“Can I… Talk to you?” The voice was tentative. At first, she wasn’t even sure she’d heard it. But slowly, Buffy turned from her cooking cheeseburgers and looked. There she stood.
At first, Buffy didn’t recognise her. Her hair hung limply, her clothes – it looked like she’d thrown on whatever she could find that moment and didn’t care what it was. And there wasn’t a drop of mascara in sight. Cordelia looked awful.
Buffy let a small smile pass across her face, “Cordelia, hey.” She said softly. “Uh, does Angel know you’re here?”
“No. I told him I was visiting my parents.”
“I’m due a break in ten minutes, want to wait?”
Cordelia nodded and smiled, going outside to sit on the small bench. When Buffy joined her, minutes later, she sat, her face upturned to the sun. “Cordelia?”
She turned and looked at Buffy, “Hey.”
“Hey… Uh, is there… Do you want to talk?”
Cordelia nodded. “Yup… I guess you could say this ‘rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play superhero but doesn’t have what it takes to do that vision thing’ has come back to her roots.”
“What?” Buffy looked at her, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, please, you must have been thinking it. I know he was.”
“He? Who, he?”
“Who, he? Angel, he.”
“Angel, h…” Buffy stopped, “Angel?”
Cordelia nodded, “Angel. It’s a long story…”
“This I’ve gotta hear…” Said Buffy, sighing. Somehow, she couldn’t imagine Angel saying that about her in any sense, not after the things she’d been through over the past couple of months.
“I’ve just called her parents house and she isn’t there.” Said Angel, grabbing his duster from the back of the door.
“Don’t you think…”
“I’m NOT jumping to conclusions, Wesley. Cordelia told me she was going to see her parents, she lied. I don’t know where she is or what she’s doing, but I will.”
“And how will you find out?” Asked Wesley.
“We’re detectives. I’ll detect.”
“Yeah, detectives in the loosest sense POSSIBLE of the word. Angel, maybe she was just freaked about her astral projection thingy…” Said Gunn, logically.
“She wouldn’t LIE to me.” Said Angel, frowning.
Wesley sighed, “Shall I come with you?”
“No, stay here in case she calls.”
Cordelia sighed, “And then he showed me Angel… Saying those horrid, awful things. I mean, I’d just seen a girl with the back of her head blown out did I *really* need to see Angel bashing me?” Asked the brunette, shaking her head.
“So, I made my decision, I chose my other life…” She whispered, “And it was bad in all kinds of ways I couldn’t imagine…”
“How?” Asked Buffy. The night sky looked like an endless expanse of black silk, sprinkled with silvery glitter. An owl screeched from a tree branch up above, making Buffy look up. Her shift at work had ended an hour ago, leaving Buffy and Cordelia to talk…
“Angel had the visions.” Said Cordelia softly, “And he was driven crazy by them… Wesley only had one arm and… I was a movie star, which sure was nice, I mean I had my own sitcom and everything… I even had a theme tune but… Nothing, NOTHING could have prepared me for seeing Angel like that.”
“He was crazy.” She whispered, “Driven insane by the visions. Sometimes… He even sent Wesley and Gunn out to save people he’d killed years before.”
Buffy winced, “Tough call… But… There’s a couple of things I don’t understand.”
“Fire away and I’ll try to answer them.” Said Cordelia, gently.
“Doyle passed the visions on to you through a kiss, does that mean that Angel and Doyle…”
“Something I never want to know.” Said Cordelia, shaking her head. “Next question.”
“How did you stop all this then? You said yourself you chose the other life…”
“I kissed Angel… And then things just… Went back to normal…”
“Like Doyle did with you?”
Cordelia nodded, “I think so… But… I still hear him saying those things and…”
Cordelia looked at her hands, “It was the exact same thing Angelus said. That I was weak… A spoiled little rich girl from Sunnydale, right before he…”
“Hey…” Buffy put her hand gently on top of Cordelia’s, “What did Angel say about all this?”
“You mean when I straight-forwardly asked him?”
“You didn’t ask him.”
Cordelia shook her head. “He saw me floating… And he had all the questions that I didn’t know how to answer…”
“Yeah, instead of pain, I get floating.” Said Cordelia, “Kinda cool, really…”
“Does Angel know?”
“That you float?”
“Wesley’s looking into it. I didn’t tell them about this…”
“Well, now would be the time…”
Buffy pointed. “Here comes Angel.” Oh yeah, it was Angel alright, extremely pissed off and covered in green demon goo…
“Ew!” Said Cordelia.
“EW?!” He yelled, “EWWW? Do you have any idea how worried about you I was? You could have been dead in a gutter somewhere or…”
“I told you I was visiting my parents!”
“Oh…” Cordelia was contrite, for about a second, “What, are you checking up on me still?”
“Because I don’t know what happened to you last night!” Said Angel, “I thought you were dead and then… In steps this theory of Astral Projection and YOU wouldn’t talk to me!”
“Because there were things I needed to figure out!”
“When I’ve figured them out, I’ll tell you, but not before.”
“Oh, like you’ve figured things out up to now?”
“Don’t…” She warned.
“Cordelia, we’ve talked about this…”
“Why not? You’ve given up, might as well let the whole world kn – “
Okay, so it hadn’t worked out as well as it should. She’d only slapped him across the face for God’s sake… It wasn’t that hard….
But then, there was a very stunned Angel having been flung five feet in the air, landed against a tree, staring at Cordelia, stunned, “What the hell is going on?” He growled