Title: New Beginnings
Category: Angst, hope
Summary: Rework of “Dead End” scene. When is a sandwich not a meal”
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: Third in a series of scenes reworked to better serve my desires.
Embracing his dark side had led Angel to a different path. His epiphany, he’d been told, held promise of a new beginning.
“I don’t know how to get back.”
“Well, that”s just the thing. You don’t. You go on to the new place. Whatever that is.”
With renewed purpose, Angel set out to win back the friends he had mistakenly deemed unimportant in his personal battle. However, the young woman stubbornly gripping a sign that read dead end seemed disinterested in traveling any path that included him.
Angel had known from the moment of his epiphany that mending bridges with Cordelia would be the hardest. It was simple. They had lost the most. And now they each mourned the death of their friendship, in their own way, separately.
Being ever resourceful, Angel had a plan. A friendly and harmless scheme of manipulation to guide them back to a shared journey.
“Thanks. Keep the change.”
Rolling his eyes at the measly tip, the deliveryman shoved the two twenties into his pocket and spun around toward the exit. “Wow, a whole dollar just for me. I”m the luckiest deliveryman ever.” His loud scoff interrupting her thoughts, Cordelia glanced up just before the door slammed shut cutting off the spew of muttered expletives.
Phase one complete, Angel needed to encourage his reluctant friend to participate in a little one on one interaction.
“You know people don’t appreciate the value of a buck these days.” Angel hesitantly proposed as he set the box on the counter. “Now back in the day-“
“What”s all this?”
For once Cordelia’s inquisitive nature worked to his advantage, and Angel let out a small sigh of relief over her inability to wait for an explanation. “Lunch. I was hungry.” He offered with a casual tone, placing each sandwich on the counter in a neat row.
Curiosity getting the best of her despite the constant voice warning that civility came easier with distance, Cordelia moved closer to inspect Angel’s unusual choice of nourishment. “I don’t get it. You don’t eat food.” But then, the voice of reason that had become her guardian sounded inside her head again. I don’t get anything about you anymore.
“Oh, I can eat. It doesn’t keep me alive, but you know, sometimes I get a hankering.”
“You had a hankering for turkey, ham and roast beef sandwiches?” Her tone heavy with suspicion, Cordelia eyed the product of Angel’s odd behavior. The question teetering on the tip of her tongue dropped off. Why bother? she reasoned, when getting a simple and honest answer from Angel was unlikely.
“You missed the vegetarian.” Ignoring Cordelia’s skeptical frown, Angel pointed eagerly at the last sandwich. Unsure of her preference, he had ordered every possible choice. And having put a lot of thought into his symbolic peace offering, Angel rationalized he should at least draw attention to his effort. “You know what they say; fresh vegetables help you stay healthy.”
“If you have a working metabolism maybe.” Cordelia didn’t need a seventh sense to know her barb had sliced deeper than intended. Angel’s eyes darting toward the floor and his hands shoving into his pockets were evidence enough. She hadn’t meant to insult his lack of living tissue, but an apology was out the question simply because it would lead to conversation. With her and Angel unexpectedly alone, Cordelia needed to avoid as much personal interaction as possible. Her theory was simple. No talking prevented further insults from slipping out. So the best course of action was both sides returning to their private corners as quickly and painlessly as possible. And maybe one day she would learn to heed her own advice. “What”s going on Angel?”
“I forgot what you liked.” Angel admitted, his eyes remaining on the spot of dirt clinging to the toe of his boot.
“What I like” Actually you have to know before you can forget.” There it was again without warning, or permission. Giving new meaning to a woman scorned, the hurtful snippets rose up in challenge whenever her protective barrier was compromised.
“I thought you might be hungry, but I for-“
“But why all this” Why not just ask?”
“Cause you said, stop asking if we can get you anything”and I didn’t want to…”
His hands still shoved in his pockets, Angel held her gaze this time. Whether he was daring her to challenge him again or asking her not to, Cordelia wasn’t quite sure. She was sure however, that the man standing on the other side of the counter wasn’t the sociopathic vampire that had run around LA for months prepared to battle anyone or anything that got in his way. “So you did this,” her hand swept over the array of food, “instead.”
“Uh… yea. Whatcha think?”
“I think asking a simple question would have cost less.” Temporarily dismissing Angel’s possible motives, Cordelia gave the smorgasbord a closer look. She was hungry and the food was already paid for, and her new life of poverty had taught her to bargain shop. Take it and he’ll expect something in return. They all do eventually. The inner voice had returned. Actually, it had never left, only stepped back to assess and plan its next offensive maneuver.
Cordelia turned her reflection inward, and giving her voice of reason a heated glare, took back control”if only for the moment. “I’ll take this one.” She snatched up the turkey sandwich, only managing a fleeting glance in Angel’s direction. “You should call the guys. Let them know that lunch is on you today.”
“Uh yea, I can do that.” Seemingly, only half his plan had worked. Since Angel had planned lunch for two, it appeared only a mere fraction of his goal had been accomplished. Cordelia would share lunch with her friends, and for now he would remain on the outside looking in.
The quick trek back to her personal space almost complete, Cordelia paused, hesitantly glancing over shoulder. Angel’s disappointment was obvious. Only she didn’t fully understand the reason behind it. Perhaps this was her dawning moment of clarity. They weren’t friends anymore, but they weren’t enemies either.
Angel watched as Cordelia slowly accepted his peace offering. Any fleeting guilt over his deception had dissipated as quickly as it had formed. Imposing his wants on Cordelia would in the end, appease his needs and the needs of his disheartened friend.
“Man, you just get darker and darker. And the weird thing is; your aura… Beige.” The thought almost brought a smile to the surface. Lorne didn’t understand. None of them did yet, but they would in time.
Cordelia understanding who and what he was, understanding their need for one another, and that their friendship would endure the test of mistakes and time was a mission Angel didn’t intend to fail.
The Powers understood. Otherwise he would no longer be their chosen champion. He was vampire. He was a man born into a simpler time. And sometimes the end does justify the means.