Title: Per Me Si Va (Through Me One Goes).
Rating: R for language
Category: Angst, Dark, AU
Content: C/A, but not happy
Summary: Cordy comes out of the coma after Jasmine is killed and there is no W&H deal. She’s not snapping back like we’d hope and Angel does something about Connor that throws them in a tailspin. Warning: This is not a happy fic. I was very, very intrigued by the Halloween Ficathon prompt given by Samsmom that no one took. It made a great vehicle for me to try my muscles at writing a realistic (I think) Dark!Cordy. I hope you agree that Cordy’s character might have gone this way if “some people” had wanted to explore the repercussions of S4.
Disclaimer: Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just Fic, AO, NRP, GTCA ,and wherever Gwen would like since she owns it.
Thanks/Dedication: To Samsmom for the challenge and for encouraging me even after she saw the first part. I will post her wonderful challenge at the end.
Part 1 – “Shiny Happy People”
Cordy blinks quickly. The smell of singed hair, dark and oily, stings her nostrils.
“Enough.” Stepping between Gunn’s taser and Connor’s purpling forearm, she digs her nails into her own and sighs.
“I know you’re strong.” The boy who could have been her son stares through her, the muscles of his jaws rippling under his skin.
Before he can refuse again, she cups his chin jerking his face up, forcing him to read the truth in her eyes. “But we’re stronger.”
It is the eleventh hour since Connor walked through the doors alone, a Plymouth covered in dust at the curb.
The thought that some of that gray mist might be the only part of Angel left in this world snaps her jaw and fingers tighter.
“Know that, Connor. If you never believe anything else, believe that.” She sees a flicker of resignation, maybe respect, in his steel eyes before he spits.
She doesn’t flinch as his cold resistance slides down her cheek. She doesn’t wipe it off, isn’t shocked or appalled.
She accepts it like a penitent sinner accepts a cast stone.
He needs this moment of retribution on the face that deceived him. She understands and loves the baby he once was enough to allow him a tiny victory.
But she can’t control the hot scrape of her own rage. Her fingertips remember the feel of his face, too smooth – not nearly man enough, not the man she wanted. She hears her own screams as his body covers hers.
The bile rises at the back of her throat like the shores of the Styx and she doesn’t resist it.
She spits and watches his eyes shut and mouth clench. She focuses on the air being sucked into his lungs through his nose and held as if letting it go would mean surrender.
God, she hates that she can still smell talc and formula when she’s near him.
Pushing his face away, she backs off furiously running her fingers through her hair, tugging at the blonde roots hoping it will all come off in her hands so that she can start over.
“Go. Get some rest. We’ll keep at him.” Fred pulls at Cordy’s wrists and she jerks them from her grip.
“I’ve slept too much. I’m supposed to keep my eyes open. I’m the seer.”
She chokes back the laugh. A seer is something she hasn’t been in maybe a year. She can’t remember the last real vision she had. It was before her birthday, before she believed the lie that she was something special.
If only she’d stayed suspended between worlds and remained true to herself. Followed her natural avarice for riches and fame instead of pretending she was something else – someone more…
Then Angel would be there with an infant son who’d never touched hell and Gunn, Fred and Wesley would be by his side.
And she wouldn’t be this shell – gutted, boneless – dry on the inside. The last months’ events leaving nothing but an itch for death that she is too cowardly to scratch.
“You couldn’t have known.” Fred says it but her tone isn’t sure.
“Yeah, right. We don’t even know if I’m…if I’ve still got -“
“Let’s talk.” Cordy doesn’t sense Wes before he’s behind her even though his sackcloth is almost as black and heavy as hers. He smells of dark woods and deep pools, and part of her wants to sink into him and disappear.
The thought doesn’t bother her like it should which makes her even more sure she’s fucked up.
Fred nods at her but averts her eyes from Wesley’s before she goes back to the office where Gunn is showing Connor the pointy end of everything in the room.
Wes watches Fred leave unable to hide his disappointment.
“You two need to get over your crap quick. We’ve got more important things to deal with.”
His eyes stare into Fred’s wake. “Our crap is fine, thank you.” He turns. “How’s yours?”
She thinks he’s better at denial since the whole throat slicing incident. He’s definitely less funny.
“We could stand here and out bitch each other until you grow enough facial hair to play both Tubbs and Crocket, or you could just tell me what you have.”
“Right. Back to normal it is then.”
Normal? He’s right. This is normal now.
She knows he misses the old Cordy. They all do. And, there’s a small part of her brain that feels guilty for not snapping back like she did the last few times she was stripped of all control and raped.
This is different. This has changed her at a cellular level, her blood running thick and cold in stiff veins.
They think it’s Jasmine and the embarrassment of what happened with Connor that keeps her at a distance. That she doesn’t hug them or laugh with them because she still remembers being touched, defiled without her consent.
What they don’t realize is that Jasmine is nothing – means nothing to her. She doesn’t hate evil for being evil. Jasmine and even Skip only did what was natural for them.
No. They don’t know that what keeps her up most nights are thoughts of them. That the nightmares that wake her with shivers and sweat when she does manage to sleep are images of their betrayal and the bone wracking loneliness.
She has lost her family, and she can’t tell them that they sliced and bled her more effectively than a renegade all powerful being ever could. Cordelia had faith in them – a brighter, truer faith than she had in the PTBs, in the mission, and even Angel’s redemption.
They were her religion and her God left her behind to die.
Angel – her body shakes just thinking his name – was the ultimate treachery. He betrayed her with a kiss. Slit her wrist so her blood could redeem the world and then walked away as she howled in agony.
Cordy knows she still loves Angel more than life. But she also knows that love is what finally destroyed her.
But she will not abandon him. She will not leave him to fight alone whatever power is keeping him from his home.
She will never leave him alone with only his own screams for company like he left her.
The strange feel of Wesley’s hand skimming her elbow makes her jump. He drops his hand quickly and nods toward the garden door.
“We may have stumbled into some luck.” Wes leads the way, the sounds of zapping electricity and Connor’s curses fading as the doors close behind them.
“Stumbling into it would be the only way we’d have any. Did your contacts know anything?” Cordy slumps onto the cold stone ledge of the useless fountain, water lines cut by the roots of now dead vines.
Pacing a few feet from her, she has to squint to make out Wesley’s form. He reminds her of a brooding vampire she knew years ago – almost blending into the decomposing backdrop. “No. Angel, it seems, has vanished and most of the people I know aren’t in any hurry to find him or help anyone else do so.”
“Imagine that. Ungrateful demons.”
“However, in examining the car, I found a small bit of vegetation wedged in the undercarriage.” She hears the slightest hint of excitement in his voice and she wishes she could share it.
“Vegetation? Like a radish?” She tries for snark, but it feels false.
“Like an endangered species of carex latebracteata.”
“Wesley,” she conveys her impatience with one word.
He sits next to her. She shifts her knees to the left before his get too near.
“It’s called Waterfall’s Sedge. The lucky part for us is that it’s only found in a small portion of southeast Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountains.”
“That’s great, Wes,” she can hear the mocking tone in her voice and knows he can. This is where the old Cordy would have patted his hand and smiled but she doesn’t even have to stop herself. It’s just not in her anymore.
“That narrows it down from, say, the universe to this planet. What the hell were they doing in the middle of the country? Going to a craft’s fair?”
“That, I’m afraid, we’ll have to get from Connor.”
“And he’s been so cooperative so far.” Her palm wipes the sticky perspiration off the back of her neck as she arches her exhausted spine.
“There’s still Dinza, the demi-goddess of the lost.”
“And we’re still short one dead guy who can actually talk to her and no,” she slaps her thighs and stands, “I’m not pulling Spike into this.”
She looks up for the answer – a habit she needs to break.
Her eyes are met with the pitch of a cloudless, starless sky. The moon hides behind mountains and the silence suggests that even the insects know to keep away from this small patch of LA. Cordy finds comfort in the lifeless night. Better that than shooting stars and hope.
She sighs and turns back to Wesley. She doesn’t trust him – any of them – with her life. Not anymore. But she thinks they’ll at least try to save Angel and that’s her mission now.
“Well, it looks like we’re going to have to use a little of that magic we’re so famous for. I just wish we were good at it.”
The sky is pinking behind the scalloped edge of the mountains as they near Albuquerque. Driving for almost twelve hours, the New Mexico sunrise greets them unaware of their complete disinterest in its natural beauty.
Cordy’s head lolls against the passenger door, her body numb but her mind whirring with synapses crackling like burning tumbleweed. She can’t stop thinking about Connor’s words, about what they might be facing. She feels like she’ll never sleep again.
More than half a day before, Wesley’s mojo, a tiny truth spell, not surprisingly, fails almost completely. He does, however, find out why Connor cannot tell them what they need to know.
His memory is blocked not by trauma but by supernatural forces.
Finding that out, Cordy doesn’t feel so much as imagine, like a sense of deja vu, the urge to comfort Connor and tell them all to back off and leave him alone. But it passes and she tightens the ropes securing him to the chair.
It takes another few hours for a new spell to be written, runes interpreted, and salt poured before a fissure in that wall is created and they get a clue as to where Angel might be.
“Are we stopping for breakfast?” Fred’s voice is raspy and soft beneath the blanket in the back seat.
“Per mi si va.” The words are whiskey dark and old. Not Connor’s.
Cordy pulls the jeans jacket tighter around her to ward off the chill of the memory. Connor’s eyes sparking red, his lips twisting into a snarl.
“Yeah, man. We’re all starving.” Gunn doesn’t ask.
Cordy can feel Wesley’s head turn toward her, waiting for her response as if she is in charge.
She doesn’t understand why they can’t see who she is now. Why they haven’t tied her to a chair and passed thousands of volts of electricity through her until she bursts into flames. But, then, she isn’t surprised either. They missed the change the first time around, too.
Her silence is taken as assent. “We’ll stop long enough for the restroom and some take out,” Wesley tells them.
“We shouldn’t stop.” Connor’s first words since they left jolt Cordy from the edge. His voice is weak but determined.
“Leo e Lucia. Un’anima per un altro.” The words are barely distinguishable behind the sound coming from his throat like claws on a blackboard. Then the mocking, pompous laugh…
Cordy twists around in the seat to face him. His eyes immediately find hers in the shadows.
“Why?” She knows the answer but the others need to hear.
“There’s no hope.” He speaks like a robot – mechanical, cold.
“What does that mean, Connor?” His odd tone stirs Fred fully awake. “There’s no hope in finding him or –”
“It means we don’t stop.” Cordelia exchanges an imperceptible nod with him before turning and facing forward. Her gaze is straight ahead, into the rising sun, the gold rays exposing her paling skin.
Wesley glances at her stony profile before focusing on the highway again.
“We’ll grab something when we get gas.” He feels the scar on his throat before he presses the accelerator to the floor.