The only way she could describe it was… Lead. Feeling like she was filled with lead. Her limbs felt heavy, her heart even heavier and her head couldn’t make sense of the fact that she was really considering doing this.
The worst thing? She could still remember the look on his face, in his eyes. Those three words that Connor had whispered were enough to make Angel fall to his knees. The Angel she knew and loved was in another dimension somewhere, grieving for his son.
Grieving for a son that hated him.
In this dimension, Cordelia had the perfect opportunity to take away his pain… And open herself up to a world of her own.
It was easy enough, all she had to do was pick a point in time to change everything, and already, Cordelia knew what that point was.
If she thought about it logically, Buffy and Angel’s relationship had fallen into rack and ruin right about the time Angel had gone psycho and started killing their friends. Well, duh, that was enough to drive anyone to the brink of madness and back again.
There were so many questions that needed answered. Did she still have the visions? Her demon-powers? What would happen to her if she did change the past? Her future would be so uncertain…
In a way, that was a good thing. She’d never known what was in store for her before and she’d survived, hadn’t she? Ok, barely, but she’d survived.
Pulling her jacket closer around her shoulders, Cordelia felt the wind shift behind her, her blood running cold.
“I know it feels strange, but if an attacker comes at you from behind, you wanna be able to shift all your weight immediately to your other foot so you can spin and kick…”
Putting Angel’s advice to good use, Cordelia spun. Her foot lashed out with her assailant, sending him to the ground. “Ok, why the hell are you following m- Angel?!”
She’d never been so pleased – or mortified – to see someone, than she was to see him right now. “Oh my God, I thought you were going to attack me! You’re supposed to make noise when you walk, remember?”
Rubbing his chin, Angel got to his feet. When did Cordelia learn to kick like that? “Buffy tells me that too.”
Buffy. Of course. Because she was back in Sunnydale and she’d never told him that… LA and their entire friendship had never happened.
“Yeah.” Said Cordelia quietly, her gaze flitting down and away from Angel. “Did you want something?”
“You looked… Upset.” Angel replied, curtly. It reminded Cordelia of how far he’d come since his Sunnydale-Brood-A-Lot days. Of course then, he probably wasn’t scared that she was going to leap on him, like she’d done so many times back here, now… “I thought…”
Does he know? Her heart lifted momentarily and Cordelia’s gaze moved upwards, “You thought… What?”
“I thought… Well, you looked upset.”
She can remember a thousand times when Angel’s told her that she can tell him anything, that they’re friends and nothing, no problem, is ever going to be too big or small. It doesn’t apply here; the friendship that Cordelia valued more than anything doesn’t even exist. To anyone but herself, she’s just Cordelia Chase, Queen of Mean – not the actual thing that made her important, not vision-gal, not champion or even half-demon seer. Angel’s friend…
She can’t call herself that any more and it hurts.
“I did something today,” Whispered Cordelia, “And I know that it’s for the best but… It hurts. It feels like I’ve just screwed up everything I thought was real.”
For a moment, Angel just stood there, not speaking, just watching her. It was the first time that he’d seen any real depth of emotion from her, anything past bitchiness or faux-sweetness to get what she wanted. “I-I…” He was just not good with the comforting thing. “I’ve lived a long time, Cordelia. I’ve seen a lot of different things and a lot of different people struggling to make the best of what they’ve got. You’ll be ok.”
Tears welled up in her eyes, making Angel feel instantly guilty. He wasn’t good with the people stuff, he hadn’t been since he was human, and even then, his social skills had been sketchy at best, unless he was downing ale with a friend. “I’m sorry.” He apologised, “I don’t usually…”
“Talk to people,” Finished Cordelia, sadly, “Right, because… Because you’ve got two modes with people. Bite and avoid. And that’s… Hard to shift.” The tears didn’t fall, though she thought they would. Instead, Cordelia gathered up the courage to say the words she’d never said, but had thought she always would get the chance to, “Thank you.”
Heart pounding in her chest, Cordelia walked away. That wasn’t her friend, that was someone else, someone different – someone who had no idea of what he’d have to go through, simply to be the man she knew and loved.
Someone who’d never know the kind of pain that she was feeling right now, because she was going to do what was right, what felt like the right thing, regardless of the consequences…
She’d done what she was supposed to, she’d said goodbye.
Chiffon, black, silk… Laura Ashley, Neiman Marcus… A closet filled with clothes and shoes in different styles and colours from the very best in designers and for the first time in her 20 years of life, Cordelia Chase hated it all. There’d been times back in LA when she’d wished for the comfort of her old home, the simplicity of it all – no visions, no missions, just money, lots and lots of money… And no demon goo.
Right now, Cordelia would have given up 18 years of having money, 18 years of living in the very lap of luxury, just to go back there. Just to take back the visions and the demon goo and the family that she loved and craved right now.
Fred… She was probably stuck in Pylea, right now… Or about to be sucked into it. Gunn, Wesley… God only knew where they were. Here she was, stuck in Sunnydale, watching the man she loved and had had to let go, continuing on with his relationship with a woman he loved and not knowing that in one moment, everything could shatter and break.
Running a hand tiredly through her hair, Cordelia stepped up to the full length mirror, examining herself. She looked so very different, so… Soyoung. “Naive…” She whispered to her reflection. It was true. Back here, the only thing that had ever worried her was whether her dress was going to give her hives or who her date was to Homecoming and whether their cool factor could ever exceed hers.
Bitch. Queen of Mean. Stick-figure-Barbie... Cordelia smiled fondly, thinking of Gunn, of how many times she’d cursed him for saying that – and for how many times in the past hour she’d wished she could hear it again.
“Cordy?” Spinning round, Cordelia’s heart thudded in her chest, even knowing that Angel wasn’t standing there.
“Xander? What are you doing here?”
“Well, call me stupid, but… I was worried. You seem, I dunno, more distracted than usual in our make-out closet sessions which is weird. You’re usually the one chastising me for my mind not being where it should.” He realised he was babbling and shrugged, opening out his arms by way of saying ‘hey, I’m a dumbass, but a worried one – put my mind at ease!’.
“Are you okay, Cordy?”
The pause should have told him everything he needed to know. He didn’t need to wait for the words even she cringed at. Didn’t need to see the look on her face.
“Xander, we need to talk.”
“Listen to what I’m saying.” Buffy drove the vampire backwards, a well-aimed foot to the solar plexus catching it off guard, “The only depth of emotion Cordelia Chase is capable of showing is a temper tantrum when someone does something she doesn’t like or…” The conversation stilted as she and Angel fought side by side.
She’d left the library shortly after Cordelia had, intending on meeting Angel for the night‘s patrol. Truth be told, she’d been acting weird in the library anyway, but Buffy had put it down to yet another ploy to get Angel, another way to steal him right from under her nose.
“It went deeper than that, Buffy.” Said Angel, puzzled, and understandably so, since a tearful Cordelia had just thanked him for something he wasn’t even sure he’d done. Frowning, Angel barely registered the thud as he drove the stake through a vampire’s heart. “It wasn’t a temper tantrum, there was something really wrong.”
“Yeah, only that she can’t sink her claws into at least one guy in the whole of– What?” Noticing the look Angel was giving her, Buffy frowned, “So what am I now, Saint Buffy? Give me one good reason why I should be nice to Cordelia when she’s been nothing but downright bitchy to me and the majority of my so-called ‘loser’ friends.”
Raising an eyebrow, Angel went to say something, then thought better of it. “I just… Thought that maybe she could use a friend.”
Letting out a sigh, Buffy shook her head, maybe Angel was right. Maybe Cordelia did need a friend.
“Ok, all right, I’ll talk to her tomorrow. But if I turn up to patrol tomorrow night with a kitten heel wedged in my forehead, I know who to blame.”
Smiling slightly at Buffy’s choice of words, Angel felt her hand slide into his, warm and soft. He couldn’t put his finger on why Cordelia was so upset and why she seemed to be thanking him for something he hadn’t done. It wasn’t like his people skills had improved dramatically in the last 24 hours, but she seemed to know what he’d been thinking, even before he’d thought it.
“Hello, earth to Angel?”
His attention snapped back to Buffy, the look on her face one of mild annoyance, “Sorry, I was…”
“Not even here?” Buffy sighed, beginning to think that maybe there really was something wrong with Cordelia. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow, promise.”
“Come on, I’ll walk you home.” Said Angel softly, giving her hand a squeeze. “Never know what’s out here at night.”
Buffy smiled, feeling her stomach settle again. “I smell a rat,” She teased, glancing up at him, “Would I be right in thinking that rat wants… Smoochies?”
The corners of Angel’s mouth twitched up in a smile, his eyes lightening with an impish humor that only Buffy could lay claim to seeing.
The slayer beamed, her step light as they made their way back through the cemetery, hand in hand..
“I knew you wanted smoochies.”