Title: Searching for Yesterday A Darkness Within ‘short.
Content: A/C/W/G friendship
Summary: Angel POV. Rework of opening scene from ‘Dead End’. The gang is moving back into the hotel and no one is happy.
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: My little contribution to the ‘beige shorts’. This one explores the groups reentry into working together again from a less humorous approach than presented on he show. Remnants of ‘beige’ still evident but carefully hidden behind a glum face.
They’re moving back into the hotel tonight. Well the office is being set up in the hotel again, and I’m not holding my breath for that welcome back celebration. Watching from my solitude of the second floor, I see their uncomfortable glances, hear their disgruntled whispers. Those people wiping away months of dust and lugging books back to empty shelves; the ones that used to be my friends, they don’t want to be here.
You go help him. I have more important things to do. Every muscle tightens against the memory. It was the beginning of the end. Only I couldn’t see it. I was blinded by what I had decided was important. You’re all fired. Giving in, my spine buckles under the burden of that cold clarity. What does it matter now; no one looks to me for strength. They know it isn’t there. Cordelia doesn’t need me to be strong and brave for her. She’s stronger than I’ll ever be, and now we both know it.
Hoisting more burdensome hindsight onto my back, I make my way down the stairs. What I’ll do when I reach the bottom hasn’t been decided yet, but acting without thinking and regretting later is a trademark I’ve taken great pains in perfecting.
“Evening Angel.” “Dude.” Wes and Gunn acknowledge my presence with prepared complacency, and then… nothing. Her small box clutched protectively in her hands, Cordelia walks past me as she would any stranger; instinctively cautious of anyone she doesn’t trust.
“Let me get that for you.” Reaching for the coveted box, my empty effort earns a short, “thanks but I don’t need your help.”
“We don’t need you. You walked away. Do us a favor and just stay away.[/i] Cordelia takes round one with the grace of a noble contender; but then, no one expected it to play out differently. Brute force won’t work for me here. It didn’t work the one time I tried it with Cordelia. Don’t make me move you.Prepared to stand against me and damn the consequences, it was Wes who had risen with the voice of wisdom. Just give him the damn thing and let him get the hell out.
I drop my hands, and unable to hold the barren expressions staring back at me, turn away; but it doesn’t end there. Letting it go would be the right decision, and everyone’s in agreement that I don’t make good decisions.
“I just wanted to know how you are. We really haven’t had a chance-“
“How I am?” Cordelia cuts me off before I can finish, and no one is surprised my second attempt is shot down as quickly as the first. “I/m tired and sweaty, and I want to go home. And you straining yourself with small talk that doesn’t mean anything only keeps me from finishing up.” Her friends watch in silence, protectors deliberately positioned in case the vampire goes dark again.
“I was only trying-” You would think I find some kind of sick pleasure in being punished for my wrongs. I must, because here I am making sure the punishment doesn’t end.
“I know what you were trying.” Cordelia throws her hand up, effectively cutting me off at the knees again; and this time I feel the darkness stir from that place inside of me. “Try this instead; we’re here because you said you wanted to help with the mission again. Occasional vamp muscle is better than no vamp muscle; but just so we’re clear, you and I are not friends. We probably never were.”
It doesn’t matter that I’m to blame or that Cordelia has a right to be bitter. Cordelia has just crossed that imaginary line. The one she created while my constant warnings of repercussions fell on deaf ears. I was her friend first, being a vampire never even ran a far second.
Certain I won’t risk another attempt, Wesley returns to categorizing the books as Gunn reaches for the last few stacked on Cordelia’s desk. “Not that one, I’m still reading it.” Cordelia whispers, grasping ‘The Watchers Guide, volume 10, Angelus’ before Gunn can take it away and drops it into her private box.
I don’t even know what you are anymore. I’m a vampire. Look it up. Anger swells and I want to retaliate. A part of me wants to hurt her, but I won’t. Because a connection stemmed from fear and anger is better than no connection.
I do walk away this time. Not because I’m unwilling to risk another attempt. After all, what do I really have to lose? No, I walk away because the soul can’t take anymore rejection and the demon is ready to demand his due; and the tattered remnants of the man is begging me to end our misery.
I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. That some day I might become human. That light was so bright, I thought I was already out.
It’s gonna be a long while until you work your way out, but I know you well enough to know you will. And I’ll be with you until you do.
Cordelia had offered me her friendship with unconditional love. She would trust me not to fail and I would trust her enough to believe it possible.
It’s still in me, Cordelia.
But it’s not the only thing that’s in you. Angel, people really do change.
Yes they do. And sometimes they change back. If the day ever comes that I?
Oh, I’ll kill you dead.
What are friends for?
If that day we all fear had become a possibility, Cordelia would have kept her promise. Others have made the same promise over the years, but Cordelia is the only one that loved me enough to see it through. Atonement isn’t the cross I bear. Earning back my friend’s trust comes before any hope of redemption. As I return to my solitude on the second floor, I wonder if Cordelia realizes she holds the most powerful weapon against me. Her.