a little guilty about it. But not guilty enough to stop herself from saying silent and forcing her ears to catch the end of the speech, praying that she caught enough to know what it was about.

“… Now I want you to understand that I think Scott is a very nice young man, Buffy but it’s not prudent or safe for him to be told anything about your destiny just yet. I know it will be hard to keep a secret from someone you are dating and lord knows enough of Sunnydale is already aware of your status as Slayer, but it’s for the best that Scott does not know. I’m happy you have found someone new that you like but you must remember your priorities and keep your identity—”

“A secret,” Buffy breathed out. “Right. I can keep it quiet, my lips are sealed.”

***

Angel blinked the words on the page in front of him remained blurred and the harder he tried to focus on the faded black ink on the aged pages the worse it got. In fact the strings of sentences seemed to bend left to right as if mocking him for not being able to read.

He threw the book, it hit the opposite wall of the mansion’s main room with a loud thud and plummeted to the floor, the pages noisy in the air and then everything went quiet again.

Or as quiet as a sunny California day could be to a vampire. A wind was blowing, no more than a breeze really but it moved the leaves and branches of the woods surrounding the building, as well as the flowering vines that had formed a blanket around the outside, scraping them against the walls. He could hear everything and nothing, it was creating a constant static white noise in his head. Adding to the memories of hundreds of years in a dimension where his conscience had tormented him with a never-ending loop of all his murderous and callous deeds. No cruel act was too small not to show in every vivid detail, and the good memories he had – however few – were twisted in ways to remind him how undeserving he’d been and then led to the inevitable gruesome end done by his hands.

The white noise of a sunny day coupled with memories that were his made even more vivid by centuries in hell made him restless, trapped in his own skin, in his own mind. Angel wanted to go out, he wanted to kill – vampires, demons – he promised himself, his conscience loud, revolted by centuries of wrongful acts. He needed to try to run away from his head, his memories, the mansion still full of the blood of his most recent victims.

But he couldn’t. It wasn’t the sun keeping him trapped, it was the hunger and the weakness of it. The hunger was humming inside of him, screaming at him to go out and find blood – any blood, all blood and to consume it. Take all he needs and then all he wants and then he’d be whole again. Not weak after pacing for a mere minute, able to focus his eyes on page and maybe able to step out of the past and focus on the now.

Now. Now he was in Sunnydale and it wasn’t right. It made no sense, and Buffy had found him, and through the crazed fog that had enveloped him at first he had seen her, smelled her, almost tasted her blood but realized she was real. Had it been a dream? Hell? Being back?

It was all unclear. Clarity, he craved clarity and a primal voice inside of him told him blood was the only way. Blood. Blood. Blood.

“Angel?”

The haze in Angel’s mind didn’t break, but it lifted at the soft voice that followed tentative footsteps. He looked up and smiled. It was Buffy. Buffy. His Buffy, and he’d done so much damage to her and yet there she was here and helping him.

“I can’t stay long,” she explained coming closer, looking at the couch where he sat and he watched her, wondering would she sit with him. She stayed standing, so far away and he sniffed the air. And smelled only her and it was wonderful, but he needed blood. Where was pig’s blood, she’d brought some last night but it wasn’t enough. Hadn’t she brought more?

“I just wanted to check in with you. I’ll bring more blood tomorrow, I brought enough to last you two days.”

Angel swallowed and looked at her, the pain was so much and didn’t she know that, couldn’t she that. “Tomorrow?”

She stared at him and bit her lip, looked behind her and Angel wanted to reach out and grab but hadn’t he lost that right? She seemed so far away, he knew only a summer had passed for her, while it had been hundreds of years for him but she seemed so far away. Standing right there she seemed so far away but the smell of the blood under her skin was getting stronger and stronger.

He stood up, it startled her but he ignored her gasp and he walked around the couch, putting more of a barrier between them.

“You can’t come by tonight?” he asked focusing on her chin rather than her eyes.

Her chin drew up defiant but then he noticed her body sag, Buffy was sighing and she cleared her throat. “Mom. She found out about the Slayer thing and it’s a whole big thing. And well Giles is being kind of more hover-y than usual too. It all has to do with me running away – but I mean I’m back. Don’t worry about that.”

“Back?” Angel echoed, he was back too wasn’t he?

“Tomorrow. You just you know, drink the blood, rest. You look stronger.”

Angel closed his eyes and then opened them and met hers. She looked so hopeful, so determined and so small. How was someone with so much power always reminding him something that could break in a second? So fragile. So vulnerable, she’d always had it and now it was in even more bold in her blue-blue eyes.

His fault.

His doing.

“I am,” he lied.

“Tomorrow then,” Buffy said and then she was gone.

Buffy was gone and Angel slumped down, gripping the back of the couch with his hands and fought to stay standing. Seconds later he failed.


Part 3

Her hair finally dry, Cordelia turned off the drier, dropped it on her bureau and grabbed her phone. Within a second she was on her bed, sitting indian style and ignoring the backpack on the end of it and listening to the rings on the other end of the line.

“What?”

Cordelia cringed at the sound of Mr. Harris’ voice, but did her best to sound cheery and welcoming. “Is Xander home? It’s Cordelia.”

She heard movement and then a lot of loud bellowing for Xander. It heralded no results and she tried to ignore the sinking sensation in her gut at what that probably meant.

“No,” Mr. Harris said to her before hanging up abruptly.

Cordelia closed her line, took two quick breaths and then decided that she had every right to call Willow Rosenberg’s home and talk to her boyfriend. She just knew Xander was there, if he wasn’t home he was either with her, Willow or Buffy. If he wasn’t such a lame loser she’d have to give him a hard time for making it look like he had a harem, she thought, as she dialed Willow’s phone number. A number she thought she’d never know by heart.

“Hello?” Willow’s voice came through the line.

“It’s Cordy, I want Xander.”

“Oh. Hold on.”

Cordelia wished she could be feel surprised about her boyfriend being at the other girls home.

“How’s my girl?”

She smiled, but she was his girlfriend and Willow wasn’t and never would be. Willow had Oz anyway, and she could be understanding and not overly insecure of her boyfriend’s every move like the sheep that called themselves the Cordettes.

“Bored. I did all my cheerleading stuff and now only have homework looming ahead of me.”

“Will’s helping me with geometry while we watched those wacky Indian soap operas. Someone is singing to a picture frame right now as we speak.”

“How tacky,” Cordelia muttered.

“Yeah I know. Look, I’ll call you when I get home, okay?”

Cordelia nodded and wished he’d talk to her longer, but he never did if he wasn’t home. Was it really so much to ask he want to tie up his friend’s phone lines? “I’m holding you to it.”

“Gotcha. We’ll do something special during lunch tomorrow, huh?” Cordelia could see his eyebrows waggling through the phone and she rolled her own eyes.

“We are not spending lunch in a closet, Xander.”

“You know you want to,” he wheedled.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I’m once again reminded that I have to teach you how to behave properly around a woman.”

“There is a woman around?”

“Ha!”

Xander lowered his voice. “You know I love every womanly inch of you.”

“Ugh. Bye Xander.”

“Talk to you later about our lunch date.”

“It’s going to be somewhat romantic,” Cordelia said, just before Xander hung up and left her listening to a dial tone. Rolling her eyes, she wondered for the millionth time since she’d started her relationship with him what she was thinking. But then she remembered his sweet brown eyes, how brave he was everyday with all the demons and stuff, how could she not like Xander Harris.

Of course she could never tell her friends about the courage in the face of demons, but that was their loss. If they just learned to open their eyes they’d know about the danger right under the high school same as her.

Furrowing her brow she looked at her backpack, and thought of all the homework inside of it and shook her head. She wasn’t ready to start frying her brain with boring facts and figures in all her subjects. Standing up she decided to wander into the kitchen and see what she could find as a snack.

Her father’s voice greeted her the second she opened her door. She frowned, what was he yelling so loudly about on his phone this time. His den was at the other end of the hall by the staircase. She stalled for a moment, wondering if she really wanted to move closer to the shouting but decided she was being foolish.

“No. No. No. Miranda, honey, baby…shh.”

Or maybe not all that foolish, Cordelia thought as she moved close enough to hear the words and the tone. He’d calmed down a bit but he was in full smarm mode trying to calm down his latest mistress. A cold chill settled through Cordelia’s body and she tried to push it away.

“Miranda, you know I want to see you, be with you, fuck you… but I have to bring Helene on this trip. For the firm, there is a get to together, so you are going to have to wait a bit… Honey, baby, you know I only want you.”

Only it was impossible to push away something your own father didn’t even try to hide and she felt sick to her stomach, hugged herself and quickened her steps to get away from his voice. The sooner she reached the kitchen, the sooner she could pretend her father wasn’t an adulterous ass again.

“Oh, thank goodness. Cordelia, honey. You have to run to the dry cleaners for me.”

Her mother’s voice startled her as she reached the end of the staircase and she blinked at the woman dumbly for a moment. “What?”

“I just realized I left my dress there. I called and Ben is going to stay open just for you to run down and grab it. Go, go. We don’t want to put him out too much longer.”

“Mom, I was going to have a snack and then I have…”

“Cordelia.”

Cordelia ended up hugging herself tighter, looking up the staircase where she could still hear her father’s muffled voice sweet talking his mistress. He wasn’t even considering her mother, or her, that they could hear him and if he did he just didn’t care.

She felt so cold and alone. Her father was upstairs sweet talking his latest tramp while her mother was staring at her like she was an alien for arguing about the dry cleaning? Didn’t her mother care? Why didn’t he care? Why should she care?

“Fine,” Cordelia said and stalked past her mother.

***

Angel didn’t remember leaving the mansion. He hurt, he was shaking but he refused to stop walking. He needed something, it was important that he get it. Had that been why he’d left the mansion once the sun had set? Forced himself off the floor and onto his feet? He remembered falling. He remembered Buffy and lying to her about his strength, seeing her determination and her pain and saying what she wanted to hear. And then he’d fallen, the pain weakening his legs and taking him to the floor of the mansion.

Then he was walking, in the dark, sticking near the shadows and heading somewhere. He looked behind him, he was no longer in the woods, he’d moved off of it and towards buildings. Buildings after buildings were around him and parked cars on the sides of the road. Few people, but there were there, far away but with loud beating hearts that he could hear over the hum of the electricity in the wires above, and the other man made noises that covered the earth in its present stage.

He kept walking, towards the heartbeats, towards breath, skin and blood. He remembered now. Blood. That was what he was seeking, he’d left the mansion to get blood. Where? How? He couldn’t remember again. He looked around, buildings, cars, people, markings and roads he didn’t recognize. It was Sunnydale wasn’t it? Didn’t he know Sunnydale? Demons, demons had places, places that would lead to him what he craved, what he wanted, what he needed to survive.

He blinked. No. That wasn’t it, that wasn’t where he would have gone before… before Hell, before he remembered the joy of sweet, warm human blood gushing over his tongue and down his throat.

Human blood. Sticky, sweet, warm and it would spurt out of their bodies and over his tongue where he held all the control of how much or little he took. Would it be fast, would it be slow? How he had love to relish a kill, and Angel shivered, his stomach clenched and his mind snapped.

He was a monster, he could hear it in his head. His own voice, voices of nameless victims, a harsher voice that cut him from the inside out… And Buffy’s, he could hear it in Buffy’s voice too. She’d sent him to hell because of what he’d done as a monster.

Angel stopped, grabbed the side of a stop sign near the side of the street and doubled over. What was he doing? Focus, he could barely focus. He needed blood. He looked around, he had to remember where he was and where he was supposed to go.

A grocery store was ahead of him, but all it’s lights were off. Crafts, books, businesses, a bank, and his eyes landed on another set of buildings. The ones closest to him. Why couldn’t he find something familiar to latch onto, why wouldn’t his brain work more than a few moments at a time?

Pain, hunger and confusion were all he knew, he stumbled closer to the buildings he was near. They were all stores, close together and he sniffed. He smelled animals, dead animals, one of them had to be a butcher and where their was a butcher there was blood. He walked through a parking lot, three cars dotted the lot but clearly in front of him was a butcher shop.

That was it. It was why he’d left the mansion, forced himself to walk, to stay clear and find. A butcher shop. He hurried up to the door, it wouldn’t open but the lights were on. He tried again, slammed his fists against the glass and didn’t notice it shatter. All Angel saw was that it had remained closed. He hit again and started to shout. What he did not know, all Angel knew was he so close to what was needed and if he didn’t get it….

A man appeared on the other side of the shattered glass. Angel felt relief at the sight of the tired face until it turned to anger. Confusion filled him, confusion and pain but he stepped back when the man opened the door a crack, then tried to get in. Grab at the door, wrench it open completely and get the blood he came for.

“You broke the fucking door.”

“I need blood.”

“What?”

“Blood. Open up and sell me blood.”

“Fuck that. I don’t need the hassle of some drugged up asshole. Get lost before I call the police.”

Angel shook his head, not hearing the man’s words but understanding that the door was going to close and he reached forward and got the wrist of the man. He wrenched the arm hard, heard it fall out of the man’s socket but only his arm came threw the door and the man screamed in pain.

“Blood,” Angel muttered his fingers feeling the man’s pulse through his skin. Warm skin and blood. It was swimming through the man, Angel could hear it. A peaceful whoosh that was calling to him, telling him it was right and that this was what he needed.

His face changed, hardened, his teeth elongated and the whoosh of blood grew and it’s scent grew stronger with the man’s fear. He heard cries from the man, as he loomed over his wrist and Angel stopped.

His head lifted, the air was different, he looked up and found himself looking into the wide eyes of a scared female. Her mouth opened, she screamed something familiar to him but he wasn’t sure what, but his mouth was watering. Sweet, young, pure, terrified blood coursing through a woman who was running — he liked that, a voice reminded him. And he was after her, snarling, craving and it took only a moment.

A moment to catch her, slam her against the side of a car, push at the thick long hair that dared to cover her neck and pull at the blouse that went up too high. There was the tear of fabric, then the feel of heated skin against his lips, Angel sniffed in the heavenly perfume of young female virgin blood full of fear.

All he had to do was take it.

Part 4

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC

Kaleidoscope Pro-1   Leave a comment

Title: Kaleidoscope    Kal ficpic
Author: WritingPathways
Posted:
Email
Rating: R for now?
Category:
Content: Mostly B/A at first but not for too long (sorry anyway), C/X but eventually C/A friendship and more.
Summary: Angel comes back from Hell, and things go AU pretty much from there.
Spoilers: for Buffy up to first episode of season 3, Anne. Also Buffy meets and starts dating Scott Hope. Pretty much will be an Alternate take on Season 3 Buffy, but I’ll be picking and choosing things from canon to include with my own twist.:
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask, please.
Notes:
Thanks/Dedication:
Feedback: Please. And constructive critiques welcomed.


Prologue

Marilis stood in the shadows waiting and watching.

The girl known as the slayer stood in the center of the mansion having a silent conversation with herself. Marilis did not care about why the slayer was there, or why she delivered a trinket to the floor with shaky breath and then left without looking back. The girl was nobody to her but the foolish and childish heart who’d given her heart to a demon. And that love gifted the monster by freeing him of the soul.

The old gypsy’s thin lips curved into a small smile, the vampire’s freedom had been short and his own plot had been turned against him. He’d had his soul restored by a young witch moments before the slayer sent him into a hell dimension where his soul would cause him more torment than the century he’d lived trapped with it on this earth. It gave Marilis pleasure to know, that a demon and a monster such as he lived with their curse tortured in hell. There was no more fitting end to a monster’s life.

Her smile faded when a flash of white blinded her eyes. The sudden magical energy didn’t shock her or surprise her, but she had hoped it would not come to pass. He belonged in hell, he belonged in endless torment. A form fell from the fissure opened in the air and plummeted to the hard floor of the mansion, almost in the exact spot the slayer had stood.

Marilis looked upon the naked figure in disgust and loathing, he was wet with sweat and he shook but she did not care why. He was a vampire. A monster.

And she hesitated to move.

Her husband stood behind her, his hand softly cupped her shoulder and squeezed. He said nothing to her, just told her in the motion and his loving touch that he understood her doubt but she must do what they’d came to do. Marilis closed her eyes and said a prayer to the slain daughter of the Kalderash clan and his most recent victim, Yana, as well. She prayed and hoped the clan’s decision was the right one and stepped forward.

She would do has they wished. She motioned to her husband and her brothers behind her with her hands. They moved forward to the monster and her heart skipped with fear, what if the seers had been wrong and he wasn’t as weak as they’d expected? It was a futile fear, her mind knew, they’d been right about his return from hell, they were right about his physical state and they were right about what they the Kalderash must do.

Yet Marilis didn’t breath until she met her husband’s wise eyes, and saw that they had the chains around the demon’s wrists and held him tight. She motioned with her hands again and her sisters stepped forward, lit the herbs and candles and handed her the runes. She tossed them to the ground and took the orb out of a pocket in her dress.

She let one more moment of doubt cross her mind, stated her distaste for what she was about to do the spirits above her, the ones that had set this decision in motion by bringing the vampire back. Then Marilis cleared her mind and did what had been decided.

She chanted, she evoked centuries old gypsy magic and she anchored the demon’s soul. But Marilis wasn’t done, she moved as close to the vampire as she could dare, watched as her husband and brothers twisted tighter on his chains and she ordered the creature to look her in the eyes.

He did.

She felt cold.

And she spat into his face. “Monster,” she said to him and watched his face. He was still slick with sweat but was shivering. She took pleasure in his pain and the confusion in his eyes.

“You see and hear me, I know you do vampire. You don’t yet know that this is real. Or what is real. You won’t know what is real and what is illusion for days and weeks to come. And I hope you never do but I am not naïve.

“There are plans for you monster, beyond the Kalderash’s control. With that in mind a decision was made to anchor your soul. We cannot chance again that the curse will be broken by your own arrogance again. I do not understand these Power’s interest in a monster like you but it is not my place to judge them.”

“But it is my place to curse you. And cursed you are monster! The choice to anchor your soul is not a gift, vampire. You are still a demon, still a killer, still a monster. The soul gives you only a taste of humanity but it does not gift you with humanity. You will forever crave blood, forever be a creature of violence. Your soul it makes you nothing special, nothing unique. All it makes you is neither demon or human. You don’t belong. You are nothing. And shall always be in the eyes of the Kalderash. And in this way our vengeance is fixed to last and you shall remain always a monster.”

Marilis finished her words and then turned away from the monster. She joined her sisters in the shadows and waited again. This time for her husband and brothers to free the monster. Her duty was done and she would not look back. The soul was now anchored to the monster – he was forever cursed.


Part 1

Warm, Buffy thought, as Scott’s lips pressed against his and she returned the kiss. This is warm and warm is nice she decided, and smiled as they pulled apart breaking the chaste kiss.

“So, that was the end of our third date,” Scott said, taking a half-step backward

Buffy smiled a bit wider. “Yep, three. Three dates have been had.”

“Which presents the question…” Scott trailed off. “Will their be…”

“A fourth?” she asked and then she nodded. “Four is a nice number.”

“It is.” Scott smiled. “This is good, and tomorrow is school.”

“Monday. First day of the school week.”

Scott nodded. “And I’ll see you there?”

“I will be free during the time known as lunch.”

“Good.”

“Yes,” Buffy said.

Scott gave her a smile. “Are you sure you don’t need a ride home?”

Buffy nodded. “I’m fine. I have to stop by the school, it’s close by and I like walking in the sun,” she explained, adding silently to herself, especially since I usually walk in the moonlight.

“Sunshine is good,” Scott said.

“And warm,” Buffy said with a self-satisfied grin.

He got into his car, waved at the others standing between his car and Cordelia Chase’s Corvette and sent Buffy one last smile before driving off.

“Wasn’t that just the most pathetic goodbye, I’ve ever seen.”

Buffy winced and turned toward Cordelia. “What?”

“You were counting your dates and are you two even speaking in English? It’s just so…”

“Romantic,” Willow piped in, her body leaning towards Oz but her eyes on Buffy. “I think it’s romantic.”

“Me too,” Oz said agreeing with his girlfriend and taking her hand.

Buffy smiled, Willow and Oz were so right together. They looked so comfortable and everything seemed so easy, despite the fact Oz was a werewolf. They had a nice relationship and it made Buffy happy for Willow.

“It’s nice. Scott’s nice,” she said glancing toward where Scott’s car had been, thinking that she wanted a nice and comfortable relationship with a nice boy. And Scott was just the boy for her needs.

“I guess it must be nice not having to wonder if he’ll go all evil and blood-thirsty.”

Buffy tensed at Cordelia’s words, and she heard Willow and Xander instantly step in to veer the subject away from Angel. Oz, piping up to echo Willow and Cordelia huffing but not saying anything more.

But it was too late. Buffy’s mind was on Angel. Not on their past but on the present. On the fact that he was presently in the mansion, probably still crouching on the floor in dirty pants and covered in grime. Angel was back in Sunnydale, back in her life and she didn’t understand.

She’d said good bye to him at the place where she’d thrust a sword into his chest and sent him to hell. Then ten days later she found him while patrolling in the woods. He’d been wild and naked, he’d look at her without any recognition and tried to fight her. He’d been easy to knock out because he was weak and shaking.

He was stronger now. He trusted her now, at first he’d been defensive readying to attack her to defend himself. Angel had seen her as a danger to him and it weighed on her conscience because he should. Hadn’t she sent him to an eternal torment in hell? Which brought her back to the why of it, the confusion of it and the how of it. How had he returned? She couldn’t ask Angel, the most he’d said was her name, and a thank you for the blood she brought to him, to help him get stronger.

She had spoken to Giles, pretending it was just a dream, which Giles thought was natural due to her grief. He’d had no answers, just theories and everything he’d said about the demon dimension hadn’t boded well for Angel’s psyche.

But Angel knew who she was. He could drink out of the plastic canisters she brought to him. He was still Angel just unfocused, weak and to Buffy a very confusing presence. One she was pushing to the back of her mind, keeping at a distance until he was stronger, until she could figure out what was going on, until she knew he was going to be okay. He was her responsibility, it was her responsibility to take care of him and to make sure he wasn’t a threat to anyone in Sunnydale.

Yet she hadn’t told anyone he was back. In fact she kept on with her goal of moving on and letting her past with him go while the days past by. It’d been the longest week of her life.

“Buffy?”

Buffy jumped when Willow’s voice, followed by her hand on Buffy’s arm broke into her thoughts.

“Thinking about your guy?”

“What?” Buffy stared at her best friend, how had Willow known? How was she going to explain.

“Scott, the kiss, the upcoming fourth date…” Willow trailed off with a dreamy sigh.

“Oh. Scott. Yes.” Buffy managed to say praying that they took her blushing to be about being caught daydreaming about her new boyfriend and not about her fear of being found for keeping such a huge secret. “I like Scott,” she said.

“Well, as entertaining as Buffy’s love life is…not,” Cordelia said, gaining Buffy’s attention. “A question was posed Buffy, are you sure you don’t want a ride to the school. I’m going that way.”

Buffy met Cordelia’s gaze and pondered the offer. Now that Angel was on her mind, she was wondering how she was going to manage to stop by and see him. Giles wanted her train, her mother wanted her home for dinner and that left little time for her to try to do her homework and patrol. Maybe she could go by the mansion before heading home for dinner? And if she took Cordelia up on the ride she’d get to the library faster. Maybe she could – should – talk to Giles about Angel?

“Limited time offer, Buffy,” Cordelia said punctuating her sentence by opening her car door.

“No thanks, Cordy. I really do want to walk in the sun,” Buffy heard herself say. She wasn’t ready to tell Giles, less time with Giles meant less time to feel guilty about keeping secrets.

“Suit yourself. Actually you could use some sun, your midnight hours are showing. I mean you have no color.”

Buffy looked at her arms worried that Cordelia wasn’t just trying to get on her nerves and instantly defended herself. “I have color.”

Cordelia made a noise with her tongue meant for Buffy but then dropped the subject by turning toward Xander. “We are not going to say goodbye like two dorks. Understand?”

Xander agreed with a nod, and soon he and Cordelia were kissing. Buffy felt like a deer trapped in headlights, it was just so gross watching Xander swap saliva with Cordelia. Finally she made herself turn away and shared an eye roll with Willow. She really didn’t understand Xander’s relationship – which was a term she used loosely – with Cordelia. They never got along and yet their were always pawing each other. Their relationship had none of the ease or common ground that Willow had found with Oz.

Yet there was the fact that Cordelia actually put up with a certain amount of persecution from her friends by dating Xander. Basically, Buffy realized she’d just never figure out Cordelia Chase.

Suddenly, Buffy’s mind caught up to what was going on in the parking lot of the diner where they’d all just had a group lunch date. Why were Cordelia and Xander kissing goodbye?

“You two aren’t going to go hang out at Cordelia’s?”

“I have loads of homework and cheerleading routines to practice, I need to have everything down to show the squad at the morning practice before school,” Cordelia explained.

“And Oz’s going to drop me off, since I live closer to Will’s than Cordelia.”

“Dingoes are practicing at Devon’s today,” Oz said.

Willow sighed. “So, no more Oz time for me today.”

Buffy felt deflated and she sighed. “How is a slayer supposed to live a vicariously normal life of fun and dating if you guys don’t… have fun. I was feeling so much better about my busy-ness thinking all of you would have a good old fashioned lazy Sunday with the smoochies and stuff.”

Willow, Oz and Xander gave her a sympathetic look but Cordelia broke the moment. “Well, meeting for lunch for a big group date was…well, let’s never do it again.”

She got into her car and shot Buffy one last look. “Last shot for a ride, Buffy?”

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Suit yourself.” Cordelia started her car and barreled out of the parking lot.

“And yet again living in the same neighborhood as Willow saves my life,” Xander said as the four of them gaped at the empty air left in Cordelia’s wake.

She shook her head at Xander and waved goodbye to Willow and Oz. And the sun shined down on her as she walked toward the high school but her thoughts grew darker and more confused with each step.

All she had wanted was to go on with her life. To have as much normalcy as she could muster up for herself in the craziness that was her life as The Slayer. She’d found her way back home, she was dealing with her mother’s worry and ignorance about her calling, she’d gotten things back on track with Willow and Xander. She even liked talking with Cordelia about fashion when they got stuck at a table together at lunch or The Bronze and she’d met a really nice guy with a nice smile.

She’d taken the steps to move on past Angel and all the love, pain and fear that had come with their relationship. Yet he’d come back, he’d returned from a hell dimension and their was no evidence to show how or why and as well as she was pretending nothing had happened she knew it had.

And she knew should tell Giles about it. About his state of mind, and it’s slow improvement and about how she’d found him. And ask him what to do, Giles would have answers about what to do about Angel’s return. And that was what frightened her. She wasn’t ready to hear Giles’ concerns or questions about Angel’s return to Sunnydale.

It was still so new, it was still a shock to her system and she wanted to know more. She wanted to hear Angel say more than just her name, she wanted him to look at her the way he used too. A part of her wanted things to go back to the way they had been before her birthday, before everything went so wrong and she knew it was stupid and wrong.

But it didn’t stop the ache in her chest, and the pain made her angry. Furious really and another part of her wished that it had never happened, whatever it was…and then she hated herself.

Because how could she wish Angel away?

Part 2

Posted December 13, 2015 by califi in TBC