When Good Spells Go Bad. 10-11

Part 10

The morning sun caught the lens of Wesley’s glasses, breaking Cordelia from her trance like state of deep thought. She had been right to ask him to take her home, getting away from Angel had helped her think more clearly about what had happened at the mansion. Now, even though her mind still swarmed with questions about the who, why, and what the hell, she could make at least some sense of waking up in such a predicament.

The look in Angel’s eyes, the bizarre vow he had made, the answer was simple, Angel’s crazy. She had remembered Buffy talking about his mental state after his little trip to the fire pit. She also remembered hearing Giles say something around Christmas about Angel seeing dead people. Still, when she woke up and saw his face, there was an instant of relief, a feeling that she was and would be safe as long as he was there watching over her.

Reaching for her key, Cordelia turned to Wesley. She looked up at him with a slight smile, feeling a small amount of guilt for almost forgetting that he was there beside her as she lost herself in thought. Out of the hundreds of questions troubling her, one suddenly came front-and-center, begging to be answered. “Wesley, why did you leave me with Angel?”

Wesley was somewhat caught off guard. How much should he say about what had happened and why? He knew one thing – he wouldn’t lie. He might avoid telling her everything, but he wouldn’t lie.

“Wesley?” she prompted

“Well, Angel felt a sense of responsibility for your injury.” Truth. “He … offered to take you to the safety of his mansion for protection.” Also true. “It seemed like a good idea … at the time,” he added.

“And none of you thought that taking me to the emergency room might be a better idea than, oh, I don’t know, leaving me with Buffy’s unstable demonic lover … not that I’m complaining or anything.”

“You must remember that this is Angel’s past. He knew all about the arrow and the poison that it injected into your blood.”

That feeling crept over her again – the one of being safe and protected – at the thought of Angel knowing how to fix things, how to keep her safe. “So he knew just what to do to cure me,” she stated, almost too brightly for even her ears.

“Oh no. He knew nothing about curing you,” Wesley knew what jealousy felt like and he didn’t like it. He tried to chase it away before finishing his answer. He failed. “Angel was simply keeping you safe while Mr. Giles and I researched the poison and possible cures. When I found the remedy in one of the …”

“So you’re responsible for my quick and speedy, but not too energetic, recovery.” Of course it wasn’t Angel, psycho killer, remember.

Now Wesley weighed this last statement very carefully. He had told himself that under no circumstances would he blatantly lie to her. So, he couldn’t tell her that he himself had performed the ritual to cure her – that would be a lie. But, she didn’t say ‘cured me’. She said ‘responsible for recovery’. He had been the one to translate the passage from the old dusty tome.

Without his skills in research or his ability to translate old dead languages, Angel may have never known what to do. He ignored his conscience and answered the question as truthfully as his heart would let him. “Well, I only did what could be expected,” he answered in an affirmative tone, implying that her statement was correct.

Well, that had answered the most important question. No matter what her delirium fooled her into thinking or feeling about Angel, the truth was in front of her in the form of Wesley Wyndam Price. He had been her rescuer. She should have known that he probably had been the only one who really cared that her life was in jeopardy. She also should have known that, without the guilt of knowing that it should have been him,

Angel would have never offered to take care of her while Wesley found a cure. She looked up at her ‘shining knight’ now squinting from the rays that broke over the horizon. He wasn’t tall dark and deadly but he was Wesley and he had saved her life. Cordelia leaned slightly toward the nervous man. She ever so slowly wet her lips, preparing to erase one kiss with another.

Wesley knew immediately what she was preparing to do. His forehead broke out into a sweat, leaving his skin cold from the morning breeze. Angel’s threats from the previous night made his eyes dart from side to side as if the vampire would be hiding in the day lit yard, spying on his every move, waiting to make good on his promise. His heart began to race with fear at the thought of Angel and anticipation at the sight of Cordelia as she leaned even closer, eyes half closed. Excitement pushed away fear and he closed his eyes and leaned in a bit too quickly, bumping Cordelia’s nose with his own.

Embarrassed, he decided that a take-charge approach might serve him better, as he took hold of Cordelia’s shoulders and pulled her body into a more advantageous position. Yes that was much better. Wesley’s lips moved, trying to find a seductive rhythm. The kiss deepened – hands reached – bodies swayed, eventually finding support from the front door of Cordelia’s house. It was long, wet, and simply …

Terrible. Cordelia couldn’t believe it. He had been the only one in the group to really care about her, he had saved her life, made sure that she was safely home, and now was giving her what should be the ‘happily ever after’ kiss. She broke away and wiped the droll from her chin.

She looked up at her suitor, savior, and valiant protector and cursed herself for kissing him, for using that kiss to ask the question “Is it him?“. She had been so impatient for a resolution to her problem, for Wesley to make her forget the madness with Angel and to sweep her into his arms that she never thought that the answer to her question could be no. It wasn’t him. She wasn’t in love with Wesley and that made her world a lot more bizarre. She reached behind herself, turned the key in the lock, and quickly opened the door. “I’m just going to go …” she trailed off as she pointed behind herself, unable to think of a proper excuse.

Wesley, stirred from his own thoughts, quickly answered, “Of course, I will just …” he pointed, indicating his car. He turned and began walking away briskly, hearing the door close soundly behind him. He wondered to himself where he had gone wrong. Why had the kiss produced no spark, no magic, no desire.

His analytical mind began to work, dissecting every aspect of the kiss. It could possibly have been fatigue. They had both had a long night. It could also have been the fact that, no matter what show he had put on for Angel, he was still terrified of the vampire and had taken his threat about Cordelia to heart.

That had to be it. Wesley started his car and smiled, convinced that the kiss could have been better and telling himself that he would make sure he had another chance to convince her too.

Cordelia leaned her back against the inside of the closed front door. She thought about Wesley and a smile broke across her face. How embarrassing. Poor Wesley, she had practically thrown herself on him. Well, maybe the kiss hadn’t been such a terrible idea after all. At least now she knew that she was definitely not in love with him. She just hoped that he wouldn’t hold their little ‘front porch fiasco’ against her.

Maybe if she acted like nothing had happened he would too. She did know one thing, he had saved her life; and although that act might not have stirred a great and passionate love inside of her, it did garner him a place on the very short list of her true friends. He had done something wonderful for her and she would never forget it.

Her mind settled about Wesley and his place in her life, Cordelia let the thoughts that her impromptu kiss had been meant to banish come full force in her head. She thought about Angel, about the way she had felt when he had kissed her. Her eyes became unfocused as she stared off for a moment, dark brown eyes full of need and half-crazed love stared back. She felt the crush of his kiss, his strong hands grabbing, pulling her close to him.

Her eyes glazed over, she lost herself in the scene that played in her head until she felt as if she was there again, in Angel’s arms. Except this time, she didn’t break free, didn’t flee like a scared little girl to the opposite end of the room. She imagined herself wrapping her arms around him as her fantasy kiss deepened, becoming passionately savage.

Angel lowered her back down to the bed as fire sparked and frantically raced through her body, finally settling between her … Cordelia shook her head, jarring herself back to reality. She ran to the guest bath just off of the front hallway and splashed cold water on her face. There had to be a reason the poison was still affecting her. She briefly thought about contacting Wesley. She had intended on asking him more questions about the poison and just what ‘the cure’ had been, but their awkward lip-lock had killed her mood for conversation.

Deciding that she couldn’t possibly face Wesley just yet, she grabbed her mom’s keys, hoping that she would find Giles – and a few answers – in the school library.

***

Angel sat quietly on the hotel sofa and stared at the back of Cordelia’s head through the office window as he pretended to polish the massive broadsword. She had been so different since her miraculous recovery early this morning. Gone were the reassuring glances and the brilliant smiles.

They had been replaced with avoiding eyes and one word answers to any and every question he could think to ask her. Everyone had noticed the change and had been discussing it throughout the day in whispered conversations they hoped Cordelia couldn’t hear. Finally, Fred said that enough was enough and they all drew straws to determine which unlucky soul was going to talk to Cordelia. When Wesley drew the short straw, everyone but him seemed to give a sigh of relief.

That had been a half hour ago, just after sunset. Ever since then Angel had been sitting there, pretending to polish the weapon in his hands and trying to eavesdrop on the conversation that would hopefully explain Cordelia’s bad attitude and why it seemed directed mainly toward him.

***

Wesley paced back and forth across the floor of his office. Finally believing he had found the most delicate approach, he stopped in front of his seated friend. “Cordelia,” he noted the familiar raised eyebrow, a warning to approach with caution. He continued in the gentlest voice he could manage, “Ever since you were cured from your mysterious illness earlier this morning, it has seemed that you are … well, angry with Angel.”

Cordelia jumped to her feet and put her hands to her hips, an angry scowl crossing her pretty face. “Sunnydale Angel,” she said in a tone of forced calm.

“Yes, that’s who I’m talking about. You have been …”

“No, say it. Sunnydale Angel,” she ordered.

“What?” Wesley questioned, puzzled by her sudden outburst.

“He,” she began, pointing out of the office window and to the staring vampire. “..is Sunnydale Angel. He is not Angel.”

“Cordelia, I am fully aware…”

“Are you?” her voice rose another level. “..cause you could’ve all fooled me. All day long it’s been ‘Angel this’ and ‘Angel that’.” Cordelia’s voice became shaky and even more distressed. “You’re all acting like nothing happened. Like Angel never left. Like …” she forced herself to stop, fearing what she was about to admit to Wesley and possibly herself.

Sympathetically, Wesley finished for her in almost a whisper as he sat down on the edge of his desk. “Like he’s never coming back.”

Cordelia looked at the plant in the corner of the office, and slowly nodded her head.

“It is a possibility you know. Fred could be right in her theory – that whatever happened to Angel happened in the past. If that is true, we have no way of really knowing if or when he will find a way back.”

“How can you sit there and say that?” she asked, turning her eyes accusingly toward him. “He’s only been gone two days Wesley. He’ll find a way back. He will,” she whispered again, reassuring herself.

“But what if he doesn’t Cordelia, or what if it takes him longer than you are willing to accept. The powers are obviously going to continue to send you visions even in Angel’s absence. They must see him as a valid replacement and, at least for the time being, I believe that we should too. We, all of us, have to think about the mission first. You do remember telling us all that just a few days ago?”

Cordelia was disgusted with Wesley’s ’rational’ thought process. She stood, unable to control her anger, or her voice. “You think that vampire out there can replace Angel? That pathetic excuse for a hero is fresh out of hell, Buffy whipped, and might I remind you due for a very nasty little thing we like to call a ‘beige period’ and you want us to trust him with Angel’s mission? He’s not Angel Wes. HE didn’t watch Doyle die, or help you get back on your feet. HE never saved me or Fred or any of us for that matter. He never made a vow to his friends that he would never turn away from them again and he didn’t stand in the pouring rain in a dirty ally and watch the best thing that ever happened to him come into this world. He’ll never have any of those experiences Wesley and without them he can’t be Angel, not the one I want here.”

Cordelia stormed out of Wesley’s office and into the hotel lobby. She saw the imposter sitting there with Angel’s favorite sword in hand, frozen by her harsh words that he had obviously overheard.

She looked at him straight in the eyes for the first time since this morning. Her stare was cold and angry as she took long quick strides toward him. “Give it to me,” she ordered with an outstretched hand. “The broadsword, give it to me. Angel doesn’t like anyone touching his weapons.”

What she had said in Wesley’s office had hurt him. He had sat by her side all night, watched her suffer until he had been ready to do anything, even offer up his own existence if it had meant that she would be safe. He WAS the Angel she had described or at least he wanted to be, could be if she would let him, but she would never see him that way. She could only think about the version of himself that had given her all of those memories, good and bad.

That Angel was her hero – not him. He had tried to keep a tap on his emotions when he heard her talking to Wesley about how he wasn’t Angel, but now she had said that name again, just like she had said it to Wesley in the office – Angel, not L.A. Angel or Future Angel or Present Angel, just Angel, as if there was the one and only and no other.

It hurt. He hurt. And he wanted her to know how that felt. His anger began to rise, meeting hers head on. “This is my broadsword,” he stood, meeting her angry glare. “I had this long before I came to L.A. or Sunnydale for that matter. Now, if you don’t mind, I was just going to take it downstairs for a little practice session. So, move,” he said through gritted teeth.

Cordelia crossed her arms defiantly, “You’re not taking Angel’s sword anywhere.”

“Move, or I’ll move you,” he warned.

An old familiar feeling settled over Cordelia, immediately turning her rage into resigned hurt. She moved out of Angel’s way and turned to Wesley who was now standing in the lobby just behind her, offering her an apologetic look, full of sympathy.

“Cordelia,” Wesley tried.

“I’m okay Wes,” she answered, her voice defeated and depressed. She glanced back at Angel with eyes now void of hurt and anger, but full of sorrow and fear. “I just, I need to go home.”

Angel’s anger deflated at the sight of her face. He wanted to say something, apologize, make her happy or even mad again. Anything but this. She was beyond angry now or even hurt, this was something much deeper, something old, something he knew nothing about. The words she spoke to Wesley echoed in his mind. She was right, without the memory of his time with her, he could never be the Angel she wanted, the one that would know why that comment had caused her so much pain, and the one who would have been smart enough never to speak to her like that in the first place.

Angel watched helplessly as Cordelia packed up her purse and left for her apartment, evidently unable to stand another moment in his presence.


Part 11

Angel walked stealthily through the abandoned school hallway. His ancient muscles felt, well, ancient and his eyes begged for sleep. The ritual had taken a lot out of him and the long talk he had with Buffy, although filled with much needed closure, had drained what little bit of reserve energy he had left.

He was exhausted and should have spent the day sleeping, building up his strength and energy for the battle with the mayor. He had tried all day, with fruitless results, to get some rest. Still, sleep never came. Instead of getting any rest, he had spent his day pacing the mansion, worrying, okay fantasizing, about the kiss he and Cordelia had share – or more accurately put, the one he had forced upon her.

He had scolded himself over and over as he paced, telling himself it had been wrong to lose himself in the moment, to let his fear for Cordy and the danger the poison might have put her in, rule his senses. The kiss was wrong and extremely inappropriate. He knew that. His conscious kept telling him enough, but somehow, he couldn’t make his body agree.

He had tried to replay the moment in his mind all day, hoping that seeing himself in that moment with her would rouse his ever present sense of guilt. It didn’t. In fact it had worked in just the opposite manner because every time he played the scene in his mind it changed just a little.

The hair became shorter, the body more voluptuous, the eyes a little wiser, until he finally knew that he could never really feel complete guilt over the kiss because in that moment he needed Cordy. He needed her there with him and in a way she was. Yes, that was it. She would believe that explanation when he returned to his time. It was her body after all. He’d felt it’s sleek muscles and soft curves enough times while sparring with her or holding her a little too closely when the visions used to cause pain.

He couldn’t help himself. He was crazed with fear and love after all and had acted out something that had lay dormant in him for so long that he had been unable to control his reaction when he knew that she would live. How could she possibly blame him? He knew the answer the minute he asked himself the question. She could blame him because no matter what his body felt, or how he tried to emotionally rationalize it, he should have never let it happen. It was stupid, irresponsible and wrong. So why did he want to do it again?

He couldn’t be trusted, not around Cordelia. That’s why he had decided just after dark to come to the library in the hopes of finding Giles and good news about the ingredient for the spell to send him home. It had only been two days but he hoped against hope that maybe it had come early. Then, he could get away from this place and all of these conflicting feelings that seemed to be ravaging his mind.

The second he pushed open the doors, he felt disappointment. Giles wasn’t there. The library was as dark as the rest of the school, except for the soft glow of a lamp coming from the office. He focused in on the door and tuned into his senses. He heard the soft beat of Cordelia’s heart and secretly moved closer to the closed door, staying far enough in the shadows of the room that he knew she wouldn’t be able to detect his presence.

Through the glass window he could see her. Books and paper were scattered on the floor and on top of the desk in front of her. She sat in Giles’ chair, her face staring not at the volumes of information in front of her but buried in her hands.

Angel coached himself just as he had yesterday morning when Cordelia began to lead him down to the basement. In his mind he repeated the advice he had failed to follow then. He should turn around, head straight back to the mansion until he was needed for the fight. He had every intention on doing just that until Cordelia raised her head and he saw tears glistening in her eyes.

Good intentions never really worked well for him anyway. He reached down and turned the door knob slowly, trying not to frighten her by his sudden appearance.

“Oh God, Angel you scared me,” she sniffed, trying to hide the fact that she had been crying.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I just … I was looking for Giles.”

“Yeah, me too. I came in this morning but I haven’t seen him all day,” she said, trying to avoid his stare and the fluttering feeling it caused in her belly. She was so tired and for some reason a little embarrassed about her appearance now that Angel was standing in the room.

She looked so tired. “Cordelia, you really should go….”

“Angel, do you believe in true love?” she asked, finally finding the courage to look up into his eyes.

“What?” he shifted, he supposed her bluntness would always catch him off guard.

“True love. You know, the whole soul mates, meant to be together, predestined love. That kind of crap. Do you believe in it?”

Angel took a few steps to the chair on the opposite side of the desk and sat, stalling and considering his answer. Before his mouth formed the word ‘yes’, his eyes caught the familiar hand writing on the legal pad directly in front of Cordelia. He looked at the books strewn around the room and then back to the legal pad. Scribbled at the very bottom, in Wesley’s handwriting, it read: the one chosen to perform such a ritual must be a love, pure and true – a predestined soul mate.

He looked back to Cordelia, the distress evident on her face. She came to get answers from Giles and found them for herself. “What did Wesley tell you this morning?”

“He didn’t tell me the specifics, but he did let me know who was responsible for me being alive.” Cordelia picked up the legal pad and turned it around, giving Angel a better view of the words he had already read. “Do you think this is true?” she asked in desperation. “I mean, it can’t be. Right?” She laid the pad back down on the desk, her eyes glistening again from tears trying to fight their way free.

It couldn’t be true. Wesley was sweet, brilliant, and on occasion brave. He had done a wonderful thing for her and she would forever be grateful, but she didn’t love him – not like that. Her eyes pleaded with Angel to answer her question. He had been there last night. Maybe there was something she was missing, maybe they had found a loop-hole, a way around this particular obstacle in curing her. “It’s not true is it Angel. I wasn’t cured by the person I’m destined to be with. Was I?”

Well, she knew now. He reconsidered good intentions as he thought about how much safer he would feel at the moment if he had just gone back to the mansion like a good vampire. He leaned forward, his voice soft, “Cordelia, sometimes I think that real love can be right in front of your face but still unrecognizable until you’re ready for it, ready to open yourself up to it, accept it for what it is. It hides from us until we’re ready and when we finally find it, it can surprise us, even scare us a little. I know it did me.”

She couldn’t take this. He was actually comparing her dilemma to his tragic love affair with Buffy. She stood up and began to pace behind the desk, her voice rising into a panicked tone. “You don’t understand. I am the worst person on the face of the planet. I’m poisoned by a superhero gone psycho, left for dead, but saved by someone strong, smart, and brave.” Angel’s eyes brightened at the praises she was bestowing upon him. “Someone who loves me enough to declare himself my soul mate,” she stopped pacing and looked at Angel. “Someone I don’t love.”

Angel‘s face froze, the look in his eyes changed. “You don’t know that,” he began to argue, fear creeping over his body. “You don’t know what the future holds. Given time you might…”

“You’re not understanding me here. If true love was involved in this so-called ritual that cured me, it was strictly one sided. I mean, I was attracted, in the beginning, the whole older man kind of thing was kinda sexy, but I know now, especially after this morning, that I am definitely NOT in love. That God awful kiss was proof enough.” Cordelia tried to calm herself by taking a deep breath and forcing herself to sit back down in the chair.

She sighed and absently thought aloud, “Besides, I think I’m already falling for someone else.” Cordelia’s cheeks immediately turned a deep shade of crimson. She hadn’t meant for the last part to be said aloud. It had been a thought that had been circling around her head all day. Every time she thought of waking up to Angel and his possessive, protective embrace. She knew that she was a fool to think of it. After all, every rational bone in her body had explained to her that none of it had been meant for her, but she wanted it, craved it even.

It had been a safe little fantasy as long as it had stayed in her head, but now she had said it aloud and straight to the fantasy himself. She tried to back paddle, hoping he hadn’t really understood what she meant. “Angel I didn’t mean to say that, I just …”

“You said what you felt,” Angel interrupted as he tried to pick up his dignity and the shards of his dead heart from the floor. “There’s no need to apologize.” Wesley had said that Cordelia could never love him, he had always thought that too, in the darker recesses of his mind. Now he knew.

It actually saved him a lot of heartache and pain by knowing the truth now. He would go back to his time, Cordelia would forget this conversation ever took place, and Cordy would never know what a fool he had been prepared to make of himself. It actually made some sense. Cordy and Wes had always been close and for the past few months, ever since Pylea, he had caught Wes and Cordy in whispered conversations that he was always too late to catch. He believed what he had said to her, that love can be there all along, waiting for you to be ready.

He just didn’t realize at the time he was speaking for Wesley and not himself. Seeing Cordelia in pain last night probably gave Wesley the epiphany he needed to realize his love for her and her love for him. Angel knew that had to be it. He knew all about epiphanies and what seeing Cordy in pain could do to a man who was just realizing how much he loved her.

Angel stood and walked to the door, he stopped just before leaving the office but didn’t turn around to look at her, he couldn’t. “Don’t ever apologize for telling me how you feel Cordelia. Even though you know that my feelings for you are not the same as your feelings for me, just know that no matter what, I’ll always be your friend. You can always tell me anything.” No matter how much it hurts, his heart screamed. “Go to Wesley, tell him how you feel. It makes things too hard if you wait. Believe me, I know,” he finished as he left the office, never looking back.

Cordelia stared at the door when it shut. What did she expect? Of course he would never have any feelings for her. He’d already had the great romance of his life. She laid her head down on Giles’ desk, too tired to get up and leave and too weak to even cry. Exhaustion took hold of her and she drifted off into a deep if not peaceful sleep, envious of Buffy Summers, not because she had friends or super powers or a loving father figure, not this time anyway. This time she envied something new, something she would never have – Angel’s love.

***

“I said go away.“ Cordelia yelled to her apartment door.

“Cordelia, please open the door.”

“ … “

“I talked to Fred, she told me about the comment I made. Why it hurt you so much I mean. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I just … I heard all of those things you said about me in Wesley’s office and I just…”

The door flew open, interrupting the rest of the speech he had spent so much time preparing on the drive over. He had had plenty of time to think of just what to say. Following Fred’s directions wasn’t an easy feat and it had taken him three times as long as it should have to arrive. Of course it had also taken him that much time to finally get Cordelia to open her door.

“Why did you do that?” she asked accusingly. “You shouldn’t have brought Fred into this. She doesn’t like confrontation, they make her uncomfortable.”

“I just asked her why that comment would hurt you as much as it obviously did,” he defended, still standing in the hallway outside. “I didn’t confront her.”

“No, but now I’m going to have to,” she explained as if he had some mental impediment. “Crazy, innocent, sweet little Fred is going to be on the receiving end of one of my lectures on staying out of other people’s business. Thanks a lot Mr. Sunnydale.”

“Would you please quit calling me …” Angel tried to enter, but stopped in mid-sentence when the barrier pushed him back.

Cordelia looked at him and crossed her arms, her lips spread into a smirk. “You can’t come in. Can you?” she suddenly realized. “You can’t come in because YOU have never been invited.”

“Invite me in,” he ordered.

“No.”

“Cordelia please, I just want to talk to you.”

“So talk.”

“Without the presence of neighbors,” he emphasized, giving an ugly glance to the elderly woman peeking out of her door down the hall.

“I’m sorry, I don’t invite people I don’t know into my home.”

“Dammit Cordy, would you quit acting like a child and invite me in.”

Cordelia’s smirk was quickly wiped from her face, replaced by an angry scowl. “What the hell did you just call me?”

Angel took a deep, cleansing breath. Making Cordelia mad wasn’t helping. “I’m sorry, you’re not a child.”

“Not that you idiot. The other thing.”

“What? I didn’t … I said…”

“You called me Cordy,” she stared angrily.

“Well, that’s what the rest of the group calls you.”

“Yes, the group. You seem to be under the delusion that you are part of that group. You’re not ya know. You’re not him. You never will be. He’s gone,” her voice weakened. “He’s gone and no one can replace him. Ever.” Cordelia sat down on her sofa, waving away the floating tissues. They were unneeded. She wouldn’t cry.

“You’re right,” Angel began, his tone much more relaxed. “I’m not him. I can’t begin to imagine what all of you have gone through together or how this surrogate family was created. And, even though I’m tempted to say, ‘The hell with it, I’m never going back’, I know that I have to because I’m not him ..and I want to be. I want to have Fred look at me with awe and know why. I want Gunn and Wesley’s respect because I’ve earned it. I want to look at Connor and feel something besides guilt and burden. And I want you … I want ..you.” Angel put his hand against the outside wall, leaning on it as if he needed help standing after that confession. “If I don’t go back I’ll never have any of those things. I’m not him Cordelia, but if I go back, someday I will be.”

Cordelia stared, mouth slightly agape, astonished at his outpouring of emotion. “Come in Angel,” she said when she finally regained her ability to speak.

Angel removed his hand from the outside wall and slowly entered the apartment. Crossing the room, he took the seat beside Cordelia on the sofa. Both stared forward in a moment of silence before Angel spoke. “Do you love him?”

“…”

“Do you?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“…”

“I’ve never told him. I don’t think I even realized it until he was gone. It probably doesn’t even matter now. He’s in Sunnydale. If he did have any burgeoning feelings for me I’m sure they’re long gone by now.”

“Why would you say that?” he asked, astonished at how easily she dismissed his future self.

“I’m sure being back in Sunnydale has made him realize where he really wants to be.”

“Why can’t that be here?”

“Think about it. Who were you mooning over just two days ago?”

“Actually I wasn’t mooning. That night, before I was time-warped, was the night that I knew Buffy and I would never make it. Everything was so screwed up between us. It just wasn’t the same, wasn’t what I wanted.”

“…”

“Has he ever told you?”

“Told me what?”

“That he loves you.”

“No.”

“Dumbass.”

“Excuse me.”

“Angel, he’s a dumbass. He loves you but has never told you.”

“What makes you think he’s in love with me?”

Angel turned and looked at Cordelia. “I know how I feel about you after only two days. All I have to do is think about how I would feel after two years of being in your life, getting to know just what a fascinating woman you really are. I guess I’m the real dumbass for missing you the first time around.”

Cordelia smiled at the complement. “This is weird.”

“Yeah, I never share my feelings, with anyone. Avoidance has always been a kind of standard rule of mine. Yet, in the last two days I have had two very openly emotional discussions with you. How do you do that?”

“I don’t know, it’s a gift. But that’s not what I meant anyway.”

“What did you mean?”

“I meant the whole talking about yourself in the third person. It’s really kind of creepy.”

Angel cracked a small smile and raised his eyebrows, “Well, you’re the one who keeps telling me I’m not him.”

Cordelia gave him the first real smile he had had from her all day. “Dumbass.”

Part 12

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