Title: Starting Over (Again)
Category: Time Travel, Angst, Adventure, Romance
Content: C/A, small bit of B/A and C/X friendship
Summary: Cordelia gets a chance to live some of her life over again in an effort to defeat Jasmine.
Spoilers: Geez, where do I start? Just about everything BTVS and ATS through S4 finale; story follows canon most of the time, but I tweak it for my own nefarious purposes.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: AA/Just Fic, Califi’s Website; anywhere else, just ask! I love to share.
Notes: My first serial fanfic was a story called “Starting Over.” I recently reread it and decided it blew major chunks, so I’ve totally overhauled it. The basic story is kind of there, but its much more involved, less cheesy or melodramatic, and much, much better written. If you read the first version, you’ll hardly recognize this one. I hope.
Feedback: Pretty please! And I have specific requests: Should I continue? If you read the first version, is this one any better, or should I just pack it up and write something new?
The steady rain pounded against the Hyperion’s courtyard windows, coming in sideways up under the overhang and running off the glass in sheets. The storm was violent, tempestuous; a physical manifestation of the volatile emotions swirling around in Cordelia’s heart and mind. She stared sightlessly through the rain-blurred glass at the dim light of the world outside, the pain in her heart so great that she was unable to do anything except simply exist in the small space her body occupied. She breathed. Her heart beat. She blinked, and swallowed, and moved her muscles, but she was on autopilot, despair a shadow that crept into her mind.
This was her anniversary. One year to the day that she left to meet Angel at the bluffs to tell him she was in love with him. One year to the day that her life went to hell in a hand basket. One year to the day that she’d allowed herself to live up to the airhead reputation she’d fought so hard against. Her life, since then, was a sea of “if only’s”; if only she hadn’t listened to Skip; if only she’d told Angel over the phone instead of waiting until she saw him.
if only. if only. if only.
It was her mantra now. Her motto. A funeral dirge that played on a looped tape forever. Whether it was her fault or not, that fateful day one year ago had set her on a course for total annihilation, and she’d walked into it smiling and unaware. For that mistake she would never forgive herself, and she would pay for it the rest of her existence.
The worst part, as if all of it weren’t horrible enough, was that she remembered every second of her wicked existence. She was there, her soul trapped and controlled by a being much stronger and darker than she’d ever imagined. She’d watched in horror as Jasmine used her body in so many devious ways, so many different forms of torture for her loved ones.
Initially, she’d fought against Jasmine’s influence, trying to find some way to contact Angel or Wesley and let them know what Jasmine had planned, but she wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t until Jasmine seduced Connor that Cordelia began to crack, to crumble beneath the heavy load of guilt. She may not have welcomed that innocent boy into her bed, but she felt every touch, every kiss, every caress, and those traitorous actions sentenced her to a burden of remorse that she’d never thought possible. It was in that moment that Cordelia Chase gave up the fight, her psyche huddling in a small corner of her mind, sobbing as she let Jasmine win. And when the coma came, she welcomed the oblivion.
When she awoke, it was to an antiseptic facility that was run by Wolfram & Hart, and she felt as though she’d stepped into an alternate reality. Angel was running the company that had sought to kill him, no one remembered Connor, and the rest of her little family had splintered off into oblivion. Nothing was right in the world anymore, and all she wanted to do was curl up and die.
But she trudged on. Life became a series of automatic actions. Wake up. Eat. Go to work. Go home. Sleep. Occasionally, she’d get visions. Anything else seemed superfluous. She didn’t talk to Angel except when necessary. Conversations with Wesley were short and stilted. Communication with Lorne, Gunn, and Fred was nonexistent. Life was a series of meaningless events that stretched on and on into eternity.
What she wished for more than anything else was a second chance. An opportunity to fix her mistakes and do it the right way. Tell Angel she loved him before he hated her. Save Connor before he hated his father. Defeat Jasmine before she destroyed their semi-peaceful existence.
But second chances weren’t for girls like her. Second chances were for public service announcements and after school specials. Second chances were only for people who didn’t need them in the first place. And Cordelia Chase had long since outgrown her optimism. She’d come to realize that when life gives you lemons, you suck it up and eat them anyway, no matter how bad they taste. Life rarely gives you the rest of the ingredients in the lemonade recipe, anyway.
As she stood here in the lobby of the abandoned hotel that was once her home and stared at the storm raging outside, she weighed her options.
One: Stay in L.A. and hope that someday, Angel would love her again.
Two: run away and start over some place new.
Three: give up and die.
One would never happen. Three required courage and strength she no longer possessed.
Two was her only remaining option.
Unless, of course, a second chance just happened to be sent her way after all.
“She has shown herself to be worthy, brother.”
“Indeed she has. But has her spirit been damaged too greatly? Our chosen one needs a strength of character and patience that this one lacks.”
“She possessed it at one time. Misfortune has hidden it deep within her soul, but she will find it once she is given hope.”
“But is it worth the risk?”
“The evil being was cunning, destroying the balance we strive to maintain. We must compensate for our mistake, and she is our hope.”
“Folding the fabric of time is not to be taken lightly, sister.”
“Indeed, brother. But it must be thus. It is the only way to restore the balance. She is essential to the victory of our Champion. We cannot let her continue on this destructive path.”
“Then it shall be so.”
“So it shall. The past will be restored to the proper balance. As we decree, so shall it be.”